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Postliterate America
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Today's Daily News, 2010
Today's Daily News, 2010

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I was just interviewed by two Temple journalism students, Amelia Burns and Erin Moran, and though they appeared very bright and enterprising, with Erin already landing a job that pays all her bills, I feel for these young ladies, for this is a horrible time to make and sell words, of any kind, and the situation will only get worse. We’re well into postliteracy.

With widespread screen addiction, hardly anyone buys books or newspapers anymore. My local newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer (Inky), no longer has a book review section. Its retired editor, Frank Wilson, was never replaced. Frank had three of my books reviewed, Night, Again, Fake House and Blood and Soap, but the last was in 2004.

Frank lives near me, so I see him around. A lifelong Philadelphian, he takes pride in knowing the city well. Speaking of Steve Lopez, an Inky reporter who made his name with a novel about North Philly, Badlands, Frank sneered that Lopez didn’t actually try heroin, so he didn’t really know what he was talking about. Frank did.

If you mess with Frank, the bearded, snarling Irishman will maul you with his cane. Frank’s not just ancient, but old school.

After moving to Philly in 1982, I’d read Clark DeLeon’s daily column in the Inky. Covering the city with knowledge, heart and humor, DeLeon helped me to feel grounded, and challenged me to explore my new home. After 23 years at the “same sloppy-topped gun-metal gray desk,” DeLeon was fired, however, a casualty of postliteracy.

Clark, “For 16 years I wrote six columns a week for the paper’s metro section. In later years I was cut back to five columns a week. In the final year, I was down to 1 column a week in the feature section.”

No longer a professional journalist, Clark earns his keep by working as a costumed tour guide outside Independence Hall. Done with work, he’d often down a few at Dirty Frank’s. A tall, square-jawed and rugby playing dude, Clark would sit there in his black tricorne hat, brown waistcoat and white shirt with billowing sleeves, like a hulking Paul Revere, here to announce the worst of possible news. The death of the word, and thus thinking, is coming!

One recent evening, there was karaoke at Frank’s, so Clark got up to sing Springsteen’s My Hometown. With his strong, sonorous voice, Clark handled its lyrics expertly, but then he unexpectedly choked up, and had to stop. It’s understandable, because the song’s depiction of economic collapse describes the country and city he loves, as well as his own plight:

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores

Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more

They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks

Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back

Our physical degradation is nothing compared to our mental derangement. Take our song lyrics, which are no longer required to make sense, as long as the beat is righteous. Postliterate, we fumble and befoul English. As we are forced to shout at each other above the constant din, there is no subtlety left to language.

Before the internet, I would buy the Inky first thing in the morning, often before dawn, as the newspaper box across my apartment had just been stocked, then I would get the Daily News. Many days, I would also pick up the New York Times and New York Post, and during the week, I would read the Philadelphia City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly. Just about everybody I knew also bought at least the Inky or Daily News each day, so what we had, then, was a shared body of topics to discuss. We belonged to the same mental community.

Of course, you can rightly claim that we were all uniformly brainwashed, especially since the Inky and Daily News were owned by the same damn company, but the free weeklies did provide alternative viewpoints, and many neighborhoods also had their own rag. The Philadelphia Tribune catered to blacks.

As a young writer and artist in the 90’s, I was written up in all the local outlets, Inky, Daily News, City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly, and this coverage grounded me, tied me to my city. When I had my mug in the Daily News in 1991, for example, the cashier at a cheesesteak joint congratulated me, and the owner of some corner store urged me to go home and be creative!

Although my writing about Philly has become much more in depth, my local audience is mostly gone, thanks to the internet, which has fragmented each place on earth, for no matter where you live, you’re hardly there any more. Thanks to the internet, everything around you has become much less concrete, as in your city, desk, lamp, spouse, with the computer screen now turned into your most needy and indispensable companion, for it has become your mirror, soul and shrine.

Traveling to a new town, I always looked forward to browsing its newspaper, for here was its self-portrait, exotic and absolutely inaccessible to me previously. I remember being delighted by the social tidbits in a rural Maine newspaper, as in Mr. and Mrs. Smith had a three-day visit from their grandson, Jack, an accountant in Boston, or the Tremblays have finally left for their long-planned trip to Las Vegas. They will be back on Monday, with many interesting tales to regale us all. In the style section, there might be a meatloaf recipe from, say, Mrs. LeBlanc. With its colloquialism or even clumsiness, the English, too, is reflective of a place.

ORDER IT NOW

Whatever its flaws, the local newspaper gave each community a social forum and common culture, and though newspapers haven’t died off completely, the remaining ones are eviscerated, and hardly read, for nearly everyone is on social media, all day long, where they can broadcast themselves. From reading about their town, people now upload endless selfies and self-important proclamations. Everyone is his own news, superstar and universe. Self-publishing, each man is an insanely prolific author, of gibberish, mostly, delivered to almost nobody, but it’s all good, for he can endlessly worship his preening self, on a screen, an intoxicating experience. With FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, everybody is famous all the time, to himself.

There is a silver lining to all this, for the internet has allowed deeply heretical views to surface, so that we can be swayed by writers who would otherwise be entirely silenced, and I’m thankful that I can crank out thousands of words monthly to thousands of people, if only for PayPal donations, and it’s a miracle I haven’t ended up homeless myself, like some of the people I portray. The net effect of the internet is negative for both literacy and community.

Drowning in bilge, we excrete our own and happily guzzle it all. There are no coherent stories left, and no reflection, and if something makes sense, it can only do so for a flash, before it’s washed away by a deluge of lies and trivia. Nearly as soon as something is read, or rather, skimmed, it’s permanently forgotten.

Serious art forms such as painting, sculpture and poetry have become occult pursuits, for they require contemplation, solitude and silence, which are all but banished from this manic society. Nothing matters, man, least of all the word. Across the river, Whitman’s grave sits desolate.

In each Edward Hopper painting, everyone is profoundly and pathetically alone, even when he or she is with others, but that’s the American essence, as captured by America’s greatest painter, but so did Johns, Warhol, Guston, Salle and Basquiat. Trapped in this self-congratulatory, narcissistic, house of mirrors nation, how can we be anything but solipsists? Blind to everything, we just want to hear our own voice.

In this accelerating speed culture, there is no time to think, or even feel much beyond an insatiable anxiety. Driven half insane by a surfeit of nothingness, many Americans can only calm down with plenty of alcohol and/or opioids.

Admiring our screen persona, we blunder into the mindless void.

Linh Dinh’s latest books are Postcards from the End of America (non-fiction) and A Mere Rica (poetry). He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Poverty 
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  1. a few years back i saw a movie comedy,called,”idiocracy”..i thought funny flick.but if it happens it’s way far in the future..i was wrong..it’s here..

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  2. het linh..this one is a keeper.i’ll tell frank you made him famous..he will laugh..and not kick your ass..

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  3. Oh well now…

    I dunno. I’m sixty. Today I was in a big hardware store in Eugene, Oregon. There was this plump little clerk…how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    Life goes on.

    Read More
    • Replies: @siamdave
    that's actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is - we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented, all out here thinking our own thoughts, doing our own thing, the great internet herd of individuals, which sounds really great for freedom - the problem is, they who rule us are acting together, they have a plan and have been and are carrying it out admirably - a plan that keeps them ruling because they have a common cause, and keeps us fragmented as 'individuals'. The ruling class are organized individuals, and they keep ruling because we are completely fragmented resistance. Some pretty smart guy a long time ago said something like, 'We'd better hang together, because if we don't we'll surely hang separately'. Franklin, maybe - same guy who said 'We've given you a Republic - your challenge is to keep it.' Oligarchs big score, republicans small score, and fading fast.
    , @Anon

    how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?
     
    How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?
    , @Truth
    Hey Colin, he was probably spending a little time in the gym.
    , @George Amos
    You didn't say if it was a boy or a girl.
    , @RK
    Because the plump ones with a good self-esteem goin'---like my wife---are some of the most marvelous, fun people. Also intelligent & compassionate. My family can't yet quite comprehend how a gal can have both a leather tool belt AND a diamond tennis bracelet on her Xmas list. Wouldn't trade her for Salma Hayek (unless, of course, Salma came with a good divorce settlement from her billionaire husband, at which point a threesome might be called for).

    Go get her, boy! And treat her good! You'll never regret it.

    RK
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  4. Andy says:

    Actually, I think people these days read more than ever before, they just do it on the Internet instead on the printed page

    Read More
    • Replies: @Pat Boyle
    I try to read two books a week or so, but still probably read more text online than on the page. I read a chapter in a Victor Davis Hanson book this morning while defecating. That done I am now reading this blog from PC screen.

    I see a trend for people like me to watch YouTube videos rather than reading books. I've read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I've also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He's about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.
    , @James Braxton
    Word count isn't what matters.

    I have found that even the most basic literary allusions are lost on people. And I don't mean obscure references. College educated people aren't familiar with things like Huckleberry Finn, but watch every damn show on Netflix. It's depressing.

    , @Non-Progressive
    I enjoyed reading the "Democratic" paper in the am, and the "Republican" paper in the pm...then toss in the NYT a couple times a week. Now, there's one newspaper in town...hard Left, owned by a syndicate, carrying AP Leftist spin. The NYT is FAKE. Little of it is fit to print. Too bad. I've got Unz!
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  5. Biff says:

    Everyone is his own news, superstar and universe. Self-publishing, each man is an insanely prolific author, of gibberish, mostly, delivered to almost nobody, but it’s all good, for he can endlessly worship his preening self, on a screen, an intoxicating experience.

    If the President can do it, why not the rest of us? ;^{)

    Read More
    • Replies: @stjm
    Well, if nothing else, it's almost certainly legal.
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  6. bartok says:

    two Temple journalism students, Amelia Burns and Erin Moran

    When an occupation declines in pay and importance, it is taken over by women. Or, when an occupation is taken over by women, it declines in pay and importance.

    Read More
    • Agree: JMcG, Kevin O'Keeffe
    • Replies: @Johnny Smoggins
    Women in journalism is the reason that even once serious newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times now sound little better than Cosmopolitan most days.
    , @prusmc
    What do these new graduates have that gets them to be hired an industry that has an abundent quantity of under employed, experienced professionals willing to work for low salaries? Inquiring minds want to know.
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  7. “I was just interviewed by two Temple journalism students, Amelia Burns and Erin Moran…..”

    I was going to comment “not the Erin Moran from Happy Days” and I came across this;

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4438092/Happy-Days-Erin-Moran-spent-final-days-broke-homeless.html

    Died of a suspected heroin overdose after being kicked out of her mother-in-laws trailer in Indiana. Quite similar to the way Dana Plato from Different Strokes went out.

    Read More
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  8. Dr. Doom says:

    What? Nothing about “diversity”? Lying by omission? Maybe just clueless. What is hard to understand? Even Chris Rock was willing to say books were like Kryptonite to blacks. I think maybe literacy causes erectile dysfunction in them. Something about written symbols makes them go flaccid and lose interest in life.
    Lets not forget the great literary tradition of Mestizos. You can see it in the poorly done graffitti that is claimed to be some form or art, or perhaps an attempt to obscure accumulations of filth and feces maybe? Those great liquor ads with one or two words and a half naked woman holding a bottle in her hand like a girlfriend who doesn’t want to get preggers or something.
    If you want to appeal to the Mestizos, you have to drop all those explanations, and facts, and add half naked women and phallic shaped alcohol containers. Tell your fishwrap friends to get rid of those opinion pieces and that stuff about philosophy, politics, numbers, background and other erudite egghead stuff, and go more naked women and phallic bottles of alcohol. Drop that world view stuff and talk entirely about boxing and pro wrestling, stay away from anything to do with ghey and go full macho sexist women should be barefoot and pregnant. You can make a small and meager living with that probably.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Gary
    Taught at an inner-city high school for decades until I retired. Official drop-out was 10%
    because most students who dropped out were officially transferred to continuation schools
    so technically they were NOT drop-outs. ACTUAL DROP OUT RATE was 80%. Most were functionally illiterate. Even most graduates needed help filling out job
    applications, writing formal letters, etc. Boys read the sports pages and girls the
    fashion magazines. Literacy was largely confined to picture captions of those publications.
    , @njguy73
    Chris Rock said that Black people do read. But he added that books are like Kryptonite to certain types of Blacks, a subset Rock labelled with a certain word I won't use.
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  9. JackOH says:

    Linh, thanks. My local newspaper is still independently owned and managed by descendants of the German immigrant who founded it about 1870. A startlingly literate newspaper, even today, it still has the guts to go on a newspaper crusade against the massive corruption in my area.

    I just commented beneath another post on Unz that universal literacy, public education, and nominal civil liberties don’t seem to “work” as they were imagined to “work”. (I’m paraphrasing from memory.) The propagandization of American education, its use to build “self-esteem”, especially among Blacks, has people imagining “realities” or “emotionalities” that don’t actually exist. (That’s altered from what I’d written.)

    I actually had a college student tell me that a history professor wrapped up the semester by saying something like the students themselves are the best judges of history and it’s their opinions that count. I wasn’t in that classroom, and I could have garbled what the student was saying, but it sure sounded like, “My teaching of the past 18 weeks or thereabouts is bullshit. You’ll all get “A’s” or “B’s”, and many of you will get a dubious credential from this diploma mill. You can have any thought you want about history, because you’re just capitalist fodder, and your opinions won’t mean a shit.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
    Jack OH:

    A little off-key but would you mind disclosing the name and location of your local newspaper? The reason I'm asking is the rarity of such papers.
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  10. Gary says:
    @Dr. Doom
    What? Nothing about "diversity"? Lying by omission? Maybe just clueless. What is hard to understand? Even Chris Rock was willing to say books were like Kryptonite to blacks. I think maybe literacy causes erectile dysfunction in them. Something about written symbols makes them go flaccid and lose interest in life.
    Lets not forget the great literary tradition of Mestizos. You can see it in the poorly done graffitti that is claimed to be some form or art, or perhaps an attempt to obscure accumulations of filth and feces maybe? Those great liquor ads with one or two words and a half naked woman holding a bottle in her hand like a girlfriend who doesn't want to get preggers or something.
    If you want to appeal to the Mestizos, you have to drop all those explanations, and facts, and add half naked women and phallic shaped alcohol containers. Tell your fishwrap friends to get rid of those opinion pieces and that stuff about philosophy, politics, numbers, background and other erudite egghead stuff, and go more naked women and phallic bottles of alcohol. Drop that world view stuff and talk entirely about boxing and pro wrestling, stay away from anything to do with ghey and go full macho sexist women should be barefoot and pregnant. You can make a small and meager living with that probably.

    Taught at an inner-city high school for decades until I retired. Official drop-out was 10%
    because most students who dropped out were officially transferred to continuation schools
    so technically they were NOT drop-outs. ACTUAL DROP OUT RATE was 80%. Most were functionally illiterate. Even most graduates needed help filling out job
    applications, writing formal letters, etc. Boys read the sports pages and girls the
    fashion magazines. Literacy was largely confined to picture captions of those publications.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen Paul Foster
    I taught at an open enrollment (mid-West/rust belt city) university committed to "diversity" and so it admitted any and every unqualified minority it could find. It enrolled them in stooge degree programs like "Organizational Leadership," took their tuition money and gave them degrees that were equivalent in value to the knowledge and skills they had acquired after 5 0r 6 years of seat warming. In one undergraduate, senior level course I taught in political theory, I had a student taking the class for graduate credit (she had been given a BS degree from this university). She could not even write a coherent, grammatical sentence, much less a paragraph. I cannot imagine that she had a clue about the assigned reading, assuming that she even attempted to make it through.
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  11. Johann says:

    I was living in Philly back when your friend Clark was writing for the INKY. I was never impressed by his columns nor did I ever perceive great erudition from his musings. So now he works for the city tourist agency. I would like to add to your picture that most of the newspapers today are owned by the billionaires of corporate America or the non profits which are thevsame thing. The Philadelphia Inquirer had gone bankrupt five times before it was taken over by a non profit organization. So now you get to pay for the newspaper whether you read it or not through the taxes you pay from which the billionaires are exempt .Waiting for you to take on the non profits and the fraud they unleash on USA. And yes I support ending tax exemptions for the churches and the Ivy League.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Low Voltage
    I thought it was just the city I lived in that had so many non-profits. Maybe they're everywhere? You know the Empire is rotten to the core when the capitalist system has to create "non-profits" to keep the unemployable college graduates off the streets.
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  12. Dan Hayes says:
    @JackOH
    Linh, thanks. My local newspaper is still independently owned and managed by descendants of the German immigrant who founded it about 1870. A startlingly literate newspaper, even today, it still has the guts to go on a newspaper crusade against the massive corruption in my area.

    I just commented beneath another post on Unz that universal literacy, public education, and nominal civil liberties don't seem to "work" as they were imagined to "work". (I'm paraphrasing from memory.) The propagandization of American education, its use to build "self-esteem", especially among Blacks, has people imagining "realities" or "emotionalities" that don't actually exist. (That's altered from what I'd written.)

    I actually had a college student tell me that a history professor wrapped up the semester by saying something like the students themselves are the best judges of history and it's their opinions that count. I wasn't in that classroom, and I could have garbled what the student was saying, but it sure sounded like, "My teaching of the past 18 weeks or thereabouts is bullshit. You'll all get "A's" or "B's", and many of you will get a dubious credential from this diploma mill. You can have any thought you want about history, because you're just capitalist fodder, and your opinions won't mean a shit."

    Jack OH:

    A little off-key but would you mind disclosing the name and location of your local newspaper? The reason I’m asking is the rarity of such papers.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JackOH
    The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio).
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  13. Good piece Mr. Dinh. “Contemplation, solitude and silence” are fast disappearing in this wacky society of ours.

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  14. JackOH says:
    @Dan Hayes
    Jack OH:

    A little off-key but would you mind disclosing the name and location of your local newspaper? The reason I'm asking is the rarity of such papers.

    The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio).

    Read More
    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
    A couple people have left a legacy in Youngstown, as these Vindy articles record:

    http://www.vindy.com/traficant/

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2018/may/13/debartolo-foundation-will-host-celebrity-dinner-au/
    , @Rev. Spooner
    I have put the 'The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio)' on my Opera browser speed dial.
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  15. Duncan says:

    Thanks Mr. Dinh for another excellent picture capturing the spirit of modern America. Much better than your last.
    I should like to add, society is influenced by determining points. If only 40% of the men in a society own and control the means of production, that society will be a much freer place than a society where the means of production are concentrated in the hands of a few. Likewise, in a society where the channels of information are dispersed amongst a multitude, it will be be a much more informed society than one in which the flow of information is in the hands of a few.
    Sadly, and strangely, here in America, the channels of information are virtually wide open, but the vast mass of the people simply aren’t interested.
    It’s a curious devolution. Anyone can access from a variety of outlets a whole host of information. But the majority of Americans simply aren’t interested.
    I don’t get it.
    We’re heading into unchartered waters, where people don’t know they don’t know.
    Very strange indeed.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lincoln Blockface Squarebeard III
    They are lazy and prefer delusions over reality and as society crumbles around them the further down the rabbit hole they desperately crawl. They are addicted to "being happy" and think if they do enough breathing exercises and stick enough positive affirmations on their fridge eternal happiness and bliss will beckon. Having their delusions challenged and being exposed to reality, no matter how briefly, scares them more than anything else in the world.
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  16. @bartok

    two Temple journalism students, Amelia Burns and Erin Moran
     
    When an occupation declines in pay and importance, it is taken over by women. Or, when an occupation is taken over by women, it declines in pay and importance.

    Women in journalism is the reason that even once serious newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times now sound little better than Cosmopolitan most days.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
    This, unfortunately, is not an exaggeration. Some of the editorials in major newspapers are literally what you'd find in Cosmpolitan.

    Like this.

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/wapo-is-your-spin-class-too-young-too-thin-and-too-white/

    I do not understand how a prestigious, nationally-influential newspaper can publish something of this abysmal quality. It sounds like something you'd find in a magazine aimed at high school-aged girls.
    , @Stan Adams
    The Wall Street Journal is now offering home delivery of the dead-tree edition for $12 for 12 weeks - as in, a buck a week, or about 17 cents an issue. (The newsstand price is $5, up from $1 ten years ago.)

    They must be desperate to pump up circulation.
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  17. @Johann
    I was living in Philly back when your friend Clark was writing for the INKY. I was never impressed by his columns nor did I ever perceive great erudition from his musings. So now he works for the city tourist agency. I would like to add to your picture that most of the newspapers today are owned by the billionaires of corporate America or the non profits which are thevsame thing. The Philadelphia Inquirer had gone bankrupt five times before it was taken over by a non profit organization. So now you get to pay for the newspaper whether you read it or not through the taxes you pay from which the billionaires are exempt .Waiting for you to take on the non profits and the fraud they unleash on USA. And yes I support ending tax exemptions for the churches and the Ivy League.

    I thought it was just the city I lived in that had so many non-profits. Maybe they’re everywhere? You know the Empire is rotten to the core when the capitalist system has to create “non-profits” to keep the unemployable college graduates off the streets.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
    You know the Empire is rotten to the core when the capitalist system has to create “non-profits” to keep the unemployable college graduates off the streets.

    We live in a post-scarcity society. Most human beings are surplus to requirement and exist only to consume and drive more consumption. What "productive" job should they do?
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  18. Batman says:

    Beautiful. Please don’t move to Vietnam. But you left out software from the list of contemplative arts. Some of us unemployed programmers still want to practice it even for free. Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don’t have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

    Read More
    • Agree: eah
    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don’t have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

     

    But subsequent generations will end up in places like Newton, Massachusetts or Bethesda, Maryland after their elite education and adopt SJW politics and voting patterns. Though maybe it’ll preserve places like Flushing, Queens somewhat, for a while.
    , @Pericles

    Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don’t have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

     

    Nowadays, that's like living in San Francisco without an immune system.
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  19. anonymous[185] • Disclaimer says:

    Our physical degradation is nothing compared to our mental derangement. Take our song lyrics, which are no longer required to make sense, as long as the beat is

    The music being pushed isn’t music at all. This rap garbage is anti-social, ugly cultural and moral contamination. If the common culture, what there is of it, is undermined then the society degenerates and eventually disintegrates. There is no art or music being produced these days except in small amounts by bitter clingers. It’s mostly just commercial mind-rot, opium for the children. Music and art are the canaries in the coal mine.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen Paul Foster
    Exactly! The best definition of rap, hip-hop I've come across -- "degenerate filth that has brutalized generations into thinking that the activities of the criminal class are somehow cool."
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  20. RudyM says:

    Take our song lyrics, which are no longer required to make sense, as long as the beat is righteous.

