I once had dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant with a fellow who insisted on eating there instead of my selection of a casual Greek taverna with a friendly owner operator, his second cousin as a manager and his third cousin once removed as a receptionist. The other customers seemed, as we say in Mediterranean languages, to have a cork plugged in their behind obstructing proper ventilation, causing the vapors to build on the inside of the gastrointestinal walls, leading to the irritable type of decorum you only notice in the educated upper classes. I note that, in addition to the plugged corks, all men wore ties.
Dinner consisted in a succession of complicated small things, with microscopic ingredients and contrasting tastes that forced you to concentrate as if you were taking some type of exam. You were not eating, rather visiting some type of museum with an affected English major lecturing you on some artistic dimension you would have never considered on your own. There was so little that was familiar and so little that fit my taste buds: once something on the occasion tasted like something real, there was no chance to have more as we moved on to the next dish. Trudging through the dishes and listening to some b***t by the sommelier about the paired wine, I was afraid of losing concentration. I costs a lot of energy to fake that I was not bored. In fact I discovered an optimization in the wrong place: the only thing I cared about, bread, was not warm. It appears that this is not a Michelin requirement.
It’s fascinating because it’s so true. Most high-end restaurants I’ve been to operate more or less as Taleb describes them. The server will spin a line of bullshit about the wine pairings, lecture us on the acidity of this or that, and attempt to sell us on the exclusivity of the place. Everything is unnecessarily complex.
There have been exceptions, of course. There is a high-end steakhouse near where I live called Bern’s Steakhouse, and it apparently has some renown, given that out of town friends often gravitate toward it. In that case, the place lived up to the hype. The steak was excellent, among the best I’ve had, along with what is probably the best french onion soup I’ve ever tasted. But the building itself is sort of run down, and the wait staff doesn’t lecture you on the menu, or the pairings, or any of that garbage (this despite having one of the largest wine collections in the world). And the menu is simple. You go there for steak, and the accompanying sides, and that’s pretty much it.
But such unassuming high end restaurants are the exception, not the rule. For the most part, be prepared for a lot of pretentious bullshit about why complex ingredient lists and overpriced wine is proof that you have an elevated palate, that you are special in the way those dirty unwashed masses aren’t. As Taleb puts it, they have corks plugged up their asses. It must be uncomfortable.
I couldn’t imagine living that way.
As Taleb tells us, this extends beyond food, however. When people get to thinking this way, everything must be complex, special, expensive, and out of reach of the unwashed masses. It’s about differentiation, thinking yourself better than others.
When people get rich, they shed their skin-in-the game driven experiential mechanism. They lose control of their preferences, substituting constructed preferences to their own, complicating their lives unnecessarily, triggering their own misery. And these are of course the preferences of those who want to sell them something. This is a skin-in-the-game problem as the choices of the rich are dictated by others who have something to gain, and no side effects, from the sale. And given that they are rich, and their exploiters not often so, nobody would shout victim.
It’s not just when they become rich, however. It’s when they start to climb above the teeming mass of humanity. Remember when Hillary Clinton looked positively baffled by a beer tap, when looking to do some kind of misguided blue collar photo op? There she was, with a fake smile and a beer glass full of foam, looking for all the world like she would rather be anywhere else.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hoists a beer during a tour of at Pearl Street Brewery in La Crosse, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Beer, you see, is the peasant’s drink. Unless you’re becoming a beer snob, I suppose. Either way, though, it’s too simple and plebbish for a refined power broker like Hillary. I bet she’s one of those women who sniffs the cork repeatedly before deigning to pour a glass of wine. Oh hell, silly me, what am I saying? She probably pays somebody to pour the wine for her.
I think most Americans daydream on occasion about what they would do if they were supremely wealthy. I asked one of the redneck gearheads at the local muscle car meetup about what he’d do with a few million bucks.
“I’d buy a GT350. Supercharge it,” he replied.
Simple needs for a simple man, I suppose. No Ferraris or Lambos for him. He just wanted to go fast, and to hell with the rest of the bullshit. There was no talk of servants, or mansions, or outings to the fanciest French restaurants. It was all about the go-fast.
Nicholas Nassim Taleb explains that even if the costs were reversed, he’d prefer a pizza over the bazillion-course microscopic servings at the fancy place:
Let’s return to the restaurant experience and discuss constructed preferences as compared to natural ones. If I had a choice between paying $200 for a pizza or $6.95 for the French complicated experience, I would pay $200 for the pizza, plus $9.95 for a bottle of Malbec wine. Actually I would pay to not have the Michelin experience.
