Culturalism · Personal Finance · Self-Improvement

The Internet Entitlement Mentality

A visible phenomenon I’ve witnessed over years as an online personality is the general peevishness shown by younger people towards any information on the internet with a price tag. They have no problem adding stuff to the cart on mom’s Prime subscription, but once outside the safe zone of parental compensation, everything seems too expensive. Not only that, but the very act of placing an item for sale is responded to with derision and outrage, as if the seller has some nefarious or insincere motivation behind their storefront.

It’s worth chasing an explanation of just why this behavior occurs. To start, we must recognize that few present partakers had any role in the creation of the internet machine, and even less possessed the intellectual capacity to even conceptualize it before Internet Explorer was the bomb. Those higher IQ folks who did join the party managed to create a fairly-accessible model, bound up in their idealism and general libertarian philosophy. They obviously monetized the juggernaut with advertisements, but as far as regular browsing and access, one doesn’t pay per page, or per download, save through subscription to a service provider.

Consequently, young people have been brought up with the idea that all content is free, unless of course they wish to donate to a pair of yoga pants on OnlyFans. Millions of hours on YouTube, an open access encyclopedia, and free educational services make youthful souls believe only their own mindset is a limitation, not money or credit. So naturally the moment a person attempts (even if they didn’t) to generate some return on their offerings, the digital liberty peepers are back to screech about “grifting,” or “taking advantage of us.”

The former claim strikes as rather odd, because such behavior seems more attune with a person asking for donations which are unneeded, or using corruption in government to profit. On the flip side, presenting some products for purchase at low price tags, with the option to return digital options within a week for refund, hardly falls into the same category.  If anything, it simply displays a reality containing the sacrifices of life, particularly when hours are poured into a single work. Gaining a modest (and often negligible) return from that effort is the principle, one that many of course reject outright. As for the secondary possibility, no one is forced to buy, yet they still grumble.

Part of the issue might relate to differences between creatives and consumers. The first squad understands the struggles of late nights, edits, curriculum-building, research, and design. They have lived the casualty time now lying as distant memory, and wish to recuperate a sliver of what’s lost, more in honor of those hours spent than for financial reasons. Our latter friends simply view the finalized piece and hide behind their glistened frustration that someone might make money, or is simply daring to do so. “It should be free,” becomes their long-standing cry, as castigation for merchants with the gall to become better rise upon lips.  

At the end of the day, the entitlement mentality will only worsen if jobs become scarce in the future. Deprived of money – or at least more than a pittance – the Zoomer-tier Moolenials shall rain spiritual anger down upon the independent content creator, banishing him to parts unknown, where attention is little and peace of mind abundant. Then the angry freedom fellow will mozy on to Amazon, and add some more items to his mom’s cart, perhaps now funded by that seductive Freedom Dividend.  

Culturalism · investing · Personal Finance · Self-Improvement

How Long Will The Simple Yet Be Mocked?

Sometime back I produced a video concerning the problems entailed by our dalliance with modernity and technological progress. My penultimate suggestion was for people to re-embrace nature, opting for smaller communities with solid values over the cosmopolitan sprawl, or farms instead of NYC apartments. In response, lurid and sarcastic replies bubbled up from the happy Ethernet cords wrapped around the electric maze of the world. They smugly advised, “Practice what you preach,” the comfortable retort that allows irritated lumps to quickly resettle into the brain-destroying digital resort without feeling a call to change.

For the record, I have already made leaps and bounds in the “less-grid” direction. I own a decent plot of land with two well systems, a garden, and a large walnut tree. Composting is a regular practice, and I am gradually shedding processed foods from the dietary plane, in many cases creating consumables from scratch. My skills with crafting clothes by hand are not immaculate, but they improve on the regular.

None of those disclaimers should matter insofar as the thrust of history is concerned, however. Recent reports, which are only surprising to the uninformed and socialist, suggest Wall Street is now delving into futures contracts involving water. The development has tickled many concerned senses because of projected water shortages, with two-thirds of the planet’s population expected to face supply issues by 2025, with many already experiencing the unpleasantness.

Enlightened folks have seen this coming for years. The incessant push for growth, for globalization and free movement of peoples, all in the name of economic profit, can lead but in one direction. As basic natural resources shrink and the gluttonous thirst to build more continues unabated, there will be further attempts to buy up valuable land and lord it over the poorest of creatures. Even the homeless squatter in the woods may find himself litigated out of existence so some sycophantic corporation can expand its quarterly earnings report. The dreaded sludge seeps on.

What can any lone man do? Resist with lifestyle choices. Take your wallet and carefully consider where to settle, hopefully escaping the pollution and scum-populated urban areas for distant peace. If funds are not available for a house, buy the land itself, preferably with access to fresh water. Get a camper or a van to start with. Look into solar and gravity-powered technologies. Learn to cook. Respect natural systems and work to preserve them. Read so you understand the problem.

