Competence and Take Overs

Let’s talk competence, shall we?

Competence is not intelligence. Competence isn’t even innate ability. Competence is, instead, the ability to focus on and do the job.

Yesterday a commenter who has commented here occasionally, though not regularly, took exception to my guest poster (who, trust me, has reason to know — there’s a reason that wasn’t even under a nom de net or an anagram of the name) saying the left is not competent.

He (? I don’t remember the sex of that particular nick) said he knows many very competent lefties. And also that if the left weren’t competent they couldn’t take over everything.

Which I think is what necessitates this discussion, and this …. disentangling of the threads of “what makes someone competent.” And “what is competent?”

Individual leftists can be extremely smart. However you define smart. Whether it be knowing tons about an extremely abstract field or simply being able to run their lives such that you make tons of money, or even managing to make vast fortunes/careers from frankly almost nothing. I know several of those. Because of course I do. And FYI a vast core of Mensa is hard left. (Though again, Mensa is not everyone who qualifies, but those who joined. For instance our lower IQ son joined (because we needed to impress a school) but his younger brother never did (no point) and I haven’t renewed in nigh on 20 years. So Mensa is self selected for above a certain IQ (and it’s not amazingly high.) and “wants to be part of a society that defines itself by high IQ.” No judgement. At one time and in one place it was our best bet at making friends. And it worked. Since then…. not so much.) Which means there a lot of left-wingers who are in the top 2% for IQ. I’d honestly estimate there to be the same right and left percentage, or whatever the percentage is in the population.

And yet, this is UNDENIABLY true, and many of us have seen it play out real time:

So, why do they kill and gut the respected institutions — or businesses — or entire business areas?
You’re going to say it’s because they want to kill those, but that’s not always true. True, say, maybe of some conservative institutions or IDK oil companies. But not true when it comes to things like publishing or the news industry, which they hope to use for their purposes and which, therefore, they would do better with if it were thriving.

There is a side issue here with such convinced leftists (Obama comes to mind) that their entire set of judgement is not from reality, but that is perhaps best evaluated at the end.

So, let’s start with “leftist gets hired in a field that is predominantly right wing”. I want two caveats here: first, no field in the Western world has been predominantly right wing for at least a hundred years, and going back before that the terms “right” and “left” are far, far more muddled. For the nineteenth century, for instance, I’m almost screamingly left wing. What I am not is Marxist.

The institutions have not been predominantly right wing because, (if you read books published around that time it’s not hard to gather this, btw,) in the aftermath of WWI and the turmoil of the fall of royal families all over Europe (which had been going on for about a century, to be fair) the youth of Europe latched onto Marxism as a new doctrine to give their world meaning. It’s not even hard to see that. Even solidly prosy middle-class women like Agatha Christie (who was also a storytelling genius, but that often descends on people with no regard for who they are) made their communist characters very smart and socially conscious and you know, even when in the wrong kind of right.

For sure for at least 80 years publishing was explicitly left wing and preparing the “great socialist future” with notable exceptions, like Campbell. I’ve read more publisher bios than I can shake a really big pen at and all of them were explicitly encouraging “fiction that moves us to more progressive policies.” Even in the pulps.

So, even back then the way to get accepted was to be explicitly left and cater to the publisher’s own obsessions (same as it ever was.) But the publishers were still competent.

Two or three years ago, I undertook, for reasons known only to the psychiatrist I don’t have, to read back on the books I read as a kid. The project got interrupted for various reasons, but I intend to go back to it, and perhaps do reviews.
However, here is what shocked me: the premises of the stories were often either scietifically laughable or (by now) done to death. The characters were walking stereotypes. The settings were often barely sketched in.
And yet those books grabbed me from the first chapter. And no, it wasn’t nostalgia, as I didn’t remember a lot of them. What they were was…. competent at the primary job of a pulp science fiction book: have the reader read you and enjoy it, so he’ll buy more.
Oh, the ideas were also extremely poisonous, since I read mostly “between the wars” when the line between socialism and fascism was often nonexistent. (We’re kind of there again. Hello, darkness my old friend.) So paens to socialism alternated with sounding the alarm on the NEED for “racial hygiene” (barfs.)

I can attest, having re-read those books that, being entertaining and drawing you along even as you thought they were ridiculous, they were a far more effective way to sell the poison than the current dry and lecturing tomes on the glories Gramsci’s edit on Marx.

So as far as I can tell, those leftists were very competent. And to be fair, they were probably hired on competence, not their ideas, because that’s how non-Marxists hire. “Can you do the job?”

But that was at least four generations ago as working lifespans go. Maybe more, as people after WWII started work later and died younger than we do.

And that competence has been ditched along the way.

Now, how did that happen?

I don’t know. I once read a book on the transformation of Universities in the sixties, but I can’t remember the title because it was a decade or so ago. This happened, btw, in the sixties, so I wasn’t really aware of it. I couldn’t even read till sixty six and it was the end of the seventies before I started trying to understand the world and events.

I do know that my education wasn’t nearly as good as my dad’s. And my brother’s (about ten years older. It’s complicated) was halfway as good as dad’s. For instance, under the excuse of “modernizing” I never got Latin or Greek and knew ancient history only because I found dad’s school books and read them. Other things, such as math, were stretched out over a much longer time. Geography was elided, economics never taught us the basics and went on a grand crusade for Marxist (or in the case of one teacher mixed) economies. We learned way more “activism” than actual facts. In fact most of the classes were devoted to telling us the past of the west was unfair and evil and such, only you know, a little better disguised than now. Also to make us feel superior to our parents and grandparents that we knew this, while they didn’t. The same poison pill has been served, in increasing dosages to every generation since.
Now, the book I read said this was done to submit to the demands of protesters in US universities, and maybe it was? Craziness in the US tends to propagate throughout the world. Witness the “black lives matter” demonstrations/riots all over the world. But one could adduce other causes, such as the greater prosperity of the post WWII era, combined with a need for more “trained” white collar workers having facilitated concentrating on “the things they’ll need to use.” I know in the US this meant a lot of science graduates knew almost nothing about the liberal arts.

What I do know is that a large portion of the theme of my — and most of my friends’ — adult lives has been “creating competence.” Because we didn’t leave our educational institutions with much of it.
I was recently complimented on my English not along the lines of “Oh, and you are so good at it” but at how astonishing it was for me to use all the levels of the language, know what I was doing and using them for effect. I know there’s a ton of other examples from the past, but this person — by no means a fool — was amazed at someone our generation doing it.

Well, I was lucky in that my first through third year teachers were exceptionally competent and bucked the trend of making learning fun. One of them said “you will memorize the vocab lists, and be tested on them till your eyes bleed. And you will be proficient. And when you leave my hands you will be fluent.”

And yes, that’s part of it, but not all. The fact is in English, and in so many other things, I was aware that while making very good grades, I wasn’t being taught much of anything. So I set about learning. For English this involved finding a bookstore that had forgotten a bunch of books in its attics, and never remarked them after WWII. So I read a lot of abridged works “for foreign learners.” From those, in my second year, I graduated to a (cost the Earth, because of culture-protecting tariffs) a paperback copy of Dandelion Wine, US version. I spent what must have been six months working on that book. This is why every word I wasn’t sure about has notations in pencil on the top. The next book took three months, etc. BUT the point is, “I didn’t get that from school.”

Also, often, in my professional life, I came across the very basics that everyone should know and I wasn’t taught. One of those was: margins. (Not even joking.) Another was punctuation, and I still struggle and periodically have to spend a day doing exercise books just to ‘set it properly’ because early (lack of) learning tells.
To this day I’m not sure how to do proper bookkeeping, something mom knew with a (pre-apprenticeship, that’s something else) 4th grade education.

So what I suspect happens in all the “get woke go broke” instances, or the Iowahawk paradigm is that the people coming in, having been hired by true believers (every generation is more of a true believer) and educated by true believers, have no clue how to do the job.

In my own field I was staggered to find out, for instance that there are NO market studies done for publishing. None. They have no idea what the public wants to buy. This is like “management 101” but they don’t do it. Not for content, not for type of plot and pacing, not for SIZE or price.
And my guess would be because they have no clue how to do it.
They were hired for their beliefs, so what they concentrate on is blazing those beliefs and looking good to their bosses. Which is not a bad personal strategy, but sucks for the business long term. And stems from a lack of competence, not intelligence.

There is a subset of true believers that aren’t either smart or competent and skate through solely on “excessive belief and signaling.” I’d put Obama in that category. I’m still convinced he firmly believes if he ruins the US enough the rest of the world will get richer. Because economics is a foreign language to him and he was taught a bunch of dogma that just ain’t so.

But it is a lot like what happens when “advancing women’s rights” women get hired into a field or take it over. Instead of being passionately interested in the THING be it games, or sf books, or whatever it is they’re messing with this week, they’re passionately interested in “cause.”
No matter how smart or well equipped intellectually they are, they’re going to take that area of business or endeavor down. Because it has ceased being the main job.

They can be intelligent and good at what they’re doing, but what they’re doing is not for the benefit of the house/company/endeavor.

BTW a related side of this is how I understand the left thinking we’re stupid. This was particularly true when I was deep in the political closet. When pitching, or talking books with friends, I could hear the other person going “Come on, put in the talking points that will take it “to the next level.” And they’d say things like “oh, you’re just not that deep a thinker. it’s all right.” What it means is that they can’t understand why we don’t parrot the right points to benefit ourselves, since obviously the THING isn’t going to get done, anyway. So we’re stupid.
…. They might not be wrong. But only on the very short term, and the problem is that they’re not “deep thinkers.”

Anyway, that is why there is a competence gap between right and left. It’s not because they’re not capable, but because they don’t find the “thing” as worth of their time and devotion as we do. Also because the ideology blinds them, they don’t realize there’s anything to FIX in their education. So even if they wanted to they couldn’t fix what they’re doing wrong.

This, btw, is the explanation for “everything is broken” and is a massive threat to civilization, bigger even than rigged elections, bigger ideological craziness, bigger than anything else.
We’ve sold competence for a pot of message.
And we need competent people to save civilization.

Go forth.

362 thoughts on “Competence and Take Overs

    1. Sorry. No. Just woke up ridiculous late. There’s a reason, but…
      I’m not doing the invest. No one in the house is. BUT I do know younger people who are, and it’s glorious.

      1. I hope they understand what they’re doing. Once a thing becomes public it’s over.

        That said, yes, it is glorious and the revelation of rules for me and rules for thee will be very valuable. I’m afraid the Reddit kids are going to get skinned. Hope I’m wrong, doubt I am,

          1. I kind of wish I’d been on the relevant subReddir to catch the wave, I first heard about it today, I think? No way was I going to try to get on-board at the price it was trading then, instead I’m just enjoying the fallout…

          2. Good for him. I hope he survives, he embarrassed a lot of people, mostly government people. They have nothing but time. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, I hope these guys get away with it, but you really have to be a pro who offers the potential for post retirement employment to the SEC enforcement crowd to get away with this. Naked Short selling, which is what the hedgies were doing, is illegal but nothing was done because the game is rigged. Rules for me and rules for thee.

            I’ll give you a Heineken reference. This is a funny once. Glorious, but it’ll only work once and it’s over.

            1. I’m sure the SEC fine of treble his “ill-gotten gains” will be assessed by the end of the year.

              Don’t they know you have to be an elite with a Havard MBA and a turn at Goldman Sacs to be allowed to engage in such behavior.

              Bad peasants, bad.

              1. Apparently, according to news reports, new Treasury Secretary Janice Yellon received $800,000 from one of the hedge funds involved in the Gamestop stuff. Needless to say no promise is being made of recusal.

                It’s corruption and fecklessness all the way from the top.

            2. I’ll give you a Heineken reference.

              That’s a Busch league comment. 🙂 Ottocorrupt for the L, I expect.

          3. First Rule of Bubbles: Do not be last player. Better to get out before the crest than to be caught on the crash.

            1. The First Rule of Bubbles is to stay the hell out of the bubble.

              The Second Rule of Bubbles is if you find yourself in violation of the First Rule, do not be the last player.

        1. I’m afraid the Reddit kids are going to get skinned. Hope I’m wrong, doubt I am,

          Many (most?) of them walked in planning to lose. It is about burning these funds to the ground.

          1. Their loss will not be at the hand of the market, but the prison term for the crime of “playing by the rules we set up for your ‘betters’ peasant”.

              1. Hmm, shutting down a bunch of (presumably) apolitical people over this, calling them raaaaacists and siccing the SEC on them is going to do wonders for the FICUS administration. I doubt they’ll be apolitical any longer.

                1. That’s why I’m generally opposed to the government trying to deal with monopolies, either by preventing them (a la Microsoft, IBM, US Steel) or by managing them with regulation (Ma Bell.)

                  In the first case, all it does is make sure the company becomes political. Microsoft didn’t have a PAC until they were sued for monopolistic practices.

                  In the second case, well, being regulated by the government means that a large monopoly is incentivized to become the government, or at least selected bits of it.

                  1. The problem with monopolies is that they can become tyrannies. And that’s bad for everyone, regardless of whether it is business, or government.

                    1. That can only happen with natural monopolies, which are few and far between, or with government protected monopolies. Any other monopoly has to operate close to how it would in a competitive market. They can collect some rents based on the costs of entry into the market, but if they go too far they’ll create an opportunity for a competitor to enter.

          2. Except that it isn’t going to burn the funds to the ground. You can make money in the market if it goes up or down, and the people running hedge funds got there by demonstrating a sustained ability to make money in the market. The whole point of hedge funds is that they’re invested so that they maintain value no matter what the market does. Ironically, one of the ways to make money on a stock in a bubble is to short it. Last night when I looked Gamestop had a short float of around 300%, and that was after the funds had closed out their short positions that triggered this little drama.

            I get the frustration from all the big market players. They had just managed to get the algos programmed to the point where they weren’t making the market chaotic once a month and now we’re introducing a completely uncontrollable chaotic element. The good news is that the people willing to buy a specific stock into a bubble just to screw with people will run out of money. Unless, of course, we get some kind of UBI.

              1. If that’s all you have then I’m going to stick with you’re just emoting like a basic Prog.

                Come back with some facts and logic or don’t bother coming back.

                1. Ian is right. Short positions in the market are not something you can just hold until you feel like closing them. When you sell short you are borrowing another trader’s shares, and on specified dates (not more than 3 months away by regulation) you have to return them, which means closing your short position. That’s why some of the hedge funds are going belly-up.

                  1. The SEC has not enforced any of those regulations for more than 30 years; why would they start now? That would be soooo unfair!

                    1. That can work in our favor too. The left is both already horrified at what the Biden administration is doing and regards the Redditors as heroes. If the former blatantly cheats on behalf of the latter, the left will end up just as furious with the government as we are. And as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, THEIR protesters are quick to resort to violence…

                      I don’t see an easy way out for our lords and masters on this one.

                    2. >> “cheats on behalf of the latter,”

                      Should have been “cheats AGAINST the latter.” On behalf of the hedge funds, obviously.

            1. 1. Very few hedge funds do what the name implies anymore. Most are trading entities. The strongest hedging desks seem to be inside larger institutions (such as the one I support).

              2. Except that it isn’t going to burn the funds to the ground. You can make money in the market if it goes up or down, and the people running hedge funds got there by demonstrating a sustained ability to make money in the market – my experience is many get into a hedge fund by doing that and within 6-12 months forget what they know and think they know everything. The classic example is Long Term Capital Management. The founders made their bones by riding bond panics at one of the investment majors (I need to get my copy to check who). Within a couple of years of founding LTCM they were applying bond liquidity panic strategies to markets they had no knowledge of. They were also making larger and larger bets to goose their returns.

