Monthly Archives: November 2020

Bespoke Posts [UPDATED]

Since I’m using That Other Site to explore my main preoccupation these days, the appeal of Rotten Chestnuts, like that of Spinal Tap, is necessarily getting more selective (the appeal of The Other Site seems to be capped at about 40 readers, which is somehow twenty more than here, but selective nonetheless).

Which is an opportunity for more bespoke posting over here. So: what do y’all want to see more of?

UPDATE: I should’ve done a better job advertising the Other Site. I was leery of doing that, given how the last attempt at a spinoff went. But there seems to be an audience for speculation about our brave new rat utopia, so the site can be found here.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for a lot, even now. Especially now. Be thankful that we had it at all, let alone for as long as we did.

As always, I’m thankful for y’all. I still have no idea why you come here, but I’m glad you do. Enjoy today. If nothing else, do it just to spite them – they hate joy, and the joy of a happy family being happy together reminds them of all the things they can never have.

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I Was Wrong

About the “Fuck Off” t-shirts from our previous discussion. I’m thinking of getting a few of those printed up myself.

You see, this morning I realized: I’m starting to enjoy the death glares, the snide little “nice mask!” mutters I get when I walk around a store without the mandatory Karen Kloth. You don’t like it? Call the cops. Call the store manager, and get me thrown out. Or try to put one on me with your own two hands, and watch what happens.

However it goes, it’s time to step up or shut up, you fucking sheep.

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The Plague We Deserve (UPDATED)

This morning in the gym, I saw a guy wearing a shirt with a slogan in beautiful copperplate script.  It said: Fuck off.

At first I thought it might be a punk band shirt or something — not excusable by any means, but at least understandable, I suppose. But no. That was the whole of the message: Fuck off.

Since nobody gets custom shirts screen-printed, what must’ve happened was, someone out there sensed a market for a shirt saying “fuck off.” He ordered up a bunch of them, advertised them, and this guy bought one. Which means he either specifically went looking for a shirt that says “fuck off,” or he hangs out on the kinds of websites where a person selling a t-shirt reading “fuck off” would trawl for potential customers.

Ladies and gentlemen, Current Year America!!

Days like today, I wish the Kung Flu really was the extinction-level event the Branch Covidians make it out to be. That’s the plague we deserve.

UPDATE: An interesting divide in the comments. I can guess your decade of birth by your response.

Born before 1960, you can’t imagine anyone wearing such a shirt. You can do it *intellectually*, but you’ll never really believe it happened.

Born after 1990, you don’t really see what the big deal is. Sure, It’s crass, but welcome to the 21st century, Grandpa.

Born to Gen X, though, and you can believe it happened… but only because you believe the guy must’ve been looking for a fight. We’ve discussed Fight Club here. The reason it worked at the time was, even if you were the soulless yuppie Ed Norton type, you knew that out in the sticks there were places to go if you wanted to have a fight… and lots of people did. I never indulged myself, but even I knew of a dive bar where you could walk in wearing your preppie college boy stuff if you wanted to… and someone was guaranteed to say something about it, and you could then invite him outside. It was something of a right of passage for guys in certain frats, even in my day (early 1990s). You can probably ask Pickle Rick to confirm this, but I heard that frat dudes from San Diego State and Marines from Camp Pendleton pretty regularly got into it on Friday nights, again as a rite of passage, not that long ago.

For us, in other words, a “Fuck off” t shirt can only mean that the wearer is looking to start a fight.

For the Millennials, though (I doubt this guy was even 30), it’s just part of that general “make yourself as obnoxious as possible all the time” thing that they do.


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This Post Was Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience

I’ve long said that even the crappiest “____ Studies” fields in academia could have real value, if they concerned themselves with actual human behavior. There is a robust and important discipline to be carved out of “African-American Studies,” for example — one exploring the causes and consequences of a culture that defines itself entirely against “acting White.” The Victorian anthropologists would’ve had a field day with that one…

So, too, with things like “Media Studies.” Remember back in the 70s and 80s, when it was a point of pride for a show to be filmed “in front of a live studio audience”?

What on earth was that for? What function did it serve? Figure that out, and you’ll have some real insight into the period.


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Political Theory Site?

Who’d be up for a site dedicated to political theory stuff?

RC would remain active, but we have a certain… lack of focus… around here, to go with the signature style. I’m thinking there should be a place to discuss foundations, without the fart jokes and spastic tossed-off bullshit. (All of which is totally my fault, but since some of y’all apparently come here for that kind of thing… plus I enjoy it). All that stuff stays here.

No registration, and comment moderation as close to zero as possible, but with a strict three-strikes tard banishment policy.

What say you?

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The Longue Durée

The Frogs, even the 20th century ones, weren’t completely useless. The longue durée approach to history, for instance, has the potential to reconcile us to these troubling times.

It gives priority to long-term historical structures over what François Simiand called histoire événementielle (“evental history”, the short-term time-scale that is the domain of the chronicler and the journalist), concentrating instead on all-but-permanent or slowly evolving structures, and substitutes for elite biographies the broader syntheses of prosopography. The crux of the idea is to examine extended periods of time and draw conclusions from historical trends and patterns.

(In case you don’t feel like clicking on the link, “prosopography” is the study of family trees and suchlike).

In the long run, of course, we’re all dead, but looking at the long run can help us make sense of this particular shitty point in history, in which so many good things are ending.

So much of long-run history is simply the story of people as people — that is, as organisms. As everyone on this side of the fence knows, evolution is copious, local, and recent. We’re currently inhabiting something like the crisis of the third century. The third century crisis had lots of origins, not all of them of human manufacture, but surely a large part of it was, quite simply, third-century people. The Romans who so comprehensively fucked up the Empire were not the same kind of biological organism as the Romans who carved out the Empire in the first place.

