The Best of Charlie's Blog--2011

I'm going to let this be the last post of the year. I'm on fumes right now which is why my posting has been sporadic. I'm happy with my year in blogging, and I hope to really knock it out of the park in 2012. Looking back, here are the 10 best posts of 2011 as decided by yours truly:

Triathlon is a Stupid Sport

This post was a surprise for me since I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. But a lot of triathletes went after it when somebody posted it on Twitter, and it continues to rake in the hate and the debate almost a year later. My opinions on the subject haven't changed a bit.

Why Running is the Perfect Sport (Almost)

This post was sort of the antithesis to the triathlon post. Where triathlon appeals to elitist pricks with disposable income, running is an egalitarian sport than anyone can do because it is virtually free. This post was not as popular as the tri-post since I managed to piss off virtually no one with it.

Anarchy and Minarchy

This post was written as an answer to all my anarchist friends on Facebook on why I am a minarchist. I link to it often in various discussions, and no one has bothered to rebut the argument.

The Myth of Superman

This post had to do with the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves because of a myth of isolated superior achievement. The reality is that most child prodigies turn into nothing, and guys like Edison were not as unique as we imagine them to be. Consequently, we need to cut ourselves some slack because we haven't invented cold fusion yet.

How to Change the World

This post was inspired by Leonard Read's lesson about Nock's One Improved Unit. Basically, you change the world by changing yourself. Nothing inspires people more than a shining example of the way they ought to be and ought to think. You can check out that vid below:



How to Become a Minimalist--The Maximal Guide to A Simpler Life

A lot of people ask me about minimalism from Facebook or the blog, and I usually send them to a Leo Babauta site. But I thought it would be neat to write an exhaustive post about the subject in a maximalist style. It isn't really a complicated subject, and I find that it is a very appealing subject to a large group of people.

Minimalism and Choice

This was another post on the subject of minimalism. These two posts are sort of a preview of what is in the book I am writing called The M List. I am still working on that volume as I want it to be something more than just repackaged stuff from my blog. I'm very proud of what I have written so far, and I am going to put a lot of polish on that baby. The cornerstone of minimalism is the necessity of choice.

Leo Babauta and Others on Living Without Goals

This was my perspective on Babauta's "living without goals" meme and the debate it created. I followed it up with another post called Living Without Ambition that gave a more complete answer to the conundrum that Leo created with his exhortation to live without goals. Another post called Leo Babauta on the Self-Improvement Urge is also about the same subject.

How to Get Rid of a Moocher

A lot of people told me they appreciated this one because it helped them to get rid of some moochers in their own lives. I'm glad I could help.

Why Your Family is Fucked Up

I received a lot of good feedback on this one, and people found it helpful as well. Writing it helped clarify to me why I have always had issues with my own family, and also why I shouldn't feel bad or guilty for getting them out of my life.

That's it for 2011. I really had a good time with the C-blog this year, and I have enjoyed all of the feedback I have received this year in the comments and from people who send me email. I also want to give thanks to my two contributors--the artist Malnic and our resident conspiracy theorist, the Unknown Blogger. You have added variety to the C-blog. For anyone else wishing to contribute something to this space, feel free to shoot me an email.

As for 2012, I will continue blogging as always unless disaster strikes me down. I have more ambitious plans for 2012 than I did for 2011, so I think I will top myself in the new year. As always, thanks for reading. It is a real pleasure to have you as readers.

MALNIC

The North Face Sucks!



Actually, I don't know if North Face apparel sucks or not. I am not a wear tester, and I have never tried out any of their gear. In fact, I have never owned a single item from the North Face. I couldn't tell you a damn thing about any of their shit. This is more about the brand and the social impact of that brand than the actual products.

My first experience with North Face Hatred or NFH began with the daughter of one of the women I dated. She was in elementary school at the time and making comments about a clique at her school. This clique was known simply as "the North Face." I had no clue what she was talking about. I had seen the brand before, but I never considered it from any social standpoint. To me, it was just another brand like Patagonia or Lands' End or L.L. Bean. But this clique of snobby girls wore a sort of uniform to distinguish themselves from the others, and this was the North Face jacket--a piece of trendy apparel. My girlfriend's daughter then proceeded to show me pictures from her school annual of these snobby girls all wearing the same branded jacket. I had a good laugh over that.

In my day, it was all about sneakers. You wanted to be wearing Nike sneakers and the most coveted sneakers of all were the Air Jordans. That trend continues to this day with those shoes still being top sellers. I feel like I am in a time warp when I step into a Foot Locker at the mall as the sneakers seem to have changed little over the years. The same sort of hype surrounds products from Apple as their products have a certain coolness factor to them. The ridiculousness of it all comes from the fact that these products are all mass produced, and the only significant difference between them is the brand. You aren't buying greater quality so much as a greater signifier.

I am as brand conscious as the next consumer, but this is because I don't want to waste my dough on junk. I find that the brands I like have a certain utilitarian quality to them. For instance, I am a very loyal consumer of Timex watches. They aren't flashy or fancy. They are basic. But they are cheap, and they work. I'm sold. I see ads for much better watches that look way cooler than my Timex. But I never buy them. The same thing goes with computers. I'm going to get some Japanese made Windows machine forever. This is because the Macbook Pro costs way too much especially when you consider all I do is write blog posts, make crappy art, and surf the internet.

I did some comparison shopping, and your standard issue North Face fleece jacket costs $165. So, I went over to the Patagonia website to see what their prices were for a similar fleece jacket. It was $179. Then, I went to Lands' End. I couldn't find a fleece jacket that was identical, so I just went with the most expensive one they offered. It was $79.50. LL Bean's jacket was $55.20. Columbia's jacket was $180. Walmart offers a camo fleece jacket for $75. Or you can shell out $20 for some no brand jacket that accomplishes the same job. This is because fleece is dirt cheap. The same material that is in the cheapie Walmart jacket is virtually identical to the same shit in a name brand jacket.

The reason you see such price differences for the same product is because of branding and targeted demographics. With the North Face, you could see where some climber taking on Denali might care about having quality gear. But why does a schoolkid care about having a North Face jacket? It is for the same reason that peacocks grow those outrageous tails that would make them chicken dinner in the wild. They can afford to blow it.

I'd like to say adults are immune to this, but they aren't. I routinely see snooty housewives wearing those North Face jackets while driving big ass SUVs with a Mercedes emblem on them. I know they aren't mountain climbing or hitting the 4WD switch in the SUV. These are the new status symbols while in a different time it would be a Mercedes sedan and a fur coat. The most nauseating thing I saw was the mother-daughter combo wearing their respective North Face jackets.

The hip hop gang gets in on the act as well. North Face is joining other luxury brands as something for rappers to exploit. It is for this reason that I no longer care to wear anything made by Nike or Timberland. North Face will join the same pile of clown wear.



