Liberalism 5.0

(This post draws upon Professor Mead’s excellent series of essays on the adaptation of liberalism in America.  For background, see here, here, and here.)

Everything’s amazing right now, and nobody’s happy.

Like in my lifetime the changes in the world have been incredible. When I was a kid we had a rotary phone. We had a phone you had to stand next to and you had to dial it, (yes) you know. You know, you ever realize how primitive, you’re making sparks in a phone and you actually would hate people with zeros in their numbers ’cause it was more (right) oh, this guy’s got two zeros, screw that guy, why do I wanna, ugh… and then if, if they called and you weren’t home the phone would just ring lonely by itself. And then when, if you wanted money you had to go in the bank for (yes) when it was open for like three hours. You had to stand in line, write yourself a check like an idiot, and then when you ran outta money you just go, well I can’t do any more things now (yeah, right) I can’t do any more things (that’s it, yeah) that was it. And, and, and even if you had a credit card they, the guy’d go ugh and he’d bring out this whole shunk, shunk and he’d write and he’d have to call the president to see if you had any money…..

There’s a lot of confusion and rancor going on as employment remains in the toilet and Washington DC resembles a WWI battleground.  Some of it is about plain old economics, but a lot of it revolves around deeper questions about who calls the shots, and why.  Our society has grown, but politics and institutions haven’t kept up.  We haven’t even figured out how to really use the Internet yet.  

…and he stil uses a pen! Ohh, how embarrassing!

As Walter Russell Mead puts it:

Politically speaking, America may be the most confused country in the world.  Millions of people in this country are conservatives and even reactionaries who think they are liberals; we have millions more liberals and radicals who call themselves conservative…..

But today the words have been hijacked.  They’ve been turned into their opposites: a liberal today is somebody who wants to defend and restore the Blue Social Model from the last century; a progressive is now somebody who thinks history has gone horribly wrong and that we must turn the clock back to make things better.

Does this really make sense?

In America today, while “liberals” and “progressives” still are sometimes out there on the barricades for some truly liberal and important values, most of what passes for liberal and progressive politics is a conservative reaction against economic and social changes that the left doesn’t like.

The Blue Social Model isn’t doing very well any more, as anybody who pays attention to headlines knows.  California, New York, Illinois, and Michigan have become synonymous with “badly-run economic basketcases.”  California has a rich, well-educated, largely self-segregated elite that doesn’t particularly seem to care that the rest of the state is teetering on fiscal and governance collapse.  Illinois is a budget basketcase, New York is teetering in the same direction as the result of bad budget decisions, its flagship city run by a man of questionable morals and unquestionable patrician disdain for the concerns of those who live there. Michigan is a great place to buy a house for less than a thousand dollars, if you don’t mind that it’s probably been strip-mined for its copper wiring.

Lest the folks on the right be too tempted to crow (which we at Chez Happycrow reserve for our fellow gatherers-of-eyeballs, thank you very much), there’s legitimate argument about how well rural “red America” would be doing without the heavy Ag subsidies that have come to be taken for granted, too.  While Texas’ fiscal discipline and diversification away from dependence on the hydrocarbon boom/bust cycle is clearly paying off, for instance, it’s not all rugged indepence in RedLand, either.

The appetite of red states for federal subsidies mocks the tirades of their politicians against the federal government.  In March 2008, on the verge of the Great Recession, 22 Republican states were net recipients of federal subsidies, while only 10 Democratic-leaning states were. Sixteen blue states were net payers of federal taxes, compared to only one red state, Texas.

While I don’t share the knee-jerk blue-state bigotry which the author contemptibly and casually tosses off, it would equally be a mistake to dismiss the legitimate arguments — Red Model triumphalism isn’t helpful, particularly because many issues in state governance have less to do with partisan politics than with differences in local culture.

Yes, it’s true. Yankees do know better than anybody else. Just ask one.

Now, lest anybody who’s new to the scene be tempted to engage in ad-hominem regarding Professor Mead, let it be said that the man has impeccable credentials as a mainstream, centrist liberal, and his work is regularly recognized as one of the best of contemporary scholars’ voices.  This is not a guy you’re going to hear on AM radio anytime soon.  On the food-chain of deep thinkers, by comparison to Mr. Mead, Yours Truly Happycrow, with only a handful of obscure academic papers to his credit, is plankton.

That said, the plankton is rebelling.

While many ask whether the blue social model has a future, it may be more interesting to ask what kind of future the blue social model offers. Blue opinion leaders and thinkers are serious people who run many of the leading institutions and companies in American life; they are steering these institutions in ways that fit their ideas about where the country is going and what it needs. Those ideas are pretty conventional and mainstream, but the direction toward which they point is disquieting….The people who work in the cutting edge firms, directly or as contractors, will do extremely well and live fascinating lives. But the rest of the country will be cut off from wealth creation.

Mead sees a future dominated by two groups:  the highly-educated, productive elite….and everybody else, who are good only for second-rate artwork and menial tasks, who have been made obsolete by automation and robots.

Those wealthy coastal elites sure look happy,
but it’s getting hard to identify with them.

After a while, this vision of the future starts to look creepy.  But what can you do in the face of an ongoing revolution in technology that says “ANY repetitive task can be automated?”  It’s not just hapless factory workers, either.  Lawyers and white-collar workers are just as vulnerable.

Mead won’t come out and give a solution.  He’s playing it cagey, mostly because he knows that as soon as he even hints at slaughtering the sacred cows, he’ll simply wind up in the middle of mindless partisan football.  So what will Liberalism 5.0, the cooler next version, actually look like?

Well, that’s actually not so hard to describe as Prof. Mead suggests it is.  While many of the specifics will vary, we’re talking about systems.  And human beings are very good at understanding systems.

The entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible.

Or, for those of you whose eyes glaze over at wikipedia quotes and discussions of Malthus, here, talk to the evil dubstep robot.  The current methods are failing:  central banks are pushing on thread trying to spur exports and domestic consumption by printing ever-greater quantities of their currency in a game of “beggar thy neighbor.”  It doesn’t work:  it’s never worked, and the results are predictable:   “as history has shown that without fail what follows hyperinflation, is war.”  It’s a global problem, and one that helped cause the Arab Spring — if you think that Egypt is a mess now, what happens when a largely-illiterate nation plagued with violent radicals can’t afford bread?

Thank God, in the US, we’re nowhere near that.  We’re currently in the step before hyperinflation, which is called “financial repression” — artificially low interest rates to prop up the banks and stock market.  We’ve seen that before, too, and this time isn’t different.  Whether it’s pension spending, Central Bank printing, or various forms of “stimulus” to try to create an economy which can handle the Blue Model Imperative of using the creative and successful to fund those who aren’t… it’s failing, because it’s all a game of make-believe — saying “let’s pretend there’s more available energy in the system, and it’ll be all right.”  But those in governance have got to do something, because the class issue Mead describes is understood in even more dire terms than Mead discusses:

As a wealthy liberal journalist in lower Manhattan once complained to me, “Don’t the conservatives understand that if we cut welfare those people in Harlem will march down here and slit our throats?”

Fortunately for Manhattanite throats, the siege mentality isn’t warranted.  There are ways around the problem.

So is humankind, when it’s at its best.

The first, of course, is to correct the assumption: we’re not in a limited system.  We can expand, and expanding, while it has its own issues, will provide opportunities that beggar the imagination.

TELL me that’s not sexy enough for you to go into space.

But, what about the mean time?  Well.  Progressives take heart, because the revolution is here, and it’s your game:  the game of efficiency.

