These Are The Good Old Days

I just read “How President Trump Can Use Political Pressure to Defeat the witchHunt” (Josiah Lippincott) on American Greatness.
And I realized I’ve been enjoying a kind of personal “Summer of 1914”, an interval perceived as a halcyon period preceding the First World War, particularly in England. (Yes, “England”! We don’t even hear that name now).
Of course I’m appalled and terrified and frustrated by “the weaponization of Justice”, the erosion of the entire Bill of Rights; the times are parlous, as Yeats described:”The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity”.
But do I really believe, feel, that we are beyond democracy, beyond constitutional government?
If I did, why would I follow the polls, and still hope, although of course with the obligatory cynicism, that election interference can be curbed by next November, and a vindicated and victorious Trump be inaugurated on 1/20/25?

Lippincott says no matter what the 2024 election results, the election will destabilize the country.

You may be thinking “Duh, is that all?” But I remember reading, decades ago, when I was just beginning my lifelong quest to comprehend history, that in Third World countries, elections are not the resolution of political crises; instead, they are just the signal for initiation and escalation of civil disorder.

Remember the awful summer of 2020? People assaulting other people up close and personal, expelling their breath in shouts and chants while obediently sporting those party-favor thin surgical masks-throwing bottles of frozen water, the umbrellas springing open like poisonous mushrooms, the fires? The breaking glass (surely that is THE iconic sound effect to the end of ordered liberty)? The piles of bricks mysteriously delivered, in broad daylight, to be stockpiled convenient to access by the coming night’s “protesters”? The burning of churches, including the historic church right next to the White House?

That, we have to face it, WAS “Donald Trump’s America”, just as much as the 3 glorious prior years.

Even if we vote him back into office, the armies of the night will never let us have our ordered liberty back.

Lippincott ( who admires and believes in Trump as much as I do) actually suggests at one point that Trump should just declare these “lawfare” prosecutions illegitimate and refuse to participate. Would “they” really DARE to physically assault and restrain him and take him to jail?
In my opinion: yuh.

Even if we win we can’t win.

Whereas if (gulp) Biden is reinstalled……I don’t think people like us will actually take up bricks, bottles, Molotov cocktails. I’m not even sure there will be ANY “destabilizing” activities вs Lippincott predicts. Jan 6 2021 was a minatory exercise. We don’t have to speculate as to what would happen to us.

No, I’ve been living in the waning days of a blessed illusion of peace and liberty.

But, as they say, that’s okay: they know me there—and I fancy I know my way around. So I reckon I’ll stay a while.


I ran some numbers using the US actuarial tables for men. Biden will turn 81 on November 20th. The second term would last until January 20, 2029.

Biden Age Risk of death Year Biden survives the year
80 0.065568 2023 93%
81 0.072130 2024 87%
82 0.079691 2025 80%
83 0.088578 2026 73%
84 0.098388 2027 66%
85 0.109139 2028 58%
86 0.120765 2029 51%

I think candidacy at this age is irresponsible and selfish unless the other candidates are really so bad.

Here’s the one for Trump:

Trump Age Risk Year Trump survives the year
77 0.049152 2023 95%
78 0.054265 2024 90%
79 0.059658 2025 85%
80 0.065568 2026 79%
81 0.072130 2027 73%
82 0.079691 2028 67%
83 0.088578 2029 61%

Why is there a lower survival probability at the same age between Trump and the Big Guy?

Is this saying an 80 year old man in 2023 has a 93% chance of surviving the year, but an 80 year old man in 2026 has only a 79% chance?

Is the one year life expectancy at age 80 going to drop by nearly 20% between 2023 and 2026?


Mind the cumulative risk.


No, it’s because when you start at 77, upon reaching 80 you’ve already filtered out the ones who die at 77, 78, and 79. You will always get a lower estimate for a given age when you start the “survives the year” computation at an earlier age because of this effect.


Here are two posts on 𝕏 in the last few hours that evoke (at least for me) this kind of “last days of the empire” vibe.



Apart from the revelation that the former speaker of the U.S. house of representatives cannot spell “California”, consider that in polls for the Republican nominee, the leader by 39 points, is a person who polls among the general electorate in excess of 63% unfavourable.

