Early impressions from the Lion’s Den

  • Crime is at night, in the wee hours.  There is not much of it, and it is almost entirely resolved by locking your car doors before going inside.  Apparently people (not cops though) telling other people to leave their windows down to avoid breakage just causes thieves to laugh heartily in a low-crime area and cackle at the easy loot.
  • More open attitudes towards occasional and part-time use of childcare while mom is home.  More teenage girls available to offer it.
  • Weirdly, living in million to two million dollar lakefront homes makes people hate property taxes with a burning passion not extinguished by taking the boat out for a lake barbeque.

January reading update

I read 10 books for this month.  Seven were Sherlock Holmes, one was a Clifford Simak collection of four novellas, one was a very weird 1960s short story anthology I bought strictly for a story I can’t read online in full anymore, and one was non-fiction, The Art of the Deal.

Sherlock Holmes was very modern in a lot of ways and extremely refreshing stylistically.  Clifford Simak was ok, but I remembered why I never got into completionist mode with his work.  It’s weak on characterization and doesn’t have a lot of zing.

The short story anthology was very, very, very, very, very 1960s.  It was, except for the story I bought it for (“The Dance of the Changer and the Three”, available partially online due to link rot) and perhaps one other story, totally full of the laddishness the recently deceased Ursula LeGuin criticized.  I can live with that kind of stuff in my sci-fi now and again, but it’s also good there’s a lot less of it these days.

The Art of the Deal was really fascinating as a look into the mind of someone who is nerdy in ways that I am nerdy.

So current count is 10, 90 to go.



The sick system of conservative home life hurts men too.

A selfish man is going to create a sick system on an individual level, but it’s the SYSTEM that’s the problem because the husband needs to be earning a living and multiple closely spaced children can sink an isolated nuclear family no matter how nice the guy is.

The above sentence has been sitting for a couple of years because I thought I would add more, but I think there’s not much to add except that it’s why I’m totally fine with, say, postpartum doulas being covered on health insurance despite my generally ex-libertarian, small-government leanings.  Private retreat creates fragile, isolated nuclear families, but accepting that part of community is functional, civic-minded government helps nuclear families stay strong enough to build the web of external relationships that lead to a high-trust community where random childless people can babysit a night a month.

Private retreat is impossible without scale

The frontier, the leading edge of private retreat, was not possible without a massive international and global infrastructure and use of cutting-edge technology and instant communication.

A common modern variation, telecommuting while “farming” ten acres in a rural community, is also obviously impossible without technological scale.  Scale refers to the idea that human societies grow in complexity and, er, scale with advancements in technology and the resulting productivity gains creating a reinforcing cycle of more and more scaling and consolidation and globalization.

As to more typical forms of conservative private retreat, they are also scale-dependent.  Homeschooling was originated by people using cutting-edge communication technology and benefiting from the postwar explosion in mechanical advancement producing farm equipment that could be used to work otherwise marginal parcels of land in either size or quality.  Even though ultimately most didn’t do much agrarian stuff and still don’t, the online and DIY ethos was carried forward and is still a substantial part of homeschooling as lifestyle.

There’s also the dependence of conservatives on industries that can’t exist without an overscaled society.  Like IT, or government administration.  Many small-government conservatives are employed in government jobs at government departments that didn’t even exist thirty years or even twenty and see no contradiction between their dependence on a larger and larger government and their belief that government should be smaller.  IT in its tech-company form is obviously full of deviance and general anti-family social aspects, yet it is if anything promoted the absolute most by conservatives as a family-supporting career path.

Conservatives tend to rely for frugality tips on mass production of cheap goods and also see nothing wrong with this dependence on cheap global labor in textiles and food. A common example where Costcos are located is telling mothers to take the kids to Costco to fill up on samples before dinner as a “frugality hack”.

There is much truth to the idea that progressives want everyone to progress towards a state of total and perfectly individual consumption, but the flipside of that is that conservatives want the same thing, except one level up, at the level of the nuclear family rather than the single individual.

