In The World, Not Of It

“But Holmes,” I said.  “What if this—this self-replicating AI he discovered gets out of the lab?”

Holmes looked at me incredulously for a moment, then stirred with an amused cry.

“My dear Watson,” he laughed.  “Whatever do you think we are?”

I don’t often write pure Christian theory posts, but this will be one.

I started this blog with the intent of writing about Game, marriage, and Christianity.  It’s grown to embrace neoreaction as well, though I consider myself a neophyte on the topic—although today, I think I have something to add.

Owning It

Christ taught many things.  One concept that He hammered, over and over, though, was making a decision and accepting the consequences.  When a man offered to follow Him, but with a caveat, Christ responded:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

In the Sermon on the Mount, He said:

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

One could say that Christ was a formalist.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

I also particularly like this quote from Yudkowsky’s Three Worlds Collide:

“I am charged with guarding sanity, not morality.  If you want to stay together, do not split.  If you want peace, do not start wars.  If you want to avoid genocide, do not wipe out an alien species.”

Our Complaints Are That They Don’t Own It

The Christian Manosphere’s beef with Churchianity is that its actions are not in accord with its words.  It praises chastity, but turns a blind eye to fornication, adultery, and divorce.  It preaches masculinity, yet cuts men off at the knees.

This is also, as far as I can tell, neoreaction’s complaint about conservatives—their words are not in accord with their actions.  They talk about responsible government, yet laud democracy.  They talk about standing firm on principles, but have been drifting left for…well, centuries, all without acknowledging it.  Neoreaction has—correctly, I think—dubbed this insane.

Now, here, for a second, I wish to call us all on an error that I am particularly prone to making — that of pointing toward a better way that is incompatible with the present way, and expecting the benefits of both.

What do any of these parties propose actually doing?

So far, I’ve heard a few different options:

  • Revolution.  This was quickly discarded, for a number of reasons.  The first and most important one is that it won’t work—the masses are all on the other side
  • Build new institutions independent from the current regime.  The Antiversity, the Plinth, Alex Kurtagic’s “establishment in waiting“—even Sunshine Mary joked that occasionally she imagines everyone moving to North Dakota or something and setting up our own community.
  • changing things from within.  This is doomed to fail—what have the conservatives been doing?  What are pastors for?

So, the only viable solution, to me, looks to be #2—new institutions.

Except.

Um, hello?  I have a job.  Also a family, and friends.  Ask yourself, “If I got an email from MENCIUS HIMSELF to the effect that he’d sold Urbit for a billion dollars and had hollowed out part of the Sierra Nevadas, and if you got this email you were one of the thousand people invited…would I go?  Would I seriously go?”  Now check your email.  Assuming that you haven’t gotten this email (if you have, please forward it to me)…what’s the plan, kids?  We could probably homestead in Alaska or something.  Any takers?

I am perfectly willing to go to meetups and make snide remarks about democracy, Churchianity, and a feminized society, because that’s what hip young people like me do.  We’re just cool like that.  But, uh…grand gestures?  If we all went to MUSC (Moldbug’s Underground Sierra Complex), and looked around, here’s whom we’d see:

—an ocean of nerdy single dudes, many of them very smart and handsome, like yours truly (why yes, I have game)

—a much, much smaller contingent of single women

—some families

—some couples, mostly older.

Sheesh.  We could name it “Camp Tesla/Shaker.”  Come for the gadgets and taste in music, stay for the celibacy.  We’d all die out after fifty years.

But, in reality, we wouldn’t even make it to fifty years.  Around week two or so (Week one: “Guys, want to hear a joke?  Consent of the governed!”  *laughter, back-slaps all around*), it would stop being fun.  “There’s, uh, a whole world out there.  Are we just going to sit in this mountain?”  “Ja!”  (That’s mustachioed Moldbug for you).

Now, maybe if we were all Just That Virtuous, we’d create a Loper-OS-powered city on a hill, and all the world would recoil in shock and awe at the Power of Neoreaction, and our shining example would cause everyone to go back to the Great Books For Men, and there’d be a Renaissance, lozzzlzlzllzlzl.  Victory by example.

If that were assured, it might just be worth it.  If I knew I could pull a Phoenix out of Western Civilization like that, I might just try it.

