Saturday, August 31, 2013

An update

The Lemon Girl and I are staying at a cabin in the woods that has neither Internet nor cellphone coverage. We can check email and make phone calls only when we drive to town for supplies. That's why there hasn't been any posting. We're having a wonderful time and hope you are too.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another image: What are they selling

All by itself, this one is relatively anodyne.

The target for this, as I've noted previously, is young professional women who are no no hurry to get married. The photo emphasizes her independence from him. Further, his sunglasses make him a colder, less human figure. He's mostly an accessory in her life.

He isn't being dumped or sexually humiliated as in the two previous images we've seen in this series but he is little more than another charm on her bracelet. (It's the same two models in all these shots.)

Most people blame the advertiser or creative people for images like this but the basic truth here is that they wouldn't use this sort of thing if it didn't work. This is the way young professional women think nowadays. And they do it because they can. Perhaps I'll come back to this someday.

I'm off on vacation as of ... right now! Posting will inconsistent.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning, I am a female."

"I want everyone to know."

Try that one out on yourself. Think of some change you've made to your life. When you decided to live differently than you had in the past, was your first reaction that you wanted everyone to know and did you think of having a statement announcing your life choice read on national news?

The pathetic loser who made that statement (Google it if you can't help yourself) didn't think it through. He didn't think, "I'm out to fade from public view so I will announce that I want to live as a woman so people will continue to pay attention to me." That is why he is doing it though.

His situation is like the three-year-old boy who throws a temper at a party because no one is paying attention to him. The child doesn't think it through either because he is a child. That said, his becoming an adult means that he should learn to think it through.

By the way, notice that solving these problems is not a matter of looking inside. When it comes to emotional and moral maturity, having an inner life is useless. If anything, it's the cause of the problem for looking inside is a criteria-free exercise. It's only by learning to look outside ourselves that we grow up.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What are they selling?

I mean, besides a great steaming pile of bullshit?

Their 100 greatest songs! Which is to say, the editors of Rolling Stone think that even after you have compiled the Beatles hundred best songs there are still songs left over that could be classified as "great" despite not being in the 100 best.

I'd be hard-pressed to come up with 10 great Beatles songs myself but I think even an honest Beatles fan would limit themselves to less than 30.

But here is the question: Who reads this stuff? And are they really stupid enough to think this issue of Rolling Stone will ever be a collectors item? Here's another way to ask the same question: Do you like some Beatles' songs? I suspect just about everybody likes some of them. If so, what do you think their bests songs are? I don't ask because I want to know but to make another point: that you could answer that question pretty easily because you don't need the "experts" at Rolling Stone to tell you what you like.

But that is precisely what this magazine cover is selling; it's selling you help deciding what you should like. That's a recurring motif at Rolling Stone; the publication has produced so many lists of the greatest songs/bands/concerts/backrubs of all time that its own editors can't keep track of them anymore*. That says so much about the last half of the 20th century. It was an era full of people who didn't think for themselves. Not because they couldn't, but because they so desperately need approval from authorities of some sort. Think of how much that is at odds with what the people of that era liked to believe about themselves.

* Wikipedia can however. The writers never fail to mention if a song or musician has made some list somewhere.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

People who mean well

A woman I know is bragging this morning that she rescued a mouse from her cat. She captured the little thing, about the size of her thumbnail, and released it on the other side of the street.

Where it almost certainly died very soon afterwards.

I understand this sort of sentimental behaviour. I've done things like this myself in my life. Until I reached the age of 14 or so. The mouse would have died if left where it was and it can seem only right to release it outside where it seems like it will be at home. In fact, she released it into an extremely hostile environment. Even an adult mouse would probably have died a cruel death shortly after being released into a strange and terrifying environment. A young mouse separated from its mother, would go even more quickly. Best case scenario is that a predator found it, killed it and ate it almost immediately after the release.

