Monday, 30 September 2013

Book Review: The First Imperium by Jay Allan

Being sick blows, but at least it gives me time to catch up on some reading, writing, and (by far most importantly) sleeping. I've been meaning to write this review for a while, actually; of course, that would require that I give up my lazy-bastard tendencies on weekends, and that ain't happening anytime soon.

Anyway, that aside, it's time to get to work on another installment in Jay Allan's outstanding "Crimson Worlds" sci-fi series. I've already reviewed the first three books in the series, and I've been quite vocal in my opinion that this guy is one of the finest hard sci-fi writers out there today. I should make it clear that there isn't all that much in his books that is ground-breaking or completely innovative; as I noted in my review of his previous book, Jay Allan basically takes the best ideas from the novels of other great sci-fi writers and adds his own unique characters, plot lines, and universe. And he does this very, very well, which is precisely why I hold him in such high regard.

After three novels focused on the human expansion into space and the Western Alliance's brutal, costly, yet mostly overwhelming victories against its opponents, and then on the colonies of the Alliance territories in their fight against central government oppression, Allan switches gears with this book and brings forth a new and very different enemy: the robot soldiers of the First Imperium. Of course, they're never actually called this in the book, they are simply presented as inhuman, unstoppable, and utterly terrifying in every way.

The story of the First Imperium is given, briefly, within the prologue. Basically, aeons before mankind even looked up at the stars, a hyper-advanced alien race had built an immense interstellar empire, but grew soft and decadent, absorbed with the pursuits of pleasures and hedonism and maintained in opulence by their robotic servants. Even after the fall of their mighty empire and the extinction of their race, the controlling intelligence of their robot servants, the Regent, persisted in maintaining the long-forgotten civilisation that its creators had built. Yet time took its toll even on the artificially intelligent Regent, slowly turning its loneliness into insanity and rage. And when the Regent's scout ships stumbled accidentally upon the farthest outposts of human civilisation, its reaction was swift and terrible: all-out, open war.

In this regard there is nothing new in this novel. Jay Allan might as well have taken the back-story of the Eldar from the Warhammer 40K universe and merged it with that of the Necrons to come up with the concept of the robot soldiers of the First Imperium. The cover art for this novel depicts the First Imperium's robot walkers as rather similar in appearance to the Elites from my beloved HALO series. (Actually, it's like the cover artist was playing HALO: Reach while he was doodling ideas for the cover and thought, "hey, those Sangheili look perfect as models for robot warriors"- and then just copied a Minor Elite onto a page and changed the colour scheme.). That is not to say that he does a bad job, though- far from it, in fact. He depicts the mechanical troops of the First Imperium as impossibly tough to damage or destroy, with technology vastly beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced of the human factions. And the manner in which the alien threat advances- inexorable, merciless, and unstoppable- is described in chilling detail.

Imagine fighting an enemy that feels no pain, that never tires, that never loses hope or morale due to losses, that is damn near impossible to destroy. No human army, no matter how well trained or motivated, could hold out forever against such a remorseless opponent. Thus it is within this novel, as colony after colony is attacked and destroyed by the ruthless, pitiless intelligence behind the First Imperium's soldiers and warships.

Into the fray are tossed the usual suspects- everyone we've come to know and love from the first three books in the series. They're all present and accounted for- Erik Cain (of course, since he's the primary protagonist), his lover Sarah Linden, his mentor and father figure General Elias Holm, his best friend and brother-in-arms Darius Jax, and slightly more distaff characters like Admiral Augustus Cole and his best friend Terrance Compton. In fact, Allan's cast of characters is rapidly expanding, and one thing that becomes obvious from this book is that it's going to be a challenge for him to keep track of all of these characters that he keeps creating and tossing into the mix. This is classic Martin-Rowling Syndrome, and if an author is not careful about pruning the characters within his universe, he will often find that his books sprawl completely out of control and lose any sense of coherence, plot, or comprehensibility very quickly.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) Allan does not appear to have succumbed just yet, because with this book, and to some extent the previous one as well, he has demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to kill off main characters from his universe in order to give his readers the gut-punches that should by rights be part of any great sci-fi series. And he sure as hell delivers with this one, because an important main character is killed off towards the end of the book. (No, I'm not going to tell you which one, wait until I post my review of the next book in the series. Or read it yourself.) There is no question that the death of that character is a catalysing event in the series, because it sets the stage perfectly for the follow-up, The Line Must Hold.

The plot of this book really doesn't bear much commentary beyond what I've already provided; the strength of Jay Allan's writing is, and has always been, his excellent characterisation of his main characters. Allan is most unusual in this regard; his characters exhibit development and personality far beyond what you would expect of the usual sci-fi stereotypes, and as a result his plots, while somewhat predictable, are never boring. The character of Erik Cain in particular is very interesting to watch. He develops from the grass-green, wet-nosed cadet in the first book into a truly stone-cold killing machine, whose ferocity in combat is tempered only by his absolute and unbreakable loyalty to the Corps and to his duty. Reading through Allan's books and his characterisation of Erik Cain, I am reminded very strongly of the way David Weber and Steve White developed the character of Raymond Prescott in The Shiva Option after the death of Prescott's brother- Raymond Prescott essentially becomes a remorseless, cold-blooded avatar of Death incarnate, never venting his grief in public, but never leaving anyone in any doubt that he will let nothing deter him from his purpose and his task. That is precisely what Erik Cain becomes, in this book and even more so in the next- a grim-faced, ruthless embodiment of will and rage encased in flesh that seems almost too frail to hold such power at bay.

There are two major criticisms I have of this book. The first is the same one that I've had for every single book in the series: where the hell is the bloody star map that tells us where everything is?!? Come on, man, it can't be that difficult to draw a map of your universe! The second is that there are several unresolved plot lines that just sort of... stay unresolved. For instance, at the end of the previous book, Gavin Stark, the eeeeeeeevil mastermind of Alliance Intelligence, tells his second-in-command that he wants her to kill Erik Cain. It just so happens that his 2ic is both his lover and the sister to Erik Cain's longtime girlfriend. So, Alex Linden goes to Armstrong, meets her long-lost sister, and... sits there and feels depressed. No, really, that's what actually happens. And then we quickly segue to Erik Cain desperately trying to hold the line against the First Imperium's soldiers. Uh, okay...

The good news is that Allan does actually have some idea as to what he's doing, because those plot lines are further developed in the subsequent books in the series. (Of which there have been two thus far, but we've got another three coming up within the next 9 months, so it's not like it'll be an overly long wait.) It's just that there are a lot of loose ends to tie off. At least Allan has thus far avoided the George R. R. Martin trap of creating waaaaaaay too many useless tertiary characters and then not knowing what the hell he's supposed to do with them; Allan's writing is still taut, precise, and punchy, where Martin's has become bloated, soggy, and about as interesting as a piece of celery.

