deduce the truth

anonymous asked:

Your codywan story, the rise of wild wan, is wonderful, thank you, thank you for writing it!! And I'm very interested by the fact that when he had three minutes to himself, not anymore so tired, he deduced the truth. No we know why Palpatine pushed the Jedi so much! Could I ask what happen after that?

“Master Kenobi, what a…surprise.” Palpatine eyed him from where he was standing in the doorway of his own darkened office as Obi-Wan was perched on the desk as the Jedi once again looked as he should, the very picture of a respectable Jedi.

“Mmmn, I suppose it must be a surprise.” Obi-Wan absently picked up a stylus from the desk and wiggled it a bit. “But then again not much does surprise you does it…Darth Sidious.” He smiled at the man, light of Coruscant the only thing illuminating the two.

Palpatine stepped into the office and closed it behind himself, locking it firmly even as Obi-Wan leaned back on the desk, placing the hands behind him.

“So you know. I suspected as much.” He drawled, eyes firmly on Obi-Wan’s relaxed form.

“Of course. A week of relaxing? Of having a moment to myself? To THINK? You left to many clues behind for me to find when I took a good look at Anakin. Speaking of which, I could kill you where you stood for creeping on my padawan.” Obi-Wan’s face got a pinched look.

A slow smirk curled the sith’s lips as he watched him. “But you can’t.”

“I can’t.” Obi-Wan agreed. “You positioned yourself well, the public feels with you in your difficult position.” His lips curled. “While steadily turning against the Jedi as you build your empire up around yourself.”

The Sith moved into the room slowly and Obi-Wan stood, moving away to keep a distance between them.

“Such a clever man. I knew there was a reason I kept you busy.” The man drawled. “It was foolish of you to come here alone though.”

“If I told anyone else what I knew, they would have gone to the Senate and you would have had a warning.” Obi-Wan kept his eyes on the man. “After all, someone who can organize a war on two sides and have them fight each other has to have spies, even if Dooku acts as your front along with his apprentices.”

Palpatine laughed, his voice low and cruel as he followed Obi-Wan’s retreating form. “He is a good cover, very charismatic and his funds as the count of Serenno is nothing to laugh at though the Banking clans added fingers help especially in ordering the clones.”

Obi-Wan’s face twitched a bit, suddenly he had an answer to the creations of his men as he had not thought it had come from Palpatine. “I’m still impressed he answers to you, he is older then you and Yan Dooku has never been known as someone who likes to take orders.” The Jedi hummed.

“But he is a man who respects power.” Palpatine sneered a bit.

“So you admit it then, plotting a war? This entire war? All to bring yourself to power over the galaxy and bring the Jedi down?”

Palpatine laughed, his voice loud in the darkened office. “Oh yes I do, the Jedi were even gullible enough to agree to be Generals of all things and it worked out so brilliantly in my favor. But who is ever going to learn it, you’re certainly not going to tell anyone for you are not leaving this office alive.”

But to his confusion Obi-Wan only grinned back at him. “I don’t need to tell anyone. You just have.” His green eyes flickered to the desk and Palpatine jerked too, staring at it at a flickering light.

“…The emergency channel…” He whispered.

“To every channel in Republic hands, everyone on Coruscant can see you and this is being recorded for prosperity. Best part of all is that I barely had to prompt you into telling them. Say hello to your adoring public war monger.” Obi-Wan grinned, the look almost vicious.

There was a thunderstruck moment, a moment full of of the Force being filled with shock, rage and anger and then Palpatine struck, Obi-Wan barely dodging the lighting streaking across the office from the mans fingers.

“YOU WRETCHED WORM!” The Sith snarled at him, visage contorted as he drew his saber.

Obi-Wan quickly did the same but kept his distance from the man.

“I should have smothered you when I had the chance.” He hissed, pursing Obi-Wan even as the Jedi retreated from him.

“Should have, could have are things of the past. What matters is that you didn’t!” Obi-Wan taunted before barely managing to bring his saber up in time to parry the others attack. He could only pray that Jedi were close enough to the Senate Dome before he paid for his action with his life though he was prepared for that too.

He yelled out in pain as the crimson saber slashed at his hip and burned through his tunic before he could dodge away. As the door suddenly slammed open Obi-Wan felt the saber burn through his back, cutting through his spine as he fell to the floor with another yell.

And then Mace was there, throwing himself against Palpatine with Eeth Koth following behind him.

Obi-Wan gave a breathy little pained laugh as he tried to pull himself out of the way, legs useless as Kit knelt down by him.

“You utter idiot Kenobi.” The Nautolan hissed at him even as he gave him a quick check.

“Go help them.” Obi-Wan hissed in return, nodding to the furious fight Mace was leading against Palpatine.

“Kark you.” Yet Kit listened to him and jumped to his feet, lightsaber in hand.

Obi-Wan allowed himself to rest his head on his arms, laughing quietly again to himself, for once his plans worked out even if he had to pay the price. He would gladly pay the price anyhow.

Why Rothbard Will Never Win the Nobel Prize!

Mark Skousen insists that Murray Rothbard ought to win the Nobel Prize in economics. I think so too, but for his professional contribution which categorically bars an economist from ever winning the Nobel Prize in economics: clarity. Murray Rothbard has an addiction: clear, forthright writing. He says what he thinks, and he explains why he thinks it, in easily followed logic. He does not use equations, statistics, and the other paraphernalia of the economics priesthood. He simply takes his readers step by step through economic reasoning, selecting the relevant facts—relevant in terms of the economic logic he sets forth—and drawing conclusions. He gives readers his operating presuppositions; he then marshals the evidence and reaches conclusions. It is an old-fashioned procedure, and decidedly out of favor these days. If you doubt me, pick up a copy of American Economic Review (let alone Econometrica), turn to any page randomly, read it three times to yourself, and offer a brief summary to your wife. Understand, this can be done with Rothbard’s books.

Rothbard’s ability to communicate the truths of economics to reasonably intelligent non-economists is not the sort of skill which impresses the Nobel Prize Committee members. If they can understand anything, and especially if they can understand it rapidly on the first reading, they are unimpressed. What impresses them is an economics book which cannot be understood even after three or four readings, and when its conclusions are at last grasped, they prove to be utterly inapplicable to the real world. (If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at any page of the book by the 1983 economics prize winner, Gerald Debreu, Theory of Value: An Axiomatic Analysis of Economic Equilibrium, which was in its eighth printing in 1979—a testimony to the horrors of graduate study in economics. The only hint of reality in the entire book appears on page 29, the words, “No. 2 Red Winter Wheat.”)

Furthermore, Rothbard does something which is absolutely unacceptable in academia in general and the economics profession in particular. He uses italics. Yes, when he thinks that something is important, he underlines it. How gauche! How utterly unscientific! One is supposed to allow the readerthe option of missing the whole point—an option which reputable scholars exercise frequently, if not continually.

Furthermore, in an age of positive economics—“facts speaking for themselves”—Rothbard has adopted Ludwig von Mises’s use of apriorism: he deduces economic truths from a handful of axioms of human action, meaning human choice. He goes so far as to say that economic facts cannot disprove a logically formulated economic theorem. “The only test of a theory is the correctness of the premises and of the logical chain of reasoning.” I can remember reading one review of America’s Great Depression in a professional journal in which the reviewer must have spent over half his allotted space criticizing this Misesian methodological principle, and he spent the remainder criticizing the book’s conclusions, namely, that the great depression was created by government monetary policy, and was prolonged by government price restraints (floors) that impeded the readjustment of prices and markets. To summarize: Rothbard’s presuppositions concerning the proper methodology of economics have been unacceptable, and so have his conclusions concerning the economic effects (not to mention immoral effects) of State intervention into the economy.

He is also afflicted with another professional weakness: historical curiosity. He continues to involve himself in detailed detours to his professional career as an economist, especially in the area of U.S. history, and worst of all, revisionist U.S. history. He believes that there have been a series of conspiracies against the public welfare—conspiracies that have used the rhetoric of democracy to hide machinations of special-interest groups of power-seekers and monopoly-seekers. These conspirators have invariably used the State to achieve evil goals.

Then he takes it one step farther, thereby committing the ultimate academic faux pas: he believes that the State can be used only to attain evil goals. It is not simply that conspirators have used (and continue to use) the State to do evil against the public welfare; it is that to use the State in any way is automatically to become a conspirator against the public welfare.

Then he compounds this indiscretion; in his popular writings, he uses pejorative adjectives. For example, it is difficult to imagine a Rothbard article dealing with any aspect of the modern welfare-warfare State in which he fails to tag at least one monopoly-milking participant or policy with the adjective “monstrous.” This is considered bad form among the academics. People are supposed to be given a legitimate benefit of the doubt. Rothbard replies, in effect, “Not when it’s impossible to doubt their illegitimate benefits.” He is especially outraged by the whole Progressive movement (1890-1918), the movement which dominated American politics in the era in which the State became the supposed engine of public welfare in the United States. He concludes that the Progressives’ rhetoric of democracy was in fact a vast smoke screen for massive theft by the State’s newly trusted beneficiaries. In short, he concludes, the Progressive movement was monstrous.

Then, just to make sure that his exile to the academic fringe is secured, he argues that the almost universal hostility of scholars to conspiracy theories of history is basic to the growing of the State.

