Friday, 17 November 2017

15,000 climate scientists can't be wrong, can they?

On November 13, a grand total of 15,000 scientists from around the world signed a “warning to humanity” letter that climate change is far worse than expected.

"Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out," the letter warns. "We must recognise, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home."

Are 15,000 scientists correct? Well, it depends on the question. A scientist can be anyone who follows a certain process to produce reliable information – the scientific method. While it’s not perfect it’s been pretty good so far at removing errors, and this seems to be a scientific conclusion.

No, not the ice!!!
But a scientist might also be someone awarded credentials by an institution, entitling him to a prestigious position. Calling that person a "scientist" is like calling him a "duke." The word "duke" was originally defined as a leader of fighting men. There are still dukes around today – and there are still warlords – but the dukes are not warlords and the warlords are not dukes.

Same goes for scientists.

The problem isn’t the people, it’s the institutions. If you compare (a) the pre-WWII Western scientific establishment with (b) the post-WWII Western scientific establishment and (c) the Soviet scientific establishment, I think it’s fairly obvious that (b) looks suspiciously more like (c) than (a).

Both are centrally planned and funded by a few agencies in an extremely small number of governments, which means it is pretty easy to create official pseudoscience. And if you're going up against the Machine, you need to be right all the time, not just most of the time.

The way I see it – give me some room here – climate change is essentially just palaeoclimatology and climate modelling. Since neither palaeoclimatology nor climate modelling have anything remotely like Popperian falsifiability, we can safely say they are "science" rather than science.

Paleoclimatology is rife with massaged and invented numbers, and even if performed honestly cannot distinguish causation from correlation. Whereas climate modelling tries to outline a chaotic system that could not be accurately modelled with ten or twenty more orders of magnitude of computer power. It also asserts that hindcasting can validate its models.

This means our political system nurtures pseudoscience and makes major financial decisions based on it. But this has been happening for a while.

The man who started ClimateAudit, Stephen McIntyre, has a background in hard-rock mineral exploration, which is one of the shadiest industries in the world. As a mining consultant, not only does he know statistics, he made his living investigating bad numbers and the fudging of data.

So one day out of pure curiosity he decided to look at the use of statistics in palaeoclimatology.
Palaeoclimatology estimates temperature trends from before scientists were running around with thermometers. It measures "temperature proxies" that naturally record temperature effects – things like tree rings, for example. As you can probably imagine, before the rise of global warming, this was a rather obscure discipline, but today you can make a lot of money in this field.

Penn State's Michael Mann takes a break from drawing hockey sticks
Mr McIntyre analysed the famous "hockey stick" curve associated with several notable paleoclimatologists, notably Michael Mann. If you have ever seen a headline saying "20XX is the warmest year in XXX years," that’s the "hockey stick." Dr Mann is a star.

But Mr McIntyre found a pattern of bad statistics that came close to simply being deceit. Dr Mann had chosen nonstandard statistical procedures which amplified a single sample, from a set of trees (bristlecone pines) well-known to respond directly to CO2 rather than temperature, into a pattern that looked like it covered the entire world. Moreover, Dr Mann's website had a directory called "CENSORED" in which the same calculation was repeated without the bristlecones, showing no hockey stick at all.

Sure, scientific misconduct happens. Just because a physicist, like Jan Hendrik Schön, pulls some stunt, doesn't mean Einstein was wrong. But Schön was rapidly drummed out of his profession. Dr Mann, however, is still employed and respected (although he’s not on the list with the 15,000 others…). And this despite two external reports, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel, and an independent report prepared by Edward Wegman, one of the US's leading statisticians, confirming all of Mr McIntyre's results.

What was the consequence of all this in the official press? Funny you should ask.

The NAS panel, which included many of Dr Mann's colleagues, came up with a nice dodge. They admitted the results were useless but claimed that since other studies – many using the same flawed methodologies – reported the same outcome, the entire idea was vindicated. You may have heard the phrase "fake, but accurate." That’s not how science works.

Back before WWII, a pool of scientists, tiny by today's standards, would have their own little pet theory to defend and progress was made when you exploded someone else's pet theory. Today, pet theories are held not by little cliques of scientists, but by giant conglomerates of funding mafias and NGOs. The explosion of theories has become all but impossible.

Well, I guess if you start the graph from there...
There is no future in climate science for a sceptic. Those who are still around are dinosaurs, full professors and professors emeritus. Any grad student or assistant professor would have to be crazy to attack these people. They’d never get a grant again. Why on earth would anyone hitch their horse to this wagon when there are rivers of enviro-cash to be had? At least in the US, the cash is green too.

