TUESDAY

1. Obama set the country straight last night. That Nobel Peace Prize was a total clusterfuck.

2. I wonder if Skeletor flosses daily.



3. I've never seen Hillary Clinton and Skeletor photographed together.



4. Qaddafi may go down, but he will go down in history as the best dressed dictator EVER.



5. I've never seen Qaddafi and Superfly photographed together either.



6. The NYT has the paywall in place which means I will be reading the NYT on The Huffington Post for free now.

7. In all seriousness, I am done with the Times. 20 views per month? Fuck that.

8. There is a reason so many writers were drinkers. The drinking didn't do shit for the writing, but the writing did wonders for the drinking.

9. It pains me to say this, but I think half of my blog traffic is coming from people looking for pics of hot babes.

10. *SIGH*

[SOC]

I am late with my weekly SOC post. The beauty of it is that I don't have to think about it before I write it. I just sit down and start writing whatever is in my head. I just farted.

Last night, the Emperor told us of how he needed to intervene in Libya. He didn't explain why he didn't need Congressional authority for this. This guy won the Nobel Peace Prize. I wrote this on Facebook:

It is amazing to me to watch as leftards lick Obama's ass and eat the corn out of his shit over this Libya intervention while shitting all over Dennis Kucinich for his principled opposition. Sickening.


This was in response to reading numerous praising comments from Obama supporters. These people also bashed on GWB in their comments while praising the Emperor. It is fucking amazing. It blows my mind that people can be such clueless fucktards. Even neocon fasctard fucks agree that Obama needed Congressional approval for his actions in Libya. Dennis Kucinich is now hated by the leftards because he opposed Obama on this. How can people be so unprincipled? Do they believe in anything?

It is obvious to me that these Obama supporters are like the wider public believing in nothing and supporting politicians and parties the same way you root for a football team. It doesn't matter what the team does. The only thing that matters is that it is your team, and they are winning. Nevermind that Obama has now done exactly what Bush did.

I have read the text of Obama's speech, and it is his attempt to put the shine on shit. Meanwhile, we have similar things happening in Syria and Bahrain. Nothing happens there. Why? No fucking oil in those countries.

The American public are gullible as fuck. Let them lick the ass of their new emperor. I won't do it.

Why Running Is the Perfect Sport (Almost)



I have taken a lot of flak for bashing on the sport of triathlon as a money sport populated by rich elitist pricks. But there is a sport that is the antithesis of triathlon. This is distance running. Distance running is not a prick sport. It is an everyman sport. It is the perfect sport.

You don't need money to be a runner. There is no fancy bit of equipment you need to buy. You can spend a lot on the shoes if you choose, but it won't buy you speed. In fact, as author Christopher McDougall has pointed out, the shoes may actually harm you more than they help you. Running is a sport where people have competed and won in just their bare feet.



There are gimmicks in running just like any other sport. You can wear compression socks, arm warmers, and a nifty GPS watch that tells you how far you have run. But none of these things seem to actually make you run faster. Running well is not about what you buy but how many miles you put on the road.

Distance running is the most egalitarian of sports. The top ranks of distance running are peopled by athletes from two poor countries--Ethiopia and Kenya. Here in the USA, we have the almost mythic blue collar runner who competes on hard work and guts. A glance over the history of the sport reveals the legendary Steve Prefontaine who lived in a trailer and tended bar while training for the Olympics. You have Boston Bill Rodgers with his floppy hat and garden gloves. In the modern era, you have throwback runner Brian Sell competing while also working part time at Home Depot.



These guys aren't wearing Speedos. They aren't competing on $5000 bikes. Distance running is just a basic sport. You don't need expensive equipment. You don't have to have an expensive gym membership. You don't need to wait for that gym to open in the morning. Running is always open except in a hurricane. You just step out the front door, and there you are. Running is just you and the road.

Running is cheap. Running doesn't care how much money you make. It only cares about your work ethic and your mileage. Runners are also humble. This happens in an egalitarian sport where you not only compete against living competitors but against history as well. In the USA, runners aspire to be like their gritty heroes from the 70s and early 80s who competed on high mileage, beer, and pizza crusts dipped in mayonnaise. Being poor is seen as a competitive advantage because it makes you hungry to win.

Ultra running takes running to an even tougher level by hitting the trails and the deserts and extending the distance to soul crushing levels. Yet, the top competitors in ultra running are guys like Anton Krupicka who may spend part of the year living out of his truck or 60-year-old Marco Olmo, a blue collar Italian who beats competitors half his age.



These guys are skinny, but they are tough. They don't give a fuck that you have an MBA and drive a BMW. Money and status vanish at the starting line. The thing being tested is not your net worth, but the character it takes to run lonely roads and trails mile after mile in preparation for the event. This is purity.

Not everything is perfect in the running world. Despite being tough, runners can be a whiny, grumpy lot. This is because of injury. Runners get injured. Talk to any runner for any length of time, and you will hear of blisters, black toenails, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome, stress fractures, shin splints, and on and on. Runners are either injured or dreading future injuries. The irony is that the runners who whine the loudest are the ones who run the fastest. Every runner is a crybaby pussy almost as an act of defensive pessimism and humility. Then, the gun goes off, and these self-confessed cripples take off like the resurrection.

Runners walk the knife edge between peak fitness and injury. There is something admirable about an athlete that will put in 100+ mile weeks but says stuff like, "I hope my knee holds out for the race." That is humility and an acknowledgement of limitations. Yet, runners push those limitations. Running is one of the few sports where the old timers are often as admirable as the runners in their prime.



Running is not just a sport but a lifestyle. It isn't just something you do when you are young but something you pursue for a lifetime. You get slower as you get older, but runners look forward to birthdays because it gives them the chance to compete for age group records. Some might laugh at these geezers, but it is hard to mock a 70-year-old who can run a sub-3 marathon. The rest of us will be playing shuffleboard and wearing Depends at that age.

Running is a tough sport. Almost anyone can do it, but it is painful. Training and racing is often a crucible of torture. This isn't surfing. This is suffering. Running is elemental in its simplicity but complex in the varieties of pain it inflicts. From the wall of the marathon to the lung searing kick of the mile to the utter emotional despair of the ultra, running is hell. To be a runner is to be intimately acquainted with pain. It takes a certain level of masochism to be a runner, but there is joy in that suffering. Runners spend a lot of time in their heads. They learn things about themselves. Running has a way of clearing away the bullshit. Training is like meditation. The body pumps out endorphins to ease the suffering. There are depressing lows but unbelievable highs as well. It is introspection and mysticism. The hardest part of running is not so much the physical as the mental. Runners spend a lot of time with their thoughts.



Triathlon is flashier. Golf is less painful. Bowling is more fun. But running is almost the perfect sport. It is cheap. It is always available. It will get you in unbelievable shape. It will build your character. It will humble you. Plus, you don't have to shave any body parts. You can do it for a lifetime, and it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. You can start anywhere, but where you finish is all up to you.

In life I’m a loser, I was born poor, as I am still poor now. I run to revenge myself.
MARCO OLMO

[U.] Sasquatch!

BITCHES! you gotta believe what you SEE!!!













BELIEVE!!!

Feeling Like Crap



I wake up every morning and feel like crap. People tell me that I am getting old. The fact is that I have felt this way every morning since I was a kid. I always feel like crap in the morning. Then, I feel like crap until the afternoon when I will continue to feel like crap. This goes into the evening and finally night time when I collapse from exhaustion into my bed. Then, I stop feeling like crap because I am unconscious. My whole life is one long experience of feeling like crap.

I think if I rest more that I will feel better. But I don't. I end up feeling worse. I feel groggy and cranky. Sleeping more fucks me up as much as sleeping little. I feel sore from moving all the time, working, running, cleaning house, climbing stairs, and what have you. But I feel sore from sitting in a chair for long periods, sleeping late, or what have you. My body is always feeling some soreness and fatigue. It has been like this ever since I was young.

