Manic Monday Apocalypso: The Fate Worse Than Death

Another “serious” MMA, no fun movie or comic book or game to talk about. This topic comes courtesy of Darcysport, with whom I had a heated exchange about the fate of GM. She, as a Michigan resident who knows lots of good people who will personally suffer from GM’s failure, wants it to succeed.

I, an asshole, want it to fail. (My words, not hers. We were civil. Mostly.)

My logic is simple, ruthless and uncompromising: The actions involved in the “saving” of GM were illegal, unConstituional, and represent a serious step on the road to fascism. I’m not saying we’re fascists now, or Obama is a fascist; I’m saying that (yet another) barrier to fascism has been removed.

Therefore, whatever ill happens to GM workers pales in comparison to the ills that will follow any “success” GM has. (Any real success is unlikely. A redefinition of the word “success” is most likely.) This was my feeling about the initial, massive financial system bailout–a feeling I think has been vindicated (in a very short time) by the subsequent actions and failures.

But it’s easy to say this about people you don’t know. “Let them suffer, so that the Republic may live.” It’s all so abstract. (Principles are like that.)

But I’ve said it before: It is better that my children die than the government should get more involved in health care. The government is involved, and is largely responsible for the mess they’re now proposing to save us from. (“Savings” is another word commonly redefined in this discussion.) The solution never, ever involves more freedom.

There’s a concrete angle to this: My employers sent out a missive encouraging us all to vote for the massive tax propositions on the latest ballot. But I still voted against it, even though it might cost me my job. (Or I would’ve voted against it had I bothered to vote this time; my perfect voting record is somewhat sullied, I’m afraid.)

And this is where we get to the whole apocalypse tie-in: Though it’s more fun to pretend the world ends with a bang, it of course ends with a whimper. In practical terms, the whimper is the slow enslavement of a once free population. With each step, we’re supposed to quietly accede, precisely because good people will be hurt, our families will suffer and the good times we have enjoyed will come to an end. Or, maybe only the sorta-okay times will get less okay. (You can see that prominently in communist countries: Life sucks, but it sucks a little less for a few, and they’ll do any horrible thing imaginable to hold on to that slightly less sucky existence.)

There is a fate worse than death, and that’s slavery. We were founded (somewhat ironically) by men who refused to be slaves. Death was preferable to them. And yet we are nowhere near as free as they were under Britain’s rule. Maybe that’s why it always sort of feels like the End is Nigh.

And rather intriguingly, every post-apocalyptic scenario I can think of pits a few freedom-loving rebels against a dysfunctional society.

The left has come at us anew with Orwellian tactics of redefining words like “taxes” as “revenue” and “big, ugly programs that benefit only entrenched political power” as “investment”. What I suggest now is for freedom-loving folk to call political programs what they are: An attack on freedom.

If being against nationalized health care means you want people to die, it’s fair–and more accurate–to say that being for it means you’re against freedom. Financial bailouts? Anti-freedom. Auto bailouts? Anti-freedom.

Freedom by definition includes the freedom to fail. Just as freedom of speech includes the freedom to say stupid and offensive things, freedom of action includes the freedom to do stupid and offensive things.

I also took it up with Amba over healthcare: Yes, We The People have the freedom to die because we’ve made poor choices. We The People also have the freedom to set up charities to help people who’ve made bad choices (or who were just unlucky).

If the car companies have to fail, so be it: Clear the barriers to making new car companies, or maybe companies dedicated to a brand new paradigm of travel.

Freedom, in the form of liberalism, grew Western Civilization. Ossification, in the form of “liberalism”, will cause it to crumble.

Two Can Play At That Game, Darcysport

Darcy has shamelessly posted a cheesecake shot on her blog, in the guise of, you know, being about tennis.

Ha, ha, we all have a few laughs, Darcy gets a few hits, and no harm done, right?

