Recent Inflation

Twelve-month inflation rates. It’s impossible not to notice the trend.

Mar 2020 – Mar 2021:    2.7
Apr 2020 – Apr 2021:        4.2
May 2020 – May 2021:    4.9
June 2020 – June 2021:    5.3
July 2020 – July 2021:    5.3
Aug 2020 – Aug 2021:    5.2
Sept 2020 – Sept 2021:    5.4
Oct 2020 – Oct 2021:        6.2
Nov 2020 – Nov 2021:    6.8
Dec 2020 – Dec 2021:    7.1
Jan 2021 – Jan 2022:        7.5
Feb 2021 – Feb 2022:        7.9
Mar 2021 – Mar 2022:    8.6

Source data: Federal Reserve Economic Data. The are different ways of calculating consumer prices so other sources may give somewhat different results. But the trend is not in doubt.

While I’m on the subject, here’s the price of oil. The current upward trajectory in oil’s price started in April 2020, almost two years before FASCIST NAZI HITLER PUTIN’s!!!! invasion of Ukraine. Yet every Democrat from Biden on down is saying “The rise in oil prices is Putin’s fault.” It’s amazing how freely and unhesitatingly Democrats lie, even about the most easily checkable matters.

The Best Guy Movies

The best guy movies, in no particular order:

The Godfather

The Hunt for Red October

Die Hard – the movie that taught an entire generation to associate Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with automatic weapons fire.

The Terminator – I love a nice feel-good movie where everybody has a good cry at the end.

The Killer – “One vicious hitman. One relentless cop. Ten thousand bullets.”

The Sound of Music – When a young nun’s Mother Superior is brutally murdered by drug runners, she trains in a Chinese dojo for ten years and re-makes herself into a inexorable weapon of vengeance. But little does she know, the leader of the gang who killed her boss is actually her own long-lost sister. While feminists hated the girl-on-girl sex scene that takes place in a Beijing opium den, audiences in general loved the film. And who can forget the wacky car chase in Vienna, set to snappy banjo music? Filled with breathtaking action scenes, eye-popping effects, and intense family drama, this film set a new standard for action movies.

Desperado – “He came back to take revenge on someone. Anyone. Everyone.” Don’t see this flick with your woman, because there’s no way you’re going to match the deadly rebel bad boy musician cred of Antonio Banderas in this. Unless you’re a guitarist whose former girlfriend was killed by (wait for it) drug runners and you now obsessively pursue revenge, with no thought for consequences to the rest of the world, with the help of a guitar case full of firearms and grenades.

    Criticism: They couldn’t find a hotter brunette than Salma Hayek? Really?

Weekend at Bernie’s – fuck me, this movie is hilarious. Given the ridiculous premise, it really is funnier than it has any right to be. This may actually be the funniest movie I’ve ever seen (narrowly beating out Schindler’s List).

Probably you could make a case for some Bond movie, but of course Bond movies are often campy and over-the-top. In the Roger Moore era, quite deliberately so. What’s the best Bond movie? Starfall? Goldeneye? (I remember the Russian chick in Goldeneye as being pretty hot. Say it with me: Nataaaaaaallllllya.)

To be serious…

Commenter Aidan at https://blog.reaction.la/science/the-spike-protein-is-cytotoxic/:

“You do not have to larp as a dumb thug. Your heritage as a European is smart men who were very good at war. Embracing your masculine love of violence as a high-IQ man feels incredibly good.”

What the first three movies have in common is that, while they certainly have the bang-bang stuff, they are also all significantly cerebral. This is obvious in The Godfather (strategy, bluff, deception) and The Hunt for Red October (strategy, deception, cooperative and non-cooperative game theory), but don’t dismiss Die Hard: it involves a lot of quick thinking by both the hero and the villain. It begins when the shooting starts and McClane has to decide not to go in blazing but to head up several floors and signal for help. In doing this he has to bet that his wife, Takagi, that asshole Ellis, and a couple of other people who know he’s there will all manage to keep their mouths shut. But, a calculated risk.

He finds a fire alarm and pulls it. The bad guys cancel the fire alarm, and then one of them finds McClane and tries to kill him, but McClane kills him and gets his radio and other stuff. (“Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”)

McClane pulls a clever move in the elevator to get some details about the bad guys, then uses the radio to try to get the cops to come. Once he starts radioing the cops, Gruber instantly realizes the best place to transmit is the roof, and sends three guys up to kill McClane. That almost does McClane in right there.

Later, when Gruber is checking the explosives under the roof, McClane happens across him. Gruber and McClane have a game of bluff in which Gruber pretends to be a hostage escaped from a lower floor and McClane pretends to believe him, but he has set things up so that Gruber is tricked into revealing who he is. And of course McClane palms a bullet at a crucial juncture. Finally, there’s the deception McClane uses to dispatch the bad guys at the end.

So yeah, plenty of the fast-twitch muscle stuff, but also lots of lightning-quick thinking by the belligerents.

The Godfather. Ah, so very kick-ass. The pacing is kinda marred by the long intermezzo in Italy, but that’s necessary to set up Michael’s murdered love, which sets up his utterly cold-blooded relationship with his wife later.

The Terminator. Dripping in estrogen, this movie… kidding.

