Is there stock in your retirement account? Is it safe?

I’ve frequently heard that only the rich own a significant amount of stocks. But when I went to look up figures, actually about half of Americans own some stocks, and even the poorer half of the population own an average of $54,000 market value in stocks. Yikes! That’s a lot to lose if and when the stock market next crashes.

They tend not to own that stock directly, but instead, in retirement plans that someone else manages. This is ostensibly “for their own good”, because truth be told, most of them would not manage it very well. There are several pitfalls that tend to contribute to their losses:

  • buying into sales pitches
  • not understanding the risks
  • lack of risk-mitigation strategies
  • not realizing what they don’t know
  • a tendency to make decisions based on emotions like greed and fear

Unfortunately, though, having someone else manage their retirement investments creates “moral hazard” (an incentive to do the wrong thing) because it’s “other people’s money”. There are laws regarding “fiduciary responsibility”, but you can’t regulate away the incentive to sell to captive audiences what richer and more financially-sophisticated clients don’t want.

If you have a stock portfolio, either directly or indirectly, I can’t give you advice about what to do about it, because investment advice is regulated where I live, and because it would be impossible to give one-size-fits-all advice anyway. I can only give some general information.

When stocks do drop, most stocks, maybe 80%-90%, all tend go the same direction. But not all the same amount.

Some securities available in the stock market do go the opposite direction, because they’re designed to. The problem is without knowing exactly when or how much the market might decline, you can end up losing money getting in too early or too late. Timing is always difficult. You could buy the right security at just slightly the wrong time, then panic and sell it at just the wrong time, and lose on a bet that if you’d made it with just a little bit different timing, you would have made a lot of money on it.

Because of the difficulty in timing the market, a lot of stock portfolios end up somewhat random other than being what the hedge funds aren’t interested in (unless to short).

My daughter got into stocks during the big runup, indirectly through her 401(k) plan. She had no idea what she was invested in; she just randomly picked funds that had interesting-sounding names. Truth be told, though, it’s fairly normal for fund sponsors to intentionally give their funds vague names. Even when you read the prospectus, you can’t always tell exactly what’s in it. Realizing that the stock market was looking toppy, I advised her to cash out those gains. As a result, she locked them in before the big corrections earlier this month. I’m advising her to stay out for now.

I can’t tell you what to do with your retirement funds. I suggest at the very least, finding out what they’re invested in, and if possible, finding out what the risk is as market volatility increases. Ignorance isn’t really bliss.

Members feel free to ask questions in the forums. Answers subject to regulation, but I have plenty of information and no conflict-of-interest. I want you to prosper.

Be an enlightened warrior, not a monk!

Man in martial arts uniform meditating.

Here’s an article in the mainstream media that’s wrong on all counts and all levels, worth a warning:

Meditation DOESN’T make you a calmer person: Buddhist practice leaves people just as aggressive and prejudiced, reveals study

“Prejudiced” means “having prior judgments”, but what they really mean is “having in-group preferences that are taboo for specific groups”, versus other in-group preferences that are praised and encouraged. “In-group preferences” is what I will refer to, because I try to avoid other people’s loaded language.

Interestingly, the slug for the article is:

Meditation-DOESNT-make-better-person

In other words, according to the Daily Mail, a better person is unaggressive and doesn’t have taboo in-group preferences.

If meditation did make you meek, harmless, and a sucker, I would suggest avoiding it.

Notice that the article equates meditation with “Buddhist practice”. Hindus also meditate, and some Christians perform practices like centering prayer that are effectively the same thing. Suffis meditate, and Sikhs say meditative prayers. I listened to a lecture by a psychologist who claims that meditation is probably derived from a natural biological function, like sleeping or eating, that religious sects stumble onto when performing rituals that require a lot of attention to detail. In other words, many religious sects perform rituals that are evolving towards the same effect, even if they haven’t developed meditation per-se as a practice.

‘In the early 1970s, Transcendental Meditation conveyed this message openly, announcing that the rising number of individuals practising this technique would lead to world peace in the short term.

Transcendental Meditation is Hindu mantra meditation commercialized by paying the guru money to choose your mantra for you. In any case, it’s not Buddhist.

So the question is why equate meditation with Buddhism, when Buddhism is not the only religious sect that does it. I suspect it has to do with the other assumption, that meditation should (but apparently doesn’t) make you unaggressive and to not have in-group preferences:

For all intents and purposes, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a “lay Buddhist”. Some laypeople dabble in Buddhism, perhaps sending boys to a temple for short stints similar to the Christian practice of vacation bible school, but anyone serious about Buddhism is expected to become a monk or a nun; that is, to become

  • celibate
  • childless (ie, commit genetic suicide)
  • vegetarian or better yet vegan
  • pacifist
  • a beggar

In Asian cultures, Buddhists have a social contract with the rest of society:

Leave us alone to pursue enlightenment, and we’ll live as non-competitively as possible.

When communists took over various Asian lands like Mongolia, Tibet, Viet Nam, and Kampuchea, they massacred or at least persecuted the Buddhist monks and nuns. In Mongolia they wiped them out wholesale because their soviet handlers told them to. Instead of achieving peace, the monks achieved annihilation.

Someone who isn’t Buddhist also thinks the goal SHOULD be to make you less competitive and unable to defend yourself.

This reminds me of Yuri Bezmenov‘s claim that the soviet model of subversion was to undermine a national culture with leftist politics, vices (especially drugs and promiscuous sex), and hippy/New Age/”Eastern” pop culture. One of the goals was to use “peer pressure by elites upon academics and society to convince that prior values were inherently flawed, racist, prejudiced etc.”

Bezmenov was sent by the KGB to work in India, where he fell in love with the culture but realized that the soviet strategy was to either distract people with practices and vices that made them either disengage from “reality” (whatever that is), or better yet, subvert their own culture, identity-group, and nation. In other words, they want to goad, shame, or encourage you into swallowing poison-pills that they themselves won’t touch.

Mr. Brezmenov claimed that the leftist political activists would be targeted for execution once the target nation was under their control and the leftists had exhausted their usefulness. It was assumed that they’d realize they’d been duped and would cause trouble, but I honestly doubt that was really a danger to the party. My takeaway from years of close observation is that as long as they were allowed to join the communist party and reap the benefits of party membership, they’d go along with the hell-on-earth that was delivered in place of paradise-on-earth.

Since Mr. Bezmenov’s time, things have changed: the soviet union collapsed, and millions of communist party members fled Russia and were welcomed with open arms into the “western” countries, where they are now busy pursuing the same agenda from the inside.

Do you notice what I am talking about happening in contemporary American and European culture and politics?

Peace is not their objective. Their objective is for you to surrender and commit cultural and genetic suicide.

An interesting discussion for another time is that many different perspectives contain some grain of truth. You can look at “reality” from a religious viewpoint, a Machiavellian political viewpoint, a philosophical viewpoint, or a scientific viewpoint, and so on. You’ve always got some “filter” in place because you’re always interpreting whatever you think is “reality” into existence. If you think you’re “red-pilled”, I have bad news for you: you’re always jumping from one sense of reality to another; there is no “red pill”. I suggest that you keep refining and maintaining your sense of reality according to the results you get. Instead of obsessing about “truth”or “ultimate reality”, do more of what gets you success and less of what gets you failure. But that’s a philosophical discussion for another time.

I suggest shying away from any starry-eyed sense of reality that disengages you from what author Ivan Throne would call “the dark world”.

Be an enlightened warrior, not a monk:

  • Find a loving companion and keep her.
  • Raise your own batch of heroes.
  • Get strong and learn how to defend yourself.
  • Learn how to create value and trade value for value.
  • By all means, cultivate practices that raise your level of consciousness, but only to the extent they don’t degrade your physical and mental vitality.

It so happens that I do meditate. I also practice Hatha Yoga—to get and stay strong, as a matter of fact. I eat a plant-based diet and am nearly vegan (let’s see how that works out if enough men sign up for Mr. Throne’s local Feast of War to take place and I end up feasting with a wolf-pack of flesh-eaters); I also know how to do that without creating other problems. I fast twice a week and dedicate my fasting to the Divine. I have a Libertarian sense of non-aggression principle (more specifically, don’t initiate violence); I’m relatively peaceful even if also “martial”. And I practice shooting. If I had more time on my hands, I’d practice martial arts. There is no contradiction; it’s “and”, not “or”. I choose to allow my personality to expand into ordered complexity, instead of being flat and one-dimensional.

Here’s the irony of the article: its premise is dead-wrong from the get-go:

‘If every eight-year-old in the world is taught meditation, the world will be without violence within one generation,’ the Dalai Lama claims.

But it appears the respected monk could be wrong.

For scientists have revealed the trendy Buddhist practice does not make you more compassionate, less aggressive or prejudiced.

Um, no. The Dalai Lama’s claim is perhaps an exaggeration, but the concept is correct: meditation would reduce violence. Not by making you less aggressive or destroying your in-group preferences, but by replacing emotional triggers on violence with rational, calculating control over violence.

Meditation increases control over impulses. You feel an emotion coming on, and in a split-second you decide whether to act on it, resolve it, or channel it into something more intelligent than a “reptilian response”.

Imagine the difference between a milquetoast who is physically and psychologically incapable of harming you, and a dragon who could kill you in an instant but to the extent it can be avoided chooses not to.

You want to be peaceful like the dragon, not the milquetoast.

I had to use an imaginary creature as a metaphor, because the concept is apparently so exotic in western culture! The point is to avoid violence through discipline and intelligent choices, not to surrender as a matter of necessity and call that “peace”.

It’s also worth pointing out that from what we can tell from the article, the scientists were not testing what Buddhists actually practice.

Science is not a substitute for rational analysis. “Science” won’t stop you from confirming your biases with invalid experiments.

They involved mindfulness – paying more attention to the present moment

Mindfulness practice has nothing to do with making you more compassionate, less aggressive, or less “prejudiced”, and that’s not the point of doing it anyway. Someone set up an experiment that was fundamentally invalid. Possibly because they’re not interested in meditation unless it really did turn chumps into milquetoasts.

, and loving-kindness – imagining objects such as cute animals.

“Loving-kindness” is मेत्ता (Mettā) in Pali (the common speech in the time and place the Buddha lived); in Sanskrit (the high speech), which I am more familiar with, मैत्री (Maitrī). मैत्री as I understand it is love without उपादान, (upadana), a word that doesn’t exist in English but usually translated as “attachment”, that is, pre-conditions that you set for your own peaceful contentment. In other words, love that isn’t “needy”. It’s similar to the Greek-Christian concept “agape”, divine love.

