Friday assorted links

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Y no comments? That's wrong.

@#1 - a ode to Chinese baroque style...it's cool. But "ube" flavor, much less "squid" flavor, ice cream is not my style (both of these are found in Asia). I like plain vanilla.

Ugh, I can't count the number of times I've come across completely inappropriately-placed seafood flavours in Asia. I guess it must appeal to the Asian palate, but sometimes I wonder if they just haven't caught on to better flavours yet.

Shrimp flavor is like Pumpkin Spice.

@#2 - nice reads...I'll try and find them on the usual pirate sites for free.

@#3 - fairness costs money and creates red tape. A Brookings study on red tape back in the late 70s concluded just that. It's no coincidence that the USA is the most fair nation on earth (for example, you can return clothes you don't want, except underwear, and this privilege is not found in most other countries, even Greece). But fairness adds to costs. Give me 'unfair' and cheap say I.

@# 4 - taking too long to load...I'm in the Third World, c'mon have pity. From the title, it's some 95% confidence 'statistically significant' social sciences study that is seemingly counterintuititive, and probably can't be replicated. OK it finally loaded, and the title was accurate. Again, no source data in the article so who knows what N, sigma, etc were. Bogus.

If you read the article it does have numbers and they are way more than 95% confidence

@Cliff - nope, just rechecked. No primary data, just conclusions. Probably if you email the authors they'll send you their data, but who has time to check to see if it can be replicated? Bogus, as I say. Yawn.

@#5 - what the author is saying is that blacks are socially conservative. It's a weird way of saying it but very PC (earlier to the quoted sentence the author says: "I note that black people are severely underrepresented in groups as diverse as runners, BDSM participants, atheists, fanfiction readers, Unitarian Universalists, furries, and bird watchers.")

Do gangs count as "signaling-laden countercultural movements"? They're over-represented in those.

You could argue that gangs are probably very socially conservative and not counter-cultural. I'd not be surprised if most gang members voted, if they could vote at all, Republican (except when Obama is running).

Time for you to define "socially conservative" and "counter-cultural". What makes bird watching counter-cultural, but slinging weed on the corner socially conservative?

@anon--if you've read the best seller The Big Year, or seen the movie, you'd know full well why bird-watching is extremely counter-cultural, to the point where extreme birders go to extensive lengths to hide the fact they are birders. As for slinging weed, it's entrepreneurship 101. These guys are savvy businessmen, for the most part, and they don't use their own product, just sell it (for the most part, at least the smarter ones).

Didn't 50 Cent stump for Bush?

No. Blacks are underrepresented in just about every group, not just socially liberal ones.

How about Black church bible study groups? Nation of Islam local chapters? Hip-hop clubs and organizations? The Black Panther Party?

Groups that Blacks like to join are "groups" too, ya know.

JUST ABOUT every group. Their group participation rate is just generally low, but of course if you pick groups with virtually no people of other races you can find a few where they are "overrepresented."

If I am not wrong, the Bolsheviks and not yet Bolshevik Trotsky in Zimmerwald pretended to be bird watchers, but is bird watching inherently subversive? And what about running and fan fiction reading (why is the latter more countercultural than Rock and Rapping in their beginnings)?
It is sad how Americans seem to be always looking for ways to turn brother against brother.

Bird watching, like train spotting, and airplane spotting, is extremely counter-cultural. In Greece around 10 years ago some Brits ended up in prison for plane spotting, on the pretext they were spies. Information is power, and Big Brother knows it.

But who cares about birds? They are bird-brained and, except the Harpy Eagle, a Brazilian bird which is the most glorious bird-of-prey of the word and symbolizes Brazilian spirit and Brazil's devotion to freedom and peace, they are all pathetic and useless.
The Greeks, like the Russians, are paranoid. Decades after WWII, tge place where Stalin during the Yalta negotiations was still state secret.

Correction: * where Stalin was housed during the Yalta...

That's not really his point. His point is:

* Any group without enough black people in it is Racist.
* The general excuse for these is that they're failed at outreach, and should work harder at this to expunge their sin.
* All these completely wierd, different strange groups don't have enough black people in them.
* I certainly can't see any one uniting factor (Well, signalling-laden thing) between these groups.
* Therefore, maybe it's just people doing what they like and not always racism 100% of the time. So stop it.

@meyerkev248 - no, you missed the key sentence that makes your analysis incomplete, namely, "nonwhites are just generally less eager to join weird intellectual signaling-laden countercultural movements.”. That's the key point, but otherwise you are correct in your interpretation.

meyerkev248 October 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

That’s not really his point. His point is: * Any group without enough black people in it is Racist.

