Sunday, February 05, 2023

Back to Dating Apps again.

I am reading and listening to Rob Henderson's All The Single Ladies, and Razib Khan interviewing Bryan Caplan about open borders, with starts with a long discussion about feminism, for some reason.  (Caplan also writes about IQ, why schools are useless, and selfish reasons to have more children, so he's right up my alley.) So here I am reading about dating apps again. I did a whole series on them and on the extended topic of intrasexual competition in the fall, based on...well, based on lots of things, but I should add in the work of Dr. Tania Reynolds, plus the fact that Son #5 still has to deal with dating apps. 


The dating market for women is getting tougher. In part, this is because fewer men are attending universities. Why would male enrollment in higher education matter for women? Because women, on average, prefer educated men.

Razib (to Caplan)

So I guess the question some people would make is, why do women have Why do women have to make that sacrifice as opposed to men?
Caplan (in response, emphasis mine) 
And I'm saying they don't, if you want to look around for a guy that's would rather focus on kids and not on his career. There's plenty guys like out like that out there. There's not many successful women that are interested in those guys. So I mean, you get I would say, this is supply and demand all over again, where, if you, like, if you are a woman who wants that, then the market, it's available. But in fact, there's just not much much of that much demand for it.

I think that's it exactly. Women say that's what they want, but then somehow, they don't. I think Anne Shirley's friend Diana in Anne of Green Gables is close to the mark here Diana hasn’t quite made up her mind though, because she thinks perhaps it would be nobler to marry some wild, dashing, wicked young man and reform him. Yes, the ambitious women want to find an ambitious, challenging, and (gulp) masculine man but reform him into something more tame. In the same way that the elite schools skim off the best students and then start making status and moral rules for the rest of the culture WRT women, race, sexual choice, and personal economics, the most talented elite women skim off the most intelligent and ambitious men who look like they could possibly be at least somewhat tamed, so that they get their masculine one. Then they make rules for the other men and women, who are now, quite frankly, screwed over.

African-American AP Test

This is not usually a topic of mine, but I generally like Ilya Shapiro, who applauds the changes. I extract the same sections that Ann Althouse did.

 "... Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wouldn’t have objected and the proposal wouldn’t have become national news. But the College Board, which designs and administers AP classes and exams, felt the need to wave a red flag by including such 'topics' as intersectionality, queer studies and Black Lives Matter in what should have ostensibly been a high-concept history class.... [I]f you’re... going to have an AP African American Studies course, what would you put in it? Probably what can now be found in the revised framework, with units on (1) early African societies, (2) the slave trade and abolition, (3) Reconstruction and black codes, and (4) the civil rights movement and modern black culture. You don’t need an education doctorate to recognize that you shouldn’t give trendy topics like 'intersectionality and activism' and 'the reparations movement' as much space as weighty aspects of the American experience like 'disenfranchisement and Jim Crow laws' and 'HBCUs and black education'—which is what the initial framework did. The original idea was surely to advance theory and ideology, not history and culture...."

He mentions that the new framework omits both Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and agrees that this is a problem.  (Especially for lawyers and politicians.)

Don't Be A Feminist

It's the title of Bryan Caplan's book.  The title is taken from the custom of using longest and most prominent essay, especially if it is arresting, but the cover gives away that it is a collection of essays about justice. Feminism is not the main topic of the book. Still...

He starts off with defining which is often boring, bur usually necessary. The preferred definition of feminist by feminists is that it means "men and women should be treated equally" or "women have rights too," and therefore all arguments are over; any opposition to the definition can be treated as opposition to basic equality.  They was even a bumper sticker to that effect a couple of decades ago.  But it's just a tactic, an attempt to win an argument without having to do anything difficult, just roll one's eyes and otherwise socially signal disapproval.

Because in strict point of fact, not only do feminists believe that men and women should be treated equally, non-feminists largely believe it as well. The numbers are very, very solid on this. The objections that "no they don't, not really, they try to smuggle in all sorts of inequalities" ignores an important reality.  They have assented to your premise, so the definition is no longer useful, if it ever was.  That men may be cheating is a different matter.

Caplan offers a defintion of how people actually use the word in everyday conversation, which linguists would tell you is always the real definition: a feminist is a person who believes that men are treated more fairly than women. That, certainly, is worth some discussion, and all manner of slyness and cheating by men can still be called out. Yet one will notice that the ground of the discussion has moved greatly.  Evidences, proofs, exposures of bad logic and ambiguous data, all these are now in play. Now the thing has to be demonstrated and alternatives refuted.

