Monthly Archives: May 2018

Haidt’s “Righteous Mind”

I see this cited frequently in cultural/political stuff.  This Jonathan Haidt* guy wrote a book arguing that politics is an expression of our morality, and our morality has several dimensions:

  • Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm
  • Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating
  • Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal
  • Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion
  • Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation

Liberals, according to this, mainly concern themselves with the first two, while conservatives are equally attentive to all five.

Which is horse hockey.  Well, either that, or “liberal” and “conservative” don’t mean what “common usage” suggests they mean.  In fact, in modern political debate, Haidt’s argument is almost exactly bassackward.

Start from the top.  Care?  Liberals very ostentatiously don’t give a shit if their policies actually help or not.  How’s gay marriage going, for instance?  Anyone bother to follow up on that?  Did that loving gay couple ever get those hospital visitation rights that we were told, in story after heart-wrenching story, was the whole reason for gay marriage in the first place?  As I’ve pointed out before, you’d think the Left would at least be doing some victory laps at this point — “haha silly wingnutz, you said the sky would fall if the gays got married, and look!”  But…. nope.  Obergefell might as well have happened in the 17th century, for all the Left cares about it now.  Ditto the Great Society, the War on Poverty, Head Start, and all the other great Liberal crusades of the past 50 years.  They very obviously did the opposite of what they were supposed to, but if Liberals bother to think about them at all — which they only do if you hold their feet to the fire — they just mutter “needs more funding” and change the subject.

Liberals believe, with all their hearts and souls, that they care more deeply than other men.  But they don’t.  Ditto with “fairness.”  Affirmative action is fair?  How about slavery reparations, i.e. punishing people in the here-and-now for something unrelated people did a century and a half ago.  Pick your major that ends in “Studies;” being unfair to entire classes of people is pretty much the entire point.  Here again, Liberals believe, with all their hearts and souls, that they’re all about fairness, but their actions are exactly opposite.

Loyalty.  Haidt says Liberals don’t care much about this.  In reality, it’s pretty much the only thing they care about.  “Argue” with a Liberal on the internet for five minutes, and you’ll have spent five minutes watching your interlocutor trying desperately to outgroup you.  “Point-and-shriek” is the whole of Liberal political discourse; they have no other.  Conservatives care about loyalty, yes, but only to groups in which they have a personal stake.  The Left is always going to the mattresses on behalf of some group they’ve never seen, over “injustices” that exist only in their minds.

What about authority?  This has been a Leftist chestnut since Adorno, but like I always say, you can’t spell “Liberal” without P-R-O-J-E-C-T-I-O-N.  Here are the traits of the “authoritarian personality” on Adorno’s famous F-Scale.  (F stands for “Fascist”).  Any of these sound familiar?

  • Conventionalism: Adherence to conventional values.
  • Authoritarian Submission: Towards ingroup authority figures.
  • Authoritarian Aggression: Against people who violate conventional values.
  • Anti-Intraception: Opposition to subjectivity and imagination.
  • Superstition and Stereotypy: Belief in individual fate; thinking in rigid categories.
  • Power and Toughness: Concerned with submission and domination; assertion of strength.
  • Destructiveness and Cynicism: hostility against human nature.
  • Projectivity: Perception of the world as dangerous; tendency to project unconscious impulses.
  • Sex: Overly concerned with modern sexual practices.

Admittedly I’m so reactionary I make Joseph de Maistre look like a Wymyn’s Studies professor, but that list looks like “How to be an SJW in 9 Easy Steps” to me.

Saving the best for last: Purity.  Remind me: Who is it that’s always passing new rules on what you can eat, watch, hear, say, and think?  I’m pretty sure that, weirdo status whores like Rod Dreher aside, elaborate ritual purity rules are entirely a Leftist thing.  Show of hands: When was the last time you threw, attended, or even heard about a backyard barbecue where someone had to make sure to get soy dogs and gluten-free veggieburgers?  The Left is so all-in on Brahminical purity that they take positive pride in never having read things they disagree with.  They know with metaphysical certainty, for instance, that the “Sad Puppies” are bad writers… and they know this, according to their own words, because they’ve never read the writers in question.

See what I mean?  If I had to adapt Haidt’s theory to the real world, I’d say something like “Liberal morality is based on endlessly congratulating oneself for believing one only cares about care and fairness, using the other three to prop up this entirely unwarranted self-regard.  Conservative morality, on the other hand, pays attention to all five equally.”

Either that, or I’d say “Left” and “Right” are all but meaningless these days…. but that’s a rant for another time.

 

 

*How’s this for an unintentionally revealing statement?  Wiki on Haidt: “Haidt himself acknowledges that while he has been a liberal all his life, he is now more open to other points of view.”  Well, better late than never, right?  Though one wishes it took less than earning a PhD, teaching several generations of students, and writing a big book of psychological theory to get liberals to finally open up to other points of view.

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Why I’m Not a Liberal, Part III

The law of non-contradiction.  I acknowledge it; liberals don’t.

Even back among the Greeks, clever folks noticed that language, truth, and logic don’t always match up.  We can’t talk meaningfully to each other using only symbols, but language is always open to confusion.  So you get things like the Sorites Paradox — how many hairs must one have, or lack, to be considered bald?  At some point, it seems, quantity becomes quality.