I think Mr McIntyre proves that in the Western social system, it is possible to corrupt an entire field of science, or at least an entire department (such as palaeoclimatology) can exhibit systemic bias. If you want to refute this proposition, you'd have to explain why past corruptions of science, such as Lysenkoism, the late acceptance of Alfred Wegener’s continental drift theory, "German physics" and so on, have occurred.

Perhaps everything is different now. Perhaps humans have simply become good and sweet, and it really is significant that 15,000 scientists signed a piece of paper. Personally, I don't see a lot of goodness and sweetness in science. I see a lot of politics and a lot of power structures. Science and the distribution of information – what one might call "education" – plays a role in the West comparable to the influence of the military in Wilhelmine Germany.

Suppose you were evil and you wanted to destroy the world in the subtlest possible way? Would you rather be a general, a reporter at the New York Times or a professor at Harvard? Which of these three is not like the other?

Mr McIntyre's work has shown quite conclusively that, at least in the field of palaeoclimatology, the scientific method is no longer operating, at least not in the form Darwin and Newton would recognise. But Stalin might.

If climate modellers want to change my mind, they would have to build a new climate model in a clean-room process, which (a) correctly simulates Earth's climate in the past and (b) was not made to do so after a very extensive process of tuning and the introduction of unconscious bias. To be more specific, the largest source of uncertainty in climate models is their handling of water.

So what is my prediction of the weather in 2057? I have no idea, I am not a climatologist.

But if this all proves to be a con job, it will take us a long, long time to recover from this idea of "official science." I'm not sure what that phrase means. Maybe the West is moving away from truth derived from science. Who knows?

People still assign tremendous credibility to science because they think it’s a structure of knowledge maintained by a large set of independent actors, each of whom is rewarded for truth and punished for error. But it’s pretty clear post-WWII science is something different, a true novelty in Western history. It might retain traditions from the liberal age, but it looks like they are rapidly eroding.

If the government pays your salary, you are a government official. And in a democracy, the idea that any aspect of government can be above politics is laughable. I am not sure that trying to insulate science from politics is the best way to preserve or restore the scientific tradition. It might actually have the opposite effect. But science, fortunately, is not a democracy so it will survive. The question is whether it will survive in the West.

Are 15,000 scientists correct? Who knows? We have no possible way of knowing. But everyone seems perfectly happy to create a planetary government to attack global warming. I get a bad feeling about that. Central planning killed a lot more humans in the 20th century than bad weather.

I think I’ll take my chances with the bad weather.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The short con is part of the long con

The growing consensus on how to counter social disruption is to rely on Google and Facebook to act as political censor. Once these companies do it in the US, most of the rest of the world will start to rely on them to calm political discussion as well.

Last week, Facebook issued a plea for its users to send in nude photos of themselves so it can train its artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. The social network hopes to pre-empt the use of “revenge porn,” in which pictures sent in confidence are publicly released on the internet to embarrass. Store the photos, train the AI, stop the posting of questionable images. Simple, really.

Except it’s not. The easy analysis is the cyber-security angle. The Russia-based cyber-security company Kaspersky was recently dumped as a contractor by the US government after allegations Russian intelligence was using the software as a portal to steal sensitive information on computers running the anti-virus, including US government machines.

This proves the old maxim: intelligence doesn’t care about who you are, intelligence only cares about your access. In that sense, Facebook is setting up the largest pool of personal data ever created by human systems. And yet even non-technical people who know nothing about cyber-weapons think this isn’t a smart idea. Everything gets hacked eventually.

Pushing down the analysis levels, consider that Facebook right now has 2 billion monthly users – or 70% of the 2.8 billion internet users living outside China and Russia. At present growth rates, the social network could boast 3.5 billion monthly users by 2025, or half the global population outside China and Russia.

That’s large enough to create a real-time census to “see” nearly everyone on the planet, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. It can track all people using triangulation and smartphone GPS data. Advertisers will love it. But the real question is whether “government” is a verb or a noun. Because if it’s the former, then Facebook’s censorship just got a whole lot more interesting.

The next layer strikes at the quiet default assumptions everyone seems to be aware of, but no one wants to talk about. Sure, it’s natural to feel bad about women being exploited online, but if sexually valuable women have been harassed since the time of universal mud huts and no has done anything substantial to stop it, why is this happening now? Why is Facebook shouldering this “social responsibility” in 2017?

