Year In Review

This is the time of year when lazy writers post about the comings and goings of the previous year, usually in the form of a listicle. “The top-10 events of the past year” is a column that used to turn up in every newspaper at least once. Then you have the predictions for the coming year, which no one ever mentions as part of their year in review posts. With technology being what it is, you would think a new genre of year-end post would be the review of futures past type of post, but that has not happened.

There is some utility in looking at these things. It’s a lot like reading old articles about the glorious future of the 1990’s. It is a good reminder that most of the things we think are important turn out to be not so important. You look at some of the predictions from last year and wonder why anyone cared to mention it. Of course, you also wonder why no one mentioned what happens to be important right now. How many forecasters predicted a budget fight between Trump and his own party over wall funding?

Looking at your own past predictions is a bit humbling, which is probably why no one does it as a part of their year-end posting. Here is my post from last year with my crystal ball forecast for the upcoming year. I’m not a fan of the listicle, so it is written in the normal format. Looking back on it, maybe a list is not such a terrible thing to do for these sorts of posts. It does make it easier to read. That said, the very worst people write listicles, so I just can’t bring myself to do it. One has to keep up appearances.

So, how’d I do?

Well, I got the DACA stuff mostly right. The part I got wrong is that Trump would just drop the whole thing, rather than let the program expire unnoticed. Instead, he and his new boy-toy, Lindsey Graham are talking about trading 700,000 green cards to invaders in exchange for a down payment on his wall. In fact, Trump has gotten nothing from Congress with regards to immigration, so on that score I can only give myself a solid “C+” for getting close, but over estimating Trump’s political skill.

A similar thing is true with the Mueller probe. I got the easy part right. The farcical nature of the thing is now plain to everyone. Even the Democrats have stopped yapping about Russian collusion. The mask has dropped and they are clear about it being a way to hobble Trump. That’s not entirely true, as it is mostly a way to cover-up the Obama effort to subvert the last presidential election. I got the midterms right too, but that was so easy, so I’m not sure it’s worth grading.

I did nail the gene editing stuff. The Chinese may have used the new technology to “fix” the DNA of an embryo. That’s the claim, at least, but none of it has been independently verified. The Chinese will lie about anything, as it is a bandit culture. What has been released to the public that can be verified looks legitimate. Even if it proves to be false, it does reveal a willingness to do it by China, which has the West thinking about how to get past the ethics of it so it can be done here as well. Welcome to the future.

One thing I got very right is the continued growth of nationalist and populist parties in Europe. It is easy to forget that the smart people were all talking about the populist wave having crested last year, so going the other way was a bold prediction. Not only have the populists displayed staying power, new movements from the Left are turning up. The Yellow Vest thing in France is much more of a leftists cause, especially in Paris, than a right-wing phenomenon. That’s something to watch for next year.

Another thing I got very right is the IPO for Saudi Aramco. It’s funny to think that was a big news item last year. It’s a great example of how something we think is important in the moment turns out to be easily forgotten. Alternatively, it is a good example of something the mass media is instructed to forget, once the news turns ugly. Notice how no one talks about our second greatest ally in the world these days. A shrewd analyst might be thinking of a way to bet against the Saudis surviving next year.

What really mattered?

The dogs that were not barking last year, like the aggressive censorship of dissidents and the absolute failure of the Trump administration, have turned out to be the most important stories of 2018. This time last year most people thought the Left was starting to run out of steam with their Nazi hunting, but that turned out to be wrong. The move to a Chinese style censorship regime actually took a big leap forward. Similarly, people thought Trump was settling into the job, but it turned out he was getting worse at it.

If one were to honestly characterize 2018, it would be as the year that even cynical dissidents were shocked at the number of masks dropping. This year we learned that Congress is so frightened of Silicon Valley, that it is fair to say the real power base in the empire is in San Francisco. Similarly, Congress is so frightened of the intelligence agencies, they have become the Praetorian Guard of the empire. A shrewd analyst may be thinking that 2019 is the year we dispense with democracy altogether.

In Defense of Error

The other day, I followed a back and forth on Twitter between two smart people and one of them pointed out that the other had been wrong about the issue in the past. The details are not important as nothing serious ever gets discussed on Twitter, but what struck me is how even smart people can resort to this sort of score keeping. In the context of an internet exchange, it is about as sensible as claiming the other guy has cooties. It’s just a childish way of dismissing an argument or criticism without examining it.

It is a form of the fallacy of the undistributed middle. Someone could have a great record of being right about a topic, but those past predictions have little or even no connection to the current prediction. A gambler can get on a great roll at the craps table. It does not mean he’ll keep winning. This also means that the legendary loser at craps can win once in a while too. That’s the way it is with intellectual endeavors. You will get a lot wrong, but you can get a lot right too. Intellectual advancement is the story of trial and error.

Anyway, it got me thinking about something that turns up a lot on the dissident right. That is the quest to purify one’s past. It seems that a lot of people feel they should be ashamed of having been a libertarian or an unthinking conservative, who listened to Rush Limbaugh and voted Republican. Often you hear people talk about their journey to this side of the great divide as an awakening. It’s not a terrible way to frame it, as it certainly feels that way when you are going through it.

I know in my my case, I still remember when it dawned on me that the Bush people were serious about the spreading democracy stuff. From 2001 until 2005, I was quite confident that the democracy talk was mostly public relations. It was a way to troll the Left, by using their language as a justification for Afghanistan and Iraq. What was really going to happen is the CIA would find a friendly strong man to take over as an authoritarian. We’d install our guy and that would be that.

Even during the election with the purple finger stuff, I was quite confident it was just a show for domestic consumption. Then, it became clear they really thought they could turn Iraq into a European style democracy that would be an ally to Israel and help with the coming war with Iran. The scales fell from my eyes and I quickly moved from thinking the neocons were wrong to thinking they were crazy. Bill Kristol was just as deranged as the guys talking about the invisible imam and the end times.