The Agricultural and Industrial revolutions didn’t enhance the quality of life of millions (while allowing for the survival of billions) by farming space-lettuce.  It did it by reducing the cost of getting things done.  You can do much more, with much less, if you’re efficient, and if you use advanced, clean technologies to do the job (clean is profitable — waste is made of saleable products).  The huge bureacracies of the Blue Social Model are already eroding into something significantly more dynamic:

  • Cities are outsourcing their infrastructure-maintenance needs, including one town that outsourced everything.  It’s not a panacea, but when it’s done right, it makes more services available for less money – a clear win for people who want their government, and want it effective.
  • Outsourced bureacracies, when well-run, will be transparent bureacracies — easier to deal with, and much less prone to systemic corruption.
  • One man and a server can now provide educational material that used to require thousands of people.  And it gets results, too.
  • Individual choice is becoming more widespread, and not surprisingly, is increasingly the choice of the with it and stylish. (Though homeschooling, obviously, assumes that somebody can actually stay home to do it — part of what drives it is that it’s more readily-adoptible as an upscale choice.)
  • Civil bureacracies will be smaller, leaner, and more powerful, just as 21st-century manufacturing is.  Our bureacracies will gradually slim down from the “20th-century brickphone” model to something which is lighter, easier to use, and vastly more powerful.
  • As a sheer matter of political survival, politicians are going to be doing everything they can to “get out of the way” of job creators.  There’s only so long that Blue Land will tolerate Texan derision before they decide that fracking and lower business taxes aren’t that bad, after all.  It will come to places like coastal California dead last, but this is already beginning to occur in Michigan.
  • The “crisis” phase to implement these changes will endure until the vast majority of current civil servants and government-union types have retired, as they have too much invested in the system and have no choice but to fight these changes lock, stock, and barrel.    Removing the “government overhead” that prevents people from hiring will be difficult, especially in places where there’s a lot of it.  If I want to hire a guy who I pay $100 a day, and it costs me $50 a day just having him around, then at rock bottom I have to make 175-200 a day from giving that guy a job, or else it’s not worth going through all the hassle of putting him on the payroll.  This isn’t a Blue Model or Red Model affair — this is math.

The meaningful changes will come from the fringes (especially the libertarian fringe, which takes wild experimentation as a given), but become publicly accepted only once they’re adopted by Team Blue.  Who knew that homeschooling, once the domain of “scary religious people,” would become a hipster win?  And that’s already going on, in what Professor Mead refers to as the Blue Civil War, as various parts of Liberalism 4.0 shake out what has to change along with society, and what can remain.  It will be bitterly-contested, but the writing is already on the wall.

They’re open-minded about it, though.

 But the actual truth is that libertarian types are often Blue Model allies.  While a distinct percentage of small-government types are actually anarcho-capitalists who believe that ALL adult interaction should be voluntary, rather than legislated, many of these folks are simply garden-variety Americans who want to sell whole milk at the farmer’s market, and don’t mind the government at all, if it would just be less intrusive.  They will happily aid in innovations in cases where government assists in protecting and improving personal freedoms and human potential.

The writing is on the wall, and a lot of this is going to come to pass — institutions change to keep up with the societies that use them, period.  The good news, if you’re a Liberalism 4.0 kind of guy is that systemic thinking comes naturally to you guys — you’re good at this.  Once the generational shift in perception happens, most of this will be adopted as a matter of course.  The public at large may bemoan California’s woes, but the Pacific Northwest is every bit as liberal as California is, but doing quite well.

These are amazing times, and really important things are happening.  Liberalism 5.0 is going to be an awesome place, and to paraphrase an old Choctaw lady I know… “screw the good old days: I like my internet.”

Thoughts on Women and the Draft, Freedom Edition

Per her usual fine form, Judgybitch has a real humdinger of a rant this morning, in which she launches the following hypothesis as her daily salvo in the Mommy Wars:

Men have an obligation to die for the State.  If women are to truly be equal, they also have an obligation to the State

  1. the continuation of humanity dictates that women’s responsibility is to bear children…
  2. and those who don’t, but who call for equality can satisfy Duty by being forcibly registered for the Draft, just as men are.

 That’s a fine turnabout contra the sort of woman who engages in Women’s Lib, Heinlein Style:

“Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, “equality” is a disaster.” — Robert Heinlein

….which is to say, the vast majority of modern feminists.  Which is weird, b/c most feminists are pro-female-sexuality, and Heinlein was, too, so that apparently made him a dinosaur of The Patriarchy.

For a sexy secret agent type she’s surprisingly into children and puppies.

For some background, in my history classes I used to cover liberty and equality issues in the rise of the New Left extensively, and when I did so, I often contrasted the founding documents of the National Organization for Women with those of the Redstockings.  Now, over time, NOW became largely indistinguishable, but any literate perusal of these documents demonstrates that they had very, VERY different societies in mind.  Of course, that didn’t last —

NOTICE: This is a historic document, which was adopted at NOW’s first National Conference in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 1966. The words are those of the 1960s, and do not reflect current language or NOW’s current priorities.

But that was inevitable.  If you tried to make this argument from NOW’s founding today, you’d be laughed out of divorce court:

WE REJECT the current assumptions that a man must carry the sole burden of supporting himself, his wife, and family, and that a woman is automatically entitled to lifelong support by a man upon her marriage, or that marriage, home and family are primarily woman’s world and responsibility — hers, to dominate — his to support.

Try that on Home & Garden TV and see how far that gets you.  At the end of the day, the interests of those pursuing equality inevitably wind up being unequal.  Unequal between urban and rural, unequal between upper-middle-class and working-class, unequal between different kinds of women.  We’re not even branching out to the sausage-and-cherries crowd yet (but hold on, that’s coming).  Actual legal equality died, not because it was squished by The Patriarchy, but because, to feminists’ horror, it was opposed by other women.

And one of the reasons it went down in flames was that women didn’t want to be subject to the draft.  As Schlafly said, “foxholes are awful places,” and so are armored troop transports; the realities of war often fall far short of its glorious stereotypes. 

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

Now, I don’t know a lot of folks who think that sounds like a great time on the job, but I’m more sanguine about how women would handle that; our brothers-in-arms are more than capable of looking out for their sisters-in-arms.  Ooorah is a wonderful thing. 

Ready and willing to demonstrate what “hits like a girl” REALLY means.

But having been in a classroom, I’m not surprised by that this was an issue.  My classes were discussion-based, and I used to take a survey about the ERA:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification

Full legal equality would mean absolutely no special priveleges for any sex.   And what happened, time after time after time, is that when the votes came in, most of the men voted for full legal equality.  Most of the women, almost-invariably including those who’d been most gung-ho in approving of the feminist documents we read in class, would vote against.

Equality was great, but being subject to the draft, losing the presumption of custody in divorce, suffering equal prosecution for equivalent crimes (aka, the presumption that woman-on-man violence should be more tolerated than the reverse), etc etc etc, all examples raised by the women voting no, were too precious to give up.

In a nutcase, the problem with being equal is that once you’re equal, you’re no longer special.

In forty-some years of pushing air between my teeth, I’ve yet to meet a single woman who doesn’t want to be special.

That one on the left is a lion tamer! Cool!

And that’s cool.

Where I have to part ways, and part ways HARD with Judgybitch, though, is where she takes this.  Because while her rant  is a lot of fun and has some good nuggets in it, it’s a little bit too close to this for my comfort:

Yeah.  The “etacratic” or statist gender model:  sons must die for the State.  Mothers must provide sons to die for the State (or, be awesome with tractors).  And that comes with problems.

First off, I don’t like the idea that people exist for the state.  I like the idea that people exist for themselves, and that their responsibilities are to each other, not to a government.  But second… what about when the State needs, not Mothers, but Factory Workers?  Well, then it’s not sterility that gets demonized, but living and working in the home.  As a staunch advocate of women having and pursuing choices, Judgybitch isn’t going to like where this leads.  In Russia, it lead to catastrophic population decline.  While the Russians have turned that around lately, it hasn’t been by harping on “duty,” but by providing material incentives and supports for having children.

Meanwhile, we have Selective Service, but the Draft, aka “military slavery,” and it’s not coming back.  Here, again, not surprisingly, I tend to agree with Heinlein:

I also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don’t think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can’t save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say : Let the damned thing go down the drain!

One of the reasons it’s not coming back is that volunteer militaries kick ass.  Even the Russians have finally had to admit this, and are slowly and gradually fumbling towards a way of achieving this (though it’ll go better once they stop hazing their recruits to death).  If there’s one way to watch a birthrate go straight into the toilet, build a society in which people are culturally and intellectually subservient to the State.

