Promises Mean Everything

My internet commenting time has been going towards Dalrock’s blog – that comment thread is over 800 now – but the new post and initial responses reminded me of a song I heard on the radio a while back. (I was doing a sort of blog series about those, wasn’t I? I didn’t tag them well, that’s for sure. Oughta fix that.)

Promises mean everything when you’re little, and the world is so big… please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now!

I’m not a child of divorced parents, and even so this song still gives me a case of The Feels.

As far as the behavior of the world goes – well, secular marriage is nothing more than an affirmation of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, so I have no beef against a childless pagan couple who wants to have their LJBF divorce. It’s far healthier than an I-Hate-You-Forever divorce.

But when children are involved? I don’t care if you vowed to stay together “as long as love shall last.” You get your s#!t together and keep that household running smoothly, or you’re both a pair of selfish bitches.

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Security Theater

You didn’t think the TSA was actually doing anything productive, did you? I can assure everyone, though, that those bodyscanners are absolutely on top of sparkly metallic thread such as that found in fancy women’s shirts. No silver thread will go unpatted by the brave agents of the TSA!

Those X-ray machines were totally graft, btw. I don’t have the source off the top of my head, but I recall reading that the head of the company that makes them is all buddy-buddy with the pertinent people in high places. Or perhaps we should use the old term – “patronage.” We really ought to go back to the spoils system, rather than having career “civil servants” – just think if everyone in government bureaucracy got fired every eight years! The politicians would be tied up forever appointing their friends as replacements, who would (hopefully) have no idea how anything worked due to wipeout of institutional memory, and the gears of endless bureaucracy would grind to a halt. It would be glorious!

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Flailing through the weeds

One of Dalrock’s posts has spawned a multi-day doctrinal debate between various people on the topic of Biblical marriage; it’s been quite the chewy read, and while long,* I do recommend it. I dipped my toes in a little bit, mostly to support commenter Lyn87 (if you want a synopsis of this person’s argument, there’s some helpful links in this comment). One of the good things about this discussion is that the people debating are doing so in a respectful, intelligent manner – for the most part. There’s a few insults here and there but not the kind of scorched-earth trolling that happens at more brutal communities! (Hang out at Vox Day’s blog long enough and you will find yourself becoming inured to witless insult-mongering and acquiring a taste for high-class insults, that’s for sure! Or maybe I just started out with thicker skin and learned to appreciate those who can simultaneously use outrageous language and make a cogent argument at the same time.)

*And by long, I mean over 600 comments.

Artisanal Toad’s explanations of why he thinks polygamy is A-OK remind me of the time I ran into a couple at the local mall who were doing “Christian” outreach for some kind of crazy offshoot cult that involved interpreting passages about the new Jerusalem as there being some kind of mother goddess equal to God. They were referencing passages, yes, but their interpretation thereof was so far-out whacky that I really had a hard time talking to them even for a few minutes. It was as if they had neatly constructed an alternate, nonsensical universe and locked themselves in. It was very strange.

Perhaps reading John C. Wright is causing Catholicism to rub off on me, but one thing I would appreciate in debates over Biblical interpretation is knowledge of how Christians have interpreted passages and applied them historically. (I’m predisposed to that, I think – my Protestant denomination likes its church history, going all the way back.) While ancient opinion isn’t authoritative, I think it’s helpful to see how Christians in very different cultural circumstances have approached things like marriage and polygamy.

Interestingly enough, in missions fields where polygamy is commonly practiced, having multiple wives is not a problem for converts – the missionaries simply instruct them not to take any more wives than they have when they join the church. The polygamous marriages are recognized and tolerated, but not encouraged to multiply.

From a “secular” standpoint, of course, polygamy (like welfare-supported babymommas, on the other extreme) is incompatible with Western social and civil norms, so as a Westerner myself I’d have to be against it for that reason, if no other.

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Migration

Much has been made of the arrival of many young illegal immigrants to the southern border of the US – with considerably less mention, of course, that these so-called “children” are not mostly what Americans think of as children, since in their home cultures people mature to adulthood without being held back by American coddling. This influx of illegal migrants has overwhelmed the available infrastructure to handle such persons, causing many people of delicate emotion to feel Terrible about it, I’m sure. (I’m more horrified at the mindset of families that would send actual prepubescent children and young women across an entire corrupt, immigrant-unfriendly country like Mexico alone. The only circumstance in which such an action would be moral, in my estimation, is if the children were fleeing genocide – trading certain death for almost-certain abuse and potential death for the chance to get to someplace soft like America.)

