– “I would rather be caught in a gay brothel dealing in underage boys than in a voting booth. The two are equally degrading, but voting carries the further implication of low intelligence.” Fred Reed

– The Paleo Retiree has a three part series on the financial crisis: here, here and here.

– I’ve made fun of “happiness” studies before and this study nicely sums up my objection to them. In sum, “happiness” equals short-term, costless comfort.

Democracy and total war.

– Heartiste on truth.

– Freedom means nothing if it doesn’t mean allowing illegals to practice law.

Pearls of wisdom (thanks to dearieme in the comments).

Sex at Yale.

– More from Kalb on the ’60s.

Mangan on porn.

28 Responses to Randoms

  1. spandrell says:

    “In sum, “happiness” equals short-term, costless comfort.”

    And what does meaning stand for?
    Being able to forty years in the future make up a narrative where your effort paid off?
    Everyone can do that. In fact everyone does that. We call it grandpa’s storiex

    • Foseti says:

      I guess my larger point is that “happiness” by definition (of these studies) precludes any significant accomplishment, as any significant accomplishment entails some discomfort, however temporary.

      • spandrell says:

        Yeah but given the priorities of most people today, I’d rather have them pursue easy happiness than try to ‘make a difference’. GIven bad premises, most accomplishments are prone to be harmful.

      • asdf says:


        What exactly are you criticizing?

        The entire idea of meaning? I call bullshit because we all understand what Foseti is talking about. Intellectually, personally, etc. You know if something has meaning deep down or not. Do we need to waste time proving this concept?

        “I’d rather have them pursue easy happiness than try to ‘make a difference’.”

        I get this, but think of it taken at face value to. Such a philosophy would be to become a Machiavellian villain with no virtue or even strength. The ultimate endgame for such a stance is ward of the state.

        If we take your line at face value we end up with Honey Boo Boo. When you watch the show these people seem moderately happy. And they do the easiest happiest thing at any given moment. Yet, don’t all of us watching see intense ugliness. That there is something inherently wrong with that lifestyle.

  2. RS-prime says:

    > I’ve made fun of “happiness” studies before

    Pleasure and pain not opposites . . . the feeling of power . . .

  3. spandrell says:

    Of course I know what Foseti is talking about. But I don’t think everybody is able to achieve meaningfulness.
    And given how meaning is likely to be construed these days, we’re better off with Honey Boo Boo.
    Don’t know about you fellas but I know a lot of people who have given up a happy life seeking meaning in their lives. It isn’t pretty.

    • josh says:

      The Honey Boo Booification of America is a result of the intentional destruction of traditional ways of finding real meaning that were available to everyone. As Kalb points out in the linked article, the managerial regime has reduced us to consumers, employees, and enjoyers of occasional diversion. You are endorsing this and thus fighting on the side of the enemies of Truth.

      While the managerial system encourages some to find “meaning”, by which they mean to “create their own meaning” as another sort of diversion, this is no more necessary nor destructive than the lie that reduces a human life to a stream of sensations. Look at Detroit; it isn’t *just* about IQ. Look at the life that comes from denial of higher purpose (even their religion is of the Creflo Dollar variety). Know it by its fruits.

      If people have bad premises, give them better ones, if you have them to give.

    • asdf says:

      Meaning isn’t that hard. My Dad did a boring job for 40 years. However, he raised a family, was an active participant in the local community, and generally tried to be a good person. If you asked him about the meaning in his life he would point to grandkids, friends, accomplishments (of the local variety perhaps, but still accomplishments).

      Meaning doesn’t have to mean great man of history meaning. For the most part the formula is pretty simple. Family, community, good works.

      • josh says:

        We should not oversimplify the difficulty of modern life, though. The community is dead. It was murdered by suburbs, television, six lane highways, modern public schools, and the end of restrictive covenants. It needs to be rebuilt, but it is not even easy to find good works. Everything requires more initiative than most people are capable of.

        The family is gasping for air, but the large family is as dead as community. Propaganda, debt peonage, the anti-community legal/government system, the disruption of the marriage market, feminist make-work made necessary, cheap illegal labor. We can’t just live meaningfully anymore like our grandparents could; we really do need to fight.

      • asdf says:

        Yes, my point was just a counter to Spandrell. It used to be easy. Its not “inherentely” hard to live a meaningful life. It’s as hard as we make it.

