Quotulatiousness

November 29, 2017

Self-driving cars

Filed under: Liberty, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Michael Walsh isn’t a fan of self-driving cars, no sirree:

A “self-driving” car is an oxymoron, in the same way that “paying for a tax cut” is. Someone or something is going to be driving that car, and the whole point here is that it ain’t going to be you, brother.

For while you may at first think you are directing the destination of the vehicle, the fact is you’re a passenger in a computer-controlled mobile living-room whose every move is dictated by Big Brother, whether directly or remotely. It’s bad enough now, when the computers in your car can rat you out to highway checkpoints, and your Bluetooth-connected cell phone broadcasts your whereabouts to every law enforcement officer in the county.

But once the “self-driving” car juts its snout into the marketplace, and tries to drive out the you-driving cars, whom do you think is going to be calling the shots? In quick succession, say hello to the road-mileage tax and ever more vehicles on the roads, given that no one will have to qualify for a vision-tested or skills-tested drivers’ licenses anymore.

Be also prepared for restrictions on where and when you can be chauffeured around in robot-propelled comfort; which kinds of gasoline you may purchase, and when; and with whom you may someday be forced to share your vehicle as the cars are pre-programmed at the factory to respond to commands from elsewhere, including checking IDs. We used to want God to be our co-pilot; instead, we’re going to get Google.

So buy that car you’ve been fancying — you know, the one with a functioning steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes; the one that goes where you want it to, more or less — while you still can, because an unholy alliance of national-security TSA types, social justice warriors, and tech nerds are bound and determined to take it away from you. We can’t have folks mucking about inside of Fortress America, free to go when and where they please, without so much as a by-your-leave. From King of the Road to a sack of spuds, suitable for carting, in just a few postwar generations: welcome to the world of the Emasculated American Male.

H/T to Small Dead Animals for the link.

August 5, 2017

“… theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen”

Filed under: Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In The Atlantic, “Gen Xer” Jean Twenge is worried about the ways the new generation differ from their Millennial predecessors:

Click to see full-size image

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data — some reaching back to the 1930s — I had never seen anything like it.

At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.

The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

It could be that the widespread use of available technology to “virtualize” adolescence is at least to a degree a reaction to helicopter parenting.

H/T to Kate at Small Dead Animals for the link.

July 20, 2017

Latest warnings about climate change to mean higher wine prices … maybe

Filed under: Environment, Europe, France, Wine — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

London’s local Metro newspaper recently published a scary article about rising temperatures in wine regions across the world and the likelihood of driving wine prices much higher. Colour me skeptical, frankly. Also of a doubting disposition, Paul Austin Murphy indulges in a good, old-fashioned fisking of the alarmist article:

Now here, in all its glory, is a supremely tangential link (found in a Metro article called ‘Global warming is now messing with wine, so can you PLEASE STOP WRECKING THE WORLD‘):

    Global warming is “going to up the price of wine across the board”.

Readers may want to know the details about this fatal connection between man-created global warming and the high price of wine. Though — it must be said straight away — this can’t always the case at present. It must surely depend on which wines you like and where you buy your wine from.

Anyway, this is the hard science bit; so pay attention and put your white coats on. Here goes:

    “Researchers have suggested that rising temperatures in Europe are likely to increase the cost of labour in vineyards, noting that as heat rises in August, a month when a significant amount of the harvest is brought in, there’s a 15% drop in the amount of time labourers are able to work.

    “There’s also a drop in productivity, slowing down the wine production process.”

That’s odd. On average heat always rises in August in most European countries. Metro doesn’t really make it clear if these natural — as well as annual — increases have themselves increased. It also says that “[r]esearchers have suggested”. Yes, they’ve suggested. That’s a very loose word. Though it’s obviously a very precise and important word if you like your wine and you’re also against man-caused global warming.

It’s also the case that in several European wine-producing countries, cold weather is much more of a problem for the wine industry than hot weather (France, in particular). A “hot” vintage in France is very often associated with extremely high quality wine from that vintage.

Another study has admitted that this catastrophic effect on wine production hasn’t been replicated elsewhere. Metro says:

    “Andreas Flouris of the School of Exercise Science at the University of Thessaly reckons that the results of the small-scale study could easily repeat in California, across Europe, and in Australia — so all our wine could be set to hike up in price.”

