Since its launch in 2007, RR has had an open, seldom mediated comments policy since I did not want this forum to become an echo chamber for near-conservatarian sentiments. The blog’s purpose was to record my thoughts and observations about these eventful and fin de siècle years for humanity on this planet, and given that this worldview is admittedly outrageous to many, I wanted my readers to see and offer compelling counter arguments. The prime audience for all this was intended to be the ideologically mid-road and undecided reader, of course with a considerable nod to my right-of-center compatriots who hopefully would bolster what I was able to stick into the dike against the progressive flood.
RR took off beyond my expectations, attracting readers and (online and email) commenters to compose quite an audience despite that, I have expended no effort to popularize its diverse subject matter. My intent was to attract only the well-read, or at least the well-reading visitors who would make up a cohort of intellectual peers. I have never wanted to write for ‘broad audiences’, and consequently have often been admonished for using a ‘$10 word’ instead of the accepted handful of more folksy, compact, and dictionary-optional $1 words. It is a weakness learned long ago when Buckley often drove me to my always open, unabridged codex of the English language. As Popeye famously said, ‘Iyam what Iyam.’
So I started writing posts that included my Union columns, and still include my KVMR commentaries, and people of all political stripe started commenting. And then some commenters from both sides became irked at what seemed to be obvious errors, misrepresentations, and even displays of moral turpitude from the other side. The subsequently returned punches began landing below belts. And from the stats, traffic grew as more people joined in the fray either as passive readers or as ‘in the pit’ commenters. Soon the comment streams were decorated with mudballs thrown at opposites for what also was clearly for the sheer fun of retorting outrage with greater outrage. But always between the mudball exchanges, commenters took time to write lengthy considered statements, commentaries, and even essays on the topic at hand. Providing such a forum, warts and all, became a raison d’etre for RR.
Of late things have gotten more than a bit out of hand, and readers and commenters in greater numbers are asking that I attempt to restore some decorum. So here goes.
Commenter Rules: To lower the temperature and foster focus on issues, I will do my best henceforth to enforce the following commenter rules –
1. Under topical posts, keep your comments obviously related to the topic(s) posted. Use the nearest RR Sandbox to introduce other topics and invite discussion.
2. Given the scope of comments that have become traditional on blogs, wordsmith your comments to be clear, concise, and complete. And please read them over before you hit ‘Post’.
3. Contend the presented ideas, interpretations, and opinions, and not their author. Maul the message, and not the messenger. If the messenger wraps himself in the message, then make your repartees as churchillian as possible. Junior high school mudballs prohibited.
4. Remember that RR is a long running blog that contains a growing body of thought, and is strongly ideological with multiple posts on a wide range of topics, including a separate ‘Conservatarian Credo’. Please refer to or reference these as necessary to contend/expand an issue – every issue does not have to start with ‘Hello World!’ Either use the RR embedded search function or Google (‘xx’, rebane’s ruminations) to find previous commentaries and comments on any given subject.
5. ‘Praise publicly and punish privately.’ Don’t launch personal attacks on other commenters or me. Most certainly don’t publish other people’s personal information that is unrelated to the posted topic(s).
6. Minimize the use of obscenities and profanities – i.e. do not use them in an obviously gratuitous manner.
7. I invite bylines from RR readers. If you have an extended thought on a topic you’d like to post on RR under your name, email it to me. I’ll make the final determination.
8. No spam or porn.
Not a requirement, but as a courtesy to other readers, please identify by name/timestamp the comment to which your comment pertains. My own format has been 'GeorgeR 153pm'. Other lengthier ones also will serve. Thanks.
We’ll see how these work out. I will do my best to enforce them ‘fairly’, but since that word has no uniformly accepted operational definition, you will almost certainly accuse me of being unfair. Your complaints are welcomed. I am reminded of the old coach who advised his players ‘Never seek justice, only mercy.’
Parting note – please compose and keep your lengthier comments in a Word (or other text editor) document until you see the comment ‘survive’ on RR. I will not take the time to ‘cleanse’ comments that violate the above rules, I’ll just unpublish them. In that case, if you wish, you can edit out the offending part yourself and repost. Note also that these rules are accessible under the upper right margin heading 'RR Fundamentals'.
Lowell Robinson RIP. A sad email from a friend this morning reported the passing last night of Lowell Robinson, one of the giants of our community. Lowell was the founder of what today we know as Robinson Enterprises, a multi-faceted business that has served Nevada County for decades. He also put his money where his mouth was as a prominent supporter of uncounted philanthropies, local educational programs, and political causes. We will miss his good humor, wisdom, and generosity.
