Author Archives: Severian

The Olympics, I Guess [updated]

I just checked my contract, and I guess I’m obligated to do one of these, so here it is:

I’ve never cared much about the Olympics, in any but the vaguest “go USA!” kind of way. That was true even when the USA was a real country. For one thing, most of the events just don’t interest me. I’m not suddenly going to pretend to be interested in the shotput or the high hurdles or cross-country skiing just because it’s in the Olympics. I could die perfectly content not knowing who the world’s greatest fencer is (as opposed to the world’s most notorious fencer*). And that’s before you get to all the what-the-fuck? “sports” they’ve added in (I guess) an effort to get more tv ratings — snowboarding and whatnot. Dude, the Olympics are now Xztreeeem!

And then there’s the professionalization. Not that I’m under any delusions about how amateur our “amateur” athletes really were back in the Cold War, but if I wanted to watch two teams of professionals playing each other in a revenue sport, well, there’s this new thing called “basic cable.” I mean, it’s great that places like Lithuania and Turkmenistan and South Korea have professional basketball (etc.) leagues, but a) half the guys playing in them are washed-up or not-quite-pro-level Americans anyway, and b) of the ones who aren’t, the best come and play in America, so, you know, USA vs. Slovenia is five NBA guys taking on one NBA guy and a bunch of also-rans. If we wanted to watch Luka Doncic and four D-leaguers play five NBA guys, it’s be a lot easier, not to mention more profitable, tv-wise, to pitch it as “the Luka Doncic challenge” and have it on ESPN 8, the Ocho, as Satan intended.**

And then there’s the weird schizophrenia of it all. I mean, as Nikolai put it the other day, half the time you want “your” countrypersyns to lose, to deny them the opportunity to wipe xzheyr asses with the flag on the podium… and half the time you want them to win, precisely because you know they’d wipe their asses with the flag on the podium, thus giving the CivNats in the audience (who are probably the only ones watching) a good, long, hard look at what civic nationalism hath wrought. The idea that I’d cheer for any of them for the old fashioned reason of “one American supporting another” is a sick joke — this is Clown World; xzhey are citizens of Clownlandia; xzhey are NOT AMERICANS, whatever it might say on their official government paperwork.

Finally, if we needed any more evidence that Clown World is the land of synchronized ovulation, look at the reactions to Whatzerface quitting on the gymnastics team. I know, I know, it’s all been coordinated on the JournoList (pace Z Man, sometimes it really IS coordinated, there needs to be “the JournoList codicil” to Gell-Mann Amnesia, somehow we all keep forgetting about that; see also the widespread suspicion, which I for one believe wholeheartedly, that England lost the World Cup because the coach planned out his penalty kick (or whatever it is) lineup specifically to have Numinous Negroes score the winning goal). Nonetheless, y’all, women really believe that shit. Even the based ones.

I had an argument with one the other day. Now, this lady was in her youth the beau ideal we’ve been discussing in the comments below — homey (but certainly not homely), staunch Christian, thinks homeschooling is her life’s work, and so on. And yet, she still insists that crybaby was brave and heroic for quitting. Trust me, gang, the words “mental health” are chick crack, more potent that “six foot four” and “drives a high end Beemer” combined. It’s pathetic, but here in this, the most estrogen-soaked of all possible worlds, muh feelz trumps everything….

UPDATE: I suppose I should add that I’m sure the Media coverage of this Olympiad is off-the-charts hilarious. I don’t need any more convincing, but hearing the tortured locutions of the “sports” broadcasters — who are generally dim even by teevee’s woefully low standards — might be a wakeup call in itself. I saw a piece on Ace of Normies about the Twitter bluehairs criticizing the network bluehairs for “misgendering” a snowboarder or something (can’t have been snowboard, unless that’s a summer sport somehow, but hey, if a man in a dress is really a woman, so 90 degrees and 95 percent humidity is really winter if it gets the sadz over it, I guess).

It’s especially hilarious hearing American commentators talking about dusky foreigners. As I’ve said, I’d rather watch paint dry than watch the Olympics, but I used to watch boxing back in the days, so I remember well the American coverage of heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis. Lewis is black, and at the time he looked all Joggered out — dreadlocks and whatnot — but he’s British, so he sounds like an extra in a Guy Ritchie movie. Moreover, he seems to be a legitimately bright guy. But he was also an extremely lazy fighter. That’s not a “racial dog whistle;” that’s a 100% accurate description of a guy who was a good fighter almost despite himself. The Media tied themselves in Gordian knots trying to talk about Lennox Lewis — they were obviously raring to go with “Racial Grievance Narrative #303,” but then the guy had to go and open his mouth and ruin it…



*that’s bronze medal-level Cat Fancy trivia, for those playing at home

**I don’t follow basketball — indeed, I hate basketball — but I know who Doncic is, largely because people on This Side keep pointing out how hilarious the sports media’s coverage of him is. You can google up a million supercuts of Doncic absolutely clowning the Vibrants game after game, and the Vibrants getting just suuuuuuper pissed about getting clowned by this so-White-he’s-flourescent dude, but somehow the jock-sniffers on ESPN never seem to notice. It’s surreal.

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Friday Mail Bag / Grab Bag

I ain’t got no job and so forth.

Just one question this week, from Jennifer7084, who wonders

what is the best way to deal with these people [the borg]? I’ve said in a past comment I use the “Jesus approach” of asking questions to lead them to their own conclusions, which is also a tactic of cult deprogrammers.

But the reality is even if we win-BOOM-culture war is over and somehow we’ve won. What do we do with these people? What do we do with a large segment of the population whose minds can’t be changed?

This pertains to both politics and covid.

As with so much, there’s a long answer and a short answer, a black pill take and a…slightly more grayish take. The shortest answer is also the blackest (henceforth, the Muggsy Bogues* of answers): It’ll never come up, since there’s no such thing as magic and the only solution possible in this world is going to involve a lot of pain… the kind of pain that, by definition, most members of the Community-Based Reality won’t survive. Nature has an uncanny way of restoring the balance.

On the other hand, “most” is not “all,” and we all heard back in the 80s that only cockroaches would survive a total nuclear war, so we have to figure that at least a few of these terminally broken people will survive the Return to Normalcy. What is to be done with them?

Well, I guess it depends on which way the culture shifts. Oddly enough, the trannie madness offers us a ray of hope. In The Book of the New Sun, the classic sci-fi / fantasy series from which I took my stupid nom de blog**, there are “people” called zooanthrops, who, though only appearing as foils for a brief action scene, nonetheless work great as set dressing — few things give such an immediate sense of a culture with very different values from our own, than a group of folks who have undergone voluntary lobotomies. As Severian (the protagonist) explains it to a young child traveling with him, there are some people to whom the burden of thought is simply too much to bear, so they volunteer to be lobotomized and dumped in the woods…

As everyone in Our Thing knows, Leftists hate themselves. Hell, Igor Shafarevich was calling Socialism a suicide cult back in the Seventies, and he’d know, having been born in the Soviet Union in 1923 (meaning, he witnessed all the worst horrors of Stalinism firsthand, and hit adulthood just as the NKVD were at their absolute worst). As Hoffer writes in The True Believer, the only goal of anyone joining a mass movement is to subsume their hated personal identity into the larger group identity, which is why all mass movements are basically the same. Hating yourself requires self-reflection, which requires the ability to self-reflect….

Take it from there. Though the Left’s intellectual appeal rests on an entirely mechanical view of the universe — there is “History,” comrade, and it is inexorable, and Marxism can decipher it — its emotional appeal is, and always has been, radical personal autonomy. Totally free will, unshackled from any traditions, any standards of morality or decency or even reason or Reality itself. Total freedom of the will, to be total, must entail the freedom to totally negate the will. Which is actually, physically possible, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. And if they’re willing to cut their own dicks off….

