September 20, 2018
Dispatches From the Department of Disquieting Developments Pixy linked to this the other day and I think it really deserves rather wider distribution.
On the surface, it's a very dry, inside baseball discussion by a Paul M. Jones discussing a proposed Code of Conduct for open source code and IT work. This sounds both benign and banal until you realize that where benign and banal cross is their...intersection
The Contributor Covenant version on which the RFC is based is authored and maintained by intersectional technologist and transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke.
"Well, I'm sure THAT won't
immediately go pear shaped."
And yeah...It's about as much a dumpster fire as one might expect, but, like so much else today has some really creepy undertones.
I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, which is replete with links to various other takes on the issue including Ehmke's. I further urge you to bring it to the attention of people with larger readerships.
The apparent importance of one proposed COC may seem deceptively limited in scope, but the implications are quite troubling and reflect what is already happening. Several examples from the tech world over the last few years are been brought up in the notes at the end.
This far beyond coders, pretty much everybody can be burned by this.
Very related is this recent piece from The Phantom Soapbox which, while Twitter related takes a look at similar impulses...
They are watching other people be drummed out for the sin of "not a team player" because their hobby is shooting, or hunting, or even fishing. (Fish have feelings too, you murderer!!!) Or somebody found a pic on-line of them at a Pro-Life rally, or somebody saw them walking into a church on Sunday morning.
Speaking of the Stassi, this video that keeps popping up on Instapundit every few months is also relevant and shows where we are going to end up if we as a society don't get off the PC train.
August 28, 2018
Slightly Less Fun Than the Last Post
This video is three years old and it looks like Extra Credits was not only ahead of the curve on this story, but, due to their area of expertise, had some very interesting perspectives about the Chinese social credit system. The video also has some facinating bits of info regarding the Orwellian nightmare in question that haven't been widely reported.
One of the entities that runs the SCS is Tencent, the company that owns Riot Games, Epic Games and... Blizzard.
Furthermore, it looks like a couple of specific features of the social credit system seem to have been given beta tests in Blizzard's popular MMO, World of Warcraft.
The whole social credit system is the stuff of nightmares, but the fact that western game companies are so heavily involved in the development of this is even more worrying as this has some...implications.
Perhaps Twittermobs are a beta test to explore more social manipulation of a more kinetic nature.
This might sound paranoid. And you might think to yourself "That's retarded!" ...but if you didn't just think that...but you tweeted it, well, then you just got banned.
So who's retarded now?
UPDATE: OK, so you so you just got suspended for a week. These things add up.
August 24, 2018
THIS JUST IN: Stupidity Still Rampant
"He should change his name to Jack"
August 21, 2018
Today's Facebook Follies Facebook is instituting a TRUST-RATING FEATURE because their Panopticon is not just creepy enough yet.
Oh look! They're helping India weed out online purveyors of unpopular views. How...civic minded of them.
It looks like Facebook is all about civics today! They're suspending and doxxing politically problematic Latin American moms now.
Also: If your Facebook page gets...big*...then you need to let Facebook know where you live.
People who manage these pages that have significant followings are going to be asked to complete an authorization process in order to keep posting on their page.
"Well...that doesn't have any troubling implications."
Oh lighten up Sarcastic Coffee Girl. It's obvious that the idealistic nerds are just building a road to a glorious** future that we can get a glimpse of in this two year old Wired article and these two pieces that (entirely coincidentally I'm sure) ran on Drudge today.
* definition of "big" is not firmly established at this time.
** definition of "glorious" may involve momentary discomfort.
August 08, 2018
On the Spectrum of Lothsomeness
Alex Jones is a jerk, a creep, a lunatic, deeply offensive, societally corrosive, and an affront to all decency.
He also, to the best of my knowledge, is not advocating anyone get banned for saying things that he finds disgracious to his demented world view.
This makes him vastly less loathsome to me than the people who advocate de-platforming him, and somewhat less loathsome than those who think that this is 'not the hill to dies on' .
More in depth thoughts on this here, here, and here. A less current but more succinct take on this issue has been making the rounds as well.