Imagining cute animals is not the way that loving-kindness meditation is traditionally done. Instead, you imagine taking on the suffering of other people, and giving them back release from it. It’s sometimes called “compassionate exchange”.

It builds empathy (“I sense that you are sad”) without triggering unhelpful sympathetic responses (“That makes me sad too!”), and adds compassion (“I don’t want you to suffer”) to the mix. The part about imagining taking on other people’s suffering might even make you mentally tougher.

This is all perfectly good; the problem is adding cultural and genetic suicide to the mix, and that’s nothing you will ever learn from me.

Additional reading:

Price: $17.99

Peter Pan wasn’t raised by his parents

Peter Pan playing his pan-pipes

If you were never aware of something, you don’t notice when it’s missing

People who are color-blind don’t necessarily realize it. Until and unless they’ve been screened for it and someone breaks the news, they don’t necessarily realize that some people can distinguish colors they can’t.

People who are mentally-ill don’t necessarily realize it. Sometimes their point-of-view is that everyone else is crazy.

Children who grow up in a dysfunctional home don’t necessarily realize that anything is unusual about their up-bringing because they lack any reference experiences to compare to. That’s one reason that problems often propagate generation-to-generation. Abusers don’t necessarily realize the treatment they got was abuse. Negligent parents may have been imprinted with low standards of childcare.

Millenials have a reputation among adults my age for delayed adulthood. Millenials themselves will often argue this point, and claim that actually something is wrong with the preceding generations. In some respects, they’re right.

The generation that hasn’t grown up

American sociologist Kathleen Shaputis labeled millennials as the Boomerang Generation or Peter Pan generation, because of the members’ perceived tendency for delaying some rites of passage into adulthood for longer periods than most generations before them. These labels were also a reference to a trend toward members living with their parents for longer periods than previous generations.Millenials - Wikipedia

Contrary to the quote, Peter Pan didn’t live with his parents. And proximity is not what’s lacking; what’s lacking is involvement.

Some people my age or older are shocked that so many adult Millenials still live with their parents. I’m not, because I realize that jobs are scarce and wages are stagnating compared to the cost of living. That part doesn’t bother me; it’s better that young adults live with their parents, than fail to support themselves and end up in dire circumstances.

I have to admit other aspects of delayed adulthood do shock me even though I realize that there must be some reason for them. The complaints are ubiquitous and fairly consistent.

My wife has had similar experiences with nurses; the younger generation are more likely to show up late, or sometimes not at all, without any explanation. She’s also noticed that they are addicted to their mobile devices and will play with them right in the middle of meetings. Older generations consider this disrespectful and an impediment to finding out what they need to know to do their jobs.

I’ve heard Millenials claim that they’re actually far more productive than older employees, because they use their cell phones to get work done. This is just an excuse; you can’t really do nursing care with a cell phone! My son who is a Millenial computer programmer doesn’t think his peers are doing any programming on their phones, and he and his boss have noticed his colleagues being distracted by football games going off in a window on their desktop.

Distractibility by electronic devices seems to be the characteristic addictive drug of choice of Millenials.

Raised by daycare

My guess is that too many Millenials were raised by daycare, not their mothers, and that, for better or worse, prior to their absence, moms were the ones who transmit basic social behaviors to children. The transmission process is overwhelmingly unconscious; if you have to tell someone not to play with a mobile device in a meeting, some process already broke upstream. Once moms stopped raising their own kids, a lot of very basic social expectations fell by the wayside.

About half of Millenials are missing dads, and most of the dads in intact families were passive as parents. Dads used to be the ones to teach competence.

I can think of other reasons for delayed maturity too, like lack of enough playtime, fewer playmates, and fewer older siblings. Kids learn a lot from taking their own initiative and from older siblings and playmates.

Think you’re a child, act like a child

Some trends, like thinking of themselves as being younger than they actually are, they undoubtedly inherited from earlier generations. Many baby-boomers I know who grew up rich were starting to have delusions about their own youthfulness, like some Boomer women declaring themselves too young to have children well into their 40s when they were in fact too old, or Boomers of either sex oddly referring to themselves as “middle aged” when they were 55 (you’re planning to live to 110?! really?). Some of the age delusion was probably caused by wishful thinking as regards sexual value. The same Boomers I knew who had delusions of youthfulness also had what I would consider an unhealthy fear of death; not just a healthy will to live but an unhealthy terror of their own mortality. These were people who would freak out over their parents or grandparents dying, and were worried about their kids being traumatized by the movie “Bambi”.

I do not blame Millenials for these characteristics; they didn’t ask to be raised that way.

I’m referencing the following article just so I can comment on it. I’m not endorsing its assumptions.

Most Millennials Are Finding It Hard to Transition Into Adulthood: Report

By his twenties, Kyle Kaylor imagined he would be living on his own, nearing a college degree, and on his way to a job that fulfilled him.

Instead, at 21, he found himself out of school, living with his parents, and “stuck” working as a manager at a fast food restaurant scraping to make hand-to-mouth.

Launching into adulthood has been tricky, he said.

“It became too difficult financially to be in school and not working,” says Kaylor, who dropped out of Lincoln Christian University, in Illinois, after one semester because of a money crunch. “And without schooling, you can’t get a job that you can survive on, so I had to move back home,” he said.

What Kyle considers bad luck is undoubtedly a blessing in disguise: if he didn’t bail out sooner, he might have ended up with a massive amount of school debt, and no job to earn the money to pay it back!

The media tends to excessively advocate for college, because bureaucrats involved with labor statistics see a correlation between years of education and income, and infer a causal relationship between the two. It’s like assuming that rain is caused by the falling of mercury in the barometer.

Education doesn’t make people any smarter. It’s not like if you go to college, you’ll score any higher on an IQ test. Neither will you learn skills that are more marketable than, say, trade school.

While standards for entry into college have declined, competition for getting into specific majors and degree programs remains fierce. As a result, too many college students end up in unmarketable degree programs for lack of being able to compete for high-demand degrees, or in many cases, lack of good advice.

Meanwhile, they’re racking up debt on unmarketable degrees, with the risk of never having ANYTHING to show for the time and money they spent, if they flunk out, run out of money, or get too sick to complete their degrees.

The problem that remains is where to get training and how to pay for it. There’s a bootstrapping problem: no money to pay for training, no job without training. Keep reading my blog; I toss out tips from time to time.

“In 1975, only 25 percent of men aged 25 to 34 had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41 percent of young men,” according to the report.

“That is a product of a shrinking blue-collar economy,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce, a non-profit institute at Georgetown University.

Traditionally, men occupied most positions in industries such as manual labor and construction work. With those mostly gone, male wages have been hit harder than “women who started off behind” but excelled in school and college, Carnevale said.

I agree that the remaining blue-collar jobs don’t pay as well as what used to be available. But show me the data that white-collar jobs aren’t disappearing too, or that the wages they pay are keeping up with the cost of living.

The part about women excelling in school and college is inaccurate and somewhat irrelevant; most of them end up with unmarketable degrees, or in service professions like teaching and nursing, making lower wages than engineers & computer programmers, which is one of the main reasons for the so-called “wage gap”. One of the most popular majors for women, psychology, is a disaster for marketability, so the comparison to women is irrelevant.

The problem for young men is not that they’re not going to college; it’s that there are simply fewer high-paying jobs whether blue-collar or white collar. Men might have been impacted more than women because their blue-collar jobs paid more than pink-collar jobs, but going to college at rates that women do won’t help because there aren’t enough places for all of them to get into high-demand majors and degree programs. Even if they did, which they won’t, it would simply flood the market for engineers and programmers!

I advice against piling up credentials without a plan. Credentials are not usually enough by themselves to get a job and keep it. Sometimes they’re worthless. Below I will post a link to a book by Charles Hugh Smith about his concept of “self-credentialing”.

While 81 percent of those who live at home are either working or going to school, one in four between 25 to 34 are “idle, meaning they are not in school and do not work” the report stated.

These individuals may be temporarily not working or not in school, but that doesn’t mean they are permanently out of the workforce,” said Jessica McManus Warnell, a professor at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business.

It would make more sense to tell us what it does mean. It means they’re not getting experience, have nothing to put on their resumés, and become ever less competitive with people who are working or getting credentials.

Further reading:

Unfortunately, the only good book I’ve ever read about how to relate well with others is long out of print, and used copies are hard to find. Here are some boosk about “self-credentialing” as an alternative to getting an expensive and possibly useless credential, mindfulness as a cure for “monkey-mind”, and a strategy for getting work done by training yourself to stay focused for manageable chunks of time:

Price: $13.44
Was: $16.95

Is the world really run by a secret cabal?

I just watched a video clip featuring Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of Defense, talking about a secret cabal that rules the world, Operation Paperclip, and aliens. Someone thought it important to bring it to my attention.

Is the world really run by Illuminati?

The short answer is “no”. The longer answer is still no, but more complicated.

It’s true that the French Revolution and the American Revolution were staged by Freemasons, and also that this information is routinely missing from history textbooks. It’s documented elsewhere, and even somewhat admitted to right on Wikipedia, so it’s not that much of a secret anymore. In case there was any doubt, you can also see their symbols, like the annuit coeptis, all over US currency. It’s also true that Freemasons were involved in a number of British Imperial operations, and that US Presidents have usually been members, though in recent generations it appears to be totally on a nominal basis strictly for tradition.

Nowadays, Masonic Lodges are dying out. Back in 1955 there were 4,009,925 members registered with various masonic organizations in the USA; now, despite a much higher population, there are only a little over a million despite a much larger base population in the USA, and their numbers are falling fast.

Fraternal organizations are dying out generally in Europe and North America.

They were originally organized as trade guilds. Their functions included:

  • monopolizing the goods and services their members dealt in
  • controlling secret fabrication techniques, both keeping them secret, and passing them on to chosen apprentices
  • lobbying governments on behalf of their members
  • maintaining order among members and resolving disputes in the days before lawsuits and civil court
  • various social functions
  • functional competition in some regards with religious organizations, which is why some religious sects forbid membership in them

Their last vestiges are dying out because conditions changed in ways that are incompatible with them:

  • their mystiques involving symbols and secret teachings are incompatible with modernist, scientific mindsets.
  • several of their functions have been compartmentalized into function-specific operations; political lobbies are not also social clubs; they’re strictly business. Charities are just charities.
  • for a while, they became somewhat obsolete, when “liberal” (in the original sense of the word, actually closer to modern “libertarian”) economic policies opened up access to most (not all) lines of business. This is becoming less true though due to increasing levels of government regulation.