If post-Return to Normalcy culture remains anything like Western Civ, though, the only humane answer is to keep them as busy as possible, thus freeing them from the burden of thought the old fashioned way. Which sounds an awful lot like the stated rationale for places like Dachau and Kolyma — second time as farce, remember? — but I for one don’t have it in me to sentence anyone to that, so… I dunno. David Thompson has a few pieces on rich, latte-sipping SWPL gals who go off for a weekend in the forest, to pretend that they’re really living the Neanderthal life or something. Australia seems desperate to turn itself back into a penal colony; why not exile all of them there, put in a really robust blockade, and let them get back in touch with nature the old fashioned way?

[If you’re asking what I, personally, would do, in my own little life that I’m just trying to live as best I can, being as decent a person as I can, with no power or influence beyond a blog with twenty readers… just love them as best you can, buddy. They’re children of God, too, and though it’s a cop out to lay it all on Him, He’s the only one who can really fix them. In the meantime, just love them as best you can… but for pete’s sake, keep them away from sharp objects, and never let them within a mile of any position that might conceivably have influence over your children].

Speaking of God, let’s keep one of the Twenty, Kirk Forlatt, in our prayers (if that’s your bag). Last I heard from him, he was having a rough go, which a glance at his blog — not updated since December — seems to confirm. I sent him an email the other day but haven’t heard back. It’s quite possible, of course, that he just fell out of the Regular Readership. Lord knows commenting on blogs is a time suck that not everyone can afford. And the good Lord certainly knows more than one former reader has told me several times that they didn’t like my kind, ’cause I’m a bit too leisurely (which is by far the least of my sins as a writer, which those folks took great pains to detail). Maybe he’s just gone elsewhere, and if so, vaya con Dios. But let’s all pour one out for him anyway — it can’t hurt, and if he’s really in the soup, it can only help.

Last but not least, in keeping with the ongoing discussions of “situational hotness” for both sexes, and the utility, or not, of “Game,” let’s do the young people a favor and put together some advice. It most likely won’t do a damn bit of good — I’m pretty sure everyone who comments here is on life’s back nine, and as Snoop Dogg once said, si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. Nonetheless, it’s the old guy’s duty, privilege, and pleasure to offer unheeded (because unheedable (it’s a word)) advice to the young, so… have at it. What would you tell a young person, of either sex, dipping xzheyr toe in the shark-infested waters of modern “romance”?

That’s all for this week, gang. Keep your guard up, stay off the ropes, and remember to work the jab.

*I really liked Muggsy back when I watched basketball (which, since he retired after the 2001 season, should tell you how long ago it was that I watched basketball). The kid was a scrapper with crazy skills; if he’d been 6’3″ instead of 5’3″ he’d be a legit Hall of Fame player. I also once had the weird pleasure of seeing him and Manute Bol — all 7’7″ of him, and in this one case the roster wasn’t lying about his height — on the same court at the same time. Muggsy could’ve driven to the basket between Manute’s legs. It was surreal.

** Which I don’t even like that much, not being a reader of much fiction in general, or of fantasy / sci fi in particular. I just needed a handle way back in the prehistoric days of the Internet, and The Shadow of the Torturer just happened to be the first thing my eye landed on when scanning my bookshelves, and… yeah, there it is. If I’d known I’d be stuck with it for 30 years and counting, I would’ve had another think, but whaddaya gonna do?

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On the Unity of the Good

Christians have always wrestled with the Problem of Theodicy ™. What kind of all-good, all-loving god would allow things like genocide, childhood leukemia, and the Designated Hitter?

Put more formally, and thus more interestingly, if we accept the Thomistic notion of God as pure Act, and therefore pure Will, and therefore pure Good, evil seems to be impossible. Either He wills it, which makes Him evil; or He doesn’t will it, which makes Him less than pure will. It’s a toughie, and that’s before you consider a related conundrum: Is it even possible for God to will evil? If it is, then we’re back to “He’s the author of evil, and therefore not all good.” If it’s not, then He’s not all-powerful, because “all powerful” seems to entail “able to violate His own laws,” doesn’t it?

[If Thomism isn’t your bag, consider pothead Homer’s question to Ned Flanders: “Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that He Himself couldn’t eat it?”]

I’m not qualified to walk anybody through all the solutions that have been mooted to the Problem of Theodicy (though if Maus et al want to have a crack at it, go nuts), so I’ll stick to the one that’s most germane to the Current Year: Our inability to share God’s perspective. Put simply but not unfairly, this solution claims that there really is no such thing as Evil, capital-E — all things work towards the Good, with a broad enough perspective and on a long enough timeline. I surely don’t have the courage to offer that answer to parents who just lost their toddler to leukemia, but it’s an answer, and it seems to work on paper. On that account, God is neither the author of evil, nor caught on the horns of the Jesus/burrito dilemma (since asking if He can create “evil” is like asking if He can create as;kdjfhawuehr — it’s just meaningless).

Oddly enough, given how hostile they are to Christianity, this is exactly the Left’s conception of whatever the hivemind has decided is good this week. It’s pure and undifferentiated, and any apparent contradictions are mere false consciousness, comrade.

I know, I know, but it’s the only way their actions make sense. When they claimed, back in the days, that Obamacare, a new zillion-dollar entitlement, would not only improve services but lower taxes, too, they all… well, I was going to write “they all pretended to believe it,” but that’s exactly what I’m getting at — they weren’t pretending. They somehow really believed it, even though math doesn’t work like that.

And I do mean believed, in the precise, religious sense of the word. They had a deep emotional attachment to it. They incorporated it into their very identities, into their very souls as it were, in a way most Christians –myself most certainly included — can only dream of doing with the actual Word. That’s why they’re so utterly impervious to facts and reason — “History” is the Left’s god, and Karl Marx is its prophet, and so you see, comrade, from a broad enough perspective and on a long enough timeline, all things work towards the good.

Same deal with contradictions. As anti-Christians have been pointing out pretty much since the very minute Jesus started His ministry, the Bible contradicts itself all over the place. I doubt you can find a position so bizarre that someone, somewhere, hasn’t made a pretty good, entirely Biblical argument for. That’s just how human brains work — even texts dictated directly by God Himself to His sole anointed prophet end up with errors and omissions and contradictions, because language cannot, by definition, express the ineffable. Ask any Muslim, but preferably the non-exploding kind — they’re even better at killing each other over tiny jots and tittles of their supposedly direct-dictation holy book than they are at killing us. And they’ve got nothing on Christians when it comes to killing their coreligionists over obscure points of doctrine — though the Muzzies are trying mightily to catch up, we’ve got a nearly seven centuries’ head start.

So what, then, if the Poz Catechism of today directly contradicts yesterday’s? False consciousness, comrade. There’s simply no such thing as “a contradiction,” not when it comes to the Faith. All things work towards the good, and if “the good” they’re all obviously working towards seems to be the extinction of the human race, well…

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The Situational Alpha [updated]

UPDATEI swear, you cannot make this stuff up:

Behold the female of the species. Also perhaps the most perfect illustration of a BCG this side of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter feed. You’ll know for sure she’s a BCG if she says, with all apparent sincerity, that she really did expect him to take her back…

…and you’ll know that he’s a Standard-Issue American Nu-Male if, despite an Olympic-caliber physique, he actually takes her stupid ass back.

Back when we were allowed to acknowledge basic biology, feminists used to howl about the “double standard” in attractiveness: Women get judged almost entirely on their looks, while men get judged almost entirely on their accomplishments. Note that this entails feminism has always been about denial of basic biological reality, right from jump street, but that’s not important right now. In a very limited way, they had a point: That situation is grossly “unfair,” in that there’s very little you can do to improve your looks, but a lot you can do to improve your accomplishments. But see “denial of basic biological reality,” above — such “unfairness” is how homo sap. came to dominate the planet. You really want your critters to take the great leap forward — discover fire or the wheel or whatnot — tell the males of the species there’s some punani in it.

