April 28, 2020

Lesbians prefer butts over boobs, like mature straight men (lesbian maturity vs. gay Peter Pan-ism)

One area of the great big sexuality puzzle that I have yet to fill in is body shape preferences among lesbians. This topic connects with several others that I've already detailed, though, so it's pretty intuitive.

The two topics that predict lesbian body shape preferences are the psychological age profile of gays vs. lesbians, and the age profile of boob men vs. butt men among straight men.

Although I wrote extensively on these matters around 2012-'14, a recent post summed them up (to apply them in another case). The basic deviation underlying male homosexuality is being stunted in pre-pubescence, at the stage where there's a visceral disgust of all things girly, including of course girls themselves. "Ewww, girls are yucky!"

Freeze the mind, and to some extent the body, during that stage -- but then give them the usual dose of hormones around puberty, and you get 5 year-old boys with a sex drive (which targets the non-disgusting sex, i.e. males for someone with the mind of a 5 year-old boy). All symptoms of gay syndrome stem from this foundation. The only major part of the mind that is not affected is intelligence, which develops normally.

Lesbians are the other way around -- their social-emotional age is not just older than that of a pre-pubescent child, if anything they resemble menopausal women. That is, beyond the stage when they're curious about boys, want to catch the attention of boys, hang out with boys, and so on. They're past even the stage where they'd want a husband. They simply feel done with men, beyond men, past men, etc. They don't feel visceral disgust toward the male sexual body, in the way that gays feel toward the female sexual body. So it's not the same immature "Ewww, boys are smelly and gross!" mindset of a 5 year-old girl that gets frozen. It's more like a jaded middle-aged woman who's grown wary and weary of men, just plain old not-interested.

Hence their lower libido levels compared to straight women of the same age -- it's not grandmotherly or geriatric, more like approaching menopause. That's where "lesbian bed death" comes from, and their desire for a better word than "horny" to describe their sexual longing, desiring, pining, etc. It's simply not the same "horny" feeling that a 23 year-old straight girl feels driven by, even if the lesbian girl is also 23 years old. This discomfort resembles that of middle-aged straight women, who still feel some kind of sexual desire, but not the exact same kind or degree as what they felt right out of college.

To sum up: gays are distinguished by Peter Pan-ism (neoteny, pedomorphy), while lesbians are distinguished by maturity (specifically, approaching menopause).

So then, lesbians ought to have the body shape preferences of mature people who are attracted to women, like mature straight men. Other non-heterosexuals such as gay men and trannies, while not attracted to women, will hold the opposite view of "what makes a female body hot," and it will resemble the preferences of immature straight men.

How do mature vs. immature tastes differ among straight men? That's another ongoing topic here, and it's clear that the focus on boobs is the immature version, while the focus on butts is the mature version. Boobs are for nursing infants, butts are for pelvic contact during intercourse. Boob focus is analytic and fetishistic -- tunnel-vision on only the boobs themselves -- while butt focus is holistic and natural -- incorporating the broader fertility zone of the hips, waist, belly, and thighs. Toddlers are looking at the boobs, potential fathers-of-children are looking at the belly-hips-ass-and-thighs.

Given these two well established patterns, lesbians ought to show their maturity by focusing more on butts than boobs. Pursuing this hunch, I found two separate sets of lesbian responses that agree with the prediction, and none that suggest the opposite.

First, a brief video from Arielle Scarcella, a major figure in LGBT YouTube. There are only a handful of respondents, but there are 3 butt women, and just 1 boob woman. In a separate video (around 2:18), Arielle herself shows that she's fixated on the ass rather than the chest. I think if these responses were not representative, they would've said so -- "Well, I personally like butts, but then most lesbians do not," if the context is an informative video on lesbian body shape preferences. They do this in other contexts, like mentioning that most lesbians are bottoms, even if they're interviewing a top.

Then there's an opinion poll from the Actual Lesbians reddit group, with clearly defined responses. (Other reddit discussions on the topic either were dominated by guys and bisexual girls, or consisted of entirely non-committal answers and endless hand-waving about liking every part / there are no patterns in life / etc.) I count 10 boob women, 15 butt women, 2 leg women, and 5 waist / hips women, by their primary response. Lumping together the fertility zone responses, that gives more than 2 pelvic women for every boob woman.

Moreover, the type of shape is the same that mature straight men prefer -- even if you focused on the hips, you could hypothetically prefer a slim or a wide set of hips, and if you like thighs, you might prefer thick thighs or anorexic thighs. Overwhelmingly, though, lesbians responded with words like "thick," "curvy," "round," etc., not "slender," "skinny," "rectilinear," etc. Mature men -- like lesbian women -- are looking for a fertile baby-maker, not a pre-pubescent child.

Aside from the visual angle, lesbians use the same tactile words for what appeals to them about the ass. The stereotype is that lesbians are more gentle, like caresses, and that sort of thing -- but when when they talk about the ass, they say "grab," "pull in," "grind," "spank," and other more forceful words that mature straight men would use. These words link the ass with intercourse rather than mere foreplay or other fetishistic behavior -- it's part of intercourse to grab onto her ass, pull her in by her hips, or grind her ass into your pelvis. It's fetishistic foreplay to honk her boobs or fasten your lips onto her nipple, as the typical baby-like boob man does.