There is nothing so profound as to deserve the title "worldview" behind this woman's actions. There are some naive and sentimental assumptions about what life is like. These assumptions amount to a belief system that the normal state of things for mice and people is one of comfort and security that is sometimes interrupted by death-bringers such as cats or cancer. And that isn't surprising because that is the life that most of us grew up with.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Proust and solipsism

Here is an attempted defence of Proust against the charge of solipsism:
The defense of art as a form of intellection is the subject of the aesthetic discourse that ends the Recherche. A scene in the final volume describes Marcel hurrying through the street to an afternoon party held by the Princess des Guermantes when he stumbles over some uneven paving stones. Suddenly a feeling of elation and immortality overwhelms him, as it had in the first volume with the taste of the madeleine. Unlike there, however, this time he sets himself to determining the source of his rapture, and at last realizes it to be the effect of an unexamined dimension of memory. We move through life as through a dark wood, too inattentive and inexperienced to see the network of connections among the paths we walk or the people we meet. But with the right turn of chance, some unexpected stimulus, like the taste of a cake dunked in tea or the feel of rough pavement that evokes the streets of a familiar city, can call into consciousness previously neglected sensory impressions, illuminating the landscape traversed in all its alienated majesty. That the memory is involuntary, that it has nothing to do with will or reason, is precisely what assures the truth of the vision. It is the unexpectedness of the solution that proves the deceitful intellect hasn’t forced the material into an inaccurate structure. By these lights, Proust’s inward eye is far from solipsistic, as some of his early critics charged; on the contrary, it presents, as Maria DiBattista puts it, a check against solipsism, and also an assertion that art offers privileged access to the truth of experience.
The key claim here is that the memory at the heart of the exercise is  involuntary. That makes it "real". Dante, following from the Provençal poets, held similar view that only involutary love is real. This kind of thinking carries on through Stendhal's accounts of love (which is where Proust gets it) and on into Sartre's certainty that any devotion willfully maintained was done in bad faith.

But why is the involuntary more real? The feeling of deja vu, a response that is usually inaccurate is involuntary.

Elyse Graham, the writer of the above defence, makes the same move as the person who argues that they know for certain that they are in pain but can only speculate about others. Which is odd. Do you think that if you saw a woman stabbed in the lower abdomen that you might stand there watching her writhe on the pavement and think, "I wonder if she is really in pain?"

What people really mean to say the involuntary is real is that, "I cannot be wrong when I feel pain". Except: when do we ever say such a thing? It doesn't really come up as a question does it? Fans of Wittgenstein will recognize the argument so far.

My next move, which I don't think Wittgenstein made, at least not as I remember him, is a moral one.

When I was a child, my mother would sometimes insist that I was over-reacting by telling me of some pain, "It's not that bad." She wasn't questioning that I had hurt my knee when I fell but rather that my initial reaction was wrong. And by "wrong", I mean morally wrong.

Children react with blind rage when injured or even when just hungry. We teach them to stop. To stop being childish means to some reacting in that way. We teach them that it is selfish to react that way. Why are we so sure that it is selfish? Because other people are capable of doing better. The argument is that other people suck it up and get on with life and you should too. And the only response to this is to try to convince others that this pain really hurts (speaking the words "this" and "really" with heavy emphasis) so the rest of you should feel sorry for me. To stop being a child is to recognize that basing your reactions on the certainty of your experience of something personal cannot be the basis of a good life.

Proust's hero is an interesting case in this regard. On the one hand, he is the sickly spoiled child whose parents eventually stopped trying to toughen up. The novel opens up with the moment when his father and mother stop trying to make him go to bed alone. On the other hand, the hero is not without self awareness. Far from celebrating his victory in getting his mother to come to his bedroom, he sees instead in his parents' reaction their acceptance that this boy will never grow up to normal, that he will never be healthy and strong enough to be taught to suck it up and get on with life.

Deprived of this moral education, the hero spends his entire existence trying to find an aesthetic and then artistic solution to the problem. He keeps trying to analyze his experiences as if he can find something real and solid there that he can translate into something universal, that he can make into a piece of art.

You might think the experience could be love. But Proust can never write about love as being an appreciation of another person. For Proust, love is always a projection of something felt by the lover.

And it more or less has to be that way for him because the only way he can think to get out of the trap is to analyze his own experience and he keeps looking for an experience that is especially real because he thinks that it is only on such a foundation that any worthwhile analysis can be done.

The biggest clue that this was a false trail should have been the nature of the famous experiences themselves: the Madeleine dipped in the tea, the smell of the hawthorns in blossom, losing his balance on the crooked paving stones. These are all very small experiences. You might well argue that they are unquestionably real but the flood of happy memories that comes with them are something constructed. They are not involuntary.

