Thursday, August 29, 2013

Miley Cyrus & The Need to Shame

Fortunately I was out on Sunday and did not see the horrendous performance from Miley Cyrus at this year's Video Music Awards live, but I saw it a day (or was it two?) later after being linked to it from a thread on a forum I frequent. To say it was terrible would be putting it mildly. It was light years beyond terrible. It was so terrible that a new word is necessary to describe its terribleness. To redeem my eyes for having suffered such a spectacle, I proceeded to watch Guns N' Roses' famous ensemble (which included Elton John) performance of November Rain to close out the 1992 VMAs. I lamented. In a little over twenty years, the quality has declined so massively that said decline might as well be a supermassive black hole, around which an entire galaxy of vapidness and degeneracy orbits. This is a race to the bottom popular culture, and Miley Cyrus' "performance" is yet another sign that the event horizon has been crossed.

To my immense satisfaction however, her act has been almost universally panned- not just in the demographics I roll with, but by mainstream culture too. It's almost as if, disgusted by itself, the mainstream has been looking for a way to go back from the event horizon- a last-minute desperate attempt to warp reality. This is a good thing.

Yet, some try and defend this hideous act, predictably trying to wrap Cyrus up in the mantle of victimhood touched with a sprinkling of race-baiting. Yawn. Consider the following passage:
It seems that we still can’t handle what it’s like for a young woman to be able to perform, as she chooses, without layering in a heavy helping of insults as well.
I'm sorry, but what? No one is saying that Cyrus shouldn't be able to "perform" (I refuse to give her act the dignity of that word) as she wishes to. If she wants to try and twerk her non-existent ass, it is her right to do so, but neither I nor anyone else has to accept it and/or not insult her for it.

The article, and this passage in particular, seems to imply that she can just do whatever the hell she wants, that other people have to accept her choices in life. We do not.

Let me make it clear: Miley Cyrus is a skank. Period.

Cue-in cries about "slut-shaming."

It's painfully obvious that Miley Cyrus has nothing to offer other than her vagina. Unlike her peer Lady Gaga, and their predecessors such as Britney Spears or Madonna, she has no artform associated with her sexuality. Whereas other women use their sexuality in a confident and intriguing fashion as a fuller expression of who they are, Miley Cyrus offers nothing. She is just a vagina perched beneath a cardboard cutout figure, and she desperately tries to flaunt it to get attention, likely as a result of a deep-seated identity crisis as she struggles to get past her Hannah Montana days which continue to become smaller in the rearview mirror. The result is a stunningly juvenile and vapid display which pollutes the entire culture.

And yes, this behavior should be shamed. I remember a conversation I had a couple of months ago with a mentor of mine who is a luminary in New York City politics. We both agreed that it was lamentable that nothing is ever shamed anymore. No matter what behavior, it seems that we are not allowed to criticize it (unless it goes against the egalitarian religion of course). I believe that this gives our society a sense of false confidence and feeds into the self-centered, "you can have it all" attitude that you should be able to do whatever you want without any consequences.

Shame is necessary to prevent runaway undesirable outcomes for society. It is a vital form of "soft" regulation if you will. If we strive for excellence, we must call out those that shamelessly engage in behavior that degrades everyone.

Simply put, a woman who has no value other than her vagina, and flagrantly engages in empty promiscuous activities, offers nothing to society. While her choice of behavior certainly shouldn't be restricted, that doesn't mean she's entitled to respect.

I am glad that most people see this for what it is right now- but if my pessimism is well-founded, this will become more and more accepted in the future, as our culture continues to get sucked down the black hole. We can try to fight- to warp reality, by continuing to shame, and not give the time of day to those who cry and moan about said shaming. Miley Cryus VMA's 2013 Twerking

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Need for Intellectual Vigor

One of my favorite small online writers is Quintus Curtius (one of a few reasons I frequent Return of Kings, and am willing to overlook some of the negative aspects of that site). I find his articles consistently interesting. Quintus has mentioned numerous times of his experiences overseas, including a very interesting account of his service in Bosnia as a United States Marine. Quintus seems to be at a good phase in his life: he has the experience and enlightenment of a seasoned man and the energy and vigor to put those things into action. He's an example that younger guys like myself would do well to emulate.