The NFH is palpable especially among hipsters. The backlash against the brand inspired a parody brand called the "South Butt" that enraged the North Face prompting them to file a lawsuit against the South Butt. The two companies made a settlement, and the South Butt is now off the market. I'm not sure what the North Face was afraid of, but they clearly didn't want their coolness factor threatened with the parody. I also see no difference in the products. That whole episode shows the absurdity of the whole branding phenomenon.

Many companies today are nothing but a brand. The manufacturing is outsourced overseas while the product design and marketing happens back here in the states. The irony of it all is that most of it is identical, overpriced, and worn by people who are only outdoors during the walk between their cars and the front doors of their homes, workplaces, or whatever shop they are going into.

When I see brands, I ask myself what the story is behind that brand. I picked this wisdom up from Seth Godin, the high priest of marketing. Basically, a brand tells a story which is why people buy that brand. They want the brand that best reflects who they are. Hipsters are no different than North Face yuppie scum in this regard as the hipsters opt for Dickies workpants, trucker's hats, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. The hipsters want to tell a different story about themselves. The irony is that others latch on to this hipster trendsetting which gives birth to brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, and others where people buy jeans that are already fucked up.

I find myself in the middle of these two groups. I have a certain hipster fondness for Carhartt and Dickies, but I also like New Balance and Under Armour. I have two fleece jackets. One is made by Izod and cost $100. The other is a generic item from Walmart that cost less than $20. Both were gifts, and I wear the cheap one more than the expensive one. I find the cheap one feels better because it isn't as heavy which is great for the walk from the car to the front door of wherever. I don't really like either one of them, but I am too cheap to replace them. The bottom line is that I'm not out to tell a story with what I wear. I just want value for the dollar which is what a good brand should be about.

As far as the actual North Face gear goes, it seems to get high marks from the outdoor crowd who actually use the stuff for climbing, hiking, camping, and trail running. I'm not into those activities, so I don't need to buy that gear. But when those people wear North Face apparel, they tell a different story than the SUV driving snobby mom at the mall drinking her Starbucks. You will notice that similar brands like Patagonia, Columbia, and Mountain Hard Wear don't engage in that same storytelling. One day, the North Face will lose that story, and people will shun that brand. Even the diehards will drop it because wearing that gear will be seen as embarrassing. The brand may be resurrected by some future hipsters in much the same way that Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers stay in production. Or it may just disappear. Not all stories have happy endings. The way the North Face story is going, it won't have a happy ending either.



---

LINKS

Wilderness chic

The South Butt


VIDEOS



Mark Lowe on Living the Minimalist Lifestyle

I get caught up in the consumer hype of spending and buying. I feel somewhat obligated to buy things for others to show them that I appreciate them. A bit ridiculous for sure.

The other thing I struggle with in a big way in my form of minimalist living is trying to not feel like a failure for what I have accomplished thus far in my life and for how much money I make.

I make enough to pay my bills and contribute nicely for my retirement. But when around my girlfriend’s circle of friends I feel very inadequate. They all make very, very good money and are successful. They have successful businesses and some have won awards. They like to go out and eat at nice restaurants and travel and that is fine . It is just a bit hard to not feel inadequate. Don’t get me wrong. They are very nice people.

Last night the men were talking about looking at 200.00$ dress shirts. Ha. All my shirts together might not equal 200.00$. So I don’t have a lot to contribute to the conversation.

And I hate that inevitable question of, “So what do you do?”. Well I work in a factory and really am a replaceable drone. I make a lot less than a new college graduate. About 35000.00$ a year. Most people would wonder how someone can live on that much money. Minimalist living is how. And it is something I believe in.


Is Minimalist Living Hard?

Mark Lowe speaks from the heart on this. I have to wonder what sort of profession requires a $200 shirt. I don't know what the Canadian exchange rate is to the US dollar, but it sounds like a lot of dough to me. I might spend $200 on a Carharrt jacket, but I never spend more than 20 bucks for a shirt.

For me, the hardest part of being a minimalist is the discipline that it takes. With so much abundance and a cushion of savings, you get a bit liberal with the pocketbook. It is easy to be minimalist when you are broke but a bit harder when you are flush.

For Mark, it becomes an issue of status. I don't have the same issue as status was something I rejected long ago back in high school. This is more of a blue collar thing than a minimalist thing. I would learn later that my working parents had more money than they showed while all my "rich" friends had parents swimming in debt. I learned that not all wealth is authentic, and appearances can be deceiving. I've met some real millionaires in my life, and I have always been impressed by how little they regarded the opinions of others or how inconspicuous their consumption was. One millionaire had cows in his backyard and drove a Ford pickup.

Authentic wealth comes from hard work and deferred consumption. Guys buying $200 shirts are not deferring consumption. So, who lives like this? The only people I know who live like this work in white collar jobs usually involving financial services. It reminds me of banker Raymond Peepgass from Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full who rakes Charlie Croker over the coals for his inability to pay off his half a billion in debts to the bank. Meanwhile, Peepgass struggles to live on his $130K a year salary as he has maxed out numerous credit cards. Peepgass is a loathsome creature exulting in degrading Croker while he himself cannot manage his own more modest finances.

People familiar with Tom Wolfe will know that he bases his characters on real people. I have known and met people like Peepgass. They make a good deal of money, but they spend a good deal of money as well. Millionaire celebrity athletes are the same except they carry the excess to the next power. The result is the same. They end in financial ruin.

Why do people do this? They do this because they are enslaved to the opinions of other people. It isn't enough to be successful. You must show that you are successful. This is the crux of the issue between minimalists and maximalists. Maximalism is all about the appearance. Minimalism is all about the reality. Even Steve Jobs who was a billionaire was bewildered by the conspicuous consumption of his subordinates at Apple. The irony is that they probably lived in bigger houses and drove flashier cars than the boss.

Right now, I have money. I am able to pay my bills, and my disposable income is way larger than my appetite. I have no debt. This is all because of minimalism. I am always running out of time, but I don't worry about money. This is because I only spend for myself not for the sake of impressing other people. I don't have status. I revel in my anti-status.

I could change all this if I wanted to. I merely need to get a job in financial services and fuck people over for a living. I even had a girlfriend who begged me to do this. Even she did not have the moral vacuum necessary to do this, but she wanted me to have it in order to cash in. No thanks. Being happy is more important than making dishonest money. If I don't create value, a big paycheck is no substitute. I dumped that bitch.

If I could give some advice to Mark, it would be to select a better group of friends. All my friends are blue collar like me. They are real and authentic. Even the ones who make a lot of money relative to me still keep it real and humble. And this also explains those millionaires who drive pickup trucks. My friends have authenticity. They are real. What you see is what you get. Anyone who wears a $200 shirt is an inferior in my book.

Bachelorhood in the Post-Love Era


I hate to blow your whole new story, but I was married, so I gave it a shot.