Also, they have toilet monsters.

We don’t owe our lives to the State (or to citizenship, its shorthand); our duties as free people are too each other, and those who fail to have children already pay a high price:  extinction. 

If you don’t have kids, you don’t get to shape the mores of the people who come after you.  There’s already a term for this in US social politics:  the Roe Effect.  Pace Levine’s rebuttal and a lot of electoral silliness in 2012, you can already see the effects.  The two dominant issues that indicate “solidly socially liberal” are being pro-abortion, and pro-gay-marriage.  And guess what?  The US has drifted slowly towards societal acceptance of gay marriage, with significant increases in public support as GenX and GenY has reached adulthood.  Abortion?  Not so much:  fullbore support for abortion has trended up since the mid-70s, but during the same period as gay marriage has gradually become much more accepting of homosexual and lesbian marriage, the number of people identifying as “pro-choice” has dropped significantly — while support for repealing Roe vs. Wade is quite low, the same social shift has not occurred.

And the Roe Effect suggests, quite simply, that it’s because if your kid’s dead, that’s a kid who’s not going on to describe the pro-dead-kid position to society.  Whereas it’s now publicly acceptable to say “hey, my Dad found out I was gay and threw me out on the street with a five-dollar bill because he was afraid I’d ‘infect my family.’ ” Heard this one on the radio this morning, and wanted to throw up.  In the face of horror stories like that, society’s said “hey, you know, maybe this isn’t the bugbear of an issue we collectively thought it was.”  People will, naturally, disagree on the issue, but even the hard-core opponents will admit that Daddy Dearest there was wayyyy beyond the pale.

I know a lot of people who are choosing not to have kids.  That strikes me as functionally insane, but it’s not my choice to make; the payoff is apparently worth the cost for these folks.  That doesn’t mean that society will end; it means that humanity will gradually select for people who will have kids even if abortion is the “practical” choice because the economy sucks — lots and lots of single mothers are going that way, in spite of Margaret Sanger’s love-affair with racist, tyrannical eugenics.

So we don’t really need a societal yardstick which says “you must do X, or else do Y,” even as a rant.  At the end of the day, we’re already going to be “punished” for whatever we did or didn’t do — the inevitable consequences of our actions are inescapable.  And in that, man or woman, soldier or civilian, we all very much equal.

Congratulations to Adhem Dogan!!

We here at Chez Happycrow have been at gunpoint before.  You know the old saw that nothing quite focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging?

Happycrow begs to differ.

That high-pitched sound you’re hearing? That’s Mr. Dogan’s spincter whistling.

Mr. Dogan survived the attempt, because the bastard’s gun misfired.

There’s not a whole lot to be added here; when you’ve decided that the proper way to express your reservations about somebody else’s policy descriptions is to blow them away, “he’s a dick” fails to suffice.

But Mr. Dogan might still not have survived the attack (a misfiring gun can be recovered), had he not had the presence of mind to buy some time and knock the guy’s gun away.  Had he frozen up, this story might have a much different ending.

So congratulations, Mr. Dogan, and let’s all lift a glass to a guy who’s both lucky AND good.

Mr. Assassin’s got a lot to live down.

In space, nobody can smell your reek.

Space is awesome.  After all, it’s where we have to go if we’re going to survive the endless swarms of space rocks, mega-plagues, climate horrors, super-volcanoes, and all the other things Mother Earth has to throw at our species.

And let’s be pretty clear.  Mother Earth is one nasty, homicidal bitch.

“I have gifts for all my children.”

“That’s an oxygen crisis for you, a colossal asteroid for you, superheated acidic smog  for you…”

But, with that said, our rocking spaceman future does have one  little problem:  who washes your socks?

So, yeah, laundry’s an issue.  You could go the “Heinlein route,” and have a “laundry room” which is basically just cycling an airlock so that the laundry’s exposed to hard vacuum.  (you could, and people probably will, go the REAL Heinlein route, and decide “screw this clothes business unless we’re actually having company over,” but sooner or later, clothes of some kind will be in the picture, if only for the convenient pockets).  That’d remove any volatiles, sterilize any bacteria, and eventually kill any parasites which accompanied you to space.

Space bedbugs:  ewww.

What it WON’T do  is remove all of the various oils which gradually build up.    Fortunately, you wont’ be able to smell yourself, because a little trick of not-having-gravity means that your sense of smell goes to shit in space.  UNFORTUNATELY, oil  buildup is still oil buildup, and that will eventually give you serious and ultimately dangerous hygiene issues.

Okay.  But when you go to space, you’re going to tech-town.  And we have a solution!

Introducing NeverWet.  Quite simply, you spray it on something, and so long as the coating last, it ….never gets wet.  Ever.

You’ve got to see this stuff to believe it.

Now, mere mortals like you and me basically can’t get our hands on the stuff — they’re not selling to retailers of any stripe whatsoever, apparently — sucks for us, dammit — but that’s not a problem for AWESOME PEOPLE WHO GO TO SPACE.

But actually, there are problems.  You can’t just spray this inside and out and call it a day — your body secretes sweat, oils, all kinds of stuff.  And if your clothing is 100% superawesomelyhydrophobic, you’re asking for something.

You’re asking for crotch-rot.

Yeah.  Your clothes, no matter what form they take, have to breathe, or else you’re going to be building up nasty-tude inside your clothes, which will then gradually turn into either a fungal infection, as certain fungi which are normally kept in check …aren’t… or else simply a  really nasty case of SPACE-DIAPER-RASH.

This is not the sexy space future I had in mind.

So what to do, what to do?

Well, there IS, as it turns out, a solution.  Use the NeverWet on individual fibers, leaving space between the fibers which can allow at least limited breathability.

Which means that our spaceclothes future looks a lot less like this

and a lot more like this:

Awwww,  shit.

But don’t worry.  There will inevitably be light and stretchy versions available, and in the mean time, the arguments in favor of the partial pressure suit for space operations are actually pretty darned good.

So space clothes will be funky for a while, but space suits will still be pretty awesome.

Space:  You’re doing it right.

Honey, let’s just stick with the Heinlein solution.

I mean, we’re not meeting up with anybody for a week or two, until we’re out past the Golevka Transfer Point anyway, right?

Try the Happycrow “gun issue” litmus test!

Just a quick post to slightly expand on a Facebook discussion.

Here’s what the “gun issue” is about:  preventing murder.

And here’s two very factual statements regarding guns and murder:

1. Guns have been used to murder a lot of innocent people.
2. Guns have been used by a lot of innocent people to prevent murder.

Do you have a strong opinion regarding guns, their regulation, and their ownership?  Do you have a plan of action to solve the problem?

Does that plan take both of these factual statements into account?  Or does it address one while dismissing or only paying lip-service to the other?

If you answered WHY YES, HAPPYCROW, IT DOES, then you are a reasonable participant in our national dialogue on guns. Please continue, and post a comment; I’d like to hear what you have in mind.

If not, please consider thinking a lot prior to spouting off on this emotional and volatile subject.

Also, yes, I have considered the 2nd-amendment angles and citizen-vs-state angles.  For years, and quite seriously.

What Equality Means (also, Michael Bloomberg’s a prick, but you knew that)

The first lesson of liberty is “you own yourself.”

This is pretty fundamental.  We have a pretty basic word for a person who doesn’t own himself, right?  It’s a five-letter word, starting with “slave.”

Liberty and equality are fundamental.  Not equality of income, not equality of groups, not “I get to define my equality, and you get to live by it.” Equality is, at its core, about POWER.

The first lesson of equality is “my decisions about me count more than somebody else’s decisions about me.”

Seriously.  If  other people get to make decisions, and YOU have to obey those decisions they make, then it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you’re not equal.  Right after that comes all of the very, very important stuff about everybody being treated the same way in front of the law.  No writs of nobility (aka, ‘laws are for the little people’) no second-class citizens or oppressed minorities.


Combine these two fundamental ideas about liberty and equality,  and you get what the libertarian types call the “non-aggression principle.” I’m not entitled to INFLICT my opinions about somebody else on them, but I AM entitled to defend myself to keep somebody else from doing so.

