December 21, 2020

Lads and lesbians as a counterbalance to girls and gays, among "content-creators" and audiences

An ongoing non-ironic joke with the Red Scare podcast hosts and their audience is that the show is primarily for "girls and gays". As with all things feminist, there's no such all-encompassing group as "girls" -- they mean a certain subset of them. Urbanite, transplants, high body count by age 30, open to experimenting with drugs, living in squalor, glorifying abjection, and so on and so forth. That creates a large overlap with how gays live, so they're two peas in a pod.

This primary filter leads to a secondary one for the straight guys who take part in the fanbase -- they're also urbanite transplants aiming for a high body count by age 30, will have few / no children, open to drugs, etc., and are looking to shack up with the girls in the primary audience. To the extent their lifestyles are similar, they may share cultural tastes, which can serve as conversation fodder in between episodes of abject hook-ups.

In contrast to this fast-living demographic, there's another mix of hetero and homosexuals of different sexes, who are more in the slow-living lane -- call them "lads and lesbians". As with all things MRA-ist, there's no such all-encompassing group as "guys" or "men" -- this would be a certain subset of them. Suburban, small town, rural, or unwilling urbanites. Low body count / volcel, aiming to have a lifelong pair bond and several children. Preferring natural vices like satiating meals and dancing rather than artificial ones like drugs. Living in charming coziness, eschewing abjection. That makes them overlap enough in lifestyle with lesbians for them to share a sub-culture.

(Yes, I know the term "lad" has the fast-living connotation, but it has to be alliterative with "lesbian" to counterbalance "girls and gays". "Dudes and dykes" is too rude to forge an alliance. "Guys and gal-lovers" sounds too forced. Maybe "lads and lezzies" for a more informal, gently negging tone.)

With that primary filter in place, a secondary one would select for straight girls who were interested in such guys as boyfriends, husbands, and fathers of their children. Girls from a similar demographic.

Just as the (certain subset of) girls need to be able to vibe with their gay friends, these guys would have to be a subset of their sex who could vibe with lesbians. Most lesbians aren't that butch, so we're talking guys who are not high-energy dominant go-getters, nor the attention-seeking type who were the class clown, life of the party, lead singer, or other entertainer. Sensitive, introspective, empathetic, self-effacing, social harmony over individual ambition.

If it were a podcast about politics, without any irony I would sum up a potential co-host pair as Michael Tracey and Tulsi Gabbard. (I'm not 100% sure she's lesbian, but after looking into their distinct characteristics this year, it seems more likely than not. The point being that the woman would at least have to strongly ping your lezdar.)

And although there are lots of guys in this mold on the left (especially the trad-Caths), I'd wager a majority of the groypers (the original kind) are of this type as well. Like Red Scare, this project would have to be heterodox enough to attract people from both sides of the spectrum. For instance, this one would be more SWERF-y and TERF-y (feminists opposed to sex work and to men-pretending-to-be-women hijacking the LGBTQ discourse and policies).

Then again, maybe the hosts would be only straight guys, who could attract a large enough lesbian following to brand themselves as "lads and lesbians," in a mirror-image of Red Scare. "Tfw no tradwife gf" guys, and cottagecore girls (straight or lesbian).

I'm not even sure the focus would be mainly politics or cultural commentary. These guys and their lesbian fellow travelers are less cerebral than usual for the media / entertainment sector. There would be more of a focus on the crafts, not only the arts, and practical rather than theoretical concerns. Artisanal cooking (of your own), vintage clothing, antique books, DIY home maintenance, folk music and dance, weightlifting and sports rather than cardio, all that calm and cozy stuff. And since lesbians generally do not have big boobs, this would be a rare case of butt girls having a room of their own in the discourse, which is dominated by cerebral boob girls.

The intro song would not be electronic dance club oriented, but combining folk, indie, rock, heart-on-sleeve sincerity, desire for intimacy, yet falling back on moody pining from afar -- something by Mazzy Star. (In retrospect, Hope Sandoval gives pretty strong lesbian vibes.) If more mainstream, Taylor Swift from 2010-'14 (her lesbianism is an open secret). Hard to think of better uniters of slow-living sensitive guys, sensitive girls, and lesbians in particular.

