16 February 2016

Reinventing the Wheel

John Williams thinks every student should have a mentor, someone who can act as counselor, sounding board, advice giver -- and maybe, if the student is lucky, someone who can open doors in the working world.
Back in the benighted days, before public-funded compulsory education, and well before everyone went to college, every student had a mentor who acted as counselor, sounding board, and advice giver.  That mentor was called a parent.

Back in the day, parents would teach their children how to function in the adult world by being a role model.  Mothers would teach daughters how to handle domestic duties.  Fathers would teach their sons their trade.  Occasionally, fathers would apprentice their sons to another man to learn a trade.  For the most part, though, parents taught their children everything they knew, and introduced them to the world at large.

Parents who raise their children to pursue the higher education should not be surprised if their children eventually grow distant, particularly if said parents do not have an education.  By expecting your children to pursue higher education and a “better” life, you implicitly teach them that your way of life is inferior and not worthy of replication.  Do not weep if they take this lesson to heart.

Many men will find happiness and contentment working by the sweat of their brow, building, growing and hunting.  Many women will find happiness and contentment in tending to domestic work and focusing their labor on their family.  Money doesn’t buy happiness, and in much knowledge there is sorrow.  Happiness is found in work and home, and wise are those who master this and teach their children the same.

An Interesting Take

Leon Wieseltier:
The interest of Scott’s book lies not in its contribution to the solution of the problems it treats, but in its exemplification of our moment in American culture and American cultural journalism. It is an accurate document of the discourse of “takes.” This movie, that book, this poem, that painting, this record, that show: Make a smart remark and move on. A take is an opinion that has no aspiration to a belief, an impression that never hardens into a position. Its lightness is its appeal. It is provisional, evanescent, a move in a game, an accredited shallowness, a bulwark against a pause in the conversation. A take is expected not to be true but to be interesting, and even when it is interesting it makes no troublesome claim upon anybody’s attention. Another take will quickly follow, and the silence that is a mark of perplexity, of research and reflection, will be mercifully kept at bay. A take asks for no affiliation. It requires no commitment. [Emphasis added.]
Here is another thing that I wish to add to a litany of complaints about modernism:  the only vice is being boring.*  Put another way, the only virtue is being interesting.

It doesn’t matter if an argument or criticism is true—though plausibility helps—what matters is its novelty.  Saying that Americans blacks are, on average, poorer than American whites because they are more likely to behave like poor people (i.e. act lazy, act impulsive, have short economic time-preferences, be undisciplined with money, etc.) is a banal observation.  Coming up with an impressive theory of institutional and governmental oppression is at least novel, which is why it’s approved.  In short, stating the obvious truth is repulsive to modernists not because it is true, but because it’s obvious.

The modernist embraces a mysticism of terrestrial complexity.  Because he denies the metaphysical realm but, like all humans, wishes to revel in mystery, he must therefore believe that the physical realm is far more mysterious and inexplicable than it actually is.  Thus, the physical truths that are obvious spiritually alive are viewed lies by the materialist.  The true reality is a vast conspiracy of shadowy actors who manipulate various people, events and institutions to their advantage.

Because the materialist modernist needs the world to be a mystery, he looks up to those who can shroud the obvious in a mist of complexity.  His priests, as it were, are academics and scientists.  He reveres economists and physicists, among others, for they make complex, highly elaborate models of reality. In truth, it doesn’t matter if these models are accurate, in the predictive sense.  What matters is that they are complex, for their complexity provides a mystery.  Moreover, their predictive inaccuracy provides yet even more mystery, and thus an accurate model would be a very boring thing indeed, and so it is perfectly acceptable, and perhaps even expected, for the complex sciences to be constantly wrong.

Simple rules and heuristics, and simple systems are chided as the crutches of an inferior mind.  It is complexity above all else.  But, because that which is complex is predicated on a denial of reality, it is often prone to catastrophic failure.  The housing bubble collapse of 2008 is a perfect example of this.  Antifragile by Nassim Taleb expounds on this concept at length.

Making the obvious into a mystery is both tragedy and farce.  Likewise, discarding simple truth for complex lies turns a man into something subhuman altogether, rendering him blind to the beauty before his eyes and makes him a fool who believes himself wise.

* Cue Family Guy


Do you know why nearly every parent doesn’t eat right and doesn’t exercise enough? Answer: Marriage. Kids. 
Do you know why most adults are self-medicating with alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs? Answer: Because married life sucks and single life sucks just as much. (Single life sucks because society is organized for marriage.) 
Do you know why so many adults can’t get the training they need for a job? Answer: Marriage and kids. Not enough time or money left over. 
Now look around at your friends over thirty and ask yourself which ones have financial problems. Is it the divorced ones? Yes, it is. Marriage leads to divorce about half the time, which often leads to emotional and financial ruin.
I suspect Scott Adams is trying to rationalize his divorce.  Nonetheless, his complaint illustrates a common blind spot in the modern way of thinking.

Marriage is an institution, and like all institutions, its efficacy is predicated on the commitment of those who join it.  Also, like all institutions, it has a very specific form, purpose, and organization.
Most of that which is considered institutional failure is not actually institutional failure.  Most institutional failure is actually personal failure.

To wit, a marriage consists of a husband (male) and wife (female) who are joined in marriage for life for the purpose of producing and rearing children.  The husband is the head of the household and the woman is his helpmeet.  The children live in submission to their parents.  When the man and woman who are joined in marriage are committed to the roles the institution demands, success follows.  Success happens by definition because success is adherence to the institutional form and purpose.  Thus, dedication to the form and purpose is success.

An institution is simply an arbitrary way to organize and focus human behavior.  Institutional success, then, is simply a measure of how disciplined the organization is and focused its collective behavior is.  Institutional success is more processional than consequential.*

As such, condemning marriage for causing depression is simply asinine because marriage as institution is not concerned about parental emotional states.  Moreover, blaming marriage for divorce and financial ruin is even more asinine because marriage isn’t supposed to end in divorce.

The real issue is that people are joining an institution without being completely dedicated to its form, purpose or organization.  Consequently, they fail at marriage because they are not disciplined in its organization, nor are they focused on its behavior.

Some marriages fail because the man does not commit to the role of husband, and thus do not take full responsibility for the duties of the position, nor do they focus on the behavior of their wife and children.  They simply go through a few of the motions, and defer their responsibilities to those considerably less suited to carrying them out.

Some marriages fail because the woman does not commit to her role as a wife, and thus does not take full responsibility for the duties of the position.  She does not focus on the behavior of her husband and complement it, nor does she focus on the behavior of her children.  She simply goes through a few of the motions and defers her responsibilities to those considerably less suited to carrying them out.

Marriage works.  Marriage works as an institution.  The failures attributed to marriage are really failures of people who are not committed to the institutional roles and responsibilities of marriage.  Thus, marriage does not need to be fixed or changed.  Rather, it is the people who would wish to join in it.

* The reason why institutional success is more focused on process than outcome is because a) there are too many factors impacting outcome that exist outside an institution’s control and b) if outcomes were the most important factor, there would be little point to establishing any sort of order since the most logical course of action would simply be to take the easiest path to attaining an outcome with complete disregard for all external consequences.

12 February 2016

Getting to the Heart of Atheism

Getting to the heart of atheism rests on three questions.  One, do you seek God?  Two, could you recognize him if you found him?  Three, would you worship him if you recognized him?

No one will find that which they do not seek.  Thus, those who loudly proclaim God’s nonexistence with great certainty are not seeking God.  It should thus come as no surprise that they have not found him.  By the same measure, it shouldn’t be surprising if God has not revealed Himself to them.  Their atheism is not honest, nor are they, and they should simply be ignored.  They choose to disbelieve and disobey. You will not change their mind.