That’s how it works across the entirety of the animal kingdom. The great “insight” of the Game crowd was to pithily express what everyone has always known about vertebrate behavior: Males display, females choose. The neato torpedo thing about humans is: “display” covers a nearly infinite amount of ground. You want to display as, say, a buffalo or a peacock, you’ve only got two options: You can beat down each and every one of your potential rivals in physical combat, or you can have such an impressive fan of feathers that you’re daring predators to come after you. Either way, it boils down to laughing in death’s face: As we read in the Book of Proverbs: though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am the baddest motherfucker in the valley.

Only humans seem to have figured out that those not-quite-supreme-alpha males can be a force multiplier for the entire species. Og might not quite be able to best Grog in single combat, but he can do the thing with the sticks that makes the bright, hot stuff happen. And Brog can’t quite take Og, thus claiming his spot on the ladder, but he can use the bright hot stuff to make a better spear, and so on. Instead of the one apex alpha in the group having his pick of all the females, it’s much better if the males and females sort themselves through intra-group competition. The very real possibility of moving up by benefitting the group, plus the very real fear of moving down by not at least pulling your weight, catapults the whole species forward.

Assortative mating for the win, providing “class” doesn’t become “caste” — that is, that there’s some not necessarily formalized, yet nonetheless very real, permeability between ranks. In the Middle Ages, of course, they did it via patents of nobility — just as a truly superior fighting man could be knighted on the battlefield, and thus absorbed into the aristocracy to freshen the whole group’s blood, so a truly talented commoner, your Cardinal Wolseys and so on, could be ennobled through service (indeed if you want to argue that “the Church” as an institution — that is, regardless of creed — exists primarily for this purpose, I’m not gonna stop you).

Obviously we don’t have patents of nobility here in Current Year America. And that’s a major problem, because our proxies were never very good, and these days can easily be faked.

For instance, I wrote somewhere in the comments below that I knew a guy who got “rich” by getting the patent on a minor-yet-important widget in the tech biz, a self-lubing ball bearing for cell phones or something like that. “Rich” in quotation marks, because while he could buy all the display items that the well-off have — weekend sports car, boat, and so on — for cash, you don’t actually have to pay cash for those. So long as you’re willing to go miles in hock and juggle a lot of paper, you can pretty convincingly fake being “well off.”

I speak from experience here — I have an idiot cousin who’s got all that stuff. I know exactly what he makes (nothing Paddies love to do more than gossip about our relatives once we’ve had a whiskey or three), and it’s decent coin, but nowhere near “pull primo poon” level. He’s one of those dudes who has three mortgages and pays off one credit card with another. I’m sure you all know the type. The point, for our purposes, is that my cousin and my buddy, the patent-holder, would be going out for exactly the same type of girl, who would perceive no difference between them. My buddy actually IS “well off” by any measure sensible people would use — he bought his midlife crisis-mobile with a personal check, and his brokerage account has lots of zeroes in it — but he and my idiot cousin, who has to root around under the couch cushions to buy his kids a Happy Meal, drive the exact same car. They both pull up to the same bar at the same time, and the playing field is perfectly level.

We once had another proxy for social rank: Actual rank. We used to have several professions with actual ranks in them. Being a doctor, for example — either kind — used to have real pull. Both medicine and education were once status professions, where the doctors were at the top of the heap. Obviously the former more than the latter, but there was a time, well within living memory, when “I’m a tenured professor at Podunk State” was catnip to a certain kind of girl, and not the “I bet she played a little softball in college” kind, either (or anyway not just them). I missed those heady days, alas, but pop culture is still full of sexy, sexy MDs, despite the fact that medicine as it’s currently practiced is a) overwhelmingly female at all levels, and b) almost a minimum-wage job, when you divide the take-home pay by the ludicrous hours, the optional-yet-mandatory “free time” stuff like CME (continuing medical education), and of course the massive student loans. Ask any doc — if you’re going into medicine for pussy, boys, you’d better be going to veterinary school.

Same thing with cops and soldiers, the two most obvious professions with actual ranks. I’ve never been a cop or a soldier, but I’ve been friends with lots of them, so I think I’ve got enough of a sense of it to confidently opine. The old saw goes “women love a man in uniform,” and while I’m sure there’s a limbic component to it — at one time, you could expect cops and soldiers to at least be physically fit — a lot of it, I imagine, was social. Cops have power. When they’re on the job, they are by definition the alpha in ANY situation.

Same deal with soldiers. I fully acknowledge the basic truth of military life, that lieutenants don’t know shit, and generals don’t know shit, and generally your average gunny is worth more than all of them together — senior NCOs being what really makes an army go — but nonetheless lieutenants get saluted and called sir, even by the saltiest sergeant with more stripes on his arms than a Suicide Girl. I’m pretty sure that if the most senior sergeant and the newest butterbar lieutenant walk into a bar together, in uniform, the LT will be the one leaving with the better looking girl. Not because he makes better money, or has better on-base housing or anything like that, but because of his rank. Rank is a proxy for social class, which is a proxy for social dominance.

Or, at least, it was. Not a very good proxy, I’ll admit, but it was real, and it was there, and while I doubt too many guys fake being army officers these days, I’m sure it could be done fairly easily. I mean, yeah, that guy over there in the cammies with all the badges on them looks like Milton from Office Space, but get a gander at Admiral Sasqueetchia and tell me that’s so far-fetched. When you’ve got Airborne guys walking around in high heels, you know “military rank as a proxy for social dominance” is deader than whatever poor bastard has to serve under Sasqueetchia will be when she runs her cruiser aground in enemy waters.

Thus you see the sexual polarities reversing. “Men” become catty and status-obsessed, and even the “players,” the guys who are successful by the traditional “gets laid a lot” metric, do so by being, essentially, those sneaky cuttlefish that mime being female in order to shoplift the pootie. Women, meanwhile, seem to think that challenging the guys is the only way to get them to finally man back up, so they carry on like the worst stereotype of the most obnoxious frat bro.

It’s all fake, and there’s no way to separate the signal from the noise. It won’t end well.

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The Situational Seven

n.b. this is probably going to be one of those short posts that still ends up being more prologue, footnote, and digression than actual post. To wit:

Prologue: This post is mostly here as a shout out to the large percentage of the 24 Readers who hail from what I really hope they don’t actually call “Oceania.” Australia and New Zealand trail only Japan on the list of places I’d most like to spend time in someday. Alas, it’s looking like that’ll never happen — Australia is turning itself back into a penal colony at Ludicrous Speed, and New Zealand seems to be matching them stroke for stroke in the “world’s most pozzed nation” competition. Yeah, somehow even worse than us here in the Evil Empire, which is really saying something. Maybe someday we’ll all meet in Siberian exile, where we can share a pint of fermented yak’s milk or something.

And now, on with the show…

There’s this Aussie broad named Claire Lehmann (probably shouldn’t click that at work). foundress of a website called Quillette. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. As an ex-academic, people have referred me to it several times. Hell, a drive-by commenter once suggested that I write for it, which I’m willing to put down as the only legit infiltration attempt by an honest-to-god Fed in Rotten Chestnuts’ history, because only a Fed would be that stupid. Quillette is the new, crowdsourced version of National Review Online — that is, the in-house journal of The Party’s right-deviationists. They do for blog posts what Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro do for campus speeches and YouTube videos: Define the borders of acceptable opposition.

