The conclusion of this essay about the dictatorship of the small minority by Nassim Nicholas Taleb was written in August of 2016, and now appears prescient.

Alexander said that it was preferable to have an army of sheep led by a lion to an army of lions led by a sheep. Alexander (or no doubt he who produced this probably apocryphal saying) understood the value of the active, intolerant, and courageous minority. Hannibal terrorized Rome for a decade and a half with a tiny army of mercenaries, winning twenty-two battles against the Romans, battles in which he was outnumbered each time. He was inspired by a version of this maxim. At the battle of Cannae, he remarked to Gisco who complained that the Carthaginians were outnumbered by the Romans: "There is one thing that's more wonderful than their numbers ... in all that vast number there is not one man called Gisgo.[6]"[i]

Unus sed leo: only one but a lion.

This large payoff from stubborn courage is not just in the military. The entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people. So we close this chapter with a remark about the role of skin in the game in the condition of society. Society doesn't evolve by consensus, voting, majority, committees, verbose meeting, academic conferences, and polling; only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle. All one needs is an asymmetric rule somewhere. And asymmetry is present in about everything.

It's important to realize: most "lions" get crushed by the majority -- but the minority of successful "lions" still have a huge effect on society.


I'm not sure what Hillary Clinton's goal is, but her post-election conspiracy theories are growing increasingly odd. Tim Blair injects his comments into this ABC interview with Clinton by Sarah Ferguson.

CLINTON: I feel really terrible about losing it and I'm very clear in the book that I feel like I let people down, that there was so much at stake in this election. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be close, but I did not know that I would be running against not only Trump but the FBI Director and Vladimir Putin ...

[BLAIR:] The conspiracy count begins!

CLINTON: If you feed false information continuously to people about one candidate versus another, it does have an impact and we now know that the Russians actually paid in rubles for running ads in Facebook and on Twitter making all kinds of accusations against me ...

[BLAIR:] Add Facebook, Twitter and "the Russians" to Hillary's conspiracy count. And all Hillary had at her disposal to counter these social media ads - did anyone actually see them? - was the combined might of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, USA Today, every major television network, all late-night comedy hosts, NPR, CNN, several Fox News presenters, Hollywood stars and music stars, plus tons of Facebook and Twitter content. The poor woman never stood a chance.

And most painfully:

FERGUSON: Are you still angry with the idea that women could hear that tape and hear that language and behaviour and still vote for him?

CLINTON: I'm really disappointed. Michelle Obama said something the other day which I thought was, you know, very much on point - why would any woman give up her own self-respect to side with someone who is clearly sexist and misogynistic and by his own words ah guilty of sexual assault?

[BLAIR:] Hillary is married to Bill Clinton.

What is Hillary Clinton trying to accomplish? Just sell some books? Stay in the public eye... for what? To run for president again?


I love to run (15 miles per week) and lift weights (3 times per week), and I've been fortunate to have avoided many injuries from either.

Combined, capacity and load limits determine how resilient a runner's tissues are. When those limits are low, the odds for injury go up and performance can go down. This is where strength training comes in.

A 2016 meta-analysis of five studies on the impact of strength training on running found a "large beneficial effect" on running economy -- the ability to use less oxygen at the same pace -- three to four percent less, in fact. Most of the five studies included two to three strength sessions per week at low- to moderate-load in the range of 40 to 70 percent of one-rep max. In general, the studies involved two to four different exercises plus plyometric jumps and sprints.


Zero Hedge is conspiracy-minded, but today they've posted several videos taken during the Las Vegas shooting that clearly show shots fired from the hotel far below the 32nd floor.

#2 Were there additional shooters? A taxi driver reportedly captured video of an automatic weapon being fired out of a lower level window. A video from another angle and brief footage captured by Dan Bilzerian also seem to confirm that automatic gunfire was coming from a floor much lower than the 32nd floor room that Stephen Paddock was located on. And if you weren't convinced by the first three videos, this fourth video should definitely do it.

I pointed out on Monday that the shooting was weird, especially noting that I didn't believe a single shooter with semi-automatic rifles could wound so many people so quickly. Jon Rappoport agrees.