Overall, this is a solid addition to the canon of the Crimson Worlds series. Personally I think that its follow-up, The Line Must Hold, is actually better, but as expansions of an already-excellent sci-fi universe go, this one is very very good.

Didact's Verdict: 4/5, a couple of loose ends in the plot and a bit of meandering here and there don't stop this from being a damn fine sci-fi novel.

Buy/download The First Imperium here.

Arguing with Liberals

Yeah, this is pretty much what it's like:

Sunday, 29 September 2013


There are times when I feel like the gene pool desperately needs a lifeguard. And then idiots like this one come along, and I realise that we might just be OK after all:
A meteorologist who has covered weather for the Wall Street Journal tweeted that he has decided not to have children in order to leave a lighter carbon footprint, and is considering having a vasectomy.

He also vowed to stop flying after the world's recent climate-change report made him cry.

Eric Holthaus was reacting to the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which released a report on Friday that found it was ‘extremely likely’ that humans are causing warming trends seen in the last several decades.
This particular act of world class stupidity should be lauded. If only other bleeding-heart types were this "conscientious", we might be able to get somewhere in terms of building a K-structured society. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

What the Hell is a "Vegan Strip Club"???

Anyone have any idea dafuq this is supposed to be?
The stripper who was exchanging Twitter messages with New Jersey Senate hopeful Cory Booker has tried to downplay their conversations after they were exposed on Wednesday. 
Booker, the 44-year-old Newark mayor who is leading in the race to fill his state’s empty Senate seat, is an active Twitter user and regularly converses with constituents and random followers.
Honestly I really couldn't care less about what happens to the Mayor of Newark, particularly given what a hole that town is. I just find the idea of a Vegan strip club to be both hilarious and idiotic. How can you possibly enjoy a lap dance from someone who thinks that hemp milk is a Good Idea???

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Team Intelligent-People-Who-Refuse-to-Watch-Twilight

Normally I would never, ever, ever comment upon the Twilight saga. This is for two reasons. One, I have never read any of the books or watched any of the movies. This is because I have a brain and I would very much like to retain use of it, thank you very much. Two, I read Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was 16, and it scared the bejeezus out of me. That is a classic vampire story. Stephanie Meyer's convoluted, Mormon-inflected wet-dream-slash-ridiculously-overcomplicated-abstinence-metaphor with a sparkly gay-ass 100+-year-old virgin vampire with serious boundary issues is not.

Fortunately, the internet exists to provide those of us who have neither the time, the patience, nor the lack of intelligence to watch or read these wretched execrations with the means to mock them nevertheless. So, for your enjoyment, here the the HONEST TRAILERS for the Twilight saga. You're welcome.

[My sister, on the other hand, has seen the Twilight movies. She tells me that they are hilarious to watch- provided that you do so when you are completely and totally hammered. She told me that she and her friends went to watch the fourth movie after they'd had several vodka shots each, and apparently it was one of the funniest movies she's ever seen, but only because it was so awful. This indicates to me that if you were to invent a Twilight drinking game, you would be in the hospital with severe alcohol poisoning by the end of the first movie.]

Seven Years in America

[I suppose I should have written this about a month ago so that I would get the timing right, but as I've noted before, I'm kind of a lazy bastard. I like my couch and I like my afternoon naps on weekends, dammit...]

August 22nd, 2006. A young man steps off a plane after a 25-hour journey from the other side of the world, and for the third time in his life, sets foot on American soil. Thus began his journey throughout a nation that, until then, he'd only really seen from a distance. (Note to Americans: you people have got to figure out that your airport immigration system blows. When Heathrow Airport looks good by comparison, you know you've got a problem- and yet you insist on welcoming illegal invaders and lawbreakers with open arms?!?)

When I got off that plane seven years ago, I didn't really know what to expect. I was coming to the States to study for my postgraduate degree. I had many misconceptions about America, certainly, and I wasn't prepared for the shock I got when I discovered just how different America is from the stereotypes that are painted of it by the outside world. You really have to spend some time outside of the USA to understand just how skewed- often bizarrely so- is the perception that foreigners have of this country. If you listened to the advice given by a fair number of otherwise intelligent and reputable people of my acquaintance, you'd end up believing that Americans are all a bunch of fat, slobbering, gun-totin', Bible-bashin' rednecks who speak slowly and cannot understand words of more than three syllables. Thankfully, I was disabused of that particular stereotype rather quickly once I got here- so much so, in fact, that my sister now calls me a redneck. (Given that I speak actual English, and with a rather posh-sounding accent at that, this is an incongruent image to say the least.)

One thing I did discover, very fast, was just how much bigger everything is here. I still haven't gotten completely used to that. For instance, I learned how to drive (stick, of course) in Singapore, where cars are roughly eight to ten times as expensive as they are here. (No, I am not making that up, just ask my opposite number from back home.) They are also roughly half the size, or at least that's what it feels like. I have never quite gotten used to the sight of these bloody great SUVs whizzing past at 60mph (or faster) on ordinary roads (and in the snow to boot); the unfathomable appeal of the Cadillac Marmalade is still, to me, one of the great mysteries of life. The people here are bigger too- when you're used to spending time around stick-thin Singaporean Chinese, coming here to find that people are on average approximately twice the size does take some adjustment. So too do the meal sizes around here; every time I go back home, I can't tell whether to be pleased or irritated at the fact that any meal I order at a decent restaurant will actually be something that I can complete in a single sitting. Anyone who has ever seen me tear into a pound's worth of bloody rare Paleo bison burgers like a Carnifex through an Imperial tank will appreciate this.

I have learned much during my time here. It was here that I met some of my closest and dearest friends. It was here that I became a libertarian. It was here that I finally renounced atheism and moved to an open and humble acceptance of the divine majesty of God. It was here that I learned about Paleo eating and Primal living, and here that I came across the Red Pill, which forever changed my views of the world and my place in it. I have gained a great deal over the last seven years, things that I am deeply thankful for, things that I do not believe would have come to me had I lived in any other country.

Those good things have come at a price, though- often a price most dear. I have spent the past seven years away from my family, watching as those I care about the most grow old before my eyes. It is nearly impossible for me to think of either of my parents as "old"- somehow the label simply does not fit. And yet, every time I go back home, I see that my mother's hair is a bit more grey, that my father's physical energy is a bit lower than before. I see my sister growing up- she will soon graduate from college, in fact- and I wonder where the hell the time went as she somehow managed to go from a completely grass-green wet-nosed high-school graduate living an extremely pampered and sheltered life, to a (perhaps ever-so-slightly less green and sheltered and pampered) college student in the Midwest. (I maintain that she still has a wet nose. Literally.) I have seen my extended family fall apart from a distance, unable (and unwilling, if I'm honest) to do very much of anything about it, as squabbles over money and marriage destroyed previously unbreakable bonds of blood and brotherhood.

