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24

I made this list not out of snark or spite, but because it has rained all day, rained, even, on me as I took my walk, which I cut short, and because I have been making notes for months, and now seemed as good a time as any.

I had a long intro for this, hearkening back to grad school and people using terms they thought others knew and probably others did know but maybe not, and argots, and random musings, but I'll spare you.

These are words or terms I've seen in my many months here that I didn't know, or did know but didn't put together with their meaning. I am linking specific posts to where they were used, though these I found by doing a hard-search and are not necessarily the posts where I first saw the word/term. Any mistakes or misrepresentations are my fault. I hope this is helpful to others among us who are sometimes as confused as I am. Probably many of you know all these and must imagine me very old to post this. So be it.

If you recognize yourself as the author, I am not intending to be snide, or criticize your post. You just got lucky.

Edit: Many of these are probably going to need to be updated and tweaked. Feel free to add comments.

Let's start with the biggie:

asabiyyah: a concept of social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness, and a sense of shared purpose and social cohesion.

ex: “I don't think democracy, in itself, will help you maintain Asabiyyah any more than theocracy will, or vice versa.”

Bagdhad Bob: When war propaganda becomes so out of touch with reality it turns comedic and achieves the opposite of the desired effect. It is said such propaganda is "Baghdad Bobbed" exactly at the moment when this threshold is crossed. From Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraqi War Information Minister in 2003.

ex: "In such a scenario, this is a very strong way to build a reputation for accuracy, and counter what seems like an emerging narrative even in the West that the Ukrainian government may be Baghdad Bobbing (I've seen a lot of palpable irritation about Zelenskiy's recent implausibly low figure for Ukrainian casualties, and before that the stories like the Kramatorsk air defence accident already strained the relationship)."

Baumol’s Cost Disease: From the late William Baumol, NYU’s Stern School of Business. used to explain why prices for the services offered by people-dependent professions with low productivity growth—such as (arguably) education, health care, and the arts—keep going up, even though the amount of goods and services each worker in those industries generates hasn’t necessarily done the same.

"This is Baumol's cost disease in a nutshell."

Note: @jeroboam helpfully linked a Wiki page in this instance.

Chesterton’s fence: rule of thumb that suggests that you should never destroy a fence, change a rule, or do away with a tradition until you understand why it's there in the first place

"So if you really believe that reality is created by our beliefs then this is a massive Chesterton's Fence."

consent à outrance: From the French. Suggests an agreement or consent that is given fully and without reservation, sometimes to the point of being excessive or without consideration of the consequences.

“It brings to mind feminist consent-a-outrance ideas, where second-to-second affirmative consent in the presence of a notary is the current-year standard for wholesome sex.”

CRT: Critical Race Theory.

"…CRT, BLM, Gays and Abortion, which between them comprise the majority of Social Justice's most visible ideological commitments."

DRM: (I saw it used as a verb but have no link because I can no longer find it). Digital Righs Management. Presumably restricting the ways in which content (music, whatever) can be used, copied, or distributed.

Dunbar-limited world: Reference to Robin Dunbar, biological anthropologist. The “Dunbar Number” is the upper limit on the number of social relationships a human can effectively manage. (I believe it is supposed to be 150.)

"When it comes to physical goods, proprietary knowledge, or genuinely clandestine information in a Dunbar-limited world, these concerns basically make sense."

Einsatzgruppen: : From the German. Actually, a German word. These were “mobile killing units,” best known for their role in the murder of Jews in mass shooting operations during the Holocaust.

"Seems to me large parts of the military were involved in it, or otherwise 'pacifying' to allow the einsatzgruppen to do their work."

Euthyphro: : A “straight-thinker.” A combination of εὐθύς (euthys), which means straight or direct and φρονέω (phroneô) which means to think or to reason.

"We can Euthyphro this all day but even setting aside questions of the One True Good, the loss of that external nudge has been disastrous."

NB: Alternate definition here.

Frasurbane: portmanteau of the sitcom Frasier and urbane, is the wonderfully specific aesthetic of late '90s interiors of people who want to come across as sophisticated and worldly.

“As a Frasurbane adult, I take edibles with my wife and go to a nice dinner and La Boheme and I think that is a just-fine thing to do.”

HBD: If you do not know what this means, that’s weird, because it is almost a theme here. Human Biodiversity. Some here swear by its truth, others do not swear by it but expect it’s real, others think it’s dubious. Too many instances to choose from.

lolcow : A person whose eccentric or foolish behaviour can be exploited to amuse onlookers.

“I suspect that a trans movement capable of producing activists that leave kiwifarms alone also would not produce so many lolcows.”

idpol: abbreviation based on identity politics is politics based on a particular identity, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social background, caste, etc.

"We’re barely or not even a year removed from when the race-card was (successfully) played to agitate for Embiid getting the MVP instead of Jokic, to essentially zero pushback on the idpol front."

If-by-whiskey: If-by-whiskey is a type of argument that supports both sides of a topic by employing terminology that is selectively emotionally sensitive. Originates from a speech given by Mississippi state representative Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr. in 1952.

"There's a lot of if-by-whiskey, where sometimes the alt-right was just the nutty white nationalists when defining their ideology, others where it was people who hadn't denounced them heavily enough, and then other times the alt-right was pretty much everyone to the right of Mitt Romney."

Kolmogorov Complicity: Originated with Scott Alexander from his blog. Reference to the Soviet mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov. The idea of navigating or conforming to oppressive orthodoxies while still trying to contribute to the growth of knowledge and truth discreetly.

“Like I've said the last 3 times we've had this conversation, Kolmogorov Complicity is just Complicity.”

libfem: Stands for liberal feminist, also known as intersectional feminism or third wave feminism. A societal ideology focused on power dynamics and microlabels. a main branch of feminism defined by its focus on achieving gender equality through political and legal reform within the framework of liberal democracy and informed by a human rights perspective.

“The far end of libfem, maybe.”

MGTOW: an acronym for Men Going Their Own Way, an online social movement and backlash to feminism where men renounce interactions with women and seek to define and live out their masculinity on their own terms.

“It’s largely an excuse to remain single into middle age and to reject marriage without adopting the most cringe (some would claim) aspects of MGTOW.”

Orbanization: : (maybe) the process of adopting political strategies and governance methods that are similar to those of Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary. Orbán's tenure has been characterized by a centralization of power, control over media, erosion of checks and balances within government structures, and a move towards what is sometimes called "illiberal democracy."

"There won’t be a civil war, though, a slow Orbanization is more feasible and the modern American ruling class is much more disunited than they were 30 years ago (the Israel question discussed above is one example)."

Overton window: an approach to identifying the ideas that define the spectrum of acceptability of governmental policies. It says politicians can act only within the acceptable range. Shifting the Overton window involves proponents of policies outside the window persuading the public to expand the window.

“Transgender politics wasn’t in the Overton window at this point.”

Pascal’s Wager: the argument that it is in one's rational self-interest to act as if God exists, since the infinite punishments of hell, provided they have a positive probability, however small, outweigh any countervailing advantage.

"Pascal's wager is terrible because infinite rewards break game theory."

Pill colors: Red, Blue, Black

  1. Red Pill: In the context of online communities, particularly those focused on gender and relationships, "Red Pill" refers to the belief that men have been socially disadvantaged and that conventional beliefs about gender, attraction, and social interaction are misleading or false. It often involves the idea that men need to become aware of and confront these supposed harsh realities to improve their own lives. The term is frequently used in men's rights and certain dating advice communities.
  2. lue Pill: The "Blue Pill" is often posited as the opposite of the "Red Pill." It represents adherence to conventional or mainstream beliefs about gender, relationships, and society. In communities that use these terms, taking the "Blue Pill" means accepting societal norms and beliefs without questioning them, often portrayed as living in blissful ignorance.
  3. lack Pill: The "Black Pill" takes a more fatalistic and often nihilistic viewpoint compared to the Red Pill. It's associated with a belief that certain unchangeable traits (like physical appearance, height, etc.) predominantly determine one's success in areas like dating and social interaction. Black Pill ideology is often linked with extreme pessimism, defeatism, and a belief that systemic changes or personal improvements are largely futile.

