The Case for Manners

I think that codes of manners also can be used to convey respect for others. You are telling people, including strangers, that you conduct yourself with them in mind.

I believe that restraint in the use of four-letter words used to serve this purpose, and it could once again serve this purpose. This puts me at odds with my fellow Baby Boomers and those who came after.

Source: The Case for Manners | askblog


All of MY SIDE’s references and statements are to be taken in the coolest, hip-ironic, culturally aware, benign-metaphorical way possible; all of YOUR SIDE’s references and statements are to be taken in the most mindlessly literal, threatening way possible.

Any charge against MY SIDE requires exquisite legally admissible proof of its accuracy; WHEREAS, any charge against YOUR SIDE must be true if it was asserted by anyone, anywhere.

People on MY SIDE are responsible only for what they said personally, in full-quotation context; BUT, people on YOUR SIDE are responsible for the inferred implications of anything said by anyone who ever held any idea vaguely similar to what your people think.

(Edited for brevity and flow.) Source: THE NEW REFORM CLUB: Judge Boggs

“Smart” Is No Better Than “Strong”

Higher-than-average intelligence doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, any more than being taller, or faster, or stronger does. What it often does, however, is allow others to convince you that you should be something different than you are, or than you want to be. Even worse, it gives you the ability to successfully rationalize away your failures, to both yourself and others.

Nassim Taleb says something similar. Too often, “being smart” makes you better at rationalizing, not better at being rational. How much the worse if you make “being smart” part of your identity. (File under “being smart is overrated.”)

Source: Vox Popoli: Always an excuse.

The Iron Law of Evaluation

The The Iron Law of Evaluation (Rossi, 1987) is that the expected value of any net impact assessment of any large scale social program is zero.

Why does this happen? The simple answer is that in a largely-rich, largely-free country, with many existing (if confusing) private and public supports for low-income people, it’s just as easy to screw things up than to make things better, no matter how much you spend.

Source: The Iron Law – spottedtoad

Pournelle on Trump and the “Conservative” Label

A great number of Americans had just got used to the notion that they were conservative, and they thought they were being conservative in supporting someone who wanted to make America great again, control the borders, stop policing the world (and if we have to keep doing it, get some other beneficiaries of the expenditure of American blood and treasure to start contributing their fair share, a real portion of their GDP not just token amounts), appoint original intent Justices to the Supreme Court — well, you know. Put American interests first. Really. With a realistic foreign policy. And if we have to fight a war, then fight it, with enough force to win and win fast and then get out, the way we always have. Didn’t we do that in four years, going from essentially no army at all, and while we were at it becoming the “arsenal of democracy” whatever that means, and doing that in two years? While coming out of a Depression, for heaven’s sake. But, we’re told, that’s not conservative, that’s something else.

So a lot of people are confused. Having been read out of the conservative movement for being insufficiently enthusiastic about globalism, I didn’t figure I owed any obedience to the label, and apparently there are a lot of Americans who feel the same way. I’d say I was for liberty, but that sounds like a liberal, and I know I’m not part of the liberal movement. Whatever I am, I know that Federal aid to education has been a disaster and we had far better schools when it was left to the states, some of whom competed to have schools run to serve the interests of the students, not the interests of the teachers’ unions. But it’s very much in the interest of the ruling class to have awful schools and to keep the price of good ones high; their kids generally don’t go to public schools anyway.

Remember the Northwest Ordinance? Probably you don’t. Or the Land Grant colleges and universities? Can you recall when public state colleges were essentially free to those qualified to be in them? I suspect nostalgia for those days is reactionary, not conservative.

But I also remember when Detroit was the symbol of productivity, and the enemies of America had the goal ending that.

Source: Working on fiction; NSS Acceptance Speech; Trump and the neocons; And a lot more. – Chaos Manor – Jerry Pournelle

The Quakers Tolerated Themselves Out Of Existence

But by 1750, the Quakers were kind of on their way out; by 1750, they were a demographic minority in Pennsylvania, and by 1773 they were a minority in its legislature as well. In 1750 Quakerism was the third-largest religion in the US; by 1820 it was the ninth-largest, and by 1981 it was the sixty-sixth largest. What happened? The Quakers basically tolerated themselves out of existence. They were so welcoming to religious minorities and immigrants that all these groups took up shop in Pennsylvania and ended its status as a uniquely Quaker society. At the same time, the Quakers themselves became more “fanatical” and many dropped out of politics believing it to be too worldly a concern for them; this was obviously fatal to their political domination. The most famous Pennsylvanian statesman of the Revolutionary era, Benjamin Franklin, was not a Quaker at all but a first-generation immigrant from New England. Finally, Quakerism was naturally extra-susceptible to that thing where Christian denominations become indistinguishable from liberal modernity and fade into the secular background.