It wouldn't have to be a podcast, of course -- too many of those damn things anyway. YouTube show, livestream, group blog, or other "long-form" and episodic format, with fans reacting ideally on a site of their own (forum, blog comments section, etc.), or if not, a sub-culture on Tumblr (God forbid the gatekeeped sites of Twitter or Reddit).

I contain multitudes, and would not be the target audience -- I'd be split between the grinding to Charli XCX in a dance club audience of Red Scare and the lap-cat by the fireplace audience of the Lads and Lezzies show. So there are probably some other common factors to be pointed out, and I'll add them in the comments as they occur to me. Leave your own as well.

December 18, 2020

The mirage of rap's popularity: How streaming stats mislead vs. sales and airplay

Looking over the top 100 songs for 2020, I was struck yet again by how much rap there is. I've noticed this for the past several years, and figured I was just out of touch with that area of pop music, since I don't listen to rap radio stations, don't know anyone who's really into rap, and don't go to clubs that play rap. Still, it just seemed like a growing presence that was not my cup of tea.

But having studied the seismic shift that streaming has had on the music culture, I can finally make some sense of it. Rap is in fact a niche genre, with a few crossover hits to mainstream audiences. However, the media elites who construct the chart formulas have put their thumb on the scale in order to over-emphasize rap's popularity and influence, at the expense of truly popular genres like pop, country, and dance.

The formal trick they use is giving substantial weight to streaming stats, which do not distinguish between breadth vs. depth of exposure. And popularity is about breadth of exposure across the entire music-listening population, not the depth of devotion among fans who expose themselves repeatedly to the song, as opposed to casual fans who expose themselves to it far fewer times.

So if you too were wondering why there's so much emphasis on rap in the media, you weren't crazy. It's another example of woke representation practices, meant to buy off the "talented tenth" of African-Americans, who get employment in the entertainment sector, and placate the bottom 90% of them with cultural cred -- rather than the entertainment and media elites using their high status to lobby the Democrats into providing desperately needed public goods and services.

* * *

First, a clarification -- the Billboard charts are a product of the media sector, not entertainment. The record labels produce the music, the artists perform it, and various other channels distribute it to the audience (radio stations, clubs, streaming platforms, etc.). Billboard is more of a trade publication than a cultural commentary one, but it's still part of the media sector, albeit the entertainment-focused media.

So, this is not a case of the production side making a ton of rap songs that nobody wants to listen to. Nor is it the distributors taking a niche genre and foisting it on users of their platforms like YouTube, radio stations, and so on. Those two sides are too driven by the cold, hard laws of supply & demand to attempt to deliver a bunch of stuff that is largely unwanted.

However, the media who describe and comment on entertainment are under no such constraints. Or rather, their supply & demand laws are different because their audience is not listeners of music per se, but readers of music-themed discourse. Their audience wants to read takes, and spit out takes of their own, which is orthogonal to what types of music they enjoy listening to.

It's perfectly possible, then, for Billboard to mischaracterize the state of supply & demand in the music industry, if doing so will satisfy the cravings of discourse junkies. It would be wrong to call this "foisting" their narrative onto the music-listening public, because the typical music fan probably never looks at the Billboard charts. Those who do consume media commentary on music, though, evidently eat up the narrative about how influential rap is, so the media outlets are not foisting the misleading description onto their audience either -- they're just supplying the demand for a certain narrative.

But if you do want an overall accurate picture of what the zeitgeist is like, out of curiosity, just bear in mind that the media chart creators can and do rig the outcome in order to please their target audience above all else. It won't be totally outta whack, since such a picture would not even be plausible, and the audience wants the illusion of reality as well as the ideologically soothing distortions. Still, something to take into account.

* * *

Now, the basic problem. For the 2020 Hot 100 chart, I count 30-some rap songs. Not a majority, but still a sizable share. And to anyone who's been in touch with music this year, way too many. What gives?