I would usually dismiss this sort of claim but just this once perhaps not. Because I would love to see the Prairie Home Companion added a Crips gang member to Lake Woebegon.

Is there some sort of petition I can sign to make this happen?

@#6 - a hunter's superstore is slowing their expansion plans. Ho-hum, boring. Why not discuss this ten-year old chess whiz kid, German's strongest youngster? http://en.chessbase.com/post/chess-talent-vincent-meets-garry (He looks older than ten, so he's probably an 'early developer' who will simply burn out early and drop out of chess, never to be heard of again, but it's an interesting story).

Nah, this just means we've reached peak Chuck Testa.

5. I think Trump appeals to Hispanics and other minorities because they realize that they are the ones that will suffer from illegal immigration which is basically Trump's trumpet call.

I think black people don't like Bernie Sanders because he is not bribing the urban black leadership like the mainstream Democratic party has been doing for the past 50 years. Say what you want about Bernie, but at least he has the integrity not to kowtow to the crooked "pastors" and community organizers that are the kingmakers in the inner city.

I suspect that most minorities are focused on issues closer to home than what Bernie Sanders is flogging: relations with local police, crime, lousy local schools or other social services, high unemployment, etc. Sanders' rhetoric about inequality plays to anxieties about status, which is not something a lot of minorities have the luxury of worrying about. They have more fundamental concerns.

Then perhaps it would serve minorities well to actually vote in local elections. They don't.

And if status doesn't matter to minorities, how come Blacks showed up in droves to vote for the first Black president of the United States?

What's so black about him? Many Mexicans have more melanin in their skin than BHO.

If you look at Sanders' standard "pitch," he doesn't play to "anxieties about status" at all. Rather, he talks about the disappearing middle class, stagnant wages and unemployment while the rich are buying elections with their ever-increasing incomes.

It's a shrewd message even though I don't agree with everything. Sanders doesn't seem to talk about crime or K-12 education very much but I'm not sure this sets him apart from other candidates. He does talk about relations with local police.

"Sanders’ rhetoric about inequality plays to anxieties about status, which is not something a lot of minorities have the luxury of worrying about."

Closing the gap between upper middle class whites that enter STEM and business and upper middle class whites that enter the social sciences does not resonate with poor minorities. Go figure.

Where, exactly, does Sanders emphasize any such thing? I see the core of his campaign to be a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all, free college tuition, paid family leave and overturning Citizens United. Out of these, one could make the case that free college and single-payer health care benefit the lower-middle class and middle class more than poor minorities but that's almost certainly not the case for paid family leave or a higher minimum wage.

Anyone talking about the gap between the top 1% and "everyone else" is really talking about the gap between the top 1% and the next highest 1%. To do all of those things that you mention requires heavy taxes on significant portions of the population, not just the "wealthy". But, Sanders does not talk about that because even he knows that that would be a political loser. No one has talked about taxing the top 80%, or even the top 25%, to help the bottom 15-20% in quite some time. That's because middle to upper middle class voters are the one's with the actual political power. (That's why politicians of neither political party says bad things about them.)

By the way, outlawing the employment of those that earn less than $15/hr is good for people that make more than $15/hr but bad for those that make less.

"the next highest 1%... the top 80%... the top 25%"

OK but what do any of these suppositions about whose taxes are going to increase have to do with "poor minorities." The poor in the U.S., almost by definition, are not in the top 98%, the top 25% or even the top 25%.

The first few paragraphs of that link do some shady statistics. They note:

1) Lots of articles talk about Trump playing to white voters
2) That would make you think that "Donald Trump’s supporters are disproportionately white."
3) When you look at Hispanic Republicans, they tend to like Trump.

The author makes it seem like there is a contradiction here, but this is of course wrong. The slight of hand comes with 2, where we go from talking about absolute numbers of supporters to proportional support from Republicans. Trump may get proportionally more support from minorities than other Republicans, but his supporters are still overwhelmingly white.

The author then goes on to talk about how Trump gets more support against Hillary from blacks than Romney did against Obama, as if this is in any way apples to apples. It would be much more relevant to compare Trump's support to say GWBs in his two presidential runs. And in fairness, the author mentions parenthetically that running against Obama probably reduced support for Romney. But then why make the comparison?

