Saturday, January 10, 2009

Modernism fails in advertising, too


In what is believed to be the first such global survey of female consumers' attitudes, the research says women respond more favourably to a brand if the models it uses somehow mirror their own identities.

Advertisers cannot, however, simply enlist a few fuller-figured models, says Ben Barry, who is carrying out the research at Cambridge University's Judge business school: "In general, people have a more favourable reaction to brands that show models who represent people's age, size and background."

The Guardian


Modernism = one size fits all. Reality = we each want to live with our own.

Everyone wants to flee failing school system


Charter schools, which are publicly financed but independently run, were conceived as a way to improve academic performance. But for immigrant families, they have also become havens where their children are shielded from the American youth culture that pervades large district schools.

“The good news is that immigrant kids are learning English better and faster than ever before in U.S. history,” said Marcelo M. Su├írez-Orozco, the co-director of immigration studies at New York University and co-author of “Learning a New Land — Immigrant Students in American Society” (Harvard Press, 2008). “But they’re assimilating to a society that parents see as very threatening and frightening. It’s anti-authority, anti-studying. It’s materialistic.”

NYT


The over-politicized, dumbed-down school system now supports lowest common denominator behavior. It does provide NVA-style "civic education" however. So parents of all types are fleeing it because it is both dysfunctional and bad mental reprogramming.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Modernity assaults the female form

I was reading one of my favorite sources of insight on the Gender Wars -- which, like the Ethnic Wars and Culture Wars, are brought on by modernity's attempt to one-size-fits-all us so that we can have absolute rights as interchangeable parts:


The classic hourglass figure made famous by Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe appears to have had its day.

According to anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan, high-powered working women are less likely to have the classic shape of a tiny waist with wide hips and large bosom due to the stress levels associated with their jobs.

Instead, women who work to support their families probably carry a touch more fat than they would like around their stomachs, rather than their hips, says Professor Cashdan.

The move away from the Hollywood siren of yesteryear towards the more angular
attractions of the likes of Keira Knightley is attributed to androgens, a type of hormone that includes testosterone.

These hormones help women become physically stronger and more able to withstand stress - attributes that are needed to hold down high-powered jobs.

The Daily Mail


Hippies -- crypto-modernists -- and corporate leaders agree:

If everyone looked the same and acted the same, it would be much easier for business and the Nanny-Authoritarian state to control them.

Masculinize women. Feminize men. Now they're nearly identical. They're "equal," which is how we'll sell it to the proles.


Treating a baby boy like a girl and vice versa can change the way their brains work, new research suggests.

By tickling a baby female rat’s tummy for hours on end, the team from the University of Wisconsin managed to make the DNA clusters in its brain become more like a male’s.

The research, reported in the New Scientist, challenges the long-accepted belief that the physical differences between a male and female brain are genetic.

The Express


(Here moderns show no appreciation for polycausality, as usual. Suppose the difference is genetic, AND ALSO can be modified after birth, much like our size is fixed but if we lift a lot of weights, our bones get sturdier? That didn't occur to them. It never does.)

It really is for appearance, though, because modern society doesn't work so well -- it's just good at extracting profits.


But, as far as I'm concerned, this idea that you have to recover from birth in a matter of days is part of the same cultural phenomena that says the ideal woman should have the body of an elegant 14-year-old boy plus breasts. She should be lean, firm, strong and invulnerable. She should only be momentarily detained by an event such as giving birth.

The Independent


This sounds like the behavior of people who are paranoid, defensive, isolated and aware of just how judgmental the rest of their society can be -- because they, too, are destabilized.

Sudden lack of modern historical good guys

We move from illusion to illusion, seeking the absolute that will make us safe and make life seem to be, by The Rules, exclusive of that which threatens us.


Some 1,800 corpses that authorities believe to be German civilians killed during World War II have been discovered in the Polish city of Malbork, daily Bild reported Wednesday.

"They are the remains of women, men and children," public prosecuter Waldemar Zduniak told the paper. "A portion of the corpses display bullet wounds."

The first skeletons were uncovered in October in Malbork, which before World War II was part of Germany and known as Marienburg.

The Local


Seems like this thing is cropping up more and more, now that a new generation feels no doubt from guilt about the era -- it was so long ago:


For over 50 years, the inhabitants of Treuenbrietzen, a small eastern German town, kept quiet about a World War II massacre that happened in the final days of the war. And many today still have no wish to revisit the past.

The long-forgotten slaughter of some 1,000 German civilians occurred after Russian Red Army soldiers occupied the town, some 25 miles south-west of Berlin, in April 1945.

Christoph Lange, a spokesman for the Potsdam prosecutor said an official request for information about the massacre was forwarded to Russian authorities in November. "It's our last chance to find those responsible. We've already gone through all the relevant German documents," said Lange.

Even his grandmother, who lived through the events, "refused to discuss it," the mayor said.

According to witnesses, the massacre took place two days later, possibly because a Soviet officer had been shot dead in the town. Men were gathered together, taken to nearby woods, and shot. A number of women were also raped and killed.

The Local


What they taught us in school: to make the world safe for democracy, America, Britain, the Soviets and the remnants of conquered Europeans came together to defeat the Germans.

The more likely truth: facing the possibility of declining prestige, America and Russia like two stumbling drunks decided to support each other and use their superior numbers to crush those who threatened modern society.