My guts are always in a state of crap as well. I'm either hungry, full, needing to take a shit, feeling gassy, or what have you. Even when I eat healthy foods, it doesn't go away. Even as I write this, the pressure in my bowels is either gas that will erupt in a sonic boom of flatulence. Or, it is a diarrhea bomb waiting to paint the inside of a toilet, a wall, or the back of my pants. Countless times during the day, I gamble. Shit or shart? Most of the time I win. A few times I have lost. The constant is that I feel like crap.

Then, you have sickness. It is spring which means allergies. I am doped up on antihistamine in order to breathe. In the fall, I will have the same issue with ragweed. In the winter, I am always catching somebody's cold bug. Then, there is the dreaded flu. The summer is the only good time because I only have to contend with bug bites and sunburn.

Weather also sucks. I am either cold or hot. Then, there is rain which takes almost any day and turns it into crap. Either way, it lands on me, and I feel like crap.

My whole existence is a constant state of feeling like crap. It never ends. Unlike pleasure, pain knows increase and has infinite variety. The fact is that I always feel like crap, but I manage to ignore it. To be honest, I didn't realize how crappy I felt until I started writing this essay. I never paused to reflect on this chronic crappy state of feeling. But there it is. I am in a constant state of suffering.

You get used to feeling like crap. I have never felt like going to work a single day in my life. Yet, I have a really good record of showing up. I have gone to work in really terrible shape before, but I showed up. I was so sick once that I was sent home by my boss against my wishes. You just do it. For the most part, I laugh at the misery with mock whining. It feels worse to stay home.

Of course, I feel good sometimes. These good feelings come when I take ease from the pain. This is sitting down after standing up for a long period of time. This is enjoying the air conditioning after being in the hot sun. This is collapsing on the floor after running for an hour. This is drinking water when you are thirsty. The fact is that pains and pleasures come in pairs. You can't have one without the other. I spend my days feeling like crap, but I also have sublime moments of utter rapture when I get some sweet relief. The suffering makes it sweeter.

I feel like crap. But that is OK. There is a time during the day when I can say that I don't feel like crap. I discovered this magic substance some years ago, and it is the ultimate analgesic for what ails me. It never fails to revive me and give me a warm glow inside. This substance is coffee. From the aroma to the taste to the warmth as it goes down to the pleasant buzz it brings, coffee sustains me. It wakes me up. It makes me cheerful even to the point of annoyance. I will even go so far as to say that coffee is the most important thing in my life. This may seem extreme, but for an atheist, the only heaven that exists is in a fresh pot. Pour me some nirvana, bitches.

Leisure Nation




There is a working class - strong and happy - among both rich and poor: there is an idle class - weak, wicked, and miserable - among both rich and poor.
JOHN RUSKIN

Ahhhh, the good life. Sandy beaches. Sun. Clear blue water. Ocean waves. An icy Corona in one hand. It is what we all aspire to have. No job and money to blow. A life of endless leisure. But what if this life was just a bunch of shit? What if this life of leisure was just one big fat lie? Guess what. It is.

In The Hatred of Work, I discussed how work was vital to happiness, and the reason people hated work was because they were obligated to do it. The alternative life to this workaholic Puritan lifestyle is a life of leisure. This is the life of hedonism. The problem is that hedonism does not bring happiness.

There are two types of hedonism. The first type of hedonism is crass hedonism. This was the philosophy of the ancient Cyrenaics that held that pleasure was the highest good. In short, the Cyrenaics were out to have a good time, and they did. Their philosophy was to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow they would be dead. There is only pleasure and pain.

To understand the Cyrenaic philosophy, you should go out and get drunk, use drugs, have unprotected sex, etc. Now, a critic will respond by saying that all this hedonistic behavior results in negative consequences such as hangovers, overdoses, and sexually transmitted diseases. The Cyrenaic response was that these things would happen but they would happen to someone else--your future self. Since nothing exists but the present, you should party hard and ignore the consequences. If this sounds like madness, this is precisely the logic of party people today. Tomorrow never comes. There is only today. This might seem stupid, but we acknowledge the wisdom when we say carpe diem or "seize the day."

The Cyrenaic school died out to be replaced by the more sophisticated Epicurean school. This is the second type of hedonism which is refined hedonism. Epicurus agreed that pleasure was the highest good, but he defined that pleasure as the absence of pain. It is senseless to drink excessively because it produces more pain. The answer is to abstain and drink water. Live a simple and care free life. Where the Cyrenaics would be represented today by fraternity brothers, Epicureans are best represented by people who live the simple life. The problem with this refined hedonism is what psychologists call the "hedonic treadmill."

With the hedonic treadmill, people rapidly adjust to their current situation whether good or bad. Pleasure and pain are indifferent over the longer term because we get used to it. People have a set point for happiness. This is why if you acquire a certain number of material possessions or discard them it ends up all being the same. From this we see that happiness is not pleasure. Hedonism is a lie. That idyllic life on that sandy beach is merely boredom in about a day or so. More than likely, you will retire to your swank hotel room to watch TV which is exactly what you can do at home.

Vacations, trips, and all the rest are nothing more than vain attempts to convince others that we are happy and living the good life. This is what we see in the commercials, so we try and emulate what the marketing tells us. But I have been on those sandy beaches. I have done those fun things, and they suck.

I am a eudaimonist thinker when it comes to happiness. I tend to agree with Aristotle that happiness is "flourishing" or a life of activity lived according to reason. It is a hard concept to grasp since there is no exact equivalent in English. But this is the reason people go to the gym and work out. This is the reason people sit down and learn a foreign language or play chess. This is the reason I like working so much.

The pleasure that comes from these rational activities is known as "flow." You can't find this pleasure by aiming directly at it. It is the byproduct of doing an activity. It is akin to hedonism. Unlike hedonism, there is no hedonic treadmill. It is a constant striving, working, and seeking. This flow feeds on itself and finds other activities. The result is a robustness in living and a bursting of real joy in your being. The reason few people find this flow is because it is wrapped inside the plain brown wrapper of work.

The Puritans hewed towards this eudaimonistic understanding of happiness. They dressed up in religious garb, but it is fundamentally no different than what Aristotle was getting at. Utilitarianism is the child of the hedonists. This is why Ayn Rand disparaged libertarians as a bunch of pot smokers. Her philosophy was more in keeping with that eudaimonistic school. As such, I tend to agree with her. Everything else is just cows eating grass.

The conventional wisdom today is that work is bad while leisure is good. We endure work for the purpose of having leisure which is the real goal. I disagree with this mindset. I believe that leisure is had for the sake of doing work. We eat, sleep, exercise, read, and study for the sake of those rational activities we call work. Leisure is a form of rest. The work is what matters.

You can see this with the people that end up in leisure. What do they do? They express boredom. Sitting on the beach sucks, so they go in for a swim. They buy a surfboard and learn how to surf. They read a book. They all end up doing something. Doing nothing just sucks. This is why I end up hating all vacations, day trips, and the like. It is so goddamn boring.

To be happy means a constant life of work, yet this idea is constantly attacked. If you work too much, you are called a "workaholic." Like the alcoholic or the cocaine addict, it is always the family that bears the trauma of the workaholic's "addiction." Nevermind that they don't mind spending the workaholic's money. And what do the families all want? Vacations. Lots and lots of vacations. When the workaholic buckles under and satisfies his hedonistic family, the excuse is always the same. He needs to avoid "burnout." He needs to spend more time with the family. Blah blah fucking blah.

Consider these two vacation ideas. In the first plan, you decide to go to Key West and fish off some pier, drink beer, and listen to Jimmy Buffett. In the second plan, you go to climb a mountain in Pakistan. Which sounds more appealing to you? Imagine telling your family that on the next vacation you are going on a 250-mile hike. Suddenly, they find your workaholism is quite tolerable.

