Bill Whittle on Mandatory 16 year Old Voting

Well, it just keeps getting more insane doesn’t it? This time we get two really stupid ideas packaged together, no extra charge from our ‘betters’.

I don’t know about you but, I wasn’t a particularly responsible voter at eighteen. Neither were my friends, we had other things on our minds, mostly girls. :)

But at sixteen the only thing we cared about was getting our driver’s license, and girls and beer, of course :)

They were pretty good days but neither we nor anybody else thought we ought to be required to decide how to run country.

The Ties That Bind, and Some We Should Refuse

She’s right, of course but, Why?
Well to start with because there is government money involved the government(s) will become the gatekeeper, with still another layer of gatekeepers. How do you get through the gate? You please the gatekeeper. Now mind it’s open source software, and I’m an open source guy myself, and so we can all use it. Want to know you’ll use it best? Yep the Anglosphere.

Why? because we don’t wait for much of anything. The old saying is that in Europe one can do anything if it is permitted, but in the Anglosphere we can do anything not prohibited. See the difference? We don’t wait for the government, or much of anything else. We know better..

Her linked article made references to “Uber. WhatsApp. Twitter. Google. Snapchat. Instagram. Facebook.” and there are others as well, nor should we forget many other things, in technology and history as well. They all have something in common. Somebody, usually an individual came up with the idea, found the resources to do it and became very rich, if he did it well.

What they never did was run to the government for help, if they had, somebody would have beaten them.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but when companies run to the government for help, and many of those above have, it’s always means that they have made their fortune, and now want the government to protect them from those coming after. In other words they have become lazy, and complacent, and unable to make it anymore on their own. We have seen this in every industry since the industrial revolution and it’s always the same, and it always hurts the individual citizen.

The Anglosphere is better than the rest because we do less of this nonsense than anybody else does.

Government doesn’t innovate, government only stifles innovation.

That hurts the citizens in two ways; 1) What products never reached the market because of the government, and 2) they do this stuff with the money they have taken by force from the citizens, themselves.

So we get to pay for them to deprive us of the things we (might) want.
My answer to her was this:

The King ( No Longer) in the Parking Lot

Jessica and I have written quite a little about this story starting way back in September of 2012 here, and then here and here as well as the article that forms the basis of this one, and closes the series. because last Thursday King Richard III, the loser at Bosworth field and the last Plantagenet King was re-interred at Leicester.

A Clerk of Oxford compared the whole tumult to the medieval translations of Saints from one cathedral to another. I think she makes a pretty good case, and I find it illuminating to see the same kind of arguments unleashed as were in those translations, as well.

In any case this article of Jessica’s is the centerpiece of what we wrote on this story.


Skull of Richard III

Skull of Richard III

So it was him – it was Richard III, the last Plantagent King of England who the archaeologists found underneath a car park in Leicester in the East Midlands of the UK.  If you don’t care for the romance of history, then look away now, but if you do then like me you’ll have wondered at it all.

Of course, when he was buried there it was a church, which was destroyed at the Reformation, and the site was lost over the years. That the first trench dug by the archaeologists should have yielded his bone was the equivalent for them of a lottery win.

There exists a Richard III Society which sponsored the dig, which seems to think the man was next door to a saint. They react violently to Shakespeare’s fictional portrayal of the king, not seeming to realise that the point of a play is that it is fiction, not history.  One of their claims is that the King was not a hunchback. Well, tough, because this skeleton was; this seems not to have gone down well with some ‘Ricardians'; but they are, themselves, writing fiction.

Richard did not, they say, kill his nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Well, they disappeared from view under his reign, when he took the throne from his eldest nephew, Edward V, and if we ask the simple question of what happened to deposed kings in those days, the answer is that the man who deposed them had them killed: it happened with Edward II, Richard II and Henry VI, so why not with Edward V? The answer of the Ricardians, that their hero wasn’t that sort of guy, won’t wash. They claim the man who defeated Richard at Bosworth, Henry VII did it. There’s no proof at all that the Princes were even alive in 1485, but to exonerate their hero, the Ricardians will blame anyone, even when the obvious is just that – obvious.

That’s what you get with people who already know the conclusion they want before they read the evidence; they read it in the light of their own conclusion; it is why it is pointless to argue with conspiracy theorists and atheists – they already know the truth, they just select the evidence to support it.

There is certainly a mystery with Richard.  As the youngest brother of King Edward IV he won a reputation as a gallant knight and a reliable supporter, and yet, on the sudden and unexpected death of Edward, he seized the throne, imprisoned his nephews, had his enemies executed and declared himself King.  The Ricardians claim that he’d become convinced that stories about his brother’s marriage not being legitimate were correct. When did that one happen? Oh, when Edward IV was dead – how convenient. Isn’t that just the sort of excuse a man with bad conscience would make to excuse himself?

