September 2007


This paraphrased title brought to you by obediah. He wasn’t talking about literal rape and childhood, but here we are.

It was first Radley Balko’s blog that brought this from William Saletan from Slate to my attention. In it the human-nature pundit discusses how age-of-consent laws lock up young adults not yet capable of the emotional maturity to behave as we would like in their actions with those who are treated as adults by their biology but as children by the law (cue John Derbyshire on the difference between ephebophilia and pedophilia). As Balko notes, there is slim chance of the laws being changed to reflect this. There’s a reason the Simpsons’ line “Won’t somebody think of the children!?” sounds familiar. It is also the case, as Saletan admits, that there is no clear line for legislators to make that separates people into distinct groups. I have previously stated that I would like to see the young incarcerated merely because I dislike them (being young myself, armchair psychologists will likely call “projection”), but I do not mean this seriously. Part of being a libertarian is recognizing that public policy is not a fantasy story in which you may enact your whims, especially the more spiteful ones. I do not have much in the way of suggestions for dealing with the young, only gratitude that I am not responsible for any myself.

On from statutory rape of the young to full-on violent rejection of the necessity of consent. The first in a series of posts from the print edition of the Hoover Hog is called Writing About Prostitutes. It’s not all that accurate a title, as only the ending section about Wendy McElroy’s “XXX” really discusses them. Most of it is about rape and pornography. If you expect issue #4 of Jim Goad’s “Answer Me!” to pop up, you’ve done your homework. The first part concerns Andrea Dworkin, whose detection of rape everywhere she looked has been mocked to no end. Chip Smith’s approach is more along the lines of John Dolan. There is sympathy and pity for her, along with the standard “don’t agree with her” disclaimer which is not the standard feminist triangulation to acceptable center of discourse but a diagnosis of her ideas being those of a sadly deranged person. The main course is on Peter Sotos, a transgressive writer and the first person convicted for possession of child pornography. He called his publication “Pure” because it contained the most extreme first-person accounts of sadistic violence and depravity without any justification or ass-covering. It was because of this that police and psychiatrists were convinced he must have engaged in some of the acts described. As is pointed out, among those are the child-abuse rings that never actually existed other than in the minds of authorities that cajoled children into testifying. In an earlier and more religious/superstitious era rather than a serial rapist and murderer of children Sotos would likely have written from the perspective of a demon or monster that haunted the imagination of the folk. I don’t mean to sound like those who think their own era is the near-culmination of history, but I don’t think we will ever look back Sotos’ writings as the sort of harmless playing-on-fears that the spooky stories of the past were, at least as long as they regard us as belonging to the same species. I will admit that I am unqualified to say just how disturbing Sotos is, as I am of the unread and prudish sort (I’ve never even read the respectable stuff like “Lady Chatterly” or “Lolita”), so if someone wants to point out what a chickenshit Sotos is and how apparent it is to anyone who knows jack, feel free.

Finally, while we’re on the topic, where did the “Rape is about power, not sex” idea come from? I often hear the claim as if it is the firmly established consensus of the scientific literature, but I don’t know where it came from and it strikes me as implausible. I discussed this a bit here and didn’t get much of a response.

EDIT: I just noticed this post at Overcoming Bias. It makes me wonder to what extent people deceive themselves about age & consent. Also, how does rape factor into those surveys? If we accepted the claim of widespread unreported rape, this could result in the type of biased reporting by one gender vs the other.

Overcoming Bias and The Agitator wish you happy Petrov day. Celebrate in the manner of your choosing.

Considering what I said two posts ago, you wouldn’t expect me to then go watch and review a foreign film a few hours later (fortunately it was subtitled, but unfortunately in german which ich weise nur ein bischen), but that’s just what I did. Valley of the Wolves Iraq is the most expensive Turkish film ever made and also quite the summer blockbuster overseas. It achieved some controversy in the U.S for its anti-americanism and anti-semitism, in part because some american actors like Billy Zane and Gary Busey participated in it, but most people have likely forgotten about it by now. (more…)