This is not a defense of the Nazis -- we all know what horrors they wrought -- but it's an anti-defense of the "good guys," including the USA and UK and USSR, who turned out to be just like the Nazis, only fake. Internment camps. Nuclear bombings. Massacres. Starvation of POWs. These are the "good guys"?

The enemy is modernity itself.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Good liberal crusade goes down in flames


So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that OLPC is now cutting its workforce in half, and slashing salaries for remaining employees. Negroponte blames the economy, but that seems like an especially weak excuse, given just how strongly small, inexpensive mini-laptops (netbooks) are selling these days. Clearly, there's tremendous demand out there for super cheap, small laptops. The problem is that Negroponte decided from the beginning that his product was only for kids in developing countries, and left a massive market underserved (the rather weak give one, get one program was hardly serving the market).

TechDirt


No one really gives a darn about developing countries.

They pretend to because it makes them look good.

Whether Negroponte just failed it, or drank the kool-aid, remains open to interpretation.

The fact is that Asus beat him to the market, built a better product, and is going to continue to roll over his sad carcass on their way to world domination.

Our fiat cash economy is a Ponzi scheme


Joseph Stiglitz: We had the tech bubble, followed by the housing bubble. But once we fix the recent mess, what will replace these bubbles as the engine for the economy?

Feldstein: What will replace the consumer spending bubble?

(Both men): We run the risk of the economy becoming depend on constant stimulus to replace these bubbles.

Stiglitz: I worry that after two years of stimulus, that the economy won't be going on its own, and then what will we do?

OITS


Our economy is dashing about, looking for distractions to inflate its value, so we don't realize that most people in jobs could be replaced by Perl scripts, and that very little of what we do is actually productive -- it's moving money around, converting it into different forms, selling each other dreams. Pay it forward, the mandatory version. Without new investors into the Ponzi, whether clueless immigrants or globalized partners or new bubbles, we're all going to see the naked truth about how little this giant crock is worth.

The End of White America


The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?

The Atlantic


Worthwhile read.

White people hardwired to prefer their own kind

The Nanny State found something else to whine about, making great profit for those who sell media and creating damage the rest of you pay for:


"This study, and a lot of research in social psychology, suggests that there are still really a lot of negative associations with blacks," said Kerry Kawakami, associate professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario, and lead author of the study. "People are willing to tolerate racism and not stand up against it."

The authors divided 120 non-black participants into the roles of "experiencers" and "forecasters." The "experiencers" were placed in a room with a white person and a black person, who played out pre-arranged scenarios for the experiment. The scenarios began when the black role-player bumped the white role-player's knee when leaving the room.

(The white person then made an ethnically-directed comment of mild to extreme severity.)

Experiencers reported little distress in all three scenarios, much less than the forecasters did in the moderate and severe situations.

Immediately afterwards, the participants were asked to choose either the black person or the white person as a partner for an anagram test. More than half of experiencers chose the white partner -- regardless of the severity of the comment that person made earlier.

The study is consistent with decades of psychology research pointing to the same thing: People are really bad at predicting their own actions in socially sensitive situations.

CNN


Social situations require we tolerate everyone. Life requires we get things done, which means we cannot tolerate what everyone wants: we need to do what is right and worry about who is upset later. This is why all of modern life is hypocritical.

Robot armies


War is about the sacrifice of blood and treasure, and the American style of war is to substitute treasure for blood.

But now the Army stands on the threshold of one of the greatest transformations in war-fighting history, on the short list with steel and gunpowder. The Future Combat Systems program is aimed at developing an array of new vehicles and systems -- including armed robots. The robots of past science fiction were governed by Isaac Asimov's Three Laws, which precluded bringing harm to humans. But the real robots of the future will be different. Within a decade, the Army will field armed robots with intellects that possess, as H.G. Wells put it, "minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic."

Let us dwell on "unsympathetic." These killers will be utterly without remorse or pity when confronting the enemy. That's something new. In 1947, military historian S.L.A. Marshall published "Men Against Fire," which documented the fundamental difference between real soldiers and movie soldiers: Most real soldiers will not shoot at the enemy. Most won't even discharge their weapons, and most of the rest do no more than spray bullets in the enemy's general direction. These findings remain controversial, but the hundreds of thousands of bullets expended in Iraq for every enemy combatant killed suggests that it's not too far off the mark.

Only a few troops, perhaps 1 percent, will actually direct aimed fire at the enemy with the intent to kill. These troops are treasured, and set apart, and called snipers.

Armed robots will all be snipers. Stone-cold killers, every one of them. They will aim with inhuman precision and fire without human hesitation. They will not need bonuses to enlist or housing for their families or expensive training ranges or retirement payments. Commanders will order them onto battlefields that would mean certain death for humans, knowing that the worst to come is a trip to the shop for repairs. The writing of condolence letters would become a lost art.

WAPO


That's awesome. I hope one major nation develops these and uses them to create a world empire. That would end the instability between nation-states and the problem of nuclear proliferation. It would also be one photogenically horrifying war.

Who designs the toys who show your kids what life is like

Toys are symbols of what adult life will be like. What your kids see, they emulate.


Jack Ryan, the Yale-educated designer who popularized Barbie, was a "full-blown seventies-style swinger" with "a manic need for sexual gratification."

