Technological decay

Earlier I argued that technology in the west peaked in 1970, Tallest building 1972, coolest muscle cars, last man left the moon,though it continues to advance in some other parts of the world:

Unreasonable expectations points at another indicator. The most advanced plane ever built, the SR71, was built in 1966, retired 1972. One would have expected stealthed mach three fighters and bombers to replace it, but instead, slower, lower performance stealthed fighters and bombers replaced it. Unreasonable expectations argues that all advances since then have been driven solely by advances in photolithography, and that when photolithography runs out, technological advance will end.

A number of posts have appeared by a number of people reporting slowing in technology, or actual decline in the level of technology: See Locklin for a summary and review.

I would instead predict that technological advance in the west will end. I see new technologies, such as the blue light semiconductor laser, which makes possible modern DVDs, e-ink, which made possible the kindle, and new construction methods for very large buildings, which make possible the remarkably cool asian airports, continuing to appear in Asia.

Oslo cityscape

Shanghai cityscape

Shanghai cityscape

You can see where the future is being made. The Oslo cityscape looks as though it should be in sepia, for the nineteenth century look – similarly when you google up street scenes from Europe and the US and compare them with equivalent street scenes from China.

In the 1930s, they imagined the world of tomorrow would look shiny and futuristic. It does look that way, but not in the west.

What is causing it?

Contrary to Charles Murray, it looks to me that our elite is less and less elite, less and less selected for ability, creativity, and intelligence, that it is now primarily selected for conformity and political correctness, and secondarily selected for race and gender, and thus excludes the person who is smarter than those around him, who tends to have difficulty conforming, and is apt to show signs of noticing the more illogical aspects of the holy faith. You observe a lot more women in today’s ruling elite, and women are noticeably less intelligent and logical, less capable of comprehending or advancing technology, and the smartest women are considerably less smart than the smartest men. There are no great female composers, despite the fact that women have been very strongly encouraged to go into music for several hundred years. There are no great female scientists, Marie Curie being a completely faked up poster girl and an affirmative action Nobel prize. So when you see lots of females in the elite, you are simply going to see less technology. You are going to see the really smart man (and he always is a man) simply have lower status and less time and resources to accomplish stuff.

If you read up on the challenger disaster, it is pretty obvious that the people making the decisions were just stupid, and engineers under them were markedly smarter.   Mulloy simply did not understand Lund’s presentation.  And because the bosses were just too dimwitted, the space shuttle fell out of the sky.  Further, the reason Lund was low status and Mulloy was  high status is because Mulloy was stupid enough to fit in with the elite, while Lund was just too smart to fit in.

Reading old books, it looks to me that in the US, selection on the basis of ability maxed in 1870 if we suppose breeding counts, and if we instead suppose that the college board test (which later became the SAT) is vastly more predictive than breeding, so that breeding should be completely and totally disregarded, then it looks to me that selection on the basis of ability maxed in 1910, when they started to worry more about the fact that high scorers tended to be affluent white males, than whether the exam accurately measured ability to benefit from the kind of material taught at college.

Ever since then, since 1870 or 1910, depending on how reactionary you are, our elite has just been getting dumber and dumber, hence, technological decline.

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69 Responses to “Technological decay”

  1. Hm, one great female composer: Hindegard von Bingen. At least I think she composed the music she is known for. Of course, that was a very, very long time ago.
    I find no fault with your analysis; our elites are morons compared to mediocrities of the turn of the last century. If you’ve seen the Harvard entrance exam of the 1870s….
    http://www.businessinsider.com/harvard-entry-exam-2011-7
    How many of our elite high school graduates could pass this today? I’ll go out on a limb: virtually none.

    I’ll go farther in my pessimism: the East doesn’t produce technological progress. It mostly copies Western innovations. No Western innovations, no progress.

    • jim says:

      Fortunately a lot of westerners are heading east. Perhaps that part of the world that continues to advance will look like the universe of NeoTokyo depicted in Japanese science fiction.

  2. Erm, “Hildegard”

  3. red says:

    I ran into a new hire that was smart enough to run our college’s EPM software the other day. I only had to give a general answer to overcome some misaligned data instead of having to fix it myself or walk her through it step by step. It made me realize how freaken dumb most the people we hire are. Almost all of them have Bachelors or master’s degrees and they can’t handle something as simple as fix an excel column that’s in the wrong position even though they work in the fiscal department.

