Free men are not equal, equal men are not free.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fisking the Wanna-be Petty Tyrants and Gatekeepers

Larry Correia, the mountain that walks, the International Lord of Hate of the Evil Legion of Evil, and Sad Puppy One, takes a break from vacation to respond to someone being stupid on the internet. And since it is the Huffington Post, it is very, very stupid indeed. An excerpt (but please, read the whole thing. The only people who write as prolifically are Johns, Wright and Ringo):
Writing is hard work, but the act of writing can also be thrilling, enriching your life beyond reason when you know you’re finally nailing a certain feeling with the perfect verb.

The verb I would pick for Laurie’s essay is Bloviate
[bloh-vee-eyt]

verb (used without object), bloviated, bloviating.

1.to speak pompously.

It might take a long time to find that perfect verb.

Naw, it was pretty obvious right out the gate.

But that’s how art works. Writing is an art deserving our esteem.

Holy shit, GET OVER YOURSELF.

Best of all, was a reader comment I saw posted by Sky Henstrom over at Google+:
I know people like that. Needless to say they aren't the cats I want to hang out with.

Seriously. What is it, about once a year huffo shits one of these out, articles extolling the status quo and the gatekeepers? Its like Roman Empire Newsletter, circa 450 AD, headline: We're Still Great! Still Running Shit, ignore those Barbarians, please!
I absolutely love that mental image.


Friday, December 30, 2016

The Sardonic Laugh

Over at Quintus Curtius site, he delves into a bit of history behind a common phrase, and we uncover something quite disturbing. He was going through Procopius’s History of the Wars, and came across the following regarding what we call a "sardonic laugh."
This island of Sardinia was formerly called Sardo.  In that place there grows a certain herb that, if men eat it, a fatal convulsion immediately comes over them and they die not long afterward, giving the impression of laughing, as it were, because of the convulsion, and this laughter they call “Sardonic” from the name of that place.
Dig in deeper, and enjoy. Have a good weekend guys.

Backed Into a Corner

I've been introduced to a new blog that I've enjoyed so far at Walker's Retreat. One of his latest posts notes the following on why SJW's are going to scream and cry even more, and why they, if anything, will be even more dangerous.
When someone feels backed into a corner, they get dangerous because they see nothing to lose and all to gain. (It's why Sun Tzu said never to put your enemy there, on Death Ground, but instead to always leave him an out that takes him where you want him to go.) The SocJus cult (et. al.) feel this right now, despite it not being reality (yet), so they're already pushing each other to greater extremes- first with Rhetoric, and then with actions. If we remember that this cult acts like a rabid rabbit warren, then we can predict who's likely to break first and start some shit- and who's going to be egging them to do it.
It's a good observation. It also explains why they failed with Gamergate, as the observation had been made even at that time that, had the SJW's been so inclined as to leave anything be, they could have, and never provoked the ire and blowback.

They don't just want us irrelevant, they want us gone.

Girl Friday

Nicci Pisarri. (As always, also please follow up at The Didact for more, similar aesthetic appreciation)





Thursday, December 29, 2016

Socialism is Evil

No, I'm not kidding.

I fully realize that there are some damn good people who fully believe in socialism. Some, like Orwell, have the excuse that it hadn't been broadly applied such that it's inherent failures could be exposed for all the world to see - and even he, as time went on, began to change his views. It's no coincidence that 1984 and Animal Farm were eviscerations of totalitarian systems like the Soviet Union, or just in general. Others, well intentioned, not necessarily stupid, though likely being more than a little of what Nassim Taleb would label the "Intellectual Yet Idiot", haven't looked deep enough to the second order consequences of the pretty-sounding and pleasant goals that socialism is sold under.

Not all of them are social justice warriors either. Increasingly rare, there are some intellectually astute socialists and liberals who don't buy into the SJW crap.

So, again, despite some well meaning people who believe in it, socialism is inherently evil. 

Why? After all, isn't it just a set of ideas? How can ideas be inherently evil? 

Yes socialism is a set of ideas, and ideas that are not acted upon, any more than a gun that is not pointed at someone and the trigger pulled, are indeed just tools. But for the sake of this post, we're not talking about some abstract model that you can pick apart to see how it works, or doesn't. We are talking about a living, breathing ideology carried by living, breathing people who try to put it into practice. 

Aren't the goals good?

Yes. So? If I wish to make 100% of the population literate, I could do it the hard way and accept that not all children will be, but that we could get most of them. I could of course lie about the numbers and be only moderately evil, or redefine "literate" - though the number of children who are literate and the ones we call literate never will match up, and we've devalued trust, and meaning.

I could also walk around killing every single child who does not meet the standard. That would give us 100% literacy - of the remaining population. And it would of course be the inhuman, evil way of achieving the goal.

Don't we have a number of socialist systems in place in the United States? Welfare? Etc? We have almost the entire socialist party platform of the 30's in place right now!

Yes, and many do more harm than good. It's the old "just because people are doing it" argument.

Also note, that just because something is agreed upon as a "good" thing by socialists - namely, the government doing something - doesn't mean it's inherently bad. A competent evil overlord will have read the Evil Overlord List - and will do many things that are virtuous to build loyalty, build competence, etc., even if all of this is ultimately to evil purpose.

But... EVIL?

Yes. Because it plays off of not only greed, but envy. Because it is against nature. Because it doesn't allow for checks on the needed power structures to make it work.

Look. Objectivism and Libertarianism play off of greed. In part, one argument is that self-interest in greed is easier to manage than the sins that underlie how socialism is sold. Of course, being utopian, they also require angels for them to succeed, but despite ignoring that people exist in a society, with friends and family, and are not individual atomic units, are nevertheless closer to the reality of nature with distributed power and distributed decision systems addressing the problems of the moment.

Envy though - that's how socialism is sold. Look at that income disparity! Look at that wage gap! Look at that job gap doing "cool things"! As the Dark Triad Man wrote
Envy is a nasty, spiteful resentment. It is the projection outward of bitterness of self. Envy is a rejected acceptance of one’s own incapacity or lack of wealth, power, position or property. It is the involuntary transformation of the resulting disappointment into an ugly and pointless hatred of those who present examples of higher achievement.

Envy is the failure to accept unsatisfied desire. It is a failure, more importantly, to accept personal responsibility for both that dissatisfaction and a demand for better achievement of desire through greater personal effort. Envy is the external flinging of suffering when the psyche is not strong enough to withstand adoption of this true ownership.


Envy results in bitterness, in a curdled malevolence of heart.
For their faults, freedom-oriented ideologies like Libertarianism eschew the poison of envy. If you want what someone else has, don't ruin their lives, don't cut them down to your level, and don't steal from them. Make your own!