"...a potential MAXIMUM of only 360 rounds could be fired at full auto burst with NO magazine changes in the approximate four minutes or 240 seconds of the shooting!"

"So, Paddock didn't fire 360 rounds in 240 seconds because he had to stop and change magazines...probably 30 round mags. That would be THIRTEEN magazine changes in the 240 seconds. And it is reported he fired from both broken out windows in the room/s."

"Survivors state there were shooting pauses and that is when they would run."

"Let's say Paddock managed to get off an amazing 300 rounds in 4 minutes (or 240 seconds) and hit someone with EVERY ROUND."

"Remember, there were 573 killed and wounded according to late statistics."

"WHO, then, fired off the other full-auto 273 rounds also without missing a single shot ?!"

I don't think there's a conspiracy, and I'm sure we'll learn a lot more details in due course.


Michael Barone outlines some interesting potential consequences of California's early primary election schedule. It's always fascinating to me how much effect process has on outcome. See also: path dependence.

California doesn't vote much like the rest of the nation any more. It favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 30 point margin, the second most Democratic result (after Hawaii) in the nation. California voted 1 to 3 percent more Democratic than the nation in 1988, 1992 and 1996. Since then it has shifted to become more Democratic than the national result: 5 percent more in 2000, 6 percent more in 2004, 8 percent more in 2008, 9 percent more in 2012 and 13 percent more in 2016. This is the first time in American history that our largest state has voted at one end of the partisan spectrum. ...

So despite California Democrats' hopes that an early presidential primary date will give the state greater influence in selecting a Democratic nominee, past history suggests that that's not likely -- and that there's a risk that California, newly installed at the left extreme of the political spectrum, will tilt the process toward an unelectable left-wing nominee.

And it seems likely -- at least this is how it's worked out in the recent past -- that an early California primary will be determinative in the Republican nomination race, which may or may not be in Democrats' interests. Politicians fiddling with the presidential primary schedule should always remember that there's no way to repeal the law of unintended consequences.


President Trump's prayer for Las Vegas pretty much says it all.

'We pray for the day that evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and fear,' Trump said. 'May God bless the souls of the lives that our lost, may God give us the grace of healing and may God provide the healing family with the strength to carry on.'

One bit from the report caught my eye:

Police were able to pinpoint Paddock relatively quickly since the gunfire he emitted triggered the smoke alarms in the hotel.

They used explosives to blow the door off his room, but by then it was too late - Paddock had shot himself dead. ...

Two on-duty Las Vegas police officers who engaged the shooter have been hospitalized.

What does it mean that these brave officers "engaged" the shooter without entering his room? If they were at the concert, they were 1,700 feet away from the shooter. I can't imagine that they were shooting up into the hotel.

las vegas shooting scene.jpg

I don't understand how anyone could kill this many people from such a distance without military weapons.

Update:

David French thinks the shooting is strange too:

So, a person who's "not a gun guy" has either expended untold thousands of dollars to legally purchase fully-automatic weapons, somehow found them on the black market, or purchased and substantially modified multiple semi-automatic weapons -- and did so with enough competence to create a sustained rate of fire. This same person also spent substantial sums purchasing just the right hotel room to maximize casualties. I cannot think of a single other mass shooter who went to this level of expense and planning in the entire history of the United States.


Lots of people are apparently surprised that Congressional Republicans have completely failed to live up to their decade of promises to repeal Obamacare. Newsflash: you can't trust politicians. You can't trust Republicans, you can't trust Democrats, you can't trust any of them.

Senate Republicans, short of votes, abandoned their latest and possibly final attempt to kill the health care law Tuesday, just ahead of a critical end-of-the-week deadline.

The repeal-and-replace bill's authors promised to try again at a later date, while President Donald Trump railed against "certain so-called Republicans" who opposed the GOP effort. But for now, Trump and fellow Republicans who vowed for seven years to abolish President Barack Obama's law will leave it standing and turn their attention to overhauling the nation's tax code instead.

The GOP's predicament was summed up bluntly by Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a lead author of the legislation: "Through events that are under our control and not under our control, we don't have the votes."

