Open thread

I’m too busy at work to write anything today, so post your own stuff in the comments about whatever interests you, and I will at least have time to comment on it.

Here are some links to spark discussion but don’t feel obliged to use them, and don’t assume I agree with them.

American Greatness
Pop Music cultural filth
Dangers of recording on-duty cops
Energy optimism


About Polymath

Discoverable with effort
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39 Responses to Open thread

  1. Gorbachev says:


    North America is well-situated. I’m told that Canada has major plans, too; and huge reserves.

    I’m not particularly worried about energy supply.

    We need to wean ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil, though.


    That’s real security. We need to do it soon.

  2. Anonymous Crab says:

    Wow, Dennis Prager is a whiner. “Fuck You” is a fantastic song, and the video is a riot. This line of his in particular, though, is especially pathetic:

    It has little, if any, redeeming moral, social, or artistic (to the extent that this word retains its original meaning) value.

    Seriously? Has he actually listened to the song? It’s incredibly catchy.

    This is the original version; the “cleaned up” version, “Forget You,” which maybe Prager needs to try, is here. (That’s actually the Glee cover, with Gwyneth Paltrow singing it rather well.)

  3. Polymath says:

    You are correct that the song has artistic value, and the video was funny, and the Paltrow “clean” version is suitable for kids. But some of us still prefer to keep our children from exposure to such gross profanity, because they are not allowed to talk like that and should not see it glorified — it was the involvement of children Prager was objecting to. (There is nothing wrong with language like that if you are sure no one listening will be offended, but in the case of children one does not want them to get into the habit of using profanity.) And enough adults are offended by such language that nominating the song for record of the year without using a polite version of the title is a cultural attack on them — in fact, a cultural f*** you. To which I respond “forget you”. I don’t plan on contributing to this industry.

    The Grammys have been corrupt for a long time. Sometimes the right record wins, but I knew they’d been taken over by politics in 1996 when Alanis Morissette’s bunch of rants “Jagged Little Pill” won over Joan Osborne, who had 100 times as much talent and put out an extraordinarily beautiful album (“Relish”), of which this was the best song:


  4. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Gorb, why would Canada sell to America though if the US goes broke? Sure, Canada has energy, but the US doesn’t. Canada would be better off selling that to China in the future, than the US, since China has exports to pay for their imports, while the US can just print IOUs.

  5. Gorbachev says:

    Gorb, why would Canada sell to America though if the US goes broke? Sure, Canada has energy, but the US doesn’t. Canada would be better off selling that to China in the future, than the US, since China has exports to pay for their imports, while the US can just print IOUs.

    They’ve got a conservative government (now) and they like us. But,it’s true, they’re pretty mercenary and might just get top dollar (cnd) for their energy.

    I suspect we have other types of pull with the Canadians. They like us and we don’t treat them like shit. I have to say, for a satellite country, Canada does pretty well. Nobody bothers them (ie, us), and they just sit up there and get rich.

    The Chinese – nobody the Chinese gets involved with comes away clean. Ever. Just ask anyone in Africa.

    But you’re right. We need to keep our house clean. Well, more like clean house.

    But I have some faith in the process. There’s some bite in the old dog.

    The US isn’t finished yet. Watch.

  6. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Gorb, why shouldn’t they be mercenary? They should do what’s in the best interest of their citizens, not what’s in the best interest of Americans. I mean, them ‘selling’ energy to the US is the same as giving it away. Amassing worthless USD is pointless. Sure, when the US will actually produce things of value to pay for the energy imports, I’d get why Canada would do it. If anything, the Canadians should ask either CND or gold for energy(after all, Fort Knox has gold in it). What you’re saying is the equivalent of me liking my boyfriend and because of this, I will buy his house for ten times the price. Why should the Canadians trade a higher living standard for a lower one, in order to prop up the failed US economy?

