Successful People’s Schedules

Hanging around the NRx crowd has put me in contact with far more (and more serious) traditionalists than I would probably ever have encountered otherwise.  Further, I read intellectual traditionalists, who are much more interesting than the “Well, 60 years ago we prayed in school and didn’t have so many shootings so maybe we just need more Jesus in our schools and everything would be better” crowd.

One of the ironies associated with this is, despite containing some of the least “multicultural” and most Euro/Anglo-centric writers out there, NRx has also pushed me to seriously consider the merits of traditional cultures.

The one thing in particular I keep coming back to is the appreciation for humans as animals who have to survive in a physical environment, just like any other animal.  We wake up with the sun, because we need light to see.  We go to bed with the sunset, because we can’t see any more.  The rest of our day fits into this cycle.  Our metabolisms, mood, psychology, etc, are also set to this cycle.

Starting at the beginning in this manner, the root of many modern diseases and maladies is obvious.  Our highly synthetic environment isn’t making us sick solely because it is synthetic; it makes us sick because we have synthesized things alien to our nature.  The traditionalist would rightly suggest a return to more natural practices; there is a comfort to be had in knowing we’ve “been there” once and could conceivably work towards that lifestyle again.  In contrast, the overwhelming modern way of viewing our self-inflicted problems is to treat them as a mysterious status-quo which we Progressed into and must Progress out of, with more scientific discoveries, drugs, psychology, and so forth.  Bring on the Prozac, pile on the Abilify, turn the fluorescent lights up, open up the Outlook inbox at 6 AM, and keep on Progressin’.

Which brings me to this article:  “Here’s the Schedule Very Successful People Follow Every Day

Sum up

Here’s what a successful schedule looks like:

1. Your morning ritual
2. Important work first thing — with no distractions
3. Regroup when you slow down
4. Meetings, calls, and little things in the afternoon
5. A relaxing evening

It’s not a gimmick.  It’s not unrealistic.  It’s not a “4-hour workday.”  It’s simply rescheduling and re-ordering things to take advantage of the fact that, psychologically, 5 AM, 9 AM, noon, etc, are all very different, despite the incidental fact that they all occupy the same amount of space on an hourly calendar.  It is an appreciation of a basic thing in an increasingly complicated world.

“Ambivalent Feminism”

[This will be poorly referenced/linked, even by my standards.  Just need to start getting some links off the to-do list]

Welcome to the Age of Ambivalent Feminism” appeared in TheWeek last week.  It is an oblique attempt to deal with and neutralize #womenagainstfeminism and the general (and inevitable) backlash that extremist feminism has had coming its way for quite some time.

Some choice quotes:

We have found ourselves in a moment when self-identifying feminists feel safe to air their doubts and contradictions, confusion and frustrations about how they fit into the movement.

False.  #womenagainstfeminism is not composed of “self-identifying feminists.”  One of the most common threads in the discussion has been that equal rights apply equally to everyone; one can no more be a “feminist” for equal rights than one can be a “blackist” or a “whiteist.”  This might be the most cogent and coherent rejection of progressive Cultural Marxism in recent memory.  Accordingly, they aren’t looking for “how they fit into the movement.”  They’ve rejected it.  This hasn’t stopped extremist feminism’s need to speak for all women as a monolith from continuing to claim they represent the heretics.

And a heretic’s treatment these “doubters” have received.  Rather than dialogue, most interactions from feminists aimed at their critics are:

  • Accusations of being ungrateful
  • Accusations of being illiterate, uneducated, tricked, confused, or brainwashed
  • Accusations of being complicit with “the enemy” (which, alone, speaks volumes about the intentions of the speakers)
  • General vitriol

This isn’t a movement in the middle of reflection and disagreement; it’s an abandonment by non-believers and a “good-riddance” from those remaining behind.