Since it is sold on envy. Everything that someone else has that you want is a source of pain that must be corrected by making things equal - and ultimately, that means an outside power must decide what is "fair", and take from those who have "too much" to give to those who have "not enough."

Far too much ink has been spilled on the truth that this leads to the capable not working- one of the better ones being Stefan Molyneux's dissection of Thanksgiving, and how the Plymouth colony ended up in such dire straights in the first place - so I will not go into it here. It leads us though, into being against nature. Not only natural limits of what we know, but the nature of man.

For socialism to work, one must assume that, if not all will work, then enough will work in the face of those who refuse to, to keep the system afloat. Despite much idealism, reality has yet to demonstrate such a trait. The opposite is not only eminently predictable, but has borne out, time and time again, and so of course force is needed to make people work. This again, requires a central organization to determine what is adequate "work", and who can be excused from it.

Again, the central control - and that is another natural limit. Sure, in a family, it's possible to know enough of what's going on to decide what's best for the family as a whole and who can do what, and no functional family is a democracy (nor is it an authoritarian hellhole), but despite the illusion provided by games like Civilization, etc., we simply never can acquire the knowledge to judge for everyone in any sizable community, much less a nation.

As much as individuals will make mistakes, many will manage to make OK decisions, and the scope of those decisions will be limited, rather than national. 

And central control brings us to the last point. Psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, and those who crave power over others are drawn to politics like moths to a flame. The greater the power, the greater the scope of control, the more attractive it is, and the more damage they can do to people's lives with it, while better guaranteeing they will never lose access to those levers.


It's amazing that those who who are unwilling to trust people with the individual power inherent in freedom will trust people with power over thousands - because supposedly there's a vetting process. More than enough people can attest at how well sociopaths and narcissists can hide amongst people.

That desire to retain that power and prevent challenges to it also underlies the observation in the United States that gun control isn't about guns - for their bodyguards, security services, and armies will still have them - it's about control.

And ultimately, that need for control as people refuse to do what's "best for them/the country" as determined by the thought leaders, leads to the suffering, starvation, torture, and enslavement in job lots of one's own citizens, time after time after time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I Can't Believe I Missed This

Especially since I'm a) a huge Battletech fan (I first purchased it when you could still find copies boxed as Battledroids, and the mech artwork was taken from sources such as Macross and Crusher Joe).

Anyway, there's a kickstarter out, brought to you by the same guys at Harebrained Schemes who've managed to deliver on Shadowrun returns. The KS itself is over but you can still pre-order as a backer.

I'm sure some aspects of the campaign story will suffer from the same liberal tropes Shadowrun did, but.... Battletech! Skirmishes! PvP!

Update: More background on the Battletech universe from the incomparable Razorfist.


And some gameplay video from earlier this year.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Narcissists and Boors - "Revenge" Gifting

First, the headline - almost says it all:
Trump backers get 'revenge gifts' from relatives: donations to liberal causes
So. 
Ken Urban, a playwright who teaches part time at Princeton University and voted Democratic, has made donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on behalf of his parents as their Christmas gifts.

Ken Urban: ‘I thought I could make a point and in the process be generous to a human rights cause.’

“My father was the Republican mayor of my small home town in New Jersey and spent his career in the navy reserve. My mother told me she would never vote for Hillary Clinton because they have a friend who works for the CIA who said she was ‘difficult’. And there are aunts and uncles and cousins in my family who voted for Trump,” said Urban.

He is ruing the fact that he and his boyfriend agreed, before the election, to attend a big family Christmas gathering for the first time in 20 years.

But the SPLC donations on behalf of his parents will take the sting out of it.
What kind of narcissistic petty monster do you have to be to do this?

I get it, you may be pissed at your relatives and all, but let's step back for a second.

The tackiest kind of gift is getting something that you want for someone else, knowing that they either likely won't use it, or even if they do you'll benefit from it.  Why is it tacky? Because it's exactly the opposite of what a gift should be - you sacrificing your own time, money, effort, etc. to get something for someone else without expectation of benefit. I'll leave out gifts exchanged as diplomatic moves, gifts in some cultures as de facto bribes, etc.

This isn't "I took my money and spent it on something else instead of you" - which is still an insulting message, but at least it's honest. This isn't sacrificing of themselves for something they support and still making a token show of respect for the parents who raised them or other family members. This isn't them simply deciding that family drama wasn't worth the time spent on gifts and contact. This is a way of admonishing someone under the guise of doing something for them. It's deliberately doing something they hate and are morally opposed to and calling it "for your enjoyment and benefit."

It's a petty coward who wants to know they hurt people, to rub it in their faces.

These people are poison.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Note

Posting will be light the next few days, and should resume as normal on Tuesday.

May you all have a warm and friendly time with family and friends. May joy and the blessings of the season be upon you as we celebrate His birth. May you have a happy new year, with good fortune, good friends, and prosperity.


~LR

Are Democrats Evil?

Mike Cernovich asks this in a recent periscope cast available at youtube:


As he introduces it, he's not quick to name people evil. And he discusses three recent cases. One, the creepy and twisted comments about his baby girl, the recent airplane kerfluffle on a jetblue flight where Ivanka Trump was accosted, and finally, SJW's going after Richard Spencer's mom. Not brought up, but the numerous attacks on Ivanka Trump's fashion line with blatant fake reviews at Amazon.

Yeah, I know, there's plenty of people who'd go "well Spencer deserves it". Well, if you want to tell him he's wrong - I think alt-white is too focused on the white than the civ and he doesn't understand how to work the press or is stupidly looking for "respectability" - feel free, but the point is it's not Spencer they are going after, not directly.

They're trying to run his mom out of business.

It is indeed one thing to go after people in the game. Richard, Mike, Trump. It's another thing to accost mothers, children, and grandchildren. To harass them, or to ruin their lives and their livelihoods. All over someone they have no control over.

What kind of character in a movie torments, tortures, or threatens a relative - a child, grandchild, spouse, parent, or even a pet - an innocent who is not a willing participant in "the game", in order to make another character bend to their will?

A sociopath. A bad guy.

Congratulations fucktards, you leftists have become the bad guys. The puppy-killers. The ones holding children hostage to your unstable temper.

Fuck you.

Friday, December 23, 2016

John Wick, er, Keanu, Does Three-Gun

Due to @BrittPettibone on gab (gab.ai) posting about the forthcoming John Wick movie previously mentioned which the Didact has also gushed about, @SmartGrunt posted a link to a video of Keanu doing a three-gun tactical course. While the video he posted also included the gunfight inside John Wick's house from the first movie, I've instead posted the original from Taran Tactical below.