Ryan's friend, Stephen Gnass, confides to the author: "When Jack talked about creating Barbie . . . it was like listening to somebody talk about a sexual episode, almost like listening to a sexual pervert . . ." Ryan took calls at Mattel from a madam and patronized "high-class call girls to streetwalkers," including a "very thin and child-like" hooker.

NY Post


And how did they invent Barbie?


In the mid 1940’s, the young ambitious duo Ruth and Elliot Handler, owned a company that made wooden picture frames. Elliot and his partner Harold Mattson built the samples and Ruth was in charge of marketing them. Elliot began to use the scraps of wood from picture frames to make doll furniture. This was the beginning of their toy business. It was in 1945 that Ruth and Elliot Handler joined with their close friend Harold Mattson to form a company that would be known for the most famous and successful doll ever created. This company would be named Mattel, MATT for Mattson, and EL for Elliot. Mattel continued to grow from a very profitable business into a corporate giant.

In the mid 1950’s, while visiting Switzerland, Ruth Handler purchased a German Lilli doll. Lilli was a shapely, pretty fashion doll first made in 1955. She was originally fashioned after a famous cartoon character in the West German Newsletter, Bild. Lilli was made of hard plastic with molded on shoes and earrings. She was available in 11 ½" or 7" in heights. Her hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail. There was a large wardrobe available for this doll. Lilli is the doll that would inspire Ruth Handler to design the Barbie doll.

Dolls4Play


And how did that doll come about?


She was originally marketed to adults in bars and tobacco shops as a joke or gag gift. Many parents considered her not appropriate for children. Ariel Levy refers to her as a "sex doll" in Female Chauvinist Pigs. A German brochure from the 1950s states that Lilli was "always discreet," and that her wardrobe made her "the star of every bar." Although the doll was originally not designed as a children's toy, she eventually became popular with children.

Wikipedia


This is what you're giving your children, hoping they grow up to be something other than... hookers?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ann Coulter summarizes Nietzsche


Liberals always have to be the victims, particularly when they are oppressing others. Modern victims aren’t victims because of what they have suffered; they are victims of convenience for the Left. There’s no way to determine if an action is offensive by looking at the action. One must know who did it to whom, and whose side the most powerful people in America will take.

Playing the game of He Who Is Offended First Wins, the key to any political argument is to pretend to be insulted and register operatic anger. Liberals are the masters of finger-wagging indignation. They will wail about some perceived slight to a sacred feeling of theirs, frightening people who have never before witnessed the liberals’ capacity to invoke synthetic outrage. Distracted by the crocodile tears of the liberal, Americans don’t notice that these fake victims are attacking, advancing, and creating genuine victims.

Just as we’re always told that schoolyard bullies are actually deeply insecure, liberals rationalize their own ferocious behavior by claiming to have been wounded somehow. What about the little guy our poor, insecure bully is beating the living daylights out of? How’s his self-esteem coming along? That is the essence of liberals: They viciously attack everyone else, while wailing that they are the victims.

Liberals’ infernal habit of accusing others of what they themselves are doing distracts attention from who is really being attacked. No one is victimized by a mouse: Real victims are those who are called the oppressors by the powerful.

Fake victims have become so crucial to liberal argument that you need a pathos-meter to follow politics in modern America. Every policy proposal is launched or opposed on the stories of victims.

MSN


Fairly concise, and accurate depiction of not just liberals, but the psychology of a civilization that knows it has drifted from reality to social reality (Crowdism) and so has become neurotic: passive aggression, to compensate for cognitive dissonance which at any minute can be shown to be false by the wrong words from others.

Organic food is for the oblivious


California Liquid Fertilizer has been spiking its fertilizer with ammonium sulfate for the last several years, affecting the organic status of many farms, including organic behemoth Earthbound Farms.

Consumerist


Organic food in theory means that nothing other than pure, natural ingredients go into the food.

But if they're fertilizing it with anything other than pure cow excrement, fish meal, biochar and bat guano, it's probably got what most people call "chemicals" -- industrially refined ingredients.

Keep paying $4 a tomato, suckers. This society is dishonest and since it doesn't take into account context, will gleefully declare any poop-covered tomato an organic one.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mexican traditionalist, nationalist black metal

A couple under-praised classics:




In this sense, this album is very much in the graceful spirit of Romanticism that defined original black metal, including its primary influence, Emperor. Avzhia explores this spirit with songs that unfold majestically from a few hard-hitting riffs into promenades of graceful phrases which by their emphasis on interchangeable forms, emphasize pattern and through it, structure, like an echo of the Romantic ideal of understanding nature at a scientific level, but appreciating the beauty of consciousness that it enables at a scientific level.

Avzhia






Swimming in its own energy, the music of Xibalba using a constant interplay between the rudiments of percussion in an economy jazz style to balance riffs moving frequently from lower tones to higher tones at increasing speeds of tremelo strum conditions an undulating pattern of perceptual interference into which it is easy to fall and from whose evil seduction escape is difficult. The intent is poplike and involved in the deepest avantgarde of conditioning the mind away from everyday stimulus toward a more basic rhythm and survival instinct.

Xibalba


Both of these bands are believers in organic culture, or the idea that a people defines a nation, with a consensus as to beliefs, values, customs, language, religion and heritage.

In this case, they are extolling the wisdom of the ancient Mayan and Aztec empires, who had so declined by the time Spanish conquistadors arrived that they were easily conquered by a few hundred men who allied themselves with the slaves of the Maya and Aztec, creating a popular revolt that dethroned more civilized, intelligent and reverent people.