Far more likely that Richard, like others, feared that the new King’s mother and her grasping and ambitious family, the Woodvilles, would seize as much power and money as they could, and that they’d try to get rid of men who stood in their way, as Richard would have done. It was a dog eat dog political world then, as now, and Richard would have acted wisely from his own point of view in seizing the throne.

If he’d won at Bosworth in 1485, no one would have cared one way or the other by now. But he lost – and ended up as the king in the parking lot. Moral of that one – if you seize the throne, better make sure you hang on to it.

And so he was reburied last week with at least a simulacrum of the pomp and majesty of medieval England. There were horses, and knights in shining armor, and pennons not seen in the field for hundreds of years.

And money was spent and money was made, and some decried the pandering to tourists, and some were appalled that he was not translated to York, or Westminster Abbey.

The Ricardians were aghast that he really was a hunchback, but pleased that he got a fancy reinterment. And so now it is all over, and everybody knows (or can know) where every anointed King (or Queen) of England is buried.

And here is the video.

And yet, one is left wondering what our world would have been like if Richard had won. Because so much of the modern world is the growth of what was no more, and no less, than a Tudor Enterprise when they turned the face of England from Europe and faced the outer world. So  much history flows from that, including the very existence the United States.

The War Against the Humanities


Sarah Churchwell, professor of American literature at UEA, who has written in defence of the humanities in Times Higher Education. Photograph: David Hartley/Rex

“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”

– John Adams

It appears that the new  Research Evaluation Framework (REF) in Britain has set off a lot of skirmishing. It’s interesting to read, and has implications for us here in the States as well.

As near as I can make out, the government funds most research in the UK (or at least England, it’s not all that specific) and the government is imposing structures that lead to generating hard numbers for quality, quantity,and ‘impact’ on the world. In other words, they are looking for short-term monetary impact.

Well, my standard answer for that is that “He who pays the piper, calls the tune”. They wanted all that government research money and thought (I suspect) that the government would fund their whims no matter how ludicrous. And don’t kid yourself, The United States Universities do at least their share of worthless research as well. We’ve all seen the lists.

In addition what many humanities people like to do is talk, not act, and teaching, which I at least consider to be the prime mission of a school (whether it’s a kindergarten or Oxford itself) is an action, and needs to be performed efficiently That does not mean authoritatively however. that’s not education, that’s indoctrination, and it stifles creativity like nothing else.

Just ask China, the benchmark for measuring education why they are sending their students to England to learn to be creative.

As an aside, that is the exact reason I oppose ‘Common Core’ as well. I don’t care what the test is, if you base performance and pay on a test, the test will be taught to. If you base (what we call) grant money on short-term applied research, you’ll get short-term applied research.

I was talking with a British pure mathematician yesterday, and he says in his field, he has the same problems as his humanities colleagues. I can’t say I was surprised either. You see of all the so-called STEM subjects pure math, like the humanities, has a long-term effect but little short-term benefit.

And yet, the old Bell Labs, the antediluvian research arm of the old Bell Telephone system was almost a pure math shop. They didn’t accomplish much either, only the world-wide telephone system, inventing the transistor,and inventing Boolean algebra, which is the underpinning of every digital device, not just the computer.

But none of it was short-term, it was pure research intelligently applied, often I suspect by humanities majors, who could see new applications and worked with enough engineers to be able to translate the jargon of engineering.

None of that says that accountant aren’t important. they are. They keep score, but are not players in innovation, nor are they players in transmitting our culture to our descendants. Even more than engineers, they are rule bound, and like lawyers, they will nearly always say no, if they can’t understand something, and their understanding is limited to arithmetic.

One of the people I know slightly in British Academia is Sarah Churchwell, I always hope she’ll pardon me for reading her name often as Sarah Churchill. (she’s a lot younger than the mother of the first Duke of Marlborough, after all!). I also think she’s one of the best things to come out of Chicago since pizza. She was one of the people interviewed for The Guardian piece linked, and this some of what she had to say:

Aren’t humanities academics stuck in the 1950s, desperate for an age of long lunches and even longer holidays? “The stereotypical academic world of the 1950s, of dilettantes lounging around with pipe and slippers sipping sherry, disappeared decades ago,” Churchwell said. “The idea of the easy life of the academic is a straw man, a caricature of academics when they say ‘You can’t just swan around like it’s 1950 any more.’ There’s been no swanning for some time, believe me. What initially happened under Thatcher was the forced professionalisation of academia and actually I don’t disagree with the imperative of professionalisation. But this notion that there are still academics at universities who can say ‘I’m going to spend 50 years at this institution, I’m never going to write a book, I’ll never publish, I’ll just sit around reading and chatting with students’, is absurd. Yes there are still a few people who chronically underperform and whom it is difficult to remove. There’s a bit of dead wood. Now I don’t know much about government-funded organisations outside of HE, but I’d venture to speculate that this may be true in other bureaucratic regimes. And the vast majority of people in UK HE are working extremely hard, all the time.”

