December 25, 2022

Christmas songs and American ethnogenesis (open thread too)

It's striking how there has been no new American Christmas standard after 1994's "All I Want for Christmas Is You". It's the only standard to come from the '90s, and neither the 2000s nor the 2010s would produce a single new standard.

The '80s were a pretty wobbly decade for Christmas standards anyway -- "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "Last Christmas" from '84, and deep cut (although still played every year now) "Christmas Wrapping" from '81. And the big ones were both British, although under the American empire's influence by that point.

The '70s weren't too great either: "This Christmas" and "Feliz Navidad" from '70, barely outside of the '60s, "Wonderful Christmastime" from '79, and annoying gag song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" also from '79.

The last decade to be packed with new Christmas standards was the '60s, from "Please Come Home for Christmas", "Do You Hear What I Hear?", "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "Little Saint Nick", and the several examples from children's TV specials -- "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas", "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", "Christmas Time Is Here", and "Linus and Lucy".

American Christmas standards really start in the '30s, and continue through the '60s. This is the peak of American imperial ethnogenesis, when we were still defining our collective identity (and capable of expanding territorially, peaking in WWII). Anything that came after that is largely irrelevant, because our identity had already been forged. And anything before that was from a not-yet-mature stage of forging our identity.

So, for better or worse, most of our distinctly American Christmas music sounds like Midcentury American pop music. And very little of it is distinctly Christian -- it's more about the snow, gift-giving, and other wintertime secular rituals.

Why? Because America's process of forging its identity has always pointed away from its Old World roots, including Christianity in any form (Catholic, Protestant, etc.). Our founders were more Freemason than Christian. Like it or hate it, it's true. Evangelical Protestants and Catholics alike are most common back East, where America barely exists, and where Old World roots live on the strongest.

Heading westward has always defined the American experience and identity construction, as our primary meta-ethnic frontier was with the Indians on the other side. And out West, there are various strains of New Age American folk religion, but there is a brand new distinctly American sacred / supernatural kind of religion -- Mormonism (which had its own back East roots in Freemasonry).

I don't think that will replace Christianity until our empire is done collapsing, in the same way that Christianity didn't take root throughout the Roman Empire until it was collapsing in the 3rd century and afterward, although it originated during the height of Roman expansion in the 1st century.

And similarly, Christian culture barely existed during the 1st century or even 2nd -- that all came later as well. The same will be true of Mormon culture -- there won't be a new canon of Mormon Christmas songs until several centuries from now, when it has replaced Christianity in the former American Empire.

Although the Mid-20th-century songwriters could not tell what specific religion would replace the Old World religion of Christianity in America, they could still tell that Christianity would not survive here for long. Hence the need for a non-Christian canon of Christmas music, to mark us as a wholly separate, non-European ethnicity (in the anthro sense of a replicating cultural in-group -- not as a euphemism for "DNA race" as libtards and conservatards both now employ it).

And it's not merely a case of RETVRNING to our pre-Christian pagan European roots, as when we venerate trees, or whatever. Europeans may celebrate Christmas, and they may even incorporate pre-Christian elements. But our non-Christian elements are not very pre-Christian -- they are novel, and distinctly American, like elevating reindeer and snowmen to mythological status, even giving them proper names like Rudolph and Frosty. And adding new antagonists like the Grinch.

Santa (no longer called "Santa Claus") is distinctly American and novel as well. Father Christmas belongs to British imperial ethnogenesis (16th C), the Christkind (German imperial ethnogenesis, also in the 16th C) does not resemble Santa, and Sinterklaas from Dutch imperial ethnogenesis (early modern as well) only resembles Santa in being an old man gift-giver near the end of the year with a naughty-or-nice list (American Santa also lacks the accompanying character of Zwarte Piet).

The jolly fat old man with a white beard, red suit with white cuffs, who lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus (the only one to still regularly bear the "Claus" name), and oversees a workshop of helper elves to make or at least procure toys, riding a magical flying sleigh pulled by reindeer -- is a totally new American invention, from the 19th C., as we were expanding territorially.

These new members to the Christmastime cast of characters were driven into mass awareness through our distinctly American cultural products, like TV shows and pop music, not Christian hymns or pre-Christian European folk culture for that matter.

All of this reminds us that Americans are a distinct cultural group that underwent ethnogenesis in a totally different part of the world from the Early Modern European empires, although we began as an off-shoot of them, and were shaped by interactions with an "Other" who simply did not exist in the Old World. It's only natural that even surrounding a holiday that we supposedly have in common, like Christmas, our cultures will diverge widely.

December 14, 2022

Zoomers bringing back slang that intensifies emotion, not minimize it a la Millennials

During Mumei's "learning slang" stream last night, it struck me that one of the Millennials' key phrases -- "we did a thing" -- is another example of their annoying trend for emotional minimization.

Like, Gen X would say something is "totally fucking awesome" -- they intensified it with "totally," "to the max," "so," "for sure," etc.

Millennials would say something is "kind of amazing" -- they took away from the impact of "amazing" by saying it was only "kind of" amazing. They really meant full-on amazing, but their gay habit of minimizing all emotion prevents them from saying amazing or totally amazing or totally fucking amazing. They have to minimize it with kind of.

It wasn't until Mumei pointed out the contexts that the "we did a thing" phrase appears in, that it clicked into place for me. It's usually a really big deal -- a completely different hairstyle or hair color, getting engaged or married, etc.

They're trying to minimize the emotional impact of saying "We got married!!!" by turning a momentous event into merely "a thing" of no description or import. Of course, they mean it's a big deal, but their gay Millennial brains can't express emotion, so the biggest events of their whole lives become "a thing".

Have Millennial moms sunk to the low of posting their post-partum selfies, with the newborn in their arms, captioned, "so this morning i did a thing"?

They also preface the sentence with "so" as though it's a casual NBD situation, minimizing it further. (Gen-X "so" is an intensifying adjective or adverb, not an interjection -- "that new song is SO awesome!" or "I am SO gonna kick that guy's ass!")

And this relates to their lame and played-out trend of never using capital letters or punctuation or emojis -- doing so would indicate emotional tone of some sort within the words per se, as well as at a meta level, the writer cared enough to use capitalization and punctuation for the audience. It's mumblecore orthography.

"i couldnt possibly feel or care any less" is the message. So you're just an empty-inside depressive dork? Woah, mind blown, here's another trophy for your everybody-gets-a-trophy generation.

Good ol' Zoomers have started to give me hope about being neo-X-ers instead of Millennials 2.0. She pointed out that in the phrase "sending me", the speaker will often add on another bit like "sending me into orbit" -- that's an intensifier, not a minimizer! It's just like a bona fide Gen X example from the '80s that she discussed -- "gag me", which also could be followed by an intensifier like "gag me with a spoon".

