I've noted before that I think the whole Russiagate thing is basically nonsense. Now it seems like Robert Mueller and his team are continually trying to prove me correct.
"The FBI mysteriously “failed to preserve” five months of text messages between a senior FBI agent who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation and his mistress, an FBI lawyer."
Yeah, that's totally normal.
"Strzok, as a senior FBI official, worked on both the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations. He became the top investigator on the Trump-Russia case in July 2016 just weeks wrapping up his work as one of the top investigators in the Clinton probe.
"He was removed from Mueller’s investigation last summer after the DOJ inspector general learned of anti-Trump text messages he had exchanged with Page, whom he was having an extramarital affair with.
"Page was also a part of Mueller’s team, but left before the text messages were discovered."
Nothing to see here folks. Move along.
And somehow, it gets even worse than that. From Fox News,
"The Justice Department has given various congressional committees nearly 400 pages of additional text messages between two FBI officials who were removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
"One of the newly discovered messages, lawmakers said, appeared to indicate that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page knew that charges would not be filed against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a result of the investigation into her email server -- before Clinton was interviewed by the bureau."
Absolutely Bush league (or perhaps criminal). I kind of believe government is always incompetent, but this kind of gross negligence even shocks a cynic like me.
So the Luddites were a 19th century group of English factory workers who destroyed weaving machines because "they took our jobs." Ever since, those who fear technology will increase unemployment and lower wages have been referred to as such. So far, their batting average is a respectable 0.000.
But things never happen until they do. After all, if we ever became so advanced that we created artificially intelligent cyborgs, it's hard to imagine we would have any jobs left, right? It might not matter, as we would be incredibly wealthy. But we would have to rethink economics, find something for people to do and prevent a sort of "techno-feudalism" from arising.
And everyday, I feel more and more that that is the future we are heading towards.
"Attention Seattle shoppers: Amazon is about to open its long-promised convenience store with zero checkout lines.
"Customers must scan the Amazon Go app upon entering the store. Sensors will then track their movements and charge shoppers' Amazon accounts for the items they grab. Customers just walk out of the store. No cashiers needed.
"Amazon Go's offerings include groceries, ready-to-eat meals, cold drinks and meal prep kits.
No employees will be necessary..."
For a more in depth look at this problem, check out the book Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. It's disconcerting, although, given the amount of abundance such technology could bring, encouraging too, if we handle it correctly.
I just finished reading Drive by Daniel Pink and I must say that it is one of the best business and psychology books I've ever read!
The book discusses what Pink refers to as the "failure of Motivation 2.0." Basically, Motivation 1.0 is to find food, water, shelter, not get eaten by mountain lions, etc. Motivation 2.0 came to be around the time the firm was established. It was a simple matter of carrots and sticks. If you do good things, you get rewards, if you do bad things, you get punishments.
Turns out that this is not a very good way to do things. Indeed, Pink notes an analysis of 51 studies on performance based bonus incentives showed they actually hurt performance.
Pink offers seven reasons these carrot and stick rewards usually fail. The two that stuck out to me the most were:
1) They encourage cheating.
2) They can turn fun or interesting things into what feels like work.
He recommends trying to motivate people by inspiring their "intrinsic interest." This could be by challenging them, offering opportunities to learn and grow, to move up, etc. It's a lot trickier than the old carrot and stick model, but the research shows it is also a lot more effective.
So I have published my first article on ThinkRealty.com (and have an article set to be published in the print edition as well, I believe in March). The article discusses the pros and cons of managing yourself or hiring a property manager. The pros for hiring a manager:
- Save Time
- They Know More About Management (usually)
- Structure Already in Place
- Outsource Headaches
- Easier to say "No" (to tenants that is)
And for managing yourself:
- Save Money
- Gain Experience
- More Control
- Avoid Being Ripped Off (by unseemly managers, of which, unfortunately, there are a few)
- You Care the Most
As I conclude, "No matter what you decide to do, it’s important to put pen to pad and come up with the positives and negatives for each approach." Namely, you should know what you are getting into.
Check it out.
So they're finally going to audit the Pentagon, finally. The Pentagon had been the only federal department exempt from an audit and the reasons are becoming obvious,
"Earlier this year, a Michigan State University economist, working with graduate students and a former government official, found $21 trillion in unauthorized spending in the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015."