The thing that struck me, after reading this comment at John C. Wright’s blog, was that migrations of any sort tend to have terrible consequences if the magnitude is too high for the receiving area to assimilate. I recall at the end of last school year reviewing American history with a seventh grader – and having to point out that no matter how terrible conditions in industrializing cities were, people left their farmlands because they thought farming was worse! No one migrates from a bad situation to a worse situation on purpose! Of course, people’s information can be incomplete or based upon lies, so that from our vantage point in the present, we generally think of the exodus from farming to industrialized cities as trading down instead of trading up, what with the way insufficient sanitation and housing made city living incredibly risky for a while.

But it seems to me that whether you’re talking domestic migrations, as happened during industrialization, or international migrationsmass movement of people always produces poor conditions! 

We see and experience this principle in our normal daily lives on a regular basis, in fact. What else is rush hour than the deleterious effect of having too many people driving to or from work at the same time, overloading the transportation infrastructure’s capacity to handle the volume? Ever tried to make a quick grocery run right after work – or even worse, on the day before a holiday? Driven through a beach community on a summer Saturday?

The only conditions I can think of where mass movement of people doesn’t produce poor conditions is the very rare case when a tribal group controls a fairly large range, and simply migrates around it, carrying all their infrastructure with them.* Obviously this lifestyle is incompatible with fixed capital – no agriculture, and no complex cities either. Even the simplest of buildings needs regular maintenance just from the damage of elements and fauna!

So, what can be done about it? Well, despite various locales having regulations about infrastructure improvement, in the counties surrounding Washington, D.C., it always seems like the infrastructure badly lags behind the influx of people. (And these are wealthy people, too, by historical standards!) But building first runs the risk of investing badly – as China’s ghost cities show. So much for domestic movement – in today’s environment, people can bear the temporary inconvenience far better than in historical times when they didn’t have sanitation. (Permanent inconvenience, such as when a formerly sleepy area becomes a boom town, thus resulting in increased home value, which leads to increased property taxes, which leads to original residents being priced out of the area, is a stickier problem.)

But what about international migrations? Well, I’m afraid that the solution there is stringent border control. It’s plain enough just from watching the consequences of domestic immigration within the various States that people moving into culturally different areas causes friction and potential dislocation of previous populations (Californication) – people moving from even more divergent cultures – particularly en masse – logically must result in even more friction. I’m afraid the Ellis Island mythology is just that – a mythology; and one with pernicious effects today, no matter what one might think of its historical effects.

*Once again, long-term consequences might rear ugly heads. I’m not well-read enough on desertification in tribal herdlands, though my understanding from this fascinating TED talk is that traditional grazing patterns aren’t optimal, but they can be altered to work in far better conjunction with grassland ecosystems.

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ROFLMAO – Snape says, It Gets Better


Enjoy it for the hilarity – sometimes the “it gets better” part happens after you die! Just like Vincent Van Gogh! (That episode of Dr. Who seriously made me cry.)

However, as an Odd myself – an INTJ female, which makes me a freak of nature – I’m simply glad that the “never fitting in” part doesn’t hold a huge emotional sword of Damocles over me. If you find yourself wanting to engage in drama queen antics over the fact that you’re different and don’t fit in, your problem is not that you’re a freak (like me and a bunch of other people, for that matter) but that you’re a LOSER. Growing up means learning to cope with society. If the society you find yourself in is truly terrible, like you’re gay in Saudi Arabia and live every day under the threat of execution if you’re found out, then yeah, I have sympathy for your plight. If you’re living in any part of the First World, though, shut your damn mouth, cease your woe-is-me whining, and move to a different neighborhood. Seriously. You live in horrible-no-good-redneck-intolerantsville and it’s getting you down? Get out already. Grow a thick skin. Nobody is required to like you, except possibly your mother.

