Posts Categorized / Real Life!

  • Jun 24 / 2016
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Real Life!

Juliet drinks the #Brexit potion, but here’s how this story ends well:

Well, the pollsters, the markets, and the bookies got it wrong. There was so much consensus yesterday that I was starting to believe it. I told my British friends that I hoped they were right, but that I thought perhaps a Brexit would be the best thing in the long run for both the UK and the EU. I’ll explain why this must now be true.

Britain voted to leave because the greener grass of a Brexit was more appealing than a continuation of the itchy status quo, unimproved by Cameron’s failed renegotiation and undersold by the Remain camp. Cameron and his Stayer colleagues will now be replaced by Boris and/or his friends, who will lead the process of making their plans a reality.

In the two years that this takes, the British people will witness the future consequences of sundering their links with the EU. Sterling will continue to slump (10% off its highs as I write this). US companies will plan to move their EU headquarters to Dublin and Berlin, the foreign banks to Dublin and Frankfurt. The National Health System will creak as its source of cheap labour dries up. British industry and the City will have to figure out how to cope, as Britain begins dozens of bilateral trade negotiations. We Irish will, as we must, plan to reinstate our border with the North. Scotland will vote on Independence again, this time to leave a sinking ship. A series of other EU members will urge their leaders to follow.

Juliet seems dead, but she will only sleep.

Ironically, the saviour of Britain will be the victorious faction of the Tories led by Boris Johnson, riding his chariot in full view of his people, straight towards the abyss. The defeated Remain faction will now have every detail of their “Project Fear” play out in anticipated reality, only far, far worse, because nobody would have believed what will actually happen now.

Once the consequences of Brexit become clear, there will be a rebellion in Johnson’s party, and he will fall within the year. The next British government will be elected on a promise to administer the antidote:

The first step will be to immediately stall the process of disengagement. Then, the new UK government will negotiate with the EU from a position of strength, forcing true reform of its institutions and a return to democracy. In 2018, instead of finalising the divorce, Britain will vote again, overwhelmingly endorsing the abandonment of Brexit.

The Euroskeptic faction in the Tory party will be extinguished, after 30 years of dissent and one year of rule. The public debate on Europe will be settled once and for all. The European Union will be drastically reformed, and will become a true democracy.


  • Mar 29 / 2016
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Real Life!

LambdaConf 2016: Bending over backwards to shoot yourself in the face

I’ve obviously been under a stone for the last few days, but perhaps it helps to be able to catch up in one go on the recent Twitterstorm around LambdaConf’s decision to keep Curtis Yarvin on their schedule of speakers. If you don’t know who that is, you can read his own reaction to the controversy here on Medium. Among the speakers who chose to withdraw, @amar47shah’s post is representative. All their sponsors, bar one, have pulled out. Eric Normand chose to begin this week’s Clojure Gazette talking about this, and I’d also recommend @alissapajer‘s considered post.

And then there’s this:

So, what remains to be said? Well, everything I can find about this is reaction to the decision, and reaction to the reactions. Alissa Pajer’s post comes closest to explaining some thinking about this. Let’s do some more.

Firstly, I believe LambdaConf made several grievous mistakes here. Honest, well-meaning mistakes, but mistakes which fatally expose the inherent weakness of modern Western middle-class liberal society when confronted with a dilemma such as this.

The first mistake was to panic and vacillate when they found out that their blind selection process had approved Yarvin. That process was, quite rightly, just about the topic he will talk about, and was designed specifically to ignore his identity.  Their decision might well have been a little easier if Yarvin had included in his proposal his intention to appear, as usual for him, dressed as an officer of the SS-Totenkopfverbände. He didn’t, of course, because “Yarvin will be speaking and attending. Moldbug is neither speaking nor attending. Yarvin is not interested in anything except system software and will ignore you, like a total aspie, if you bring up any other subject.” And anyway, “I’m just a writer, and my values are mostly the same as yours. I oppose what you oppose. I just oppose it with different ideas.” So, that’s that.

This mistake has been made before. It comes, understandably, from ascribing to others the values and morals you have or would like to think you have. People like this chap are practically designed to exploit this normally socially useful cognitive bias. I believe it’s actually in the gene pool because it makes us more effective in the large: a large proportion of leaders in industry and politics are sociopaths or psychopaths by classic definition, they’re there because their relatively less retarded by moral doubt.