He does not insist on the definition, only offers it as an improvement on the bumper sticker. He is correct that changing from the manipulative definition does change the ground of discussion. It immediately allows the question "Is there anywhere that men are treated less fairly than women?"

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Barnes & Noble Turnaround

 I had not heard about B&N recovering and having stores one might like to go to now.  I had not heard of Ted Gioia or his substack, either, but am enjoying poking around in it.  It may make it to the sidebar soon. He is a jazz historian of many books, and the substack is music, books, and culture. He seems to have taught at Stanford's jazz studies program at some point

Friday, February 03, 2023


It is below zero here, and the wind pushes is to something like twenty below, which sounds terrible. It feels terrible. The worst I can recall is three consecutive days in 1979, when we hit lows of 21, 22, and 26 below over Christmas around sunrise. We had an infant bundled up and packed into a VW Beetle to visit relatives. You may remember the heating systems on those: hoses that ran from around the engine beneath the car up to a little vent next to one foot (left for the driver, right for the passenger) in the front, next to the clutch. And not good hoses, after five years of aging. We have hit -20 a number of years in my memory, but nothing else worse.  

After I got indoors this afternoon I had to go back out if only to check on my snowbird neighbor's house.  Heat is still on, Norm, still 56 degrees. Enjoy Venice, FL, you bastard. I didn't bother with hat or gloves or zipping up the jacket, which you can do if you are keeping your exposure under 60 seconds. But there are places you can't do that. WC will go to -48 tonight and I would not risk anything exposed in that temp for any length of time.  You might trip and your wife might be reading or doing line dancing from the computer or something and not notice.

Mt Washington Observatory, home of the worst weather in the world, just hit a new wind chill record (for them) at -106. (Now -109) Apparently the troposphere could drop below the summit tonight, meaning that MWO would be above the stratosphere. It sounds terrible.  I have no idea what that means. They are wondering if they will have a temperature record as well, just after midnight, below what happened in 1885. (-45.  They got to -47.1) I have no idea what -106 means.  It's just a number to me.  But I try the thought experiment: I know what -3 is, in complete stillness. And I know what +100 degrees is like in the summer. That's a 103 degree shift, and -106 is as far below -3 as +100 is above it.  I can't get my mind around that. I write it but have no idea of the reality. Bsking tells me the US record is Alaskan at -80, and lowest for the Lower 48 is -70 in Montana. Robert Frost claimed to have seen -62 in Franconia (and Above The Notch is a land of fantasy cold), where ridiculous claims are made. Color me suspicious, even there. The average temperature on Mars is -80.

Sidebar: The Observatory got a better naked-eye view of the comet last night than my wife did down here with binoculars.

The State of NH announced it will not be sending out rescue teams for any hikers stupid enough to try even a little bit of this (again, it is good to have a governor with a science degree). People want bragging rights, but forget that the colder it gets, the more stuff breaks. Things you were counting on working even in very cold conditions - like zippers, carabiners, even your damned boot soles - don't behave the same way.

It's just numbers at this point, and my son in Nome sees worse numbers than mine every year, so I won't update unless there is some additional story. He just headed out on snow machines to go 70 miles and hunt caribou with friends.

Update: Well accuweather said it was WC -45 during the gusts, so I gave it a shot and went outside for a minute. Yes.  That is cold, I thought.  I agree. Not exactly profound. In general the wind has been less and we are more like -25 or 30

Culture Transplant Revisited

Two months ago I blogged about Garett Jones's book The Culture Transplant: How Migrants Make the Economies They Move to a Lot Like the Ones They Left. Rob Henderson links to a review by Scott Sumner at Econolog that calls a fair bit of it into question, eventually concluding that it might be true but is definitely overstated.  "True, but overstated" seems to have been our lot for the last few years and even decade, I think. We are selling our ideas too hard. I had liked the concept of Jones's book, but I like this corrective better.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

NH State Song

The real one, that I learned at Straw School from Miss Morse, one of the circulating music teachers in the district in the 1960s. Reposted from 2012. Few of us knew it then, and I'm sure it is even fewer now.

