You Can't Afford My Radical Life

Land Of The Before Times

As we confront the reality of COVID-19, the idea of living self-sufficiently in the woods, far from crowds and grocery stores, doesn’t sound so bad. 

From the pages of Outside magazine, the romance of the primitive:

I’m on my way to meet Lynx Vilden, a 54-year-old British expat who, for most of her adult life, has lived wholly off the grid. The slick roads don’t help my apprehension about what lies ahead: a three-day, one-on-one experience of “living wild.” The details are hazy. I’ve been advised to prepare for bracing climes and arduous excursions. “Wear sturdy shoes,” Lynx told me. “Bring meat.”

You may want to keep those last two words in mind.

I send a text message to Lynx telling her I’ll be late. Only later do I realise how presumptive this is: she doesn’t have cell service or WiFi.

Feel free to scream quietly into your sleeves.

Until about ten years ago, Lynx also possessed no credit card, nor fixed address; her previous abodes—a tepee in Arizona, yurts in Montana and New Mexico, a snow shelter on the Lappish tundra—had neither electricity nor running water.

As an attempt to glamorise primitive living, away from all those grocery stores, we aren’t, it has to be said, off to the most promising start.

This all changed when she received a modest inheritance from her mother’s estate in Britain that allowed her to purchase a remote five-acre plot some 12 miles outside Twisp.

Primitive living, it turns out, is so much easier with an inheritance. 

When I finally arrive at the property in the early afternoon, she welcomes me to her wooded outpost wearing hand-stitched leathers. She heats her 900-square-foot log cabin—also the handiwork of the prior owners—by tending a wood-burning stove.

Again, if you’re into Stone Age role-play, then spare cash and pre-built property, complete with solar panels, power outlets and rudimentary plumbing, does seem rather handy, perhaps a prerequisite. Such that our fearless disdainer of modernity can “divide her time” flying between continents as mood suits, from Sweden to France’s Dordogne Valley and back to the mountains of Washington, USA. It’s the prehistoric way.

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Solid Foundations

Dan Butler, 29, a radio journalist, and his husband, Hugh O’Connor, 31, a theatre production designer, are also in a relationship with Charles Davis, 28, another theatre production designer.

Heh. Sorry, mustn’t laugh. I denounce myself. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the above is from the Guardian’s ‘Lifestyle’ section, where polyamory – or glorified slutting by emotional inadequates – is still the latest thing and breathlessly endorsed. It starts off quite romantically: 

[Dan and Hugh] met as students at a party… And then the night was over, and Dan was one of the last people there. He said: ‘Goodbye, Hugh.’ And I thought: ‘Oh my God. I have no idea what this guy’s name is. I really like him.’”

Ah, bless.

They moved in with each other after about two months, and held an unofficial wedding in 2014, before same-sex marriage in Australia was legal. They legalised their marriage in 2018… “I remember feeling the happiest I’d ever felt with Dan,” says Hugh.  

So far, so rosy. Readers should note, however, that, despite all this professed happiness, Dan and Hugh’s marriage was an “open” one “from the start,” which is to say, not really a marriage at all. The misuse of terms, in attempts to repackage dissatisfaction, inadequacy and commonplace grubbiness, may crop up again.

“And then when we met Charlie. It was like this extension of a really positive energy.”

For instance.

Charles also had a boyfriend, but that, too, was an open relationship,

Why, it’s almost as if there were a pattern, a trajectory. 

I remember one morning, the three of us had just gone to the beach and Hugh had a meeting, so Dan and I drove Hugh back to the studio. And then Dan drove me back to my suburb and dropped me off. I think he leaned in and kissed me. We were parked outside my apartment block and I looked across the street and saw my boyfriend.

Those golden romantic moments, to treasure forever.

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Modern Love

From the realm of woke sophistication that is New York magazine:

What It’s Like to Isolate With Your Girlfriend and Her Other Boyfriend.

Or, put another way,

As the coronavirus forces millions of Americans to practice social distancing and stay in their homes, relationships are being put to the test… The situation is even more complicated when you’re staying inside not just with your partner, but with your partner’s partner as well.

