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Thoughts for the Day

Excerpts of recent correspondence.

Robots, and their functional equivalents in specialized AI systems, can either replace people or make people more productive. I suspect that the latter has been true in the realm of medicine — so far, at least. But I have seen reportage of robotic units that are beginning to perform routine, low-level work in hospitals. So, as usual, the first people to be replaced will be those with rudimentary skills, not highly specialized training. Will it go on from there? Maybe, but the crystal ball is as cloudy as an old-time London fog.

In any event, I don’t believe that automation is inherently a job-killer. The real job-killer consists of government programs that subsidize non-work — early retirement under Social Security, food stamps and other forms of welfare, etc. Automation has been in progress for eons, and with a vengeance since the second industrial revolution. But, on balance, it hasn’t killed jobs. It just pushes people toward new and different jobs that fit the skills they have to offer. I expect nothing different in the future, barring government programs aimed at subsidizing the “victims” of technological displacement.

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It’s civil war by other means (so far): David Wasserman, “Purple America Has All but Disappeared” (The New York Times, March 8, 2017).

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I know that most of what I write (even the non-political stuff) has a combative edge, and that I’m therefore unlikely to persuade people who disagree with me. I do it my way for two reasons. First, I’m too old to change my ways, and I’m not going to try. Second, in a world that’s seemingly dominated by left-wing ideas, it’s just plain fun to attack them. If what I write happens to help someone else fight the war on leftism — or if it happens to make a young person re-think a mindless commitment to leftism — that’s a plus.

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I am pessimistic about the likelihood of cultural renewal in America. The populace is too deeply saturated with left-wing propaganda, which is injected from kindergarten through graduate school, with constant reinforcement via the media and popular culture. There are broad swaths of people — especially in low-income brackets — whose lives revolve around mindless escape from the mundane via drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, etc. Broad swaths of the educated classes have abandoned erudition and contemplation and taken up gadgets and entertainment.

The only hope for conservatives is to build their own “bubbles,” like those of effete liberals, and live within them. Even that will prove difficult as long as government (especially the Supreme Court) persists in storming the ramparts in the name of “equality” and “self-creation.”

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I correlated Austin’s average temperatures in February and August. Here are the correlation coefficients for following periods:

1854-2016 = 0.001
1875-2016 = -0.007
1900-2016 = 0.178
1925-2016 = 0.161
1950-2016 = 0.191
1975-2016 = 0.126

Of these correlations, only the one for 1900-2016 is statistically significant at the 0.05 level (less than a 5-percent chance of a random relationship). The correlations for 1925-2016 and 1950-2016 are fairly robust, and almost significant at the 0.05 level. The relationship for 1975-2016 is statistically insignificant. I conclude that there’s a positive relationship between February and August temperatures, but weak one. A warm winter doesn’t necessarily presage an extra-hot summer in Austin.

Please Understand Me

This is from the updated version of “My Moral Profile.”

I am an INTJ, and an especially strong I, T, and J. Here are my latest scores (02/16/17) on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), which is similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The descriptive excerpts are from David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates’s Please Understand Me.

EXTRAVERSION 0 – INTROVERSION 10

The person who chooses people as a source of energy probably prefers extraversion, while the person who prefers solitude to recover energy may tend toward introversion.

SENSATION 8 – INTUITION 12

The person who has a natural preference for sensation probably describes himself first as practical, while the person who has a natural preference for intuition probably chooses to describe himself as innovative.

THINKING 20 – FEELING 0

Persons who choose the impersonal basis of choice are called the thinking types by Jung. Persons who choose the personal basis are called the feeling types…. The more extreme feeling types are a bit put off by rule-governed choice, regarding the act of being impersonal as almost inhuman. The more dedicated thinking types, on the other hand, sometimes look upon the emotion-laden decisions and choices as muddle-headed.