It is also particularly important for the State to make its rule seem inevitable: even if its reign is disliked, as it often is, it will then be met with the passive resignation expressed in the familiar coupling of “death and taxes.” One method is to bring to its side historical determinism: if X-State rules us, then this has to be inevitably decreed for us by the Inexorable Laws of History (or the Divine Will, or the Absolute, or the Material Productive Forces), and nothing that any puny individuals may do can change the inevitable. It is also important for the State to inculcate in its subjects an aversion to any outcropping of what is now called “a conspiracy theory of history.” For a search for “conspiracies,” as misguided as the results often are, means a search for motives, and an attribution of individual responsibility for the historical misdeeds of ruling elites. If, however, tyranny or venality or aggressive war imposed by the State was brought about not by particular State rulers but by mysterious and arcane “social forces,” or by the imperfect state of the world—or if, in some way, everyone was guilty (“We are all murderers,” proclaims a common slogan), then there is no point in anyone’s becoming indignant or rising up against such misdeeds.

Goodbye, Nobel Prize.

                                                   Out of Touch

It is not simply his economic conclusions that have sealed his fate with the Nobel Committee, as well as the with his professional colleagues. It is also his commitment to the methodological past. It is not simply that he is a self-conscious apriorist; Marxists are apriorists, too. Thomas Kuhn has made one variant of apriorism nearly respectable. Rothbard’s problem is that he forthrightly follows in Mises’s a priori footsteps, an indication that he is behind the times. It is not simply that he is arguing that everyone has to make a series of unprovable fundamental assumptions about the way the world works, and then he must necessarily interpret all factual evident in terms of these “pre-theoretical” assumptions. It is rather that Rothbard argues that there are assumptions concerning human action that are “apodictically certain” (to use Mises’s phrase)—assumptions about human action that are inescapably true at all times. The economist, says Rothbard, is supposed to use these axioms to interpret historical events and statistical data. Rothbard is therefore a non-relativistic apriorist. He claims to have found truth, in an era in which scholars are supposed to be professionally limited to the mere quest for truth.
This backward-looking proclivity on Rothbard’s part is indicative of his disrespectful attitude—not disrespectful toward the dead, but disrespectful toward the trendy. If one is an economist, one should respect present academic trends. To be “with it” is always best in the eyes of the profession. Being “with it” is indicated in part by textbook royalties and in part by the publication of zero-price articles in professional journals. The articles are officially more important, but the textbooks are unofficially more important. The articles prove that an economist is a professional, but nobody actually reads them—and nobody is expected to. The textbook proves that an economist is accepted, thereby reducing the likelihood of the author’s deviant ideology. (“Nobody ever got fired for assigning Samuelson’s Economics.” And its corollary: “Nobody ever got fired because he hadn’t read Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis.”)

Officially, textbooks are considered to be inferior scientific production.7 Nevertheless, high textbook royalties are considered a test of competence. Understand, textbook royalties are not the same as book royalties. Book royalties are always highly suspect by professional economists, because people voluntarily buy books. A sincere professional is not to appeal to the off-campus rabble, after all. Textbooks are completely different from books. Textbooks are assigned by professionals to students who would not read them under any known stimulus other than the fear of flunking out of school. Thus, it is the profession, not the rabble, which determines textbook royalties. Textbooks are “in”; books are “out” (ceteris paribus).

                                       Galbraith and Rothbard

John Kenneth Galbraith has fallen afoul of this unwritten rule, even though the profession generally approves of his many conclusions regarding the necessity of State action to improve the performance of the economy. A lot of clicking of tongues and throat-clearing goes on behind closed professional doors when Galbraith’s name is mentioned. Sometimes it is done in public, as when UCLA Professor William R. Allen publicly resigned his membership in the American Economic Association because Galbraith was elected president (an honorary position) one year. He alienates his professional colleagues when he writes that “only someone who is decently confusing can be respected” by his peers and by the public, and then goes on to assert, almost Mises-like, that “In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot, in fact, be stated in plain language.“

Galbraith is a lot like Rothbard in many ways, especially stylistically. He writes clearly. He writes real books. He has not written a professional journal article in decades. He never wrote a textbook. He uses ridicule in his speeches and essays. He is also a bit of a conspiracy theorist, even going so far as to publish the details of otherwise private meetings of those who make plans for the rest of us. Most of all, he shuns mathematics. He even wrote that the reason why mathematics is employed extensively by economists is primarily sociological, not methodological. Mathematics is in fact a guild screening device. “The oldest problem in economic education is how to exclude the incompetent.” Mathematical competency is therefore “a highly useful screening device.” Worse, he said this in a mass-market paperback book.”

This was not such a revolutionary statement in itself. Former Austrian economist Fritz Machlup had written a decade earlier: “Even if some of us think that one can study social sciences without knowing higher mathematics, we should insist on making calculus and mathematical statistics absolute requirements—as a device for keeping away the weakest students.” But Machlup had said this in a presidential address to a regional economics society, not in a mass-market paperback book.

But then Galbraith went too far—way, way too far. He displayed some of the profession’s dirtiest linen in public. He blew the whistle on the guild’s professional journals. He admitted the following in a footnote—worse, a footnote not at the back of the book, where few people would read it, but at the bottom of the page, where anyone might read it: “The layman may take comfort from the fact that the most esoteric of this material is not read by other economists or even by the editors who publish it. In the economics profession the editorship of a learned journal not specialized in econometrics or mathematical statistics is a position of only moderate prestige. It is accepted, moreover, that the editor must have a certain measure of practical judgment. This means that he is usually unable to read the most prestigious contributions which, nonetheless, he must publish. So it is the practice of the editor to associate with himself a mathematical curate who passes on this part of the work whose word he takes. A certain embarrassed silence covers the arrangement.”

Like Galbraith, Rothbard has never written a textbook. Worse, he has not written professional journal articles since the early 1960s. He has written books instead. He has not honored the rules of the scientific game. Books are written for people, not scientists. A scientist writes articles, not books. Kuhn comments with respect to the natural sciences: “No longer will his researches usually be embodied in books addressed, like Franklin’s Experiments … on Electricity or Darwin’s Origin of Species, to anyone who might be interested in the subject matter of the field. Instead they will usually appear as brief articles addressed only to professional colleagues, the men whose knowledge of a shared paradigm can be assumed and who prove to be the only ones able to read the papers addressed to them.”

Clearly, Rothbard and Galbraith are professionally out of touch. But Galbraith’s conclusions were far more acceptable to non-economists who publish the popular literary magazines and books. The royalty money poured in. Rothbard had to content himself with being readable, even though not that many people read what he wrote. Neither scholar was professionally “with it,” but Galbraith was ideologically “with it,” and that made a lot of financial difference.

                                                     Pioneers

The only professional excuse for not being “with it” is being dead. A few people are granted posthumous recognition by the economics profession because they were “pioneers.” But the Nobel Committee does not award prizes posthumously. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the Nobel Committee hates pioneers—not just the economics subcommittee, but the whole Nobel Prize establishment. In any case, the Nobel Committee only awards its prizes to living figures. (Some of us were more than a little suspicious when F.A. Hayek received the Nobel Prize for 1974, the year after the death of Ludwig von Mises, who provided Hayek with his major economic theorems, and for which Hayek was awarded the prize. Admittedly, Hayek put these ideas into a form which was more acceptable to “scientific economists.” For example, in his youth, he once used six graphs in an essay. Admittedly, he never did it again. Mises, in contrast, never once adopted such tactics to appeal to his peers. He assumed that one graph is worth a thousand methodologically “illegitimate words.)
Am I exaggerating concerning the Nobel Committee’s conservatism? Consider Albert Einstein’s prize in physics. Do you think it was granted for his theory of general relativity, the theory which transformed twentieth-century thinking? Not a chance! He was granted the Prize for his 1905 essay on the photoeffect. The Committee informed him specifically that the award was not being given for his work on relativity. Too controversial, too radical, you understand. Furthermore, he was given the award in 1922 retroactively for 1921, the year in which nobody got the award. Talk about the second-class honor! (“Gee, Al, we have this extra money lying around, so we got to thinking….”) “And then, just to make the whole thing utterly preposterous, it turned out that Einstein’s essay on the photoeffect really was his most revolutionary contribution to pure physics. “It is a touching twist of history that the Committee, conservative by inclination, would honor Einstein for the most revolutionary contribution he ever made to physics.” Mistakes do happen.

Rothbard continues to cite Professor Mises in his writings. This is another totally unacceptable methodological strategy in the eyes of the Nobel Committee. It is acceptable to cite favorably the writings of certain living authorities, but not dead ones, and especially not a dead one whose ideas were rejected by his contemporaries because he was a backward-looking defender of free market institutional arrangements. It is sometimes permissible to announce discoveries that are based on the long-ignored findings of some historical figure, but you are not to base your presentation on the same kinds of evidence that this historical figure offered. You are to dress up your discovery in modern garb, preferably the use of stochastic functions, and then refer briefly in a footnote to the dead originator’s “preliminary but undeveloped findings.” You cannot then be accused of stealing his ideas, nor can you be accused of attempting to revive discarded ideas. Safety first.