Most people who aren’t logicians don’t bother too much over stuff like this, but the implications are interesting.  “Bald” seems to have a definition, right?  But when you try to pin it down, you can’t do it.  Obviously “baldness is the possession of X number of hairs on the head” doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work as a percentage either (“baldness is having 35% less hair than the average man”), because “average” is circumstantial, too — I may have 35% less hair than the members of Motley Crue circa 1986, but 100% more hair than a class of Marine recruits.  You can’t make it work Aristotle-style either (“baldness is the un-actualized potential for having hair”) because again, alopecia etc. aside, how much un-actualized hair potential makes one bald, vs. merely a little short on top?

83% un-actualized hair potential

That’s what trips up even the logical positivists like Ayer (first link).  For a statement to be meaningful, he says, it has to be empirically verifiable.  But even so simple a statement as “Jean-Luc is bald” can’t be empirically verified without an empirically-verifiable definition of “bald.”  And so you have modern philosophers writing off almost the entire history of thought, and declaring the entire human race mad.  Not bad for a few hair follicles, eh?

If even so simple a statement as “Jean-Luc is bald” leads us to conclude that the whole human race is mad, it’s not looking good for the rest of Logic 101.  Remember that “law of non-contradiction” that this post is supposedly about?  Nothing seems more obvious than “one thing can’t be its opposite at the same time,” but does that hold?  Consider Captain Picard up there.  Let’s say he’s taking his Dimoxinil.  At some point he’ll no longer be bald, right?  Unless you can point out the precise moment — number of follicles, percentage of hair potential actualized, whatever — that “bald” becomes “not bald,” it seems that something can be both A and not-A at the same time.

That was Hegel’s great insight.  He called it “dialectic,” and by means of an untranslatable German word (“aufheben“), he proposed that what the universe is really doing is talking to itself.  It — the universe– is working out its seeming “contradictions” in a process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.  Jean-Luc’s baldness (thesis) is aufhebening his hair-havingness (antithesis) and, through the agency of Dimoxinil, is producing synthesis.

Grant that, and you’re halfway to Marxism.  Add “envy,” “anger,” and “eagerness to murder people who disagree with you” and you’re all the way there.  Which is why I don’t do it — A is A, not-A is not-A, and that’s just the way it is.

I hope we all can see the appeal of Hegelianism, though, from this little exercise.  Not only does “dialectic” give English-accented French starship captains their hair back, it’s tailor-made for the Liberal “debate” style.  As Morgan demonstrates here, when Liberals are caught in a contradiction, they don’t concede the point.  They can’t, because they are Smart and you are Dumb and, just as paper always beats rock, Smart always beats Dumb.  So they go back and try to redefine their premises, Marx-style:  “Straw man! I never said cause a huge explosion, I merely suggested using this cigarette lighter to see if the gas tank is empty.” “Straw man! I didn’t say kill the puppy, I just suggested throwing it off this cliff.”

You can’t prove Dimoxinil gave Captain Picard his hair back, because you can’t even define “bald!”  Therefore Big Pharma is evil and their profits should be taxed 100%.  Vote Hillary.  Denying the law of non-contradiction, then, is an almost limitless supply of virtue fixes.*

Almost always.  But there always comes a time when Reality rears its ugly head and you need the law of non-contradiction.  For instance, Liberals’ “_____ is just a social construction!” formula is the most common denial of the law of non-contradiction, and in the TERF war it has really come around to bite them in the ass.  A “male lesbian” is a contradiction in terms, you say?  Obviously you need a refresher course in dialectics, comrade.  Off to Siberia with you — say hi to the Alt-Right guys in the next barracks for me!

Not that this will ever bother them in the slightest.  They take their cues from the Master himself:

As to the Delhi affair [i.e. the 1857 Indian Mutiny], it seems to me that the English ought to begin their retreat as soon as the rainy season has set in in real earnest. Being obliged for the present to hold the fort for you as the Tribune’s military correspondent I have taken it upon myself to put this forward….It’s possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way.

But I’m lazy, so I prefer not to have to weasel out of stuff all the time (especially when it’s a product of my own shortsighted hubris).  The law of non-contradiction helps me avoid that, which is why I subscribe to it.  Which makes me a non-Liberal.

 

 

*The drug in question is DOPE-amine.  Get it?  [rimshot].

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Why I’m Not a Liberal, Part II

Because I’m non-binary.

No, I’m not a golden-skinned wingless dragonkin or anything like that.  I mean I can do what Aristotle said is the hallmark of an educated mind: I can entertain an idea without accepting it.  Our Betters, the Liberals, markedly lack this capacity.

It’s a top-down problem.  From the top: It’s shocking that folks who proclaim themselves science’s BFFs at every opportunity are so bad at inductive reasoning.  For instance, here’s a list of Nobel prize winners in the sciences (plus economics and the “peace” prize), sortable by country of origin and number of laureates per capita.  Fiddle with the tabs all you want; several things become immediately clear:

  • only one nonwhite-majority nation (Japan) has more than 10 total prizes.
  • of nations with 10 or more, only 2 — Japan and India — aren’t primarily Judeo-Christian.
  • the only non-majority white countries with 10 or more (India, South Africa, Japan) have gotten Western Imperialism good and long and hard.*

If you strip out the ludicrous “peace” prize — you know, the one that Barack Obama famously won before ever stepping foot in the Oval Office — it’s whiter than a polar bear eating a mayo sandwich on wonderbread in a blizzard.  Tiny Poland (population 38 million) has the same number of science prizes as China (pop. 1.4 billion).  From this, an inductive reasoner would conclude that there’s something about Whiteness and Christianity — or what we quaintly used to call “Western Civilization” — that is favorable to scientific discovery.

Liberals would just scream “rayciss!” and report you to the Thought Police.

