Wednesday, October 5, 2011 67 Comments

Thos. Carlyle on Steve Jobs

From Heroes and Hero-Worship (1840):

We come now to the last form of Heroism; that which we call Kingship.

The Commander over Men; he to whose will our wills are to be subordinated, and loyally surrender themselves, and find their welfare in doing so, may be reckoned the most important of Great Men. He is practically the summary for us of all the various figures of Heroism; Priest, Teacher, whatsoever of earthly or of spiritual dignity we can fancy to reside in a man, embodies itself here, to command over us, to furnish us with constant practical teaching, to tell us for the day and hour what we are to do. He is called Rex, Regulator, Roi: our own name is still better; King, Könning, which means Can-ning, Able-man. [Carlyle's etymology is pretty but wrong - MM.]

Numerous considerations, pointing towards deep, questionable, and indeed unfathomable regions, present themselves here: on the most of which we must resolutely for the present forbear to speak at all. As Burke said that perhaps fair Trial by Jury was the soul of Government, and that all legislation, administration, parliamentary debating, and the rest of it, went on, in "order to bring twelve impartial men into a jury-box;"—so, by much stronger reason, may I say here, that the finding of your Ableman and getting him invested with the symbols of ability, with dignity, worship (worth-ship), royalty, kinghood, or whatever we call it, so that he may actually have room to guide according to his faculty of doing it,—is the business, well or ill accomplished, of all social procedure whatsoever in this world!

Hustings-speeches, Parliamentary motions, Reform Bills, French Revolutions, all mean at heart this; or else nothing. Find in any country the Ablest Man that exists there; raise him to the supreme place, and loyally reverence him: you have a perfect government for that country; no ballot-box, parliamentary eloquence, voting, constitution-building, or other machinery whatsoever can improve it a whit. It is in the perfect state; an ideal country.

The Ablest Man; he means also the truest-hearted, justest, the Noblest Man: what he tells us to do must be precisely the wisest, fittest, that we could anywhere or anyhow learn;—the thing which it will in all ways behoove US, with right loyal thankfulness and nothing doubting, to do! Our doing and life were then, so far as government could regulate it, well regulated; that were the ideal of constitutions.

Alas, we know very well that Ideals can never be completely embodied in practice. Ideals must ever lie a very great way off; and we will right thankfully content ourselves with any not intolerable approximation thereto! Let no man, as Schiller says, too querulously "measure by a scale of perfection the meagre product of reality" in this poor world of ours. We will esteem him no wise man; we will esteem him a sickly, discontented, foolish man.

And yet, on the other hand, it is never to be forgotten that Ideals do exist; that if they be not approximated to at all, the whole matter goes to wreck! Infallibly. No bricklayer builds a wall perfectly perpendicular, mathematically this is not possible; a certain degree of perpendicularity suffices him; and he, like a good bricklayer, who must have done with his job, leaves it so. And yet if he sway too much from the perpendicular; above all, if he throw plummet and level quite away from him, and pile brick on brick heedless, just as it comes to hand—! Such bricklayer, I think, is in a bad way. He has forgotten himself: but the Law of Gravitation does not forget to act on him; he and his wall rush down into confused welter of ruin—!

This is the history of all rebellions, French Revolutions, social explosions in ancient or modern times. You have put the too Unable Man at the head of affairs! The too ignoble, unvaliant, fatuous man. You have forgotten that there is any rule, or natural necessity whatever, of putting the Able Man there. Brick must lie on brick as it may and can. Unable Simulacrum of Ability, quack, in a word, must adjust himself with quack, in all manner of administration of human things;—which accordingly lie unadministered, fermenting into unmeasured masses of failure, of indigent misery: in the outward, and in the inward or spiritual, miserable millions stretch out the hand for their due supply, and it is not there. The "law of gravitation" acts; Nature's laws do none of them forget to act. The miserable millions burst forth into Sansculottism, or some other sort of madness: bricks and bricklayer lie as a fatal chaos—!

Much sorry stuff, written some hundred years ago or more, about the "Divine right of Kings," moulders unread now in the Public Libraries of this country. Far be it from us to disturb the calm process by which it is disappearing harmlessly from the earth, in those repositories! At the same time, not to let the immense rubbish go without leaving us, as it ought, some soul of it behind—I will say that it did mean something; something true, which it is important for us and all men to keep in mind.

To assert that in whatever man you chose to lay hold of (by this or the other plan of clutching at him); and claps a round piece of metal on the head of, and called King,—there straightway came to reside a divine virtue, so that he became a kind of god, and a Divinity inspired him with faculty and right to rule over you to all lengths: this,—what can we do with this but leave it to rot silently in the Public Libraries? But I will say withal, and that is what these Divine-right men meant, That in Kings, and in all human Authorities, and relations that men god-created can form among each other, there is verily either a Divine Right or else a Diabolic Wrong; one or the other of these two!

For it is false altogether, what the last Sceptical Century taught us, that this world is a steam-engine. There is a God in this world; and a God's-sanction, or else the violation of such, does look out from all ruling and obedience, from all moral acts of men. There is no act more moral between men than that of rule and obedience. Woe to him that claims obedience when it is not due; woe to him that refuses it when it is! God's law is in that, I say, however the Parchment-laws may run: there is a Divine Right or else a Diabolic Wrong at the heart of every claim that one man makes upon another.

And when, in the third millennium, we meet an Able-man - to what work do we set him? To building toys. Gewgaws, gadgets, pretty beads for department-store Indians.

And yet - there is a God in this world. There is right, at least, and wrong. In everything. In code. In a toy. And this is our special torture: as the planet rots, as fools rule and hyenas feast, as nations lie prostrate, churches decompose, and the Devil with a knife owns London, Paris, New York after dark, fell in our hairy hands the real work of a real King, an Able-man, Ken-ning - who served God, or right at least, and could bend small armies to obey. And make - a toy. So near we are to salvation; so infinitely far away. Rest in peace, Steve.


Blogger TGGP said...

Eh, I never owned any Apple devices but I think that's where he could do the most good. And Calvin Coolidge wasn't very inspiring, but he was the right man for his position.

Also, there's no God of course. And as Pinker has been illustrating, the planet hasn't been rotting since the decline of kings. We can't infer causality from the time sequence, but let's not misrepresent things.

October 5, 2011 at 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good example of the royal scam. Worship of royalty is promoted because it gives the illusion that everything will be alright as long as we have a few making it through the selection event.

October 5, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This doesn't select for "Able men". It doesn't even select for individual men. It selects for eusociality.

Two males of just about any species in nature will engage in natural duel. This common theme of natural duel is simply not compatible with maintaining a social organism in which the appeal of last resort in dispute processing is words.

