Saturday, May 31, 2014

Horoscopes Lead to Hitler

Have you checked your horoscope today? Have you considered the implications of your horoscope-checking?

In principle, how is astrology different from eugenics? Astrology, like eugenics, is deterministic birthing. Per astrology, being born on February 22 makes you a Pisces and automatically animates you with Pisces characteristics (characteristic; a nicer word for stereotype or generalization...someone call the ADL's emergency hotline). You cannot be nurtured out of being a Pisces. All the Head Start programs in the world can't make you less of a Libra.

When someone only dates Cancers or Geminis, how are they different from a person who won't date Asians? Your astrological sign, like your race, is an accident of birth. How is compulsorily filtering out all Scorpios different from compulsorily filtering out a particular race? Take an argument against dating people with "incompatible signs," replace the word Aries with Jewish, and tell me it doesn't make you a tad uncomfortable.

Like eugenics, astrology could absolutely be a tool for social engineering. Shortage of philosophers? Better get women pregnant around April so we can breed more Sagittariuses. Too many restless yo-yos joining the military? Time to breed and conscript Capricorns!

For many modern folk, hearing the words determinism, stereotypes, and genetics in the same paragraph causes the following side effects:

Inability to have an ErectionSevere
Sexual ProblemsSevere
Altered Interest in Having Sexual IntercourseSevere
DrowsinessLess Severe
DizzyLess Severe
Chronic Trouble SleepingLess Severe
Low EnergyLess Severe
Excessive SweatingLess Severe
Involuntary QuiveringLess Severe
Loss of AppetiteLess Severe
Weight LossLess Severe
Head PainLess Severe
Feel Like Throwing UpLess Severe
GasLess Severe
DiarrheaLess Severe
Stomach CrampsLess Severe

So I find it intriguing we have no trouble with determinism (and associated stereotypes) wrought by the stars. In fact, it appears a majority of young adults even believe astrology is a science. But despite this majority belief in astrological determinism, you don't see progressive pundits screaming until their tonsils melt about how we're all blank astrological slates waiting to be our own special constellation. Wait, what am I talking about: If progressives were to discuss astrology it would only be to coo over the increased acceptance of inter-sign dating.

I wonder what would happen if an NBA owner were (illegally) recorded saying, "Don't bring Leos to the games."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another Sign a Band is Out of Ideas

Back by popular demand, another signal your favorite band is dried up and tired:

Suddenly Discovering World Music

The list of people who've gone down this road when the well has run dry is long and blood-soaked: David Byrne, Sting (not that there was much there to begin with), Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon. My proprietary models tell me there is an inverse relationship between the number of random Africans onstage and the number of times the song is worth listening to: the more random Africans the fewer times you need to give the tune a spin.

The convenient thing about resorting to world music is that because it involves Third Worlders, people are too scared to criticize it. God forbid they admit to not enjoying balafon solos. Political correctness dictates they must pretend that when they go to see Paul Simon - who built his fanbase with decidedly whitebread songs like "I Am a Rock" - they are pleased to see him making his concert a UN summit.

Doing a "brave" crossover into world music is a great way to shield yourself from bad reviews and lower listener expectations for your crappy new songs, because hey close minded guy...demanding melody is so Eurocentric!

Here's a tip: If you're at a concert and the singer suddenly says: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce my backup band: Kenya," RUN.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A way to make big money on the movement against big money?

The fervor against the 1% (and by proxy, “tax avoiding” corporations) will continue to amass. In the 2016 election, “income equality” will be the new “war on women.”
This fervor has legs because unlike the Occupy movement, which was unfocused and blemished with easily mocked supporters, folks protesting for an increased minimum wage are sympathetic. Their message is also specific, easily understood, which keeps it from becoming a wad of social justice spam that goes straight to the mental junk folder. Companies like McDonald's are currently under fire for their allegedly anti-99% policies, and my guess is they will likely have to throw some (soy-based) red meat to those picketing them. Starbucks has already succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome (I think Starbucks could have brushed off the barbs pretty easily).
Actual members of the 1% aren't going to be hurt by this fervor of course. "Outsider" Obama golfs with oil execs and Wall Street heavyweights without incurring any long term criticism. Generic Republican targets will take some hits for mirroring Obama's lambada with the 1%, but my hunch is the rage at the upper-upper crust will primarily be expressed through campaigns against companies like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. Piketty’s book will be the new Earth is Flat for a while.
I'm not betting against the stock of any of the aforementioned companies, but one wonders what kind of volatility they might suffer if their profits and (already execrable) reputations start slipping. Tiffany’s will probably continue to be fine, even though those raging against their customers will be under the tragic impression they've made a difference. Come to think of it, maybe the way to capitalize is to start a protest sign company (whomever created the Che shirts certainly made a killing). I always knew I could be a job creator!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kept Crusaders

Thanks to the joblessness following the Crash of '08, America's young have become a "lost generation" of sorts. Not the good kind of Lost Generation, the kind with Fitzgeralds and Hemingways. More the kind that gets in shouting matches over whether Daredevil would benefit from Lasik surgery.

When you don't have a job after college, it is predictable that your maturity will also be put on hold. You can remain irresponsible, sheltered, flaky, and hold tight to all the idealistic teeth gnashing programmed into you on campus.

Not only does this career delay mean not having to enter the workplace and adapt to its discipline and compromise, it means not being exposed to tyrannical HR departments; whose power and wingnuttery are the predictable result of elevating political correctness to a religion. If this lost generation got a dose of today's HR National Socialism perhaps they could finally see where their unthinking "social justice" boosterism leads.

