Thursday, 4 February 2016

"Survival cancels out programming"

(With apologies to LtCol. Tom Kratman for blatantly ripping off a, um, Kratmanism.)

A little over ten years ago, a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Army who had recently turned his hand to writing science fiction released a book "written in collaboration with" one John Ringo. (Actually, he wrote virtually every word of that novel.) That book was called Watch on the Rhine, and it featured some very memorable characters, and even more memorable quotes.

One of those characters was a typical extremely irritating tofu-eating type of French leftist hippie, the kind that have been ever so fashionable in Europe for the last twenty years. The kind that believes that wars are always a result of American aggression and could be easily resolved if only the people of the world would sit down and talk out their problems. The kind that believes that the European social democratic way of life is Right and Just and that the American way of existence, with its far greater emphasis on individual responsibility and authority, is somehow "carnivourous" and "predatory". The kind that thinks that alien invaders are no big deal at all.

Until, of course, an entire goddamn horde of aliens lands up on her doorstep. And goes about very literally devouring her nation's culture, traditions, and way of life.

And one of those memorable quotes surfaced right at the end of the book: "Survival cancels out programming".

LTC Kratman, whose weekly column over at EveryJoe is one that I never miss reading, has evidently turned that into one of his personal catchphrases. And with good reason, because what we are seeing in the Western world today is a very real testament to the truth of that saying.

If one were so inclined, one could make an entire metaphor out of Watch on the Rhine and argue that it served as a rather fantastical, but otherwise potent, illustration of what happens when an aggressive, virile, expansionist culture and race runs headfirst into a weak, flaccid, and crumbling one. The Posleen invaders in that novel (and in the rest of the Posleen War series) are a race bred in every way for war. They breed like rabbits; they keep anything they claim, and they claim anything that they kill; their numbers are legion and they consume all in their path.

Something rather similar to the Posleen has landed up on Europe's shores over the past few years, thanks to a war and a crisis that the West itself played a rather large part in provoking. The major difference between the real invasion and the fictitious one is, of course, the fact that this time, the invaders are outnumbered by the hosts. (Well, that, and Syrian migrants have not yet decided to start literally eating their French and German and Scandinavian hosts. Yet.)

But the end result remains the same: the host culture faces ultimate destruction.

That culture has many admirable qualities. For all that Americans like to sneer at their effete, soft, and woolly-headed European cousins- and, having lived in Britain and dealt with many Europeans in my time, I'm rather inclined to agree with the Yankees- the fact remains that European civilisation had, until fairly recently, reached considerable heights of luxury, comfort, and sophistication. The Europeans like to point out that their way of life is significantly more pleasant than the American alternative, and they are willing to pay far higher taxes in order to enjoy cradle-to-grave benefits that most Americans can only dream of.

That rather idyllic state of affairs worked for a very long time- because Europeans voted it in for themselves, and were willing to inflict upon themselves the massive confiscatory taxes needed to maintain the illusion that socialism actually works. And for the past fifty years, the Europeans have convinced themselves- programmed themselves, really- to believe that their way of life is robust and will endure no matter what happens.

That all changed when the invasions from the Levant reached breaking point.

In Sweden, the country that was once every American liberal's idea of a socialist Utopia where everyone is more or less equal and a massive welfare state was combined with a rather impressively dynamic open economy, there are entire parts of the country that are now no-go areas for white Swedes who were naive and stupid enough to think that, just because they are Swedes, it is their country and does not belong to the hordes of barbarians from Muslim lands that they willingly brought in.

In Germany, hundreds of women were physically attacked and sexually assaulted in Cologne and other towns across the Fatherland on New Year's Eve- and those attacks continue today as Germany's leadership permits ever greater numbers of Islamic invaders, from cultures entirely alien to Germany's own, to take up residence there.

In France, the Islamic proportion of the population has reached roughly 10%, and that share is growing. There are now entire sectors of Paris that are no-go areas for police when the muezzin is called; in a country that takes such immense pride in being a bastion of rabidly secular thought and action, streets are shut down and taken over by Muslims who pray to their "god" in broad daylight, and God help any Frenchman (or, worse, woman) who has the temerity to walk through those areas thinking that they are still in France.

In Britain, the mere prospect of the publication of tasteless but otherwise perfectly fair cartoons of the "prophet" Mohammed in a French magazine, that was later physically attacked by Islamists, can spark massive and very nearly violent protest marches full of angry shouting Muslims past Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, and on through the heart of the city itself. There are entire areas of London where you would swear you weren't in Britain anymore, but in Dhaka or Lahore or even Kabul. Over a thousand children were sexually abused and assaulted in a town called Rotherham, that nobody had really ever heard of before that story broke, and the police did nothing because they were terrified of being called racists.

Bit by bit, the programming is being challenged by events for which its code was never designed. Europe is being forced to confront the harsh and terrible reality that us evil unfeeling ever-so-awful right-wingers have known for centuries.

We know, as they do not, that diversity and proximity combine to create war.

We know, as they do not, that the Islamic totalitarian philosophy toward life is not in the slightest bit compatible with the unique combination of Judaeo-Christian morality, Greco-Roman philosophy, and post-Enlightenment science, that have made Western culture the greatest the world has ever seen.

We know, as they do not, that when- not if, but when- war comes, the side that wins is the side that is most willing to commit the most terrible atrocities for its way of life.

The only question is, what happens when the populations of Europe realise that their programming does not match up at all with the facts of reality?

There are two major possibilities, to my mind.

The first is that the Europeans simply fold up and die. And there is good reason to think this way. The European nations have been dying for decades. The fact of the matter is that strong, virile, confident cultures expand, and that weak, impotent, and self-loathing cultures contract. And Europe, along with the rest of the West, has been contracting and destroying itself for decades. It's just that we are only now seeing the full measure of that destruction and the chaos that it is causing.