If humanity were thinking clearly, it would extend the right of organic self-determination to all peoples.

How marriage keeps men stable


Liberal policymakers and pundits have spilled buckets of ink over the years promoting social-service programs as the solution to crime, yet—like the Times’s recent editorial—those opinion-setters cannot squeeze out one word about the most effective anticrime (and antipoverty) strategy: marriage. The marriage imperative civilizes boys. By contrast, in a world where it is unusual for a man to marry the mother of his children, boys fail to learn the most basic lesson of personal responsibility: you are responsible for your children. Freed of the social expectation that they will have to provide a stable home for their offspring, boys have little incentive to restrain their impulses and develop bourgeois habits.

City Journal


Something to think about.

Religious teens are less sexually screwed-up


The real difference is their more conservative and religious home and social environment. As she notes, when you compare both groups in this study with teens at large, the behavioral differences are striking. Here are just a few:

- These teens generally have less risky sex, i.e., fewer sexual partners.

- These teens are less likely to have a teenage pregnancy, or to have friends who use drugs.

- These teens have less premarital vaginal sex.

- When these teens lose their virginity they tend to do so at age 21 -- compared to 17 for the typical American teen.

- And very much overlooked, one out of four of these teens do in fact keep the pledge to remain chaste -- amid much cheap ridicule and just about zero support outside their homes or churches.

WSJ


So the big media hit piece on religious teens was wrong because it compared pledge-taking religious teens to other religious teens, found a minor statistical difference, and hyped it into an "ironic" story.

How responsible.

Liberal site DailyKos tries to censor flood of leftist anti-Semitism

Holy mackerel.

DailyKos Anti-Semitism

Popular left-wing/liberal (conflatable terms) blog DailyKos has been dealing with a flood of leftist posts mentioning ZOG, Zionist conspiracies, Kennedy assassinations, the whole gig.

Here's one gem:


In doing so, it incursed beyond the border previously agreed in 1949 Armistice treaty to take advantage of the animosity between Israel and the numerous opponents to commence the Six-Day War that covered a significant portion of gains (Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza) and staked East Jerusalem in the process that culminate their victory with celebratory weeps of nationalistic joy. It thus emerged as a major power and a formidable challenger of existing Arabic powers that will decide the fate of the world, beginning with November 22, 1963 coup d'etat in CIA-MOSSAD coordinated assassination of President Kennedy which unnaturally led to the hasty re-evaluation of American foreign policy for adjustion that align with the interests of Israeli state for total compatibility in irreversibly entangled alliance.

DailyKos


What?

How political morality replaces organic society


"One of the guys convicted was African-American. I don't remember any overt racism. You're in a war, and you're the good guys and they're the bad guys, and that's how most Americans see the world."

The Guardian


Either you have organic society, or your society gets neurotically self-conscious, and then you have an imposed political morality consensual reality layer that confuses everything important.

Cold War II

The Russians want Ukraine back. Strategy: starve and humiliate them into attacking. Hey, it worked against the Japanese for the USA, and against the Germans for the UK.


Gazprom shut off Ukraine's gas supply last Thursday after saying it had missed $2 billion in payments. It acknowledged that Ukraine may have paid part of that amount, but said that still leaves Kiev $614 million in debt. Ukraine denied owing the money and is currently meeting its domestic needs with supplies from storage facilities.

Russia is the world's biggest producer of natural gas and supplies Europe with more than 40 percent of its imports -- mainly via the pipelines through Ukraine.

Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece and Germany did not blame either side in the dispute for the cuts -- only the dispute itself.

CNN


Conveniently in the midst of winter, this gives all sides a pretense under which they can do something stupid and retributive.

DNA, like strings, can entangle over distance


Scientists are reporting evidence that contrary to our current beliefs about what is possible, intact double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. Somehow they are able to identify one another, and the tiny bits of genetic material tend to congregate with similar DNA. The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.

Daily Planet


More to this universe than meets our (materialistic, individualistic, fearful) eyes.

More politically correct madness


Ministers are considering plans to force companies into publishing in-depth details of their employee's salaries, ordered by gender.

In a move intended to eradicate the gender pay gap once and for all, the government is considering plans to shame companies into paying both male and female employees fairly.

Should the plans be approved, private companies will be required to publish annual figures specifying the number of male and female employees in each of their different pay grades. A 'pay inequalities' league table would then be developed from the results, designed to name and shame the companies with the largest gender pay gap.

Money


Thus completely ignoring individual traits and abilities.

Someone can be female AND incompetent, but this doesn't convey that.

Someone can be female AND 85% competent, so still a good worker, but maybe not as valuable as someone male AND 95% competent.

But this ignores that.

Why hipsters are wrong


It seems the underlying argument is that food and palates have evolved over the past 10 years. People now seek a sophisticated, cleaner, more wholesome dining experience as opposed to the caveman-like proportions of sizzling beef and pork, dripping in sticky barbecue sauce and deep-fried accompaniaments served up at the shack.

And yet, three months after opening, the 200-plus seat restaurant continues to pack its tables, night after night.

The Times


The hipsters, opinion industry workers, critics and Nanny State finger-wagging naggers will tell you that we have "moved on" and "Progressed" and are now "enlightened" and don't need or like certain things.

I have the opposite viewpoint:

There is nothing new under the sun.

