Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | September 8, 2011

Demographics

Demographics is much like economics in that everyone thinks they understand it and almost no one does. (Schools of economics are again/still teaching Keynesian clap trap which is little better than if the field of political science was teaching that Stalinism and National Socialism were the most effective sort of political system.) A few people do actual research while everyone else engages in wish-fulfillment. And I don’t necessarily mean describing what they wish were the case but wishing that what they are studying supported their world view–pessimistic or optimistic. La Raca in North America and the Muslim Brotherhood both share a gleeful view of masses of immigrants flooding north to completely transform the society they encounter there. Many in Europe and North America and share their view of where demographic trends are headed but with pessimism about it’s results. So all demographic information is evaluated, interpreted, accepted or rejected based on how well it conforms to the narrative that they have accepted as common sense.

Demographic transitions to lower fertility rates are seen as proof of Western decadence, failures of capitalism or the evils of secularism. The observation that changes in total fertility rates are artificially magnified by demographic conditions like rising ages for marriage and child bearing is not well received by either pessimistic northerners or optimistic southern ideologues (or northern ones in the case of India).

Assimilation is a forbidden concept for all. Pessimists don’t believe it can happen; optimistic imperialists see it as a racist counter offensive that can easily be stopped via piety and purity of ideology. Somehow they will convince other immigrants to remain as supposedly pure of ideology as they are even in the face of many benefits to assimilation. History shows that unless an incoming wave of migrants quickly establishes military control over the host society, it is impossible for them to assimilate that culture and will themselves be assimilated, even if they arrive in huge numbers. They may contribute to the culture they join but they won’t supplant it.

The fact that the supposedly threatening societies from the south are undergoing the same demographic transition as the north has, and faster, or that immigration is only high when there are jobs to attract immigrants (Mexican immigration, both legal and illegal is now at about net zero or lower), have little space in the discussion of demographic trends. But then the discussion of demographics rarely moves beyond the phrase “if this trend continues…”. Pity, that.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | September 8, 2011

On Halloween, I’m Dressing as Non-Ionizing Radiation

Occasionally a school principal or university president will make the news for banning Wi-Fi from their jurisdictions. It is always claimed to be out of health concerns for students and not because of efforts to save money on I.T. expenses. Let’s take them at their word for the purpose of limiting the scope of this post.

Now the academic field has accepted an insular and incestuous group of ideologues as the voice of climate science and accused skeptics as being “anti-science”. Yet the widely held (dare I say, consensus) opinion in medicine, that the non-ionizing radiation of cellphones and Wi-Fi signals (not to mention fields given off by electricity infrastructure) does not cause the health effects ascribed to them, is rejected out of hand.

The reason that Wi-Fi, cellphones, electricity and such are not believed to be harmful (especially in regards to cancers) is that:
A) The theory of electromagnetism does not currently support such effects.
B) The suggested effects can not be seen in proper, statistically sound research and rely on science’s dirty secret, meta-analysis–a methodology which can prove contradictory claims depending on “legitimate” choices made by the analysts.

So while these folk can easily dismiss skeptics of what passes for climatology in our culture as being “anti-science”, the scientific view on electromagnetism is denied by many without them being labeled as “anti-science”.

So let’s ignore science and try simple reasoning. Across this planet there have been rollouts of cellphones, Wi-Fi, electricity infrastructures and the like at varying orders and rates with some areas getting cell service long before electricity or other potential health hazards like industrial pollutants and such. More over, many of these technologies have gone from being virtually non-existent to being radiating beside our beds, next to our heads and across our yards in a very short time. Shouldn’t we expect the health effects of these technologies to have risen at such a rate and in such a clear distribution that the jiggery-pokery of meta-analysis would not be needed to demonstrate it? Even if the effects take years to manifest, shouldn’t the early adopters have seen a small but measurable spike in such health problems which does not require statistical manipulation to expose?

Deniers. Anti-science. Anti-intellectual. Who gets to sew these labels on people and views? Our cultural elite? The same people for whom Stalinism, antisemitism and Keynesianism are ideas worth one more try? Those guys? They should only be sewing counterfeit handbags in sweat shops so the kids there now could train for the jobs our elite now hold.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | September 8, 2011

Hey Mack, Got a Minute?

Psst. Hey bud.

