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Here's how to live without fucking things up, asshole!
January 9, 2014 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Thor Harris on keeping shit simple.

Thor Harris previously.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (138 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
love him, love the original list, love the new list. he's fucking awesome.

if the link is giving you a 503, it was also published on amanda palmer's tumblr.
posted by nadawi at 8:49 PM on January 9


15 years ago coke was selling water.

Also, I can't read that many words in succession that are capitalized.

I think I'd have appreciated that more in song form (get on it, Amanda Fucking Palmer, get on it).
posted by el io at 8:49 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


That is a rather rusty axe.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:53 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I'm downsizing a bunch of crazy costs in my life so this hits home at just the right time (I'm actually shopping for a cheap japanese reliable car to replace my stupid expensive to fix german one). But yeah, I WISH THE FONTS WEREN'T SO BIG AND YELLY.
posted by mathowie at 8:54 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Have you seen him drum for Swans? He can't help the big and yelly fonts, that's just the way he lives his life at all times.
posted by naju at 8:58 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Those are pretty awesome rules to live by. Fixing stuff makes sense, I was talking to someone at work today who thought the dealer had to replace the battery in her car keys rather than it being something she could do herself.
posted by arcticseal at 9:02 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Thor is awesome...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:10 PM on January 9


There's a lot of stuff in that backyard.
posted by anothermug at 9:11 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I can agree with a lot on this list, but whenever somebody comes up with THE WAY TO LIVE, I wish they would add some fine print saying (for me and people like me right now, and maybe 10 years down the road I'll be a totaly different person but for now I have it All Figured Out).
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:11 PM on January 9 [20 favorites]


Learning a really pragmatic trade sounds very appealing.
posted by clockzero at 9:15 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Not sure how to respond to the dude, so I'll leave this right here:

FUCK YEAH!

loud enough for ya?
posted by BlueHorse at 9:19 PM on January 9


Dont buy things with credit? thats.... sorta bullshit.

Access to credit is insurance and you get access to credit by using credit.

Proper use is of course key - but this applies to your blender and your electric drill.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:30 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Good stuff, but also.. it's a bit dodgy when your list basically includes "Don't get sick or hurt your head".

Right.. I don't know how I missed that in my daily list of Stuff Not To Do!
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:35 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Preventable expenses - STD’s, abortions, DWI’s, lung cancer, head injuries, speeding tickets, cirrhosis of the liver.

Yeah, nice list except for the moral judgment implying that every single one of these conditions is automatically the result of a single bad choice everyone can avoid. Because -- just to take the example of abortion -- getting raped or your birth control failing or not having access to reliable birth control in the first place is EXACTLY like having several drinks before getting behind the wheel, right.
posted by scody at 9:37 PM on January 9 [41 favorites]


Yeah, gee, it sure sucks when, like, marginalized people try to participate in academia by getting, like, a degree in literature instead of something "practical"! All those queer, women, working class and people of color PhDs should totally stop wasting their time - especially because scholarship means nothing!!!! And god knows I wouldn't want any broke people deciding that getting a fancy meal or some really nice shoes for once made them feel good about themselves. And fuck going to bars - it's not like gay bars or bars catering to particular groups of people have any history or purpose, everyone should just drink at home with their pre-existing friend groups. Also, lung cancer is your own fault and so are head injuries. And if you bike commute everywhere and eat mostly vegetables, you will - guaranteed - have a totally "hot" body (which is kind of a surprise to me as a vegan year-round-bicyclist who is by no means "hot"). And everyone has access to thrift stores which provide suitable clothing that fits them - no one ever needs, like, a 30 waist pair of black pants for work tomorrow, or an 18W suit jacket paired with a size 12 skirt for interviews, etc.

I just honestly cannot.

I would be absolutely heartbroken if Nisi Shawl or Franco Moretti were all "this literary/academic production is total bullshit, I am going to become a mechanic".

I would be really sad if there were no public spaces where queer folks gathered - I may not be really thrilled that those are always drinky spaces, but drinky spaces have a lot of history.

And I know only too well that a fancy meal or a little bit of luxury can mean a LOT when you're otherwise poor, especially when you are going around feeling beaten down and despised by the world generally.

People like Amanda Palmer and this dude, who have both their in-group status and their whiteness (and I would argue, their straightness) to provide them with an easier way of getting through the world are better off not coming up with little lists of Ways That People Who Are Not Them Are Fucking Up Their Lives.
posted by Frowner at 9:43 PM on January 9 [83 favorites]


not sure of who thor fucks, but afp is not straight.
posted by nadawi at 9:45 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


also the actual title of the piece is "how to live like a king for very little" not "absolute rules to structure your life after or you're fucking up"
posted by nadawi at 9:47 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


DON’T GET CABLE. ASSHOLE. THERE IS NOTHING ON. I PROMISE.

Wrong.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:52 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'm doing 13/19 of those things.

BUT YOU DIDN'T NEED TO TELL ME AND MY PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS IN ALL CAPS - THAT'S THE WAY WE ALWAYS LIVED.

Not sure why this got green-lighted.
posted by ITravelMontana at 9:52 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


frowner, I take it you are offended by the list?

I don't begrudge your feelings, but it's a list, and we all know that not all lists are for everybody, just like we all have different likes and dislikes, different wants and desires. This list is for people who think they might want to give some of his ideas a shot, not a totalitarian "YOU MUST DO AS I SAY OR ELSE THOR WILL SMITE YOU!"
posted by ashbury at 9:55 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


not sure of who thor fucks, but afp is not straight.

Fair, but the lived experience of a woman who is very visibly married to a wealthy straight man is very different from that of someone whose primary relationship is not heterosexual.

also the actual title of the piece is "how to live like a king for very little" not "absolute rules to structure your life after or you're fucking up"

I think advice columns and popular "how to live" lists are really fascinating moralizing phenomena - it's usually white bourgeois subjectivity that we see on display (in, say, "Dear Prudence") but there's plenty of...I don't know, pomo alterna-subjectivities-with-problems, like "Captain Awkward". (I add that I love reading advice columns.) There's this whole moralizing discourse kind of embedded in them - I'm not sure you can separate it out.
posted by Frowner at 9:56 PM on January 9 [14 favorites]


there is no green lighting posts on metafilter.
posted by nadawi at 9:56 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


To be fair, no one does actually care about Dostoyevsky expect other people who studied Dostoyevsky.

But, if we are kind, we might take point 8 as "learn some basic trade-related life skills, and strudy stuffy Russian writers when you can change a washer".

I have my rose-coloured glasses on.
posted by Mezentian at 9:57 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


As decent of a percussionist as he may be, Thor makes watching this version of Swans play live kind of seem like a joke.
posted by item at 9:59 PM on January 9


Yeah, gee, it sure sucks when, like, marginalized people try to participate in academia by getting, like, a degree in literature

Wait, what'd he say about academia?

