September 2, 2007

Getting in touch with "nature" is boring

There is nothing -- NOTHING -- to do in my adoptive city on weekends, despite this being a town with probably 20,000 students and plenty of 20 and 30-somethings. The alcohol laws are so bizarre that they make it impossible for any respectable form of bar or nightclub to exist. Needless to say, then, going out to dance is out of the question. It's no surprise this city scored pitifully on a recent list of the best places to be young. It's safe, and the weather is great, but god, is it drab. These things obviously do not conflict on a causal level; only in the US does "safe" correlate with "boring." There are plenty of ethnically homogenous, safe European cities with good weather where people have lots to do for fun.

What most people here do to unwind over the weekend is "get in touch with nature" -- to load up their car to go hiking, rockclimbing, skiing, and so on. I've never understood this perverse fascination with the unnatural that masquerades as "getting back to the simple life." These activities are what Black comedians would likely call Crazy White People Sports. I'm sure there are clubs for rockclimbers, mountain hikers, and bungee-jumpers, and I doubt you'd find a single Black member. For that matter, I doubt you'd find many southern Europeans either.

One reason is simply that these are dangerous activities -- therefore, not natural, unless there's some expected survival or reproductive payoff, like getting into a fight to protect your wife or hunting ferocious animals to win prestige and have something to eat. The other reason is that these activities are incredibly solitary, allowing only a minute here or there to socialize or otherwise interact as a team. Contrast these with getting together with a group for dinner, having a drink, going out to dance, and maybe socializing some more afterward. Now that's natural fun. What culture, whether primitive or modern, does not follow some form of this pattern for cutting loose?

About the only congregating I've noticed so far consists of the ubiquitous skateboard dudes practicing their tricks in certain hot spots, although always with no girls around. What a waste. The people are nice enough, and certainly seem willing to have fun -- there's just nothing to do. It almost makes me wish I was "back East," although there the nightlife is OK but lots of the people are jerks and bitches. Barcelona had the best nightlife and also nice people, but American schools are better.

Damn it, why can't we just decide what part of the world is going to have it all, and just move everything there? (If you answer New York, watch me laugh.) It wouldn't matter where, aside from climate considerations, but just as long as it didn't force you to choose between work and fun. If the European schools get their act together, Paris would be a top contender -- they've already done the really hard work of building a solid civilization and trying to perfect the art of leisure. The academic world can be transplanted across the globe within a single generation (just look at the WWII-era emigres to the US), so that's not going to be the hard part. It really should be based more on which cities are culturally and socially superior. Any other nominations?


  1. Black comedians sure get a pass at mocking whites. And what rich material do they work with? "Extreme sports" that exist in SUV commercials more than they do in real life, and the crowd-favorite: white guys dancing.

    If any white comedian could unload with a similar pass at mocking blacks in front of an appreciative audience ..... ooh boy!

  2. Hiking is not dangerous. I know this sounds trite, but getting out into nature really can be a great feeling, and hiking's an easy way to do it. Mountain biking is another option. It's the sort of thing that might result in a few bumps and bruises, but isn't "dangerous" in a life-threatening sense. Even rock climbing is remarkably safe if you get proper instruction and take reasonable precautions.

  3. Golf dude. It's like the greatest sport ever. Lazy, very social if you go with mates, you can drink, you get better at it in an incredibly satisfying, gradual manner, and you will spend the rest of the work-week dreaming of the green course. You've obviously got a high spatial IQ, I think that would help with ball distance judgment etc

  4. While I'm rather dubious about extreme sports, particularly those that involve investing thousands of dollars in gear, might I suggest that you're projecting a bit here? After all, Scandanavia is reknowned for its great nightclubs and fashion sense, yet virtually the entire population goes camping, hiking or fishing at least once during the summer months.

    Also, while I don't contest that southern and central Italy are not into rustic adventures, there's no lack of recreational hikers in the Tyrol. It may be a function of terrain and climate here. It's nicer to go out hiking in the Alps than in the hot dry countryside of Andalusia.

    As for women... well there is something to be said for ones that have an appriciation for a nice sunny spot in the isolated mountains.

  5. I only like to experience nature if I'm going to shoot some of it.

  6. agnostic, where did you end up moving to?

  7. "Scandanavia is reknowned for its great nightclubs and fashion sense

    Really? At least here in Sweden we think of ourselves as a backwater. Concerning fashion, Swedes, both men and women, are thought to be really bad dressers. (But then we consider ourselves really bad everything: we have a serious national inferiority complex.)

    As for extreme sports: I suppose jumping off a cliff is likely to give you a kick, right?

  8. I'm in the Mountain Time Zone (but not Denver -- I hear there are things to do there).

  9. Also, the "extreme sports" may not be frequent among real-life Whites, but then 10-inch penises aren't at all common among Blacks either. However, the overrepresentation of one group in the tail of a distribution suggests that there is an appreciable gap in the means.

    Comedians understand this statistical argument very well -- one of the few mathematically clueless groups that has a good intuition all the same. Probably because they deal with capturing reality: too outta whack, and no one will buy it, and they'll get no laughs, and hence no food or shelter.

  10. Maybe Northern European populations enjoy "getting back to nature" more than other peoples because we're more introverted. You cite the fact that there's only a few minutes of human interaction even in the "group" activities. But as an introvert, I think that's great.

  11. As someone who, at significant cost (not just economic), moved away from the metro to avoid the things you pine for, I can't help but take umbrage!

