Thursday assorted links


2. "reactionary thinkers have dominated nearly every single field of study from the 19th thru mid-20th centuries-- philosophy (Schoep, Nietzche, Heidegger), economics (Pareto, Veblen, Schumpeter)"

lol what

I know you are of the lol kat school of argumentation but try to explain which of those names don't fit. I see two that don't and four that are right on point

To me, Veblen and Heidegger are the odd ones out. One is too "left" and one is too "right" or non-political. What 2 were you thinking as not fitting in?

Schopenhauer and Schumpeter.

For me Veblen was reactionary in the sense that he wanted to reset the clock so to speak and return to a simpler economic era when guilded age disparities of wealth couldn't exist. But Veblen shifted around a lot in his lifetime.

Heidegger was so reactionary that he wanted to liquidate the entire western metaphysical development and return to Heraclitus. To my mind Heidegger was philosophical poison and God was certainly looking out for the world when he endowed Heidegger with such a difficult writing style. But just my two cents not an expert on either.

Paging Josh,

I'm having horrifying flashbacks to yesterday. Heraclitus I have actually read what little exists of him.

The idea that Pareto, Veblen and Schumpeter are dominant figures in economics is comic. I defer to better judgement of others on the philosophers.

5. nice article. a bit speculative on the argument that the "best basketall is actually played on china's playgrounds". Umm, heard that many times about many countries, and it has never been close to true in my experience so far.

I think the article is contrasting play at Chinese state-run sports academies versus Chinese playgrounds. It appears these types of state-run sports academies are good at churning out good individual athletes, but are not so good at producing top competition in team sports.

China has always wondered why its men's soccer is consistently dreadful, given that the country is fanatic about international soccer and has fields full of soccer-playing kids across the country. The academies are used to "produce" soccer players as well.

There's nowhere for Chinese kids to play soccer on a freely organized basis. You're not allowed to use the fields unless you arrange it in advance - this sort of applies in many places in the sense that if someone books the field they always have priority, but people are generally free to use the fields without booking them.

I met a guy in Beijing who was doing a documentary on soccer around the world, how it brings together community, etc., and we were unable to locate any people who were aware of any location where you could just show up and play a game. The company I worked for in Beijing, however, one time organized a soccer game at an outdoor astroturf arena.

2. I enjoy reading Douthat, not because he has great insight but because he offers a religious perspective on secular issues. His hand-wringing about the current state of the Republican Party is more about revelation (his own about the current state of the Republican Party and its members). His only insight is his attempt to mesh the crazy right-wingers with the crazy left-wingers, even if his purpose is to place the blame for crazy right-wingers on the crazy left-wingers. How surprising that populists on the right and populists on the left have so much in common. Well, it's not surprising, as some have been expressing warnings about the possibility of the two sets of populists combining to elect a demagogue. Of course, there are many conservatives who have been denying the existence of right-wing populists. Or at least they did until it became undeniable by the reality of front-page news. I will keep reading Douthat for a theological insight into the current state of things. I just wish he wasn't so long-winded.

Do you think the populists of the right and left will elect Trump president?

I am astounded that the New York Times is still in published. I mean, how does it remain solvent?

The New York Times is a hologram run by Google. Not that much overhead. Pretty cool, eh?

With subsidies from Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim, among other things:

2. Isn't it odd that the group most despising "mass democracy" is the same that has abused it? Or maybe it isn't odd that those doubting the median voter would divide down with wedge issues until rank populism was all that remained.

Isn’t it odd that the group most despising “mass democracy” is the same that has abused it?

Abused it how?

First in my mind was the Iraq war. I am one of those who think the Downing Street Memos were an early and correct description of what happened. The intelligence was fixed around policy, and democratic will was built by deception.

But beyond that, as I say every wedge issue drives us further from the enlightened self-interest of high school civics. "Defense of marriage" was a very successful attempt to drive people from reasoned consideration to emotional reaction. Do things like that enough, and there is no inner philosophy for the Party to hold. Cue Trump.

You are saying that anyone who opposes gay marriage is irrational? And support for raising the minimum wage generally proceeds from logical consideration of the empirical evidence in professional journals and government data publications, informed by a sound theoretical model of the labor market? What's the evidence for those propositions?

Let me ask you this: At any time in the last 50 years was gay marriage actually the biggest problem facing America, or even your well-being?

It's a question of focus, what is an important issue, and what is a fake-important issue, in the democracy.

The minimum wage thing is a bit more complex. On the surface, we have one. It is settled that there should be a national minimum wage since 1933. I understand that $15 has kind of a "pick a number" feel about it. On that basis the number is probably non-ideal.

