Music Video: An Unstoppable Man

 

If you like synth wave and/or Mad Max, this music video might improve your workouts or make you feel pumped.

Warning: Don’t try any of these stunts without a seatbelt.

 

Book Review: Poor Richard’s Retirement

Aaron Clarey, Poor Richard’s Retirement: Retirement for Everyday Americans

Aaron Clarey is a consultant and independent economist who writes books that are meant to help young men and women make wiser financial choices. His approach is no nonsense, gruff, and often cynical. But despite seeming like a complete jerk, his advice which is free on his blog or youtube channel clearly comes from a big heart (for sensitive users or those who may listen w/children around, he does curse a lot). This is evident when he, for instance, criticizes parents who don’t spend a great deal of time with their children (this is a common thread in his books and podcasts and I only listen to them a couple of times a year).

I disagree with a great deal of his material, but it’s because he’s not religious and I’m a Christian. But his grasp of markets, how they work, and what personal steps are necessary for success are second to none.

That being said, if you’re a millennial, especially one who graduated college between 2007-2010, you’ve probably wondered how in the heck you could ever retire. If so, Clarey’s book has everything you need. It contains a helpful explanation of steps one can take in order to get ready for retirement, but does something a great many similar books don’t do. He reframes what it means to live a life of meaning with a personal sense of significance. The book amounts to a sort of secular explanation of Jesus’ saying that we should “…take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

I think the argument he makes, though it veers toward cynicism is worth reading in full because of its rhetorical effect. So I won’t explain it.

The practical tips he gives are excellent. His solution to the problem of retirement is ultimately satisfying (more on that below). And he does run some of the numbers comparing costs in previous generations of those of ye olde current year in a way that is helpful and potentially guilt inducing.

Worthwhile quotes:

  1. Understand this and understand this clearly. Most two-income families are: Outsourcing the upbringing of their own children To complete strangers Passing up on seeing their children grow up So BOTH parents can work jobs they don’t like While suffering commutes that keep them from their families AND stressing themselves out in the process. (47)
  2. We engage in the rat race, pursuing pointless educations, for taxing careers, life-wasting commutes, just to buy stuff, pointless material things, while abandoning anything and anybody that really matters in life.  It’s the cause of the majority of divorces in the country, the majority of unvisited parents in nursing homes, and is ultimately responsible for all the country’s financial problems.  And to throw the burden of saving for retirement on top of Americans’ inability to just keep it together, only makes an already-miserable situation impossible to bear. (48-49)
  3. It is a full – time job to go and seek out new and interesting people who are going to make your life worth living. (134)

Conclusion

Ultimately, Clarey’s essay on retirement is an admirable little book in that it accomplishes three things:

  1. Instructs you not to retire.
  2. Tells you how to retire.
  3. Subverts the present day value system.

With respect to number three, I’ll wax philosophical. One of the reasons that a capitalist style economy can work is if Adam Smith’s moral sentiments are assumed. Capitalism helps provide a wide degree of freedom to people who pursue a sort of Aristotelian/Christian/Stoic vision of the good life wherein virtue is paramount, social trust is assumed, and while the particulars of an individual’s pursuit of wealth and greatness may vary, they typically revolve around family, invention, adventure, and philanthropy. Such a system of values simply is not broadly assumed in Western Civilization, and so capital itself is perceived as the highest and total good for man.

Clarey, an irreligious capitalist, sees this problem as a source of poverty and unhappiness and attempts to solve it by reorienting the value system of his audience. For this the book is worth ten times the price. Buy it for graduating seniors, read it if you’re in college, use it to get out of debt. It’s a good book.

The Hurt-Feelings Fallacy

The internet made me abreast of an informal fallacy which I have dubbed:

The Hurt-Feelings Fallacy

When a premise and/or conclusion of an argument hurts somebody’s feelings or hypothetically could do so in the future, then the argument is problematic. Because of this, the conclusion and the premises are all false. Similarly, if the corollaries of the argument could cause hurt-feelings then the whole argument is false. Also, and most important of all, if the person making the argument has or potentially could stimulate hurt-feelings, then all of the arguments that person makes are totally false.

This is a pernicious fallacy and one which is difficult not to commit. For instance:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Could be responded to thus:

I do not want to die, that hurts my feelings. That argument is unsafe.

