Sunday assorted links

1. Um…what if your name is Alexa?

2. Regression models for college earnings.

3. Peter Lawler on me and Charles Murray and other stuff (pdf): “Now, what perplexes Cowen most is that anyone would choose to be brutish rather than be nice.”  I still say the modal scenario is that the deplorables end up disengaged.  Here is another good passage from Lawler:

The key objection to niceness amounts to the fact that it’s not really a virtue. You can’t rely upon it as the foundation for the duties required of friends, family members, or fellow citizens. A nice person won’t fight for you; a nice person wouldn’t even lie for you, unless there’s something in it for him. A nice person wouldn’t be a Good Samaritan, if it required genuine risk or an undue deployment of time and treasure. A nice person isn’t animated by love or honor or God. Niceness, if you think about it, is the most selfish of virtues, one, as Tocqueville noticed, rooted in a deep indifference to the well-being of others. It’s more selfish than open selfishness, because the latter accords people the respect of letting them know where you stand. I let you do—and even affirm—whatever you do, because I don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t bother me. Niceness, as Allan Bloom noticed, is the quality connected with flatness of soul, with being unmoved by the relational imperatives grounded in love and death.

I enjoyed this too:

The point of Clint Eastwood’s instant classic American Sniper is our failure to properly respect our guardians, who put their lives on the line for their own. It’s also about the increasing distance between the relatively honorable, violent, and God-fearing South and the rest of the country.

I praise Lawler’s work on Tocqueville in my The Complacent Class.

5. Why hasn’t the dollar appreciated more?  And the new Executive Order also calls for exit controls.


"semper fi" is not quite in Eastwood's wheelhouse. Close, though,,,,

"close, though" was a compliment

Eastwood is a philander. Look at all the women he slept with, sometimes more than one at the same time (but not the same bed). He's as good / bad as Dennis Rodman's father in the Philippines, Philander Rodman (sic), who has something like 56 kids.

Off-topic: I predict a severe stock market correction on Monday. Just in time for me to buy (though I also wanted to sell). Should be interesting.

That is unusually judgmental of you Ray. I am surprised. I doubt that Eastwood has been much of a philanderer at all. Especially given the choice he could have exercised if he wanted. For most of his life he seems to have been a dedicated family man.

Admit it, you just wanted to mention Dennis Rodman's father didn't you?

Most wives - and all wives in good marriages - would prefer their husband did not have a mistress. That being said, it might be easier to know that one's husband has two mistresses than that one's husband has one mistress. Not being judgmental, just remarking on what it is like to live in a world where we do not all love each other all that much. By the way, this reply to a comment about Clint Eastwood has nothing to do with Clint Eastwood.

>Most wives – and all wives in good marriages – would prefer their husband did not have a mistress.

Meh, what if we said "Most wives – and all wives in good marriages – would prefer their husband did not have a golf buddy."

Clearly false for golf. Sex isn't really different than golf, or there is no reason it needs to be. It is just how you look at it.

Another wrong prediction from Ray, re: the market tomorrow. How many times do I have to say it, stick to hookers and chess.

Market down a bit, nowhere near a severe correction. You still a buyer, Ray?

If I may continue to abuse the patience of our host, I'd like to advertise my blog again (, as I just started it and would like people to know about it. I just published my thoughts on Trump's executive order (, which I'm sure Tyler would disagree with. Among other things, I also wrote a post ( against the widely held but false belief that much of the US wealth derives from slavery and that without slavery the industrial revolution wouldn't have happened, as well as another ( in which I explain how election models work and why they didn't predict Trump's victory. I think readers of Marginal Revolution may find the blog interesting and I welcome any criticism, suggestion, etc.

Sorry but you have less credibility than I do. You write like a humanities major, whereas you should be writing like a lawyer. Tell us whether or not (in your opinion) Trump is violating the 1965 law passed by US Congress, as the NY Times op-ed page is saying he did, with his Executive Order. That's the issue of the day, not morals.

Full disclosure: I actually did go to law school but flunked out. From what I remember, the laws against religion, race, are given a "strict scrutiny" test by courts (meaning they crack down hard on anything that looks unconstitutional) but stuff like border controls without any race or religion are given "rational basis" test. (there's also an intermediate standard for something else, I forget, too tired to Google).

So the issue is this: is the Trump Executive Order "religion, race and color blind"? If so, then probably it's legal under the "rational basis" test. But, if the order is really a way to keep Muslims out, then the "strict scrutiny" test will be applied and will make it unconstitutional.

You read it here first (though this is old news to real lawyers like rayward). Good night...

The different level of scrutinies would apply to whether it violates Constitutional protections.

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not competent to comment on the legal aspect of this controversy. However, Trump's executive order clearly does not rest on a religious test, as I explain in my post.

"I have no doubt that taking in more refugees is extremely popular"


Gerber baby is a bubble baby apparently-- living in Alt Right land where everyone hates immigrants and no one acknowledges the many benefits of having a certain finite amount of immigration. Steve Jobs' father was a refugee of Syrian descent. Many refugees have skills and talents to offer and end up making the U.S. a better place.

Steve Jobs’ father was a refugee of Syrian descent."