Presumably this would also show up in how lesbians display their bodies to one another, but I'm not going to create a fake lesbian Tinder account, or watch actual-lesbian porn videos, to investigate. I'll just assume that they are less likely to emphasize T rather than A, compared to straight women, and that they are more comfortable showing off their curves rather than competing over who has the biggest thigh gap. Their target audience is less likely to have juvenile tastes.

Perhaps a relevant anecdote will have to do for now. When closeted lesbian Taylor Swift wore body-reshaping clothing at an awards show, it was not a stuffed bra to beef up her B-cup breasts, but padded pants to bootify her pancake butt. Fellow closeted popstar Dua Lipa shows off her ass and thighs more than her chest in music videos. Getting a boob job would probably be seen among lesbians as selling out to the heteronormative male gaze -- but what they really mean is that as mature-minded women, they don't want to pander to awkward juvenile tastes ("baby want milkies").

So how does that make lesbians different from gay men and trannies, who are more immature? The latter two groups are far more likely to focus on the boobs when coming up with a visual of "the hottest female body". That's true both for gay men as cultural tastemakers, and trannies as men trying to look like hot women. Neither of them are going to say thick thighs, hourglass waist-to-hip ratio, round / large ass, and something of a belly.

Instead it's huge fake tits, minimal body fat, no curves, no softness, but with a hyperbolic girly costume, hair, and make-up. It's basically what a 5 year-old boy would look like if he played dress-up as a girl. They see boobs as the main difference between the sexes, not the voluptuous fertility figure. They're still remembering breast-feeding as the main different role between men and women, and are not at the stage of focusing on their different roles in baby-making.

This is part of the broader difference between lesbians and gays / trannies, where lesbians are more oriented toward fertility, minding children, nurturing, and mothering / parenting, whereas gays and trannies focus at most on sucking and fucking -- but not the supposed consequences of sex. It's lesbians who want to get married and adopt, not gays or trannies.

And trannies do not express their gender / body dysphoria by saying they've always felt like having a uterus and eggs, getting pregnant, giving birth, and nurturing children -- nor does their sex-change surgery seek to give them these biological functions. Rather, it's just about feeling sexually passive, and undergoing surgery to give them a fuckhole between their legs. It has nothing to do with femininity or womanhood, and is just part of gay / tranny misogyny (one of the few groups of males where misogyny actually is common and degrading).

Lesbian traits are harder to observe and explain, compared to those of gays and trannies, because they're less flaming and attention-whoring in public. It's hard to know which individuals to study in the first place. Lesdar is a much less blaring instrument than gaydar. But under quarantine, maybe I'll spend more time going to the source themselves online, to fill out their portrait.

April 25, 2020

Manic pixie Bond girl: Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale

I've watched the entire James Bond series during quarantine, having only seen the Pierce Brosnan ones growing up. After watching all of them back-to-back, I've got plenty to write about.

For the opening post, I'll stick to a narrow subject, and one I've already been writing a bit about recently -- manic pixie dream girls. As it just so happens, one of the iconic Bond girls also plays the role of manic pixie dream girl -- Eva Green playing Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale (2006). While fitting the mold in most respects, there are a few ways in which she's the opposite of the typical MPDG, and that reveals which traits are defining vs. ancillary.

First, the movie she's in came out during a restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, as with most other cases. Indeed, during the ultimate heyday of the character type -- the late 2000s.

Second, her background is like that of the other actresses, born during a manic phase (the early '80s). Like the others, she has an hourglass body shape to emphasize the fertility of the character, although unlike the others, she's got more going on in the front of her body than in the back. And her cleavage-enhancing dresses only emphasize that throughout the movie -- which diminished her ability to play a woman who is not threatening or manipulative. It made her come off as trying to hypnotize a gullible boob man. That's really the only way in which she did not fulfill the role.

As for her character's relationship to the protagonist, she serves as his earthly guardian angel who manages to coax a romantically wary man out of his emo cocoon. She is not just a figurative nurse tending to psychological wounds, but someone who literally saves Bond's life twice -- when he's going into cardiac arrest after being poisoned, and when she makes a deal with their kidnappers to give them the poker prize money in exchange for killing Bond's torturer before he gets castrated and murdered.

Their relationship starts off flirtatiously, full of banter, as usual for the movie series. But she's one of the rare Bond girls who gets him to lower his guard, open up, and let her in. Since the late '80s releases in the series, the writers had transformed Bond from a ladies' man whose job allowed him plenty of time for casual sex, into an asexual / volcel type who served as more of a monk / warrior / eunuch devoted workaholically to his career. That changed for Casino Royale, where he's not only come out of his asexual monk-warrior armor, but chosen to give up his workaholic career in order to spend his life with her. (The series reverted back to the trend for the remaining Craig movies.)

Why does he need to retire from his career of protection, espionage, and killing in order to be with her? Because unlike the other Bond girls of the period, she's not also a butt-kicking spy, military asset, etc. She's just a bean-counting funds-controller from the treasury who supplies Bond with the money to enter the poker tournament with the villain. She's a total civilian, so if they want to become a serious couple, either she joins his world and puts herself in danger, or he joins her humdrum bureaucrat world and makes their situation safe and stable enough to last.

