Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Andreas Lubitz/GermanWings Air Crash

Lion of the Blogosphere has a number of posts up about Andreas Lubitz, the psychiatric patient who flew a passenger plane into the side of a mountain last week.

Vision problems, suicidal ideation, heavy psych meds, and 'burnout' in his early 20's. Why did the airline keep this tragic young man limping along as a pilot? Aren't there enough qualified pilots out there without vision problems and major psychiatric issues? When I was growing up, nobody besides ex-military ever got a foot in the door with the airlines.

I expect it's because Lubitz came cheap.

Lord have mercy on the victims.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fan mail

I am writing you for no particular reason other than to say that I have enjoyed reading your blog. I have chiefly enjoyed reading the blog post entitled "Bleak Christianity." In truth, I have read it at least five or six times over the past few weeks because you mention things that strongly resonate with my thinking, and I have yet to find these thoughts formulated elsewhere.
“The age of evangelism is over. The Church is fading because she frankly offers nothing to people that any other positive, purportedly compassionate movement--such as political liberalism--does not.”
This statement has haunted me for weeks, precisely because it is so true. I searched your archives and found this theme being developed over and over again, especially the need to form community and the outright hostility this has elicited from fellow believers. Though not attempting to be prophetic in any way, I cannot help but feel that as the nation and society become more overtly anti-Christian, we as Christians will need to come together into communities that, as you say, “knock off some of the sharp corners of life for their adherents.” We simply cannot exist as atomized individuals who relegate faith to a purely vertical relationship between God and man. Sure that vertical relationship is important, but it does not mean that God cares nothing about the health of the society, especially the one in which we raise our children!
“The Mormons, Amish, Hasidim and other groups do this sort of thing and they are the ones reproducing themselves in the pews. People seem horrified when I mention this though.”
This is something that cannot be refuted, thus eliciting strong emotions from those who run against a hard, uncomfortable truth. I heard it said, perhaps by you, that people do not join the Mormon church because their theology is so clear. They join the church because it meets their needs, gives them a context, and supports, rather than undermines, the family. Oh that we would take this to heart!

But I digress. I shall continue to ponder over this notion of Christian community in this present age. I only wish you had the time to write even more. But in short, thank you for putting these thoughts out there. If you have ever wondered if your blog makes any difference whatsoever, let this letter be an encouragement that it does indeed.

Many blessings on you and your family.

Blessings to you, brother.

Rod Dreher suggests we need some creative thinking as well.
... I thought this is the Benedict Option for languages. These speakers of dying languages and their children are not running for the hills to hide out, but they are creating communal institutions within which precious but severely threatened knowledge can be passed on, even as the younger generations live and work in the world. The elders know their children will be assimilated to a certain degree within the broader world, but they are trying as hard as they can to give them the knowledge and the love to hold on to their traditions and inheritance.

This is a good way to think about what I call the Benedict Option for Christians and other religious traditionalists. Think of Christianity as a distinct language, a way of construing the world. Like language, the Christian faith was not delivered perfect from heaven and preserved pristine and unchanged for centuries. But it does have a vocabulary and a grammar, so to speak, that set it apart from other languages. In its 2,000 years, Christianity has developed a number of what you might consider “dialects,” but because we in the West have lived in a recognizably Christian culture, it has been possible for us to understand each other, and to more or less hold on to the core concepts at the heart of the language.

We now find ourselves, though, in a post-Christian world, one in which the pressure to assimilate is causing tens of millions of people to lose the language — often without knowing that they’re losing it.

One commenter at Rod's pipes up hopefully,
It should be noted (I don’t know if the New Yorker article does or not) that one of forces, and perhaps the most important, resisting the trend of linguistic assimilation is evangelical Christians striving to translate the Scriptures into every known language.

This of course is the low-hanging fruit, as Christian missionaries all trip over each other trying to be the first sect to plant a church among some benighted cultural followers in remote Third World villages. After all, it's easier to convince the shrinking number of hunter-gatherers who've never seen a white man that you're the True Faith rather than your sophisticated Hindu, Muslim or Jewish neighbors back home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Monica Lewinsky comeback tour

This really is the headline from the Washington Post:

Monica Lewinsky gave a really, really important TED talk on bullying.

Contra Niche considers it here.

Monica Lewinsky has popped up in my feeds because she gave a talk about how public shaming should be stopped. I have no doubt there were an insult or many hurled at her in a public place, but shame comes from inside.

Shame wells up when you know you've done something wrong. The great big evil surrounding shame is when cultural Marxists try to instill a sense of shame about wanting normal things.

But Lewinsky has experienced authentic shame, and, apparently, her recourse is to pretend it doesn't come from herself, but that it is some form of oppression visited upon her from other people.