The Hunt for Red October. So very fucking awesome. Is there anything wrong with this movie? At all? Or is it the perfect guy movie? There’s a moment that gives me goose bumps: The Russian sub and the U.S. sub are very near each other, sliding by each other in the water, engines off. Each suspects the other is there, so the captains order their crews to be quiet. It’s a moment filled with tension of course. As this happens we hear, in voice-over, the Russian sub captain, Ramius: “Forty years I’ve been at sea. A war at sea. A war with no battles, no monuments… only casualties.” We hear this as we see the men in the subs, as quiet and still as statues, knowing that an accidental clang of a coffee cup against the hull could spell their deaths. And over this, Ramius summing up the long, unacknowledged submarine standoff that went on for decades during the Cold War. Makes the hair on my arms stand up just thinking about it. Damn, but this is a good movie.

“My god is stronger than your god!”

Severian at Founding Questions has recently been thinking about Julian Jaynes’s “bicameral mind” theory. Halfway through the book I’ve decided I’m not a fan of Jaynes – his logical leaps based on irrelevant evidence can be quite, er, impressive. But as he notes, his theory has different parts, and some may be sorta true for some people even if other aspects are completely false. One part is that people in olden times used to hallucinate voices which they interpreted as instructions from gods or kings.

This part could apply in particular to leftists, by which I mean street-level leftists (not the leadership). Leftists were hit with the tag “NPC”— “non-player character”— for a reason. They can’t think, they have no desire to think, they don’t even know what thinking is. They just look around for authority to obey.

(Women are particularly notorious for this, among red-pilled men, but it’s a general phenomenon on the left.)

Leftists only care about which god/king is the strongest, and which god/king is the strongest is decided by which one has more adherents.

(Or perhaps it’s power-weighted adherents that matters. One famous sports star has as much weight as ten regular people, or whatever.)

This certainly could be one way of accounting for leftists’ baffling and infuriating total indifference to fact, truth, common sense, or even internal consistency. They simply don’t care about those things. They’re just looking around for the most powerful god. And the most powerful god is the one whose voice is most powerful. This accounts for the fact that to them, what’s on TV is what matters, pretty much by definition. TV is the voice of the god in modern society. If you’re saying something that’s opposed to TV, you’re opposing the only thing that matters, the voice of Authority. Leftists are utterly baffled by why you’d want to do that.

This is one of the reasons that their opposition to President Trump was so shriekingly disproportionate. Imagine that nothing matters to you but obeying and publicly repeating what Authority says. As long as Harvard, the New York Times, and the President all speak with one voice, no problem. But if Harvard and the New York Times say one thing and the President says the opposite… Disaster! Catastrophe! The end of the world! Two camps, both of indisputable Authority, saying opposite things! You don’t know whom to obey! This is what leftists have in place of cognitive dissonance. And it’s agonizing for them. Hypocrisy obviously does not bother them in the least. Saying that white people who flee black neighborhoods are evil, while being a white person fleeing a black neighborhood, doesn’t even register with them. But not knowing who to obey, that is the worst emotional and intellectual torture that it is possible for them to experience. And yet… of course they know that really it was Trump who was out of step with True Authority: He disagreed with what “journalists” and college professors said! That is literally the most heretical of all possible heresies! But still, the Presidency is nevertheless very real, undeniably important and valid Authority. Anything to stop this pain of divided Authority!

This explains the enraging tendency for leftists, noted by pretty much every person on the right, to be utterly immune to fact and logic 99% of the time… and if you do, miraculously, manage to wrest a concession about some issue from them, the next time you see them they’ll have done a complete memory wipe of the debate and tell you they kicked your ass in that debate. All the facts, logic, reason, arguments that you marshaled will have been forgotten, absolutely forgotten. Why? And how? Simple: They don’t actually care about any of those things. The voice of Authority is telling them something different from what you proved yesterday, ergo you cannot have proved it.

Today you get one of them to admit that, say, government policies were the preponderant cause of the mortgage bubble and collapse of circa 2008. “Thank God!” you think. “That took seven hours of debate but at least I made a tiny dent in leftism.” But lo and behold! When you see him the next day he tells you that you proved no such thing and that the mortgage collapse was entirely caused by greedy white male capitalist loan officers. He totally denies everything that he conceded less than 24 hours before, to an utterly shameless extent that would be gaslighting if he were doing it on purpose. But that’s not really what’s going on; he’s not thinking “Bwah ha ha; I shall now gaslight this person.” What’s going on is that within 5 seconds of leaving your presence he reboots and reinstalls the Official Party Line of Authority, and the Official Party Line of Authority is that the mortgage meltdown was caused by greedy white male capitalist loan officers.

(If he’s not totally goodthinkful leftist— that is, if facts sorta enter his head, in a dim way, once or twice a year— the rebooting may require that he hop onto the Net and read a sentence or two of some Op-Ed that appeared on CNN’s web site, which reminds him of what Authority’s official position is.)

Authority’s official position is a substitute for the truth in his little leftist NPC mind. It is isomorphic to the truth in the NPC mental topology. We have truth; they have “what Authority says.”

Authority’s Official Party Line is not necessarily truth— which does not exist in any important sense in the leftist mind— rather, Authority’s Official Party Line is What We Are Saying. What We Say is what Authority Says. Repeating What Authority Says is What We Do and the truth of the claims assertions propositions strings of words is not even a question that it occurs to leftists to ask, let alone care about.

We have truth; leftists have What Authority Says.

An example. Remember when you got up this morning. Think about the shirt you’re wearing now (shirt, dress, blouse, whatever). Remember how, before you put it on, you counted every thread in it to make sure that it doesn’t have a prime number of threads? Wait, what? You didn’t do that? It didn’t even OCCUR to you to do that? The thought never even entered your head? That’s how leftists are about the truth of the claims wordstrings they repeat. It literally never enters their heads to care whether they’re true or not. If they think about it at all, they think WE’RE the weird ones because we care about truth!