But I think minimum wage is more real, and actually affects the lives of more Americans than what kind of ceremony the gays have.

Yes opposing gay marriage is textbook irrational. Whatever your opposition to it, it's not based in rationality but rather religiosity and mood affiliation and disgust.

And supporting it is based on SJW virtue signalling and mood affiliation.

Judging from the volume of blogospheric and journalistic writing, gay marriage or the lack thereof was certainly one of the biggest issues facing America. There may be blogs writing as much about the minimum wage as about gay marriage, but I don't know of one. Certainly not this one.

I guess anon is saying that it was silly of the Supreme Court to devote so much energy to determining what kind of ceremony the gays have.

Yes, I agree that the pro folk often promoted the issue out of scale. I agree that "I don't care" was not an answer that SJWs wanted to hear either.

@Sam If by "virtue signalling" you mean simply believing that fairness and equality should apply to everyone, ok.

Sam said SJW, everyone drink!

@Sam: I imagine gay people supporting it have other reasons, although you may call those mood affiliation too. They are in the mood to get married like heteros do.

"If by “virtue signalling” you mean simply believing that fairness and equality should apply to everyone,"

This quote being a textbook example of virtue signalling.

Was opposition to slavery just virtue signaling?

How about current opposition to abortion?

Read my post again, and think about it for a bit.

msgkings April 28, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Yes opposing gay marriage is textbook irrational. Whatever your opposition to it, it’s not based in rationality but rather religiosity and mood affiliation and disgust.

Well don't under-estimate mood affiliation or disgust. However that is irrelevant. That you do not understand other people's motivations does not mean they do not have good motivations. In this case, there is no case for Gay marriage. It was sold on a lie - that allowing Gays to marry would somehow change them into respectable middle class people - when in fact the argument was always the other way around - Gay marriage was an important step in making heterosexual marriage more like random Gay hook ups. There is and never has been a demand for marriage in the Gay community. They do not want it.

The only purpose, apart from undermining marriage as a whole, was to provide a whole raft of reasons for activists to bully and sue people they do not like. Which is pretty much how it has turned out.

Opposition was entirely sensible. It did not meet any social need. It has detrimental effects on everyone else. It just allows the Hard Left to bully others.

@SMFS: every word in this post is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'. Actually kind of impressive.

Are there numbers somewhere on the number of gays and lesbians who have married since gay marriage was legalized? It seems like a very different sort of picture if it's hundreds than if it's hundreds of thousands.

msgkings April 29, 2016 at 12:26 am

Actually kind of impressive.

Thanks dude. I am kind of touched.

31 albatross April 29, 2016 at 12:35 am

Are there numbers somewhere on the number of gays and lesbians who have married since gay marriage was legalized? It seems like a very different sort of picture if it’s hundreds than if it’s hundreds of thousands

Pew says it is on the order of 71,000.

So if there are 30 million Gays in the US, it is not exactly a mad rush to the altar. In fact you would expect a spike as soon as it was legal and then a slow decline. As the unmet need is met as soon as it was legalized.

So something like 4 in 1000 Gays have bothered to get married.

It is irrational for so many to be focus on gay marriage and bathroom laws when there are so much more important issues at hand. Could it be accidental?

I thought the group under discussion was the reactionaries/alt-right, most of whom opposed the Iraq War and who are all very far removed from the levers of State power and the media megaphone.

Trump is a very understandable phenomenon in a polity where the market-dominant ethnicity sees its share of the electorate shrink from near 90% to 60% via deliberate government policy. Arcane ideals like "enlightened self-interest" vanish as the former majority ethnicity adopts the identity politics of its ethnic and cultural rivals.

I suppose if the right was alt enough, I'd never have seen it. I am only reacting now because it is being proposed as a new organizing principle for the right.

Douthat is thinking about the future of the Republican party, isn't he?

Is it possible for you to ever admit that you are wrong and spoke without knowing anything about the subject anon. I understand that the incentives of anonymous posting are such that point and stutter is a pretty attractive argumentation type for someone with your personality, but come on you basically confused the reactionary right with the neo-cons. Which is like confusing Aftica with South America because they kind of look alike and are both toward the bottom of a globe.

Take a moment to consider that we are approaching this differently, Sam. You might have a great interest in details of self- and other- described reactionaries.

I am not interested in that kind of fratricide (which it is, because it is argument within and over the term). I mean, in the first branch of discussion above you agree to disagree about who is and who isn't.

I am interested in "why now? on the national stage?"

I mean, do you all believe that this is purely philosophy and semantics, and not at all about the great gaping hole in the Republican Party?

