November 2007


Via Auster, I find that Michael H. Hart has made Understanding Human History freely downloadable here. Auster’s review is here, Sailer’s is here, Tyler Cowen compares Greg Clark’s Farewell to Alms to it here and Arnold Kling discusses it here.

Just finished the book. Hart is not as good a writer as Diamond, making his book come of as “just a bunch of stuff that happens”. His comparison of the New World to sub-Saharan Africa is an excellent attack on Diamond’s theories though. I was surprised by how little time he spent on his own people, the jews (and more specifically Ashkenazi) given that in the final chapters he declares that his thesis is about peoples with high IQs and jews are at the top of that heap. It is also interesting that jews violate his general rule of higher IQ peoples coming from the north (not only were jews originally just a normal semitic people from the middle east, but they cluster with southern europeans genetically). It is also interesting how little attention he pays to the Industrial Revolution compared to Greg Clark who considers it “the one event that happened in history”, to put it most crudely. There is a lot of information in the book I didn’t know before, some of which is just his conjecture but still interesting conjecture, and if you wanted all of human history in one book you could do worse.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said “When fascism returns it will be in the guise of opposition to fascism”. This isn’t restricted merely to banning political parties from participation, as was the case with Vlaams Blok (I don’t think there is necessarily a libertarian position on that as long as they can freely associate and congregate but the right to political participation is the same for everyone: no right at all). Going further, many oppose the core value of free speech, justifying mob violence against people invited to speak on private property on the basis of having opinions so awful no one should be allowed to hear them. In Canada you cannot even speak out by declaring the enforcers of the thought-police to be “enemies of free-speech” or referring to “dissidents” “dragged to court”. (VERY LATE UPDATE: More from Volokh on that, including how the Canadian Supreme Court let that stuff pass)

America has historically had relatively free-er speech, with incidents like the Sedition Act (a specific case of which the Volokh gang discuss here) and the measures taken against opponents of the first world war being anomalous exceptions. Today under the Patriot Act we do have significant curtailing of free speech rights, but not of the thought-police sort but of the cover-our-ass sort. I dissagree with judge Andrew Napolitano on legal positivism vs natural rights and I don’t care much for the right to privacy but he is right that not being allowed to tell anyone about police searches, including lawyers that could take action against it, is obscene. Unfortunately we are a nation of sheep and will remain so. Fortunately, apathy also applies big time to the environment.

I’m probably going to be too busy to waste as much time on blogs as I have recently. Maybe in two weeks or so I’ll be back to normal. That means the white supremacists and anti-semites I’ve been arguing with here and here will have to wait patiently for discourse to resume, or take my silence as an admission of defeat (they are super-good at inferring hidden motives behind actions or lack thereof). Mencius and I couldn’t keep up our united judeo-conspiracy front and wound up arguing about Israel (mtraven seemed more on my side, so that’s 1 whole jew versus a half), and in lieu of making any more points I would instead like to link to the latest bloggingheads segment between Gershom Gorenberg in Israel and Khaled Dawoud of al Jazeera in New York. Pay attention to Gershom’s characterization of the mainstream position in Israeli politics, Mencius.

At EconLog Brad DeLong’s comments about IQ not being able to explain why rich parents have rich kids (prompting Fabio Rojas to say DeLong had discovered sociology) sparked the following from commenter Dr. T

DeLong’s argument shows ignorance of biology and statistics. The reason we do not see regression to the mean with IQ is that human procreation is not random. Few high IQ people have children with partners of below average IQ. If a person with a 140 IQ marries a person of 130 IQ, the likelihood that their child will have a 100 IQ is less than 5% (unless there is premature birth or brain damage).

I’m not an expert, but that sounded wrong to me. I said this in reply:

Even with non-random mating, we should still expect regression to the mean. If Andre Agassi marries Venus Williams, their kids are probably not going to be as good at tennis as they were, even though they will likely be better than average. Both people are flukes, statistically unlikely outliers in the field (by that I mean tennis ability in the general population). In the random pairing of genes that will produce their children, it is unlikely lightning will strike yet again (though I admit that did basically happen with both Venus and Serena giving their folks a perfect batting average).

If people reading this are familiar with the concept, have I given an accurate description of how regression to the mean works?

I haven’t read his book, but I yack about it a lot anway. I’m watching it right now, I’ll discuss my thoughts when I finish.