"Am I disappointed? Absolutely," he said after a GOP lunch attended by Vice President Mike Pence.

I'm disappointed too, but not really surprised.

This is a perfect example of why we shouldn't give the government so much power.

All Americans should be united in sympathy and prayer for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. We pray for safety and peace in the following weeks and months, and that federal and local leaders have wisdom and boldness to make the best decisions for the territory.

If Puerto Rico is really without power for months, the island will depopulate as residents flee.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday night that it may take months to restore power to the entire island.

He said that as a result of the powerful Category 4 hurricane, no one on the island has power from utilities since the power grid is 'a little bit old, mishandled and weak'.

'It depends on the damage to the infrastructure,' Rosselló said. 'I'm afraid it's probably going to be severe. If it is ... we're looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.'

The sad truth is that the devastation on Puerto Rico is due not only to the power of Hurricane Maria, but also to decades of waste and mismanagement by the Puerto Rican government. Government incompetence and negligence created a fragile situation on the island, and the hurricane tipped them over the edge into disaster.


My youngest daughter has been obsessed with Moana for the past few months. She insists that I sing the entire soundtrack to her every night before bed, so I've become pretty familiar with the lyrics. In my opinion, the best line in the movie is in the song "We Know the Way".

We read the wind and the sky

When the sun is high

We sail the length of sea

On the ocean breeze

At night we name every star

We know where we are

We know who we are, who we are

The dominant theme of the movie is discovering who you really are, and it's powerful to me that Moana's ancestors knew -- both her grandmother, and the chieftain in the musical vision that her grandmother led her to. He knows who he is because he knows where he is: his ability to navigate the open ocean is what gives him the power to fulfill his purpose and comprehend his identity.

Later the demi-god Maui gives this power to Moana in a sequence that is critical to Moana's destiny without being overtly supernatural. At the end of the movie she returns to her island and her people, but it's impossible to think of Moana as a mere human anymore after having touched the gods.


It's fun to type the word "malfeasance", and yes, I was a little proud when it didn't earn a red underline from my browser because I spelled it right the first time. It's the little things in life.

But anyway, despite Hillary's humiliating electoral defeat, let's not forget how grossly negligent she and her aides were with classified information.

Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, non-state.gov account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.

The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, "as far as she knew," all of her government emails had been turned over to department.

Plus, of course, the pay-to-play relationship between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton "charity" foundation.

On July 16, 2009, Zachary Schwartz asked Band for help getting visas to travel to Cuba for a film production crew from Shangri La Entertainment. Band forwarded the request to Abedin, telling her, "Please call zach asap on this. [Redacted.] Important." Abedin responded, "I'll call zach when we land in India." Abedin concludes with "Enjoy. Cuba is complicated. Am sure you aren't surprised to hear that." Schwartz worked for Steve Bing, a mega-donor to the Clintons and owner of Shangri La Entertainment. Bing has reportedly donated $10-25 million to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton personally $2.5 million a year to be an adviser to a green construction company Bing owned.

On September 11, 2009, Terrence Duffy, chairman of futures brokerage firm CME Group, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, asked Clinton to arrange "government appointments" for him in Singapore and Hong Kong. Clinton, using her HDR22@clintonmail.com address, forwarded the request to Abedin, "fyi." Abedin responded to Duffy's email, saying she would "follow up" with Duffy's secretary, Joyce. Duffy gave $4,600 to Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign; CME Group paid Hillary $225,000 for a speaking fee and has donated between $5,001 and 10,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

And lots more... obviously.

(HT: Instapundit and Townhall.)


I guess you can interpret this partnership for yourself: Planned Parenthood teams up with Satanists to abort more babies in Missouri.

Missouri's recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state's abortion restrictions violate worshippers' rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and "consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree" during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

I wonder how this "stroke of good fortune" will impact the most vulnerable and defenseless people among us?

(HT: Breitbart and Patheos.)


This year I didn't "forget" about 9/11, but I did lose track of the current date over the weekend. I knew 9/11 was coming, but yesterday I forgot that it was 9/10. I'm grateful to the men and women who work hard to keep my family's life so normal.