In keeping with this, no one will ever find that which they cannot recognize.  It doesn’t matter how much time you spend searching for something if you do not know that for which you are searching.  The atheist who proclaims himself a seeker—albeit an ignorant one—might merit some attention and education.  Ignorance is certainly an understandable reason for not seeing God, especially since the adversary loves to deceive.  Failure borne of ignorance is understandable, and even amenable, provided it is sincere.

Finally, those who refuse to worship God when in His presence should be surprised that He would not take pains to reveal Himself to them.  What would be the point of presenting yourself to an ingrate?  Thus, it should come as no surprise that those who would not worship God would also deny his existence.

If a man isn’t seeking God, couldn’t recognize him if were, and wouldn’t worship him if he did, then there is no reason to give him even the time of day.  His disbelief is dishonest, and not amenable to evidence or reason.  It is best to leave him be.

11 February 2016

A Taste of Things to Come

Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual assault prosecution has been the trial of the decade for men, as it’s a winner for us on every level. Ghomeshi, a former CBC radio host, bragged about being a women’s study major and male feminist. He now finds himself being prosecuted under the same matriarchal legal system he lobbied for. [Emphasis added.]
Funnily enough, if Jian were to live under, say, a Judeo-Christian patriarchal legal system, he’d also find himself being prosecuted.  Not for rape, of course, but for fornication.

Patriarchal systems really frown upon extramarital sex.  The Judeo system prescribed death for convicted adulterers, for example.  Lest readers think this sort of thing is confined merely to archaic Middle Eastern religions as they were practiced thousands of years ago, it’s worth noting that, “16 different American jurisdictions from eastern and southern had passed various statutes against fornication,” and that fornication is illegal under common law.

Of course, American laws against fornication are no longer enforced, and wouldn’t apply to the Ghomeshi case even if they were.  Nonetheless, it’s pretty hilarious that Cernovich thinks Ghomeshi’s problem is the matriarchy.

Ghomeshi’s real problem is that he is a fornicator.  Fornication is wrong.  Fornication is evil.  Fornication is bad.  To say this is to state both the obvious and the self-evident.

To put it another way, the odds that Ghomeshi would be accused of rape if he were celibate are extremely low (i.e. practically zero).  The odds that Ghomeshi would be accused of rape if he were married and sexually faithful to just one would woman would likewise be similarly low.  The more you fuck around, the more likely you are to be fucked.

There is a natural order to the world, and those who rebel against it will face rather predictable consequences.  Pain, heartbreak, humiliation, shame, mockery and punishment are reserved for those who violate the natural order of things.  Fornicators, liars, adulterers, pedophiles, homosexuals and all others who rebel against and otherwise undermine the natural order will ultimately find themselves in a world of shame, pain and despair.  Most rebels will get a taste of the consequences to come in this life.  Those who are wise will repent and be reconciled.

Birds of a Feather

If you doubt that we live in a culture of false rape culture, consider this article by SJW “journalist” Jesse Brown. In “Why Did Jian Ghomeshi Keep Lucy DeCoutere’s Letter?” Brown accuses Ghomeshi of wrongdoing for saving letters, emails, and texts from women he had sex with. 
    Jian Ghomeshi kept Lucy DeCoutere’s handwritten letter to him for 13 years. She was never his girlfriend. They never had sex. Given what we heard at trial last week, it’s hard to imagine he was carrying a flame for her. So, why did he hold on to it for over a decade? 
Yes, why would a famous man save letters from women…Oh wait, Ghomeshi is on trial for rape and those letters and texts are saving his life. 
Are you seeing what the game is? A woman who claims you raped her must be believed, no matter what. 
    The materials he had were threatening enough to keep most women from going to the police. That threat was realized last week in the cross-examination of Lucy DeCoutere. One of my initial sources wrote to me that what Lucy DeCoutere endured on the stand made her feel relieved that she spoke to the media and not to the police. 
Save text messages and photographs. “Journalists” may later criticize you, but at least you’ll stay out of prison.
Reporter: Okay, what part of your satirical argument that you're making can you maybe understand that they took and turned it into that lie? 
Roosh: Not honest. They were not honest and they knew it. The people who wrote that and said that the article is true, that that is a "pro-rape" article, they lied. That's it. They are lying people. Most people in the media are liars.
This reminds me of a verse in the New Testament:
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarsthey will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. [Emphasis added.]
The sexually immoral and liars are of the same flock.  Men who live to pursue women that are not theirs to have are no better than the women who bear false witness against them.  Moreover, they are not any more honest than their accusers.  To wit, consider Roosh’s claim that, “I must state right now that not a single woman has been hurt by me.”

The correlation between casual sex and psychological discord (i.e. lack of emotional well-being) is pretty well-established, so it is incredibly far-fetched to say that pumping-n-dumping women is completely without any negative effects.  Moreover, it takes two to tango, so no man can reasonably claim that his female hook-up partner’s des2-1ire to have casual sex completely negates the guilt of his decision.  She may have wanted it, but so did you.  Another person’s sin doesn’t justify yours.

Essentially, Roosh is a liar and a fornicator, and he finds himself in the company if the same.  Jian Ghomeshi is a liar and a fornicator, and he finds himself in the company of the same.  This should come as no surprise:  birds of a feather flock together.

10 February 2016

A Litmus Test

Pat Lohman’s most powerful weapon in her long war on abortion has been deception.
It’s a tactic she has embraced for nearly three decades to disrupt one of Northern Virginia’s few abortion clinics. Lohman operates her Manassas crisis pregnancy center right next door. 
Same brick building, same sign, same generic office decor. The abortion clinic, Amethyst Health Center for Women, was on the right. The pregnancy center, AAA Women for Choice, is on the left. 
Confused women seeking abortions would wind up in Lohman’s place, where she threw all she had at them — pamphlets, pleas, prayers, promises of help, used baby gear, bloody imagery, God — to change their minds. 
“Deceptive? People say we’re deceptive? Okay,” Lohman told me. “But what the other guys are doing? That’s deceptive, too. Those girls have no idea what abortion really is. When I hear ‘pro-choice,’ that is a deception. And this country has forgotten about God.” 
Here’s the part that’s really astonishing. Several months ago, the abortion provider retired and the Amethyst Health Center closed. That’s when Lohman, 69, and her supporters swooped in, orchestrating their grandest deception yet. 
Nothing indicates that the abortion clinic is closed except a locked door. The clinic’s Google ads still pop up, and the phone number still works. When women dial the closed abortion clinic, the call is forwarded straight to the pregnancy center. Everything remains in place to lure women to the clinic and hope they try the door, figure they made a mistake, then go right next door to the carefully named AAA Women for Choice.

I’m most interested in seeing how self-described Christians react to this sort of story.  Is one’s Christian Identity that of a warrior, fighting against evil, using every tactic at one’s disposal to overcome the evil one?  Or is one’s Christian Identity that of the noble loser, content to cede the enemy's every advance out of fear of getting dirty in the war against evil?  Is Christianity the mantle of conquerors?  Or is it the mantle of cowards?

29 January 2016

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Hollywood owes America jack shit. If, and this is a big if, the entertainment industry has a responsibility to be “fair,” it owes fairness only to those poor bastards who are trying to become a part of it. This was a basic argument of Friends of Abe, the failed experiment in conservative Hollywood advocacy. FOA never demanded that Hollywood hire conservatives in exact proportion to the number of self-identified conservatives in American society. FOA only sought to ensure that people in the industry who are conservative don’t lose jobs on account of their beliefs. [Emphasis added.]
The reason why Hollywood is filled with progressives is because they discriminate against non-progressives and progressives-lite.  In essence, they have established cultural homogeneity by excluding people who would undermine said homogeneity.  The lesson to be learned from this is that preserving one’s culture is really as simple as excluding those who would undermine it.