Let us consider a recent example. These days the “rational expectations” school is very “in.” (By the time the ink dries on this page, it may be “out.” Fads come and go rapidly in economics.) Keynesian “fine-tuning” of the economy is “out” in the eyes of the younger “comers” in economics.20 What do the rational expectations (“rat-ex”) people say? They say that Keynes did not give sufficient attention to people’s expectations concerning the future. People respond to government economic policies in terms of what they expect in the future, which means that they respond differently than economic planners expect. In other words, Keynes did not take into account human action. But “rat-ex” economics are exceedingly careful not to footnote Mises, Jacob Viner, or Frank H. Knight in their criticism of Keynes, despite the fact that all of the former used similar arguments against him fifty years ago. To cite them favorably would indicate that this sort of argument was well known back in the 1930s and 1940s, implying that their now-tenured and graying colleagues had their heads in the ideological sand for half a century. This would open them up to the standard response of tenured gray-heads: “You are backward-looking and have not fully mastered the tools of modern economic analysis.”

To deflect this sort of criticism, the “rat-ex” proponents dress up their arguments with lots of mathematical symbols. Viner, Knight, and Mises generally wrote in English rather than mathematics. They were “bucking the mathematical trend” in economics, which has increased steadily since the days of Cournot (1838). Bronfenbrenner’s comment seems appropriate: “The question is whether certain of our fellow economists may not have elevated mathematical and statistical virtuosity to the status of ends in themselves.” The “rat-ex” economists are prime examples of this trend. With respect to the previous work of anti-Keynesians of the 1930s, they have adopted the rule set forth by another important philosopher who was also overlooked by the Nobel Committee, the late Satchel Paige: “Don’t look back; something may be gaining on you.”

“To put it bluntly, the secret of success in academic economic circles has as much to do with style as it does with content. This is not a new development; it has ever been true. Murray Rothbard has the unique distinction of being consigned to the professional outer darkness for both the style and content of his writing, an honor he shares with Mises. Mises, however, wrote his first book in 1906 and his most important book, The Theory of Money and Credit, was published in 1912, in the era in which mathematics had not yet triumphed in economic discourse. Rothbard’s stubbornness in writing exclusively in English can be viewed by his academic peers as perverse intransigence, rather than a mere stylistic carryover from a now-bygone era. Mises had an excuse; Rothbard doesn’t. Besides, Mises is dead; Rothbard isn’t.

                                                Poor Timing

So, from the start of his career, Rothbard was stylistically condemned and methodologically condemned, and his conclusions were also condemned. Now, just for the record, let us consider the words, “from the start of his career.” Consider when Rothbard’s Ph.D. was granted by Columbia University. He entered the academic world of New York City, where in those days he was determined to remain, in the not-too-promising year of 1956. It was the Eisenhower era, and the Keynesian Revolution was consolidating its hold on every university in the land, with the exception of the University of Chicago, which was steadily falling under Milton Friedman’s influence. Rothbard’s commitment to Austrian economics was even more of an anomaly in 1956 than it is now. The post-Keynesian interest in neo-Austrianism was two decades away.

The least opportune time to challenge an academic guild is during its consolidation phase. You need to do it during its self-doubt phase, when younger scholars and innovative outsiders to the guild are asking hard questions that the prevailing paradigms of the guild can no longer handle. Perhaps the paradigms could never handle these questions, but few people were asking the tough questions, or at least few people inside the guild were listening. But when observable reality presses against the guild’s paradigms, members can no longer suppress inquisitiveness along paths that were previously unexplored or even unofficially (but nonetheless effectively) roadblocked.

For example, the great depression smashed the paradigms of non-Austrian free market neoclassical economics, allowing the Keynesians entry into the fold, and the success of the post-war economic recovery seemed to validate the Keynesian vision of a depression-free economy. The Full Employment Act of 1946 was considered a landmark for the Keynesians and a tombstone for the pre-Keynesian neoclassical school. Walter Heller, the Chairman of President Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisors, modestly refereed to it as “the nation’s economic Magna Carta.” The Kennedy years were understood as the crown of glory to the Keynesian (Samuelson) synthesis. The coronation came in the December 31, 1965 issue of Time: “U.S. Business in 1965.” It was a lengthy story on how Keynesian economic policies have brought permanent prosperity tot he United States. It even quoted Milton Friedman: “We are all Keynesians now.”

That was the high-water mark. As Hegel said (somewhere or other): “The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.” The intellectual capstone of an era becomes its tombstone. The “great inescapable truths” that govern historical reality are delivered to a self-confident world just about the time that the confidence begins to erode. So it was with Dr. Heller. The next year, 1966, brought the beginning of the Keynesian price inflation. Gardner Ackley, President Johnson’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, had put it well at the end of 1965: “We’re learning to live with prosperity, and frankly, we don’t know as much about managing prosperity as getting us there.”

Nevertheless, Walter Heller remained confident, one of the truly high-flying owls of his day. “Economics has come of age in the 1960s,” he announced in the opening sentence of page one of his 1966 book. “The economist ‘arrived’ on the New Frontier and is firmly entrenched in the Great Society.” But that’s not all, folks!

The significance of the great expansion of the 1960s lies not only in its striking statistics of employment, income, and growth but in its glowing promise of things to come. If we can surmount the economic pressures of Vietnam without later being trapped into a continuing war on inflation when we should again be fighting economic slack, the “new economics” can move us steadily toward the qualitative goals that lie beyond the facts and figures of affluence.

The promise of modern economic policy, managed with an eye to maintaining prosperity, subduing inflation, and raising the quality of life, is indeed great. And although we have made no startling conceptual breakthroughs in economics in recent years, we have, more effectively than ever before, harnessed the existing economics—the economics that has been taught in the nation’s college classrooms for some twenty years—to the purposes of prosperity, stability, and growth.

But the record of the 1961-1966 experience in putting modern economics to work is not to be read solely in the statistics of sustained expansion or in critics confounded. An important part of the story is a new flexibility in the economic thinking of both liberals and conservatives. Both have been dislodged from their previously entrenched positions, their ideological foxholes, by the force of economic circumstance and the impact of policy success.

Into this era of “non-ideological” confidence came Murray Rothbard, Ph.D. in hand, the most ideologically committed zero-State academic economist on earth. He faced an entrenched guild which was convinced of its own wisdom, its own openness, and its own flexibility. Of course, flexibility did not mean absolute flexibility. It meant an open welcome to those who defended flexibility, and an inflexibly closed door to those who did not. Heller’s language revealed just how “open” he was: “In political economics, the day of the Neanderthal Man—indeed, the day of the pre-Keynesian Man—is dead.” Somehow, the vision of Murray Rothbard, hunched over, dressed in animal skins, club over his shoulder, and dragging Joey by her hair back to his cave, seems a bit far-fetched, but this is the image Heller wanted to convey to the public. This was the proper mental image concerning “doctrinaire” economists. Their day was over. In 1966.

The success of expansionary policy, then, especially in the form of the tax cut, has undermined the position and thinned the ranks of the dug-in doctrinaire on both the left and the right. Minds have opened, and the area of common ground has grown. Doubters, disbelievers, and dissenters remain. Some vaguely feel it’s “too good to be true.” Others cling to beliefs too long cherished to flee before mere facts. But they are increasingly outside the main body of economic policy consensus.

It was too good to be true. What followed was at least mildly disturbing to the faithful Keynesian victors: the price inflation and rising interest rates of 1968-69, the recession of 1969-71, back-to-back federal deficits of $25 billion each (big money in those days) in 1971 and 1972, the price and wage controls of 1971-73, the recession of 1975, the coming of double-digit price inflation in 1978-80, the worst recession(s) in 40 years in 1980, and 1981-82, and the $200 billion annual federal deficits after 1982. These unpleasant events did not fit the glowing Keynesian paradigm. It has become the Keynesians’s turn to experience academic and professional barbs quite similar to those experienced by the tenured economists of 1938. The “young Turks” started raising doubts about everything that stalwart “non-ideological” men had always held sacred. They started calling into question both the theories and alleged successes of the Keynesian synthesis. Gray hair once again became a distinct liability in the economics classroom. By 1972, the Union for Radical Political Economics (New Left, Marxists) was growing fast on campuses throughout the U.S., indicating an end to “the end of ideology.” By 1975, a new group of young, bright neo-Austrian economists at last surfaced. By 1980, they had become influential in one local university, George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia, on the very edge of Washington, D.C.

But some things do not change, certainly not old tunes sung by aging economists. There was Walter Heller, in the middle of Jimmy Carter’s economic debacle, writing such essays as “Balanced Budget Fallacies” (Wall Street Journal, March 16, 1979) and “An Anti-Inflationary Tax Cut” (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2, 1979). The Full Employment Act of 1946 had become the Magna Carter. Yet Heller continued to issue the Keynesians’s S.O.S.: Same Old Solutions. Who had become the Neanderthal Man by 1979? Galbraith’s 1973 comment is correct—ironically delivered to the press at the meeting of the American Economic Association at which Heller had become president-elect: “Economists, like generals, usually fight the last war. On great matters they’re like the gooney bird—it flies backward to see where it came from.”