April 26, 2018
April 21, 2018
I'm on Campus This Evening, Working on my Last Three Papers. Take heart though.
In stark contrast to college today, this will likely make you smarter.
Trigger Warning: Not recommended those who are easily disturbed, or suffer from anxiety or depression.
April 19, 2018
Astonishingly, There are Things Happening in the World Besides Term Papers and Exams This is one of the most interesting...
The bit about the Black Financial University site getting demonetized is interesting and downright scary. It looks like algorithims and outrage mobs are threatening to turn the internet into something as bland and even more risk averse than the 3 networks were pre-cable.
As a child growing up in the era after the first attempts by network standards and practices departments to appease the outrage mobs, I can attest to the sort of place that leads to.
Yeah kids, the future's gonna be THAT bad if GoogleFacebookAmazon runs it.
A quick perusal of Maven's activism page leaves me somewhat less sanguine than Mr. McCollum, but still very hopeful. We eagerly await further developments there and elsewhere.
April 12, 2018
Oh Some years ago I was taking a class on historical methods. This involved learning proper citation and research techniques for HISTORY MAJORS. This was a 300 level course. Everyone in it was at least interested in HISTORY.
The course was taught around the Holocaust, on the third day of class (my first day) a young lady tapped me on the shoulder and quietly asked a word that the instructor kept repeating in his lecture, but had given no explanation for, as if it was somehow supposed to be common knowledge...
"What's an Auschwitz?"
"A NAZI concentration camp. One of the big ones."
The scariest thing about this is that in the course of the class it became clear that his young woman was not actually stupid. She was quite bright. She just didn't know.
People don't believe me when I tell them this.
More than one-fifth of millennials in the U.S. -- 22 percent -- haven'theard of, or aren't sure if they've heard of, the Holocaust, according to a study published Thursday,
Two-thirds of millennials could not identify in the survey what Auschwitz was.
In other news, I note what is surely an unrelated trend.
And that taps out my bitter sarcasm reserves so I have no words left for the revelation that Winston Churchill is widely thought to be a fictional character.
This 2D lass sums up my thoughts on the matter though...
April 05, 2018
This fellow, no doubt, represents the greatest fear of the identitarians. The fate of our society hangs on how many of us define themselves this way.
Minor Quibble: OK, a select fire switch does not confer magical combat prowess, and its absence does not render one helpless, as our troops have learned from all those Martini-Henrys and Mosins in the Hindu Kush.
March 11, 2018
That Train's Not Coming
Not unless and until it's fixed...and that's going to take some work.
October 25, 2017
Some Thoughts on the Politics of the Moment
He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
— Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil
The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.
— Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.
— Christopher Dawson
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
— George Orwell: Animal Farm (Last line)
I may elaborate on this later.
September 22, 2017
Something That Reassuringly Bucks the Gestalt of the Age
Here's a right-winger and a left-winger who disagree on much, having a rational and friendly conversation about the issues of the day.
September 04, 2017
It is Not Entirely Clear When or Why They Dropped the "Don't" From Their Mission Statement ...but assuming it was ever really there in the first place, I imagine that the conversation between Larry Page and his underlings was something along these lines...
Yeah, I'm revisiting this, but it seems a topic of legitimate concern in light of yet more recent events and revelations.
It's especially troubling given the nature of Google in the context of certain developments abroad...
Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how "trustworthy” you are.In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticising the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are – determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant – or even just get a date.
This is where we're heading, as soon as the party most in tune with the techweasels regains power, and when that happens I fear the yoke may be too heavy for society to throw off.
Orwell, was writing cautionary tales, the tech giants see them as utopian fantasies.
July 05, 2017
...and They Did it on the Fourth of July Let me just put this here...
...because, yeah, it needs to stay up.
So, in the aftermath of some recent CNN scandals, including CNN employees being caught on camera admitting that the Trump/Russia story is pretty much a nothingburger set up to garner ratings and undermine the administration AND CNN not only retracting a rather libelous story about Trump and his associates, but firing the reporters and editor involved, one Trump fan took this clip from some WrestleMania and photoshopped in the CNN logo. Trump retweeted it.