Impressive.


More on Identity Politics, Free Trade, and the Intolerant Minority

As I promised in my update to the first article, what does free trade have to do with the intolerant minority?

The very first example that Taleb discusses in his article is the ubiquity of the kosher food choices. The upshot is that between logistical simplicity, the unwillingness of one party to accept alternatives, and the desire of most to not rock the boat for reasonable-seeming requests, very quickly one choice begins to pervade or override the others.

He also discusses this in the light of  Islamic immigration. Remember my comment about three percent and the American revolution?
Now consider this manifestation of the dictatorship of the minority. In the United Kingdom, where the (practicing) Muslim population is only three to four percent, a very high number of the meat we find is halal. Close to seventy percent of lamb imports from New Zealand are halal. Close to ten percent of the chain Subway carry halal-only stores (meaning no pork), in spite of the high costs from the loss of business of nonpork stores.
If I walk into a jewish deli I know I won't get ham - but the other stuff will be delicious. That said, they certainly don't stop me from buying ham, bacon, or pork sausage somewhere else, or stop other places from selling it.

Islam - what Taleb would differentiate as sunni Islam - is different. Time after time it's been noted that the pattern is to be all nice-nice with the neighbors until enough numbers exist to demand "reasonable" concessions. At first, they sortof are, but none of them truly are for the intention is not to reach a compromise, but to keep taking a mile after being given that inch. Eventually they are the majority and they begin subjugating those around them.

Arguably, in Europe and the States, we're in the middle of phase two, as unreasonable behavior is already being tested, and approaching (as the paragraph quoted shows) phase three in some areas. Note the recent proselytization at a nativity play, and the Christmas terrorism attacks.

So what about free trade?

Well, long before @voxday had his debate on free trade, I'd already come to one disturbing conclusion (given what I had previously believed). Leaving aside the need to promote virtue, customer-first, and long-term planning in corporations for longevity rather than "just enough to increase quarterly profits", free trade, at least between countries, could only exist if the two countries were operating on an even keel. "Free trade" with China, for example, is no such thing because we are competing against people who are working for much lower wages, not too far removed from slave labor. The factories with little or no environmental safeguards for pollution (and I'm talking the real thing - cuyahoga river or EPA spill level - not what most greenies point and scream at to shut down factories and nuke plants). All of this means that workers in the US are not competing on a level playing field, and trade without balancing tarrifs has resulted in losing manufacturing jobs as companies chasing quarterly profits forget their long term viability and internal "tribal" knowledge of how the things they sell work offload them overseas.

And China is also known for bringing in manufacturing jobs for other companies so they can learn the processes involved, then taking that knowledge to compete directly with their benefactors at prices US-based manufactures cannot compete with. It's been known long enough to be a major plot point of Crichton's "Airframe".

Both the loss of tribal knowledge, and the aforementioned espionage, are reasons why I don't think Apple is wise to open up a research facility in China. One other sign that their ability to make the best computer they can dream up has been compromised by their convergence.

Additionally, China, and previously Japan, extended no such unrestricted benefits to us.

While international trade negotiations aren't as complex as entire populations making their decisions, it is still the least "tolerant", the one most willing to walk away from a deal, who holds a massive amount of power from that very fact to push deals and behavior in their favor.

It's high time we stopped tolerating one-sided trade practices in the hopes of having "free" trade, and misnaming it such to sell it.

Girl Friday

Enjoy, gents.




The Clamor For Student Debt Forgiveness

...is, as Stefan notes, a de-facto admission that college degrees are often not worth the investment.

The relevant discussion starts at around 1:40, but, as usual, the whole damn show is well worth watching.



It actually makes sense, and is a devastating argument. Sure, I've argued that college/university, outside of some technical fields, is no longer worth the investment - and of course been called anti-education for my pains despite said complainer knowing my wall full of books. As an aside, most of those are the ones I've kept through multiple military and other moves, and have survived repeated winnowing. Just in paper reading I've got less than half of what I've owned, I've checked out far more from the library, and my ebook collection?

But to get back on track... The whole point of going to college is to get a degree to get a good-paying job. It's so important it's a shibboleth, and damn near a fetish - see above where I get attacked for being anti-education for noting that college may not be the best way to get one.  Yet student debt because they're not getting said high-paying jobs to pay back the incurred debt is such a problem that it was a popular plank for Hillary's only viable "Democrat" competition for the primaries (aside: Socialist, by his own description, though Debbie Wasserman Schultz called him a "good Democrat" on air, and then couldn't articulate when asked what the difference between that and a "good Democrat" was).

The colleges are failing at the very job that is supposed to justify their exorbitant expense.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Identity Politics, Free Trade, and the Intolerant Minority

I have a lot of respect for David Horowitz. He's a die hard convert from the communist left, has incisive insights, and unlike the neocon crowd was anything but #nevertrump, even calling out Bill Kristol in an article that was paraded as proof of Breitbart's "anti-semitism" (without of course, reference to who actually wrote it...)

That said, his idealism sometimes gets the better of him.

I'm not going to post excerpts here. For one, I fundamentally agree that the underlying assumptions of identity politics are antithetical to what made America, and what will keep all of America, in its current geographical boundaries, a united nation.

Here's one issue. We are not that America anymore. Why? Because the demographics, and the underlying cultural (and to whatever degree, genetic and epigenetic) factors that made us the nation we were, with the shared assumptions of behavior, expectations to work, and so forth, no longer support it. As the Putnam study showed, diversity leads to less trust - one consequence of which is people then revert back to tribalism with "their" kind.

We have imported so many people with different assumptions that we no longer have the same shared assumptions.

By way of example, look at Miami. Going there, I feel more like I'm in a foreign city than I do in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yeah, a lot of spanish speakers there, and lot of spanish signage, but that's not what makes it feel foreign. I sit in the uncomfortable zone where I don't have to translate in my head most of the time but I can "get by" understanding if I focus on the conversation instead of, say, driving, so hearing and seeing spanish signage on registers/etc. doesn't throw me one bit.

It's not the language.

And though Canada is technically "foreign", at the time I visited it was still fundamentally European in demographics. Sure, some Canadian habits are just different enough to catch you off guard like the differences between ice skating and roller blades, but a lot of the fundamental behavioral expectations are the same.

Miami? Sarah Hoyt once pointed out that in hispanic cultures (Portugal, in her specific and most direct experience) if you meant to keep it, you kept it secured, behind a fence, etc.

Compared to a number of other cities, Miami has several traits that, I'd either not seen elsewhere, or if I had seen them at all elsewhere, not until much later.

