Learning from failure

I'm looking forward to reading a new Powerline-recommended book by John Tamny, "They're Both Wrong," which promises to poke holes in conventional wisdom on both sides of the political aisle.  I had to stop while still in the Foreword to quote from John Tierney, who argues that what distinguishes capitalists from bureaucrats is that they're punished for failure and therefore learn from it:
As Tamny explains, the populist revolts in the United States and other countries are not driven by a disdain for science or learning. The populists don't object to expertise in itself, but rather to the mistakes that conceited experts keep foisting on the public.... Tamny keenly appreciates the original definition of "conventional wisdom," John Kenneth Galbraith's term for beliefs that are popular not because they're correct, but because they're comfortable--and comfortable for the right people in power.

"Cuba without the sun"

Conrad Black is confident that British voters don't really want to make their political and economic life even drearier.
Unless the British voters plumb a new depth in perversity, Mr. Johnson should win a sizable majority, little of the London financial industry will depart, and there will be a thunderous in-rush of capital investment to celebrate Britain’s increasing proximity to the United States and reconfirmation as a low-tax country, especially the rejection of the Labor Party’s outright advocacy of widespread nationalization of industry, sharply higher taxes in upper personal income brackets, increased powers to organized labour, and wild fiscal incontinence.

Welcome Back, Cassandra

I was amused to see her getting away with just slipping back into the comments here, but it's a sufficiently momentous event that it deserves recognition. Our old friend has decided to spend some time with us, much to my great happiness. Give her an appropriate welcome.

The hits keep on coming

Ace of Spades HQ notes that Christopher Steele has a new hoax out.

Pssh... Okay, Boomer.

Just read what this hateful, racist, transphobic jerk dared to say about woke culture!

Honoring Rick Rescorla

I was pleased to see this.

If only

You Owe Us Eight Bucks. We'll Take Your Home Instead.

The state government of Michigan commits a tremendous moral wrong, but not a crime.

The Worst Mistake

If the American Revolution devastated the globe, as per the book reviewed a few days ago, it wasn't the first time: civilization itself was the first, and worst, mistake.
All this cave painting, migrating, and repainting of newly found caves came to an end roughly twelve thousand years ago, with what has been applauded as the “Neolithic Revolution.” Lacking pack animals and perhaps tired of walking, humans began to settle down in villages and eventually walled cities; they invented agriculture and domesticated many of the wild animals whose ancestors had figured so prominently in cave art. They learned to weave, brew beer, smelt ore, and craft ever-sharper blades.

But whatever comforts sedentism brought came at a terrible price: property, in the form of stored grain and edible herds, segmented societies into classes—a process anthropologists prudently term “social stratification”—and seduced humans into warfare. War led to the institution of slavery, especially for the women of the defeated side (defeated males were usually slaughtered) and stamped the entire female gender with the stigma attached to concubines and domestic servants. Men did better, at least a few of them, with the most outstanding commanders rising to the status of kings and eventually emperors. Wherever sedentism and agriculture took hold, from China to South and Central America, coercion by the powerful replaced cooperation among equals. In Jared Diamond’s blunt assessment, the Neolithic Revolution was “the worst mistake in the history of the human race.”
Her thesis about the cave paintings, by the way, is that they were admirations of beings much more powerful than humans were at that time. Humans posed no threats to bison and lions, so they adored them from afar, effacing themselves but drawing the megafauna with loving attention. It was the attitude of 'meat that knows it is meat,' a kind of humility to which she would like humanity to return.

Ranger Up: "If Not Us, Who?"

Good boy

The Sonoran murders were unspeakable, but this story deserves our attention.

The Life Of An Agent (Az ügynök élete)

Grim's post with a link to a piece about a KGB training manual reminded me to share with you all something I came across in Budapest this past Summer at Memento Park, where many of the Soviet era statues and monuments were moved for display.  They also have a recreated barrack from an internment camp (which was in August, appropriately unbearably hot), within which they have exhibited a brief history of the Communist era in Hungary, along with the history of the park itself, and a small theater room running the movie "The Life of an Agent" on a loop.  It's an interesting film.  It seems to be a compilation of training film clips from various periods in the communist era, for the AVH (Pre 1956) and the Interior Ministry (After the '56 revolution).  It's kind of a fun, yet sobering reminder of how a totalitarian society operates.  Of course, today there's no need for such an apparatus. We have social media and digital traces for governments to surveil us, if they like.  Enjoy.