The beauty of this ambivalent feminism is that it’s in no way a disavowal of the struggle for equality. Unlike the stirrings of backlash we’ve seen lately — and really, what better proof that a movement is growing strong than a backlash? — ambivalent feminism isn’t a sign of resistance so much as reflection of what happens when real women try to live political and social ideals.

False again.  The backlash in question, however, is not against external enemies who have finally been bothered to do something about a rising threat; it is an exodus and rejection of the movement’s own would-be foot soldiers.  A movement that claims to speak for all women cannot be said to be getting stronger when it is its losing market share…of women.  There is no such thing as an ambivalent extremist; either you’re with us, or against us (as evidenced by the heretic’s treatment mentioned above.)  That impossible “political and social ideals” didn’t work out isn’t leading to ambivalence, it is leading to abandonment.

As the structural hindrances to female achievement continue to break down, more and more of the feminist battles we fight will be in our own minds, where things are bound to get messy. I see the fact that women like Gay and Lewis have the confidence to do this in public as a feminist victory and an invitation for all of us to move beyond the “are-we-or-aren’t-we-feminist” question and start thinking hard about what it means for us to be women today. Ambivalence is to be expected. -Elissa Strauss

Haven’t they heard, they won the war?  What do they keep on fighting for? -Billy Joel, Leningrad

This is a thread that comes up often in my criticism of modern “isms.”  As reasonable goals are met, the moderates drop out of the movement.  Those who carry on, under the mantle of legitimacy earned previously, are the extremists fighting on to the bitter end.  Identities become so bound up with a struggle that eventually the struggle is all that is left.  This isn’t healthy for individuals, nor does it help the cause the struggle is supposedly advancing.

Slate Star Codex moves rightward

For various reasons, I’ve been less engaged in the NRx scene than I would like.  When I finally fired up my RSS reader and started working through my backlog, I was surprised to see that Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex, a NRx skeptic/interlocutor, had, by his own admission, found himself moving to be more conservative.  However, he felt conflicted about it.  Five paragraphs stand out to me as worth documenting here, because they perfectly express something I have not yet got around to writing myself:

This isn’t the type of conservativism where I agree with any conservative policies, mind you. Those still seem totally wrong-headed to me. It’s the sort of conservativism where, even though conservatives seem to be wrong about everything, often in horrible or hateful ways, they seem like probably mostly decent people deep down, whereas I have to physically restrain myself from going on Glenn Beck style rants about how much I hate leftists and how much they are ruining everything. Even though I mostly agree with the leftists whenever they say something…

 

In particular I worry about the neoreactionary assumption that leftism always increases with time, and that today’s leftism confined to a few fringe idiots whom nobody really supports today becomes tomorrow’s mainstream left and the day after tomorrow’s “you will be fired if you disagree with them”. Without me ever really evaluating its truth-value it has wormed its way into my brain and started haunting my nightmares.

 

Certain versions of it are certainly plausible. In 1960, only a handful of low status people were arguing that “sodomy laws” should be repealed, and they were all insisting that c’mon, obviously it would never go as far as gay marriage, we’re just saying you shouldn’t be put in jail for it. Meanwhile, fifty years later people are enforcing a rule that if you’re not on board with gay marriage, you shouldn’t be allowed to hold a high-status job…

 

So now every time I read an article about horrible conservatives – like that South Carolina mayor – I can dismiss it as a couple of people doing dumb things and probably the system will take care of it. If it doesn’t take care of it by punishing him personally, it’ll take care of it by making people like him obsolete and judged poorly by posterity.

But every time I read an article about horrible leftists – like the one with the debate club – part of me freaks out and thinks – in twenty years, those are the people who are going to be getting me fired for disagreeing with them.

 

And every time I want to talk about it, I freak out and worry that soon they’ll start firing people for disagreeing with the idea that you should be able to fire people for disagreeing with ideas. Like, this could go uncomfortably far.