LOL. I guess you call all Syrians "refugees," fitting, since so few of the so-called refugees are actual refugees.

His mother (Midwesterner of German descent) got knocked up in college by a Syrian PhD student (and son of a millionaire businessman). One of his relatives was a Syrian ambassador here in the US. Nothing whatsoever to do with the refugee program and his father's background has hardly typical. IF WE LET IN DUH SYRIANS WE WILL HAVE THOUSANDS OF STEVE JOBS!!!

Immigrants and refugees can't be said to be axiomatically beneficial or detrimental. It's a highly subjective empirical question. Some groups mix in well and some don't. Some people are productive citizens and some aren't. Do criminals and welfare sponges make the US "a better place"? Of course not. (Though they are a reliable Democratic constituency.)

This was actually a typo which I corrected. I don't think taking in refugees is popular and will probably write a post where I will provide evidence for this claim.

Phillip, I hope you will also post your blog url on some web sites where the commentariat is not mostly Far Right folks, like it is here. Here, most people are likely to find fault with whatever you say, unless you are lavishly praising Emperor Trump. Such critiques are not very objective.

" where the commentariat is not mostly Far Right folks, like it is here."

Jill, if you think the commentariat here is far Right then you I think it's more likely that you are the one living in a bubble.

I'm interested in hearing from people anywhere on the political spectrum. If you know other websites where I could advertise my blog, please don't hesitate to let me know!

3. oh my my my, which portion of the population of the south is the "Relatively honorable, violent, and god fearing"? Who can get blessed with the Relatively honorable and god fearing labels? Who would Clint say put their lives on the line and who was their own?

The people taking their masks off in Trumps America are absolute gold.

Online Majority is your platform to create networks, join networks and advocate for causes that are important to you. You can bring your movements to life and watch them grow with the support of other Online Majority members. Be as vocal as you like! You can join as a supporter of a movement, or start your own movement and lead it with a loud, passionate voice.

Online Majority started as a platform for the movement to bring online voting on congressional legislation to the people... and why not? The 535 members of congress are 1/300,000 of 1% of Americans. Why not let the people have the final voice on congressional legislation before it is enacted into law? Let the people be the final voice. Now you can use this platform to start a movement, advocate for your cause and bring make it happen. Be part of the fix for your neighborhood, you city, your state, your country, or around the world. Start the change you want and be the loudest voice for that change.

"The people taking their masks off in Trumps America are absolute gold." Absolutely correct.

The women's marches that were more about sacrificing women to the liberal cause. Riots about not accepting the election results when they previously were exhorting us to accept the results. A lot of ugly faces have been exposed to the larger community. Many Trump voters votes for the least worst or took a bit of a leap of faith in their votes. And every act of petulantism confirms the choice the they made.

If you identify very strongly with your own tribe, then every act of anyone, and every event, always confirms that your tribe is right-- or so it appears to you.

The Women's March showed their colors when they refused to let pro-Life women's groups march. It is not about women's rights, it is about pushing a Hard Left political agenda and nothing else.

Sometimes one tribe is always right.

"Sometimes one tribe is always right."

This is false.

It may be that one tribe is always wrong, but it is *never* that one tribe is always right.

It’s also about the increasing distance between the relatively honorable, violent, and God-fearing South and the rest of the country.

You mean it is about the increasing distance between the effete metrosexual urban bicoastal elites and the rest of the country? The over whelming majority of the country in fact.

Western populations are too nice. They get cheated all the time as a result. Trump does not look nice. A New Yorker I guess.

Probably a point is that a *nice* NYer is not really as nice as one who lets you know from the start he is a total dick...which is how we got here.

"which is how we got here."

You didn't know Trump was a dick? The point about made about being nice is that it's fake. Bill Clinton and Obama were 'nice' until they stabbed you in the back. Trump has his knife out as a warning. As Lawler said, at least you know where you stand.

There's a bit of a point to that, although no one really got 'knifed in the back' by Obama or Clinton for that matter. Both campaigned as more or less centrist politicians and both behaved in office as more or less centrist politicians.

There's also the issue about 'knowing where you stand'. Doesn't really seem to apply here. Trump's policies are not very clear unless you're talking some basic litmus test type issues (for example if you're anti-abortion Trump clearly will check the boxes you want him to check, but then so did Bush, Reagan and so would have any other GOP candidate so what are you getting from Trump?).

"Western populations are too nice. They get cheated all the time as a result."

I guess Mr. Trump's students and suppliers are nice people.

"A nice person isn’t animated by love or honor or God."
I am sure it sounds much better in Arab, say, in one of that crafty Islamic State recruitment videos. It is funny how more and more America just looks like a Middle East country. I doubt that banning immigration from Yemen can solve this problem.

You make a good point. Some say that you become what you love, and you also become what you hate. Because you become what you focus obsessively on-- either way.

Honor has been in short supply in the US of A for many decades. Honorable people don't drop atomic bombs on teen-age girls walking to school. They don't pilot drones from a keyboard in Illinois to send Hellfire missiles to celebrations by goat farmers on the other side of the world. They don't ignore treaties made with aboriginals in the name of economic expediency. Honor comes with a price. In a society where everything is viewed in relation to the bottom line, honor doesn't figure.

