How Can I Avoid Becoming "ÞT GUY" in My Old Age?; & BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-11-24 We
Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember:
As I grow older, I find myself under increasing pressure to become THAT GUY. You know:
I do not know what Rome is coming to. Today a boy prostitute costs more than a sword and a jar of fancy imported fish sauce more than a spread of land a yoke of oxen can plow in a day. The Young's spend all their time learning Greek and acting in theatricals, and they even allow their wives to embrace them in public—even when Iuppiter Optimus Maximus is not hurling his thunderbolts. What is to become of us?…
The JuiceBox Mafia has no conception of how hard we have worked to preserve space for tough-minded, effective liberalism in a neoliberal age. The JuiceBox Mafia has no conception of how dangerous it is for center-left politicians to pander to grievance-mongers or dictator-apologists whose principal real complaint is that the leaders they followed were just not very competent at the social practices of governance and war…
How can I avoid becoming THAT GUY?
Niskanen Center: Cost Disease Socialism: When Regulatory Policy is Fiscal Policy <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8fKELaB4dA>
The Niskanen Center continues to be the only organization that manages to talk to and try to bridge the differences between center-left thinkers who want a successful and technocratic approach to growth with equity, and the dwindling numbers of thinkers on the right who care about something other than grievance politics. if America has a hope of being a place where public policy can successfully be made by rough consensus, the Niskanen Center's flourishing is essential.
Very Briefly Noted:
Cat Rambo: You Sexy Thing: ‘I first learned about hopepunk from… Alexandra Rowland. I ended up incorporating it in a class I was teaching, All the Punks, which covered cyberpunk, steampunk, biopunk, solarpunk, splatterpunk, and more… <https://whatever.scalzi.com/2021/11/16/the-big-idea-cat-rambo-3/>
Joe Weisenthal: Fed’s Powell Fights High Inflation in His 1970’s Paul Volcker Moment: ‘This Is Jerome Powell’s Shot at a Volcker Moment—in Reverse: It took courage to lift rates in 1979 to kill inflation. The gutsy move for today may be to stand fast until we have more jobs… <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-19/fed-s-powell-fights-high-inflation-in-his-1970-s-paul-volcker-moment>
Martin Wolf: Dancing on the Edge of Climate Disaster: ‘Despite signs of hope, scepticism is fully justified when it comes to the COP26 announcements… <https://www.ft.com/content/6e2b366f-e139-4d69-bd4f-9254333bf316>
Girish Gupta: ‘We Want Food!’ Looting & Riots Rock Venezuela Daily: ‘’We want food!’ Looting and riots rock Venezuela daily…
Daniel Larison: Starving Millions for ‘Leverage’ Is Evil: ‘Sarah Chayes has written what may be one of the most dastardly op-eds I have ever read. She warns against providing aid to Afghanistan too quickly because that would reduce Western “leverage” over the Taliban…
Tim Kane: Welcome to the “Kane Saw Massacre”
Jason Kottke: The Ten Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction: ‘A central feature of many of these whodunits was that the reader had access to all the same information as the detective and could, in theory, figure things out before they did. In 1929, Ronald Knox wrote down 10 rules that made this possible: 1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow. 2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course. 3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable. 4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end. 5. No racial stereotypes. 6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right. 7. The detective must not himself commit the crime. 8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader. 9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader. 10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them…
John Timmer: Are Scientists Less Prone to Motivated Reasoning?: ‘Replication failures succeed in getting scientists to alter their opinions: A new study lays out a bit of a conundrum in its opening paragraphs. It notes that scientific progress depends on the ability to update what ideas are considered acceptable in light of new evidence. But science itself has produced no shortage of evidence that people are terrible at updating their beliefs and suffer from issues like confirmation bias and motivated reasoning. Since scientists are, in fact, people, the problems with updating beliefs should severely limit science’s ability to progress. And there’s some indication that it does. Max Planck, for example, wrote that “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up.” But a new study suggests it may not be much of a problem after all. Taking advantage of a planned replication study, some scientists polled their peers before and after the results of the replication study came out. And most scientists seemed to update their beliefs without much trouble…
Brink Lindsey: State Capacity: What Is It, How We Lost It, And How To Get It Back: ‘The concept of state capacity – “the ability of a state to collect taxes, enforce law and order, and provide public goods” – was developed by political scientists, economic historians, and development economists to illuminate the strong institutional contrast that parallels the economic contrast between rich and poor countries. Rich countries are all distinguished by having large, strong, and relatively capable states; poor countries, by contrast, are generally characterized by weak and frequently ineffective states, while those polities dysfunctional enough to be characterized as “failed states” are among the poorest and most miserable on Earth. The experience of the COVID–19 pandemic, however, has challenged the easy association of rich countries with high state capacity. The United States and western Europe failed to contain, much less suppress, the virus with public health measures, while a number of poorer countries in East Asia performed much better…