The work was done by Mark Skidmore who got interested because of, well, I'll quote the article again,
"Skidmore got involved last spring when he heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, refer to a report which indicated the Army had $6.5 trillion in unsupported adjustments, or spending, in fiscal 2015. Given the Army’s $122 billion budget, that meant unsupported adjustments were 54 times spending authorized by Congress. Typically, such adjustments in public budgets are only a small fraction of authorized spending."
It reminds me of back in 2001 when Donald Rumsfeld admitted the Pentagon "cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
Memo to hawkish fiscal conservatives: The military is just as bloated and inefficient as any other government agency.
In my latest article for BiggerPockets, I go in depth on the numbers side of the business, discussing how and why various calculations are important, including the following:
- Cap Rate
- Cash on Cash Return
- Rent to Cost/Gross Yield
- Gross Rent Multiplier
- Return on Investment (and Annual Return on Investment)
- Internal Rate of Return
In hindsight, I probably should have thrown Debt Coverage Ratio in there (Net Operating Income/Debt Service, determines how much breathing room you have with a loan, banks are really keen on this and usually want 1.2 or above.)
I spend a lot of time going into IRR (Internal Rate of Return), which is the most complicated of the above calculations, but also tells you the most complete story about how much you are actually earning. For an in depth discussion on the subject, check the article out!
A Shortened version of this article appeared at the DailyCaller.com
Whether or not you accept the validity of the concept of “toxic masculinity” or its previous incantation “testosterone poisoning,” it obviously refers to something real. Men, after all, are arrested for about 75 percent of all crimes and 90 percent of violent crimes. The vast majority of murders and rapists are male. And as many a feminist has pointed out, with only rare exceptions such as San Bernardino, mass shooters are male too.
Between the bookends of the horrific mass shootings by Stephen Paddock and Devin Kelley Harris, we’ve had a flurry of sexual harassment, assault and rape accusations leveled against high profile men in Hollywood, the media and government such as Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey and many others.
It would seem that “toxic masculinity” is out in force.
Yet one would think that the concept of “toxic masculinity” should be opposed to something on the other side. Namely, something good. In fact, I would argue that in so far as the concept is useful at all, it should be seen as a negation. A negation of “positive masculinity,” or some other term like that which would signify the positive characteristics that good men hold and that we should teach boys and men to aspire to.
So I will ask my humble reader, what is that term?
Is it “positive masculinity” or “healthy masculinity” or just “good masculinity?” What is it?
While you can find these terms used from time to time, as well as awkward, academic nonsense-phrases such as “a positive reconstruction of what masculine identity should pertain to espouse,” there appears to be no agreed upon term for this simple concept.
A Google trends search seems to make this point rather succinctly:
Jezebel is one of the most popular feminist websites online, so I decided to search for these various phrases. Here are the results as of this writing:
I tried this with a few other feminist websites and the results were fairly similar. I should note that the second entry under “healthy masculinity” was a duplicate.
The only article that came up under “positive masculinity” was an article titled “Monday Morning Misandry” which was just one paragraph, half of which read “There's a lovely piece on Medium about misandry and why everyone, especially men, should be on board with it.” As we follow that link, we find an article titled “Men, Get on Board with Misandry” by Jess Zimmerman. The subtitle reads that the “Believe it or not, the man-hating movement loves you and needs your help. Here’s why.”
In this confused mess of an article that takes 373 words to arrive at the sentence that finally explains why men should love hating men, Zimmerman describes how it’s not men who are evil, but the “concept of masculinity” that needs to be “taken out and shot.” As she tells us men who may not hate men yet,
“Once you see through that horrible joke that patriarchy is playing on you, individual men start hating men-as-a-group in the same way that feminists hate them—not a way that encourages automatic hostility towards members of the group, but a way where you want to see the group disbanded and its charter destroyed and cast to the winds and forgotten.”
By the way, the term “positive masculinity” does not appear in Zimmerman’s article, it shows up in a comment in the article on Jezebel that linked to Zimmerman’s piece. A comment, I should note, that is rather prescient,
“I think part of the problem is that lots of people stop at ‘kill masculinity’ and don't talk about replacing it with something. One of the reasons a lot of guys [get] upset with the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is that it's so rarely contrasted with positive masculinity. So you have men being told all their lives what they have to do, then they see feminists say ‘don't do that’ and leave it at that.”