I have experienced personal loss and hardship as well, though again I have been far luckier than most. Like millions of others during the first stages of the ongoing Great Recession, I lost my job and spent about a month or so unemployed and wondering how to make ends meet. I was immensely fortunate to find something better very quickly, and within a few months I was working once more. My first job had been miserable- after the first 6 months, there was literally nothing to do for two years, a period of soul-destroying ennui that I look back upon with a mixture of scorn and regret. My second job was great, at least for the first year- and then, suddenly, it became terrible, as senior management turned the company into a political minefield and insisted on hiring accountants to do jobs that required actual brains and lateral thinking. I wasn't destined to last long there, and I was looking for a way out when the axe fell a little over two years ago. Once again, I was relatively fortunate; three months later, I was employed full-time once again.

When I joined my new firm, though, I was tossed into the fire, feet-first. The first three months were brutal- long hours, failing systems, lousy processes, demanding clients, the works. You name it, and it broke. And then it got even worse over the subsequent three months as my team fell apart around me. I remember that time as, in the words of Neil Peart when describing long tours, "a long dark tunnel"; I distinctly remember walking to work almost every morning last April thinking to myself, "if I have to go through one more day like this, I'm resigning tomorrow". Somehow, I pulled through- and then, thanks to a hell of a lot of hard work and some not inconsiderable time spent in the office on weekends during the summer when everyone else was surfing or sunbathing, things began to turn around. Slowly at first, then faster, until we got to the point where things were running smoothly and people were getting out at decent times again. Today, two of the three businesses that I supervise run virtually on autopilot; the third is in the best shape it's ever been in more than four years; and my clients know and recognise full well exactly who was responsible for the turnaround.

In the seven years that I have been here, I have seen deeply into this country and into its character. And I can tell you this with complete honesty: I never thought that I would come to love this country, or its people, as completely as I do today. Well, I suppose I should rephrase that. I never thought that I would come to love the ideal that this country once represented. There was once an idea that was America- the concept of a land of freedom, of peace, of liberty. This concept was, for roughly a century, as real and as tangible as the smell of the salt on the air around Ellis Island, but like all great dreams, it faded with time. It was slowly tarnished and ruined by the frailties and insecurities of the people of this country, who repeatedly chose the illusion of security over the reality of freedom, and in so doing signed the death sentence for the very freedoms that their fathers and grandfathers fought and died for.

It was here in America that I came to understand that freedom is more than just a buzzword, more than simply a catchphrase. It is worth fighting for, worth preserving at any cost. From the simplest of freedoms- the right to walk down a street without being harassed by the police for bribes, the right to enjoy the peace and quiet of your own home without having to deal with loutish and rowdy neighbours- to the most complex and difficult to understand- the freedom to associate with whoever you please, the freedom to defend yourself against external threats by any means necessary- this is a nation that once understood what it truly means to be free.

And it is in my recognition of what those freedoms mean that I also recognise, with great sorrow, something else: that within my lifetime, the freedoms that once defined and strengthened this land, will disappear. Conservatives like to believe that they can somehow stand against the tide of barbarism that is coming, that somehow they can stand and fight against the inexorable weight of history and "preserve this, the last best hope of Man on Earth", but they are wrong. There is no hope for this nation. It is dying from many self-inflicted wounds both great and small- imperial overstretch, demographic suicide, governmental strangulation of free enterprise, its bizarre insistence on letting half-savage barbarians roam its streets unchecked, the inability of the vast majority of its people to move beyond the bread-and-circuses spectacle that they call "politics" in this country. Whether by the hand of a foreign invader or its own people, this country will fall, and everything it once stood for, every ideal that once defined it as the light of Mankind, will disappear with it.

And it is precisely because of this coming fall that it is very unlikely that your humble servant the Didact will be sitting in front of a laptop 7 more years from now, telling you about what he has learned from his time in a land of freedom and grace. For the time of this country as a free and good land is long done.

That won't be the end of freedom- not quite. Freedom couldn't be extinguished by the surrender of imperial Athens to the victorious Spartans in 403 BC; freedom didn't die when Philip II of Macedon crushed the Thebans at Chaeronea. Freedom wasn't destroyed when Julius Caesar overthrew the last trappings of the Roman Republic and created the Roman Empire in its place; freedom didn't disappear when that same empire collapsed with nary a whimper in 476 AD. Freedom didn't vanish when the Turks destroyed Constantinople in 1453, it didn't evaporate when the French instituted the Terror in the aftermath of their "revolution", and it somehow survived both socialism and fascism. Freedom may be small and fragile, but it's amazingly hard to kill. The idea that Man is an autonomous being beholden to God and not government, and that therefore government derives its powers strictly from the consent of the governed, is still the newest, most radical idea in all of human history.

But make no mistake- if what I have seen over these past 7 years is any indication, freedom will be on the retreat for a good long while before we can put it back on the offensive, where it bloody well belongs.

Monday, 23 September 2013

You Know You're Fully Paleo When...

... the woman at the counter of your coffee store (I can't call someone who pours bad coffee a barista and also keep a straight face) puts sugar in your coffee by accident, and it makes you feel lightheaded and sick afterwards.

True story. Happened this morning. Annoyed me so much that I tossed half of an otherwise perfectly good latte in the bin and ventured out again to get a proper cafe au lait.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

How NOT to Argue With Liberals

Heeeeeere's Didact...

I'd like to say that I've been away due to a very busy work schedule, but frankly that's not really true; it's mostly due to chronic laziness on my part that I really haven't posted anything much of late. That should change in the near future, now that I've fully caught up on the last season of ABC's "Castle".

(What?!?! Nathan Fillion is EPICally awesome, and you know it. Ever since the days of "Firefly" and then "Serenity", I've been a big fan of his acting work, and all I can say is that his work in "Castle" is both brilliant and hysterical.)

