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  1. Blog Roundup 1. Jean Moroney of Thinking Directions explains what we can learn from the momentary desire for destruction that we all experience from time to time: Image by Lucija Ros, via Unsplash, license.Now that I know how to look for those signs of darkness and deprivation, I can catch them sooner, remedy the situation, and reinforce a fully positive context. I'll write more later about the remedy. The easy-access version is: Retreat temporarily. Be kind with yourself. You are at the limits of your capacity in some way. What is causing a sense of deprivation? If you can identify a rational value you are willing to go after, which seems to address the issue, do so. That will help you out of this state. The longer version is, you need to "Transform the Pain of Unmet Needs into the Beauty of the Needs." This is a process I learned at the same conference at which I realized a few people were motivated by destruction.The connection between the "prickliness" and the condition of unmet needs is brilliant. That and the remedy remind me of how (after researching a minor medical condition of mine) I learned to recognize signs of dehydration in myself in time to avoid passing out. That said, one of the things I learned then was that, for my condition, both the prodrome and the trigger for syncope can vary among individuals. (e.g., In my case, if I feel averse to food and want to get out of my situation for no apparent reason -- I am dehydrated. I can keep from passing out by reclining and rehydrating.) Obviously, the unmet needs Moroney speaks of will vary by individual and situation. I would not be surprised if introspection might yield a different (though unpleasant) feeling (i.e., not necessarily prickliness) for different individuals as well: As with my dehydration problem, I will need to give this thought. 2. At New Ideal, Ben Bayer discusses the folly of trying to treat an ethical question as if it were solely a scientific one. Here are his closing remarks: Defenders of abortion rights need to check their philosophical eyewear. Without doing so, they may unwittingly be looking at the world through the same lenses as their opponents. If they don't challenge the assumptions that rights derive from God's will or from our capacity for pleasure or pain, they won't convince anyone that the fetus has no rights and that a woman does. Invoking our uncertainty about science only obscures the real issue. Defenders of abortion rights need a worldview that provides moral clarity.In addition to explaining the above, the earlier part of Bayer's post raises some interesting (and real) ethical considerations recent scientific work can raise for prospective parents. 3. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn considers the false dichotomy between artistic and commercial success: Creation of high quality products, including paintings, must start with a primary focus on reality, not on other people. While it is true that buyers of products, including art, have needs or wants waiting to be fulfilled, the most successful producers and artists -- painters, writers, musicians, and others -- are prime movers: they create original, innovative products that create their own demand. Steve Jobs, and other innovators like him in other industries, did not conduct popularity votes among customers (or imitate their competitors) to decide what to produce but focused on creating best personal computers and smart phones, trusting -- correctly -- that in time there would be plenty of willing buyers for them. Disdaining an audience is absolutely not the same thing as making a well-grounded judgement that that audience will largely disagree with, at least for a time. (Insert joke about price rises and dead artists here -- then give serious thought to marketing.) 4. Over at the blog of the Texas Institute for Property Rights comes a cautionary tale: Imagine the following scenario: You buy a house and over the next forty years the property significantly appreciates in value. The previous owner then threatens to terminate the sale unless you renegotiate the deal...Unfortunately, in today's political climate, the lesson is for us, not the previous owner! Too many of us take the right to contract for granted, and unprincipled opportunists are trying to cash in. To see what I mean, read the rest of the post. The fact that you will not be too surprised should serve as a warning: Our courts and legislatures are teeming with attempts (of which this is one) and proposals to undo contracts presumably signed by consenting adults. -- CAV Link to Original