Of course, this isn’t to say that if you genuinely liked the complex food that it’s somehow wrong to eat it. Neither, should it be noted, should you forgo the Ferrari if you can afford it, and if you really want one. The key is to avoid the artificial narrowing down of your options, in some misguided attempt to signal your superiority:
Many have been mistaking this idea for an advocacy of Spartan choices rather than something about the restriction of freedom.
If you’re poor, you can have the pizza, or nothing. If you’re rich, you can choose the pizza or the fancy food, as you prefer. You should not say no to the pizza just because someone is trying to sell you on the superiority of complex food. Neither should you deny yourself the fancy shit, if that’s what you really want.
But whose desires are you satisfying at that point?
I’ve found in my short time on this Earth that most people espouse things that aren’t them in spades. I used to think it was a drive toward artificial conformity, you know, the traditional cliquish high school behavior writ large. But I find that this operates in reverse, too. At times they choose something precisely because they don’t want to be associated with some group. Ask any Mustang guy what he thinks of the Chevy Camaro. Buying a Mustang is as much about avoiding being a Camaro driver (jokes about mullethead, Miller Lite drinking GM guys abound). And the wealthy patrons of Michelin’s don’t want to be seen crawling around some neighborhood pizzeria. That’s for plebs!
It’s funny, because the virtue signalers often spout cliches like “be yourself!” You first, asshole.
All of this is artificially restrictive of choice. Becoming wealthy is supposed to grant you more choices, not take them away, not pigeonhole a person into the sort of vapid, petty-tyrannical, I’m-better-than-you snobbery espoused by our political class.
And it makes you think. How much of what they say or do isn’t even based on their own preferences, but based on some kind of desire to signal superiority? Social Justice is signalling moral superiority. Food snobbery signals superiority of taste. And then there is the sort of Dunning-Kruger-esque desire to signal intellectual superiority by barfing word salad like the privileged cisnormative heteropatriachal conspiracy, or some bullshit. I mean, if you don’t like white guys, I’d actually prefer if you just said that. You’re still a racist shit, mind you, but at least you’re not a pretentious racist shit.
Put simply, if you like well done steak, order away. If you prefer pizza to Michelin’s, get yourself a pizza. And if all your friends are virtue signalling their food superiority, you probably ought to get new friends.
This morning The Declination was subject to a DDoS attack, I think. It’s hard to tell, but the server was very unresponsive. So if it goes down again later, that’s probably why. I have no idea if the attack was related to my release of this meme, or if it was just a coincidence. Attacks on The Declination are not entirely infrequent. Bookmark the Youtube video and/or Imgur album and share those.
No need to credit me or anyone else. Keep an eye out for Tom Kratman’s column tomorrow…
This was certainly a fun project for me, even if a lot of work to remix and remaster the song. I had some help in the form of Jim S., the “Basilisk”, the Dread Ilk, Marina F. and, of course, Tom Kratman himself.
Share it, spread it, and trigger a liberal today! For Great Triggering!
Yeah, the title is long. The post will be mercifully short.
So here’s a sampling of Progressive stupidity in no particular order. First, in Canada, a female MP from Alberta takes issue with the loss of jobs in her province, and delivers a speech that contains the word “fart” in it. Another MP, with the sort of pompous, perpetually-offended scowl reminiscent of every Gender Studies professor you’ve ever seen then declares how offended she is. The SJW cannot even bring herself to say the word “fart” and must, instead, spell it out to protect her delicate sensibilities. Take a look for yourself:
All I can say is, thank God I am not a Canadian MP. My language would trigger Miss Cat Lady into conniption fits.
For our second display of Progressive idiocy on this Monday, November 28th, I present the following: Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, a blog that, many moons ago, once made a lot more sense than it does today. Ole CJ used to be something of a center-right kind of guy, until he had an epic meltdown that resulted in the banning of something like 75% of his readership (including yours truly).
Today, he takes offense with people saying mean things about Castro. I, naturally, had feelings about this which resulted in my immediate blocking:
Feel free to go to his Twitter to see the originals – blocked from my feed. He was taking offense that Trump said “assholish” things about Castro. He was also hurt that Hillary lost.
But today’s winner in the contest of who can be the biggest Progressive idiot goes to whoever was responsible for this headline:
The problem? Machete-wielding guy had no gun. He tried to run people over, and resorted to the machete after crashing his Honda 4-banger. The gun graboids were practically drooling… and were resoundingly disappointed by the result. Also, said terrorist turned out to be a Muslim Somali immigrant, instead of the militant Amish gun owner the media was praying for.
