A new decade?

January 2, 2020

Does 2020 start a new decade, or does the decade actually start next year? I answer with a firm “yes.”

It depends on if you’re using ordinal numbers or cardinal numbers. 2020 is the last year of the second decade of the twenty-first century (and of the third millennium) but it’s the first year of the 2020s. Similarly, 2000 was the last year of the twentieth century and of the second millennium, but the first of the 2000s.

Of course, you could always just appeal to authority.

Even worse…

December 30, 2019

than Hitler?

Hackable tests

December 7, 2019

Paul Graham wrote one of the early web stores (in Lisp) and sold it to (if I remember correctly) Yahoo! (The exclamation point is part of the name, for those of you who are too young to remember.) (They ended up rewriting the web store in Java, because it’s a lot easier to hire Java programmers.) He used the money to found Y Combinator, a company that funds and mentors startups. He occasionally writes interesting essays, like this: The Lesson to Unlearn.

I tried to find a quote to extract, but you really need to read the whole thing.

Smart people

December 3, 2019

The Best People

And that might be the big divide in our country between right and left. Beyond everything else, beyond the screaming and throwing things, the left believes in “Top Men Women” who can design and carry out utopia.

Heaven knows why. I don’t. It is impossible for me to understand why their belief comes from, and I must assume it’s from “assumptions, half digested information and wishful thinking.” I’d also blame the unified media of the 20th century for hiding a lot of the cock ups that “top people” have made on the way to success.  I think WWII set us in this idea that government COULD run things, because people didn’t know (and many still don’t) of all the slips betwix the cup and the lip.  But who knows? The reason could be completely different.

The right, in the US, largely doesn’t believe in “Smart People.”  We know they exist. We just repose no trust in them.  The fact that the media has for decades been depicting as “Smart” people whose conclusions and ideas we were forced (from some life event usually) after examination to consider simplistic and borderline inane, doesn’t help us believe in “smart people.”

So in the end we’re stuck screaming across the divide “We would love perfect and free health care; yes, we think some people would greatly benefit from not having to worry about the daily bread, so they could create great things; yes, we’re all for improving the lot of the homeless and the addicted; yep, sure, some people are rolling in undeserved and misappropriated wealth.

It’s just that we think when we let anyone, smart or dumb try to fix that stuff, what we get is systems where bureaucrats prevent parents from saving their child’s  life; universal income that disincentivizes 90% of recipients from trying to work and reduces them to the level of pets or prisoners of their vices; turns major cities into open sewers that are not safe to walk in, lest you be attacked by a feral human; strips all incentive from the hardest working, most productive people in a society and leaves everyone in equal poverty.”

In other words, we yell across the divide “Yes, yes, we would all love paradise. But we don’t think it can happen, and certainly not in a planned model. The lurching chaotic system of everyone looking out for their own individual interests (which they know better than everyone else) has done better than VERY Smart People TM planning in their lofty towers.

As the saying goes, “read the whole thing.”

Panglossian

November 20, 2019

Just because an idea is easy to mock doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Leibniz’s argument for why this is the best of all possible worlds was, essentially, that since God loves us, if a better world were possible God would have created it instead of this one. Since I know that God does, indeed, love us, I find it hard to refute that argument.

But also consider some of the alternatives. Suppose there were no sorrow: how would we know what joy is? Suppose we never made bad choices: that could only mean we didn’t really have a choice. Life would be pretty meaningless.

God loves us so much that He gave us a world where we could experience sickness and health, highs and lows, joys and sorrows. He loves us so much that he lets us make meaningful choices, even though that means we often make bad choices. And He gave us His Son, so that if we turn to him the worst consequences of our choices can be overcome by His Grace.

Experts

November 19, 2019

One of the clear lessons of the first two decades of this century is that many of those touted as experts don’t really know all that much.

Impeachment

October 2, 2019

Impeachment is regime suicide

Trump is no ideologue or political theorist, but he launched a comprehensive attack on the domestic and international liberal order. He campaigned against the system as it has existed since the Cold War ended.​

Trump’s enemies are not just the left, they are the ancien regime. Anyone who supports the political and economic dispensation of the post-Cold War era is apt to feel threatened by Trump and even more menaced by what stands behind him — a growing anti-consensus, a force that declares every center of power in this country illegitimate and antithetical to the well-being of the people.

In fact, for most Republicans, certainly at the grassroots, the voice of conscience and their sense of decency command them to support Trump, in spite of his sins, against an absolutely illegitimate and malevolent regime.

Impeachment is a regime counter-attack against a man elected to bring about change. ​And while impeachment is certainly constitutional, it is an elite procedure not a democratic one. The prestige media has passed the first judgment on whether it’s warranted in this case. (It is, they say.)

Legitimacy is bleeding away from American politics and society, and Trump is a symptom not the cause. The cause is the folly of America’s leadership class as a whole. Electing Trump was the public’s way of impeaching that class.

I suggest you read the whole thing.