This also accounts for the bizarre leftist tactic in debate of saying “No one else agrees with you.” To them this is a devastating nuclear bomb. They expect you to be crushed. Or at least to care. That we brush it off and go on talking about facts probably baffles and frustrates them as much as their total indifference to facts baffles and frustrates us.

So we won’t make progress in defeating the broad mass of the leftist cadre until we take over the educational system and the media. Yikes. That’s not going to happen short of a no-foolin’ civil war. Luckily— “luckily,” snort— the left is bumbling us into one with their insanity and hysterical refusal to compromise about anything ever. Also, the domestic situation will be shaken up enormously, natch, if we get involved with a war with Russia, the world’s largest nuclear power. And that could happen if our insane NPCs don’t back off. And so far they’re refusing to back off…

Does God Have Free Will?

Just spit-balling here because I think it’s fun to think about. Consider:

In Larry Niven’s Known Space series of novels and short stories there’s a super-intelligent race of aliens who are related to humans. Earth is a colony of theirs, given up as lost long ago. They’re called the Pak, and their life cycle has three stages: child, breeder, and protector. The child and breeder stages are essentially animals. The protector stage is significantly more intelligent than human.

A protector has only one drive, to protect the child- and breeder-stage individuals related to him/her. (Actually the him/her thing is irrelevant since protectors don’t have sex organs.) The drive is irresistible, consuming. There’s a lot of warfare on the Pak home planet. The life of a protector is adversarial game theory played with other protectors of his family and clan against other protector families and clans. Alliances are temporary; they last only until one camp sees an advantage in defection.

I mentioned that the Pak race is related to humans. Proceeding to the protector stage involves eating a certain plant that grows on the Pak home planet but not Earth…until a protector with some of the plant shows up in the Sol system. When a human, a guy named Brennan, is captured by the protector he eats some of the plant and turns protector. They start talking about various plans, e.g. how to exterminate the Martians (potential threat to humans), etc. Brennan is talking about this later with a couple of humans (page 89 in my paperback copy):

“He [the original protector] was giving me orders just as if I were a voice-box computer. I was about to ask, ‘Don’t I get any choices at all?’ And I didn’t.”

“I don’t follow,” said Garner.

“I didn’t get any choices. I was too intelligent. It’s been that way ever since I woke up. I get answers before I can finish formulating the question. If I always see the best answer, then where’s my choice? Where’s my free will?”

And later, on page 217: There is little of free will for a protector.

Now for a mortal being the idea of the one right answer is fanciful, since the universe is a huge complicated place and there’s way too much uncertainty to reasonably speak of “the one right answer” much of the time. (Example: Should you choose the action that gives a 70% probability of survival for 80 of your descendants, or one that implies a 80% probability of survival for 50 of them?)

But for God, who knows literally everything, and is perfectly good…does He have free will? Does he really have any choice about what He does?

An observable characteristic of p-zombies

In case you’re not familiar with this concept: p-zombies is short for philosophical zombies. This does not mean zombies who are interested in Aristotle. It means biological robots who are human in every respect except that they have no consciousness. They are not self-aware, just very sophisticated robots made out of flesh. The concept is used in philosophy, neuroscience, etc. as a foil for thinking about consciousness.

The standard view of p-zombies is that they’d be observationally indistinguishable from humans as we know them. This is because, if we take a purely materialist view of consciousness, consciousness does not actually do anything; it’s just “along for the ride” as they say. All the neural structures that support cognition can do so without requiring that there be any subjectivity involved. (That’s one theory, anyway.) So p-zombies would talk, laugh, do mathematics, have sex, fight, etc. There just wouldn’t be anybody home inside their skulls.

But I was thinking about this recently because I’ve been reading Jaynes’s Bicameral Mind (due to the fact that Severian at Founding Questions has been talking about it). And it occurred to me…

There is something normal humans do that p-zombies wouldn’t: Talk about consciousness. P-zombies can talk about anything that’s empirically observable in the classic positivist sense of observable, e.g. they can say “red” when electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength hits their eyes. But there is no consciousness in a world of p-zombies. There’s nothing for them to observe, no empirical phenomenon to provoke any kind of response from their nervous systems. No talk about consciousness could occur on a planet inhabited by such beings.

If, by assumption, there is no consciousness, then there is no analogue of “light of a certain wavelength” for p-zombies’ nervous systems to respond to.

This is not like saying that p-zombies couldn’t talk about centaurs because centaurs don’t exist. Sure they could; they could combine the ideas of horse and a person. But a notable feature of consciousness is that it’s not observable (in a classical positivist sense). Consciousness is not like centaurs.

(Consciousness is sui generis; that’s why there’s a philosophical and scientific problem of consciousness but no philosophical and scientific problem of centaurs.)

The situation is fragile, though. A planet inhabited by nothing but p-zombies could never invent the term “consciousness,” but it would only take one normal human to exist and start saying things like “I have a subjective consciousness” to get the p-zombies to start uttering similar sentences by imitation. So the very existence of word-concepts like “consciousness” is proof that somewhere, somewhen, there has been at least one self-aware human. Paraphrasing Heinlein from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: “Are humans self-aware? Well, I don’t know about you, tovarisch, but…”

Unexpected Admissions from the Media

March – early April 2022 we’re seeing some surprising admissions from the media: First they— including the New York Times and Washington Post— admit that the Hunter Biden story was legit. Here’s the New York Post discussing the other papers’ motives for acknowledging the story: https://nypost.com/2022/04/01/new-york-times-finally-admit-hunters-laptop-is-real-but-only-to-protect-joe-biden/

Then the Clinton campaign gets fined by the Federal Election Commission for electoral violations regarding the fake Steele dossier… and the media reports this!