While I'm used to Costco checking your receipt at the door, the first time I ever had that happen at a Lowes? Miami. Unlike every other Barnes and Noble I'd been in the one I visited there was explicit in not wanting you to hang around and sit, even in the cafe, if you hadn't bought anything. The best Buy funneled you into a checkout Queue using an actual cubicle wall. A very high percentage of properties had fences, often solid stone, and far more had "cage" enclosures around the front stoop so you could step out to get your paper without leaving a locked, secure, space. The ones with fences included gates for the driveway.

This wasn't all just in the shitty part of town.

One house I visited, easily 4000 square feet, pool, very upscale, had a steel pad inset a few feet from the door marring the continuity of the tile. Racked on the wall near the door was a brace bar designed to wedge in between the metal pad and a similar one on the very , very solid door.

This is not a culture you lay down your bike in the front yard to go in and lay with your friends, and expect it to be there when you come back out.

Here's the second issue. Like the old joke says, it doesn't matter if you're interested in war, it's interested in you. Only one side needs to be interested in conflict for there to be a problem. And thus we get to Nassim Taleb's concept of Dictatorship of the Small Minority.

Not necessarily a dictatorship per se, but a recognition that a small minority that will not bend eventually influences far more than may be imagined. You may have heard that only three percent of the colonists in the Revolutionary war were dedicated to the cause.

But it could be, if those three percent are muslims who will not bend in spreading Sharia law.

So back to identity politics. I'm one who really wishes we didn't have to play that game as there are better uses of our time. Nevertheless, once the other identity communities form within our borders, and they very, very obviously have, we have no recourse but to respond in kind. Sure, if they stop, so can we, but until then, if whites, men, etc. don't form a cohesive band to address blacks, feminists, muslims who are banding together to push a unified agenda (even if they are respective minorities of blacks, women, muslims - again, see Taleb) and call bullshit, resist it, then we will be erased.

If we don't hang together, we will surely, as the jest goes, hang separately.

It's like the prisoner's dilemma. Once the other guy starts screwing you, you have to reply.

Update: When I originally saved this as a "to write" I had free trade in the title, and completely forgot to tie that in or change the title.

No worries, I'll follow up with part two, and apologize for the confusion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Coffee

RooshV just posted a video on how he makes coffee with an aeropress coffee maker at home.


I heartily second that.

First, some background. You may be familiar with the Aerobie, a flying ring that was for all intents and purposes a frisbee on steroids. Much slimmer, and you couldn't do ski[-tricks with it (duh) but it could go ridiculously far. A cousin lost one in the ocean because he threw it into the offshore breeze, and with the combination of lift from the breeze and the relative lack of aerodynamic drag it just kept going, and going, and going.....

You really could, with practice, and a little tuning of the curve, accurately play catch along the full length of a football field.

Well... the same designer decided to turn his mind to making the best possible cup of coffee. And what he ended up with combined some aspects of a french press (but far easier to clean, and filtered, with no grounds slurry) and air pressure to make ridiculously smooth espresso-strength coffee that can be watered down to regular coffee strength (add more hot water after the fact), or taken straight. It's not as smooth as cold-brew can be, but you also don't have to have some made ahead of time.

After playing around I personally just use two scoops Trader Joe's coffee I grind at the store as I don't like fiddling with grinders, at a drip or slightly rougher grind, and typically fill up closer to the "three" mark. Other than that, the video is an excellent "how to" if you have any questions on what the very short manual says. Unlike a french press, cleanup is exceedingly easy as it almost cleans itself. Uncap the filter retainer, pop the grind pick into the trash or compost as you wish,  pull back the piston, rinse.

It's also excellent for a hit of ice coffee that's not watered down regular hot coffee over ice. I use a tall, solid, drinking glass and fill it with ice, and make the coffee directly into it. Some of the ice melts, but that only dilutes it to a regular coffee strength.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Country Folks Can Survive

I know some of my friends (Hi Didact!) aren't up for country, and frankly, most of my fondness for it lies in the older stuff I was raised with, and a lot of childhood exposure to ethnic folk songs. Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Johnny Horton, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash (hell yeah) and of course David Allen Coe (Never Even Called Me By My Name). Outside of a few odds and ends - Toby Keith and Joe Diffie - there's very little country I care about after the 80's, and everything after that built off of Classic Rock, Metal, some Folk (dammit John Ringo for getting me hooked on Heather Alexander), Goth, Industrial, and various forms of indie/alt rock. 

So here's one I remember from my childhood, and one that I still think fits the attitude of many southerners, "rednecks", and frankly, more generally, in it's fuck you attitude to stuck up city folk who look down on flyover country, the alt right and current age.


Metal Monday

OK. I originally latched onto Five Finger Death Punch when some enterprising marine set a USMC birthday video to their cover of "Bad Company" from War is the Answer. It's in that small percentage of songs where I consider the cover vastly superior to the original, though admittedly it does help that I've never been a fan of the band Bad Company.

I also loved the answer he gave to why the album was called what it was - namely, that everything is struggle, at its base. I know some liberal heads exploded at that, if they had not already been turned into a fine mist by the title itself.

I'm including that here, as well as a couple other songs including another pretty decent cover of theirs, though one I'd not argue is better.

Have fun guys, and kick ass






Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thank You Jill Stein

I'd recently posted about musing if Jill Stein's recount push was gross and statistically improbable total failure, or black knighting.

In either case, more failures from the vote recount under the "what do you mean voter fraud" department:
Last night we noted that Team Hillary, which was supportive of Jill Stein's recount efforts, should be careful what they wish for. New data released yesterday revealed that voting machines in 37% of all Detroit precincts, which skew heavily democratic, registered more votes than they had of actual voters showing up at the polls. The scale of the "voting irregularities" discovered prompted an automatic vote audit by the Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.

Today, we learn from the Detroit News, to our "complete surprise," that the "voting irregularity" rabbit hole in Detroit is a bit deeper than initially thought. According to a memo penned by Wayne County election officials, 95 of the 662 precincts in Wayne County waited several days before delivering their poll books to canvassers and 5 of those poll books are still "missing" even today.

A Musical Interlude

One of the musical traditions that I grew up with folk - the old-world norther European kind as well as the underlying scots-irish that formed the backbone of Country music.

So it's no surprise that yes, a couple Gordon Lightfoot songs are among my favorites that I've loved since my teens. I'm also throwing in some Disturbed - though more in power ballad mode - and a very old-school folk song, that like most scots-irish songs not about drinking, is about infidelity and death. The original version I heard was by Fairport Convention, and is well worth listening to, but does run a bit long and I prefer acoustic in this regard to electric folk.