As you can clearly see if you click that link — which, again, you probably shouldn’t if you’re at work, since it contains a blurry bikini pic of the lady in question, plus a reference in the title to the kind of Greek that’s neither Plato nor yogurt — you’ll see it right away. Show me when and where defending one’s proclivity for butt love online for all the world to see became a hallowed conservative principle, and I’ll show you someone who took the ticket cheap. Anyway, if you do an image search on her — which is SFW, at least page one — you’ll see a 50/50 split between Glamour Shots trying to make her look as good as possible, and photos from Media hit pieces trying to make her look as bad as possible. Add them together, take cosine, carry the one, and you’ll conclude that’s she’s what I call a Situational Seven — better looking than average, but nothing to write home about, except in context.

[Here’s the first of what will probably end up being several digressive footnotes, which for clarity of exposition I’m putting up here. There has been endless debate among us Persyns of Penility about the classic 10-point scale of female hotness. Much like the sound of one hand clapping, or the square root of a million, no one will ever really know the answer, so we’re each left to do as best we can. Not being good at math, I take “five” to be smack dab in the middle of the scale — not great, not bad, just…kinda….there.

If you haven’t been the victim of fortune, one way or the other, and you don’t work hard to make yourself notable either way, you’re a five. Most of us are fives, I imagine. A six is a five that put some real effort into raising her station, just as a four is someone who tried hard to lower it — feminists, for instance, who have a political commitment to being fugly with the piercings and the hair dye and the obnoxious tats. A seven is the kind of girl that, in pretty much any situation — just rolling out of bed, at the end of a long stressful day, whatever — would still be considered cute by the average male observer. Eight is a sort of uber-seven, and the best most normal folks will see in the flesh in their lifetimes. I don’t think tens actually exist, and nines are your girls who are so hot, they can be hot professionally — actresses, models, and suchlike.]

Everyone with me? On that scale, I’m going to put Mx. Lehmann, based solely on the weighted average of her pictures online, at a solid six. Which, recall, is pretty good. I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers, and indeed if I were still interested in dating human females I’d put some not-inconsiderable effort into getting her into bed, but still, nothing to write home about. She’s just an averagely pretty girl, if that’s not an oxymoron.

Which is absolutely the most dangerous kind. Because a six can go as high as a nine in context, in the right situation — which, for civilization-preserving purposes, is exactly the wrong situation. Google up any of the younger nth wave feminists, for instance. Jessica Valenti back in her day was a six. Even the notorious Amanda Marcotte, if she’d put on some makeup and dropped Edward Scissorhands as her hairstylist, was a five. From long experience in the halls of academe, I can tell you that the absolutely worst lunatic, the person guaranteed to leave a smoking hole where your department once stood, is the “she’d be cute if she tried” grad student. If academia is too esoteric for you, google up Zoey Quinn (probably NSFW), and remember that the fight for this woman’s favors torpedoed an entire industry.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Now, back in the days, there was nothing wrong with “the situational seven,” since back in the days — you know, when people actually interacted with real people out in meatspace — the hottest girl at an insurance adjuster’s office in Omaha knew she was exactly that: The hottest girl at the insurance adjuster’s office. She was a situational seven, but she knew she could never be more than a situational seven, since even though she was the hottest girl her coworkers saw in the flesh during an average workday, it was a safe bet they saw hotter on their off hours — a quick lunch trip to TGI Friday’s was all it took.

Shift that online, though, and all of a sudden your situational seven turns into I can’t even tell what. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Mx. Lehmann only got where she is by being a prettier-than-average face that TPTB could put on the acceptable opposition, the better to fool the rubes. Having her interacting online with that “Aimee Terese” person*, talking about stuff that should never be mentioned in polite company, or indeed any company, does enormous damage…. and not just to her sphincter, but to Western Civ’s, collectively.

*This footnote stays a footnote, because it’s truly irrelevant to the discussion, but holy jeebus, how creepy is that “aki no kure” guy? In addition to sounding like every dimwit Maoist on the planet, circa 1982, that Aimee Terese girl just isn’t attractive. At all. If Lehmann is a situational seven, “Aimee Terese” is a situational five. At best, but she’ll never reach her best, being ideologically committed to fugliness. Plus she announces to the world that she bats for the other team, so you’re constantly rhapsodizing over a very marginal girl who will never, under any circumstances, give you the time of day. That’s fucking pathetic, boyo.

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Existing vs. Living

This was intended as a mailbag question, from texinole, but it deserves its own discussion piece. Texinole describes the phenomenon of the CBOS — the Covidian-but-otherwise-sane. The ur-example, I guess, is Steve Sailer,* who apparently has his dress even higher over his head this time around regarding the “delta variant.”

[when “delta” debuted just in time for the 2021 coof season] I was most interested in seeing how covidian-but-otherwise-sane (CBOS) people would react, given (1) they had tasted freedom from the fear porn, (2) far more of their friends and neighbors have seen the light compared to the last blitz, and (3) the (great!) news shared almost exclusively among right-wingers about effective covid treatments, as well as the aforementioned vaxes and their touted efficacy. IE, the swivel-eyed friends and family the CBOS dismissed (on covid stuff only) have been proven correct in nearly every aspect, and, unlike lefties and soft-left normies, CBOS consumed news from sources that would not censor that proof.

Would that pierce the veil? Would they look askance at the media’s latest panic this time around?

Alas, we all know what happened. The question is: Why? And I’m inclined to say “beats my pair of jacks” and go pour myself another long whiskey, the mission parameters forbid it:

How can we help such people begin to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Endemic Virus?  “They can’t be reached” is not an answer, IMO.  We cannot hope to have a future if we don’t try.

There it is. Because look, y’all, the war on germs will never be won. As I remarked at Z Man’s the other day, in this one thing, the Left has been perfectly consistent and logical. And not just for Leftist values of “consistent” and “logical,” either. The problem, as David Stove has shown us, is in the premises. Once you’ve declared that Reality itself is merely a Social Construction ™ — that a man who puts on a dress and insists on being called “Caitlyn” really IS a woman, wedding tackle be damned — then eradicating the common cold should be child’s play. Since we’re dealing with really shitty Chinese products here, it’s like Mao’s insistence that his people could produce industrial-grade steel in their backyards if they just willed it into existence. So long as we purge ourselves of anything that isn’t Zhou Bai-den Thought,** comrades, we shall remain safe from the Dread Coof!

So how do we reach such people? Clearly facts and reason won’t do it. The only thing I can think of is: the distinction between living and existing.

Back in my atheist days, I thought I had a knockout punch, one of those Mike Tyson sledgehammer overhand rights. Jesus said he was going to return, right? He even said that some among the people watching him die would live to see it happen. But they didn’t. He hasn’t been back in 2000 years, despite all the prophecies and hoopla. If two thousand fucking years of disconfirmation isn’t enough to do it, boys, then I just don’t know what else to tell you.

The rebuttal to that was something I was too callow to see at the time, but has become ever more poignant as the years pass: So what? Even if Jesus won’t return and Christianity is false, it gives dignity to an otherwise unbearably sad, sordid existence. No one can live like a true atheist or existentialist or nihilist — nobody, not one, not for a single second. And you know it’s true — it’s obvious in every centimeter of the evangelical atheist’s smug mug that he expects to meet you in the afterlife, to wag his finger in your face and say “neener neener toldja!!!” Even if I were to be shown irrefutable proof that Christianity is false, I will still be a Christian, because Christianity produced the Sistine Chapel and the Ode to Joy and the Summa Theologiae, and the best atheism can do is The Palace of the Soviets and the collected works of Andy Warhol.