Europeans have not been replacing their numbers; their birth rates inch lower every year. Their population is rapidly becoming middle-aged; soon, it will be genuinely old. The population that the invaders from the Middle East and Africa bring with them, on the other hand, is youthful, virile, and very much interested in survival.

But, to argue that Europe will simply fold over and accept its fate is to ignore how cultures and peoples react in reality. It is, indeed, as LTC Kratman wrote and keeps saying: "survival cancels out programming".

When the European people finally lose patience with their ruling classes- as they are already beginning to do- and refuse to stay silent any longer, that is when all Hell is going to break loose.

And that brings us to the second possibility: all-out genocidal war, waged through the heart of every European nation.

Almost every culture in history, when facing its own extinction, has fought back in some way. The Europeans are no stranger to this reality; the history of Europe is written red with the blood of countless tribes and kingdoms and nations that rose, conquered, diminished, and were conquered in their turn. Every time such a conquest has occurred, the bloodshed has been epic and terrible. This is not a continent designed for peace; the very fact that Europe has managed to go an entire seventy years without a severe international war on the continent is an astonishing achievement in light of that history.

And so, I fear, it shall be when survival truly does run headfirst into programming.

When that day comes- and I fear it is coming soon- watch out. Historians will look back upon these days of madness and shake their heads at the sheer stupidity and folly of the Europeans, who were prideful enough to believe that they had somehow outgrown human nature and the accumulated weight of history.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

How to be ready for anything

One of the many, many good things about real martial artists who study real martial arts is that their wisdom and experience translates to pretty much every possible aspect of life. Take this, for example. Joe Rogan's advice on street fighting needs to be heard often and understood thoroughly, as there is a very great deal of wisdom to be gleaned here:

He is right, on a number of very important points.

First, the sad fact is that most people are utterly unprepared for any kind of physical fight. The vast majority of Westerners have never had to face a serious threat in the form of someone- or several someones- getting in their faces, screaming at them, threatening them, presenting them with a real and terrible danger to their possessions and their lives. Most people simply will not know what to do when things go very badly wrong.

This leads to his second point, which focuses heavily on the need to study and understand truly effective forms of self-defence. And in order to to that, you have to leave your ego out of it. As is discussed in that video, most people never face physical danger or pain, and so are totally unprepared for it when it happens. A few of those people recognise the problem, and attempt to better themselves by seeking out self-defence instruction.

The trouble with most self-defence classes, though, is that... well, they're mostly BS.

Don't get me wrong, taking a basic course in unarmed self-defence still leaves you better off than about 95% of the population in most Western nations. Learning how to poke someone in the eyes and kick him in the nuts over the course of a 4-hour intensive training session, or a 5-day pack of courses, is not wasted time.

However, against trained killers- which are the types of people who are actually going to be trying to hurt you- so-called "street defence" courses will prove less than useful.

To get really good at self-defence means, quite simply, learning how to hurt other people. That is literally what self-defence comes down to. It is a euphemism for inflicting pain and suffering upon someone who intended to do the same to you first. And getting to be good at it takes years of practice and dedicated training.

And in order to do this, you have to leave your ego behind- in all aspects of your life.

The great thing about a real martial art, like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is that it forces you to leave your ego behind. It's very easy to let your ego get built up during the day, especially if you're the kind of person that constantly seeks to improve yourself. If you are driven to be better at something than you were yesterday, sooner or later you are going to find that, in certain things anyway, you will reach the top of your field very quickly.

Most people find this in their professional lives. You walk into work and you're doing the same thing every damn day. You get to be very, very good at it after a while- especially if you're lucky enough to find yourself doing something that you enjoy. You will discover that things which take others weeks or months to master, are trivial for you. You will come to feel constricted and cloistered unless you find new challenges and new things to learn.

That feeling of being in control, of knowing your stuff cold, of being the best, is wonderful, no question. But if you are not careful, it will destroy you.

All too many of you will find yourselves getting comfortable sitting in a rut, unwilling and unable to change for fear of losing that feeling. You don't want to know what it's like to be hungry for success, to face your own failures and weaknesses, and to conquer them all once again.

That is where a real martial art comes in. In jiu-jitsu or muay thai or sambo, there is ALWAYS someone better. And sooner or later, you are going to get your ass kicked by someone with greater skill, more experience, superior footwork, more refined technique, or a combination of all of those things.

Such a thing is a very humbling experience. But it teaches you one of the most important lessons in life: you must always have a beginner's mind.

And if you do that, no matter what life throws at you, there is at least something that you can do to be ready for it.

If you approach every endeavour with a novice's hunger for knowledge and a willingness to accept your own lack of skill as a deficiency to be overcome, you will never lose that hunger and that drive to keep winning. It will stay with you forever, and will propel you to ever greater heights of achievement and success.

But, because you think like a beginner, you will never take that success for granted. You will always find yourself asking, "what could I have done better?". Or, "I'm simply not good enough to have figured it all out- what did I miss?" Your mistakes will be corrected next time, and your end result will always be improved, because you maintain an outward focus due to your inward mindset.

And if all of that sounds a little too highfalutin for you, try this instead: step onto the mat of any good martial arts school in a beginner's class, and see what happens when you try to roll or spar with an experienced and skilled higher belt. The ass-beating that you will receive, will stand you in very good stead.

"Ten-minute lemonade"

Who the hell would want to drink-

Oh. She's actually saying "terminate, eliminate". That's what you get for being Brazilian, I guess.

As for who she is... I have no idea. It looks sort of like Alyssa White-Gluz from ARCH ENEMY paired up with some fat bald dude and decided to make something that sounds a little like a BRAINSTORM knock-off album.