  4. jim says:

    I just ran into a page displaying the rate of invention, which suggests that progress was most rapid in the period 1860 to 1910, about the same period as the period when, in my judgement, the elite was most efficiently selected for ability, the period when the elite really was the cognitive elite.

  5. The world runs in cycles between the freedom to innovate and accumulate great wealth and power by creating valuable things — and the freedom to generate great wealth only by playing political and religious games.

    Today in the west we are on the far side of the spectrum, where any highly beneficial innovation is squashed by the powerfully entrenched. The only possibility for massive wealth creation in the west involved creating an entirely new business — like personal computing — where there are no monopoly holders, and a relatively free market still exists.

    In the future, we should see more innovation in the same way, but more useful, minor innovations should happen in countries with less monopolized markets.

  6. That said, I think you’re wrong about this in general. If you calculate what it would cost (in man hours) to recreate the quality of life you now enjoy in the year 1870, I think that you will find that you’re living better than any king on earth at that time.

    A lot of the innovation all around us has moved from big, obvious, famous leaps, to more gradual and subtle changes that continually improve the quality of life for everyone.

    For example, how much would it cost to hire men to stand 50 yards apart, in lines from your castle to each home on earth, so that you might relay messages back and forth anywhere on earth? We now enjoy this luxury, digitally, at little cost, and its value is incomprehensibly vast. This is just one example of the creeping, “invisible” wealth that grows every day, improving our lives significantly over time.

    Communication is so valuable, and speeds wealth creation so well, that we would be naive to ignore its massive impact on our lives and dismiss its tremendous modern efficiency as a “non-significant” development.

    • jim says:

      you calculate what it would cost (in man hours) to recreate the quality of life you now enjoy in the year 1870,

      I said that technology in many, probably most fields peaked in 1972. We are better off in computers than we were in 1972, but it is not apparent that we are better off in other areas.

      Technological progress, not technology, peaked around 1870-1910. The fact that we are better off than we were in 1870-1910 does not contradict my case.

    • How are you defining “technology?” Any measure of technology in my mind will result in a clear win for the 2012 version of almost anything. Compare an average car from 1972 and 2012 and you’ll see that the newer car blows the older one out of the water; no contest, if we compare what 700 man-hours can purchase.

      I would say that the improvements in auto technology (and most other tech) was greater from 1972 to 2012 than it was from 1932 to 1972, if one compares the total value of the car to an average human being. A car in 1932 was not much worse than a 1972 car. The rate of improvement seems to be better and better.

      • jim says:

        Any measure of technology in my mind will result in a clear win for the 2012 version of almost anything.

        1972 skyscrapers and 1972 warplanes clearly win over today’s US skyscrapers and today’s US warplanes. The SR-71 could easily outfly anything that flies today. In 1972 men walked on the moon. Now they don’t – and cannot.

        And, more mundanely, today’s toilets and clothes washing machines are just terrible compared to 1972 clothes washing machines and toilets. American’s clothes are dirtier today than in 1972. That is not only my subjective impression, Choice magazine tests confirm it. America is just getting dirtier, shabbier, and less shiny. Needs more paint.

    • “We are better off in computers than we were in 1972, but it is not apparent that we are better off in other areas.”

      I don’t understand how you can say this with any semblance of a straight face. Compare any technology from 1972 to its modern counterpart and the 40 year-old version will be a joke.

      You must remember to compare technology dollar-for-dollar. A lot of modern progress involves making things more efficient (cheaper) and more reliable. Modern machines are much, much, much cheaper. And much much much more reliable than anything from 1972.

      All modern tech requires less effort to acquire, less effort to repair, less effort to fuel, and functions at a higher level. Pick any technology and let’s compare them, dollar for dollar over their lifespan, and you’ll find that modern machines are exponentially more valuable.

      • jim says:

        I notice that the major improvement that you list on modern cars are pollution controls – whose benefit is defined by government, rather than customers. Classic cars are classics for a reason.

      • I did not mention pollution controls at all. When I mentioned efficiency I meant to refer to the factories that produce the technologies we enjoy, which become more efficient over time, lower the cost of production. I didn’t mean that cars produce less pollution, but that is also the case. And it would be the case without any interference from government — reducing pollution is just another way of talking about improving the performance of an engine. Private companies do that automatically. And most of the government controls lower fuel economy and engine lifespan as they add cost to the final product.