So, too, with the coof. Maybe “the delta variant” really is going to kill us all this time. So fucking what? No, seriously: So what? I’ll do for “delta” what I’ve done for every other flu bug ever since I’ve been alive: Wash my hands, stay home when I’m sick, try not to let people cough in my face. But… that’s it. Because I’m not going to live like a cockroach. That’s not living, it’s just existing. Fuck all that. You can stay in your bubble-wrapped home if you want to, getting all your food delivered by a guy in a hazmat suit, wearing four masks and six diapers (just wait) and taking a sanitizer bath every half hour.

You can do that. For me, if the choices are “existing like that” and “catching the coof,” well, bring on the coof. Seriously — come cough right in my fucking face. I’ll take my chances.

I’m not trying to be some Ivan Drago tough guy here (“if he dies, he dies”). I surely am scared of death, just like everyone. I’d prefer to have fifty, sixty more good years, in comfort and ease, and go gently into that good night at about age 120 or so, with all my wits about me, surrounded by loving children and grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. But if it doesn’t happen, then I damn sure want to spend whatever time I have left — decades, years, months, mere hours or even minutes — actually living. I’m not going to just exist, like a cockroach, scuttling fearfully out of the light.



* I don’t read Sailer. I’ve read a few of his pieces that others have shared with me, and I’m familiar with a lot of the concepts he’s injected into the blog world, but something about his style just grates on me. For me, his site is the Seinfeld of blogs — I laughed at the jokes from the show when someone told them to me, but actually watching it was like a root canal without anesthetic. I hated all of those characters so, so much…

**Suggested mantra: My butt’s been wiped.


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The Cost of Compliance

I got to thinking about this after reading Nikolai’s review of Vladimir Bukovsky’s To Build a Castle. Two things I’d like to highlight: What ended up happening to Bukovsky, and how he got there.

Bukovsky came up in a much less repressive Soviet Union, the post-Secret Speech one, when the Politburo finally realized that a gulag-centric economy was unsustainable. Slave labor can only do so much, as it turns out, so the gulag system of the 60s and 70s was much more your traditional “political prison,” much less the concentration camps they were under Lenin and especially Stalin. Indeed, the real hardasses like Bukovsky — and as Nikolai points out, the guy seems to have been a congenital contrarian — ended up in mental hospitals, where well-meaning shrinks attempted to “cure” his “sluggish schizophrenia.”

That’s point 1, I guess, though really, pretty much everyone sees that coming in our ridiculously medicalized society. As one of our resident MDs, Some Guy I believe, has pointed out, they’re already trotting out “Patriot Syndrome” or something like that as the American version of sluggish schizophrenia. Obviously you’re crazy if you think there’s anything fishy at all about Totally Legit Joe’s totally legit election; wonder why nobody you know has died of COVID, but half the people who get jabbed end up flat on their asses for a week; and suchlike. The Hicks (that’s HIC, Healthcare-Industrial Complex, please update your Official Rotten Chestnuts Lexicons accordingly) have already signed off on half-assed Lamarckism for Pox and Jews — you can catch PTSD now for being a “third generation” “survivor” of slavery or the Holocaust — so obviously there’s something medically wrong with you if you don’t love Big Brother. It’s Science ™, comrades.

Point 2 is how Bukovsky managed to get himself kicked out of the USSR.* Quite simply, he made keeping him in jail more of a pain in the ass to the Powers That Be than kicking him out. Unlike in the old gulag, where “camp guard” was barely a step above “camp inmate” — and, indeed, a lot of the latter got “promoted” to the former — being a dissident-keeper in the kinder, gentler gulag wasn’t exactly a high-status occupation, but it was a fairly important one. Bukovsky did everything in his considerable power to make their lives more miserable than they made his. He became the ultimate jailhouse lawyer, for instance. If the regulations weren’t always followed precisely to the letter — and how could they be? — he’d fire off complaints to the authorities. It generated reams of paperwork, and all their responses, if not letter-perfect, would generate further reams of paperwork, and so on down the line. It was the zek version of the work-to-rule strike, but since “zek” is a 24/7 job, the “work” never ended.

Note that well, kameraden. In fact, bureaucracy is one hell of a force multiplier. For easy math, let’s say there are two shifts of guards, and that there’s one boss for every five guards. That’d be bad enough, since a guy like Bukovsky can put paper in the lives of most every guard, meaning most every boss. But it’s even worse when you consider that in a highly bureuacratized system, the org chart is hourglass shaped — there’s only one boss for every five guards, but for every boss, there are five over-bosses. Now the boss guard is swamped with paper coming from both directions, which means the paper spills over into the lives of the over-bosses, who get jammed up, with paper spilling over into the lives of their bosses, until someone really important starts getting jammed up…

One malicious prick like Bukovsky (and I mean that as a compliment) can royally screw up umpteen State functionaries, including some bigtimers.

At this point — point 3, if you’re keeping score at home — one must wonder why the Powers That Be simply didn’t have Bukovsky shot. That’s what Stalin would’ve done, after all, and as Orwell said, that’s why you never saw a Gandhi in the Third Reich, or in Stalin’s Soviet Union — I’m sure there were some guys with the requisite strength of character, but instead of getting lauded in all the Western papers, they got Excedrin Headache #357 (they could turn a phrase, the Provos). Why wasn’t Bukovsky marked down for Sonderbehandlung, or shot while trying to escape?

Here’s where it gets interesting, and dicey, for the Friends of Freedom. Ultimately, total repression always fails. Orwell was right about the fate of potential Gandhis in the short term, but in the long term, his prediction of “a boot stomping on a human face, forever” can’t hold. People just aren’t wired that way.

Even the most evil bastards on earth aren’t evil in their own minds. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc., all famously thought they were doing good. Even if we stipulate for the sake of argument that the SS was the most thoroughly evil organization of all time, worse even than the International Olympic Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center combined, we must quickly conclude that even their famously hardass ethos was in the service of what they considered a higher good. Himmler made a “secret speech,” too, and though it’s not as well known as Khrushchev’s, it’s actually more psychologically acute — his men are legendarily hard, he says, because their task is so much higher. They could only do the obviously evil things they did — truly horrible things, things that even hardened criminals would shrink from  — because they considered themselves “fundamentally decent.”

So, too, with Bukovsky’s guards, and indeed with the entire repressive apparatus of the decaying USSR. Some were sadists, of course — they always exist, and always will exist — but the pure sadist type usually ends up on the other side of the wire, since they lack the impulse control that would allow them to become the majority of guards.

In Bukovsky’s case, the regime was very concerned with its image in the Western Media. To which the obvious rejoinder is “but in our case, the Media IS the Regime!,” but wait: Even though everyone in The Media is functionally a toady, a rump-swab, an ass-kisser, a suck-up to The Regime, that’s not how they see themselves. They see themselves as brave truth-tellers, sticking it to The Man. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, remember that? It’s a sick joke on our side of the aisle, but y’all, they really believe it.

I’ll give you an illustration from back in the days:

That right there is Exhibit A for the defense when Media people, who are Commodore 64-level NPCs, insist there’s no such thing as Media Bias. Though many of them tried mightily to spin it — we’ll get there, don’t worry — there’s no disguising the fact that’s a chubby cop, decked out like a commando, shoving a machine gun into a terrified kid’s face…. and it was on the front page of every newspaper in America. You must admit, it’s one hell of a visual… which is why, Media people insisted, it was on the front page, despite being obviously detrimental to the Clinton administration. If it bleeds, it leads, regardless. IIRC even Fred Reed, who damn well knew better, was bitterly clinging to this back then.

Looking back on it a quarter century later, the Elian Gonzalez thing was an inflection point for The Media. Newspapers were being bought out at a furious rate back then, with consolidation and downsizing the order of the day, but even though a lot of old veteran reporters were getting their pink slips back in 1999, there were still enough of them left to actually cover the Elian Gonzalez raid. Yeah, they tried to give Bill Clinton every possible benefit of every possible doubt, but their self-concept — their self-fashioned identity as “newshounds” — compelled them to report the actual facts, more or less straight.