              3. They had just managed to get the algos programmed to the point where they weren’t making the market chaotic once a month That’s a fool’s errand. Even in relatively low volatility markets you aren’t modeling something like the laws of motion. There are no firm, mathematical laws that once embedded in a model can be relied on to not change. Black Scholes is a great model that only breaks down when a relative common real world occurrence happens, for example. It ruled the roost less than three decades ago. You’d be laughed out of model evaluations if you tried to use that now.

              4. we’re introducing a completely uncontrollable chaotic element So, life happened. Any modeler not ready for a random chaotic element and able to adapt is either incompetent at modeling or risk management. Based on the levels of exposure and failure to cover some of the bet during the run-up I’d say both.

              5. Unless, of course, we get some kind of UBI. We have the equivalent for the funds via the Fed and have on and off for a decade plus.

              Let’s face it, if this was hedge funds doing it to each other the government wouldn’t care and the financial press would be calling the people at the hedge fund in question geniuses.

              The hate is because the wrong people noticed the pattern (the essance of algo trading) while the supposed pros in it didn’t notice a raid on their position. Now they’re trying to force the market intermediaries to change the rules to cover their loses. There is even evidence of Robinhood doing forced sales at prices that minimized loses to hedge funds who’d been floated by Citadel. That’s out and out restraint of trade and the evidence is at least as strong as election evidence was at this point on the timeline.

              I refuse to see people who figured out how to beat supposed geniuses who couldn’t do basic risk assessment or bother to track against a raid on their position as bad people. Foolish? Maybe, but bad.


              1. We used to call it maintaining market discipline, if someone got overextended, the market wiped them out. Darwinism. Now, not so much, the government bails out the big players now rather than letting them fail. Lehman will be the last large financial firm to fail, until they all fail when the currency collapses.

                This is a good story and I hope the people who pulled it off end up OK. I worry because Occasional Cortex seems to be taking their side and she’s a sh-t Midas. I think the difference between us and the left is concern for individuals. We shouldn’t be flippant about the consequences for other people. sacrificing people for the good of the party is what the other side does.

                Spare a little thought for the hedge funds — not much, but a little — you’re more likely to find honest libertarians there than most anywhere else. I agree many of the hedge funds aren’t hedge funds, they’re just grifting off the artificially low interest rates and mountains of cash provided by government and charging exorbitant fees to very rich people who don’t understand that they’d get a better return in a Vanguard Index fund that only costs 6bp. The rest are how this bad behavior gets punished. In any case, it’s not the hedge funds hurting you, it’s the politicians.

              2. 1) A difference of degree, not kind.

                2) LTCM proves my point. Melvin Capital has been around nearly twice as long and the founder has been doing this for 20 years. The real test will be the hedge fund statements after this all blows over. I think at the end of the day we’ll see a bunch of broke WSB investors and not a lot of broke hedge funds.

                3&4) You’re just reiterating why the established players are upset at this. It’s hard enough trying to manage the known unknowns, adding the uncertainty that your short position will be chosen as the next target for the Merry Men of Reddit just makes things more irrational.

                Let’s face it, in the games the hedge funds play there are winners and losers. The funds that win will be lauded by the press and the funds that lose will be lambasted. There’s no way to tell a priori which position is which. That’s why they call it playing the market.

                The whole situation with Robinhood is well in “the first report is a lie” territory. Personally, I don’t think they should be interfering with their customers’ trades, but I can see reasons for doing so that aren’t “we need to help our cronies in the hedge funds.” I’ll need a hell of a lot more information before I make my mind up one way or the other.

                I don’t see anyone in this as bad people, with the possible exception of Robinhood. To me it’s a case of dinosaurs versus insects. Most of the time the dinosaurs crush insects without even noticing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just as there’s nothing wrong with insects occasionally bringing down a dinosaur with malaria (Could dinosaurs get malaria? Forget it, he’s rolling.).

                1. I don’t understand the wisdom of shorting more than 100% of the shares of a stock. Isn’t that the financial equivalent of preparing for the new Chinavirus swab test?

                  Note that a lot of the people in WSB were using stimulus money to get in. They considered it free money, and if it went poof, they weren’t going to miss any meals because it went away.

                  Robinhood is getting interesting. Note the CEO defending selling users’ shares of Game Stop to the shorts *without permission*.

                  From the Daily Mail: “Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, 33, last night defended firm’s decision to sell users’ shares without permission”

                  Equally interesting, both Google and Apple are deleting negative reviews of the Robinhood app because shut up peasant!

                  1. Not so much that they sold the shares without permission (which was bad enough), but that they sold the shares during a dip in prices, at the lowest point of the day. There were other weird things, like banks freezing people’s accounts (for their own good) and refusing money transfers to reputable firms (for people’s own good). And so on. It’s been very strange and hinky.

                2. A difference of degree, not kind.

                  Not at all a difference in degree and not kind. They are essentially different strategies with different portfolio mixes.

                  Had Melvin been genuinely hedging they would have covered the shorts early instead of riding them. The coverage need not be buying $GME, but would have been a counter market investment of some kind

                  Instead Melvin and others expanded their short exposure after the stock price had roughly doubled instead of covering by $GME purchases or a hedging purchase.

                  That is why I say they were traders chasing a big score and not hedgers. They did not behave like hedgers.

                  Now, if you look at hedge funds who shorted $GME in the August-December time frame I suspect you’ll see a lot who covered that short in some manner by 1/10 and who covered it directly no later 1/15 when it became clear new management with extensive eCommerce experience was taking over in combination with GameStop’s pre-existing attempts to shift that direction.

                  You’re just reiterating why the established players are upset at this. It’s hard enough trying to manage the known unknowns, adding the uncertainty that your short position will be chosen as the next target for the Merry Men of Reddit just makes things more irrational.

                  So the established players are entitled established market conditions and new players must agree to such conditions to be allowed to play.

                  So much for endorsing freedom.

                  Are most of the WSB people going to lose money? Yep, and if you listen to them, they ones who haven’t cashed out know it. Yes, they are doing it for the LOLs. They are also, for the most part, not as poor as sometimes portrayed. The one who got this rolling did have $50k to do so.

                  The whole situation with Robinhood is well in “the first report is a lie” territory. Personally, I don’t think they should be interfering with their customers’ trades, but I can see reasons for doing so that aren’t “we need to help our cronies in the hedge funds.”

                  I’ve see the liquidation letters on positions. Liquidating without order a position is a far cry for restricting the ability to trade.

                  The only legitimate reason for a broker to do that is a margin call. Letters informing of margin call sales include some very specific information:

                  1. That it is a margin call sale.
                  2. The amount you exceeded your allowed margin.
                  3. The number of shares liquidated to bring you below your allowed margin.
                  4. Your remaining margin.

                  The letters only include #3, in each case an amount equal to the total holding. They indicate a price, in most if not all cases well below the market price (all below yesterday’s closing US price), and indicate it was “for the safety of your account”.

                  Are there are other reasons than to aid their hedge fund buddies? Sure, but the sale well below current market price and force liquidation of entire positions lead to “aid Citadel who controls 1/2 our trading window” as the Occam’s Razor choice. We need more evidence to make another.

                  Most of the time the dinosaurs crush insects without even noticing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just as there’s nothing wrong with insects occasionally bringing down a dinosaur with malaria

                  I agree. The issue is, when the dinosaurs crush the insects no one come riding to the rescue to bail out the insects or to put the dinosaurs in jail, even when it is clear laws were broken. No one has gone to jail over the 2008 mortgage crisis despite clear fraud, in some cases done by the same individuals using similar methods who had been behind the S&L crisis of the early 90s.

                  Yet, Congress and the SEC are already intervening to save the dinosaurs and punish the insects. That’s why this is tapped into the same people who voted for Trump and started OWS, and is bringing them together. It’s another variation on “don’t like the rules build your own social media company” followed by “don’t like the rules build your own internet”.

                  The WSB people are heroes not for making money, but for once winning by the rules and making the those behind the rules let the mask slip that the rules are a scam and even if you play by them you will not be allowed to win.

                3. For what it’s worth, your comment on #1 has me digging through Vol.1 of Stochastic Calculus for Finance to see if I can construct a model portfolio for naked shorts.

                  I’m not sure a naked short is even a valid hedging tool period. I want to see if I can find balancing elements outside the actual stock itself.

                    1. Naked short selling is not exactly illegal, but there are restrictions. After making a naked short sale, the seller has three trading days to borrow the shares and deliver them to the buyer. The SEC is supposed to enforce that law, but for more than 30 years they have not done so.

                      That is the part the hedge funds skip. They sell ‘vaporshares’ and never deliver anything to the buyer. This frees them from those petty restrictions like, oh, not short-selling twice as many shares as the ‘float’ — the number of shares not held within the company, and available to be bought and sold.

                      Selling stock tends to drive the price down by increasing supply, buying drives the price up by increasing demand. Large-volume naked short selling can drive stock price down a lot. That’s what Melvin Capital and the other hedge funds did to GameStop.

                      Say a hedge trader sells 10,000 shares of GSE at $6.00. They never had 10,000 shares of GSE to sell, so they owe 10,000 shares to the market. As long as the price stays at $6.00 or less, all is fine. They have $60,000 on hand to buy the stock and restore it. The brokerages let the naked shorts ride.

                      They’re hoping the price will go down. If the price drops to $4.00, they can buy back the 10,000 shares for $40,000 and keep $20,000. The farther the price goes down, the less it costs to buy the stock back.

                      If the price goes up, they’re in trouble. If it rises to $8.00, they have to either deposit another $20,000 in their account, or be forced to buy immediately, placing them $20,000 in debt to the brokerage.

                      When more shares than the float have been sold short, it sets the stage for a ‘short squeeze’. If the price goes up, everybody with naked shorts has to either deposit more money, or buy the stock. Some will be forced to buy, driving the price up, forcing more short-sellers to buy, driving the price up more…

                      The higher the stock price goes, the more short-sellers will be caught in the squeeze, forcing more and more buying. When the total number of short-sold shares exceeds the float, soon there will BE no shares to buy, and the price can shoot up almost without limit. Those with naked shorts still uncovered can find themselves in debt for 10, 20, even 100 times the original transaction.

                      The hedge funds got hoist by their own petard. Schadenfreude may be naughty, but it can feel sooooo good.

        2. Glenn Reynolds has a post in today’s New York Post on the Gamestop stuff:

          It starts:

          “Joe Biden is president. Democrats control the House and Senate. Tech overlords are quashing dissent. We’re in the middle of what our betters call the “Great Reset,” when the power of big institutions and the Really Smart People™ is supposed to be re-established after the unfortunate deviation of the Trump years. The hoi polloi are supposed to know their place now, especially those annoying loudmouths on the Internet.”

          Needless to say the citizenry is no acting in the way demanded by the nobility.

          1. Also from Instapundit (

            “The way the establishment works is, they win, you lose. Then they say well, that’s just the rules, better luck next time! Then if you actually have better luck next time, they change the rules. Then they tell you the rules are the price we pay for civilization.”

            1. Must. Not. Wake. Up. $SPOUSE. While. Laughing.

              The last I looked, Archer Daniels Midland owned Orville Reddenbacher. If I bought stocks, I’d go long on them.

            1. Unity and Equity!

              The only place you find unity and equity is in the grave. It doesn’t matter how grand your tomb nor how humble, you ain’t in there to appreciate it.

  1. Oh this is such an important essay. One of the aspects of Marxists that I’ve noticed is that they’re fundamentally lazy. By espousing liberalism, they can claim elite status without ever having to do the hard work of actually thinking and achieving. They not only don’t want to do the work they should be doing, they don’t have the competence to do so. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, “Lazy and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

      1. There’s a difference between lazy and stupid, and “lazy” and competent. ie, “The man who was too lazy to fail” as mentioned in Time Enough for Love.

    1. It is not so much that they are fundamentally lazy as they tend to attract the fundamentally lazy — the people who game the system rather than learning the procedures. Because Marxism reward “reliability” more than competency it devalues competency. This eventually established a feedback loop, especially as the “reliable but not entirely competent” tend to hire and promote “reliable but less than competent” because actual competence is threatening to their positions.

      Well, that and because not being themselves competent they lack the capacity for judging competency. Back when schools were capable of producing competent people it was okay to hire by old school ties, fraternal handshakes and other such markers. Now? Not so much.

      1. RES,

        You might want to read, “I Speak for the Silent Prisoners of the Soviets,” by Vladimir Tchernavin. A fisheries official under the Tsarist Government who was reemployed in the industry by the Soviets, he writes very clearly and explicitly about how the Russian Arctic fisheries were destroyed through having completely ignorant leadership installed by the Soviet government. These leaders were installed because they were politically trustworthy, not because they knew anything about the industry, and predictably led it to disaster and total ruin.

        This happened in a lot of industrial and agricultural areas, and the resultant failures made necessary the host of “wreckers” and “hoarders” accusations/excuses made by the Soviet government in the late 20s and 30s. They needed some way to explain away their failure to provide the more abundant life for the Soviet Union that had been so insistently promised at the revolution’s outset.

        The reality, as Tchernavin points out, is that communism doesn’t work, has never worked, and cannot work because it goes against human nature. Any success at all achieved by communism comes about through brute force backed by draconian penalties.

        Tchernavin’s wife wrote another book describing their escape from the Soviet Union through Finland. Both books I found to be very interesting. I note that anyone who has read Simon Montefiore’s seminal work, “Stalin: At the Court of the Red Czar,” knows that the Kafkaesque insanity the Tchernavins described in their books is all too real.

        1. In the true Einsteinian definition of insanity, the Democrats think that trying the same thing again will somehow work this time and get a different result.

    2. EXCELLENT super short summary. But can you expand? THIS needs sharing, re-sharing, inviting others to catch up with…developments with the Oigarchy FAIL.

  2. I think the amount of competence may vary with the industry and how much the hiring process has been corrupted by hiring the “right” ideology. I’ve worked for tech companies for decades. In the beginning nobody really talked about politics and I had no idea what my co-workers believed. These days a lot of them spout the typical leftist dogmas and say really stupid things, but it’s not necessarily correlated with competence. A lot of them are pretty competent. There are quite a few tech companies who emphasize “diversity and inclusion” on their hiring pages, and many of them do seem to put a pretty heavy thumb on the scale to hire the “diverse”. But it might be a bit easier to recognize actual competence in tech than other fields.

    I know from observation that there’s lots of fields where the right ideology is much more important than competence though. And the less concrete the skills involved, the more ideology counts.

  3. I see a simpler explanation. Pournelle’s Iron Law is at work here. It applies to private companies above a certain size as well as to government agencies. (The biggest difference being that once a private company is taken over by the faction for whom the company’s purpose is to exist and preserve their jobs, the company will eventually perish; the government won’t pump in as much taxpayer money as needed, as it usually will to preserve one of its own agencies.)

    P.S. Have an “attagirl” for not inflicting the non-word “competency” on us.

      1. I love reading articles in the British press about their local governments having “competence” in one thing or another (meaning power to act). From Spiked recently:

        “Given the Welsh government has gradually acquired legislative competence in no fewer than 20 devolved areas, one would expect an overall increase in political engagement, given there is now far more at stake.”

        Considering how the rest of the article is about how the Welsh government has generally made a hash of things, I contend they haven’t acquired any competence at all…

  4. I entered university in the mid 70’s. I did straight STEM even though I would have loved some history due to a warning in Ayn Rand’s writing that the Arts were graded by ideology rather than by actual worth. From observation, she was not wrong.

      1. She lives in the Left’s mental collective as an avatar of what they imagine the “radical right-wing” to be.

        I’ve seen way more “debunkings” of Rand on leftist media than I’ve seen favorable comments on the right.

        “But… but… if you think even one of Rand’s positions is true, you must accept ALL of her ideas as established fact, AND you must proselytize at the drop of a hat…”

          1. My favorite thumbnail review of Rand:
            “I find the prose purple and turgid, the plots hackneyed, the heroes uninspiring and unlikely, and the author’s personal life unworthy of much to emulate. However, the villains in her novels are utterly completely dead on.

