William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Page 145 of 627

Lawyer Argues We Should Ignore Inconvenient Laws

The law is for squeebs

Ilya Somin calls himself a lawyer, and he probably is one, too. Therefore what he says about the law must be right.

Convinced by Somin’s arguments, I will later this week head off to Sweden and set up shop on the streets. Why? Well, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I am unemployed. And I’ve heard Sweden has a heck of a welfare system. Once I make it past the border, they’ll have to take care of me. Give me food, a comfortable place in which to eat it, dignity. It’s their responsibility since they have more than I do.

Of course I will be breaking the law by crossing Sweden’s border, and they may seek to call me an “illegal immigrant” or even, Heaven forfend, a criminal. I prefer the term “undocumented worker,” incidentally. And I might even try to find work, if somebody will offer it to me. The Swedish government had better not try to kick me out, either, else I’ll sick Somin on them. Then—look out!

Somin would tell those mean hateful racist Swedes “Illegal Immigration is Easily Justified Under a Weak Presumption in Favor of Obedience to Law.” He says, “If obeying a law is inconvenient and violating it is unlikely to harm anyone, [most people] believe that violation is morally justified.”

“Strict compliance” of laws we disfavor “would be annoying and inconvenient”. And this includes all those “violations of various federal regulations that ordinary citizens and small businesses routinely run afoul of.” He forgets to mention that ordinary citizens have no idea of the number and extent of federal laws, which increase yearly in number, reach, and severity of punishment. But everybody knows crossing a border without permission is illegal.

From this he concludes, “If you apply this theory to illegal immigration, it becomes clear that illegal immigrants have a much stronger case for violating immigration laws than native-born citizens do for their routine violations of the speed limit and various petty federal regulations.”

Far as I can tell, his “theory” is that you only have to follow those laws which you don’t find annoying and inconvenient. And that you can ignore those laws which you have concluded won’t harm others.

The anarchist in me likes this. Piracy has always had an appeal. “A short life but a merry one!” is my cry. Besides, if Sweden leaves me to rot in this country, full of progressive head hunters gunning for heretics like myself, it would (Somin’s words) consign me to poverty and oppression “through no fault of [my] own, merely because [I was] born on the wrong side of a line on the map.” And that’s just not fair.

Hey! Sweden! You rich so-and-sos. Gimme! And make it quick.

Update My jet lag is making me miss the obvious. Somin likens illegally crossing borders to speeding. He forgets that speeders get tickets, and that repeat offenders lose their licenses or even go to jail. Somin is a lawyer.

Science for the State; Or, Lysenko Lives

Bette Davis eyes

Bette Davis eyes

Jim Fedako (who wrote this piece; send him email) is a business analyst and homeschooling father of seven who lives in Lewis Center, OH.

It sometimes seems that every regime needs to find its justification in science. Ideology is fine, to a point. But the final arbiter of legitimacy resides, or so it seems, in science. So what of science?

The Soviet Union had its ideological foundation in dialectical materialism—that edgy methodology that combines, you guessed it, dialectics and materialism. In essence, so the theory goes, matter moves from one state to another in an endless ascendancy from the lower to higher.

I know, blah, blah, blah. Just a load of muddled nonsense. But it was the Soviet religion. And everything had to be justified through it.

So in the 1920s, along comes this quack by the name of Lysenko. According to Wikipedia, he rejected

Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful political-scientific movement termed Lysenkoism.

Helena Sheehan picks up the story noting that Lysenko

subsequently became famous for the discovery of “vernalisation,” an agricultural technique that allowed winter crops to be obtained from summer planting by soaking and chilling the germinated seed for a determinate period of time.

More muddled nonsense. But since Lysenko and his nonsense—er, theories—fit the nonsense that is dialectical materialism, he became a sweetheart of the state bureaucracy.

And as Lysenkoism grew in power and prestige, so did the pressure on those who dared object. Alternate theories were rejected and proponents forced from positions and jailed, and sometimes even sentenced to death. Mendelian genetics was pushed from the halls of academia into the hushed-hushed backrooms where no one listened, except spies for the state.