I'm sure a lot of us could be like "this list is not precisely tailored to my framework or value system!"
posted by anazgnos at 9:59 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Fair, but the lived experience of a woman who is very visibly married to a wealthy straight man is very different from that of someone whose primary relationship is not heterosexual.

But, she has hairy armpits.
She is at the bottom of every totem pole.
Her 'pits, you see. She's more monster than woman.
posted by Mezentian at 10:00 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Part of the joke is that it's not tailored to your value system and HE DOESNT CARE ASSHOLE GO FIX SOMETHING
posted by naju at 10:00 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I think this list is obviously a kicking-off point, and clearly a but tongue-in-cheek. It's not so much what each point says, but what it means.
posted by Mezentian at 10:01 PM on January 9


amanda palmer's been married for three years. does her lived experience before not count? or her lived experience of being in an open relationship? once a woman is married she is only defined by her husband? personally, i'm just as queer now as i was before i married a man.

also, even though she gets a mention at the bottom, why does she matter to thor's list?
posted by nadawi at 10:02 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I think the list has a lot of "no peasant anchorites" to it which rankles people who either a) live the way the list proscribes out of necessity and would like to be able to afford a car or cable television or b) people who have in the past lived that way, earned their way out of it, and now enjoy the hell out of luxuries like cable and Eggo waffles. Or as Jay-Z says, "If you grew up with holes in your zapatos, you'd celebrate the minute you was having dough."

I think this list is obviously a kicking-off point, and clearly a but tongue-in-cheek.

Ironic working-class tourism?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:03 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


In a slightly-alternate universe, Thor is an early-90's SNL character played by Phil Hartman, but only on one episode.
posted by item at 10:04 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


I don't begrudge your feelings, but it's a list, and we all know that not all lists are for everybody, just like we all have different likes and dislikes, different wants and desires. This list is for people who think they might want to give some of his ideas a shot, not a totalitarian "YOU MUST DO AS I SAY OR ELSE THOR WILL SMITE YOU!"

The thing is, when you write a list that is like "avoid these things because they are kind of stupid" you run the risk of really, really showing the limits of your experience, the more so the bigger your topic is. Like, I could write a pretty good "avoid these Simple Secretarial Mistakes" list if I were careful because it's fairly focused and small, but I'd write a really crap "How To Live Well In Minneapolis" post, because there are so many ways of living and so many different needs.

I just can't agree with the whole "it's a joke" and "it's a starting point" thing, because the same sets of experiences are pushed aside and devalued as are devalued in about a gazillion white punky-rocky normative lists I've seen. It's always "don't expect to make a living from ideas" (which totally concedes scholarship to rich white people) and "don't think you can participate in any arts or fashion system except the kind that white punk-rock people value" and "things that have historically been valued by queer people or women are kind of stupid" and it's often "if you just lived right you wouldn't get sick".
posted by Frowner at 10:04 PM on January 9 [24 favorites]


And, I mean, it's fine if people who want to consume less get something out of this and put it on their fridge to remind them to eat more oranges and watch less TV. It just kind of helps to understand why it rankles some other people.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:05 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Most everyone I know who fixes things is barely getting by, and one emergency away from disaster.

Still, some of 'em smoke, others have degrees, so I guess it doesn't count.
posted by poe at 10:06 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Someone, on the Internet is always wrong.
(I should totally sketch a comic about that.)

I find it hard to believe that a guy in Swans (even if he is the drummer or bassist) is that tone deaf.

I think this list is provocative, he probably doesn't believe everything as presented, and we're talking about it.

He's a bit like .... I don't know, which talkback/Fox host gets all the hate now that Glenn Beck has died?
posted by Mezentian at 10:09 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I'll pile on the hate. Being wrong in all-caps will bring down my inhibitions.

I don't understand his point about going to bars and drunk driving, I thought we were all riding around on our bicycles developing our hot bodies.

This goal of living like a "king" for very little is basically bullshit. Shit costs money. Living in a nice part of town costs money. You save money by moving a bit further out to somewhere less nice, and now biking places takes a lot longer and biking in bad weather becomes more unpleasant. And you're not really living like a king now, are you?

So what's stopping people from living like kings? Apparently cigarettes, processed foods, credit cards, drinking in bars, cable, kids, getting sick, and literature degrees. This is just fucking stupid. I mean, everyone has a list of things they don't do that seem fairly common. You have to be a dumbass to think your personal list is some kind of special gateway to awesomeness.

Also, I know that this is a bit of a lightening rod topic on this site, but anyone who says "7 billion people is too many" is just someone who likes to imagine that their personal preferences are profoundly rooted in moral concern for the entire universe, unlike all those stupid selfish sheeple.
posted by leopard at 10:14 PM on January 9 [15 favorites]


he's a classically trained musician and a carpenter who had also worked as a plumber, he is in bands with people who have arts degrees. i don't think he's saying those things are dumb, he's saying they're expensive and if you want to live cheaply, learning a trade is helpful.
posted by nadawi at 10:16 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


"avoid these things because they are kind of stupid"

In fairness, it's more like "avoid these things because they are kind of expensive." I agree that I've been seeing the same kind of list since the 1980s, and there's as much truth in it now as then, but also the same blind spots and elision of privilege.

But at the same time, privilege is a funny thing, and like the example of Amanda Palmer, people can both be privileged (and, as seems to be the case with her, be totally tonedeaf about that privilege) and at the same time not-privileged in all kinds of other ways. If we are going to use terms like that, it's incumbent to use them with nuance and care.

In the case of lists like this, it's good to be aware of the ways in which privilege might be hidden in the details, while also recognizing that this is not a list put together by Dick Cheney and his oligarch buddies. The big picture matters too, perhaps even more, and the big picture here (and with Amanda Palmer) is of someone coming from a good place. Finding the faults (which are guaranteed to be there) is not perhaps the most interesting or productive approach, as compared to actual enemies like Dick Cheney.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:16 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


I dunno about these things you're saying, Frowner. I'd be with you if Thor was approaching many queer women of colour with PhDs and slapping their books out of their hands. But to me, it's not like that, it's like this: I'm bipolar, and I can't really avoid getting sick. So I can't take all of Thor's suggestions. I also work in a prestige industry, so I have to wear my stupid new clothing that costs too much money -- at least four or five outfits of it.

But I really don't need a qualifier before the list telling me that it's like, THOR'S LIST OF THINGS YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU HAPPEN TO NOT HAVE A DEBILITATING MENTAL ILLNESS AND WORK IN A PRESTIGE INDUSTRY.

Because it's a list written in all caps by a drummer in a few moderately successful bands who is pictured brandishing an axe and wearing a witch's cap. It's obviously niche. One of the items on the list isn't even a thing you can do: "IF YOU HAD TOLD ME 15 YEARS AGO THAT COCA COLA WOULD PUT TAP WATER IN PLASTIC BOTTLES AND MOTHERFUCKERS WOULD BUY IT …… NO FUCKIN WAY."