Except that in doing so, she completely misses the most important tennis story of the season. Possibly, the most important tennis story of our time. Seems that young Simona Halep, as well as being endowed with impressive tennis skills has also been over-endowed in some departments.
OK, seriously, normally I’m against any sort of surgical breast changes. I don’t like implants, generally. I mean, if you’re a pro, they might be a prudent investment. (I’m told they can be worth $5K a week for strippers.) But aesthetically, they seem to lose their appeal the closer you get.

I also don’t like reductions. I could be wrong, but I think the complaints that women have (back pain) could usually be resolved by losing a little weight or exercising the torso a little more. Also it seems like a kind of horrible thing, arbitrarily removing parts of the body. (I feel that way about appendix operations, too, so, you know: Just crazy ol’ Blake again.)

But in this case, neither of those would seem to be plausible: She’s obviously in top notch shape, and those things actually cause drag when she’s running across the court. So, good luck and God bless.

And the ball is in your court now, Ms. Sport.

(h/t Protein Wisdom)

Exciting News in the Blog World!

Lots of things happening for our little Althouse-offshoot community. In alphabetical order!

Chicken Little has a blog! A little light on the posts, just yet.
Darcy has a blog! Also a little light on the posts, yet. Darcy gets more space here, though, ‘cause she’s a hot blond sports chick. I’d hit on her but: a) Don’t know nothin’ ’bout sports; b) she could easily beat me up.
Hector has changed his blog’s name! If Rain in the Doorway (the title of a lesser known Thorne Smith novel) wasn’t obscure enough for you, he’s now called “Kiarian Lunch” which refers to certain characters in the novel. And if you don’t know Thorne Smith, Google. His books are available online for free reading (outside the US, sigh), and well worth the time.
Micheal H has a blog! Right now, it’s empty, but not too long ago it had a very nice post of a speecch Mr. H made.
Last, and not least, not only does Pogo have a blog, it’s marvelously idiosyncratic and he’s posting up a whirlwind. Fun to read! Lots of pictures!! Weirdly named “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”.
And, as always check out Trooper York, the, uh, glue that holds us all together.
PS: And don’t a dope like me forgetting to link Ruth Anne Adams’s blog; the woman with the puns of steel.
PPS: And Kelly’s back at Loaded Questions, too. Kelly never, ever, ever comes to visit me here, but I’m a good friend so I pimp her site when she bothers to put up stuff. Check it out: She has her own dot-com, too. Hi-falutin’.

Missing You, or Where The Girls Aren’t

Well, Knox was apparently moving (will she still be “Knox” if not in Knoxville?), Freem had a baby (and a tea party) and Darcy chose this inopportune moment to selfishly go on a cruise. To, like, New Zealand or something. She’ll probably come back with a kiwi for a boyfriend and an Austrian accident.

Without Ruth Anne dropping the occasional pun grenade, it’d be a tomb in here. (And I should note that Knox has stopped by and Freem is still tweeting a bit at odd hours.) Troop just finished (what he hopes is his last) tax season. And otherwise I’ve probably just not been very interesting.

But I got to thinking about the Loudon Wainwright, easily one of my favorite singer-songwriters, who wrote this song back when he was on M*A*S*H for the absent nurses:

And I wonder if they miss us,
Now wouldn’t that be funny?
Now that we’re without them
We can hardly stand ourselves.

But my fondness for the ol’ Loudo has always struck me as odd, in that the guy’s life has been almost at the opposite end of the circle from me. He’s always been a ladies man, incredibly devoted to his mother but unable to keep a relationship together, whose kids have, shall we say, mixed feelings about him.

The trajectory of his life (as the listener can ascertain it, which is–one hopes–dramatized) has followed a sort of predictably sad path from cocky, angry, snarky young man to doubting middle-aged divorcee, to old man contemplating his fate.

And perhaps the appeal is in that trajectory. Despite writing very specific songs that no one else can sing (and reducing his commercial viability as a songwriter thereby), they do speak to certain universal truths.

