Tuesday assorted links


An interesting article about David Brooks.

Yes, it is. Brooks, a Jew ("Ethnically, culturally, historically, I’m Jewish."), appreciates Christianity ("a more richly developed sense of grace"), laments the loss of community ("If there’s something I’ve been frustrated with, it’s our excessively individualistic society. That’s led to a belief that everyone should come up with their own values and no one should judge each other. That destroys moral conversation and becomes just a question of feelings."), and expresses admiration for St. Paul ("In Ephesus, when the Roman Empire was at a stage of late, high decadence, there was a little guy in the market, who everyone probably considered a weirdo, named St. Paul, and he was preaching. Within 300 years, Ephesus was a ruin and Paul’s religion had taken over the world."). Of course, there is no stronger community than the one to which Brooks belongs by birth, and perhaps no one theologian more responsible for an excessively individualistic society than St. Paul, who converted what was a Jewish movement led by a Jewish Messiah and His Jewish Disciples into the highly sectarian Gentile religion we know today as Christianity.

Does this sound like today's society? - "That’s led to a belief that everyone should come up with their own values and no one should judge each other." Hasn't he heard of the SJW mentality, the hysteria in the press when someone says something non-PC. the people being killed by ISIS and other because they criticised someone elses religion. I think we would all be better off if people would mind their own business more.

"Hasn’t he heard of the SJW mentality, the hysteria in the press when someone says something non-PC."

Brooks often seems to write as if he's missing some obvious counter-examples. It's one of the reasons he's derided so much, because it's so easy to point out obvious flaws in his arguments.

To be fair, if you question SWJs, do you get moral conversation? The anger and scorn of SJWs and media hysteria is pretty far from that.

Although maybe a more accurate statement of the spirit of our times is: "moral judgments are just a matter of feelings, just be sure to have the right feelings" or "create your values: just be sure to create the right values." And "don't ask what right feelings or values are - we'll let you know."

"To be fair, if you question SWJs, do you get moral conversation?"
According to them, yes. Some other people (Muslims for example) think morality is about not eating pork (Jehovah Witnesses are against blood transfusions and so on). Apparently, what bothers Mr. Brooks is other people daring to have different moral ideas from the ones he favors.

To be fair, what bothers the SJWs is Mr. Brooks daring to have moral ideas different from the ones they favor. They were made for each other. If we could put them all inside a bag full of rocks and throw them into sea, we would be richer for this.

The warriors you people are so rapid about are a bunch of kids on college campuses, a few underemployed twenty somethings, and a few professional muckrakers catering to the former. The hysteria over them is worse than they are.

I don't understand, should "SJW's" judge you for saying ignorant things because there is a universal value system whereby all people are treated as people, or should they leave you alone because you have your own values that are different from theirs and believe that it is ok to treat people like shit?

SJWs are obviously particularists, what universal value system? Protected classes are awarded special moral status. That's the whole point of their ideology.

To be "fair" 90% of the complaints about "SJWs" can be boiled down to: "I'm being called out for some BS comment I could get away with making 20 years ago and I'm not happy."
This entire cycle of idiocy is not worth the electrons being wasted on it.

http://www.waterparks.org/ ?

No, the objection isn't to being "called out." It is the lynch mob mentality that often aims to see the person in question fired or worse combined with a total lack of sense of proportion. The #CancelColbert meme is a case in point. At least Colbert -- because he is too rich and too famous to fall victim to a SJW lynch mob -- managed to turn it into a funny segment when he was still on Comedy Central.

'I was raped by a group of young men of middle eastern origin at the New Year party'. Indeed you could say that 20 years ago and the police and politicians would have taken it seriously and the media would have reported it.

SJWs (a term, by the way, that says more about the speaker than the subject) are the ne plus ultra of this trend. Nobody is allowed to criticize anyone else for any personal decision or action they take. The very act of criticism is subject to the strictest sanction.

"Nobody is allowed to criticize anyone else"

So what is the method they respond with?

You make an interesting contrast between Judaism as a communitarian faith and Christianity as an individualistic one. There may be some truth to that. However, I would say the break from the communitarian model came much later in Christian history - ie., with the Protestant reformation. So perhaps Martian Luther is a more appropriate target for your ire than St Paul.

Pretty much. The idea of "individualized" Christianity is simply mind-boggling. After the exorcism of Arian Christianity, the Church is unified until the period of Luther.

Dogma is set by the Church. There is no questioning, there is no "individual interpretation."

>the Church is unified until the period of Luther.

What a load of ahistorical nonsense. There were a million alternative Christian sects ("heresies") before Luther. Ever heard of the Cathars? Not to mention the Eastern Church...

The Cathars were slaughtered. That the Eastern Church and the Western Church divided over the iconoclast issue really proves that the respective Churches have strict theologies and demand acquiescence. It's not Cafeteria Christianity.

