Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Regulation and the Fundamental Theorem of Reaction

Ever notice this cycle?

Some horrible thing about a product is reported on TV, usually a product belonging to a large multinational corporation that is made in China, or sometimes Mexico if that thing is a fruit or vegetable.

Something must be done!

A set of regulations is hastily passed, nominally by a legislature but in practice by hordes of administrators with heavy consultation by minions of the industry being regulated.

Strangely, the regulations wind up being pretty onerous for small businesses, reducing the approximation of a competitive market in the market segment being regulated. The big players love this because it creates an artificial economic 'moat' (in the Buffet/Graham sense of the word) against upstart competitors by generating an economy of scale. This economy of scale is created because the cost of compliance per widget is lower for a large corporation than a small business, giving it a competitive advantage in a decidedly non-competitive way.

None of this surprises the reactionary, as it is in keeping with the fundamental theorem of reaction. What is surprising is how frequently those on the Left drive this cycle without stopping to consider who they hurt by it (such as small organic family farms or little toy makers) and what monstrosities benefit from it. In the most egregious cases, such as the recent lead testing for toys and books regulations, the original malefactor even gets a specific exemption from the regulation in question!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Encouragement for our friends, the True Finns

Dennis has posted of the activities of the US's ambassador to Finland on his blog today. The True Finns should take this fool of an ambassador's scorn as a badge of honor. He compares you to the Tea Party, which is somewhat complimentary, but I think you're far better than that because you grok the existential nature of demographic hegemony. Not only that, you stood firm against bailing out the profligate nations of Europe at the expense of the short term political advantage that would have come from being part of the ruling coalition. When Greece and the rest of the PIIGs go to economic hell in a hand basket anyway, your wisdom will be vindicated and you will likely gain a plurality of the votes in your assembly.

I know it pisses off Americans when some foreign ambassador presumes to meddle in our internal affairs or criticize us, in whole or in part. Hopefully the same is true of your people. Perhaps this fool's quotes will make for good campaign advertising material for you. If he helps you get a working majority, I'll consider his salary well spent. Were he a covert reactionary with similar beliefs to myself, he could hardly have helped you more.

My good wishes for you are not totally altruistic. I recognize that if you sweep to power, that this will embolden and encourage similar efforts in the rest of Europe. And what is trendy in Europe affects the political landscape in my nation as well.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The War on Drugs, a Difficult Reaction

Just this week Ron Paul and Barney Frank introduced a bill to roll back a substantial portion of the federal War on Drugs---specifically to get the federal government out of the marijuana prohibition business and let the issue decamp to the several states. Indeed this is where I as a reactionary believe that the issue belongs. The various states ideally exist precisely because everyone doesn't like the same flavor of ice cream and relocating within the US is far less disruptive for people and cultures than outside of it. I have the same take on a lot of other issues, including the ever controversial abortion issue.

On the side of the ledger favoring rolling back this part of the War on Drugs, I have this:

Instituting a law where a strong, practically universal moral consensus does not exist always causes significant damage to the fabric of a society, both from the resentment of the losing party and through the efforts by the winning party to coerce the dissenters. Sometimes it is worth it, but the reactionary at least should be aware that it is an act of war in any reasonable calculus, and consider both which wars and the number of his wars very carefully indeed.

I'm not going to belabour the point that in any honest reading of the US Constitution that Prohibition Part II would require a bona fide amendment. An honest reading of the US Constitution hasn't been had since at least 1920, and it wasn't universal by any means even then. Stare Decisis might be popular among conservatives, but I'm a reactionary and know a one-way ratchet when I see one.

There is also the massive increase in the size and scope of government which has come as an auxillary to the drug war. Not just in prisons, law enforcement, and hordes of administrators---it also strengthens a strong urge in the conservative to show that he's not just a 'meanie' and aggravates the perceived need to 'buy peace' (and votes of course) through social spending.

That disputes and control in the insecure property rights framework that traffickers in drugs work within is frequently fought over with guns and knives instead of lawsuits and buying local politicians is beyond question. The end of Prohibition I caused a significant fall in crime, and not just in the trivial (i.e. crimes involving alchohol directly).