Nor are Our Betters particularly good at deductive reasoning.  For proof, I give you the collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (50 vols.).  According to Marxists themselves, nothing could be more scientific than Marxism, which lays down the Universal Laws of History and deduces from them all kinds of things which must — not may, but must! — happen.  Pretty much every single prediction Marx ever made has been wrong.  This is why we now have “cultural Marxism,” Third Wave Feminism, Leninism, Maoism, and Postmodernism, to name just a few — Marx was wrong.  He was wrong in general, and he was wrong in detail, so much so that the deduction

if Karl Marx said X would happen, it didn’t

is all but universally true.

Liberals, of course, would scream that logic is rayciss, and report you to the Thought Police.

The reason Liberals are bad at both flavors of reasoning, of course, is that they’re binary thinkers.  Outside of the most rigorously formal logic — the kind that’s indistinguishable from math to non-STEM majors — reasoning works on supposition.  Suppose X is true; where does that lead?  For non-Liberals, this is an interesting thought experiment.  For Liberals, this is the first step on the slippery slope to heresy.  Suppositions are not Approved Thoughts, and only Approved Thoughts are proof against potentially heretical conclusions.

I’m not saying I’m the world’s greatest thinker — I barely scraped out a C- in Logic 101, as I recall — but the very notion of supposing something doesn’t slam my sphincter shut.  Hence, I’m not a Liberal.

But forget all that philosophy hooey.  In everyday life, too, Liberals are the most binary people on the planet.  You know how, according to the Left, Clarence Thomas isn’t “really” Black, Sarah Palin isn’t “really” a woman, and so on?  We tend to write that off as typical Liberal hyperventilating, but it’s not.  They really believe it.  Good little Marxoids that they are, their mental world only makes sense if everyone is ONE thing and ONE thing only, always and everywhere.  They’re functionally autistic: They see a woman (or, more properly, a Woman) and their programming kicks in — “oh, she’s a Woman; run Approved Thoughts subroutine XX.”  A pro-life woman, say, fries their circuits… ergo, the breasted, be-vaginaed, XX-chromosomed entity that says such heretical things is not really a woman.  Gender is just a social construction!!!

[This is why, BTW, Liberals have to turn e.g. Star Wars into SJWars.  Luke Skywalker is an archetype.  We hardly expect rich characterization of a stock character, and in the original trilogy Luke is little more than a farm kid with self-esteem issues, but even that is too nuanced for the Left.  Luke is male, you see, and you know what lurking potential thoughtcriminals those males are.  So of course the new trilogy has to put Girl Luke into the exact same plot, even if that plot doesn’t make sense for a girl — Luke’s grownup identity is shaped by his interaction with wise old Father Figure Obi Wan and cocky-but-dissolute Older Brother Han Solo.  Girl Luke will no doubt do the same sorts of things with a Mother Figure and an Older Sister, but as anyone who has actually been around a girl knows, girls don’t work that way.  So Girl Luke will do Guy Things and it won’t make a damn lick of sense, but everyone will look the right way, so it’ll be a good movie].

If I had to guess, this kind of thing is mostly genetic.  There seem to be two broad types of people in this world: Those who think this world is all we can know, and those who just know there’s another, better world out there that could be brought into this one… if only we could rip away the veil and see it.  It has always been thus; the “this is not the real world” thing is at least as old as Parmenides (late 6th century BCE).  Liberals believe they’re living in the Matrix — and, of course, subscribing to the SJW catechism makes them Neo.  Some of the rest of us put our faith in the next world, but know that we can only truly know this one… and not too much of that.

I’m comfortable with my own ignorance, which is why I’m willing to entertain — if only for the sake of argument — other views.  Our Betters, obviously, are not.

 

 

*You don’t think Japan’s deliberate, fanatic adoption of all things Western in the Meiji era counts as imperialism?  What about the postwar occupation?  That’s pretty much the definition of “cultural imperialism,” you rayciss.

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Why I Am Not a Liberal, Part I

In an effort to post more regularly, I’m putting up a series of short, slam-dunk posts.  These are probably boring, because I’m not a Liberal for the same reason y’all are: I notice stuff (Steve Sailer’s definition of Liberalism as “the war on noticing things” is the best one ever devised).  Still, for the record:

I’m not a Liberal, first and foremost, because I’m lazy.  This is the meta-reason, that encompasses all the other reasons.  It just takes too much damn effort to be a Liberal.

Not noticing stuff is hard.  I said somewhere that Third Wave feminism is so easy to disprove, a wymynist should be crippled by cognitive dissonance every time she goes to buy kitty litter.  With all that rage against the Patriarchy, and knowing (as she does!) that physical strength is just a social construction, she should easily be able to heft that giant econo-size bag off the bottom shelf…. but alas, she’s got to call the stockboy over to do it for her.

Pretty much all Liberalism is like that.  It makes a little bit of superficial sense when you first hear it — “you know, since girls grow up playing with Barbies, and Barbie never pumps iron, maybe Barbie makes girls weaker than boys?”  But then you think about it for a few seconds and realize how stupid it is.  Avoiding stupidity, I’m sure you’ll agree, is hard and getting harder.

And then there’s the time commitment.  I don’t mean the endless protests, awareness-raisings, re-tweetings, and all the other stuff Liberals seem to always have time for (not having a job helps, I imagine), although those are exhausting too.  I mean all those semesters in college (and, increasingly, in grad school) just to learn how to grok their special obfuscatory lingo.  The perversion of language is the bedrock of not noticing stuff.  Orwell usually gets the credit for saying that some ideas are so foolish only intellectuals could believe them, but everyone who has been in an American classroom, K-thru-PhD, has thought something like that at least once.  Such ideas are much easier to believe when you can’t even figure out what they are, but have to pretend you can in order to pass the class.