I think it's pretty easy to tell that Thor isn't advocating for the experience that everybody should have. Or, if he genuinely believes that Everyone Should Do It Like Thor, the credential of Being Thor suggests that his beliefs might be a little eccentric.

Of course pinball isn't obviously the greatest game of all time. This is not, however, an argument that you should have with the pinball wizard.
posted by insteadofapricots at 10:17 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


This reminds me a lot about a post on resolutions for writers from about this time last year.

I don't understand how these lists get so much coverage and general HELL YEAH-ness, when really they're just 67% grossly oversimplified common sense and 33% expletive.
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


I just thought it was designed to be light-hearted entertainment. It's not a big deal. It's in all caps. The guy looks like a character. It's more about the character than the content.

I know people who I will happily just sit and listen to rant on about whatever, because they're so amusing - usually part of the amusement is how over-the-top they are when they're on a roll.

Not everything on the internet needs to be dissected ("Yeah, but what is this cat video saying about the privileges of cat owners?"). Just relax and enjoy it. Or whatever.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:20 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


OK HERE'S ALL THE LIST YOU NEED

1) DECIDE ON SOME THINGS YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF LIFE AND HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE

2)FIND A LIVELIHOOD THAT ALLOWS FOR 1)

3) REVISE 1) OR 2) BASED ON YOUR LIVED EXPERIENCE AS NEEDED

ASSHOLE.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:22 PM on January 9 [18 favorites]


But I really don't need a qualifier before the list telling me that it's like, THOR'S LIST OF THINGS YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU HAPPEN TO NOT HAVE A DEBILITATING MENTAL ILLNESS AND WORK IN A PRESTIGE INDUSTRY.

But it's the same stupid list that goes around every fucking January! If he's Thor the crazy drum-playing ax-man, shouldn't it be at least a revelatory, interesting list? But it's not! It's ALWAYS this list! "Exercise more, eat better, get a good paying job." Oh, okay! I have never thought of that! Jesus, I would rather hear about his beard-grooming regimen, it would at least be new.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:22 PM on January 9 [11 favorites]


"YOU MUST DO AS I SAY OR ELSE THOR WILL SMITE YOU!"

IF HE SMITES YOU WITH HIS RUSTY AXE YOU MIGHT GET TETANUS, AND THAT'S A POOR LIFE CHOICE.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:23 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


OH MAN THIS THOR GUY IS SO COOL AND HIS ADVICE IS SO AWESOME AND I AM SO ENTERTAINED AND RELAXED BY HIS ZANY CHARACTER.

ASSHOLE.
posted by leopard at 10:27 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


She's more monster than woman.

Worst. Rob. Zombie. Song. Ever.
posted by The World Famous at 10:30 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


#15 is just financial illiteracy. You should put everything you can on credit, collect the airpoints and the cash back, and pay off the card in full every month.
posted by dydecker at 10:54 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]



I am sorry that I was so aggro about complaining about the list. I really could have dialed that back a lot. I saw my neighbors' dog get hit by a car today (and some other life stuff has been really difficult) and I have realized tonight that it's making me extra-double-plus crabby on the internet when that isn't helpful.

Vis-a-vis Amanda Palmer - I did not mean that she "doesn't count" as queer, or doesn't experience any homophobia. Just that there's varying degrees of encountering-homophobia, and I think that bisexual women with feminine affect who are married to men are often protected from a lot of stuff. I say this advisedly, because when I was in my twenties, I thought of myself as a bisexual woman, had long hair and wore dresses and was in a serious relationship with a straight man. (And unlike many women for whom this is a real and legitimate way to be, this wasn't a happy identity for me; for me it was a product of internalized homophobia.) Now that I live very differently and no longer pass, my experiences are really different. I am not "more queer"; it's just that it is more difficult for me to move through the world than it was. This is the fault of homophobia and does not delegitimatize bisexual feminine women's identities - but I look back on how my life was before, and I can't help but realize how different it is now.
posted by Frowner at 10:56 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


#15 is just financial illiteracy. You should put everything you can on credit, collect the airpoints and the cash back,

I don't know what it's like where you are, and what you are spending each month, but 'round here, "collecting airpoints" and stuff is financial illiteracy -- it's paying out for little reward, if any.
posted by Mezentian at 11:01 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I'm just shocked, shocked, that the viking/wizard/drummer posing topless with a big fucking axe doesn't have the utmost respect for literary scholarship.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:10 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Read like a McSweeney's piece, but less clever. I don't know if that says more about McSweeney's or Mr.Thor.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:15 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Just coming into the thread to say that some stuff was problematic, like the abortion thing, but I liked the list overall, especially the practical and anti-consumerist tone...oh shit what's going on in this thread

*backs away slowly*
posted by dubitable at 11:16 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised that the guy shouting at me about avoiding head injuries is also telling me to try to sneak a flask into shows.
posted by The World Famous at 11:17 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


Dont buy things with credit? thats.... sorta bullshit.

I think his meaning was don't go into debt for things you can't afford. Nothing wrong with using credit cards (though he did say cash only), as long as you pay off your full balance every month. It's free that way and convenient as hell.

On the other hand when dealing with small local businesses, restaurants, food carts etc. I try to always use cash, not debit or credit cards, so they don't have to pay any fees.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:42 PM on January 9


more importantly, Amanda Palmer sucks and it's bullshit that lung cancer is always avoidable. "Don't get sick" is stupid, insensitive advice, and fuck this guy (sneaking flasks into shows? Sure, buying records is nice, but does he understand that bars need to make money to continue having shows?)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:43 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I think in can manage without this list. But thanks for thinking of me!
posted by dg at 11:44 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Well, as someone who is an anti-monarchist, I feel that it would be completely improper to attempt to emulate the lifestyle of anyone with the title of "king", there for, I will have to pass on many of this persons advice. I would suggest you all do the same, as it seems that in the past, too many kings led to many, many wars and a whole lot of generally bad behavior.

Though, admittedly, much of this advice does not appear very regal. Perhaps he is attempting to romanticize some of the very early Pre-Anglo-Saxon kings of the British Isles, prior to the Anglo invasions. Seeing as much of his advice is against the practice of lending perhaps he has a strong stance against usury or compound interest.

Well, that cannot be entirely true, for he extols the virtue of doing favors for people, and expecting for favors to be returned, even if not by the original favor requester. This is puzzling. Perhaps he is of some strange misunderstanding as common in the West of the concept of Karma. A clearly puzzling quandary, I do confess, but many people forget about the whole reincarnation aspect that is required for karma to have any effect.

There is also much stated about learning a trade. So strange for a king to be extolling the virtue of being a lowly craftsman, or worse, of the merchant class. This would get one into a whole mess of problems seeing as how almost every business must operate with some form of credit, if just for the purpose of being able to purchase materials to practice their trade and make something to sell at a profit of their labor.

