Fisking 27 ways to be a modern man: A Blast from the Past.

Oh, lordy.  A couple of years ago there was this ridiculous article on the New York Times’ website “27 Ways to be a Modern Man”.  It was so risible that I simply had to fisk it.  So, here it is again, the fisking of “27 Ways to be a Modern Man:


Usually I leave the fisking to others.  By the time I get around to thinking things through, others have done the job said all I would care to say on the subject.  But this one I couldn’t leave alone.

So, text from the original article will be in Bold.  My comments in Italics.

Being a modern man today is no different than it was a century ago. It’s all about adhering to principle. Sure, fashion, technology and architecture change over time, as do standards of etiquette, not to mention ways of carrying oneself in the public sphere. But the modern man will take the bits from the past that strike him as relevant and blend them with the stuff of today.

Okay, this sounds like a reasonable approach, at first.  Learn from the past and apply it to today’s situations.  Practically the definition of conservatism.

1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.

“When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse”? His spouse isn’t capable of buying her own shoes? Does he also tie them for her?  Yes, some brands run big and small.  But so do individual patterns.  And a shoe that looks good on the shelf or in a catalog may not look so good on ones feet.  And there is simply no way to tell how they will feel until she actually tries them on.

How about this:  instead of buying shoes behind her back which may or may not be what she wants, why not take her with you to buy shoes.  Or go along when she wants to buy shoes.  Or, if she’s asking you to go because she needs new shoes right now and for whatever reason can’t get to the store herself, then he should have her tell him what she wants, including size.

In that case, the modern man will go from store to store until he finds what she asked for because making his wife happy pleases him.

But the elephant in the room here is shoe buying?  Really?  That’s what you put on the list of what makes a modern man?

2. The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.
Antony Hare

The modern man knows when he needs help and asks for it. The manliest of men once said “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

3. The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.

The modern man can eat quietly.

4. The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.

The modern man knows how to cook a steak. If it’s prepared improperly at a restaurant, he. sends. it. back. If they’re taking his money, the least they can to is provide good value in the form of a properly prepared steak.

Oh, and incidentally, a properly prepared fillet doesn’t have fat to trim.

5. The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.

The modern man can do elementary arithmetic and determine whether it’s quicker to just park here or look for a better parking spot.

Or, if he wants to be quick about it, he starts close, works his way out, and parks at the first spot he comes to.

6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.

The modern man can trust his spouse to see to her own phone. As for the kids, if they’re old enough to have a phone, they’re old enough to see that it’s charged. If they forget, well that will be a lesson for next time, won’t it?

7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.

The modern man drinks whatever he wants. If it’s Diet Cherry Mountain Dew, it’s Diet Cherry Mountain Dew. The modern man does not apologize for his choice of beverage.

If a guest asks for something the modern man does not stock the modern man says something like “I’m sorry but I don’t have that. Would you perhaps like…” and then offers a selection of what the modern man does have. If a modern man knows in advance that a guest has a particular preference, the modern man will insure that he has a supply of it.  See “considerate” above.

The modern man’s guests never leave hungry or thirsty unless it’s by their own choice.

8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.

The modern man uses words appropriate to the context and audience. That might be “helicopter”, “chopper”, “Huey”, “Blackhawk”, or “Our ride” depending on the situation. Words are tools that serve the user. They convey more than just dictionary definitions but feelings and connotations and are chosen with that in mind.

9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.

The modern man appreciates whatever children the Gods grant to him. He does not keep trying until he has a daughter. He loves any and all children he may have, each as an individual.

10. The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.

Come on. It’s the 21st century. The modern man has a dishwasher. If he doesn’t (poverty does not render one less of a man) he has a dishtowel.

11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.

Okay. Can’t argue that one.

12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.

The modern man may well use body wash. And Irish Spring? Perfume in soap form? If you must use bar soap, then Ivory all the way. (I kid. The modern man uses whatever he wants.)

And again, really? Manhood defined as avoiding the possibility of having to hop out of the shower to grab some soap?

13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.

