You Don't Say

Headline, Washington Post: "A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals."

Time for "Acid Control"

The British decided to ban guns, so people began stabbing each other. So the British decided to ban knives. Now, people are carrying around acid and throwing it in each other's faces.
The reason acid has become such a popular weapon is because it’s easier to carry than a knife — which has a higher chance of being found by law enforcement — and it’s cheap and accessible.

Last month one London acid attack victim told VICE News: “These scars are not going to disappear. I’m going to have to live with what those two individuals done, whenever I look in the mirror. Whenever I have a happy moment in my life, it’s going to be sort of scarred.”
The 'control' model doesn't get rid of the real source of the evil. It just makes evil look for another tool.


What exactly does it mean for a 'man to be safe'? Is that really something a man ought to be?

Cf. this old post on the virtue of at least older men being dangerous.

The author never defines her terms, although in the last usage she specifies that she doesn't feel "emotionally safe" with sons who take offense at the way she talks and writes about them. I presume she does feel physically safe with her children, even though she has offended them. If you can offend someone and embarrass them publicly and still be physically safe with them, that's pretty safe. I'm not sure it's plausible to suggest that even a son, let alone a "man" of any other sort, has a duty to protect your emotions -- especially not while they feel like you are mistreating them. That quality is known as "standing up for one's self," and it used to be thought a quality worthy of a man.

Indeed many years ago, I read a book called Iron John that interpreted an old Germanic myth as a set of lessons on how to become a man. One part of that book that struck me as funny was a part where Iron John has to steal a key from his mother in order to attain manhood. I thought it was odd because stealing is wrong, and how could it be a necessary part of attaining manhood to engage in something like theft? But over time I came to see what the author meant: to become a man and not a boy, it is necessary to take back something that your mother has long regarded as properly her own, an authority she has laid claim to and exercised for a long time for what she believes is your own good. The boy, as a youth becoming a man, has to lay claim to that whether she likes it or not. He has to take the key, and if she will not give it, then he must steal it or rob her of it. But it turns out that this is not wrong, because the key is his by right. She has held it in trust, and sometimes some mothers will try to hold it too long.

To claim the young men are not safe because they stole the key is to fail to understand. It is to fail to understand that they had the right, and it is to fail to understand that 'safe' is not what men are meant to be. Men, like ships, are meant for something else.

UPDATE: Valerie's comment reminded me of a thing I'd seen recently. To ask if men should be safe implies asking if women should be. I doubt that anyone has ever suggested it, not in the same sense of "safe." Indeed, there are many who value women in part because they are dangerous.

The Regulatory Instinct

Hunters attained a small victory in avoiding having sound-boosting aids classified as medical devices and made prescription-only.
The Democrats’ pieces of legislation would force hearing amplifying devices created for hunters or recreational bird watchers, for example, to be regulated by the federal government, so sound amplification products (PSAP) for recreational purposes would have to be regulated like present medically prescribed hearing devices.
Understand that what these things are is nothing more than a microphone, a set of protective earmuffs, and a speaker wired to the microphone through a rheostat that allows you to boost sound to levels you find helpful. The headset typically already controls maximum volume because these things double as hearing protection for hunters. Thus, there's no danger of hearing loss -- certainly less from a stereo system for music. The high-decibel gunshot will be tamped down to the same levels as everything else.

There is no reason why the government or any doctor needs to be in between you and your ability to buy any of this technology. It's just part of that impulse to regulate everything we do.

There's way too much of this that goes on. People with sleep apnea have to pay thousands of dollars to get a diagnosis so that they can buy breathing machines that are nothing more than a plastic tube/mask assembly, a fan, a filter, and a control board. In the old days you might have built one out of parts from Radio Shack plus a medical supply store. Now it's Rx-only, which means it's expensive and unavailable to many who could benefit from it.

And then we hear that "health care is too expensive!", so we need -- of course -- more government regulation!

No more of this nonsense.

"If P Then Q" does not imply "If Not P Then Not Q"

Just because bad politics can drive you to drink does not mean that you can fix politics by stopping the drinking.
Over 73 percent of Democrats would give up alcohol for the rest of their life if it meant President Trump would be impeached tomorrow, according to a survey released on Thursday by a drug and alcohol rehabilitation group.