    Not only that but there’s all this music that doesn’t have words at all. A lot of jazz and classical music is that way. So that music must be for real dummies.

    God, why do I end up reading your articles? I guess it’s partly the Philadelphia reference points.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
    Commercial song lyrics haven't been required to make sense since about 1955 ("A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo") or so, and a lot of folk songs are pure nonsense. Not Dinh's most incisive comment, I agree.
    , @Bill jones
    Music that "doesn't have words at all" is not song music, dickhead.
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  21. RudyM says:

    You grossly underestimate the value of the internet. In the past I might have read a news story and then possibly read something debunking it a few years later, or, at best, a month later, in some news magazine. Now, within 24 hours, I often have multiple analyses and commentaries on that news story. I could never have afforded to subscribe to enough magazines to provide that many alternative accounts of things, had they even existed.

    You also underestimate the degree to which individuals can pick and choose how much they are absorbed into the more negative aspects of these new technologies. I spend an enormous amount of time online, but I don’t have any social media accounts at all. I don’t have any “devices” aside from my desktop. Maybe the ability of individuals to pick and choose is beside the point when you are looking at large social trends, but don’t “we” me. You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations.

    Read More
    • Agree: Kratoklastes
    • Replies: @Miro23
    Agree that a lot of reading is being transferred from paper to screens. Unz is a good example with the advantage of multiple viewpoints + discussion that was lacking in newspapers/magazines-

    But there is the problem that it reduces book reading time which IMO is still the best way to tackle subjects in depth. Personally, I don't like electronic books, and a minority pleasure is reading a book as it was first issued e.g. Arthur Bryant's "Unfinished Victory" Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1940. It's something to do with the typeface, paper and smell - almost like you're in 1940.
    , @Patricus
    I have to second your opinion about the value of the internet. Decades back I subscribed to three newspapers and a dozen monthly magazines. Today I have access to far more information on my desktop and tablet. The comments add to the value of an article even though most comments are idiotic. I am getting to the point where I won't read an author with no comments section.
    , @Dan
    "You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations."

    Aren't we all.
    , @Rev. Spooner
    I love the PC too, more than any laptop or a smart phone. I'm curious about the reason that you exclude other devices. Is it spying and intrusion into your life ?
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  22. I used to enjoy reading Stanton Delaplane in the San Francisco Chronicle whenever I visited San Francisco. I could get it at my local library I guess. I just wanted to read it in a coffee shop at Union Square.

    Read More
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  23. RudyM says:

    Spends his time pickling his liver and brain in dive bars, then writes how Americans are escaping via the bottle. Well, I guess the ones you meet regularly might be.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
    Americans are drinking more.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/americans-are-drinking-more-but-why_us_598c9b1ce4b0caa1687a5e6c
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  24. Pat Boyle says:
    @Andy
    Actually, I think people these days read more than ever before, they just do it on the Internet instead on the printed page

    I try to read two books a week or so, but still probably read more text online than on the page. I read a chapter in a Victor Davis Hanson book this morning while defecating. That done I am now reading this blog from PC screen.

    I see a trend for people like me to watch YouTube videos rather than reading books. I’ve read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I’ve also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He’s about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.

    Read More
    • Replies: @manorchurch

    I’ve read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I’ve also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He’s about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.
     
    There isn't anything actually wrong with video lectures. It is good, and sometimes useful information. However, it is a high-bandwidth, low data-density stream, compared to print, which is low-bandwidth, high data-density.

    IMO, the high levels of entertainment embedded in the delivery model require no intelligence, develop no mental ability, and exacerbate all human tendency to prefer intellectual fat and sugar to the protein that is knowledge. Can bridges be built with suet and chocolate cream pie?

    Progress is not a product of lazy afternoons watching soap operas, drinking beer, and talking on the phone.
    , @Truth

    I read a chapter in a Victor Davis Hanson book this morning while defecating.
     
    I guess Linhjo is right, the baby boomers dying is definitely going to leave a chasm in erudition and class.
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  25. stjm says:
    @Biff

    Everyone is his own news, superstar and universe. Self-publishing, each man is an insanely prolific author, of gibberish, mostly, delivered to almost nobody, but it’s all good, for he can endlessly worship his preening self, on a screen, an intoxicating experience.
     
    If the President can do it, why not the rest of us? ;^{)

    Well, if nothing else, it’s almost certainly legal.

    Read More
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  26. @Johnny Smoggins
    Women in journalism is the reason that even once serious newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times now sound little better than Cosmopolitan most days.

    This, unfortunately, is not an exaggeration. Some of the editorials in major newspapers are literally what you’d find in Cosmpolitan.

    Like this.

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/wapo-is-your-spin-class-too-young-too-thin-and-too-white/

    I do not understand how a prestigious, nationally-influential newspaper can publish something of this abysmal quality. It sounds like something you’d find in a magazine aimed at high school-aged girls.

    Read More
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  27. @RudyM
    Spends his time pickling his liver and brain in dive bars, then writes how Americans are escaping via the bottle. Well, I guess the ones you meet regularly might be.
    Read More
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  28. Whatever its flaws, the local newspaper gave each community a social forum and common culture, and though newspapers haven’t died off completely, the remaining ones are eviscerated, and hardly read, for nearly everyone is on social media, all day long, where they can broadcast themselves. From reading about their town, people now upload endless selfies and self-important proclamations. Everyone is his own news, superstar and universe. Self-publishing, each man is an insanely prolific author, of gibberish, mostly, delivered to almost nobody, but it’s all good, for he can endlessly worship his preening self, on a screen, an intoxicating experience. With FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, everybody is famous all the time, to himself.

    The old America (pre-1990s) wasn’t a particularly intellectual place, but it was a socially interconnected society. People used to take interest in each other and enjoyed getting together. People used to congregate together in public spaces like malls, parks, bowling alleys, skating facilities, arcades, and even street corners. People would join clubs like Sons of Italy, Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks Lodge, bowling groups, etc. Young people would pack into clubs, bars, frat parties, and any place that’d take them on a weekend night. In small towns, the weekend football game (and the after party) were the focal point for socialization….. In that type of society, a local newpaper was seen as another social forum in which people could connect with each other.

    Over the last 25 years, people have socially withdrawn into their cocoons and disengaged from the broader society. Smartphones didn’t start the move toward social cocooning, but it strongly exacerbated this trend. People don’t hang out much together anymore and hardly anyone really cares about what’s going on with anybody in their local community. Other than elderly people that remember a different time, few have any desire to read about anything or anyone in their local community. This is why community papers are dying.

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of “friends” who constantly “like” your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you’re a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers. When you get bored of yourself, you can jump onto someone else’s profile for a few seconds – before clicking on someone’s profile for another few seconds…….. When you’re bored with that, your smartphone has numerous “apps” to help relieve the boredom………. When you’re done with that, you’ve probably got lots of electronic gadgets at home (IPOD, IPAD, DISH TV, Netflix, video games) for further fun.

    It’s sort of like the Matrix. You plug yourself in to disengage from society and to have a good time. In the process, you give up your autonomy over your mind to overlords, which is okay because at least you’re having fun.

    While Americans may be anti-social these days, they are self-obsessed, consumed with frivolity, and have very short attention spans. Social media, smart phones, and these various electronic gadgets are the perfect inventions for the type of society that America is becoming.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wayne
    I grew up in the late fifties and sixties. The beginning of this isolation trend was central air conditioning. Before AC folks went out on the porch in the evenings and conversed with neighbors. We kids played outside because it was too hot in the house. We interacted with the other kids in the neighborhood playing games and settling disputes where we learned how to interact with people.
    , @Kratoklastes

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of “friends” who constantly “like” your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you’re a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers.
     
    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it. So it should be no surprise that the people who bother to indulge in that sort of shit are the people with zero intellectual capital, and zero chance of building any.

    The media generally has long understood that you can get stupid people (people of intelligence near the median) to participate in stupid shit just by repetition.

    It's why laugh tracks exist - dummies are encouraged to believe that they're missing out on a joke if they don't laugh. (It works on semi-smart people too - people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to 'get it' makes them seem sophisticated).

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are 'cute' (or whatever-the-fuck); it's like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody's allowed to slap them.

    Anyhow... I'm fortunate in that I come from misanthropic stock, so 'social fragmentation and alienation' suits me just fine. Back when we were kids, my father would rather have had his teeth pulled, than to socialise - we didn't have barbeques that involved anyone other than our family (and maybe 1 or 2 friends). I inherited that, and I don't regret it one little bit.

    I would put it down to Dad having been in he Army most of his life, but his Dad (my "Big Grandad") was the same and Big Grandad was never in the military. None of us have ever invested any emotional energy in trying to maintain more than about 5 good friends (where "good friend" means "will grab a beer together after work on Friday, but will not bother me at any other time").

    My Mum's Dad wasn't a misanthrope, and was hugely popular, but the only time he socialised was at tribal gatherings. His wife and family were the people he wanted to spend his spare time with (he was a person to emulate, my "Little Grandad").

    Weirdly, The Lovely's father is more or less the same.

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  29. @Pat Boyle
    I try to read two books a week or so, but still probably read more text online than on the page. I read a chapter in a Victor Davis Hanson book this morning while defecating. That done I am now reading this blog from PC screen.

    I see a trend for people like me to watch YouTube videos rather than reading books. I've read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I've also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He's about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.

    I’ve read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I’ve also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He’s about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.

    There isn’t anything actually wrong with video lectures. It is good, and sometimes useful information. However, it is a high-bandwidth, low data-density stream, compared to print, which is low-bandwidth, high data-density.

    IMO, the high levels of entertainment embedded in the delivery model require no intelligence, develop no mental ability, and exacerbate all human tendency to prefer intellectual fat and sugar to the protein that is knowledge. Can bridges be built with suet and chocolate cream pie?

    Progress is not a product of lazy afternoons watching soap operas, drinking beer, and talking on the phone.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Truth

    Progress is not a product of lazy afternoons watching soap operas, drinking beer, and talking on the phone.
     
    That's an odd combination there. I'm not sure I've met anyone who partakes in all three of these hobbies.
    , @Sollipsist
    No, what you're describing is both the reason for and the result of progress, but you're right that it's not how progress is pursued.

    It may be precisely the overenthusiastic pursuit of progress that got our bodies here before our minds were ready. Giving us the means to make life easier and more efficient is like giving children cars and credit cards. Or maybe humans on the whole are simply inherently unable to cope with ease and plenty?

    Whatever the case, progress is not a solution in itself, and it's certainly not a value worth sanctifying. Unchecked progress is as much a cancer of time as unchecked reproduction is a cancer of the population.
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  30. siamdave says: • Website
    @Colin Wright
    Oh well now...

    I dunno. I'm sixty. Today I was in a big hardware store in Eugene, Oregon. There was this plump little clerk...how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    Life goes on.

    that’s actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is – we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented, all out here thinking our own thoughts, doing our own thing, the great internet herd of individuals, which sounds really great for freedom – the problem is, they who rule us are acting together, they have a plan and have been and are carrying it out admirably – a plan that keeps them ruling because they have a common cause, and keeps us fragmented as ‘individuals’. The ruling class are organized individuals, and they keep ruling because we are completely fragmented resistance. Some pretty smart guy a long time ago said something like, ‘We’d better hang together, because if we don’t we’ll surely hang separately’. Franklin, maybe – same guy who said ‘We’ve given you a Republic – your challenge is to keep it.’ Oligarchs big score, republicans small score, and fading fast.

    Read More
    • Agree: animalogic
    • Replies: @Colin Wright
    'that’s actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is – we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented...'

    I'm constitutionally skeptical of conspiracy theories -- but I think you do have a point. The internet does lead to fragmentation, and absent any coherent public consensus, it should become easier for organized cliques to put over their agenda. They may or may not have intended to bring this about, but they are certainly in a position to take advantage.

    , @Blank-misgivings
    This is a very good point. The top 1% also generally read books, keep their kids away from screens, eat fruit and vegetables, exercise and have just a few sexual partners over a lifetime (I'm talking professional elites nor celebrities or politicians).

    They follow the old disciplines while in their professions working to undermine discipline in the masses by selling them junk and destroying whatever solidarities they have built up.
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  31. Wayne says:
    @JohnnyWalker123

    Whatever its flaws, the local newspaper gave each community a social forum and common culture, and though newspapers haven’t died off completely, the remaining ones are eviscerated, and hardly read, for nearly everyone is on social media, all day long, where they can broadcast themselves. From reading about their town, people now upload endless selfies and self-important proclamations. Everyone is his own news, superstar and universe. Self-publishing, each man is an insanely prolific author, of gibberish, mostly, delivered to almost nobody, but it’s all good, for he can endlessly worship his preening self, on a screen, an intoxicating experience. With FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, everybody is famous all the time, to himself.

     

    The old America (pre-1990s) wasn't a particularly intellectual place, but it was a socially interconnected society. People used to take interest in each other and enjoyed getting together. People used to congregate together in public spaces like malls, parks, bowling alleys, skating facilities, arcades, and even street corners. People would join clubs like Sons of Italy, Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks Lodge, bowling groups, etc. Young people would pack into clubs, bars, frat parties, and any place that'd take them on a weekend night. In small towns, the weekend football game (and the after party) were the focal point for socialization..... In that type of society, a local newpaper was seen as another social forum in which people could connect with each other.

    Over the last 25 years, people have socially withdrawn into their cocoons and disengaged from the broader society. Smartphones didn't start the move toward social cocooning, but it strongly exacerbated this trend. People don't hang out much together anymore and hardly anyone really cares about what's going on with anybody in their local community. Other than elderly people that remember a different time, few have any desire to read about anything or anyone in their local community. This is why community papers are dying.

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of "friends" who constantly "like" your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you're a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers. When you get bored of yourself, you can jump onto someone else's profile for a few seconds - before clicking on someone's profile for another few seconds........ When you're bored with that, your smartphone has numerous "apps" to help relieve the boredom.......... When you're done with that, you've probably got lots of electronic gadgets at home (IPOD, IPAD, DISH TV, Netflix, video games) for further fun.

    It's sort of like the Matrix. You plug yourself in to disengage from society and to have a good time. In the process, you give up your autonomy over your mind to overlords, which is okay because at least you're having fun.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8e-FF8MsqU

    While Americans may be anti-social these days, they are self-obsessed, consumed with frivolity, and have very short attention spans. Social media, smart phones, and these various electronic gadgets are the perfect inventions for the type of society that America is becoming.

    I grew up in the late fifties and sixties. The beginning of this isolation trend was central air conditioning. Before AC folks went out on the porch in the evenings and conversed with neighbors. We kids played outside because it was too hot in the house. We interacted with the other kids in the neighborhood playing games and settling disputes where we learned how to interact with people.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
    Good point. I think the huge number of amenities in our homes (air conditioners, tvs, video games, computers, social media, smartphones, IPODs, IPADs, DVD players, NetFlix, satellite channels, Youtube) have made people hesistant to go out. Those amenities also allow people to get in their entertainment, which means that you don't actually need to friends to have fun anymore. Just have fun by yourself at home.

    Unfortunately, this destroys social networks.

    I also think that these various gadgets might provide short-term fun, but lack some of the long-term benefits and meaning that real life friendships can provide.
    , @Jedediah Smith
    I wish Linh Dinh would get rid of the "h's" at the end of his first and last name so it would be Lin Din. Much easier on the eyes on a book cover or anywhere else. Bottom line, if he wants to sell books, have an simple, easy to remember name.
    , @Da Wei
    Wayne, thanks for bringing this up. I grew up in the 40s and 50s and have similar recollections. Back then, porches and yards were neighborly places, but eventually these gave way to family rooms looking out onto the yards through big picture windows. Eventually, houses were built with reverse floor plans, and the family room was in back looking out onto the fenced back yard. As you say, refrigeration had a lot to do with that, as it also cut down on cranking the ice cream freezer, which was great fun for kids. Here's an idea for you about what has happened to our society.

    A great institution that fostered a sense of community among men back then -- but no longer -- was the barber shop. Barber shops were the most fundamental form of men's lodge. Wait your turn, get a haircut, pay your dues. Conversation flowed on all subjects, with the line being drawn at vulgarity, at least in family shops. Barbers were expected to be skilled and haircuts properly executed; otherwise, you got a bad haircut. These days, there seems to be no such thing as a bad haircut. And there seems to be no line anywhere on vulgarity. Look at that actor, Robert something. Barber shops like that are gone now, except for the black shops. Black people can still have that old style neighborhood barber shop. Nobody calls them racist or nazi. I miss barber shops. I'm an old timey barber, myself.

    You're right about the effects of technology on our fragmented sense of community, but I think there is another more important aspect than technological engineering at play here, and that is social engineering.
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  32. Learing says:

    One change with Facebook and Smart phones, is the new scrolls as opposed to pages. Most websites are very searchable. This plus open comments sections made the net a great way for commoners to verify and fact check the stories we are being fed by TPTB. With Facebook. within half hours stories disappear replaced by other stories and clickbait.

    Read More
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  33. @siamdave
    that's actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is - we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented, all out here thinking our own thoughts, doing our own thing, the great internet herd of individuals, which sounds really great for freedom - the problem is, they who rule us are acting together, they have a plan and have been and are carrying it out admirably - a plan that keeps them ruling because they have a common cause, and keeps us fragmented as 'individuals'. The ruling class are organized individuals, and they keep ruling because we are completely fragmented resistance. Some pretty smart guy a long time ago said something like, 'We'd better hang together, because if we don't we'll surely hang separately'. Franklin, maybe - same guy who said 'We've given you a Republic - your challenge is to keep it.' Oligarchs big score, republicans small score, and fading fast.

    ‘that’s actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is – we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented…’

    I’m constitutionally skeptical of conspiracy theories — but I think you do have a point. The internet does lead to fragmentation, and absent any coherent public consensus, it should become easier for organized cliques to put over their agenda. They may or may not have intended to bring this about, but they are certainly in a position to take advantage.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dave Patterson
    Just a friendly suggestion re 'conspiracy theories' - it's a better rule of thumb to follow, that if the 'mainstream media' is running around telling you something is a 'conspiracy theory', the working definition is that it's probably true, and the people doing the bad stuff do NOT want you learning about it, so try to get you to move away by mocking you.
    , @Wally
    'Conspiracies' are proven in courts around the world every day.

    Don't take the bait.

    Cheers.

    www.codoh.com
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  34. I seldom read newspapers, and when I do I am usually appalled at what passes for reportage – so I don’t understand the mawkish lachrymose sentimentality that grips some people when some or other local rag bites the dust.

    Frankly, I reckon Jefferson pegged it about right in his various well-known diatribes against newspapers. (Yes, he had his own motives for calumniating them – that doesn’t mean his criticism wasn’t justified or accurate).

    In the normal course of daily events, I read more now than I have at any point in my life: that’s saying something, considering the reading load during my undergraduate, Masters and PhD studies in the 1990s. Very little of my current daily reading is in newspapers, because that’s not where quality analysis is.

    The internet has enabled immediate access to a vast range of material on any topic – some of it’s drivel, and some of it’s gold.

    The best indicator of non-drivel, for any subject of more than moderate complexity: it’s not produced by a journalist.

    Journalists generally have little more than a dilettante understanding of the subjects they write about, and – again, generally – have no specific training in the subjects that require it (or if they do, not to any level that would enable them to work in the subject itself).

    And when the subject is politics, they are obsessed with ‘access’ – which in turn means that they are highly unlikely to report truthfully on anything that matters.

    Journalism relies on public ignorance, including the ignorance of journalists‘ ignorance. For anyone with significant expertise in a subject area, they also need what Michael Crichton dubbed the “Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect”.

    So I am glad when newspapers fail the market test and need to be rescued by wealthy oligarchs: it makes it a little clearer why they exist (i.e., to advance the interests of a concentrated constituency – who would, if given their druthers, remain clandestine).

    And yes, from time to time journalism reveals something of consequence – the child molestation in Boston that was revealed by the people at the Globe, for example. However, think a bit harder about that: for how long had the Globe known about, but not reported on, that sordid stuff? Was it really an unknown thing for the entire life of the Globe to that point? Nope: it’s just that someone who had been helping suppress the story, lost the will or the ability to do so.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sam J.
    "...I seldom read newspapers, and when I do I am usually appalled at what passes for reportage – so I don’t understand the mawkish lachrymose sentimentality that grips some people when some or other local rag bites the dust..."

    "...In the normal course of daily events, I read more now than I have at any point in my life..."

    "...The internet has enabled immediate access to a vast range of material on any topic – some of it’s drivel, and some of it’s gold.

    The best indicator of non-drivel, for any subject of more than moderate complexity: it’s not produced by a journalist..."

    I agree most heartily. I quit reading the local paper decades ago after the New York Times bought it. Nothing but brain washing drivel.
    , @Carroll Price
    The term journalists is one of the most abused words in the English language. Not one journalist in a thousand qualifies as a journalist.
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  35. @JohnnyWalker123

    Whatever its flaws, the local newspaper gave each community a social forum and common culture, and though newspapers haven’t died off completely, the remaining ones are eviscerated, and hardly read, for nearly everyone is on social media, all day long, where they can broadcast themselves. From reading about their town, people now upload endless selfies and self-important proclamations. Everyone is his own news, superstar and universe. Self-publishing, each man is an insanely prolific author, of gibberish, mostly, delivered to almost nobody, but it’s all good, for he can endlessly worship his preening self, on a screen, an intoxicating experience. With FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, everybody is famous all the time, to himself.

     

    The old America (pre-1990s) wasn't a particularly intellectual place, but it was a socially interconnected society. People used to take interest in each other and enjoyed getting together. People used to congregate together in public spaces like malls, parks, bowling alleys, skating facilities, arcades, and even street corners. People would join clubs like Sons of Italy, Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks Lodge, bowling groups, etc. Young people would pack into clubs, bars, frat parties, and any place that'd take them on a weekend night. In small towns, the weekend football game (and the after party) were the focal point for socialization..... In that type of society, a local newpaper was seen as another social forum in which people could connect with each other.

    Over the last 25 years, people have socially withdrawn into their cocoons and disengaged from the broader society. Smartphones didn't start the move toward social cocooning, but it strongly exacerbated this trend. People don't hang out much together anymore and hardly anyone really cares about what's going on with anybody in their local community. Other than elderly people that remember a different time, few have any desire to read about anything or anyone in their local community. This is why community papers are dying.

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of "friends" who constantly "like" your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you're a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers. When you get bored of yourself, you can jump onto someone else's profile for a few seconds - before clicking on someone's profile for another few seconds........ When you're bored with that, your smartphone has numerous "apps" to help relieve the boredom.......... When you're done with that, you've probably got lots of electronic gadgets at home (IPOD, IPAD, DISH TV, Netflix, video games) for further fun.