            “And my observed experience is that the people who don’t like that last observation, are the kind of people that she is talking about.”

            1. It depends on the book, too.

              I particularly liked “Anthem”. Coincidentally it’s also a short read.

          2. I wanted to finish “Atlas Shrugged” and just couldn’t slog through it.

            Which proves that it isn’t just the left that has competency issues in preaching to the choir.

            1. Anita,

              That is a pity. Galt’s speech at the last of the book is extraordinarily accurate and extremely good. You might want to go back and read the last part of that book.

              1. I have trouble reading Rand, because I’m more sensitive to language than most people because of having had to be AWARE of word choice.
                OTOH my kids loved her work, and so do many dear friends. So I think it’s De Gustibus.

                1. I read Atlas Shrugged as a teenager (around 14). All the way. Part of it was because I prided myself on reading long literary works. (I read War and Peace when I was 10, even though in retrospect I probably understood very little of it.) I do think it probably introduced concepts which only came to full bloom as an adult; all of my other siblings are your typical middle class Dem voters.

                  But I haven’t been able to bring myself to re-read those books. My husband was just defending them. But I think they could have benefited from a compassionate editor, and quite a bit of pruning. There are some really good bits in them, but you really have to slog though a lot of fairly purple prose. And I was never quite satisfied with some of the characters and their relationships.

                  Definitely De Gustibus.

              2. I found an audio book version, read by Edward Herrman. Although abridged (it was on cassette and still required a significant number of those) a very satisfactory means of “reading” the book. As background while driving or engaged in useful but not especially demanding work, Rand’s book proved fairly satisfactory.

                And yes, some portions were very much worth having experienced.

              3. I first read Atlas Shrugged as a graduate student (music major!) and it was an epiphany. So much that had puzzled me for years about the attitudes of students and instructors/professors during college suddenly made sense. And I felt validated in my own resistance to those attitudes. I’ve think I’ve read that book a dozen times in the years since, including the entirety of Galt’s speech. 😉

        1. The Law of Invidious Metonymy applies only to the Right. The craziest position of the out-iest outlier is to be attributed to the entire group.

    1. I used to dream about teaching history. Now I’m pretty glad I didn’t go that way, because with my ideological beliefs, I probably wouldn’t have been able to find/keep a job.

      1. If I had decided to leave behind mathematics, I probably would have gone into history. While I loved the subject, I didn’t take a single class.

        Now, in some ways, I’m glad I didn’t take any history classes. I don’t think I could trust colleges to do it right — not even back then, in the late ’90s and early ’00s.

        1. I took Western Civilization 101 (should have taken US History …) and History of the American Indian (it was mid-’70s 🙂 ). Instructor on first one was nap worthy. Instructor on second one was dang good; did not nap in his class.

        2. I went to Williams College* in the mid-’80s, right when the humanities were infecting the History department with pomo idiocy. There were still plenty of old-school professors around, though, and History majors still had to take an honest-to-god Western Civ class as juniors (we didn’t have to declare majors until end of sophomore year, but most people knew and took classes in their major track before that), and my senior adviser I swear had been a CIA agent in the ’60s.

          (*) Yes, that Williams College. I’m not going to recommend it to my daughter, or to anyone else at this point.

    2. No, she is not wrong. I did get an English Lit degree. However if you can write and are able to persuade even me can get A’s through all of the English classes. I used Jungian archetypes 😀 for all of my literary criticism. What they want is “Marxist” literary critics. There are ways to slide sideways through the minefield. It helps if you are mature and once again a very good writer.

  5. I think there’s an illusion of control too. They genuinely believe that their simple answers are sufficient to manipulate the world. Their failure must be the world’s fault because they are in control. That’s when the killing starts, when the world fails to respond according to their desire.

    1. I have been reminded periodically for years (and daily since November) of an exchange from a webcomic, of all things. Simplified, it’s “$CHARACTER asked me what evil was. All I could think of was ‘hurting people for no reason’.” “No! Evil *always* has reasons. Evil must punish the world for not being the way it is in their head.”

      Here’s the link (*love* me some Digger): .

    2. Yep. Just take a look at John “it’s okay for me to have a private jet and yacht” Kerry showing that he is literally incapable of understanding those who disagree with him and that the left’s “answers” are the only ones that are logical:

      Quote: Kerry said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that he does not “understand the opposition” because Biden’s agenda creates a better “standard of living” and “quality of life.”

      They are so out of touch that they simply are incapable of comprehending anything outside their bubble.

        1. Actually what the left wants to do to those who do not fully conform to their ideology is this:

      1. Well, I don’t understand how Kerry copes outside a mental institution with that sort of limits on his reasoning powers, so that’s only fair.

  6. I’m pretty sure GMMay is a guy.

    I also have a feeling that he may be an older cohort.

    One of the left guys I know is fairly old, and I think a lot of his competence is an artifact of his cultural and formal training still being fairly sound.

    I’m in a training cohort young enough that it was obvious that the formal process was missing stuff.

    Part of the problem I have arguing this is that I know few enough people that I might have to describe the left ones I suspect of competence specifically enough that I might be identified from being in contact.

    And how do I judge someone who clearly has some ability, has a slice of expertise I’m not competent to assess, has an interest where I think they’ve made a fundamental mistake, and also has blindspots (in some cases most likely more extreme versions of shortcomings I have)?

    I dunno.

          1. Arguably, I’m species fluid, in that I do not consistently pretend to be the same thing.

      1. I am younger than fifty.

        But the sixty to eighty cohort is more where I expect to see differences in understanding that are rooted in awareness of more recent generational changes.

        The real issue with my perspective is that I have spent a lot of time self isolated to a significant degree. So I know few people, and forex, the c 70 people I know include a couple who pay attention, and have paid attention fairly well, and a couple who just do not pay attention.

        If I know anyone thirty to fifty with significant infantry experience, I either haven’t heard about the experience, or they don’t know my name. In either case, it is not an example of knowing each other well.

        But, we can infer that infantry experience is going to correlate with some of the competencies that will be important in the boog.

        Regardless of what leftists I know or do not know, my current information is not meaningful for guessing how the boog may go down.

  7. Reading the pulps back in the fifties & sixties, yep a lot of pot boilers and boiler plate but, as you noted competence as well. Much of my dollar a week allowance when I was young, went for 15 cent pulps.

  8. I have noticed that, at least among lefties, having an advanced degree in a subject ( oh, say…computer science), is believed to also confer expertise on economics, climate science, sociology, religion, etc, etc.,…

      1. And the narrower the technical field, the more broadly such people believe that their training applies.
        Training, not education.

    1. Unless the degreed person is disagreeing with climate science, economics, politics, or devoutly religious.

    2. I once read an article that claimed that economists gave forecasts, not because they knew any more about the future than anyone else, but because they were asked.

      1. Good heavens, people have been known to ask SF writers for forecast. And worse, SF writers have been known to give them.

    3. My father’s PhD/D.Sc in slightly esoteric STEM field has definitely given him expert knowledge in all aspects of the arts and humanities. He tried to convince me the library school I was applying to wasn’t any good, because the graduate side of the physics department at said uni wasn’t good.

      He also knows far better than I do how the business world works, having spent his entire life working in the academy. 😛

      1. He also knows far better than I do how the business world works, having spent his entire life working in the academy.

        Obviously! His is a trained analytical mind and he does not suffer from being too close-up to the problem to have perspective.

      1. Chomsky… Outside his field, he’s not nearly as accurate as he is inside it. And as for inside his field… Well, Universal Grammar is a beautiful theory. It just doesn’t seem to be true, is all. And nobody can find that alleged Language Acquisition Device in the brain. But other than that, yeah, he’s awesome. Totally reasonable that you can buy votive candles with his picture.

        1. Interestingly, there’s a company who’s attempting to develop Generalized AI on the basis of his Universal Grammar theory. They’ve actually seen some promising results, though I’m remain unconvinced that GAI is actually possible.

          In any case, knowing what a Looney Tunes he is in general, I was inclined to discount the theory. After seeing their results, I realized that his work, if true, had two implications, both of which I’m sure he’d hate:
          1. Strong correlation to: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”
          2. If language is indeed innate to humans, than humans are exceptional. QED

            1. Chomsky’s “Universal Grammar” turns out to be basic Indo-European with an infinite number of epicycles. And it still can’t describe several known, documented languages. (IIRC some from the Amazon and New Guinea.)

              1. Mostly agree. The theory is disputed (as theories should be), though there are arguments that even those languages you reference work within the theory. Obviously, falsifiability matters…

            2. As a statement of fact about the generally understood meeting of those two words “universal grammar”, you are, of course, completely correct.

              As a (poorly named) theory defined by him and his co-authors, he might actually be on to something.

              The theory, based (believe it or not) on work by Adam Smith, among very many others, depends on the observation that all known human languages share common and definable grammatical elements, though they have (sometimes radically) different grammatical structures. It then adds the observation that children seem to learn languages much more easily and quickly than do adults, and they pick up on most (though not all) of the rules of grammar of the particular without formally being taught.

              Putting those two elements together (along with others), they theorize that the human brain is (quelle suprise!) not, in fact, a tabula rasa, but (more specifically) may be hardwired for acquisition of language.

              That, vastly simplified, was the theory I was referencing above which, if true, has implications I don’t think the theorists would appreciate.

                1. Fair enough. Not even close to my area of expertise. As I said in the first post, I wouldn’t have given it any credence at all, if it weren’t for seeing the interesting results of implementing the theory in AI (which also isn’t my area of expertise, though it’s closer).
                  It’s also possible that he’s right about human brains being “hardwired” for language (I certainly believe they’re “hardwired” for a lot of other things), but completely wrong in his chain of reasoning (which somehow fits, given his other crazy beliefs).
                  See also Galileo. Right about heliocentrism. Mostly wrong about the evidence thereof.
                  I’ll now abandon this chain of posts, which started out as a failed, lighthearted attempt at observational humor. You know what they say about explaining your jokes…

  9. Scott’on’s &Imag’82’s mentions of Rand above reminded my of my son complaining the other day about my savage teenage granddaughter spending to long in the bathroom.

    He: “Hey you got your cell phone in there?”
    She: “Nooooo daddy, I’m reading Ayn Rand!”

    Ruined his planned rant completely. -grin-

      1. On camera in bathroom, don’t know why beyond “look at me!” beating shame. The house my family moved into in 1962 ( me 9) had a basement toilet with a large picture of a camera pointing directly at any user. There was a mirror replacing the lens. Amusing if you are 9 years old, but also very creepy.

      2. *dry* It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t think about what you’re doing, or the possible consequences.

      3. OK, I’ll ‘plain: Say you’re a teenager, say your folks say no cell phone ’till works done! Don’t you think all teens understand the one place in the house where parents might not be aware they’re on the phone with their friends?

        1. In retail it’s a big thing. It’s the only place where there aren’t any cameras. The Loo Text.

  10. My wife (elementary teacher) keeps getting told by her bosses that, “rote memorization doesn’t work.” But you know what else doesn’t work? Not having an idea of basic facts! It doesn’t really matter what the not new strategy in math is if you don’t know 3X7=21, or that while C and K can sometimes have the same sound, they are not interchangeable.

    1. It’s the only thing that works. Seriously. It’s boring and annoying, but it works. It’s been used from time immemorial because it works.
      So, for instance, I still do my math in in Portuguese because that’s how I memorized the multiplication tables, and the memory goes deep.
      BUT more importantly:
      So, my family has always been good at languages, though “good” varies. I’m not naturally good at languages, so it takes a ton of work. In this, I think I’m like dad. Brother can pick up a language on the fly.
      So, my kids went into French…. And were having As and Bs but couldn’t speak it.
      And I was baffled.
      Then I looked at the teaching. NO ONE TAUGHT THEM THE BASICS.
      As older son’s IB exam approached (graded in France) I KNEW he was going to fail hard.
      So over summer, I made him memorize verbs, vocabulary and grammar. I found my old books, and followed the first year program.
      Second month, I bought mysteries in French and had him read it to internalize the structure.
      Suddenly, my son was fluent in French, after years of learning and not being able to say “where is the cat.”
      We often spoke French in the grocery store, to the confusion of neighbors. AND he passed his final exam with As.
      Was there whining and gnashing of teeth over memorization? Well, now! OF course there was.
      I never managed to corner his brother and do the equivalent, because he wasn’t in IB.

      1. That’s also my observation. There’s nothing like rote memorization for getting a skill filed away in your head so you can instantly call upon it. “Fun learning” never achieves that. We understand that to, say, become good at shooting hoops you need to shoot a lot of hoops using a consistent approach, and train that muscle memory, so why do we think the brain’s reflex-memory is so different?

        Speaking from under my mentor-and-editor hat, I’ve noticed that when a writer has a lot of trouble getting words to fit together properly, it’s a good indicator that no one ever beat grammar into their heads via all that boring repetitious stuff we did in middle school (or in the schools I went to, from 4th through 12th grades as a required subject). When grammar is second nature, sentence structure is pretty much effortless. But when it’s not, they have to WORK at getting every sentence to sound right.

        There’s a sharp divide at past perfect tense. Those who had that training in grammar use it; those who didn’t — don’t.

        1. In my 9th grade year the Jacksonville, FL school system “integrated,” the faculties of the junior and senior high schools…..IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. Yes, they pulled teachers out of classes and swapped them around in midstream. So I found myself with brand-new and black English and Civics teachers.

          I’m sorry to say my fellow students put the Civics teacher in the hospital (stress), as they blamed her for our losing the teacher they liked. Which I knew was wrong at the time. (I bucked the flow at least slightly, which earned me a chunk of honey candy stuck in my hair).

          The English teacher was male. All he did for the rest of the year was cover grammar and have us diagram sentences. Over and over and over. Now I’m grateful.

          1. If I ever diagrammed sentences, I don’t remember doing it. What I do know is how to make a sentence that conveys exactly what I want to say. I suspect that is a result of all the millions of words I have read by hundreds of different authors, so that now I think in grammatically complete sentences. I know from long experience what makes sense, and what does not.

            1. 12th grade advanced grammar in Stow Ohio. Diagram till your eyes bleed.
              G-d Bless Mrs. Kaufman who can’t possibly be alive anymore. As far as I know SOME grammar, it’s her doing.

              1. I had decent English teachers in high school, and 1960s teaching included sentence diagramming. I’ve probably forgotten much, but aside from overuse of parenthetical phrases and a tendency to commit run-on sentences, I think most of it took. Thank you Mrs. Shaw and the others whose names escape me. “I have a mind like a steel trap. It’s rusty, though.”

                For what it’s worth, getting through the ham radio licensing courses is an exercise in memorization. Things like “what is an allowed frequency for phone on 80 meters?” isn’t something that is going to be answered with anything but burned-in memory. I’ve finished the Technician and General texts (ARRL, both available for Kindle if you don’t want dead-tree), and am taking the hamstudy dot org tests daily. Some days, more often. Got 97% on Technician this morning, and my first-ever 100% on the General. Woo-Hoo!

                I’ll take both the Tech and General tests mid-February, and expect to pass both with flying colors. OTOH, I’m not going to mess with the Extra ticket until I have the first two. I’ve glanced at those questions, and some of them cover areas I’m familiar with, but a lot is going to be new.

                1. My spouse spent two weeks drilling the question pools and went from zero to Extra. So it’s doable.

                  Big difference from when I climbed up to Extra Class. 5 license tests plus code tests. Plus no easy to use software for practice tests.

                  The fun part is learning to really learn radio and spending the rest of your life mastering it. The test are just a beginning, gaining real knowledge and expertise takes some time.

                  And the best thing about amateur radio is that the very easy to pass tests keep almost all of the skin-suiters out of the hobby. Add in the cost and time to get proficient plus the fact that if you have five hams in room, you have 18 different opinions. The culture is alien to the left.