"In a society where everything is viewed in relation to the bottom line, honor doesn’t figure."

Good point. "Honor" is replaced by money. Which is why Trump's followers think he is honorable, despite the fact that he lies most of the time that he talks, and despite the disasters he causes for the country.

Honestly get bent. And honor is a entirely personal concept nations don't have honor they can have honor just as they can't be moral. Take just the example of the Indian treaties. Did the people who signed and proposed the treaties break them- no later generations did. Honor doesn't work like that. I can't commit someone else's honor to an agreement I can only pledge my assurances.

From the paragraph quoted, it seems that the key objection to niceness relies on the assumption that the nice person is just as callous and uncaring as the selfish person, with the added fault of being dishonest about their selfishness.

So is the point that nicenees is fine as long as you genuinely want to help people? Or that everyone is inherently selfish, so you might as well be callous to everyone you meet, because that's what honest and respectful people do?

I guess it's not much of a virtue in the abstract. But I don't think being a prick is especially virtuous in itself either. I suppose it depends more on intentions rather than delivery.

Now that I think about it (I wish you could edit comments here), it reminds me a bit of the debate over girls allegedly not liking "nice guys".

But what they actually objected to was not guys who are genuinely nice, but rather the sort of person who *describes themselves* as a "nice guy". The sort of person who says things like "nice guys finish last", followed by a sigh. As if niceness is not a good thing to practice for the sake of niceness, but rather something to be used in expectation of a reward (eg. sex).

And that to me, is fair enough. But I've known people who took the "nice guy" thing to heart, as a sort of strategy. Then when it didn't work they took to being more callous, and wondered why it still wasn't getting them anywhere. To me that is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the problem is.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. Apologies!

You've been drinking the koolaid a bit here dude. There's no thing where women are weeding out secretly insincere nice men and choosing genuine nice men. It's just all about confidence and shyness.

Sometimes human beings do get frustrated by loneliness and rejection though, yes and particularly often a nice, shy person who finds that's not enough to not be alone can become apathetic and disengaged. That's not proof that those people were secretly nasty all along.

No, it's not "proof" of anything, any more than a shy person feeling disillusioned (I know a couple of those too) is "proof" that all nice (or "nice") blokes are like that. I don't have statistics, only anecdotes.

If anything I agree with you, in that I don't think "niceness" is the problem in these cases. It just needs to be backed up with other characteristics.

Anyway, just having a bit of a ramble.

Ah, well, maybe we don't disagree then (and I may have been doing that thing where I was half responding to a commonplace meme as much as what you said).

People who are busy doing things that benefit both themselves and others are too busy to worry about looking nice. Nice as described comes down to virtue signalling, as opposed to virtue.

But ultimately no one has to worry about them because they won't do anything either way.

Oddly what is happening this week is a realisation that it matters. The tidy little illusions that we have constructed are hitting a hard reality. Places like Detroit and inner city Chicago aren't nice, neither is the opiate addiction and death numbers. I think that is the point that was made, that nice is an illusion. In Parliamentary systems and monarchies there are lots of seemingly meaningless rituals and practices that came from a more vigorous time. In the Canadian parliament building, there is a separation between the parties that has something to do with the distance that two swords could reach, reminding everyone except the most obtuse that there are difficult and real interests in conflict in these places, and they are an alternative to violence.

The rooms where Trump learned his trade were not nice places. He knew in his bones by exposure that the boundaries between trades in construction were established by street fights. He knows that the only way to get cooperation isn't by being nice, but that everyone has a bludgeon and something to lose. That is how these complex projects end up on time and on budget. Nice has nothing to do with it, in fact nice people, like one I know, had a project bleed him dry.

3# Most of your classic defender types are keen on politeness and propriety and aspired to the elegant manners of the aristocracy. Japanese instilled deeply with these values were often thought to be the bravest soldiers of WWII. (And yes, atrocities).

The kind of messy "brutishness" that TC was talking about seems different to the antithesis of this guy's niceness.

3) "A nice person wouldn’t be a Good Samaritan, if it required genuine risk or an undue deployment of time and treasure." [SNIP]

Huh? Only misanthropes need apply?

UPSHOT: Piss weak

"The point of Clint Eastwood’s instant classic American Sniper is our failure to properly respect our guardians, who put their lives on the line for their own". [SNIP]

Like the Secret Service on 11/22'63 in Dallas, right?

This guy isn't an essayist, he's a mythologist.

Ironically, Lawler's most penetrating insights concern inner sanctum circle jerks such as this:

"I praise Lawler’s work on Tocqueville in my The Complacent Class". [SNIP]

I think you should get out a little more.

Three anecdotes. BC has a rather well organised volunteer Search and Rescue organization. If someone is lost or missing volunteers will show up from all over to search. They maintain a level of professionalism and qualification that is remarkable. I know a few who are members, and they are all quite interesting people. There were some people who went into the mountains in the interior, got lost, and one of the party didn't survive. The family sued the Search and Rescue organization in the local area. The reaction was swift, and, how can I say, not nice at all. They would rather let you starve and freeze to death, nicely of course, than have some jackasses demand a volunteer service.

