August 23, 2019

15-year cover song echoes: "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

Both the original by Procol Harum and cover by Annie Lennox are from a manic phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (1967 and 1995). Both are slow songs, showing that "manic" does not mean constantly bouncing around in a frenzy, but sometimes feeling carefree and almost invincible -- as opposed to the refractory period feeling of the vulnerable phase, or the return to normal energy levels during the warm-up phase.

This pair also fits into a pattern that I've discussed before, one with very few examples. That is, a mellower cover of an intense original -- but using more synthetic instrumentation than the original, rather than more acoustic. The usual move is to switch from electronic to acoustic in order to reinforce the mellower interpretation (e.g., the "Unplugged" era of the 1990s).

Here, the original is not fully acoustic, but it does have a piano, and sounds more naturalistic at any rate compared to the distinctly more synth-y and danceable cover version. You'd think the synthetic timbre and danceability would be reinforcing a higher-energy interpretation of the original, but it's much more mellow -- a pleasing surprise.





August 21, 2019

Political junkies are all busty women and boob men

I've had a hunch about this for awhile, but three posts today drove the point home (here, here, and here). Political junkies are either busty women or the boob men who are drawn to them, rather than what you'd see in the population at large -- some boob men and some ass men, some buxom women and some bootylicious women.

Those three are from the anti-woke part of the Left, but you see the same boob orientation on the Right, where they're fixated on AOC and Ben Shapiro's sister (e.g., here, and the MAGA grifter women who show off their front rather than backside).

The only ones from Twitter who I recall carrying some meat in the seat are "haramgirlfriend" and "as_a_woman". But they're both busty, too, so it's not such an exception to the rule. And most of their reply guys focus on their boobs, not their asses. I don't read many accounts, so there could be others, but the basic point remains. I can't think of one who is a member of the IBTC, while having curvaceous hips-ass-and-thighs, which is a common body type.

You see this with political figures as well: the majority of junkies obsess over AOC's chest, while Tulsi's apple bottom goes sadly unnoticed.

The only place I've seen ass appreciation is in the subreddit for Cumtown, but then they're the least strictly political. Some of the Chapo Trap House hosts use "PAWG," though only ironically, as far as I can tell. (If they really are ass men, they're using an ironic tone to cover that up, being surrounded by boob men in their social / online circles.)

In what way is the political junkie world unusual, so that it's far more boob-oriented than the ordinary world? Not something that distinguishes Left from Right, since this holds across the ideological spectrum.

The main difference to me seems to be cerebral vs. corporeal, with cerebrals being boob people and corporeals being ass people. Wanting to engage in online discourse all day long could not be any less kinesthetic of an activity, compared to wanting to work with tools / crafts, play sports, or go out dancing.

The link is how animalistic their inclinations are -- using tools, physically playing around, and dancing are found throughout the animal kingdom, where the default sexual position is from behind, hence the focus on the hips-ass-and-thighs. Symbolic language, abstract concepts, logical arguments, rhetorical tricks, irony, meta-ness, etc., are uniquely human, as are the face-to-face sexual positions, and the focus on the front-facing body parts.

August 19, 2019

Elizabeth Warren is 2016 Ted Cruz, a cosplay insurgent attacking the populist realigner, a polarizing culture warrior with no broad appeal

As Warren continues to rise in the Democrat primary polls, while Bernie stagnates or declines, it's worth emphasizing what her role is. Quite simply, she is the Democrat version of Ted Cruz from the 2016 GOP primaries -- a total insider and supporter of the status quo, but who has branded themselves as a rebel who will take on the system. Their purpose is to eclipse the actual realigner candidate, who is running on a populist platform with broad appeal, as opposed to the polarizing culture war platform of the pseudo-rebel.

The What's Left? podcast has been covering this relationship of Warren to Bernie for months. Warren's faux populism is detailed in this excerpt by Aimee Terese:



I pointed out the need for the Sandernistas to keep Warren out of the primary, back in January 2018, after the complete failure of the Trump realignment meant that Independent populists had to look to the other populist realigner to pursue their goals -- El Bernarino. Warren would only confuse matters and split much of the vote away from him:

Zogby polling for potential candidates shows Bernie with a solid 10-15 point advantage over Warren, as of late 2017. So the first move is to persuade Warren not to run, and better yet to endorse Bernie early on to solidify his status as the only populist candidate...