Once you remove this essential expression of masculinity, as civilizations always tend to do, you have removed the essence of masculinity. Most civilizations think they can get away with compensating for this "paradox" by similarly "castrating" females through institutions like state or religion sponsored marriage. That "works" for a while -- maybe thousands of years, but eventually females will come to question this arrangement for very natural reasons.

But by the time that has happened, everyone has forgotten that civilization also suppressed the natural duel! So things go _really_ haywire and uncontrollably so as natural forces disrupt the culture starting in the limbic systems of virtually every citizen. You can only commodify this discontent and sell it back on DVD in the form of mano-a-mano fights at the climax of the movie so much. Something must give. That something is sex itself. And here we have, just in time, genetic engineering and cloning.

October 6, 2011 at 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In nature, males and females have two respective powers: To destroy and to preserve. People think that civilization is founded on control of destruction and seem to forget that civilization also depends on controlling female power to preserve. With the return to females of choice, hence their power, something equivalent must be done for males, such as enforcing natural duels to the death (natural meaning just putting the two disputants out in the wilderness with one to return). Of course, no one can face that this is the logical consequence of female liberation, so civilization slowly transforms into something unrecognizable except, perhaps, to the eusocial insects and their negation of sex. This negation of sex selects not for an independent, viable "Able" man, but a mere part of a group-entity.

October 6, 2011 at 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Civilization is built on the pretense that husbands are alpha males so that they don't revolt against those in positions of authority. The 60s exploded that pretense leaving the glass ceiling protecting those positions of authority as alpha males surrounding themselves by de facto harems. It has take decades, but the consequences are now coming home to roost in the form of high fertility rates among patriarchal immigrant cultures.

No one wants to even consider what the counterpart to female liberation might be. But consider this: A female's godhood is exercised when she chooses which genes will pass through her to the next generation. A male's godhood is exercised when he chooses which other male he will meet in a natural duel to prevent his genes from passing into the next generation -- or die trying.

If males are liberated, the glass ceiling would be shattered along with all positions of authority.

October 6, 2011 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

In Jobs we saw monarchy's greatest strength. Will we now in Cook see its greatest weakness? Elizabeth I after Henry VIII is rare indeed; the best most can hope for is Tiberius after Augustus, and what most get is Louis XV after Louis XIV (or in modern terms, Apotheker after Hurd).

October 6, 2011 at 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Eugenick said...

If Steve Jobs and Einstein are so great, why don't we use our technology and clone them? Perhaps in the 1000s? Maybe we could even bribe the Demon mothers to raise them instead of their hellish spawn?

That's right; because we are blank slatists afraid of the ghost of Hitler.

October 6, 2011 at 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh TGGP what would we do without you.

October 6, 2011 at 2:27 AM  
Anonymous josh said...


define rotting. is his rotting?

October 6, 2011 at 3:04 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Do you really find that Pinker article that great of a counterpoint to our host's thesis? You and Pinker deny God, but it seems to me that you place almost as much trust in the ability of the powers that be to maintain control (or at least keep up appearances to the point that you will not be unbearably inconvenienced) as most believers place in the Almighty. I don't know when, but at some point I think it will come down to the USG being willing to machine gun people (or implement real socialism), or a real Hobbesian mess. I don't find either of these scenarios appealing. As an amoralist you're probably betting on the former, if not hoping for it. But don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining. Given technological advances of modernity (on the positive side like medicine, agriculture), the decrease in number of humans slaughtered (by percentages) is not an improvement when compared to historical levels because there is absolutely no reason for it.

Regarding optimism for the future, I refer you to Derbyshire, and his thoughts on nuclear and chemical weapon proliferation, disease mutation, and demographics. Recently I was arguing with my father and grandfather about Ron Paul being the only person I would consider voting for, and when they said crazy foreign policy was their main reservation about him, I pretty much wanted to pull my hair out. Being reasonable men, they didn't have alot to say against his plans on current military projects, but the thing they couldn't accept was his thoughts on Iranian nukes. And I had to admit that I do not actually know what Squinty and his co-religionists believe with regards to the 12th imam or whatever, and how he will be revealed, and what happens after that. But I don't question that they believe it, or that Iran is a theocracy. Are you willing to bet that some rational Iranians will be able to prevent an attempt to imminentize the Eschaton? Now, nothing is being done about this issue anyway, so it doesn't really affect the argument for Paul (and I agree with him anyway; this is the world we have made). It appears to be inevitable. One more strap cut away.

I've been thinking for a while that the experience of the postwar boom and the generosity towards the working man that it allowed (and which probably prevented the more revolutionary pinkos getting any substantial purchase on hearts and minds) is the cause of our aversion to Carlyle's vision here. The success of that period really convinced us that this is the way things should be. But the longer this attitude of entitlement has existed, the harder it is to see that our prosperity depends to an incredible extent on the able few. It is their (USG coerced) generosity that keeps the wheels on. And they are not the richest men, not the ones on top. Ambition is rewarded more than ability, and faking it until you make it is the norm.

You have an interesting fusion of biological heuristic and game bullshit going on.

October 6, 2011 at 6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today it hit me, 99% = bolshevik. Perhaps this was obvious to all of you already.

I think the outpouring of support/idolization for Jobs is evident of the brahmin caste present unease. Their planned economy is coming undone, they want and need a hero, they want that hero to be Obama, but Jobs will have to do for now.

Also evident of brahmin caste overestimating it's cultural reach. How many people in flyover america care about steve jobs? Maybe that's part of the point, to hold up a progressive icon and kind of rub it in the proles' faces.

October 6, 2011 at 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Aaron: Cook may or may not be a Carlylean superman. But we won't see the monarchy at its worst; Apple is joint-stock and therefore has the right incentives to be effective and responsible. Of course, Wise is certainly no Jobs -- few are. Then again, making toys is a much harder job than ruling well. The best rulers do almost nothing. A tiny tweak here or there. The worst rulers are continually casting about for new things to do. (Sounds familiar.) Contrast toymaking, where you have to always be innovating.

October 6, 2011 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

And when, in the third millennium, we meet an Able-man - to what work do we set him? To building toys. Gewgaws, gadgets, pretty beads for department-store Indians.

Damn, son.

TGGP: I'm sorry that you lost your faith. However, your replacing it with faith in the Pinkers of the world doesn't impress anyone. I think the previous thread did a pretty good job of pointing out what Pinker can't see.

Men's Liberation Anon--huh? You can just as easily argue that the woman's godhood is in which men not to choose and the man's in which woman to choose.

Eugenick--Do you have some cloning tech we don't know about? I don't think "blank statism" is preventing us from cloning Mr. Jobs (or Hitler).

Gabe Ruth--I think you're my favorite new commenter; question: has ability ever been more rewarded than ambition?

99%er Anon: 99%er=Liberal Tea Party (which is, of course, Bolshevik).

Leonard: is it harder to do new things or to know when not to do anything?