Also, one could say,

If I accept the records about Socrates, then I might have to consider the historicity of the Bible, but the Bible hurts my feelings.

This fallacy has allowed me to disprove almost everything. My favorite example is this:

You have disagreed with me. You have given me hurt-feelings, therefore your whole ideology is wrong. Also, you are not a person.

Happy nihilism!

In real life, many people do think that the hurt-feelings fallacy is a real refutation of hard to accept truths or uncomfortable arguments. This is absurd. Hopefully this silly song will cheer you up!

 

Tucker Carlson: 20 Ideas for 2018

These screen caps are too small, but I suppose you can just search twitter for the thread (that’s how I found it after seeing somebody quote it). Tucker Carlson (whose show I don’t watch, but there are some hilariously edited clips online), gave 20 pieces of advice for the New Year. I found 5 to be obvious but easily forgotten. 7 is straight out of Epictetus (which means it’s probably good advice). He’s wrong about food. My mouth waters for steak and eggs. He’s also right to emphasize personal responsibility for your emotional state and life in general.

 

 

O Love Divine!

O Love Divine! by Oliver Wendell Holmes1

O Love Divine! that stoop’st to share
Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear,
On Thee we cast each earth-born care,
We smile at pain while Thou art near.
Though long the weary way we tread,
And sorrow crown each lingering year,
No path we shun, no darkness dread,
Our hearts still whispering, Thou art near.
When drooping pleasure turns to grief,
And trembling faith is changed to fear,
The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf,
Shall softly tell us Thou art near.
On Thee we cast our burdening woe,
O Love Divine, for ever dear;
Content to suffer while we know,
Living or dying, Thou art near!

References

1 Tozer, A. W. (1991). The Christian Book of Mystical Verse (p. 64). Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.

Taylor Swift: Great American Philosopher

I read a great quote in a meme. So I decided to find its source. It had a philosopher’s touch:

Live your life like you’re 80 looking back on your teenage years. You know if your dad calls you at eight in the morning and asks if you want to go to breakfast? As a teenager you’re like no, I want to sleep. As an 80 year old looking back, you have that breakfast with your dad. It’s just little things like that that helped me when I was a teenager in terms of making the choices you won’t regret later.

Anyway, as it turns out it was Taylor Swift. And while I don’t like her music, it is true that she receives a lot of hate from the political left (the last time I was on Twitter there must have been hundreds of articles about how evil she is). She in fact deserves credit for these remarks. They are, in fact, similar to Jonathan Edwards’ resolution 17:

Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

Then there is resolution 52:

I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

Intellectual Weakness

Nobody wants to be weak. Weakness leads to losing.

Weakness leads to resentment.[1]

Intellectual weakness is perhaps the most subtle weakness.

It compounds itself. Physical weakness makes us feel bad.

Intellectual weakness makes us feel smug or leaves us unable to see our weakness.

There are many ways to overcome this problem, but the first is to read.

The abysmal truth is that few read before or during college:

“The desire to appeal to incoming students who have rarely if ever read an adult book on their own also leads selection committees to choose low-grade “accessible” works that are presumed to appeal to “book virgins” who will flee actual college-level reading. Since common reading programs are generally either voluntary or mandatory without an enforcement mechanism, such “book virgins” have to be wooed with simple, unchallenging works. This was our conclusion two years ago: the lay of the land is still much the same.”

If you want to get ahead in life, at least ahead of yourself, read.

Why Read?

If you read you can:

  1. Get inside the head of somebody smarter than you. (Have you written a whole book?)
  2. You can empathize more effectively.
  3. You can learn new skills.
  4. You can acquire great examples for action, thought, and virtue.
  5. You can avoid the brain rot of emotional eating or over watching television.
  6. You can understand the foundations of your culture and rescue you father from the underworld.

What to read?

  1. Try reading classic fiction. Start easy with the Chronicles of Narnia, then try the Hobbit, A Study in Scarlet, Tarzan of the Apes, etc. Then try some Umberto Eco. Then the Iliad or Beowulf.
  2. Read a self-help classic or two: The Slight Edge and How to Win Friends and Influence People are really helpful.
  3. Read some classic philosophy. Try the meditations of Marcus Aurelius and the Lectures and Sayings of Musonius Rufus. Then try The Last Days of Socrates by Plato.
  4. Try reading about interesting figures in history. I like reading about Teddy Roosevelt, Jim Bowie, and St. Paul.
  5. Think of a science topic you like (the launching of the moon rocket, invention of the light bulb, the discovery of gravity, etc), and read a popular book about it.

