• America

    Comparisons not being made

    While 2018 seems to be the year that Godwin’s law became synonymous with “normal political discourse” – the more apt comparison seems to be to East Germany, or Brezhnev’s Russia, i.e. expensive, low-functioning, wanting desperately to have a purpose but not finding one worth working for and substituting that with hollow displays of virtue.  That and identification papers being a big deal.

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  • America

    Taking a knee, and the decline of American Communication

    Something I wrote on another email exchange

    Communication enhancing technology seems to have the effect of reducing our natural ability to communicate with each other – I guess they’re substitutes, not compliments.
    I do think Americans are largely losing the ability to have effective conversations with people even slightly different than them, as well as losing faith in their deeply held ideas.
    Quoting my own emails is the height of pretension, but I do find two of these ideas interesting, namely
    • Communication technology is a substitute for communication ability
    • We are losing faith in out ideas – even though we cling to them more tightly.

    It seems that we have no hope of convincing anyone else of our beliefs, either due a lack of faith in our abilities, or a lack of faith in the veracity of our beliefs.

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  • America,  Public Choice

    Maybe we’re so partisan because America is worse, or at least more difficult

    Five not thought through theories on why people are flocking to Trump, Clinton, Moore, etc, and movements based on hashtags

    • It is a natural reaction to either tribal identities getting more fun in the age of the internet/social media (we’re all performance artists now).  The tribal identity is improving relative to the American identity
    • The American identity is getting worse in the age of the internet, i.e. we’re closer to the bad parts, and we’re farther away from the good parts.  The “cost” of being American first (in Hoffer’s use of the term, and sort of my grandfather’s) has increased
    • The notion of  an “American” identity has hidden requirements, namely dispersed income growth (among other economic factors) that are no longer as strong
    • The notion of an “American” identity was a historical quirk caused by the world wars that is slowly washing away, leaving us with our regional differences
    • Identity politics is easy, and we’re just way lazier and sedentary than before.  Ideology requires work.

    Just some thoughts after reading this essay by Kevin Williamson, specifically

    The Republican party took the lead in seeing off both American slavery and worldwide Communism under the leadership of men including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. The most today’s Republican party can say for itself is: “You can’t prove our guy was a serial molester of adolescent girls! That’s up to the people of Alabama to decide.”

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  • America,  Links,  Tech

    Belated post

    • Bet On America

      The evidence for our nation’s downward spiral isn’t sufficient to rule out the very opposite possibility: that the United States will become, in purely geopolitical terms, even stronger in coming decades. The mistake we make is not so much overestimating our problems, but underestimating the problems of our potential rivals. We think we’re the only country with decline-and-fall issues.

      I’ll wager that many of the toughest challenges for Americans in the future won’t be associated with our geopolitical decline, weakness or decrepitude. No: Our challenges will be the unimagined consequences of our many successes.

    • A travelogue on East St Louis
    • Predictions from the year 1900 – a must read
    • Chart Controls
    • The economics of Scientology
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  • America,  Bill Buckley

    RIP Bill Buckley

    He passed away while working at home at the age of 82, which I’m sure is the way he would have wanted it.

    I saw him speak and started reading his books in my junior year of college. Now that I think about it, he gave a 90 minute speech with style, no notes and no missteps.

    I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts about it later, but for now, Rest in Peace.

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  • America,  Culture

    Adventures in profiling

    The New York Times wins the saggy pants headline contest with “The Boxer Rebellion“. It’s about the current mini-craze to outlaw thug-style fashion in some cities. I have no idea why we would want to outlaw this fashion statement. How you dress says a lot about a person, and in this case it says “I’m a ridiculous person who’s wasting my time, and I’ll probably waste yours”. Isn’t it better to know that in the two seconds it takes to see a person instead of the five minutes it might take talking to him?

    We should be encouraging this sort of behavior instead of outlawing it. This is America, and time is valuable.

  • America,  Health,  The Agitator

    Wisdom from the Agitator

    From his post on America and Life Expectancy

    The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates.

    The other factor here is that thanks to our access to medical technology, we’re more likely to try to save premature deliveries that in other countries would result in stillbirths or miscarriages. So every time an infant dies in the U.S. that would never have been born alive (or counted as born alive) in other countries, it registers as a life that died at the age of “zero.” That’s a pretty significant downward-tug on the national life expectancy.

    I’d actually like to see where we rank in average life expectancy from, say, the age of 30 or 35 onward. I couldn’t find any such data, but it seems to me that would factor out much of the homicide problem, would negate the problems with how we measure infant mortality, and would probably result in a better showing for the U.S.

    All quite true.

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