This creates an interesting inversion of the usual MPDG trait of being a spontaneous, adventurous free spirit, who brings zest and zaniness into the life of the buttoned-up, dull male protagonist. Here, it is she who's the pragmatic wet blanket, and he's the risk-taking adventurer who whisks her off onto a rollercoaster of unfamiliar and thrilling experiences.

However, that just goes to prove the point I made in earlier posts on the character type -- it's not her individual personality traits that make her a MPDG. It's her relationship to the protagonist, or the role she plays within the broader narrative and social dynamics (i.e., the earthly guardian angel who coaxes a romantically wary man out of his emo cocoon). Whether she has funky hair or not, whether she sports quirky clothing or not, is irrelevant. That's just individual-level cosplay stuff, not her relational role to the protagonist.

Now we see that the odd-couple nature of their relationship does not require her to be the adventurous one, and he the cautious one. That's just one possible source of his romantic wariness. It's also possible for him to be the adventurous one, yet still romantically wary -- if he's a monk-warrior type -- and for her to be the buzz-killing one, yet still wanting him to find a long-term girlfriend or wife.

But, as typically happens, the MPDG and the protagonist are not fated to be long-term partners. Her role is the practice girlfriend, while he's in the initial stage of leaving behind his cocoon. Neither one minds the necessarily temporary nature of their relationship -- she has a nurturing instinct, and finds meaning and fulfillment from healing the wounds of others so they can live healthy lives of their own, and he is glad to have received her motivation and encouragement, allowing him to find a genuine long-term girlfriend or wife.

In Casino Royale, it turns out that she had a boyfriend all along, and was being threatened by the criminal organization into acting as a double-agent in order to get them the poker prize money -- or else they would kill her boyfriend. Aside from already having a boyfriend, she dies at the end as Bond is killing off the criminals. And yet that doesn't diminish her role in acting as Bond's guardian angel (going so far as to sacrifice herself for him), nor her role in coaxing a romantically wary man into letting his guard down and connecting with a woman emotionally and socially (and physically), in preparation for a long-term relationship with someone else.

Bond is initially shocked and tries to dismiss her in an attempt to rationalize things -- calling her a bitch, traitor, saying it means nothing that she's dead so let's get on with our jobs, etc. It's not so dissimilar from the treatment of Zooey Deschanel's character in 500 Days of Summer, where the MPDG coaxes the protagonist out of his cocoon and falls for him, but ultimately falls more for another man and gets married to him, not the protagonist, who then resorts to casting her in negative terms in a desperate attempt to ween himself off of her.

In this movie, though, the ending of their relationship is more tragic for her, and not just because she dies. Even if she had survived, she's the routine-craving one and could not content herself with wandering her free-spirited way onto the next one of life's endless spontaneous adventures, as the standard MPDG could do once her role as nurse-angel had been completed. This makes her complex for a MPDG, as well as for a Bond girl. Her complexity -- even if it all comes together fairly late in the narrative -- explains why Casino Royale is one of the few standout entries in the post-'60s Bond movies.

April 23, 2020

From moral panic to conspiracy riffing, as excitement cycle shifts from vulnerable to warm-up phase

I still have yet to write the all-encompassing post on how moral panics erupt during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, but they do. Everyone feels vulnerable in their refractory period, and all external stimulation feels unwelcome and painful, leading them to feel victimized by society itself, and to dwell on the theme of trauma.

One facet of moral panics is the political -- feeling that they are so big that they require a political solution, and therefore a political leader finds himself hoisted up by the morally panicked crowd as their potential savior. I've already detailed this process before, and pointed out how we've seen the popping of the latest leftist bubble, which lasted from 2015-2019 along with the vulnerable phase, but has suddenly fizzled now that we've entered the warm-up phase. No more emo background, no more moral panics, no more longing for a political deus ex machina (McGovern, Jesse Jackson, Nader, Bernie).

OK, so what's going to happen to all of that stuff -- is it going to completely vanish? Not quite. Just because the emotional landscape has changed, doesn't mean the topics will disappear from sight, and doesn't mean that all the previous ideas, claims, opinions, etc., will get flushed down the memory hole.

On the whole, the general public doesn't resonate with the emotional themes of trauma and victimization anymore, but that doesn't mean the same topics can't be treated with a different emotional tone, one more resonant with the restless warm-up phase that we've just entered.

And although we no longer feel refractory, vulnerable, emo, painfully over-stimulated, victimized, and traumatized, we still have not entered the manic phase when we feel invincible, carefree, high, and happy-go-lucky. We're in an in-between phase, where energy levels have left the refractory state, have recovered to baseline, and are capable of a some excitation, but not a sustained spike.

So trying to take a highly emotional tone won't work in either direction, whether appealing to negative or positive emotions.

Rather, it will shift to a more emotionally neutral tone -- more clinical, analytical, factual. It doesn't mean a serious tone, just more analytical than emotional. The popular mood won't be so academic, but informal -- just tossing ideas out there, just riffing, just mixing things up, just experimenting around out of mild curiosity. Conspiracy "theories" for the obsessives, conspiracy "riffing" for casuals.

What do you get when you take an emotionally charged moral panic, drain it of its emo themes of victimization and trauma, and channel the discussion in a more clinical and fact-obsessed direction? Conspiracy theories -- something that is still trying to make sense out of a phenomenon that had traumatized masses of people, but without indulging, rehashing, or reliving the trauma, as happens during a moral panic (to keep everyone emotionally engaged through a sense of urgency).