None of this takes away from the point that Bernie has no support from minorities. He's an issue candidate, and the only reason he's getting attention is because there is literally nothing else to talk about on the Democratic side of things beyond how many more Benghazi hearings we'll have to endure. Hillary Clinton could die from an aneurysm tomorrow and Bernie wouldn't be the nominee.

It's a bad article, because it only analyzes Trumps appeal to Republican blacks and hispanics. It doesn't try to ask "what is Trump's appeal to these folks nationally, ignoring party affiliation?" Those numbers are low.

3. The Atlantic article covers a lot of territory, but I think it is clear there are foundations here. Whatever your political bent I think it's a good time to at least be able to discuss it in relation to fairness studies in humans, and ideally IMO in primates as well.

I think a moderate pragmatism, for instance, can be described as balance between conflicting motives for individual and group welfare. YMMV.

Here is Frans de Waal's TED talk on morality in animals, which includes the funny grape/cucumber experiment. Also, elephants have surprising mechanical aptitude.

1) The example used was a huge letdown after his hyping of Chinese ice cream styles. Has the man never had a Nestle drumstick?

Is that a chicken flavored ice cream? Yuk. I've tasted "chili flavored", which I liked, both ice cream and chocolate. Also "ube" flavor (which has no unique taste, maybe I'm just insensitive to the umami part of my tongue taste, though I do like mami, a type of noodle soup found in the Philippines that has good umami taste).

No, it's an ice cream cone with the interior coated with a thin layer of chocolate then filled with ice cream and dipped in cocolate and nuts.

https://bcharmelin.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/0007255400150_500x500.jpg

Anyone else remember Wonderbar? A full-size slice of good quality cheesecake, chocolate coated, frozen on a stick.

+1. Is this guy not familiar with ice cream bars in the US? From the Klondike Bar to the Snickers Ice Cream bar, we have a ton of flavors and odd mixtures of ice cream bars in the US, both with and without a stick. And those are just the mega brands, the local hipster foodie neighborhoods in these parts have a number of oddball ice cream and frozen treat shops springing up. Nothing new in that article, whatsoever.

In addition, although the author is probably correct that most ice cream in the US is sold in tubs to be put in the freezer at home, he fails to even mention that the US has had ice cream shops for over a century. Is there an American who hasn't had the experience of walking into an ice cream shop and walking out, not with a tub of ice cream, but an ice cream cone (which needs to be eaten immediately)? The article fails to even acknowledge the existence of ice cream cones, claiming that Americans eat their ice cream out of a tub with a spoon.

And in addition to the ice cream bars that others have mentioned, there's also popsicles. And ice cream shops where you get your ice cream in -- yes a small cardboard bowl, to eat with a spoon. But these are nonetheless oriented to customers who walk in and walk out eating their order, as in China.

I appreciate the author's description of Chinese ice cream (I didn't see any when I was in Shanghai, but that was 13 years ago and I wasn't trying to find ice cream). But his awareness or at least description of how Americans eat ice cream is weirdly askew; how can he fail to acknowledge that Americans, like the Chinese, also buy ice cream for instant consumption? Including the baroque constructions that other commenters have described (no one's mentioned Strawberry Shortcakes yet). And based on that article, the Chinese don't seem to have chocolate-dipped ice cream cones yet ... or ice cream cones at all.

A better article about ice-cream-that-you-haven't-dreamed-of, although it's about the US rather than China, is this one about how to order "off menu" -- design your own dessert -- from a Mr. Softee ice cream truck.
http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/08/mr-softee-ice-cream-truck-secret-menu.html

There's also Turkey's stretchy ice cream, the key ingredient is some plant that's so rare the Turk's don't export it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dondurma

And there are Uber ice cream trucks, but as with online education, Tyler has fallen for the Uber-overhype. Transportation where you have to pay a private driver to drive you around is inherently most costly than getting around on your own, be it in your own car, or bike, or public transportation. The exceptions (Manhattan, central parts of Boston, etc.) are rare compared to the rest of the low-density USA.

30 years ago, a U.S. supermarket freezer would contain many brands of ice cream in half-gallon "bricks," along with perhaps a few premium brands in cartons, plus some ice cream "novelties" (as the trade seems to call everything that's not bulk packed, such as frozen-stuff-on-a-stick).

Today you'd see a lot more novelties, somewhat more premium (and wanna-be near-premium) brands and not so many bricks.

Even so, supermarket ice cream is still taken home for later consumption, and these Chinese treats still seem more elaborate than American novelties.