Simply put, beliefs and behaviors matter.  If you don’t want your family destroyed by your enemies, don’t allow them into your home.  If you don’t want your business destroyed by SJWs, don’t employ them.  If you don’t want your church destroyed by Satanists, don’t fellowship them.  It really is that simple.

In keeping with this, stop being nice.  Stop trying to be nice.  You will not change people by chasing after them and reaching out to them.  Instead, they will drag you down.  Keep no company with them.
Instead, keep your distance and make it clear that they are not welcome to be around you and yours unless their behavior meets your approval.  Do not seek the approval of your enemies, make them seek yours.  If they will not seek your approval, ignore them.  Do not waste your time trying to make them better by being a good example; it simply will not work.  Instead, demand they behave a certain way or else remove themselves from your presence.

If this is too much for you to handle, be prepared to be dragged down.  Evil companions corrupt good morals.

The Failures of Success

A 17-year-old girl who was attacked by a man in a city center at night told police that he knocked her to the ground and unbuttoned her pants, trying to undress her, but she turned on him with pepper spray and was able to escape. Her assailant fled and hasn’t been caught, but the victim is facing legal consequences. 
“It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten of Sønderborg, Denmark, told TV Syd about the incident, which occurred at 10 p.m. on Jan. 20. Her fine will be around 500 kroner ($73), and many commenters on TV Syd’s story have offered to pay it for her.
I suppose that it is easy for successful, established cultures to forget the price that was paid to attain success.  As such, it is easy to think that the establishment of a long-standing culture is predicated on taking the moral high road.  More often than not, though, the truth is that cultures are established by violence and force, and maintained by the threat of violence and force.

Thus, the law banning the use of pepper spray is nothing more than moral preening, used to yield forth fruits of emotional hedonism.  While it might feel good to feel that you are part of a society that has attained such a level of civility so as to not need violence or the threat thereof to maintain peace, the reality is that barbarians, whether from within or without, are repelled not by moral smugness, but by violence.

As such, punishing citizens for using something more substantial than moral soliloquies to defend themselves is really nothing more than a societal death wish.  Society is built on the backs of honest men and is sustained by the blood of barbarians.

28 January 2016

Shortsighted Analysis

Cruz is right. Legally mandating that a certain percentage of fuel used be ethanol is a bad idea for several reasons: 
First, mandating ethanol means more land must be plowed to grow corn for fuel. The Department of Energy estimates that if corn ethanol replaced gasoline completely, we'd need to turn all cropland to corn -- plus 20 percent more land on top of that. 
Second, requiring ethanol fuel raises the price of corn -- bad news for consumers who must pay more for food. [Emphasis added.]
For someone who claims to be a pro-market libertarian, Stossel is being incredibly dense with his point that requiring ethanol will increase the price of corn.  In the short run, it’s likely that the price of corn will increase, but it in the long run it will likely revert to normal levels.  Put simply, markets respond to incentives.  If corn prices go through the roof, more people will look into growing corn in order to capitalize on the higher prices.  As supply increases, prices will drop, and the market will correct itself to a more stable price level.

What’s concerning about Stossel’s point, though, is that a libertarian is arguing against a policy on the basis of price stability.  Any libertarian with a basic knowledge of American political history in the 1970s would know that price stability was the main reason for Nixon enacting wage and price controls.  As such, libertarians embrace price dynamism as a feature of the marketplace, as it enables the rapid dissemination of information based on a single signal: price.

Thus, Stossel’s complaint about government regulation being bad for consumers makes about as much sense as complaining how a drought in Iowa is bad for consumers.  Sure, there might be a sharp, immediate jump in prices, but the market will sort it out eventually.

The root of the issue, though, is that Stossel still fancies himself as a consumer advocate, and he clearly believes that the market is better at taking care of consumers than the government.  The problem with this entire approach is that it assumes that consumption is the purpose of life, which is why consumers need an advocate.  While consumption (whether of food, drink, entertainment, etc.) is a fact of life, it is not the purpose of life, nor is it the basis of economic success.  Production and capital are the basis of economic success; excess consumption is the result.  As such, it is simply ass-backwards to approach any economic question from the perspective of consumption.

Marginal Improvements

According to international data from the World Health Organization, European teens ages 15 to 19 tend to report greater levels of binge drinking than American teens. 
This continues into adulthood. Total alcohol consumption per person is much higher in most of Europe. Drinkers in several European countries — including the UK, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland — are also more likely to report binge drinking than their US counterparts. 
Younger teens in Europe appear to drink more, as well. David Jernigan, an alcohol policy expert at Johns Hopkins University, studied survey data, finding that 15- and 16-year-old Americans are less likely to report drinking and getting drunk in the past month than their counterparts in most European countries.
I’m hesitant to place a lot of faith in this report.  Since underage drinking is quite verboten in America, I would strongly doubt that American teenagers are being perfectly honest in their self-reported consumption of alcohol.  Given that Europe doesn’t have a history of prohibition like America does, and given that there is less of a stigma associated with alcohol in Europe, I would tend to doubt that European youth have anywhere near the same incentive to hide alcohol consumption on self-report surveys. As such, I’d take this finding with a grain of salt.
But perhaps most tellingly, liver cirrhosis death rates in 2012 were significantly higher in several European countries than in America: The US's age-adjusted rate for men 15 and older was 14.9 per 100,000 people, while the UK's rate was 16, France's was 16.4, Germany's was 18.8, and Denmark's was 20.2. This is likely a result of excessive drinking in youth and adulthood.
"If you look at youth drinking, the US ends up with a much healthier drinking culture simply because our young people start drinking later," Jernigan told me.
Alternatively, American youth don’t binge-drink as much because it’s harder to hide.  They might not necessarily be starting later, just starting with less.
The basic conclusion from looking at all these countries' experiences: Stricter alcohol policies can reduce deaths. This is true when looking at the drinking age, alcohol taxes, how alcohol is distributed, and so on. These policies won't eliminate alcohol deaths, but they will reduce them.
This is the crucial part.  No law or regulation will completely eliminate a given behavior, generally speaking.  Even the harshest penalties for disobedience aren’t completely effective at eliminating that which is banned.  Murder has been illegal from time immemorial, and generally punished with swift brutality, yet there has never been a time or society that was completely free of murder.  The same goes for fraud, theft, rape, kidnapping, and so forth.  Stricter punishments for crime will, at best, lead to marginal reductions in occurrence.

In keeping with this, the fundamental question of every system of justice should be:  at what cost?  While reducing alcohol and drug abuse is a good goal, the real question is how much reducing the rate of abuse costs.  Moreover, an outright ban of a given substance may not reduce drug use in general, but shift consumption from one product to one that’s legal.  It may be the case that youth who cannot buy alcohol will instead use junk food as a substitute, leading to a higher rate of obesity instead of cirrhosis, in much the same way that spice and bath salts are used as substitutes for illegal drugs.

Moreover, sticks may not be as effective as carrots.  Threatening punishment may do less to disincentivize drug use than rehab, and may be less cost-effective as well.  Thus, while the higher drinking age in America, coupled with the fairly tough punishments for those who enable underage drinking, may lead to fewer alcohol-related problems, it is hardly a given that this particular approach is a particularly cost-effective way of attaining its goal.

Nonetheless, this research establishes an important point.  Namely, that the efficacy of regulation is not as potent as you would assume.  A truly wise person will realize that rules will only have a marginal effect in altering people’s behavior.  As such, it is good to not become too enamored of regulation.

