Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best of November 2006

First off the mark informing you that the village scenes in Borat were not Kazakh, but Romanian.

When the experts wing it, and talk about matters related to their research but not (visibly) affecting the results, they sound just like everyone else, just with better vocabulary. They have the same biases or prejudices as the public as a whole. In this case, they lean left.

Joy in worship. Rather appropriate to run this today. Being deeply New England Congregationalist and Swedish Lutheran by heritage, I have never been much of an enthusiast in worship anyway, except that I like to hoom-boom the bass notes of introductions and preludes or drum with my fingers on the pew in front of me. Not having exciting, moving worship is fairly normal for me. Others may look at pentecostals with mild to intense disdain or envy. I am merely puzzled. (This post was more interesting for the comments).

A link to an excellent article by an ex-jihadist in Canada.

The Two-Year Delay. One of my most important concepts for understanding political effects on the economy. Add in that Congress has more influence on same than the president, and you can cut away an enormous amount of crap that people try to trick you with to elect their favorites and affect policy.

The piece on evolutionary psychology was serious, but I had fun with this.
Thus, getting all the guys in C Building at Lakeview Apartments and raiding one of the buildings over at Elmwood Estates for cattle and wives (while the guys in B Building protect our stash of cattle and wives) is what we are bred for, but is now officially discouraged, because it screws up people’s leases and deposit refunds.

Muslims and Women. One of my frequent soapboxes over at Dr. Sanity’s is that societies which devalue women produce narcissistic young men, who are outraged at the merest perceived slight. It is not good for a young man to pass his mother in status at a young age.

Altruistic punishment and class envy. A touch of class envy, or something quite like it, may be hardwired into humans. Most societies have cues which discourage conspicuous displays of superiority.

A review of Arthur Brooks' Who Really Cares. The main force of the book is twofold: demonstrating that in refutation of the stereotype, conservatives are much more generous than liberals; and discovering why is this? From the introduction through the entire first chapter, assertions leap off every page, begging to be shouted from the housetops. The common myth has it backwards. Conservatives give more by any measure: give more money to both religious and secular causes; give more time, give more blood, give more informal gifts. This is not because they have more money – they have 6% less.

Relative Vs. Absolute Poverty. Rather than attacking from the usual angle of theories of governance, I’d like to stick with the tribal, evolutionary psychological, decision-making interpretations I’ve been fond of lately. Receiving less than the perceived average of the tribe’s resources may set off enormous warning signals in our primitive selves. Until about 1800, few humans experienced any sustained abundance. We may not be well wired for saying to ourselves “looks like my family is going to have enough for a long time - I can relax.” Finding oases of calm in deserts of anxiety may be the default condition for humanity. In that context, receiving less than others may be interpreted as the first step toward receiving nothing.

Hoist On My Own Petard. In which I step back from a previous argument - at least a little.
I am a cradle A&H member, and I used this knowledge, this penetrating of its values into my bones, to make enormous generalizations about it. I know these people, was my refrain. I am one of them. Wasn’t I, then, making exactly the same kind of argument that I had criticized john b chilton for?

Well, hmm. Things look different when you do that, don’t they? I think I now have a little better understanding of his argument, and its strengths, and some weaknesses of my own previous argument.

Those brought up in a group understand its meaning in their generation at a deep level. We are likely to understand the generation immediately preceding us as well, as parts of it went into our formation. The generation following our own, not so much.

1 comment:

karrde said...

That relative-vs.-absolute-poverty post is insightful.

To restate part of the problem in my own words:

A time when most people lived under a day-to-day (more accurately season-to-season) uncertainty about their source of food is not in living memory anymore. At least, not in the U.S.

Laura Ingalls Wilder might have known that struggle.

And the generation that grew up in the Depression was full of people who knew "somebody" who had a hard time putting food on the table.

Johnny Cash made those stories personal with Busted, and How High is the Water Momma?.

It is a memory that Americans have almost lost. That loss is a good thing (our poor don't starve), and a bad thing (we are disconnected from the reality that has shaped millennia of habits, lore, culture, and instinct).

I think it would be a very good thin if the gatekeepers of our culture would occasionally remind us of how well-fed we are.