Now, I take solace in knowing that I was not the only one to make this error. Tucker Carlson often talks about how he supported the war on terror and then realized it was going to be a catastrophe. John Derbyshire has written about his regret for having gone along with something he always sensed was a bad idea. Lots of smart and skeptical people were fooled by the Bush gang, so I don’t lose sleep over it. The neocons are very good at turning virtues into vices. It is their nature.

The thing is though, I’ve always thought the two best things to happen to our side are the Bush years and the Obama years. For men of my generation, the Bush year opened our eyes about the reality of the Buckley Right. Whatever the Buckley project was at the start, by the 1990’s it became a vehicle to undermine heritage America, every bit as toxic and dangerous as Progressivism. The Obama years created more race realists that an army of Charles Murrays and Steve Sailers.

The point is, mistakes have consequences, but they are often a necessary intermediate step in discovery. This is true of science and technology and it is true in the evolution of culture and society. The bungling of guys like Richard Spencer, which set off the aggressive campaign of censorship and de-platforming, has opened a lot of eyes, especially on our side, to the realities facing us. If the alt-right had been more prudent early on, the battle lines would not be so clear now.

A point I made on RamZPaul’s Christmas special was that the aggressive censorship and the fallout from it will make us better in the long run. James Edwards did not seem to like that point, but I am right about this. This is not a game you win by mastering the other side’s rules. There are no rules, just force. Our side will be better as we learn how to navigate around the searchlights, armed patrols and ideological enforcers. The path to victory is not in the appeal to their virtue, but the exploitation of their vices.

In a way, the dissident right is the result of error. Much of the skepticism that defines this side of the great divide is the result of having been wrong about a great many things, especially the integrity of the people in charge. Just as science and technology are the story of error, whatever comes next is going to be the result of many mistakes. It’s what an awakening is, when you think about it. It is that point when you realize you have been wrong about important things and begin to figure out the right answers.

Vertical Thinking

Some time ago, someone sent me a link to a news story about vertical farming, which is a form of urban agriculture. Here is the Wiki on it and here are some news stories about it here, here and here. Amusingly, when you dig into the subject, you find that the growth of vertical farming can be credited to marijuana growers, who used hydroponic farming to grow weed outside the prying eyes of the man. Big agriculture is now jumping into the business, as a way to both cut labor cost, but also transportation costs.

The cost drivers for food production have always been labor, land and transportation, so farmers have always looked to technology to mechanize their process and increase the yield per acre. Getting the result to market, on the other hand, has always been controlled by distance. Farmers are way outside the city and the customers are in the city. Things like motorized transport and refrigeration have had the strange result of increasing the distance between farm and table. Most city dwellers have never seen a farm.

Vertical farming not only allows for greater yield per acre, you just keep growing up, it also allows for the distance between farm and table to collapse. Vertical farms are just buildings using hydroponics and can be as tall as you like. Almost every city has an excess of abandoned warehouse and factory space. Those spaces, in theory, can be turned into vertical farms. The area around them could literally be turned into farmer’s markets, where the locals can buy their food from the farmer.

The other twist on this is the growing of food in a building, rather than out on the land, makes automation easier. Having robots roaming around the countryside sounds like fun, but robots break, so that means people roaming the countryside to fix the robots. In contrast, an automated warehouse requires just a few people to maintain the robots, relatively speaking. A Japanese firm has built a vertical lettuce farm that is entirely automated. It is a robot vertical farm that is commercially viable.

It’s not much a jump in thought to imagine where this can lead. This method of food production means that cities could become independent of the countryside, maybe even become agricultural centers. That means the interdependence of rural and urban that is enforced and regulated by government could be be broken. That does not mean cities would break from from the countryside, but it means they could survive, at least, if order breaks down and government is no longer able to maintain the balance.

The science fiction scenario is not such a big leap, if vertical farming can be what the industry thinks it can be in a few decades. The cosmopolitans who run the cities and control finance and trade, would move to seal off the cities from the countryside. Inside we get the Brave New World of Huxley, while outside we get the depopulated countryside of John the Savage. The cities would be connected by hyper loops built by Elon Musk. Port cities will be where goods and services enter the system from overseas.

As John Derbyshire remarked at the most recent Mencken conference, the future imagined by Huxley is not only more likely than that imagined by Orwell, it is right around the corner. Cities may not become entirely self-sufficient in the next generation, but the world of work and want is possibly coming to a close in the West. A lot can happen between now and the glorious future, like a plague or an unforeseen financial collapse that upends social order, but the future imagined by Huxley is visible on the horizon.

There is one problem with all of this, whether it is self-sufficient cities run by robots or the future imagined by Huxley. That is, what would be the point? Ruling elites have the population they need to rule. They always seek to reduce that which is not useful to their grip on power. The proliferation of birth control is simply eugenics with a happy face. The societies to the South are sending their excess population north because they don’t want them. Every African potentate will tell you. He has too many Africans.

In the robot cities of the future, most of the people would serve no purpose, so they could be expelled out of the city or recycled for their mineral content in the vertical farms. At some point, the only useful people to the ruling elite would be the guards, who defend the city from the outlanders and expel excess people. Some jobs can never be automated, at least not in foreseeable future, so cities would still have people, just not a lot of them. The logical result of that is much smaller cities, but that becomes self-defeating.

Just play out the dynamics of the imaginary world of self-sufficient cities run by robots and it becomes ridiculous in a hurry. The expulsion of people drives up the population of outlanders and drives down the population of cosmopolitans. To keep from being overrun, the number of guards needed by the city must go up. The self-sufficient cities run by robots eventually become armed camps for no other purpose than to guard the vertical farms and give the ruling class someone over whom to rule. It’s pointless.

Of course, there is another side to the question. That is, what’s the point of living in the world imagined by Huxley. That is the thing Derbyshire noted in his talk. People prefer Orwell, because his future seems like it has a point. There is a reason to live. In the Brave New World, life is consumption and fornication floating in an ether of soma, the opioid-like narcotic freely available in Huxley’s future. That’s what makes it so unpleasant for modern readers. Life without purpose is not utopian. It is dystopian..