Important New England Sports Retirement

 Remembering another sports retirement, not so long ago

Don't Move To NH

I didn't go looking for one of these, but having seen it, I feel obligated to post it. Some of these things don't matter to me and won't matter to you, but you need to know they are here. The tax issues are because we have no sales or income tax, which is a good thing.  But that means they have to find the dollars somewhere else.

Let me add that houses have some likelihood of ice dams here if they don't have enough pitch, as we learned this week. And if you do have a roof with a steep pitch that ice can come off heavy, and too fast to get away from. Ice in general is a problem, even more than snow, because we are a wet state. A fair number of states have icy roads, but we combine ours with hills. 

It's going below zero for a couple of days now. That has been slightly less bad the last couple of years, but I'm betting that's just poor memory on my part.

Jeffrey Sachs and Philippe Lemoine on Covid Response

Jeffrey D. Sachs was on the Lancet Commission for Covid-19. He is an economics professor at Columbia and is Director of the the Center for Sustainable Development, so not likely to be a conservative attack dog. He is very careful to stay in his lane and not (quite) comment on whether a lab leak was possible, even though he has been on previous epidemic commissions as well. Yet he feels he is very much in his lane to point out the evasiveness and dishonesty of the commission and other major players, as he had a front row seat. He notes the evidence that the Wuhan knew something was up and the Chinese government imposed silence as early as September 2019, and Western authorities, including American, were also hushing up those parts.  He repeatedly notes that authorities kept doubling down when they should have been allowing more discussion.  Physicist Steve Hsu, also no conservative shill, interviews him at Manifold. Transcript at the link. I was no better at prediction than anyone else in these matters, but will note that my belief that an earlier version of the virus escaped and gives us false positive readings outside of China remains in play even after listening to this account. 

Sachs goes on to relate this to secrecy in general in American government and how long this has been going on for things powerful agencies (more than the politicians, who are often just going along on their best guesses) believe would be dangerous for the public to know. He does not comment further on other Covid controversies, though he does hint just a bit.

I think I first heard Richard Hanania interviewed by Razib (might've been Tyler) and didn't like him much, thinking that he was making some of the usual cultural assumptions about conservatives that come close to being disqualifying for me. But I have very much come around on him in subsequent hearings and interviews. There are still liberals out there that I like. He is the director of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, which he started because he wanted to get out of academia despite being there for years, needing more ideological freedom. If you like that sort of thing his credentials are top shelf. He mentioned research done by Philippe Lemoine which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, on Covid responses by governments, with particular focus on the statistical analysis. Lemoine, similar to Sachs, above, takes what I believe is a very proper scientifically cautious attitude about what he reports, being very careful to stay in his lane and note at every turn the limitations of what his data is saying. Yet that eventually becomes his major point, that governments and their agencies (he focuses on UK, France, US, Sweden) were not properly cautious and pretended to a level of certainty that was impossible. He was interviewed by Institutionalized podcast (Manhattan Institute editor and Free Beacon writer are the principals there) and is sometimes so set on pointing out the limitations of studies that it gets frustrating. But I'd rather have that. 

To give you just a few of his points, he notes the strong nature/nurture comparison influencing what type of responses both individuals and governments preferred.  Those who felt there wasn't much that could be done, the virus would spread anyway favored behavior that matched that; those who thought managing was possible heavily favored managing. But both were right, both were wrong, yet everyone was quite certain about their conclusions - and he relates this back to their original assumptions. In measuring how well a restriction or a relaxing of restriction worked, the voluntary behavior of the public immediately changes the picture. When deaths rise people restrict themselves, regardless of what the mandates are. Yet they also quickly return to cultural norms, even if the data does not support it.  They will only temporarily restrict.  Then the nations or cultures with high interpersonal contact will return to that, and you will not see much difference across borders, even when the borders are closed and the mandates different.  I felt vindicated by this, having previously noted that the areas of Canada below the 47th parallel were not that different from the places across the closed US border (there were exceptions), and neighboring European countries would have similar statistics, including that the extremely low-contact Scandinavians had better numbers, while Mediterranean countries would inch bak up even after restriction.  People go back to life as usual. 

He also spent a good deal of time talking about how researchers have to make choices repeatedly in what they are going to call similar mandates or legislation versus different. Are they going to make three categories or four?  Are they going to call this level of closings the same or separate them?  We see the same in comparing state and national gun regulation. John McWhorter jokes accurately that you can enter any cocktail conversation by listening for a few minutes and then asking "But where do we draw the line?" because that's what discussion is usually about, at least superficially. 

