Laws, institutions, and republics

Pompey the Great would snap at magistrates who challenged him: “Cease quoting laws to those of us with swords.”

Eventually all pretense of civility was dropped and Rome was engulfed by a series of destructive civil wars that destroyed the republic once and for all.

— The Washington Post, in Perspective | This is how republics end

Land of the brave – fattening them to death

(America’s) Farm policies have made low-nutritional commodities exceptionally cheap, providing the food industry with enormous incentive to market processed foods comprised mainly of refined grains and added sugars. In contrast, vegetables, whole fruits, legumes, nuts and high-quality proteins are much more expensive and, in “food deserts,” often unavailable.

—NYT: ‘Opinion | America’s Obesity Budget
Continue reading Land of the brave – fattening them to death

A very American view on equality & achievement…

This is a principle that is repeated in every aspect of life: if you raise the floor of competence, you inevitably lower the ceiling of achievement. There is no reward without risk, and demanding that everything meet a certain standard is to inevitably ensure that nothing goes beyond.

Ben Thompson, in the Stratechery Daily Update dated 22 Jan, 2018

Needless to point out that I completely disagree with Ben on this. I believe the opposite to be true. When the minimum required standard is raised, the standard of achievement required to stand out nudges even higher, spurring innovation and achievement.

I find his quote to represent a very American view of things – something that underlies/propels a lot of policy (and impolitic) discourse in their society. Even the most thoughtful, most reasonable people, once integrated in the US way of thinking tend to develop a intrinsic distrust and fear of equality, and anything that may even remotely resemble it, or lead to it.

Continue reading A very American view on equality & achievement…

Political correctness of the other kind

The farmers know something is happening to the weather, but the words “climate change” have become politically charged in a place where, like much of rural America, conservative politics dominate.

Climate change threatens Montana’s barley farmers – and possibly your beer – Food and Environment Reporting Network

In the field, looking at his withering crop, Somerfeld was unequivocal about the cause of his damaged crop – “climate change.” But back at the bar, with his friends, his language changed. He dropped those taboo words in favour of “erratic weather” and “drier, hotter summers” – a not-uncommon conversational tactic in farm country these days.

Immigration, Assimilation, America.

We’ve done this repeatedly over our own history. This current wave of immigration is not the first time that we have had a big wave of immigration, that causes turbulence, and then we come out the other side, and we’re all better off.

Bob Putnam

It happens that my ancestors came to this country in 1640, so we’ve been here forever.

And we were doing just fine, and then the Dutch arrived. Now, don’t get me started on the Dutch. It was really hard for us to get along with the Dutch, but then we eventually got along with the Dutch, and then we forgot they were Dutch.

And then they were just us.

And then the Germans arrived, and they were really difficult, and we had a lot of trouble assimilating the Germans. And then, after a while, we got adjusted to them. And we, sort of, didn’t even notice that the Germans were Germans.

And then we invented, at that point, a term called Anglo-Saxon to refer to the Dutch, and the Germans, and us.

And then we had a lot of trouble when the Irish arrived…