Now if this wine catastrophe hasn’t yet happened in “California, across Europe, and in Australia” — then where, exactly, has it happened? The initial study mentioned that “most European countries” have been effected by it. (Which ones?) This other study says that it hasn’t yet occurred “across Europe.” How do we make sense of these two seemingly contradictory phrases?

It’s not just about cost. (Though, for Metro, it’s mainly about the cost!) This is also about taste. Metro tells us that

    “[i]ncreased heat is also affecting the taste of wine, damaging the quality of grapes across Europe and shortening the growing season”.

All this — if true — will also affect prices. Shorter growing seasons will certainly affect the price of wine — or at least certain wines from certain countries. This is strange. One main reason why the United Kingdom doesn’t produce much wine is its shortage of warm weather. (British wine makes up 1% of the domestic market.) Yet if temperatures keep on increasing, then surely more wine will be produced in England. That will also have a positive effect on the price of wine! Why doesn’t Metro mention that?

Now what’s all this going to do to London’s dinner-party circuit? I mean Metropolitans are already suffering from severe “austerity”. Add 50 pence (or less) to a bottle of wine and then what have you got? Massive poverty among London’s professional political Pharisees (who also like wine).

It’s fascinating that the Metro author tries to imply that hot weather in (parts of) Europe will somehow have a knock-on effect in California and Australia, isn’t it? The two latter wine-producers are known for their consistency between vintages, because they are warm-weather regions where the grapes are generally able to mature to full ripeness every year almost without fail. Cool climate regions (like Ontario, for example) have much greater variation from vintage to vintage because the local weather varies significantly and the grapes are not always able to fully ripen before they have to be picked (this is more true of red than white grapes, which tend to ripen sooner and can be picked earlier than the red grapes).

May 26, 2017

QotD: The coming of the sexbots

Filed under: Health, Quotations, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Recently I saw online a documentary on sex robots. The reporteress, a short-haired woman seething with quiet indignation, Viewed With Alarm the very idea. Progress is rapid on these love assistants, she said. They move. Some do, anyway. They talk, but not too much. Before long they will have skin-temperature silicone. Today we have all those deplorable men sitting home, lonely and isolated, choking their chickens and pondering suicide. Soon they will instead be rocking and rolling with Robo-Barbie. This worried her. She said.

If this be true, then why, one wonders, do men want sexbots? Aren’t there already women all over the place at skin temperature? Sez me, it’s because women have lived too long in a monopoly economy and so let down quality. It used to be that men had jobs and money, and women had that, so they married to let each get some of what the other had. The woman had to be agreeable as a selling point. Now women have jobs and don’t need men, or to be pleasant. Some are nice anyway, but it’s no longer a design feature. Of course they often end up old and alone with a cat somewhere on upper Connecticut Avenue, but they don’t figure this out until too late. Anyway, they stopped being agreeable. They learned from feminists that everything wrong in their lives was the fault of men.

It is a real problem: American women are inoculated from birth with angry misandry insisting that men are dolts, loutish, irresponsible, and only want sex. (To which a response might be, “Uh…What else have you got?”)

[…]

OK, back to sexbots. The short-aired reporteress wondered why men could be interested in such confections instead of real women, the tone being one of elevated moralism and horror. Beneath the usual factitious objectivity one could hear, “How could…what is wrong with….?” and so on.

In the documentary, the short-haired reporteress talked to an ugly anti-sexbot crusader woman who said testily that using sexbots “objectified women.” (To me it sounded more like womanizing objects, but never mind.) These two dragons continued to the effect that sex was about intimacy and closeness and bonding. I wondered how they knew. But understand: They weren’t worried about competition. Oh no. They wanted to preserve intimacy and bonding. They were worried about those poor miserable men.

Uh…yeah.

In modern America I see no sign that women are concerned about masculine misery, and indeed that most of them rather like the idea.

Fred Reed, “Sally Cone Hits the Dating Scene”, The Unz Review, 2017-05-11.

March 17, 2016

QotD: Trump’s populism

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

It is too late to challenge Trump when he talks about the wall. It does not matter how stupid the idea, taken literally, may be. American politicians spoke Parseltongue to the working class, the people who contend with and live beside immigrant labour, for too long. They are ready to vote for the only guy who will think about a wall.