The up-and-comers, meanwhile, saw the Gonzalez raid as an audition. Kids who knew they were next on the chopping block once all the old timers got the axe quickly figured out that The Administration was looking for a few good persyns to parrot the Party line. The giant Media corporations still had one or two toes sticking out from beneath the sheets back in 1999, but it was obvious they’d be fully in bed with The Government no matter what happened in the 2000 election. Had Gore won, a whole bunch of Media people would’ve been promoted to the Administration, as happened with Obama in 2008. But Bush won, so it went the other way — all the departing Clinton Administration weasels went the George Stephanopolous route and got “commenter” gigs, at which point loyalty to The Party became doubly important.

All of which makes it seem like I’m undercutting my own case, but look: While a few Stephanopolous-level weasels are comfortable being complete partisan hacks, but most of them really do believe the hype. The only group that could possibly have a higher opinion of themselves as a group are teachers, and it’s the same deal with them — even if you broke out the thumbscrews, they’d deny that they’re pushing an agenda, even when the agenda is right there in plain language in their lesson plans. Journalistic amour-propre won’t allow them to admit that they’re just glorified stenographers taking dictation from other Government flunkies. If they were willing to do that, they wouldn’t have gotten into “journalism” in the first place! No, they have to think of themselves as sticking it to The Man, even though they are, functionally, an integral part of The Man.

Eventually some Bukovsky on Our Side is going to figure out some ways to raise The Media’s cost of compliance. Or, you know, we could just kick back and wait for the Totally Legit Joe regime to do it for us, as they are already doing at Warp Factor 6. Ace of Normies routinely reports on even CNN dorks mocking that Jen Psaki idiot… and that’s while times are still relatively good. Second time as farce, remember, and since this is round two of the Obama Administration, which was already Jimmy Carter 2.0….



*Not that getting kicked out of AINO is a realistic option for us just yet, kameraden. I mean, who would take us? The rest of the West is somehow even more pozzed than we are. If Putin were half as Machiavellian as folks in Our Thing like to believe he is, he’d jump on that. I personally would emigrate right now, today, with only the shirt on my back and with as many friends and family members as I could catch, to farthest Siberia, if Vlad would promise that no Pox, poof, or tranny would ever be allowed within 1,000 miles of the place, and that face piercings and unnatural hair dyes would be punished by catapult. Give it 20 years, Vlad, and Siberia will be stupor mundi, and you will be hailed as the Savior of Civilization.

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Cars, Bikes, Motorcycles

Since there are only 24 readers, I thought it might be fun to move trending discussions up into their own mini-posts. So, since y’all seem to be having fun talking about the various critters that roam on the crumbling infrastructure of this once-great nation, here ya go:

In re: motorcycles, those guys are assholes, too, but the good kind. There’s a certain personality type that rides motorcycles, and that type has its flaws — flaws like the apparent need to announce to the world “yo, I have a motorcycle!!” by revving the engine up and down residential streets all damn day every fucking weekend — but on balance, that type’s virtues counterbalance and overcome the flaws. The world would be a better place with more of that type in it — albeit a much, much, much louder place.

Regarding bicycles, they, like motorcycles, have long since transformed from “a means of locomotion” to “a lifestyle.” Note that I’m only talking about AINO here. Everyone has heard that “more bicycles than people in the Netherlands” factoid, and Euros do seem to love them some bikes, but I haven’t spent enough time over there to say much about it. Here in the Former America, though, anyone who rides a bicycle past age 16 falls into one of two broad groups: 1) they’re nature lovers who want to be out in the countryside but for various reasons can’t take up hiking, or 2) they’re preening, posturing, virtue-signaling, passive-aggressive assholes. The latter outnumber the former about 5,000 to 1.

I’m deliberately discounting bicycles as a means of locomotion, you’ll notice, because look: America is a car society. Our cities are designed for cars. Indeed, given the vast distances involved over here, cars are what make our lifestyle possible. Europeans who haven’t been here, or who only visit the big tourist pits like NYC and LA, don’t get this. Even if you’ve seen the maps, it doesn’t really register until you experience it. I’m just guessing here, for purposes of explanation, but it really does seem to be the case that if it were possible to hop in your car and drive two hours due east from downtown Paris, you’d pass through three or four countries. There are lots of American cities where, if it were possible to hop in your car and drive two hours straight from downtown, you’d still be in that same city. The continental US is just mind-bogglingly huge; only Russians and maybe Australians share our mental maps. When you’ve got daily commutes that run an hour, hour and a half on freeways, setting anything up with bicycles in mind is just ludicrous.

Given that, for “Americans,” cars are a pretty good proxy for personality. What you drive, and more importantly how you drive, shows everyone else on the road the state of your soul. There are entire models of car — Toyota Priuses (Prii?), Subaru Outbacks — that are only driven by SJWs. Karen drives a late-model SUV, almost universally, but if she’s forced to drive a minivan or, God help us all, a standard four-door, she’ll festoon it with a thousand of those “passive-aggressive” (or whatever we end up calling them) bumper stickers: My broomstick is in the shop. Stick-figure families in rainbow colors. Hate is not a family value (often juxtaposed, with brain-breaking obtuseness, next to one wishing that various “conservatives” would die in fires). And so on.

And that’s just the Whites. We all know what the Vibrancy drive, and how, no need to belabor it here. But since Diversity is Our Strength, and since The Party has been feverishly importing every dusky foreigner they can catch for going on 40 years now, we have to deal with the charming automotive habits of the Third World. If it’s a junker, it’s 50 to 1 it’s a Somalian (or equivalent) at the wheel, who — naturally — drives like a Somalian. Which is to say, like an overcaffeinated goatherd with a death wish. As many an Old Africa Hand has noted, they don’t really grok cause-and-effect in the Dark Continent. A White guy who takes a curve at 60 and nearly flips his car might not understand all the physics behind stuff like “angular momentum,” but he does deduce that taking a hairpin turn at 60 nearly flipped him, so he’d better slow down next time. The African in the same situation concludes that since his car didn’t flip, that must be the way the gods wanted it, so he’d better take all turns at 60 — better yet, at 70, just to be sure not to anger the spirits with excessive caution.

Not that they’re much better in the more civilized parts of the Third World. A buddy of mine once joked that the traffic signals, lane markers, etc. in India are the world’s biggest public art installation, since they have exactly the same effect on motorists’ behavior as those butt-ugly steel-and-concrete things your city council keeps insisting on sticking out in front of city hall. Long after I returned from my sojourn in the Raj, friends remarked on my newfound sangfroid. It’s no mystery, I explained to them. Delhi’s a big place, so usually took several autorickshaw rides a day — each and every one of them, by necessity, a dance with the Grim Reaper. As P.J. O’Rourke once quipped back when he was funny, on the Subcontinent it doesn’t even count as a car crash unless there’s probable loss of life involved. Death come for us all, I told my buddies; when my time’s up, my ticket’s gonna get punched regardless.

Which I guess is a longwinded “explanation,” if you want to call it that, of why I hate bicyclists so much. Growing up in the New New South, the Tech Boom South, I rode my bike on a lot of suburban streets… streets filled with “drivers” (in the loosest technical sense of the term) from places like Shanghai and Bombay. Places where lane markers are mere suggestions, and things like stop signs are an affront to their thousands of many-armed deities. You damn well better keep your head on a swivel under those conditions, which is why all of us kids rode bikes the way grunts patrolled in Vietnam — in force, scared shitless, ready to hit the deck instantly at the first hint of danger. Since any adult riding a bike on an urban street these days is guaranteed to be White, I feel like they’re not only obnoxious SWPLs, but race traitors as well. Damn it, dude, you’re a White man — careening through four lanes of traffic with no signal, only to blow through a red light with naught but a middle finger for the six-car pileup you just caused, that’s for fucking wogs.