I will note that I did not agree with Sachs or Lemoine or the interviewers entirely, but mostly thought they were very solid.

Saying The Quiet Part Out Loud

The same characteristic can look different if you gradually see it as a symptom instead or a personality trait.

I chose the Village Idiot name, but stumbled into the Assistant part.  It's funnier, and happily it also has a defensible point. I would have preferred to take the role of the boy who stated that the emperor had no clothes, stating the obvious that no one else dares to, but that is clumsy, so Village Idiot had to work instead.  The V.I. I imagined says the obvious, the quiet part out loud, which actually turns out to be quite wise. Some sort of reflection or opposite of the Wise Men of Chelm in Jewish tradition. Forced by a password mistake to take a new identity I chose AVI, which met with hearty approval for its humor.  But I also kept it because it reflects my character.  Our weaknesses are often our strengths in excess or misplaced, our virtues swollen out of proportion to become vices. If the Village Idiot points out the obvious, the Assistant still cannot quite get the hang of that and must continue the apprenticeship, because he tries to be wise and makes things too complicated.

I also had Orwell's admonition that it is difficult but important to keep the obvious firmly in mind and write accordingly. Comedians can stand or fall on how well they express what others won't say. The great thinkers of any age are often only noticing and organising what is in plain sight.

I have always fancied that I am at my best when I stick to pointing out the obvious, but this year I have come up against the uncomfortable possibility that there is a fair bit of rationalisation in this. While it is true that the unsaid sometimes does need to be said by someone, maybe sometimes not. A friend at work who also tends to make the subtext audible in many conversations was asked by her husband "Can anything just be left unsaid in this house?" A fair point.  Ouch.

Somebody needs to tell them we had this same discussion just last week.

Somebody needs to lighten the mood here.

Somebody should point out the possible risks here.

Somebody should (for example) remind this study that there are other scriptures which give a different take on the matter...and all the similar discussion points on a hundred other topics, especially the controversial ones. 

Somebody needs to encourage him in this thankless task. 

And the natural outgrowth of this are the next steps

Well if I don't tell them, who will?

Has she got anyone else in this job who will point this out to her? 

Am I the only one who dares/cares enough to actually say this?

No one seems to be picking up the ball and researching this.

And yet...

What if my dial settings are just a bit off because I'm an Aspie? That's only subtly different from "having a blunt personality type" because one is Dutch or raised in a military family or naturally impatient or whatever. Some of it could be hereditary, some of it could be environment, all of it is under some personal control. But from the inside, it feels very different if this is a symptom rather than a decision, because the decision will be based on how this seems to me, and the seeming itself may be wrong. Not horribly wrong necessarily. Not hair-trigger, just a diminished filter.

It reminds me of the Eddie Izzard bit about suffering fools gladly. And heck, someone has to post it. 

I mean, like “He doesn’t suffer fools gladly.” We go  Who does suffer fools gladly?! How often you can go,

“Hello! I’ve got a pig in me trousers!”

“Come in! Come in, you fool!

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Nobody Tells Me Anything Anymore

I missed this in 2011.  It's someone's fault, dammit.

Languages usually die out when the last speaker dies, and that is usually a person who lost their last conversational partner, often a relative, just a few years earlier. Some linguists would say that the language is officially dead when there is only one speaker, as without conversation there are features that are irrecoverable even in theory, as speakers do not notice them consciously. If you have any experience with returning to a place that had unusual features you can get a sense of this. A friend now almost 80 who learned Swedish in America from her mother and especially grandparents went to Sverige to visit and used that language in conversation as well as she was able, as did her husband, who had a similar experience.  Eventually someone laughed "You sound like an old farmer!" In the quick changes in Romania after the Revolution, radio and TV programs were no longer considered dangerous and people got cell phones.  My sons, who lived in tiny Transylvanian villages in the mid 1990s, stayed briefly in foster care and orphanages in the late 90s, and came to America in 2001 went to a wedding in a bigger city (Marghita) in 2007 and quickly found that people were chuckling at some of their vocabulary, though they were speaking their first language. A word for pants or trousers was considered particularly uproarious. Only a few old people brightened and smiled benignly at its use. 