Rampant fanboyism aside, I have been keeping an eye (well, sort of) on the news. This particular bit of liberal moonbattery caught my attention recently:
We used to all agree, if you’re in America, that if a person keeps their nose clean and works hard at it full-time job, they should make enough to be able to raise a family. It was the rationale for the minimum wage. 
But billionaires like the Walton heirs have fought to keep the minimum wage at a level below what could be called a living wage for decades. And so, instead of paying their workers well, the Walton heirs take so many billions out of the company themselves that those six individuals own more wealth than over 100 million Americans combined. 
The minimum wage in 1968, which in today’s dollars would be about $10.25, was at least a starting point to a livable wage. 
Raising our minimum wage to where it was 1968 would lift millions of people out of poverty, and reduce our welfare and food stamp rolls. And it would not mean that burgers or goods Wal-Mart would be more expensive; it would mean that the billionaires would have to bake only hundreds of millions instead of billions. 
Nobody who lives in the richest nation on earth and works hard through their life should have to live in such grinding poverty that it impacts the ability of their minds to function. This is a moral crisis for America. 
If the only way a business can run is by paying below poverty wages and relying on taxpayers to subsidize the company by supplementing their employees food and living expenses with things like food stamps and section 8 housing, that business should not exist.
The conservative follow-up to this bit of idealistic, hare-brained stupidity is, quite frankly, rather limp:
More concerning is Hartmann’s historical fantasy that “we used to all agree, if you’re in America, that if a person keeps their nose clean and works hard at it full-time job, they should make enough to be able to raise a family. It was the rationale for the minimum wage.” I agree with the former, hard work ought to be rewarded. But actually, the original rationale for the minimum wage was to serve as a protectionist and eugenicist strategy by vested labor unions to suppress employment of new immigrant groups. Frankly, ignoring the harmful effects of the minimum wage while staunchly advocating for its increase is a form of race and class complicity unacceptable for anyone with a reliable Internet connection (See: Bernstein and Leonard 2009 and Leonard 2009). 
True liberals would be better to devote attention to social processes causing unarguably harm to the poor such as the war on drugs, our overzealous criminal justice system, mass incarceration, our failing public education policies, and immigration controls.
This is, as far as I can see, a textbook example of how to lose an argument with a liberal. And the sad part is, liberals practically hand libertarians and conservatives the methods by which to destroy them in their own words. The problem is that K-selected libertarian and conservative types, for whatever reason, simply cannot use those methods- not without time and training, it would seem. Fortunately, thanks to the work of men like Anonymous Conservative, that is no longer the case.

Over the last week or so, I spent a great deal of time reading through Anonymous Conservative's primer on touching the amygdala and how one can use it to reframe an argument with someone of the unicorns-and-rainbows persuasion of political thinking. I strongly recommend that you go forth and read the entire thing, it is well worth your time. Then, come back and re-read those Daily Caller pages again, and what I am about to write will make far more sense to you.

You see, the liberal brain operates on a set of beliefs and ideas that have no bearing whatsoever on reality. They have zero grounding in logic, little understanding of history, and probably negative understanding of basic economic truths. That is why progressive societies always and everywhere devolve into tyranny (another post on this subject coming up soon)- because liberals simply cannot understand the consequences of their actions.

Why, then, do they keep seeming to win arguments against people who are better informed, more logical, more grounded than they are? Simple: they resort to emotional arguments, not logical ones. The human brain is an odd construct, one that, as Nassim Taleb points out very nicely and repeatedly in Fooled by Randomness, simply does not handle real-world risks and probabilities very well. This also means that it is extremely susceptible to putting far too much value on extremely improbable events and far too little value on extremely likely events.

The way to outmanoeuvre a liberal is therefore not to resort to logic and facts. It doesn't matter how much you bombard a liberal with facts- he will doggedly stick to his position and refuse to acknowledge the truth of your arguments, mostly because liberals themselves very often do not even acknowledge the concept of a Higher Truth. (It is no secret that atheism and liberalism are tightly correlated; there aren't many atheist conservatives out there, after all.) The way to win such an argument, therefore, is to resort to the same method of out-grouping that liberals themselves use.

This isn't as weird as it sounds. Nor does it necessarily have to be dishonourable. Let's take the example of the minimum wage mentioned above in the Daily Caller article. Thomas Hartmann makes a powerful (but badly flawed) moral argument for a minimum wage, completely ignoring the fact that minimum wages lock out minorities from the job market, especially young black males. It is a known fact, readily available from the BLS's own statistics, that the Great Recession (really Great Depression 2.0) has hit young black males worst of all; the unemployment rate within that demographic ranges from 25% to 50% in certain very hard-hit areas. This trend has held firm throughout American history; as Arthur Laffer pointed out at a conference about 3 years ago, blacks are the last to get hired and the first to get fired in virtually any economic downturn over the last 50 years. If you think about it for even 2 minutes you will quickly see why, and it has very little of anything to do with racism.

So let's use this to put pressure on the liberal argument in favour of a minimum wage (which I adamantly oppose as a small-government, free-market libertarian). The way to approach this is very simple. All you have to do is point out what a heartless bastard your liberal friend is for wanting to lock out young black men from the job market- an ironic turn of events given how often liberals accuse us of being heartless and uncaring. (I would recommend wearing that label proudly, by the way; you'd be surprised at how differently people see you once they realise that you don't give a damn what they think of you). After all, that has been the exact result of the enactment of ever-higher minimum wages over the last 7 years. You can then point out that even the most ardent liberals in Congress somehow recognise this fact; after all, why else did Nancy Pelosi have to close a loophole for tuna canneries in American Samoa- given that Del Monte, which has significant business interests there, has its headquarters in San Francisco, which just so happens to be Mrs. Pelosi's district? Why, then, does your liberal friend hate black people? Doesn't her desire (yes, a lot of liberals happen to be female, I know I'm stereotyping here) to lock out black people from the job market reflect some deep-seated element of racism that she should know better than to express in public?

Pointing out the rank hypocrisy of liberals, combined with a deft manoeuvre designed to exclude them from in-group attention- the very thing that the liberal psyche so desperately craves- has a pretty interesting effect upon them. I've not had nearly as much success as A/C at destroying the fragile liberal ego, but even I can attest to the fact that liberals, when confronted with the severe inconsistencies of their own ideologies, become unable to maintain their composure. When confronted by a calm, methodical, relentless attack on their positions, combined with a ruthless dismantling of their own innate assumptions of moral superiority, the liberal mind simply ceases to function properly, and the liberal in question often has to leave the room- or worse.

This is not merely theoretical conjecture. I once had an argument along similar lines with my aunt, several years ago. This is partly why I don't see her very often; she cares about me very much, but I have no patience whatsoever for her stuck-up friends or her harebrained ideas about how the world should work. We were sitting outside a restaurant after a nice dinner and she brought up the subject of the "living wage". I asked her to define a living wage; she skipped around the issue. I tried attacking her ideas with facts and logic; she went straight into classic liberal emotion-mode and accused me of "insulting her intelligence". If I had known then what I know now, and if I had been in a circle of her liberal friends, I strongly suspect that I would have managed to out-group her. I would also have burned- no, dynamited- that relationship, but, well, let's just say that it wouldn't necessarily have been a great loss.

And that is the important part about arguing with liberals. To achieve maximum effect and force, one has to be in a crowd of them. r-selected types love to exert their moral superiority in their own echo-chamber of friends and acquaintances; K-selected types have no such luxury, being in general a fairly nuclear and extremely territorial bunch who stick to those we know and trust, and there aren't many of those around. This means by necessity being willing to speak up in a crowd- no mean feat for deep introverts and for many K-selected types who seek, above all, simply to be left alone. But, if you can apply what A/C teaches you in his series- I would also strongly recommend looking at Vox Day's inimitable methods of tearing apart his liberal critics- then you will likely win arguments pretty quickly. I warn you now, though, that this is the perfect method for losing "friends" and alienating people, so be prepared to pay the price that comes from refusing to go along to get along.