From an article by Eric Tucker, Associated Press, circa March 20, 2022. Oligarchs drop their lawsuit over Trump dossier. (There’s that word “oligarchs” again. Empirically, it means: A rich person who’s a citizen of a country we’re currently doing a two-minute hate on.) There are a few interesting admissions in this article, all within one paragraph:

The Steele dossier has been largely discredited since its publication, with core aspects of the material exposed as unsupported and unproven rumors. A special counsel assigned to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe has charged one of Steele’s sources for the dossier with lying to the FBI, and has also charged a cybersecurity lawyer who worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting in which he relayed concerns about Alfa Bank.

Here’s another piece, by Jill Colvin of the Associated Press, March 31, 2022: DNC, Clinton campaign agree to Steele dossier funding fine:

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee have agreed to pay $113,000 to settle a Federal Election Commission investigation into whether they violated campaign finance law by misreporting spending on research that eventually became the infamous Steele dossier…

Documents have shown the FBI invested significant resources attempting to corroborate the dossier and relied substantially on it to obtain surveillance warrants targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

But the dossier has been largely discredited since its publication, with core aspects of the material exposed as unsupported and unproven rumors. A special counsel assigned to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe charged one of Steele’s sources with lying to the FBI and charged a cybersecurity lawyer who worked for Clinton’s campaign with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting in which he relayed concerns about the Russia-based Alfa Bank.

What the hell is going on?

If you were naive you’d say, “The truth has to come out sooner or later, and for the left this is a good time to release it, because we’re now well after the time the 2020 election can be contested, and well before the 2024 election, and everybody is currently distracted by the Russia-Ukraine thing.” But that’s wrong because no, the truth does not have to come out sooner or later, not in the minds of the NPCs who are the media’s main target audience. The media doesn’t “have to” admit anything ever.

This isn’t, say, 1999, when the Internet was big enough to affect our politics and hadn’t yet been corralled into controlled spaces like Twitter, etc.

So I have three guesses hypotheses. They all involve a ramping up of factional war within the left. One hypothesis is that first some anti-Biden faction struck at the Biden faction by reviving the Hunter Biden story. Then the Biden camp, believing— rightly or wrongly— that the Clinton camp did that, struck at the Clinton camp by spreading the news that the Steele dossier was bullshit and that the Clinton camp has been fined for it.

My second hypothesis is that this is an anti-white faction within the left striking out at both the Clinton camp and the Biden camp to hasten the demise of white influence within the Democratic party.

Or maybe it’s the Kamala Harris faction— there is a Kamala Harris faction, I guess?— getting potentially inconvenient Dems out of her way for Her Turn.

Or maybe something else. But this definitely smells like intra-left fighting to me.

As I’ve remarked before, We now read the news like the citizens of the Soviet Union read their news.

Those of us with a clue do, anyway. One reads that the FEC has fined Clinton and asks, “How the fuck did THAT story get approved for publication? Who has both the power and motivation to do that?”

(Postscript: Kamala Harris getting the Big Prize would be very, very, very, very bad. But there would be a tiny silver lining, the smallest possible silver lining, a “quantum of solace,” if I may swipe a phrase from a Bond flick: Watching Hillary Clinton’s head explode literally, yes literally, like in that movie Scanners from decades ago, when some female other than Herself Clinton becomes the first woman President. Imagine Hillary seething with rage at that election result! I really hope that Harris never gets the Presidency (just saying it is scary). But if she does, God forbid, I hope she invites the Clintons to the inauguration.)

Miscellany 28: You want Miscellany? You can’t HANDLE the Miscellany!

(1) LOL, Francis “The End of History” Fukuyama is still trying to win the “World’s Wrongest Historian” Award. Fukuyama predicted circa 1990 that history had essentially ended with the collapse of communism. From then on, he argued, it would just be bourgeois liberal democracy as everyone in the world chilled out and watched the balance in their 401K plans rise. Actually there was a historical moment when this looked plausible; I remember it. It lasted from the time Germans knocked down the Berlin Wall with sledgehammers on live TV in late 1989 until some time in the 1990s when it became more obvious that Muslims were getting stabby and shooty again. (Or maybe Muslims didn’t change and we just had more time to pay attention to them once communism was gone.) IIRC, Fukayama did acknowledge that the Muslim thing might be a speedbump on the way to Nietzsche’s Last Man.

Now Fukuyama is at it again, and this time he doesn’t have the excuse of speaking at a once-in-a-generation historical moment. Now he’s saying that the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is a disaster for Russia, that it has already failed, etc. Here he is (Via https://voxday.net/2022/03/12/the-end-of-putin/)

“Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine.” LOL.

“The collapse of their position could be sudden and catastrophic, rather than happening slowly through a war of attrition.” I don’t know if Fukuyama’s a lefty, but here he’s trying the standard lefty trick of sneaking the idea he wants to install in your brain under the radar by simply assuming it. Note he doesn’t explicitly say that Russia inevitably will be defeated; he simply words his assertion as if it were universally agreed-upon that Russia will suffer a defeat and the only question is the one of its speed. A slimy technique.

