Sunday, December 30, 2018

Interesting Things 12/30/2018

1. The Agony of Fortnite Addiction

I like Dreher a lot, but in my opinion, he is seriously off-base here. This article seems like it could have been written in the 1980's when home video games were some kind of new thing, but it is simply absurd to promote this kind of fearmongering in this day and age. Among other absurdities, he laments that children are lonely and won't have anyone to play with in their neighborhoods since everyone playing video games. Seriously, what decade does he think it is? People can play video games too much, just like they can read too much, play sports too much, or anything else. Dreher can raise his children whatever way he sees fit, but I am pretty confident that his ban on Fortnite is going to be viewed by his son the same way many of my peers now view their parent's ban on Harry Potter back in the day; as stupid and foolish.

To his credit, he posts a readers response that pushes back a little on some of his points.

2.  What to Tell Our Kids About the State of the World

An article with great promise that quickly goes downhill. I am all for people teaching their children to be data literate, but due to epistemological differences with the author and the annoying Pinker crowd that means completely different things between us. Trump and other populist surges? The dying gasp of backward people who haven't opened their eyes to Science(TM). Therefore, we must teach our children "to think critically". Which, in absurd Pinker land, means "the ability to bypass one’s intuitions, emotions, biases and faith, and the ability to rigorously appraise evidence. It involves applying a good deal of scientific skepticism, i.e. applying the scientific method." Which is all fine and dandy if it wasn't a bunch of hogwash.

In the end, there are only two kinds of knowledge; historical and praxeological. Praxeological knowledge is that which is derived from the logical necessity by virtue of man being an acting being. It is apodictic, or beyond dispute by the very structure of reality. All other knowledge is historical knowledge, or in other words experiential knowledge. The scientific method is merely one imperfect method of trying to analyze experience in a rigorous manner that does not work for every circumstance. An experiment is merely one singular experience in history which is set up in such a way as to be useful for predicting and setting a future course of action based on this past experience. It is not apodictic, hence why the consensus of scientific knowledge is always changing.

We cannot leave out that this mindset, which claims to be based on empiricism, is only empirical in a selective manner in that it completely rejects self-experience, as if a religious experience, something recorded as occurring throughout human history until the present day, is a less valid observation than a an atom smashed in a collider. It is the interpretation of the experience that is the tricky part, whether in a lab or when meditating. If you have not had such experiences, it may be that you are not open to them, no doubt influenced by the Pinker's of the world and their sterile doctrine of Science(TM).

In the Christmas spirit, Francis Church eloquently expressed what the Pinkers of the world miss, in the most reprinted editorial in the English language "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus":

"VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

3. Former McKinsey Exec Imprisoned by Saudis

A rather disgusting tale of greed and cowardice. McKinsey acquired a Saudi man's company and employed him to run it as a subsidiary. Well, he made the thugs who run the country mad and he hasn't been seen or heard from in over a year. In a classic move, McKinsey dropped Hani Khoja from the payroll and has kept up doing its merry business with the Saudi government. Don't count on them for help when the going gets tough. Truly revolting.

4. American Universities’ China Problem

Touching on something similar to what I brought up last week, the author discusses how the influx of Chinese students into American universities along with their billions of dollars of tuition, not to mention working directly with the Chinese government on projects all for the sake of that glorious cold hard cash, is creating incentives for self-censorship. This is not the least bit surprising and is the kind of challenge that the US is going to deal with as other state's gain more and more economic power. I think in the end it is going to come down to culture. Either we tolerate such cravenness, or we don't and make it clear that we don't by socially sanctioning the people and institutions that do. This will also likely become and issue with international corporations, especially tech ones.

 5. Syria is a Distraction from Great Power Competition

Duh. It's China, stupid. "A war for the Scheldt? A war for a chamber pot!"

6. Las Gigantes Tecnológicas Tienen Grandes Problemas
My article on tech regulation was translated into Spanish and republished by the Hispanic Mises Institute.

Song/Video of the Week: New Year's Day by Taylor Swift

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