IQ scores have been rising for decades. So we learn from the work of James Flynn, a social scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Since IQ is a relative or a ‘normed measure’ of intelligence represented by the bell curve in which 100 is set so as to indicate the average or mean IQ, and every ten point difference from 100 is one standard deviation, your 80 or 120 IQ respectively says that about 2.5% of the population scores lower than you, or the same percentage scores higher. But Dr Flynn reports that IQ tests have had to be made tougher over the course of the last century in order to keep the mean at 100.
IQ scores shot up in the 1920s after WW1, then plateaued, and then shot up again after WW2. Scores plateaued again in the 1970s (coincident with when Great Society education started kicking in). After picking up for a quarter century, the recent rise has again slowed down. One of the several theories to account for this ‘Flynn Effect’ is that childhoods have become longer as countries became richer during the last hundred years or so.
Several people are beginning to notice Jonathan Rauch’s (Political Realism, 2015) development of what he has labeled “transactional politics”. The left-leaning political commentator sounds almost like a conservative when he defends ‘political machines’ as the grease that keeps the wheels of government turning, and not grinding to a halt as seems to be the current propensity of Washington. He observes that “American government may be less corrupt. But it also has more difficulty getting anything done.” One of his nostrums includes reinstatement of ‘earmarks’ as the currency which allowed (motivated?) politicians to wheel and deal and then compromise in getting major legislation through Congress. I’ll have more to say about Rauch’s thoughts in a future post on our government’s sclerotic corruption, a dysfunction that is now beyond the tipping point as also analyzed by Charles Murray (By the People, 2015).
We are here in Scottsdale again attending the annual conference of the Mercatus Center and Institute for Humane Studies. For the last several years it has been an annual event for us and friends to caravan down and enjoy a few days of exceedingly interesting presentations and workshops on economics and national issues. The conference attracts about three hundred attendees, most of whom are donors to the two organizations connected to George Mason University. What always amazes us is the number of well-read and informed people who also make this their annual pilgrimage for stimulating discussions and debates.
This year’s keynote speakers were PJ O’Rourke and economist Tyler Cowen. PJ was a last minute stand-in for syndicated columnist George Will who had to deal with a family emergency. And everyone got a chance to rub elbows and talk at length with the nationally prominent scholars who do the institutes’ research and present their work here, in scholarly publications, national news media, and in congressional hearings.
In the interval I have not been able to monitor the goings on hereabouts. Looking in on RR, I am more than a bit dismayed over the exchange that has been going on in ‘Sandbox – 11mar15’ during my absence. I notice that RR is again the tromping ground for Mr Jeff Pelline and some of his cohort. And the dialogues such attendance has given rise to are nothing to write home about, let alone memorialize for the ages on the web.
Mr Pelline’s contributions are the indelible derivatives of his nature delivered to raise him to the extent that he can successfully push down those he attacks. As usual, he brings no ideas to discuss or dissect, only ad hominem vituperation. But what continues to puzzle me is that RR readers take the man seriously enough to more than give him the time of day. These readers, who have already established their credentials in debating issues and ideas, actually are seen to engage with Mr Pelline at length and at his level. The resulting mudball fights bring nothing to the large number of this blogs regular, albeit silent, readers. But they do bring out the bitter angels that inhabit a select few of those who oppose Mr Pelline and all that he stands for. My question again is what end is justified by entering into such exchanges at his peerage. Are there not better ways to shorten his pointless visits here?
As I’ve said before, if Pelline’s attacks on RR readers are ignored, then I will delete them as I would flick away any pesky fly. But if his droppings solicit an exchange, then I must conclude that certain RR readers actually enjoy engaging the man. And according to the established sandbox rules (as they now stand), the dialogue can continue. But again, to what end??? Any thoughts on this?
To jog the understanding is a greater feat, than to jog the memory: for it takes more to make a man think, than to make him remember. ... Gracian #68
When RR launched back in 2007 its purpose was to capture my and my readers’ views on humanity’s efforts to concurrently prepare for or studiously ignore the advent of an epochal milestone in this planet’s ‘Story of Man’. The topic matter and opinions recorded in these pages cover everything from geo-politics, culture, education, economics, history, science, and of course, the Singularity, in the advent of which we now find ourselves. Readers recall that when we do realize that the Singularity has happened – I don’t believe we can predict that hour – all of our prepared plans and hopes will become moot. A new age will start on this blue, brown, and white ball.