One might think that CNN would (after such a dreadful series of self inflicted credibility debacles) react to Trunp's crude but silly victory lap with a bit of good natured contrition.
CNN is staffed by aristocrats who dine upon free range pheasant and whose lips will never touch crow.
No. CNN tracked down the Trump fan who made the .gif and....
CNN's 'KFILE' publisher Andrew Kaczynski wrote the network would not be publishing the identity of the user "because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, [that] showed his remorse.""CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change," Kaczynski warned in his article.
Lets see if we can...translate this.
Nice life you've got there...be a shame if someone were to uhh..doxx you and let all 'dem people in the black masks with the bike locks and the,uh, lettah openahs know where your family lives, where your kids go to school, and where you work. It'd just break our hears if your employer suddenly became the subject of a twitter mob and found employing a suddenly unpopular fellow like you....bad for business. But, hey...we gots an offer for youse...One ya can't refuse.
North Korea just fired off a missile that can hit Alaska. If it was a 2 stage missile, then a three stage version ought to be able to hit anywhere in the U.S.A.
Russia is up to no good.
China seems to be basing their foreign policy on the East India Company. (oh the endless ironies of life) and are a major strategic foe.
The various subsets of radical Islam seek to kill, convert or enslave us all.
M-13 and other gangs rampage across our country and kill our citizens.
None of those threaten our freedoms like the notion that our lives can be ruined by weaponized social media because we said something that a powerful person found offensive.
I don't know who this guy is other than that he apparently shitposts on Reddit.
There is a high probability that he is a douche.
That's not the issue.
Now, Trump's tweeting is cancer. It is an oozing zit upon the face of the presidency. Many of his tweets are ill considered stupid and counterproductive. While this was not one of those tweets in my opinion, opinions may vary on that point.
It doesn't matter, because that is not the issue.
A massive media conglomorate decided to hunt down a private citizen and destroy his life because he published a crude commentary ON THEIR MISBEHAVIOR. Furthermore, the implied threats they use, of censure, becoming unemployable and, (never directly expressed, but very much understood) extrajudicial violence and intimidation are not how we do things in a republic.
This sort of thing has been going on for at least 5 years....
...but it seems to be picking up speed now.
This is how totalitarian societies come about.
When people become to afraid to exercize free speech, free speech is dead.
CNN is a private corporation This cannot be fixed by legislation, as the ability to interfere editorially is exactly the power we don't want the government to have. Extortion is a possible existing charge of course, but such a prosecution might have worrisome precedents.
This needs to be met with public outcry. We as a society need to make it plain that this will not stand.
Whether we still, as a society possess the understanding of Civics to grasp the importance of this is unclear.
May 22, 2017
Minor Nobles of Exquisite Breeding and Dubious Charachter Sarah Hoyt has a thoughtful piece up on aristocracy and class.
Mostly because Europe still largely thinks in "Classes” — I know, I was born and raised there — and those of us in whose mind it doesn’t fit easily always felt weird about it.Guys, we’re starting to feel weird about what the US is doing too.
I do urge you to read it in full. Like a lot of the products of Hoyt's MENSA mind it goes down a lot of different paths before before having them all begin to merge.
Her piece brought to mind an exchange I had with a professor this past semester.
The professor in question is a damned good one and teaches an extremely interesting class on the history of technology, which she comes at from very nonintuitive and thought provoking directions. At one point we were discussing the politics of late 19th century tech and she asked "Who is the left?" After a brief back and forth, she provided her answer "Cosmopolitans!" Her position was that the left is constitutionally cosmopolitan as they are able to make common cause with people around the world without regard to national boundaries. This is not actually that far off, though it glosses over a bit. In particular she was very keen on pushing the internationalist aspect as opposed to any meaningful connection to the the origins of the word in the French Revolution. However, both are entwined closely.