    It's sort of like the Matrix. You plug yourself in to disengage from society and to have a good time. In the process, you give up your autonomy over your mind to overlords, which is okay because at least you're having fun.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8e-FF8MsqU

    While Americans may be anti-social these days, they are self-obsessed, consumed with frivolity, and have very short attention spans. Social media, smart phones, and these various electronic gadgets are the perfect inventions for the type of society that America is becoming.

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of “friends” who constantly “like” your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you’re a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers.

    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it. So it should be no surprise that the people who bother to indulge in that sort of shit are the people with zero intellectual capital, and zero chance of building any.

    The media generally has long understood that you can get stupid people (people of intelligence near the median) to participate in stupid shit just by repetition.

    It’s why laugh tracks exist – dummies are encouraged to believe that they’re missing out on a joke if they don’t laugh. (It works on semi-smart people too – people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to ‘get it’ makes them seem sophisticated).

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are ‘cute’ (or whatever-the-fuck); it’s like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody’s allowed to slap them.

    Anyhow… I’m fortunate in that I come from misanthropic stock, so ‘social fragmentation and alienation’ suits me just fine. Back when we were kids, my father would rather have had his teeth pulled, than to socialise – we didn’t have barbeques that involved anyone other than our family (and maybe 1 or 2 friends). I inherited that, and I don’t regret it one little bit.

    I would put it down to Dad having been in he Army most of his life, but his Dad (my “Big Grandad”) was the same and Big Grandad was never in the military. None of us have ever invested any emotional energy in trying to maintain more than about 5 good friends (where “good friend” means “will grab a beer together after work on Friday, but will not bother me at any other time“).

    My Mum’s Dad wasn’t a misanthrope, and was hugely popular, but the only time he socialised was at tribal gatherings. His wife and family were the people he wanted to spend his spare time with (he was a person to emulate, my “Little Grandad”).

    Weirdly, The Lovely‘s father is more or less the same.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stan Adams

    It’s why laugh tracks exist – dummies are encouraged to believe that they’re missing out on a joke if they don’t laugh.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRtyqK4nbVU
    , @Wally
    said:
    "It works on semi-smart people too – people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to ‘get it’ makes them seem sophisticated."

    Bingooooo!

    www.codoh.com
    , @JohnnyWalker123

    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it.

     

    Here's what we have to remember.

    1. Modern society is wildly competitive. People are status-seeking to an extent that's downright vulgar. Given that society gives status to those with attractive Social Media profiles, many people feel they can compete for some of this status by having a cool Instagram/Facebook/Twiter profile. Having a popular profile is like having a Mercedes Benz - it's a status symbol. If you have 10,000 "Followers" on Instagram, you are a "winner" in the game of life.

    2. Sometimes it's easier to achieve status online than in real life. For example, society gives enormous status to physically attractive people, but it's not easy to be good looking. It requires exercise, a good diet, proper face creams, plastic surgery, dental work, etc. However, if you take pics of your average-looking face and then extensively photoedit those pics, you can suddenly become a model and get tons of "Likes" for pics of your suddenly handsome self.

    3. People seek validation. By allowing us to "Follow" and "Like" a picture, these various Social Media sites allow ordinary people to achieve constant validation. So you can take huge numbers of pics of your average-looking face, photoedit those pics to make them look handsome, upload the new pics, and then get huge numbers of "Likes" and new "Followers." Win!

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are ‘cute’ (or whatever-the-fuck); it’s like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody’s allowed to slap them.

     

    You mean like this.

    Watch for 10 seconds from 0:38-0:48.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teeRdhjYm7g
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  36. @Colin Wright
    'that’s actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is – we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented...'

    I'm constitutionally skeptical of conspiracy theories -- but I think you do have a point. The internet does lead to fragmentation, and absent any coherent public consensus, it should become easier for organized cliques to put over their agenda. They may or may not have intended to bring this about, but they are certainly in a position to take advantage.

    Just a friendly suggestion re ‘conspiracy theories’ – it’s a better rule of thumb to follow, that if the ‘mainstream media’ is running around telling you something is a ‘conspiracy theory’, the working definition is that it’s probably true, and the people doing the bad stuff do NOT want you learning about it, so try to get you to move away by mocking you.

    Read More
    • Agree: Carroll Price
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  37. @Kratoklastes

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of “friends” who constantly “like” your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you’re a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers.
     
    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it. So it should be no surprise that the people who bother to indulge in that sort of shit are the people with zero intellectual capital, and zero chance of building any.

    The media generally has long understood that you can get stupid people (people of intelligence near the median) to participate in stupid shit just by repetition.

    It's why laugh tracks exist - dummies are encouraged to believe that they're missing out on a joke if they don't laugh. (It works on semi-smart people too - people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to 'get it' makes them seem sophisticated).

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are 'cute' (or whatever-the-fuck); it's like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody's allowed to slap them.

    Anyhow... I'm fortunate in that I come from misanthropic stock, so 'social fragmentation and alienation' suits me just fine. Back when we were kids, my father would rather have had his teeth pulled, than to socialise - we didn't have barbeques that involved anyone other than our family (and maybe 1 or 2 friends). I inherited that, and I don't regret it one little bit.

    I would put it down to Dad having been in he Army most of his life, but his Dad (my "Big Grandad") was the same and Big Grandad was never in the military. None of us have ever invested any emotional energy in trying to maintain more than about 5 good friends (where "good friend" means "will grab a beer together after work on Friday, but will not bother me at any other time").

    My Mum's Dad wasn't a misanthrope, and was hugely popular, but the only time he socialised was at tribal gatherings. His wife and family were the people he wanted to spend his spare time with (he was a person to emulate, my "Little Grandad").

    Weirdly, The Lovely's father is more or less the same.

    It’s why laugh tracks exist – dummies are encouraged to believe that they’re missing out on a joke if they don’t laugh.

    Read More
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  38. Anon[987] • Disclaimer says:

    No whining about Jews this week ?
    I don’t think you will get as many comments.
    Does Ron still pay you even if you refrain from giving Jews derogatory honorable mentions ?

    Read More
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  39. @Johnny Smoggins
    Women in journalism is the reason that even once serious newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times now sound little better than Cosmopolitan most days.

    The Wall Street Journal is now offering home delivery of the dead-tree edition for $12 for 12 weeks – as in, a buck a week, or about 17 cents an issue. (The newsstand price is $5, up from $1 ten years ago.)

    They must be desperate to pump up circulation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Johnny Smoggins
    I sometimes visit the website Marketwatch, a subsidiary of the Wall Street Journal, and honestly, most days it's like The Huffington Post but with stock prices.

    Typical lead news stories will be about what a big meanie Trump is or a feature of some super awesome black woman run start up. And this from an ostensibly "conservative" news source. Somewhere along the way they made a conscious decision to alienate their White male core readership so let them starve. Zero Hedge is more fun anyway.
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  40. @siamdave
    that's actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is - we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented, all out here thinking our own thoughts, doing our own thing, the great internet herd of individuals, which sounds really great for freedom - the problem is, they who rule us are acting together, they have a plan and have been and are carrying it out admirably - a plan that keeps them ruling because they have a common cause, and keeps us fragmented as 'individuals'. The ruling class are organized individuals, and they keep ruling because we are completely fragmented resistance. Some pretty smart guy a long time ago said something like, 'We'd better hang together, because if we don't we'll surely hang separately'. Franklin, maybe - same guy who said 'We've given you a Republic - your challenge is to keep it.' Oligarchs big score, republicans small score, and fading fast.

    This is a very good point. The top 1% also generally read books, keep their kids away from screens, eat fruit and vegetables, exercise and have just a few sexual partners over a lifetime (I’m talking professional elites nor celebrities or politicians).

    They follow the old disciplines while in their professions working to undermine discipline in the masses by selling them junk and destroying whatever solidarities they have built up.

    Read More
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  41. Miro23 says:
    @RudyM
    You grossly underestimate the value of the internet. In the past I might have read a news story and then possibly read something debunking it a few years later, or, at best, a month later, in some news magazine. Now, within 24 hours, I often have multiple analyses and commentaries on that news story. I could never have afforded to subscribe to enough magazines to provide that many alternative accounts of things, had they even existed.

    You also underestimate the degree to which individuals can pick and choose how much they are absorbed into the more negative aspects of these new technologies. I spend an enormous amount of time online, but I don't have any social media accounts at all. I don't have any "devices" aside from my desktop. Maybe the ability of individuals to pick and choose is beside the point when you are looking at large social trends, but don't "we" me. You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations.

    Agree that a lot of reading is being transferred from paper to screens. Unz is a good example with the advantage of multiple viewpoints + discussion that was lacking in newspapers/magazines-

    But there is the problem that it reduces book reading time which IMO is still the best way to tackle subjects in depth. Personally, I don’t like electronic books, and a minority pleasure is reading a book as it was first issued e.g. Arthur Bryant’s “Unfinished Victory” Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1940. It’s something to do with the typeface, paper and smell – almost like you’re in 1940.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dan
    And no "Introduction" by a wordy academic or other "prominent" figure giving his or her take on the tome. I love original editions.
    , @Andre Citroen
    Exactly. I'm 69 and read constantly whether a book or an article on-screen, but there is no substitution for an actual used book.
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  42. Wally says:
    @Colin Wright
    'that’s actually the whole point here, and a very profound one it is – we of the non-ruling class are pretty much completely fragmented...'

    I'm constitutionally skeptical of conspiracy theories -- but I think you do have a point. The internet does lead to fragmentation, and absent any coherent public consensus, it should become easier for organized cliques to put over their agenda. They may or may not have intended to bring this about, but they are certainly in a position to take advantage.

    ‘Conspiracies’ are proven in courts around the world every day.

    Don’t take the bait.

    Cheers.

    http://www.codoh.com

    Read More
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  43. Wally says:
    @Kratoklastes

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of “friends” who constantly “like” your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you’re a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers.
     
    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it. So it should be no surprise that the people who bother to indulge in that sort of shit are the people with zero intellectual capital, and zero chance of building any.

    The media generally has long understood that you can get stupid people (people of intelligence near the median) to participate in stupid shit just by repetition.

    It's why laugh tracks exist - dummies are encouraged to believe that they're missing out on a joke if they don't laugh. (It works on semi-smart people too - people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to 'get it' makes them seem sophisticated).

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are 'cute' (or whatever-the-fuck); it's like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody's allowed to slap them.

    Anyhow... I'm fortunate in that I come from misanthropic stock, so 'social fragmentation and alienation' suits me just fine. Back when we were kids, my father would rather have had his teeth pulled, than to socialise - we didn't have barbeques that involved anyone other than our family (and maybe 1 or 2 friends). I inherited that, and I don't regret it one little bit.

    I would put it down to Dad having been in he Army most of his life, but his Dad (my "Big Grandad") was the same and Big Grandad was never in the military. None of us have ever invested any emotional energy in trying to maintain more than about 5 good friends (where "good friend" means "will grab a beer together after work on Friday, but will not bother me at any other time").

    My Mum's Dad wasn't a misanthrope, and was hugely popular, but the only time he socialised was at tribal gatherings. His wife and family were the people he wanted to spend his spare time with (he was a person to emulate, my "Little Grandad").

    Weirdly, The Lovely's father is more or less the same.

    said:
    “It works on semi-smart people too – people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to ‘get it’ makes them seem sophisticated.”

    Bingooooo!

    http://www.codoh.com

    Read More
    • Replies: @Carroll Price
    Modern art works the same way. Worthless pieces of "art" suddenly become attractive and expensive if a celebrity says they like it.
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  44. Anon[262] • Disclaimer says:
    @Colin Wright
    Oh well now...

    I dunno. I'm sixty. Today I was in a big hardware store in Eugene, Oregon. There was this plump little clerk...how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    Life goes on.

    how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Colin Wright
    'How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?'

    Of course the clerk was female. I guess my age is showing; it seemed unnecessary to state that.
    , @Colin Wright
    'How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?'

    And here I'd decided it was unnecessary to specify the clerk was female.
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  45. @Low Voltage
    I thought it was just the city I lived in that had so many non-profits. Maybe they're everywhere? You know the Empire is rotten to the core when the capitalist system has to create "non-profits" to keep the unemployable college graduates off the streets.

    You know the Empire is rotten to the core when the capitalist system has to create “non-profits” to keep the unemployable college graduates off the streets.

    We live in a post-scarcity society. Most human beings are surplus to requirement and exist only to consume and drive more consumption. What “productive” job should they do?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Low Voltage
    Well, for starters, we could build a high-speed rail system throughout North America. Functional mass transit systems in every city. We could have a real space program. We could grow more labor-intensive organic food. How about building some modern high-density cities in Wyoming or the Dakotas?

    Maybe there's no scarcity in your life, but I know people who work 40 hours/week and have next to nothing. Unless you consider a GMO diet and owning a smartphone to be a full life?
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  46. @RudyM

    Take our song lyrics, which are no longer required to make sense, as long as the beat is righteous.
     
    Not only that but there's all this music that doesn't have words at all. A lot of jazz and classical music is that way. So that music must be for real dummies.

    God, why do I end up reading your articles? I guess it's partly the Philadelphia reference points.

    Commercial song lyrics haven’t been required to make sense since about 1955 (“A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo”) or so, and a lot of folk songs are pure nonsense. Not Dinh’s most incisive comment, I agree.

    Read More
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  47. @Gary
    Taught at an inner-city high school for decades until I retired. Official drop-out was 10%
    because most students who dropped out were officially transferred to continuation schools
    so technically they were NOT drop-outs. ACTUAL DROP OUT RATE was 80%. Most were functionally illiterate. Even most graduates needed help filling out job
    applications, writing formal letters, etc. Boys read the sports pages and girls the
    fashion magazines. Literacy was largely confined to picture captions of those publications.

    I taught at an open enrollment (mid-West/rust belt city) university committed to “diversity” and so it admitted any and every unqualified minority it could find. It enrolled them in stooge degree programs like “Organizational Leadership,” took their tuition money and gave them degrees that were equivalent in value to the knowledge and skills they had acquired after 5 0r 6 years of seat warming. In one undergraduate, senior level course I taught in political theory, I had a student taking the class for graduate credit (she had been given a BS degree from this university). She could not even write a coherent, grammatical sentence, much less a paragraph. I cannot imagine that she had a clue about the assigned reading, assuming that she even attempted to make it through.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    I'll pile on here - I taught at a "Group of 8" university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modelling.

    To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide - which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was.

    I didn't have to explain it to them as part of the syllabus (it was assumed that they ought to know these things), but in response to "What is that?" questions from students once each was written on the whiteboard.

    So in fifteen years, maths pedagogy in high schools had degenerated to the point where something that a student needed to know Year 9 (lest they fail)... could now be ignored, and the student could still graduate Year 12 and enter a prestigious university in a course that required 'outstanding' results in Mathematics.

    inb4 "logarithms and exponentiation are too abstruse to be good benchmarks".

    I agree, if we're talking about everyday schlubs (B students and below) - they need only commit these things to memory for the exam, and can then go on with their lives. So it would be unreasonable to expect them to remember any of the syllabus more than two weeks after the exam. But 'my' kids were notionally A students.

    Dropout rates in the Monash economics/commerce/ finance/accounting streams was about 20% per year; failure rates were slightly higher. Faculty-wide - i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing - the dropout rate was less than 12%.

    And yet... in my Honours class there were people who bleated like lambs when the Macroeconomics syllabus included a variety of introductory "modern" macro models (like Ramsay-Cass-Koopmans); these people had been able to finagle their way past the mathematics in 1st- to 3rd year, but were all at sea when they had to brush off their integral calculus.

    So don't let's pretend that the enstupidation we are all moaning about is only happening in the 'submerged tenth', or 'below the median' or among our dusky-skinned chums. It is happening everywhere, because high-school teaching is an employer of last resort that only attracts the very bottom of the distribution of students who graduate from a university.

    Any why does no person of even mediocre talent want to be a high school teacher?

    Easy: more than half of all high school students are there because it's compulsory. They would rather be somewhere else, doing something else: being forced to be there, they are under no sense of compulsion to contribute (or to refrain from disrupting).

    This is why the average high school teacher has changed significantly. When I was at high school (1970s/80s), the gender ratio was roughly 60/40 (women taught English, French, Social Studies and sometimes Chemistry; men taught Physics, Maths, PhysEd and 'shop'); and most teachers were married.

    Today, the archetypal teacher is an obese woman in her early 40s, whose educational outcomes are close to (or below) the median, and whose personal life is in absolute disarray.

    Little wonder our children isn't learning.
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  48. @anonymous

    Our physical degradation is nothing compared to our mental derangement. Take our song lyrics, which are no longer required to make sense, as long as the beat is
     
    The music being pushed isn't music at all. This rap garbage is anti-social, ugly cultural and moral contamination. If the common culture, what there is of it, is undermined then the society degenerates and eventually disintegrates. There is no art or music being produced these days except in small amounts by bitter clingers. It's mostly just commercial mind-rot, opium for the children. Music and art are the canaries in the coal mine.

    Exactly! The best definition of rap, hip-hop I’ve come across — “degenerate filth that has brutalized generations into thinking that the activities of the criminal class are somehow cool.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dan
    A retired spook I read from time to time once commented that rap is the perfect psyop in that it gets people to celebrate their own inanity. He didn't have any firsthand information that it is in fact a psychological operation, but given how easily the rigid hierarchical structures we live under are manipulated, it wouldn't be at all surprising.
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  49. Ishmael says:

    I miss the old Philly Inquirer. That used to be a paper you could sink your teeth into, especially the Sunday edition. Today’s version reads like all the other big city papers in America, which is to say some trite two-paragraph stories and celebrity photos acting as filler around the ubiquitous alleged holocaust feature.

    I’ve taken to reading foreign papers almost exclusively in the last year and it’s helped me stay sane. My reading (and re-reading) list of books leans more and more toward 17th to early 20th century. I get starved for good prose and that’s a hunger that is almost impossible to satisfy with current American fare. My 90-year-old mother reads at least six books every two weeks, and she herself has switched exclusively to foreign writers, her constant complaint being that either Americans can no longer write or the ones who can are no longer getting published.

    There was a time you could dive into American culture. These days, it’s a cesspool I run away from.

    Although I don’t mind getting a dispatch once in a while from Linh Dinh, even if it’s just to assure me that things haven’t changed, or are in fact getting worse.

    Good article indeed!

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  50. Dinh sadly observes with a sigh:
    The end of our language is nigh.
    “Ain’t nobody” now
    Writes good English no how,
    And Springsteen’s a good reason why.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JackOH
    Eustace, I'll see you and raise:

    The clock tick-tocks, says Dinh,
    for America's prospects are dim.
    With Asia resplendent,
    and Europe co-dependent,
    will White dudes expire en fin?

    Morning coffee's working its magic. Cheers, all.
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  51. JackOH says:
    @Eustace Tilley (not)
    Dinh sadly observes with a sigh:
    The end of our language is nigh.
    "Ain't nobody" now
    Writes good English no how,
    And Springsteen's a good reason why.

    Eustace, I’ll see you and raise:

    The clock tick-tocks, says Dinh,
    for America’s prospects are dim.
    With Asia resplendent,
    and Europe co-dependent,
    will White dudes expire en fin?

    Morning coffee’s working its magic. Cheers, all.

    Read More
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  52. anonymous[739] • Disclaimer says:

    Depressing, but it seems to be an honest call.

    I’m 56, I’ve always detested the “American” mass media especially preaching Lib Leftist TV news. I remember Chicago in 1968 with the as bad as it gets Anti War rioters – Abby Hoffman, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd etc also the Black race riots in places like Newark and Detroit with the American mass media spinning these horrible, criminal riots as “protests” or “uprisings against poverty and injustice – yeah right.

    I look at Watergate as a virtual coup de tat by New Times and Washington Post Red Diaper babies Woodward and Bernstein.

    But…..

    I’ve always admired the printed word and love newspapers especially the letters to the editor section. My favorite political, cultural magazine was The Atlantic Magazine in the early 1990s – lots of great, honest reporting and commentary from an honest secular Liberal perspective – which is basically my own perspective.

    Now this is mostly all gone. The Atlantic Magazine is just a PC, anti White, cult Marxist with some Neo Conservative Zionists spins. The Atlantic Magazine no longer allows comments or letters to the editor.

    CNN is 24/7 “We hate Trump, we hate Trump supporters, We hate Vladimir Putin, we hate the Russians and all remaining European nationalists”. CNN is like having Jeff Zucker or Harvey Weinstein or AIPAC lobbyists camped in your living room and they won’t leave or won’t shut up. They are always lying.

    Feels like we’re going down in to a Dark Age, but there have been many dark ages before like the Middle Ages where the only people that knew how to read were Catholic Monks. The higher caste Hindus believe that we are in the final dark age of Kali Yuga and nothing can be done but to awake the last incarnation of Vishnu – Kalki who will destroy the entire evil corrupt world and kill everyone with a cleansing fire.

    In such times maybe we should be building monasteries places to retreat.

    I also highly highly recumbent the electronic weapon:

    “TV B GONE”

    It zaps off TVs everywhere and I use it excessively in my health club as the owner is a blood relative of Time Warner Inc’s Gerald Levin and has some deal that he forces everyone to watch CNN – not me.

    Read More
    • Agree: Colin Wright
    • Replies: @njguy73
    Boy, being six years old and living through the year of assassinations and riots. I don't know if I could trust anyone.
    , @Logan
    I too miss the old Atlantic. Didn't always agree with it, but it was intelligent and not visibly biased.
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  53. Anonymous[266] • Disclaimer says:
    @Batman
    Beautiful. Please don't move to Vietnam. But you left out software from the list of contemplative arts. Some of us unemployed programmers still want to practice it even for free. Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don't have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

    Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don’t have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

    But subsequent generations will end up in places like Newton, Massachusetts or Bethesda, Maryland after their elite education and adopt SJW politics and voting patterns. Though maybe it’ll preserve places like Flushing, Queens somewhat, for a while.

