Culturalism · Self-Improvement

Out of Time

When we are young, viewpoints tend to be informed but whatever structure or experience is immediately surrounding us. This might include features such as religion, class level, familial structure, or household setting. Over time we (hopefully) get the chance to expand our sphere of understanding through education and the pursuit of association with a wide variety of experiences which can serve to dislodge or strengthen prior opinions, depending on the impact. Ideally, the typical person will evolve gradually into a well-rounded individual with personal drive for learning and the humility to continue growing throughout life.

That is, ideally. In the torrid reality of our existence, few people bother venturing past the “Drop Off,” where  they might actually face challenges to long-held opinions. Instead, what has been known and accepted for years is simply reinforced, not forcibly through validating scenarios, but a general inability to scrap together the time needed for such change to occur. Busyness, or the impression thereof, simply lays the foundation of contended indifference towards the unknown frontier.

As noted before, this severe shortage of hours (or lack of access) can prove radically dehabilitating to the anxious mind. Millennials are the first generation to have steady means of getting on the Internet dot com, yet even there the pockets of time available for superficial research – let alone critical reading—are minor between work and digital socialization routines.   One almost has to demand the blocked out portion of a given day or weekend to ensure it occurs, and even in that case the guarantee falls less than confidently.

Now, should the research get started in earnest, the relative speed of accrual can still present a bedeviling reality for curious learners. Books take time to finish if they are going to be covered concretely, and certainly note-taking can extend this process. Then there is the question of which others to read, and the specific order of tackling, plus the overall reliability of the authors. Things can swiftly become a minefield of careful assessment and budgeting to determine precisely what writers are worthy of attention, or the most generic respect.

Perhaps more crucially, the aforementioned debate over order could serve to delay access of an important source. Taking the example of dieting books, if a person avoids reading a particular title for one or two years due to time constraints, they are likely to have gone that entire period potentially eating foods that are unhelpful to bodily prosperity. There is no basis to indict their ignorance, as it remains unwilling, yet the long-term consequences stay grim. Thus we are all victims of what we do not  yet know, and may never until it is too late.  

Is there any more saddening realization?

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”?

Culturalism · Uncategorized

Democracy’s Free Pass

Historical myopia is incredible. After reading through countless books on the early 20th Century nationalist movements, I have determined there is no Western scholar incapable of twisting events into an indictment of particular figures, strictly on the basis of them not being popularly elected. Wherever and however, they stretch the truth so as to hold anti-democratic regimes accountable for standards far beyond the reach of liberal opponents, even when the evidence is glaring.

Case in point: Benito Mussolini. Most writers will concede that his rule was relatively benign, with the harshest punishment for enemies usually entailing imprisonment on islands or in small villages, not the dreadful conditions of some concentration camp. Nevertheless, they persist, scraping at any random example to find fault. For Mussolini, this is the claim that he killed countless Ethiopians with poison gas, because he wanted their land. The less-examined record of course reveals that the weapon was used sparingly at specific infrastructure sites, and as a response to the African nation’s longtime atrocities, including the use of exploding bullets on Italian soldiers. None of that is relevant though, because he was a fascist, and that makes him a war criminal.  

Now suppose we examine for a second the legacy of Barack Obama, our former commander-in-chief. As president, he authorized the killing of over 3,700 people using drone strikes, with over 300 of those being civilians. More than this, he went so far as to brag about his ability to end the lives of the targets, most of whom were brown Middle Eastern people:

“Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

His crowning achievement in this regard was the shelling of Libya, which culminated in an attack on the convoy carrying Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan leader reportedly asked his attackers “What did I do to you?” as he was sodomized with a bayonet , beaten, and shot to death. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (another empowered product of democracy) cackled about the killing, saying “We came, we saw, he died.”

Just like that. Pure sadism and mass murder, yet how many scholars have written (or will write) books describing Obama as a war criminal? Will Hillary sit awkwardly in a Nuremberg defense box, awaiting the ultimate penalty? Might children grow up absorbing histories about the cruelty and vicious nature of these figures, and how justice was done?

Of course not. They were democratically elected, and therefore all actions taken, whether for “national security” or “the promotion of human rights,” stand to be moderately brushed away as acceptable. Sure, one or two historians will bring up the drone issue, but only as a minor footnote on the page of “controversy,” a term which alone nullifies all seriousness. Chances are, such creatures will end up being celebrated by children for their bravery, tenacity, and progressiveness.

Cast a few votes, and suddenly the rules don’t apply.

Book Reviews · Culturalism

Russert Family Wisdom

This past week I read through Big Russ and Me, an autobiographical tale from the late Tim Russert, one of the last genuine journalists in America. Although a self-described Democrat, he made an effort to present unbiased and competitive material on Meet The Press, heralding an era of media practice which has long since ridden off into the glorious sunset. Unsurprisingly, his book is filled with exceptional anecdotes and lessons in wisdom from both himself and his father, so I decided to recount some of them in this post.