Victory Will Come Tomorrow

Limbaugh also says that the conservative "intelligentsia" -- in the form of conservative magazines and think tanks -- doesn't want to solve problems, it just wants to score points in an "academic exercise" within a perpetual "debating society." "In other words," Limbaugh says, "some people constantly need something to run against as a reason to exist."
Limbaugh’s observations are certainly keeping with Vox’s book, Cuckservative.  The important thing to remember about conservatives/conservatism is that it isn’t interested in winning, nor does it stand for anything in particular.  It is simply a reaction to the excess of progressivism.

By way of example, no conservative would argue that the Civil Rights Act of 1965 was bad policy.  In fact, conservatives would agree that the progressive principle of “equality” was essentially correct.  Both conservatives and progressives agree with the fundamental assumption that blacks deserve equality with whites in American society.  Where conservatives differ from progressives is where to draw the line of equality.  Conservatives say the line should be drawn at equality of opportunity; progressives say it should be drawn at equality of outcome.

Consequently, conservatives will always be doomed to lose to progressives because they don’t really have a disagreement with them.  They just have vague feelings that change is happening “too much, too fast.”  This is nowhere close to being a political principle, and thus cannot be the foundation of a successful political movement.  A vaguely-felt political Luddism simply is not enough to inspire anything other than verbose, angst-ridden National Review articles.

In keeping with this, slumlord notes:
Now, by DR, I mean the Right that has abandoned the post war conservative institutional consensus, in other words, what counts for "mainstream Conservatism" which is currently in its death throes across the Western World. The recent National Review edition against Trump is an example of the conservative consensus flailing about to keep the traditional constituency in tow. There seems to be global revolt of the rank and file against the institutional conservative establishment which increasingly fails to meaningfully distinguish itself from the Left. Furthermore, I think we've reached a sociological tipping point, in that extent of foreign migration (and its media coverage) has finally started to fuel a nativist backlash and, more importantly, the economic forces of globalisation have finally started to seriously impact upon the middle class.  Globalisation, whilst it was putting out blue collar workers was not a really issue for the Right but now that its pernicious effects are being felt in Middle Class--(politically the class that matters most)--a serious revolt has begun to brew.
Conservatism is dead, and it is doubtful it was ever alive in any meaningful sense.  It was always Progressivism light.  It was leftism, but thirty years late and extremely apologetic.

While slumlord would argue that a new conservatism (the alt-right) is taking root and will supplant progressivism, I would say that the alt-right will go the way of the current mainstream right.  Any political movement that doesn’t meaningfully disagree with the principles of progressivism is functionally the same as progressivism.  As such, it will bear the exact same fruit as progressivism, which is to say it will consume itself.

As such, I suspect that if there is to be a political revolution, it will be Regressivism.  In short, I expect a functional revolution to be comprised of people who wish to revert to historically traditional principles, such as hierarchical social structure, strict monogamy, traditional sexual mores and roles, strong ethnic identities, religious orthodoxy and strong but relatively limited government.  Basically, Europe before 1600.

This revolution would be nothing short of a complete rejection of the progressive ideals, as there is no place for equality, freedom of religion (or of the press, speech, etc.), secularism, diversity/multiculturalism, or sexual promiscuity.  I can’t help but think that most people would be much happier with this arrangement, especially women.  As such, the sooner we bury the corpse of conservatism, the sooner we can get to work on ordering society by traditional principles.

26 January 2016

In God We Trust

As Esoterictrad points out, there seems to be this notion that everything will be OK if you fix up an isolated act of degeneracy whilst wallowing in an ocean of it. Let me illustrate what I mean. For years I struggled to understand why fornication was wrong. Why should God be so opposed to the private act of affection between two consenting adults, especially if no harm was done by it? It's taken me years to realise my formulation of the question was based upon a failure to understand the "extrapersonal" dimension of the sexual act. Sex is not simply an act that can be isolated to two people, but its an act with much wider sociological implications. Compartmentalising it is simply a poor way of thinking about it. 
Family stability is partly a function of the prevailing sexual mores.  Acceptable promiscuity facilitates family dissolution, it facilitates abortion, it facilitates the alpha harem and alpha widowhood with the subsequent negative effects of long term pair bonding. It disincentivises socially productive beta behaviour and promotes the dark triad of traits which undermine society. It moves the locus of control of sexuality towards the female instead of the male, undermining the intended sexual dynamic between sexes. Fornication, considered from a simply personal perspective, is probably not that bad, but when considered from a global one, it is a lethal poison. Getting people to grasp the global picture is very hard. Telling people to keep "your morals to yourself" keeps the focus on the local and not the global. [Emphasis added.]
Most people are incapable of grasping the global picture.  In a somewhat technical sense, no human will ever completely grasp the global picture.  Humans are not God, and thus will never grasp the global picture the way he does, which is to say completely.  Fortunately, man does not need to grasp the global picture because God has given man the chance to be his child and embrace the identity of being God’s child.  As such, all that the child of God really needs to know is that fornication is wrong because it is not the practice of the child of God.  God has created an order by which his children are to abide and they need not know the reason for it.  Instead, they need only to commit to their identity as a child of God.

More to the point, the child of God is in control of only himself and those who live in submission to him.  Focusing on the behavior of people who do not live under his authority is a fool’s errand to say the least.

That said, if one is committed to the role of being a child of God, there are some natural consequences that follow.  In the first place, the child of God will associate with those who are also children of God.  Additionally, the child of God will avoid associating with those who are not children of God, which certainly requires paying attention to others’ behavior to some extent.

To get to the point at hand,  while it is certainly fallacious to think that “that everything will be OK if you fix up an isolated act of degeneracy whilst wallowing in an ocean of it,” it is also true that it is better to fix an isolated act of degeneracy than to leave it be.  Moreover, given the general limits of most humans’ intellectual abilities, it’s quite an accomplishment to get them to stay focused on the local for any length of time, to say nothing of focusing on the global.

The best thing to do, then, is to mind your own business and ignore the things that are beyond your control.  A man who ignores his son in order to spend time in night clubs fruitlessly telling players to change their ways isn’t making the world better; the man who pays no mind to players and instead molds his own son into a just and upright man is.

This talk of saving the world, of seeing the global picture, is high-minded nonsense.  Worse than that, it’s utterly pointless as the world was saved some two thousand years ago when Christ rose from the dead.  The Serpent’s head is crushed and sin no longer has dominion over us.  We no longer need to plan to save the world because God—who sees the global picture—has already carried out his.  All we need to do is imitate God as dear children, faithfully discharge the duties he has entrusted us, and forsake evil companions who would beset us.  God will take care of the rest.

The Death of an Institution

T.C.U.’s great moment on the field last weekend coincides with a low off the field: It said it would erect a statue of Coach Gary Patterson. There are no statues on the T.C.U. campus of scientists, writers or philosophers, but generations of students will be expected to venerate a jock. It’s bad enough when large public universities present themselves as sports meccas first, educational institutions second. Now this worldview is spreading to a midsized private college at T.C.U., which has 209 staff members in its athletic department versus 43 staff members in its history department.
Per Wikipedia, TCU was founded in 1873 by brothers Addison and Randolph Clark.  They “nourished a vision for an institution of higher education that would be Christian in character, but non-sectarian in spirit and intellectually open-minded.”  TCU’s claim to fame, some 140-odd years later, is its sports program. More specifically, it’s famous for its football team.

In addition to Coach Gary Patterson, three other men are enshrined in bronze on campus:  the aforementioned Clark brothers and philanthropist Charles Tandy.  As noted, by Easterbrook, there are no statues of scholars.  More tellingly, there are no statues of religious leaders either.