The problem facing Murray Rothbard in 1956 was that he was on the wrong side of the trade in the academic pit, selling Keynesianism short while the market boomed upward for almost two decades. By the time the Keynesian market had begun to slide, in the mid-1970s, he was 50 years old.40 This is not to say that he had been wasting his time for two decades. He helped influence a group of younger economists, just as Mises had guided him: not as a grade-granting professor in some prestigious graduate school, but at his informal private seminars. Mises at least had received some formal recognition, for the William Volker Fund had supported him at New York University, and had provided scholarship money for some of his students. At least Mises had been given the opportunity to have formal graduate-level lectures every Monday evening (1945-1964), as well as a graduate seminar on Thursday evenings (1948-1969). Rothbard did not have even this much formal recognition. Mises was granted only “visiting professor” status for 24 years in a third-rate university which was staffed overwhelmingly with nonentities. Rothbard wound up teaching at Brooklyn Polytechnic, where there is no graduate program in economics, or even an undergraduate degree in economics.

                                 Pariahs and Scientific Revolutions

Why bring up these unattractive details in a Festschrift! Because, first, they were the facts of academic life in the post-war era, up until the 1970s. Second, because they illustrate an ignored side of the history of economics—indeed, the history of scientific breakthroughs generally: the fact that the revolutionaries who set the academic agenda usually do it outside the classroom.

The modern university curriculum would be very different without the contributions of Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein, three humanist Jews and a hypochondriac, none of whom was welcome in a major university during his lifetime. Darwin was too sick and weak to teach, but no university ever asked him. Dr. Marx held only temporary editing jobs, always just before the authorities shut down his periodicals, and for his whole life he was shunned by academic world. (Engels put him on the dole for the last 20 years of his life.) Freud was not asked to teach at the University of Vienna, despite his world-famous reputation. (Mises suffered the same fate as Freud: the University of Vienna ignored him.) Einstein was a clerk in the Swiss patent office when he made his major theoretical breakthroughs, including his essay on the photoeffect. Yet the textbook scholars who occupy today’s college classrooms wind up building their lectures around Darwin and his heirs, or Marx and his heirs, or Freud and his heirs, or Einstein and his heirs. (If classroom economists were smarter, they would pay more attention to Mises and his heirs.)

My point is simple: those who make revolutionary intellectual breakthroughs generally get into major university classrooms only posthumously. I write this to cheer up Murray Rothbard on his 60th birthday. Think of all he has to look forward to after he is dead. But he can forget about the Nobel Prize. It is not awarded posthumously.

Rothbard became the leader, at least for a decade, of younger scholars who were not impressed with Keynesianism, Marxism, or the University of Chicago’s monetarism. This is not to say that they adopted his entire approach to economics, any more than he adopted Mises’s entire approach. Mises was a self-conscious Kantian; Rothbard regards himself as an Aristotelian. Mises was a nineteenth-century classical liberal who wrote favorably concerning military conscription during wartime. To make his position clear, he added these words to Human Action in the 1963 edition: “He who in our age opposes armaments and conscription is, perhaps unbeknownst to himself, an abettor of those aiming at the enslavement of all.”

Rothbard opposes not only the conscripting State but also every non-conscripting State. Mises wanted free banking without government interference; Rothbard wants 100% reserve banking mandated by …? (This one has always baffled me. Private law courts, I suppose.) Mises was an ethical utilitarian; Rothbard is a natural rights absolutist. Rothbard is not happy with the “hermeneutics” of the younger neo-Austrian scholars who have followed Ludwig Lachmann and G. L. S. Shackle into their kaleidic universe of entrepreneurial indeterminism, but that is the way of academic life. Students do not always develop in ways hoped for by teachers.

Rothbard published three economics books in 1962 and 1963: The Panic of 1819, his doctoral dissertation; Man, Economy, and State, his magnum opus; and America’s Great Depression. Columbia University Press published the first, and it was well received in the journals. Like most monographs, it sank without a trace. The other two were openly ideological, and were not well received, but for a generation of neo-Austrian readers who did not begin with Mises’s fat tomes, these books were vital, especially Man, Economy, and State. They opened up Mises’s deductivist and subjectivist economics to necessarily self-taught students who found Mises’s less structured presentations foreboding. In a movement which could survive only by the printed word, Rothbard wrote the clearest words available.

The question is: Can the Austrian school make a comeback? Can it become the wave of the future, despite its position as a trickle out of the past? One hopeful sign is its growing popularity in non-professional circles. Perhaps a dozen or more “hard money” newsletter writers officially claim to be followers of Austrianism. Even more impressive is the heavy reliance Paul Johnson placed on Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression in his eloquent history of the twentieth century, Modern Times. He follows Rothbard’s narrative concerning the causes of the great depression and those who made it possible.

But what about inside the profession? Will a generation of younger economists embrace Austrianism? It depends on several factors, the most important of which is this: What will voters demand from politicians? If voters finally get fed up with the planned economy, almost certainly because the planners have created an economic catastrophe, then today’s odd-ball economic theories may gain a hearing, if they can be put into the common man’s language. Here, in my view, is the soft underbelly of today’s orthodox economists. With few exceptions, their ideas cannot simultaneously be defended academically and popularly. Without his graphs and equations, the conventional economist is about as effective as Superman in a Kryptonite mine. Liquidity preference will not play in Peoria. Neither will government-mandated 3% to 5% steady monetary growth forever.

What am I arguing is that revolutions in economic thought are not endogenous variables within the economics profession; they are exogenous variables. Economists will supply professionally acceptable evidence for whatever line of argument is selling well to those who pay economists’ salaries. Furthermore, few of them are entrepreneurs. They are not going to prepare for the next ideological wave which hits the public and the politicians. Thus, remarkable opportunities for pure entrepreneurial profit now exist. When the bad stuff hits the stochastic fan next time, the present occupants of the endowed chairs will offer the public a choice of deodorizers, not shovels. I think that the real market will be in shovels.

If the Austrian economic tradition should survive intact despite its present methodological disintegration, and if it should eventually gain the foothold on campus which it has never really enjoyed, then much of the credit (with 100% reserves, of course) will have to go to Rothbard’s essays in persuasion. This scientific revolution, should it come, will have been produced by Mises, who was denied a full professorship for over six decades, except for six years in Geneva (1934-40), by F. A. Hayek, who suspects he was blackballed in secret session by the University of Chicago’s economics department, and by Murray Rothbard, who has been denied formal access to graduate students throughout his career.

                                                  Nobel Prize-Losing Insights

What are Rothbard’s unique major intellectual contributions? Economists will differ. To some of them I return year after year, without which I would be substantially impoverished. Others are curiosities, but delightfully outrageous socialist balloon-poppers. Each one is worth a professional journal article, except that Murray refuses to write professional journal articles.

  1. The impossibility of applying the calculus (infinitely small steps) to human action.
  2. The impossibility of total utility
  3. The relevance of choice and the irrelevance of indifference curves.
  4. The impossibility of a universal vertical monopoly (not economic calculation).
  5. Neighborhood and even household tariffs (”Buy Jones!”).
  6. The distinction between entrepreneurship (overcoming uncertainty) and gambling (deliberately created risk).
  7. Who bears the tax burden of sales taxes (not just consumers).
  8. Tax exemptions are not implicit subsidies. 
  9. The nonsense of “the ability to pay” arguments.
  10. The non-neutrality of any known tax.
  11. Bureaucrats pay no taxes.
  12. The refutation of the single tax.
  13. Bribery as a market tool.

“Consider his critique of economic reasoning based on the indifference curves. This is the selected approach of Sir John Hicks and his followers. Hicks, it should be recalled, was the co-winner of the Nobel Prize in 1972. Rothbard wrote in 1956: “Indifference can never be demonstrated by action. Quite the contrary. Every action necessarily signifies a choice, and every choice signifies a definite preference. Action specifically implies the contrary of indifference.… If a person is really indifferent between two alternatives, then he cannot and will not choose between them. Indifference is therefore never relevant for action and cannot be demonstrated in action.” (Notice this early use of italics. He was afflicted at age 30.)

But it is not simply his general statement of the problem of indifference cures which sticks in the mind. It is his classic examples.

The indifference theorists have two basic defenses of the role of indifference in real action. One is to cite the famous fable of Buridan’s Ass. This is the “perfectly rational” ass who demonstrates indifference by standing, hungry, equidistant from two equally attractive bales of hay. Since the two bales are equally attractive in every way, the ass can choose neither one, and starves therefore. This example is supposed to indicate how indifference can be revealed in action. It is, of course, difficult to conceive of an ass, or a person, who could be less rational. Actually, he is not confronted with two choices but with three, the third being to starve where he is. Even on the theorists’ own grounds, this third choice will be ranked lower than the other two on the individual’s value-scale. He will not choose starvation.

Buridan’s Ass has been in the economic literature since the late-medieval scholastic era. If nothing else, Murray Rothbard ought to go down in history as the economist who at last, after 600 years, kicked Buridan’s Ass into action.

                                                               Conclusion

There are a lot of articles I would like Murray Rothbard to write. There is a lot of foundational work which still needs his insightful efforts, if only to clear up lingering confusions and doubts. I would list the following possibilities, just in case he has a lot of extra time on his hands:

1. If the economist cannot make interpersonal comparisons of subjective utility (Lionel Robbins’s 1932 position, before Roy Harrod got him to capitulate in 1938), as Rothbard insists, then how can he be certain that “the free market maximizes social utility”? What is “social utility” in an epistemological world devoid of interpersonal aggregates?

2. If “in human action there are no quantitative constants,” and therefore no index number is legitimate, then how can we say that monetary inflation produces price inflation? What is price inflation without an index number? What is an index number without interpersonal aggregation?