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The Passive-Aggressive Society

I’ve always hated brown-nosers, apple-polishers, call them what you will. Their constant whine — “Will this be on the test?” “Will this be on the test?” “Will THIS be on the test?” — is like a dental drill in my brain. Back when The Simpsons was still kinda funny, Lisa was one of those kids — in one episode, the teachers go on strike, and she ends up begging her Mom for a grade on something, anything:

Grade me…look at me…evaluate and rank me! Oh, I’m good, good, good, and oh so smart! Grade me!

Now, I don’t want to make any false representations. I was no teenage rebel. The only reason I know what those kids are like is because I was in all the same classes  — draw your own conclusions as to my likely behavior from that. I jumped through all the hoops, same as they did… but I never could shake the feeling that hoop-jumping was all it was. I got no thrill of victory from scoring the highest out of all my classmates on the English Lit AP exam; nor was I crushed when they all went off to take the Calculus AP and I had to go hang out in the library for a few hours. I’m sure that shit impressed the early decision committee at Berkeley, but… who cares? I mean, obviously they cared, but why?

Superiority at ass-kissing and rule-following is a petty, sour kind of superiority, but apparently lots of people disagree.

What got me thinking about this is my search for a new term to cover a pervasive behavioral pattern. I put “passive-aggressive” in the title, and that’s what I’ve been using in lieu of a better term, but that doesn’t really cut it. Here’s the “official” definition of “passive-aggressive:”

Passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by a pattern of passive hostility and an avoidance of direct communication. Inaction where some action is socially customary is a typical passive-aggressive strategy (showing up late for functions, staying silent when a response is expected). Such behavior is sometimes protested by associates, evoking exasperation or confusion. People who are recipients of passive-aggressive behavior may experience anxiety due to the discordance between what they perceive and what the perpetrator is saying.

There’s definitely a lot of that going around, but it doesn’t describe the behavior of the apple polishers, or the people who have issued themselves the Asshole License. You know the ones I mean: SJWs, of course, but also CrossFitters, vegans, cyclists… basically, anyone who takes up a certain cause or lifestyle seemingly for the sole purpose of being an enormous douchebag about it in every possible social situation. Neither I nor anyone else would have a problem with vegans, say, if they really were doing it for their health, as they so often claim, because if they really were doing it for their health, they’d bring it up once, and then forever shut the fuck up about it.

But they don’t. Similarly, nobody would have a problem with bike riders if they’d just follow the goddamn rules of the road. But they don’t, and the more “cyclist” shit they own — the racing bikes made out of space station parts, the lycra bodysuits, the helmets that look like cranial jockstraps — the less the rules of the road apply to them. Spot one of those fuckers in full kit, and you’re guaranteed to see him weaving in and out of four lanes, turning abruptly without signaling, and blowing through stop signs at full speed, with nary a glance at cross traffic. They’re possessors of the Asshole License First Class, you see, so obviously the rules don’t apply when they’re doing their Official Asshole Thing.

See what I mean? That’s not “passive-aggressive.” But it’s not “active-aggressive” either. They’re not trying to pick a fight. It’s like virtue-signaling, in that you, the audience, are absolutely necessary, but unlike the standard virtue-signal, which is strictly an intra-Leftist competition, this one entails hostility towards the rest of the world, not just toward fellow Leftists…

I don’t think that’s very clear, so maybe a counterexample will help. Serious weightlifting, for the most part, doesn’t come with an Asshole License, even though a serious weightlifter is far more likely than a serious vegan to be able to back it up should his assholery ever get called. I’m not denying that gym bros exist, but “gym bro” is a tightly contained subculture; they only pull that shit with other gym bros. They’re almost entirely absent from the workplace, and if they try to pull it, they get shunned in a way vegans, cyclists, etc. just… don’t, despite the fact that the latter are way more obnoxious to far more people (anyone who doesn’t get to the office before the crack of dawn now has to park six blocks over, or on the garage roof in the baking heat, because all the ground floor spaces got taken out to put in a zillion fucking bike racks. Thanks, dickheads).

Nor is it confined to fitness or diet, this “passive-aggressive” thing I’m trying to name. Consider the middle-aged SWPL lady who puts one of those “my broomstick is in the shop” bumper stickers on her SUV. Or the wall-adjacent SWPL mom who runs around in a neon-lettered t-shirt that reads “neurodivergent,” and lets her kids wear t-shirts that say things like “you suck!” (over the Nike swoosh, natch, for the boys) or “don’t even bother” (in princess pink, for the girls). Wiki suggests this could best be labelled “catty” — “deliberate, active, but carefully veiled hostile acts which are distinctively different in character from the non-assertive style of passive resistance” — but I’m not sure that covers it….

…but I know it’s growing increasingly prevalent. Any thoughts?

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Friday Mailbag / Grab Bag

Damn Deeboe, etc.*

From Red:

The events of the year are giving me a weird 1989/1990 vibe. Just saw “Biden Is Weak” spray painted in huge letters on the back of a Semi Trailer and it reminded me of the grafitti on the Berlin wall just before it fell. Is Joe our Regime’s version of Gorbachev and like the Soviets we just can’t see it yet?

God willing, but I doubt it. The thing that really brought the Soviets down, the thing to which all else ultimately reduces, is: The knowledge of something better. I don’t mean “better” in some goopy, flag-sucking way — more “freedom” or “democracy” or whatnot. I mean stuff like “more than one pair of blue jeans, that aren’t made in Bulgaria.” Check out what North Korean defectors say they’re taught about life in the West: A few big plutocrats living in huge mansions, while the rest of us live in straw huts, things like that. I know, I know, Soros, Gates, Bezos, et al think that’s a great idea, and are doing their best to make it happen, notwithstanding the fact that no one will be able to afford their products anymore, but hey, if they could see the obvious consequences of their actions, they wouldn’t be Leftists…

…where was I? Oh yeah: Compared to what North Koreans are told about the West, North Korea really is a worker’s paradise. But that only works in a place like North Korea: a tiny peninsula, with an ideological ally on one of its two borders. The Soviets never really could keep their shop closed like that, and after the last of the hard boys died off, new model apparatchiks like Gorbachev couldn’t see the a reason to try. So pretty soon it was well known that the West had better stuff, despite all the regime’s promises, and there goes the no hitter…

We’re still materially very well off. We’re far less materially well off than we were even a decade ago, as a moment’s reflection will prove, but the memory of better times in the past is like the memory of pain: You remember that you hurt, but you can’t remember what the pain actually felt like. Once there’s a materially superior alternative to which we can compare ourselves on a daily basis, that’s when the game’s up for the regime. (Which, again, is what makes the actions of Soros, Bezos, et al so fucking stupid, but — again — if they could see the obvious consequences of their actions, they wouldn’t be Leftists).

From Baltbuc:

Over at isegoria, he discusses a book called Why Students Don’t Like School. There are 7 principles. Given your background in academia, do you have any thoughts on these? Would you add any other principles? Here they are:

  1. People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers.
  2. Factual knowledge precedes skill.
  3. Memory is the residue of thought.
  4. We understand new things in the context of things we already know.
  5. Proficiency requires practice.
  6. Cognition is fundamentally different early and late in training.
  7. Children are more alike than different in terms of learning.
  8. Intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work.
  9. Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved.

I guess I need to read the book to understand #6. Not quite sure about #7. And, while #8 may be true, I think it’s limited.

This is the kind of question that should probably be a post in itself, but like you, I don’t really understand some of them without the context. So let me just focus on #2, “factual knowledge precedes skill.”