On top of that, you have to forget everything you already know.  American schools are pretty good at teaching nothing at great (and hideously expensive) length, but despite the teachers’ unions’ best efforts a few nuggets of knowledge get through.  It only takes a few historical facts, for instance, to completely disprove the Liberal worldview (biology only takes one: “Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina”).  I like a drink as much as the next guy (if the next guy is a raging alcoholic), but there’s not enough booze in the world to make me forget that the USSR used to be there, but now it’s not.

And then there’s the skull-cracking cognitive dissonance.  Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft said “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents,” and he’s right — since all the things we’re required to believe these days contradict each other, correlating your mind’s contents is migraine-inducing.  I imagine the Liberal “thought” process runs like that old “Frogger” arcade game — you’ve got to hop from dogma to dogma, dodging the cars of fact and reason that come rushing at you at ever-increasing speed.  That shit’s exhausting; much easier to not believe in the first place.

Finally, there’s the smirk.  I hate working out, because I’m lazy, and do you know how much effort it takes to smug your face up Jon Stewart-style?  I can hold that pose for maybe ten seconds at a stretch.  Your more advanced Liberals, like Rachel Maddow, have their faces frozen that way.  Their jaw muscles never relax, even when they aren’t flapping their gums (another reason I’m not a Liberal: I’m too lazy to talk that damn much).

Which, if you think about it, is why the Left always wins.  They just flat out have more energy than the rest of us.  They have to — I’m exhausted just typing this shit; they live it.

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What Comes After Science?

Karl Marx’s greatest trick was gussying up his bargain-bin, Hegel-lite, junk philosophy as “science.”  With the stroke of a pen, grave character defects were transformed into high virtues — envy and hatred were now just a dispassionate analysis of the dialectical materialist Forces of History, and ever since, Leftists have claimed that their every opinion is a scientific fact.  They’re not just spouting whatever bullshit will let them get their momentary virtue fix; they’re telling it like it is.

The problem is, of course, science doesn’t work like that… and not even liberals can deny it anymore.  So what comes next?  They’re not going to give up self-congratulation — that smugly superior smirk is the only thing holding their faces together.  They’ll have to find some new way to be comprehensively Better Than Us.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.  They can’t, for example, turn back the clock to the 18th century and go all Romantic on us.  That whole Sorrows of Young Werther bit might seem to fit the bill, but remember: The Left have used the cover of science to impose their preferences on us. Liberal jurisprudence — just to take one of the more important examples — depends entirely on the notion that Lefty’s whims du jour are objectively true.  The landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, for instance, overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine, not on Constitutional grounds — Plessy v. Ferguson was pretty tightly argued — but because segregation hurt Black kids’ self-esteeeeeeeem.  I wish I were kidding.  (Brown v. Board was decided in 1954, lest you think this “self-esteem” junk is new).

So what’s next?  We’ve been instructed by all the institutions that matter — courts, media, academia — for over a century that science demands this, the evidence demands that, you’re a bitter troglodyte science-hating fundie if you don’t support the other thing.  Pretty soon — the over/under is July 2019 — we’re going to be told by all the institutions that matter that science itself is irreparably rayciss, sexiss, etc. (this is already happening, of course; it just hasn’t hit critical mass yet).  What’s going to be the new thing we’re supposed to bow down to?

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Why Only Seven Readers? – UPDATED

New reader Frip asked

I notice you’ve been posting since 2012. Yet you’ve only got a handful of commenters. I hope you’re more popular than an audience of 7. If not, can you explain why? Or link me to a post where you discuss it?

I took a stab at an answer back there.  Since I’ve been thinking a lot about New New Media lately, though, I thought I’d give it a more thorough try here.  What does it take to be a big blogger these days (“big” being “enough to make a living at it, if so inclined”)?

I assume that we have seven (at one point it was nine!) readers, first and foremost, because of the free market.  Speaking only for myself (Morgan doesn’t post much here anymore, because his own site probably verges on “big” as we’ve defined it), I just don’t bring that much to the table.  This isn’t false modesty — I rite good and have a few things to say, but those aren’t rare commodities.  They seemed to be back in the internet’s Wild West days, when we were all on AOL dial-up, but they’re not.  As a zillion wannabe-Bill Simmonses found out in the mid-90s, only the trailblazers cash in doing what lots of people can do.  Lots of people can snark and over-share and generally carry on like 16 year old girls trapped in 40 year old men’s bodies when it comes to sports… and politics works that way too.

To make a go of it now, one must really stand out.  Short of coming up with a whole new way to look at things, the only way to stand out now is to have a shtick…. and that, too, is a free market failing of mine, because most of the shticks that work completely baffle me.  Vox Day, for instance, has his “I am the greatest genius in human history” act.  He also rites good and has things to say, but it’s the “I am an IQ god!” routine that put him over the top, and has helped him build a really robust cult of personality.  I read his site, and I’ve learned a lot from him, but one of the main things I’ve learned is: I suck at trend-spotting.  I stumbled onto his site; had someone described it to me, I would’ve sworn a blood oath to stay as far away as possible.  He has sixty zillion readers; we have seven.