Yah wanna be protected from your enemies and have all your needs provided for? You need a left-wing society man!!! All it takes is for you to belong to us. Everyone likes to feel they belong, right? Just follow our directions on what to say and do, let us claim to represent you. If your interests differ a bit from ours, keep it to yourself. If we find it advantageous we will turn on you with a ferocity that even our enemies don’t usually see. And they see a lot of our ferocity, let me tell you. But if you’re really playing on our team we won’t need to turn on you; you will belong to us.

What do you need to do to belong to us? The beauty of it is that you may already belong. Are you a woman? Black? Hispanic, Muslim, gay, a student, a worker (unionized, preferably)? Congratulations, you’re already ours. We’ll use information channels like schools, colleges, the news media and the entertainment industry to instruct you on what to think and say and do to better serve those to whom you belong. If you’re not one of the afore mentioned groups you can still get in and receive blanket immunity from charges of racism, misogyny and intolerance of all forms.

And remember, you get taken care of and provided for for life. The money to do this will come from those who unfairly sought to become more wealthy than the rest of the world by creating wealth and greedily keeping it for themselves. We’ll soon bring them back down by redistributing their wealth. And since people always want to create wealth, even if they don’t get to benefit from it, there will never be a lack of plunder. Once they are suitably humbled and brought down to a level playing field, we’ll continue on via credit from wealth foreigners. Soon all nations will follow our lead.

Things like education healthcare and food are fundamental rights which means they can only be provided by the state. Many cool societies have come close to implementing these ideas and have only been prevented from succeeding because of famine and because a few bad apples kept acting in their owns interests rather than that of their societies. Traitors! (spit)

So what do you say, wanna belong to the winning team? Don’t make us send the goons you racist, homophobic war-mongering fat cat.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | June 21, 2011

Some of Us Pledge Allegiance

The addition of the line “Under God” to the American Pledge of Allegiance was quite clever. It gives atheists/agnostics a choice between refusing to go with the crowd by proclaiming a belief they don’t hold or joining with their community in proclaiming their patriotism and loyalty to the nation. Effectively, one either puts on a scarlet ‘H’ teeshirt to proclaim their hypocrisy or put on the striped hat of disloyalty.

There are different ways to avoid the conflict of values. One can keep your beliefs hidden and be a closet hypocrite. One could could appear ‘militant’ and challenge the use of the pledge. One could simply avoid aspects of social life where the pledge is used: Boys Scouts, public service/community meetings, patriotic sex parties etc.

All of these options have the benefit of maintaining a distance between believers and infidel, either socially or physically (like I said, clever). And in the end, isn’t keeping people divided what religion, government and patriotic sex parties are all about?

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | March 7, 2011

No-Fly Zone, Eh? IT’S A TRAP!!!

Many inside and outside of Libya are discussing the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone for that nation. It would stop Qadaffi from bombing the people of Libya who have thrown off his rule but still suffer under his violence. It would keep Kaddafi from bringing in more Syrian jets to continue this bombing and it would slow the rate at which Gadaffi could bring in mercenaries from other African states to slaughter people on the ground.

Many Libyans have voiced opposition to any ground forces coming in to assist fighting what’s-his-names but they are somewhat interested in a no-fly zone for the reasons mentioned. I can see pros and cons to the concept but there is one important thing to remember. America should respond to any request from the UN, EU, AU or whatever, for America’s help in such a project with a hearty “Fec off, ya gobshites!!!”

It is not that the Libyans don’t deserve help against this monster. And America would benefit greatly from a democratic Libya. But no-fly zones are not just a matter of announcing one and shooting down all planes that disobey. It involves bombing everything that even resembles an anti-aircraft gun, a radar installation on a military runway. Some civilians will be killed. Every air-strike will have Qadaffi’s “people” and “journalists” from CNN and the Palestinian film actor’s guild swarming around planting burning Korans and stuffed animals all over the scene telling the compelling story about blood thirsty American forces taking vengeance against Libyan kids. The news media mugs get a narrative that they like and it will only take a bit of spin to pull the blame off Obama and spread it on to the war-mongering American nature that poor Obama and Democrats tried to resist but Rethuglians forced upon – blah, blah, evil corporations, blah, blah, blah.