Facebook knows women make up the majority of its users. Women do most of the clicking and get most of the clicks, especially if they're posting nudes. To Facebook, a 20-year-old, single mother, working multiple jobs with access to at least one smartphone is the ideal consumer and consumable. It's not about stopping online misogyny, it's about consumerism. The only encouragement is to “unplug” on the weekends, which means the default is plugged. Do you see?

Social networks are trying to be our friends because their business models rely on people failing to notice the reality staring at them from that glowing rectangular lie: if the service is free, then you are the product. Each “plugged” individual adds to the big data banks with every login attempt. Clickity-clack. Swipity-swipe. Doing our job on the cotton-fields of the 21st century without complaint.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ends with self-actualisation. Poor people (poor in wealth, not in time) love their smartphones. So while they fall off the first two tiers, social networking, like an opioid, provides costless and illusory self-actualisation, along with the trappings of power, freedom and community. In the paraphrased words of Marshall McLuhan, "there is no sweeter praise than the gaze of a tyrant, especially if it's in HD."

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
The gimmick of social networks isn’t the bright display of gorgeous photos, poignant posts and viral videos. It’s the neat little white line of possibility at the bottom of the screen. The not-yet-loaded. Down there, anything is possible. Everything is real. Facebook is not selling a product but its own authority to control the feeling of lack. Hence the most important result: nothing changes.

Human failure starts with self-deception, telling yourself lies to feel better. Eventually, we don't know or care what is real or what isn't. So while Facebook pretends to defend its users, Mark Zuckerberg champions the idea of a universal basic income. Productivity isn’t down, he says, humans are being extremely productive – they’re just not being paid for generating his data.

People intuitively understand that what they do online is valuable and they know the next step is to be paid for it. Big data instead pays us in “protection” from revenge porn, fake news and hate speech, while offering us the sustenance of illusory self-actualisation. Is this enough to keep the slaves from revolting? We’ll see. Even well-educated people will swallow untruth without too many questions if it’s plausible and reinforces their beliefs.

Ultimately, Facebook is committing Boromir’s mistake: power should not be wielded, it must be destroyed. Mass censorship of social networking is a bad idea. Invariably, this power will fall into the hands of people with which the creators vehemently disagree. Mr Zuckerberg has chosen to forget that online privacy and anonymity are the most important dynamics of this new digital space. If those pillars are removed, the online becomes just like the real – with nothing new under the sun.

If revenge porn is the wholesale leaking of sexual secrets, then its effect on traditional sexuality – good and bad – may serve as an analogy worth pondering here. What happens to geopolitics when the default assumption of activity is the voluntary, unpaid delivery of personal information to corporate entities with full power over how, when and for what this data will be used?

It turns out all media is state-run media, especially when it’s not.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

On shootings and bombings in the West’s twilight

Which matters more: the series of shootings in the US or the dozen bombings in Sweden over the past 20 days?

It’s trick question because no one’s heard about Sweden’s bombs. Perpetrators haven’t been named in those attacks, so to the media, they didn’t happen. But the US shooters are getting saturated news coverage. What gives? If I said the first rule of media is when it mentions a person’s middle name then that person is guilty, would any of this be easier to understand?

The shootings and bombings are connected. If you haven't noticed, things are falling apart. More importantly, a growing number of people want them to fall apart. The desire to tear down the rotten (defined by what each person deems rotten) system is an epidemic. This is a strange transition period between too many young, aimless people and too few. All of these generations are unfamiliar with physical violence, and it shows.

After any violent act, most will say, “we don’t really know what’s going on in that person’s mind.” But this is a lie. It’s the same thing every time: “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.” If the bombers in Sweden turn out to be Muslim, then at least they have a reason, but what excuses do American shooters use? Carl Jung said people don’t have ideas, ideas have people. That’s worth pondering for about 20 years because the shooters didn’t think about it while the Islamists are thinking about it all the time.

Humans went to war over Nazism and Communism last century, so as narcissism emerges from its pill-box to become a full-fledged ideology, whatever happens next won’t be good. Luckily, in America, there is no “next.” A country without a fictive kinship only has the self to turn to. Without an animating myth connecting people, there is no existing. Just a bland pop monoculture of permanent “now.”

And yet the bombers in Sweden, the truck driver in New York, the backpack in Parsons Green, the throat-slicer in Marseilles, the warriors in the Levant and all the future Islamic death-bringers can see “next.” An old phrase comes to mind: How do you train a longbowman? You start with his grandfather. The problem is, it doesn’t matter if the Islamists are training longbowmen. What matters is the lack of any archery ranges in the West at all.

