Monday, 29 September 2014

"Ten simple rules for dating my (eventually) teenage daughter"

One Marcus Luttrell- you might know him better as the man who wrote a certain book called Lone Survivor, which was later turned into a film starring Hollywood's closest thing to a genuine badass, Mark Wahlberg- recently posted a list of things that his two-year-old daughter's future boyfriends will have to do in order to be worthy of his little girl. It makes for some great reading, that's for sure:


Every father who has ever had a daughter can relate to this. Hell, most brothers with kid sisters can relate.

Daughters, and much younger sisters, are infinitely precious to fathers and older brothers. We love them because they are innocent and wonderful, because they give us the opportunity to be the strong masculine guardians and role models that our own innate natures demand we be.

And every father who truly loves his little girl can tell you that there is nothing he dreads more than the prospect of some young man coming along and robbing his darling daughter of her innocence. It's an eventuality that we all prepare for, we all hate to think about, but we inevitably have to face it.

Some of us handle it a bit better than others. Whenever my sister told me that she couldn't talk at our usual kaffeeklatsch time on weekends when she was in college, I would immediately ask if she was going out on a date. On the very few occasions where she actually was, my reply was pretty simple: "OK, have fun, but not too much- and remember that I'll be right here cleaning out my shotgun, just in case."

For some odd reason, she did not find this funny. I really don't get why- in my opinion, there is nothing more enjoyable for a real older brother than beating the ever-lovin' snot out of some jerkwad that disrespects his kid sister.

I remember with particular amusement and pleasure the one time she related to me the fact that she'd met what sounded like the most weedy Gamma male possible for a dinner date. She got rather annoyed when I did my usual protective-older-brother thing and said point-blank that she really didn't want me trying to enforce my "he breaks your heart, I break his legs" rule, since this chap was apparently quite a lot smaller than me.

Ultimately, a father's job is to provide the safety, security, and unquestionable authority that makes good daughters grow up to become good women. It sounds like Marcus Luttrell, despite the odd spelling mistake here and there, is off to a rather good start.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Life on "Mythic"

A reader, who shall for the moment remain anonymous, emailed me recently to note how he had recently taken a bit of a nasty spill and injured his back. He was in quite a bit of pain when it happened, but he knew that if he didn't make light of it, he would never really recover from it. So he laughed it off, got back to what he was doing, and proceeded to put on a great performance.

He then noted that, after about a week, the injury was almost completely healed. And he pointed out that if something similar had happened to him just a few years ago, he would not only still be in pain, he would be weeks away from making a full recovery. Be it noted, the reader in question ain't no spring chicken.

Why such a radical difference in healing time and recovery?

Simple. It comes down to one's mental resilience.

When I expressed some sympathy at the fact that the reader in question had suffered a lower back injury- I know from firsthand and very painful experience just how debilitating such injuries can be- said reader responded with the following (very slightly edited) statement:
What these many changes in perspective have done for my life is too big to even try to explain. I just decided to act like a man. Get up when you fall, try to never complain, use logic, ditch self pity, do your job better than yesterday, etc., and so on. My health is changed completely as well. Two years ago, this would have taken weeks to get over.
Too right. This is what it takes to succeed in this life. It isn't easy. It isn't simple. It is a path filled with pain, suffering, agony and sweat and devotion.

And for all of that, it is the path that yields the greatest rewards.

It is natural and normal to find oneself confronting life's most difficult challenges, and looking to choose the easy way out. The problem is that if one always seeks the easy route, one will never be prepared for true adversity when it comes knocking.

I've been seeing statements along the lines of, "taking the Red Pill means accepting the necessity of living life on hard mode".

For those who have played "Gears of War", this equates to playing at the "Insane" level of difficulty; for those who play and love HALO, like me, it's more like playing on "Legendary", at all times, with ALL skulls enabled.

This is a special mode known as "Mythic", and it is very nearly impossible for a single player to get through without giving up at some point.

This is a very accurate description of what happens to you when you start taking heavy doses of hard truths. Suddenly, you begin to see the price that the easy and simple choices impose upon you.

At that point, many men- far too many- turn away from the path laid before them and decide to go back to the easy, comfortable, soma-induced seductive visions that modern society offers them. They conclude that it would be less painful and less difficult to simply accept the soft comforts and easy lies of the modern world, instead of questioning themselves and their purpose, and building for themselves the lives that they truly want to live.

In such a state, one can easily believe that the path to happiness is to go to college, pay tens of thousands of dollars every year to learn a worthless subject, and graduate with crushing student debts. It is easy to believe that one should then start working in a government job or multinational corporation, pretending that one's work has actual value beyond that of filing meaningless reports and creating mindless PowerPoint presentations that convey less than zero information. It is simple to think that one should get married without a prenup to the nearest woman who shows any kind of superficial commitment and who is interested in settling down- never mind her past sexual history, her potential as a mother and wife and partner, or her likelihood of actual fidelity.

It is comforting to think that one should never go anywhere near the squat rack in the gym, that one should stick strictly to isolation exercises and never try to push oneself as hard as possible to reach one's maximum strength and power.

It is all too straightforward to accept the mindless consumerist culture of the modern world, and to turn one's back on the harsh yet timeless Truth of the Word of the Lord. It is convenient to argue that the words of the Bible are outmoded and simplistic, out of touch with the needs and realities of modern society- despite the fact that the Word has held true for more than six thousand years.