October 6, 2011 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Thanks GMP. Obviously my characterization was incomplete: ability requires ambition to receive reward (at least that's what I tell myself). We've developed a habit of rewarding ambition on its own. Ambition will always win in a civilized society. In one of Chesterton's short stories he talks about the strong man's hopeless despair in the face of bureaucracy (said better, of course). If he saw his country today, I'd imagine he'd join the rioters to speed its destruction and bring renewal. The Republic has failed, indeed.

October 6, 2011 at 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Eugenick said...

"Do you have some cloning tech we don't know about? I don't think "blank statism" is preventing us from cloning Mr. Jobs (or Hitler)"

Cloning seems to work with sheep and other mammals:

, and humans aren't that different (there might be a few problems with the first attempts, but surely many more lives will be saved once the process is perfected and our army of Einsteins and Jobses finally gets to work).

The Christians (including Universalists) will not allow something like this, because it is a threat to their faith. Cloning is useless from a blank-slatist's perspective: you won't achieve someone as great as Jobs/Einstein without cloning the environment he grew up in. It is not in the interest of Universalism for human cloning to take place, so it will be banned.

October 6, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Steve Jobs and Einstein are so great

It seems like they were mainly good at being salesmen.

"Then the book analyses the many “shady moments” in Einstein’s professional life: cherry-picking data to support his theories, appropriating advances made by others and, once he had made his name, using fame shamelessly for further self-advancement.

The equation most closely associated with Einstein, E=mc2, did not come as a surprise to those in the know when he first proposed it in 1905, Brooks claims. And Einstein failed in eight attempts to prove E=mc2 during the next 41 years, though others succeeded – yet he had appropriated the equation as his own and he dismissed attempts to set the record straight, with aggressive assertions of his “priority”."

October 6, 2011 at 11:08 AM  
Anonymous George said...

"Steve Jobs was a nasty piece of work. He is known to have fleeced his best friend, Wozniak, out of money early in their partnership (i.e. when the money couldn't have been enough to matter). He was an egomaniac and blowhard, and as accustomed as we all are to the amoral business ethics of today, Jobs was always a pioneer in the field of self-serving spin.

The reality-distortion field was Jobs' only true invention (he certainly didn't invent GUIs or mice or smartphones). Steve Jobs lied in a way that reminded me of Bill Clinton, about whom it was said he lied even with the truth would have been good enough. Why lie, then? Because lying is always just a little bit better than telling the truth. (Apple's recent launch of its iPhone 4S had so many lies built into it that it would take thousands of words to account for them all.)

Apple Inc. is the perfect monument to him--superficially appealing with lots of gloss and brushed metal but empty inside like a giant glass tomb. The other Jobsian monument is Pixar, the company that specializes in churning out formulaic cartoons for manchildren. Everything Jobs worked toward was frivolous in some essential way.

Including of course computers. Jobs' Apple never took computers forward, if anything it stubbornly held them back, it wanted computers to be some vaguely elitist status signifier. That's why in the beginning Apple kept its margins extremely high, to let people know that this wasn't the computer for everyone, but for the elect.

Apple computers were never all they were cracked up to be. The hardware UI was frequently stunningly bad--things like keyboards and mice that you have to try to get wrong, Apple frequently got wrong. Their OS GUI was seldom much better--I understand Mac users recently celebrated their newly gained ability to maximize screen windows. We're all still puzzling over those red, yellow, and green buttons (in fact they do different things in different applications). When I'm in the mood to troll Apple zealots, I always go straight for that GUI, because in my experience it's an unquestioned axiom among the cognoscenti that Macs "just work". Although lately it's just quicker to remind them that everyone in the world hates how Autocorrect just works.

Naturally Jobs' ego and pretention got him booted out of the company he co-founded, and it wasn't until Apple was reduced to an AIDS-stricken corpse itself that he was invited back, and he then trojaned his failed Next company in after him which was probably a smart move.

His big stroke of luck or genius was realizing that his real destiny was making status symbol consumer electronics, not computers, which Apple has never been good at (they finally threw in the towel and accepted that Intel's platform would always be superior to whatever they could come up with). He hit it big with the iPod, and then the iPhone, and then the iPad, all three non-computer products that mainly exist to flash bright colors or sounds at people who are bored. All three products were about disposable consumption, and all three embody that principle to this day--you are meant to use them until the next model comes out and then dump them. You mostly use them to pass the time. Jobs famously retorted, "People don't read anymore," when Amazon launched its Kindle reader--ah, but on the iPad they can now read comic books!

The timing was perfect for his second act. The indulgent period we've just left, but which is still lingering over our discourse like an addict's memory of the night before, could be called the Apple age. A period of self-indulgence spurred by our depressive sense that there is something wrong, either with ourselves or with the world, but with feelgood distractions we don't have to face it."

October 6, 2011 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I'm still irked about my Pinker follow-up from last post disappearing, so I won't repeat what I wrote. I didn't sum up my overall view of things, and that is that we may well all be doomed. We take the rising of the sun each day as among the most confident predictions we can make, but also know that it will eventually exhaust its fuel and go nova. The second law of thermodynamics assures us that all dissolves into waste heat. But the same thing was true centuries ago, and it is just a possibility. For the near future we mostly guess based on the near past, and the near past compares quite well with the more distant past. There are many tendencies I dislike, but there is much ruin in a nation. More ruin perhaps as time goes on, and our descendants may not have our appreciation for the precariousness of good fortune, just as the boomers were not as thrifty as the children of the depression. Or not. Onward Christian robots!

You mention medicine. It is generally regarded as killing at least as many people as it saved in previous centuries, and I haven't been fully convinced that isn't the case now. But we see that long-term decline in homicide even when it was uncontroversially terrible. And the decline is not merely in deaths but times of war vs peace. I don't attribute this to the skill of rulers, it seems too widespread a thing. We can give more credit to rulers when we see more variance by country. We all inherit a patrimony from our ancestors which we have done nothing to deserve, this is just as true of governors as citizenry.

I'm also a fan of Ron Paul, but less fearful of Iran. It doesn't have nukes yet, but many other countries do and haven't done much. If you want to understand why, you can try reading John Mueller (other "WMDs" are even more useless). Nukes are very expensive, require a lot of expertise and support, and are the bluntest of instruments. I find than more useful than Mueller does, but I agree there are good reasons for their lack of use. I am not frightened by the Iranian regime, it has graduated from revolutionary fanaticism to self preservation. And even in its early days it was relatively sane. Pakistan is more bothersome. The I.S.I forms a "deep state", and within it are very strong elements with a long-standing alliance with islamicist proxies bolstered against India and now at war with the Pakistani state. And we've all heard about their nuclear program, which the Khan network endeavored to spread abroad. I just take comfort in the fact that I don't live near there and it is chiefly my tax dollars that are at risk.

Blargh, I need to sleep.

October 7, 2011 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


Your opinion of Pixar's films is incorrect.

