Category Archives: Media

Creeping Horror

Here’s a fun little test to either help internalize the creeping horror or introduce someone new to the mind virus.

The first step is to find a moderately obscure topic you would know far more about than your average English grad would. It can be anything: something related to your career, a hobby you’re deep into, your religion, an academic area you’ve studied extensively, or even pastel ponies. Choose something of which you have a deep knowledge.

You must avoid anything your average SWPL “knowledge-worker” would know; so avoid things related to coffee, indie music, HBO, pretentious literature, etc. (Alright, pastel ponies might not work). Also make sure to avoid anything overly subjective or too mainstream.

Having chosen your topic, look for articles in the mainstream news on the topic. Try the big ones: CNN, the NYT, the Washington Post, or, in Canada, the CBC. Having found a few articles from a few different sources read them.

Notice every time they are inaccurate, make a factual mistake, leave out something important, make a logical fallacy, write something that doesn’t make sense, or otherwise distort reality.

Having done this, think on the fact that every other topic covered by the media has errors to the same extent, except you don’t notice because you don’t know more about that topic than your average J-school graduate.

Then consider how you, and most everybody else, becomes informed about things they don’t know of.

This is where the horror sets in.

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To let the horror creep in more, look to your career. Remember that obscure regulation nobody outside your particular occupation or industry would know of, the one that: made society worse, was borderline insane, the government had no business being in, allowed a person/company to rob the taxpayer, made your job more miserable than it should be, and/or was just pointless busywork to employ bureaucrats?

You probably never talked of it to anyone other than possibly the occasional rant to a friend or two or some co-workers.

Now think on the fact that there are thousands of other occupations and industries you are not employed in and where you would not be able to know that obscure regulation.

Give it a few minutes for the horror to dawn.

The Brown Scare: Duck Edition

I’m a little late on the bandwagon, so by now you’ve probably heard that Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E from the reality show, Duck Dynasty for some comments made during an interview with GQ. I made a small series of tweets when I first came across the event.

This event is significant because it is the first time the brown scare has impacted a particular person this well known to the mainstream. Sure, Watson, Dickenson, Summers, Richwine, Derbyshire, et al. were victims of the witchhunt, but none of those names are ones the average Joe on the street would rcognize. Sure, Chic-Fil-A was persecuted, but its a faceless corporation; who’s ever heard of Dan Cathy?

But Duck Dynasty is huge and Phil Robertson is a recognizable individual. It’s the most-watched nonfiction show of all time and A&E’s highest rated show fo all time. He is somebody your average middle-American knows and likes.

The culture war has been raging for a while, but mostly in words and on the political level. Phil shows the red states, the vaisyas, how far the the progressives are willing to go to enforce ideological conformity. It shows how much the elites truly do detest middle America. It makes the culture war personal by showing that they’re ready and willing to not just denounce you, but to steal your livelihood simply for speaking what you think.

Now that the working-to-middle class whites now have a sampling of the elites hatred towards them, hopefully they will see the class war being waged against them.

For hate is the only explanation* for this: Duck Dynasty is insanely profitable and popular for a second-rate cable network previously best known for Law and Order reruns. There is absolutely no business reason to mess with a formula that works. Any fool can see that the 77% of America that are Christian vastly outnumber the <4% of America that is gay.

The cultural elites hate the conservative low-to-middle class whites that are the primary consumers of the show and they hate the Christian morality and traditional family structures the show portrays.

They wish to destroy these whites, their lifestyle, and their morality.

Oh, how the elites at A&E must rue how their attempt to mock the rednecks has backfired. I would have loved to see their faces when they realized their laugh-at-the-rednecks show become popular for all the ‘wrong’ reasons. It’s Archie Bunker all over again.

In a cultural wasteland of “reality” programming showcasing degenerates, freaks, perverts, broken homes, blackened souls, and empty, twisted hearts, Duck Dynasty focuses on a normal, functional, loving family holding to a solid moral framework and enjoying their lives. It presents a cultural alternative to the broken, empty world the cultural elites are trying to force onto the masses.

Whatever our opinions of TV, the simple fact is most Americans are consumers of TV. Duck Dynasty is one of the few shows to show working-class whites, Christianity, and traditional morality in a positive light and it is one of the few that gives the masses something moral and uplifting.

For this Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson deserves support.

*There is a very small chance this was a publicity stunt by A&E. I don’t think its likely, but you never know.

Marketing Marriage

f you follow Dalrock you’ve seen is recent posts on this little advertisement on Mark Driscoll’s new man-up and marry series:

Dalrock has already pointed out the moral problems with the ad, I’m going to focus the advertisement aspects. Dalrock argues that the ad is aimed at churchian feminist woman, and I agree because otherwise, the proponents of marriage suck at advertising.