But even assuming I had a winning shtick handed to me I still couldn’t do it, because I’m lazy.  Forget coming up with shtick-compatible content; the sheer grind of shtick maintenance would keep me from doing it.  Milo had (has? is he still around?) a great shtick that anyone could pull off: The Gay Conservative.  It’s such a winner that it has worked twice, which is unheard of (the Original Gay Conservative, of course, was Andrew Sullivan).  But being gay is impossible for a lazy man, because it’s 24/7 — every homosexual of my acquaintance (and please remember that I spent long years in academia) can’t have a cup of coffee without wondering if this venti soy frappuccino is queer enough to be seen drinking.  (And yes, for the record, I’m aware I just suggested I’m only straight thanks to my Harper Lee-esque work ethic).

These all combine into a perfect storm of mediocrity.  Even assuming I had the goods to compete if I had a shtick (doubtful, but let’s stipulate), I don’t have the drive.  Stacy McCain has a guide to how to get a million hits on your blog.  Read it, and you’ll notice two things: 1) it’s a lot like this article, but much better, and 2) it’s exhausting.  Seriously, I get exhausted just reading that shit, and it was written before social media really took off.  Just tweeting, facebooking, and on-other-blogs-commenting is probably a 40 hour a week gig for established big leaguers (Ace of Spades reportedly spends up to 6 hours a day getting into Twitter slap fights with just Jake Tapper); it’s probably intern year-level time consuming for a wannabe.

The main thing driving blog fame, then, seems to be the main thing that drives all other kinds of fame: The sheer, grind-it-out, whatever-it-takes, leather-assed (and cast-iron-bladdered) drive to be famous.  You’ve got to have enough ego in the game to not only play the game, but make “playing the game” your only compensation.  Just as many doctors really make about $6.50 an hour when you divide their yearly salary by all the time they spend doing paperwork, so bloggers, even the relatively well-compensated ones, must make well below minimum wage….

…. and at that point it’s a chicken-and-egg problem.  The #1 characteristic of famous people, both online and IRL, is that they’re built in such a way that “becoming famous” seems like the only logical career move.  The only way you can survive 15 years waiting tables in Hollywood, starving in a garret in Paris, playing 10 years in the Minors, etc. is by being built to survive it.  That’s why one of the most tragic things you’ll ever see is someone who thinks he wants to be famous, gets there, and finds out he’s not cut out for it, because the same personal constitution that lets you get famous is the only thing that lets you stay famous.

(this, from the 2.6 seconds of reading I’ve done on it, seems to be Jordan Peterson’s problem).

UPDATE 5/10/18:  In case my bantering, tongue-in-cheek tone didn’t quite convey it, I’m not actually interested in why Rotten Chestnuts in general, or my part of it in particular, isn’t more popular.

Some are born with big blog audiences, some achieve big blog audiences, and some have big blog audiences thrust upon them.  1) and 3) are psychologically interesting, but unless they’re unusually frank about how this is going for them (e.g. Jordan Peterson, at least in the 2.3 seconds I spent reading up on him), we probably can’t infer too many general rules from their experience.  2) is interesting, and worth looking at, as it can tell us some things about the direction and velocity of the culture.  But just because something is interesting to someone doesn’t mean he wants to be that something — I find Leftists fascinating, obviously, but I sure as hell would never want to be one.

For the record, here are the main reasons I don’t want to be blog-famous:

First, I’m lazy.  Like, lion-on-the-veldt-in-high-summer-level lazy — I only move when I have to.  The main component of blog fame seems to be the same main component as every other kind of fame: the sheer iron-bladdered, leather-assed willingness to do what it takes to be famous.  I’m not wired that way, and I never have been.  In college, for instance, I had an opportunity to do some sportswriting for the local rag.  I jumped at the chance, thinking hey, I love sports, I know a lot about them, and I rite good….

And then I realized what it entailed.  You mean I have to have an opinion — on deadline — on, like, everything?  I don’t care why this NFL guy can’t stay healthy (too many steroids), why that MLB guy isn’t hitting as many home runs (not enough steroids), or why nobody cares about the WNBA (wrong kind of steroids).  I just want to watch the games, and comment on whatever aspect of them — if any! — happens to strike my fancy at the time.  Substitute “politics” for “sportswriting” and that’s what I do now.  The other way is you know, a job.  I already have a job; I’m way too lazy to do another.

Second, I spent a lot of years in and around the Ed Biz.  Every class you teach comes with a built-in amen chorus.  It’s easy to think you’re the greatest professor in the world when everyone tells you what you want to hear all the time.  Wow, these students are really getting it!  Alas, what they’re really getting is a copy of your old exam from their sorority sisters.  Make ’em fill out a Social Justice Mad Lib for the final exam (and this is 100% of a modern “liberal arts” education), and it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re changing the world.  This is why it baffles me that people are baffled by Jordan Peterson: If everyone you meet expects you to be some kind of guru, you start acting like you’re some kind of guru.  I am not a guru, and have no desire to be a guru, and if people started treating me like one (which, if you teach long enough, will happen at least once to all but the dullest educator), I’d be forced to spend almost all of my time de-guru-fying myself.  And see above — I’m waaaay too fucking lazy for that.

Finally, there are the weirdos.  In real life, even D-list never-weres get their psycho stalkers, and since the Internet is much, much crazier than real life, cyber-stalkers are 100 times worse.  Look at what happened to poor Jeff Goldstein.  Unless you’re the type of guy who actually enjoys beating down trolls, it’s just not worth it.  If the 9th reader (or whatever we’re up to now) turns out to be a lunatic, I’ll ban him with a clean conscience.  If we were bigger, I’d have to worry about “echo chambers” etc.