JUDGING 19 – PERCEIVING 1

Persons who choose closure over open options are likely to be the judging types. Persons preferring to keep things open and fluid are probably the perceiving types. The J is apt to report a sense of urgency until he has made a pending decision, and then he can be at rest once the decision has been made. The F person, in contrast, is more apt to experience resistance to making a decision, wishing that more data could be accumulated as the basis for the decision. As a result, when a P person makes a decision, he may have a feeling of uneasiness and restlessness, while the J person, in the same situation, may have a feeling of ease and satisfaction.

Js tend to establish deadlines and take them seriously, expecting others to do the same. Ps may tend more to look upon deadlines as mere alarm clocks which buzz at a given time, easily turned off or ignored while one catch an extra forty winks, almost as if the deadline were used more as a signal to start than to complete a project.

My Original Blog

My original blog was Liberty Corner (March 2004 – July 2009). It began in 1997 as a pre-Blogspot home page, which linked to topical pages. Here’s how it looked on December 12, 1998 (courtesy of Wayback Machine), though the links don’t work:



On the light side

Short Stuff offers quips and comments about national affairs (and affaires).

“A Sideways Glance” exposes the silly side of business, politics, and society in the late Twentieth Century. In A Sideways Glance, vol. 1 you’ll find:

  • Busy-ness As Usual (the socially-conscious CEO)
  • Who’s in Charge Here? (secrets of the Pentagon)
  • Biz-Buzz (late-Twentieth Century business-speak)
  • Whoppers (lies our wannabe Presidents tell us)
  • Cutting the Price of Pork (there’s never a free lunch)

A Sideways Glance, vol. 2 brings you:

  • The Cocoon Age (litigating womb-to-grave security)
  • Justice in TV-land (crime and punishment in prime time)
  • Righting Wrongs by Wronging Rights (zealots vs. the Bill of Rights)
  • Ten Commandments of Bad Management (how to emulate the pointy-haired boss)
  • To Pay or Not to Pay (Shakespeare on taxes)

Now appearing in A Sideways Glance, vol. 3:

  • Through a Crystal Ball, Murkily (political life, after Clinton)
  • Flunking Out of Electoral College (the “disastrous” consequences of the College)
  • Bill and Al’s Egregious Adventure (a moral lesson about running for dog-catcher)
  • Don’t Blame Me (the criminal as victim, from Brutus to Bill Clinton)

Serious business

Let Reason Reign: Conversations With Myself tackles science and truth, the nature of humankind, and other big questions:

  • Truth, Science, and Religion
  • The Nature of Human-ness: Consciousness, Purpose, and Morality
  • The Constitution and the Role of the Federal Government
  • Law and Society
  • Gender, Race, and Envy
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Ethics and Everyday Leadership

In Brief consists of epigrams and observations on life, liberty, and the Constitution.

Restoring the Constitutional Contract explains the central purpose of the Constitution; its meaning for the respective powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens; and the ways in which we have drifted from that purpose and from the intended distribution of powers and rights.

A Restored Constitutional Contract offers a proposed Constitution that is faithful to the purpose of the original Constitution, and which restores the powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens to their proper balance.



A later incarnation went by the name Uncommon Sense, though I switched back to Liberty Corner when I began using Blogspot in March 2004. This is the latest archived version of Uncommon Sense, from July 21, 2001; the links work:



Uncommon Sense


The rational person's guide to
politics, the economy, and society


Politics and Government

With a Light Touch

Political Parlance a jaunty glossary that exposes the sham of political jargon and the shame of political icons

Short Stuff quips and comments about national affairs — and affaires

Who’s in Charge Here? secrets of the Pentagon

Whoppers lies our wannabe Presidents tell us

Cutting the Price of Pork there’s never a free lunch

Through a Crystal Ball Murkily political life after Clinton

Flunking Out of Electoral College the “disastrous” consequences of the College

Bill and Al’s Egregious Adventure a moral lesson about running for dog-catcher

The Trials of William Jefferson Whatsit a farce in three acts

A Serious Look at Government and the Constitution

Why Do We Have Government? where government fails, and where it is necessary

In Brief epigrams and observations on life, liberty, and the Constitution

Restoring the Constitutional Contract the purpose of the Constitution; its meaning for the respective powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens; and the ways in which we have drifted from that purpose and from the intended distribution of powers and rights