Want world peace?
Here’s where it starts.

So, point-blank, I don’t get to punch Michael Bloomberg in the face.

See that tiny smirk? That’s New-Yorker for “I’m better than you.”

Though, boy, do I want to.  Michael Bloomberg’s a prick; but you knew that.
There are a lot of things wrong with Michael Bloomberg which would be solved quite handily by Random Citizen 32 saying “Hey, Mike:  head or gut?”

(Cultural Anthropologist Side Note:  though popularized by The Last Boyscout, “head or gut” has been around for a long time.  It’s a quintessential ‘man culture’ thing, and thus completely misunderstood by the NYT crowd.  ‘Head or gut’ and its equivalents are ways of men redressing issues, where the aggrieved gets to haul off and get the anger out of his system, and the guy doing wrong, by standing there and taking it, admits he deserves the shot.  What a lot of folks miss, though, is that this ENDS IT.  The guy who’s been wronged had his shot  — he’s now obligated to move on and get over it.  Also, if the guy says “head,” he’s probably tougher than you are.)

Right now, Bloomberg is making a decision with a lot of consequences for other peoples’ lives.  And no, I’m not talking about that Soda ban thing, though we’ll get to that in a minute.
Bits of the blogosphere are aghast and talking about Bloomberg’s decision to combat prescription drug addiction by saying “hey, fuck poor people.”
Oh, wait.  Did he say that?  Well, let’s find out:

“The city hospitals we control, so … we’re going to do it and we’re urging all of the other hospitals to do it, voluntary guidelines. Somebody said, oh, somebody wrote, ‘Oh then maybe there won’t be enough painkillers for the poor who use the emergency rooms as their primary care doctor,’” the mayor said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “Number one, there’s no evidence of that. Number two, supposing it is really true, so you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit. The other side of the coin is people are dying and there’s nothing perfect … There’s nothing that you can possibly do where somebody isn’t going to suffer, and it’s always the same group [claiming], ‘Everybody is heartless.’ Come on, this is a very big problem…..

We talk about drugs, heroin and crack and marijuana, this is one of the big outbursts–and it’s a lot worse around the country than it is here. It’s kids and adults getting painkillers and using them for entertainment purposes, or whatever field of purposes, as opposed to what they are designed for,” he explained. “If you break a leg, you’re going to be in pain, nothing wrong with getting something that reduces the pain. But if you get 20 days worth of pills and you only need them three days, there’s 17 days sitting there. Invariably some of the kids are going to find them, or you’re going to take them and get you addicted.”

Yep.  That’s what he said all right.  Rather than saying “hey, Doc, you’re prescribing wayyyy too too many pills here and contributing to addiction, please knock it off,” he said “I have an idea for how to combat this problem, and if you’re poor and in pain, hey, fuck you, them’s the breaks.”

MAN, is Michael Bloomberg a prick.  But you knew that already.

Remember that smirk?  This isn’t the first time Bloomberg’s come out with this attitude in public.  Bloomberg’s soda ban was fundamentally based on the assumption that smart people with smirks can make decisions about what fat people without smirks drink.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Obesity is an epidemic.  I’m not talking about being a little overweight.  As you age, being a little overweight isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  You won’t win any beauty pageants, but you might actually live longer.  But Bloomberg’s not talking about people who are carrying Typical Middle-aged Potbelly.  He’s talking about people who take the whole fat-shaming idea, aka, “you shouldn’t be a dick to somebody just because they’re fat,” and use that to play their own personal  “I can be as horrifically obese as I want, even to the point where paramedics hurt themselves just trying to handle my fat ass, and nobody can ever judge me” card.

Or, as it’s called in Texas, Dunlop’s Disease.
Because “your belly done lopped over your belt.”

Those people (those playing the card, not fat people in general) are dicks, and Bloomberg’s trying to fight dickery with prickery.  It never ends well.

Mikey’s saying that because he knows better, he gets to make a decision to make poor fat peoples’ lives better, in spite of what they may want.
He’s also saying that because he knows better, he gets to make a decision that leaves poor people in pain.

That’s because he’s a prick.  But, you knew that.
But it’s also because he’s a Progressive.

Now, for those of you about to flip out and start cheering in Classic Conservative Righteousness, or else start penning an Angry Liberal Response, sit down and listen a minute.
Progressivism has NOTHING to do with being politically liberal, nor with being conservative, for that matter.  MANY “rightwingers” are as Progressive as the day is long. 

In fact, Reagan’s signature domestic policy, his expansion of the War on Drugs, is Progressivism 101.

Back then, they called it “Prohibition.”  To be fair, a LOT of cops are hip to this irony, and oppose the drug war.  But this isn’t about prohibition per se.  It’s about Progressivism.

  • progressivism  

    Web definitions
    the political orientation of those who favor progress toward better conditions in government and society.

Well, who the hell could be against that?
But that’s a stupidly-broad and therefore pretty useless definition.  By that definition, even Illinois Nazis are progressives. What I’m talking about is a wee bit different.  Progressivism isn’t about wanting a better world.  It is, rather, a specific way of trying to achieve it.

1.  Develop scientific and expert solutions to social and political problems (especially corruption and public health)
2.  Advocate for the passage of laws to address the problem according to Step One.
3.  Use those laws based on expert solutions to coerce social and political change for the benefit of society.

This is the Progressive Playbook.  You can see it at work nowadays at the EPA, you could see it in the 1920s with prohibition — and eugenics-based forced-sterilization.

But, like forcible eugenics, prohibition is fundamentally built upon the premise that the experts have the right to make decisions regarding the rest of society

  • This person’s pretty stupid, and society shouldn’t have to support stupid people, so some people shouldn’t be allowed to breed: “let’s make idiocy grounds for forcible sterilization.”
  • Bob drinks and beats his wife, so the cure for that is to ban alcohol.  “Walter can’t have his whiskey, because Bob can’t hold his beer.”

You see a lot of this going on.  The irony is that at its core, Progressivism is what gives birth to technocracy, and the rule of society by an elite.  Progressivism, to be fair, HAS done a lot of good.  I like elevator certifications, and definitely prefer to go up or down fifty floors in an elevator which has been inspected by a professional, not the mayor’s flunky nephew who needed a job.  Sure, the private sector actually could handle this sort of thing, but as municipal ordinances go, it’s one of those things we can generally agree is fair ball.


But if there is a single lesson of the 20th century, when upwards of 200 million people were murdered by their own governments, it has to be this:  the ends do not justify the means.  And the best way to keep people from using the ends to justify the means, and, like Michael Bloomberg, ruin the lives of those least able to resist his new hokey idea of the week, is to insist upon real equality.

  • An equality where prohibitionists can’t take away your house and everything you own, because your son happened to smoke a joint in the back yard.
  • An equality where corrupt cops get to grope and “strip search” teenage girls because they might have drugs.
  • An equality where starry-eyed idealist X, like Michael Bloomberg (who’s a prick, but you knew that) doesn’t get to sacrifice poor people on an altar of pain because he’s got some neat new idea for how to make society better.

Remember, no matter what your political breed, if you’re free,  YOU OWN YOURSELF.

And if you don’t like the fact that people own themselves and can make choices that you don’t want them to make….

well, then you’re a prick. But we already knew that.

How to be a clueless tourist and not be dead.

It was a Greek restaurant.  There was a Greek newspaper on one of the tables.
There was Greek music playing on the radio.  In Greek.

I ordered three gyros, in Greek.
And was promptly thrown out of the restaurant.

Well, Happycrow, that’s because you were in Paris, and being an asshole.


Didn’t mean to be.  I thought “hey, I get to practice my greek again, wheeee!”  But what I did was to hopelessly humiliate the young greek emigre behind the counter, who couldn’t understand a word I said, while his grandfather laughed his butt off from back in the corner (where the Greek newspapers were).

Fortunately, nobody got hurt.  Unfortunately, I was tired and now had to eat my gyros out on the sidewalk, too close to a whole lot of whores I didn’t want to deal with (why yes, in fact, I was quite close to Gare du Nord, why do you ask?)