Or, in the Gen X teen movie classic Heathers, "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw".

Mooms mentioned seeing Mean Girls several times (re: "fetch"), and that movie was inspired by Heathers. I had to pass this info along back in 2006 to my Millennial tutorees who were obsessed with Mean Girls but hadn't even heard of Heathers. Now I'm passing it on to Zoomers.

I think as neo-X-ers, Zoomers would resonate better with Heathers than Millennials did. The Zoomer girls from Hololive should do a watchalong! Gura, Mumei, Kronii, and Bae. Or at least watch it off-stream and gab about it together... or should I say, bump gums? Hehe.

November 24, 2022

The bottom-up war on Thanksgiving (libtard foot soldiers, not top-down war by academia / media)

Why do libtards go out of their way to ruin Thanksgiving? Second time within just 5 years.

Part of their greater moralistic crusade to destroy family bonds, destroy American traditions, and destroy holidays as a whole -- as something sacrosanct, protected from everyday bullshit.

I don't mean ideological crap that they post online about how the Pilgrims were problematic or whatever, I mean in their IRL face-to-face interactions with their own flesh and blood on a supposedly holy holiday here.

The former is top-down by the elites in academia, media, and entertainment. I'm talking about the bottom-up process by -- usually not elites, but aspiring elites, strivers, etc. And they may well be outside of academia / media / entertainment, but they take their marching orders from those sectors' elites, as foot soldiers in the crusade.

Well, they may end up destroying family bonds, but not in the way they think -- they're just going to get written off, excluded, and ostracized by those who do value family sanctity over petty moralistic bullshit.

Because contrary to their wish-casting, normal people don't actually have to tolerate them, host them, or even interact with them on these holidays anymore. No amount of pressure from Harvard, MSNBC, or Disney is going to enforce the foot soldiers being hosted by their families, at the grassroots level all over America. They only control what happens in their top-down world (what makes the news, what's taken as true history, etc.). Instead, the foot soldiers are weeding themselves out of the kin-pool.

Technically, it's zealots who fall under this description, since the non-zealous Democrats aren't weeding themselves out, and there are a handful of psycho Republicans who antagonize their families to the breaking point / ostracization. But right here, right now, zealots are way more libtard than conservatard, at least 80-20. Republicans, conservatives, Trump supporters, etc., are more jaded and cynical about politics, whereas Democrats, liberals, and Trump haters are driven by idealistic fervor.

Finally, in typical fashion, the ones trying to destroy the family bonds are always those who have received the most from the family and given the least, and go out of their way to signal their ingratitude. Normally this is tolerated because they're parasites who happen to share a high percentage of their genes with you -- but it's gotten so bad, that I don't see these types being tolerated any longer. Not in my case, that's for sure. They're not going to suck anything more out, while giving nothing back -- and waging war on the family at the same time!

My advice to those with a libtard crusader in your family (and there only needs to be one to ruin it for the whole group), get your anger out in the short-term, and then just write them off indefinitely. Tell them you aren't going to talk to them, host them, or give them anything (money, gifts, services / favors, literally anything).

I was hoping this would've died down after the psycho fever pitch of the late 2010s and 2020, but the fact that it's still going on in 2022 means these ones are probably not correctable by mundane means. Pray for them if you want, but you aren't going to change them -- they underwent a radicalization during the second half of the 2010s and 2020, and their transformation cannot be reversed.

If it was just an edgy middle-schooler posting a raised fist in the summer of 2020, I'd ignore that and wait and see what happens throughout this decade. But if they're a Millennial who imprinted on the war for wokeness, not as a youthful rebellion that may fade away, but as though it were a mature responsibility of theirs -- like a fiery 30-something preacher -- I don't see that wearing off. They weren't young, impulsive, and impressionistic -- they were in their late 20s and 30s!

To close on something more upbeat, please consider yourself lucky, and appreciate your situation, if you belong to the fortunate families that are primarily Silents, Gen X-ers, and Zoomers -- rather than Boomers and Millennials (and post-Zoomers, who are too young to be anything yet). You really don't know how good you have it, even if you were also subjected to the divorce epidemic or other family-destroying trends.

That was not unique to Silents and X-er children, but Boomers and X-er / Millennial children, too. But on top of that dysfunctional family force, the Boomer / Millennial families have a far higher concentration of zealots corroding the family for moral crusader reasons.

Sadly (to not close on something so upbeat after all), this is another huge blow to IRL and another huge boost to online / virtual interactions. You can micro-curate your social network online, excluding these persistent toxic influences that plague IRL spheres like the family. But it is what it is, you can only adapt -- by excluding the toxic ones from IRL family occasions, and depending more on normal people online (yes, they're out there, even if they put on an edgy persona).

November 15, 2022

Are Millennials / Zoomers nostalgic for GameStop, as Gen X is for Blockbuster?

I'm going to re-post a lengthy comment of mine into a standalone post, since it is a bit far from the original topic, though still of general interest. See the comments beginning here for the background -- talking about the availability, or not, of classic video games in the online-only era, when physical media no longer exists, more or less.

Part of my broader interest in contemporary archaeology, like collections of beer and soda containers left behind in hang-out spaces in the woods around suburbia, back when young people used to go there for fun (mainly in the '70s and '80s). Or carvings in sidewalk cement, or carvings on trees, and the like. Physical, tangible traces and remains of an earlier "vibe" or zeitgeist -- not just intangible memories and stories.

Corporeal (as opposed to cerebral) people of any generation could be interested in this stuff, so here it goes.

* * *

Are Millennials and Zoomers nostalgic for GameStop now? I would be. I know there was the meme stock thing, but I mean actual nostalgia for the store, the way they get misty-eyed about GameFAQs walkthroughs.

I stopped playing most new video games after the '90s, but still hit up GameStop in the 2000s to get those compilations of old games for the PS2 or GameCube -- the only reason I bought those consoles. (Used and cheap, both the games and consoles.)

Only contempo games I bought (used, cheap) were for the GBA and DS, which was still keeping 2D alive over 3D, and the drawing / illustration style alive over the photographic / cinematographic style.

I picked up the Game Boy Player adapter for the GameCube, allowing the GBA cartridges to play on a TV (without emulation of the GBA or the games -- same tech used for the GBP as the GBA). In the bargain bin for probably $5, with the disc, case, manual, everything. Now goes for well over $100, and sadly something I had to sell during a major move.

And just milling around the store, browsing, being around other people, maybe chit-chatting with the workers.