Well, the Hot 100 chart is actually made up of several component charts. The three with heaviest weighting are sales of singles (i.e. digital downloads), radio airplay, and streaming plays. As of 2013, these carry weightings of 35-45%, 30-40%, and 20-30%, respectively, and the weightings change week to week.

The shifting weekly weightings is the first obvious sign that the chart creators are using these stats to rig the desired outcome, otherwise the weightings would stay the same in order to judge all songs by the same set of standards. In one week, one weighting will accomplish the goal of maximizing rap at the expense of pop, dance, and country, while a different weighting will be needed for another week, since each week's batch of songs perform somewhat differently relative to one another.

For example, if the sales stats favor pop over rap by a huge amount in week 1, and to a lesser degree in week 2, then the chart-riggers will have to give a lower weight to sales in week 1 than in week 2.

Let's turn to Billboard's Digital Songs sales chart, of which their website lists only the top 75. For the 2020 chart, I count about 10 of the rap songs that are also on the Hot 100 chart, and several others that are not. Scaling that to a list of 100 by sales, that would be about 15-20 rap songs -- in other words, only half as many as actually appear on the Hot 100 chart.

Not only is rap less pervasive on the sales chart, but big hit songs you've been hearing all year do in fact show up, while they're mysteriously missing from the Hot 100 chart. "Kings and Queens" by Ava Max, "Midnight Sky" by Miley Cyrus, and "Stupid Love" by Lady Gaga in the dance genre. "Lover" and "Cardigan" by Taylor Swift in the adult contempo genre. And a slew of country songs I don't recognize because I'm not in the target demographic. Again, that's only for the 75 songs listed on their website; if they had a full list of 100, there would be more staples of the zeitgeist in those genres that were kept out of the Hot 100.

When I looked over the sales chart, it felt 10 times more familiar than what's listed on the Hot 100 chart. And that's not just from what I seek out deliberately -- it's from what I hear in any public place that plays music, what's on while changing radio stations, what's popular on Tik Tok trends, what a popular streamer like Pokimane plays in the background while chatting, what anyone is talking about, what online memes refer to... literally every source of pop culture other than the music media itself.

There is a heavy overlap between the sales and Hot 100 charts, since the big-picture narrative from the Hot 100 chart cannot be totally divorced from reality. Still, it's striking how disoriented a normal music listener -- who doesn't care about woke ideology being reflected in the list -- would get from there being a sizable minority of fake rap songs shoehorned in, and the same number of actually popular dance / pop / country songs erased from the record.

* * *

As for radio airplay, Billboard doesn't list their top 100 songs online, but by genre it must reflect the distribution of radio station listenership size by genre (called a "format"). See Nielsen's overview of the top radio formats at the end of 2019.

There is no dedicated rap or hip-hop format, but they are included under the urban contemporary and (to a lesser degree) the urban adult contemporary formats. So however well those formats do, rap must do worse, since urban contempo (and especially urban AC) also includes a bunch of R&B songs.

Among music stations playing current music, the formats with the largest listenership size are adult contempo, country, and pop, followed by hot AC and urban AC, with urban contempo lagging down with Mexican regional. Notice that this is the opposite ranking of which genres are artificially boosted on the Hot 100 chart.

Even more telling is the fact that Mexican regional does not get over-represented on the Hot 100, despite the potential wokeness cred that the chart-riggers could enjoy from doing so, and despite it being as popular or more so on the radio than rap. However, the cultural commentators and their audiences don't find Mexican culture interesting, other than the food, and they don't feel as strong of a need to "heal historical traumas" or "correct the historical record" by amplifying recognition of Mexican culture today, as compared to African-American culture.

The same goes for the Spanish contempo format, which is about as popular as rap (if not urban contempo as a whole, due to R&B's popularity), and is as popular as alternative. But listening to reggaeton enough to have an opinion on it one way or another, let alone actually dancing to it in a club with thicc-booty Cuban girls, would absolutely mortify the dorky white liberal males who control the music-themed media sector, and make up most of the audience as well.