What’s important about animating myths is not that they are myths, but that they animate. Without purpose – without responsibility – there is no meaning. Maybe creating one’s own purpose, as advertising tells us to do, can supply what people need here. But what do you know about purpose? What can any person on their own discover about responsibility? Pepsi tells us to “Live for Now,” and who among us is strong enough to contest with billions in advertising dollars?

German philosophers generally get a bad political reputation. They go down deeper, stay down longer and come up dirtier than any other tradition. And yet Friedrich Nietzsche warned about narcissism in The Gay Science in 1882 when he wrote:
“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more.' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.’”
The point is not to encourage despair. The point is to inspire a life built by making choices to benefit the person in front of you – not yourself. But it goes further than that. Every choice should also benefit your family, the other person’s family, then the town, then the nation and finally the world itself – across time. If the demon banishes you to eternal recurrence, then it must be the best life for all who exist, not just you. Nietzsche is screaming that it truly matters what you do right now.

In the story of Narcissus and Echo, people think Narcissus was so infatuated with himself that he couldn’t love anyone else. He stared into the pool and wasted away. However, that’s not what the myth says. Narcissus never loved anyone and then he fell in love with himself. Do you see? Falling in love with himself was Narcissus’ punishment.

The cure for the bombings and shootings is not gun-control or more bollards on footpaths. The cure is to realise that other people actually matter. That you are not the hero of the movie, while everyone else is just supporting cast. The cure is to understand that people exist independently of you. The time has come to stop “being everything you can be” and to be the one thing you should be. When you stare into the pool for too long, everything else around you wastes away as well.

Your only job while on this miserable planet is to train longbowmen. Twenty-five years is coming no matter what you do. You can’t stop it. The ancients knew that responsibility is proportionate to meaning, and if those shooters were ever told that by their parents – if their parents weren’t staring into the pool themselves – perhaps all those the longbowmen being trained right now by Islamists wouldn’t be so worrying.

But it is, even if the media won’t cover it.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Facebook is crushing China’s superpower dream

Chinese President Xi Jinping closed the 19th Party Congress by committing to make China a global power. Mr Xi is the strongest leader since Chairman Mao, and some call him a dictator.

Mr Xi says the world needs “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” (capitalism in a Leninist cage). China is in a “cold economic war” with the US, he says, which is now only a rival to China. Impressions matter a lot in geopolitics, and the US hasn’t maintained credibility in the last decade.

But the US is magnitudes more powerful than China, no matter how power is defined. Sure, it isn’t in a good spot to counter Mr Xi’s ambitions, such as the One Belt, One Road infrastructure project which China hopes will better connect it with trading partners by land and sea.

China wants this project because it has excess cement and steel, and its partners need those materials. However, those partners tend to complain that although they appreciate the gesture, it’s hard to sell the benefits when so few local workers are hired and China ships in thousands of welders and excavator operators.

If he’s so worried about excess steel and cement, the obvious step would be for him to tell the factories to just stop producing them. But he knows the moment he does that, millions of Chinese will lose their jobs or income. Chinese authorities already have to cope with thousands of protests each day. Mr Xi needs the project of One Belt, One Road more than he needs to sell steel.

This is because, historically, regime change in China had less to do with external than internal forces. Its geography dictates living standards will always rise disproportionately along the coast, while the inland lags behind. Even Mao used the angry peasant class in his Long March. The only question is how long Mr Xi can avoid it happening again because it certainly will.

Mr Xi is correct on one thing. It certainly appears Washington is leaking power like it leaks secrets, but this is an illusion. Government power has always resided in the collection and utilisation of information. Knowledge = power.

It matters far less where US aircraft carrier groups are positioned, or how many Hollywood movies reach number one in China. What matters is how data is generated, what entity captures it and how it is used. This is why the map below is so important.



By 2020, an estimated 30 billion objects such as ovens, toasters and cars will be generating data. And in the second quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2 billion monthly active users, more than 1.74 billion of whom use a mobile device. Facebook is a quintessentially American inventions and it is transcending borders in the way only a faceless corporation can.

China has its own social networking sites, and its largest social network, Weibo, boasts 938 million monthly active users. Beijing uses it as a large-scale census tracker to “see” every citizen. Even without an active account, the software uses a shadow account built by the interactions they have with a person who does own an account. Facebook uses shadow accounts too – except it has one for every person on the planet (outside Russian and China).

A deeper discussion about how social networks are changing the nature of human interaction is probably worth its own column. But what’s most important here is how social networks are facilitating the rise of the US artificial intelligence industry.