        My point was that technology improvements are small and incremental. They are designed to make all of the technology that improves our lives cheaper and more durable (and use less fuel and pollute less, too).

        • jim says:

          I did not mention pollution controls at all.

          The major supposed improvement in cars is the catalytic converter, whose utility I doubt.

          • Red says:

            Try living around LA before catalytic converters. You couldn’t see the shiny buildings through the smog.

          • jim says:

            So you are told. Frequently. Did you yourself see this? You have seen photos with what you are told is smog – but if it was smog, rather than fog, would be there day in and day out. Here is the LA skyline, 1972 The skyscrapers are tiny dots in the far distance, yet are not obscured by smog.

            Most of the time the infamous LA smog was curiously invisible. Maybe, even though invisible, it had serious health effects on humans, but I don’t see people complaining about the vog in hawaii until the vog passes three hundred times the legal limit for SO2.

            Despite pollution control measures, the LA skyline is not obviously less obscured less frequently today than it was in 1972.

      • And by “efficient factories” I don’t mean that they pollute less. I mean that they can make cars at a lower total cost.

    • Here is a comparison of a 1978 car to its modern version. The original had 60 hp, rusted in three years, no catalytic converter (very stinky), 12 inch wheels, 0-60 in 14 seconds, a one-star crash test rating (very dangerous), no A/C, no stereo, a shitty four speed transmission, and it rusted to uselessness usually within three years, requiring repairs.

      It cost 776 man-hours to purchase for an average American worker. The new version is tremendously better by all measures, and costs 100 man-hours less.

      Technology isn’t about improving big famous things. It is about improving our lives. Building a nuclear bomb and a supersonic jet plane improve the lives of a few people. Directing technology to small incremental improvements yields tremendous results, as shown in this car example.

      Link: http://stoneglasgow.blogspot.com/2011/07/middle-class-stagnation-case-study.html

      • jim says:

        Firstly, not “very stinky” I do not recall any of my cars issuing smoke or noticeable odor. I have never lived in place where automobile pollution bothered me, though I have heard such places existed. I am suspicious of such claims, since the volcano on the big Island has to cause Hawaiian air to exceed permitted levels of sulfur compounds by a factor of over three hundred, arguably over one thousand, before people start having problems and complaining, thus today’s pollution limits are clearly irrational and extreme.

        As for the crash rating, I don’t see that we have substantially reduced accident injuries.

        I liked cars with manual transmissions. I don’t consider them shitty.

        US median wage in 2010 was $26,364. US male median income in 1972 was $10,540

        A Buick, which back in 1972 was a typical car most people would buy, cost about four thousand dollars in 1972, say 40% of male median annual salary.

        Today’s Honda Civic, which is a typical car most people would buy today, costs about twenty thousand, about 75% of median salary.

        Which looks to me like a massive fall in living standards. The electronics in the modern car are nicer, but I really don’t give a $#!& about the stereo. The working class guy of 1972 could take a girl for a ride a lot easier than the working class guy of 2010. Electronics be damned.

        • I removed the catalytic converter from my 1987 car, once, and had to reinstall the damn thing because the smell was so strong that no one could ride in the car without asking if it were on fire.

          Auto accident fatalities has been falling rapidly if measured in miles driven. Total fatalities, even with the increasing population, is flat. Total deaths per 100 million miles driven fell from a bit over 7 in 1950 to about 1 in 2010:

          http://investmentdirections.com/2011/01/08/automobile-deaths-and-the-how-to-be-a-losing-investor/

          By “shitty” manual transmission, I mean a sloppy, cheap, low-quality piece of machinery with terrible synchros and a clutch pad that will last 10,000 miles. Modern manual transmissions are a thing of beauty compared to the POS in a 1978 civic.

          If you’re going to compare a Buick in 1972 to a modern Civic, you could at least use real-world numbers, as I have done with the Civic. A 1963 Buick Riviera retailed for $4,333, and retailed for $5,149 by 1971, costing about 74% of a median white male’s annual wage.

          According to the US census, median individual income for white males was $7,011 in 1970 and was $34,047 in 2010. A 2012 Civic costs only 65% of a median white male’s annual wage, and is a much longer-lasting (300k miles), more fuel efficient, safer, and faster machine with a lot of conveniences that you don’t appear to care about. Most people do care about their stereo, and most people do care that the car will break down less often and burn less fuel.