"Spanish music" is still too dance-oriented and corporeal for it to appeal to the cerebral types who are take junkies and media consumers. There's no pretension in the lyrics about "telling a larger story," "raising awareness," etc., and there's no raw angsty attitude like in modern rap, which in many ways has become the black version of punk -- non-musical angst, verbal focus, and a basic beat without melodic instruments.

When rap is (slightly) more melodic, dance-oriented, and aimed at dudes and dudettes grinding on each other in a club, rather than individuals stewing in angst alone in their room, music media people lose all interest. Suddenly it's just a pretext for animalistic booty-shaking. Like all good cerebrals, they only condone sex-having and lust in music if it's centered around boobs (elevating) rather than butts (sinful).

* * *

That leaves only streaming as the component of the Hot 100 that must be artificially boosting the popularity of rap, and diminishing that of pop, dance, and country. This component reflects all the big platforms -- YouTube, Spotify, et al.

The first problem with streaming is the youth bias: 55% of Spotify users are aged 18-34. And in Nielsen's radio listenership article, urban contempo skyrockets to 4th place in that age group, while Mexican regional and Spanish contempo lag far behind. Giving greater weight to streaming means giving rap more representation compared to pop, country and Spanish-language music.

But there's a far greater distortion that comes from using streaming stats. Billboard uses the total number of plays across streaming media (in the US), which could be a lot of people listening a few times each (a broadly popular fad song), or a few diehards listening to it over and over again (a niche song that will last forever in the fanbase).

That makes streaming unlike sales of songs, where one sale could be listened to one time or one million times -- it's still measuring the song's exposure to just one individual. Diehard fans do not skew the overall results by listening to their purchases many times more than casual fans who bought the same song. Total sales of a song = total individuals exposed directly.

And it's also unlike radio airplay, which takes audience size into account. They use the share of radio listeners tuned into a certain station for at least 5 minutes during a 15-minute interval. If a song is played in that interval, that audience size is about how many people were exposed to the song.

Even if someone tunes into the station and hears that song every day, it doesn't skew the overall results because they aren't adding to the audience size by tuning in every day -- it's roughly the same size from one week to the next. Diehard fans may be tuning in every day, while casual fans only listen some days of the week -- but the total size stays about even because some casual fans who are absent on one day are made up for by other casual fans who are tuning in that day. (And when those casuals tune out later in the week, the casuals who were tuned out earlier in the week show up to replace them.)

So if anything, radio airplay is skewed more by casual listeners than by diehard fans, since the total number of casual listeners is hardly all present on any given day. Thus, the station's listenership is larger than it would appear from a snapshot in time. And assuming some song is a regular in the station's playlist throughout the week, it's reaching a broader audience than it would appear from a snapshot. Like sales, radio airplay measures breadth rather than depth.

The streaming stats could be made accurate by measuring the total number of unique individuals who played the song during a given interval, regardless of how many times they played it. Spotify could do that, since their users have to have downloaded the app and be signed in. But YouTube does not require you to even have an account, let alone be signed in, to search for and play videos. And big hits get in the 100s of millions of views on YouTube (albeit globally), so that is no small problem with aggregating streaming stats across all platforms.

I guess YouTube could try tracking how many unique IPs within the US played a video in a given interval, regardless of number of times played. But they're not doing that.

And the larger point is they don't want to -- it would ruin their goal of over-representing rap in the Hot 100 chart, to construct the narrative of how influential a certain part of African-American culture is in the broader society. Using youth-biased streaming stats, with a substantial and shifting weighting, and measuring total plays rather than audience size, are just the technical means toward the end of narrative construction.

If you think they aren't aware of these problems, you think they're stupid, and these people do not have low IQs. Even if you didn't think of the breadth vs. depth issue beforehand, your BS detector would be screaming when you checked the results of your algorithm and saw 30-some rap songs on the top 100 for the year. "I knew there'd be some, but not this many -- something's wrong with our formula."

