Weekly Digest: Promoting Polyamory
On losing a son, why American can't have nice things, and more in this week's roundup
Welcome to my weekly digest for January 19, 2024, with the best articles from around the web and a roundup of my recent writings and appearances.
Don’t forget, my new book Life in the Negative World: Confronting Challenges in an Anti-Christian Culture, is out in 11 days. If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, please do so today because pre-orders are critical to the impact and success of the book.
If you do pre-order, you get some nice bonus content, including an exclusive three worlds graphic and a free e-book copy of my modern English translation of Mortification of Sin. You can claim your bonuses at my publisher’s web site.
So please take advantage of this and pre-order today.
I also want to let you know that the Dallas Express, a conservative news site in Dallas, is hiring for some key positions, including CEO, Chief Revenue Officer, Lead Investigative Reporter, and Vice President of News. I hear the salaries on some of these are so good I’m tempted to apply myself.
Some of these positions are potentially remote.
Losing a Son
Lars Doucet wrote a deeply moving blog post in December about losing his son to a catastrophic brain injury during a surgery.
My son is alive, severely brain damaged, bedridden, and unable to care for himself. We took him off of all medical supports and moved him into home hospice care. This means that we stopped the artificial ventilator and IV's, as well as all medicines and treatments other than those aimed at comfort and pain relief, and moved him into a hospital bed we have installed at home.
The doctors initially thought he would quickly die after being taken off the ventilator, but he has persisted for about a month now. He receives food and water through a feeding tube, medicine for pain relief and comfort, and daily care from my wife and I as well as from hospice nurses who visit during the week.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. In a fallen world, these sorts of terrible things that should not be nevertheless happen. It’s the human condition. We tend to avert our eyes and try not to think about these things. But they happen nevertheless. Again, a moving essay.
The Media’s Polyamory Marketing Machine Fires Back Up
I’ve noted for years that the media has been promoting polyamory.
There’s been another wave of polyamory material hitting lately. One is a new New York magazine cover feature on it.
Apparently they want us to unleash our animal instincts.
Then there was this piece in the New York Times.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that dating apps have been flooded with people seeking open relationships. But never fear, you can pay for a premium feature on Bumble for the ability to filter them out.
A recent Financial Times piece seems to suggest part of why this is bubbling up again now. The dating apps appear to be financially moribund and need to drum up more business. Polyamory provides more paying customers - and demand for the premium tier plans that they are pushing on their customers.
This is all just another example of my dictum that in the mainstream media you can rep any lifestyle but normal.
Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Chris Arnade wrote an interesting piece about why American cities are squalid. He hits on something that has been a recurring theme in my writing, the fact that the US has become a much lower trust society.
Ever since I began my project to walk around the world, it has always been jarring to come home to the US, often from much poorer countries — in this case Bulgaria — to find that our infrastructure is infinitely worse.
The train, to be fair, was on time. But it was filthy. The carriages were mostly empty, except for three or four homeless guys in each who were either sleeping or passed-out. The dozen or so of us who got on at the first stop chose our seats carefully, positioning ourselves close to each other, for safety, and as far as possible from the sprawled-out guys and their piles of trash and puddles of urine.
But having garbage-strewn subways that effectively serve as mobile homeless shelters is no way to run a public transit system. It isn’t fair on the riders who don’t have the money to avoid the subway. It also isn’t fair to the homeless, who are being encouraged — or at least not discouraged — to hang out on crowded trains, maximising the chances that bad stuff will happen.
Regulations themselves aren’t the problem, though. Germany, like much of northern Europe, is a high-regulation society, but it’s also high-trust, compared to the US. Here, nice and fully functional things are built without fear of misuse. For Americans, who have both a high-regulation and low-trust society, this is all rather depressing; it’s the combination that means we can’t have nice things.