Reading postings from some years back, I knew then that my views within most of the listed areas were charitably ‘on the fringes’ of what passed for common wisdom in our media. I was prepared for that since being on the fringes has been a common thread of my life. So I took the obligatory slings and arrows from more mainstream folks as a matter of course. But over the last few years things have begun changing as also noted by my correspondents. My outlandish notions of yesteryear are being discovered and embraced by more and more observers of the human condition. What was a fringe notion on, say, items like unfunded liabilities and its impact on public policy are now repeated as alarums so common as to be in danger of again being ignored because of their repetitions. Or even more significantly, the undeflected growth of systemic unemployment due to accelerating technology and declining education in these pre-Singularity years.
Today one can point to such ideas starting to penetrate even the denser thickets of the Left (while the densest continue to be blissfully immune). I was reminded of this most recently during the critiques of President Obama’s SOU speech. As Exhibit A I offer the 22jan15 commentary – ‘Obama’s American Sniper’ - of Wall Street Journal’s deputy editorial director Daniel Henninger. This respected award-winning journalist and commentator is read internationally as an established voice of America’s Right. The referenced column on the recent SOU speech makes arguments about Obama (as a chronic liar) and America’s geo-politics that could have been drawn straight from my ‘fringe’ commentaries of yesteryear, and now few would find them surprising in the pages of one of the world’s pinnacle (and yes, profitable) publications covering business, politics, and international affairs.
Of course I am heartened to see these ideas begin to leak into the mainstream. And it matters not if the recently arrived make claims to have always been here. The point is that such a migration of ideas spells hope that we may yet reverse course, and, as a society, struggle against all odds back to the tipping point. My hope is that humans will meet the Singularity as a sane species worthy to participate in a trans-human future, instead of having become yet another dying species witnessing the dawn of post-humanity. Such are my musings as I ponder the future of RR, and the efforts required to stay the course. Thoughts?
OK, all you Ruminators, pay attention. If you live in northern California, the NWS promises lots of water and wind coming our way starting tomorrow night (Wed) and going through Thursday. PG&E is betting on power outages with crews doing last minute tree trimmings over/near vulnerable power lines. But we all know that power will go out; some places for quite a while.
Time to get your vehicles gassed up, generators and chain saws fueled, oiled, and exercised, candles, flashlights, and kerosene lamps standing by, firewood stacked and handy, and all kinds of extra nummies stuffed into the ice box that you’ll have to eat cause else it will spoil (ha!). Extra DVD movies to watch during the storm – after all, why did God invent generators.
Oh yes, and charge up all those up chargeables like your pad and cell phone. Grab some good books. Then strap on a set of your favorite snuggies, set up your favorite adult beverages, put on some music, and let come what may. Stay safe.
RR reader/debater, musician, producer, KVMR news director, and friend Paul Emery is long known in Nevada County for his many talents and activities which keep us entertained and informed. This fall Paul is outdoing himself with a bevy of productions that promise to keep the county’s toes a’tappin’. I am constantly amazed how such a seemingly laid back guy can accomplish all that he does. This morning he sent out an email that details the various courses of the latest feast he is serving up in the coming weeks. Take note also that Paul now has a first class website that displays his wares. Here is how he tells it.
Nevada City Live - Fall 2014
The beat goes on! This week we have a fantastic line-up at the Nevada Theatre.
Last year, author and poet Molly Fisk brought the house down with her performance during Nevada City Live. Her humor, wit, impeccable timing, astute observations and colorful storytelling is a joy to see in person! Don't miss her on Friday, October 10.
And don't forget Troubadours: Peter Wilson, Moe Dixon and Mountain John Hilligoss will reunite for a very special concert Saturday, October 11.
When not touring as Troubadours, Wilson regularly performs at Northern California festivals, concerts and nightclubs. He's been a featured performer at the California WorldFest, KVMR Celtic Festival and has opened concerts for headliners including The Band, Etta James, Jessie Winchester, and The Smothers Brothers. Dixon now divides his time between Oregon and Colorado and is considered one of the top solo artists in the country, for his unique finger-style and ragtime guitar. He's shared the stage with such familiar names as Phil Oches, Pete Seeger, Robben Ford, Buddy Guy, Doc Watson, Maria Muldaur, John Denver, and more. Mountain John was a fixture in the LA and Nashville music scenes, performing with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris and more, before moving to Pennsylvania to pursue his poetry.
Shows start at 8pm and tickets are $20. Tickets are on sale on at BriarPatch Co-Op in Grass Valley and Yabobo in Nevada City. Tickets are for sale for all shows through Vendini.
You can find more information on these shows plus the entire lineup on my new website at www.paulemerymusic.com
We still need volunteers for all shows. You can sign up for a show by sending an email to Robin Karistedt at email@example.com and she'll give you details.