Probability

Repost-A Terrible Bullshit Is Born

John O’ Sullivan at The New Criterion remembers Robert Conquest:

‘A strong dislike of pretension, accompanied by a happy delight in puncturing it through satire and parody, is also a major element in his literary criticism. His demolition of Ezra Pound is especially effective because, as a classical scholar and linguist, he is able to establish that many of Pound’s most admired technical effects are in reality simple errors of grammar or translation.’

Ha!:

“Those teach who can’t do” runs the dictum,

But for some even that’s out of reach:

They can’t even teach—so they’ve picked ’em

To teach other people to teach.

Then alas for the next generation,

For the pots fairly crackle with thorn.

Where psychology meets education

A terrible bullshit is born.’

Ha!

Many people still can’t handle how bad Communism was on the ground, and fewer these days are looking to keep the ideology up in the air, partly thanks to Conquest and his labors:

 

Some Hayek-Related Links

Via Twitter via Evonomics: ‘Hayek Meets Information Theory. And Fails.

So, replacing prices in a marketplace with AI deep learning models is apparently the way to go (reducing your knowledge, experience, and behavior to input nodes channeled through possible optimization distribution paths).

Let’s ignore the bureaucratic/political incentives for a moment…for man is a political animal.

Our author:

‘The understanding of prices and supply and demand provided by information theory and machine learning algorithms is better equipped to explain markets than arguments reducing complex distributions of possibilities to a single dimension, and hence, necessarily, requiring assumptions like rational agents and perfect foresight’

From the comments, a response:

‘His [Hayek’s] crucial point is that market prices perform a co-ordination function, allowing people to act AS IF they had the relevant knowledge.’

Also, epistemologically speaking, from the comments:

Indeed it is a central tenant of Austrian school economics (of which he was not quite a founding member, but is perhaps its most thoughtful member) that the efficient market hypothesis is false, that markets are never actually in equilibrium, that people are not perfectly rational agents, and that they most definitely do not have (and cannot have) perfect foresight.’

Your price re-allocation command console awaits, Captain.


On that note, Mark Pennington’s Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy comes recommended.

Full diavlog here.

Duke professor Bruce Caldwell talks about his then new book on Hayek, an intellectual biography.

Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

.A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

Repost-Cass Sunstein At The New Republic: ‘Why Paternalism Is Your Friend’

Via A Reader: Ocean Worlds-Cassini Mission Findings Video

Here’s my brief layperson’s summary after watching: 

Both moons Enceladus (Saturn) and Europa (Jupiter) demonstrate evidence of huge oceans of liquid water protected by thick, icy crusts.  The Cassini probe passed through water plumes emanating high above Enceladus’ icy crust.  This water has been forced out of four long, deep cracks in the surface.

After analysis, the folks in the video above have discovered many chemicals within these Enceladus geysers (ammonia, carbon dioxide) but most importantly:  Hydrogen they think might be coming from hydro-thermal vents on the rocky, ocean floor of Enceladus.

Or at least, with the current evidence and knowledge, this is a very plausible scenario.

So, there’s life on Earth without sunlight, deep on the ocean floors, near hydro-thermal vents where this process produces energy enough to sustain weird life forms we didn’t know existed before very recently.

There’s water geysering out of Europa’s icy crust from its ocean floor below.

There’s potentially time + interesting life-sustaining geochemistry + energy + a protected environment on both of these ocean worlds…so…hey….

There may be something really worth finding down there.

Next up:  Sending better instruments to cruise through Europa’s geysers:

The Great Ones-Some Links To Earthquakes On the Cascadia Subduction Zone

There was a good Kathryn Schulz piece at the New Yorker entitled: ‘The Really Big One,’published in July 2015, which Nick Zentner at Central Washington University uses as his jumping-off point for discussion.

The above hour-long talk is designed for lay-people and starts with the basics, catalogues the current evidence, and leads to current understanding:

On average, every 250-500 years or so, the Cascadia Subduction Zone can rip {partially or} at once, and can generate an earthquake (with tsunami) of potentially 9.0 or greater {if all at once}.  The last big one is known to have occurred 316 years ago, on January 29th, 1700.