A local government outreach worker who helps people on the streets. Nice doesn't describe him. He is capable, smart, connects to people and from time to time gets beat up. Does good work

A number of years ago a friend hit a bad spot, I heard he needed help, and went to find him. He needed medical care for an emotional/mental breakdown. What was interesting is how everyone at the hospital kept a 6 foot radius away from him. For some reason I didn't. No one was nice, neither was I. We helped him though and some of us were aware of the risk.

Semi-random thoughts: As usual, no definition of what "nice" is. Last I heard, agreeableness was a stable personality trait, isn't that what's being discussed? And if so, why the heck wouldn't you use the correct (pseudo)psychological term? Charlie Rose interviewed Robert Gates Friday (I think). In the interview, the criticism of Obama as President when it came to foreign affairs of the USA was that he failed and continues to fail to understand that the world has its share of brutal, self-interested, aggressive countries, and that being a nice guy only works when everyone follows the "rules" and the world don't work that way. Anyone really think the "nice strategy" beats "tit for tat" in game theoretic scenarios??? I doubt the number of intelligent, analytical church goers dwarfs the number of intelligent, analytical God-fearers. Maybe someday we can do a brain scan to see how many intelligent, educated, "God-fearing" adults with top quartile critical thinking skills actually expect to wake up after they die. I'm guessing (projecting?) not many, despite their affirmations of their faith. (Although, I wouldn't argue that one person can't hold two or more contradictory beliefs simultaneously). Nice conflicts with Truthful, doesn't it? Many liberals seem to prefer the former to the latter.

The claim that Obama was just too nice to realize what a big bad place the world is must be the stupidest rationalization out there. Of course Obama knows. He is not that sort of naive. He just genuinely believes that the US is the problem and if it gets out of the way, people will sort their own problems out without the US having to intervene. He blames the US first.

You can call Obama many things but naive or nice are not two of them.

"He blames the US first."
This is a good one. I don't hear this one since the guys saying such things were conspiring to arm the Iranians and help Latin American drug dealers at the same time. I wonder where Mr. Oliver North is.

He was just a nice guy who liked to kill people with drones?

At since 1980, murdering people by proxy is 90% of an American president, so I think we can let it slide.

* Since 1980, murdering people...

Ah yes, the Iran Contra scandal from 1985. Was that the last year of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship?

The one Americans supported? Yep.

Leaving most of that aside, note that cooperation (nice) is the starting gambit in tit-for-tat.

True. Cooperation is great to start out with, and also to continue with, if it is mutual.

Add a little sprinkle of niceness to stop the defect-defect feedback loop.

#3: I remember lots of people in Texas, even people in the university, are in love with the idea of survival or extreme self reliance. However, unless there's a nuclear war we got vaccines, antibiotics, supermarkets and electricity. After reading Lawler's essay I think I'm one of the soulless nice people. I don't care about being self-reliant because it would take my human limited resources such as time, energy and attention from making more money. In our nice world there's an optimal amount of resources dedicated to survival: eat & sleep well, do some physical activity and save some resources (cash, goods, real estate) for a rainy day. However, some people in our nice world still see self-reliance not as a tool to life an hedonistic life, they see self-reliance as life's goal. From the economical point of view , self-reliance as life goal is not an investment, it's consumption. I'm not trying to do a moral judgement, everyone's free to live life as they want. I'm just trying to point there's no free lunch. Self-reliance is like an idealistic artist preferring aesthetic pleasure over income. If people want to live life as performing artists following living up to their grandparent's cultural values, perfect. But, don't expect the income of people that sees self-reliance just as a part life of life, not life's purpose.

Self reliance, in a broader definition, is all about finding your own way, and being responsible for your decisions. You can copy what your neighbor does if it seems to work, or you can go your own way. At a state level, there are 50 different trials being run. If state A gets education right, the others can copy it in whole or the parts they like.

Too many people sacrifice the control of their own destiny in order to conform and get along. This is the real consumption. I just go along and I'm no longer responsible for what happens. Long term betterment is sacrificed for some short term efficiency. This is your right though, so have at it. Just don't force everyone else along with you.

We're all different. I won't push my beliefs into anyone one. I'm just pointing that when outcomes align with beliefs people should not cry.

For example: guys to cool for school want a stay-at-home wife. For the historical point of view that makes no sense. People that can afford that life are rich. In agricultural societies women worked a lot, even in modern farms women work a lot. If low-skill guys are expecting a higher income to pay for a trophy wife so they could feel manly men........haha, when I said my workers my wife worked part-time the guys just couldn't believe it. How is it possible Mr. Engineer? You earn more, you can pay for it. If I valued more having a wife at home of course I can afford it. But we like a nice home, savings, vacations, travel, investment, having a no-worries life. Simple choices about what you value more: being a proud bread earner that asks for employee salary advances every time a child gets sick or being a beta male with savings for a rainy day?. As a cynical husband I can tell it's better my wife works 15 hours a week, that time at work it's time she's not spending. She has a purpose, something to worry about instead of being bored at home thinking how to make my life miserable as hers ;)

"As a cynical husband...." Amen to that.