Now, let’s look at another poll:


Around 70% or more do not want either of the likely party nominees to be candidates in the forthcoming election, and yet that seems to be what the system is on to track to present to them as the alternatives.

Does this seem a bit…errm…unstable?


That certainly is the rational assessment, based on all the observations. Ask yourself – When did I vote for expanding NATO to the Russian border? When did I vote to spend $Billions we don’t have to support a corrupt regime in the Ukraine? When did I vote to open the southern border to a massive influx of illegal aliens? When did I vote to offshore the industrial base on which the prosperity of the US depended? “Democracy” is dead.

History suggests that the best option at this stage would be for the current oligarchy to solidify their control and start to govern in their own long term self-interests. The worst option would be for a strongman to seize control. But the most likely option is the Argentian experience – incompetent oligarchs, corruption, more misery, and decline. Practically speaking, we peons will have no influence on what happens.

I have often wondered what it would have been like to live through the 1930s, when it was obvious (even without the benefit of hindsight) to see which way the world was going. Now we know! The rational individual choice is to make the most of the remains of the day – eat, drink, and be merry!


Hypatia – as chance would have it, I came across this cri-de-coeur which may have some relevance. Mr. Quinn somehow manages to be depressing & upbeat at the same time.

UNDER THE BOARDWALK – The Burning Platform


Another stat: Biden is the 13th oldest American president in history:

We’ve got shadowy elites hiding behind Joe Biden’s (and probably also Donald Trump’s) candidature, who will come into power unelected with a high enough probability to be very concerned.

Even common people get it.




Nothing says greatness like a president that is operating at a 12 year old level. Mr. President, write I don’t make the decisions 100 times or skip recess. Mr. President, you have to eat the mushed peas or skip recess.

Unless, as I suspect, Biden will not be the Democrat candidate we will get to witness this in 2025.

Sidenote: Is there a way to bet that neither Trump nor Biden will be the President? I should get better than 10:1 odds right now and I would love to take that bet.


The Brits bet on everything – having lost any hope of advancement through hard work and business smarts. There are probably places there where one could bet on that.

The real question is whether, at this advanced stage, it will make any difference who is selected president?


The Woodcock-Johnson IV Technical Manual, which is the source of that graph, is an excellent education in advanced psychometrics. (see esp. pp. 44-47) It uses Rasch measures which are absolute measures of ability, which can be compared across ages, unlike IQ. These ability measures also are measures of the difficulty of questions and allow calculating the probability that someone of a given ability will get a question of a given difficulty right. When ability=difficulty, the chance is 50%. If the ability is 10 W-score points higher than the difficulty, the chance is 75%, if 10 points lower, then 25%. For g, or FSIQ (full scale IQ) W-scores, the adult average is 520 with an s.d. of about 10.5. All W-scales (there are scales for every subtest and cluster of abilities) set an average 10 year old’s score to be 500.

The WJ-IV Technical Manual also is full of data. I made the following graph from just a couple of rows from the appendix:

(see my blog for more, including a PDF version. I also have spreadsheet fonctions for converting IQ or percentile at a given age to W-scores, useful in advocating for radical acceleration for gifted pupils.)


Screenshot 2024-01-31 at 9.11.27 AM


Switzerland is last


I’m a bit startled as to how close Canada is to the end of the list. Given the current government immigration policies, that doesn’t seem right.


I wondered that too. I didn’t look into how these numbers were derived, but one difference that crossed my mind is the massive influx of illegal Hispanic immigration to the US. I’d wager that the amount of illegal immigration into Canada (on a per capita basis) doesn’t hold a candle to what’s happening in America—for better or for worse, Canada still gets to pick the vast majority of its immigrants. FYI: Canada is turning into Little India.

The other curious point is that China and the US are basically neck and neck…so, maybe the rate of decline in IQ has nothing to do with immigration or is due to different factors depending on the country.


John and Roxy knew what they were doing! :slight_smile:


Or their presence skewed the stats. :wink:


Well, one can divide a group into any number of sub-groups and analyze each sub-group separately and get a different result. The question is whether the overall trend has any real-world effect (I think it probably does and probably not for the best).