Unfortunately, this appears to be but a totem of a larger problem.  J.F. Sargent, writing in Cracked’s inimitable style, points out:
Varsity sports are fucking a big, bloody hole right in the center of the American education system, and laughing the entire time. If we did away with all varsity sports -- yes, all of it, today -- the world would be a better place. I'm serious, why do we play sports in college at all? What's the fucking purpose? Aren't those supposed to be schools? Aren't we supposed to be teaching people about the real world? 
"But sports bring in money!" you spit desperately at your computer screen. No, they don't: Sports teams are actually massive financial drains on their colleges, with only 10 percent turning a profit. Most colleges end up more like the University of Michigan, which lost $7 million over two seasons. 
"But that's good for the college's prestige!" you cry deliriously, flapping your elbows like bird wings and rubbing peanut butter on your exposed chest (it's so easy to make you sound ridiculous when I'm describing you, and also you're fictional). Ah yes, you poor fool, you've fallen directly into my trap: Sports have no correlation with academic prestige. Ivy League schools consistently suck at sports, refusing to award scholarships for athletics or compromise academic standards, and that's never stopped them from being Ivy League fucking schools. So sports are less a source of prestige and more of an alternative to it. So unless you can tell me how the $450 million spent renovating this stadium at Texas A&M University wouldn't have been better directed toward, say, the faculty or academic resources, I'll just stick with the fact that college sports are awful and can go to hell.
Sargent’s point that schools use sports as an alternative source for social prestige is brilliant.  In fact, it makes perfect sense in light of the American social order.

Intellectual elitism, by its nature, is rare and difficult to attain.  Less than 3% of the population will be significantly smarter than average (i.e. at least two standard deviations smarter than average).  Less than 18% will be generally smarter than average (i.e. at least one standard deviation smarter than average).  Additionally, intellectually accomplishments aren’t easily understood by the less intelligent.  In turn, the less intelligent are less inclined to celebrate intellectual accomplishments due to their inaccessibility, thus making intelligence less socially prestigious than more easily understood status markers, like wealth, beauty and athleticism.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that as college enrollment has radically increased in America, schools have dumbed down their curricula, lowered their admission standards, and have used employment placement and sports accomplishment as their two main tools for recruiting new students since dollar signs and final scores are more readily understood by the less intelligent (i.e. common) than, say, the meaning of being a national merit scholarship winner.  The dumbing down of education is really the result of democratizing education.  It could never be the case that most people would possess an elite intelligence, and thus it was inevitable that expanding the offer of a college education to the masses would result in an institutional transformation that would bring colleges in alignment with the main concerns of the masses: money and sports.

TCU, and institutions of higher learning in general, provide us with a fascinating word of warning.  Institutions are but fragile shells. They are more likely to be transformed than be transformative, especially when those in charge of an institution forget this very simple truth:  an institution is a reflection of its members.

If you allow a large number of commoners to join a college, the college will soon reflect the interests and passions of the commoners.  If you allow hedonists to join your school en masse, it will soon develop a reputation for being a party school.  If you only allow those who are intellectually-minded and serious about pursuing a higher education, you will maintain your reputation as an institution of higher learning.

There are many implications to be drawn from this, two of which stand out from the rest.

First, if you wish to establish an institution that will function exactly as you intend, you must be extremely selective about who is allowed to join it.  In short, people matter.  It’s not enough for someone to be technically competent at filling a role.  They must also have a very similar set of beliefs, desires, goals and aims as you.  They must share an identity with you, your system, and your goals.  Orthodoxy is as important as orthopraxy.

Second, you must have an exit strategy.  There are only two good options:  shut it down or train your replacement.  Shutting it down is self-explanatory; I won’t belabor the point.  If you wish for your institution to continue on even after you can no longer run it, you must pick someone who is committed and trustworthy to replace you.  Not only that, you must train him to be as much like you as he can.  You must make him your disciple and, most importantly, emphasize to him that he is to do the same when it is his time to step down, and so on ad inifinitum.

I suspect that a lot good institutions fail because the founders of the institutions did not take pains to establish a strong tradition for their successors to follow and imprint on the subsequent generations.  They failed to establish and maintain a strong institutional identity that transforms those who join it.  Because they could not change others, others changed them.

25 January 2016

The Choke Artist

It’s official:  Tom Brady is a choke artist.

He hasn’t won an away playoff game in over ten calendar years.  He is now 1-3 against Peyton Manning in conference championship games.  He’s 0-2 against the Giants in the Super Bowl.  He’s 0-3 when playing at Denver in the playoffs.  Furthermore, he was one and done in 2009 and 2010.  He’s never had a 4-0 playoff run in any season.

His completion percentage is lower in the playoffs than in the regular season.  His touchdown-to-interception ratio is lower in the playoffs than in the regular season.  His passer rating is lower in the playoffs than in the regular season.  He wilts under pressure.

In short, his play declines enough that the Patriots formula for getting to the Super Bowl requires a bye week and home field advantage because he simply cannot handle the adversity of an extra game and playing on the road.

The conference championship game against the Broncos is yet another piece of evidence that he cannot deliver under pressure.  He couldn’t handle the pass rush, taking four sacks.  He couldn’t hit his passes, completing less than 50%.  He was 2 of 13 on third down.  And, with the game on the line, threw an interception on the two-point conversion.  In the biggest moment, he couldn’t get it done.

There’s no doubt about it:  Tom Brady just chokes.

24 January 2016

Opposite Day

Clearly the only explanation for Jeb Bush's almost effortless stroll to the Republican nomination is the pernicious stranglehold of big money in politics. 
Oh, wait. Bush is in the low single digits in most national polls, despite his campaign and his super PAC raising more than $100 million. 
Perhaps that's only because Donald Trump, the billionaire populist, is buying the nomination with his dragon's hoard of gold? Well, no. Trump has spent less than any other major candidate. 
But surely Hillary Clinton, with her close ties to Wall Street, her husband's storied hobnobbing with the global .001 percent, not to mention her vast Rolodex of Clinton Inc. supporters going back four decades, has bought herself the nomination? 
It doesn't look that way, according to the polls. She's losing ground to Sen. Bernie Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders has raised more money from small donors than any other candidate in American history. And he's done so by declaring nothing short of war on what he calls the "billionaire class." 
"I do not exaggerate when I tell you that the foundations of American democracy are being undermined," Sanders told some students at the University of Chicago (and pretty much anyone else he's ever talked to). "American democracy is not supposed to be about billionaires buying elections." 
You'd think that if the "billionaire class" -- all 536 people -- had the kind of unfettered control over the U.S. political system Sanders believes them to have, Mr. Sanders would be asking, "Would you like fries with that?" 
Instead, he's got a plausible, if not yet entirely probable, shot at the Democratic presidential nomination. And even if he doesn't emerge victorious, he's already dragged Clinton to the left on the issues the billionaires are supposed to care about. 
And Trump, widely disliked among his fellow billionaires -- at least the Republican ones -- has had remarkable success demonizing his wealthy peers. 
The simple fact is that almost everywhere you look, the super-rich are being stymied by democracy. In 2014, David Brat, an unknown academic, defeated the second most powerful Republican in Congress, then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, even though Cantor spent more money on steak dinners than Brat did on his whole campaign. The recent referendum on marijuana legalization in Ohio was lavishly funded -- and failed. And just a reminder: Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney and his plutocrat pals. 
Those evil corporations aren't faring much better. We constantly hear about their vise grip on Washington, yet we still have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world (not counting United Arab Emirates). Big corporations rightly want to be able to repatriate their profits earned overseas without being taxed on them again. (Most countries allow corporations to pay taxes on profits solely in the jurisdictions where they were earned.) And yet they can't get it done.
There are certain complaints that don’t make sense until you invert them.  For example, the complaint that big money is subverting democracy doesn’t actually match the facts.  But if you invert the complaint to, “big money has a minimal effect on democracy,” you suddenly get a clearer sense of the issue.  It feels like it should be the case that the government’s apathy towards voters’ desires is the result of some shadowy billionaires buying off all the politicians.  Instead, the real problem is that the government’s apathy is the result of having grown so large that it is incapable of acting responsively.