The second, compounding blunder was to pass the buck by “consulting” those most likely to be affected by their decision, the speakers who come from various minorities. This is actually a whole series of mistakes, as Amar Shah detailed. If you were asked, individually and confidentially, to answer these questions, what would you say? You’d no doubt have to mention your “respect for others’ opinions” and your belief in freedom of speech. Not knowing better, you’d likely share LambdaConf’s face-value reading of Yarvin’s assertion that his alter ego would not turn up to hijack the conference with his odious cryptobigoted “analysis”. Being (due to LambdaConf’s choice of who to consult), by definition a member of a minority group, you will, most importantly, have developed by now an aversion to drawing attention to yourself, so you’d be brave indeed to reply with a strident demand that he should be dropped or you’d withdraw. This is your big gig, no sense in you blowing it and becoming a victim (again).

The “consult the minority speakers”, apart from being an atrocious unconscious act of patronisation (see Mansplaining), would only have worked if most or all the speakers had strongly replied with ultimatums, and that was just never going to happen. They would have been better off if they’d just asked the white middle-class straight dudes who formed the majority, or the bosses of their sponsors. I’m not joking. What’s happened since bears that out.

As John deGoes explains in this extensive explanation of their decision, they then “wrestled” with the conflicting forces before deciding not to exclude the speaker. I’d sum up their stated reasons for this as “lack of evidence”, backed up by a vague promise that, “in keeping with these new policies, if evidence arises that anyone planning to speak at or attend the conference presents a safety danger for others, or cannot be trusted to uphold the pledge, we will evaluate that evidence and make decisions appropriately.”

This one, you hopefully get the idea by now, is also all too familiar.

It’s all too easy to refer to decisions made by deluded conservatives in January 1933, or the earlier triumph of hope over experience of a 1924 treason trial. This guy is not Hitler. In a way, he’s much more and much less than the cartoon villain our amnesic society had made of that muppet. Hitler was also a dual personality, or at least, in his youth, he could switch, as circumstances required, from honest, loyal, humble, struggling, but charming and gregarious country gent, simply doing his best for his people, straight to a violent demagogue screaming for the expunging of Germany’s racial enemies. He did this because he had real enemies, and both his life and his Party were in constant danger right up to the day he gained power. He did this because he viewed his mission as life or death for his entire Volk and its way of life.

This Yarvin is another class of scumbag altogether. Some of us study the history of Fascism because we are terrified of its reappearance in our midst, and determined to extinguish it with all the force necessary if it as much as casts a shadow. Every day, this becomes more of a concern than I had hoped it could be, as democracies face a growing storm of institutional racism, disenchanted, easily radicalised minorities, and the tension between maintaining control and constraining the use and abuse of state force. As before, global economic factors have conspired to impoverish and emasculate the poor white majorities in many countries, and it is to the more literate of these that the “readers of old books” can appeal. Just north of me, the Northern Ireland peace process is in danger of crumbling, as the “old guard” of both Loyalism and Republicanism poison their unemployed, hopeless grandsons with talk of “sieges”, leading to an upsurge in both sectarian and racist violence.

LambdaConf is not going to happen this year. Maybe people will turn up, and there might be some talks, but it’ll just be all about this issue. The best thing for them to do is pull the plug without ceremony, and perhaps try again next year with a proper policy. What they should have done the moment they knew who Yarvin was, was email him informing him of their decision not to include him. And why. Something like:

Dear Curtis,

Thank you very much for your talk submission. While the topic of your talk passed our blind evaluation process on its merits, we subsequently discovered that you are also the cryptobigot known as Moldbug. We defend your right as a human being to express your opinions, but we assert our right to choose how to treat those opinions and their author according to our own values and those of our community, and so we have decided that you, as a self-declared enemy of common humanity, will not be speaking at our conference.

Feel free to share this message. We are proud to stand up for our community, which is all too poor for resembling the bland sameness of the world you dream of, and we are confident that people like you will experience more and more the loneliness and hopelessness of being shunned and ignored for your pitiful and poisonous “ideas”.


  • Jun 07 / 2014
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Real Life!

Ham Boiled and Roasted in Guinness, with Belfast Champ

This has to be one of my favourite dishes. It’s absolutely Irish, but has some twists which come from learning how to cook with Italians, Spaniards and Mexicans. It’s a bit of work (some in prep, mostly in the care you take checking up on your food as it cooks), but it results in a sublime thing which your dinner guests will never forget you introduced them to. Just remember to say you got the recipe from me (I got the inspiration for this from the Guinness site, which has a very decent recipe for the boiled version of this one).