Only 17 percent of Republicans would give up alcohol for Trump’s impeachment. The poll also found that nearly 31 percent of Republicans would give up drinking if it meant the media stopped writing negative things about President Trump.
Sorry. You can give up drinking if you want, and it might improve your health outcomes -- or it might not. But it's not going to do anything to change your political environment.

UPDATE: By the way, if you're trying to understand health outcomes from drinking, this article is quite helpful.
So at what level does alcohol consumption become equally as dangerous as alcohol abstinence? It appears that the cut off point is somewhere between 20 and 40 US standard drinks per week. We will split the difference and say that it probably lies at around 30 US standard drinks (420 grams of ethanol) per week, a far cry from the puritanical US government limits of 7 for women and 14 for men. Current government limits may have far more to do with the politics of the addiction treatment lobby than any relation to scientific evidence.
That recommendation happens to line up with an earlier study out of Australia, which occasioned a poem.

Opioids and the Government

Even Vox has noticed -- those opioids are coming from the government's plans.

We've talked about this before. The Federal Government could largely end the opioid crisis by refusing to continue paying for it.

I'm Sure This Will Work Out Great

When we talk about morality, we talk about reason, about the experience of pleasure or pain, and about the virtues. People who make robots appear to think that that morality comes down to a combination of culture and guilt.
Rosa views AI as a child, a blank slate onto which basic values can be inscribed, and which will, in time, be able to apply those principles in unforeseen scenarios. The logic is sound. Humans acquire an intuitive sense of what’s ethically acceptable by watching how others behave (albeit with the danger that we may learn bad behaviour when presented with the wrong role models).

GoodAI polices the acquisition of values by providing a digital mentor, and then slowly ramps up the complexity of situations in which the AI must make decisions. Parents don’t just let their children wander into a road, Rosa argues. Instead they introduce them to traffic slowly. “In the same way we expose the AI to increasingly complex environments where it can build upon previously learned knowledge and receive feedback from our team.”...

To help robots and their creators navigate such questions on the battlefield, Arkin has been working on a model that differs from that of GoodAI. The “ethical adapter”, as it’s known, seeks to simulate human emotions, rather than emulate human behaviour, in order to help robots to learn from their mistakes. His system allows a robot to experience something similar to human guilt. “Guilt is a mechanism that discourages us from repeating a particular behaviour,” he explains. It is, therefore, a useful learning tool, not only in humans, but also in robots.

“Imagine an agent is in the field and conducts a battle damage assessment both before and after firing a weapon,” explains Arkin. “If the battle damage has been exceeded by a significant proportion, the agent experiences something analogous to guilt.” The sense of guilt increases each time, for example, there’s more collateral damage than was expected. “At a certain threshold the agent will stop using a particular weapon system. Then, beyond that, it will stop using weapons systems altogether.”
I'm sure you'll have a lot of success getting that military contract you're after with a robot that will teach itself to stop using its weapons systems in the middle of combat.

There seems to be a complete lack of awareness that morality isn't just what you're taught, plus what you feel. The closest thing they get to admitting that moral principles exist is to run them down as a source of moral norms, because they don't change with the culture. Moral relativity isn't just the assumption, it's assumed to be morally good.

If that's true, of course, then there's at least one thing that is good in and of itself. What makes it good? When you AI makers start to grapple with that question, you'll begin to figure out why the games you're playing are not adequate.

David Brooks Gets One Right

...and in the process, of course, he comes in for ruthless mockery from those who want to defend the barriers he is trying to break down.

Taken out of context, his remarks about the discomfort of a high-school-educated friend with European sandwiches sound pretentious. But in context, it should be obvious that he's trying to solve the problem represented by this kind of pretentiousness. He's trying to open a road for ordinary Americans to cross those social barriers. I quote at length to give that context.
I was braced by Reeves’s book, but after speaking with him a few times about it, I’ve come to think the structural barriers he emphasizes are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.” ...

To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality....

Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else. We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible.
That's all correct. This comes after the earlier parts of the column on breaking down regulatory burdens in zoning laws (to make it easier for poorer Americans to live in better school districts), and on breaking down barriers in higher education that make it harder for poorer Americans to attain success there. Normally, when a left-leaning guy like Brooks calls attention to a problem, it's to propose a government program. Here, he's gone as far as suggesting the heresy of stripping layers of government away.