Feasting Abroad

Our friend and Chicago Boyz blogger David Foster joined me today at Hill Country Barbecue, D.C. This is my favorite restaurant in the city. Bands traveling from the Austin area up to New York City to perform often stop in and play on the way up or the way back, so there are great live music performances in the evenings on a regular basis. The meat is fantastic, and when there isn't live music there's still pretty good music on the sound system.

Plus, it's one of the few places in D.C. that has made a point of refusing to unseat people for their political views, so it's an authentically American joint.

We had a good meal and conversation. I don't think he'll contradict me in recommending the place to any of you who pass through town.

Bee Stung ...

I think I've heard it said in a movie that every con has a mark, and if you don't know who the mark is, it's you. Or maybe it was the sucker in a poker game. Either way.

I read the article "Libs Triggered After Ben Shapiro LITERALLY STEAMROLLS A Bunch Of SNOWFLAKE College Students" at the nation's paper of record and, though I laughed, couldn't figure out who the target of their parody was. Remembering those sage words of advice from a movie I think I saw once, I've decided it has to be me.

Graphs like this:

"Often, [Shapiro] philosophically steamrolls them, crushing them with facts and logic. But this time, he literally steamrolled them with a 15,000-pound road roller. That's right: Shapiro rented a giant steamroller and went to town!

"Go Shappy! Go Shappy!"

could have been stolen right from my mind! I would absolutely cheer like that if Shapiro went after a triggered snowflake with a steamroller. There are more examples, but it would be too creepy to quote them all.

The only question now is -- Is the Babylon Bee reading my mind or planting the thoughts there?

The USSR Leads the World in Steel Production

... and other ways Lies Don't Work, otherwise known as "it's really not a good idea to silence the feedback signal," from Sarah Hoyt:
Well, now I think about it, most feedback is annoying.
Economics is full of it — as are other economic systems — and humans find it so annoying they have devised various means of shutting it down, and then become puzzled and do crazy stuff when the system goes out of control.

People Learned About Her Record as a Prosecutor?

Politico ponders a question: How did Kamala Harris go from 'the female Obama' to fifth place?

I mean, for me it was her record as a prosecutor. You want to take a former prosecutor who held back exculpatory information even in death row cases, and put her in charge of the secret police? Thanks but no thanks.
Harris undermined her national introduction with costly flubs on health care, feeding a critique that she lacks a strong ideological core and plays to opinion polls and the desires of rich donors. She was vague or noncommittal on question after question from voters at campaign stops. She leaned on verbal crutches instead of hammering her main points in high-profile TV moments. The deliberate, evidence-intensive way she arrives at decisions—one of her potential strengths in a matchup with Trump—often made her look wobbly and unprepared.

Harris today has another explanation for her inability to get voters to see her as the next president: what she’s calling the “donkey in the room.” Before a few hundred people on a chilly October night in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny, surrounded by hay bales and framed by the Iowa flag, she wondered aloud: “Is America ready for that? Are they ready for a woman of color to be president?
So nothing about "she proved to be a tyrant who couldn't be trusted with power"? I'm pretty sure she got explicitly dinged for that in the debates by Tulsi Gabbard. Not even a mention? (When the piece gets to her prosecutorial record, it describes her as "cautious," and accuses Tulsi of 'lacking context' or being 'misleading.')

"Go East! Go East!"

I'm still ruminating about the level of panic I detected in an old friend when we caught up with each other at a reunion of four former colleagues a couple of weeks ago.  She was genuinely distressed to hear I could possibly be a Trump supporter, and obviously also quite seriously alarmed by talk of the end of the world from climate change.  This is an intelligent, well-educated, strong-minded woman.  My own distress stems from how easy it seems to be for our own friends, neighbors, and relatives to go so far off the deep end.

For a tale of irrational panic, it's hard to beat James Thurber's account in "My Life and Hard Times" of the Great Easter Flood of 1913, in which the residents of Columbus, Ohio, somehow got the idea an upstream dam had failed, releasing floodwaters that were about to engulf them.  Thousands of people hit the streets and stampeded.  We're only superficially rational in a pinch.