Much less charming than McCoy’s version.
Just as colorful, though.

What happened?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  I violated the rules.  A LOT of them.

You need to learn the rules of the people you’re hanging out with, especially as a tourist.

Between the two of us we have been in 43 of the 50 United States, been in 15 different countries and three different continents. We’ve lived and worked in the the largest urban centers in the North American continent and lived in towns so small that they barely register on the map. We have been in corporate high rises and cattle barns. We have been in the mansions of millionaires and squatted in the gutter with winos. We regularly consort with movie stars, truck drivers, politicians, cowboys, artists, scientists, college students, college professors, secretaries, scientists, busboys, CEOs, bikers, criminals, cops, military, liberals and gang members. We have lost count of the number of ethnic/cultural/socio-economic groups we have routinely dealt with not only professionally, but on their terms. In short, unlike many people, we exist outside a very narrow cultural/social/socio-economic/racial circle.

We tell you this because of how often we have seen people mistake how things are done in their niche existence as how things are (or should be) done everywhere. When in another type of situation, they proceed to act according to the ‘rules’ of their usual circle.

And then they wonder why the other person attacked them….

In ‘Caesar and Cleopatra’ George Bernard Shaw wrote: Pardon him … he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

MacYoung, as usual, is dead on the money, and has several world-class examples in his books that are true to life.  Here in Texas, if you pass far enough out of SWPL-land, you see some real cultural differences pop up, fast.  One of which is that it’s not all that rare for guys to throw completely undeserved and out-of-line bullshit right into your face, just to see if you’ve got any balls, or whether you knuckle under and put up with it.  You have to know which is the right answer, or else you’re going to get stomped. 

Kinda like this, but with less politics and more spilled teeth.

Women will generally get a pass in a lot of those places (assuming no social predators), but unlike, say, Starbucks, there are a lot of places where “the barbarians” have a set of rules which includes “good women are protected: mouthy bitches get punched in the face until they learn some respect.”  aka, they’re very into equal rights where ass-beatings are concerned, and a woman who gets out of line in the “wrong kind of bar” is just as prone to lose her teeth as a man would be.

My neighbor’s a barbarian.  His wife once trimmed her branches and threw it all over my side yard rather than actually clean any of it up.  Yeah, considerate, that.  So I knocked on his door and said “hey, I want you to come look at something.”  I was pretty firm about it and obviously irritated.  His response to me throwing the “you don’t know what yet, but you have fucked up” card was to respond with the “back off or I’m going to rearrange your face” look and body language.

Now, I registered that, quite clearly.  About half a second later, I decided that I simply did not give a shit (and have been punched in the face enough via personal hobbies that this wasn’t an abstract decision) — he was GOING to deal with my issue.

Barbarian neighbor walked out with me, looked at the problem, realized he was in the wrong and proclaimed that he was going to bust an ass.  We’re on good terms, friendly, and  haven’t had the problem again.  Did he REALLY “bust an ass” (aka, his wife’s?)  OH, HELL NO – that was “barbarian man-speak” for what a Victorian would have said thusly:  “I concur that you have been wronged due to the completely unacceptable rude and selfish behavior of my spouse; what’s more, I agree that this behavior was beyond the pale, and I will discuss the matter with her so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Now Available in “public humiliation” or “broken ribs.”


And if I’d used language like that talking to him, I’d have his shit in my yard every single week – he’d go OUT OF HIS WAY to find shit to throw in my yard, on general principles.  And I’d deserve it, for being a dick.  When you refuse to talk to somebody in their own language, you are being a dick.  You are saying “I’m better than you and I want you to know it.”

JudgyBitch has a post up today about learning the rules, and how to be a happy tourist, rather than a dead one.

This looks like a free eyeball about to happen….

It’s a pretty good post, whose twist, as usual, is aimed squarely at a certain breed of feminist she rightly disdains.   Her basic take, and it’s a VERY good one, is that being a tourist is more than about getting stamps in your passport.  It’s about learning how the rules are different when you’re in different circumstances.  There’s a LOT of tourism you can indulge in without ever leaving your living room.

Norah Vincent’s big revelation?  “Gee, men really aren’t anything like I thought they were.”  And, as one local who clearly saw through her ruse and appreciated that she was an upper-middle-class person slumming in their world helpfully informed her, “the difference is, we bowl without irony.”

As Ms. Vincent puts it:

“I passed in a man’s world not because my mask was so real, but because the world of men was a masked ball,” Vincent writes. “Only in my men’s group did I see these masks removed and scrutinized.”

That’s a perfectly valid position for an upper-middle-class lesbian chick to have on mainstream heteronormative male society. What she misses, though is that the vast majority of men don’t need a self-help group in order to comperehend everything they’re seeing.  Most guys have a very, very good understanding of what’s going on with other guys — those aren’t masks, they’re helpful labels.

But I don’t want to be too hard on Ms. Vincent, because there was something she did right, and it’s the ABSOLUTELY MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do as a tourist:  get a friend.  The friend knows you’re a tourist, and will say helpful things like “don’t pull that gun, they’ll kill you.  He’s just messing with you to see if you’ve any balls in your pants.”  (real story, not mine)

Can I travel to Paris on my own?  Sure.  Can I travel to, say, Morocco on my own?  Sure.  I could even be edgy and go to Kurdistan on my own (Basra? Eh, probably not).  There’s enough international culture, and agreement on the what the rules are, that I’d be fine — I’d do better with a local friend, but I could do it. 

Can you travel, say, to North Waziristan or Somalia your my own?  Sure. Before you go, can I have your ipad? Simple truth — If you go to some places on your own, you are simply out of your depth.  What “out of your depth” means will vary by person, but it’s a real concept, and you’d better learn it, or you’re going to wind up like that dude who thought he could be friends with bears.  And he was!  That grizzly loved him.  Especially the greasy parts.

That’s just Alaska.  Waziristan?  Even the hardcore journos go to places like Waziristan with friends.  Professional friends, called “fixers,” whose job is to help arrange things, and provide the visitors helpful advice so that they don’t wind up gang-sodomized (not joking, the Taliban does this) or worse because they violated an unspoken rule that all the locals get, but that you haven’t been told yet.  As my father’s prone to say, “the problem with the school of hard knocks is that first you take the test, and then you learn your lesson.” A local buddy keeps you from having to do that. 

But what if you don’t know anybody where you’re going?  Well, then, like Ms. Vincent did, you have to behave in a manner that’s going to win you friends.  “Speak the language, or at least try,” is an obvious one.  But there’s more to it than that.  My trick for Central Europe?  Be polite, cute, and harmless.  Because middle-aged Polish women will come out of the woodwork to help a cute guy who’s obviously trying.  Thank you, Old Ladies of Poznan, because my Polish wasn’t good enough to say “oh, I need to buy a plastic bag for these groceries, please,” and you gals saved the day (and my apples).  I overlooked that, b/c bags COME WITH in America, and they don’t in lots of Europe.

You go, Grandma. We know you rock.

In an urban environment, my rule of thumb, and you may have a better one, is “don’t waste people’s time.”  Urban people love small-talk, too — but usually not with strangers, unless they’re intentionally chewing up the clock.  Stuck waiting for a flight at JFK?  Oh, you’re in for CONVERSATION.  Curbside, that’s another matter. 

Rural environments?  By being stupid-polite.  Lots of urbanites get in trouble in the sticks, because they’re condescending without realizing it.  Yes, you need smarts to have an advanced degree and work in finance.  Guess what?  You ALSO need smarts to be a successful plumber or general contractor.  They’re not always the same KIND of smarts, but just because somebody’s blue-collar or prefers jewel-tones to “that little black dress” doesn’t mean she’s stupid. 

This works in Japan, too.  The Japanese are friendly people, if you’re not walking around being rude as hell — you just have to take ten seconds to learn some basic rules.  Like, “in Japan, when you get something from the vending machine, drink it there and put it right into the trash, rather than walking all over town eating and drinking like a disgusting rude person.”