This is why I find this whole family living thing so irritating. It is simply a cover for hedonism and idleness. You can't tell people that you are going to goof off. So, it becomes "quality time with the family." But quality time with the family is doing stuff like helping kids with the homework or pitching in on the weekends on a Habitat for Humanity project. These people aren't fooling me. Family time is watching TV while drinking some beers while the kids beat the shit out of each other. At the right level of buzz, they fade out completely.

People spend time with their families because they love them, and there is nothing wrong with this. I encourage this. The problem is that almost any activity qualifies as family time. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my dad. This was because he owned his own business, and I ended up working. Ironically, I enjoyed the work more than the unpleasant vacations we took together. I dreaded those trips.

The most valuable lessons I learned from my old man were work lessons. I learned how to drive big trucks. I learned how to endure unpleasant conditions. I learned the camaraderie that comes when people work together. The bulk of the stories I tell about my old man are work related. I also appreciated what he did for me because I saw the work he did. I saw him work injured and sick because he had to do it. It left a lasting impression on me. I don't give a shit now that we went to Disney World one year.

This Leisure Cult we have here in America has it wrong. They have it backwards. Work is what brings happiness not sipping margaritas on a beach. The most valuable time you can spend with your family is working on a project together or learning a skill or getting in shape. And if all this sounds exhausting, go take a nap. You need some rest. The problem isn't needing to rest. The problem is being idle and convincing yourself that this idleness constitutes the good life. Here's your wake up call. It isn't the good life. It is cows eating grass. Don't waste your precious life on this bogus bullshit.

---
NOTES

1. Cyrenaics

2. Hedonic treadmill

3. Paradox of hedonism

4. Eudaimonism

The Hatred of Work




Leo Babauta wrote a post on his blog called "I am not a brewer." Here are the key lines I want to focus on:

I am not a blogger. I am no author. I am a simple man who enjoys a simple life with his family. I write to be able to afford living that simple life.


The gist of Leo's piece is that we work in order to live. Basically, he blogs to make money, so he can live a simple life with his family. This is quite simply bullshit. He might live this way now, but this was not always the case. This present mindset is the Achilles heel of the minimalist movement, and why it is dying and decaying. I will elaborate.

When Leo first started blogging, it wasn't for money. It was a project for him. There was no money. He simply wanted to chronicle his lifestyle changes from an overweight stressed out smoker with a mountain of debts to a non-smoking debt free vegan runner minimalist triathlete. Along the way, he inspired a lot of people, and his project became insanely popular. At no point in time did this project become about making money. The money part was a happy accident that took even Leo by surprise. Now, if we apply Leo's present mindset to his past self, we wouldn't know who the fuck Leo Babauta is.

What we are dealing with here is the fundamental nature of work. If you ask people what the purpose of work is, they will give you some basic answer about making a living. You work in order to eat and buy shit. Working beyond that is pretty stupid to them which is why they work as little as possible and think workaholics are foolish people. Leo is now numbered amongst these slackers by his own admission. This may also explain why he posts less in a month than I post in a week. The irony is that he gets paid for his gig while I don't.

Why do people hate work? The answer to that is simple. Mark Twain says it best, "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." The hatred of work comes from the obligation to work. People work because they are required to work, and this requirement is what makes them hate the work that they do. This is why people try to do it as little as possible. It also explains why materialistic people are even more prone to hating work. They have to work to make the money for those payments on the McMansion, the BMW, and the credit cards. The minimalist seeks to escape work by reducing those payments to utilities, food, and the monthly rent. But either way, you have the obligation to work. The result is that neither the maximalist nor the minimalist is especially happy.

Let's apply this thinking to another area of life--sex. We have sex to procreate. Sex is necessary for reproduction. Therefore, we should only have sex to conceive 2.5 kids. Then, we need to stop having sex. Sex beyond reproduction is just stupid. The idea that sex can be fun is just insane. If you think this line of logic is insane, this is exactly how I feel when someone says they work merely to pay the bills. This thinking drains life of all meaning, purpose, enjoyment, and everything good that makes life worth living and better than just cows eating grass.

I write this blog because I enjoy doing it. It is a form of work. I don't get paid for it. I just do it. There is joy and fulfillment in the creation of something. I feel accomplishment and satisfaction when I put words on the screen. I know others will read this. Some will ignore it. Others will love it. Others will hate it. But it does not diminish the joy I feel in making this. All my work is like this. I feel the same way when I do the work I am paid to do or when I do the work I need to do to maintain my life such as washing the dishes and sweeping the floor. Even if I got paid to blog, it would change nothing for me. I only have so much in my brain, and I am creatively tapped now even working a full time job. Having nothing else to do is unlikely to improve the quality of this project. In fact, I think it would diminish it since most of my inspiration comes to me when working my job.

Work is fun for me. Granted, I have to work. But I also choose to work. Work is the most fulfilling activity I do. I enjoy working, and when I am off work like today, I really hate it. Writing and chores are like a nicotine patch for me until I can pull a drag on a Marlboro. When I leave work, I leave with a certain sadness. The fun has ended. But it ends as my mind turns immediately to the next activity. Mark Twain wrote, "To be busy is man's only happiness."

I have a simple test for seeing if someone is happy or not. I ask them what they would do if they won the lottery. If their answer is to quit their job and retire to a life of leisure, I know they are not happy. If their answer is to take a risk on starting a business, I know they are happy. That lottery test is my way of divining whether people work out of joy or obligation.

Happiness comes from activity. A job for me is a self-sustaining activity. A hobby is an activity that is not self-sustaining. A chore is a neutral activity. They are all the same, but the job is the one that supports itself. This is because a job is where you work for others, and they pay you for it. Where others see the obligation, I see it as a bonus.

There is nothing intrinsic in an activity that makes it fun. I like to compare a house painter to Picasso. Both use paint and try to make beautiful things. The house painter is usually more successful. At the end of it, they can step back and appraise what they have created. Painting a house is no less a work of art than painting a portrait. Cleaning a house is just as artistic. They even have TV shows where they just clean up cluttered homes with a before and after. All work is fundamentally the same.

This brings us back to the obligation. If it is the obligation and not the activity that makes people miserable, what is the answer? I think I just gave it. Acknowledge that you are free to do what you like. You can always quit and be a bum. But this will not make you happy. You can try and win the lottery which will only make you a rich bum. You can do activities that you like to do and hope someone will pay you for it. Or you can choose to like the activities that you are already paid to do.

This is the argument that I have with the Marxists and their concept of "wage slavery." Marxists argue that workers are obligated to work which is what makes them slaves. And what makes them obligated? Their need to eat, wear clothes, live in homes, and heat those homes. Since these needs are finite, workers should be able to work as little as possible to meet those needs. Well, they can, and they do. I worked for quite a few years for less than $20K annually while I attended school. But this will not do for the Marxist. They direct their anger at the corporations and the capitalists as if they have pulled some trick on the proletariat. But it isn't the fault of the capitalists. It is the fault of existence that you must work. Fields do not till themselves. Clothes do not make themselves. Houses do not build themselves. This is a desire for Heaven where no one works.

The Puritans had a much different take on work. Calvin pointed out that Adam and Eve worked before the Fall. It says it in the Bible:

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.--Genesis 2:15


There was work in the Garden of Eden. Work did not begin with the Fall. Frustration began with the Fall. Here is what the Bible says:

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.--Genesis 3:17-19


The curse was not the labor but that the labor would be frustrated and difficult. In other words, you might labor and fail. You will plant crops that wither and die. You might build a house that gets knocked down. You get the picture.

Now, I am an atheist. I don't believe in this silly story. But I quote from it the same way I quote from Twain's fiction. It is the idea that matters. Work itself is not a curse. The Puritans ran with this idea where the Catholics saw work as cursed. The result was prosperity and flourishing for those Puritans. They were also happy. Attitude means everything. For the Puritans, work was a consecrated activity and done as an act of worship. This is why they worked so much and gave us the Puritan work ethic. Just because there is no God does not mean that the work cannot be enjoyed.