Maybe the problem is that these simple platitudes are very nice for the author of this list, however they do not apply broadly to anyone other than the author. I am sure he would be flattered should someone wish to try and emulate his goals as stated in the list, but then they would be contending for his throne, and as we are all aware, there can only be one king at a time. I do not think he would appreciate having his crown usurped. Perhaps he should keep this little list to himself. Not everyone can benefit from aspiring to the glory of divine rule.
posted by daq at 12:03 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


If you go to a show at a bar, support the damned bar that is hosting the show! Don't bring a flask. That can get you (and the bar) in a huge crapload of trouble, depending on the local laws. Bring enough money for a couple of beers + tips and a record.
posted by lovecrafty at 12:04 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


I get the exact same bossy advice on Lululemon bags. The only differences are the thing about children and that Lululemon has better clothes.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:58 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


So basically he both missed out BE BORN WHITE AND MIDDLE CLASS and is pictured holding a solution to bullet point 5.
posted by fullerine at 4:10 AM on January 10


Jesus. Metafilter, you guys are the worst sometimes. Grow a sense of humor.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:41 AM on January 10 [13 favorites]


If you live in America – don’t get sick and avoid injury.

Um. I'll get right on building that sealed, sterile, padded bubble home, k?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on January 10


A cylindrical ax handle is a poor design, as it would tend to twist in one's hands while in use, compared to a standard handle with a more or less elliptic cross section.
posted by Tube at 4:54 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


This is a really insidious piece. I mean, it's a little bit evil, isn't it? It's a joke, which means you aren't allowed to be offended, or else you risk the embarrassment of Not Getting The Joke. You are Taking Things Too Seriously. But it's advice, and so even though it's joking advice, there's still that sting every time you see one instruction that you can't follow (even if in your dreams, you really wanted to follow a couple of them). It's a machine for deniable judgment. "You're stupid! Hey, don't take it so personally, it's a joke! It's common sense, and if you don't follow it, you're an idiot! But I'm just this crazy funny musician, so!"

I can't get past how class-blind it is. How it assumes you live in an area where biking is a possibility, rather than a recipe for instant head injury as big trucks blow past you, helmet or not. It assumes that you live somewhere with enough jobs that you actually have a pick of what you want to do. Or that you're living in an economically lively enough area that picking a trade is actually viable as a career rather than as a hobby, as though there is no competitive pressure for things like plumbers and computer repairers.

But--and what this says about me, I don't know--the most offensive part, to me, was the line about thrift stores. Thrift stores are like this little nexus of the class war. If you live in an area of great wealth and privilege, no problem! Plenty of interesting clothes for you to wear as you zip along in your government-mandated biking lane, congratulations!

But if you don't, you're stuck in a tricky situation, where prices are being driven up madly by middle class scavengers who are yanking things to sell on ebay. The stores understand this, and begin to raise prices accordingly (and randomly)...blocking out people who really just came in because they can't afford retail. There's a weird cycle happening there, where the quality of the items drops and drops, because everything that might be usable is getting snapped up for other purposes, until all that's left are the dregs: Greasy ill-fitting suits, torn prom dresses, an array of golf shoes.

(Okay, I'm actually far more bitter about the books, though...every time I go to Goodwill there are these people there with these little scanners, and they scan the books to check the prices of them, and if they can make enough money selling them online, they dump the book into a bin and buy huge masses of them. They don't care if the book is interesting, they don't care if the book is something I want, they take them as though this is their warehouse.)
posted by mittens at 4:56 AM on January 10 [20 favorites]


anyone who says "7 billion people is too many" is just someone who likes to imagine that their personal preferences are profoundly rooted in moral concern for the entire universe, unlike all those stupid selfish sheeple.

7 billion people is too many.

I don't give a fuck about "the entire universe," which is old and ugly enough to look after itself.

I'd just like to think that most of the people who occupy this planet after I'm done with it might have some chance of a life that doesn't involve hacking each other to pieces to avoid starving to death which, by analogy with the experience of every other species that's ever reached plague proportions, strikes me as the inevitable consequence of letting factors other than considered conscious choice regulate our numbers.

Life forms are currently going extinct at a faster rate than they have done since the dinosaurs died out. That's what the presence of seven billion ingenious adaptable flexible people does: we crowd everything else out. And yes we're plenty smart and yes we're plenty ingenious but we have no fucking clue how to live in a world that isn't full of other species cleaning up all the shit we seem to need to keep on dumping into it.
posted by flabdablet at 5:02 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


7 billion people is too many.

This. And that. There is science around about the perfect number, and it is all over the shop, but it is less than 7billion.

Humanity is the disease.
posted by Mezentian at 5:07 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I am sorry that I was so aggro about complaining about the list.

Oh, you shouldn't be; this was a stupid shitty list full of class, gender and racial privilege. It's perfectly acceptable to be aggressive back against loud, aggressive dumb shit like this.

Humanity is the disease.

Be the change you want to see.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:11 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Be the change you want to see.

Done.
posted by flabdablet at 5:15 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


I love when articles like this cut having kids down to a financial decision you'd be crazy to make. I get that people choose not to have kids for a lot of reasons, but I think they're bigger than "saving money". I don't think I know anyone who decided not to have kids solely to save a few bucks.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:17 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


How to live like a King for very little:

- RISE AT DAWN. ATTEND MASS IN CASTLE CHAPEL.
- BREAKFAST OF BREAD AND WINE, MAYBE WITH SOME COLD MEAT.
- ATTEND COUNCIL MEETINGS, HEAR PETITIONS.
- DINNER AT 11 AM.
- GO HUNTING WITH YOUR DOGS OR HAWKS.
- TAKE BATH.
- LIGHT SUPPER AT 5 PM.
- BEDTIME PRAYERS.
posted by kyrademon at 5:19 AM on January 10 [31 favorites]


There is a strong vein of Puritanism in a lot of white guy punk.
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 AM on January 10 [19 favorites]


To be fair, no one does actually care about Dostoyevsky expect other people who studied Dostoyevsky.

The fuck? Those are fighting words.
posted by treepour at 5:27 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


How to live like a King for very little:
YOU FORGOT:
INVITE FAMILY TO WEDDING AT THE TWINS. UNDERCATER.
posted by Mezentian at 5:31 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


ALSO BED VARIOUS WENCHES AND HUMILIATE THEIR HUSBANDS. IT'S GOOD TO BE KING.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:32 AM on January 10


I don't think I know anyone who decided not to have kids solely to save a few bucks.