Instead of making marriage look like something men would want to pursue and would be willing to sacrifice for, they make it look horrible.

In the little skit in the middle, the man is the thoroughly henpecked, seemingly unhappy husband of a fat, dumpy, controlling wife. He’s so thoroughly beaten down that he’s afraid to have a little masculine bonding time with his son, with the video implying that there’s something wrong with him wanting to do so.

Watching this, my main thought was”is this really how they want to advertise marriage to men?”

I’m lean more towards the more pro-marriage part of the manosphere, but this would drive me away from marriage more than any other possible effect it could have. What kind of man would desire to become that husband?

What young man could possibly watch that and say, “yeah, I want to man-up and marry so I too can be a the ball-less husband of an ugly, dominating shrew who’s afraid to play pool with his son.”

C’mon guys. If you want men to man-up and marry how about making marriage look good? How about making marriage seem like a rewarding experience?

In fact, I’ll give you guys an awesome marketing campaign. A marketing idea this good would generally cost thousands of dollars from a slick New York agency, but I’ll give it to you for free because I love western civilization and we need working marriages to keep the remnant chugging.

Here’s my ad campaign for a man-up series:

It starts with an average-looking man in a suit, someone most guys could identify with, coming home from a day at the office. He looks kind of worn-out and stressed. He parks his car, sighs a bit, then walks up to his house. He opens the door.

The first thing seen when the door opens is his non-offensively pretty wife dressed femininely. She looks up from working in the kitchen and sees he’s stressed, so she comes up to him with a smile on her face and gives him a hug and quick kiss on the lips. She takes his bag and says, “Dinner is almost ready, why don’t you sit down?” He gets into his recliner and leans back, his stress visibly fading away. She joyfully brings him a small plate of freshly made cookies and some milk. He thanks her with an expression of mingled gratitude and relief and takes the cookie. While he snacks she says, “How about later…” and bends over and whispers something in his ear while brushing her hand up his leg. The man responds with a large, expectant smile.

Cut to her calling out that dinner is ready. The man goes to the table to find a delicious home-cooked meal of steak and potatoes, his cute, happy children run up to the table. His wife wipes the dirt smudges off of one of the rascals as they sit down. The man looks on proudly as he sits at the head of the table. His wife sits to his right. She looks at him with an expectant smile, her hand on his arm, and he proudly says grace for the family.

During the prayer fade to black and end with the tagline: Worth being a man for.

Boom. I’d want buy that product. I don’t know a man who wouldn’t.

I’d happily man-up to come home to that; I’d happily work 70 hour weeks to come home to that; I would happily sacrifice quite a bit to come home to that. So, would most men. Most men would willingly sacrifice their left nut for that.

So, some marketing advice to Mr. Driscoll. If you want men to man-up and marry, make marriage seem like something rewarding for men.

McDonald’s doesn’t sell cheeseburgers by having a fat, ugly man eat them in his dingy basement while playing WoW and sobbing to himself. They sell cheeseburgers by showing groups of realistically attractive people having fun together while eating cheeseburgers.

Likewise, you don’t make men desire to man-up and marry by showing marriage as a demasculating process of having your pride, virility, and freedom slowly drained from you by an ugly, domineering shrew. You make men want to get married by showing marriage as a refuge from the cares of the world occupied by a pretty, loving, nurturing woman.

Then again, my campaign might be false advertising for most men. Driscoll might get sued.

Cable: The Cold, Dead Fire

This week I was reminded why I don’t have cable. I went on a two-evening business trip and was planning to do some reading in the evenings; I wanted to finish Economics in One Lesson and possibly Boston’s Gun Bible. I ended only getting most of the way through the former.

Why?

Both evenings, when I got back to the hotel room, I turned on the TV for what I planned to be a little relaxation before starting reading. The planned half hour, turned into an entire night. (I should have learned the first night, but didn’t).

Some of it I enjoyed, Duck Dynasty was very entertaining and filled with solid moral lessons; I do not regret watching a few episodes and wanting to watch a couple more was the reason I turned the TV on the second night. But in addition to Duck Dynasty, I ended up watching, among other shows, a multi-hour marathon of those storage auction shows, the movie Hook (which had a certain nostalgia value, but little else), and a few episodes of some retarded Nickelodeon comedy for teenagers, none of which I can say I actually enjoyed watching.

I’m fairly sure my books would have been not only more edifying, but also more entertaining, definitely moreso than the Nickoledean comedy. Yet, I watched these shows anyway.