When you read interviews with billionaires like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, or Carlos Slim, you realize that they are not motivated by greed. Everyone else thinks of money purely in terms of acquiring consumer goods. Since these guys are so filthy rich that they can buy any conceivable consumer good the world offers, why do they work? Why do they amass wealth they couldn't even live long enough to spend? And in the case of Warren Buffett, why do they still live so humbly? This is simple. It is the Puritan Paradox.

The Puritan Paradox is this. If you decide that money and consumption does not bring happiness, you will become rich. This is because wealth comes from hard work and thrift. Wealth is merely a byproduct of living what the Puritans considered a godly life. As an atheist, I would simply say that wealth is the byproduct of living a rational and virtuous life. By focusing on wealth as a means to consume, you are unlikely to have it or keep it. But if you focus on work for its own sake and eschew the hedonic lifestyle of consumerism, you will be wealthy. But it won't matter to you whether you are rich or not.

The Puritan work ethic is what has made the USA such a rich country. The idea that it was greed just doesn't hold. Greed is the undoing of this nation as I define greed in terms not of savings but consumption. It wasn't Scrooge who was the greedy bastard but all those consumers wanting to spend his money that he saved by not consuming. Charles Dickens should be resurrected and skullfucked to death for writing such stupid shit as that story. If you doubt this, recall all that holiday cheer you felt at the mall as you fought with other people to buy a bunch of shit for other people knowing you would still be paying for it on your credit cards in May of the following year as the gift you bought lies in some closet collecting dust.

Wealth is merely the means of sustaining one's rational activities. Cows eat grass, so they can later create manure and other cows. But mostly they eat grass, so they can stay alive to eat more grass. At some point, they become steak. People are like those cows consuming and working in order to consume more. But there are those rare people who create and simply want to create more. Like the cows, they eat, but they consume in order to keep doing what makes life worth living which is creation. In short, they work in order to keep working. This virtuous cycle brings happiness. It is beyond just eating grass. This is what it means to be autotelic.

The lie is that there is something higher and better than work. This lie is known as hedonism. This is why work is always describe by these people in terms of austerity, deprivation, depravity, and insanity. Work is treated as a vice while leisure is held up as a virtue. I disagree. I think leisure is the vice while work is the virtue. Work is self-sustaining. Leisure is not. Work leads to wealth, health, and well being. Leisure leads to poverty, illness, and despair. And the biggest bit of PR for this hedonism is calling it "family time." It is all done for the sake of the family. What a load of shit. I will explode this in my next piece on this subject called "Leisure Nation."

Leo Babauta on Criticism of Minimalism

Nearly everyone who doesn’t consider himself a minimalist has some criticism. Much of that is simply because it’s a trend, and people tend to attack anything trendy. But I think a bigger reason is that people feel threatened when they feel their lifestyle is criticized — and at its core, that’s what minimalism is. A criticism of the (modern) American way of life.

minimalism's critics

I was wondering when Leo would respond to the critics of minimalism, and he has finally done it. I really liked this part:

That critique is threatening to many people, and minimalism’s critics are often justifying their way of life. Take just one of many criticisms (there are too many to name): “I’m not a minimalist, I’m an appropriatist”. Or something like that (I haven’t seen the original quote). Sounds good, but if minimalism is asking “is this really necessary?”, then what does an appropriatist ask? “Is this appropriate?” Well, anyone can say anything is appropriate — my BMW is appropriate for my life, right? Basically, an appropriatist can also be called a “status quoist”.


I have to agree with Leo. Minimalism is a challenge to others to rethink their lives. For what it is worth, I am a minimalist. For me, the issue is over the label and the beliefs behind that label. If we did a head to head comparison, my life is almost certainly more minimalistic than Leo's life. He doesn't own a car, but I don't own a bicycle either. I also don't have six kids. If it is a question of living the lifestyle, I do it. I just don't take pictures of my sparse apartment and post them on the internet. At some point, we get to the cup of Diogenes and arguing whether it made sense for him to throw it away or not. As I pointed out before, this sort of thing is almost a bizarro version of keeping up with the Joneses.

Now, if I drove a BMW or owned all sorts of grown up toys, I might feel challenged by what Leo said. I am a minimalist, but that is like a Unitarian claiming to be a Christian. The term takes on a different meaning when applied to a Southern Baptist, a Lutheran, and a Roman Catholic. At some point, we have to attach qualifiers. Minimalism is at this point. As other bloggers point out, minimalism is person relative. Leo lives without a TV while I live with a TV that I barely watch that is permatuned to CNN. Someone needs to inject some orthodoxy into the debate, so I suppose it falls to me to do it.

What is a minimalist?

A minimalist is one who retains what is essential and removes the non-essential. For Leo, owning a bicycle is essential. For me, it is not. For me, owning a television is essential. For Leo, it is not. The essential part is person relative. I can only speak for myself, but I regularly edit my lifestyle to remove the non-essential. I find my life is easier and smoother with fewer things in it. The only real problem I have had comes from information and learning to deal with it. But this is non-material life-of-the-mind stuff. When it comes to material things like clothes, housing, gadgets, and transportation, less is more.

The reason people like me and others now shy away from the term "minimalist" is because it is becoming a cartoon of itself. The way it is now, being a minimalist means you are a broke slacker with a Macbook Pro, a blog, and an apartment within walking distance of a Starbucks with free WiFi. That image has become so indelible that I am certain that this is why Everett Bogue recoiled from the movement and said, "Fuck minimalism."

What we can all agree on is that a consumerist lifestyle dedicated to acquiring stuff instead of experiences is not the way to happiness. Living simply and cheaply makes your life better. It has solved a lot of problems for me. But with every solution comes new problems. Minimalism does not answer those problems. It is not a panacea. The fact is that when people simplify to such an extreme in all facets of their lives they are left with an empty white space. This is why so many minimalist bloggers are leaving their blogs to start new ones. How much can you write on being a minimalist? (This is why I never became a minimalist blogger but kept with this highly individualistic project called "Charlie's Blog." Unlike the minimalists, I can go in new directions and talk about different things such as politics, economics, philosophy, or whatnot without betraying the expectations of my readers. I'm not a single subject blogger.)

I'm a fan of Leo Babauta, so I don't really disagree with his points. What I will say is that Leo needs to address the real issue in this debate. I call it "post-minimalist emptiness." What happens when you make it your purpose to eliminate the non-essential from your life and you have achieved it? What do you do after that? This is the question people are asking. Leo is like Moses. He has gotten us out of Egypt, but here we are in the wilderness. What happens next?

I am answering that question now since no one else seems to be answering it. Stick with the simplicity. Be frugal in your material life. Eliminate the distractions. But after that, you need to work. The problem isn't minimalism. It is SLACK. The maximalist materialist mindset had one thing going for it. It was a great motivator to go out and work to maintain the payments on all that shit you didn't need. The minimalist no longer has the payments and finds freedom from the whole senseless treadmill of acquisition and status. Without that material reason to work hard and achieve, minimalists have become bums. All that idleness now leads to boredom and dissatisfaction. This is why I have been turning to the Puritans for the answers. They worked hard but for non-material reasons. They knew there was no joy in idleness. Happiness comes from work.

I will have more on this in future posts. This is a topic I know my readers have been screaming for me to write more on, so I will satisfy that demand. It has been cooking in my brain, and I feel it is time to deliver.

[SOC]

I was having a convo the other day with my brother. He was pulling his boat up to Lake Murray which is about a two hour trip. He talked on his Motorola Droid phone which he recommends highly to everyone. I talked to him on Skype which didn't cost me anything because he has a Skype app on his phone. How cool is that?