Still, it's not a half-bad song- nice groove, good melody. If only the lyrics weren't so silly...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Black-knighting, level: Sh*tlord

When you really really need to troll someone good and hard, you will not be able to find a finer source of inspiration (or hairstyling tips) than Emperor Butt-Pirate himself:
When I announced I was going to be writing on plus-size Barbie dolls, you no doubt expected me to be wholly in condemnation of the concept. After all, isn’t this just another capitulation to the miserable, loveless “fat activism” set? 
You no doubt expected that I’d stand with parents outraged that adult political hang-ups are being forced on their kids. Or focus groups of young girls who unwrapped “Curvy Barbie” only to laugh hysterically and talk about how fat she was. Surely, you’ll have been thinking to yourselves, Milo Yiannopoulos of all people would agree that Curvy Barbie is a blight on our toy shelves — an ugly stubbly beast that will grow up living in Skipper’s spare room running an Etsy store. 
But you’d be wrong! Mattel may have foisted Curvy Barbie on us at the behest of feminists, but good things can sometimes happen for bad reasons. Firstly, let’s get the obvious out of the way: I’m gay. The more young girls are encouraged to become fat and unattractive, the better life gets for me. Every step fat-feminism takes towards victory means another wistful glance in my direction from otherwise-straight men. [Didact: God help us all...]
I also note that there has been no change to Barbie’s male equivalent, Ken. It seems he’ll remain a bronzed God, a veritable Michelangelo’s David of the toy aisle. That’s also good for me, because it means well meaning parents will continue to encourage their sons to get to the weight room early. By the time they turn 21, they’ll be just right for me I mean they’ll be well-adjusted, healthy adults who won’t place a burden on western healthcare systems. 
The combination of perfect bod Ken with Cellulite Thighs Barbie will also make women complacent. It’ll trick them into thinking that they can let themselves go and still get the perfect guy. Sorry ladies, but I don’t see Brad Pitt marrying Lena Dunham any day soon. [Didact: If that day ever comes, I would say that Angelina deserves full custody of all 47 of their kids. Any man who marries that human-shaped sack of feminist rice pudding, is clearly insane.]
That’s not to say that there won’t be any positive unintended consequences for women as they become more mindful of certain daily occurrences. Single flights of stairs, for instance. Passing people in the elevator. Getting into normal-sized cars without a pry bar. Squeezing into a supermarket to buy cat food and ice cream.
No wonder Milo can't stop winning. He sees everything through literally rainbow-coloured goggles. As a straight man who disapproves thoroughly of a homosexual lifestyle, I nonetheless have to admit that he wields that rhetorical gutting-knife of his with tremendous skill. It really is a pleasure to see a true artist in action.

There are two ways to greet the news that Mattel will make their girly dolls more "realistic". The first is to do what many old-school conservative types would do, and react with annoyance and curmudgeonly ill grace at the rapidly accelerating decline of a once-great and proud culture into insipidity, self-loathing, and spinelessness.

The other, of course, is to do what Milo has done- and gleefully give these idiots the very helpful shove over the cliff edge and into the abyss that they are begging for.

Personally, I think Nero is on the right track. Damning Mattel with enthusiastic praise for a very stupid decision is the fastest way to ensure that this sort of silly virtue-signalling dies a much-needed death. I suspect that this new "plus-sized Barbie" nonsense is not going to last all that long- at least, not among Mattel's key customers.

Yes, you could argue that heftier shrink-wrapped heifers make sense, given the severe fattening of America's population. That trend has certainly not been helped by the rapid influx of millions upon millions of Hispanics across America's porous southern borders; the virtues of Central American cuisine aside, the reality is that Hispanics tend to be heavier and fatter than Caucasians, and there is no getting away from this. As America becomes more "multicultural" (read: divided by both choice and design), companies like Mattel that sell toys to children are going to have to adapt with the times.

Yet, the fact remains that, in the toy market at least, masculine men and feminine women remain the most sought-after toys. Boys buy G. I. Joe, whose bulging biceps and shredded torso have become ever more fantastical and unrealistic over the last thirty years- you might as well call the action figures "Sergeant Trenbolone" and "Captain Dianobol Hauser". And girls buy Barbies- ones with big busts and slim hips and long legs- because that is what girls want to be when they grow up, no matter how hefty their mamas might be.

I am quite confident that, eventually, human nature will simply take its course, and yet another one of these stupid and pointless exercises in "racial and cultural sensitivity" will die a much-needed death. And when that day comes, shitlords like Nero will look upon the wreckage with a knowing smile and say, "I told you so".

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Gym idiots: Exterminatus edition

January is, of course, the least favourite month of every gym rat on the planet.

This is when all of the noob lifters come in after making their New Year's Resolutions to "lose weight" and "be healthy" and "look good", etc. They flood the gym with their gloves and their girlfriends. They do nonsensical exercises involving Bosu balls and yoga mats and those gay-as-hell pink dumbbells. They leave devastation, un-racked weights, and the awful stench of failure in their wake.

But, here is the great thing about most of these people: by March, they leave, and they never come back. For gym owners, this is fantastic; it's literally free money.

A rational gym owner actually has every reason to hate people like me- the guys who come in so regularly that you can tell exactly what day of the week it is, and often what time it is, based on when and how we walk into the hallowed grounds of the lifter's paradise.

The purpose of this post is not to laugh at the noobs- I did that already, just like I do every yearThose people, I can forgive- after they go away and stop bothering me. The few of them that do stick around, grind it out, pay their dues, and actually make the effort to learn good form and proper depth and solid technique and all that, are upstanding human beings and I welcome their presence in the gym. (Just NOT in MY squat rack. Sod off and go get your own.)

