(Double) Weekly Roundup: End Of The Road Edition

It took Hunter S. Thompson seventeen years to work up the guts to kill himself, then it took him four days more. In his famous “Football Season Is Over” suicide note, he wrote “67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted.” He thought about it for about ninety-six hours, then he put the gun to his head. Readers, as I approach my fiftieth birthday I am starting to understand the appeal of that. You can feel the machine winding down inside you. Two weeks ago, at the inaugural event of an Ohio-wide pumptrack championship, my recently-turned-twelve-years-old son beat me in raw time, 58.17 seconds to 60.20 seconds. The hilarious part is that he came off the track absolutely furious with his performance, which nabbed him second place in the 11-13 category, while I finished my run thinking I’d perhaps ridden over my head just a bit. (For the record, I was the oldest rider at the race, and not the slowest, or even all that close to being the slowest.)

Faced with a future in which each day is a slightly lesser child of the day before, I can’t say I’m like 100% opposed to calling time on my own season, although I think I’d want to do it via a re-creation of the Snake River jump or something like that instead of just nipping off and shooting myself like the cow in a Douglas Adams book. Alas, I have a child to raise and a couple of novels to write. The former still requires a few years and the latter can’t start until I leave my current job. Nor can I expect a deus ex machina to pull my card for me; yeah, I’m a little overweight but I’m in remarkable health and I still exercise about 300-400 “intense” minutes a week with no trouble, according to my little Garmin fitness nanny.

This is what I don’t have: a plan to fill these years to come, or much motivation in one direction or another. Until I saw the above car at the Bonhams auction on Amelia Island this past week, and realized what I want to do.

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(Non-) Weekly Roundup: Yarvin vs. Watts vs. Baruth (kinda) Edition

Regular readers here know I have spoken highly of noted doublepluscrimethinker Curtis Yarvin in the recent past, and will likely continue to do so. However, there are few pleasures as transgressively sweet as the opportunity to disagree with a very smart person, particularly when one is a little short on time and will be able to neither research nor revise said disagreement. Yarvin’s latest article, titled There is no AI risk, seems tailor-made to provide me such an opportunity.

Insofar as I respect the Gray Mirror man a little too much to scrap with him one on one, however, I’m going to do what I used to do in my youth when I prowled the worst pool halls and nightclubs the Columbus ghetto had to offer: I’m going to bring some backup. Peter Watts, please come to the (unfashionably) white courtesy phone.

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Weekly Roundup: Who Could Remember Her Edition

I’ve seen altogether too much of Jason Segel. Not just because the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, CONSOOMED by your humble author last night for the first time just thirteen years after its 2008 premiere, both begins and ends with full-frontal scenes of Segel’s personal equipment, but also because he has appeared in seemingly fifty percent of the random media serving as background noise in this house. He was part of How I Met Your Mother and is a reliable bet to appear in any of the “Apatowverse” movies.

About those films, which have woven themselves into the fabric of American psuedo-culture the same way Seinfeld and Friends did two decades before: Some of them are very funny (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), some are uncannily perceptive (Superbad) and one of them verges on being genuinely artistic (Get Him To The Greek, the only Apatow film that would have piqued the interest of Joseph Campbell or Robert Bly).

There’s always been something about the entire oeuvre that has annoyed me, however, and after seeing Forgetting I believe I can now articulate it in reasonable fashion.

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Weekly Roundup: The Legend Of Bangkok Joe Edition

I don’t know if now was the right time for Netflix to show The Serpent, a BBC miniseries about a fellow who preyed on Western tourists following the Indo-Asian “hippie trail” during the Seventies. Surely there are plenty of people in the States who are watching this and thinking, “Gosh, would I be willing to risk being drugged, tortured, and murdered just to get on an international flight right now? Yes, I would!” There’s also something profoundly depressing about seeing all these young people who were so eager to flee America and Europe during the Seventies. In retrospect it seems obvious that the era that started with Nixon and ended with George H.W. Bush was the last gasp of the economically and culturally significant West. I had the actual privilege of growing up in a society that valued children, (largely) despised pornography, and at least offered the pretense of a moral compass. We were mercifully free from: smartphones, the HTTP protocol, political street violence, electric cars, woke capital, Amazon, an additional 110 million “Americans” who don’t seem to have improved the country, and omnipresent jumbo mortgages. Our most serious national problem at the time was Ford’s Variable Venturi Carburetor; with the help of Ronald Reagan, the risen Christ, and the Lockheed Skunkworks, that was resolved in 1986 when the 302 went fuel-injected, causing the Soviet Union to inevitably collapse.