It's been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks... kids who were born that year have almost graduated high school. I remember watching the TV news coverage that morning and calling my pastor to tell him what had happened. I had just returned from Europe less than a week ago, and I was grateful to be home instead of stranded abroad.

Over the weekend I tried to explain the attacks to my oldest daughter without being too graphic, but it was hard to convey the enormity of the event. I considered showing her pictures or video of the Twin Towers, but decided not to. I think that was wise, considering her age and the fact that we fly pretty frequently.

The attacks were intended to change the world, and they did. Or did they merely reflect a change that was already in progress? Probably both. It's hard to imagine a counterfactual world in which the 9/11 attacks were unsuccessful, and therefore didn't motivate American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the consequences therefrom. I'm pretty sure that would have been a better world... but maybe some other inciting incident would have happened anyway, and we'd be right where we are now with only minor differences.


I pray that God gives our leaders wisdom and courage, and that the men and women who protect our peaceful existence have strength, encouragement, and goodness.


Hurricane Irma is devastating the Caribbean on its way to Florida. I've been thinking about installing a metal roof on my house, and this picture is fascinating to me.

metal roofs.jpg

These roofs survived the hurricane in perfect condition... other than being torn off their buildings.


Since rogue AI is in the news recently, it's worth remembering that AI can be dangerous even if it isn't malevolent. Nick Bostrum's paperclip maximizer is the canonical example.

First described by Bostrom (2003), a paperclip maximizer is an artificial general intelligence (AGI) whose goal is to maximize the number of paperclips in its collection. If it has been constructed with a roughly human level of general intelligence, the AGI might collect paperclips, earn money to buy paperclips, or begin to manufacture paperclips.

Most importantly, however, it would undergo an intelligence explosion: It would work to improve its own intelligence, where "intelligence" is understood in the sense of optimization power, the ability to maximize a reward/utility function--in this case, the number of paperclips. The AGI would improve its intelligence, not because it values more intelligence in its own right, but because more intelligence would help it achieve its goal of accumulating paperclips. Having increased its intelligence, it would produce more paperclips, and also use its enhanced abilities to further self-improve. Continuing this process, it would undergo an intelligence explosion and reach far-above-human levels.

It would innovate better and better techniques to maximize the number of paperclips. At some point, it might convert most of the matter in the solar system into paperclips.


An Oklahoma woman who drove her three friends to a burglary has been charged with murder because the homeowner killed her accomplices in self-defense.

The woman who says she drove three teenagers to an Oklahoma home where they were fatally shot during a midday break-in told television reporters that she feels guilty, but not responsible for their deaths and that she has little compassion for the man who shot them.

Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, 21, is jailed without bond on murder and burglary warrants in Wagoner County for the deaths of Maxwell Cook, Jacob Redfern and Jakob Woodruff at the home just outside the city limits of the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. The Wagoner County sheriff's office says the three were between 15 and 19 years old.

Authorities have said the three were shot Monday by the homeowner's 23-year-old son, who has not been arrested, and that each was found masked, dressed in black and wearing gloves. A knife and brass knuckles were recovered at the scene.

"I understand he (the son) protected his home," Rodriguez told television station KOTV. "He had his rights."

But she said he could have shot the three in the legs. "He's at the bottom of my list to be compassionate for," she said.

Apparently Rodriguez was unaware of the felony murder rule which generally states that if someone is killed while you are committing a dangerous felony you are guilty of murder -- even if you had no intent to kill, you intentionally created a dangerous, illegal situation that resulted in death.


I can only imagine how horrible it would be to be imprisoned on an airplane for 15 hours, especially for anyone traveling with children. The passengers on Air Transat 157 called 911, but to no avail.

"There's a citizen that called it in saying that there's approximately 100 people in the plane, generally unwell. [There are] complaints of severe pain, cold sweats, coughing."

The call came in roughly 4½ hours after Air Transat Flight 157 from Brussels to Montreal landed in Ottawa at 5 p.m. ET. It had been scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 3:15 p.m., but was diverted due to bad weather.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has now given Air Transat until 5 p.m. ET Friday to provide an explanation as to why passengers on flight 157 and a second plane were stranded inside those aircraft for hours, without being allowed off the plane. ...