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  54. njguy73 says:
    @Dr. Doom
    What? Nothing about "diversity"? Lying by omission? Maybe just clueless. What is hard to understand? Even Chris Rock was willing to say books were like Kryptonite to blacks. I think maybe literacy causes erectile dysfunction in them. Something about written symbols makes them go flaccid and lose interest in life.
    Lets not forget the great literary tradition of Mestizos. You can see it in the poorly done graffitti that is claimed to be some form or art, or perhaps an attempt to obscure accumulations of filth and feces maybe? Those great liquor ads with one or two words and a half naked woman holding a bottle in her hand like a girlfriend who doesn't want to get preggers or something.
    If you want to appeal to the Mestizos, you have to drop all those explanations, and facts, and add half naked women and phallic shaped alcohol containers. Tell your fishwrap friends to get rid of those opinion pieces and that stuff about philosophy, politics, numbers, background and other erudite egghead stuff, and go more naked women and phallic bottles of alcohol. Drop that world view stuff and talk entirely about boxing and pro wrestling, stay away from anything to do with ghey and go full macho sexist women should be barefoot and pregnant. You can make a small and meager living with that probably.

    Chris Rock said that Black people do read. But he added that books are like Kryptonite to certain types of Blacks, a subset Rock labelled with a certain word I won’t use.

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  55. njguy73 says:
    @anonymous
    Depressing, but it seems to be an honest call.

    I'm 56, I've always detested the "American" mass media especially preaching Lib Leftist TV news. I remember Chicago in 1968 with the as bad as it gets Anti War rioters - Abby Hoffman, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd etc also the Black race riots in places like Newark and Detroit with the American mass media spinning these horrible, criminal riots as "protests" or "uprisings against poverty and injustice - yeah right.

    I look at Watergate as a virtual coup de tat by New Times and Washington Post Red Diaper babies Woodward and Bernstein.

    But.....

    I've always admired the printed word and love newspapers especially the letters to the editor section. My favorite political, cultural magazine was The Atlantic Magazine in the early 1990s - lots of great, honest reporting and commentary from an honest secular Liberal perspective - which is basically my own perspective.

    Now this is mostly all gone. The Atlantic Magazine is just a PC, anti White, cult Marxist with some Neo Conservative Zionists spins. The Atlantic Magazine no longer allows comments or letters to the editor.

    CNN is 24/7 "We hate Trump, we hate Trump supporters, We hate Vladimir Putin, we hate the Russians and all remaining European nationalists". CNN is like having Jeff Zucker or Harvey Weinstein or AIPAC lobbyists camped in your living room and they won't leave or won't shut up. They are always lying.

    Feels like we're going down in to a Dark Age, but there have been many dark ages before like the Middle Ages where the only people that knew how to read were Catholic Monks. The higher caste Hindus believe that we are in the final dark age of Kali Yuga and nothing can be done but to awake the last incarnation of Vishnu - Kalki who will destroy the entire evil corrupt world and kill everyone with a cleansing fire.

    In such times maybe we should be building monasteries places to retreat.

    I also highly highly recumbent the electronic weapon:

    "TV B GONE"

    It zaps off TVs everywhere and I use it excessively in my health club as the owner is a blood relative of Time Warner Inc's Gerald Levin and has some deal that he forces everyone to watch CNN - not me.

    Boy, being six years old and living through the year of assassinations and riots. I don’t know if I could trust anyone.

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  56. Hi Linh,

    Article brilliant, the title “Postliterate America” is to be mourned for what was once and now gone.

    Fyi, a couple years ago, inside my family home that is no more, you might recall a conversation & a corresponding NYT book review clipping?

    With T.S. Eliot and an an American culture lost a model , the book reviewer wrote about Eliot as having rock star status during post-WWII times.

    In 1950, two years prior to my Scranton birth, T.S. Eliot appeared on Time magazine cover.

    Perhaps unnecessary, but following is a refresher course, Linh:
    Several years later, at University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena, 14,000 people attended a talk delivered by T.S. Eliot, called “The Frontiers of Criticism.”

    These i-phone days along with immeasurable accessibility to pop music and porn, I cynically sense had 14,000 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre High School & college students assembled for a (mandatory) T.S. Eliot reading at the Toyota Pavilion, inattention and sleep would be the norm.

    Below is the NYT book review.

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/books/16kaku.html

    Also Linh, my effort to get my “life back” has taken additional setback. Th

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  57. Truth says:
    @Colin Wright
    Oh well now...

    I dunno. I'm sixty. Today I was in a big hardware store in Eugene, Oregon. There was this plump little clerk...how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    Life goes on.

    Hey Colin, he was probably spending a little time in the gym.

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  58. Truth says:
    @Pat Boyle
    I try to read two books a week or so, but still probably read more text online than on the page. I read a chapter in a Victor Davis Hanson book this morning while defecating. That done I am now reading this blog from PC screen.

    I see a trend for people like me to watch YouTube videos rather than reading books. I've read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I've also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He's about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.

    I read a chapter in a Victor Davis Hanson book this morning while defecating.

    I guess Linhjo is right, the baby boomers dying is definitely going to leave a chasm in erudition and class.

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  59. Truth says:
    @manorchurch

    I’ve read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I’ve also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He’s about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.
     
    There isn't anything actually wrong with video lectures. It is good, and sometimes useful information. However, it is a high-bandwidth, low data-density stream, compared to print, which is low-bandwidth, high data-density.

    IMO, the high levels of entertainment embedded in the delivery model require no intelligence, develop no mental ability, and exacerbate all human tendency to prefer intellectual fat and sugar to the protein that is knowledge. Can bridges be built with suet and chocolate cream pie?

    Progress is not a product of lazy afternoons watching soap operas, drinking beer, and talking on the phone.

    Progress is not a product of lazy afternoons watching soap operas, drinking beer, and talking on the phone.

    That’s an odd combination there. I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who partakes in all three of these hobbies.

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  60. @Duncan
    Thanks Mr. Dinh for another excellent picture capturing the spirit of modern America. Much better than your last.
    I should like to add, society is influenced by determining points. If only 40% of the men in a society own and control the means of production, that society will be a much freer place than a society where the means of production are concentrated in the hands of a few. Likewise, in a society where the channels of information are dispersed amongst a multitude, it will be be a much more informed society than one in which the flow of information is in the hands of a few.
    Sadly, and strangely, here in America, the channels of information are virtually wide open, but the vast mass of the people simply aren't interested.
    It's a curious devolution. Anyone can access from a variety of outlets a whole host of information. But the majority of Americans simply aren't interested.
    I don't get it.
    We're heading into unchartered waters, where people don't know they don't know.
    Very strange indeed.

    They are lazy and prefer delusions over reality and as society crumbles around them the further down the rabbit hole they desperately crawl. They are addicted to “being happy” and think if they do enough breathing exercises and stick enough positive affirmations on their fridge eternal happiness and bliss will beckon. Having their delusions challenged and being exposed to reality, no matter how briefly, scares them more than anything else in the world.

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  61. @Anon

    how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?
     
    How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?

    ‘How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?’

    Of course the clerk was female. I guess my age is showing; it seemed unnecessary to state that.

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  62. @Anon

    how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?
     
    How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?

    ‘How did you get to sixty years and not realise you were homosexual?’

    And here I’d decided it was unnecessary to specify the clerk was female.

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  63. I’m a bit suspicious of Dinh’s choice of residence.

    Anyone could sit around Philadelphia and get depressed about America. There are other awful places as well — but Philadelphia?

    Speaking for myself, I’ve decamped to rural Oregon. It’s pretty encouraging.

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  64. @Peter Akuleyev
    You know the Empire is rotten to the core when the capitalist system has to create “non-profits” to keep the unemployable college graduates off the streets.

    We live in a post-scarcity society. Most human beings are surplus to requirement and exist only to consume and drive more consumption. What "productive" job should they do?

    Well, for starters, we could build a high-speed rail system throughout North America. Functional mass transit systems in every city. We could have a real space program. We could grow more labor-intensive organic food. How about building some modern high-density cities in Wyoming or the Dakotas?

    Maybe there’s no scarcity in your life, but I know people who work 40 hours/week and have next to nothing. Unless you consider a GMO diet and owning a smartphone to be a full life?

    Read More
    • Replies: @JerseyJeffersonian
    Mostly good ideas, but I would demur on the high-density cities in Wyoming and the Dakotas; this would just be a bonanza for real estate grifters, impose a burden on available resources, and be a magnet for still more people in areas blessedly free from most of these ills. We don't need anymore high-density cities, particularly not in areas such as these. Improving the livability of those cities we already have seems more the way to go to me.
    , @anarchyst
    "Mass transit" is a failure almost everywhere it is tried in America. Our wide-open spaces and the availability of automobiles makes mass transit viable only in large concentrated urban areas, such as New York City and Chicago.
    The automobile has been one of the most liberating inventions as it makes one independent of timetables and schedules, and allows one to haul more than a handful of items--going wherever you want, whenever you want.
    Here in Detroit, the "Q-line" is a newly-installed train system that connects downtown Detroit with the Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, and the New Center area. For the first few months, it was "free"--no fares. Ever since fares were established, ridership has gone down.
    In most cities, mass transit benefits fewer people than it needs to remain viable.
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  65. Talha says:

    Mr. Dinh – one of your best and that is no small feat.

    May God grant you many more years to write and remind us to be mindful of those less fortunate than us and to hope and do something to at least hold on to the great things about our culture before it leaves us.

    Also, I don’t know if it’s your intention, but you’ve planted a desire in me to someday travel out to that great american city of Philly. For that, the local tourist industry can thank you. ;)

    Peace.

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    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    Hi Talha,

    If you can get to Philly before August 5th, we can down a few at Nickels, Fatsos, O'Jung, Friendly or Sit On It!

    Linh
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  66. Can’t share Linh Dinh’s grief because of the virtual death of the Inky. I lived in Philly 1991-95 and read the Inky. I did not read the local gossip parts, but I read the world news. I remember believing Inky’s stories about the anti-Yeltsin revolt in 1993 in Moscow and the war in Yugoslavia. Now I have independent sources of info (not MSM), both the actual witnesses and the Internet. So, I know that the stories Inky told back then ranged from lies to blatant lies. If it’s dying or dead, I can only say “good riddance”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JerseyJeffersonian
    You do have a point, but among all of the hegemony-serving lies, there was still journalism being practiced. I specifically recall the series, later to be a book, America: What Went Wrong, documenting the hollowing out of industrial America through finance-driven leveraged buyouts, and the packing up and shipping overseas of entire factories, factories which were still productive, but low-hanging fruit for New York/Boston private equity types. And the locals were left with nothing.

    That was then, but now the Inquirer is a totally disgusting rag for the promotion of SJW "values", Hate YT propaganda, and largely composed of increasingly degraded writing and subject matter when it is not merely reprints of articles from the AP and the Washington Post. It is only a matter of time until I pull the plug on our subscription, as I have grown very weary with being insulted and demonized as a man of European-American heritage.
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  67. prusmc says: • Website
    @bartok

    two Temple journalism students, Amelia Burns and Erin Moran
     
    When an occupation declines in pay and importance, it is taken over by women. Or, when an occupation is taken over by women, it declines in pay and importance.

    What do these new graduates have that gets them to be hired an industry that has an abundent quantity of under employed, experienced professionals willing to work for low salaries? Inquiring minds want to know.

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  68. Patricus says:
    @RudyM
    You grossly underestimate the value of the internet. In the past I might have read a news story and then possibly read something debunking it a few years later, or, at best, a month later, in some news magazine. Now, within 24 hours, I often have multiple analyses and commentaries on that news story. I could never have afforded to subscribe to enough magazines to provide that many alternative accounts of things, had they even existed.

    You also underestimate the degree to which individuals can pick and choose how much they are absorbed into the more negative aspects of these new technologies. I spend an enormous amount of time online, but I don't have any social media accounts at all. I don't have any "devices" aside from my desktop. Maybe the ability of individuals to pick and choose is beside the point when you are looking at large social trends, but don't "we" me. You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations.

    I have to second your opinion about the value of the internet. Decades back I subscribed to three newspapers and a dozen monthly magazines. Today I have access to far more information on my desktop and tablet. The comments add to the value of an article even though most comments are idiotic. I am getting to the point where I won’t read an author with no comments section.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    The absence of a comment section is evidence of a desire to control the narrative arc; it is a very clear indicator that the site is not to be trusted.

    Legacy media (with some exceptions) is used to a 'top down' model - where they ladle out whatever shit they feel like, and the readers read it (or more frequently, do not), with selective feedback in 'letters to the editor'. That's not good enough these days: in an arbitrarily-selected readership there will, usually, be at least one person whose expertise in the subject matter is superior to that of the author - and the ability of people like that to comment, far exceeds the downside of the rest of the snark and nonsense (although snark and nonsense can be entertaining).
    .

    I have noticed that even TakiMag has gone the "Letters" (i.e., delayed, 'curated' feedback) route - which means that someone in Taki's organisation has an agenda (almost certainly not the naughty Greek boy - he could not give a fuck either way, as befits a genuine grownup).

    So now I just don't go there - I get RSS feeds of the columnists whose stuff I read as a matter of course (Jim Goad, David Cole, Theodore Dalrymple, Joe Bob Briggs etc), and thus far I have not experienced a deep existential crisis - or even a vague ennui - at having missed something. If I swoon later today, or get the vapours... well, I'll update this comment (once I rise from my chaise longue).
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  69. @Stephen Paul Foster
    I taught at an open enrollment (mid-West/rust belt city) university committed to "diversity" and so it admitted any and every unqualified minority it could find. It enrolled them in stooge degree programs like "Organizational Leadership," took their tuition money and gave them degrees that were equivalent in value to the knowledge and skills they had acquired after 5 0r 6 years of seat warming. In one undergraduate, senior level course I taught in political theory, I had a student taking the class for graduate credit (she had been given a BS degree from this university). She could not even write a coherent, grammatical sentence, much less a paragraph. I cannot imagine that she had a clue about the assigned reading, assuming that she even attempted to make it through.

    I’ll pile on here – I taught at a “Group of 8″ university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modelling.

    To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide – which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was.

    I didn’t have to explain it to them as part of the syllabus (it was assumed that they ought to know these things), but in response to “What is that?” questions from students once each was written on the whiteboard.

    So in fifteen years, maths pedagogy in high schools had degenerated to the point where something that a student needed to know Year 9 (lest they fail)… could now be ignored, and the student could still graduate Year 12 and enter a prestigious university in a course that required ‘outstanding’ results in Mathematics.

    inb4 “logarithms and exponentiation are too abstruse to be good benchmarks“.

    I agree, if we’re talking about everyday schlubs (B students and below) – they need only commit these things to memory for the exam, and can then go on with their lives. So it would be unreasonable to expect them to remember any of the syllabus more than two weeks after the exam. But ‘my’ kids were notionally A students.

    Dropout rates in the Monash economics/commerce/ finance/accounting streams was about 20% per year; failure rates were slightly higher. Faculty-wide – i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing – the dropout rate was less than 12%.

    And yet… in my Honours class there were people who bleated like lambs when the Macroeconomics syllabus included a variety of introductory “modern” macro models (like Ramsay-Cass-Koopmans); these people had been able to finagle their way past the mathematics in 1st- to 3rd year, but were all at sea when they had to brush off their integral calculus.

    So don’t let’s pretend that the enstupidation we are all moaning about is only happening in the ‘submerged tenth’, or ‘below the median’ or among our dusky-skinned chums. It is happening everywhere, because high-school teaching is an employer of last resort that only attracts the very bottom of the distribution of students who graduate from a university.

    Any why does no person of even mediocre talent want to be a high school teacher?

    Easy: more than half of all high school students are there because it’s compulsory. They would rather be somewhere else, doing something else: being forced to be there, they are under no sense of compulsion to contribute (or to refrain from disrupting).

    This is why the average high school teacher has changed significantly. When I was at high school (1970s/80s), the gender ratio was roughly 60/40 (women taught English, French, Social Studies and sometimes Chemistry; men taught Physics, Maths, PhysEd and ‘shop’); and most teachers were married.

    Today, the archetypal teacher is an obese woman in her early 40s, whose educational outcomes are close to (or below) the median, and whose personal life is in absolute disarray.

    Little wonder our children isn’t learning.

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    • Replies: @anonymous
    Kratoklastes says:

    "To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide – which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was."

    I respond:

    Can you please try to explain to us how 99% of our White people can have any practical use for these subjects - anything at all.

    I had to take all these high math, convoluted Economics courses as an Undergraduate at Vanderbilt BA History/Economics then again at the #1 MBA program in the USA Stern New York University.

    I had high SAT and GMAT scores.

    I never used any of this material in any real job and see Zero practical use of anything including all the things I had to do with that #*$&@ HP calculator without an "=" sign.

    And forcing our brightest White students to do all this pointless high Math and Economics only gets them to want to go to "elite" colleges and universities like Harvard and Yale and hang out with the likes of Ruth Bader Ginzberg and Elena Kagan.

    F$&$*#@ this.

    Let's get our bright young people to become crane operators, pipe fitters Union guys or elevator mechanics - these White trade union men are making $100,000 plus by the age of 20, plus these are fun jobs with very little or no feminist politics.

    It's no wonder the American White working man loves Trump and hates most all academics. I sure do.
    , @Miro23

    I’ll pile on here – I taught at a “Group of 8″ university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modeling.

    Faculty-wide – i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing
     
    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS - not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure - rather that "Economics" doesn't have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.

    Also, there are some remarkably good managers that make all the difference to a industry (e.g. Sam Walton's "Made in America" - actually Made in China - but never mind). https://www.amazon.com/Sam-Walton-Made-America/dp/0553562835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529450036&sr=8-1&keywords=made+in+america+sam+walton
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  70. @Low Voltage
    Well, for starters, we could build a high-speed rail system throughout North America. Functional mass transit systems in every city. We could have a real space program. We could grow more labor-intensive organic food. How about building some modern high-density cities in Wyoming or the Dakotas?

    Maybe there's no scarcity in your life, but I know people who work 40 hours/week and have next to nothing. Unless you consider a GMO diet and owning a smartphone to be a full life?

    Mostly good ideas, but I would demur on the high-density cities in Wyoming and the Dakotas; this would just be a bonanza for real estate grifters, impose a burden on available resources, and be a magnet for still more people in areas blessedly free from most of these ills. We don’t need anymore high-density cities, particularly not in areas such as these. Improving the livability of those cities we already have seems more the way to go to me.

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    • Agree: RadicalCenter
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  71. @AnonFromTN
    Can’t share Linh Dinh’s grief because of the virtual death of the Inky. I lived in Philly 1991-95 and read the Inky. I did not read the local gossip parts, but I read the world news. I remember believing Inky’s stories about the anti-Yeltsin revolt in 1993 in Moscow and the war in Yugoslavia. Now I have independent sources of info (not MSM), both the actual witnesses and the Internet. So, I know that the stories Inky told back then ranged from lies to blatant lies. If it’s dying or dead, I can only say “good riddance”.

    You do have a point, but among all of the hegemony-serving lies, there was still journalism being practiced. I specifically recall the series, later to be a book, America: What Went Wrong, documenting the hollowing out of industrial America through finance-driven leveraged buyouts, and the packing up and shipping overseas of entire factories, factories which were still productive, but low-hanging fruit for New York/Boston private equity types. And the locals were left with nothing.

    That was then, but now the Inquirer is a totally disgusting rag for the promotion of SJW “values”, Hate YT propaganda, and largely composed of increasingly degraded writing and subject matter when it is not merely reprints of articles from the AP and the Washington Post. It is only a matter of time until I pull the plug on our subscription, as I have grown very weary with being insulted and demonized as a man of European-American heritage.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
    Thanks for the info! I expected as much, although I did not read Inky since 1995. So, it went the way of NYT, Washington Post, and other disgusting “lefty” rugs and keeps spreading lowbrow lies.
    , @RadicalCenter
    Go for it, dude, pull the plug on the Inquirer already -- and your TV too, while you're at it.
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  72. anonymous[739] • Disclaimer says:
    @Kratoklastes
    I'll pile on here - I taught at a "Group of 8" university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modelling.

    To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide - which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was.

    I didn't have to explain it to them as part of the syllabus (it was assumed that they ought to know these things), but in response to "What is that?" questions from students once each was written on the whiteboard.

    So in fifteen years, maths pedagogy in high schools had degenerated to the point where something that a student needed to know Year 9 (lest they fail)... could now be ignored, and the student could still graduate Year 12 and enter a prestigious university in a course that required 'outstanding' results in Mathematics.

    inb4 "logarithms and exponentiation are too abstruse to be good benchmarks".

    I agree, if we're talking about everyday schlubs (B students and below) - they need only commit these things to memory for the exam, and can then go on with their lives. So it would be unreasonable to expect them to remember any of the syllabus more than two weeks after the exam. But 'my' kids were notionally A students.

    Dropout rates in the Monash economics/commerce/ finance/accounting streams was about 20% per year; failure rates were slightly higher. Faculty-wide - i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing - the dropout rate was less than 12%.

    And yet... in my Honours class there were people who bleated like lambs when the Macroeconomics syllabus included a variety of introductory "modern" macro models (like Ramsay-Cass-Koopmans); these people had been able to finagle their way past the mathematics in 1st- to 3rd year, but were all at sea when they had to brush off their integral calculus.

    So don't let's pretend that the enstupidation we are all moaning about is only happening in the 'submerged tenth', or 'below the median' or among our dusky-skinned chums. It is happening everywhere, because high-school teaching is an employer of last resort that only attracts the very bottom of the distribution of students who graduate from a university.

    Any why does no person of even mediocre talent want to be a high school teacher?

    Easy: more than half of all high school students are there because it's compulsory. They would rather be somewhere else, doing something else: being forced to be there, they are under no sense of compulsion to contribute (or to refrain from disrupting).

    This is why the average high school teacher has changed significantly. When I was at high school (1970s/80s), the gender ratio was roughly 60/40 (women taught English, French, Social Studies and sometimes Chemistry; men taught Physics, Maths, PhysEd and 'shop'); and most teachers were married.

    Today, the archetypal teacher is an obese woman in her early 40s, whose educational outcomes are close to (or below) the median, and whose personal life is in absolute disarray.

    Little wonder our children isn't learning.

    Kratoklastes says:

    “To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide – which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was.”

    I respond:

    Can you please try to explain to us how 99% of our White people can have any practical use for these subjects – anything at all.

    I had to take all these high math, convoluted Economics courses as an Undergraduate at Vanderbilt BA History/Economics then again at the #1 MBA program in the USA Stern New York University.

    I had high SAT and GMAT scores.

    I never used any of this material in any real job and see Zero practical use of anything including all the things I had to do with that #*$&@ HP calculator without an “=” sign.

    And forcing our brightest White students to do all this pointless high Math and Economics only gets them to want to go to “elite” colleges and universities like Harvard and Yale and hang out with the likes of Ruth Bader Ginzberg and Elena Kagan.

    F$&$*#@ this.

    Let’s get our bright young people to become crane operators, pipe fitters Union guys or elevator mechanics – these White trade union men are making $100,000 plus by the age of 20, plus these are fun jobs with very little or no feminist politics.