          • jim says:

            I removed the catalytic converter from my 1987 car, once, and had to reinstall the damn thing because the smell was so strong that no one could ride in the car without asking if it were on fire.

            That is because 1987 cars are shit, because my cars smelled fine long before the era of the catalytic converter. My earliest car was made in the early sixties.

            Modern cars, in order to reduce NOx, are designed to output reducing gases, which stink, and which reduce engine efficiency. Old cars always output slightly oxidizing or neutral gases, as near as neutral as possible. If your car started to stink, that is to say output a slightly reducing exhaust, this was a horrible problem that you should fix, not because you were worried about pollution, but because you were worried about performance and contaminating your oil.

            By “shitty” manual transmission, I mean a sloppy, cheap, low-quality piece of machinery with terrible synchros and a clutch pad that will last 10,000 miles.

            My first clutch pad wore out at around one hundred thousand miles, so I doubt that old cars had “a clutch pad that will last 10,000 miles.” I have never had a problem with synchros wearing out. Indeed, synchros wearing out was assumed to be a demonstration that women drivers cannot drive stick. If a man drives manual, synchro never wears out.

            A 1963 Buick Riviera retailed for $4,333, and retailed for $5,149 by 1971, costing about 74% of a median white male’s annual wage.

            The median male, not the median white male, had a 1972 salary of 10 540, so it cost 48% of the median males salary – which I am pretty sure is considerably less than a modern car costs of today’s median male.

            According to the US census, median individual income for white males was $7,011 in 1970 and was $34,047 in 2010.

            I cannot find your numbers in the link that you provided. My 1972 numbers come from here and my present day numbers come from here Recall that the past is always changing, so if old facts about the past contradict new facts about the past, you should go with the old facts. To ascertain the truth about the past, do your best to find a scan of an old paper document.

            The current census, contrary to the Huffington post link, says median male income is thirty two thousand, in which case a new car costs sixty two percent of the median salary, up from forty eight percent in 1972.

          • The old census scan that you linked shows median income in 1972 to be $3,571 per year, meaning that a Buick Riviera would cost 144% of a median worker’s annual income.

            Using the Huff Post figures for modern median salary is pretty silly. If we are to use census figures from the past we must also use census figures from 2010. Or we could compare the reporting of liberal newspapers in the 1970s, too, if you’d like. I’m sure they report the median worker earning far less than the census indicates.

          • This is important.

      • jim says:

        In 1972, a loaf of bread in the US cost about ten cents. A man’s median annual salary could buy one hundred thousand loaves of bread

        In 2010, a loaf of bread in the US costs about a dollar. The median annual salary can buy one quarter as much bread.

        And about two thirds as much car.

      • jim says:

        The best measure of technological capability is access to energy.

        Price of gasoline in 1972, 0.36 cents per gallon, so the median male salary could buy thirty thousand gallons of gasoline

        Today, however the median salary could buy only seven thousand gallons of gasoline, could command only a fifth as much energy.

        Price of electricity in 1972 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour. Price today about 11.6 cents. So today’s median salary can command twenty percent more energy in the form of electricity – but far less energy in the form of fuel.

      • jim says:

        I don’t believe your car example, and neither do the fans of classic cars, and it is pretty clear that clothes washing machines and toilets have become dramatically worse, due to restrictions on water and phosphate use.

        • What do you mean you “don’t believe” my car example? I offered linked references. I love classic cars. I have owned and repaired many old and new cars during my lifetime. During my time working in a mechanic’s garage, and my considerable foray into the business of buying and repairing old vehicles, I can say with certainty that newer cars are more reliable, burn less fuel, and are much faster and better handling per dollar spent.

          Washing machines are much more efficient today. Phosphates are restricted in commercial products but we are still free to add trisodium phosphate (available at the hardware store) to our laundry if we want to experience the full effect of old-school detergents.

          And toilets are not all low-flow. One can still purchase high-power toilets and shower heads if one so desires.

          • jim says:

            What do you mean you “don’t believe” my car example? I offered linked references

            That modern tinfoil and cardboard cars are an improvement is a value judgement that I do not share. I don’t like those @%#$! electric windows and I much prefer the manual shift. Modern cars cost five times as much as 1972 cars, so even if you are correct that modern wages have risen five times since 1972, I still think we are worse off.