No, the purpose of this post is to examine something far, far worse than that: the spectre of the gym idiot who comes to the altar of the iron god, and stays there, and NEVER EVER GETS BETTER.

Here are three examples of human beings so horrible, so devoid of worth or merit, that the God-Emperor Himself would doubtless order Exterminatus to be carried out upon them, yea, even as He does sit in stasis upon His Golden Throne.

1. The Three-Wheels Quarter-Squatter

We've all seen and hated on this asshat. He'll walk up to the squat rack while you're grinding out hard reps, and start throwing on plates. He walks around on legs like toothpicks while carrying a spare (tractor) tire. Often this particularly odious specimen of humanity is seen with a shaved head due to roid-induced baldness, and a douchestache-goatee to compensate for it, while wearing a deadlifting starter-kit belt. (I'm sorry to admit that I used to use one of these, before I learned from my mistake.)

You'll observe him out of the corner of your eye tossing on the plates acting like he's actually going to do squats, and you cynically wait for the inevitable to happen.

Sure enough, he gets under the bar... starts to unrack it... walks it back... the descent into the hole beg- wait, was that IT?

Yep. Mr. Beer-Gut there went down maybe three inches, then went back up again and re-racked the bar.

As if that were not bad enough, these clowns come in at least two different variants that I have seen.

The first is the "EVERYONE needs to know it's Leg Day!" guy. This is the dipshit who first does that ridiculous quarter-squat workout described above, and then walks over to the leg press machine and proceeds to load it up with EVERY SINGLE 45LB PLATE IN THE GYM- because he wants you to know that he can totally press as much weight as Mariusz Pudzianowski could back in the day. The difference, of course, is that Mariusz would observe full range of motion- whereas this guy bends his legs at most thirty degrees.

So if you happen to be doing deadlifts on the same day as that numbnuts is in the gym... well, unfortunately, my friend, you are SOL.

The second variant is every squatter's least favourite non-lifter: the guy who takes 15 minutes between sets, and NEVER GOES TO DEPTH. I had the misfortune of encountering an example of each of these phenotypes in action the other night. I had to watch as my favourite squat rack was taken up first by a guy who wore knee wraps and a belt to squat 225lbs to at most a ninety-degree bend, and then saw another skinny Chinese dude take up the same rack and take a goddamn ETERNITY between sets. I was done with my entire workout by the time the second assclown was barely done with his so-called "squats".

Doing this didn't help matters much:

2. The "Date Night at the Gym" Guy

Look, I'm all for getting girls to lift. Especially cute ones. Women who go to the gym to get fit and toned are all right in my book. But, ladies, if you do this, LEAVE YOUR DAMN BOYFRIEND AT HOME.

The same applies for guys. The gym is NOT a place to take your girl on a date. Don't annoy the serious gym rats by smooching on your girl between sets unless you actually want us to use you as a punching bag at some point. You've been going to the gym a while, so presumably you know the basics of gym etiquette. One of those basics involves leaving women out of your lifts.

If you must bring your girl along to the gym, at least have the courtesy to stick to that obscure corner of the gym with bad lighting while you're making out. That way, the rest of us can keep our lunches down and get on with our deadlifts and bench press sets.

There is precisely one legitimate exception to the golden rule of leaving your woman at home when going to the gym. And that is if you are coming in to practice your muay thai on some pads.

Of course, if you actually have the first clue how to kick and punch, and you also happen to lift properly, you should have no problem kicking her, and your pads, straight through the nearest wall. Bringing her along may not actually prove to be quite as convenient or useful as you might have thought- because after she takes a kick like that, it's somewhat unlikely that she'll be happy (or conscious enough) to be your latest squeeze.

And last but not least, we have...

3. The Criminally Incompetent Spotter

Skip ahead to about the 5:24 mark in that video and you will see a prime example of a truly clueless spotter who very nearly caused a terrible accident.

Now, to be clear, I am NOT making fun of Chris Duffin. I NEVER mock true powerlifters- I don't care whether they're on the juice or not, I respect them immensely because they are far stronger and more dedicated to the steel than I am. And make no mistake, Chris Duffin is a badass.

I am making fun of that dumbass in the red shirt who very nearly lived up to the reputation of redshirts everywhere, and damn near got himself killed under an avalanche of steel.

In fact, I am quite shocked that he didn't feature in the six-o-clock news the next day. You can just see the announcement: "Bearded man with suspiciously large beer-gut in red shirt found impaled on a chromed-steel barbell outside of Chris Duffin's gym in a red shirt. Police have ruled the death an accident, based on eyewitness testimony from bystanders who swore on a stack of Bibles that they saw the victim ram a barbell up his own arse after a spectacularly failed heavy squat attempt by his employer. Sports and weather, next."

BONUS! More CrossFit Jackassery!

What would a gym idiots post be without mocking CrossFit?

The BroScience guide to deadlifts

Just sit back and let your mind absorb the explosion of bro-ness:

About the highest compliment that any comedian can be paid is that his material is almost as funny as the brilliant heavy metal mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap. That film is, hands down, the funniest film ever made- and the gags in it simply get funnier the more you know about rock and metal.

Based on what I just saw, "Dom Mazzetti" is a direct descendant of "Derek Albion Smalls".

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Or maybe they're keeping quiet for a reason

Bill Whittle asks the question that is at the forefront of every space nerd's mind:

I don't argue at all with Mr. Whittle's excellent summary of all of the many, many reasons why we are so fortunate to be here on Earth. Whether you believe in God or not, the reality is that the probability of our existence, let alone our ascension to intelligence and dominance over all of Earth, is femtoscopically small. We appear to be living in a Universe literally designed for our existence- again, I don't care whether you believe in a Creator or not, the facts are what they are. Our Universe, our galaxy, our Solar system, and our planet all appear to have just the right conditions to create, support, and sustain life- including hapless meatsacks like you and me.