Or seek help. Real help, not the kind of self-actualizing pseudo-therapy “you’re perfect just the way you are” kind of “help” that will just lock you into whatever spiral of maladjustment or mental illness you already suffer – the kind of help that will explain to you how normal people think, how normal people live, and how normal, well-adjusted adults cope with the fact that not everyone likes them and life is full of setbacks and frustrations. You have no friends? You know what your problem is, then? Not other people. YOU. Humans are social critters. If you find yourself on the outside of every single group you try to join in your search to fit in and find friendship and validation, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Fix yourself, rather than saying “boo hoo people are mean!” Otherwise you will end up like this. And that would be bad.

This is what gets me about the delicate special snowflakes – they’re consistently demanding that society change itself to make them feel better about themselves. Look, it’s not society’s job to actualize your emotional well-being: that’s your job. It’s never been better to be an Odd than in the modern First World with the internet to connect people, so complaining that you feel isolated for being different is just plain dumb. Of course, on the other hand, there’s the actual mentally ill special snowflakes. I wish this went without saying, but unfortunately it needs to be said: attempting to alter reality to fit the delusions of those who are by definition divorced from responding to reality appropriately is BATSHIT INSANE! Do not ENABLE the crazy! That’s evil!

I like this video, not just for the hilarious faces, but for the acknowledgement that sometimes life just sucks. I mean, here’s a fictitious example, but let’s be honest: you could do a lot worse than choosing to be a Severus Snape, who had an extremely bad childhood, fell in with the wrong crowd, but never turned into a whiny attention-whoring brat. Instead of attempting to blame his mistakes on other people, he did his best (even if it wasn’t very good, and Dumbledore was an idiot to make him a teacher!) to make up for his failings.


 

There is, of course, an answer, and a way for it to get better right now: there is a place where you belong, no matter how broken you feel or how imperfect you are.

And that place is in Christ, with your Creator. For God so loved the world, including all the broken parts of it like me, that He sent His Son to provide a way back Home for us. You don’t have to do anything to deserve it, and you don’t have to make yourself perfect – He’ll do that. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. But in order to do this, you will have to admit that you’re not perfect the way you are, and that loving Him in return for the love He shows you is going to require a lot of difficult leveling up of your character stats.

This is His promise: though in this world you’ll suffer, at the end, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

You will find the place where you belong, you’ll have a real family there, even if you don’t have one now, and every part of you that is less than perfect will be made perfect; it WILL get better. Why wait alone when you don’t have to?

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The Good Life – Cooking

Having recently gone on one beach trip (Minnesota lakes totally count! There was so a beach!) and looking forward to another very soon with the other side of the family, I got to thinking about how I feel about cooking and cleaning when on vacation and when at home. It’s true that after a week’s stay in a beach house, somebody else comes in and does the typical maid-service cleaning to take care of entropy buildup – I’m not very good at scheduling that sort of chore around all the more interesting things I’d rather be doing! But another part of vacationing like that is meal planning, cooking, and cleanup – somehow doing that part of keeping body and soul together is not nearly so onerous when done at the beach than at home.

For instance, at home I’m likely to consider planning meals and cooking to be a nigh-insurmountable task filled with impossible decisions and a great deal of uncertainty. (Yes, there’s definitely something wrong with me. I think I know what caused it, but blaming family for something that was the best option we had at the time isn’t classy.) I can cook, and I do cook, but very rarely do I find myself enjoying cooking, which is a problem. My emotional state is not properly aligned with reality on the matter of food preparation. Having a surplus of food to eat, as nearly everyone in America does, is something to count as a blessing! My great-grandmothers would be ashamed of me, I’m quite sure.

However, this changes quite a bit on these family vacations, and I’m not entirely sure why or how to capture the effect for daily life. The upcoming beach trip is an in-law tradition in which we plan meals ahead of time and trade dinner- and lunch-making responsibilities between parts of the clan; cleanup tends to be a bit communal, but there’s not much collaboration between elements on the planning stage. During the previous trip, we were only out with one other couple, instead of two more and two adult singles, so we actually did do meals as more of a communally-planned-and-executed endeavor on the fly, rather than planning well in advance in isolation. (The in-law trip would no doubt turn into dinner by committee if we tried it this way, and even in a gigantic NC beach house there’s a limit to how many people you can stuff into one kitchen!)

