The purge

Rename your schools, change the logo of your restaurant, tear down the memorials to your heroes. Every day a new demand for submission and erasure, and the beaten dogs eagerly comply more often than not.

Having more or less won the culture war, the left is doing what the left does best and executing a purge. What’s the point of winning a revolution if you can’t, afterwards, destroy all your enemies?

What’s happening now is nothing new. During the Roman Empire this practice was called damnatio memoriae, and–worryingly–first became popular during the death of the Republic. In the Soviet Union they had a saying: ‘the future is always certain, and yet the past is always changing.’

It’s an authoritarian tic. The one who believes in freedom has nothing to fear from history, because he isn’t trying to control others with a manufactured narrative. He has nothing to fear from symbols he disagrees with, because there is no one he is oppressing who might cling to them.

It doesn’t matter to them that there are many people who admire Robert E. Lee, who think that Confederate soldiers were often brave and worthy of a memorial, or that the Rising Sun and the Confederate flags aren’t synonymous with Nanking and slavery. The victorious Union contented itself with a material victory over the South, but the people who attack it now want to rip the very marrow of pride out of Southerners.

It is evil to demand that any people live eternally in shame. Not when the history of the world is so bloodstained that you couldn’t find a single person with a thousand years’ worth of innocent forebears. It is wrong to demand, as the price of forgiveness, a man’s pride. Not Japanese, not Germans, not Southerners, and certainly not white people as a whole. It is wrong to demand it, and it is cowardly to submit to such a demand–that’s my opinion of all the people who give in day in and day out in the hopes of making their lives just a little easier. They’re selling us all out.

To authoritarians, only their opinion matters. Only their feelings matter. Only their interpretation of history should be told. Only their icons should be displayed in public spaces. That perspective is not worthy of an American.

I suspect the reason that this embryo of intolerance and instability continues to grow is that there are fewer and fewer people who believe the old values. There are fewer people who are, in any sense, Americans.

Give PR back to Spain

A brilliant comment from from ‘JamesInOhio’ at WaPo follows from Will’s column, “What Happens In Puerto Rico Won’t Stay There”

The best solution would be to return Puerto Rico to Spain. Declare that Puerto Rico was improperly taken from Spain and let Spain have it back. To sweeten the deal for Spain, the U.S. would agree to assist in getting Puerto Rico’s financial mess straightened out, and agree to a defense treaty to militarily protect Puerto Rico, if Spain wishes. Puerto Rico was created as a Spanish colony, is culturally Spanish, and is much more suited to be a territory of Spain than of the U.S.

Here here. I’d be fully on board with this.

I actually believe that all US holdings that aren’t contiguous with the lower 48 be returned to their inhabitants, including Alaska and Hawaii. Hawaiians hate us properly but would sell us Pearl Harbor for use as a base, and Alaska would certainly sell us their oil, so what’s the point of these places being states?

Much less Puerto Rico, which is an absolute parasite. At least you can drive through the parasite states of the lower 48 and, potentially, visit a national park in them. That’s not nothing, for the taxpayer. It’s not much, but the difference between not much and zero is immense. Propositions with little value are debatable. Propositions with no value are not.

The comment is revealing insofar as it touches upon the point that, in the modern world, colonies are more like bloodsucking insects than resources. We’d have to beg Spain to take PR back. High maintenance girlfriend Puerto Rico wouldn’t want to be taken back by Spain, either, because Spain isn’t rich enough to put up with them.

The leftwing commenters are all of a similar mind, though: we should pay for Puerto Rico’s financial mistakes forever, because colonialism. Ah, no. That’s not even remotely rational.

A saucy comment suggests that, were we to cut PR loose, they’d form alliances with hostile nations. So what? Cuba did that. What’s another intransigent banana republic to us? No one south of the Rio Grande has US interests at heart, and that includes present day Puerto Rico.

I’m not saying it’s aliens, but–

KIC 8462852 Star Mystery Just Got Even Deeper

Astronomers Bradley E. Schaefer from Louisiana State University takes a different approach to find out more about this star. He looked over a collection of sky photographs in the archives at Harvard College Observatory, a collection which covers the entire sky from 1890 to 1989.

Then he measured 131 magnitudes of KIC 8462852 star from 1890–1989. Results? The star appears to be dimming slowly, over the course of the past century;

KIC 8462852 star displays a secular dimming at an average rate of 0.164 magnitudes per century. This century-long dimming is unprecedented for any main sequence star. Such stars should be very stable in brightness, with evolution making for changes only on time scales of many millions of years.