I value informed comments. Now maybe you are getting paid by a Soros-funded group to post comments in which case I get it you are just trying to hit your word quota.

But most likely you like Jan and Nathan are an underemployed work from homer that posts mostly out of loneliness. In that case if you don't know anything about the subject just don't comment on it.

That's a classic losing rant, Sam. The Republicans are nominating Trump, and the right wing intellectuals choose this moment to doubt democracy itself. It would be funny if it wasn't so darn sad. Cue quite literate but pointless navel gazing.

Tell you what. Nominate a solid Presidential candidate and then see if your feelings about "mass democracy" improve.

It is clear that anon doesn't understand the dynamics of this conversation. For him it is about team blue vs team red, a clear dichotomy from which to view the world.

Discussions of reactionaries and the alt-right morph into a discussion about neo-cons. Pretty amazing!

Sam, as usual, you have nothing specific to contribute to the debate and are merely attacking people whose positions you don't like.

If you don't like what anon is saying, please explain why and address his points specifically.

Btw, underemployed me just got paid $25 for a 5 minute gig, because translators are highly skilled workers. it takes a very long time to build a clientele, as any small business owner will attest to.

As for you - perhaps you would like to inform us what you do for a living? Because it appears to me that you have very high priority for personalized insults against people who adopt certain positions, in particular those which are questioning on unnecessary wars, those who point out any shortcoming in a right wing position, etc. Which disclaimer would be added to your comments were there a law requiring that paid posters disclose their employer? Or, is that really just how doggedly ideological you are?

No, Intensive. I am saying that people who think they are not doing Red-team Blue-team on this really are, even if it is an attempt to opt out of the Party of Trump by the Reaction door.

This is an election year and primaries are raging, what a really tragic time to despair of "mass democracy."

BTW, this attempt to reclaim the word "reactionary" has to be one of the responses to Trump. It is maybe the first post-Trump fight for the future on the right.

I don't think it will catch on, and it may not even be that annoying if anti-democracy becomes the far right fad. I mean, way to distance yourself from America, guys.

I'm not sure the term ever really belonged to the people who were described as reactionaries. It never went through its "fine we'll start using it outselves" phase like Quakerism.

What seems to be occurring is people that the French revolutionaries would have called reactionaries are starting to take the term back from how it was used by Marxists- which was to describe anyone Marxists didn't like including Trotksy.

I don't claim any deep knowledge here, but it looks to me like "reactionary" fits the same sort of pattern as "queer"--it started as their enemies' nasty name for them, but eventually they adopted it and wore it with honor.

GWB was not a reactionary, but you're an idiot.

I am speaking of the right and its attraction to a new term.

Do you think this is not about the right, generally? Not a reaction to populism as the new dominant reality?

As I suspected, you have no idea what you are talking about.

Take it again, slow. Why is Douthat writing about this in the New York Times?

Is it because he thinks it is an outsider group, ruled by secret handshakes and pure semantics?

"Reaction" is a meme on the prowl.

My primary is rolling around and as a registered Republican I have a choice between a short fingered vulgarian and a man his close co-workers describe as 'Lucifer in the flesh.' You guys want me to believe that the resurgence of "reaction" has nothing to do with that, and I should make no linkage. You'd have me believe that any discussion of "reaction" is philosophical and distanced from politics in the real world.

You may be right with all the inside-Reaction, but I think you are wrong about the big picture.

2b. It's funny, I think Girard is right that mimetic desire is often a thing, but as I read it I kept thinking of the costless and non-rival ways that mimetic desire reveals itself. Clothing colors change year to year. Suddenly I find myself in a black t-shirt and notice that everyone else has one too. Or I turn on pop music. If a video clip ends up in my Twitter feed I know the kids have all seen it too.

There might be something about growth and stagnation that desire isn't as rival as it used to be.

1. I'm surprised we don't hear more stories about shopping trips organized by poor families to buy items in bulk at warehouse stores and then splitting up the purchased items into individual family sized portions.

We used to do stuff like that all the time in college. One friend would have a CostCo membership, another would have a car and we'd all drive together to go shopping for bulk quantities of stuff, then split up the goods once we got home.

Poor people are very lacking in social capital, in particular the trust and co-operative spirit that would be needed to implement a venture like the one you propose.

What do they know of poor people who no poor people know?

What they learn from studying sociology. From "Promises I Can Keep": “Trust among residents of poor communities is astonishingly low—so low that most mothers we spoke with said they have no close friends, and many even distrust close kin."

Unfortunately, relatives can be some of the biggest thieves in poorer communities.