Rather, conspiracy theories shift toward explaining how the traumatic phenomenon came to be, perhaps to let us prevent a similar trauma in the future -- or to at least let us understand the forces that caused it, so we can have epistemological closure, rather than live out the rest of our lives feeling victimized by some totally random and chaotic enigma.

Conspiracy theories shift the discussion away from the emotionally charged realm of "good vs. evil" and into the clinical realm of "cause and effect". Now people become concerned more with facts, evidence, clues, leads, witnesses, sources, testimony, history, logical reasoning, common sense, skepticism, and so on and so forth.

If there is any characteristic emotion, it is cynical and jaded -- like a clinician who's seen a million cases like this one, and it's only a matter of time before he solves the puzzle, whose pieces will surely fit together in an all too expected configuration. Still, emotionally numb does not mean lacking in motivation or drive or energy -- it just means he will be motivated by a search for the deeper hidden truth, the one that the official story's writers have tried to obscure from public view. Solving a puzzle is motivating for its own cognitive rewards, despite not tapping into a strong emotional vein.

* * *

While not attempting a full overview of these conspiracy periods for now, I'll point to the most salient examples from the most recent warm-up phases -- today, and the late 2000s. I'll cover earlier warm-up phases, and their correlated conspiracy booms, in another post. (As a reminder, that will be the early '90s, the late '70s, and the early '60s.)

Starting with the current warm-up phase, we're already seeing lots of conspiracy riffing around the coronavirus pandemic -- the virus itself, government responses to it, its relation to the economic depression, international relations, and whatever else it's affecting.

No one devoted this much analytical effort to all of the myriad traumas that they experienced from 2015-2019. I don't mean emotional partisan stuff like QAnon, or Russiagate, I mean someone actually trying to explain how things are unfolding, albeit in a conspiratorial way. Look at how minimal the clinical effort was to understand the Stephen Paddock mass shooting of 2017 -- but now that we're entering a less hysterical phase, maybe people will start looking into that in a "truther" way.

The most we saw of the analytical, rather than hysterical, approach during the vulnerable phase came in the very last year of the phase, when Jeffrey Epstein was first arrested and then murdered in prison before he could testify. Still, I recall the reaction being heavily hysterical and emotionally traumatizing to the people paying attention, so it wasn't a primarily clinical tone at first. Maybe toward the end of 2019, when "Epstein didn't commit suicide" reached meme status, it took on a more factual / evidential tone than a moral / emotional tone. It was a factual claim, laying the foundation for a whole bunch of conspiracy riffing for the current year and the next several to come. Assuming coronavirus doesn't occupy too much of the conspiratorial mind, Epstein could easily become one of the main topics for this warm-up phase.

The last major wave of conspiracy theories and riffing was of course 9/11 trutherism, which contrary to intuition did not erupt until the second half of the 2000s, during the warm-up phase, not right after 9/11 itself, during the vulnerable phase, when the atmosphere was one of emotional trauma porn and moral panics. In Wikipedia's overview of the 9/11 truth movement, only one organization started before 2005 -- 9/11 Truth launched in June 2004, still pretty late into the vulnerable phase, akin to the Epstein interest spiking during the summer of 2019. The media output of the truthers also came mostly in 2005 and after, with only one book (The Terror Timeline) being published before (and very late in the vulnerable phase at that, in September 2004).

This was all after the hysteria and emotional trauma of the early 2000s had subsided. Their tone was more clinical, analytical, empirical. Not that their conclusions made sense -- but their tone was decidedly not one of a moral panic. They may have been angry at what they saw as governmental negligence, complicity, or whatever -- but their main effort was not to stoke moral outrage over being victimized, but to incite the public to investigate and research as unemotional detectives, to discover the hidden truths of the cause-and-effect mechanics that brought down the World Trade Center. Learn more about previous CIA plots domestic and foreign. And so on. Its goal was more focused on knowledge than emotions.

But they prioritized esoteric knowledge and abstruse reasoning, not the simple truth -- i.e., to the extent the US system was involved in 9/11, it was our military and intel agencies having partnered with jihadists for decades, as both sides battled the Russian sphere of geopolitical influence (whether as the Soviet Union or Russia today). They were dear allies to the US elites, and that's why they were left unsupervised on US soil, as they learned how to fly planes. If our allies stabbed us in the back to the level of 9/11, well, that's a price the elites don't mind paying -- since they paid very little themselves -- in order to maintain their alliance against the Russians in the Middle East and Central Asia.

This history and explanation was extremely easy to explain to normies -- just remind them of how much the Rambo and James Bond movies of the Reagan years valorized the Mujahadeen of Afghanistan, as proud freedom fighters against the Soviet commie invaders. Those jihadists were the guys who blew us up on 9/11, and their common geopolitical interest with us against the USSR was the reason why our elites opened the door so widely to them, allowing them to attack us from inside. Doesn't matter if they were in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion, or in Saudi Arabia against the secular Arab nationalists who were not hostile to the Soviets.

But common sense does not allow elaborate riffing, jam sessions, or intellectual one-upsmanship. So it was rejected by the theorists and riff artists, who are trying to please an audience and gain social status. Most normies probably never heard much about the true truth (geopolitics), only the stuff about Building 7 and whether jet fuel can melt steel beams.