But the problem with relying on more and more scaling up is that extreme complexity collapses, and brutally so.  There is no graceful failure mode in a world of just in time grocery shelf stocking.  Yet without an outlet for private retreat, there isn’t anything like the American conservative at all.

Private retreat is the default right wing political activism.

That people doing it don’t feel that way doesn’t matter, the practical effects are nearly the same as if they did (and plenty do feel there’s a political aspect.)

The problem with this being the way right wing people respond to mass social changes that are detrimental is that it’s expensive on a collective level and a personal level.  The costs are so high that right wing people engaging in this type of activism are almost entirely cut off from any other kind of activism.

In contrast, the left wing just sprinkles political dust on their lifestyle and keeps on moving.  The left doesn’t promote marriage as the optimal vehicle for private retreat.  It doesn’t promote private retreat at all.  The right overwhelmingly does.  It’s not that the right does no explicit activism, it’s that the default setting is to hide away privately and replicate lost social goods within the nuclear family regardless of whether it’s desirable, feasible or possible within the limitations of a nuclear family.

This breaks women.  Women are yelled at for not being able to replicate the social goods of an entire city, town or village, and also yelled at for desiring those goods and also yelled at for not taking on additional community-wide functions as more and more of society breaks down into atomization and isolated individuality.

It also breaks men, but in a more subtle way in which they are told there’s no serious obstacles to their masculine expression or nature except their own will, which is an immensely damaging falsehood.  This is as true of the mainstream right wing media as it is of numerous far right blogs.

I’d expand on this more, like perhaps delving into the trades myth that many in the right cling to but make sure to never put their kids into, or how the conservative stack for women doesn’t (that is, the pieces don’t work with each other and reinforce each other; homeschooling comes at the expense of a clean house, as a very typical example).  But our private retreat means I don’t have another woman or young girl around to keep my youngest from melting down about getting a small spot of soup on one sleeve. So I have to go deal with that.

Are American mothers influenced by stimulant abuse among college and business people?

I think so.  This is basically a link dump, though. Stimulant refers to adderall and other strong prescription-needed stimulant drugs, so not coffee or nicotine.


This is the usual glorious TLDR; from Scott Alexander.  Steve Sailer picked it up and discussed it here, and if you even glance at the comments you’ll see a bunch of his readers use stimulants, previously used stimulants or are frothingly envious of people who have access to stimulants.

As to how this relates to American motherhood, since we’re closing in on 60% of births to women with a BA or higher, you have the largest historical group ever on an annual basis of women who came out of the hothouse high-performance, heavy-stimulant using college environments and decided to go for marriage and kids.  So they are bringing in expectations of how to “be productive” that are influenced by heavy stimulant abuse, even if they didn’t mess with that stuff themselves or don’t know anyone who did.

It also explains some of the extraordinary cultural callousness around sleep deprivation, as well.  It’s not just that being sleep deprived yourself makes you cold to other women experiencing it.  It’s that the entire media culture is full of stimulant abusers who don’t think about the fact that nursing and pregnant women can’t possibly solve their sleep issues the way the stimulant users do.

The selection bias of women who come up in those high-performance environments but end up starting families anyway and trying to make it all work without those little helpers (and without cultural support to “trade across” with actual domestic support) is worth exploring, rather than continuing to assert that women are delaying  marriage and childbearing to be scandalous cat ladies.

Reading goals for 2017

It’s a new year, and for people who read, that always means making a fresh new reading action plan.  I used to make big lists of books, but then I only ended up reading a few on the list and reading dozens of others instead.  So now I stick to straight numbers.

Read 60 books to the end last year, ranging from pamphlet sized to doorstopper sized.

This year I think I’ll try for a clear hundred.  The twist is that I hope only 1/5 are ebooks.  I went ebook heavy last year when I got tired of reading like 1960 hadn’t arrived and wanted to read something modern and fresh.  Which led to me reading a bunch of 70s and 80s ebooks, lol.  I did stumble into a couple of interesting new authors writing fresh recently published books, though.

Anyway I’m back to old stuff again, because I got some ancient tomes for Christmas gifts and they are delightful.  I guess I’m making this post so I remember to do a monthly update.

Happy New Year!