And I see now that Althouse is talking about sad songs, which fits in with this message, sitting on my laptop for the past 6 hours. Loudon has written some of the most profoundly touching music about his parents since their deaths, and I was thinking about this song, “Missing You”, which I believe is actually about his mother:

He don’t stay out any more
No more staying out past four
Most nights he turns in ‘round ten
He’s way too tired to pretend

Sure you might find him up at three
But if he is, it’s just to pee
Some nights he’s awake till two
That’s just because he’s missing you
Just lying there and missing you

He don’t sleep late any more
Up like a farmer half-past four
When that sleepy sun comes up
He’s halfway through his second cup

And his day’s work is done ’round two
That’s when he starts in missing you
Quarter-to-three it’s time to nap
He always says “No nap, I’m crap.”
His motto is: No nap, I’m crap.

Guess he’s just set in his ways
He does the same damn things most days
Seven twenty-fours a week
With lots of down-time so to speak

He hardly glances at a clock
Since his routine is carved in rock
Man’s a machine what can he do?
Just keep on going missing you
Keep right on going missing you

His teeth fall out, so does his hair
But in his dreams you’re always there
A jewel in his unconscious mind
A miracle, a precious find

But in the end he’s all alone
He wakes up and his jewel is gone
There’s a heaven and he knows it’s true
He’s stuck on earth just missing you
And it’s hell on just missing you
Back where he started missing you

And here’s a wan waif singing it a capella.

My Preoccupation…

You guys have left some great comments, much appreciated. I hope to address them in a bit when I catch up on things.

Unlike some quitters, though, I’m not going to be running away to worship God. (He pretty much told me he needs me on the front lines. I think I’m supposed to be fodder.)

It’s crunch time, diet-wise for The Boy. The doctor has reduced his meat intake dramatically, so he has little choice but to eat veggies or starve. (And starving’s not an option.) I’m showing my solidarity here, so I’m also downing the rabbit chow.

I’ll have a review of I Love You, Man soon. (Executive summary: Romantic comedy where the principles are straight males. Surprisingly charming and female friendly.)

Also, the refrigerator broke, distilling water is more complicated than it seems, the pilot light on the water heater keeps going out, and (on the positive side) I’ve apparently won Darcy.

No, don’t tell me it was April Fool’s Day. I don’t wanna know.

I Feel It In My Fingers, I Feel It In My Toes

It must be spring, because we’re talking about sex again.

Althouse had a thread about prostitution in New Zealand and, predictably, like clockwork, the “all women are whores” meme surfaced. Though this was “all women trade sex for material goods” which is the complement to “all men pay for sex,” I guess. (You don’t hear “all men are johns”, much, though, do you?)

I stayed out and let Freeman tangle with it for a while, and then Darcy added her two cents, and finally–I swear, it’s like a mouse to cheese, putting up these dubious philosophical propositions–I caved and wrote a very lengthy response. Which I’m going to repost here and add a few things because, believe it or not, I had even more to say.

First off, the emphasis is wrong. And men are likely to make this mistake because they’re so strongly sex driven, but relationships aren’t “about” sex. Sex is part of a relationship. If it’s the reason for your relationship, you probably are better off with a prostitute or–if you’re more monogamously inclined–a mistress.

But it’s such an impoverished view of the whole man-woman dynamic. Anyway, here’s what I wrote, with some additional notes:

Actually, the theme of the “cheapskate girlfriend” is not at all uncommon in a relationship where the woman has or controls the money. That particular phrase isn’t common, I’d grant. (“Stingy bitch”, maybe.) This reflects more the fact that men don’t complain much about their women not giving them money because society associates masculinity with economic prowess.

Women talking about cheapskate men was used as evidence of their material natures. But women also complain of stingy lovers and, truthfully, stinginess in all areas of life. Sometimes people just complain. Other times, well, it’s easier to say “He’s tight with money” than “he doesn’t love me.”