Well, it seems as if Hillary Clinton has won some campaign support from the most unlikely of places: Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, where the forces of Sauron, long oppressed by the so-called “free” peoples, have made common cause with the Witch-Queen of New York. Sauron could not be reached for comment, but his emissary, the Mouth of Sauron had this to say:
Long have we suffered under the yoke of the white-skinned Elves. Indeed, they have oppressed Orcs of Color (OoC) for all of the ages of Arda. Orcs, Goblins, and Men of the East have been enslaved and oppressed for generations, having their wealth stolen from them by the Elves and their treacherous Numenorian allies in Gondor. Did you know that the men of Gondor once had a land of their own? Numenor it was called, but they were not content with it and so the Imperialists colonized and oppressed Orcs of Color. Orc Lives Matter! Enough of this bigotry and hate that the white Elves and white Numenorians spread!
Then, through poor environmental management, why, the Numenorians sunk their own island! And now they come to Middle-Earth and pollute the environment from their capital of Minas Tirith. Mount Doom continues to spew toxic waste into the air because Aragorn refuses to give Sauron back the One Ring, which was forged to provide a stream of carbon credits to offset the pollution of the mountain. So the dark days are the fault of Gondor. We want to fight against bigotry, oppression, and Climate Change. And for that, we need the One Ring.
Only one candidate for the Supreme Leader of Man offers to mend this grave injustice, these centuries of enslavement and oppression of orc kind. Sauron the Great bids thee to vote for Hillary Clinton!
And so many enlightened souls from Middle-Earth have made their statements heard:
Smeagol speaks up for Hillary: “Mean, nasty, tricksy Republicans. False! Hillary is Precioussssss.”
Smeagol is a fine, upstanding citizen of Middle-Earth whom the bigoted hobbits have stolen from. Why, Bilbo freely admits stealing Smeagol’s most prized possession! “They stole it, tricksy ShitLords,” Smeagol said. “Gollum, gollum, gollum, but we know voting for Hillary will hurts them, those bigotses. Oh yes, it will hurts them. Then maybe we will be master of the precious again.”
“Hillary understands that we dragons are creatures of peace, love, and understanding,” says Smaug.
Republicans have long associated dragons with violence, murder, and pyromania. Yet only a fraction of dragons have ever committed acts of terror. Dragons worship peace, love, and understanding. Smaug himself unequivocally condemns the acts of violent terror committed by a very small fraction of dragon-kind. “There is no truth to the rumors that I have billions of gold coins,” Smaug said in a statement last week. “These are lies meant to tarnish the impoverished, selfless reputation of dragons. It is pure Dwarven bigotry. We have ever been a peaceful folk.”
Denethor, Steward of Gondor, favors Hillary: “Like me, Hillary understands the needs of the common man.”
Poor Denethor has been terribly maligned by the upstart, so-called King of Gondor, Aragorn. Hillary understands that Gondor needs a caring, kind-hearted Steward with real political and leadership experience, not some warmongering populist ranger from the north.
“The Elves have long discriminated against my kind,” says the Wraith, “Hillary will fight for my rights.”
RingWraiths have been unfairly painted by racist, bigoted Republicans as committing more crimes than the average resident of Middle-Earth. While technically true, it unfairly omits the oppressive activities of the Elvish Patriarchy, which has continually impoverished them and kicked them out of their homes. Why, RingWraiths are driven to crime by poverty and extreme circumstance, not because they are innately violent.
Cave Trolls for Hillary: “Hillary good. Humans tasty [something unintelligible].
They are painted as dumb brutes by ableist Right-wing ShitLords because of their cognitive disabilities. But this is only because the bigots can’t see past the low math scores to the loving, kind-hearted souls within.
“I gave gifts to the peoples of the Earth, and they stole from me. Hillary will correct this injustice.”
He forged a great ring, designed to fight bigotry, hate, and Sauronophobia. And what did the racist white Elves do? They stole it!
The Goblin King Speaks: “Fat liberation and body positivity are central planks of Hillary’s campaign.”
“Just because I have an eating disorder,” the Goblin King further explains, “doesn’t mean I’m any less beautiful. Why, those stick figure Elven women need to eat more! Nobody wants skinny Elvish women when they can have fat goblin men with skin disorders! Big and covered with pimples is beautiful!”