That’s definitely true for mental skills, which I assume are the only ones he’s talking about. I don’t think it holds for purely physical skills — I mean, I know all about how to hit a curveball, theoretically speaking, but I can’t actually do it, because my neurons just don’t fire fast enough. No amount of classroom training is going to change that. But it seems to be true even of skills that are almost entirely physical.

In the football post below, for instance, I mentioned a (black) cornerback named Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s a legitimately smart guy, not just by pro jock standards. For obvious reasons they don’t IQ test football players at the draft**, but being a legit smart guy I bet he would have scored well. The Raiders are among the most brain-dead organizations in football, but for whatever reason they actually used Asomugha the right way. They had him playing some modified zone coverage thing — I’m sure there was some top-secret jargon for it, but I forget — and he shut down that entire side of the field. When he went to Philly, though, the Eagles stuck him in a traditional man cover scheme, and all of a sudden he looked pretty ordinary. That’s because his game was largely mental. Used correctly, his brains were a huge advantage. Used incorrectly, and he’s just another player, no more physically gifted than any other. He was a real “student of the game.”

The more cerebral a task is, the more factual knowledge comes into play. I had a hell of a time getting undergrads to think through even basic history by the end of my career, because they knew nothing. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. They could rattle off the names and (mostly imaginary) accomplishments of every Numinous Negro and Stronk Confident Wahmen this nation has ever produced, but as to stuff like “in which century was the Civil War fought?”, they hadn’t a clue. “Critical thinking” is like building with Legos. At first you’re happy to be able to build a cube; practice some more, and pretty soon you’re recreating the Taj Mahal. Asking your Basic College Girl to do any “critical thinking” with just the “facts” from her high school “education” is like handing her an empty box and saying “build me an exact scale replica of the Taj Mahal with these Legos.” Can’t be done.

A question from texinole, that I’m going to paraphrase more than quote, lest I inadvertently give away some info that he (if that’s how you identify, buddy, we don’t judge) might not want out there:

what would happen to these “free” and cheap services [i.e. platforms like Facebook, which seem to depend solely on ad “revenue”] if the companies who use those services slashed something like 95% of their ad spend.  If the fallout resulted in essentially a price increase for said services it would certainly piss off quite a few end users.  However, since we can agree that we’re in the middle of a massive, generations-spanning ad spending bubble, it occurred to me that a significant component of many consumer GOODS prices are inflated as a result…

In other words, if I’m reading you correctly, what would happen if the marketing guys just acknowledged what everyone seems to know, that ads have no measurable relationship to sales?

First, a brief detour: Even though it’s obvious that marketing doesn’t have any real relationship to revenue, it’s equally obvious that marketing also somehow works. I used to have great fun, for instance, refudiating the Labor Theory of Value. It was always the most fun to pull this on one of the Credit Card Ches and Trust Fund Trotskys that used to infest the ivy-covered walls, but your standard-issue BCG worked almost as well. I’d pick the most primped-out sorority girl in the audience and ask her how much she’d paid for that tight little tank top with the college logo on it.

“Never mind,” I’d say, when she started sputtering — kids still retain the basic sense that it’s gauche to straight up ask a stranger how much their stuff costs, but they have no vocabulary with which to express it — “I’ve been down to the bookstore; I know what it costs. It’s $35.” Then I’d ask her why she didn’t just go to WalMart, pick up a whole pack of plain tank tops (3 for $7) and a magic marker ($1.50) and write “I heart Flyover State” on each one. That’s a total cash outlay of about 3 bucks per shirt, tax included, for three shirts that do the exact same things you bought that $35 shirt to accomplish: showcasing your hooters (I didn’t say that part out loud), and proclaiming your love for Flyover State. That’s something close to a 90% discount! And yet…

“So much for the Labor Theory of Value,” I’d conclude. Sometimes some of them got it, but I’m sure all of y’all did — marketing does work; ask the college bookstore. And yet, it doesn’t work. The ad budget is very real — it’s sitting there on the spreadsheet in blinking neon red — and the revenue numbers are very real, but how the one becomes the other, no one has ever determined. So… why bother? Why not cut the marketing budget — a very real, very large number — to zero, and just, you know, see what happens? You could roll the savings into actually improving the product, or beefing up customer service, or by dropping the price and passing the savings on to the consumer. I doubt even the slickest ad campaign for a $35 tank top would out-sell the exact same tank top priced at $25…

…and yet, nobody does it. But I think we’re going to find out, given that Facebook et al seem determined to drive all but the hardest-core SJW humans (for lack of a better term) from the site… and, as we all know, when there are no more enemies to purge, those SJWs will start purging each other, and the whole thing collapses.

I’m aware that’s not really an answer, but that’s the best I can do right now. Let’s hash it out in the comments.

From Jennifer7084:

It seems like America is the only country in recorded history to actually try to make right past historical wrongs.

Everyone conquered and pillaged. The Egyptians and the Romans nor even the Soviets (at their peak) never apologized and groveled to those they conquered.

Is this accurate?

If we expand “America” to “the West,” generally, then yes, I think so. And it’s baffling, how nobody remarks on how fucking bizarre it is that we even apologize, let alone try to make it right.

The Romans, for one, admitted all the time that they screwed up… to themselves, in private (what passed for “private” in the ancient world, anyway). A big reason an ambitious man (a redundancy in ancient Rome) wanted to climb the cursus honorum was because that was the easiest way to get a field command, which was the easiest way to start a war with someone, which was the easiest route to riches and glory… provided you didn’t fuck it up. But if you did, the best thing to do was to go down fighting with your legions, because the minute you got back to Rome, there’d be ambitious men (again: redundant in context) lined up from here to Sicily waiting to prosecute your ass for something, anything — “losing a war” wasn’t a crime in itself, but whatever the official charge (usually “corruption” or “misuse of public funds” or something), everyone knew you were really getting punished for losing.

At no point, however, did the putative justification for war come into play. Picking a war with the Parthians wasn’t bad in itself. Nor was “picking a war with the Parthians because you gots to get paid.” Certainly picking a war with, say, the Gauls wasn’t bad in itself, and “picking a war with the Gauls because I need to capture and sell a few thousand slaves to cover my debts” was so far from being bad, guys like Caesar, if I recall my Gallic Wars correctly, openly declared it from jump street. And though Caesar surely would’ve been prosecuted if he’d lost, and Crassus if he’d lived, suggesting that anyone owed an apology to the Gauls or Parthians would’ve gotten you locked up as a dangerous lunatic.

A confident, manly power might lose a war or two. Hell, they might lose a bunch — the Romans got beat all the time, and so did the British. But no matter how bad the loss, or how embarrassing the peace treaty, they shrugged it off. You win some, you lose some, and when it’s clear you’re going to lose — or when it becomes clear that there’s no possible way “victory” will ever be worth the cost — you cut your losses and came home. HM forces, for instance, lost no less than three wars in Afghanistan. And so what? Great Britain was still the world’s preeminent power. They never even dreamed of apologizing — that’s the Great Game, old sock.

It’s only in this modern, estrogen-drenched age….

I think that’s it for this week, kameraden. Vaya con Dios.

*One of my favorite bits of Romantic poetry comes somewhere in Byron’s “Don Juan,” where he starts a stanza with “Hail muse! etc.” That’s why Byron is the most accessible of the Romantics… and also the most tedious, in his lesser works, which can be painful indeed. He’s got that modern snarky sensibility.

** the “Wonderlic” test is a very crude approximation of an IQ test, developed (I’m pretty sure) at the start of WWII in order to get a quick-and-dirty measure of functional intelligence on huge masses of draftees. They used to publish players’ Wonderlic scores at the NFL Draft combine. I doubt they do that anymore, or even still give it, because — obviously — dat be rayciss. I don’t know what Asomugha’s score was, but I’d bet long money it was high.

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