Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose..............J.B.S. Haldane
Quantum Mechanics is not only stranger than you imagine, but stranger than you can imagine ............(a version attributed to Richard Feynman)
The Junk Drawer
The New York Times advises that if you hate leaving random stuff around the house, you need a junk drawer - a drawer reserved for all that random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.
I am arguing with Connolley again. The occasion is his review ( http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2021/02/the-tyranny-of-merit.html ) of a book called the Tyranny of Merit. It's not likely to be a book I would read, because I'm a lot more concerned about the tyranny of folly. Dr. Connolley, and perhaps the author, manage to wander into the thorny philosophical territory of the meaning of value, justice, and merit. Can we say anything about these except that opinions differ? Connolley: " The assertion (p 136) that Hayek doesn't understand that things other than market value, have value, is drivel. So what we get is a fatal problem for his theory: market value isn't moral worth. His answer (again, p 136) is to take market value as a proxy for social contribution, which is lying worthy of Plato. In his version, free-market liberalism differs from meritocracy. In mine, it doesn't." Dr. C tends to get a bit vituperative, which tends to have a bad effect on me,
The US spent a trillion dollars fighting the Taliban and equipping a large Afghan government force with modern weapons and training. The government troops are far more numerous than the Taliban and much better equipped, and they are melting before the Taliban like a July snow. Why? The great Arab Historian and polymath Ibn Khaldun figured this out eight centuries ago. He called it asibiyah, the social glue that holds a nation or a fighting force together. The asibiyah of the Taliban is a fanatic devotion to a religion that promises paradise to martyrs. The government forces have no equivalent. Bush and his idiot advisors often and proudly announced that they were not into nation building. When they said that, I thought “then you will surely fail.” After World War II, the US and allies spent vast sums and many decades in building Germany and Japan into modern democratic nations. That effort has proved immensely successful. Any similar efforts in the targets of B
Book Pre-Review: War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires by Peter Turchin Peter Turchin styles himself as a latter day Hari Selden – he is looking for theories of Cliodynamics - general principles of history. Two big principles animate his War and Peace and War. One is due to the great Arab historian and polymath Ibn Khaldun. Khaldun identified the crucial role of asabiya – the fundamental social glue that unites a people – in the stability of nations and empires. The second is the role of Malthusian cycles in the instability of empires. The basic idea of the Malthusian cycle is that peace and prosperity lead to growth in the numbers of the peasant class. This leads to competition for land, increases in rents, decreases in pay for landless laborers and increased prosperity for the nobles and other rentiers, which, in turn, leads to an expansion of the Noble class. The peasants and laborers suffer starvation, plague, and the other apocalyptic catastroph