The problem is that it would not be assured, and we’d all know it.  I don’t think we could do it, knowing the whole time that it might amount to nothing.

And so, when I count the cost, I conclude that we don’t have enough resources, will, or mojo to do it.

And this right here is the issue, because we are forced to ask ourselves, “If a new institution is the only thing that will actually work—and we can’t make it work—then what?”

Table that for a moment.

A small portion of the Christian section of the manosphere seems to have come to the conclusion that just about any intimacy, even emotional, before marriage, “is a bad idea,” or at least has negative consequences.  I’m particularly thinking of Cane, myself, and possibly Deep Strength.  In my ideal, a young man would introduce himself to a girl’s father, they’d go on a few chaperoned outings while they discussed what married life would be like, and they’d get married.  Say ages 14-16 or so.

This obviously has, uh, feasibility issues.  It’s all very well for me to write that on my blog, but there are no 14- or 24- or 34-year-old women that are down for this  (And despite the mindbending I’ve undergone in the last year or so, I still don’t think I could stomach a 14-yr-old).

So, I am left with a choice between the bad (some variation of modern dating) and the likely-impossible (14th-century courtship).

Adam’s Curse

We talk quite a bit about Eve’s curse in the Garden—desiring to rule her husband, etc.  Adam had a different curse:

 …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.

Adam’s curse, in modern language, might be described as:

“You have, in your head, a better way of life.  In the Garden you just walked around and ate whatever fruit was lying around (but for those two).  Now you will eat by a vastly inferior manner, involving a lot of work, waste, and pain, while knowing that there’s a better way.  Further, despite all your efforts to accumulate capital and improve things, you will fail in the end.”

This is similar to the plight of the Apostles, who had seen the Gospel preached like no one else could, were commanded to teach and baptize all nations without being the Son of God, and also knew that most of the world would not accept the Gospel and things would go to pot until Christ returned.*

Our task

How do we react to these dilemma, between the bad and the impossible?  Here are my thoughts:

  • Do what you can, and own it.  If you can start an Antiversity and you’re willing to pay the costs, do it.  If all you can do is send the Republican Party $20 in hopes of slowing the decline, do that, and take it in stride.  If you can marry a virgin, as a virgin, do it, and thank God.  If you have to sleep with a guy for him to marry you, you think that’s what God wants you to do, and you’re willing to accept the likelihood that he won’t marry you, then do it, and accept the costs.  If that sin horrifies you (as it does me), and you’re willing to be celibate if that’s what it takes to avoid it, do it, and accept the costs.  But complaining is counterproductive if you’re an atheist, and ungrateful if you’re not.
  • Work on yourself  You may not be able to stop the decline, but you can save a bit of money each month, and store some food and water.  You may not be able to bring courtship back, but you can keep yourself attractive, personable, and interesting as much as you are able.
  • Keep an eye out for serendipity  Disaster is in the cards.  It just is.  But we don’t know when or where it will strike, and until then, good things can and will happen.
  • Be a (gentle) hypocrite, (a.k.a., don’t believe your own bullshit)  Everything talked about in this corner of the internet is true.  Just because you have to make compromises doesn’t mean you have to pretend to other people that they’re not compromises.  Go ahead and bore your kids, friends, and neighbors with talk of hypergamy and the Cathedral, to the extent that you think effective.
  • Love people  Always.  If there’s a God He wants you too, and if there isn’t, then they need it all the more.
  • Trust in God In the end, it will all work out alright.
  • Be of good cheer  We’re not in a Mad Max polygamous wasteland ruled by alpha warlords of warring ethnicities yet.

*If you’re a Lisp programmer, this will seem familiar to you:  you know about the greatness of Lisp, you have to use some other stupid language in your job, and despite all your hard work, it will be scrapped when the next framework comes out.

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On Nerds

I’m a nerd.  And I’m excited, because by the end of this post, you’ll understand exactly what that means.*

Previous Work

Paul Graham, in his Essay “Why Nerds Are Unpopular,” defined nerds as such:

A nerd is someone who isn’t socially adept enough.

But this isn’t the whole story.  We know this because we can easily imagine someone who is socially inept but not necessarily a nerd:  Richard Sherman, a pro (American) football player who had a bit of a freakout after a game last night:

Another candidate for socially inept non-nerd would be Nelson, from The Simpsons:

Both are just assholes.   They’re definitely socially inept, but our “Nerd Alert” isn’t going off.