As for other subjects of conspiracy theories, they often have a basis in fact, but it’s grossly embellished:

The US deep state once did scheme to stage an alien invasion hoax a pretext for world government. Wernher von Braun discretely disclosed it. They never pulled it off, probably realizing that it might be too far-fetched, and they didn’t want to destroy their own credibility. The scheme lived on in Hollywood propaganda, in movies like “The day the earth stood still” and “Independence Day”. Oddly enough, even though the audiences know that the movies are fiction, the narratives of uniting the planet under one global empire to deal with an alien invasion still prime the brains of the audience to go along with pretexts for globalization (“one world or none”). It works better that way without the risk of exposure as a hoax.

The Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, the World Economic Forum (the Davos folks), and so on, are all real organizations, their decision-making processes are all secret, and membership is by invitation-only. Even though their websites are obvious for anyone to see, the corporate media rarely discuss them, and that usually only tangentially and low-key. Anyone who breaks the taboo on talking about them as an outsider gets ridiculed as a tinfoil conspiracy theorist.

While you can’t participate in their decision-making processes, and can’t find out about their current project planning, it’s not too hard to figure out what projects they are currently implementing, because they communicate those to influencers. They don’t announce them in press releases, but you can take the initiative to have a look on their websites.

A great deal of disinformation (“red herrings”) about them serves to confuse outsiders who get too curious.

Satanic rituals? Unlikely. The highest echelons of power are almost completely atheistic; they don’t believe in the devil any more than they do God. My guess is that observers are imagining connections between their ruthlessness, their secrecy, and their passive acceptance and patronage of weird modern performance arts. They probably don’t mind ogling those half-naked bodies either.

Spirit cooking? My guess is that it’s “performance art” as a cover for something else, like arts-and-entertainment magazines publishing photographs of a photograph of a “Calla Lilly” (actually, a Zantedeschia) along with directions to a Robert Maplethorpe exhibit. It’s not really about flowers; that was the code they used to be able to advertise it in public without alerting the uninitiated to what’s really going on. One of my buddies went to one, not knowing what it was really about, and boy did he get a surprise. He told me, which is why I know.

Pedophile rings? Those do exist! But most pedophiles lack political connections, and go to prison if they get caught. My guess would be that pedophile rings whose members are a little (probably not much) more intelligent than average work themselves into positions of power because what starts as a conspiracy to hide a crime can also serve as a collaborative network. They can defend their members and bully opponents. The secrecy required to avoid drawing attention to their crimes ensures the loyalty of members of the group; unlike other mafias, they worry less about betrayal because the stakes are high for would-be turncoats.

The pedophiles really are organizing politically. NAMbLA went underground to prevent infiltration by cops, but they still exist and are politically active. I know this because from time to time I’ve stumbled onto people arguing for legalization and acceptance of pedophilia. There could be a major coup at any time, much like the transgender bathroom coup the transgenders suddenly pulled. My guess would be that their objectives would include de facto decriminalization of pedophilia (much like infanticide has been decriminalized in many jurisdictions) by re-defining it as an illness, “treating” it by creating tolerance for virtual child pornography and child sex-dolls, and creating a social taboo against criticism of pedophiles and pedophilia. My guess is that one possible outcome is that pedophiles will continue to prey on children, but create powerful taboos against asking questions, which is already getting entrenched. Talking about spirit cooking or pizzagate will get you in trouble.

Women pretend not to notice entourages, mixed-orientation or lavender  marriages, and secret double-lives. They create taboos around the topics by becoming upset and outraged if frankly discussed.

Sexual urges make powerful bonds. That’s why there are mafias defined in terms of sexual identity instead of ethnic identity. Not all gays and lesbians are mafiosi, but there are gay and lesbian mafias. The lesbian mafia is more politically powerful if not as wealthy as the gay mafia. It’s because they can persuade women regardless of sexual preference to follow behind their leadership and pretend not to notice entourages, mixed-orientation or lavender marriages, and (barely) secret double lives. They create taboos around discussing unconventional sexuality in women by becoming upset and outraged if the topic comes up.

Heterosexual men can’t use sexuality to forge strong group bonds, which puts them at a disadvantage. That’s probably why bonobos and chimpanzees are more bisexual than humans. Instead of using sexual bonds to maintain group loyalty, heterosexual men tend to use real and virtual kinship relationships (“brotherhoods”) and tribal instincts to maintain group cohesion. Older mafias tended to be organized along tribal and cultural lines, like the Sicilian mafia. Different organizations within the Sicilian mafia are popularly known as “families”.

Some religious organizations have also used the concept of extended family as a means of maintaining group cohesion. That’s why Catholic priests are known as “fathers”, monks as “brothers”, and nuns as “sisters”. Religious identity is a basis for a powerful bond all by itself.

Some, but not all, religious organizations are power-groups. It’s no secret that the Catholic Church filled much of the power vacuum in the collapse of the Roman Empire. Its power has been fading ever since. In modern times the only remaining role some formerly powerful religious organizations play is as junior partners of much more powerful secular cabals, simply following orders as regards rallying the troops for big projects that another group planned.

Fabulous cults? Those do exist. They tend not to be particularly long-lived, or well-connected to power. The Church of Satan apparently had a succession problem after the death of founder Anton LeVey, but it looks like they’ve gotten their act back together under current leadership. It looks to me (as an outsider) to be a personality cult  dabbling in sado-masochism, sex-magick, Kabbalistic magic, worldliness as an ideal and virtue, and Ayn Rand.

By the way, the words “Cabal” and “Kabbala” aren’t related.

Summary:

  • Conspiracies exist.
  • The whole point of conspiracies is keeping secrets.
  • If people aren’t in on the secret, they make stuff up.
  • There’s no one cabal holding all the power. There are many different organizations holding some power.
  • The members bond around various innate or learned identities.
  • Some very powerful cabals don’t try all that hard to hide all their secret projects, because they have to get word out to influencers to carry out plans currently in operation. The only thing is, you won’t see them on the 6 o’clock news; you have to take initiative to find out what they’re up to, and also read between the lines, because whatever is publicly-disclosed is probably just a pretext for something else. But it’s not hard to figure out; just look at what they’re doing, not what they’re saying.
  • By the time conspiracy theories become widespread, the sun of the underlying cabal has long set and the conspiracy theories are legendary.

My bet is that the current top cabal will be destroyed in the aftermath of system crash. Too many of them will be killed while traveling during a crisis, or starve to death in their badly-prioritized billionaire bunkers after they run out of food, the surrounding economic devastation is worse than they expected, transportation breaks down, and they forgot to make plans for able-bodied helpers to rescue them and take care of them.

My best recommendation is not to obsess about other people’s conspiracies, but instead join one that’s working for you.

Monocultured kids

Crop monoculture is when you plant millions of acres all the same crop, preferably all one highly-inbred variety, or better yet, all the same clone. The purpose of doing so is to make crop production more predictable, to make it as much of an industrial factory process as possible. All the carrots are supposed to…

Thank you for your interest. This content is for Standard subscribers only.
Log In If you are not a member, you can subscribe here

Is your experience of medical care like mine?

I don’t know what your experience of medical-care is, but my guess is that the system isn’t set up to be highly individualized.

This is my experience of health-care:

  • The clinic assigned me a doctor, informing me that I didn’t have any choice in the matter when I asked if a specific doctor had any openings.
  • The doctor ignores anything I tell him. He is not interested in treating any conditions I bring up.
  • He prescribes screening procedures based on my age and gender, seemingly without any other consideration or factor.
  • I burn up time complying with procedures to screen for conditions that I am unlikely to have due to personal characteristics they didn’t ask about.
  • It’s not a conspiracy on the part of the doctor; the insurance company refused to pay for a cat-scan to investigate a condition I brought up. While I was doubled over and passing out from pain, they dubbed it “medically un-necessary”.

My guess is that medical care nationwide is being statistically-designed. Someone makes a case that certain procedures applied to anyone who fits some statistical profile will save more lives at a lower cost than actually treating people on an individual, case-by-case basis. An analogy would be to a large-scale livestock raising operation, where they PROACTIVELY feed ALL the livestock antibiotics instead of treating individual animals.

I would not count on the accuracy of their statistical assumptions. Aside from my lack of confidence in their models, I would also guess that there is a lot of moral hazard in the planning process.

A trend continues until it exhausts itself. You’re on your own. Take care of your own health as best you can.

Don’t let this tragedy happen to you: man committed suicide after discovering this

Heartbroken boyfriend found dead in woods just days after discovering his girlfriend ‘was pregnant with another man’s baby’

A heartbroken bar worker was found dead just days after he found out his girlfriend had cheated on him and was pregnant with another man’s baby, an inquest heard. Lee Webb’s body was found in Leckwith Woods in Cardiff on October 23 last year. About a week earlier, the 28-year-old had discovered his girlfriend was pregnant by another man, the inquest at Cardiff Coroner’s Court heard.

The two most common reasons people commit suicide are depression and becoming emotionally distraught. This was one of the second type. If they can simply hold out until they calm down, they cease being suicidal.

Takeaways:

  • No matter how much you love, you don’t have to become emotionally dependent on anyone. Emotional dependency isn’t love, and won’t help the relationship.
  • Don’t be naive or have unrealistic expectations of other people. Cheating is common.
  • Master your emotions. Normally, your emotions over-ride your higher reasoning, but if you train yourself, you can maintain a rational frame of mind when strong emotions hit.

Stay safe in your relationships. Don’t go into one before you’re inoculated against tragedy.

Advice for lonely men living lives of quiet desperation

Lonely, unhappy, despondant man contemplating his marriage

I don’t know if this advice will find its way back to the man who needs help resolving the problem that was posted here. Maybe someone who’s good at doing the footwork can help get the word back. I committed to an answer because other men can benefit too. Here’s the heart of the original letter as posted on American Conservative:

Because I write anonymously, I will lay my cards on the table. I am a church-going Republican who has been married for 18 years, with two children. I have never been unfaithful to my wife, and have a close relationship with my children, who get high marks in school, and by all indications are well-adjusted. My life looks attractive from the outside, but within, I am in a substantial amount of pain.