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog already know about Robert Lindsay. If you haven’t I could explain here who he is, but just that is a subject of contention at this time. My analysis (which I was surprised to find he agreed with) was that he is simply what might have been common yesteryear, a Stalinist, but is today an oddity. Many of the things he says might be considered offensive, just as Stalinism should be to bourgeois sensibilities, but after the Old Left got replaced by the New Left, which was more concerned with culture, attitude, identity (of the non-class sort) and so on a great many normal ideas from the past became heresy. I just received an e-mail from him about a campaign on the Marxmail mailing list to get the lefty sites on his blogroll to remove links to him. No word on whether his mug is to be airbrushed out of photos or if thugs with ice-picks are to be dispatched to his residence though. If there are any lefty bloggers reading this, consider linking to him or advising your friends against casting him out into the cold of the non-left blogosphere. Alternatively, if you think he really is an unredeemable racist reactionary not deserving of the title “leftist”, leave a comment. If you are a rightie I suppose you can enjoy the irony (well, perhaps anti-irony) and schadenfreude, but remember that Bob has only spoken well of the dictatorship of the proletariat rather than participated in it and that the blog world would be a less interesting place without folks like him. Imagine the other side consisted of nothing but sensitivity police unwilling to admit the costs that the enactment of their plans would have on the unwilling. As Samuel Huntington put it in Clash of Civilizations, a capitalist and a communist can at least discuss the merits of their respective systems, but with the transition to conflicts based on identity, that conversation is much less feasible. Good luck trying to talk to an islamist, or for that matter the echo-chambers on the internet today. So here’s to charitable debate and unthinkable thoughts. At least as long as it stays on the internet. Mouth-off offline and you deserve to get tazed.

I had started on a post that ballooned to a wordcount of 3526, but now I am considering just scrapping it. During that time and before I neglected my responsibilities in meatspace, and looking after those will mean less time to waste on the internet. Hopefully by next week I will be up to about half the throughput of my first week.

I am in good spirits after reading this from the Hoover Hog, and it isn’t because he plugged my diversity post (though I do like that and I’m still waiting for Karl Smith to take notice). The last thing he notes is that he’ll be putting up old articles from the print edition of the Hoover Hog. Some earlier google searches did not turn up anything about that, so I had thought that if it did exist (how much trust do you place in a guy on the internet nobody’s heard of who discusses Holocaust denial?) the lack of evidence would tend to indicate that it was not notable enough for me to expect to ever see any of it. The review he links to indicates that it did in fact exist and it was as stimulating (I think that’s the most positive spin one could use) as one might hope. I can’t think of much else I’ve got more anticipation for, which perhaps indicates that I should keep more abreast of what’s going on in the worlds of the big & silver screens as well as the radio so as not to be out of my element in water-cooler conversations.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, I quibbled with Robert Lindsay’s contention that communist regimes weren’t really so bad and he has devoted a post to answering one of my points supported with an admittedly biased link. Crazy libertarians, Cubans, libertarian Cubans and Mencius Moldbug are encouraged to head over and make asses of themselves. I was piqued to note that the marxist Lindsay considers Amerikkka to be a social democracy, which will probably get more agreement from radical libertarians than Europeans.

I have been asked to update my blog, and in particular to discuss the presidential candidates. I didn’t have much to write about and I had other things to do, but now it’s the weekend and I’ll comply.

First I’ll have to explain where I’m coming from. One of my favorite posts from Catallarchy is Policy Isomorphism, which states that we are more affected by domestic policy than foreign and more by fiscal policy than civil rights. This helps to explain why libertarians are more likely to support Republicans than Democrats.

My own specific ideology seems to fall best under “paleolibertarianism”. Like many of that sort, I am an anti-federalist and I like Ron Paul (even though his reverence for the Constitution rather than the Articles precludes him from anti-federalism, he’s definitely preferable to the others). On the Democratic side I’ve liked what I’ve heard from Mike Gravel, but that hasn’t been a lot. I do not believe Paul has any chance of winning and I do not intend to vote…ever (it’s more sensible to play the lotto).

If Paul did win, here is what I expect would happen: he would veto every bill that he believed was unconstitutional, just as he votes against them now. That would be just about every bill Congress passes. Congress would in many cases overturn his vetoes, but it would minimize the flow of legislation. As an anti-federalist, I would prefer if the national government did not exist at all. In general my assumption is that any action taken by that government is idiotic and harmful. I do not see the political arena as one through which the good is advanced, but rather as something like the human sacrifices performed by the Aztecs because they believed it was necessary to cause the sun to rise (Mike Huemer has a good explanation of why politics and religion are so irrational here, but I dispute his contention that morality is objective and can be known). I disagree with the main message in this from Roderick Long (that libertarians ought to be concerned with “oppression” other than coercion), but I agree with his characterization of libertarians as largely wanting politics not to exist. A possibly useful sort of legislation is that which overturns previous legislation and ends those idiotic and harmful activities undertaken, but there is far less of that than the other kind. Congress is unlikely to do much of that under Paul, but he himself could undo a great many executive orders and possibly put some restraints on the permanent bureaucracy that could be thought of as a fourth branch of government if it were not technically under the executive.

