Just Deserts

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Lately there has been a baffling revolt on the left against “meritocracy.”

As with almost every one of these crusades the left goes on, it ain’t what they’re saying it is.  And those of us on the right(ish) who think that it’s all part of a master plan to destroy society so the great communist utopia appears automagically aren’t precisely right.  I mean, most people on the left would welcome collapse, because, yes, they believe a communist matriarchy is ONLY waiting for the “oppressors” who create capitalism and patriarchy to vanish (oblivious to the fact that “capitalism” is trading, which seems to be a natural condition of the human monkey and not eradicable by any regime real or imaginary; and that “patriarchy” doesn’t exist in the west.) But that’s not the point, because they don’t think they’re bringing about collapse. They think they’re fighting injustice.

When we say “merit” and “meritocracy” they think we’re using “code words” to say “white males.”  There are reasons for this, besides the fact that the left is heavily into Manichaean thought systems that go something like: identify problem-find a person who MIGHT be responsible for/benefits from the system as it exists-assume that if that person were removed, the problem would be gone.  See, French Revolution.

The initial confusion on the left arises from the fact that they might never, in fact, have witnessed meritocracy in their dealings or those of people around them.

This is because, as part of the long march, and to secure absolute control of all fields and institutions, the left has a mythology (the manichaean thing again) that anyone who disagrees with them is evil. And of course, you don’t hire evil people.

The problem with that type of hiring is that you’re NOT hiring the best.  And most people know they’re not the best. And hire someone less bright than they are.  This in four generations takes you to the level of management/operation that takes monarchies twenty generations of inbreeding to achieve.

Right now, in everything but the hard sciences and STEM (and they’ve gotten into some of those, and can’t always be routed around.) the people in power would consider pouring piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the sole a feat of unachievable genius.

Most of them are so vaccuous they don’t even know they’re incompetent.  Or, like Michelle Obama in her essay on why everyone was mean to her at Harvard, they assume everyone else is just as incompetent.

The reason they get hired, stay hired and continue to get push/accolades/power is that they have the “right picture in head” by which you should understand “the left picture in head.”  They view the world exactly as they were taught to view it by their Marxist teachers and professors.  Reality is Manichean, and if there is any issue at all, you find the person who might be causing it (hint, usually you find the person who is a heretic to the left, even if in a minor thing) and you attack that person.  If the person is not immediately obvious, you look for deviationism or examples of hidden thought crime.

It’s appalling, and in a society with no protection for the individual, it fills mass graves, but it is the way their minds — for lack of a better term — operate. They’ve been trained to operate that way.  Not to look at human nature, or the conditions in the world, or even the limits of engineering and materials (what’s holding us back on batteries, for instance.  They prefer to think oil executives, personally, are holding back the all-electric solar cars we should already have.) No. “Find the culprit” “Eliminate him/her” “Everything is beautiful in the garden.” Seen in this light, the Green Nude Heel makes “perfect sense.” And is a genius work in scope.  Which is why she got all upset at criticism and thought that it only meant people wanted her to find all the little subculprits and work out all the details of the pogroms necessary to make it work.  Not getting that people were saying “Not in this world, not with these humans, not in this REALITY.”

Given those thought limitations: the fact that they’re privileging people who have a picture in their heads that doesn’t match reality except in trivial aspects (I’m fairly sure, for instance, they see humans as bipedal. Though I would NOT lay a small bet.) and that the results are often unexpected and most of the time disastrous (sometimes due to a lot of other factors, the thing they think they’re doing works, just not the way they expected.) the worlds seems even more chaotic to them than it is.

In a chaotic world, in which results might have nothing to do with input (in their minds) the best you can do is hire morally good (for their definition) people and hope for the best. They think of this as Meritocracy.

But since we oppose their views of hiring by leftist ideology (with bonus points for victimhood experiences according to the Marxist scale) they think we must have an opposite and competing view of who the morally good people are.  So they invert their scale and think we mean we should hire ALL white conservative males.

It’s insane, but not inexplicable.

This is reinforced by the fact that even if they’ve seen merit hiring in the real world, they’ve also seen failures of merit.  Most of us have run into people much better qualified for xyz position than the person currently occupying it.  This is because in the real world, the ability to get a position/job/sale has a component of luck.  It’s not as high as most people think. I mean, look, if you know a field really, really well and know an inexplicably uncessuccessful person (or only mildly succesfull when by ability they should be huge) you often can tell why they’ve never hit the big time, beyond ability.  Hell, I can with my own stuff. (I seem to be attracted to really off beat stuff, that leaves normal human beings scratching their heads.)

But there is still a component of luck. Who you know. Where you are. Even what you expect all go into it.  It’s no use, for instance, to be perfect for a job in Alaska when you live in CA and can’t leave for personal or family reasons. Tough luck.

The left run into as many people who “should be doing better” as the rest of us, only because of their circles, these people tend to be various flavors of Marxist victim. All of which feeds their suspicion there’s a parallel system that favors the opposite of theirs (and also that patriarchal oppression and white supremacy are real.) And since we insist we hire by merit, they go “Ahah! Code word!”

Which leads us to total insanity, of course.

Granting that merit is never absolute — for instance, having been close to people with the power to hire, I know they’ll pass up a fractious genius for an agreeable “smarter than average.” — and that luck and other unfathomables play a role — we have to, since our mental model is NOT Manichean — merit is still the base line and THE BEST model of hiring.

More than that, it is possibly the only one that has allowed the US to get where it got by the mid twentieth century.

I watched with concern as in the late nineties and early oughts hiring devolved to “who you know” in large measure, because nepotism is 99.9% of what keeps Latin countries poor and struggling.

When you hire for any reason other than merit (however weighted by other real-world conditions) you’re corroding the structure of society. You’re introducing weakness into key components, which will either cause it to collapse or shamble into oblivion.

A great part of the death that’s come upon publishing and journalism, and soon to hit teaching and other fields, is not only that tech allows them to be performed outside the system, but that the system has got UNBELIEVABLY bad at doing what it hsould be doing.  There are enough people in there hired for reasons other than competence.  As a result, the few remaining competent people are either hamstrung, or spend their entire lives compensating for the “work” of the dunces.  Sometimes an entire field is aiming in a completely insane direction, anymore.  (Publishing — fiction publishing, specifically — thinks their job is to educate and enlighten the public, not to sell books.)

This is the problem we’re facing.  And everytime I get to know someone in new (to me) fields, I find the rot is much deeper and worse than I thought.

We’re at this point hanging on by a very few competent individuals holding the world aloft.  And yes, Atlas MIGHT shrug at any minute. And if not, in the course of human nature, will die, and the person hired is most likely to be one of the incompetent “morally good” people of the left.

The left, notice, also knows that the system is collapsing. They just don’t know why and can’t understand the failure points.  And since their system of thinking ASSUMES the default of humanity is communist utopia, unless distorted by evil people, their way to deal with this is to fight what they’re sure is JUST our version of “meritocracy.”

To them merit and competence don’t even exist. It’s all a matter of propitiating the right ideas, and removing evil thinkers.

As it becomes more obvious they’re spinning into failure and oblivion, expect them to become even crazier in their attempts to demonize and deplatform us.

Fun times ahead.

Stay aware. Stay as safe as you can. And build under, build over, build around.  Get ready to take the weight, because it WILL fall.  And only you can prevent the misery that will ensue in the place of the communist paradise the left is sure is coming.

232 responses to “Just Deserts

  1. “work out all the details fo the progroms necessary to make it work”

    So should that be “programs” or “pogroms”? Either works in this context.

  2. Just deserts?

    Huge piles of unsweetened whipped cream?

  3. Lately there has been a baffling revolt on the left against “meritocracy.”

    I suspect there is some fine side stepping when someone near and dear is in need of a delicate surgery.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I’ve heard that the modern version of “Who You Know” came about for several reasons.

    1) As College GPAs got inflated (ie everybody got A’s & B’s), companies wanted to get the “quiet word” from somebody at the college about “how good of student was he/she really”.

    2) As Objective testing came under fire and less used, again companies wanted the “quiet word” from somebody trusted who knew the person to learn “how good he/she really is”.

    3) When employers started to be sued for “telling other employers why the employee was fired/let go/left”, no employer would “put into writing why the person is no longer for working for them”. To avoid hiring somebody else’s problem, employers would only hire people “quietly recommended by trusted people”.

    4) Of course, as Human Resources Department became “woke”, these problems became worse as HR would be on the “side” of a problem employee if he/she/it had the “proper victim points”.

    Oh, am I the only person who has a problem with being considered “Resource” (as in Human Resource)? 👿

    Oh, I worked in the Programming Department of a large retail company and instead of being “employees”, we were called “associates”. One of the company’s “bullet points” was “Retail is a people’s business and we value our people”. The joke going around the Company Headquarters was “we’re not people, we’re associates”. 😈

    • Or as we in the military used to joke rather bitterly, “They can’t fire us – slaves have to be sold!”

      • I used to tell Dan that in his early, 18 hour + a day jobs.

      • I first heard that at National Semiconductor in 1974. OTOH, while they didn’t often fire (for cause) there, they’d lay off a lot. For several years, that was a way to get rid of substandard employees without jumping through hoops. (‘Twas harder to do when there wasn’t a history of laying off at will, but my first two employers had that history.)

      • Or as a friend used to say, “It’s not just a job, it’s an indenture!”

        He was literally correct, too…

    • It is a long-established belief in the Job Search Community that a resume with a sticky-note saying, “Take a look at this candidate” gets a more careful review than any resume lacking such a note.

      It can change the hiring decision matrix from “is there a reason to consider this candidate?” to “is there a reason to disqualify this candidate?”