Similar to how Gen X will always wax nostalgic for the heyday of the video rental store. And like that staple of the community, the video game store had its small chains or mom & pop stores, like Play N Trade, not only the mega-corpo of GameStop.

It was obligatory to hate on GameStop if you were a gamer in the 2000s, and I imagine into the 2010s. Now looking back on it, have gamers changed their minds? Its business model sucked, they ripped you off if you sold them anything, they always tried to push pre-orders, bla bla bla -- but still, it was a staple of the community, a cultural hang-out space for like-minded people, nothing online or digital about it, but physical and tangible and *social*.

Once upon a time, it was also obligatory to hate on GameStop and others for slapping those price stickers on the games and consoles, requiring meticulous removal. Nowadays, do Millennials and Zoomers get nostalgic for those physical traces of a bygone social-cultural era?

Like having VHS tapes that were originally from a public library, or a Blockbuster, or mom & pop video store. I have several like that, and the different types of cases, or the labels indicating who used to own it, do give them an extra level of nostalgia.

If Gen X-ers can get nostalgic for Blockbuster Video, Millennials and Zoomers can sure as hell get nostalgic for GameStop.

October 26, 2022

"Perfect" (Gura x Mumei tribute, One Direction parody)

Writing a comment about Gura and Mumei's friendship / colleague relationship got me thinking once again about -- who else? -- One Direction. Boy band anthems can easily be adapted to be about friendships and other non-romantic relationships, as long as they're close and potentially intense, especially where each of the pair complements each other, or brings out a hidden side of the other. BFFs, or partners in crime.

So I've adapted "Perfect" (original lyrics here), with two twists. One, the close relationship is a Platonic one between two girls. And two, the male voice that begins is not pining for a romance he may not ever get (although it starts off sounding that usual way), but for a role to play in the friendship of two others (without it being a love triangle).

In that way, it's more about the yearning between a fandom and their performer, as well as the Platonic yearning for close female friends between two female performers themselves. Girl-respecters and girl-likers are damn rare in the media / entertainment industry, where most girls are girl-haters (and man-haters, too -- people-haters, cynics, etc.). So when two of them find each other, it's quite the exhilaration. So fun, the boundaries start to blur -- are they performing for their audience, or for each other? Nobody loves Hololive girls more than other Hololive girls. ^_^

I could have easily written these lyrics about Gura's other bestie, Fauna, it's just that that recent comment about Mumei & Gura singing musicals together was fresh in my mind, and "Moom" rhymes perfectly with the original lyrics. Also, Gura + Mumei keeps it Platonic (if still intimate and intense), whereas Fauna's witchy sensuality... may make the lyrics sound like they're flirting with the outer boundaries of Platonic friendship, and not that there's anything wrong with that, this just isn't meant to be a shipping anthem. Hehe.

Aside from the giggly entertainment that you girls get from lurking here, I hope it also makes you appreciate your relationships more, and not take them for granted. As much as you make your audiences feel like they're entering a virtual wonderland, you're living a fairytale of your own with each other. Why do you girls have to be so damn cuuute?

* * *

I might never be your number-one fan blogger
You might never tweet me out to all your followers
And I might never be in a meet-up of the Holos
But I can be the one you use to break the ice

When I first saw Goob
In collab with Moom
I could tell that they were princesses (uwuuu)

Girls, are you so sure
Who you're streaming for?
Are you more than just actresses?

So if you like slumber parties under Minecraft moons
And if you like karaoke duet Broadway tunes
If you like to view the memes you know that you shouldn't view
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect for you

And if you like zatsu streaming with your filters down
And if you like yabai posting on your alt account
If you like to do whatever you've been teasing about
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect
So come log on now

I might never be the drive you save your art in
Or the heart-rate belt that spikes each time she logs in
But that don't mean you two can't browse into my mirror
'Cause I can be the one reflecting back your light

When I first saw Goob
In collab with Moom
I could tell that they were princesses (uwuuu)

Girls, are you so sure
Who you're streaming for?
Are you more than just actresses?

So if you like slumber parties under Minecraft moons
And if you like karaoke duet Broadway tunes
If you like to view the memes you know that you shouldn't view
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect for you

And if you like zatsu streaming with your filters down
And if you like yabai posting on your alt account
If you like to do whatever you've been teasing about
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect
So come log on now

And if you like channels clipping when you leave 'em in doubt (uwuuu)
And if you're looking for a mod who'd never ever time you out
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect

If you like slumber parties under Minecraft moons
And if you like karaoke duet Broadway tunes
If you like to view the memes you know that you shouldn't view
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect for you

And if you like zatsu streaming with your filters down
And if you like yabai posting on your alt account
If you like to do whatever you've been teasing about
Maybe you're perfect, maybe you're perfect
So come log on now

October 24, 2022

Horror conventions change with each new 15-year excitement cycle: Survey from 1915 to 2019

My discovery of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle began by detailing the dynamics of the three different phases (lasting 5 years each) -- the restless warm-up phase (energy levels at baseline, but capable of being stimulated), the manic phase (energy levels spiking), and the vulnerable phase (energy levels crashing into a refractory state).

Although these phases repeat endlessly in a cycle, we can still draw boundaries around a self-contained 15-year interval that has its own distinct zeitgeist. And these intervals begin with a restless phase and end with a vulnerable phase. The other two possible ways of drawing the intervals (beginning with a manic, or with a vulnerable) do not slice up history into recognizable and cohesive intervals. It's natural enough -- crashing into a refractory state is a natural end-point, soaring into the sky is a natural mid-point or climax, and doing warm-ups is a natural start-point.

At a higher level of dynamics, these 15-year intervals alternate between high-energy and low-energy versions, although that is not important for this post. But briefly, the high-energy cycles are those beginning in 2005, 1975, 1945, and 1915; the low-energy cycles begin in 1990, 1960, and 1930 (and 2020).

The only thing I notice about the high vs. low-energy cycles is that in the high-energy cycles, the villains tend to be invaders on the victims' wholesome supposedly safe home-turf, whereas during the low-energy cycles, they tend to be dwellers of a creepy lair into which the victims are drawn.

Something about the intense cycles makes people aware that danger can strike at home, whereas the low-key cycles make people think danger is only out there somewhere -- and therefore, home base is still safe. I think during intense cycles, people resonate more with getting out of the house to do exciting things (whether they actually do so or not), so they don't feel the need to sanctify the home. During low-key cycles, people resonate more with just relaxing at home, and need to feel that place is sacrosanct.