“The Biden administration’s decisions not to declare a no-fly zone or help transfer Polish MiGs were both good ones… It is much better to have the Ukrainians defeat the Russians on their own…” That’s the spirit, Francis!

“Putin will not survive the defeat of his army.” Demented. It’s hard to believe anyone could be this honestly delusional; it seems more likely that it’s deliberate agitprop.

But if you think Fukuyama’s foregoing statement is detached from reality, feast your eyes on this:

“Hopefully Taiwan itself will wake up as to the need to prepare to fight as the Ukrainians have done, and restore conscription. Let’s not be prematurely defeatist.” Sheer lunacy. Taiwan is going to defeat mainland China’s military by use of… the draft! Yeah, that’ll do it!

Utterly insulated from reality. Stark barking mad.

(2) “Pregnant Lesbians” update: In an earlier post I wrote about a Leigh Bardugo novel in which more than half the main characters were homo- or bi-sexual. Quoting myself: “The Williams Institute at UCLA is a gay and lesbian think tank. In 2011 they released a study claiming that 3.5% of American adults identify as homosexual or bisexual. (A little over half of those are people, mostly women, who identify as bi.) And since this is a gay think tank, they have an incentive to exaggerate the number.”

Here’s Theodore Dalrymple, March 4, 2022, at Taki’s Magazine:

“According to a Gallup poll, the percentage of the American population that now “identifies” as LGBTQ+ has doubled by comparison with ten years ago, and now stands at 7.1 percent. Among the youngest cohort polled, it was over 20 percent.”

(Via Founding Questions: https://foundingquestions.wordpress.com/2022/03/05/honorary-blackness/)

Gosh, maybe, just maybe, this might have something to do with the fact that being gay or bi now provides one with protection from accusations of bigotry, oppression, etc. “You can’t accuse me of oppression! I’m a member of a marginalized community!”

In a related note, back in 2020-21, when the COVID thing shut down many a school, a bunch of girls who had identified as “trans boys” suddenly de-identified and went back to being girls. There were several stories on this about a year ago; here’s the first one I could find: https://4w.pub/social-media-trends-indicate-rise-in-gender-detransition-during-covid-19-lockdown/

That is, once they were no longer in a social environment in which the trans thing was rewarded, they were like, “Oh, fuck this.”

In one school district, “there were nine girls in year 9, out of a group of about 160 students, who identified as boys. Of this number, seven have already confirmed that they do not require any further ‘gender confirmation measures’ from the school and are now reidentified as girls.” And another is said to be considering detransitioning.

A Reddit snippet via the foregoing link:

“I detransitioned over the lockdown period and think that the loss of constant positive affirmation of my transmale identity by friends/strangers definitely contributed to me realising that my transition was more tied to outside influences than I previously realised. When I was around others I was constantly praised and looked up to for being trans – being alone helped me uncover and look into that feeling of ‘wrongness’ that’d started to nag at me since permanent T changes had began.”

Econo-nerds, file under: The role of incentives.

(3) If you’re wondering what’s going on with the Red Pill in Fiction series don’t worry; I haven’t put it to bed. I just need time and a sufficiently interesting and cheesy piece of chick lit to work with. Meanwhile I just finished Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the 2009 mashup of Pride and Prejudice with zombie horror. It’s actually not bad. It would have been easy to get too repetitive with the central idea— “Pride and Prejudice with…ZOMBIES!!!”— and that would have become dreary in about two pages. But Seth Grahame-Smith, who is Jane Austen’s “co-author” here, mostly manages to dodge that danger. He fleshes out the world with references to training in Oriental dojos, dates to get together over the weekend “to shoot the first zombies of autumn” (LOL), etc.

This is well illustrated by a comparison of some dialogue from the original with its mutated version in the mashup. In my post on Pride and Prejudice I noted this bit of snowflaking dialogue from when Elizabeth and Darcy get engaged near the novel’s end: She says to him,

“Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?”

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.”

“You may as well call it impertinence at once… The fact is, you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I aroused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them… You thoroughly despised the persons who so assidiously courted you.”

In the mashup that last paragraph comes out like this:

“You were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I aroused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. I knew the joy of standing over a vanquished foe; of painting my face and arms with their blood, yet warm, and screaming to the heavens— begging, nay daring, God to send me more enemies to kill. The gentle ladies who so assidiously courted you knew nothing of this joy, and therefore, could never offer you true happiness.”

And earlier we get a katana fight between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine, the outrageously arrogant busybody who presumes to tell other people whom they’re “allowed” to marry. From the first time those two meet we know they’re going to go at each other with blade weapons sooner or later. The only annoying thing is that Elizabeth, having disarmed Lady Catherine, declines to kill her. (Lady Catherine is Darcy’s aunt, and Elizabeth fears that killing her might annoy him.) If the bitch had attacked me I would have capped her off.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for some light reading and your sensibilities aren’t too delicate— you can’t mind seeing ninjas desemboweled and strangled to death with their own intestines, etc.— give this a look.

(4) Speaking of violent conflict: The Saker February 23, 2022:

Remember these famous words by Putin: “Fifty years ago, the streets of Leningrad taught me one thing: If a fight’s inevitable, you must strike first.”

Via VD at https://voxday.net/2022/02/24/the-saker-was-right/

(5) Good news file: Jussie Smollett gets 150 days in the clink for his hoax:

Sweet. Not only does he deserve this, and worse, let’s hope this will be shouted far and wide and give other potential hoaxers pause.

Via https://onesubjectnotebook.wordpress.com/2022/03/13/sunday-morning-coffee-03-13-2022/

(6) Very nice: When Wokes = Racists.