      And yes, “who you know” can also be an indicator as to how well you will fit into the office culture, whether there is somebody around who will “show you the ropes” and ensure you are getting up to speed.

      “Who you now” can be a very significant signal of the probability of you being a successful hire.

      • Jeff Gauch

        It’s what I call social capital, your network of friends and acquaintances that can be just as valuable as financial capital, if not more so.

        That’s the primary advantage the top-tier schools give you. It can be incredibly helpful for your Harvard roommate’s father to be the one to put that sticky note on your resume.

      • When I was laid off in Dot Com Bust V1.0, I had a hard time. Either the potential employers weren’t hiring, or they needed different skills, or we’d have to move. The house wasn’t ready for prime time. Would have taken a bath on any deal.

        On a hunch, I contacted the independent sales rep for the company that made the (non-HP) testers we used. Asked her if any of her clients needed a programmer. Turns out her husband was forming a consultancy with the tester manufacturer as the client. Knowing the right people, having the right skills, and a fair chunk of luck did the trick.

        • I’m going out on a limb here and speculating that not having been an a–hole toward that sales rep probably didn’t hurt.

          • Yep. I can be a downright decent person, most days. 🙂

            Didn’t quite get fired when I quoted Cheop’s Law in a meeting with the customers and the rest of the team when things weren’t going well. Mercifully, the clients (Bavarians, *not* Germans [as they’ll note frequently]) understood bleak humor.

    • Oh, am I the only person who has a problem with being considered “Resource” (as in Human Resource)?

      No.

      Plenty of people have argued, I think with some merit, the transition from a Personnel Department to a Human Resources Department as the point when companies really stopped seeing employees as people.

      • Don’t kid yourself. Companies have ALWAYS had problems seeing employees as ‘People’, meaning ‘People Like Us’. It waxes and wanes in both eras and individual companies. Right now it’s at a fairly high level, because seeing employees as people means seeing them as individuals with backgrounds and cultures, and that’s borderline illegal.

        • I’m thinking that neither the Pullman factory nor the West Virginia coal towns had “HR” departments.

          One of the themes in John Ford’s Oscar-winning How Green Was My Valley is that the employer/employee relationship as ownership became more distant from the workers, passing from the first owner who had worked alongside the employees to his son, who had been sent off to a “proper” school.

    • FlyingMike

      Yep – originally companies gave IQ tests to candidates, but that was made illegal. So they switched to a Bachelors degree, basically delegating the IQ-testing to the SAT and subsequent college coursework. But grade inflation made a BA the equivalent of a HS diploma, i.e. just show up long enough and you get one, so the fallback became “who you know” and the sticky-note method described below by RES.

    • Resource… like coal, oil, natural gas… hrmm.. yeah, getting burned. It fits.

    • Low trust / high trust.

  5. The initial confusion on the left arises from the fact that …

    The initial confusion on the left arises from the fact that they never learned rational thought. They see a “problem”, jump to a cause (yes, usually in the form of a person they can demonize) then build a causal chain to connect the two. Any suggestions of alternate causality are proof of sympathy with and possible probable benefit from the perceived injustice.

    Thus any demurral from their “Rent Control” agenda on the grounds that it will exacerbate the shortages and accelerate deterioration existing housing stock are presumed proof that “You just want bloated capitalist landlords to be able to financially rape their tenants then turn them out onto the streets!”

    Such arguments are not, in fact, arguments as Western Civilization once understood them: “a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.” They are accusations hurled as verbal assault intended to cow disputants into silence. They are verbal intimidation and often a prelude to physical intimidation.

    The initial confusion on the left arises from the fact that their minds are made up and they’ve no wish to be confused with facts.

    • Such arguments are not, in fact, arguments as Western Civilization once understood them: “a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.”

      I think it’s time for Argument Clinic:

    • > never learned rational thought

      Where would they have encountered such a concept, much less learned how to apply it?

      Their whole world devolves to “because I said so” and “it just happens.” Even cause and effect are blurry when every cause has to fit dogma, and every effect has to match the current Narrative.

      A whole lifetime alternating between the video pacifier and the public daycare system deliberately trying to turn their brains into mush, it’s a wonder they can figure out how to tie their own shoes.

      [thinks of untied laces trailing behind teeners] Let me get back to you on that.

  6. “Granting that merit is never absolute – . . .” Good point there. I recall as a hiring manager how difficult the very bright were to work with. In reality, I often was looking for people who would make my work life easier, that I could reliably count on, etc. And those are often NOT the brightest. So other qualities are important when you measure “merit”.

    • In publishing I only realized after I broke in that PARTICULARLY with short stories, whether you were accepted or rejected had often zero to do with quality and 90% to do with size and “does it fit the theme of this issue?” As in “I have a hole in this issue/anthology that I need to fill. This fits. It’s not brilliant, but it will work.”

      • If I am editor and have a story of my own in the anthology I may not want a story that is brilliant. One way to shine more brightly is to surround your light with dim bulbs.

        • That would appear to be the case with back room editors and staff at one mid size traditional publishing company of my acquaintance. Any author whom they consider competition to their efforts gets squeezed out, given less than fair treatment in edits and other necessary ancillary services, and when a book fails because of that, well of course it has to be the author’s fault. No new contracts for them.
          And before indie publishing became possible this sort of thing worked.

      • I used to write technical articles. Once they were rejected by every likely market, I’d send start at the beginning of the list and send them out again.

        I am firmly convinced that the sole criterion for each sale was “looks about right to fill a hole in this issue.”

        If I’d been smarter I would have contacted the editors and told them I could deliver an article on $SUBJECT of any specified size in a day or two… though getting hold of the right person and having them remember long enough to pay off might not have been all that easy.

        • eventually that’s what started happening. I got a reputation for being able to write a short in 2 h or less.I’d get a phone call “I need 10k words set in the fairy realm by this afternoon. I’ll pay 10c a word because we’re in a bind.”
          And I’d do it.
          Fortunately I’ll never be big enough to have them, because my biographers would go nuts over my choices of subject.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Memo to self: Write and publish biography of Sarah A. Hoyt. Do a good and even handed job of most of it. One chapter of the analysis should be absolutely lunatic.

            Not just Bob standard insanity. Really work at the crazy.

            Memo to self: Do a line of biographies. You know, or at least know of, a lot of people whose biographies might be useful to the general public.

            Memo to self: The number of non-occupation related non-fiction research projects you are proposing to fit into one life may be a wee bit excessive.

        • Well, yes. I was in magazine publishing for 15 years. This happened a lot, especially with unsolicited material. I was faced with the decision whether to buy a piece and sit on it until I had space to run it, or return it to the author with a personal letter indicating that it was a solid piece but I really didn’t have room to run it for the next several issues. Over time I began to rely on a small pool of the same people to provide content of a specified length and topic for the coming year’s issues. This is no reflection on the authors. It’s just that magazines are unforgiving in a lot of ways, and cover themes must be sold to advertisers in order for the magazine to survive.

        • This is where a good cover letter can be your friend.

          I am willing to deliver a technical article on $SUBJECT of any specified size (up to n words) within 48 hours. Enclosed are several sample articles demonstrating my ability.

          Setting a limit on the size indicates understanding of reasonable capacity and indicates professional experience, although it is unlikely any editor would have commissioned 150K words.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Intelligence correlates somewhat with neurological issues, and not every business is one where extreme intelligence and relevant skills are worth the costs of the neurological issues.

      Furthermore, an extreme intelligence that ranges widely over a number of subjects is useful for some problems. If you can verify that the answers in those subjects have some validity. You can’t really assume that because such an intelligence is sane, or passes for it, on a subject that it isn’t crazy on others.

    • Danny Hamilton

      Programmers, They always say they want the BEST.
      Why would the BEST want to work at your company? You are not even close to the Bleeding edge, closer to the trailing edge. The only reason is to get some experience before their NEXT job.

      They should want competent programmers that will stay with the job long term. The LAST people they will hire. Not flashee enough.

      Doesn’t really matter in todays world. The requirements are written so no one meets them. Then they can hire an H1B at a much lower cost.

      • Caution: this kicks up a lot of dust.

        What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? – Remembering D-Day

  7. most people know they’re not the best. And hire someone less bright than they …

    How’s that old saw go:
    “First-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people.” Leo Rosten

    Of related interest is this A. A. Milne observed:
    “The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”

    Finally, G. H. Hardy dismisses the mass of journalists and pundits:
    “There is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds.”

    • Ultimately, nearly all fields of work become work for second rate minds, because there are so goddamned few first rate ones. Which isn’t to say that the fields of criticism and exposition aren’t overloaded with mediocrity.

      Tangental thought; I remember over the years hearing a lot of bushwa about how the people we employ to teach out children should be our best and brightest. I always thought that was singularly foolish. The ‘best and brightest’ probably have something else they want to do, other than try to pound basic skills into the thick heads of public school students. They also tend (in my experience, anyway) to place toward the high end of the ‘high strung’ scale. So they may well not have the patience necessary to deal with, say, sixth graders without hitting one or more with a chair.

      • the people we employ to teach out children should be our best and brightest

        Aw, c’mon! Who wouldn’t want (spoiler alert) Nobel Laureate Sheldon Cooper potty-training their toddlers or even teaching their kindergarten basics. After all, everything you really need to know you will learn in kindergarten, right?

        That “best & brightest” argument comes from people who’ve no understanding of the concept of “skill sets.”

      • (Nods) ‘Tis true. Having the “best and brightest” teaching is a waste of their skillsets, most of the time. On the other hand, it would be nice if schools filtered for “functional human being” and “better than 3.0 college GPA. (Seriously, one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen was a sign on a wall saying that in order to obtain a degree in education you had to maintain a 2.4 GPA.)

        • The best filter I can think of is ‘did they get a degree in Education’? If they did, reject them.