According to that tariff, in the case of an on-board delay more than 90 minutes, Air Transat promises to offer passengers the option of getting off the plane.

"Stranded" is a distracting euphamism -- these people were imprisoned and endangered because the airline didn't want to spend the money to properly take care of them.

The airport authority said there was both a gate and air stairs available, and they were prepared to bring supplies beyond just bottled water to the stranded passengers -- but never received clearance from Air Transat.


Leftist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounces people who enter Canada illegally.

"Canada is an opening and welcoming society, but let me be clear. We are also a country of laws," Trudeau said in remarks after a meeting in Montreal with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

"Entering Canada irregularly is not an advantage," the prime minister doubled down. "There are rigorous immigration and customs rules that will be followed. Make no mistake."


Kurt Schlichter argues that tribalism breeds tribalism in a vicious cycle that is and will be bad for America. It is sad and worrisome to see tribalism growing on the Right in response to the Left's tribalism, but I don't really see how to de-escalate the situation. Tribalism seems to be a stable equilibrium in most of the world, so maybe we're doomed to it.

Now, the old rule for us conservatives was that businesses could do pretty much whatever they pleased, with minimal regulation, if they focused on maximizing profit and thereby rained benefits down upon society in the form of wealth and job creation. It was a good system, but, like all systems, to get benefits you have to meet certain obligations. For businesses, one obligation was to generally stay out of the cultural and political octagon. ...

See, what leftists do not get is that principles are part of systems. Principles do not stand alone; they are nested within a system and together they make it function smoothly. Our system isn't some cultural cafeteria where you load up your plate with the principles you like and hard pass on the principles you don't. If you decide you don't want to play your part in the system, you shouldn't be shocked when the other participants make the same decision. "Free enterprise" means "enterprise generally free of government control," and it's stunning that the Silicon Valley people we hear are so smart don't foresee that when their "enterprise" morphs into a partisan political campaign the people on the other side of the spectrum are going to leverage their own political power in response.


Megan McArdle connects the obvious dots: slow wage growth is due to slow productivity growth.

A lot of sectors don't have room to raise wages. There's a common pattern in internet commentary: Some article is published, full of manufacturers complaining that they can't find workers for good old-fashioned jobs, and the left half of the commentariat lowers their spectacles, looks down the bridge of their nose, and inquires "I say, old chap, did you try offering them more money?" The problem is that in many cases these employers can't offer more money, because at current wages they are just barely competitive with China (or some other country).

There are other factors, but slowing productivity growth is the critical bit. The key factor that McArdle doesn't mention is that as more humans are replaced by machines, replacing each additional human costs more and produces a proportionally smaller gain in productivity. The low-hanging fruit is quickly being picked, or has already been eaten. Mmmmm, fruit.


So writes Larry Elder, detailing three brilliant men who should be an inspiration to every American. The writings of Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell in particular have had a big influence on my thinking.

Clarence Thomas, one of nine members of the Supreme Court and the second black to ever join the Court, is not in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Asked to explain Thomas' absence, the chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian said, "The museum's exhibitions are based on themes, not individuals."

Yet the museum plans to add a popular local D.C. television news broadcaster. ...

As for Sowell, he's only an economist and writer whom playwright David Mamet once called "our greatest contemporary philosopher." Sowell, who never knew his father, was raised by a great-aunt and her two grown daughters. They lived in Harlem, where he was the first in his family to make it past the sixth grade. He left home at 17, served as a Marine in the Korean War, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, earned a master's degree at Columbia University the next year, followed by a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago.

Sowell, at 87, authored some four dozen books (not counting revised editions) and wrote hundreds of scholarly articles and essays in periodicals and thousands of newspaper columns. In 2015, Forbes magazine said: "It's a scandal that economist Thomas Sowell has not been awarded the Nobel Prize. No one alive has turned out so many insightful, richly researched books." Yet, thanks in part to the Ebony shutout, many blacks have never heard of him.

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