October 7, 2011 at 4:15 AM  
Blogger Gyan said...

Steven Pinker stays silent about the role of religion in reducing violence.
He rather links the decline in violence to the need of State and rulers that their subjects do not kill each other to the detriment of revenue.

But it can be argued that the rise of centralized states was only possible because of the decline in violence and that the religious precepts and the example of saints were leading factors

October 7, 2011 at 4:19 AM  
Anonymous Eugenick said...

Steve Jobs on Carlyle:

"One of the keys to Apple is Apple's an incredibly collaborative company.
Do you know how many committees we have at Apple?

Zero, we have no committees.
No committees.

We are organized like a start-up.
One person's in charge of iPhone OS software.
One person's in charge of Mac hardware.
One person's in charge of iPhone hardware engineering.
Another person's in charge of worldwide marketing.
Another person's in charge of operations.
We're organized like a start-up.
We're the biggest start-up on the planet.
And we all meet for three hours once a week and we talk about everything we're doing,...
...the whole business.
And there's tremendous teamwork at the top of the company...
...which filters down to tremendous teamwork throughout the company.
And teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks... come through with their part without watching them all the time...
...but trusting that they're gonna come through with their parts.
And that's what we do really well.
And we're great at figuring out how to divide things up into these great teams that we have...
...and all work on the same thing, touch bases frequently...
...and bring it all together into a product.
We do that really well.
And so, what I do all day is meet with teams of people...
...and work on ideas and solve problems... make new products, to make new marketing programs, whatever it is."

October 7, 2011 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

TGGP, I like you so much more than most of the LW/OB types. Your reality checks on Mr. Moldbug's wilder assertions add greatly to UR. But you could perform the same function over there or on Pollyanna Pinkerites. Instead, you put alot of trust in them, which I believe to be misplaced. See, whenever you link to some wacked out idea over that way, the implicit assumption is that, because these guys are smart, Bayesian rationalists, we should take the argument seriously, they have already done all the preceding work, trust them, they're smarter than you, it's just raining. The things that aren't off the wall are either fairly uncontroversial or irrelevant (what the hell is going on with the relationship advice for Aspies seminar lately? Elly Yuds should put a stop to that shit before they ruin the brand).

Yes, we're all going to die (don't tell Hanson!), and the solar system will end us if we don't do the job for it on a shorter time line. Ways of avoiding these eventualities are conceivable. But those trends you don't like are a much greater concern for some than the eventualities, if for no other reason than that those trends seem capable of making the best laid plans of the Singularity Institute moot. Unless they are they working on space ships, as well as "ems"?

Regarding medicine, on which I have much second hand anecdotal data: I would say you are too generous towards the profession in earlier centuries, and thinking about its modern version wrong. Steve has a piece up now about late in life surgery. Yes, these people still die pretty soon. Some of the commenters note that at least some of the surgeries are palliative. I would suggest that looking at all medicine as palliative demonstrates the advance of medicine, more than medicine saving lives (though it does that much more often now also). The amount of non-lethal suffering that modern medicine eliminates is nothing to sneeze at.

How are we doing with our patrimony? I think our host is much too hard on the Founders. Their design has been marred beyond recognition. Modern man curses his ancestors as brutes. You want brutes? You can at least wrap your mind around the motivations of violence in the past. Sure it was petty, self-interested, racist, whatever. Now it seems almost arbitrary, sadistic, or just plain crazy. USG's exercises in the Middle East seem almost ritualistic. WTF are we doing this for?

That Pakistan has had nukes for as long as it has without incident is great, but that is much less certain to continue than the sunrise. As I said, I support Ron Paul's position on Iran, but not because I am optimistic about its rationality. We have made the decision already. If it was a mistake, sorry Europe, but it's not like we would have invaded you again if you had disagreed with our estimation of the problem and done something about it yourself. I find Larison comforting on this subject, and definitely disagree with the hawks, but who knows? That could be a big oops, and it strikes me as a massive increase in entropy, regardless of Iran's intentions. And I'm for postponing the heat death of the universe when we can.

October 7, 2011 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personality cults extended to political rule are good in and of themselves?

So what was wrong with Hitler?

October 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Gabe, I used to spend more time at LW, but I'm uninterested in self-improvement and a number of other topics. But I will say that there is a different style of thinking found there, and many more people are capable of it but unwilling to engage in it. You can call it aspie if you want, but it comes down to the desire to have more accurate beliefs. It's often more fun to come up with witty rhetoric defending our pre-existing position, or the group or mood we identify with. I experience the same thing, and that's why I like having Hopefully Anonymous (one of the more extreme and focused of such thinkers) around to watch my moves. One of the points I made in my lost comment is that Pinker has distortions like the rest of us. But he's a giant among dwarves, someone from a left-to-liberal background who has gone toe-to-toe with the arbiters of P.C pushing HBD (even citing Sailer occasionally). His presentations on violence are how you make an argument. Not through anecdotes intended to illustrate how your political opponents are harmful. There are multiple lines of converging evidence, for both interpersonal violence and war, around the world and through the centuries to pre-history. There are people who can do that for the gloomier take on things. Tino Sanandaji is an excellent example. Derbyshire is certainly better than average, but he's not on that level (though I'm sure he'd whip both when it came to mathematical theory). So sure, you don't have to share Pinker's optimism. Find his shortcomings, look from angles he hasn't explored. But recognize when you make an argument like Mencius' you've got a major hill to climb.

October 7, 2011 at 5:57 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

I heard Pinker on the radio yesterday. Let's just say that I have a different take on why the south has the highest rates of violence in the US.

October 8, 2011 at 4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was almost poetry, Eugenick.

Gabe Ruth said:
>the implicit assumption is that, because these guys are smart, Bayesian rationalists, we should take the argument seriously, they have already done all the preceding work, trust them, they're smarter than you, it's just raining.

Personally I would never treat the opinions of Hanson and Yudkowsky with similar reverence. A confusing fact about Yudkowsky is that he gives Hanson way more respect than he deserves, as a thinker of far lower quality than himself.

Here for example Hanson conflates paedophilia with attraction to adolescents:

That kind of sloppiness is almost entirely absent in Yudkowsky's writings.

I tend to view Yudkowsky and Moldbug as complementary, because Moldbug's areas of interest are the ones in which Yudkowsky's meticulous reasoning style is least useful.

Take the question "Is royalism superior to democracy". Looking into my Yudkowskian tool kit, I can't find any trustworthy numbers to plug into Bayes's theorem. I could play rationalist's taboo with the words royalism and democracy, but the "clusters in thingspace" in our area of discussion are indistinct, so this is likely to increase the complexity of the problem massively for little gain. "Righting a wrong question" is no good here either.

On the other hand, Yudkowskian rationality is great when you are trying to decide if the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics is more likely to be accurate than the Copenhagen interpretation, for example.