          • Amsel, Matthew

            My wife is a teacher (and one of the good ones who hasn’t yet cottoned on to the fact that many of her colleagues appear to be worse than useless), and hearing about much of what she had to do for her Ed degree drives me nuts. 4 years, of which 2 could have been easily eliminated as being completely useless for her job. I swear, most of that is probably to allow idiots to maintain a high enough GPA to graduate.

        • I’d settle for a filter “knows to keep hands to self” — when you look at the education system (or show biz) they make Catholic priests look like choir boys!

      • And they tend to be poor teachers because that stuff is all obvious.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Chuckle Chuckle

          I never considered myself an expert in my field but I found it “interesting” trying to explain things in my field that I found obvious to somebody who didn’t find it obvious. 😉

          • Ditto. However every year of my career comments from those I did work for, whether programming or explaining how to do things, to a person the comment was “not only tells how to, but explains WHY, without being asked or prompted.” I always felt I was very, very, good, if not brilliant at what I did. I’ve had to rework “brilliant” code … can you hear me grumbling from there? (Okay, brilliant. NOW how do I change or fix it?)

            Don’t get me wrong, always providing the answer with a why, can irritate too; or so I’m told … Not clients, a few co-workers, who clients would not call if they had a choice, (and home) I have gotten “if I wanted to know why, I would have asked.” Had to learn to just answer the question, then (work) when they didn’t understand the answer, make them wait for the why, when they came back later (yes, it was irritating going against my nature; why do you ask? Home, I’m not stupid. But work …)

            • > I’ve had to rework “brilliant” code

              A nontrivial part of my programming/admin career was cleaning up behind the “brilliant” people who couldn’t be bothered with trivialities like, oh, bounds or error checking…

              When it was “object oriented programming” where the execution path went through multiple black boxes of undocumented, or third-party (or both) “objects” I tended to get cranky.

              I won’t claim that my own code was bug-free, but every single program that I was paid to write had a notebook with a description of what the program did, how it worked, the gazintas and gazoutas, sample data if applicable, and a CD with the source code and compiler so it could be modified and re-compiled if necessary.

              …because years down the road the next schmuck who had to fix or update the thing RIGHT NOW! might well be me…

              • Gah I hate “brilliant” code. One of my first assignments was fixing code to drive a simple graphics terminal (DEC VT125 in ReGIS, yes I am that old 🙂 ) to output a simple pixel pattern which was basically encoded in simple ASCII characters (other than the control ones). The “Brilliant” Coder who had designed it did some extremely clever (and I use clever as an epithet) things with bit manipulation in C to generate the string to feed to the terminal. Except he’d forgotten an edge case. After struggling with trying to correct the original code for about 2 weeks I finally came up with a fix by writing far simpler code to recognize and deal with the edge case and send things through the original in all other cases.
                I then put an ascii art skull and crossbones in the comments for the original code with the comment (roughly its over 35 years ago) “If you think you know what this code does you’re wrong, change this at your own peril. Abandon all hope o ye who enter here…”. The project leads comment on this was that my annotation was if anything too kind to the code in question (which had been written by the previous lead).
                Ultimately a little over a year later (when I was project lead) another even more complicated edge case showed up and I just had the code ripped out and replaced. The slight over head of a more complicated computational path mattered not a whit in feeding a 9600 baud terminal (or even a 115.2K one ) and I wasn’t up for wasting 2+ more developer weeks for an immeasurable increase in performance.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  LOL 😆

                  Back when I was a COBOL Batch Programmer, the “word” was that COBOL was “self-documenting”.

                  However some “brilliant” programmers seemed to be determined to prove that “word” wrong.

                  I was given the result of one of those programmers to “learn” data-base calls that I’d need for an assigned program.

                  It was full of “Perform Until…” logic and at first glance I “knew” that it wouldn’t work but of course I knew it was a production program.

                  Fortunately, it wasn’t my job to maintain it and I was able to understand the data-base calls.

                  Oh, my resulting program would IMO have been much easier for the “Next Guy” to maintain. 😀

                  • My first major rewrite was against COBOL code that was the backbone of the division I worked for. Emergency Y2K fixes, in early 1990. The single year for 10 years and every 10 year for 100 years out, were due, 3 months before I was hired. It was interesting because some of the information that was being fed was over 100 years old already; yes, the date was a two year format, why would you presume otherwise. COBOL code was at least 30 years old then. I learned to loath COBOL. System was early in the process of being replaced when the division was sold and it became someone else’s headache.

                    Next headache I ran into was managing index files (mostly text) on limited storage. There were two complaints ultimately. One was over time it was getting corrupted, the other was index files size when the file it was indexing was sorted (actually this wasn’t broken, just a problem.) No documentation. The original coder had pulled the original code down from some code board and shoehorned into the program. By the time I’d traced through and fixed the problems, I’d written 2 pages full of comments explaining exactly the index file layout, how the buffers worked, why, what the theory of the indexes followed, and what work around I used on the index files size and why. Because, yes, I was going to be the next one to have to go in and fix it, the next time someone found a problem. As it turns out I wasn’t because the company went bankrupt, and got rifted as pieces got sold off. Did get called by the person behind me. Got thanked for the notes on the data file code, but the also asked about code I hadn’t gotten into … my answer was “have fun!” FWIW, this was all C code.

                    I guarantee most programmers have stories like this. I will agree. My code wasn’t always error free and users could and did surprise me. There were times I looked at my old code and commented … “what the hell was I thinking?” But darn it I did think about what I was doing, who might be coding behind me. Clever is not good coding if it isn’t clear, easy to read, and easy to change. Because it will need to be changed.

                    I’ve been told my coding is very distinctive, but haven’t heard of anyone taking my name in vain regarding it. Even if a person doesn’t agree with how I did something, in the case I’m thinking about, we agreed to disagree, and didn’t have anything to do with the code itself.

        • Amsel, Matthew

          Yep. Geniuses make the *worst* teachers for basic stuff.

          • Yep – I am certain that my father was very close to a genius, but mostly a disaster as a teacher. My next younger brother and I were scarred almost for life by his attempt to teach us how to tell time on an analog clock about the time that I was in kindergarten. We knew, just knew (from bitter experience) that Dad would blow his stack when we flubbed the answer out of nervous panic for the third or fourth time.

            On the other hand, he gave dynamite nature walks, and his appreciation and knowledge of desert flora and fauna was incredible.

            • Something like Starfall or Education are both AWESOME for the basic things– both dot coms will play the “A, ah, Alligator, B, buh, Ball” song for HOURS on end and never get bored or want to tear their hair out.

  8. Most of us have run into people much better qualified for xyz position than the person currently occupying it.

    In many instances those “better qualified” people are not, in fact, better qualified. Being a skilled engineer, for example, does not mean you will be an effective manager of skilled engineers. There are skills to managing that people who’ve never managed typically fail to grasp, much as those who are tone-deaf fail to grasp when somebody is singing in-key.

    Sometimes “better qualified” means sucking up to a superior or being the CEO’s nephew — and if that means being able to tell the boss what the boss needs to, but doesn’t want to, hear … that’s also a form of being “better” qualified.

    TL:DR version: sometimes the qualities that make a person successful in xyz position are not visible to the outside observer.

    • Stephen J.

      “TL:DR version: sometimes the qualities that make a person successful in xyz position are not visible to the outside observer.”

      This was very much how my dad described a long-term managerial career: that his job was to be neither a great engineer, nor a great marketer, nor a great number-cruncher, but to understand the basics of all of them well enough to translate one department’s requirements and concerns so another could understand it.

    • There is also the crucial difference between ‘best qualified’ and ‘best qualified of those available and interested’.

    • The Peter Principle is difficult to escape.

      As a (now-retired) Guardsman, I had the luxury of being able to choose not to be considered for promotion once I reached what I considered to be my highest level of competence. I knew that, though I might have been able adequately to perform the duties of first sergeant, I would have been extremely unhappy in that position.

      And when Top’s unhappy, ain’t nobody happy.

    • > Being a skilled engineer, for example, does not mean you will be an effective manager of skilled engineers.

      Yet skilled managers are effective managers of other skilled managers… at least so they claim. Which shows the superiority of the managing class over the laboring class.

      Me, I have doubts…

  9. Lately there has been a baffling revolt on the left against “meritocracy.”

    It’s not baffling at all. They are either promoting people without merit to make a correct nose count or, at this point they are quite often people promoted without merit.

    Thus, they are the Rodion Raskolnikov of incompetence, fleeing where no Porfiry Petrovich of competence pursues.

  10. I recently finished a fascinating book on the Black Death (titled “The Great Mortality”) It was also pretty grim, obviously–but I noted something the author hit on again, and again, and then brought it up specifically in his afterword: In the face of an apocalyptic event (so apocalyptic they use it as a model to get some idea of what a global thermonuclear disaster would do)…civilization did. Not. Crumble. It certainly got strained in some spots, and definitely frayed in others, and on individual scales you had an awful lot of people being horrible…but you also had people who stepped into the breach and made sure that civilization kept stumbling on. Often at the cost of their own lives as they fell to the plague. I never thought one could view your basic legal clerk who writes out wills as especially heroic–but these ones were. They ensured that everything DIDN’T fall into chaos by the simple act of smoothing the transfer of property from the dead to the living. And many died doing it. And it seems like such a little thing, to keep civilization going, but it was, as it happened, a fairly important thing–if only because people realized “We can keep going.” And then there were all the others who stood up to pick up the pieces and rebuild, and strengthen where things had frayed. (There are still some cities in Italy that have never again reached their pre-plague populations. That’s…boggling.)

