Tuesday, May 19, 2015


From Evelyn Waugh's 1932 novel of Africa, Black Mischief:

The train which brought the Emperor to Debra Dowa also brought the mail. It was a great day at the British Legation. The bags were brought into the dining room and they all sat round dealing out the letters and parcels, identifying the handwritings and reading over each other's shoulders . . . .

"I say, though, here's something interesting, my word it is. Can't make head or tail of the thing. It says, 'Good luck. Copy this letter out nine times and send it to nine different friends' . . . What an extraordinary idea."

"Envoy dear, do be quiet. I want to try the new records."

"No, but Prudence, do listen It was started by an American officer in France. If one breaks the chain one gets bad luck, and if one sends it on, good luck. There was one woman lost her husband and another one who made a fortune at roulette -- all through doing it and not doing it . . . you know I should never have believed that possible . . ."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Further Thoughts on Property

All metaphors have useful limits.  For instance, I was struck by this element of the “Man Box” from the last lesson:

  • Views women as property/Objects

To the extent of my knowledge of the history of Western Christendom, women as a class have been literally “property”, in the same way as slaves were property, exactly never.  But metaphorically speaking, it is true that men were seen, and to a limited extent seen today, as having something akin to an ownership interest in the women in their care:  their wives, primarily, but also blood relatives.  And by having such an interest, they were expected to defend it from predatory males.  As Steve Sailer has pointed out, failing to defend your women from forcible rape is deeply shameful.  Historically, it means that your menfolk lost the war.

But the essence of property is this:

If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.

The Bible does not to by knowledge ever instruct, “Thou shalt have property.”  Instead, it has the Eighth Commandment.   if logical inference isn’t your strong suit, it spells it out in the Sixth: 

If it’s not yours, don’t sleep with it. 

And to keep you well out of trouble, it tacks on the Tenth: 

If it’s not yours, don’t even look at it too fondly. 

These kind of boundaries are understood by married women, religious or not:  they speak of “my husband”, and the property implication isn’t merely accidental; on the contrary, with respect to other women, it isn’t even merely metaphorical.  The armed services, for all their sponsorship of this feminist carping, give the property understanding the force of law:  adultery is still punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as Kelly Flynn and David Petraeus learned the hard way.

Framed that way, it becomes obvious that to the extent that our culture has a problem with sexual assault, it is not property in women, but rather the absence of property in women, that has brought us to it.  It is yet another experiment in communism / utopian anarchism, where nobody owns anything, therefore anything is up for grabs.  And like all such experiments, it founders on the “Tragedy of the Commons”:  there is little thought given to care and protection.  If nobody owns anything, why give a sh!t.

Now, confronted with this framing, the feminists will of course assert that this is not what they meant.  What they actually meant was that women should have property in themselves, that they “own themselves” and their sexuality.  But in practice, this amounts to nothing more than sexual free-agency, an assertion that women should be unconstrained, not just by law, but by religion, by community standards, by anything save their own passing fancy.  Women are made free to sell themselves to the highest bidder, be the currency charm, physicality, or more typically, sufficient quantities of alcohol.

Which brings us to our present pass.  What were once bright and immutable lines separating lawful access from unlawful access have been made fuzzy and every-shifting.  And men, wanting sexual access, will do what they can to shift that line in the direction favorable to their interests, and be sufficiently successful at it to make the game worthwhile.  But it’s in the nature of that game for someone to wind up on the wrong side of it, not very often perhaps as a percentage of couplings, but regularly enough in the absolute sense to generate the statistics that feminists like to complain about.

Monday, May 04, 2015

SAPR Training 2015, Vol 3: Men and Manhood

From the slide:

Flip the Script Vol 3 Men and Manhood_p1

Flip the Script Vol 3 Men and Manhood_p2

Question 1. The intent of this question is for participants to discuss the cultural expectations that are put on men, to include aggression, no emotions, bread winner, to always want sex and money, to be the athlete, to love war and violence etc.

