18 Jul 2020

Potpourri

Culture Wars, Police, Potpourri 12 Comments

==> Bari Weiss has annoyed me in the past, but her resignation letter from NYT is worth skimming. (In particular, her claims about co-worker treatment that management tolerated.)

==> Great review by Coleman Hughes of the book How to Be an Antiracist. It means a lot more than “speak up when your co-worker tells a racist joke.”

==> Try skimming this: The author refutes his own headline/premise in the article. Ishn’t zat veird?

==> For various reasons, I dug up Rothbard’s critique of the “modal libertarian”:

And the Modal Libertarian (henceforth ML) is indeed a he, because the movement has always, of course, been overwhelmingly male. And unfortunately, the few female libertarian activists suffer from much the same syndrome as the males.

The ML was in his twenties twenty years ago, and is now in his forties. That is neither as banal, nor as benign as it sounds, because it means that the movement has not really grown in twenty years; the same dreary people have merely gotten twenty years older. The ML is fairly bright, and fairly well steeped in libertarian theory. But he knows nothing and cares less about history, culture, the context of reality or world affairs. His only reading or cultural knowledge is science fiction, on which the ML is an expert, and which manages to keep him very nicely insulated from reality. As a result, the average rank-and-file member of the most ineffectual Trotskyite sect knows far more about world affairs than all but a tiny handful of libertarian leaders.

The ML does not, unfortunately, hate the State because he sees it as the unique social instrument of organized aggression against person and property. Instead, the ML is an adolescent rebel against everyone around him: first, against his parents, second against his family, third against his neighbors, and finally against society itself. He is especially opposed to institutions of social and cultural authority: in particular against the bourgeoisie from whom he stemmed, against bourgeois norms and conventions, and against such institutions of social authority as churches. To the ML, then, the State is not a unique problem; it is only the most visible and odious of many hated bourgeois institutions: hence the zest with which the ML sports the button, “Question Authority.”

And hence, too, the fanatical hostility of the ML toward Christianity. I used to think that this militant atheism was merely a function of the Randianism out of which most modern libertarians emerged two decades ago. But atheism is not the key, for let someone in a libertarian gathering announce that he or she is a witch or a worshiper of crystal-power or some other New Age hokum, and that person will be treated with great tolerance and respect. It is only Christians that are subject to abuse, and clearly the reason for this difference in treatment has nothing to do with atheism. But it has everything to do with rejecting and spurning bourgeois American culture; any kind of kooky cultural cause will be encouraged in order to tweak the noses of the hated bourgeoisie.

In point of fact, the original attraction of the ML to Randianism was part and parcel of his adolescent rebellion: what better way to rationalize and systematize rejection of one’s parents, family, and neighbors than to join a cult which denounces religion and which trumpets the absolute superiority of yourself and your cult leaders, as contrasted to the robotic “second-handers” who supposedly people the bourgeois world? A cult, furthermore, which calls upon you to spurn your parents, family, and bourgeois associates, and to cultivate the alleged greatness of your own individual ego (suitably guided, of course, by Randian leadership).

There is a certain raffish charm to adolescent rebels at twenty; at forty however, the same attitudes and outlook become odious. The charm has gone. Lew Rockwell’s critics conveniently leap to the assumption that what he and I have been attacking is noticeably “hippie” hair, manners, and clothing. But this is a highly superficial view. The only good thing about hippiedom is that it makes the modal nihilos easy to spot. But even those MLs who look like real people, who wear suits and ties, really aren’t. The important point is the personality, the attitudes.

In short: the ML, if he has a real world occupation, such as accountant or lawyer, is generally a lawyer without a practice, an accountant without a job. The ML‘s modal occupation is computer programmer; the ML was a computer nerd long before the invention ofthe personal computer. Computers appeal indeed to the ML‘s scientific and theoretical bent; but they also appeal to his aggravated nomadism, to his need not to have a regular payroll or regular abode. Furthermore, it is easy to call yourself a “computer consultant” when what you really are is unemployed.

The ML also has the thousand-mile stare of the fanatic. He is apt to buttonhole you at the first opportunity and to go on at great length about his own particular “great discovery” or about his mighty manuscript which is crying out for publication if only it hadn’t been suppressed by the Powers That Be. He is, like all fanatics, totally humorless; his idea of high wit is someone being on the receiving end of a hotfoot.

But above all, the ML is a moocher, a bunco artist, and often an outright crook. His basic attitude toward other libertarians is “Your house is my house.” How many libertarians in the rare privileged position of living in an apartment or house have not had the pleasure of hearing their doorbell ring, and being confronted with some guy on the doorstep who says, in effect; “Hey man, I’m a libertarian,” and expects to be put up for the night, the week, or whatever? How many libertarians have had to chuck such people out into the cold? Libertarians, in short, whether they articulate this “philosophy” or not, are libertarian-communists: anyone with property is automatically expected to “share”it with the other members of his extended libertarian ‘Family.”

12 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Jan Masek says:

    I don’t know a single Modal Libertarian. Is that really a thing in the US? Do these people exist in significant numbers?