One of the candidates mentioned by the aforementioned commenter as somewhat acceptable is Michael Bloomberg, and this brings me to an area where I disagree with my commenter’s goals. His concern is with long life. Michael Bloomberg is known for banning smoking, trans-fats and the like in New York. I say a life without unhealthy crap is a life I do not wish to lead. Bloomberg can pry my french-fries from my cold, dead hands along with my guns (which is he is also not a fan of).

M. Traven has responded at his blog because of the lousy comment-spam filter here. This is my response:

Robin Hanson as “Ramone” did a broader defense of voting-as-ritual here. Libertarians don’t object to man-as-a-social creature. We advocate forming social organizations as competitors to the state (which does not permit people to decline membership in it, as Herbert Spencer discusses here). I am a fan of the individualist anarchist Max Stirner (even though I am not an anarchist or lefty like him) who discussed a Union of Egoists, in which people join together for their mutual benefit.

The point of voting is not (as Landsberg stupidly holds) that it is only worth doing if you stand a chance of casting the single vote that tips the balance past 50/50.
If you knew that the vote was rigged and your ballot would be thrown out, would you still vote? If your vote makes no difference why don’t you pull an imaginary lever in your house and cheer “Go [my candidate]!”? Do you like the atmosphere of the polling place?

The point is that you are joining in with other members of your community to make a collective decision.
If I stay at home and blog about how all the candidates suck, how am I playing less of a part than you? Can’t I just declare myself as taking a part? Why let the state define your relation to the community?

“Let us reply to ambition that it is she herself that gives us a taste for solitude.” – Montaigne

VERY LATE INTRO: bjkeefe suggested I explain the Putnam study. Robert Putnam is best known for writing “Bowling Alone”, about the decline in “social capital”, especially as manifested in civic organizations. More recently he has found that ethnic diversity in communities is correlated with lower trust and pro-social attitudes/behaviors both between and within ethnic groups.

Most people were dismayed by the results of Robert Putnam’s study on diversity. Putnam himself was to such an extent that he delayed releasing anything for some time until he could find a way to soften the blow and has criticized reports on the study because the reporters couldn’t find a way to spin the story that he himself was unable to. You’d have to be a rather unpleasant person to give a high-five when hearing this news. Perhaps you give a cheer because you don’t like diversity and think this proves we can chuck it. There are such people, although considering we’ve already got diversity and it seems unlikely to go away or even stay relatively constant this shouldn’t be much of a consolation to you (unless what makes you unhappy isn’t diversity per se but people who like diversity being happy). One response would be Alan Crowe’s (not in this specific example but in general), that a social reductio ad absurdum can also be viewed as a proof of necessity. We’ll have to put up with that loss of trust due to diversity. What I want to focus on is another variety of unpleasant person: those who cheer a reduction in trust. (more…)

The pseudonymous commentator at Asia Times (and possible ex-LaRouchie) who resembles the bad-side of Mencius Moldbug has been promoting a goofy theory about how Iran must go to war with the West because of its demographic decline, when as anyone who’s read their Huntington knows that the shit hits the fan after baby-booms rather than busts.  One of his articles to support that point was entitled Jihadis and whores. In it he claims that Iran is falling apart so badly that it is selling its women and that this represents a huge crisis that will push the regime to drastic measures. Here he states how severe the problem is (more…)

I had to return it to the library in a few days, so that’s why I you are reading this post now instead of the one I was thinking of doing on Putnam’s diversity study.

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AlexB at Gene Expression takes down David Brooks’ recent column on IQ. It’s not quite their open letter to Nature, but it’s still plenty good.

At the Hoover Hog you can read why it is Brooks thinks in this way and why it matters.

I don’t know why the category tags for this post don’t work.

Recently HA and I have been discussing the nature of evil and whether it is a useful concept. Here is some stuff I said at his blog.

From Response to Recen Anders Sandberg and TGGP Posts: Mao, Stalin -the most evil?

Why do I “pin the blame”? If you read the link in my comment here it explains that holding people responsible for their actions, even if they don’t have free-will, is useful because it can be used to disincentivize their behavior. Even though Stalin & Mao are dead, one of the things people of their ilk are concerned with is their reputation, and if they are held in ill-repute people in the future in their positions will be less likely to engage in similar behavior. Social forces are the results of many actions taken by different individuals, and cannot be treated as anything else. You cannot strike part of a social whole and expect the mass to treat that as a strike against it. You can only inculcate in each individual the expectation that if they engage in certain behavior they will be punished for it. Attacking something amorphous like “deadweight loss” isn’t going to make Mr. Dead W. Loss turn his tail and run. All we can do is encourage people not to create that loss. Lastly, as I said I’m not as committed as you are to maximizing persistence odds, but I’d have to say that discouraging mass murder seems likely to improve odds of survival.