3. If we cannot define “social utility,” or price inflation, then how can we know that “money, in contrast to all other useful commodities employed in production or consumption, does not confer a social benefit when its supply increases”? How can we legitimately say anything about the aggregate entity, “social benefit”?

4. If we also cannot make intertemporal comparisons of personal subjective utility, let alone intertemporal comparisons of social utility, how can we avoid the seeming nihilism of the Lachmann-Shackle “Impregnable self-contained isolation”?

5. If it is illegitimate to use the calculus in economics, because its infinitesimal gradations are not relevant to human action, should we continue to use Euclidian lines in our expositions of economics? Why not use discrete dots or small circles to replace Alfred Marshall’s famous scissors?

6. If Mises’s methodological construct of the Evenly Rotating Economy hypothesizes a world in which all participants have perfect fore-knowledge, thereby denying the possibility of human action, how can such a mental construct (“ideal type”) serve as a useful guide to the realm of human action? How can the zero-human action world of “equilibrium” be related logically to the real world of human action?

With respect to the decision by the Nobel Committee concerning future answers to these questions, there need be no sense of urgency. There is plenty of time. Don’t call them; they’ll call you.

Just like they called Mises.

by Gary North. Man, Economy and Liberty: Essays in Honor of Murray N. Rothbard (1989) by Walter Block and Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., pp. 89-109 

(references and footnotes have been removed by me)

6. What A Tulle (Season 3 - Episode 11)

With the recent news that season 8’s first main challenge is a throwback to previous sewing contests, I figured this is a perfect time to look back at the most controversial of the bunch: Tullegate.

Now you may be asking - what is Tullegate? It is the exposure (calm down Magnolia!) of Raja cheating during the hair fantasy challenge. Before you flip your wigs, let Shangela explain how she entirely sleuthed this scandal.


Surprisingly, Yara Sofia is the first one to doubt Raja’s creation. Usually, Yara is far removed from the drama, but I guess not even she could resist the opportunity to call out a stunt. Anyway, word gets to Shangela: who at first tries to defend Raja. After all, the older, maternal queen had helped Shangela construct garments before. She nurtured Shangela like a child of the corn. It would be downright debaucherous to question Raja’s artistic integrity.

Still, Shangela puts aside her friendship with Raja in order to pursue the truth. Is it tulle? Is it a wig? Is it her hair? Shangela practically salivates at the thought of putting all the clues together. She asks Yara once more time for confirmation: that is not lace from a wig, that is tulle fabric. And with that accusation, Shangela begins to stir the pot. Literally.

The die is cast. Shangela and her Nancy Drews eagerly wait for Raja to fall into their carefully-laid trap; like three poachers hunting their panther (on the runway). She walks into the Lounge completely unaware of the calculated moves Shangela devises. Every movement is tactical for a detective mind like hers.

Step 1: Pamper the suspect. Shangela lures Raja into a false sense of security. Innocently asking about her critics, taking peeks by pretending to adjust her headphones: Raja is practically eating out of Shangie’s hands.

Step 2: Interrogation. After setting the stage, Shangela can start asking probing questions. Masked as genuine wonder, Shangela gets Raja talking about the construction of her dress. “You, you made fabric out of hair?” As soon as the ‘f’ bomb is dropped, Alexis and Yara perk up like the drug-sniffing bloodhounds that every detective movie has.

Raja goes on about her ingenious creation while Shangela listens on with open ears; waiting for the perfect slip-up. Like a masterful lawyer, Shangela subtly prodes until Raja confesses to her crimes. And then it happens. “I laid it out onto this thin piece of tulle.” TULLE FABRIC. Shangie needs to borrow one of Phi Phi’s blonde wigs because she just cracked this case wide open!

Step 3: Final Verdict. In the end, Shangela never gets to present her evidence. She is eliminated and Raja is never indicted for her sins. It’s quite a tragic end to this beautifully crafted exposé, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Still, at least Shangela spent her last day doing what she does best: playing the game.

P.S. I love the little interlude before Shangela deduces the truth. It’s full of Alexis Mateo completely reading the judges and their unfair bias. The conviction in her voice is astounding, albeit inappropriate. “Where is the hair!” It’s sounds like she’s talking to a chemotherapy patient; that’s how aggressive it sounds. Still, it adds to the suspense of the hunt. This moment makes my hair tulle stand on end everytime.

-100 Funniest RuPaul’s Drag Race Moments

“Because I know what that means, looking sad when you think he can’t see you.”

Or

The moment Molly realized Sherlock was gay.


I know what you’re thinking. “But Molly’s story was about her father, not a romantic interest. This isn’t gay, it’s only sentimental!”

Right, okay. I see your point. But there’s so much more to this episode, this exchange, this entire show that comes together to prove that Molly knows Sherlock is gay, and that because of this, because of her acceptance of Sherlock, she matters to him now more than ever.

To understand this moment, we need to go back to the very first episode. Here we are introduced to Molly, who clearly has a mad crush on Sherlock and so asks him out for coffee.

There’s a reason the writers gave us Molly, and that reason is that they wanted to show us right off the bat that Sherlock is uninterested in women. Molly is attractive, clearly an agreeable, sweet person, and highly intelligent. In spite of that, Sherlock turns her down. As a result, she goes from looking like this:

To looking like this:

When she’s looking at him, he seems fine, he’s nice to her, even. In his own way.

Molly’s blog is also telling. She goes on about love and relationships, and she’s clearly a romantic with a crush on a man who is also good-looking (like her), intelligent (like her), and a bit awkward (like her). But there is a very distinct difference, and that is that Sherlock is gay. Molly just has no reason to know that yet.

As far as we know, and it is for all practical purposes proven as such, Sherlock has never had a romantic entanglement with anyone in all the time Molly and Greg have known him. It makes sense that he knows Molly the same amount of time he’s known Greg, as Molly works in the morgue, Greg is the resident DI, and Sherlock has probably only been a consulting detective in the public eye, or professionally, for as long as he’s known Greg. Which is about 5 years by this point. So in five years, if all you knew about a handsome man you worked with was that he was a socially awkward ex-junkie with a brain unlike any you’d seen and an ass that won’t quit, why would you assume he’s gay?

So she doesn’t. At least not at first.

When John Watson happens, everything changes. And she knows it. There’s a hint of jealousy in her when she supposedly forgets John’s name in The Great Game, despite her having known him for several months now, and in spite of Sherlock’s blog talking about him, and in spite of the fact that to get on John’s blog, she literally needs to type in his name.

Every time we see Molly between this moment and the scene at Bart’s in The Reichenbach Falls, there is some sort of exchange that eludes to her attraction to Sherlock and/or her shitty love life. But mostly it’s the former. He takes advantage of her attraction to him in The Blind Banker by getting access to the corpses. He deduces that she’s in love with him in A Scandal in Belgravia, then kisses her cheek (much to John’s utter shock) and apologizes for the words he said. Then later she expresses an interest in knowing how Sherlock knows Irene by her naked body.

And then there’s TRF.

For a long time, it seems there’s nothing too different about Molly when she and Sherlock first see each other in the episode, but that all changes as soon as they get into it. There are several metas and discussions about Molly throughout the fandom from all sides of the shipping views, but something that no one can deny is that she is highly intelligent. Yes, she has a bit of trouble asking out her crush. And yes, she stumbles over words when confronted with her feelings in ASiB. But she is, by Sherlock’s own standards, incredibly intelligent. She runs an entire department in the hospital, and she’s Sherlock’s go-to guy when he wants help calculating John’s “safe zone” of alcohol intake.

My point is that Molly’s not an idiot. She’s an interesting, intelligent female character, and she does serve a real purpose. Molly has endured a year and a half now of Sherlock finally paying attention to someone, finally having a relationship – even if it is “just” a friendship at this point – and a person he obsesses over (think about the conversation at his flat in ASiB where she tells John Sherlock was complaining about John’s leaving town). She’s seen that Sherlock takes advantage of Molly’s weak spot for him by gaining access to the morgue. And now Sherlock is calling her by John’s name. Things are really adding up for her, especially since her failed relationship with Jim. Jim, who also used Molly. Two men have used her, and one used her to get to the other one. Molly’s had enough. And now she knows.

There’s an argument that when Sherlock says girlfriend are not his area, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like women, but rather that he’s just not good at relationships. Just as Sherlock tells Molly that conversation not being her area doesn’t mean she can’t have a conversation, but rather that it’s not her strong suit. But the difference is that in Sherlock’s mind, Molly isn’t capable of conversation. Because he’s never had a conversation with her.

When Sherlock says girlfriends aren’t his area, he can say that with all knowledge because he knows what he likes and doesn’t like. When he says it about her, he doesn’t know. He genuinely doesn’t know that she’s capable of a real conversation because he’s never had one with her. And if that seems far-fetched, keep in mind that this is the same man who thought the morning tea “just sort of happened.”

She watches him watching John. She sees the look on his face. And she compares it to her father.

You’re right – a comparison she makes between Sherlock and her father shouldn’t be the same thing as if she compared him to, say, an old romantic partner or something. Yes. But there is an underlying commonality between a father/daughter relationship and a partner/partner relationship. Both relationships are founded on love. Namely, on sacrificial love. Doing what’s best to cause as little pain to others while going through your own pain. It’s a love that is singular and unique. A father’s love for his child doesn’t compare to the love for his spouse, for his friend, for his parents, for his sibling. All kinds of loves are different, but some are more selfless than others. And no one can deny that the two most selfless loves are those of a parent for a child, and those of a lover for a lover.