As we get closer to that world and drug addiction rates spiral upward, suicide rates climb higher and now life expectancy is declining, it suggests there is a stop between here and Huxley’s imagined future. That’s death. Humans, at least Europeans, are not built for captivity. This reality is probably what is driving the migrant invasions. What’s the point of defending your lands when you have no reason to get up in the morning? People don’t defend land. They defend the life that can be built and lived on that land.

Request For Failure

I was out drinking with a former co-worker the other day and he had with him a RFP, which stands for a “Request For Proposal.” When he and I worked together, handling RFP’s was a regular part of the job. In other parts of my work career, I was on the other end, helping craft these things. As a result, I’ve had the misfortune to have read hundreds, maybe thousands of the documents. After a while, you lose track. As is the case with most of them, this one was poorly written, with some hilarious errors and omissions.

For those unfamiliar with the RFP, which is sometimes called a request for quote or even a request for information, it is a document companies produce when they wish to buy a capital product or service. In theory, the document describes the item or service, the conditions that have to be met in order to be considered and the process by which the company intends to evaluate potential vendors. These are popular in government and large corporate environments. Here’s a useful overview for those interested.

Not having had to field one of these for a while, I’d forgotten just how dumb it is to try and do business via this process. If an organization or government is buying a well defined product or a commodity item, it makes sense, but for something like a complex service, then it is a recipe for failure. Even in the case of well-defined item like a machine tool, I’ve seen RFP’s that appear to be written by enemies of the issuing company. The people creating the document use it to impress their boss, rather than make a sound purchase.

In the case of the one my buddy had with him, it was missing key information, like what it is the company actually does and why it is they are buying the service. Worse yet, it was written by a consultant. Even after having been away from this stuff for a long time, I can spot the greasy fingerprints of the consultant. Every industry has these creatures and they are always the same. I’m probably being unfair, as I’m sure there are some who are honest and conscientious, but most are just grifters, who prey on the stupid.

Anyway, we got to talking about why it is this stupid way of buying stuff persists, despite the fact that it often ends in tears. You don’t have to be in the business world very long to notice that good companies have strong relationships with both their customers and vendors. They cultivate their vendor relationships, just as they cultivate their customer relationships. They train their vendors to be conscientious and to think of themselves as partners in the enterprise. That way, the vendor becomes an asset to the business.

I think if I were going to write a business book on how to buy stuff, the first rule I’d have is never use an RFP. The second rule I’d have is make sure to visit the vendor’s facility and ask for the nickle tour before making a purchase. If they have a business culture that fits your business culture, or even better, one you strive to cultivate, then you will have a good working relationship with that vendor. If on the other hand, the vendor is running a sweatshop where the employees are miserable, that will show up in their service.

Another thing that I’ve seen often, and it always shows up in RFP’s for a service, is that the prospective customer starts off by lying to the prospective vendors. It’s the strangest thing, but I’ve seen it a lot. For example, salesmen are often trained to ask about a budget for the project. That way, they can gauge how serious the prospect is about actually doing the deal. Countless times, I’ve seen companies lie about their budget or simply refuse to disclose it. The result is they waste everyone’s time, including their own.

Similarly, salesmen are trained to find the motivators. If a company is buying a new five axis machine for their manufacturing facility, they are expecting to spend a lot of money for the machine and the training. They are not doing this on a whim. They have identified a serious problem or a serious opportunity. As a result, they are willing to invest a lot of money to address it. That’s important information that will help get the right machine and vendor, but the company will often hide that from the vendor, like it is a state secret.

Back to the book idea, the third and fourth rule for buying any big ticket item would be to quantify the return on investment and set a budget. Make that part of the purchasing narrative by disclosing it to the pool of vendors. Most likely, the guy you select will look at your reasoning and find additional opportunities for you to turn the purchase into an investment. Again, this is something I always see successful companies do for themselves and for their clients. It’s why they attract strong people and vendors.

The other thing that always turns up in RFP’s is the underlying assumption that the person who wrote the thing is a genius. The specifications will be hilariously narrow, which results in the request being for an exact copy of what they have now, but newer. My suspicion has been that there is a correlation between the level of specificity and the lack of understanding of the problem to be solved by the purchase. Smart companies buy products and services to solve problems. Stupid companies tick boxes on forms.

Again, this circles back to cultivating relationships with vendors. The RFP that spawned this post was obviously the result of some serious business problem the company needs to solve. The trouble is the RFP so thoroughly obscures it, no vendor will be able to identify the problem, so they will not be able to solve it. Instead, they will answer the RFP in a way they think gets them into the next round. In other words the purchasing process moves from problem solving to a long drawn out game of liar’s poker.

That would be another chapter in my book on buying stuff. This actually applies to every aspect of life, not just business. If you have a problem to solve, make that the starting point for proposals. Unless you have a monopoly or an exotic niche, you have competitors who are solving the same problems. One of them may have come up with a great solution and his vendor may be willing to sell that idea to you. Even better, the competitor of that vendor may have an even better solution. Smart people spend money to solve problems.

Thoughts On Sportsball

The Federal government won convictions on three of its cases against the sneaker pimps working behalf of the apparel company Adidas. The case is a strange one in that the FBI invested a lot of time into surveying and wiretapping some famous basketball coaches, as well as some senior company executives. Yet, they have narrowed their focus to some small fish and two executives. It’s one of those cases that probably reveals things about our age for what is not happening, than for what is actually happening in the courtroom.

For those unfamiliar with American college basketball, here’s some background.

Men’s college basketball is probably the most corrupt sport in America. It used to be that boxing was the dirtiest sport, but interest in it has collapsed to the point where it is probably no longer worth the trouble for the criminally inclined. Basketball, on the other hand, is a big money sport with lots of public interest. Like boxing, the talent tends to be unsophisticated and dull-witted, so they are easy to corrupt. There’s also a culture in the sport that tolerates hustlers and conmen. In fact, they are often celebrated.