Of course a bad collective conscience is the key to any populist movement like Trump’s. He really is like Hitler in this: he sells absolution to those too inarticulate to explain or defend their prejudices. It is universally acknowledged that less-skilled American workers are in a bad state. Millions are on federal or other disability schemes and food stamps, millions are at least half-zombified on prescription drugs and the overlap between these groups is obviously great. Mortality statistics among the middle-aged show the results. What they don’t show is the shame that dropouts from honest labour and bourgeois aspiration must suffer — how unlike their fathers and mothers they feel. If I were a worse writer I’d drop the word “alienation” here.

[…]

And so Trump materializes with a garbled, but not totally unfounded, account of what went wrong: globalization destroyed traditional jobs, illegal immigration took more, Mexican heroin salesmen swooped in. Idealistic America has been hornswoggled by tricky foreigners who know their own interests. Trump won’t stop saying how “smart” they are. This isn’t white supremacism: it’s American inferiorism.

If Trump is a charlatan who saw the conditions for populist agitation and crafted an opportunistic message, all I can say is: well played. What I ask of Americans who deplore him is, what did you do about these conditions when something might have been done? Did you not think your civilization was particularly vulnerable to hucksters and loudmouths?

America is the land of, and I’ll put these in alphabetical order, Frank Abagnale, Jim Bakker, P.T. Barnum, Scott Boras, Dale Carnegie, Bill Clinton, Enron, Chris Kyle, Bernie Madoff, Charles Manson, Billy Mays, Dr. Phil McGraw, Joe McCarthy, Norman Vincent Peale, Charles Ponzi, Al Sharpton, Charlie Sheen and Orson Welles. It is the dynamo of cultivated marketing crazes: flagpole sitting, Cabbage Patch Kids, hula hoops, the Lambada. It is mother and nurse of kooky sci-fi religions: Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, chiropractic, Scientology, Erhard seminars. The glories and powers of America are inseparable from this trait, and it has never been a secret to outsiders, not since Tocqueville.

So how can any self-aware American look at Donald Trump — who, again, even before his candidacy, might have been the first person a Chinese peasant thought of when someone said “name an American” — and imagine him as novel and unfamiliar? You don’t think his architectural sensibility is characteristically American? You don’t think his habit of overstating his fortune is American? You don’t think his hair and his tan are American? Where on Earth, dear friends, do you think you live? Do you never look in the mirror?

Colby Cosh, “Dear America: We need to talk about Donald”, National Post, 2016-03-03.

July 30, 2014

Another view of the Endarkenment – “a treasure trove of top-shelf heterdox samizdaty badness”

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:12

Andrea Castillo tries to outline the “Dark Enlightenment” (or “neoreaction”) for libertarians and other as-yet-unenlightened readers:

A puckish new brand of right-wing radical subverts the postmodern power machine each day over Twitter and RSS for fun and praxis. It’s a real hoot to watch. These rudely triggering firebrands are denounced by the people who matter as wrong-thinking zealots of the most problematic variety — to the masochistic vindication (and occasional sacking) of our impish dissidents. Their freakish messages seem almost tailored to demand attention in our outrage-driven world of social media signaling. Libertarians, meet the neoreaction.

Where to begin? We might think our post-scarcity anarcho-capitalist sex-positive brunch-laden anti-war techno-utopian open borders global activism is pretty avant garde, but these guys have moved on to fashion intellectual foundations for the glorious reinstatement of the rightful House of Stuart (among other anachronisms). They’ve been blowing up the extended artisanal blogosphere in a big way. We’re going to get lumped in with this crew more and more as they gain exposure (they’re not happy about it either), so you should probably know what we’re up against.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m vaguely aware of some of the leading lights (or should that be “leading darks”) of this movement, but with one or two exceptions, I’m not aware of the details of their beliefs. I’m still not convinced they’re as “big bad” as they and their detractors seem to think they are.

Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This motley band of techno-futurists, traditionalists, seduction artists, funnymen, reluctant Sedevacantists, inconvenient ethnonationalists, monarchists, communitarians, general heretics, homebrewed evolutionists, and one dedicated Jacobite to guide them all is perhaps easier for libertarians to initially understand through what they commonly oppose than for what they separately advocate. It’s simpler than you might think.

You could say that these cats take Carlyle, Hobbes, and Darwin pretty seriously. They, like our premier techno-libertarian emissary, do not believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. They reject egalitarianism to a consistency that would have impressed even our old grizzly Bard. Some of them out-Hayek Hayek on social justice, too. Like Mises, they intuit and repudiate the anti-bourgeois mentality of political and cultural Marxism. According to the neoreactionary narrative, these false gods beguile and confuse the masses of unwitting postmoderns into worship of the Cathedral.