And, certainly, women make this association, too, to a degree. Women who use this as their primary criterion are known as “gold diggers”, a phrase which most wouldn’t appreciate as a descriptor much more than “whore”.

Saying that “most women trade sex for material goods at one time or another” but then trying to defend it as “well, it’s not professional, so they’re not whores” seems a bit specious to me. Isn’t “trading sex for material goods” the very definition of prostitution? How is it not “professional” if they’re getting paid for it? Are they pro-am?

I also don’t buy Sofa King’s addition of “a close personal relationship”, either. The phrase was “material goods”. There’s a qualitative difference between “close personal relationship” and “jewelry”.

There was a little sleight-of-hand here. Revenant used the word “material” and Sofa King added relationships as something men give women for sex. This is one of the creepier notions. Young people get into relationships because of sex–and, certainly, women were traditionally the gatekeeper (“no sex until we’re married”) because they were risking more.

I’ll get into this more later, but sex sex. In other words, if a man and a woman have sex, it’s not necessarily an equal exchange. In fact, it’s probably almost never an equal exchange. The woman’s risk is greater, partners’ sexual apettites are almost always going to be different or out of sync, and just the raw value of time and attention is unequal from person-to-person.

Men and women in relationships do things that lead to sex. You could cynically attach a monetary value to all those things, and say they were both trading things for sex.

This is belied by the fact that the exchanges continue even when sex isn’t in the picture. And sex continues even when there’s no material trade.

One might: have sex to strengthen a unit that better survives in the word; have sex to get pregnant; have sex because it has a physiological and psychological benefit for your partner; have sex just for sex–because it’s fun.

None of this is prostitution or “trading for material goods”. Most of it falls into the category of “moral”.

Sofa King actually said “What is the moral basis for saying that any one of these forms of compensation is superior to any other?” Which is just kind of silly. Morality has all kinds of things to say about when sex is okay and when it’s not. Sex is one of the driving forces of morality.

But the part that made Darcy sad and which I thought was–well, demonstrably false as well as cynical–was when Rev said “A guy who tries building a relationship on kind words and deeds and going dutch on everything isn’t going to get any. The relationship is probably going to die early on, too.”

If I were to make an observation about women, it might be that they’re shallow. I’d say the same thing about men, too, though, and I’d add a caveat: They’re superficially shallow. Heh. That is to say, we all judge based on outward appearances at first. Guys go for the pretty girl, women go for the rich guy–and, frankly, I’ve never seen good looks work against a man, or money work against a girl.

But ultimately, most of us look a little deeper, and a guy can go a long way on kindness–even if he doesn’t mean it.

As clichéd as all this stuff about women + gifts is, isn’t there also a cliché about the poor young couple starting out with nothing but love? (True story: A friend of mine is celebrating his wife’s birthday by taking her to the park and picking flowers from their garden, etc. Guaranteed he’s “getting some” tonight.)

There are a lot of other clichés that don’t fit neatly into the women-as-whore paradigm. Lots of men are supported by women. Medical students hook up with nurses (and then when they’re established drop them for showgirls). Starving artists hook up with waitresses. Starving artists mutually work menial jobs, supporting each other as best they can.

No, in practice, there are only a few situations where this idea works out at all.

Do women sometimes receive an expensive gift that they respond to with sex? Sure. Some relationships degenerate to the point where the only worthy expression of affection is money from him and sex from her.

But in a healthy relationship–one that isn’t going to end when her beauty or his money runs out–when an expensive gift moves a woman to sex, it’s because it represents something else: The attention of the male and his demonstration that he values her, that he’s willing to work or sacrifice for her, and so on.

In other words, there is an exchange going on. It’s just not a material one.

Rev and I have locked horns many times over materialism. He’s a materialist; he believes in nothing but matter. I think that’s pretty silly because, you know, why would I bother with a piece of meat? Heh.