To illustrate this terribly progressive lifestyle arrangement, we’re introduced to a Brooklynite comedian and podcaster named Billy, his girlfriend Megan, and his girlfriend Megan’s other boyfriend Kyle.

This is Billy’s first polyamorous relationship, and while he doesn’t know his metamour Kyle that well, he says he’s doing his best to respect his space.

Yes, metamour. Other descriptive choices are available.

Quizzed on the indoor celebrations of Meghan’s birthday, Billy says,

We didn’t get to do too much. We watched some TV shows, we smoked weed, I gave her some birthday sexual lovin’. 

I’m assuming there’s some kind of rota system. Perhaps a pecking order.

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I’ve Been A Bad Girl

In racial-dominatrix news:

Why liberal white women pay a lot of money to learn over dinner how they’re racist.

Says the Guardian

A growing number of women are paying to confront their privilege – and racism – at dinners that cost $2,500… A frank discussion is led by co-founders Regina Jackson, who is black, and Saira Rao, who identifies as Indian American. They started Race to Dinner to challenge liberal white women to accept their racism, however subconscious.

“However subconscious.” Pretentious guilt is, one suspects, billable too.

The women who sign up for these dinners are not who most would see as racist. They are well-read and well-meaning. They are mostly Democrats. Some have adopted black children, many have partners who are people of colour, some have been doing work towards inclusivity and diversity for decades. 

Which, on reflection, might explain quite a lot.

Rao and Jackson believe white, liberal women are the most receptive audience because they are open to changing their behaviour. They don’t bother with the 53% of white women who voted for Trump. White men, they feel, are similarly a lost cause.

Those doubting, damnable souls. The ones who can’t be hustled.

Jackson and Rao have hardly been able to take a break since they started these dinners in the spring of 2019. So far, 15 dinners have been held in big cities across the US.

It turns out that quite a few well-heeled ladies of the left are keen to be denounced over dinner as “part of the problem,” warned against having “unmonitored thoughts,” and told to “own their racism,” whether real or imagined, in what amounts to a niche, and rather perverse, status game. If it sounds self-preoccupied and a tad neurotic, that’s because it is:

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Don’t Oppress My People With Your Norms Of Punctuality

From Tulane University, the very heart of White Devil Babylon - uptown New Orleans - student Shahamat Uddin - pronouns “he, him, his” - howls in protest:

Punctuality centres whiteness. It is far easier for white men to get to work on time than Black people who are having to change their hair to fit the workplace’s professionalism standards. 

It’s a hair thing, yes, and therefore terribly political, a hill to die on. But it’s even more than that. It’s also the devastating suspicion that you might be more likely to get hired if you remove your nose piercing, if only during office hours:

I remember the cultural pride I felt when I got my gold studded nose piercing, admiring my ancestors who donned the same kind of jewellery. I take it out now because I know I need a job, and I have learned from the Brown and Black people before me what I have to sacrifice to get one.

You see, wondering whether that nose piercing will be frowned upon, by employers or their customers, constitutes “systemic white supremacy,” a crushing phenomenon “that is barring us from maximal success.” It’s a “sacrifice,” an outrage, proof of being downtrodden. Because nose jewellery is pivotal to both optimal functioning and mental wellbeing. And questions of whether such piercings are ideal for a given workplace - however unspecified and theoretical those questions may be - amount to further, damning proof that “this country was not made for me.”

I have learned when and where it is to my own disadvantage to be too Brown or too gay or too immigrant. 

One more time, Tulane University. Where tuition is a mere $60,000 a year. And where the oppressed huddle for comfort against the Cold Winds of Whiteness.

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Our Betters In Love (2)

Further to this recent tale of aching tenderness, it’s time for another visit to the pages of Slate, where our progressive betters mull the quandaries of modern living:  

I’m a woman in my mid-30s, and I’ve identified as asexual and aromantic basically forever. A few months ago, something changed, and I experienced sexual attraction for the first time, 

Ah, a sexual blossoming.