A construction need not be lies of course. There is such a thing as a true story. But Proust has foreclosed the usual ways we go about constructing a true story—checking our facts, comparing witness accounts, examining probabilities and historical context—and wagered everything on there being some sort of experience that is so solidly real that it, at least, need not be questioned. It only needs to be understood.

To invoke Wittgenstein again, if there are basic experiences so solid that no one can question, these would inevitably be things that are so uninteresting in themselves that no one would bother discussing them.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A little heavy culture: Is this a love poem?

Althouse commented yesterday about some "electrical engineer" who didn't understand the poem his girlfriend gave him and wrote to an advice columnist about it. Either that or, as Althouse hints, the whole thing is a put on.

Anyway, the line the guy claims not to understand is, "nobody, not even the rain,has such small hands". Well, does anybody understand that line? It's not meant to have meaning along the lines of, "The men's room is the second door on your left."

First of all, though, why does the girlfriend even know this poem? There are millions of love poems out there. Why did she settle on this one? The answer is because it's in the Woody Allen film Hannah and Her Sisters. This reminds me of one of my favourite Dostoevsky quotes:
But let me tell you, the whole trouble stems from immaturity and sentimentality! It’s not the practical aspects of socialism that fascinate him, but its emotional appeal – its idealism –what we may call its mystical, religious aspect – its romanticism…and on top of that, he just parrots other people.
Take "socialism" and replace it with "culture"  and you have a perfect description of this woman. She is sentimental and immature and her terribly meaningful love poem is just something she has parroted from a movie she saw. (Not incidentally, she doesn't seem to have noticed that the guy who cites the poem in the movie is a shallow manipulator of women.)

But let's take a look at the poem itself for a moment.  Here are a couple of stanzas or your consideration:
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
Does anything about them seem familiar?

Here is a hint, imagine that you're a guy raised in classic New England Unitarian  tradition the way Cummings was. You know the Bible well; you know it really well. You have a certain freedom in how you interpret but you've read it over and over again. You know bits like this one from Psalm 104 by heart:
These all look to you,
     to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
     when you open your hand, they are filled
          with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
     when you take away their spirit, they die
     and return to dust.
When you sen forth your Spirit, they are created;
     and you renew the face of the earth.
I think the similarity here is close enough that we have to take seriously the possibility that Cummings isn't talking about human love at all but about God's love. But even if you don't want to accept that, you have to admit that the relationship between the voice in the poem and the person to whom it is addressed is more like human to God than something like, "Hey Baby, I want to know, will you be my girl".

This need not actually imply God as many twentieth century poems and songs make a similar move. The notion that love is the key ingredient in personal happiness is very much a part of modernism and with it comes a tendency to treat the lover as having God-like abilities to transform us into something better than we are. More alarmingly, what also comes with it is a sense of entitlement that says we all deserve to have someone who can love us this way and that they are morally obliged to effect such a change in us.

What do I think? I think the poem is about God beacuse he is the only being it could really apply to:
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
He says, "nothing which we are to perceive in this world"!!!! Do the poet the favour of taking what he actually wrote seriously.

I also think that anyone who would give this poem to someone as sign of their love is a pretentious git.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Are women unhappy with men?

That they are was one of Hugo Schwyzer's claims.
Well, yes. I think primarily I wrote for women. I designed my writing primarily for women. One of the things that I figured out is the best way to get attention from women was not to describe women’s own experience to them because they found that patronizing and offensive. Instead it was to appear to challenge other men, to turn other men into the kind of boyfriend material, father material, or husband material that women so desperately wanted. Most women have a lot of disappointment in men. And I very deliberately want to go to the place where that disappointment lives and present to them a counter-narrative of something possible.
I pulled the whole paragraph out here rather than just the highlighted sentence because the larger context is really important here. Schwyzer is a con man and he is describing the way he works his con on women. More importantly, he is still working it. This whole apology show is part of his plan to get back in the game.