No, what interests me about Mr. Whittle's presentation is that there is an alternative, and darker, explanation as to why our immediate cosmic neighbourhood is so damn quiet.

The question, "just where the Hell is everybody?!", is summarised rather well in a concept called Fermi's Paradox. The legendary physicist was essentially asking why, if civilisations of intelligent beings are driven to explore and expand and understand the Universe, has no one yet stumbled across anything like another intelligent race?

Several different attempts to answer this paradox have been proposed over the years. Mr. Whittle references a rather interesting bit of pseudoscience known as the Drake Equation. It is probably the most famous attempt to answer that paradox, but it leaves quite a lot to be desired.

The basic idea of said equation is to calculate the total number of planets in any given area of space that are capable of sustaining intelligent life. He goes over the equation rather quickly, so here is a breakdown of the equation for those with limited attention spans (like me).

To quote directly from a reputable source:
The Drake equation states that: 
N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which we might hope to be able to communicate and:
R* is the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp is the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L is the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.
If this equation looks completely arbitrary to you... that's because it is.

While it is actually a fairly intelligent first-pass attempt to figure out how many planets exist that are capable of bearing and sustaining intelligent life, it simply isn't an actual, scientific equation in any way.

Consider the last four variables. How, exactly, is one supposed to estimate how many planets actually do develop life over time, if good old Earth is the ONLY one that we know of that has done so? Moreover, how the hell is one even supposed to approximate or estimate that value?

Similarly, how is one supposed to figure out the fraction of planets that eventually develop intelligent life? WE are the only intelligent lifeforms that we know of hereabouts- and calling ourselves "intelligent" is something of a stretch in a great many cases. (Like, say, the People of Wal-Mart. Or progressives, of any era.)

You could go on in this vein for some time. The reality is that the Drake Equation requires far too much handwavium ever to be taken seriously.

As always, the simplest, most elegant answers are the best. One such answer was given by a sci-fi author named Greg Bear, in a pair of books called The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars. These two books argue that, if there are any sufficiently intelligent civilisations out there, they have evolved into one of two possible groups: preservers, and destroyers. The destroyers seek out other intelligent races and civilisations with the explicit goal of conquest and/or annihilation. The preservers, on the other hand, attempt to keep the destroyers in check.

Caught in the middle between these two forces are immature civilisations that either are destroyed, or learn very damn fast to keep their traps shut in order to avoid discovery and destruction.

Now, I know that those two books are just science fiction. (They are very good science fiction, make no mistake- probably the best books that Mr. Bear has written.) But they describe a scenario that is far more plausible than anything that you can get to via the Drake Equation and all of its mummery.

Make no mistake, our existence is probably a trillion-to-one chance occurrence. You could call us merely the lucky ones in a Universe so vast and so complex that we can only very dimly begin to comprehend its working. You could also argue, as many would, that our existence is the will of a loving and just Creator. I don't argue with either interpretation- indeed I think that the two overlap much more closely than either atheists or creationists would like to admit.

But the answer to the question, "where is everybody?" may well be answered by the statement, "they all learned very fast to STFU- because Bad Things Happen to those who won't keep quiet".

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

To juice or not to juice...

Chris Bell, middle sibling among three brothers, created a documentary film called Bigger, Stronger, Faster* back in 2008 on the subject of anabolic steroids and their effects in sports. I thoroughly recommend the film; people with access to Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming video should be able to find it quite easily. It explores not only the nature of steroid usage, but also the ways in which modern sports, of all kinds, are affected by the relentless drive for better, tougher, higher-performing athletes at every level.

Chris Bell is uniquely positioned to comment upon such things. His younger brother, Mark Bell, is a champion powerlifter. His older brother, Mike "Mad Dog" Bell, always wanted to be a professional wrestler, but never quite made the big leagues. All three of them were or are serious powerlifters. All three were or are exceptionally strong by most people's standards.

And all three of them have used, or are using, performance-enhancing drugs to make themselves as big and as strong as possible.

Chris Bell quit juicing because he felt extreme guilt about what he felt was cheating. But Mark Bell is quite unrepentant about his usage of steroids, of various kinds, to make himself the best powerlifter he can be. Mike Bell, who died of what appears to have been a drug overdose in late 2008, used PEDs to pump himself up, constantly chasing after his elusive goal of becoming a WWE pro-wrestler.

As the documentary itself points out, this situation is not rare. On the contrary, it is very, very common. Athletes from almost every sport routinely use drugs to make themselves push through normal human boundaries and achieve things that were once considered impossible.

And as the documentary went on, it got me wondering: are we perhaps making much ado about nothing when it comes to PEDs in sports?

Position Papers

At this point, I have to state unequivocally that I do NOT advocate in favour of anyone breaking the law. Certain anabolic steroids are legal to possess in the USA, but they are not legal to sell. The Controlled Substances Act of 1990 plainly states that any coach or trainer who encourages his athletes and trainees to take controlled substances, such as testosterone and its derivatives, will be imprisoned for effectively trafficking drugs. There are plenty of good arguments to be made about whether such a law even makes the slightest bit of sense, but the law is what it is.

So as far as I am concerned, I do not think that you should go out and buy steroids- and not just because that's what the law says.

The reality is that PEDs such as steroids, human growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, and similar anabolic and catabolic drugs, are chemical substances that you will introduce into your body at your own risk. If you do not know what you are doing, if you spend a lot of your time running around on bodybuilding forums trying to figure out what stack is right for you, then you almost certainly will massively overestimate the right quantities and proportions for these things, and you will screw yourself up.