Indeed. It might not be surprising that the US is a post-scarcity society, and that novelty becomes important ... but so too is China now post-scarcity, with ice cream
"trends."

Is there a big Chinese supermarket near you? Have a look. East Asian junk food is way ahead of ours for variety of ingredients, garish colors, packaging...

Stuff White People Like #137: Bernie Sanders!

Watching Bernie Sanders supporters try to convince skeptical Black people that he is super in touch with the needs of the AA community is one of the glorious things I witness on my Facebook feed every week.

That would almost be worth signing up for Facebook just to see.

Almost

Perhaps he hasn't had much practice.

According to the 2010 census, Vermont is 95.3% white, 1.3% Asian, 1.0% black, 0.4% Native, 0.3% "other" and 1.7% multi-racial.

NAACP opened a branch in Burlington, in 2015.

With demographics like those, why does the NAACP need a branch in Vermont?

Ask Rachel Dolezal.

Watching Bernie being sidelined by BLM troublemakers at his own rally was cringeworthy. That event made more Trump supporters than any one of Trump's rallies. The African American community is its own worst enemy, the same for the Muslims, because of their inability to keep their troublemaking youngsters under control.

#4 is really interesting, but the conclusion seems way off. The authors note that people who have encountered a particular difficulty in the past are often less sympathetic to someone strruggling with the same issue. Them the authors look at reasons why the person with personal experience might be biased against someone else in the same situation. The assumption is that the level of sympathy offered by the individuals who have experienced the problem is wrong and that the people who haven't experienced the problem are offering the appropriate level of sympathy. Isn't the more obvious conclusion that people are naturally sympathetic to a person who is struggling, and the people with no personal experience are over-estimating the difficulty of the problem and are biased to offer too much sympathy?

I don't think there's really any way to draw conclusions from the article about an "appropriate" level of sympathy, but I agree that the way it was worded seemed to favor people that sympathized more.

One hypothesis that occurred to me was that people might be more willing to appear less sympathetic if they had gone through that struggle themselves. If you're unsympathetic to someone you can seem callous, but if you've been in that situation yourself you're less vulnerable to that criticism. This could possibly be tested by comparing sympathy levels when expressed privately vs. when they're expressed more openly/publicly.

Huh, hadn't thought of it that way.

I still think it makes sense to talk to people who have been in your shoes though, for pro tips and stuff, not sympathy.

Most likely, the authors have not experienced personally any of the situations that they wrote about. :)

@Ryan has identified one aspect to this story: with today's victim mentality, there is a social bias against appearing unsympathetic to others' professed struggles. If one has endured the same struggles, however, then one gets immunity against seeming callous.

The second aspect though is mentioned more explicitly in the abstract of the linked academic article: "Compared with those with no experience, people who previously endured a distressing event made less favorable evaluations of an individual failing to endure the event, but made more favorable evaluations of an individual managing to endure the event." For some reason, the HBR summary doesn't really emphasize this point. People that have succeeded under distressing conditions are less likely to accept those conditions as an excuse for failure, although they will recognize the accomplishment of those that succeed in overcoming those conditions.

Contrary to authors' conclusions (in the HBR article), these findings do not necessarily imply that mentorship programs pairing people from similar backgrounds "need to be reexamined". The point of mentorship is to help the mentee (word?) succeed, not to validate mentee's excuses for failure.

I think it is worth highlighting: "The point of mentorship is to help the mentee (word?) succeed, not to validate mentee’s excuses for failure."

#6: Hunting in general is on the decline, is it not? Seems like that's going to be trouble for any retailer where hunting equipment makes up a good portion of their business, regardless of the size of the stores they operate, although one might ask why they continue to build new stores when their principle market is shrinking.

Not a great article - fails to mention either Gander Mountain or Bass Pro Shops - both of which have similar models and build megastores in similar places - all 3 are in my town. Plus, there are other retailers like Dick's and REI which have overlaps, etc

The subsidy scam that is Cabela's and Bass Pro is a much more interesting story IMO.

Do tell - you've piqued my curiosity

using "subsidy scam that is Cabela’s and Bass Pro" as my google search, I find this. The claim there is that "Cabela’s has not built a single store without subsidies"

#3 egh, if 'a thing' is not defined by its causes and consequences, we are discussing metaphysics. One my suppose a different Kind of 'income inequality' that had different causes and consequences, but that seems to be playing odd name games, not providing any great insight.