This was such a great find for me, because it describes my own stance perfectly.  I don’t worry about the random backwoods racists of the world, because they are isolated individuals who won’t amount to anything.  On the other hand, the extremist liberals of the world actually run things.  The racism of Bubba and Jim Bob makes for awkward and offensive bar conversation; the racism of judges, college admissions officers, congressmen, etc, have real, systemic impacts which carry the force of law and the support of the governmental apparatus.  Clearly, one is much more dangerous than the other.  Clearly, one has a much greater potential to escalate.

 

AIDS: A “Gay” Disease, or Not?

One of the biggest recurring themes at iParallax is that the Progressive ideology is self-contradicting and shamelessly opportunistic; it seeks less to advance certain principles and more to advance certain people.  Unconstrained by any particular notion of truth, Progressives frequently portray the subjects of their cause in conflicting manners, depending on the particular issue at stake.

One such issue which doesn’t get much intelligent discussion is that of sexually transmitted diseases: specifically, AIDS.

The talking points are well-known: one camp believes AIDS is a scourge sent by God to punish homosexuals, or at the very least indicates that homosexuality objectively leads more easily to the spread of disease.  The other camp believes their opponent’s beliefs are backwards, bigoted, regressive ideas from another age.  (I would describe their beliefs in an affirmative, rather than a negative sense, if possible, but as we’re about to find out, this can’t be done.)

The first article that recently caught my eye on the subject was this:

State Agencies Launch LGBT Data-Collection Effort

New York State is launching a campaign to collect coordinated data on residents’ sexual orientation as part of a comprehensive effort to improve health and human services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers, the state’s health department announced Wednesday…

O’Connell said the health department’s efforts to collect data on LGBT residents has become more plausible in recent years.

“In the past, this wouldn’t have been likely to happen” O’Connell said, because there was so much stigma associated with being LGBT. “But that conversation really has changed over time,” he said.

A 2011 Institute of Medicine report showed that limited data collection on health issues specific to the LGBT community had made it more difficult to identify disparities in the kinds of care available to them.

If that data was available, the state could develop better ways of addressing health problems like H.I.V./AIDS and certain types of cancers prevalent among gay men.

For example, O’Connell said, “70 percent of all new [H.I.V.] infections are among men who have sex with men. We need to be able to track this population.”

So LGBT stands to benefit from increased, specialized health care targeting diseases such as AIDS which are significantly more prominent in the LGBT population.  In an article announcing this initiative, the media openly acknowledges the concentration of the disease among gay men.

Yet when the focus is fighting bigotry, media mouthpieces make sure the general public is aware that AIDS is not a “gay disease.”  Cue this piece from NPR, which describes a fairly transparent example of social engineering meant to normalize HIV infection by giving it to “an older, middle-class, heterosexual, “innocent” woman”:

What the “Golden Girls” Taught Us About AIDS

“Dammit, why is this happening to me? I mean, this shouldn’t happen to people like me.”

This desperate question from a beloved character (Rose) on a beloved show (The Golden Girls) is the defining moment in yet another landmark episode in the critically-acclaimed series. The show known as much for its hilarious comedy as for fearlessly venturing into taboo TV territory was tackling its next sensitive topic: AIDS.

In “72 Hours,” Rose receives a letter alerting her that she may have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during gallbladder surgery six years earlier, and she is advised to get a test. As she waits for the results, worry and a deep-rooted panic take hold, and a pivotal scene takes place between the delightfully dimwitted Rose and saucy Southern belle Blanche.

Rose’s dialogue embodies several misconceptions about HIV infection, pervasive at the time: that “people like her” — an older, middle-class, heterosexual, “innocent” woman — shouldn’t get such a disease, that none of her friends will want to associate with her now, and that she is being punished for some kind of bad behavior.