The love she observes is real, despite what the love means. It is the first and only time (up until that point) that she sees him showing love for anyone. He will do it later toward her, of course, but in a different way. I’ll get to that in a minute. But it is now that she sees the light, and as she is completely devoid of any experience in a successful relationship, she compares it to the greatest love she’s ever experienced – that of her father toward her.

Sherlock does not hesitate for a moment to put together what she’s saying. Sherlock, who is often slow to pick up on things that have to do with sentiment and love. Sherlock picks up what she’s saying, and he looks at John immediately after she says that he looks sad when he thinks John can’t see him.

He knows. And now he knows that she knows.

“You can see me,” he rebuts, but she quickly answers that she doesn’t count. He’s surprised that she thinks this, because contrary to what she thought, contrary to however he treated her, she does matter to him. He needs her. He values her professional opinion and he trusts her experience. And now that she knows how he feels about John, he seems completely unsure how to react.

He questions her. He tells her he doesn’t know what to say. He never denies his feelings, his affection, his sentiment toward John. He only tells her he doesn’t know what he could possibly need from her.

She doesn’t judge him. She doesn’t rail at him about how unfair it is that he never told her even when he knew she had feelings for him. She doesn’t tell John what she’s noticed. His intellectual colleague has just deduced the truth of his feelings, and she proves in an instant that she can keep his secret.

This is when she becomes the person who matters most.

“You’ve always counted, and I’ve always trusted you.”

If Sherlock and Molly were going to be in a relationship, it would have begun at this point, and Anderson’s story would have been at least partly true. This was the ultimate trust fall, and she passed with flying colors.

When he returns, he thanks her by taking her out on a case, letting her work with him all day. It’s all she ever wanted – to be in John’s shoes. He tells her she’s not being John, she’s being herself. That he is completely capable of loving her as a friend, trusting her. But in the end, it doesn’t work. The two of them don’t even finish up the day by going out together. She’s moved on (at least for now). If he had confessed his feelings for her, she’d have waited for him, or she’d have broken up with her boyfriend when he returned and swept her away with him on his adventures.

After TRF, she no longer flirts. She doesn’t talk about how she feels about him. She only mumbles that he’s her type, and she dumps her fiancé because she knows she was chasing the wrong thing. She deserves a better love than the one she was trying to force with Sherlock’s cheap replacement. And she knows that now.

In conclusion, Molly is awesome. She’s awesome because she’s a brave, trustworthy, intelligent woman who has done what few other humans have done in helping Sherlock confront his feelings. But she knows Sherlock is gay. She’s known it since that day in the lab. And knowing that she knew and that he could trust her was what made her the most trustworthy person in Sherlock’s eyes.

6

Moffat Appreciation Week: The Sherlock Special

“I’m your landlady, not a plot device!”

The Abominable Bride is a story about stories within stories within stories.  Here the tale of a Victorian Sherlock is embedded in a modernised Sherlock Holmes in the present time, with short stories and blogs and a journey back into the painting of a waterfall. This characteristic is not only visible in the episode’s parallels, references and it nods to storytelling, but it also extends to its Victorian plot and the deconstruction of the role of women in the show, the original story, and society.

The episode judges and preaches, with a deliberately dramatic flair, but it almost side-steps the issue of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss being the one to indirectly critique, by making the male perspective explicit in the text itself. This is not a woman’s narrative, not outside and not inside the show, and it’s not even attempting to masquerade as one. It clothes itself in its own limitations – that of a story written by two men about two other men. And so it takes place in the mind of a man, filtered through his point of view, entire scenarios made up within an already fictional world.

Keep reading

John is always right: A Sherrinford Hope-ful Meta

A theory about Mycroft, Sherrinford, Eurus and Moriarty that fortunately turned out very S2-ish.

I have made it somewhat clear that I wasn’t exactly excited after The Lying Detective, aside from the crime case of Culverton Smith which was certainly one of the most thrilling of the show. 

One of the worst aspects of it was the unveiling of the secret Holmes sister, Eurus. I have trouble finding her convincing as an evil psychotic sibling and even more trouble to understand why she haunted the brothers’ minds even when they were kids (”there is an East Wind coming, it’s a story my brother told me when we were kids”) or why she seems to be justified for her wrath (”seeks out the unworthy and plucks them from the earth”). There is a lot more I don’t like or understand but I decided to roll with it until we see what happens in TFP.

What’s worse is that the show seems to point at the direction of another Holmes sibling, Sherrinford, and it becomes dangerously implied that this fourth sibling might be Moriarty. I can’t analyze again why this is a terrible possibility but let’s just say in short that if Moriarty is a fourth sibling, the plot becomes significantly weaker with all the brother and sister drama additions and all the old scenes between Sherlock and Moriarty become suddenly very uncomfortable to watch. Moriarty’s former characterization also suddenly loses a lot of depth and credibility. 

So, I tried to check if there is a way Eurus is truly the secret bad sister and Moriarty is still biologically unrelated to the three siblings that actually seems probable and I came up with the following theory that fits and is also perhaps my last hope:

John, as usual, is the conductor of light. 

Keep reading

NaLu Angst AU: Last Chance

A/N: Hey, all; time for some angst! This was randomly requested by my babies hakuu-ryuu, thecelestialmaiden, and heir-of-dragons. X3 And I’d say it’s about time I gave Lucy a hard time this go-around and gave Natsu a break, yeah?

ALSO: This is based off of personal experience, something pretty upsetting that happened to me a couple days ago. Therefore there are possible trigger warnings. Thought it might be fitting for this. Hope you enjoy!


Rated: T

Character(s): Lucy, Natsu

Synopsis: When your life takes an unpleasant turn, it pays to have someone there to guide you over the cracks.


Another accident?! Where are your eyes, on the back of your head?!”

Lucy cringed back slightly, away from her father’s furious bellows as she murmured quietly with her eyes glued to the floor, “No, Dad…they’re not.”

“Speak up, young lady! I didn’t raise a doormat!” Lucy raised her head hesitantly and was met with her father’s incensed gaze. She couldn’t blame him for it—this was her third automobile accident in two months, and this time, she’d completely totaled the front of her car. Even with insurance covering the repairs, the costs would be extremely heavy—and Lucy’s family wasn’t exactly raking in money.

Lucy knew that she should’ve been paying more attention to the road. She knew that she was in the wrong for spacing out right before a red light. It was entirely her fault that she’d violently rear-ended the minivan in front of her because she hadn’t been checking her surroundings.

And that wasn’t even why her father was mad at her.

Even though this wasn’t her first car accident, she’d panicked during the aftermath. Her car was totaled now, unable to be driven. They’d had to call a tow truck to take it to a body shop, but Lucy had somehow screwed that up by calling the wrong number. She’d sat in the sun for nearly three hours waiting for a tow truck that would never come, and her father had not been happy to hear about that.

He yelled at her for being clueless. Unobservant. Stupid. Childish. Panicky.

He yelled at her for not acting like an adult when she was overcome with shock and panic thanks to the violent crash.

Nobody had gotten injured, in a stroke of luck, but that didn’t make this harsh reprimanding sting any less painfully.

“Dad, I’m sorry,” she said, trying to raise her voice but only ended up making it quaver in fear. “I know I should’ve payed attention to what I was doing—”

“That’s not the issue here!” he snapped, cutting her off. “What I’m more upset about is the fact that you’ve acted like a total fool clearing up the mess you made!” He stepped toward her once threateningly, as if he was about to hit her, and Lucy instinctively shrunk back at his approach. “What kind of imbecile sits in the sun waiting for a tow truck for three hours when she has classes to go to?! The natural thing to do then is to call the tow company to see what’s holding them up! Did you really think you had that kind of time to waste today? Did you?!

Lucy’s throat burned at her father’s verbal attacks as she bit her lip in a bid to avoid breaking down and sobbing—if there was one thing her father hated more than incompetence, it was crying. He was already upset; she didn’t want to add fuel to the fire.

Her father seemed to notice the effect his words were having on her. He ran his hand through his graying hair and sighed deeply.

“Lucy, I know you’re better than this,” he said in a controlled voice. “I raised you to be better. You are a Heartfilia, and it will do you and our family some good to act like it.” He lowered his hand, and his dark eyes bored into her own as he continued in a low voice. “This is the last chance I’m giving you, Lucy. One more sign of incompetence out of you, and I won’t be so forgiving next time. Do you understand me?”

Lucy simply nodded as her father exited her room and slammed the door shut. She didn’t have it in her to speak out loud. She knew exactly what he meant, and she didn’t even want to think about facing the prospect.

It was ages before she could gather herself enough to grab her things and bolt out of her room.

She couldn’t bear to stay here any longer.


Natsu sighed in irritation as his doorbell continued to chime over and over. If it was those idiot prankster kids again, he was going to lob a boot at them.

He peeked into the little hole in his door just to make sure that it was safe to open—and was surprised when he caught sight of his longtime friend Lucy jamming on his doorbell.

That was odd. Had something happened to her? She wasn’t normally this persistent.

Natsu promptly pulled away from the peephole and opened the front door, but even before he could open his mouth to ask her the question, “Hey, are you oka—?”, Lucy rushed in and tackled him into a hug, sobbing her poor eyes out.