My marriage has emptied out. Our firstborn came shortly after our one-year anniversary. My wife, who holds a master’s degree and planned to teach, wanted to be a stay at home mother, because she wanted our children to have what she had not. Though this plan was not without obvious sacrifices, I readily agreed to it. We could get by on my salary alone, and I could see the benefits to our child, and future children. It made her happy … for a while. Our second child came, and soon my wife began to complain that she was unfulfilled at home. She began to show resentment towards me for my work. To make a long story short: we decided that she would take a job. Given the complications of the academic job market, I had to resign from my position to take one at another college that offered my wife a teaching gig as part of a package deal. We moved a thousand miles away.

The results have been unsatisfying, to put it charitably. Professional life has not been the cure for dissatisfaction that she had hoped it would be. She complains about her colleagues incessantly, and resents me for the pleasure I take in my teaching. I can do no right by her. Though I enjoy my students, and get on tolerably well with my co-workers, I grieve for the old friends I left behind in our previous residence. My colleagues are pleasant, but if I dropped dead tomorrow, nobody would miss me. People here keep to themselves. I am not permitted within my marriage to talk about my loneliness. I am not permitted to do anything but listen to my wife, angry at the world, blame me and others for her unhappiness. I have to force myself not to think for long about this, or I would derail myself with my anger. Self pity is a luxury I cannot afford.

Here is a man who is lonely despite being married with family. As a result, he’s unhappy. If I could talk to him directly, I’d let him do more talking while I did more listening, but I don’t know him personally and he might never find out I responded, so we’ll have to go with what we have.

Happiness isn’t a matter of any specific level of comfort, wealth, things to enjoy, or a relationship with any specific person. I know a man who has permanent injuries from a horrible car accident. He has nerve damage and his mobility is impaired. He’s in chronic pain. He’s unlikely to find a wife who is willing to share his lot in life. He does have a job, and lives with his brother who looks after him, at the cost of giving up his own independence. His brother makes the decisions that impact his life. He accepts his circumstances and makes the best of them. He’s not only cheerful, he enthusiastically greets customers where he works and tries to bring some sunshine into their lives. Truth be told, he’s happier than most of them.

On the other hand, there are seemingly a lot of celebrities who had everything: fame, fortune, good looks, career success, who ended up overdosing on the drugs they were trying to find happiness in, or got depressed and committed suicide.

Happiness is largely a function of expectations. The more prerequisites you think you need before you can be happy, the harder it becomes to achieve happiness.

If you think “I can’t be happy without a career”, then indeed you can’t.

But here’s the thing: it turns into a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition. In other words, if you believe that you can’t be happy without a career, then you’ll be dissatisfied. But having a career is no guarantee that you’ll be happy! So suppose that you believe that you need a career to be happy, you get one, but you’re still not happy. Then what? You add more preconditions to your happiness, of course! “I can’t be happy unless my colleagues treat me the way I want them to.” Instead of getting closer, fulfillment gets ever more elusive.

Generally speaking, happiness is largely a function of

  • Setting realistic goals for your life.
  • Enjoying the process of reaching those goals itself, instead of just achieving the goal. In other words, let’s say you wanted to lose a little excess weight. You should enjoy your healthy diet and exercise long before you achieve your goal. Chasing goals is not the key to happiness; you put off being happy until you achieve them, get frustrated when you don’t, and take them for granted after a while if you do achieve them.
  • Being grateful for your blessings. Whatever you are grateful for contributes to your happiness. Whatever you take for granted, doesn’t.

How to deal with your wife’s unhappiness

Now maybe you’d like to know how to fix your wife. You can’t. You might be able to help her, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but she’s not your problem. You are.

You too put unnecessary prerequisites on your own happiness. For starters, you apparently don’t know how to be happy if your wife isn’t. More to the point, you make your own happiness depend on something you have NO control over. That’s a guaranteed formula for unhappiness.

You can’t open up her head, push a button, and make her be happy and say nice things to you.

You only have control over your own feelings, and that only to the extent that you accept your own responsibility for them and take charge of them. You might need help doing that, and that’s what I would like to accomplish.

She complains about her colleagues incessantly

That’s not the problem. The problem is never the problem; the problem is your reaction to the problem.

Suppose that she comes home from work, grumpy and complaining. How do you react? Do you feel miserable because she’s miserable? THAT is the problem.

Sympathy means “I am happy when you are happy. I am sad when you are sad.” It can be useful in some circumstances to build rapport, but it’s dangerous, especially for a man, and especially when negative emotions are involved. Even women only get away with so much. I’ve seen a lot of women’s friendships blow out because eventually one or the other got tired of them both dragging each other down.

What works better than sympathy is compassion. “I want you to be happy. I don’t want you to be sad.” Compassion does not require sympathy, and in fact works better without it so that one doesn’t drag the other down.

The best version is

“I am happy. I want you to be happy too.”

When she comes home in a bad mood, instead of you reacting sympathetically to her bad mood, how about she reacts sympathetically to your cheerful, compassionate mood?

If your mood depends on her mood, then your willingness to listen to her complaints is probably minimal. You’d probably rather be doing something else, maybe with someone else. If instead you can maintain your own good mood regardless of hers, then you can listen and let her talk herself through it.

One thing it’s important for men to understand: when she complains, she’s not asking for advice. It makes women angry when men respond to complaints with advice. What she expects is for you to shut up and listen. Once she calms down and is in a better mood, you might give some good advice after you’ve listened long enough to understand what the problem really is. But first you have to do your homework. If a salesman starts launching into his sales pitch the moment you walk in the door, that’s called “sales pressure” and it makes most people feel uncomfortable. What works better is if he shuts up, lets you do most of the talking, listens, asks questions, and really tries to understand your needs before making any recommendations.

How to respond to criticism: as little as possible!

I can do no right by her.

Do you need her approval to be happy? You’re guaranteeing that you won’t get it. There’s somewhat of a paradox as regards approval: if you’re needy for it, other people assume you’re unworthy of it.

Suppose that she criticizes you. Really digs in. Here is a template for responding:

“OK. It’s too bad you think so.” Then shrug it off, and take the kids roller-skating. She can either come along, or sit in the dark and suffer.

You don’t need to try to change her mind about you or anything else. Nothing you say or do will help, and if you assume otherwise, it’s just going to set you up for frustration and despair.

I am not permitted within my marriage to talk about my loneliness.

Welcome to the club; neither can any other married man on the planet. Telling your wife your problems will only undermine her confidence in you. That’s why most men confide in a male friend if they have any. First of all, he’s not married to you so doesn’t take your problems as personally. Second, he’s less likely to get upset over them.

That said, you’ll start losing friends if you make drag them down complaining too much.

The problem with complaining at all is that it’s impotent. It doesn’t contribute to a solution, but instead keeps your attention focused on the problem.

If you have a problem, you only have two options for dealing with it:

✔ Come to terms with the situation
✔ Take action

They’re not mutually-exclusive. Try first coming to terms with the situation. Take a deep breath, sigh, and tell yourself “so it is”. Then, once you calm down and realize that life goes on, ask yourself “OK, what’s the next step?”

Sometimes you need help talking yourself through a problem that’s bigger than you can handle. Try taking it to God through prayer. That’s the suggestion offered by Miles Christi.

If you catch yourself starting to sound whiny, or you’re going in circles over and over about the problem and getting stuck there, remind yourself that’s not helping. Accept the situation and move on.

Now one of your stated problems is that you don’t have friends you can confide in, so let’s address that.

How to have friends

Your lack of friends is part of a bigger problem related to your marriage and family: you can’t use relationships to fill an emptiness. “I need you to make me whole”. It doesn’t work.

Relationships are made out of integral wholes, not broken pieces hoping that other broken pieces will fix them.

Think of it this way: how do you feel when a beggar in a park makes eye contact with you, and starts to approach you? Do you feel eager for the interaction, or do you roll your eyes and think “oh NO!” If he thinks you look like an easy target, he’s probably quite eager for the interaction. Notice that there’s an asymmetry to the situation?

The beggar is needy. He has a problem and would like to transfer some of it to you. He has nothing to offer in exchange, and it’s a zero-sum game: he only benefits to the extent you incur a net loss.

Functional relationships are based on transactions and synergy. Each party to the transaction benefits from the exchange. If you buy bread from the baker, it’s because you want the bread more than you want the money you spent to buy it. The baker wants the money more than the bread. You’re both happier than you were before the exchange.

It might be strange and maybe even taboo to think of it that way, because you’ve probably been trained to be altruistic and sacrificial, but personal relationships are the same way. You have to take care of your own needs, or you have nothing to offer anyone else, at least, not once your time and resources are used up. There is a sneaky paradox that the same people who encourage you to be altruistic and sacrificial are not themselves altruistic or sacrificial; they’re only trying to win points with third parties by shaming benefits out of you at your cost. They don’t care about you. I do, so I’m giving you better advice. Each party to a relationship, whether of marriage, friendship, or parent-child relationship, has to benefit some way from the deal. Even parents benefit from the otherwise thankless job of raising children, by way of genetic continuity. If there’s no mutual benefit, there’s no potential for a functional relationship. So instead of telling you to give to others, I’m telling you to have something to give in the first place, so that you can receive as well.

What do you have to offer potential friends?

Nobody is going to want to be your friend because you’re nice, or because you’re a Catholic faithful to the sacraments, or conservative, or for any other attribute you think of yourself as. Nobody is going to like you because of what you think you “are”.

Instead of complaining about lack of friends, ask yourself what you can do to give someone else a compelling reason to want to be your friend.

How do you or would you contribute to his happiness?

It’s like opening a shop, and then complaining about lack of customers. It’s not about you needing money; it’s about you making a compelling offer for something that other people want. That’s why it helps to not be needy yourself before going into a relationship, so that you can focus on thinking about what will make other people happy and fulfill their desires.

Don’t panic if you don’t have a ready answer. If other people aren’t saying nice things to you and about you, you might falsely conclude that there’s something wrong with you. The only thing wrong is the unrealistic expectation. You do have a gift to give the world. You might need to work on it, but that’s true of everyone. You come into the world with nothing to offer. Your parents loved you and took care of you only because of their instincts towards genetic continuity. Thereafter it was up to you to create value and offer it to the world.

Even whatever innate genetic blessings you were born with aren’t necessarily anyone else’s blessings except to the extent that you find ways to make them so. Did you graduate at the head of your class? Beat all your friends at chess? Handsome devil? Athletic? Good for you! Nobody cares. A more likely response is jealousy. Beware. You’d think that women would like having a prize bull to bring home, but in this narcissistic age even women more often react with jealousy than interest. She wants attention too, and the prize bull is distracting it away from her. The only way that you can turn your blessings into someone else’s blessings is by channeling them into benefits for others.