We are as we always have been. Some things will always be tasty, others will always be true, and most of these "primitive" opinions and food options exist because they're a good adaptation to reality.

Spend a long day working hard -- not typing opinions into some nitwit culture magazine -- and you'll appreciate real food(tm).

Another civil rights debacle: criminal morons provoke police, get accidentally shot


Grant was a butcher at Farmer Joe's Marketplace in Oakland's Dimond district, family members said. They said he loved to play basketball and video games and hang out with friends. He had been in some trouble, they said, but was doing better in recent months in an effort to be a good father.

According to sources, Grant had a prison record. Details were unavailable Sunday.

A source also revealed Sunday that BART police had been on edge before Grant's shooting because two guns had been recovered in separate incidents along the rail line in the hour before the shooting.

In one of the incidents, a teenage boy with a semiautomatic pistol had fled from police and jumped off the West Oakland Station platform, breaking several bones while landing. In another, the source said, a revolver was recovered after a fight at the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.

The officer who shot Grant appears to try to put cuffs on him before drawing his weapon and firing. In the video, Grant appears to struggle with the officers, though it is unclear exactly what he was doing.

BART officials declined to say whether the officer was carrying a Taser - a device that sends out two electrical probes and can incapacitate its target - when he shot Grant. The agency uses Tasers but does not have enough of the expensive devices to give one to every officer.

"It is, without a doubt, the most unconscionable shooting I have ever seen," said Burris, who has won several damage awards against Bay Area police departments and worked on Rodney King's civil suit against the city of Los Angeles. "A price has to be paid. Accountability has to occur."

SFG


I've respun this article to show context. Criminal moron engages in stupid behavior while others are engaging in stupid behavior, putting under-equipped officers on edge, and an accident happens. Community screams about racism when they really want money.

You are afraid of life itself


But some parents are ditching fairytales, believing they are politically incorrect or 'too dark' to read to children, a survey has found.

One in four mothers has abandoned the likes of Cinderella and Rapunzel in favour of The Gruffalo or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written in 1969 by Eric Carle.

One in ten parents even said Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs should be re-titled - because 'the dwarf reference is not PC'.

Rapunzel is considered 'too dark' and Cinderella outdated, because she is forced to do the housework.

The poll of 3,000 British parents, carried out by TheBabyWebsite.com, revealed 66 per cent believe traditional fairytales have stronger morality messages than modern equivalents.

The Daily Mail


Morality requires having good and bad options in life. Political correctness wants to make every option good, so even a crack-addicted homeless garbageman who votes Republican feels OK... well maybe not that last part.

Monday, January 05, 2009

More health from modern society


Of 2,000 16- to 25-year-olds surveyed for the Prince’s Trust, 12% said their life was “meaningless”, whilst 14% thought “life has no purpose”. One in five felt like crying “often” or “always” and nearly half (47%) felt regularly stressed.

Further reasons for unhappiness included feeling no sense of community, not feeling safe to walk around at night and not having anything to do. Having a dead-end job was also cited as a major contributing factor.

CCCUK


Epic fail.

Modern marriage is misdirected

A few neat stats from a UK article on marital breakups:


Two in five reported increased levels of happiness following their split - though just 29 per cent of men said they were happier, compared with 49 per cent of women.

The survey’s revelations about British relationships included the finding that 17 per cent of marriages are entirely sexless, a potential trigger of infidelity, cited by two in five (38 per cent) people as key factor for divorce.

The other common reasons for splits were abuse (34 per cent) and boredom, cited by almost one in three (29 per cent) people.

And with 17 per cent of divorced men blaming financial problems for the end of their marriage, the credit crunch is putting extra pressure on relationships in trouble.

Times Online

London resembling Detroit


London lost more than a third of its residents in an exodus to the countryside during the last decade with 1.8 million immigrants pouring into the captial to replace them.

However, this net loss from internal migration was more than offset by 1.8 million international migrants who arrived in the city during this period – many eastern Europeans willing to undertake low-paid work.

The Telegraph


The original people leave, replaced by the cosmopolitan and stateless people who now take over.

Sad and pointless.

What do property taxes pay for


Support for property-tax rollbacks is building from Arizona to New York, fueled by angry homeowners in some locales who are seeing rising tax bills despite plunging home prices.

In Indiana, a cap on property taxes enacted last year became effective Jan. 1, and lawmakers are planning to vote this year on whether to put before voters a constitutional amendment that would cap taxes permanently at 1% of a property's value.

WSJ


One of the many ways you pay for pluralism is that local communities are encouraged to provide a vast array of services for people who in former times would have been turned away.

Infrastructure costs -- hospitals, police, roads, public facilities, education -- eat up most of this cost. And why are they so expensive?

It's a laundry list. Illegals come to mind for many. For others of us, however, the question is one of pluralism in general.

Communities are now expected to provide a diversity of services, even for homegrown diversity, and it costs a lot more. With pluralism comes a rise in disorder, which requires more infrastructure and services.

For government, when things were heading up and up, it seemed like a good bet to keep adding more government. Anti-drug cops, anti-drug lectures. Signs in Spanish. More facilities for different types of activities. Education: English as a second language, special education, and trendy new types of education.

Now people are seeing that we didn't have the money all along.