Life on "Mythic" mode is the exact opposite of all of these things. It comes down to a fundamental shift in beliefs and behaviour. Ultimately, you accept responsibility for your own actions and their outcomes. You accept that you, and you alone, are arbiter and shaper of your own destiny. You accept the Word of God as literal Truth, and you understand that although His compassion for you is infinite, it comes with certain and very specific conditions.

You accept that your health, your welfare, your financial security, and your physical well-being are your responsibility and no one else's.

More than anything else, you accept that the only way forward is to embrace an attitude of mental fortitude and strength.

Doing this is NOT easy. Nor should it ever be.

It is not easy to pick oneself up after a hard fall, in front of a large number of bystanders, and laugh it off.

It is not easy to fail repeatedly when trying to find women for sex and love.

It is not easy to go into the gym and put oneself through workouts that bring mind and body to, and often beyond, their breaking points.

It is not easy to do squats, bench presses, and deadlifts with good form to the greatest extent possible without taking steroids and testosterone supplements, while others at the gym walk around with puffed-up bodies and spend half the time in the gym and seem to get better superficial results.

It is not easy to embrace a life of zero debt, living within one's means to the maximum extent possible, when one's peers are living large on credit, driving flash cars and taking up residence in luxurious homes.

It is not easy to disappoint one's family and their expectations that one settle down and raise a family as soon as possible, because one insists on preserving one's independence and spirit for as long as possible.

There is nothing easy or simple about this road. It requires terrible sacrifices, real pain, and the ability to embrace the challenges of adversity, no matter when and how they come about. It requires resilience of mind and spirit. It requires a degree of self-belief that most men will never have.

So why would any sane man ever undertake to live life like this, when the alternatives are so much easier, so much more superficially rewarding?

Because those illusory "rewards" are always revealed as the siren's song that lures unwary listeners to their doom.

When you live life on "Mythic"- when you accept the responsibility that is yours as a free man to live life on your terms, with full recognition of the consequences that this entails- you accept the rewards that come with that life too.

You accept a life lived on your terms. Even if you are employed by someone else, you accept that it is on you to develop skills and abilities that are independent of your job, and that can be transferred elsewhere.

You accept that it is your responsibility to take care of yourself and your health. You understand and accept the gifts of the Iron God. You accept the fact that he respects only strength, courage, and resilience. You willingly pay the terrible price that he demands of you in terms of time and commitment and mental discipline- because the rewards that he offers, in terms of health and strength, are more than worth it.

You accept women for what they are. You harbour neither illusions nor pretensions about their fundamental natures.

You accept the need to laugh off adversity, to deal with challenges with laconic good humour and a sense of long-term perspective.

You understand that we, as men, must be strong at our very cores, because if we are not, we will crumble and wash away like so much sand before the tides of time.

This road that you embark upon never ends. At certain points it forks and turns back upon itself. It is hard and rocky and painful at every step. There is nothing easy about taking it.

But ultimately, you will find great rewards and great comforts along that road- not least in the fact that your life will have been lived on your terms, and no one else's.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Career, family, and happiness- choose two

Pretty much that.

In which a Telly writer asks why the story of PIMCO investment chief Mohamed El-Erian's decision to quit his job to be with his family was such a huge deal:
I do hope you’re sitting down. A story has broken which caused its main protagonist to state: “If I had known that there would be this media circus, I would've done a lot of things differently.” Forget Isis and a flaming Middle East….a man has talked about quitting his job to be a parent. Dah.Dah.Dah!

Now before you stop reading because I’ve totally undermined the premise of my own ramblings, this is a big deal, and not - as I presumed upon reading the story this morning - because time-travel has been invented and we’re reading this in the 1950s.

It’s a big, irritating, stupid deal because women quit their jobs every single day because they feel the weight of parental guilt; they commonly leave jobs they love because they’re collapsing with the exhaustion of running a house and keeping husbands and bosses (relatively) happy. They are flat out from knowing which kids need which PE kit on which days of the week and which ones are being bullied and which ones are posting naked selfies online. They are quitting jobs – even though they need the money – because ‘having it all’ has become an ironic slogan of noughties naivety.

And in the middle of this meltdown along comes a 56-year-old man, Mohamed El-Erian, who thanks to his daughter’s awesome guilt-trip has a Damascene conversion because his “need to be a good father was greater than his need to be a good investor”. Oh yes – I forgot to mention that bit: when he made this historical decision he was the head of a $1.9 trillion bond business (Pimco, the world's biggest), living in a Brangelina-style LA mansion with a pool, tennis courts and an army of staff. He made $100 million in 2011 alone. Gee, it must have been so hard to make that call… [Didact: Actually, I suspect it was very difficult, for reasons I'll outline below.] 
Had this been the heart-breaking tale of a single-father on the verge of poverty who left his cleaning job to spend time with his 10-year-old daughter who does homework by candle-light whilst surviving on dry corn-flakes, I’d have been slightly more moved (and waiting for Kay Mellor to write an ITV drama out of it), but the depiction of Mohamed El-Erian as making some sort of radical sacrifice is at best bizarre and at worst pernicious. 
It contains the assumption that super-wealthy men are somehow more virile, more masculine and couldn’t possibly leave the thrusting world of global banking to do the school-run. [Didact: Anyone who says this has clearly never seen the insane schedule of meetings and conference calls that senior executives have to deal with.] Ask any parent – whether they hoover up carpets or spare financial assets – and they will tell you that parenting well is tougher than any job outside the home. Negotiating commissions on a $50million deal is a piece of p*** compared to getting a determined 10-year-old to clean her teeth. Coincidentally, it was that very situation which tipped El-Erian over the edge: “About a year ago,” he wrote: “I asked my daughter several times to do something - brush her teeth, I think it was - with no success. I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded, and I wouldn’t have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious. She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments. Talk about a wake-up call. The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t yet over.I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos…”
As is unfortunately becoming endemic among Telegraph writers, Ms. Turner seems to think that men and women are more or less interchangeable, and that therefore it is no big deal to talk about dads who quit their jobs to spend more time with their families, given that mums do it all the time.