Tyler, it's gotta be fun to be put into the Pantheon with Marx, Harvey Mansfield, de Toqueville (and the not-named Sunstein)... Thank you for sending me to this essay, which I would otherwise not have found.
Online Majority is your platform to create networks, join networks and advocate for causes that are important to you. You can bring your movements to life and watch them grow with the support of other Online Majority members. Be as vocal as you like! You can join as a supporter of a movement, or start your own movement and lead it with a loud, passionate voice.

Online Majority started as a platform for the movement to bring online voting on congressional legislation to the people... and why not? The 535 members of congress are 1/300,000 of 1% of Americans. Why not let the people have the final voice on congressional legislation before it is enacted into law? Let the people be the final voice. Now you can use this platform to start a movement, advocate for your cause and bring make it happen. Be part of the fix for your neighborhood, you city, your state, your country, or around the world. Start the change you want and be the loudest voice for that change.

Sounds like a good idea. Interesting to see how it goes over time.

3. I once mentioned to my mid-western (Wisconsin) friend that southerners (that would include me) and mid-westerners are alike in that both are known to be nice (or polite, the favored term in the south). My friend responded that there is a difference: with mid-westerners, it's sincere. Of course, the recent election proved that hypocrisy is not restricted to the south. When Lawler refers to the "relatively honorable, violent, and God-fearing South", what he means is hypocrisy, for no region accepts hypocrisy as does the south; indeed, in the south, piety is the religion. Southern writers are the best writers because they write about the hypocrisy that is at the center of our lives. I would say that hypocrisy is underappreciated today. More concerning today is "normalization", as what was once considered abhorrent is being accepted as normal. Or to put it in terms that Lawler would understand, the dysfunctional and anti-social behavior once restricted to poor white southerners has been normalized and spread throughout the land.

"the dysfunctional and anti-social behavior once restricted to poor white southerners has been normalized and spread throughout the land."

True. Another aspect of normalization is whataboutism. I wonder if when Hitler started to pile people into gas overans and kill them, his supporters always said "But this leader of the opponent party also killed people, by sending soldiers off to war a few decades ago" or something like that?

There is the conviction that everything one's own political tribe does is acceptable. And that one's own tribe need never answer for their actions. When asked to defend their own actions, or to justify them as moral or acceptable, they simply reply "But what about when the other party or leader did X? Isn't that the same thing? You didn't complain when that happened, so you have no standing to complain about this."

OK, I'm a pretty nice guy but Lawler on niceness is completely full of crap. It's exactly crap like that that gives (especially conservative) academia such a bad reputation.

3. Plenty of strange things in here, but I will just say that when I try to be a nice person, it is at least somewhat motivated by what I would characterize as a sense of honor.

He probably means honor as "honor killings".

Thiago when people say "go away" to you, online, it's just metaphorical. We don't mind if you stay in your seat (or not). It just means, we don't ever want to hear from you again. Which is fair enough.


Originally your posts were somewhat thoughtful and often brought up an interesting perspective. The last few months they've just devolved into snarky comments, that aren't insightful.

I see, "shoot the messenger for his message is troubling" is a time-honored option of dying empires. Brezhnev never got aroung looking the budget numbers the way the finance guys kept imploring him to do.

I sincerely wish there was a way to block you.

The vast majority of time I just skip over your comments instead. You are just rubbish, just a spam bot.

Thiago is a lonely person, and we all suffer because of it.

Less posturing and more soul-searching would not make America great, but could make it better.

5. I enjoy reading Sumner (although he isn't always nice, unlike the always nice Cowen). But his faith in markets (and it is a faith) can be extreme, reflected in the post Cowen links in his belief that markets are omniscient and will respond to events even before the events occur. I'm reminded of Carnac the Magnificent.

Well, Sumner has his religion of the Omnipotent Free Market, that's for sure.

Could Diogenes find a honest military hero in the last fifty years? Eliminate anyone under 25 because their cortical executives centers are still mush. Eliminate anyone over 25 who does not believe in their cause(keeping Afghan safe for corruption etc). You need to get the specific details of each soldier's experience before tendering honorifics. "Thank you for your service" is an attempt to get service on the cheap. Instead put a present value on each person's service and pay them in the year of service, no expensive tail of medical debt or lifetime parades. My Bayesian priors would suggest less than one percent actual valuable heroic service, balanced by extreme negative impacts if they were in places like Ukraine.

One issue here is that a soldier's job is to follow orders. They are not free to decide what would be the most valuable kind of service to render and to act on that knowledge. It is Congress and/or the president who determine their orders, and thus whether their actions are valuable or not..

5b. I certainly didn't expect "why are you leaving?" from my government. I wouldn't be super happy with exit surveillance (facial scanning, passport rfid, phone pinging) but that would be a lot cheaper and less invasive of my privacy.

Nice essay by Lawyer, but it describes the Trump he wishes existed, not the actual Trump that mocked and ridiculed "guardians" like John McCain for their service in Vietnam. Or the Trump that said our generals are incompetent. Trump's not a bully for America, he's just a bully for his own amusement.

The Trump that just removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from National Security Council.

McCain has been paid far too much deference over the years by nice people. Trump spoke for a lot of people who were sick of McCain. Not all prisoners are heros.

McCain was a great soldier, no doubt. For that we are supposed to ignore he's been kind of a tool as a senator?