    It’s no wonder the American White working man loves Trump and hates most all academics. I sure do.

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    • Replies: @Kratoklastes

    I never used any of this material in any real job
     
    Then it's likely you weren't employed in a field that was in the same domain as your training. If you had been, there would have been several dozen times a month where you needed to understand some of the foundational stuff (algebra, calculus - even geometry) in order to properly understand what was being put in front of you.

    It is absolutely true that when it comes to pedagogy, the "quant" side of economics is over-emphasised. That's because it's easy to teach, and (far more relevant) easy to mark.

    As I've said before, an exam question like

    "Derive the demand equations for a rational consumer with budget Y facing a price vector P = {p_i}, with a CES utility function in X={x_i}"

     

    The answer is ~10 lines of alegbra (maximum), there is a single right answer, and so you can mark 100 students in a few minutes.

    (if this comment system had a math module I would be able to write the question out more clearly.)

    Conversely, if you set students an essay question, you have to wade through pages and pages of absolute horse-shit.

    And let's be frank: the goal of an academic institution (apart from making money) is to identify elite students.

    That's true at all levels: PhD coursework is an ordeal that exists for no other reason than to get non-elite candidates to abandon their course... thereby obviating a situation where some poor bastard has to read a shitty dissertation.

    The non-elite segment of each student body is just cannon fodder; nobody wants to know what a median second-year undergraduate thinks about Bretton-Woods, and nobody wants to see a median MBA student's stupid Excel spreadsheet on swap pricing.

    So you give everyone an ordeal that elite students find easy, and the non-elite students pay enough in fees for the university to have a new football stadium.

    As far as trades are concerned - I absolutely agree. People should tell their kids (especially their boys) that getting a trade is the absolutely easiest way to set yourself up for a comfortable life with relatively low stress and relatively high employability.

    If I had my time over again, I would have become a crane driver (particularly on the waterfront; the building industry is too cyclical).
    , @RadicalCenter
    Absolutely right. And for good-paying jobs that are in demand and look likely to remain in steady demand, without political garbage in the workplace, I'd add auto mechanics, welders, electricians, and plumbers.
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  73. Miro23 says:
    @Kratoklastes
    I'll pile on here - I taught at a "Group of 8" university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modelling.

    To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide - which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was.

    I didn't have to explain it to them as part of the syllabus (it was assumed that they ought to know these things), but in response to "What is that?" questions from students once each was written on the whiteboard.

    So in fifteen years, maths pedagogy in high schools had degenerated to the point where something that a student needed to know Year 9 (lest they fail)... could now be ignored, and the student could still graduate Year 12 and enter a prestigious university in a course that required 'outstanding' results in Mathematics.

    inb4 "logarithms and exponentiation are too abstruse to be good benchmarks".

    I agree, if we're talking about everyday schlubs (B students and below) - they need only commit these things to memory for the exam, and can then go on with their lives. So it would be unreasonable to expect them to remember any of the syllabus more than two weeks after the exam. But 'my' kids were notionally A students.

    Dropout rates in the Monash economics/commerce/ finance/accounting streams was about 20% per year; failure rates were slightly higher. Faculty-wide - i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing - the dropout rate was less than 12%.

    And yet... in my Honours class there were people who bleated like lambs when the Macroeconomics syllabus included a variety of introductory "modern" macro models (like Ramsay-Cass-Koopmans); these people had been able to finagle their way past the mathematics in 1st- to 3rd year, but were all at sea when they had to brush off their integral calculus.

    So don't let's pretend that the enstupidation we are all moaning about is only happening in the 'submerged tenth', or 'below the median' or among our dusky-skinned chums. It is happening everywhere, because high-school teaching is an employer of last resort that only attracts the very bottom of the distribution of students who graduate from a university.

    Any why does no person of even mediocre talent want to be a high school teacher?

    Easy: more than half of all high school students are there because it's compulsory. They would rather be somewhere else, doing something else: being forced to be there, they are under no sense of compulsion to contribute (or to refrain from disrupting).

    This is why the average high school teacher has changed significantly. When I was at high school (1970s/80s), the gender ratio was roughly 60/40 (women taught English, French, Social Studies and sometimes Chemistry; men taught Physics, Maths, PhysEd and 'shop'); and most teachers were married.

    Today, the archetypal teacher is an obese woman in her early 40s, whose educational outcomes are close to (or below) the median, and whose personal life is in absolute disarray.

    Little wonder our children isn't learning.

    I’ll pile on here – I taught at a “Group of 8″ university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modeling.

    Faculty-wide – i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing

    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS – not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure – rather that “Economics” doesn’t have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.

    Also, there are some remarkably good managers that make all the difference to a industry (e.g. Sam Walton’s “Made in America” – actually Made in China – but never mind). https://www.amazon.com/Sam-Walton-Made-America/dp/0553562835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529450036&sr=8-1&keywords=made+in+america+sam+walton

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    • Replies: @Kratoklastes

    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS – not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure – rather that “Economics” doesn’t have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.
     
    Economics doesn't have physical laws, but human beings have time-stable behaviour that generates things that are measurable: that's all you need in order for quantitative analysis to be useful.

    You don't have to be exactly right (not that engineering approaches get things right: the best example is mandatory seat-belt laws, and vehicle safety standards more broadly: economists rightly predicted that both would cause increases in pedestrian deaths because people would drive more recklessly if they felt safer).

    Getting the direction right will suffice (and it's signficantly harder than you might think).

    Getting the order of magnitude right would be better. Thankfully, it turns out that the right answer for almost all policies is "fuck all" - which is an answer that hand-waving essay writers will not write down, ever. For them the answer has to be "This is a great policy" if it's being promulgated by someone to whom the essay-writer is sympathetic, and "This is a shit policy that will kill children and set man against man" otherwise);

    Getting the distribution (i.e., the probability associated with different possible levels of outcome) is gold-standard - and is almost never done properly, because there are so few people capable of doing it right. "Systematic sensitivity analysis" is rarely done well, if at all.

    And, to put it mildly: analysing things quantitatively makes people write down their assumptions explicitly, and hold those assumptions 'for the duration' of their analysis.

    Contrast that with competitions between hand-waving essay-writers: all that matters is the reputation of the competing eminences grises, and people can change their assumptions mid-stream and wave away any suggestion that they've done so.

    One thing that quant-stuff enables, is a quick 'bullshit check': if someone claims that such-and-so a policy would generate a bajillion new jobs (and give everyone a golden unicorn that pisses Mountain Dew and shits Mars Bars)... well, you can examine what that would imply about the productivity of capital and labour in that industry, what the consequences would be for other industries that use similar inputs, and the effects on the trade balance... and so on.

    .

    So let's say a government says (in 2007/8)

    "We are going to build a national broadband network. It will provide a minimum of 12Mbps fibre to every household in the nation. It will be finished by 2018 and will cost $40 billion."

     

    Well, people like me knew immediately that a whole bunch of those numbers were lies.

    We knew, after less than an hour of doing some basic calculations, that it wold take twice as long; cost (at least) twice as much; be unable to provide the claimed speeds... and as a result it would be obsolete before it was finished.

    (Bear in mind, this "visionary" project had an aim that was the equivalent of South Korea's network in 2009: we were going to spend $40 billion, to have current tech in 10 years)

    Same was true with some cockamamie idea about a bullet train between Melbourne and Sydney (cost: $200 billion). We sat down over lunch and worked out how many fares you would have to sell to generate an investment-grade ROI on $200 billion... it was clear that there was no plausible combination of P and Q that gave anything but massive losses - before you even bothered about the costs of maintenance, employees and so forth.

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better - in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.

    Nobody who does quant well, pretends that it is sensible to report results to five decimal places.
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  74. @Kratoklastes

    On social media, you can filter/photoedit your pictures to make yourself look aesthetically perfect. You can get thousands of “friends” who constantly “like” your pictures. You can create a virtual world in which you’re a famous celebrity with beautiful looks, the perfect life, and hordes of admirers.
     
    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it. So it should be no surprise that the people who bother to indulge in that sort of shit are the people with zero intellectual capital, and zero chance of building any.

    The media generally has long understood that you can get stupid people (people of intelligence near the median) to participate in stupid shit just by repetition.

    It's why laugh tracks exist - dummies are encouraged to believe that they're missing out on a joke if they don't laugh. (It works on semi-smart people too - people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to 'get it' makes them seem sophisticated).

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are 'cute' (or whatever-the-fuck); it's like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody's allowed to slap them.

    Anyhow... I'm fortunate in that I come from misanthropic stock, so 'social fragmentation and alienation' suits me just fine. Back when we were kids, my father would rather have had his teeth pulled, than to socialise - we didn't have barbeques that involved anyone other than our family (and maybe 1 or 2 friends). I inherited that, and I don't regret it one little bit.

    I would put it down to Dad having been in he Army most of his life, but his Dad (my "Big Grandad") was the same and Big Grandad was never in the military. None of us have ever invested any emotional energy in trying to maintain more than about 5 good friends (where "good friend" means "will grab a beer together after work on Friday, but will not bother me at any other time").

    My Mum's Dad wasn't a misanthrope, and was hugely popular, but the only time he socialised was at tribal gatherings. His wife and family were the people he wanted to spend his spare time with (he was a person to emulate, my "Little Grandad").

    Weirdly, The Lovely's father is more or less the same.

    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it.

    Here’s what we have to remember.

    1. Modern society is wildly competitive. People are status-seeking to an extent that’s downright vulgar. Given that society gives status to those with attractive Social Media profiles, many people feel they can compete for some of this status by having a cool Instagram/Facebook/Twiter profile. Having a popular profile is like having a Mercedes Benz – it’s a status symbol. If you have 10,000 “Followers” on Instagram, you are a “winner” in the game of life.

    2. Sometimes it’s easier to achieve status online than in real life. For example, society gives enormous status to physically attractive people, but it’s not easy to be good looking. It requires exercise, a good diet, proper face creams, plastic surgery, dental work, etc. However, if you take pics of your average-looking face and then extensively photoedit those pics, you can suddenly become a model and get tons of “Likes” for pics of your suddenly handsome self.

    3. People seek validation. By allowing us to “Follow” and “Like” a picture, these various Social Media sites allow ordinary people to achieve constant validation. So you can take huge numbers of pics of your average-looking face, photoedit those pics to make them look handsome, upload the new pics, and then get huge numbers of “Likes” and new “Followers.” Win!

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are ‘cute’ (or whatever-the-fuck); it’s like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody’s allowed to slap them.

    You mean like this.

    Watch for 10 seconds from 0:38-0:48.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teeRdhjYm7g

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    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    I think your set of 3 'dot points' should have been 4 dot points: the first one should be "People in modern society have severely truncated horizons, and no conception of timescales longer than a week or so".

    Everything in the other 3 dot points requires that first dot point, in order to make sense.

    Temporary popularity is (roughly) a matter of luck; its monetary payoff is also a lottery. The average payoff is negative, and the modal payoff is -100% of the reources dedicated to the task.

    It's just young people being young people: nobody should pretend that it's a business model or contributes meaningfully to long-term life outcomes.

    Think about the post-TV lives of secondary characters on TV shows from the 60s and 70s - some guy who played a non-lead role in Gentle Ben or Flipper or Bonanza or Get Smart. Think about whether their localised, temporary celebrity gave them any 'leg up' in life: it didn't and those people were actually trained at something other than making duck impersonations in front of a mirror.

    .
    It's all 'truncated horizon' shit that people are supposed to grow out of in their mid-teens.

    After all, one day Kim Kardashian will be 50; she will either no longer be a public figure, or she will be a figure of ridicule, because she will turn onto one of those stupid women who fill their faces full of shit and wind up looking like a doll that has been left too close to a campfire.

    And my guess is that she will be poor by that time, as well, because it turns out that a very large proportion of people who fuel others' obsessions about wealth, are actually not wealthy at all: furthermore, they have gigantic retinues of fair-weather friends, draining any value that they can.

    Recently Wilbur Ross had to reveal that he's worth at least $2 billion less than he claimed (and Boris Becker is another good example: he recently became an African diplomat to avoid his creditors).
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  75. @Wayne
    I grew up in the late fifties and sixties. The beginning of this isolation trend was central air conditioning. Before AC folks went out on the porch in the evenings and conversed with neighbors. We kids played outside because it was too hot in the house. We interacted with the other kids in the neighborhood playing games and settling disputes where we learned how to interact with people.

    Good point. I think the huge number of amenities in our homes (air conditioners, tvs, video games, computers, social media, smartphones, IPODs, IPADs, DVD players, NetFlix, satellite channels, Youtube) have made people hesistant to go out. Those amenities also allow people to get in their entertainment, which means that you don’t actually need to friends to have fun anymore. Just have fun by yourself at home.

    Unfortunately, this destroys social networks.

    I also think that these various gadgets might provide short-term fun, but lack some of the long-term benefits and meaning that real life friendships can provide.

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    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    You're on to something, Johnny. In our household, there are two days every week (Sunday plus one) when nobody accesses the internet or touches any electronic device outside the workplace, whether iPad, iPhone, or TV / Xbox. Only exceptions are to answer a call or take photo/vid of the kids. We have never had cable/satellite or any other TV service during our marriage, either, and we never will.

    Perhaps we should increase the number of Net-free / device-free days. But how many supposedly family-oriented or conservative people are restricting their usage even this much? It's a big problem.
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  76. @manorchurch

    I’ve read all the recent genetics/anthropology books. But I’ve also watched a lot of videos by John Hawkes. He’s about the best respected early man anthropologist alive and he chooses to present the skulls and his work in the form of a video lecture. I suspect that this is the future.
     
    There isn't anything actually wrong with video lectures. It is good, and sometimes useful information. However, it is a high-bandwidth, low data-density stream, compared to print, which is low-bandwidth, high data-density.

    IMO, the high levels of entertainment embedded in the delivery model require no intelligence, develop no mental ability, and exacerbate all human tendency to prefer intellectual fat and sugar to the protein that is knowledge. Can bridges be built with suet and chocolate cream pie?

    Progress is not a product of lazy afternoons watching soap operas, drinking beer, and talking on the phone.

    No, what you’re describing is both the reason for and the result of progress, but you’re right that it’s not how progress is pursued.

    It may be precisely the overenthusiastic pursuit of progress that got our bodies here before our minds were ready. Giving us the means to make life easier and more efficient is like giving children cars and credit cards. Or maybe humans on the whole are simply inherently unable to cope with ease and plenty?

    Whatever the case, progress is not a solution in itself, and it’s certainly not a value worth sanctifying. Unchecked progress is as much a cancer of time as unchecked reproduction is a cancer of the population.

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    • Replies: @Miro23

    Or maybe humans on the whole are simply inherently unable to cope with ease and plenty?

     

    There's that natural human tendency to look for the easiest option. Since the onset of modern consumerism the whole process is aimed at making things easier, cheaper and more entertaining, so now we're surrounded by a mass of labour saving devices, on call entertainment and cheap and tasty food everywhere.

    At least in the UK of the 1950's this lifestyle wasn't available. Few people had cars, and mostly had to walk to bus stops or cycle. There weren't so many packaged foods, no supermarkets and meat and fats were expensive. Look at films or street scenes from the UK in the 1950's and there are plenty of fit people - and not through choice.
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  77. Miro23 says:
    @Sollipsist
    No, what you're describing is both the reason for and the result of progress, but you're right that it's not how progress is pursued.

    It may be precisely the overenthusiastic pursuit of progress that got our bodies here before our minds were ready. Giving us the means to make life easier and more efficient is like giving children cars and credit cards. Or maybe humans on the whole are simply inherently unable to cope with ease and plenty?

    Whatever the case, progress is not a solution in itself, and it's certainly not a value worth sanctifying. Unchecked progress is as much a cancer of time as unchecked reproduction is a cancer of the population.

    Or maybe humans on the whole are simply inherently unable to cope with ease and plenty?

    There’s that natural human tendency to look for the easiest option. Since the onset of modern consumerism the whole process is aimed at making things easier, cheaper and more entertaining, so now we’re surrounded by a mass of labour saving devices, on call entertainment and cheap and tasty food everywhere.

    At least in the UK of the 1950′s this lifestyle wasn’t available. Few people had cars, and mostly had to walk to bus stops or cycle. There weren’t so many packaged foods, no supermarkets and meat and fats were expensive. Look at films or street scenes from the UK in the 1950′s and there are plenty of fit people – and not through choice.

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  78. @anonymous
    Kratoklastes says:

    "To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide – which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was."

    I respond:

    Can you please try to explain to us how 99% of our White people can have any practical use for these subjects - anything at all.

    I had to take all these high math, convoluted Economics courses as an Undergraduate at Vanderbilt BA History/Economics then again at the #1 MBA program in the USA Stern New York University.

    I had high SAT and GMAT scores.

    I never used any of this material in any real job and see Zero practical use of anything including all the things I had to do with that #*$&@ HP calculator without an "=" sign.

    And forcing our brightest White students to do all this pointless high Math and Economics only gets them to want to go to "elite" colleges and universities like Harvard and Yale and hang out with the likes of Ruth Bader Ginzberg and Elena Kagan.

    F$&$*#@ this.

    Let's get our bright young people to become crane operators, pipe fitters Union guys or elevator mechanics - these White trade union men are making $100,000 plus by the age of 20, plus these are fun jobs with very little or no feminist politics.

    It's no wonder the American White working man loves Trump and hates most all academics. I sure do.

    I never used any of this material in any real job

    Then it’s likely you weren’t employed in a field that was in the same domain as your training. If you had been, there would have been several dozen times a month where you needed to understand some of the foundational stuff (algebra, calculus – even geometry) in order to properly understand what was being put in front of you.

    It is absolutely true that when it comes to pedagogy, the “quant” side of economics is over-emphasised. That’s because it’s easy to teach, and (far more relevant) easy to mark.

    As I’ve said before, an exam question like

    “Derive the demand equations for a rational consumer with budget Y facing a price vector P = {p_i}, with a CES utility function in X={x_i}”

    The answer is ~10 lines of alegbra (maximum), there is a single right answer, and so you can mark 100 students in a few minutes.

    (if this comment system had a math module I would be able to write the question out more clearly.)

    Conversely, if you set students an essay question, you have to wade through pages and pages of absolute horse-shit.

    And let’s be frank: the goal of an academic institution (apart from making money) is to identify elite students.

    That’s true at all levels: PhD coursework is an ordeal that exists for no other reason than to get non-elite candidates to abandon their course… thereby obviating a situation where some poor bastard has to read a shitty dissertation.

    The non-elite segment of each student body is just cannon fodder; nobody wants to know what a median second-year undergraduate thinks about Bretton-Woods, and nobody wants to see a median MBA student’s stupid Excel spreadsheet on swap pricing.

    So you give everyone an ordeal that elite students find easy, and the non-elite students pay enough in fees for the university to have a new football stadium.

    As far as trades are concerned – I absolutely agree. People should tell their kids (especially their boys) that getting a trade is the absolutely easiest way to set yourself up for a comfortable life with relatively low stress and relatively high employability.

    If I had my time over again, I would have become a crane driver (particularly on the waterfront; the building industry is too cyclical).

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  79. @JerseyJeffersonian
    You do have a point, but among all of the hegemony-serving lies, there was still journalism being practiced. I specifically recall the series, later to be a book, America: What Went Wrong, documenting the hollowing out of industrial America through finance-driven leveraged buyouts, and the packing up and shipping overseas of entire factories, factories which were still productive, but low-hanging fruit for New York/Boston private equity types. And the locals were left with nothing.

    That was then, but now the Inquirer is a totally disgusting rag for the promotion of SJW "values", Hate YT propaganda, and largely composed of increasingly degraded writing and subject matter when it is not merely reprints of articles from the AP and the Washington Post. It is only a matter of time until I pull the plug on our subscription, as I have grown very weary with being insulted and demonized as a man of European-American heritage.

    Thanks for the info! I expected as much, although I did not read Inky since 1995. So, it went the way of NYT, Washington Post, and other disgusting “lefty” rugs and keeps spreading lowbrow lies.

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  80. @Miro23

    I’ll pile on here – I taught at a “Group of 8″ university (the Go8 is the 8 largest, and most prestigious, universities in Australia). I taught first year econometrics, and third year Applied Econometric Modeling.

    Faculty-wide – i.e., including bullshit non-disciplines like Management and Marketing
     
    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS - not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure - rather that "Economics" doesn't have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.

    Also, there are some remarkably good managers that make all the difference to a industry (e.g. Sam Walton's "Made in America" - actually Made in China - but never mind). https://www.amazon.com/Sam-Walton-Made-America/dp/0553562835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529450036&sr=8-1&keywords=made+in+america+sam+walton

    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS – not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure – rather that “Economics” doesn’t have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.

    Economics doesn’t have physical laws, but human beings have time-stable behaviour that generates things that are measurable: that’s all you need in order for quantitative analysis to be useful.

    You don’t have to be exactly right (not that engineering approaches get things right: the best example is mandatory seat-belt laws, and vehicle safety standards more broadly: economists rightly predicted that both would cause increases in pedestrian deaths because people would drive more recklessly if they felt safer).

    Getting the direction right will suffice (and it’s signficantly harder than you might think).

    Getting the order of magnitude right would be better. Thankfully, it turns out that the right answer for almost all policies is “fuck all” – which is an answer that hand-waving essay writers will not write down, ever. For them the answer has to be “This is a great policy” if it’s being promulgated by someone to whom the essay-writer is sympathetic, and “This is a shit policy that will kill children and set man against man” otherwise);

    Getting the distribution (i.e., the probability associated with different possible levels of outcome) is gold-standard – and is almost never done properly, because there are so few people capable of doing it right. “Systematic sensitivity analysis” is rarely done well, if at all.

    And, to put it mildly: analysing things quantitatively makes people write down their assumptions explicitly, and hold those assumptions ‘for the duration’ of their analysis.

    Contrast that with competitions between hand-waving essay-writers: all that matters is the reputation of the competing eminences grises, and people can change their assumptions mid-stream and wave away any suggestion that they’ve done so.

    One thing that quant-stuff enables, is a quick ‘bullshit check’: if someone claims that such-and-so a policy would generate a bajillion new jobs (and give everyone a golden unicorn that pisses Mountain Dew and shits Mars Bars)… well, you can examine what that would imply about the productivity of capital and labour in that industry, what the consequences would be for other industries that use similar inputs, and the effects on the trade balance… and so on.

    .

    So let’s say a government says (in 2007/8)

    “We are going to build a national broadband network. It will provide a minimum of 12Mbps fibre to every household in the nation. It will be finished by 2018 and will cost $40 billion.”