On the negative side

The population in favor of this is one not friendly to the cause of reaction. That is, they generally don't like us and we don't like them. This isn't an overriding consideration, but it should never be underestimated. The business of government and politics is, at least since the 1930s, the rewarding of friends and the punishment of enemies.

Drug possession is a crime that many criminals can be charged with without the necessity of cooperation by witnesses in hostile NAM neighborhoods with Stop Snitching is a strong meme.

It's a difficult call honestly. Were the population in question more allied with the cause of reaction, it'd be a 'no-brainer'. As it is I'm willing to support removing marijuana from the War on Drugs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rendezvous with Malthus in a Bright Future?

A lot of folks in the circles that I blog in appear to believe that a return to Malthusian constraints is a feature solely of dark futures or futures within which technology stagnates, perhaps due to increasingly complex and oppressive regulatory schemes strangling individual initiative. I don't rule such futures out, or even estimate that their probability is low. In fact I view such futures as collectively possessing a better than even probability of coming to pass. But, as I'm quite optimistic by nature, I think that a bright future, something akin to what many futurists would call a positive singularity, has a decent chance to happen as well---I need not even a few beers to take the possibility seriously, much less more potent mind-altering chemicals.

What do I mean by a bright future? Well, here's a start:
Actuarial escape velocity: essentially the state wherein your remaining time to live is increasing at a rate faster than time is passing.
Presently lifespans in the developed world are increasing fast enough to give actuaries fits in computing correct annuity payouts for the very aged. Assuming we don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, I see this having a decent probability of happening sufficiently soon to benefit many of my readers, and certainly our children.

To be a bright future, we'd also have to solve our energy availability per capita problem (available energy per capita peaked if I recall in the early 1970s), which requires some rabbit from a hat produced by our engineers or scientists. It'll need to be a damned big rabbit, quite probably some flavor of fusion coupled most likely with significant advances in superconductivity and/or battery technology energy density. Presently, since around 2005, we've been on a plateau of oil (and other liquid fuels) production and we may well have in fact hit a peak. Cheap energy is in fact what makes the world as we know it go around and this one is really the hardest one technologically to get by on the way to a positive singularity.

We'd also have to insure that the center does in fact hold long enough for us to solve the problems cited above. This means, for instance, that the US gets itself onto a sustainable fiscal footing. One can only extend and pretend so long, even when one holds the world's reserve currency. This part of the problem isn't hard technologically, but it is IMO the hardest part of the problem.

All told, my gut estimate is that the chances of something like the above coming to pass is in the neighborhood of 10-25%...probable enough that I at least consider it in my future planning. But I'm something of an optimist, as I've mentioned before.

Let's say that in future generations we manage to convert the solar system and areas immediately around it into something like a Niven-esque Ringworld.
That's an awful lot of carrying capacity for population---approximately 3 Million Earths worth. If we assume a comfortable 33 Billion per Earth equivalent, somewhere around 4-5x our present density, we're talking a capacity for 100*10^15 human beings. That's a hell of a lot---100 quadrillion. How does one have a rendezvous with Malthus in such a science fiction scenario?

Well, we've been running an experiment for about one hundred years now. Our experiment is to identify and purify strains of humanity that are resistant to the fertility depressing aspects of modernity. I'm on personal terms with some of the first fruits of this new strain of humanity. I fully expect that he'll have close to 100 grandchildren before he passes from the Earth and God knows how many great grandchildren. Consider this---10 billion human beings who collectively have a rate of increase of population that just barely balances losses through accidents, suicide, foul play, and the like occupy this Ringworld. In addition, a small number of couples who have just four children, and whose children inherit their particular level of fertility over time, with the aid of nature and homeschooling, with an average generation time of 20 years. For simplicity, we'll assume that despite having achieved Methuselah levels of longevity, only one batch of four children is produced by each couple.