Obviously I can’t speak in generalities and be accurate, but I know several who bear the title of Professor, and I’ll tell you a (not) secret: they are almost all in the humanities and they are amongst the hardest-working people I have ever met (some of the nicest too, although that may not be relevant, unless you’re their student, of course.) Without exception, they are also outstanding writers as well. To continue:

“What has changed radically in the last 10 years is that they’re trying to turn everything into a for-profit business,” said Churchwell. “And that’s bullshit. Universities are not for profit. We are charitable institutions. What they’re now doing is saying to academics: ‘You have to be the fundraisers, the managers, the producers, you have to generate the incomes that will keep your institutions afloat.’ Is that really what society wants – for everything to become a marketplace, for everything to become a commodity? Maybe I’m just out of step with the world, but what some of us are fighting for is the principle that not everything that is valuable can or should be monetised. That universities are one of the custodians of centuries of knowledge, curiosity, inspiration. That education is not a commodity, it’s a qualitative transformation. You can’t sell it. You can’t simply transfer it.”

Churchwell went on to talk about what would be lost if we didn’t stand in the way of this systematic destruction of the traditional liberal education. “Virtually every cabinet minister has a humanities degree,” she said. “And I think there’s something quite sinister about it: they get their leadership positions after studying the humanities and then they tell us that what we need is a nation of technocrats. If you look at the vast majority of world leaders, you’ll find that they’ve got humanities degrees. Angela Merkel is the only one who’s a scientist. The ruling elite have humanities degrees because they can do critical thinking, they can test premises, they can think outside the box, they can problem-solve, they can communicate, they don’t have linear, one-solution models with which to approach the world. You won’t solve the problems of religious fundamentalism with a science experiment.”

The war against humanities at Britain’s universities | Education | The Guardian.

There’s a lot more, and it;’s all excellent. Remember this, in any case, I’m an electrician and a lineman, essentially a technician or even a technocrat and a manager. That’s how I’ve made a living for nearly a half century. Without the background in the humanities from my parents and my schooling, it would have been a drab and sterile life. is that really what you want for your children?

What I really think is that our societies need to get over this kick that everything must have an immediate payoff. The most important things never do. In addition, our schools (UK and US which the two I know most about) need to be funded from diverse sources, with diverse goals. How we get there (actually back there) I have some ideas but, not all the answers. But Sarah is right in all she said here, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for people with vision get involved in this.

“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.”

– John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

Immigration Follies; UK Style

From the  misery loves company file:

Here’s the linked story:

A high-flying academic who travels the world as a Government adviser is set to be deported from Britain under ‘barmy’ new visa laws – because she is out of the country more than 180 days a year.

Dr Miwa Hirono, 38, is originally from Japan but has been living in the UK since becoming a lecturer at the University of Nottingham seven years ago.

The world-renowned academic’s work – which helps the UK Government to set foreign policy – requires her to spend long spells working in China and Africa.

Set to be deported: Miwa Hirono with her husband, Peter Trebilco, 61, and one-year-old son Tada, must leave Britain under 'barmy' new visa laws

In 2009 and 2010 she spent around 200 days abroad researching China’s foreign peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

But Home Office immigration laws now state that people working in the UK on a migrant visa cannot be out of the country for more than 180 days each year.

And despite the fact Dr Hirono does research for a Government-funded organisation and her baby son was born in Britain, the Home Office has decided to deport her.

Read more:
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Isn’t it wonderful to know that the cousins are about as screwed up in immigration policy as we are?

There are a few things here, in no particular order

  1. Anchor baby? What’s an anchor baby? Her personal life and well-being is no concern of HM Government. Let’s see, a Japanese mother, an Australian father and an English baby, where do deport that family to? Or do you split them up like the slave traders used to do?
  2. Did you catch that she is a world-class scholar that the university brought in to help their students? On a fellowship, no less.
  3. She was so good that they offered her a permanent job. But screw the students, they don’t need world-class scholars at the University of Nottingham, anyhow. Anybody think understanding the Chinese isn’t going to be important in the next fifty years? Other than the British government, I mean.
  4. She also does work for the government that required her to spend large amounts of time out of the country.
  5. She’s good enough that one of her papers in on the website of HM Embassy in Beijing.
  6. This (so-called) violation took place in 2010.
  7. The law was passed in 2012.