Contrast with the 19th Century Protestant Factionalisation in America.

I agree: Luther broke from the Church for the same reason Paul broke from Judaism. It's no coincidence that today's fastest growing churches are so-called "community" churches, unaffiliated and unbound, with charismatic leaders who are answerable to nobody, many promoting a form of prosperity gospel that emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus and abjures good works ("we are justified by faith alone") and are highly sectarian. Christianity has evolved from a single Church with its own hierarchy and canon to multiple Protestant churches (denominations) each with its own hierarchy and canon to multiple independent churches each with its own hierarchy and canon. What's next? What I refer to as the Church of I (because it has only one member, I). Brooks, God love him, is confused. Me, I'm more amused than confused. But then, I'm a cradle Episcopalean; for us, moderation is the correct theological path.

David who?

Brooks is the most insidious of commentators. He uses his middle-aged, mellow white man persona to preach reasonableness, while proudly noting that his son is part of the Israeli army that occupies another country.

I have a hard time finding his being proud of his son insidious. That seems pretty normal to me.

Which other country would that be?

And the Israeli army is different than the US Army in what way? Oh, that's right, they don't have bases on Okinawa, in Germany or Cuba.

The IDF is an effective military force. I'd be proud, too.

So was the Wehrmacht.


If its moral justification is "the IDF is an effective military force", then it is (or more like Prussia-- "An army with a country"--, maybe.

Not sure where to leave this, but . .
Despite all the above, today's Brooks NYT column is entirely fitting and proper. And a most salient & pertinent topic.
Long overdue, & haven't seen anyone state it as clearly.

Lycra, not latex. The difference is crucial.

Yes. Both are fetish gear, but Latex is WAY more hard core fetish gear.

Also, you cannot breathe through latex.

"Baphomet" I've seen that name elsewhere. I assume you are aware of the context.

Yes, that was me. It shall remain our secret.

Yeah, but you can make nose holes. People actually do do full-body latex suits.

I know I shouldn't ask, but since when is Lycra fetish wear? I mean, any more than something like leather or silk is. But apart from latex gloves (and basically male oriented sheathes which aren't exactly fetish wear), what is the latex equivalent of leather coats, motorcycle gear, or pretty much any common wearable use of leather (elbow patches on certain sweaters/jackets comes to mind)?

And being aware of Rule 34, there is no way I'm going to do anything but make a request in this regard.

Tyler already put up this story a couple of years ago but by a different newspaper. A winter rerun.

Re: Rule 34.



Thanks - really, since I never connected Lycra to Spandex.

But having grown up in the 70s, I find this a bit much (apart from the fantasy incorporation of such activities) - 'Spandex fetishism is a fetishistic attraction to people wearing form fitting stretch fabrics or to the wearing of items of clothing made of such material. Spandex garments are often worn by swimmers, ballet dancers, wrestlers, rowers, cyclists, contortionists and circus performers, and spandex fetishists may incorporate fantasies about these activities into their particular fetish.'

Spandex covered or naked - back in those more innocent days, the point was not the material covering the form. That was left that to the nylon/garter/silk etc. crowd.

Things change - thanks again.

#3 Already spoofed in https://vimeo.com/131422396 "The Timmy Brothers — Water Makers"

I once went to a SoHo water bar while visiting NYC and bar hopping. A lot of lesbians were there as I recall... it's cool. Not my cup of tea though.

Premium priced water: proving there is a Great Stagnation. Otherwise, there'd be better stuff to waste your money on, like sex robots and racing drones through the asteroid belt. Lame.

It might surprise people to know that "spooks" are not so much different from the rest of us. My mom was an analyst at the CIA when Castro was starting his revolution, and several friends work or have worked for the CIA. None of them are "spooky".

I thought "spook" was a derogatory term for an African American person.


I almost spit my coffee out when I read that line.

Huh, I've never heard that usage before. Just the "spy" usage, but I read a lot of Tom Clancy novels in my teens, so maybe I've been overexposed to the latter.

I've heard both, being born in Alexandria, and growing up in Vienna and Fairfax to two parents who worked for two different three letter agencies, one of which did not officially exist until I was 12.

Let's just say that it is probably a lot less common to hear 'spook' when referring to skin color in Northern Virginia since the early 1970s.

Doesn't get used very much anymore - those of use who were kids in the 60s and 70s remember it

That Brooks interview is weird. He refers to his family in the past tense, admits failings in his marriage, and suggests that he's a Jew for Jesus.

He is projecting his unhappiness with his personal life onto wider society. His marriage fell apart, so society must be falling apart too. It's not surprising that a political pundit would express his depression this way. I feel for the guy.

Yes, it was weird. Consider this paragraph:

"No, I didn’t have a midlife crisis. If anything, it was the opposite, it was moments of coming home and seeing my kids so happy, and meeting people who were just so joyful. And I would love to experience and radiate that inner joy, which they did. So it’s more aspirational than that I hit rock bottom and I’m rebounding."