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#GuerrillaNews – a How-To Guide

The more I think about it, the whole idea of #GuerrillaNews is a hoot.  I’ve been thinking about how one might do it, if one were to do it.  Obviously I don’t advocate any of this; this is strictly a hypothetical, theoretical, alternative-history work of fiction type scenario.  But in that alternate goateed Spock universe (warning, this will be extremely rambly and stream-of-consciousness):

Pre-reqs:  You’d have to have someone with a well-established online presence and following to get it off the ground.  I imagine the former “Manosphere” would be good with this — someone like Roosh V. over at Return of Kings could maybe pull it off.  You’d have to bill it as both “real news” and “sticking it to The Man, wherever he’s found.”  You don’t want it degenerating — as it almost invariably would without a well established whip hand — into micro-blogs about whatever grinds my gears in Omaha (or wherever the correspondent lives).  Each #GuerrillaCell would have to pre-screen for journalistic standards — real ones, not the ideological litmus test you have to pass to write for the Lamestream Media.  So: Got a gripe about the Omaha city council?  Get the facts, Jack, and put them out there… but stick to the facts.

Scope: Since it’s all local — and since one of the major points of the exercise is to prove just how fucking easy “journalism” is — you’d want at least some of the content to look like a “real” newspaper.  Not “8 inches of snow expected by Saturday,” of course, but stuff like “New Zoning Ordinance for the Southwest Side.”  The #Guerrilla version of this would look similar to the lamestream version for the first paragraph or two — who, what, when, and where.  Since lamestream journalism is mostly stenography anyway, our reporter would just copy the same stuff from the city’s press release as the “professional.”

The #Guerrilla spin, though, is where it gets fun.  Why did the city council re-zone the southwest side?  I don’t know how this would look on the screen (or, obviously, have the website design chops to pull it off), but I’m thinking it would be cool to have stories like this with layers.  There’s the straight news report, but then there’s another section where readers can follow the #Guerrilla investigation, blog style.  Maybe the southwest side got rezoned for better water-table management, as outlined in EPA directive 22.2.4(c).  If so, bang on that —  how the fuck do the Feds know how best to manage water quality in Omaha!  But maybe there’s a big development deal in the works — they’re breaking ground for a new Arby’s on the southwest side, and city councilman X, who ramrodded the deal through committee, has recently been seen in the company of delicious roast beef sandwiches.  Let wild accusations fly in the comments, and, most importantly, turn the commenters loose!  A commenter who goes out there and helps discover the truth is, himself, a #GuerrillaNewsman and — this is the genius part that will soon make #GuerrillaNews a household name — he’s now got a standing invite to write for the local #GuerrillaCell.

Setup:  A three-tier system, let’s call them “stringers” and “columnists” and “editors” just to keep with the MSM terminology.  Since most researchers aren’t good writers, the guy who knows all about the goings-on at the new Arby’s on the southwest side probably can’t turn what he knows into a punchy news article.  So he sends all his info, complete with sources, to the local #GuerrillaCell (he does this under a pen name, of course) — like a post to a BBS in the early wild west days of the internet. From there, the columnist — who is a good writer — licks the story into shape.  (Finding good writers shouldn’t be a problem, as there are a whole bunch of dissidents out there who write good.  Right now he might just do a little blog about the Omaha cosplay scene, but in his heart he’s a #Guerrilla – ask him to put the stringer info into a punchy news story and boom, you’ve got another soldier in the war against The Man).  Then the editor, who in practice will probably most often be more or less the webmaster, will put it up and promote it.  If, however, it looks like it needs an in-depth followup — “roast-beef bribery on the southwest side?” — he can set the process in motion to live-blog the investigation.

Keep the whole thing transparent.  Keep a tab on the website that links directly to the “raw news” feed.  Our intrepid wannabe #GuerrillaJournalist, the Southwest Side Phantom, has posted several items about zoning changes in his ‘hood, and the new Arby’s getting ready to start construction.  Click over to the raw feed and see how many items he’s posted!  Let the readers themselves nudge the editors — hey, shouldn’t this be a story?

Once the story is up, the upvote/downvote system kicks in.  Each story should have three “bylines” — one for the stringer (with links to his “raw feed” profile so people can see the amount and quality of stuff he’s putting up), one for the columnist, one for the editor.  Encourage voting, but make sure the readers vote on the basis of “quality reportage,” not “I think an Arby’s on the southwest side would be great!” (a similar upvote/downvote in the comments should probably take care of this).  Is this a good story?  Well presented?  Does it stick it to The Man?  Was it well promoted, or did the editor drop the ball?  Make the feedback as robust as possible.

Direct Action.  This is the most “guerrilla” part of #GuerrillaNews.  Let’s say we have pretty good evidence that Councilman X, of southwest side Arby’s infamy, is doing some shady shit.  Or, at least, reason to suspect this.  Turn the guerrillas loose on him.  I DO NOT mean anything illegal, or even close to illegal, or even legal-but-annoying harassment like picketing his office.  I mean just… investigate.  How much does he make as a city councilman?  How many people work in his office, and what are they paid?  What perks come with the office, and how much do they cost?  Does he get a health plan?  A pension?  Does he have a whole bunch of interns working for him?  What did he do before he was on the city council?  How much did that make?  What’s his day-to-day schedule look like? (i.e. what does an Omaha city councilman actually do all day, for that nice salary and perks?)  ALL of this info is public domain.  It’s all above-board and perfectly legal to get.

Bring this stuff into the sunlight.  Most American politicians get worried they’ll get caught cheating on their wives, or that their opponent will find out about that DUI arrest from 20 years ago.  But what they should be afraid of is: The citizens finding out just what a racket local politics really is.  You’re seriously telling me that Joe Schmoe, who used to sell life insurance, is now making $400,000 a year as a city councilman?  And he’s got mega health insurance, a company car, four secretaries (at $75K per), and spends the 2.5 hours a day he’s actually in his office meeting with executives from Arby’s Inc.?