October 8, 2011 at 4:50 AM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

Ah yes, falsifiability and reasoning from "farmers were like this" and "foragers were like this". How interesting.

Seriously? Someone who wrote this:

"Farmers look more to a female’s future fertility potential, while foragers and other primates with shorter-term relationships focus more on her current fertility. This turns farmer males into pedophiles, i.e., more interested in younger females. Pedophilia is a sign that a species or a culture has longer term sexual relationships. Which our culture considers to be a good thing. Which makes it ironic that we consider pedophilia a bad thing."

Should be taken seriously?

October 8, 2011 at 5:51 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Incidentally, foragers are better dancers, and farmers and got no butts.

October 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right; because we are blank slatists afraid of the ghost of Hitler.

The Chinese don't practice the Hitler-Holocaust religion.

October 8, 2011 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Chinese don't practice the Hitler-Holocaust religion"

October 9, 2011 at 1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The religion is "Holocaustianity."

Holocaustianity is the faithful acceptance of the dogma of the Holocaust as the proper mythic narrative of 20th century history. You may be counted among the faithful if you accept the following:

1. 6 million Jews were deliberately exterminated by the Nazis during WW II.
2. The choice of this event as the dominant mythic narrative of the 20th century, relegating to obscurity other events, such as the deliberate starvation of 8 to 15 million Ukranian farmers by a largely Jewish Soviet the year before Germans hysterically elected Hitler to power, is not an affront to reason and decency.

You may judge your acceptance of these dogmas by your gut reaction to actions of people who are compared to Nazis vs your gut reaction to people who are compared to Commies. This "still small voice" of within you is your guide.

October 9, 2011 at 1:47 AM  
Blogger James A. Donald said...

TGGP:"And as Pinker has been illustrating, the planet hasn't been rotting since the decline of kings"

Pinker provides evidence that the kind of violence that progressives disapprove of has diminished. He fails to notice that the kind of violence progressives approve of has increased. For example, Detroit was ethnically cleansed by racist violence, and the Congo goes from bad to worse.

Pinker piously notes that Britain used to have the death penalty for a hundred crimes, proudly observes that it no longer does, and fails to notice that there were only a hundred crimes on the books back then. Britain no longer applies the death penalty because everything has been criminalized, except crime which has been decriminalized.

October 9, 2011 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new religion of "Holocaustianity" is a grotesque mimicry of the old religion of Christianity.

1) Christianity centers on the crucifixion of God's only begotten son whereas the Holocaust centers on the annihilation of six million of God's chosen children.

2) For both Christianity and the Holocaust the victim is entirely blameless.

3) For Christians, Jesus is the light of the world. Jews are the self-described ''light of nations''.

4) Both victims experience resurrection; Jesus rises on the third day and Israel rises, Phoenix-like out of the ashes of the Holocaust.

5) Christianity has its spotless virgin; the Holocaust has Anne Frank.

6) On the way to Calvary Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene; the Holocaust has it's ''righteous gentiles''.

7) For Christians, Jesus' death makes salvation possible; the Holocaust forever discredits racist nationalism thereby insuring the triumph liberal
democracy with its commitment to multiculturalism and diversity.

8) For both events the historical evidence is relatively thin, and both rely almost entirely on eyewitness testimony.

October 9, 2011 at 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9) The Church regards deniers as heretics, tools of Satan and will not debate them; Jews regard Revisionists as deniers with a satanic political agenda i.e. anti-Semitism and the resurrection of the radical right.

10) Pilate is the consummate bureaucrat, a mere cog in the machinery of imperial Rome: he does his job efficiently and without passion. His Holocaust
counterpart is Eichmann who was described by Hannah Arendt as exhibiting the ''banality of evil''

11) Both Christianity and the Holocaust have their official houses of worship, churches for Christianity, museums and memorials for the Holocaust. In each case the larger ones contain actual relics.

12) Both have their official chroniclers; Christianity has the Gospels and the Holocaust has the accounts of Hillburg, Daswidowitz, Levin.

13) Christianity had Paul, ''Preacher to the Gentiles''. Elie Wiesel performs that same roll for the Holocaust.

14) Both tales underwent extensive in-house revision. Just as some of the earlier accounts of Jesus, many of them actually quite popular were eventually jettisoned by the early Church Fathers in favor of a more streamlined version, so were many wartime claims about how the Jews were
slaughtered, expunged from their official story.

15) For both Christianity and the Holocaust the actual instruments of death, the cross and the gas chambers have become part of the official iconography

16) Jesus was killed alongside two others but only his death is regarded as having cosmic importance, similarly the Jewish deaths among the 40-60 million
who perished in World War ll.

17) The spiritual elite of Christianity, the clergy claims legitimacy through apostolic succession which spiritually connects them to the Twelve Apostles. Judaism has its elite, ''Holocaust Survivors', ''Children of Holocaust survivors'', ''Children of the Children of holocaust survivors'' which is a kind of ''Holocaustic succession''

18) Christianity blamed the Jews for the crucifixion; Jews blame Christianity for the Holocaust!

19) Christians sometimes speak of a ''Second Coming'', the Jews never stop warning of a second Holocaust

October 9, 2011 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

josh, did he say something about the southern culture of honor or "Scots-Irish" borderer traditions of vengeance?

Philebas, I would have cited the practice of arranged marriage of children. It's found in distinctively farmer/herder cultures and clearly looks to long term fertility.

Steve Johnson, causality is always going to be tricky, but most of that sounds falsifiable.

Anonymous non-holocaustianist, I believe Yglesias has spoken of that narrative as being a myth used to justify current policies. Although he didn't say anything about the Soviet being largely Jewish. And blaming Christianity for the holocaust seems to be a rather fringe position within the "Holocaust industry".

James A. Donald, his evidence was about the overall rate of violence. He doesn't distinguish between good or bad homicide, war, etc. I have no idea why you think progressives approve of violence in the Congo, it is directed against blacks (particularly women, with lots of rapes) and they complain that the west hasn't given it enough attention. Like others you are picking particular areas with violence and saying that refutes a larger trend about a past which included more such areas of greater violence.

Razib discusses many of the issues we've argued about in response to Pinker here:

October 9, 2011 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

"On the other hand, Yudkowskian rationality is great when you are trying to decide if the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics is more likely to be accurate than the Copenhagen interpretation, for example."

That one is actually his biggest mistake.

October 9, 2011 at 9:35 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...


Pinker is right that violence in SS Africa is lower than it was prior to contact with European civilization.

As bad as Africa is (and it largely is a hellhole) Africa was even more primitive pre-colonization than it is today.

Which is not the same thing as arguing violence in Africa is at a desirable level, as some of the "reactionaries" accused you and Pinker of suggesting. Lower levels of violence does not necessarily mean satisfactory levels of violence.