The Constitution and the Role of the Federal Government misperceptions about the federal government’s proper role in our affairs

Combatting Constitutional Cancer the cancer within the Constitution itself — namely, those Amendments that have caused great harm to the Republic — and the need for a constitutional convention to remove the cancer

A Restored Constitutional Contract a revised Constitution that is faithful to the purpose of the original, and which restores the powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens to their proper balance


Economics and Business

Speaking Seriously

Ethics and Everyday Leadership

Tongue in Cheek

Busy-ness As Usual a satire on the socially conscious CEO

Biz-Buzz new-millennium business-speak

Ten Commandments of Bad Management how to emulate the point-haired boss

To Pay or Not to Pay Shakespeare on the Ides of April

The Economy Works, in Spite of Zany Economists the title says it all


Society and Its Trappings

More Serious Matters

Law and Society

Gender, Race, and Envy

Crime and Punishment

Truth, Science, and Religion

The Nature of Human-ness: Consciousness, Purpose, and Morality

And a Few Laughs, to Boot

The Cocoon Age litigating womb-to-grave security

Justice in TV-land crime and punishment in prime time

Righting Wrongs by Wronging Rights zealots vs. the Bill of Rights

Don’t Blame Me the criminal as victim, from Brutus to Bill Clinton

Out with the Old, In with the Older a report card for America’s Twentieth Century

 

Hot Post

Thanks to Free Republic, a five-year-old post of mine attracted an inordinate number of visitors over the weekend. The post is “September 20, 2001: Hillary Clinton Signals the End of ‘Unity’.” Go and see it for yourself.

Krugman vs. McCarthy

Arnold Kling characterizes Paul Krugman as “Joe McCarthy with a Nobel Prize.” I appreciate and share the disgust with Krugman that spurs Kling’s statement. But I must note that McCarthy was an enemy of America’s enemies; Krugman is one of America’s enemies.

A Burst of Productivity?

Some readers may notice that this blog has 39 more posts today than it had yesterday. There’s a simple explanation: In February I resumed blogging, but in a somewhat different style — shorter, less-data driven and research-heavy posts, and more humor.

And I chose a new venue for the new style. But it seems to be hard for a new blog to attract many readers. So I’ve imported the posts from the new blog to this one. And from now on I’ll blog here — but in my new style. (I will re-post at the new blog, for the benefit of its few followers.)

Politics & Prosperity in Print

I am drawing on my best posts (see “A Summing Up“) to produce a series called Dispatches from the Fifth Circle. The first volume — Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies — is available at Amazon.com.

I’m working on the second volume — Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes — and hope to publish six more after that one.

Welcoming a Guest Blogger

I’m very pleased to announce the addition of a guest blogger — Libertarian Psychologist, a.k.a. L. P. — to the roster of Politics & Prosperity.

L. P.’s education and work as a researcher, writer, and former telework consultant span various branches of psychology. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and her M.A. in Psychology (with an emphasis in Industrial-Organizational Psychology) at California State University in Sacramento. Her exploratory nature also led her to study law, for a time, at McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific and, later, to undertake doctoral coursework in Social Psychology at University of Nevada in Reno. As a self-directed free-thinker however, she finds the most educational value in autodidactism (self-directed learning), and is also a devoted student at the “school of hard knocks.”

