They never learn

Just in time to get burned again:

As a historic bull market reaches its second birthday, everyday investors are piling back into stocks, finally ready for more risk and hoping the rally has further to go. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has almost doubled since March 9, 2009, when it hit a 12-year low after the financial crisis. And the Dow Jones industrials are back above 12,000, about 2,000 points shy of their all-time high.

Little-guy investors appear to be on board. Since the beginning of the year, investors have put $24.2 billion into U.S. stock mutual funds, according to the Investment Company Institute. They withdrew $96.7 billion in 2010.

The March 2009 rally has certainly lasted longer than I thought it would, but I very much doubt it has much more left in the tank given that valuation ratios are higher than they were in 2000 and the strong hands are passing on stocks to the weak ones. With QE2 winding down, consumer credit growth coming entirely from the federal student loan industry. Karl Denninger notes:

This is one of the most-outrageous abuses I’ve ever seen perpetrated on anyone. It radically exceeds anything done to the subprime and ALT-A borrowers in that the young adults abused by this practice are by definition simply due to age and experience ill-equipped to understand what they’re getting into. They are relying on the adults advising them, from High School and College counselors to “Financial Aid” officers and their parents. To put a number on this abuse the cumulative damage inflicted on our youth between the first of 2009 and January of 2011, just two short years, is almost two hundred and twenty-four billion dollars.

Very little of that expanded credit is going to be paid back. And it can’t be defaulted, which means that the interest payments are going to cripple consumer spending from 2009 forward. With the market up, the positive GDP numbers and declining U3 unemployment, I understand why the unsophisticated buy into the recovery story. But it’s all a credit-inflated illusion and the illusion isn’t going to last much longer.

How much longer? I couldn’t possibly say with any degree of certainty. But back in 2008, I warned of coming problems in March. So, if the pattern repeats, the problems should come to a head in September.

Of orcs and "alphas"

While I tend to roll my eyes at alphas and their burning need to have their social superiority recognized, I don’t see fit to falsely denigrate them. They may not be the brightest collection of men on the planet, but neither are they orcs. They don’t have green skin and they certainly don’t ride warpigs. This is why I never cease to find it amusing how men who are new to the theory of Game and don’t know the first thing about it are so prone to triumphantly declaring themselves an alpha… or even “a natural alpha“.

Also, DJ has contributed his first post to Alpha Game, which is an intriguing application of Game to his workplace.

UPDATE: RM has contributed his first post as well. He is an omega, and I defy any man to read his story without feeling some sense of empathy or admitting that Game is more than a cheap trick for pick-up artists to use on barsluts. In some cases it has the potential, in a very literal and material sense, to be a lifesaver.

The temples of Reason crumble

David Brooks explains, though only in part, why enlightenment humanism has failed:

We had a financial regime based on the notion that bankers are rational creatures who wouldn’t do anything stupid en masse. For the past 30 years we’ve tried many different ways to restructure our educational system — trying big schools and little schools, charters and vouchers — that, for years, skirted the core issue: the relationship between a teacher and a student.

I’ve come to believe that these failures spring from a single failure: reliance on an overly simplistic view of human nature. We have a prevailing view in our society — not only in the policy world, but in many spheres — that we are divided creatures. Reason, which is trustworthy, is separate from the emotions, which are suspect. Society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions….

[The present] body of research suggests the French enlightenment view of human nature, which emphasized individualism and reason, was wrong. The British enlightenment, which emphasized social sentiments, was more accurate about who we are. It suggests we are not divided creatures. We don’t only progress as reason dominates the passions. We also thrive as we educate our emotions.

Brooks is looking in the right direction, but he’s not looking far enough. Man is not merely an emotional being, but a spiritual one. He seeks purpose and meaning in addition to happiness and joy. A new humanism that attempts to incorporate emotion into its rationalist models will certainly improve upon the dreadful performance of the previous models, but is still going to fall considerably short of effectiveness as the continued failure of utilitarianism in all its various permutations demonstrates.

The humanist model of the British enlightenment is certainly superior to the French one. But so long as humanists cling stubbornly to their dogmatic secularism, in the face of an increasing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the superiority of the religious models in terms of health, demographics, societal stability, and human happiness, even their improved models of human behavior are doomed to certain failure.

I have pointed out many times before that man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing creature. Man’s behavior cannot be understood or reliably anticipated until both his rationalizations and his purposes in concocting those rationalizations are reasonably understood.

A lesson in equality

In which coma girl teaches an object lesson in equality and the wisdom of not initiating physical violence:

A father-of-two accused of punching a woman so hard in a dispute over a parking space that she now she lays in a coma is claiming that she threw the first punch, and that he was acting in self-defence. The altercation took place on February 25 when 4ft 11in, 100 pound Lana Rosas, 25, was standing in the space she was saving for her boyfriend on 14th street in New York’s East Village and refused to let 35-year-old, 150-pound Oscar Fuller park there. The argument that followed left Rosas lying in the street unconscious with blood pouring from her mouth. She has been in a coma at Bellevue Hospital ever since the February 25 incident….

Manhattan prosecutors said in court papers that Fuller hit Rosas ‘with so much force that the woman flew off of her feet, was knocked unconscious and hit her head on the ground.’

Obviously, there is no way to know exactly what happened unless there is security camera footage, but if Fuller’s version of events is accurate, he deserves to be fully exonerated and Rosas should be charged with assault upon her recovery. Assuming that Fuller was, in fact, attacked by the woman and punched several times in the face, he did absolutely nothing wrong or illegal in throwing a single punch at his attacker, however hard it might have been. No one feels any sympathy for a smaller man who is dumb enough to start a fight he can’t finish and there should be absolutely none for a woman who does exactly the same thing. Conversely, if Fuller punched Rosas for simply attempting to hold the parking place, he should be found guilty of the count charged. But the fact that he is only facing a single count of second-degree assault despite the seriousness of the woman’s injuries tends to indicate that at least part of Fuller’s story is supported by the evidence.

And for all those would-be women warriors out there, notice that this was a relatively fair fight between the sexes as Fuller is a little guy who only outweighed Rosas by 50 pounds. It’s not as if he was a 250-pound construction worker; if he had been, Rosas would likely be dead already. Tough girl posturing and fantasies about female martial prowess notwithstanding, women simply are not capable of winning serious physical altercations with men, even with men who are physically smaller than they are. Ignorance has consequences and the consequences can be deadly.

The way to prevent these sorts of stupid tragedies from taking place is not to continue attempting to brainwash boys with outdated nonsense by telling them “you should never hit a girl”. All that does is to destroy adult credibility in young male eyes as boys will inevitably notice that despite all the equality talk, girls are very seldom punished for hitting them, even when unprovoked. The answer is to teach everyone, boys and girls alike, not to initiate physical violence. Both men and women must understand that no one has any right to attack another individual without the expectation of facing violent retaliation.

The more distasteful that a woman finds the idea of men beating down women in response to being attacked, the more she should be committed to telling women not to attack men. After all, how hard is it to not physically attack someone, especially someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you are? It is long past time for women to understand that they lost the privilege to be considered off-limits to retaliatory violence the moment they collectively demanded legal equality with men.