  2. Cal Newport uses email as his example of a common error people make when evaluating a technology: homing in on its superiority to what it replaced with little thought given to how it integrates with the rest of their lives. He calls this the utility fallacy: [It's] the tendency, when evaluating the impact of a technology, to confine your attention to comparing the technical features of the new technology to what it replaced.But the superiority of email to, say, faxes, is hardly the whole picture. Newport continues: In terms of getting news, the internet is better... (Image by Dutch National Archive, via Wikipedia, no known copyright restrictions.)[A]lmost everything interesting about our current struggles with [these technologies] concerns the impact of these tools on our lives beyond the screen. The point too often missed in a cooly instrumentalist understanding of technology is that we don't use these tools in a vacuum; we instead participate in complicated social systems that can careen in unforeseen directions when powerful new technological forces are introduced. Features are important, but they're not the whole story. [bold added, link omitted]I am glad Newport is paying attention to this kind of problem, and will smilingly think of a fax machine burying an old office in paper the next time I tidy up my in-box. -- CAV Updates Today: Made minor corrections to opening paragraph. Link to Original
  3. I refused to cast a vote for President in 2016 and am no fan of Donald Trump. That said, I don't generally give him much more thought than any other President I can remember. This apparently makes me a rare bird, if accounts of widespread Trump Derangement Syndrome -- or the infatuation with the Orange Man some acquaintances of mine seem to have -- are any indication. Since so many of his policies involve government control of the economy, I regarded him as little better than a Democrat on that score before the election, and only the far-left lurch of that party since then has caused me to begin to consider holding my nose and casting a vote for him in 2020. I do not want to starve in the dark, and although Trump is no capitalist, his reelection may afford more time to fight for freedom than any of the likely alternatives. Enter Heather Mac Donald, and her timely exploration of a topic that seems never to be far from the mind of the typical Trump-obsessed leftist: his alleged racism. Mac Donald makes a succinct case in the Wall Street Journal that, contrary to Respectable Blue State Opinion (aka, Almost All You Ever Hear on the News), Trump is not the one dividing the country by race. (Her points stand even allowing for him stooping to take advantage of the acrimonious climate others have created.) Here is what she has to say after correctly naming academia as the source of so many of the more fashionable ideas on the left: Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikipedia, license.Ms. Warren recently provided an unwitting summary of academic identity politics. Mr. Trump's "central message" to the American people, she declared, is: "If there's anything wrong in your life, blame them -- and 'them' means people who aren't the same color as you." She has in mind a white "you," but change the race and you encapsulate the reigning assumption on college campuses -- that white people are the source of nonwhite people's problems, and any behavioral or cultural explanations for economic disparities are taboo. The academy's reflexive labeling of nonconforming views as "hate speech" has also infiltrated popular rhetoric against Mr. Trump. The president's views on border control and national sovereignty are at odds with the apparent belief among Democratic elites that people living outside the country are entitled to enter at will and without consequences for illegal entry. To the academic and democratic left, however, a commitment to border enforcement can only arise from "hate." Such a pre-emptive interpretation is a means of foreclosing debate and stigmatizing dissent from liberal orthodoxy.I disagree with Trump's immigration policies (among many other things), but I can see them coming from a place other than "hate." Furthermore, since I also disagree with Democrats on aspects of this issue, I do not appreciate their obvious hatred for debate, to say the least. Mac Donald is on the money here, and it is high time that someone named the real apostles of racial identity politics -- also known in better days as racism. And it is interesting to ask whether psychological projection might at least partially account for the constant accusations that Trump is a racist. -- CAV Link to Original
  4. Some time ago, I opined that recycling -- at least as most people have thought of it since the 1970s -- is a waste of time. And so it is amusing to note some surface similarities between a passage I wrote at the time, and one from a recent piece in the leftist U.K. Guardian. There is no cause to cry Plagiarism! and certainly less to say, "Great minds think alike." In my piece, I wrote: This ritual might be better than toting a blue can to the curb every week -- if it involved burning trash. (Image by Jimmy Salazar, via Unsplash, license.)Let's be clear about what recycling is. Although you might think it was invented by hippies who, as Ayn Rand once put it, "would pollute any stream by stepping into it," recycling pre-dates China itself, and began the moment someone realized that it saved time, effort, and/or money to re-use an object or any of its raw materials. In fact, the practice was so economical that there was no need for scolds and government bureaucrats: People have made careers by buying, collecting and selling scrap metal, rags, and even human waste. Nevertheless, in the days of rag-pickers and night soil collectors, some things were recycled and some things were not -- because it was a waste of time, effort, or money. Tells, those large mounds