Strangely, the corruption is not driven by the money coming in the front door, from ticket sales and player contracts. The corruption is driven by the money that comes through the back door, in the form of sneaker agents, apparel companies and the youth development leagues. The business model for sneaker companies is simple. They want black kids buying their sneakers. Since Americans worship black people and youth culture, whatever black kids like, gets bought by Americans and then the people of the provinces.

To that end, the sneaker companies are always looking to sign young basketball stars to represent their brand. They also want college programs, where many of the stars start to become famous, wearing their shoes. The result is the sneaker companies operate complex webs of street agents who bribe kids and their families to sign off-the-books contracts, so they can be guided to the college programs on the payroll of the sneaker company paying the street agent. It’s institutional bribery that has been normalized.

With that as background, it is a mystery as to why the Feds decided to go after these guys, when they have been turning a blind eye to it for decades. The corruption in college basketball is so well known that some of the notorious street agents, who bribe players on behalf of sneaker companies have become institutions. The agent for LeBron James has become very rich just because he got lucky and signed the biggest star in the sport when he was in high school. There are lots of guys hoping to win that lottery.

In other words, the Feds could have been arresting people for decades, but they didn’t and then all of a sudden they went after Adidas. Now, maybe that is just bureaucratic inertia, but what makes this strange is the limited scope thus far. The company executives involved were handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Given the nature of the sport, that means they probably had a budget of millions to use to bribe players and coaches. That money did not fall from the sky. It came from the company.

Everyone familiar with corporate accounting knows there is no account for bribery in the G&A expenses. Adidas is a publicly traded company, which means they have to follow strict accounting standards. That means there are people in their finance department who have been involved in fraud for a long time. It certainly means C-level managers were aware of the activities and approved it. The FBI could easily take down the whole company if they started to dig around in the books. They certainly have probable cause.

Then there is the strange fact that there have been no plea discussions. The people have not been offered a plea deal and no one has offered to talk. Again, the Adidas executives were not operating alone. They have bigger fish to trade for their freedom. The assistant coaches that have been charged can easily hand over their bosses, who are all famous people. The Feds love putting famous people in jail, because it gets them on TV, but in this case the Feds are strangely uninterested in leveraging what they have to get big fish.

Now, like most people reading this, I have limited interest in basketball. What’s intrigued me about this case is all of the dogs not barking. I can accept that the Feds just ignored the issue for years, because their political bosses put things like terrorism and the drug war as top priorities. Still, the Feds have time to hassle citizens for all sorts of stupid and petty things. It’s not like they are actually doing anything about drug crime and terrorism, other than putting on a show for the public. They could have been on this years ago.

Putting that aside, the real mystery is why they have not bothered to expand this case to the most obvious places. If we’re going to assume that the Feds are lazy so they go after low hanging fruit, then why are they not picking these big juicy plumbs that are right in front of them? Similarly, if sloth is the reason behind their lack of action for decades, why did they bother going to trial, when they could have offered these guys a deal? It’s one of those times where the answer to one question contradicts the answer to something else.

The reason this intrigues me is I think it reveals something about the entire system that most people just suspect. That is, the level of incompetence is much worse that even the harshest critics assert. We’ve seen glimpses of this in the FBI scandal. These people are supposed to be the elite, yet they bungled the simplest of tasks. That means down the line, the quality of personnel is even lower. The reason this sneaker case does not make a lot of sense is because the people running it just time-serving hacks.

Another angle to this is that this case reveals the cultural rot of the American empire. The appeal of professional sport is to see men compete in mock battles on a level playing field, abiding by transparent rules. The governing bodies are supposed to make sure the field remains level and the rules transparent. That’s sportsmanship. The state is supposed to step in clean up the business if the governing body is corrupt or simply needs help policing their sport. It’s why casinos have a strong relationship with law enforcement.

Yet, we have a sport that is flagrantly and openly corrupt and no one says anything about it or tries to do anything about it. As we see with this Adidas case, it would be very easy to pop dozens of coaches and even more sneaker company executives. A handful of high profile people going to prison is the sort of thing that reminds everyone else of the need to maintain high standards. As the Chinese say, sometimes you kill some chickens to scare the monkeys. Imprison a few sneaker executive to keep the rest of them motivated.

One final thought, as I have gone on too long about this. The political class is now moaning about the fact that the public has lost faith in institutions. They never think that maybe their unwillingness to enforce the people’s laws could be the reason. They never mention the flagrant disregard for the spirit of the law throughout the elite. Most Americans are sports fans and every day they are reminded that the Cloud People have no respect for the rules. Eventually, the message does sink in and the Dirt People follow suit.

Death In The Afternoon

I had to put the cat down on Saturday afternoon. It was a sad thing, of course, as it always is when you have to say goodbye to a pet. The cat was diagnosed as a diabetic a few weeks back, which is not unusual with dogs and cats these days. It is a treatable condition, that is easier to manage in animals than humans. Your animal is not going to cheat on its diet or forget to take its insulin. With a little discipline and the willingness to master a few medical skills, you can manage a diabetic pet with little trouble.

On Friday night, the cat took a turn for the worse, so I went into the vet not entirely sure what to expect. They took blood and sent me home with some instructions. I figured they were humoring me, so I spent the night making my peace with what I expected was coming. The next day I learned, after further examination, that the cat had a rare type of cancer that was the real cause of the diabetes. They found tumors on his pancreas, which is not treatable, so I made the decision to put the poor thing out of his suffering.

While waiting to see the vet on Saturday, a woman I know came into the office. She was there to say goodbye to her dog. Apparently they called her with the bad news and she came into to complete the process. That was my guess anyway. The girl at the desk seemed to know what to do, despite the fact the woman was sobbing uncontrollably. She sat down on the bench next to me. Out of instinct, I guess, I don’t know, I slid over and put my arm around her. She collapsed against me into a mess of tears and wailing.