Let's look at how this changing of the zeitgeist plays out in the domain of horror movies. The point here is not to exhaustively list every example of the dominant genres for a given interval. We're looking at the big picture. And since the focus here is on where the boundaries between cohesive stand-alone intervals lie, I'll be using lists instead of prose to get the point across simply.

I'm not including the 2020s because cultural production has more or less ground to a halt across all domains, as our collective cohesion has come unglued. Big cultural production requires high-scale cooperation, so it is over, with only small-scale niche trends taking its place.

* * *

2005 - 2019: Torture porn, possessed / invaded home, paranormal investigation / science, found footage, reboots / vintage / retro

Key series: Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity

Notes: The found footage trend grew out of the previous cycle's focus on urban legends being real -- there was documentary physical evidence, they were not merely a fictional narrative. In this cycle, found footage served to establish paranormal activity as an entirely mundane phenomenon (explainable, engineerable by human science), rather than a supernatural one.

1990 - 2004: Postmodern, self-aware / meta-, deconstructing, fiction invades reality, urban legends

Key movies: Candyman, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, In the Mouth of Madness, The Blair Witch Project, The Ring

Key series: Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend

Notes: Slashers and serial killers were still the main villain type, only now they had taken on a legendary status of their own, after saturating the market during the previous cycle. Basic Instinct took these trends into the adjacent genre of erotic thrillers.

1975 - 1989: Slashers / serial killers (human, animal, alien, cyborg, machine, supernatural)

Key movies: Alien, The Thing, Christine, The Terminator, Predator

Key series: Jaws, Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play

Notes: This genre reflected the reality of serial killers during the height of the rising-crime wave, and is distinct from mass-murderers. Unlike similar movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which take place within a single small location like a house, the slasher is a hunter who stalks prey across a wide range of territory, relentlessly. The Child's Play series segues into the self-aware / "fiction invades reality" zeitgeist of the 1990-2004 cycle, since an icon of pop culture and advertising is the conduit through which a serial killer stalks targets in the real world.

1960 - 1974: Cursed / haunted / killer-occupied house (often Gothic)

Key movies: Psycho, The Haunting, Rosemary's Baby, Night of the Living Dead, The Last House on the Left, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Key series: Edgar Allan Poe by Corman, Hammer horror

Notes: The main difference with slashers is these are set in a single location, which is the killer's own lair, whether the victims wander haplessly there or are abducted. The slasher killer stalks a range of territory, invading the victims' familiar home-turf.

1945 - 1959: Sci-fi crossovers, creature features (aliens, robots, mutant animals, beasts)

Key movies: The Thing from Another World, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Godzilla, Tarantula!

Notes: Creatures generally invade the wholesome home-turf of the victims, rather than unwitting victims wandering or being abducted off to the monster's lair. Few horror movies were made, of any genre, immediately post-WWII, so these are all from the '50s. Faustian bargain -- advances in science & tech alert monsters to our presence, which they home in on. Or sci/tech creates these monsters from harmless beings. Similar to the "dangers of culture" theme in the '90-'04 cycle, only there it was the arts (fictional narratives), not sci/tech, that spawned the monsters.

1930 - 1944: Monsters dwelling in a Gothic lair

Key series: Universal classic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Invisible Man, Mummy, Wolf Man)

Key movies: King Kong, Cat People

Notes: In contrast to the creature features of the '50s, the classic monster movies generally focus more on the lair of the monster, which unwitting victims are drawn into. The lair is typically Gothic, borrowing from the Expressionist trend of creating unsettling environments. Only now, it is a lair where much of the action takes place, instead of a hide-out while the monster is not terrorizing its victims out there on their home-turf.

1915 - 1929: Expressionist, Old World folk / fairytales

Key movies: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Golem: How He Came into the World, Nosferatu, Haxan, Phantom of the Opera

Notes: Most innovation in the early film industry was technical and visual, not narrative, so these drew heavily on existing traditions for their story. Generally the menace invades the comfy home-turf of the victims.

October 21, 2022

Today's bug of the day report

It was one of those autumn yardwork days today, the first big one after the oppressive heat & humidity of summer are safely in the past.

Little blister between my thumb and forefinger -- check. Scratches on my forearm -- check. Inhaling enough dirt to leave some on the tissue after blowing my nose -- check.

(Yeah, I wore leather gloves most of the time, and long sleeves, but it gets warm enough to have to take them off, and that's when they get ya. I'll never wear a mask outdoors ever again after the covid hysteria.)

Cleaning out the small toolshed after a season's worth of soil and leaves have blown under the door, I knew Gawr "the Nose" Gura would've absolutely died to be there, sniffer to the ground like an animal, from all the wonderful earthy aromas wafting on the crisp fall wind.

Is there "terroir" for toolshed aroma-scapes? "Mmmmm, this must be a Midwestern 2022, one of the few summers they didn't suffer from a tropical rainforest heat wave..."

Anyway, toward the end of several hours, I was squatting down picking up weeds. Does touching weeds count as touching grass? While pulling up handful after handful, I saw something just lying there on top of the dirt -- a bumblebee. Well, the exoskeleton of one, anyway, lying face-up.

He must've been a good bumblebee -- helping pollinate flowers, not terrorizing the nice creatures like wasps do. I wonder if he got killed in the line of duty, so to speak. But it might've been old age / natural causes, since he wasn't partly devoured or anything like that. It was just his time.

What else was I supposed to do but give him a proper burial? I was already next to a bunch of soil, might as well dig him a little final resting place. I tamped the dirt down on top of his admittedly shallow grave. Then for a grave marker, I found a stone about 3 inches long and set that into the dirt on top, along with six smaller stones about 1 inch long, three on each side of the big one. A proper insect memorial.

I said a little prayer for him in Jesus' name, and made sure the area around it was all cleared away of debris. Swept all the dirt off the bricks and stones, etc.

That way, when archaeologists discover the site in 10,000 years, they'll know he was a good bee, and well appreciated by the people who knew him (if only too late). We don't just throw bees in the yard waste dumpster, y'know? We're more noble savage than that.

RIP bumblebee, you lived a good life, and you won't be forgotten.

October 20, 2022

"Shark Loli" (Gawr Gura tribute, B-52's parody)

Apropos of nothing in particular, just thought of the sharky princess when hearing this carnivalesque club classic. I kept the tone of the original (lyrics here) -- campy, surreal, party hearty, and the kaleidoscope menagerie at the end. I'm adapting the shorter version.

The original is about getting sucked into a dangerous yet fascinating ocean environment while out at a beach dance party, and this adaptation is about the dangerous yet fascinating virtual environment that we can get sucked into while channel-surfing vtuber streams.

For those piecing their playlists together, the infectious danceability, ominous bass-line, the minor key, and surreal lyrics all make this one a must-play for Halloween.

