Sunday, June 23, 2019

Something Old, Something New

Last Tuesday, I wrote a piece on the destruction of the west focused on the first Third World State, California.

The point of that piece wasn't California per se, it was that the liberal policies embodied there, as perhaps nowhere else, were ending the western way of life with a return to two tiered society common to the middle ages.  A rich class of nobility and a vast underclass of peasants.

Again, this isn't unique to California they're just leading the way into the dystopian future.  Over the years, I've said (and more often hinted) that what I see in the future is not just an economic collapse due to the world's unsustainable debt levels.  I see a real chance for another Dark Ages.  Progressive academicians are pushing Postmodernism which is an assault on the idea of objective reality.  Postmodernists lead us to the modern "my truth" and "your truth"; the idea that there isn't anything other than our perceptions of things.  That works fine for "what's your favorite color?" but is completely wrong for "what's the speed of light?", "will this virus survive in air?" or any interactions with the real world.  No matter how sincerely one believes there's no gravity, simply walking off the top of a building will ensure that they discover their belief is wrong.  There is no "my truth" when it comes to reality.

Postmodernism is the kind of idea that leads people to say, "you have to be a Ph.D. to be that stupid".

Almost two years ago, I wrote a piece on this trend that I still think gets to the heart of it.  I'm going to take advantage of the editor's chair and repost that here with minor edits to shorten it and help readability.

Quote of the Day

From David P. Goldman at PJ Media in his article, "The Triumph of Inequality" (hat tip to Sense of Events):
The great divide is not between black and white, or male and female. We are turning into two races: Eloi who play video games and Morlocks who program them.  ...
If you enlarge the definition of Morlocks from the people who program video games to the people who design the computers those games run on; the hard drives and other components in those computers, and all the other engineers and technicians of all kinds: electrical, mechanical, aerospace, and more, I'm there with him.  I have as much respect for a mechanic who can keep a modern jet engine running optimally as the team who designed it.

Goldman goes on to draw a few contrasts.
Three hundred years ago, pretty much everyone knew how their technology worked. Europe had lived for a millennium on the innovations of the Carolingian Renaissance: the water wheel, the horse collar, and three-field crop rotation. Everyone knew how a water wheel worked. Water pushed the paddles and gears turned the millstones. Not everyone knew how a steam engine worked, but a lot of people did. The same applied to internal combustion engines.

Not only were those technologies easy to understand: They were easy to make. Any competent carpenter could build a water wheel. The Wright brothers built their first airplane in a bicycle shop. Henry Ford made his first internal combustion engine out of spare parts in a backroom at the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit.

How many people know how a computer works? ... To build a competitive integrated circuit now requires a multi-billion-dollar plant. A numerically minuscule elite invents the technologies we use every day, and a handful of large corporations access the capital required to manufacture them.
He argues that today's technology is too complex.  It's true that as recently as the early 1960s, only a couple of guys were required to design a state of the art radio, (I've met some of them) while today's equivalent radios require a team of hardware and software engineers, with each of those broad categories having several specializations.  It's the rare engineer who can understand all of those domains and design every piece.  To do so is discouraged in the industry for the simple reason that the product gets on the market faster when a team works in parallel than if one guy does everything one subsection at a time.

To dwell on this is to miss the big point: that "numerically minuscule elite" leads all progress in our world and for a nation to have real influence, they need to ruthlessly select for them in a free market of education and ideas.  To deny the opportunity to compete for that education to some portion of its citizens is likely self-defeating, but only the best should advance. Meritocracy, not equality.
Today there are two billion Asians whose parents were immured in utter backwardness who now have a chance at the brass ring. China graduates four times as many STEM bachelors as the United States and twice as many PhDs; a generation ago the Chinese university system had just begun to pick itself up out of the ruins of the Cultural Revolution
Part of the glue that held the Chinese imperial system together these past three thousand years is the chance that every Chinese has to get rich by passing what used to be the Mandarin examination.
The byword in American education is "No child left behind." In Singapore, it's "You must be exceptional to survive."
America is at a distinct disadvantage to Asia.  We are numerically quite a bit smaller than China or India.  That means fewer to choose from to find that minuscule fraction.  

While the idiots on the left are consumed with equality of outcomes for everyone, rather than the equality of opportunities, Goldman gives the simple, inescapably true message that we should ruthlessly search for excellence instead. 
If we focus on equality rather than excellence, we will be overwhelmed by the rest of the world.  A generation from now there will be a word for an American who works for an Asian: "Employed." Our future lies in the talented few, not the mediocre masses -- and if we repudiate them, the future will repudiate us.
Are we headed for another dark ages?  Cloistered in the future equivalents of monasteries may be the people who know how to do things: the Morlocks.

A commenter there retold a story that I know I've seen before, and I'll bet most of you have, too.
I remember a story about how some archeologists excavated a Roman villa in East Anglia and found that while it was occupied by Romans soon after the conquest of Brittania it had all the comforts of civilization including central heating. As they continued to excavate they found strange burn marks in what was the great room which were accurately dated to a time three or four generations after the Romans left. Why the burn marks? Campfires. Within 100 years the people living there had forgotten how to make central heating work. They had probably forgotten that it existed at all.