He, like all con men, has a target in mind. He doesn't target women generally but a very specific subset of women. Cons only work on people who think they are too smart to get conned. That's why Schwyzer works the feminist beat; it's full of women who think they can see through the pretenses of of others. These women manage to believe two contradictory things at the same time: 1) that men are a bunch of selfish, stupid, self-defeating knuckle-dragging buffoons and 2) that they nevertheless have managed to dominate women against their wills for centuries.
What I think is really happening is this: a lot of women are discovering that putting off marriage and pursuing a career in larger cities is a sure fire way to end up single and unhappy. They are discovering that lots of men want to have sex with them but no one, including their best girlfriends, really likes them much. Not surprisingly, they are unhappy with their lives. Worse, they don't see any way to make them better. And that isn't surprising. Other than getting into a time machine and going back and telling their 17-year-old self to live her life entirely differently, I don't think there is a solution. So they get angry at men. These are the women who make up the target audience of con artists like Hugo Schwyzer and Amanda Marcotte.

A few additional  thoughts that occurred to me while walking the dog

I think the unhappiness makes itself felt quite early in the game. As early as university, these women discover that their relationships with men are unsatisfactory. This isn't surprising as they are not offering men anything but sex. They offer no guarantees of any sort of lasting emotional commitment. The sort of men who thrive on that are men who are pretty mercenary about the pursuit of sexual pleasure and the ones who aren't soon learn to be.

If you live that way—either as the sex-positive-but-not-seeking-commitment woman or the mercenary-sex-hound man—you tend to train your mind-body complex to respond in certain ways. You tend to, for example, be very poor at maintaining sexual interest in the same partner for very long. You also tend to give up on relationships as soon as they become difficult. Keep doing this through your late teens and early twenties and you will have trained yourself to be very good at temporary sexual relationships and absolutely useless at more serious commitments.

Worst of all, these women dodge all responsibility to learn to love men as truly separate individuals who are profoundly different from them. You can see this most clearly in sexual issues where women dress and behave like male sexual fantasies rather than learn to relate on a more profound level. Why actually relate when he'll be perfectly happy with slutty underwear, a Brazilian wax job and fantasy sex moves you've learned from porn? And then, having encouraged only this kind of connection with men, they turn around and hate the men for it.

I'm not feeling a lot of pity.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tom Matlack proved right about something

UPDATE: In light of the comment from Mr. Matlack below,  I should have said that I have zero respect for the argument that he and others have made that men as a group need to change or improve rather than attacking him personally as I did. I made a personal attack on him because he was, until today, an anonymous figure on the internet. I regret this and apologize to him for it but will not change what I have said below because I want my indiscretion to be here so everyone can see it.

I should say at the outset that I have zero respect for Tom Matlack and the Good Men Project and I would not normally bother myself with an argument that broke out between him and Hugo Schwyzer coming up on two years ago now. Matlack vs Schwyzer is the intellectual equivalent of the David Bowie vs Lou Reed fistfight; may the least pathetic man win. In this case, however, it is interesting because the least pathetic man settled on something important.

Matlack, the worst sort of whiny, self-hating pussy boy you can imagine, actually turned and snarled at the way our culture runs men down a while ago and wrote a piece called "Being a Dude is a Good Thing", which, even though it amounts to damning men with faint praise, stirred up the fruit loop section of the feminist orchestra including Hugo Schwyzer and Amanda Marcotte.

In the essay, Matlack says a lot of nonsense and one really important thing. The important this is This:
My unscientific theory is from a fundamental disconnect between men and women at the micro level. Men know women are different. They think differently, they express emotion differently, they are motivated by different things, they think about sex differently, and they use a very different vocabulary.

Why can’t women accept men for who they really are? Is a good man more like a woman or more truly masculine?
The fundamental point here is right. Men are, on average, different from women. The "on average" is important. American men, for example, are taller on average than Japanese men but that doesn't mean that there aren't going to be some seven-foot Japanese men. We are different from women and we are different in ways that are worth understanding rather than hating.

