Don’t You Recognize A Fellow Astronaut

It’s a nasty paradox: in order to write a lot, you need to read a lot. For the even vaguely competent author, reading serves to recharge the creative batteries, said batteries then being discharged in the course of writing new material. But the more you write, the less time you have to read. Which, in turn, makes it harder to write quickly and well. Which eats up your time. Which prevents you from reading. You get the idea.

For the last two years or so, I’ve chosen to deal with this by increasing the intensity of my reading and post-reading consideration. In practical terms, that means that I’ve entirely stopped reading the auto media. I read my fellow contributors in R&T because I want to see where the magazine is going, and I’ll very occasionally re-read a magazine from twenty or thirty years ago for nostalgia purposes, but other than that — nada zip zero. Don’t ask me if I’ve read the latest whatever from Jonny “Caviar” Lieberman or Dutch Mandel or Brett Berk. I haven’t. I don’t have that kind of time, and if I had that kind of time it would be more productively spent hanging out with my son, fighting with my Pro-Spot P100, or staring at a blank wall.

This is what I do: I read the New York Review Of Books, the Atlantic, Lapham’s Quarterly, and (sssssh) Vintage Guitar. About once a month I’ll read something from the 18th or 19th C. just for the purposes of keeping that slight patina on my grammar and sentence construction. That’s about all I can manage, pathetic as it is.

I mention all of this to explain why it took a Tweet from a reader today for me to notice Pete Dushenski taking a reasonably solid crack at me almost a month ago.

In Pete’s article, he notes that I have been seriously delinquent in further engaging him about a conversation we had over email regarding the ability of technology to affect behavior. This interaction started when Pete asserted that Tinder hadn’t made any difference in the frequency and diversity of female sex partners. He then further asserted that technology rarely changes human behavior. The reason I’ve yet to write the column I promised him on the subject was because I’ve been short on time to give it serious thought. My first impulse was to pull the ol’ Samuel Johnson “I refute it THUS!”. In a world without the Internet, Pete Dushenski and I would have never “met”, nor would we be having these conversations. Nor it is in any way certain that, in the absence of said Internet, I would find a Dushenski “equivalent” in Columbus, Ohio, any more than it is certain that he would find a “Baruth” in Canada.

Human beings evolved to use tools. We are shaped and changed by those tools even as we use them to shape and change our environment. I am proof of that, having suffered seventy-some broken bones while operating a bicycle or motorcycle. In a world where my mom doesn’t buy me a Redline 600c back in 1985:

* I never race bikes, so I never get hurt this badly
* Since I never get hurt badly, there’s nothing to stop me from enlisting in the Marine Corps, which was my post-high-school life plan.
* And I certainly don’t end up writing for a bicycle magazine
* Which means I don’t end up writing about cars
* Which means I don’t exist as far as all you know.
* In fact, I’m probably in an unmarked grave somewhere, having never had a constructive outlet for my temper and bitterness.

Returning to the ur-discussion I had with Pete… I know a few people who have managed to leverage Tinder into between twenty and fifty sexual encounters a year. They’d have had a hell of a time maintaining that pace at singles bars or at speed-dating seminars. You can contrast that to the behavior of the most promiscuous woman I knew in the pre-Tinder era. Every weekend she’d go to the bars and if she liked the cut of a fellow’s jib she’d one-night him. After a decade of that behavior, she had under a hundred notches on her bedpost. About ten dudes a year. Now, let’s take a look at this young lady:


You think she’s restricting herself to ten dudes a year?

Pete’s assertion, therefore, is so obviously false, so easily refutable, that I thought it would make more sense to take a meta-look at his assertion to see if it is underpinned by anything stouter and then to consider that as a means for discussion. If Peter is saying that human nature is fundamentally the same whether we’re in the first century or the twenty-first, well then that’s something we can debate because there’s plenty of evidence on both sides. If you had a time machine that could kidnap infants from the time of Marcus Aurelius and bring them up in the modern day, I think you would end up with a person who isn’t that different from the people around him. Let’s give that point to Pete.

If, on the other hand, you want to tell me that humans aren’t changed by their tools and environment from the moment of their birth, making the “sluts” of the Elizabethan era hugely and thoroughly different from today’s Tinderellas, then I’m going to have to disagree and I think I have enough evidence on my side to vaporize Hiroshima and Nagasaki all over again. That’s not a random example. Americans wouldn’t have the collective willpower to use the atomic bomb in 2016. We had it in 1945, but we don’t have it now. If we were invaded by a foreign country, we’d surrender before we’d use the bomb. Know how I know? Because we’ve been de facto invaded by Mexico and nobody’s done shit about it except suck up to the invaders in the hope that, like Cthulhu’s most ardent worshipers, they’ll be eaten last.

That’s a nice segue, I think, to the point made in Pete’s new article:

the mental impoverishment of The West in general and the USA in particular is soaring like that elevator strapped to the rocket in Einstein’s famous Gedankenexperiment. They think it’s just plain old gravity! To equalitarianism… and beyond!!1 Alas, The West is sinking like a rock and imagining that the mounting leagues of water overhead give two shits about whether “the people” live or die. All the while, the [paper] money is actively redirecting itself towards Chinese tastes faster than you can say “yi yi zhi yi.”…

No one gives a shit about the American middle class, nor should they, nor could they even if they wanted to for some bleeding-heart reason. The US is no longer an industrial power ; those days are over. So even if you can find the odd dishwasher or pair of shoes assembled there, the working heuristic for those intent on surviving in industries other than those dominated by USG-dole-sucking-catamites is that the US citizens are too stupid to deal with and its regulations too onerous to comply with to the point where it’s simply uneconomical to even try.vii If the USMegaGovCorps have them, let ‘em have ‘em. Let ‘em pump the cows full of corn and let the rest of us wash our hands of the sorry lot.

Either which way, it’s a big world out there, and very little of it has to do with ObamaTrumpClitler’s fucktoy. Nota bene.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting the feeling that Pete doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. He’s thoroughly convinced that the United States is yesterday’s news, filled with “obeasts” who are too busy looking for “gibmedat” to make any difference in the future direction of the world community. The future belongs to the BRIC, filled to the brim with billions of intelligent, hard-working, height-weight-proportionate individuals who are going to eat our lunch just as soon as the Mexicans in the restaurant down the street finish making it for us.

I could refute his assertion Sam Johnson style by reminding him that

Whatever happens, we have got
The undetectable-before-launch submarine-launched ballistic missile
And they have not

Or at least not as many of them. The United States has the power to reduce the world to a smoking cinder any time the man with his finger on the button feels like it. This is why the “world community” is so terrified of Trump, by the way. He might just decide to “negotiate” with this country’s enemies without tying the large-scale-force hand behind his back. The fact of the matter is that the United States would benefit hugely from a quick and overwhelmingly one-sided war against ISIS or, as they say in the rental aisle, similar. It would kick-start the economy a bit and it would produce another generation of combat-bloodied leaders for the military. But there’s also this:

Whatever happens, we have got
The world’s reserve currency
And they have not

The yen had a shot at the dollar and it lost. The Euro had a shot at the dollar and it lost. Now it’s China’s turn to attempt to prove that their centrally-managed currency can do it. They’re going to fail because nobody trusts China and nobody ever will. The business community knows that the Wall Street game is rigged but it’s rigged in a way that they trust. Nor will Bitcoin ever be more than a plaything for people on the fringes of the financial world. Pete’s very knowledgeable about Bitcoin but just like the goldbugs and the silver hoarders he rarely looks very hard at the way that real people use money in the real world. The average sub-130 IQ person looks at Bitcoin as a technology indistinguishable from magic, assuming that it’s that kind of magic where people periodically compromise the blockchain and steal money. Believe me when I tell you that we will all go back to biting coins and cutting silver dollars into “bits” before we have any significant public adoption of any cryptography-based currency.

Neither Pete nor I will live to see a world in which the United States is not a major player in international affairs, if not the major player. Go ahead and bet on that. But the Roman middle class could have said the same thing under the reign of Diocletian, so maybe I should consider if Pete isn’t right in the long run even if he’s wrong in the short run.

The only answer I can summon with any certainty is this: In the long run, empires rise and fall based on the validity of their systems and the degree to which those systems are respected. The Roman system was superior to the barbarian system as long as everybody subscribed to the ideas and did their part. Once the Romans slacked off, the barbarians were able to take over. The next system that had any lasting power was the combination of Christianity with feudalism. That system was overtaken by the combination of Christianity with representative democracy, which conquered the world to a degree beyond Caesar’s or Alexander’s wildest fantasies. The final form of that system is embodied by the United States of America, aided and abetted by our geographical advantages.

During the Eighties, many people thought the Japanese system of ancestor worship and rigid societal discipline would overtake the American system. They were wrong. We’ve heard a lot lately about how the BRIC systems, which can be roughly described as “kleptocracies where a select group of very wealthy and powerful people make the decisions and a billion proles do what they’re told,” are going to overtake the American system.

I doubt it.

But that doesn’t mean that the United States is unassailable. As Pete points out, we are rotten from the inside, obsessed with Feelsville navel-gazing and electronic Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy and casual sex. We might just collapse under our own weight. But if that happens, and the BRICs do indeed end up determining the shape of the world, we will all be the worse off for it. I wouldn’t give up on the United States just yet. Yeah, yeah, I know: the last guy who said “If there is hope, it lies in the proles” wound up crying into his Victory Gin. But American proles are different. I know; I’m one of them. And so is Pete, although we’re separated by a border. As Corinne says, “Don’t you recognize a fellow astronaut?”

30 Replies to “Don’t You Recognize A Fellow Astronaut”

  1. IanM

    The article the other fellow wrote was illegible. Does he by chance walk upright? These sort of childish articles would be the reason I don’t read other publications. Pure nonsense, venom, and ignorance. There was more time spent trying to attack your views while inserting key words for search engine optimization than creating proper sentence structure. Painful.

    • VolandoBajo

      What he said!

      And now you see the real face of him…the venom, the faux superiority, the hatred of the Big Brother to the south of him.

      As one of Tom Waits’ characters says at the end of one of his songs, “…I never did like that dog.”

  2. Ark-med

    What immediately strikes me favourably about Dushenski’s page is how he uses alt-text to make footnotes very conveniently accessible.

  3. jz78817

    that guy is something of an enigma. At once, he appears both incredibly self-absorbed, yet seems obsessed with you.

    I ‘unno.

    “The fact of the matter is that the United States would benefit hugely from a quick and overwhelmingly one-sided war against ISIS”

    the second war in Iraq was supposed to be “quick and overwhelmingly one-sided.” and all it did was create ISIS. I don’t understand why people can’t learn that our meddling in other regions does more harm than good. We armed Afghanis to fight the Soviet Union, and Al Qaeda rose from those ashes. We propped up Saddam Hussein against Iran, and watched him become an invader. Then we decided we had to get rid of him, and the region’s totally de-stabilized.

    Is the problem that we just didn’t do it hard enough? ‘cos I’m really struggling to see how we can take the moral high ground here. “Creating our own enemies” might be good for one particular sector of our economy, but the downsides affect more than just this country.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I think the problem was that we were trying to nation-build.

      Wars are always good for the economy, as long as you’re on the winning side.

      Trying to stick around and teach people how to live their lives… that’s a losing proposition.

      • jz78817

        The only reasons we tried “nation building” in the first place is because we blew the nations they had to smithereens. If you can’t fix it/buy it, it’s better not to break it in the first place.

        “Trying to stick around and teach people how to live their lives”

        I’m not comfortable with the idea that it’s our place to “teach” other countries how to live. Colonialism should have been allowed to die with the British Empire.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          I agree, but the seductive thing about “nation-building” is that it’s how the Pax Americana was made. MacArthur was “nation-building” in Japan. Marshall was “nation-building” in Europe.

          • jz78817

            accepted, but the key differences then were:

            – WWII* was a conflict of the size and kind that (God willing) will never happen again
            – WWII* was fought amongst a number of nations, not just the US barging in with the UK helping here and there,
            – One key facet of the Marshall Plan was not repeating the mistakes of the Treaty of Versailles; the stipulations of that treaty effectively grinding Germany’s nose into the dirt and sowing the seeds of Hitler’s rise
            – (most importantly) Europe and Japan needed and wanted our help in rebuilding. And since (apart from Pearl Harbor) we hadn’t had our shit bombed into smithereens, we were well equipped to do so. We had all of that manufacturing might left over from wartime production to build not only what we needed here, but what Europe and Japan needed as well.

            Of course, then you can take the point of view that rebuilding Japan was a little too successful, as they pretty efficiently displaced us in our then-strongest industries.

            * I’m coming around to the viewpoint that WWI and WWII were not really separate wars, just one war with a 20 year cease-fire.

          • Rock36

            I’d add more to the point JZ78817 makes about Japan and Germany needing and wanting our help, because it is a bit of an oversimplification in my view.

            Germany and Japan were countries that needed to be “rebuilt” rather than “built”. For a long time they both were already industrial and economic powers in their own right. Aside from the shift in their governments towards Democracy, the culture and collective experience of those nations generally well-supported what we wanted them to become; western deomcratic, industrialized, and capitalist. Even then, the Germans did have at least some flawed experience with democracy prior to Hitler’s rise, so the concept was not completely foreign to them. They needed and wanted our help because in many ways it was a return to Germany and Japan’s pre-war states with post-war national interests that were now more in-line with ours.

            Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya just don’t fit those same molds period. Nation building in the Middle East is simply not analagous to nation rebuilding post WWII.

      • Yamahog

        “Wars are always good for the economy, as long as you’re on the winning side.”

        The consensus opinion among economists (take that how you will) is that the war in Vietnam contributed to the inflation of the early 70s. The economy was at full capacity making non-war items and it took oodles of cash to get people to make war material and then everyone who wanted to buy something had to throw more money at the producers to get it built and suddenly we had way more money chasing the same amount of production (and some energy shocks along the way).

        Regardless of whether Vietnam was a war and whether we won (two ideological points) the seeds of inflation were sowed by 68/69 and would have bloomed into inflation regardless of whether we would have ‘won’ vietnam.

        War can increase aggregate demand but it’s not the most productive use of resources, and economic problems aren’t always on the demand side.

        Nice article though. You don’t see too many Samuel Johnson references, which are bold references make in an article that broadly defends America – a nation he derided in one of the greatest smackdowns of all time “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”
        Taxation No Tyranny (1775).

  4. Hank Chinaski

    “kleptocracies where a select group of very wealthy and powerful people make the decisions and a billion proles do what they’re told,”
    That’s where I fear the US is headed.

    Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

    • Patrick

      … but only slightly less well-known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

      • VolandoBajo

        I learned from Sicilian friends, as well as from several sociologists who wrote about Sicilian history, that when you go against a Sicilian, death is always on the line.

        One old Sicilian fisherman who appeared in a beautiful coffee table picture book of Sicily was quoted as saying that mafia is not just an organization, it is a state of mind…not to suffer so much as a fly landing on your nose.

        It may sound crude and superficial to some, but if you think carefully about it, it is really about a code of honor in a society that depended on its tribal unity to defend itself against centuries of European invasion and exploitation.

        Not to suffer so much as a fly to land on your nose…that is the kind of man I would want to have my back, should the fit hit the shan.

  5. Rob

    Wow. I used to run into Petes occasionally before I moved back down south. Can’t say I miss being lectured by Canadians on non-poutine-related topics. I found a YT video and he does appear to be a native English speaker, so there’s no excuse for writing that poorly.
    For him to suggest that tools don’t fundamentally change behavior is to suggest that obesity was also a problem for Neanderthals, or that students today don’t plagiarize more (easily) than they did 30 years ago, or that “Murderball” could have been possible in the 1870’s.

  6. Disinterested-Observer

    I still think that dude is a piece of shit. I forgot who he was and unfortunately gave him three clicks before I remembered.

  7. Pseudoperson Randomian

    I’m a little confused.

    Aren’t 2 of the four countries in BRIC functioning democracies? I can’t say their democracies are any worse than the US, AFAIK. Things get done only when the voters get really mad, like in Brazil, but that’s nothing new, even in the US. See:2016 election.

    Neither of those democracies has any real issues with the US, and one of which has border disputes with China and has fought a war over it. They aren’t expansionist either, unlike China and Russia. So it’s not like everyone is teaming up against the west. Hell, I’m more interested in where Australia’s loyalties lie considering pew polls show that a majority there believes that China has or will overtake the US.

    Actually, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say at all. What does any of that have to do with technology accelerated change in social mores, nutty Yale students complaining about Halloween costumes and tinder letting people fuck around a lot more? There are always nutty hippies in every generation, who think free love and playing music to ISIS will solve everything.

    Honestly, foreign policies under Bush and Obama have been remarkably similar – the real difference being in the words they use because they need their base to like them.

    • Mopar4wd

      I have to agree on Australia. I get reports about the China island building weekly from some of my work news subscriptions (Marine transport related), some have links to stories in Pacific island, Asian and Australian news media. From what I can tell the Aussies have become very close to China over the last 15 years, to the point that their economy would likely collapse at China’s will. This and an increased presence of Asian news media there has seemed to push their general population in favor of China in our little upcoming feud, where as the government and military officials seems still very pro America. I’m curious how that will play out.

    • VolandoBajo

      Do, pray tell, tell me which two BRIC governments are functioning (and by extension presumably functional) democracies?

      I have to think that R&C are easy cross-outs, but what about India? Do you think your life is worth a plug nickel in several Indian states if you are not a Hindu? Hardly a democratic society there…

      Then there is Brasil, an oligarchy/kleptocracy of the first order, doing well what Maduro does so poorly in Venezuela.

      I have friends who live outside of Sao Paolo. He is native to the US, she to Brazil. They are scared to go downtown, especially but not exclusively at night, because the crime is an order of magnitude or more worse than the worst places in the US.

      And don’t even think about starting up an opposition political party.

      I’d say all four BRIC countries fail worse than here, though our present “make up your own rules” President is striving to drive our score down rapidly, to where one can understand why Putin seems to have a smug attitude of superiority.

      If we keep on ignoring the threat of terrorism in our PC-flight to show how liberal we are, we will soon be at a point where democracy will crumble around us.

      The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. And the price of tyranny is to pander to stuffing the ballot box with new voters while ignoring the threat of bringing in new citizens whose sworn goal is to destroy us.

      Go ahead, flame on. My Nomex is in good shape.

      For those of you who think I am a troglodyte, behind my time, check back with me in ten years, and we will see who’s ahead and who’s behind (when you go your way and I go mine…apologies to Mr. Dylan…when we can look back to see who was right and who was wrong.)

      Democracy, and/or constitutional republicanism is in deep hockey pretty much all over the world, though I am sure that there may be some smaller examples of it that are still in relatively good health. But on the macro scale, society is standing on the side of a slippery slope.

      • Ark-med

        “Democracy, and/or constitutional republicanism is in deep hockey pretty much all over the world.”

        This is true. Democratic/ constitutional-republic free states are anomalous in the history of the peopled world. Wherever such an outlier state successfully emerges, it devolves through vitiation from libertine-hedonism-induced character erosion of the generations following those who spilt blood for the endeavour. The comfortable offspring of the fighter generation are unfamiliar with conflict, unequipped with the education and imagination to accept that a far rougher world exists outside their once-well-guarded borders. This ignorance weakens, or erases, any resolve to fight off invasion (demographic or military) by those with a more totalitarian memetic makeup. The paradox is that the invaders are attracted by the very same leisurely lifestyle they then undermine through implementation of their totalitarian roots, viz., shariah.

        At this slippery slope — nay, precipice — stand we.

  8. Mopar4wd

    Were starting to build more of those subs too. Ohio class Replacements will be up and running in a little over a decade.

  9. Ryan

    I haven’t had the time over the past few weeks to physically sit behind a computer and respond to any of your blog posts, despite my superfluous Twitter activity during work hours. Rather than comment on each one individually, I’ll throw my $0.02 down here. It’s all loosely connected anyway. This might be a bit lengthy, so I apologize in advance.
    – I’ve lived less than 5 miles from Canada at any point in my life. I still don’t understand the superiority that they seem to feel in regards to geopolitics. It’s almost as though the majority of Canadians are unaware that their economy had a direct relation to ours. A booming wartime economy pays dividends across the board. I’ll overlook their ignorance the same way they seem to overlook the fact that the Canadian government has been a staunch ally in the GWOT and “adventures” prior.
    – I actually deleted Tinder last month. As a mating market, Detroit is in the shitter. I’ve gone on a few dozen Tinder dates within the past year. That includes the suburbs, downtown, Toledo, and Ann Arbor. I tried an experiment last summer, running two accounts.
    My first account was very conservative. The pictures were me in a suit with friends at a wedding, dressed for a work fundraiser at the RenCen, holding a baby, petting a dog, and volunteering at a church. The bio was written to showcase the face I wear in my “professional” life, a Mid-20s male who has his shit together and is looking for an “activity partner interested in brunch, sushi, and spontaneous visits to the zoo.” This guy got a lot of responses and went out on quite a few dates with some very nice girls.
    The second account was the complete opposite. Most pictures were me with another woman, with the Mustang or Z06, at the bar, or doing something “outdoorsy.” I don’t think any picture featured me wearing anything other than some form of plain black T shirt and a pair of dark raw jeans (what I wear most days). The bio listed that I was 6’4″ and “only willing to meet your mother if she is into younger guys.” This guy’s matches were a lot more interesting. He either matched with what I would classify as lower-tier woman, or ones that were more comfortable with their position in life. His matches were 1/2 the amount of the other account. Only a handful of those were ones that I would actually be willing to meet up with. Unlike the “other” Ryan, this one hooked up with the majority of these girls on the first date.
    I’ve discussed this with friends and colleagues lately, and I’m not the only one that noticed this. While most mid-20s women in the area want to be independent, they are still buying into the middle-class rust belt lifestyle. They seem to have all bought into this narrative that they’re going to get married after college to some guy who will bend over backwards to provide a lifestyle only portrayed on TV. They’ll all cry loudly about how “independent” and empowered they are. But as with any point in history, they will normally attempt to latch onto the first man that they can get their hands on. This allows the man to seemingly have freedom of choice in whom he “dates,” but it is foiled in that a lot of women are seemingly trying to tie him down. I use man very deliberately here. I’m speaking of man in the that you or I would define a man, I don’t feel that we need to dive further into that definition.
    By early April, I had only the second account running. When I ended up in NYC a few weeks later, my phone was blowing up with matches. I understand that I was on NYU’s campus, but the women interested in me ranged from recent High School graduates to early 30s professionals. If I didn’t already have a flight booked for that afternoon, I can almost guarantee that I would’ve found a place to stay that night. It was quite an eye-opener.
    – I saw a show at the Newport last year. My ex bought us tickets to see The Gaslight Anthem close out their spring tour in March. It was one of the last shows they played before their hiatus/breakup. Other than being full of obnoxious college kids drunk off of smuggled beer, I thought it was a pretty decent venue. The attached Waffle House was a lifesaver after a night of drinking as though we were in college again.
    I actually owe a lot to that trip. At one point, I would have told you that I was going to marry that girl. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I almost fell into the same “trap” as the one I explained above. That weekend in Columbus changed everything. I’d even go as far as to attribute it to part of why I decided to head back to school and peruse my graduate degree.
    She’s a great girl, but her expectations are completely unrealistic. When we met, I hadn’t been in a committed relationship since 20. I was now 25, but still dating girls 3-5 years my senior. She was no exception. In a previous life, she had traveled to Europe solo. She was an Au Pair in Germany, played in a band, and carried herself in a manner you don’t see on many 20-somethings. It was attractive.
    6 months earlier, I was living alone in a flat. My best friend/roommate had recently gotten married and moved to Raleigh (later Florida). I was shopping for a Townhouse in Detroit, or on the River in Wyandotte. I had a few girls that I would see regularly, and pretty much did whatever I wanted. No more hanging out with my sister and her sorority at college. No more weekends riding the dirtbikes or snowmobiling in the UP. No more late nights cruising Woodward with my friends. I even moved back home with my parents when the lease on our flat ran out, as I was going to move in with her until I settled on a new place for the two of us.
    I’m not going to deny the fact that I had a little bit of a reputation. She accused me of cheating. I blamed her insecurities, but she wasn’t completely incorrect. My best friend’s ex was working in Germany. I hadn’t seen her in at least 8 months. While there was nothing physical between us, the emotional relationship has been going on for years. She came home a month before I ended this relationship, I took her out the night after I left my ex.
    My ex had no taste; she lacked any semblance of style. Her clothes are whatever she deemed “cute,” with no cohesiveness whatsoever. She didn’t give a fuck about good food. I had ate McDonald’s with her more than I had in any point in my past. Vacations were not happening, unless it was a “family” trip with her family (sisters, brother in law, occasional mom).
    While I liked the band, I had initially gotten into The Gaslight Anthem to impress another woman. She was one of the ones that I stopped talking to once I entered into a relationship. I actually had the balls once to invite them both to the bar “as friends” on a Saturday night. To say that they knew about each other was an understatement. I didn’t dare mention to my girlfriend how they became my favorite band.
    Outside of the show, our trip was complete shit. She refused to stay in a decent hotel, claiming “drinking and having sex in a nice hotel for one night is a waste of money.” I rented an apartment in the Short North courtesy of Airbnb. It was clean, but not the type of accommodations that I’m used to.
    We went out for sushi, saw the show, and generally had a good time. I believed the weekend to be salvageable when I took her to Lindey’s for brunch the next morning. The complaints started again. Apparently, I was “too pretentious” for taking her to a nice place to eat. We spoke no more than a dozen words during the ride home, only discussing whether or not she wanted to stop at Kuhn’s for some candy.
    I was pretty much done after that. We were still together for a few more months, but saying that I was distant is an understatement. After a night with my best friend at Starlett’s down in Ft. Lauderdale, I woke up on the floor or our room at the Westin. I realized that I wasn’t ready to give up on this life. Not now, and especially not for this girl.
    The woman that introduced me to that band was leaving for the Air Force in a few weekends and invited me to her sendoff. We’ve stayed in contact since, and I’m actually driving to Carolina to meet her in July. We’re renting a beach house and I’m having one last hurrah before I descend back into student hood and (relative) poverty.
    – Your story of King’s Island brought me straight back to my childhood. One of my fondest memories is when my parents took me there at the age of 4. Do they still take your picture upon entrance to the park and give you one of those odd monocular things with the picture in it? I still have ours in my nightstand. Equally as cool was when my dad took me to Wright-Patterson a few days prior. I haven’t been there in 20 years, but it might be something the two of you would enjoy checking out together.

    I know I’ve said this before, but your stories about fatherhood remind me a lot about the relationship I had with my dad growing up. He busted his ass to pay for me to play hockey and ride dirtbikes. During my entire hockey career, he barely missed a handful of games. Even at 26, he’s my biggest supporter and best friend. When I was offered my current job, he never gave me any resistance in regards to school taking a backseat to a lucrative career. When I decided to fully move back home, he welcomed me with open arms. In March, when I decided to quit work and go back to school full time to expedite my grad degree, he offered to help me in any way possible.

    I fully believe that a lot of the problem with the current generation of males is related to the lack of father figures and strong role models. The way my father raised me is very much unlike a lot of my peers. It’s no surprise to many that I march to the beat of a different drum when compared to others of my generation. It makes me happy to see that there are still some shameless “real” dads out there.

    – On a side note, I’d like to thank you for continuing with this blog. It was your writing on SSL that initially roped me in. As I grow older, I appreciate a lot of the more personal things you post here. The internet is flooded with automobile content, but very rarely do you come across something as good as this place. It may be a case of confirmation bias (we seem to agree with a lot of things politically and socially), but it’s good to know that there are still real people out there. Keep up the good work.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Responding (too) quickly, just because I’m at work:

      * I’m kind of jealous of your BAD RYAN tinder profile 🙂

      * Kings Island will still take your picture on the way in. John and I skipped around that and took our own photo in front of the faux-Eiffel tower. When we went to Cedar Point together last year though, I bought the photo.

      * Your dad sounds like somebody for me to emulate. Thank you.

      * Maybe I just think the Newport sucks because I’m old…

      • Ryan

        It’s not too quick. To be honest, I’m still unsure why I felt inclined to bang out a 2000 word response.

        The Tinder thing was an interesting experiment. I should have approached it differently and actually kept a record of what transpired so I had empirical data to back it up. I might try something similar when I head back to college in September. It will certainly be an interesting experience.

  10. Baconator

    “Feelsville navel-gazing and electronic Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy and casual sex.”

    I’ve done business in probably a dozen countries in the past two years: Ex-US is even more obsessed with electronic Bumble-Puppy and casual sex than we are in America. Phones and fucking make the economy go round right now, and I expect the latter will continue to drive it long after I’m dead.

    It’s the Feelsville navel-gazing that is pretty unique to the US right now.

  11. agent00F

    The simple reason why certain portions of the pop see domestic economic failure is because their wages are drastically overpriced relative to BRIC countries, or similar ones like Japan in the past. These are people who believed the country’s financial wealth predicated on hegemony would trickle down to them, when there is no such economic law governing the charity of those above them.

    The most successful businessmen are not jingoists predisposed to preferential treatment for those like themselves unless there’s an opportunistic dollar to be had from nationalism or whatever, as might be the case here. There’s certainly a lot of money in building bombs (or border security), and Trump panders a lot to military/crime&punishment tough guys. As mentioned, there’s also $ in low cost labor, so the “invasion of mexico” is really a battle between those monied interests rather than faintheartedness, since americans evidently weren’t concerned much about ~1M dead Iraqis and I doubt mexicans rank higher.

    As to tools changing us, most certainly better ones like said bombs change the size of outcomes, but this Dushenski guys is largely correct that it doesn’t change the psychology of motivations, like support for strongmen leaders, etc.


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