Some thoughts before then: Brin, who has a somewhat lefty anti-elitist progressive-populist (by those latter terms I mean he sees the lot of The People having improved over time as the nobility were crushed) streak to him, has suggested that rather than trying to limit government libertarians should seek to make it transparent. I have less faith in the people. Letting people know what pork a Congressman puts in makes him more popular with his constituents. He is also worried about gerrymandering, which along with supposedly hacked Diebolds, failed to be anywhere near as crippling to Democrats as they imagined in the 2006 midterms and to debunk another myth do not cause polarization. I think easier access to information in general is good, but I don’t expect it to achieve libertarian goals. When many people hear about the awful things the government does, they cheer.

UPDATE: Wow, I would not want to have been in Jim Pinkerton’s position putting up with Brin. A lesser righty would have tried to match the shouting and hyperbole, though I do think Jim dwells a bit too much in the past. For all David’s hatred of the actions of the Bush administration, it turns out (thanks to one of the commenters at bloggingheads) he supported their biggest blunder. Another “libertarian” Iraq hawk of the type Bryan Caplan is puzzling over here.

Via Sandefur I find that Tom DiLorenzo (author of a paper I just can’t stop plugging called The Myth of Natural Monopoly) has changed a Lewrockwell blog entry smearing the Cato institute, possibly because of an e-mail I sent him. DiLorenzo never replied, so I can’t know for sure. Here is what I sent

I prefer LRC and LvMI to Cato, but I think you can go overboard in your criticism of them. I didn’t read the Ted Galen Carpenter piece because you didn’t link to it, but reading their cato-at-liberty blog seems to make it evident that they prefer (although I think it is their position never to officially come out in favor of any candidate, which helps keep them tax-exempt) Ron Paul and don’t care for neo-con hawks. Going to Cato.org I found http://cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8798 by Ted Galen Carpenter which has nothing positive to say about Thompson. In addition, I think making up nicknames like “STATO” for institutions you dislike only serves to make your criticism look childish and dismissable. When Cato screws up, like with the Canadian drug importation bill, I think it is useful for other libertarian organizations to correct them, but I don’t think that criticism will get the attention it deserves unless the people who give it act like adults.

As long as I’m on the subject, here is an e-mail I sent Sandefur on Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams replying to this post, though I don’t know if this was ever read either.

I read your post on Ron Paul at your blog. I assume you get lots of rambling angry mail from his supporters, but this one will be short and civil. Paul and McAdams are not alone on the fringe in their suspicion of “freedom” or “color” movements in eastern europe and/or central asia. Just today Reason Hit & Run had a story on the repression of the “Rose Revolution” government of Georgia. Libertarians hostile to the creepy paleos of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell Center can also oppose many of the laws concerning gay marriage that Ron Paul does on strict libertarian grounds. His position in the separation of church and state isn’t necessarily anti-libertarian or dominionist, but rather in his view adhering to the written Constitution. I myself am an atheist (and of the Max Stirner variety denouncing other atheists for insufficient atheism) and I think he is correct. We do not have to claim that the Constitution separates Church and State while advocating it, just as we do not have to ignore its denial of the vote to women and a host of rights to African-Americans.

Hopefully by preventing libertarians from granting near-divine status to the Constitution (which Ron Paul is guilty of) we can rehabilitate the reputation of the anti-federalists who opposed its adoption.

Via Positive Liberty I came across this interview with Ron Paul on John Gibson’s radio show. It was nice to hear him explicitly repudiate Alex Jones and the 9/11 “Truthers”, but I was also interested when he said after the attacks he introduced a bill in the I.R committee that would restrict immigration from terrorist countries (after it passed the House the Bush Administration got rid of it). (more…)

Peter Frost, author of Fair Women, Dark Men. The Forgotten Roots of Color Prejudice, has a post discussing recent selection in proto-industrial Europe. He discusses the ideas of Greg Clark, Charles Murray and Greg Cochran and differences in selection by region and occupation. It seemed to me that his representation of Charles Murray’s view of the evolution of jewish intelligence was inaccurate. In his Commentary article Murray claims that the jewish religion had always placed high intellectual demands on its adherents. Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending sent a letter to the editor
disagreeing with Murray’s view, saying that pre-diaspora jews were not considered especially intelligent and modern Sephardics have considerably lower IQs than the Ashkenazi, bolstering the case for recent selection in Europe due to their restriction from less cognitively demanding occupations. Frost claims, contra “Murray”, that 19th century Algerian jews did not seem to significantly differ in their occupations from 18th century Polish ones, but this seems more a critique of the Cochran/Harpending position.