Anyway, he tells me that people in the neighborhood hate him. I ask him if it is because of any Charlie Sheen type behavior, and he tells me no. The gist of it was that the reason they hate on him is for one particular Charlie Sheen behavior--WINNING. Basically, they envy him. He finds this surprising.

I am no stranger to this sort of thing. I have learned two things about status. The first is that there is always someone better than you. The second and lesser known part is that there is always going to be someone who hates you. I have endured this sort of thing just like my brother.

Is my brother some kind of arrogant prick? I don't think so. My favorite line of his is, "I am too stupid to quit." His spirit animal is the wolverine--an animal with insatiable hunger, fearlessness, and the audacity to take on much larger animals. I don't know if these are necessarily virtues, but they work for him.

So, where does the hatred come from? For me, it is senseless. I am always shocked when people hate me or develop some sort of rivalry with me. This usually happens at work. I have never been the best or most valuable employee at any place I have worked. Yet, I get hated on usually by the best and most valuable employees. I never pay attention to the status order since I work the same way always without regard to what others think of me but obeying my own inner dictates. The fact that these dictates and what my boss wants are sometimes the same thing is purely coincidental. I am as likely to be in conflict with the management as I am to do what they like. I just do what I think is right, and I don't give a fuck about the consequences.

So, why is there rivalry? I am OK with competition. I like playing games and trying to win. But if I lose, that is cool, too. But we are talking about Scrabble or touch football. These are fucking games. The point is to have fun. Work is not a game. Life is not a game. Status isn't about fun but hatred. That line about the one dying with the most toys being the winner is as cynical as it gets. Or as Gore Vidal put it, "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."

I have not met my brother's neighbors. I don't know them. But I imagine them to be typical middle class types with kids who play little league, and they go to church on Sunday. Their lifestyles rival 97% of that of the rest of the world. Yet, for all that is good in their lives, they hate on my brother. This is fucking retarded. As for me, I can't tell you the name of any of my neighbors. I don't know what they think of me because they never speak to me, and I don't speak to them.

This was the advice I gave to my brother. Fuck your friends and neighbors. This seems harsh, but it isn't as harsh as being friendly with a bunch of fake ass people who hate your guts. This is why I don't join clubs or involve myself in civic engagements. I don't go to church because I am an atheist now. But when I did go to church, it was the same petty hatred, gossip, and bullshit. People are either despising your successes or gloating at your failures. Who needs or wants this?

I don't want to call myself a loner, but this is what I am. I don't have a lot of use for other people. Somewhere, I became convinced that this behavior was unhealthy, so I tried to be more social. It didn't help. What has helped is to stop apologizing for being "anti-social." I don't give a fuck about the social game or the status game.

My brother is not like me. He is social. He has a family. He has sought and earned some status in his life. We both come from the same background, but my brother is different from me in that he has tried to be liked by others while I have not. The result is that people don't like my brother. It isn't my brother's fault. It is the simple fact that people hate you for being either a success or a failure. As Alain de Botton pointed out, people seek status because they want to be loved. The irony is that status does not promote love but hatred.

My answer to this thing is to not seek status but to seek individuality and originality. Being original and authentic are what matter to me. This may bring love or hatred. The difference is that I enjoy both the love and the hatred. They confirm to me that I am doing the right things which are living by my rules and doing what makes me happy. The result is that I am popular but have few friends.

In order to have friends and connectedness, you have to conform. You have to compromise yourself in order to run with the herd. When you are different, the herd reacts to you and shuns you. The same thing is true if you are great. Excellence and eccentricity both mark you as being outside of the herd. It means you are exceptional instead of ordinary. The result is a certain level of loneliness. If you want to be loved, the answer is simple. Be unexceptional and boring.

With my brother, the blunt truth is that he makes more money than his neighbors. This means he can purchase more consumer items than they can. Of course, my brother would be a speck of fly shit in the upper west side of Manhattan. He does plans for houses belonging to millionaires that make his house look like an outhouse. But my brother is the big fish in his little pond. Status is relative to the herd you run with.

I choose not to run with the herd. My brother is fairly individualistic, and I think he will make the same decision that I did. You get to a certain point in your life when you do what you do and tell the world to suck a dick. That rush of liberation is better than any accolades, love, or respect you could ever want from the world. It is freedom.

[U.] What You Need to Know About Area 51



i am scared. there are things you don't UNDERSTAND. what is the government not TELLING us about area 51? watch this shit:



when you need to know, jesse VENTURA has the ANSWERS:













FOR THE RECORD, i am not the man in the white van. U-MAN OUT.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. STILL ALIVE

My goal here at the C-blog is to post at least once a day. The problem is that I have a job, a girlfriend, and a laundry list of chores to do. The result is that my Twitter account and my Facebook wall are about the only thing that gets hit by me on a more regular basis.

The C-Blog is the home of my long form pieces and other shit. Sometimes, I am tempted to post filler. But I try to keep up the quality. Of course, some smart ass readers will quip that they are still waiting on that quality shit. All I can say is thanks for hanging in there with me. I run out of time sometimes, so I apologize if I have let you down.

2. LIBYA

I knew it was a matter of time before the US would stick its nose into the Libyan revolution which now looks like a lopsided civil war. It is simply a fact that when oil is in a country so will Western powers. Naturally, the reason for this tomfuckery is "humanitarian." The result is almost certainly going to be regret. We are seeing a third US war in the making with this. When will the foreign intervention end? Oh yeah, I forgot. It ends when this country is bankrupt.

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.--Sen. Barack Obama

3. RAND PAUL

The junior senator from Kentucky is shaking shit up. From piss poor toilets to cutting the budget to calling for the elimination of entire departments, this guy is a libertarian's wet dream come true. I am very impressed with what Rand is doing. Unfortunately, the rest of the GOP isn't even man enough to touch the sweat from Rand Paul's balls much less take a courageous stand with him. But judging by Rand's popularity as well as Ron Paul's present stature, being a principled libertarian is a winning message. This shows that you can be a libertarian and still hold elected office. We need more like these guys.

4. GLENN BECK

Rumors are swirling on the internet that Glenn Beck is fixing to get shitcanned at Fox News. I would welcome this especially if they give his spot to Judge Andrew Napolitano and Freedom Watch. Glenn Beck is a Mormon fucknut. His "libertarian" leanings have already been shot to shit with me. The guy is fucking retarded. The U-Man will probably send me some hate mail. But Glenn Beck is definitely with the tinfoil hat crowd. Only Alex Jones is worse.

5. iPHONE VS. ANDROID

I put it to a vote on Facebook, and it was no contest. The people who voiced an opinion in my unofficial poll love Android phones more than the iPhone. From a removable battery to lower prices, those Android phones are winning over consumers, and I predict some deja vu for Apple as they lose out to Google in much the same way they lost out to Microsoft. The one thing I have to add is that I think being open beats being closed. The closed strategy of Steve Jobs is not a winner. The guy exerts too much control, and customers hate this. I don't know if I will buy a smartphone, but if I do, it will be an Android. The same thing goes for a tablet. Apple is good at innovation. They are not so good at maintaining customer satisfaction and market share.

The Mental Diet




One of the fastest growing problems today is information overload. There is so much information that we don't know what we should know or not know. We don't know what to delete or not to delete. The result is a feeling of anxiety and despair as we gain access to more and more information. Like the obesity problem, this is a problem of abundance. The answer to both problems is to go on a diet. We already know what kind of diet we need for our bodies. We now need a diet for our minds.

Some information is vital. Most information is useless. Some we need to know. Some we only need access to. This is why people will memorize the periodic table but not the NYC telephone book. It all depends on the need to know. This is person relative which is why an information diet can be so problematic. For instance, a stock market trader is going to need more info on current events than a millwright working in a factory. I think the solution is to categorize the information. You can then make choices based on these categories.

The categories I have created are based on a total life of the mind versus what you might have flowing into your feed reader. I believe there are four kinds of information--entertainment, news, education, and training. Let us proceed.

