2014 May 24 Saturday
Romans Overrun Because They Turned Away From Jupiter?

If Jupiter is a real God doesn't it make sense that he would have helped cause the fall of Rome as Romans turned away from him and toward Christianity?

For those who doubt Jupiter's power consider: When the Romans believed in Jupiter and other gods of the Roman pantheon Rome expanded into a massive empire. Coincidence?

Janus, Jupiter, Saturn, Genius, Mercury, Apollo, Mars, Vulcan, Neptune, Sol, Orcus, Liber, Tellus, Ceres, Juno, Luna, Diana, Minerva, Venus, and Vesta. Surely, that's a lot of diety figures to anger. Is it any wonder that The Visigoths under Alaric, the Vandals under Geiseric, and the Ostrogoths under Totila managed to each sack Rome?

This lesson of history has been ignored for centuries. I say we rebuild their temples and see if our luck improves.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 24 09:20 PM 
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2014 May 22 Thursday
Thailand Coup Against Rural Proles And Their Corrupt Leaders

The Thai military has risen to support the most skilled and accomplished Thais against people so foolish that they support a nepotistic and corrupt government.

The coup was seen as a victory for the elites in Thailand who have grown disillusioned with popular democracy and have sought for years to diminish the electoral power of Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who commands support in the rural north. Unable to win elections, the opposition has instead called for an appointed prime minister, and pleaded with the military for months to step in.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the coup was unjustified.

“There is no justification for this military coup,”

But the government was hopelessly corrupt and voters are hopelessly irresponsible and foolish. Democracy failed. What the Thai military ought to do: institute a very restricted voting franchise. Current and former military, medical doctors, engineers, and other skilled workers should get to work. Everyone else? Nope.

Will American government some day deteriorate so far that a substantial fraction of the population will press the military to stage a coup?

I am reminded of Santiago Chile before the military overthrew the government of socialist President Salvador Allende. In Santiago middle class women threw corn at soldiers in the streets as a way to tell the soldiers they were chicken and afraid to overthrow Allende. As Allende's government grabbed control of businesses and messed up the economy the non-prole women were furious that the military did not step in. Will we reach that state ourselves some day?

By Randall Parker 2014 May 22 08:33 PM 
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Home Rent Or Buy Calculator

The New York Times has a pretty slick rent or buy calculator.

What I'd like to know: what are reasonable numbers to put in for home price growth rate, rent growth rate, investment return rate, and inflation rate. Any guesses? Why?

If one could know that hyperinflation is coming then taking on debt to buy real stuff becomes a simple matter. Yes, do it!

By Randall Parker 2014 May 22 08:24 PM 
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European Central Bank Plans Negative Rate On Deposits

Strange days have found us.

What Europe needs: A Versailles Treaty as a result of surrendering to Russia after, say, losing a war over the Baltic countries. The treaty would force them to pay punitive damages to Russia and they would have to borrow lots of money from the (created out of thin air) to do it. This would cause inflation. No worry about excessive bank deposits then.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 22 08:11 PM 
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2014 May 17 Saturday
Rising Global Terrorist Death Toll?

Governments no longer fight each other very much. But these numbers by former NSA chief General Keith Alexander indie political violence is growing.

The number of terrorist attacks in 2012—do you know how many there were globally?

How many?

Six thousand seven hundred and seventy-one. Over ten thousand people killed. In 2013, it would grow to over ten thousand terrorist attacks and over twenty thousand people killed.

At the 20,000 per year death toll rate it would take nearly 100 years to equal the death toll of the battle for Stalingrad in World War II. It would only take about 15 to 55 years to equal the death toll from Julius Caesar's pacification of Gaul.

Keith Alexander thinks we are at greater risk of terrorist attack if we do not use lots of computers to process through communications to discover terrorist plots.

What I would like to know: Will terrorist attacks become more deadly in the future? Will they even become more deadly in Western countries?

What I'd also like to know: is there some level of terrorist attacks at which the American government would become a lot more choosy over who it lets into the country? What is that level? Will we reach it some day?

By Randall Parker 2014 May 17 08:45 PM 
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2014 May 15 Thursday
Liberal Faith In Universal Prekindergarten

In an article about higher median income in Canada (in which no mention of comparative immigration policy appears) NY Times high priest, er, I mean political columnist Nicholas Kristof opines on the incredible importance of pre-kindergarten education.

The top six hedge fund managers and traders averaged more than $2 billion each in earnings last year, partly because of the egregious “carried interest” tax break. President Obama has been unable to get financing for universal prekindergarten; this year’s proposed federal budget for pre-K for all, so important to our nation’s future, would be a bit more than a single month’s earnings for those six tycoons.

It does not matter that early childhood education provides no lasting benefit. A rational realist might think early childhood eduction has no solid base of evidence demonstrating its benefit.. But someone who needs a comforting secular faith in humanity is going to embrace one. A strong emotional need to be comforted by the prospect of utopia (if only the world would listen to the vanguard of the dictatorship of one's secular faith) is plenty enough to block out discomforting evidence.

Spending a lot more money on education really does not help.

So why the liberal faith in humanity? My working hypotheses: many people, liberals, especially, want to avoid the emotional discomfort that would result from accepting a realistic view of humanity. A realistic view based on the evidence would so cut off options and fantasies.

Update: Another hypothesis to explain liberal faith in prekindergarten as the key: a liberal mental handicap.

Think about just how desperate it is to think that only by intervening in the intellectual development of 3 year olds can the Great American Test Gap be closed. I mean, I'd be embarrassed to embrace ridiculous hopes. But shameless people promote this policy at the national level and billions of dollars gets spent on a ridiculous dream that has been tried and failed for decades.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 15 09:44 PM 
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2014 May 14 Wednesday
Illegal Alien Murderers Get To Stay

If you expect to be poorly governed, with national policies set in ways that work against the best interests of the majority, you won't be disappointed. Stephen Dinan reports on how the Obama administration won't even deport criminals.