So, let’s modify our definition a bit and see what we get.  Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say:

Nerd is a derogatory term for a person who is intellectually knowledgeable or bright, but socially inept.”

That definition is better, but is missing something still.  We know this because of this guy:

Gamer

This is intended to be a picture of a gross male gamer.  Let’s just assume he’s smart, perhaps like Comic Book Guy:

The_Simpsons-Jeff_Albertson

Also from The Simpsons

Now, both are definitely nerdy.  And they fit Wikipedia’s definition: smart, socially inept.  But they don’t quite fit the bill—because the next two examples are even more nerdy:

Professor Frink, from The Simpsons

Professor Frink, from The Simpsons—I like the show, alright?

nerd

These guys are bona-fide, stereotypical nerds.  Their nerd cred is unimpeachable.  What’s different about them from the gamers, before?

Is it that they’re not overweight?  Probably not, because this guy is kind of chunky, and definitely sets off all nerd alarms:

nerd-46422

No, the difference is that these new three are all working, or in a work setting.  Professor Frink is in a lab coat, so he’s presumably doing science.  The next photo has the guy wearing a pocket protector to hold pens, presumably for school work.  And our third guy is sitting at a computer, doing some kind of work.  In contrast, the gamers are just…degenerating, wasting their time.

Okay, so we have: socially inept, smart, and working.

We’re almost there, except for one thing:  Shane Battier.

Shane_Battier_Heat_2012

Shane Battier is my favorite NBA player, period.  And he is almost a nerd.

Don’t believe me?  From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

Battier has often been called “the ultimate glue guy” for playing sound, fundamental, team-oriented basketball, making his teammates more effective without flash or padding his own stats, and for making the most of his skills with discipline and hustle rather than raw athleticism. He’s also known for his extensive preparation in studying the opposing team and the player he is assigned to guard: “I try to prepare for my opponent as thoroughly as possible. I want to know every angle on the man I am guarding to give me an edge. I read many, many pages and go over strengths and weaknesses many times before a game. ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance.’ That is a motto I like.” The Rockets made him the team’s only player with access to its highly sophisticated statistical data that they compiled on all opposing players; he used this data to become familiar with the tendencies of the players he would guard in each game.

Now, there is no reason to think Shane is socially inept.  But imagine he was.  He’s certainly smart (almost straight A’s in college), he certainly works his tail off…were he socially inept, would he be a nerd?

The answer is no, because of the final piece of our puzzle:  the work a nerd does must not be immediately, visibly useful.  And an NBA player’s work is extremely visible: that’s the point!  He gets paid to be watched, because people like watching pro basketball.  

Even if you came across him sitting in his front room studying the statistics of his opponents, he wouldn’t come off that nerdy (although he’d be closer to it)—because he’s, uh, nice to look at.  I’m a dude and I can tell he’s handsome.

So our final nerd definition: socially inept, smart, working, and produces no immediate, visible value.

Nerdiness as a Male Phenomenon

Now would be a good time to address this:  why are most nerds dudes?  As Cane says:

Nerdy girls are really:

(nerdy) GIRLS.

Nerdy boys are:

NERDS.

Why is this?  Let’s look at our definition of nerd:socially inept, smart, working, and produces no immediate, visible value.

sexy-nerd-costume

Imagine this woman delivering an incomprehensible lecture on quantum nanophysics, perhaps with a lot of “ums,” and maybe some racist jokes thrown in for good measure.  She would be: socially inept, smart, working, and…delivering a lot of immediate, very visible value.  And “socially inept” just isn’t when everyone’s kissing your feet.  Anything sounds good coming out of those lips.

The reason few women are nerds is because just what they are is valuable—anything they do is gravy.  As I said in an earlier post:

Women are born with inherent middling social status, and their main task is to not screw it up. Men are born with zero inherent social status, and their main task is to claw their way to the top.

There’s another reason:  women, being more sensitive to their environment, will generally shy away from tasks or interests that don’t deliver immediate value.  As Graham writes:

I also think girls are less likely to become nerds than boys of equal intelligence, possibly because they’re more sensitive to social pressures. In my school, at least, girls made more of an effort to conform than boys.