To argue this is to think that men and women are also interchangeable as breadwinners within families. That is most assuredly not the case. In most families, even in today's decadent and collapsing West, the father is the breadwinner and spends most of his time out of the home, working; the mother stays at home to raise the kids.

There are, of course, exceptions- particularly if both parents happen to work in the financial services industry and live in an expensive city, like, say, New York, where it is practically required that both parents work full-time in order to afford the basics. (Personally I think you'd have to have a few screws loose to want to raise a child in Manhattan, and most of the people that I know who have done this have not exactly done anything to persuade me otherwise.)

It is much easier for a mother to walk away from her job to be with her children than it is for a father, both for biological and practical reasons.

Biologically, a mother's bond with her children is intimate, familiar, and immediate- the physical and emotional bonds are formed pretty much right from the moment that a child starts breast-feeding. A father's bonds with his children are qualitatively different- not necessarily any less strong, but a father's role is more hands-off, as a source of unquestionable authority and guidance. And in order to be that source of authority, a father does need a certain level of distance that would never work for a mother.

Practically, of course, it's quite simple: women work fewer hours than men do to begin with, they work less challenging jobs, they take fewer risks, and they are far less willing to trade free time for better pay. There happen to be very good reasons why the glass ceiling exists- and most of them are ones that women create for themselves, whether they like it or not.

It is also important to understand that men and women put very different values and emphases on career progression. Men are defined by (among other things) the desire to engage in competition, risk-taking, and hard work. A high-flying career is a natural end result of these traits. Women are defined by very different values and attributes, which is partly why you see so few female CEOs. (Well, that, and the reality that companies led by female CEOs generally do not outperform the overall market. There are, inevitably and unsurprisingly, specific exceptions.)

This is a large part of the reason why men in high-flying careers find it extraordinarily difficult to balance out their home lives with their work lives.

I've seen this happen in my own family. During most of my early life- right up to my mid-teens- I barely saw my father during the week. He'd be travelling sometimes three weeks out of every month. His job kept him working at all hours, always busy and always moving around- I'd lived in four different countries by the time I was 18, solely because of my father's job.

Normally this sort of thing results in tremendous strain on a man's family life and usually the end result is a nasty divorce and kids who grow up alienated from their father. It goes without saying that this is a horrible outcome for all concerned.

My father, and by extension the rest of us, avoided this thanks to three major factors.

First, he has always been a family man- literally all he ever cared about was work and family, and that's it, and although he loved his job and the company he worked for, he loved us more. Most high-flying executives would spend their weekends going on golf outings with their buddies; my dad hates golf (which is almost surely where I get my peculiar distaste for that so-called "sport"), and liked nothing better than to spend the weekends at home with us, or going out to the movies with my mum, my sister (when she came along), and me.

Second, my mother never tried to manipulate us against him. She never tried to hold his time away over his head- she always supported his career aspirations and never once tried to turn us against him, even though I am pretty sure that my dad's travelling put some strain on their marriage.

Third, and most importantly, when it came time to decide between family and career, my father chose family. A couple of years after I left for college, my dad was told that he would shortly be reassigned to another country. At the time my sister was in grade school, and he didn't want to force her to move to another country and another school, and have to rebuild all of her social networks yet again. So instead of taking the easy choice for his career, he made the hard choice for his family- a choice that imposed significant financial stresses upon him and which resulted in radical changes in lifestyle for all of us.

I believe to this day that he made the right choice. I admire and respect him immensely for doing what he believed to be right. And he has never once regretted turning his back on his career to spend more time with us.

This is the nature of the choice that Mr. El-Erian faced. (There is considerable speculation that he actually resigned because of several knock-down, drag-out fights with PIMCO CEO Bill Gross. That could very well be true too.) The hardship involved in the choice may not be financial- but there is hardship involved.

If you've ever seen what happens to a man who worked a busy, challenging, exciting and rewarding career when he retires or cuts back significantly on his work, you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about. I've seen it happen when my dad retired. Suddenly he went from being a bigshot executive in a massive multinational company to, well, a retiree. The adjustment was massive and wrenching. It made him cranky and cantankerous; he went from having a fairly mellow and long-fused disposition to being prone to blowing up pretty much without warning. It took him years to adjust to the change in pace and lifestyle.

This is the reality that Ms. Turner simply refuses to acknowledge while she's scratching her head wondering what the hell the fuss is about. Gender roles exist for a reason. Choices that a woman could make and handle without much difficulty would be nearly impossible for a man to make without significant hardship and consequences- and I'd like to see a woman make the kinds of sacrifices that I've seen my father and his professional peers make without suffering for them. Every high-flying female executive with a family that I've ever seen has had her kids raised by nannies and day-care centres, and many times children with such mothers turn out rather less than well-adjusted.

Whether you're a man or a woman, if you choose career over family, well, that's on you, it's your choice, and as long as you accept the consequences, more power to you. And if you choose the reverse, again, that's on you. But don't then criticise others for making different choices for good reasons.

It's not difficult to figure out which one is objectively better for society.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Support Team Europe!