In short, a no-fly zone may or may not be the right thing to do but America should not be sucked in to helping anyone with their military. No where, no how, no way.

Iraq under the Baathists and Afghanistan under the Taliban were two of the most totalitarian states of the modern era and the US had their own security self-interests in defeating them. They could have just knocked down the regimes and left but they took on the responsibility of reconstruction and ensuring democratic institutions were given a chance to succeed. And they will never be forgiven for this intervention. Think what they would have to live down when they use bombs against Gadaffi and friends – people whom our world’s cultural elite are forced by circumstances to condemn but secretly admire for his anti-American street cred and fashion sense.

Let the Turkish do it. Or the Russians. Hey, the Chinese are big on helping out in Africa; ask them.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | February 27, 2011

Taking Out the Trash; Not the Same as a Full Remodel

Egypt proves one of the points made by Natan Sharanski in “The Case For Democracy”. While he does not absolve dictators from blame, he recognizes that killing the head jackass does not mean final victory. As much as the rulers and elite alter the society of a fear state, that same fear state alters the rulers and elite. Mubarak is gone but dismantling the system he used to rule has barely begun. Cops still behave with incompetent impunity. The army does not interfere as they destroy documents that prove their crimes.

When Qadhafi is removed, there will be much cause for celebrating but freedom will take a lot longer to achieve.

Some states in this theater of revolution may even be hijacked by extremist groups who let the pro democracy folk do the heavy lifting of regime change – The old Iranian revolution is one example of this.

But at least, taking out the head of a fear state does go a long way to breaking its grip on their societies. I hope that enough of these revolutions go on to reform both nation and society so that the number of democratic nations in the world begins to climb again.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | February 21, 2011

Bureaucrazy

Once upon a time there was a corporate head office that felt that one or more employees of one of their local operations were not following an important store policy. The local manager and regional manager looked at the records and saw that the employees were following the policy and that the head office was making deductions based on an opinion about the merchandise that was in opposition to reality. Instead of launching a simple investigation (sending someone into the field to do the job they thought was being done wrong to see if the claims of the local management were true), head office assumed that they were right and put pressure on the local management to fix the “problem”. The local employees were bemused when they were told by management that they had better start doing what management could objectively tell them they were doing all along anyway. Meanwhile, a genuine problem that was causing the appearance of a fictional problem would not immediately be solved because head office did not believe it existed. Did I mention that the reason other locations were not coming up with this problem was that they were faking adherence to the policy in a way that would come back to bite them later on. Oddly enough, this is the second time in under a year that a problem with an almost identical nature had cropped up in regards to a brand new system being implemented.

The moral of the story is that while the private sector is infinitely superior to the public sector, it is still riddled with the bureaucratic ossification of human nature; it is an institutionalization of humanity’s psychological issues like denial, delusional and paranoid thinking, an inability to cope with exceptions to generalities, an inability to learn from past mistakes and an unwillingness to think long-term. When humans come together they become much more powerful than individual but they don’t transcend human nature.

The solution? Devise intelligent entities which lack human nature altogether. It is upper and middle management where A.I. will eventually yield some of the largest returns on investment. And think of the money we will save on comfy chairs and executive washroom cleaning.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | February 6, 2011

So Was This Ignorant Journalism or Sleazy Journalism

The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News published this story claiming that the Egyptian blogger and anti-Mubarak protester, Sandmonkey, was gay and protesting as a representative of the gay rights movement. If you know anything about his writings you would think that as funny as if they claimed he was from the lost continent of Atlantis. But then, when you remember that Egypt is in revolt, that Sandmonkey has already been beaten up for his high-profile criticism of the Mubarak regime, that Egypt is a nation in the Islamic world – not exactly known for wide-spread tolerance of homosexuality – it quickly becomes less funny. What would normally be another minor example of modern journalism having no interest in facts becomes a different sort of transgression.

Either they published a story which was completely mistaken about one of its primary pieces of content; an item which would have been incredibly easy to check and self-evidently in need of verification, or they usurped his efforts to make their audience feel noble about themselves while putting one extra target on Sandmonkey’s back and giving the opponents of the protests material to portray the movement as having a narrow political base. Many minorities and people from the majority are participating in the movement and that’s great but make sure the people you are using to represent a group, who will need to assume all the moral standing and risk of that representation, is actually a member of that group.