9/11 trutherism fizzled out during the early 2010s manic phase, and was not replaced with any other conspiracies. When people feel invincible, there's no such thing as victimization and trauma -- and so, no need for moral panics to indulge those themes, nor for conspiracy theories to explain empirically how such traumatic events are caused.

(Obama birtherism was not a conspiracy theory, as it did not try to explain how some traumatic event came to be, such as his election to the presidency, for conservatives. It was just a longshot attempt to disqualify him from office.)

* * *

If you think this can't happen again, just remember how easily it happened before, from a leftist bubble centered on the Nader campaign in the early 2000s, to 9/11 trutherism in the late 2000s, as the phases changed from vulnerable to warm-up.

If you think that pivot could not happen among leftist online media -- guess again, again. There weren't too many podcasts back in the early 2000s, it was mainly streaming Democracy Now via Pacifica Radio on the Real Audio Player, or going to a dedicated Chomsky site and downloading mp3s of him talking in the '90s about NAFTA, the New Left, etc. But there was one podcast that caught my attention during the early 2000s heyday of anti-globalization, anti-imperialism, and the Nader campaign -- Unwelcome Guests, originally hosted on an anarchist-oriented radio site, Radio 4 All.

After I left the left bubble, along with most of the others who had wandered into it, I totally forgot about the show. Just recently, out of curiosity, I decided to check back on its history, in order to see where the leftist podcast bubble will be headed this time around. Check out their episode list -- in the early 2000s, it's the usual topics about free trade deals, Palestine, free Mumia Abu Jamal, profits over people, biotech corporations patenting indigenous seeds, and so on and so forth.

Then in the summer of 2004, an episode titled "9/11 as a False Flag Operation" -- wow, wouldn't have seen that one coming from my campus activist days! Honestly. There are a whole shitload more episodes throughout the second half of the 2000s. I knew one anarchist guy who leaned in a conspiracy direction in the early 2000s, but it was marginal. I figured things would remain mostly the same after I left. Nope: this podcast that had formerly centered on anti-globalization themes had suddenly pivoted to 9/11 trutherism, focus on the deep state, etc. No point in protesting the next de-industrializing trade deal, I guess -- the CIA controls too much, and we've already seen what they can do in 9/11.

This was the off-ramp they needed after the leftist bubble of the early 2000s popped, in tandem with the shift from the vulnerable to warm-up phase in the excitement cycle. I described the vulnerable phase's bubble as "parapolitical," because it only piggybacked on top of politics, was cosplaying as politics, was group therapy in place of actual politics. But it was at least pretending.

When the second half of the 2000s came, there was no longer any pretense. It was pseudopolitical, given the lack of any figures running for high office -- and if the problem is as big as they say, they'll need to take over the White House to get anything done. Only there was no Nader for the 9/11 truthers, no Truther Party, no campaign whose main themes would be 9/11 related. Nor will there be, this time around, any candidate, party, or campaign that is the vehicle for whatever the next big conspiracy movement turns out to be (coronavirus, Epstein, etc.).

These various conspiratorial off-ramps will serve to de-politicize people, retaining a pseudopolitical veneer to make them feel like they have the power to change things. They may found organizations, attend meetings, march with signs, hold conferences, publish a variety of media -- just like the truthers -- but they will not run candidates, found parties, or structure campaigns for elected office around their preferred conspiracy themes -- also just like the truthers.

Once the manic phase arrives in the late 2020s, there won't even be this pseudopolitical stuff. It'll just be an excuse to party in public, like Occupy Wall Street of the early 2010s, or the student movements and Summer of Love during the late '60s.

It's incorrect to view this shift from leftist bubble to conspiracy boom as a lost potential for political change. The whole point of it being a bubble is that it had no real chance to change things -- it was just group therapy for traumatized people. Nothing was there, so nothing was lost. The pivot toward conspiracies is just their way of decompressing back to a normal emotional state, after having spent so much time wallowing in the emotional depths of a refractory phase.

At least now they won't be hysterical, emotional, or morally panicking. No more of this dumb shit about Nazis hiding under everyone's bed, or kids in cages within concentration camps at the border, bla bla bla. That's all gone. Soon all that'll be left is riffing on Epstein and coronavirus -- and who knows, maybe a revival of earlier truther movements like 9/11, JFK assassination, and the rest of it.

Most people aren't going to participate in it, though, moving out of parapolitics and pseudopolitics altogether. I'm just talking about what the rump left will be focusing on.

Hopefully, though, we get some cool conspiracy thrillers from the entertainment industry like we have in previous warm-up phases, with the late '70s being the best case in point. That's harmless enjoyable fun, not tedious para/pseudo-political "engagement" (obsession).

April 11, 2020

Leftist bubble popped after vulnerable phase of excitement cycle ended, leaving no demand for therapeutic parapolitics

In September last year I showed how the then-current leftist bubble was just one facet of the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, beginning in 2015 and bound to evaporate after 2019. Similar leftist bubbles showed up during the early 2000s, late '80s, and early '70s, all vulnerable phases. No such bubbles showed up outside of vulnerable phases.

