Friday, December 13, 2013

Make Deals, Not War

George Carlin had many unfunny pseudobits about "businesscriminals," but this one is probably the worst:

"They don't even trust each other. When a businessman sits down to negotiate a deal, the first thing he does is to automatically assume that the other guy is a complete lying prick who's trying to fuck him out of his money, so he's gotta do everything he can to fuck the other guy a little bit faster and a little bit harder."

I have heard rants with the same spirit from other comedians, and often when I'm at a party - especially post-credit crisis - someone corners me and stumbles his way through a feckless sermon on the evil world of negotiated transactions. Bargaining, negotiating, dealmaking, and guys in suits sporting briefcases have long been safe targets of scorn for artists and wannabe artists alike.

The alternative to bargaining is brute force. If you think the world is violent and unequal now, imagine a world where a 110-pound woman was not assumed to be able to negotiate with a 300-pound-man to get what she was after. She would lose every time. Thankfully, homo sapiens negotiate most of the time, or else the pipsqueaks among us would very quickly go extinct.

Speaking of preventing extinction, flirtation is negotiation. When you flirt, you are bargaining to get someone to give you her number, sleep with you, and so on. The alternative to this negotiation, clubbing her and dragging her back to your cave, seems uncouth in comparison. If we eliminated this form of negotiation, chivalry would be dead, along with a lot of women. We'd see commercials telling us: "Every six seconds a woman isn't negotiated with."

A handful of the countries that took brave stands against bargaining:

Soviet Union
North Korea
Red China
East Germany

You may have noticed their cups failed to overfloweth. Plenty of people died trying to sneak into West Germany. I don't recall too many West Germans trying to break into East Germany. Surprising, since in East Germany bargaining was eliminated and everything was free!!! Negotiationless North Korea also doesn't seem to have much of an illegal immigration problem. And I don't remember hordes of people defecting to the non-negotiation countenancing Soviet Union, but that's probably my bourgeois pig brain lying to me.

Desires and wants are bottomless. Everyone wants everything all the time. As we go to print, no one has yet invented a magic wand that can make whatever we want appear free of charge. If you're upset about this, email your complaints to Isaac Newton. Bargaining allows us to at least get some of the things we want without having to resort to outright banditry.

It is an extraordinary irony that many of these anti-negotiation "progressives" are also anti-"bullying." Negotiation, not bumper stickers denouncing bullying, is what keeps bullying from being the first resort in every human exchange. Without an expectation of negotiation, the Biggest and Baddest would simply stomp you and take everything you had. The big fish really would eat the little ones. Get rid of negotiation, and the only folks who will have food and shelter will be MMA fighters, NFL linebackers, and Ted Nugent.

Anti-negotiation hipster nerds certainly wouldn't do well in an all brute force world. Funny how everyone always assumes they'd be on the winning side of their fantasy revolutions (guess that's why they're called fantasies). But anyway, in the spirit of tolerance, we should give these crybabies a week of exposure to the No Negotiation World they want. This experiment would also serve their desire to "return to nature," as a week without negotiation would leave them naked, homeless, and starving.

Negotiate your way through my Tweets:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why saying "I do" makes you stop doing

A gripe that is familiar to many: "Our relationship was great until we got married."

Why does getting married change relationships for the worse?

During each of the steps leading up to marriage - traveling together, meeting the family, living together - you are on your best behavior. You're doing all those appealing things with the goal of being deemed a partner worthy of marriage. Then you get married, so you are no longer aiming for marriage. You cease to be on your best behavior; wearing your best clothes, going to the gym, going the extra mile in every way. You have crossed the finish line, so you stop running.

Before you tie the knot, the relationship benefits from constant oneupsmanship. Your partner jogs, so you start jogging. Your partner is generous in bed, so you try to be generous in bed. You are constantly trying to keep up with your partner so that she will remain interested. It is a romantic arms race...a bit like the Cold War, only in this case the end result IS World War III.

Once you're married, the tendency is to rest on your laurels, because in theory, marriage is permanent and you're no longer competing with half the species to win your partner's heart. You think you have a monopoly on her love, and predictably, you become a worse product. You let your hair down, and in doing so, let your spouse down.

Now with divorce being so common and cheating discussed so openly, maybe people will wake up to the fact that they absolutely must try to excel in every way, or else their ladyfriend will hastily find someone who hasn't yet achieved all his goals with her. It could be that the answer to divorce is high divorce rates.

My Twitter feed hasn't let itself go:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why bald people don't have chips on their shoulder (only lost hairs)

Bald people seem better adjusted than fat people; far less hung up on their cosmetic shortcoming. Toupees and hairplugs exist, but the bulging lack of confidence seen in fat people seriously outweighs that of your average bald man.

I think this is because when you're a kid - the time when you're the most vulnerable, the time when you're ridiculed the most, the time that seems to haunt people forever - you have hair. You aren't branded the bald kid in gym class, the bald kid on the bus, the bald kid standing alone in the corner during the prom. The enfeebling insults kids absorb during their school years don't include names like "baldie" because no one goes bald during their school years. The insults you endure at 25 don't twist your self-image the way they do at 15, and at 15, you still have hair.

And as you age, most of your peers go bald too, so there isn't the same bell curve for hair that there is for weight among school kids. Most of your peers also gain weight, but it is usually easy to distinguish between the people who were fat in school and got fatter in adulthood from the people who were thin in school and became fat as adults.

But all is not lost for our obese friends. You can lose weight as you enter adulthood and greatly upgrade your place in the cosmetic pecking order. But for bald guys, once those first few hairs abandon ship, you are officially past your prime. Better hope there are some big girls left for you to target.

My Twitter feed is still thin and sporting a pompadour:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Public Displays of Anger and Affection

Two things people don't like: stand-up comedy that is genuinely angry, and public displays of affection.

Plenty of comedians play angry. They throw on the angry comedian costume - leather jacket, Marlboro, imitation snarl - so the crowd knows they mean business! They really are mad about the twist-off caps on cough syrup bottles!

But it is all just a game, and the crowd knows it. That comic in the angry comic costume isn't truly angry any more than an impersonator in an Elvis costume is really Elvis. That is why they laugh; because they know the anger is all make-believe.

Comedy crowds can't handle real anger, so a comedian who shows too many flashes of the real thing usually bombs. Famously "angry" comics like Kinison found ways to codify their anger into signature moves that could signal "anger" without showcasing the authentic anger that kills the mood. Lesson from Comedy 101: Don't Callback in Anger.

People also can't stand public displays of affection. "Get a room!" is a typical taunt to couples who make their feelings too obvious. Yet those righteous "Get a room!" hecklers will pay to tearfully watch a syrupy romantic comedy about a Bedouin who falls in a sand dune and finds his true love hidden under the scorpions. But real affection offends them. They can't stand an unscripted romantic comedy happening before their eyes.

They often say love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and I say these two phenomena demonstrate that. What people find funny is an extremely intimate part of them, so maybe it makes sense they need play-acted comedy emotion the same way they need play-acted romantic emotion? At least the people on the subway who scoff at the smooching couple can say they didn't request a romantic show. What is the major malfunction of the paying comedy crowds who shrink when they catch a true glimpse of the hate side of the coin?