Certain ideas are worth defending. Certain creeds are worth the sacrifice. The ideas of independence, self-reliance, and free association are "still the newest and most unique idea[s] in the long history of Man's relationship to man." Are you so willing to let them fail and be forgotten? Or are you willing to stand up and be counted among those who would defend these priceless ideals, even at great personal cost to yourself?

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Endpoint of Game

Danger & Play answered a reader's question recently about why he doesn't really post on game anymore; his respectful disagreement was a masterpiece:
Think of game like an investment strategy. Ideally we would all have substantial assets that would allow us to live off of interest (passive income). While living off the interest, we would be free to engage in other entrepreneurial activities (active income). 
Your “whole man” is like an investment property. Get your style in order, lift weights, juice, read books to expand your mind, do alpha male stuff like learn how to fight and shoot guns. This will pay off even when you are not doing anything.
There's more:
Having a nice bankroll also improves your game because it allows you to chill out. I’ve been in situations where I had to know how many drinks were just ordered and hoped my debit card have enough cash on it. Worry about money messes with your mood and hurts your game. 
When you have some cash stashed away, you don’t fidget or get worried. You know that if there’s a logistical snafu, you can just get a hotel. You got it covered. You’re in control. You give off a stronger, more dominant, masculine vibe. 
Building up your style also improves your game. If you look great, you will draw attention to yourself without having to make yourself known like a nerdy kid in school who keeps raising his hand whenever the teacher asks a question.

As far as I'm concerned, guys who take the red pill just to get laid are actually doing themselves a huge disservice. I suspect that many of the guys who claim that "game doesn't work" are the types that sought out only one particular aspect of game- specifically, the PUA aspects of the literature and the scene- and quickly found themselves failing for reasons that they couldn't really understand.

I am very much of the same school of thought as D&P. Game is about so much more than just getting to be good at seducing women. Game is about complete self-improvement. It is about rediscovering the lost alpha male values that our society has scorned and traduced- the ones that make men strong, dominant, and admirable. Game is ultimately a set of mental and physical tools designed to make a man worthy of the name.

I didn't discover the game "by accident". I got here by realising that there were several areas of my life where I was seriously deficient, and I needed to correct those areas. I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams in some areas; I haven't even gotten started in others. But I have never forgotten the reason I took the red pill in the first place- because I knew that I wasn't living up to my full potential. And I know that if I stay on this course, someday I will reach that potential.

D&P's points about health, wealth, and wisdom are especially important. I would actually recommend that any man who starts down this road of self-improvement begins with the three most fundamental aspects of his being- body, mind, and soul, in that order. That means that you start eating right (i.e. Paleo). It means that you start working out properly (go chain yourself to a squat rack and call me in a year). It means that you cut off your cable subscriptions and turn off the damn TV, and start reading great books by great men- try reading Victor Davis Hanson's A War Like No Other, or Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor, or Plutarch's Lives, and then tell me that the latest episode of The Housewives of Survivor Big Brother Kardashians Apprentice, or whatever trash it is that's showing these days, can compare. It means that you learn to live within your means, build up your income, figure out how to invest for the long term. It means that you stop spending time with people who add no value to your life, especially those who drain your mental energy and well-being, and start spending your time either by yourself or with those few who you trust and respect most deeply.

Do these things, and women will eventually follow. You will have to put effort into approaching them, whether in person or online. Women, even more than men, have extremely finely tuned BS meters, which means that if you approach them without confidence or belief, you will fail. Repeatedly. Painfully. And often. But, if you follow D&P's basic ideas, you will eventually succeed.

I'll put it another way using a lesson that I learned in Krav Maga. The Master Instructor there says this virtually every time we practise basic strikes- the best martial artists in the world never start by going into fancy techniques, they start by doing punches, kicks, and blocks. That's it. These are the simplest techniques in the repertoire- and yet they are the hardest to master. No martial artist worthy of the name will ever claim to have complete mastery over these techniques, which is why even the best of them constantly practice the same routines, over and over and over again. Thus it is with the game- which means that you can never give up on the basics of eating right, working out right, spending your money wisely, enriching your mind, and being judicious about the company you keep.

I leave the last word to D&P:
Game isn’t running dorky routines. Game isn’t being an entertainer who gets a lot of numbers and make outs but never closes. 
Game is taking yourself to your highest potential as a man.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Garbage In, Garbage Out

The Mail on Sunday has obtained the final draft of a report to be published later this month by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ultimate watchdog whose massive, six-yearly ‘assessments’ are accepted by environmentalists, politicians and experts as the gospel of climate science.

They are cited worldwide to justify swingeing fossil fuel taxes and subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy. 
Yet the leaked report makes the extraordinary concession that the world has been warming at only just over half the rate claimed by the IPCC in its last assessment, published in 2007.

Back then, it said that the planet was warming at a rate of 0.2C every decade – a figure it claimed was in line with the forecasts made by computer climate models.

But the new report says the true figure since 1951 has been only 0.12C per decade – a rate far below even the lowest computer prediction. 
The 31-page ‘summary for policymakers’ is based on a more technical 2,000-page analysis which will be issued at the same time. It also surprisingly reveals: IPCC scientists accept their forecast computers may have exaggerated the effect of increased carbon emissions on world temperatures – and not taken enough notice of natural variability. 
They recognise the global warming ‘pause’ first reported by The Mail on Sunday last year is real – and concede that their computer models did not predict it. But they cannot explain why world average temperatures have not shown any statistically significant increase since 1997. 
They admit large parts of the world were as warm as they are now for decades at a time between 950 and 1250 AD – centuries before the Industrial Revolution, and when the population and CO2 levels were both much lower. 
The IPCC admits that while computer models forecast a decline in Antarctic sea ice, it has actually grown to a new record high. Again, the IPCC cannot say why. 
A forecast in the 2007 report that hurricanes would become more intense has simply been dropped, without mention.

This year has been one of the quietest hurricane seasons in history and the US is currently enjoying its longest-ever period – almost eight years – without a single hurricane of Category 3 or above making landfall.
 Lies, damned lies, and statistics, indeed.

Nothing in this article surprises me in the slightest. A computer model is only as good as its assumptions. Anyone who knows how to program models into statistical packages, or program his own models in languages like C++ or JAVA- I can do the first easily, and the second at a pinch- knows this basic truth. I work with financial models involving some very strong assumptions about the nature of financial markets. I know those assumptions very well, which is why I know the limitations and problems with the models that I work with. That is why I happen to be very, very good at what I do- because I know when my spreadsheet model is spitting out something accurate, and when it's spitting out complete nonsense.

