Month: November 2014

Bursting my bubble

Yesterday was the first meeting for the first Students for Liberty club in Honduras.  I spoke briefly about the Zonas de Empleo y Desarollo Economico (ZEDEs).  There followed a wide ranging discussion about the advantages and pitfalls of the ZEDEs.  While the students seemed to grasp the potential, they feared the political process would corrupt the outcome, worrying that the ZEDEs might end up being used to enrich politicians at the expense of everyone else.

Afterwards I had a few drinks with Christian Betancort, a SFL representative from San Pedro Sula who had also been present at the talk.  It was my first extended discussion with a libertarian in Honduras and helped clarify my thoughts about the different social dynamics in moving to Honduras.

To put it bluntly, the culture shock of leaving the DC libertarian bubble has been far greater than the culture shock of living in Honduras.  Libertarians, as I imagine most social groups, have their own assumptions about knowledge, and even language, that is particular to them.  For a basic example, libertarians have a fairly particular definition of freedom.

I realized what has been most difficult for me socially is shifting out of the libertarian mindset.  Most foreigners in Honduras work for NGOs or teach.  Competition and commerce is not immediately assumed to be good.  Public choice problems are not implicit in discussions of government.  Cultural reference points for libertarians, and even DC residents in general, don’t exist.  People don’t know what a think tank does.

While I have spent most of my adult life in the libertarian bubble, I realized it was a bubble.  What I didn’t realize is how differently it functioned from other social organizations.  I had assumed other societies had similar bubbles.  There would be a progressive bubble, a Silicon Valley bubble, etc.  What I now realize is that such well defined bubble are the aberration, not the norm.  The NGO bubble is far less clearly defined than the libertarian bubble.  The sense of shared ideas and mission are weaker.  The social bonds function in a different, weaker, way.

I am not sure why this is.  It could be a testament to the power of libertarian ideas.  It could be due to libertarian organizations.  To some extent, it is probably due to both, though it is unclear why libertarians should have advantages in over other goal oriented social groups.  I would have expected development workers to have a similar canon of books, a similar private language, a similar sense of shared mission.

I now believe the libertarian movement is more unique than I did before.  Its social organization seems superior.  I am very excited to help extend this circle to Tegucigalpa and beyond.

Interview with Pax Dickinson on corruption in journalism and how he’s gonna fix it

It’s over here at TheDC. Check it out:

TheDC: What is, and what convinced you to the media needed to be taken on?

Dickinson: After what happened to me, I saw the same keep happening. Over the past year media behavior seems to have been getting progressively worse. The Brendan Eich incident, him being fired from Mozilla. The Matt Taylor incident, him being forced to give a tearful apology for wearing a shirt. And also GamerGate. It just seemed like a lot of threads were coming together and that the battlefield might be ready for something like this project to succeed.

TheDC: Aren’t there already media watchdogs, like Media Matters or the Media Research Center?

Dickinson: We’re different from those other groups because we aren’t politically partisan. We don’t represent team red or team blue, we’re with Team Grey. We are partisan to the internet generation and that libertarian-inflected free-speech-valuing culture. I think a lot of people out there are especially furious with the media right now, and this latest NYT outrage will only deepen the feeling. I woke up to the NYT’s Julie Bosman’s dox in my inbox this morning. She was one of the writers of that article doxxing Darren Wilson.

Stand up, and do what exactly?

Remember #BringBackOurGirls? The short-lived social awareness campaign to rescue hundreds of abducted girls in Nigeria has long petered out. For a brief moment earlier this year, the world focused on the plight of innocent girls kidnapped by the Islamic radical group Boko Haram. Even the First Lady joined in the crusade. Millions of Facebook and Twitter messages later, and we’re nowhere close to bringing back our girls. The campaign was high on emotion and low on substance; the perfect reflection of our tech-obsessed, low attention span culture.

Mollie Hemingway should understand this. Normally, The Federalist contributor is a thoughtful writer with an agreeable view on culture, politics, and personal relations. In the post-Christian era where traditional distinctions are blurred more than ever, she provides some sanity to combat the forces of relativism.

But in a recent piece, Hemingway displays an angry frustration with the feminist cyberwarriors that have been hogging so much of the media spotlight. Topic of her disgust: the radical feminine vitriol aimed at shabby dresser Dr. Matt Taylor. After successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 310 million miles from Earth, Taylor was chastised for wearing a bowling-style shirt embellished with scantily-clad women. A slur of insults and death threats followed. Even science-loving women were offended by the apparel.


Secession lagniappe

Starting to dig into the books that someone has very kindly bought me off my Amazon wish list. I’m a couple of chapters into Felix Morley’s only novel, Gumption Island, which is modeled — the map on the inside of the cover is almost identical to — Gibson Island in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where he lived and wrote. It’s very charming for an allegorical book; I’ll probably post an excerpt here at some point. Also, I’m a few chapters into Eugene McCarraher’s Christian Critics, about which more will be said here, but I first wanted to take note of something he mentions right in the beginning, that Ralph Adams Cram, the architect, was an early proponent of the Benedict Option — as in, 1909:

The manifold evils that canker the civilization of our own time are explicitly those that monasticism is best fitted to cure, and as a matter of fact, has cured again and again in the past Within this era are no powers of regeneration: atheism, secularism, materialism, intellectual pride and defiance of law are ill tools for building anew the ramparts of the City of God. The impulse must come from without, from God, not from the world; even as it came in such varying degrees and different ways through Benedictines, Cluniacs and Jesuits. When the abandoned insolence of man, mad in his pride of life, has dashed itself to the stars and, falling again, crumbles away in [35/36] impotent deliquescence, then perhaps will come the new prophet, son of S. Benedict (though perhaps in a new habit and with an amended rule), who as in 500 and 1000 and 1500, will release the souls of men from their captivity, and strive again to make all things new in Christ.

There have been a number of smart dissents on the Benedict Option recently, from Jonathan Rauch and Samuel Goldman that are worth reading.

Speaking of cultural disengagement, here’s First Things’ new marriage pledge:

To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings.

ACNA’s new archbishop has advised against signing it. He cites Doug Wilson’s commentary. Ephraim Radner responds to some objections here. Schmitz, Reno have more.

Canadian Anglicans discover the medicine wheel. USCCB endorses beatification of Fr. Paul Wattson


Almost funny Alaskan secession satire

Montana’s Confederate history

Food prices and Hawaiian independence

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs broke an open-meetings law. This is getting interesting.

Sherman as counterinsurgent

The new solid south

Texas secessionists say Obama’s immigration executive order should prompt a secession vote


Sacred Harp 146: ‘Hallelujah’

Someone posted a version of this song from Seoul about a week ago.

And let this feeble body fail,
And let it faint or die;
My soul shall quit this mournful vale,
And soar to worlds on high,

And I’ll sing hallelujah,
And you’ll sing hallelujah,
And we’ll all sing hallelujah,
When we arrive at home.

Shall join the disembodied saints,
And find its long-sought rest,
The only bliss for which it pants,
In my Redeemer’s breast.

Oh what are all my suff’rings here,
If, Lord, Thou count me meet
With that enraptured host t’appear,
And worship at Thy feet.

Give joy or grief, give ease or pain,
Take life or friends away,
But let me find them all again,
In that eternal day.