August 30, 2019

Angela Nagle interview on the anti-woke left (further discussion)

Angela Nagle just did a long and wide-ranging interview with Justin Murphy, mainly on topics relating to the anti-woke left.

They ponder why there are so many women at the forefront of the anti-woke left, including attractive women. Another question, though: why aren't there any hot guys? From my exposure to the online left, the women don't seem to have anyone who they're ga-ga over within the left. No one who amasses an army of "reply girls".

I've heard them refer to Hasan Piker from The Young Turks, but that's understandable for someone who's on camera. I think the Red Scare ladies once said Nick Mullen from Cumtown is conventionally attractive, and he's certainly anti-woke and on the left. But generally, hot guys seem to avoid the left like the plague, while cute girls are if anything drawn more into it.

My hunch is they're more Independent and non-partisan, or somewhat to the right. I wouldn't be caught dead identifying as a "leftist" -- though not as a right-winger either -- and babes call me "hot," "cute," "gorgeous," etc. in their low-effort pick-up lines in dance clubs. (I don't see it or feel so, but then guys can't really tell what hot guys look like.)

Seems like the goal of spreading the message of anti-woke leftism should be for the women on the left to reach out to men and women who are Independent, socially moderate or conservative, and economically populist. The leftist women can't preach to the converted men, and male leftists are far less able to interact with men or women outside of their leftist bubble. Those few who are, like Michael Tracey or Kyle Kulinski, tend to balk at labels like "leftist" anyway.

They discuss my post on the ethnic composition of the anti-woke left, to which I'll add a couple more examples that I was reminded of yesterday. Nathan J. Robinson, evangelical woke-ist, is so WASPy he even fakes a British accent. And "shoe0nhead" from Twitter, anti-SJW Bernie/Tulsi supporter with a large following, who's Irish and Italian (though identifying more with the Italian side).

Murphy is still unaware that "the list" is only an appendix to a fleshed-out argument. He does favorably cite Anna Khachiyan's summary of my argument, but evidently the full post was too taboo for the social media commissars to present or link to, so he'd only seen screencaps of "the list" itself.

Nagle read the full post, though, and was more or less open to the argument. As far as I can tell, then, the only ones who at least skimmed the body, rather than rely on the commissars' screencaps, were Anna, Angela, and Aimee Terese -- not surprising why they're thought leaders on their side. They're not hidebound by silly taboos and parental advisory stickers.

It also makes me wonder if having immigrant parents, or being immigrants themselves, inclines people even harder against wokeness, since all three have at least one parent who migrated at some point. Obviously I mean within the ethnic groups already composing the anti-woke left -- excluding WASPs, Ashkenazi Jews, and upper-caste South Asians, mainly, but including the other Ellis Island groups and white Southerners.

Nagle is more defiantly anti-woke than Irish-Americans whose families have been living here awhile. Khachiyan is more anti-woke than Armenians who've been living here for several generations. And Terese is more anti-woke than Levantine Christians whose families migrated to the Anglo West 100 years ago.

Perhaps they have a keener sense of the uprooting and destabilizing effect of the expansion of the American empire, and are more ambivalent about its woke solution -- just reserve some seats at the elite table for the groups you bring under your sphere of influence, and who cares if those people have to abandon their homelands for the imperial core? (Terese's father moved to Australia rather than America, but it's still part of the broader Anglo empire.)

An earlier post predicted that over time monotheistic socialism will replace polytheistic identity politics / wokeness and the American imperial cult. This is on analogy with the rise of Christianity that ended the pluralistic polytheism and imperial cult of the Roman empire. Notice where Christianity came from -- the periphery, not the core. Its founder, Jesus, was an imperial subject but not an immigrant or coming from immigrant parents; he remained in and around Judea, where he was born. But Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, who spread the teachings and practices far outside of its home region, was not only an imperial subject but a member of a diaspora, his Jewish family living in southern Anatolia (Tarsus) rather than the Levant, let alone Judea. Still hailing from the periphery, though, like Jesus.