By the same principle, the Salem witch trials don’t make a lot of sense either.  If those convicted of witchcraft were truly witches, wouldn’t they have used their witchcraft to escape punishment?  But once you invert the complaint, it becomes clear that the real issue with those convicted of witchcraft was precisely that they were not witches.  In essence, they couldn’t deliver.

When dealing with these sorts of complaints, it’s important to separate the cause of emotion from the rationalization for it.  The causes are often legitimate (in this case, government inefficacy), but the blame is usually misattributed (in this case, all-powerful billionaires exerting influence).  In fact, blame is always misattributed in these sorts of matters because if those who are blamed were truly powerful enough to cause the problem, they would also be powerful enough to escape retribution.
The key to dealing with these sorts of complaints is to validate the underlying emotion but address the real root of the problem.  Ironically, the people being blamed for causing the problem are usually the ones best suited to deal with it.  Moreover, the mechanism being blamed for the problem is usually the one best suited to deal with it.

For example, white males and their patriarchal racism are generally blamed for the problems currently facing the black community.  Of course, it was white males who ended slavery and gave blacks equal rights, so clearly the complaint is divorced from reality.  Ironically, black culture was healthier and stronger when white males were dominating it, so the solution the problems facing the black community today would likely be solved by white males forcibly imposing their superior culture on blacks and excluding insubordinate blacks from society.

In like manner, a lot of government problems would be cleared up if billionaires like Donald Trump or Jeff Bezos took control of the government since they have much more practical administrative experience.  Of course, they would impose a much more centralized command, and would also impose a more uniform code of standards on the country as a whole, which would make for a more rigid and authoritarian government, and would severely undermine regional cultures in favor of a national culture.  However, that is the least messy solution to the current government problem, as the alternative is dissolution and temporary chaos.

At any rate, the lesson to be learned from all this is that complaints are not to be taken at face value.  The underlying emotion may be correct, but it is generally far wiser to do the opposite of what those who are complaining say to do.

Neither Hot Nor Cold

Via Heartiste:
For foreign conquest and alien rule, the evolutionary psychological perspective suggests that women should fear alien rule much less than men, but only so long as they are reproductive, because they then have a good chance of being spared by the conquerors and have the option of marrying into them. Accordingly, the analyses of the Eurobarometer data show that young women are much less xenophobic than young men, but the sex differences disappear around age 50. […] 

Interestingly, a separate analysis (not shown) demonstrates that the interaction term between sex and age in a combined sample of all ages is not statistically significant, except for religion. It means that, at least for nationality and race, women do not gradually and linearly become more xenophobic over the life course. They suddenly become qualitatively more xenophobic sometime between the ages of 40 and 50.
This reminds me of an interesting anecdote recounted in Thomas Asbridge’s The Crusades:  The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land:
The Turks burst into the camp in strength, striking with arrows from their horn bows, killing pilgrim foot-soldiers, girls, women, infants and old people, sparing no one on grounds of age. Stunned and terrified by the cruelty of this most hideous killing, girls who were delicate and very nobly born were hastening to get themselves dressed up, offering themselves to the Turks, so that at least, roused and appeased by the love of their beauty, the Turks might learn to pity their prisoners.
Women are the weaker sex, and are generally aware of their weakness.  Consequently, they are more sensitive to power dynamics across macro, mezzo and micro social levels.  Being the weaker sex, they are much more inclined to align themselves with whoever is most powerful (or, alternatively, whoever is powerful enough).  This is simply the nature of reality; it is impossible to change.

In keeping with this, it should come as no surprise that women detest male weakness.  Consequent to this, women also hate male apathy.  A strong man who will not defend what is his is no better than a weak man who cannot defend what is his.  Therefore, it should not come as a surprise if women decide to deride or desert men who are or choose to be weak.  There is no absolutely no point for a woman to be with a man who can’t or won’t be strong enough to take care of her.*

Moreover, there is little point for women (or men, for that matter) to be loyal a country that is run by a suicide cult of gelded elites.  If political leaders are so weak-willed as to allow invaders to cross their border without so much as even a passport check (to say nothing of defensive gunfire), they should not be surprised if those whom they rule have nothing but contempt for them and wish to desert them and all that they stand for.  Put simply, a position of authority has an implied responsibility of providence and protection for those who elect to live under said authority.

Thus, it would be stunningly hypocritical for a man to complain about how his political leaders are allowing people to invade his country and making him pay extra in taxes to support said invaders and also complain that women don’t like nice guys but are always chasing assholes who are mean.  Girls chase assholes because assholes are willing to fight for what’s important to them.  Nice guys try to avoid fights.**

The lesson to draw from this is that if you want a woman to be loyal to you, you need to be strong and committed to taking care of her.  More broadly, if leaders want people to be loyal to them, they have to be strong and be committed to taking care of their followers.  The failure of Western society is primarily a failure of men; men have become weak and apathetic.  No wonder women find them repulsive.

Ultimately, the choice for men is pretty simple:  commit to be a strong provider or commit to be weak and impotent.  There is no point in splitting the difference.  I would guess that the frustration Western women have with Western men is that the men are mostly content with merely existing.  They don’t seek to destroy Western society, but they don’t want to do whatever it takes to defend it either.  They are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.  They seek the path of least resistance and would rather complain about what little resistance they face than simply push through it.***  They will have their reward.

* Of course, this truism doesn’t pertain to short-term and inconsequential decisions like whom to brunch with and which PUA to casually fuck after a night of clubbing.

** In fact, when you think about it, the entire argument for accepting refugees is that it enables the refugees to escape the conflict in the place they’re fleeing, and it would be cruel to prevent them, by threat of violence, from escaping said conflict.

*** No blogger encapsulates this attitude better than MGTOWs like Captain Capitalism.  The general mindset is along the lines of, “we didn’t make the mess and we sure as hell aren’t going to clean it up.”  The nobility of this sentiment is beyond compare.

Face to Face

That is a tricky one. In my opinion, in the case of abuse as pointed out in the draft CoC, I think this is fair, and necessary that we all for reports of abuse in private, and with secrecy. Without it, an accusor is likely immediately going to be lambasted by the perpetrator.
As I grow older, I begin to see the wisdom in the admonition to, “never say behind one’s back what you will not say to one’s face.”  For starters, this heuristic is incredibly useful for discerning which problems are actually important.

Any problem that requires direct confrontation is very likely a serious problem; any problem that does not require direct confrontation is not.  In keeping with this, those who are inclined to complain about people behind their backs don’t really have a serious complaint since it doesn’t merit a direct confrontation.  What they really seek when they complain is validation of the legitimacy of their emotional pain (in that they seek acknowledgement that their emotional pain is real and is a normal, healthy response to the alleged offense).

The best response to any sort of complaint is to offer to mediate a dispute between the accuser and the accused.  What SJWs like the one quoted above don’t seem to realize is that this serves two functions.  First, it makes quick work of discerning which complaints are actually legitimate.  Second, and more importantly, it enables a quick solution to the legitimate problems.