For centuries Europe had a feudal system where a lord would run a small fiefdom and there would be various interactions with other aristocratic families, usually power related, but these guys ran the place. However, as fiefdoms merged into principalities and principalities into kingdoms and occasionally empires the power of the nobility waned. As the early policy in some regions of kings being elected gave way to primogeniture, the nobles became locked in, unable to advance, except at the expense of some other family, or perhaps in the event of a succession crisis, an invasion or coup. Then some of those damned commoners began making far more efficiently than any conceivable taxes on one's tenants. This was the merchant class, and they began creating wealth hand over fist and in some cases, like the Hanseatic League surpassed kingdoms in wealth, and certain aspects of power. Of course, to the nobles this was a great injustice. After all, they had legitimacy through their bloodline. These dirty capitalists selling cod of all things and gaining wealth without having first secured noble parentage were...CHEATING!
This being based on accident of birth, a litany of effete' social standards were set up to distinguish themselves from those who could not appreciate the magnificent blueness of the noble's blood. Their identity was not being common and so they shunned all things that had any trappings of the average people of their kingdom. On the other hand they tended to resent the upper aristocracy, who were a hard limit on their ascendance, indeed, an invasion or power struggle where a noble chose astutely to change loyalties could result in a major increase in stature. And of course these people had a white hot burning hatred for what we now refer to as capitalism as it enable even the basest people who were clever and assiduous to rise most distressingly...with no regard to ancestry.
When speaking of groups it is important to remember that they consist of unique individuals with the God given potential to develop their characters in any direction. However, in general, the minor nobility (of Europe in particular) became an insecure, status-obsessed group of inbreds whose social position above the hoi polloi was based on...not being of the hoi polloi. They were inclined to deeply resent their leaders and despise free markets, the latter because they threatened them by allowing an alternative avenue to mobility that did not pass through the nobles social register. They flaunted social mores to the extent they did not alarm the upper aristocracy because they could get away with it in a way that the commoners and the merchants (who were mostly commoners themselves) could not, this becoming a marker of their status and further establishing their position above those hated groups.
Obviously, this is a gross generalization, this class of people who had leisure time and nothing to do did produce some who applied themselves to non-despiseable eccentricities. (See Newton, Issac).
However, by and large we are talking about a social class that was pretty much worthless and hated everything.
Well not quite. They had much more in common with their fellow members of the minor nobility club in their country and others. So you had this group of people who had far greater affinity for people of similar status in other countries than they did with their own countrymen who they tended to despise as base and provincial in comparison to the ever so interesting different trappings of other countries...nobility.
Now even the most venal of us want to feel that we are good and noble. So the minor nobility twisted their noblesse oblige into a contemptuous pity for and desire to "help" (but not actually grant respectability to) the commoners. Now they often had no actual comprehension of how these people lived or what would help them. However, if the nobles were ever presented with the opportunity to remove their mask and express their sincerest and most heartfelt impressions to the king and his upper level aristocrats then the hoi polloi had the potential to not merely be objects of pity and charity, but could be most useful. If, after such a transpiration of events, the commoners were ungrateful or forgot their place, well, ' if the Vendee can't be a good example they can be a teaching moment'.
Fortunately, even before the Vendee was bathed in cruor, the founders of our country had provided us with a way to avoid this unfortunate societal dynamic. Title of Nobility Clause means we don't have nobility. For generations our upper classes tended to be people who moved up through hard work or at least astuteness. Now this is no foolproof filter against jerkwads achieving success. However this denied the upper middle class the permanence and persistence of a title. This break from historical norms produced an amazingly productive economy, that in 130 years went from a bankrupt backwater far from the center of civilization to an industrial giant less than a decade behind the most advanced nations on Earth in most technologies (and a world leader in a few). One of the factors here was that our successful people had to keep producing or, well, it wasn't like they could fall back on their titles 'CAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE THEM!
This often vexed the children of the successful as they were suddenly expected to be productive. Going back to even before the days of Caroline Webster Astor setting up "The 400" there were attempts by people to secure their position an eliminate competition (the trusts of the 19th century for instance). Astor's mean girl snobbery was an overt attempt to create a de facto aristocracy, but, without the titles there was nothing to enforce it and, indeed, families that produced children obsessed with such trivialities did not compete well. Thus there was intense churn amongst the upper class as new people came in bringing new technologies and the children of the previously successful proved to be a tad too comfortable to achieve the spark needed to compete and their families were frequently replaced by people bringing new ideas.