    And the US as the world superpower is finished. It’s where the UK was in the 1920s. How was that? The sun never sets on the British empire? lol. I mean, the US can change course and not become a complete banana republic, but as for the world superpower, this status is already doomed.

  7. Anonymous Crab says:

    Relish was great, you’re very right about that. I’ve been finding the Grammys, over just the past couple years, to suddenly be relevant, for the first time in recent memory. I see this nomination as part of that — the sign of corruption would have been if it WEREN’T nominated, and nominating the “clean” radio edit would have been a pretty much unheard of insult to the integrity of the artist, as well as to the music-listening public, which to the extent it buys anything, buys real songs, not edited ones. When it’s Oscar time, the Academy doesn’t give awards to the bastardized TV or airplane versions of movies — it gives them to the actual released films, where the characters actually say the words the writer put in the script, as opposed to the hilarious TV substitutes like “monkeyfeather.”

    Also, for what it’s worth, concerning the kids: the “little kid” section of the video is only the first 1:20 or so. In it, the kid version of Cee-Lo utters the phrase just twice, at :20 and :28 in. The first time, his mom sort of smacks him on the shoulder; the second, when she apparently (in the narrative of the video) hears it more clearly, she looks shocked and smacks him in his mouth. None of the other little people say it. Prager really comes off as a Puritan who doesn’t understand the concept of acting.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Cee-Lo Green, but he also fronts a band called Gnarls Barkley, which had a few hits a couple of years ago. Here they are performing their song “Crazy” at an MTV awards show, dressed, awesomely and inexplicably, in full Star Wars regalia. Enjoy.

  8. Polymath says:

    Crab, you misread me — I said a polite version of the TITLE not a polite version of the song. Good songs have had profane lyrics in the past, and I agree about artistic integrity, but there’s no need to expose everybody to the 4-letter words on the broadcast. This is manners I’m talking about, they are still important but it is getting harder and harder to raise polite children as profanity, nastiness, and sleaziness overwhelm pop culture. And I have no problem with Cee-Lo, he’s funny and talented and has his own audience, it’s the PUSHING of vulgarity by the industry in order to change the general cultural standards that I object to. This contributes to the sense of “being under attack” that many people with traditional values have (and note the word “conservative” is NOT the same as “traditional”, I am making a cultural point and trying to not politicize it more than necessary).

  9. Polymath says:

    RV, those anti-vaccine folks may be right, but they are wackos. When you follow the links to find the actual data and statistical analysis, it is very unsatisfactory — the researchers obviously know statistics but they don’t know how to write a clear and scientifically sound and objective paper. They are only hurting themselves by writing like this — any journal would reject a paper like they have written simply because of its style. If there is a more professionally-presented version of the research suitable for publication, I’d like to see it.

    A few years back a company I worked for did some statistical consulting for an anti-vaccine group. We analyzed a massive amount of data in a sophisticated and creative way in order to overcome major problems with data quality and sampling bias, and eventually found mild support for the hypothesis of a link between vaccines and various disorders. But it wasn’t suitable for oversimplified activism and the association I found was weak (in the sense of confidence in the result, not size of the effect — it was a substantial effect but the data was fuzzy enough that it did not quite reach the 95% confidence threshhold). They did not choose to pursue this or to do a more extensive (and expensive) followup study, I suspect because they did not want to have to explain things in as nuanced and careful a way as we would have insisted on.

  10. rebelliousvanilla says:

    I actually agree that the vast majority of anti-vaccine people are insane and that they undermine their own cause. But again, you have the GOP who doesn’t mind importing third worlders, which is basically Republicans shooting themselves in the foot. Still, I think they raise some legitimate points. Sadly, the science behind the safety of the vaccines and their efficacy is just as fuzzy.

    Actually, they don’t even have anything to prove, in my opinion. The people who make the vaccines should prove to me that injecting myself with aluminum and mercury would benefit me.

    If those things on the package insert are right, no sane pregnant woman should get it. Oh, and that woman who said that the government is telling the truth made me laugh – after all, it’s not like they forge the GDP, CPI, savings rate and so on figures.

