Culturalism · Self-Improvement

Your Opinions Are Not Your Own

The clear and present normal to see on the Twitter pages of the young and upcoming is a statement reading something like “My opinions are my own.” Try as I rack the brain, it is difficult to comprehend the logic behind such a statement. Sure, the world is fond of disclaimers, a dynamic which probably helps account for the lawyer-loving culture we live in, and the lawsuits that go in unison. But does it really matter?

Suppose the empowered tweeter does feature said tagline, and puts out a joke that sounded good in his head, along with everyone else’s not sworn to petty drama. Will this really protect him from consequences? Perhaps the company he works for is off the hook, but should something come to the level of defamation, good luck with that. The banhammer is coming for job, reputation, and dating patterns, determined to drive that poor soul into the grounds of repentance—although don’t expect mea culpas to change anything.

Saying your opinions are your own is like cushioning unpleasant crime statistics by noting “I’m not a racist.” Even issuing such words is enough to indict, “facts and logic” aside. The very lifeblood of modern drama culture is oriented around picking out some semantic weak point or bad take and attempting to ruin the person’s life over it. Accuracy and disclaimers be cursed, so let them pay reparations and shut up.

The result is that such folks end up muzzling themselves to degrees not previously believable. It is hardly enough to tow moderate individual opinions; now you are expected to ferociously endorse the party line, regardless of how hypocritical and corrupt it happens to be. The religion of the stato-multinational establishment demands nothing less, and traitors pay the hearty price. One cannot merely be a passive associate; they must embrace the cause of passionate cultist and acolyte.

It would seem as though a simpler solution can be had: speak your mind, but under a different name. Few things enrage the village idiot cancelist more than not being able to perform a quick Google search which brings up name, rank, and serial number. No open Facebook page or LinkedIn profile offering information on where, who, and what salary materializes gets their bones cooking, while also staving off the less zealous investigators. You might just keep that paycheck and apartment a little bit longer, providing of course there’s no camera in the details.

Or you can be a politely disclaimed free speech “hero,” and hope for blueberry pancakes with a chance of employment.

Book Reviews · Culturalism · Self-Improvement · Uncategorized

Why Publishing Failed

Before her death in 2016, the legendary Ursula Le Guin gave a short acceptance speech at the National Book Awards in which she outlined the problems with modern publishing. At that stage of her career, she could safely issue the criticisms without fear of financial repercussion, but the observations were nevertheless poignant. They rest firmly on the role which capitalism can play in diminishing the value of literary art by commoditizing various genres for mass market efficiency. Some particularly biting lines are as follows:

“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.”

One cannot deny the truth in those words. The more that technology advances, the less substance matters, and this can be witnessed across various mediums. A person with great content on YouTube will swiftly get buried by the excess of “corporate friendly” channels letting our dopamine-hungry brains feast on countless jump edits and sound effects. Movies with independent or unique origins are disregarded, while studio money pours into toxic remakes, and the coarse boredom of social justice slinks into genres where it was always present, albeit with class and subtlety.

Books are no exception to this rule. As others have observed, the idealized vehicle for publishing success has become a pantomime of the same writing style and setting, regardless if it lacks originality. Even the famous fantasy series popularized by an unknown homeschooler relied on heavy borrowing from the Star Wars movies, to a degree that is almost comical. But it still sold, because publishers are more interested in what fits the market than anything resembling genuine art. It’s not a stretch to say that Paolini would have been laughed out of the room had his book done something truly beyond the bounds of “comfortable” prose.

Le Guin went on:

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an e-book six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

I believe in this case Le Guin was referring to Amazon, and rightly so. The compounding growth of Bezos’ bright-eyed promotion of publishing hides a more sinister reality: Amazon’s attempt to form an effective sales monopoly and reduce current royalty rates. Part of the approach involves encouraging authors to publish with Kindle Create, a clunky and unhelpful software designed to coral authors into the Bezos marketplace indefinitely:

Ultimately, it is hard to say what the future will hold. Perhaps Le Guin is right, and change will arise. For myself, I know that my hesitation in publishing fiction as opposed to non-fiction (and especially self-help), stems from a recognition that the themes depicted in my stories would be swiftly dismissed, if not entirely deleted, from the Amazon platform. But that is the tragedy of being a writer: you can’t help but write, even if the outcome is a pittance. It is an extension of the soul, and not doing so feels tantamount to betrayal of the spirit.   