There were two other results of Lysenkoism worth noting: food shortages and waste. But, hey, what’s a few cracked eggs among friends, especially when the omelet is for the state?

The key to my opening statement is not that science needs to justify the state. The key is that the state needs to find the science that will justify its (the state’s) existence.

So the state creates its justifying science and, lo and behold, that very same science justifies the state. In Lysenko’s words,

Long live the Party of Lenin and Stalin, which discovered Michurin for the world and created all the conditions for the progress of advanced materialist biology in our country.

Glory to the great friend and protagonist of science, our leader and teacher, Comrade Stalin!

Does any of this sound familiar? In the 1930s, the state adopted Keynesian economics. It did not do so because the system made sense. No, the state adopted Keynesian economics because it justified the state and the state’s profligate ways.

Keynes was the Lysenko of the Roosevelt administration. The state declared Keynes a genius and worked to control his opposition. No Siberian Gulags, just academic ones. But the chilling result was the same here as in the Soviet Union. The state’s science became the science, and science and state lived happily ever after. For a while anyway.

When Stalin died, Lysenko was first discredited by Khrushchev.

Nevertheless, Lysenko was to find favour again, and at that with Khrushchev, for his researches into composting and breeding dairy cows with high butter fat, themes both dear to Khrushchev who wanted to raise the USSR’s milk output.

In the end, the Soviets finally recognized that Lysenko was a fraud, though it took a half a century.

Here in the United States, it took us almost the same amount of time to begin to question Keynesianism. And just like Lysenkoism, Keynesianism fell out of favor only to subsequently return to favor once again—nothing like more butter fat to whet the appetite of the political class.

Of course, Keynes is gone—his long run ended years ago. But Keynesianism lives on through its adherents. And Paul Krugman is the most visible one we have today.

But Krugman is just another Lysenko—peddling nonsense that justifies the state. As one of its most prominent and vocal proponents, Krugman is an influential activist for the political class and the status quo. So, of course, he is blessed by the state.

Most importantly, Krugman is willing to see more than a few eggs cracked in order to serve up a state-sized omelet—I think he calls his special omelet the Laureate, but I am not certain of that.

Every state needs justification. And the justifiers are always welcomed and cheered by the state. So we should not be shocked that a false science—a science that props up the state—is embraced by the state and associated sycophants.

But we must always remember that in the end, the nonsense is revealed for all to see, with the proponent receiving his due discredit. But how long do we have to wait? And what will be the final result? Only time will tell.

Boys’ Toys V. Girls’ Toys: Researchers Still Trying To Prove They’re The Same

Not quite the one I saw.

Not quite the one I saw.

Last Thursday I was at the warthog park at the butt end of 57th street on the East river, reading and enjoying the rare sunshine. Nannies and moms (mostly nannies) filtered in with their charges, mostly babies and kids under four or five.

The toys kids are bought come in fads. It was marbles in my day, and card games when my kids were young (those special packs with monsters on them). The kids in the park, those who could walk, all had the same green plastic mini-scooter.

The park has benches around the edges and in its interior are a couple of raised areas of dirt and sand which are bounded by brick. A statue of a warthog is in the middle.

One boy, helmeted naturally, started tooling around and around and around the park solely for the sake of tooling around. Soon another boy joined in. Later a third boy came but he started circling in the opposite direction. The first pair of boys, a Tall one and a Young one, came to the Third boy. Tall said, “Do you want to be friends?” Third said, “Yes.” And Tall, excited as he could be, said to Young, “He wants to be our friend!”

Meanwhile, some girls had come, too. They were off in a corner of the park opposite where I was, sitting near their nannies and playing with some bright plastic thing I couldn’t make out.

The boys circled and circled until Tall had the happy idea of crashing full speed into the brick and tumbling onto the dirt. Young saw this and copied. He flew backwards onto the cement, whereupon he started laughing and laughing. This was the funniest thing he had ever done in his life. He was doubled over in mirth.