There are two reasons why secret tribunals predicated on the assumption of guilt are wrong.  First, they enable injustice to be easily carried out.  Moreover, they make it easy to legitimize the trivial.  I would guess that SJWs are especially blind to the latter issue because SJWs value feelings above all else.  Emotions, though, are rather trivial insofar as they are dynamic and easily changed.  As such, chasing after an ideal emotional state is a fool’s errand.  Thus, SJWs hate direct confrontation and on-the-record dispute resolution because it does not validate their emotional state; if anything, this method of conflict resolution tends to relegate their emotional state to the status of nearly-irrelevant afterthought, which does considerable damage to their self-esteem.

The rather alarming conclusion to draw from all of this is that SJWs are slaves to their emotions, rather than masters thereof.  They cannot quell their anger when slighted; rather they must have the source of their anger punished in order to feel right with themselves.

Moreover, SJWs are narcissists of the highest order.  They cannot conceive that others may not actually care about them, and may thus act without any concern for their feelings.  Consequently, every slight is taken personally because they project their feelings of their own importance onto those whose actions have caused offense.

In essence, SJWs are coddled children whose parents doted on them and spared them from having to grow into functioning adults.  They are no more emotionally mature at twenty-six than they were at six, which is why they run to an authority figure when a peer causes them emotional pain.  They are tattling and want mommy and daddy to fix the problem.  They have a child’s sense of justice, and any organization that is ruled by them will soon look like it was ruled by a child.  Thus, any organization that wishes to remain free from SJWs would do well to respond to Code of Conduct proposals with the polite but firm reply, “the adults are in charge here.”

23 January 2016

In Mala Fide

Those of us who like to believe that human beings are rational can sometimes have a hard time trying to explain what is going on in politics. It is still a puzzle to me how millions of patriotic Americans could have voted in 2008 for a man who for 20 years -- TWENTY YEARS -- was a follower of a preacher who poured out his hatred for America in the most gross gutter terms. 
Today's big puzzle is how so many otherwise rational people have become enamored of Donald Trump, projecting onto him virtues and principles that he clearly does not have, and ignoring gross defects that are all too blatant. [Emphasis added.]
Someone needs to explain to Thomas Sowell that human beings are not, by and large, rational people.  Believing that they are truly is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
There was a time when someone who publicly mocked a handicapped man would have told us all we needed to know about his character, and his political fling would have been over. But that was before we became a society where common decency is optional.
But is it really that bad to publicly mock a handicapped man when a) he’s a presidential candidate and b) has a $100m PAC war chest?
Yet there are even a few people with strong conservative principles who have lined up with this man, whose history has demonstrated no principles at all, other than an ability to make self-serving deals, and who has shown what Thorstein Veblen once called "a versatility of convictions."
So the complaint about Trump is that he’s…a typical conservative?
Some may see Trump's success in business as a sign that he can manage the economy. But the great economist David Ricardo, two centuries ago, pointed out that business success did not mean that someone understands economic issues facing a nation.
And David Ricardo would know a thing or two about not understanding economics.  His labor theory of value has been utterly discredited, and his theory of comparative advantage is so absurdly unrealistic that it has absolutely no practical application.  To be honest, I never thought I’d see the day when the author of Basic Economics approvingly quoted David Ricardo, but here we are.
Trump boasts that he can make deals, among his many other boasts. But is a deal-maker what this country needs at this crucial time? Is not one of the biggest criticisms of today's Congressional Republicans that they have made all too many deals with Democrats, betraying the principles on which they ran for office?
More accurately, Trump boasts that he knows how to negotiate the best deals.  His record generally supports this notion.  Even if he couldn’t negotiate good deals, that would be a damn sight better than the current GOP practice of waving the white flag before getting to the negotiating table.
What kind of deals would Donald Trump make? He has already praised the Supreme Court's decision in "Kelo v. City of New London" which said that the government can seize private property to turn it over to another private party.
I’d imagine that, given his record, Trump would likely make deals that were advantageous to his interests.  Since his interest would be the entire United States if he were president, I’d imagine he would make deals that were advantageous to the United States as a whole.

More to the point, if a NYC businessman is out-politicking the GOP establishment (an establishment which folds like a cheap suit whenever the Democrat party threatens to exclude them from the DC party scene), would that not imply that the rest of the options in the GOP are really fucking shitty?  Seriously, if the GOP is out-played by a showboating real estate mogul, then what exactly would be the point of voting for anyone the GOP establishment picks?

Trump isn’t running in a vacuum.  If the complaint is that he’s a bad dealmaker, the question is: compared to whom?  He’s clearly better at politics and negotiation than anyone else on the GOP slate right now and likely better than Clinton and definitely better than anyone else the Dems are fielding.  Thus, even if he’s not a good option, it hardly follows that he’s not the relatively best option.  So, if he’s the best of a lot of bad options, is he really the problem in this election?  Or would it be more just to blame the GOP establishment for fielding such awful candidates?

The Death Cult

The 1926 case Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes is a favorite liberal American story. On one side, a substitute accused of teaching evolution, the famed progressive attorney Clarence Darrow, and science itself. On the other, the state of Tennessee, creationism, and the populist demagogue William Jennings Bryan, who by the end of the trial was only days from death. Scopes lost the battle, but reason and progress won the war and the film adaptation. The Scopes Monkey Trial, as it was called, is a progressive touchstone, and in the minds of many it continues to describe the difference between the two mainstream American political ideologies. 
When one revisits the primary material, however, the mainstream liberal narrative is far too simple. Jennings Bryan railed against evolution, true, but not just evolution as we understand the theory today. His never-delivered closing statement indicted the “dogma of darkness and death” as a danger to the country’s moral fabric. It sounds far out, but at the time evolution came with a social agenda that its proponents taught as fact. Jennings Bryan didn’t use its name; today, we call it eugenics. 
Scopes was charged for teaching from a textbook called A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems, published in 1914. The book taught Darwin’s doctrine as fact, but it didn’t leave his conclusions there. The author, George William Hunter, not only asserted the biological difference of races, he insisted on the vital importance of what he called “the science of being well born”—eugenics. Like most progressives of the time, Hunter believed in “the improvement of man” via scientific methods. That meant promoting personal hygiene, proper diet, and reproductive control. A Civic Biology also has suggestions for what to do with “bad-gened” people, in a section called “The Remedy.” “If such people were lower animals,” the books says, “we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity would not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe.”
I would say the fundamental problem of so-called progressivism and its adherents is that it has a downright Satanic obsession with death and destruction.  They cannot merely live apart from people who are different from them; instead they plot to kill those who are different from them (i.e. inferior to them) simply because they cannot bear the thought of someone existing who may simply be different from them.

The history of eugenics in early progressive thought is woefully underreported, and the name Margaret Sanger is basically a by-word these days.  Suffice it to say, though, that progressives have since the dawn of their existence been obsessed with killing their inferiors.  They wanted to kill off those they believed to be genetically inferior.  They generally support abortion and euthanasia.  They talk about wanting to kill their opponents.  They are a sick people, obsessed with death.

Or maybe not.  I suspect it would be more accurate to say that progressives are ultimately obsessed with power, as an ends unto itself.

There is great power in bringing forth life, but greater power lies in taking life.  Members of a traditional society are content with the power of bringing forth life* and leave the decision of taking life to God and/or those whom He has appointed as administers of justice.  Viewed from this lens, progressives are truly Satanic in that they wish to follow the example of Lucifer and ignore their duty of bringing forth life and usurping God’s duty of taking life.  As such, the ideal Progressive is a barren man woman who plots to control the fate others.  Undoubtedly, they have their reward.