Pronunciation guide: in place of the repeated "sca-do-ba-da", something more like "uwu-ba-ba" (not written below to save space).

* * *

We were in the art tags
His password fell through the screen
Someone clicked in and dragged it up --
It was a shark loli!

Shark loli
Shark loli

We were at the stream
Every avi had matching crowns
Someone pulled down the watermark
And then out tumbled a shark
It wasn't a shark --
It was a shark loli!

Shark loli
Shark loli
Shark loli
Shark loli

Trollin' in the scrollin'
She flipped the script
Lots of struggle
Lots of juggle
He couldn't believe the chants --
There was a ban on pants!
Shark shark
Shark loli

Down, down

Loli shark
Loli shark

Let's LOL!

Boys speakin' Simlish
Girls scorin' Tetris
Everybody's LOL-in'
Everybody's chummin'

Hypin' up our oshi
Giftin' subs
Holdin' the line
Holdin' dubs

Fire up your caps lock
Fire up your stunlock
Pass the ban-evader

Here comes the neko maid (nyaa, nyaa)
There goes the wolf maid (awooo)
In hops the bunny-girl (peko, peko)
There's not-a-chicken-girl (ki kiri kiii)
Chased by a rat-girl (burrruh)
Here comes nature mommy (uuuuuu)
Beware the pirate dommy (ahoooy)
There goes the civ owl (ohai, ohai)
Here comes the fallen angel! (yabaiii)

Shark loli
Shark loli
Shark loli
Shark loli

October 15, 2022

Minecraft collab streams to keep Halloween traditions alive when IRL is dead

This post is mainly for the Holo honeys (Minecraft maniac Fauna especially!), but anyone can read through to appreciate how streamers and vtubers are in a unique position to keep Halloween traditions alive, in a world where they are dead IRL. The streamers themselves can feel free to skip the next section if they only want the suggestions for how to re-create Halloween within Minecraft. I'm including the next section to make some larger observations about what's going on.

* * *

Partly, the streamers would be carrying on the entertainment tradition of "the Halloween-themed special," where such traditions are re-enacted by the cast. This is not possible with podcasts or other formats of commentary, since those do not involve characters performing a narrative. TV, movies, video games, and other narrative formats are all dead by now, so it falls upon the newer and thriving formats like streaming and vtubing to play those roles.

But they would also be simulating the traditions, within a virtual realm rather than IRL. Such as going trick-or-treating in Minecraft. And that is not possible within other narrative formats, which are not based on the concept of simulation or virtuality.

Vtubers have already figured out how to simulate several activities that are friendly to Halloween, such as the TV show / movie watchalong, which simulates watching a scary movie with your friends. They also play scary video games together online, which simulates two levels of reality -- hanging out with friends IRL to play a scary game (such as during a sleepover), but the game itself is a simulation of, say, exploring a haunted house and running from ghosts.

Below are some ideas on how to simulate experiences that are unique to Halloween, using the best escapist real-life simulator -- Minecraft.

The date would be near Halloween, ideally Halloween night itself. No one goes to Halloween parties anymore, as I've detailed for over a decade on this blog. Millennials, who were victims of helicopter parenting, cannot tolerate anything carnivalesque, i.e. inverting the ordinary order of things for a special festive occasion. So they could not stomach going out to party on October 31 -- because that could very well be a week night, and they ordinarily don't party on week nights. Duh, that's the whole appeal!

Sometime around 2010, as they were getting into their college and post-college years, they all felt the same queasiness about partying on a school night, yet still wanted to go out for a Halloween-adjacent party. What would keep them in their snug familiar cocooning routine? Partying on a Saturday. And ever since then, Halloween parties have been celebrated instead on The Saturday Before Halloween (while there's still some energy for it, not after it's already passed).

But that's IRL. Online, there are no week nights vs. weekend nights, since no special places are closed vs. open on those days. It's hilarious to see terminally online people still pretending to have a thriving IRL social life by not posting on Friday or Saturday night -- don't want your internet followers to think you're a NERD. Online, there is no such special segment of the week. Not because "every day feels like the weekend," but because "even the weekends still feel like the work week" with nothing special, high-energy, or festive to make them stand out. If anything, online weekends feel *slower* than week days.

Unless, of course, you're on a streaming site. Activities like "going out for karaoke" are far more likely on Friday or Saturday than other days, and are far more likely at night than the afternoon or morning. Even on week days, most streams are at their best during the evening, taking over the practice of primetime TV, as opposed to boring daytime TV.

So there is a typical night when a festive stream would take place -- Friday or Saturday, as usual for IRL, back when it still existed. This also makes it possible to subvert that norm temporarily, by doing something festive on a week night. Streamers already do that for Christmas and New Year's Eve, but even IRL those are still celebrated on their real dates. The challenge is to seize back Halloween as a carnivalesque holiday that typically falls on a week night.

* * *

Here's how the night's activities would be structured, in very loose terms -- to allow for the most spontaneous, unscripted action. In the section below, I'll spell out some specifics to guide you along the way, so you don't have to make up everything as you go along, and to provide some motivation, if you've never done these things before (or it's been awhile).

First, a preliminary gathering, to start building some excitement.

Going out trick-or-treating at other people's homes.

An optional prank to play on someone's home.

A campfire storytelling session (personal or fictional events).

Finally, the trip home, where you work out the rest of your energy, and tuck in for the night, in sleepover party fashion.

* * *

I'm imagining the standard SNOT line-up of Gura, Fauna, Mumei, and Kronii, although whoever else enjoys Minecraft social outings could join as well (Irys and Bae?). Not a huge number, though, it needs to feel intimate.

Start at Gura's haunted house -- this will get some more mileage out of the project, and it was already designed with Halloween spookiness in mind. Now the "abandoned" nature of the project only adds to the eerie-ness -- kind of like hanging out in a ruined building, only this one never got completed. "Some say a mysterious such-and-such came over the building team before they could get to work on the interior. If only they had known that this house was built on cursed land..." Get something positive out of a sidelined project! (And no, we don't really care if Gura ever finishes it inside, we're not autistic completionists ourselves.)

Begin by sharing memories of your own experiences with Halloween -- the IRL traditions like trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, baking cookies, decorating your house, going to school in costumes, etc. Maybe some gabbing about pop culture Halloween specials, too, but mainly the IRL part. The main point is to unlock and activate these memories, indulge in some nostalgia, and get hyped up for when you go out -- but you have to build up some excitement first, so you're as crazy and chaotic as you can be once you head out the door.