I don’t know what it is, but the sound of a woman crying touches some unexamined part of my being. It’s crazy, I’m sure, but that sound reminds me why a man is willing to fight another man to the death or leave his lands to sack the city of some bastard who insulted his people. My grandfather always said that a man protects those who need protection and defends those who need defending. Maybe that’s all there is to it and the sound of a woman crying just triggers those lessons I heard a million times as a kid.

There was nothing I could do for her, obviously, other than to be a shoulder to cry on, as she waited to say goodbye to her dog. Sitting there, being kind to a neighbor, my burden felt a bit lighter. There are always others worse off than you. That’s something I always try to keep in the front of mind. My life is not a walk in the park, but it is not an endless stream of misery either. Most people, it seems, carry around a lot more baggage than me, or they are less able to carry the load than me. Either way, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Coming home, alone with my thoughts, I thought about how serendipity had intervened to make a tough situation a bit less difficult. My first pet, as an adult, was a cat. Growing up, we had dogs, so I had a bias against cats. The women I was dating at the time thought I needed a pet and she suggested a cat. I was skeptical about the whole thing, but a man does what he must at that age, so I got a cat. It turned out that cats are just like dogs, in that they are what you make of them. Me and the cat went on great adventures together.

At the end of his time, he got sick and I did the back and forth with the vet as you do with pets. It was new to me as an adult, so I got caught up in the process, thinking that there was a potentially good result. When it was time to put an end to it all, I struggled with the decision. I just couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. Then one night the cat staggered down the hall with his old toy in his mouth. He could barely walk, but to the very end he was going to be all the cat he was ever going to be. I was quite touching.

That night, I could not help but think that maybe I just learned a great truth. That cat was just a cat, but he was never cheated. Who knows what goes on in the head of a pet, but they are here to be our pets. It is literally what they are made for and they are that fully and completely. We lose sight of that as people. Our point in life is to use all of our time completely. There are no do overs or restarts. You just have the time you have and you better use all of it being all the you possible. Life is for living. Don’t cheat yourself.

Perhaps that’s why we keep pets. Long ago, domesticating dogs for work or allowing cats to live among us to keep down the rodent population made practical sense. Keeping animals solely as pets has no obvious purpose, other than to make the time we have more enjoyable. Maybe seeing these little critters come into the world and become their purpose fully and completely makes understanding our own purpose easier. It’s a lot easier to grasp the purpose of a dog or cat than the purpose of that crazy relative in the family.

I will say, that this time was a bit more difficult than other last trips to the vet. I’ve had a lot of animals over the years. Some were better than others. This was a good one. Just about every post I’ve written was done with him lying behind the keyboard. Every podcast was done with him lying next to the microphone. For over a dozen years he was a comforting fixture in my life. He was there at the door when I got home and at the door when I went off to work every day. As pets go, he was a good one and I will miss him.

Travelogue: Normieville

I’ve been traveling this week to the lands where the great white normie is most common, which means the Midwest and southwest. If you don’t travel much or your travel is limited to the coasts, it is easy to forget that America is a big country with a diverse culture. As I’m fond of saying, it is a mansion with many rooms. Even though we have a lot in common, there are a lot of differences between the regions. Put another way, we already had all the diversity we needed. There was no reason to import more of it.

Unlike the coasts, the Midwest and southwest is where you can still find lots of heritage America and lots of heritage Americans. In the upper Midwest, there is an early 1960’s vibe to things that you don’t get on the coast. I’m speaking culturally, not technologically or materially. They have all the same stuff everyone else has. The Southwest has the old Mex-American – Western culture, but layered over it is the Midwest culture that reflects the people who moved there by the millions the last few decades.

The result for me this week was like stepping back in time. That’s not to say these people are throwbacks. It’s just that the echoes of old America can still be heard when socializing and even doing business. They still trade business cards at conferences and enjoy wearing name tags. They will walk right up to you and start using your name, having read it off your name tag. There is a genuineness about the people of the Midwest you rarely see on the coasts these days. It’s all very wholesome and normal…

I did a little drinking with a guy from Minnesota, who spent a considerable amount of time telling me about the softball team he sponsors. His daughter used to play on the team, but he continued to sponsor the team after she moved on. He sounded like a character from the movie Fargo, so it added to the old world charm. I could not help but wonder why anyone thought thought this sort of community spirit needed to be replaced with the crude transactionalism of cosmopolitan globalism, but then I remembered who was behind it…

I was amused in the airport over the weekend by the people watching the Kavanaugh vote on the big television screens. The airport is a good reminder that very few people watch CNN and that most people ignore politics. The big screen had a few young single women watching the vote, one was in tears. A smaller screen had the Texas – Oklahoma football game on and it was surrounded by people cheering the game. It’s a nice reminder that to most people, these events are not all that important or emotional…

The funny thing that I learned is that the rank and file liberal male really does think Kavanaugh is a serial rapist. I ran into a group of guys from Northern California who described themselves as liberal Republicans. They really wanted me to know they were sick to their stomach about what was happening in Washington, especially with what Trump is doing to the Republicans party. They really seemed to be convinced that Kavanaugh spends his nights stalking and raping middle-aged white women

It’s an odd form of virtue signalling, because it has no audience. I asked one of them why he bothers being in a party that opposes everything he supports, when he could join the other party. California is a one party state now, for the most part. It’s an obvious question that they apparently did not consider, but they did not like me asking it. I suspect this type has been doing the concern troll act for so long it is as much a part of who they are as breathing and walking upright. They no longer realize it is a pose…

At dinner one night I was seated next to a young guy and he revealed that he had an interest in the human sciences. We talked a bit and he was floored to hear that I did not think environment has much to do with how you turn out. I was surprised at first, given that he is bright and has an interest in the subject, but then I remembered that he is of a generation that has been immersed in the blank slate theology. I did my best to red pill him on some things, but the presence of heresy vexed him greatly. I felt like Lucifer…

For a long time I resisted going to things like AmRen or Mencken because I imagined them to be academic conferences full of old racists. It was not the latter that worried me, but the former. I don’t like conferences. There’s something old fashioned and dated about how they are organized. I’ve been in the workplace for three decades now and the business conference has not changed much, in terms of organization. The same is true of the academic conference. It’s still 1950’s America with these things.