“As a feminist, sometimes violence is necessary to oppose the Patriarchy,” Shelob explains, “That’s why #ImWithHer.”
“Sexism is privilege + discrimination. So female spiders cannot be sexist against men,” Shelob explained in an interview with Salon magazine. “And murder similarly is privilege + killing. And it’s totes justifiable, my Gender Studies professor told me. Spiders have no privilege, so when I kill a sexist Hobbit and drink his blood, it is just speaking truth to power, baby.”
Residents of the Dead Marshes agree: “Hillary ensures that even the votes of the dead are counted.”
“In the Dead Marshes, we have been forgotten and disenfranchised by Republican bigots, who care nothing for the life-disadvantaged,” one resident of the Dead Marshes explained. “Yeah, we even light candles to light their path, and the wingnuts don’t even come down to say hello. It’s like they think they are too good to hang out with dead people,” another answered.
“Just ’cause we eat different than you,” the troll explained, “doesn’t mean you get to make fun of us!”
Our reporters tried to get in contact with the Trolls again, but it turns out that Bilbo Baggins had turned them all into stone! Such closed-minded bigotry! These poor, gentle creatures will never strip the flesh of racist, sexist homophobes to the bone again. A candlelight vigil will be held next Thursday in memory of these loving souls and fighters of the White Supremacist Patriarchy.
Balrogs for Hillary: “I don’t understand why the Republicans don’t let us pass. So racist!”
“I thought that segregation ended decades ago,” the Balrog told Huffington Post journalists. “But every time I try to cross the bridge to get some fresh air, that damned wizard denies me passage. He tells me to use the other crossing, you know the ones white folks don’t use. Why, I can’t even call for a cab in Moria anymore. Taxi drivers are always rolling down their windows, mimicking the wizard, and saying ‘you shall not pass!’ Then they go drive off to pick up Elvish women. It really hurts me inside, you know?”
Uruk Hai for Hillary: “We’ve long suffered bigotry in Rohan. All we want is some flesh redistribution.”
“It’s not right,” the Uruk Hai said, declining to be identified. “We’re always so hungry, and the Rohirrim won’t share their flesh with us. How come they get all the flesh? It’s just the 1% again, taking all the wealth. We’re just trying to raise our children, beautiful Orcs of Color, and these citizens of Rohan go on about, warmongering, and starving us. We want better wages! We want to be paid in flesh! So we’re going to Helm’s Deep to strike and demand our rightful due.” The Uruk Hai claimed to be a member of the Isengard Worker’s Union, Local 666.
“The ableism of Men and Elves is sickening,” Gothmog says, “Hillary will fight for victims of lookism.”
“All bodies are beautiful,” said Gothmog, captain of the Peace Brigade of Mordor, demonstrating peacefully outside Gondor. “You know, every time I approach the white city, filled with racists, they say ‘look there, he’s a hideous orc.’ Those words hurt me inside, they make me feel excluded. And lookist exclusion has no place in a civilized, inclusive, open-minded society.”
Saruman switches sides: “At first I opposed Hillary. But now I see the way forward is to join with her.”
Saruman the White explains his change of heart for the benefit of The Guardian’s readers: “…yes, I was once a white racist. A homophobe and sexist, too. Maybe even a pedo EdgeLord like Sarah Butts. But the day came when it hurt too much, when the love in my heart expunged this hateful bigotry. I know I can never make amends for all the hurt I have done to Orcs of Color, loving Goblin families in their terrible poverty, and beautiful feminist death-spiders. But I will try. I know in my heart that Hillary can help other evil racists find truth and open-minded inclusiveness, if only they embrace the love and peace of Mordor.”
“People need a President they can trust,” Grima Wormtongue explained, “Hillary is that woman. Trust me.”
It is rumored that Grima Wormtongue will be accepting a cabinet post from the Hillary campaign. When questioned about his forced resignation from King Theoden’s company, Grima had this to say: “I tried to counsel the king to choose the way of peace and inclusiveness, but his racism against Orc-kind could not be extinguished. But now we have a new leader, a wiser, more trustworthy leader. Someday they will say of Hillary that a more honest woman never breathed air.”
“The Hobbits refused to share the flesh with us,” says the Orc, “we’re starving, and they are so fat.”