Immediately his mind went into overdrive. There were so many reasons for her to be crying right now—did she get bullied again? Gotten hurt? Been yelled at?

Not to mention, Lucy had tackled him with a hug. That had never happened before.

“H-hey, Lucy; what’s the matter?” he asked desperately. “You’re scaring me with all this crying; what happened?”

Lucy seemed to pull herself together at the sound of his voice. She detached herself from him and stepped back, her face burning and cheeks streaked with tears.

“S-sorry,” she stuttered, wringing her hands and fidgeting nervously. “I wasn’t—I didn’t mean to—”

“I don’t care about that, really,” he insisted, taking her forearm and leading her inside. “Just come in and sit down. You can tell me what happened once you’re comfortable, okay?”

Lucy looked stunned for a moment before giving him a teary smile. “Th-thanks, Natsu…really.”

He smiled back in reassurance. “No sweat. Just take it easy.”


Once he’d gotten Lucy properly settled in (with a cup of tea to calm her down) in his living room, Natsu sat himself next to her and started to ask her the important questions.

“So take it from the top,” he suggested. “What happened?”

Lucy stared down at her cup of tea wordlessly for about another half a minute before answering him. “I…I got into another accident earlier today,” she confessed. “And I didn’t exactly do a…stellar job of taking care of the consequences.”

Natsu felt his eyes tighten in reflex. “Did your dad yell at you again?” he asked tersely.

It was difficult to catch, but he could see that Lucy wouldn’t meet his eyes for a split second—but that was enough for him to deduce the truth.

“Lucy, you can’t keep letting him talk to you like that,” he protested. “It’s really not fair—anybody can make the same mistake more than once!”

“Yeah, but…this time was the last straw for him.” Natsu could see her hands tremble against the cup. “He told me that if I mess up like that again…I—I won’t get another chance.”

“What? What does that—?”

 Lucy bit her lip and averted her eyes. This behavior only served to stress Natsu out—but before he could ask, she spoke up.

“He’s going to kick me out,” she said bluntly before he could get another word out. Her voice cracked slightly at the last word. “Is that good enough for you?”

Natsu had to sit there and let her words digest for a moment before he exclaimed, “He’s doing what?!

“Yes!” Lucy said sharply, startling him into silence. “He’s going to kick me out for being an incompetent daughter—because I can’t even take care of a stupid car accident—because I don’t pay attention to what happens and—and generally look like an idiot all the time!” She slammed her cup down onto the coffee table before her, tears leaking out of her eyes again. “And I—I can’t even deny that I—that I’m not—!”

Without even thinking about it, Natsu took her shoulder and pulled her close into an embrace. Unlike before, when she’d punch him in the face for so much as touching her even slightly suggestively, Lucy didn’t complain.

 “Don’t you listen to what your dad says about you, Lucy,” he told her gently, stroking her head once and brushing her unkempt bangs out of her face. “He doesn’t know how amazing of a daughter he’s got. He’s just blind.”

Lucy hiccuped rather ungracefully—Natsu thought it was almost cute. “N-Natsu, I—”

“Nope, you can’t argue with me.” He felt a smile spreading across his face. “Listen, if your dad tries something funny again, I’m here for you. So I don’t want to see you crying because of him again, okay?”

That did it—Lucy completely broke down at his words and collapsed into his chest, sobbing uncontrollably. He rubbed her shoulder reassuringly in order to soothe her. His favorite shirt was getting ruined thanks to her tears, but he really couldn’t care less.

If Lucy needed a shoulder to cry on, he was going to make damn sure that it would be his.

LA Times: Elementary deduces the painful truth at the heart of sobriety

Very few shows could pull off a homage to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman without seeming exploitative, sensational or culturally carnivorous. Only one could do it in the middle of an episode dealing with a bunch of missing anthrax and Garret Dillahunt as a dairy farmer.

“Elementary” has its share of pivotal moments, but they are invariably underplayed, woven into crime-solving story lines that allow the larger narrative to emerge with surprising power. It may be the best portrait of recovery on television.

Sobriety is not the point of “Elementary”; the deductive powers and social ineptitude of its famous lead and his relationship with Watson are what drive the show.

But the addiction, at first obvious then oblique in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, has always been what made Sherlock Holmes a man rather than a machine; it’s what drew “Elementary” creator Rob Doherty to the character in the first place.

Hoffman’s death, Doherty said in an interview, seemed impossible to ignore because it allowed the writers to put Sherlock “in the position to ask some of the questions many people were asking … to make the point that addiction does not discriminate.

“His relapsing doesn’t change a thing for you, not one single thing. You woke up today, you didn’t use drugs, just like yesterday. You know what you have to do tomorrow? Wake up and not use drugs. That is just how it is. That is how it’s going to be.”

The REAL Truth behind 'Sherlock Holmes'

It all starts, strangely, with the Phone Hacking Scandal.

Because that wasn’t a scandal at all.

It was a government test.

“What does a newspaper have to do to have public opinion turned against it? How far will people allow their privacy to be dismissed?”

And everybody played along, the results fed back to government agents.

Then they needed to know how much it took before the public turned against a hero.

So they invented ‘Sherlock Holmes’. In reality he was a frontman for a team of agents, experts in their fields, who all worked his cases. Got him to rise in the public eye. 'John Watson’ is another of their agents, a propaganda expert, whose job it was to get everything into the public eye at a reasonable rate whilst resisting suspicion.

And then it was time to take the hero down. They invented Moriarty, a nemesis for Sherlock to overcome, then undermined everythiong by suggesting Sherlock was a fraud. Now they’re checking how much it takes to convince people to still believe in Sherlock, or to convince them Brook was real and innocent.

Nobody is innocent here.

Everything is just a carefully controlled test, set up by the government, everything is fabricated with precision to make you doubt yourself!

And you fell for it, both sides!

Why have none of the “20 or so” witnesses of the 'suicide’ come forward? Or the EMTs? Because it never happened! It was fake, just a way to complete their story and get their agent into hiding!

You’re all just being played by government agents!

Are you people or sheeple!?

mathemata  asked:

Don't care for a reply, but as the A.G.RA topic went through your posts a while back, I thought I'd just leave you with something I noticed while wasting a perfectly good evening on another terrifically terrifying viewing of HLV - In Magnussen's mind palace, the file he pulled out on Mary had the cyrillic equivalent of AGRA typed on it. One can't but help notice when the east wind is blowing one's head off.

Ooh, nice.

And there it is: АГРА. (Though once again the punctuation changes in the English version, because they are trying to kill the proofreader in me.)

Two things to keep in mind when it comes to Mary and languages:

1) In TEH, one of the words in the Mary deduction cloud was “linguist.”

2) In HLV, Sherlock told Mary, “Your accent is currently English but I suspect you are not.”

As for the rest of Magnussen’s file, it’s impossible to read much of it unless maybe someone can do better with a higher res version. Some fans who are a million times more likely to know what they are talking about with Cyrillic language stuff than me have picked a few words out and seem to be in agreement that the document is in Russian.

The Russian + assassin thing does bring back memories of Ludmila Dychenko, the “Russian killer” from TRF.

Ludmila was the one in “the flat opposite” 221B. She’s interesting for a couple reasons. One is that of all the random folks running around with guns in TRF, Ludmila was the only one who was never seen doing anything. There was just the one still photo of her. But that helps mask the other reason she was interesting—of the three assassins chasing Jim’s fictional key code, she was the only one left alive at the end. (If you’re new-ish here, I’ve got a big old process of elimination post to explain why I say that, but do keep in mind it’s from way before Series 3.)

I had thought about Ludmila earlier, since she was the only one of the living random-folks-with-guns from TRF we didn’t even get a suggestion of in Series 3. She’s not Mary, though, unless some plastic surgery and a height change and such were part of the package. (And not deducing the truth about Mary is one thing, but Mycroft would need to be slapped if an assassin under his surveillance morphed into John’s girlfriend and he didn’t think it was worth mentioning.) Plus Ludmila was running around being an assassin in TRF, and in HLV Sherlock said Mary had taken on her new ordinary-person identity 5 years ago. (Meaning she was already “Mary Morstan” at least a couple years before TRF.)

BUT maybe if Mary does have a Russian connection, she did know Ludmila at some point? Or Ludmila knew of her, and saw her when she was in London during TRF? Or… something?

Let’s call this a weekend project for you guys. Enjoy!

If you're going to hate John Winchester, do it accurately: It Was Never About Revenge

Look, folks, it was never about revenge, it was about protecting the kids. John didn’t care about revenge: he never cited it; it was an assumption that others made, and one which John was probably content to let them think in order to hide the truth: that Azazel had a connection with Sam. All the proof is there in the canon. The writers just didn’t beat us over the head with it.

Note: I divided this into two parts; it just worked better that way.

                                             ———————–

I. What John Knew and When

AFAIK the show never gives a clear answer as to when John learned of the Sam/Azazel connection, but we do have some clues suggesting that he at least suspected Azazel had targeted his family specifically and that it probably had to do with Sam. First, John — as far back as Sam and Dean remember — never shared any theories about Azazel with them:

DEAN: Well, you know Dad’s story as well as I do: Mom was—was on the ceiling. And whatever put her there was long gone by the time Dad found her.

SAM: And he never had a theory about what did it?