One of my favorite quotes from him is that to be a self-actualized man, you must contain a universe within yourself.

This spoke to me. It partially speaks to me because I've always been someone that's pursued intellectual vigor- perhaps too much, even at the expense of a more active social life. I have at times viewed this as a mistake. It no doubt held me back from maximizing college for all it was worth and prevented me from strengthening my social skills.

On the other hand, this habit has made me smarter than most people in the world. Period. And to those people that I do find to be quality and want to connect with, it makes taking deep discussion that builds lasting social bonds a lot easier.

I have a lot of hobbies that one can categorize as being stereotypically nerdy. One of these is debating the outcome of a hypothetical match between fictional characters. We can use the infamous Goku vs Superman debate as an example. A debate is then carried out by knowledge of the characters' outings in their respective mediums, within strict conformity of the rules of logic.

The hobby itself is probably as pointless as it can get other than personal enjoyment, but it is enormously helpful in building your mind to think logically and analyze arguments- a very productive end, especially considering that serious debates on the internet are more often than not, pointless and unproductive because everyone is at each others' throat, a dynamic explored very succinctly by Mark Manson. If you're going to learn and practice logic online, something relatively lighthearted like this is probably the better choice to make.

But then again, logic is always something I've been good at. This hobby also carries with it a certain dedication to analyzing the physics behind each character's demonstrations (called feats)- to make debating easier.

How fast did character X have to go to do this? How powerful was Y's attack in terms of joules?

These can in fact, be quantified via calculations. As the name implies, understanding mathematics and the laws of physics is essential to doing these correctly. At first I thought these things were above me, as I was always abysmal in mathematics. I failed essentially every math test I took in high school, and it is a miracle that I was able to graduate and move on to college.

Nevertheless, I took up the challenge of doing these calculations, and over time, I actually got pretty good at them. Throughout my experiences of doing them I learned a hell of a lot about the laws of physics, and how to use math to solve the problems that arise when trying to quantify things in terms of them. I got smarter. I got better at math and physics, which I always considered to be albatrosses when I was in high school. And, as a person that loves astronomy and cosmology and always did, I began to understand more of how the universe works, and how to decode it through the cosmos' language- mathematics. It strengthened my knowledge of astronomy.

Two years later I consider myself well-versed in math and physics, and that my problems in doing them were mostly a result of my own mindset. This is probably an indictment of our school system as well- for not being able to teach material that is both relevant to a person's life and in ways that someone can enthusiastically relate to and understand, but that is a different topic.

Certainly I do have problems in math, and I'm never going to be an MIT physicist or mathematician, but compared to most people in the world, I have a very good understanding of math and physics, all from doing a hobby that most would probably think is stupid. At this point, as long as I'm not solving very complex algebraic or calculus equations, I'm probably alright. The world looks very different to me now. I'm more knowledgeable, more well-rounded. It also makes for some very interesting discussion with people- a good way to spike things if you will, by laying down some science in a fun and entertaining way.

This is what I believe that Quintus was getting at. To be well-rounded, you must pursue constant intellectual vigor (along with all the other ways to improve your lifestyle). It forces you to think differently as you take on new challenges, and as such, you overcome what you thought were your limitations and can see the world in different ways through the journey. Through it all you become smarter and more interesting- more valuable.

This ties in to my coming article on the importance of hobbies, as your intellectual challenges should also be fun. Intellectual challenges knowledge

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Moments in Time #2: The Battle of Blenheim

Today is the 309th anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim, a true strategic masterpiece. The Duke of Marlborough (profiled here) and Prince Eugene of Savoy showed the world the spectacular result that two men, determined to fulfill their goals, and acting in full trust and confidence could achieve, even when the odds appeared to be against them. Let us also remember all of those that fought bravely in an all-too-often forgotten war. Pictured below is a part of the tapestry of the battle as seen in Blenheim Palace- named for the triumph and to this day the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough.

I am also working on a video about this battle. I'll link it on this page when I get it out.

Battle of Blenheim 1704 War of the Spanish Succession

Fat Acceptance is Unacceptable

Some of the things my mom likes to watch on TV are stupid celebrity gossip shows that come on after the nightly news. I disparage her whenever I see her doing this, telling her that it is unbecoming of someone on her level of intellect.