PMC : Professional/Managerial Class

“I’ve been to many wonderful small towns in the US, but they were all in New England or in the outer suburbs of wealthy cities and the residents all had some source of external wealth, either from commuting into highly-paid PMC jobs in the nearest major city or from tourism.”

purity spiral: a sociological theory which argues for the existence of a form of groupthink in which it becomes more beneficial to hold certain views than to not hold them, and more extreme views are rewarded while expressing doubt, nuance, or moderation is punished

"Once the ground shifted underneath them and their purity spiral was broken, leftists would just forget their causes in exactly the same way they forget e.g. their support for Stalin in the 50s, or all the crazy shit they said in 2020."

quant: short for quantitative analyst.

A hard search for this term provided too many instances of other words using these five letters, e.g. quantify, etc. and I didn’t have the patience to keep looking. But I’ve seen this term used and you will, too, if you keep reading this forum.

quokka: I have no idea what this means except a small marsupial. Help. Thank you @naraburns. The origin is here. From what I can gather a quokka is a kind of gentle-dispositioned person, innocent of nature, who is a bit of a nerd and wants to discuss things in good faith. Often applicable to certain autists. It is not a pejorative term. Edit: Maybe it is.

"Can you imagine a bunch of quokkas going about EA and Skynet every two days on the forum?"

Russell conjugation: a rhetorical technique used to create an intrinsic bias towards or against a piece of information.

“Let's work out the Russell conjugation: I offer good-faith criticisms of the United States, you disparage America as part of a project to prove how great Russia is.”

shape-rotator: Someone with high mathematical and technical skills, often portrayed as rivals to the wordcels (who have stronger language and verbal skills)

“I thought we were shape rotators?”

soyjak: (I still only vaguely understand this.) An online image of an emasculate man, often with an excited expression, with an art style based upon the original wojak.

"This looks more like an excuse to draw your enemies as the soyjak and yourself as the, uh, tiger." Edit: Despite repeated attempts, I cannot get this link to work.

stochastic: having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analysed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.

“All efforts to reconcile the stochastic distribution of boons and curses dished upon us with a belief in an Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnibenevolent Creator are, well, rather moot when you recognize that there's no reason (or grossly insufficient reason) to assume one exists.”

technocrat: an adherent to technocracy, or the government or control of society or industry by an elite of technical experts as opposed to professional politicians.

“The technocrats pretend to believe in that so that they can trick normies into hypersexual practices that obliterate communities.”

thot: From “That Ho Over There.” A woman who has (or is presumed to have, for whatever reason) many casual sexual encounters or relationships. Likewise, e-thot is a woman who makes money online from male (or predominantly male) audiences, by doing whatever for cash.

"I've seen sponsored ads (with the "ad" tag) for individual OnlyFans thots."

Third World-ism: a political concept and ideology that emerged in the late 1940s or early 1950s during the Cold War and tried to generate unity among the nations that did not want to take sides between the United States and the Soviet Union.

“Third worldism, or really socialism in general, had a uniquely compelling message to many leaders, and to many of the young, middle/upper middle class students who wielded or would eventually wield significant amounts of power over many developing countries in the latter half of the twentieth century.”

Noe: various users question the meaning and use of this term.

tradfem: a portmanteau of "traditional feminism" in reference to belief that adherence traditional feminine gender roles are better or more correct, especially those held by conservative Christian Americans, especially WASPs. Edit: Also a play on "radfem" or radical feminist. Thank you again, @naraburns.

“The Harrington and the other tradfems are hard to place on the left-right axis.”

Varg: I still don’t know what this means. I found various meanings of varg but none are satisfactory. Help.

Von Neumann: synonymous with “really big-brained person” as far as I can tell. Refers to John Von Neumann, a computer guy. Notably a “Von Neumann probe” would be a spacecraft capable of replicating itself. Edit: As I said above, misrepresentations are my fault.

"I've worked in QA for a couple years and I wouldn't touch whatever software would be used for digitization with a ten-foot pole even if it would've been written by fifty von Neumanns."

Westphalian: the concept of state sovereignty and the idea that each state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, free from external interference. From a series of treaties in 1648. We also have a member with this as part of his username.

“Christian nationalism, which is hard to talk about because no one agrees what it means, is hardly guaranteed to impinge on Westphalian tolerance.”

Wignat "wigger nationalist" and was originally used to describe lower class, violent, and unattractive neo Nazis that were willing to engage in street violence and unabashed Nazism with the use of swastikas and other symbols.

"Hanania’s a gentile but he’s also Palestinian so most wignats would consider him nonwhite or an edge-case at best."

x

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

3

I’d like to start with a few disclaimers. This is not an anti-psychiatry post. This is also not the place to ask or receive advice about your mental health, or what nowadays is called “mental health”.

For some time now I’ve been feeling like I live in a different world than most people I know. It has come to a point where I have to face an awkward alternative: Either most people I know are wrong (including learned men and experts) or I am insane. As I don’t believe I have lost my sanity, and as I believe that I have very strong arguments to hold my ideas against all reasonable counterarguments; I think it’s about time I sit down and share my ideas more or less publicly. This is one of such ideas. What follows is the summary of my academic studies, my professional experience working in the field of mental health, my own personal thoughts, and the influence of several authors, chiefly Georges Canguilhem and Jacques Lacan.

The APA defines psychopathology as “the scientific study of mental disorders, including their theoretical underpinnings, etiology, progression, symptomatology, diagnosis, and treatment”. It is a jurisdiction of medicine, although that does not exclude other disciplines from delving into it as well. It is intrinsically linked to psychiatry, to the point where one cannot exist without the other. But psychiatry itself is a rather contradictory branch of medicine, because while every other specialization of medicine has built its own object of study by exploring a specific organ or function from the body, psychiatry exists only by virtue of that which it ignores. In its origins, psychiatry was born to deal with what has been classically classified as insanity, those people described by Descartes who believed they were made of glass or who fancied themselves to be pitches of water. These outlandish delusions have always caused turmoil in society because nobody really knows where they come from, what they mean and, most importantly, what to do with them. Insane people clearly need help but they do not want it, or what help they are willing to receive it’s impossible for other people to give. They break the law but they are not criminals, or at least they are bening. They behave like savages but are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

Now enter the Enlightenment: Lady Reason triumphs all over the Western world, everything now has or will have a place and an explanation in the encyclopedia of universal knowledge. And what we understand we control. There are now a bunch of physicians who have little evidence but little doubt that these people are sick and that it is their task to heal them. And that they’ll try with all their available resources, but with little success. So while neurology developed from the study of the brain, cardiology from that of the heart and so on, psychiatry was born out of sheer embarrassment. It is the branch of medicine that studies mental disorders. However, being a part of modern scientific medicine, it cannot but assert that mental disorders can be explained by studying the body, the contradiction being that the day psychiatry discovers the bodily cause of mental disorders will be the day that it ceases to exist as a specialization of medicine, for said cause would fall under the jurisdiction of another specialization: If it’s in the brain then it would be neurology, if it’s in the genes it would be medical genetics, and if we were to discover a new organ in the body then a new specialization will be born to study it, leaving psychiatry in the past.

Therefore, psychiatry exists only because we do not know what mental disorders are. In fact, we don’t even know if the mind is real or not, much less whether it can get sick. What do we actually know then? We know that 1. there are people who need help, and 2. that there are means to help them. So it becomes a matter of administering a scarce resource. This is what psychopathology really is: It is not a science of mental pathology, it is the art of distributing psychiatric drugs and psychological treatments.