Yeah I know, it’s “Leftists R the real racists” rhetoric, but this one is funny. And quite pointed.

Via the Dark Herald at https://arkhavencomics.com/2022/02/04/blogs-and-ends-the-nigel-kneale-edition/

(7) I expect the assholes of the left to make up stupid nonsense words like “whataboutism” to try to avoid being called out on their hypocrisy, but it annoyed me when the normally sensible Malcolm Pollack at Motus Mentis did it in the comments of his blog in the run-up to the 2020 election.

“So while I understand the attraction of this sort of ‘whataboutism’, it really wasn’t the point here. For those who dislike Trump for his style, perhaps to the point of not voting for him, it does no good to point out the (glaringly obvious) character flaws of his predecessors. If you are to win over those wavering hearts, you must acknowledge their objections and show them that the stakes are too high to fuss about such things.”

My goal isn’t to call Pollack out; it’s just that this gives me an opportunity to get on my soap box about a pet peeve of mine: “Whataboutism”— philosophy dweebs call it the tu quoque fallacy— is rarely actually a fallacy. And this is especially true with the context of Pollack’s remark, which was about Presidential elections. If we only have a realistic choice between two candidates— which is always the case in the modern era— then one candidate’s flaws are irrelevant except in the light of the other candidate’s flaws. So if Candidate A has been arrested for shoplifting once, it is perfectly legitimate, relevant, valid, and important to mention that Candidate B has been arrested for shoplifting twice. We only have those two options!

(8) Since we’re heading into civil war:

 Commenter Aidan at https://blog.reaction.la/science/the-spike-protein-is-cytotoxic/:

“You do not have to larp as a dumb thug. Your heritage as a European is smart men who were very good at war. Embracing your masculine love of violence as a high-IQ man feels incredibly good. You are going to have much more success with women within your IQ communications range anyway, so might as well learn to live with it. Go for smartiepants girls, and get yourself a group of male friends.”

Intellectual chicks are also better in bed, in my experience. My hypothesis from college: They spend so much time cooped up in the library that they need a way to cut loose.

“I Fucking Love Science!”

(1) People who fancy themselves “rationalists” or “lovers of science,” or, to use an older and now dorky-sounding term, “secular humanists,” wanted to join a community of rational people who would get everything right. Or at least, they’d get everything rightER over time, because they were committed to the right methods—logic, the scientific method, etc.—and that’s what matters, yes? Their notion was “We’ll shed horrors of the past like (literal) witch hunts based on ignorant religious beliefs” and they’d obtain all the benefits of keeping up with the latest discoveries in nutrition, etc. And— whether they admitted this to themselves on a conscious level or not— at the same time they’d receive the emotional and social benefits of joining a church. And all this while exorcizing the demons of irrationality! Awesome!

But that’s not what happens. What happens is that the minnow swallows the whale. What happens is that humans are humans, and so the demons of irrationality assimilate the “rationalistic pursuit of truth” so that that becomes just another empty slogan. The slogan is more-or-less immediately turned toward vicious witch hunts.

Instead of pointing at people and screaming Witch! “scientific rationalists” now point at them and scream Mask denier!

This may require some reminders about rhetoric from February and March 2020 which turned out to be politically inconvenient and so has been memory-holed. In case you’ve forgotten: In February and March 2020 the standard leftist line on masks was that masks were somehow a fascist plot of then-president Trump. The argument was never made coherent, but the basic structure was clear:

1. Trump might support masking.

2. ?

3. Therefore, Fascism.

Soon after that the left executed one of its impressively disciplined U-turns, from declaring on date X that anyone who supported masking was a fascist to declaring on date X+2 that anyone who did not support masking was a fascist.

My point: If any of these people who claimed “I fucking love science!” actually cared about science they would have taken to heart the traditional rhetoric of science, which declares that all knowledge is provisional, subject to future revision, etc. (Whether this is literally always true doesn’t matter; it’s true at least a large fraction of the time.) Thus they would have been less quick to accuse pro-maskers of being Trumpian fascists in February 2020, and would have been hesitant about declaring anti-maskers to be Trumpian fascists in April.

Which episode demonstrates that…

If you make science your religion substitute you don’t get a “rational belief system.” You get all the worst aspects of religion assimilating the intended rationality.

Why the worst? (Why not the best?) Because traditional religions have been around for hundreds or thousands of years and (a) have had their most destructive moral fires burn out long ago, and (b) have learned certain lessons about real-world humans over time. Thus they’ve accumulated brake pedals, negative feedback mechanisms, procedures for cooling down excessively fervent new converts, etc. New religions, whether of “pure reason” or Marxism, etc., don’t have any of that. They’re pure moralistic assholery, which is why they do things like murder people by the tens of millions in the name of peace and enlightenment.

You cannot have a religion, or religion substitute, based on science or rationality.

Fundamentally, trying to have a religion based on (the search for) pure truth is a category mistake: It’s like expecting that taking a music class will give you big muscles or that lifting weights will teach you about music. And that category mistake, in which all that happens is that your hopes are disappointed, is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is worse, oh so much worse. See: the French Revolution, the entire twentieth century, etc., etc.

(2) Suppose you could get people to take the pursuit of truth seriously. Humans being humans, a holiness spiral would start on that, sooner or later. (Translation: Sooner.)

Think you can’t holiness spiral on the value of truth?

You work in the lab searching for truth 17 hours a day. I say everyone should be forced to work in the lab 18 hours per day!