Public education is no longer education

It's indoctrination, and parents who can afford to are fleeing to private schools or home-schooling:


The number of home-schooled kids hit 1.5 million in 2007, up 74% from when the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics started keeping track in 1999, and up 36% since 2003. The percentage of the school-age population that was home-schooled increased from 2.2% in 2003 to 2.9% in 2007. "There's no reason to believe it would not keep going up," says Gail Mulligan, a statistician at the center.

USAT

We want all criminals to be not guilty

More revisionist history -- liberals want us to think that all screwed up behavior is OK, so we excuse their own personal screwed up behavior:


Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century." They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy." This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean.

Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply.

In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas."

Huffinton


Things aren't perfect. So turn to screwed up behavior.

He fails to mention the reason Somalia became the world's dumping ground: all attempts at government have failed. If you fail that big, you become a wasteland.

The correct response is not to praise the pirates (although anyone dumping nuclear waste can be shot).

Liberals are hedonists not ideologues

This man goes from self-righteousness to groveling self-debasement in about four paragraphs:


We could never, however, drive an SUV, because they are unspeakably evil. I'm intimately familiar with liberal self-righteousness. I've been to the Unitarian Church. I've even flashed my own peacock feathers from time to time. I didn't eat meat in college, in part, I now think, just so I could say so.

My most recent major purchase prior to this car was actually an SUB, a sport utility bicycle, rigged out with massive panniers so I can haul everything from groceries to a 30-inch Weber grill around town without my car, thumbing my nose at the SUVs stuck in traffic. I ride my SUB to work every day -- and to the neighborhood farmers' market, where I buy locally grown produce. In the summer, I cook my curry-cream squash soup (am I turning you on, Volvo drivers?) in a solar oven.

Signing off on my new SUV (There. See? I wrote it) was a shock. But when I climbed into the high cockpit, the cushy seats had a surprisingly analgesic effect on my conscience. The quiet of the cabin at highway speeds was gentle on my ears. And the view is great from up there, way above the tiny little cars.

Here is the dirty little secret about SUVs: They're horrible for everyone except the guy in the passenger seat. Then they are great. And what a deal! Too bad SUVs are killing the planet.

Thalon


Translation: I ride a bike and cook vegan goop in my solar oven so that I'm better than you. Until it's convenient and I need an SUV for, uh, the kids. And then I'm still better than you, because I can ironically admit it.

Can we admit now that secular humanism is Christian morality without the higher goal of God?

Can we admit now that secular humanism, liberalism, moralism, hipsterism, self-righteousness and egodrama are one and the same?

Cities destroy your brain


While the modern city might be a haven for playwrights, poets, and physicists, it's also a deeply unnatural and overwhelming place.

Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it's long been recognized that city life is exhausting -- that's why Picasso left Paris -- this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so.

A city is so overstuffed with stimuli that we need to constantly redirect our attention so that we aren't distracted by irrelevant things, like a flashing neon sign or the cellphone conversation of a nearby passenger on the bus. This sort of controlled perception -- we are telling the mind what to pay attention to -- takes energy and effort. The mind is like a powerful supercomputer, but the act of paying attention consumes much of its processing power.

Natural settings, in contrast, don't require the same amount of cognitive effort.

Boston Globe


Not surprising. Cities are utilitarian places; our minds don't work by deconstruction.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

10% of population have souls


About 10 percent of the mature couples had the same chemical reactions when shown photographs of their loved ones as those just starting out.

Using brain scans, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York have discovered a small number of couples respond with as much passion after 20 years together as most people only do during the early throes of romance, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported.

"The findings go against the traditional view of romance -- that it drops off sharply in the first decade -- but we are sure it's real," said Arthur Aron, a psychologist at Stony Brook, told the Sunday Times.

CNN


You mean the MODERNIST view of romance, don't you?

This isn't incompatible with the view that 90% of humanity are opportunistic, parasitic monkeys, while 10% make the world continue to function.

Why not lose the 90% dead DNA load? They're clearly people without souls.

Race, Biology and Morality: The New War


Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behavior as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide "races") adapted to local circumstances by a process known as "co-evolution" in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. The best documented example of this process is the co-evolution of genetic mutations that maintain the ability to fully digest lactose in adulthood with the cultural innovation of keeping cattle and drinking their milk. This process has happened several times in the last 10,000 years, not to whole "races" but to tribes or larger groups that domesticated cattle.

Recent "sweeps" of the genome across human populations show that hundreds of genes have been changing during the last 5-10 millennia in response to local selection pressures. (See papers by Benjamin Voight, Scott Williamson, and Bruce Lahn). No new mental modules can be created from scratch in a few millennia, but slight tweaks to existing mechanisms can happen quickly, and small genetic changes can have big behavioral effects, as with those Russian foxes. We must therefore begin looking beyond the Pleistocene and turn our attention to the Holocene era as well – the last 10,000 years. This was the period after the spread of agriculture during which the pace of genetic change sped up in response to the enormous increase in the variety of ways that humans earned their living, formed larger coalitions, fought wars, and competed for resources and mates.

The protective "wall" is about to come crashing down, and all sorts of uncomfortable claims are going to pour in. Skin color has no moral significance, but traits that led to Darwinian success in one of the many new niches and occupations of Holocene life — traits such as collectivism, clannishness, aggressiveness, docility, or the ability to delay gratification — are often seen as virtues or vices. Virtues are acquired slowly, by practice within a cultural context, but the discovery that there might be ethnically-linked genetic variations in the ease with which people can acquire specific virtues is — and this is my prediction — going to be a "game changing" scientific event. (By "ethnic" I mean any group of people who believe they share common descent, actually do share common descent, and that descent involved at least 500 years of a sustained selection pressure, such as sheep herding, rice farming, exposure to malaria, or a caste-based social order, which favored some heritable behavioral predispositions and not others.)