  11. Gorbachev says:

    My brother and his wife worried that one of their children was autistic; they went on a witch-hunt for the culprit, and had vaccines (a particular one) fingered.

    It turned out that the child wasn’t autistic; she was deaf due to a viral complication. A tiny bit of surgery, and she began to develop normally. And there was no problem with any vaccine.

    The point is: During the investigation, they uncovered a whole anti-vaccine culture that seemed almost insane. Paranoid would be generous.

    It’s almost its own sub-culture.

    I agree, there should be something done about potential risk, but there are no good studies about this.

  12. Workshy Joe says:

    Open thread? Great idea.

    Firstly, I enjoyed Polymath’s comment on roissy’s blog about different types of male “indifference” towards women. Spot on.

    Secondly, the anti-pharma and anti-vaccine crowd are not as crazy and outlandish as they might seem at first glance.

    My general advice is to at least read the side effects listed on the package inserts on any drugs you are taking (which is generally horrifying) and know what is actually in the vaccine that you are getting.

  13. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Gorbachev, there are no good studies proving that the vaccine is safe and reliable. I think that should be proved before you market it, especially if the government is to be involved. But again, this would work if money grabbing politicians wouldn’t be in bed with any corporation that throws a bit of pay towards them.

    I do agree about the whole anti-vaccine subculture. The real problem is how unreal the mainstream people are too about it, considering that their claims are just as proven scientifically.

    I agree with Joe’s advice on the package inserts. I do that now.

  14. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Just for laughs.

  15. FortitudineVincimus says:

    If the US leaves the Middle East, China will take over.

    It’s like the Pacific in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After WWI, European powers stagnated, and Japan positioned herself to kick them all out and take over. The US, however, determined this shift in the balance of power would be unacceptable, as they viewed it as detrimental to their own interests. So Japan attacked Pearl Harbor (and WHY where there no posts about that last Tuesday??).

    No single Middle Eastern state seems to have a clear advantage, and the US prevents any regional war. The Chinese would take over this role where the US to leave. Say hello to Chinese navies in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and perhaps the Mediterranean.

  16. rebelliousvanilla says:

    FV, I hardly see why they’d mind the Chinese. They’d probably benefit more with the Chinese around than with the US. lol

  17. Alvis Velthomer says:

    More anarcho-leftist insanity:

    Of course I have no symphony for the British Royal Family for doing nothing to prevent the colonization of their nation and for allowing unrestrained leftism to go unchecked while placing a muzzle on true rightists. This is basically the chickens coming home to roost.

    Also, speaking of British leftist bigotry:

    Could you imagine the uproar if it was done to a Muslim holy site, or even for a minority hero?

    Like I said earlier, there are no boundaries for the left, which is why they keep winning. The more extreme side is the one that wins, and the mainstream right is nothing more than “we want leftism at a slower pace”.

  18. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Alvis, that’s a sign of crap policing. In the good old days, those students would have been executed.

    And I’m willing to bet that the tree thing was pulled off by either a leftist or a Muslim.
    I like this dude. I’d vote against any tax deals, except a flat tax and I’d veto any tax laws except a flat tax.

  19. Polymath says:

    See my new post on taxation.

    Given a flat rate, there are still some questions: is it better to tax income (what should be exempted from income tax?), property (what kind of property should be taxed?), or consumption (which way, sales tax or value-added tax?).

  20. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Polymath, nothing should be exempt from a flat tax. The sole purpose of it is to remove all the deductions and loopholes, combined with making it more efficient and less of a hassle. You can give deductions only for important stuff, like having dependent people in your care. Otherwise, no more exemptions for mortgages, health insurance, solar panels and other utter crap.