Friday, December 16, 2016

Girl Friday - Body Paint Edition (mildly NSFW)

It's amazing what a good artist can do on a suitable canvas, including that of the marvelous Kate Upton










Skippy's List

Some, no, make that most people, simply have no idea how mind numbingly boring much of military life can be if you don't develop the ability to "self soothe" in psycho-babble. This of course is one reason why military people are usually far better read, much less educated (with or without a college degree) than most liberals would ever believe.

See the USMC Commandant's "required reading" list. last I checked it no longer includes RAH's "Starship Troopers", but did for quite a number of years.

That said, some aren't inclined to read quite so much, and even those who are can spend a lot of time on watch where reading books is, shall we say, contraindicated. But practical jokes and wiseassery?

So, let me introduce you to a list of things that one "Skippy" did himself (and got in trouble or commended), witnessed another soldier do, was preemptively or spontaneously told not to do, or was clarification of the aforementioned.

If you claim you were in the military, and don't bust a gut laughing, I seriously want to see your DD-214, or military ID.

A small sample:
1. Not allowed to watch Southpark when I’m supposed to be working.
2. My proper military title is “Specialist Schwarz” not “Princess Anastasia”.
3. Not allowed to threaten anyone with black magic.
4. Not allowed to challenge anyone’s disbelief of black magic by asking for hair.
5. Not allowed to get silicone breast implants.
6. Not allowed to play “Pulp Fiction” with a suction-cup dart pistol and any officer.
7. Not allowed to add “In accordance with the prophesy” to the end of answers I give to a question an officer asks me.
8. Not allowed to add pictures of officers I don’t like to War Criminal posters.
9. Not allowed to title any product “Get Over it”.
10. Not allowed to purchase anyone’s soul on government time.
11. Not allowed to join the Communist Party.
12. Not allowed to join any militia.
13. Not allowed to form any militia.
14. Not allowed out of my office when the president visited Sarajevo.
15. Not allowed to train adopted stray dogs to “Sic Brass!”
16. Must get a haircut even if it tampers with my “Samson like powers”.
17. God may not contradict any of my orders.

Oh, and...
29. The Irish MPs are not after “Me frosted lucky charms”.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Unexpectedly"

Vox introduces Eric Raymond's open letter to the Democrats as follows:
 ESR writes one in the faint hope they will react reasonably and learn from their unexpected defeat:
"Unexpected".

...

Ok, now that I've stopped laughing - tempered by the fact that no matter how much I knew things would not be the walkover Democrats expected the morning of November 8th, that things were still uncertain as to victory - let's get to the term "Unexpected".

It's been an ongoing meme for the last eight years every time a failure predicted by those opposing a Democrat policy came about, to snark about it by mentioning that it was "unexpected."

Health insurance costs rose? "Unexpectedly" - and so forth. Amazing how often the "unexpected" came about - and if you only listen to the left, it is unexpected.

It's worth reading the comments at Vox's, and at Eric's article, but it's also worth noting here that the left has been living in a bubble for years. 





OK. First John Wick 2 and Now This

Yes, I am a Nolan fanboy. Ever since Memento, as a matter of fact, and I personally think his version of Insomnia compares well with the original.

Identity has been a consistent theme of his movies (Inception, Memento, and the batman movies). So has nobility, truth, and adventure. Two of my favorite lines in Interstellar occur on earth, one about how we used to look up at the stars, and now just look at the dirt - not even ground, dirt, perfectly encapsulates postmodern, typically liberal, narcissism. The other in the confrontation between Cooper and his daughter's teachers. He also dwells on the nature of the abstract. Where Terry Pratchett, in Hogfather, once had Death remark that we cannot sift the universe so fine as to find one atom of Justice, they nevertheless exist.  Despite the common misunderstanding as new-age pseudo intellectualism, Interstellar also anchors itself in the existence of love - that we cannot measure it, but we can show it exists by its effects - and how Coop knew his daughter would keep the watch because she loved him, and knew he loved her.

So I saw this trailer, and I damn well intend to see this movie.


More Kipling

While I love poetry, and Kipling is by far my favorite, it's been the Didact who not only has been posting excellent works, but has been focusing on the works and observations of this man.

Go see his latest post. Like much of Kiplings work it ponders human nature, and more broadly applies than at first glance.  In a more general sense, it applies to those with no skin in the game who nevertheless wish to tell you what to do, and backseat drivers.

As an aside - it's one thing to seek advice from someone with knowledge and no skin in the game, or seeing something, give advice when you have relevant wisdom, but in the end, the recipient of the advice is the one to choose. The evils of socialism come from those who have no skin in the game dictating to us, rather than simply informing us.

How can you tell the difference?

Look how they treat you when you say know, and if they try to make you do it anyway, "for your own good".

Like all things, there are exceptions, like intervening in a drug addicts life. But even there, one should be careful, because unless the addict realizes how bad their life has become, unless they want to change, they won't.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Razorfist on the DNC Playing Russian Roulette - Spew Warning

"All right, let's pull on that thread Demosthenes...."


Well worth watching, because "The only hacking John McCain ever does is in the wee morning hours before he's roused from his hyperbaric slumber to feast on peasant blood".

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blast From the Past

One of the reasons I will effectively drop anything and everything to read a book by Larry Correia, aka the "International Lord of Hate", is that he not only is nearly as prolific as John Ringo, but is, if possible, even funnier when he goes off on a rant. Given the high bar needed to exceed the utterly inspired Ravencon AAR, that is saying something.

So, in part due to slow blogging activity over at Monster Hunter Nation, an old facebook discussion was brought to the fore by one of his intrepid minions to explain the background of the expression "justify the moon ferrets".

It starts:
Brad, I apologize in advance that I’m about to use bad words on your page, but I simply don’t have the time, nor the patience to deal with this fucking troglodyte imbecile in an amicable fashion.

Instead I’m going to mock him, berate him, insult him and his fundamental philosophy, maybe call him some more names, rejoice in my giant majority, maybe add a few more insults, then go to bed, in my giant house in the mountains with my hot athletic wife. I won’t bother to wait for Forest’s response, because it will consist of some poorly thought out sound bytes regurgitated from Mother Jones and a series of links, and I’d rather suck start a 12 gauge than listen to one more fucking doofus tonight.
And after discussing (at a first grade level given he's an accountant) the "why" of the mythical gender pay gap, he really gets rolling:
You are basically a Speak and Spell, and instead of when pulling the string you get “THE COW GOES MOO” you get “LINK TO HUFFPO” or “WHY WON’T YOU ANSWER MY QUESTION”. Only the Speak and Spell has a use. Children need to learn which animal says moo versus which one barks. You on the other hand, are completely fucking useless, and when it comes to entertainment, my money is on Fisher Price.
There are far, far too many good lines to quote. Don't read it while drinking, or unless you want worried onlookers concerned that you lost your sanity.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Intellectual Yet Idiot


I was looking through my drafts and realized I had fully intended to do a piece on Nassim Taleb's "Intellectual Yet Idiot" - but the Didact beat me to it with an utterly fantastic article.