You only found the mass of the electron out to 11 decimal places! I say we should never rest until we’ve figured it out to 12 decimal places! A thousand decimal places!

Etc.

(3) A certain amount of social coordination might require some false statements. I’m not sure about this; it’s just a hypothesis.

But suppose it’s snowing out and I say “It’s snowing out.” You say, “Yes, indeed it is.” We’re not doing anything but noting a fact.

Suppose I say, “Snow isn’t white; it’s orange with green polka dots.” If you say “Yup, it sure is,” something else is going on. Plainly we don’t have this exchange to note a fact. I’m basically saying “I’m a member of the Orange Snow Cult” and you’re saying, “Hey, me too!” This is a social function that has nothing to do with sharing observations about empirical reality.

And it’s a really strong signal of shared group membership precisely because its so obviously false.

Comprehension quiz: Why does Catholic doctrine say the bread is actually, literally, not metaphorically the body of Christ? Why is it not an important aspect of Catholic doctrine, or any ideology, that snow is cold? (Explain your answer, 10 points.)

If we’re going to create a world with a sane public ideology/ religion/ cohesiveness-fostering memeplex, we need to consider this aspect of communication verbal behavior. I haven’t yet given up on the idea that a state religion could consist solely of (a) prescriptive statements (“Don’t steal”), (b) empirically true statements (“Snow exists”) and (c) safely meaningless statements (“The Transcendental is infinite.”) But it’s possible that we’re going to need some flagrantly false ones too, to facilitate social cohesion. In fact history rather strongly suggests that’s the case. (Fuck me sideways, but humans are weird.) If it is necessary, then we should devote some thought to blatantly false statements that are harmless. Something like “Snow is orange with green polka dots.”

We’ll have to navigate between a Scylla and Charybdis: We want to avoid statements like “Men and women are equal” that stupid people might take seriously, or evil people might pretend to take seriously. But at the same time, “Snow is orange with green polka dots” plainly won’t do: it’s not nearly grand-sounding enough. We need something that sounds important like “Men and women are equal”—something which, if it were true, would be important. At the same time it can’t actually be important because then it lends itself to being taken seriously and holiness spiraled. On the other hand, “Snow is orange with green polka dots” does not lend itself to being holiness spiraled, because it’s obviously fanciful, but for that very reason it won’t win any hearts and minds. No 17-year-old is going to become a fervent Orange Snower the way they become fervent Christians or Marxists or Objectivists etc. We need something that’s grand-sounding like “The Transcendental is infinite” but less vague. It must sound like it might actually mean something.

In the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series some aliens have a problem. Billions of years ago they created an enormous computer to find the Ultimate Answer, the answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. After calculating for a long time, it comes up with the answer, which is 42. However, it doesn’t know what the question is. The two aliens who are supposed to convey the Ultimate Answer to the rest of their species try to just bluff their way out of this by making up a question.

“The only thing we can do now,” said Benjy, crouching and stroking his whiskers in thought, “is to try and fake a question, invent one that will sound plausible.”

“Difficult,” said Frankie. He thought. “How about, What’s yellow and dangerous?”

Benjy considered this for a moment.

“No, no good,” he said. “Doesn’t fit the answer.”

They sank into silence for a few seconds.

“All right,” said Benjy. “What do you get if you multiply six by seven?”

“No, no, too literal, too factual,” said Frankie, “wouldn’t sustain the punter’s interest.”

Again they thought.

Then Frankie said: “Here’s a thought. How many roads must a man walk down?”

“Ah!” said Benjy. “Aha, now that does sound promising!” He rolled the phrase around a little. “Yes,” he said, “that’s excellent! Sounds very significant without actually tying you down to meaning anything at all. How many roads must a man walk down? Forty-two. Excellent, excellent, that’ll fox ’em. Frankie, baby, we are made!”

We need a “How many roads must a man walk down?” The challenge is that we are not writing comedy SF but trying to design a workable state religion. We must be cynical and not cynical at the same time. We must be cynical because we are trying to design a state religion that will work for actual humans. And we must not be cynical because we’re the good guys and we’re trying to design a state religion that is sane and good.

Well… no one can accuse us of insufficient ambition in our goals!

On Style and Substance

Don’t worry; this isn’t another Moldbug rant.

Occasionally on the Net you’ll come across a blogger or commenter or whatnot who has an excessively florid style of writing. It’s too try-hard. And it got me thinking about style versus substance.

My view:

While it’s not optimal to always be plain-spoken, being plain-spoken should be one’s default setting. This is especially appropriate if you believe you have important points to make.

For example, in a couple of recent posts I took up the topic of why a world with no bad behavior is impossible. (First post (longer) and second post (shorter).) In the second post the only word outside of the standard 1,000-word English vocabulary that I used, as far as I recall, was “equilibrium,” and I used that because it’s unavoidable given the point being made. And it’s not a particularly fancy word.

When should you depart from this default setting? I can think of three circumstances:

1. When the subject matter demands it. For example, I’m not averse to talking about random walk/martingale theory if it’s a basic part of the point I’m making (First random-walk post and second random-walk post.) Same for fixed-point theorems and the Theorem of the Maximum. But I wouldn’t mention those things for no reason. What purpose would be served?

2. Every now and then at random for stylistic variation.

3. Every now and then to preserve or spread a cool or useful word. Spider Robinson, the SF writer, stated that not only is it not a sin for a writer to employ slang and idiom, at least in dialog; it’s arguably a writer’s duty to use them in order to help preserve them. The same point applies to our wonderful English lexicon.

