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User ID: 2039



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User ID: 2039

You are correct!

I had an EPIC brain snap and swapped the Mark to Market for Master Limited Partnerships in discussing their original application to Oil and Gas. Wow, yeah, my mistake. Thanks for correction.

The core of this is a concept called "Mark to Market." The Enron documentary (The Smartest Guys in the Room. 10/10 would recommend) spends some time on it.

It's also the same core mechanism that fucked the whole mortgaged-backed securities market in 2008-2009.

Mark to Market was never really intended for intermediate goods with weird cashflow and long-term appreciation dynamics (like houses). It definitely was never intended for use with Magic Internet Money.

Mark to Market was originally conjured up as a way for oil extraction companies to better value their inventory (oil) as daily markets could fluctuate pretty wildly. The thing there, however, is that that oil was both (a) a thing you had on hand that had a long established market and (b) a commodity that functioned ... like a commodity! There was a spot price and ... that was kind of it. Yeah, there are futures markets, but it's not like a house that has a monthly cashflow (rent or mortgage) but also an asset appreciation profile determined by all sorts of things (mainly location, but also real improvements and hyper local supply/demand profiles). There's just so much more inherent complexity in things like houses that Mark to Market can't really be a stable valuation scheme. [:1]

For a digital currency with zero non-digital assets backing it you're marking-to-a-made-up-market with a formless thought experiment of an asset. Yes ... that's really, really, really obvious dumb as shit.

[:1] To be fair, there are people who will disagree with this and make a (good) point that as long as markets stay liquid enough, they can perform accurate price discovery. I actually think 2008-2009 strongly supports that argument. The crisis point wasn't mortgages going down in value per se, it was in the lack of overnight and short term cash to help firms shift their positions and recapitalize. Firefighting by Bernanke et al. goes into the (quite technical) details of this. To "yes, but," one last time, there are also those who would say that the sheer size of the MBS market and all of the related assets and liabilities made it impossible to "soft land", regardless of any amount of short term credit and liquidity. I can't really refute that because we decided not to test it out back in '09. If we had, and gotten in wrong, we'd be having this conversation in person beneath the rubble of Midgar.

Tangential nitpick because this always really grinds my gears when I see it...

The index funds versus hedge funds comparison is insanely dishonest. Warren Buffett started it decades ago and it's an argumentative sleight-of-hand.

Broad market index funds (anywhere from 100% equity allocation to the 60/40-bond mix) pretty much track "the economy" as a whole. You're betting on all of the horses. Across cap size, across sectors. If you're including bonds, then you're covering the two largest asset classes on earth. If you can stay in the market long enough and tolerate bouts of down years, you're going to do just fine because the "oh shit" scenario is literally a 20-40 year sustained depression for the United States and very probably the rest of the world. Which, if it happens, fucks everyone including hedge funds and techBros. For generations.

Hedge funds are always much more narrowly constrained in what they invest in, and they often target very specific return profiles. "We long/short large cap non-financial equities and forecast capturing 80% of broad market upside in outperformance years while avoiding draw downs of over 20% in down years, with high annual liquidity but low turnover." That's contraint-on-constraint-on-constraint that index funds don't have to deal with at all. And hedge funds call their shots in that they predict a return profile within a given timeframe and aren't allowed to take excessive risk or leverage to get there. They actually can't "bet it all on black" again and again. Simply allocating to a portfolio with too elevated risk metrics constitutes something close to a breach of contract.

Why do hedge funds do this? Because most of them are trying to appeal to institutional investors (retirement funds, university endowments, etc.) that have really specific needs for performance, risk management, and cash disbursements for every single year. If you're CALPERS and you need to - every single year - push out $10 billion of retirement cash to your members to avoid a massive class action lawsuit, you need to find a hedge fund that has a reasonable chance of delivering part of that return profile. And they have to (try to) guarantee (part) of that return no matter what the rest of the market does. If there's a bad year, neither the hedge fund nor CALPERS can say, "Hey, sorry, we'll just wait a couple years to get back even." Nope, those retirees want their cash on the first of the month no matter what - and they probably have the legal language to back it up.

Why only part of the total return? Because no large institutional investor is allowed to give all of its money to a single fund / general partner. Diversification is always (nowadays) written into their charters. So, maybe the first chunk of money goes to the hypothetical fund above. That means that anybody else who's doing long/short in large cap non-fin equities is automatically off the list to receive another chunk of the institution's money - there's too much correlated risk. Pretty soon, you're investing in ARK Innovation because it's the only fund left who can take $100m - $1bn [:1] of capital that doesn't look like it's correlated to the rest of your portfolio.

Hedge funds are providing a very precise service at scale to a clientele that needs that precision within a time bound box. Index funds are providing general returns that track an economy over large cycles. It's pretty close to the difference between looking for a general practitioner doctor for health advice ("diet, exercise") and looking for a brain surgeon with tumor removal expertise that can also guarantee your blood pressure won't spike and your body temp won't fall too low during the surgery. Yep, that second guy probably has more dead patients on him, but that first guy has mustard on his shirt and likes to watch Mad Money in the afternoons.

[:1] Another thing people like to point to is that smaller funds often outperform their larger peers. That's because you have way more flexibility as a smaller fund and it's easier to deploy smaller amounts of capital. Big funds are a special monster because there are only so many things you can plow $1bn into and NOT move the market on your own.

Fortune 500 CEOs aren't working bone crushing hours the way a small biz CEO might. (More on that second part later).

But, being an F500 CEO is incredibly hard.

I had the opportunity to meet and interact with one at the F500 I worked for in my mid 20s. This was a non-trivial interaction that occurred because a series of events led me to being on this big strategic thrust planning team that the CEO was half-personally overseeing. Another series of events led to a bunch of us being at the HQ on a Saturday. Right before lunch, the CEO walks into the main "war room" and literally rolls up his sleeves to help out. He was there all day. In that setting, everyone was talking with everyone at some point or another and the various "ranks" that usually created some deferential distance were not as palpable. It was easy to talk to the Big Guns, so I just sat down and started talking with the CEO.

The conversation can pretty much be summed up like this:

TollBooth: "So .... what do you actually do?"

F500 CEO: Chuckling, "I make about four decisions per year and, the rest of the time, am on call to answer questions that the board and wall street investors have. That's the easy part. I'm basically a financial psychotherapist. The first part is way harder."

TollBooth: "Why?"

F500 CEO: "Because those four decisions dictate the 16 - 20 decisions I can possibly make for the next 4 to 5 years. If I make the wrong ones this year, we, as a company, have fundamentally worse options in the out years."

TollBooth: "So, just make good decisions this year"

F500 CEO: "Well, yeah, that's the goal. But these 4 or so decisions I make rely on, without exception, massively incomplete information that I then have to use as part of a decision making model that incorporates what I think our competitors are going to do, what the market will support, and what won't cost us customers. All of those things are interdependent and you can't really say which one comes "first" in the decision making chain. It's like hitting a half dozen moving targets that are all moving in random directions - if you time it right, you can blast three of them at once, and that's a really great year. If you don't, you miss everything and it looks to outsiders like you were shooting randomly."

TollBooth: "Why are we doing this strategic thrust thingy right now?"

F500 CEO: "Because I screwed up one decision two years ago and I think I can salvage it with this. If I can't, I probably am gone 2 years from now."

I'd add one personal/emotional level consideration to this; you have to live with the uncertainty and lack of control leading up to and following making these four big decisions each year. One thing I learned in my first technical sales engineering team was that a sales process might be long, but you can sort of see it developing day to day and week to week. So, you can reduce your overall anxiety by just doing the next obvious thing in the process, even if that thing is banal (scheduling a follow up meeting, asking for a how-to guide review, whatever). A good analogy is training for a sports meet. You put in the work day in and day out, and then, all of a sudden, it's the big payoff day / week and you go out and get it (or don't). All your nervous energy along the way, however, you can divert into the training (or the development of a sales cycle in this case).

The CEO can't do that. There's no training cycle that builds up to something. It's literally four decisions made on four different days across a year. I think he could, and did, think about the decisions a lot before he made them. And I also think he probably had a team of smart people digging through a mountain of data and projections. But, like he said / I wrote above, these decisions had really incomplete information - you can't brute force your way through them even with a million spreadsheet runs. And, there isn't really a way to test and the iterate - you're calling out a new direction for the Battleship and you have to live with it until you hit the iceberg or don't. (Sorry for throwing in another unrelated metaphor)

I think the personality type that ends up as an F500 CEO definitely isn't "work like a dog 16 hours a day" but is, instead, "Be comfortable with weeks and months of utterly not knowing. Then pull the trigger." Is that hard work? You tell me.

Returning to small/medium CEOs working crazy hours. In my experience, that's 90% of the time a failure mode of a founder type CEO who can't give up micro levels of control and build the durable systems you need to scale. I've been in tech startups where the founder was very much the engineering genius type but then there came a time where the best answer was to "hire the MBAs." Everyone's life got better. Everyone made more money. The founder saw their big dream flourishing, albeit without direct control.

I'm a Big Man.

I don't mean fat. I'm 6'8" and go about 245. Through almost all of my 20s, I was maybe 200-210. In college and before I was below that and so noticeably in the "bean pole" range of skinny. A late 20s dive into lifting paired with finally hitting the big metabolical downshift means I'm no longer "potentially a basketball player" but firmly in the land of "hey, that's a Big Dude!" No tattoos, but do have a trimmed beard and close shaved head. I've been called Nordic-looking often (I'm not).

Question is; what are some things I should be aware of in terms of perceptions by other people. I don't want to come across as utterly clueless - I already go out of my way to be a little goofy / ice-breaker-y when meeting new people. I smile (and am concious of it) a lot when dealing with bartenders / cafe people / passers by on a day to day basis. Still, I think I may be oblivious to some things. I'm especially worried about professional context. COVID had me fully remote for two years and Zoom meetings take a lot out of relative physical size awareness. New job (as of the summer) has me in a suit 4 days a week in a more conservative / traditional setting and I'm wondering if that's modulated my smiley/goofiness. FWIW, I don't think I perceive much hesitation from coworkers, and I'm getting a normal level of invitation to informal drinks after work etc.

Would also appreciate any insight on NON-romantic male/female dynamics. On the dating side of things, there is a consistent volume of women who straight up tractor-beam to Big Dudes. (Yes, it's Daddy issues and Lumberjack fantasies as far as the eye can see. SNL had a skit about it with dudes from the Chiefs after the won the Superbowl).

I would love to hear your thoughts on the College Football realignment.

Agree, but the punishment is only the first half of the re-calibration. You can point to something and say "That's bad, don't do that," but people will naturally respond, "Well, fine, what's good?"

And then society, culture, and all of the relevant institutions are going to have to start really getting behind the idea of stable nuclear families, courtship rituals that are defined (heavily) by gender roles, and explicit pro-natalism. Personally, I think of these are stellar ideas. But there are some absolutely bananas divergences in opinios on that. This is why, I think, the trashfire that is contemporary dating endures - there isn't a well articulated alternative and even vague attempts to develop one are only at the margins and oriented around fine-tuning and optimization. The recent article-and-comments on "Date Me" docs over at Scott's Blog is case in point.

Then again, what's old is new. People really like to fuck. Like, a lot a lot. Society has been dealing with this with great difficulty forever. At the societal, pro-social level,packing away women in burlap bags probably isn't a good move, but neither is broadcasting luxury strip clubs as empowering art. I'm not going to weasel out and say "it's a balancing act." No, the assertion that ought to be made is "sex is one of the most basic social contracts you engage in. Yes, it's personal and fun, but it isn't something to be taken lightly." Then, taking the next step up in the responsibility chain, "you should have sex in an already stable pair bonded relationship with an eye towards longevity." No, don't criminalize one-night stands and don't jail the town harlot or village lothario - but hold them up as examples of what not to do.

The fundamental issue is that all forms of training for how people should behave, what is expected and norms for sex has been replaced with do what you feel like. This is going to lead to a greater than 0.1% instance of someone clearly not getting what they bargained for. By replacing norms with do what you feel like we have entered a behavioural sink.

Great post overall, and I have to especially double down on this section.

Uncertainty, in any context, is hard for humans to deal with. Cultural rituals and norms exist in some part to reduce uncertainty so people can be more confident in the situations they find themselves in and be prepared to make decisions.

An interest counter-intuitive reality in the sex-culture-wars; the BDSM community is full of pretty elaborate and almost legalistic consent procedures with very little room for interpretation. Nothing gets you exiled faster than even a rumor of coercion. In many ways, it is pretty close to literally exchanging grocery lists of sexual acts with one another (or more!) and then going line by line through them with "yes", "no", "maybe - and here's my stop word." For more extreme acts, written documents aren't at all unheard of. This is all in the context of a community that is unrelentingly sex positive. Suffice it to say, even the real freaks understand the importance of rituals and norms.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s drafted on its own acceleration through the 1970s into the present and is now something more like sexual nihilism. Nothing matters (besides consent, of course), a monstrous appetite isn't something to be worried about, and partners can be as temporary as tee-shirts. When you allow that kind of madness to flow over a fundamental human activity that is also core to societal functioning, you're going to get alarming results.

(Some of the other comments in this thread are straight wild. I can't tell if they're LARPing, triple-nested irony or finewine shitposting, or just ChatGPT hallucinations.)

TLDR on how heterosexual women choose mates can be reduced to "social proof." This isn't all encompassing, but it's the single most important factor. The more you can put yourself in an environment with demonstrable social proof the better. I've written about this before, sorry for the self-link.

I think a lot of guys screw up the first date by making it far too 1-on-1 and not somehow building in that social proof. In my experience, there is a very simple way to get reliable massive social proof without having to stress on logistics or complex arrangements:

Become a regular at a bar.

A couple ground rules. 1. The bar has to be a pretty fancy cocktail bar or hipster style joint. Think rough wood paneling, low lighting, and a bearded gent who knows too much about agave plants behind the bar. 2. You don't become a regular by showing up a few times on your own and getting hammered and tipping heavy.

Here's how you become a regular:

  1. You have to spend time (and money) going in on off hours and figuring out which bartender works on core date nights (Thur, Fri, Sat). The economics of bars being what they are, it's pretty rare for even the "Prime Time" bartenders to not work at least one afternoon shift. I find luck on Sundays and Tuesdays the most. You go in right after work (or as early as about 4pm if you can work remote or have the flexibility). Sit at the bar, get the menu etc. etc.

  2. Have a personality and interesting things to talk about. I know this can be very difficult. Here are some tips - start out by asking their recommendation for a drink / cocktail. They're going to recommend something that's pretty inoffensive (usually a slight modification to a basic manhattan, martini, or old fashioned and their various tequila cousins). If they ask what you like, have an answer ready. When they make it, compliment it and find a road to go down. What does that mean? Don't say "oh, it's fruity!" or "oh, yeah, I like that!" Those are dead ends. Make an observation, and then make an extending comment on that observation; "There's some smokiness in there ... what's another drink where there's more of that (or) what can complement smokiness (or) do people like that smokiness." Oh, goodness, you've just started a conversation. Remember when I said that you should look for a fancy spot where the guy behind the bar knows a lot about agave / bourbon or whatever? This is because if you can differentiate your comment on the drink enough, you can get that guy to shoulder the conversation for the next 30 minutes by letting him go on and on about .... whatever. Listen, ask leading questions, offer light opinions ("I never really liked whiskey because I think it has a bad aftertaste" is fine "GIN IS FOR PUSSIES" is not). Just ... talk.

  3. Ask the guy when he's on again (meaning, when he's working again). Show back up, do the same thing. You'll know you've made a (good) impression if they start saying "What's up, dude?" after you've walked in but before you've sat down. You'll know you're really in if they start to make you custom drinks without prompting to see what your reaction is.

3a. I wouldn't recommend this step if you haven't done this kind of thing before, but I just recently did it at a new bar I've been checking out and it was a lot of fun. If the bartender works an off evening (Tuesday/Wednesday night for instance) and you can afford the day off / hangover the next day - go in and just get hammered. Because it's an off night, it should be slow and they're likely to drink a little bit with you, comp a couple rounds, and open up the conversation topics a little more. This is kind of a "stars have to align" move, but, if you can pull it off, it's awesome.

After regularly (you know, like a regular) showing up to this bartenders shifts for three - four weeks, AND maintaining a good rolling conversation, you're set. Now back to dates and where the fun comes in.

You setup the date to meet at the bar for casual drinks. That's not hard and it's seems a little basic however She'll do the research on the bar and find out that, at the least, it's a trendy cocktail bar and she's not going to some horrible sports / dive bar with awful bathrooms and warm beer. But the magic happens when the two of you walk in and your partner in crime, the bartender, says, "What's up, TollBooth?!" and means it. You'll probably get a better seat at the bar than what the host/hostess would default to. Bartenders interact with and watch people for a living so he'll understand it's a date right off the bat. You're golden. From here, just have a normal conversation with your date and enjoy things like the following, ranked in order of most to least likely:

  • Off menu drinks (that aren't anything special, but the "off menu"-ness makes them appear so)
  • Unordered (but free) appetizers or deserts
  • Unsolicited comments about how funny / wild / smart / "different" you are from the bartender to your date
  • Totally made up stories the bartender tells to wingman you
  • Even more outlandish lies like "Yeah, last time TollBooth was in here, I ended up serving him like four drinks that these girls were buying him, it was crazy."

You have to remember that at these craft cocktail places, the over-knowledgeable bartender is running the show in the eyes of the patrons (it's actually still probably either the head chef or just the GM who's really doing it, but, whatever). So, in the eyes of your date, the most "important dude" in the building is now pumping you up like a hype man. Your date will feel like she's in the center of the attention of the place without feeling like there's a spotlight on her. She gets to feel self-satisfied that she's snagged the most popular dude. What's more, because the bartender is going to make sure service is snappy, it can even come across like you've got some sort of special pull and the dinner is somehow just better than it could be anywhere else. She'll be telling her friends about it and just drink in their envy. Your friendly bartender will also act as a constant refrain point for the conversation if you hit a weird silent phase and run out of things to say. "Rodrigo is such a cool dude," can be said again and again to restart the conversation, and it's also a subtle cue of "remember my social proof."

After the date, you do what you want. After many years of operating out of the cut-and-dry bachelor dating playbook, I don't try to move towards sex. I don't care. I want to see if I've actually captured durable attention (which is the most fought over commodity nowadays, right?) and, more importantly, if I enjoyed the conversation, feel some chemistry and compatibility, and genuinely want to see her again. Maybe a quick kiss or something and then it's part ways / separate Ubers.

Even more than dates, this works well for (casual) work dinners or happy hours. Although I'm a little hesitant to recommend it for client / sales meetings because some people get the wrong idea and think you're an alcoholic who shows up there everyday.

Some closing thoughts:

  • Why is the bartender actually doing this for you? One, by showing up regularly for a few weeks and many shifts before the date, you are spending some money and signalling you'll probably keep doing it. This is a transaction to an extent. The larger point, however, is that you made good conversation. 80% of bartender conversation is them listening to people talk about themselves and their own lives, or having to navigate petty small talk on sports, politics, and pop culture. And they're on their feet for 8 - 10 (or more hours). If you can break that monotony, they're going to love you.

  • Tip heavy always. This is a business.

  • Throughout this write-up, I've used "he" as the pronoun for the bartender and obviously assumed the bartender is male. That's the harder scenario.

You can do all of this with a female bartender too and, if you do, your date is guaranteed to end in fireworks.

Why should smart people move away from small towns, especially now that the Internet has come?

That's a fair enough point for the current generation. I have no idea how you would mean to apply that to the generations that grew up in rural America (especially Appalachia) before .... 2000? "Go get an education and come back" was also not reasonable because local economies often lacked the professional infrastructure to support (let alone attract) degree holders.

As for geographic consistency, their kin died for that ground within two or three centuries of folk memory.

Quiet part out loud, bro. You emphasized "died" instead of "fought for." Fatalism.

And what's the salience of the piece of land on which the dying occurred? Before the Civil War, a lot of sons of Appalachia died in all kinds of strange spots west of the Ohio, South of the Rio Grande, and elsewhere. Grandpa lost friends in France and Germany ... not a whole lot of country songs about the Ardennes. World War 2 veterans are remembered for the dedication to American values and a conflict against evil, imperialism, subjugation. That promotes a more generative outlook on the possibilities post-combat than the immutable fact of location and time of death.

I can, however, sympathize with Barney Google and Snuffy Smith over in the holler by the crick.

I don't know if this is an attempt at humor or not.

My family's background is roughly speaking confederate descendants who roamed around after the war with about three separate main branches settling between Appalachia and Texas.

As other comments have pointed out "whiny"-ness, let me double down that - this song continues a long tradition of folk/country/bluegrass fatalism that I have little tolerance for. "My daddy grew up here and lived as a poor man, and so did my grandaddy, and so did his daddy...but we all grew up right, and I'm gonna stay here and be just like them!" .... Why / how is inter-generational poverty a virtue? If it's the case that your in such an awful economic situation that you can't advance your lot in life more than several generations before you, you have all of my sympathy. And that same sympathy disappears the second you turn that situation into some sort of battle cry of authenticity or moral superiority.

There's something to be said here about crabs in a bucket, and how it seems like - for more than a few cultures inspired by Southern Clanish / Honor cultures - the only way to prove authenticity and adherence to "traditional" (and, therefore, right) cultural norms is through demonstrated poverty and dysfunction.

Why is that the goal? Sure, I have a deep appreciation for stories about the dust bowl I heard growing up, but I have more appreciation that my Dad and Uncles used the G.I. bill to get STEM degrees and were also willing to move the family around for job opportunities. Law obeying, studious, industrious, and economically astute seems like a good rubric for "Rasied 'Em Right!" when compared with impulsive, prone to violence, substance abuse, obsessed with vague notions of honor but .... geographically consistent?

The unfortunate fact is that your suffering alone yields no accolade or social currency. No one cares. The best you can do, as this song tries to, is whip up some strong emotionalism and try to trade-the-currency for moral deference. But that exchange rate is never strong and that commodity expiry is measured in hours.

I haven't. I'm scared too because I'm worried it will ruin the original for me. That's very ... silly thing to say, but it's also the truth.

Plus, I'm a sucker for Jessica Harper from the original as well as her doppelganger Karen Allen (Marion in Raiders of The Lost Ark)


As a millennial, I have to say this is not because I'm some suburban goth with a weird Nightmare Before Christmas fetish (have never actually seen that movie). It's for two (groups of) reasons.

  1. Autumn, where I grew up, was just fucking phenomenally beautiful. Explosive oranges and reds across the forest. The crispness of the air - not chillingly cold and definitely beyond the sloth inducing slow humidity of summer. Finally, my High School had a weird location / situation where our football team was good and fun to watch, but without the generational fanaticism of Texas / Alabama / Georgia / whatever other Southeastern state often has that makes a game between literal children into something one step removed from Presidential Politics / Sunni-Shia schismatics.

  2. Chicks dig Halloween. I'm not referring to the cliche about "dressing up like sluts" or whatever was in (I think) Mean Girls. I mean the (far more effective) woo-woo witchy vibes that seem to work wonders for setting the mood. The harvest season, and themes of agricultural abundance have always had some strang association with fertility and sexual activity. The VVitch has this featured prominently. For some reason, even very modern and post-modern raised women seem to sense this. I'm not going to speculate on the psychology in a Friday Fun thread. All I know is that I first caught wind of that many years ago. I had a friend who was a horror movie connoisseur and introduced me to Dario Argento's original Suspiria. The "gore" is fairly tame for current standards, and it's mostly very moody / atmospheric film making. But part of that atmosphere is taking off your clothes, I guess. If there was ever a fantastic wingman in film form, it's Suspiria.

Yep! I'm a loser for not getting the title correct. I appreciate the correction as I think the film is very much worth watching.

In a Socialized economy, you'd all go to the town council to convince them that the plant would be a net positive for the town

What if the town council disagrees with my idea? Am I not allowed to start the business?

Suppose that the plant initially hires 50 people from the town.

Who does the hiring at the plant? Me, the "founder" or the town council?

Anyone should be able to start a government-owned businesses to allow some choices for consumers while still guaranteeing workers the value of their labor.

  1. How do you start something you don't own? This is not intended to be a snarky question. Like, what are the mechanics of starting a government-owned business? Is it like getting a drivers license?
  2. How do government-owned businesses go out of business? If they continually run at a negative cashflow, is there a shutdown procedure? Who runs this?
  3. How are their finances managed? Do they get to complement their revenue with taxpayer money a la the current budgeting cycle?
  4. Who hires additional workers into these government-owned firms? The "starter" of the business (from question 1) or the government?

"Which is more important in an internal combustion engine? Oxygen or the flammable substance?"

It's diet and exercise. You have to have both. Together.

These pills won't make people healthier. They will make people feel better about themselves. They aren't weight loss drugs, they're NextGen antidepressants. Metabolic syndrome often does not present as visible obesity. Major stomach and liver issues can go undetected for years. People will start taking these drugs and remain at a lower body weight. Then, one day, they die suddenly and any autopsy performed with reveal superfluous amounts of visceral fat, a leaking stomach, and a liver close to non-function.

Physical fitness is, among many other things, an information feedback loop. If you are in bad shape, you have been making poor health decisions. Sometimes, this can be unavoidable (late nights during crunch time at work or school, what have you). But, mostly, it's a clear indication that you're making poor, poor choices. Using something that covers up the effects of these choices does nothing to alter that decision process. I'd wager that habitual users of Wegovy etc. probably will also habitually (ab)use other substances - alcohol, narcotics, sugar, social media. This is not a road to health.

Emba is basically saying that men need to accept less.

Exactly. And this is why you have TRP and Andrew Tate's of the world. "Accept less and be, ya know, sorta happier maybe?" is the worst sales pitch of all time. Pop Culture feminism right now itself charges hard into the opposite direction; "girlboss", "lean in", "yass queen slay" (jeez, it hurt typing that last one).

In a hyper individualized society, "accepting less" is capitulation and fundamental surrender. Interestingly enough, I think you're seeing that with the > 50% of sexless, directionless men and the (literal) flavor-of-the-week "#lazygirl" meme. In a pro-social society with an clear emphasis on family, "accept less" is transformed into "team up with someone else for the long haul and do better than you could on your own." This also benefits from the fact that it's true for at least 80% of the population - post industrialized society or not. The mistake of 3rd wave+ feminism - and I do think it was a mistake, not a deliberate conspiratorial lie - was equating all of male history to the history of top 20% of males and then advocating for individual female choices that aligned to that model of human behavior.

Derive meaning from providing for a family but without the power and deference your grandfather received.

What social cues and reinforcement loops exist today that encourage this over "get money, get laid"? What's more, it takes two to tango; what place does "derive meaning for raising children" have in popular culture for young women today?

Finally, the power imbalance between a man and the state has never been higher. I can derive meaning from raising my family, but I also have to live in constant fear that a judge can order, without me being present or informed, that I not be allowed to go to my house for at least two weeks, with a high probability I am going to have a challenge to my custody rights. When a man can have his family taken away at any moment by the bureaucratic machine of the state (based on "antiquated" deference to the fragility of a woman, right?) then investing my sense of transcendental meaning into the family seems high risk.

You bring up a good point about the convergence of earnings in a post-industrial society where physical strength means far, far less. I happen to think that's a very good thing. What we've failed to reconcile, however, is how the state has both (a) failed to evolve to account for this and (b) has over-evolved to take the place of provider - often with horrible real consequences for those in specifically aims to support

Emba places the family at the center of her "new" definition of masculinity. But, I would argue, there's been a massive assault on the family unit since the 1960s that has made the goal of family formation high risk and unlikely for men of all income levels. "Please base your own conception of masculinity on an institution that is actively under assault." Hmmm, I'm no Trojan, but I think I see a horse.

I can't help but point out that a mid 2010s term in Red Pill online communities was "monk mode." The idea being that a self-improving man abstain from all hedonistic pleasures (sex,porn,masturbation,alcohol,other drugs) and exclusively pursue career/school, physical training (mostly lifting), and intellectual development. Unfortunately, what passed for "intellectual development" was as simple as listening to Jock Wilinck's podcast and reading the easier modern translations of Meditations. But, I digress. The deeper point to "monk mode" was putting mental distance between yourself and the Object of Desire (women, in this, and most, cases). Although the science behind so-called dopamine detoxes isn't really there, the mental concept is still useful enough. Stop over-stimulating your reward pathways, and a more level headed thinking should reemerge.

I don't think monastic life should be looked at as a decision to leave the sexual rat race. After watching the documentary The Holy Mountain Edit: Athos (thanks to a commenter for pointing this out!) I became far more convinced that monks who go monastic and stick with it are totally committed to growing closer to God and are willing to endure what is a brutal existence to do that. Watch the film, these guys are living in what looks like working poverty and often reflect on loneliness, doubt, depression, existential crisis. The myth of being a happy monk contentedly brewing beer with your homies covers up what is a life of constant spiritual work. Dealing with the sexual marketplace can't be anywhere near the center of that way of living.

The modern monkish retreat is what is now endemic to young, single western men; porn and substance abuse. The quickest path to satiating a need is satiating it with cheap and freely available goods no matter how short lasting (if the price is sufficiently low). With an internet connection, porn is unlimited and free forever. It may be the cheapest of cheap carbs in terms of mental sustenance, but the price is right. Pair that with an anything-but-minimum-wage job and you can afford beer and or weed. Once you cross about a $50k annual income, you can upgrade that to liquor, sports betting, and impulse buy video games. Consumer culture doesn't lead to meaning, but it can prevent acute personal despair (at least, I think, in a bell-curve majority of specifically men. I don't know about women, but that's for another post).

As far as dealing with and dating modern western woman, the internet is full of resources on how to succeed there. I'd caution that a lot of is written without any concern for classic ethics and morals as well as pro-social behavior at a societal level. If you want to get yours you can learn to do that. If you start to put a high value on pro-social behavior and believe in the traditional conservative case for strong families, you can get to a new level. You start to see overtly sexual displays not as turn offs because, as you pointed out, they hit the male lizard brain full force, but as dangerous or suspicious. I think an interesting and hopefully benign comparison is that of a lava flow - it looks cool as hell, but you don't really want to get closer than a half mile to it.

Many other mottizens have made great contributions to commentary on the sexual revolution and sexual liberalism since the 1960s. My only addition there is that carnal consumption is like any other consumption; we've grown into a society that permits and even flirts with glorifying gluttony. Food, sex, substances, instant gratification purchases, gratuitous "experience" spending, even over consumption of cheap digital goods (doomscrolling) all come with a cost. Fortunately, the individual doesn't need anything from society to practice moderation. It's up the individual to reframe what he or she may see as "abundance I don't have" to "gluttony I don't want."

You are correct and I agree.

The image or function I had in my head was the 1-for-1 swapping of police for social work. That's what led to my lead-off assertion. Police certainly do de facto social work and I wouldn't call that a blatant misuse of them as a civic resource.

I also enjoy your point that the larger criminal justice system is often dysfunctional and can lead to good deeds going punished. A police might recommend to the DA that little timmy not be thrown in jail, but that same DA is facing a tough reelection in a "tough on crime" jurisdiction and throws the book at little timmy. Flip it around and you have what literally happened in Baltimore over the past several years where the DA declined to prosecute illegal firearms charges (with solid evidence) because of .... something.

I guess that's a good angle to consider. If we did flood the streets with social workers, how would that alter the criminal justice system of them? Would DAs bemoan the lack of casework coming their way? Would Cops only do the paperwork on the really violent crimes and let the middle-ground stuff (theft, possession with intent) just go into the ether? Pondering @Ponder's comment.

Mostly concur, but would like to add a dose of your own (well stated!) nuance.

I don't like the bright line distinction between "legal" drug and "illegal drug." The fact of the matter is that while it is easy to say "hey, if we all just use drugs safely and don't put ourselves in the position to harm others, we can legalize all but the most chemically addictive / mind altering," there is going to he a HUGE percentage of the population that just can't adhere to those guardrails and, worse, will cause disproportionate negative impact to the rest of society. It can't just be 0-or-100 legal versus illegal for substances. I much prefer the illegal-decriminalized-legal spectrum, as well as penalties on associated behaviors.

The best example is alcohol. If I'm hammered inside of a bar (legal) and then go outside, I'm now drunk in public. This is anywhere from a fine to misdemeanor offense in most jurisdictions but, most importantly, is often not aggressively enforced. It's used as an automatic gotcha when someone who is technically drunk in public starts engaging in antisocial behavior; accosting passers by, opening urinating / defecating, dangerous pedestrian conduct around traffic etc. For most people who just sort of stumble home - even if they're truly wasted - they probably won't catch the charge.

So, for substances like weed, psychedelics, MDMA, I'd like to see something similar and heavily tilted towards fines instead of "on your permanent record!" charges. Let's say you take some mushrooms and stare at your hand in the park for hours. Cool, guy. Have fun. But if you take a bunch of mushrooms and run around naked and shouting, I'd like to see not only the disorderly conduct charge, but also something along the lines of "psychedlic safety fine." This goes towards sending a signal - and imposing a real material cost - that might modulate the behavior of marginal users (hardcore addicts / abusers is a different story and I acknowledge that ... as should we all). If you're on the borderline between problem usage and harmless recreation fun, I really want there to be a feedback loop for you to conclude, "every time I take mushrooms, I get a ticket, a summons, and it costs be $300 extra bucks. I can't keep afford to act this way.)

I haven't totally thought through the second order effects of these ideas, so if I've missed an obvious anti-pattern, I'll wipe the egg off my face.

Social work instead of policing is a false premise to begin with. They aren't substitutes - that's the point and the whole problem.

Policing is about addressing (swiftly) and preventing (through disciplined proactive action) violent or otherwise extremely damaging anti-social behavior. It's very immediate and constant. Social work is more oriented proactive and cooperative skill building and promoting pro-social behaviors.

A good analogy is to use the cousins of Police, firefighters. Firefighters (putting aside their EMT roles for a moment) is about stopping a fire immediately and quickly (hoses etc.) Additionally, fire departments have to proactively prevent fires by requiring buildings to be up to code. The whole point is about stopping fires, not about building new buildings or fixing up older ones that just need a little paint and spackle.

If you run over to me and go "oh my god, my house is on fire!" and my first response is "Well, let's pick up the trash in your yard, repaint the walls, and plant some new trees!" You're going to be furious. That is exactly, however, the argument for "social workers instead of cops."

Because it's in the Sunday thread, I'll use a fun low stakes response.

There was a time in the early to mid 2010s where male grooming accidentally looped around both sides of the culture war. On the right, dudes started growing out beards because of the military special operations affiliation (SEALs etc. famously get to ignore grooming standards and push to an extreme.) I think this also coincided with a wave of Viking-related media which roughly coded right. Simultaneously, on the left, beards started being used to signal a sort of neo-hippy/bohemian/burning man/tech bro vibe. Guilfoyle in Silicon Valley leaned into this. Chunky dudes into Craft Beer and board games really took it far.

(un?)fortunately other fashion and grooming signals usually reduced the ambiguity. Right coded dudes often had the undercut haircut to go with the beard and wore the various tactical-inspired clothing styles (fitted polos, earth tone sneakers / boots). Left coded dudes would have band teeshirts, lots of flannel, flat brims, ear gauges. You could usually figure it out pretty easily.

But I'll always enjoy the time I watched an actual beardy-military dude and a very in shape rock climber exchange 90 minutes of workout advice and hiking / climbing stories, only to have Mr.SEAL go "Dude, where do you hunt?" and the Vegan Boulder stare him dead in the face and go "I would never hurt a living thing."

"I do not" at weddings probably has a less awkward silence.

"...contribute significantly to the rural character..."

"...the stewardship many feel for their communities."

This reads like the preamble to some hardcore NIMBY organizations' charter. Amorphous phrases that point to "character", "community" and (unelected) "stewardship" don't trump personal property rights. They're not even in the same neighborhood.

And when is the "character" of a place set in stone? This is straight up No True Scotsman 101. This is such a literal trope the Simpson have a hallmark episode about it. The only constant is change and no person or group gets to self-appoint as "arbiter of the good character of a place and community." That's a well paved road to localized authoritarianism.

I definitely code traditionalist conservative, but trampling on individual and property rights "to make sure we keep the Main Street Habdashery up for another 100 years" is the same as when progressives want to outlaw parental choice in schools so that "we can end bigotry forever by forcing Ibram X. Kendi book reports."

While I can't quite bring myself to call casual sex immoral, I can definitely stand on terming it anti-social and/or degenerative to society.

First, two major starting assumptions:

(1) The reasons people commit murder in all non-nomadic societies across epochs can be roughly grouped into three broad areas: Money / resources, social standing or prestige, and sexual partner access or exclusivity.

(2) The Judeo-Christian theory of marriage, which has strongly influenced secular marriage laws in western societies, is concerned with regulating sexual activity to ensure more couples are starting more families instead of a very, very few percentage of men impregnating everyone, leaving much of their progeny to fend for themselves and, if the local community is small enough, getting to really thorny issues around incest and inbreeding in just a few generations. Long term monogamous pair bonding that produces above replacement level births is the best way in humans have come up with for building long lasting societies that persist over multiple centuries if not longer.

Any personal sexual strategy that ignores the first assumption (why murder?) and is directly in opposition to the second (marriage is good and we should be marriage-like even if we aren't doing the vows/ring/contract thing) is degenerative at the societal level even if it is well managed at the individual level. I think a really useful analogy is hard drugs like heroin or even cocaine. Why isn't there a sincere decriminalization / legalization movement for those drugs the way there is/was one for marijuana? Is it so hard to imagine people "responsibly" using cocaine / heroin in the privacy of their own homes? Sure, if they use it and then go out and engage in other behavior that's illegal or antisocial, we arrest them for that secondary behavior. But what's so wrong with just the use itself?

Well, the standard argument (that I agree with) goes "it's just far too high of a risk that even infrequent use of cocaine and heroin will result in extremely damaging behaviors." This doesn't even touch on the much stronger risk of addiction and the secondary degenerative behaviors that go towards supporting an addiction.

Sex is extremely powerful and therefore poses some real risk - again - at the aggregate societal level. There are certainly people out there who can find casual sex partners who understand that they are casual sex partners and both parties (or more than two if you're into that ;-) ) can leave the experience feeling fine. But, in my estimation, the vast majority of society cannot, especially over repeated trials. This brings up one important additional point related to body count.

Hyping female virginity is odd in a society with technology that allows us to determine paternal identity. No one who recommends low body county for women says this (in the West) because "how do we figure out who the kid's dad is?!?" No, the argument - often poorly formed - is that there is something suspicious about a woman who sleeps around with multiple guys even if both she and those guys are up front about the casual nature of the relationship. She is seen as somehow less valuable because of these repeated liaisons. Let's throw in a trope (because culture wars are fun) that our hypothetical female in this scenario also has some trendy tattoos, several piercings, and rotates through hair-dying phases. Why is this woman both often so compelling yet so reviled? Risk. She is signaling her high risk tolerance - preference even. Well, why is that bad? People are allowed to make their own risk assessments of their partners. True, but an overall higher risk tolerant society, especially at the point of family creation, will start to see higher base levels of instability. This doesn't guarantee fast and radical demise of the society as a whole, but it can absolutely raise the base levels of violent interpersonal conflict.

(A quick aside: Substitute in a Andrew Tate kind of fellow bedding random models at will for the female in our above scenario if you like - I don't think the responsibility in casual sex is anything other than equal across sexes).

So, what to do about casual sex in a society that now absolutely condones and even actively supports it? The first and obvious answer is to simply reject it. I'm not saying "virgin until marriage" but I am saying serial monogamy (with relationships lasting in several months) or celibacy / masturbation. In terms of finding a good partner, explicitly ask them about things like body count, perspectives on casual sex etc. If they adhere to the default line of "people shouldn't be judged on their sexual history!" well ... you have your answer, don't you?

From a policy level, I'd love to see massive bonuses for earlier family formation and marriage (i.e. you get huge tax incentives to get married and procreate before 30) ... however, I feel like this is legally really hard to do and would get into a whole strong of Supreme Court cases. There are more intelligent legal minds on The Motte who can comment. A general trend to support more sexual modesty would help, but that's not going to happen. Structured dating is something I'm sort of optimistic on. There's a tacit acknowledgement that the big dating apps create a tyranny of choices for women, and a desert/starvation feedback loop for most men. I've (anecdotally) seen a trend back towards social-group expansion dating where women won't go out with someone who has been "endorsed" by a friend. This also carries with it the added friction of not wanting to be that girl/guy in the friend group who just bounces around from bed to bed. (A fun question to ask related to this is "Sure, people shouldn't be judged on their sexual histories ... how many friends do you have who are avowed sluts / cocksmen?")

Wrapping up where I started, because casual sex can be consensual in a way that murder/rape/theft cannot be, I don't think I can quite file it under "IMMORAL.That's a paddlin" but I think it's fair to say that regular casual-sex-havers are probably not who we want to model all of society on and should be viewed as a sort of 1970s swingers kind of eccentric or outcast.