Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

A friendly Holiday reminder from the TSA

Minerva Blesses the Gadflies

Whatever your politics, that is some top notch artistic affliction.

Word of the Week

Sousveillance: The practice of democratized observation and recording of those in power. Antonym of surveillance.

Gene Healy on the Peril of Great Presidential Expectations

“If we’re unhappy with the presidency we’ve got, [political scientist Theodore J. Lowi] suggests, we have ourselves to blame. The office as we know it is largely the creature of public demands. And like the transformed presidential role it reflects, the exultant rhetoric of the modern presidency is as much curse as blessing. It raises expectations for the office– expectations that were extraordinarily high to begin with. A man who trumpets his ability to protect Americans from economic dislocation, to shield them from physical harm and moral decay, and to lead them to national glory– such a man is bound to disappoint. Yet, having promised much, he’ll seek the power to deliver on his promises.” – Gene Healy, The Cult of the Presidency

Glenn Greenwald on Chinese Network Gear and Competitive Surveillance

“Warning the world about Chinese surveillance could have been one of the motives behind the US government’s claims that Chinese devices cannot be trusted. But an equally important motive seems to have been preventing Chinese devices from supplanting American-made ones, which would have limited the NSA’s own reach. In other words, Chinese routers and servers represent not only economic competition, but also surveillance competition: when someone buys a Chinese device instead of an American one, the NSA loses a crucial means of spying on a great many communication activities.” – Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U. S. Surveillance State

The Sliding Scale of Strategy vs. Tactics

“Napoleon made the point when discussing the outcome of actions between his own cavalry and the Mameluke horsemen of Asia Minor. These horsemen were so good that two of them would defeat three of his cavalrymen in a minor skirmish. But in a major battle, 1,000 of his cavalry would defeat 1,500 Mamelukes. On the small scale, horsemanship was the predominant factor, but on the large scale victory would be won by the controlled and disciplined application of force. Wellington made much the same point regarding actions between his cavalry and their French opponents.

On both scales of operation skilled horsemanship and cooperative action were ingredient factors, but the balance of importance between them changed with scale. Similarly, in intelligence personal skill may be the paramount factor on the small scale, but the ability to coordinate the skills of many individuals may be predominant in large-scale operations.” – RV Jones

As quoted by the mighty Grugq.

Thought Experiment for Open Immigration Opponents

Bryan Caplan posits an interesting thought experiment for immigration opponents. Like any good thought experiment, I think this one is effective because it’s a clear, succinct analogy and any honest disagreement is likely to come from arguing that the analogy itself is flawed.

This is ideal because the flaws one identifies in the analogy are likely to be the critical features that one considers important in the immigration debate, and so can be revealing about what, exactly, one’s motivations are. This is why thought experiments are particularly useful in ethics. Ethical inquiry has never really been about involuntary organ donation or pushing fat guys in front of trains, but rather about figuring out what the necessary elements are for an act to be ethically permissible.

So I encourage you to read Caplan’s argument and, as he says, “show your work”. In what specific ways are wage-based eugenics different from restricting immigration of the impoverished and/or unskilled?

“The reason for which humans have failed to develop a finely built social process assuring continuity and steady quality in leadership is probably that they did not have to. Most human societies are marked by the existence of a surplus above subsistence. The counterpart of this surplus is society’s ability to take considerable deterioration in its stride. A lower level of performance, which would mean disaster for baboons, merely causes discomfort, at least initially, to humans.

The wide latitude human societies have for deterioration is the inevitable counterpart of man’s increasing productivity and control over his environment. Occasional decline as well as prolonged mediocrity–in relation to achievable performance levels–must be counted among the many penalties of progress. A priori it would seem futile, therefore, to look for social arrangements that would wholly eliminate any sort of deterioration of polities and of their various constituent entities. Because of the surplus and the resulting latitude, any homeostatic controls with which human societies might be equipped are bound to be rough.” – Albert O Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty

Thank You, Lord

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” – Voltaire

There’s been a couple of recent protests here in Seattle targeting corporate transit buses. First a couple of masked “anarchists” blocked a Microsoft shuttle bus. The next day, the same masked protesters blocked what they apparently thought was an Amazon shuttle, failing to realize that Amazon doesn’t provide shuttles and that they were actually blocking a municipal street car.

In both instances the self-important oiks saw saw fit to distribute pamphlets they’d written for the occasion. Contra Microsoft. Contra Amazon.

Rigorous, logical argumentation, to be sure, with beautiful prosody sure to stir the revolutionary soul. If this is what passes for anti-corporate agitation these days, I reckon the corporations have nothing to worry about.

A word to the earnest young progressive agitators: This is Seattle. When you’ve lost the Stranger, you’ve lost the fight.

Disclosure Notice

William Pitt on Anglosphere Liberty

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it, the storm may enter, the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter; all his force dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” – William Pitt the Elder, 1763

I ran across this quote while reading Daniel Hannan’s book Inventing Freedom. The book has been extremely interesting, especially for its focus on the Anglosphere as a coherent cultural and political body. He focuses on the factors that make the Anglosphere countries alike, draws out the history of those unique qualities, and offsets them against continental Europe and other cultures to draw a compelling picture of a unified Anglophone history and way of life.

I definitely recommend the book to history and politics buffs alike (Hannan, being a British MEP, has a definite political position, but it’s well supported by the evidence provided and doesn’t come across as polemical). It’s an interesting history and a fair presentation of a perspective that doesn’t get much airing these days.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.