Culturalism

They Have Always Been This Way

Conservative circles have been hooting and hollering for months now about leftist attempts to exaggerate coronavirus deaths and prolong the visibility of the scamdemic for political purposes. Some go so far as to believe the virus would magically vanish in seriousness if Joe Biden happens to win the election in November. That is, assuming he gets a chance to be inaugurated before Kamala takes the reins.

Neither suggestion is beyond the realm of possibility, but these tactics are by no means new. Since the beginning, actors on the Left have made concerted efforts to manipulate and twist information towards political ends, with little regard for what damage could be done to the lives of individuals affected. This is because at heart they lack all belief in the metaphysical, and thus perceive the world using a purely materialistic stride allied to the attainment of resources and power.

A perfect example lies in the case of the Marzabotto Massacre in September 1944. Popular opinion holds that the commanding German major, Walter Reder, allowed for wanton civilian targeting and destruction in the village while his units closed in on the Red Star Brigade, a notorious partisan group led by Mario Musolei, better known as “Major Lupo.” These perceptions are based upon the testimony of a certain Alsatian collaborator from Reder’s ranks, Julien Legoli, who deserted to the Allies after the event and used the claims to bolster his own position, this despite the fact that no fighting took place in the town when the Red Star Brigade was destroyed.

Thanks to Legoli’s treachery, Reder was arrested in September of 1945 by American forces, who could not substantiate the claims, and thus released him to the British, who were also unsuccessful in determining grounds for war crimes prosecution. Reder was next passed on to Italian authorities, who placed him on trial in the fall of 1951. He would later be convicted and sentenced to life in prison, largely due to fear of communist reprisals if dismissal was reached.

In the words of the British lawyer F.J.P. Veale, who investigated the event, the Marzabotto Massacre amounted to “[…] noting but a Communist fairy tale.” But the Left would not be deterred, and they proceeded to have a mausoleum constructed in the town depicting the names of Reder’s supposed victims, even though this list included everyone who had perished from that region during the war, regardless of location and circumstance.

Reder would sit in an Italian prison until 1985, when he was finally paroled, only to die six years later. His saga serves as a prime example of how the Plural Left has no qualms about manipulating people and data to attain some elusive moral or financial victory. It should be a lesson to all those alive today: those actors on the street and in the media offices are not concerned with truth, or at least not the variety championed by their opponents. What they follow is raw ideology and the grinding need to assume political power, for everything else is death.

Do you still believe they desire tolerance and civil debate?

Culturalism · Federal Government

Of Mods and Generals

Some months back I noted that the generals who conservatives exalt are usually the biggest defenders of the political status quo. This explains why most nationalist coups in recent history have been led by colonels and below; those who have served long enough (and secured fat pensions) are less incentivized to pursue significant changes which might risk their own plot. Conversely, anti-reform coups such as in Thailand are pushed by generals who wish to protect personal interests against movements threatening the establishment. Rarely do we witness divergence from this general (haha) routine.

The events of this past week are no exception. When James Mattis was chosen by Trump as his Defense secretary in 2017, I had strong personal reservations, despite conservative gushing over the “Mad Dog.” Of special concern was his affiliation with Theranos, the scam-worthy company promoted to inflate the net worth of a certain pseudo-Steve Jobs, who now awaits trial on fraud charges. More information on that subject can be had in this book.

I also held reservations about someone with so many years in the military establishment now leading the Department of Defense, because fixtures are rarely reformers, and the DoD badly needs some changes. It was also painfully evident that few generals in recent memory have been particularly upright characters, with the possible exception of Peter Pace, who was quickly silenced for his opinions. Other characters include Stanley “He CARES” McChrystal, David “Double D Declassified” Petraeus, John “La Resistance” Hyten, and of course James “The OG” Crapper. None of these characters inspire confidence or leadership like Patton or Ike, but we’re supposed to honor them because muh uniform.

Thus it came as no surprise to hear of Mattis’ recently-reported folly. According to Bob Woodward, the retired Marine Corps general advised former DNI director Dan Coats that “there may come a time when we have to take collective action” against the president, who he described as “dangerous” and “unfit,” with “no moral compass.” In a surprise to no one, certain people are very thrilled by this story:

While it is true that previous suggestions were made for a coup against Barack Obama, these came from random opinion pieces, and not the mouth of a four-star general and secretary of defense. The concurrence of Dan Coats in part with Mattis’ comments makes it all the more disconcerting. Let us not forget too what Rod Squirrelstein had suggested about the 25th Amendment, along with prominent celebrities. The facts are on the wall, and somehow the tolerant liberal press is not cranking out foreboding warnings of a military junta taking over.

