Thursday, October 3, 2013

Derbyshire on Various Things

I'm reprinting part of John Derbyshire's potpourri piece here, but the main thing is the nice little quote here I extracted from it.  As I've said before, I'm a Darwinist, and the concept of natural selection informs my thinking on most human issues. This is in serious contrast to touchy-feely liberalism, which often claims to be Darwinistic, but which is usually just the opposite.

Quarterly Potpourri

The disappearing middle. A study out of Oxford University, written up on, says that 47 percent of US jobs are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years. The Slate guy says we have to Fix The Schools so that everyone is still employable. In the leftist mind there’s no social problem that can’t be solved by Fixing The Schools, which seems to translate as “making dumb people smart.” Yeah, we should get right on that.

Economist Tyler Cowen is plowing the same furrow in his new book Average is Over. Smart people will get rich; dumb people will keep the place clean; Joe and Sue with middling IQ will be out of luck.

Anecdote: A few months ago I was at a dinner with, seated at my left [sic], Roger Kimball, publisher of Encounter Books and The New Criterion, and Norman Podhoretz of Commentary. I mentioned the rising waters of automation. Roger: “Oh, I’ve been hearing about that all my life, about how we’ll all be put out of work by machines. Yet I’m working harder than ever!” Norman: “Me too! Ha ha ha!” Everybody: “Ha ha ha!” Uh….

Mnemonicizing the Civil War. In a blog post at I mentioned the old schoolroom mnemonic for the sequence of battles in the Wars of the Roses. Is there a mnemonic for remembering the battles of the War Between the States?

I couldn’t find one, so I thought I’d make one up. Two problems arose immediately. First, there are just too many battles—at least thirty, depending on what you count as a significant battle. A thirty-word mnemonic is too unwieldy. And then there’s the double-name issue. The South remembers several battles by the names of nearby settlements: Manassas, Sharpsburg, Murfreesboro. The North remembers the same battles by terrain features: Bull Run, Antietam Creek, Stone River.
(Keep reading HERE.)

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