GEORGE CLOONEY


Long time readers of the C-blog know about my opinions about love being bullshit and my admiration for perma-bachelor George Clooney. I don't know the full extent of Clooney's thinking on these things, but I see a logic behind his lifestyle. The conventional wisdom is that Clooney is some sort of man-boy who can't quite grow up and commit to marriage. This is simply horseshit. The reason I know it is horseshit is because I get the same criticism.

If you watch Clooney's move Up in the Air, you get a clue about the guy. He didn't write the movie, but he clearly picked the movie and the role that mirrors his own life. Now, here's your warning. Spoilers are ahead. Stop reading if you want to go watch the movie unspoiled. Clooney plays this unattached bachelor living a swinging lifestyle until he meets a lady much like himself. Clooney resists any sort of deep relationships for obvious reasons, but he thinks he might be making a mistake with letting this one go. So, he decides to surprise her by going to her home and doing one of those Romeo moves women gush about in romantic movies. When he goes there, he is shocked and stunned to discover that this woman is actually married with kids. She had lied to him. She wanted a fling probably to alleviate the boredom of her current marriage. Clooney is crushed by the revelation.

That scene from that movie spoke more to me than just about anything I've seen Clooney do. I think this is why Clooney chose this movie. The character mirrors Clooney, and the choices are the same. Should you choose to be the swinging unattached bachelor? Should you choose to be the cuckolded husband who has no clue that he is married to a wanton slut? Or should you choose to be a cheater who tries to have the best of both worlds?

Clooney was married once to Talia Balsam, and I don't know the reason for the breakup. They divorced for "irreconcilable differences." There may have been adultery. I don't know. But that one marriage was enough for Clooney to swear off doing it ever again. What followed was a string of relationships that continue until the present day with mostly airheaded forgettable bimbos. The only honorable mention goes to Renee Zellweger who seems to have had something more going for her other than being attached to Clooney.

Clooney's latest role is as a cuckolded husband in The Descendants which shows Clooney exploring what an alternative life of non-bachelorhood would have been like. I haven't seen it yet, but you can see Clooney going back to that same territory again. But there is one thing you have to dispel from your mind. It is the idea that Clooney is a man-boy. I just don't see it.

My personal opinion of Clooney is that he is just like me on these subjects. He is a deep guy, but he is simply bewildered by the shitty options in front of him. He knows that love is bullshit, so he does not get married. He chooses forgettable bimbos that he can dispose of when they get antsy and want that deeper but ultimately meaningless commitment. He plays the role of the debauched bachelor, but his acting work shows that this is merely a front.

Clooney has lots of friends, and people say he is a great guy. He has made choices that have cost him purely for the sake of integrity, so he isn't shallow. Plus, he is friends with Sandra Bullock. That friendship is the oddest thing in Clooney's life because they seem like such a natural couple and both have been single at the same time. Yet, nothing ever happens. They appear to have a deep but platonic relationship. The fact that Bullock would marry the likes of Jesse James shows that she isn't the one refusing to take things to the next level with Clooney. Clooney clearly is the one who keeps things this way.



I have relationships like this. There are women in my life who I consider to be awesome friends. My relationships with them have even caused them grief with their current men. But I don't sleep with them. The only physical contact I have with them is a hug. That's it. That's all I want it to be. And why is this? Because I know that friends shouldn't have sex with friends. It doesn't work. In this wisdom is an epiphany. Sex and friendship are exclusive things. They cannot be mingled.

I think this is why people are so devastated by love. The problem comes from unrealistic expectations. We want to be friends with the ones we are sleeping with. This isn't possible. Trust me, I have tried. I've tried being friends with the women I have dated, and it never happened. I have tried to turn female friends into girlfriends. This was also a disaster. I once had a female friend who came out of nowhere and put me in a liplock. I was surprised and intrigued, but I shot her down shortly after that. I had related to her for so long as a friend that I couldn't shift gears like this. Her response was to drop me as a friend, find some other guy, and promptly get married. It is 20 years later, and she is still married to that guy as far as I know. I think this is great.

I have no problem with meaningless one night stands or platonic relationships. Neither cause me emotional distress. It is those relationships that attempt to straddle this divide that have left me embittered and jaded. The answer to this dilemma is to stop trying to mix the two. Sex and friendship don't mix.

I have talked to many people about their arrangements in this area, and it all comes down to this sex/friendship thing. You have the "fuck buddy" phenomenon where you have a man and a woman say they are "just friends." But they aren't friends at all. They are merely an extended one night stand. Then, there are sexless marriages, open marriages, and the rest. What makes all this work? The divorce between sex and friendship.

My last relationship ended on this stunning realization. I realized that the woman I had been with for three years was not my friend. I have to admit that I felt a bit devastated over this. But it was my own fault for thinking such an arrangement could ever work. It never works.

Plato said that the truest love was friendship, and this is where we derive the "platonic" in the platonic relationship. Where sex is the love between two bodies, friendship is the love between two minds. Once those two things are established and separated, you experience some real peace for the first time. This is where I am at now.

I separate women into two categories now. There are the platonic relationships, and there are simply the physical relationships. I will never ever attempt to mix those two ever again. Love is that lie that you can sleep with your friend. The successful bachelor will try and keep his female friends as just friends while satisfying his urges with women who are preferably dumb and blonde.

Q & A

Q: Should the government abolish marriage?

A:
No.

This question came to me as a comment on an earlier post, and I can say emphatically that government should play no role whatsoever in whether or not people marry. Government should neither encourage nor discourage the custom, and it definitely needs to get out of the marriage license business.

My personal view is that marriage is a farce, With the rampant divorce rate, high infidelity, and the misery that people experience being yoked to another person for life, I think getting married is incredibly stupid. Basically, you are making a lifelong commitment based on nothing more than hormonal urges that rarely last beyond seven years max.

As a libertarian, I don’t think my personal views should be forced on other people. If people choose to marry, it really is none of my business. I think marriage is dumb, but I think people should be free to be dumb.

Sex Robots




Could a cold machine ever love a man?
Could a piece of steel ever understand?
What makes the man human and makes him tick?
What makes him love deep and what leaves him sick?
A machine cannot love and cannot feel.
A cover of flesh, but its heart is steel.
But what real woman is better than this?
Her icy cold heart and counterfeit kiss.
The femme machine is programmed to obey.
The femme animal is made to betray.
Thus, every man must choose to lose or lose.
There is no win in choosing used or use.
With flesh, there is to lose and none to gain.
With steel, there is no true love and no pain.
The path of love leads to harsh bitterness.
The path of steel leads to cold emptiness.

[SOC]

Christmas is winding down as I write this. I heard a Nat King Cole song on the radio, and I felt nostalgia for a time when I wasn't even alive. Someone will tell me this is evidence of a previous life. But I don't believe in reincarnation. When you die, you die.