I’m kind of touch-averse, 

Albeit complicated.

I befriended a man online. We were a little flirty right from the start, but I drew a hard line in the sand because he’s (unhappily) married, and that’s very much against my moral code. 

Thank goodness for moral codes.

Our relationship escalated during this time and turned sexual (still just over text or online).

That hard line in the sand.

As we go further, though, I’m starting to wonder if I’m a terrible person for encouraging and enabling this man to cheat on his wife, just because he treats me in a way that no one else ever has. He tells me I’m beautiful and desirable and values me so much more than I am often able to value myself.

Yeah, screw the wife. I got mine and now I’m hot, baby.

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Our Betters In Love

Let’s turn to the pages of Slate, where left-leaning sophisticates mull the issues of the day. Among which, an obvious question for the woke and well-adjusted:

I (35, male) started dating someone (33, female) recently that I’ve really enjoyed connecting with and have found a higher level of chemistry with than anyone else I’ve dated. It’s exciting and has given me a chance to imagine a stable future with someone, something I’ve struggled to imagine in the past.

Ah, bless. And just in time for the holidays. Brings a tear to the eye.

But there’s something else that’s new for me this year that complicates things: I’ve started seeing sex workers.

At risk of seeming drearily conventional, the words stable future have suddenly taken on an ironic tinge. Still, the headline is memorable:

Do I Have to Tell My New Girlfriend I’m Going to Keep Seeing Sex Workers?

And hey, give the guy credit. He does a pretty good rhetorical dance:

To be clear, I’ve attempted to pursue it in the most ethical manner possible, being careful to consider everyone’s safety and consent. The moral issue of sex buying is a serious one for me, but one that I’ve ultimately come to believe can be ethical in the right context.

How immensely surprising.

I believe seeing a sex worker can make me a better partner. Not unlike seeing a therapist.


seeing a sex worker allows me to focus on myself.

Which, to date, has apparently been a struggle.

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You Can’t Afford My Radical Life

Belatedly, and via pst314 in the comments, Rob Henderson on luxury beliefs and conspicuous convictions:

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education. Only academics educated at elite institutions could have conjured up a coherent and reasonable-sounding argument for why parents should not be allowed to raise their kids and should hold baby lotteries instead. When an affluent person advocates for drug legalisation, or anti-vaccination policies, or open borders, or loose sexual norms, or uses the term “white privilege,” they are engaging in a status display. They are trying to tell you, “I am a member of the upper class.”

Affluent people promote open borders or the decriminalisation of drugs because it advances their social standing, not least because they know that the adoption of those policies will cost them less than others. The logic is akin to conspicuous consumption—if you’re a student who has a large subsidy from your parents and I do not, you can afford to waste $900 and I can’t, so wearing a Canada Goose jacket is a good way of advertising your superior wealth and status. Proposing policies that will cost you as a member of the upper class less than they would cost me serve the same function. Advocating for open borders and drug experimentation are good ways of advertising your membership of the elite because, thanks to your wealth and social connections, they will cost you less than me.

Unfortunately, the luxury beliefs of the upper class often trickle down and are adopted by people lower down the food chain, which means many of these beliefs end up causing social harm.

Take polyamory. I had a revealing conversation recently with a student at an elite university. He said that when he sets his Tinder radius to five miles, about half of the women, mostly other students, said they were “polyamorous” in their bios. Then, when he extended the radius to 15 miles to include the rest of the city and its outskirts, about half of the women were single mothers. The costs created by the luxury beliefs of the former are borne by the latter. Polyamory is the latest expression of sexual freedom championed by the affluent. They are in a better position to manage the complications of novel relationship arrangements. And if these relationships don’t work out, they can recover thanks to their financial capability and social capital. The less fortunate suffer by adopting the beliefs of the upper class. 

Needless to say, many of the issues raised by Mr Henderson have, over the years, been given a chewing here. From the unconvincing contrarian Laurie Penny and her suboptimal lifestyle advice, and the naked hypocrisies of Simon Schama and Clive Stafford Smith, to our mulling of the 1970s sitcom The Good Life, supposedly a moral lodestone for the modern anti-capitalist.