Understanding Moldbug’s Cathedral is key to understanding this Dark Enlightenment. Think of it as a public-private partnership that promotes and protects the entrenched secular Puritan paradigm (long story) that neoreactionaries believe runs the world. Or, in the parlance, it’s a cosmos sprung from a taxis that justifies the progressive right of the International Community. Take that rascally State we all rail against and add its cultural allies. Voilà: you have #realpolitik.

June 5, 2014

Silly anti-gaming columnist soundly rebuked by readers

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:39

In the Telegraph last week, William Henderson first made it clear that “until recently, I’d never played a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. I’ve dabbled in Call of Duty on the Xbox, but that’s as far as it got.” Having gotten that out of the way, he then launched into a condemnation of the very games he admits he doesn’t play and has already explicitly admitted he knows very little about:

… I felt like Neo at the end of The Matrix when he sees the shimmering green code of the system, and finally realises the true nature of the prison for his mind.

I won’t name the game in question: there’s no need – so many of them feature similar ways of getting the gamer hooked. Is it cynical of me that I no longer view video games as a means of innocuous pleasure? Definitely. But that cynicism is entirely justified: it’s a reflection of the nature of video games today. As I’ve previously written about, games today tend to reward repetition rather than skill, and gone is the social element where guys would go round each other’s house and actually be in each other’s company. The more successful you want to be at video games nowadays, the more you need to be a hermit.

This is not to say that I begrudge gamers – everyone needs their downtime. However, the key word here is ‘success’. I’m tired of seeing capable, talented young men numb themselves out from the world in a cocoon of fake achievement. I’m tired of how their reward for completing utterly meaningless tasks is another load of worthless digital points – and more meaningless tasks. I’m tired of how the biological mechanisms which ensured their survival and evolutionary success are being hijacked to make them slaves to their own mind.

I rarely bother to read the comments on any site, but I was impressed with the quality of the comments here:

Gaming article comments 1

Gaming article comments 2

Gaming article comments 3

May 31, 2014

Shock, horror! Ezra Levant’s publisher took government grants!

Filed under: Books, Business, Cancon, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:21

In the Globe and Mail, Simon Houpt looks at the rise and rise of Ezra Levant and finishes with what he clearly thinks is a “gotcha” moment:

… for a man who seems to have studied his American forebears so extensively, he has failed utterly to learn how to mimic the persuasive charms of a Bill O’Reilly or the wackadoodle authenticity of a Glenn Beck. He has a genuinely nasty streak that flares up in his attacks – on the Roma people, for example – that have landed him in hot water with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

He seems less interested in free speech than in listening to his own speech. Perhaps fatally, he has no visible sense of humour about himself.

In Groundswell, he has great fun mocking one of his favourite targets: Hollywood stars, whom he accuses of gross hypocrisy for promoting environmental causes while flying around in private jets. He points to Matt Damon’s anti-fracking drama Promised Land, which was backed in part by financing from the United Arab Emirates. And he mocks Josh Fox, the director of the anti-fracking documentaries Gasland and Gasland 2, for being a one-time New York-based actor.

Yet there is more than enough hypocrisy to go around: Levant is a critic of government support whose books have been published by a company that took plenty of government money until a recent change in ownership precluded the practice; a free-marketeer who works for a network that spent months last year trying to convince regulators to let it extract a monthly payment from every TV subscriber in the land.

At one point in Groundswell, Levant suggests activists are primarily driven by the salaries they receive. It’s a worldview that is so breathtakingly cynical that we’re left to wonder if Levant himself would blithely change his position for a fatter paycheque. If true, what kind of free-speech champion is that?

As far as the publisher collecting government money … most of the Canadian publishing business does that. It’s an unusual publishing company that manages to avoid suckling at that particular teat. Sun TV’s campaign for a better placement in cable TV packages certainly didn’t show the company in a good light, but the regulators have deliberately created a two-class system for cable, with the favoured channels required in each cable offering (a subsidy-by-another-name) and the disfavoured ones excluded. Sun TV could have taken the high road, but they’d have gone out of business for no purpose, and it wouldn’t have changed the system at all. (Full disclosure: I don’t watch Sun TV, although I have read a couple of Levant’s books.)