The Natty Argument

On the subject of taking drugs to enhance athletic performance, I speak from the perspective of someone who long ago actively rejected the idea of taking gear. I don't believe in it, and I don't agree with it, for personal and philosophical reasons.

Quite simply, I look at those who use it as cheaters. And with good reason. I see the Captain Upper Body types walking into the gym every week with their severe cases of Invisible Lat Syndrome, putting in absolutely BS workouts that involve zero squats, no deadlifts, and "bench presses" with three wheels on either side where their arms barely go to 90 degrees before re-racking the bar. These guys walk around on legs like toothpicks while their upper bodies fill out massively, pretending as though their bicep curls and lat pulldowns are doing all the work for them.

That sort of thing really sticks in my craw, as it does for anyone who goes into the gym and lifts hard. Guys like me, who gain muscle only very slowly and quite painstakingly, have precisely one avenue open to us: lift hard and lift heavy using big compound exercises. It is the only way that we can become strong. What drugs do is give you a shortcut, a way to get around all of that work and the attendant fatigue and risks of injury and severe curtailment of free time that comes with it.

Added to this is the fact that natties simply last longer than enhanced lifters do. Once you're on gear, you will definitely see gains- no question about that. You will experience significant and rapid progress in very short order. But if you don't have a solid foundation of real experience beneath you, then the moment you go off the juice, you will go all the way back to where you were. It is possible, even likely, that you will regress further than that, depending on how old you are when you get off gear.

The Advocate's Devil

And yet... there is something about the natty position that can, and should, strike you as more than a little holier-than-thou.

Think about what it even means to be a "natural" athlete. Does this mean that any and all synthetic substances, of any kind, are absolutely off-limits? That powerlifters and tennis players and MMA fighters and football players should restrict themselves only to all-natural foods? Are whey protein and creatine and fish oil capsules therefore ruled out because they are not "natural"?

Such an argument is absurd. Yet, if we're going to raise objections to steroids and PEDs on the grounds that they are not "natural", then we have to ask how far the obsession with all-natural performance has to go.

From my perspective, and from the perspective of almost anyone who lives a very active lifestyle that involves heavy weights and a lot of cardio, protein shakes and bars are not "supplements". Whey protein shakes are not "optional extras". To people like me, whey protein is food.

Supplements are not magic pills. They cannot do anything for you other than to plug gaps in your existing diet.

Protein shakes will not magically add pounds of lean muscle to your frame if you do not lift heavy things; the most that they can do is reduce the pain and soreness associated with hard workouts, since the amino acids hit your bloodstream quickly and easily. But if you already eat a lot of lean protein by way of chicken, grass-fed beef, fish, pork, and so on, then protein shakes won't be of significant benefit for you beyond maybe reducing soreness.

Fish oil capsules will have little effect if your diet already includes large amounts of grass-fed beef and deep-sea fish. The major benefit of creatine is that it simply allows you to work out just a little bit longer, by allowing your muscles to keep working just a little harder. But that increase in work capacity is not particularly large; indeed, there are natty lifters out there who argue that creatine monohydrate simply does nothing for them.

You could waste huge amounts of your hard-earned money on supplements. Some 90% of them will have precisely no effect upon you. The supplements that do, will only give you a small, though valuable, benefit.

Given these facts, does that mean that anyone who pops a fish-oil capsule, protein shake, multivitamin pill, or serving of creatine, is suddenly an enhanced athlete, in the same category as steroid users?

All PEDs Are Not Created Equal

Consider the following. The drug dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, is an endogenous steroid hormone, produced naturally by the human body. It is the single most abundant steroid hormone produced by humans, and helps you synthesise other androgens. Taken in doses of up to 50mg a day, it appears to have some benefits as an anti-aging substance. It can be used safely at dosages of up to 200mg a day. It is perfectly legal to own and buy in the USA, and is- or at least, was- available in various nutrition stores for dirt-cheap prices.

It also happens to be on the WADA list of banned substances.

I have stated in the past that I took DHEA, which I did from about 2012 to early 2014. Did it have any effect upon me? Honestly, it's hard to tell, because I achieved my best powerlifting numbers months after I stopped taking it. And I only stopped taking it because I couldn't find it at my local supplement store.

Does the fact that I have taken DHEA in the past- which, again, is quite legal in the USA to own, buy, and sell- suddenly make me an "enhanced" lifter? Even though I actually got some of my best results after not taking it, mainly by fixing a few things with my form and putting in a lot of hard work in the gym?

Consider also the case of men who go onto testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). The sad fact for men is that as we age, our testosterone production declines also. Testosterone is, of course, the hormone that literally defines maleness. Without testosterone, our health, our strength, our mental sharpness, our sex drive, and our very identity declines and fades.

With modern biochemistry, though, it is possible to take small and quite conservative amounts of injected or oral testosterone to boost our own levels of the hormone.

The results in men who have done this tend to be startling. Men who had more or less given up on life in their 40s and 50s suddenly find themselves strong and virile again. Their lives are fuller and happier. They are able to live the lives that they want, and that many of us- and all of their ancestors- could only dream of having.

It is all very well and good for young men like me to sit here and sneer at the idea of taking artificial substances to improve our lives. But for men in their late thirties and early forties, such enhancement is the difference between a mediocre lifestyle and an exceptional one.

If you are not a professional athlete, and you are interested in maximising your strength and happiness, who is to argue that it makes no sense for you to take substances- and this can be done perfectly legally, with a doctor's prescription and everything- that will greatly improve your quality of life?

Ultimately, it's your choice. When it comes to older men taking quite small and conservative doses of testosterone to boost their own health and welfare, I really don't have a strong opinion either way on the subject. If you want to do it, hey, go for it, it's your life and your choice.

