Friday, February 23, 2018

Tribalists Have Beam in Eye

David Brooks Denounces Your "Tribal Emotions" and Also Is, Personally, Stoked to Learn He's Steven Pinker's 3rd Cousin
They got 15 Jewish-American celebrities (Ruth Behar, Joshua Bell, Mayim Bialik, David Brooks, Linda Chavez, Alan Derhowitz, Stephen Dubner, Nadine Epstein, Tovah Feldshuh, A.J. Jacobs, Steven Pinker, Robert Siegel, Thaddeus Tobe, Laurel Touby, and Esther Wojcicki) to take a 23andMe DNA test.

Moment summarizes:

For the most part, we found zero degrees of separation.

This means that most of the individuals we tested were directly related to one another.

This finding far exceeds the three degrees of separation found among most Americans.
I noticed Linda Chavez in the list and thought, not that Linda Chavez. But it is:
Linda Chavez’s family has lived in the New Mexico area for hundreds of years, and was always Catholic as far as she knew. A simple question she asked about a funny habit her grandmother had where she turned a statue towards the wall led her to discovering her family included conversos, or Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism in 15th and 16th century Spain. Many conversos fled to the new world, ending up in Mexico and the nearby US states, including New Mexico. Albuquerque, the capital of New Mexico, even has a page on the city’s web site explaining conversos and their history in the city.

There is even evidence that Chistopher Columbus himself, who sailed on behalf of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, the same monarchs that forced Jews to convert, and in the same year that the inquisition began, was from a Jewish family that secretly converted. See this CNN article, Was Christopher Columbus secretly a Jew?, written by Charles Garcia.
I hadn't heard that one before.

Progressives Upset Bankers

After kicking right-wing users off various platforms such as PayPay, Airbnb and domain hosting, one progressive thought to take it a step further: shut down all financial transactions involving guns. The NYTimes didn't think it was insane; it published it. According the the writer Sorkin, executives he talked to said it was a good idea. Whether they were serious or afraid of being burned at the stake I honestly cannot guess.

But at least one banker realized this was insanity.

Call for bank crackdown on gun sales is deeply misguided
What Sorkin is suggesting is more of the same, although perhaps with worse consequences. If banks take action where policymakers do not or cannot, they are essentially putting themselves above the law. And if banks start playing that role, where does it end?

What if, for example, banks and credit card companies decided to stop processing payments for any retail purchase of cigarettes? After all, cigarettes are demonstrably bad for all consumers, and secondhand smoke can harm innocent people. Should banks step in to help protect society at large?

Or what if banks decided to stop processing payments for abortion clinics because they believed the practice was immoral? Is it fair for financial institutions to make abortion effectively illegal? What if President Trump called on financial firms to cut off access to environmental groups he believed were delaying projects that could bring jobs to local economies? Maybe banks should freeze Colin Kaepernick’s checking account until he stops kneeling during the national anthem?

Many of these examples are extreme, but you get my point. Just because banks can be used to have a dramatic impact on our society doesn’t mean they should be.
Truth be told, I can't imagine cryptocurrencies displacing the existing financial system because of path dependency. In less developed countries, cryptocurrencies should take off faster because they lack infrastructure, similar to how less developed nations adopted mobile phones more quickly. However, if there's one surefire way to bring about the destruction of the existing financial system and replace it with crypto, it would be to put progressives in control. If you think progressives might win back power sometime in the next decade, all the more reason to support the breakneck pace of blockchain development.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Slowly Breaking The Overton Window, Into Pieces