Allow participants to share their thoughts and feelings about these expectations. These are often described as the “Man Box”

  • Do not cry openly or express emotions (With the exception of anger)
  • Do not express weakness or fear
  • Demonstrate power/control especially over women
  • Aggression-Dominance
  • Do not be “like a woman”
  • Heterosexual
  • Tough/Athletic/Strength/Courage
  • Makes Decisions – does not need help
  • Views women as property/Objects

Blame Darwin.

If I had to make a list of qualities a man should possess to maximize his opportunity of passing his genes to the next generation, this would be it.  First, a man must be able to protect his herds from predators, which means having both the strength and courage to stand his ground when fleeing in terror is immediately more appealing.  Second, a man must not be conquered, killed or enslaved by other men, which means having those qualities, plus aggression and emotional control, lest his enemies sense weakness and opportunity.  As warfare becomes more sophisticated, decisiveness prevents being tactically out-thought.  And most important, if a man’s work is not to be squandered, he should remember to do some baby-making when he gets home, and he better damn sure not be a cuckold, which means keeping his women in line and out of the power of other men.

Now, I will be the first to admit that, in our present age, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the traits we need to cultivate for our people to endure and thrive in a competitive world.  The kind of personality necessary for, saying sitting in a cubicle in front of a computer screen designing the next generation of weapon systems, or working on an assembly line manufacturing those weapon systems, is probably not the same personality that risks his life to slaughter people at close range.  And these , and these or any other qualities can reach the point of diminishing – indeed, net negative – returns.  Decisiveness can be rash; courage can be heedless; emotional control can be hard on mental health; jealousy can be hard on relationships; and dominance can eventually provoke resentment and rebellion.

So yes, all things in balance.  But absent the imminent threat of invasion and conquest – our society faces these threats for other reasons, as my readers well know – where this balance is struck is mostly determined by where and how women bestow their romantic attention.  I will be the first to rejoice when we see fewer cheerleaders at football games and more at math club.  But until that happens, the vision of masculinity that prevails in society will be very different than that promulgated by our SAPR overlords.

From Tony Porter’s TED talk:

I can remember speaking to a twelve-year-old boy, a football player.  And I asked him, I said, “How would you feel if in front of all the players, the coach told you, you were playing like a girl?”  Now, I expected him to say something like, “I’d be sad,” or “I’d be mad,” “I’d be angry,” something like that.  No, the boy said to me, “it would destroy me.”  And I said to myself, God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about him about girls?

Of course, Tony Porter has this exactly backwards.  I would submit the following as a universal constant:  in every society, everywhere and always, the definition of masculinity among twelve-year-old boys is to not be a girl.  That is what makes the coach’s criticism so effective:  he isn’t required to explain to his players why being effeminate on the field is bad.  They know why its bad, known it in the core of their being since the onset of puberty.  Socially, we might have a larger range of facilities in our definition of masculinity than we are presently using; as a lifelong nerd, I fervently hope we do.  But to simply assert, as Tony Porter is apparently doing, that we should discard the “man box” in favor of equality is lose forever any credibility with twelve year olds forever.  We might keep those twelve-year-olds in line with threats of violence, assuming that the SAPR lords retain the loyalty of men described above.  But when those twelve-year-olds become men themselves, they will invent their own version of masculinity free of civilized moderation.  And we won’t like it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SAPR Day, 2006

Languishing in YouTube obscurity is an Air Force SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) video I originally watched in ~2006.  After some initial CSAF boilerplate, the video shows a re-enactment of the run-up to a sexual assault.  (The video should start playing at the beginning of the dramatization, just shy of 7 minutes in.)

In the early days of the current obsession with “sexual assault” in the military, the leadership of the Air Force, God bless them, hadn’t yet realized the intended program was about power and intimidation; they actually thought that they should try to, you know, prevent sexual assault, and quite reasonably assumed that this should be an effort that should address both male and female behavior.  This video is what they came up with.  While not without its problems, I was impressed that the vignette describes what, nineteen times in twenty, has become standard bar game:  handsome guy chats up cute girl, plies her with drinks and takes her home.  And in those nineteen times, what happens might lead to no worse than morning-after regrets or, in some cases, a trip to an abortion clinic.