When poor-ish and working class people have small parties or get-togethers, they will often deny entry into the house [or even rent porta-potties] rather than let fiends and relatives go un-supervised to a bathroom.

friends, not fiends

Though I suppose sometimes its the same.

If you stock up on soap, your no-good relative, friend, neighbor, etc. may very well steal it and then sell it (

Costco would have better Brands , but not sure the split-up cost is significantly lower than the Dollar/99c store prices nowadays for the same items.

Aldi's is a better option than Costco for saving money in my experience. Costco is a good way to save on quality and brand name products. Aldi's is just the best way to save money period, the quality ranges from surprisingly good to bad but edible.

Dollar Stores are good for certain items but easy to get tricked into thinking you're saving money. Often WalMart has better per quantity prices. You really have to do your math.

Costco is absolutely more expensive than discount brands at discount stores. I've only shopped there when I want to get something in bulk of a higher quality (especially amazing deals on cheese cake, I think, but I've never had a freezer that could store that much cheese cake at a time ... good for parties though).

The Behavioral Economics aspect is that a big purchase feels more painful to the poor, who experience it as reduced flexibility. When an affluent suburban mom stacks 200 toilet paper rolls in a guest bathroom, she doesn't fear that it will mean she can't feed the family later in the week. And of course she has space for it.

#1. Yes, it's obvious that poor people buy smaller sizes due to liquidity issues. Not much news there.

What's less clear is how much actual saving there is when one buys a large size. This is going to vary by category. Toilet paper is probably a good example where there are actual savings from buying in bulk, because it's unlikely that people are going to use the bathroom more based on the size of the toilet paper purchase.

Salted snacks, though? The more that are around, the more that are eaten.

If you were to eat more salted snacks though, wouldn't you end up needing to use the bathroom more?

2b. Not sure how Girard and Hayek are mutually exclusive. They appear to complement more than contradict. I doubt Hayek would have disagreed with a word Girard wrote. Both recognized failings in human institutions of spontaneous origin and those institutions whose creation was by more direct coercion. Girard's "I don't know" equals Hayek's problem of knowledge.

2. Girard is certainly underrated, but it's probably a mistake to hedgehog his ideas into a theory of everything everywhere. Endogenous preferences--including mimetic desire--are interesting and complex and capture some realism about behavior.

But it is quite amusing to see a Girardist slice up Hayek on the altar as an offering sacrifice, so that Girard's legacy might take Hayek's place!

My thoughts exactly. Unclear to me why an appreciation of Girard's ideas cannot coexist with an appreciation of Hayek's.


I think a synthesis of post WW2 Carl Schmitt and Girard could probably get as close as anything to explaining the current age. They both understood in a way that Hayek didn't that politics is a distraction from the political. The kind of bureaucratic things that Hayek focuses on in Road to Serfdom are a mask for the real currents of political forces.

The current age has a quite strong consensus in favour of equalising conditions for the minority and the majority, for the powerful and the powerless - whether for better or for worse as you may see it. Some people would like to weaken the consensus slightly and everyone (pro and anti) acts as if they're some kind of life-threatening reactionaries. I would instead say this suggests we live in an age of performance.

I take it back I prefer the lol kat version to the meanderingly off point version.

I take back what I said about you not saying things of substance (well, that's only possible at the discretion of the moderator). It only applies to situations where you're expressing disagreement with people.

6. Is that legal?
Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

1) Costco charges $55 per year (and soon increasing) and has a much richer demographic than Wal-Mart.

And Amazon Prime is something like $119

Yeah, and Sam's club charges $45/year. And none of the above is a deal-breaker for poor people in the U.S. (at least not for poor people who also have smart phones and cable TV -- which are many times more costly than that on an annual basis).

#1 - I bulk-buy 1.75 liter for $33 + tax per bottle Dewar's Scotch Whisky as opposed to 0.75 liter for $26 + tax. FYI, I ration it at a jigger a night: the bottle lasts 42 or 43 nights. One Bourbon, one Scotch and one beer. If I was poor I couldn't do it. I'd be sitting in a saloon paying $25 to $30 for it.

I think I about the same as Costco by surveying weekly supermarket sales at various outlets.

Bulk buying can be un-economical. I have membership both in Costco and BJ's. (We paid $30 - big sorely discount - for the one-year BJ's.) I prefer the $55 Costco store - mainly irrational. BJ's seems to send coupons (Costco uses clip-less coupons) based on one's buying history. So, Two weeks ago we purchased at BJ's the dishwasher machine tablets: which we needed. This week BJ's sent us a coupon for $3 off the tablets. The wife had to buy it. Now, we have such a supply of tablets that our heirs will inherit the remains. Yeah, that's why the BJ's membership renewal was canned.