The modern man listens to whatever the hell he wants. But if that playlist doesn’t include bands like Dragonforce, Hammerfall, and Man O’ War, I have to raise some questions…

14. The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.

Rubbish. The phone has a note taking app for a reason. The modern man is not afraid of modern technology. See that “modern” in there? That’s a hint.

15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.

Once again, the modern man has whatever flooring he wants. If his children need to hear his foot stamps to determine his mood, he’s doing it wrong.

If you really want people to understand what you think and how you’re feeling, there’s this wonderful invention called “words”. Use them.

16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.

The modern man and his spouse decide between them who sleeps on which side of the bed so that both are happy with the arrangement. The modern man understands that compromise and mutual accommodation is one of the keys to a successful relationship. The modern man has dogs, a security system, locks at least, and weapons to deal with the unlikely event of someone breaking into the dwelling intent on harm.

17. Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?

The modern man couldn’t care less how neatly balled the melons are. They all taste the same. If, for some reason, he has a fetish for neatly rounded melon balls (not that there’s anything wrong with that) he may have a melon baller. Or he may not. It’s hardly an essential of manhood.

18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.

The modern man buys shoes that fit that he doesn’t have to cram his feet into.

19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.

Okay, I’ll give you this one too.

20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.

There is nothing that lifts a man’s spirits more than being able to support and protect someone else.

21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.

This is something you worry about? Sneezing is an involuntary reaction. Hell, our Training Instructors didn’t gig us for sneezing in basic military training (but it had better not sound like a fake sneeze).

22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.

The modern man has internet allowing him to sample a variety of news and opinion sources. (But I see what you did there New York Times.)

23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).

Eh. They’re okay, but I’ve seen better.

John Wayne’s and Clint Eastwood’s films on the other hand…

(Ed: And if you don’t have John Wick…)

24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.

But the modern man obsesses about his spouse’s and children’s phones to the point of checking that they’re charging every night? (Point #6)

The modern man plans ahead. He has a phone with sufficient battery life for his needs or he has extra battery capacity–either an external battery pack or access to a charger–to insure that he has power when he needs it.

25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.

The modern man recognizes that he is ultimately responsible for his protection and that of his family. He is responsible for not putting his family under the hardship that his own death or injury can cause. The police cannot always be there. Crime and the threat of violence will, indeed, appear when the police are not at hand (criminals not wanting to be caught will generally act where the police are not. Until the police arrive, which can take some time, the modern man is on his own.

The modern man arms himself against that need.

26. The modern man cries. He cries often.

Perhaps at times but often? The modern man has other tools in his kit for dealing with problems. The modern man puts on the gloves and hammers away at the heavy bag. He splits wood. He does woodworking projects. He runs. He works on his car. He goes to the range and puts holes in paper. He does any of a variety of things to redirect frustration and sadness and cleanse his mind and spirit.

27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.

If the modern man likes to dance, he dances. He doesn’t worry about what other people think about it. He may be good at it. He may be bad at it. But he dances. At the least, however, he knows some basic, general purpose steps so that he can teach his children so they won’t feel totally helpless in social situations that involve dancing.

The original article wasn’t describing the modern man.  It was describing the modern milquetoast.  The essentials of manhood have not changed.  Courage, honor, providing for and defending ones family.  These are the constants that have not changed however much some folk want to denigrate them these days.

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Happy (or not as you prefer) World Goth Day

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For those unfamiliar, here’s a brief history of Goths, the Gothic subculture and why “Goth”  even though they, we, were nowhere about when Rome was being sacked. (I’ve got an alibi!)

And some pictures of Goths, being Goth (what can I say, I like couples):

If this interests you, Toxic Tears has some tips on getting started:

Awards day at Dance Legacy.

My daughter has been in ballet since this past, October I think.  In March the class she’s in was in a big competition.  Today, Athena collected her awards for that:

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The trophy was for a competition that, unfortunately, Athena did not attend. (Miscommunication so I didn’t get her there.) The plaque sitting on top of it is for the competition she did.  That one goes to the school.  The medal she’s wearing is her personal award, along with a pin.  She’s wearing the costume she wore for the competition.