arising after centuries of human habitation, attest to this in addition to accounting for many archaeological discoveries. But around the 1970s, hippies changed the goal of recycling from benefiting human life to preserving the natural world. Lest you think I quibble, consider how that affects even a simple choice: Toss out a cheap soft drink bottle -- or wash it and send it off to a recycling plant, regardless of whether it is quicker or cheaper to make a new one.And here is a similar passage from the Guardian: Recycling is as old as thrift. The Japanese were recycling paper in the 11th century; medieval blacksmiths made armour from scrap metal. During the second world war, scrap metal was made into tanks and women's nylons into parachutes. "The trouble started when, in the late 70s, we began trying to recycle household waste," says [Professor Roland] Geyer. This was contaminated with all sorts of undesirables: non-recyclable materials, food waste, oils and liquids that rot and spoil the bales.Both of us acknowledge the ancient pedigree of recycling, its past thriftiness, and the fact that something went amiss in the 1970's. But to read the Guardian, you would think that recycling household waste was a new idea. It was not. Look in any old cookbook at some of the animal parts and leftovers people used to incorporate into their cooking and you'll see what human-centered recycling of household waste looks like. Recall also that, even back then, there were things even rag-pickers didn't recycle. When food became really cheap due to the green revolution (the real revolution, concerning agriculture) people didn't have to keep eating slop, and it became as uneconomical to recycle certain food wastes as the packaging some of the food came in. But if you don't understand the difference between thrift and "saving" (some idealized version of) "nature" -- perhaps because you view thrift as a mere commandment rather than a life-promoting virtue -- then such a distinction will make no sense. Christian morality -- or its secularized leftist/Kantian offshoot -- will lead such a person to believe that recycling is a good thing regardless of whether it actually promotes human life. This is because both directly lead to a failure to understand the nature or practicality of virtue. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as an action that is intrinsically good, such as the mindless ritual that recycling has become over the last fifty years. -- CAV Link to Original
  5. Gone, apparently, are the days I could half-jokingly summarize my political philosophy as, "The government should keep its hands out of our pockets and out of our pants." Uh-oh! (Image by Cristian Newman, via Unsplash, license.)It's late to retire that joke, I know, with the Republicans no longer even imagining spending cuts. But still, once you read Megan McArdle's piece regarding the idea of changing the legal basis for defining sexual assault, you will have had a rude awakening. A new variety of Puritan is working to bring horror stories about consent forms from college campuses to everyone's bedroom. Here is McArdle explaining why the idea is a bad one: [A]s any biologist, or sales manager, can tell you, systems that rely entirely on positive feedback are unstable. They have no natural stopping point, no way of saying "enough." Which is the fundamental problem with affirmative consent: There is no way to be completely sure that consent was sufficiently affirmative. That's why good systems almost always incorporate at least some negative feedback -- and why rape laws have historically relied on "no means no," not "yes means yes." Affirmative consent's plain unworkability hasn't damaged its appeal in some quarters. California in 2014 and New York in 2015 imposed these rules on state college campuses. On Monday, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates considered a proposal to urge state legislatures to adopt an affirmative-consent standard in their criminal codes. The idea drew the support of 165 ABA delegates, but they were outnumbered by 265 more-sensible colleagues, who voted to table the measure indefinitely. But the idea remains in the air. [bold added]A consequence of such a "standard" that McArdle later names is that it criminalizes just about any sexual encounter. She is absolutely correct to warn against "a legal system that makes everyone into either a victim or a criminal." If you thought the left stood, however imperfectly, for freedom in the social realm, think again: Approaches to the law like this -- where one has no way of knowing one's own compliance -- are the stuff from which dictatorships are made. Two quotes from Ayn Rand are relevant here (and happen to appear consecutively in The Ayn Rand Lexicon (Go there for references.): It is a grave error to suppose that a dictatorship rules a nation by means of strict, rigid laws which are obeyed and enforced with rigorous, military precision. Such a rule would be evil, but almost bearable; men could endure the harshest edicts, provided these edicts were known, specific and stable; it is not the known that breaks men's spirits, but the unpredictable. A dictatorship has to be capricious; it has to rule by means of the unexpected, the incomprehensible, the wantonly irrational; it has to deal not in death, but in sudden death; a state of chronic uncertainty is what men are psychologically unable to bear. [bold added]In other words, affirmative consent is worse than even the most benighted bedroom legislation I have ever heard of. And: The legal hallmark of a dictatorship [is] preventive law -- the concept that a man is guilty until he is proved innocent by the permissive rubber stamp of a commissar or a Gauleiter. [bold added]Affirmative consent alone would not, of course, spell our doom. But passage of such would set a very bad precedent, and getting the public used to such laws would further erode our semi-individualist culture, to say the least. -- CAV Link to Original