If this seems crazy, bear in mind what Trump just said at a recent press conference:

In our system of government, so brazenly calling out the powers that be can lead to disastrous consequences. Should something drastic occur before the election (or after), the media can be expected to cover it up by blaming some extremist, yet the average American will know what has occurred. We can only pray they do not become so emboldened as to lash out in that manner, for it would mean the charade of the Republic falls, and the mystique of democracy is lain aside.

Culturalism

Did Georges Sorel Predict 2020?

Georges Sorel was a French civil servant who produced political content in the late 1800s and early 1900s. While not renowned today, he expressed a remarkable prescience about what the Western world has devolved into, particularly during the last several years. The following are some truly savage quotes from Reflections On Violence, his most famous work:

Commentary Applicable to Social Media Influencers:

“These are opinions which scarcely touch me, since I have never paid attention to the views of people who think vulgar stupidity the height of wisdom and who admire, above all, men who speak and write without thinking.”

On the Weakness of Government and Police:

“[…]most decisive factor in social politics is the cowardice of government.”

“One of the things which appears to me to have most astonished the workers during the last five years has been the timidity of the forces of law and order in the presence of a riot: the magistrates who have the right to demand services of soldiers dare not use their power to the utmost, whilst officers allow themselves to be abused and struck with a patience hitherto unknown in them.”

On Cowardice Preceding Destruction:

“Capitalist society is so rich, and the future appears to it in such optimistic colours, that it endures the most frightful burdens without complaining overmuch: in America politicians waste large amounts of taxation shamelessly; in Europe military preparation consumes sums that increase every year, social peace might very well be bought by a few additional sacrifices. Experience shows that the bourgeoisie allows itself to be plundered quite easily, provided that a little pressure is brought to bear and that they are intimidated by the fear of revolution.”

“A social policy based on bourgeois cowardice, which consists in always surrendering before the threat of violence, cannot fail to engender the idea that the bourgeoisie is condemned to death and that its disappearance is only a matter of time.”

Culturalism · Personal Finance · Self-Improvement

You’re Already An Individual

The internet seems profoundly obsessed with individualism. People harp on it to no endless degree, promising the wonderful gifts of “financial independence,” self-determination, and purposeful existence. Others present rather basic ideas as miraculous truths, developing followers who aggressively preach the merits of self, while suspiciously eyeing “collectivism” and its assorted malevolence. If cooperation is so much as suggested, these creatures leap to the defensive plane, accusing their opponents of endorsing socialism, or subverting the dignity of liberty. They rush to protect the individualism tribe, and gain immense satisfaction from such fulfilled duty.

A most apt question here would be: why? Once we peel back the outraged drama and look at actual human behavior, the stark individualism of people is manifested in an exaggerated manner which rises to frustrate the suggestion of our aforementioned friends. If anything, society is far more dedicated to the illustrious self than the promoter wishes to imagine.

Suppose for example one is going to purchase a car. Perhaps they will buy something to impress people in close communion with them, or even take friendly advice on the matter. More often than not however, the decision is driven by personal (read: individual) qualities. It could be a beater model, chosen because that chap can’t afford something on the pricier side, or possibly a vehicle which “matches my personality.” Never mind how those folks typically say they are focused and reliable whilst buying a Chrysler; the point remains as an individualistic contention.

Colleges and living spaces are similarly outlined. If it is financially viable, or happily debt-fueled, highschoolers will typically choose an institution with the appropriate program to match their personal interests, preferably in a state or country with enjoyable backdrops. Sure, the skeptic could argue that most college institutions have a Marxist hive mind, but at least in theory the students are exercising a degree of independence and personal choice. Once they graduate, certain cities might hold appeal for the diversity and nightlife, while others retreat to the country roads. Are these normal patterns of human behavior all reflections of some collectivist conspiracy?

Even the push for FIRE lifestyles on the internet dot com invariably leads to more self-centeredness and LESS focus on the community. The act of budgeting away little things like the morning coffee or diner breakfast to save money diminishes the chances of interacting with others and supporting a local (or chain) business. Another clear and present theme in the financial-digital realm is the emphasis on not having kids in order to retire early. As far as the checkbook side of things is concerned, this makes perfect sense; why would anyone reproduce if the cost of raising one child can be as much as $233,000, not counting college? Yet somehow we are not individualistic enough.