October 9, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

This was a worthy eulogy for Jobs, but the comments from the reactionary/paleocon peanut gallery were as tasteless and useless as one would expect to come from the crankosphere.

The quality of comments in the HBD sphere has suffered a drastic decline over the past two years.

October 9, 2011 at 9:43 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

The answer to my question about how exactly Napoleon defected to the conservative powers is:

Napoleon married the princess of Austria, who belonged to the Habsburg royal house.

The new Empress of France subsequently bore Napoleon a son, Napoleon II, who would have inherited Napoleon's empire and imported the governmental structures of Austria (probably bringing Metternich up to Paris to run Napoleon II's foreign policy) into France had Napoleon's armies not been wiped out during the campaign of 1812.

In other words, Napoleon handed over his Imperial N Class Sovereign Shares on a silver platter to the Habsburgs in exchange for welding his own descendents to one of the oldest, and greatest European dynasties so that the his empire could be governed under conservative, Austrian political structures.

By marrying the Austrian Princess, Napoleon got what he couldn't achieve in battle: a royal dynasty that would have been robust enough to carry his empire into the future in the same way Octavian turned Julius Caesar's conquests into a fully functioning governmental structure.

October 9, 2011 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

By marrying the Austrian Princess, Napoleon got what he couldn't achieve in battle: a royal dynasty that would have been robust enough to carry his empire into the future in the same way Octavian turned Julius Caesar's conquests into a fully functioning governmental structure.

Btw, Metternich was one of the main proponents of having the princess marry Napoleon (even though he denied the idea was his after Napoleon's abdication much like Pierre Trudeau denied having supported Hitler after Stalingrad), presumably to pave the way for Metternich to run the French Empire's foreign policy under the future Napoleon II's regime. From Paris, Metternich would have been in an excellent position to further squash and revolutionary agitation coming from France.

Unfortunately for Metternich, Napoleon decided to go campaigning in 1812 instead of staying with one of his numerous Polish mistresses, and that was the end of that scheme.

October 9, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


I thought that's what you meant but your dates of 1805-1812 didn't properly square with their marriage in 1810--so if you want an answer next time ask a more specific question.

October 10, 2011 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...


That one is actually his biggest mistake.

Indeed. Though that's because both many-worlds and Copenhagen are probably wrong.

October 10, 2011 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger James A. Donald said...

TGGP "[Pinker's] evidence was about the overall rate of violence. He doesn't distinguish between good or bad homicide, war, etc."

He ignores the good homicides and the good wars. He fails to count them.

According to Pinker, when fewer crimes get the death penalty, that is a reduction in violence, but when more things are criminalized, that is not an increase in violence.

According to Pinker, what is happening in the Congo is not war.

When the old people on the ivory coast were democratically outvoted and ethnically cleansed by the new people, not war either.

October 10, 2011 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger James A. Donald said...

TGGP: "I have no idea why you think progressives approve of violence in the Congo"

Observe the progressive account of the Rwandan genocide: The eeeeevil Tutsi caused it by being less black than they should be. Supposedly Tutsi are the same race as Hutu, even though they look conspicuously different, but they have this eeevil provocative horrible racist idea that they are a superior race.

The progressives are similarly oblivious to the role of Hutu militias in the Congo. Progressives support violence in the Congo because it is done by inferior black races against superior black races.

October 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger James A. Donald said...

Pinker takes a number of measures of decline in violence, some of them quite real, many of them false.

Pinker tells us that murders have declined. Googling around for such statistics, the first thing that comes up is, page 14

Which shows a substantial increase in the UK murder rate per thousand from 1900 to the present, and an extraordinary, gigantic, and astonishing rise in indictable offenses per thousand.

There are more real crimes committed, more people in jail, and vastly more actions that the state deems crimes - and if what the state deems a crime is not truly a crime, then that is state violence.

The staggering rise in indictable offenses either represents an increase in private violence, or an increase in state violence, or both. I would guess it to be a moderate rise in private violence, and a gigantic, colossal, terrifying and horrifying rise in state violence against the subject.

In modern times, no one is drawn and quartered, but a lot more people are in jail.

Pinker mistakes progressivism for progress. If less murderers are executed, that is, he thinks, a diminution in violence. If more hard working middle class husbands loose their homes and access to their children, that also, thinks Pinker, is a diminution in violence.

Pinker compares the genocides recorded in the bible, with modern times - but the bible covers thousands of years, while modern times are considerably shorter. Take any one century of biblical time, and typically there are no extraordinary crimes in that century, while there have been quite a few extraordinary crimes in our most recent century.

Pinker reminds us that War has diminished in recent times - meaning diminished since the development of nuclear weapons, and diminished further since the fall of communism, but that diminution is not necessarily because we are more peaceable, but because the risk of extraordinary violence has increased. Nuclear weapons promote peace by making war potentially more dreadful.

The fall of the Soviet Union promoted peace the same way the fall of Napoleon did. World Wars one and two were at least as dreadful as the Napoleonic wars, and arguably a good deal worse. No long term trend is apparent on that timescale.

The widespread peace following the fall of the evil empire resembles the widespread peace following the defeat of Napoleon. If the cold war was mild by historical standards it is largely because World War Three is likely to be a humdinger.

Pinker tells us:

"In Western Europe and the Americas, the second half of the century saw a steep decline in the number of wars, military coups, and deadly ethnic riots."

And the first half of the century?

The reason the second half of the century was more peaceful than the first half, was because the first half was unprecendentaly horrifying.

And what of outside "Westerm Europe and the Americas". The end of colonialism caused a horrifying rise in violence. While India seems to be finally recovering from its abandonment by the British, some parts of Africa are still collapsing with no bottom in sight.

Pinker glibly glosses over this, because that is mostly progressive violence, for example the genocide of the Tutsi, of which progressives rather approve.

October 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

U.J., how can you become all irradical all of a sudden? --Do you hold that we are on some sort of sustainable course? Such a belief would seem to be an underlying necessity for being irradical. I don't believe thus ; I say we are likely headed for upheaval.

October 10, 2011 at 4:51 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

> The quality of comments in the HBD sphere has suffered a drastic decline over the past two years.

We ought to hear more from Michael and TGGP, but one knew that already.

A TGGP with a taste of his own, enclosed and concealed by his solitude, incommunicable, reserved -- an unfathomed TGGP, thus a TGGP of a higher, at any rate a different species: how should you be able to evaluate him, since you cannot know him, cannot compare him?

October 10, 2011 at 7:09 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

A city it is, fair with gracious forms ; a picture on every side! Friends, my friends, it is the salutation of love, if ye desire to traffic.

The eye of Heaven will never gaze on fresher youth than this : a fairer quarry hath never yet been delivered into the hands of the hunter!

Who hath ever beheld earthly forms, so like unto spirit? May no dust of mortality defile their raiment.