You may know examples even in America. The use of tonic for "soft drink" was common in my childhood. I don't recall whether I used it myself - I think we were likely to say soda instead, but I knew plenty of people, not just older ones, who preferred the term. Moxie and other beverages were sold as "nerve tonics" or other medicinals* a century earlier, and carbonated beverages were common earlier here than elsewhere (as were "bubblers," which actually originated in Wisconsin) so the name took. My father's second wife, who lives on in Nabnasset, MA, still says "tonic," and she can't be the only one. There may even be a few from my generation who say it. But if you multiply these things by a thousand and throw in six or seven trades or practices with their own vocabularies that are now uncommon, you may get to see how languages die in pieces, sections, and dribbles, until there is suddenly nothing left. Thus has it always been, though it is accelerated now that the children move to the cities for jobs and schooling - more true now than ever in the past 10,000 years, I think.

But Ayapeneco, an indigenous language in Mexico did not follow that pattern to the bitter end, but added a twist, which I missed hearing about at the time. The last two speakers refuse to talk to each other. I can see my brothers and myself pretending to do that while still secretly emailing or texting each other, just for the glory of it, but these two have no need to speak together for any reason, and so don't. 

Except it seems to be a hoax.  A linguistics hoax. I have written about how to detect hoaxes before (summary: if they are too perfect) but I admit I didn't see this coming.

The nearly-extinct languages mentioned in the article:

Ter Sami (note the second term, a people we used to call "Lapplanders") The last two speakers were uncontactable or dead in 2020.

Kayardild One fluent speaker may have still been alive in 2015, but only 8 spoke it in any fashion as of 2016.

Lengilu Three native speakers as of 2000. Bye-bye.

Mabire Sorry to be so ethnocentric, but a chief named Souleyman Dabanga sounds like a humorous character by PG Wodehouse or Evelyn Waugh. The other two speakers were elderly siblings in 2001, and Dabanga now lives in another village. Not promising.

Tehuelche the last speaker died in 2019

Emine Sinmaz is not a language, as I originally assumed, but the writer of the article.

*Sponge-Headed Scienceman, who literally wrote the book on Moxie is now working on a book about the early history of soft drinks in New England - or maybe just New Hampshire.  I already know a couple of the stories about that, but will hold my fire until publication.  I wouldn't want to depress sales, ya know.

Gift Subscriptions

Substack seems to do this a lot, offering free 3-month subscriptions for subscribers to give out to others.  I now have 3 Rob Henderson ones if anyone is interested. And I still have at least one for Razib.

It's Complicated For Ken Burns

I have never watched any of Ken Burns's documentaries, even though he is my age and from NH and a young friend of mine used to deliver artisanal bread (outdoor oven) to his office regularly. I did think I might like the one about baseball, but have never gotten around to it.

Listen to Tyler Cowan interview Ken, I really liked learning that Burns has a little neon sign in his studio in Walpole that says "It's complicated."  He went on to explain that it's important to listen to many voices in history, and a documentarian has the responsibility to present these to the viewer. Just the right attitude, I say. He even had a little jab at those new college students who don't think that all points of view should be heard.

He does make strong declarations though about some things he believes are obvious about which there should be brave voices with no compromise. And every single one of those things are bog-standard elitist liberal without so much as 1% deviation.

But it's good to be open minded.

He is doing a documentary on George Washington next, and said that what most schoolchildren know about him is that he never told a lie, and chopped down a cherry tree, and threw a dollar across the Potomac, all of which aren't true.  At which point I had to wonder "what century is this man from?" Does he really think that schoolchildren now think those myths? Who would be teaching these to them? Already when I was in eighth grade we were being told they weren't true and Bob Newhart was doing comedy routines about it. Maybe in my mother's generation people believed those? But I'm not sure even of that.

It's great that people like Ken Burns are protecting us from these myths, though. We have to be ever-vigilant against misinformation because conservatives might take over the teaching of history and keep on teaching this stuff, and I'm sure there are still districts where they are quietly still teaching that George told his father "I cannot tell a lie."

Joe Biden

Adam Gilbert explains why he likes Joe Biden best of any president in his lifetime.

There's a way to post videos from twitter - Ann Althouse seems to manage it.  But I haven't figured it out yet.