Similarly, records kept by the Romans showed agricultural productivity for the same area three times what it would be when the Domesday Book started keeping records again. The farmers after the fall of Rome not only COULDN'T achieve that productivity, they didn't know it existed in the first place.

A modern generation Digital Signal Processor chip.  It takes the industrial might of billion dollar companies along with teams of engineers to design and make these.  If society collapses, I can easily see us losing the knowledge of how to make these.  I can see after a generation without them, people not being able to imagine they existed at all.

An aspect I didn't specifically mention in there might be apparent if you think about it.  There's a handful of companies that make these DSP chips.  An even smaller handful make high performance analog electronics.  The number of people who design these parts is shockingly small.  How many?  I honestly don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if the all the principal engineers who run the teams of lower level engineers that turn their conceptual designs into silicon could fit into a good-sized convention center.   


  1. I gotta bookmark this website it seems extremely helpful very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This includes an error of collectivism. You're speculating that during and after a hyperinflation everyone within the country ends up in the same overall economic situation, no matter if they are postmodern looney-toon or a chip designer. In reality, Darwinism gets a vote.

    The Dark Ages was only possible during the technology level of the Dark Ages. The present technology cannot fall to the dark ages, because technology growth overall advantages defense by individuals. Technology is growing slightly faster than exponential. Each passing day makes the postmodern rulers' financial and industrial position weaker, and the taxpaying victims' position stronger. I predict something like the burbclaves of Snow Crash, where the central ruler is gone, because that social structure militarily doesn't work anymore. Slavery fizzled out because you can't effectively make chattel slaves of machinery operators. Big government will fizzle out because you can't effectively make chattel slaves of anybody who can buy cheap open source drones.

  3. There is no doubt that humanity is 'devolving'. We are losing the capacity for rational fact it's becoming common for people who speak logically and factually to be attacked...both verbally and physically. As in almost all endeavors in the real world the climb to the pinnacle is long, arduous and difficult. The plummet from the top however is usually breathtakingly quick.
    The notion that we can't regress to the dark ages is ludicrous. We could EASILY
    regress to such a level. The dark ages was as much a condition of fear and superstition as it was a lack of factual knowledge. We are seeing much the same
    now with the denial of reality by vast numbers of people. Want to see the probable future? Watch this clip.

    1. I totally agree. I think of the post-modernist view of "relative truth/relative reality" not simply as an emotional "feeling" approach to reality (or even more as a _denial_ of reality) but as a return to an amalgam of wishful thinking and a belief in magic (e.g. belief in "cold fusion"), back long before the scientific method was conceived to help us define reality.

      How would the current crop of snowflakes be able to repair infrastructure such as power plants, generating stations - let along build new ones - based on the pap being taught at so many colleges and universities today? "Playing with the numbers", ala "climate change 'science' ", certainly will not enable them to duplicate even simpler feats of engineering such as providing electricity, let alone build the machinery to produce he chips necessary for the digital equipment used in so much of our world today. Worse - who would teach a new generation of young people the required knowledge and skills to reproduce even just a fraction of what is currently available, let alone teach the same STEM material to a following generation?

  4. There are two ways to obtain a large group of high performance individuals: improve the quality of the stock to push distribution of abilities rightward on the chart, or increase the population size so the number of +2 and +3 SD individuals is greater in absolute if not relative numbers. China is doing both of these. We are doing neither, in fact we're importing low-IQ population as fast as we can and promoting their reproduction at the expense of our high-IQ population. Only an idiot fails to see the long term consequences of this choice.

    1. We're doing worse than that. What high level thinkers we have are being marginalized or ignored altogether (finding themselves working at Walmart or such) if they do not kowtow to the prevailing cultural dogma. As a +5 individual, my worth as an engineer was such that I was able to get away with a modicum of right-leaning political small talk, but I was always on the edge of being involuntarily transferred to different organizations.

      Over 30 years and in several major companies, I watched many dozens of solid +3 engineers and technicians fall to the bottom of the performance score and be laid off because they answered the evaluation questions honestly. By the time I retired, only a small number of those measurements (four or so out of fifty) had anything at all to do with technical ability. Most had to do with a) whether they were a good fit to the collective, b) how much they agreed with the dogma, and c) to which disadvantaged victim group they belonged.

      Large technical companies have swallowed the dogma hook, line, and sinker. Worse, in most cases they led the charge.

    2. There's an idea floating around that white men should never apply to Fortune 500 companies. You might get hired, but if your goal is beyond the quiet, steady climb of job grades, you're better off going somewhere else. Move to management, or something out of the technical side? You'll probably not get the new job on diversity grounds.

  5. Sig, that is why I keep an old style tube AM/FM radio, I can fix it... Malatrope, it is like that in medicine, I was good, technically bright nurse and was very good at my job. It was in the early 80's when the sjw dogma started rearing it's ugly head in medicine and of course since I was a vet, (Army MP) and paid my own way in college I was strongly right sided in my thinking and actions. That did not go over well the incoming crop of hospital administrators and nurse mangers, who by the most part were women. So after twenty years of nursing I hung it up, not willing to battle dragoons as I was not allowed to carry a paring knife, let alone a sword.