Any naive techie geek who pointed these issues out would be gently ignored by his managers, and fired if he pressed on it. If these problems were solved, the results would only have 15 rap songs out of 100, and 20 more songs from pop, dance, and country -- ummm, lame mayo music much? Gotta get more hyped-up rap songs in there somehow, or else our descriptive narrative won't fly with the target audience of woke take junkies.

December 15, 2020

Late 2000s infatuation anthem "Here (In Your Arms)" by Hellogoodbye, the ultimate nostalgia for early '90s births, the next viral Tik Tok "kissing my friend" song?

While looking further into the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, to get a hint of what's coming in the current restless phase (2020-'24), I came across this song from the last restless phase (2005-'09). Really embodies the "coming out of your shell" aspect of the restless phase, after the "don't come near me" refractory state of the preceding vulnerable phase. Bonus points for the music video being set in the early '90s, the most recent restless phase at the time, creating a zeitgeist echo.

"Here (In Your Arms)" by Hellogoodbye (2006):

Judging from the YouTube comments, this remains one of the most painfully nostalgic songs for people born between 1990-'94, who were born during a restless phase and then turned 15 during another restless phase. I thought some of the late '80s births would have chimed in as well, but they're pretty uniformly early '90s births.

It resonated the most with high schoolers experiencing their first major infatuation, where they're finally getting close to the other person, beyond merely pining and crushing on them unbeknownst from afar. For the late teens and early 20-somethings of the time, they'd already been through that, so while it was popular with them, it was not such a life-stage-defining anthem as it was for the early '90s kids.

It came right back to life for me, an early '80s birth, even though I couldn't place exactly where it was from -- probably at dance clubs, where I was actually going, since I was not listening to the radio. However, Billboard says it was only a hit on dance radio stations (#3 weekly, #14 year-end) rather than in clubs (did not chart), so maybe it was a quirk of the particular club I went to. And despite coming out on an indie label, it crossed over to the Hot 100 chart (#14 weekly, #81 year-end).

You can search YouTube for 'hellogoodbye here "200X" ' for some year in the late 2000s, and aside from the live concert videos, there are plenty of self-made music videos of teens dancing around their room with a friend to this song. All normies, and the occasional "indie who was friends with normies". Very much like Tik Tok these days, only the movements are more freeform and joking-around, rather than a standardized dance-step routine that everybody does.

The point being, it was super-popular back then, and you'll remember it if you were in touch with those times, but it's more of a deep cut nowadays. Thus far into the late 2000s revival, we still haven't seen this one go viral all over again, like "Shake It" has done on Tik Tok.

And that's not because it doesn't have the potential -- it could easily be the next soundtrack in the family of videos about "working up the nerves to kiss my best friend". It would start out with "Our lips can touch," allowing a little tension to build but not forever, then when the chorus erupts in intensity, the person goes for it and plants a big one right on their lips. Similar dynamic to "Electric Love," which has been a gigantic success in that family of videos.

It could also be showcased in late 2000s revival movie, whose vague concept I've been toying around with, but that's for another post.

December 12, 2020

"Thot" implies "butt girl," and "thot patrollers" are just boob guys frustrated by butt girls

I've been looking at various Tik Tok trends this week in order to write a yearly wrap-up post about how they reveal the shift from the vulnerable refractory phase to the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle. So now YouTube is suggesting a bunch of Tik Tok compilations, and a good deal have titles like "Tik Tok thots October 2020".

It made me wonder -- does the label "thot" imply that she's a corporeal butt girl? That's one of the most distinctive things about Tik Tok vs. other major online platforms -- way more tushy than tiddy.

You don't really hear much about "Twitter thots," even though the women on there post selfies all the time, talk about their secondary sex parts all the time, and the men on there are terminally thirsty for said selfies and discourse.

Yet as I showed in a highly cited research article, all of those verbal / cerebral types on Twitter are boob girls and boob guys. I originally described them as political junkies, but it's more general -- any part of the verbal / cerebral "take" industry.

Googling "YouTube thots" or "YouTuber thots" returned an order of magnitude lower results than "Tik Tok thots" or "Instagram thots". YouTubers are nearly all in the takes industry, they just have an audio-visual mode of communicating their takes to the audience, as opposed to the primarily textual mode of Twitter.