Of course there are many possible explanations for the other data (which are all, themselves, outlandish in their own way) but none of them seem to account for this. Why would a star dim at this rate? One hypothesis is that a Dyson sphere/swarm is under construction before our very eyes.

It’s not necessarily the case, but what is cute is that, for astronomers, being the first person to rule out ‘aliens’ is like a race. Mark my words, astronomers, one day it will be aliens–and the lot of you will wind up feeling very silly. Or, I don’t know, maybe you’ll go and scream into your collective pillows like a lovestruck teen girl.

Spee!

Richard Fernandez wrote an excellent article regarding the moral hazard of large organizations, but kicked it off with a bit of a moot point:

Winston Churchill memorably predicted the end of the German East Asia Squadron when it slipped out of Tsing-tao harbor under Admiral Maximilian von Spee. “He was a cut flower in a vase, fair to see yet bound to die.”  Winston knew that the Spee’s s squadron however imposing and bravely led had no means of support.  Sooner or later it would come to grief, which it duly did.

In drawing this parallel, he runs afoul of my admiration for Admiral Spee. The eventual destruction of Spee’s East Asia Squadron was one of the low-lights of Royal Navy history, and I’m sure that’s not what Churchill had in mind when he described the squadron as a ‘cut flower.’ Perhaps Spee was a cut flower, but one determined the prick the limeys with whatever thorns he had.

The Battle of Coronel, where Spee ran into the first British attempt to stop him, resulted in 1500 British dead, and the Germans hardly suffered a toothache in return. Emden, detached from Spee’s squadron, went on to become one of the most successful commerce raiders in history while operating alone and without support. This gripping story is all told in Massie’s Castles of Steel.

So it’s exactly the opposite of the metaphor Fernandez wished to make. The Royal Navy was the one, in this situation, that was ‘too big to fail.’ Spee did more damage than anyone could have envisioned, including the man himself. There’s a reason the Germans named a class of heavy cruiser after him.

Pack it in, again

I’ve mentioned before that our armed forces are well on their way to complete destruction, if not already there. At the hands of an enemy? Yes; an enemy within.

One Dr. Craig Luther elaborates on the point in Frontpage Mag:

What I want to speak to is his administration’s systematic destruction of the 200+ year-old culture of the U.S. military. This “multicultural makeover,” happening right before our eyes, threatens to undermine the very fabric of our armed forces. The forced acceptance of open homosexuality and the burgeoning hostility toward Christianity; the gratuitous degradation of our troops (e.g., forcing ROTC cadets to march in red high heels to experience what it’s like to be a woman; making male soldiers wear simulated lactation devices, or lecturing them on “white privilege,” dare I go on?); the “full-court press” to make our forces more diverse, most alarmingly by opening up combat positions (even special forces) to female soldiers; and the relentless purging from the ranks of dozens of fine general officers whose only “offense” was their failure to “get with the program” — all of this, like some nightmarish “progressive” Blitzkrieg, is now wreaking havoc with our reluctant service members, the objective being that of a complete and irreversible cultural transformation.

What I like about this article is the palpable anger with which it was written. The good doctor was so angry while writing this he wasn’t even pausing to break paragraphs. The reason I like that is because this situation calls for anger. When I wrote my own post I felt very much the same way.

The difference between Luther and I is that he seems to think this would stop if a particular man were dis-employed from his position as Secretary of the Navy. That is extremely optimistic, bordering on naivete. The ideas that animate our elites can’t power something like a military, and also can’t brook the presence of a competing idea. It might as well be written in stone.

The greatest fighting force on the planet is being hollowed out in place. It looks, from the outside, like the same old military. But it isn’t. It’s missing both the people and the ideas required to fight. All of the expensive gear in the world will not save them.

Soon enough the military is just going to be a jobs program that doesn’t–or actually, can’t–fight. I don’t see any way to reverse this, but I would like not to have to pay for such a bad joke. At least the Euros slashed their military budgets. I suspect we’ll get the worst of both worlds, though: a joke of a military that’s also hugely expensive.

Windy cities

Earlier I criticized Cities: Skylines for portraying wind power so poorly that it is nearly the exact opposite of reality. Which is to say as cheap, reliable, and powerful. Perhaps the developers are too focused on highly detailed traffic simulators to accurately depict the other elements of city building. More likely, they were pushing an agenda, which is not a very nice thing to do in the sim genre.