Imagine a school talent show. One kid brings his violin and plays a difficult showpiece by Paganini. Nobody cares. Nobody’s impressed. Most of them don’t have a passion for that kind of music, and they resent what they interpret as “showing off”. It doesn’t please them, it makes them angry and jealous. The kid is going to get beat up behind the school one day. If it were a more popular style of music, they’d be more forgiving, because they’d enjoy the music. If he told jokes and they laughed, better still.

This explains the seeming mystery as to why some seeming losers are popular, and some winners unpopular. Hint: the loser is supplying benefits you’re probably unaware of, maybe some illicit ones. Don’t get jealous, and don’t get your ego or your own self-esteem wrapped up in it; instead figure out what your gift to others is, or could be, and how to present it to them in a way that makes them happier.

Also beware of being nice to people and doing them favors unsolicited. That might seem like a way of offering someone a benefit, but it comes at the risk of being seen as low-status. Only make compelling offers that you have reason to believe the other person will appreciate. Use your empathy.

People don’t care who you “are”. They’ll forget what you do. They’ll remember how you make them feel.

I have reconciled myself to the fact that loneliness is my fate in this parish.

You might very well have trouble fitting in. A lot of people have similar complaints nowadays. It’s the result of widespread social breakdown. Back around the year 1900, people typically had around thirty or so friends of the caliper that nowadays at best they might have one or two. It’s fairly common for men, and white men in particular if that happens to apply to you, not to have any friends at all.

People used to sit on their porches on hot summer evenings after work, drinking lemonade, and when their neighbors walked past, they’d stop for a visit. People don’t do things like that anymore.

In some cultures, Friday night after work is time to go to a dance hall to meet friends and strangers. Especially young and unmarried people, but even married people show up to dance with their spouses. Mainstream Americans don’t do that anymore.

In Asia, people tend to do things in groups, like Tai Chi in the parks. Sometimes the participants get to know each other individually, but even if not, they enjoy the group spirit. Americans have no cultural equivalent; all that died out in several cultural shifts after the world wars and during the Vietnam War. We shifted into a self-oriented consumer culture, where people seek self-fulfillment through passive consumption of consumer entertainment and happiness pills. To explain exactly what went wrong is beyond the scope of this article; it’s not something we can fix by ourselves so let’s fix what’s within our own personal control.

What I suggest is muddling through the best you can, starting with what you have, and then taking the next step.

Yes, I am a theological conservative in a relatively liberal church, but I’m not interested in doctrinal combat, and I can’t say with confidence that the vibe in this parish would be much different if it were more conservative.

Never mind the ideology; that’s superficial. Take a closer look at the demographics, which is actually the bigger issue and possibly the basis of differences in ideology. Do you have peers? Other men you can relate easily to because they’re enough like you? Other dads of other families in the congregation? Or is your parish full of singles, DINKs, and elderly widows/widowers?

You can fit in even if you’re odd-man-out, but it gets harder, and right now you need easier. You might very well need to look elsewhere.

A lot of people I know complain that all their friends are virtual friends over the internet. The problem is finding peers. It’s probably not that there aren’t any prospects at all where you live, it’s that the density is low, and circumstances suboptimal for finding them.

That means you have to proactively go looking for peers and take the initiative to make friends. It won’t happen spontaneously.

I suggest joining a men’s group or forum online, then escalating to chat sessions and phone calls, then if at all possible, face-time. What doesn’t work very well is social media: most of the interactions are very superficial, and consist of non-stops bids for attention and validation. You need to get beyond that point.

The ultimate goal is shoulder-to-shoulder time (imagine a group of Amish men working in an old-fashioned barn-raising). More about that another time.

How to avoid depression

First stabilize your own mood so you’re an integral whole instead of a broken part looking for others to complete him. Here are some quick fixes:

  • Daily exercise. No time but plenty of excuses? Try yoga; you can do it in your own home in an area the size of a yoga mat, just before bed. You can get instruction online or through videos. Look for programs either specifically for men, or at least marketed to men; they’ll have a higher ratio of strength-building exercises to balance and stretches, not that those aren’t useful in their own right.
  • Time outdoors twice a day for at least 10 minutes each. If nothing else take a short, brisk walk.
  • Regular time spent in a natural environment. A park if nothing else.
  • Play with your kids. Start a habit of family game night. Wrassle with your boys or shoot some hoops with them. Take your daughters out for lunch or to a movie. Date night with dad. Not once; make these events regular habits.
  • Find reasons to call up old friends. Birthdays. Holidays.
  • Be mindful of the blessings you already have. What you are grateful for contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t.

Self-esteem

You also need to work on your self-esteem. Unfortunately, that’s a loaded term, because many psychologists use it to mean “feeling good about yourself”. Actually, it works better if you just feel good, without needing to have a high opinion of yourself (that’s arrogance, or maybe psychological narcissism, which we’re having an epidemic of at the moment).

What you want to be is what some people call “comfortable in your own skin”. You accept yourself the way you are, even as you have a plan for self-improvement. You don’t think of yourself as being “broken” and needing to be fixed, you think of yourself as being OK the way you are, on a personal path of progress that sometimes includes some experiences of learning the hard way. You accept other people the way they are. You have come to terms with your circumstances, even as you have a plan for making things more to your own liking.

I hope that this article helps you find your way to a happier, more fulfilling life. If you have ideas for improving it, have needs that I haven’t addressed, or want to give me feedback regarding what resonated, please let me know in the comments. Let’s start a conversation to give each other feedback and share ideas.

Resources:

Here’s a book written by fellow married Catholic man Michael Sebastian

Tom Brady kissed his son. Facebook loses its mind.

Tom Brady

Kiss Between Tom Brady, 11-Year-Old Son Raises Questions About Parent-Child Affection

Quick synopsis if you’re in a hurry: On video, Tom Brady suggested his son owed him a kiss for a favor regarding a fantasy-football activity, the son gave him a quick peck right on the lips, Brady implied it wasn’t enough, and the son gave him a longer one. Some people who saw the video got upset by this. Other people didn’t.

This hit a little bit of a raw nerve with me, because I’ve witnessed cases where it has gotten out of hand—like vegetarian or homeschooling families getting CPS called on them.  I’ve been informed by feminists that “it’s rape” and “an act of violence” if I put my arm around my daughter to comfort her when she’s distraught. Some women tend to view any affection initiated by men or even boys as being unwanted sexual contact, regardless of the nature, or whether the recipient thinks so.

Contrary to the expressed opinions of some women, men have distinct “warm-fuzzy” feelings, triggered by the hormone oxytocin, just like women do. These are distinct from “hot-and-bothered” feelings some women imagine when they see a man being affectionate with children. When you see a man playing with a puppy or a kitten, he’s not thinking about how to have sex with it.

The overwhelming majority of us also have built-in brakes on our sexual impulses, like having protective, rather than sexual, feelings for pre-pubescent children. Most alpha males seem to have a built-in instinct to react aggressively to sexual exploitation of children. And most men have impulse control commensurate with our stronger sexual drives, sufficient to overcome temptations we don’t have built-in resistance to most of the time.

Some men lack impulse control, but so do some women. Something about glass houses and throwing stones.

There’s also a meme going around feminist circles that you should “respect” other people’s bad moods and not try to help them out of them, as if neurotic and irritable personalities were a good thing.

I do not think I need their permission to raise my kids according to my own good judgment regarding what’s best for them.

Is it OK for a man to kiss his son on the lips, or not? (same rule for daughters? or different?)

If the answer is “no”, that’s what psychologists call a “taboo”. The word originates among the Polynesians, but similar concepts occur in other cultures, such as “haram” in Muslim cultures. English borrowed the Polynesian word because it didn’t already have a word for the concept of something that is socially unacceptable even without a specifically communicated rule prohibiting it. In fact, it might even be a taboo to so much as talk about the taboo!

Taboos are unconscious judgments. People don’t consciously analyze whether we need any particular taboo, or what its functional purpose, if any, is. Some of them have purposes, like taboos on asking people how much money they make, or asking women how much they weigh; you’re trying to save someone’s feelings. Many taboos have no purpose than anyone can credibly explain. For example, food taboos are common in various cultures, and some of them derive from completely made-up cultural fables, like a character in the story ate something, and something bad but completely unrealistic happened to them. Sometimes the taboos last longer than the story, so that many cultures have taboos that they can’t explain why they exist, because there’s no objective evidence they can point to that it causes any problem.

That brings us to the next question:

What is the basis for deciding whether a given action is taboo or not?

Complete this sentence, and then show me the data: Tom Brady shouldn’t kiss his son on the lips because it will definitely cause this specific problem: _____.

Taboos are not necessarily rational, because they’re not the end result of rational processes. To make a long story short, a few are innate, most of them are learned, and a few such as regulating affection tend to be a bit of both.

When they’re learned, they’re learned unconsciously. It’s not your mom telling you were naughty to ask a woman her weight or her age, it’s the horror you sense in her mood when she tells you. You become upset that she got upset over what you innocently said before knowing any better, and then you start reacting the same way she does. It’s a little more complicated than that, because the whole process of sensitizing you to her reactions doesn’t happen all at once, but that’s the process.

Learned taboos are spawned when someone gets upset. They spread virally when other people get upset that someone got upset.

Lip contact is potentially taboo because aside from the possibility of cleanliness taboos (germs!), they are very sensitive. Sensitive parts of our body are more likely to be associated with taboos.

For whatever reason, Tom Brady didn’t learn a taboo against kissing his son on the lips.

It might have to do with being a football player. Masculine men tend to be more affectionate with children, including sons, than less masculine men, contrary to a common assumption. First of all, he probably has strong biological impulses generally, including affectionate ones, due to high hormone levels, second, he probably doesn’t react much to other people’s moods and feelings so he’s less prone to internalizing other people’s taboos , and third, he is probably very secure in his own masculinity and sexuality.

The boy is 11. For most dads, the taboo against kissing him would tend to kick in at puberty, when he starts displaying secondary sexual characteristics like a deeper voice and facial hair. It’s normal for fathers to cuddle and kiss their baby sons, and then get progressively less affectionate as their sons develop more masculine characteristics. I do know some men who still kiss their adult sons. I don’t, but I can’t think of any rational objections. I think it’s normal and natural for human parents to form lifelong bonds with their offspring, and some amount of affection tends to strengthen those bonds.