Nagle mentions that she's escaped woketard capital Brooklyn for Pittsburgh, probably the most anti-woke large city in America. It's in Appalachia. According to a recent survey, it's the least gay city, along with its southern Appalachian sister steel city Birmingham, Alabama. It's one of the least WASPy or Jewish cities, is full of the other Ellis Island ethnics, and is totally surrounded by Scotch-Irish hillbillies (including my mother's side of the family, a few counties to the west in Ohio). Disillusioned academics probably associate the look and feel of the city with Wonder Boys, while for romantics it will bring to mind Flashdance (as detailed in this post, one of the most darkly lit mainstream movies ever filmed, whatever you think about the plot and acting).

Nagle brings up Tulsi as an anti-woke role model for women, emphasizing how rare it is for someone on the left to be putting so much on the line for anti-imperialism (regardless of whatever label she would put on it). That ties back into my argument about wokeness serving the role of imperial integration -- it's the pluralistic ideological glue holding together a multi-ethnic sphere of influence.

If the left's ideological commitment is to wokeness, then they are materially committed to imperial integration (as long as our subjects receive fair and equitable treatment). Anything that would help to disintegrate the empire is contrary to wokeness, and thus anathema to most leftoids in America. That's why the woke-ists hate Tulsi so much. It's also why they aren't talking about removing American forces from Germany, Italy, and NATO generally, as well as from South Korea and Japan, where they've been stationed forever.

At most, the US left might object to a particular war or bombing campaign -- but not to the continued presence of our military around the entire world. It's not as though our occupation of the NATO countries is resulting in massive death and destruction, and the elites of all nations concerned are getting along perfectly well with each other. No one is calling each other ethnic slurs within NATO. American soldiers and generals don't make slant-eye faces at their Japanese subjects anymore, and aren't dropping more atomic bombs on them. So what is there for a woke-ist to object to? They are not anti-imperialist, but merely against the poor and inhumane treatment of our imperial subjects -- woke-ists are not against their subjection under us in the first place.

On the future of wokeness, Murphy thinks there's a backlash coming soon, while Nagle is less optimistic. I agree with a backlash coming around next year, as the 15-year cultural excitement cycle leaves the vulnerable refractory phase, where everyone feels victimized, and enters the restless warm-up phase, where they want to come out of their shells and mix things up again.

In this post I detailed how feminism changes across the three phases of the cycle, looking over multiple cycles. (Here is a quick recap of the excitement cycle model.) The next 5-year phase from 2020 to '24 will feel more like the late 2000s or the early '90s, with an explosion against political correctness, proper manners, and sensitive behavior. It may or may not have a populist / socialist cast to it, but it will be anti-woke for sure. Of course, during the next refractory phase (around 2030-34), we'll be in panic mode all over again.

Over the medium-to-long term, however, I see a rising persecution by the woke-ists against the socialists and anti-imperialists, as detailed at length in the post on monotheistic socialism. That historical analysis looked at many other examples, not just the breakdown of the Roman empire during the Crisis of the Third Century, but also of the Ottoman empire, and of the Fatimid Caliphate. As the American empire begins to seriously come apart, there will be a ruthless crackdown by the woke-ists, who believe that such an imposition will put the empire back together again.

But over the much-longer term, wokeness will die out in America just as polytheism and the imperial cult did in the Italian peninsula after Rome was over, and just as the millet system vanished from Anatolia after the Ottomans were over. A more single-minded moral system will replace it, and it seems clear that as of the Industrial Revolution, that will be some form of socialism (not the SJW-ism heresy of today).

Finally, Nagle says she's thinking of doing a podcast in lieu of getting back on social media platforms, because they're so toxic. I think she should start a blog instead, and write medium-to-long posts on her own schedule, without aiming the output at the online talk radio call-in show that we call social media. I've never understood the appeal of social media, and have never used them to "generate content". Such a pointless waste, unless you're terminally bored and your "content" is shitposting and food-fighting.

Even better, she should start a group blog with the three other women-of-A. Or two blogs between the four of them. Or something. More intimate, more productive, more collaborative (including when they comment on each other's posts), in a way that you can't do in 240-character tweets, or on a podcast where four hosts might talk over each other. Moderate the comments if they don't want retards piling in constantly. The last time blogs surged in popularity was the late 2000s, so it's only fitting for the same phase of the excitement cycle to see them come back into social-emotional style.