It is a pity nobody understands the concept of repentance these days.

I think the terminology needs some tweaking. Monica Lewinsky comes from a Semitic/Judaic shaming culture, not an Anglo-European/Christian guilt culture. (There's a decent comparison here.)

Shame is exogenous; guilt is endogenous. Shame means you answer to other people; guilt means you answer to principles. Both certainly have their place, but the weakness of the shaming culture is that shame can be expunged by a sufficiently clever argument (or not getting caught). Guilt, on the other hand, requires repentance. Guilt is how you get people to police themselves. August naturally looks at things from his own hereditary and cultural perspective.

I wrote about Miss Ms. Lewinsky in October 2012, counseling women to avoid feminism. (Have I mentioned how I repeat myself, because nothing ever changes?) Monica Lewinsky is having none of that, as she rages against her spinsterhood.

We are far from blameless in this matter. Westerners are fully capable of deconstructing their culture all on their own. After all, at root we are where we are because of classical liberalism. The universalist principles which we voluntarily adopted to govern ourselves simultaneously will not allow us to see, until after the fact, all the ways our Anglo-European and Christian culture is being displaced.

Immigrants do not assimilate; they transform.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The most important media event since Bruce Jenner's coming out

Friend of the blog Bumbling American has a Twitter feed.

Don't drink coffee while reading.

By the way, any conservatives still bothering to vote for Republicans, Netanyahu's speech was all cover for the Republican leadership to cave on immigration amnesty.

Also, Christopher Roach observes that the spectacle of a foreign leader invited by a separate branch of government to tweak another branch of government (the one that's run by the US plenipotentiary) is unseemly and dangerous precedent.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Storing Paco

Via Marginal Revolution.

Tyler is referring to the current interest rate environment in Europe, where banks pay middle-aged women to borrow money to fund their sexual hook-up site, and tell students they don't need their crummy little checking accounts.
To breathe life into Europe’s economy and stoke inflation, policy makers recently resorted to a drastic measure tried by some other central banks. The European Central Bank, which dictates policy in the 19-member eurozone, announced a plan that involves printing money to buy hundreds of billions of euros of government bonds.

Just the anticipation of the program prompted bond prices to soar and the euro to drop in value. Other countries that do not use the euro were then forced to take defensive countermeasures to keep a lid on the value of their currencies, encourage lending and bolster growth.

Switzerland, for instance, jettisoned its currency’s peg to the euro, shocking markets, and cut interest rates further below zero. Denmark’s central bank has reduced rates four times in a month, to minus 0.75 percent. Sweden followed suit earlier this month.

The most profound changes are taking place in Europe’s bond market, which has been turned into something of a charity, at least for certain borrowers. The latest example came on Wednesday, when Germany issued a five-year bond worth nearly $4 billion, with a negative interest rate. Investors were essentially agreeing to be paid back slightly less money than they lent.

Bonds issued by Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Finland and even fiscally challenged Italy also have negative yields. Right now, roughly $1.75 trillion in bonds issued by countries in the eurozone are trading with negative yields, which is equivalent to more than a quarter of the total government bonds, according to an analysis by ABN Amro.

One reason investors are willing to tolerate such yields is the relative safety of the bonds, in a weak economy. Traders are also betting that the prices of the bonds will keep going up.

Up, up and UP! We've never heard that before, have we?

Tyler's metaphor, his pet dog Paco, refers to the fact that savers now have to pay the banks to store their money (Paco) instead of having their money run around and play (generate positive returns). Negative interest on deposits basically transforms cash into gold, implying huge, zombie-army levels of risk, like a survivalist who incurs storage and opportunity costs in order to hoard canned beans and ammo. But the risk doesn't seem to be out there, with healthy profits and positive consumer confidence. So this implies, to Tyler, that there is some barrier to new investment. (He loses me at this point--economic stagnation? wealthy entrepeneurs cashing in their chips?)

Tyler continues: "I liked Paco (more importantly Paco liked me), but I do not enjoy living in a Paco economy. I think of the calm before the storm and wonder how to reconcile the observed calm and the potential for the storm. I do not like the most obvious attempts at reconciliation."

In other words, something really obvious should be happening to explain negative interest rates (which, as a practical matter, are economically impossible) but darned if anybody can find it.

The impolitic (Austrian, crackpot) view is that the ECB is distorting the supply-demand curve for loanable funds by charging member banks for "excess" reserves and handing out free money for bonds that should be deeply discounted. Tyler loves being obscure (i.e., Straussian), and he's extremely smart, so he could very well be saying what I think he is saying: this is nuts and it will end badly.

Old friend of this blog Archer Of The Forest has a more succinct explanation.