There used to be psychopathology. Classic psychiatrists wrote impressive treaties on the subject, with thousands of pages explaining in detail and classifying the behavior of their patients. The mountains really were in labour, alas, only a mouse was born: No progress was made regarding the causes, and most importantly the treatment of such behaviors. This last problem was drastically improved by the invention of psychopharmacology. Suddenly psychiatrists had a powerful tool to treat the symptoms of insanity, so even though they weren’t any close to understanding these symptoms, they changed their ideas on the subject to reflect the influence of psychiatric drugs. These influences can be accurately gauged by the changes on the DSM. The first DSMs included theories about the origin and nature of mental disorders, the last DSMs only mention the clinical symptoms necessary to prescribe a treatment. When a patient is diagnosed with depression the only relevant information that is learned is that said patient will start a treatment for depression.

So are mental disorders real? Of course they are. Whether they are mental or disorders, that’s another question. They are real because they are a set of behaviors that have been observed to occur together: Feelings of sadness, self-harming ideas or behaviors, inability to feel pleasure, these are all things that are real, observable, measurable, and treatable. But are these symptoms a mental problem? Are they a medical problem, or a problem at all? This is highly debatable, and in any case, not a solid foundation for a science.

If a person feels sad all the time, it is only natural for them to think that this life is not worth living. But the opposite is also true: If a person is convinced that there is nothing good in this world, then they will feel sad and hopeless all the time. So what comes first? Should we treat the sadness or the thoughts? And what if the person likes to feel sad, if they don’t want any help? Should we force them? And to make matters worse, it turns out that both psychiatric drugs and psychotherapy are effective*. And this is only to talk about those treatments that have empiric evidence to back them up and are approved by psychiatry, because, under the right circumstances, literally everything can be therapeutic: There’s horse therapy, art therapy, music therapy, dog therapy, video-game therapy, you name it.

There are some who believe in the demon deceptor, a person, or a group of people, who control our reality and make lies pass for truth, usually with malicious intent. These people believe that the pharmaceutical industry has created mental disorders only to sell drugs, and that psychologists and psychiatrists are their accomplices. For my part, I think it is overly optimistic to believe that someone has such a degree of control over the situation as to make it bend to their will. I believe that people are just confused, and with good reason, because being human is quite a bizarre experience. There are of course those who profit from the confusion of their fellow man, and prey on their ignorance. But even evil has its limits, and nobody can summon such perfect wickedness that no good may come of it. The truth is that for all the confusion that our idea of psychopathology entails, the treatment and the care for people with mental disorders has progressed a great deal in the last decades.

On the other hand there are the encyclopedists, who will argue that the fact that we haven’t discovered the bodily sources of mental disorders does not mean that we won’t succeed in the future. We have certainly made discoveries in this direction: Not only do we know now that it is impossible to be sad or mad without a brain, but we also know what specific brain part or substance is required. But even after all the advances in neurology, still no neurologic exam is indicated for the diagnoses of mental disorders, and for good reason. Because ultimately, what decides if someone has a mental disorder or not are arbitrary criteria. The fact that homosexuality is no longer a mental illness is only because of the fact that society has shifted its values towards the acceptance of diverse sexual orientations, were it not for that fact we would speak about the “homosexual brain” just as we know speak about “the depressed brain”. We could also speak about “the carpenter brain” or “the the writer’s brain”, and treat all of those conditions as illnesses.

In conclusion, I believe that contemporary psychopathology is a case of finding a hammer and suddenly realizing we are surrounded by nails. If something can be treated as an illness it will be treated as an illness, because that is l’esprit de l’époque. Classifying something as an illness, assigning it a part of the brain, and prescribing it a drug as treatment makes it real and important, so politicians, scientists, and the general public are aware of its existence and direct resources its way. This is why everyday we “discover” that there are more things linked to mental health: Poor housing, poor nourishment, the weather, sexual orientation, racial discrimination, political ideologies… and as there is no psychopathology there’s no limit to psychic pathologies. There’s a drug for everything or a therapy for everything. It’s no coincidence that we now have the most effective treatments in history and the highest rate of accessibility to mental health services ever, but the rates of mental disorders are soaring well. And despite all the advances in psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, no breakthroughs have been made in psychopathology.

I’m convinced that in the future people will look at our ideas on psychopathology as we now look at humorism.

Sources:

APA Definition of Psychopathology: https://dictionary.apa.org/psychopathology

*Psychotherapy just as effective as pharmacotherapy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5244449/

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

Transnational Thursday is a thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or international relations history. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

-5

The so-called "scientific method" is, I think, rather poorly understood. For example, let us consider one of the best-known laws of nature, often simply referred to as the Law of Gravity:

Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation: Every object in the universe attracts every other object toward it with a force proportional to the product of their masses, divided by the square of the distance between their centers of mass.

Now here is a series of questions for you, which I often ask audiences when I give lectures on the philosophy of science:

  1. Do you believe Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation is true?
  2. If so, how sure are you that it is true?
  3. Why do you believe it, with that degree of certainty?

The most common answers to these questions are "yes", "very sure", and "because it has been extensively experimentally verified." Those answers sound reasonable to any child of the Enlightenment -- but I submit, on the contrary, that this set of answers has no objective basis whatsoever. To begin with, let us ask, how many confirming experiments do you think would have been done, to qualify as "extensive experimental verification." I would ask that you, the reader, actually pick a number as a rough, round guess.

Whatever number N you picked, I now challenge you state the rule of inference that allows you to conclude, from N uniform observations, that a given effect is always about from a given alleged cause. If you dust off your stats book and thumb through it, you will find no such rule of inference rule there. What you will find are principles that allow you to conclude from a certain number N of observations that with confidence c, the proportion of positive cases is z, where c < 1 and z < 1. But there is no finite number of observations that would justify, with any nonzero confidence, that any law held universally, without exception (that is, z can never be 1 for any finite number of observations, no matter how small the desired confidence c is, unless c = 0). . And isn't that exactly what laws of nature are supposed to do? For Pete's sake it is called the law of universal gravitation, and it begins with the universal quantifier every (both of which may have seemed pretty innocuous up until now).

Let me repeat myself for clarity: I am not saying that there is no statistical law that would allow you to conclude the law with absolute certainty; absolute certainty is not even on the table. I am saying that there is no statistical law that would justify belief in the law of universal gravitation with even one tenth of one percent of one percent confidence, based on any finite number of observations. My point is that the laws of the physical sciences -- laws like the Ideal gas laws, the laws of gravity, Ohm's law, etc. -- are not based on statistical reasoning and could never be based on statistical reasoning, if they are supposed, with any confidence whatsoever, to hold universally.

So, if the scientific method is not based on the laws of statistics, what is it based on? In fact it is based on the

Principle of Abductive Inference: Given general principle as a hypothesis, if we have tried to experimentally disprove the hypothesis, with no disconfirming experiments, then we may infer that it is likely to be true -- with confidence justified by the ingenuity and diligence that has been exercised in attempting to disprove it.

In layman's terms, if we have tried to find and/or manufacture counterexamples to a hypothesis, extensively and cleverly, and found none, then we should be surprised if we then find a counterexample by accident. That is the essence of the scientific method that underpins most of the corpus of the physical sciences. Note that it is not statistical in nature. The methods of statistics are very different, in that they rest on theorems that justify confidence in those methods, under assumptions corresponding to the premises of the theorems. There is no such theorem for the Principle of Abductive Inference -- nor will there ever be, because, in fact, for reasons I will explain below, it is a miracle that the scientific method works (if it works).