  4. Hey, thanks for the link.

  5. spandrell says:

    “We should not oversimplify the difficulty of modern life, though. The community is dead. It was murdered by suburbs, television, six lane highways, modern public schools, and the end of restrictive covenants. It needs to be rebuilt, but it is not even easy to find good works. Everything requires more initiative than most people are capable of.”

    Exactly. I am not endorsing shit, but we aren’t getting in the position of giving people premises any time soon, so let’s acknowledge reality. Liberals are in power, liberals define ‘meaning’. I’d rather have proles fart on TV than have them try to do ‘good’. Look at the game blogosphere and those horny kids travelling around to find ‘meaning’ by fucking third world skanks. All proudly blogging with a messianic bent: they are being MEN. hah

    I have a lot of respect for Jim Kalb, but what he’s saying is not that liberals are evil. What he’s saying is that society has become too complex for the average IQ, so smart people have set up a system where everyone has to go through them and they can use their position to rip off everyone else.

    While the managers ripping people off is bad, society isn’t going back to medieval simplicity. So traditional understandings aren’t coming back either. There’s a world out there where people still live by their traditional understandings. It’s quite wholesome in many ways, but it sure isn’t pretty. Go to Egypt and check it out.

    • josh says:

      Modernity was not a response to complexity. Modernity is a totalitarian scheme that becomes complex as it becomes more unwieldy. It also has at least one single point of failure. At some point things are going to get disastrously simple. When that happens, Natural Law will still be there.

      Anaesthetized proles are not a small favor to be thankful for, they are part and parcel of a regime bent on destruction of natural (it goes beyond traditional) human social arrangements from the individual, to the family, the community, the nation, the ethnos, the Church. Sit at home and consume mass culture and forget you share anything with your neighbors (you probably don’t actually share anything more than a tax bracket anyway). Celebrate some “Modern Family” laugh at a Honey Boo Boo with what you can only assume is the rest of the population that you never actually encounter.

      I don’t even know if I am responding to you at this point, but this stuff just pisses me off and I can’t believe anyone with a clue would not be pissed off by it.

      • spandrell says:

        I don´t like it, God knows I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I think there’s an easy alternative. Good luck with Natural Law.
        Modernity is, at least partly, a response to the scientific method. You can’t talk politics if you think everything is contingent to some evil human will. No wonder you’re pissed.

      • josh says:

        The scientific method is not a metaphysics. It never implied a metaphysics. People that turned a method into a metaphysics did it for the same reasons mankind has always denied non-material reality. Foolish pride. It wasn’t the first time, it won’t be the last, and Isaac Newton was neither necessary nor sufficient for the rise of modern Gnosticism. It seems an innate tendency for humans to want to elevate themselves to the level of Gods.

        In some sense, everything is a response to everything else. People are behaving rationally when they delay marriage, or forgo children. They are responding to changing prices and systems of social status. Even the people who have gradually altered the traditional human way of life did so as a rational response to a changing world. Sadly, what started the world changing was not a rational response to some new-found Truth, but a prideful response to some old, attractive falsehoods. After a centuries long march, the social world is simply a mess of lies. We are forced to lie to each other about the most basic trivial aspects of life. As moldbug recently wrote, we are going to have to pay the tab for this.

    • asdf says:


      We keep coming back to the same point. It’s counter productive to constantly be thinking about “the system”. The system is made up of individuals. It can present carrots and sticks and influence people, but its individuals that respond to them. If they choose not to the system has no power over them.

      Even in this modern era there are people that choose another way (orthodox religious communities). And while it may take a long time they are winning the war (they are the only ones having kids; the future belongs to those that show up for it). I understand that is breathtakingly slow, but God doesn’t much care about a single human lifetime. And he doesn’t really care about “society”. He cares about individual souls in society. If you live a good life you will be saved regardless of what happens to Sodom and Gemmorrah.

      I would not waste too much time thinking about how to save society. Simply do what you know is right. If everyone did the same the problem of saving society becomes infinetely easier.

      • spandrell says:

        We are talking past each other. I’m not designing a roadmap for salvation. I’m curious on how we got into this mess.

        Saying that society doesn’t exist is Margaret Thatcher. Hardly a friend of ours.

      • Handle says:

        I’m glad to see you asdf and spandrell try to hash this out, though the conversation could use some organization and common premises. Moldbug’s vision of what to do about this in a hypothetical, post-apocalyptic, societal reconstitution always seemed to be a kind of neo-fuedal, benevolent-slavery state. A kind of modernized, corporate-ruled, ante-bellum South.