The lamestream newspaper isn’t going to tell you any of this, because a) “reporters” are all starfuckers and b) “reporters” all think government is great, and that anyone who gets himself elected to something (as a Democrat, anyway) is automatically a paragon of virtue.  #GuerrillaJournalists, on the other hand, are not starfuckers.  We think politicians are the enemy, and rule number one is “know your enemy.”  We can’t be bought, because we don’t get paid, and if you do manage to corrupt one of us, there are seventeen others who will not only take his place, but will directly call him out on it on the #GuerrillaNews message boards.

Direct Action against the Media.  Since lots of the #GuerrillaNews mission is to expose just what a sham “journalism” is, lots of our coverage should focus on the media.  #GuerrillaDC, for instance, would be a goldmine for covering reporters.  You’d have to be a bit more careful here in order to avoid restraining orders etc., but — what are the White House pool reporters up to?  So-and-So is married to a lobbyist and his dad is a Democratic party fundraiser.  Yeah, real “””objective,””” CNN guy, no possible bias there.  This would work even better for foreign coverage.  When (if) Trump goes to Korea for the big sit-down with Kim, it’d be a hoot to turn #GuerrillaSeoul loose.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?  Well, this here’s a picture of the conference hall… and this here is a picture of the hotel where all the “real” journalists are staying.  Notice that it’s miles from the action and the rooms start at US $400 a night.  Oh, and here’s a picture of the hotel bar.  Is that Wolf Blitzer sitting in front of that line of tequila shots, while history is being made across town?

Pay: This will be a bit of a problem, as “editor,” at least, will take at least a few hours a day.  But I’m willing to bet lots of folks are willing to do the bulk of the work for free, just to put their thumb in the eye of the overclass.  However, for inevitable expenses and whatnot, well, how do those online gambling sites do it?  Don’t they incorporate in Jamaica or something?  This is also where the “established internet presence” who’s getting the whole thing off the ground comes in.  Someone’s name has to be on the paperwork and handle the (minimal) cash; find someone who has already taken on this kind of thing.  But it should be 99% crowdsourced.

TOR browser: For everything else, total anonymity.  Bandwidth is cheap, so back up everything every night and be ready to move at a moment’s notice if they shut the server down (in fact, host everything overseas if possible.  Is the Swiss internet like Swiss banks?).  Be prepared to destroy all IP logs at a moment’s notice, and make sure all stringers post their stuff only via TOR browser.  No records!!

All of this is, again, entirely hypothetical.  Fictional, even.  Pretty good story though, eh?  What do you think, fellow literary critics?

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#GuerrillaNews, the Official Newsletter of the Sons of Valley Forge

Quick addendum to the previous.  Old Media people claim Old Media is still necessary because “the news” costs so much to produce:

unbeknownst to you, your subscription dollars often didn’t even cover the cost of printing and delivering the physical pieces of paper. They rarely covered much, if any, of the cost of actually reporting and writing the stories printed on those pages. And you’d probably be astonished at how expensive it is to report a single, relatively simple story.

Horse pucky.  The reason it’s so expensive for the Washington Post to do a story about what Trump’s Press Secretary said in her daily briefing is because the WaPo is paying some hairsprayed bobblehead $300,000 per year to sit in the briefing room and ask the exact same stupid fucking question over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.  I can “report” that exact same story, with the exact same level of detail and accuracy — and with far less bias! — for the nice round sum of $0, because I can watch that $300K bobblehead ask his one stupid fucking question over and over and over and over and over again on CNN.

Yes, I know, CNN is Old Media too, but you can take this to the bank: CNN is never going out of business.  It’s too important to the political class’s ego to see themselves on the news, getting quoted as authoritative sources.  Why do you think the press corpse [sic] are the only people in America who love Obamacare?  It’s a tax, baby!  You can be compelled by the government to purchase an optional service.  Guess what your cable subscription is going to be in a few years?  If you said “a tax,” come on down!  You’re a winner, and that’s why #GuerrillaNews can use CNN to keep costs down until the sun’s a cinder.

Nor do you need “loafers on the ground” in the world’s war zones.  We don’t know what’s really going on in Syria because all the “reporters” there stay in the only five-star hotel in Damascus (which, Bashar Assad not being an idiot, is entirely funded by Syrian military intelligence) and “report” the daily briefings of NATO people, which, of course, are all lies.  Not only that, no “reporter” currently working is able to tell a MiG-29 from a Mazda Miata.  I can, again, “report” that exact same story, with the exact same level of detail and accuracy — and with far less bias! — for the nice round sum of $0.

Why is nobody doing this?

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In the Kingdom of the Blind

All the infighting among the wannabe big dogs in Our Thing makes me think about Bill Simmons.

If you weren’t a sports fan back in the early days of Web 2.0, you may never have heard him, as it seems he’s mostly a producer now.  But back in the mid-90s he made a name for himself as “the Boston Sports Guy.”  At that time, sports reporting was mostly still done on newsprint, by crusty old hacks who once saw Ted Williams play and never got over it.  Simmons made sports coverage immediate.  He pioneered the snarky, whiny, pop culture-heavy, hot takes / muh feelings! style that’s one of the Millennial generation’s most charming traits.  (To give you an idea of how ahead of his time Simmons was with this, he’s older than me… and I’m well into middle age).  He parlayed this into enormous success, writing for The Jimmy Kimmel Show before going on to sign lucrative production deals with ESPN and HBO.