Financial pricing models, like Black-Scholes-Merton for pricing vanilla options, or the Heath-Jarrow-Morton framework for interest rate derivatives, are generally well understood by practitioners. The literature is publicly available. The expertise is spread out across many, many organisations the world over. The code that you need to write to build your own Black-76 or SABR pricer is publicly available- I have a lot of R code designed to do exactly this sitting in my personal files, for instance.

The same assuredly cannot be said of climate models. Those models are proprietary, owned by large organisations that have a vested interest in public funding and thus have no desire to expose themselves to sunlight in order to show just how bad their predictions really are. The models are not transparent, it's not easy for a programmer like me to look at the code on a public website or repository and then try to back-test that code against my own data sets. And as I've pointed out before, many of the most commonly used models for climate forecasting are poorly programmed and built with an intrinsic assumption that temperatures increase in direct proportion with CO2 emissions.

If your model's predicted value does not match the actual value produced in the real world, your model is garbage. It's that simple. Unfortunately, the climate sophists of this world don't seem to particularly care about little things like "facts" or "statistics" or "real science".

Vibrant Banksters

Steve Sailer posted an interesting except from a book written by a former Lehman Bros. executive regarding the way diversity was forced down the throats of employees at that firm- right around the time that the housing bubble was clearly becoming a huge problem:
One of these was our corporate president, Joe Gregory, the right-hand man of the reclusive CEO, Dick Fuld. ... But Joe Gregory was a regular, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum financial sycophant, devoted to his master, Richard Fuld, ... Joe’s fixation was a subject called diversity. He was consumed with it. His aim was the mission of inclusion. He had an entire department devoted to it, headed up by a managing director. Great rallies were staged in New York’s auditoriums, with free cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served for up to six hundred people, all listening to Joe or one of his henchmen pontificating. “Inclusion! That must be our aim!” he would yell, as if we were running a friggin’ prayer meeting. ... Which was all very well, but down in the trenches, where a trader might sweat blood to make a couple of million dollars, most of us were a bit tetchy about Joe Gregory going off and spending it on a cocktail party for six hundred people. 
... Especially when it emerged that the top dog in diversity was earning well over $2 million a year and that the diversity division had a bigger budget and more people than risk management! 
Joe’s mission for diversity drove [Christine Daley, head of distressed-debt research] mad. She had no time for any of it, but Joe Gregory had us all over a barrel: he had major control over our bonus compensation, and he made it clear there would be extra money for those who rallied to his cause. Most of us did not care about the cause, but the prospect of this thirty-first-floor sycophant lopping a couple of hundred thousand off our annual check because we weren’t in there pitching for the cause of the day was seriously irritating. Harsher judges than I considered Joe hid behind his unusual fixation, appearing to fight the world’s woes while staying well clear of the gundeck. 
Christine’s view of the market was it was behaving irrationally and almost certainly showing classic signs of a top, with dozens of corporations trading at values far, far beyond reality. She also believed that when the president of a trading investment bank was spending his time staging hugely expensive rallies for minority groups, that might have been the ultimate demonstration of a market peak. There was too much undeserved cash flying around, it was all too easy, and there was too much time to find oddball ways to spend it.

Vox further notes that "the Bush administration's pathological fixation on expanding homeownership among Hispanics played a contributing role in blowing the housing bubble". He's not at all wrong about this.

My own perspective on the subject is a bit different from Vox's, mostly because unlike him, I have worked (and still work as of this writing) in the banking industry. (I will even go so far as to disclose that I have worked alongside many ex-Lehmanites, in the same building that was once Lehman's global headquarters, though this was well after Lehman's actual bankruptcy.) My conclusions are roughly the same.

Diversity of all kinds is an article of faith amongst major Wall Street firms these days. It isn't quite so bad among middle office, operations, and IT staff, because these organisations recognise that the jobs that they do are critical to the functioning of any decent bank and cannot wait on political correctness. This is partly why banks have been able to get away with outsourcing vast amounts of their infrastructure. And it's still not quite so bad on the trading desks- there are very good reasons, which have everything to do with biology and aptitude and nothing whatsoever to do with political correctness, as to why trading desks are such male-heavy environments. There are very good reasons why the finance teams are largely female- and why the middle office teams, at least the good ones, are overwhelmingly male. After all, someone has to waste time doing PowerPoint presentations while guys like me are programming scripts and building spreadsheet pricers...

In higher levels of management, however, the diversity creed is endemic. I remember very clearly sitting in town hall meetings at my previous firm and having to listen to same vapid woman ask an almost all-male, all-white panel of very senior characters within the bank's organisation about plans for diversity and inclusion. To a man, you could see the panel almost imperceptibly cringe before a C-suite executive responded with some very sincere-sounding waffle about how the firm was "more committed than ever" to hiring the right talent for a diverse and inclusive workforce.

A workforce that emphasises "diversity" over actually getting things done and accurately managing risks will inevitably trip over itself. Lehman most assuredly did. So have other firms far outside the financial sector- I have good reason to believe that a certain giant pharma/medical/consumer company was led astray in no small part because quality control procedures implemented by most operating units within the company were ignored, quite blatantly, by the very units that have gotten that company into trouble, and those decisions were signed off by a "diverse" board of senior managers within that organisation.

There are some benefits to diversity- provided we are talking diversity of thinking rather than merely diversity of skin colour or gender. If you want a cohesive and competent workforce in which social trust is high and stupidity is minimised, vibrancy is often a route to disaster. When an idiotic idea can be rubber-stamped on the basis of "looking right" rather than being right, you know you're in for trouble.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Biography of a Wild Sigma

I realise that I'm borrowing rather liberally from the socio-sexual hierarchy that Vox (rightly) claims as his invention, but it applies well to this Daily Mail article, which is an excerpt from an upcoming biography of an artist named Lucian Freud:
So how did Lucian Freud manage to lure so many girls — most of them upper-crust and some many decades younger? Part of his allure, as his picture framer, Louise Liddell, put it simply, was that ‘he was dishy — always was.’ 
Even in his 80s, Lucian could walk into a room and turn heads. In his studio, he’d sit in a chair with his legs slung over its arms, almost louche in his pose and flexible as a teenager. And he had a magical ability to charm. 
Intellect and emotion collided in his life, as he used people to whom he was attracted to produce pictures which captured an intensely observed truth. 
He believed the human body was the most profound subject and he pursued a ruthless process of observation, using the forensic exactitude of a scientist dissecting an animal in a laboratory. His paintings were always more analytical than psychoanalytical; he never intended them to have a narrative. They merely showed what he saw and if the oddity of a zebra, rat or protruding leg gave rise to psychological interpretation, he would insist that he had merely painted what was before him.