I'll bet you know people who decided not to have a second or a third kid because they couldn't afford it, though.
posted by escabeche at 5:38 AM on January 10


He doesn't say whether or not I'm supposed to pay for internet access. I need guidance here!
posted by JanetLand at 5:38 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


My God Metafilter, perfect is the enemy of the good much? It's just a list of some suggestions on how to live better, like Fugazi lyrics or the Bible. It doesn't cover everything.
posted by gwint at 5:46 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


I thought this list was great
posted by Otherwise at 6:00 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


My God Metafilter, perfect is the enemy of the good much? It's just a list of some suggestions on how to live better

Isn't the original quote that better is the enemy of the good?
posted by mittens at 6:01 AM on January 10


What if 8 and 13 contradict each other?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:10 AM on January 10


If you live in America – don’t get sick and avoid injury.

i'm not sure why everyone is taking this at exactly face value instead of commentary on our fucked up medical system. for a working musician who was a carpenter/plumber/bar staff dude, it seems likely that he's plenty aware of how shitty it is to get sick and that if you do get sick in america that you're very likely fucked - especially if you have a non-corporate job. honestly, for me, this is his tell that the list is not entirely straight forward and that a lot of these things are situation based.


I think that bisexual women with feminine affect who are married to men are often protected from a lot of stuff

so it's not that she has straight privilege, it's that she has passing privilege (which brings along with it its own problems - like people from either "side" refusing to allow you to belong)? that i can get behind. i think we can quibble about feminine presenting (as her presentation gets her a lot of hate which seems based on her lack of playing the feminine rules) - but otherwise i basically agree with you. i just bristle when people call very openly bisexual women straight - it gets frustrating, especially when coming from other queer people.
posted by nadawi at 6:12 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


This list makes so much more sense when you take into consideration the fact that he is from Austin. He seems to be talking almost specifically to college students in a predominantly white city.

The 'avoid injury' part that has been taking flack for being unrealistic is paired specifically with bike safety, a real concern in a city that is designed like a shitty suburb but has plenty of cyclists. Also a city with a serious DUI problem thanks to all of the rich college kids (see #9).
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:24 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


In fact, I bet I can triangulate which neighborhood he lives in based on his specific complaints.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:26 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


And you're not really living like a king now, are you?

Maybe living like a king in exile.

A number of things in the list actually do make sense within the idea of simplification. I put lots of things on my credit card, but it was arguably simpler when I paid cash for everything. If you don't have much money, fixing things yourself is definitely simpler. If you can afford to pay somebody else to fix them, then that becomes simpler.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:35 AM on January 10


"Don't get sick" is stupid, insensitive advice

Man people are really into picking out the one obviously, unambiguously ironic line in the whole thing and taking it seriously
posted by anazgnos at 6:56 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


"Don't get sick" also implies "don't lose your hearing, or else you will have to pay for a hearing aid"

Has anyone been to a Swans show? I mean, HAS ANYONE BEEN TO A SWANS SHOW? I HAVE AND IT HURT MY EARS VERY MUCH AND NOW I HAVE TROUBLE HEARING. THANKS. BYE.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:04 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


13. FIND WORK YOU LOVE. IF YOU CAN’T DO THAT, THEN FIND A JOB WHERE YOU LOVE THE PEOPLE.

That's the worst part about leaving a job. You get into a job and find out it's not for you then you stick around because it's difficult to find work and you start to really like the people you work with because it's you and them against nameless corporate overlord. Then you find a job that's slightly less shitty and there's this emotional element to leaving your comrades behind.

Necessary Metafilter Disclaimer:
By "you," I mean "I." As with anything where "you" is the implied subject, like this list, "I" is the actual subject. I make no claims to universality, even in the previous sentence where I explicitly chose the word "anything."

My List for How to Read Articles by Laypersons:
1) If you dislike something and it doesn't take food out of your mouth, breath out of your lungs, or blood out of your body -- move on.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:22 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I have a child but I've raised him to fix stuff and ride a bike. Also, he's never had an abortion.

So I guess I'm doing ok.
posted by bondcliff at 7:24 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I get a 503 error:

Service Temporarily Unavailable

The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

Apache Server at monofonuspress.com Port 80

posted by editorgrrl at 7:39 AM on January 10


DON'T GET SICK

I'll get right on that.

PREVENTABLE EXPENSES: ABORTIONS

My response to this isn't particularly Metafilter friendly, as it begins with F and ends with U, as the saying goes.

PREVENTABLE EXPENSES: STDs

Yeah, if you get one, it's your fault. Dumbass.

NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR MASTERS IN DOSTOYEVSKY

Because literature is meaningless, as is scholarship.

DON'T HAVE KIDS.

Many, many people in the world want to have children. See children as not some species of parasite but as part of families which give their lives profound meaning. Don't have kids if you don't want to-- absolutely don't-- but don't slam those who do and who might think that having had a child is the most important experience of their lives. It's a normal human thing to want to have children.

Having and raising my kid, and books and my literature degree probably constitute the two pillars of my life, so this list doesn't do a lot for me as you can imagine. It sounds like another grandstanding single white guy giving orders that don't translate well to the complexities of actual life.

Also, my son starts his carpentry program in April, so does that count for something? I've made someone who is going to make things? Of course the things I make tend to be words on a page, so perhaps they don't count in Thor's schema.
posted by jokeefe at 7:49 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


I did everything on his list, and still managed to fuck things up.
posted by straight at 7:58 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


To be fair, no one does actually care about Dostoyevsky expect other people who studied Dostoyevsky.

Wrong again!

(I'm assuming someone who would say that has been wrong many times before.)
posted by straight at 7:59 AM on January 10


God damn, folks. Everything doesn't always have to be so serious.
posted by cavalier at 8:48 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


When he said that nobody cares about your masters degree and that it was possible to get in shape, I knew Metafilter would bring the pitchforks.
posted by the jam at 8:49 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]


I have a Diploma in Wrongness from Terrible University.
posted by Mezentian at 9:05 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Oh, stop your bragging.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:13 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who interpreted the "abortions as avoidable expense" line to essentially mean "use a condom" rather than some sort of moral attack on rape victims?
posted by epilnivek at 9:14 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


Okay, so this is possibly not the thread for this, but on the "7 billion people is too many" point... I respect that people choose not to have children out of awareness of the overcrowding problem. But it seems like the people who make this choice are largely members of a privileged, intellectual class, and people all over the world in less privileged places are still having children — a LOT of children — and that problem won't be solved by the abstinence of a comparatively much smaller group.

Astronomer Dr. Vera Rubin, who made discoveries that support the existence of dark matter, had five children. I know a bunch of people who would probably snort and whisper "breeder" under their breath, but each and every one of her children has a PhD in the hard sciences or math. If a PhD is awarded because you have contributed some new knowledge in your field, then she has taken her already impressive career in the sciences and actually multiplied it by five — instead of just her lifetime of research and discovery, now we have five scientists with a lifetime of contribution of their own.

Certainly not everyone has this kind of outcome, but I'm genuinely surprised that I see the intellectual elite doing the "7 billion people is too many" math so much more often than I see them doing the "what could my children, with access to education and taught to value scientific/social/cultural progress, do to improve society?" math.