So please, let's encourage as many Oprah Winfreys, Mark Cubans, and Mark Zuckerbergs to run as possible [to split up the Establishment vote]. And lean on Warren to not run herself, if she were considering it, rather than split up the populist / progressive team.

Obviously that effort failed, if Bernie's people took it to begin with. Now we're seeing a repeat of the 2016 GOP primary, where the conservative media were either in the tank for Cruz, or at most said they "liked both" Cruz and Trump, to not alienate their audience. Now the lefty media, both MSNBC and Jacobin alike, are either 100% committed to Warren and glibly dismissing Bernie, or are at most saying "we like both," so that they hold together as much of their customer base as possible.

The only problem is that the Democrat voters are much bigger pussies than the Republicans were in 2016, and are pissing their diapers at the thought of taking down the rigged system and putting something better in its place. Liberals would rather troll the conservatives, even if it means losing again. As the opposition of this historical era (going back to 1980), they are used to being the losers -- so why not at least make the enemy miserable, to not feel so pathetic in certain defeat?

Well, the libtards may be content with Warren -- eager, in fact -- but what will non-partisans think about her? Especially ones who were pedal-to-the-metal populists last time? Why don't we just ask one -- me from 2016.

As early as April 2016, I wanted a Trump / Sanders unity ticket, mainly for ideological coherence (realigning the system out of neoliberalism, into something populist, and dropping the culture war as a political issue). But also for strategic value -- Bernie could've helped Trump rack up bigger wins in the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest, while Trump would shore up Bernie's abysmal performance in the Deep South and Florida. I said that would defeat an Establishment unity ticket of Clinton / Cruz, even allowing Texas to go for the status quo choice.

Before Trump, the last person I voted for was Ralph Nader in 2000, the first time I could vote. If I'd have been old enough and thinking politically, I would've voted for Perot in '92 (my mother's side of the family was really into him).

A hardcore Trump supporter (at least back in 2016), who wanted Sanders as the running mate, and whose only prior vote was for Nader -- if that person doesn't resonate with Warren, none of the other Independent populists will.

And resonate she did not -- I vaguely approved of her before, but came to bitterly despise her during the 2016 season, when she went all-in for Crooked Hillary over Bernie. She turned into Hillary Clinton's even more annoying Mini-Me.

Right after Warren endorsed Clinton (various comments to this post):

That's basically what sellout pseudo-prog Pocahontas Warren said in her endorsement of Crooked Hillary -- other people's lives are on the line, so the Bernie voters can't in good conscience vote 3rd party, write in Bernie, or stay home. If they don't fall in line behind the Wall Street warhawk, they've got innocent people's blood on their hands. Very subtle, very persuasive...

It's waking up a lot of well-meaning progs to the fact that supposed icons like Pocahontas Warren never were progressive, but were only putting on an act -- kind of like Ted Cruz pretending to be an outsider fighting for the little guy, when his roots are in the Dubya administration and Goldman Sachs...

Warren et al. are not progressives -- they don't give a damn about providing a more generous or secure social safety net, let alone bringing back good-paying jobs for those who are chronically relying on welfare. Instead, they only want to grandstand about their superior moral values, rather than do anything about the problem.

Later in July:

One of the party-wide changes this season has been the unmasking of supposed fellow travelers in the media, who now stand as bald-faced shills for the Establishment, against their populist-craving audience. For the Democrats, it began with Elizabeth Warren and then Rachel Maddow, right as Hillary clinched the nomination.

And while live-blogging their Convention (comments from here):

Michelle, Warren, Booker... Christ, this coalition.

Sassy mammies, naggin' grannies, and prolapsed fannies

Last time around, the Bernie delegates booed the hell out of Bernie himself when he endorsed the neoliberal Establishment candidate and told them all to vote for her to stop Trump. This time around, will they bother boo-ing? So many have become crippled by Trump Derangement Syndrome, they may actually cheer Bernie on as he says to forget all about populism, and vote for the Joe Biden / Bill Kristol ticket, because the specter of white nationalism is simply too menacing to focus on mundane economic issues for the foreseeable future.

Since Bernie will not get the nomination, the worst he could do is to allow himself and his supporters to be folded back into the neoliberal status quo, on the most risible grounds imaginable ("it's always going to be Germany in the 1930s"). He might as well go down fighting and martyr himself for the populist cause (figuratively speaking, to any feds listening in). He'll live on as a legend and inspiration, rather than fade out into obscurity.

He should not follow Trump in cucking to the Establishment -- look at how bitterly hated Trump has made himself even among his own voters, for refusing to fight for his platform upon taking office, and becoming just another generic Republican piece of shit. Not to mention what the other side will think of you no matter what -- at least make them respect you as a fighter.