This was too much for Hugo. I don't want to go through all the details of the argument, in a large part because there wasn't one. Marcotte, for example, attacked Matlack on grounds of style not substance. What is interesting is what Schwyzer has revealed in his recent overwrought confessions.He was asked, "Was your work designed to please a certain school of feminism but never a realistic model for men?"
Well, yes. I think primarily I wrote for women. I designed my writing primarily for women. One of the things that I figured out is the best way to get attention from women was not to describe women’s own experience to them because they found that patronizing and offensive. Instead it was to appear to challenge other men, to turn other men into the kind of boyfriend material, father material, or husband material that women so desperately wanted. Most women have a lot of disappointment in men. And I very deliberately want to go to the place where that disappointment lives and present to them a counter-narrative of something possible.
Notice how he shifts ground. First of all, Schwyzer is asked if he tailored his writing to feminist perceptions and he immediately generalizes that to say he wrote for "women", as if "feminists" and "women" were identical groups. Second, notice how he takes it for granted that most women are disappointed in men and that he was simply giving them hope that better men were possible. Combine that with the fact that 62 percent of women say they aren't feminists and you can begin to see the light shining through the fog. Schwyzer is admitting that the only way to make a living as a male feminist is to tailor your writing to the fantasies of bitter feminists who are unable to successfully relate to men.

Now, let's flip this around and notice that Schwyzer is implicitly admitting that men wouldn't read this crap. Well yes! I mean if eve Pussy Boy Matlack got his back up, you can just imagine how any man with a thimble full of self respect would respond.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hey Hugo, how can we miss you if you won't go away?

Poor Hugo Schwyzer had a meltdown and thousands of people are feeling sorry for him laughing so hard they are in serious danger of wetting their pants.

I will cheerfully admit to having been one of many, many people to lay into this awful fraud and I'm glad to see him exposed and sent packing. Assuming he'll actually go. Like Anthony Weiner, Schwyzer is a moral narcissist who just keeps coming back. He seems to want to admit he was a fraud and yet still be loved and taken seriously.

There are two kinds of issues here: there is an issue of alleged academic fraud and there is an issue of moral hypocrisy that is simple fact.

Here's the academic issue: Schwyzer was writing for all sorts of popular publications as a "gender expert" even though his actual field is British and medieval history. As he puts it, "It is a little odd that someone would become a very well known speaker and writer on feminism when he took only two undergraduate courses on women’s studies and that’s it."

Well, actually, it isn't all that odd. I suspect two undergraduate courses is a lot more study than most high-profile feminists ever did. And there is no reason whatsoever that anyone at all shouldn't be allowed to write about feminism just as anyone at all  is allowed to write about Shakespeare. But the issue gets tricky if I, for example, were to start writing about Shakespeare while claiming to have academic credentials to do so, which I do not. Schwyzer claims to have only written for non-academic publications but the issue here is one of personal integrity. Consider, for example, the author description on the piece that I originally responded to about a year and a half ago:
Hugo Schwyzer is a professor of gender studies and history at Pasadena City College and a nationally-known speaker on sex, relationships, and masculinity. He blogs at his eponymous site and co-authored the autobiography of Carré Otis, Beauty, Disrupted.
 Well, you can see how someone reading that just might get the wrong idea about Schwyzer's credentials.

And, as I always say, if you find one rat, you can be pretty sure there are others.

The  moral hypocrisy issue is that Schwyzer argued that men shouldn't date younger women while having sexual relationships with women half his age and cheating on his wife in the process.

Moral hypocrisy is an issue I have written about before and I've tended to argue that hypocrisy is only a symptom of a deeper problem. The deeper problem, to quote myself
The real source of hypocrisy is not believing in anything at all.

That was what was is so depressing about the two cases I mention above. Neither man is aware of himself as a hypocrite because neither is acting against beliefs that actually mean anything to them. Our classic notion of a hypocrite—Mr. Burns running for office on The Simpsons—knows he is lying and consequently makes some effort to hide it. Real hypocrites have no notion. There is no point in even trying to explain it to them.
And Schwyzer is a further example.  He wrote the following:
If there's one tangible thing that men can do to help end sexism—and create a healthier culture in which young people come of age—it's to stop chasing after women young enough to be their biological daughters. As hyperbolic as it may sound, there are few more powerful actions that men can take to transform the culture than to date, mate, and stay with their approximate chronological peers. If aging guys would commit to doing this, everyone would benefit: older men and younger men, older women and younger women.