            Washing machines are much more efficient today.

            “Energy efficient” is code for “The electric motor is three sizes too small and the rotor is made out of tinfoil”

            Much more efficient in power and in water use – which unfortunately means considerably less efficient in cleaning clothes. They are just less powerful. An old washer will thrash the hell out of your clothes, and when it spins, will not start bumping like a modern washer will if the clothes are not quite perfectly balanced and will not then stop spinning and whine at you to rebalance the clothes so that it can spin them dry. New clothes washing machines are crap. Their fragile tinfoil and cardboard construction means they cannot spin a small load unless you get the balance just right, and if you have a stain that does not want go, they just will not beat that stain out because they don’t “waste” power by thrashing the hell out of your clothes.

            An old clothes washing machine can spin an unbalanced load dry because the outside of its rotor is heavy steel. A modern clothes washing machine will detect the imbalance and use its clever electronics to cleverly beep at you to balance the load – which you probably cannot, so you skip the spin dry stage and wind up with a great heavy load of sopping wet clothes resembling that which you would have wound up with had you used the old method of beating the clothes on a flat rock in the creek.

          • Red says:

            Jim’s nailed the quality of modern washing machines. I’ve seen the lack quality and worse the lack of durability in modern appliances everywhere. My parents had to replace an oven just 3 years after purchase and a washing machine after 5 years. Compare that the cheep washing machine we had when I was a kid that lasted 15 years and the oven that was over 30 years old and still going.

      • jim says:

        According to Prices What things cost a new car in 1972 was $4500, is now 21000, which fits my recollection and the examples I googled up – that it is today far more difficult for a person on the median salary to buy a car, and immensely more difficult for him to buy fuel for that car.

        For which the catalytic converter is small compensation.

        • Take a look at the census reports for white median males. $7k in 1970, $34k in 2010:

          http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/people/

          Modern cars take less median labor from white males today, and the cars are much, much, much better.

          • jim says:

            When I look at your link, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/people/ does not say that. Possibly one of the excel worksheets its links to says that, but I could not find that document.

            You will have to be more specific about how and where the link says that, for I could not that statement on that page.

          • The excel document is under “Table P-5. Regions—People by Median Income and Sex” near the top of the page.

            You can open the “all races” doc or select one of the other races. It shows median income as $7,450 for all races in 1972. This contradicts the scan of the document you posted, which indicates around $3,500 per year, but the “non military” income is relatively close, at about $7,600.

            The figure you’ve previously used, $10,540, is for full-time males only. All of our other data is not for full-time employment only, so we must compare apples to apples. We can’t use modern Huff Post propaganda that includes people who are unemployed men (and women) and compare it to 1972 data that is for fully employed men.

          • jim says:

            Fair enough, but because back then women were generally part time workers earning a bit of pocket money, were not seriously in the job market, we should not use the median wage, but rather the median male wage. Back in the day, a girl would generally get a ride from a guy.

            Using median male wages from the document P05AR_2010.xls, was $7450 in 1972, $32136 in 2010

            A new car cost about four thousand in 1972, 53% of median male salary, twenty thousand in 2010, 62% of median male salary.

          • And sticking with the car example, how can you deny the following?

            Modern cars:

            1. Last much longer

            2. Require no repairs or major maintenance until 100k miles. 1972 cars requires spark plugs, points, carburetor adjustment very often, and would require many repairs before 100k miles. They’d need an engine rebuild (or at least a short block) at 120k miles or so.

            3. Have standard A/C, high quality stereo, power everything. And the A/C will not break every year.

            4. Get much better gas mileage. A 1972 Buick got 13 mpg in the city. A modern Civic gets 26.

            5. Modern cars are safer, even though they are lighter. A new Civic can hit a brick wall (or a 1972 Buick) at 45 mph and allow the driver to walk away unharmed. Auto fatalities are over seven times less per mile driven than in 1950.

            6. Have a higher top speed. A Riviera maxed out at 115 mph. A new Civic will go 146 mph.

            7. Have faster acceleration. A Riviera did 0-60 in 7.9 seconds in 1970 and
            8.1 seconds in 1972. A new Civic will do it in 6.4 seconds.