That goes for Bernie's supporters as well -- if the neolib Establishment is intent on wiping out your faction, you have to be willing to take them down with you. Otherwise your loss is their gain -- your loss must be their loss too.

August 17, 2019

Taylor Swift lezzes out to late '80s singer-songwriters with "The Archer" and "Lover"

Earlier posts here and here have looked at the regular appearance of the dream pop genre during the vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, among both indie and mainstream artists.

"Delicate" by Taylor Swift comes pretty close to fitting into this pattern, but doesn't have enough of an instrumental drone, or vocal echoes / self harmony, to fully qualify. However, a new non-single song "The Archer" does (from her upcoming album). This is the final year of the current vulnerable phase (late 2010s), so it's just sneaking in before closing time at the emo bar.

Her new single, "Lover", is another good fit to the current mellow and vulnerable atmosphere. Between the two of them, I pick up vibes from a previous vulnerable phase -- the late '80s. Especially the singer-songwriters who were actual lesbians, or were popular among them: "Sweet Jane" by Cowboy Junkies (itself a phase-matching cover of a Velvet Underground song from the early '70s vulnerable phase), "Baby Can I Hold You" by Tracy Chapman, and even a little hint of "Rockin' Back Inside Your Heart" by Julee Cruise (or similar Angelo Badalamenti tune for David Lynch).

Taylor Swift is a closeted lesbian herself (her last girlfriend being Karlie Kloss), so it's natural for her to channel those vibes. It is unusual, though, for such a babyfaced lipstick lesbian to do so. She could use them to pivot toward a more mature audience during the upcoming restless, warm-up phase, which will echo the early '90s. That's when people are worn out of being worn out, and are intent on overcoming whatever vulnerable state they had just been in.

I could easily see her covering -- or at least channeling -- songs by lesbian / androgynous artists from the early '90s, like "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins or "Why" by Annie Lennox. These are not about letting yourself drown in vulnerability, but about rebuilding yourself or finding new confidence after being so beaten down during the vulnerable phase. It remains to be seen, though, if Millennials can pull off a mature persona.

These singer-songwriter tunes from Taylor Swift remind me of a photo shoot she did for Wonderland at the very end of the last manic phase, as it was about to shift into the current vulnerable phase (late 2014). These were included in an earlier post covering the revival of intimate portraits during the vulnerable phase. No matter how many times I see them, I still can't believe that's her. She's so smolderingly dark and hot, whereas she normally comes off as a libido-less lipstick lezzie. Maybe it's that these songs are about taking the risk of exposing herself, rather than hide behind her closeted persona. Whatever it is, they go very well together.


"The Archer"



"Lover"



August 14, 2019

Dem running mates are more right-wing than nominee, so Biden's will be a Never Trump Republican

With the fragmenting of Bernie's coalition from 2015-'16 -- some going for Warren, some for Biden, some for the nobodies -- it's guaranteed he won't be the nominee this time around either.

For a year or so, I've been hammering the theme of this election cycle being a repeat of the frustrated realignment of 1856, at the end of the Jacksonian era, when the opposition (Whigs) split into a realigning party (the GOP, for abolition of slavery) and a status quo party (American, Constitutional Union, etc., against abolition).

Typically, an ineffectual end-of-an-era president like Trump (or Carter, or Hoover) gets replaced by a realigner from the opposition party, which then becomes the new dominant party and establishes a whole new historical era. Carter was replaced by Reagan, who ended the New Deal and inaugurated neoliberalism. Hoover was replaced by FDR, who ended the Progressive Era and inaugurated the New Deal.

So after Trump's one term, that's it, right? Not so fast -- with polarization as strong as it was just before the Civil War, we're getting a fragmentation at every level of political organization. The two major parties are polarized, factions are polarized within a single party, camps are polarized within a single faction, all the way down until only micro-cliques are left that show basic solidarity within themselves.

With no organized, cohesive opposition to the status quo -- indeed, with a major faction of the opposition running on a solidly status quo platform -- there will be no dethroning of the dominant party and its era this time around. Maybe after the next recession / depression, that will force the opposition to get its act together and come up with something radically different.

I think most Bernie supporters have accepted the high probability that he won't get the nomination, and that one of the status quo candidates will -- literally anyone other than Bernie, including Warren. She was such a defiant neoliberal Reaganite that she only switched to the opposition in 1996, after Clinton had a proven track record for destroying the New Deal.