May 8, 2014

Reason‘s Video Game Nation page

Filed under: Business, Gaming, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:02

Reason's Video Game Nation page

March 18, 2014

Selfies are “this year’s droopy pants, backwards baseball caps, or visible piercings, as a shorthand for all that is wrong with today’s youth”

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:21

Nick Gillespie loves the Millennials. No, he really does:

That discomfort you’re sensing all around you? It’s the American Establishment loading its Depends diapers over the prospect of a younger generation that is turning its back on political parties and other zombified artifacts of our glorious past.

On the heels of the Pew Research report titled “Millennials in Adulthood,” two leading New York Times columnists have penned anxious articles sweating it out over the “The Self(ie) Generation” and “The Age of Individualism.”

“Millennials (defined by Pew as Americans ages 18 to 33) are drifting away from traditional institutions — political, religious and cultural,” muses Charles M. Blow, who sees a “a generation in which institutions are subordinate to the individual… This is not only the generation of the self; it’s the generation of the selfie.” Oh noes! And it’s only gonna get worse: “In the future,” worries Ross Douthat, “there will be only one ‘ism’ — Individualism — and its rule will never end. As for religion, it shall decline; as for marriage, it shall be postponed; as for ideologies, they shall be rejected; as for patriotism, it shall be abandoned; as for strangers, they shall be distrusted. Only pot, selfies and Facebook will abide.”

Does it strike anyone else as odd that selfies — clearly less the product of rising narcissism and more the product of the same awesome technology that empowers citizens to capture cops beating the shit of innocent people — have emerged as this year’s droopy pants, backwards baseball caps, or visible piercings, as a shorthand for all that is wrong with today’s youth? Getting bent out of shape over selfies may just be the ultimate #firstworldproblem.

January 20, 2014

Sounding the alarm over the endarkenment

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:55

I must not have been paying attention, but according to Jamie Bartlett, we should be terrified of a “dark enlightenment” that is sweeping the internet:

Since 2012 a sophisticated but bizarre online neo-fascist movement has been growing fast. It’s called “The Dark Enlightenment”. Its modus operandi is well suited to today’s world. Supporters are dotted all over the world, connected via a handful of blogs and chat rooms. Its adherents are clever, angry white men patiently awaiting the collapse of civilisation, and a return to some kind of futuristic, ethno-centric feudalism.

It started, suitably enough, with two blogs. Mencius Moldbug, a prolific blogger and computer whizz from San Francisco, and Nick Land, an eccentric British philosopher (previously co-founder of Warwick University’s Cybernetic Culture Research Unit) who in 2012 wrote the eponymous “The Dark Enlightenment”, as a series of posts on his site. You can find them all here.

The philosophy, difficult to pin down exactly, is a loose collection of neo-reactionary ideas, meaning a rejection of most modern thinking: democracy, liberty, and equality. Particular contempt is reserved for democracy, which Land believes “systematically consolidate[s] and exacerbate[es] private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption.”

So, according to this report, we should be terrified of a bunch of basement-dwelling maladjusted would-be techno-feudalists. The question that immediately springs to mind is “why?” We’re told that they’re “neo-reactionary”, “racist”, and “sexist”. We need to be afraid of them because they have the power to … well, nothing. He’s sounding the tocsin of alarm because he’s discovered that there are people who are wrong on the internet!

Update, 3 February: Scharlach created an affinity diagram of the Dark Enlightenment movement, grouped according to their major themes.

Click to see the original post.

Click to see the original post.

Update, 4 February: ESR‘s take on the affinity diagram linked above.

Just looking at the map, someone unfamiliar with the players would be justified in wondering if there’s really any coherence there at all. And that’s a fair question. Some of the people the map sweeps in don’t think of themselves as “Dark Enlightenment” at all. This is notably true of the light green cluster marked “Techno-Commercialists/Futurists” at the top, and the “Economists” connected to it in yellow.

If I belonged on this map, that’s where I’d be. I know Eliezer Yudkowsky; the idea that he and the Less Wrong crowd and Robin Hanson feel significant affinity with most of the rest of that map is pretty ludicrous.

Note, however, that one of only two links to the rest is “Nick Land”. This is a clue, because Nick Land is probably the single most successful booster of the “Dark Enlightenment” meme. It’s in his interest to make the movement look as big and various as he can manage, and I think this map is partly in the nature of a successful con job or dezinformatsiya.