Each generation, this group doubles its numbers and roughly its proportion of the total population. In 100 years, this amounts to 5 doublings. Every 200 years, this is 10 doublings, which is close enough to 1000 for government work. In 1000 years, this is 1000^5 which is...guess what...1 quadrillion. By this point it should be pretty obvious that this group will gain demographic hegemony pretty quickly (relative to the time horizons likely to persist in a world where actuarial escape velocity has been achieved) if unchecked. This is the reason why I suspect that in such a future, external coercive controls on fertility are likely to be imposed. This is also why I encourage my allies, witting or unwitting, to go ahead and have more children now if they desire them. Such controls are exceedingly unlikely to take into account what is already 'baked into the cake' so to speak. This position is the same position that I have for collapsed or stagnated possible futures, albeit for different reasons

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Which potential realistic candidate sucks the least for 2012?
The above link contains NumbersUSA's grades for each of the major party presidential candidates for 2012

Most of you know I'm a demographic hegemony voter. I believe that if you win the demographic hegemony battle, all other battles eventually become winnable. But if you lose that battle, none of the others matter all that much.

From the major political parties, Bachmann and Pawlenty are the only generally acceptable candidates on this issue. The Constitution party candidate is usually pretty decent on this issue also, and is my go-to in cases like 2008, when McCain/Palin were put forward by the Republicans. I really don't care whether a candidate is qualified, intelligent, or possesses sufficient 'gravitas' if they're not on my side on this issue. I'd be just fine with Palin if I felt she was reliable on this issue---which I don't unfortunately. Frankly, on this issue I want someone who doesn't mind being perceived as a bit of a 'meanie'.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Opportunities for Reactionary Entertainment and Propaganda

bMany folks around these parts are familiar with the incredibly reactionary movie Braveheart. Some might also be familiar with the serious shot in the arm that this gave the Scottish independence movement---some believe that it's responsible for providing the renewed momentum for the autonomy Scotland has managed to obtain since its release through devolution.

There's a similar opportunity in France right now. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the elite who seek to elect a new people among the general populace. Hell, the National Front might well become the largest party. The time is absolutely ripe for a French nationalist classic about Charles Martel and his great triumph at Tours. There are all sorts of legends surrounding this event that would make for a grand spectacle of a movie. Make Charles heroic and disgusted with the accomodation of the Moors advocated by many of the elite of the time. Show the mood of gathering despair as Islam moves from victory to victory, overruning Spain and parts of France. Make him unapologetically Christian. Perhaps even give him a sign from heaven, a meteor that a smith forges the metal from into a mighty sword. Show him demonstrating the courage that inspired a heavily outnumbered army of mostly infantry to resist and rout a superior force of cavalry. Don't forget an inspiring score---borrow from Wagner if you must, but there's no shortage of good martial music from France. Make sure that Allahu Akbar as a battle cry is met at least once with something like 'Christ is Risen'.

As usual, folks are encouraged to steal whatever ideas they find useful or profitable. I wouldn't even begrudge you claiming that it was solely your own idea if you made millions on a blockbuster. Movies have a terrible power to seize the mythic narrative. Birth of a Nation was probably the first film to achieve this (as regarded the Civil War & Reconstruction period), but there have been many other examples since then. My gut tells me that there is a hunger for a film like this, with a profoundly unironic embrace of nationalism and martial virtues against an elite that would elect a new people in the hope of maintaining their own status just a little longer.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why bother with IQ anyway?

A great deal of ink is spilled in the reactionary sphere and the HBD sphere regarding IQ. One might ask why is this so? Is everyone still obsessed with the almighty SAT that they took in their late teens?

The answer to this question is that it's probably the most useful metric compared to the work necessary to obtain it in the social sciences. In the social sciences, you very rarely get correlation coefficients anywhere near that of the physical sciences. People are far messier than even organic chemicals. To get good predictive results out of correlations at the level found in the social sciences, you've got to be looking at large groups of people, at least if you're spoiled by the precision of harder sciences.