Perhaps the real issue is more complicated. We already are highly individualistic, and well-adapted for a consumer capitalist society, but this is not adequate. Instead of people finding meaning in family and community, which have been stained by the collectivist shackles, they turn to some higher level of individualism for salvation. Just a little more self-improvement, positive mindset-building, and financial freedom. Then I’ll be a REAL individual. So Able Earnest proclaims, as his life becomes emptier by the waking second.

This concept collides with Emile Durkheim’s idea of the anomie, or disconnection of individuals from social standards and economic systems commonplace in advanced societies. It develops as a “malady of the infinite,” where the person in question constantly desires more, but cannot be satisfied in the confines of his social system, leading to derangement or possibly suicide. Likewise, modern neoliberal cultures fixate on meritocracy and individualism, while suppressing the value inherent to Bilbo’s “home above gold” or group solidarity versus individualism.

But I’m just a jealous collectivist, so pay no mind.  

investing · Personal Finance

What Holding Long Can Do

The financial world is replete with articles attempting to preach the virtues of strategies such as value investing, contrarianism, options trading, and growth concentration. Each community maintains a certain level of ideological sway, despite the fact that outcomes are not always grand. In this post I want to consider the notion of holding long using the context of Apple stock, which reveals how sometimes the strategy is not just holding, but holding long enough.

Back in August of 2014, I shelled out the money for some shares of the technological behemoth. This was after its legendary stock split, and opinions diverged as to Apple’s ability to deliver continuously in the future. Over the next nine months, the stock climbed slowly to around $130 per share, and I recall the forecasts suggesting it was time to dump the stock and take profits. My commitment to holding long kept true however, and I did not sell.

A year later, Apple had actually receded to a price of around $90 per share, making my unrealized gain bright and red. Although irritated, I still did not submit the sell order. By the end of 2017, the stock was sitting at $175 per share, and seemed destined to continue rising, so I kept my piece. Apple shot up to over $200 per share the following year, only to get hosed in the December 2018 sell-off, and by January 2019 it hovered in the $157 range. In December of 2019, the stock went above its previous high and rested as neighbors of $270.  

From the tail of July 2020 to this day, Apple has jumped from $380 per share to a whopping $500, bringing my six-year return to over 400 percent. What’s more, the company just announced a stock split which stands to quadruple the number of shares I own. And if that’s not enough, I have been paid a dividend (reinvested of course) for the past half-decade.

Not all holding long stories are like this, and indeed many turn out differently, but it gives one an idea of how the process works. At any time during that long period, I might have decided to take profits, worrying of a later decline or collapse. My failure to be brash resulted in a fat return, albeit over time. This is a theme I will be discussing in a future book on investing. Investments rarely pay off quickly, and oftentimes the jewels take months or years to reveal their shine.

So fire up the brokerage account, be at peace with your choices, and forget about them. It seems to have good outcomes.

Culturalism · Federal Government

Left In Disbelief

Much has been made of the COVID-19 panic over the last few months. An otherwise decent economy was put into the ditch by concerned governors, people got reported for not being zealous enough at their distancing measures, and epic debates were held over belief in the virus’ seriousness, or even more than that, its very existence. On the latter point, progressives made stark contrasts between the anti-scientific mutterings of Donald Trump, and the calm, collected rationalism of Fauci the Entertainer, whose belief in science appeared unshakeable, giving  the liberal order a worshipful altar.

Yet the stage only reveals a great tragedy: that leftists believe in nothing, and thus stand for nothing. Their entire existence revolves around a petty and materialistic lust for the immediate moment, for the fleeting blink and thirty-second spell, before a refresh and new paths. Completely incapable of looking past the foggy future, and desperately loathing the crumpled past, they latch onto brief flair, oftentimes without verifying the truth or consistency of prior advocacy. A couple glimpses and the scene changes, having learned little, and contemplated less.

Consider their broader obsession with shutting down and locking up all free actors during the pandemic. Because leftists tend to be irreligious, they naturally view the possibility of sickness (or death) with caterwauling terror. For them there is no afterlife, hence every minute on earth holds value in gold—even if they do spend it locked in a house to discharge tweets of rage against a national leader. The mask, itself a highly dubious  method to prevent transmission, serves as their symbol of collective mortality, and thus billowing ferocity. Any person not observing the guidelines is threatening them, while also showcasing how empty their lives happen to be.

Historically, leftism has not been any different. Mazzini famously criticized the early socialists for predicating their entire movement on material interests, such as pay and working conditions, safely ignoring factors of faith or dedication to community and nation.  Today they screech about healthcare and taxes, both means to allow the bitter souls within a spigot’s burst reason to survive, so again they live in shallow proof.  