To which Blanche thoughtfully replies, “AIDS is not a bad person’s disease, Rose. It is not God punishing people for their sins.”…

The noteworthy thing here is that Progressive media rarely focus on moral debates or comprehensive statistics.  They seek to normalize desired behavior and ostracize undesirable behavior; a fancy words for employing the “everyone else/no one else is doing it!” argument en masse.  They understand that the truth is far less important than what people can be led to believe:

  • It was used to exaggerate the dangers of certain illegal drugs in the War on Drugs campaign and inspired the largely useless DARE program
  • It was used to villainize androgens (specifically testosterone) while making female hormone replacement therapy commonplace
  • It was used to convince children in public school sex-ed that HIV infections were commonplace in the general population
  • It was used to create the perception of a sexual assault epidemic victimizing 1/4th of women in their lifetime
  • It is currently being used to create the belief that 1/3rd of women will have an abortion in their life

Continuing on to the second article that caught my eye brings us again to NPR:

Why HIV Spreads Less Easily in Heterosexual Couples

HIV is sexist.

A woman is twice as likely to catch the virus from an infected partner in a heterosexual relationship than a man is.

And homosexual men are at even greater risk. They’re more than 20 times as likely to get infected from an HIV-positive partner than partners in a heterosexual relationship.

Now scientists at Microsoft Research and the Zambia-Emory HIV Project have a clue about why these disparities exist…

As HIV replicates inside a person, mutations are introduced into its DNA. This results in a large number of different HIV versions swarming about the body — each with its own genetic code.

But when HIV is transmitted through sex, usually only a single version of the virus establishes a long-term infection. So the process is almost like a filter, letting only certain viruses through.

This made scientists wonder: Is there something special about the HIV versions making it through the filter?

To figure this out, a team at Microsoft Research and Emory University analyzed data from a decades-long study on HIV transmission between “discordant” heterosexual couples in Zambia. These are couples in which one person is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative…

And the higher the initial barrier to this initial infection, the fitter the virus has to be to complete this process.

Different parts of the body provide various levels of protection from the virus. The cells on the penis are tougher to infect than those in the vagina or anus. Trauma, such as open sores or ulcers in the genital area, can also increase the chance of infection.

“What was most striking was that risk factors that were known to affect the risk of transmission affected the selection,” says Eric Hunter, a virologist at Emory University, who also contributed to the study.

They found that viruses in newly infected men were more “fit” than the viruses in newly infected women. But when men had genital ulcers or inflammation, they were also infected with less fit versions of the virus.

And though their research was restricted to heterosexual couples, they anticipate that anal sex between homosexual men would provide a lower barrier to infection, and result in the transmission of less fit versions of the virus…

A straightforward readings of these findings would consist of little more than the two lines I helpfully bolded:

  1. Certain body parts are more susceptible to infection than others.
  2. “Stronger” strains of virus are, by definition, better at infecting difficult targets
  3. Therefore, infections occurring in difficult-to-infect tissues will likely be caused by stronger strains and,
  4. More infections will result in more easily-infected tissue.

There is no mystery here.  There is no injustice.  In fact, this is exactly the argument made by the Progressive’s much-maligned conservative opponents!*  Yet this article goes to great lengths to portray women as the great cosmic victims of a virus that has it in for them.  A professional virologist is “struck” by the correlation between the difficulty of infection and the strain of virus doing the infecting!

The tricky, damning, frustrating part of this is that, like most Progressive errors, this is rarely done maliciously.  It is, for the most part, done by naive and optimistic people doing their best to help people in need of help.  However, their willingness to abandon truth, data, and objective decision making consistently leads to poor, ineffective, if not outright-counterproductive policy in nearly every issue they touch.  I continue to hope that highlighting exaggerations, distortions, contradictions, and outright lies will eventually lead to more critical thinking and honest, fact-based assessments of the issues we face.

*I’ll grant that these maligned conservatives deserve a fair amount of ridicule for their abysmal presentation of their ideas and the unscientific faith in which they couch their arguments.