That said, there is no replacing in-person interaction. You inevitably learn things about people that makes it possible to see them in three dimensions. The internet and telephone don’t allow for that. One event I attended seemed to get that aspect and built the thing around the socializing, rather than building the social elements around the event. It was quite effective as it not only felt more modern, but allowed to people to customize the event to their tastes. The result was a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

What occurred to me though is the old style business or academic conference was built on the assumption that you had a social life outside of your professional life. Men had families. Women had kids. People gained their social happiness outside of their work life, so at a conference, it needed to be all business. Today, people work longer, travel more and have disorderly personal lives. Work events are often the times when they get to socialize and relax. Old world America would not recognize us now…

Phoenix Arizona is the least authentic place on earth, I think. In fact, most of the Southwest, including California, feels like the QVC of cultures. Everything is new and everything is clean, relative to the east coast. That said, there is something to say for everything being new and in good working g order. Streets without craters is something we don’t have here in Lagos. You can’t beat the weather, which is why so many Boomers moved there, but I like four seasons, so I will stay on the coast I think…

I talked to a guy about California. I mentioned that half the state does not speak English and he responded by claiming the economy depends on Mexican immigrants. I did not challenge him on it, as there would have been no point. I mention it as a reminder that lots of white people still believe the open borders mythology, because they still think the point of life is increasing the GDP. They will literally sacrifice themselves and their posterity to the the economy god. A lifetime of worship is hard to overcome…

I was drinking with some guys who were very nice and very Midwestern. I noticed that they went to great pains to correct me when I said “black” instead of “African-American”, which I found rather annoying. No black people use that ridiculous phrase, unless they are around whites. Eventually they stopped and after a few drinks one asked me why I used the term black. He asked in a hushed voice like he was asking me for drugs. I told him that black people prefer black so I use black. He was quite shocked to hear it.

I’ve run into this a lot and it is a good reminder that most white and especially liberal white people, have no clue about how black people live and think. Blacks have become objects of worship or objects of fear. Even in the South, this cultural distance is starting to creep in as they are whipped into conformity by the dominant culture. The people who talk the most about race relations, know the least about it and they have the least humanity toward black people. In the future, old racists will be the last friend of the black man…

Denmark Diary III

I left the hotel in the morning for a walk and maybe some coffee. On the way out I spotted the taxi driver from the previous episode and he spotted me. After some small talk, he agreed to take me to see the Grand Mosque of Copenhagen. The actual name of the place is the Hamad Bin Khalifa Civilisation Center, but I doubt anyone calls it that. My new Afghan friend was thrilled that I was interested in seeing the mosque. Muslims really do think they will conquer the world, so any little sign of advance is exciting to them.

The mosque is located in Outer Nørrebro, which is what Americans would call a suburb, but it is more densely populated. Europeans cities tend to put their undesirable populations in apartment blocks outside the city center. In America we have tended in the other direction, building urban reservations for blacks. My guess is Outer Nørrebro used to be a working class Danish area so the rulers dumped the Muslims there. That seems to be the popular thing for rulers everywhere. They dump their problems in the poor areas.

I’ve been through the Muslim areas of Detroit so Outer Nørrebro had a similar vibe, more white faces than I expected, but the same feel. You get the sense that there are many more eyes on you than there are people on the street. The mosque itself is not much to look at, to be fair. Maybe they should not have used the word “grand” this time. Perhaps in a generation, when they can build something like the Islamic Center of America, they can then use the word “grand” to describe it. Right now, the mosque is quite modest…

After what proved to be a boring adventure into a notorious Muslim stronghold, I took to the streets for a walk. I was hungry so I found a place selling pizza and burgers. I had to laugh. The menu looked like every pizza shop menu you see in America. The proprietor spoke only Danish and Arabic, so ordering was more of an adventure that my trip to the mosque, but in the end I had what looked like pizza. Actually, it looked like the stuff I recall as a kid getting at the summer fair. It had that weird orange oil slick on it.

Copenhagen is considered one of the most livable cities in the world and it does not take long to see why this is the case. For starters, it is extremely white. It’s also very middle class. It is the ideal that American Progressives imagine for their enclaves, even though they never put it that way. A city full of smart, middle-class white people, with just the smallest dash of diversity, is a great place to live. It’s certainly why Copenhagen is always high on the list of the happiest places on earth, along with other white cities.

Walking around the city, the peacefulness of the place is striking. In ghettos, of course, the noise and the throbbing tension of vibrancy makes it impossible to relax. But even in tourist areas of nice America cities like Boston and New York, there is an energy to the place. Copenhagen is like a dark version of San Diego. It’s strangely quiet for a city, other than those damned bicycle bells. The city is ruled by cyclists, which is fine, but the ringing of bicycle bells does start to grate on your nerves after a while…

I decided to make the walk over to Christiania Freetown, which is a bohemian village of sorts, founded by drug addicts and bums in the 1970’s. They squatted on government property that had been a military base. Over time it became a sort of Hamsterdam for the Danish drug culture. For reasons I cannot quite fathom, the Danes seem a bit scandalized by the place. I walked over the bridge and followed the line of people. It’s a beautiful walk and the surrounding area is very quaint. I recommend the walk along the canal.

Freetown is pretty much a dud. One of the things that has always been true about weed culture is its falseness. They have spent decades trying to conjure a culture around smoking weed. It’s all fake and stupid, ripped off from various bohemian cultures, by people all but yelling, “Look at me! I smoke weed as a lifestyle choice!” How barren is the soul when the point of life is getting high, eating salty snacks and watching cartoons all day? Freetown is a Potemkin village for Potemkin bohemians….