What will be hard for them to imagine -- but which they must steel themselves for in advance, so that they don't get wiped out later -- is that Biden's running mate will not be a populist, socialist, left-winger, progressive, or whatever, as an appeasement to the Bernie supporters to keep them on board for the general election.

On the contrary, he will be further to the Republican side than Biden himself -- and given how staunchly neoliberal and militaristic Biden's record has been, that leaves little room for anyone other than a Never Trump Republican.

This issue always comes up during Democrat primaries, and the dumb left-wingers never, ever learn. So let's review the history.

2016: Hillary's running-mate was Kaine, further to her right. NOT Bernie, or anyone close.

2008, '12: Obama's running-mate was Biden, further to his right. NOT Kucinich etc.

2004: Kerry's running-mate was Edwards, further to his right. NOT Dean or similar.

2000: Gore's running-mate was Lieberman, the furthest right of any Democrat. NOT Bradley, Nader, or anyone like that. Zombie Biden may well dig up zombie Lieberman's corpse as his running mate.

1992, '96: Clinton's running-mate was Gore, further to his right. NOT Jerry Brown or another liberal. In the early '90s, Gore was not an environmental activist -- he was most distinctive for being one of a few Democrat traitors who voted for Bush's Gulf War. And his wife, the would-be Second Lady, was the head of the Parents Music Resource Center -- the busybodies who forced the "Parental Advisory" stickers on album covers. She was to the right of Hillary.

1988: Dukakis' running-mate was Bentsen, further to his right. NOT Jesse Jackson.

1984: Mondale's running-mate was Ferraro, further to his right. NOT Jesse Jackson. Mondale was a Minnesota New Deal liberal, Ferraro was a moderate-to-conservative who had made her brand NOT being a bleeding-heart liberal.

You have to go all the way back to 1976 to find a running-mate to the left of the nominee -- Minnesota liberal Mondale as the running-mate for conservative Southerner Carter. They were chosen again in '80, as incumbents.

Of course, 1976 was still the New Deal era, when the Democrats were the dominant party. Ever since Reagan won in 1980 and realigned the system into neoliberalism, the opposition Democrats have used their running-mate to try to placate the voters of the dominant party who are closest to them -- potential swing voters -- and not those who are within their own party, but further away from the dominant party (anyone to the left of Dukakis, Clinton, et al.).

Republicans in the Reagan era can afford to choose more extreme figures for their running mates -- Palin, Cheney, Pence (more conservative than Trump), etc. They're in the dominant party, so they'll win just by inertia. Putting up a ghoul like Cheney isn't going to rub off on Bush, who most will see as Reagan's inheritor, and most voters wanted more of Reaganism in the 2000s.

Since we're still stuck in the neoliberal era, the Democrats will not select a running-mate for Biden who is to his left, but one to his right, who might coax some Republican swing voters over to the Democrats' side. Because the Democrats are rejecting populism, and insisting on elitist austerity, they will not try to coax over the legions of Trump voters who might give Bernie a chance for his populist and anti-militarist stances (two of Trump's signature issues from 2016).

Nope: they're going to try to lure a handful of socially liberal or moderate yuppie suburban Republicans who chafe at Trump's tone, "the tweeting," up-ending of norms, making Republicans look racist and xenophobic and bla bla bla. If you don't want Trump's stink on you, make the change to Biden and -- who, exactly, will entice them? Joe and Joe! Biden / Lieberman 2020. If not that, then some Never Trump Republican.

That brings us back to 1856 -- the presidential nominee for the status quo faction of the opposition was the most recent president for the opposition, Millard Fillmore. His closest counterpart today is Obama, but he's term-limited, so his second-in-command will have to do -- Biden it will be.

Fillmore's running mate was not someone further away from the dominant party (the Jacksonian Democrats, controlled by Southern plantation slaveholders), such as someone from the abolitionist faction of the opposition. Hell no, they wanted a bipartisan unity ticket, and chose a former operative from their enemy's party, Andrew Donelson. He was mainly involved in the Jacksonian Democrats' media organizations.

If the parallel holds this time, that would mean someone who was an operative for the Reaganite GOP, mainly in the media sphere, and who would defect from that party -- but not to realign the system, only to ensure the status quo. Some anti-populist, anti-Trump Republican from the neocon media -- Bill Kristol? Max Boot? They're common enough figures on liberal media, Democrat voters might actually recognize their names.