Upon leaving academia, she followed her interests in personality and evolutionary psychology as well as political science. She then discovered libertarianism and recognized the ills of an overreaching governmental system. In addressing the problems of statism, she will write on the following topics:

  • Indoctrination into liberal ideology in public schools and universities: scope and effects on the direction of U.S. politics since the end of WWII.
  • Psychological impact of statist policies, especially with regard to dysfunctional “help” that undermines and disempowers people’s sense of agency (i.e., the social damage that results from interventions like affirmative action).
  • Critiques of contemporary social-engineering endeavors.
  • The roots of political differences from the perspective of personality and evolutionary psychology.
  • The effective communication of libertarian ideas to liberals.
  • The possibility or impossibility of a liberal-libertarian fusion.
  • Advantages of policies (private as well as public) that foster teleworking, virtual teams, etc. (i.e., how employers benefit from being able to attract and keep certain highly productive but seemingly “antisocial” types of workers.)

Signature

A Burgeoning Blog

Politics & Prosperity has gained more than 2,000 posts, just like that. How? I imported all of the posts from my old Blogspot blogs: Liberty Corner, Liberty Corner II (the home of very long posts), and Americana, Etc. The posts from those blogs date back to March 2004. If you happen upon one of those posts and find a link that seems to point to another post at this blog, the link will take you to the original post at the Blogspot blog. I wasn’t about to edit some 2,000 posts to change Blogspot links to WordPress links.

Nevertheless, this blog now contains all of the blog posts that I’ve ever written, including a collection of 29 posts dated April 29, 2010.  That’s when I published a facsimile of the original version of Liberty Corner, which I maintained as a “home page” in the pre-blog days of the late 1990s.

By Their Musical Preferences Ye Shall Know Them

Marginal Revolution has become an increasingly “marginal” blog because its dominant contributor, Tyler Cowen, has become increasingly incoherent. It turns out that Cowen is a fan of Elliott Carter, who writes incoherent “music,” of which many samples can be heard here.

Neither sound economics nor good music is consistent with incoherence. Therefore, I have scratched Marginal Revolution from my reading list, just as years ago I scratched my copy of a chamber-music LP to eradicate an unlistenable piece by Elliott Carter.

That’s All Folks

UPDATED, 09/05/09

That’s the end of my stint at Blogspot, I should say. All of my new posts are at Politics & Prosperity. (Note to readers: This is a new location. Please change your bookmarks and feed links.)

But don’t go away empty-handed. There are more than 2,000 posts here; you can’t have read all of them (if you’ve read any). Check out “The Best of Liberty Corner,” browse the archive, and explore the various categories linked in the sidebar.

Bum Dope

An econblogger whose posts I read regularly says:

At this website (WHOIS Search database), you can look up the real name of the owner of any website on the Internet.

Via Reason.

It doesn’t work if a site’s URL is xxx.blogspot.com, xxx.typepad.com, or the like. Nor does it work if the owner of a site has masked his or her identity.

In the Pipeline

When I resumed blogging in earnest on July 1 — after eight months in which I seldom posted anything of substance — I had a backlog of about thirty posts in draft form. I have, since July 1, polished and published many of those drafts. I also have deleted a handful that seemed, in retrospect, not worth pursuing.

My backlog of draft posts now numbers nine:

The United Way or the Highway?

There Ain’t No Such Thing as Free Health Care

Is America Resegregating? And So What If It Is?

Cell Phones and Driving, Once More

Creationism, Intelligent Design, Science, and Politics

Homosexuality and Other Gender Matters

The Folly of Contractual Libertarianism

Liberty, Harm, Nationalism, Federalism, and Individualism

A Summing Up

Will all see the light of day, in one form or another? Will I continue to blog after the nine have been published or purged? Stay tuned…

Friday’s Best Reading

Links and excerpts:

The Laffer Curve Straw Man,” by Daniel Mitchell (Cato-at-Liberty)

The real issue is whether certain changes in tax policy will have some impact on economic activity. If an increase (decrease) in tax rates changes behavior and causes a reduction (increase) in taxable income, then revenues will not rise (fall) as much as “static” revenue-estimating models would predict. This is hardly a radical concept, and evidence of Laffer-Curve effects is very well established in the academic literature.