I’ve been to Thailand a few times but have always avoided Bangkok, not wanting to enjoy the company of, or suffer the perception of being, a farang — a Western man who is in Southeast Asia for the purpose of pursuing sex. While I’ve heard all the arguments for abandoning American women, in my heart of hearts I think that going overseas to meet girls is what they call “gamma behavior”. (As always, there’s an exception to the rule IMO, and the exception is a rough ellipse drawn around Scandinavia, Holland, and northern France.) The feminist argument against overseas dating and/or “mail order marriage” is that it often amounts to economic exploitation, and it is a compelling one. Should the same lens be applied to the overwhelming support expressed by Western women for a “refugee” stream composed mostly of young adult men? I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Not all “farangs” are contemptible, however. Let me tell you the story of the greatest farang I ever met: a man who deceived, cheated, manipulated, and just plain out-played the American corporate Moloch to live his life on his own terms and retire in the States at an age when most men are still facing thirty years of misery to come. This is the legend of Bangkok Joe, and it’s all true. I know, because I was there.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: My Sunglasses Magazine And The Redistribution Of Romance Edition

Long-time readers of this blog know that I have a nearly absolute conviction regarding the avoidance of Chinese products and the desirability of supporting “Made In USA”. Where possible, I buy American, then I follow a preference ladder based on my own personal genetics and/or belief in our country’s interests: German, then English, then Russian, then Japanese, then other European countries, then Canada/Mexico, then the so-called Asian Tigers, then Taiwan, then China.

Usually this is easy but expensive, as with clothes, tools, and stereo equipment. Sometimes it is absolutely impossible, as with laptop computers or random fasteners. In between you have a grey area where it takes nontrivial research and effort to make a choice.

Then we have “Roka”.

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Weekly Roundup: An End To Memory Edition

Given the broad variety of my acquaintance, it came as little surprise to me to find out that one of my friends is a member of Antifa — more specifically, a member of the Portland Antifa meta-group, the folks who are causing either all of the trouble or none of it depending on how the Facebook algorithm perceives your desire for news. We had a meal together last week in California while the fires raged yet again back in his hometown. I asked him if it was true that Antifa had no leaders; he laughed at me as if I’d inquired regarding the actuality of the Easter Bunny. Of course there are leaders, organizers, treasurers. How else could we get all of this done? Then he made a joke about checks from Soros. He’s never seen any money personally, but he’s heard stories.

He says that you can hear his voice on a video where Portland mayor Ted Wheeler is being abused by Antifa while attempting to march with them. Talked about the six plainclothes cops Wheeler had — “the biggest human beings I’ve ever seen in real life.” The whole thing was oddly kayfabe. But that’s okay, because he says the protests are thinly disguised parties most of the time. You get out there for a while and shine lasers into the pigs’ eyes or whatever then you retreat to someone’s house and the hardcore shit comes out — MDMA, LSD, the “dab” marijuana with its eye-watering concentrations of pure THC — and then it is time to get it in. Polyamory, orgies, you name it.

And thus it has long been, ever since the Woodstock hippies: the girls do this stuff because they’re naive and the guys do it to have sex with the girls (and, increasingly, with each other). I’ve seen the girls involved, so I’m not going to burn an Apple Store just to make their acquaintance, yet I can see how some of them would have some appeal for people who would otherwise be “incels”. That’s how the foot soldiers of the revolution are recruited.

Above the foot soldiers, however, you have the people who are running the show. Presumably these folks are motivated by more than the chance to hook up with a meth addict while listening to Rage Against The Machine. What is that, exactly? Who are these people? More importantly, what do they want?

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Weekly Roundup: The Secretive Parent Edition

Christopher Robin hated being Christopher Robin. With considerable reason: his father expected him to respond to fan mail and record “Winnie the Pooh” audiobooks, all before he was ten years old. Later on, he accused his father of “climbing on his infant shoulders”.

With a life that seemed predestined to carom between misery and tragedy, right to the final act where he sold the “Pooh” rights to establish continuing care for his cerebral-palsy-stricken adult daughter, Christopher Milne had one of the least charmed lives one can imagine. Yet there was one saving grace in his life, however minor: social media did not yet exist.

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Weekly Roundup: From Atlanta To Xinjiang Edition

John Lennon never envisioned the kind of strange days we’re having now, that’s for sure. This is particularly true when it comes to that ever-expanding grey area marked “The Intersection Of Corporate And Government Power”. Highlights from the grey area this week:

  • Last year, Swedish fast-fashion trash-goblins H&M made some kind of bland statement about being “deeply concerned” by reports that cotton grown in the Xinjiang region of China was being harvested using slave labor. These statements were brought back to public attention via social media this week, causing the Chinese government to take some, ahem, direct action, at which point H&M basically apologized to China for criticizing their use of slave labor to harvest cotton.
  • The president of Delta Air Lines — you know, the guy who actually made a video showing all his blue-collar employees clapping for him as he walks into a hangar, then caused that video to be shown at the beginning of every Delta flight — criticized Georgia for its new voting-protection law. This caused the Georgia government to take some, ahem, direct action.
  • Facebook announced, after censoring an interview between Lara Trump and President Donald Trump, that it would no longer allow Trump’s voice to be heard on the platform. They meant that literally; everything from the “Home Alone 2” scene to, say, a theoretical recording of Trump reading the Gettysburg Address will be immediately deleted from Facebook.
  • Major League Baseball also announced their decision to punish Georgia for the new voting law by withdrawing the All-Star game from Atlanta, while at the same time affirming their decision to build dozens of “baseball development centers” in partnership with the Chinese government.
  • A spokesperson for the Biden Administration reaffirmed that there would be no government-issued “vaccine passport”, and then hastened to add that the Biden Administration would work with corporations to help develop guidelines for privately issued vaccine passports.