It’s not that I’m worried about Americans moving overseas. That’s a luxury most don’t have — or want. I’m worried that authorities don’t feel compelled to provide citizens with towns and cities that work, and feel safe, and offer slivers of shade and corners that don’t smell of piss. But I’m also worried about the cultural forces that have got us here: that they allow the tolerably well-off to ignore the plight of those who are forced to depend on public services. The regulatory mindset is a problem that can be easily changed; the more pernicious part is that we are now firmly a low-trust society, and social trust impacts everything — every facet of life — and it can’t simply be legislated back. Like a ratchet wheel, once social trust comes undone, it spins quickly out of control, and getting it wound back is a long, arduous, and complex process.
Tyler Cowen recently interviewed Patrick McKenzie, who lived in Japan for about twenty years before coming back to Chicago. McKenzie observed:
As those of you who have been present in the United States for the last 20 years know, the United States is a different country in 2023 than it was when I left in 2004. Even though I’m someone who followed much of the news about this on the internet, a lot of it is hitting me quite hard in the face all at once. There are some things that creep up over time that are not that noticed, but really obvious if you only experience living in America once every 20-year increments.
There are a lot of little things that Japan does right. I call it the will to have nice things. In the United States, many places lack the will to have nice things and suffer the consequences of that. These are just a million little paper-cut annoyances, like the delivery company deciding to deliver my bed to the middle of the front yard because they couldn’t get into the house. We are a rich and powerful nation that puts up with such obviously suboptimal things like that. I’m hitting a lot of them all at once, and it is causing a degree of culture shock — reverse culture shock, rather.
Best of the Web
Someone posted a link to this research paper talking about dating and race on dating apps. The authors note, “Race turns out to be the decisive predictor ofwhom people choose as romantic partners.”
White males are statistically the most desired by all reported racial groups (Whites,Latinos, Blacks, and Asians). Contradicting the “homophily” theory of within-race preference, non-White females tend to prefer White men as prospective dates over their own racial group.
White women are not as universally sought as White men. Here the results confirm homophily, as all non-White groups prefer dating women of their own racial group over White women.
Black daters tend to be excluded the most by all non-Black groups; they are rated as less attractive and are generally the least likely to receive messages or responses from other racial groups. They face, hence, “the unique disadvantage,” akin to what the authors call “romantic apartheid.”
White women exclude Asian men more than White men exclude Asian women. White men exclude Black women more than White women exclude Black men.
Latino men prefer Latina women the most, followed by White and Asian women about evenly; Latina women prefer White men the most, followed by Latino and Asian men about evenly. Both tend more often to ignore Blacks.
The Atlantic: The Most Mysterious Cells in Our Bodies Don’t Belong to Us - An interesting article on the freaky phenomenon of microchimerism. While we are in utereo, some of our cells get absorbed by our mother’s body and stay their the rest of their lives. Likewise, we call carry around cells from our mother, and maybe even our grandmother, with us. But if you think that’s wild, look up telegony, in which sperm from a previous partner affects your child with a subsequent one. This is one reason some manosphere writers but such a high premium on virginity.
Daily Mail: So why HAVE so many youngsters ditched all respect for their elders? - The Boomers, having failed to respect their own parents - theirs was the original “generation gap” - now find themselves disrespected in turn.
Noted Danish technologist Davie Heinmeier Hanson wrote up an interesting piece on the reality of the Danish fairytale. Interesting elements of Danish life include strictly meritocratic admission to college majors, public consensus on immigration restrictionism, a tough line on drugs and panhandling, a state church, and hostility to stay at home moms.
Mere Orthodoxy: Reflections on the Evangelical Fracturing, Ten Years In - One thing I’d agree with in the piece is that the Gen X evangelical leaders have really not stepped up or executed well in many cases.
Andrew Beck: The Case for Christian Civilizationism
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New Content and Media Mentions
I was a guest on the True Man Podcast this week.
New this week:
The Hidden Downsides of City-County Mergers - My latest policy column in Governing magazine
If you missed it, Newsletter #84 was about why you need to have a positive vision, not build an identity around opposing things.
Here's What Conservative Institutional Capture Looks Like - People on the right capture and restructure institutions from the top down, not the bottom up.