                  Eventually government and big business will probably shut down ham radio in the future.

                  1. For me, it might be doable, but I *need* the General ticket (the Technician bands are medium useless for where the house is). I want the Extra, but it can wait a bit.

                    The next test slot is in 2.5 weeks. I’d rather be sure of passing T & G. This morning’s practice, I missed more questions on the Technician than the General. Yeah, both over 90%, but I’m using memorization skills I haven’t needed in a long time. I’d rather hit a double than strike out going for a homer. There’s enough new material in the Extra (or material I haven’t seen in almost 50 years) that I’d rather study at my leisure.

                    (Also not sure how long the process will take. There’s a two hour slot for the test session(s).)

                    1. Do you know what they call the guy who gets 74% on his technician test? A ham.

                      Anything more than that doesn’t make you a better ham. I barely squeaked by the advanced test. A perfect score might cause the VE test team to comment, because they’re pretty rare, but that’s about it. Speaking as a Volunteer Examiner, doing a test typically takes between a half hour and 45 minutes, most of which is taken up by the filling out of the paperwork and having three people score the exams and verify their results. People who pass with high scores tend to finish filling out their test before those who don’t pass.

                      I don’t know how it is done where you are getting tested, but when I was actively proctoring ham testing we always encouraged people to try tests that they hadn’t prepared for because it doesn’t cost you anything but time and you never know if your guessing skills will be sufficient.

                      I strongly recommend you skim over the extra material and take the extra practice test a couple of times before going back to preparing for tech and general. If you they allow you to try, and if you don’t have to pay a fee to take the extra test, too, then give it a shot. The worst that can happen is you walk out with a general.

                    2. I’ll keep it in mind. I can do the Technician test in 10 minutes, and the 91% was the worst I did. 20 minutes for the General seems most common.

                      I want to spend a bit more time on the memorization elements (FCC regulations, standard ham practice). When I feel comfortable, I’ll start with Extra. I’m staying in town that night (home is 40 miles away, and I loathe night driving), so if there’s time, I can try it. If not, the March session would make for an easier drive.

                    3. OK, I took your advice. Flopped on the first try (72%), but this morning I spent an hour on HamStudy dot org. Took the test this afternoon and pulled a 94%. OK, I am a (very rusty) electrical engineer, so a lot of the theory wasn’t new, just had lain dormant for quite a few decades. FWIW, I find that site to be really helpful in preparing for the test. Between the ARRL license manuals and that site, it makes it straightforward.

                      It took 20 minutes this pass, so if there is time, I can try. I have no idea how long it would take to grade and do the paperwork, though I suppose there’s a fair amount of “it depends”.

                      Got my FRN from the FCC so that might speed things up a smidge.

                      Thanks for the nudge!

              2. My only real struggles in English class were lie vs. lay (because honestly, not a priority in Midwestern English), and diagramming sentences (because I knew how to define all the parts of a sentence and how to fit them together, but I couldn’t remember what little line meant what). So they pretty much left me alone and threw advanced novels at me, and I wrote papers and passed tests.

                But knowing the parts of a sentence is really, really important in learning foreign languages. Even if the grammar of that language is dramatically different from English or Latin, it’s a place to start.

                Also, people need to have a look at the inner workings of their own language, even if it’s necessarily partial and only hits the high points. (Because otherwise you get that 2000 page linguistics of English grammar book, and that way lies madness.) And yes, they need to know enough grammar to say what they want to say, and not say what they don’t.

              3. In the introduction to The Scarlet Letter (which we studied in 7th grade), there is a sentence three pages long in very small paperback print. Having just learned sentence diagramming, and noting the parallel with my also-newly-learned basic algebra, I took a notion to diagram this monster.

                Despite its heft, it proved entirely grammatically correct.

                And yes, I thought this was fun, why do you ask? 😀

                1. A kindred soul! We too had diagramming in seventh grade, and I thought it was fun to do the first sentence of “Lancelot and Elaine.” It used up most of a legal pad and I “turned in” the homework by taping the pages along the wall in the hallway.

                  A lot of my teachers back then really didn’t like me, and in retrospect I can sort of understand that.

                  1. Oho… I love you 😀

                    I had very good teachers all through school, and their response to students enamored of such weird projects was… rampant encouragement. 😀

                2. By the time a sentence has rambled on for 60 or 70 words, I generally reach a point where all I can think is, “Enough already, put the poor thing out of its misery — and mine!”

                  Sadly, run-on sentences are rarely the only grammatical crime such writers commit.
                  Dayna: “Don’t you ever get tired of being right all the time?”
                  Avon: “No, I get tired of other people being wrong.”

                  1. Amazingly, my target was not a run-on sentence. The way they’d taught diagramming, it was a tool to evaluate structure… so I did. I’d really expected to find it was messed up, but it wasn’t. Now, imagine the mind that can nest that much into a single structure…

                  2. Now, now — a run-on is a specific kind of grammatical error. And those sentences are often marvels of grammatical correctness — they are just hard to read.

            2. I’m one who can (if I have access to a cheat sheet of the format) diagram a sentence. But, having done so, it tells me NOTHING about how to write it correctly. Just doesn’t work on my thinking to improve my written work.
              I’m an “organic” English writer. I’ve read widely enough, for sufficient years, that I’ve developed an unconscious sense of how the written word should ‘sound’. I may not be able to give the breakdown of why a sentence is wrong, but I can tell that it is clumsy, and re-write it, no problem.

          1. Here’s my problem. I learned NYT Manual for typesetting, then MLA for English Lit, and then APA for my science papers. By then my punctuation and sentence formatting is now so mixed… I just go for it and hope I don’t annoy too many people. 😀

                  1. When I was in the middle of chemo about a year after that German class, I couldn’t put English sentences in the proper order. So yea– Plus I spent 4.5 weeks in a German hospital– so I was pretty fluent in medical speech by the end of it. That is now 18 years ago so I’ve lost it all. Apparently I came home to my brother’s house and spoke mostly Germany (chemo/prednisone does a number on your head) and my hubby had to tell me to speak English. So now I only speak German when I am half out of my head.

              1. Try the 40 or 50 different computer languages I’ve had to use extensively in my life. And the different versions of each. Not to mention the many variations of SQL or variations of different Unixy systems.

                Plus to try communicate with a Babel of co-workers from around the world.

                It’s amazing anything works at all.

                1. It’s amazing anything works at all.

                  I haven’t worked with the broad range of computer languages or databases or different OS varieties you have. But I’ve dealt with my share. I’m sure you have too, but haven’t mentioned just upgrading tools, especially when TPTB just had to save money. The screech when they find out that v21, is sooo not fully backward compatible with v5. Nor will some of the integrated required tools even work with the new version; there are no upgrades to those tools because the industry dropped them. Yet the upgrade can’t be put off anymore because the software in question is one Window upgrade from “Sorry. Not supported.” crash. Then there are Hundreds of programs and dozen libraries that have to be converted. The point where “Is it going to be easier to start with a new tool?” Even with the shear number of programs involved.

            1. Yes, seems like every different level of school required a different format. It’s one of the reasons why I gave up writing for awhile. It wasn’t fun anymore.

          2. My grandfather did his BA in English (I think) and then started a Master’s degree. This would be around the mid-’20s as he was born in 1904. Sometime in the first or second semester during a seminar the professor held up grandpa’s latest paper and announced: “Mr. Eberhard has a unique method of punctuation. He writes his papers without any, tapes the pages to wall, and (indication of splattering ink with a fountain pen). If the dot runs it’s a comma, if it doesn’t, it’s a period.”

            Grandpa decided that maybe he wasn’t cut out to be an academic, at least in English, and applied to med school.

        2. …or they moved between different school systems that used different books, or the one they were in changed the books, but the teachers kept teaching the old grammar anyway.

          A couple rounds of that, and the concept of “correct” grammar is risible. You can either just a gut trying to keep up, or just say to hell with it and ignore the New One True Way.

      2. As far as I know, everybody does arithmetic in the language in which they learned it. I used to think that my having to switch back to English for arithmetic problems was just a feature of my not being good enough in various secondary languages. But then I noticed that people who spoke English as a second language totally fluently still had to switch back into whatever language they’d used to memorize their times tables. The strangest example was a Hungarian engineer who had fled with his family at the end of the war. He was fluent in Hungarian and English, and Hungarian was indisputably his first language… but even when speaking Hungarian, he switched to German for arithmetic. See, he’d gone to primary school in Germany…

        1. I saw that too. I knew a woman who fled Honduras (academic class). She worked in retail and doing accounting and cash back, she had to do it in Spanish. Her English was fluent.

      3. One of the nasty little secrets of rote memorization is that the more of it you do, the easier it gets.

        For athletes, musicians, and others the equivalent of rote memorization is muscle memory: once your muscles have learned a move it is no longer necessary to “think” about what you are doing. The best example of this I ever heard was a musician (Son Seals, if memory serves) who, on announcing his intention to be a Blues guitarist was ordered by his father to practice every day until when his mind thought a chord his hands played it – without thinking the component notes, fretting or other elements.

        This is, of course, the essence of the famous Karate Kid “Wax on, Wax off” instructional arc. I Karate there isn’t time to think about blocking a punch, just as in dance there is not time to think how to Demi-Plié

        1. Begin in first position.
        2. Bend with your toes.The demi-plié or half bend refers to the bending of the knees, so you need to lower yourself by bending at the knees.
        3. Keep your heels planted.
        4. Rise slowly and gracefully.
        5. Return to first position.

        rather, to think it is to do it.

        The more you practice rote memorization, the easier it becomes to build on such skills. Eventually you build with sub-routines like the Demi-Plié and no longer have to memorize the individual steps of those routines.

        1. Oh, also: write your own damned diatribe about the Left’s hostility toward “skill” in the Arts. I’m tired.

          1. At one time I calligraphed and painted mediaeval manuscript pages as a hobby. A friend who also did that commented that ” as an artist, you are a good engineer. ”
            My mind demands a more formal symmetry, and a balance of positive and negative spaces, within the appropriate historical context.
            And yes, repetition/ memorization/ internalization is absolutely necessary to get the mechanics of the art out of the way of the creativity.

        2. One reason it gets easier, I think, is because it trains your brain how to store and organize data for easy retrieval.

          Another element to rote learning: reciting it aloud AND writing it out by hand, over and over. This uses a brain pathway that is different from what we use when reading or typing (which seems to bypass the speech center), and seems to “set” the information in your head in a way that other methods do not.

          Here’s an example: Friend studied hard (by repeatedly reading the booklet) but could NOT pass the written driver test. Was getting like 50% wrong, so basically guessing. So I made her COPY it all out in longhand. The whole booklet. Next time she passed with a score of 100%.

        1. Do not get me started. I will just say, when high school students are going “wait a minute, what?” the efforts are a wee bit too obvious.

      1. The TL;DR version of that article:

        If you teach kids stuff, they’ll learn stuff.

        If you stand around expecting knowledge to be absorbed into them by magic, they won’t.

    2. But if you *feel* strongly enough that 3×7=22, then obviously there’s nothing wrong with that…

      It makes me wonder how those people deal with reality-as-we-know-it. “I gave you a $20 for a $6 purchase, and you only gave me $4 back. Where’s my other $10”?

      “I *feel* 20-6=4, therefore you got the correct change.”

        1. Ah, the FIU bridge. My engineering screwups never hurt or killed anybody, but following that fiasco was one hell of a rabbit hole.

          Sadly, that was a designer who drank his own koolaid about how good he was. It was a piddly pedestrian bridge, so he phoned it in. Suspicions are that he delegated it to Very Junior Designer, who was paying more attention to the computer than to his book learning (if he had any; I’m not feeling charitable). When things started to go pear-shaped (several days before the span was placed), the issues were ignored. When the span started making serious “I’m falling” noises before the fatal day, the issues were flat blown off.

          Afterward, they combined blaming everybody else for the disaster along with covering up evidence. Sticking your phone in the washing machine isn’t going to convince many people of your innocence… Haven’t followed the aftermath for a few months, but there were suspicions that it was an extinction-level event for the design company. OTOH, arrogance and incompetence is popular in DC right now…

            1. Henry Petrosky covered that collapse along with others (Tacoma Narrows bridge–that was shown in the required Introduction to Engineering course at U of Redacted in 19mumble). The book he did on that is fascinating; seems to be still in print and on Kindle:

              To Engineer is Human

              I don’t know all the thinking behind the Hyatt Regency fiasco, but part of it was due to a design that should never have made it past first order review. It’s been a while, but I recall the original design using support rods several stories long with nuts placed in the strategic locations for the various support points. It would have been possible to fabricate such rods, but hideously expensive, so various people made changes to do the job, each of which seemed to have no impact in themselves, but in total created a disaster waiting to happen.

              Part of the FIU fiasco was that the bridge was designed as two separate sections, to be built and installed in sequence. The design review (such as it was) evaluated the entire design, but neglected the fact that the first section was going to be in place long before the pieces that would have made it stable. There simply wasn’t enough steel in the right place to support the interim load. As I recall, the bridge failed a few days after being placed, while workers were trying to patch the problem. At it stands, the patch work was precisely the wrong thing to do. OTOH, the only safe thing to do would have been to remove that section and start over.

              It’s worth noting that the Engineer of Record did *not* do a face-to-crack visual inspection of the problem area before heading back to the main office.

            1. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t. A woman was head of the construction team building the thing, and a woman (Linda Figg) heads the design firm, but Denney Pate gets to own the liability all by himself.

              The Figg company was trying to blame the construction company for not roughening a part of the joint that failed, but that was grasping at straws.

              There’s a couple hundred more posts on this in Eng-tips since the last time I looked. Might be time to go down that rabbit hole again.

          1. And the design company was so proud of their diversity that they bragged about it on camera just hours before the bridge fell.

            “Oh My…”

            1. I thought it was MCU, the contractor, not the designers. The structural engineering community pretty clearly set the blame on the designer.

              1. Along with at LEAST a manslaughter charge for the site manager who didn’t block off the dam street.

                  1. No, not blocking off the street is all his. He should have done it on his own hook and told the designer: “Fine, you give me a signed and witnessed order to allow normal traffic through a construction zone under an object which may fall. Otherwise, that street will be closed one way or another.”

                    1. I’m going to chalk a lot of this to a multipartyfuckup. I seem to recall multiple parties in the fateful meeting, including the Engineer of Record, the contractor, and a rep from Florida DOT. Not sure if FIU was there; the details are in the discussion threads; all 15 parts. (It’s pretty much a thick(!) novel’s worth of info.)

                      Part of the deal was FIU trying to show off the universitiy’s Accelerated Bridge Construction technique, which was (as one of its goals), to minimize traffic disruption. There was a lot of pressure to keep the road rolling. And yeah, the use of that technique also contributed to the disaster, in a few ways. (Too many elements to go into; the technique might have merit, but the downsides of it are now pretty clear.)

                      I’m not sure a DA or state’s attorney in Florida is going to want to open that particular can of worms. OTOH, I’m sure the tort lawyers are having fun. I think the contractor went bankrupt; Figg (design engineers) is still slinging BS. Not sure if FIU (public U, I think) or FDOT could be sued.

                      FWIW, interview transcripts are starting to come out. Haven’t spent much time on them. Excerpts on the Eng-tips forum.

        2. Look for more of these as engineering follows the rest of academia into darkness.

    3. It is probably a not good idea to inquire after the research supporting that conclusion.

      The only way I can see that rote memorization does not work depends a definition of “work” wholly at odds with the putative purpose of education.

      1. THESE Educrats keep reinventing the wheel by ignoring suppressing the history of wheels.

        Fixed that for you.