It was fun to look over the signs that "you may be an IYI" though and realize a few of them applied to me.

Take TED talks. Most of them are worthless. I've seen enough at this point that I refuse to watch one without it being recommended by someone I trust. Why did I watch that many? Blame Mike Rowe. That, and one from Boston Dynamics were sufficiently cool and insightful I thought there might be more interesting stuff to peruse.

Sadly, the next one I saw was Pollan on food. And the bad underlying assumptions just got worse with every one I watched. So I gave up. I fully agree that, in general, TED talks are for people who want to think they're smart. They market themselves to people who value being smart, and bring on, largely, people saying fashionably "smart" things. Occasionally the stopped clock has the correct time.

That said, the one by Alexander Macris, creator of the OSR-style Adventurer Conquerer Kings system (ACKs) was also worthwhile, on how our language has progressively dumbed down.

I also ping on a couple others - "Used to think fat was harmful", "Only drink red wine with steak" (at least when drinking wine vs. beer) - and used to believe a couple others.

FWIW - I don't think the checklist is a "if you (falsely) believe these things are true" so much as, based on your lifestyle, and in some cases "intellectual signaling" - first edition copy of Black Swan as an item got a laugh from me - a set of flags that you may value the appearance of intelligence and signaling you're part of the "smart" crowd more than actually being right.

It's an accusation I often seen thrown by liberals wen arguing with them and not budging because the facts presented are either on my side or neutral - "you just have to be right."

Well, yes. I do. But not in the context they mean. It was, admittedly a long journey to this point as I used to have a lot of ego invested in not only having the right answer but in not being wrong, and trust me, "you can't accept you're wrong" is exactly what is meant, and from what I've seen of their behavior, total projection on their part.

I do, in a sense, still "have to be right". However, I care about arriving at the right answer, and lost much of my ego on arriving with it in the first place. I can and do change my mind on things, even not as easily as I likely should.

I want the truth.

For those who are interested, here's Mike Rowe and Alexander Macris.




Be Careful What You Wish For

I remember one of the questions asked when Jill Stein began her recount efforts was "why oh why is someone who loudly and repeatedly proclaimed that electing Hillary was tantamount to to begging for a nuclear war doing so much to put her in power?"

I didn't have an answer myself at the time, and still don't, but given the results of these efforts, part of me is wondering if this is not epic - level black knighting.

Our other alternatives include so gloriously incompetent that, like Inspector Clouseau, things work out (in this case, for us) despite her best - or worst - efforts to foil us.

Think about the fallout. The most recent news from Michigan related to the recount is that they will likely pass a voter ID law. The recount itself has - with the exception of one very oddly mis-sent set of voter registrations - solidly validated that the election night results were representative - and thus, validated Trump's win. Worse for the Democrats, it's uncovered arguable corruption and vote fraud so bad that recounts had to be nulled from several Detroit precincts because ballots in the form of signed, certified ballot boxes listed as showing hundreds of votes contained only 50 ballots.

So someone who is supposedly asking for a recount to help Hillary has managed to instead underscore the vote results were legit insofar as Donald and he won those states, that there was cheating by Democrats, reinforced the need to ensure only legitimate votes are cast, and walked away with a bunch of spare change.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Apathy, and a Podcast.

One of my favorite, ever, podcasts used to be the - at the time well deserved for its nomination - formerly excellent Writing Excuses.  I absolutely loved it. I recommended it to teachers who taught writing, I recommended it to friends who loved analyzing books and movies. I talked it up far and wide for in breaking down the art of telling a science fiction or fantasy story, most of the material applied to the art of telling stories in general.

The founders were Dan Wells, a good if then tyro writer who wrote the excellent (and disturbingly not to my taste) I Am Not a Serial Killer, Brandon Sanderson of Mistborn, The Way of Kings, and of course finishing off Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary. The tagline was "15 minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart."

The chemistry of the three was fantastic, with a mix of insights from the capable-but-new Wells, and the experienced Sanderson neatly complemented by Tayler's insights into storytelling as changed by the needs of a serialized webcomic. The time was the perfect length, forcing the show to stay focused on the topic but allowing each of the three to provide some depth in their replies.

So what happened?

Well..... Mary Robinette Kowal.

I'm going to set aside for now my intense dislike for her that I developed after learning her comments on the SFWA bulletin cover, and the "I didn't actually name Jerry Pournelle" nudge-nudge, wink-wink of wanting the "twelve rabid weasels" of SF&F to just die already.

Why did bringing in a fourth host fail?

First, simply by having the fourth host - it got shallower. With "fifteen minutes, because..." - and four main presenters, each member had less time to make a point, and the depth of the insight provided by each suffered

Second, logistics. Bringing MRK in meant that more shows were recorded at once when they had the opportunity for her to travel over, and the timeliness of the episodes suffered.

Third - little was added. Dan was both capable, but still somewhat new, so he could provide the viewpoint of the relatively new writer still working on his early stuff, bringing on new projects. Brandon teaches writing. Howard had literally years of experience in telling serialized stories via webcomics. Each brought unique insights, with the very different needs of webcomics in terms of pacing and plotting providing not only an interesting factors, but providing insight that applied to all serialized storytelling. And all were conversant, of course, with movies.

MRK brought - puppetry. And a few of her books. Yes, puppetry is different, but plays, while having unique differences from movies, are not different enough in format from movies and TV given the storytelling focus of the blog. Yes, she was competent as a wordsmith - as Jeffro's look at The Lady Astronaut of Mars showed -  but she wasn't better than the previously existing hosts, and so she didn't add much as either an author or a storyteller in other media to compensate for the above issues regarding depth, etc.

Finally, she had an impact on the guests that came on. Larry Correia? Never saw him again. The people who came on had nice things to say about words, but the interviews were rarely as interesting as they used to be.

The last can be squarely laid at the feet of her pet SJW peeves and activism.

So, by the time I discovered what a miserable piece of work she was re: the weasels and chainmail bikinis, I'd long quit listening.

FWIW - the pre-Kowal episodes are still well worth listening to if you care about storytelling.

For Those Who Follow Schlock Mercenary...

... and remember this post, not only have we found an interesting way to deal with Tagon's death, but Tayler is - in usual fine form - exploring the consequences of it beyond the first, obvious answers.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Girl Friday - Illustrated Edition

Decided to change it up today, and provide a few pinup illustrations from Keith Garvey.