On Meeting People

“Dad insisted on a firm handshake, and he worked with me until I developed one. ‘When you meet somebody,[…] you want to make them feel that you’re proud and happy to know them. So don’t put a wet fish in their hand. Give that hand a good shake, snap your wrist, and look them in the eye. People are people, and if they like you, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Treat them the way you’d like to be treated.’”

On Family Honor

“All I’m asking—wait, I’m not asking, I’m telling you—is, Don’t do anything to embarrass our family name. If you embarrass yourself, you embarrass all of us. We all make mistakes, but if you go out there and do something you know you shouldn’t be doing, that’s a tough one.”

On The Role of a Father

Russert talks about growing up in Buffalo, New York during the 50s and 60s, when most men held two or three jobs to make end meet. This was simply the way of life, although I’m sure it might seem like a anathema to some of the manosphere. He sums it up as follows:

“The primary obligation of a husband and a father was to provide for his family, and if it meant working two jobs, that was what you did.”

On Identity Politics

During the 1960 presidential campaign, Russert describes the excitement among Irish Catholics over the ascendancy of John F. Kennedy. His father’s friend Edwin Dill asks him about this:

“Timmy, why are you for Kennedy?

“Because he’s Irish Catholic,” I replied.

“And if there was a barber who couldn’t cut hair, and he was Irish Catholic, would you go to him?”

On Weak Parenting

“In this respect, I believe that parents of my generation have often failed our kids. We are so eager to be understanding and sympathetic that we end up being too lenient, even as we further undermine the already diminished authority of teachers, coaches, and principals.”

On Buying a Luxury Car

After Russert made it big in the news media, he offered his father any luxury car he wanted as a gift. “Big Russ” asked only for a Ford Crown Vic, with the following explanation:

“Do I think it’s  a better car? No, of course not. But If I came home with a big fancy Cadillac, do you know what people would say? ‘What happened to Tim? He’s showing off. He got too big for us. His kid made it and how he’s driving a Cadillac.’ No, I can’t do that. A Mercedes? A Lexus? Can’t do that either. We beat those guys in the war. This is what I want: a good American car. This is who I am, all right?”

On Student Loans

His father had an interesting idea of student assistance for college which makes a lot of sense in principle when we think of the national debt problem:

“If you can’t repay those loans, that money won’t be there for the next kid.”

“The sooner you pay them off, the sooner that money will be there for somebody else.”

On the Vietnam War

‘’We can be for peace without supporting the enemy. We can be against the war without rooting for the other side.”

On Human Loss

After a childhood friend of his died, Russert’s dad attempted to comfort him:

“Would it have been better if Paul’s family had never known him? Or should they be grateful, even in their grief, for nineteen years of love and memories? Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence had suffered a terrible loss, but if they had been offered the possibility of having Paul in their lives for nineteen years, they would have taken the deal without question.”

On Advice For His Son

“You do, however, owe this world something. To live a good and decent and meaningful life would be the ultimate affirmation of Grandpa’s lessons and values. The wisest commencement speech I ever was all of fifteen words: ‘The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone else up.'”

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.

Culturalism · Relations and Dating · Self-Improvement

The Importance of Keeping a Journal

“Those fateful days, robust hours, frightful minutes, all lost to the shimmering gray wall of forever.”

Not sure where that quotation came from, so we’ll just say Martin Goldberg. At any rate, it touches upon one of the most direct arguments I can make for the maintenance of a daily – if not at least every other day—written journal. This remains one of the most crucial habits you can adopt in life, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the practice is relatively uncommon.

As human beings, our capacity for long-term memory is relatively limited. Most of us cannot remember in detail a single day twenty years ago, or even one two weeks passed. It could be something to do with the monotony of everyday life, yet the realization is no less disconcerting under that lens. It is probably not a stretch to say that 97 percent of your life is a frantic blur, and that is somehow acceptable. I try to even but I simply cannot.

Think of the memories, the specifics, whether good or bad, all dashed to pieces in short order, their legacies gone before a second breath. The magnitude is an overwhelming spell of terror. What’s more, those absent slices of time make up your life.

On this very hill we must consider the value of a journal. By jotting down specific notes of what went on and who was involved, the individual crafts an enduring story which can outsmart the mind and leave imprints to be rediscovered in later days. There is no more – or certainly less—of the scrambling wonder, the attempt to recall a name or face, especially as you gaze down the churning tide of advanced age. Instead of being a stumbled and haggard crone reaching for the vanished past, you can feel the touch of scrolls, the scent of faded ink, the love of days gone by but never perished. You have the ability to return, and to revisit.

Now of course at some point you may pass on into that place beyond the stars, where few souls have gone and reported back. Yet with a journal you live on. The heart of the child, young or grown to fill difficult shoes, will look at and enter the mind of his father, feel the echoes of the time, the memory he was too small to experience. Daughters will find the wisdom of their mother, what things she loved, the joy that spoke, rich tears all cried. The legacy will be one living, from time towards a horizon eternal.

All fault of a pen touched gently to the paper.