Damn Deeboe, etc.*
The events of the year are giving me a weird 1989/1990 vibe. Just saw “Biden Is Weak” spray painted in huge letters on the back of a Semi Trailer and it reminded me of the grafitti on the Berlin wall just before it fell. Is Joe our Regime’s version of Gorbachev and like the Soviets we just can’t see it yet?
God willing, but I doubt it. The thing that really brought the Soviets down, the thing to which all else ultimately reduces, is: The knowledge of something better. I don’t mean “better” in some goopy, flag-sucking way — more “freedom” or “democracy” or whatnot. I mean stuff like “more than one pair of blue jeans, that aren’t made in Bulgaria.” Check out what North Korean defectors say they’re taught about life in the West: A few big plutocrats living in huge mansions, while the rest of us live in straw huts, things like that. I know, I know, Soros, Gates, Bezos, et al think that’s a great idea, and are doing their best to make it happen, notwithstanding the fact that no one will be able to afford their products anymore, but hey, if they could see the obvious consequences of their actions, they wouldn’t be Leftists…
…where was I? Oh yeah: Compared to what North Koreans are told about the West, North Korea really is a worker’s paradise. But that only works in a place like North Korea: a tiny peninsula, with an ideological ally on one of its two borders. The Soviets never really could keep their shop closed like that, and after the last of the hard boys died off, new model apparatchiks like Gorbachev couldn’t see the a reason to try. So pretty soon it was well known that the West had better stuff, despite all the regime’s promises, and there goes the no hitter…
We’re still materially very well off. We’re far less materially well off than we were even a decade ago, as a moment’s reflection will prove, but the memory of better times in the past is like the memory of pain: You remember that you hurt, but you can’t remember what the pain actually felt like. Once there’s a materially superior alternative to which we can compare ourselves on a daily basis, that’s when the game’s up for the regime. (Which, again, is what makes the actions of Soros, Bezos, et al so fucking stupid, but — again — if they could see the obvious consequences of their actions, they wouldn’t be Leftists).
Over at isegoria, he discusses a book called Why Students Don’t Like School. There are 7 principles. Given your background in academia, do you have any thoughts on these? Would you add any other principles? Here they are:
- People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers.
- Factual knowledge precedes skill.
- Memory is the residue of thought.
- We understand new things in the context of things we already know.
- Proficiency requires practice.
- Cognition is fundamentally different early and late in training.
- Children are more alike than different in terms of learning.
- Intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work.
- Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved.
I guess I need to read the book to understand #6. Not quite sure about #7. And, while #8 may be true, I think it’s limited.
This is the kind of question that should probably be a post in itself, but like you, I don’t really understand some of them without the context. So let me just focus on #2, “factual knowledge precedes skill.”
That’s definitely true for mental skills, which I assume are the only ones he’s talking about. I don’t think it holds for purely physical skills — I mean, I know all about how to hit a curveball, theoretically speaking, but I can’t actually do it, because my neurons just don’t fire fast enough. No amount of classroom training is going to change that. But it seems to be true even of skills that are almost entirely physical.
In the football post below, for instance, I mentioned a (black) cornerback named Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s a legitimately smart guy, not just by pro jock standards. For obvious reasons they don’t IQ test football players at the draft**, but being a legit smart guy I bet he would have scored well. The Raiders are among the most brain-dead organizations in football, but for whatever reason they actually used Asomugha the right way. They had him playing some modified zone coverage thing — I’m sure there was some top-secret jargon for it, but I forget — and he shut down that entire side of the field. When he went to Philly, though, the Eagles stuck him in a traditional man cover scheme, and all of a sudden he looked pretty ordinary. That’s because his game was largely mental. Used correctly, his brains were a huge advantage. Used incorrectly, and he’s just another player, no more physically gifted than any other. He was a real “student of the game.”
The more cerebral a task is, the more factual knowledge comes into play. I had a hell of a time getting undergrads to think through even basic history by the end of my career, because they knew nothing. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. They could rattle off the names and (mostly imaginary) accomplishments of every Numinous Negro and Stronk Confident Wahmen this nation has ever produced, but as to stuff like “in which century was the Civil War fought?”, they hadn’t a clue. “Critical thinking” is like building with Legos. At first you’re happy to be able to build a cube; practice some more, and pretty soon you’re recreating the Taj Mahal. Asking your Basic College Girl to do any “critical thinking” with just the “facts” from her high school “education” is like handing her an empty box and saying “build me an exact scale replica of the Taj Mahal with these Legos.” Can’t be done.
A question from texinole, that I’m going to paraphrase more than quote, lest I inadvertently give away some info that he (if that’s how you identify, buddy, we don’t judge) might not want out there:
what would happen to these “free” and cheap services [i.e. platforms like Facebook, which seem to depend solely on ad “revenue”] if the companies who use those services slashed something like 95% of their ad spend. If the fallout resulted in essentially a price increase for said services it would certainly piss off quite a few end users. However, since we can agree that we’re in the middle of a massive, generations-spanning ad spending bubble, it occurred to me that a significant component of many consumer GOODS prices are inflated as a result…
In other words, if I’m reading you correctly, what would happen if the marketing guys just acknowledged what everyone seems to know, that ads have no measurable relationship to sales?