With tongue planted quite firmly in cheek, of course:

I think I may have mentioned in the past that I have a rather thorough distaste for golf. I dislike pretty much everything about golf- golfists, golf bats, golf clubs, the lot.

But when it comes to poking fun at Europeans, Americans, and ridiculous trousers all at once, I'm with Nigel Farage on this one.

Though, given that he's thoroughly taking the piss here* and is doing this specifically to advertise for a gambling company, I wouldn't recommend taking him too seriously. Just this once.

Especially with those trousers. Ye cats.

* Note to any Americans reading- this is an English phrase, which comes from a language that the British Empire tried and very sadly failed to introduce to this country. Since by definition you people don't speak a proper language, I shall attempt to translate it as: "making fun of an object of derision". I hope that clears it up. Cheers, The Didact.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

iPhone 6 repair kit

Via Didact Sr.:
Sold at a ridiculous markup. Just like the iPhone.
I'm a FanDroid myself, so I simply do not see the point of buying such an absurdly overpriced, walled-off, inflexible gadget.

And it would appear that, now that St. Jobs has passed on, Apple is in fact dropping the ball as far as quality control goes. It's not anything endemic, at least not yet, but if you're going to pay damn near $1,000 for what effectively amounts to a very pretty paperweight, you shouldn't be seeing bad software updates and possible bending of the product within one week of buying it.

Of course, if you had to choose between an iPhone and a Windows OS phone- which is sort of like having to choose between genital herpes and crabs- then, if you really really have no choice, go with Apple. I'm not saying it's a good choice, it's just better than going with Windows.

Ah, yes, the almighty Blue Screen of Death. Now in mobile form.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Restoring sight to the blind

I recently had the opportunity to re-establish contact with an old acquaintance of mine from college. She and I have done very little to keep in touch other than my sending her an annual happy-birthday email; beyond that, we've not seen each other in nearly ten years. It was with some interest, then, that I learned about the different paths that we have taken over time.

Just how different our paths have been, though, came through very clearly when I told her about my recent trip to Israel.

That trip, as I have made clear, was an experience unlike any other. I loved every minute of it, and I want nothing more than to go back to the Holy Land, to see it again, and to experience the magic of the land that the Israelites have cultivated for their own. Their country is a realm of wonders, maintained and enhanced by the sacrifice and toil of everyday folk who want nothing more than to live in peace and quiet under the laws of Almighty God.

Of course, not everyone thinks this way.

My friend has spent all of her life in Europe. She has been exposed to almost nothing other than European media and European modes of thought. We also both went to a very left-wing university; the difference between us is that I realised early on, even then, just how idiotic most left-wing thinking is, and quickly distanced myself from it. As a result, on the subject of Israel and the Palestinian problem, she thinks very much like a European.

It was interesting to see just how blinkered the European view of Israel really is. Here, in heavily redacted and edited form, are her arguments against Israel's recent conduct in its latest war against its enemies:

  • Israel has a right to exist; yet, because the ends do not justify the means, it is immoral to support Israel's uses of its right to self-defence.
  • Israel is vastly richer and stronger than Palestine, therefore it is wrong to support them.
  • Hamas uses dead children for propaganda, but how is that any worse or different from Israel's massive political lobby in the USA and the ways in which Israel uses that power?
  • The conflict between the Jews and the Arabs has been ongoing for generations now, and probably cannot be solved except by extreme methods, which are always and everywhere wrong because there is no peaceful resolution possible.
  • One cannot call all Palestinians terrorists, even though most Palestinians hate the Jews.
  • If we are to solve this conflict, the world needs to setup an international buffer zone under the UN to stop both sides from killing each other.
I think I have made my position on the Israel issue very clear through various posts on the subject. I am a Zionist because I am a nationalist. I absolutely believe that sovereign nations have every right to defend themselves, their borders, and their people against foreign aggression.

Unlike many Americans, though, I am at best deeply ambivalent about, and at worst thoroughly opposed to, the idea of meddling in Israel's affairs. Israel is perfectly capable of taking care of itself- we're all much better off leaving Israel the hell alone to do what it does best: killing its enemies quickly and brutally, and destroying their ability to fight, while maintaining a defensive and non-expansionist posture to the greatest extent possible.