But that’s not the most important part.  If you’re planning to be a tourist, any kind of tourist, and you’re not setting out with the notion of figuring out how to make a friend, you’re doing it wrong.  First and foremost, behave in a manner that encourages people to help you.  They’ll tell you when you’re about to step on your own dick.  Because it’s good to know how to build a fire, but for most of us your most important survival skill is good old-fashioned communication.

Jeans for your Junk: Everything old is new again.

In a move that’s sure to scandalize America, jeans will soon be on the market that force everybody to face the horrible realization that men have dicks.

It’s a pity that people are going to be scandalized, because it’s actually a very good idea.

“When he was like 16-years-old, and he actually got the skin caught in a zipper. And it was just like a screech from the bathroom… It’s one of those times in a mother’s life where you just think, you know, I hoped this would never happen in my lifetime! And of course it did.”

Let me say something flat-out.  I’m forty-one years old right now, and I still remember, with shocking clarity, how much it hurt like fuck to get my junk caught in a jean zipper.  It hurt worse than having my nose broken.  Worse than having my wrist or leg broken.  WAYYY worse than having four deeply-impacted wisdom teeth out in the same day with local anaesthesia.  Punched in the face?  Pfffft.  I’d rather be punched in the face every day for the rest of my life, than have that happen again.  Doesn’t even compare.

It has happened exactly four times in my life, I can remember each and every time with the agonized clarity women use when they reminisce on childbirth, and it’s one of the main reasons why I just don’t wear a lot of jeans any more.

So, I look forward to this new and shocking innovation that nobody’s ever seen before.

Oh. Yeah.

Actually, we have seen this before.  For several hundred years after western europeans started joining their hose together, bumps-and-codpieces were the order of the day.  This is actually nothing new at all.  Modern men’s clothing, pants specifically, tend to be an abomination — they’re women’s patterns mocked up to be worn on men, unless you’re spending a lot of money to have a clothier do it right. (This is why so many of your granddad’s pants, the ones that went up to the natural waist, didn’t have belt loops — they didn’t need them.)

Modern men’s pants are an abomination — they make men stiff and inflexible in the hips, contributing to back problems, they force men to use belts which cut directly across the stomach wall, hindering the diaphram and teaching upper-chest breathing, and many of them are designed to neuter you if you’re careless.  That’ll please the man-haters, and it’s great humor of the “tragedy is when I cut my finger; comedy is when you slip, fall into an open sewer, and die” sort.

That said, stuffing your pants will remain the realm of hilarious metrosexual disdain.  It’s official.

Courtship, Sex, and Commitment

Okay, son.  I’m going to go **** your stepmother.  I love you.  [hangs up]

We are now exactly one step from hearing about my mother’s enduring love of fellatio.

GREAT!  That’s a good thing.  I totally didn’t need to actually hear that, but let’s face facts here — if it wasn’t happening, that would be a sign that something had gone horribly wrong with the relationship.  And, dude.  That’s my Dad.  Obviously, I want his marriage to rock.

Now.  This is my Dad and Stepmother.  Clearly, we have hit “the appropriate time to broaden the scope.”

Lasting romantic relationships are about sex and commitment.  Both of them.

Mercifully, Andrea Dworkin begs to differ.

Vanilla Heteronormative Relationship says “women are the gatekeepers of sex; men are the gatekeepers of commitment.”

A woman can get any man within her league; the challenge is for her to keep him.  Men, on other other hand, go through that whole ritual of trying to get into the relationship.

Enter the New York Times, proclaiming that the courtship dance is over.

Granted, Alex Williams strikes the perfect note to indicate incipient disaster:

“MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid.”

But let’s be open-minded. In his column, Alex Williams describes the trials and tribulations of a woman who has real trouble on the dating scene.

1.  Trouble One:  “I met a musician.”

But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one….“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations.

She might?  She might have told him to go fuck himself and get on with life.  The problem here isn’t Ms. Shani Silver (except insofar as she apparently has tragically bad taste in men); the problem is, and I’m going to use big words here, the guy’s a dick.

Now, Ms. Silver has a different take on the situation.

“The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

And Miss AwesomeHat apparently has it wayyyy nailed down compared to Ms. Silver.

Part of this, of course, is the joy of being a young urbanite in an environment in which there are so many young men and women that standing out is seriously non-trivial.  In New York, there are so many young men and women that you don’t have to be Casanova or Mata Hari to have a phone full of addresses, half of them for people you’ve never even met.  The dating market is full of fish.

And that’s the problem.  Right now,the market’s broken.  Lots of women happily provide (to both the applause and disdain of feminists and not-so-feminists all over).  Men who want nothing other than sex, and who know how the play the market, do fine, as do similar women.  In other words, the sexual marketplace is probably better than it’s been since before HIV scared the shit out of us and Abba was a thing.

I mean, dude. These guys rocked Zardoz with a straight face.

The dating marketplace, on the other hand, is pretty messed up, if you’re living in an urban or college Hookup Zone, precisely because hookup culture is all over the place.  Flyover country, on the other hand, that’s different.  So part of the solution may simply be “get the hell away from NYC, Philadelphia, and similar places, in favor of quieter digs.”

And yet, when you look around… by their 30s, most of the people around you have successfully paired off and are in significant relationships.  So what gives?  When the bitter side of the blogosphere says that courtship is dead because men are man-boys, or because women killed it by hating on nice guys….they’re wrong, point-of-fact, before they even make it to the “because” point.

It has to do with filtering, to some extent, as Susan Walsh points out:

If you want a meaningful relationship, you must filter guys according to the degree of effort they put in. Garbage in, garbage out. There’s nothing wrong with hanging out in social groups, or meeting up with someone you’d like to know better. But that initial interest should graduate quickly into real dates. Focus on men who are willing to put in the kind of effort you’re willing to put in. You can help them out by encouraging their interest, initiating some plans, and sharing the expense of dating.

And that’s absolutely accurate.  If you’re looking for a hookup, that’s easy.  If you’re looking for a date, on the other hand, cads won’t do.

But there’s something missing from that analysis, too, and that’s escalation.  Just as a man has to escalate if he wants sex — women rightfully disdain  creepy “nice guys” who hang out in the friend zone hoping that this will somehow magically get them laid — women have to escalate if they want commitment.  Some men will jump that hurdle and pull off a Prince Charming, sweeping the gal right off her feet.

For a lot, and maybe even most, women, that’s not reality.  And quite a number of women don’t want it, either.

Even if he does have an alpine chateau.

For those other women who aren’t living “the Disney Romance,” (and you’d be surprised how many are), a woman who wants to date  has to not only filter the men, but also to do something to stand out and get the guy’s attention, so that the men who “meet her criteria” know that she’s in it for  the long haul.  For most of us, this isn’t exactly rocket science, and most folks seen to understand it pretty implicitly.

And now, for the elephant in the room:

“MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid.”

If you’re looking for a lasting relationship, you need to avoid the tools and methods of those who are just looking to hang out and hook up.  OkCupid and similar can wbe used to look for romance…but most of the guys who use the service don’t.

Just like “Nice guys of OKCupid” and “Online Women of Incipient Divorce,” there are a LOT of people out there who are, and I hate to sound mean, “single for a reason.”  If you’re just looking for a hookup, hey, who cares?  But if you’re looking for dates, romance, eventual lifelong partnership/marriage, that just won’t do.  You’ve got to filter aggressively, and figure out how, in your environment, to meet people who are good candidates to be a match.  Lots of people do better by avoiding the urban zones, or shifting gears into a slower-paced section of it — the LA/NYC crowd isn’t into the flyover-country game, but smaller populations have a number of advantages, one of which is that lack of anonymity makes it harder to get away with jerk-ass behavior like what Ms. Silver encountered.  It’s still there, but guys who act like that are going to get a reputation which will follow them much more rapidly.

Once you’re into your thirties, that gets harder: the market narrows considerably.  Point-blank, most of the good ones are taken.  And most of those are going to stay that way.  Filtering like mad becomes more important, and quite frankly, a quality man or woman going online is going to instantly disquality 80-90% of the opposite sex that the various systems say is a “match.”  It can still be done, but it’s going to take effort, online and off, to meet enough people that you eventually get introduced to the dude or dudette who rocks your house.  And since we’re positing that dude/dudette is quality, it’s almost a guarantee that there’s competition.  You’re going to have to make it happen.

