If you’re reading it, it’s for you. Sometimes that is particularly true. As a frequent user of Mozilla Firefox, I also receive “Pocket recommendations” when I open a new tab. These recommendations are supposedly based on my browsing behavior. It’s worth noting that Pocket limits its recommendations to very carefully-vetted purveyors of pap propaganda; for instance, I’ve been reading quite a bit about the new generation of Desert Eagle pistols lately, but I have yet to receive any “deagle”-related suggestions. Pocket is never going to tell me about guns, or off-roading, or patriotism. Not even on the Fourth Of July.
Let’s briefly discuss two recommendations which caught my eye today, because both of them are specifically designed to distort reality in such a way as to make me, and others with my approximate browsing history, doubt our ability to understand the world.
First one: What You Lose When You Gain A Spouse. Mandy and her partner Mark are about to get married — but horror of horrors, people start treating them like a couple. So she does a ton of research to indicate that marriage increases loneliness and depression and cuts you off from a vibrant, exciting community of single people. In the end, she and Mark decide not to get married. For clarity, here’s the marriage-rejecting authoress in question:
Oh gee, oh gosh. Hard to believe Mark didn’t just conk her over the head and drag her to the altar Princess Bride-style, right? Ms. Canton’s article came very close to enraging me for a few reasons. The first is this: why am I letting a never-married person, someone who made it through her fertile years without getting married, lecture me about marriage? I wouldn’t let her lecture me about bicycle motocross or World Challenge racing or decline bench pressing, three subjects with which I also have more experience than she does. What makes her an expert? I’m reminded of football commentator Howard Cosell and his autobiography, titled I Never Played The Game.
Ah, but that’s not the truly infuriating part of this woman’s article. Rather, it is the assertion which follows:
Love is the marrow of life, and yet, so often people attempt to funnel it into the narrow channels prescribed by marriage and the nuclear family. And though this setup is seen as a cultural norm, it is not, in reality, the way most Americans are living their lives. The two-parents-plus-kids family represents only 20 percent of households in the U.S.; couples (both married and unmarried) without children are another 25 percent. But millions of Americans are living alone, with other unmarried adults, or as single parents with children. It’s worth considering what would happen if they lived in a culture that supported all intimate relationships with the same energy currently devoted to celebrating and supporting marriage.
Governments, hospitals, insurance companies, and schools assume that marriage (and subsequently the nuclear family) is the primary unit of care. But of course love—and the care it necessitates—is much more far-reaching and unwieldy than that. What if you could share health-care benefits with your sister and her son? Or take paid leave to be with a close friend who had an operation? In a country with epidemic rates of loneliness, expanding our sense of what counts as meaningful love—and acknowledging and supporting relationships in all their forms—could have enormous benefits. Energy spent striving to prop up the insular institution of marriage could instead be spent working to support family stability in whatever form it takes.
Allow me to rephrase this argument in a manner that a sane person can understand at first glance:
Certain powerful elements within society did everything possible to destroy marriage, from glamorizing adultery to making divorces easier than beating a parking ticket. As a result, marriage has become less popular. So now it’s time to knock out whatever support our society still offers marriage, by making its benefits available to close friends and people with whom you “raid” in “world of warcraft”.
It’s a classic “Who Killed Hannibal?” moment.
The article beats a pretty consistent drum: Let’s get rid of marriage and nuclear families, choosing instead to put our trust and energy into loosely formed social affiliations while relying on a central government for support and assistance. This argument has been made before:
The workers’ state needs new relations between the sexes, just as the narrow and exclusive affection of the mother for her own children must expand until it extends to all the children of the great, proletarian family, the indissoluble marriage based on the servitude of women is replaced by a free union of two equal members of the workers’ state who are united by love and mutual respect. In place of the individual and egoistic family, a great universal family of workers will develop, in which all the workers, men and women, will above all be comrades. This is what relations between men and women, in the communist society will be like. These new relations will ensure for humanity all the joys of a love unknown in the commercial society of a love that is free and based on the true social equality of the partners.