Source: Book Review of Albion’s Seed by Slate Star Codex

Why Wasn’t I Consulted?

(Greatly condensed from the original, which you should read in its entirety; all emphasis in original.)

I like to think about media in terms of questions answered.

Like other media (the web) has a question that it answers better than any other. That question is:

Why wasn’t I consulted?

“Why wasn’t I consulted,” which I abbreviate as WWIC, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.

WWIC is the thing people talk about when they talk about nicer-sounding things like “the wisdom of crowds” or “cognitive surplus.” It has become the first thing I think about when I think about the web. I start by asking: “How do we deal with the WWIC problem?” Everything else comes after.

The obvious example of WWIC at work is Wikipedia, created for free by unpaid labor. It tapped into the basic human need to be consulted and never looked back.

Once you see [thumbs-up/thumbs-down icons so that you can rank the comments], a website is complete. You’re down to the bedrock. A boolean or integer value is the digital equivalent of a grunt. You can’t get any more basic than a like, or a thumbs-up, or a favorite.

Source: The Web Is a Customer Service Medium (

The Mind of the Left From an Insider

The victim narrative of the Left is very infectious. You are always the victim and you are always owed something. The wealthy are always evil, while you are always good and wholesome. Converts are often more intense than those born into it. My father, raised a leftist, eventually mellowed and began to question some leftist beliefs. My mother, not raised a leftist, but having become one, never mellowed.

The victim narrative was in every conversation.

The class struggle/oppressed victim narrative is part of daily life on the Left. As a child, I would listen to adults talking. With friends and co-workers, with mothers chatting over tea, it was part of every conversation. They would talk about the weather, their kids, television, but before parting, one of them would always say something relating to the greedy oppression of the rich — and the other had to agree. To not agree was social suicide.

While there were differences between working-class and middle-class leftists, certain attitudes were universal:When a leftist has never worked, they feel very generous toward anyone who claims to need help, who fits the narrative. They are generous with their emotions.

Emphasis in original. Source: The Mind of the Left From an Insider | Frontpage Mag

The Quran’s deadly role in inspiring Belgian slaughter

Muhammad’s message featured violence with increasing intensity, culminating in surah 9, chronologically the last major chapter of the Quran, and its most expansively violent teaching. Throughout history, Muslim theologians have understood and taught this progression, that the message of the Quran culminates in its ninth chapter.

Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45). If they do fight, they are promised one of two rewards, either spoils of war or heaven through martyrdom. Allah has made a bargain with the mujahid who obeys: Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits (9.111).

Muslim thought leaders agree that the Quran promotes such violence. Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, has said, “We Muslims must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. … Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation & other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Quran). … Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.” In other words, Muslims must depart from the literal reading of the Quran in order to create a jihad-free Islamic world.

This is not at all to say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims do not live their lives based on chapter 9 of the Quran or on the books of jihad in the hadith. My point is not to question the faith of such Muslims nor to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims. Rather, I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.

Source: The Quran’s deadly role in inspiring Belgian slaughter: Column

In Praise Of Meritocracy, With Caveats

I want the clever, hard-working children of those in the bottom half of income distribution to move up, and the less able children of those in the top half to move down.

In other words, I think the answer is more meritocracy. I approve of the principle for the same reason my father disapproved of it, because it helps to secure people’s consent to the inequalities that are the inevitable consequence of limited government. It does this by (a) allocating wealth and prestige in a way that appears to be fair; and (b) creating opportunities for those born on the wrong side of the tracks, so if you start with very little that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with very little, or that your children will. If you think a free society is preferable to one dominated by the state, and the unequal distribution of wealth is an inevitable consequence of reining in state power, then you should embrace the principle of meritocracy for making limited government sustainable.

This sentence also appears: “If the history of the twentieth century teaches us anything, it is that the dream of creating a socialist utopia often leads to the suppression of free speech, the imprisonment of a significant percentage of the population and, in some extreme cases, state-organised mass murder.”

Source: The Fall of the Meritocracy — Quadrant Online