The more bulk store memberships, the higher marginal propensity for un-economical buying.

I think an underestimated component of #1 is how much TIME it takes to shop frugally. I read these couponer blogs every so often and I'm stunned at the effort and planning these (mostly) ladies put into this. Really maximizing these purchases takes a great deal of diligence and research. That's something the single mom doesn't have. Your sweet spot is the lower middle class single earner family, where money is still an issue (if you're rich enough, it's no longer worth your time to go through all this trouble even if you do have the spare time) and there is one family member with a couple hours of free time after the kids go to school. You also see these early retirement extreme DINKs where this is literally how they spend their weekend.

I bitch about the internet a lot, but it does give you the opportunity to have some glimpses into these cultures you never even would've imagined existed.

#1 What about future time orientation, or lack of it?

Going to Costco would show a future time orientation. On scores of factors, the poor show a lack of future time orientation.

How would a researcher tell the difference between an external excuse ("I can't afford the $55 annual fee, I can't drive to Costco's exurban location, etc.) vs. an internal one ("I live for the moment and can't even comprehend buying more than I can consume in the near future")?

The latter would show up as large, lumpy purchases right after payday (specifically on non-bulk items). The former would show up as small, evenly spread purchases over the course of a month.

I would imagine that the internal & external reasons are supplementary, not contradictory.

Psychologists see them as supplementary. They theorize that lack of money causes a psychological condition that leads to poor future time orientation.

I do wonder how we tell if the chicken comes before the egg, so to speak.

And then there are those who feel that lack of future time orientation is genetic, and thus it is not fair to judge the poor by the behaviora that leads to them being poor (neck tattoos, anyone?)

" On scores of factors, the poor show a lack of future time orientation." Or people that lack future time orientation are generally poor. So what? Psychologically, people come in many different varieties. People that haven't developed adequate social skills have problems staying employed and become poor as well. Some people put a very high value on sleep. That can lead to difficulties in employment. Perhaps if humans acted like ants or termites there wouldn't be any poverty. But they don't, at least for the present. Part of the modern fixation with "diversity" is accepting that not everyone looks at life the same way.

Well, it matters a lot for figuring out what policies might help and what policies wouldn't help a lot of poor people. If the direction of causation is poverty->short time horizon, then we can fix the short time horizon by giving people money, and then they'll be better at long-term planning and thus at saving money. If the direction of causation is short time horizon->poverty, then giving them money will let them eat, but won't make them any better at planning ahead and saving money.

Social Engineering: Never a Bad Idea!

If the mad scientists working on these projects get their way, we may find ourselves acting like ants or termites: - from the so-called US Coalition Against Covert Harassment. I call it the "blueprint for the end of freedom".

1) The issue of not being able to buy in bulk is definitely relevant. But timing sales? If you're truly poor, you don't time the sales, you buy whatever is on sale (or the past date discount racks). Also, if you're truly poor, bulk purchases usually apply to a lot of name brand or at least superior quality goods. The really cheap stuff, like rice and lentils, basically never goes on sale, and basically anyone can shell out $20-30 for a large sack of rice and lentils. The bulk discounts to by 100kg of such products are very marginal once you're buying more than just a few kg at a time.

6) Amazing that 30k fighters driving around in jeeps with AK47s was ever deemed the greatest threat to world peace. And meanwhile, their "genocide" involved the killing of about 1000 times fewer civilians than just about anything else ever officially declared a genocide. Definitely we've gotta take on ISIS, ideally by attrition that will not facilitate further recruitment into violent radicalism. But most of the stuff about ISIS seems ridiculously blown out of proportion compared to, say, the violations committed by Syrian authorities or ongoing conflict in DRC.

"Amazing that 30k fighters driving around in jeeps with AK47s was ever deemed the greatest threat to world peace. And meanwhile, their “genocide” involved the killing of about 1000 times fewer civilians than just about anything else ever officially declared a genocide."

Come on, you are usually better than this. The Genocide Convention defines genocide as a crime with five separate conditions only one of which is "killing." Moreover, it states that the attempt to commit genocide is also a crime and that signatories are under a solemn obligation to stop a potential genocide in progress, not sit around and wait until it reaches Nazi or Khmer Rouge proportions before taking action. The fact that ISIS is made up of 30,000 sociopaths and degenerates armed with AK47s only serves to highlight how much terror such a group can spread if they operate in a territory where there is no state powerful enough to subject them to the rule of law.

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