        I just think it’ll look a lot like the military. Plenty of servicemembers tend to feel or derive out of their work the “meaning”, “importance”, “belonging”, “community”, “camaraderie”, etc. – all those important components of psychological and social satisfaction and the terms you’re dancing around.

        They are given just as much complexity in their own lives and responsibility over others as they can handle but no more. You get a lot a lot of the same things handed to you free same as the welfare state, but with the added requirement that you do as you are ordered. And what they cannot handle, and accurately evaluating what they can handle, is the responsibility of their superiors.

        Personal freedom is a privilege coupled to one’s rank which is roughly correlated to one’s capacity for responsibility and ordered liberty. Discipline is firm, but is supposed to favor a paternalistic and rehabilitative aspect to preserve manpower and investments in human capital. (Obviously this all goes out the window when the numbers have to shrink due to budgeting).

        Now, unfortunately, the actual military as a warfighting institution in an increasingly complex battle-space is not a good place for lower proles. It’s more mentally demanding than most people imagine being a good soldier nowadays. The bottom third of the bell-curve in cognitive ability has been excluded for decades (with certain ethnic consequences), and more recently, with the economy and labor market being the way it is, it’s more like the bottom half. The dumbest Soldier seems pretty dull, but he’s smarter than around 100-150 Million Americans, and practically a genius compared to 60 Million of them. Frightening thought.

        But, fortunately, a military structure doesn’t mean a military function – it’s just an alternative way to organize a society that is particularly good at dealing with this particular human problem of different needs for different classes – a problem that seems to be getting seriously and rapidly worse.

        At least the military was good at this historically – a lot of important traditions are being bulldozed in the name of equality of course, but could be easily revived. It’s also got its obvious unpretty downsides, but your cynical evaluation of its desirability should focus on your estimate on where in the hierarchy you would fit. Will it happen absent the zombie apocalypse? No.

  6. asdf says:

    Caught Casablanca on TV last night. Some great quotes.

    Rick: Don’t you sometimes wonder if it’s worth all this? I mean what you’re fighting for.

    Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.

    Rick: Well, what of it? It’ll be out of its misery.

    Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart.

    Rick: Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you’re getting on that plane with Victor where you belong.

    Ilsa: But, Richard, no, I… I…

    Rick: Now, you’ve got to listen to me! You have any idea what you’d have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten, we’d both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn’t that true, Louie?

    Captain Renault: I’m afraid Major Strasser would insist.
    Ilsa: You’re saying this only to make me go.

    Rick: I’m saying it because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

    Ilsa: But what about us?

    Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

    Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.

    Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.

    [Ilsa lowers her head and begins to cry]

    Rick: Now, now…

    [Rick gently places his hand under her chin and raises it so their eyes meet]

    Rick: Here’s looking at you kid.

    • josh says:

      Did you realize that Rick is a communist? Part of the Abraham Lincoln brigade in the Spanish Civil War, I believe.

      • spandrell says:

        Casablanca is never the same after reading Moldbug.

      • asdf says:

        Rick doesn’t do a whole lot of political theorizing in the movie. And what is mentioned of the Spandish civil war is meant to flesh out his character not his politics.

        The movie is a character study. And the quotes relate to basic humanity.

      • James says:

        Casablanca is never the same after reading Umberto Eco’s comments on the film.


        Forced to improvise a plot, the authors mixed in a little of everything, and everything they chose came from a repertoire of the tried and true. When the choice of the tried and true is limited, the result is a trite or mass-produced film, or simply kitsch. But when the tried and true repertoire is used wholesale, the result is an architecture like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. There is a sense of dizziness, a stroke of brilliance.

        And don’t forget the cast of formidable hams.

        As far as I know, Hollywood doesn’t make anti-Communist films; apart from the recent Katyn, another worthwhile if grim foreign-language entry is Chekist (1992). The Joke (1969) by Jaromil Jireš is also supposed to be good, although I haven’t watched it yet (I can vouch for Jireš’s cult classic Valerie a týden divů, although that one mightn’t go down well with the wife).

      • josh says:

        I love Casablanca, btw.

  7. Fake Herzog says:

    I just saw the French film Farewell and thought it was quite good (it is anti-communist and based on a true story of a Russian spy who gave the west secrets at the end of the Cold War).

    I still need to see The Lives of Others, which many say is the best anti-communist film ever made.

  8. What about the Roman-Carthage wars? All the wars of the Mongols? Democracy is not required for total war.

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