Because of this, my response to my friend went something like this (again, edited and redacted):
My dear XYZ, 
There is no point in attempting to explain colour to the blind. The truths on the ground are self-evident- I saw them in Israel when I was there myself. I do not hope to convince you of the validity of my arguments; there is scarcely any point in attempting to convince those who do not wish to see. All I can do is point out the facts and hope that at some point, you figure out the truth for yourself. 
You say that Israel has a right to exist. If so, by definition you logically agree that Israel has a right to defend itself. You cannot have one without the other- they are two sides of the same coin. If so, you must also acknowledge the wanton aggression that Israel has had to deal with for the past 10 years. For a decade, they have endured daily rocket attacks from enemies who are literally at- and in some cases under- their doorstep. They have withstood kidnappings, murders, and bombings. In the face of severe and never-ending provocations, the Israelis have exercised restraint and caution, and only when it became clear that there would be no diplomatic settlement did they engage in a military operation. 
So you tell me- who is morally right? 
You say that Israel is far richer and stronger than Palestine. Did you ever wonder how they got that way? The Israelites did it through hard work, trade, and economic growth- slowly, painfully, with many mistakes along the way. The Palestinians, like most Arabs, are economic basket-cases. They have received nearly half a billion dollars in aid from American taxpayers alone, and that's just under the Obama so-called "administration", and all they do is funnel that money toward weapons and propaganda and hatred, instead of building roads and schools and infrastructure. 
So you tell me- who has the greater wisdom? 
You say that the Israelis have an extremely powerful political lobby here in the USA, and that is unquestionably true. You forget, though, that whenever Israel goes to war- with complete justification each and every time due to the duress of extreme provocation- it does so with the entire weight of world opinion against it. Recently a number of high-profile movie stars and celebrities signed an open letter condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian homes and hospitals- but they never stopped to acknowledge the fact that the Israelis heed the Laws of War to a degree never seen before in the history of human warfare. Despite what you have been taught to believe, the Israelis do not indiscriminately target civilians; they warn their enemies well ahead of time to evacuate, and have repeatedly called off strikes on legitimate enemy targets for fear of killing the innocent. 
The leadership of Hamas, by contrast, tells those same civilians to stay in place, to become targets for Israeli bombs, and uses their deaths to paint Israel in the worst possible light. They succeed, too, because the world sees what it wants to see. 
So you tell me- who is the more humane, the more decent? 
You say that this conflict can never have a peaceful resolution, yet you never acknowledge the real reason why. When Ehud Barak was Prime Minister of Israel, he made a peace offering of unprecedented scale and scope to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian people. He offered full statehood, international recognition, financial aid, and Jerusalem as a split capital of both nations. He offered to pull settlers out of the occupied territories, to end the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, and to turn over vast amounts of Israeli territory to the Palestinians, all in the name of peace. 
Arafat's response was to depart the peace talks in a whirlwind of publicity and go on a "magical mystery tour", as President Clinton angrily called it at the time, of the Arab nations, who warmly greeted a thug and a terrorist as a great leader. 
Israel has done everything possible to secure peace- has done more than any other nation in history, has conceded everything she could short of destroying herself as a nation. And yet the Palestinians will accept no peace that does not come from seeing every last Jew driven into the sea and killed outright. 
So you tell me- who truly wants peace, and who truly wants war? 
You say that we need an international buffer zone to stop the Jews and the Arabs from killing each other. You forget that this was part of the original terms of partition in 1947. Jerusalem was to become an international city, administered by the UN. That lasted about as long as peace did between the Jews and the Palestinians following the Declaration of Independence- which is to say, all of about five minutes. This has been tried before. It has failed. And it is beyond dispute that Israel's sovereign borders are now its own to defend as it sees fit- no other nation should ever have any say in the subject during peacetime, and certainly not a body as corrupt, as useless, and as deeply misguided as the United Nations. 
In the end, the facts are what they are. It is up to you to decide what you will do with them. All I can do is try to point them out.
I would not be the least bit surprised if this friend of mine suddenly and mysteriously stopped responding to any and all future communication. That is the price for telling it like it is- you lose friends, you alienate people, and you end up suffering for it. Just ask the early Christians- they could tell you all about it.

As Lt. Col. Nathan V. Dubois points out in Starship Troopers, all moral instincts and moral laws are derived from the simple necessities of survival. If your survival is at stake, whether at a personal or a national level, the only legitimate response is to do whatever it takes to ensure that survival.

Israel faces a fight to survive every single day. Unsurprisingly, their views of what is and is not moral conduct in war have been shaped by this simple but profound imperative. They have developed a doctrine of war that is more humane- if war can ever be called that- than any other on Earth. Their military is geared toward defending Israel's territory, not launching massive offensive operations of long-term occupation.

Ultimately, this never-ending war will only be won when the Israelis confront the horrifying, inevitable, and stark truth: that in order to secure a lasting peace, they will need to follow the Biblical example that the Lord set for them.

Or, as Col. Kratman recently put it:
To take that last first, the sentiment might go like this: “Dear Europe: We are someday going to have to go full Auschwitz on the Palestinians, a simple example-setting Lidice or two won’t do. So sorry, but when it’s that or death for us, they lose. We know you could probably defeat us if you a) really tried and b) could somehow cooperate without the Americans in charge. Then, too, you might actually try under pressure of the ICOTESCAS (International Community of the Ever so Caring and Sensitive). That will be the end of us, of course, if you can work together, and so if you try we’re going to kill your people in job lots and do our level best to extinguish your civilization. So if we have to go full on Endlosing with the Palis, boys and girls, you need to acquire a strong sense of Keep Your Fracking Hands Off!” 
Yeah, that’s pretty extreme, but, ya know, “Survival Cancels Programming.
This, indeed, is the only way to achieve peace: with the outright annihilation of one people by another.

I do not say that this is what I want. I do not claim that it will be just or right. I do argue that it is inevitable. And when- not if, but when- that day comes, the world will suddenly wake up to realise that the truth does not depend on your "perspective"; it simply is what it is.

And you cannot try to force someone to see it. You would find it easier to restore sight to the blind.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Ye cannae ha' yer cake and eat it too, laddie...

I've met the people. They're not too bad... as long as they're drunk.
So Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom- and judging by the poll results, it wasn't even close in most areas. It would appear that the pro-Unionist "No" campaign's arguments were given a bit of lead in the old pencil thanks to political promises from all three parties in Westminster to give almost complete political autonomy to Scotland.

The solution they've concocted is called "devo max", for some idiotic reason, which in plain English- a language that they used to speak over in Great Britain, and which they attempted, in vain, to export here to these 'ere 'eathen lands- simply means "Home Rule". It would be like Washington, D.C., ceding complete control over almost every possible area of civic law to the several states. It would be like Alaska having completely different laws about fisheries, immigration, education, welfare, health care, social services, sports, and tourism, than Nebraska or Wyoming or Texas. The only responsibilities that Scotland would cede to Westminster would be on issues of national defence, Constitutional law (yes, the British do have their own Constitution- it just isn't as clean or quite as brilliant as yours) and foreign affairs.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a brilliant idea.