However, in recent years, a combination of factors that include regulations raising entry barriers to start up businesses, the inordinate weight placed on credentialism and in particular credentials from a few universities that only accept people from the upper echelons of society and a few new comers who think as they do. These factors mean that the credentialed class is now, for the first time in the U.S., largely self perpetuating. Elite credentials as titles of nobility certainly seems to be a superior arrangement to primogeniture, but in practice, the credential, seems to nullify any sense of noblise oblige, just as the group is becoming increasingly hereditary and it seems, far more credentialed than meritocratic.
This is an extremely status-conscious group and like the Astors of old they have found a kindred spirit in their hereditary counterparts of the old world. The upper classes of developing nations as well are drawn to this and this trans-national class of jet-setters who scold us on our carbon footprint are arguably more international in makeup and outlook than even the Third International. Despite being, in some ways a successor to the old Comitern, this transnational class is, while generally leftist in its politics, quite hostile to and contemptuous of the working classes in general. Indeed, their identity, at least in the U.S.A., is based on not being working class. Futhermore, while this group is want to proudly tout their cosmopolitan outlook, they seem to be, from the outside looking in remarkably provincial. That is, they talk to people from the same social strata from around the world, who are thus similarly socialized. Their diversity is thus superficial at best.
Likewise, their policies, while leftist are far closer to the black shirts than the brown. They are explicitly corporotist in outlook, forming cartels that rival and potentially surpass the American gilded age trusts in scope and power. The main difference between them and the Rockefellers, Carnagies and Morgans is that they frequently have enjoyed indulgence by the government from the get-go and those considerations are based to a large extent on social acceptability and political loyalty. This has resulted in the regulatory agencies becoming a weird hybrid of the Cultural Revolution, the Court of Versailles and Tammany Hall.
Like the minor nobles of old this group has set up elaborate rituals, ceremonies and byzantine social codes to differentiate themselves from the average Joe.
"Because "Joe", as a name for a "male", is cis-normative and also an example of patriarchal oppression given that "Joe" is being used as an example rather than Jane, unless, "Joe" is actually a girl which might make it barely acceptable, though bland and non-exotic except in cases where "Joe" used to be a guy named Felix but has transitioned. This is especially true in cases where Felix was a white male and now identifies as a Black tree-squirrel named Joe who demonstrates freedom from the patriarchy by marrying xerself. "
That digression brings us to Political Correctness, which is not merely a totalitarian movement to squelch and instill fear in political opposition, but is a modern equivalent to the old powdered wigs, courtly graces and appreciation for the latest fashions which required social connectedness in the pre-internet age. It is a barrier to entry for those who do not live and breathe it, and only someone who has considerable leisure time or is working in circles where the ever changing rules are being discussed can hope to navigate this minefield covered in eggshells. It's a useful way to differentiate the nobles from the plebs.
The upper middle class/minor nobles have been the strata that has given history its Catalines, Robespierres and Che Guevaras. Now they pretty much run the world.
Of course these guys face a problem that the vicecounts and barons of old never contemplated. The plebs still have a vote, which is why they have been bringing in lots of foreigners to their respective countries with which to cancel out that annoying fact. That this has deleterious effects on the average citizen is not seen as a bug to these latter day aristocrats. This, of course is why we got Trump, who while odious in his own ways is the working class equivalent to Churchill siding with Stalin against Hitler. It is a singularly desperate, hail Mary pass by the working and middle classes to save themselves from serfdom.
It should be remembered that he notion of a republic of free people equal before the law is an aberration in the history of humanity. It is a concept that we struggled to live up to and only embraced as a society in the last 40 years. We are in danger of loosing it, to a new variation on history's most perennial concept of governance... aristocracy.
Update: Fixed some typos and a completely incoherent sentence in paragraph 19.
Update 2: Gracious! It's an Instalanche! Thanks for stopping by! This blog is mostly fluff, but we do occasionally rant about politics, science and defense.