Nevertheless, as mind-numbingly idiotic as these shows are, they do offer the astute observer of social dynamics a glimpse into how mainstream society, particularly women, feel about the world. They can give insights into the direction of our culture, ever-obedient to overexposed media darlings.

One thing I notice about these shows is the slow yet steady praise of the fat acceptance movement (if indirectly). Of course, we can see this without watching these silly shows. We need look no further than Kate Upton being pushed as the hottest chick on earth. She isn't fat by any means, but she is vastly overrated in terms of her looks, and by the standards of her profession, she is a bit on the heavy side. Nevertheless, she is being pushed- hard, by the media, and has two Sports Illustrated swimsuit covers to her name, among other accomplishments. Kate Upton, they say, is a sign of the times. She is a sign that the tyranny of thinness is coming to an end, and "healthier weights" (beware of this term, more on that later) are becoming seen as more acceptable and beautiful.

We can go back further than Kate Upton, though. Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame is probably just as influential in pushing the fat acceptance movement in the popular mind. Here was a "natural beauty" that everyone was raving about.

Again, just to make myself clear, I am not saying that these women are fat or unattractive. I am simply saying that they are being used as Trojan Horses by the fat acceptance movement to gain more access to mainstream society, helped by the media.

Indeed, if the impetus of this latest media movement were to stop at Kate Upton and Christina Hendricks, I wouldn't mind too much. You can still look decent without being a size two. Lingerie model bodies are not attainable by everyone, and women should not feel ashamed or ugly simply because they can't look like a Victoria's Secret Angel. Men too, shouldn't feel bad if they can't be on the cover of Flex (I certainly can't, and I don't).

Unfortunately, this is not where this media push and certainly not where the fat acceptance movement it is fostering (perhaps unwittingly) stops. It instead wishes to promote fat women as being beautiful, and eliminate traditional standards of beauty as being the result of 'thin privilege.' Like all leftist ideologies that are the legacy of the Frankfurt School, it gives primacy to feelings rather than facts, and is therefore socially destructive. Fat acceptance is unacceptable, for a variety of reasons:

1. It ignores reality.

A major platform of the fat acceptance movement is the idea that beauty can be found in all body types. The preference for thin women (or men) is a socially constructed privilege that is to the detriment of 'people of size.'

Certainly some standards of beauty are determined by culture. Some cultures prefer bigger breasts. Some cultures prefer smaller breasts. The ideal body proportions such as leg length may also vary, but certain standards of beauty are universal.

Waist to hip ratio among women (and to a lesser extent, men) is one of those things. While the exact preference for this too varies, a median female WHR of around 0.7 is more or less universally preferred. Even experiments that suggested that this was not the case were later shown to be flawed. A WHR varying around 0.7 among women is famously associated with higher levels of estrogen and thus fertility. Naturally, this would be more attractive to men. In addition to fertility levels, WHR of around 0.7 in women and 0.9 in men has been significantly correlated with greater physical health and life expectancy, such as less risk of heart disease, for example.

Fat people naturally tend to have high WHRs. This signals that they are both unhealthy and consequently, unattractive. This leads me into the next reason why fat acceptance is unacceptable...

2. It is a "You Can Have It All" mentality that disincentivizes meaningful self-improvement.

If you see yourself as unattractive, you will consequently try and do what you can to become more attractive (unless you're total loser). This usually means going to the gym, changing your diet, and putting a greater emphasis on fashion and grooming. All of these things require varying amounts of dedication. While our attractiveness is certainly limited by our genetics, there are also environmental factors that are within our control. If we are wise, we will maximize these factors to the best of our ability.

The fat acceptance movement is a cop-out from this. It erroneously tells its adherents that "you are beautiful just the way you are," despite that statement being patently false. More than that however, it allows the adherent to rationalize not working to improve her (or his) attractiveness by actually putting in the effort to do so. You don't need to go to the gym. You don't need to eat better foods. You don't need to dress and groom yourself to perfection. After all, you are beautiful just the way you are, and those things are products of thin privilege. What is the incentive?

The ultimate mentality of this movement is that you can be beautiful despite not being blessed by good genes or by putting in the hard work to make yourself so. It is no wonder that this philosophy is so seductive to some, especially those that have been given the short end of the stick, but it is a Judas- an empty promise that will betray its adherents to lives of disappointment and anger.