Here’s the video I took of the ceremony:

Going into the Summer session, Athena will be continuing Beginning Ballet, on Tuesday nights now, with a later additional session called “Pre-Pointe”.  She’s really enjoying it, at least for now.  Mind you, I can remember plenty of other things she was really excited about in the past and perhaps this, too, shall pass but for now I’ll let her see where she wants to, and can, go with it.

 

Minimum Wage and the Market

People on the left (it’s always the left for this one) who claim that if you do away with minimum wage it means wages will plummet to nothing while the evil business owners gloat over their fat profits.

The fact that employers will need to compete for good workers seems to escape them. If that other company over there has good workers who are making them a bunchaton of money, you might like to hire a few away from them (unless there’s a glut of equally capable workers so that you have your pick–don’t worry; I’ll get to that soon). How are you going to get them to quit that job and come work for you (making a bunchaton of money for you)? In olden days you might launch a raid, steal their workers, and chain them in your factories, but that tends to be frowned upon these days.

These days you only have one option, you need to offer them a better deal, either in pay or in other benefits so that they can tell current employer, “I’m outta here” and come work for you instead.

Of course, other guy wants to keep the workers making them a bunchaton of money and not lose them to you. So what to they do? They see your offer and raise their own so the workers say “on second thought, I’ll stay here.”

You, of course, still want to make money so you have to increase your offer still further. Now, you eventually hit some point where it’s not worth increasing your offer because the bunchaton of money you’d be spending for the workers reduces the bunchaton of money they’d make for you to “not worth it”.

That’s called “market value” for the labor.

Maybe you can play with things a bit. The other guy offers more money but you offer better medical (for instance) and some folk will like your deal better and some folk will like their deal better. Both of you get people working for you, maybe not all you would like, but some.  Not an ideal situation for either you or your competitor but, hey, at least your still making money if not quite the same bunchaton of money you might if not for that pesky guy over their competing for the same workers.

Now suppose there is that glut of workers.  There are a lot of workers sitting idle.  They don’t have jobs.  They are earning nothing.  As a result, you can offer less to get them to work for you because something is better than nothing.  That, however, is what you find in mindless “unskilled labor” where any warm body will do the job.  Even there, however, not all unskilled labor is the same.  There are those who will throw themselves into the job giving it their all, and there are those who will do the bare minimum they can get away with, and there are those who you have to stand over every second to get them to work at all.  The third group, you want to get rid of as soon as possible.  If you have to constantly stand over them, you’re not doing the things you could otherwise be doing–finding customers, finding suppliers providing the best value, arranging for other workers.  You’re losing all that for the “gain” of a worker doing not just the absolute minimum, but requiring your constant attention to get even that much.  That worker is a net cost to you.  The worker in the middle, might be okay to keep, but only just.  The workers in the first group though, ah, they’re the ones that can be quite valuable to you.  You want to keep them.  And since you already have them and they’re already familiar with our operation, you want to keep them happy and maybe provide training so they can move up to jobs requiring more expertise where they can make more money for you.  But to do that, you have to increase their compensation because there’s always that competitor ready to hire them away once they show themselves as having more value than that “glut” of “interchangeable warm bodies” workers.

This is why as of 2017 only 2.3% of all hourly paid workers earn at or below the Federal Minimum Wage.  The belief that reducing or eliminating the minimum wage will lead to a precipitous drop in earnings is, to put it simply, ridiculous.  The market doesn’t work that way (when it’s allowed to work).

There is a flip side, however.  Note that the whole argument is about good workers who make money for their employers.  But what about the guy who doesn’t have the skills and expertise of those folk.  Is he forever locked out of getting a good paying job, of having employers compete for his labor?

While this worker might not be able to compete in skill and experience with those established workers, there’s one area he can compete on:  price.  An employer who would not be willing to chance this less experienced, less skilled worker at the same price as the established, skilled workers, the employer might be willing to give him a shot at a lesser level of compensation.  This provides an opportunity to gain the experience and skills, to demonstrate the work ethic, to show that, yes, the worker has value to contribute to an employer and, thus, get into the position where employers have to offer him more to avoid losing him to competition and taking that value with him.