I define leftist bubble to require some overt political angle -- raging against the incumbent administration, and rallying around some specific politician (or group of them) as the hope to end the terror. What makes it leftist, rather than just run-of-the-mill partisanship, is the radical or extreme tone -- McGovern in the early '70s, Jesse Jackson in the late '80s, Nader in the early 2000s, and Bernie in the late 2010s, were all supposed to be going far outside the norm of their side of the political spectrum, since extreme situations called for extreme responses.

"Extreme" does not refer to any objective material conditions -- a war breaking out, an economic crash, etc. -- but to emotional mood swings over the course of the excitement cycle. When people crash from a manic invincible high, into a refractory low, they feel extreme vulnerability. That is what's extreme -- how current events feel -- and the response is equally extreme -- ramping up your emotional intensity to hysteric levels.

This is politics as therapy for those undergoing a profound emotional disturbance. And it is really parapolitical, since it piggybacks on top of real politics, or cosplays as real politics -- but the "movement" is never organized, never acts to achieve collective outcomes, and its presidential candidates never win, let alone wield power once in office. They're just looking for something political-ish because they're desperate for a deus ex machina to cure their bad vibes, and the government is one of the natural places to look to for help, if the bad vibes are so widespread and are reactions to national-scale current events.

I offered a simple prediction for this year that has already happened:

This dynamic needs to be taken into account for those who are planning on leftist politics after 2020. During that year itself, de-radicalization will already have begun, since 2019 is the last year of the current vulnerable phase, and then it's on to the warm-up phase. They will still be shrieking culture warriors, but they'll be supporting outright libs like Liz Warren and AOC, not Bernie Sanders. That emotional state will last into 2024 as well. Prepare for a party atmosphere during the late 2020s.

This is yet another reason why populists cannot rely on leftoids for change -- they're only in it for emotional reasons, and even those are fleetingly cyclical. Yesterday's Free the Nipple babe has become today's MeToo crusader, and tomorrow will be rid of her post-horny victim mindset, ready to revive Slutwalk the day after tomorrow.

I myself stopped paying attention to, or writing about, the left "movement" in the middle of February, and not because I suddenly saw the writing on the wall about Bernie's campaign. I said back in 2018 that he was going to be John C. Fremont, not Abraham Lincoln, in the coming realignment, and that he would lose in 2020 to a latter-day Know-Nothing like Biden (blaming foreign interference for domestic electoral failures: the Catholic Church / Pope back in 1856, Russia / Putin in 2020).

It was more the break with reality that the left was going through at the time -- Bernie's destined to win, and they're trying to rig the primary outcomes because they're afraid. Or, anyone who blames wokeness for Bernie's deteriorating support compared to 2016 is a fascist. Or, whatever happens, this "movement" is Bigger Than Bernie (TM). They were basically starting to write their postmortems, casting about for excuses (Bernie being a wimp, DNC rigging results, Nazi infiltration of the left, bla bla bla). They were not only crafting a postmortem of the Bernie 2020 campaign, but of the entire past 5 years of the leftist bubble, which they had not realized was just a bubble. And the real grifters desperately began trying to keep the bubble inflated beyond its natural life-span.

Since the middle of February, I've stopped listening to leftist podcasts altogether, aside from the occasional Red Scare listen since they're more culturally oriented (against the SJWs, at that). I haven't read any leftists on Twitter, aside from the occasional check-in on @Shialabeefsteak, who was key to understanding the relationships among the various sub-sub-sub-factions of the left / liberal side of the spectrum (another anti-woke leftist).

The only political media I still consume is Michael Tracey, on Twitter and YouTube, since he was never a hardcore partisan leftoid, he liked Tulsi's cross-partisan realignment appeal, and he did not see his goal as getting his tiny little faction of the left to conquer the others. That was the downfall of the "anti-woke left" broadly speaking -- they didn't recruit support or reinforcements from outside the left half of the spectrum during the primary stage, even if they would've welcomed it during the general. They accepted it at the primary stage, if it happened to happen to them, like Joe Rogan saying good things about Bernie -- but for them, that was just a fortunate accident, not a deliberate and sustained plan of theirs to bulk up their side of the battlefield.

They wanted their own anti-woke left faction to conquer the woke left factions first, in a leftist civil war. They were purists throwing a Hail Mary pass, rather than realists who as underdogs would've desperately and eagerly courted any and all support that they could get.

Michael Tracey was not part of that leftist civil war, since he never branded as a leftist, although he certainly favored the anti-woke side. And Tulsi never took part in the leftist civil war, since she also did not brand herself as a leftist, although she favored the anti-woke side as well.

* * *

After Bernie suspended his campaign a few days ago, I decided to check in on the online left again, and I was surprised by how totally it has fallen apart in just a few months. People aren't tweeting as much, if at all, podcasts have effectively shut down (or a regular host has gone AWOL), everyone's blaming Bernie -- not tough enough, not woke enough, or whatever -- and otherwise trying to find any off-ramp they can.

None of it is due to the coronavirus pandemic -- the preemptive postmortems were already there in February, and the real meltdown came with Super Tuesday, when Biden blew out Bernie for good. That was well before widespread awareness of the coronavirus, let alone the lockdowns and quarantines.

The only explanation is the changing of phases in the excitement cycle, from vulnerable to restless / warm-up. People are restless to de-radicalize and get back to normal life, as they no longer feel so vulnerable, where all social stimuli -- including current events -- are painfully over-stimulating. They no longer feel the need for a savior to rescue them from their refractory state, where they're incapable of defending or providing for themselves due to crashed energy levels.