The Greek sculptor Vassilakis Takis, who knew him well, estimated that Lucian had at least 500 lovers but never committed himself to any single woman for long.
Now I'm something of a barbarian when it comes to the (visual) arts, at least when it comes to anything done after, say, 1800, so honestly I have no idea who Lucian Freud is. All I can say is that, based on the article at least, this chap was an off-the-charts Sigma:

  • Extreme need for privacy
  • Severe introversion and pathological aloofness, even outright arrogance
  • Extremely charming when he wanted to be
  • Disregard, even outright contempt, for the rues and regulations of "polite" society
  • An obsessive, calculating genius
  • Absolute socio-sexual dominance- when required
  • Very little tolerance for other people's nonsense
Pretty much all of the Sigma attributes are right there. It is worth noting, of course, that Sigmas are complex creatures- as likely to turn into ruthless, Machiavellian, shadowy leaders of governments and arms manufacturers as they are to turn into devoted, loving family men (like Vox) who just happen to enjoy skewering the pretensions and stupidities of others (again, like Vox).

It is instructive to note the details presented in the photos in the article. Note the pictures of Freud- stern, unsmiling, intense. And then note the photograph of one of his many women with her eventual husband- a chap who looks chubby, gormless, and deeply uninspiring. The contrast in masculinity is striking.

Since this is a blog written and maintained by a deep introvert, writing largely for deep introverts when it comes to the subject of game, I'll note a few lessons to draw from Lucian Freud's life. I've written before about how the Sigma archetype is the one best suited towards the strengths- and weaknesses- possessed by almost all male deep introverts. Here's why.

First, note that his dedication to his art was absolute:

She was astonished by the sheer intensity of his focus while painting her: ‘I saw him stab himself with a paintbrush, wounding his thigh so that it bled,’ she said. ‘It was, he explained to me, like being the jockey and the racehorse, urging on with a manic compulsion.’
I've written it before, and I'll write it again: your mission comes first. Wine, women, and song are great, no question about that- I wouldn't be a very good metalhead if I thought otherwise- but in the absence of some overarching, driving Purpose, they are nothing more than hedonistic pursuits designed to fill a gaping void.

Second, note what I wrote above about the intensity and unsmiling charisma of Freud's photographs. Again, this is not accidental. Most Sigmas strongly dislike being photographed, it's part of their instinctive and deep-seated desire for privacy. In my case, I almost never smile for photographs- assuming you can pin me down for one, that is. Nor did my namesake- my parents named me after a famous filmmaker (I'm not going to divulge which one) who was known for almost never smiling in pictures taken of him, had a towering intellect and a formidable appearance in public, and was quite sparing with his words around people he didn't know well, and yet was extremely charming and easy-going in private. The lesson for a deeply introverted male here is simple: your tendency to be sparing with words and emotions is not a hindrance, it is an asset. Use it as such.

Third, note the outcome independence that characterised Lucian Freud's life. It's almost as though, after a few missteps, he simply didn't give a toss what most people- especially most of his lovers- thought about him. That sort of detachment from the superficiality of the outside world is exactly what deep introverts should aim to emulate. Let the noisy outside world do whatever it wants, as long as it leaves us the hell alone to do what we want. The moment that your own inner world is intruded upon, the only acceptable response is to ruthlessly excise that which has caused the disturbance.

I should also point out something very important: Sigmas, like Alphas, are good at being men but are not necessarily good men. The simplest example in the Daily Mail article comes from Freud's treatment of his younger brother- callous, cold-hearted, and often openly contemptuous. The difference is simple but profound. As noted above, Sigmas can become very cold, ruthless, and calculating if they do not correct their most dangerous misanthropic tendencies. If they do, they become rather like Vox- unswervingly loyal as friends and allies, utterly terrifying as enemies, great husbands and great fathers. It's really up to you which course you choose; all I can say based on my own experiences growing up with a deeply introverted yet very strong father is that the latter tends to be better for society as a whole.

Lucian Freud stands as a lesson in game to every deep introvert out there. This guy got more tail than all but the most prolific of rock stars, right up to the very end of his life, and yet seemed to want little more than to keep the rest of the world at bay. This, then, is surely a demonstration of the archetypical Sigma type.

Come And Claim Them!!!

Hot on the heels of recent news that two freedom-hating politicians in Colorado were recalled by a thoroughly pissed-off electorate, we now have news that Chicago- one of the most unfriendly places in the country when it comes to free exercise of the 2nd Amendment- has repealed its gun registration law:
Gun owners in Chicago no longer have to register firearms with local authorities, the New York Times reports
Chicago’s City Council reluctantly voted Wednesday to end the decades old registration policy in the wake of the new law allowing Illinois residents the right to carry concealed weapons in public. The modification follows the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th District December ruling that stated Illinois’s ban on public concealed carry was unconstitutional. So far, the Democratic-majority Legislature has struggled to balance the perceived needs of the people with the court ruling.
It's progress, I suppose. Unfortunately the sneaky bastards in charge of the city also decided that in addition to not being big fans of the 2nd Amendment, they aren't big fans of the 1st Amendment either:
Forced to weaken one of the nation's toughest gun-control laws, the Chicago City Council clearly signaled it wasn't backing down on Wednesday by banning concealed weapons in all bars and restaurants that sell liquor — and noting that attorneys were ready to fight the anticipated legal challenges. 
State legislators were forced by a federal appeals court in July to adopt a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the only state that still banned the practice. The resulting state law largely stripped city and county officials of their authority to regulate guns, which especially irked officials in Chicago, where residents had to apply for concealed-carry permits through the police chief. 
Aldermen reluctantly watered down that ordinance on Wednesday, but then approved the gun ban for bars and restaurants. They took turns defending the new ban and issued a lightly veiled challenge to gun-rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association.
First, just how big an idiot do you have to be to have a few drinks and then think that it's a good idea to use a gun in public? Apparently politicians think that we're all that stupid, which is a rather charming point of view, it must be said. Second, as far as I'm concerned, if you own a bar or restaurant and you don't want guns in your establishment, that is absolutely fine with me. It's your property, and therefore your rules are to be respected and obeyed by your clientele. For my part, I am under absolutely no obligation to patronise your establishment, so I'll take my business elsewhere.

See how that works? It's called "freedom of association". And evidently it's something that Chicago politicians think we can all do without. Again, charming...

Despite my oft-repeated and deep scepticism about whether Americans really understand or value their freedoms, it is good to see that some, at least, understand that certain freedoms are non-negotiable. To those who seek to remove arms from their fellow Americans by (ironically) force of arms, I simply have this to say- MOLON LABE, you bastards.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Crazy Cat Lady Plays the Blame Game

I was going to post about this Daily Mail article pretty much as soon as I read it, but naturally Vox, since he is both much smarter than me and blessed with far greater amounts of blogging time than I am, beat me to the punch. Sneaky bastard...