Frost’s position is that occupations can differ in their effect on selection in different situations. He points to the “Yankee” farmers of New England, who were regarded as quick-thinking and possessing of literacy and education. Albion’s Seed noted that these people generally came from a small Puritan dominated region of England around East Anglia, while the Scots-Irish rednecks of the Appalachians came from the uncivilized borderlands of northern England and Scotland and northern Ireland (my own Scot ancestor from northern Ireland immigrated well after the Scottish enlightenment and arrived in the Minnesota, sparing me from any redneck relations) and the “Cavaliers” of the gentlemanly south came from southern England (the last group in Fischer’s book is the Quakers who came from the Scandinavian settled industrial midlands of England and settled in the Mid-Atlantic regions and later the Midwest, along with a sizable number of Dutch and Germans). I note this distinction here because Frost goes on to say that

In Western Europe, these cottage industries were located in areas like Ulster, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Brittany, Flanders, Alsace, Westphalia, Saxony, the Zurich uplands, the Piedmont and Lombardy. In Eastern Europe, they were concentrated among Ashkenazi Jews. Selection for intelligence among the Ashkenazim may thus have been part of a larger European-wide selection for intelligence among cottage industry workers.

I already knew that in America IQ increases with proximity to Canada (this isn’t a simple red-state blue-state thing, the northern mountain states have better standardized test scores than California) . This got me thinking about whether that difference preceded migration to America, to what extent it has developed since then, and if people in the regions Frost mentions currently have higher IQs than their neighbors. Also, is DNA testing good enough to tell you if you came specifically from those regions? Sure, you’re less likely to find genes affecting IQ comparing Zurich uplands to lowlands than you are comparing Japanese to Aborigines, but inquiring minds want it studied anyway.

And now for something not completely but significantly different:

Richard Lynn has claimed that males have higher mean IQ than females, but most of what I read takes the position that males just have higher variance and that they tend to be more visuo-spatially oriented while females more verbally oriented. Interestingly enough, the two standout high IQ populations are east Asians and Ashkenazi jews, with the former being more gifted visuo-spatially and the later verbally (which is why there are surprisingly few jewish cinematographers in Hollywood). Now Chris at Mixing Memory has a post discussing a study that raised female performance in visuo-spatial tasks to parity with males by having them play first-person shooters (my preference for text-adventures is I suppose just another way in which I am a disgrace to my gender). Chris mentions that the female disadvantage in visuo-spatial ability may account for their underrepresentation in math. That struck me as odd, because Ashkenazi jews are considerably over-represented in math with their verbal IQs apparently sufficient to boost them to the top. I’m sure there are plenty of geeks who will clamor for encouraging girls to play FPSs with them, but I don’t think it will increase representation of women at the top tiers of math/science fields in academia.

As you may have heard, Rhodesia’s former Prime Minister, Ian Smith, has died. The New York Times has a decent obituary and Mencius Moldbug wrote a poem in his honor that I don’t think much of but if you’re into that sort of thing you might disagree. I personally prefer Mukui Waruiru’s The Failure of Democracy in Africa which was written before Smith’s death.

I was happy to find that Google Video now has the Battle of Algiers up. I give thanks to filfil.net for uploading it. I was trying to remember how to download movies from Google Video and remembered that their page for Africa Addio had instructions. Unfortunately Google no longer hosts it so I had to go to the Internet Archive to read that I should go to keepvid.com and hope to find a subtitle file somewhere. However, the .avi option didn’t work so I had to download the .flv version and then download the Riva FLV Encoder to convert it to avi, which unlike Africa Addio combines the subtitles and video together (I had to use Mux for the other). It is possible that Google will also take down the Battle of Algiers, so I will provide both that and Africa Addio (along with its subtitle files) at fileho.com because wordpress.com doesn’t allow me to upload certain formats.

UPDATE: file.com isn’t cooperating, so for now I might just try uploading Africa Addio to google video again. If there’s another video-hosting service you recommend, let me know in the comments.

UPDATE 2: Africa Addio is now up, but without subtitles. I will try to add them later.

UPDATE 3: The subtitles have been added, and now it seems there was already another copy on Google Video. Oh well.

I mainly read Vox Day to laugh. For a fundamentalist Christian he can be quite crude and insulting. So I was surprised to find that Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis (the name wasn’t his idea), agreed to an interview with him. Check it out.

I’ve been delinquent in responding to comments and posting recently because I haven’t had access to a computer for a bit. I read Jeremy Lott’s “In Defense of Hypocrisy” on Friday and I’ll have a review up in a bit. For now, more e-mails to Auster that went unpublished. (more…)

For such a successful political movement (the Tories and Lib-Dems are apparently even more adept than the Democrats at sabotaging themselves), Blair’s New Labour is awfully unpopular. Here is a round-up of gripes.