Luxury is fatal to civilization. (Not original to me, of course — Sallust said the same thing, about this exact topic). The hard men of the Late Republic would’ve been corrupted by the Late Empire… but they would’ve survived, maybe even thrived, if they’d fallen into a time machine and were warped a few hundred years forward. The girly men of the Late Empire would’ve wilted and died had they fallen into the time machine and been sent a few hundred years backward.

There were still a few hard men in the Late Empire, of course, but they did what our hard men should and will do — they looked after their own. As a historian, if I’m honest with myself and my discipline, I can’t even really blame our Pozzed idiots for being Pozzed, and more than I can blame Dalmatian dogs for being dumb and unhealthy. They’ve had it bred into them; they can do no other.

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Quick Thoughts

Stay or Go? I’ve pretty much made my final pitch to my Sis and her family. I acknowledge that there’s no escaping the Poz. The rest of the world is more Pozzed than the best parts of America, but nobody’s more Pozzed than the worst parts. It’s all about making hard choices, after an honest evaluation of where the vectors point.

To me, it’s simple: We’re living in South Africa. We’ve just voted to dismantle apartheid. You know what’s coming. Indeed, you know that what’s coming here is just the leading edge of what’s coming everywhere, soon enough. Nobody is hiding anything. It’s all out in the open. The only people who don’t see, are trying with all their might, 24/7, to not see.

So… stay or go? If you have young kids, GO. If Granny won’t or can’t move, well…. there’s no way to say this without sounding like a heartless bastard, but one of a man’s more unpleasant duties is to be a heartless bastard when the situation requires it, and this one does, so: You’ve had your time, Granny. You did the best you could, and not the least of your accomplishments is, you’ve raised some kids where GO is now an option. That can’t be said for lots of people. Given that, we’ll come visit when we can, and the door is always open… but this fucking place is going to be Beyond Thunderdome within 10 years. Everyplace on Earth is Pozzed… but not every place is full of literally nuclear-armed Orcs with powerful enemies, who the rest of the world would love to see triumph just because.

That said…

Anyone ever seen The Mosquito Coast?

Nerrrds!!! I admit I was badly wrong about the Branch Covidians. I thought the medical people, at least, would come to their senses… but they’re among the worst offenders. Alas, I was thinking about STEM as a discipline, and not the kind of people who go into STEM. They’re all nerds, and nerds are as conformist as they can possibly be. COVID is their chance to be in with the in crowd, and they’re milking it for all it’s worth. This shit will never end.

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Communal Salvation

The two basic drivers of social change are fear of death and caloric surplus. They exist, as Marxists would say if they cared about actual human behavior, dialectically — the fear of death prompts a frantic search for caloric surplus; once attained, caloric surplus makes the once-adaptive fear of death neurotic and dysfunctional, literally morbid.

This is why the behavior of the historically very small populations who managed to attain caloric surplus was so spectacularly weird. Consider this:

Feel free to google up more, but I’ll rest my case there. Indeed, you could go so far as to say that the story of culture — not civilization, culture — is the ongoing attempt to integrate the ever-increasing fraction with caloric surplus into the existing expressions. Hieroglyphic becomes hieratic becomes demotic.

At some point, the fraction-with-surplus achieves critical mass, and the culture shifts. Veda becomes vedanta — a warrior religion for the few who could win their surplus with the sword becomes a highly ritualized cult system for the masses, with a highly developed intellectual apparatus (which is a jobs program for the sons-of-surplus who can’t fight). Gods are anthropomorphized, until the fraction-in-surplus grows sufficiently large that the god — singular in this case — is literally a man.


See also: Greek and Roman demigods, the Cult of the Divine Augustus, etc.

One thing never changes, though: Salvation is only open to members of the collective. Yes, Christianity too, despite what Paul said, as a moment’s glance at actual practice will confirm. The whole point of the religious apparatus is to police the edges of the community.

This need for policing becomes acute when, as now, the fraction-in-surplus approaches 1. As with everything coming out of the Cathedral, the numbers on “hunger in America” are pure fantasy. In case you haven’t had your intelligence insulted so far today — and if that’s the case, stop logging on to Rotten Chestnuts the minute you roll out of bed — here’s the photo Wiki uses to illustrate “hunger in America;”

Not a living soul in that photo is anything less than stocky, and the dude in the burgundy shirt is grossly obese. If that’s “food insecurity,” then Mighty Pharaoh himself would’ve traded half his empire to be insecure.

Thus fear of death folds back in on itself. As pretty much every Victorian anthropologist remarked, “savages” all seem deliriously happy — when life is a constant struggle, your every moment is filled with deep meaning, high purpose. So, too, with men at war — Robert Graves or someone like that once said that his time in the trenches were the greatest moments of his life, because everything other than the now disappeared. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I’d lay good money that no combat veteran completely re-enters the civilian world, largely for this reason.

Those are reasonable fears of death. We all accept, intellectually, that we could go at any time, and we will inevitably go eventually, but unless you’ve had a brush with death — a moment where you know, with perfect clarity, that there’s a significant chance you’re going now — you can’t really appreciate it, emotionally.

Having never had that experience, those with the most surplus develop morbid patterns of thought to escape any possible reminder of their own mortality. Their goal is to be as childlike as possible — again, not in the right way, but in the sense of “utter dependence.” They have only their immediate bodily needs, and their only response to any situation is to throw a tantrum.

At the same time, they desperately try to shore up the borders of the community, any community, such that they and only they can be saved. Hence the legendary nastiness of Leftist infighting — both the Judaean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judaea hate the Romans, of course, but their hatred for the Empire is casual. Their hatred for each other, though, is incandescent, precisely because they’re all but impossible for outsiders to tell apart.


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