Anyway, I'm not going to pretend that I can dissect this particular bit of moonbattery better than Vox can, but I'll paste in a few quotes and then provide my own thoughts:
An older male friend - supposedly tired of me dominating dinner-party conversation - even wagged his podgy finger and told me I would never get married because I was too confident and demanding.

Then there was my dalliance with the criminal lawyer who, whenever we went to a party, criticised my hair, weight and choice of outfit before we set off. He was so terrified I might outshine him socially, he made sure I felt as bad as possible before I'd even got out of the door.

I might have a successful career as an author and broadcaster, but I have never been engaged, let alone married, and my longest relationship lasted just seven years.I'm convinced that the reason I'm still booking a table for one instead of settling down with a significant other is not because I'm a year off turning 50, but because men are so threatened by my intelligence.
What is it about supposedly intelligent women who think that raw intelligence appeals to men??? Is it really so difficult for such women to understand what men want? Well, judging by this particularly unpleasant specimen, and other such characters of my own personal acquaintance, I'd say that apparently it is.

Ladies, pay attention, because this is REALLY SIMPLE. I'll spell out what men want in words of one syllable (well... two at most). Men want a woman who is:
  • Sweet
  • Kind
  • Pleasant
  • Chaste (I realise that this is a relative term in modern Western society)
It really is that simple. Dress well, have long hair, maintain your figure, try not to smell funny, don't act like a tramp, and generally act like someone we would actually want to spend time with. Is this really that difficult to figure out?

This bit in particular was extremely funny, for all of the wrong reasons:
As far as I'm concerned, a dinner party isn't complete without a bit of an intellectual tussle during dessert - whether it be on the finer points of Ed Miliband taking on the trade unions, or President Obama playing a high-stakes game with President Putin over Syria.

But little did I know that by honing my neurons and showing my intellectual rigour, I was scuppering my chances of romantic success.
Now this is just idiotic. As a highly intelligent, highly skilled man who happens to work around other very smart people every day, let me put this as bluntly as I can: I deal with smart people, and in particular smart men, every single day at work, and while that is very stimulating and interesting, it is also a massive drain upon my own mental strength. What on Earth makes you think that I, or any other man for that matter, would want to come home and verbally spar with you after a long day at work? When I come home, I want to be around someone who is pleasant and soothing, not a man-jawed feminist who thinks her half-informed opinions are actually worthwhile.

I am fully aware that feminists will find this attitude chauvinistic and outrageous. I can't say I care for their feelings on the subject at all. For a counterexample of how to be an intelligent woman and good at being a woman, one need only look at my own mother. She has a Master's degree in International Relations. She is every bit as well-read as any of us, including me- she's the only one in my family who knows more about history than I do, in fact. She has taught the subject for decades and knows more about European and South East Asian history than I ever will- she taught me much of what I know about Japanese history simply because I was interested in the subject, beyond my school curriculum. She has also proven to be an excellent wife and mother, simply by virtue of the fact that she recognises that there is a time for intellectual debate, and a time for providing a relaxing and comforting home environment for the whole family.

This particular wingnut, on the other hand, seems to have no capacity for recognising any of this.

I found one of Vox's comments on this same article to be quite good:
The appeal of female intelligence is even more limited, mostly because it so often comes in the company of extremely annoying and unfeminine personality traits. This correspondence is exacerbated by the fact that the average smart boy has been punched in the face a few times for annoying his less intelligent peers, while the average smart girl has had her annoying behavior rewarded by adults without any similarly negative consequences.
Truth. As a child I was bullied a lot because I was extremely precocious. As a result I've learned to keep my trap shut in public, and I rarely let my guard down around other people until they have proven worthy of my trust. Highly intelligent, highly introverted men learn, usually very much the hard way (i.e. by being punched or wedgied) that their intelligence is neither useful nor desirable except in certain specific circumstances. Highly intelligent women are rarely slapped down for their lack of social adroitness and so get away with being extremely irritating until someone like Vox comes along to put them in their place.

If you are a man who has to deal with a bat-s*** crazy woman like this in your life, throw her ass to the kerb. You are wasting your time and your life dealing with that kind of moon-brained idiocy. And if you are a woman, especially an intelligent one who thinks that men are "intimidated" by you, understand this- we're not intimidated by you, we just can't stand you. Learn the difference, and save yourself (and by extension, us) a lot of time and trouble.

Israel Will Do Just Fine On Its Own

Molotov Mitchell from World Net Daily recently acquired one of the most difficult qualifications in the world- a black belt in Krav Maga:

Congratulations to him. Those who practice Krav Maga know only too well just how hard it is to get to that level- hell, yellow belt level is difficult enough, it takes months of practice just to get the fundamentals of the art down.

Krav Maga is unusual among martial arts in that you don't have to be a black belt in order to teach or open a studio. You just have to pass an instructor's course at a green belt level and then, preferably, achieve blue belt or higher before teaching. Of course, this sounds very easy- in reality it's likely the hardest thing you'll ever do. As Mitchell points out, there are very, very few bona fide black belts out there in the art- mostly because achieving black belt proficiency in the art is extremely difficult. There are, however, a fair few blue and brown belts teaching the art throughout the country- the KMF, for instance, has at least four brown belts that I know of that teach regularly under its auspices.

The other point that he makes in the video is worth paying attention to. Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and the 40th anniversary of the one and only war where Israel truly got its ass kicked. Even though Israel emerged victorious from that war, its aura of military invincibility was shattered forever. Subsequent conflicts have restored that reputation to a considerable degree- of all of the world's military forces, I personally rate the Israelis, pound for pound, as the very best- but there is no question that Israel faced its day of reckoning during that war.

Yet even that was not enough to destroy them. And if the Jews have proven anything over their more than 5,000-year-long history as a race, it is that they are resilient beyond mortal understanding.

On this day it is worth remembering those who died in one of the most vicious conflicts ever fought by any sovereign nation. And it is also worth remembering a lesson that Molotov Mitchell outlines very nicely in his video: Israel doesn't need anyone's help in defending itself.

Think about it. Krav Maga is taught to every single service-eligible Israeli, male and female. This is a fighting system where the "martial" part is everything- there is very little artistry to a roundhouse punch designed to break your nose, or a release from a headlock designed to gouge out your eye and then take you to the floor. It is taught to a people who have known persecution since their earliest days as a united race. The Philistines couldn't destroy them. The Egyptians couldn't crush them. The Romans couldn't annihilate them. The Muslims couldn't eradicate them. The Christians couldn't subjugate them. The Arabs couldn't drive them into the sea. Thus it has always been, thus it very likely always will be.

So why, then, do Americans continue to think that intervening in the Middle East on Israel's behalf is a good idea? Far more bloodthirsty races than yours, or the Syrians, have tried and failed to eradicate the Tribes of David before. All have failed. I say, leave them the hell ALONE and let them figure out how to fight their own wars. History tends to show that they've been pretty good at doing precisely that.