Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Odds and ends 6/18/2014

I’ve been looking for this quote for years, and I happened across it in ESPN’s NBA Finals coverage:

“You don’t deserve anything. You just go play. You start thinking about what you deserve and what you don’t deserve and it just makes you soft.” –Gregg Popovich

That girl in biology lab doesn’t want what you can give. That literary agent doesn’t want what you can give. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “good guy” or a hard worker. Earthly rewards are given on the basis of what people who have what others want value highest.

I wrote last year:

Many good and worthy people suffer wants that cruel and dishonest people can’t imagine. In this fallen world, virtue is not rewarded so much as value.

The question of “deserving” can tie us in knots and leave us envious and resentful. A better question to ask is: What have I earned?

The best stories end with the good guys and the bad guys getting what they deserve. That almost never happens, which is why it makes for good fantasy. But when it does happen in real life, it’s wonderful. Kevin Arnovitz writes:

Another title for the Spurs confirms a bunch of optimistic beliefs about the way the world should work: process matters more than politics; people should be valued for what they can do rather than what they can’t; a meritocracy can thrive if it values the right things.

Spurs-related gem:

“To be one of these Spurs is to sacrifice the self for the team, to give over getting.” –Jonathan Abrams

When the welfare state fails, the institutions that people historically turn to in desperate times—family, church, community—won’t be there for them, because the state with a God complex destroyed them and annexed their social-material functions.

I’m reading a pretty bad sci-fi book called Arctic Rising, and was stunned to read this:

There had been protests and some strikes by international workers who ran out of their three-month stays, demanding to be treated fairly and given a chance to apply to become Greenlanders, but the Greenlanders didn’t want to become minorities in their own country. And they were First Nations peoples. They’d seen the rush to Northern Canada’s newly opened and ice-free land displace enough Inuit there. They knew history. They were nervous, and as a result, Greenland remained obstinate about the three-month stay.

The fictional Greenland would benefit economically from all the new workers, as it is still mostly an unsettled country and rich in natural resources uncovered by melting glaciers. The situation in fictional Greenland is more apropos of mass immigration than the present United States, which has no national need for foreign workers.

At Taki’s Magazine, Gavin McInnes writes a Clancy-esque short story of how the Bowe Bergdahl swap should have gone down.

Jill Filipovic is good at one thing: playing the role of “woman who’s wrong on everything.” She’s expanded that role into TV. Fast-forward to 3:20 for a delicious moment.

“Sexual orientation is a pretty new concept,” Matthew Vines says. New and completely bogus. All of us have “natural” impulses that, indulged, lead to perversion. The aspect of sexuality that matters to society is behavioral, and that is a matter of choice.

Fertility doesn’t lie. Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner reports:

Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country’s five years of slow but steady recovery.

What recovery?

By the way, there’s a negative correlation between student loan debt and family formation.

Carl’s Jr. CEO editorializes on the job market:

The bottom line on labor: Make something less expensive and businesses will use more of it. Make something more expensive and businesses will use less of it. The Congressional Budget Office has forecast a loss of 500,000 jobs should the president’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour become law.

The CBO also forecast that this increase would lift a number of people who already have jobs above the poverty threshold. For 500,000 unemployed people, however, that’s 500,000 opportunities American businesses will never create.

ObamaCare is also increasing the cost of hiring inexperienced workers. The health-care law requires that businesses with more than 50 full-time employees offer medical insurance to employees working 30 or more hours a week. The administration knows that the employer mandate will kill jobs and has twice delayed implementing it. With an election on the horizon, American businesses know that these delays were political and that the mandate’s economically damaging impact is in the pipeline, coming their way.

ObamaCare gives businesses an incentive to either eliminate entry-level jobs or keep the workers’ hours to under 30 a week. It also gives businesses a reason to reduce the hours of experienced employees to under 30 a week. These experienced employees are now working second jobs to compensate for their lost hours—resulting in fewer positions for less-experienced workers.

To get on the ladder of opportunity, America’s young people need jobs. Creating disincentives to hire them diminishes the notion that “if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.” The reality is that you can’t get ahead if you can’t find a job.

The only “science” President Obama cares about is the tripe he uses to justify statist interventions. Pretentiousness and incompetence combine to make an impenetrable idiocy. Bloomberg reports:

“The question is not whether we need to act” on climate change, Obama said. “The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed over decades, has put that question to rest. The question is whether we have the will to act before it’s too late.”


“When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it,” Obama said. “But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anyone saying the moon wasn’t there, or that it was made of cheese.”

I admit the fact of fabricated data, just as I admit the fact of the moon’s existence. Obama is the denier. He denies the fact of fabricated data. He’s the straw man who disbelieves the moon exists.