I believe that the "Bell Curve" wars of the 1990s, over race differences in intelligence, will seem genteel and short-lived compared to the coming arguments over ethnic differences in moralized traits. I predict that this "war" will break out between 2012 and 2017.

Edge


On the left, people freak out because we mention race at all.

On the right, people freak out because we at this blog do not condemn any race or pick any race as superior.

However, we do have one radical position regarding the biggest "elephant in the room" of modern liberal democracy: we know from history that multiculturalism does not work.

Why does multiculturalism fail?


  • Different abilities caused by different evolutionary paths equals constant infighting.

  • People on the left use pity for disadvantaged groups to make themselves look more altruistic. People on the right sell fear. Either way, from either side, you get the weaker leaders not the honest ones.

  • Culture is all that holds back commerce, in any age, from taking over a society. Multiculturalism obliterates that.

  • Ethnicity (including race) is culture. If your ancestors develop a culture, it is because they adapted to it. This violates the taboo that says humans are above nature, not shaped by it.

  • Without a group identity, people are forever casting about for invented identities, which produces "New Age" style thinking: Buddhist one week, Italian Mussolinist the next, gay porn star the next, Scientologist the next, etc.

  • Each ethnicity has produced unique traits that are worth preserving.

  • The genetics of hybridization produces one generation with hybrid vigor, and then every following generation careens downward to a lowest common denominator.



These are blasphemous truths that our society will not face.

Mr. Haidt's article just resurrects the debate in another form.

People hide from modern society


Thousands of rare dolphins and whales have been discovered living near a deep sea channel off the coast of East Timor.

The "hot spot" of marine animals contained many protected species including blue and beaked whales, short-finned pilot whales, melon headed whales and six types of dolphin.

In just one day, as many as 2,000 whales in eight separate pods – each one containing up to 400 mammals – were spotted over a 30-mile stretch of coast.

The Telegraph


Based on my experience with humanity, about 92 out of 100 people buy into the modern illusion. This potent combination of individualism, egoism, narcissism, faith in technology, moral self-righteousness (sorry, "Progressivism"), and negativity renders them unable to see anything other than their own neurotic confusion about values and, in their misery, a need for uplifting/profound/distracting entertainment and pharmaceutical products.

That remaining 8 out of 100 come from varied social origins, although very rarely poverty, and they are not fooled. They know modern society is a death trip. They know it has nowhere to go but down and that actually, it's a neurotic hell in which we live. They know that people are false and motivated by the basest of desires, yet are excellent at hiding it, and that most people want them to hide it so they can cruise on in oblivion and narcissistic hermetic sealing against reality.

In the dolphin world, that 8 out of 100 have realized that humanity is on a rampage as it races to destroy itself not with nuclear weapons but with overgrowth and disorganization, and so they've run out to the center of the ocean to get the hell away until the storm blows over.

Just like in the human world, those 8 out of 100 are living very quietly, trying to stay out of the public focus, earning a living and hiding from the disaster around them, because they know it will eventually blow over, and then they can start a new non-failing civilization.

And the fall...of web advertising

You can fool people for months, years, decades, centuries, millenia, but eventually what comes to rest is that unworkable solutions always collapse, even if people by believing in them keep them afloat for a long time.


Most of the discussion of ad spending and GDP (non)growth skips lightly over the question of value, but it's a question that's worth asking. Specifically, what if the end result of all of this pain and trauma will be not a return to the "normalcy" of the past decade but a reappraisal and repricing of the basic units of online display advertising?

What advertisers buy when they purchase a magazine or TV ad is slice of the attention of some subset of that media object's audience. And the ads that they create for those purchased slices are attention-worthy objects in and of themselves, e.g., Angelina Jolie posing with a diamond watch, or a hilarious vignette centered around a brand of beer.

A web page, in contrast, is typically festooned with hyperlinked visual objects that fall all over themselves in competing to take you elsewhere immediately once you're done consuming whatever it is that you came to that page for. So the page itself is just one very small slice of an unbounded media experience in which a nearly infinite number of media objects are scrambling for a vanishingly small sliver of your attention.

This being the case, it's entirely possible that cash-strapped advertisers will have exactly the same kind of "moment of clarity" that shopaholic consumers are reportedly having now that they've seen entire store inventories marked down 50 percent or more in pre-Christmas sales—that is, they may say to themselves, "We knew all along that this stuff was made in China for a tiny fraction of what it sells for here; we were nuts to pay so much in markup for it."

In conclusion, the online advertising experiment in which so many of us have engaged is really only ten years or so old. Those who say that it's "mature" are not only mistaken, but they drastically underestimate what a true break the web is from the offline media that came before.

Ars Technica


Insightful.