City Architecture

"I sometimes fancy that every great city must have been built by night. At least, it is only at night that every part of a great city is great. All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks." GK Chesterton "The Giant" in Tremendous Trifles

Monday, January 30, 2023


Everyone thinks that their specialty is key. In my mental health career I have worked with and listened to many outraged professionals who thought their training - art therapy (not a fan), aromatherapy (not a fan), Reiki (not a fan,) - were the key.  OTOH job coaches, housing specialists, and benefits case managers (to negotiate insurance, VA, and other bureaucracies) really were underappreciated. 

When I played in a band a guy would come up and say we could really use a harmonica player.  We played no blues, BTW. My roommate was very good at innocently asking "Gee, you wouldn't happen to play the harmonica, would you?" Rinse, repeat, for saxophonists, and I swear, a girl who had played the glockenspiel in her highschool band and was looking to integrate into something. She was so adorable and plaintive that we all actually did try and think of a way... But percussionists, bassists or cellists, fiddlers, yeah you could fit them in to a lot of popular folkie styles in 1973.

So with that in mind, here is a take on the AFC Championship Game that may not have occurred to you.  Likely, it occurred only to punters and special teams coaches. But it may have been worth more yards for KC at the end than that penalty that everyone is talking about today. And this guy's Youtube channel "Isaac Punts" has lots of stuff like this.


I wrote about the Minions as an ensemble character, more important than the main characters. It put me in mind of another ensemble, where the opposite is true. The marching lineup characters are all very individual, often endearing, and each is expendable.

Bugs and Daffy are central.

Jesus Through the Centuries

A (very) few of us had a nice conversation about Orthodoxy under my post In The Dark Night.  Jaroslav Pelikan came up, and I recommend (again) his book Jesus Through the Centuries

The e-notes give a good summary - and save me time.

Each age interpreted not only the Jesus of the Gospel sources but also the images of Jesus bequeathed by earlier ages, sometimes as a reaction against those images. For example, the Romantic era’s aesthetic response to Jesus was a reaction against the “common sense” Jesus of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. The Enlightenment itself had reacted against the medieval preoccupation with the supernatural in religion; a widespread eighteenth century view was that authentic miracles were not needed to validate a natural religion based on good sense.

Every century has drawn from Jesus and his sayings the answers it requires to its own unique questions about the nature of existence. Pelikan observes, “The way any particular age has pictured Jesus is often a key to the genius of that age.” However, implicit in Pelikan’s view, because the interpretation of Jesus at any point in the Christian era has been drawn from one single source—the portraits of him in the Gospels, drawn in turn from oral tradition passed down by those who had known him—Jesus is capacious enough to answer the deepest questions of all ages.

Armed with that, you can fill in the chronological eras of the Church from the list for your own entertainment. You will find some characterisations of Jesus endearing or important, while others will make you want to go back in time and slap a few intellectuals and artists around.
Table of Contents:
  • The good, the true, the beautiful
  • The rabbi
  • The turning point of history
  • The light of the gentiles
  • The king of kings
  • The cosmic Christ
  • The son of man
  • The true image
  • Christ crucified
  • The monk who rules the world
  • The bridegroom of the soul
  • The divine and human model
  • The universal man
  • The mirror of the eternal
  • The prince of peace
  • The teacher of common sense
  • The poet of the spirit
  • The liberator
  • The man who belongs to the world.

Tone, Emojis, Writing

- just think of the range of meanings that a simple "Yeah right" can have, depending on intonation. This is so central to our speaking that it's inevitable absence on the page is something we need to make up for. It's one of the reasons in writing why we need to choose our words carefully and unambiguously, and also why we use punctuation, italics and, these days, emoticons and emojis. (Other reasons why we need all this in writing include the absence of body language and the impossibility of checking whether the person addressed is understanding us.) Gaston Durren, BABEL

I have said - repeatedly these last few years - that I am not good at tone on the internet, always in response to someone I have have misunderstood or who has misunderstood me. There was a final straw moment that got me off Facebook.

I don't mean it, though. I think I am pretty good at capturing tone in internet writing, choosing words carefully and gradually becoming more adventurous in my punctuation. It's just difficult to have conversations online, and texting is worse. We don't get to be Montaigne anymore. It's the rest of you who are bad at this, I swear. 

A little goodwill goes a long way though, which may be why we are becoming more divided as we increasingly rely on social media. Blogging and having your own website is social media, after all, just more like the older methods of letter-writing, kitchen-table or pub conversation, letters-to-the-editor, and magazine reading.