Here is the real comedy - trolls who make positional arguments, who loved McCain for President, who suddenly unlove him, will be here in 2020 backing the new Republican candidate and saying "Trump? Never heard of him."

The allegiance is to the tribe itself and to its current leader. Everyone and everything else can be thrown under the bus, whenever the current leader finds it convenient.

Not a lot of people loved McCain for president. He lost, remember? He was the least objectionable candidate though, not unlike Trump.

Your comedy radar needs recalibrating.

The point is that McCain was not a great soldier. He crashed his plane and did radio broadcasts for the Vietcong, that is not the stuff of legend. McCain doesn't deserve deference just because you didn't serve.

This is actually a very acute point. Sumner is basically trying to generalize his own discomfort and inadequacy about not himself having been a soldier onto others. Other people don't have a similar trepidation and Sumner senses that puts him at a disadvantage. It would be like my trying to impose a 6 ft 2 height limit on the NBA- entirely cynical and self-serving only in my case I wouldn't be hiding my cynicism by supposed idealism on behalf of others.

Furthermore if we really subscribed to this kind of thinking Duke Cunningham wouldn't have had to go to jail. His feats as a fighter pilot outstripped McCain by a factor of a 100 so how off limits from criticism should he be. In peacetime McCain treated his first wife about as brutishly as possible.

There are two sides to that story: On the one hand, being a POW isn't in of itself heroic, on the other hand McCain, didn't use his family connections to get himself out of internment, even though it resulted in direct torture when he refused to take the offer.

"n mid-June, Major Bai, commander of the North Vietnamese prison camp system, offered McCain a chance to return home early.The North Vietnamese wanted to score a worldwide propaganda coup by appearing merciful, and also wanted to show other POWs that members of the elite like McCain were willing to be treated preferentially.[ McCain turned down the offer of release, due to the POWs' "first in, first out" interpretation of the U.S. Code of Conduct:he would only accept the offer if every man captured before him was released as well.McCain's refusal to be released was remarked upon by North Vietnamese senior negotiator Lê Đức Thọ to U.S. envoy Averell Harriman, during the ongoing Paris Peace Talks.Enraged by his declining of the offer, Bai and his assistant told McCain that things would get very bad for him.

In late August 1968, a program of vigorous torture methods began on McCain."

I find McCain's behavior to be heroic and disagree with Trump on this issue.

+1. Also admire his strength in speaking out against torture.

He was following procedure, as he was required to do. Second, there is no evidence he was tortured. Third, video taken of him after release shows that he was perfectly healthy.

They're swift-boating McCain now? Stay classy.

3. I worked for small engineering company that had a manufacturing facility right through a door. Some of us went to the same after work happy hour. That was where I learned that people on my side of the door were called "carpet people." Funny, but accurate. Even offices on the manufacturing side had no carpet.

Anyway, those of us who went to happy hour would work out problems there, generated by people who did not go through the door, from one side or the other.

Maybe this nice/brute thing is .. a view from people who never go to happy hour?

(From now on for "nice" I will just substitute "carpet people." I was one, but I went too happy hour too.)

Good point. A lot of people never go through the door, but are great at coming up with labels, explanations, accusations etc. toward the people on the other side. But there is a ton of inaccuracy, due to having no actual contact with those people.

Good for your happy hour people.

I once attended a psychology Masters degree program at a small university. On one side of the hall was the psychology department and on the other side was engineering. The architects wisely put no door between them. So they got to know each other. Psychologists helped engineers to do their writing and communicating better. Engineers fixed the psychologists biofeedback machines and other machines they did their experiments with. And humanity benefited greatly.

I think a lot could be gained by having more interdisciplinary conferences, and by having more interaction among those 3 or 4 people in the U.S. who might be willing to communicate in a respectful way with members of the other political party.

The carpet people have all gotten rid of those dirty people the other side of the door and sent the work to China. At one time the 'carpet people' were forced by circumstance to at least learn to work with people who thought differently than they.

There was an column in the NYT describing how those who would rule over others have no connection to the place. If things go sour, they can leave. There is no reason to trust them, not even give them the benefit of the doubt.

Canada had a wannabe Prime Minister who had trouble convincing the unwashed up here that he cared for them other than as a checkmark on his resume. Sure enough when he lost, he left.

The crazy thing about this is that it is obvious, but there seems to be a generation of smart people who have unlearned the skills of basic human interaction. They profess an open mind, a niceness, but ultimately it ends up being a parochial ignorance. All this is fine until reality intrudes.

Not true. There are many fans of Mike Rowe and his jobs efforts. I am one.

Rowe's looks like a good program. And also there are indeed a lot of people who have unlearned the skills of basic human interaction. They can't seem to communicate off line.

"The carpet people have all gotten rid of those dirty people the other side of the door and sent the work to China."

Certainly some of that has happened. It was usually the CEOs choice to send jobs to China, however, in trying to improve the bottom line and the stock price though-- not every low wage single clerk or secretary working in the carpeted area. Those people are certainly not "those who would rule over others." They're mostly people who are ruled over by the CEO, just like the non-carpet area people are.

And some people who "would rule over others" would make good leaders, and others would not.