1. ENTERTAINMENT

Entertainment are television shows, video games, watching dogs and cats on YouTube, engaging in pointless pissing matches on Facebook, etc. It also involves listening to music, going to the art museum, watching sports, reading a novel, or what have you. The purpose of entertainment is to escape reality for awhile. It is an alternative experience. This is the least important element in a mental diet.

2. NEWS

News is all the information on current events. It can cover politics, sports, gossip, or what have you. News is more important than entertainment because it may affect your life in a significant way. But most of the time, it is barely a notch above entertainment.

3. EDUCATION

Education is the next step up as this information is more important and life changing. This can be history, science, mathematics, or what have you. Of course, like with news and entertainment, education can be frivolous as well. Studying theology seems very wasteful to me as opposed to studying political philosophy. But I think studying theology is better than reading tabloid trash.

4. TRAINING

Training is education applied to a vocational endeavor or acquiring a vital skill. Where studying biology is education, studying medicine is training. Training can involve learning a language, mastering a martial art, or what have you.

I present these categories within the framework of a hierarchy. I think training is better than entertainment. I think education is better than news. But this does not answer the information overload question. It just gives us the tools to answer that question.

The answer to the information overload problem is simple. You must choose the essential and ignore the non-essential. It is deciding what is essential and what is non-essential that is the problem. But just looking at those categories already gives you a clue. You can eliminate almost all entertainment and most of what is news with little to no ill effect on your life. Of course, this only applies if you don't work in the fields of entertainment or politics. As I said, it is person relative. But it seems to me that the bulk of our mental diet should be devoted to the quality areas of education and training since these have the biggest impact. It also explains why universities and colleges and trade schools charge big money for this information. It is valuable information.

Certain thinkers in the past have tried to categorize information in terms of what was important and what was detrimental. There was the distinction between "high brow" and "low brow" as if popular entertainment and taste was somehow inferior to the tastes of the elite. What these people forget is that Shakespeare was a hack pandering to the masses of his day. It will amaze you how yesterday's low brow stuff becomes tomorrow's high brow stuff.

Another distinction was Neil Postman's verbal/visual dichotomy as presented in Amusing Ourselves to Death. That book was a big influence on me even motivating me to ditch my TV set in favor of books and a radio. Postman's thesis was that the visual passive medium of television was corrosive to the intellect. He made some dire predictions as well about the future of civilization. Naturally, he was wrong and could not see the impact of the internet which is largely a text based medium or that the bulk of today's television is a bunch of talking heads. Getting rid of your TV makes about as much sense as getting rid of your car because all that walking will get you into shape. Why not get rid of central heat and chop firewood?

I think trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all information diet or trying to come up with some sort of hard and fast category of what is good or bad is doomed to failure. Like with a food diet, I think the answer is to have some kind of balance. News and entertainment are like fast food and candy while education and training are like the vegetables, carbs, and protein your body needs. The answer is to choose better quality information over lower quality information.

For most people, their mental diet is concentrated in two areas--training and entertainment. People learn what they need for their jobs. Then, they goof off and waste time with shit like professional wrestling, sports, action movies, etc. Geeks and nerds tend to fall into this category knowing how to program computers but spending their idle time watching Lord of the Rings and gaming. News and education tend to appeal to the intelligentsia who spend their time reading Derrida and the New York Times. Losers live solely in the realm of entertainment while autistic savant types spend the bulk of their time towards the education/training end of the pool. There can be clashes and snobbery over this sort of thing. Like vegetarians and carnivorous Atkins paleo eaters, people find identity in their mental diets.

I can't speak to individual needs and tastes. I think most people wish they didn't spend so much time on Facebook. My mental diet breaks down like this. I try to read one book each week alternating between fiction and non-fiction. I watch one DVD or streaming video each week alternating between fiction and non-fiction. I keep my reading, internet, and video consumption confined to 9 pm or later. The rest of the time I listen to the radio or my iPod while cleaning the house, performing chores, etc. I try to weight my media consumption towards educational material. Media consumption is leisure for me. As for training, I treat that as work.

[SOC]

It is about 11 p.m. on a Monday night as I write this. For some weird reason, I want to write about my health, but that is shit some old man would talk about. Drink prune juice and go on living. Nobody wants to hear about your ailments.

The one ailment I do have is the perpetual tug of war between boredom and frustration. This is something I have talked with my brother about on many occasions. In all my essays, I talk about solutions. In these SOC pieces, I talk about my problems. Here is the biggest problem I have right now. I am bored. This is a big problem. I will try and elaborate.

For the last five years or so, I have been very happy. Realizing that happiness comes from flow and that flow comes from a life of rational activity, I have thrown myself into various projects while planning dozens more. The result was enthusiasm but frustration. Over and over, I run into the brick walls of limitation. This is why I am always going on about time, money, and energy.

In trying to answer the frustration issue, I have opted to cut back on my ambitious plans. I took a minimalist turn. The frustration abated. The end result is boredom. Boredom is the antithesis of happiness. I think it was Schopenhauer who said that life was either boredom or frustration. Very true shit.

The life of an autotelic Aristotelian type is a life of robustness. It is the Renaissance ideal. To accomplish this requires a great deal of effort, but it doesn't feel like effort. You are enjoying life. The problem is that it is so damn frustrating. Every time you come up with a plan, you can't pull it off because the plan requires resources you don't have. For instance, you might decide to read all the literary works in the Western Canon. Where are you going to find the time to do this? That is just one thing you can do. Only one. The result is that the life of the Renaissance Man is one of daydreams, half completed projects, and good intentions.

The flip side of this is the Platonic minimalist Zen Buddhist Stoic monk. This person simplifies to the bare essentials until they feel at peace. But this peace is just another word for boredom. Boredom is the opposite of happiness. Simplifying answers the frustration issue but leaves you with a new problem. This problem is boredom and as Schopenhauer puts it, "Boredom is a direct proof that existence is itself valueless, for boredom is nothing other than the sensation of the emptiness of existence."

I believe that happiness is finding meaning in an otherwise empty existence. You can spend all your time staring into the abyss trying to figure it out, but it won't do you any good. There is nothing to figure out. As Keynes put it, "In the long run, we are all dead."

When you choose to simplify, you are deciding between two or more things. In order to make the choice, you must decide what matters and what does not. This is a question of value. As you cycle through these choices, you realize that nothing matters at all. You lose the will to live or carry on. Boredom is the result.

I have been here many times. I find that simplifying is a negation of life. Frustration is a vexing issue, but it is not the same as unhappiness. When you follow the robust path, you have an enthusiasm for life. You want to live. You wake up each day wanting to do all the things you would like to do. Yes, it is easier to abandon a project as opposed to completing a project. The problem with completing projects is that we can't seem to pull it off because we lack focus, direction, and the like.

Both the robust life and the simple life have one thing in common. They are both choosing not to choose. One says all. The other says none. One scans all the channels on the TV set. The other throws the TV set out the window. The middle path is the way to go. We make our choices and live with those choices. The result is you get to choose boredom, frustration, or regret. Of the three, regret is the easiest to overcome.

This middle path between Renaissance Man and monk is what I call a "blue collar" path. This doesn't mean that you spend your days doing manual labor. What it means is less a commitment to goals and projects as it does a commitment to work. Back in the day, I was a fan of the Detroit Pistons squad when they won two championships with Isiah Thomas. These were the "Bad Boys" who took a blue collar approach to things. They weren't the most talented or the most accomplished. They just played a hard and gritty game of basketball. They poured a lot of heart into it. For a guy with as little talent as I have, that was an inspiring message and example. The meek could inherit the earth through hard work and perseverance.

Flow comes from work. It doesn't come from accomplishment since I quickly forget accomplishments. It doesn't come from idleness either. The dreamer puts together a list of things to do and doesn't do them. The idler skips the list and does nothing. The worker just goes out and works and sees what happens. The result is neither boredom nor frustration. Success and failure become meaningless to him.