In this, Land is abetted by people outside the movement who are well served by making it look like the Dark Enlightenment is as big and scary as possible. Some of those people lump in the techno-futurist/economist group out of dislike for that group’s broadly libertarian politics – which though very different from the reactionary ideas of the core Dark Enlightenment, is also in revolt against conventional wisdom. Others lump them in out of sheer ignorance.

So, my first contention is that Nick Land has pulled a fast one. That said, I think there is a core Dark Enlightenment – mostly identifiable with the purple “Political Philosophy” group, but with some crossover into HBD and Masculinity and (possibly) the other groups at the bottom of the map.

For the record, I don’t think I’ve got a dog in this fight … I only recognize the names of nine of the linked sites, and most of those are of the recognize-the-name sense, not the familiar-with-the-content sense.

December 28, 2013

QotD: Dance

Filed under: Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:48

Those Puritans who snort against the current dances are quite right when they argue that the tango and the shimmie are violently aphrodisiacal, but what they overlook is the fact that the abolition of such provocative wriggles would probably revive something worse, to wit, the Viennese waltz. The waltz never quite goes out of fashion; it is always just around the corner; every now and then it comes back with a bang. And to the sore harassment and corruption, I suspect, of chemical purity, the ideal of all right-thinkers. The shimmie and the tango are too gross to be very dangerous to civilized human beings; they suggest drinking beer out of buckets; the most elemental good taste is proof enough against them. But the waltz! Ah, the waltz, indeed! It is sneaking, insidious, disarming, lovely. It does its work, not like a college-yell or an explosion in a munitions plant, but like the rustle of the trees, the murmur of the illimitable sea, the sweet gurgle of a pretty girl. The jazz-band fetches only vulgarians, barbarians, idiots, pigs. But there is a mystical something in “Weiner Blut” or “Kiinstler Leben” that fetches even philosophers.

The waltz, in fact, is magnificently improper the art of tone turned bawdy. I venture to say that the compositions of one man alone, Johann Strauss II, have lured more fair young creatures to lamentable complaisance than all the hypodermic syringes of all the white slave scouts since the fall of the Western Empire. There is something about a waltz that is simply irresistible. Try it on the fattest and sedatest or even upon the thinnest and most acidulous of women, and she will be ready, in ten minutes, for a stealthy kiss behind the door nay, she will forthwith impart the embarrassing news that her husband misunderstands her, and drinks too much, and cannot appreciate Maeterlinck, and is going to Cleveland, 0., on business to-morrow …

H.L. Mencken, “The Allied Arts: Tempo di Valse”, Prejudices: Second Series, 1920.

April 20, 2010

QotD: Food porn and subversive humour

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:08

The KFC Double Down makes me despair. Not because of the “sandwich” itself but because of the predictable reaction; in general, if you didn’t know that the thing was made of chicken, bacon, and processed cheese, you would get the impression that it was lovingly constructed from scorpions and poison. [. . .]

But which side in the war between soulless conglomerates and food puritans has irony on its side? KFC has literally rearranged the same ingredients that go into most every other grab-and-go entrée it serves, and gotten rid of the bread, which, guess what, might not be that good for you anyway. The sinister Elders of Tricon, who were surely lit unflatteringly from above in an austere modernist boardroom when they made the decision to create the Double Down, knew perfectly well that it would create panic and horror for no other reason than its configuration. The Double Down is, explicitly and unapologetically, a piece of food comedy.

And all the horrible people — for it seems virtually impossible to talk about food without being horrible — are reacting exactly as planned. The unapologetically paternalistic healthitarians, the grease-sweating Warcraft-playing fast-food reverse-snobs, the one-idea-in-their-whole-head theorists of food salvation, the paleos and the Pollanites, the narcissistic Nietzscheans who look at cheese as though it was about to go critical any second but will buy whatever’s new on the shelves at the GNC without so much as looking at the label . . . all the people, in short, who routinely insist on adulterating the pleasure of eating, and that includes, most of all, the types who’ve imbibed too much M.F.K. Fisher and who write pornographically about the “pleasure of eating” as if they were zooming a powerful camera in on an open mouth furiously masticating a mouthful of gnocchi.

Colby Cosh, “The Double Down: your move, America”, Macleans, 2010-04-20

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