Immigration officials knowingly released dozens of murderers and thousands of drunken drivers back into the U.S. in 2013, according to Obama administration statistics that could undercut the president’s argument that he is trying to focus on the most serious criminals in his immigration enforcement.

I think we need a way to lobby lots of billionaires to get stuff fixed. The government isn't going to listen to us when we protest against insanity. But the government would do something about it if some of the billionaires lined up on the same side as the middle class on some issue.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 14 09:39 PM 
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Lake Woebegone America, Where Most Are Above Average

Why did our ancestors ever give the proles the vote? What were they thinking? Most Americans think that they are smarter than the average person, while richer Americans are more likely than others to say that the country as a whole is unintelligent. The richer people are correct of course.

The latest results from YouGov show that most Americans (55%) think that they are smarter than the average American - meaning that the average American thinks that they are smarter than the average American. A third of the country (34%) say that they are about as smart as the average person, while only 4% say that they are less intelligent than average Americans. People with higher levels of educational attainment say that they are smarter than most Americans, with fully 51% of people with post-graduate degrees saying that they are 'much more intelligent' than the average American.

Most people aren't smart enough to realize how dumb they are. David Dunning and Justin Kruger, social psychology researchers, have gathered evidence about how much the incompetents are unable to realize how clueless they are.

This is a big problem in the workplace and in politics. The less able people in the workplace think they are being discriminated against. Whereas they are less productive or counter-productive. They vote for candidates who will tell them it is not their fault. Plus, we have low paid left wing commentators who certainly think people like them deserve more and that people who make more money deserve less.

This problem is getting worse as the less bright make more babies.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 14 09:10 PM 
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2014 May 03 Saturday
Quoting Winston Churchill Will Get You Arrested In England

The English obviously need something like the American First Amendment.

The leader of the Liberty GB party Paul Weston, who was arrested yesterday for breaching a Section 27 Dispersal Notice, is now possibly facing imprisonment for 2 years.

Mr Weston, a candidate in the 22 May European Elections in the South East, was arrested on 26 April in front of Winchester Guildhall for quoting in public a passage critical of Islam written by Winston Churchill, using a megaphone.

Then they upgraded the charge to Racially Aggravated Crime.

The Daily Mail repeats the quote from Churchill's The River War. I wonder if The Daily Mail will be prosecuted too.

'How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!,' wrote Churchill.

'Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.

'The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

'A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

'The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. 'Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. 'No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.'

Powerful and feared factions do not want their feelings hurt and those eager to appease them have set up laws to enforce the protection of their dear feelings. But wait, is this really about feelings? Or is it about intimidation and silencing of some people so that other people can have more power?

The River War is available for free online. Published in 1902.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 03 08:52 PM 
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Why Corrupt Bankers Can Get Away With It

Why Only One Top Banker Went to Jail for the Financial Crisis. Many reasons. Read the whole thing if you want to understand.

One interesting note: "Too big to fail" is used inside the US government as a reason not to go after really big financial firms. The government does not want to seriously damage a huge bank due to fears of financial panic if one of them goes down as a result.

"Too big to fail" banks should be broken up. But they so have the power to prevent hat from happening. So that is just one of many things about American governance and American society that will stay broken.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 03 08:33 PM 
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2014 May 01 Thursday
$15 Minimum Wage For Seattle?

The odds have risen that Seattle will become more of an upper class city. Mayor Ed Murray's plan will speed up gentrification if passed.

On the one hand, the city could cancel many of the benefits by expanding public housing for the unemployed and by giving the unemployed more other welfare benefits. But a $15 min wage will make it impossible for the least skilled to get any kind of job. I see many benefits from a higher minimum wage and one of the biggest benefits is the impact on immigration.

This is part a larger movement that will accelerate the departure of lower classes ofrom many cities.

San Francisco's minimum wage stands at $10.74. The Los Angeles City Council is debating a $15.37 minimum wage for hotel workers. The Bay Area city of Richmond, at next week's City Council meeting, will consider gradually raising its $9 municipal minimum wage to $12.30. Voters in the tiny city of SeaTac, Wash., recently approved a $15 minimum for certain workers in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport area.

I have argued that red state politicians need to raise their minimum wages before poor unemployed red start workers flee high minimum wage paradises for the plains states and other Republican strongholds.

A higher minimum wage is one of several policy options that could make any jurisdiction have a more affluent populace.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 01 08:25 PM 
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Saw A Silenced TV Program Today

The volume was off and a few talking heads were going at it as I waited in line at a business place. I think the topic was sports. It occurred to me that I had not been in the same room as an operational TV for many months. Watching them reminded me that I'm way better off not watching.

Here is my advice on TV: Do not watch it. Really. Kick it.

Do you watch TV? Try getting your cable TV disconnected. You might go through withdrawal for some months. But eventually it will pass.

How I kicked TV: I accidentally cut the TV cable while clipping vines. I did not realize I did it. The TV didn't work the next day and I figured I must have forgot to pay the bill. Decided to use the opportunity to stop watching. Some days later I figured out I had cut the cable. I thought, hey, that was a good accident. So I walked down to the cable TV store (happened to be close to where I lived then) and closed the account.

Why do not watch it: First of all, it is a waste of time. Second, it is an obstacle in your intellectual and career development. It steals time away from pursuits that will make you feel deeply satisfied with your life. Plus, it ladles out big continuing doses of propaganda that make you buy into a collective mythology that powerful people want you to believe. Go for your intellectual liberation and stop dosing your mind with propaganda.

By Randall Parker 2014 May 01 08:06 PM 
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