April 24, 2017
On This Day, as We Reflect Upon a Singular Evil, Let Us Not Forget Those Who Were Virtually Powerless and Still Risked Everything to Oppose It.
March 20, 2017
Deflation Declination and Dungeon Crawling The other night, my friend BOB!1! and I were discussing current events, in particular, we engaged in a back and forth over the theory that the reason we've seen limited inflation from the various rounds of quantitative easing over the years is that a majority of the inflation they created has been masking a destructive deflationary cycle. This is a disturbing notion as it puts the world economy on a bit of a tightrope.
Those of us of a certain age remember inflation and the memory is not a pleasant one. The inflation of the 1970s was an anomalous event, coinciding as it did with a general contraction of the economy (stagflation).
Inflation is normally an inevitable byproduct and indicator of a growing economy. More economic activity and more money in circulation means that the real value of any unit of money goes down. After a certain point, this actually encourages investment, since inflation reduces the value of money that is just sitting, eventually overtaking any reasonable interest rate. This means that in order to grow or even maintain one's savings one must invest them in moneymaking enterprises. This is hard on everyone, but especially the poor with no savings, those on fixed incomes and the inert, but having that money reinvested in business ventures expands the economy overall, and that increases job opportunities which mitigates some of the problems.
The '70s were unusual due to a series of problems including the fact that the Johnson administration had printed scads of money specifically to devalue the currency just as the first round of World War Two bonds was about to come due, thus effectively cheating the bond holders out of their investments, but freeing up cash for the great society programs. This was followed by Nixon taking the U.S. off the gold standard and printing yet MORE money while the oil crisis damaged the economy by raising the cost of energy and therefore, industry. This was a dreadful situation, but paled in comparison to events like Weimar Germany and Zimbawe.
Inflation is intuitively bad and we have examples of why this is so.
However, except perhaps in cases of runaway inflation like Weimar or Zimbabwe, Deflation can be much worse than inflation.
Deflation is insidious. The value of whatever is currency increases because the amount of money in circulation decreases (is deflated). This is great in the very short term, especially for the poor, those on fixed incomes and the inert. The problem is that over the long haul money actually gains value when hoarded EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY INTEREST RATE and thus the risk associated with investing with a business becomes exceedingly unpalatable.
People with money cash out, their businesses close which results in fewer paychecks, which further reduces the money supply causing businesses to go bankrupt or their owners to liquidate them before that happens. People hoard, rather than invest money and the economy slowly, over time, comes to a crawl. The tax base evaporates because there is no money and things like roads, bridges, canals, ports and other infrastructure stop getting fixed, further putting a pressure on businesses and the economy. Gradually, over time everything grinds to a halt, and only those with money in personal hoards are in any way well off, their hoards appreciating in relative value as the rest of the world slips into darkness...but such people would be increasingly isolated by the inevitable uptick in lawlessness and ultimately only those who could defend themselves and have access to food would manage to eek through. Of course, with unemployment rampant labor would be cheap, perhaps as cheap as room and board, and such people could probably be put to work growing food in exchange for protection from the rising tide of lawlessness.
Our back and forth at this point took an unexpected turn. What the end state of our worst case scenario ended up in was...
... which, as my friend BOB!1! pointed out, brings us to Dungeons and Dragons.
"Because...of course it does."
This scenario explains the D&D world.
There are ruins EVERYWHERE. There was obviously a great and prosperous civilization (or group of civilizations that shared a transnational economy) and then deflation hit. Most of those dungeons are the hoards of increasingly paranoid rich people who hid their money vaults behind traps and guard animals, eventually, either through the 4 or 5 generation process in which marrying to obtain a dowry self selects for infertility, straight-up inbreeding, or stepping on one of their own damned rot worms, the affluent who did not offer protections to their neighbors or were too autistic to socialize died out and left these "dungeons", ruins of their former mansions and money vaults which have, in addition to their traps, developed their own deadly ecosystems evolved from the guard animals and invasive species.