August 29, 2019

Wokeness' Puritan origins: A material analysis

Expanding somewhat on one of my comments to the post on the ethnic composition of the anti-woke left:

Wokeness is not unique to 21st-century America -- it's a variation on a timeless and placeless theme. The British Empire had something similar during their imperial heyday (Victorian: stiff upper lip, and White Man's Burden), as did the Roman Empire at their height (2nd C. AD: Stoicism, and polytheistic tolerance + imperial cult).

The function is social control -- to keep the commoners from getting too unruly, and to legitimate the elites. Isn't that needed for any society? Somewhat -- but especially so for a sprawling multi-ethnic empire whose leaders have soaring levels of wealth and power compared to the commoners.

There are two aspects:

1) Restraining libidinal desires for both the commoners (moral panics targeting urges of common folk), and the elites (self-denial, stiff upper lip, etc.). This keeps the mass of people from getting too rowdy and unruly to be governed by the elites. And it also legitimates the elites as being dispassionate altruistic stewards rather than parasites driven by selfish base urges like greed, lust, and gluttony.

2) Promoting harmony among varying groups in a multi-ethnic empire. This means buying off elites from peripheral groups who normally wouldn't be influenced by the imperial core, if it weren't an empire. It's both material funneling of resources to such secondary elites, as well as cultural / symbolic pluralism like honoring their regional gods (polytheistic tolerance) -- provided that everyone upholds the imperial cult. Without this buy-off, newcomer groups would chafe at being ruled by foreigners, and be a constant thorn in the side of the imperial core.

Puritans in America were just the initial material elites -- representing the mercantile and financial sectors of society, not the agricultural sector or the military sector (Southern slave-owners and martial elites, who lost the material and cultural war against the mercantile / financial Yankees).

The particular American form of wokeness is just a local version of the British imperial and Roman imperial ideology -- Stoicism and buying off exotic elites, to promote domestic social control and imperial integration.

This accounts for why American-style wokeness is not found very much in the left wings of other countries -- if they aren't multi-ethnic empires like us, they have no material reason to uphold identity politics among ethnic groups.

And if they're leading smaller-scale societies -- rather than a towering empire -- they don't have as much to prove about being responsible and virtuous. The greater the degree of wealth and power you're in control of, the greater your sense of responsibility is expected to be. If far less wealth and power is at stake, then who cares if the nation's leaders have a sweet tooth and get horny?

Trump, of course, violates both aspects of wokeness. He doesn't care about imperial integration, and regularly says he wishes we would cut loose our occupation of Germany, Italy, and NATO generally, not to mention South Korea and Japan. And he is infamous for gorging on junk food, paying pornstars to screw him, and unleashing his rage.

It's a clear signal of an empire in decline, and the elites would rather complain about the symptom, as though that could reverse the decline of the empire. The only way forward is to accept and speed up the breakdown of the empire, and enjoy having leaders like the normal, non-imperial countries have, whose private lives we won't care much about.

Lastly, this material analysis rejects the idealist / culturalist view that emphasizes the Puritans' control of the press and the academy (for a time, since overtaken by the other primary elite, Ashkenazi Jews). Control over cultural institutions stemmed from their material standing as the mercantile and financial elites, and their leading an empire toward integrating more and more exotic groups. The military may have conquered those groups in war, but the mercantile sector has to integrate them afterward, in peacetime, to keep the economic and political system well-oiled and harmonious.

August 28, 2019

Big swings in polls reflect response bias, not true change

Since nobody has remembered anything about polling from the last election, it's worth emphasizing that there is no such thing as a wild swing in polling support.

A recent Monmouth poll showed Biden dropping from his usual support of just over 30% to 19%. That had the effect of putting the frontrunner in 3rd place, behind Bernie and Warren, each of whom had 20% support.

Harris' average on Real Clear Politics was steady at 7%, then more than doubled to over 15% after the first debate where she slammed Biden over his busing record, only to tumble back to 7% after the second debate where she was the one getting slammed by Tulsi over her severely punitive record as a prosecutor.