    4. And here is my biggest worry about the Next Generation Science Standards: That’s wonderful that the kids will(?) all(??) learn to think(?) like scientists. But are they going to actually know any scientific facts, or will they just be fully qualified to go out and rediscover scientific principles for themselves? It strikes me as too much like teaching them to derive the Pythagorean Theorem, not how to use it. And when I ask people teaching science or researching science education about this, the responses are a mix of surprise (as if that were the first time the issue had been raised) and uncertainty.

  11. When you take a course to pass the test, you can forget everything after you pass the test. You don’t have to learn anything. So some of this is the credential thing. Once you get the credential…

    The other is the 1984 thing. It is dangerous to remember that the current “past” is different from the past “past”. That is likely to get you sent to the reeducation camp. So revealing you know too much can be dangerous. See also, “the nail that sticks up is driven down”.

    The best way to understand our enemies is that they are members of a cult. So competence is not important, as long as you “love to carry manure to the mountain top for the good of the commune.”

    We are tribal. They need the approval of their tribe.

    1. They erase the history of the very groups they claim to champion to make their accomplishments look better.

      Charles Curtis, anyone?

  12. “But it is a lot like what happens when “advancing women’s rights” women get hired into a field or take it over. Instead of being passionately interested in the THING be it games, or sf books, or whatever it is they’re messing with this week, they’re passionately interested in “cause.”” There is a nonpolitical variant (at least, not directly political) that I’ve observed in some recent graduates with advanced degrees, whether that degree be an MBA or a Computer Science degree. The syndrome is that the abstractly imagined position of the business on the BCG 4-quadrant strategic matrix (stars, cows, dogs, question marks) is more ‘real’ to them than the actual, tangible characteristics of the business itself (in the case of the MBA), or that writing the software according to the latest academically-approved forms of coolness is more important than actually solving the business task that needs to be done (in the case of the CS guy)

    1. Thomas Sowell discusses this in Intellectuals and Society, observing that for intellectuals the “elegance”: of a solution is often more important than the effectiveness.

      This is what underlines the oft-made quip, “Sure, it works in Practice, but does it work in Theory?”

  13. People are not even being hired now simply because they have the right beliefs, but because of their skin color, and who they do or do not want to have sex with. I follow some YouTube channels whose authors talk about comics; I don’t really care much about comics, but I enjoy listening to them talk about good storytelling. The author who got picked to write a new Iron Heart comic book series was chosen because she *looked like* the character. She may or may not have been an effective writer in her previous experience, which was writing books for teens, but she knew nothing about writing comics, and it showed.

  14. Don’t you know that Competence is a WHITE MALE IDEA that is used to further the oppression of Women and POC! It stands in the way of hiring people, just like the SAT and ACT tests stand in the way of POC and Women getting into the BEST Universities. It MUST be done away with so that the WHITE MAN can be taken down, to stop him from OPRESSING ALL Others!!!
    YOU are one of those Multiracial/Multicultural White Supremist that believe in Color Blindness and that People should be judged by their Character not by the Color of their skin or anything else. How DARE you support such depraved and racist ideas. You are a terrorist, You MUST be CANCELED!! SREEEEE………, You are NOT of the BODY!!! YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!!! Exterminate. Exterminate. EXTERMINATE!!

  15. I also know competent lefties. The problem is their competence tends to be narrow, and often without good foundations. So when things go pear-shaped, they’re likely to fail completely, rather than just needing a bit more work like when our side fails.

    They also tend to be more interested in how their success makes them feel, rather than in what value that success has. Which is pretty much the inverse of our reason for competence.

  16. I don’t remember the name of the class, but there was one college course for which I had to do an organizational audit of sorts, for an organization I was part of. I figured it would be more useful to do it for the Honors Program than for the improv group, so I surveyed everybody, came up with the conclusion that the major communications issue had to do with certain expectations not being expressed clearly, and suggesting there be a handout of a few pages to let new students know about the retreats, the expectations for use of the Honors house, and a few other minor details.

    Which the Honors Program director then turned into a 40-60 page manual full of quotes and fluff. I ended up apologizing to everybody (which mostly garnered a response about the director’s known tendencies to obfuscation, as well as his mythical office hours.)

    At least I got to do the reverse a couple of years later, taking a 60 page handbook for another group and boiling it down to 14-15 pages.

  17. Thanks Sarah! Your give me hope (long term) for the future! I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a triad for people: 1) Intelligence, 2) Memory and 3) Wisdom. People with good memories are also really good at faking Intelligence. Often smart people have bad memories and come off at “absent minded”. But the most dangerous people are those with high levels of intelligence and memory skills but no wisdom. I can design a perfect society in my mind but people never behave the way I want them too – so fire up the ovens!

  18. I’m going to step back and say this is not a Marxist problem per se, but a capture problem.

    Why was American national politics so broken coming into the 90s? In large part because one party dominated Congress for six decades. Everyone, even their nominal opponents, though it was the proper order of things. When Gingrich put together the Contract with America (still the single best campaign of my life…yes, better than Trump 2016) he overthrew the nature order. That was kinda okay the first two years because the GOP got Congress for two 2 year cycles in 46 and 52. When he was re-elected it really broke the Dems.

    But there were other issues. The GOP, as a whole, did not know how to be in the majority and the Dems, as a whole, did not know how to be in the minority. Neither side behaved like they’d won, because they didn’t know how.

    There are tales that Bob Michaels told incoming GOP House members they would learn to get up, look in the minor, and say, “Today I am going to lose”. A not insignificant part of the GOP acts this way to this day. The Dems do the opposite.

    In the end that has nothing to do with party. It has to do with generations learning “how the world worked”.

    So, no, in publishing doing surveys is not Management 101 because management has been controlled by the same mindset for $FOO years. There was not Jack Welch or Steve Jobs or even Bill Gates to disrupt how things were done (don’t sell Gates short…his genius was business…he brought sex to computers even though two others had good shots before him). You can go 20 years without a Gingrich and you’re fine once he comes along because the “this is always the way” doesn’t bridge generations without a fight.

    You wait 60 and you’re doomed to fights for at least two more as the rot works its way out.

    You wait 90? The patient is not going to recover. It’s time for palliative care.

    But it is not inherent to Marxism. So just thing because the Marxists in power can’t run things that there are not individual Marxists competent enough to be the next Stalin.

    1. herbs — you’re neglecting Gingrich secret weapon: the roll out of FNC by CDs, which Tim Groseclose used to help discover that the success that Rs had was the result of Reagan’s alt voices in the 1980s, and led to his analysis that Left leaning “journalism” gave Ds an 8% advantage in national political campaigns.

      Quite a first rate scholarly career — until PC mobs at UCLA led him to the safer realm of GMUs econ Dept.

      1. I wasn’t neglecting it so much as subsuming it into the broader story.

        That MSM advantage is yet another part of have domination leading to not knowing how to act when you didn’t have it. FNC was the boogy man for 20 years because leftists just didn’t know how to deal with non-lap dog press. Republicans had to learn that to survive.

  19. Competence also seems to go with “will this kill people/send sewage spewing over the carpet” types of fields. If the wages of failure are death, dismemberment, blacking out a state, having to clean human waste out of the carpet, people seem a lot less pie-in-the-sky. Not that they won’t incline left, but the guys in the trenches or running the wires are a lot more realistic about the world. Academics, “artistic types,” and others who have not learned how to function in the market? Ah, yes, don’t get me started.

    “A competence” used to mean, among other things, having enough land to support yourself and your family, OR having a trade and skills (and tools) to be able to support yourself and your family. If you had a competence, you were not beholden to anyone but the market, and you could vote as you saw fit rather than how your employer demanded.

  20. I was right on the line and was lucky to get one of those competent teachers in 1st grade. However, I still have problems with “to be” verbs. This might have to do with where I grew up. It also has to do with the schooling I received after 1st grade. I was bored for the rest of the time I was in school until 7th grade. I learned more when I took extension services from the colleges. I wished I’d gotten my degree then (in the early 80s) because when I went back in the late nighties the college courses were on a high school level. I was also a mature student (38-40) and ended up being the valedictorian. On graduation day I was accosted by parents who asked how I got it and I must have had an “in.” Not that I went to all of my classes and did the work.

    So I know that I am not competent as competent as my grandparents. I felt that when they took Latin, higher mathematics, and classical history that they gutted the schools. We now see caste system schools.

    1. Marxist thought is never competent. I took a course in Marxist Economics. It was all building castles in the air, with no relevance to the real world. But the methods could be memorized and spouted back. The key to the course was to never state what I actually thought.

    2. After 11+ years of university and 4 degrees, I ended going back to school a few years ago for a career change, and started with an Associate’s degree. At least I got out of the English courses, but discovered that I could write a five or six page ‘research’ paper worth over a quarter of the class grade (“please use at least five sources.” ?!?!? That’s a research paper? Even at undergrad level?) in less than two days and get marked 100. I never enjoyed writing papers, and I was never very good at it during my previous schooling.
      Now maybe after 15 years away from it all, I had miraculously integrated everything I’d supposedly learned over the years and could finally put it to use, or else grading had gone way downhill.
      I suspect the latter.
      Right now I’m in a grad school program and writing roughly a paper a week, each worth 10 or 20 % of the course grade. I find it very easy, and I can only assume it’s that I’m very much an ‘older’ student and did my initial education back when they still actually taught stuff.

        1. My second degree was 32 years ago (kid will be 32 years old June, graduated 8 days before he was born, so easy to remember 🙂 ). Being older did help compared to the degree gotten 10 years prior to that. I still remember the feeling on one final. Walked out feeling pretty good about the test. Wasn’t as hard as expected … I’m sure everyone knows that drill. Only to hear a group, who I had every reason to believe should have found the test as easy or easier than I did, complaining about how hard it was. I pulled an A out of the class so never did find out specific grade gotten on that final (didn’t ask). Had to have done well as I was sitting on at most B+ going in. To have pulled a full A, had to have done 95% or better. The feeling had happened before. But the result was exactly the opposite of what had happened in the past. In the past had the same scenario occurred, almost a guaranty I had tanked the test along with my class grade. (Being pregnant wasn’t it. This was the spring before.) Is it age. Topic. Don’t know.

          1. Being older did help

            Being older often (but not always, as discussed elsewhere this blog post) often entails the ability to recognize when one has shoved one’s head up one’s fundamental assumptions (“Sniff! This smells familiar … dark, warm, kind of comfy … OH! I recognize this place!) and extract it before it becomes stuck in place.

            I confess that as an older student one of my after-finals exercises was to go around my professors and, if they permitted, review my test paper in order to see where I had missed, determine whether it was an actual error, a mental glitch, and trivial of substantive. That helped ensure that my take-away from a class did not bite my bum i subsequent work.

            Given the amount invested in a final I saw no reason to not make it a learning experience.

            1. I was usually the oldest person in my Master’s classes. I don’t remember which class it was now, but we had somehow gotten on the subject of ambitions and motivations for what to do with the degree. The younger students (upper 20s, low 30s, mostly married and working) all talked about “satisfaction,” being the most important aspect of the careers they were planning. I spoke up and said I had been raised with the standard of, “Does it pay enough to pay the bills?” and,” Is it a steady and reliable paycheck,” being the most important aspects of a job. They looked at me as though I had two heads. The professor, an older man, said, “Your parents grew up in the Depression.” And when I said yes, he added, “We understand.”

              1. I got serious about an Masters in Education when I found out that the investment would be paid off in the increase in 4 short years. Everything after that was gravy. Made a profit of about 60K by the time I retired.
                And, as I’m a science teacher, about 1/2 the cost was born by others (lots of free classes offered for STEM teachers).

              2. “Does it pay enough to pay the bills?” and,” Is it a steady and reliable paycheck,” being the most important aspects of a job. They looked at me as though I had two heads. The professor, an older man, said, “Your parents grew up in the Depression.” And when I said yes, he added, “We understand.”

                I would agree. But that isn’t enough. Enough for that job. But not to wed yourself to that career or company. Both or either can evaporate. Then people just give up and become bitter. I know of people who I have worked with that did exactly that. Yes. They were old enough to get caught in the *age discrimination loop (discussed a lot already in various discussions here). They are younger than I am. They had to option of moving (maybe didn’t want to, but they had the option). I didn’t. I found work in the field I was in locally. I never gave up. I never got bitter. Got discouraged, regularly. But refused to give up**.

                * In the computer industry anyone over 30 is “too experienced”, I was 30 before I started.
                ** I might be stubborn that way.

                1. I gave up and got bitter, both. But I also quit looking for work where it wasn’t going to materialize.

                  1. I gave up and got bitter, both. But I also quit looking for work where it wasn’t going to materialize.

                    I’m sorry. You are so not alone. I came close.

                    1. Thank you. It always hurts to admit it.

                      I didn’t stay there. I just had to admit I *was* there in order to stop falling and start climbing.

            2. Yes. Most of my professors allowed me to submit my research papers a little early so I could correct any glaring errors. Most students didn’t do that because they were always writing their papers a day or two before the deadline.

  21. Great post and excellent analysis. Weighing in with the thought that most competence comes not just from discipline and training (necessary conditions)but from outlook and character. It struck me in Time enough for love that Heinlein’s description of what a human was and should be is apt for this discussion. When I first read that a million years ago I already had examples in my observable world that that was the way to actually be.
    My dad and his friends were all engineers. High energy physics, guidance system design, ballistics etc. Everyone of them had a DEEP in the bones comprehension of REALITY. How the world actually worked. Everyone of them could tackle any real world problem, ie tear apart an outboard motor, a winch on the sailboat, car engine etc. All of them were generalist first that then specialized. I set that in my mind and have mentored and trained to that standard. As a result my family is very well prepared. We can cover so many disciplines at a generalist solve the problem level it is scary. Most of that comes from an attitude and idea that being human we can figure it out.
    The character part comes into it when challenged Basically never give in. Face it square on and do what is needed.
    Personally could not stand the Mensa crowd. Okay smart but most could not DO anything. Depressing.

  22. When I was searching for an occupation where I could use the mathematics I had learned (There are few things more useless than a half-trained mathematician), I encountered a professor who admitted that college mathematics departments were mostly for the purpose of training mathematics professors. After a few bruising encounters with professors of logic who were more interested in getting tenure, or getting published, than in reading or discussing my findings, I have come to the rather jaundiced conclusion that higher education is more about creating self-perpetuing cliques of elites who only talk to one another than anything else. Not my tribe.

    1. I think you’re 100% correct about academia, and to a certain extent that actually is its purpose.

      Eric Weinstein talks about the postwar academic model assumes infinite expansion: professor teaches ten students, those ten students become professors and teach ten students each, those hundred students…

      And since around 1970 (I think he’s too early, I would say 1990) that model ran out of room and has turned academia into the mess we have now: too many half-educated graduates unleashed on the world, too many PhDs forced into low-paying adjunct roles.

  23. It has to do with priorities. Leftism is a religion, just as Christianity once imagined the most important component of anything was propagation of Christian Faith, so Leftists place preaching their creed above all else. Competence for them is a tool, useful to the extent it furthers their primary aim. This is also why Leftism is a variant of nepotism: people are hired/promoted based on reliability more then competence.

    For Conservatives, generally, competence is a goal, not an instrument. So there are no distractions from its pursuit, no values trumping competence in hiring and promotion. This is important for complex organizations which demand a high level of attention to maintain proper function. A nuclear reactor, jet airplane or aircraft carrier group do not care if the operators are zealous in anything except the primary task of keeping the item functioning – and demand such a high level of competence that attention to anything else produces failure.

    For the Left competence is a means to an end, for the Right it is an end in itself. This follows from the Left being a proselytizing creed while the Right is more of a “Get off my lawn” creed. For the Right a well told story is a thing in and of itself; for the Left a story is not well told unless it preaches the one true faith.