Wherefore dost thou cast out from thy presence one so crushed as I am? Great was my hope of a kiss or an embrace.

The wine is of good vintage, drink quickly ; using the propitious hour! Another year, who can count on another springtime?

The guests are gathered in the garden, comrades of the tulip and the rose ; each filling a cup for the memory of the face of his loved one.

How shall I untangle this knot? how solve this mystery?--hard, very hard it is!--a problem troublesome, very troublesome.

Each thread of the hair of Hafiz is woven in the web of a laughing girl's tresses ; it is perilous to abide in a city like this!

October 10, 2011 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I forget Mitchell, have you already explained what the alternative to Copenhagen and Many Worlds is?

The Undiscovered Jew:
I believe others have criticized Pinker for minimizing the deaths associated with colonization in Africa. But yes, the point about prior death tolls is correct.

James A. Donald:
I haven't read Pinker's book, but I think he counts the Congo. He didn't specifically reference it in the links I've placed here (though when he talks about people focusing on African atrocities in the news I assume he's referencing that among other things), but in his diavlog with John Horgan he said it was really bad but the claims about it rivalling world wars were based on inaccurate surveys (the Congo would be one of the last places I'd expect to produce reliable data). So he's a numerical revisionist rather than a denier of something occurring.
I would expect that the recent electoral dispute in the Ivory Coast is too recent to appear in Pinker's book. But my understanding is that it's not comparable in casualties to other major wars in Africa.
I am baffled by your description of the progressive view of the Rwandan genocide. I thought it was the opposite! I've read countless leftists advocate something like the fairness doctrine because those awful hateful Hutus imitated Rush Limbaugh on their radios. Samantha Power wrote a book justifying humanitarian intervention, saying Never Again to Rwanda. And of course there's that movie "Hotel Rwanda" (haven't seen it) which sounds like a latter day Schindler's List. Liberals have been arguing that there is really no difference between Hutu and Tutsi (perhaps well meaning, but wrong), and they blame European colonialists with their silly "Hamitic theory". Among folks I've read Steve Sailer seems most open to granting the Hutus legitimate grievances (just as he does for the latin american left).
I've seen the link about the U.K before, Mencius is fond of citing it, it only goes up to 1997, data from the 21st century here. Pinker acknowledges an upsurge in what Sailer calls the "Great Sixties Freakout", but views it as a deviation from a long-running trend. Crime has of course been dropping in America for a while now. If you click my link for more recent years in the U.K there is a drop but the trend hasn't lasted long enough to be comparable to the U.S. Of course, their homicide peak wasn't comparable to ours either.
Your point about indicatable offenses and imprisonment is an interesting one. To many of us, including Moldbug, a sovereign should not need to be killing its subjects all the time and if it can control people with the threat of violence it should. Most people don't regard mass incarceration as an act of violence, though it is carried out by armed men (perhaps not so armed in the U.K) and would amount to kidnapping if a private citizen did it, but most people aren't libertarians and don't think like that. Interestingly, Pinker leaves himself vulnerable to such a critique since he lists debtors prisons as among the things abolished. And I've heard others argue that on originalist grounds our newfangled long imprisonment terms are "cruel and unusual" punishments.
"If more hard working middle class husbands loose their homes and access to their children, that also, thinks Pinker, is a diminution in violence."
My best guess is that you are referring to domestic violence laws, is that correct?

October 10, 2011 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I don't think the bible has anything like as thorough documentation of long periods as we have of our current century. My recollection is that he cited the Bible regarding attitudes toward genocide rather than its frequency, since used other figures for the portion of deaths from violence in the distant past.
I myself find the nuclear peace theory plausible, though I respect John Mueller who thinks little of it (since nations have been unwilling to use them in war since WW2). And the Napoleonic Wars gave less of a long peace than WW2 did. Newly royalist France invaded Spain to restore the monarchy, and years afterward the Carlists repeatedly revolted. Portugal likewise fought civil wars with intervention from outside powers. Italy & Germany fought wars of unification (and independence, in the case of some Italian states), 1848 featured revolutions in a number of countries, the Greeks fought a war of independence (arguable if we should include it in the mainstream of Europe, but I think a great power conflict involving Great Britain should count) and was followed by a Crimean War. The Franco-Prussian war found Germany & France fighting again, and a new French regime had to invade Paris to put down communards who refused the terms of surrender. Post WW2 conflicts in Europe seem mostly restricted to uprisings internal to the eastern bloc. Wikipedia has a list here. Looking at it, the Franco-Prussian war seems like a better marker of a war that led to a long period of peace than the Napoleonic Wars.
"If the cold war was mild by historical standards it is largely because World War Three is likely to be a humdinger."
Between who?
"The reason the second half of the century was more peaceful than the first half, was because the first half was unprecendentaly horrifying."
Taken as a whole, the 20th century is estimated to have been the most peaceful in history. But this depends adjusting the number of deaths by total population size. If you use absolute numbers, then I'm sure the century involved horrific numbers of people having household accidents.
At what point would you say India began recovering? It seems to me they had a major bout of violence with partition but aside from that really haven't been comparable to decolonized Africa. It's Africa for bright signs have only appeared pretty recently.

October 10, 2011 at 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TUJ is right about the paleo-sphere.

Anyone read Charlton's latest posts on Sheldrake and evolution? He's gone from having some interesting thoughts on Christianity to embracing really farout, wacky pseudo-science.

Anyone got any newer bloggers they want to rep? Preferably longform and interesting.

October 11, 2011 at 2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, RS's comment about TGGP is spot on.

TGGP's commentary has massively improved in the last few years. Dude is a future kingpin within the Sailersphere.

October 11, 2011 at 2:42 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

I caught the first ten minutes of hotel Rwanda on TV. I believe its version was that Hutus and Tutsis are visually indistinguishable to all but each other. "Hatred" as always is random and irrational.

On the other hand I have witnessed seemingly normal people justify violence against whites in South Africa.

October 11, 2011 at 3:31 AM  
Anonymous Hutson said...

Alexander Pope's First Pastoral (1709) was dedicated to Sir William Trumbull. A footnote explains "Our authors friendship with this gentleman commenced at very unequal years ; he was under sixteen, but Sir William above sixty, and had lately resigned his employment of secretary of state to King William."

Wow! A sixteen year old poet befriending the sec. of state and dedicating poetry to him! Talk about the good ol days. Can you imagine a sixteen year old today, outside of immediate family, having any sort of friendship with a cabinet secretary? I suppose any future poets down the street at Dunbar High School would just get the shit beat of them anyway.

Did you know the White House celebrated the Third Annual Fall Harvest last week? Yes, The First Lady invited over some kids from Harriet Tubman Elementary & George Bancroft Elementary over to the Big House. Sadly, the children from Stonewall Jackson Elementary in Alexandria were not invited. From the transcript:

MRS. OBAMA: And then we're going to make some snacks. Mmm. Well, let me welcome everybody who's here. We've got our tried and true students from Tubman and Bancroft. Where is everybody? Bancroft, raise your hands. Tubman, raise your hands. And where are your teachers? Raise your hands. Where are they? Where are they? There -- say hi to your teachers.