As for investment options, look into Xylem and PIO as starting points, along with others. The former has experienced a decent run, and I’ve witnessed its penetration on a local basis too. PIO thus far hasn’t wowed anyone, but that could change. Watch out for that pricey expense ratio, which currently clocks in around 0.75%.

More than anything, be prepared to swim, even if you dance amid the sands of a dry wasteland.       

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 · 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.  

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.

Relations and Dating · Self-Improvement

We Occupy Different Worlds

There is an awful lot of emphasis on “coming together” and “being one tribe” in today’s world, both before and after the death of Coors Light. Companies can’t stop preaching the virtues, politicians are ever-willing to trot out their statements of welcome, and educational leaders do much the same. We are all one, they seem to mutter, and you best believe it.

The only problem is, reality tells a starkly different story. Depending on who we are and where we come from, our perceptions and experiences stand to be radically disparate in nature, regardless of how much propaganda can be hoisted to block out those facts. No serious person is going to argue that the 6’4’’ white man has any realistic identification or solidarity with a 5’2’’ Hispanic guy. Perhaps if they work in the same economic field we might witness some closeness, but each will be reacted to as though they are two entirely separate creatures, based on skin tone and height. Only an exasperated fool would attempt to join them.   

In the field of dating, those differences matter, as we well know. The same could be true of a fit and lipped Latina versus a 250lb “Baby blue eyes” blonde. Is anyone willing to argue that somehow they are on even terms? (This excluding the Alt-Right and minority men who worship skin color). Differences matter, and no one actually believes the aforementioned claptrap unless they have to.

Now some empowered soul will stand and declare, “You’re wrong! It’s a about equality under the law.” Please humor me more. Is a working class person without financial resources liable to be treated the same as a rich fellow who can pay for the fancier esquire? The answer is not in doubt, but citizens are expected to cover their eyes and ears.

Even in the economic realm, disparities translate into divided universes. The college kid whose parents are loaded has far more freedom in terms of extracurricular activities and graduate schools than another specimen forced to pay their own way. I am reminded of the self-righteous classmate who mocked me for having a summer job in university while he took a stipend from the parents for an unpaid internship with the high and mighty. Means lead to starkly opposite ends, at least in the medium term.

As time goes on, this prevailing truth continues to manifest itself in the public square. There is no debate that BMM supporters view the world differently than “Defend the Police” adherents. Certainly Democrats and Republicans have separate views of legitimacy, which raises the deafening cry of what will happen in November 2020, regardless of the outcome.

Will everyone unite, because “We’re all Americans after all”?

Personal Finance · Self-Improvement

Restoring Goldberg Manor: Part III

So it has been a while, but certainly not for reasons of inaction or work shyness. A number of significant reforms have already occurred, and two major projects (roof and windows) are in progress. I thought I would give everyone an update here for good measure.

Re-Screening of Porch Door

Before:

Notice the large hole…bad news when the mosquito Staceys come calling.

After:

Installation of New Bedroom Lock

Before:

After:

The holes would later get puttied in, and will be painted at some point.

New Screws for GEM Pump

Before:

After:

I am not happy with the Rustoleum paint’s efficacy. This was after all the metal parts got a week-long coke bath.
I have ordered a chain plus buckets, so my next move is to replace the rotting base wood.

Dryer and Washer Install

Before:

After:

I will be having this drywall worked on soon, but the shifted location for the washer is far more convenient.
Don’t have a before pic on this exact spot, but you get the idea.

Personal Finance · Self-Improvement

How To Make Clothes Last

Clothing is THE critical issue. Around the nation, it drives people to their weekend or mid-week shopping sprees, greased so often by the need to appear “hip” or “sexy” on the Instagram dot com. Coming off as poorly-dressed is often associated with less respect, diminished romantic prospects, and even difficulty making money.  To show how serious the question is, reports indicate that the average American expels around $150 per month for clothing and related services – no small joke when the average income is under 64k before taxes. The sweatshop stitching intensifies.

Although less common as a financial topic, preservation of clothes is a fantastic way to break from the norm and spare a crying wallet more pain. What’s more, it need not fly at the expense of style or comfort, assuming certain steps are followed. The key aspect is to understand garments for what they are, obtain enough of them, and treat each one with the utmost respect.

Socks

Probably the last thing folks think about, even though they serve such a glorious purpose by keeping feet healthy and comfortable. Everyone knows socks wear out, but far less consider how this can be mitigated effectively. For one, purchase enough pairs so you have two for every day of the week. This allows for swapping at midday, which improves circulation to the toes and avoids too much strain being placed on the fabric. Consider a pair of slippers for the house, and avoid walking in socks on the driveway, where rough splotches can tear at the threads.