Oh boy…

-This timeline is not exactly reassuring

-People are keeping track of these {local} things.

-Out on the coast, there are layers of rocks, sediment and mud indicating a momentous and terrible night.

-Monitor all current seismic activity here.

Below the surface

**Fun fact: There’s also a different fault right under Seattle (running roughly along I-90), that let loose around 900 A.D., and sunk a whole flank of Mercer Island, leaving a ghostly underwater forest.

Because Seattle was under a glacier not that long ago, it’s a long way down to bedrock, and this means bad news for transferring energy during earthquakes:  A big bowl of mud and looser glacial deposits, drumlins and hills prone to landslide, ending abrubtly in water, does not a good recipe make.

Check it out:

Repost-‘From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work’

Full article here.

It’s likely you won’t agree with all of Huntington’s ideas, but he maintained a deeply learned understanding of the animating ideas behind Western/American political organization with keen observation of what was happening on the ground in foreign countries.  Here’s a brief summation from Robert Kaplan’s article:

“• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.

• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.

• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.

• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.

• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.”

See Also:  Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?:  The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘  (previews)available.

Huntington’s page at Harvard here.  Reihan Salam has a short piece here.

Also On This Site: Francis Fukuyama, a neconservative up until the Iraq War or so, student of Huntington’s, and author off The End Of History, has a view that modernization and Westernization are more closely united.  Yet Fukuyama envisions a Western State which has an endpoint that the minds of men might be able to know.   This breaks with Karl Marx’s end point of Communism rising from the ashes of capitalism, is more Hegelian via Alexander Kojeve in Paris, and advocates for a State that ought to be bigger than it is now in the U.S.  This requires a more moral bureaucratic class to lead us here at home and perhaps an almost one worlder-ish type Super-Government for all.  Can you see limited government, life, liberty and property from here?:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have plans for America and India to address some of the corruption there, and it may involve much more state involvement here in America by extension.  Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The CrisisMartha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution..
Liberalism has plans for you and me, and supremely abstract ideals which would bind us together: Martha Nussbaum At The Chronicle Of Higher Education Responding To The 10th Anniversary Of 09/11: ‘Justice’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Henry Kissinger’s Remarks Reprinted At The New Criterion-‘The Limits Of Universalism’

Worth a read.

On Burkean Conservatism:

‘The billiard table is a seductive analogy. But in real foreign policy, the billiard balls do not react only to physical impact. They are also guided by their own cultural inheritances: their histories, instincts, ideals, their characteristic national approaches to strategy, in short, their national values. A realist foreign policy needs a strong value system to guide it through the inherent ambiguities of circumstance. Even Bismarck, the supreme realist, emphasized the ultimate moral basis of realist statesmanship: “The best a statesman can do is to listen carefully to the footsteps of God, get ahold of the hem of His cloak and walk with Him a few steps of the way.’

and a partial look at ideas underlying his multipolar vision:

‘The distinction between idealism and realism rejects the experience of history. Idealists do not have a monopoly on moral values; realists must recognize that ideals are also part of reality. We will be less frequently disillusioned if we emphasize a foreign policy designed to accumulate nuance rather than triumph through apocalyptic showdowns, and our values will benefit over the longer term.’

Related On This Site:

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’Inside Everyone Is A Western Individual Waiting To Get Out?-Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Are there dangers of idealism/German idealism that come with a Kantian influence in the political realm?  Are they addressed here?:   From The Internet Encyclopedia Of Knowledge: Immanuel Kant And Utilitarianism.  Kantian Metaphysics and J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism More On Daniel Deudney’s Bounding Power

A quotation from Burke:

‘A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.  Without such means it might even risque the loss of that part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve.  The two principles of conservation and correction operated strongly at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolution, when England found itself without a king.  At both those periods the nation had lost the bond of union in their antient edifice; they did not however, dissolve the whole fabric.’

Edmund Burke, commenting on the French Revolution, in The Evils Of Revolution, What Is Liberty Without Wisdom And Without Virtue It Is The Greatest Of All Possible Evils, New York, NY. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008.  Pg 8.