They feel less victimized and traumatized by current events. They're ready to come out of their shells, and although the quarantine is putting a halt to that for the time being, they're chafing at their situation and are getting ready to defy it, rather than wallow in depression and helplessness indefinitely. Especially once summer weather arrives and horniness rebounds to levels not seen since 2005. They're feeling restless, in tune with the new phase of the excitement cycle.

We can also rule out the failure of the Bernie campaign as the reason for the popping of the leftist bubble -- Bernie lost the primary in 2016, and that didn't pop the bubble. The GOP won the general in 2016, and that didn't pop the bubble. All sorts of Bernie-approved candidates in the 2018 midterms lost either their primary or the general, and that didn't pop the bubble. Leftists had zero electoral successes to point to in 2016 and '17 and most of '18, yet the bubble only kept inflating larger. A handful of DSA-endorsed candidates won in the midterms, but they weren't so numerous, and those results came very late in 2018. Something else was inflating the leftist bubble from 2015 through most of 2018, and it was the vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle.

Throughout 2019, Bernie did far worse in terms of polling, support, enthusiasm, etc., compared to 2016. That portended eventual failure once primary voting began, but already in '19 there was plenty to demoralize a rational supporter. But the leftist bubble was not rational, it was emotional -- and the vulnerable phase was still going on throughout '19, so it kept the leftist bubble going, despite collapsing prospects for success.

Why didn't leftists use any of these earlier failures as an off-ramp to leave the "movement"? Because they all took place during the vulnerable phase of 2015-'19. Only when that phase ended in 2020 did they all suddenly start looking for an off-ramp. It was a change in their emotional reaction to the world, not a rational reappraisal of objective conditions.

This generalizes to the other facets of the leftist bubble -- not just electoral politics, but the whole Me Too hysteria, the panic over Nazis under the bed, hysteria over Russia / Putin, hysterical drive to impeach Trump, panic over the rise of fascism here or elsewhere, panic over Trump's genocidal xenophobia (baby-sized concentration camps on the border, Muslim ban, etc.), and all the rest of it. By this point, Me Too is totally dead, no one's talking about Nazis (let alone punching them), no one's proposing that Russia / Putin caused the coronavirus pandemic or that Trump's responses to it were malevolently influenced by Russia / Putin, and if anything people are shutting their mouths about open borders or even expressing a desire for stronger travel controls (AKA closed borders).

None of those hysterias ever had any rational basis, nor does the sudden abandonment of them by their formerly ardent adherents stem from a rational reappraisal of existing facts, or the discovery of new facts. Hysteria is not part of the factual / non-factual domain. It's an emotional matter: when people were in a vulnerable refractory phase, they felt hysterically victimized, and now that their energy levels are restoring to baseline levels, they no longer resonate with any of those hysterical reactions. Some hacks may try to keep selling them, but the public -- including leftists -- is rapidly becoming less and less interested in buying them. They no longer resonate emotionally, and are on their way into oblivion.

Well, that is, until the next vulnerable phase of the cycle, but that's not until the early 2030s. I do not hold out hope that people will learn any lessons from this experience, since the late 2010s will seem like ancient emotional history by the end of the 2020s. I probably won't be able to control my own reactions then either, and I know in advance that I could get sucked into another political bubble at that time -- mere knowledge of a process does not allow you to alter its trajectory. You may know that once you've already eaten a satisfying meal, you can't make yourself eat any more, and that you'll feel sick at the thought of it. But when you're hungry, you can't accept that on an emotional level -- your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

I certainly don't expect better from everyone else, who can't even see this excitement cycle repeating itself. But whether you can see it coming from a mile away, or you get totally blindsided by it, it's going to happen to you just the same. A mass psychological phenomenon like the excitement cycle is too complex for one person, or even a small group, to substantially alter its outcomes. The best you can do with foreknowledge is to brace for the inevitable impact.

April 1, 2020

Why population size is irrelevant for spread of epidemic, and why open borders truly did screw Sweden in coronavirus pandemic

The following tweet has gotten quite a bit of attention, pro and con, and shows the number of coronavirus deaths in Scandinavia: deaths in Sweden have exploded higher than in Denmark, with Norway showing the fewest. It got so much engagement because it pointed out the public policy difference, where Denmark sealed its border while Sweden has been defiantly laissez-faire about borders, lockdowns, etc. Conclusion: don't be like the libertarian Swedes if you want your country to survive.

Note that the number of deaths began rising at essentially the same time in all three countries (around March 14), so it's not as though one curve has exploded higher because it's had more time than the others to grow. If you want to begin counting time from "the date when the number of dead hit 10," that too is the same day in both Sweden and Denmark (March 18). Also note that the initial number of deaths is about the same in all three countries (around 5), so it's not as though one curve has exploded higher because it had a gigantic number of initial deaths that only got worse and worse.

(Norway is a separate case, since their date of reaching 10 dead lagged behind the other two, around March 23 or 24. That's 5 or 6 more days, and since the doubling time for this coronavirus is around 3-6 days, Norway's dead could wind up the same as Denmark's, for the same number of days after the epidemic claimed 10 dead. Hopefully their elites are not as callous as in Sweden, and they get spared the worse of the two cases.)