I had this same problem back when I did have cable. It was so easy to sit down, then continue wasting away time even when I wasn’t enjoying myself or what I was watching. I would spend 15 minutes flipping through the channels, thinking to myself there’s nothing on. Then, thinking if I wait only 15 more minutes, new shows I like will be on. I could occasionally spend hours in this cycle of non-enjoyment

TV is manufactured to pulls at your senses and suck you in. After it sucks you in, it drains your energy and will to do anything else. The passivity of TV makes it unlike any other medium. Print require active reading, video games require active involvement, but TV requires nothing other than to lie down a shut up. It is so very easy to waste large amounts of time not enjoying yourself watching TV.

Cable makes it worse. With so much variety, it is always easy to find a show that is, if not entertaining, is barely watchable. It’s such a low threshold to reach, but the primal pull of the colours, the movement, the sound, the manufactured ‘relationships’, the ‘overheard’ conversation makes it difficult to resist the lure of the barely watchable. You are being manipulated on levels you are barely aware of; I was.

Cable TV is a soul-sucking distraction.

We could even say, it leaves you desouled, butthexed, and bernankified. lolzlollzozlolz

****

This excerpt from Chapter 12 of the Screwtape Letters proves apt:

As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”.

Is there any better expression of the compulsion to watch TV than that: “I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.”

Can you think of anything worse to think to yourself at the end of your life? I can’t.

****

Now, this is not a blanket condemnation of TV; man should have some leisure and relaxation and some shows are genuinely worth watching even absent the entertainment value (I put Yes, Minister on the DE Reading List for a reason). But you should only watch, in moderation, what you actually enjoy or what may inform you or make you a better person.

Spending hours watching commercial-filled crap which meets the minimal requirement of not completely unwatchable simply because it pulls at at your laziness and other primal compulsions you don’t quite understand is a waste.

My advice, if you have cable or satellite TV get rid of it. If there’s a specific show you want to watch, stream it on Netflix or get the DVD’s, but having cable makes it far to easy to get sucked into a time-wasting vortex where you are neither entertained nor doing anything productive.

I’m almost glad I had that experience at the hotel, it reminded me of the cold dead fire. It reminded me of the dangers of cable and why I decided against it in the first place. It’s a lifeless, joyless way to waste your life.

Get rid of cable, buy a book, some ammo, or even some Simpsons DVD’s instead. You’ll get a lot more out of it.

The Effects of the Red Pill

I don’t listen to the radio anymore, the only TV I have is Netflix, and I don’t read newspapers anymore except when linked to from some blog, so I’m fairly disconnected from the standard news. This weekend I was on a cart trip with some friends and we were listening to the CBC (the state-run broadcaster) and I realized exactly how deep the red pill has sunk into my thinking. Three particular items stood out.

The first was some news story about the protests in Turkey. The CBC was very much in favour of the protestors. The story was all about how oppressed the environmentalists, gays, and democrats protesting the regime were and how controlling the regime was for oppressing the greens and gays. They never got the side of the government or the majority of Turks who supported the government. Rather than supporting the protestors, I remarked how one-sided and biased the story was to my friends and found myself supporting the regime, simply based on how biased the CBC was on the issue. A few years ago I would hardly have noticed.

A little later a “debate” occurred concerning women’s declining fertility with age and when women should get married. One guest was against women marrying young so they could experience the world and be happy, the other was for women marrying young so they could find somebody and be happy. My friend remarked, ‘see, they cover both sides’. Then, red pill knowledge firmly in place, I told him how it didn’t both were the same liberal side concerned with happiness being the sole goal of marriage. Not a person addressed duty to family, God, or the nation, no one even mentioned are below-replacement reproductive rates, no one mentioned the health of the family or the country, no one mentioned the religious or societal foundations of marriage. Both women had the exact same argument: women should marry to be happy and no one should judge them for that, the only difference was at what age marriage would be the happiest. My friend then told me, they were never going to have that kind of debate on the radio; I told him that was exactly my point about the one-sidedness of it all.

Finally, a story about Nelson Mandela’s failing health came on. I was amazed by the almost painful cognitive dissonance of it. The whole story was about two things: 1) Nelson Mandela has been a foundational symbol of post-apartheid South Africa and his loss will greatly hurt the country, and 2) South Africa is in horrible shape, corruption is out of control, and it has been continually getting worse with people agitating to undo land reforms, etc., which is why the nation needs the symbolism of Mandela to hold itself together. The fact that this continual decline was a result of the regime Mandela helped put into place was enver even remarked on, even thought the entire story screamed this fact between the lines.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have noticed any of this. The red pill is a strong drug.