  2. Scott Lazarowitz says:

    The review of “How to Be an Antiracist” book: Why the absolutes? People are either anti-racist or racist? I think that if you are generally a decent human being, you are basically anti-racism and there’s no need to be actively so. Just recently, by the way, the Libertarian Party’s new presidential nominee, Jo Jorgensen raised a few eyebrows by saying we have to be actively anti-racist. I disagree with her, and I believe in live and let live, but I don’t get involved with any activism (except for what I write on my blog). I don’t have do go out to a BLM rally as she did.

    Back to that book, the author suggests that capitalism is racist, when in reality it is socialism that is racist. In capitalism, that is, free-market capitalism, black people would have the same freedom to use their wealth, income and capital however they wish just as much as white people. Spend it, save it, invest, start a new business, and with no licensure or permission from government parasites, no fees to government parasites, no government-imposed “codes” to follow, etc. That also includes going to work for an employer at whatever wage the two agree on (i.e. no government-imposed minimum wage). But the unions have gotten government parasites to impose minimum wage requirements on employers and workers that shuts out the low- or no-skilled entry workers, particularly in the cities, i.e. many black youngins. That’s socialism, not capitalism.

    The author also wants to fight racism with government-imposed anti-racist policies like censoring racist ideas, for example an anti-racism Amendment to the Constitution. Hmm, so much for freedom of speech and the First Amendment, which as we are already seeing, is being erased in academia, the tech industry and social media as we speak.

  3. Matt M says:

    “It means a lot more than “speak up when your co-worker tells a racist joke.”

    Well, by the definition provided in this article, Jo Jorgensen has demanded that all libertarians must oppose capital gains tax cuts!

  4. skylien says:

    Hope it is ok if I hijack this thread, but you need to watch this debate about forced vaccination between RFK Jr. and Dershowitz:

    https://www.infowars.com/historic-vaccine-debate-rfk-jr-vs-dershowitz-on-forced-vaccination-of-americans/

    If half of RFK Jr. says is true, omg is the US regulatory system on Food, Drug and especially Vaccine Regulation f***** up (Dershowith doesn’t say a word against any of that…) The conflict of interest is absolutely off the charts.

  5. random person says:

    If you don’t mind me talking about the lockdowns…

    “All-cause mortality during COVID-19: No plague and a likely signature of mass homicide by government response”
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341832637_All-cause_mortality_during_COVID-19_No_plague_and_a_likely_signature_of_mass_homicide_by_government_response

    The argument is basically:
    * Attribution of deaths to specific causes, such as COVID-19, is subject to bias, so to avoid the bias, it’s better to look at overall mortality.
    * There is a surprisingly regular pattern of higher mortality in the winter as compared to the summer.
    * 2020 was looking to be a mild year in terms of mortality, right up until the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.
    * Right after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, there was an oddly synchronous spike in mortality in both the United States and Europe.
    * The spike was too narrow, and too late in the infection cycle, to be consistent with ordinary plague patterns.
    * None of the seven states (in the United States) – namely, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and Arkansas – that did not impose a lockdown had a mortality spike. At least a couple other states also didn’t have a mortality spike.
    * The mortality spikes correlated to government actions and nursing home events, rather than to ordinary disease patterns.
    * Quotations from news articles are given to support the view that government response and nursing home issues caused the mortality spikes.
    * Also, fear and stress compromises the immune system.

    • random person says:

      Summary of the article here:
      “Lockdowns cause mortality spike, not Covid-19”
      http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/column/20200627/lockdowns-cause-mortality-spike-not-covid-19/

      • Harold says:

        This does demonstrate the harm done by this sort of misinformation. It is fine for DG Rancourt to publish his unsubstantiated conjectures, but other people in the media pick up on it an parrot it as though it had some scientific importance. As Bob has said, make your case for not having compulsory lockdowns, but do not do it by rejecting the science.

        This article is a case in point.
        “Denis G. Rancourt, by his extensive research* into all-cause mortality figures during Covid-19 in Europe and the USA, has shown “Covid peak” was due to government lockdown actions rather than any novel virus!

        “I highly recommend you read this brilliant research and see how this pandemic was really made and sold to people. If people do not wake up to these facts, we will be subjected to phony “plandemics” again.”

        Brillliant research! It is bunkum from start to finish, but readers of Simin Williams’ article are not going to know that. Some will believe that this is a proper paper (see my comment below).

        She says:
        “Some of the interesting gems in this research paper regarding US statistics were:

        ‘ “The ‘Covid peak’ in the USA data arises from ‘hot spots’, such as New York City.”

        No shit Sherlock., Who knew that NYC was a hot spot without this “brilliant research”?

        And
        ““What is also striking is that some of the largest-population states in the USA, having large numbers of measured and reported cases, and large numbers of individuals with the antibodies, do not show a ‘Covid peak’.” (For example, in California.)”

        What does his source for this actually say?