Why would it take a miracle for the scientific method to work? Remember that the confidence with which we are entitled to infer a natural law is a function of the capability and diligence we have exercised in trying to disprove it. Thus, to conclude a general law with some moderate degree of confidence (say, 75%), we must have done due diligence in trying to disprove it, to the degree necessary to justify that level confidence, given the complexity of the system under study. But what in the world entitles us to think that the source code of the universe is so neat and simple, and its human denizens so smart, that we are capable of the diligence that is due?

For an illuminating analogy, consider that software testing is a process of experimentation that is closely analogous to scientific experimentation. In the case of software testing, the hypothesis being tested -- the general law that we are attempting to disconfirm -- is that a given program satisfies its specification for all inputs. Now do you suppose that we could effectively debug Microsoft Office, or gain justified confidence in its correctness with respect to on item of its specification, by letting a weasel crawl around on the keyboard while the software is running, and observing the results? Of course not: the program is far too complex, its behavior too nuanced, and the weasel too dimwitted (no offense to weasels) for that. Now, do you expect the source code of the Universe itself to be simpler and friendlier to the human brain than the source code of MS Office is to the brain of a weasel? That would be a miraculous thing to expect, for the following reason: a priori, if the complexity of that source code could be arbitrarily large. It could be a googleplex lines of spaghetti code -- and that would be a infinitesimally small level of complexity, given the realm of possible complexities -- namely the right-hand side of the number line.

In this light, if the human brain is better equipped to discover the laws of nature than a weasel is to confidently establish the correctness an item in the spec of MS Office, it would be a stunning coincidence. That is looking at it from the side of the a priori expected complexity of the problem, compared to any finite being's ability to solve it. But there is another side to look from, which is the side of the distribution of intelligence levels of the potential problem-solvers themselves. Obviously, a paramecium, for example, is not equipped to discover the laws of physics. Nor is an octopus, nor a turtle, nor a panther, nor an orangutan. In the spectrum of natural intelligences we know of, it just so happens that there is exactly one kind of creature that just barely has the capacity to uncover the laws of nature. It is as if some cosmic Dungeon Master was optimizing the problem from both sides, by making the source code of the universe just simple enough that the smartest beings within it (that we know of) were just barely capable of solving the puzzle. That is just the goldilocks situation that good DM's try to achieve with their puzzles: not so hard they can't be solved, not so easy that the players can't take pride in solving them

There is a salient counterargument I must respond to. It might be argued that, while it is a priori unlikely that any finite being would be capable of profitably employing the scientific method in a randomly constructed universe, it might be claimed that in hindsight of the scientific method having worked for us in this particular universe, we are now entitled, a posteriori, to embrace the Principle of Abductive Inference as a reliable method. My response is that we have no objective reason whatsoever to believe the scientific method has worked in hindsight -- at least not for the purpose of discovering universal laws of nature! I will grant that we have had pretty good luck with science-based engineering in the tiny little spec of the universe observable to us. I will even grant that this justifies the continued use of engineering for practical purposes with relative confidence -- under the laws of statistics, so long as, say, one anomaly per hundred thousand hours of use is an acceptable risk. But this gives no objective reason whatsoever (again under the laws of statistics) to believe that any of the alleged "laws of nature" we talk about is actually a universal law. That is to say, if you believe, with even one percent confidence, that we ever have, or ever will, uncover a single line of the source code of the universe -- a single law of Nature that holds without exception -- then you, my friend, believe in miracles. There is no reason to expect the scientific method to work, and good reason to expect it not to work -- unless human mind was designed to be able to uncover and understand the laws of nature, by Someone who knew exactly how complex they are.

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10,000 word long-take I wrote on the history of female warriors, North European human Sacrifice rituals, Girardian mimetic selection, and the incompatibility of the west's current conceptions of Freedom and women's liberation.

What occured in the forests of Germany and on the Eurasian steppe for 1000s of years was one of the most extreme experiments in selective breeding and selective killing practised anywhere on earth. The Aztec and Maya were the only ones with a ritual breeding/killing program so extreme

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46

Let me tell you a tale, young private, of my time after the service. Back in civilian land, a stranger to my own people. I got drunk for the better part of a decade. You think you want this life, listen up, because there's a price to pay for those stories.

When you're a drunk, your social circle is mostly in bars. I had my local. It wasn't the nicest or the grubbiest, it wasn't a meat market. It was a quiet, steady bar with a slightly older clientele. Dark inside, even darker booths. Stamped copper ceiling, left over from a wealthier time. A bullet hole over the bar that the owner claims happened during Prohibition, but I heard was from a drive-by in 1996.

This is the Nasty, and it's right on the strip. Hamilton Street. Five blocks of bars, restaurants and coffee shops with assorted tattoo parlors, barbers, bike shops and bail offices. Just across the river, the East side. One of the worst square miles in the US. Perennial murder capital contender, desperately poor, the abandoned urban underclass in the wake of de-industrialization. There were once over a hundred factories in Saginaw. Now there's three.

That's one three hundred yard bridge away from Hamilton Street, and it's the meeting place for the three sides of town. To the south, the Mexican quarter, to the west, the Township. The business owners on Hamilton are young and old. Some old proprietors hanging on for dear life. Some new ones filled with vision and ambition. All of them with more hope than sense. The town is dying.

I'd only been in town about four years at the time, fresh out the service and living with my younger brother, also just back from Iraq. It was a rough town, but we'd come from rougher.

Down to the pub, I like to think I was an excellent patron. Quiet, polite, my tab got paid in full, the staff got tipped every time, and well. A good pub can take years to get “in” to, but it's faster if you don't stiff the staff. You join the community. Learn the rules. Follow the code. The regulars and the semi-regulars. You start to learn about people slowly, over time.

John, an ever-so-slightly aged queen holds magnificent court with his coterie of fag-hags. It's always a fun time when they're in. Dom is rich or something and is forever buying rounds. Regulars stalk him. Neil, the manager, is forty and dating a different twenty-year-old every week. Nan, the heroically ugly and cantankerous bartender. She once threatened to “slap the dipshit out of your [my] face” for calling her “ma'am”. I wasn't going to try her.

But this story is about another regular. Name of Cowboy. He only comes in early in the day or late at night. A bit shorter than average, rail thin, all corded muscle, bad ink and long scraggly goattee. Works second shift, and hustles afterward. He makes the rounds at the bars late at night, sells beef jerky. Looks sketchy as hell, comes in a ziplock bag, but it is excellent. Kind of like Cowboy.

Now, Cowboy likes a drink, and I like drinks and beef jerky and we can both smell blood on the other. He's wizened, old before his time. Hard living, no doubt. He has full dentures, teeth knocked out in a prison fight. He's been in three times, he rides for the Outlaws, has the badges, has the ink. He's on parole for another ten years. I still don't know the details.

We bond over telling scar stories, every old soldier's favorite game. The stories start funny and get dark. There's some things you can't discuss with someone who can't directly relate, and when you find someone like that, there's a context to it. You don't understand now, you may later. It takes a while. You don't kiss on the first date with a guy like that. You gotta feel it out, get comfortable. Here we were, relative nobodies to the rest of the world, a broke-dick soldier and a lifelong criminal. But within our respective tiny subcultures, we were powerful and respected elders. The reason you're listening to my stories, young private.

Three terms, three deployments, three war zones.

Let me tell you son, my stories got nothing on old Cowboy's! I mean, mine might be crazier, and happen in a more exotic location, but his were so much more traumatic. It's one thing to go into battle with the might and money of a world superpower at your back, and another to have nothing and no one but yourself, and no win but more prison time with your opponents at the other end. Dude was a hard, hard man.

Generally kept my nose clean, by infantry standards. A bit of jail here and there for fighting, public drunkenness, stealing the flags off a golf course once...nothing serious.

So anyway, back to the story. The bar. The community.

I've been drinking in this bar for four years. I'm on my third set of owners. I've been here before most of the bartenders started. Now, one of the benefits of being a trusted regular is the lock-in.

So the boys hold a lock-in without us one night, lo and behold the cash is all gone in the morning. The whole night's takings. And half the liquor. None of this is discovered until Neil opens in the afternoon, and my brother and I wander in not ten minutes later.

The place is a bit of a mess, we help clean up and start figuring out what happened. Neil checks the security footage, and there it is, plain as day. The night bartender left the keys with one of his friends to lock up, and the guy cleaned the place out. We know this guy. We know his address. Nobody can think of his name right off, but who gives a shit?

The cops are no help, they'll take a statement but don't have time to waste on a few thousand in loose cash. This is bad for the bar, but it's really bad for those of us who like lock-ins.

Cowboy turns up, we brief him on what happened and he has a suggestion. For ten percent of the lost cash, he'll go over to the kids house with a couple of his Outlaw boys, put a bit of a fright into him, get him to give back the stuff. Way faster and cheaper than the cops!

Neil calls the owner, he says handle it. Cowboy goes outside to clear it with his boss in the MC. Comes back with bad news, the club won't sanction its guys for debt collection, and apparently this counts. Plan B.

What are the odds this popped-collar fuckwit knows what a proper Outlaw cut looks like? Are we outsmarting ourselves? Dan rides, he has a cut from a veteran MC. I used to ride, but sold my bike in Cali. We get on the phone.

Raoul is sixty-four, single, alcoholic. Looks like hispanic Colonel Sanders. I think he's been drunk since the seventies. He had a tough tour in Vietnam, I met him at the Purple Heart meetings. Sweet guy, a quiet and melancholy drunk, but good humored when roused. An inveterate poon-hound. He's a good dude, and hooks us up with a bike and a convincing-looking vest.

Cowboy has to work, so Dan and I do a basic recce. Walk the street, check the alley, count the exits. Windows are small and mostly high up, he's not gonna crawl out through those most likely. Three doors, one to the garage.

Back to our apartment. We talk over the plan, the scope. We leave weapons at home, pepper spray only. We're in sketchy legal area here. We aren't committing a crime, but we're going to be on his property and not necessarily friendly. If things go sideways, we don't want to escalate any more than necessary to break contact. We can always come back with more hardware, or men.

Cowboy turns up at midnight, and we roll out into the damp, dark night. Loud. This isn't a sneak operation, this is about intimidation. The whole neighborhood is going to peek out at this little show.

Fuck, I nearly forgot how much fun motorcycles are. And how incredibly scary they are when you ride with maniacs. I'm a highway cruiser, Dan has a death wish, and Cowboy was born on a bike or something. We come down that quiet cul-de-sac like thunder, line all three bikes up with the headlights pointed at the front door. My adrenaline is off the charts, I am not that good on a bike.

Dan splits off to the back, the garage is to our right, but the external door is closed. Cowboy mounts the steps to the porch, I stay one step back and to his left. The cut is a bit loose, Raoul is a lot thicker. Three loud raps at the door. Just enough to bounce the hinges a bit, you know? Take note, young private. Your knock should loosen a screw or two. Makes a good first impression.

Fuckwit comes stumbling to the door, must have slept the day. Queasy looking. Comes out of the door! Ok, we got this, this dude is not going to be a problem. If he barricaded, we might have had a time. He's quite a bit bigger than any of us, but that won't matter now.

He's disoriented, blinded by the lights behind us. He looks for a long moment at Cowboy, then at me. He's outside, the door is behind him. He's wearing sweatpants and flip flops. We're both within four feet of him. He knows us, but not by name, and not with biker gear on. We're both holding our helmets. He turns to go back through the door, and he can see straight down the hallway through the back sliding glass door, to where Dan is standing on his patio.

Cowboy puts his hand softly on Fuckwit's shoulder.

“Put everything back in your car, and take it back to the pub. We'll follow you.”

Fuckwit looks back at me. I give him my best evil grin.

He packs his car. People are looking. It's nearly one AM now, and suddenly people are wandering up and down the sidewalks, cell phones in hand. Whatever, Nasty PD ain't crossing the river for a noise complaint. It takes an uncomfortable amount of time though. That was a lot of hooch.

The escort is a good excuse for me to fall back and tail Fuckwit's ancient Buick. Dan and Cowboy are blasting up and down the wet, empty streets, popping wheelies, Charlie Mike. We take the scenic route through the neighborhood. It's last call when we roll back into the pub.

Neil boots the stragglers, makes Fuckwit restock the liquor and bans him from the bar. The whole of Hamilton Street already knows. Cowboy gets his ten percent, Dan and I get what turns out to be quite a lot of free drinks, and a special reward. We call Raoul to come down to pick up his bike and join us for a lock-in.

And that, ladies and gentle privates, is how I got a seat at the bar.

They've torn the place down now, but somewhere there is a small brass plaque that used to be nailed in front of the back corner stool of the pub.

Excuse me, but that's my seat. Is my name on it? Yes, yes it is. Would you like to speak to the manager?

Coda:

Cowboy died last year. Mid fifties,god knows of what. My brother rode up from North Carolina for the funeral. Six hundred people joined his wake. I had to borrow a bike. Older now, softer and relatively sober. I gave up the seat for a wife and a quiet life in the Nasty burbs. Dan has two kids and travels for work. Raoul is dead, years ago. There were no women at his funeral. I still see Neil from time to time. He's still dating twenty-year-olds and managing a bar. I never saw Fuckwit again. Still don't know his name.

I sometimes go back to the old neighborhood and walk its mountainous sidewalks, check in on old neighbors. Maybe have a drink at Neil's new place. Remind the streets. We're only old, we ain't dead yet.

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It's not just that my clients lie to me a lot, which will only hurt them --- it's that they're really, really bad at it.

[Originally posted on Singal-Minded]


My job as a public defender puts me in a weird place. I am my clients' zealous advocate, but I'm not their marionette. I don't just roll into court to parrot whatever my clients tell me --- I make sure I'm not re-shoveling bullshit. So for my sake and theirs, I do my homework. I corroborate. I investigate.

A significant portion of my job ironically mirrors that of a police detective. Every case I get requires me to deploy a microscope and retrace the cops' steps to see if they fucked up somehow (spoiler: they haven't). Sometimes I go beyond what the cops did to collect my own evidence and track down my own witnesses.

All this puts some of my clients of the guilty persuasion in a bind. Sure, they don't want me sitting on my ass doing nothing for their case, but they also can't have me snooping around on my own too much. . . because who knows what I might find? So they take steps to surreptitiously install guardrails around my scrutiny, hoping I won't notice.

You might wonder why any chicanery from my clients is warranted. After all, am I not professionally obligated to strictly maintain client confidentiality? It's true, a client can show me where they buried their dozen murder victims and I wouldn't be allowed to tell a soul, even if an innocent person is sitting in prison for their crimes. Part of my clients' clammed-up demeanors rests on a deluded notion that I won't fight as hard for their cases unless I am infatuated by their innocence. Perhaps they don't realize that representing the guilty is the overwhelmingly banal reality of my job.[1] More importantly, it's myopic to forget that judges, prosecutors, and jurors want to see proof, not just emphatic assurances on the matter.

But clients still lie to me --- exclusively to their own detriment.


Marcel was not allowed to possess a firearm. And yet mysteriously, when the police arrested him --- the details are way too complicated to explain, even by my standards --- in his sister's vehicle, they found a pistol under the passenger seat.

"The gun is not mine. I don't even like guns. I'm actually scared of guns." He told me this through the jail plexiglass as I flipped through his remarkable résumé of gun-related crimes. Marcel spent our entire first meeting proselytizing his innocence to me. Over the next half hour he went on a genealogy world tour, swearing up and down on the lives of various immediate and extended members of his family that he never ever ever touched guns.

I was confused why he perseverated so much, but I just nodded along as part of my standard early precarious effort to build rapport with a new (and likely volatile) client. What he was telling me wasn't completely implausible --- sometimes people are indeed caught with contraband that isn't theirs --- but there was nothing I could do with his information at that early stage. Maybe he thought if he could win me over as a convert, I'd then ask for the case to be dismissed on the "he says it's not his" precedent.

Weeks later, I got the first batch of discovery. I perused the photographs that documented the meticulous search of his sister's car. I saw the pistol glistening beneath the camera flash, nestled among some CDs and a layer of Cheetos crumbs. And on the pistol itself, a sight to behold: to this day the clearest, most legible, most unobstructed fingerprints I have ever seen in my legal life. If you looked closely enough, the whorls spelled out his name and Social Security number.

Public defenders are entitled to ask the court for money to pay for private investigators, digital forensic specialists, fingerprint examiners, or whatever else is needed to ensure a defendant in a criminal case is provided with his constitutionally guaranteed legal bulwark. The photographed prints here were so apparent that an examiner could easily rely on the photos alone to make a comparison.

Marcel had earned himself some trolling from me. I went back to see him at the jail, faked as much enthusiasm as I could muster, and declared, "Good news! They found fingerprints on the gun!" He stared at me stunned and confused, so I continued.

"Well, when we first met, you told me that you never touched the gun," I reminded him with an encouraging smile. "Obviously you wouldn't lie to your own lawyer, and so what I can do is get a fingerprint expert to come to the jail, take your prints, then do a comparison on the gun itself. Since you never touched the gun, the prints won't be a match! This whole case will get dismissed, and we can put all this behind you!"[2]

He was still reeling but realized I was waiting for a response. "You. . . don't need to do that," he muttered. I had the confirmation I was looking for, but I pressed him while maintaining the facade of earnest congeniality.

"But why not?" I sang in staccato, smile wide. "You told me. That. You. Never. Touch any guns."

Turned out Marcel might have accidentally touched the gun. So his prints could be on it. I had made my point, so I dropped the act. I explained to Marcel that the only thing lying to me accomplishes is to slow things down and worsen his own prospects --- how could I pursue any potentially helpful leads for his defense when I couldn't be sure I wasn't about to bumble into an incriminating revelation?

Marcel nodded sagely and claimed to understand, but he went on to lie to me many more times over the next two years that I remained his attorney. Marcel has and will spend the majority of his adult life in prison --- not necessarily because he lied to me but that certainly didn't help.


My first meeting with Kyle was useless. He insisted throughout that it wasn't him, that he wasn't even there. Now, personally speaking, if several witnesses claimed to have seen someone who looks like me, in my car, with my girlfriend in the front seat, commit a drive-by shooting in broad daylight, I would summon slightly more curiosity about who this apparent doppelganger might be. But Kyle gave me no leads, pantomiming an internal agony about not wanting to be a snitch, clutching at his stomach as if the mere thought was physically unbearable.

His tune eventually changed. "I need you to tell the prosecutor who was driving my car," he said."His name is Richie Bottoms." If the name hadn't given it away, I already knew where this was going,[3] and I was excited for the coming entertainment. I pretended to be enthused by his revelation, and let Kyle know that I had a "really great" investigator who's phenomenal at tracking "anyone" down --- even the elusive Dick Bottoms.

Based on his reaction, that wasn't the response Kyle expected; another illustration of a myopic theory of mind (not uncommon among the interpersonally inept) incapable of simulating anything but affirmation. He tensed up momentarily, but realized that he'd already committed himself to acting out a demeanor congruent with the "innocent client responds to helpful attorney" fantasy. Yet the only excuse he could muster up in the moment was that Richie wouldn't be found because he fled to Los Angeles.

I maintained what must have been an obnoxious level of optimism, explaining how "perfect" that was because my investigator "knew lots of people" there. My job affords me few if any moments of joy, and so forgive me if I overindulged in Kyle's vexation. I'll spare you a full accounting of the myriad reasons he gave why tracking down Sir Bottoms was a lost cause. Suffice to say that in addition to being out of state, Richie had maybe fled the country; also, Richie happens to look almost identical to Kyle, but also we might not even know his real name since he went by "Arby," and no one had his phone number, et cetera. . .

Even when we moved on to other topics, Kyle couldn't let it go, interrupting whatever we were talking about to repeat warnings about how tracking down Richie was going to be a total waste of time for my investigator and me. He was palpably angry, but had no viable outlet for his frustration, and so he just stewed, stuck with his lie. I kept my poker face. It's a stark contrast to my factually innocent clients, who cannot help but drown me with leads to pursue in the hopes that any are helpful.

The whole thing reminded me of Carl Sagan's parable of the dragon in his garage as a critique of certain unprovable religious beliefs. Can I see the dragon? No, it's invisible. Can I detect its fire's thermal image? No, the fire is heatless. Can I find Dick in Los Angeles? No, because now he fled the country.

There's always some excuse --- there's always some eject button allowing my defendants to evade specific evidence demands. No matter how ridiculous.


It's banal for my clients to deny the accusations, but a special breed takes denial to the next level by waging total jihad against their accusers. It's a sort of a reverse counterpart to the Narcissist's Prayer:

If they claim I was driving during the hit-and-run, they're lying. And if they're liars, then they exaggerated their injuries. And they're exaggerating because they're after an insurance payday. And we know they're after a payday because they sued their dry cleaners in 1993. And they're framing me to get money, which is how we know they're lying.

In these clients' telling, nothing is their fault. The random bystanders who randomly drew the unlucky witness card become a convenient scapegoat. Yet these clients are so myopically overwhelmed by the desire to bounce the rubble on a witness's credibility, they don't notice how implausible their story becomes with each new clause they tape onto their fabulist's scrapbook.[4]

Sometimes clients are self-aware enough to couch their denials in innuendo. Ivan, who was accused of [redacted], was waging the same Total War approach against Cindy, a social worker at the homeless shelter where Ivan regularly stayed. Cindy was a dangerous witness --- an uninvolved, respected professional who severely undercut Ivan's alibi defense about having never left the shelter to go on his [redacted] spree.

In yet another of our jail rendezvous, Ivan expounded at length about how Cindy's testimony was invalid because, as a social worker, she would be violating HIPAA.[5] The glaze over my eyes must have gotten too obvious for me to hide, so he switched tack, shuffled through his jail-sanctioned filing system (read: pile), and slid a flyer across the table about trash cleanup day at the shelter, with a smiling cartoon trash can picking up a baby garbage bag while announcing "Pick up a little trash, talk a little trash." It's cute, but what the fuck was I supposed to be looking at? Ivan stared at me grinning and expectant, but his demeanor quickly turned into disappointment at my ongoing silence. He snatched the flyer out of my hand and jammed his finger at the "talk a little trash" clause. "This!" he shouted, and then just stared at me again. I looked at the words that meant so much to him and nothing to me and just said, "Huh?"

His disappointment transmogrified into astonished anger. "Do I have to fucking spell it out for you?" he screamed. "I thought you were the lawyer here!" We had been ping-ponging across various aspects of his case for the last hour or so and I gave up on any posturing and reiterated my ignorance at the significance of the cartoon flyer. Ivan snapped, "Cindy is encouraging people to trash talk!" For, you see, she wrote the flyer. "I'm trying to show you that she's a fucking punk! And a liar!"

I immediately understood why Ivan was so attached to remaining within the realm of innuendo. Because as soon as he gave his claim some body ("We should infer lack of credibility from individuals when they author flyers that include garbage-related puns"), he knew how much of a dumbass he would sound like out loud.

Ivan moved on from the flyer, and instead asked how to disqualify a witness "for being a liar." I tell him that's not a thing,[6] which sent him into a further rage. "I need you to be on my side here but all I hear from you is 'NO.' Why are you working for the prosecutors?"


The manipulation attempts we just cataloged were comically inept, and fell apart with far less effort than it took to create them. Slightly more polished versions of these charades are regularly deployed within the Discourse™ but they're equally hollow and just as pathetic. So those are some of my clients --- individuals who cannot rise to the level of your average internet troll.


[1] There is a kernel of an exception that is almost not worth mentioning. The Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3 obligates me with the duty of candor. I am not allowed to present evidence that I "know" is false, which encompasses witness testimony. Some jurisdictions make exceptions to this rule for defendants testifying in their criminal trial (correctly, IMO) but not all. So assuming that a client truthfully confesses to me, assuming we go to trial, assuming they decide to testify, and assuming I "know" they're going to lie, then yes, this could indeed spawn a very awkward situation where I'm forced to withdraw in the middle of proceedings.

[2] I'm told I put on a good poker face.

[3] There was no Richie Bottoms.

[4] For example, Kyle asked if it was possible to present self-defense evidence on behalf of "Richie Bottoms," just in case.

[5] Does this sound familiar to anyone?

[6] During the editing process, Jesse was skeptical of this. "Wait," he asked me in a Google Doc comment, "there's NO way for one side to prove to a judge that a witness is so untrustworthy the jurors/judge shouldn't consider their testimony?" Correct. The closest rule is disqualifying a witness as incompetent, either for being too young, severely mentally ill or mentally retarded, or too intoxicated (on the witness stand!). Credibility is up to the judge/jury to decide, and if a witness has a history of lying, then it makes for a very easy credibility impeachment. Theoretically, in extremely rare circumstances, a judge could strike the testimony of a witness or find them in contempt, but they'd have to be seriously flagrant about their lying under oath. I have never heard of this happening.

-2

I've thought about writing this for a long time. It started with a telegram post by Bronze Age Pervert. I don't follow BAP but I saw Zero HP Lovecraft mention the post in a tweet so I found the telegram and read it. I also don't follow ZHP but I'm not saying that to get ahead of anything, I don't dislike him and his "she could lose weight" bit is pretty funny. This is BAP's post:

https://i.imgur.com/IRkNwMX

That is poltard "take your meds schizo" rambling that I won't talk a bit about other than how reading it made me realize the animosity BAP has toward eminently black music would spread through his devotees into the rightist sphere. It has, now it's at a simmer.

I'll give a bit of a primer but I figure a lot of you have some familiarity with Hip-Hop. It's more than just music, it's a subculture of fashion, art, music and dance, but I'm only talking about the music. As the genre developed, inside baseball is its variation into East Coast and West Coast Hip-Hop. East Coast where emphasis is on hard lyricism: artists like Biggie, Jay-Z and Run The Jewels. West Coast where emphasis is on the vibe: Dr. Dre, Tyler the Creator, Anderson .Paak. Subgenres people should be familiar with conceptually are Alternative and Progressive. Alternative about deviating from mainstream sound: A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots, BROCKHAMPTON. Progressive, about incorporating whatever sounds good as complexity is developed within the form: Outkast, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar.

I think most people I see in those threads who criticize "Rap"--and some elaboration will follow--don't really know it. They haven't listened to much and what they have is the weakest examples of the genre in performers like Drake and Jack Harlow. In polite terms they call it Rap. Rap isn't wrong but it's imprecise, rapping is what the vocalist does on the track, Hip-Hop is the rap-to-and-the-beat, and the production is equally if not more important. I'm not doing a pedantic gotcha thing, if you respond to this by calling it Rap I'll know what you mean, and when I call it Hip-Hop you can mentally shortcut Rap if it's easier.

I think most of those Xers would enjoy it if they were shown its best, but there is the minority. Those who didn't originate the thought but they are its loud propagators, so BAP, who are filled with the kind of racial hate where they dislike Hip-Hop solely because of its blackness. I know they'd yeschad me calling them racist but that's not my angle. I'm not criticizing them for being racist, I'm criticizing them for allowing their supposedly great intellects to be subjugated by their racism; to be made retarded by hate as they showboat their inability to appreciate beauty. A failing never more obvious than when they inevitably cope with their flaw unrealizing by saying "No, it really is bad."

I try not to call music bad, it's too subjective. I'll happily comment to the side, like Jack Antonoff probably does all the real work in his collabs with Taylor Swift, Swift's popularity is far more memetic than musical, and/also for Olivia Rodrigo who is a stunningly obvious industry plant; Jack Harlow grew up on a horse ranch, enough said. I still won't call their work bad. I have friends who love their music, why would I want to diminish that? But if I called Swift or Rodrigo or especially Harlow, or pulling back to the albums out of pop, rock and alt-rock of the last 25 years (country ignored for obvious reasons), with few exceptions--Viva La Vida counts and it's pretty good but a lot of its strength is the title track and I like X&Y more; Toxicity is superb; In Rainbows likewise--if I called the best of those genres bad relative to Hip-Hop's best, I would be right.

The best writers of lyrics is a long list of black artists. Ed Sheeran, who seems like a right proper lad, had song of the year 2017 with Shape of You (the link is the lyrics.) It might seem unfair to compare it to Outkast's Bombs Over Baghdad as it's the song of the millennia so far, but it is fair because BOB came out about 17 years earlier, as in pre-Iraq, pre-9/11. This is also where production matters so much, the lyrics are good but made best in context of hearing them in the song. So production, the best producers are many of those same lyricists--Kanye, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams--or they work with those black artists. Nolan's Oppenheimer was beautifully scored by Ludwig Gorranson, Gorranson broke out on the strength of his production work with Donald Glover/Childish Gambino. He could do things he couldn't anywhere else because there is no genre that allows creativity to flourish like Hip-Hop. Shit Kanye was figuring out 25 years ago dominates the sound of modern pop. I anticipate a certain cope: "Yeah, because it's 2024 and we worship blacks." There is sardonic truth in ascribing a religious reverence to some of the leftist establishment's treatment of blacks but production techniques made prominent by Hip-Hop are now in pop because it makes it better. Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion (2015) is one of the best pop albums ever recorded and it could hardly be more white. White girl from Canada spending 25 tracks (super-deluxe + B-Side EP) singing about her broken heart. Its production techniques, the samples, the synths, yeah that's the stuff Kanye was doing over a decade before, reaching a degree of culmination in his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. Easily the most influential album since its release, past all the Hip-Hop it impacted, down the line we have Scooter Braun and Jepsen, we have Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Rina Sawayama, Spellling (though The Turning Wheel calls way harder to Kate Bush's The Hounds of Love), Billie Eilish and the biggest and whitest T-Swift.

The only genre with that level of willingness and brilliance in total experimentation by arena acts, aside from the artist-that-is-the-genre of Tyler Joseph's Twenty One Pilots, is electronic music. Those Frenchies dominate it, and you know what? Game recognizes game. Daft Punk working with Kanye and then Pharrell, then later coming out of their soft retirement to work with the Weeknd. Outside of France there's Ratatat and MGMT with Kid Cudi, Moby with Public Enemy, DJ Shadow with Run The Jewels, and Calvin Harris with a bunch of artists.

Funny, I never see the righties complaining about what should surely be "height-of-degeneracy" raves. Heavy light shows where white girls take molly and get fucked by strangers in bathroom stalls. What, do they see blond blue-eyed DJs and it's easy to ignore? Must be they see a white girl dancing to a good beat with a black guy rapping and their miscgenic hackles raise. Funnier still since I'm certain those guys know by heart or else have desktop folders with charts of online dating message/response rates-by-demographic just ready to slam on a /pol/ troll's slide thread.

A tangent, but it follows. I watched Demolition Man a few nights ago. I'd seen pieces over the years but never watched it start-to-finish and it's free on Sling. Sly Stallone as the classic 80s (though 1993 release) action hero cop and the fantastic Wesley Snipes as the villain. After Snipes' big plot at the opening, he and Sly are cryo-imprisoned for decades, during which their "destructive behavioral patterns" will be conditioned away. When Snipes is revived for his parole hearing and jailbreaks, he emerges in an idyllic but Huxleyan-dystopic society. The cops are totally unprepared for a man of Snipes' criminality and martial prowess. Sly is revived to stop him; action comedy ensues. A recurring joke is in the control of language, Sly's frequent profanity is met with computer chime, chastisement and fine for violating the "verbal morality statute."

Control of language is a serious problem in modern discourse. It puts on the veneer with lies and thought-terminating clichés, it makes our speech inauthentic and our way of living becomes inauthentic in turn. I don't know if I'd give the film points for directional correctness, I will give it points for the crass, man's-man-at-the-time Stallone solving all his problems with a hammer. It's that language control--inauthentic discourse--has been a problem for this country since before cinema existed. Early American political discourse had a viciousness to it: Jefferson against Adams is the famous example, where Adams was described as with "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman," while Jefferson was described as a "mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw sired by a Virginia mulatto father." (There is some contention about whether these were actually said, I believe firmly they were.)

What changed? Elite WASPs, Boston Brahman and the like. Their values, their etiquette of "modesty" and "restraint" dominated elite institutions and those values trickled down, being inculcated in the masses and where we once had politicians showing their authentic animosity toward one another, now even lefties calling Trump "fascist Drumpfler" or whatever is somehow still only the patina over authenticity. Imagine that level of candor today: Trump calling Biden a "braindead retard whose only good son is dead" and Harris a "marabou cocksucker" while they retort by calling him a "smalldicked whorefucking bankrupt wannabe wop."

It'd be great. I love boisterous and loud, the most obnoxious political characters on all sides. We know you're thinking it, be authentic and say it! Who cares about pretense? whose standards are you appealing to? Yeah, WASPs from 150 years ago. Fuck off, it's a lie, it's the most inauthentic behavior. Trump will sometimes lie in really bad and obvious ways yet his character remains wholly more authentic than anybody else in politics. That fucking is Trump, that's the man himself, and I think it's a mark of great merit, in itself. I'd think every bit the same if AOC came out being her true self. I know there's a lot of digs at her actual competence vs if she's just a mouthpiece, I think she's probably more than competent enough to be a house rep, low bar as that is. I'd love it if she said what she actually thinks, authentic, absolutely no pretense (and to be appropriately crass, in a push-up bra with a tasteful top to show the goods.)

Would this cause future trouble? Would we move even closer to President Mountain Dew Camacho? I dunno, where's the impact? You're telling me American politicians have yet more character to sell? Or do you fear politics transforming into the final show, where the people are all but entirely removed from changing who stands at the levers of real power? Well I think the evidence is pretty good Biden isn't entirely running the operations of the executive so . . . who's there when he isn't?

Pretense, decorum, expected behavior; these are arbitrary and often worthless. Note often, not worthless for being arbitrary, worthless where they only exist to delineate class. Talk more properly, dress more properly, behave more properly, again I ask whose fucking properness? The culture-progeny of the blooded aristocracy we killed out of this country 250 years ago. That's who the WASPs were. They deserve credit for the spread of meritocracy America benefited from for so long, but they deserve scorn for that etiquette pushed post-war to post-war and then inertia did the rest. Profanity is nothing, it's sounds, use it or don't. (I do hate the thankfully unsuccessful practice of naming in things like "Slutty Cookie" recipes or putting "FUCK" very large on the cover of books.) Restraint is good to a point, modesty to a point, to speak in circles, restraint and modesty are good when they are good, but they are not good in themselves. "Modesty is a virtue" as it goes but I disagree, rather as with the proper understanding of "meekness", it is not modesty that is the virtue but knowing when to be modest that is the indicator of character. Frank Lloyd Wright said "Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change." As the greatest American architect and the greatest in the world since the Imperial Hotel or Fallingwater, were he to practice "hypocritical humility" it would only serve to assuage those who correctly appraised themselves as inferior to him and lacked the character to persist. It's not like he could design every building.

Not only Wright; the most effective wielders of power in this country's history dropped decorum wherever possible. Big Johnson, back to Teddy Roosevelt, whom I particularly like in this context because as the best member of the Roosevelt family his behavior spurned the etiquette of that mighty WASP dynasty. Back to Lincoln and of course Jefferson and Adams (Adams, whose descendants swiftly forgot the lessons of their sire.) Hate these figures if you want and where appropriate, their high effectiveness as political actors is not up for debate.

So Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is more authentic to the founding spirit of this country than any other music. I don't mean it in the Project 1619 "blacks-built-literally-everything" pseudoacademic bullshit. I mean in its content, its lyrics, its successes. These are the most American stories. So hating on a guy rapping about all the bitches he fucks? It's called bragging, it's where the eponym "Casanova" comes from. Bragging about gang violence? To the Romanophiles (guilty), you've surely heard of Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Odds are good Ceasar made some of that up or at least embellished to boost his image but that reinforces the point.

Not that I'm comparing Jay-Z rapping about hoes or about his life in the hood to Caesar, but a man famously talking about his wealth or his women or the horde he reduced unto the slaughter, the idea of these as in any way novel, which is necessary for saying Hip-Hop is uniquely degradative, is comical. As long as humans have told stories men have talked about rape, pillage and plunder. Thus authenticity.

Success stories are obvious. Yeah there are guys like Drake who have a negative amount of street cred but Jay-Z was selling crack, now he's worth billions and married to Beyoncé. (And second pic so you can see how little help she needs from staged shots.) There's a lot just there, the pathetic racists who would deny, or maybe really are so tragically incapable of recognizing beauty they miss that Beyoncé is one of the most beautiful women alive just as they miss the beauty of Hip-Hop.

I've talked so much about it, I should really talk about it. If you're unlearned, here's a progress in tracks.

I start with Mark Ronson's cover with Daniel Merriweather singing of the Smith's Stop Me that incorporates parts of the Supremes You Keep Me Hangin' On. This is Neo Soul, Merriweather's soulful singing with modern production techniques: synths, drum machine.

Next is Gnarls Barkley's Smiley Faces. At release, Crazy was the massive single off the album St. Elsewhere but the rest of the album had a sharp falloff in listening. As with Stop Me it's Neo Soul, but with Danger Mouse's production we're getting closer to a beat to be rapped to.

That's Madcon's Beggin. Pure Hip-Hop, not Sugarhill Gang pure, but pure. Taking The Four Seasons' Beggin' as the hook to follow into Tshawe's sing-rap verse, to Yosef's pure rap verse.

Next is the Pharcyde's Runnin' as remixed by electronic duo Philippians. The original is closer to Sugarhill Gang purity vs Madcon, in part of course because Pharcyde is old school. Their sample of Saudade Vem Correndo as the guitar riff is the big feel of the song, gets you that instant West Coast vibe. The Philippians remix preserves the sample, keeps the rapping at the front, and is an example, insofar as it's DJs remix, of Progressive Hip-Hop. Developing complexity within the form. If you haven't listened to much but you enjoy what I've listed and you're interested in more, the original is just as good but I'd say Pharcyde's Passin Me By, which is probably their most well-known track, is the next step.

Last is Kanye, Heaven and Hell. Ye starting off as usual with a sample he's put his spin on from the beginning of 20th Century Steel Band's Heaven and Hell is on Earth, and he also incorporates the refrain from the song as backing on his verse. I'd say this is pure progressive Hip-Hop, it would have been at the start of his career, but now this is just standard work for him.

Can't ignore Ye. Continued below.