So I’m riding fairly high on the emotional association of a wonderful vacation with plan-and-execute-dinner, which is helpful since I need to be invested in making good food choices instead of eating whatever is most convenient! I’m tackling the odds and ends that have built up in the freezer, first, which is probably going to last us very well through the first part of September. But after that, I’m seriously going to need to plan things properly! Unfortunately I don’t have family culture/training to fall back on, so I’m going to have to work something up from scratch without a particular tradition to guide me. Google, ho – ugh, choice paralysis. I’m looking for something to guide me, not give me more endless options!

But I think the key will be remembering that meal planning isn’t some drudge chore that you do because you have to (like cleaning toilets!) but something that is a wonderful part of life. It’s a bit harder to remember when it’s just me and J eating together for one meal a day – due to our personalities and schedules, right now we get most of our talking done at other times, so dinner isn’t a big “together” deal the way it is when more people are involved!

And I especially want to get better at this before any hypothetical kids come along. I’m sure logistics get 1000% harder with little ones in tow!

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Democracy + MSM: This is why you can’t have nice things, America

I extract a popular comment on an Insty link about Governor Perry being indicted because he was a meanie face to a drunken criminal Democrat, and held her accountable for really drunk driving:

Watching the local news and a bit of ABC this weekend, all I gleaned from their coverage was “GOV. PERRY (R) INDICTED” which is what I suspect vast swaths of the voting public will only see and recall. Hence, mission accomplished. -F Black

Ah, yes. The Low Information Voter. There have been books written about the phenomenon – that it’s actually quite rational for most people to be completely ignorant about politics. In fact, an ideal civil arrangement would leave the vast majority of people with no reason to bother about the government, except in time of war and tax day.

But you can’t combine that ideal state of affairs with near-universal franchise; those totally ignoring government to live their lives do no harm and no good (politically speaking), but those participants who only know a little bit about the political issues of the day can be all too easily tricked by conmenpoliticians. Especially when the aforementioned low-information voters get their news sources from people who are partisans first, second, and third and reporters last. And the existence of Fox News doesn’t help either – that’s just the same kind of spin, just in a different direction – although at least Fox News is well known for being conservative and doesn’t (AFAIK) masquerade as anything other than what it is. (I don’t consume any mainstream media at all: I find the level of discourse to be either infuriating or retarded, and usually both at once.)

Sarah Hoyt is optimistic that our changing technologies, which lend themselves to individual power rather than centralized power, will improve matters. To some extent, it already has: people can use the internet to get news and perspectives that are excluded by the big names in media. However, the low-information voter, by definition, doesn’t do this; she simply votes for whatever option looks shiniest at the time. The cynical side of me sees the application of voter bribing schemes combined with popular media that’s filled with ideological zealots divorced from reality as incompatible with a truly just government.

Government derives its just authority from the consent of the governed. It’s the duty of the individual to pay at least a little bit of attention to the political process – but that “little bit of attention” becomes a drastic negative as soon as the primary sources of information about the political process become subverted by partisans exercising their will to power rather than objective journalism. There is nothing so dangerous as thinking you know something – and being wrong about it. A political culture that operates based on secretive collusion (Journolist), “volunteer” persecution of political enemies in bureaucracy (IRS), as well as outright lies (Obama!) and has media superiority enforced by ideological purity tests?

Mhmm. I’m pretty sure I saw some fainting flower on the internet somewhere claiming that if your partner is cheating on you, and has sex with you while keeping his cheating secret, then you’re incapable of informed consent and thus it’s RAPE. Well, I don’t agree with calling it rape, but it’s certainly an evil act of fraud. Which is exactly what politicians, activists, and lobbyists do every day to the American people – with the willing collusion of the media giants.

Representative government only works so long as the culture of politicians and media watchdogs prizes honesty. We’re currently being ruled (yes, ruled, not represented) by a bunch of two-faced liars who promised us “the most transparent administration” evah.

The lying and cooking the books and manipulation works for a while, or at least seems to on the surface. But in all of history to date, exercising power over communication to promulgate lies rather than the truth about politics and government policy has a rather bad track record. Reality can’t be bullshitted forever, and when the facade fails and the promised utopia isn’t in evidence? See for example: housing bubble crash. And actual revolutions tend to be bloody, upsetting affairs. Not something to be desired.

Here’s an idea: if you’re seeking power while you conceal your true intentions or lie about the results of whatever you’ve been doing, (one) you’re a bad person and (two) YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING IT.

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