“Incest May No Longer Be Taboo” – The Package Deal is Delivered

In November I wrote about the legalization of same-sex marriage.  This is a difficult subject to write about, because as soon as it is brought up, readers attempt to classify the writer.  The writer is either an enlightened member of the reader’s “team,” and hence to be respected, or a bigoted member of the “enemy team,” to be villified.  Attempting to discuss the future and make predictions without being perceived is nigh impossible.

But, that’s what I attempted to do.  In summary, my concern was, and still is, that the arguments used to advance same-sex marriage were flawed.  Not only are they incompatible with other progressive beliefs, but they justified more than just same-sex marriage.  In my post, I laid out that this is not, in my opinion, a slippery-slope argument.  Proponents of same-sex marriage cite, and rightfully so, that slippery-slope arguments are logical fallacies.  However, my argument is that the same-sex marriage campaign’s victory was a package deal.  “A” doesn’t lead to “B” which leads to “C” and so forth; A, B, and C are all purchased together.

So it is in this vein that we check in on events in Australia:

Australian Judge Says Incest May No Longer Be a Taboo

A judge in Australia has been criticised [sic] after saying incest may no longer be a taboo and that the community may now accept consensual sex between adult siblings.

Judge Garry Neilson, from the district court in the state of New South Wales, likened incest to homosexuality, which was once regarded as criminal and “unnatural” but is now widely accepted.

He said incest was now only a crime because it may lead to abnormalities in offspring but this rationale was increasingly irrelevant because of the availability of contraception and abortion.

The first sentence says it all: the argument for legalizing same-sex marriage was that consensual sex between any consenting adults should be legal.  This included incest.  This wasn’t a slippery slope, it was a package deal.  In fact, it is the judge who makes something like a slippery-slope argument, except in retrospect.  Instead of justifying his position by projecting a future trend, he is doing so by observing a past trend.

I also want to highlight the third sentence.  One can easily picture the likes of Stephen Colbert doing a mocking deadpan imitation of a stereotypical conservative, saying, “Yes, the availability of contraception and abortion is going to lead to the legalization of incest.”  And one can easily picture his audience laughing at the chicken-little conservative.  However, this is exactly what is being advanced as a serious legal argument!  Recently I have been left nearly speechless as progressives mockingly deflect the accusations of conservatives, and then proceed to do exactly what they were accused of preparing to do.  It is one thing to laugh at satirical exaggerations of accusations; it is another thing altogether to laugh at actual, factual descriptions of events.  The former shows a taste for comedy, the latter a disconnect with reality.

To continue on:

Judge Neilson made the comments during the trial of a brother charged with raping his younger sister. The man has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister when she was 10 or 11 years old in 1973 or 1974 but has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to sex they had in 1981, when she was 18 and he was 26.

“By that stage they are both mature adults,” the judge said.

“The complainant has been sexually awoken, shall we say, by having two relationships with men and she had become ‘free’ when the second relationship broke down. The only thing that might change that is the fact that they were a brother and sister but we’ve come a long way from the 1950s – when the position of the English Common Law was that sex outside marriage was not lawful.”

The comments were labelled misogynistic and “completely disgraceful” by Sally Dowling, the crown prosecutor, who has asked an appeal court to appoint another judge.

“The reference to abortion is particularly repellent,” she said.

Dr Cathy Kezelman, an advocate for preventing child sex abuse, said incest was horrific, regardless of the ages of those involved.

“The relational betrayal of the horrors of incest between a brother and sister of any age is abhorrently criminal,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

The important word here is “misogynistic.”  This is a word that has long since ceased to have any actual meaning, and is rather used as a verbal club to beat down any man who dare say something – anything – offensive.  It is typically deployed when a man suggests that there is a limit to acceptable behavior, especially on the part of a woman.  However, here it is the libertine judge who believes that a woman of legal age has the right to engage in incestuous behavior if she so chooses, and yet despite his support for unfettered female choice, he is still labelled a “misogynist.”