This would be a good time for me to link to this post, “What Masculinity and Femininity Are.”  Yes, I just linked to it two paragraphs ago, and yes, it could be explained more clearly.  But it’s the foundation behind a lot of the thinking in this essay.

Nerd Cred, Male and Female

Earlier, when talking about Pocket-Protector, Professor Frink, and Cigarette-and-Computer guy, I said:

Their nerd cred is unimpeachable.

What does that mean?  Nerds are social outcasts.  Why would one need cred to be a nerd?

When men get together in gangs, a phenomenon called honor will spontaneously arise.  I have defined honor in the past as “one’s eligibility to join the tribe of badass men.”  (And yes, nerds are badass, or at least can be.  Knowledge is power, and nerds can know a lot of stuff.  But they are not necessarily badass.  We’ll get to that).  Nerd cred is one’s eligibility to join the tribe of, well, nerds.

How is that eligibility attained?  It’s bought, through sacrifice.  The particular type of sacrifice differs from group to group; for nerds, it’s sacrifice of social value, for something that can provide value to the group.  In other words: to nerds, it’s cool (to them) to be uncool (to everyone else).  Nerd society, at its most extreme, does not offer dual citizenship: you’re in or you’re out.

For male nerds, (nerds are humans, and groups of humans form tribes, so when I say “male nerds,” I actually mean “male members of the Tribe of Nerd”), the value they provide to the group is usually aligned with the particular nerdy interests of the group.  Some esoteric knowledge or expertise.  It’s important to note that nerds approach this combatively, like warriors approach fighting skill.  As Cane says:

The Nerd wants to win at reading comic-books.

For female nerds, what they bring to the table is…sex.  Duh.  Haven’t we gone over this?  To quote myself a bit ago:

What [women] are is valuable—anything they do is gravy.

For women to be accepted in the tribe of Nerd, they must do what they do to be accepted into any tribe: come to some sort of sexual arrangement.  For most groups that means sleeping with one member of the group consistently and otherwise keeping legs and mouth shut, but nerds are usually so sex-starved that they may be willing to entertain alternate arrangements.  I have in mind two girls in particular that slept around with pretty much all my old high school friends during college.  It’s important to note that just as male nerds sacrifice social status by learning weird stuff that no one wants to hear about as the price of entry into the nerd tribe, female nerds sacrifice social status by sleeping with a nerd.

Understanding the male and female conceptions of honor will help us resolve the conundrum of “fake geek girls.”  We’ll look at a few pictures and dissect why/why not they’re nerds or not.

fakegeekgirl__span

This is the original face of the meme.  Nerds will instinctively react somewhat against dubbing her a nerd because she’s pretty attractive.  One of the common bonds of the Tribe of Nerd is low social status—pretty girls don’t have that.  She could, however, remedy that by sleeping with a nerd, and in one stroke a)lower her own social status, and b) contribute something to the group.  On the Internet, the demand for this is phrased very matter-of-factly: “[show us your] tits or gtfo.”  Interestingly, though, that’s all she has to do: a girl can hang with the Star Wars geeks without knowing a thing about Star Wars, as long as she’s putting out.  She won’t be called on her lack of Star Wars knowledge (except possibly by envious nerds w/whom she’s not sleeping).

Nerdy Girl

This girl is not attractive, and for nerds on the cool side of nerdiness, she will likely not even be able to sleep with them to gain entry to the Tribe of Nerd.  However, if she brings whatever currency this particular group of nerds is built around, she may be able to enter as “one of the bros.”

summer

This is Summer Glau, a.k.a. the Nerd’s Social Nightmare.  She’s a stunning actress who’s played central roles in several undeniably nerdy films and TV series (Firefly, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and even The Cape) and so handily outnerds anyone in nerd skills, and yet isn’t sleeping with any particular (low-status) nerd.  The nerd thus feels slighted because she has not paid the traditional female price to be a member of the Tribe, but undeniably deserves membership in the tribe by virtue of beating the nerd at his own game.

I must conclude that actresses that appeal to nerds—Zoe Deschanel, Summer Glau, and Emma Watson come to mind—are forced to acquire quite a bit of tact to deal with the bruised egos they (even if unintentionally) cause and encounter among their fans.

There is more to explore on the nuances of female nerds, but this is too long already, so I’ll move on.