This blue collar strategy represents my best answer to these problems I have. It is hard work without ambition. It is labor without frustration. If I am bored, it is almost always a result of not working. The answer is to work harder. When I am working good and hard, I get that feeling of flow. I lose myself in the work.

This path I am on mirrors the path of Western culture. You had the Dark Ages under Platonic thinking. This was negation of life. Then, you had the Renaissance under Aristotelian thinking which was flourishing but excessive. Then, along came the purity and austerity but world embracing thinking of the Protestant Reformation. It was the Renaissance without the excess. People focused on the useful versus the frivolous. Hard work and thrift became mainstays. The irony is that those people went on to surpass those Renaissance people.

The practical application of this is that I automatically eschew certain things. I don't do "vacation living." This would be vacations, weekend trips, hobbies, etc. The truth is that these things are terribly boring. The second thing I eschew is "McMansion living" which goes along with vacation living. The Renaissance was known for two things--its culture and its structures. The Puritans are known for their simplicity, thrift, and hard work.

The things I value are fairly simple. I value thrift and simplicity. This answers the resource problems concerning time, money, and energy. I value a good work ethic which goes further to resolve the resource problem as you earn more, get in better shape, and acquire knowledge and skills. I value authenticity which cuts out a ton of bullshit. I can go on and on, but it is those values that determine our choices. We end up with few regrets because you can't regret the loss of something you never wanted.

The bottom line is that the answer to boredom and frustration is simple hard work. Just get up every day and put on your hard hat. Hunker down and get 'er done. If you are bored, work. If you work hard as hell, you end up with less frustration because all frustration is ultimately a belief that we could have done better but didn't. When you work hard, you sleep well knowing you did your best with nothing left to give.

I have not fully plowed ahead with this blue collar mindset. This is why I am where I am now. It is time to get on with it.

[U.] The Truth About Freemasonry, the Illuminati, and Skull and Bones. Plus, the END OF THE WORLD

BITCHES. u-man here. prepare to receive your weekly dose of KNOWLEDGE.

secret societies run everything. you can see the evidence in this video. WAKE UP.



are you awake yet? you still asleep? WAKE YOUR DUMASS UP!!

here is the truth about SKULL and BONES.



all these secret societies are linked. you have the masons, skull and bones, bilderberg group. these are subsets of the illuminati. those cats are the REAL power players.



they know what is coming. THE END OF THE WORLD. you see what happened to Japan? the world is ending. we are FUCKED. planet x is coming into our orbit. nasa knows this and watches it. this will happen NEXT YEAR. i'm buying a lot of food and putting it in cans. i have a bucket to SHIT in. the rest of you will be fucked. i am sorry. i keep telling you but YOU NEVER LISTEN. check it out:



this is your WAKE UP CALL. the u-man is trying to help you. get your shit together or kiss your ASS good bye.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. JAPAN

I have been watching the footage on CNN, and the destruction is just sickening. Awful stuff over there. I am going to pony up some cash for relief efforts. It isn't much, but I see many contributions like my own adding up to a good deal of generosity.

2. FERRISS

I have unsubscribed from all of Tim Ferriss's feeds from his blog and his Twitter account. I am of the opinion that the guy is just a self-deluded full of shit con artist. The 4HWW book was OK, but I think 4HB is the quackery he started with when he was selling bogus supplements. There's a reason so many people Google "Tim Ferriss Scam."

3. iOS VS. ANDROID

I talk to a lot of people who have the iPhone and Andorid smartphones. No one really brags about their iPhone. I haven't heard anyone talk about the Android phones without saying that they are "amazing." In the debate between "open" and "closed," open is winning.

4. ROTHBARD AND THE KOCHTOPUS

Folks over at the Mises Institute have been drumming up the historical rift between Murray Rothbard and the Cato Institute ever since the Koch Brothers have been smeared because of the Wisconsin brouhaha. The way I see it is plain. Rothbard was an anarchist. Cato went minarchist. One side was rigidly devout. The other side was a bunch of sell outs. You can spin it either way, but it makes no difference to me. I read both Reason and Lew Rockwell. I like both Austrian and Chicago School economists. Do I agree with them all the time? Hell no. But I agree more than I disagree. And I appreciate someone like Andrew Napolitano who takes an ecumenical approach to the rift on Freedom Watch. But I think diversity matters, and the split was a good thing in my opinion.

5. RON PAUL

Ron Paul has two options. He can run for President which he will lose. Or, he can run for Senator from Texas which he will probably win. Throw in the fact that Gary Johnson is already running for President (unofficially) and Paul's age, it seems to me the smart move would be to go for that Senate seat and throw the weight of the Paul efforts behind Johnson. I would be fine with this scenario.

Matt Fitzgerald on Restrictive Diets

A high-quality diet is a diet in which all food types are allowed, but an effort is made to avoid specific “low-quality” foods of all types and to eat “high-quality” foods of all types. For example, the Diet Quality Score system I present in Racing Weight categorizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and essential fats as high-quality foods and refined grains, sweets, fried foods, whole-milk dairy products, and fatty proteins as “low-quality” foods.

We have already seen that a high-quality diet is just as healthy as any more restrictive health diet. Are high-quality diets healthier than “anything goes” diets—that is, the typical American diet? You bet it they are. For example, in a 2003 study by Swedish researchers, the diets of more than 58,000 women were analyzed for the variety of healthy and unhealthy foods they contained. It was discovered that those women who ate the greatest variety of healthy foods had the lowest mortality rate over a 10-year period, while those who ate the greatest variety of unhealthy foods had the highest mortality rate.


How Restrictive Is Your Diet?

This is an outstanding article. C-blog readers may recall my essay called Why You Are Fat. I have received a great deal of positive feedback on that one. Since writing that essay, I have done reading on various diets such as the vegetarian, vegan, and paleo diets. I have concluded with Matt Fitzgerald that they are a bunch of crap.

I follow a diet plan where I eschew fried foods, sweets, and fatty meats like hamburger while eating whole grain products, skim milk, and lean meats like poultry and fish. Then, when I read Fitzgerald's article and his low quality/high quality food categories, he was talking about my diet. It was deja vu all over again.

These crazy restrictive diets are not the answer. The answer is to eat better quality foods. The hardest thing I find about eating quality food is that eating crap is way more convenient. Eating quality food takes time and preparation. Otherwise, this way of eating works. You feel better. You lose weight. It is a no-brainer.

Q & A

Q: Do you think the USA will ever become truly libertarian?

A: The short answer is no.

The long answer is that liberty requires a certain level of intelligence, character, and responsibility from the citizens. A reading of history shows that the masses have never been this advanced. This is because as much as free trade and liberty benefit people, they would rather steal than trade. You get more production from a hired man than from a slave, but people chose to keep slaves. Similarly, you get more wealth from capitalism, but people still opt for socialism and the welfare state.

I think people can change. Slavery did end. Soviet communism was rejected. But even as they were ending Prohibition, they were outlawing marijuana and other drugs. People learn the lessons and then promptly unlearn them. Often, they hold completely opposing viewpoints such as that Tea Party shithead who yelled out for the government to keep their hands off his Medicare.

Asking me if there will be a move towards liberty in America is akin to asking me if I think there will be an outbreak of intelligence among the masses. That is never going to happen. So, why do I bother with this liberty stuff? The answer to that is simple. I like being smarter than this nation of shitheads. I enjoy heaping abuse and ridicule on idiots. In short, blasting these fools is good fun.

The world is stupid. I am better than the world. I know that you can't get something for nothing. I know that you can't build a prosperous society on theft and looting. I know that you can't ever control what people think or say or want to do with their lives. I also know that you can't take a fool and make him smart. Fools have only one advantage, and that is the power of sheer numbers. But the joke is on them because even with their numbers, shit never seems to go their way. The more they loot the less they have.