 "For his time" is no longer considered a meaningful argument when discussing whether someone is racist (or -ist, -ist, -phobic, whatever). This is because it is not merely what the attitude is, but that it is not of the present. Presentism is as important as ideology, because my usual complaint about politics driven by social rather than intellectual premises still occurs. It is not just high school girls, disdaining you for not knowing what boot heights are fashionable this year, but many others, who focus on whether something is cultural appropriation or said using the exact right phrases. Those others skew urban, and formally educated, and socially obsessed, and thus settle in to left-leaning politics because that fits into their ecosystem better. So do not ask for context. There is no context since last Tuesday.

I mean, how different is this from Maureen Dowd, really?

Or (ahem) the cast of SNL?

CS Lewis: "All that is not eternal is eternally out of date."

Religious Tolerance

Nassim talks about religious differences actually being based on other cultural factors.  (Such as which way another tribe cracks its eggs, perhaps?) Very well summarised.  I have said the same about things we call religious wars, both when they occur or in retrospect.  A people decides they are going to go to war and then looks around to make sure they have top-flight excuses justifications, and religion is going to require at least some attention. Buddhists in the west are very superior about their superior nature in accepting difficulties and not wanting war, but in Sri Lanka it hasn't been the same. Not that that makes them worse, just not any better. And seven of the ten deadliest wars have been in Asia, they just don't talk about them that way.

At a trivial (but current!) level, it is similar to the guy who got the late penalty for the Bengals yesterday, which makes it look like he "lost" the game for them. It was a dumb penalty and the call was deserved. But it wasn't the worst mistake or the most important, just the one we see. Lutherans and Catholics were not actually going to war over their few doctrinal issues, like consubstantiation versus transubstantiation. Authority and money got made into doctrinal issues.

WRT the US, I have always wanted to get off whether a war is justified - other nations do lots of provocative stuff that could be legitimate justifications for war - but whether it is wise. That is harder to assess, but is usually more restrictive standard. 

BTW, NNT gets it wrong about IQ tests again, the same way he always does, easily refuted. What we call IQ is tested in many ways, whether ASVAB, Stanford-Binet, WAIS, Raven's Advance Matrices (that one's fun), WAIS, SAT/PSAT/GRE, or the GWAS vocabulary test. They have overlap, but they aren't the same, so talking about IQ as something that only measures "how well you take that test" is just nonsense. They measure g-factor. He isn't given to talking nonsense, and when you dig deeper in his writings about this you find he is giving the same imprecise criticisms that a lot of people do, even very smart ones: he knows foolish people with (probable) high IQs; other abilities get undervalued because they are less sexy and less noticed; and accepting the idea has uncomfortable personal and social consequences.

Saturday, January 28, 2023


Being with the youngest granddaughters so much, I got to see some children's movies and TV.  One afternoon it was Despicable Me II. I had seen the end of the first one a few years ago in a similar over-the-shoulder fashion. The minions are that great cartoon reality where they can get blown up, incinerated, electrocuted and have entire mountains fall on them and initially appear near-death, only to be fully recovered in the next scene.*

When this song played near the happy ending of the movie, I said out loud "that's a famous song - what is it?' because in the context of it being minions singing in their own language, plus my unfamiliarity with popular culture, I couldn't quite place it. The 11-year old didn't know but said "They're saying underwear." "I don't think so Aurora.  I think it just sounds like that." To a middle-schooler's humor, I thought to myself. Well she was right, suggesting that whoever does the minons' language also has a middle-schooler's humor.

The minions collectively, more than Gru are the main character in the movie. We miss that because no one of them rises to the level of being a main character. They are similar to the early Sesame Street and Muppet Show muppets, before Kermit rose to become a central figure on his own and a few others followed, the 101 Dalmations, or any of the Collective Sidekicks that eventually made the human stars the sidekicks. Gru does drive the plot, but he's not that funny or even that endearing without them. And he is played very, very well in these movies, both the animation and the voicing.

For me it is additionally funny to watch with these three granddaughters, because their father actually does have Gru's accent, being from Transylvania, and they parallel the three little girls in age quite closely.

*As a humorous device it goes back quite a ways, as the same thing happens in Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale." (I think.  I may be confusing two stories into one, so I'll check.)