    Well, people like me knew immediately that a whole bunch of those numbers were lies.

    We knew, after less than an hour of doing some basic calculations, that it wold take twice as long; cost (at least) twice as much; be unable to provide the claimed speeds… and as a result it would be obsolete before it was finished.

    (Bear in mind, this “visionary” project had an aim that was the equivalent of South Korea’s network in 2009: we were going to spend $40 billion, to have current tech in 10 years)

    Same was true with some cockamamie idea about a bullet train between Melbourne and Sydney (cost: $200 billion). We sat down over lunch and worked out how many fares you would have to sell to generate an investment-grade ROI on $200 billion… it was clear that there was no plausible combination of P and Q that gave anything but massive losses – before you even bothered about the costs of maintenance, employees and so forth.

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better - in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.

    Nobody who does quant well, pretends that it is sensible to report results to five decimal places.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JackOH
    Kratoklastes, thanks to you and the commenters you responded to. Very interesting exchange.

    I'm a little conflicted. We all know stories of quantitative methods ("lies, damn lies, statistics") and the authority they confer used to support bullshit stocks and bullshit proposals. Bernie Madoff, electricity too cheap to meter, etc. My college math through diff eq has had little application in my working life, but I've kept the habit of "numeracy" or "quant-ishness" with, I think, good results. Etc., etc.

    Your "essay-writer" vs. mathematician distinction is spot on. That speaks to English teaching and the teaching of the broader humanities being in the sewer, and likely the quality of our politics (in the States), where you have to pull your punches all the time at the expense of clarity.

    Among the creepiest political phenomena in the States in my opinion are the politicians, HR people, opinion leaders of all sorts, and ordinary people who don't have a clue and don't want to have a clue that pensions and health insurance are mathematical entities. I'm thinking of the story I'd read about President George W. Bush ordering the Chief Actuary to keep silent about the consequences of Bush's expansion of Medicare (the American Medicare) to include a prescription drug benefit.

    , @Miro23

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better - in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.
     
    This is true and it works best on specific projects rather than amorphous Special Interest free-for-alls such as of Keynesianism or Neo-liberalism.

    A specific project analysis is useful, for instance your Melbourne to Sydney bullet train - although it doesn't need higher maths to multiply the estimated number of passengers by the estimated fares and subtract the costs to see that it is a loser.

    A similar calculation was done for the high speed rail network in Spain and it came out as a money loser on all price/volume combinations, but political pressure built it anyway. It's losing money as predicted - but the cities that it links to love it. And, to take one example, it's a really nice way to travel in comfort from Alicante to Madrid - something like a quiet and spacious aircraft with a good buffet.

    If Calvin Coolidge had been in charge, this very nice railway wouldn't have been built. And neither would the Pyramids, the Parthenon or Notre Dame.

    He (Coolidge) had this interesting idea that every piece of proposed government legislation had to have the downside fully evaluated before a decision was made. In other words 95% of proposed legislation would be rejected.

    “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
    Calvin Coolidge

     

    There are limits to purely economic calculation, but at least Coolidge's attitude excludes the many Special Interests crowding in on government.

    This is the Nº1 failure of recent American governments who maybe vaguely understand that it is their duty to PROTECT THE PUBLIC against special interest exploitation but continue to co-operate with the exploiters anyway.
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  81. @JohnnyWalker123

    I think people are encouraged to think that this sort of faux-celebrity is meaningful, but there has to be a real hole in your life for anyone to actually believe it.

     

    Here's what we have to remember.

    1. Modern society is wildly competitive. People are status-seeking to an extent that's downright vulgar. Given that society gives status to those with attractive Social Media profiles, many people feel they can compete for some of this status by having a cool Instagram/Facebook/Twiter profile. Having a popular profile is like having a Mercedes Benz - it's a status symbol. If you have 10,000 "Followers" on Instagram, you are a "winner" in the game of life.

    2. Sometimes it's easier to achieve status online than in real life. For example, society gives enormous status to physically attractive people, but it's not easy to be good looking. It requires exercise, a good diet, proper face creams, plastic surgery, dental work, etc. However, if you take pics of your average-looking face and then extensively photoedit those pics, you can suddenly become a model and get tons of "Likes" for pics of your suddenly handsome self.

    3. People seek validation. By allowing us to "Follow" and "Like" a picture, these various Social Media sites allow ordinary people to achieve constant validation. So you can take huge numbers of pics of your average-looking face, photoedit those pics to make them look handsome, upload the new pics, and then get huge numbers of "Likes" and new "Followers." Win!

    The best modern example (apart from laugh tracks) is that stupid noise women make when things are ‘cute’ (or whatever-the-fuck); it’s like the most grating laugh-track in the world. It started on TV shows like Oprah and Ellen, but now women do it all the fucking time and nobody’s allowed to slap them.

     

    You mean like this.

    Watch for 10 seconds from 0:38-0:48.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teeRdhjYm7g

    I think your set of 3 ‘dot points’ should have been 4 dot points: the first one should be “People in modern society have severely truncated horizons, and no conception of timescales longer than a week or so“.

    Everything in the other 3 dot points requires that first dot point, in order to make sense.

    Temporary popularity is (roughly) a matter of luck; its monetary payoff is also a lottery. The average payoff is negative, and the modal payoff is -100% of the reources dedicated to the task.

    It’s just young people being young people: nobody should pretend that it’s a business model or contributes meaningfully to long-term life outcomes.

    Think about the post-TV lives of secondary characters on TV shows from the 60s and 70s – some guy who played a non-lead role in Gentle Ben or Flipper or Bonanza or Get Smart. Think about whether their localised, temporary celebrity gave them any ‘leg up’ in life: it didn’t and those people were actually trained at something other than making duck impersonations in front of a mirror.

    .
    It’s all ‘truncated horizon’ shit that people are supposed to grow out of in their mid-teens.

    After all, one day Kim Kardashian will be 50; she will either no longer be a public figure, or she will be a figure of ridicule, because she will turn onto one of those stupid women who fill their faces full of shit and wind up looking like a doll that has been left too close to a campfire.

    And my guess is that she will be poor by that time, as well, because it turns out that a very large proportion of people who fuel others’ obsessions about wealth, are actually not wealthy at all: furthermore, they have gigantic retinues of fair-weather friends, draining any value that they can.

    Recently Wilbur Ross had to reveal that he’s worth at least $2 billion less than he claimed (and Boris Becker is another good example: he recently became an African diplomat to avoid his creditors).

    Read More
    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123

    It’s just young people being young people:
     
    Actually, it's not just young people. You'd be surprised by how many people in the 30-45 age range are addicted to Social Media.

    nobody should pretend that it’s a business model

     

    It is a business model because the Zuckerbergs can sell your data or they can sell access to advertisters. All they need to do is keep you "engaged" with their content. Which they're quite good at.

    or contributes meaningfully to long-term life outcomes.
     
    Actually, it's worse than that. Most people will probably have worse life outcomes. Just because wasting time on Social Media takes time away from self-improvement and from enjoying meaninful real life experiences. The Social Media addict is poorer in the long-term.

    Think about whether their localised, temporary celebrity gave them any ‘leg up’ in life: it didn’t and those people were actually trained at something other than making duck impersonations in front of a mirror.

     

    People don't think the long-term. They just like getting that immediate thrill everytime they see a new "Like" or "Follower" on their timeline. If they had long-term horizons, they'd realize that they're wasting their lives on pointless BS.

    After all, one day Kim Kardashian will be 50; she will either no longer be a public figure, or she will be a figure of ridicule, because she will turn onto one of those stupid women who fill their faces full of shit and wind up looking like a doll that has been left too close to a campfire.

    And my guess is that she will be poor by that time, as well, because it turns out that a very large proportion of people who fuel others’ obsessions about wealth, are actually not wealthy at all: furthermore, they have gigantic retinues of fair-weather friends, draining any value that they can.
     
    True enough.

    Perhaps Kim Kardashian will do what Suzanne Somers did - write books about getting healthy and beating cancer.
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  82. @Stan Adams
    The Wall Street Journal is now offering home delivery of the dead-tree edition for $12 for 12 weeks - as in, a buck a week, or about 17 cents an issue. (The newsstand price is $5, up from $1 ten years ago.)

    They must be desperate to pump up circulation.

    I sometimes visit the website Marketwatch, a subsidiary of the Wall Street Journal, and honestly, most days it’s like The Huffington Post but with stock prices.

    Typical lead news stories will be about what a big meanie Trump is or a feature of some super awesome black woman run start up. And this from an ostensibly “conservative” news source. Somewhere along the way they made a conscious decision to alienate their White male core readership so let them starve. Zero Hedge is more fun anyway.

    Read More
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  83. Anonymous[680] • Disclaimer says:

    Poetic, Linh. Real beautiful, in a sad kinda way. You make me want to take a trip to the USA, just to see how bad it’s got.

    You think we’re looking at a parallel of Weimar?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Linh Dinh

    You think we’re looking at a parallel of Weimar?
     
    Close enough, and with the inflation too, ready to spring.
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  84. @Kratoklastes
    I think your set of 3 'dot points' should have been 4 dot points: the first one should be "People in modern society have severely truncated horizons, and no conception of timescales longer than a week or so".

    Everything in the other 3 dot points requires that first dot point, in order to make sense.

    Temporary popularity is (roughly) a matter of luck; its monetary payoff is also a lottery. The average payoff is negative, and the modal payoff is -100% of the reources dedicated to the task.

    It's just young people being young people: nobody should pretend that it's a business model or contributes meaningfully to long-term life outcomes.

    Think about the post-TV lives of secondary characters on TV shows from the 60s and 70s - some guy who played a non-lead role in Gentle Ben or Flipper or Bonanza or Get Smart. Think about whether their localised, temporary celebrity gave them any 'leg up' in life: it didn't and those people were actually trained at something other than making duck impersonations in front of a mirror.

    .
    It's all 'truncated horizon' shit that people are supposed to grow out of in their mid-teens.

    After all, one day Kim Kardashian will be 50; she will either no longer be a public figure, or she will be a figure of ridicule, because she will turn onto one of those stupid women who fill their faces full of shit and wind up looking like a doll that has been left too close to a campfire.

    And my guess is that she will be poor by that time, as well, because it turns out that a very large proportion of people who fuel others' obsessions about wealth, are actually not wealthy at all: furthermore, they have gigantic retinues of fair-weather friends, draining any value that they can.

    Recently Wilbur Ross had to reveal that he's worth at least $2 billion less than he claimed (and Boris Becker is another good example: he recently became an African diplomat to avoid his creditors).

    It’s just young people being young people:

    Actually, it’s not just young people. You’d be surprised by how many people in the 30-45 age range are addicted to Social Media.

    nobody should pretend that it’s a business model

    It is a business model because the Zuckerbergs can sell your data or they can sell access to advertisters. All they need to do is keep you “engaged” with their content. Which they’re quite good at.

    or contributes meaningfully to long-term life outcomes.

    Actually, it’s worse than that. Most people will probably have worse life outcomes. Just because wasting time on Social Media takes time away from self-improvement and from enjoying meaninful real life experiences. The Social Media addict is poorer in the long-term.

    Think about whether their localised, temporary celebrity gave them any ‘leg up’ in life: it didn’t and those people were actually trained at something other than making duck impersonations in front of a mirror.

    People don’t think the long-term. They just like getting that immediate thrill everytime they see a new “Like” or “Follower” on their timeline. If they had long-term horizons, they’d realize that they’re wasting their lives on pointless BS.

    After all, one day Kim Kardashian will be 50; she will either no longer be a public figure, or she will be a figure of ridicule, because she will turn onto one of those stupid women who fill their faces full of shit and wind up looking like a doll that has been left too close to a campfire.

    And my guess is that she will be poor by that time, as well, because it turns out that a very large proportion of people who fuel others’ obsessions about wealth, are actually not wealthy at all: furthermore, they have gigantic retinues of fair-weather friends, draining any value that they can.

    True enough.

    Perhaps Kim Kardashian will do what Suzanne Somers did – write books about getting healthy and beating cancer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    Exactly right. Hours and hours spent on Facebook and the like, is hours and hours NOT spent making or keeping up with actual friends in person. And those hours are certainly NOT spent exercising, judging from the army of waddling tattoed vulgar morons passing me every day here in beautiful L.A.
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  85. miforest says:

    I am in my lat 50′s and read a lot. mostly magazines and web. at one time or another I have subscribed to the Detroit news, thes Detroit free press , time , newsweek, American spectator usnews and world reports, wall street journal, national review, and many others. it always ended the same way . they became grossly liberal or neocon free trade cheerleading and war mongering.

    I have refused free subscriptions to the Detroit papers trying to get me to come back. It is clear to me that whoever owns the Washington politicians also owns the media.

    this recent immigrant scandal is a perfect example . the donors tell Paul Ryan they want an amnesty bill . trump says no. suddenly there are staged pictures of ” the children” in cages all over the media. On cue the republicans like the bushes, ben sasse, and many others screech concentration camp . the liberals and media join in . and Viola! a public groundswell to ” do something” on immigration . and guess what , Paul Ryan just happens to have a bill ready.

    Read More
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  86. JackOH says:
    @Kratoklastes

    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS – not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure – rather that “Economics” doesn’t have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.
     
    Economics doesn't have physical laws, but human beings have time-stable behaviour that generates things that are measurable: that's all you need in order for quantitative analysis to be useful.

    You don't have to be exactly right (not that engineering approaches get things right: the best example is mandatory seat-belt laws, and vehicle safety standards more broadly: economists rightly predicted that both would cause increases in pedestrian deaths because people would drive more recklessly if they felt safer).

    Getting the direction right will suffice (and it's signficantly harder than you might think).

    Getting the order of magnitude right would be better. Thankfully, it turns out that the right answer for almost all policies is "fuck all" - which is an answer that hand-waving essay writers will not write down, ever. For them the answer has to be "This is a great policy" if it's being promulgated by someone to whom the essay-writer is sympathetic, and "This is a shit policy that will kill children and set man against man" otherwise);

    Getting the distribution (i.e., the probability associated with different possible levels of outcome) is gold-standard - and is almost never done properly, because there are so few people capable of doing it right. "Systematic sensitivity analysis" is rarely done well, if at all.

    And, to put it mildly: analysing things quantitatively makes people write down their assumptions explicitly, and hold those assumptions 'for the duration' of their analysis.

    Contrast that with competitions between hand-waving essay-writers: all that matters is the reputation of the competing eminences grises, and people can change their assumptions mid-stream and wave away any suggestion that they've done so.

    One thing that quant-stuff enables, is a quick 'bullshit check': if someone claims that such-and-so a policy would generate a bajillion new jobs (and give everyone a golden unicorn that pisses Mountain Dew and shits Mars Bars)... well, you can examine what that would imply about the productivity of capital and labour in that industry, what the consequences would be for other industries that use similar inputs, and the effects on the trade balance... and so on.

    .

    So let's say a government says (in 2007/8)

    "We are going to build a national broadband network. It will provide a minimum of 12Mbps fibre to every household in the nation. It will be finished by 2018 and will cost $40 billion."

     

    Well, people like me knew immediately that a whole bunch of those numbers were lies.

    We knew, after less than an hour of doing some basic calculations, that it wold take twice as long; cost (at least) twice as much; be unable to provide the claimed speeds... and as a result it would be obsolete before it was finished.

    (Bear in mind, this "visionary" project had an aim that was the equivalent of South Korea's network in 2009: we were going to spend $40 billion, to have current tech in 10 years)

    Same was true with some cockamamie idea about a bullet train between Melbourne and Sydney (cost: $200 billion). We sat down over lunch and worked out how many fares you would have to sell to generate an investment-grade ROI on $200 billion... it was clear that there was no plausible combination of P and Q that gave anything but massive losses - before you even bothered about the costs of maintenance, employees and so forth.

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better - in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.

    Nobody who does quant well, pretends that it is sensible to report results to five decimal places.

    Kratoklastes, thanks to you and the commenters you responded to. Very interesting exchange.

    I’m a little conflicted. We all know stories of quantitative methods (“lies, damn lies, statistics”) and the authority they confer used to support bullshit stocks and bullshit proposals. Bernie Madoff, electricity too cheap to meter, etc. My college math through diff eq has had little application in my working life, but I’ve kept the habit of “numeracy” or “quant-ishness” with, I think, good results. Etc., etc.

    Your “essay-writer” vs. mathematician distinction is spot on. That speaks to English teaching and the teaching of the broader humanities being in the sewer, and likely the quality of our politics (in the States), where you have to pull your punches all the time at the expense of clarity.

    Among the creepiest political phenomena in the States in my opinion are the politicians, HR people, opinion leaders of all sorts, and ordinary people who don’t have a clue and don’t want to have a clue that pensions and health insurance are mathematical entities. I’m thinking of the story I’d read about President George W. Bush ordering the Chief Actuary to keep silent about the consequences of Bush’s expansion of Medicare (the American Medicare) to include a prescription drug benefit.

    Read More
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  87. I wonder if the commentariat here will be as erudite and sophisticated once Mr. Dinh starts his Vietnam based writing. It appears most here in the comments section are westerners. Will Dinh’s new outpost change his subject matter and if so will this small but growing readership follow him there?

    Hmmm…

    Read More
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  88. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Anonymous
    Poetic, Linh. Real beautiful, in a sad kinda way. You make me want to take a trip to the USA, just to see how bad it's got.

    You think we're looking at a parallel of Weimar?

    You think we’re looking at a parallel of Weimar?

    Close enough, and with the inflation too, ready to spring.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dillon Sweeny

    Close enough, and with the inflation too, ready to spring.

     

    Inflation done sprung. Five years ago, health insurance, single, was $57 per month for a $1500 deductible. Food price has tripled over the same interval.

    The rich must keep the productive class impoverished. It's satisfying, you know. If you can't understand that, you're not rich.
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  89. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Talha
    Mr. Dinh - one of your best and that is no small feat.

    May God grant you many more years to write and remind us to be mindful of those less fortunate than us and to hope and do something to at least hold on to the great things about our culture before it leaves us.

    Also, I don't know if it's your intention, but you've planted a desire in me to someday travel out to that great american city of Philly. For that, the local tourist industry can thank you. ;)

    Peace.

    Hi Talha,

    If you can get to Philly before August 5th, we can down a few at Nickels, Fatsos, O’Jung, Friendly or Sit On It!

    Linh

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    Hi Mr. Dinh,

    Much thanks for the offer! I'd have to settle for the non-alcoholic options if you don't mind. But my finances won't allow this trip for a bit. I'll definitely let you know if I head that way though.

    Until then, I will fully enjoy Philly vicariously through your blog.

    Peace.
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  90. @Linh Dinh

    You think we’re looking at a parallel of Weimar?
     
    Close enough, and with the inflation too, ready to spring.

    Close enough, and with the inflation too, ready to spring.

    Inflation done sprung. Five years ago, health insurance, single, was $57 per month for a $1500 deductible. Food price has tripled over the same interval.

    The rich must keep the productive class impoverished. It’s satisfying, you know. If you can’t understand that, you’re not rich.

    Read More
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  91. Talha says:
    @Linh Dinh
    Hi Talha,

    If you can get to Philly before August 5th, we can down a few at Nickels, Fatsos, O'Jung, Friendly or Sit On It!

    Linh

    Hi Mr. Dinh,

    Much thanks for the offer! I’d have to settle for the non-alcoholic options if you don’t mind. But my finances won’t allow this trip for a bit. I’ll definitely let you know if I head that way though.

    Until then, I will fully enjoy Philly vicariously through your blog.

    Peace.

    Read More
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  92. Miro23 says:
    @Kratoklastes

    I used to believe this, but have come round to the view that Econometrics and Applied Economic Modeling are the BS – not because there is anything wrong with mathematical structure – rather that “Economics” doesn’t have the same kind of physical laws that make math so useful in physics, engineering and manufacturing.
     
    Economics doesn't have physical laws, but human beings have time-stable behaviour that generates things that are measurable: that's all you need in order for quantitative analysis to be useful.

    You don't have to be exactly right (not that engineering approaches get things right: the best example is mandatory seat-belt laws, and vehicle safety standards more broadly: economists rightly predicted that both would cause increases in pedestrian deaths because people would drive more recklessly if they felt safer).

    Getting the direction right will suffice (and it's signficantly harder than you might think).

    Getting the order of magnitude right would be better. Thankfully, it turns out that the right answer for almost all policies is "fuck all" - which is an answer that hand-waving essay writers will not write down, ever. For them the answer has to be "This is a great policy" if it's being promulgated by someone to whom the essay-writer is sympathetic, and "This is a shit policy that will kill children and set man against man" otherwise);

    Getting the distribution (i.e., the probability associated with different possible levels of outcome) is gold-standard - and is almost never done properly, because there are so few people capable of doing it right. "Systematic sensitivity analysis" is rarely done well, if at all.

    And, to put it mildly: analysing things quantitatively makes people write down their assumptions explicitly, and hold those assumptions 'for the duration' of their analysis.

    Contrast that with competitions between hand-waving essay-writers: all that matters is the reputation of the competing eminences grises, and people can change their assumptions mid-stream and wave away any suggestion that they've done so.

    One thing that quant-stuff enables, is a quick 'bullshit check': if someone claims that such-and-so a policy would generate a bajillion new jobs (and give everyone a golden unicorn that pisses Mountain Dew and shits Mars Bars)... well, you can examine what that would imply about the productivity of capital and labour in that industry, what the consequences would be for other industries that use similar inputs, and the effects on the trade balance... and so on.

    .

    So let's say a government says (in 2007/8)

    "We are going to build a national broadband network. It will provide a minimum of 12Mbps fibre to every household in the nation. It will be finished by 2018 and will cost $40 billion."

     

    Well, people like me knew immediately that a whole bunch of those numbers were lies.

    We knew, after less than an hour of doing some basic calculations, that it wold take twice as long; cost (at least) twice as much; be unable to provide the claimed speeds... and as a result it would be obsolete before it was finished.

    (Bear in mind, this "visionary" project had an aim that was the equivalent of South Korea's network in 2009: we were going to spend $40 billion, to have current tech in 10 years)

    Same was true with some cockamamie idea about a bullet train between Melbourne and Sydney (cost: $200 billion). We sat down over lunch and worked out how many fares you would have to sell to generate an investment-grade ROI on $200 billion... it was clear that there was no plausible combination of P and Q that gave anything but massive losses - before you even bothered about the costs of maintenance, employees and so forth.

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better - in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.

    Nobody who does quant well, pretends that it is sensible to report results to five decimal places.

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better – in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.

    This is true and it works best on specific projects rather than amorphous Special Interest free-for-alls such as of Keynesianism or Neo-liberalism.