A Caution to Nerds

A few months ago I threw out a throwaway definition of nerds while writing a post about automation:

Nerd:  a guy who reacts to being a small fish in a big pond by retreating to a smaller pond.

This wasn’t a complete definition, as we saw above, but you could certainly do a lot worse.  Let’s look at our definition again:

Socially inept, smart, working, provides no immediate or visible value

Our definition begs a question that we haven’t yet addressed:  If he’s working, how come he provides no immediate or visible value?  What exactly is he working on if it provides no value?

What he’s working on is some form of capital—rather than producing immediate value, he’s trying to find an advantage that will help him produce more value in the future.  This may be a skill, or knowledge, or a scientific discovery, or a computer program, or any number of things—the point is, it’s something that’s completely useless right now, when he’s working on it.

Now, it would be nice if all nerds were out seeking an advantage because they were just that crafty.  However, there is another possible reason: they’re scared of conflict.  Competing in the “big pond” was too much for them, and they’ve sworn off all conflict as a result.

If a nerd has this, then his life may be pretty difficult.  The ability to handle conflict—constructively, destructively, any way but avoidantly—is an essential part of the human condition.

Wrap-up

Well, that’s the Essence De Nerd, distilled into blog post form for you to analyze to your heart’s content.  I would urge any nerds reading this to take a look at their lives and consider how much of their time is producing delayed value as opposed to instantly available value.  This time differential can be important even in conversation styles.

Happy nerding (or not)!

Sources:

Cane Caldo, “The Invisible Horror

Donovan, Jack “The Way of Men: Masculinity Explained

Dropit, “Rebellion as Deadly Threat, and How to Love Men,” “What Masculinity and Femininity Are,” “Revenge of the Nerds

dropit_sphere, “Red Pill Take on Honor

Graham, Paul “Why Nerds Are Unpopular,” “Re: Why Nerds Are Unpopular

Honor series, Art of Manliness

Shane Battier,” Wikipedia.

Recommended Reading:

Cane Caldo, “Take A Number

*In a kind of Zen way, if you understand this post, you’ll no longer think of me as a nerd.

Divide and Conquer, or, A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

The scariest conspiracies are made up of honest stupid people, not clever liars.

I now invite you to tonight’s episode of “Lies, Damned Lies, and Dangerous Truths Out of Context”:

“Going on a date, son?  When does the lip-locking begin?”

“Aw, c’mon, Dad!”

“But seriously: we believe in no sex before marriage.  Don’t go too far now.”

———————————————————

“Dude, you made out with Becky?  No way!”

“Yeah man.  I started by talking to her roommate to make her jealous, and then I just agreed-and-amplified everything she said.”

———————————————————

“She’s dating Clint?  Man.  Girls do go after assholes.”

———————————————————

“I just want to thank my husband for being unfailingly kind and always offering a friendly ear.  It was one of the things that attracted me to him when we were dating.”

———————————————————

“If women ran the world, we’d all live in grass huts.”

———————————————————

“Young men, we need you to become leaders!  The responsibility for tomorrow’s world rests on you.”

———————————————————

“He never calls!  Why can’t I find a nice guy like you?”

———————————————————

“You’re a really nice guy, but I’m really not into you that way.”

———————————————————

“Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.”

———————————————————

“Take no thought for thy life.”

———————————————————

“Women are attracted to leadership, stability, and an internal locus of control.”

———————————————————

“Women are attracted to dissipate alcoholics given to loud laughter and riotous living.”

———————————————————

“Women like sex more than men do.”

———————————————————

“Women don’t want sex nearly as much as men do.”

———————————————————

“Remember son, studying is important.”

———————————————————

“Remember: she needs you more than you need her.”

———————————————————

“What’s wrong with you, Christian men?  Man up and [get married]!”

———————————————————

“Women are all gold-diggers.”

———————————————————

“I’m not really attracted to a guy for his money.”

———————————————————

As in my “Double Bind” post, all of these statements are true, in their own context.  The question is not whether they are true, but how they are true.  If you can read them all and figure out what the author of each has right, and what they have wrong, then…well, then I am very happy for you.

Other cryptic resources:

What Masculinity And Femininity Are

Notes before reading:

I apologize in advance, because this is going to be complicated.  I am saying this the best and simplest way I know how.

There are several pictures here.  Some of them didn’t survive the scaling process too well from my computer to wordpress.  If a picture looks too small, click on it, and it’ll open a new tab more appropriately sized.