Overall, I think you’re demonstrating a commission/ommission bias, where you attribute blame to people and entities that “commit” bad things, but do not attribute equal or proportionate blame to people and entities that allow these bad things to happen through ommission.

I agree with Gordon Tullock than for any given individual acting against a system is unlikely to result in anything other than their own punishment, even if all of them acting together could possibly result in great benefits for each dissident. That is difficult coordination problem to resolve. Harping on an individual that they should do something does not seem likely to succeed. There are usually a much smaller number of people who are doing something harmful rather than merely permitting harmful things to be done, so it would seem more effective to focus on them.

You’ll notice that here I’m using a manner of thinking called “methodological individualism” which is often considered “reductionist” within the social sciences. It is possible to get even more reductionist than this by focusing on, say, neurons as the unit of analysis, which was suggested as a reductio ad absurdum by Robert Nozick. Here is a post from the Austrian Economists on why that isn’t done. Personally, I don’t know much neuroscience outside of this, so that wouldn’t be a productive route for me.

A while back I shamelessly put some copyrighted material from the book “Clash of Civilizations” online for any knave to read without paying for it. Every once in a while I would post links to it elsewhere because it was interesting data. After the latest such time (regarding the emergence of an aggressive China and possible conflict with America), I decided to make a post here so people wouldn’t have to scroll down for my comments. I’m just going to quote all of what I said there even though it doesn’t entirely make sense without context as you can just click the first link in this post for that.

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Via EconLog I came across this Edge piece from Jonathan Haidt. It discusses the evolved nature of morality and how odd the western/liberal/individualist conception of morality common in academia is which focuses on only two factors (harm & fairness) whereas a broader sample of people would reveal three additional ones (loyalty, respect & sanctity) that have roughly equal weight weight with each other and the aforementioned two. Despite being an atheist himself, he points out the flaws in arguments of the New Atheists and points out that the religious & conservative are more likely to charitably give their time, money and blood to others.

As an emotivist, I was happy to see Kantian/logical ethics skewered as post-hoc rationalizations for split-second intuitions; “reason is the servant of the passions” to quote David Hume. As I mentioned before, I endorse a contractarian basis for society because I think it would be least prone to dysfunction. Unlike many libertarians I don’t actually believe normative “rights” exist, but I think people can agree to abide by certain rules, though which ones are entirely up to them and cannot be objectively evaluated. David Friedman has a good explanation here of how property rights can emerge using the idea of Schelling points. I don’t think any of the five factors Haidt discusses have any sort of objective validity but I find myself focusing on the “harm” factor. It might seem somewhat odd given my somewhat right-leaning nature to be a sort of liberal-of-liberals (embracing a subset of their values rather than the broader conservative ones), but it seems sensible to me since I don’t want to be harmed! I don’t dismiss the idea of procedural fairness on rule-utilitarian grounds, but the idea of an outcome as being “fair” strikes me as rather odd. Perhaps my notion of fairness was shaped in childhood games where fairness was simply adherence to the rules and if you thought any of the possible outcomes wasn’t “fair” you had no business playing. I will also wholly admit to a strong sense of disgust (the source of purity/sanctity), which is why I am an admitted homophobe, but it simply doesn’t seem like a “moral” issue to me and I bear no animus as a result of it. If I can close my eyes to the disgusting, then it simply doesn’t exist and I am not harmed.

EDIT: I didn’t feel this deserved it’s own post, but I just wanted to note that a defense of moral “relativism” just appeared at Lew Rockwell, something I didn’t expect to see before. It wanders off on boring tangents after a bit though. And now an attack on it in a poor film review. Either way, neoconservatives are bad (I’ll agree there).

Sources have revealed messages between unrepentant commienazi Mencius Moldbug (who will be denoted with “MM”) and an unidentified subversive pinko (denoted by “SP”). Now their devious plotting against America, democracy, mom and apple pie can be revealed to the world so we may act against it (also, Mencius gave the O.K to do so). I’m warning you folks, the following will be ugly: Usenet-style quote markers, an utter disregard for appearance on a web browser and a combined length of more-than-I-want-on-the-frontpage. For that reason I have put it below the fold. Don’t bother to click it unless you’ve become accustomed to poring over comments sections where Mencius ropes misguided and disaffected youth to his nefarious cause.

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