In fact, it should be extended all the way to ALL of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. That means that Wales, Northern Ireland, and England itself should be treated exactly the same way. And indeed, Wales and Scotland are now effectively sovereign states bound in loose confederation with the overall government in London, which is how things bloody well ought to be.

However, there is one (rather large) fly in the ointment here.

At present, Welsh and Scottish MPs can vote on British affairs- but English MPs cannot reciprocate. This is very much a part of the reason why Britain has been going into leftist lunacies for the last 40 years- because the left-wing Labour Party's core constituencies are in precisely the ones that get to vote on English policies.

If you actually look at England, as a whole, it's a pretty centrist patch of Earth. The Tories are not exactly "conservatives" by American reckoning- for the most part they're more like slightly right-of-centre Democrats. They largely agree with basic British social compacts like nationalised health care and state-run education and gun control... the bastards... (I imagine that in the current political lexicon they'd be considered a particularly neutered form of "Blue Dog Democrat".) As conservatives go, by American standards they're a bunch of milquetoasts.

But they are conservative about basic social values and, up to a point, about who spends the money paid by their constituents to the tax system.

The problem is that these conservatives keep getting outvoted on issues of economic or social policy simply because the traditional left-wing Labour strongholds tend to be in precisely the old industrial areas that used to be housed in Scotland and Wales, and are now staunchly hard-left.

If the poll for Scottish independence showed us anything (other than the fact that the Scots are by and large a bunch of drunk Communists who are nevertheless rather difficult to dislike- God does love drunks and fools, after all), it showed us that home rule is not only justified but necessary. Liberty flourishes when laws are made and enforced as closely as possible to the people that are affected by them. When laws are passed upon the people of one nation due to the interference and proclivities of people from another, the inevitable end result is war- how do you suppose America came about, after all, eh?

The Scots had their chance to vote for independence. They blew it. They're stuck as part of the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future- I am reminded, incidentally, of a comment left by Canadian reader Spartan on my last post on this subject, talking about how when Quebec voted for independence and lost, the rest of Canada was heard remarking in snide fashion about how they polled the wrong set of people. I suspect that if the English had their way, the Scots would be their own nation by now, and good luck to them.

By far the best test of any English politician's character from now until the next British Parliamentary election is going to be whether or not he supports home rule for England as well. The Welsh, the Irish, and now the Scots have secured home rule- it is high time that the English get what is rightfully theirs as well.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet. 
The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags and dames.
We liked their smiles and battles, but we never could say their names.
The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French lords went down;
There was naught but a naked people under a naked crown.
And the eyes of the King's Servants turned terribly every way,
And the gold of the King's Servants rose higher every day.
They burnt the homes of the shaven men, that had been quaint and kind,
Till there was no bed in a monk's house, nor food that man could find.
The inns of God where no man paid, that were the wall of the weak.
The King's Servants ate them all. And still we did not speak. 
And the face of the King's Servants grew greater than the King:
He tricked them, and they trapped him, and stood round him in a ring.
The new grave lords closed round him, that had eaten the abbey's fruits,
And the men of the new religion, with their bibles in their boots,
We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or discuss,
And some were pure and some were vile; but none took heed of us.
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face was proud and pale;
And a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale. 
A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people's reign: 
And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again.
Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought,
And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke;
And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke. 
Our patch of glory ended; we never heard guns again.
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle; he was foolish, as if in pain,
He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a cringing Jew,
He was stricken; it may be, after all, he was stricken at Waterloo.
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men, whose spoil is in his house,
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last carouse:
We only know the last sad squires rode slowly towards the sea,
And a new people takes the land: and still it is not we. 
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs. 
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
-- "The Secret People", by G.K. Chesterton 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

"It's not MY fault that I posted nude photos of myself online!"

The utter absurdity of her statements aside, it is actually genuinely impressive to see a woman playing the gender, race, and criminal cards all at the same time, all in the same statement:
After the dust appeared to have settled from the storm created by the alleged hacking of celebrity iCloud accounts, a new wave of stolen nude celebrity photos have been published online - and actress Gabrielle Union confirmed the photos of her are genuine. 

Union said in a statement to TMZ alongside her husband Dwyane Wade 'it has come to our attention it has come to our attention that our private moments, that were shared and deleted solely between my husband and myself, have been leaked by some vultures.'
'I can’t help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, [Didact: Lord, here we go...] have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them,' the statement also said. 'These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide.' 
In the wake of the stolen images, Union is reaching out to the FBI, TMZ reported.

'For anyone out there also being affected by these and other hacking and hate crimes - We send our love, support and prayers,' the statement also said. ' We have done nothing wrong.' [Didact: Other than posting naked pictures of yourself on a cloud service that can be hacked, that is...]

The other previously unseen images are alleged to feature reality TV star Kim Kardashian, American goalkeeper Hope Solo and actresses Kaley Cuoco and Vanessa Hudgens. 
They also reportedly include Nashville star Hayden Panettiere, singer Avril Lavigne and actress-turned-fashion designer Mary-Kate Olson. 
It comes just three weeks after naked photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence and '100 other stars', including supermodel Kate Upton and actress Aubrey Plaza, were published online. 
Although most of the latest victims were named on an original list of targeted celebrities, posted by a hacker to the anonymous image-sharing forum 4chan last month, Kim, also 33, was not.
In case you're wondering exactly who Gabrielle Union is, she was in a couple of movies that I actually like. Not because she was in them, but because they were genuinely fun to watch: "10 Things I Hate About You" and "Bad Boys II". (Insert mocking remarks about the Didact's extremely poor taste in movies in  the comments below.)