  6. Four Funny Things Some of these come from rabbit holes. You have been warned... 1. Click the "view" button here for an amusing synopsis of The Wizard of Oz. 2. If you find humor in stories about people being flummoxed by/around/concerning computers, the retro-looking Computer Stupidities site has you covered. Image by Lara Far, via Unsplash, license.I recently had a problem setting the video resolution on a new laptop. Me: "It seems that the resolution is supposed to be 1900x1200. It's set to that, but it's not displaying right." Tech Support: "Yes, that is 1900x1200." Me: "No, I have my old computer up here, and it's also set to that resolution, and the icons are much smaller." Tech Support: "Well, so what? Don't you want a bigger resolution?" Me: "Um, no, a bigger resolution means that the icons get smaller. I think I should reinstall the drivers." Tech Support: "No. How long have you been experiencing this problem?" Me: "Since the computer started, remember?" Tech Support: "Just on this startup?" Me: "Yes, this is the only startup." Tech Support: "OK, what did you change on the computer since the last startup?" Me: "What? Nothing. Listen, this is a new comp--" Tech Support: "No, I mean, what have you done with your computer recently?" Me: "I took it out of the box." Tech Support: "Why was your computer in a box?"The above conversation came from the "stupid tech support" section. 3. Professor Andreas Zeller offers academics a list of twelve LaTeX packages that will get your paper accepted: The pagefit package. This immensely useful package makes your paper exactly fit within a given page limit, applying a genetic search algorithm to reduce baseline distances, white space, font sizes, or bibliographic references until it exactly fits. Just write \usepackage[pages=12,includingbibliography]{pagefit} and enjoy.I do not miss journal submission guidelines. 4. Some time back, Alison Green of Ask a Manager asked her readers to post stories of unprofessional behavior they did not regret. I suspect that the below may have been one of the funniest of the hundreds of responses she received: I quit a job on my first day. Very similar situation- boss got angry because I didn't know things and I apparently wasn't "grateful enough" for being hired. Boss decided to go to lunch and leave me to run the reception/pick-up/drop-off area (this was daycare/preschool). Parent came in angry about something and proceeded to yell at me for 10 minutes about it. When they finally paused for air, I told them it was my first day, I didn't know how to fix their problem and they should probably find another daycare. When boss came back from lunch 2 hours later, I told her this wasn't working for me. She demanded her logo shirt back so I took it off and walked to my car in my bra. I don't regret it.I hope for the kids' sake that that boss is out of that business. -- CAV Link to Original
  7. Miss Manners offers her take on a woman complaining about her boyfriend's insistence on her delivering his lunch to work every day -- and his childish behavior regarding her reasonable pushback: Image by Drew Beamer, via Unsplash, license.GENTLE READER: As living together is often touted as a tryout period prior to a more permanent arrangement, it might be productive to examine the lessons learned about your boyfriend's behavior, as Miss Manners assures you that your own was proper.I couldn't agree more, and offer my own positive experience with a similar situation waaaay back from before Mrs. Van Horn and I tied the knot. The first time she had me rush something to her at the airport, I figured it was a one-off, and complied in time for her to take off. (This was before our government instituted security theater at airports in response to the atrocities of September 11, 2001.) But then it happened a second and a third time, and on the third time, I decided the established pattern was something that had to change. I told her I had other things to do, and that she needed to think of the purpose of her trip when packing. (I had noticed it was always something peculiar to the trip.) She thanked me for noticing the problem. It never happened again. In fact, much later, she once even spontaneously mentioned how helpful it was that I gave her such clear, succinct, and actionable advice. -- CAV Link to Original