  24. my blog friend had just commented that she finally figured out the pattern behind the selection of Biden appointees. He (or whoever is pulling his strings) is picking high ranking Dems with literally no history of accomplishments for the new job field. Buttigieg for Transpo. Peppermint Psaki “I’ll circle back on that” Press Sec. Dr Tranny “let me rescue *my* mom from the nursing home before locking everyone elses’s parents in with plague carriers as Health Sec. Gov Raimondo of RI, ranked 50th statefor business friendliness, as Commerce Sec.
    A Cabinet of Incompetents. Almost as if the admin is designed to fail. Why?

    1. From a certain perspective that makes perfect sense. 1) They think they are the experts as they have never been adequately challenged. 2) Stems from attitude of complete opposition to anything Trump tried to do. 3) Fits the goal of crashing the USA.

      Must remember that we humans are collateral damage and of no account. The purpose is to destroy. What they seem to forget (or never knew) is that humans will fight back. They are ill prepared for that, though they think they have it all wrapped up with the in our face election steal. I keep seeing articles about the “unintended consequences” of this EO or that EO and how people may be harmed. HaHa. They are INTENDED. They just don’t want us to notice!

      This will not end well. I suspect that they will be frighteningly competent at the destruction. What galls me so much is the arrogance.

      1. From a certain perspective that makes perfect sense. 1) They think they are the experts as they have never been adequately challenged.

        See also: “A Good Manager Can Manage Anything” Fallacy.

        1. I’ll have you know that my management ability never gets worse no matter what I apply it to.

          (Yeah, yeah, in all seriousness, for all that I am not a leader or a manager or an organizer, there’ve been times where good people pulled things together despite me. And this was only true because a) there happened to be a good team b) the project wasn’t one where my subject matter incompetence was enough to neutralize everyone else’s work.)

      2. My theory? This is communist china’s sense of humor.

        chinese must save face at all costs. Humiliation is death to them. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the nation formerly known as the American Republic gyrate like eels in a mud pit because every single person in a leadership position is not only dumber than a post but directly unqualified for their position.

        I think it’s the chinese laughing at us. Nothing more.

        1. Downthread I made a remark inspired by here. Basically, if we grant that the Chinese senior bureaucrats can tell the difference between competence and incompetence.

          They probably do not believe that bottom up societies can exist.

          1. I don’t think the chinese can spot their bungholes with both hands and shinola. They are evil, and full of hubris that will bring their downfall.

            I think what they are doing is choosing cabinet positions based upon how they see the American marxists (think of our favorite Kenyan) react and behave. The Kenyan Marxist’s team has a track record the chinese can view–liars, cheats, low character, and people who will make normals mad…. I think that’s how they choose.

        2. Thus what we need is a show about Chinese leadership bungling (while showing China’s “Joe Public” being very competent at getting on with things DESPITE that) and have it played for laughs. Naturally, Hollywood would not, COULD not do such a thing. And despite the showing of competence, would whinge about how ‘racist’ it was.

    2. I’ve noticed they come in three flavors:
      — In bed with Qatar
      — In bed with China
      — Sops to the Woke

      The guy picked for State actually has experience, and might be competent if he weren’t dead bent on another war in Syria, and a few other typical modern Dem faults.

  25. there are NO market studies done for publishing. None. They have no idea what the public wants to buy.

    In fairness, there are two good reasons for this.

    The first is that they do not care what the public wants to buy, are often embarrassed by what the public wants to buy (e.g., Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann, Jackie Collins, Mickey Spillane and the like.)

    The second is that the public does not know what it wants to buy. No marketing study would have advised publishers there was an untapped demand for a genre mix-up of English boarding schools and witchcraft hiding among us. Nor is it likely any study would have discerned a market for the type of stories written by Tom Clancy.

    All marketing studies would tell publishers is that marketing studies cannot choose winners for them, or can any other reliable rule — meaning their faith in their taste, judgement, writer develoopment, packaging and all their other “value added” functions is wholly unfounded.

    What publisher wants to face that?

  26. For over 50 years I’ve tried to get an education, eventually attempting the task on my own. Although this was a hit or miss activity, often straying off into distant fields, it did have one benefit: it was possible to step outside the main body of assumptions and preconceptions to expose a deeper reality. Eventually someone clued me into the work of Bernard Lonergan (Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1971). His transcendental method provided a way to put everything in a higher perspective, an overview of reality if you will.

    For example, there are different kinds of competence: common sense (knowing what can and can’t be done in a specific situation); theoretical (knowing how things relate to other things); transcendental (the world of the Divine); and interiority (self-knowledge of what one is doing when one is experiencing, understanding, judging, and deciding). Perhaps Leftist competence resides only in the realm of common sense, where they know exactly what needs to be done to get the desired outcome–be it power, wealth, social status, whatever. Unfortunately they have no idea how the scientific method operates, confusing consensus with the search for truth. Nor the importance of some connection with the transcendent, now assigned to Gaia or Sophia (the horrors of “deep ecologists.” Nor the kinds of self-reflection so important when it comes deciding what is or is not of value, leaving them to absorb the public flavors of the day.

    Thanks for your work; it keeps me sane on days when insanity roams the land.

  27. Concluding a faculty meeting, the philosophy department presented a collection of classical and contemporary issues in abstract speculation. I commented — “Excellent presentation. We sociologists go a step further: we want to understand how the philosophers/theologians come to believe what they debate.” Not so much WHAT they believe, but WHY they believe it.

    I retired from teaching in 2008 when the incoming generation of students had become unable to apply the concepts that I had been teaching at that school for 12 years . — “We can’t ‘find’ the answers to the study questions.” They often just googled the question and pasted in the “answer.”

    Their primary/secondary education was geared to memorizing “answers” for the upcoming government mandated test, the results of which would determine the “effectiveness” rating and consequent funding of their schools. “You’re supposed to figure out the ‘answers’ for yourselves!” Couldn’t do it.

    1. “How do you want me to answer?” That’s the question that makes me want to *headdesk*. Because the student is being 100% honest. That’s what they’ve been trained for – to suss out what the teacher wants and repeat it back.

      1. That’s what they’ve been trained for – to suss out what the teacher wants and repeat it back.

        At least back to late ’80s, when I went back for my Computer Science degree. It isn’t in me to give a wrong answer. I got a lot of “you aren’t wrong, thanks the expected answer, too” comments on my essay answers. I got in the habit of doing the following “The book/class answer is: ….. BUT practice has shown me ….. This is why the latter is important.” Probably can’t get away with that now. Probably got away with it because I wasn’t a late teen/early 20-something. I was over 30 (barely, but still). I didn’t answer ALL questions on the test that way, not enough time, but critical ones gave the expected answer then if had time added the extra, um, commentary.

        1. The coolest thing happened in a math/programming class I took; the professor had shown us how to set up a bubble sort by writing it on the blackboard (yes, this was in the 1980s).
          I raised my hand and said, “But, couldn’t you do it easier by…” and giving an alternative way.

          He looked at his way, considered mine, and said, “Your way is better.”

          Blew my mind! He was both knowledgeable, and not overly self-important. I was on a high from that point on.

          1. I raised my hand and said, “But, couldn’t you do it easier by…” and giving an alternative way. He looked at his way, considered mine, and said, “Your way is better.”
            Blew my mind! He was both knowledgeable, and not overly self-important. I was on a high from that point on.

            That is always so cool.

            I made a lot of money understanding the correct way things had to work, then “breaking them”, kind of.

            Take what is called the B-Star Tree Balanced Sort with 1k buffers. Sort structure contains current buffer offset addresses of prior key and next key, file address of the record the key pointed to, length of current key, actual string of key. Plus buffer had header structure for prior buffer address, and next buffer address, Process is to fill up buffer until full then split buffer contents into half and put second half into second buffer. Repeat until target keys are sorted into as many buffers as needed. The complaint? The key file was larger than the actual file with rest of the data, when dealing with presorted data. Which with verification files was always presorted. Huge problem with large record count data files. Give me the max key size, number of records, and I could calculate the exact size the key file was going to be. Not a problem on a PC or server. Huge problem on standalone devices like Intermec/Symbol/Falcon ( The units today are a Windows 10 variety, often have an SQL data option. ’96 – (at least) to ??? they were DOS. (I only know when the company I worked for from ’04 – 1/2016 finally replaced the Intermec DOS units with Win Embedded, the Win10 based units, which was after 2010).

          2. See: specifically UPG v2.5 (2007) which is when DataLogic got their hands on it (ish).

            I had a lot of times when I wished I’d had the C source code in the libraries and generated by this program between ’02 and ’16 when I retired. Not to mention the C++ controls I wrote. But no, I had to be “honorable”. The interface program was written in Visual Basic with C++ controls. I also missed the C++ source code that was being written for the program generator (which interestingly, isn’t listed anywhere on the above link) for the proprietary hardware platform that I was helping to write when the company (not DataLogic, they ended up with parts) went into a downward spiral into bankruptcy.

            I-wrote-it-code, but it belonged to the company.

      2. That was me for my entire academic career, although I never said it out loud. I realized it in high school, and had two separate goals after that: learning something, and passing the class.

    2. Their desire to understand “WHY” would be more interesting if they turned it on themselves.

      It has been my experience that many intellectuals who can thoroughly explain away everyone else’s belief without a single reference to truth or falsehood can’t even comprehend when you apply their rules to them.

      1. In Vietnam I lectured a group of grad students about their own culture — they didn’t understand! This experience opened a door for me to the way they think. I used this understanding to lecture a group of Christian sociologists on how their way of thinking compares to the Daoist/Buddhist/Confucian paths thought treads in Vietnam. The Korean in the group was the only one to comprehend! This phenomenon could be one reason Laozi wrote: “Those who talk don’t know. Those who know don’t talk.”

          1. Don’t know about Korean Christianity; could be. I was under the impression that it trends Charismatic.

            Vietnamese Roman Catholic Christianity certainly looks Buddhist (the pictures of the Virgin Mary displayed on Catholic family altars could easily be the Buddha); the liturgy is the same. The evangelical church I visited resembled a generic American evangelical church. This was more apparent in Peru, where the evangelical church services in my village (Yarinacocha) echoed the founding missionary’s home church, while the Catholic mass was thoroughly Peruvian (vicar was French Canadian).

            1. Old acquaintance was married to a Korean lady and she went to a Baptist church near their house in New Orleans to avoid the long trip across the metro to the nearest Korean one, and iirc the Korean church near mom and dad’s house says Korean Baptist on the English portion of the sign.

              1. My impression is that there are even more Presbyterians than Baptists in Korea. A fair number of Baptists, too. I’m not sure how their theology differs from English-speaking congregations of the same denominations, but they seem to spend a large chunk of the day on Sundays at church, at least in Korean-speaking churches in California.

                  1. My original point was that it’s a matter of culture; “discipline” would certainly flow from that, no?

    3. Question: Was Cloward’s strain theory of crime every widely believed in sociology? If so, why?

      1. Your skepticism is spot on. Marxist notions that social evils are caused by “structures” have indeed been very popular — “systemic racism” being the latest. For Christians, Christian Smith’s bestseller “Divided by Faith.” I doubt if sociologists have any corner on absurdity. I have always observed that beliefs are usually a function of peer group pressure to “belong” rather than intelligence, logic, facts or evidence. As an Aspie I have never much cared what other people think about me, what I think, nor (with the exception of AA) belonged to a “peer group.”

        I don’t paint fiction writers with a wide brush, and hope that you would not stereotype me because of my lifelong intellectual curiosity about what makes people tick.

        Sociologists “widely believe” all sorts of delusions — especially those who assent to the nonsense they absorb in grad school and had to simulate to enjoy peer acceptance. Especially those who begin teaching careers with fresh PhD’s. I graduated from UC Berkeley in the 60’s, participated in the middle of the first wave of the culture war. Weary of angry street mobs I got married and left (London to Kabul, San Diego to Cochabamba Bolivia) and ended up buying 2 small farms in Ecuador. First job teaching sociology in 1991, after having had a life.

  28. –We’ve sold competence for a pot of message. And we need competent people to save civilization.

    And incompetent people can’t tell good work from bad. This is the crux.

    The signal is corrupted. the signal was so corrupted because the ideologues thought they were doing something real. But it’s just cargo cult everything, mimicking the actions of real work.

    Even before CRT and antiracism, our schools were run by people who couldn’t tell that the kids couldn’t read. Could. not. tell. The kids graduated with high enough grades, right? And got into college! But can’t read. So why couldn’t the ones giving grades notice? It wasn’t just they weren’t allowed to say out loud what the students didn’t know– it’s because they didn’t know what reading looked like.

    The teachers thought close reading of fiction was when you imagine the feelings and motives and psychology of characters–not analyzing the texts for poetic or rhetorical devices. The teachers didn’t know you needed to diagram a sentence to actually understand an idea properly. They didn’t know that handwaving about the emotions in the plot that match your own life and making a video to talk about your feelings didn’t count as analyzing theme.

    The teachers didn’t know that being asked to solve for x is x^2+x+1=3 isn’t the same as finding the roots to 24x^2 +5x – 17. Or that not being able to solve 2/3x = 16 meant you couldn’t possibly make sense of similar triangles. This is true in industry after industry now, any place with enough inertia to sell crap to people who have no idea they’re buying crap.
    We have few competent people left.

    1. I KNEW what they were teaching my kids was bullocks and often harmful.
      So I taught them at home, and demanded high standards.
      And when they exceeded their friends’ accomplishments, the teachers talked about how “smart” they were and didn’t need teaching.
      They also wondered why I didn’t volunteer at the school more….

  29. Several years ago Neo linked to an old audio recording of Allan Bloom:

    You know, we’ve all read history. Everybody, you know, world history, and weren’t all past ages maaaad? There were slaves, there were kings—I don’t think there’s a single student who reads the history of England and doesn’t say that that was crazy. You know “that’s wonderful, you gotta know history, and be open to things and so on,” but they’re not open to those things because they know that that was crazy. I mean, the latest transformation of history is as a history of the enslavement of women, which means to say that it was all crazy—up till now.

    Our historical knowledge is really a history which praises, ends up praising, ourselves—how much wiser [voice drips with sarcasm] we are, how we have seen through the errors of the past…Hegel already knew this danger of history, of the historical human being, when he said that every German gymnasium professor teaches that Alexander the Great conquered the world because he had a pathological love of power. And the proof that the teacher does not have a pathological love of power is that he has not conquered the world. [laughter] We have set up standards of normalcy while speaking of cultural relativism, but there is no question that we think we understand what cultures are, and what kind of mistakes they make.

    Lefties don’t so much want to kill things, and they aren’t always devoid of incompetence, rather they’ve been carefully taught that everything old is stupid and awful and should be swept away*, that not only do they not respect Chesterton’s Fence, they don’t even comprehend that Chesterton’s Fence could be a thing.

    (*) the more extreme cases turn into the Smash Everything crowd we see on the streets of Portland &c.

    1. But can you imagine the screeching if it was said, “You get this very first… and then we see if anything bad happens. Why? Because if nothing bad happens, we can use it. And if something bad happens, well, not to anyone we care about.”

    2. If they are prisoners of war, this is not wrong. Their welfare, if they are pows, is more important than ours.

      1. They are enemy combatants, not POWs. I do believe.

        I get your point, I just don’t think it quite applies in this case.

        1. Correct. They are not protected by the Geneva Conventions because that only applies to those captured and held WHILE IN UNIFORM fighting for a nation-state. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc., are not nations, nor were any of the terrorists wearing the uniform of any nation’s armed forces.

          Such people were deliberately left unprotected by the Geneva Conventions precisely because it was believed that doing so would discourage the exact kind of activity that the aforesaid terrorist groups engage in.

          Indeed even any of those entities were treated as a nation-state, they still would NOT be protected, as they were not in uniform.

          The fact that Khalid Sheik Mohamed is still alive 20 years after 9/1 is an absolute travesty.

          1. “The fact that Khalid Sheik Mohamed is still alive 20 years after 9/1 is an absolute travesty.”