And that’s a good thing.  After all, if you’re dating, it’s for a relationship, and for the long-haul.  If you want that kind of relationship, but aren’t willing to do more than lifting a finger and making some mouse-clicks to obtain one…. the men or women you’d like to meet deserve better than to wind up with you.

That’s harsh.  But then again, so is winding up as a sad old cat lady or “that creepy old man next door.”

Dread for the Future: is it Climate Change’s High Noon, or its Four O’Clock?

2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States.

Well, granted, the Mongols froze their asses off this year.  But for the rest of us… we have to wonder, what does it mean? 

Well, that depends on whether it’s noon, or 4:00 in the afternoon.


Yes, that’s right.  Think about it.  At noon, it’s still going to get a lot hotter.  We’re getting the highest input from the sun that we’re going to get all day, but it’s still going to build up for another few hours.

In theory, that could get scary, though recent voices suggest that we could probably just cope with it, as we’ve always done.
Hey, we made it out of the Rift Valley, after all. And what’s a human genetic bottleneck between friends?  Very, very close ones, when there’s no other kind?

If it’s noon, we have to make some adjustments.

Sea levels will change.  LOTS of fresh water from glaciers is going to wind up in the mix.  A warmer world is going to be, counter-intuitively, in many respects a wetter world as well.  10-11% of all the land-surface on earth is locked under glaciers right now.  That may not sound like a lot of land…but, no, really, that’s a lot of land.  And on it, right now, we have two-thirds of all the world’s freshwater.  That’s water which will become available as rain.  Possibly lots and lots of rain, in all the places where we don’t really want it.

This is what economists refer to as “not good.”

Now, Al Gore and Company say this is because of the immense amount of carbon we’re putting in the atmosphere.  For the record, I don’t think that’s what’s happening.  I mostly don’t think that’s happening, because the Earth had vastly more carbon in its atmosphere during the Silurian Extinction,  ….which resulted in, well, a lot of ice, at least for a little while.

(What the Silurian Ice Age might have looked like, if there had been massively out-of-scale birds going back in time to record it for us in their tiny birdcams)

I hope that’s the case, because if man is creating global warming via carbon, then it’s inevitable.  Tragicomically for certain Hollywood types who want to scare the shit out of us,
he US is actually putting out less carbon than we used to, and that’s almost entirely due to fracking.  The bad news, if you think that it’s awesome for us to throw less carbon around in the atmosphere, is that fracking isn’t a widespread phenomenon.  While it could in theory be nearly global, it hasn’t caught on in a lot of places, because it’s capital-h HARD.  Turns out that “the West” is really good at something here that a lot of other places aren’t really good at.  So more carbon is coming.

Here at Chez Happycrow, we consider that Free Eyeball in the making.  Lots and lots of carbon, it turns out, is a GOOD thing.  Plants of all varieties grow much, MUCH better when there’s lots of carbon.  And they do that because their stomata don’t have to open up as far in order for the plant to breathe.  You see, the more open the stomata, the more water the plant loses while it breathes — it gets thirstier.  The more carbon in the atmosphere, the less thirsty the plant has to be to achieve X amount of growth.  For most of Earth’s history, we’ve had a LOT more carbon around than we do nowadays.  In fact, to find anything comparable to today’s ~380ppm, you have to go all the way back to the Carboniferous period.

Now, I’m not saying that we ought to bop right back to Ordovician carbon levels.  I’m not sure if a human being can actually think and breathe with that high a carbon concentration:  humanity, no, make that mammals, have never experienced those kind of global carbon levels.  But if you look at just carbon, and just temperature, you can see that we could double our current levels of CO2, or even triple them, and be just fine — we’d lose a lot of ocean real-estate, gain a lot of other real-estate (including land-masses springing up where glacial weights currently hold them underwater — because science is weird that way), and see a crapton of desert get an awful lot more fertile.  Would it suck?  Yeah, especially if you’re a rich westerner losing your pricy beachfront real estate, or an impoverished Bangladeshi with nowhere to go when the water comes.  But we could handle it.

That said….
What if it’s not carbon-forcing (forcing = making the change)?  What if it’s something else?  What if, like NASA indirectly, kinda-sorta, “please don’t hurt me, politicians, but you might want to consider this” suggests, it’s not primarily about carbon, but about the Sun?

Well, then, Katie, don’t bother barring the door.  We might be in real trouble – trouble of the kind that makes sixty million flooding-displaced Bengalis in Bangladesh look like trivia.  No, really. In that case, it might not be noon.  It might be 4:00 pm.  At 4:00, the day is as hot as it’s going to get, and until the next solar cycle (day, in this metaphor, Solar Cycle 25, in astrophysics) ramps up, it’s only going to get colder from here on out.

That’s a recipe for a solar minimum, and not just a wee bairn, but a Grand Solar Minimum, c.f. Maunder Minimum, otherwise known as “everybody freezing their asses off.”
The US spent 2012 pretty damned hot, a whole 1C over the usual.  But that doesn’t mean that the whole world was.  Southeast Asia’s actually suffering colder than usual temperatures, and it’s not trivial stuff.  Deaths, crop failures, food inflation… BAD THINGS are happening due to unusual cold.  And ENSO is negative again.  It’s already affecting maritime traffic up in Alaska.  Global warming may or may not be real now. It WAS real — in 1997

Since then, the US may have gotten hotter, but the world hasn’t.  So far as the world was concerned, 1997 was 4:00pm.

The Thames, 1677.

This isn’t new.  Remember your conquistadors from that world-history class you slept through because the teacher was insanely boring?  Try 1541, when Coronado went looking for his Cities of Gold, and crossed the frozen Rio Grande to do so.  Ever hung out on the Rio Grande?  Frozen isn’t normally the word you use.  People who live on the Rio Grande break out the blankets and shiver uncontrollably when it gets all the way down to 65 freezing degrees.

Oh my God, it’s golfing weather.  Nurse, get that woman a hot chocolate, stat!

And that’s child’s play compared to what happened in 1783/84.  Contrary to public perception, we don’t have very good climate data yet — a couple hundred years is a good start, but we don’t have anywhere near the data we’d like to.  And the world has been getting progressively colder for millions of years.  Right now, we’re in a relative warm spot — an in-between space that’s much warmer and wetter than the iceball that a lot of the world used to be. 

Check out the map below.  That grey isn’t “uncomfortably cold”:  it’s “this is where you find ice in July.”


So right now, where are we?  What time is it?


If it’s noon, then we might want to frack like mad, and go hardcore into thorium reactors (aka, “green nukes“) and natural gas, with solar and wind helping where they can.

Contrary to Greenpeace, the answer there on alternative energy there is: not much.  Wind is a niche player and always will be, and solar requires huge breakthroughs if it’s going to replace any fossil fuel as a supplier of industrial-scale energy.  (What, you don’t like industrial-scale energy?  Then stop being a hypocrite, turn off your computer, and go live in the woods with a stone hatchet.  Hey, you’re entitled to your principles, so turn this off and go be true to them.)

If it’s 4:00, on the other hand, we’re in trouble.  We’ve got north of 7 billion people on this planet, and a HUGE chunk of the world’s population lives on less than USD2.00 per day.  Simply having enough food to survive is still a huge issue for big chunks of our popularion – and I don’t mean “thrive, be healthy, and get ahead in life,” I mean survival as in “not dying (this week).”  If we get cold enough to endure a 20% to 30% spike in food prices, America’s working and middle classes will hate that, tighten their belts, and move on.

This isn’t a joke.  Global inflation is already widespread, and there’s serious consideration of it having been the effective cause of the Arab Spring.  Don’t believe me?  Think all this inflation business is just some sort of Ron-Paulista crazy talk?  No, actually, global inflation, and specifically global food inflation, is very real.  Don’t trust me, go google it.