I have been writing poems lately. I was thinking about how no one paints in the classical realistic style anymore except a few oddballs here and there who keep that classic style alive. Similarly, most people prefer rock music over Bach. Likewise, poetry done in classical meter and rhyme has virtually disappeared. There is no poetry except for rap and song lyrics or some navel gazing free verse garbage. So, I figured that I would bring it back because I can.

The subject matter of my poems will be contemporary, and I like the heroic couplets of guys like Alexander Pope. I am contemplating an epic poem or two as well. I have a lot on my plate as it is. But the projects interest me, and that is all the motivation I need to pursue them.

I want to do poems about cowboys, samurais, ninjas, sci fi, knights, demons, or whatever interests me. I think I would be a great lyricist for some gothic heavy metal band. I even want to do an epic poem about a gothic heavy metal band.

Looking back over the year in blogging, I have essentially doubled my creative output. I have indulged myself like no other year before, and I intend to go further in 2012. To be honest, I have fallen short of my own personal goals, but my failure in pursuit of those goals has yielded more than whatever modest goals achieved would have brought me. I am learning that it is OK to bite off more than you can chew. This is not exactly minimalist, but it is yielding great results as far as I can see.

MALNIC, Christmas card

[U.] U-Man's Xmas Delivery



u-fans!! MERRY MOTHERFUCKING CHRISTMAS!!! break out the chicken and collard greens. the u-man has gifts for all the good boys and girls especially the really good girls. u-daddy has what you need.

time for some dope on the ILLUMINATI:



believe the HYPE!

REPTILES!! straight k to the brain:



barbarian rebellion with some christmas cheer:



alex jones with the latest scoop on FEMA camps. military detention PEOPLE! wake up to the NWO:



the government is going to LOCK US UP. get your shotguns ready. we are headed for GITMO.

extra christmas k:



randy gage cuts the christmas CHEESE:



u-man is busting that christmas NUT. time for santa to CUT back to the north pole kiddies. REMEMBER, shit on the haters! peace to the posse in the new year. i'm out this motherfucker.



Devastator



I will set it straight. I will devastate.
I will purge this land with fiery hate.
People will bleed and die inside my wrath.
The living are whipped and led down the path.
Their subordinate wills bend to my own.
They bend their knees to the one I alone.
It is my single dream to reign supreme
And to be worshipped in royal esteem.
I am the greatest man to ever live.
Because no one greater can ever give
The kind of love and grace I have for you
And all the merciful acts that I do.
And what is this mercy of which I speak?
I let you live when you were smashed and weak.
Now that you are strong, and I am now done.
Please please remember as you point your gun.
I am simply a man misunderstood.
Everything I did was done for a greater good.

VIDEO--Atlas Shrugged, Part 1



I finally got around to watching the movie of Atlas Shrugged. I dragged my feet on it because people were damning it as a low budget movie. I was expecting to see some amateurish flick with bad special effects. I shouldn't have listened to those critics because they outdid themselves on this one.

This movie does not have name brand talent like Angelina Jolie or Tom Cruise. Otherwise, it is a fine adaptation of Rand's novel. I never once had a cringe moment watching this movie. Instead, I couldn't help but notice how much it reflected what is going on today in America. Michael Bay may have done the movie differently with a huge budget and eye popping special effects. But it would have really sucked. Money does not make a great film.

Is this a great film? Not exactly. The problem is that it is clearly part of a larger epic work. It feels incomplete because you only have the first part of the story. You get to the end of this crushed by the fact that the bad guys are clearly winning. You still have two more parts to go. Since I have read the book, I know what to expect.

The story is like this. The good guys are the people in the world who are capitalist and produce and earn. The bad guys are the socialists and the parasites who devour everything and loot and justify it all in the name of "equality" and "fairness." The good guys put up a good fight, but some of them decide it isn't worth it anymore. They go on "strike" leaving the world and the parasites to destroy themselves. The leader of this strike is a man named John Galt. We won't meet him until Part 3.

Part 1 focuses on Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart. Dagny runs a railroad while Hank produces a new alloy called Rearden Metal that will revolutionize Dagny's business. The socialists can't allow this. Dagny and Hank fight and win. Then, they lose as oil man Ellis Wyatt throws in the towel and goes on strike with Galt's people. The strikers simply disappear from the scene.

The most galling scene is where a character hits up Rearden for a donation to his progressive cause but asks that the donation be wired, so that they won't be embarrassed to have Rearden's name on a check. That is the epitome of what Atlas Shrugged is about. The capitalists are the ones that provide the wealth while at the same time demonized for providing it.

When I first read Ayn Rand's novel, it made a profound impression on me. I'm not as extreme in my viewpoints as she was, but I do share here absolute antipathy for the looters and the parasites. As I pointed out on Facebook once, Rand's heroes are unreal, but her villains are absolutely true. In the case of the leech Wesley Mouch, you need look no further than Paul Krugman. The character and the man are virtually identical.

I liked this movie, but I must admit that I want to see the whole epic completed. This first part is a good beginning, but it isn't complete. The movie ends with you wanting to know one thing. Who is John Galt?

The Sleep Demons



When the sun has set and the dark has come,
I feel the beat of a slumbering drum.
Fight as I might, I cannot win this war.
I feel the sleep demons arrive once more.
They have no mercy as they seal my fate.
They lay upon me a relentless weight.
My eyelids droop and heavy shoulders sag.
My back is stooped down as my lead legs drag.
The sleep demons come and take me to bed.
One day, the death demons will make me dead.

Toys and Tools



I am a big fan of the Fender Telecaster guitar. It doesn't get as much love or honor as the Stratocaster, but it has always struck me as a guitar for a blue collar type of player. It is basic with just two pickups. I have seen versions with humbuckers that produce that warm rich sound. It is a solid instrument for playing rhythm and a good choice for playing lead in country music. It has the ability to play a bright clean tone or a warm rich tone depending on which pickup you select. Unlike other instruments like Gibson guitars, these babies are mass produced in a factory with interchangeable parts. They are relatively cheap, reliable, repairable, and customizable. If you get the idea that I would like to have one, you would be correct.

This post is not about guitars but about the difference between tools and toys. In the hands of a dedicated musician, the Fender Telecaster is a useful tool. In my hands, the Tele is just a toy. What is the difference? The difference is in purpose and aim. Plus, talent and profession also play a role. For me, a guitar is just a toy. It would be an enjoyable toy that would give me many hours of enjoyment. But I'm not a guitarist.

As a minimalist, this distinction between tools and toys is very important. It determines what you will buy and why you buy it. For instance, a car is a tool. It provides transportation. Now, I can drive a reliable Toyota Camry, or I could buy an impractical sports car. I drive a Camry. I go with Toyota for the same reasons I would buy a Telecaster. It is reliable yet relatively cheap. My Toyota has been a good tool.

