18 January, 2021

The Death Of Expertise

  1. We can all stipulate: the expert isn’t always right.
  2. But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, it shouldn’t engender insecurity or anxiety to think that an expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours. (Because, likely, it is.)
  3. Experts come in many flavors. Education enables it, but practitioners in a field acquire expertise through experience; usually the combination of the two is the mark of a true expert in a field. But if you have neither education nor experience, you might want to consider exactly what it is you’re bringing to the argument.
  4. In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible. The University of Google doesn’t count. Remember: having a strong opinion about something isn’t the same as knowing something.
  5. And yes, your political opinions have value. Of course they do: you’re a member of a democracy and what you want is as important as what any other voter wants. As a layman, however, your political analysis, has far less value, and probably isn’t — indeed, almost certainly isn’t — as good as you think it is.

A New Sense of Direction - MLK, 1968


There is a striking aspect to the violence of riots that has stimulated little comment and even less analysis. In all the riots together the property damage reached colossal proportions, exceeding a billion dollars. Yet the physical injury inflicted by Negroes upon white people was inconsequential in comparison. The bruising edge of the weapon of violence in Negro hands was employed almost exclusively against property, not persons. The inner rage of Negroes is not yet expressed in anti-humanism.

Mass civil disobedience as a new stage of struggle can transmute the deep anger of the ghetto into a creative force. To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be both longer lasting and more costly to the larger society, but not wantonly destructive. It is a device of social action that is more difficult for the government to quell by superior force. The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win, and their participants know it. Hence riots are not revolutionary but reactionary because they invite defeat. They offer an emotional catharsis, but they must be followed by a sense of futility. Civil disobedience in its mass application has the prospect of success. It is militant and defiant, but not destructive.

America Is Intolerably Intolerant


When you think of the sheer vindictiveness of what happened to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, it takes your breath away. On the very night of his greatest career triumph, a reporter dug up his old tweets (composed when he was a young teenager), reported on the most offensive insults, and immediately and irrevocably transformed his online legacy. Now he’s not just “Kyler Murray, gifted quarterback and humble Heisman winner,” but also the man who was forced to apologize for his alleged homophobia. And for what purpose? Which cause did the reporter advance? Where was the cultural gain in Murray’s pain?

17 January, 2021

A Final Assessment of the Trump Presidency, and the Path Forward


 The various cultural fears I alluded to earlier have been used as an excuse for his entire term in office to ignore the economic recklessness playing out both in deed and word, and yet having ceded the high ground to the leftist argument for size of government, spending, and budget math, we will now face the cultural ramifications of abandoning basic first things. I want to be clear — I am not merely worried that the Left will now call us hypocrites regarding spending; I am worried because it is true. And it is not true because we said one thing and did another.

Faced with a big-spending Republican president who said he wanted negative interest rates, trillions of dollars of deficits, and unlimited budget increases in each category, the GOP House and Senate, either afraid of a mean tweet, a MAGA primary opponent, or perhaps genuinely converted by the intellectual force of the Trumpian argument, capitulated. I cannot imagine what it will take to establish credibility.

16 January, 2021

Her Title: Cryptologic Technician. Her Occupation: Warrior.


But for a cancer diagnosis — and the Pentagon bureaucracy — Chief Kent would not even have been in Syria.

After so many hard missions and becoming a mother, she had decided to become a clinical psychologist and treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

That meant becoming a Navy officer and spending six years studying and training. She was scheduled to go to the Navy’s Officer Development School in Rhode Island last June, and to begin her classes for her Ph.D. in the fall.

But she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2016. She told her husband, then on a deployment, only after the surgery was successful.[...]

Chief Kent spoke a half-dozen Arabic dialects and four other languages. She was one of the first women to complete the rigorous course required for other troops to accompany Navy SEALs on raids. She could run a 3:30 marathon, do a dozen full-arm-hang pull-ups and march for miles with a 50-pound rucksack.

She did this while raising two boys, now ages 3 and 18 months, and, for a time, battling cancer.

She used her five overseas combat deployments to master the collection of human intelligence, gaining the trust of tribal leaders, merchants, and local government officials who confided in her, often at great risk to themselves.

That is the kind of mission she had been on Jan. 16, when a bomber killed her and three other Americans at a restaurant in Manbij, Syria. The Islamic State claimed credit for the attack. She became the first female service member to die in Syria since American forces arrived in 2015.

More than 1,000 people attended Chief Kent’s memorial service on Friday at the United States Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Md., where she was posthumously promoted to senior chief petty officer and awarded five medals and citations. The awards described her Special Operations work and also said she had been the noncommissioned officer in charge at the N.S.A.’s operations directorate for four years.

15 January, 2021

Dominion retraction and apology


American Thinker and contributors Andrea Widburg, R.D. Wedge, Brian Tomlinson, and Peggy Ryan have published pieces on www.AmericanThinker.com that falsely accuse US Dominion Inc., Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and Dominion Voting Systems Corporation (collectively “Dominion”) of conspiring to steal the November 2020 election from Donald Trump. These pieces rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.

These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact. Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims.

It was wrong for us to publish these false statements. We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees. We also apologize to our readers for abandoning 9 journalistic principles and misrepresenting Dominion’s track record and its limited role in tabulating votes for the November 2020 election. We regret this grave error. 

14 January, 2021

Charles' Rules of Argument


  1. Entering into arguments is not necessarily good: they're tiring and you often don't convince anyone.
  2. Arguments make people defensive. Do not expect your interlocutor to change their mind during the argument. They will only change it later if at all.
  3. In groups, your argument is actually normally aimed at onlookers more than your interlocutor.
  4. Once you have stated your position and corrected any factual misunderstandings, there is nothing further you can do. Anyone who still disagrees with you cannot be convinced by you arguing with them.

13 January, 2021

The Bitcoin Dream Is Dead


 Bitcoin’s transformation from putative currency to speculative asset, in other words, was effectively built into the system from the start. It’s where Bitcoin was headed all along. (Cryptocurrencies have emerged in Bitcoin’s wake that are better designed to function as currencies, but paradoxically they’re nowhere near as popular as Bitcoin.) Even though it may have been designed as a payment system and a medium of exchange, Bitcoin’s real appeal was, inevitably, going to be as what economists call a “store of value,” a kind of digital analogue to gold. Like gold, Bitcoin is valuable to the extent that people think it’s valuable: You buy it because you think someone else will pay more for it in the future. And like gold, its value can’t be inflated away by a central bank.

09 January, 2021

The rookie GOP congressman describes Capitol Hill chaos, says that some Republicans who knew better voted against election certification out of physical fear, and explains how serving in Iraq and Afghanistan made him want to "end the endless wars."


I mean, we saw a number of senators and a handful of members of Congress change their perspectives. And I guess that's good, but it's not ideal. But what to me was the most bewildering was folks giving speeches that were written that morning as if we weren't in a body that had windows broken in just a few hours earlier, law enforcement drawing weapons. As if a woman hadn't been shot and killed 100 feet from where they stood, right? There was still dried blood out there. And they were giving the exact same speeches, the exact same arguments, telling what they thought their people wanted to hear rather than telling them what they needed to hear.