Pretend you’re on a hill:

firsthill

Your goal is to get as high as possible.

dest

There’s a problem, though:  you can’t see everything.  It’s foggy.  You can see, maybe, 10 meters.

fog

Which way do you go to get as high as possible?

Well, the common-sense thing to do is: look around for the highest point you can see, and move towards that.

fogaftermove

If you keep doing this, you’ll get to the top of the hill:

repetition

EXCEPT.

It’s foggy, remember?  How do you know you’re at the top of the hill?

landscape

Answer: you don’t.

But…that’s lame.  You want to get to the highest point you can.

The problem is, which way do you go?  From your perspective, both directions are downhill.

Well, there’s nothing for it.  Maybe you have a reason for going one direction instead of another—maybe someone else told you about a huge mountain after the valley—but you can’t see it.  So, for whatever reason, you pick a direction, and start walking.

fortune

Note that this strategy of “pick a direction and start walking” is incompatible with your earlier strategy of “walk uphill.”  You have to walk uphill, or you have to walk away from the nearest hill.  You can’t do both.

decide

There’s a problem with ignoring your surroundings like this though: namely, water and lava.

lava

Stay in the water too long, and you’ll run out of energy, sink and hit the lava, and die.  But make it across, and maybe there’s a whole new hill over there!

vision

But that’s a hard call to make when you can’t see the other side.

Even harder to make when you’re right in the middle of the water, and you still can’t see the other side.

visionswim

Now: do you keep swimming?  And if so, how long?

Keep in mind that there is no right answer.  If land is pretty close (like in our example), then the right thing to do is keep swimming.  If it’s just ocean for miles and miles, then the right thing to do is turn around before you drown.

K, ready?

The feminine tends to walk uphill.  The masculine tends to walk toward where it thinks the highest peak is.

I’m gonna phrase it a few different ways, and everyone can be equally offended by their favorite one:

Women make short-term, safe investments for low gains.  Men make high-stakes, long-term investments for high gains.

Women are sensitive to their environment, and adapt to it very quickly.  Men ignore their environment, and are slow to adapt to their immediate surroundings.

Women are sensible, mainstream, and practical.  Men are maverick, weird, and outside the mainstream.

Women improve their lives in constant, small increments.  Men improve their lives in large increments, punctuated by long periods of nothing or even decline.

Women miss the forest for the trees, manifesting in gossip and obsession over trivialities.  Men miss the trees for the forest, manifesting in overabstraction and obsession over principle.

The range of women’s relationships is short and strong, while the range of men’s is long and weak.  A woman will sacrifice anything for her child.  A man will sacrifice a surprising amount for a random stranger.

In SSM’s thread, there was mentioned a guy who insisted on mixing his own drinks at a restaurant.  Why does this seem kind of unmanly to her?

Because it is focused on the self, on the here and now, on sensation.  The thought that comes to mind is, “Is he really that focused on the trivialities of his drink as opposed to something more important?  Aren’t there dragons to be slain?”

It is also why I can easily imagine a woman eating it up.  “I love good drinks too!  Finally, a guy who understands!”

PUA’s are successful because they act like women.  They act in the short term, and encourage women to act in the short term, seeking sensation and experience.  Masculine men are successful because they don’t act like women, and women can feel it.  A short-term, feelings-based life is gonna lead to a lot of pitfalls.  Someone who is not at the mercy of their environment, but makes good decisions anyway, is a person to hang on to.  But the end goal is still feelings, just on a longer timeline.  This is why boring accountants inspire no lust.

Plugging away against your environment all the time can be pretty oppressive.  That’s why guys are so “shallow” when looking for mates—that’s what women have to offer: delightfulness right now, as opposed to “ten years from now, when the product is out the door and we’re all rich!”

I need to get back to work. But I’d urge anyone to read EYF’s “Good and bad of emotions” alongside this, because I’ve spoken in big picture terms, where she explores the nuance (see?).