He's also right that many Americans -- I think of my father, who was college educated in East Tennessee -- would be totally uncomfortable in that restaurant, and would find the offer to go for Mexican a huge relief. And yet Mexican food is just as loaded with foreign terminology as French or Italian food. The word "capicollo" is no more impenetrable than the word "chimichanga." The point isn't that folks are xenophobic or incapable of appreciating foreign foods.

The point is about raising barriers designed to keep ordinary people out. Once the ordinary guy learns to order a "croque-monsieur" instead of a "grilled ham and cheese sandwich," they'll change the game and start offering only something else. And you'll learn about this code change if you listen to all the right radio programs on NPR, or the right podcasts, or have the right social groups to walk you through them. The barrier stays up, and the unwelcome remain not welcome.

I Have Read That This Works Wonders

Saying the strategy was certain to attract the most eligible men of the highest repute, relationship experts recommended Friday that single women frustrated with their current romantic options try bathing in an open stream until the ideal suitor glimpses them through the trees.... [P]rofessional dating coach Priscilla Adams [added] that women should choose a location with a small waterfall cascading lightly into a natural bathing pool, where a man out riding his horse or returning from a distant war might catch sight of them from the stream’s wooded banks.

Will Trump Kill the Bourbon Boom?

If President Trump follows through on his threat to impose tariffs on steel imports, expect to see an immediate response from the European Union — including retaliatory tariffs on, of all things, bourbon. 
Still, why bourbon? Trade officials aren’t stupid; when they retaliate, they hit where it hurts — which is not always obvious. 
Consider a recent trade battle between the United States and the European Union. In 2009 Washington imposed a 300 percent tariff on Roquefort cheese to force Brussels to lift a ban on American beef. Roquefort cheese may not be a strategic European industry, but it’s the lifeblood of many French villages, and the tariff was among the reasons the union eased the ban. 
Kentucky and Tennessee face similar financial burdens if trade talks go south and countries target American distilled spirits. Thanks to the $1 billion in spirits that America now exports, over the next six years Kentucky distilleries will invest more than $1 billion in expansions and new facilities.
It’s not just about tariffs. When you’re selling “America” abroad, you need deals in place to make sure no one else is copying the brand. But absent trade agreements, other countries are free to sell their own versions of American products. Like Champagne and cognac, bourbon’s name protection relies largely on trade deals that set standards and definitions; without them, foreign distillers are surely tempted to slap “bourbon” on anything they want.
Clearly, Trump is a threat to the republic that must be taken seriously. (Yes, sarcasm.)

This article is interesting because it highlights some of the intricacies of international trade today. On the other hand, there is a faint whiff of "Trump supporters are voting against their own interests" here as well, though maybe not. The author is Fred Minnick, author of “Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey,” so its in his wheelhouse, I suppose.

In Praise of Sir Gawain

An Arthurian discussion.

Chief Justice Roberts: I Wish You Injustice

And just to make sure we got his wish, he rewrote Obamacare to save it -- twice!

Oh, maybe that isn't what he meant.
"Now, the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you," Roberts said. "I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty."
Well, wish fulfilled, either way.

Hardship can build virtue, but it doesn't necessarily do so. Suffering injustice might make you more likely to value justice, or it might make you more likely to decide that a rigged game is meant to be cheated.



The Righteous Judgment Of....

Richard Fernandez:
Within its bubble the Left's control of culture is so absolute they can watch 1984 without realizing it's about them....

The search is on for the regicide.

The only thing one can be sure of is that the Republican Party didn't cause it; nor did their tame and feeble publications. In fact, not even publications like Breitbart, valiant though their efforts were, can claim credit. Trump couldn't have done it either, since the proud tower that Gerlenter describes would have been impervious to the mere touch of the orange-hued real estate mogul without some other factor in play.

Yet most of us know who did it, though we hesitate to name the obvious suspect. The Left, even in its downfall, has stilled our tongues. The word comes to the edge of our lips before we choke it back, fearful even now of the ridicule and abuse we will get should we blurt it. That word is God. God killed the Left. Of course one could legitimately use some other term. "Reality," "consequences," the "laws of nature," "economics," even "truth" will do.
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The thesis was "liberalism," by which I mean the classical liberalism that was America's founding. The antithesis was communism. The synthesis was what Walter Mead calls "the Blue Model," which dominated for so long as Fernandez notes.

But the synthesis is just a new thesis; a new antithesis arises. Even for the Marxist, Hegel is hiding in the background. There is never an end of history.

But it's really the next synthesis that we're looking for.