    And property taxes are a local issue, I hardly see what the federal government has to do with it. I would be in favor of a consumption federal tax, only with a repeal of the income tax amendments. Otherwise, the feds will impose both. lol

  21. Polymath says:

    I agree, but I wasn’t just talking about federal taxes. Administratively, local taxes ought to be on property (which is the most localized), state taxes on consumption (which still occurs in an identifiable place), and federal taxes on income (which is the least localized, though a federal sales tax might well be preferable to a federal income tax).

  22. Gorbachev says:

    You could throw a bone to the liberals this way:

    Have three income categories.
    0% tax on income up to 20k
    10% tax on income up to 50k
    15% tax on income up to 149k
    20% on income over, say, 150K.

    The gradations aren’t very steep.

    Throw in a sales tax.

    The sales tax should be local: this allows for local competition. A national consumption tax is a very good idea and both more progressive and more efficient than income taxes.

    Property taxes: given the nature of local politics, I dislike the idea that property taxes are subject to this level of corruption. The have-nots are essentially able to tax the property of the haves; they’re holding them to ransom.

  23. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Gorb, why should I throw anything to my enemies besides a grenade?

  24. Gorbachev says:

    Well, RV, unless your plan involves killing liberals, the “winner-takes-all” strategy is untenable in a democracy. And if we abolish democracy, there’s no guarantee that what floats to the top will be a type of policy you’ll like. In fact, there’s a good chance you’d abhor it.

    The trick is to buy off the liberals with either what appears to be a compromise or to prioritize your reforms such that you get to do… something.

    For example, one of my current employers is repulsively liberal (actually, more left-fascist). I can’t actually kill her. What should I do? Turn down the money?

    Bit of a problem.

    So it behooves us to buy off liberals.

  25. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Gorbachev, this is exactly why the liberals are winning. And I don’t like democracy to begin with, if by that you understand universal suffrage. The way you do things is get power and withdraw the voting rights of liberals. Then if people stray and do insane things(see quite a lot of the dictators we had about), you can change them.

    Obviously, you can do the crap of compromizing on useless stuff and never compromize on principles, but this is exactly what you’re doing with your suggestion. It’s simple – I support the oppression of weak people. They want to oppress rich people. The middle ground is a poll tax or a flat tax. 🙂 Neither the rich nor the poor get screwed. See, this middle of the ground thing is a relative notion depending on where the two parties are. But again, it’s not like things are salvageable anymore. I’ll actually probably enjoy the destruction of the US, minus for Polymath and a few other people that I like in it. Besides capitalism, everything about the US has been a net negative.

    I really don’t get why democracy gets such a good press. People were far better off before the extensions of the voting suffrage and the loosening of standards for citizenship. Far better. Actually, the only reason why people put up with the government stealing over half of their wages is because they think they can change that. If you didn’t vote(not that voting changes squat), you’d realize what a theft our current taxes are. Monarchs couldn’t even dream about spending 50% of a country’s output and having a say in how the other 50% is managed.

    And in the end, I see democratic governments just as illegitimate. Other people voting a certain why doesn’t make anything legitimate.

  26. Gorbachev says:


    I can see your perspective. One thing I’d like to note, though: Once you get a dictator or aristocracy in power, with its attendant power structures, control of information, and monopoly on violence (a state), much like every government in human history, the only means for changing the ruling power is through violence.

    This means endless factional violence, likely the natural state of our species.

    What you need is a benevolent dictatorship, in which the weak are kept in control and prevented from acting out.

    The problem is that such societies tend to be much less dynamic.

    When Solon freed Athens, it spurred a massive increase in Athenian and related brainpower and energy. Dictators throughout history have known this; unleash the people and stand back as history washes over you.

    Alas, I must concede something to you: The “smart quotient”, the clever types that manage things in our society, should be free. But as for the peons – the ones who continually vote themselves the riches of the rich without being expected to do any work at all — well, this lower 20-35% (maybe 30-40% in Africa; 18-33 % in, say, Korea or Japan), well, denying them the vote doesn’t seem to detract much from this “freedom energy”.