  8. From time to time, I have commented on efforts (primarily "National Popular Vote") to do away with the Electoral College. NPV, which seems to appeal primarily to Democrats, has gained ground over the years. Currently, DC and a collection of states with a total of 196 electoral votes have signed on. It would go into effect once the total reached at least 270. Finally, voters are fighting back, as reported by FiveThirtyEight: We are dangerously close to destroying part of our system of checks and balances. Green states are not part of NPV. Black states are. Red states are considering the idea. (Blank map Clker-Free-Vector-Images, via Pixabay, license.)According to the Colorado secretary of state's office, the 227,198 signatures are likely the most ever submitted for a statewide ballot initiative in Colorado -- certainly the most since at least 2001. Now, it's typical for about 20 percent of signatures to be thrown out during the verification process. But because the referendum needs only 124,632 valid signatures to qualify, up to 45 percent of them could be tossed and the measure would still make the ballot. (The secretary of state's office will announce whether it has done so by Aug. 30.) [links omitted]The piece predicts at least an initially close referendum vote, but hedges for reasons not clear to me: "I would still expect support for the law to decrease as opponents prosecute the case against the National Popular Vote, so even a lead of, say, 10 points (akin to the national breakdown) would not be secure." Regardless, I hope Colorado withdraws from this foolish step away from the federal republic our Founders so carefully designed. Unfortunately, states with enough electoral votes to make the point moot are considering the compact. -- CAV Link to Original
  9. An investigation into the collision between an American warship and an oil tanker in 2017 has caused the Navy to (finally) realize that touchscreen controls are not necessarily a great idea: Image by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Todd Frantom, via Wikipedia, public domain.The NTSB report calls out the configuration of the bridge's systems, pointing out that the decision to transfer controls while in the strait helped lead to the accident, and that the procedures for transferring the controls from one station to another were complicated, further contributing to the confusion. Specifically, the board points to the touchscreens on the bridge, noting that mechanical throttles are generally preferred because "they provide both immediate and tactile feedback to the operator." The report notes that had mechanical controls been present, the helmsmen would have likely been alerted that there was an issue early on, and recommends that the Navy better adhere to better design standards. Following the incident, the Navy conducted fleet-wide surveys, and according to Rear Admiral Bill Galinis, the Program Executive Officer for Ships, personnel indicated that they would prefer mechanical controls. Speaking before a recent Navy symposium, he described the controls as falling under the "'just because you can doesn't mean you should' category," and that ship systems were simply too complicated. He also noted that they're looking into the design of other ships to see if they can bring some system commonalities between different ship classes. Better late than never. I have stated before that Touchscreens Everywhere has always seemed faddish to me. I am glad that others are realizing the same. New technology, however dazzling, is not always an improvement over old. Sometimes, you just need a knob or a lever. As we see here, those primitive-seeming objects have the underappreciated ability -- missing in a touchscreen -- to provide feedback to the user through more than one sensory modality, and probably more intuitively on top of that. As the rest of the article indicates, touchscreens weren't the only factor causing the incident, but I have absolutely no trouble with the idea that they made a significant contribution. -- CAV Link to Original
  10. After the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, people have naturally wondered, What went wrong? Predictably, in this time of central planning, the most common answer has been some version of The government didn't have enough control. One moment's thought about the history of aviation -- It may beggar belief, but the Wright Brothers were not government bureaucrats. -- should cast suspicion on that idea. Image by Acefitt, via Wikipedia, license.So let's assume the best-case scenario for the idea that the crashes were a symptom of a lapse of oversight of the airline industry -- that the government was supposed to perform the kind of (non-government) oversight that, say, a watchdog group or professional association might perform in a fully capitalist system. Given that Boeing is (or should be) in the business to make a profit off selling airplanes, it seems incredible that such a serious design flaw could make it all the way into production and use. In other words, yes, having a second set of eyes examine design is a very good idea, but having one's livelihood at stake is even better. And as the Times article notes, safety regulations have grown more stringent over time -- and yet the older aircraft, which had to meet less stringent standards, has an excellent safety record. Granted, horrendous mistakes can and do slip through the cracks from time to time, but shouldn't we, in the name of our own safety, double-check the pat explanation that