Also be sure to invest in a quality darning egg and stitching kit. When the heel or toes begin to show off more skin than a tradcon would approve of, you can fix them up lickety-split. Through this strategy I have been able to maintain pairs of Dickies going back 5 years, which beats purchasing a new pack every few months.

T-Shirts

Here again, quantity helps with longevity. Another useful approach is to buy more synthetic and polyester materials than cotton. Sure, they might feel tacky, but the quick-drying and sweat-wicking fabrics just feel nice, and seem to last longer, even without a Nugenix pill. I’ve had a surprisingly good experience with Wal-Mart’s Dri-Star materials, and you can go premium if that brings more satisfaction. Regardless, make sure to turn them inside out when washing, as this both cleans the fabric better and limits wear on the front. This is doubly true for any shirt (such as a uniform) that has velcro pockets.

Shorts/Briefs

Try to hand-wash these guys, including the sporty versions, as a means of increasing shelf life. I have seen some absolute tragedies coming out of the washing machine and dryer due to the underlying design. Adidas and Nike for example tend to leave the interior stitches exposed, and those threads will wear out rapidly when being tossed around.  If exercise shorts must go in a washer, remember to lace the drawstring up a couple times; doing so prevents it from getting dragged into the waistband by your machine’s impeller.

Pants

While it is fine to throw some pairs in the washer, they should be handled with care and turned inside out. Do not let them sit in the machine after it finishes. Instead, shake them out and place in the dryer for 10-15 minutes before hanging up to air-dry. Placing slacks or jeans in the dryer for long periods of time can result in damage to the buttons and belt loops, or even shrinkage. Get a decent iron and smooth out the wrinkles when they are dry before either folding them for a drawer or hanging the rascals up.

Washing In General

If it is not already a primary theme, limiting the use of washing machines and dryers is important (if not always practical) as we seek to preserve clothing. The reason why I emphasize synthetics is because they require less time in the dryer and can return to wearable status faster on even a lukewarm day than a piece of cotton will. Unless you are big into those fancy Gain or Downy scent pods, just consider a nice environmental detergent and be done with it. The especially brave might even try out a wash rack, but that is only for the muscled arms among you.

Finally, when a piece of cloth must be retired, keep to mind that it might be compostable, or even made into a cleaning cloth. This will not function as well for synthetics, but cotton socks can serve as excellent shoeshine pieces, and t-shirts past their prime become excellent rags or mopping heads. Alternatively, trim them up and add to a compost pile. Nothing wrong with that.

Culturalism · Self-Improvement

When Positivity is Delusional

A frequent criticism I’ve received over the years is that I’m too negative, at least when contrasted with the saucer-eyed, “Heeey guyyyz” entertainers potted about on the Internet dot com. The primary factor might be my voice, which has always been described as monotone, even when I am not trying to be, but at any rate the perception sticks, regardless of what is being discussed. I have of course made the distinction between realism and cynicism where folks accuse me of the latter, yet the chatterbirds continue shrieking, because they want something positive.

The problem is, positivity can often be a mask for real issues. The country is burning from communist-fueled riots, and our currency continues to hyperinflate, but no worries, because there is a nice Independence Day parade, and flags aplenty. There are monster video game birds to beat, and softer bird varieties to game in real life.  Pills can cure diseases, and even bring smiles to the depressed, providing we all remain upbeat and happy. Just listen to the music, and slowly mong to some Snow Patrol. It’ll be ok.

In this way the positivity gospel becomes so fanatical that any dissent is viewed with derision and seen as heresy. No matter how “positive” the intentions of the messenger might be, his interruption of the comfortable norm means he must be labeled as a depressing fatalist or misanthrope. That innocent act of pricking the lovely bubble of punchbowl ecstasy makes him marked for erasure, lest he otherwise white-out their splendid existence.

But of course unfettered positivity is dangerous, and the responsible souls must call it out. How can anyone fathom telling a man to wed a harlot, or buy a car at 18 percent APR, just because it carries a good attitude to the fore? Should you abandon the youth to become rabble merely so no one’s Mozilla-endorsed “be proud of yourself” groove is thrown off by an elderly curmudgeon?

Positivity advocates will of course respond by claiming they do not actually support such ideals, yet their actions are telling. There is only so much that self-talk, weight-lifting, and pro-energy dieting can accomplish before an individual is forced to be honest (read: a realist) and make changes that will  ruffle the feathers of that “slap you bro’s ass” crowd and their committed Wayne Newton smiles.

As for myself, I will continue to speak out, because while we may not successfully mobilize the masses, every mind pinged might just nudge another in the right direction.  The momentum could become a waterfall, then perhaps collapse into a gushing ocean. Things might just change.

And to be honest, that sounds pretty positive.