    Come on, could there be anything more predictably boring than going to a nightclub? No doubt this gets right at the heart of one's level of extroversion. Well, you're (likely) in a demographic dominated by people of northern European descent--what were you expecting?

    A dance club setting isn't exactly natural, either. Anxiety rises from the decidedly unnatural close proximity to so many unknowns, which is why alcohol is almost required to lower the tension, and yet also why disorderly conduct is more common than at just about any other legal social outing.

    If I want a good fight--perversely, the only thing that approaches excitement in a nightclub--I'll go see a little UF or get my gloves. There are enough places I can go recreationally for that.

    Surrounded by people of modest intelligence, further handicapped by some sort of intoxicant, where the environs are too populated (a situation that almost always leads to the conversational bar plummeting to the lowest common nick) and too noisy for anything stimulating anyway.

    If it's promiscuious sex you're after, well, you're in a college town. There are these things called freshmen girls for that, if you feel so inclined.

    As far as physical activity is concerned, a cramped nightclub can't compare to the dual anaerobic/aerobic full body workout of a climb, the lung strech of hill sprints, or the thigh pumping of biking up a mountain. The last is particularly anything but boring. In Boulder, I went three hours up and thirty minutes down. Cathartic, and then exhilirating. To sound trite, you can learn a lot about yourself thus.

  12. agnostic, are you part latino? all the latinos i know can't stand to be without the company of other people for long.

    DC does not have a lot of nature escapes that are less than an hour's drive away. there's great falls and... that's about it.

  13. Oh c'mon people. Now I'm about as introverted as they get -- but even I want to cut loose and socialize and dance some of the time rather than never!

    You only have a small amount of real "free time" -- why continue being solitary. That's incorrigibly introverted.

    Nightclubs of whatever type are certainly more natural than hiking. If it's a particularly sleazy one, well, that's like a lek. Plenty of those in human cultures, not to mention in other animal societies.

    If it's a respectable one -- just ask around to find out which ones these are -- then it's scarcely different from a church dance or equivalent common social gathering with dancing and merriment in any culture.

    Roissy -- I'm 1/4 French, but that's as Latin as I am. I normally prefer being left alone, unlike Latinos, but when the time is right, then I can't stand being alone with nothing to do.

  14. Washington DC isn't too bad. Southeast Asia is pretty fun also.

    Nightclubs have existed in some form of the other for most of human history. From dancing around the fire 10,000 years ago to the noisy whorehouse frequented by politician and plebian, there has always been venues catering to the need for people to find mates. Agnostic just happens to be somewhere that is too religious.

  15. agnostic,

    I don't get you at all. Several months ago, you castigate people over 25 years old who like to go out and nightlife party. Now your castigating people who like to do outdoor sports. Outdoor sports and urban nightlife are the polar opposites of recreational activities. If you think we should not do either of these, what the hell else does one do to enjoy life?

    Surely you are not suggesting that we all become workaholics (all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy).

    I like both urban nightlife AND outdoor sports. Fortunately, I live in the Pacific Northwest where I can have both.

    I also disagree with you on your definition of "growing up". Growing up means one and only one thing to me: accepting responsibility for one's life and choices and being self-reliant. No other definition of growing up is relevant here.

    I enjoy kayaking, scuba diving, and hobie cat sailing. I also enjoy clubbing and night life partying. I also enjoy international travel as well (as part of my work in selling into the Asian semiconductor fab markets). I consider myself to be more accomplished than 90-95% of the North American population.

    Are you still going to insist that I am not "grown up" because I refuse to sink into the vegetative state of middle-age mediocrity?

  16. I was castigating people for not wanting to grow up and look for a long-term mate, as opposed to devoting one's free time to libertinage.

    There's nothing debauched per se about someone who likes going out to have a drink and dance. The p-o-v that there is, is just puritanism.

    So, I'm not complaining that there aren't any sleazy clubs where I can feel up some drunken slut. Rather, that there is nowhere to let loose in a social, exciting way at all. The only things resembling them are frathouses and their parties -- but that's worse than a sleazy club, which at least has bouncers to expel the gropers and pukers.

  17. Marrage is not for everyone. Having kids is definitely not for everyone.

    I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the only legitimate definition of "grown up" is someone who accepts responsibility for their own life and actions.

    You are correct that many "adults" are not real grown ups. But this does not correlate with participation in obviously artifical institutions such as "marrage" and the like.

  18. I like the quotation marks around "marriage". Though speaking honestly I found John T. Kennedy's rants on/against the subject rather convincing.

  19. tggp,

    I have more life experience than most people I know. I have lived in various Asian countries for half of my adult life (and speak Japanese). I have IQ significantly above the norm (and master degree) and have several patents in thin film materials (work done in Japan) and significant start-up experience. Given my background,
    I have my act and my life together enough that I don't need any paternalistic societal rule telling me that I have to get married or do X, when I am not into these things for myself.

    I have always hated the liberal-left because of their economic paternalism. However, I am coming to depise the non-libertarian right because of their paternalism. I consider any form of paternalism to be quite insulting.

    Intelligent, internally driven people do not need any paternalism in their lives. Save it for the screw-ups who can't manage their lives on thier own.

  20. If you can't find what you want in or near New York City, you're a fool.

  21. "If you can't find what you want in or near New York City, you're a fool."

    Affordable housing?

    Seriously, I would like to ask Dusk in Autumn where he grew up. As a big-city boy myself, I find nature dull and unpleasant, and suspect it may have something to do with subconsciously seeking 'familiar' surroundings.

  22. I nominate Amsterdam


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