handing more control to the government will guarantee our future safety? The government has all kinds of control in Venezuela, for example, and that place is a train wreck. As it turns out, we should, for the government has already exercised more control over Boeing than meets the eye. Although the Times makes no mention of it, the Boeing that produced the 737 Max is very different from the Boeing that produced previous generations of the 737. It is, in fact, the product of a government-pressured merger, as Matt Stoller argues in "The Coming Boeing Bailout?" at his blog, Big. One consequence of this merger with McDonnell Douglas was that the new firm was no longer run by aviation engineers as Boeing had been, but by non-engineers who were also used to ... non-capitalistic ways of doing "business": The key corporate protection that had protected Boeing engineering culture was a wall inside the company between the civilian division and military divisions. This wall was designed to prevent the military procurement process from corrupting civilian aviation. As aerospace engineers Pierre Sprey and Chuck Spinney noted, military procurement and engineering created a corrupt design process, with unnecessary complexity, poor safety standards, "wishful thinking projections" on performance, and so forth. Military contractors subcontract based on political concerns, not engineering ones. If contractors need to influence a Senator from Montana, they will place production of a component in Montana, even if no one in the state can do the work.There is much more of merit, despite (for example) an apparent leftish bias by Stoller against "white collar" management as such. Given the government's role in corrupting a once-great company by turning it into a monopoly, it clearly deserves at least as much of the blame as a lack of second-checking for this situation. The title of Stoller's post is telling. This situation could well spell doom for Boeing, and perhaps it should. Pumping cash into this de facto government entity will, in that case, maintain a barrier to entry that Ayn Rand warned about regarding government-created monopolies, while presenting the same moral hazard that bailouts of other sorts always present. In other words, perhaps the best tribute to the old Boeing would be to let the new one die, to be replaced by worthy successor or successors. -- CAVLink to Original
  11. Four Things 1. I agree with Alex Epstein that the Green New Deal is an Existential Threat, and am glad to see that his five minute case against same (below) has had a successful launch. Epstein notes, "My recent Prager University video on the Green New Deal has reached 2.3 million views, including over 1.3 million on YouTube alone. It deserves millions more, whether or not Ocasio-Cortez was "just joking" about it "really" being "about climate." 2. My favorite soccer team, Arsenal, are rebuilding the year after changing managers. And they seem to have just wrapped up a very good transfer window: The loan deal for Ceballos gives us something different and he might decide he wants to stay. [Head of Football] Raul [Sanllehi] might want him to too. Pepe gives us the pace and width we've cried out for. Saka and Nelson too. Martinelli brings Brazilian flair up front and his fellow countryman brings ruggedness, sneakiness and a lot of chat to our defending either in midfield or defence itself. He's the kind of player I despised at Chelsea but will now love in a red and white shirt. Tierney, a young left back who'll be desperate to prove his fitness and that the step from the SPL to the PL is not too big for him. Lastly, Saliba. A young and expensive centre back, who in just a few years might well look like a £25 million bargainI'm pretty happy, too, although I am no fan of David Luiz and hope he doesn't give us flashbacks of his poor 2014 World Cup performance against Germany. Elsewhere in the linked post, Rico argues inter alia, "A two year contract is ideal as Saliba and Medley will grow both in age and experience during that time." I can see this as a decent stopgap, but the player looks like a gamble to me. 3. Every single Democrat running for president (so far) scares the living daylights out of me as either (a) an outright supporter of the Green New Deal or (b) a pushover in the face of the inevitable clamoring for same should the Democrats win the Presidency and Congress in 2020. It's so bad I'm considering a vote for Donald Trump, whom I despise and whose ideas on trade are so wrong I am concerned about him bringing on a depression if he wins and continues meddling in trade. That said, the race does offer some entertainment value: The news is particularly bad for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has participated in more than 50 campaign events across the Granite State but garnered just 3 supporters in the Suffolk poll. Not three percent. Three people. [link and italics in original]Gillibrand owns an advantage over the seven who didn't register at all despite the fact that, "voters in New Hampshire often run into presidential candidates or political surrogates while out doing their weekend shopping." 