Lions are not better than tigers

Nor are tigers better than lions.

But they are also not equal, not in the sense of equal as "the same." If you need a pack hunter to bring down very big game, you'd better hire the lions. Need a stealth hunter to sneak up on something alone? Get your self a tiger.

Some people might misread my post on sports performance as implying that men are "better" than women. (In fact, progressive ideologues will want to misread it that way, so they can hurl accusations of "misogyny," because that is how they silence opposition.)

Well, men are better... weight lifters, on average. And "better" serial killers, and genocidal maniacs, and better rapists. None of the last three are at all good things to be better at.

Men and women are equally children of God. But very different children.

Adopting Methodological Individualism...

is like poking out one of your eyes, and then telling everyone that you see no evidence of depth in the world around you.

A methodological individualist mistake

I was just told that because individuals in a nation have diverse interests, the "national interest" does not exist: I was trying to "homogenize" these different groups and treat them as if all of their interests were identical.

As pointed out many times here before, methodological individualism is nonsense, and pernicious nonsense to boot: it leads smart people to say silly things like the above.

Not every cell in my body needs to benefit from a course of action for that course of action to be in my self interest. My foot may need to be amputated for me to survive, but this is very bad for the cells in my foot. (They might have lived another month if left attached, but now they die immediately after the operation.) The interest of cancer cells in my body may run directly against the survival of my body.

Not every player on a sports team needs to benefit from a course of action for that action to be in the team's interest. Benching Callahan might be the best thing for the team, even if it signals that Callahan's career is over.

The people in a corporation may be there for a wide variety of reasons. Some of them may be corporate saboteurs. And many of them may be there just to get a paycheck, and not care at all about the survival of the corporation beyond the last day they are going to work there. Nevertheless, we can still reasonably talk about what is in the interest of the corporation: whatever helps the corporation to survive and become stronger is in its interest.

It is no different with the nation: that which promotes the survival of France as an entity is in France's interest, and that which retards that survival runs against its interest. It makes no difference at all that there may be many residents of France who are indifferent to its survival, or even wish it to disappear. (No difference at all in determining what is in France's interest: of course, if a lot of people inside France want France to disappear, it will have a harder time surviving!)

How to keep your init files on GitHub

I puzzled over this for a little while before figuring out a good approach: create a hard link from your .vimrc, .bashrc, etc. to a repo for all of your inits (mine is InitFiles: https://github.com/gcallah/InitFiles). Then check in these hard-linked files.

You will have to recreate the hard links on every machine you want to update from this repo.

But then, that's it! You edit your init files on the machine you are on, push the changes to the repo, and then pull the changes down to your other machines. Your /home/yourname/.bashrc simply is the same file as InitFiles/.bashrc, and you are good to go!

The marginal efficiency of Russell Westbrook

Today he went 10 for 28 (35.7%), while his team mates shot 32 for 57 (56.1%).

Economic logc would seem to indicate that the Thunder are leaving a huge gain in point output on the table, by failing to shift shot production from an area with lower marginal yield (Westbrook shoots) to one with higher marginal yield, e.g., Steve Adams (80% tonight) shoots. (FYI, these stats, while extreme, are not a one-game anomaly: for the season Westbrook shot 42% while Adams shot 57%.)

Why doesn't this shift occur? Is it that Westbrook is such a valuable player in other ways that the coach does not want to put him into a funk by demanding to shoot less? Other explanations?


You Won't Believe Who Kevin Durant Is Reportedly Dating

I saw this headline today. Well, if you tell me "you won't believe who Kevin Durant is dating"... that might be true. If I found out, for instance, that he was dating Theresa May, I would be very surprised.

But once you add in the word "reportedly," then statements of the class "You won't believe the X is reportedly dating Y" are false for all possible values of X and Y. If you tell me "Donald Trump is dating Beyoncé," I will find that very difficult to believe. But if you tell me that somewhere, someone is reporting that Donald Trump is dating Beyoncé, I will just shrug my shoulders, and say "Of course."

The fable of our time

Is the emperor's new clothes. It can be applied again and again and again.

All over our culture today, we see ideological constructs that are clearly illusory (the emperor is actually naked), but for which the illusion is sustained by the threat of reputational destruction for anyone who states the obvious.

I will give you one example of what I mean, and you can generate many more yourself. Consider the barrage of ads that have been showing this winter and spring, claiming things like "sports knows no gender."

Applying this principle, the US women's soccer team talked about going on strike, because although they were doing "equal work" to the men, they were getting paid less.

Well, that same women's team just lost to a JV high school boys team by a score of 5-2. So the very best women's team in the world just lost to a group of 14-year-old boys from a single high school!

Clearly, far from being equal to the best male players in the world, the very best female players in the world would have great difficulty in making a top-notch boys high school team. I would guess that not a single one of them could make a decent Division One men's university team.

So how could anyone possibly believe all these advertisements? It is like advertisements were claiming that the average American is 20 feet tall, or were selling you dirt, telling you it is a tasty and nutritious food.

Well, they work, because to question the illusion at all is to invite utter social condemnation. Just the way the illusion that the emperor had a grand new suit of clothes on was maintained.

Bad vinegar?

My distilled vinegar says it is only good until January 28, 2021.

What happens after that? Does it turn to wine?

What is the scientific basis for Halal?

I was looking up the rules for Halal food, because I was cooking for a Muslim student of mine. One of the things I found online was frequent questions, from Muslims, along the lines of the title of this post.

This just goes to show how deeply scientism has infected the entire world culture. Why in the world would some religious dietary restrictions need a "scientific" basis? Isn't the fact "God told us not to eat this" enough?

And if you're eating a certain way because you're convinced of the health effects of eating that way, than you are no longer doing it for a religious purpose!



A Peasant Surprise

"When peasants in developing countries lose their direct access to land and the means of production, and become reliant on markets for food, land, and wage labour, they can actually become more dependent and even more vulnerable than they would have been in a peasant society with limited market influence..." -- Bas van Bavel, The Invisible Hand?, p. 6

PS -- Apple voice recognition rendered the previous text as "Bas van Bavel and the invisible hand." This suggests a new series of Harry Potter novels, e.g.:

Harry Potter and the tragedy of the commons
Harry Potter and the prisoner's dilemma
Harry Potter and the paradox of thrift
Harry Potter and the fable of the bees

Etc.


COBOL woes

The language won't die, but that doesn't mean the programmers won't!

Funny quote:

'"Just because a language is 50 years old, doesn't mean that it isn't good," said Donna Dillenberger, an IBM Fellow.'

Right Donna: it's the fact that COBOL sucks that means it isn't good, not the fact that it is old.

The Clinton Foundation is old hat

"The Iraqi elites started to immobilize their wealth in waqfs, or religious and charitable foundations, partly in order to shield it from taxation by the state. The waqf, as an unincorporated and inalienable trust, appeared on the stage around the mid-eighth century and grew in importance by the ninth century, especially in Iraq... A major motive for the foundation of a waqf was the wish to serve a religious, charitable, or public purpose... For the founder, some additional advantages of using this instrument was that he could appoint himself as an administrator of the waqf, he could set his own salary to be paid out of the waqf's funds, he could nominate relatives to positions paid for by the waqf, And he could designate his children as his successors. This last advantage help to circumvent the Islamic inheritance laws… What the same time he could shield the family property from taxation by public authorities." Bas van Bavel, The Invisible Hand?, p. 76