            8. Are cheaper for the median worker (we are debating this point, but I think they are clearly cheaper if you use the same source for new and old data!)

          • jim says:

            That 1972 cars could be repaired by the owner, and if repaired by a mechanic the owner understood what the mechanic was doing, was a significant advantage. Maintenance has become rarer, in part because it has become nearly impossible.

            Fuel cost was cheaper. The rising cost might be because we are running out of oil, but synfuel was cheaper back then also.

            As for performance, you are comparing with the Honda Civic type R Muygen, which is a high performance car that costs a bundle. The Honda Civic EX does 0 to sixty in 9.2 seconds.

            Honda Civic Ex, 2012 pricing data.
            Avg. Paid:$15,878 – $23,913
            MSRP: $15,605 – $23,905
            Invoice: $14,388 – $22,001

            If we are comparing ordinary guy 1972 cars, with ordinary guy 2010 cars, we see a small but significant loss of performance.

            And, as I said above, 2010 cars are more expensive for the ordinary male worker. He pays more money, gets less performance.

            I concede on safety though.

          • It’s not nearly impossible. I can still change the spark plugs and belts on a modern car. And one can now purchase the computer-reading connections for a laptop at a minimal expense.

            The difference is that maintenance is no longer needed until the car is very old. And even then, less repairs and maintenance is required of a modern car with 100k miles on it than a brand new car built in 1972.

            As I argued above, you are comparing apples to oranges. Modern cars take less hours to acquire for the median worker today than in 1972.

          • jim says:

            Modern cars take less hours to acquire for the median worker today than in 1972.

            To make that comparison, would need the full time median male worker.

            We have, however, the median male worker.

            Using median male wages from the document P05AR_2010.xls, was $7450 in 1972, $32136 in 2010

            A new car cost about four thousand in 1972, 53% of median male salary, twenty thousand in 2010, 62% of median male salary. A new car in 1972 was bigger, considerably heavier, and more powerful. Back in 1972 the median male got considerably more car for considerably less work, though it probably did not have air conditioning or a stereo.

          • I concede on the 0-60 times for a Riviera vs a Civic.

  7. Steve Johnson says:

    The saddest thing I’ve seen in my life is the view just to the left of that shot you have there of Shanghai.

    • jim says:

      What is the view just to the left?

      • Steve Johnson says:

        Just to the left of that shot is the Bund – a waterfront of buildings with western style architecture all built around the turn of the century.

        If you go to that area today you see exactly what you said in your post – it looks out across the river on the gleaming cityscape pictured in your post. The Bund is as if the Oslo* and Shanghai you showed were on two sides of a river.

        * That the Bund is far more beautiful and well done than Oslo is even worse. The Bund in Shanghai is amazing and was the best the West could do before the West fell apart.

  8. Alrenous says:

    The elite may be smart anyway, under two conditions.

    First, hypocrisy. The people actually running the show may be so smart they sort of brute-force the appearance of conformity and then manipulate from behind that smokescreen. If they’re really smart they will let figureheads tank all the attention and I’ll never hear about them.

    Second, the full ruleset for a progressive is getting progressively more complex, taking up more and more brainspace in even the very smart. Being a high priest selects for enough memory to remember all the monkeybars and the mental agiliity to climb to the one you’re supposed to be on in any situation.

    • jim says:

      It is also getting simplified. They used to have smart rationales for complex and mutually contradictory positions. Now they don’t.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Indeed the elite are getting less elite. And that is the answer to Charles Murray’s question of why they do not share their “secret” with the rest of us. They only way they can ensure their position (and that of their children) is to handicap everyone else by inflicting diversity and 1960s free love and drugs bs on them.

  10. spandrell says:

    Rent seeking explains it nicely. Elites are simply those better at seeking rent and keeping it. Gotta be smart to get rent, but not that smart anyway.
    I mean, the Clintons are elite. Please.

    • jim says:

      A corruptocracy is apt to be dumber than the meritocracy that Charles Murray thinks we have.

      Observe the Friends of Angelo program, named for Angelo Mozilo, a banker as thick as two two by fours glued together. The list of people he benefited, which is mainly leftists in regulatory power and in quasi state institutions, particularly Fannie and Freddie, fails to impress with brilliance.

  11. [...] will continue until the US runs out of money.  Interestingly Jim posits the years of either 1870 or 1910 as the peak intelligence of our elites. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to [...]