“Everybody knows that, under a Republican Congress, the food stamps have grown thin,” the orc told us. He refused to be identified for fear of reprisal from Gondor. “We asked the Hobbits for a small sacrifice, just a bit of wealth redistribution from their legs. They didn’t need legs, because we carried them, we served them. But they refused! And they even poisoned some of the Uruk Hai against us, making the poor Uruk Hai self-loathing. Hillary will help us, and the rich 1%, lording in their splendid Shire, shall finally be made to pay their fair share of flesh.”
“You fools,” the Witch-King of Angmar told Fox reporters, “no man can earn my vote.”
The Witch-King’s speech impediment sabotaged the rest of the interview — WE INTERRUPT THIS CAPTION TO NOTE THAT THE ABLEIST REPUBLICAN WHO WROTE THAT HAS BEEN SACKED — the beautiful music coming from the Witch-King of Angmar soothed our souls, even though it sounded like a bag of cats being banged together repeatedly — SORRY THE RACIST WHO REPLACED THE MAN WHO WAS SACKED WISHES YOU TO KNOW THAT HE HAS BEEN SACKED — The beautiful wraith of color had no further comment.
And so The Mouth of Sauron endorses Hillary Clinton: “It’s time we selected a President with real values.”
“And as an aside,” the Mouth of Sauron told us, “STDs are a badge of honor. I’m tired of people pointing and laughing at my Herpes infection. It’s not my fault that the Orc woman I went down on last year was poisoned by rangers from the north. You know, those rangers invented Herpes to kill Orc-folk. And meth, too. They made meth. That’s why my teeth are so screwed up. I hate the rangers, I really do.”
And so our interviewers have determined that the realm of Mordor, a bastion of animal rights, climate change activism, hope, change and inclusiveness will most likely favor Hillary Clinton. It is said that through pure voluntary community organization and grassroots efforts (no coercion of any kind), early predictions indicate a 100% favorability rating for the Witch-Queen of New York in Mordor, Mirkwood, and other areas where Sauron is seen not as a Dark Lord, but as a liberator for the oppressed peoples of Middle-Earth.
His eye couldn’t be reached for comment. Because it was a fucking eyeball suspended in space at the top of a gigantic penis-shaped tower of death. Sauron assures us that the shape is purely coincidental, of course. “Sauron is a good feminist,” the Mouth of Sauron explained, “if his tower looks like a penis and his eye is positioned at the top of it, well that is just because the sexists of Gondor have forced him to do it through peer pressure. Nobody pays attention to you in this society if you don’t have a giant phallic tower of doom. Even Saruman, back when he was racist scum, knew THAT.”
On a more lighthearted note, it can be pleasing to see someone get their just deserts. In this case, the only flaw is that the deliverer of righteous fury felt bad after the deed was done. I’d be celebrating. Observe:
I work in an office with around 20 people and we all use the same fridge.
We’ve had problems for months with food going missing and no matter how many passive-aggressive notes management put out or naming of cartons/packets; shit keeps going missing.
One day some greedy shit eats my ENTIRE portion of leftover lasagna I’d brought in leaving me with no lunch and I was mad as hell.
As a hobby I am a competitive chili eater and I have experimented with making my own chili sauces so I have some 5,000,000 scoville extract in my cupboard (357 Maddog extract) and decided to lace some food with it and leave it in the cupboard. I got a pack of 3 sausage rolls, lifted the pastry off of one of them, dabbed several drops of extract at one end and put the pastry back on top and back in the packet. Revenge is a dish best served red fucking hot.
I have one hell of a tolerance to hot food and in hindsight this was a DUMB idea even if I was super mad that someone had eaten my lunch. I was bad and I feel bad.
2 days later my colleague (it turned out to be the fat gal in the office) starts screaming in agonizing gastronomical pain and we have to call an ambulance for her. She is legit having seizures and vomiting and crying and everyone in the office is freaking the hell out She was taken to hospital by ambulance and discharged a few hours later (thankfully) once the pain had subsided.
Food stopped going missing.
TL;DR Someone stole my food, I put them in hospital
The author purports to feel bad for putting this woman in the hospital, but note how effective the defense was: food no longer goes missing in the office. This was a fat woman who, by virtue of her fatness, clearly did not need to be scarfing down her coworkers’ lunches. She wasn’t starving, obviously. And she kept right on doing it until she met unpleasant consequences.
Bravo, good sir. Keep up the good work, and stop feeling bad about it!
I'm a DJ, developer, amateur historian, would-be pundit, and general pain in the ass. I still cannot decide on the wisdom of the Oxford Comma. These are my observations on a civilization in decline, a political system on the verge of collapse, and a people asleep at the wheel as the car turns toward the jersey barrier.