The national job and economic situation is a lot more nuanced than carpet people vs. blue collar manufacturing employees-- unless you are just looking for people to scapegoat rather than wanting to look at the realities that you claim others do not see. But we have a president who loves to over-simplify complex problems, apply simple "solutions", and scapegoat particular groups. So that seems to be the custom followed by many in the U.S. now

Lawler's premise descends into cariacature when he discusses corporate America, and the nature of modern work ... as do a number of similar essays. They tend to be fairly ignorant of major corporate trends over the last decade+ (beyond automation): the shift towards flatter, more matrixed/less hierarchical organizational models; changes in customer loyalty and the 'personalization' of demand; the war for talent that's emerged in certain quarters, and what it means for career paths. It would be more instructive if someone wrote a piece that had an empirical understanding of work today (as broad as that is), instead of drawing cartoons about, e.g., 'spirited men' and 'dangerous work' vs. effete customer service.

Yes, good point. At least the writer might interview a number of people who are acting and experiencing in the place where the rubber hits the road, rather than simply theorizing about systems with which they are unfamiliar.

I don't care for Lawler's definition of niceness. There are people out there who are truly nice, who do good things for people they will never meet again, or for people who may even never realize a good deed was done for them. It's all about expectations. Some folks think they are owed more than what they have and I'm a brute if I don't hand it over. Others recognize that what they receive, whether something substantial or just hold the door for them, is a gift. The truly nice are often the same people as the brutish.

Yes. A better definition of niceness would be nice, LOL.

3. Lawler assembles a portfolio not of quotes by Marx, Toqueville, etc. but analyses or interpretations of their supposed statements and then uses them to explain the situation that led to the failure of a national election held many years later. While this is bullshit in high heels and fishnet stockings a more interesting aspect is why the US pseudo-intelligencia feels so compelled to rationalize the event. The answer is that the election is regarded as a political catastrophe, akin, for example, to the Katrina destruction of New Orleans, obviously caused by the failure to design and build levees capable of protecting the city. Trump's disastrous election is a systemic failure, an incident that shows that there are weaknesses in the assumed perfection of the US democratic republic that must be addressed.

"Our increasingly productive cognitive elite is growing. But so too is the class of Americans who are marginally productive."

The cognitive elite aren't the ones that voted for Trump. Sadly, the marginally productive were able to exercise their non-cognitive franchise to screw things up. A new plan must be adopted.


There were many possible reasons why this happened. There was fake news, and Comey, and Assange with Putin's help, constantly releasing emails and statements about emails for fake news to spin lies about. There was gerrymandering, widespread voter suppression, and possible electronic voting machine fraud. If voting machine fraud happened, or ever happens, it can never be detected because voting machine software is proprietary-- a trade secret by law. But whether or not such fraud has already occurred, the machines should be gotten rid of. Because why take the risk of a kind of fraud that is not detectable if it happens?

Here’s how hackers might mess with electronic voting on Election Day

Some states — including swing states — have flawed voting systems

Could the 2016 Election Be Stolen with Help from Electronic Voting Machines?

Fake news is not at all new. Fox, Breitbart, Drudge etc have been going for years. Supposed liberal media had been bashing HRC for years. And there has been no truly liberal media, but tons of different conservative media outlets, for many years now.

Here is negative vs. positive HRC news coverage, which was quite negative, even from "liberal" media that technically endorsed her but that still persuaded people to vote against her or not to vote for her.

Bullies win, if one does nothing to stop them. And that is what happened here. The Right Wing Rage Machine bullied supposed liberal media in to becoming False Equivalence media. Such media folks bent over backwards to prove they were not liberal biased, and in the process they become heavily biased towards Right Wing lies. Such is the media today.

If we don't get some truly progressive media, then we will keep being flushed down the drain by the Far Right Wing bullies who we keep giving in to.

"The cognitive elite aren’t the ones that voted for Trump."

I doubt that. All I've evidence of is that academics didn't vote for him. A far greater number of the cognitive elite work in corporate, which seems to have supported Trump.

Corporations breed conformity even more than academia does. So the part of the cognitive elite that thinks and reflects, rather than does and believes things out of habit and conformity, did not vote for Trump.

And the part that needs to actually produce in the end voted for Trump.

"The cognitive elite aren’t the ones that voted for Trump. Sadly, the marginally productive were able to exercise their non-cognitive franchise to screw things up. A new plan must be adopted."

What is this new plan?

That's something that the cognitive elites must figure out. Relying on the democratic system under current circumstances to produce the desired results failed. "... Trump’s vulgarity
and unfitness would lead to his landslide defeat against the obviously competent Clinton...." The non-cognitives either didn't recognize Clinton's obvious competence or found competence in the political/government arena to be a negative.

The news constantly gave Clinton negative coverage, even supposedly liberal media that technically endorsed her but still persuaded many people to vote against her, not to vote for her, or not to vote at all.

And that was the real news. Of course the "fake news" was much worse, with plenty of "scandals" about a child molestation ring, pay to play at the Clinton Foundation, and countless other evidence-free false stories.

An obvious weakness in a country of 330 million souls. No one can make a legitimate decision on the person most qualified to represent them when their experience of that person is filtered through the media.