Today's lost youth were also weaned on social media crusading and shaming. (Their age is also the age of campaigns against Internet bullying, which somehow isn't called bullying when done in the name of political correctness). They've grown up in an age where it's quite normal to form an Internet lynch mob to attack those with whom you disagree, and the Internet comforts of anonymity and distance only embolden these attacks. When you can bully others without consequence and in the process convince yourself you're a soldier fighting for the "right side of history," of course you're going to double down. That these bearded babies have plenty of free time to obsess over villain-slaying superheroes with secret identities probably fuels this fevered stone throwing.

It is beyond obvious that leaving a generation to continue stewing in the cupidity of their salad days long after the leaves have turned brown isn't going to result in nuanced converstion. So if you were wondering who's to blame for the shrill, sophomoric flavor of social media (and ultimately youth level) discourse, you should probably start with Alan Greenspan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's not the economy, stupid

Have you heard: right now there is a "struggle for the heart of the Republican Party." The call has gone out for a Moderate Messiah, and the Republican establishment is pushing Jeb Bush hard. The messiah's ostensible mission: Forget the social issues and focus on the economy!

The reality is the Republican version of social issue politics and economic politics will fail at the ballot box.

Ladies and gentlemen of the calculatorless establishment: we have an electoral college, and the social issues are liabilities in every important electoral state except Texas. They are such liabilities that the mere whiff of a pro-life bent automatically disqualifies you. Though they don't realize it and gleefully mock Red Staters for their steadfast commitment to social issues, left-leaning US voters are just as much culture war/single issue voters as Republicans.* You hear progressives talking "social justice" more often than you hear them mentioning fiscal issues. 

And for progressives, especially today's young ones, it isn't enough for the culture to morph towards a flavor that accommodates their predilections. "Social justice" isn't justice until it is sanctified by the government (don't look for a movement, even a fake one, touting "live and let live" progressivism), which denudes any crossover with faux "libertarian" Republicans; including semi-genuine ones like Rand Paul. Today young people endorse live and let long as you live the way they tell you you can live, and as long as the state gives it a tax-laden thumbs up! The state is all too happy to do this.

But wait, isn't it all about "jobs, jobs, jobs?" No it isn't. The fiscal conservatism pitch about creating jobs through reduced regulation and taxes has a .08% chance of resonating with young voters. Many of today's young voters have never had steady jobs and expect the government to rectify this through increased laws and spending.** They feel they're owed home ownership, student loan relief, etc. They don't expect to become the Steve Jobs heirs apparent Paul Ryan pinched his dimples about. Progressives/young people associate the economy with the government. Telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps is just north of pointless. The Republican strategy of instructing voters to emulate "our most productive citizens," by which they mean the wealthier, also isn't going to stir young voter hearts.

If Republicans try to capture these voters by campaigning in favor of more activist government, it will merely brand them as slightly more "socially conservative" Democrats (which is actually what they are now). Who are young people and progressive-leaning independents going to trust in such an scenario?

As for old people: they don't care about jobs; they care about being able to retire from jobs. They feel no guilt about sticking someone else with the bill.

Saying "Focus on the economy, it's a no-brainer" could only be said by a no-brainer.

*This isn't my Republican Party!...not shocking that when there is a movement to shift the party leftward on social issues the media can't get enough of "rebellious Republicans." When there was a chorus of anti-Iraq invasion/anti-War on Terror conservatives, the media was strangely uninterested in hearing them out.

**Extended adolescence combined with scant real world experience only increases one's zealotry for fundamentalist social justice religion.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cougars and MILFs and Man-boobs, OH MY!

About 15 years after a supposedly "funny" slang term becomes popular, and about five years after it stops being used, it makes its way onto crap shows like Morning Joe. Outdated slang is the last refuge of the stiff news anchor.

Slang has always existed, but I submit that many of these modern "funny" slang words are plagues particular to our age.

Back in the '50s, what were camel toes called? They were probably called what the hell is wrong with you stop gawking at my crotch! They did not generate four-page articles in Cosmo. If you'd gone around chatting about camel toes you would have been regarded as a pervert, not the "funny guy" at the party.

How about moobs/man-boobs? Old pictures make it seem like moobs were less common, but still, they existed. And back then men were almost always dressed up. There were far fewer clothing choices; men didn't get to lounge around in comfy jumpsuits and the plus size concept didn't exist. What this means is that 1950s man-boobs must have been flapping freely. But evidently people didn't feel the need to turn them into conversation pieces. Not true today: just last week I saw an anchor on a financial news show discussing his "moobs."

I think the word MILF was a turning point. I was surprised how quickly that grew from meathead lingo for 20-year-olds to accepted mainstream "witticism." It appears that once MILF was embraced by people over 30, all bets were off. The floodgates opened, and suddenly it was far less stigmatized for an adult to utilize high school banter. Now the virus has spread to where ostensibly serious outlets like CNN sound like they're using graffitied bathroom stalls as teleprompters.

Of course crass slang has always existed. It was called locker room talk. That name tells you all you need to know; it was reserved for the locker room, not political talk shows. So while (much milder) terms like sugar daddy may have been in circulation, they weren't to be found in the New York Times*. Today much more juvenile slang than sugar daddy permeates all corners of the media, and as a consequence, standard conversation. Hard to see this as a win for society. There is a difference between having a youth culture and having almost no part of the culture that is strictly for adults.

When it comes to things like camel toes, they don't ignore them like they used to.

I bet another catalyst is that there is simply so much more media these days - digital world, 24-hour television -, which creates a need for so much more content people resort to the lowest common denominator of the lowest common denominator just to fill space.