Hell, the same applies even for younger men. What most people don't realise about steroids is that they are only as dangerous to you as you are to yourself. If you are careful, if you know what you are doing, and if you do not succumb to the temptation to use as much gear as you think you can handle and instead stick to a very carefully regulated approach that is transparent, legally administered, and overseen by a trained medical professional, I really cannot find fault with such a decision. It is not a decision I can take, at least not at this point in my life, but if that is what you want to do, then that is up to you.

Drugs in Sports

So that's the average man dealt with. If you want to use gear, fine. If you don't, also fine. Just be honest with yourself and others about it. But if you use gear of any kind, be honest and open about it. Don't dodge the questions about what you're on, don't try to evade the issue. Own up to it.

And that, ultimately, is where my annoyance with the professional sporting community's rampant, but hidden, use of PEDs comes from. Drug usage in modern sports is rampant- we all know this. We just pretend to believe otherwise because the lie is comforting. Yet we feed the monster every day by buying merchandise that goes to support leagues that push their athletes to ever-greater extremes of professional accomplishment with ever more outlandish prizes and awards.

If you honestly, well and truly, do not want to see sports tainted with PEDs, you know what the fastest way to go about that would be? DON'T WATCH SPORTS! DON'T BUY THE MERCHANDISE!

Of course, that will never happen.

The average American man will no more refuse to go out and support his favourite football team than I will refuse to watch the next big UFC PPV event. But unlike the average American man, I find it much harder to condemn athletes like Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva, and Yoel Romero who get caught out for usage of banned substances.

Extreme cases, such as Lance Armstrong's epic lies that saw him claim that he won his 7 Tour de France titles completely clean, anger me not because of what men like Lance took to maintain and enhance their performance. They anger me because these men then LIE about it.

And in Mr. Armstrong's case, of course, he lied about it an then secured Federal funding to the tune of something like $15 million, last time I checked, for the US Postal team. That wasn't just lying- that was defrauding of the public.

They are forced to lie about it, as well, because they know that if they are caught, they face fines, censure, and jail time. Yet there is something deeply hypocritical about such a system.

Consider the fact that Tiger Woods got laser eye surgery done in order to correct a vision imbalance. Golf, for those who can be bothered to watch such an utterly pointless "sport", is won or lost based on how well a player can see and gauge distances and correct for environmental factors. At the peak of his powers, Tiger Woods apparently had 20:15 eyesight- better than perfect, by some distance.

Doesn't that count as performance enhancement too?

Tennis players, particularly those struggling with the burdens of age or injury, are given shots of cortisone in order to help them heal faster. This is perfectly legal if prescribed by a doctor. Yet corticosteroids are still steroids. They boost your body's tolerance for pain and suffering far beyond its normal limits, and allow you to push through barriers that would normally destroy you.

Isn't that a performance enhancer?

Maybe, just maybe, it's about damn time that we all stopped being so hypocritical.

A Way Forward

Anyone who is paying attention to such things knows that drug testing doesn't really work. There are ways to game the system, ways to time the tests or circumvent them entirely. We know that testing methodologies vary in consistency and quality from lab to lab. We know that it is possible to explain away discrepancies in things like blood-serum testosterone levels and androgen levels based on external factors or medical prescriptions or whatever.

So instead of lying to ourselves and each other, why not simply let drugs into sports? And why not establish separate but equal leagues- one based on an honours system verified and enforced by rigourous drug testing, the other a complete free-for-all where anyone can use whatever he wants, whenever he wants?

In the drug-tested leagues, if you get caught, you are banned. For life. No ifs, ands, or buts. No excuses will be tolerated. In the open leagues, take whatever the hell you want. If you kill yourself, that's your problem.

What I suspect will happen is that money will rapidly move from the drug-free leagues, to the open ones, in very short order- because the open leagues will be the most interesting and exciting. But that's largely speculation on my part.

This is already the case in a number of sports. There are powerlifting federations that are drug-tested, such as the IPF- and others which are not. There are MMA leagues which are drug-tested, such as the UFC- and many others which are not. In tennis, the ATP and WTA are rigourously drug-tested, but there are doubtless other minor leagues which are not.

If people truly want bigger, stronger, faster, better athletes, then that is what they want and that is where the money will go. All I'm saying is, let's take the lies and deceit out of it all.

I do not pretend to have all of the answers here. I do not even pretend to have given full consideration to all of the problems, on both sides, and all of the well-justified complaints that natties like me have about enhanced athletes. But the plain, hard fact is that Pandora's box was opened long ago, and we have been struggling mightily in vain to shut it closed. We have failed, utterly and completely.

Perhaps it is time to recognise that reality, and act in accordance with reality, not with how we desperately want things to be.

Buzzword bingo

You know the name of the game: take out a 5x5 matrix filled with corporate jargon and take a big swig of coffee every time someone utters one of those words. This game is, of course, vastly more fun if said coffee is of the Irish variety.

However, such a game does need to come with a health warning. If you find yourself trapped in a particularly ridiculous meeting, you may well find yourself in serious danger of dying from caffeine and/or alcohol poisoning:

Gott im Himmel.

You want to know the worst part? I actually started my career in an energy risk management consulting firm. I had to live like this for TWO AND A HALF YEARS.

Looking back, it's amazing I'm still as sane as I am. (This is of course a matter of opinion, I know.)

Monday, 25 January 2016

"First Kill"

The Vikings are BACK!

Hel's Teeth, that was positively BRUTAL. By Thor's Hammer, this sounds like it is going to be a positively AWESOME album. I cannot wait to hear it. The last four albums have featured a sound that can only be adequately described as "ear-raping"- but I honestly don't think that they've ever quite topped the sheer barbaric brilliance of With Oden On Our Side.