A reality check into the actual world of wind power was circulating this week in the conservative blogosphere (how I hate that word) with this incredible title:

“Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment”

I say it’s an incredible title because, in addition to being hard to believe, everything about the story is right there. The article itself is just a series of footnotes in which you’ll find many depressing examples of how unworkable green dreams aren’t confined to video game developers. I’m pretty sure the turbines in Skylines didn’t cost millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Then again, the turbines in Skylines work, too. That’s the rub.

The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer. School officials’ original estimates found the turbine would save it $44,000 in electricity annually, far more than the $8,500 they actually generated. Under the original optimistic scenario, the turbines would have to last for 22.5 years just to recoup the costs, not accounting for inflation. If viewed as an investment, the turbines had a return of negative 99.14 percent.

Would have it killed them to say: “Sorry, we blew your money.” No. It’s a ‘learning experience.’ Once upon a time if an official entrusted with the public funds had covered himself in this kind of infamy, he would be slathered with pine tar, tied to a log, and carried out of town. That treatment would surely induce a little humility in even the most shameless of the bobble-headed mandarins who populate our bureaucracies.

Perhaps these particular wind turbines were mismanaged, in a bad location, or of poor construction quality. Their problems seem to mirror those of larger wind farms, though: underused, hard to maintain, and expensive.

Planned obsolescence

Earlier this month I asked the question: when robots can do all of our manual labor, what will the erstwhile manual laborers do?

As if summoned by magic, Fred Reed decided to write an article on this very subject which was republished in Unz Review. Reed spares neither liberal nor conservative shibboleths:

Cognitive stratification has political consequences. It leads liberals to think that their client groups can go to college. It leads conservatives to think that with hard work and determination…..

It ain’t so. An economic system that works reasonably well when there are lots of simple jobs doesn’t when there aren’t. In particular, the large number of people at IQ 90 and below will increasingly be simply unnecessary.

It’s nonsense to suggest that everyone could go to college. Too many are going right now, even. A person with the IQ of a warm summer day has real limits, and it’s wrong to foster false hopes in him or give him the impression that his station is due to his own laziness or weakness. People deserve to know the truth about themselves.

What’s coming down the pipe is bad news for the back half of the bell curve. I expect there to be an ameliorating factor, though, which isn’t mentioned in Reed’s piece. We agree that in the near future robots will displace the least intelligent people. But I also believe that not too long after that they’ll displace the smartest as well. The rising tide will lift all boats drown everyone.

And isn’t that the essence of egalitarianism to begin with?

Don’t rock the vote baby

If you reenfranchise violent criminals, who do they vote for?

In his speech, McAuliffe anticipated a strong response from Republicans, who said the order’s lack of distinction between violent crimes and less serious offenses will give murderers and rapists the right to vote, serve on juries, hold public office and notarize documents.

“There may be some individuals who will try and demagogue this issue and will make reckless accusations,” McAuliffe said. “Our action today does not pardon or change the sentence for any man or woman affected by this plan. These individuals have completed their sentences. They have atoned for their actions.”

The Democratic party must have a self-esteem problem. By their own actions, they believe that if murderers were given the right to vote, those criminals will punch the ticket for D. Perhaps there’s something about their platform that appeals to rapists?

Maybe we should break up

At first we were all Britishmen. Then we were all white people. Then we were all Christian. Then we were, at least, all of the people who believed in the foundational principles. For a brief period of time we were just a bunch of people who absurdly insisted they were Americans. What ties bind us now? None. We are strangers who hate each other, fighting over the (illusory) control of state power. That dynamic less resembles a functioning society and more the part of the Hunger Games where all of the contestants were dropped in near a cache of weapons.

The USA is, as of now, under these conditions, a nonsense union. It will therefore go the way of the other unhappy marriages, such as the USSR and, soon enough, the EU. As exhausted and bankrupt in every sense as we are now, I don’t think there would be much of a fight if someone wanted to leave.

One reason politics are as rancorous as they are is because we are watching a nation with no good reason to exist slowly tear itself apart. In geologic terms this is called rift formation, and generally involves a load of fire and lava. When I look at the center-right and particularly the boneless chicken breasts at the National Review, I see people who are shouting themselves hoarse at a tectonic event. At least that’s what they were doing initially. Lately they seem tired and cranky, and in need of a nap.