    And this was people in the freaking Middle Ages. Feudal societies. And we all know that the plague was the death knell of serfdom, etc because of the drop in population. But…these were people that would seem alien to us rabid individual liberty types in a lot of ways. And yet…not. They kept things moving on, often without waiting for anyone in authority to tell them what to do–and even sometimes in outright defiance of authority.

    If they could do it, in the face of something truly implacable and that could not be fought (at the time), so can we. 🙂

    • Well, yes and no…

      The Plagues weren’t respecters of persons. Everyone had a chance to get it, and everyone could die.

      That is very much not the case with our current “plague”. If you do things that display competence, or that instill competence in others then they want you gone. And they will replace you with someone incompetent.

      We see a smaller version of that in Venezuela right now. The country’s oil infrastructure has decayed to the point where – even if Maduro were to be removed from office today – it would take at least a decade for the country to get its oil production back up and running.

      • Without importing foreign oil industry workers, they might not be able to get production restarted to previous levels. The “mañana” culture far, far predates Maduro, Chavez, or even Simon Bolivar.

    • Side note: the plague was the death knell of serfdom in Western Europe. Eastern Europe, not so much. The “why’s” of that are… interesting.

    • > civilization did. Not. Crumble.

      Barbara Tuchman pointed that out in “A Distant Mirror.” She also noted that while civilization survived the Black Death and its attendant wars and famines what emerged from the other end wasn’t the *same* civilization it started with.

      Specifically, the labor shortage after the plagues led to the end of serfdom, which eventually dominoed into massive, apparently permanent changes in the social order, which have propagated worldwide.

  11. The left, notice, also knows that the system is collapsing. They just don’t know why and can’t understand the failure points.

    Typically they assume — as you’ve pointed out — the reason is BAD people. Worse, they’ve no understanding of how to test a proposition, so anybody proposing alternate reasons is a) evil b) undermining their authority c) evil d) obviously in favor of the recognized injustice and e) all of the above.

    We are currently able to observe the process in action as NY City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, having concluded the only conceivable explanation for the failure of kids from “minority” sub-cultures riven by single-parent households, chaotic living conditions and value systems which derogate academic achievement to do as well academically as kids from intact families that put a priority on academic achievement is because the extremely liberal NY City teachers and principals inhabit a culture of “white supremacy” — defined by Carranza’s consultants as comprising all those components which emphasize academic achievement.

    Racial division is Richard Carranza’s only agenda
    [SNIP]
    The program, first reported by The Post, assumes that students in majority-minority schools struggle because the system’s white-majority teachers and staff, consciously or otherwise, bring racist attitudes to work with them — and that this, rather than bad teaching, administrative inertia and non-classroom-related social issues, is the primary cause of classroom underperformance.
    [SNIP]
    “Racism­ [is] any act that even unwittingly tolerates, accepts or reinforces racially unequal opportunities or outcomes for children,” writes Glenn Singleton, another DOE consultant, paid $750,000 for his insights.

    This is nonsense. Unequal outcomes have many causes, ranging from social dislocation and inequitable resource distribution to uneven student ability and effort — and to differences in teaching competence. Without proper context, disparate outcomes generally tell us little.

    But one outcome dramatically undercuts Carranza’s sophistry: The stunning success of most of the city’s charter schools.

    Teacher ethnicity is essentially identical in charter and district schools — 42% minority in charters versus 38% in traditional public schools. It’s all but certain that, at some point, a black or Hispanic charter school child will have a white teacher, since charter kids are virtually all black or Hispanic. So whatever harm is done by implicit prejudices should be magnified in charter schools — yet charters for the most part prosper, while most district schools don’t.
    [SNIP]
    It’s a risky bet. Carranza says that he’s combating a “white-supremacy culture,” characterized by such concepts as “individualism,” “objectivity” and “worship of the written word.” It’s hard to imagine any educator disparaging the written word, but Carranza has crossed that Rubicon.
    [END EXCERPT]

    Charter schools, by challenging the assumptions of the DOE, are contributing to racism and must be eliminated. Their inability to understand causal relationships and their proclivity for circular reasoning renders any attempt to provide alternative causes and solutions a threat.

    • As with much of the Left’s power nodes, the difference between a Teachers’ Union and a criminal conspiracy to defraud the public is not visible to the discerning eye.

      Stir in a few Carranzas and you have an ongoing train wreck.

      • The difference between a Teachers’ Union and a criminal conspiracy is easy to discern: criminal conspiracies are much less likely to butcher their cows while they can still milk them.

        • I must disagree. Drug gangs routinely cut their product with stuff likely to kill their customers even faster.

          Many criminals are dumb.

          • No, they are simply confident in an infinite supply of new clients.
            Much the same attitude that one might see in certain large city restaurants. Don’t like our food or our service? Tough, we have a waiting line to get in so we don’t need you.

  12. And yet when someone inveighs against the accredited elite who have done naught but make a mess, the person that says that perhaps someone not of the annointed should go is akin to a buffoon storming the cockpit of an airliner or taking the place of a master surgeon

    • As to the aircraft analogy–“We left New York an hour ago. Our destination was Nashville. We have been flying over water for two hours.
      I may not have a pilot’s license, but at least I can read a stupid map!”

      • “But the nav system said to maintain a bearing of 90 degrees!”

        > at least I can read a stupid map!”

        Several times I have observed someone intently studying a map… while holding it upside down.

        It makes my brain hurt to try to figure out what they’re doing. It would be easy to blame it on ignorance and being too lazy to figure to read the words, but I’ve come to wonder if something in their brain is wired backward.

        My Dad, and my grandmother… if you were in the car, and pointed out the window at something, and said “Look at that!”, they’d stare at your finger. Every. Single. Time. “No, out there! Over there. No, you missed it…” And they’d maybe look at my face while I was talking, but they’d never look out the window where I was pointing.

        • “Several times I have observed someone intently studying a map… while holding it upside down.”

          Extreme case to be sure. But …

          I’ve watched two very experienced wilderness land navigators survey a map trying to figure out what unmarked but very visible trail was Y-ing off the main trail; “verifying” where the group was on the PCT. Problem was the map didn’t show a trail veering off where they each “thought” the group was. Was an interesting conversation. How was it solved? By asking the youth exactly what the two adults keep harping to them during map and compass training. “When arguing with the map, the map is correct. Swallow ‘what you know’, do the work and check your assumptions.” (Yes assumptions because you will discover you were the ass.) Their problem. They didn’t believe the group was as far along on the PCT as they were. FWIW, made the youth pull out their map (they were being lazy) and work the location, then take their results to the adults in question … There is a tag for what the adults were doing, but I don’t remember it. Yes, the adults admitted what they had done. Learning lesson for the youth. Also the youth learned something from me. I know I can’t “guess” based on what I think a trail is doing and the distance traveled. Thus, when the “map doesn’t make sense”, I KNOW I’m wrong. Yes, I was lazy and made the youth work the map instead …

          FWIW, no it was not the trail the group needed to take off the PCT, but the trail needed was just up around the next bend … waay closer than initial perception.

        • I’ve turned maps to read them more accurately. After all, North=Up is a convention, and it’s easier to read when you’ve aligned the map to the view before you.

        • I sometimes turn the map upside down (or just at an odd angle) so I can orient my mental image (or what I’m physically facing) to what is there. Doesn’t sound like what you’re describing, though.

          *********

          My husband has a terrible habit of saying “look there” and pointing in a way that makes sense from where he’s sitting, but is in the complete opposite direction from my perspective. “Look there!” *gestures with right hand* *I look right* “I pointed left!”

          The kids take the cake, though, you will say “put this in the garbage” and point, inches from their face. “WHERE?!?”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Considering that I know a person who when told “you may set the table” would answer “yes, I have permission to set the table”, I wonder if that “misunderstanding” is actually real. 👿

          • I was taught in .mil land navigation to orient the map to the terrain. Which if moving South would make the map “upside-down “.

            When mission tactical low level flight routes we always kept the map oriented track up

            I only used a North up orientation routinely in command posts and watch centers.

          • My wife will swing her arm in a 90-degree arc while saying “Look at that!” Generally, there’s nothing particularly notable where she’s pointing. Often, what she’s trying to get me to look at isn’t even within the sweep of where she’s pointing.

            And after 35 years of marriage she’ll still come up with “turn at the green house”, even though I feel she should have long since learned I I can’t *see* the “green” house.

            Something I have often encountered is someone who will say something like “let’s go [somewhere]”, while pointing maybe 120 degrees from the direction the thing they’re talking about is.

  13. Left and Conservative also have different meanings for “merit”. For conservatives, merit is having proved ability and / or competence, and willingness to work towards a useful goal. For the Left, merit apparently means “deserves to be given”. Or that a person or creature should be given a position or benefit because some force external to them has (of course, improperly) denied them access to that position or befefit.
    “But it was her turn”, “we must have extra benefits now because our ancestors were oppressed”, etc.
    This concept can only work where all failures are the result of “counter-revolutionary wreckers” and “capitalist exploiters”, and never the fault of the incompetent progressives. And it can only work as long as Atlas does not shrug.
    John

  14. How do you measure merit, anyway? When our academic institutions are capable of turning out examples of flaming idiocy such as doing away with agriculture or “feminist quantum mechanics” that has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with physics (to name just a couple), one begins to wonder whether they would recognize “competence” if it were doing a waltz down the street in broad daylight wearing a bikini.

  15. As I’ve said before, I subscribe to Heinlein’s definition of morality. Now AOC for instance, can claim to do so, as she’s trying to save the human species (in her mind). Her problem is that what she thinks are existential threats to our survival aren’t proven in any way, shape or form, and are “merely” political plays for wealth and power.

  16. Thoughts which you’ve caused to pass through my head (great, now I’ve got to poop-scoop my brain!):

    Nude Green Heel: ah, a subtype of Achilles, except with mold and lichens. All is explained.