AI needs data, but it also needs instructions. What better way to create robust AI than to let hundreds of billions of human hours teach the machines everything they need to know? The computer chip may well have reached diminishing returns, but AI still has a long way to go. Everyone is contributing to its development, largely for free. And the civilisation that controls the development of AI will be the first to truly deserve the classification of “global.”

Mr Xi might look like he’s leading an emerging superpower – and people will still need goods to be shipped on roads and across oceans for the foreseeable future – but China has barely left the starting blocks in the race for control over the most important economic development since the discovery of the New World. AI is not just technology, it is the core mechanism of global governance.

Left and right political distinctions are fading. The spectrum is now open or closed, no barriers or lots of barriers. The key point is that this is the way businesses talk, not governments. In China’s desperation to maintain social cohesion, it failed to connect with the world at a deep level: it is now playing a minor role in setting up the default assumptions of what it means to live in the good society.

In a market state, governments do not facilitate the wealth creation of their citizens, they maximise it. Mr Xi is distracted by the illusion that in the 21st-century central governments will be moving the pieces on the chessboard. He has to believe this because that's how he draws his power. But governments just keep the lights on. New players in business – specifically, US businesses – now sit at the geopolitical game board.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Big Shut Up is coming



Superheroines are fiction for a reason


"Dude, are you doing the Weinstein thing now? That was so October 8th...?" Yes, I realise I missed the meme train, but it's better to be correct than be part of the debate, especially when there is no debate.

Go get the rum, we're going to need it.

No, all of the rum.


I

Newspapers are running wall to wall op-eds about Harvey Weinstein's grabby-hands, 90% of which are written by females. Yup, I checked. All of the articles.

One angry keyboard basher is New Zealand journalist Nadine Higgins. She's a nice person, I suppose. We both worked a trade conference once, she was the emcee and I was covering it. All I remember is her red lace dress and tight camisole. I shouldn't have to mention that, but when she wrote about the Weinstein scandal her clothing choice became very relevant:
"His sloppy drunken descriptions of what he wanted to do to me, up against the bar where we'd been drinking with our workmates, mortified me. I told him as much, and his indignant response is seared in my memory. 
"Oh, come on, you wouldn't come to work dressed like that if you didn't want it."  
Um, what? 
I offered my senior colleague a random selection of expletives in response. They sounded brave, but I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me. Was that how everyone saw me?"
I call bullshit, Nadine. You're lying. First, "senior colleague" is just code for "white older male." Just say what you mean. Second, every attractive girl knows how she looks to men. Do you realise how much power men need to give up in order that you can refuse to engage with a man's perception of sexual relations in a bar? That guy had a point: how can you dress like that and not expect the attention? Are you just going to play dumb? I bet you have hopes and dreams about being seen as something other than a sexual object, don't you? Aren't you suspicious that the reason no man has corrected you on this is that they want to have sex with you?

Let's start from first principles: what does she wish to be true?

You notice her outfit, I notice they cropped away her wedding ring.
That's why you're normal and I write on this stupid blog
"Hey baby, nice dress" is one thing and groping another thing entirely, but sexiness isn't a homing missile, a woman can't select the targets. I don't know what Higgins (pictured) was wearing that night at the bar, and the dress was probably worn for not-him, but she knew there was going to be collateral damage.

Higgins is just a normal hot girl. She doesn't want to be seen as a sexual object but has no clue of the irony of her thinking. She wants people to have a certain thought, yet also demands they don't have a certain thought. She's trying to control other people's minds just as much as she claims men label her. As much as she wishes she could make everyone else accept the identity she's invented for herself of being a smart, capable journalist, the ugly existential truth is everyone has their own mind and they have decided she is a sex object. They may be wrong or correct, and she can certainly try and change this perception, but she cannot tell other people not to have it.

I'll accept she won't want to hear that I sat at her table because I wanted to see the shape of her neckline. I'll even accept I may be wrong to have thought like this. But I will not accept that my experience as a human and the information she was broadcasting led me to make conclusions about her that I am not allowed to have. No one has that kind of power, not even women.

She might retort that even if her sexual messaging was misplaced, I at least shouldn't conclude anything until I knew her better. But that's my point, if she knew who she was she wouldn't be playing multiple characters: eye candy and serious journalist. It may be wrong to expect a reporter to be sexy on stage, but if you say you have to be sexy as part of the job, you can't double back and say you weren't being sexy.