At the moment I’m enjoying the groaning and gnashing of teeth from the likes of Peggy Noonan. One of the reasons the alt-right hates the right and wants to destroy them is because the mainstream rightists have proven themselves to be ineffective. They haven’t ‘conserved’ anything. Oh, well, they tried. Isn’t that what counts? No, in fact, it isn’t.

If conservatism were a private company, nonperformance of this magnitude would be a serious issue and perhaps cause for a dash of humility in its handmaids. Heads would roll. Yet Noonan and her ilk continue to behave as though the conservative movement owes them a favor for being ever so reasonable and sensitive all through the years. I have an idea: the next time the NR has a cruise, why don’t they do us a favor and not come back. We’ll give their watery mag over to Derbyshire, who they once excommunicated for dissenting from left-wing ideas. To think I used to read them regularly.

I used to be reasonable too, though, and I as a result hardly ever disagreed with anything the NR printed. The ‘reason’ in reasonable, if you were wondering, doesn’t refer to a capacity for independent thought. Someone who thinks for himself might use his reason to arrive at a crazy idea like, for example, suggesting the United States is past its expiry date, or that someone with a penis is a man. What the ‘reason’ in reasonable refers to is this: the reason I believe this is because everyone else does, and how could they all be wrong?

The staff of the NR will go to their graves without seeing that the center they occupy has been defined by the left. They only say what they’re permitted to. They may even only think what they’re permitted to, which is a much more depressing idea.

Of course it’s Trump and Clinton. An unprincipled nation with no moral center deserves unprincipled leaders with no moral center. It can hardly produce anything else. If Americans look at Trump and Clinton and don’t like what they see, they should try a mirror next time.

Why are liberals so worried about the prospect of Trump destroying this country? They don’t even like it. Wouldn’t an independent state of California be fabulously rich and free of wealth-transfer obligations to poor red states? There seem to be nothing but upsides to a national crack-up, from their perspective.

Though, if they had their own nations, they wouldn’t have the pleasure of forcing flyover rubes to bake homosexual wedding cakes. I’m talking about cakes that were to be served at homosexual weddings, mind you, not gay people who identify as wedding cakes.

Once we’re all good and Balkanized, we could create one of those weak transnational organizations like the UN to mediate disputes between the new American nations. We’ll call it the “Organization of American States.” Oh, that’s taken? In that case I have the perfect name: the Confederacy.

Dunning-Kruger’s children

When a child becomes a teenager and begins to get a tenuous claw around how horrid reality is, he sometimes falls victim to a certain disease. As far as I can tell, it manifests when he mistakes the maturity and circumspection of the adults in his midst for complacence or blindness. The soliloquy usually reads something like this: “everyone is an idiot except me.” It’s an instance of pubescent Dunning-Kruger effect.

There is hope. With a bit of luck and proper parental guidance, over time the insufferable kid develops a sense of empathy and humility. For the unlucky and the unloved, though, they never get over it. They move to a coastal city and develop a taste for craft beer. It’s so much better than that pisswater they drink in the sticks. Honestly, have you tried Ballast Point Sculpin? Dogfish Head 90 minute has more of a kick, but Sculpin has character.

The arrogance of the modern American left is starting to annoy even other liberals. The website Vox took a break from being a communist rag to turn their chair around and issue the following instance of Real Talk to their comrades:

The smug style arose to answer these questions. It provided an answer so simple and so emotionally satisfying that its success was perhaps inevitable: the theory that conservatism, and particularly the kind embraced by those out there in the country, was not a political ideology at all.

The trouble is that stupid hicks don’t know what’s good for them. They’re getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that’ve made them so wrong. They don’t know any better. That’s why they’re voting against their own self-interest.

To the good people at Vox–no, let’s try that again. To the people at Vox: if you feel this way about your fellow travelers, imagine how they come off to the rest of us.

With their byzantine court etiquette and sneering regard  for their social inferiors, it isn’t hard to see them as a new strain of aristocrat. People are voting for Trump, in part, because the right people utterly hate him. When Trump fails (and he will), liberals apparently feel that all of the resentment that has been channeled through him will vanish in a puff of steam. But the people who support Trump will not tear at their hair and spin off into a void like the losing party in the Crossfire commercial.

They believe the Republican party will shrivel up and die, and no one else would ever oppose their designs. That’s called tyranny, you know.

When someone bemoans the fact that Trump voters are driven by hatred, I have to ask: is that so much worse than the contempt you feel for them?