Evidently she now wants to be known for a complete lack of understanding about how legal documents- like, say the Terms & Conditions agreements that are part and parcel of Apple's iCloud service- work.

I went over this once before, when, much to my (immense) amusement, the world's media outlets positively exploded in righteous outrageously outrageous OUTRAGE at how big mean horrible boys were picking on these poor little girlies.

What the world's media quickly seemed to conveniently forget is that these are all fully grown adult women who are, or at least should be, held responsible for their own actions and decisions. (I realise that this is a highly implausible stretch of logic and imagination in the case of certain women like Jennifer Lawrence, or Kim Kardashian.)

Look, it's really simple. If you are a woman, and a reasonably attractive one at that, and you take naked or topless pictures of yourself and post them online, you are putting yourself and your reputation at risk. If you decide to do that, it's your problem. You're using a service that is by definition not completely secure.

There is no way short of using quantum cryptography to create an unbreakable, unhackable security protocol. If you create a password that is easy to guess and you insist on posting nude pictures of yourself online and sharing them with other users (whether they be husbands or boyfriends of FBs or whatever), well, that's on YOU.

Also, I find it rather difficult to believe that some of these women are all that broken up about what happened.

In that Daily Mail article, there is a video of Kim Kardashian doing something that I imagine she is very good at doing: taking her top off and flashing people. I'm not going to link to that video simply because the woman severely annoys me. These are not the actions of a woman who is ashamed at the fact that the results of her private life are being plastered all over the world. (Actually, given that she's the "star" of a "reality" show, I'm not sure she even has any understanding of the term "private life".)

This is not, and should not be interpreted as, an attempt to excuse the conduct of those who actually hacked these celebrity accounts and stole private property, by the way. Those who committed these acts were openly trespassing on private property, flagrantly disrespected personal privacy rights, and abused freedoms of information and speech for their own personal ends. If they committed criminal acts under the law, they absolutely should be prosecuted for them.

With that in mind, let's not feel too broken up for these celebrities. They did silly things, they got caught doing those things, and now they want the rest of us to feel sorry for them.

I say that we just get on with our lives instead, and let the lawyers sort this one out.

Clinton clam-bake
To be as fair as possible, it would be weird NOT to want to get an eyeful of that...
In which Jim Goad asks some rather pointed questions about the Lizard Queen's, um, personal preferences:
Jenny McCarthy, easily the finest female specimen ever to appear on estrogen-addled daytime-TV squawkfest The View, recently upset the eternally offended Gay Lobby by insinuating what most of the Western world has insinuated for decades—that Hillary Clinton has a taste for female flesh
Even though being gay is supposed to be cool, Clinton supporters balked and blanched and belched at the allegation not because being a Daughter of Sappho is a matter of shame, but because Clinton is on record denying it, which would make her a liar in the grand tradition of her husband. [Didact: And her husband is a far better and more accomplished liar, to boot.]
Assuming that Clinton does not die from herpes nor succumb to a fatal blood clot between now and 2016 when it is presumed she would be a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination for president, would it really matter if she were, to put it in the vulgar argot of sailors and longshoremen, a clam-licker? 
Not as much as one might think. [...]

I’m going to go way out on a limb and assume that “p***y” does not mean “putty” or “poopy.” And I’ll lowball this and assume that, say, Bill Clinton never ate a pussy in his life. [Didact: If I recall correctly, he got the nickname "Slick Willy" for more than just his effortless charm...] According to Flowers, that would mean that Hillary Clinton has eaten at least one pussy, which would qualify her as at least bisexual if not a full-blown, fire-breathing, scorpion-tailed, claw-wielding lesbian.

But again—does it matter?

It should if you’re a male. By definition, lesbians dislike men. They take your everyday, run-of-the-mill, been-there-done-that misandry that forms the bedrock of all latter-day feminism a step further by rejecting not only the idea of maleness, but the very male body itself. The idea of a man-hating, pants-suit-wearing, oyster-gobbling woman sitting in the Ovary Office should make any right-thinking American male’s testicles retreat slightly up into his body.
I would go much farther than this and argue that if you're going to vote for the Lizard Queen in the next election, you're clinically insane.

If Hillary Clinton were the next POTUS, she probably wouldn't be the first occupant of that august office whose sexuality was, let's say, open to question. There is considerable speculation and not exactly a dearth of evidence to suggest that the 15th POTUS, James Buchanan, was perhaps a bit of a fairy. As stomach-churning as it is to contemplate the notion of a sodomite or devotee of Sappho wielding such power, that isn't the problem at hand here.

The problem is that we have no end of evidence to suggest that Hillary Clinton would be an even worse President that Barack Obama. Or Mitt Romney. Or- Lord help us all- John McCain. That's how terrible she would be.

She is an unrepentant warmonger. During her time as Secretary of State, she failed miserably at maintaining or enhancing America's relationships with allies and adversaries alike. Her part in the Benghazi debacle indicates at best utter disdain for the lives of American civilians and soldiers, if not outright criminal negligence.