At any rate, whether it's Biden / Lieberman or Biden / Kristol, the Sandernistas had better be prepared to burn down whatever remains of the Democrat party after this election cycle, just as the abolitionists killed off the Whig party and founded a new one, the GOP, to pursue realignment. They must also be prepared to welcome aboard those legions of populist, anti-militarist Trump voters -- otherwise they've got less than nothing, no takeover of their own major party, and no defections from the other party.

None of that will happen by the 2020 election, so like the end of the Jacksonian era, the end of the Reaganite era will last for two unbearable back-to-back terms, not just the usual one. (Trump is not going to be the nominee, as documented here before. It doesn't matter who it is instead -- everyone in the GOP is a Reaganite, after the failed populist insurgency of Trump's 2016 campaign.)

Bernie supporters should carry out the rest of this cycle's work with an eye beyond it, toward the 2024 realignment, when they will be better able to kill off the Democrat neoliberal establishment, and convert legions of populist Trump voters.

They can start by telling their fellow libs to STFU about crying racism, white supremacy, fascism, Nazism, etc., whenever someone puts the American masses' welfare over integrating the entire globe into an American-run empire-and-labor-market. Nothing could be more contrary to populism, and alienating of potential defectors.

August 11, 2019

Epstein in the bigger picture

The elites have killed off Jeffrey Epstein to protect their own reputations -- formally and in the precise details -- informally and big-picture, people already know what's going on.

I'm not interested in the Epstein case for its own sake, but rather how it relates to other topics I've covered over the past several years. So in lieu of a comprehensive and definitive post, below is a loosely structured series of remarks on the case as it relates to broader topics.

Partisanship

Mostly it's the Right who are following the case, since it straightforwardly advances their party's interests against its rivals. Almost all of the criminality and shadiness in the Epstein orbit was from the Left / liberals / Democrats. The only exception on the Left are the diehard Bernie realignment supporters, since they too want to see the Democrat establishment blown apart.

But this partisanship means nothing will be done about it. Something this big needs broad bipartisan support, and right now it's a large chunk of socially conservative Republicans and a small minority of Bernie Democrats. Even combined, that's too small to achieve anything.

Social conservatives can't even get their own party's politicians to uphold basic sexual morality, forget anything bigger -- the Reaganite Supreme Court defended internet pornography, struck down sodomy laws, and sanctified gay marriage, while the New Deal era was famous for moral censorship of movies, TV, music, and comic books, vice squads breaking up gatherings at gay bars (Stonewall), and so on and so forth.

And Bernie Democrats have yet to reverse the sanctification of deviance among their fellow Democrats. So far, they are deferring to the "do anything" sexual morality, and minimizing their concerns about the exploitation of the weak by the powerful. Once you go with laissez-faire sexual morality, you're committed to libertarian outcomes like obscenely wealthy elites buying underage girls from poor countries to sexually traffic them among fellow elite members in the first world. Hey, "no one held a gun to their heads"...

In order for there to be bipartisan action about a large-scale public sex scandal involving underage victims, the perpetrators would have to be enemies of both sides, perhaps in different ways. The last such event was the revelations during the early 2000s about the Catholic church's abuse of underage boys, mostly from the '70s and '80s. The Left hated organized religion, and the Right hated the particular church -- Catholic rather than Protestant, and representing Ellis Islanders rather than founding stock. That combined pressure caused the organization to conduct a massive internal review, which was made public, and the awareness of that scandal persists to this day on both sides of the spectrum.

So far, the organizations of the Right that are just as responsible for covering up widespread sexual abuse of minors, have emerged unscandalized and unscathed, because there was no buy-in from the Right on the attack.

The most notorious is the Boy Scouts, whose abuse was part of the broader trend during the '70s and '80s. During the early 2010s, the LA Times spent enormous amounts of media capital exposing the full extent of this abuse, making troves of original documents freely available online. But there was almost zero mainstream conservative / Right / GOP interest in this story, because they like the Boy Scouts in general. They may not like homosexuals serving as scoutmasters, but that's not inherent to the institution, which they fundamentally like and trust, leading the Right to circle the wagons around their own organized cover-up of homosexual underage abuse.

And it's a joke to imagine that none of the Protestant churches had a similar record to the Catholic church during the '70s and '80s. But again, the Right fundamentally likes and trusts these institutions, so they'll see any abuse of underage boys, and organized cover-up thereof, as a regrettable anomaly and not something inherent to it. That would leave only the Left that hates all organized religion as the ones who'd be interested in abuse among Evangelicals or Mainliners.