Anarchy and Minarchy



This is a perfect circle. Well, actually, it isn't. It is impossible to draw a perfect circle. This is how a Yahoo! Answers contributor put it:

The circle is a mathematical concept. It is the set of points at a specific distance from another point, the center. It can't be drawn, by hand or by computer, since a point has no dimensions. A computer can be programmed to make an arbitrarily accurate representation of a circle.

They do appear in nature. A rainbow. The electric field around an isolated electron (a sphere). But even these are not purely a circle in the mathematical sense.


So, it seems that my perfect circle is not a perfect circle. It is at best a close approximation to a concept, and I can never draw one even if I wanted to do it. So, what do perfect circles have to do with anarchy?

When it comes to libertarians, there are two primary flavors. You have the anarcho-capitalists, and you have the minarchists. The anarchists tend to be philosophical libertarians or deonotological libertarians. Now, I can go on all day trying to put together a taxonomy of the different sub-flavors of libertarianism. But I don't have to do this since I know I can rely on my commenters to do this for more. It would take days to try and outline what all these different people hold. So, I'm going to roll with the generalization for the sake of clarity.

Philosophical libertarians who hold the anarchist position argue that all acts of aggression are immoral. I agree. All immoral acts are fundamentally an aggression against the rights of others. According to this definition, no government no matter how minimal can ever satisfy this moral requirement. But this is the perfect circle. It is not coincidence that anarchists tend to be rationalists.

Consequentialist libertarians tend to be minarchists. They see freedom and liberty as yielding the best consequences for society. They believe this is best achieved through a minimal amount of government, and their arguments rely upon empirical proof. Philosophical libertarians argue like philosophers while consequentialist libertarians argue like scientists.

In a debate, philosophical libertarians win up until the point they have to produce facts. It is one thing to define a perfect circle. It is another thing to actually draw one. This is why anarchists are ignored no matter how rational their arguments are. This is because they argue in the abstract. Granted, they will argue that anarchist societies have worked and cite a sprinkling of examples. But these tend to be weak. Inevitably, when they want to make progress on things like refuting prohibition or championing free markets, they resort to consequentialist arguments.

The problem with anarchy is that even though members of society can decide to defend themselves and hire others to provide this service these services can also be used to aggress against others. For instance, Somalia is as anarchic as any country we have today. Governance is done by custom and administered purely locally. So, we see anarchy is not as chaotic as we think. But Somalia is also home to piracy. Like it or not, in a totally free society, there are going to be those who opt to steal and kill others. We see this with the Mexican drug cartels, street gangs in Los Angeles, motorcycle gangs, and the like. These people choose to live outside of the system of law-and-order, but they do not hesitate to aggress against others.

Anarchists will argue that government is no different than these gangs. There is some truth to that. Governments loot and kill as well. But they also incarcerate murderers and rapists and thieves. Government ended slavery and Jim Crow. Like a weapon, government can be used for offense or defense. In a truly just world, there would be no need for weapons whatsoever. But humans are not angels. The simple fact that anyone would have to buy a gun for self-protection is already a cost imposed upon him or her by the aggression of others. The fact that firms hire private security or resort to lawyers and legal defense and what have you are all costs imposed by the aggression or possible aggression of other people. Now, we can call these measures "government" or "private" and argue which gives the best return for the dollar. But make no mistake. We live in a world of aggressors. Absolute liberty defined as freedom from all aggression is an abstraction. It is a perfect circle. It is something to aim for and measure ourselves against. But it can never be had. Liberty is an approximation to this ideal which is why I am a minarchist.

Certain anarchists argue in a binary fashion that you are either a statist or an anarchist. Per Bylund is the most notable example of this mindset. Basically, you are either for government or not for government. Naturally, he becomes pretty absurd in his arguments even going after other anarchists. In Per Bylund's mind, I am a statist. This is like calling someone a homophobe merely because they find gay porn disgusting but otherwise support gay rights. This is where rationalism leads--absurdity. Define your categories and damn everyone who doesn't fit into those categories 100%. In short, you either have a perfect circle, or you have a square. That image you saw above actually isn't a circle. It is something else.

Minarchists believe that liberty is best because it works. They then labor to demonstrate those facts. They are also willing to compromise if the compromise results in a net gain in liberty. I think a totally private education system beats the public education system, but I can go along with vouchers as being better than what we have currently. I believe in limited government as opposed to unlimited government which fits the proper definition of a statist. A statist is one who sees unlimited government as being preferable either in whole or part. I am not a statist. I believe the government serves a role but only out of necessity. Government is at best a necessary evil. Anarchists cannot deal with this middle ground.

When I argue with statists, I have to point out the evil and unintended consequences of government. When I argue with anarchists, I have to point out the necessity. I can go along with a system of private security firms and private courts and the like. If it works better than what we have, I think it makes sense. We already have private arbitrage for civil matters. We already hire security guards. People arm themselves. I can go along with abolishing 90% or more of the government. But those functions of courts, police, and defense remain whether you have a government or a private firm supplying them. This is not government but privatized government. The fact that you would have to pay a single penny for any of these services is a form of tyranny since they are all defenses against aggression. The fact that these services are voluntary may help a bit to satisfy the mind of the anarchist. But it is still government to me in much the same way that a private school is still a school.

Anarchists are free at any time to pursue their anarchy. They can hire their own security forces, assemble their own weapons, and then defy the government by refusing to pay taxes. People have already done this to greater or lesser success. Of course, we don't call them anarchists. We call them outlaws. Whether it is Jesse James or David Koresh, people have and do opt out of the system. Yet, I don't ever see anarcho-capitalists doing this. They may refuse to vote because it gives legitimacy to the system, but they still pay their taxes and do as they are told. None of them actually follows through with it. Why? For the simple reason they would lose. They may hate the present system, but they still live within it because it beats the alternative. When it becomes worse, then this is when revolution breaks out. Anarchists could balance the power of the state with greater numbers. But to have these numbers, they would have to come to some sort of agreement on shared principles. If this seems like a rerun of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, it is. Since individuals are so highly varied, any such agreement is going to be a compromise. Anarchists go along with the compromise even if they don't like it. This is the way it is. It can be made better or worse, but I doubt that it can ever be made perfect.

Anarchists will point out that it is in the nature of governments to grow and to become tyrannies. There is truth to this, but I think we can admit that the present system in the USA is better in some ways than it was back when George Washington was sworn in. We don't have slavery anymore. Women can vote. We still have a free press. Other things are not so good such as that damn income tax. But relative to history, the USA is indeed unique. It isn't perfect, but it can be better. In the absence of perfection, I am going to take the next best thing. Right now, that is the USA.

You can't create a perfect circle. Similarly, you can't create a perfectly free society. These things don't exist. But we can say that one circle is superior to another circle. That is the essence of consequentialism and the minarchist position. I can argue that limited government is better than statism. I can't argue that limited government is better than anarchy anymore than I can argue that Earth is better than Heaven. But that is the difference between reality and abstraction. A real circle trumps a perfect but non-existent circle. Empiricism trumps rationalism. The anarchist like the Christian and the Utopian and the Marxist must show us that it is real. So far, I remain unconvinced. Seeing is believing, and I don't see it. I can see where drug legalization works. I can see where low taxes work. I can see where free markets work. I can see the spontaneous order of the internet. But I don't see Somalia having anything superior to the USA. I don't see historical examples of anarchic societies that flourished the way this country flourishes today. Even as revolutionaries were overthrowing the government in Egypt, looters were pillaging, rapists were sexually assaulting women, and the populace turned to the military for order. The fact that government emerges from the disorder speaks to the reality that some measure of authority must be necessary. And the fact that those governments get overthrown when they go too far or become utterly corrupt also speaks to the necessity of limits.

NOTES

1. The Concept Of A Perfect Circle?

2. Deontological libertarianism

3. Consequentialist libertarianism