But its that twentieth case that leads many people (me, for instance) to warn their daughters:  abstract sexual ethics aside, this kind of behavior can result in traumatic, soul-destroying outcomes.  We can – and should – debate whether the events in the film are legally actionable, and how in these circumstances the standard of proof could be met.  But that’s just cleaning up the mess.  The lesson young ladies should take away is:   as much as it depends on you, don’t make the mess.  It’s not about “blaming the victim,” it’s about staying out of harms way.

Unfortunately, it is a message the Air Force has now largely cast aside.  The SAPR 2015 season cranked up this week, and the kindest thing I can say about it is that I’ll have no shortage of blogging material.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elastic Raisins

It will surprise no one that I support the Hornes in their legal challenge, currently before the Supreme Court, to the partial confiscation of their raisin crop by the federal government under a price-support program. But this part of Ilya Somin's post attracted my attention:

Michael McConnell, the prominent constitutional law scholar representing the Hornes, pointed out that his clients are probably still net losers from the program, even if you take into account the way in which they benefit from having a higher price. They would likely be better off if they could sell a larger quantity raisins at the lower price that would prevail in a freer market, than by selling fewer raisins for a higher price under the cartel scheme. Deputy SG Kneedler claimed this was not true because the demand for raisins is so “inelastic” that consumers would not buy more of them if the price were lower. That claim goes against basic economics 101, and I highly doubt that the justices will buy it.

Kneedler's estimate of the "elasticity of demand" (i.e., the price-sensitivity of raisin consumers) may or may not be true -- more on this later -- but it doesn't "go against econ 101". On the contrary, it is econ 101, as any actual basic economics textbook will confirm: the demand for some products, over certain price ranges and in certain economic contexts, doesn't change much in response to fluctuations in price. My own demand for raisins would be an example: I don't actually know what I pay for raisins, a pretty sure sign that a fall to any price above zero would not induce me to increase my family's consumption of raisins. Indeed, a rise in price would have to be large enough to attract my attention to the price in the first place before it would have an impact; I suspect that rise would have to be several multiples of its current price.

But I may not be the marginal raisin consumer. Many families whose food budgets are much more constrained "shop the sales" and might quickly switch to other products in response to changes in price. But that is an empirical question and cannot be settled merely by appeals to "basic economics".

Monday, April 06, 2015

Career Counseling Needed

Ace's Gun-of-the-Week entry a while back was the MP-44, a German WWII automatic rifle from which the Soviets apparently borrowed heavily for the AK-47. Its primary designer was Hugo Schmeisser, whom the Allies handed to the Soviets at the end of the war. I recognized the name from the Frederick Forsyth novel, The Dogs of War; ironically, however, the "schmeisser" sub-machine guns used in the novel likely refer to the MP-40, a weapon in the production of which Hugo Schmeisser himself was not involved.

I read The Dogs of War as a child and wanted to verify my recollection regarding the schmeisser; that page linked to the one for the real-life soldier of fortune Rolf Steiner, about whom is written:

In 1949, at the age of 16, Steiner decided to study for the priesthood. He intended to become a Catholic missionary in Africa. Following an affair with a nun at school, however, he decided that the military offered a more interesting life.

Well, yes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Diet that Dare Not Speak Its Name

From the Daily Mail:

'Your child could be a jihadist if they've stopped eating baguettes': Bizarre French government infographic shows way to spot radical Islamists

Here is the poster:

Warning: the French government infographic offers nine telltale signs to worried parents 

Except that, according to Google, “Ils changent brutalement leurs habitudes alimentaires” translates to “They abruptly change their eating habits.”  That doesn’t have anything to do with bagettes; in the current context, it means suddenly observing Sharia dietary restrictions, an obvious sign of radicalization.

Unfortunately, rather than illustrating this with a picture of, say, a pig, they tried to appease Muslim sensibilities with a double-bankshot reference to food in general . . . and wound up looking a little ridiculous.