Seems like he's confusing niceness and liberality. In general, "nice things are [indeed] nicer than nasty ones."

I suspect a dismissive attitude toward "nice" is possible only if you were very fortunate in who you drew for your immediate family members, or if you were the one whose volatility others had to cope with.

I don't read Eastwood's "American Sniper" as anything about "lack of respect for our guardians." The fictionalized Chris Kyle was afforded hero status, which is tolerated in embarrassed silence. The scene in the auto shop, for one.

I see it as a scathing indictment of the "sheepdog" theory that the main character was inoculated to. The plot of the movie was about the sheer internal cost paid for following his dad's "sheep, wolves and sheepdog" metaphor to that extent. It is as if he had become... addicted to the activity, and had to hit bottom. The "house to house" nature of it reminds of Leningrad and Stalingrad.

The other takeaway is the sheer power of our logistics and ability to shift tactics in a way that would make Rome blush.

If nice means going along to get along, well that's maybe good until you need someone with the courage to stand up for what is right, even when it isn't popular.

If nice means being kind in a superficial way, without getting into anything deeper than that, well maybe that's good until a situation or person requires something deeper.

Most people of any political persuasion are kind of passive and nice, and that is why bullies like Trump often win. But there are certainly a fair number of people with guts who will stand up to bullies. So we shall see what happens there.

Passivity can be seen as doing very little and causing little or no harm, and making little or no impact on one's environment. But it can also be defined as mindlessly conforming, even conforming to violent or brutal ways of acting that are typical in one's culture or subculture.

There is perhaps not so much difference as people may think, between the person who compulsively conforms in niceness and the person who compulsively conforms to brutal ways. People might even easily and quickly shift from one way to the other, at various times in history. If being the True Believer is the essence of this conformity, people might instantly shift to whatever actions are dictated by their trusted leader of True Belief.

This subject makes me think again of this very interesting book I am enjoying now. It is about how even most leaders go along with the crowd and give in when there is resistance to what they are doing, even when what they are doing is right. Even leaders often suffer from a sort of passive conforming niceness.

There is much more to the book than this. Many interesting insights. I highly recommend it.

A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick FixFeb 1, 2007
by Edwin H. Friedman

I wonder if real people on line, on reddit and on Twitter and in blog comment sections like this one, are eventually going to just take it for granted that the majority of other commenters commenting with them, are either bots or paid trolls like the Trump trolls paid by this guy?

The Facebook Near-Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine

“We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it’s time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not,” a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit."

Tyler Cowen is simply not that nice. And he's sneaky, too.

Sneaky is the cowardly analogue of brutishness which adds an added bathos to Cowen's feckless war on brutishness.

#2 Separate and apart from the merits, I am impressed that this is a very rare paper the informs the reader which author wrote which part of the paper.

Alas, the actual regression model produced is not included in the version of the paper provided which is all methods and no result.


I am the third author of the paper and the person in charge of the modeling. Some (not all) of the models are included in the Appendix. You can check page 38, for example. Hope this helps.

Zhou Changwei

Thank you.

Agreed- I was interested in seeing what the conclusions actually were. What for example is the effect of being female?


The influence of being female on the income is not neglible. For example in the lasso-based regression model, being female implies you will earn 95% in comparsion to being a male. This is one order magnitude larger than being black, for example. The project tested at least 5 different competing regression models, so there is no single standard interpretation available. Please let me know if you have more questions.

Zhou Changwei

"1. Um…what if your name is Alexa?"

I didn't read the gated article, but surely they mentioned that you can change the "Wake Word" on the device from "Alexa" to be "Amazon".

The progress of capitalism is—to a point—the division of society
into those who are pure consciousness and those who are pure machine.
The mixed being who is both withers away, the victim, in a way, of technology’s
conquest of nature. Part of that conquest is the destruction of
the illusions that made the human being understand himself as basically
a relational being ennobled by love, honor, and intrinsically significant
work. Personal connections are exposed as veils that have hidden manipulation.
One lesson of capitalism is that relying on love is for suckers"

This passage reminds me of the paradigm between the Eloi and Morlocks of HG Wells, "The Time Machine".

The above references: 3. Peter Lawler

That Peter Lawler essay is just brilliant! A remarkable critique of the Amoral "niceness" culture that has accompanied the rise of secularism and decline of religion, in our lives.

As Religion declines, so does the idea of "absolutes" in most spheres of life. In the absence of "absolutes", non-judgmentalism prevails. And the only religion is the religion of being "nice" to each other to get by life.

Niceness, as Lawler ponts out, is amoral and not a virtue. Niceness is all about making one's life pleasant. As opposed to having a clear idea of good and evil.

Well, some religious sects have a clear and totally crazy idea of what is good and what is evil.

Because Lawler constructs his thesis around a vague and abstract concept of "nice" his work is reduced to mostly BSing. If you suppose the article to be a telescope then the concept nice functions like lens made out of an orange popsicle.

I don't think anyone can clearly see thier culture in real time. It's especially bad when you try to generalize about huge groups of people.

On number 5 on tariffs and currencies.

Can anyone identify a single historic example of a currency rising to offset an increase in tariffs?

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