Neither of those two changes is real, although they may reflect a subtle change in the same direction. Biden's continuing cognitive meltdown may be making some supporters less supportive -- but only by a small amount, a few points perhaps.

I reviewed this stuff during the final stage of the 2016 election, which really turned out to be important after the pussy tape made everyone think Trump was done for. He did take a little hit, but not the plunge that most polls suggested.

The only reason that wild swings show up in polls is that some people become more likely to participate, or less likely, so that you don't have a snapshot of the same overall group of people before and after some major event or series of events. This is response bias -- how willing various demographic or partisan groups are to participate in the poll in the first place.

This can only be corrected by tracking the same panel of people over time. By recruiting them for a long-haul series of polls, you're sure not to miss some group of them who might go into hiding when their preferred candidate gets womped in a debate, or to overcount some group who is eager to participate because their candidate did the womping and it got them all hyped up.

Usually these major events are debates, as in Harris' case. In reality, support for her has been constant at 7% -- the apparent pump and then dump are back-to-back illusions, due only to her two debate performances hyping up her supporters and then demoralizing them into hiding.

But in Biden's case, it could be a week or two of heavy media coverage of his brain going haywire. That will demoralize his supporters, who will be less willing to take part in the poll. They don't want to have to say, "Yeah, I support that guy whose brain is melting right before our eyes." But that doesn't mean they don't still support him, or won't wind up voting for him in the primary. Could these malfunctions cost him a couple points? Sure, but not double digits.

There's more detail in my old post, though if you want the technical analysis, read the source article by Gelman et al (2016), "The Myth of the Swing Voter".

August 26, 2019

Ethnic composition of the anti-woke left

Here's a revealing insider observation of the antagonism that the woke left levels against various white ethnic groups who are supposedly their fellow travelers on the left:

Of course, the KKK would have exempted Southern whites, and yet the woke left hates their guts as well. Nowadays, Irish, Italians, etc., find themselves targeted alongside white Southerners, so the woke-ists cannot consist of some group that itself includes white Southerners, or who are welcoming to them at any rate.

An Appendix to this post goes over the ethnic backgrounds of particular members of the anti-woke left that I'm aware of, to substantiate the point made in the tweet above. What follows is a more general discussion. For now I'll just note that Aimee Terese, our post-prog princess, is half Lebanese (Catholic) and half white Australian (similar to the rowdy Celts of the American South).

* * * * *

Wokeness is an elite class ideology, so those ethnic groups most likely to play an elite role will wield it, while those who are less likely to belong to the elite are more likely to be its targets. And it deals primarily with matters of race, ethnicity, and national origin -- namely, which groups will be allowed representation within the elite (and how is this choice to be rationalized). It only secondarily deals with gender, sexual orientation, and so on.

The two major elite ethnic groups in the US are WASPs, the original one, and Ashkenazi Jews, who joined during the Great Compression.

White Anglo-Saxon Protestants refers to those primarily in the Northeast, though also where they settled in the Midwest and West Coast (especially northern California), and generally those who came from a Puritan religious background, upper-class social stratum, and who have formed the elite going back centuries -- not Scotch-Irish hillbillies in Appalachia.

Ashkenazi Jews are those from Central and Eastern Europe, who were adapted to a professional middleman minority niche for centuries, not the ones from the Mediterranean or the Near / Middle East.

As the American empire has expanded over the past several centuries, it has like all other empires relied on buying off a number of aspiring elites from various foreign ethnic groups that the empire comes to control. Some elites from outside the Italian peninsula were given precious Roman citizenship (like Paul the Apostle). The Ottoman Empire used the millet system. And the Iranian parliament has some seats reserved for the elites of several minority groups. These are the secondary elites allowed into the upper stratum by the primary elites.

The main group bought off by the primary elites are the African-Americans, via affirmative action to promote the "talented tenth" of their group into elite positions. More and more, though, this program supposedly intended to redress slavery has come to promote elite immigrants who recently arrived from Africa (like MSNBC anchor Joy Ann Reid, whose parents are from Ghana). Members of this group have a vested interest in wokeness, hoping that they will be one of the 10% of their group who are handpicked to join the elite.