Why wouldn't seeing his "kids so happy" be enough? Maybe he has affluenza.

I may be wrong, but I was not confused. Brooks heard the question correctly and answered it from the point of view of someone who is no longer "mid-life" - he is well past that. He was not hinting that he has affluenza, he was stating that, when he was "midlife", he was very happy. One thing that made him joyful was coming home and seeing his kids, and meeting people who were, like him, joyful. Those are now memories for him, not current realities. So he did not have a mid-life crisis, he may have a current crisis, but it is not a "mid-life" one. That's all. By the way, one of the interesting small details in the Brothers Karamazov is a comparison made (admittedly by the author, who was a great sinner, and hence not exactly an expert on good people) between the successfully Christian monk (Father Zosima), who brought and predicted joy for almost everyone around him, and who looked older than his chronological years, and a much more ascetic but resentful monk (Father Ferapont) who actually looked only about 60 when he was 70. The linked article has a picture of Brooks looking his age or more and that is a good sign, from the point of view I have just described.

I see him contrasting himself to happy people.

Re Bowie - I had you pegged for a more avant-garde selection like Low.

#5...The Saragossa Manuscript is a great movie starring one of my top five favorite film actors, Zbigniew Cybulski. In fact, his performance in Ashes & Diamonds is my favorite male film performance, period. Ashes & Diamonds, The Apu Trilogy, and The American Friend are all in my top ten film list. Scott saw a lot of very good films in 2015.

I'd also like to recommend the writings of Bruno Schulz, the author of The Street of Crocodiles, and also the films that are based upon his writings, which tend to be very good. Schulz was also an interesting artist who illustrated some of his writings. Deja vu, but I think I mentioned Schulz a while back on this blog, but he really is worth mentioning again.

The Saragossa Manuscript is indeed a great film, one of my favorites. I will check out Ashes and Diamonds; thanks for the tip.

Ziggy Stardust was my favorite Bowie album.

Curious use of the past tense there.

I used to do drugs. I mean I still do. But I used to, too.

Tyler likes to present himself as "being an autodidact" in most things--that even while being a "genius economist," he still has plenty of spare brain power to survey popular culture enough to have a "favorite Bowie album!" Since it was so long ago that he last listened to that Ziggy Stardust album--"was my favorite" is a fair description. By the way, that's an amusing image--a precocious, nerdy, libertarian, 10 year-old Tyler Cowen listening to an album about a bisexual alien rock superstar. {Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972 and Tyler was born in 1962}

#1. Isn't the Zentai thing a fetish-culture trend? This is pretty much in keeping with Japan being known as a seriously sexually repressed culture with all sorts of totally bizarre fetish trends.

Japan looks stranger than it actually is because its a foreign culture. Homeborne weirdos are weirdos, whereas Japanese weirdos are interpreted as emblematic of Japanese culture. I'm pretty sure Otherkin are way more of a bizarre fetish than dressing lycra suits.

Otherkin are something else entirely. I'm not sure it is correctly categorized as "fetish".

You're probably right that Japaense sexuality looks wierder than it is because it is foreign. That doesn't mean it isn't objectively wierder or more repressed, or wierder because it is more repressed, than American or European sexuality. I cannot begin to list the number of wierd Japanese sex practices that I have heard of, whereas, I can't even list one wierd Indian sexual practice, except maybe that Hinduism advocates cunnilingus.
The Kama Sutra seems downright tame in comparison to Japanese tentacle porn.

Well, the "Western Gaze on Japan" shows how sexualy obssessed the west is (which is also a form of repression): westerners think everything that is weird is sexual, westerners think that the only driving force in the universe for anything is sex, apparently: The zentai article doesn't mention anything sexual in it. I notice the same pattern everywhere.

"Homeborne weirdos are weirdos, whereas Japanese weirdos are interpreted as emblematic of Japanese culture"


That's my pet peeve with these sorts of "haha isn't country X so weird/funny" stories. If you head to a s&m club or furry convention in the US you'd find some pretty weird stuff too...

"To charge the top dollar, the water has to be marketed ..." Because a fool and his (her?) money? Because pet rocks? Whole lotta sizzle, not so much steak?

Not that superpremium vodka is much different (isn't it just water and ethanol?). Although some of the bottles are attractive.

Perhaps some of those fancy water bottles will show up (empty) on eBay.

#3. Does anyone else remember the oxygen craze of the 1990's?

Ziggy Stardust - I agree.

#4 was the most interesting thing I've read today

#5. So boring, his tastes are almost like the average of movie critics, with critical darlings like MD and 2001 at the top as usual. And his favorite TV series is Twin Peaks? This is so boring, it's like he is talking as if he is listing what he is supposed to like according to the Anglophone critical concensus.

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