Quick Roundup 544

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marriott on Immigration

Alexander Marriott has written a lengthy, but superb blog post on immigration. He comments on many aspects of the issue, but I particularly like his take on the situation at the Mexican Border.

Without a quota and visa system, the current mess on the Mexican border should almost entirely evaporate as far as concerns people interested in making an honest living go. It's far safer, cheaper, and easier to enter a known border crossing to undergo an identification confirmation and medical examination than to hike through the desert with hardcore criminals. As for the criminals, they will suddenly find themselves as isolated figures in the desert easy to handle for the resources already appropriated for the purpose. No more endless sea of humanity to hide in. The key is to not drive honest decent people into the arms of rapacious unsavory criminals in order to achieve non-objectionable ends. No citizen of the United States has any right to interpose themselves between prospective employers and employees except in a case where someone's legitimate individual rights are violated.
Marriott ends his post with a proposed constitutional amendment.

Less-than-Elephant Gives Birth to Less-than-Mouse

At the Charlotte Capitalist is a short review of Glenn Beck's most recent show focusing on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Do I think the publicity for Atlas Shrugged from Beck's show is of value? Perhaps, but I question the message, the messenger, and the target audience. If I had never heard of Ayn Rand prior to the last two years and had to rely solely upon the predominant current Atlas publicity, my impression would be that Rand was some kind of self-appointed prophet who wanted us to head to the mountains to escape from the government. I would not be interested.
I'd have to agree, although I hold out hope that Yaron Brook's appearances on the show might steer a few people in the right -- meaning correct -- direction.

Why the fuss?

I don't have a problem with people having different tastes from mine regarding optional values, but I always wonder when those who do feel the need to insult what I like. Pursuant to the below game, two sports writers deliver textbook examples of this phenomenon in the form of snide columns titled, "Unpatriotic or not, who cares about World Cup?" and "Americans now return to regularly scheduled fandom."

I have some ideas on why this is so, but would be interested in what others who have noticed the same thing have to say.

USA 1, Ghana 2 (Overtime)

Well, I got my answer early on the question of whether fighting spirit or iffy defense would ultimately decide the fate of Team USA in this World Cup. Mrs. Van Horn and I were going to watch this at a pub, but it was full, so we went back home. The US team was already behind, on a goal scored within the first five minutes of the match, when we arrived.

This was not a big surprise -- until I learned of two positively Martian lineup decisions by Coach Bradley: He started both the not-ready-for-primetime Robbie Findley -- and Ricardo Clark, whose miscue caused the Ghanaian goal and who had already handed England its early goal in Game 1! Bradley ended up burning two of his three substitutions to rectify these errors, ultimately meaning that there would be no fresh legs for overtime. It also did not help that Goalkeeper Tim Howard had an off day. He was out of position for the first goal and probably could have stopped the second on any other day.

But then again, how far can a pair or two of fresh legs go when the whole team has had to play like maniacs for the three games previous due to its habit of spotting opponents a goal or two? This may be a surmountable problem during the qualification stage (and it was going on then) when players have time to recover physically and mentally. But during the World Cup? For a team thin on talent, but obviously still capable of playing at a respectable level, no.

Take the early concessions out of the picture and, to be conservative, pretend we didn't score on England. We'd have finished the first round with two wins and a draw, atop the group, and defeated Ghana 1-0. We'd still be in the easiest quarter-bracket of this tournament, with beatable Uruguay as our biggest obstacle to the semifinals.

Nevertheless, this team was better and got farther than the one we fielded in 2006, but it could have and should have done more. The signs of progress for the sport in America are good news, but this tournament will also go down as a huge missed opportunity.

-- CAV


Jennifer Snow said...

I've run across this hatred-for-other-people's-optional-values a lot, and from what I've seen it follows this pattern:

1. Some aspect of someone's fandom annoys the person. Perhaps the crowds of Harry Potter fans at the bookstore/movie theater are horribly inconvenient.

2. They blow this annoyance way out of proportion and it becomes active dislike for anything to do with that fandom.

However, this leaves aside the question of WHY people find the fandom annoying, and I think this varies a lot so I try to be careful not to assume that people who go out of their way to dish other people's optional values are just flat-out assholes (pardon my french).

I've found there are semi-benevolent reasons: They think that X is crap (Halo, for instance) and really resent the attention it gets when their favorite shooter that came out 6 years BEFORE Halo was actually MUCH MUCH BETTER and more revolutionary and didn't get anything LIKE this much attention because it wasn't played by 5 million drunken fratboy douches. I call this semi-benevolent because it's driven by the person's sense of justice, but only semi because they're dropping context at the same time.

The less benevolent examples that I've seen seem to be driven by either sour grapes or outright hatred of the good for being the good--they see people getting excited over a value and have to destroy it in any way they can. I find that the people who viciously characterize, say, gamers as 40 year old virgins living in their parents' basements are people who never seem to have any particular values of their own. People who get silly excited over some value of their own may find it odd that people put on anime costumes and parade around a convention center, but they don't feel any need to tear it down.

Gus Van Horn said...

Those are good obseervations. I'll add another, which a friend long ago suggested to me regarding the way some people react negatively to others' taste in music (setting aside clear-cut cases of nihilistic music, such as extremely vulgar lyrics).