This proposal flies in the face of everything we're taught is normal and inevitable ...
But here comes the big admission about his personal life at the time he wrote the article above:
One of my themes has always been that men should leave younger women alone and start to have a greater value in appreciating their female peers—that men in their 30s and 40s should be dating women in their 30s and 40s; sort of challenging men to see as sexually desirable women who are their own age. I wrote a piece for The Atlantic on that that got a lot of attention. But the very same week I wrote that I was sleeping with a 23-year-old affiliated with the porn industry, not a student of mine, but who I met through the porn class. And of course, I was also sexting.
The thing that should strike you here is the complete lack of guilt. Until the matter became one of shame by being made public, Schwyzer had no problem doing what he did. He wrote the article the same week he was having the affair. He has no moral beliefs at all.

You can see it in his pathetic attempts at self justification:
For me the motivation was not to get these girls into bed. Sex is only the exclamation point on what you really want. What I am addicted to is affirmation and validation from women. That is what I wanted. That is what this whole thing was set up to get. I didn’t need them to want to f**k me. It made no difference to me if they thought of me as a potential boyfriend or a potential father. What mattered to me is that they had me on a pedestal, that they thought about me. That is the honest truth.
That's the "honest truth" until he asked if he has ever had sex with his students.
Not since 1998. Before 1998 I slept with two dozen female students, somewhere in there, it’s a ballpark thing. That ended when I had a similar but not as bad a breakdown to the one I had now.
It helps to do the arithmetic in cases like this. Schwyzer is 46 years old now. He was 31 in 1998! Even if he breezed through his PhD at a record pace, he would have been teaching only five or six years (and probably less) in 1998. In that time he'd had sex with two-dozen students!

And, oh yeah, that " similar but not as bad a breakdown" in 1998? Schwyzer has said it climaxed when he tried to kill himself and his girlfriend while under the influence of narcotics. How does that count as not as bad? That's the thing you have to grasp: this man doesn't believe in anything at all.

And it tells you an awful lot about feminism that he succeeded so long at being a celebrity in the field.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What are they selling?

I suspect the creators of this ad tortured themselves getting the wording of this one just right.

This is from a magazine that I saw at my dentist's office this morning. She's not a model. The ad gives her name and place of residence. They paid her to do this. (If I remember correctly, she lives in Nova Scotia.)

The reason why I suspect they tortured themselves over the wording is that it would be all too easy to hate this woman. She doesn't deserve hatred. She's a typical enough baby boomer. Even as it is written there is an obvious moral reproach.

The funny thing is that I suspect that is part of the appeal for the intended audience. To get why that might be imagine how this woman's mother, who grew up during the depression and spent her early adulthood on the sacrifices of the second world war, might have viewed the same  problem. Her mother lived for the future, paid off her mortgage and was grateful for a retirement that didn't involve poverty. Our baby boomer lived for the moment and produced nothing during the most productive years of her life, started a family at an age when prudence would have recommended otherwise and didn't pay off her mortgage. And yet, even though her husband died, she is still able to have a retirement that is more like an extended vacation than simply being able to take care of herself. It doesn't say "Nyah nyah!" but ...

The theme of this ad is defiance. The thing boomer women now in or rapidly approaching retirement value most is their pride. Or, to put it more accurately, what they fear most is being humiliated for their "selfish" lives. I put the word in scare quotes because it's not you are me but them whom thinks they have lived morally questionable lives. They live in a welfare state and they live in a welfare state because their votes that made sure we have a welfare state. They know full well, although they won't admit it for reasons of pride, that the welfare state is not sustainable, at least not as we know it. But even if it fails they can be certain that they will not starve. Survival is not the issue. Image is. And the image they want is one in which they feel no shame. And this ad says they can have it.

In the words of Don Draper:
Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing is OK. You are OK. 
And why not? If there is a moral irony here, it's not the one you're thinking of. The moral irony is that this retirement is only possible because of capitalism. It is only because of the incredible productive around baby boomer women that enough wealth was developed that women like the woman in this ad can retire comfortably despite having lived irresponsible lives.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Return from hiatus: a little light culture

Karen Black has died. I'm sure that ninety-nine percent of the world will say "Karen who?" And with good reason. She was a talentless, over-emoting hack actor who somehow became the most famous actress of her generation in the 1970s. It's funny to think that back then everyone hated disco because disco is pretty much the only cultural product of the 1970s that has endured.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


A friend of mine was killed this week. I'm going to take a few days off blogging.