Waste Not

Collectively, people waste nearly 50% of global food — and in the US and Canada alone, we're wasting $6,000 worth of food every second. 
Canada-based filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer wanted to find out how much of that food is still good, and if they could eat it, so they came up with a challenge: to survive on food waste for six months. 
"We went cold-turkey," they told NPR on a recent podcast. "We said we're going to consume only food that is destined for the trash or already in it. So we could pay for it, but we found that most places would not sell us dated food." 
After six months of dumpster diving and searching behind wholesale warehouses, they managed to rescue over $20,000 worth of food — and spent a scant $200 on groceries.
Bitching about waste is overrated.  Especially when waste involves food.

Much like the like the “crops rotting in fields” stories, this kvetching is quite annoying.  For starters, no system is perfectly efficient, so some tolerance for waste has to be factored in.  Quite simply, it’s impossible to anticipate how much food will be eaten by a particular number of people at a particular moment in time.  Assuming the option is cost-effective, it’s better to prepare too much than too little, even if the overage is discarded as waste, simply because foregone profits typically outweigh discarded inventory.

Moreover, what’s often ignored in this sort of analysis is the waste of an even scarcer resource: time.  Scavenging for food and arguing with warehouse managers is more time-consuming than just buying groceries like a normal person.  It’s not as if there isn’t an overabundance of food in most modern countries.  That being the case, it’s far better to waste food and save time for the important things in life.  The entire point of modernization and industrialization is to reduce the amount of time it takes to acquire life’s necessities, so it really is backwards to not take advantage of one of the main thrusts of modern civilization.

While I’m on the subject, spare me the rejoinders about starving children in Africa.  First off, the biggest problem Africa faces is cultural.  It’s hard for a modern economy to take hold when the conception of property rights hardly exists and tribalistic warfare is the order of the day.  Being unable to protect one’s property from both government seizure and martial destruction is a recipe for disincentivizing economic progress.

Second, shipping waste food from modern nations to African nations won’t do much to solve the problem of starvation because the lack of infrastructure throughout the continent makes it difficult, if not often impossible, to get leftovers to starving people while said leftovers still have some residual nutritional value.  Of course, if solving the infrastructure problem is predicated on more or less modernizing the African economy, which would also solve the starvation problem.  Basically, the reason Africans are starving isn’t because Westerners are wasting food, but because Africans refuse to modernize.

Really, there is no reason to worry about wasting food.  Wasting time is worse, and scavenging food doesn’t actually do a damn thing for those living in a dysfunctional culture half the world away.

15 January 2016

Constraint and Focus

And so it’s hard to get people to understand why a woman would ever choose to live a life alone. We no longer have to choose between being a brain and a body, but I can’t help but think that we lose something when we couple up, and maybe that thing is worth preserving. I pointed out to a different friend that it was the nuns who were the most socially engaged, working with the world’s most vulnerable. My friend, married, asked “as devil’s advocate” whether they were simply compensating for the lack of romantic love and children with their social concern. Yes, I said, maybe. “But we all have needs that aren’t met, and we’re all looking for substitutes.” 
Every morning in Ávila, I walk from my tiny hotel room into the walled part of the city, where another St. Teresa statue stands on her pedestal, overlooking the gates. The town is small, so there is not much to do that isn’t spiritual contemplation or sitting in the sun with a cup of coffee and pastry. There are nuns about during the day, walking in twos, eating gelato and chattering away. 
I’ve traveled with romantic partners before. I had a companion at dinner, so I talked to strangers less. I had someone reading the map, so I wandered down unmarked streets less. It felt cozy, both comfortable and confining. [Emphasis added.]
For those who conceive of freedom as unfettered liberty, the confines of any sort of relationship can seem as intolerable slavery.  The paradox of freedom, though, is that the truest form of freedom requires a very specific set of constraints.

To be more precise, the confines of a relationship enable provide focus and order, which frees one from having to constantly think and decide.  To state it another way, operating within a specified framework eliminates the need for difficult first-order thinking.

By way of analogy, free verse is often less creative than the typical sonnet because free verse is unfocused.  A sonnet follows a very specific set of rules, which actually fosters creativity precisely because it focuses effort into a small number of marginal (but crucial) areas.  Free verse, on the other hand, requires massive amounts of thinking yet still remains largely unrefined simply because it takes a tone of effort to write anything meaningful.

In like manner, the confines of, say, a marital relationship are rather liberating because they systemize a lot of processes.  The historical religious designation of the man as the head (and children as subjects to parents) establishes a hierarchical template.  This relational heuristic streamlines the decision-making process and eliminates a large chunk of need for consensus-seeking.  Consequently, this template improves secondary and tertiary decision-making simply because one no longer has to negotiate primary decision-making functions.

In time, the confines of marriage ultimately become liberating simply because they provide focus and streamline tertiary decisions.  Deciding where to go is more difficult than deciding how to get there. Spiritual restlessness, as cataloged above, is thus the result of having the freedom of direction.  While this sort of optionality is addicting in its own right, it is ultimately unsatisfying precisely because it is unfocused.  The comfort of confines exists because it indicates direction and purpose, and purpose is ultimately the truest form of freedom because it frees the mind of anxiety.

The ennui that you feel is ultimately the result of a lack of purpose.  The desire to maintain optionality traps you in a state of anxiety.  Commitment and its confines is the only thing that can set you free.

A Complaint

Have you noticed that reviews from Amazon.com are aggregated across all other international Amazon sites, but that the reverse is not true? If someone kindly posts a review of a book on Amazon.co.uk, it is stuck there, and not aggregated to Amazon.com. Why? Is a UK review less valuable than a US review? Are reviews from Canadians, Australians or India inferior to US reviews? 
Amazon, like many US tech companies, still really have a problem when it comes to internationalising themselves. If is it possible to aggregate US readers’ Amazon ebook reviews to all of Amazon’s international Kindle sites, then it is certainly possible to aggregate ALL international reviews back to an ebook on Amazon Kindle US, as well as on all the other international sites. I mean, it’s only a little bit of metadata! 
This problem is especially painful for UK authors. While they may gain a lot of reviews from readers in the UK, not one is added to their ebook on Amazon US, which handicaps potential US book sales. But if they are fortunate enough to get US reviews, these are automatically added to their book on Amazon UK. Most streets are two-way, aren’t they?
It is undoubtedly frustrating to be a writer whose works are not being marketed to the fullest extent possible.  However, Amazon’s lack of review aggregation is not likely to play a very significant role in book sales when all is considered.

For starters, while review aggregation may only require a little bit of metadata, it doesn’t follow that it only requires a little bit of processing power to handle the extra code on a site wide basis, so the cost-effectiveness of additional computing resources must be taken into account.  Since Amazon makes money on every sale, they have an incentive to maximize their sales on the margin.  If they aren’t aggregating reviews, it is most likely because the additional sales will not generate enough revenue to justify the additional costs of network infrastructure.

Second, reviews from unknown sources aren’t as motivational as recommendations from friends.  Speaking from personal experience, I have never bought a book on Amazon based solely on the reviews posted on Amazon.  Virtually every book I have purchased has been on the recommendation of a friend or a blogger that I have read for years.  I simply do not browse through Amazon in search of new reading material.  My experience is anecdotal, of course, but I would venture to guess that most people do not rely on practically anonymous recommendations on Amazon when looking for books.

If it is indeed the case that practically anonymous, aggregated reviews are only marginally useful to marketing books online, it would seem that this complaint about Amazon is scapegoating.  Put simply, if one’s book sales are reliant on a top-down marketing push from an online seller, perhaps one’s books aren’t really that good.  I would thus venture to guess that this particular author would sell more books if he spent more time honing his writing skills and developing material for a broader market instead of complaining about the lack of marginal marketing support provided by his main distributor.