Twilight of the Thunder God has some truly spectacular moments on it- the standouts have got to be "Free Will Sacrifice", "Varyags of Miklagaard", and "Tattered Banners Bloody Flags"- but it's let down by some rather more drab tracks toward the end.

Surtur Rising was more of a consistent groove-crusher of an album, with a more or less uniform level of excellence throughout, but that level never quite rose to meet that of its predecessors.

And Deceiver of the Gods, while epic and brutal and brilliant, still somehow did not quite get the ingredients exactly right.

With this new album, though, AMON AMARTH has the chance to show that nobody does melodic death metal better than them.

And they'll be proving it LIVE to us too- they're playing all over the East Coast in a few months!!!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The other white meat

At least some people in Denmark still have their heads screwed on correctly, and recognise that not only is bacon good for you- which everyone but Jews and Muslims KNOWS to be true for a FACT- but it is also works very well as orc repellent:
A Danish town has made it mandatory for public institutions such as schools to serve pork, in the latest development of what has become know as the Nordic country’s “meatball war”. 
Denmark is home to 5.6 million people and around 13 million pigs. Sales of pork products and live pigs account for more than 5% of the country’s exports and the product is considered integral to nation’s culture by many citizens. 
However, due to mass-Muslim immigration and multicultural zeal, at least 30 of the country’s 1,719 daycare institutions have completely banned it or switched to halal, Ekstra Bladet found. [Didact: Simple solution to that problem. Tell them: "The border is OVER THERE, NOW TAKE YOUR STUFF AND GTFO".]

This led former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to strongly criticise the nurseries that dropped pork from their menus in 2013, which sparked a national debate.
The town council of Randers in central Denmark has now responded strongly, voting to make the meat “mandatory” for the purposes of upholding Danish culture. 
The said they wanted to ensure municipal institutions such as nurseries provided “Danish food culture as a central part of the offering – including serving pork on an equal footing with other foods”. 
They also insisted that the aim was not to force anybody to eat anything that “goes against one’s belief or religion”. 
“We will ensure that Danish children and youth can have pork in the future,” Randers town councilman Frank Nørgaard told Randers Amtsavis. 
“We just want to ensure pork in our institutions for those who want it. This isn’t about a general distrust of our institutions’ leaders, but more and more places around the country are trying to sneak through [policies that say] there shouldn’t be pork served in the institutions,” Mr. Nørgaard added. 
The move has been welcomed by the anti mass immigration Danish People’s party (DPP), which said it was “unacceptable to ban Danish food culture”.
I have long maintained that providing heaping helpings of bacon is the fastest and most effective way to cure vegetarianism. It would appear that, among its very many other benefits, bacon will also prove to be a highly effective anti-immigrant deterrent.

Honestly, the Danish government should seriously consider encouraging grilled bacon and sausage vendor carts at every airport, border crossing, and seaport in the country. One of two things will happen: either the "poor benighted little brown brothers" will end up eating said pork, or those same little brown brothers will be so repulsed by the fact that Danes love bacon that they'll run screaming in the other direction.

Where's the bad?!?

Joking aside, there is absolutely no good reason why a sovereign nation like Denmark, with its own proud history and culture, should have to put those things away simply because a pack of orcs from a very different culture decided to move in.

If the tables were turned and 100,000 Scandinavians were to suddenly show up in Damascus tomorrow claiming sanctuary and demanding that the Syrians provide them with, among other things, smørrebrød and leverpostej on a daily basis, the most polite response they could possibly hope to get would be a swift boot up their collective arse.

Yet we are somehow supposed to believe that it is right and just for Muslim invaders- and that is the correct term- to demand cultural concessions from their hosts? And on what basis?

When American frontiersmen and settlers pushed out into the West and took away Red Indian lands from their former owners, they did so based largely on force of arms. They came, they saw, they conquered. Their opponents were strong, virile, and willing to fight, but they were technologically hopelessly outclassed and on many occasions outnumbered as well. You don't have to like these facts to understand that force- raw, naked force- is the reason why the settlers were able to legitimately create and impose their own culture upon those lands.

But in Europe's present case, the conquest is not taking place through force of arms or the expansion of a superior and stronger culture; it is taking place through the willful and self-imposed suicide of an existing culture that has, apparently, lost the will to live.

It is not as if the Europeans have no model of "separate but equal" mixed societies to work with. In India, roughly 20% of the population is Muslim- a far, far higher proportion than anywhere in Europe, even in the current climate. In the large cities, Muslims tend to cluster around specific neighbourhoods. They generally keep to themselves, but they have no problem doing commerce with pagan Hindu idolaters; Muslim butchers are often regarded as some of the best sources of freshly slaughtered meat, even if they kill cows (sacred to Hindus) and refuse to touch pork (which affluent meat-eating Hindus have no problems eating). Muslim restaurant chains that sell modern variants of classical Mughal cuisine do very brisk business throughout northern and eastern India.

The populations do not, however, play happy families. There are deep and well-known sectarian tensions between Hindu and Muslim populations throughout that country. What keeps the Muslims largely in line, and prevents them from overthrowing India's secular Constitution with shariah law, is that they know full well that if they act up, they are surrounded on every side by hostiles who will show them little restraint and less mercy.

That is the part of the equation that Europeans are forgetting- for now. They do not realise that the time for accommodation is long past, if it ever even existed in the first place. Demands from recent arrivals to conform to the requirements of the invading culture must be met resolutely with force, if necessary- which is a step that a brainwashed European populace is still reluctant to take, on the whole.

But the time when "survival cancels out programming", as LTC Kratman likes to say, is rapidly approaching. I, for one, would not want to be in Europe when the restraints finally snap and the Europeans wake up and realise that their entire way of life is being systematically destroyed before their eyes in order to accommodate people who look, speak, act, and eat absolutely nothing like they do.