The problem is, his path to success isn’t replicable, or even sustainable.  Simmons’s debut as a tv host, the HBO series Any Given Wednesday, was reputedly a $20 million, three-year deal.  It got cancelled after five months.  The problem, as the mostly brutal reviews noted, is that “snarkmeister” is not a rare skillset these days.  Snark is, indeed, the Millennials’ default mode of expression, so why are you paying some waaaay over-the-hill dude Clinton Foundation-level money to do it with his equally waaay over-the-hill actor pals like (presumably drunk) Ben Affleck?  Simmons made it look easy back in 1994, but only because it is, actually, really fucking easy.  See, watch: “LeBron James’s jump shot is like having sex with Charlize Theron — it’s not always available, and it costs way too damn much, but something something she’s old now anyway.”  (What, you want me to fill in the “something something”?  That’s why my blog posts are free and Simmons got $20 million.  See what I mean?).

Such is the fate of any New Media trend surfer.  Since we’re stewing in it, it’s easy to forget just how new social media really is.  Facebook was founded in 2004; Twitter in 2006.  These are about the only platforms on which personalities (as opposed to bikini models and other flavors of camwhore) can exist, and they’ve barely been around a decade.  Most kids currently in high school grew up in a social media-less world.  We’re still ironing out the kinks.

So who will survive?  Pioneers that got smart, like Simmons, dialed down their cults of personality and made nicey-nice with as many Old Media people as would return their phone calls.  But now that Old Media is dying, too, the lifestyle gurus who haven’t yet snagged book deals and permanent guest panelist spots on the last of the dinosaur yak shows are going to go hungry.  As it happens, the ability to churn out engaging prose on command — to provide readable “hot takes” — is about as rare as the ability to snark about sports…

…. which, I think, mostly explains the infighting in Our Thing.  It’s a turf war.  Jordan Peterson is a smart guy.  He hit the lotto on YouTube, and he surely knows it, so he’s trying to parlay that, Simmons-style, into a permanent Old Media gig.  Some of the other big names make a big production about eschewing the Old Media, but are — if you study their business models for five seconds — entirely parasitic on it (they’re trying to build new platforms within the old paradigm).  Whether that will work out any better than Peterson’s strategy remains to be seen, but right now they’re all fighting over what amounts to market share.

What does it actually take to report the news?  What does it take to build an online following?  Are those mutually exclusive skillsets?  Based on my years in academia, I think they almost are — good researchers are usually terrible writers and vice versa.  BUT: There are enough people who are good at both to fill an entirely new media market.  It may seem like the biggest news in the world right now, but ultimately it’s tempest-in-a-teapot stuff.  If I were an entrepreneurial alt-righter, I’d start looking into what it takes to build “guerrilla news.”  Find some researchers, team them up with some writers, make the whole thing online — it costs nothing to send data globally now — and market the whole thing as exactly that: GUERRILLA news.  Make it subscriber-only, and make subscribing an act of political defiance.  #WeAreTheRealResistance or something.

Just be sure to keep it faceless (the guerrilla aesthetic is key), both for security reasons and, most importantly, to keep the old New Media parasites from anointing themselves your leaders (if you want to interview Peterson, for example, make him wear a hood and transport him to a secret location, like a terrorist video from the 1970s).  Watch how Simmons did it, but for pete’s sake don’t try to be Simmons.  Or Peterson.  Or Milo.  Or anyone else.  In the kingdom of the blind, the guy who knows braille is king.

 

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Are Our Leaders RUSSIAN BOTS?

As we know, SJWs always project.  As we also know, SJWs have spent every waking moment since the wee hours of November 9, 2016, finding RUSSIAN BOTS lurking everywhere (even Kanye West is now on the Kremlin’s payroll).  Therefore, by one of those logic thingies (modus ponens, I think), SJWs are all RUSSIAN BOTS.

The more I think about our Elite’s behavior, the more this makes sense.  See, for instance, this Z Man piece and the illuminating comments underneath.  Looking at their behavior, one begins to wonder if our Ruling Class isn’t actually, technically, clinically insane, probably as a result of inbreeding.  If you’ve ever been around them for any length of time — on an Ivy League campus, say — you know they’re very seriously off, in ways that are hard to define, but unmistakable.

This is where the Russian part comes in.  All aristocracies get weird, but the further out on the fringes of civilization the aristocracy is, and the more power it wields, the weirder it gets, to the point where weirdness almost seems to become a virtue for them.  At the height of their empire, for instance, the Russian aristocracy communicated entirely in French.  Think about that for a second.  They’d almost rather be caught dead than caught speaking the language of the country they ruled.

And then there’s the sadism.  Read Turgenev’s famous short story “Mumu.”  Actually, don’t — do what I did and read about it; even the summary is so heartbreaking that I can’t bear to actually read it.  Even with all allowances for poetic license, one can’t study Russian culture or history for five minutes without remarking on the very strong sadistic streak in the national character.  Indeed, Russians seem to admire their greatest rulers — Peter, Catherine — in no small part because of their legendary cruelty.  Torturing dissidents is a feature, not a bug, of their system; Dzerzhinsky et al were merely refining a centuries-old tradition.

So: Why do our elites do what they do?  What could they possibly be getting out of this?  They’re not stupid, our overclass — they know exactly what they’re doing.  The question is, why?  George Orwell, whose writings baffled Soviet dissidents — how could a man who had never been there describe life under Stalin so perfectly? — suggested an answer:

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

Our Elites are RUSSIAN BOTS.  It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

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