Thursday, December 8, 2016

Anger Leads to Hate

Vox Day notes that he's the subject of an article at the Black Gate that calls him a neo-nazi. He's more than adequately capable of defending himself, and certainly has a horde of minions that are capable of assisting him.

No, I actually want to address two other things she wrote, two underlying assumptions that show both her complete inability to understand the world, and how little self-awareness she has.
Right now, we don’t need a Jedi Master to tell us that fear leads to anger, anger to hate, and hate to suffering
It's possible that Yoda, as a character, had one bit of actual wisdom to pass on - and given how badly he fucked up in the prequel trilogy, it's certainly arguable he was anything but wise -  but this is not one of them*.

If you look at the seven deadly sins, you'll notice that many of them are rooted in things that are not only virtues, but necessary to survival. Gluttony? If you don't eat, you starve. While you can argue the paradox of the sandpile as to exactly where anger becomes wrath, every one of the seven deadly sins is something normal dialed up "to eleven" through obsessiveness.

A little bit of "pride" in one's handiwork is fine when tempered by humility, but this one, called by some the greatest of sins as it usually leads to the others, was the downfall of Walter White in "Breaking Bad."

Anger is a normal reaction to a perceived injustice against oneself. Wrath is the inability to let go, obsessing over it. It doesn't matter if it's after discovering that the perceived wrong was only that, perceived, or tearing down the rest of your life to avenge a small matter. Letting go is not necessarily forgiveness, but to everything, there is a season, and there is far more to life than pridefully, narcissistically, harboring anger and stoking it.

Then comes the main thrust.
For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”
What pisses me off about this, and to a degree about that stupid Yoda quote, are that they are bullshit. Not blatant lies, but something that almost sounds like truth, like something profound, but misleads. In the second case it is because of what I've come to call "but I was just".

For example. "But I was just telling him to move over". Oh, really? If that was all you were doing, then you could have said "Excuse me, can you move over?" and left it at that. The three sentences after that, the insults, and so forth? No, you were not "just".

Let's break it down.
as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension
Leaving aside the assumptions of making the personal political, no-one - not Vox, not Larry, not Sarah, not Kate the Impaler, not John C Wright, have made any claim that having politics or a viewpoint is an inherently bad thing. For that matter, they would almost certainly agree with this statement, as written, in plain english. It's a reasonable sounding statement.

The devil of course, is in the details. "a political dimension" in SJW-speak means explicitly checklisting story, characters, etc. based on how they adhere to the shibboleths of the day rather than reading the story first to see if the people, characters, etc. make sense and draw you in. If you're tempted to take their denials at face value, you don't have to dig far to find articles at Tor.com and other places on how one or another commenter doesn't ever want to read books with a default binary gender, or anything by straight white men.

It's motte and bailey. They make politics primary while pretending that all they want is the reasonable position of being able to express their viewpoints - which no-one actually disagrees with. Larry, Vox, Sarah, John, etc. have all spilled enough pixels on the subject.

Of course, by conflating the reasonable with their actual position as demonstrated by their behavior, they then turn around and paint those who oppose their actual behavior as horrible, unreasonable monsters: white supremacists, neo nazis, etc.

Like I said in the intro - Vox can defend himself. What angers me here is the pure bullshit on display to facilitate the lie and the attack.

That is all for now.

* The one I'll agree with is "Do, or do not, there is no try".

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tax Inducements (Cuts) are Giveaways?

I don't usually watch much of Sargon of Akkad anymore. While his routine was funny at first, it has devolved into a largely "point and say 'how stupid'" exercise in the vein of Jon Stewart. That said, as a self-admitted leftist he nevertheless has a degree of intellectual honesty that largely escapes the left, and sometimes he catches something interesting.

So - I watched the following video, which indeed had some of the Young Turks crew shutting down a Q&A session in full petty totalitarian mode ("they'll come back and take questions from "real students" - implying the first questioner wasn't a student on no basis of evidence than he asked an uncomfortable question), but more interestingly had some video of Cenk Uygur recording himself at the airport commenting on what he saw as the pros and cons of Trumps Carrier deal, and at the 13 minute mark said something that always gets my hackles up.

He referred to "tax inducements" - or tax breaks, as giveaways from the US government.

This is something I see all the time - a tax cut being described as the government giving away money, as if that money belongs to the government and anything people or companies keep is being stolen from it, rather than it belonging to the people who worked for it, earned it, invested it, with some handed over (under, ultimately, a threat of force if they choose not to) to help run the government. These same people hate citizens hopping over the border for cheaper gasoline or cigarettes when there's a discrepancy between tax rates.

It's like saying people taking advantage of a sale, or negotiating a better price for a product, are stealing from the business, when the money doesn't even belong to the business yet.

I find it coldly telling that liberals view the money in your pocket as the governments, and that you only have it at their sufferance.




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

More On Rubbish Art

Related to yesterday's post on shitty (often literally) modern art, The Didact pointed me to a Paul Joseph Watson video I had not seen on modern art being (in many examples, literally) rubbish.

Art and Communication

Over at Return of Kings there's an outstanding article on why modern art is so uninspiring. It digs into several sources, notably Tom Wolfe:
What I saw before me was the critic-in-chief of The New York Times saying: In looking at a painting today, “to lack a persuasive theory is to lack something crucial.” I read it again. It didn’t say “something helpful” or “enriching” or even “extremely valuable.” No, the word was crucial.

In short: frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting.
Go read it.

I believe I've brought it up before but it bears repeating: I am reminded of a scene from a Baen book I read a while back - Guns of Two Space - where attending a party on earth, one of the crew goes off on the "artists" present.

Skill and craft were addressed, notably the lack thereof in many works - and I agree that more detail/work isn't always emblematic of craft (note the story of Giotto drawing a perfect circle to demonstrate his skill as an artist).

The point of "you just don't get it" - also brought up in the post - was also addressed.

Basically, if part of what art is supposed to do is communicate, that accusation is an admission that the art is FAILING to communicate, except to the very few who study all the theorems needed to unlock it.

Kids may not get all the subtexts of a bugs bunny cartoon, but they're still going to enjoy Bugs and Elmer having it out to the strains of Barber of Seville....


Monday, December 5, 2016

Traveller Skills

Today is a bit of a digression, but when I was in middle school, I had picked up at the local hobby shop a black rulebook with a painted sleeve cover showing a group of people exiting a spaceship parked on (apparently) a vacuum plain via  pressurized corridor, with guns. It was for a science fiction RPG system called "Traveller", and took over for me from D&D as my primary RPG of choice. I'd spent hours in middle school running ship designs to get the best possible combination of weight/cost/distance for different roles, plotting out combat scenarios in the vector-based system, and rolling up (and often killing in the process) characters.