    A specific project analysis is useful, for instance your Melbourne to Sydney bullet train – although it doesn’t need higher maths to multiply the estimated number of passengers by the estimated fares and subtract the costs to see that it is a loser.

    A similar calculation was done for the high speed rail network in Spain and it came out as a money loser on all price/volume combinations, but political pressure built it anyway. It’s losing money as predicted – but the cities that it links to love it. And, to take one example, it’s a really nice way to travel in comfort from Alicante to Madrid – something like a quiet and spacious aircraft with a good buffet.

    If Calvin Coolidge had been in charge, this very nice railway wouldn’t have been built. And neither would the Pyramids, the Parthenon or Notre Dame.

    He (Coolidge) had this interesting idea that every piece of proposed government legislation had to have the downside fully evaluated before a decision was made. In other words 95% of proposed legislation would be rejected.

    “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
    Calvin Coolidge

    There are limits to purely economic calculation, but at least Coolidge’s attitude excludes the many Special Interests crowding in on government.

    This is the Nº1 failure of recent American governments who maybe vaguely understand that it is their duty to PROTECT THE PUBLIC against special interest exploitation but continue to co-operate with the exploiters anyway.

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    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    It's no surprise that the beneficiaries of the "train in Spain" are pleased with the outcome: after all, they are getting their trips subsidised (and the towns are getting their tourism inflows subsidised) by the taxpayers who cant access the line in the normal course of events.

    So the fact that it didn't stack up 'on paper', but is popular with the recipients of the subsidy, doesn't represent a failure of quantitative economic analysis: it perfectly represents why projects that have no economic rationale get built when government corrupts the allocation of resources.

    After all, if the project had instead been "let's give everyone in Peñíscola a Ferrari", the residents of Peñíscola could reasonably be assumed to support the policy (and their relatives would probably support it too). Subsidies (and gifts) are always popular with the recipients.

    It's true that the revenue/cost comparison (for a single period) is easy - although there are all sorts of embedded assumptions on the 'cost' side, like what interest rate will be applied to the debt used to fund the project (it will be effectively debt-funded if the government is running a deficit: if not directly debt-funded, it will add to the public sector borrowing requirement).

    Aggregate (net) revenue is only really a starting point, though - a 'back-of-the-envelope' (or 'table-napkin') calculation. A table-napkin calculation indicating that a project is unlikely to make a 1-period profit, is useful, but not determinative... to really get the knife into a project's ribs requires a decent amount of probabilistic forecasting, whereby different revenue and cost scenarios are modelled, and are discounted back using a variety of different interest rates and discount rates.

    That said: I have seldom seen any modelling that overturns the initial table-napkin calculation, except where that modelling has been specifically set up to 'goal seek' a solution that justifies the project. Usually by a consultant paid by the project's 'boosters' - someone in the political class.
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  93. @JerseyJeffersonian
    You do have a point, but among all of the hegemony-serving lies, there was still journalism being practiced. I specifically recall the series, later to be a book, America: What Went Wrong, documenting the hollowing out of industrial America through finance-driven leveraged buyouts, and the packing up and shipping overseas of entire factories, factories which were still productive, but low-hanging fruit for New York/Boston private equity types. And the locals were left with nothing.

    That was then, but now the Inquirer is a totally disgusting rag for the promotion of SJW "values", Hate YT propaganda, and largely composed of increasingly degraded writing and subject matter when it is not merely reprints of articles from the AP and the Washington Post. It is only a matter of time until I pull the plug on our subscription, as I have grown very weary with being insulted and demonized as a man of European-American heritage.

    Go for it, dude, pull the plug on the Inquirer already — and your TV too, while you’re at it.

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  94. @anonymous
    Kratoklastes says:

    "To get into the BCom/BEc/BBus course required students to be in (roughly) the top 10% of the high school graduating class, statewide – which generally required the student to get As in English, Mathematics I and II (pure and applied), and at least one other subject.

    In several of my first year classes, I had to explain to several students
    ⓐ what is a logarithm (i.e., ln(X) or loge(X)) was; and
    ⓑ what is exponentiation (e.g., ex) was;
    ⓒ what differentiation (f′(x) or df(x)/dx) was."

    I respond:

    Can you please try to explain to us how 99% of our White people can have any practical use for these subjects - anything at all.

    I had to take all these high math, convoluted Economics courses as an Undergraduate at Vanderbilt BA History/Economics then again at the #1 MBA program in the USA Stern New York University.

    I had high SAT and GMAT scores.

    I never used any of this material in any real job and see Zero practical use of anything including all the things I had to do with that #*$&@ HP calculator without an "=" sign.

    And forcing our brightest White students to do all this pointless high Math and Economics only gets them to want to go to "elite" colleges and universities like Harvard and Yale and hang out with the likes of Ruth Bader Ginzberg and Elena Kagan.

    F$&$*#@ this.

    Let's get our bright young people to become crane operators, pipe fitters Union guys or elevator mechanics - these White trade union men are making $100,000 plus by the age of 20, plus these are fun jobs with very little or no feminist politics.

    It's no wonder the American White working man loves Trump and hates most all academics. I sure do.

    Absolutely right. And for good-paying jobs that are in demand and look likely to remain in steady demand, without political garbage in the workplace, I’d add auto mechanics, welders, electricians, and plumbers.

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  95. @JohnnyWalker123
    Good point. I think the huge number of amenities in our homes (air conditioners, tvs, video games, computers, social media, smartphones, IPODs, IPADs, DVD players, NetFlix, satellite channels, Youtube) have made people hesistant to go out. Those amenities also allow people to get in their entertainment, which means that you don't actually need to friends to have fun anymore. Just have fun by yourself at home.

    Unfortunately, this destroys social networks.

    I also think that these various gadgets might provide short-term fun, but lack some of the long-term benefits and meaning that real life friendships can provide.

    You’re on to something, Johnny. In our household, there are two days every week (Sunday plus one) when nobody accesses the internet or touches any electronic device outside the workplace, whether iPad, iPhone, or TV / Xbox. Only exceptions are to answer a call or take photo/vid of the kids. We have never had cable/satellite or any other TV service during our marriage, either, and we never will.

    Perhaps we should increase the number of Net-free / device-free days. But how many supposedly family-oriented or conservative people are restricting their usage even this much? It’s a big problem.

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  96. @JohnnyWalker123

    It’s just young people being young people:
     
    Actually, it's not just young people. You'd be surprised by how many people in the 30-45 age range are addicted to Social Media.

    nobody should pretend that it’s a business model

     

    It is a business model because the Zuckerbergs can sell your data or they can sell access to advertisters. All they need to do is keep you "engaged" with their content. Which they're quite good at.

    or contributes meaningfully to long-term life outcomes.
     
    Actually, it's worse than that. Most people will probably have worse life outcomes. Just because wasting time on Social Media takes time away from self-improvement and from enjoying meaninful real life experiences. The Social Media addict is poorer in the long-term.

    Think about whether their localised, temporary celebrity gave them any ‘leg up’ in life: it didn’t and those people were actually trained at something other than making duck impersonations in front of a mirror.

     

    People don't think the long-term. They just like getting that immediate thrill everytime they see a new "Like" or "Follower" on their timeline. If they had long-term horizons, they'd realize that they're wasting their lives on pointless BS.

    After all, one day Kim Kardashian will be 50; she will either no longer be a public figure, or she will be a figure of ridicule, because she will turn onto one of those stupid women who fill their faces full of shit and wind up looking like a doll that has been left too close to a campfire.

    And my guess is that she will be poor by that time, as well, because it turns out that a very large proportion of people who fuel others’ obsessions about wealth, are actually not wealthy at all: furthermore, they have gigantic retinues of fair-weather friends, draining any value that they can.
     
    True enough.

    Perhaps Kim Kardashian will do what Suzanne Somers did - write books about getting healthy and beating cancer.

    Exactly right. Hours and hours spent on Facebook and the like, is hours and hours NOT spent making or keeping up with actual friends in person. And those hours are certainly NOT spent exercising, judging from the army of waddling tattoed vulgar morons passing me every day here in beautiful L.A.

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  97. TheJester says:

    I have a felt need to defend the Internet and devices … sans FACEBOOKGOOGLE.

    Yes, I know people who spend hours a day on Facebook trying to decide what to name the feral cat. The fact that FACEBOOKGOOGLE is selling their personal data and buying habits to the highest bidder means nothing to them. Oh, by the way, the feral cat doesn’t have a name yet.

    Then, there’s “gaming”. Yes, I know young people who work part-time and spend the greater part of their income on online games. They spend half the night “gaming”. They also have 300 “friends” on Facebook; they think they have 300 friends. I was close to the scene of two young “gamers” who woke up one day and realized they didn’t have any friends. They committed suicide.

    However, there is a different view and practice when it comes to the Internet and devices. I spend about two or more hours a day on the Unz Review, rising at 4 AM to 5 AM every day for the privilege. I have two master’s degrees. During my years of perusing the Unz Review, I feel like I have perhaps earned another two degrees.

    When I’m finished with the Unz Review, I delve into my e-reader or my journal … with many of the books recommended or referenced by bloggers or commenters on the Unz Review. I have 204 books on the e-reader. Put the Internet, the Unz Review, and the books together, and I have the wherewithal to discover, find, and download the original scientific studies on select HBD issues. I’ve spent the last year studying microchimerism and other HBD issues from original sources.

    My laptop and e-reader are sacred; I take them on vacation. Regardless of where I am, they allow me immediate access to and the ability to read from the “global library” that is only accessible via the Internet. It is a sad day without the intellectual stimulation … the opportunity to think.

    Linh Dinh, have you noticed that your entire existence as a thinker with an audience greater than ten close friends in Philadelphia is a function of people like me and the other “addicts” on the Unz Review … accessing you and the Internet via devices?

    BTW, keep up the good work!

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  98. Sam J. says:
    @Kratoklastes
    I seldom read newspapers, and when I do I am usually appalled at what passes for reportage - so I don't understand the mawkish lachrymose sentimentality that grips some people when some or other local rag bites the dust.

    Frankly, I reckon Jefferson pegged it about right in his various well-known diatribes against newspapers. (Yes, he had his own motives for calumniating them - that doesn't mean his criticism wasn't justified or accurate).

    In the normal course of daily events, I read more now than I have at any point in my life: that's saying something, considering the reading load during my undergraduate, Masters and PhD studies in the 1990s. Very little of my current daily reading is in newspapers, because that's not where quality analysis is.

    The internet has enabled immediate access to a vast range of material on any topic - some of it's drivel, and some of it's gold.

    The best indicator of non-drivel, for any subject of more than moderate complexity: it's not produced by a journalist.

    Journalists generally have little more than a dilettante understanding of the subjects they write about, and - again, generally - have no specific training in the subjects that require it (or if they do, not to any level that would enable them to work in the subject itself).

    And when the subject is politics, they are obsessed with 'access' - which in turn means that they are highly unlikely to report truthfully on anything that matters.

    Journalism relies on public ignorance, including the ignorance of journalists' ignorance. For anyone with significant expertise in a subject area, they also need what Michael Crichton dubbed the "Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect".

    So I am glad when newspapers fail the market test and need to be rescued by wealthy oligarchs: it makes it a little clearer why they exist (i.e., to advance the interests of a concentrated constituency - who would, if given their druthers, remain clandestine).

    And yes, from time to time journalism reveals something of consequence - the child molestation in Boston that was revealed by the people at the Globe, for example. However, think a bit harder about that: for how long had the Globe known about, but not reported on, that sordid stuff? Was it really an unknown thing for the entire life of the Globe to that point? Nope: it's just that someone who had been helping suppress the story, lost the will or the ability to do so.

    “…I seldom read newspapers, and when I do I am usually appalled at what passes for reportage – so I don’t understand the mawkish lachrymose sentimentality that grips some people when some or other local rag bites the dust…”

    “…In the normal course of daily events, I read more now than I have at any point in my life…”

    “…The internet has enabled immediate access to a vast range of material on any topic – some of it’s drivel, and some of it’s gold.

    The best indicator of non-drivel, for any subject of more than moderate complexity: it’s not produced by a journalist…”

    I agree most heartily. I quit reading the local paper decades ago after the New York Times bought it. Nothing but brain washing drivel.

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  99. When I heard a Ph.D. friend tell me some time back that grammar and spelling aren’t all that important anymore, I realized how bad things had really become, especially in academe. Here you have a supposedly highly educated man tell you that the organization and methodology of communication in which he had been taught everything he knows, doesn’t matter that much anymore because we now have spellcheck and grammar correcting software. His tolerance for slovenliness and inexactitude in language gives me concern if this attitude has spread into the hard science areas of the university. How long before we see aeroplanes drop out of the sky because the engineers who designed it didn’t think that it was important to work out the wing stresses because they assumed their software did it already. We don’t have rules for sentence structure and grammar because they are pretty, we have them because they make communication more exacting and leave less chance for error when we are conveying complicated information. We may be getting sloppy with our education here in the western world, but I can’t believe for a minute that the Chinese are doing the same thing. They have been observing us under a microscope for a long time now and see how we are letting ourselves slide down into the abyss further and further. If we don’t radically change ourselves, they are going to be our masters and we will be unable to change it

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    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    Grammar is slightly important, but spelling is almost irrelevant (and spelling has been irrelevant for most of the history of the English language).

    As to grammar: is it really important whether or not a writer (or speaker) splits an infinitive? ("To boldly go" is an example of a split infinitive).

    After all ,the prohibition on split infinitives only came about in (middle class) English because they wanted to couch English grammar in a broader context of Greek and Latin grammar - and in Latin, infinitives are single words that can't be split: you literally can't put an adjective or adverb between 'to' and 'go' in Latin, because the infinitive is īre, or , or īvī or or ītum (how's that for ridonkulous).

    And also - I don't want to be snarky, because sometimes it's a 'device' problem - but splitting walls of text into paragraphs is at least as useful as getting spelling, grammar and punctuation right (paragraphs are probably 'canonically' part of punctuation and grammar and orthography, but it's so long since I studied English that I've forgotten).

    And of course that brings into focus where one paragraph should stop and another should begin: a paragraph for each individual argument? That's a super-bad rule.

    There are all sorts of stupid stupid rules that do not advance the communications-ball a single inch.

    "Don't end sentences with a preposition"; "don't start a paragraph with an adverb" ...

    Seriously - what are these people on?

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  100. @Colin Wright
    Oh well now...

    I dunno. I'm sixty. Today I was in a big hardware store in Eugene, Oregon. There was this plump little clerk...how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    Life goes on.

    You didn’t say if it was a boy or a girl.

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  101. Blogs and other internet content (including this one – unz.com) are vastly superior reading to any newspaper in, say 1975. When I travel (in my work) and am in a small town, I checkout whatever passes for the local small-town newspaper (if its still available) because that’s how i get the “feel” of the place. I think many city papers in medium sized metro areas (say, Portland oregon) would do just fine if they focused on local news and events rather than national/international. I got the oregonian from ’05 until around ’12 and always read the local news first and generally only. The price doubled during this period and we stopped our subscription.

    Aside from local news, the internet is vastly superior to pre-internet days. After All, that’s where the shamazdat is.

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  102. @Miro23

    TL;DR: doing quantitative analysis is better than not doing it. Doing it properly is even more better - in particular, attempting to capture expectations and possible changes in preferences and technology.
     
    This is true and it works best on specific projects rather than amorphous Special Interest free-for-alls such as of Keynesianism or Neo-liberalism.

    A specific project analysis is useful, for instance your Melbourne to Sydney bullet train - although it doesn't need higher maths to multiply the estimated number of passengers by the estimated fares and subtract the costs to see that it is a loser.

    A similar calculation was done for the high speed rail network in Spain and it came out as a money loser on all price/volume combinations, but political pressure built it anyway. It's losing money as predicted - but the cities that it links to love it. And, to take one example, it's a really nice way to travel in comfort from Alicante to Madrid - something like a quiet and spacious aircraft with a good buffet.

    If Calvin Coolidge had been in charge, this very nice railway wouldn't have been built. And neither would the Pyramids, the Parthenon or Notre Dame.

    He (Coolidge) had this interesting idea that every piece of proposed government legislation had to have the downside fully evaluated before a decision was made. In other words 95% of proposed legislation would be rejected.

    “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
    Calvin Coolidge

     

    There are limits to purely economic calculation, but at least Coolidge's attitude excludes the many Special Interests crowding in on government.

    This is the Nº1 failure of recent American governments who maybe vaguely understand that it is their duty to PROTECT THE PUBLIC against special interest exploitation but continue to co-operate with the exploiters anyway.

    It’s no surprise that the beneficiaries of the “train in Spain” are pleased with the outcome: after all, they are getting their trips subsidised (and the towns are getting their tourism inflows subsidised) by the taxpayers who cant access the line in the normal course of events.

    So the fact that it didn’t stack up ‘on paper’, but is popular with the recipients of the subsidy, doesn’t represent a failure of quantitative economic analysis: it perfectly represents why projects that have no economic rationale get built when government corrupts the allocation of resources.

    After all, if the project had instead been “let’s give everyone in Peñíscola a Ferrari“, the residents of Peñíscola could reasonably be assumed to support the policy (and their relatives would probably support it too). Subsidies (and gifts) are always popular with the recipients.

    It’s true that the revenue/cost comparison (for a single period) is easy – although there are all sorts of embedded assumptions on the ‘cost’ side, like what interest rate will be applied to the debt used to fund the project (it will be effectively debt-funded if the government is running a deficit: if not directly debt-funded, it will add to the public sector borrowing requirement).

    Aggregate (net) revenue is only really a starting point, though – a ‘back-of-the-envelope’ (or ‘table-napkin’) calculation. A table-napkin calculation indicating that a project is unlikely to make a 1-period profit, is useful, but not determinative… to really get the knife into a project’s ribs requires a decent amount of probabilistic forecasting, whereby different revenue and cost scenarios are modelled, and are discounted back using a variety of different interest rates and discount rates.

    That said: I have seldom seen any modelling that overturns the initial table-napkin calculation, except where that modelling has been specifically set up to ‘goal seek’ a solution that justifies the project. Usually by a consultant paid by the project’s ‘boosters’ – someone in the political class.

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  103. @Patricus
    I have to second your opinion about the value of the internet. Decades back I subscribed to three newspapers and a dozen monthly magazines. Today I have access to far more information on my desktop and tablet. The comments add to the value of an article even though most comments are idiotic. I am getting to the point where I won't read an author with no comments section.

    The absence of a comment section is evidence of a desire to control the narrative arc; it is a very clear indicator that the site is not to be trusted.

    Legacy media (with some exceptions) is used to a ‘top down’ model – where they ladle out whatever shit they feel like, and the readers read it (or more frequently, do not), with selective feedback in ‘letters to the editor’. That’s not good enough these days: in an arbitrarily-selected readership there will, usually, be at least one person whose expertise in the subject matter is superior to that of the author – and the ability of people like that to comment, far exceeds the downside of the rest of the snark and nonsense (although snark and nonsense can be entertaining).
    .

    I have noticed that even TakiMag has gone the “Letters” (i.e., delayed, ‘curated’ feedback) route – which means that someone in Taki’s organisation has an agenda (almost certainly not the naughty Greek boy – he could not give a fuck either way, as befits a genuine grownup).

    So now I just don’t go there – I get RSS feeds of the columnists whose stuff I read as a matter of course (Jim Goad, David Cole, Theodore Dalrymple, Joe Bob Briggs etc), and thus far I have not experienced a deep existential crisis – or even a vague ennui - at having missed something. If I swoon later today, or get the vapours… well, I’ll update this comment (once I rise from my chaise longue).

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  104. @Wayne
    I grew up in the late fifties and sixties. The beginning of this isolation trend was central air conditioning. Before AC folks went out on the porch in the evenings and conversed with neighbors. We kids played outside because it was too hot in the house. We interacted with the other kids in the neighborhood playing games and settling disputes where we learned how to interact with people.

    I wish Linh Dinh would get rid of the “h’s” at the end of his first and last name so it would be Lin Din. Much easier on the eyes on a book cover or anywhere else. Bottom line, if he wants to sell books, have an simple, easy to remember name.

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    • Replies: @sayless
    Re Linh's name: The spelling's a little distracting because the pronunciation isn't obvious. Lynn Dean? Lynn Din?

    Linh, help me out here--

    , @Dan
    This is tongue-in-cheek, right? If not, Linh might simply say, "I rest my case."
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  105. @John Parsons
    When I heard a Ph.D. friend tell me some time back that grammar and spelling aren't all that important anymore, I realized how bad things had really become, especially in academe. Here you have a supposedly highly educated man tell you that the organization and methodology of communication in which he had been taught everything he knows, doesn't matter that much anymore because we now have spellcheck and grammar correcting software. His tolerance for slovenliness and inexactitude in language gives me concern if this attitude has spread into the hard science areas of the university. How long before we see aeroplanes drop out of the sky because the engineers who designed it didn't think that it was important to work out the wing stresses because they assumed their software did it already. We don't have rules for sentence structure and grammar because they are pretty, we have them because they make communication more exacting and leave less chance for error when we are conveying complicated information. We may be getting sloppy with our education here in the western world, but I can't believe for a minute that the Chinese are doing the same thing. They have been observing us under a microscope for a long time now and see how we are letting ourselves slide down into the abyss further and further. If we don't radically change ourselves, they are going to be our masters and we will be unable to change it

    Grammar is slightly important, but spelling is almost irrelevant (and spelling has been irrelevant for most of the history of the English language).

    As to grammar: is it really important whether or not a writer (or speaker) splits an infinitive? (“To boldly go” is an example of a split infinitive).

    After all ,the prohibition on split infinitives only came about in (middle class) English because they wanted to couch English grammar in a broader context of Greek and Latin grammar – and in Latin, infinitives are single words that can’t be split: you literally can’t put an adjective or adverb between ‘to’ and ‘go’ in Latin, because the infinitive is īre, or , or īvī or or ītum (how’s that for ridonkulous).

    And also – I don’t want to be snarky, because sometimes it’s a ‘device’ problem – but splitting walls of text into paragraphs is at least as useful as getting spelling, grammar and punctuation right (paragraphs are probably ‘canonically’ part of punctuation and grammar and orthography, but it’s so long since I studied English that I’ve forgotten).

    And of course that brings into focus where one paragraph should stop and another should begin: a paragraph for each individual argument? That’s a super-bad rule.

    There are all sorts of stupid stupid rules that do not advance the communications-ball a single inch.

    “Don’t end sentences with a preposition”; “don’t start a paragraph with an adverb” …

    Seriously – what are these people on?