Repost-From virtual philosopher: ‘Free Speech: notes and links for course at Free Word Centre’

Full post here.

Some links and notes to J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’.

‘The limit of freedom for Mill was the point were an individual’s actions risked harming other people. This is his so-called Harm Principle, and he applies it throughout the book.’

Related On This Site:  Saturday Quotation-J.S. MillA Few Thoughts-Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England” Mill’s Harm Principle is often used as a life-preserver once the authoritarianism on on the hard Left becomes publicly apparent.Trolley Problems, Utilitarian Logic, Liberty, Self-Defense & Property

From The American Interest-Turkish Coup Live Blog

Link here.

Addition: The military will not take back control of the government:

‘Not all of the rebel soldiers have surrendered yet, but the government seems firmly in control. The Kemalist era in Turkish history lasted for almost 100 years, but finally came to an end in the last 18 hours. The Turkish military, it appears, has lost the role of ‘guardian of the nation’ which it assumed in the interest of making Turkey a modern European country. Atatürk’s Turkey marginalized the pious Anatolian peasants; now their grandchildren and great grandchildren are building a new Turkey.’

Via Twitter:

As previously posted on this site:

Michael Totten at World Affairs Journal (majority of the piece behind a registration wall)-‘The Trouble With Turkey: Erdogan, ISIS, And The Kurds.

Erdogan’s coalition and political stability look to be in some trouble, recently, as a bomb kills nearly a hundred at a pro-Kurdish peace rally:

‘Turkey fears and loathes Kurdish independence anywhere in the world more than it fears and loathes anything else. Kurdish independence in Syria, from Ankara’s point of view, could at a minimum escalate a three-decades-long conflict and at worst threaten Turkey’s territorial integrity’

Charles Hill on Islamist movements:

‘The answer to the primary question about political Islam’s compatibility with modernity is that political Islam’s purpose is to not only be incompatible with modernity but also to oppose it, demolish it, and replace it in every regard.’

Institutions Which Don’t Seem To Be Working For Many, Many People: A Few More Brexit-Related Links

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg from not long ago, on Brexit.  Comments are worth a read on issues many Americans may share, or, at least, where many folks are finding shared populist rejection of many aspects of a global, liberal order.  Many people place sovereignty, reasonable self-interest, borders, freedoms and duties under national laws and the ‘we’ coming from these freedoms and duties above other considerations.

From a reader, Peter Hitchens tracks 40 years of history, often snaking across party lines, and makes a case for Britain to stay-out:


Perhaps related-Ross Douthat at the NY Times: ‘The Myth Of Cosmopolitanism:’

‘Indeed elite tribalism is actively encouraged by the technologies of globalization, the ease of travel and communication. Distance and separation force encounter and immersion, which is why the age of empire made cosmopolitans as well as chauvinists — sometimes out of the same people. (There is more genuine cosmopolitanism in Rudyard Kipling and T. E. Lawrence and Richard Francis Burton than in a hundred Davos sessions.)’

Well, it’s probably important to remember that any one person, or group, of shared interests and ideals is reasonably content, if enough members of the group are getting their interests met and/or their ideals reflected back upon them.  It’s tribal and it isn’t.


This rebuttal from the comments, alone, may justify having written the piece:

‘No no Ross, you’re wrong. Cosmopolitan sorts walk the talk my friend. We (gasp) befriend kind people of lesser means, we find value in intelligence and openness wherever it lies. We emphasize and appreciate what connects us all and we seek to find connections wherever we go. We hope to contribute to a world that values all individuals and tolerates all sorts. And it is not a rant. It is a belief system that if we all shared would make the world a better place.’

I appreciate the honesty, but the lack of self-awareness is kind-of the point.


Because I think it bears repeating, I find myself very much in line with the following:

‘We may sum this up by saying that the more the style of what used to be called politics becomes theorized, the more political problems come to be reintrepreted as managerial.  Working out the least oppressive laws under which different and sometimes conflicting groups may live peaceably together is being replaced by manipulation and management of the attitudes different groups take towards each other, with the hope that this will ultimately bring harmony.  In other words, in the new form of society, human beings are becoming the matter which is to be shaped according to the latest moral ideas.’