    I think you could repeal universal suffrage and reinstitute a qualification for suffrage. You could basically exclude the lower portions. You wouldn’t need to change much about the actual form of government – the US was founded on such principles, anyway.

    I think that would do away with the whole problem. Give the vote to the productive citizens; possibly deny those who live off of tax dollars (ie, civil servants and any welfare recipients) the vote.

    The French also had a system after the revolution in which numerical democracy didn’t exist – it was by class (left, right, middle) – though I think this is a dangerous trend, personally; it solidifies blocks of hatred and self-interest. It means that when in opposition, the rich legislate for themselves in a permanent and equally-weighted (and therefore unresolvable) battle with the poor.

    The idea would be for the rich/top 70% to be obliged to actually govern in the interest of everyone, and prevent resentment among the lower 30%.

    The joy of repealing universal suffrage is that it gives an incentive to get out of poverty, and doesn’t disenfranchise most of the people, hence giving you a reasonable mandate. No-one gets to vote on taking money from the people unless you contribute to the fund.

    Your opinion?

  27. Polymath says:

    Why don’t you two comment on my new post “Creating and keeping wealth” instead of here? I talk about the same things you are discussing. We may, unfortunately, have reached the tipping point fatal to democracies, where the unproductive can enslave the productive. This is why a flat tax would be best, and I agree that exemption from taxes and voting rights are dangerous things to combine.

    Neither of my last two posts got any comments. I skip a day and almost everyone disappears… 😦

  28. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Gorb, in life there are only two things – fighting or submission. It’s pretty much what people choose. The current system is one of permanent submission, pussyfooting and bending over to grab your ankles.

    And just because people can’t vote, it doesn’t mean that they will be enslaved. lol. When most people didn’t vote, EVERYONE was much freer than today. And yes, I’d have a qualified vote with different voting rules(majority wouldn’t be enough for some things). And the list of requirements would be far longer than just tax money.

  29. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Here’s a funny thing. Apparently, WikiLeaks shows that Obama knew that the Saudis are the biggest financiers of Al Qaeda, yet he approved that arms deal. Doesn’t think make him a traitor under Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution?

  30. Polymath says:

    No, for reasons of state one may negotiate with enemies in order to more effectively counter different enemies (for example Iran in this case).

    Still, the last several Presidents should have viewed the Saudis primarily as enemies. It is more understandable that Obama doesn’t than that Bush didn’t. They are responsible for more jihad worldwide than Iran or anyone else because they have so aggressively and successfully promoted their militant form of Islam over less threatening ones.

  31. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Polymath, he didn’t negotiate with the Saudis, he sold them weapons.

  32. Alvis Velthomer says:

    The Religion of Peace just did some suicide bombings in Sweden. I bet it happened to those Swedes due to foreign empire and overall intolerance.

    I think the saying will soon be changed from “political correctness makes you stupid” to “political correctness makes you dead”.

  33. rebelliousvanilla says:
    Russian men = balls. Western men = vaginas.

  34. rebelliousvanilla says:
    Here’s a guy who I wouldn’t mind putting in front of a firing squad.

  35. FortitudineVincimus says:

    Russian men = balls?

    Russian men are insecure, drug-addicted, weaklings with haircuts that make them look like the victims of a sheep-orgy. For the record, soccer is a vagina sport, too, for people with the emotional maturity of adolescent girls.

    America has far finer men, although we have more than our share of hipsters and douches, too.

    However, according to this article and the study from Oxford, Australia is ahead of the rest of us:

    If you want a man’s sport, watch Rugby.

  36. FortitudineVincimus says:

  37. rebelliousvanilla says:

    FV, American men are spineless morons who can’t even voice their disagreement in public due to fear of losing their jobs, which would get their women who actually rule their lives divorce them and leave them out in the street to be a wage slave. Yep, fine men indeed. You are a group of pathetic weaklings with no balls. That’s about it.

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