I was thinking of some kind of opening spooky activity like using a Ouija board, but that would be hard to simulate in Minecraft. The point there is everyone's hands are on the heart-piece as it moves, and no one feels totally in control of its movement. Maybe you could have a quick convo about whether you believe in Ouija boards, Tarot cards, and other things -- this will set off an interesting dynamic between the rational skeptics like Fauna and the "I want to believe" ones like... Gura? Bae? We don't know who stands where, so it will be interesting to see this unfold.

As for in-game costumes, you could stick with the pumpkin mask, just make sure everyone already has one. You'll have to do whatever tricks to undo the narrowed vision, though (3rd-person POV, or removing the menu bar at the bottom, IIRC). I don't know anything about Minecraft skins, but those would work as well -- a simple skeleton, for example. And not everyone would have to have their own unique costume -- the point is to dress differently, and spookier, than you normally would.

The trick-or-treating would take place away from home, like the JP or ID servers. This creates more of a field trip feeling -- and back in the '80s, when trick-or-treating was at its peak, we used to venture *all over* the place, often places we never normally got around to, instead of just a few streets right around our home.

No parental supervision! Not that your managers play Minecraft with you anyway, but this is important. We never went out with our parents in the good ol' days, that only began with the helicopter parents of Millennials. It's the kids' own special time, and there are plenty of grown-ups around anyway -- the hosts at each of the homes you visit.

The girls on the JP or ID side who participate would have to show up for, say, a one-hour window when this portion of the stream takes place. For the rest of the hour, they simply have a zatsu with their chat, or whatever else. But they have to stay in the home for the appointed time, so that when you show up, they're there to open the door, give you something, and appreciate you paying them a visit. You don't have to have a long convo with them, it's a fairly quick and informal scenario.

Some might throw you some berries or emeralds, while the ones playing a trick on you might throw some raw chicken or whatever.

Others can participate without being logged in for the appointed time -- they can leave a chest out in front of their home, with a sign next to it that says "Take one" or whatever creative message they want. ("Please take only one -- the spirits are watching you / or suffer the curse / etc.") The chest can have tricks or treats inside to choose from.

This may be the majority of homes you visit, if the time slot is hard to make. But that's fine -- it's still venturing outside your home base, visiting one home at a time, until you've wandered all over the place, picking up tricks and treats along the way, and making those social-emotional connections with the other people in your community, some of whom you rarely meet! We didn't just go to our best friends' homes while trick-or-treating, we might not have recognized their faces at all. Outside the routine!

Whether they're at home, or setting up a "take one" chest outside, they can decorate their home with jack-o'-lanterns, spider webs, etc. A few things, nothing huge if they don't want to. In fact, if a lot of the girls don't log in often, one or two people from their server could put up decorations in front of their homes for them, if they have some free time. So it's not just a few homes on the "street" that are decorated.

After that, optionally, you can play a prank on someone's home, akin to throwing eggs or "wrapping" their trees with toiletpaper. The rambunctious rule-bending side of Halloween. One idea I had is to wrap someone's entire home in a giant jack-o-lantern. Find a home that's small, and build a simple rectangular box around it.

The materials would be orange wool or whatever, and one wall would have some black wool or coal blocks to make the eyes and mouth. Triangle eyes, with the curly number 3-shaped smile, as a smug prankster signature. No green needed for a stem on top -- it wouldn't be visible from the ground level, so don't bother. Just a simple box. With 4 or 5 people there, it would get built pretty quickly, and would be a nice little bit of teamwork.

This would also simulate carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns together, at the same time.

Ideally, find someone's home who logs in somewhat often, so they could get surprised by your work, and have a chuckle. "Those ornery kids..."

Next event, finding a spooky spot outdoors to hang out and tell scary stories. I'm thinking the top of Fauna's lighthouse, since it's not right in the middle of a bunch of residences, it's Gothic with the vines growing up it, and the light at the top could stand in for a campfire. Plus, fear of heights getting activated, easy view of the night sky, etc.

On the trip over to it, you can chit-chat about your trick-or-treat haul, the exhilaration of pranking someone's home, etc. But once you reach the storytelling spot, you sit or stand around in a circle -- not wandering all over the place, but staying intimately close. Then you can go around the circle telling scary stories -- these could be from your own personal experiences, something that happened to someone you know, or a friend of a friend, urban legends, etc.

If one of you likes getting into storytelling mode, you could prepare a story to tell the others, in dramatic fashion, where you're narrating and they're listening, not a back-and-forth convo. But if you're not a storyteller, or don't want to practice it, don't worry about this. You wouldn't have to make up your own story, it could be reciting some popular urban legends (the hook on the car door, the kidney heist, etc.).

For maximum impact, this narration should take place after an initial round of informal storytelling among the group. "Well, if you thought *that* was frightening," the segue opens, "have I got a tale for you..." The others' curiosity is piqued, so they focus their attention on the narrator, who tells the story. After it's told, they discuss amongst themselves, then eventually go back to the informal round-robin of personal and conversational sharing of experiences.

When the chatting energy has dwindled down, a quick trip back to the home base (Fauna's home is nearby and has lots of beds), where you work out what remains of your energy, maybe pretend to savor some of your treats, go to bed in-game like a sleepover, and end the stream with a "Happy Halloween!" to the audience.

October 3, 2022

Grunge vocal harmonies: Alice in Chains as the final egalitarian all-American sound

To stay on the topic of grunge for a bit, let's return to the economic context of vocal harmonies in popular music, as detailed in previous posts and comments (here, here, and here). Namely, they are an aesthetic expression of an egalitarian economic zeitgeist, rather than a hyper-competitive zeitgeist. The reason is simple: if you want to stand out from the others in a group, that's easier when the climate favors me-first behavior, whereas one that favors collective well-being will corral a would-be lead into sharing status with the other members.

This economic climate, and its aesthetic expression, lasted from roughly 1920 to 1980, the so-called Great Compression, when inequality was steadily falling, and norms were collectivist (no matter if that was under Stalin, FDR, or Franco).

However, just because 1980 marked the start of the neoliberal, individualist Reagan era, doesn't mean the egalitarian ethic disappeared everywhere overnight, nor that vocal harmonies totally and instantly vanished either. The best-known example in pop is Wilson Phillips from the early '90s, well into the Reagan / Bush era.

But just a few years later, during the Clinton years, and even more of-the-'90s in their style, came one of the most popular grunge bands, Alice in Chains. Unlike other bands of their scene, and of modern rock as a whole, their songs made heavy use of harmonizing vocals between lead singer Layne Staley and the lead guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell (and perhaps one of them overdubbed, to make three voices).