Kevin Carson reviews Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back by Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance and The End of Politics: New Labour and the folly of managerialism by Chris Dillow of the heterodox economics blog Stumbling and Mumbling. Is this hope of a left-right synthesis that could chuck out the Establishment? I cynically say no, but there’s much to enjoy there.

British academic Fabian Tassano regularly trashes the current zeitgeist at his blog and in his book Mediocracy, which Mencius Moldbug discussed here. I don’t know about the book, but the blog’s running gimmick is to have a comparison of the old definition of a term and the Newspeak perversion of it that reigns today. His perspective is a right-libertarian one that is more than a tad resentful of the mantle of the term “liberal” having been stolen from its noble tradition.

If you think Tassano is over the top in his denunciation of the status quo, you probably don’t read Lawrence Auster who has been proclaiming that England is dead for some time. He adds though that it is “a spiritual death, which is potentially reversible, not a physical death, which is irreversible” though. As I am not in any sense an essentialist and don’t believe in a “spiritual” anything, much of what Auster says is meaningless to me. It appears to be symmetric, as Auster told me our different perspectives of epistemology make fruitful discussion impossible. Unlike the other folks mentioned here (Carson and Moldbug excepted) he doesn’t actually live there.

The best possible view is from within the bowels of the dysfunctional bureaucracies themselves. Some similarly named books out (both discussed here in the Guardian) are Wasting Police Time: The Crazy World of the War on Crime by the pseudonymed P.C David Copperfield (blog here) and It’s Your Time You’re Wasting: A Teacher’s Tales of Classroom Hell by the pseudonymed inner-city schoolteacher Frank Chalk (blog here). I haven’t read any of the books mentioned, but the stories you can find online from them are quite good, especially if you like the writings of Theodore Dalrymple. A gem in that genre not from England but from Mr. Dalrymple’s publication is How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million by Joshua Kaplowitz. It’s nice to have such examinations of mundane foibles to contrast with jeremiads like John Gray’s Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (reviewed here in the Guardian again).

Finally, for the crude sexist misogynists out there there’s the Eternal Bachelor blog, which regularly rails against “the Matriarchy” which is basically the same thing as Moldbug’s Universalism in British form, Tassano’s Mediocracy and everything everyone else hates. It’s the reverse situation of Bob Black’s Anarchism Problem where all anybody can agree on is the name for what they hate (in Bob’s case it’s work).

Oh, and as long as I’m on the subject, one of the few places to have an enduring Stirnerite anarchist movement is Glasgow, whose history is described in this interview.

I thought I would tinker around with the generic header by combining Normal Rockwell’s famous Freedom of Expression painting with one of those photos in London after the Muhammad cartoons saying “FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION GO TO HELL”, and the result was the following.
(more…)

Here, after some initial rambling. One of the wrongest things I can think of. I left a comment but it wasn’t very in-depth. People more familiar with the situation are encouraged to leave comments of their own over there.

William Saletan, who I last linked to when he advocated lowering the age of consent, now points out studies showing that becoming sexually active earlier and smoking pot rather than contributing to delinquency are more likely to make you a well adjusted member of society. I’ve already got the warning signs of being a godless gun-lover who likes talking about evolution, so does this mean I’m about to start popping caps? No, the study controls for genes predisposing one to risk-taking by examining identical twins. I don’t have those genes, so I probably will continue to live boringly. In the same link Saletan stumps for hbd truth in the wake of the Watson affair and possibly that NYT story, links to stories of robots controlled by small animals and small animals controlled like robots (I don’t care much for the Transformers, but I still that’s really cool) and encroaches on the divine right of us skinny bastards to trash fat bastards. In related internet-news, at The Fourth Checkraise my fellow godless rightie Ilkka Kokkarinen sticks up for making fun of those who enjoy themselves more than us with a few snide comments and a bunch of vaguely related links.

I’m a bit late in pointing this out, but the New York Times has dipped its dainty foot into the scary waters of hbd. In the article they quote GNXP’s Jason Malloy (who has perhaps the best post on the Watson controversy here) as well as Half Sigma. Mencius Moldbug called it “epochal” and in the reaction at GNXP Godless Capitalist (aka gc, who had been AWOL for some time) agreed. I’m holding off on the champaign, as one demure NYT article does not a revolution in paradigms make. What I found interesting was how hopeless gc seemed in the comments here at 2Blowhards. His diagnosis was that the West was doomed, and advised those with foresight to “Go East, young man”. I’ve sometimes thought about that, but it was usually idle speculation and my imagined destination was generally another western country (Ireland, Australia, Switzerland if I can brush up on my German). (more…)

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