Hot girls are never told they are responsible not just for the words they say, but for what other people hear  not for the sexiness broadcast, but the sexiness received. Because if I were to ask if she'd like some magic to remove her hotness right now, she'll tell me to piss off. The things she wants are mutually exclusive, they cannot coexist. This is the root of her anxiety.

II

Why should I enjoy living in a world where being a man is a horrible thing, and no matter what a woman does, it's a wonderful thing?

Something bad happened to Gweneth Paltrow years ago, sure, but her aside, the real question is not how many women have ratted on Weinstein, but how many women haven't. Obviously, if some blonde from Nebraska agrees to follow him to his hotel room to "get a videotape" and Paltrow doesn't want to do this, that blonde will get all the good acting roles. Don't get angry about that. Paltrow is conveniently forgetting the Pretend Contract she already signed: we all make-believe her looks aren't part of the reason she gets acting jobs, and she pretends no one is looking at her that way.

The key is not to break that contract. Paltrow knows deep down the movie industry made big head goofy girls the standard of pretty. If she were a fat girl, she wouldn’t exist. She forgot that when a woman is chosen for certain reasons, she is also the kind of woman who wants to be picked for those reasons. That's the contract. You can't market yourself on looks and then pretend it wasn't the looks that go you here. You might wish people saw you as more, but you can't control what they see. No, yelling won't make this any less true.

Let me offer a contrary position, unpalatable but worth considering, and entirely invisible to Paltrow and Higgins: Harvey Weinstein needed to own and operate a multi-million dollar company, work for decades at a skill, earn a fortune and outmanoeuvre every other male competitor just to have the chance to have sex with a woman like Gweneth Paltrow. Do you see? He needed to lift his stature from a default level of zero just to get to the level a woman is already at by existing. And women complain that men control the sex?

In this world, a woman's sexual value is unbelievably overpriced, but it still doesn't give them any power. Put it this way: men have no ceiling on how valuable they can become in the eyes of a woman. But a woman can never be better than her vagina. What's enraging for men like Weinstein isn't that women are sluts, but that they are not sluts  that they are able to manipulate men and get what they want, without paying for it.

Weinstein shouldn't have done what he did, but his actions were only bad if you accept that a woman's sexual value is higher than zero by default. The answer isn't "teach men not to rape." The answer is to remove value from sex. All Nadine Higgins had to do was lower her vagina's sexual value to zero and her anxiety would disappear like the Madison Avenue-fuelled illusion it really is. That would be equality.

III

Higgins pretends to want to be free of male pressure, yet the pressure to look a certain way is actually much worse from women. A "patriarchal" controlling force, unacceptable if coming directly from men, is maintained by giving the whip to other women. Imagine if a boss man who isn't Weinstein said to her: "hmm, you should put on some makeup, doll yourself up a little bit." He wouldn't survive the time it took to pivot on his brown suede Hush Puppies. And yet women say this to other women all the time. Why is that less damaging? Don't show me the final calculation. Show your work.

But even if boss men don't tell Higgins to wear makeup, she does anyway. To her job. Why does she need makeup to host a trade conference? If women aren't objects then why is she painting herself? Makeup accentuates a woman's sexual attractiveness, so the only appropriate time to wear it is to look attractive to men. I'm not saying you have to look good for men, I'm saying that if not wearing makeup for men makes you feel better about yourself, you don't have a strong self. Everyone knows you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, now you're saying the cover of the book influences how the book feels about itself?

How is a father expected to raise a daughter in this reality?
Neither Paltrow nor Higgins can ever know if they succeeded in life because of their talents or because they have a vagina. That information is literally unavailable to them. Every day Higgins has to play a game in her head that men see her as an equal and not as a potential sexual partner, living in an exhausting state of permanent disavowal. No woman can ever know if it wasn't just a decision-making man who saw it as a chance for sex.

They want to both be part of the male world but retain their feminity, to exist in a state of "almost." Their complaints aren't part of a big power struggle. It's simpler than that. Women don't really like being women. They see men as unconstrained, free individuals, and themselves as constrained baby-carriers. And if they can't be free of their biology, then men can't be free either. It's the tri-force of ignorance, arrogance and resentment.