One thing that has flummoxed a lot of people is the skills system. Old school D&D didn't really have much of one - it was basically "try whatever you want / can describe" with the GM taking into account the few proficiencies for weapons and armor, etc., and your physical stats to determine, sometimes with a die roll, how it works out.

Later editions of D&D, 3.5 and Pathfinder in particular, took this granularity too far, and GURPS was built on granularity from the ground up.

GURPS though, had something explicitly baked in that was mostly implied in Traveller - that many "skills" that would require a roll were things any normal human could try, they just weren't explicitly trained.

It is that "mostly implied" that this most recent post gets into:
The first thing to remember is that Traveller characters are competent. Skill-1 is employable - you are good enough with it to get a paying job using this skill. Skill-3 is a professional - typically enough to get you a license in one of the Professions, such as being a Medical Doctor or a licensed Engineer. In ordinary situations, they do their jobs competently. Under CT rules, for example, First Aid and even Surgery for Severe Wounds do not require a roll - you got the paramedic (First Aid) or the surgeon (Surgery), you get results. They only need to roll dice when there is a significant chance of failure even for a professional, and when failure will have dire consequences. For example, if a doctor character would try to perform the above-mentioned surgery in some colonial hellhole when only the local TL-3 tools are available, and not in the default TL8+ Medlab.

Again- Skill-1 is enough to work at an actual, skilled job. Most people, both in real life and in Traveller, do not have too many such employable skills.
Further down:
Skills are a Big Deal in Classic Traveller. Pilot-1 alone can land you in a 6KCr/month job - very well-paying for a 22-years-old character. Medic-3 alone is enough for being a licensed physician, and with DEX 8+ you are actually a surgeon! Most people - even sci-fi heroes - will not have too many skills. The game mechanics also reflect this - on a 2d6 curve, DM +3 is a Big Deal, and skews things very far in your favor. Add to that Characteristics DMs, and a talented, skilled professional can be a highly successful expert.

But what about all the other adventuring stuff? you ask, If my character only has Vacc Suit-2 and Computer-1, what about combat skills? Driving a vehicle? Well, my friends, for this you have the Skill-0 rules. For starters, all Traveller adventures have Skill-0 in all common small arms. With a good gun at good range, especially with good Characteristics, they'll make very decent combatants even with Skill-0. With Vacc Suit-1, you can wear Combat Armor, and with Vacc Suit-2, you can wear a Battledress! As a Referee, I'd also assume Vacc Suit-0 and a Skill-0 in one Vehicle skill for the typical character. Most "passive" knowledge skills are subsumed in the EDU Characteristic. Finally, this is Old School - your character can do a whole load of "adventuring" stuff without having a specific skill listed on their character sheet.
He uses some interesting examples, including Ripley from Alien and Aliens.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Girl Friday

While I'm not a huge fan of the tats, Vanessa Lake certainly has a few other charms.




Chip Bergh, President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, had the following to post after an idiot customer discharged his firearm in the store "by accident" and injured someone (who is not clear from the letter):
An Open Letter to Customers: Our Weapons Policy

President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co
Dear Customers,

The debate in the U.S. over gun safety and gun rights is as complex as it is divisive. As a former army officer, a father and business leader, I’ve heard the arguments from all sides. And, as CEO of a 163-year-old company whose products and presence rest at the intersection of culture and community in more than 110 countries around the world, I feel a tremendous responsibility to share our position on the issue, now, at a time when clarity is paramount.

Providing a safe environment to work and shop is a top priority for us at Levi Strauss & Co. That imperative is quickly challenged, however, when a weapon is carried into one of our stores. Recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it.

So, while we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.

With stores in Paris, Nice and Orlando, and the company’s European headquarters in Brussels, I’ve thought more about safety in the past year than in the previous three decades of my career because of how ‘close to home’ so many incidents with guns have come to impacting people working for this company.

We operate in hundreds of stores across every state in the U.S., and laws are different in each one. We know that the presence of firearms in our stores creates an unsettling environment for many of our employees and customers. We also know that trying to enforce a ban could potentially undermine the purpose of the ban itself: safety. With that in mind we’ve made this decision as a business – a request not a mandate – and we sincerely hope responsible gun owners will respect our position.

It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don't belong in either of those settings. In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.

Sincerely,

Chip Bergh

President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.
The usual disclaimers apply. He has the right to say what he wants, and I fully endorse his right to choose who he wishes to do business with.

That out of the way....

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Levis was a brand synonymous with pioneering and the wilderness, but now it's about fashion, and with that fashion come fashionable ideas about the world.

I won't even ask if they'd tell citizens of any particular demographic with an outsized crime rate that, given various rampages over the last years, are almost guaranteed to have assaulted someone in a Levi's store or in the vicinity of one. That would be to acknowledge hatefacts, and we can't post a copy of Colin Flaherty's "White Girl Bleed a Lot" or "Don't Make The Black Kids Angry".

No - it's using this incident not as an excuse to ban or restrain an idiot customer, but to pre-emptively ban an entire class of law-abiding citizens. And like all those Taleb labels "Intellectual yet Idiot" he gets "the first order logic right, but not second-order (or higher) effects".

This blindness is why the argument Bastiat makes, of the seen vs the unseen, completely bypasses them. It likely is related to why they literally cannot consider any negative effects from gay marriage, nevermind ones big enough in the confluence of that, pushing careers for women vice homemaking, etc. to undo civilization (hint: the future belongs to those who show up).

Yes, by not having guns in stores, fewer people may get shot in stores, though I'm sure a few thugs and predators will be happy to know they have carte blanche. It's not clear the stores will actually be safer though. Certainly, they make an exception for law enforcement, as if police cannot also be thugs, and out of total ignorance that private concealed carriers likely shoot and use their firearms more than most cops.

It's almost surreal that he actually claims to have thought about Nice, Paris, and Orlando, for it's not like those firearms, or those in San Bernandino, were lawfully employed, and Nice involved a truck.

One can certainly detect the scent of "no one needs to carry a gun" - and the comments - which also include a few pro-gun idiots - bear that out in spades, with phallic compensation and a desire to punch out anyone carrying simply for doing so starring prominently.

So - Levi as a company has nicely requested that customers not bring their icky firearms because they're not appropriate, they believe, for buying clothes.

And I'm figuring that Wrangler, among other brands, works well enough.

UPDATE: It's also interesting to look at Chicago - 700 homicides this year and counting despite intensive gun control, and wonder if Levi's wants their stores "safer" in the same way.