Feudal lords and the occasional collection of such fiefdoms in a kingdom or duchy, are stable but inherently resistant to change, innovation, and any disruptive developments in thought or technology.
There is only one bright spot economically.
The aforementioned rising transportation costs might serve to juice the economy a tad, but only if the infrastructure was privately owned and only if the return on investment was perceived as good, which might well not be the case with businesses going under left and right. However, an association of businesses in need of transportation services might well band together as a co-op to maintain a transportation infrastructure for their interests and provide mutual protection much like the old Hanseatic League did. These became the guilds. Which are the only (sort of) free market that is not completely the plaything of nobles.
It occurs to me, that there are darker aspects to this too.
As people grow more desperate and fearful, they tend to stay with their own kind, so in many locales, the races self segregated. Those that did not eventually became the "mutts" that are described as human in the game. The differences might be accentuated by starvation selection putting pressure on some groups for small bodies, (Halflings, Dwarves) and in more affluent groups sexual selection favoring beauty (Elves). Such racial balkanization would, in general, be non-conducive to most trade.
What all this means is that adventurers in D&D, whatever level, or even alignment that they are, actually happen to be, by their very nature, saving the world! Everytime they loot a dungeon, they are placing into the economy currency that has not been in circulation in millennia. When adventures begin D&D at level one, the coin of the realm is copper. Then as a party prospers, things get better in whatever locale they frequent and more and better goods become available.
All this money is stimulating trade and competition between the guilds and encouraging wiser feudal lords to invest in and support their resident merchants.
The fact that the most effective parties contain a wide variety of races, classes and skillsets that normally do not interact in any meaningful way only serves to further breakdown barriers put up by an eons long deflationary cycle.
So what have we learned today?
Deflation is, in the long run, far worse than all but the worst inflationary events due to its insidious nature and the extreme difficulty in reversing it due to its self reinforcing system on perverse and societally destructive incentives.
Against this, when conducting a risk assessment and cost benefit analysis must be considered the potential for providing future generations with elves.
May our economists choose wisely.
March 16, 2017
A Roundup of Links that Caught My Eye Jerry Pournelle relates an interesting exchange on the Science Fiction Writers of America boards that concerned what, if any, constitutional limits there are on federal regulatory authority. (Yes: "if any"...let that sink in for a minute.)
Refreshingly, it doesn't appear that Hitler was ever invoked. In his stead, Henry the VIII makes an appearance.
Read the whole thing (Scroll down about half a page. It's below the WSJ link.) Note that the conversation was declared...traumatic...and deleted by SFWA.
ACE has some very prescient thoughts on the POTUS (trigger warning: Trump)
Via Rand Simberg: A recent judicial decision in Hawaii is not just asinine, it could foment a constitutional crisis.
Oh look. Google is going to down-select anything that they determine is upsetting or offensive. Since progressives take umbrage at vast swaths of what I happen to like, I suppose no one will ever find this blog via Googling again.
Peter Beinart has an interesting piece which suggests that if you remove the thing that most that holds a society together, feeds the better angels of its nature and restrains its darkest tribal impulses, bad things might happen. Who'da thunk it?
Finally, as a cisgendered honkey male, I'm told I can't have an opinion on the utterly 'woke' Rachel Maddow and her Al Capone's Vault moment. So I'll let these two express it for me.
Note: The linked image encompassing many of the things I like is by Sukabu. The young ladies expressing thoughtful journalistic critiques are from the underrated, yet excellent, Sound of the Sky.
March 10, 2017
Oh Wow. We Really ARE Living in the Crazy Years. What disgracious 'channery is this?
CIA documents published by WikiLeaks show that the CIA kept a database of "Japanese style faces” to utilize in online forums.
Exclusive sources (so secret and exclusive that they may not even exist) tell us that in contrast to the impassive public response, the reaction inside Langley to this news was uncharacteristically straightforward...
However, thanks to this completely unexpected development we are now able to accurately recreate the Wikileaks heist of the CIA's secrets!
Have you seen this person?
The database seems to consist mainly of ASCII emoticons. The complete list can be found here.
Do note that the CIA somehow missed one...more...
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