Sunday, July 18, 2010

What's new, pussycat? #12

Trestin Meacham posts an interview with Hyphenated-American
Trestin was kind enough to post an interview with me on his blog. Trestin asks me a series of questions - from how I found myself in the US to the reasons why Americans should be concerned about socialism. In short - a normal chat between a couple of guys in the bar sipping beer and eating burgers - except the interview was conducted on the Internet, and I simply typed my replies on the computer.

I doubt I've broken any new grounds in this interview - but I suggest you check out Trestin's site anyway, read the interview and leave a few comments. Trestin is a genuinely nice guy, and I like his blog a lot.

Intellectuals and Society
I am a huge fan of Thomas Sowell - he is undeniably the most talented economist and political commentator alive.

A few weeks ago I've purchased his latest book "Intellectuals and Society" and I was having fun reading it. One of the main topics of the book is the correlation between igornance and arrogance of intellectuals.
The ignorance of intellectuals on great many subjects rarely (if ever) stops them from commenting on any topic with an unbelievabke air of arrogance and complete lack of any self-doubt.  For example, it's common for a journalist with zero understanding of economics and business to speak with derision about businessmen and capitalists and describe them as people not only of low morality - but also as people of no discernible talent and special knowledge to run business. Everyone is used  to hearing journalists express their belief that businessmen could have achieved much more if only they were smart enough to listen to the ideas promoted by the media.

And lo and behold - right on cue, I found a recent NPR interview with Steven Pearlstein, a "Washington Post business columnist" - a man with no discernible experience with business - it's unlikely he ever ran a hot-dog stand. And this "columnist" has a lot to say about the captains of American industry - the men who raised themselves by the bootstraps, who proved their credentials by actually making profit for their respective companies.

To start with, he claims that business is not investing partly because businessmen are not terribly bright (I presume they pay too much attention to the Obama's new laws and regulations instead of reading Washington Post's editorials):

And some of it, to be quite frank, Robert, is an appalling lack of imagination and guts on the part of these same CEOs who are complaining and pointing the finger at every else. You know, these guys are very good at cutting. They're very good at blaming others. They're a little less good at coming up with creative new products and services, and they've got a little flabby in that regard in the last few years where the focus has been on surviving and cutting, as it should had been. But they're not the gutsiest group of people in the world.  
He then criticizes them for, well, not knowing what they were doing in business:
And by the way, they get into this group think which you - you know, the fact that they all say it, it's sort of like a notion that starts in the country club locker room, and everyone is nodding, and then the one passes it on to the other. And now, you know, this similarity of the comments betrays this sort of group think that is almost self-fulfilling at this point.
Among many things that could be said about this bizarre comments by a Washington Post columnist (and are said by Thomas Sowell in his book) - a few obvious questions stand out. Who is INSTITUTIONALLY more susceptible to a virus of group think, and who is less likely to be forced by reality to walk away from the group think? Who has a stronger incentive to find the truth - a columnist for a mainstream media outlet, or a CEO of a major corporation? If the CEO is wrong in his assumptions - that will be reflected in his company's profits. If the manager ignores the reality, his company goes out of business. In short, there is a very powerful feedback that corrects for the mistakes of a business manager. But how exactly can reality tell the columnist for Washington Post that his loud pronouncements about business are wrong? What is the mechanism to correct his mistakes - and get his fanny fired if he dares to ignore reality?

These are powerful questions - and we all know the answers to them. A society that respectfully listens to (and subsidizes) insane rants by a half-literate social studies graduate - let alone acts on them - is a society in a real danger of collapse. I can believe that Steve's rhetorical devices are far more trained than those of the captains of industry. On the other side, it is clear that Steve's actual knowledge of business is at the level of a clever kindergartner - and yet, it is he who is given the microphone by the government media outlet and it is he, who is lecturing the businessmen on how they should run their business. I wonder when Steve will start using radio time to instruct engineers and surgeons. The time is coming to know what Steve thinks about Electrical Engineering. I cannot wait to hear Steve giving his opinion about the Nyquist criteria of stability of a system with one right-half plane pole in the open loop. Let the Laplace Transformation begin!

Politically correct toilets are coming to Britain
This story is too insane to be untrue. A British shopping center is installing "Asian squat toilets" in order to pander to the barbarian hordes from Asia. The asses heads of the Greater Manchester town's Exchange mall have chosen to spent several thousand pounds on these medieval toilets after "attending a cultural awareness course run by a local Muslim community activist." It is only a matter of time before camels will be used in the city of London as means of transportation - all in the name of "political correctness", "diversity" and "multiculturism". This story is also making me wonder - why is every time West accommodates itself to Islamic traditions - it has to bring in outdated cultural and technical devices into our society - be it burqas, blasphemy laws, honor killing, Sharia law or squat toilets? Hasn't our president, Barack Obama famously told the world about the Moslem positive influence on science? If they are so advanced - why is everything coming from the Islamic world so obsolete?

This last question reminded me of an episode from venerable South Park. In one of the episodes, the boy's school is sent on a field trip to Costa Rica, led by an activist choir group, "Getting Gay with Kids." The purpose of the trip is to "raise awareness about the vanishing rain forests". When the boys get out of the bus in Costa Rica, the following hilarious dialogue between Eric Cartman (an 8 year boy) and the politically correct teacher (Jeniffer Aniston) ensures (listen to the dialogue here):

Cartman: [holding his nose] Oh my God, it smells like ass out here!
Choir teacher: All right, that does it! Eric Cartman, you respect other cultures this instant.
Cartman: I wasn't saying anything about their culture, I was just saying their city smells like ass.

And this is the message that I was trying to convey all these years. I am not saying anything about Moslem culture - I am just saying that their cities smell like ass.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention.
Thomas Sowell does great work.
The Koreans still have some of those toilets in a few places, but they are using mostly western ones now.

John Carey said...

I just want to let you know H-A that my newest post was inspired by your interview with Trestin. Thank you. I placed you in my blogroll link.

Karen Howes said...

I love Thomas Sowell, will have to check that book out.

As for the toilets, that's just insane. The Luftwaffe missed a few spots...