There's also an even bigger problem -- the net ad-clickers tend to be the least desirable consumers, which is people working unimportant cubicle jobs and voting democratic or staying at home on disability:


The study illustrates that heavy clickers represent just 6% of the online population yet account for 50% of all display ad clicks. While many online media companies use click-through rate as an ad negotiation currency, the study shows that heavy clickers are not representative of the general public. In fact, heavy clickers skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44 and households with an income under $40,000. Heavy clickers behave very differently online than the typical Internet user, and while they spend four times more time online than non-clickers, their spending does not proportionately reflect this very heavy Internet usage. Heavy clickers are also relatively more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career services sites – a markedly different surfing pattern than non-clickers.

StarCom


So what we're seeing is hype on two levels:


  • The idea that internet clicks come from a valuable audience. The valuable audience shops by research; internet clicks come from people with nothing better to do.

  • The idea that internet advertising supplants big media advertising. In contrast, people arrive at sites because big media hypes them; they then are saturated in ads during a flurry of click-throughs and retain little.



This in turn conceals an ugly truth -- people are hungry for some kind of gatekeeper of the information they trust:


"The one-to-many road of traditional journalism, yes, it is threatened. And professional journalists need to acclimate themselves to an environment in which there are many more contributors to the discourse," says Mr Nachison.

"The notion of a gatekeeper who filters and decides what's acceptable for public consumption and what isn't, that's gone forever."

Mr Nachison argues blogs have become independent sources for images and ideas that circumvent traditional sources of news and information such as newspapers, TV and radio.

"We have to acknowledge that in all of these cases, mainstream media actually plays a role in the discussion and the distribution of these ideas," he told the BBC News website.

BBC


I'll submit a further observation: blogs follow the mainstream media.

Although the BBC hasn't discovered this, blogs are a hierarchy. The big ones bring in 100,000 people or more a day, and the little ones bring in fifty or more a day, with several levels in between. In five years, most of the 50-people-a-day blogs will be gone because they take a ton of time and don't return enough prestige or money to be worth it.

They also encourage paranoiac personal drama. Remember Justin Hall and Links.net? (For the record, I spoke with him via email back in the day, and he's a good fellow who got caught up in a bad practice.)

The biggest blogs cite sources we can all trust: The Chicago Tribune. The Wall Street Journal. The Economist. The Washington Post. They are using big media as their sources, beginning conversations on the implications of what the media reports in an attempt to be "objective."

Occasionally, blogs break stories... by publishing rumors that respectable outlets won't touch, in the same way the National Enquirer beat us all to the John Edwords lovechild story.

But what defines the news these blogs are reporting is the mainstream media, because as much as we hate to admit it, the "one reporting to many" model is where we can get everyone on the same page about an issue and begin that conversation. If it's continued in blogs or their pre-internet version, the pub, great.

We have learned too many times that internet email chains, blogs, specialty newspapers and the like can be wrong and do little to correct themselves.

Watch for this recession to show us the declining value of internet advertising, and the rising value of respectable centralized media that is willing to, like 2008's mega-success story The Economist, stick to the facts and check them well.

American society peaked in the 1960s


Future historians will note that American society peaked in the late 1960s. Culturally, this is a foregone conclusion. We listen to our parents’ music and call it "classic rock," a canon that can be approached but never surpassed. When we think of art, we think of Warhol and Rothko. Our top-selling cultural products have names like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek"—nostalgic Baby Boomer dreams that one day man will dance amongst the heavenly spheres, whereas in reality we have come crashing down, Icarus-like, in fiery debris. After the sun-bright Baby Boomer generation flared into supernova, it collapsed into a black hole.

We knew all this long ago. We were called the "slacker" generation. But how could we not be, after Free Love turned to AIDS, we saw Peace commodified and sold for junk bonds, and realized the calls for "revolution" were nothing more than the mewling of infants begging to be indulged? Our coming-of-age movies were "Reality Bites" and "Fight Club." Our famed irony and sarcasm were not a sign that we value nothing: They were self-defense in a world where nothing is valued. This is the world the Baby Boomers, the so-called flower-children, have left us: A world poisoned by me-firstism, by NIMBYism, by I-got-mine-ism. Our parents' generation has rebutted the hard work and sacrifice of our grandparents with short-term thinking and situational morality justified by Excel spreadsheets.

We grow into middle age not surrounded by prosperity and security, but by our doubts and fears. Even as the rich have gotten richer, we have seen our standard of living fall. The middle class is barely reproducing itself, bifurcated into those barely treading water and those on an endless paper chase after useless honors. Our hopes have been dashed, our dreams sold for firewood to keep warm and hold back the wolves for one more night.

CMF


All true, but he doesn't look into the source: egotist of the baby boomers, something the NIMBY generation has faithfully replicated. Good thinking.

A rumor-based information society


The bottle cap hoax illustrates a phenomenon that may become more common as trust in old institutions like newspapers erodes and the power of propelling news - true and false - shifts to less formal networks of knowledge like the Internet and e-mail.

"Now," Adair says, "not only is that rumor making an end run around the media, it has a certain credibility because of who's sending it" - namely, the friends and relatives who pass along chain e-mails. In other words, you may not trust the St. Petersburg Times, but you still trust Uncle Al not to steer you wrong.

"Once these large institutions are not trusted, then rumors have much more power," says Nicholas DiFonzo, a professor of psychology at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the author of "The Water Cooler Effect."

"As people trust the press less and less, the public will be influenced by rumors more and more," he said.

WVG


We learned not to trust government.

Then we learned not to trust media.

We still trust Hollywood, because their propaganda pretends to be entertainment.

And we pretend to trust each other.