I ran across this reference in the comments section to an Althouse piece about anti-Trumpers who find the prospect of his second term "literally unthinkable."  "Who are these people," some of them wondered, "who support Trump?"  One commenter mused, "Oh, I don't know, a bunch of deplorables, about 60M, give or take."  He thought it was odd so many anti-Trumpers never seemed to have met one, there being, you know, quite a few around.  Another commenter suggested that the right response on the morning after Election Day 2020 would be to run outside shouting "Go East! Go East!" in the manner of the terrified residents of 1913 Columbus.

While we're waiting for the collapse of civilization, here are two enchanting images.  First, Kurt Suzuki in a MAGA hat at the prow of the Titanic shouting "I'm King of the World!" with the Racist-Homophobe-in-Chief embracing him fondly.

I assume Mr. Suzuki is looking to be traded to a team in flyover country.  Speaking of which, here is a gem from Twitter:  a small storm of derision triggered by some poor schmuck who posted a snapshot aerial view of farmland, with the puzzled comment that it was pretty, but he had no idea why it looked all patchworky and rectangular like that--thus demonstrating once and for all why we have the Electoral College.  One commenter suggested the strange look was because flyover country doesn't get broadband reception and is permanently pixilated.  Another mourned the necessity to chop up the ground like that just to grow food, instead of producing it in grocery stores the way they did in her blue-model city.

A Field Guide to Prospective Traitors

Via Wretchard, a KGB manual for identifying those likely to turn. Disaffected officials are the big target: "losers who think they are winners because they hang on to important positions."

"The Evil Repercussions of the American Revolution"

The NYT reviews a book subtitled How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe. Although the reviewer calls the piece "enthralling," he does admit that there is a reliance on a kind of 'butterfly effect' that readers might find unconvincing. By the conclusion there is simply not a conviction in the case. The reviewer writes:
This is a pity. Having proposed such an audacious thesis, and collected a lot of interesting but not self-evidently cohesive or decisive information, the book needs to draw its ideas together and make its case that the American Revolution devastated the globe. As it is, though much of the material here is lively, enjoyable and compelling, the thesis is not persuasive.
Well, maybe the next time. We'll keep trying the case until we get the right result. That's how things are done, right?

If property is theft, theft is woke

The Atlantic takes a story about neighbors collaborating with surveillance devices, a "Nextdoor" neighborhood website, and cooperation with the police to stop a string of petty doorstep thefts, and turns it into an exposé of plutocratic racism in San Franscisco.  The "porch pirate" is amazed that society got it together to stop her, as frankly am I.  The writer clearly thinks we should concentrate on large financial frauds and let the minor stuff go, because the offender doesn't have a nice life, what with the drug addiction and all, so what's she supposed to do but steal?  Society has left her few options.  "Who is she supposed to steal from, if not from us?"

We used to own the Mammoth Megaphone!

Robert Reich is in anguish over how somebody ejected his beloved media from its gatekeeper seat.  While you weren't paying attention, Facebook and Twitter became uncontested conduits for Trump's lies to 65 million people.  Stop laughing.  It's serious business!  Even the evil Fox News reaches only a few million daily.  I blame myself.  I had no idea Facebook and Twitter were in the bag for conservatives.
Antitrust should be used against Facebook and Twitter. They should be broken up.
So instead of two mammoth megaphones trumpeting Trump’s lies, or those of any similarly truth-challenged successor, the public will have more diverse sources of information, some of which will expose the lies.
Now, this isn't a bad idea in itself. It's just a couple of decades late, and backwards. No doubt some self-knowledge will creep into Reich's psyche soon.  Any day now he could remember both the text and the rationale of the First Amendment.

Who does he think he is?

Vindman is a little concerned. WaPo reports somberly that
he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy....
What's next? An attempt by the guy in the Oval Office to exercise the veto power? When will the Resistance wake up to this cancer on the Republic?

Nacho candidate

From the Bee:
U.S.—Presidential candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has announced he is dropping out of the presidential race so that he can spend more time taking guns away from his family. “I’ve been so focused on grabbing the guns of strangers,” O’Rourke told the press, “that I’ve neglected taking away the guns of those closest to me.”