You could of course make the argument that you don't need children of your own to do that; you could adopt, mentor, teach, donate to charity, volunteer, etc etc. I just don't see these folks doing much of that either — it's more "no kids and no involvement with kids" than "no kids but I will take part in the raising and teaching of the next generation." The latter would make a lot more sense to me. (Edit: As a moral stance, not a personal preference. Obviously some people just don't want to be around kids and that's fine, but I think it's stated here as a moral stance.)
posted by annekate at 9:16 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


7 billion people is too many.
This. And that. There is science around about the perfect number, and it is all over the shop, but it is less than 7billion.
Humanity is the disease.


Sorry to be a prick, but it seems lists of How to Live Your Life go over really well with people who are so totally unhappy with life and feel that it's outside their control to possibly ever be happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a font of joy, but I also don't think my problems are caused by the crush of 7 billion other folks. Amanda Palmer isn't the Pied Piper leading you to a better life, she's a person with a job who makes money by playing that role. Thankfully this guy doesn't feel the need to pull a Very Serious Face when he does it. The whole list reminds me of that old Dennis Miller joke about having "You Can't Save Everyone" sewn on a pillow in his bomb shelter. This purports to be life advice but spends at least a quarter of it telling you to avoid people. That doesn't seem like good advice for adding to the general level of happiness whether there are 7 billion or 7 people.

FIND WORK YOU LOVE. IF YOU CAN’T DO THAT, THEN FIND A JOB WHERE YOU LOVE THE PEOPLE.

Awesome. Why doesn't everyone just do that, it's so obvious bro.

you could adopt, mentor, teach, donate to charity, volunteer, etc etc. I just don't see these folks doing much of that either

Similarly, I wonder how many people who espouse maker/ fixer culture actually do so. I've got a couple of those books collecting dust right behind me now.
posted by yerfatma at 9:28 AM on January 10


I just don't see these folks doing much of that either — it's more "no kids and no involvement with kids" than "no kids but I will take part in the raising and teaching of the next generation." The latter would make a lot more sense to me. (Edit: As a moral stance, not a personal preference. Obviously some people just don't want to be around kids and that's fine, but I think it's stated here as a moral stance.)

I think a large reason for this is because parents seem to want to be the only people who actively parent their children, and parents often make huge assumptions that those who don't have children don't know the first thing about kids. I'm childless, and I like kids, but there's a mile of eggshells between the casual interactions I have with kids and actually having a meaningful part in raising them, at least where I live.
posted by mochapickle at 9:31 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


This purports to be life advice but spends at least a quarter of it telling you to avoid people. That doesn't seem like good advice for adding to the general level of happiness whether there are 7 billion or 7 people.

I didn't read it as the advice of a misanthrope, though. He encourages people to drink with their neighbors and do favors for others. Those are things which (can) add to the general happiness if one thinks that hell isn't other people.
posted by banal evil at 9:44 AM on January 10


7 billion people is too many

Global population is going to peak at about 9 billion and then decline, whether you have zero kids or ten.
posted by straight at 9:45 AM on January 10


Eh. If someone doesn't think their children, if they were to have them, would make the world a better place and thinks the world would be better off if they, personally, did not have and raise children, then it's probably for the best that they choose not to reproduce. The last thing the world needs - regardless of population issues - is more people whose parents thought the world would be better off without them.
posted by The World Famous at 9:50 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Maybe we just need a simple Michael Pollanesque statement to make everyone happy.

Have kids. Only if you want them. Not too many.
posted by naju at 10:05 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Am I the only person who interpreted the "abortions as avoidable expense" line to essentially mean "use a condom" rather than some sort of moral attack on rape victims?
posted by epilnivek at 12:14 PM on January 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


No, you're not. I do think that "use a condom, stupid" was the way he intended that line to be interpreted. I take issue with it because of the privileged, limited place that intention is coming from. No one doesn't know that using condoms in certain situations will prevent pregnancy. Thing is all the "sex" that takes place outside those situations is a real factor for many people who aren't in Thor's demographic. It's not that he's wrong, it's that he's he's SHOUTING IGNORANT THINGS while being blind to his own privilege.

And I'm not even addressing his characterization of the issue with abortion being its financial cost.
posted by pajamazon at 10:09 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


But it seems like the people who make this choice are largely members of a privileged, intellectual class, and people all over the world in less privileged places are still having children — a LOT of children — and that problem won't be solved by the abstinence of a comparatively much smaller group.

On the other hand, we privileged Westerners are each responsible for at least an order of magnitude more ecological pressure than any member of the poor majority. We eat more food each, we consume more energy each, we ruin more forest each, we desequester more carbon each.

And I am a privileged Westerner, so my own choice not to reproduce has no option but to be that of a privileged Westerner. However, that choice does at least mean that the country where I live now has a marginally increased capacity to absorb refugees or other immigrants from places where raw population pressure is already destroying lives.

But the main thing that put me on the path to non-reproduction was having a sense of proportion. Obviously there is no choice I could possibly make that will stop the world population doubling again before I die, as it has since I was born; but my choice not to reproduce is a contribution to the solution scaled to match my existence's contribution to the problem, and I'm satisfied with that.

You could of course make the argument that you don't need children of your own to do that ... I just don't see these folks doing much of that either

I do make that argument, have linked to it in this very thread, and I think it's a pity to see you wheeling out such a sad old straw man.

Global population is going to peak at about 9 billion and then decline, whether you have zero kids or ten.

Given the rate at which human health is on average improving, and assuming that the reason for your posited peak and decline is not mass starvation or other hideous condition resulting in a massive increase in the death rate, then the only reason global population would decline would be a lower birth rate. That's a consequence of people choosing not to reproduce, not something that "would happen" regardless of that.

Also worth noting is that wherever women get access to education and affordable contraception, the birth rate goes down. These things are certainly worth supporting.

But even if your guess about where population is going to peak is close to correct: with seven billion in residence, we're already grossly over-stressing the rest of the biosphere, and the faster we can get our numbers down the less damage we'll do to the world we leave for our collective grandchildren.

If someone doesn't think their children, if they were to have them, would make the world a better place and thinks the world would be better off if they, personally, did not have and raise children, then it's probably for the best that they choose not to reproduce.

Again: there is absolutely not a necessary link between "raise children" and "have children". My point is that there are plenty of existing children desperately in need of better parenting than they have. I certainly hope that the one we've raised and the three still with us are going to contribute to making the world better. I didn't have to make any of those people; they found us. All I had to do was be available to love them.

I'd be far happier to see this kind of parenting become solidly mainstream instead of being seen as eccentric or extraordinary. As far as I can see, there is no sound reason why it shouldn't.

For what it's worth, I strongly agree with the spirit of most of Thor Harris's recommendations even though the way he expresses them is apparently a little too robust for some.
posted by flabdablet at 10:23 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


--I just don't see these folks doing much of that either — it's more "no kids and no involvement with kids" than "no kids but I will take part in the raising and teaching of the next generation." The latter would make a lot more sense to me. (Edit: As a moral stance, not a personal preference. Obviously some people just don't want to be around kids and that's fine, but I think it's stated here as a moral stance.)