Minimalists don't buy toys. They buy tools. This is why they have fewer things, but they are better. Everything they own must serve some purpose or end. People with clutter accumulate toys. This is why they can't park their car in the garage, or they rent storage space. They see a toy, and they give in to their inner child. They buy the toy, exhaust its entertainment value, and then abandon that toy. It could be a Fender Telecaster, a stationary bicycle, a sword, a gun collection, or whatnot. And let's admit it, folks. The difference between having a collection and having clutter is merely in how it is stored.

When you go to buy something new, ask yourself a question. Is this a tool or a toy? I ask myself that question all the time. I used to have an extensive wish list, but when I applied the toy/tool test, I whittled it down significantly. The irony is that I now have almost every item on my wish list. I am at a point where I am no longer buying new tools so much as replacing old ones that are completely worn out.

Toys are fun. But toys are like candy. Candy is tasty, but you can't live on it. Tools are useful. They can be fun as well but in a different way. They enable you to do what you do in a better and easier way. For me, my computer is not a toy but a tool. It plays a huge role in my life. If my computer went down, I would go immediately to a store and buy a new one. There is no question about this. If I owned a Fender Telecaster and it self-destructed for some reason, I would never replace it with a new one. I would probably regret not selling the old one while it still had value.

I can't tell someone what is a tool or a toy. This is relative. For one person, a motorcycle is a useful tool as it provides low cost transportation. For another person, it is just a toy meant to fulfill some Easy Rider fantasies. But I think you are better off without toys. Toys are expensive. They eat money and space and end up as clutter. So, you should learn to live without them.

Q & A

Q: Is freedom doomed?

A:
Yes.

The history of humanity shows that humans are not free. You will notice that most discussions of history are dominated by stories of war, and it is only until the last few centuries that you get to stories of exploration and true scientific endeavor. For the most part, human history is one long bloody story of people getting over on other people usually through violent means.

The history of the USA is a blip in all that history. Even then, it is not so swell. The times we live in today are atypical. Will they last? Probably not. Even now, forces are moving to eradicate human flourishing.

Freedom and respect for life and property are the cornerstones for human flourishing. Much of the exceptional times we enjoy today owe a great deal to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. But even though we have reams of evidence showing the failures of communism or the fact that religion is a myth, these errors persist and crop up again and again.

Tyranny persists for the same reasons that violence, murder, and rape persist. There are people who will always want to take instead of trade for what they want. Inevitably, those people find their way into government. It is what it is. I cannot change it.

I am what I call a "libertarian pessimist." I believe that freedom is the best way to go. I also believe that people are too stupid to be free. Even now, the American electorate has a real choice in Ron Paul, but they aren't going to make him President. This is because of this inherent stupidity on their part. Ron Paul represents the end of the welfare check. Nevermind that the country is going broke. It will have to go broke before people listen. Then, they promptly forget what they heard. This is why I begin with education but end with mockery and ridicule for these stupid worthless motherfuckers.

[SOC]

It is Saturday morning as I write this. I think people have figured out that I write things to be published at a later time. I have a rough editorial schedule that I follow which is why I don't publish things as soon as they are written. I fail to keep that schedule because writing is something I do sandwiched between doing other things. But they key reason things don't get written as planned is because of lack of inspiration. Sometimes, you just don't feel up to the task of working on a project.

These free writing posts give me the freedom to break away from the schedule. It is a way to procrastinate without actually wasting the time. Without a set agenda, I can just let the words flow as they always do. This is a very useful exercise for any writer.

No SOC post is complete without a reference to coffee. I had a nightmare that I accidentally bought a can of decaf, and it was all that I had for java. How whack is that? I'm not making this up. I had a nightmare about decaffeinated coffee. Crazy shit. I admit it. I am an addict.

I have two favorite coffee cups. The first is a blue mug that is twice as big as a normal coffee cup. I would like to get one that is even bigger and TALL. But the blue mug is what I go with when I am at home. The other cup is my tall stainless steel travel mug that goes with me on my commute to work or Fight School. It keeps the java warm, and it is a full dosage of that good stuff. When I get to the bottom of that thing, I always feel right.

How much coffee do I drink in a typical day? At least one liter. This does not count the Diet Mountain Dew I drink throughout the rest of the day or the occasional Red Bull or Monster I will get while working. Maybe I should feel shame over this clear addiction to a stimulant, but I don't.

One idea that is making the rounds is that coffee was responsible for the Age of Enlightenment. I believe it. Here's a nice video on the subject that I enjoy:



Clearly, coffee is the thinking man's beverage of choice.

When it comes to creativity, I have learned that you need two main ingredients. The first, of course, is caffeine. The second is a cauldron of various ideas having sex. Whenever I need ideas, I fire up the Mister Coffee and hit the internet. Magic happens.

People talk a lot about distractions and how they get in the way of getting things done. I just don't have this problem. The distractions are a primary wellspring of my creativity. Not only do I use Facebook, but I have 5000+ friends and almost 3000 subscriptions to other people's feeds on Facebook. This generates the variety and ideas having sex that I need to spark my creativity and thinking.

I think this sort of reaching out and engagement with the world is what is needed to prevent intellectual staleness. How do I reconcile this with minimalist ideas of simplicity and focus? I don't. When I sit down to actually create, this is the flip side of the coin. I put away those distractions and let my mind work on what it has absorbed. I think you need both distraction and contemplation.

This syzygy philosophy is working its way through my life. On one side is my Renaissance/autotelic/robust pursuits. On the other side is my Leo Babauta/simplicity/minimalist side. I try to keep both simplicity and variety. You have to have both of these things. If you want to see ideas having sex, there are two ideas getting down hot and heavy right there.

I keep up with the minimalist bloggers, but you have to admit that they are now into repetition and stagnation. But on the flip side, the maximalist way is so overdone that you get bloat and exhaustion. I do the picture and the frame thing which I have written about before. You need to have simple frame for your life, but you also want something to be in the picture.

Minimalists make the mistake of putting together an elegantly designed sparse museum but forgetting to put pictures in it. The museum should serve the function of housing and displaying the art. Another example would be the iPad that is simple in design but complex when it comes to what you can do on the screen. The extreme minimalists never even turn the thing on. This would ruin the beauty of the device.

Syzygy is the way to go. I want both simplicity and variety. I don't know if I pull that off, but I see that holding these opposites together makes the most sense. It is an amazing place to live in.

Quotable Quotes--Christopher Hitchens Edition



Death is certain replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.

I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.

Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.

Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me.

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realise that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.

Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.

What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

By trying to adjust to the findings that it once tried so viciously to ban and repress, religion has only succeeded in restating the same questions that undermined it in earlier epochs. What kind of designer or creator is so wasteful and capricious and approximate? What kind of designer or creator is so cruel and indifferent? And—most of all—what kind of designer or creator only chooses to “reveal” himself to semi-stupefied peasants in desert regions?

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.

