Quick Roundup 211

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More on the "Benevolent People Premise"

Dan Edge elaborates more on a post I linked to last week. In the meantime, Myrhaf has some further thoughts of his own, which he shares after linking to some discussions Dan's first post touched off. The following passage from Myrhaf I found interesting:

You get beyond superficial relationships when you talk to people more and find out their ideas. This is when disappointment enters. People quickly reveal themselves as mystics, cynics, buffoonish nihilists, gray ciphers, flattering sycophants (social metaphysicians) or some other type. I find two simple questions, asked with an unthreatening smile, most revealing: 1) What does that prove? And 2) Do you have any evidence? The answers to these questions are usually enough to tell you who you’re dealing with. By asking questions without lecturing or arguing, you find out people before they get angry and the defenses go up. First get the facts, then pass judgment. [bold added]
This reminds me of piece of a conversation I recall hearing about many years ago, when Gary Hart was a presidential hopeful. Someone asked a supporter why she liked Gary Hart. Her answer? "That's an unfair question." Can you imagine what a prolonged conversation with someone like this would be like? Would you want to find out? I didn't think so.

It's people like that you can find out without wasting too much time on them by following Myrhaf's advice -- which will leave you more time, energy, and intact goodwill for the rest!

What's Wrong with Peru?

Andrew Dalton makes the following observation about Cameron Diaz's recent fashion faux pas of accessorizing with a Maoist purse while visiting a region of Peru that had been terrorized by the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas not so long ago:
[I]s there a controversy because an American celebrity is using as a fashion accessory the symbol and slogan of an infamous dictator? Better still, is there controversy because she is tacitly promoting Communism, the most murderous ideology ever created? No; the objections are parochial and wrapped in the language of "sensitivity" and multiculturalism[.]
Andrew asks a very good question shortly after this.

The episode further reminds me of a book from a few years back titled What's Wrong with Kansas?, whose premise was that America, not having voted itself into socialist slavery long ago, had somehow been duped into voting against its own "self-interest". We see, once again, the distaste for the left's ideas (when put into practice) on the part of the very people the left professes to care about treated not as evidence that the ideas ought to be tested against reality, but as evidence that the people, on some level, don't know what's best for themselves.

This patronizing attitude is being displayed again here when the leftists pooh-pooh what was done to the Incas by dismissing their distaste for the Maoists as part of some quaint, primitive culture. This kind of thinking allows the left to (1) continue to fool itself into feeling morally superior about its political beliefs, (2) hold itself out as savior and protector of "the little people", and (3) ignore the fact that it is these very "little people" who are regularly crushed under the juggernauts of the left's various sanctimonious political crusades.

Diaz, in being asked to hide her purse from the Incas, is really being asked to help the left hide from itself the necessity of reexamining many of its longest standing -- and most deadly -- premises.

Global Cooling?

Reader Michael Gold pointed me to an article about a scientist warning that we may soon be in for a period of global cooling:
Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.
Of course, I disagree that governments should be very involved in any planning for climate change. I'd be happy if they'd just get out of the way and let individuals and free markets make whatever adjustments prove necessary.

I hope that the few out there now who predict that global warming will prove to be a passing fad are right. Otherwise, the timing of this will be just right to "prove" that any global warming legislation still on the books is "working".

Save Internet Radio (by Saving) Capitalism

Nick Provenzo gives an excellent executive summary of the Internet music royalty dispute, its origins, and its proper resolution here.

-- CAV


Sid said...

re internet radio.

There is this tendency I find disturbing, of many Objectivists and others to put all businessmen on a pedestal, as some sort of virtuous heroes. All government regulation is treated as pure evil and all business as angelic good.

The reality is far more complex. All businessmen are NOT archangels: from what I've seen, in today's unfree market you are far more likely to find an Orren Boyle than a Hank Rearden, especially at the top. Case in point: the RIAA bastards.

At the same time, government regulation can be the lesser evil (as it clearly is in this case).

While one must keep the ultimate goal clear, one must not be so blinded as to consider a temporary bend in the path to be a total reversal.

Gus Van Horn said...

The tendency you describe is understandable and -- this example will be a funny coincidence coming from me to you, but it is only a coincidence -- reminds me of how some fellow Objectivists seemed to elevate Microsoft from the McDonald's of software to some sort of five-star gourmet restaurant. Around those types, if you weren't wild about Windows, you aroused suspicion.

I see it as a well-intentioned (but not well-thought out) form of solidarity. The RIAA are behaving like scumbags in this matter, contrary to any previous good positions they may have taken in the past on intellectual property rights.

Likewise, Bill Gates, despite the unjustness of the persecution of Microsoft for antitrust, does not understand capitalism (despite his business success). And some former customers of his (like me), despite supporting his property rights, can't stand many of his company's products.

In each case, separate issues come into play, but many well-meaning (and busy) people confound them anyway.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "The episode further reminds me of a book from a few years back titled What's Wrong with Kansas?, whose premise was that America, not having voted itself into socialist slavery long ago, had somehow been duped into voting against its own 'self-interest'."

Just a note to make you chuckle--remember that most excellent if most leftist album, Before the Revolution by The Adjusters? The author of said screed, Thomas Frank, also penned the "hagiography" in the front of the CD.

Gus Van Horn said...


Well. Needless to say, I am not surprised, although I missed it!

Loved the music, hated the politics. For the uninitiated, the Adjusters was a ska band that openly espoused socialism.