#5 - good and thoughtful read. I live in a very proudly "progressive" small city in flyover country - one which is overwhelming white and has a horrible track record wrt minorities - needless to say Bernie is uberpopular here

I'll guess....Madison?

Yup

It's not like your handle didn't give it away.

Drove through there years ago. My (age appropriate) girlfriend made a production of locking doors and rolling up windows.
I asked why.
She said, "Don't want to catch the lib."

"My (age appropriate) girlfriend..." That makes me laugh.

You are right, but I notice how your experience contradicts the single worst sentence in the article: "They’re also underrepresented in movements with apparently impeccable leftist and anti-racist credentials, like Occupy Wall Street and the US Communist Party. "

While I can't speak much to the US Communist Party, Communists in general have been anything but anti-racist, and the USCP has been happy to carry water for them. Soviet Russia was frequently anti-semetic, anti-Polish and anti-(insert nationality here) when it felt like, although it was happy to make two-faced pronouncements about US policies while the state was killing more minorities than we ever did. This is not to mention the deeply racist Chinese, Korean, Cambodian, or other versions of communism. Similarly, OWS has been more than happy to welcome explicitly anti-Semetic speakers into their midst, and they have never really been very anti-racist on any matter of substance. And for many decades, the progressive left in the US was almost completely synonymous with eugenics and various forms of "scientific racism".

While Scott is right to point out this rift in the modern Democratic party, this deep schism has long historical roots, mostly papered over by historically inaccurate commentary by pundits like Scott repeats here.

(not the Jeff R above). Comments are interesting -- I just have the pedantic one that item 4's title is ungrammatical. "Are people" not "Have people". Jarring,

1. Since Americans, rightly or wrongly, are often regarded as being ice-cream obsessed; I always assumed they led the world in ice cream innovation, but looking at the history I see that Australia may actually have been the original source of individual serve ice cream inventiveness, possibly starting with the triple layered Golden Gaytime back in 1959. And I certainly have fond memories of going down to the corner store in summer and having a Golden Gaytime for 40 cents. And despite a vast array of ice cream developments since then, Gaytimes are still going strong in Australia, but they are only one example out of many. Australian celebrities now even have their own signiture icecreams, as you can see here: https://fbcdn-photos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t1.0-0/p480x480/11817023_10153155856888040_2501066609768205876_n.jpg?oh=5afbae5b17ffde9d42dad9b19777cdc4&oe=56C5F212&__gda__=1456080132_bb5178976586696b530b2f2581c822d3

Ahh, the 50s, when you could have a glorious gaytime behind the corner store for only $0.40

When they first came out, a Gaytime only cost pennies in the 50s. Unfortunately the price kept going up and now it can cost several dollars. And there are no more corner stores offering Gaytimes anymore. You have to either go to a service station or the supermarket, where you can have four Gaytimes for seven dollars.

Here's an ad from the 80s where they use the slogan, "It's hard to have a Gaytime on your own."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pq8TFptKR4

#3 -- This is completely unsurprising to anyone who listens carefully to what Democratic presidential candidates have been saying for years. They always say they want equality of *opportunity*, not *outcome*. It's the Fox News types who are always alleging that Democrats want to force everyone to be equally poor. Basically, I don't get how this is news.

Because wealth redistribution seems more like aiming for equality of outcome rather than opportunity.

And if they wanted equality of opportunity, you'd think they'd hop aboard the anti-licensing movement, since licences just exclude those without resources.

The only person truly talking about wealth redistribution is Bernie Sanders, who is not actually a Democrat and is a self-described Democratic Socialist.

But even with him, when you get down to policy proposals it's still mostly about equality of opportunity, just veiled in economic populist speeches.

"The only person truly talking about wealth redistribution is Bernie Sanders, who is not actually a Democrat and is a self-described Democratic Socialist."

Do you mean to say that Bernie isn't a True Scotsman?

Moderate wealth redistribution also serves to promote equality of opportunity, since doing stuff that creates opportunities costs money. It takes money to make money and all.

...but then they legislate that inequality of outcome is evidence of a priori inequality of opportunity. And to suggest otherwise is something-ist

Not at all. Fact of the matter is that easily 100 million Americans understand perfectly well from personal experience that we're nowhere near equality of opportunity. If it weren't so plain as day to most of us, then people wouldn't be harping on about it.

Ever hear of Swedish people complaining about inequality of opportunity? Not likely. You get a stipend to cover living costs while studying at uni.

They want equality of opportunity but view inequality of outcome as evidence of inequality of opportunity

Historically the left has argued from group welfare and the right from individual initiative.

