Archive for March, 2013

Death on the Nile

Once Egypt goes down, I’m not seeing how it ever gets up again. It can’t feed itself, or do anything else recognizably productive. Mostly it lives off aesthetic capital inherited from the pharoahs. What exactly is it supposed to build a future from?

ADDED: Judith Miller on sprung Egypt.

March 31, 2013admin 35 Comments »
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Rabid and Goliath

It’s tempting to introduce a ‘sub-idiots’ tag, in order to do justice to this piece of blundering verbiage. It’s like watching a dead Siberian tiger being kicked savagely in the claw by a rabid dormouse.

Still, it gets one thing right. Democracy demands (immediately) that the GoP complete its abandonment of this awkward ‘capitalism’ business, in order to concentrate more fully on the touchy-feely stuff that people really care about.

March 31, 2013admin 15 Comments »
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Out West

The real (paying) job calls. For the last few days of March (and 1st April), I’m going to be ‘away’ on a research trip to Kashgar (Xinjiang). If connectivity isn’t a problem, ‘away’ might not mean much from the perspective of Cyberspace, but I’m expecting at least moderate disruption (most probably exacerbated by colorful ethnic distractions and horrible torrents of baijiu).

If anyone has any Kashgar questions, or information to offer, I’ll do my best to bend my investigations responsively. (I’m not thinking of using this blog as a platform for Xinjiang material, but that’s not a dogmatic commitment, if there’s any interest in the topic.)

[This short Kashgar profile by Ron Gluckman is over a decade old — it will be interesting to see how it has dated.]

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March 27, 2013admin 12 Comments »
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Reaction Points (#3)

Inspired by a comment from Nick Szabo, Federico passes on 20,000 words of Howard Scott Gordon’s Controlling the State. As a door-stopper, holding the constitutional question open, it’s hard to beat.

Steve Sailer asks why rigorous statistical thinking took so long to formulate. (The comment thread is excellent.)

In an interview with Nick Gillespie at Reason, Nassim Nicholas Taleb stumbles upon an under-appreciated aspect of Left Singularity: “The problem we have had in almost all Western countries is that nominally they say they are decentralizing, but effectively they’ve [given] more and more power to the central government. You want decisions to be spread out. Government debt is a result of centralization, and typically the cause of more centralization. It’s a very bad circle.”

At Occam’s Razor, Alfred W Clark works to spring Eugenics from the dungeons of thought crime. A seemingly untroubled Steve Hsu is just getting on with it. (Go China!)

Even the GoP-happy crowd at PJMedia are flirting with disintegration.

Edges of reality, charted.

Molestation Incorporated.

March 27, 2013admin 5 Comments »
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Rough Triangles

The elementary model of robust plural order is the tripod. Whether taken as a schema for constitutional separation of powers, a deeper cultural matrix supporting decentralized societies, or a pattern of ultimate cosmic equilibrium, triangular fragmentation provides the archetype of quasi-stable disunity. By dynamically preempting the emergence of a dominant instance, the triangle describes an automatic power-suppression mechanism.

From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, triangular fragmentation has been seen to present an important and distinctive strategic quandary. In power balances of the Mexican Standoff type, initiation of force is inhibited by the triangular structure, in which the third, reserved party profits from hostilities between the other two.

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March 27, 2013admin 5 Comments »
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Triumph of the Will?

If it were never necessary to adapt fundamentally to reality, then fascism would be the truth. There could be no limit to the sovereignty of political will.

If — pursuing this thought further into vile absurdity — even tactical concessions were unnecessary, then nothing would obstruct a path of joyous degeneration leading all the way to consummate communism. That, however, is several steps beyond anything that has been seriously advocated for over half a century.

Since the 1920s, communism has been the ideal form of socio-economic impracticality, as evidenced by that fact that whenever communism becomes practical, it becomes — to exactly the same extent — fascist (‘state capitalist’ or ‘Stalinist’). Fascism on the other hand, and as everyone knows, makes the trains run on time. It represents practical subordination of reality to concentrated will.

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March 25, 2013admin 34 Comments »
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Eco-Pr0n

If you doubted at all whether Hieronymus Bosch was a true prophet, recent neo-puritan liturgical innovations should put the question to rest:

[content warning]

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March 22, 2013admin 7 Comments »
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Coming Attractions

Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s forecast (you can take it to the bank):

The Western ‘welfare state model’, ‘socialism light’, will collapse just like ‘classical’ socialism – of course, I can’t say whether in five, ten or 15 years. The key words are: state bankruptcy, hyperinflation, currency reform and violent distribution battles. Then it will either come to a call for a ‘strong man’ or – hopefully – a massive secession movement.

Division within the ‘lunatic far-right’ will be the only difference that matters.

March 21, 2013admin 32 Comments »
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The Unspeakable

To prepare for an excursion into the real-world workings of strategic triangles, this harshly illuminating conversation between David P. Goldman (‘Spengler’) and the ghost of Cardinal Richelieu is worth recalling:

“We are a bit confused about Syria,” I began. “Its leader, Bashar al-Assad, is slaughtering his own people to suppress an uprising. And he is allied to Iran, which wants to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate the region. If we overthrow Assad, Sunni radicals will replace him, and take revenge on the Syrian minorities. And a radical Sunni government in Syria would ally itself with the Sunni minority next door in Iraq and make civil war more likely.”

“I don’t understand the question,” Richelieu replied.

“Everyone is killing each other in Syria and some other places in the region, and the conflict might spread. What should we do about it?”

“How much does this cost you?”

“Nothing at all,” I answered.

“Then let them kill each other as long as possible, which is to say for 30 years or so. Do you know,” the ghastly Cardinal continued, “why really interesting wars last for 30 years? That has been true from the Peloponnesian War to my own century. First you kill the fathers, then you kill their sons. There aren’t usually enough men left for a third iteration.”

“We can’t go around saying that,” I remonstrated.

ADDED: DrewM at AoS channels Richelieu from the id: “Personally, I’m happy to let [the Syrians] fight it out amongst themselves for a good long time. Hell, let’s arm both sides.”

March 21, 2013admin 3 Comments »
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The Future of Bitcoin

The latest guidance from US Leviathan’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a leaf ripped straight out of Moldbuggian prophecy. The target acquisition revealed in Administrators and Exchangers of Virtual Currency, section c. De-Centralized Virtual Currencies could not possibly be clearer:

A final type of convertible virtual currency activity involves a de-centralized convertible virtual currency (1) that has no central repository and no single administrator, and (2) that persons may obtain by their own computing or manufacturing effort.

A person that creates units of this convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods and services is a user of the convertible virtual currency and not subject to regulation as a money transmitter. By contrast, a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter. In addition, a person is an exchanger and a money transmitter if the person accepts such de-centralized convertible virtual currency from one person and transmits it to another person as part of the acceptance and transfer of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency.

[See Fotrkd’s link feast in this comment thread]

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March 20, 2013admin 26 Comments »
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