The other major group being bought off and integrated into the elite are upper-caste South Asians, mainly Indians but some Pakistanis as well, and including Hindus as well as Muslims. They wrote the book on ethnically stratified class structures, so this is not only nothing new to them -- they will be more adept at navigating it than the WASPs or Jews in the primary elites. After decades or centuries, they may even join the Jews as a new primary elite group, though I still think they're too culturally different from Americans to be considered legitimate by them as primary elites. Wokeness is central to their carving out a similar class niche as they enjoyed back in South Asia, so they will be largely in favor of the ideology.

East Asians invented standardized testing for elite positions, and their Mandarins are eager to become a talented-tenth in the US as well. They're invested in wokeness to get this set-aside.

"Hispanics" are following the same strategy, although they don't have an existing caste system like India's to furnish the talented tenth, and they don't have the African-American legacy of slavery to demand immediate representation in the elite as redress. But the basic behavior is the same: those who are smarter and lighter-skinned than their groupmates will advance themselves as leaders of their people, destined to hold on to the handful of elite spots that are carved out for their group in the interest of incorporating their people into the empire. As with the other secondary elites, wokeness creates the set-asides for their aspiring representatives, so this group will not be motivated to put an end to woke capitalism and woke imperialism.

Rather, opposition to wokeness on the left is most likely to come from the ethnic groups who have already been assimilated into the American system -- and who therefore do not need to be bought off during the current round of expansion -- but who were not exotic and foreign enough in the old days to require being bought off with set-asides back then either. And, in contrast to the Ashkenazi Jews, do not have higher average IQ that makes them more inclined toward an elite niche.

These are the non-exotic, common-people ethnic groups. The founding stock who weren't Puritanical WASPy commercial elites, more concentrated in the South than the North. And the Ellis Island groups other than the Jews -- Irish, Italian, Polish, etc.

So although the backlash from within the left itself against wokeness is mainly a class issue, it correlates enough with ethnic background to make it a cultural issue as well. Evidently, both sides on the left are aware of this -- the woke side knowing that Italians are safe targets for derision as bad whites, and the Italians speaking out (or at least privately muttering) against the anti-Italian bias from the woke-ists.

This faultline within the left, and within the Democrat party, represents a fracture of the New Deal coalition, when these groups were not only united in purpose, but were the dominant party over the Republicans.

After neoliberalism broke down the proto-socialism of the New Deal era, improving the material welfare for all groups become replaced by equal representation of ethnic groups within the elite class -- and too bad if you're from a group that gets set-asides, but you're part of the 90% that didn't get chosen as the talented tenth. This benefits only the aspiring elites within an ethnic group, not that group as a whole. Yuppies win, the majority loses. And members of those groups without specific set-asides cannot rest assured of their chances to enter the elite, making them even more wary of the new system and its ideology.

As it happens, these same groups are the ones whose defection from the Democrats swung the 2016 election to Trump, the would-be realigner who promised radical changes to the neoliberal status quo, unlike Hillary Clinton. See this recent post with data from the General Social Survey on election behavior by white ethnic groups. Italians swung the most, then the Irish, with Germans, Scandinavians, and Slavs swinging to a lesser degree but still in Trump's direction.

WASPs and Jews actually voted less Republican than usual in 2016, revealing their pro-elite and anti-populist bias, compared to the other Ellis Islander groups and to commoner founding stock like the Scotch-Irish. The anti-woke groups swung toward Trump, the pro-woke groups swung away.

That is what flipped the cities and large counties, which is how Trump won (the reservoir of rural voters was long dried up). Some of them flipped entire states -- Poles flipped Wilkes-Barre, which helped flip Pennsylvania -- while others only flipped their blue urban area without flipping the entire state (Staten Island, or Suffolk County in Long Island).

These non-exotic, common-people ethnic groups are sick and fed up with the neoliberal order, since they don't even have the chance at getting into the elite through ethnic set-asides, and they don't already belong to the primary elites of WASPs and Jews. Other minority groups may be content with neoliberalism, as long as it opens up a little more of the elite to their set-aside group. But they don't need radical change for that.