(Exercises for the reader:

  • Who should be in charge, someone oriented toward the short term or the long term?
  • Is it appropriate for a man to expect a woman to act for the long term while providing her no short-term tingles?  If she is focused on the long term, will she be able to remind him of the short term?
  • Much of the building of civilization has been those with a low time preference winning out over those with a high time preference.  Investment for the long term requires initial capital, however.  Would you say nerds are long-term or short-term focused?  What would they say if you asked them?  Do they have much capital in the short term?  Is it appropriate to have such a low time preference with so little initial capital?
  • Often we define “good” by “obeys adults the most.”  Are adults—especially Christian adults—likely to try and move young men toward higher time preference, or lower time preference?  
  • If you are saving for retirement (virtues like kindness, knowledge, hard work) while making $10/hr (scrawny dude in school), will you have a prayer of being able to afford short-term costs like cable (consistent emotional outlays to a woman)?  The miracle is not that high school girls are attracted to jerks, but that they are attracted to anyone in high school.
  • Is it socially acceptable to say that women generally have a higher time preference?  Would that information be useful for a young man?)

The Double Bind

A double bind is a conversational or rhetorical tactic designed to put the receiver in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.  To go waaaaaaay back, we’ll quote pickup artist Fader:

“If a guy is trying to [diss] you…tell them, “Hey man, you don’t have to try so hard. I like you just the way you are.” If they accept the frame (that is they are trying hard to impress you), you have socially dominated them and thus they are beta to you.  If they push back and say, “Hey, I am not trying hard to impress you,”—[then t]hey are trying hard not to try hard, if that makes sense.”

(For those of you desperately trying to find “the answer” to this, it’s to just laugh and go, “Cool man,” and carry on.)

One way to create a false dichotomy is to take a four-sided issue and play them off against each other.  Since that sentence did a terrible job of getting the meaning across, I’ll give an example:

“Men have to scrape for everything they get.  If they don’t work they don’t eat.”

“I feel like whereas I have to prove myself before anyone will take me seriously, my male peers are just assumed to be competent.”

“It’s very aggravating to not be taken seriously in the workplace just because I’m a woman.”

“It’s men that do the real hard work in society.  They do the dangerous jobs, the dirty jobs, the lonely jobs.  Over 90% of workplace deaths are male.  Women get a free pass on this.”

Those are two pairs of statements.  All of them are true.  They are “paired” in that each pair describes an issue from both sides.  I’m certain men are assumed to be competent more than women—part of the reason for that is because incompetent men will not be coddled, where incompetent women might be.  Choose your poison.*  Adam and Eve got different curses, but they certainly both got cursed.

The double bind comes when you take the same side of two different options.  From the above:

“Men have to scrape for everything they get.  If they don’t work they don’t eat.”

Men do all the dangerous, dirty work.” 

Remember—these statements really are true, by and large.  If you just take them at face value, you’ll conclude that men have a pretty raw deal.

Of course, you can flip it:

“Women have to prove themselves before anyone will take them seriously—but they often aren’t given the opportunity to prove themselves, because  no one takes them seriously.”

If you just take that at face value, now you’ll think women have a raw deal.

I mention all this because one of Sunshine Mary’s posts really got to me.  In “Subsidizing Insanity,” she quotes Ann-Marie Slaughter’s recommendations for a “caring” economy:

“If we truly valued breadwinning and caregiving equally…”

Stop right there.  In the past, we did.  Now care of children and the elderly is menial work to be done by immigrants.  That one’s got a lot of momentum on it, Ann-Marie.  Good luck.

 

This particular double-bind is structured as such:

The value of the work women do cannot be overstated. (when trying to show how important women are)

Marriage just means a lot of menial work for women—dishes, ironing, cleaning, caring for small children.  And none of it is paid or prestigious.  (when trying to garner sympathy for women)

Again, both statements are true.  Women do do important work.  A lot of it is menial.  But it is not important in the same way that running a Fortune 500 company is, nor is it menial in the same way that being a janitor is.

 

Because this really is a genderblind thing, here’s the male version of the above:

Men keep the economy going—the sewers, the planes, the electrical grid, the water—and what is more, men invented 95% of those things.

While women may work hard at home, at least they are out of danger and their work doesn’t actively cause injury.  No one cared about worker safety until women entered the workforce.

Again:  both of those statements are true.  But they ignore the reality that they had women to help them while doing all this economy-maintenance, and they were recognized in society for excellence.

 

The moral of the story is: If you extend the SMP to a generalized life marketplace, then you’ll start looking for symmetries like this.  Markets generally move toward equitable outcomes.  Men have been getting shafted for the last 50 years or so, and so they’re withdrawing from society to achieve balance.  The current SMP is hard on everyone, for different reasons.