  12. Zach says:

    Good persuasion.

    If we consider just music and females for a moment, I find it difficult to ascertain if ability, disinterest or culture is the reason why their footprint in composition – historically speaking – is so small?

    Unlike Computer Science, music’s purview tends to venture away from pure cognitive ability, and reasoning. However, pure composition as opposed to just general music making, as in writing music bar to bar ventures much closer to requiring cognitive ability, I think.

    A small aside:

    I remember in my younger years trying to find the greatest musical prodigy of all time. It probably wasn’t Felix Mendelssohn, but it could be. It most assuredly wasn’t Mozart. I think I settled with Camille Saint-Saens (skipped accents). A french composer and pianist who was a complete genius in many fields of study. Further, I attained on CD his piano recordings from around 1920 or so which also included the much better pianist Josef Hofmann. See here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Saint-Saens-Plays/dp/B000001VJC/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1332253325&sr=8-2-fkmr0

    As time has revealed more and more layers of truth I believe Beethoven was a complete dunce. Composition did not come easily to him. However, nobody holds a candle to his catalog of piano sonatas.

    So I’ll reiterate: I’m not confident how much cognitive ability influences composing a masterpiece to take just one example. Thus Women may not ACTUALLY have their hands tied in this arena.

  13. RS says:

    > Second, the full ruleset for a progressive is getting progressively more complex, taking up more and more brainspace in even the very smart. Being a high priest selects for enough memory to remember all the monkeybars and the mental agiliity to climb to the one you’re supposed to be on in any situation.

    All you need do is be a mincing androgyn, check everything you say, and remember what the hierarchy of victim groups is. It’s more toilsome than challenging, but not even that toilsome. BC calculus it ain’t.

  14. anonymous says:

    if marie curie doesn’t count (or was ‘affirmative action’d in, or whatever), how about Emmy Noether (she got a compliment from Einstein IIRC), Maria Goppart-Mayer, or Barbara McClintock?

    • jim says:

      Marie Curie does not count because she was the third person on the three person team that discovered radium, the least important and least significant person on the team, and the main reason radium is important is that it led to the discovery of radon, radon being important because it led to the discovery of the transmutation of elements. But no one got a Nobel for Radon, or indeed any other element, whereas Marie Curie got not one, but two Nobels for discovering radium. Thus, obvious affirmative action.

      Your other examples are even more ludicrous, drawing attention to how low you have to go to scrape up female scientists

      • anonymous says:

        Your other examples are even more ludicrous,

        Really? How so? If Marie doesn’t count for being the “third and least important person” on the team, do the other examples not count for similar reasons?

        • anonymous says:

          (P.S: Genuinely not trying to be smart-alecky or confrontational. I saw a link to your blog elsewhere, saw this entry on the front page, and thought you might have an interesting answer to this question. That’s all, no offense intended)

          • jim says:

            Sorry for being rude. I don’t want to explain why the n’th nonentity is a nonentity. It proves my case that the first nonentity is a nonentity. If they had anyone more plausible than Marie Curie they would run with the best poster girl available.

            Whatever the n’th poster girl did, ask the same question that you should have asked about Marie Curie. If a man did that would I have heard of him?

        • jim says:

          Marie does not count because you have never heard of the people who discovered the other one hundred elements, therefore, quite obviously, affirmative action. From the fact that the most famous female scientist is famous for something that would not make a man famous, you may conclude that the state is hard up for credible female scientists, that there are precisely zero female scientists who would be famous on their merits.

  15. Mark says:

    From the above article-”The most advanced plane ever built, the SR71, was built in 1966, retired 1972. One would have expected stealthed mach three fighters and bombers to replace it, but instead, slower, lower performance stealthed fighters and bombers replaced it.”
    The new robotic (not just remote control, but can actually carry out autonomous missions) Northrop Grumman X-47B drone aircraft currently being tested by the Navy may not go mach 3, but if scientists 50 years ago tried to reverse engineer the thing, it may as well be an alien spacecraft to them. First, they cannot even examine the microprocessors because they didn’t have advanced electron microscopes to see circuits that tiny. They could probably only guess that those little silicon chips were integrated circuit processors. They would also be stumped by things like fiber optics and FLIR cameras, CCD sensors, or similar which are probably on this thing. Then there is the material it is made of for stealth technology. They would probably figure out it is invisible to radar eventually but most likely would take a long time to figure out what it was. Robotics aside, they probably would wonder how it flew at all, since even piloted aircraft with a stealth aerodynamic configuration need computers to fly because they lack dynamic stability, making them dangerous and difficult to try to fly without computer assistance.