What happens to the faith healer and the shaman when any poor citizen can see the full effect of drugs or surgeries, administered without ceremonies or mystifications? Roughly the same thing as happens to the rainmaker when the climatologist turns up, or to the diviner from the heavens when schoolteachers get hold of elementary telescopes.

Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.

My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.

Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” it says. It’s been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it’s as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.

I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information.

(Mother Theresa) was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions.

(Giving Obama a Nobel Peace Prize) would be like giving someone an Oscar in the hope that it would encourage them to make a decent motion picture.

Nothing optional - from homosexuality to adultery - is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting (and exact the fierce punishment) have a repressed desire to participate.

Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.

Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.

Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.

The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.

Thus, though I dislike to differ with such a great man, Voltaire was simply ludicrous when he said that if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. The human invention of god is the problem to begin with.

The noble title of "dissident" must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes sacrifice and risk rather than mere disagreement.

To 'choose' dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.

One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody-not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms-had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs). Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion, and one would like to think-though the connection is not a fully demonstrable one-that this is why they seem so uninterested in sending fellow humans to hell.

We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.

Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.

[U.] Savage!



feel the room quake. feel your body shake. that upheaval is the U-EXPERIENCE!! open those lips wide for some U-DADDY!! u-man is in the hizzy. give up the love for a pimp.

get the straight scoop on the NEW WORLD ORDER:



shit is REAL.

don't water down the K!! KILLUMINATI:



tyranny NOW. don't say we didn't warn you:



truther girl on NDAA:



randy gage puts some queso on your peso:



u-man has laid the nut to your butt and now must cut. before i finish with the laters i got to say SHIT ON THE HATERS. peace to the posse. u-man is out the hizzy.




MALNIC

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects



1. HITCH

Christopher Hitchens died this week. There's a lot you could hate about the guy. Whether it was his Marxism or his neoconservatism, he had at least one viewpoint that was certain to piss you off. He also kneecapped Mother Theresa that deserves some kind of special award but has certainly earned Hitch a spot in the lower circles of Hell. This is alright with me. I hope the guy is saving a spot for my black soul.

I did not always agree with Hitch. But he said what he thought, and he thought a lot. He was also an unapologetic scoundrel. This is refreshing in a world gone busybody. Whether it was hard liquor or a good smoke, Hitch always had his vices handy and didn't give a fuck what anyone thought of them. People are already sharing many humorous stories of the man's debauchery and keen wit.

I liked Hitch's style. That is what I will miss from that guy. Even if I differed with him on many things, the guy was courageous and unique. For a scoundrel, he could exercise a keen moral sense and outrage. He cared about the things that really matter.

The world is lesser place without Hitchens. He will be sorely missed. And I'm glad he did not recant his atheism on his deathbed. This life is all we will ever have, and Hitch had a memorable life indeed. I think he enjoyed that life like few others did. Goodbye, friend. May your memory and words live on.



2. RON PAUL IN IOWA

The pundits are all abuzz that Ron Paul may have a real good showing in Iowa. The conventional wisdom is that Iowa doesn't mean anything. Now, I tend to agree. Iowa caucuses are not very good at picking the eventual nominee. But the fact that the pundits are now pointing out that fact is most telling. I have to laugh. The shit on the guy. They ignore the guy. Now, it looks like he might actually do something they have to start dismissing the process as well. Why is this happening?

Ron Paul is a challenge to the entire system. He is the real deal. Ron Paul represents the end to all the bullshit that is modern politics. This has everybody concerned. They know Ron Paul is right, and they know he speaks the truth. Ron Paul is reality to a deluded group of people. They wish he would shut up, but he won't. So, they pretend that he doesn't actually exist. But Ron Paul does exist.

Can Ron Paul win? That depends on how stubborn the electorate is in the persistence of the Grand Delusion. What scares everyone is that the delusion is over with. Party time must end for these fools. Ron Paul is going to take away the government punch bowl. Well, reality is the one that ends the party. Ron Paul is merely premature enlightenment. Fools must always suffer before they learn. They know no other way. Ron Paul is the answer, but the idiots are not going to accept that answer or that reality one minute sooner than they have to. Yet, they know this guy is right about it all. It blows the mind to watch this shit go down.



3. MARRIAGE IS IN THE SHITTER

New polls show that marriage has reached an all time low with fewer than half of US adults being married currently and the age of first marriage being higher than ever. What are we to make of this?

People are figuring it out. Marriage is a crock of shit. This is because love is bullshit. I don't know how to preach it more loudly. Why enter a marriage when you already know from the start that it is a doomed and miserable enterprise? It makes no sense.

The media spins this news as if it is tragic or something. It isn't. Marriage needs to die. People need to stop fooling themselves with this nonsense. The way things are going, the only people getting married will be religious fucktards and gays/lesbians wanting to piss off religious fucktards. And what should marriage be replaced with? Nothing.

If you are married and anything less than happy, you fucked up. I don't know how else to put it. The bottom line is that we marry to become happy, and you cannot find happiness in another person. Even children who we love and would die for will eventually grow up and spit in our faces.

There is sadness in all of this. Reality has a way of doing that. But it was always a fantasy and a farce. Nothing has changed except that people have gotten smarter.



4. INDEFINITE MILITARY DETENTION

Despite Obama's promised veto, indefinite military detention is going to be the law of the land. The President can lock up anyone he deems an "enemy combatant" regardless of American citizenship and without due process. Civil libertarians, principled lefties, and the freedom lovers such as myself are howling over this. Meanwhile, the Obamabots and the neocons are absolutely gleeful. No more of that pesky habeas corpus bullshit to stand in their way. It is nauseating to behold.

Freedom is dying in America. Every bit of this is a consequence of the warmongering. It is all just slipping away. We are merely one step away from having to show our papers, and someone in Congress suggesting that radio ID tags implanted in us would be a more efficient tracking system. I can't believe we are at this point, but here we are.


Institute for Justice

Steve Conover on the Parasite Class

If we’re going to have a war, let’s do it right. The battle lines should be drawn orthogonally to the oversimplified “rich versus the rest.” A virtuous war would be one that rewards society’s honest earners and productive contributors, while punishing society’s predators, pirates, and parasites—all without regard to anyone’s income level. It is a target-rich environment that includes anyone (of any income level) who is cheating to win, any business or union (of any size) with its snout in the public trough, any politician filling that trough and feeding those snouts for reciprocal gain, and any group using the political system (at any level) to maintain its monopoly, or its winning “edge” against less-well-connected competitors.

The Class Warfare We Need

When I read this essay, I thought to myself, "Finally, someone else gets it."

I have written about the Parasite Class before. These are the people who function in our society not by producing value but from "getting over." For the parasites, economics is a zero sum game of winners and losers, and the parasites aim to be the winners. This would be the ladder climbing exec who knives his way to a promotion. This would be the crony capitalist getting sweet deals from his pals at Treasury and the Fed. This would be the lazy dirtbag who collects unemployment while always managing to never find a job. There are many mutations, but the underlying DNA of these parasites is identical. They all seek to live at the expense of others.