Arthur Lewis (1979): Nobel Banquet Speech: ‘Tonight’s laureates include two who were born and bred in the poorer parts of the world, that are now playing a larger part in world affairs. This Third World, as it is sometimes called, is experiencing revolutions of many kinds… but none more fundamental than the scientific revolution…. Science affects all our ways of thinking about the world, both the physical world which, if I may make so bold, is easy to understand because it is regular and follows simple laws, and also the social world, which is more baffling and less predictable. Our countries are a couple of centuries late, and have a lot of catching up to do. We shall cross the same ground in a much shorter time. But it will not be exactly the same ground…. We cannot in the Third World simply borrow or buy science from those ahead of us. Pure science we can take as it comes, but much of applied science we have to make for ourselves. Giant strides have been taken over the past thirty years inside the Third World, in building, equipping and managing new research institutes of every kind, and there is already a substantial pay-off…. Education is the great growth industry of the Third World….We cannot give our students all that they expect, whether by way of the quality of their schooling, or by way of the jobs that they were hoping to get. Student frustration is a world wide phenomenon, pushing our societies into adjusting faster than they are used to. I salute the student body of Sweden, and hope that its frustration will open up for it new and fruitful opportunities to serve the whole community…
Arthur Lewis (1979): Biographical: ‘I was born in St. Lucia on January 23, 1915. My parents, who were both school teachers, had immigrated there from Antigua about a dozen years before. The islands were dissimilar in religion and culture, so our family had some slight characteristics of immigrant minorities…. My father died when I was seven, leaving a widow and five sons, ranging in age from five to seventeen. My mother was the most highly-disciplined and hardest working person I have ever known, and this, combined with her love and gentleness, enabled her to make a success of each of her children. I left school at 14, having completed the curriculum, and went to work as a clerk in the civil service. My next step would be to sit the examination for a St. Lucia government scholarship to a British university…. I won the scholarship. At this point I did not know what to do with my life. The British government imposed a colour bar in its colonies, so young blacks went in only for law or medicine where they could make a living without government support. I did not want to be a lawyer or a doctor. I wanted to be an engineer, but this seemed pointless since neither the government nor the white firms would employ a black engineer…
Arthur Lewis (1979): Nobel Prize Lecture: The Slowing Down of the Engine of Growth: ‘The problems tackled in this paper would not arise at all if MDCs were willing to allow LDCs a greater share of MDC markets…. Through the 1960s and 1970s MDCs have been dismantling their barriers to each other’s trade while increasing their barriers to LDC trade…. Dependence is mutual…. It can hardly be an OECD interest to force the LDCs into discriminating against OECDs sources. Neither would these problems arise if the MDCs would return to the attack on mass poverty within their own borders which they launched so successfully in the 1950s and 1960s and have now abandoned…. But that is a different story…
Noah Smith: One Year of Noahpinion: ‘What happened to the world in 2021, and what I wrote about it: I would count this Substack as a modest success so far. With an email list of 36,000 and 3350 subscribers, it’s not one of the most widely read blogs out there, but I’d say it’s doing OK. That’s thanks to you, of course; I really hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have so far, and I’m grateful to all of you for giving me the opportunity to be an independent writer…
Matthew Yglesias: The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime: ‘We understate — even in retrospect — how big of a deal 2016 was. We don’t really know yet how impactful or successful Joe Biden’s presidency will be, but one thing we do know is that the 2020 election was not sufficient to un-ring the bell of Trumpism. And there are deeper reasons related to the particulars of timing that made 2016 very important, because Democrats winning a third term in a row would have sealed Barack Obama’s legacy in a way that the real-world outcome didn’t…
A "That Guy" comments:
As this era passes my reactions to my readings have become more gross. The use of "What a Piece of Shit" and the like leap out of my mouth. Sad.
The "That Guy" thing is a thing for me, too.
I had a family reunion a few years ago at Birch Bay, WA. My great-grandfather homesteaded there, and I grew up there as the fourth generation to live there. I moved away, the fifth generation did not live there. The area changed quite a bit in the 40+ years I didn't live there, and it was odd to stand on the beach at one end and look across the water. So many of the human-made landmarks were changed or gone completely. For instance, the roller-skating rink I had a job at as skate boy wasn't there. It was a big building with a rounded roof, easy to spot. A few landmarks weren't completely gone, but time had touched everything.
I remarked on this to my cousin, who said, "Yeah, they didn't ask our permission, did they?!" This made me smile.
I also noticed that many of the features I remembered - more the geological features - but also the "how humans are" features - hadn't changed at all. This comforted me.
It's this kind of looking that I try to do whenever I'm tempted to be That Guy. Yeah, things have changed, but lots of things haven't changed - it's just the window dressing of people doing stuff without my permission.
There's a real loss. Things we used to do, or have, we can't do or have any more. It's a progression of life, and it's unavoidable. Knowing what it is, though, can allow you to look at the things that are really precious, and it isn't the jar of fish sauce or the roller-skating rink you used to work at that no longer exists.