The multiple voices and the intricacies of the harmonizing come through better with a mellow acoustic arrangement, without loud angry distorted electric guitars. Here is "Down in a Hole" from their MTV Unplugged performance of 1996 (originally released in '92):

As far as I'm aware, they were the last major group to rely so consistently on vocal harmonies, especially involving two different people -- that's the whole point of the egalitarian climate. Overdubbing your own voice, to make two or more of your own lines, is perfectly compatible with a me-first norm. Sharing the spotlight with another person is only possible when there's a stronger social pressure to do so.

There's also a geographic angle here, which is that grunge was not only from the West -- where American ethnogenesis has always been most intense, during its westward frontier expansion -- it was mostly not from California (aside from SoCal band Stone Temple Pilots). It was from the Pacific Northwest, which no one had heard much of before.

Most of the other harmonizing bands like the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, and their kids Wilson Phillips, were from California. Earlier girl groups were from the Midwest (Andrews Sisters, McGuire Sisters, and the Chordettes). Only the Everly Brothers (Tennessee) and Simon & Garfunkel (New York) were from back East.

So, the Next Big Thing in music hailing from the cultural center of the nation, out West, was hardly new -- but not this specific region of the West. Why not California, where the record studios are mostly located as well? By this point, neoliberal yuppie-ism was starting to thoroughly infect California -- and yuppies don't want to share credit and fame.

But there was still a pocket of the informal, egalitarian, "Hey man, we're all Americans here" spirit up in the Northwest. That was one of the few regions to vote against Bush in the landslide 1988 election -- not California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Vermont, all of which voted Republican (for the last time). Rather, Oregon and Washington, the Lutheran Triangle of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and West Virginia alone in Appalachia.

Jerry Cantrell thinks of himself as half Yankee and half Redneck. In fact, during that same Unplugged concert, he led a brief impromptu rendition of the Hee Haw staple "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me". Part of the broader trend of multiculturalism in the '90s, including across various white cultures -- in this case, the rural / country / hillbilly culture. No different from every sub-culture wearing bib overalls in the '90s. That's probably also the root of the grunge / post-grunge vowel growl -- including a nod to the Southern drawl, while still making it a new distinctive out-West sound.

Several decades later, the whole Pacific Northwest has been yuppie-fied, led by the tech sector. But back then, it was not like that at all. It had a few large booming cities like most other states, not towers of ill-gotten wealth and inequality, which only began in earnest with the Dot-Com Bubble, slightly after the heyday of grunge.

That whole scene was also one of the last times when working-class people could become cultural stars, whereas now it's mainly the children of investment bankers who dominate the entertainment industry. Back then, ordinary people with enough talent could create their own music -- they only needed the studios to record it, and promote / distribute it.

Now, with the whole process being more of a committee-managed machine, the performers are more a series of slots that individuals can be plugged into -- or unplugged from, when they lose favor with the machine. So someone's daughter doesn't need to have a whole band behind her -- she'll collaborate with other pro songwriters, lyricists, and sessions musicians. And when the machine is through with her, that's it, she's on her own and fades into obscurity.

Taking on the system, however, requires a huge amount of social cohesion -- the same small group of outsiders, the band, need to stick together and work out their problems in order to maintain the integrity and bargaining power of their collective unit, rather than be split up and fending for themselves as they fight for individual slots within the machine. No team spirit, no team behavior -- and they get crushed by the collective power of the culture cartel.

As economic norms have shifted even further into me-first yuppie-ism (however rebranded for Millennials and Zoomers -- "get that bag"), and as a cocooning rather than outgoing mood took over the social sphere during the '90s and after, bands disappeared. Everyone became a solo artist and free agent, plugged into and dependent upon the machine.

But back in the '90s, this disappearance was just beginning, so although it was noticeable, it was not total. There were still plenty of highly popular rock bands, and rap *groups*.

By now, though, if you want to be in a band, you won't be creating your own music, but playing covers. Participating in your own band is about more than finding the right number of individuals with musical talent -- they have to collaborate, get along socially, work out problems, etc., on an ongoing basis. That was already a tall order back in the good ol' days, when fights and creative differences were standard -- but typically got resolved, at least enough to make another album (and the loser of those fights didn't automatically take their ball and go home alone).

Today's young people have imprinted on a climate of hyper-competitive economic norms, and helicopter parent-induced cocooning away from their peers during their critical developmental years (which is why they're still socially anxious in their 20s).

It is time to start accepting that American ethnogenesis is complete, and very little new will be created going forward. However, that just means we're going to switch from expecting new stuff all the time, to performing the classics and standards of our culture. And that's not bad, it's just the next natural phase of the cycle. Nobody who goes to church these days is composing their own music -- they're performing what was created by other people, during an earlier era of ongoing ethnogenesis and cultural dynamism, hundreds of years ago.

On the bright side for today's young people, and all future generations, they have an infinite treasure trove to choose from, in order to showcase their talent for playing music in a group, and harmonizing their vocals -- from the Chordettes, to the Bee Gees, to Alice in Chains.

September 29, 2022

"Weird" aesthetics over the decades: From unifying youth rebellion against authority, to anti-social warring against peers, as imperial collapse sets in

Although I like the '90s the least among decades I'm familiar with, they were still formative for me, and they're currently undergoing a revival (along with y2k), so I might as well chime in on some of the key features of that decade, and how they're different or similar to today's.

This recent reflection was sparked by Mumei singing "Basket Case" during her recent karaoke stream, instead of the 2000s emo era Green Day songs that are more popular nowadays. (Unless Zoomers get back into the '90s for real, and not just in clothing styles?)

Green Day has had one of the saddest trajectories of any musical group, regarding their role in the overall zeitgeist -- from purely (counter-)cultural actors back in the apathetic '90s, to the stirrings of the red state / blue state culture wars of the W. Bush 2000s, to full blown politicized witch-hunting of the woke 2010s and 2020.

Punk proved itself to be the most authoritarian-loving genre, with not only Green Day but the Offspring, the Dead Milkmen, Rage Against (now, For) the Machine, and worst of all the Dead Kennedys outright fangirling on Twitter with the CIA's anti-Trump electoral pointman McMullin. The common theme was that the half-or-more of the country that doesn't support your political program -- bailing out Wall Street, waging war against Cold War boogeymen, and mandating worthless vaccines for a bad flu -- are literal Nazis who must be concentration-camped in order to preserve freedom.

The only punk to pass this test with flying colors is Avril Lavigne, who never once posted anything political during the crucible of 2020 and after -- BLM, Antifa, boo Trump, vaccines, masks, etc. The princess of much-derided "mall punk" aced the test of anti-authoritarianism, while the critical darlings all failed pathetically. Score another W for all things mall-related.