    Monarchies also fail to achieve such total degeneration because when they become too dysfunctional, someone is likely to assassinate and replace them. This is hard to do with your modern boss, and frowned upon when it’s your employees.

    Anti-meritocracy at work: “I have no merit; therefore if I usurp =your= merit, I win.”
    https://www.breitbart.com/sports/2019/06/04/ncaa-champion-hurdler-says-i-have-no-benefit-being-trans/

  17. “To them merit and competence don’t even exist. It’s all a matter of propitiating the right ideas, and removing evil thinkers.”-SAH.

    THIS.

    Thus the constant effort to purge :”wrongthink”, which while simply trying to drive people out of jobs and society for now, will inevitably lead to, if it continues, to re-education/concentration camps and mass graves. Such results are simply the consequence of the inherent nature of socialism/Marxism.

  18. This is because in the real world, the ability to get a position/job/sale has a component of luck. It’s not as high as most people think.

    Isn’t it remarkable how the more I practice the luckier I get. (Attributed to various sports stars after winning events due to a “lucky” score.)

    • Also Kevin J Anderson, on his success.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Kevin Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta wrote the Young Jedi Knights books. Those were basically my entry point into Star Wars books. I found Aaron Allston through Star Wars, and through him Baen. From Baen I came here, and to the MGC. Which is responsible for both pushing my life in a better direction, and for my reading Swain’s Techniques.

        Also through Baen (thanks to Weber and Spoor), Doc Smith. Who had a very strong influence on me.

        • I rather miss the YJK books, and the Heirs to the Empire series, and the related books. I rather liked Jaina Solo, (safe for work picture, drawn by a pro artist) and am sad that they did not go and use the novels for source material.

          • am sad that they did not go and use the novels for source material.

            The problem with that is for so many fans “keep the Expanded Universe” means “give us the Thrawn Trilogy.” Unfortunately, by the time movies taking place after the original trilogy were even under consideration the principle actors were too old to do the rolls as set in Heirs to the Empire et seq. The only way it could have been done was as animated movies. And while Clone Wars seemed to do okay in an animated format I can see why some might have been hesitant to make that big a change to the movies (I mean, they were hesitant about using a plot different from A New Hope, so, yeah, I can see a major change of format being a bridge too far).

            • OTOH, in the printing money department-
              make CGI movies of ALL of the Expanded Universe.

              Heck, CALL it “Star Wars: Expanded Universe.”

              Give the book authors a good deal on it, too, and FARM that dang fanboy money!

              • Gosh, you need voice actors, find one of those voice actor recruitment companies and offer them a deal where they’ll recruit fans as voice actors for a flat payment and the voice company will only charge 50% of their normal rate, as long as they keep using the company.

              • FARM that dang fanboy money!

                Compare book sales to ticket sales for movies.

                Even a CGI movie is expensive to produce. You’ve got to go way beyond the audience that bought the books in order to make money at it. Now maybe the Thrawn Trilogy in CGI would do that or maybe it would’t. Personally, I think it would have…but I say that as someone who was a fan of the books. But someone not already a fan of the books might well take quite a different view.

                The original trilogy, even the prequels–all in live action–made fistfuls of money ( https://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=starwars.htm ). I could certainly see that someone might be very leery of changing the format. And considering that, adjusting for ticket price inflation (thus representing butts in seats) TFA was second only to the original Star Wars, can you really say they were wrong?

                • Was looking less at movie theater sales (although I think they’d do well) than the long tail.
                  They made money off of the Clone Wars series six ways from Sunday, roll with it.

                • Yet… go to your favorite torrent or YouTube and watch “Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning.”

                  You’re looking at circa-2000 technology, done as a hobby/fan project. The technology is so out of date they might as well have done it with crayons and floppy disks. Yet it can hold its own with the Star Wars and B5 ouvres even though it’s technically a parody film.

                  The reflect on what a real budget could do with modern software and equipment… and reflect further on how well things worked when it was just Samuli and his friends, and how badly they flopped later with “Iron Sky”, with real management, investors, and oversight… “death by committee” isn’t just a joke.

          • Amsel, Matthew

            I want Mara Jade to be Rey’s mother. Much will be forgiven if they bring that particular character back.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I quit Star Wars movies because of the Revenge of the Sith novel.

            I was done with the Expanded Universe by the time of the Disney movies, because of Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin.

            My ideal continuity is:
            1. Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin have an older brother, Ben, who absolutely did not kill all of the other students.
            2. Luke and Mara did not kill Thrawn’s clone when escaping his security precautions.
            3. Revan and Bastila had a true Happily Ever After.
            4. Vong didn’t kill Chewie. Han and Leia never divorced. X-Wing books happened. Sora gets trained by Obi-Wan after Kingdom Hearts III.

            • I never forgave R.A. Salvatore for how he killed Chewie, and that was while I was waiting for my turn at the book (back then, my friend bought the books, I’d read them after her, and she was outraged. “You don’t do that to beloved characters. You don’t give them pointless, casual, meaningless deaths.”

              • You don’t do that to beloved characters. You don’t give them pointless, casual, meaningless deaths.

                Somebody please send that memo to Disney and J.J. Abrams.

                I was going to include George R. R. Martin but realized that nobody is foolish enough to love his characters, knowing how casually he discards them.

              • One of the things in the Expanded Universe that particularly annoyed me.

                “Once you go down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”

                Then in the Expanded Universe we practically get a revolving door, with even a “canon” story where Luke went to the Dark Side for a while.

                But then, the prequels, particularly Revenge of the Sith, pretty much did it for me. I’d read the occasional EU book, even watch at least a couple of the new movies, but I wasn’t invested in it any more. They had built this whole “Redemption” thing for Vader in Return of the Jedi then we find out in Revenge of the Sith that as far as I’m concerned he’s utterly and completely irredeemable.

                After that I had only one real “goal”–to follow through the stories that tell Luke and Mara Jade’s tale, making sure to stop before her death. And I wasn’t particularly motivated even for that. Indeed, I don’t think I have any of the books for that on hand any more. And I’m not sure I want to bother at this point.

                Lucas, and now Disney, has pretty much spoiled it for me.

                • But Vader (in the ‘original’ trilogy) redeemed himself in the end; so there was at least canon possibility of redemption even after turning to the Dark Side, at least I think so. Though I agree that if you do decide to include the ‘prequels’ Anakim/Vader was flat out irredeemable.

                  Mind, I’m not surprised at plot holes because of how Lucas’ story had to be cleaned up to even be somewhat coherent (I mean, Jedi families clearly existed but somehow, no love allowed? Love is LIFE, so it made no sense for that to be forbidden for Jedi), but for us at the time, starved for books, they were greatly entertaining. That said though, I’d probably do a lot of picking and choosing now. I think I have The Courtship of Princess Leia somewhere, either in one of the boxes or unpacked, in hardcover. I remember that being a rather entertaining read.

                  One of the things I rather liked about that era of books were the target-young-but not that young readers – 10-13 years of age, with the lovely internal illustrations, not just for Star Wars Young Jedi Knights, but also the Star Trek Next Generation Starfleet Academy stories.

  19. Granting that merit is never absolute — for instance, having been close to people with the power to hire, I know they’ll pass up a fractious genius for an agreeable “smarter than average.”

    Neil Gaiman, in the commencement address he gave said that you get work however you get work but that you keep getting work by three things: your work is good, it’s on time, and they like you. And you don’t need to have all three. Two out of three is fine. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it’s good and they like you. And people will forgive your unpleasantness if the work is good and it’s on time. And the work doesn’t have to be that good if it’s on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

    What’s relevant about that to what I quoted is that “merit” includes far more than just the technical aspects of whatever the job is. Being able to “fit in” (for sufficient values of “fit in”) work with others, not get distracted by interesting side avenues (raises hand), and whether or not you’re unpleasant to work with. All, not specific to a particular task but adding up to quite a bit of importance on how the larger tasks of which ones particular job is a part get done.

    • And the work doesn’t have to be that good if it’s on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

      Hence my efforts to get writing at a pace to release every 6-8 weeks once I do and be nice to people online.

      I won’t be a millionaire nor will I claim the quality of writing doesn’t matter, but I think I have more control over those two items.

    • the work doesn’t have to be that good if it’s on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

      That’s just discrimination against people who are chronologically challenged and highly sensitive to micro-aggressions. People should be more appreciative of having their micro-aggressions pointed out so they can correct themselves.

  20. “Lately there has been a baffling revolt on the left against “meritocracy.””

    This is because they’re trying to do to STEM education and STEM companies what they’ve already done to the Humanities and publishing/journalism. They see the power of mass surveillance, and all the blood drains out of their heads to fill up their woody.

    The problem they have is that the people who actually do all the work in STEM companies are smart. The smartest people there are, really. The third-sigma north of Normalville.

    Obviously what they do is fire all the smart people and hire Leftist True Believers. That’s what is going on at Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Farcebook and etc. right now. All over the big tech companies.

    Leftists have two problems as a result. The first is that there aren’t very many people in the world who can really understand all the fancy shit that makes Google etc. run. Maybe a few hundred, couple thousand at the outside. Once those people leave, no one is left who can understand how it works. They’re like a baboon troupe trying to run a steamship. They can’t even learn to run it, they aren’t smart enough.

    The second problem they have is they are pissing people off who are so much smarter than they are, it isn’t even close. Some are easy to spot, like James Damore. Aspy, code weenie, easy target. But others are extremely intelligent, good at code AND good at socialization too. Those ones are wolves wearing sheep suits. They mix in with the Leftie flock and wait for an opportune moment to get some payback. When you see tech stocks take a massive dump on the the exchanges, that’s what nerd payback looks like.

    So I say, this is a self-limiting phenomenon. Leftists are basically sand in the gears of commerce. You get enough of them, and the gears stop turning. Company folds, a new company with no sand in its transmission takes over. No muss, no fuss.