I am with Conover. It is time to go after the Parasite Class. They need to be eliminated.

10 Big Lies You Need to Stop Believing In



This essay will be a rehash of things that regular C-blog readers have already heard from me. But I thought it would be nice to collect them all into a nice readable magazine style article with a catchy headline. Here are the big lies you need to stop believing in.

1. You will find happiness in true love.

Love is a crock of shit. A 50% divorce rate, massive infidelity, and decades of misery should show this for the lie that it is. Even rich famous beautiful people can't find happiness in love. Recognize this for the crap that it is.

2. You are above average.

No, you're not. On average, everyone thinks they are above average. The reality is that most of us fall firmly in the fat portion of the bell curve. Accepting this is called "settling." Rejecting this is to roll the dice only to end up with below average results. This is why all the waiters in Hollywood are good looking.

3. Retirement.

Many people want to retire. You have early retirement at age 55. You have people retired for 20 and 30 years. People believe Social Security will take care of them. Others count on huge stock market gains to see them through. The pension will be there. I won't be eating cat food. Blah blah blah. All of this nonsense is spouted in the hopes that one day people won't have to work anymore. But the secret to a comfortable retirement is hard work. The only people who work hard are the people who like working. These people are not interested in retiring.

4. Happiness is something you buy.

Happiness does not come from buying things. People work hard to make money to buy things that they think will bring happiness. But those things don't bring happiness anymore than buying a guitar makes you a musician. Happiness comes from what you do. The things you own are merely tools to enable you to do the things that bring happiness.

5. Government makes things better.

No, it doesn't. Government is the lie that all problems stem from freedom. If you deprive people of certain or all freedoms, problems will be solved or at least mitigated. This is why we incarcerate pot smokers and subject them to anal rape for their own good. This is why we take money from the greedy and give it to the lazy. This is why we have freedom of the press except for when the press is effective like WikiLeaks.

6. Wealth is created with a printing press.

People believe that because the Federal Reserve prints money it is able to create wealth. If that is the case, why do we incarcerate counterfeiters? The Fed doesn't create wealth. It steals wealth by devaluing the currency. Then, they lend this stolen wealth to the US Government or their pals in other central banks or their friends on Wall Street. This is why the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. And because it is done in secret, the poor stupid American public is no wiser. They simply spread their cheeks and take the Fed dick straight up the shitter.

7. Experts know things I don't.

It is impossible to know everything. This isn't a question of intelligence but time. This is why a big time millionaire neurosurgeon turns his money over to some college dropout stockbroker who promptly blows that cash for him. Why would such a brilliant man do something this stupid? He simply doesn't know or have the time to learn. So, he trusts his "expert." If you're wondering if the same thing happens in other fields, it does. It will amaze you how much stupidity is masquerading as brilliance.

8. There is a God, and he has a wonderful plan for my life.

There is no God. Stop fooling yourself. When you pray, no one up there is listening. When you die, you will be gone forever. Religion is a fairy tale meant to comfort people from the horror of the facts I just laid on you. Quit believing in fairy tales.

9. A college degree will earn me a comfortable middle class lifestyle.

No, it won't. The middle class got there by the old fashioned way. This would be hard work and thrift. You work hard, and you save your money. College was merely a signifier that you had those middle class virtues. Now, college tells people that you are a debt burdened slack ass loser. Want to be middle class? Work hard and spend less. Nothing has changed.

10. One day, I'll have all my shit together.

No, you won't. We like to imagine ourselves in the future as people who exercise daily, floss, eat right, and have acquired a certain measure of status and wealth. The reality is that we waste our lives thinking how nice it would be to have our shit together while we pop the top on another beer and scarf more potato chips while Family Feud is on. We like the beer and chips because they make us feel better. That pleasure is immediate. Those other pleasures are delayed. The best tip I can give you is to enjoy doing the right things for their own sake instead of in terms of this future idealized self. When going to the gym provides as much pleasure as watching SportsCenter, your life will be different for the long term. But you are never going to have your shit together. It will always be a struggle. Try to make it less of a struggle.

There you have it. Ten big lies you need to stop believing in. Chuck this bullshit out of your life, and you will find things going better for it. You can trust me on this. I'm an expert.

VILLAINS--Michael Bloomberg



There is a lot to like about Michael Bloomberg. As a private businessman, he built his media company into a billion dollar outfit. He invented the Bloomberg terminal that keeps many Wall Street traders in the know. All-in-all, Mike is a pretty cool guy. Then, he got into politics. This is when he began to suck like no else before him.

Michael Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City and has become the most prominent nanny stater in the country. Bloomie has gone after cigarettes, trans fats in food, salt, and soda. Basically, if it is fun or tastes good, Mayor Mike is going to try and fuck you over for your own good. Gee, thanks, Mike. COCKSUCKER.

Naturally, Bloomberg is a hypocrite on all this shit. He used to smoke. He lets his friends smoke. He buries his food in a mound of salt. For the rest of New Yorkers, they get to eat bland food like you find in a hospital cafeteria.

I despise Michael Bloomberg. I wished he had remained a smoker, so he could hurry up, get lung cancer, and die. This would truly serve the greater good unlike his nanny state policies that are driving lawful activities underground in NYC. Bloomberg needs to learn how to mind his own fucking business.

TUESDAY



1. George Stephanopoulos is getting the boot from GMA for being a midget. Amanpour is getting the boot from This Week for being a suck ass anchor. Both return to old jobs doing what they did best. Now, if they can only get Katie back to the Today show.

2. The Post Office delays closing offices until Congress can bail them out AGAIN.

3. The Donald cancels his circus debate. That is a real shame. I was wondering what catchphrase he was going to invent for the occasion.

4. They are phasing out the dollar coin mainly because you can't wipe your ass with a coin.

5. That last one was so funny I think I will post it on Facebook. Hate to waste good inflation humor.

6. The Donald might still run for Prez. He thinks being POTUS will improve ratings for The Apprentice.

7. Can the EU make it to Christmas? Euros make lousy toilet paper. Gift wrap might be better.

8. Katie Couric dumps her boyfriend. I bet she gets a spot on GMA with the new hunk.

9. They may have discovered the God particle. This is what gives mass to the other particles. NEXT: The search for the the Deviled Egg particle. This is what gives stink to a fart.

10. I know where that particle is.

Leo Babauta on the Self-Improvement Urge

We must improve. We must read every self-improvement book. When we read a blog, we must try that method, because it will make us better. When we read someone else’s account of his achievements, his goal system, his entrepreneurial lifestyle, her yoga routine, her journaling method, her reading list, we must try it. We will always read what others are doing, in case it will help us get better. We will always try what others are doing, try every diet and every system, because it helped them get better, so maybe it will help us too. Soon, we will find the ultimate solutions, soon we will get there. No, that hasn’t happened yet, but maybe this year will be the year.