The next question:

Who gets to decide what’s taboo?

I’ll leave that there. If they’re not harming their kids, I don’t feel the need to police other people’s parenting practices, especially not on subjective criteria.

One important aside comment:

Some taboos have political significance, or are politically-motivated, regardless of merits. Outrage mafias are spawning more and more political taboos at an accelerating rate.

Last question, and maybe the most important not because it’s a big deal, but because it was probably triggered by something that IS a big deal:

Was it wrong to give the boy the impression that the kiss was expected in exchange for favors?

Instead of criticizing Brady, what would make more sense to me would be to address his likely motives for doing so:

  • fear of being taken for granted.
  • fear of not being loved by his kids.

As far as I can tell, most fathers seem to have the same fears. Not without good reason too.

Imagine a rich man who hires nannies to raise his kids, and dispatches them off to boarding school once they’re old enough. That by the way is the exact pattern of most of the very rich. It’s not good for the kids, but in all fairness, the fathers are under pressure to produce wealth, some of it on their own account, and some on other people’s. Imagine for example having the responsibility to manage a multi-billion-dollar transnational corporation. It would probably work better if management responsibilities were allocated in a less hierarchical way, so that super-human expectations aren’t made of any one man, but we’re only starting to figure out how to do that.

Those kids don’t bond to their father. If they bond to anyone, it’s their nannies, but even that gets thwarted with various behaviors of jealous parents. It’s a common problem among the very rich, and causes them to grow up with emotional problems.

It’s not a conscious transaction. The kids don’t think, “well, dear old dad foot the bill for the nannies and room and board. He paid for college. So I guess I owe the old boy love and loyalty.” Uh-uh. Not going to happen. “Love” is an unconsciously-learned response.

Love, by the way, is not an emotion. It’s a complex of other emotions, like being happy when someone is in your presence, or sad when they’re away, or worried about losing them. Your kids won’t be sad when you’re gone if they were never made happy by your presence. Footing the bill for their lunch is too abstract to trigger that feeling.

Fathers are still expected to be breadwinners, but nothing about breadwinning per-se will endear you to your kids. The only reimbursement is genetic continuity; there’s no emotional pay-back.

Instead of granting a favor involving something he does on his own, it works better if you share an activity you both enjoy. Like tossing a football out in the yard together, or wrassling with him, teaching him a skill he wants to acquire, or anything else you might do together that would make him associate his own happiness to your existence in his life. Same applies as regards father-daughter activities.

As a dad, you have to provide for your offsprings’ material needs. You’re under social pressure and legal obligation to do that; any way about it, it’s going to get taken for granted, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it will contribute to your own happiness and satisfaction with life if you participate directly their happiness and satisfaction with life. You might run into obstacles from other people when you try to do just that, because they want you to optimize economic production, not your own happiness. Resist. You’re welcome.

Taking care of someone else’s material needs won’t make them love you, as unfair as that is. It’s not that the beneficiary is being ungrateful; it’s that love happens through unconscious processes that your behind-the-scenes efforts won’t trigger.

Supplying someone else with perks above and beyond their needs won’t make them love you either. Don’t give kids “stuff’; give them your attention.

Taking care of someone else’s emotional needs is what makes them love you. That’s just the way it is.

Here are some feelings that are natural for your offspring to associate specifically to you: feeling protected by you because you were mindful of their safety and talked to them about it. Having fun with you because you spent time playing with them.

8. In trouble

zr was prone to disappearing without prior approval. Heigr made an excellent accomplice. Lina woke up to find herself alone. Oddly, the cabin was up in the air, and she never felt it move. First she looked around outside. It was still too dark to make out much detail, but the new morning was gathering…

Thank you for your interest. This content is for Standard subscribers only.
Log In If you are not a member, you can subscribe here

Here is the memorandum numerous high-ranking politicians & media personalities don’t want you to see

Politics is the problem, not the solution. I’m just providing information. This will be easier for you to download from here because there’s less traffic than on the House site.

The only extraordinary thing here is that government agencies, a political party, and the establishment media got caught in a politically-motivated scheme, and exposed by a president and a few key allies who wouldn’t back down after numerous threats and an attempted cover-up. Nor is the matter over, since the schemers still have the means in their hands to stage a distraction if not an outright coup. This isn’t over; the war has barely begun.

Here is the unredacted memorandum on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, fresh from docs.house.gov:

HMTG-115-IG00-20180129-SD001

Share it widely.

Who is raising your kids?

ho spends more time with your kids: you, or daycare workers and teachers? What about you versus the television or computer? American elementary school students spend about 6 1/2 to just over 7 hours in school each day. Some of them stay after school for after-school programs, some come home to an empty house, and…

Thank you for your interest. This content is for Standard subscribers only.
Log In If you are not a member, you can subscribe here

Family history of heart disease or cancer? Try these lifestyle changes.

The following article is for information only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult with your doctor regarding any concerns you may have regarding heart disease.

Mark is a smart, good-looking guy, so I don’t think his genetics are all that bad overall. He’s just a very open, honest guy willing to talk about problems that other men have too. If he has a family history of heart disease, then the problem might very well have a genetic component. Or for that matter, it might be a family history of certain lifestyle habits. He’s wise to accept that he might have genetic risk factors, and to be willing to avoid indulgences.

Mark often qualifies his observations with “n = 1”, meaning that it’s a single data point consisting of his own experiences; he’s not claiming that every man will have the same experience. I agree. Your mileage may vary as regards any information in this article, though it is broadly applicable and should be given due consideration.

Regardless of genetics, inflammation is one of the primary causes of heart disease. Inflammation damages tissues. Apparently your body uses cholesterol to patch up weakened arterial walls. The cholesterol was actually a symptom, not a cause, contrary to earlier beliefs about heart disease which caused a great deal of bad advice among my generation. People were avoiding negligible amounts of cholesterol in their diets while ingesting large amounts of trans fats that were advertised as “cholesterol-free.”

Even if the susceptibility to heart disease is genetic, it might very well be a case of one body’s defenses against inflammation not being as strong as someone else’s who is highly resistant to heart-disease. So, reduce the inflammation.

Inflammation also increases risk of cancer. Fight inflammation, and you reduce your risk of both diseases.

First lifestyle change: Low inflammation diet

Here is Harvard Medical School’s list of foods that cause inflammation (verbatim from their website; don’t blame me):

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard
I’ve already caused an uproar on Twitter for listing red meat, even though it’s Harvard Medical School listing it, not me personally, because there’s a meme going around that it’s heart-healthy because it’s “paleo”, and because many people have strong emotional associations to eating red meat.

There’s another meme going around that weak, effeminate men get that way from eating soy. I’ve observed that crowd at close range; at the risk of piling more generalities on, most of them eat about the same as the rest of you (in fact, “soy-boys” tend to have neurotic, conformist personalities that get obsessed easily, like believing that all soy is GMO (it’s not) or that they’re allergic to it (rare); their female counterparts are the type who report vegetarian parents to Child Protective Services); their hormonal problem is primarily genetic, and even to the extent that it’s exacerbated by endocrine disruptors, those are mostly byproducts of technology. That’s a story I cover elsewhere.

This is about helping men with possible genetic susceptibility to heart disease live longer. It’s not about anyone else’s emotions, conditioned beliefs, or self-image.

“Paleo”. Consider replacing some of the red meat with other sources of protein, & sugary fruits like grapes with blueberries

Not everything that’s “natural” is optimal (strychnine is natural and organic!). Not everything that’s optimal is natural. Humans have probably been eating red meat longer than they have fish (primates are usually lousy swimmers by nature, and terrified of water), but fish-eaters like the Japanese and Icelanders tend to live longer than red meat eaters. Not eating red meat probably is unnatural for humans. Regardless, it’s a fact that pescatarians and vegans average more longevity than red-meat-eaters.

There’s a reason, and it’s a strange and counter-intuitive one. Due to a mutation that happened to our ancestors around 5 million years ago, we no longer produce a chemical called Neu5Gc. It triggers our immune systems as foreign. Other mammals still produce it, so mammalian meat is at least somewhat inflammatory to us.

Processed meats are particularly bad because of their preservatives.

 

Heart-attack food. Red meat, sugary glaze, and deep-fried carbs.

In the spirit of Mark’s n = 1, I should mention that my buddy Tom gorges on red meat. He hunts deer and other game, and that’s his and his family’s prime source of protein. His dad who is also a hunter is quite robust for his age. There might be a genetic trait that goes the other way, giving that family high tolerances for red meat. Or maybe its habits like eating much less processed food than average Americans do that compensate. I do know that Tom is happy to get some of his protein from other sources, such as corn and beans which complement each other’s imbalanced protein. He enjoys meat, red or otherwise, but doesn’t have neurotic emotional reactions to the matter (or anything else).

It’s not necessary to go vegan. But what if you want to? Some of the first low-inflammation diets that were tried (which do in fact work) were vegan. I don’t think there’s anything magical about not eating any foods derived from animals as regards avoiding inflammation; more likely they loaded the diets up with vegetables knowing they were low-inflammation or even anti-inflammatory. It’s pretty easy to design heart-attack food that’s vegan! If you want to go vegan, you’ll avoid a few high-inflammation foods but you still need to avoid foods like deep-fried potatoes, sugary drinks, and too much refined carbohydrate.

Sugar-coated poison pills. Breakfasts seem prone to excessive carbs. Eat a breakfast more like lunch & dinner, or skip it entirely.

As far as carbohydrates go, the really bad one is sugar, specifically either fructose or sucrose. One of the worst ways to ingest sugar is in solution in a sugary drink, like a soda. Even particularly sweet fruit juices, like orange juice, apple juice, and grape juice are a bad idea. “Diet” soft-drinks have their own problems, including encouraging the wrong species of gut bacteria. Ironically this is why “diet” sodas can make you fat despite having no calories or negligible calories. Drink unsweetened green tea or herbal teas instead. Heating the water to brew the tea kills parasites that might be lurking in your water.

Starches are much less inflammatory than sugars. The reason it matters whether they are refined or not is because fiber slows down digestion, and therefor the degree to which blood sugar levels spike.

More of these, please

Generally it’s a good idea to get plenty of fiber. That’s one reason that a low-inflammation diet should have a high ratio of vegetables and preferably low-sugar fruits like blueberries. Another reason is because many fruits and vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants.