3. It excuses unhealthy lifestyles, which negatively impact the entire population. 

As mentioned before, overweight people are unhealthy (or at least not as healthy as they can be). I do not need to mention how big a problem obesity is in the United States. The U.S. is the most overweight country in the world, and it not only negatively effects our average life expectancy, but it drains billions of dollars out of our economy every year and makes healthcare more expensive. This punishes people that actually did the right things by forcing them to pay for people doing the wrong things.

And it allows people, lured in by false promises and exaggerated claims, to rationalize continuing to be unhealthy. Despite proponents pushing "health at every size", this pitiful scheme has been heavily (no pun intended) criticized by doctors as promoting bad health and lifestyle habits while relying on flawed methodology. The bottom line is, that even if you are fit, being overweight, or especially obese, is never a positive for overall health. It puts the person who desires to be "healthy at any size" behind the 8-ball from the start. It is a false promise, or even outright fraud, and must be labeled as such.

4. It excuses the insane food policy of the U.S. government.

There is a very real reason why the U.S. is so overweight. Despite what people say about lack of exercise (which is true), by far the biggest reason Americans are the most overweight population in the world are horrendous eating habits. Due to a glaringly redistributive system of subsidies and regulations (particularly those that favor corn farmers), the U.S. grows more food than it needs supplied by large scale and subsidized factory farms.

The system in place makes unhealthy corn-syrup laden foods dirt cheap and abundant, while healthy, natural, unprocessed food with ingredients you can actually pronounce is expensive and far harder to find. Given this market, it is no wonder why so many people have terrible diets and why they are consequently unhealthy! This is why I can only smirk and shake my head in mockery at attempts by states and municipalities to curb obesity- usually in the forms of taxes or, in the case of my city's dictator-mayor, an attempted ban on soft drinks that was rightly thrown out by a court as being arbitrary. The states and localities can try all they like, but as long as the current system of agricultural subsidies and regulations that favor companies like Monsanto remain in place, such further regulation will continue to only be a frivolous added burden.

And this is the fourth reason why fat acceptance is unacceptable. By disincentivizing weight loss and by promoting fatness as something other than unhealthy and unattractive, it turns a blind eye to this unfair and anticompetitive agricultural system fostered by the federal government. It makes it something more than unacceptable. This system ought to be opposed, and far more loudly than it currently is, otherwise Americans will continue to be doomed to obesity in very large numbers. Fat acceptance enables this crime against the people of this nation, and it is therefore ethically reprehensible.


Fat acceptance is a rising tide. Turning back to where this article began, the stupid gossip shows have begun describing women that were clearly unattractive and unhealthily overweight as being "plus size," "curvy," or "healthy." In a 1984-style attempt to control language, the fat acceptance movement is trying to rewrite our definitions in an attempt to re-label fatness as a positive. It is a classic Cultural Marxist attempt to force the transformation of society to make up for personal failings and insecurities. It is simply yet another cultural appeal to the lowest common denominator. Do not fall into this trap. Call this behavior out whenever you see it. They will undoubtedly try to guilt-trip and play the victim card. Do not let them.

Remember the frame that destroys leftist movements such as this: that people are not entitled to respect, wealth, love, being beautiful, or praise. When you realize this, the rug is irrevocably pulled out from under their feet. As a friend of mine said: people should be treated the way they DESERVE to be treated. People that push fat acceptance, despite the many harmful flaws of this philosophy, do not deserve respect. Tell them the one simple truth of the matter:

Fat acceptance is unacceptable. Fat acceptance movement public health obesity beauty

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Day That Albert Einstein Feared

My mom sends me a lot of chain emails. Typically I roll my eyes and don't open them, wondering why this fad has lived longer than the 90's. This one was different however, and hearkens back to my last post about slavery to social media. I'll just quote the message from here:

Having coffee with friends.

A day at the beach.

Cheering on your team.
Having dinner out with your friends.

 Out on an intimate date.

 Having a conversation with your BFF.

 A visit to the museum.

 Enjoying the sights.

A truer prophecy is hard to find.

Edit: Well, it turns out Albert Einstein never really said this. Nevertheless, the quote itself is sound. Albert Einstein social media smartphones