            That fact is a level of injustice it’s almost impossible for me to bear. That evil SOB should have been room temperature the afternoon he got caught.

      2. Can they be PoWs is no war has been declared? Does the “War on Terror” count as a declared war if no one will admit where the terror is coming from and who is causing it?

  30. This brings to mind a troubling conversation I had almost half a century ago. I was taking Practical Astronomy as a technical elective, and was talking with a fellow student, who was an astronomy major. (Who hoped to get an observational job, though University of Redacted wasn’t known for a world class astro program. But I digress.)

    The subject of RAH came up, and he allowed as to not liking Heinlein’s work. Mildly shocked, I asked way, and his response was that Heinlein’s celebration of the competent man was anathema to his worldview. That ended that conversation, and I found better uses of my time than to talk with him.

    I don’t know if I had realized the significance of that statement, but 48 years later, it still rings a bell. It could have been a warning bell for the future, I suppose.

    I’ll skip the “Specialization is for insects” paragraph from TEfL.

  31. The tech monopolies really must be dismantled because without doing so, the fact that folks like HarrisBiden are incompetent doesn’t mean anything when they outsource tyranny to Google. For instance:

    Official Senate hearings posted on US Senator’s YouTube channel deleted by Google for contradicting the narrative:

    Because apparently Senate hearings are not allowed to ask questions or hear testimony that conflicts with the Party Line.

  32. “Ox, why aren’t you a professor or at least teacher somewhere?”

    “Consider modern schooling and academia. Bullshit out one end is quite enough, thank you.”*

    “Oh… yeah.”

    * Yes, I know there are some educators that do NOT (have to) spout Narrative. Bucky Lastards!

  33. The reason why the Internet was able to survive was its ability to route around damage. We need ways to route around the damage that won’t even let us talk about the olen-stay election-way, or interferes with the schemes of connected Wall-Street short-sellers. The technical means exist to disintermediate the entities the monopolies that have created this damage.

    1. Yes. Very much this.

      The GameStop thing has given me hope that technically minded patriots are as coldly angry as I am.

      I’m ready to call friendly fire on my position if it denies the hill to the enemy.

    1. I like the strip from two days later, 1992-02-05. I had it taped to my cubicle at work for years. Yes, I was a programmer. Er, correction, I was a Computer Systems Analyst. Sounds more impressive. Just meant I got to actually design the programs I coded. And test them. And install them. And write the manuals for them. And troubleshoot them when the users didn’t RTFM. Was SOOOO happy the day I finally got RIF’ed. 😉 😉 😉

      1. users didn’t RTFM

        Developer – “What does the manual say?”
        User – “I can’t find it. It isn’t in the manual.”
        Developer – “Okay. Be over.”
        Get there and the the manual still has the cellophane on it … Printed documentation still around between 1996 and 2002 (I got RIF’ed in ’02). AND this was the bloody company Support Department.

        1. “You have to OPEN the manual, and LOOK at the pages. Those are words. READ them.”

          I hope you charged them a whopping consultation fee.

          1. Back in the ’90s I was working at a preprint service bureau (we took your computer files and turned them into large film that printers could make press plates from). A not-a-regular-client called up for some help with Adobe Illustrator. After 30 minutes of ever more heated questions and attempted answers, I patiently explained that while I was more experienced with Macromedia Freehand, I had read through the Illustrator manual and I was sure the answer to his question was in it, I just couldn’t recall what it was.

            He said “I don’t have time to read the damn manual!” [blink blink] Oh, but apparently you have time to waste my time on the phone? Okay then.

          2. I wish! It was all internal. Don’t know what my department got paid for my hand holding.

            I do know the per hour rate I was quoting to the firm who ended up with the tree nursery whose software I’d written. Okay. Full disclosure. I designed and wrote the code. But I worked extremely closely with the manager down there on the requirements. To the point where I’d get it close based on our conversations, then I’d haul the sewing machine portable (this was early ’90s) to the nursery and I’d refine code with her sitting there. Then we documented it together. This was so she wasn’t getting called every 10 minutes when she wasn’t there, for whatever reason, generally ill because no one took off during lift/delivery season. The documentation was kept up. For no other reason than if something went wrong I’d know what needed doing and why even if she was there. I hadn’t even looked at the software for 4 years before the division was pieced out, sold, and facilities (my office, shutdown). I had been very clearly (not nicely either) told that the company purchasing the southern district lands and the tree nursery did not need anymore programmers. Then they called me 9 months later. Had to have me come in for one day to explain the program. I asked if the replaced manager was going to be there. They said no. That was not happening (manager was still in the area, so that wasn’t the problem). I said “I have a new job. Sorry. No Thank you. I can’t at this time.” They kept insisting (as I’m sitting in my vehicle before starting work at my place of employment). I kept saying “No. Thank you.” Finally I snapped “Okay. $500/hour, including traveling hours there and back + expenses; 10 hours minimum.” They said they’d get back to me. They didn’t. This was ’96. I didn’t even feel bad. They did get one bit of free advice. The program couldn’t be compiled in the newest release of the tool that was used. It wouldn’t compile. The tool PTB decided one little piece of functionality/loop-hole was a bug. The program heavily relied on that loop-hole. Sure it was something that was going to have to be addressed eventually when changes were needed again. But hey, not my monkey. Not anymore.

  34. I know a few people at work who are ‘smart’ and yet ‘stupid’. Smart as in they have knowledge, often of surprisingly fields. But stupid as in they ‘know’ the task but cannot perform it well – even though it is simple. One thing would be easy if it were done in a ‘raster scan’ sort of way, but often these people can’t stick to that and jump around to the point you (and they!) have no idea how much is done and how long things might take. Some might do that on purpose to try to defeat tracking (never mind that total time spent reveals all) but mostly it’s just… scatterbrainedness.

    1. I describe some cases of what you are seeing, as the difference between the cargo-cult thinking of “doing business” … using the right buzzwords and conducting one’s affairs in accordance with the latest trends reported in business media and on LinkedIn … and actually doing business, focused on the objective of providing a good and/or service in a way that profits both you and the customer – and doing whatever it takes to honestly deliver on that objective.

      The latter means having to act like a grown-up – which doesn’t always win you friends and public adoration, and can actually be mundane and rather boring … but it is the difference between being the flashy swordsman, and Indiana Jones.

      1. When LiveJournal was still Something, if a *declining* Something, InsaneJournal has (and I presume still has) a single-person operator that was continually astonished at all the praise he got. “Good customer service is really just honesty. It’s that simple.” But some can’t see how simple *honesty* wins – even when the news is bad, it’s better to come out and say so than cover it up. Right, Mr. Nixon?

    1. And now that we know Fauci funded the development of COVID19 with our tax money…

      I feel like the buzzard on that T-shirt:

      Patience, my ass! I wanna kill something!

      Now Fauci has been rewarded for providing the Democrats with such a convenient crisis, and Peter Daszak has been put in charge of ‘investigating the origin of COVID19’ which is much like assigning Al Capone to investigate organized crime in Chicago.

      1. But, after all, the real specialist on Cannibalism is the Cannibal. Nobody could be more swiftly and splendidly on the spot than he is, when there is any Cannibalism going forward. The objection to the Cannibal as a judge of Cannibalism is not that he is ignorant of Cannibalism, or remote from Cannibalism, or not on the spot as a specialist in Cannibalism. It is that he is just the least tiny little bit biased. G.K. Chesterton

        1. On the other side, there was a comment that Larry Correia should not post about gun control because as a former gun store owner, firearms instructor, concealed carry permit instructor, and competitive shooter, he was too familiar with the subject.

          I don’t think it was intended as an admission that the more you know about gun control, the less you will be in favor of it…
          The Democrats trust criminals with guns more than they trust you.

  35. I am an engineer with a heavy load in mathematics. I remember helping my nephew in grade school with a math class assignment. All I can remember was that the method he was taught to determine fractions was totally convoluted and nonsense. It seems the left has managed to harm even math and the hard sciences. God help us!

    1. To this day older son does long division by the method I learned in one room schoolhouse in Portugal. Because the method they tried to teach him, my MATHEMATICIAN (number theory) husband didn’t UNDERSTAND. And for me it was both stupid and infuriating,a nd all based on “guessing.”
      So I sat him down and taught him my method in half an hour.
      other than explaining to teachers what he was doing and why, and using “digit dyslexic, therefore disabled” (which is true) he never had a problem with it.
      Yes, they’re screwing up everything. TEACH THE KIDS.

      1. They won’t *want* your kids to learn. They’re paying a small fortune in bribe money to place their own kids in the “stepping-stone” schools; the last thing they want is some prole coming along and stealing their kid’s slot.

    2. I spent most of the 2010s trying to teach elementary and middle school teachers arithmetic, fractions, decimals, percents, ratios. It is so much worse than you think. And it was that bad beginning in the 90s. We’ve now had two to three generations of teachers with no competence in arithmetic.

    3. All I can remember was that the method he was taught to determine fractions was totally convoluted and nonsense. It seems the left has managed to harm even math and the hard sciences. God help us!

      OMG so much this. As parents we said BS and taught our son the basics correctly, at least through algebra and geometry. Hubby tried with Calculus. You should have heard the screams from some of son’s teachers. Early enough that not so much from the science and most the math. But boy could you tell the ones that had drank the coolant. They were the ones who stated our tutoring wasn’t “fair” to other students. Since we are firm believers that “life ain’t fair” doctrine, our responses weren’t exactly appreciated. Now they’d probably take our responses out on the kid. That wasn’t as ingrained in the responses then. Or at least it didn’t happen.

  36. Anyway, that is why there is a competence gap between right and left. It’s not because they’re not capable, but because they don’t find the “thing” as worth of their time and devotion as we do. Also because the ideology blinds them, they don’t realize there’s anything to FIX in their education. So even if they wanted to they couldn’t fix what they’re doing wrong.

    When our society …

    > Has put formal education and celebrity on pedestals of worship, as possessing the insight, wisdom, and virtue of superhuman deities, for a century … while summarily dismissing wisdom presented outside those channels as not worthy of consideration or trust.

    > Has also put “non-profit” status on a pedestal of worship and trust, while treating those honest enough to state their intent to profit with perpetual suspicion and the application of restraints in a manner reminiscent of Gulliver.

    > Has decreed that rules are the answer to every problem, assuming that compliance with them removes the need to think beyond them.

    > Considers all those except the elite few on the above pedestals incapable and unworthy of competently managing your own lives … and therefore you should be given a pass on the responsibility to make your own decisions to get through life; instead being content to just go to work, or to school, and trust the pedestaled to make your decisions, use your resources, and dictate what you can and can’t do from their lofty heights as though they are standing right beside you … all in the name of establishing their definition of the “greater good” as though it is one-size-fits-all.

    … the incentives to develop and exercise competence are highly diminished among the masses, who come to believe that they can’t really rise above their situation and should just (f__k up and) trust their “betters” in grand Flounderian fashion … as well as the pedestaled who have already “got theirs” by merely standing on those pedestals and expect such trust, regardless of actual competence, oblivious to their own human limitations.

    And in the process, effectively unplug most of the distributed intellect in this nation … intellect that might not meet the standards of MENSA or rocket scientists, but combined with its proximity-informed insight is far better equipped to solve the problems around the individuals possessing it.

    If we want to reverse this lemming parade we are on now and make it stick … getting ordinary people to both trust their own insights, and NOT delegate their decisions to others – even if that looks like more risk and effort for them – is essential to engage that distributed intellect.

  37. I joined Mensa somewhere around 1980. During my time with them I served as locsec (local chapter president) and later as newsletter editor. When I joined American Mensa was ruled with an iron fist by Margot Seitelman out of offices in Manhattan. When she passed away in 1989 the head office was moved to Arlington, Texas mainly for financial reasons. After the move national became increasingly left wing.
    I stopped renewing my membership early 90s during a nasty dispute between National and our sister chapter in Birmingham. From what I can tell from the outside those now in charge are wearing the hide of an organization I once loved quite proudly.
    Fun fact, Margot was actually never a member, only awarded honorary membership posthumously. Early days she ran all of American Mensa out of her New York apartment.

    1. I’ve never been all that interested in hanging around “Officially Smart” people. Regular people are far more interesting.
      One nasty side effect of all that IQ sorting that goes on in the Elite class is that you see the downsides of producing extremely high IQ kids with social competency issues, and often warped intellectual functioning, as well.
      Give me the old days when the industry leaders (really smart, for the most part) married their secretaries (lots of people smarts, ability to organize, get all the paperwork out of the way), doctors married the nurses, and guys who worked physical jobs married a competent homemaker, who labored to make their scarce time at home a pleasant break. Made for a home that was well-run, kids that knew how to behave, and already knew a lot before school even started (even, sometimes, how to read).

      1. Amen. I like hanging out with smart (not intellectual) people. Listening to a master plumber explain how on earth he managed to do THAT with what the architect dreamed up – and have everything work! – is great. That is a form of brilliance that intellectuals just don’t grok (for the most part).

        1. “I was there, to match my intellect, on national TV.
          Against a plumber, and an architect, both with a Ph.D.
          I was tense, I was nervous,
          I guess it just wasn’t my night.
          Art Fleming gave the answers,
          Oh, but I couldn’t get the questions right-ight-ight…”

          — Weird Al Yankovic, “I Lost on Jeopardy”

  38. The competence problem on the left is not absence but narrow focus. They are very competent activists but not interested in anything else. To paraphrase a certain coach, “Activism isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

    That works well until your activism is successful and you have to actually do something.

    1. I know of a college where the main degree program for one department lost its accreditation because (simplifying) half the department was too busy with activism to teach, and the other half was teaching the courses that interested them, not the courses required for students to graduate in a timely manner.

  39. Living in and near NYC, I’ve seen enough of the leftist competence for a lifetime, starting with John Lindsay.
    The closest any of them had to any competence was Koch, and that was minimal. For a long time, I’ve argued that one of the main reasons Rudy Giuliani was successful as NYC mayor was that he was administratively competent. I don’t mean to suggest that many of his policies, especially with policing, were not important. But to put it in simple mayoral terms, he got the snow cleared and the garbage picked up. And don’t forget the subways. Having read one or two of his books about his time as mayor, I can see why. He was very good at administering a large, crazy organization like the NYC govt. Journalists rarely speak about competence during political campaigns. Instead, their entire focus is on policy statements, gaffes and polls.

    1. if any form of competence mattered, they’d’ve not pushed Sloe Joe the serial plagiarizer for the CCP on us. He is a long term incompetent – “Never underestimate Joe’s ability to F@(k things up”

    2. their [the MSM’s] entire focus is on policy statements, gaffes and polls.

      Because great policy implements itself, right? Administrative competence is unnecessary!

      As we’ve long known, with Leftists it isn’t effectiveness that matters, it is the intentions.

  40. Speaking of competence and things to do in your garage… a shotgun design that makes a zipgun look complicated:

  41. Re: people talking the other day about fear, depression, etc. — I heard an interesting podcast talk the other day about practicing the “memento mori” style of daily contemplation, where you just remind yourself every day that yup, you’re going to die someday, and how does that affect your life?

    The talk was by a Daughter of St. Paul nun/sister (Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble), and she said she basically started doing it because it seemed metal/punk rock and their founder had been a fan. But she said it really helped her to deal with her fear of death, and generally was not depressing or paralyzing in any way. (It’s also one of those things where the person says, “And then, after two years of contemplating death every day, I hit a really big breakthrough.” So it’s not super-fast.) It also helped her with her vocation.

    Anyhoo, they’ve got a Lenten meditation book on the practice. I think there are Eastern Christian versions of the practice too, but I don’t know the search terms.