The Price of Freedom

Now that a respectful amount of time has passed, here is my obligatory post on the Sandy Hook massacres. May God take His children to rest in His grace.

As is usual for these types of events, most seem to want a convenient scapegoat for the massacre.

Guns are easy to blame, but tools have no volition of their own.

Some blame mental illness, but only the perpetrator’s psychologist can possibly speak to that. Mental illness might explain some of it (or it might not, I’m no psychologist) but most mentally ill people do not shoot up a school.

Some blame cultural entertainment products: violent video games, movies, etc. Although, I’ve seen less of it this time around than when Columbine occurred, it’s still as silly as it was then.

Some blame the media for giving fame to losers. While achieving infamy may be a contributing reason to public violence, this again strips the perpetrator of their own volition and begs the question: why did the perpetrator choose to pursue infamy over the lives of others and continued living?

Some blame the sidelining of males, while others blame the loss of male privilege. I’ve warned about this trend in the past, but it only shows a trend; most males do not engage in such nihilistic violence.

Essentially, it seems everybody uses these kind of events to simply confirm the validity of their pre-existing bugaboos. I am guilty of this as well.

In the end, I think the most likely societal explanation is simple probability. In any society of 300+ million people, there will be some people at the nihilistic violence end of the bell-curve. This is not a societal trend, it is simply probabilistic reality.

****

Instead of looking for some great cause to blame, let’s put the blame where it belongs: the perpetrator.

Adam Lanza was a free individual, with his own will. and his own moral decisions to make.

He made them.

People have their own values, their own goals, their own choices to make.

They have agency, they are not simply the products of culture. People, even the mentally ill, are not empty cyphers of whatever societal trend we fear. They are human they make choices.

We should not dehumanize them.

We should not dehumanize Adam Lanza.

He made his choice.

Adam Lanza chose to shoot his mother, little Emilie Parker, baseball fan Jack Pinto, young Dylan Hockley, and 25 other individuals, may they rest in God’s peace.

Adam Lanza saw the mother who raised him and killed her. He saw the innocence of young ones and decided to snuff it out.

He chose to end dozens of young lives and destroy hundreds more.

Societal forces didn’t kill these people, Adam Lanza did.

****

If we look at all the great causes, no matter which it is, the “answer” is always the same: less freedom.

Guns are deadly: ban them and take them from law-abiding citizens.

The mentally ill are dangerous: lock them up against their will and drug them.

The entertainment and cultural industry is perverse and degenerate: institute content controls.

The media are vicious, amoral, parasitical vultures: regulate the press.

Males are losing their place in society: re-institute enforced patriarchy.

Males are angry at their loss of privilege: indoctrinate them further.

And on and on.

One person in 300+ million* commits a heinous act and everybody cries for the upending of society, for the expanded regulation of behaviour of other people. (Funny how it’s always other people that have to be regulated).

Because of these extreme, outside the normal events, everybody must be controlled. Somebody must do something to prevent these future black swans.

Something must be done, the government has to act. We have no idea what specific actions, but do something, anything. We have no proof any of these suggested actions will be helpful, but do them anyway. We have no rational basis for believing any of these actions will actually prevent the next nihilistic individual from committing extreme violence, but action must be taken.

Please do something, anything so that the placebo can give me back my piece of mind.

I can’t rest unless I know someone better than me is actively looking like they are doing something that vaguely resembles protecting me from extremely low-probability danger.

Fie on that.

Nothing should be done.

Shut the hell up and stop using dead children as political pawns for your anti-freedom crusades.

Shut the hell up and stop letting your mindless fear and inability to control your own peace of mind dictate society.

****

School massacres and other mass acts of nihilistic violence have been occurring since before there was a public school system and have occurred in many different countries and cultures. They have occurred with firearms and without. They have occurred whatever regulations may or may not have been in place. This is not a problem solely of our time and culture. It is not a problem of our regulations or lack thereof. It is not a problem of whatever other bullshit pre-existing ideological war you want to fight on the graves of dead kids.

It is a problem of individuals.

Some individuals choose to do evil things.

Adam Lanza did.

Adam Lanza was free to choose, and choose he did.

****

Here is the thing we must understand:

Sandy Hook was the price of freedom.

The freedom to make choices is the freedom to make bad choices, to make evil choices.

The only way to eliminate bad choices, is to eliminate freedom.

It is horrifying, but it is reality.

The only way to stop another Sandy Hook is to completely give up our freedom, to submit ourselves wholly and completely to another’s control.

The only way to stop bad choices, is to completely remove the ability to make choices.

However horrible 28 deaths is, on a societal level the loss of freedom is even worse.