Notice that some fats are listed as inflammatory. The particularly bad ones are trans-fats, which are specifically fats that have been damaged through high heat, and also rancid fats, which have been oxidized. Trans fats used to be in most processed foods, but are getting less common and are regulated in some jurisdictions. They are typically made from liquid vegetable oils artificially turned into solid fats by hydroginating them. Ironically, part of the reason for doing that was to avoid the propensity for some polyunsaturated vegetable oils from going rancid, and rancidity is a health-hazard too.

The relatively healthier fats include cold-water fish oil, and stable vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil. Contrary to a popular meme, canola oil isn’t GMO; it was naturally bred. The stuff I buy is cold-pressed because I don’t want hexane in my diet. Olive oil is fairly stable at room temperature, but not at high heat; use it for salad dressing, not deep frying. Light sauteeing is OK. Generally high-heat frying and deep frying are not good ideas anyway. If you must indulge in deep-fried foods, preferably on rare occasions, try rice bran oil and keep the temperature down. Better yet is air-frying (coating food in oil, then frying it in a convection oven or dedicated air-fryer); it uses less fat so there is no temptation to re-use cooking oil after exposing it to heat.

Second lifestyle change: intermittent fasting

Scientists have long realized that caloric restriction prolongs the lifespans of lab rodents. It works on humans too. But it’s only necessary to fast intermittently. Intermittent fasting restores insulin effectiveness; that’s probably the part that reduces susceptibility to heart disease.  It also probably triggers some housekeeping operations in the body that scavenge damaged—and therefor potentially pre-cancerous—cells.

More lifestyle changes

Young man meditatingStress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has a useful purpose; the problem is when you get stuck in constant “fight or flight” mode. Humans are prone to chronic stress because of our ability to run simulations of the future. It’s less of a problem for other species because their ability to anticipate future problems is much less than ours; instead they live in the moment.

  • Unwind and unplug at least an hour before bedtime, so that your mind is calm.
  • Get enough good-quality sleep.
  • Train your attention and your thought-stream so that you don’t pointlessly worry about things.
  • Take action, then stop worrying.
  • Face-time with friends and family, doing things you enjoy doing. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just spending time with loved ones will improve your enjoyment of living.
  • Daily time outdoors.
  • Daily exercise.

Here’s a question one of Nassim Taleb’s buddies posted, with different but comparable images:
The assumption is that all other factors are comparable. One of these builds impressive muscles, but at the cost of inflammation and cortisol production. Nassim Taleb does weightlifting, which is probably why his buddy sent him the comparison.

I do yoga, but I can’t do Vrschikasana (“scorpion pose” that the man on the right is doing). Obviously requires not only a lot of strength and balance, but control over a lot of different muscles at the same time. What I have been able to accomplish is regaining a lot of muscle tone and range of motion. I also do much more walking than average Americans. If you don’t get any other exercise in, arrange your lifestyle so that you get plenty of walking in, instead of driving everywhere and sitting down all the time.

Hatha yoga is safer than free weights overall (no risk of dropping weights on your throat while bench-pressing; NB sad story on other end of link), but there are some dangerous poses (asanas). The important thing with any type of exercise is to know your limits and find a comfortable challenge, not too hard, not too easy.

Yoga has a reputation for being something that rich old ladies do (eg what Hillary Clinton was talking about on all that email she deleted). That’s because it’s very adaptable to different needs. Men can simply change the ratio of strength-building poses to flexibility and balance-building poses, though flexibility and balance are good too. There are a number of yoga programs specifically for men.

DDP yoga is not quite classic yoga, but in any case here is a video showing Arthur Boorman’s impressive recovery of strength and range-of-motion:

Johnny Grube (wildmantraining.com) uses body-weight and isometric exercise in his own training. The benefits include lower inflammation, no need for special equipment or gym fees, and flexibility regarding where and when you work out. He likes to work out outdoors whenever possible.

Further reading:

Resources:

or

Expecting a bear market? Here’s how to place a bet without unlimited liability

Shorting a security (like a stock) is when you borrow some to sell. Like if you thought the price of XYZ stock was likely to go down, you could borrow 500 shares of XYZ stock, and sell it. If the price goes down, you buy it back at a lower price, and pocket the difference….

Thank you for your interest. This content is for Standard subscribers only.
Log In If you are not a member, you can subscribe here

Capitalists will achieve communism before communists do.

Row of green rental bikes

Just to be clear, “capitalism” is not synonymous with “free markets”, much less “honest money”. It’s always been a nebulously-defined concept. It seems to have started out as an ideal of banks as aggregators and guardians of capital. The banks were supposed to aggregate little bits of capital from many clients, and lend it only to those with the best ideas for putting it to productive use. What happened instead is that the banks became creators of credit on-demand. The ability to literally print money on demand and bail out cronies created moral hazard. The banks ended up loaning it out to cronies to create networks of oligopolies and interlocking directorates, and also loaning it to the government to squander on wars, welfare, and boondoggles, the unproductive use of the money being a short-term advantage because it guarantees repeat business.

I’m opposed to the latter regardless of what you call it. Interestingly enough, it does have an actual historical tie to communism as we’ll get to shortly. You can read more about it in the book The Creature from Jekyll Island, regarding the origins of the Federal Reserve bank.

I’ve found a pilot project for radical changes the capitalists have in mind for our economy. There are numerous bicycles parked around this city, mostly lime-green but they also come in yellow and orange. If you have a specific app on your phone, you can rent them out for $1/hour by scanning the code on the bike.

I don’t think anybody’s making any money on these. My guess is that this venture is subsidized by someone with deep pockets—probably the city government, but only after being put up to it by someone much higher up the power hierarchy. The purpose of the project is to train us to get used to the idea of renting equipment as we need it, for only as long as we need it, rather than buying it and letting it sit unused most of the time.

Smart phones can be used to pay for goods, and they can be used to summon self-driving cabs to pick us up, drop us off, and drive off to the next customer. So you won’t need a bike, or a car.

This article was posted on the World Economic Forum. I strongly suggest reading it, to understand an economic trend that is being encouraged by the world’s central economic planners:

Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better

The system described should remind you of communism. The real points of communism, that the communists didn’t openly disclose to their dupes, were that

  • Prole’s don’t own property.
  • The prole’s ARE property.
  • They don’t get to decide what their own standard of living is; someone else makes that decision for them.
  • You can’t opt out. There are no alternatives anywhere on the planet. It’s a global system, ostensibly to prevent war, but more likely to prevent challenges to the power structure.

These are still the goals, communists just don’t call the plan “communism” anymore. This is the real reason communism was always bankrolled by big investment bankers and money-center bankers.

It’s a historical fact that the Bolsheviks were financed by big banks, and even Marx himself had a few friends in high places. In politics, everything is always a pretext for something else.
In our city we don’t pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there.
This one was parked in front of a swamp where there is little pedestrian traffic. Might be a while before anyone rents it.

I’m skeptical of the free rent or for that matter, free anything else. If money is still flowing, then my guess is she still pays rent. All her expenses will be automatically deducted directly from her account. Regardless, the implication is that she doesn’t own her own home. It’s been “digitized” in a blockchain. That’s why she can’t decide whether or not to allow her living room to be used for business meetings. Ownership means that you get to make choices about your own property. If you own nothing, you don’t get to make choices.

This is very much the outcome that communists had in mind as regards abolition of property.

Once in awhile, I will choose to cook for myself. It is easy – the necessary kitchen equipment is delivered at my door within minutes. Since transport became free, we stopped having all those things stuffed into our home. Why keep a pasta-maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards? We can just order them when we need them.

This also made the breakthrough of the circular economy easier. When products are turned into services, no one has an interest in things with a short life span. Everything is designed for durability, repairability and recyclability. The materials are flowing more quickly in our economy and can be transformed to new products pretty easily.

This part really is a benefit: there are no longer incentives in place for planned obsolescence, and resources don’t sit unused most of the time; they’re moving from user to user.

Choices: most of them are green but they come in orange and yellow too.

Unfortunately, tho, there’s a cost: since you don’t own them, you have no control over them. Your major appliances at least are spying on you. Of course, that has already started, even though you still nominally own your television, computer, and refrigerator. But already, the vendors of those devices are starting to insist that you really just own permission to use them. That’s because they’re insisting on controlling the appliances, or more precisely, the data about you and your habits that the appliances are collecting.

The title of the WEForum article even admits that you won’t have any privacy. It’s not a secret because they want you to get habituated to the idea like a frog to water slowly coming to a boil. You’re already getting used to the idea insofar as you’re probably aware that you’re constantly being spied on already. As long as it’s unobtrusive, you won’t think about it much and eventually will give up resisting if you haven’t already.

Someday, instead of paying a flat fee for permission to use appliances, you’ll be paying rent in perpetuity. The point is to move from an ownership model to a rental model.

An alternative model that’s already in place is when you rent out things you own so that other people can use them too, the “shared economy“. My guess though is that the current implementation of the shared economy is just a stepping-stone and will be replaced wholesale; prole’s will be discouraged from owning anything.

Shopping? I can’t really remember what that is. For most of us, it has been turned into choosing things to use. Sometimes I find this fun, and sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me. It knows my taste better than I do by now.
So far this is the first one I’ve seen parked in a spot that suggests it’s actually been rented.

Prole’s will be encouraged to turn their choices over to an AI. They might not even have any other option or in other words, any choice. You just tell the AI what you need, and it will deliver what it decides you are allowed to have. If you’re lucky, maybe you get to rate its choice so it can do better next time.

She has claimed that she gets a lot of benefits like rent and transport for free. I already stated that my guess is that she pays for them, directly or indirectly (delivery might be included with the cost of the item), through automated deductions from her account. Another guess would be that the AI budgets for her, since she’s not consciously making choices for herself; since the money is deducted automatically from her account she probably loses track of how much money she’s spending. So the AI takes over. It decides what she can afford, and that probably has more to do with the item that shows up at her door than her own tastes, contrary to her unrealistic expectations.

The AI can manipulate her “choices” by controlling what information is shoved in front of her face when she turns on a computing device. This isn’t theoretical; manipulation of choices is already happening. This might be the plan to prevent her from over-consuming relative to her productive capacity. “From each according to her ability, to each according to her needs!” The AI will decide what your needs are.

If they can get the system to work as I suspect it’s intended, they might make her spending account invisible to her, so that from her point of view, it seems as if everything really is “free”, and that “money” has been abolished; the book-keeping will be hidden from view just like the real decision-making processes in our so-called “democracy”. At that point, the system will achieve the appearance of Star-Trek level Communism. My guess is that it will be just as big a nightmare as the original version of communism.