    • Jeff Gauch

      The problem is that the Progressives have been using their political dominance for the last 80 years to throw up roadblocks to the new companies that would take over. The canonical example I use is the employer mandate for Obamacare. If every company over 50 employees has to offer healthcare or pay a fine, the marginal cost of my 51 employee isn’t just whatever it costs to attract and retain that employee, it’s all that plus a healthcare system for 51 employees (or a massive fine). There’s no way that any one employee can produce enough wealth to justify that kind of cost. Far better to sell out to Facegoozon and start over with a new company and idea.

      Thus there are no little guys able to take over for the big guy when its gears seize up, so people will just put up with the bureausclerosis of Facegoozon because they have no other choice.

      I hear a lot of conservatives, and even some libertarians, say that the government should exercise anti-trust powers against the tech giants. That’s not what we need. What we need is to get the roadblocks out of the way of the small innovative companies so they can challenge the giants. Of course, those roadblocks are exactly why the giants make the political contributions that they do. Big Business has no greater friend than Big Government.

      • “…the government should exercise anti-trust powers against the tech giants. That’s not what we need.”

        That’s the fox taking charge of the hen house. The anti-trust thing is a perfect example of apparatchiks looking busy to take attention from something else.

        • I disagree. Trust busting, including taking away the “we’re just like the phone company” exemption is the one useful thing the feds can do.

          More regulations, though, is not.

          • scott2harrison

            I disagree. Don’t take away the exemption, enforce the rules that permit the exemption instead. Including, bye the way, on the financial services companies. No more “If you sell guns you cannot use our card services.”.

          • **Trust busting, including taking away the “we’re just like the phone company” exemption is the one useful thing the feds can do.**

            Exactly. Feds have done exactly that. Remember “Ma Bell”?

            If smart the companies dominating the space WANT “competition.” If only small percentage of the market.

            Ran into this with Percon, and Spectra Physics in Eugene. Full disclosure, worked for the former. Percon made hand barcode scanners like you see in store check out lines, a couple small handheld inventory computers that you see store personnel on the floor checking prices. Spectra Physics made flat bed barcode scanners you see at check outs (manned or not). Both were a very small percentage of sales in the US, with even a smaller percentage internationally. Both used patents (for a small fee) from the “big boys”, Intermec, Symbol, and even Datalogic. UNTIL PSC, Inc., bought Spectra Physics, then Percon. Then the big boys got nasty. Datalogic now owns the handheld Percon division. Do not know if they also ended up with the flatbed Specra Physics division. PSC was driven into bankruptcy within 2 years of acquiring Percon.

      • Roger Ritter

        Jerry Pournelle had a partial solution for the “51st employee cost enough to kill the company” problem – multiply all of the limits by 10. So now instead of 50 employees being the max, 500 is the max. That helps companies grow until they can afford the extra regulatory cost. It’s not a complete solution, but it’s at least clear and easy to implement.

        • It does shift things– and the places that already have them will likely keep the benies, anyways….

          • It is more realistic in recognizing the necessary economies of scale to cover the cost of hiring administrative staff to manage such benefits.

        • Jeff Gauch

          That would just make the situation worse. Now the marginal cost of your 501st employee is a healthcare plan for 501 employees. If the 51st employee wasn’t going to earn enough to warrant the expense there’s no way the 501st can clear that gap. The only thing it would do it slow down the serial entrepreneur’s idea-build-sell cycle.

          The one upside is that since most companies in America are well under 500 employees it would effectively repeal the requirements. But I’d rather have a straight-up repeal. If it’s not important enough to make Local Man and Sons do it then there’s no reason to make MegaCorp do it.

    • Commercial entities go through a Darwinian process of competition for the consumer’s money, although if they can put up barriers to competitor’s entry into the market, they can survive for some time. Educational and political entities are harder to eliminate through bankruptcy..

      • Much harder. But, eventually, it all does come tumbling down. Ask the Russians. Chinese are next, that place is built on sand.

      • Educational and political entities are harder to eliminate through bankruptcy.

        Hence the modest proposal that colleges and universities fund college loans for their attendees through their endowments.

    • Your metaphor of the baboon troupe reminded me of an observation that I think merits inclusion here:

      The Left tends to believe that if you placed a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters, and left them for long enough, you would get the complete works of Shakespeare. That passes for wisdom among the Woke.

      In one of his mysteries, Michael Bowen has a minor character observe (“in the tone of voice that engineers use when talking to interior decorators”) “If you put a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters, in fifteen minutes they would have run out of ribbon, and in sixteen you’d have a thousand typewriters ready for the scrap heap.”

      The Left believes a great deal too much in random chance. They think that enough monkeys can replace genius.

      • “The Left believes a great deal too much in random chance. They think that enough monkeys can replace genius.”

        That’s true. But then, the Lefties believe a lot of stupid crap that’s not true. Which is why everything they touch turns to shit so fast.

        And they have these sudden enthusiasms, like your opinion about men playing women’s sports is suddenly the litmus test for Woke(tm). Or like how Trump is SATANNNNNN!!!! and must Dieeeeee!!! immediately if not sooner!

        I’d say they were a clown show, except they’ve killed over 100 million human being in the last 100 years or so.

        • So, they’re a Pennywise-the-Clown show.

        • Ori Pomerantz

          I’d say they were a clown show, except they’ve killed over 100 million human being in the last 100 years or so.

          Not our leftists. With a few exceptions (Eric Flint, for example), our leftists are too delusional and incompetent to do that kind of damage. They wouldn’t last a day in the Red Army.

      • R. A. Laverty wrote “Been a Long Time” about such an experiment. The monkey who writes Hamlet follows up with his improved version.

        The purpose of the experiment is to teach the monitor patience.

        Bob Newhart also had a good take:

      • > (“in the tone of voice that engineers use when talking to interior decorators”)

        I once bought a stack if 4×8 sheets of white melamine board. One Saturday I went in and screwed them to the walls, paneling the entire data center in whiteboard.

        It took almost twenty feet to map out the incredible mess of their WAN, with its bridges, protocol convertors, Token Ring and Ethernet segments, what was TCP/IP and what was Novell, the fractional T1s and the “here be dragons” mystery chatter from random dialup internet connections… 1995 was a *lot* more complicated than 2019.

        > The Left believes a great deal too much in random chance.

        Absolutely. Their whole lives are subject to the random whims of others. In their lives things mostly “just happen” for no particular reason.

        • Timothy E. Harris

          That kind of complexity is what happens when you have to keep supporting legacy devices and progressively newer devices together. The system just grows as people patch the stuff together – and its complexity is a unique one since no two workplaces had the the same technological pathway.

          In some ways, that’s also how cultures grow. No two societies started in the same place nor shared the same pattern of accretion and modification but all of them encountered change and developed ways to adjust to it. It’s why some parts of any particular foreign culture can look familiar while other parts are baffling.

          And a vast majority of individuals in all of them just keep acting as if the people in other countries must think about issues the same way they do,

      • And if you gave a thousand engineers a thousand typewriters, they’d turn them into tools and weapons and escape your dark, satanic mills…

    • I will disagree on one thing: the size of the pool of people capable of understanding the complex underlying algorithms and programs.

      It is closer to the order of 50,000 than the order of 500 you claim. The problem is there are many other problems spaces than just search or optimization of load or ads. We lost a theorist to Google to manage an ad portfolio and optimize it. So, one can conclude the same skill sets needed to optimize financial asset hedging are the ones needed to optimize internet ads.

      The question becomes compensation and work environment. When my former colleague was here he told me that he had gone from having a theory to a working model we could use to hedge within six weeks. Now it was taking six months plus just to get it through audit, by which point its usefulness had been superseded.

      So, there are many more people who can do this, but there are far more places they are needed than people realize.

      In fact, I think the big social media companies are one of the most useless, to society, places for them to be. However, we are driving them out of the useful by chaining them down.

      • “I will disagree on one thing: the size of the pool of people capable of understanding the complex underlying algorithms and programs.”

        Your estimate is probably more correct than mine, 500 is a number I pulled out of my ass because it was small.

        However the point still stands: on a planet with 6 billion people, 50,000 is a pretty small number. A very restricted talent pool with EVERYBODY vying for their time, the Lefty Asshole Squadron isn’t going to be able to keep the talent they need.

    • I’ve thought for forty years that Atlas won’t Shrug…he’ll Drop-Kick.

      And the new society might take a leaf out of feudal Japan. Specifically, the part about samurai being able to cut down insolent peasants. Some Leftist gives you lip, you give him a bullet.

      Come to think of it, that sounds tempting….. 🙂

      • Not that enthused, considering that I’ve run into people who think I’m a leftist because I ask “what do you mean by that” instead of pointing and shrieking when I hear the words “social justice.”

        On the other hand, if I’m allowed to shoot back I can live with it.

      • Some Leftist gives you lip, you give him a bullet.

        It is essential you provide for proper disposal of the remains, especially of those likely to pose a biological hazard in short order.

        I used to engage in a whatchamacallit, a think-puzzle, of suggesting every adult American be permitted one homicide without consequence. Non-transferable, non-renewable. If nothing else, the knowledge you could be shot simply for pissing somebody off would encourage better manners and traffic behaviour. There would be heavy messaging to not use it prematurely, as you never know when you’ll meet a bigger, more deserving target … but then you’d also never know when you’d cross the path of somebody who’s been given six months to live and knows it is a privilege he cannot take with him.

        Record-keeping became the sticking point, as I lost any confidence in the government’s capacity for maintaining accurate records of who still had a shot due them.

        • > records

          No problem. You just put it on the blockchain!

          “It’s a dessert topping *and* a floor wax!”