Some people do not really have objective values, and when confronted with someone making what to them looks like a radically different choice, see that choice as a threat, much like certain religious fanatics respond to people who do not share their faith with visceral hatred. They have no concept of objectivity, and so choose their values -- regardless of any degree of optionality -- arbitrarily. That means that they glimpse, for a moment, the fact that they really don't have a solid basis for their choices. Their pseudo-certainty is yanked out from under them like a rug.

mtnrunner2 said...

It's not fair to blame someone if their innate racial memory causes them to use the wrong shape of ball, or put the goal posts on the grass instead of up in the air, where they should be. Have some pity. They can't help it.

Yes, I'm being totally facetious.

I'm taken aback when someone regards another's choice of an equally reasonable optional value as bad (key word: equally). It's one thing to say that tossing human heads for distance is backwards, but quite another to say that, say, curling is.

If someone can't even see that many games are somewhat equivalent, and respect that quietly, then why the heck should I consider their opinion with regard to games they do like? Are they going to apply the same lack of principled thinking to, say, the quality of umpires, or quarterbacks?

Gus Van Horn said...

"If someone can't even see that many games are somewhat equivalent, and respect that quietly, then why the heck should I consider their opinion with regard to games they do like?"

Agreed. People like this can tell you about only one thing: themselves.

Mike said...

To use a popular example, the "Twilight" series of young-adult novels is of... questionable literary value -- and I mean that in a general sense, not in the sense of "I am an arteest and nobody understands my genius".

However, Twilight has been commercially successful due to overwhelming acceptance within a given niche -- a niche not generally attuned to written fiction and often wholly inexperienced with what makes written fiction good.

Many, including me, worry that the Twilight phenomenon and fandom is going to drive the industry to produce a long string of derivative crap of the same sort... for YEARS.

True, under capitalism, this will work itself out eventually, as savvier readers vote with their wallets. But in the meantime, those readers fear they will find the market ignoring them because they are not 13-year-old girls who will buy anything with sparkly vampires in it. The very existence of such crap as Twilight threatens to take away from those readers the fan experience in which THEY participate.

Reasonable minds may disagree.

Gus Van Horn said...


I have to disagree with you on this one, unless you're speaking only of readers within that niche, in which case you sound like you could be making a point more closely related to the one Ayn Rand made in her essay on "Our Cultural Value Deprivation." But that's a broad, culture-wide problem not really related to that of equally good (and objective) choices that are available, but to a lack thereof due to the prevalence of bad philosophy.

Either that or I'm missing your point...


Gus Van Horn said...


... or it's a case of staircase wit on my part.

Actually, yes. Something like that could provoke someone to ridicule some genre of pulp fiction in reaction.


madmax said...

But in the meantime, those readers fear they will find the market ignoring them because they are not 13-year-old girls who will buy anything with sparkly vampires in it.

The Twilight movies are aimed exclusively at women and mostly women younger than 30. They are Harlequin Romances for teens and tweeners. Hollywood has been targeting this demographic for years as they are the demographic with the highest disposable income. There is an entire school of movie and pop-culture analysis that traces how the welfare/inflationary state has disrupted cultural dynamics and thus caused a whole series of unintended consequences. One line of thinking is that today's welfare-state pumps money in education and health-care which results in the hiring of more women then would normally be the case. They are calling this phenomenon the "Mancession." As a result, men are more financially strapped then women and women's buying patterns are determining certain industry trends. It is argued that this is what is happening (and has been happening) with Hollywood.

Now, this doesn't change the fact that the biggest factor moving a culture is philosophy and today's dominant philosophic trends are insane. But women's purchasing power relative to men and the culture-wide influence of feminism are largely responsible for what Hollywood is giving us (which is almost always pure garbage). Twilight is case in point as it is nothing more than wish fulfillment for young girls: a powerful vampire and a powerful werewolf fight over a teenage girl. Oh yeah that will interest any self-respecting man over the age of 25.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Oh yeah that will interest any self-respecting man over the age of 25."

Or, as someone, I THINK a male relative of mine, once summarized after an attempt to read a page or two: "He's so pretty. He's so pretty. He's so pretty. He's so pretty. He's so pretty. He's so pretty. He's so pretty. ..."

Inspector said...

Heya Gus,

I think a lot of the issues surrounding your question have already been explored, but I can think of one thing to add:

*Some* of this reprehensible behavior may be able to be explained, I believe, by the existence of the "soccer nag." That is, the European who looks down upon and berates Americans for not being interested in the game that the rest of the world is. Because we Americans are so "backwards" and such, and should adopt socialism, too while we're at it.

I think that type may have poisoned the well on the issue of soccer, as it were.

Gus Van Horn said...

Yes, soccer nags and their slavish American imitators both deserve blame for this, but only up to a point.

To the extent that someone, having thought about the issue more deeply, can't or won't separate that irritation from the fact that soccer is just another sport, it's on that person.

Jennifer Snow said...

Heh, it's hilarious to see you guys bring up Twilight, as this is one fandom that has annoyed the crap out of me on more than one occasion, largely due to one hysterical female who told me I should read the books because "they're so goooooood".

Ugh. I'm sorry, I can't even tolerate Laurell K. Hamilton and she's actually a semi-sophisticated author in the vampire porn genre.

Gus Van Horn said...

From what I've heard about these novels, there may well be grounds to question whether it's actually a value, even for its target audience.

But I really don't know one way or the other.