Now this is where things like Minimum Wage and Union contracts and other things that limit how much the worker can compete on price come into play.  By requiring a certain level of compensation regardless of skill, experience, or work ethic, they limit the new, inexperienced, unskilled worker’s ability to compete against those who have more experience and skills.  And so it becomes harder for these folk to enter the work force in the first place.  You end up with an increase of “under the table” arrangements which is less useful for establishing value to employers (being illegal and therefore secret).

Thus, Minimum Wage ends up hurting the very people it is claimed to be intended to help–those on the bottom, having difficulty transitioning from unskilled “interchangeable warm bodies” jobs to jobs earning higher compensation.

Sure the “raise” from an increased Minimum Wage or a new above-market-value contract is great for those who have the jobs.  Not so much for those fired, or laid off, or never hired in the first place because of the enforced distortion of market forces.

The result of all this is that Minimum Wage is one of those things that sounds good if you look at it quickly and don’t think too much about it but just doesn’t work in practice.

A new policy for attending cons by John Ringo

I’m rather small potatoes for this to matter much in my case but yeah, pretty much this.

Mad Genius Club

 A new policy for attending cons by John Ringo

So Larry Correia’s invite as GOH to Origins got rescinded because he’s ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘has sex with manatees’ etc.

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A Tale of Two Lanterns

Short one today.

Many years ago I was a big comics fan.  Not a collect comics and keep them carefully in mylar bags to preserve them in mint condition, type fan but a grab everything I could get my hands on and read it until it falls apart type fan.

I loved comic books.  I loved heroes.  People who’ve read some of my other posts should understand that about me.  People with amazing powers who use those powers of their own free will, nobody outside forcing them to do it, to help others.  Awesome.  Can’t get enough of it. (And if some get paid for it–I’m looking at you Heroes for Hire–that’s fine too.  Just so long as they’re helping people along the way.)

One of those heroes was Green Lantern.  The Green Lantern of my childhood was Hal Jordan.  And every time he had to charge his Power Ring (every 24 hours), he said his oath:

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.  Let those who worship evil’s might beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!

And so I went quite a few years.  I encountered other Lanterns from other space sectors (these Green Lantern’s were kind of like space cops, each with a sector of space to patrol).  I saw that the other Lanterns had their own oaths.  Okay, fair enough.

Times changed.  There was a “backup” Green Lantern on Earth (to take over if anything happened to Hal) named Guy Gardner.  Then something happened to him (don’t remember what) requiring another backup to be chosen.  John Stewart–the one people know from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series.

But then, some years later I encountered the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott.  His ring was quite different.  Where Hal’s was the product of alien super-science, Alan’s was from an ancient magic lantern prophesied to flare three times, once for death, once for life, and once for power.  We get the tale of the first two flares and the third flare is where Alan Scott gets his power.  He makes his ring from a part of the lantern (I know that doesn’t make sense.  It was the 40’s.  Just go with it.) and becomes the Green Lantern.  Instead of being vulnerable to the color yellow (in the sense that it can’t directly affect anything of that color), his ring is vulnerable to “natural things” (likewise) as opposed to manufactured which soon morphs into “doesn’t affect wood.”

His oath, too, was different.

I shall shed my light over dark evil, for dark things cannot stand the light.  The light of the Green Lantern.

That rocked.  For that oath alone I prefer the Alan Scott Green Lantern to the Hal Jordan one.

Hal’s oath is about power.  I don’t disparage power.  It allows one to do great things.  But Alan’s?  Alan’s is not about power.  It’s about being a light, a beacon.  Light that shines forth.  Evil cowers from it.  Good is drawn to it.

Power can be countered with power, but light?  Darkness can only retreat from it.  It can try to extinguish the light but it cannot defeat it.  As the metaphor goes, a single candle defeats the deepest darkness.

Not all of us have power, but all of us can be a light that shines in the world, the light of freedom, of courage, of ideals soaring high.

Be like Alan Scott, let your light shine forth.

Silencing Dissent (Fictional Characters Weigh In).

A couple days ago I wrote about the Origins Game Fair screeching.  This is part of a larger scheme where people, almost entirely from one end of the political spectrum (or one corner if you are into two-dimensional descriptors) of attempting to silence any dissent.