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    • Replies: @sayless
    Standard spelling of English is desirable to some of us because the antecedents of the word are revealed. It's elegant. Around half of English vocabulary has Greek or Latin roots; spelling can help with vocabulary recognition. Other tributaries are recognizable too, for example the sk - found in words with Scandinavian roots. But not everyone is interested in language like that.

    In languages like Russian where the spelling is consistently phonetic
    do teachers have the same difficulties teaching kids how to read? In the U.S. it seems there is a fad or a conflict around how best to do it, constantly. Same as math.

    Dimitri Orlov observed that in the U.S. talented people can be held back in their careers of they can't spell properly. There's an assumption that they aren't intelligent...

    Spelling reform? I don't like it, or the metric system either.
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  106. In the early ’80′s I was new to Chicago and new to a big city. Watching TV news over the course of about a week I watched 3 stories that the news people got completely wrong because I knew something about each of them. We got rid of the TV shortly thereafter.

    Working at the Chicago Board of Trade meant newspapers were all around, mostly the Sun Times as it was an easy format to read… the Tribune was a conventional fold which some commuters had mastered. Reading each paper was part of every day; the Sunday Tribune being especially big and enjoyable.

    Only because of the internet did I become aware of how biased and misled I was when limited to news from television, magazines and newspapers. For that I’m immensely grateful. The downside is that it’s even harder to discern real news from mere opinion and FAKE news.

    The opportunity to read lots of different sources is, in my opinion, far superior to daily papers. Every industry has been disrupted by the interest, why should newspapers be any different.

    We surely have lost that common bond that daily newspapers allowed…. something will take its place and the future, sorry to say DISTANT future, will be much better… getting there gonna be a challenge though.

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  107. sayless says:
    @Kratoklastes
    Grammar is slightly important, but spelling is almost irrelevant (and spelling has been irrelevant for most of the history of the English language).

    As to grammar: is it really important whether or not a writer (or speaker) splits an infinitive? ("To boldly go" is an example of a split infinitive).

    After all ,the prohibition on split infinitives only came about in (middle class) English because they wanted to couch English grammar in a broader context of Greek and Latin grammar - and in Latin, infinitives are single words that can't be split: you literally can't put an adjective or adverb between 'to' and 'go' in Latin, because the infinitive is īre, or , or īvī or or ītum (how's that for ridonkulous).

    And also - I don't want to be snarky, because sometimes it's a 'device' problem - but splitting walls of text into paragraphs is at least as useful as getting spelling, grammar and punctuation right (paragraphs are probably 'canonically' part of punctuation and grammar and orthography, but it's so long since I studied English that I've forgotten).

    And of course that brings into focus where one paragraph should stop and another should begin: a paragraph for each individual argument? That's a super-bad rule.

    There are all sorts of stupid stupid rules that do not advance the communications-ball a single inch.

    "Don't end sentences with a preposition"; "don't start a paragraph with an adverb" ...

    Seriously - what are these people on?

    Standard spelling of English is desirable to some of us because the antecedents of the word are revealed. It’s elegant. Around half of English vocabulary has Greek or Latin roots; spelling can help with vocabulary recognition. Other tributaries are recognizable too, for example the sk – found in words with Scandinavian roots. But not everyone is interested in language like that.

    In languages like Russian where the spelling is consistently phonetic
    do teachers have the same difficulties teaching kids how to read? In the U.S. it seems there is a fad or a conflict around how best to do it, constantly. Same as math.

    Dimitri Orlov observed that in the U.S. talented people can be held back in their careers of they can’t spell properly. There’s an assumption that they aren’t intelligent…

    Spelling reform? I don’t like it, or the metric system either.

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  108. sayless says:
    @Jedediah Smith
    I wish Linh Dinh would get rid of the "h's" at the end of his first and last name so it would be Lin Din. Much easier on the eyes on a book cover or anywhere else. Bottom line, if he wants to sell books, have an simple, easy to remember name.

    Re Linh’s name: The spelling’s a little distracting because the pronunciation isn’t obvious. Lynn Dean? Lynn Din?

    Linh, help me out here–

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  109. When do we get to post-America Linh Dinh? Soon I hope.

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  110. Dan says:
    @Stephen Paul Foster
    Exactly! The best definition of rap, hip-hop I've come across -- "degenerate filth that has brutalized generations into thinking that the activities of the criminal class are somehow cool."

    A retired spook I read from time to time once commented that rap is the perfect psyop in that it gets people to celebrate their own inanity. He didn’t have any firsthand information that it is in fact a psychological operation, but given how easily the rigid hierarchical structures we live under are manipulated, it wouldn’t be at all surprising.

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  111. Dan says:
    @Miro23
    Agree that a lot of reading is being transferred from paper to screens. Unz is a good example with the advantage of multiple viewpoints + discussion that was lacking in newspapers/magazines-

    But there is the problem that it reduces book reading time which IMO is still the best way to tackle subjects in depth. Personally, I don't like electronic books, and a minority pleasure is reading a book as it was first issued e.g. Arthur Bryant's "Unfinished Victory" Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1940. It's something to do with the typeface, paper and smell - almost like you're in 1940.

    And no “Introduction” by a wordy academic or other “prominent” figure giving his or her take on the tome. I love original editions.

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  112. Dan says:
    @RudyM
    You grossly underestimate the value of the internet. In the past I might have read a news story and then possibly read something debunking it a few years later, or, at best, a month later, in some news magazine. Now, within 24 hours, I often have multiple analyses and commentaries on that news story. I could never have afforded to subscribe to enough magazines to provide that many alternative accounts of things, had they even existed.

    You also underestimate the degree to which individuals can pick and choose how much they are absorbed into the more negative aspects of these new technologies. I spend an enormous amount of time online, but I don't have any social media accounts at all. I don't have any "devices" aside from my desktop. Maybe the ability of individuals to pick and choose is beside the point when you are looking at large social trends, but don't "we" me. You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations.

    “You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations.”

    Aren’t we all.

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  113. Dan says:
    @Jedediah Smith
    I wish Linh Dinh would get rid of the "h's" at the end of his first and last name so it would be Lin Din. Much easier on the eyes on a book cover or anywhere else. Bottom line, if he wants to sell books, have an simple, easy to remember name.

    This is tongue-in-cheek, right? If not, Linh might simply say, “I rest my case.”

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  114. @Andy
    Actually, I think people these days read more than ever before, they just do it on the Internet instead on the printed page

    Word count isn’t what matters.

    I have found that even the most basic literary allusions are lost on people. And I don’t mean obscure references. College educated people aren’t familiar with things like Huckleberry Finn, but watch every damn show on Netflix. It’s depressing.

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  115. RK says:
    @Colin Wright
    Oh well now...

    I dunno. I'm sixty. Today I was in a big hardware store in Eugene, Oregon. There was this plump little clerk...how could somebody dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a tool belt be so goddamned cute?

    Life goes on.

    Because the plump ones with a good self-esteem goin’—like my wife—are some of the most marvelous, fun people. Also intelligent & compassionate. My family can’t yet quite comprehend how a gal can have both a leather tool belt AND a diamond tennis bracelet on her Xmas list. Wouldn’t trade her for Salma Hayek (unless, of course, Salma came with a good divorce settlement from her billionaire husband, at which point a threesome might be called for).

    Go get her, boy! And treat her good! You’ll never regret it.

    RK

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  116. @Miro23
    Agree that a lot of reading is being transferred from paper to screens. Unz is a good example with the advantage of multiple viewpoints + discussion that was lacking in newspapers/magazines-

    But there is the problem that it reduces book reading time which IMO is still the best way to tackle subjects in depth. Personally, I don't like electronic books, and a minority pleasure is reading a book as it was first issued e.g. Arthur Bryant's "Unfinished Victory" Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1940. It's something to do with the typeface, paper and smell - almost like you're in 1940.

    Exactly. I’m 69 and read constantly whether a book or an article on-screen, but there is no substitution for an actual used book.

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    • Replies: @anon
    It's become easier for aging eyes to read online, rather than paper/books: you can make the print bigger.
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  117. Deschutes says:

    Wow, excellent article, kudos! Capitalism makes everybody rush faster and faster because ‘time is money’ and you need to make the most profit with the least time/ overhead/etc. The Koyaanisqatsi movie sums up the situation in USA very well.

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    • Replies: @Rev. Spooner
    Profits be damned, you are rushing around to stay in the same place. Every time the hoover wooshes over you, all the generated wealth is whisked upstairs and you have inflation to deal with. If you do not understand this, you or your kids will end up as serfs. And this is not capitalism, it's cronyism.
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  118. Olivier says:

    Hi Linh, your PayPal link doesn’t work: it says “Your session is invalid or expired.”

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    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    Hi Olivier,

    Oh man, I can be such a retard! That may explain why there's been no donation.

    I'm not sure what's wrong with the link, but maybe it's specific to my browser.

    If you go to my blog, however, there's a PayPal button near the top, and that definitely works.

    Thanks!


    Linh

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  119. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Olivier
    Hi Linh, your PayPal link doesn't work: it says "Your session is invalid or expired."

    Hi Olivier,

    Oh man, I can be such a retard! That may explain why there’s been no donation.

    I’m not sure what’s wrong with the link, but maybe it’s specific to my browser.

    If you go to my blog, however, there’s a PayPal button near the top, and that definitely works.

    Thanks!

    Linh

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  120. @Kratoklastes
    I seldom read newspapers, and when I do I am usually appalled at what passes for reportage - so I don't understand the mawkish lachrymose sentimentality that grips some people when some or other local rag bites the dust.

    Frankly, I reckon Jefferson pegged it about right in his various well-known diatribes against newspapers. (Yes, he had his own motives for calumniating them - that doesn't mean his criticism wasn't justified or accurate).

    In the normal course of daily events, I read more now than I have at any point in my life: that's saying something, considering the reading load during my undergraduate, Masters and PhD studies in the 1990s. Very little of my current daily reading is in newspapers, because that's not where quality analysis is.

    The internet has enabled immediate access to a vast range of material on any topic - some of it's drivel, and some of it's gold.

    The best indicator of non-drivel, for any subject of more than moderate complexity: it's not produced by a journalist.

    Journalists generally have little more than a dilettante understanding of the subjects they write about, and - again, generally - have no specific training in the subjects that require it (or if they do, not to any level that would enable them to work in the subject itself).

    And when the subject is politics, they are obsessed with 'access' - which in turn means that they are highly unlikely to report truthfully on anything that matters.

    Journalism relies on public ignorance, including the ignorance of journalists' ignorance. For anyone with significant expertise in a subject area, they also need what Michael Crichton dubbed the "Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect".

    So I am glad when newspapers fail the market test and need to be rescued by wealthy oligarchs: it makes it a little clearer why they exist (i.e., to advance the interests of a concentrated constituency - who would, if given their druthers, remain clandestine).

    And yes, from time to time journalism reveals something of consequence - the child molestation in Boston that was revealed by the people at the Globe, for example. However, think a bit harder about that: for how long had the Globe known about, but not reported on, that sordid stuff? Was it really an unknown thing for the entire life of the Globe to that point? Nope: it's just that someone who had been helping suppress the story, lost the will or the ability to do so.

    The term journalists is one of the most abused words in the English language. Not one journalist in a thousand qualifies as a journalist.

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  121. @Wally
    said:
    "It works on semi-smart people too – people who pretend that Frasier, or New Yorker cartoons, are funny because they think pretending to ‘get it’ makes them seem sophisticated."

    Bingooooo!

    www.codoh.com

    Modern art works the same way. Worthless pieces of “art” suddenly become attractive and expensive if a celebrity says they like it.

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  122. @JackOH
    The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio).

    A couple people have left a legacy in Youngstown, as these Vindy articles record:

    http://www.vindy.com/traficant/

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2018/may/13/debartolo-foundation-will-host-celebrity-dinner-au/

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    Solon--, the late Congressman Jimbo Traficant is remembered fondly by many folks here, including me. He was a talented, educated guy, and his iconoclastic, junkyard-dog style was deeply felt by him. I knew him only as a constituent on a howdy-do basis, but I knew a close aide of his a little better.

    I think one reason why Jimbo is remembered so well by folks here is that he tried with some success to expose the Emperor's new clothes---our federal government, in Jimbo's view, I think, is not a whit less corrupt, no less racketeerized than some of our corrupt cities. He tapped into some genuine bafflement by a lot of Americans: "Why aren't things better?"

    I'm not sure he left a political legacy in the sense of politicians wanting to imitate his bang-the-drum populism. That takes a lot of energy, and makes a lot of enemies.

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  123. anon[107] • Disclaimer says:
    @Andre Citroen
    Exactly. I'm 69 and read constantly whether a book or an article on-screen, but there is no substitution for an actual used book.

    It’s become easier for aging eyes to read online, rather than paper/books: you can make the print bigger.

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  124. JackOH says:
    @SolontoCroesus
    A couple people have left a legacy in Youngstown, as these Vindy articles record:

    http://www.vindy.com/traficant/

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2018/may/13/debartolo-foundation-will-host-celebrity-dinner-au/

    Solon–, the late Congressman Jimbo Traficant is remembered fondly by many folks here, including me. He was a talented, educated guy, and his iconoclastic, junkyard-dog style was deeply felt by him. I knew him only as a constituent on a howdy-do basis, but I knew a close aide of his a little better.

    I think one reason why Jimbo is remembered so well by folks here is that he tried with some success to expose the Emperor’s new clothes—our federal government, in Jimbo’s view, I think, is not a whit less corrupt, no less racketeerized than some of our corrupt cities. He tapped into some genuine bafflement by a lot of Americans: “Why aren’t things better?”

    I’m not sure he left a political legacy in the sense of politicians wanting to imitate his bang-the-drum populism. That takes a lot of energy, and makes a lot of enemies.

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  125. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Thomson on CucKen Burn’s documentary.

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n18/david-thomson/merely-an-empire

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  126. Logan says:
    @anonymous
    Depressing, but it seems to be an honest call.

    I'm 56, I've always detested the "American" mass media especially preaching Lib Leftist TV news. I remember Chicago in 1968 with the as bad as it gets Anti War rioters - Abby Hoffman, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd etc also the Black race riots in places like Newark and Detroit with the American mass media spinning these horrible, criminal riots as "protests" or "uprisings against poverty and injustice - yeah right.

    I look at Watergate as a virtual coup de tat by New Times and Washington Post Red Diaper babies Woodward and Bernstein.

    But.....

    I've always admired the printed word and love newspapers especially the letters to the editor section. My favorite political, cultural magazine was The Atlantic Magazine in the early 1990s - lots of great, honest reporting and commentary from an honest secular Liberal perspective - which is basically my own perspective.

    Now this is mostly all gone. The Atlantic Magazine is just a PC, anti White, cult Marxist with some Neo Conservative Zionists spins. The Atlantic Magazine no longer allows comments or letters to the editor.

    CNN is 24/7 "We hate Trump, we hate Trump supporters, We hate Vladimir Putin, we hate the Russians and all remaining European nationalists". CNN is like having Jeff Zucker or Harvey Weinstein or AIPAC lobbyists camped in your living room and they won't leave or won't shut up. They are always lying.

    Feels like we're going down in to a Dark Age, but there have been many dark ages before like the Middle Ages where the only people that knew how to read were Catholic Monks. The higher caste Hindus believe that we are in the final dark age of Kali Yuga and nothing can be done but to awake the last incarnation of Vishnu - Kalki who will destroy the entire evil corrupt world and kill everyone with a cleansing fire.

    In such times maybe we should be building monasteries places to retreat.

    I also highly highly recumbent the electronic weapon:

    "TV B GONE"

    It zaps off TVs everywhere and I use it excessively in my health club as the owner is a blood relative of Time Warner Inc's Gerald Levin and has some deal that he forces everyone to watch CNN - not me.

    I too miss the old Atlantic. Didn’t always agree with it, but it was intelligent and not visibly biased.

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  127. Da Wei says:
    @Wayne
    I grew up in the late fifties and sixties. The beginning of this isolation trend was central air conditioning. Before AC folks went out on the porch in the evenings and conversed with neighbors. We kids played outside because it was too hot in the house. We interacted with the other kids in the neighborhood playing games and settling disputes where we learned how to interact with people.

    Wayne, thanks for bringing this up. I grew up in the 40s and 50s and have similar recollections. Back then, porches and yards were neighborly places, but eventually these gave way to family rooms looking out onto the yards through big picture windows. Eventually, houses were built with reverse floor plans, and the family room was in back looking out onto the fenced back yard. As you say, refrigeration had a lot to do with that, as it also cut down on cranking the ice cream freezer, which was great fun for kids. Here’s an idea for you about what has happened to our society.

    A great institution that fostered a sense of community among men back then — but no longer — was the barber shop. Barber shops were the most fundamental form of men’s lodge. Wait your turn, get a haircut, pay your dues. Conversation flowed on all subjects, with the line being drawn at vulgarity, at least in family shops. Barbers were expected to be skilled and haircuts properly executed; otherwise, you got a bad haircut. These days, there seems to be no such thing as a bad haircut. And there seems to be no line anywhere on vulgarity. Look at that actor, Robert something. Barber shops like that are gone now, except for the black shops. Black people can still have that old style neighborhood barber shop. Nobody calls them racist or nazi. I miss barber shops. I’m an old timey barber, myself.

    You’re right about the effects of technology on our fragmented sense of community, but I think there is another more important aspect than technological engineering at play here, and that is social engineering.

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  128. White people with brains and means got the hell out of Philly 15 years ago.

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  129. Its newspapers were a particularly tiresome feature of 20th century America. Incredible that anyone should miss these rags. They were to wrap fish in.

    A world of fish-wraps and no AC would not be worth living in.

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  130. @JackOH
    The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio).

    I have put the ‘The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio)’ on my Opera browser speed dial.

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  131. @RudyM
    You grossly underestimate the value of the internet. In the past I might have read a news story and then possibly read something debunking it a few years later, or, at best, a month later, in some news magazine. Now, within 24 hours, I often have multiple analyses and commentaries on that news story. I could never have afforded to subscribe to enough magazines to provide that many alternative accounts of things, had they even existed.

    You also underestimate the degree to which individuals can pick and choose how much they are absorbed into the more negative aspects of these new technologies. I spend an enormous amount of time online, but I don't have any social media accounts at all. I don't have any "devices" aside from my desktop. Maybe the ability of individuals to pick and choose is beside the point when you are looking at large social trends, but don't "we" me. You are at your worst when you are making sweeping generalizations.

    I love the PC too, more than any laptop or a smart phone. I’m curious about the reason that you exclude other devices. Is it spying and intrusion into your life ?

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  132. @Deschutes
    Wow, excellent article, kudos! Capitalism makes everybody rush faster and faster because 'time is money' and you need to make the most profit with the least time/ overhead/etc. The Koyaanisqatsi movie sums up the situation in USA very well.

    Profits be damned, you are rushing around to stay in the same place. Every time the hoover wooshes over you, all the generated wealth is whisked upstairs and you have inflation to deal with. If you do not understand this, you or your kids will end up as serfs. And this is not capitalism, it’s cronyism.

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  133. Pericles says:
    @Batman
    Beautiful. Please don't move to Vietnam. But you left out software from the list of contemplative arts. Some of us unemployed programmers still want to practice it even for free. Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don't have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

    Also, go visit Flushing, in NYC. It lifts my spirits to go there. People there look forward, not back, and they don’t have an ethnic chip on their shoulders.

    Nowadays, that’s like living in San Francisco without an immune system.

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  134. Barzini says:

    The mental decline of America may have been caused by cell phones. My doctor is an authority in environmental medicine, and he tells me that heavy users of cell phones have lower IQ’s than others.

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  135. anarchyst says:
    @Low Voltage
    Well, for starters, we could build a high-speed rail system throughout North America. Functional mass transit systems in every city. We could have a real space program. We could grow more labor-intensive organic food. How about building some modern high-density cities in Wyoming or the Dakotas?

    Maybe there's no scarcity in your life, but I know people who work 40 hours/week and have next to nothing. Unless you consider a GMO diet and owning a smartphone to be a full life?

    “Mass transit” is a failure almost everywhere it is tried in America. Our wide-open spaces and the availability of automobiles makes mass transit viable only in large concentrated urban areas, such as New York City and Chicago.
    The automobile has been one of the most liberating inventions as it makes one independent of timetables and schedules, and allows one to haul more than a handful of items–going wherever you want, whenever you want.
    Here in Detroit, the “Q-line” is a newly-installed train system that connects downtown Detroit with the Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, and the New Center area. For the first few months, it was “free”–no fares. Ever since fares were established, ridership has gone down.
    In most cities, mass transit benefits fewer people than it needs to remain viable.

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  136. @RudyM

    Take our song lyrics, which are no longer required to make sense, as long as the beat is righteous.
     
    Not only that but there's all this music that doesn't have words at all. A lot of jazz and classical music is that way. So that music must be for real dummies.

    God, why do I end up reading your articles? I guess it's partly the Philadelphia reference points.

    Music that “doesn’t have words at all” is not song music, dickhead.

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  137. @Andy
    Actually, I think people these days read more than ever before, they just do it on the Internet instead on the printed page

    I enjoyed reading the “Democratic” paper in the am, and the “Republican” paper in the pm…then toss in the NYT a couple times a week. Now, there’s one newspaper in town…hard Left, owned by a syndicate, carrying AP Leftist spin. The NYT is FAKE. Little of it is fit to print. Too bad. I’ve got Unz!

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  138. As a writer I rub shoulders with many other writers n would-be writers. Lessons learned: men don’t read books. Only women do. So if you are writing for a male audience, you’ll go broke. Most male writers therefor have only female protagonists, even tho their writing is drenched in testosterone. The male audience, which in former years might have consumed Conan the Barbarian stories, today program n create videos for YT. OTOH, they are making the money, while women who read actual books n shun programming remain poor.

    In publishing these days, the money is in ebooks. Someone slaps together an overnight “book”, gives it a carefully designed “cover”, sells it for $.99 to teenage girls, n makes a small fortune. Nothing is ever printed on paper n there is no ISBN. What used to be called “real writers” who might spend years on a literary work n get it traditionally published with a ISBN, can’t sell it for the cost of the paper, n can’t give it away as an ebook.

    The world is flat. Publishers, like all media, are losing out to self-publishing of books, videos, n blogs. Compared to Dickens, these are postliterate. But in fact its a new kind of literacy, combining words, video, n programming. And writers finally have a way to circumvent the politicised New York publishing monopoly, which can only be a good thing.

    There are no more gatekeepers. Good literary works are still being produced but the emphasis is now on the creator as the source of a creative stream instead of the product as a separately packaged commodity owned n perhaps weaponized by a politically motivated intermediary.

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