Sectors within elite society

The elite is not a uniform class on a material level, so it is not uniform on a cultural level either. Some sectors of the elite gain their wealth from overseeing activity that is labor-intensive, and other sectors from activity that is informational and not labor-intensive. The labor-intensive sectors are moral conservatives, the informational sectors are moral liberals.

This difference in the forms of economic activity within the elites, and the correlated difference in moral worldviews, gives rise to the informational sectors being more prone to sex abuse scandals like the Epstein case, the Weinstein case, etc. And why so many in academia -- but not so many in military contracting -- are implicated in Epstein's crimes.

That's the best way to explain the Jewish angle in all these cases -- they cluster in the informational sectors (high verbal rather than visual IQ, cerebral rather than corporeal), and will be over-represented in the evil done by such sectors. But so will the gentiles who are involved in those sectors, or their political vehicles like the Democrat and Labour parties -- Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and so on.

The material sectors are not dominated by Jews, so any evil done there will reflect poorly on the Celtic and Germanic groups who dominate them. Rapes by the military stationed in Okinawa -- not Jews. Groping the immigrant peasant women who work on industrial-sized farms in Kansas -- not Jews. Texans trading underage boys with fellow oil barons from the Gulf -- not Jews.

The only solid Republican who is squarely involved in Epstein's crimes is Les Wexner, magnate of the Victoria's Secret (etc.) empire. Wexner's business is industrial-scale manufacturing, which means he supports Republicans, primarily so they can sign de-industrializing trade bills that allow his company to off-shore production to cheap labor colonies in the third world. Labor-intensive businesses have a vested interest in lowering the cost of labor. And yet, here he is mixed up with informational-sector elites. Why?

Because the Victoria's Secret fashion show, the Angels models, etc., made an interface between the media / entertainment sector (informational) and the manufacturing sector. Blind Gossip's insider source says that the VS models were among those who sexually served Epstein's clients, although it's unclear whether those models were underage or the more famous older ones.

This also explains why Trump ever got mixed up with Epstein. Contrary to widespread belief, Trump is not one of the rare Republicans who is linked to Epstein, and his link does not support a "both sides" argument. Trump only registered as a Republican in the early 2010s (after a stint as GOP during the '80s), preparing for his 2016 campaign. During the period of Epstein's underage sex trafficking ring, Trump was either Reform party, Independent, or Democrat (he publicly called for Speaker Pelosi to impeach President Bush, on CNN in the late 2000s, over the Iraq War).

And during the 2000s, Trump was not involved in the material sectors -- he was only a real estate developer back in the '80s, and gave it up after the early '90s recession wiped him out. He then pivoted to media / entertainment, and became the star of The Apprentice, and made big bucks by licensing out that media brand to actual real estate developers (and water bottlers, steak producers, etc.). During the Epstein years, Trump was a non-Republican from the media industry, who got Bill and Hillary -- not George W. and Laura -- to attend his wedding. He fit right in with the others in that world.

Still, I doubt that Trump did anything with the underage girls. His sexual deviances have been well known for a long time, and no one ever said he wanted to pay for or otherwise coerce young / underage girls into sex. He definitely gets off on pursuing socially taboo sexual targets -- his friends' wives, pornstars / Playboy bunnies, and most notoriously, his incestuous desires toward Ivanka. That's the only underage girl he's ever given a bad touch to, though desiring her because she was his daughter, not because she was underage.

Elite initiation ritual, or supplying demand?

On the general topic of elites having sex with underage boys and girls, in an organized and institutionalized fashion, there are two main explanations. The first is that the elites do not really want to have sex with underage people, but submit to doing so in order to assure their fellow elites that there now exists sufficient blackmail material that they can be trusted within the elite circle. It's an initiation ritual to cement trust within the in-group. The second is that the elites are guided by overweening ambition, given to an unusual degree of sin and perversion, and use their high degree of wealth, power, and influence to get what they want, even if it's not legal.

I favor the second, since initiation rituals are rare in frequency (usually one-time only), intense, and painful for the initiate. Getting jumped into a gang, getting hazed into a college fraternity, jacking off while sealed in a coffin to get into Skull & Bones (or whatever it is they do), and so on and so forth. In primitive societies, initiation rites may involve getting kidnapped without warning, beaten down, having to sexually service the older high-status males, and the like.