But Twitter and YouTube are mainly thoughtties rather than thotties.

There are no takes on Tik Tok, or Instagram for that matter -- the other platform highly associated with the label "thot," and again where you're likely to see a fair amount of butt girls.

Do an image search for "thot(s)" on Google or Twitter, and a solid majority of the selfies are focusing on the ass / hips / thighs region, only a minority on the chest.

All these lines of evidence confirm my initial hunch that "thot" is used to refer mostly to butt girls, for whatever reason.

In that case, who are the "thot patrollers" who post "thot begone" on the verbal / cerebral take platforms like Twitter? Why, the very same boob men who populate that part of the internet. It's only natural that they'd want to drive the butt girls off of their patch of the web -- they aren't interested in seeing what's around back, but what's up front. The women go along with these memes for the same reason: they want to see a rise in the value of boobs, not buns.

To put it directly -- it has nothing to do with horniness in guys or attention-seeking in girls. These guys are horny as hell, but only for boobs. They never stop talking about milkers, milkies, milk trucks, and drawing Apu memes with the hands reaching up for some babe's bouncers. And the women never stop talking about their big naturals, often posting pics of them on main. Where's the "hornt police" to throw these offenders in "hornt jail"?

"You see, officer, I was merely lusting over a rack, not a rump. I lost No Nut November like a stoic gentlesir, to a boob girl, not to a butt girl like some thirsty simp."

Notice how the verbal / cerebral people always need to rationalize and even moralize about their base animal instincts? OK, so you're horny for boobs, I'm horny for butts, big deal right? No, one of those instincts is morally righteous and to be indulged, while the other is sinful and to be punished.

Corporeal butt people never do this: we just go with the flow, to each their own, everyone likes whatever they like, and so on. If horniness is to be shamed, then it should be shamed no matter which secondary sex region the person is focusing on. And if exhibitionism is to be shamed, it should be so no matter which region the girl is showing off.

Twitter people post shaming takes about Instagram and Tik Tok thots (and their simps), but Instagram influencers and viral Tik Tok stars, and their commenters, never make images and video clips to shame the verbal boob junkies on Twitter. Nor have they come up with a pejorative label for "attention-seeker, but only with her boobs" as a counterpart to "thot".

The policing obsession only goes in one direction, because cerebral people are more likely to suffer from mental disorders like depression and autism, which would drive them to fixate endlessly on the things that make them irritable, whereas corporeal people are more happy-go-lucky and don't let the jealous hate coming from the take-makers get to them. The idea that you would try to police other people's horniness only if it ran against your own personal preferences for secondary sex region, would simply never occur to them. "Okey-dokey, dork!"

I don't like having to always return to this "butts vs. boobs" discourse, but how can you not, given how sexualized everything is on the internet? It turns out that where you are on that dimension lines up with where you are on a whole bunch of other dimensions. And on the internet, someone is far more likely to share their secondary sex region preference, than whether they like or hate dancing, whether rich food or hard drugs is their vice, and so on and so forth.

By this point, that's the first filter that I classify internet-people by, to understand the context they're coming from -- boob person or butt person?

December 8, 2020

Make your own chicken liver pate at home in the crock pot

The week of Thanksgiving I planned on making a root vegetable stew to get in the cozy autumn mood, and decided on chicken livers as the meat. I figured it wouldn't be too different from beef heart stew, or fried beef liver & onions, or fried chicken hearts.

But in a Bob Ross turn of events, a happy little accident resulted -- liver in more of a pate consistency, totally broken down in structure after only stirring it around with a spoon. I did expect it to be falling-apart after 6 hours in the crock pot (what strivers have re-branded as a "slow cooker"). Just didn't think it would be so spreadable.

Given how expensive liver products are, though, I was only too happy to stumble upon the process for making your own at home.

The recipes for liver pate include a bunch of butter mixed in afterward, so this is more like a liver spread or liver salad. No pork, ham, bacon, or other meat either, unlike a proper pate or liverwurst.