But if you are constantly using words like “otiose” or “heterodyne” in your writing, you should ask yourself if it’s really optimal for spreading your point. Or do you have a point?

If you feel you have something to prove, intellectually, well I’m sorry you’re laboring under that emotional burden. Do you want to emulate an intelligent person for realz? Don’t say “heterodyne.” Rather, try to express yourself about important matters in a way that will convince the maximum number of (reasonably non-moronic) people.

While I’m on the subject, a final tip for aspiring “smart person” emulators: One of the typical features of the smartest people, I’ve noticed, is a sense of humor. Exceptions are rare. Lo, many an absurd thing shall come to pass on this planet inhabited by talking monkeys, and it’s impossible to have two functioning neurons to rub together and fail to notice the absurdity.

Leftists Eaten by Monsters They Created (part of an occasional series)

(Part 1 here.)

Robespierre: “We need a Reign of Terror.” French revolutionaries: “Okay! Au revoir, Robsy!”

Here’s a link at Mises.org of some examples of communists killing leftist intellectuals: https://mises.org/library/revolutions-eat-their-parents

The litany is depressing. Especially for any tenured radical drawing taxpayer money to cheer on the violence. Mao famously boasted of “burying 46,000 scholars alive” meaning he shipped them wholesale to concentration camps so they would shut up and die. Pol Pot’s radical communist movement famously executed intellectuals in the thousands, extending to anybody who wore glasses.

…This gives no pleasure to point out. [LOL, speak for yourself, dude.] None of us want radical leftists hanging from lampposts [that depends; did they assassinate people for having “wrong” politics? Cough Michael Reinoehl, cough], or executed in Che’s office for his entertainment.

LOL, lefties who supported the Castro regime can’t complain if they’re “executed in Che’s office for his entertainment.”

And then there’s Maximilien Robespierre.

Robespierre, a bloodthirsty power-mad leftist, explicitly argued that Louis XVI should not even be allowed the benefit of a trial for his alleged crimes:

Louis was a king, and our republic is established… Louis cannot therefore be judged; he already is judged. He is condemned, or the republic cannot be absolved. To propose to have a trial of Louis XVI, in whatever manner one may, is to retrogress to royal despotism and constitutionality; it is a counter-revolutionary idea… if Louis may still be given a trial, he may be absolved, and innocent. What am I to say? He is presumed to be so until he is judged. But if Louis is absolved, if he may be presumed innocent, what becomes of the revolution?

Note that Robespierre literally argues that Louis shouldn’t get a trial because he might be found innocent. There are few better examples of poetic justice in history, than Robespierre being executed by the revolution of which he was a leader.

It’s particularly delicious in that his execution came after he pulled a U-turn on his opposition to the death penalty for Louis:

As for myself, I abhor the death penalty… the death penalty is in general a crime, unjustifiable by the indestructible principles of nature, except in cases protecting the safety of individuals or the society altogether… But for a king dethroned in the bosom of a revolution, which is as yet cemented only by laws; a king whose name attracts the scourge of war upon a troubled nation; neither prison, nor exile can render his existence inconsequential to public happiness… With regret I pronounce this fatal truth: Louis must die so that the nation may live.

“With regret” my ass. He’s thirsting to see Louis executed.

Note too the recognition that the King was a natural coordination point/Schelling point for a possible counter-revolution. Robespierre lays down a lot of high-falutin’ language about “protecting the safety of society,” but much of what he’s really saying is, “People opposed to our rule might be able to resist our dominance more effectively if this guy is alive, so let’s kill him.”

After the politics of the Revolution escaped his influence, Robespierre, advocate of the Reign of Terror, was arrested and, the next day, executed without trial.

Bonus: There was an attempted Epsteining of Robespierre before his official execution:

Robespierre tried to kill himself with a pistol but managed only to shatter his lower jaw, although some eyewitnesses claimed that Robespierre was shot by Charles-André Merda.

Merda himself claimed to have shot Robespierre, so there would seem to be little doubt about the attempted Epsteining. Some things about the left never change. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

One could add innumerable other examples; Trotsky comes to mind. Maybe I’ll get to him in the future; watch this space!

But let’s get a little closer to home.

2020: Left-wing holiness spiral accelerates: NYT editor pressured into resigning after allowing thoughts his SJW employees don’t like.

For some reason this song comes to mind.

More examples at Reason magazine:

Anyone who still doubts that woke progressives can pose a material threat to the pursuit of truth should consider the case of David Shor. A week ago, as protests over the unjust police killing of George Floyd took place in major cities across the country, Shor—a 28-year-old political scientist at the Democratic consulting firm Civis Analytics—tweeted… research by Princeton University’s Omar Wasow, who has found that violent protests often backfire whereas nonviolent protests are far more likely to succeed. The impulse behind Shor’s tweet was a perfectly liberal one: He feels progressive reforms are more palatable to the public when protesters eschew violence.

But many progressive activists on social media didn’t care whether the impulse was liberal, or even whether it reflected reality. They denounced Shor as a racist for daring to scrutinize the protesters, even if his aim was to make them more effective. One activist accused Shor of using his “anxiety and ‘intellect’ as a vehicle for anti-blackness.” Then she tagged Civis Analytics, and invited the company to “come get your boy.”

Get him, they did. Civis Analytics promptly fired Shor.

Jim of Jim’s Blog has said that one of the reasons he left communism in his youth was that he noticed that “Right-wingers kill their enemies; left-wingers kill their friends.”

Left-wingers kill everybody, very much including other lefties.