With the Epstein case and related cases, the events are periodic and ongoing, not rare or one-time only. They appear to be garden-variety sexual encounters, aside from the underage of the boy / girl -- not some incredibly intense sensation like getting the shit beaten out of you. High-intensity would be all-day orgies or some Rome-in-decline level decadence. And it doesn't seem painful for the "initiate" -- they seem to be eager participants who are getting pleasure out of it.

And it's not clear what organization or institution they're being initiated into -- "the elites" doesn't work, since they're elite by their wealth, power, or influence. Initiation is always into a particular gang, a particular fraternity, a particular secret society, a particular boarding school, a particular church, a particular monastic order. Commonalities can be found across all of these institutions, but they also come with their particulars to distinguish membership in their group as opposed to a rival group.

What is the organization that the Epstein activities are initiating the clients into, as opposed to some other elite organization with similar yet distinctive rituals? There's no answer.

So then we go with the "supplying demand" explanation. It could not be more obvious how sinful our elites are, and how willing they are to use their wealth, power, and influence to get what they want, legal or not.

This also explains why we didn't see such things during the New Deal era. We had elites back then, but they did not pursue hyper-competitiveness and laissez-faire -- they had bad memories of the near explosion of all societies by hyper-ambitious elites circa 1920. JFK had an affair with Marilyn Monroe, but did not retain the services of a sex trafficker of underage girls. Elites reined in their sins and ambitions more. Someone should look into the elites of the Gilded Age and the Fin de Siecle, who were more degenerate.

And yet there were still elite initiation rituals during the New Deal era, for fraternities, secret societies, churches, monastic orders, and so on and so forth. As usual, they were rare, intense, and painful.

Any theory of what's behind the Epstein-type sex rings needs to also explain why there was no such thing during the New Deal, and only the "supplying demand" explanation works there.

This also explains why Epstein-style revelations are doing so much to destroy the public's trust in the elites. If it were only a bizarre initiation ritual, we'd just write it off as the goofy stuff that weird elites get up to, to make themselves feel special. We would look down on their behavior, but not on the institutions they represent or control.

The public can tell that it's not just some initiation ritual -- can't you just beat the shit out of each other, or starve each other, or make each other clean up filth? That's how the institutions do it that the public still trusts -- the military, frats, churches, etc. Having sex with underage boys and girls? Uh, why do you need to do that in order to join the organization? Sounds more like you actually want to participate in that, knowing it's illegal.

So the public concludes that this Epstein stuff is just the elites abusing their wealth and power to satisfy their own individual sins, even if they're illegal, rather than pursue the collective welfare. That destroys our trust in them, in a way that their undergoing an initiation ritual does not.

Other topics in the comments

Those are the three big topics I've discussed over the years, and that relate to the Epstein case. But if I think of anything else, I'll write it up in the comments section.

August 10, 2019

Cover songs have disappeared, while movies & TV are all remakes

I've started looking more systematically into whether cover songs choose original versions that were from a matching phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. Probably won't have the full results and discussion for a few days.

But I did notice something striking so far -- there hasn't been a single cover song to make the year-end charts since 2006 ("Life Is a Highway"). That ends a tradition of cover songs being popular.

Even more bizarrely, this is the same period during which all hit TV shows and movies have become remakes, reboots, and other derivative forms.

What's the difference?

Songs are lyrical and more personally tied to their creators, whereas narratives are more impersonal and only loosely tied to their creators (except where the narrative is considered the distinctive work of an auteur).

Songs are also more tightly defined formally -- by their melody and lyrics, whose alterations turn it into a different song. Narratives are more loosely defined, with an overarching plot, themes, and character types, which can be altered somewhat without turning it into an entirely different story.

So, covering a song commits you more to the efforts of someone else, and is less of a showcase of your individuality. Remaking a movie requires less faithful of a commitment, and allows more individuality to show.

Whether the void of original ideas during the 21st century, and the rise of individuality since roughly 1980, is due to the production or consumption side does not matter here. The point is that, although the culture overall seems bereft of new ideas among producers, and/or uninterested in them at the mass audience level, the two types of media are reacting in opposite ways to the same trends.

In both of them, the makers want to showcase their individual awesomeness, despite a lack of originality. Movie makers can dress up someone else's child in their own individual styling and pass it off as their own creation, while songwriters cannot because everyone has such a narrowly defined expectation of what that other person's child is supposed to be like.

August 8, 2019

15-year cover song echoes: "Denise" and "Denis"

I haven't done a systematic look into whether cover songs fall within the same phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle as the original version, as I just did with nostalgia songs that pine for a particular cultural moment. (I have discussed examples every now and then, just not systematically.)