    • jim says:

      Yes, computers have advanced. But planes, cars, and tall buildings have not, have indeed regressed, even though they now contain computers which are highly advanced.

      • Mark says:

        It depends on how you measure it. We don’t have an SR-71 because we have spy satellites that do the same thing and are currently not as vulnerable to being shot down, then there is the Aurora project, which I believe is a spy plane that beats the SR-71 for performance. And there is more to military performance than just speed. An F-4 Phantom by any measure is a speed demon, but give me an F-22 anyday and I will shoot the F-4 out of the sky without even a fight.

        As far as cars go, sure if you compare a Ford focus to an old school muscle car it is not very impressive except for the computer features. However, if you compare top of the line technology from the 60′s and 70′s and the best technology available today there is a big difference. Compare to a Tesla Model S or Roadster. Also compare to a Google car that can now pretty much drive itself. It is only a matter of time before fully automated cars will hit the market.

        Now it is technologically possible even if it hasn’t been done yet, to put a Google style automated system on a Tesla that gets 300 miles on a battery charge. The battery attached to a quick charger can charge halfway up in the time it takes to get a coffee at Starbucks. Now combine that technology with a Siri-like voice interface system and you have a high performance EV real life version of “KITT” from Knight Rider lol. Okay, not quite as Kitt was true human level AI and SIRI only pretends to be. It would still seem like science fiction to someone in the 1960′s or even the 1980′s.

        I agree automotive advancement in recent decades has been kinda slow, but these new technologies will change all that very soon. All these features I describe are not some future technology that “might” be possible with a few more breakthroughs. This is stuff that can be done today, and I believe we will have cars like this being mass manufactured in a decade at most. A car like I described I would consider a major advancement.

        • jim says:

          The Aurora spy plane is a myth, and myth created out of our sense of loss, the loss and sadness caused by the fact that we can no longer do such things.

          The range and performance of the Tesla is pretty ordinary, the car is expensive, and it is not exactly being mass produced. Tesla motors is a political company, that exists because regular car companies are forced to buy its stuff by government bureaucrats, thus is producing the Tesla S as political gesture rather than as a practical car.

          The battery attached to a quick charger can charge halfway up in the time it takes to get a coffee at Starbucks

          Another fantasy occasioned by our sense of loss.

      • Mark says:

        As far as buildings go I think it is as much a matter of taste and politics as it is technology. People in the western world like their old buildings, many people consider them charming and don’t want to tear them down to build the newest concept skyscrapers. However, this is not true everywhere. I recently read an article in the Economist about how American architectural firms are doing most of their business in China now. So the western trained architects are still designing the latest and greatest buildings and seeing them built, just not in the Western World as much.

        • jim says:

          As far as buildings go I think it is as much a matter of taste and politics as it is technology. People in the western world like their old buildings, many people consider them charming and don’t want to tear them down to build the newest concept skyscrapers.

          There is a big hole in Manhattan that shows no sign of being filled.

          Yes, western trained architects are still advancing the state of the art, but there is no place in the west for its best people.

          • Mark says:

            That big hole in Manhattan is an example of politics getting in the way of building something new.

          • jim says:

            Similarly, politics gets in the way of most engineering in most fields, and almost all science. That is what social decay is. Observe, for example, how almost all experimental science these days is based on irreproducible results, and theoretical science has become postmodern. That is because a “scientist” is no longer someone who scrutinizes the external world, but one who provides the bureaucracy with the results that it wants, regardless of whether these results have any connection to reality.

  16. Mark says:

    I’m not sure where the information comes from that the SR71 was retired in 1972. It appears they were in use until 1998. I suspect there was no longer a need for this class of aircraft at that time. However I don’t think military aircraft have become better – they’ve become more expensive due to the bureaucracy involved. This is a sign of progress in a sense – people justifying their existence with meaningless jobs can occur because we need less man-hours to satisfy our basic needs. The economics of it are an artificial layer including factors such as who can convince someone else to pay them more money.

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