    • Obviously what they do is fire all the smart people and hire Leftist True Believers.

      Where d’ya think your competition/replacement will draw upon for its employees? Gee, what harm could a pool of really smart, really motivated workers with a grudge against you do? Especially if they’ve a good grasp of how your company works.

      • I can only imagine all the talent that Google has shed since the Daymore thing. How many guys saw how the wind was blowing and just quietly found another job? No muss, no fuss, merely packed up and strolled out the front door to greener pastures?

      • No. The hire the guy with a sick wife and two kids who can PASS as,a lefty true believer.

        The reality is, they take that guy and ask him to pass just a little bit. Today.

        Tomorrow, it’s a little bit more.

        And 20 years later, Trump is too icky, and we have to support Pope Francis, and it’s not about quotas, it’s fighting implicit bias, and of course, rainbow pride for kindergartners is a good thing.

        We get gray because we have hostages to fortune, because we’re weak, and because we get helpful lies about what virtue “really” is.

        • tregonsee314

          Nibbled to death by ducks, or more prosaically realizing the road to hell is paved with good intentions (quite likely by the Anti-Authors minions).

          Which reminds me of one of my favorite scenes From Babylon 5
          Londo Mollari:
          But this – this, this, this is like – being nibbled to death by, uh – Pah! What are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet, go “quack”.
          Vir Cotto:
          Cats.
          Londo Mollari:
          Cats! I’m being nibbled to death by cats.

          Peter Jurasik and Stephen Furst played off each other so well…

          • Now I want to go an a B5 binge and the daughter product has just discovered detective Conan.

            • You know you want to…

              G’Kar: “With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain ..”

              Na’Toth: “.. and you will know fear ..”

              G’Kar: “.. and then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.”

  21. “They prefer to think oil executives, personally, are holding back the all-electric solar cars we should already have.”

    Yes, there is a lot of this kind of thinking. In reality, of course, oil executives *could not hold back* economically-feasible competitive technologies, any more than large brick-and-mortar retail chains could have held back Amazon from taking great swaths out of their hides.

    • Jeff Gauch

      Balderdash. We know that GM bought out the 100 mpg carburetor just so they could bury it at the behest of Big Oil. Never mind the fact that it’s a economic law that you want to drive down the price of your compliments, so car manufacturers want gas to be as cheap as possible (and vice versa). And never mind the fact that the 100 mpg carb worked by bubbling air through a pool of gas rather than spraying gas into the air stream, meaning that the maximum amount of fuel in the cylinder was limited by the amount of vapor that air could support, reducing the max power per cylinder into the range technically known as “utter crap.” It worked in that you could power a model engine on the benchtop with it, but you’d never be able to make a practical engine with it.

      • I was always sure the “100 mpg carburetor” was straight-up commie propaganda. There really was something like that? (Not that I believe anything short of total mass-to-energy conversion could get a 1960s Buick over 100mpg, there’s not enough energy content in gasoline for that.)

        The hyper-mile weenies crow about getting over 100MPG, but they’re doing it with glorified go-carts running skinny bicycle tires, and engines that belong on a moped. Another propaganda exercise.

        • Jeff Gauch

          I don’t know exactly how efficient it was, but it was much more efficient than the carburetors of the day. At the price of utterly crap power density. Like modern hypermilers it’s all propaganda.

      • I was somewhat surprised that the first hybrids were smaller cars. Seems like family mini-van would have been a better market target.

        Packing more battery capacity into a hybrid increases the MPG. Allows it gain back more in regenerative braking and downhills. IMHO, what they should do is operate the vehicle all electric, and fit the generator and engine together so the engine always operates at it’s most efficient speed and load. I am a Prius owner.

        There’s evidently a hybrid add on now for ANY tractor trailer. https://www.hyliion.com/ Seems to have good reviews from people who’ve actually driven with it.

        • The problem with hybrids is energy density. When you do the math, the battery and its weight don’t really save much if any energy with the braking and downhill regeneration. The efficiency is too low, the drag and drivetrain losses too high. And the safety downside of having a great big lithium battery in a moving vehicle is large.

          The best real mileage people get with a real car is the Volkwagen TDI diesels. I’ve heard 75MPG on the highway is not uncommon. And we know one of the reasons for that is that VW spoofed the emissions control regulations to get more power and better all-round performance from their small displacement engine than they were supposed to.

          Which I have always found hilarious. The Greenies using regulations to make cars get less mileage and pollute more. Its genius!

      • Lindsay Publications (RIP) did reprints of early automotive designs, and one that comes to mind used a “carburetor” that was a canister filled with multiple baffles of flannel. You poured gasoline into the canister, and the engine quite literally ran on the fumes.

        • “Ran.” More accurately, walked. Sedately.

        • Lots of early carburetors did that, or used heat to gasify the fuel, or some combination of the two. It gave equal cylinder-to-cylinder fuel distribution, smooth running, and greater fuel efficiency than carbs which metered in droplets, like your typical downdraft or side-draft venturi carbs.

          Automotive engineers went to droplets instead of vapor when they needed to get the power per cubic inch up, for markets which were restricted or taxed by displacement. Marine, aircraft, and powerplant engineers didn’t care about that; their holy grail was Brake Specific Fuel Consumption, and if it took five hundred cubic inches to make 50hp nobody cared as long as the fuel consumption met the spec.

    • In reality, of course, oil executives *could not hold back* economically-feasible competitive technologies


      That’s why it was so critical they get Dick “Halliburton” Cheney into the White House where he could work his regulatory magic. More I dare not say … (Hint: put “dick cheney corporate ties” into your search engine.)

  22. Stephen J.

    “To them merit and competence don’t even exist. It’s all a matter of propitiating the right ideas, and removing evil thinkers.”

    I’d say it’s not so much that the Left doesn’t believe in merit and competence, as that they consider them far less relevant to the issues of their concern than the Right does.

    This is because a critical element of Leftist philosophy is the belief in sociodeterminism, i.e. that the factors which make the most difference to individual prosperity are the ones individuals themselves can’t control or affect: where you were born, what skin colour you were born with, who your family knows, whether your parents were mature enough to succeed in their marriage, who you were lucky enough to be able to meet and form friendships with, etc. Even talent for a particular skill is considered an accident of genetic luck, and even the time, training and opportunity needed to maximize a skill is something that more individuals than not are held to have no chance to acquire. Yes, the harder you work the better your odds, but too many people start out with too many odds against them for any amount of hard work to make much difference (or so the Left perceives the world).

    Thus, the Left views any claim by any possessor of economic or cultural privilege to have “earned” his capital as perennially suspect, because it conveniently absolves him of any responsibility to assist his less fortunate fellows and blames them for their disadvantage. Thus the root of Obama’s famous phrase, “You didn’t build that” — the whole idea was to disabuse the successful of the presumption that they could count their success fairly “earned” because of how dependent it was on what others had already done. The only place merit and competence are relevant is if all other factors have already been equalized/neutralized (which is in large part where the SF awards debacles of the past years have come from), and the whole idea that accomplishing something entitles you exclusively to its rewards, or grants you private authority over what to do with them, is anathema to the whole collectivism of the philosophy in the first place. Ability is valuable solely for what it means you can contribute to others — not for what it entitles you to receive, because that’s based on what others think you need.

    • It is a well established fact that ability, talent and competence are evenly distributed throughout all social sub-cultures and any disparate results MUST be a consequence of discriminatory actions.

      The fact that the NBA is dominated by African-Americans with scarcely any Samoans, Latinos or Asian-Americans participating can only be due to an entrenched power structure discriminating against those other groups.

      • The fact that the NBA is dominated by African-Americans with scarcely any Samoans

        *has a mental image of a Samoan facing up against Shaq, rock vs willow*

        …. I think you broke my brain.

        • I wouldn’t call Shaq a willow. Sequoia might be more accurate.

          The NBA guys are big in more than just the vertical dimension.

          • I’m aware of how huge he is; chose the guy because he’s one of the best examples of a perfectly normal physical proportion….but seven foot tall.

            Just Samoans also get 7 foot tall, and they’re generally built like Wolverine.

            • Stephen J.

              Which is exactly why, when you hear they’re going up against one another, you have to know just what game they’re playing. If it’s basketball, I bet on Shaq. If it’s football, I bet on The Rock.

              Socialism has become fatally entangled with the proposition, however, that it’s immoral even to ask which game is being played, much less take it into account in your betting.

            • Even Darwin observed what they now call “insular giantism.” Isolate a population on an island for long enough, and the individual members often grow much larger than their mainland counterparts.

              Not just tortoises and birds, but humans too.

              Frankly, it looks like it should work the other way around…

    • Ability is valuable solely for what it means you can contribute to others — not for what it entitles you to receive, because that’s based on what others think you need.

      To be fair, that was basic doctrine of the Democrat Party up until about 1864 or so. They mostly believed it after then, of course, but they mostly didn’t talk about it in public.

    • Exactly.
      And the problem is that they’re not *wrong.* Fact is, it’s much, much easier to make choices that will lead you to a reasonably successful life if you’re born into a stable two-parent family in the suburbs than if your mother’s a teenager in the Backcountry or ghetto who has no idea who dad is. On the other hand–you still have those choices.

      • AND if you succeed* despite oh, being a first generation immigrant writing in her third language and having no connections, you’re still privileged if you have the “wrong” political opinions.
        *believe it or not, I’m in the top 1% for traditionally published length of career, number of publications and even income. Larry is in the top 0.0000001%

      • Indeed — and this is where you can get another insight into one of Leftism’s great errors; Leftism believes that it is the function of the State to compensate for the loss of relative advantages like stable families, and therefore attempts to counter the effects of inappropriate choices or missed opportunities by redistributing resources to obtain positive results anyway.