You know, it’s pretty sad when fictional characters make more sense than people who at least pretend to be real human beings.  Consider, for instance, on the case of some pretty extreme examples, what Captain America had to say about actual, self-identified neo-Nazis (and not the “Everyone I don’t like is a Nazi” that’s become so popular these days) and their Jewish extremist opponents in a long-ago issue of Captain America:

“All my life I’ve had a habit of making speeches.  Some people have criticized me for it.  They may be right.  Because I cannot express with words the horror I feel at seeing what you’ve done here today.

Don’t you realize that in your attack, you’ve attacked your own freedom as well?

The Freedom that guarantees all ideas–both noble and ignoble–the expression that is imperative if our society is to survive!

[Ed:  speaking to Jewish protestor] You!  Can’t you see that in stooping to your enemy’s level–you’re being made over in his image–that you’re becoming the very thing you loathe?

[Ed:  Speaking to Neo-nazi] And You!  In your fear and ignorance you deny reality!  Rewrite history!  I wish I could take you back with me to the day we liberated Diebenwald [Ed:  Presume this is the name given to one of the death camps in the Marvel Universe]–let you smell the stomach-churning stench of death–let you see the mountain of corpses left behind by the corrupt madman and murderer you idolize!

You two aren’t interested in the truthare you?

You’re only interested in your own self-consuming hate.

Two of  a kind.

Freedom of speech means that, yes, even people who are saying vile things have a right to speak.  You don’t have to listen to them, but you do not have the right to silence them, to prevent them from assembling (so long as it’s peaceable), from renting halls or air time, or even for speaking at your campus so long as there are people at your campus who want to hear them and they fill all the rules (which should not include limitations on content) any other speaker has to fulfill.

No, speech that you disagree with is not violence.

Let me cite another fictional character, Mike Harmon from the novel Ghost (Oh!  John Ringo, No!) to kind of illustrate the idea:

“You’re not with the police?” the girl said, totally confused.

“Oh, come on,” Mike scoffed. “I know you’re an airhead, but use at least one brain cell. Do the police commonly shoot people through the leg to get information?”

“Well, they beat people up,” Ashley said, with relentlessly liberal logic.

“Did those guys beat you?” Mike asked, gesturing at the dead terrorists.

“Yes,” Ashley said, sobbing gently.

“Would you like me to shoot you through the knee so you can tell the difference?” Mike asked, puzzling over the load list.

If you think speech is violence there are only two possibilities:  you’re a complete moron (and that’s an insult to complete morons) who has never experience violence and lacks even the rudimentary ability to imagine what it’s like, or you are lying.

I know which way I bet.

Speech is not violence.  It might incite violence, and when the incitement is immediate and direct, then that might be a cause to intervene, but just saying things you despise is not.  Examples:

  • “I hate brown haired people and wish they’d all die.” Allowed to say.  You’d be an idiot and I’m allowed to mock you and say that you’re an idiot that should eat a bag of dicks and choke.
  • (Pointing, with an angry mob listening to you) “Seize that (brown haired) guy over there and beat him to death with sticks.” No, that justifies some intervention.

In most cases, the proper thing to do when somebody says things that you consider utterly outrageous, even vile, is given by another fictional character (oh, there was a historical person of that name, but this is a fictional adaptation).  Rameses from The Ten Commandments (and while Charlton Heston may have been the “star”, Yul Brynner owned that movie):

Let him speak that men may know him mad.

Because if they are really that outrageous, then the more they speak, the more they’ll be ridiculous.  And the more people will turn away from them because they are so ridiculous.  You don’t have to silence them.  They are their own worst enemies.

However, when you go out of your way to silence them, once again what’s happening can be summed up by another fictional character, Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones:

When you tear out a man’s tongue, you do not prove him a liar.  You only show the world that you fear what he might say.

So, if you’re so afraid that what they say is so much more persuasive than what you say, you need to take a long hard look not at them but at yourself.  Why do you lack confidence in your ability to defeat their words with words of your own?

Maybe the weakness is in you.