  42. Observations from Africa:

    by Hannes Wessels

    I suppose it has a lot to do with having lived in Africa all my life that I am so fearful of ‘big government’. This is where the State has a monopoly on knowing what is best for the individual and a massive bureaucracy and security apparatus rolls out emboldened with enormous powers. If the people in power were not so stupid and selfish this might have had a small chance of working but alas that is not the case. When the rulers believe they are the sole purveyors of the knowledge needed to live life it is really the end of freedom as I understand it. True freedom is all about the rights of the individual to make the big choices in life; real oppression is having big government making those choices for the individual.

    Right now it looks to me, that America is following the same path, so disastrously followed in most of Africa. The Corona pandemic has already provided one pretext for grabbing excessive power but as I write 10,000 soldiers (down from 25,000) are patrolling the streets of Washington DC in reaction to a perceived threat from ‘right-wing extremists’.

    The focus is on a protest march that turned into an ugly assault by of a handful of idiots in silly hats who broke through a security codon and entered the congressional offices of the Capitol, including that of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This reaction involving the deployment of thousands of soldiers smacks of extreme double-standards, bearing in mind the capital’s city council recently endorsed the BLM (Black Lives Matter) protests. Those riots claimed the lives of eight people, caused injuries to hundreds of policemen and billions of dollars in damage to property. History has taught us, politicians, seeking to hold absolute power, invariably do so by exploiting a perceived crisis; Hitler used the Reichstag fire to bludgeon his political opposition into submission. The Biden administration and its supporters are using a few ‘Rednecks’ for the same reason.

    During the election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to Trump supporters, roughly 75 million of them, as ‘enemies of the State’. Presumably, the soldiers are there to let it be known that their existence is reason to believe a civil war beckons unless they recant. This sort of rhetoric is not unusual in dictatorship but shocking coming from one of the most powerful people in what most of us have long considered, the world’s greatest democracy.

    A wave of censorship is sweeping the country with Facebook and Twitter having banned Donald Trump because he used the word ‘fight’ in a tweet to supporters and this is interpreted as an ‘incitement to violence’ triggering the second round of impeachment hearings. Trump is quickly silenced but not so someone like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a dyed in the wool racist who refers to whites as ‘devils’ and routinely incites his followers into taking an aggressive stance towards all those who don’t subscribe to his view of the world.

    With the taking down of Parler by Jeff Bezos which was offered as an alternative platform all avenues of venturing alternative opinions are being blocked. The Bezos-owned, ‘Washington Post’ is calling for the expulsion of some Republican legislators, in order to prevent them passing ‘new criminal laws’. Jeff Zucker at CNN, who led the media campaign to destroy the Trump presidency, is leading a push to ban all cable networks that do not follow the received political wisdom regarding who should rule and how.

    There is growing talk of the FBI being transformed from a law enforcement agency to a “domestic spy agency” monitoring Americans. This appears to be happening quicker than expected. Tucker Carlson has just reported on Fox News, the beginning of an era when the ruling party will be throwing its political opponents in jail while announcing the arrest of Doug Mackey a young journalist of conservative views who is facing 10 years in prison for making fun of Democratic politicians on social media. The criminal complaint reads, “Mackey made coordinated use of social media to spread disinformation …The disinformation spread by these individuals often took the form of memes.”

    Under the new administration the fundamentals of political discourse are now under siege. Simply questioning the validity of the last election results is being criminalised with an amendment being pushed to expel Republican Senators for asking too many questions about what might have happened during the process.

    The people orchestrating this move to authoritarianism are the same people who routinely lecture the rest of the world on the importance of respecting basic human rights. Their favourite target over the Trump years was Vladimir Putin who was excoriated by the Democrats for allegedly behaving exactly as they are today. While Putin may be no angel, I suspect he has more popular support in his country today than Joe Biden has but this will not be made known.

    Looking at what is happening in America today, I feel I have seen it all before so no surprises as to where this is headed. To his credit I suppose, Robert Mugabe was just a little ahead of the game.

    1. A lot of what the Democrats are doing is geared towards recreating Mugabe’s Zimbabwe in the USA; identity group based communism

        1. Chuck Schumer declared they intend to go forward with doing so “no matter what”. He described it as “improving democracy”.

          1. The CDC is busily trying to “improve democracy” by issuing an unconstitutional federal mandate for everyone to wear the slave diaper always and forever, amen.

  43. }}} “wants to be part of a society that defines itself by high IQ.”

    I’ve made this point in many other places, but, if you want a defining lack that identifies lefties, it is Wisdom, not Intellect.

    Wisdom is the capacity to learn from experience — that of yourself, or, ideally, of others: “I don’t have to walk a mile in your shoes, I can see a train wreck from a mile away.”

    If there were a “WQ” test akin to the IQ test, then liberals would consistently rank in the bottom 1/3rd of the resulting bell curve, and predominate in it.

    Once you grasp this, you start to understand all manner of things — why they can’t figure out how Marxism Just Doesn’t Work. Why they love big government as a solution. And so forth.

    And yes, you can be high IQ and low WQ — look at Noam Chompsky. A clear genius AND an abject fool.

    1. And once you really start tearing into his “brilliant’ insights in linguistics? They fall apart. A lot of his basic work has not stood up to hard study.

  44. Glad I inspired a post. And a good one at that. My caution remains – underestimate the competence and intelligence of the Left at your own peril.

    It’s one thing to say that someone is wrong about extraordinarily complex systems of human behavior (as I believe the Left almost always is), but it’s another to say they’re unintelligent or incompetent. The Left said the same thing about Trump (stupid and incompetent), yet he consistently beat them despite overwhelming odds, and had some serious policy achievements despite swimming up a waterfall. In the end, they had to ‘tcheet’ to beat him.

    Sure, the Left is populated by legions of useful idiots whose core competencies involve knowing how to craft foam doodles in espresso foam. But those aren’t the ones who are in charge of everything. Biden’s puppeteers aren’t morons. The people writing the code for big tech or the financial industry aren’t idiots. They’re also not all sitting around on their asses, conforming to stereotypes of basement dwelling soyboys mooching off their parents’ health insurance.

    Underestimating them is why we’re here.

    1. no. EMPHATICALLY no. We’re here because we OVERESTIMATE THEM. We learned to accept “left speak” as a sign of a good education. Which it is, in terms of an expensive education. What it is NOT a sign of is competence at anything real.
      BUT signaling left became the way to get hired everywhere.

      1. I think it’s a mix, but not all in the same area. We certainly underestimated how underhanded they are.

        And speaking of Facepalm Headdesk… Pelosi just said this during her presser:

        “We will probably need a supplemental for more security for members, when the enemy is within the House of Representatives… It means we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and who have threatened violence on other members of Congress.

        Well, if that ain’t aimed at the goal of expelling and arresting the opposition, I don’t know what is.

        1. “members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor”

          Which she knew was a lie when she said it; it hasn’t been true for at least 50 years. They can carry them to their offices, but not on the floor.

          1. To be fair (why?) some of the better Republicans do want to bring arms on the floor; they however, have no intention of doing so.

        2. She’s old enough to remember when a Democrat beat a Republican on the Floor with a cane, and she doesn’t want Republicans doing anything with the precedent. /sarc.

    2. My caution remains – underestimate the competence and intelligence of the Left at your own peril.


      But those aren’t the ones who are in charge of everything.

      Not sure we can know this.

      Biden’s puppeteers aren’t morons.

      Remains to be seen. I’m far from certain about the identities and processes. Depends very much on who they are, what they think they are doing, and what background they have for thinking they know what they are doing.

      Earlier today, I last track of the intent to respond to a comment that asserted that China is deliberately ensuring that our officials are idiots. Issue is, where the idiocy is in the form of being “wrong about extraordinarily complex systems of human behavior” or in not knowing the American people very well, Chinese bureaucrats may have no clue how to tell the difference between idiocy and intelligence. The Chinese will be inclined to think it is smart now to decide that the Chinese are winners, and that it is time to suck up to them. That does not mean it is actually smart.

      The people writing the code for big tech or the financial industry aren’t idiots.

      This is not fully in evidence.

      Computer Science, and the practice of programming as engineering, are not an easy set of problems to solve. So failure to solve problems well is not itself evidence of stupidity.

      But the current state of the art might possibly be a result of stupidity, fad, widespread fraud, or insular group think.

      My two major specific reasons for concern are the application of machine learning, willy nilly, to every problem under the sun, and the enthusiasm for self driving cars.

      Now, recent literature in mainstream engineering research also shows application of machine learning to every sort of problem. (I do not condemn all of the applications, I just suspect that some of the applications can be shown to be unwise.) So, if it is a problem in Silicon Valley, it is probably also a problem for other industries that are not so heavily dominated by the left.

      The technical management problems are difficult enough that they are an alternate explanation for what I notice.

      All this may simply be ignorance on my part, combined with being a bitter loser.

      I have for several years more and more strongly intuited a bubble with regard to trust. The behaviors that do not support the value of the trust disbursed are across the political spectrum. I have access to trust that I should not use, because I cannot provide the value of it. Sarah’s story of loss of underpinnings of competence seems to reflect my personal experience, and I don’t think that is purely imposter syndrome on my part.

  45. “So, why do they kill and gut the respected institutions — or businesses — or entire business areas?”

    This is an interesting question. That they do this is obvious. They came after publishing so hard and for so long that they got all the way down to comic books. Result, publishing is dying and comic books are very definitely dying.

    They came after KNITTING CLUBS, for f*ck sake. Result, ladies are damn well quitting those clubs.

    But here’s the comment that made this post even more interesting:

    “In my own field I was staggered to find out, for instance that there are NO market studies done for publishing. None. They have no idea what the public wants to buy.”

    The purpose of taking over the publishing industry is not to sell Leftist books. They don’t care if the books sell. And you can tell, by the fact that A) they suck and B) zero marketing effort. They don’t even do what a high schooler would know to do.

    So what are they doing? They’re making sure nobody else gets to talk. They’re hogging the microphone.

    This is like gun control. When you look at gun control long enough, you realize that gun control is not about guns, and it is not about crime. It is about MONEY. They use gun control to reward their friends and punish their enemies. Same thing with The Enviiiiiironment!!!11! All about money. Enemies of the regime are the oil companies this week.

    But that’s old news. Old and busted. The new sweetness is Covid-19. The government response is not about the virus and it’s not about public health. They are rewarding their friends and punishing their enemies.
    Case in point:

    Backstory, SNC Lavalin just got through being saved from -jail- by the Trudeau Liberals in 2018. Naked corruption. Unclothed, even. 2020, who gets one hundred and fifty million bucks in a contract to design and deliver “mobile health units”? SNC, that’s who. Because they’ve got friends in Ottawa. $150 megabucks for trailers, my friends. Trailers which will never be used. Maybe even never built.

    How can they do this?

    Because they’ve taken over everything from universities to knitting clubs, that’s how. How do you steal a whole election? By -owning- the whole process, from the scrutineers to the officials who chose DerpMinion Votin’ Machines Inc. in a sole-source contract. Owning the media and Wall Street doesn’t hurt either. It doesn’t matter who votes. It matters who counts, and who owns the printing press the report gets printed on.

    But now we come to the intelligence part. Yes, Leftists are very smart about subverting things to serve their own ends. They are very clever about taking over institutions and walking around wearing the skin. Less clever about building institutions from the ground up by providing real value or solving a problem.

    They are grasshoppers.

    They descend on something and they eat it. Then they move on to the next thing and eat that. They are efficient. Nothing can exist in the public sphere that is not The Left.

    But, eventually, this turns out to be a stupid strategy. Because after a few hordes of locusts wipe out the grain crop for a few years, Farmer John invests in a sprayer and some DDT. A million grasshoppers is a plague. One grasshopper is bird food. Not a good plan.

    That’s what the GameStop meme is. Somebody figured out how to hack the hedge fund scam at no cost to himself. It’s DDT. Farmer John done fired up the sprayer, boys.

    Someone above may have mentioned this, but the GameStop thing is also Sad Puppies. One guy has an idea to stick it to the annoying Woke Lefties, and tells his friends. They tell their friends. They all buy a WorldCon ticket and vote. Seven years later after doing everything from smears in the international media to changing the rules to kick out the revolting peasants, the Left still can’t shut up about Sad Puppies. Total cost to originator, zero. Total benefit, he’s famous and loved by millions because he let us all spit in their Big Lefty eye, and he lives on a mountain. I’m delighted to buy everything that guy writes for the rest of his life.

    Sign of what’s to come, today Google removed 100,000 negative reviews of the Robinhood ap from their ap store. Discord kicked off a ton of users. Reddit killed that sub-Reddit. Didn’t help, the steamroller grinds onward.

    You know what? I wonder what would happen if everybody in the world bought a short on Alphabet Inc. 500,000,000 people woke up one morning and spent $10 or whatever on a short against Google. All on the same day.

    I wonder if there’s a way to short US Treasuries? Or California state bonds.

    You boys want to play f- around? Okay then. We can play too.

    1. “The purpose of taking over the publishing industry is not to sell Leftist books. They don’t care if the books sell. And you can tell, by the fact that A) they suck and B) zero marketing effort. They don’t even do what a high schooler would know to do.
      So what are they doing? ”

      Money laundering.

      Apply the same principles as are used with “modern art” (sold for a zillion dollars despite that no one wants to look at it) but rather than financial movers and shakers, done on the more-modest scale of the successful politician (paid a zillion dollars for a book no one wants to read). And consider that the rest of the industry is there as cover, and to stay on the right side of the taxman with regard to plausible and declared losses.

      Same as Hollywood, just a different bunch of scammers. (90% of all productions never make it to the screen, yet everyone working on ’em still gets paid, and money moves among the backers. Of the remainder, most films never show a dime of profit, yet $300M somehow gets used up…)

      Click to access launder.pdf

      or if effin’ WPDE,

      mileswmathis DOT com/launder.pdf

      1. Oh yeah. Particularly when it comes to lefty politicians. I’ve noticed that they funnel very large amounts of money to idiots like the Obamas and other Dems via book contracts. Smells like the equivalent of graft and corruption to me. I’m pretty sure many of those “contracts” never earn out, but they achieved the real goal, which is to pay off Democrats.

      2. It’s very clear they are doing money laundering as well. Hollywood swims in money from drug cartels. Where does anyone think the $150 million bucks for the Fantastic Four movie came from, when everyone knew it was a turkey based on the casting alone?

        But if they were -only- laundering money, they’d still do market research and they’d be better at what they do overall. If money laundering is the goal, then there’s no reason to make it obvious by only selling Leftist trash.

        Therefore I think the money laundering is a side deal. The main effort is to grow government, because that’s where the really BIG money is.

        Rich men can buy their own island. Tyrants have their own city/state/country.

  46. I grew up with competent teachers, not Latin or Greek though.
    My teachers from kindergarten on would be professors now. Almost all women, in a world that limited them. They gave us so much.
    My kids teachers? C students given B’s and education degrees and a steady paycheck, summers off, pensions, Hellz Yeah!
    The teachers, mostly, are placeholders, the good ones known by all.
    John Derbyshire was right, WE ARE DOOMED.

  47. Sarah,

    There’s something I have to say that will shock and offend you. It might even get me run off of this blog. Nonetheless, in the spirit of honesty and fairness, I feel it must be acknowledged.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – whose real name I will grant her the dignity of using this time – is actually RIGHT about something.

    Try not to let the shock kill you before the government does:

    1. Yeah, but she followed it up by accusing Ted Cruz of trying to kill her, so it didn’t last long.

      1. Fair, but I’ll take what I can get. If nothing else there’ll be some infighting on the left over this.

        1. And this can definitely be used against her and the rest of her kind in future. Win-win.

    2. There is nothing shocking about AOC being right – so long as you remember two things:

      1. When she is right it is for the wrong reasons.

      2. Her solution will surely make the problem worse.

  48. And while I’m sharing political tweets, here’s an interesting observation from someone responding to one of Razorfist’s:

    And I agree with the guy who responded: “It might sound less exciting but its more funny that way ngl” 😛

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