-I think a large reason for this is because parents seem to want to be the only people who actively parent their children, and parents often make huge assumptions that those who don't have children don't know the first thing about kids. I'm childless, and I like kids, but there's a mile of eggshells between the casual interactions I have with kids and actually having a meaningful part in raising them, at least where I live.


Exactly. It's a rare parent these days who wants someone other than themselves - ESPECALLY someone other than themselves who isn't also a parent of children the same age as theirs - to have anything at all to do with their children, especially if it might be a situation in which the other adult has an influence over the child or might tell him or her what to do. I see a not-insignificant portion of parents who even believe they should be micromanaging their children's schoolteachers.

As I said on another thread recently, it's not that uncommon for mothers of young children who know I'm childless to pull their kids away from me like I’m going to lure them to my gingerbread house and fatten them up for the oven. So, without a Master's degree in education and a commitment to work in a field that good people are running away from in droves, or some unusual special talent and happening to have the right social connections, it's not that simple a thing for just any schmoe off the street to do.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:28 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


It's a rare parent these days who wants someone other than themselves - ESPECALLY someone other than themselves who isn't also a parent of children the same age as theirs - to have anything at all to do with their children

This is certainly the case, especially in America, but I'm not worried about kids with parents that protective; they are probably fine. I'm talking more about kids in need of foster care, or those in neglectful/abusive home environments, who can certainly benefit from whatever attention or material resources you can afford to share.

I am (perhaps unfairly?) reading more of the typical childfree mindset into the original article instead of "if you want kids, adopt or foster instead", which is certainly a perfectly good and morally justifiable standpoint. More so to me than "I'm doing a great thing by not having kids because overpopulation, and now I can backpack around Europe whenever I want" or whatever. I don't think that's a straw man, either — I live around plenty of privileged intellectual folk with this exact mindset, and I just find it a little puzzling.

(In other words, maybe don't call it a moral imperative if it's actually your lifestyle choice.)
posted by annekate at 10:45 AM on January 10


FWIW we have used the word privilege 20 times to this point of the thread. And that is just counting the uses that were spelled correctly.
posted by COD at 10:47 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


without a Master's degree in education and a commitment to work in a field that good people are running away from in droves, or some unusual special talent and happening to have the right social connections, it's not that simple a thing for just any schmoe off the street to do.

Any schmoe off the street who wants to be a parent without making children can go to a local foster care agency and sign up and get trained and make that happen. No Master's required, just an open heart and a willingness to commit.
posted by flabdablet at 10:48 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


No, you're not. I do think that "use a condom, stupid" was the way he intended that line to be interpreted. I take issue with it because of the privileged, limited place that intention is coming from. No one doesn't know that using condoms in certain situations will prevent pregnancy. Thing is all the "sex" that takes place outside those situations is a real factor for many people who aren't in Thor's demographic. It's not that he's wrong, it's that he's he's SHOUTING IGNORANT THINGS while being blind to his own privilege.

Telling people to wrap it up has nothing to do with privilege, nor is it ignorant. If he had said "don't get raped ya big dummy" (as I started typing that I heard it in Steve Brule's voice), then there would be something to take issue with.
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:49 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Any schmoe off the street who wants to be a parent without making children can go to a local foster care agency and sign up and get trained and make that happen. No Master's required, just an open heart and a willingness to commit.

And that's awesome, no question, for people who choose that. But there needs to be a little more acceptable middle ground for people who are not full-time parents but want to be someone who takes part in the raising and teaching of the next generation in whichever capacity we can. Why do you have to be a parent or formal educator to be a part of that?
posted by mochapickle at 11:06 AM on January 10


Given the rate at which human health is on average improving, and assuming that the reason for your posited peak and decline is not mass starvation or other hideous condition resulting in a massive increase in the death rate, then the only reason global population would decline would be a lower birth rate. That's a consequence of people choosing not to reproduce, not something that "would happen" regardless of that.

But people can choose not to reproduce for basically selfish reasons, and that is exactly why the birth rate decreases in prosperous countries, not because of a greater interest in the other species, other human beings, and future time periods.
posted by leopard at 11:13 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


And that's awesome, no question, for people who choose that. But there needs to be a little more acceptable middle ground for people who are not full-time parents but want to be someone who takes part in the raising and teaching of the next generation in whichever capacity we can. Why do you have to be a parent or formal educator to be a part of that?

As a parent, I'll say this: You don't have to be a parent or formal educator to be a part of that with regard to my children. You do, however, have to be someone I know and trust enough for me to be reasonably certain you're not going to mess my kids up or harm them. You don't get to just randomly approach my kids at the park or whatever and start being a part of raising and teaching my children. Sorry. And if I know you already and I still don't react well to you trying to raise and teach my kids, chances are that's because I've decided there's something about you, specifically, that I don't think makes you a good fit for the job. I have plenty of perfectly nice, great friends who I'd rather have stay away from my kids because they don't seem to have a filter on their mouth or they have crazy or harmful worldviews and personal beliefs that I'd rather not have be part of my kids' early childhood.
posted by The World Famous at 11:23 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I turned 30 two years ago, and it's interesting to watch my demographic doing this awkward shuffle into adulthood: lists like this, certain Cracked articles, LifeHacks, "Advice Duck" or whatever gets passed around are often rooted in solid ideas, but it's usually shit most of the people writing/passing them around were told by their teachers and parents growing up, but they were too busy being 'punk rawk' to listen to any of it.

I ran into this a lot at the goth clubs, where dudes in their mid/late-30s who traded their mohawks and combat boots for a cushy IT job and a ThinkGeek polo shirt tucked to their black dockers, who can't shut up about how 'freaky' they USED to be, while trying to 'brag' about how much they've "grown out" of it. Like there's this weird practice of trying to keep a toe on each side of the line by doing this weird Kabuki dance of "Yeah, I used to [lists 'punk rock' cred] when I was young, but now I [lists 'adult' cred], because DUH ASSHOLE, also dicks".

It strikes me as the over-30 version of making Vitamins fruity and shaped like cartoon characters so kids will actually take them.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:27 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


The really important lesson here is that Ron Swanson is great as a TV character but would just be kind of an asshole in real life.
posted by The World Famous at 11:35 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I think the title of this thread guaranteed its reception here. No one's mandating this or saying it will work for everyone. The people I know who live this way -- and there are a few, one of whom I had to stop and check it wasn't their name on the article, it sounded so much like them -- do seem happy and are fun to be around, and while not everything is going to work for everybody, these are suggestions, y'all. Mostly good ones. Not totally unreasonable. Take a deep breath. Everyone needs a hug.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:50 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


AVOID HUGGING. HUGGING IS FOR ASSHOLES, RICH ONES WITH LAWYERS.
posted by The World Famous at 11:53 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


The World Famous, you're definitely coming from a reasonable, loving place. I agree it'd be bizarre for complete strangers to appear out of nowhere and instantly assume they can step in.