        But as Reynolds’ Maxim states: “Subsidizing the markers of success does not produce the character traits required to sustain that success; it undermines them.”

  23. Know this is off topic but is there anywhere regarding percentages of authors whose sole income is freelance/novel writing vs a secondary income for family vs a ‘spare time’ pocket money? Have a friend who had been trying to make full time work but too niche and not sure one income in a city is truly viable anyway.

    I think he needs a break but want some support that taking one or going part time doesn’t mean having to stop completely.

    I’d post this on mgc but my phone does not like its commenting system.

    • He’d be better off to learn welding and write in his spare time. Sad, but there it is.

    • IIRC, Sarah mentioned a few weeks ago that it’s not uncommon to have a dozen decently-written self-published books up for sale that will sell just a few copies each.

      And then, eventually if the author keeps writing, one of those books will suddenly attract a modest amount of attention. And at that point, the older books might start to pull in some money as well.

    • It’s all changing, so i don’t know.

  24. My son is in management at a big box, earning good money. Jumped ahead of a whole bunch of older people. Why? Willing to move, willing to work night shifts as needed.

    For a lot of employers, advancement depends on moving. Not willing to move? You’re going to be on the slow track.

    Government jobs OTOH(except military), advancement depends on being part of the good ol’ boy (or girl) network. No matter your qualifications, you’re not going to advance past someone who’s been there 20 years longer. Even if their sole qualifications having been there doing one job.

    • Change “military” to “Department of Defense” and I’ll agree with you.

      On the other hand, job-hoppers are a problem. They are notorious for flitting from one resume-building position to another…leaving wreckage in their wake. A REALLY smart senior manager looks for the people who are willing to move…after three to five years in a position.

      • When I was starting in semiconductors, IEEE (electronic engineering society) published a survey that indicated new engineers tended to have 3 different employers in the first 5 years. [raises hand] Most of my co-workers at HP tended to be straight out of school, though there were a few key people who worked elsewhere for a while.

        OTOH, a good friend had a large number of employers in the years I knew him well. IIRC, it was around 8 employers over 13 years. Everything was fine until he got fired from his last position, at which point he discovered that his resume was somewhere between radioactive and something from Derek Lowe’s “I won’t work with that” file.

        He got an MBA after that, at which point he ended up being the most highly educated person on the line at his local Burger King. [returns shocked face to Sarah]

    • This gives homeschoolers with a strong family a HUGE advantage– we’ve never had to juggle the kids’ school year, we were “homeless” with parents several times.

      That said, apparently there’s a decent number of non-DOD where you will get promoted past someone who has more time, although they will still get time-in-rate raises for not being bad enough to have the “position eliminated.” (if you do a good job, your job might be eliminated and you get transferred instead)

      I don’t have nearly enough data, but it seems to depend on the job being something with actual objective measures of success.

    • or a lot of employers, advancement depends on moving. Not willing to move? You’re going to be on the slow track.

      That’s what did me for free trade outside of the U.S. It’s hard enough for families and communities within the States.

  25. Always remember that the Leftists are not very bright. They FEAR a meritocratic system, because it means that people like me from humble origins have a chance to move up, due to intelligence and willingness to work.

    And if you’re a dim-witted scion of a wealthy and well-connected family, that’s a terrifying prospect.

    • And it’s why the behavior of the Woke Left more and more resembles the behavior of the old European Aristocracy during the Industrial Revolution (which, predictably enough, both groups hate).

      Here’s hoping it doesn’t take their blundering us into something like World War One to discredit the swine.

    • Lefties are plenty clever. They’ve subverted the language so that clever lefties only get credit for their smarts in proportion to their prog status, though.

      What they lack is wisdom, experience and good judgment.

      Which to be fair is pretty normative for most of human history.

  26. Christopher M. Chupik

    “And yes, Atlas MIGHT shrug at any minute.”

    Where is John Galt?

  27. Off topic, Sarah, but as an immigrant from Portugal, I thought you might be interested in this article about Venezuelans returning to Portugal. Back to Portugal, 50 Years Later.

  28. I’ve seen the steady march of the proto-aristocrats into many, many places and to a certain extent I can understand it.

    It comes from wanting to secure something for your children to have, and having A Secure Place for the children and grandchildren is one of the best ways of doing it. Especially if you know-and most of these people do-that their children are barely in the crayon category of sharpened pencils.

    What makes me sad is that we all have to suffer so that these people can secure something for their families.

    • And meanwhile, they insist up and down that other people establishing anything for their children is evil privilege. “Eat the rich! The government will make everybody secure, and if you aren’t eager to hand everything over to us, you’re just greedy and hate poor people!”

    • They create INSECURITY for the community around them, as if it will not ultimately affect their descendants. I used to listen to my elderly relatives talk about the way that “greasing the wheels” was a way of life in communities they were glad to leave behind.

  29. We’re at this point hanging on by a very few competent individuals holding the world aloft. And yes, Atlas MIGHT shrug at any minute. And if not, in the course of human nature, will die, and the person hired is most likely to be one of the incompetent “morally good” people of the left.

    Hey, it’s not that bad.

    Mostly because if it was, it would have already collapsed.

    It’s kind of like driving– one in a hundred utter psychos on the road, we’re about US normal.
    One in ten, it’s more China.

    Fifty fifty, and it’s basically worthless.

    The saving grace is that some of the hired-for-the-wrong-reason folks ARE competent. Heck, some are awesome and don’t rest on their unearned “merits.”

    So the system has a lot more ruin in it.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Yeah. Organizations are always rotting anyway.

      American companies have, as best as I can tell, had a very dysfunctional set of operating theories for a very long time.

      And there are some other factors mitigating some of the ills of the STEM fad.

  30. ranting that merit is never absolute — for instance, having been close to people with the power to hire, I know they’ll pass up a fractious genius for an agreeable “smarter than average.”

    Cooperative people skills are valuable. Genius is valuable. Depending on the project, which is has more “merit.” ?

    The progs absolutely have a meritocracy. Don’t get me wrong, what Mrs. Hoyt describes in Latin America, what is killing Africa, is the primacy of tribal connections. It seems the same as what our progs are doing because there’s good tribal money and power to be milked from asinine ideologues. For the tribe. Think overlapping sets.

    But our USAian progs are/B> running a meritocracy. Do you want a genius psycho thief, or an average honor-bound hard-working bourgeoisie? Do you want skills, knowledge, or good character? A sensible person thinks: “I choose only from the pool of virtuous people. Then come the skills, etc. that the job needs.” To most of us here “good character” is straight out of the Copybook headings. For progs, and indeed most Americans now… not so much.

    The problem we face is: Define merit. What is virtue? The progs have one definition, which is mostly crazy-pants. As Mrs. Hoyt points out, if your definition of “merit” is normal to reality, civilization is headed over a cliff.

    So. What is the good? What is virtuous? What is arete?

    • Oh, for an editing function. My apologies for the missing <

    • How about — everyone hiring decides what definition to apply!

      • Because not being able to answer “what is the good” in any way remotely connected to reality is,a,serious problem for everyone. Death by H.R.

        • Then the company goes bust and the saner ones take the market share.

          • Tarp my taters and fry them in a bailout, Miss Catelli, but that only happens to small businesses. And my I introduce you to my Big Brother’s HR in city, county, state and Federal Agencies?

            Looking ahead to that moment in which they all “go bust” (the U.S. Navy is sitting on a precipice) is not an argument for “sure, let everyone find their own different definitions of merit” and run with them.

  31. Reality is Manichean, and if there is any issue at all, you find the person who might be causing it…and you attack that person.

    It’s a devil theory with a large (and mostly unidentified) assortment of devils. Devil theories are always popular with the disaffected. They provide an enemy to blame, to hate, and to assail.

  32. > merit

    Which simultaneously has become a leftist code word for “connected.”

    For example, Chicago PD and “merit promotions”, which aren’t based on any objective metrics. So there are the schmucks in uniform riding around in patrol cars, and almost all of the ranking officers are part of the bureaucratic overstructure, whose “police” experience might consist of a few ride-alongs while they wait for their desk job to become available. The higher ranks are all minions of the party “Machine”.

    Any organization that allows “merit” promotions is susceptible to the same problem.

    • THE classic tale of Chicago politics, told by Judge Abner Mikva:

      One of the stories that is told about my start in politics is that on the way home from law school one night in 1948, I stopped by the ward headquarters in the ward where I lived. There was a street-front, and the name Timothy O’Sullivan, Ward Committeeman, was painted on the front window. I walked in and I said “I’d like to volunteer to work for [Adlai] Stevenson and [Paul] Douglas.” This quintessential Chicago ward committeeman took the cigar out of his mouth and glared at me and said, “Who sent you?” I said, “Nobody sent me.” He put the cigar back in his mouth and he said, “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.” This was the beginning of my political career in Chicago.
      Wiki

      And that, kiddies, is the Chicago Way.

  33. Brother Cavil

    Would that “communist matriarchy” be the one where the matriarchs are all male-to-female trans? Because it sure seems the trend, and it’s hilarious.

    • If all the M-to-F trans were just insanely opportunistic commie guys it would be hilarious. But since they’re not, it’s just horrific and tragic. Makes you understand why Cortez did nothing wrong.

  34. So we are heading into the world Kornbluth described in “The Marching Morons”, I guess.

  35. Very late C4c

  36. Pingback: News of the Week (June 9th, 2019) | The Political Hat

  37. they see humans as bipedal
    The problem is when they see non-bipedals as *people*.
    (No offense to anyone here who identifies as non-bipedal.)

  38. Which leads us to total insanity, of course.
    Admittedly, most of it *started* in insanity, so that’s a natural destination.

  39. thinks their job is to educate and enlighten the public
    We call that evangelism where I’m from.