She is not specific regarding what men “being told all their lives what they have to do” involves, but presumably it includes raping, murdering, sexually assaulting and all sorts of other terrible behavior every serious ideology opposes and our society clearly proscribes. That being said, the problem ModestMoussourgsky highlights is the critical failing of the concept of “toxic masculinity.” It’s also a hard problem for feminists to solve outside of fluff answers such as being good, decent, respecting women and the like.
Other than the relatively small group of radical feminists who see men as some sort of subhuman, genetic mistake, most feminists see men as otherwise decent people who have been infected by the dreaded patriarchy. In other words, feminists see men and women as effectively the same (when not talking about how there are actually 57 different genders, of course), it’s just that evil patriarchy thing that causes men to be so terrible and oppress women so much.
So, for example, this year Hollywood provided us with The Battle of the Sexes which depicts how in 1973, the 30-year old Billy Jean King proved women are just as good at sports by beating the 55-year old Bobby Riggs in tennis. You’ll find countless articles on the myth of the male and female brain, like this one. (Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.) James Damore was pretty much fired from Google for merely suggesting such differences in an internal memo just as Larry Summers was forced to resign from Harvard some years ago for a similar “infraction.” And of course, you’ll also see plenty of action movies with 115-pound petite women beating the daylights out of some muscular, 250-pound man.
Everything must not just be equal, but the same. We must have the same number of male and female politicians, scientists and CEO’s (but not inmates, of course). Norway even introduced a quota that 40 percent of company directors must be female.
Therefore, if feminists generally believe men and women are effectively the same biologically and that men are infected with “toxic masculinity,” then the answer to the question I opened this article with is self-evident: There is no such thing as “positive masculinity.”
It would appear that androgyny is the goal. Indeed, one feminist professor laid this out neatly, noting that “the problem is not toxic masculinity; it’s that masculinity is toxic.”
This, unfortunately, does not seem to be a particularly unusual sentiment.
However, in between the Paddock shooting and the Weinstein scandal, an annual award ceremony was held that usually garners some attention. The Nobel Prizes were announced. Nine prizes in science were awarded. Nine men won.
As of 2015, men had won 825 of the 871 Nobel Prizes since 1901, or 94.7 percent. In physics, the ratio is 199 to 2. Yes, there have obviously been institutional barriers for women in the past, but all such barriers have been removed. While discrimination may still play a roll, even in the 2010’s, only 11.1 percent of the awards went to women; mostly the Literature and Peace Prize.
But what does that mean? Well, as one might expect, feminists berated the Nobel Prizes as being “sexist.” This highlights the above problem. While it is not a contradiction per se, it does seem that the prism through which feminists view the world mandates that men are somehow bad no matter what. If men do something bad, they have “toxic masculinity.” If they do something good, that simply proves that men are discriminating against women as there’s no way men could do something better than women without oppressing them.
I would not be surprised if there is still some sexism in science. Although the Cornell study showing that in STEM fields, women’s resumes were preferred over identical male ones by a ratio of two to one, makes me think any discrimination is unlikely to be endemic.
Women also tend to value status and wealth in a mate more than men (who are even more superficial in this regard), giving men a greater incentive to strive for achievement. And the simple fact that women are more likely to drop out of the workforce when they have a child than men would make it very difficult for women to reach the upper echelons of achievement with any frequency.
But these discrepancies may also have something do with the widely found phenomenon that while men and women have a similar IQ, men have a higher variance. This puts more men at the top (where Nobel Prize winners are found) and bottom. These differences—which feminists often deny—also would explain, at least in part, why men cause more societal problems. But then again, even that isn’t as simple as one might expect.
For example, The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project has analyzed over 1700 studies and found that domestic violence is committed by men and women in roughly similar proportions. Regarding sexual harassment, an AAUW study in 2006 found that 62 percent of women in college and 61 percent of men had “experienced sexual harassment.” While “both male and female students are more likely to be harassed by a man than by a woman,” the difference aren’t as large as many would think. According to the study, “Half of male students and almost one-third of female students admit that they sexually harassed someone in college.”