This is just further proof that this word, like most verbal weapons favored by progressives, has no actual principled meaning.  Instead, it simply means the refusal to give any particular woman what she wants at any particular time.  A man rejecting charges against a man based on the supposed legality of incest is called a misogynist for failing to protect the sister.  A man pushing charges against the sister’s will would be called a misogynist for ignoring her right to choice.  The hypocrisy never ends.  It’s the feminine imperative all the way down.

Urban Entropy Meme

It’s almost as if someone read my thoughts on how growing up in a highly-ordered, highly-controlled urban environment prevents people from learning to appreciate the effort required to support and maintain such an environment, and then turned it into an image:

IMG_0764

 

This is one of the great ironies of modern progressivism: the groups which most boldly asserts its own enlightenment tend to be the most ignorant of basic realities.

Right Rises in Europe: “Democracy in Danger”

I’ve commented before on the rise of the Right in Europe, and how this will both surprise Americans when they realize “liberal” Europe appears to be leading the way into a brand-new era of ethno-nationalism.

The saga continues in France: “That ‘earthquake’ in Europe? It’s far-right gains in Parliament elections.”

Meanwhile, National Front leader Marine Le Pen said the results showed that French voters wanted more control.

“The sovereign people have proclaimed that they want to take back the reigns of their destiny into their hands. Our people demand one type of politics: politics of the French, for the French, with the French. They no longer want to be directed from outside,” she said.

No stronger statement of support for democratic government legitimized by popular sovereignty could possibly be made.  It wasn’t too long ago that President Lincoln expressed a similar sentiment in the Gettysburg address, when he said, “…this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”*

How is the rise of right-wing parties being treated in the media?  What are its opponents concerned about?  Are they expressing concern that the technocratic European Union will be losing ground in light of a resurgence of democratic spirit?

Nope: “French students rally to ‘save democracy’ from far-right:”

Paris (AFP) – Thousands of students rallied across France Thursday to protest against the anti-immigration National Front party, whose historic success in EU polls they said threatened democracy…

“We respect the result of the European elections, of democracy, but we do not accept the values of the National Front (FN),” said Silvio Philippe, one of the organisers of the Lyon rally. “French democracy is in danger.

As is often the case when dealing with man-on-the-street Progressives, it is often impossible to determine how this individual defines his terms.  That a change in public opinion regarding political issues would result in elections installing several new representatives is the very essence of the democratic process at work.

So we are left to look for alternative meanings to his statement.  I see two:

1) Opponents of the FN are concerned about a wolf-in-sheep’s clothing; that the popularly elected government will somehow escalate itself into a totalitarian regime.  Given Europe’s history of fascism, this is credible.  However, applying the slippery-slope argument to any gains by an opposing political view and automatically ascribing to it the worst of all possible intentions and outcomes, and therefore attempting to exclude it from the democratic process, is itself a form of tyranny.

2) More likely, the standard Progressive double-speak is in play.  What was said was, “French democracy is in danger.”  What was meant was, “Progress is in danger.”  Progressives tend to use democracy as a synonym for Progress so long as a given democracy continues to implement Progressive policies.  The moment the people vote in favor of ethno-nationalism, Progressives suddenly interpret “democracy” as “mob rule.”  As DE writers constantly point out, Progress is the process of standardizing all social, cultural, and political beliefs to the “correct” standard.  If there is a single correct standard, then any group’s attempt to assert a unique ethnic or national identity (which may or may not comply with the “correct” standard) inherently threatens the imposition of the universal standard, and must be suppressed.

As the Right continues to rise and murmurs about the health of American democracy and the viability of democracy in general grow into full-fledged public discussions in their own right, it is important to keep the issues mentioned above in mind.  Modern democratic governments have been almost exclusively Progressive, and therefore many participants in the discussions that lie ahead will insist that all rectangles are squares; any non-Progressive, ethno-nationalist government will be accused of being undemocratic, regardless of how well said government respects principals of popular sovereignty and representative government.