Footnote

[1] For the Christian, weakness can be a form of power, insofar as that weakness is one that the Christian has tried to overcome. In that sense, Paul the apostle can speak of his preference for weakness. This preference is not, even in context, an excuse for low-effort, shoddy thinking, or laziness in general.

The Goober Atheist: Ineffectual Nerd Edition

Years ago Richard Carrier attempted to destroy the foundation of the Christian faith by publishing his magnum opus proving definitively that Jesus never existed. And like all virgin-nerds, his work was ignored by the world of chad New Testament scholars, which lead him to resentfully hate them all. As an aside, I don’t mind atheists, but I don’t understand why you would devote several years of your life writing a book about something you believe to be pointless. In those years, Carrier could have hit the gym, learned to play an instrument, or developed a network of friends. Larry Hurtado recently received one of Carrier’s limp-wristed rhetorical punches and responded:

If you want to read a blogger going ape-shit, troll through Richard Carrier’s recent belligerent, intemperate response (here) to my posting in which I showed that his three claims that supposedly corroborate his “mythical Jesus” view are all incorrect.  It’s really quite amusing, or maybe sad.

In this long, long rant, Carrier’s repeated mantra is that his book calling into question the commonly shared scholarly judgement that Jesus of Nazareth was a first-century Galilean Jew has been largely ignored by scholars.  He seems to want scholars to go through the 700 pages of that tome and engage closely every one of his claims and assertions.  He repeatedly states that he spent six years on the book on what he calls a “post-doctoral” award (which was really a fund put together by his “fans,” to use his own term).  It must be frustrating.  But Carrier doesn’t seem to handle frustration well.

I mean, geeze. I couldn’t help but remember Carrier’s other sheepish attempt at self-assertion several years back when he posted this brilliant romantic overture to…well anybody who will please listen:

So, this is experimental. I’d like to go on a date in May. And for the first time, I’m going to try a bat signal: putting a call out on my blog. I don’t know anyone else who has tried doing that, so I have no precedent to work from as to etiquette or even arguments for or against doing it. So I’m just going to do it and see what happens and document and assess. If you know anyone who might have an interest in dating me, let them know. If you might have an interest, read on.

I’ll start by making sure anyone considering this is up to speed. I am polyamorous. I currently have many girlfriends. All I consider my friends. Some are just occasional lovers. Some I am more involved with. They are also polyamorous, or near enough (not all of them identify that way, but all of them enjoy open relationships). And I will always have relationships with them, as long as they’ll have me in their life.

Many different things can be meant by the following terms, but just for the present purpose, if by a primary relationship is meant someone you live with or just about as good as live with, a secondary as someone you date regularly, and a tertiary as someone you date occasionally, all my relationships are tertiary, but only because of geography. I live just below Sacramento, California, where the rents are cheap, which means, where no one wants to live. And I’m unlikely to move anytime soon. So relationships with me, at best, are likely to be tertiary—long distance chatting with occasional being together throughout the year. Even so, I always take such friendships seriously.

Hurtado did not need to use such rhetoric to dismiss Carrier. He simply had to quote the man.

 

Don’t Be Yourself

“Just be yourself.”

If “be yourself” means “be honest about yourself, your weaknesses, and your abilities, lie neither to yourself or others” then I agree. If it means do what you truly and really think is best, then I absolutely agree. 

But what it really means is something like this excuse your excesses, wink at your weaknesses, befriend your faults, and ignore your ignorance.

If I were to tell a struggling Greek student, “just be yourself,” then they would remain a non-Greek knowing person. 

If a new lifter goes to the gym and acts like themselves with the weight equipment they will either plateau at a non-optimal state, injure themselves or become a gymbecile.

How about a Christian who is addicted to various evil behaviors? Should he simply “be himself?” Or should he try really hard to discipline those habits out of himself?

Anyhow, I think the advice can be stated in a useful way, but in the romanticized way it is commonly used it is a bad and dangerous idea.