It would appear that the ninety-nine years since the dictation of the above paragraph and the creation of the
Alright, my atheist and agnostic friends, church is over. Sorry about that. Let’s place our fedoras back on our heads, at an appropriately rakish angle, and continue with the discussion.
The second article which was recommended to me today was: What Does Buying American Even Mean? As with the Atlantic piece, the whole purpose of this is to sow doubt in your mind about something which should be completely obvious. It contains obvious inanities such as referring to the footwear industry’s lack of support for tariffs. Gosh, really? An industry where ninety-nine out of every hundred items is imported from slave-wage countries is opposed to tariffs? Who could have guessed?
After that foolishness, the Wirecutter (owned by the Times) gets around to the usual argument, namely: Everything crosses so many borders, it’s all so complicated, there’s no way to know if something is made in the USA any more. Hmm. That’s a lie. It is absolutely possible to build something in the United States from American raw materials, the same way it is obviously possible to build something in China out of entirely Chinese raw materials. The difference is that the Chinese government-industrial complex doesn’t actively undermine the production of items in China the way our Wall Street Illuminati relentlessly work to damage our blue-collar workers and their prospects for lifelong stable employment. And, of course, the Devil is in the argument there as well, although only metaphorically in this case: It’s so hard to know if something is made in the USA, so you’re better off just buying foreign products. We’ll make it up by selling real estate to the Chinese.
This past week, I completed a project which has been on my mind for a while: building the most American dirt-jumper bicycle possible. Do we have a photo? Yes, we do.
There are two Taiwan-made items in this photo which will be replaced: the Deity Decoy pedals, which are yielding to USA-made Twenty6 Predators as soon as I get said Predators refinished, and the Chromag FU40 bars, which are going to be duplicated in titanium by a Colorado firm. There are a few other things which I could not source from the USA: the tires, chain, saddle, and brakes. Total cost was $3,429.99. $2,936 of that went to American manufacturers. In some cases, these American makers source internationally; the Fox 831 front shock is not entirely American, and Profile Racing occasionally sources Chinese bearings. But that doesn’t meant that I should just throw up my hands. This dirt-jumper replaces a Chromag Monk which was made entirely in Taiwan and mainland China at a shipped price of $1,614. I feel good having made the change. It’s obviously better to send $2,950 to American manufacturers than it is to send $1,614 to China. The fact that I still sent $500 or so of my total purchase to China does not render the $2,950 irrelevant. That’s reality. Any contrasting opinion or argument is nothing but a rhetorical trick. Don’t trust it. If enough of us insist that our bicycle parts are American-made, there will eventually be American-made options for all the parts. That’s simple economics. A little tariff wouldn’t hurt, of course.
I should also point out that while buying a Taiwan dirt-jumper was as simple as putting a credit card in a Webpage, the commissioning and assembly of this bike was a four-month process with a few false starts and expensive mistakes along the way. You know what they say: Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.
Sheesh. Sorry, atheist pals. I’ll make this up to you. Next week we’ll, like, talk about that year where I read all of Stephen Jay Gould’s books.
Do you sense a common thread in my Pocket recommendations? If you didn’t, allow me to supply one: Everything you ever believed is actually meaningless. We will supply meaning for you. Pocket’s brave new world, imagined and written by the Atlantic and the Times, is one in which ad hoc families of men, women, children, and Apache helicopters practice nonbinary and meaningless “love” while all the hard work of creating the future is shipped overseas. If you ever wondered how the corrupt and aimless Romans of the late Empire justified their vile existences, surely this is how: by making a virtue of vice, by redefining ugliness as beauty, by promoting lies as truth.
Today is the Fourth Of July. That phrase — “Fourth Of July” — is like “Xmas” in that it attempts to obscure what the holiday in question truly celebrates. (Yes, atheist friends; I know that “Xmas” was originally “Saturnalia” and some sort of pagan solstice ritual before that.) Normally I accept Pocket’s recommendations with equanimity — but today, maybe just today, I have a more forthright response to this kind of propaganda. Yes, I know that I’m reading it because it’s meant for me, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it. In other words: