29 Sep 2016

The Hermeneutics of the Expensive Watch

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rolex

Matt Meltzer wore expensive watches (rented from this company) on several different occasions, and found that people treated him “wayyy differently.”

Many long years ago, an art dealer friend from Yale asked me to accompany him to look at a collection, pretending to be a wealthy interested collector. (I forget exactly why bringing along a ringer was desirable.) Before we departed for the meeting, my fashion-plate art dealer friend looked me over, decided my contemptibly ordinary Tissot wristwatch would never do, and hurriedly lent me a solid-gold Corum to wear.

My poor old Tissot finally died of old age, I replaced it, and the next one died as well after about a year. I bought a Timex, but I didn’t much like it, and it died even quicker. Going to a watch dealer to get new batteries put in constantly seemed to be a nuisance, so I decided finally to buy a better, more durable watch. I was also really sick of scratching watch crystals and needing to get them replaced. An expensive watch commonly has a practically-indestructible artificial sapphire crystal.

My choice (pictured above) was perhaps boringly conventional. I bought the gold-and-steel version of the Rolex DateJust with the Jubilee band.

Rolexes are sport watches, which you can wear doing manual labor and outdoor sports. The gold raises the watch’s formality just enough that the same watch is also perfectly appropriate for formal evening wear. With this model, one only needs one watch.

Once I started wearing my Rolex, I began noticing covert wrist glances from other people at business meetings and social occasions, and before long I found myself also taking other peoples’ wristwatches as a strong clue to each individual’s professional and social level, overall affluence, and adult sophistication. Wear that Rolex or Girard Perregaux, and you will catch new acquaintances making small facial expressions of approval after that covert questioning glance at your left wrist.

When you reach a certain point of middle-age, not owning a real watch, i.e. an expensive name brand watch, tends to suggest that you have never at any one time had a whole bunch of free cash and/or that you are some kind of Puritanical hippy with an ideological thing about high-end consumerism.

Pari passu, wearing too complicated a watch tends to make your viewing audience suspect that you are a Walter-Mitty fighter pilot/racing driver wannabee. Wearing a truly hideously expensive watch avec complications tells people you are a deranged watch collector who probably has a hedge fund. A watch is a form of self-expression that requires some exercise of personal judgement and taste.

I must confess, though: Watch prices have gone up so much that I would never ever buy my Rolex today.

29 Sep 2016

My New Favorite Charity

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deathwish

Chris O’Brian:

I think they should have a charity where very sick kids get to walk around armed and get to be vigilantes and blow away criminals.

It could be called the Make A Death Wish Foundation.

29 Sep 2016

Hard Reboot Needed

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usreboot

28 Sep 2016

Tweet of the Day

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tweet198

Hat tip to Don Surber.

Of course, Trump came across as the spoiled rich kid who couldn’t be bothered to study and whose parents will wind up sending him to military school.

28 Sep 2016

Prepared

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defendstalingrad

28 Sep 2016

Malfeasance of the Ruling Class Produced 2016 Election

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cole_thomas_the_course_of_e
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1833-1836, New York Historical Society.

In Claremont Review, Angelo M. Codevilla describes how “the malfeasance of our ruling class” has transformed America and brought us to the point of this year’s disgraceful presidential election.

in today’s America, those in power basically do what they please. Executive orders, phone calls, and the right judge mean a lot more than laws. They even trump state referenda. Over the past half-century, presidents have ruled not by enforcing laws but increasingly through agencies that write their own rules, interpret them, and punish unaccountably—the administrative state. As for the Supreme Court, the American people have seen it invent rights where there were none—e.g., abortion—while trammeling ones that had been the republic’s spine, such as the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. The Court taught Americans that the word “public” can mean “private” (Kelo v. City of New London), that “penalty” can mean “tax” (King v. Burwell), and that holding an opinion contrary to its own can only be due to an “irrational animus” (Obergefell v. Hodges).

What goes by the name “constitutional law” has been eclipsing the U.S. Constitution for a long time. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act substituted a wholly open-ended mandate to oppose “discrimination” for any and all fundamental rights, it became the little law that ate the Constitution. Now, because the Act pretended that the commerce clause trumps the freedom of persons to associate or not with whomever they wish, and is being taken to mean that it trumps the free exercise of religion as well, bakers and photographers are forced to take part in homosexual weddings. A commission in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported that even a church may be forced to operate its bathrooms according to gender self-identification because it “could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.” California came very close to mandating that Catholic schools admit homosexual and transgender students or close down. The Justice Department is studying how to prosecute on-line transactions such as vacation home rental site Airbnb, Inc., that fall afoul of its evolving anti-discrimination standards. …

No one running for the GOP nomination discussed the greatest violation of popular government’s norms—never mind the Constitution—to have occurred in two hundred years, namely, the practice, agreed upon by mainstream Republicans and Democrats, of rolling all of the government’s expenditures into a single bill. This eliminates elected officials’ responsibility for any of the government’s actions, and reduces them either to approving all that the government does without reservation, or the allegedly revolutionary, disloyal act of “shutting down the government.” …

The ruling class having chosen raw power over law and persuasion, the American people reasonably concluded that raw power is the only way to counter it, and looked for candidates who would do that. Hence, even constitutional scholar Ted Cruz stopped talking about the constitutional implications of President Obama’s actions after polls told him that the public was more interested in what he would do to reverse them, niceties notwithstanding. Had Cruz become the main alternative to the Democratic Party’s dominion, the American people might have been presented with the option of reverting to the rule of law. But that did not happen. Both of the choices before us presuppose force, not law. …

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.

And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America. Not so long ago, the way to make it here was to start a business that satisfied customers’ needs better than before. Nowadays, more businesses die each year than are started. In this century, all net additions in employment have come from the country’s 1,500 largest corporations. Rent-seeking through influence on regulations is the path to wealth. In the professions, competitive exams were the key to entry and advancement not so long ago. Now, you have to make yourself acceptable to your superiors. More important, judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes”—possessed of special privileges and immunities—and everybody else. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories. Co-option is the path to power. Ever wonder why the quality of our leaders has been declining with each successive generation?

A must read.

27 Sep 2016

Men Without Women

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mgtow

Britain (and presumably America) have apparently developed and equivalent of Japan’s Herbivore Men who refuse to marry or seek sexual relationships with women. (The Independent)

[T]ens of thousands of men have formed a real-life online community called MGTOW, or Men Going Their Own Way.

Their first rule? Abandoning all romantic relationships with women.

On Reddit alone, some 15,000 readers are subscribed to the MGTOW page which declares it is for “men going our own way by forging our own identities and paths to self-defined success; cutting through collective ideas of what a man is.”

Other websites including MGTOW.com are also dedicated to what they see as each man’s fight for sovereignty of himself. And despite their hatred for women, homosexuality isn’t accepted, either.

Posts on the Reddit page offer an insight into their world: They range from worrying that future sex bots will be hacked by central government, to encouraging men to divorce their wives. They also debate how “even men in Hollywood” are “cuckolded” and wronged by women.

Others discuss the merits of visiting prostitutes, and how pop songs are feminist propaganda. The more you scroll, the darker it becomes.

One recent post described how women “fake orgasms often, because it makes men more submissive”. Another talked of “ditching” his “blue pill friends.” Others proudly declare that they are still virgins.

Read the whole thing.

It’s obviously another of those weird millennial things.

27 Sep 2016

Putting It in Harry Potter Terms

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politicalsituation

27 Sep 2016

Tweet of the Day

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tweet197

27 Sep 2016

“As Faulkner Lay Drinking”

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williamfaulkner
Philip Greene memorializes the great man’s treasured relationship with the bottle.

“There is no such thing as bad whiskey,” Faulkner once reasoned. “Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty; then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.”

Indeed, the man loved his whiskey. Too much. It became a muse and a constant writing companion. In 1937, he explained his method to his French translator Maurice Edgar Coindreau: “You see, I usually write at night. I always keep my whiskey within reach; so many ideas that I can’t remember in the morning pop into my head.”

To some of his critics (not to mention his rivals), this method was a double-edged sword. During an interview with Hemingway during the mid-1950s, when he was asked if he made himself a pitcher of Martinis before each writing session, Hemingway snorted, “Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes—and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one.”

Faulkner did say that “civilization begins with distillation;” perhaps his writing sessions did, too. He was known to go on long drinking binges where he would lock himself into, say, a hotel room and drink for days straight. While booze may have been Faulkner’s inspiration, it surely took a toll on his health and years off his life. During a 1937 visit to the Algonquin Hotel in New York, after a days-long bender, he passed out against a steam radiator and severely burned his back. He took the unfortunate incident with his typical sense of humor. His friend Bennett Cerf, one of the founders of book publisher Random House, chastised him: “Bill, aren’t you ashamed of yourself? You come up here for your first vacation in five years and you spend the whole time in the hospital.” Faulkner quietly replied, “Bennett, it was my vacation.”

Read the whole thing.

27 Sep 2016

“American Colonoscopy”

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firstdebate

Erick Erickson, like the rest of us, found the first presidential debate a painful and unseemly experience, endured without anesthetic.

Holt had an entire section of the debate dedicated to cybersecurity and let Donald Trump take the business to Hillary Clinton over her emails. Except Trump did not. Yes, there was a specific question about Clinton’s emails earlier in the debate, but Holt set it up perfectly for Trump to take on hacking and security of her emails and Trump repeatedly failed to litigate the issue.

For her part, Clinton failed miserably to build the case against Trump about stiffing middle class workers. She tried, but she did a very poor job of it. It came across flat and emotionless. But, like John Kasich, we now know her father’s occupation.

Trump came across stronger in the beginning, but as the night went on he yelled more and more. He interrupted more and more. He was more and more off putting and annoying. All Clinton had to do was smile and laugh at him.

The Clinton criticism of Trump turned out to be true. She repeatedly baited him and Trump took the bait every single time. He hurt himself on the issue of his taxes and then set himself on fire with the birther issue. Clinton, however, never knew when to shut up. She was the Neil deGrasse Tyson of politics, taking the joy out of Christmas songs by too much needless and boring exposition.

At the end of the night, Clinton outperformed Trump only because she came across as less angry.

26 Sep 2016

Seattle Sign

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makeamericagrate

Hat tip to Paul Rahe.

26 Sep 2016

Racial Politics in Chicago and Crime

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chicagoshootingmap

Black people are always shooting one another in Chicago, thousands of times a year in their own neighborhoods. The numbers get into the papers and the level of violence is mentioned on the news.

Late last year, the Obama Department of Justice began investigating Chicago Police treatment of criminal class blacks.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the creation last December 1st of a Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, which predictably issued a blistering report finding that the cats were hostile toward rats and mice and prone to treat them roughly.

So, the Chicago Police, long noted for their toughness, have obviously been obliged to take a step back and avoid provoking complaints from the urban underclass population.

Whoever could have imagined that the next thing we read in the papers would be the shooting death of middle-aged white Chicagoan at what would previously have been considered a location totally safe from street crime in the very heart of downtown Chicago?

Jeffrey Carter, a blogger and upper middle-class resident of downtown Chicago, was naturally shocked and alarmed.

Yesterday, we drove back from Minnesota. As I pulled down Wabash an unmarked police car raced down the street in front of me. A policeman got out, left the door to his car open, and drew his gun. He started running.

We wheeled our way into our garage. There were police cars all over Michigan Avenue. That’s where the shooting was.

Turns out, a person on a bicycle shot a person walking on the sidewalk at Millennium Park. You hear a lot of stories about the violence in Chicago. Most of it is contained in one area of the city, not close to where you and your family would be if they were here.

This looks to be a random act of violence, not a gang crime or terrorism. No law in the world would have stopped it.

My neighborhood has the usual city crime. It has a lot of it-but it’s crimes of opportunity. Shoplifting. Stealing personal items from people. Small time robbery. Never shootings. There are bums on every street corner panhandling and many of them have gotten very belligerent. I saw that they are having similar problems in New York City. I have seen the same people panhandling in the same spots for years and years and years. …

The police force in Chicago is overtaxed. They are under assault from independent groups, and from politicians. Certainly, there are some bad apples and they can be taken care of. But, it feels like it’s a part of a much broader organized top down movement. Many of the arrests in Charlotte, NC were not local people. They were imported from out of state. No doubt, it’s because North Carolina is a state in political play. I noticed there were no protests in Oklahoma.

The shootings that go on in other neighborhoods are part of a broader gang war. If the US would change drug policy, the violence would decrease. Milton Friedman was right about the War on Drugs. There is only so much a city government can do to stop that kind of violence, although very liberal gun laws might help. Changing educational policy to allow for school choice would help. Lowering minimum wage and mandatory union laws so people could have better opportunities to find work would help.

Politicians say they want to do something-but their solutions are always the same. More laws, more regulations, higher taxes. At the same time, the gang leaders help them get out the vote, so there is little incentive to change when politicians are just interested in power and not helping the electorate.

If you lose the lakefront and the Loop, you will lose Chicago. My wife and I have always said, upper middle class and wealthy people will put up with a lot to live in a city. They’ll pay taxes to a point and absorb the increased cost, to a point. It is convenient and all the things that come with city living are great. But, as soon as they don’t feel secure, they are out.

We haven’t reached that tipping point, but that’s the way momentum is going right now.

The shooting victim, Peter Fabbri age 54, died on Sunday. (Chicago Tribune)

Chicago is a one-party city, and its democrat rulers are dependent on votes from minorities. If those pols continue to represent preferentially that particular constituency and to address its grievances, Chicago police will continue to be handcuffed, crime will increase dramatically and violent crime will expand into good neighborhoods. The inevitable consequence will be white flight, the collapse of commerce and real estate values, and the transformation of Chicago into Detroit.

26 Sep 2016

Today’s Politics All About the Culture Wars

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smugliberals

Tim Black argues that choice of life-style has become politicized which in turn has inflamed politics.

In one of his last speeches as Labour leader in 2006, [Tony] Blair said that the new debate in politics was not left against right, but ‘open vs closed’ – openness to immigration, to diversity, and so on. And he was right. Politics has been waged as a war on those with supposedly ‘closed’ minds, those who ‘cling’ to older traditions and rituals, those who, in the case of Brexit, prefer a national democracy to a transnational oligarchy. And this year, the ‘closed’ fought back.

But there’s something else, too. Not only has culture been completely politicised, and turned into an object of public contestation; politics has also become culturalised, aestheticised. It has been turned into a way of expressing oneself, of marking one’s distinction to others, of showcasing one’s superior political taste – a question, as one Guardian journalist put it, of ‘who we are’. Being political today – whether that involves expressing one’s feminism, or proudly proclaiming ‘black lives matter’ – has become a way of saying something determinate not about the world, but about oneself, and, in the process, negating others. Conservative lettrist Joseph Epstein calls this new political type ‘the virtucrat’ – ‘the new prig… [who] will nail you for not having his opinion on Israel or the environment’. He is ‘a moral snob’, Epstein continues; ‘not only is he smug about the righteousness of his views but he imputes bad faith to anyone who doesn’t share them’.

And this is a profound problem. The aestheticisation of politics, the emergence of an intense political snobbery, lends debate an intractable, compromise-defying quality. It comes to appear not just as a conflict between utterly incompatible ways of life, but also as an intensely personal conflict, where arguments take the form of personal insults, and electoral defeats are experienced as personal affronts. In the strangely emotional reaction of Remainers to the referendum result, which included vituperative columns about racists in our midst, public tears and, absurdly, post-vote marches, one can see the the flipside of the polticisation of culture and lifestyle; the stylisation of politics, its mutation into a means not of winning the support of others, but of asserting their inferiority, of casting their lives into arbitrariness.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Matthias Storme.

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