Still, I prefer a variety of textures, and some separation of tastes to play off of each other, rather than a homogeneous mash. So if I wanted butter and bacon in the mix, I'd make the liver spread the same way, then slather some butter onto the toast before the spread, and top it off with a few slices of bacon. But if you like the all-in-one pate form, there are plenty of recipes for that as well.

If you're like me and were not raised on liver, its distinctive taste will be too bold and rich by itself, so I included some astringent vegetables like parsnip and celery to cut through the liver-y taste, as well as coating the top of the toast slices with yellow mustard. You could stuff this spread into half-sliced peppers, too -- anything crisp and acidic.

Ever since I discovered the low-carb / paleo / keto thing about 10 years ago, I've always made sure to include liver in my diet. There's no better source for vitamin A, since that's the organ where it's stored. It's so concentrated, you only need a medium slice of liverwurst a day to get all the retinol your body needs.

Now I can finally prepare it at home, without having to regularly eat fried beef liver & onions. Don't know why I never bothered looking up a recipe for pate, guess I always assumed it was a big laborious ordeal because of how expensive it is. But nope! It couldn't be simpler.

It will make a huge amount, though, more than you can consume before it starts to spoil after a week or so. (Speaking of which, store in the fridge with an airtight seal around the entire surface of the mass, whether plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc.) The day before Thanksgiving, I filled a small casserole dish to the brim and gave it to the elderly woman I know next door -- and I still had enough to last about 10 days, with heaping servings every day.

Since this was the first time I made it, and on accident at that, what's below is more of a report of what I did, than a tried and true recipe, in case you want to keep it as simple as I did.

Normally I'd make the base out of a can of diced tomatoes, watered down, then a variety of herbs and spices mixed in. But I was experimenting with sauces out of the jar at the time. And if I'd known I'd be making a spread for toast, I would've minimized carbs by cutting out the rice, which was intended for a stew.

* * *


1.25 lb tub of chicken livers

1 jar tikka masala sauce

Water to fill the sauce jar

1/2 medium turnip

1/2 medium parsnip

1/2 medium yellow onion

2 stalks celery

1/8 to 1/4 lb white rice (did not measure exactly)

Toast, crackers, or pepper halves for serving


Empty sauce into crock pot, watered down with enough water to fill jar

Dice the turnip, parsnip, onion, celery, and add to the pot

Add rice to the pot

Rinse off the livers in a colander, then add them to the pot

Stir everything well

Cook on low for 6 hours

Slice livers apart and stir all around until a paste forms

Let cool for 30 min

Transfer mixture to Pyrex dish (or other hot-to-cold-to-hot dish)

Refrigerate overnight, with mixture covered in plastic wrap or foil

Serve on toast, crackers, pepper halves, etc., with yellow mustard

December 5, 2020

Social weather update: girls wolf-calling back in response to guy calling out first

At the end of last year and early part of this year, I detailed several "new" phenomena that signaled the end of the vulnerable refractory phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and the beginning of the restless warm-up phase. "New" in the sense of they hadn't happened since the summer of 2015 at the very latest, and were more of a staple of the zeitgeist from 2005-2014 (a warm-up phase, and a manic phase).

One of those was girls in a car cat-calling guys (me). I felt sufficiently in-the-mood on Halloween to do some cat-calling of my own from the car. But it was from behind, since they were on the same side of the street, and we could only look sideways at each other as I passed them, which didn't leave much time for them to process what was going on and respond in kind.

So tonight I felt like experimenting a little, and made sure to look for a group of girls on the opposite side of the street, on the main drag through campus / downtown. Sure enough, despite the 30-something degree weather, there was a group of 5 or 6 girls in their early 20s, all dressed in short skirts and fishnet leggings, looking like they were heading somewhere with a goth / industrial / alt / e-girl theme.

Not that I don't appreciate the ones jogging around in yoga pants, but if you're showing your legs in near-freezing weather, you deserve the reward most.