And further, as The Atlantic reported, “sexual victimization by women is more common than gender stereotypes would suggest.” Indeed, the oft-quoted “1 in 5 women are raped in college” statistic comes from a CDC study which has a weird category under “Other sexual violence” called “Made to penetrate.” One would think that forcing someone to have sex is rape, but who am I to say? Anyways, here’s how men and women answered for 2011:
The vast majority of the men who were “made to penetrate” were by women.
I must admit that I’m not really sure what to make of all this. Some of it doesn’t shock me, such as domestic abuse perpetration. But with regards to sexual assault, it sounds rather unbelievable to me. Although, as many have noted, the questions that have routinely been asked for such surveys are so mushily worded as to be all but useless. The counts for both genders are too high and the overcounting for men is probably much more significant.
It does, however, show that without any doubt, men are not the only ones capable of being “toxic.” But it is even more complicated than that because again—unlike what feminists would have you believe—, men and women are not the same. The most obvious difference is size and strength. The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project notes that the results of physical abuse “were generally greater for female victims compared to male victims” despite similar rates of perpetration. That should surprise no one.
I myself was once rather egregiously groped by what we’ll call a body-positive woman (kissing me on the lips, grabbing my crotch, trying to put my hand down her shirt, etc.). All of this happened over several hours after I had been caught in the unfortunate position of “wingman” for a callous friend of mine. And while I’ve recounted this story several times, it hasn’t been to say #MeToo, it’s been as a joke. As disgusting as the actual experience was, one cold shower was all that was necessary to get over it. Since then I have never failed to get a round of laughs while recounting this affair and just how badly I wanted to wring my friend’s neck.
I don’t want to dismiss men who have been deeply affected by such experiences. I certainly think this problem receives too little attention and assuming it doesn’t bother men probably keeps a good number of men quiet. At the same time, I also don’t think we should get carried away as some Men’s Rights Activists have and assume these studies prove the problem is “gender neutral.”
I think my experience highlights a crucial difference between the genders. During that body-positive groping, at no time was I ever concerned for my safety. I knew both consciously and subconsciously that she could do no more to me than what I was willing to put up with. In the end, the experience was just gross, not traumatizing. A woman in a similar situation has no such luxury.
But if feminists were to look at these surveys honestly while maintaining that men and women are basically identical, wouldn’t they have to conclude that there is an epidemic of female-on-male violence that is only suppressed because society doesn’t allow men “to talk about their feelings?” Indeed, that perception surely hides some of the more egregious cases of female-on-male domestic abuse. But given the rates of injury, I suspect the main issue is simply that the same stimuli has a different effect on men and women, at least in general.
Maybe it isn’t fair, but I do think it should be considered worse for a man to hit a woman than vice versa. Of course, it should still be considered bad for a woman to hit a man, but not to the same degree in most cases. But if we’re going to hold different standards, we should acknowledge that men and women are different. That masculinity and femininity are valid concepts and that both can be positive and negative. Some individuals won’t fit neatly, but that’s always true for broad categories.
Turning back to the Paddock shooting in Las Vegas, several stories came out of men who covered their wives. Jack Beaton was killed while shielding his wife Laurie. Another man covered some young concert goers saying “I’m 53, they’re in their 20s. I lived a decent life so far, I’d rather them live longer than me.”
Women have certainly done similar things, such as Joann Ward who died shielding her four children during Harris’ rampage. But it’s usually regarding children. I’ve never heard of a woman jumping over her husband.
These stories reminded me of the Aurora shooting in 2012 when Slate ran an article by Hanna Rosin about three men who covered their girlfriends to spare their lives while losing their own. Rosin, an avowed feminist, asks “what does that mean?” She concludes that “…one thing I find consistently is the enduring need for men to think of themselves and women to think of them as the protectors.”
Rosin doesn’t seem to like this state of affairs, and I think it’s simplistic to boil it down to that. But somewhere in here lies a good starting place to finding what “toxic masculinity” is negating. Namely, positive masculinity; a trait many men have and that we should uphold as something to aspire to. It shouldn’t be surprising that we find the worst forms of so-called “toxic masculinity” in places where there are few if any good male role models, such as fatherless homes in poor and crime-infested areas.