There are other metrics that are almost as useful, like executive capacity and conscientiousness, but the big problem with them is that they're generally awfully easy to game. Whenever there are significant stakes involved, the participants WILL try to game whatever test or screening/interviewing procedure you establish. I've been on both sides of such processes, although I've long since interviewed more people than have interviewed me. Every candidate will attempt to 'put his best foot forward'. Your fancy questions intended to reveal the candidate's true nature are discussed in detail in interviewing classes and books. Such is life. IQ at least has the merit that it's damned difficult to game.

There are two major types of IQ tests out there. The first type tests things that are commonly done and studied in the culture of interest. For instance, the old SAT is a good example of this, testing things that have a wide cultural relevance for prospective college students---no math beyond algebra II, for instance. You use the test to rank order the participants and assign scores based on the percentile of each test taker. In practice this corresponds pretty well with what we informally call intelligence in everyday speech. The test is of a form familiar to most of its takers and is difficult to prepare for specifically---even the test prep industry can't normally promise more than 50 points or so. Tests of this form have been affected much less by the Flynn effect, and in some cases, not at all. Sometimes these tests are referred to as tests of 'crystallized' intelligence.

The second sort of IQ test attempts to be 'culture fair' and thus tries to test things that nobody's culture does much of---ideally it's a total novelty, like your first encounter with a Sudoku puzzle. Lots of things like fill in the next picture in this sequence, patterns in matrices or mathematics, and the like show up on tests like these. Such tests are often called tests of 'fluid' intelligence and have been heavily affected by the Flynn effect. I'll advance my explanation of why:

These types of tests USED to be much more of a novelty than they are now to their takers. Look at the toys SWPLs give their children these days. Look also at the sorts of puzzles that crop up in ordinary newspapers and magazines now compared to in previous generations. They retain their correlation with tests of the other sort only because they are continually renormed. Their content, indeed, their type of content has become progressively less alien and more embedded into our culture as a whole. This observation is also consistent with the observation that the Flynn effect has largely stopped in most 1st world nations. This is my explanation of my observation that when I meet a healthy senior citizen described as bright, or very bright back when he was young (and often, in fact usually, tested by some military apparatus to stick a number to that ordinal description), he generally strikes me and others around at roughly the same ordinal level as he was described in his younger years. One could do a study if one had the military IQ test score results from a large cohort from say, 40 years ago with 55-60 year olds today. Would you see their results depressed by 40 years of Flynn effect? I seriously doubt it.

This isn't to say that improved nutrition (although I'll grant, a mixed bag here, but outright nutritional deficiencies on things like iodine, iron, and folate have ceased to be going concerns for most people) and reduction of lead in the environment haven't had some impact---they have, and a small fraction of the Flynn effect shows up on 'crystallized' tests of intelligence. But relatively speaking compared to the artifact above, I think they're small fry.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What is history about anyway?

Webster's gives us a fairly familiar definition of history

1. The study of past events, particularly in human affairs.
2. The past considered as a whole.

However this really doesn't describe how at least 98% of the population makes use of history. If this were the true description of history, we'd see things like high school history classes studying books and newspapers written during the time when events occurred in the attempt to get a handle on the 'whys' of history. Oddly, we hardly ever see that except on rare occasions at perhaps the dissertation level for graduate students, despite the fact that thanks to Google, such documentation is probably easier to obtain and peruse than at any time in history.

Instead, what we call history is actually the ongoing struggle over who gets to control society's mythic narratives. Control over these narratives is very important, because they are analogous to favorable and unfavorable terrain in the team sport that is the battle for status. One-sided deconstruction of your mythic figures while leaving the opposition's figures fully constructed is strongly to be avoided---in fact I daresay it's practically an act of war. History contains more than enough material to blacken the name of any large group you care to name, especially if you fail to hold opposing groups to the same standards or scrutiny, and if, God forbid, you look at low-surplus societies and those inside them from the prism of a 'holiday from history through fossil fuels' high-surplus society. The left, at least at the leadership level recognizes this...reactionaries and conservatives must as well. Sure, the actual facts and epic messiness of real history can be terribly interesting, but control over the mythic narrative is far more important. One might say it is literally a matter of life and death. Look to the birthrates of Germany and Japan if you need to see what happens to a civilization that allows its mythic narrative to be cast down.