The latest figures say that Sweden has 180 deaths, Denmark 90, and Norway 39. Recently, Sweden has tended to have twice as many deaths as Denmark.

This damning indictment of open borders during a pandemic has forced the rationalizers to scramble for an excuse. They have never studied math or biology, let alone both at the same time, but they have spent a lifetime reading science-affiliating data dorks on the internet. So what's the first excuse they hit on? Adjusting for population size! The data above are sheer numbers of dead people, not their rate per capita. "After all," Sweden has twice as many people as Denmark. Ergo, it's only natural to discover that they have twice as many dead, revealing the death rate per capita to be the same for both countries.

This is cargo-cult data analysis -- whenever you see a sheer count for some group, automatically adjust it for the population size of that group. Don't think about whether or not it makes sense -- it always makes sense, because it's one of those magical rituals that purifies the data. Data, unadjusted by some analyst, can only begin in a polluted state, and need to be purified by his magic spells.

The view of "controlling for population size" is like saying there's a giant gun pointed at the entire population of Sweden, and the entire population of Denmark, all at the same time, and when the gun fires its one big shot, it kills say 5% of what it's aimed at. Pull the trigger, and 5% of Sweden dies, along with 5% of Denmark. But since Sweden has twice as many people, it will have twice as many total deaths.

But that is not how the growth process works for epidemics -- or any exponential growth process, for that matter. The contagious disease is not targeting the entire population at the same time, and it does not do its thing all at once. Contagious diseases are contagious -- they have to start somewhere, and then work their way out from the starting point, at some growth rate. The initial number of infecteds has to pass it on to the next round of infecteds, and so on and so forth.

To take a numerical example, suppose it starts with 1 person, and then doubles with each step of time (it doesn't have to be a day -- it's however long it takes to double in size). So it goes: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc. In these 10 time steps, it's multiplied by about 1000 (from 1 to 1024).

That's how it will proceed in any country -- it starts with 1 initial infected and multiplies by 2 after each time step. It has nothing to do with total population size, because at first the disease only "sees" the first infected, and then it "sees" double that number, and double that number, and so on. It does not, and cannot, "see" the entire population beyond these initial rounds of infecteds. It's spreading from person to person, and has no point of view from which to survey the entire population.

It is not supplying a demand, as though a cell phone company saw the entire population size of the two countries, and ordered twice as many cell phones to supply the Swedish market as the Danish market. There is no national-level disease source that is supplying twice as many viruses to Sweden as to Denmark, in order to accommodate their higher population size. It's just blindly moving from one infected individual to the next, without a clue as to how far its reach, in sheer numbers, will eventually extend by the end of the epidemic.

To put it more bluntly, remember those 10 time steps during which it rose from 1 to 1000? What would it matter if the population within which it's spreading were 1 million or 10 million? It's only growing to 1000 -- not even close to exhausting the "smaller" population of 1 million, so what good would it do the virus to have an additional 9 million people in the overall population? They would be useless for fueling greater growth in the larger population.

It does matter if the population size is 100, or 1000, or something small. Then there's no way it can complete all 10 time steps and reach 1024 infecteds. But if you're talking 100K, let alone millions, 10s of millions, billions, etc. -- then no, differences in population size do not help or hinder it from reaching a certain number of infecteds, during the early stage.

When it eventually reaches its peak -- let's say at 50% of the population (hopefully nowhere near that close in our case) -- then of course population size matters. If it eventually peaks at 50% in both Sweden and Denmark, then it will have produced twice as many infecteds in Sweden. If the death rate among infecteds is the same for both countries, then Sweden will also have twice as many deaths at that later stage. But not in the early stage, which we're still in for awhile.

Worse for the rationalizers, we don't even know that the peak percentage of the population that gets infected (and separately, who die) will be the same for Sweden and Denmark. It's not necessarily a matter of Sweden ultimately reaching the same maximum per capita rate as Denmark will, only getting there faster. It could be that Sweden will reach a higher maximum in the per capita rate of infecteds (and so, of deaths). If so, then its exploding numbers in this early stage are a harbinger of a much more dire situation at its peak, compared to Denmark at its eventual peak.

For now, all we know is that it's spreading faster in Sweden than in Denmark, because the initial number of infecteds was essentially the same in both countries, and the process started about the same time in each country. In the equation for exponential growth, the number at any given time is only a function of the initial number, the amount of time that's passed, and the growth rate. That leaves only the growth rate as differing between Sweden and Denmark, if Sweden has become so much worse off by now.

Denmark closed its borders on March 15, and the effects take about two weeks to observe, given the time to catch the disease, show symptoms, and then die. Within two weeks of this divergence in public policy, the divergence in number of dead was clearly evident. Swedish elites chose to sacrifice their people on the alter of libertarianism and open borders, while the realigning Social Democrats in Denmark have begun fusing populism with nationalism (meaning, anti-globalism), and have saved a good fraction of their citizens who would have surely perished if the elites had followed the open borders model.

My guess is that, after conceding the point on this matter, the rationalizers will next grasp for the excuse that open borders only caused deaths to double, rather than amp up by a full order of magnitude or more. As long as your policy decision only kills 9.99 times as many people as the alternative, what can the peons possibly complain about? They're practically the same outcomes!