But embracing feminine sexuality can be a powerful thing when used correctly. Higgins and Paltrow should study former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher. They could learn something important. Christopher Hitchens understood when he wrote about it back in 1997:
Yet, at the party conference and in Shadow Cabinet meetings and in Parliament, she regularly reduced these chaps to mush. It was at the annual conference that, as I stood in the body of the hall, it hit me. That feline smile, the composed but definite body-language, the voice at once stern and cajoling... to say nothing of the Valkyrie helmet of blond locks. My god! She has them in her thrall! And she knows it! The minx knows it! It was for writing this that I got into the hot water of what nobody then called political correctness.
Mark the sequel: Not long afterwards, I was at a reception in the Rosebery Room of the House of Lords. She came. (I’ll try and keep this brief.) A mutual Tory friend offered to introduce us. I agreed with some alacrity. The subject of the moment was Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I held one view on this. She held another. The introduction was effected. Did I imagine it, or did she recognize the name of the scribe who had hymned her feminine allure? At once we were embroiled in an argument on the subject of racism and decolonization. I was (I only mention it) correct on my facts as well as my principles. She was lousy on both. But what a bonny fighter! She wouldn’t give an inch. I found myself conceding her a trivial point, and bowing as I did so. She smiled.
“Bow lower,” she said.
Suddenly robbed of volition, I complied. 
“No — much lower.” 
By now near to drowning in complicity and subjection, I obeyed. She withdrew from behind her back a rolled-up copy of the Parliamentary orders of the day, and she gave me a sound smack before I could —how does one put this? — straighten up. I regained the perpendicular in some blushful confusion and difficulty, to see her swing away and look over her shoulder, the words “naughty boy” floating over me in my near trance-like state, as the journo witnesses closed in to say, “What was that all about?” I told them they would never understand, and — what do you know — they never did.
And if you're thinking, "eww, gross. How could anyone find Thatcher sexual?" then you're missing the point. Your mistake is to assume men think the same as women. They don't. Stop lying to yourself. Which brings me to my next point.

IV

Put Nadine Higgins aside for a moment. The male commentary on sexual harassment always makes the same basic mistake that men think women are just female versions of them. They think women are attracted to good looks and repelled by chubby, overweight men with shower fetishes. Wrongolongadingdong.

If your first thought about the Weinstein scandal was, "how could that man get those women" then I know for a damn fact you are both a man and have never been powerful, and more importantly, will never be powerful. A man cannot be powerful and think women are his equal. And I'll risk the blowback by saying a man cannot be powerful and think of anyone as his equal. You have to say out loud - "I am better than them/him/her." Say it straight to their faces, but say it righteously. The magic won't work if you don't believe it. They will eat you alive if they smell even a molecule of insincerity.

People want to be told what to do so badly, they'll listen to anyone. All you have to do is believe the message you're screaming. If your superiority isn't true, then make it true. That's how magic works. And do you know what happens once you think you're better than women? They like it. They respond to it. Women want a leader, they don't want to lead. They want to be able to look at their powerful man and say "he's mine." And if you think I'm only talking about women, then you're more broken than you realise. I'm free next week at 2 pm for a follow-up therapy session.

Most men don't know that women face an incredible amount of pressure to be looked at. The smart ones, like Thatcher and Victoria's Secret models, capitalise on this by trading their sexual attractiveness for resources and power. Which means we're not looking at the Weinstein thing correctly. We have to appreciate how the women who didn't complain see things. The silent ones.

Maybe they're silent because they're scared. Or maybe it's because women are attracted to what a man is, not what he looks like. An ugly millionaire like Weinstein can still get girls because of the status and resources he has, but an ugly female millionaire better have enough rooms in her mansion for ten generations of cats. She's gonna need the wall space.

Women and men aren't the same, even though that's the progressive narrative. But if this were true, did anyone stop to ask what the default desires would be? Would it be the males' or the females'? Why? If you're scratching your head, then try asking it from the system's perspective: which default mode would sell more consumer goods?

V

That's why I wanted to write this. All this talk of sexism and the patriarchy and culture wars are just distractions. The system doesn't care if you're a girl or a boy, it only wants you to act in the required direction. You gave the system you hate a spectacular blowjob, and then try to punish it by making it want you more. From the system's perspective, not only did it still get blown, it liked it even more. Why were these women fighting? "Is it freedom of choice?" Here's a hint, that's never the answer. Who cares what they were fighting for? All anyone wins is more ways to be obedient consumers. Wrong battlefield, ladies.

Men have been leering at women like Nadine Higgins and "abusing their power" for millennia and no one has ever done a thing about it. And yet this event, this stupid story, covered the headlines like a cold wind. Why now? I can't be the only one who noticed the curtain swaying.

Over the weekend, I watched the 1981 movie Quest for Fire. It's a French-Canadian film about cavemen. Shut up, I thought it was cool. Plus it got me thinking.