Maybe 2012 will be the year we reach perfection.


Quashing the Self-Improvement Urge

Tyler Durden said it best when he declared that self-improvement is masturbation. Yet, can anyone say that someone like Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan couldn't do with some self-improvement? So, which is it? Is self-improvement worthwhile or just a fruitless pursuit that makes us hate ourselves?

It was the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan who gave us his theory of the mirror image. Basically, we see ourselves in the mirror as something better than what we really are. So, we pursue to become what we see in this mirror of ourselves, but we fail. This resulting alienation leads to immense dissatisfaction and disappointment. The reason for this is because the mirror image is always better than we actually are no matter how far we move towards realizing it. The result is a sort of mental trap. We can't realize the dream, but we can't quite let go of it either.

Minimalism is a letting go of these dreams. The ancient Skeptics told a story about happiness. A painter was attempting to paint a horse and was trying to paint the foam coming from the horse's mouth. He tried and tried, but he could not pull it off. In anger and disgust, the painter gave up and threw the sponge he used to clean his brushes at the painting. The sponge splattered paint on the picture, and this created the effect he was seeking.

This parable was the Skeptic's way of describing where happiness comes from. It comes from letting go. It is when we stop seeking happiness that we find it. Similarly, the minimalist lifestyle movement is a letting go of dreams and what have you. This provides tremendous relief. The contentment that Babauta discusses in his essay is also about letting go. By rejecting this perfected mirror image of ourselves and accepting ourselves as we really are, we are set free from the alienation and disappointment that comes from pursuing a goal that can never be realized.

Do I agree with this prescription for what ails us? No, I do not. The Skeptics made the mistake of equating relief with happiness, and they are not the same thing. The answer they gave was only partially correct. We should reject this idealized future self as the basis for happiness. This is because happiness can only exist in the present. Happiness is something that must be experienced now. If you are someone who is always in pursuit of a theoretical future happiness, you are wasting your time.

True happiness is what Aristotle called eudaimonia or the god within. Happiness comes when we lose ourselves in the pursuit of our projects. This is quite different from what the Skeptics considered to be happiness. For them, happiness comes when we abandon our projects. But projects do not go away simply because we wish them away. The life of a bum is far less stressful than the life of a career oriented workaholic. But this does not recommend unemployment as the best option for living.

The correct answer is to steer yourself in pursuit of your goals but to focus on the process instead of the outcome. In other words, you set your navigational tools, and you learn to enjoy the ride. This is what we call "flow." This is when a superstar athlete stops looking at the scoreboard and simply immerses himself in the game. The score has a strange way of taking care of itself.

We definitely need to stop visualizing our idealized future selves or seeking happiness in the future. We need to find happiness in the present. This means keeping your goals as opposed to what Leo recommends but to also be forgetful of them. Once you've decided on which goals or projects to pursue, you should seek them but realize that happiness does not come from the attainment so much as the pursuit. For many people, this is a difficult thing to do. This is why happiness can be so elusive for so many.

Self-improvement is a worthy pursuit. We just shouldn't conflate it with the error that the achievement is what brings happiness. As someone who cultivates flow on a daily basis, the achievement of a goal brings a certain sadness because that bit of fun has ended for me. The antidote? I find another project and start working again. My goal is really to always be in a state of doing. What matters to me is not what I've done or what I will do. What matters is what I am doing at this moment. This moment is all that exists. All those other things such as health, wealth, fitness, and the rest are simply byproducts of a life of flow. I simply enjoy the now.

Prisons of the Mind



Freedom of mind is the real freedom. A person whose mind is not free though he may not be in chains, is a slave, not a free man. One whose mind is not free, though he may not be in prison, is a prisoner and not a free man. One whose mind is not free though alive, is no better than dead. Freedom of mind is the proof of one's existence.
UNKNOWN

It is a familiar story. An elephant used to carry heavy loads and push down trees is kept in place by a rope tied to single stake in the ground. And what keeps him planted there? He remains planted there by the conditioning instilled in him when he was young and small and weak. Even after the elephant has grown large, he does not even try to tug at the rope that hinders his freedom. He doesn't know any better. It is not the stake that enslaves the elephant but his own mind.

I would like to say that human beings are more clever than this elephant, but they are not. They are also conditioned while they are young and learn not to question things. As such, they become slaves locked in mental chains. In time, they will even hate those who will attempt to set them free.

These are the prisons of the mind. It could be a religion or a philosophy. It can be a government or patriotism. It can be a race, a class, a tribe, or a family. People are born into and remain within prisons of the mind that they can escape at any time they choose, but they don't. Their fate is to be prisoners, and their fate is chosen.

Breaking free of the prisons of the mind is relatively easy. You merely need to question things. You only have to see and observe to free yourself. As Oliver Wendell Holmes put it, "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size."

Most people don't want this mind expansion. You can see this when they resist the knowledge that would set them free. They don't know, and they don't want to know. Ignorance is bliss, and there is no such thing as premature enlightenment. These people will not change their minds unless forced to do so by circumstances. But once set free, they cannot return to their prisons no matter what they do.

I know these mental prisons well because I used to live in one. A traumatic event occurred to me that set me free. It made me question what I knew, and I changed my mind. I escaped that prison. But it also made me wonder. What other prisons am I in? What other chains bind me? I did not know, and I would not know unless I learned to question everything. This questioning is what makes me free.

The enlightened mind is a liberated mind. Once liberated, the mind can never return to its former prison in much the same way the magic vanishes from a trick once its secret has been revealed. I am free. I can never be a prisoner in that jail again. Now, I am telling you what I learned. I am giving you the key to the lock. Question what you have been told. See the prison you are in. Find your way out.

Q & A

Q: Do better arguments change the world?

A:
No.

People have no problems embracing realities that do not challenge their happiness or what they think brings happiness. For instance, few people have problems accepting that the earth is round instead of flat. They have no problems accepting DNA and genetics or Ohm's law or even the theory of relativity. But throw Darwin at a creationist, and the story completely changes.

Facts are troubling things because they have the power to completely undo our emotional worlds. This is why better arguments do not change the world. The stamina that fools display in the persistence of their errors will amaze you. It can be disheartening.

The thing people want is vindication. They want the world to know they are or were right. This is a waste of time. Most theists will die never knowing that they truly are dead. That is simply a fact of life. Having them embrace correction while alive makes little difference as I find most atheists are just as shitheaded as Christians. We differ only in our myths and our prejudices.

What we can do is live by what we believe. This will attract others to us forming a tribe. The best example I can give is the tribe of minimalists on the internet who are rejecting the consumerist lifestyle and embracing simpler living. This will not necessarily change the world, but it will change us and make our lives better. This is the essence of individualism. It is enough for you to be different. The rest of the world can go to hell.