Minogue, Kenneth.  Politics.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1995. (Pg 111).

 

The Orlando Nightclub Shooting R.I.P.-A Few Links And Thoughts

Omar Mateen: 5 Fast Facts You Need To Know’

More will be known shortly.  Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

At least 50 dead (addition: 49 + the shooter)

I’ve heard the second generation of immigrants often longs for some purpose and meaning (search for roots) from which the first has turned.  Regardless of American politics and political philosophy (which has currently gone Leftward, more ‘multicultural,’ and Europeward in many respects), there are other factors all Americans are facing with a more interconnected world.

Via Wikipedia (source of sources):

‘Author Lawrence Wright described the characteristic of “displacement” of members of the most famous Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda:

What the recruits tended to have in common – besides their urbanity, their cosmopolitan backgrounds, their education, their facility with languages, and their computer skills – was displacement. Most who joined the jihad did so in a country other than the one in which they were reared. They were Algerians living in expatriate enclaves in France, Moroccans in Spain, or Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Despite their accomplishments, they had little standing in the host societies where they lived.”[14]’

In the case of Muslim immigrants, an exploration of roots includes possibility of access to radical literature/videos/material, online propaganda, and/or other more direct cultural connections to extremism and components of the Muslim faith/identity they see as cause for direct and radical action (e.g. the disgruntled in Molenbeek, Brussels, the higher rates of radicalization of Somalis in Minnesota as part of the conflict in their homeland, the Chechen conflict for the Tsarnaevs).

As to the larger forces at work, and a few thoughts on them:  Perhaps it’s reasonable (loss of loved ones’ lives is never ‘reasonable,’ I know…) to expect incidents like these at a rate near 1 per every 3-5 years on American soil (15 deaths or greater) should the direct cause be radical Islam, and the perpetrators not part of a larger, coordinated attack (we’ve had more attacks with fewer deaths, and seen quite a few self-radicalizers, loners, and in the case of the elder Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarneav, the mentally unstable).

The odds of that larger attack (100 lives or greater up to many 1000’s due to larger-scale strategic planning, more advanced/destructive weaponry) is quite improbable, thanks in some part due to deterrence and intelligence, but such attacks have the potential to be extremely consequential to American cultural and political institutions and all of our freedoms, as was 9/11.

Of course, rates are only useful if they have predictive power, so perhaps I should say:  I expect another attack with 0-15 deaths within 1 1/2 years, and 15 deaths or greater within 3-5, due to radical Islam (not necessarily homegrown).  I’ll check in with this prediction in time.

In other words, the Muslim world’s internal problems in dealing with its own worlds, and the outside world, and its own radical movements is part of the issue. Muslim immigration to the West and the internal contradictions within the West, as well as Western involvement in the Muslim world is part of the issue.  All of this can contribute to a complex situation in which some individuals choose horrific, bloody and violent action upon the West, within the West, inspired by Islamic terrorism.

The terror and fear involved in all of our minds, of course, is the one of the central purposes of these activities.

To say nothing of the actual lives lost.

R.I.P.

*I should say it certainly follows from the above that having a ‘conversation’ about Muslim immigration means having a conversation about the violence, potential for violence and problems of the Muslim world suddenly in our own backyards (look around your house, block, school, wotk, town council etc….that’s what I mean by ‘our’), yet, the actual probability of any one Muslim immigrant atually being or becoming involved in terrorist activity is very, very, very small.

That said, the chances of that practicing Muslim having potentially divided loyalties between being an American citizen (the laws, the national defense etc) and being a practicing Muslim (submission of will in faith to God, the umma, even the sentiment and fellow feeling that can lead to radicalization) is a bit larger.

Rootless, multicultural cosmopolitan and/or open borders libertarian…I am not.

Related On This Site:  From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’

Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’

The Hitchens factor, and a vigorous defense of free speech: From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism…From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration DynamicFrom The CSM: ‘WIll Pakistan Military Go After Taliban In North Waziristan?’

See Also:  Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry KissingerTom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation