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Friday Fun Thread for June 7, 2024

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.

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I watched the full Extended Editions of LoTR in the theater over weekend. It was the first time in years that I have watched them all the way through, and my wife's first time seeing them, ever. We popped edibles in the parking lot and smuggled in a full dinner in her purse for the FOUR HOURS we were in that chair each night three nights in a row. Random disorganized thoughts:

-- This is the first time I've been in a movie theater this year. Last year I attended three movies: I took my dad to a showing of American Graffiti for its fiftieth anniversary, I took my wife to see Barbie and to the Eras Tour movie. Halfway through 2024, I've also seen three movies: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. So in the past eighteen months, they've convinced me to go to the movies six times, and in that time I've only seen a single new movie (Barbie), plus an "event" film in the Eras Tour. The movie theater business is dying, at a rapid clip, and the cause of its death isn't cost it is competition. Competition from the past. My dad, as many boomers, is under the impression that the problem is that movies cost too much, when he was a kid they were a dollar! Well, from 1960 to today a dollar is $10.59, meaning the difference in price compared to this weekend is $2.41. My wife and I got through the whole trilogy for $78 in tickets, and I ordered a large diet Dr. Pepper (felt like about a liter) for another $21 total, for a total of around $100 on the weekend. Essentially nothing for us, a fancy dinner. No, the problem is that the new movies that come out just aren't compelling enough. The streaming product is that we start a movie, often a movie from some list of "the best [genre] of [decade]" and if we don't like it (like when Elizabethtown was recommended by so many people as a great RomCom, only for me to find it totally unwatchable because Orlando Bloom couldn't do an American accent to save his life) we can stop halfway and try a different one. The only things that pull me into the theater anymore are movies I know I like (LoTR, American Graffiti) or movies that are so important culturally that one ought to see them out of paraseitin (Eras, Barbie). Unless the film industry can figure out how to produce a lot of culturally important events in a hurry, they're dead. Movie theaters are going to look more like amusement parks in density within a decade or two.

-- Going with my lovely wife really felt like an event. It was the same people each night, of course, mostly in the same seats, it felt like clocking in for a shift. It really felt like a moment, I enjoyed that a lot.

-- Comparing the female leads and their plots, Eowyn aged much better than Arwen. Eowyn's story is handled perfectly, Hall of Fame Not Like the Other Girls. She doesn't hulk out, she's not as strong as the lads, she struggles and barely hangs on, her triumph is based on a mix of luck, courage, and legalistic interpretations of prophecy. Just perfectly handled. Arwen, on the other hand, fell flat for me. Victim of her own success: while Tolkien pretty much originated most of the modern system of "races" in every fantasy universe, he was a stoic proper Catholic and viewed human-elf relations as something that might happen a couple times an Age; his hornier progeny have basically agreed that if we can make halves with anything, we will, all the time. So the Human-Elf romance thing just didn't hit that hard for me, though watching it again I did think about how Elrond had seen his brother go down that path. I wonder to what extent it's how common it all is in fantasy, and to what extent this just maps onto interracial marriages in our reality. In Tolkien's day they were mostly pretty rare, and a big deal. Today, it just isn't enough to carry a plot, interracial relationship plots are actually on my "banned plots" list next to "WWII resistance" and "Ivy League NYC Jew/WASP drowns in ennui" which I refuse to read a book about.

-- It's interesting to me how GRRM's argument with Tolkien stays stuck in my head, seeing the film has me thinking those same thoughts:

Tolkien, of all the authors I mentioned earlier, had an impact on me, but Tolkien is right up there at the top. I yield to no one in my admiration for The Lord of the Rings – I re-read it every few years. It’s one of the great books of the 20th century, but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s perfect. I keep wanting to argue with Professor Tolkien through the years about certain aspects of it.

He did what he wanted to do very brilliantly, I’ve said this before, but… I look at the end and it says Aragorn is the king and he says, ‘And Aragorn ruled wisely and well for 100 years’ or something. It’s easy to write that sentence. But I want to know what was his tax policy, and what did he do when famine struck the land? And what did he do with all those Orcs? A lot of Orcs left over. They weren’t all killed, they ran away into the mountains. Sauron fell down, but you see all the Orcs running away. Did Aragorn carry out a policy of systematic Orc genocide? Did he send his knights out into the hills to kill all the Orcs? Even the little baby Orcs? Or was there Orc rehabilitation going on. Trying to teach the Orcs to be good citizens. And if the Orcs were the result of Elves… could Orcs and Elves intermarry?”

GRRM has stated that a lot of the inspiration for ASOIAF/AGOT was an attempt to correct or explore Tolkien. What happens the day after the true king takes the throne? What does Aragorn's Tax Policy look like? AGOT opens post RoTK: Ned Stark and Bobbie Baratheon were the heroic kids who overthrew the wicked king, and then what happens? At his best, ASOIAF does provide interesting views and answers and insight into those questions. Characters like Rob Stark and Tyrion Lannister are fantastic explorations of fantasy tropes. But his ultimate failure is simple: he can't land the plane. He can't write the last book. Until he manages to bring the whole thing home, he loses by default.

But watching all three films, in three nights, I kept asking myself the same questions. Why were the tactics practiced in Gondor so uniformly AWFUL? What was the idea when they launched a cavalry charge at a fortification? How exactly were the Orcs kept out of the Shire? Where was Denethor getting all those tomatoes? What do trade routes look like, there are lots of ports but it isn't clear what's on the other side? What did existing power-centers in Gondor do with Aragorn, who has little administrative experience at a city scale? I get it, GRRM, I get it.

-- I vibed with Theoden a lot more in my 30s, and Faramir a lot less. At 12, idk Faramir just made sense to me, I recognized the under-appreciated son immediately. This time, I thought Faramir was kinda whiny and annoying, remaining under Denethor's command even as he's sent to cavalry charge a wall was...just too stupid for me to respect him as a character. How was there no Gondorian alternative government or opposition? Theoden, I got. I didn't really appreciate reading or watching as a teen, the way guilt must feel on him, knowing he let Rohan fall into destruction, and the redemption he finds in Pellenor Fields.

-- The Uruk Hai are overrated Tomato Cans, they can't win a war to save their lives. We see Uruks get killed by everyone who steps to them. In general the film's violence is perfectly choreographed, I loved watching it, but it felt like every cut showed either Bad Guys Killing Good Guys or Good Guys Killing Bad Guys, rarely or never both at the same time. I didn't count, but it felt like 90% of the scenes in Helm's Deep or outside Minas Tirith one side is clearly winning locally. This was overdone aggressively in the Ride of the Rohirrim, it felt like I watched more of them die than they said they had on hand.

-- Fanghorn is FDR, Eomer is De Gaulle, Osgiliath is Verdun and Denethor is Petain, Saruman is a Quisling, the ringbearers trip to Valinor is soldiers accepting their PTSD scarred alcoholic buddies fading into irrelevance. Tolkien rejected Allegory, which is why it's so easy and appealing to map allegories to his work.

-- We loved this movie in the boy scouts, and watching it now it's so obvious that it's a movie about going hiking with your friends. The core key element is Frodo and Sam hiking the distance of the Appalachian Trail. Frodo and Sam were just so fucking good at walking! It makes me think of how, reading War and Peace I thought about Napoleon, and his famous forced marches, and how up until relatively recently, walking really fast (especially as a group) was a top tier military skill. Only since WWI and WWII has walking really fast been rendered pretty much irrelevant. The film constantly features people running when they should be walking, sprinting when they should be jogging, to give the impression of pace. But the reality of traveling that far, carrying weapons, would have been more like A Walk in the Woods than anything else, just trying to keep moving over absurd distances. Makes me want to listen to an audiobook of LoTR while I walk every night for a year or however long it would take.

-- It's sad to me that the media made since the trilogy has been so bad I don't even want to watch it. I might get around to finding somewhere to stream the 2hr cut of all three Hobbit movies. But my wife commented: if they want to make this diverse, why not just make the people from different places be different races? Rohan calls for aid and people turn up from all over, make some of them Arabs or whatever. Make a TV show out of the Blue Wizards that we know piss-all about and how they kept the Chinese out of the war. There's so many stories to tell! Why fuck up the ones we actually got?

-- This has to be the number one fantasy film of all time, collectively, right? Nothing else comes close in my mind. They did such a good job on the adaptation, there are so many Easter Eggs in the acting and the dialogue that people who read the Silmarillion will pick up on, but for the most part none of it gets in the way of someone like my wife enjoying the show.

The funny thing about GRRM's "argument" with Tolkein is that Tolkein wins even on GRRM's own terms. The logistics and economy of Westeros are a complete mess. Martin has 14th century armies fighting 17th century wars across 19th century distances backed up by 11th century agrarian technology and political organization. Ironically, no one has a coherent tax policy, and the difficult nitty gritty details of managing a medieval state or organizing a medieval military campaign are largely ignored in favor of "and then thr knights robbed, raped, and murdered everyone" grimdark "realism." GRRM knows a lot of good stories from the Middle Ages--the family drama of the War of the Roses, Shakespeare's history plays, events like the Black Dinner and Massacre of Glencoe (though, notably, his references are mostly early-modern or maybe very late medieval)--but his understanding of the actual history tends to be pretty shallow and not particularly well-researched.

Tolkein, by contrast, was a professor of medieval language and history, who actually knew quite a bit about the socio-politico organization of medieval societies. It's just that a lot of that information is kept in the background, and often implied rather than stated due to Tolkein's narrative focus. Aragorn's tax policy isn't described in the Lord of the Rings because it's not important to the story, but that doesnt mean Tolkein didnt think about it or that the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor was somehow less realistic than The Seven Kingdoms.

We can piece together Aragorn's likely tax policy quite easily. He's the feudal monarch of a large, mostly agrarian society that was recently victorious in a massive war. Aragorn wouldn't have had much of a tax policy. The feudal lords of his kingdom might have their own tax polcies and remit some of that income upward, but their obligations to the king would be almost exclusively in the form of military service (likewise, Aragorn wouldn't be personally responsible for maintaining the local infrastructure, etc.). The crown would have been funded by a combination of rents from tenant farmers on the Pellenor fields and other parts of the royal demesne, fees/tolls on bridges, ferries, and ports, and likely some sort of commercial tariff on merchants operating in Minas Tirith (and maybe Pelargir, I don't recall how the chief port of Gondor is administered). And of course all of this would probably have been dwarfed by tribute/loot extracted from Morder and subjugated peoples to the East and South. None of this is spelled out in the book, but can be inferred from other details Tolkein does provide and due to the general verisimilitude with which these pseudo-historical societies are depicted throughout.

If Tolkein were alive today to debate GRRM and both were asked to describe their king's tax policy (GRRM can pick any of his kings he wants), I guarantee you Tolkein would provide a significantly more nuanced, complex, and historically authentic answer than GRRM could.

I know he has something of a mixed reputation around these parts (mostly due to his habit of assuming his expertise extends much farther than it does when commenting on modern geopolitics, though. I don't think he's terribly controversial when he stays in his lane), but historian Bret Devereaux has a really great series of blog posts discussing the historical authenticity of both authors' work (focusing on his specialty: ancient/medieval military logistics). I'd start here (https://acoup.blog/2019/05/10/collections-the-siege-of-gondor/).

Thanks for reminding me, I have all of acoup's LOTR content to dig into!

But his ultimate failure is simple: he can't land the plane. He can't write the last book. Until he manages to bring the whole thing home, he loses by default.

Maybe ASOIAF is best understood not as a story, but as performance art with rich social commentary about how our culture rejects the wisdom of the past, proceeds to deconstruct it, first promising to build something better in it's place, then seemingly for nothing but pure spite, only to discover not only that they cannot land the plane, but that there isn't a plane left to land, as they're still flying through the skies at high velocity.

Martin is a skilled writer, but it's not his world building that I enjoy the most, it's his characters. He could model so many different personalities, and make them compelling in their own way. His ideas on tax policy and whatnot are kind if midwitty, and it only shows the wisdom of past writers that they steered clear of such matters, and glossed over them with "happily ever after".

I highly suggest double checking reading the books with the movies. I know a lot of people dislike the books for being too slow, but one of the important works that make Tolkien Tolkien is his language, not just what happens. Remember that LOTR is not a book series of logistics and accounts but rather an epic poem in the style of Illiad, Homer, and Gilgamesh. GRRM's question is applicable but also somewhat irrelevant, as Tolkien was writing romantically rather than practically.

It's a failure and modern language and how the corporate world has transformed common communication that we now want perfect details and descriptions of logistics, supply chains, and contracts instead of a much more (literally) accounted retailing of a story. While it would be interesting to write a fantasy story in the perspective of a CPA auditing the misty mountain or an insurer assessing a citizens claim that a trebuchet destroyed their home and requires a payout, I'd argue that wasn't the point of LOTR and shouldn't be faulted against it.

My biggest gripe of the movies (beyond that some of the lines and comic insertions of Franz Walsh didn't fit the setting or Tolkien's setting) is that the music really isn't correct. It isn't bad, but the strong Celtic borrowing that Howard Shore used in his composition isn't particularly accurate to the world.

-- In the end I come down on Tolkien's side in that "argument" because I do think LOTR is a masterpiece, and I don't think it's possible to write a profound work with a satisfying ending in the "realistic" or grimdark model of GRRM. However, I do see his point, and I think it's an interesting thing to consider. In the same way we can read between the lines of Homer and start to think about the society he wrote about and the one he was performing for, we can read between the lines of Tolkien and find insight.

-- I'm planning on rereading them later this year, with my wife. She really wants to read the books now, to score "best tits on a woman to read LOTR" points and because she loved the movies. I'm thinking it feels more like a Fall-Winter book, and I've got a lot in the queue right now to clear out. I'm recommending she reads The Hobbit first, it's a quick fun beach read and she'll find out if she likes Tolkien before committing to the trilogy. Then in September we'll start the trilogy together.

-- I'll defend the adaptations, I actually loved the soundtrack in theaters. The theme notes for the Shire and for Rohan are perfect. The tragedy of Theoden is perfectly captured by the strings. The adaptations are works of art in their own right, it's not an easy work to adapt what with needing actors to speak Elvish. My biggest gripe is probably Gandalf, he's more like Asimov's Mule than he is like Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker but that's hard to film, so he ends up doing this weird stage fight with Saruman where they gesture at each other, which might have been fine had it been much shorter but got goofy by the end.

I believe plenty of well endowed women have read LOTR, though probably less now than in the time it was published :) If you want to go a bit further into early Tolkien I'd suggest Farmer Giles of Ham though is essentially a children's rendition of the Hobbit and almost could be considered and early sketch of his later, more substantial, works.

I loved the soundtrack initially, and I agree the Shire and Rohan leitmotif are excellent. My nitpick is after watching the movies after decades of contemplation, not one out of immediate reaction. Gandalf's deus ex machina-esque characterization is further illustrated in the books, in that Gandalf is essentially an angel and not purely human, something which is hard to illustrate and represent in the movie.

This evening, I learned that there's a Wikipedia article dedicated to /pol/.

Reading it was a real walk down memory lane. Anyone remember #SuperStraight?

Should I be paying attention to /pol/? Serious question.

A decade ago, yes. For the past ~four years it is all bots designed to cause psychological damage to you (unironically). If you have some keyword and want to see the discussions there, just go on 4Plebs and type in your inquiry.

Of all sad words,

Of tongue and pen,

The saddest are these:

"/pol/ was right again."

Pol is really good at jerking themselves off and jizzing their success at every psyops that ferments into public awareness. Their heyday was trump, but now they're just edgy contrarians. Peruse r9k for understanding meme culture among terminally online men, and /k or /v for front seat tickets to successful psyops.

I used to laugh at schizophrenic /pol/tards (who to be fair are pretty easy to laugh at) but the board does have its use cases, although it definitely requires mental filters to avoid brain-melting schizo exposure. Personal highlight is probably the happy little Chabad hobby tunneling accident, when every single American media outlet went totally radio silent while waiting for orders and literally the only place on the internet where I could find actual videos and happenings in the immediate wake were the scattered /pol/ threads popping on and off the catalog. It's decently documented now but it felt quite surreal at the moment, I don't laugh as much anymore and think such a place is definitely handy to have on the rare occasion that the fabric of reality tears so obviously.

Similarly with the Capitol riot -- it's pretty good live newsfeed aggregator on... things that are interesting to poltards I guess. You do need to figure out how to disregard the things that are completely made up, but it's usually easier to tell what that is than other media outlets.

Does anyone here actually consider Western food amongst their favorite cuisines?

Personally, I find American cuisine is downright trash-tier. My city is lauded by many as a "top-tier food city" but the examples people give of great food are pizza, hot dogs, burgers, Italian beef, and cheesesteak. Most of the ones I've tried I would call oil-drenched slop. None were actually delicious enough to justify the health detriments, especially when similarly unhealthy but better tasting options exist like Mexican tacos, Indian curry, Iranian kababs, Japanese ramen, Chinese hot pot, etc.

In my experience, this has applied to Western countries in general. Except for the Mediterranean-adjacent Italian, Spanish, and Greek, I don't think I've ever particularly enjoyed any other Western food. Do Canada, Australia, and New Zealand even have an identifiable cuisine? I don't know of any British, Nordic, or Slavic restaurants in my area. France is stereotyped as the culinary capital, but most of what I've had was overpriced and looked better than it actually tasted.

It may be that most of the hype around Western food is concentrated in fine-dining, in which I'm largely uninterested. When it comes to a more typical meal, I have a hard time putting any country (aside from Italy/Spain/Greece) above bottom tier when comparing to other regional cuisines from East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, or Latin America.

So am I eating the wrong things, is my taste atypical for someone raised in the West, or is it relatively common for most Western cuisines to be clustered in the bottom-tier?

Do Canada, Australia, and New Zealand even have an identifiable cuisine?

English Canada has always been extremely culturally interlinked with the US, so the only popular foods in Canada that didn't make it accross the border are from Quebec.

Australia / NZ have some local adjustments to the general Anglo cuisine. Prawns are a lot more common. Vegemite and Fairy Bread failed to become popular elsewhere. Emu and Kangaroo are more common.

British food in general is built around the idea that high quality cuts of meat can stand on their own. If you're spicing roast beef until you can't taste the beef, why are you paying for it?

Also British food has some presentation issues. Mince and tatties would be much more visually appealing if they just served it in a bowl with the potatoes on the bottom.

Foods that are basically a sandwich are mostly junk everywhere. Good western food plays to the strengths of the west - i.e. good protein. American BBQ is great, steaks are good in the west, pork, chicken, fish on the coasts. Even meat loaf is pretty good. Then pair that up with whatever non-fried side - this is where especially the US is bad because you don’t seem to understand what a salad is - and that’s a great meal.

I find that quality is orthogonal to cuisine. I've had really good and really bad versions of different cuisines.

American cuisine excels at producing and finding uses for preservable sauces and seasonings (S&S). Ketchup, Mustard, BBQ, Mayonaise, Hot Sauces, Old Bay, etc. And it is best at adopting foreign S&S into the cuisine, like Sriracha, Chipotle, Soy, etc. Certain "Americanized" foods like Chinese takeout is basically just heavily sauced versions of easily found American food General Tso's / Orange Chicken / Sweet and Sour / etc. If you don't enjoy the major S&S you won't generally enjoy American cuisine. Just like its hard to enjoy Indian food if you don't like curry.

I think British cuisine is often maligned too for the wrong reasons (I see you @fartVader). Its meant to be had at a pub with beer on a rainy shitty day. Much of it is very dense and thus good at holding in heat as you slowly eat it to warm up while drinking your beer at the same time. The flavor should be coming from the beer, which is why everyone calls most British food flavorless. But its like taking the curry out of Indian food and deciding that its all bland as a result. The food is meant to be bland, because its a vehicle for flavor from another source!

Italian and Parisian food often get lauded as the best food, but I think that is because both of those food traditions are meant to be served in restaurants with fine wines. The word restaurant is French! (also I say Parisian food instead of French food quite intentionally. Paris is a mega city with its own culture and food, and mostly that is what has been exported around the world.)

Street food from various cuisines you should look for foodtrucks that serve them. I've mostly never enjoyed Kabob, but I do usually enjoy it from a food truck. Took me some time before I figured that one out, specifically going to the foodtruck and brick and mortar versions of the same local brand of kabob and realizing that only the food truck one was good.

Asian Hot Pot should be eaten out of a hot pot.

Low and slow smoke or pit BBQ needs to be overseen by a pit master. If they use automated technology it turns to crap for some reason.

Things like a philly cheesesteak should be had at a sports game or during a lunchbreak when you've been doing physical labor.

Sushi should be eaten freshly made.

Korean BBQ should be grilled in front of you and eaten with KPop blaring in the background.


TL;DR: Cuisine has cultural and situational context, and some cuisines really fall apart when you take them out of that context. I think if you don't enjoy "Western" food you possibly just don't like the cultural or situational context necessary to enjoy them.

Yes, absolutely.

Eggs Benedict, or biscuits and gravy.

Sandwiches are top-tier, especially with high quality meats and cheeses, and I challenge any cuisine to compete with the PB&J in terms of ease of preparation, portability, and palatability.

Steak and potatoes with a caesar salad.

Beef stew and pot roast. Cottage pie and shephard's pie and chicken pot pie.

Most of the ones I've tried I would call oil-drenched slop.

This is my impression of Indian food. Meat in oily, spicy gravy. Literally slop, incredibly oily. Still tasty, mind you, but the most obvious slop I've ever seen.

I think I have sampled just about every relevant contender in these domains and come to the belief that Germany has the best savoury baked goods (including in particular bread) and Sweden has the best sweet ones.

There's plenty of greatness in the Mediterranean space but maybe we're excluding it. I concur with appreciating English breakfast; there are also some soups in my native cuisine (Russian) that I would be unhappy to do without. In the US, Cajun cuisine is the only regional one that I found worthwhile, and it's hard to count it as non-Mediterranean Western given how it's largely a fusion of French and Afro-Caribbean. Maybe KFC (which nowadays is good everywhere except for the Anglo countries), or Popeye's for a still-okay-in-the-US substitute, would count?

In general it does seem to be true that northern foods are generally less interesting - even the ones that people praise seem to be more in the "lots of high-quality protein, prepared in a way that doesn't ruin the taste" (steaks, good burgers) class than anything that registers as cuisine. This extends to extreme latitudes elsewhere (Mongolian food is legendarily terrible, and I would consider the outer reaches of commoner Northern Chinese food to be bland in the same way cabbage-and-potatoes Eastern European food is. What I've tried of Chilean food gave me similar vibes). It might be tempting to blame this on a lack of aromatic plants (plants don't have the same need to evolve repellent chemicals in areas where insect activity is low?), but many of the flavourful tropical cuisines (Japanese, Indonesian...) rely heavily on fermented products over spices.

Japan is not tropical, and Japanese food is not particularly flavorful, unless you count Japonicized continental foods like ramen and gyoza. As someone mentioned upthread with respect to British cursive, traditional Japanese cuisine is largely about purity and fresh ingredients that stand on their own.

Subtropical, surely; I'd climatically put the heartland at least in the same general class as Louisiana or the Mediterranean (east coast N hemisphere patterns suggest the former). If you go far enough back, every Japanese food of note is continental, but if you are willing to consider miso, soy sauce and fermented fish sufficiently native, those hardly make for bland fare. Generally, pickling and fermentation feature more in the older and lower-class dishes; "purity and fresh ingredients that stand on their own" sounds like copy for indulgences afforded by a modern society that has refrigeration and wants to flex it, not a tradition.

Full English Breakfast is great!

You can make perfectly decent food at home with fish, beef or lamb and vegetables. That's Western style. Steak, sausages, carrots, potatoes, beans... Put some salt and pepper on. Good to go.

Stew is pretty good, as are chicken pot pies and similar, I like burgers (especially with bleu cheese), steak is great (if that counts), roasted potatoes are great. Buttered bread can be quite good, depending heavily on the bread. I do like (American) Mexican food a lot, but I would choose Western foods over most of the other things you listed. And I don't know of any rival in desserts, though perhaps I just haven't really looked.

Northern cuisines are bland in the same way Chinese people look the same: you can argue about the definitions, but there's a grain of truth in there: Northern European cuisines are built around things that keep well: cured meat and fish, fermented vegetables, root vegetables, fruit preserves. Manchurian and Dong Bei cuisines are not exactly explosions of taste either.

A reinvention like the New Nordic cuisine basically goes all in on rare dishes and ingredients that maximize flavor and unusualness.

I can't tell about the rest of Canada, but Quebec's cuisine is mostly a mix of french, british/irish and italian, with some new world innovations added to it (some unique to us, others we share with the rest of north eastern america).

I think a lot of this is survivor bias. In order for a food to “make it” in another country, it has to be the top tier of the food in its own country. You aren’t getting trash tier Mediterranean cuisine where nonna opens the fridge and dumps odds and ends into a pot of canned tomato sauce and adds noodles to it. You aren’t getting the Chinese stir fry of chicken feet. What you’re comparing is often Western fast foods to other countries’ higher tier foods.

The other thing is that you likely eat western food daily. You have eaten millions of hot dogs and burgers. You’ve eaten your weight in French fries and Cole slaw. None of the flavors are new or exciting to you because you know what these things taste like. It’s not really a shock to the system to have yet another burger. You aren’t surprised by chicken noodle soup that you’ve been eating forever. Pho is new and interesting. Chinese food is interesting. Feta cheese tastes different than the cheese you grew up on. So you’re biased again, against western food not because it’s bad, but because it’s familiar and thus boring.

These are solid points, but I don't think they apply to my case.

I'm generally comparing popular candidates for "best pizza/burger/etc in the city" to non-Western food options and they still come up far short. On top of that, the burgers/etc. are often times recommended by Americans, whereas most of the time I have foreign cuisines with people from the relevant country they'll tell me it's only bad to average compared to what they'd find back home. Based on my experiences traveling to places like Italy/Japan they were absolutely right and "average" was being generous.

On the second point, my family almost never ate out as a child, so I was mainly introduced to these things simultaneously. The only "burgers" I had were McDonalds or Burger King and I only really think of them as "burgers" in the sense that Taco Bell makes "tacos". They were super health-conscious any wouldn't let me eat many hot dogs and the like, it was mostly lightly seasoned fish/chicken/vegetables/grains. There might be some slight effect in the sense that my average meal may have been closer to the new gourmet burger than to a ramen, but I don't think that effect is particularly large. (Funny enough, someone down-thread suggests the opposite - that early exposure creates a nostalgia effect as opposed to a familiarity-breeds-contempt effect).

Asian food tends to have a big advantage in the west because they bring over relatives with or without working papers to work in their restaurants, while domestic cuisine expects their kitchen workers to have finished cullinary school.

The "best burger" thing is a little different. I think it goes back to Blue Tribe aversions to eating beef. Going to a restaurant to try a "fancy" burger is a loophole in the taboo.

Your argument is invalid:

  • Gumbo
  • Crawfish etouffee
  • Muffaletta
  • Nachitoches meat pies
  • Grits and grillades
  • Shrimp and grits
  • Australian meat pies
  • Sunday roast
  • Fish and chips
  • Bangers and mash
  • Belgian waffles/stroopwafels
  • Schnitzel
  • Spatzel
  • Sauerkraut

I could go on. I will concede that generally speaking, American Yankees (here meaning northeastern people of pallor) are indeed doing it wrong and their food should rightfully be shunned and mocked, except for maybe desserts and lobster. Also Old Bay sucks, fight me.

Sauerkraut

I love sauerkraut as much as the next Midwesterner, but even I have to admit it’s an acquired taste. To anyone who didn’t grow up with it, it’s about as appealing as lutefisk.

I didn't grow up with it and I love it. Then again I enjoy most fermentated foods I've tried, so I'm probably not normal in that regard.

Well, then (and I can’t believe I’m actually suggesting this), maybe you should try lutefisk, which is Scandinavian fermented fish. It’s a horrible, foul, gelatinous substance, but if you like fermented food, you may actually enjoy it.

lutefisk

fermented

You are thinking of surströmming, which is fermented herring, acidic and has quite strong smell. It is advised not to open a can indoors. Lutefisk is gelatinous and has mild taste and smell, it is not a fermented product. It is dried, then soaked in godawful amount of lye solution for preservation.

Thanks for the correction. It seems I may be blending the memories of trying two awful Norwegian fish dishes into one.

I've heard of it before, and if I had the chance I would definitely try it! I had fermented skate in Korea once. It had a very unique and pungent taste.

And to add another perspective: I grew up with it (Polish family, we had so much of it) and I don't like it at all.

Old bay was developed for bars giving away crabs to sell more beer. It's salt levels reflect that. It would be far more interesting without the salt.

Spatzel

Spätzle.

Thänk you.

Just doing my ethnic duty.

Non-mediterranean western food sucks. That's well known. The French are single handedly keeping the reputation up, but French lunch/dinner doesn't make it to Tier 1. Amazing desserts and baked items though.

Spanish is honestly quite underrated. Maybe I've just been lucky, but all my best meals have been in Spain. Contemporary Spanish blends Northern African & Latin American with existing Spanish food, to give you the best cuisine. The spanish can do preserved foods, meats, rice dishes, spicy food, everything.

(Note: Must be food food. Breakfast (bakery foods) & Dessert do not count. Alcohol only counts if part of the meal itself. )

My personal ranking goes (in order):

Tier 1

  1. Spanish (Plus colonies which are primarily ethnic Spanish. Ie. If you killed ALL the natives, then you Spanish)
  2. Thai
  3. Indian (South Asian generally. I might be underrating because I want to avoid personal bias)
  4. Chinese (All Ethnic chinese food.)

Tier 1.5

  1. Mexican
  2. Japanese
  3. Korean

Tier 2

  1. French
  2. Vietnamese
  3. Brazil
  4. Peru
  5. Levant / North African
  6. Ethiopian
  7. Italy

Tier dunno much but probably good

  1. Indonesian / Malay (These are probably tier 1.5)
  2. Iranian (Too similar to Levant / Parsi-Indian to differentiate. Same for Afghani)
  3. West African (Maafe and Jollof is good)
  4. Greek / Turkish (I don't like octopus that much. Turkish breakfast is great, but rest is alright)

Tier bad

  1. British
  2. Scandinavian

Everything else is mid.

A lot of Japanese food is extremely mid and bland, though. Dining in Tokyo is great but that’s because chefs have adopted all the best French methods and cook with rare precision (compared to the rest of the world). The best, most flavorful ramen is available outside of Japan reinvented by others who wanted more from it. Japanese curries are more bland than Currywurst. A lot of bland deep fried food, almost Dutch in character.

Sushi and wagyu are good but stand out because of the ingredients (and the same is true for other Northern Euro cuisines, one could say the same about British wild game or Dover sole or oysters for example). Eating in Japan is great but it is only rarely so because Japanese cuisine is.

It seems we have similar tastes. Main differences I'd have are fusing 1/1.5 then bumping up Italy and MENA into Tier 1.

Haha, 1 and 1.5 were fused until I separated them last minute.

Middle east's best dishes are Tier 1. But, I've docked points for lack of variety. I love their mezze spread, but MENA quickly runs out of ideas once you beyond that.

Italy got docked on a technicality. Gelato and Tiramisu were considered desserts. Foccacia & Pizza went to baked goods. And Italian coffees did not feel exclusively Italian. With all of those included, Italy woud rise back up.

Does anyone here actually consider Western food amongst their favorite cuisines?

If were counting French and Italian cuisine as "Western" than yes. And that's not even considering Barbecue/Soul-food which is less "Western" and more "North American" but by my count 3 out of my 5 favorite genres of food are arguably "Western" with Mediterranean and Thai as the outliers.

So if you exclude half of western food and squint hard it's not very good outside of fine dining?

3 countries out of 30+ constitutes "half"? If we go by population, that's still <10% of "the West" (by which I mean broadly Europe + USA + Canada + Australia + New Zealand). Additionally, those three one could argue are non-central examples given their geographic location on the Mediterranean, resulting in heavy influence from MENA regions.

Yes, food isn't evenly distributed between population and polities.

If what you really wanted to say was that British food is kind of meh then I'm on board.

Your taste is not atypical for someone raised in or around immigrant enclaves where disdain for "white people food" is quite common, but less so for someone that grew up eating and therefore has at least some childhood nostalgia bound up with said food. All the same I think Western food is too broad of a category to dismiss, as even limiting ourselves to the US we have regional cuisines or styles of preparation (Cajun, Southern barbecue, Southwestern) that can put up a decent fight against what China or India has to offer.

As far as explanations for why people prefer the latter, one involves the industrialization of food production, which over time transforms meals from family gatherings where a peasant grandmother slaves for hours over a pot to squeeze every last drop of flavor out of rare and precious ingredients into mass-produced microwaveable slop that people eat by themselves solely for sustenance and not enjoyment (and this is not just in western countries; the food that the typical Japanese person eats every day is also to my eyes bland and unappetizing compared to the Korean or Chinese equivalent, since the latter two developed later), and the second is that you can usually get a better deal eating at a restaurant owned by a poor immigrant than one owned by a local i.e. why would I pay $20 for a craft burger and fries or a single appetizer at a good Italian place when I could get a giant bowl of pho for $12 (your local prices may vary proportionally) instead?

How can you think that about cheeseburgers? A great burger is always amazing, or southern BBQ, perfectly smoked brisket is objectively one of the best things you can eat. Maine lobster with potato salad and corn on the cob is quintessentially American fare and also delicious. Who can forget blueberry and apple pie for desert?

If you pick trash food from a lot of cultures it can be kind of gross, while a dry aged ribeye steak and a baked potato can be mind bendingly good. Salmon on cedar planks with fiddleheads is American all the way and very good, Alaskan Crab...Amazing, muscles in white wine and french fries, awesome, raw oysters by the dozen, delicious, crawfish boil, fun as hell.

Fresh caught trout and eggs for breakfast, real maple syrup on some buttered english muffins (invented in america) maybe a sausage on the side with a bit more syrup on it, of course baked beans as well!

I think your taste is atypical for someone raised in the West. For example, I could never agree that tacos are better than burgers. They are both incredibly tasty foods. In general, I think American food is quite good (albeit not always very distinct due to our immigrant culture and the fact we adapt a lot of other cuisine).

Indian and Italian food are the two greatest cuisines.

Both are definitely in my top tier. My first time in Italy completely changed my perception of so many foods I only thought I knew. I can barely eat pasta or pizza in the US anymore.

Few things fill me with such irrational rage as the websites that want to harvest your contact data instead of putting the info up on their website.

Especially if they make you answer a bunch of questions to "choose the right offer" and then ask you for your phone number.

At least they all use the same widget that comes from the same CRM and I've learned to recognize it on sight.

Why don't we have a real competitor to YouTube yet? It has turned to utter shit. Google can eat my ass.

What are your issues with Youtube? I think it's amazing. There are so many people making so much good, varied content.

Here's my workflow: Daily, my server runs a script that calls yt-dlp to download a text file list of channels and custom searches, strips out the ads and uses SponsorBlock to strip the sponsor segments. Then it repackages it into an XML podcast feed. My phone has an app, Downcast, that pulls these videos like a podcast and plays them offline.

  1. Most creators produce trash for clicks, gaming the algo etc. There are some good, serious ones though, not denying that.

  2. All the buffering lately.

  3. My Firefox addon works sporadically now.

Interesting methods... Might try that out later!

Oh, I'm also running an Invidious instance for one-off searches/views. It also strips ads and sponsor segments, but obviously can't work offline.

Network effects leading to strong winner-take-all dynamics, same as every other social media site. If you want people to see your video you upload it to Youtube because that's where people are looking, and if you want to watch a video chances are it's on Youtube because that's where people upload videos.

Compare to Amazon Web Services - sure AWS is expensive to run and benefits from economies of scale and so on, but there's still plenty of alternatives, especially if you're just planning to host a website. That's because of the far lesser network effects, users don't need to use a new browser or even a new URL if you switch hosting providers. At no point are they having to choose between the Amazon internet and the DigitalOcean internet, HTTP works the same regardless. In a world where discovering and watching videos was site-agnostic it wouldn't matter (perhaps where the dominant way to watch internet videos was a third-party application or a search engine which searched and suggested videos in the same way that Youtube does via some standardized protocol), but in the real world the network effects for a video site are strong. That's why all the big social media sites offer different things, overcoming network effects requires strong differentiation otherwise you're just like the biggest site in your niche but worse because of less content and less audience. Even on the rare occasion where an incumbent is overcome by a newcomer in the same niche (which was probably easier when the sheer number of users was less) they don't evenly divide the market between them, rather the newcomer reaches a tipping point where it benefits from the network effect instead and takes over, like Reddit and Digg or Facebook and MySpace.

Replace YouTube here with any of the major tech platforms; Netflix, Amazon Prime (only their digital catalog. Put aside physical goods from Amazon for a moment), the rest of the Google services (Gmail, Google meet), Zoom etc.

It all comes back to the infrastructure underpinning it and cost. The memory/compute/storage cost alone for these runs into 100s of millions to 10s of billions annually. Add on the management complexity on top and it's not possible for a competitor to emerge. A better investment would literally be a nuclear power station.

This is the problem at the root of decentralized web product ideas. The only way to compete is to actually play a different game; decentralization. We can never "trust" that an infra provider or a platform built on top of it will ever actually play nice indefinitely. Maybe you get an Elon Musk type willing to pony up $10 bn of his or her own money to build the alternative but then - "die a hero or live long enough to become the villain." How long before the management executives of that company decide to start charging or running ads or walling off users own data?

The chicken and egg problem, however, is user adoption and friction. Any actually decentralized web applications (take IPFS for instance) requires technical ability that - while actually pretty simple - only exists in, maybe, 5% of users? Now, add on the fact that for 99.9% of users it isn't actually solving a functional problem, but a half philosophical one. Nobody is complaining that there's "no easy and low cost place to host videos on the internet!" Sure, general homepage YT is dogshit, but people shrug it off because being fed pop culture content (and being happy with it) is as old as the radio.

The internet isn't dead, it's better than it has ever been. But the low-friction, easy to use internet is mindless garbage much like the low-friction, easy to use television was before it. I'll admit that the ubiquity of internet slop is at a whole new level of maddening - the experience of using a cell phone for any sort of activity beyond comms (text, calls) is now a net negative to overall life satisfaction. The browser setup to enjoy surfin' the net! (as the kids say) is non-trivial. Social media is literally brain cancer, and most political news is never ending rage-jaculation. Ours is a culture of hyper-abundance where the key is self-moderation, not maximal self-indulgence.

I guess what I'm saying is the true competitor to YouTube is touching grass and leafing through the pages of a physical book. I'm being like ... fucking deep here, Bro.

I was mainly just yelling at a cloud but I got some informative answers here.

Somehow, it seems like most people like the slop that's produced?

I truly don't understand why one would consume like, 90% of popular YouTube content. To the point where people who extravagantly complain about the ads confuse me, because I'm just like ok stop using it?

But clearly there's a market for Mr Beast to the point where his chocolate bars wind up at the local grocery store? So there must be millions of people out there who like stuff so totally orthogonal to what I consume on YouTube that of course the stuff I consume is going to be kinda hidden.

Somehow, it seems like most people like the slop that's produced?

I think it's less a case of 'this person likes this thing' and more a case of 'This person is used to this thing and not pissed off enough to switch yet'.
And the initial adoption window was because 'everyone is doing it'.

Hosting billions of videos is expensive. Most companies can't turn that into something actually profitable. It's debatable if Google even is getting anything nearly worth its investment.

Google was able to lose $2 billion a year on YouTube for over a decade. Additionally Google tweaks search results to favour YT over other platforms. Also it's integrated with Google's ad sales so any competitor needs to come up with an entire ad tech stack to compete.

Rumble is an alternative video hosting site but it's clearly behind YT tech wise. They are having success hosing rightish content that YT throttles to hell. Also they have two ongoing lawsuits against Alphabet for their business practices around YT.

It's very obvious that Rumble has to settle for a lower quality of advertiser.

Google was able to lose $2 billion a year on YouTube for over a decade. Additionally Google tweaks search results to favour YT over other platforms. Also it's integrated with Google's ad sales so any competitor needs to come up with an entire ad tech stack to compete.

I would assume those two things are connected. People always point YouTube being run at a loss as a reason why no competitor will appear. But I wouldn't be suprised if it was the case that YouTube is effectively just a loss leader for Google (I mean "Alphabet"). YouTube is such an incredibly effective data harvesting tool that would improve the value dramatically of Google's other services and products.

YouTube also likely has huge administrative bloat, as the Twitter firings demonstrated was the case for Twitter.

yt-dlp and mpv are your friends.

The problem I personally have with YouTube is the awful clickbait content being produced because of the site's incentives, not my inability to download the content.

There's just so much crap and it's impossible to find the gems buried in it. If only there was an addon for that.

Subscribe liberally and turn on notifications for high-quality channels you really like, and only ever open slop in Incognito. I've got my YouTube algorithm tuned way the fuck in and am generally happy with what it surfaces.

Perhaps I'm just lucky with the kinds of things I'm interested in.

I still get a lot of clickbait thumbnail spam in recommend, but you're right it does get a lot better when you're judicious and slam clickbait channels with "do not recommend"

It's that which I'm most concerned with. Then there's all the technical (deliberate) hiccups. They added a new premium playback mode and now the regular one buffers all the time. And half of the videos have some different code that makes my browser addon for YT not work correctly. I suspect they're trying to kill off ad-blocking.

I haven't had any buffering at all, except when accidentally running at 4k 2x speed, which is 100% my browser's fault. Isn't the premium just higher bitrate at 1080?

Because YouTube is the default search engine for video and the only competitor is literally Google.

Friends I cannot stress this enough: have kids.

People talk about loss of meaning and loss of rigid rites of passage that take you from being a child to being a man.

It's kids. It's always been kids.

Having kids is really hard (I apparently phrased this poorly since people are responding to it as if I am saying the opposite. My point is that you will find that the following things are the things you end of loving, and you will find the idea that these should ever have prevented you from having kids to be childish): your house will constantly be a filthy mess. They will keep you from sleeping, they will make it impossible to go out to dinner or to go to parties, and they make travel really difficult. Any of the dreams of adventure that you had before you had kids will be pushed back by 10 years.

And NONE of that will matter once you have them. You'll find the idea that you ever cared about any of this stuff laughable.

Friends I cannot stress this enough: have kids.

People talk about loss of meaning and loss of rigid rites of passage that take you from being a child to being a man.

It's kids. It's always been kids.

Having kids is really hard (I apparently phrased this poorly since people are responding to it as if I am saying the opposite. My point is that you will find that the following things are the things you end of loving, and you will find the idea that these should ever have prevented you from having kids to be childish): your house will constantly be a filthy mess. They will keep you from sleeping, they will make it impossible to go out to dinner or to go to parties, and they make travel really difficult. Any of the dreams of adventure that you had before you had kids will be pushed back by 10 years.

And NONE of that will matter once you have them. You'll find the idea that you ever cared about any of this stuff laughable.

I remember asking my parents why they had created me when I was about 12. They told me something to the effect of 'You'll get it when you're older and have your own children.'
22 years have passed since and absolutely nothing has changed about my perspective. I see a lot of negatives: less free time, less money, interruptions during sleep, horrible noises and messes to clean up. The potential that I might have to spend the rest of my life as the caretaker for a human with brain damage or some other deformity. And so on and on.

And what are the upsides? I might have some positive experiences at some point? Is that it? I've seen a lot of what I would hesitantly call 'pro-natalism' but I haven't seen any real reasoning or logic. Maybe it's just a hormonal thing and that part of me was damaged or never formed because I legitimately don't understand people who want to be parents.

As far as 'Just trust me, it'll be worth it'. My answer is, sorry but no. I have been guided towards bad decisions far too many times already and this one in particular seems especially horrible in terms of possible consequences.

Because you haven’t experienced it, you cannot understand the depth of purpose and meaning that children will give your life. Almost every parent is telling you that you’ll get it when the kids are here, and that it’s impossible to explain in words. They’re all saying that because it’s right.

I used to be really into the party/burning man scene and psychonauts would always explain that they couldn’t explain a DMT trip to me. It was just outside of anything I could understand and I would have to see it for myself.

Kids are like that. I can tell you it’s great, but I can’t really explain why. You have to see it yourself.

I might have some positive experiences at some point? Is that it?

Have you ever felt fulfilled, or full of love, or gratitude, or contentment? Have you ever felt hope, or joy, Would you like to experience that, but way more than you thought could be possible?

It's not just some positive experiences. It's more positive than anything else you're ever going to do, probably, and if you can't see that from outside I don't blame you, but I'm telling you anyway. It's just more. That's the best way I can describe it.

Someone posted this in ACX comments: https://soupofthenight.substack.com/p/normalize-mediocre-parenting

It's a bit of a hot take, but I agree with the central point: you are not a failure if you don't provide your kids with the best possible childhood that kickstarts their adult life. They'll be fine if they go to a desegregated school and a land grant university. They'll be fine if they browse TikTok instead of reading books. They'll be fine if you spend 15 minutes on them every day instead of 2 hours. They'll be fine if you spend less money on them and they get bullied for "being poor".

They'll be fine if they browse TikTok instead of reading books

Agree with most of it except for this. Tech screwed me up real good as an adult, and I grew up around it's more mundane forms. TikTok feels like techno-crack in comparison. Go outside and play with a stick, kid.

I'd agree, and it's unfortunate that the ubiquitous trope is that babies are miserable diarrhea factories and being a parent is about sleep deprivation, thankless labor and cutting your wealth in half.

My main regret is not being able to pull degenerate late nights in the lab anymore (I always hated travel), although I still get the odd weekend here and there. It's significantly harder to focus on my career and I expect to be outcompeted by the DINKs who can grind properly or the FOBs who have no qualms with making their wives do 90% of the childcare.

I counter you with a cold dose of Houllebecq!

“Youth was the time for happiness, its only season; young people, leading a lazy, carefree life, partially occupied by scarcely absorbing studies, were able to devote themselves unlimitedly to the liberated exultation of their bodies. They could play, dance, love, and multiply their pleasures. They could leave a party, in the early hours of the morning, in the company of sexual partners they had chosen, and contemplate the dreary line of employees going to work. They were the salt of the earth, and everything was given to them, everything was permitted for them, everything was possible. Later on, having started a family, having entered the adult world, they would be introduced to worry, work, responsibility, and the difficulties of existence; they would have to pay taxes, submit themselves to administrative formalities while ceaselessly bearing witness--powerless and shame-filled--to the irreversible degradation of their own bodies, which would be slow at first, then increasingly rapid; above all, they would have to look after children, mortal enemies, in their own homes, they would have to pamper them, feed them, worry about their illnesses, provide the means for their education and their pleasure, and unlike in the world of animals, this would last not just for a season, they would remain slaves of their offspring always, the time of joy was well and truly over for them, they would have to continue to suffer until the end, in pain and with increasing health problems, until they were no longer good for anything and were definitively thrown into the rubbish heap, cumbersome and useless. In return, their children would not be at all grateful, on the contrary their efforts, however strenuous, would never be considered enough, they would, until the bitter end, be considered guilty because of the simple fact of being parents. From this sad life, marked by shame, all joy would be pitilessly banished. When they wanted to draw near to young people's bodies, they would be chased away, rejected, ridiculed, insulted, and, more and more often nowadays, imprisoned. The physical bodies of young people, the only desirable possession the world has ever produced, were reserved for the exclusive use of the young, and the fate of the old was to work and to suffer. This was the true meaning of solidarity between generations; it was a pure and simple holocaust of each generation in favor of the one that replaced it, a cruel, prolonged holocaust that brought with it no consolation, no comfort, nor any material or emotional compensation.”

Uh yeah... don't take any of that too seriously, I don't think he does either. Kids are great, keep having them. Just felt like throwing that out there.

I have to counter your quote (but agree with your last sentences!) with the following from Serotonin:

Everything was clear, extremely clear from the beginning, but we didn’t realise. Did we yield to the illusion of individual freedom, of an open life, of infinite possibilities? It’s possible; those ideas were part of the spirit of the age; we didn’t formalise them, we didn’t have the taste to do that; we merely conformed and allowed ourselves to be destroyed by them; and then, for a very long time, to suffer as a result.

God takes care of us; he thinks of us every minute, and he gives us instructions that are sometimes very precise. Those surges of love that flow into our chests and take our breath away – those illuminations, those ecstasies, inexplicable if we consider our biological nature, our status as simple primates – are extremely clear signs.

This guy sounds utterly insufferable. There is more to life than having sex with "young people" (a term deliberately chosen, I am sure, to mean children to friendly audiences and mature adults to others). Judging by this passage, the only thing he cares about is pedophilic sex.

While Houellebecq is undoubtedly an inveterate and unrepentant coomer with a possible predilection for hebes, I would say he looks on pedophilia with sort of bemusement more than anything. His characters are consumed by their jealousy for the young (which, as @BahRamYou's quote indicates, is specifically high school/college age), and regrets for what could have been in their own youth. And this ends badly for them. Jumping to your conclusion via this one passage is...well, a jump.

It sure sounds like you aren't a friendly audience, yet you take the term to mean children. Does "leaving a party in the early hours of the morning, in the company of sexual partners they had chosen" evoke a child first and foremost in your mind?

It sure sounds like you aren't a friendly audience, yet you take the term to mean children.

Yes but it can be plausibly defended against my interpretation, as you are doing right now. It's not that the double meaning is entirely invisible but that it signals to those who are In the Know while maintaining strategic ambiguity.

Does "leaving a party in the early hours of the morning, in the company of sexual partners they had chosen" evoke a child first and foremost in your mind?

Does "contemplate the dreary line of employees going to work" evoke someone in their 20's first and foremost in your mind? You start paying taxes in France once you're employed--how many early 20's people do you know who have never been employed?

I for one went to a lot more parties in middle school than high school or college. The latter two were the time to get serious about my studies. My "partying days" were more or less between the ages of 12-14, and that's the age I had in mind for what he's describing. It's also the time I was probably most carefree--I was older and able to understand the world more, yet didn't yet have any real responsibilities.

If France has more of a prolonged adolescence then maybe that explains the difference, but "leading a lazy, carefree life, partially occupied by scarcely absorbing studies, were able to devote themselves unlimitedly to the liberated exultation of their bodies" certainly doesn't sound like my high school experience. I'm lazier and more carefree now than I was then--my software development job is significantly easier than my studies were.

Houllebecq certainly wouldn't exclude 14 year olds at least from the people he describes as having "young bodies."

I think you have had an uncommon experience. Generally high school, college and one's early twenties is the peak of freedom and fucking around. At least, that has been my experience talking to people.

He's French, it's his culture. And also he's right imo.

I hope you are trolling.

When they wanted to draw near to young people's bodies, they would be chased away, rejected, ridiculed, insulted, and, more and more often nowadays, imprisoned

Why don't you have a seat over here, monsieur Houllebecq?

Furthermore, since the idea of time plays such a magic part in the matter, the student should not be surprised to learn that there must be a gap of several years, never less than ten I should say, generally thirty or forty, and as many as ninety in a few known cases, between maiden and man to enable the latter to come under a nymphet's spell. It is a question of focal adjustment, of a certain distance that the inner eye thrills to surmount, and a certain contrast that the mind perceives with a gasp of perverse delight. When I was a child and she was a child, my little Annabel was no nymphet to me; I was her equal, a faunlet in my own right, on that same enchanted island of time; but today, in September 1952, after twenty-nine years have elapsed, I think I can distinguish in her the initial fateful elf in my life. We loved each other with a premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives. I was a strong lad and survived; but the poison was in the wound, and the wound remained ever open, and soon I found myself maturing amid a civilization which allows a man of twenty-five to court a girl of sixteen but not a girl of twelve.

from the context he's pretty clearly talking about young adults, not kids.

soon I found myself maturing amid a civilization which allows a man of twenty-five to court a girl of sixteen but not a girl of twelve.

idk sounds like he's talking about kids to me. And the age gap of 90+ years which he mentions is imo more likely to be between a 100 year old and a 10 year old than any older combination.

The excerpt you quoted is from Nabokov's Lolita. To compare it to a longing of a 30-year-old salaryman for 20-year-old carefree student is quite far-fetched and symptomatic of the problem described in BahRamYou's excerpt.

30 year old salary men can pretty readily scoop up a 20 year old nymphette if they get past their own shyness. It may be quite different outside Japan.

Bro, nymphettes hit the wall at 14.

The more you know.

Alright, I assumed it was from the same guy.

From the context of the proclivities of French intellectuals, I wouldn't be so sure.

The quote is from a Russian-American.

The Nabokov quote is, but the Houllebecq quote is not. I was using Humbert Humbert's monologue as a companion to Houllebecq thirsting after illegally young people.

I thought that would be obvious without attribution, but many of you guys haven't read Lolita and it shows.

It's not obvious at all to me that Houllebecq was writing about the illegally young, or how quoting another author demonstrates that, or indeed how it demonstrates anything other than that it is, in fact, possible to write about pedophilia without being a pedophile yourself.

Who's getting jailed for hitting on twenty year olds?

More comments

Houllebecq

This is the second place in the last 5 minutes on two different websites that somebody has talked about Houllebecq. So hot right now.

he's not, like, some obscure writer. he's been a best seller for decades. but yes, he's very quotable on all sorts of hot culture war topics.

Very default quotable figure across a diverse range of scenes including BAPism/RSP/Dimes Square/nrx/silicon valley edgy/le atheism/neocon, it’s not too surprising.

It was on the RSP sub that I saw it lol

I agree with the have kids part, but I think you might be exaggerating how necessary the negative parts are.

You can keep your house tidy and you can go to parties and to dinner. Travel is trickier of course but manageable. Sleep is very variable between kids. My first made it tricky, but the rest have been good sleepers since early on and part of that is from lessons learned. Set a feeding schedule and stick to it. Don't always go and immediately respond to a crying baby. Teach them basic signs early on so they can tell you "food, hurts, or nappy". Make them tidy up with you when they are done playing with toys.

Raising babies is work, but it can be organized and minimized.

FWIW, some kids are just different. One of mine could probably be diagnosed with ADHD. Sweet and very intelligent, but very impulsive and hyperactive. He/she has a sibling 3 years younger who is far better behaved and has greater self-control. We could probably have a clean house and travel if it weren't for him/her tbh.

I have four kids under the age of 5. Maybe I phrased what I meant wrong.

My general point is that the things people who are afraid of having kids worry about end up being irrelevant once the kids are here.

Sure I agree with you there, 100%. People let a lot of things stop them having kids (finances being a big one) but in my experience you really don't need as much as people think.

You almost never hear very old people regret having children. I think that’s the only evidence needed.

Friends I cannot stress this enough: have kids.

As many as 10-30% of younger generations can't even have sex. Sure they could 'technically' have kids through IVF but the idea itself is sitcom-worthy I think.

Where on earth did you get that figure, presuming you mean they're physically incapable of doing so?

Look at Japanese virginity rates in the 30-40 age group.

they're physically incapable

Well maybe not 'physically incapable' as in, in a zoo setting maybe it could work, but women addicted or merely very well habituated to porn are unlikely to experience orgasm during sex, and men addicted to it are unlikely to maintain erections. Hence, necessity of IVF.

The whole topic is completely dismal, you can find out that relative prevalence of <40 men seeking out medical help with E.D. went up by 3-4x between 2000 and 2015 but of course that of course could only possibly have happened because awareness that Viagra (introduced cca 2000) exists increased and all those men are just insecure and fishing for drugs. That's the go-to explanation.

If you don't talk to 'academic' experts but talk to people involved in treating ED and sex disorders they're going to tell you something completely different though. It makes perfect sense that boys who have been looking at porn since age 12-15 can't possibly suffer any adverse consequences when they get around to having sex by 18-25. Not like adolescence is a formative period of time.

Gotta read this later, this might actually have interesting data.. Hopefully libgen has it.

It seems more likely that a lot of young men are insecure and want to ‘last longer’ (or lower refractory period etc) and so use the drug even though they don’t have ED. Similarly if there was a drug that increased dick size one would expect that many average and above endowed men would still take it just because.

It couldn't possibly be anything different. The increasingly bizarre pornography out there could in no way be connected to this. That Japan, a country with one of the most dysfunctional relationship situations out there has a long tradition of weird pornography is merely coincidental.

Who am I gonna believe? A rich professional involved with finance, or someone involved in treating sex disorders? Of course, the rich person. No one smart would work in a profession interested in helping people, that doesn't pay.

What the hell, dude?

By itself, this post is just bad enough to get a warning. Avoid sarcasm, avoid being an insufferably snide rageposter, avoid personal digs like this.

However, you have a long record of being an unsufferably snide rageposter. (Those links are like half of your record.)

Banned for a week. Get your rage under control or you won't be posting anymore.

E.g. me calling bullshit on the incredible claim that prime ministers would brave possible artillery shelling and go into a half besieged city for a very short meeting by pointing out there are no unambiguous photographs of them actually being there.

They didn't think to even snap some selfies or a short video in Kiev.

Anyway, yeah, I know you've got a thankless job but maybe it'd be reasonable to display an 'upvotes/word count/comments/mod attention' statistic out there so it doesn't look ideologically motivated.

Anyone competent could add that in in a couple of hours. I could probably do it in a couple of days, even though my coding is limited to cheating and tweaking in javascript 'games.'

This one confuses me. His point seems entirely valid. The last line:

Who am I gonna believe? A rich professional involved with finance, or someone involved in treating sex disorders? Of course, the rich person. No one smart would work in a profession interested in helping people, that doesn't pay.

Seems a little like a non-sequitar. Is that the problem? Japan does produce absolutely bizarre pornography, and supposing that there is a link between this and fertility seems completely reasonable.

  1. Japan as a country seems particularly addicted to porn

  2. The porn that Japanese porn users tend to use is particularly detached from things which would (or even could, legally) happen in real life.

  3. This seems like it could have an effect on Japanese sexual mores

  4. Which seems like it could have an effect on fertility

  5. Japan has a notably low fertility rate

This seems absolutely reasonable, and to say it in a silly way seems completely reasonable in the Friday Fun Thread.

Many other countries have lower rates without the weird porn. That kinda nukes this whole theory I think.

As a guy living in Japan, a few points I will make:

  1. However weird Japan porn may appear to you, it's nevertheless prohibited by law from showing genitalia. I know a guy who did time working for an organization (low level yakuza) that distributed depixellated porn. (This was around 2000). That law is odd, but I assure you it holds. That you can type in "uncensored" online and find such available does not change the fact that most of it is, in fact, censored, particularly in shops, etc. and anything geared mainly to a Japanese market. (I am waiting to be proven wrong )

  2. Organized crime generally has its hand in the porn industry. As it does in the massive sex trade here (that dodges the law which declares prostitution illegal in various creative ways.)

  3. The massive sex trade is available and thrives because...people are having sex. Just not with procreation in mind, and not with their wives or husbands. I'd have said "men" are having sex but they're doing it with women, it's just that the women are getting paid. By said men.

  4. There are probably many variables contributing to what you're calling "Japanese sexual mores." Whether porn is the strongest factor, a contributing factor, a result, or unrelated, is a study that would be difficult to design and as far as I know hasn't been made convincingly.

  5. I wouldn't say at all that "Japan as a country is addicted to porn." Certainly no more than, say "America as a country." It's odd to read that actually. What makes you have that impression?

  6. German porn, in my limited experience, is weirder than Japanese porn (though it's true you can find some pretty disturbing Japanese porn.) That's a rabbit hole that I've never really wanted to spelunk.

  7. The point you make about the fertility issue is as far as I know accepted generally as accurate.

Edit: de-mosaic'd is probably the term I was looking for.

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Can mods make it possible for us to request our permanent records? Like a FOIA request.