As long as they met in the middle, balanced the instincts, it was fine.

Of course we now have increased polarization and deadlock at the same time. I really hope this is just a phase, because it is hard to see it as a winning game.

3) I think what people care about is equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. Some people want more, some people are happy with less. But some people who want more are born in the wrong family, neighbourhood, skin colour, gender, country, etc., and will get less no matter how hard they try and no matter how much they would have been capable of earning more if they had met more fortuitous circumstances.

5) + 4) If people have less empathy for things they have gone through (4) then this would explain why Latinos support Trump more than Carson (5). E.g., they had to go through all the paperwork and hassle of legal immigration, and so have no sympathy for those who skip the paperwork and simply overstay visas, etc., or for that matter, continued high immigration in general.

What I don't get is Trump's supposed business acumen. I can forgive that's he's declared bankruptcy on several projects leaving other investors high and dry, because that's part of how the limited liability system works. But isn't it true that his hundreds of millions inherited from daddy would have done as well if simply placed in a broad S&P index and done nothing for the rest of his life?

http://www.moneytalksnews.com/why-youre-probably-better-investing-than-donald-trump/

Wrong genetics too, don't forget about that. Skin color is only skin deep.

#5 Are many black voters conservatives who always vote for the Democrat party? I tend to think so.

Floccina - if you vote for a pro-choice candidate you are not conservative, except possibly in a very, very limited, and very trivial, sense. I suppose there are some people who have no awareness of that particular reality, but I also suppose that many people think Einstein was no more than a low-SMV European version of the professor on Gilligan's Island. My guess is that the overwhelming majority of the black and the overwhelming majority of the white voters who have read substantial portions of the Federalist Papers, or who have read the Bible from cover to cover, have not voted for a Democrat in the last 50 years.

Andrew Gelman showed that people who are partisans on social issues tend to be well-off. What I think you are saying is that, on average, black people have more conservative views than whites on certain social issues, which is plausible. But the other side is that blacks, on average, have lower incomes than whites and so, as Gelman's model predicts, they tend to favor things like higher social safety net spending and higher taxes on the rich and vote based on those views.

On #3, I think the author posits a concern about inequality that few actually have. Many who believe in equality of opportunity (something like fairness) are concerned that outcomes have an obvious power law distribution. When what we know about humans suggests talent is distributed on a bell curve it can be troubling that so many outcomes are winner take all. Given the dominance of the rentier classes for almost all of world history, it is very tempting for people who don't like rentier classes to want to play a little bit with the levers.

On 3 - Why do our leaders and public intellectuals appear to be autistic types who are slowly rediscovering facts about human nature that had never been a mystery to the common man or to the leaders in prior, less enlightened and developed times? The strain of utopianism running through modern day culture is really off-putting, especially when you get this story of naive rediscovery of the ancient and well known truth, somehow packaged as being a groundbreaking discovery. Like that Gruenfeld lady from Stanford from the links the other day whose entire research revolved around mimicking a stereotypical alpha male and how people respond positively to that. Unbelievable that the woman actually got a huge paycheck for 30 years for that dreck. The aspies in the public intellectual class, especially the liberal part, are truly cut off from the world, and less useful because of that.

>Unbelievable that the woman actually got a huge paycheck for 30 years for that dreck.

There is your answer.

More seriously, hasn't the last half century been characterized by a concerted effort do deny the existence of basic human characteristics, something about creating the new Soviet man? The result was a vodka soused father of multiple aborted children whose life expectancy was 56 seemed to force a certain reexamination of the subject.

Yes, but that system eventually failed spectacularly. The prior accumulation of capital, technology, modes of organization and expertise in the West means that the system can keep chugging along while the extreme left and right of the bell curve just ignore its unsustainability and, more importantly, its utter unfairness to the guys in the middle who are the stalwarts of the civilization.

This brings me to that idea of anti-fragility - that frequent smallish crises are a system's way of self-correcting, while what we have now is a system doing its utmost to mask any signs of dysfunction, which will lead to the equivalent of a raging forest fire in years of accumulated kindling.

If you call bringing an entire nation from peasantry to one of the most credible military powers on earth in the space of 30-40 years a spectacular failure, then what's success? While exceedingly repressive, the Soviet Union DID achieve some truly impressive gains. It did not fail spectacularly, it just succeeded less than the other system, adopted by nation states who already had a significant head start.

I agree with the forest fire analogy, but think you overstate the case.

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