(Yea! Throw your hands up! Bancroft in the house! Tubman in the house!
Awww yea! here comes the Supreme Court! Sonia: Bronx is in the house! Elena: Manhattan is in the house!! Ruth: Brooklyn in the house!)

MRS. OBAMA: Twitter fans in the house. You guys ready? Got your thumbs ready?


(my comment - Twitter is definitely in the motherf___ing hizzouse)

MRS. OBAMA: Tell me, why are we here? Yes.

CHILD: Because we have to, like, cook -- and pizzas.

MRS. OBAMA: Pizzas is a good reason to be here. You see that? Having a little pizza.

Why do you think we're here?

CHILD: We’re here because, like, we want to, like, help the White House garden.

MRS. OBAMA: Excellent. Excellent. So you guys have learned some things since you’ve been here right? Well, we don't just pick these vegetables for the White House. I mean, we are going to eat these vegetables -- the President, me, Malia, Sasha, Grandma. Bo doesn't really eat them.

That is amazing! The First Lady tricked these little black kids into harvesting her crops while making it seem as though as was doin' them a favor! Hey Michelle, do you know why blacks now live in 'food deserts?'

In other news, did you know the President has a Council on Women and Girls? Check it out!

Michelle also started up the "Let's Move" Initiative. Check it out - it's on twitter. Michelle: When I move you move - Children: Just like that!

Got carried away again.

October 11, 2011 at 4:49 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

In 1874 2 people were arrainged for homicide in NYC. 1 was held for trial. This rose substantially in 1875. Six people were held for trial.

October 11, 2011 at 5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Book: "Murders in New York City"
Author: Eric H. Monkkonen
Year: 2000

October 11, 2011 at 5:46 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

More data contra pinker.

October 11, 2011 at 6:36 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

I really don't have to refute any of Pinker's data on rates of violence, or claim he's glossing over any areas. I trust his numbers. But he is wrong about causality, about human nature, and about what should be done. These are not just empirical questions, and since that is all you care about, you have trouble objecting to him. I bring philosophical and aesthetic beliefs and opinions to the table which not everyone agrees with, I am not confused about that. But to say this is "witty rhetoric defending our pre-existing position, or the group or mood we identify with" or using "anecdotes intended to illustrate how your political opponents are harmful" is condescending. He has a metaphysic also, and it informs the real meaning that I object to.

In my lifetime I expect to see either the USG implement hard and heavy handed socialism (much more explicit than current version, though it may well arrive gradually), or fall into anarchy (which will eventually yield to a more right leaning order over a diminished population). And I lay this at the feet of a modernity that has destroyed any sense of place or vocation in man by convincing him that anything that told him he couldn't have his way is exploiting and oppressing him. (Tangentially, have you ever read Love in the Ruins? It's sort of a cross between Wells' Time Machine and David Foster Wallace.)

Also, thanks for the link to Razib. I enjoyed his bemused take on postcolonialism's cluelessness.

Admitting that they are both brainier than I am, I have the same impression of Hanson vs. Yudkowski, and of Yudkowski and MM being complimentary. EY is also an entertaining writer, but his subject matter is usually less interesting.

October 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Gabe, I agree that causality is a hell of a lot harder to establish. And we don't know what's going to happen in the future. I am disputing Mencius' account of our long decline from the age of kings. It's still possible we'd have been better off sticking with kings (although just as anarchy appears to be an unstable equilibrium, I view kingship as fragile in the face of technological changes, with crypto-locked corporate sovereignty an interesting hypothetical for the future).

I haven't noticed any improvement on my part, but perhaps I have less time to comment and that brings up the average quality?

October 11, 2011 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

More on causality: I wouldn't say it's not an empirical topic. You can do experiments, it's just hard in many situations.

October 11, 2011 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Experiments proving causality may be theoretically possible, but in our world hard is an understatement. But otherwise no disagreement here. I am content to say that there is no such thing as stable equilibrium for mortal beings with our peculiar nature.

The distortions of reality and incentives created by modernity and democracy lead to a progressively less stable situation, and the longer it goes on, the more impossible course correction becomes, and the more death and destruction will come when reality reasserts itself.

Regarding your improvement, you're probably on to something with the time constraint. You used to write lengthy, point-by-point comments that were between 50 and 75% good, with the rest seeming intentionally obtuse. Now the percentage of good is much better.

October 12, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

If you take a long term perspective, we may become adapted to modernity, although one of the most distinctive aspects of modernity is our lack of adaptation to it (we have not expanded to the Malthusian limit), so the "modernity" of our adapted descendants could look very different.

October 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Also, I think I'm just as obtuse as I was before, but no man can be judge in his own case.

October 12, 2011 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

TGGP said

"I forget Mitchell, have you already explained what the alternative to Copenhagen and Many Worlds is?"

Let's first distinguish between two versions of the Copenhagen interpretation. The first version, the original version, says that wavefunctions are not real, they are just calculational devices, like probability distributions. The formalism of quantum mechanics involves wavefunctions, and it also involves "observables" - like "position of the electron". What I would regard as the real Copenhagen interpretation says that the observables are real, not the wavefunctions.

However, because quantum mechanics does not offer a model of the dynamics of observables, only the dynamics of their probabilities, physicists got into the habit of speaking about wavefunctions as the physical states, and so we get the second, bastardized version of the Copenhagen interpretation, in which wavefunctions are real, and there is a special process, "collapse of the wavefunction", which occurs when a "measurement" happens.

Then we get someone like Eliezer, coming in late in this history, saying that the principal choice in interpeting QM lies between "wavefunction is real and collapses" and "wavefunction is real and does not collapse and contains parallel universes", and asserting that the second option is rationally favored.

Just to complete this picture, I also need to emphasize that the many worlds interpretation does not explain the probabilities! If you count the worlds naively, each world exists once, each possible outcome occurs once, and all outcomes are equally probable, which is empirically wrong.

So the intellectual situation is a mess, and the fallback position should always be the first version of the Copenhagen interpretation, along with the understanding that quantum mechanics is incomplete.

As for what a complete physics would look like, no-one knows, but I say something on that topic here.

October 13, 2011 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Steven Weinberg complained about that lost interpretation of CI holding back a "realist" theory of the wave function in Against Philosophy.

October 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Also, Robin Hanson's "Mangled Worlds" tried to derive Born probabilities from counting universes, but I never found it that convincing.

October 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Rahul said...

Mr.Steve, You have become an unforgettable icon for the world. You will be a role model for all budding inventors in the future.
I pray that your soul rests in peace.

October 15, 2011 at 11:53 AM  

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