Elsewhere (295)

Rod Dreher on Bad Whitey, Corrupter Of All Things: 

In New Jersey, two high school boys stand accused of racially harassing and intimidating four younger black girls. The accused are of South Asian (Indian) descent. You might think that this ugly display is a reminder that the sin of racism is a universal part of the fallen human condition. You would be wrong, according to Princeton historian Nell Irvin Painter. Writing in the New York Times, the L’Osservatore Romano of the Cult of Social Justice, Painter tells us that it’s really whitey’s fault… Even when racist harassers are brown-skinned, they’re really white, and their alleged actions are the fault of white people… I remind you that this racist screed was written by a Princeton professor, writing on the op-ed page of the most important newspaper in the world.

You see, when members of one racial minority assault and degrade members of another racial minority, they are, we’re told, merely “enacting American whiteness,” something seemingly akin to demonic possession. This, and only this, is apparently “what matters.” Such, then, are the standards of Princeton employees.

And Steve Salerno on woke education - and mediocrity for all: 

It should be apparent that implementing [‘Social-Emotional Learning Theory’] necessarily presupposes some dilution of the traditional nuts-and-bolts curriculum — the diversion of finite class time to topics and methodologies that have nothing to do with mastering, say, long division. The gurus of SEL make no apologies for this. Rather, as [New York mayor, Bill] de Blasio insists in his Fortune piece, “These are hard skills... just like reading and math, that must be taught, practised, and strengthened over time.” SEL’s unflinching emphasis on the so-called “non-cognitive factors” in cognition is bad news for all supporters of no-nonsense education — that is, the kind that doesn’t encourage students to devote class time to communicating their current emotional status to their peers via emojis, as has happened in some SEL implementations. 

Because the way to encourage mastery of a subject is to do away with red-pen corrections, which are “stigmatising,” and to embrace “individual” spelling - as opposed to the stuffy and outdated kind, with its rules and whatnot, and thus the possibility of being wrong. Presumably, on grounds that being precise, articulate and in possession of one’s thoughts – or just knowing the difference between ask and axe - is terribly racist.

Update, via the comments:

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Preening Interruptus

Or, Call It A Counter-Protest.

Lifted from the comments and further to recent rumblings, a safe space is violated.

“What is wrong with you?” they ask. 

Says Joan,

We’re going to see a lot more of this. Good.

It seems to me that these ladies actually got off lightly. If you choose to block the roads, determined to needlessly frustrate hundreds, even thousands, of people, just so you can indulge in some in-group preening, while ordering drivers to walk, then you should expect some physical push-back from the people on whose freedoms and imperatives you’ve chosen to piss. Because, hey, sabotaging attempts to get to jobs, airports and doctor’s appointments, while impeding emergency vehicles and thereby endangering lives, is such a lark, baby.

Acts of planned and gratuitous aggression, including narcissistic aggression – which is what these ‘protests’ are - should be treated accordingly. It’s important that these cossetted pinheads, so gorged on their own sense of entitlement, learn to fear those on whom they recreationally impose themselves. Their expectations of impunity should be shattered. Along with the conceit that the way to make people sympathetic with your cause, whatever it may be this week, is to screw them over - because you can - while applauding yourself for doing so.


Despite the pretence of martyrdom and claims by the participants that they “do not enjoy” exerting power over random passers-by - or would-be passers-by - it seems quite obvious that personal gratification is by no means incidental. These disruptions and obstructions – forcibly immobilising large numbers of people - are very much recreational, a rush of ego, as bullying often is. Now imagine being so privileged, so removed from normal concerns, that being arrested is a form of recreation, a leisure activity, a way to impress your peer group and accrue status.

If your go-to solution, your preferred mode of expression, is to frustrate and harass random people who are just trying to get to work, or to get home – and you do this while feeling enormously self-satisfied about your own imagined radicalism – then this tells us very little about the world or any purported cause. It does, however, tell us quite a bit about what kind of tosser you are.

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