But a materialist is sort of stuck here: If there is no spiritual component to life then there has to be a material exchange of some sort, if you are kind to someone, that has to trigger something in their brain that releases a chemical that makes them feel good, or some damn thing.

In the stereotypical situation, where the man wants sex more than the woman, his sexual attention is at less of a premium. It can be self-centered. If she’s not in the mood, sex can be her gift to him. (Wise women know this and wise men appreciate it.)

But how does he reciprocate? However good and considerate a lover he may be, where’s the exchange in terms of doing something for your partner that you wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to?

You think women respond to expensive gifts? Try doing the dishes. Paint a room. Fix something around the house. Rub her feet. Give her a back rub (that doesn’t end up as a breast massage). Try easing her burden a little bit. Do something you wouldn’t do except that it makes her feel good.

Try writing a poem or a song or doing something that demonstrates her place in your heart. Yeah, you stink at it, and it’s embarrassing, but she loves it. Perform it in front of an audience.

Hell, just show her affection during day-to-day life. Maybe you both have jobs and kids and things are crazy, but you give out the same sort of “we’re on our honeymoon” types of signals as you pass in the hallway, and see if that that diamond ring doesn’t turn brass.

The “sex for stuff” paradigm only works with particular sorts of relationships with particular sorts of women.

Most women won’t put up with it.

Boy, is that last line true. My favorite female commenters: knox, Darcy, Freeman, Ruth Anne, Amba–I can see them kicking a guy in the nuts who gave them a shiny bauble and expected sex in exchange for it. Women with any sense of self-esteem have a sharp sense of when you’re calling them a whore, no matter how masked.

Women are funny that way: They’ll give freely and generously something you couldn’t ever buy from them.

Libertarian Optimism

“Expecting Washington to cut back its main instrument of power after a capitalism-bashing political campaign is like expecting Michael Moore to share his Egg McMuffin with a homeless man.”

The above from a piece by Gillespie and Welch which is remarkably optimistic given the massive spending. Bankruptcy could lead to–must inevitably lead to?–greater responsibility and less spending and control? Maybe? Dunno.

John Stossel is less sanguine.

It’s true that technology–far from the oppressor imagined by Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury–has mostly had a salubrious effect on liberty. Which is not to say that there aren’t victims.

Gillespie and Welch’s premise seems to be that, in many ways, people are becoming accustomed to tremendous freedom, especially through the ‘net. (We are all anarchists now, after a fashion.) This, in turn, will lead to draining of political power.

That might could be. (Yes, “might could”. Gotta problem with that?)

It’s certainly a nice thought. I think I’ll adopt it. See how it grows.

Darcy asked me the other day if I was optimistic, with regard to people and events. Not exactly. With people, I prefer to dwell on their better aspects. Their worst aspects are likely to be banal, but the ways in which they excel or thrive are more likely to be interesting and useful. (Unless, I suppose, one is an extortionist.)

There’s an optimism one adopts when taking on a project. The idea is that it should succeed. That’s why one generally bothers at all. (And I do the occasional project that I know will “fail” because its success is separate from what I’m trying to get out of it.)

But for large events–society-wide events–history is a bit of a buzzkill. Here we are, in this Golden Age–for surely it is a Golden Age, warts and all–when history demonstrates that all such ages pass, and sooner rather than later. And it’s so easy to see–or at least think we see–the reasons why.

But what else can one do but try to stop that, at least until things get so bad the ship must be abandoned?

That doesn’t sound very optimistic, though, does it?

How Old Are You?

How old are you?
Tell me what’s your story?
How old are you?
Tell me when did you start?
Are you in it for the money or the glory?
Do you still have the brains, the guts and the heart?

When you were younger
You were so much better
When you were young
You were really hot
But now you’re much older
And you’re colder than ever
Why don’t you hang it up?
Why don’t you stop?

–Loudon Wainwright III

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