 

*Actually, just take the one you were born with.

Experiment, Adaptation, Foray (Or: Crap, I Just Created Tyler Durden)

Everyone a Crackpot

You’d be surprised how therapeutic it can be for me to check in around here.   The thing you have to understand is: everyone on the internet is crazy.  If they weren’t crazy, they’d be talking to people around them about whatever they’re talking about, instead of typing it on the internet.  I have another (less frequently updated) blog on some aspects of software development; there is a reason I write into the ether instead of boring my friends and family with monads and macros and mutation, oh my!

The problem is that “crazy” doesn’t actually mean crazy.  We decide that someone is “crazy” when they do things we see no reason for.  But this is giving ourselves way too much credit.  Take everything humans know, and call it K, for Knowledge.  Take everything you know, and call it k, for, uh, knowledge.  k/K is the ratio of stuff you know to stuff that you could know.

I don’t know about k, but K has multiplied vastly in the last hundred years.  In addition, everyone’s little k is different—Tracy knows how to drive a car and how to send weather balloons into space, while Fred knows how to drive a car and what actually makes people fat.  But Tracy is weirded out by Fred’s weird dietary restrictions, and Fred thinks Tracy is a little too excited that the price of helium just fell by half.

So the proliferation of knowledge—especially in the serve-yourself buffet of the Internet—makes it very easy to find oneself in a “lone sane man” situation, bereft of moral support.  Case in point—the number of close friends the average American has has been declining.

From an economic point of view, it makes sense that people should know different things.  Specialized labor leads to more productivity, which in isolation is a good thing.  But a cost of specialized labor is that it creates division where it wasn’t there before.  To take the most fundamental example: husbands and wives.  I visited my college roommate’s uncle’s house a few months ago.  This man (the uncle) is a middle manager at a large software company.  His wife said something like, “I don’t know anything about computers, I leave that to him.”

That is, of course, perfectly understandable.  They’re in their mid-fifties and have raised six (6!) kids.  She likely has no use for anything beyond Word and Outlook.  But there is definitely a cost:  she can only understand so much about her husband’s work.  This was not true of smiths or woodworkers, and certainly not true of farmers or hunters.

Why I’m talking about this

I’m talking about specialized labor, which is something that men usually do, and this matters because I am a man, thinking about the mannerbund.  

The mannerbund is a German word literally translating to “band of men.”  I don’t want to explain it all here, but will instead point the reader to Radish’s treatment.

Problem: personal mobility has gone up.   Labor specialization has increased.  Employee longevity has decreased.  Guys have more of their comrades move somewhere else, have less to talk about with those that remain, and have them for shorter periods of time.  In short, it is harder to hold the mannerbund together.

This was the ultimate end to my earlier attempt at creating a mannerbund—one got married,  another got into medical school,  I moved.

And this sort of thing is an inescapable feature of modern life.  We have unchained the individual, but we have also unmoored them.

So:  I am starting my own mannerbund.  True, it only has one member, but that doesn’t stop it from having all the other important parts that a good band of men has: a code of honor (this kind, not this kind)  a mission, harsh entry requirements, and, of course, a God.  You can join if

  • you live in my town (bands need to be in close proximity)
  • you’re male (it’s a band of men)
  • you’re LDS (this isn’t actually completely necessary, but closely-aligned values are)
  • you’re my coworker (otherwise, what is the band actually doing?)

As you can see, the group is not very diverse.  But its members are highly homogeneous, communicate well, have well-aligned goals and values, and are tightly knit.

It’s alright if you’re not eligible to join.  The mannerbund bears you no ill will.  But the rules will stay as they are.  Clarity of purpose is the goal here, not membership numbers.

The Rules

Pfft.  Like I’d tell you.  The first one is: You don’t talk about the mannerbund.

Why make anything?

I realize this seems kind of ridiculous.  I am the only member.  Why not just take whatever the gang would do, and do it myself?  Why have this weird mindhackery?

Because I’m just trying it out, that’s why.  I’ve seen how I act in gangs, and how I act on my lonesome.  I like how I act in gangs better, but I can’t find a gang I want to join at the moment.  So this is an attempt to have my cake and eat it.