Most peculiar, momma! Is there a common thread on which to pull here? And what does it unravel, exactly?

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Weekly Roundup: My Phone’s In There Edition

Some time ago, I read an excellent article, possibly in Foreign Policy, about how the Chinese government handled criticism at the higher levels. (How do they handle it at the lower levels? With a tank, of course.) Recognizing that China could not improve and progress if it didn’t continually address mistakes made by its leaders, but also understanding that it could be fatal to question or criticize the man in charge at any given time, the Chinese came up with an ingenious solution. Let’s say, for example, that Hu Jintao, the previous Dude Who Runs China, had introduced some ineffective or dangerous policy during his term. Some senior person would notice this problem and would address the leadership like so:

“Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a dangerous policy introduced by Jiang Zemin is threatening this country.” He would then outline the policy as if it had been created and/or implemented by Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao’s predecessor. Everyone, including Hu Jintao, would listen politely. And if the senior official’s argument and/or facts proved to be persuasive, Hu Jintao would announce that he was addressing errors made by the previous administration, the bad policy would be removed, and everyone would continue to go about their business.

Our natural response as Westerners to this is to recoil from the hypocrisy! of this tactic, but in fact it is the only way to deal with the unfettered power of a uniparty state. By freeing the current powers that be from the admission of fault, you allow them to treat the problem as a problem to be solved rather than as a challenge to be defeated. This tactic is no more “hypocritical” than declining to wrestle a grizzly bear.

In any event, I think it would be irresponsible to suggest any correlation between this highly effective practice from overseas and the recent spate of “AAPI March Against White Supremacy” events that have, entirely correctly of course, placed the blame for the spate of attacks on AAPI individuals by non-whites on the root cause of white supremacy. We do not have a Uniparty in this country and the idea that a group of people who are suffering a remarkable string of violent attacks would use “white supremacy” as a means to have a discussion about countermeasures without upsetting the jealous power of that Uniparty is, of course, the most ridiculous of conspiracy theories.

Let’s move on.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Crash Into Me Edition

If you read the Hagerty website everyday:

0. thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings
1. You’ll have already seen that we rolled a vintage Tatra T87 at NCM Motorsports Park.

“We”, in this case, means my Editor-At-Large and boon companion, Sam Smith, who rose with the Nashville dawn and had the Tatra on its side before I made it completely through my habitual morning run to the McDonald’s down the street from the Corvette Museum. Sam’s call to me had the unmistakable tone of someone who expects to be keelhauled for his actions, and perhaps rightly so: isn’t your humble author the fellow who has made a habit out of calling out the industry’s most overprivileged mistakes, from the time Aaron Gold somehow managed to knock the nose off a Camaro ZL1 at about 30mph to the recent incident of buffoonery from some buffoon who, after a year or so of riding an Indian motorcycle provided to him at no charge, promptly managed to crash the same model of Indian motorcycle into a rock at the speed of the brisk run with which he is probably entirely unfamiliar?

The crashing of cars is an apparently unavoidable part of automotive journalism, particularly at the magazines. One of the more prominent rags has destroyed so many cars in recent years, including a $500,000 carbon-fiber specialty Porsche, that they are supposedly no longer allowed to have their writers on any kind of racetrack whatsoever, being forced instead to use a “hired gun” for any closed-course work at above school-zone speeds. I’m not immune from this, having managed to harm two press vehicles. The first incident happened when I drove a kit car out onto a racetrack (GingerMan) that still had ice in its banked first turn; the car basically slid down the bank at about 15mph and shattered the lower part of the fiberglass nose against the “chiclet” curb. The second bashup happened when I used a compact crossover to push an old Chevy van across a parking lot; the collision-warning system, activated, the crossover slowed, the blanket I’d placed between the bumpers slid off, and the nose got scratched when I recontacted the van.

In Sam’s case, however, the Tatra rollover wasn’t due to laziness, lack of talent, bad luck, or even just plain not giving a damn. It was part of a test to see… well… what it would take to make the car roll over. We didn’t actually want to roll the Tatra, but we knew it was a possibility, and so did the car’s owner. I’d argue that there are certain times it’s totally fine to damage a press car — but there’s a certain litmus test that needs to be applied in order to determine whether now is one of those times.

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