4. And now, for some news I hope you never need to use: Slam on the brakes until the moment just before impact, then release them. This lifts the nose of the car just enough so that you may deflect the animal away from the vehicle, and prevent it from flying directly at you.This comes from the third of three tips in "How to Properly Slam Into Wildlife With Your Car -- to Save Your Life." The first was, "don't speed," which bears mention since, "traffic engineers set the speed limit low not because of the road design, but because this is an area where deer keep diving through windshields." That makes sense, given the ridiculous number of deer (and apparently pointlessly curvy roads) in my old suburban neighborhood west of Baltimore. The speed limits often seemed overly low, but I was following them mainly because the state had speeding cameras everywhere and mailed me a ticket early on. One cheer for that, I guess. I would have appreciated some mention of the deer with the fine, though. -- CAV Link to Original
  12. Amid the latest cacophony of wholesale condemnation of conservatives to follow a mass shooting, Ben Shapiro notes the following: Image by Joshua Sherurcij, via Wikipedia, license.There's something in the water at The New York Times, obviously. Jamelle Bouie, another voice on The Times opinion page, suggested a "connection between white nationalism" and my personal "ideological project." Never mind that I've been perhaps the loudest voice on the right decrying white nationalism for years; that I firmly fight for particular Western civilized values and small-government conservatism that foreclose and despise racism; that I've incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs for my trouble; that I require 24/7 security to protect me from white nationalist blowback; and that just weeks ago, the FBI arrested a white nationalist threatening to murder me. Obviously, all conservatives are the same -- and all are complicit in the mission of white supremacy. [bold added, format edits]Ben Shapiro is offering those who "castigat[e] the character of those who disagree with the left on policy" a chance to step back and practice the empathy they so frequently urge others to do. I am not a conservative and I disagree with most conservatives about "border security", but I hope Shapiro has at least a few takers. -- CAVLink to Original
  13. Update: Shortly after posting, I realized that the above title does not correctly characterize Ngo's theory. That is captured better by the article title, "Dayton Shooter May Be Antifa’s First Mass Killer." I apologize for this error. Writing for the New York Post, Andy Ngo, notes a double standard among leftist politicians regarding two recent mass shootings: Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders succinctly condemned white nationalism -- the ideology espoused by the El Paso shooter in his purported 2,300-word manifesto. However, when it comes to condemning the Dayton shooter's militant far-left views, all remain mum. Others, such as anti-police activist Shaun King, even claimed the Dayton shooter targeted blacks in a hate crime, though racism doesn't appear to have been a component of his twisted worldview.That's old news: Generally the first thing that happens after a mass shooting are wall-to-wall insinuations that the shooter was a right-wing nut job, followed by calls for gun control. The news, Ngo argues, is what a look at the Dayton shooter's social media presence reveals, despite his not leaving behind a manifesto: Image by Becker1999, via Wikipedia, license."Kill every fascist," the shooter declared in 2018 on twitter, echoing a rallying cry of antifa ideologues. Over the next year, his tweets became increasingly violent. "Nazis deserve death and nothing else," he tweeted last October. Betts frequently flung the label "Nazi" at those with whom he disagreed online. By December, he reached out on Twitter to the Socialist Rifle Association, an antifa gun group, to comment about bump stocks, and the SRA responded to him. (A bump stock is an attachment for semiautomatic rifles that allow them to fire much faster.) In the months leading to his rampage, Betts expressed a longing for climactic confrontation. In response to an essay by Intercept writer Mehdi Hassan titled, "Yes, Let's Defeat or Impeach Trump -- but What If He Doesn't Leave the White House?" the shooter wrote: "Arm, train, prepare." By June he tweeted: "I want socialism, and I'll not wait for the idiots to finally come round understanding." Last week, he promoted posts that demonized Sens. Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy's resolution against antifa extremism. [bold added, format edits]This is deeply disturbing for many reasons, but Ngo spells it out just to be sure: "As anyone familiar with 20th-century history knows, apocalyptic ideas of this kind won't stop with street thuggery." Ngo hypothesizes that the Dayton shooter may have been Antifa's first mass murderer, but he is absolutely correct to connect the dots between the "anti-law-enforcement rhetoric" emanating from the "punch a 'Nazi'" left and the actions of Antifa. -- CAV Updates Today: Added clarification on bad post title. Link to Original