This split was seen during the 2016 Democrat primary, where the old white ethnic groups loved Bernie, while the African-Americans and Hispanics were more in favor of Clinton. Staten Island and Suffolk County were Bernie's two best counties in the NYC metro area, while he got clobbered in those with more non-white populations (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, etc.).

And that split has not gone away -- during the 2020 season, it is alive in the woke vs. anti-woke battle within the left. Already a bunch of Bernie's support in Brooklyn has defected to Warren. Those are the WASPy, Jewish, upper-caste Indian, and other model minorities and talented-tenthers who helped to elect AOC. While they have turned their backs on Bernie for Warren, the Staten Islanders, further-away Long Islanders, and even the Bayridge long-timers in Brooklyn (right across from Staten Island), will be more likely to stick by Bernie -- assuming he does not fully surrender to wokeness during this cycle.

* * * * *


I've only been reading the anti-woke left Twitter people since last November, when this battle broke outside of the leftoid echo chamber. Most importantly, Angela Nagle writing a left case against open borders, an utter taboo for the woke-ists. I don't know who all of them are, but I've got a decent feel from the ones I read and who gets retweeted by those accounts.

A person can be anti-woke in various ways, and to varying degrees. But they have to have made some overt, regular commitment against woke-ism -- not just refraining from participating in woke pile-ons.

The anti-woke side is smaller on social media than the woke side, so just about all groups will be represented on the woke side. The question is, who is bold enough to go on the anti-woke side? How lopsided is some ethnic group in siding with the woke or the anti-woke side?

I'm just looking for what info is already available online (like does their Twitter account mention being Irish, although they might not say what other groups they belong to). It's not a 23andme test, so these results may not be the whole picture, but the basic impression is clear enough.

It's striking how many of the woke-ist attackers have Anglo, German, or Scandinavian surnames (Pritchard, Soeller, Schuetz, Jensen, etc.). And just about all the Jews on the left are woke-ists. The only exceptions are partial -- Jamie Kilstein is half Jewish, and so is Anna Khachiyan. In her case, it's more her Armenian father speaking out against the woketards, than her Jewish mother. I'm not sure about Kilstein's case, I've only heard him on one podcast with Unauthorized Disclosure, on the very topic of needing to put class and empire over identity politics.

The only major exception for Germans I'm aware of is Benjamin Studebaker of the What's Left podcast. That family is Protestant in origin, too, so even more of an exception.

Below is a list of groups, and Twitter names belonging to them. They're mostly the non-exotic, common-people groups, the electoral base of the New Deal Democrats. There are only two prominent ones who I don't know for sure. Amber Frost refuses to say, but she has said at least some degree of white Appalachian, and her non-European facial features look to me more African than Asian (which is what others tend to guess). And "foolinthelotus" is from a Christian Chicagoland family, which is likely white ethnic, though not necessarily.

I don't know if Zaid Jilani and basantyagi are flukes or representative of a coming trend, but it's intriguing that among South Asian leftists in the US, it's the Muslims who are present on the anti-woke side. Usually Muslims in the US are looking to get set-asides for their group, and play the odds of getting chosen into the top 10% of their group. Perhaps it's because the Muslim caste system is less stratified in South Asia compared to the Hindu one, making Hindu Brahmins even more inclined toward woke hierarchies.

Notice that white-passing or white-"adjacent" groups like the Lebanese and Armenians are willing to go against woke-ism. They can call themselves "brown," but they pass -- Mediterranean, maybe, but not "brown". Ralph Nader is a Lebanese Christian, and no one thought he was non-white (he also refused to go along with idpol during his campaign, sticking to economics and foreign policy). And "American Top 40" DJ, and voice of Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Casey Kasem was Lebanese Druze, and nobody thought he was non-white. Presumably if there were more Persians here, they would eventually side with the Rania Khalek / Anna Khachiyan / Zaid Jilani side, against wokeness.

White Southerners



Angela Nagle (not on Twitter)



Irish / Italian

Shialabeefsteak (and German)

Irish / Polish


Italian / Polish


Slavic Catholic

nobody_stop_me (Belarusian)
LizFranczak (Polish)
toms_spectre (Polish)
kgosztola (Hungarian)

Catholic, unknown ethnicity

HillaryFan420 (?)