Serves 6

For boiling:

  • 1.5Kg (3lbs) Prime Ham Fillet (get it from your butcher, ask for it on the bone if possible), skin on.
  • Some pork or bacon ribs or other pork bones (butcher will often give you these for free from their bin)
  • Half-dozen cloves
  • 3 Spanish (or any large) Onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Red Onion (optional)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 medium sized carrots
  • 2 Spring Onions (Scallions)
  • 1 or 2 Bay (or Laurel) leaves
  • A sprig of fresh (or a 1tsp dried) Parsley
  • 1 can of Draught Guinness
  • 3 peeled tomatoed, chopped, or 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • Grapeseed, Sunflower or Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A pinch of Spanish Pimenton (Paprika) optional

Equipment: 1 Large Saucepan or Pressure Cooker, 1 Sharp Chef’s Knife, Veg cutting board or food processor.

For Roasting:

  • 2-3 tsps of the best honey you can find (or Demerera or brown sugar)
  • More carrots, parsnips, root veg to your taste, roughly chopped.
  • (Optional, I don’t) another can of Guinness

Preheat Oven to 180C (400F).
Equipment: 1 Deep Baking Dish

To Serve with Belfast Champ:

  • 12 Medium “Floury” Potatoes ( a small bag)
  • A bunch of Spring Onions (Scallions)
  • 1/2 a bunch of Thyme (or 3 tsp dried)
  • 50g (2oz) Irish Butter
  • 125ml (1/4 pint) fresh whole milk
  • 1 organic free range egg

Equipment: Potato Ricer (makes the spuds delicious) or masher.

(Optional, not the Irish way!) a leaf salad made with lemon, olive oil and Rocket leaves.


In a large saucepan, sweat the onions, scallions, carrot and pepper for 5-10 mins over a gentle heat until the onion is translucent. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.

Wash all the meat under cold running water before use. Score the ham skin and stick the cloves through the slits into the meat. Put a little oil in the saucepan and place the ham in the centre. Slip the pork bones between the ham and the sides of the saucepan. Add the can of Guinness, pouring over the meat. Add back the onion-carrot mix, and the tomatoes, parsley and pimenton. Slide a couple of bay leaves down the sides of the pan and cover. When it boils, lower the heat and gently simmer for as long as possible, but at least 90 minutes. Every 10-15 mins, return to the pan to ensure it’s gently simmering and taste the evolving flavours.

30 minutes before the ham is done, put on the oven at 190C/375F. Place the baking dish in the oven to heat up as well.

You’ve now cooked the ham perfectly well, so if you wish to give up now, work away and you could serve it as boiled ham and rule (prepare the Belfast Champ as below). But trust me, you really want to roast it very slowly to bring out the great flavours we’ve just infused into the meat. So, take the baking dish out of the oven and smear some oil over it before placing your ham in the centre. Pour the sauce from the saucepan over the meat and put the pork bones/ribs around the ham in the dish. Add any more carrots, parsnips, or other root veg as you like, scattered around the ham. At this point some people would pour another pint of Guinness over the meat, but I’d prefer to drink it! Now, take a couple of teaspoons of the best honey you can find (or brown sugar if you can’t) and smear the top of the ham with it. Sprinkle with freshly picked thyme and place in the oven at the high heat to crisp the fat for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/300F and allow to slow-roast for at least another 45 mins. Every 15-30 mins, take it out of the oven and baste the juices over the ham.

15 minutes before the ham is ready, have your potatoes peeled and chunk them into 2cm or 3/4in cubes. Boil gently in a large saucepan for 12-15 minutes (you can tell they’re done when you can stick a fork straight into them without resistance). Drain the spuds in a colander and place in a bowl. In the potato saucepan, heat up the milk and butter, add the spring onions and thyme, and gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, simmer for a couple of minutes to poach the onions, and add the butter and the raw egg. Whisk until smooth, remove from heat and add the potato using a potato ricer (or else gently mash the potatoes in the bowl using a potato masher or fork). Fold everything together until it has a glossy appearance. If you have too much potato (if it is too dry) add a little more milk at a time until it’s smooth. Keep warm but off the hob (it’ll burn).

When the ham is done. remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes (this distributes the juices in the ham throughout the meat and is essential for a good result). By all means baste the ham one last time using the juices from the dish. If you like thick gravy, you should remove the veg and bones from the dish and place it over a gentle heat on the hob and scrape it to release the burned-in flavours while condensing it. I personally prefer a lighter gravy so I don’t reduce the sauce.

Once rested, carve the ham and plate up a few slices of ham, lots of the champ, the roast veg, and salad if that’s your thing. Pour liberal quantities of gravy over both meat and spuds. Enjoy!