Maybe this helps clarify: When I wrote my comments above, I was thinking about relatives who are very protective of their kids when it comes to anything that refutes their beliefs. For example, no TV shows that include gay characters. No movies that includes interracial relationships (the perfectly delightful movie Holes has been banned.) While these parents are aware I disagree, it's a tacit understanding that I don't even gently voice any objection or opinion to the contrary if I want to spend time with these kids.

There's an assumption there that because they're the parents, their teachings are unimpeachable, especially because I've never been a parent myself and therefore don't share their fears. And I don't think that's healthy.
posted by mochapickle at 11:56 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I think that starts to get into tricky territory. It's easy to disagree with parents who are protective of their kids when it comes to anything that refutes their beliefs if what they're trying to block from their home and children is something I like or agree with (like your examples). But instead of using as the example media that includes gay characters or movies with interracial relationships, what if we use the example of, say, Veggietales?

Veggietales is cleverly done and is mainstream and available right on the front page of my Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video apps on Roku. But it is produced, apparently, by Evangelical Christians who include in the stories very specific Christian doctrinal teachings, alongside the other stuff. What if I decide I don't want my kids watching certain Veggietales programming because I disagree with the religious content? (for the record, I am not Evangelical Christian and I do strongly disagree with much of Veggietales' religious content, but I let my kids watch it anyway)

To use myself as an example again, I am religious and am raising my children as active in the church of which I and my family have been members for several generations. That religion is a very big tent, doctrinally, and my personal approach to its theology is what most people would probably call very liberal and perhaps unorthodox, but we are active in the church and faithful in the manner in which I feel is appropriate justified. My children certainly do not see themselves or our family as outside the mainstream of our religion, and our religion is, I've observed, an important part of how they identify themselves.

If a friend or family member were to even gently voice any objection or opinion to my children about our family's religious practices, heritage, and beliefs as being wrong, foolish, or whatever, I would probably try to be gentle when I gave that person a warning that one more time with that and they'd be done with my kids. I have a hard time seeing my feelings in that regard as unreasonable, but maybe I'm wrong. And I don't think it would be unreasonable for an atheist friend or family member to expect me to refrain from teaching their children that God is real and that their parents are mistaken about that issue.

I'm sure there's a line to be drawn, but I think it's maybe not so easy to know just how and where to draw it.
posted by The World Famous at 12:16 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


i find it interesting to read this conversation while i have thor harris's retweets scrolling through my tiwtter feed, like this or this (which is the sort of thing i often see him retweeting). his lists like this are pretty much always tongue firmly stuck in cheek, with a heavy amount of taking the piss out of himself.
posted by nadawi at 12:39 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


This conversation would be different in tone if the FPP was about this guy's retweets. Probably about as interesting though.
posted by leopard at 2:03 PM on January 10


if you find the conversation so boring, why are you wasting your time in the thread?
posted by nadawi at 2:07 PM on January 10


That is a rather rusty axe.

Amusingly, those are the ones that need the most grinding.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:15 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


his lists like this are pretty much always tongue firmly stuck in cheek, with a heavy amount of taking the piss out of himself.

I guess I just don't understand how this is "tongue-in-cheek" or really satire, I guess, when it is identical to the things he is satirizing, basically. For me, the "don't get sick and don't get an abortion" lines aren't far enough away from things people actually advance as policy for it to be satire.

But like I said before, it's not that big a deal to me if people sincerely or ironically like the list, for whatever reason. I just don't.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:38 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Given the rate at which human health is on average improving, and assuming that the reason for your posited peak and decline is not mass starvation or other hideous condition resulting in a massive increase in the death rate, then the only reason global population would decline would be a lower birth rate. That's a consequence of people choosing not to reproduce, not something that "would happen" regardless of that.

Projections of a ~9 billion peak followed by decline is based on very large, long-term trends all over the world. There's no evidence that the slowing population growth is attributable to people saying, "Hey the world's already got too many people." There's much better evidence that it's related to economic growth, transition away from subsistence agriculture, availability of birth control, and increases in women's education.

People electing to not have children out of concern for overpopulation probably don't even merit a footnote in those trends.
posted by straight at 3:31 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Done surveys, have you?
posted by flabdablet at 7:58 PM on January 10


I'm just saying there's no evidence that it's a factor, unlike the mountain of evidence for the other factors. If you've got some evidence, I'd love to see it.
posted by straight at 10:22 AM on January 11


I take issue with it because of the privileged, limited place that intention is coming from. No one doesn't know that using condoms in certain situations will prevent pregnancy.

What is the privileged situation in which using condoms prevents pregnancy?
posted by the jam at 3:16 PM on January 11


well it assumes you've consented and that you aren't in a situation where refusing condoms changes how much money you can make (and how likely you are to be assaulted). i personally think thor harris is sensitive to these issues, but i can see how those who don't know much about him got a different idea from this list.
posted by nadawi at 4:20 PM on January 11


If paying for abortions is fucking up your life, you're basically fucked whether or not you're paying for abortions.

Same is true for basically everything on this list. Which is not to say that there isn't good advice here, but the FPP title isn't "some mediocre life advice from some dude."
posted by leopard at 6:37 PM on January 11


I don't know. I like the one about bringing flasks to shows so you can buy records. That's solid advice.
posted by naju at 7:13 PM on January 11


If you've got some evidence, I'd love to see it.

Three quarters of China - that's a billion people - remaining in favour of its notorious and controversial population control policy despite all the grief it undoubtedly causes: that somehow doesn't count as "evidence"?
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 PM on January 11


So China has a billion environmentalists concerned about the damage humanity is doing to the world? This seems at odds with burning through vast amounts of coal and completely dominating the list of the world's most polluted cities. Did the one-child policy come out of some kind of popular vote or something?
posted by leopard at 7:46 PM on January 11


This seems at odds with burning through vast amounts of coal and completely dominating the list of the world's most polluted cities only to those who believe that Chinese people must obviously be too stupid to draw the connection between those problems and the sheer numbers contributing to them.

Bear in mind that China's total energy use is roughly the same as that of the US, while its population is roughly four times the size. What would LA look like on a typical summer's day if four times as many people lived in it?
posted by flabdablet at 8:11 PM on January 11


According to the World Bank 16 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China. Here is an article from last year:
Last Thursday morning, readings near Tiananmen Square measured the concentration of PM2.5... at 469 micrograms per cubic meter... The PM2.5 levels in other famously polluted cities pale in comparison to those in Beijing; for instance, the highest PM2.5 level in a 24-period recorded in Los Angeles was 43 micrograms per cubic meter.
I don't know what to tell you, pollution levels in China are not primarily driven by its population density levels, and the lifestyles of Chinese people are not primarily driven by environmental concerns.
posted by leopard at 8:42 PM on January 11


[A couple comments deleted. Flabdablet and leopard, maybe you can continue the China discussion via email.]
posted by taz at 6:05 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Maximus Thor on making popcorn.

Maximus Thor previously.
posted by homunculus at 11:25 AM on January 24


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