If we look to their ultimate principle, that vision enshrining diversity, again the justification is devoid of meaning. Diversity trumpets as a mere check on the opposing side’s power, not for any rational reason apart. Hence the appeals to different cuisines and “global culture,” the latter topic one of little interest to the progressive outside his strictly political realm. For this same reason leftists do not comprehend good comedy: they cannot process any joy outside the fleeting material aspects of party politics, or financial security for themselves. Everything must be in service to goals of self-preservation, no matter contradictions or folly.

The question is imperative because limited faith does not imply affordance of respect for life to others. Progressives have no issue with slaying babies in the womb (or outside), and will make quick work of those who do not fight back. Such behavior is entirely rational, for if they fear death with the terror of a caught fly, inflicting the same on opponents is a natural route to feeling powerful, the unsated lust of every creature unsure of what control they possess when the heart ceases to tick.

And that makes their faith so dangerous.

Self-Improvement · Uncategorized

Don’t Outsource Your Mind

A sad casualty of the information age has been the general dumbing down of arguments made by people, especially on the internet dot com In days past, those who were motivated could read and craft arguments from such sources, with few SparkNotes, 5-minute histories, or other shortcuts available. Less-informed folks might mouth off in a tavern debate, but they had to conjure up wild claims without the generous assistance of a search engine. Faking it took some effort, despite the imperfections.

Today we sense a different horizon. Every Jermaine, Reese, and Zephyr can simply pop a question into Google, hit the search button, and copy-paste a hyperlink purporting to back their claims – even if it comes from the likes of Quora, Yahoo Answers, or perhaps “Ask Jeeves,” if the latter even exists. There’s no prerogative to read the actual body text or explore citations, because  what supports them MUST be accurate and beyond reproach.

On the surface level this dynamic is not so problematic, yet it renders a larger-than-life proportion of the national population quite confident in their own opinions, no matter how incomplete those thoughts might be. The internet’s affordance of little introspection for their purposes means those fragile links serve to enhance the ego, and assure a diminished likelihood of further investigation of the material. After all, with that argument remanded to the “settled science” cranial bin, what more is needed?

Perhaps a great deal. Unfortunately, the people who bother to distill petty emotions and look at raw information are left victims of fellow internet people and their mindless bloviation. Since the former group tends to be humbler and more patient, discussions typically end with their voice being drowned out by a million smug cries from the effectively illiterate. Ambition to change the norm shatters upon a weathered hill where the shallow brains defecate pure dopamine satisfaction, while always thirsting for more.

In the interest of not becoming one of these said gremlins, it is imperative to be illiberal with the surrender of your mind. Before wading into a debate, pause to consider how thoroughly the concept has been understood. Failing to do so can result in a situation where bluster and invented facts are necessary to remain credible, methods avoidable when adequate preparation is undertaken. Sure, the appeal is significantly less wonderful, but  at least time is not wasted by lowering ethical standards merely to survive.

Just a (measured and researched) thought.

Uncategorized

How To Replace a Flush Valve

Thought I would mix things up a bit with this for those who are DIY-inclined. If you don’t have a stomach for plumbing then I’d advise skipping the pics.

Here it is in original glory.
The model I chose
Shut off the water by turning to the RIGHT, assuming the original plumber knew what he was doing.
Place a bucket underneath the spot where the valve is connected.
FLUSH the toilet to drain water out of the tank.
You’re left with a mostly-empty tank. This will get fully drained on account of the bucket.
Unscrew the grey piece FIRST.
Now the white nut gets unscrewed (Good for him).
(Expect water to drain out into the bucket at this point).
And the old valve comes out easily enough with that step complete.
Next, remove the clip from the lever hole.
The flapper comes off next. You’ll have to unclip it from the hinges on the overflow cylinder.
It’s pretty nasty. This thing was probably over ten years old.
Ahh, the fresh flapper in connected, easily snapping into the hinge piece.
Add the rubber washer to the new flush valve, screwing in so the ring part is pointing down. This will go into the lower tank hole.
One side of the tubing goes into the tower nozzle.
The other end into the clip piece.
Things looking a bit clunky now, but a fix will come.
Quick trim plus gets the tube size down, allowing for smooth install. Also note the clip on the opposite side of the cylinder.
Now put the new nut back in place, screwing till it’s tight, but don’t wrench it on.
Water line goes back in place.
Now you can turn the water back on a take a flush!