Six and seven are the very definition of an ex post facto law, you do something completely legal, later they pass a law making it illegal and then prosecute you for doing what was legal when you did it. The Brits have a history of this nonsense which is why Article 1 of the US Constitution says plainly in section 9

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

and in section 10

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

I’d guess as a layman, that one could make due process arguments about this with precedents stretching all the way back to Magna Charta as well. It’s why our constitution is so important.

I suppose we should note that the British let in the dregs of all Europe with hardly a whimper, thanks to the European Union, and the fact that Britain is (and always has been) one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. Just like we do, with less cause, on our southern border.

Wow, just wow!


Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of th...

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of the United States (1923-1929) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as always from Amity Shlaes, excellent. It has often seemed to me that our politicians think the electorate is very stupid, not to mention having no memory at all.

While this seems more obvious on Democratic side of the aisle, it’s pretty bipartisan, as watch Congress continually indulge in get-rich quick schemes for Congresscritters and their sycophants, especially in the lobbying industry. Truly I have come to believe we have the best Congress money can buy. Somehow, I don’t think that is quite what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and the rest had in mind. Who comes to my mind is a chap named Nero, a famous violinist who thought he was more than that.

From Amity

But 18-year-olds are wiser than their elders realize. Jobs alone won’t suffice to keep them. Young people seek something else: prospects. The distinction feels trivial, but there’s a difference between jobs and prospects. That difference is one of time. “Prospects” means long term, and long term is how many youths think.

This became clear in a contest recently conducted by the Vermont-based Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, where I work. The foundation asked high school students to answer a simple question regarding the Green Mountain State: Should I stay, or should I go?

That’s indeed the question we have all faced isn’t it. The perennial American question, ever since the Pilgrims landed. Is the grass greener someplace else, or is this rockpile as good a farm as there is. usually itching feet have prevailed, and we have indeed, “Go west, young man, go west.” and what we have usually found is the chance to build something to be proud of, whether it was a farm, a business, a church, or indeed a nation, which has become second to none.

Still, the kids were just breaking bad news gently. And that bad news was that they were indeed departing. One semifinalist established the imperative of migration: “In times such as these, the world needs people to step up and keep it from collapsing in upon itself. … While I do not think every Vermonter should leave the state, I think those of able mind and body should.”

The winner put her conclusion more bluntly: “I need to get out of Vermont to see different places around the world and to meet different people. I need to experience those things in life that Vermont simply cannot offer.” Another pupil wrote in rap-style slang: “Not necessarily the state for success. … So competition is weak/ People need to travel so they can raise to their own peak/Vermont’s getting older.”

Now mind you, I’m very traditional but you know, if I was growing up in Vermont, and it’s as lovely as everyone says, I’d leave as well. Why? I like to eat, and I believe in earning my own way. The view out the window is important but not as important as that.

The economist Milton Friedman, who once had a house in Vermont, labeled a phenomenon he observed as the “Permanent Income Hypothesis.” People, Friedman posited, were not rabbits. They would spend not according to what cash they had on hand but according to their estimate of what money they’d have in their lifetime. The PIH holds for decisions beyond saving. You choose a home not just because it pleases you this year but because it might prove a good investment over a lifetime.

The essays of the perspicacious Vermont teens suggest that states around the nation may want to alter their pitches. Jobs matter, but less than education. Regulation matters. Tax rates matter, even top rates—again, because of prospects. The ambitious consider what rate they’ll pay tomorrow, not the rate that applies to them as they start out.

Well, of course they do, we all do. And that is why what Washington does increasingly is so pernicious. When you kill people’s dreams, which is what our welfare system has done systematically in our cities for fifty years now, we train whole generations to believe they are worthless, that the best they can hope for is to be paid for existing, so sit down and shut up.

But it’s even more than that, isn’t it. I’m a highly skilled tradesman, living in one of the better states for business, and yet, as I’ve written before, because the state itself has a habit of ignoring its laws, to take care of its guild members, I’m unlikely to work again. When a guy like me becomes convinced that my best chance to retire is to win Powerball, you are doing something wrong.

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer – Forbes.

This is more an aside than anything else but, am I the only one who thinks the national Democrats increasingly look old and tired, yesterday’s news. I mean jeez, guys, I’m in my early sixties myself, and when you look old and shopworn to me, what must you look like to the 30 year olds that you built your party on. It’s the people, to an extent, we’ve been talking about the Clinton’s for what seems like forever, is it really only twenty years? Then again, do you have anything else that you bought in 1990?

Nor does it help that they are still pushing the same programs that have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, usually catastrophically and they haven’t changed a jot or tittle since Wilson was president. I is a further handicap to at least some of us that not a single one of the member of the nomenklatura has ever held a real job even (mostly, anyhow) ever served in the military.

Time to consign them to the dustheap of history and move on.

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