Walking around the city, I could not help but notice that the Danes apparently cannot regulate their body temperature. It was in the mid-60’s today with a gentle breeze. I was in jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt. The locals were in winter coats and scarves. I saw a girl wearing gloves. I suspect they simply like their ‘hygge’- mode more than they let on. The first signs of fall mean the party will be moving indoors. It’s the reverse of what we see in the early spring, when everyone is quick to tear off their clothes as soon as it hits 50…

I noticed a curious thing while hiking around the city. I wanted to buy some things to bring home and maybe a cap or sweatshirt as a reminder of the trip. Nowhere did I see the sorts of shops you tend to see in tourist areas. This is a difference between Europeans and Americans. We go on vacation so we can feed our faces and buy stuff to take back to our overstuffed houses. Europeans go on vacation to see things and enjoy themselves with friends in strange places. For them it is about the living, rather than the acquiring.

This is something I did not appreciate well into adulthood. Having fun stories to tell about your adventures is the best part of travel. It’s the best part of living. I lived an unusual young life so I took it for granted, perhaps, but it was only into my thirties when I figured out that life is for living, not ticking boxes. I guess that is why I find the minimalist style of Scandinavia, so appealing. There’s an uncluttered quality to life here that makes it easier, at least for me, to enjoy the experience. Bring on the Law of Jante

Having been somewhat disappointed by the lack of vibrancy in Copenhagen, I took a trip to the official mall, figuring I would get a look at the dark underbelly of Denmark. For some reason, shopping malls are the canary in the coal mine. As soon as diversity appears in a community, the nearest mall becomes a no-go zone. It’s not just an issue of imported diversity, as in the over the horizon type. If an apartment complex goes Section 8, within a year the local mall is thumping with ghetto tunes and young vibrants.

From the outside, the mall  looks a lot like every US mall. Inside, it looks like the closet of a goth girl exploded and they built a mall around it. It’s a series of clothing stores selling black pants, black shirts and black coats. The radical store sells gray. The sports shops sell the same official team crap you see in America. I looked everywhere but I was unable to find caps, shorts of jerseys for the local teams. It was all American sports teams and American sports apparel brands. That and hip-hop music. Every store, hip-hop music.

That’s the thing. Inside the mall is wigger culture from top to bottom. Every store is playing some sort of American black music. I walked the entire mall, all floors, and as I toured the place I was increasingly aware of my American identity. I kept thinking that the locals would figure out that I was American and then decide to string me up for my country’s rulers imposing the poz on them. This is one of those things that only an American can truly appreciate. The reddest red pill is seeing Danes listening to rap music at the mall…

Finally, the Danes seem to have developed an obsession for the cheeseburger. It seems like every restaurant has their version of the perfect burger. I take a back seat to no man in my appreciation of the cheeseburger. I had some fantastic examples in Copenhagen. I also enjoyed some great fries. They put a vinegar sauce on their fries and they serve them with mayonnaise. These people clearly live in the favor of Odin. Even putting aside the other wonderfulness of the city, the burgers and fries will bring me back soon…

Denmark Diary I

I’ve always thought you can tell a lot about a people by their airport. I’ve been in a lot of airports and while they all of them follow a similar design, form follows function, no two are the same. For example, the Reykjavik airport reflects the utilitarian sensibilities of the people, but it also has the funky charm of a people who spend a lot of time in the winter darkness. That’s what probably explains the weirdness of Iceland. They are way out their where the winter nights are long and the people have lots of time kill. The results follow.

Copenhagen airport is the most trusting place on earth, I think. I saw little in the way of security and the staff is extremely nice. For example, I did not have to go through customs despite coming through Iceland, which never checked my passport either. I did get checked at BWI before getting on the plane, but the basics of security say you first eliminate single points of failure. It appears the Danes trust their brothers in Iceland who in turn still trust the world is a sane place. There is something appealing about it…

My first day in Copenhagen was uneventful. I don’t speak Denmarkian, as our former president would say, but I sense the language is easier to acquire than Icelandic, which is close to impossible, unless you have some foundation in Old English or Norwegian. It does not matter as English seems as common as the native tongue. In fact, the buses have advertisements in English on the sides of them. Even commercial companies use English on their business signage. English is the lingua franca now.

At the airport, I bumped into an old acquaintance. Another reminder that it is not a small world, It is a claustrophobic one. A half dozen years ago we worked a job together. At the time, I was working with a client and I noticed something unusual about their exchange accounts. By unusual I mean they did not add up. It turned out that the CFO was running a scam on the owners using the foreign exchange accounts. It was the old game of stealing a penny from a million different places a thousand times a year on a regular basis.

It was enough money involved that they called in guy who did corporate security. He had worked for a government for a dozen years and figured out that companies would pay much better for the sort of things he enjoyed doing. With corporate fraud, the companies often prefer to settle things privately, rather than bring in the government. This guy’s service was to put together the information so the other party in the situation was willing to make a deal. That meant he spent his days spying on the servants of rich people.

We hit it off while working together, mostly due to our shared realism about the modern age. It’s been a year since we spoke, so it was good to see a familiar face and to have a drinking companion. There really is nothing better, in my opinion, than drinking beer and talking shop. It’s like a poetry slam for people with a purpose in this world. My advice to those thinking they can steal from their corporate masters is to stay off of social media and never discuss your dealings in public places. The walls have ears…

When you live in Lagos, you get used to the urban landscape. No matter how hard you try to keep your mind right, your mind becomes habituated to the day to day. For example, I’m jotting this down at midnight and it is stone silent here in Copenhagen. In Lagos, it is never quiet. On a Friday night the sound of sirens are the lullaby of the just. When I was in Newark over the summer, the people I was with struggled with the cacophony of the ghetto. They were all suburbanites, so they were not used to vibrancy of the ghetto.