Jim Goad ends with a reminder of exactly what this woman has been through at the hands of her husband in the past:
Since 2008, Democratic shysters have deflected the merest criticism of Obama with the word “racism,” a dumb and meaningless term that still somehow has the capacity to cripple nearly anyone at whom it is flung. Should Hillary Clinton ascend to the presidency, you can bet your last testicle that no matter how extreme her policies, anyone who dares question them will be shouted down as a misogynist. She could call for the ritual televised castration of all male infants, yet anyone who made a peep about it will be smeared as a woman-hater
It is also well-known that Hillary Clinton is an impenitent war hawk. For all that we hear about how men who love guns and missiles are compensating for penile deficiencies, how much more would this apply to someone that nature has saddled with a mere clitoris? 
Let’s throw reason to the wind and assume that Clinton is a full-on heterosexual woman. If that’s the case, she publicly endured humiliation at the hands of her philandering hubby. Hell hath no fury, and all that. If she were to be placed in the world’s ultimate power position, this would not bode well for men. Considering all this, one could only hope that she’s a lesbian.
Too right. Putting this woman in charge as Commander-in-Chief of the vast military machine of American might is downright crazy. To wield that power properly, you have to demonstrate competence, character, and restraint.

Hillary Clinton has not demonstrated competence. She has demonstrated character- if by "character" you mean "a chameleon-like ability to be exactly what people want to see on the campaign trail"- but when it comes to what the rest of us mean by the term, she has not. And she certainly has no sense of restraint when it comes to crusades of social justice.

This is not the woman- hell, the person- you want leading the world's most powerful nation. There is no evidence at all that this woman would make a good or useful leader. So don't make the mistake of voting for her. It's just that simple.

How not to get punched

Bob, duck, weave, and slip. That's pretty much it. Oh, and- most important of all- KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.

It's actually not quite as easy as I make it sound- or he makes it look in that video. If you'll notice, he uses his hands a great deal to slap or push other people's punches away- which is also very important. But the simplest way to avoid getting whacked in the face in the street is pretty much what is outlined in that video- if someone sends a punch towards your face, just get your face off the line of the strike so that it's not there when the strike arrives.

And always, always, ALWAYS remember to keep your eyes open. This takes a lot of training. When someone throws a punch at your face, your body's first instinct is to close your eyes, raise your hands, and back away. The problem is that if you close your eyes, you're NOT going to see the next punch coming. And because of that, you won't be able to get out of the way, and the punch you DON'T see coming is going to hurt a damn sight more because of that. You have to train your body to react against its own instincts in this one case- not an easy ask.

You might be surprised, by the way, to realise that although this sounds very easy in practice, the majority of people find it quite difficult.

There are two "beginner" levels in Krav Maga- yellow belt, where you learn how to throw strikes, and orange belt, where you learn to dodge strikes and spar. (Certain organisations use patches instead of belts, but it's basically the same idea.) This is because, in order to dodge a strike, you have to have some idea of how to throw the strike in the first place.

And I can tell you from sometimes painful personal experience that most people who test for yellow belt really still don't have a clue how to throw a proper punch, because most of them have never sparred, and never will actively spar. Then they get to the yellow belt classes and are called upon to spar at the end of the class, and they have absolutely no damn clue how to deal with what's coming.

(By the way, I love watching new yellow belts come to those classes. I spar regularly. I don't claim to be any good at it- personally I think I'm pretty terrible- but I do it anyway. The end result is that nowadays light sparring doesn't scare me; actually, it's my favourite part of any class. So when I see fresh meat hit the mat, the first thing I'm thinking is, "Maw, hand me that there carving knife...")

If you were to take 1,000 random people on the street and toss them straight into a Krav Maga class (or any difficult strike-based art, like muay thai or traditional karate), then you'll find that of those 1,000:
  • Something like 600-700 will make it to yellow belt
  • Maybe 100 will make it to orange belt
  • Perhaps 40 of those will make it to green belt
  • Something like 15 of those get to blue belt
  • Say 8 of those will make it to brown belt
  • If you are very, very lucky, 3 of those will make it all the way to 1st Dan black belt

A 0.3% graduation rate. That is how difficult it is- and in my very frank personal opinion, that is exactly how it bloody well should be. The last thing you want is to be teaching knife/stick/gun defences and wrestling takedowns and joint manipulations to people who don't have the speed, self-control, or experience to handle techniques like that- and you certainly don't want those same people going out into the world and teaching techniques in a half-arsed fashion.

And it saddens me greatly to say that indeed, there are several global KM organisations around the world that have become little better than the KM version of McDojos, churning out "black belts" who in reality couldn't outfight my own organisation's green belts. I'm not going to say who these are, mostly due to my immense personal respect for my own teacher and the fact that he knows most of these people as personal acquaintances and even erstwhile friends, but it is a real and serious problem for the art.

But I digress.

If you've never boxed before, you might find yourself wondering what it's like to get punched in the face. And you might think that it actually hurts more to get punched by someone wearing heavy gloves than it does with a naked fist.

In fact, it's the other way around. You might be surprised to realise that a 14oz boxing glove actually contains a significant amount of padding. This is quite deliberate. Getting hit in the face with the big knuckles of someone's fist is actually extremely painful- you ain't gonna last long if someone repeatedly lands punches like that. The padding on a boxing glove is there for two purposes: to protect your hand from shattering like porcelain when you throw a sloppy punch and it connects, and to protect your opponent's face when you throw a good punch and it lands.

The size and weight of 14oz boxing gloves is also a good reason why it's difficult to use inside blocks against punches in a sparring match. (This is a technical term which I won't get into in detail here.) In a real street fight, though, you WANT to use your hands to slip past punches wherever you can.

So if you're going to get into a street fight, remember to use the 5 Ds of Dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge.

Lord help me, but I love this movie...