First, a brief detour: Even though it’s obvious that marketing doesn’t have any real relationship to revenue, it’s equally obvious that marketing also somehow works. I used to have great fun, for instance, refudiating the Labor Theory of Value. It was always the most fun to pull this on one of the Credit Card Ches and Trust Fund Trotskys that used to infest the ivy-covered walls, but your standard-issue BCG worked almost as well. I’d pick the most primped-out sorority girl in the audience and ask her how much she’d paid for that tight little tank top with the college logo on it.
“Never mind,” I’d say, when she started sputtering — kids still retain the basic sense that it’s gauche to straight up ask a stranger how much their stuff costs, but they have no vocabulary with which to express it — “I’ve been down to the bookstore; I know what it costs. It’s $35.” Then I’d ask her why she didn’t just go to WalMart, pick up a whole pack of plain tank tops (3 for $7) and a magic marker ($1.50) and write “I heart Flyover State” on each one. That’s a total cash outlay of about 3 bucks per shirt, tax included, for three shirts that do the exact same things you bought that $35 shirt to accomplish: showcasing your hooters (I didn’t say that part out loud), and proclaiming your love for Flyover State. That’s something close to a 90% discount! And yet…
“So much for the Labor Theory of Value,” I’d conclude. Sometimes some of them got it, but I’m sure all of y’all did — marketing does work; ask the college bookstore. And yet, it doesn’t work. The ad budget is very real — it’s sitting there on the spreadsheet in blinking neon red — and the revenue numbers are very real, but how the one becomes the other, no one has ever determined. So… why bother? Why not cut the marketing budget — a very real, very large number — to zero, and just, you know, see what happens? You could roll the savings into actually improving the product, or beefing up customer service, or by dropping the price and passing the savings on to the consumer. I doubt even the slickest ad campaign for a $35 tank top would out-sell the exact same tank top priced at $25…
…and yet, nobody does it. But I think we’re going to find out, given that Facebook et al seem determined to drive all but the hardest-core SJW humans (for lack of a better term) from the site… and, as we all know, when there are no more enemies to purge, those SJWs will start purging each other, and the whole thing collapses.
I’m aware that’s not really an answer, but that’s the best I can do right now. Let’s hash it out in the comments.
It seems like America is the only country in recorded history to actually try to make right past historical wrongs.
Everyone conquered and pillaged. The Egyptians and the Romans nor even the Soviets (at their peak) never apologized and groveled to those they conquered.
Is this accurate?
If we expand “America” to “the West,” generally, then yes, I think so. And it’s baffling, how nobody remarks on how fucking bizarre it is that we even apologize, let alone try to make it right.
The Romans, for one, admitted all the time that they screwed up… to themselves, in private (what passed for “private” in the ancient world, anyway). A big reason an ambitious man (a redundancy in ancient Rome) wanted to climb the cursus honorum was because that was the easiest way to get a field command, which was the easiest way to start a war with someone, which was the easiest route to riches and glory… provided you didn’t fuck it up. But if you did, the best thing to do was to go down fighting with your legions, because the minute you got back to Rome, there’d be ambitious men (again: redundant in context) lined up from here to Sicily waiting to prosecute your ass for something, anything — “losing a war” wasn’t a crime in itself, but whatever the official charge (usually “corruption” or “misuse of public funds” or something), everyone knew you were really getting punished for losing.
At no point, however, did the putative justification for war come into play. Picking a war with the Parthians wasn’t bad in itself. Nor was “picking a war with the Parthians because you gots to get paid.” Certainly picking a war with, say, the Gauls wasn’t bad in itself, and “picking a war with the Gauls because I need to capture and sell a few thousand slaves to cover my debts” was so far from being bad, guys like Caesar, if I recall my Gallic Wars correctly, openly declared it from jump street. And though Caesar surely would’ve been prosecuted if he’d lost, and Crassus if he’d lived, suggesting that anyone owed an apology to the Gauls or Parthians would’ve gotten you locked up as a dangerous lunatic.
A confident, manly power might lose a war or two. Hell, they might lose a bunch — the Romans got beat all the time, and so did the British. But no matter how bad the loss, or how embarrassing the peace treaty, they shrugged it off. You win some, you lose some, and when it’s clear you’re going to lose — or when it becomes clear that there’s no possible way “victory” will ever be worth the cost — you cut your losses and came home. HM forces, for instance, lost no less than three wars in Afghanistan. And so what? Great Britain was still the world’s preeminent power. They never even dreamed of apologizing — that’s the Great Game, old sock.
It’s only in this modern, estrogen-drenched age….
I think that’s it for this week, kameraden. Vaya con Dios.
*One of my favorite bits of Romantic poetry comes somewhere in Byron’s “Don Juan,” where he starts a stanza with “Hail muse! etc.” That’s why Byron is the most accessible of the Romantics… and also the most tedious, in his lesser works, which can be painful indeed. He’s got that modern snarky sensibility.
** the “Wonderlic” test is a very crude approximation of an IQ test, developed (I’m pretty sure) at the start of WWII in order to get a quick-and-dirty measure of functional intelligence on huge masses of draftees. They used to publish players’ Wonderlic scores at the NFL Draft combine. I doubt they do that anymore, or even still give it, because — obviously — dat be rayciss. I don’t know what Asomugha’s score was, but I’d bet long money it was high.