  6. Interesting thoughts CIG. I wonder about science and their propensity to regard primitive people as inept such as Brits failing to understand central heating.
    Would this really be hard to figure out? After all there would be an outdoor fire pit and a flue that smoke cones out on the other side of the house? Maybe something else, like the amount of wood needed for a whole house heated. Maybe the Romans had ten captive slaves who could spend days cutting wood which the Brits didn't have or maybe the Romans had cut down all the trees in the area so it was only practical to heat only one room. Or maybe this was to insult the Romans by defacing their house.
    Either way thanks for this thoughtful essay.

  7. Well, that is not entirely true. I have seen a 3-man design house implement a homegrown DSP that outperforms a TI TSP. There are also lots of books on architecture (like Hennessey & Patterson) and even open source designs (see, e.g., and opensparc). That knowledge will be around even after disaster. In other words, doing the architecture work does not require a multi-billion dollar endeavor, even if the project is complicated, and it is not going anywhere.

    The problem is SC manufacture and supply chain. Each and every flow for each and every node is replete with trade secrets (i.e., recipes), and the end products will not work without them. When fabs stop running, the knowledge is lost - quickly. I have seen it happen with 0.25um because every one had moved onto smaller nodes a long time ago.

    With supply chain, SC requires lots of exotic materials for all parts of the process - metals like hafnium, zirconium, tungsten; abrasive slurries and pads for CMP machines; and so on. Disruptions in the supply chain can be disastrous and can happen easily. Imagine there is a disruption due to bad economic conditions.

    This is on top of all of the capex for facility, raw materials, and personnel to run it (cannot be done by a small group of people). SC requires the behemoths to exist. X-fab, which is probably the smallest, most bleeding edge foundry there is, is a multi-hundred million dollar beast.

    When the debt becomes unserviceable, and, if a Dark Age dawns, it will be in SC. But I think those fears a bit overblown. Economic pain is certainly in our future, but not a Dark Age. I suspect that the number of SC vendors will shrink and that traditional architectures are on the way out as a result of this future economic pain. ASICs and FPGAs are likely going to become the norm from digital vendors instead of the rigid designs (like traditional DSPs, x86, and ARM).

  8. “In the world I see you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Towers. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying stripes of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighways.” - Fight Club

  9. Yeah, but: most of those people who self-identify as conservatives are actually liberals. They were first lied to in government elementary school, and they haven't reexamined those beliefs bulk-loaded in childhood with their life-experienced adult mind yet. "Conservatism" says don't fundamentally question what government does, instead fit in with the herd. How liberal is that? Norman Rockwell Boy Scouts are liberals. William F. Buckley was a televangelist preaching a weekly church service for liberals. The WFB liberals wore a different sports team jersey, but they were smash-the-infidels liberals just like the other team.

    Mark Twain, now he was a conservative. Orwell, a conservative. Snowdon? Conservative.

    The mechanism of power transmission between the bulk of the people and the leaders/rulers is obedience. All of you liberals who vote Republican really ought to stop doing that and organize a grassroots movement. No, I don't mean another Tea Party to whine for tax funding for your pork, I mean organize to be able to stop obeying those really terrible laws. MLK had the Deacons for Defense and Justice, and actually succeeded with it. What have you got?

    1. Anon 1:30, You are right, but let's say that _many_ self-identified conservatives really aren't, not most.

      I was taught, and understand, that conservatives as those who _absolutely_ question what government does, who don't support a large, over-riding government forcing us to "fit in with the herd". Conservatives understand there is no freedom possible when the rights of the individual are deemed less important than the desires of the collective.

      Yes, I was deceived in elementary school, and even in high school, _but_ in high school I was also taught how to think for myself, was encouraged to take an actual class in critical analysis, as well as introduced to the scientific method.

      As I matured, I was able to determine that Abraham Lincoln was not a saint, nor the savior of the blacks that we had been taught he was, and that he ran rough-shod over much of the Constitution, before and during the War of Northern Aggression.

      I was able to see that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the cause of most of the Depression, not our savior from it, as well as one of the biggest socialists in American history (until the Obama-puppet came along). A man who liked and agreed with Stalin more than Churchill.

      I also am aware that the NRA has been one of the biggest gun control organizations since 1934, when they helped write the NFA - after which they helped write the GCA in 1968, the Lautenberg Amendment, and a lot of other gun control law, before and after. Talk about a fox in the hen house.

      I won't go on, but true conservatives need to not only stick together, we need to teach the folks who _could_ be true conservatives how to go about it, how to get there. Starting with our children, if we have any, and continuing on with friends, co-workers, and such. A lot of liberals will be unable to listen, let alone hear, but we need to make the attempt.

  10. Forget computers, how many people know how to grow food, mine iron and coal, or refine ore into usable metals?