One more side-effect, probably the most sinister of all:

Making conscious choices is one of the most advanced functions of the human brain. It entails running simulations of the future in order to weigh as-yet unseen costs and benefits. To give that function up to a machine is to give up your humanity, and devolve into domesticated livestock.

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.
―Frank Herbert, Orange Catholic Bible, Dune

When AI and robots took over so much of our work, we suddenly had time to eat well, sleep well and spend time with other people. The concept of rush hour makes no sense anymore, since the work that we do can be done at any time. I don’t really know if I would call it work anymore. It is more like thinking-time, creation-time and development-time.

What do you suppose happens to people who aren’t smart enough or creative enough to think, create, and develop? Collecting UBI and banished to virtual reality? I wouldn’t count on a happy ending.

Earning income in the post-wage economy

Question: “What can I do to help the poor?” Ayn Rand: “Don’t become one of them.” If the current estimates of 50-75% unemployment rates turn out to be accurate, then your kids will need to outperform 50-75% of their peers. That means as regards marketable skills; as I write this, there are already plenty of…

Thank you for your interest. This content is for Standard subscribers only.
Log In If you are not a member, you can subscribe here

7. Ancient rites

omething stirred inside of Lina. She felt as if she was experiencing something from an ancient memory, or a dream. Her ancestors had gathered around the fire, as they did every night, seeking warmth, hot food, and fellowship. It would have last occurred around 800 generations ago; her ancestors had been civilized since then. Lina…

Thank you for your interest. This content is for Standard subscribers only.
Log In If you are not a member, you can subscribe here

Poverty & homelessness exploding in USA. Here’s the surprising thing you can do to help!

This is along the Santa Ana river trail in southern California. This is a recently uploaded video; you can find a similar one that was posted last year along the same trail. The situation is getting worse:

The largest number of homeless in the country is in Los Angeles, where the next video was recorded:

Notice the huge numbers of apparently un-used buildings. Those were built for businesses that no longer exist. It’s impossible for their owners to attract new tenants to rent them, because it would be impossible for the tenants to attract paying customers.

The worst homelessness problem relative to the population of a US city is reputedly in Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t find any video clips that didn’t have distracting commentary on them, but I can imagine the situation, having stumbled onto shattered streets with grass even shrubs sprouting in the gaps from long-term neglect, looking very much like in a 3rd world country.

Here’s a relatively modest camp in Tacoma, WA (“City of Destiny”, “All-America City”):

Seattle does not have any particularly gigantic camps, but they start at the urban core and spread for many miles. The chilly, damp winters discourage people from trying to live out in the open like they do in southern California, so they are scattered wherever overpasses and bridges provide shelter. The feature image in this article was taken just south of the downtown area. The next photo is adjacent to Chinatown.

In the USA, the problem is concentrated in the cities on the west coast, but it occurs in the southeastern states too, and is creeping up the east coast.

It’s also hitting Europe hard and fast. Here’s footage from Paris:

Here are a few results of this phenomenon:

  • Increasing crime. Some of the homeless are perpetrators, and some are victims. People living nearby or passing through are also getting victimized.
  • Brush fires in southern California being started by camp fires.
  • Increasing health hazard from lack of enough sanitation.
  • Businesses having to relocate or go out of business as the camps spread and scare away customers.
  • Higher taxes under the pretext of “doing something” about the problem.

Now for some friendly advice about what YOU can do about exploding homelessness and poverty:

If you’re a regular reader of this e-zine, you’ve probably been trained to be self-sacrificial, both economically, and in terms of military services, by people who do not have your best interests at heart.

“A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, is to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that he build the furnace, besides.”Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Here are some more tips:

  • Most people who tell you to sacrifice yourself are not sacrificing themselves; it’s empty virtue-signalling.
  • Some of the encouragement for you to sacrifice yourself starts with billionaires who live decadent, hedonistic lifestyles.
  • Some of them are upper-middle-class people, or people with “gravy train” employment, who have resources to take exotic vacations, drive nice cars, or live in “exclusive” suburban neighborhoods.
  • Some of them are losers who don’t contribute value to the rest of us, so they virtue-signal as a means of obtaining approval.
  • If someone tries to shame you into sacrificing yourself to save “the poor”, or “refugees” (most of whom aren’t really refugees), ask that person what’s stopping him or her from doing so.
The problem is completely out-of-control; there’s no point talking about “solving” it. Real unemployment continues its long-term rise. If you do not stay focused on staying employable, you could end up homeless too. That helps no-one; it would actually make the problem worse by spreading resources for the impoverished and homeless ever thinner.

Business slow? Here’s why.

Almost empty interior of convention center in downtown Seattle.

If you’re self-employed and have to look for your own business, you might be having a tough time right now. If you depend on wages, you might be having a hard time finding or keeping a job.

The feature photo for this article is the interior of the Washington State Convention Center early afternoon on a business day, while it was hosting the Seattle Home Expo. The convention center is located in what usually is a thriving downtown. Its corridors are lined with small meeting rooms and retail commercial space. My guess is that with the traffic flow as low as it is, the few shops and cafés it hosts aren’t going to be able to survive much longer.

My wife and I got free tickets in the mail to see the home expo, even though admission isn’t usually free. The expo is full of vendors who sell to home-owners. We frequently need repair services to maintain our rental properties, and our own home has some deferred maintenance that needs attention.

We were a little startled to arrive at the convention center and find it empty during peak business hours. Even without hosting any particularly big event, normally it would still have plenty of traffic through it. The home expo alone would be expected to draw a decent crowd. Most of the huge complex is in fact empty.

We passed through the empty corridors to find the expo. Even there traffic was sparse. I shot a photo over my shoulder to show how little traffic the booths are getting:

All of them are this sparsely-visited. Maybe a third of the booths were temporarily abandoned by bored or frustrated vendors out looking for a bite to eat.

It’s a symptom of a bigger problem for business. Roughly 75% of the US economy revolves around consumer sales. However, sales are down so much that the phenomenon has a name, and even its own wikipedia entry:

The retail apocalypse refers to the closing of a large number of American retail stores in 2015[5] and expected to peak in 2018.[6] Over 4,000 physical stores are affected…Major department stores such as J.C. Penney and Macy’s have announced hundreds of store closures, and well-known apparel brands such as J. Crew and Ralph Lauren are unprofitable.[8] Of the 1,200 shopping malls across the US, 50% are expected to close by 2023.[9] More than 12,000 stores are expected to close in 2018.[10] The retail apocalypse phenomenon is related to the middle-class squeeze, in which consumers experience a decrease in income while costs increase for education, healthcare, and housing. Bloomberg stated that the cause of the retail apocalypse “isn’t as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms.Wikipedia entry 'Retail Apocalypse'

The wikipedia article contained a claim that I omitted as distracting that internet sales have displaced brick-and-mortar sales. The degree to which that’s true would not account for the volume of lost business. It’s not just shopping malls; it’s the whole economy. If you run a business on the internet, it’s probably hurting too.

Real estate prices & rents are falling in a number of big markets. Apparently they started falling in New York and San Francisco over a year ago. Now they’re falling in London and Seattle.

As of December 2017, average rent for an apartment in Seattle, WA is $2071 which is a 1.45% decrease from last year when the average rent was $2101 , and a 0.43% decrease from last month when the average rent was $2080.Rent Jungle, Seattle

Falling rent implies rising unemployment.

The rate at which money changes hands is called “monetary velocity”. It’s been falling in Japan for a long time now, and in the USA since our last big investment cycle related to the rise of the computer and software business.

Data and chart from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Notice that it peaked in the late 1990s. There are reasons to expect it to get stuck in a long, downward trend. For one thing, we’ve probably hit “peak economy” as we’ve hit resource limits to expanding the global economy.

When business is bad, the first companies and individuals to go out of business are the ones with cash flow problems or lots of debt. To last longer, cut your own expenses as much as you can, and make a plan to improve cash flow.

I’m going to keep most of my rents where they are, and cut the asking rent on my best unit. We have no debt, just operating costs and need for income. We’ll have to keep our expenses as low as we can.

Look for business in lines of business that are still growing or at least thriving. Good luck; it’s easier to figure out which ones are in trouble. Even a lot of “hot” new businesses will find venture capital drying up. Do the best you can; doing something is usually better than doing nothing. If you’re clever and nimble, you can usually find economic niches created by the economic decline itself.

If you saw this coming (I did), you’re sitting on a lot of cash, and you might be able to buy up discounted productive assets at bargain prices when businesses go bankrupt.

There are ways to make money even when asset prices are falling instead of rising. Unfortunately they’re a little risky because of the possibility of counter-party default, but it’s probably still early enough in the game, and I’m only going to risk money that I can afford to lose. Good luck to all of us!

Bad news about this common over-the-counter drug you’ve probably used!

A bottle of Ibuprofen

Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen all have anti-androgenic effects. Ibuprofen is the worst.

There seem to be a lot of chemicals that disrupt male hormones. Ibuprofen is very commonly prescribed by doctors, and it’s also commonly taken without a prescription. It’s so commonly used, it makes me wonder if THIS is one of the main culprits in the war on testosterone. I will do more research and add it to the list of chemicals to beware of in my free report.

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility, study says

Original research paper here.

Highlights:

  • Ibuprofen has a negative impact on the testicles of young men. When taking ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes, a small sample of young men developed a hormonal condition that typically begins, if at all, during middle age. This condition is linked to reduced fertility.
  • Advil and Motrin are two brand names for ibuprofen, an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Jégou and a team of French and Danish researchers had been exploring the health effects when a mother-to-be took any one of three mild pain relievers found in medicine chests around the globe: aspirin, acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol and sold under the brand name Tylenol) and ibuprofen.
  • Their early experiments, published in several papers, showed that when taken during pregnancy, all three of these mild medicines affected the testicles of male babies. (Ibuprofen the worst)
  • For the men taking ibuprofen, within 14 days, their luteinizing hormones — which are secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone — became coordinated with the level of ibuprofen circulating in their blood. At the same time, the ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormones decreased, a sign of dysfunctional testicles.
  • This hormonal imbalance produced compensated hypogonadism, a condition associated with impaired fertility, depression and increased risk for cardiovascular events, including heart failure and stroke.
  • …”in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro” — in the living body, outside the living body and in the test tube — …ibuprofen has a direct effect on the testicles and so testosterone
  • …of the three mild analgesics examined, ibuprofen had “the broadest endocrine-disturbing properties identified so far in men.”
1 2 3 6