My sense is that they do, although the effect might not be as strong as it is for nostalgia songs. With nostalgia for a narrowly contained historical-cultural moment, you can't help but be in the same mood. But with cover songs, they're more open to interpretation, allowing an artist to take a bouncy, upbeat, carefree song from a manic phase and give it a more mellow, vulnerable, emo rendition during a refractory phase. I think it's still more natural to cover a song from the same phase that you're currently in, but there is more room for artistic license.

At any rate, until I have time for a more systematic investigation, I'll put up mini posts like this one to showcase examples.

Both of these songs were produced by the restless warm-up phase of the cycle, when people are stirring awake from their emo slumber of the refractory phase. They want to get their bodies moving -- giving rise to simplified, easy-to-dance-to music -- as well as exercise their social muscles, which have atrophied during their withdrawn phase -- marking a turn in tone toward the flirtatious.

Stylistically, this phase tends to be more stripped-down and back-to-basics, since it's the start of a new cycle. A cycle could hypothetically end after any stretch of three consecutive phases, but the prolonged emotional crash and drain, as happens during the vulnerable phase, is the most salient marking of the end of a series of cultural moments. When the energy level re-sets to the baseline, it's possible to start something new again.

The original is from the extraverted and cheerful form of doo-wop from the early '60s warm-up phase, which contrasted against the moody form of doo-wop from the emo late '50s. The cover is from the disco-punk late '70s warm-up phase, which felt nostalgia for pop music of the early '60s -- before the moody prog rock of the early '70s emo phase.

The original was a hit in the US, while the cover was only big in Britain and Europe, where the punk genre actually found chart success.

"Denise" by Randy & the Rainbows (1963):



"Denis" by Blondie (1978):



August 6, 2019

Gen Z is not yet a culturally self-aware generation

It's striking how long it's been since there were pop culture narratives that announced a new social-cultural generation.

Millennials started with the indie hit Thirteen in 2003, and really thrust themselves into the mainstream with Mean Girls in 2004. Those two set the tone for the rest of the 2000s (Juno, Superbad, etc.), and their influence runs right up through the latest major generation-defining movie, Lady Bird from 2017. That movie is Millennial to the core, starring later Millennials who are portraying earlier Millennials. It is set in 2002, perhaps imagining itself to be a "Millennial movie before it was popular," i.e. before Thirteen or Mean Girls.

That span of time has also seen a proliferation of reality TV portraying Millennials, mainly on MTV. For shows following a social circle over time, it began with Laguna Beach in 2004, which was spun off into The Hills in 2006, and culminated in two series -- Jersey Shore, and 16 and Pregnant, each beginning in 2009.

Rather than a new series of reality shows following a new generation, those original ones are still on the air, only now showing the Millennials not as teenagers but as adults 25 and older. Jersey Shore: Family Vacation portrays 30-somethings rather than early 20-somethings, as does The Hills: New Beginnings. Teen Mom OG has changed the format from showing current teenagers who are mothers, to those who are late 20-somethings but who were teenage mothers a decade ago.

You might offer the younger characters in Stranger Things from 2016 to now (but the other half of the young cast are Millennials in their 20s), or those in the indie movie Eighth Grade from 2018. Maybe in five years we'll look back and see them as the first in a series of Gen-Z narratives. Still, where's the first mainstream movie like Mean Girls or The Breakfast Club?

Until we see something like that, it's premature to refer to Gen Z as a social-cultural generation. They must have a collective self-awareness of their culture being a distinct break with the last generation before them. And so far, just about all narrative "youth" culture is still focusing on the Millennial audience, many of whom are now over 30.

Gen Z may (or may not) be aware of themselves as a distinct group in the technological, economic, or political domains of life, but certainly not as a distinct social-cultural group.

It seems like the first generation-defining movie comes out around the time when a generation's earliest members are 20 years old -- The Graduate (1967) for Boomers (late '40s births), The Breakfast Club (1985) for Gen X (late '60s births), and Mean Girls (2004) for Millennials (mid-'80s births).

This suggests that, given the absence of such a movie by 2019, Gen Z does not include late '90s births, who are more like late Millennials. Then Gen Z begins at least in the early 2000s -- possibly later -- and we won't know until the first defining mainstream movie comes out. Eighth Grade may be the indie prelude, though, so the major hit may arrive sooner than later, which still puts Gen Z as those born sometime during the 2000s.