I would like to put this down to laziness by a “journalist” who heard a rumor and ran with it – which in these circumstances is disturbing enough. But the cynic in me says that they wanted to write about a gay activist being beaten up and couldn’t find one that fit the narrative so they stole a case of a secular critic of the regime and plastered the label of “gay” on him with no regard to the repercussions.

The only two questions are: which was it, laziness or dishonesty? And will they correct the article in a timely manner or leave it for a while then change the article or scrub it all together so know one knows what they did?

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | February 6, 2011

When You Come To a Fork in the Road…

Don’t just stand there forking yourself.

Some number of conservatives and libertarians in the non-leftist blogosphere are so concerned about Egypt falling under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood that they are actually rooting for Mubarak to stay and for the protesters to lose momentum and go home. Their concern is merited. There conclusion is not.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a group of fanatical, extremist theocrats (that makes them worse than the serene, moderate theocrats). They don’t just support terror, they actively spread it. And people are right to be concerned that they could gain more influence as a participant of government than they currently enjoy as the Egyptian state’s boogieman; nurtured with one hand and suppressed with the other. Many Egyptians respond that the MoBro are not supported by most Egyptians and that is true, but Western Mubarak supporters point out that one could argue the same thing about the Iranian revolution at the time, and while the MoBro themselves may not be widely supported, many of their extreme views such as favoring stoning for adultery, supporting war against Israel and demanding death for apostates are widely held by the public.

Other examples of popular uprisings or expressions of democracy in the Islamic world have ended badly. Palestinians in Gaza elected a vile and bloodthirsty terrorist group to be their government. Lebanon sold its soul to the Hezbollah. Turkey continues to move towards Islamic extremism and Iran continues to be the bitch of the clerics, even after 30 years of misrule and periods of huge popular uprising in recent years. And hey, al Qaeda just came out in support of the protests. That must mean that it is good for terrorists if Mubarak falls, right? And hey HEY, the leftist media is supporting the protests. That MUST mean that it is good for terrorists if Mubarak falls, right? Or at least, bad for America and Israel.

Not in this case, surprisingly. So why not support a secular dictatorship in Egypt to keep a lid on extremism and terrorism? Firstly, it has not worked so far. The MoBro has been kept out of politics in Egypt but this has not cramped its style. It continues to spread hate and fund terror all over the region and across the world. Secondly, secular dictatorships, while far from secular in practice, do manage to make secular government seem like a bad option. Even if a switch to an Islamic theocracy was guaranteed it would transfer responsibility for society’s ills to the theocrats. The West can not quickly or directly change how Islamic or secular a given nation becomes but it can avoid giving that society an opportunity to lay the blame for their extremism on the secular tyrant and the Westerners who prop it up. The Iranian people are not as pro-American as they are because they want to go back to a secular tyranny but because America stand up to the Government of Iran whom they hate (at least they have historically). Just as the nations of Eastern Europe often have a better understanding of capitalism and democracy than those Western nations which never saw the real problems with socialism, so the people of Iran are probably the least likely of all people in the Islamic world to want a religiously governed state.

If other non-theocratic tyrannies in the Islamic world fall into a state of theocratic totalitarianism, it is not going to take 30 years before the first stirrings of public unrest start to shake halls of power again. The tools that are organizing dissidents in Iran like cell phones, twitter, Internet technologies etc. are already on the ground and more are coming down the pipe. Yes, al Qaeda supported the protesters but the Palestinian thugs in office are supporting the Mubarak. They have a history of betting on the lamest horse in the race. Like when they supported Saddam.

Speaking of which, I remember when the argument for keeping a dictator in place to prevent chaos was used to try to make the removal of Saddam and his Baathist party seem like a reckless and foolish act. Funny how our comfort with extending rights to others changes based on whether we see an obvious advantage or disadvantage to ourselves in the deal.

Democracy comes with risks and giving power to individuals over their own affairs gives them all sorts of opportunities to harm themselves and us and others. But there is no other sustainable choice (until my super intelligent war bots are ready to take control). Let the people make their choices and let them feel all the consequences of those choices.

Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | February 5, 2011

Testing a Connection Between Twitter and the Blog

Hopefully this will put an update on Twitter when I post.

Update:

Hooray!!! It worked.

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