Sociologists Discover Religion,” by Heyecan Veziorglu (campusreportonline.net)

Associate Professor Dr. Jeffrey Ulmer from Pennsylvania State University examines the degree to which religiosity increases self-control. He points out that religious observance builds self-control and substance use is lower in stronger moral communities.

Eminent Scientist Censored for Truth-Telling [about genes and IQ],” by John J. Ray (Tongue Tied 3)

…There is no inconsistency in saying that blacks as a whole are less intelligent while also acknowledging that some individual blacks are very intelligent. What is true of most need not be true of all.

Scientists have spent decades looking for holes in the evidence [Dr. James] Watson [of DNA fame] was referring to but all the proposed “holes” have been shown not to be so. There is NO argument against his conclusions that has not been meticulously examined by skeptics already. And all objections have been shown not to hold up. There is an introduction to the studies concerned here.

Some commentators have mentioned that old Marxist propagandist, Stephen Jay Gould, as refuting what Watson said. Here is just one comment pointing out what a klutz Gould was. And for an exhaustive scientific refutation of Gould by an expert in the field, see here. [Highly recommended: LC.] Gould’s distortions of the facts really are quite breathtaking.

Hanson Joins Cult,” by Robin Hanson (Overcoming Bias)

Rumors of a weird cult of “Straussians” obsessed with hidden meanings in classic texts have long amused me. Imagine my jaw-dropping surprise then to read an articulate and persuasive Straussian paper by Arthur Melzer in the November Journal of Politics:

Leo Strauss…argued that, prior to the rise of liberal regimes and freedom of thought in the nineteenth century, almost all great thinkers wrote esoterically: they placed their most important reflections “between the lines” of their writings, hidden behind a veneer of conventional pieties. They did so for one or more of the following reasons: to defend themselves from persecution, to protect society from harm, to promote some positive political scheme, and to increase the effectiveness of their philosophical pedagogy….

Melzer convinced me with data:

By now we have seen a good number of explicit statements by past thinkers acknowledging and praising the use of esoteric writing for pedagogical purposes. What is perhaps even more striking in this context is that I have been unable to find any statements, prior to the nineteenth century, criticizing esotericism for the aforementioned problem, or indeed for any other.

This great transition is my best bet for the essential change underlying the industrial revolution:

In The Flight from Ambiguity, the distinguished sociologist Donald Levine writes: “The movement against ambiguity led by Western intellectuals since the seventeenth century figures as a unique development in world history. There is nothing like it in any premodern culture known to me”. This remarkable transformation of our intellectual culture was produced by a variety of factors, but most obviously by the rise of the modern scientific paradigm of knowledge which encouraged the view that, in all fields, intellectual progress required the wholesale reform of language and discourse, replacing ordinary parlance with an artificial, technical, univocal mode of communication

Modern growth began when enough intellectuals gained status not from ambiguity but from clarity, forming a network of specialists exchanging clear concise summaries of new insights.

Scratch Another One

I haven’t found much of interest at QandO lately. Now Jon Henke wades in with this:

The Right likes to cast its leaders in the role of Churchill in 1938 – a visionary, warning the world of a gathering threat on the horizon. The US invaded Iraq because of an uncertain risk that we thought it important to guard against, spending thousands of US lives, tens/hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and around a trillion dollars so far.

Well, climate change – to some extent or another – is a far more certain threat to the world than was Iraq, and Gore is genuinely playing the role of Churchill to warn the public of the risk.

That’s worse than boring; it’s dead wrong. “Global warming” is a natural, short-run phenomenon, not a “threat” about which we can or should do anything — unlike the possibility of an oil-rich Middle East under the thumb of Islamofascists.

A boring and wrong-headed blog: lethally trivial and not even worth a glance at the RSS feed.

Bye, bye, QandO.