So I howled out like a wolf -- OWW OWWWWWWW!!! -- and this time they had enough time to see me and process it all, and they all howled back using my exact same vowels and rhythm -- OWW OWWWWWWW!!! An entire pack of she-wolves out on the prowl, baying back at a random hot lone wolf guy. I honestly cannot remember the last time this happened, sometime during the heyday of '80s night around 2010, give or take.

I think it's important to make sure they can see you first, so they know it's not some ugly / creepy / soyboy guy, as they might worry if you called to them from behind. Even then they probably assume that an awkward dorky guy wouldn't have the balls to make such a public move on a group of girls, but still, don't leave any uncertainty in their minds.

Same reason why you don't ever approach a girl from behind to dance in a club -- even if she would want to dance with you, the event takes too long to process if she can't see you first, and she's going to instinctively feel awkward. Either she'll scurry away, or look tensely at her friend who can see you, to get a signal if it's a hot guy or a dorky guy. Bad spot to begin the interaction in.

Certainly your mileage may vary depending on how hot you are, and what music you're playing out the windows. ("Long Hot Summer" by Style Council tonight, despite the season, still set the flirtatious mood perfectly.) But even if you're not a follow-around-the-store hot guy, girls are still pretty forgiving when you're giving your best effort to flirt with them in public, especially where actual physical contact is not yet involved. If you and your normie friends are out driving around, and it doesn't look like you'd all be alone at a danceclub, just go for it and have some fun.

Cat-calling, wolf-howling, etc., are not going to get you laid right then and there -- and the girls know that. They won't interpret it as an awkward slide into their DMs, accidentally liking one of their selfies from 4 years ago on Instagram, or any of that other fake gay online shit. And therefore, there's a good chance they'll give you a signal of their own right back. It's just fun and exciting flirtation, meant to get everyone into a coming-out-of-their-shell mood.

The girls are signaling that they're out of their shell by making themselves presentable, and then actually presenting themselves for public evaluation. The guys signal that they're out of their shell by giving the girls a glowing evaluation.

You can't carry out this call-and-response ritual online, over text, etc. That's too pod-like. Girls feel no validation from it because it's the easiest thing in the world to send a text, so the guy isn't investing anything in them. And guys get no enjoyment either because sending a text, liking a tweet, etc., is not a ballsy move, so they don't feel their testosterone surge. Also, the timing is a nightmare online -- did they actually read it yet, when are they going to text back, etc.? When it's IRL, everything happens immediately and directly, so there's never a moment for either side's anxiety to build up. They just go with the flow.

One aspect of these interactions that I have not discussed yet is the impression they leave on everyone else in attendance, as it were. These are public spaces, filled by more bodies than just the two parties to the mating calls. Not only do these rituals change the mood and steer the behavior of the people directly participating, they alter the mood for everyone else as well.

"Wow, what kind of atmosphere are we in, where guys and girls are wolf-howling to each other in a densely packed public street? Horny levels must be going off the charts these days. Noted for future reference..."

These public spectacles can serve to shatter the conformity effect, when the time is right in the excitement cycle. If no one perceives anyone else to be bucking the trend of low-energy isolation, then even if they wanted to do so, they might just go along to get along. Maybe the timing is wrong. Maybe I'd be too weird. But once they see just a handful of other people breaking the "rule" and getting away with it, then all bets are off. Time for us to do a little cat-calling of our own.

One instance of the spectacle can alter the mindsets of dozens of others watching, and at least a few of them will perform the spectacle themselves before long, which propagates the phenomenon in an exponential fashion, as a social contagion.

Of course, you couldn't do this a few years ago during the height of the #MeToo vulnerable phase. It would have been poorly received by the girls, and the spectators would've taken it as a reminder to just keep to themselves for awhile longer.

But when you get the sense that the vibes are changing, risk-taking people can experiment to see what the reception is. And provided the time is right, they've just kicked off a return to the fun and flirtatious climate of the last restless warm-up phase (in the late 2000s).

Happy to do my part for the greater good of society.

I've been meaning to write a brief review of Miley Cyrus' new album Plastic Hearts, but in the meantime, here's an apropos track (featuring "Billy Fucking Idol," as the CD booklet says):