What bothers me about Higgins lying about her reality is I can feel the Quest for Fire coming out in men. Women keep getting louder and more shrill with their nonsense. Everybody is fake mad with fake outrage because they have nothing else to do. "I'm outraged!" That's such a vaginal term. Men never say that. It's all a game. No one should be "outraged" if they aren't shaking pitchforks. Anything else is just frantic energy.

Did you answer my question about consumerism? In all their "outrage," did Paltrow and Higgins ever pause to ask why so many women are allowed into historically-male positions of power and status? I assume they still believe men are in control, right? So why don't they tell me about the Great War of the Sexes when the Female 3rd Mechanised Infantry Brigade rolled their tank forces over the crushed and defeated Male Army and took power? I think I missed that part in the history books. Oh, wait, that didn't happen. Women didn't take power, they were given it. And now they're yelling? What happens next, ladies?

Did you see the wind move the curtain? I did.

That bitter taste isn't misogyny, it's just consumerism. The system wants you to be a battery. That's why you feel anxious. I think it's great when an individual woman succeeds, but I am asking, how does that help women in general? Female prime ministers reach that level because the system wanted her to. Affirmative action. Feminism. Civil rights. Gender equity. These "political" movements are only allowed to exist because they don't threaten consumerism. More women, gays and minorities as batteries? Sure, bring it on. Don't worry, they won't ever own the capital, and the minimum wage can be lifted gradually so long as the price of goods rises in concert. Oh, you thought that was to help the worker? Yeah, Girl Power!


How long would Paltrow last?

VI

People don't like it when I say this, but I want you to ask how much more money men need from women until they say: "Shut Up!"

Who knows what the maximum wealth of consumption really is? It could have 40 zeroes, or maybe 100. But that's not the end of the spectrum I'm worried about. The dangerous side is the minimum. Once GDP slips and enough people (men) go unemployed, this whole "emancipation" thing goes the way of the dinosaur right quick. Same goes for minorities, by the way. Or did I miss the Great Coloured Revolutionary War as well? Damn history books, always leaving out the good stuff.

Women and minorities don't notice the curtain swaying. And it sways for thee.

The men they keep messing with won’t take the whining forever. Women can yell and scream only because of the restraint of men. And they’re not giving us any credit for abiding by our social contract to choose not to slap them upside the head. Women have to understand that for them to be in positions of authority is not a guaranteed thing. It’s not natural. A few thousand years ago it was Quest for Fire everywhere. Men today are restraining themselves because consumerism rules the world. No one owns any of this, we're all just renting.

If women continue to put us in this little pokey spot with their harpy cackles of "misogyny," "sexism" and "patriarchy," one day men are going to stand up and say, get out of my face. Shut Up.

VII

I saw two tiny, 5'3 female cops walking down a street today. Tiny, tiny lady cops. And I thought: no one should be a cop if they can’t arrest me when they aren't wearing a uniform. Even some male cops are tiny, little baby cops. These people are police because I let them be police. I think all cops should be big enough to stop the largest dude in the city if he decides to get high on meth and start a rampage.

The only reason girl-cops can arrest me is if I let them. In any world of nature, there should only be giant cops. A small blonde lady telling me what I can’t do is just ridiculous. Sweetcheeks, you have five seconds to call two bigger actual cops, or I'm going to chew you like bubblegum. “Ten-four, there’s a guy treating me like a girl!”

At least that would force her to think about WHY calling the precinct solved her problem. In a world that reflects the nature of reality, the social contract and my respect for the law are the only reasons she gets to jab me in the ribs with her stupid stick. It used to be Quest for Fire. I can’t fight a cop. This has nothing to do with hitting females. The social contract stops me from hitting anyone who wears a blue uniform. If the lady cop thinks she has power, it’s only because of the uniform.

I really want you to meditate on what happens when GDP drops for too many quarters. I want you to comprehend what happens when enough men decide the social contract no longer makes sense for men. Because when that happens, there isn't a girl cop in the world who could walk safely by herself. Her authority is based on men allowing the handcuffs to be placed on him. This stuff you call society is really thin. And people like Nadine Higgins and Gweneth Paltrow with their nonsense want to scratch away at this veneer? I hope they know how to catch small mammals for dinner.

When women get a little power, they lose their minds and forget it can all go in the other direction. They are being allowed to invade male spaces because consumerism wants them there. Minorities and women will always feel anxious about living with white men for this reason. They have been given something that can be taken away. The freedom they have is entirely conjectural. It doesn't exist. It's a made-up theory. Deep down, they know this to be true.

The Big Shut Up is coming. You can smell it.