By the way, he has the gift of 50 years of hindsight and still gets it wrong. Going to the moon wasn’t worth it. It would have been worth it if we established a moon base or continued on to Mars, if we had something more than Velcro to show for it. But we lost interest in the moon in the ’70s, and now we rely on the Russians to ferry us to the space station.

Obama prepares for his photo op.

The Hill reports:

The White House will honor 10 young adults on Tuesday who came to the United States illegally and qualified for the president’s program to defer deportation actions.

Each person has qualified for the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which delays removal proceedings against them as long as they meet certain guidelines.

They will be honored as “Champions of Change,” the White House said in a statement Monday because they “serve as success stories and role models in their academic and professional spheres.”

They emigrated from Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, India, Taiwan and the Philippines, and many of them work in professions related to immigration policy or have helped launch initiatives that promote reform.

In 2012, President Obama created the program through an executive order, which defers any action on the status of people who came to the U.S. illegally as children for two years and can be renewed. It doesn’t provide any legal status.

People who qualify include those who came to the U.S. before turning 16, resided in the U.S. continuously since 2007 and people who are either currently in school, have graduated or received a certificate of completion for high school or were honorably discharged from the military.

Program recipients also cannot have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors.

So, to qualify as a “champion,” you need to illegally immigrate to America, enroll in free school, receive a free diploma, and be convicted of breaking the law only twice.

I took this interesting quiz for both Maryland, my old stomping grounds, and Texas. The best places for me ideologically in those states are Accident, Maryland, in the secessionist half of that state, and Doss, Texas. Both are real small towns. I reversed my responses to the prompts and received Takoma Park, Maryland, outside D.C., and Elsa, Texas, in the Valley, as presumably the worst places for me.

Out of curiosity, I took the test again for Maryland, this time aligning my religious observance with what it was during the time I lived in Maryland: none. The best place for me then was Little Orleans, and the worst was Mitchellville. Interesting thing about Little Orleans: I hiked in the area along Fifteenmile Creek in March 2012. It was a fun hike involving creek fords, steep hills, the Potomac River, ticks, and snakes. In the aerial photo above, you can see Long Pond as a dark blue gash in the hills north of the Potomac. Below are some pictures I took on that hike.

Communist goals, excerpted from the 1963 Congressional record:

  1. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

  2. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

  3. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

  4. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

  5. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

  6. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

  7. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

I would say they succeeded.

Notice the disagreement is not over belief, but whether belief should inform policy. What makes the Republican Party so untrustworthy is the dissonance between belief and policy. Is marriage what it is, or isn’t it?

The Washington Times reports the Nevada GOP is going full libertarian:

“The removal of two social issues from our platform does not mean that ‘we’ as individual people are ‘for’ gay marriage or ‘for’ abortion,” the email said. “The removal of these planks recognizes the inappropriateness of the existence of these planks in our platform in the first place.”

“We disagree with Committeewoman McLarty where she said ‘They are symptoms of the infiltration of the Republican Party by those who really want to destroy it,’ “ it said.

The delegation also took issue with Mrs. McLarty, an evangelical Protestant and staunch opponent of abortion, calling its action an “attack on God and family.”

“We are insulted by this accusation. Most of our delegates have deep spiritual beliefs,” the Nevada email said.

Grass-roots Republicans themselves are divided over whether abortion should be banned nationally by a constitutional amendment or whether it’s a matter of states’ discretion.

The Texas GOP, I’m relieved to say, is headed in a more promising direction.

C. S. Lewis on morality:

Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonising the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for: what course the whole fleet ought to be on: what tune the conductor of the band wants it to play.

You may have noticed that modern people are nearly always thinking about the first thing and forgetting the other two. When people say in the newspapers that we are striving for Christian moral standards, they usually mean that we are striving for kindness and fair play between nations, and classes, and individuals; that is, they are thinking only of the first thing. When a man says about something he wants to do, “It can’t be wrong because it doesn’t do anyone else any harm,” he is thinking only of the first thing. He is thinking it does not matter what the ship is like inside provided that he does not run into the next ship. And it is quite natural, when we start thinking about morality, to begin with the first thing, with social relations. For one thing, the results of bad morals in that sphere are so obvious and press on us every day: war and poverty and graft and lies and shoddy work. And also, as long as you stick to the first thing, there is very little disagreement about morality. Almost all people at all times have agreed (in theory) that human beings ought to be honest and kind and helpful to one another. But though it is natural to begin with all that, if our thinking about morality stops there, we might just as well not have thought at all. Unless we go on to the second thing—the tidying up inside each human being—we are only deceiving ourselves.

What is the good of telling the ships how to steer so as to avoid collisions if, in fact, they are such crazy old tubs that they cannot be steered at all? What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not think, and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system: but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual.

C. S. Lewis on pride:

Many a man has overcome cowardice or lust or ill temper by learning to think they are beneath his dignity—that is, by pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided all the time he is setting up in you the dictatorship of pride.

Beware Nietzsche in this respect.

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