DEAN: If he did he kept it to himself. God knows we asked him enough times. (1.09)

Clearly John had made a decision long ago NOT to include the boys on his theories about Azazel. And it’s not just because he didn’t want to talk about the events surrounding it: he would talk about Mary’s death. Additionally, John has an excessive level of anxiety about protecting Sam as far back as Sam being a young child. I don’t think I need to cite all the evidence to convince people of THAT one – the flashback in 1.18 ALONE should be a huge red flag. Then there’s this exchange between John in Azazel in 2.01:

AZAZEL: You know the truth, right? About Sammy? And the other children?

JOHN: Yeah. I’ve known for a while.

And then there’s the fact that in 1.21 John states it was about protecting his family and makes no mention of revenge: “After your mother passed, all I saw was evil, everywhere. And all I cared about was keeping you boys alive. I wanted you prepared. Ready.” (I know this quote is longer but I’m going to repost the whole thing later). Ask yourself this: why would John drag his sons all over the country, leaving them alone in motel rooms, exposing them to monsters, if his entire motivation was safety? The logical conclusion is that the only reason John would expose his sons to the dangers of hunting is if it were more dangerous NOT TO, meaning he believed that their family was still in imminent danger and that this wasn’t a random monster attack.

I mean can you really say John wasn’t motivated to protect his children when he flat out states it and the rest of the evidence supports it? I could stop the essay right here and now, but I’m going to drive this home with all the evidence I can because this shit needs to get out.

II. Sam’s Skewed Perception as the Dramatic Force in John’s “Arc”

Now let’s explore Sam’s relationship with his father throughout the first season, because when you look at the amount of focus on Sam’s view of his father, it becomes clear that Sam had a VERY skewed image of John’s motives, and that the writers were playing off of it for narrative purposes. (This is not, by the way, a criticism of Sam: Sam’s assumptions were logical. It was John who chose to never correct them, because he’d rather let Sam hate him than reveal the truth.)

In 1.04, Sam is surprised to hear his dad was proud of him at college (JERRY: “Well, he was real proud of you. I could tell. He talked about you all the time.”) In 1.08 Dean explains why John didn’t want Sam to go to college:

DEAN: Sam, Dad was never disappointed in you. Never. He was scared.

SAM: What are you talking about?

DEAN: He was afraid of what could’ve happened to you if he wasn’t around. But even when you two weren’t talking, he used to swing by Stanford whenever he could. Keep an eye on you. Make sure you were safe.

This must not have been convincing for Sam, because in 1.11, when John tells them to stop looking for him for the sake of their own safety, Sam refuses to accept it and briefly pursues John. Now I don’t think in that particular instance Sam didn’t believe John per se, but I think he may have thought John was pushing it too much as an excuse to control his sons. And that’s something that he expresses in 1.20 when they fight: “You’re the one who said don’t come back, Dad, you closed that door, not me. You were just pissed off that you couldn’t control me anymore!”

So, what’s clearly being established here is: Sam thinks John is a control freak who was mad he left for college because he couldn’t control him anymore; but at the same time we’ve gotten evidence that John has in these instances been motivated at least in part by wanting to protect Sam (and Dean) and that Sam doesn’t recognize/believe it. And it’s a theme that SEEMS to come to a resolution in 1.21…

JOHN: You gotta understand something. After your mother passed, all I saw was evil, everywhere. And all I cared about was keeping you boys alive. I wanted you prepared. Ready. Except somewhere along the line I stopped being your father and I became your drill sergeant. So when you said that you wanted to go away to school, all I could think about, my only thought was, that you were gonna be alone. Vulnerable. Sammy, it just… it never occurred to me what you wanted. I just couldn’t accept the fact that you and me, we’re just different … What?

SAM: We’re not different. Not anymore. With what happened to Mom and Jess… Well we probably have a lot more in common than just about anyone.

JOHN: I guess you’re right, son.

Now I made sure to provide Sam’s response to John in the above to show that while Sam and John “made up,” they were NOT on the same page (as we see in 1.22 when John is mad at Sam for not shooting him to kill Azazel): in 1.21 Sam thinks he and John are both in it for avenging Mary and Jess. John doesn’t really deny it, but I think that’s because it was convenient to let Sam operate on that assumption. 1.22 is a very Sam-centered episode: this is pretty much the culmination of Sam’s main arc: where he decides to choose family over revenge. Which is why Sam is naturally furious when John seems unmotivated to save Dean in 2.01. But remember: Sam has a distorted view of John, especially when it comes to accepting John’s desire to protect his sons. The writers have spent the entire first season giving you that important puzzle piece.

See, when John decides to trade with Azazel, I think a lot of fans see this as John learning to choose family over revenge – like Sam’s arc. Except there’s no evidence to support this. And we already were SHOWN that he CURRENTLY will put the boys first in 1.16, when he willingly walks into Meg’s trap to save them. Even Meg, who’s only heard Sam’s side of things, has deduced the truth: 

MEG: He is pretty good. I’ll give you that. But you see, he has one weakness.

DEAN: What’s that?

MEG: You. He lets his guard down around his boys, lets his emotions cloud his judgment. I happen to know he is in town. And he’ll come and try to save you.

2.01 isn’t about John “changing” – because there’s nothing to change. This is about revealing the full truth about John: that it had ALWAYS been about the boys. John isn’t apathetic to saving Dean: he’s apathetic to Sam’s suggestions because he has already decided to make the deal. What does John tell Sam in the first ten minutes of the episode right after Sam updates him on Dean’s (poor) condition? To get the colt (which he tellingly refers to as possibly their “only card”) and bring to him ASAP and to pick up a bunch of supplies which he claims are for “protection” but which he uses for summoning. Even Azazel gets this shit:

Why, John, you’re a sentimentalist. If only your boys knew how much their daddy loved them.

The drama in this episode is about the tragedy that it was always about the boys but they never understood it, NOT about John going through some sort of cathartic “choice.

And this is where perhaps the writers dropped the narrative ball. Because while they spelled this stuff out pretty strongly, they never gave us THAT scene. You know, the scene where Sam and Dean go, “Ohhhh, now I get it now: it was all about protecting us from the start!” And I think that was for the very simple fact that they chose to not have Dean reveal what John had told him (at least not right away), and when he did, the focus became more about Sam and Dean’s relationship.

TL;DR: I don’t ever want to see anyone in this fandom claim this shit was about revenge ever again when you’ve got the entire first season + 2.01 telling you it wasn’t about revenge.

tjdaviss  asked:

About your post on the quadratic formula. It goes back up in September every year, because that is when students are forced to start to learn about it. Down in the summer because nobody likes what they teach in school.

You’re not exactly right.

For most students, the quadratic formula is indeed a gruesome encounter with some non-trivial mathematics. They don’t know where it comes from, have to learn it by heart, and know how to use it only in straightforward but artificial exercises. No creativity to be found. It can even be disapproved to try something new instead of sticking to the plan.

The source of that problem doesn’t lie with the math itself: it’s the system of education that’s inherently wrong. To make students appreciate mathematics, they should be taught to think, instead of to calculate. Creativity, intuition and interest should be stimulated, by letting students try to solve problems, instead of giving them a magic formula to apply and to learn by heart. Math is not solving quadratics by a formula, it’s understanding why the formula works.

If you’re the lucky student who understands math is about deducing real life truths, and not about calculations with contrived interpretations, you just may be wanting to learn about cool mathematics during summer. I do. But then you wouldn’t need to waste time on looking up the quadratic formula, because you’d know where it comes from.

Don’t blame mathematics for being boring, blame school.

latimes.com
CBS' 'Elementary' deduces the painful truth at the heart of sobriety

Very few shows could pull off a homage to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman without seeming exploitative, sensational or culturally carnivorous. Only one could do it in the middle of an episode dealing with a bunch of missing anthrax and Garret Dillahunt as a dairy farmer.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I think Mary McNamara is the best TV critic around.  If you like this show, you might like this brief piece.  It’s a reminder that I’m probably not watching one of the best shows on TV.

“You were letting him down Sherlock; John Watson is definitely in danger.”

The thing that struck me the most about when Moriarty said this is not that Sherlock fought back against death for John, which has to be said is exceedingly beautiful and moving and heart-breaking (and yes romantic), but the fact that Sherlock did in fact let John down. He was so focused on keeping John happy, doing everything in his power to make him happy- planning the wedding with Mary, learning to fold napkins, interviewing people to have a role in the wedding so that everything went smoothly, organising the seating arrangements- everything he did he did to make John happy. He ignored the one thing in the world that that matters the most to him (before he met John, as we know John is the most important): his work. “Your inbox is overflowing” John had said, Sherlock was putting John’s wedding and happiness ahead of his work because he wanted that day to be perfect for John. He deduced Mary as a liar in The Empty Hearse, but didn’t dwell on it because he knows she makes John happy, however now we know he didn’t deduce the whole truth about Mary which is odd for Sherlock, but he did it because his visions were clouded in wanting to maintain John’s happiness.

THEN, Moriarty says this to Sherlock and he immediately realises he has let John down, he didn’t see this coming- Sherlock Holmes didn’t see this coming (about Mary). He knows he should have been better, he recognises that maybe he has made a mistake and he fights back because he wants to do right by John and be better for him. Be “worthy” of being his best friend.

The subtext in this season is heart-breaking and beautiful and painful all at the same time. A truly phenomenal season by Steven and Mark, not to mention everybody else involved in creating Sherlock. Wow- just wow