That does not mean Copenhagen is not without its vibrancy. Most of their vibrant are North Africans, with some blacks. I had a great cheeseburger from a place called Bash that was run by Moroccans. The cook was Danish, so maybe it does not count, but the staff was all Moroccan. One of the bartenders we experienced was from Bangladesh. He was glib in both English and Danish and said he had married a Danish women, which is why he lived in Denmark. Everywhere, the door to vibrancy is opened by women…

Tomorrow I meet the secret handshake society. I have no idea what to expect. Frankly, I doubt I will meet any of them. It is a mysterious lot. Of course, this is a necessity of nationalists everywhere. The hotel where I am staying is hosting a Muslim wedding tomorrow, but people who think Denmark should be a country for Danes has to meet under a bridge in the middle of nowhere, lest they be accused of being un-Danish. I don’t speak the language, but I’m sure the rulers here have a phrase for “it’s not who we are.”

Conspiracy Theories

The TDS guys did a show with someone calling himself Ryan Dawson, who is something of a conspiracy theorist. That’s not entirely fair as he does not seem to be pushing a theory, as such, but more of a systematic skepticism of the prevailing narrative on issues like the Iraq War and 9/11. Questioning the official narrative is often lumped in with the conspiracy stuff, because all conspiracy theories start with the argument that the official truth is, in fact, a well orchestrated lie to cover up the real truth behind whatever.

Conspiracy theories, of course, are wildly popular, despite the fact most people swear they don’t believe in them. There’s a reason the people who make movies often use the conspiracy as a plot devise. Even the most skeptical people enjoy following the plot as the real power behind the scenes is revealed. Still, most people have been programmed to say they don’t believe in this stuff. You’re cast as a weirdo or a nutjob if you think the CIA killed JFK, for example. Yet, most people believe JFK was the victim of a conspiracy.

The funny thing about the conspiracy theory stuff is that the official narrative that spawns the conspiracy theory always relies on the same probabilistic flaws as the conspiracy that seeks to discredit it. For example, the official JFK story strikes most people as laughably implausible. Basically Oswald pulled off a one in a billion effort and then was killed by Jack Ruby, who also pulled of a one in a billion long shot. The theory the JFK was killed by Joe DiMaggio, who was a CIA sleeper agent, is really not that crazy in comparison.

Similarly, both halves of a conspiracy theory follow the same set of rhetorical rules, in that they don’t make the affirmative case. Instead, they rely on all other explanations being seen as less plausible. The people who think Mr. Coffee killed JFK and RFK don’t have a lot of evidence, but they can explain in detail why the official story is bogus. Of course, the people who think Oswald was the lone gunman don’t have a great argument either, so they rely on the fact that no one saw Joe DiMaggio in Dallas with Ted Cruz’s father.

The thing that makes conspiracy theories popular is not their amusing leaps of faith and logic, but that they satisfy our need to know. JFK was most likely not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, at least Oswald did not act alone. Whoever helped him either got very lucky, which is always a possibility, or they were very good at covering their connections with Oswald. Either way, we’ll never know, because the people who investigated it were never able to solve the riddle. Some crimes go unsolved and as humans, we truly hate that.

Something similar will probably happen in time with 9/11. The neocons expertly used the event as a propaganda tool to get their war plans passed. We know guys like Richard Perle were scheming about remaking Mesopotamia for a long time. That does not mean, however, that the neocons pulled the 9/11 job. It means that the official story is mostly bullshit to cover-up gross incompetence and to promote the forever war. In time, people will stop believing the official story and most people will think 9/11 was a conspiracy.

Of course, just because the official version of events is nonsense, it does not mean there is a conspiracy. In the case of 9/11, gross incompetence is the most likely issue being covered up by the government. We see how this works with the current FBI scandal, where the DOJ and FBI are feverishly trying to hide the fact that senior people in both agencies were ham-handedly running a domestic spying ring. The same clowns running the Trump spying operation were the ones who bungled 9/11 and the aftermath.

There are actual conspiracies, of course. Just type the word “Itanimulli” into your favorite search engine. Then read the word backward. On a more serious side, the FBI was running a spying operation on the Trump campaign. The IRS did conspire to keep conservative groups from participating in the 2012 election.The Gulf of Tonkin incident was faked. Gamblers did fix the 1919 World Series. Whoever plotted the 9/11 terrorist attacks obviously pulled off one of the great conspiracies in modern history.

Logic suggests that there is a correlation between the public’s willingness to indulge in conspiracy theories and the degree of trust in the society. People in a high trust society that thinks their government is generally honest should be less inclined toward conspiracy theories than people in a low trust, high corruption society. On the other hand, there is some evidence that the more confident you are in your understanding of politics, the more likely you are to believe in conspiracy theories. Dunning-Kruger strikes again.

The funny thing about America, versus other countries, is our conspiracy theories always sound like a Hollywood script, thus they tend to the ridiculous. Americans are strangely naive about the reality of government power, for example, but willing to indulge is crackpot beliefs about corporations plotting to spike the water supply. Yet, the story of civilization is the story of people conspiring together to seize power, overthrow the king and advance their political agenda through stealth. Government is nothing but a conspiracy.

Finally, even the smartest people can be let down by their own bias. Greg Cochran is pretty sure the Soviets weaponized small pox against the German Army in the war, but this has been covered up for decades. His evidence is not conclusive, but he makes a pretty good case. The events during the war suggest something very strange happened and his answer would explain the data. It also means there has been a multi-generational conspiracy, involving multiple countries, to conceal this truth from the public.

On the other hand, he thinks the official Holocaust narrative is a precise telling of history and that the skeptics are succumbing to insane conspiracy theories. This despite the fact there are a lot of problems with the official narrative. It’s pretty reasonable to think that maybe there has been some exaggerations. If it is is possible to conceal the use of germ warfare, exaggerating the details of German war crimes as a propaganda weapon should be easy to accept. Social pressure and belief are powerful motivators.

That’s the thing with conspiracy theories. There really is no definition of what separates the conspiracy from the skeptical analysis or even genuine speculation. Wondering why the 9/11 hijackers went undetected, despite multiple warnings to the FBI containing very specific information is often called a conspiracy theory. On the other hand, Progressives are still certain that Bush lied about chemical weapons so that Dick Cheney’s friends at Haliburton could make tens of billions rebuilding Iraq after the war.

People will believe anything and doubt everything.