Of course, some men will be more feminine and that’s fine. But on average, men and women aren’t the same and men should be lauded for meeting a certain ideal and condemned when failing to do so. “Toxic masculinity” only takes into account one side. Men should not just be diagnosed as “toxic” because they aren’t androgynous. Self-sacrifice is an extreme manifestation, but that longingness to strive, create, build and innovate while tempered by courage, wisdom and kindness would make for a solid description of such masculinity. Of course, this isn’t all or nothing. Women can have those traits too. But that description would certainly make for a positive conception of masculinity that we should uphold as an ideal for boys and men to aspire to.
See more at DailyCaller.com
So Twitter has decided to crack down on "neo-Nazis and extremists" with a set of new policies that go into place on December 22nd. In part,
"You also may not affiliate with organisations that - whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform - use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes."
Makes you wonder, as freelance journalist Tim Pool did, whether that means anyone affiliated with Antifa will be banned. It continues,
"You also may not use your username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behaviour, such as targeted harassment or expressing hate towards a person, group, or protected category."
The policy also bans "hateful images of symbols." I suspect this will include not just the swastika, but also Pepe the frog.
While "abusive behavior" and "targeted harassment" merit action, what exactly does "expressing hate" toward a "group, or protected category" mean? Does saying "men commit more crime than women" count as hate? Or are men not a "protected category." Does saying "blacks commit more crime than whites" count as hate? I would suspect so, even if one offers a detailed explanation as to why, say the War on Drugs and collapse of the black family.
It also leads me to ask a question I have in many other places (here, here, here and here); why do communists get a free pass? Presumably, Antifa would be banned for advocating violence (although I would be shocked if that happens). But what about just run-of-the-mill commmies?
If advocating for a hateful ideology such as fascism of Nazism gets you banned. Then so should advocating for communism. You may think it sounds nice but just doesn't work. But if you've ever met a communist, you'll realize that most of them are filled with hate; hate for capitalists, America, the West, whites, men, Christianity, in some instances Jews and, of course, their own miserable existence, etc.
While Nazism is repugnant, a free society tolerates the expression of repugnant views. Good ideas can and must beat bad ones. To say otherwise means you believe that censorship and authoritarianism are required. And those are two terrible ideas. Thus, in the battle ideas, you've already lost.
This is why communists should be allowed to preach their filth. But so should fascists. And if you're going to flush the brown, flush the red while you're at it.
Or I should say, at least in part.
The media is telling us that the horrific shooting in Texas that took 26 lives had "no racial or religious motive." CNN tells us he had a "row with his mother-in-law." Well there you go, he obviously had no religious motive whatsoever!
Except, as CNN also tells us, "But Kelley's mother-in-law was not inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs when Kelley sprayed the congregation with gunfire."
If he had a "row with his mother-in-law," why not just shoot her? Why shoot up a church full of innocent people?
Well, it obviously has something to do with the fact that he was a disturbed individual with a history of domestic abuse who had been in a mental institution and dishonorably discharged from the military. But being unstable is basically a prerequisite for mass shooters.
Kelley hated Christians. He made no effort to hide this. His Facebook page had multiple atheist accounts listed who was described by his peers as a "militant atheist." One person noted “He was always talking about how people who believe in God we’re stupid and trying to preach his atheism.” Indeed, it wasn't just his mother-in-law that he had a row with, he "spent the months before his attack 'starting drama' with strangers on Facebook."
If some guy had been talking about how much he despised Islam and how stupid Muslims were for months on and end and then shot up a Mosque, would anyone say he didn't do it for religious reasons because he had a "row with his mother-in-law."
Perhaps that "row" was the trigger to set him off. Perhaps he hated all religion and it just happened to be a church that was nearby. Perhaps. But it is beyond obvious that his victims were targeted, at least in large part, because they were Christians.
My latest post on BiggerPockets discusses the similarity between how to quit smoking and how to improve your life and business.
The key: Enjoy the path.
I describe how I quit smoking with Allen Carr's great book The Easy Way To Stop Smoking. For any smokers out there, I highly recommend the book. Carr basically flips the "quit smoking" script by focusing not on the downsides but on the fact that all the "upsides" are illusions. For example, the excuse of "I smoke because I'm bored" doesn't make sense because, well, smoking is boring!
Basically, Carr teaches you to "enjoy the path" to quitting smoking and it works remarkably well.
The same goes for almost everything else in life. Goals are great, but if they are your obsession, you will always live in a "pre-success failure." I go into much more detail in the article. Check it out!
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
Star Slate Codex
Consulting by RPM