His nanny (I’m guessing) came over thinking he was hurt. When Young saw her he popped up and took off on his scooter. And then Third came and crashed.

The Tall crashed again. Full speed into the brick—bam!—and thrown off. Then Young, then Third, and so on, for quite a while. Sometimes they would fall into the dirt, sometimes on the cement, but always they would fall laughing.

After a while, probably because of exposure to one too many movies, they started crashing and falling in slow motion, complete with explosion sound effects, exaggerating their demise, limbs everywhere.

It was time for me to go, and I noticed as I left one of the girls in the corner was standing waving her finger at another of the girls, a mean look on her face. The girls never took part in the crashes.

And now I read of “scientific” “research” which tells me I didn’t see what I saw, or that if I did see what I saw, it was partly my doing. Toy choices of children, we are told, “don’t actually reflect innate preferences” but the preference of their parents and society. I am part of society.

Boys and girls aren’t different, scientists say, but they are genderfied into thinking they’re different by society. Why, hasn’t research “shown” that there are “no sex differences in the preferences of babies for looking at objects versus faces”? And thus, since myopic girl babies and myopic boy babies tend to look or not look at the same things in a constrained unnatural setting, that because therefore that I have eight inches and seventy pounds on my mate, plus a whole different set of plumbing, must mean nothing. At least in the sense that these manifest dimorphisms could possibly play any role in our behavior.

Now since this is Happy Week (Day 2) at WMBriggs.com, I won’t tell you what I think of the minds of researchers anxious to deny the absolute incontrovertible unalterable fact that males and females are different. Boys and girls know they don’t look like one another, and they know they act differently. It is therefore profoundly cruel to attempt to erase, ignore, or medicate away these natural incommensurabilities.

Since I love my enemies, even the enemies who drug boys to make them behave more like girls, I won’t suggest that they should be flogged for their crimes. No, sir. Next time I see an “educator,” I will hug her and tell her that I love her, even as I remind her that she is complicit in spreading the most pernicious pig-ignorant harmful lies and that she is contributing mightily to the downfall of civilization.

Alchemy Hour

It’s Happy Week here at WMBriggs.com: seven full days1 bursting with smiles, bonhomie, and the unadulterated love of my fellow man, no matter how wicked—but no! Joy begins as of now. So, without more and further ado—at last, at last!—some news worth cheering.

Announcing the brilliant opening of Alchemy Hour, Clothiers to the Stars! in Maplewood, New Jersey.

The store was built and is owned and run by my Number One son (same first name as his old man, who in turn had the same first name of his old man, who in turn, etc., for many generations) and his lovely wife Julia.

It's that time.

It’s that time.

Now you know Yours Truly. But unless you are one of the half-million (plus or minus, give or take) who have read Mine Tomorrow: Polon Percival and the Political Ploy, you won’t know my son. Where his old man is industrial grade vinegar, Number One is cherry blossom honey. Organic, naturally. And if his father’s muscular mix of English-Austrian (German)-Irish-Polish blood gave him the love of endless argument, an infusion of a Dutch-Danish corpuscle cocktail produced mellowness and jollity itself in his offspring. In other words, don’t hold me against him.

Julia sings opera and knows a good half dozen languages and has exquisite taste in clothing. You know how seriously we take clothing here, so I mean this as high praise. For instance, do not do this; at least, not anywhere within eyeshot of me.

I’ve seen, many times, Julia suggest an outfit to someone who would look at it and say, “No way.” Until the someone put it on and realize it was perfect. Plus, the shop has many unique items from south of the equator. Julia is from Brazil and makes trips there to bring back exotic stock. She also has lined up several super secret sources of seamstresses who make their own wares. You won’t be able to find at Macy’s what you can discover at Alchemy Hour.

Stop by when you’re in town and let Julia fix you up with something unexpected and astonishing. You can follow them on Twitter (@shopalchemyhour) or on Facebook.

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1Somebody count and see how long I last.

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