        “After weighting for population demographics of Santa Clara County, the prevalence was 2.8%” Yes, 2.8%. Is this a large number of people with antibodies? Is this compared to other States? No.

        It is dangerous when people pick up of anything that supports their view and promotes it as “brilliant research” without the slightest bit of checking. Williams could have contacted a scientist to get a second opinion, but presumably did not do so because of a mistrust of science.

        She is generally anti-vaccine and against 5G.

        This is the misinformation mill in action. Someone publishes the results of “their own research” with no review of the literature and no peer review. It is picked by by some hack in Gisborne, NZ and presented as “brilliant research”. Then it is appearing in blogs such as this. Please read this stuff critically.

    • random person says:

      Also, apparently, the lockdown in South Africa is estimated to be causing at least 29 times as many years of lost life as it is preventing.
      https://www.scribd.com/document/459959942/Pandemic-Data-and-Analytics-Quantifying-Years-of-Lost-Life#download

    • random person says:

      The Federalist reports, “Research Finds Lockdowns Are Far Worse For Health And Lives Than Coronavirus: Why aren’t the epidemiological models used to justify the lockdowns also accounting for the grave public health risks of prolonged closures?”

      https://thefederalist.com/2020/06/16/research-finds-lockdowns-are-far-worse-for-health-and-lives-than-coronavirus/

  6. random person says:

    I hope you don’t mind if I talk about the lockdowns…

    “All-cause mortality during COVID-19: No plague and a likely signature of mass homicide by government response”
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341832637_All-cause_mortality_during_COVID-19_No_plague_and_a_likely_signature_of_mass_homicide_by_government_response

    The argument is basically:
    * Attribution of deaths to specific causes, such as COVID-19, is subject to bias, so to avoid the bias, it’s better to look at overall mortality.
    * There is a surprisingly regular pattern of higher mortality in the winter as compared to the summer.
    * 2020 was looking to be a mild year in terms of mortality, right up until the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.
    * Right after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, there was an oddly synchronous spike in mortality in both the United States and Europe.
    * The spike was too narrow, and too late in the infection cycle, to be consistent with ordinary plague patterns.
    * None of the seven states (in the United States) – namely, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and Arkansas – that did not impose a lockdown had a mortality spike. At least a couple other states also didn’t have a mortality spike.
    * The mortality spikes correlated to government actions and nursing home events, rather than to ordinary disease patterns.
    * Quotations from news articles are given to support the view that government response and nursing home issues caused the mortality spikes.
    * Also, fear and stress compromises the immune system.

    • random person says:

      Sorry for double post, thought it didn’t work the first time.

    • Harold says:

      Did you read the paper? It is amusing in its errors.

      This is not peer reviewed or submitted for journal publication. The benefit of peer reviewed papers is that basic errors and misunderstandings of the field of study will be filtered out. His most basic errors were:

      1) He used influenza as a model for a different virus.
      2) He used one paper from 2010 (Shaman et al) as the definitive one to explain the seasonality of influenza. This is complex and involves factors including survival of the virus (e.g. humidity), host susceptibility (e.g. vitamin D deficiancy) and host contact (e.g. staying indoors more in winter.) Even if influenza was a good model, he failed to review the literature properly.
      3) He invented his own simple model for virulence without reference to the literature.

      The basic argument is that winter excess deaths are largely caused by viral infections, and these follow a regular seasonal pattern. The author cites evidence that this is caused almost exclusively by seasonal humidity variations. He uses a “simple model” of viral disease, concluding that “the epidemic’s basic reproduction number (R0) is predominantly dependent on ambient absolute humidity.” As such, it has little to do with the nature of the virus itself or host behavior. Therefore, any new virus will have the same seasonal pattern as we have seen before with flu.

      Having arrived at this unusual premise, he observes the pattern of excess deaths in 2020. These display characteristics that cannot be explained using his simple model of virulence.

      “*Its sharpness, with a full-width at half-maximum of only approximately 4 weeks;
      • Its lateness in the infectious-season cycle, surging after week-11 of 2020, which is unprecedented for any large sharp-peak feature;
      • The synchronicity of the onset of its surge, across continents, and immediately following the WHO declaration of the pandemic; and
      • Its USA state-to-state absence or presence for the same viral ecology on the same territory, being correlated with nursing home events and government actions rather than any known viral strain discernment.”

      His conclusion is that it is the WHO declaration of a pandemic that is the cause, not a novel virus.

      I hope it is easy to see the flaws in his arguments. His premise was based in influenza, so a novel virus will behave differently. He is basically saying recent deaths do not fit the pattern of influenza so it cannot be a a virus.

      We know that different viruses have different virulence. Measles is very much more infectious than flu, yet it is spread by coughing and sneezing.

      Another explanation for all his observations is that there was a pandemic of a novel virus, which the WHO alerted the world about after it was already spreading around the world (that is what a pandemic is). This caused a surge in deaths followed by a lockdown, which halted further spread, giving a narrow peak later in the season than the usual winter excess deaths.

      Please go and read it for yourself and see if you agree with my analysis.

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