But 20% of the total population of the Earth won’t tighten their belts; they don’t have anywhere left to tighten.  They don’t have a buffer, and their response to global food inflation will be to social instability, violence, and eventually, for one fifth of all humanity to simply die

We’ll need a Norman Borlaug on every corner, just to avert a worldwide demographic catastrophe every bit as awful as the Columbian Exchange….but without a single one of the Columbian Exchange’s cruel upsides.  And your community garden’s going to help some local folks, but until they figure out how to transport shipping containers for free, it’s not going to be enough.

If it’s 4:00pm, the answer isn’t nukes and fracking.  It’s burn, baby, burn — not to avoid warming, but to do ANYTHING that can be done to avoid worldwide starvation.

One way or the other, we need real science, and real answers, uninhibited by politically-correct bullshit from either the left or the right.  And we need those answers fast.

Forty-Two Seconds Into the Future

Wozzle10:36 AM:  <sad doe-eyed whuffle>
‘Want a doughnut.
I don’t know why, because they’re all way too sweet for Beanie anymore, but I want one anyway.

Beanie10:37 AM:  Maybe a donut that’s not ubersweet?

Wozzle10:37 AM:  ooh, light and fluffy and not soaked in sugar

Beanie10:38 AM:  Yep, like an old-school fried donut, just a touch crispy.

Wozzle10:38 AM:  damnit, I REALLY want a donut now

10:39 AM:  Maybe with just a LITTLE dark chocolate on the very top ring.

Wozzle11:45 AM:  yes
<dramatic siiiiigh>

Beanie11:46 AM:  ::fires up the teleporter​::

Wozzle11:46 AM:  <eyes light up> do you HAVE one?

Beanie11:47 AM:  ::clicks button repeatedly​::
It won’t send chocolate for some reason.
Lemme check the manual.

Wozzle11:47 AM:  hahahahaha

Beanie11:48 AM:    Error code says “substance is on the NTS list, please consult federal safety regulations and adjust shipment for compliance.”

oh, here we go…
Non-Telepo​rtable Substances​….  aspirin??
Chocolate AND aspirin??
These people must really hate to drink.

Wozzle11:49 AM:  WHAAAAT
those bastards!
just because the mice exploded doesn’t mean People can’t eat it!

Beanie11:49 AM:  gah.
I bet it’s some sort of sick subsidy to local chocolate retailers.

Wozzle11:50 AM:  curse you Fannie May!

Beanie11:51 AM:  Okay, I gotta get lunch. I know a snakehead who deals in desserts..​. maybe he can cut me a deal.

Dear Haters: Don’t Look Now, but You’re Infected with Stupid

Did you know that I’m tinged with misogyny, and think that rape is awesome?

Do you know what apparently defines me as pro-rape?

Well, two things: 

First, I think that it’s a good idea for women to overcome their general aversion to thinking about and learning about self-defense (now that we’re in an era where Sam Colt lets a woman be every bit as lethal as a man of the exact same height and weight, but 40% greater skeletal muscle and superior striking leverage.  Yes, aikido guys, I said “striking” leverage, not throwing — because throwing leverage doesn’t mean jack if you have a situational-awareness-fail and get cold-cocked from behind — the kind of men who are social predators frequently have both the muscle and the leverage to make that a one-shot proposition.) 

So because of my horrible, troglodytic position on women, I think it’s a good thing if an attempted rapist dies on the spot due to lead inhalation *before* the woman suffers psychological injury and has to worry about things like “triggers” (of the emotional, rather than 9mm, kind).  What’s more, I have strong feelings about that.

Second, I think that back in the day, when my girlfriend and I both got plastered and had sex, that my girlfriend *didn’t* get raped just because she ALSO had a tendency to wobble a bit and giggle too much.

Wow.  Pretty serious, huh?  Just call me Rapey McRaperson. 

(No, really; check out the comments to this post from last year.  Or, if you’re really feeling like you want to stare into the abyss, check out the reddit conversations this post spawned.  Who  knew I was such a victim-blamer?)

You know what apparently makes me a misogynist?

Thinking that it’s not a crime for a man to think that some women are more attractive than others, and to have a natural attraction to and respect for women who are fit and healthy, and a distinct aversion to thinking romantic and/or sexy thoughts about a woman who is visibly unhealthy and mostly made of grease.

This is an attractive and healthy woman.


This is not.

Yeah, I admit it.  God, I really went off into Otto Weininger territory, there, didn’t I?

No, actually, I didn’t.

What’s the common thread here?  Well, pretty simply, the radical feminists who originated with the Redstockings and now live on Jezebel and reddit who’ve come out of the woodwork to spout such things are man-haters.  These are people who literally hate men and think that men should be ashamed not to be women.  They even have a name for all of these evil, horrible men who aren’t ashamed not to be women:  The Patriarchy.

Those of you who’ve studied the 20th century and just had the cog click, that’s right — according to these people, men like me…. are class enemies.

I can debate with somebody who’s open to my ideas.  I can debate with somebody who doesn’t like my ideas, and wants to defeat them — an intellectual opponent.
I cannot debate with a person who defines me as an enemy.  And when you define a person as your class-enemy, you cannot debate with them, either.

I know a professor.  He’s a great guy.  I like him.  But he’s completely irrational where firearms are concerned:  his response to any tragedy involving firearms is to swing for the fences attacking the NRA and to accuse those guys of being pro-child-shooting and fundamentally interested in turning America into a Somalia-like wasteland.  Why would they want to do this?  Well, because they’re eeeeevil, obviously.  So far as he’s concerned, the NRA is a class-enemy, and anybody who doesn’t join him in NRA-hating, or who thinks that perhaps… MAYBE… that even a good liberal might benefit from having a single trusted, reliable person to provide armed security in a place where we send the most precious thing in our entire universe (aka, our kids, to school), is obviously an unreconstructed, ignorant evangelical hick (but, per this professor, I repeat myself).

And speaking of examples from the right, there’s Jack Chick, a guy who’s worth TWO images.  Chick has, for over fifty years, defined Christianity as “hating everybody who’s not in lock-step with Jack Chick.”  This guy is bigotry on tap with a smiling, wholesome demeanor.

Because you can’t reason with a Nazi.  Or a boy scout.  Or a Catholic Nazi Boy Scout.  Or, apparently not even a Wiccan Nazi Boy Scout.

Class-Enemy-making is everywhere. Not just on the left, not just on the right. It’s a highly-communicable psychological disease.  And those who have it are Infected with Stupid.  A special kind of stupid:  Online Stupid.  The kind of stupid that says “I’m going to regard you as a person who cannot possibly have anything valuable to say by defining you as a class-enemy and agent of evil.  Having done that, I will then debate with you in order to get you to change your corrupt and evil ways, because I’m so narcissistic that I somehow believe that after I’ve demonized you to get your attention….that you will give a single fuck what I think.”

Very, very stupid.

When you turn another human being into a class enemy, you become a kind of monster, and nobody but your fellow monsters want to be around you any more.

Let’s try something else on, for a try:

The world’s a better place when we presuppose that the person we disagree with has good intentions.  You can point out an injustice in a way which actually appeals to, rather than demonizes, your audience.  Even if they are assholes

The world has enough tragedy and injustice, without those of us who care about such things adding to the stink.  Spend some time learning diplomacy and how to communicate.  You’ll do better and feel better.

The “Happycrow Test” for those with solutions to political problems.

I hear a lot of folks, left and right, who think they have the obvious solutions to a number of difficult social and political problems.


But, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe *you’re* one of the enlightened ones whose finger is on the heartbeat of America, and knows it well enough to give solid, worthwhile solutions which carry the least possible social costs, particularly to those least able to pay them.

Here’s an image.


Gee,  I wonder what  that is?

The United States is a big place.  It has a lot of cultures.  It has a lot of contexts.  You think you’re up to the task of telling others what they should do and how they should live?

Tell me what cities the thirty brightest dots in that image represent.

Because let’s face it — if the top 15 or 20 aren’t stupid-easy for you, or if you can’ t do this without checking out maps or wishing somebody would draw in the state lines (Hey, Tulsa, I’m looking at you!), then you are simply too provincial to think you know what the rest of the country should do.

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