  14. Build Your Products for Them I have given favorable mention to Alex Epstein's Human Flourishing Project podcast series here from time to time. One of the more important general takeaways from that series has been to seek out and learn from experts in those areas of life you want to improve. (This is not easy: It can be hard to know that someone really is an expert!) Over at Medium comes an intriguing application of that kind of advice to the problem of software design, in an essay by Prachi Nain. Its title is "Stop Designing Products for Random People: Focus on the High-Expectation Customer, the Most Organic Way to Build and Scale a Product." The idea that there can be overlap between design and marketing was intriguing enough to cause this writer to wonder what Jain means by a "high expectation customer" (an idea that she notes she did not originate). Here is her definition: The High-Expectation Customer (HXC) is a 3-in-1 customer who is a benefiter (Someone who is going to benefit the most from your product), a hacker (Someone who is using multiple hacks to solve the problem), and an expert (People aspire to emulate her).Jain explains why it is important to design for this customer better than I can, but I think a big part of this can be gleaned from her advice on conceptualizing and identifying HXCs: If you want to make a better shoe, talk to some really serious runners. (Image by Gemma Evans, via Unsplash, license.)A sure shot way of identifying your HXC is getting a yes to at least two of these questions: After using your product, will the person get better at {something that's a big deal for this person e.g. saving money, running faster, improving brain health}? Is the person already looking for solutions for the problem you are trying to solve? Do others see this person as someone who's not just a usual {coffee drinker, tourist, employee} but more of a {coffee geek, traveler, gig economy worker}? We can't always get lucky finding a complete 3-in-1. Don't go looking for one person who's a complete hacker, benefiter, and expert. Instead, hunt for these traits in potential customers and build upon your HXC profile. You might stumble upon people who are somewhat hackers, likely benefiters, and total experts, or with any other permutation or combination.It is not hard to see a beneficial positive feedback loop developing here. Building a profile of this type of customer focuses early efforts. Such customers, having a vested interest in the product, will offer useful suggestions that can lead to improvements (rather than, say, post an angry review and quit). And people who know such customers and see them using the product will want to try it themselves, building the customer base. -- CAV Link to Original
  15. An Atlantic article considers the sudden proliferation of meal delivery services like Uber Eats, mostly from a leftish perspective, but nonetheless finds a grain of truth: Image by Zane Lee, via Unsplash, license.Often too busy and depleted to cook, or disinclined to do the whole sit-down thing, the typical restaurant patron today isn't looking for an old-fashioned restaurant -- that is, a place to sit still. Working, streaming, commuting, caregiving, and cleaning, today's diners are vehicles of perpetual motion who seek efficient fuel. Meal-delivery companies are a symbol of what might be the most powerful force in business today: convenience maximalism. The through line that connects the surge of e-commerce and online delivery (and practically every thriving digital business) is the triumph of consumer ease and logistical immediacy, in every arena of life. But despite the joys of having what we want, when we want, and how we want it, informed consumers are learning too much about the dark underbelly of the convenience economy to fully ignore its costs. Like the garbage mounds of cardboard and plastic, guilt is, for now, a necessary by-product of instant gratification. [bold added]Well, guilt is a by-product -- for leftists. I, for one, am not troubled by cardboard and plastic, which are not valuable enough to recycle after they have served their purpose. That's what landfills are for. Moving on, my biggest concern regarding this new sector is: Will it last? Our family once had a nice dinner delivered from Outback steakhouse when we had out-of-town guests and didn't want to drag our tired, cranky kids to a restaurant. There was no extra charge, although we tipped the deliveryman. I would imagine the restaurant paid the delivery company, making an extra sale that wouldn't have otherwise happened. And I suspect that the quality of the dining at the restaurant was improved that night over what it might have been, had we gone. But the benefits of online delivery extend further. Ages ago, for example, I concluded that take-out was usually a losing proposition time-wise, due to time spent driving, particularly if the option required a round trip. But if I don't have to drive? Delivered food starts becoming competitive time-wise -- so long as I am able to use the time I would have otherwise spent in the kitchen or fetching dinner. That can include relaxing, although that is not always a factor for me because I enjoy cooking. In any event, more easily enjoying a good meal or saving time from meal preparation are just two ways this new kind of business can improve our lives. I hope they find a way to achieve long-term profitability. -- CAVLink to Original
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