Armenian / Ashkenazi



aimeeterese (Catholic)
RaniaKhalek (Druze)


Zaid Jilani

Indian Muslim



Amber Frost (not on Twitter)

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"


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.


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.

August 4, 2019

Nostalgia songs reminisce about matching phase of 15-year cultural excitement cycle

Last year there were two competing songs expressing nostalgia for a clearly defined zeitgeist of the recent past -- "1999" by Charli XCX and "2002" by Anne-Marie. Both were the products of the current vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (2015-'19), when energy levels are drained after the last manic, invincible phase (2010-'14), before they will recover during the next warm-up phase (2020-'24). But one was referring back to a previous manic phase ('95-'99), and the other to a previous vulnerable phase (2000-'04). One did not match, the other did.

So far, the phase-matching song -- "2002" -- has been far more successful, and you still hear it being regularly played over a year later. Its creators and its audience are more able to resonate with it, since the zeitgeist of the song's setting matches their own, at least regarding the phase of the excitement cycle. Expecting people in a refractory period to resonate with a manic, high-energy zeitgeist -- "1999" -- may be asking too much of their physiology.

To investigate, I checked out Wikipedia's category list of nostalgia songs, which includes both of the above. I also looked through the Hot 100 year-end charts for titles with a year in them, in case the category list was missing some.

I'm interested in ones that are nostalgic for a narrowly defined cultural period -- one year, or less than five years at any rate. That eliminates songs that refer back to longer periods like several decades. And it eliminates those that are nostalgic for a certain stage of the lifespan, or for a previous romance, without any reference to what historical or cultural period it took place during.

I kept only those that resonated with audiences at all -- they had to make it onto some chart. Not necessarily the Hot 100, perhaps the rock or R&B charts, and just making it to the weekly charts (rather than year-end) was fine. Otherwise there aren't many to study.

Still, this leaves only 12 songs, which are listed below by their release date (album or single, whichever was first, not that it affected the phase it appeared in), which phase they were released in, the time they're set in, that setting's phase, and whether or not these phases matched. They are sorted by the phase of release date. Click for full-size.

As it turns out, there is no bias for nostalgic songs to be made during any of the three phases of the cycle -- each phase has produced 4 songs. There's no significant bias for the phase of the setting either -- 4 manic, 5 vulnerable, and 3 warm-up, barely distinguishable from the even distribution of 4, 4, 4.

However, there is a significant matching between the phase that the song was produced in and that it was set in. See footnote [1].

By the way, "December, 1963" originally came out during the late '70s warm-up phase, but it was remixed with a more modern dance sound, and charted once again during the early '90s warm-up phase. I left out that second recording, but including it would only strengthen the conclusion, adding another phase-matching song (since the early '60s were a warm-up phase).

So, rather than artists and audiences resonating with any old phase earlier in the excitement cycle, they are inclined to resonate with the same phase that they are currently experiencing.

To my ear the most resonant matches are "Summer of '69" for the manic phase, "December, 1963" for the warm-up phase, and "American Pie" for the vulnerable phase.

As for the mismatches, if only "1979" had been released a year earlier in 1994, that would have made it perfectly 15 years in sync with its setting. It doesn't really sound like a proper manic phase song of the late '90s anyway, but more of a "just getting the motor going" song typical of a warm-up phase.

All other things being equal, if you're going for nostalgia for a 1-to-5-year period, make it match in phase with the current phase of the excitement cycle.

[1] If the artists were choosing years to tell stories about without an inclination toward any of the three phases, then each phase would have an equal chance of being chosen, 1/3. So the chance of a match between the phases that the song is released in, and that the song is set in, would be 1/3. There are 12 independent songs. So the number of successful matches should be binomially distributed, with n = 12 and p = 1/3.

You'd naively expect 4 matches (12 * 1/3), and yet there are 8 matches.

The probability that there is a result so high above the expectation, or even higher, is less than 0.02.

We can therefore reject the initial assumption that the artists are just choosing years to tell stories about without an inclination toward any particular phase -- they are clearly inclined toward reminiscing about the same phase of the cycle as the one in which they're released.