Freedom is naturally a frightening thing, the comfort of giving up our right to choose, to let others choose for us, can be tempting. Do not give into the fear.

Individuals should be free to make choices, even if those choices may be frightening and may lead to suffering.

Individuals should only be punished or controlled for bad choices once they have actually made them.

Anything else is tyranny.

Sandy Hook is the price of freedom, but it is a price that must be paid; the alternative, a world without freedom and choice, is worse.

****

* If we include others who’ve engaged in nihilistic acts of public mass violence, it’s probably “only” on the order of one in tens of millions. I’m not going to calculate exactly, but still one person out of a few dozen million is still a very low probablility occurance.

Unplugging

I was reading the Hawaiian Libertarian archives, and came across this post on the media. It got me thinking about my own media consumption habits, which reminded me of this passage from CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, where Screwtape, a greater demon, advises a lesser demon on tempting a man:

As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”.

The Screwtape Letters (which I’d heavily recommend reading) was written before TV became the dominant form of media consumption, but is an excellent description of what TV does.

I’ve was always more of a gamer, but years ago I would watch TV regularly. Often I found myself watching TV, but not enjoying it. I would watch shows that I didn’t find entertaining simply because I was too bored or lethargic to do anything better with my time.. I would stay up late watching crap or simply flipping through channels watching nothing in particular, neglecting my sleep, but not really having fun either.

Then, I moved into a friend’s house. He didn’t want to pay for cable and neither did I, so we went without. I found I didn’t miss TV at all. I would occasionally have a hankering to watch the Simpsons, but other than that I found there was no loss to my life or happiness, and I had more time for other things.

Now, I still watch some shows (such as Archer and Futurama), because sometimes I just need to lie down and relax for a few hours, without having to read or think too much.

But I only watch shows I have specifically downloaded or purchased on DVD. So, when I do watch TV, I only end up watching what I know I enjoy, so I never find myself wasting time on boring stuff.

I’ve been considering subscribing to Netflix as there’s a show or two on there I want to watch (Community and Arrested Development, specifically). My concern though, is with that much easy selection I might again be tempted to waste more time watching TV than I would like. So, I haven’t subscribed yet, but am considering it.

As for other media. I never listen to the radio anymore and haven’t since I got an MP3 player; I find the talk radio boring and music radio plays only crappy music (ie. non-metal).

I never really watched TV news; I found it was really hard to see through the bias to the deeper meanings at the speed of television and so many of the stories were complete wastes of time.

I did read newspapers regularly, but I’ve been trying to cut back. I still read newspapers as part of my job requires it, but I try to avoid it on my own time.

Keeping up with the news is mostly a waste of time and can actually be harmful. Nassim Taleb wrote about this in the Black Swan (another book I’d recommend); the best filter for news is what you hear from others and too much news can actually be harmful to your thinking as you become trapped in minutiae and narrative.

Besides, the news almost never changes, you can predict exactly what your average newspaper will have each day, all that changes is the details:

  • Local violent crime
  • Heartwarming human interest story
  • Political scandal
  • Political leaders debate bill to remove freedom
  • Middle East violence

If anything is novel enough to care about, you’ll learn about it from somewhere. If you really want to keep up, choose an aggregator, such as Instapundit, it will summarize the bigger stories without requiring much time.

The last form media is the internet; this is where most of my media attention goes. I try to read most of the sites on my blogroll fairly regularly, and I have no regrets about that.

What I do find is that it is very easy to waste time just clicking around doing nothing, rather than doing something more useful. Facebook, and political debates on there are especially bad for this. I find I can waste a lot of time debating useless politics with my friends. I enjoy it, usually, but it’s not really productive. I’ve been trying to post less in the last few weeks, and this blog is helping in that. When I can use the Lightning Round to make snide remarks and larger posts to talk about other interesting topics, I think I waste less time posting and debating things on FB, but it’s something I’m working on.

One other special difficulty is late night; it is very easy to continue to waste time, even when not really having fun or learning anything useful, rather than going to bed to get the sleep I need, but I’m trying to work on that. I did quite good in going to bed at a decent time for a few weeks when I first started trying primal living, but have started staying up late again in the last couple weeks. It’s something to work on.

In conclusion, some tips for readers: if you have cable, get rid of it; you probably won’t miss it. If you need to watch TV, use DVDs or downloads, possibly Netflix, so you can ensure you only watch TV you enjoy. Don’t read newspapers or try to keep up on the news, it’s an unproductive waste of time. Subscribe to an aggregator and/or follow a couple of blogs you like; you’ll get all the news that’s actually important. Try to go to bed on time; that important thing on the internet keeping you up, isn’t really that important.