As punk and "alt" culture in general became more authoritarian, its symbols went fully mainstream, to the point where you can walk into any drugstore and pick up hair dye in rainbow colors, Millennials are obligated to have tattoos, and marijuana is sold openly in every strip center around the country.

* * *

But enough about the recent past, which is all still fairly fresh in everyone's minds. The point here is to contrast how different the non-polarized '90s were. Hardly anyone had weird hair colors, tattoos and piercings other than in the ears were hard to find, and there were "3 strikes and you're out" laws about drugs and related crimes.

Now, someone who wasn't there might think that the relative normie-ness of the '90s meant that the alt culture was ignored, shunned, or suppressed by the majority of young people. But in fact they were fully accepted, even elevated at times. Just because you were a preppie or jock didn't mean you didn't have alt friends, didn't listen to gangsta rap or grunge, and never smoked a joint. Youth culture had its diverse sub-cultures, but they were all aware of each other and more or less friendly toward each other -- in their common struggle against The Man, The Powers That Be, The System, etc.

And far from that anti-authority sentiment being a vague vibe, it was explicit. White suburban alterna kids used to openly shout, "What smells like bacon?!" when the police were nearby. Preps didn't want to get hassled by The Man for smoking pot, joyriding, or whatever other mischief they were getting into. And being anti-police goes back even further among African-Americans. All this came together in the scene from Airheads -- where a metal band hijacks a radio station in order to play their demo tape for exposure -- in which the metalheads begin chanting, ROD-NEY KING! ROD-NEY KING! in order to get the crowd to swarm the bumbling cops.

This anti-authority attitude was not limited to local police, while praising the feds as witch-hunters against political enemies, as has become the norm over the past 5 years. Black leaders openly began talking about the role of the FBI in the MLK assassination, and the CIA for introducing crack into the ghettos. It was also the heyday for what the Deep State would brand as "conspiracy theories" among white people, too -- blaming the CIA for the JFK assassination (famously in the blockbuster Oliver Stone movie), the X-Files, the origins of Alex Jones, and so on and so forth.

* * *

To outwardly express these shared interests against authority, they adopted core elements of each other's aesthetics and style. Alterna kids flirted with dreadlocks (Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes, Dexter Holland of the Offspring), wore baggy jeans (including from Afrocentric brands like Cross Colors), and even if they were anti-sports, still sought out Charlotte Hornets gear by Starter. The preppy girls wore Doc Martens shoes. All white people adopted some degree of black slang.

The gangsta rap kids had as many drawers of plaid flannel as the grunge kids, and were bigger consumers of Tommy Hilfiger and Polo than even the preps. The '90s were the heyday of both the wigger and the... bleppy? Blunge? They weren't "Oreos" -- those were black kids trying to act WASP-y and yuppie in general, not just adopt the plaid flannels or Polo logo shirts from white kids.

The two counter-cultural camps -- alternative and gansta rap -- shared the pot leaf as a symbol (on hats, shirts, scrawled onto their textbook covers, etc., even if they never smoked a joint in their lives). In fact, they bought their counter-cultural clothing from the same store in the mall -- Spencer's.

Although I've never done any drugs, that didn't stop me from buying and occasionally wearing a black hat with a white skull in front, which had a vivid green pot leaf on its forehead. You couldn't buy that stuff at Abercrombie, Marshall's, or Walmart -- you had to go to Spencer's. That was before white counter-culture split off from black counter-culture and re-camped in the Hot Topic store, during the 2000s.

But back in the '90s, multiculturalism was the rule -- not only across races, but within white sub-cultures, like alterna and preppy, or alterna and country. The lineup for Woodstock '99 was heavy on the alterna sub-cultures within whites, but it also had George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars, James Brown, DMX, and Ice Cube. Not to mention multiple bands in the popular black-white fusion genre of rap-metal. Along with Willie Nelson, Creed, Sheryl Crow, and the Dave Matthews Band for normie / conservative-coded white audiences.

The shared interests against authority, and their cultural expression, came together in the censorship of music -- mainly by putting the sales-killing "Parental Advisory" label on the album cover. That effort was spearheaded by the non-partisan PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) back in the '80s, but continued into the '90s. And whereas the leader of the crusade, Democrat Tipper Gore, had earlier been the wife of a Senator, she was now the Second Lady.

There were also local measures across the nation to suppress counter-cultural symbols in public schools -- the pot leaf, the Charles Manson t-shirt popularized by Guns N' Roses frontman Axel Rose, piercings other than in the ear, and wild hair colors. But I'll cover those in a separate post, looking back on my own experience as a purple-haired 8th-grader in '95.

For now, suffice it to say that the role of those symbols was to unify the youth culture against the grown-up authorities. They were unifiers because they were already shared across a broad range of youth sub-cultures, and because the authorities were targeting their expression no matter who was displaying them. So it really was youth rebellion vs. power-tripping authorities.

This anti-censorship attitude meant to unify all of youth culture against the overbearing authorities, while still being non-partisan and indeed remarking on the political apathy of young people, was best expressed in the grunge anthem "Pretend We're Dead" by L7 from '92. (In the woke era, you'd have to add "all-female band", but that wasn't a rare thing before wokeness killed off the spirit of cooperation, including among women themselves.)

I didn't hear it at the time, but the jangly tambourine adds a nice Sixties counter-cultural touch, without being hamfisted or "boo Nixon" about it. Probably absorbed through the non-political Paisley Underground scene of the '80s, in their native SoCal area, which bore fuller fruit with fellow '90s icons Mazzy Star.

* * *

After over 200 years of rising, our empire's social cohesion (asabiya) had already hit a state of plateau by the 1980s and '90s, although it had not yet started its shallow decline, as it did during the blue state / red state culture wars of the 2000s, let alone the complete and total meltdown by the woke nadir of 2014-'20.

In the cultural domain of society, this breakdown manifested in the creative crowd -- whether the actual creators, their funders, their distributors / platformers, or the diehard consumers, or the commentators -- severing bonds with everyone who was not 100% identical to themselves. Obviously that unglued the whites from all non-white groups, since the creative crowd is overwhelmingly white. But it's not a racial thing, and pointing to 2000s emo and Hot Topic as a "whites-only" space is retardedly missing the bigger picture -- the creative crowd was severing itself from all other white cultures, like the preppies and normies and country fans.

Indeed, this dissolving of social bonds is so intense that even the alternative sub-cultures keep fragmenting into smaller groups, even though 100% of them are on the Democrat / liberal side of the political divide. They can't help but corrode the cohesion that would otherwise hold them together into a semi-big tent.

And as the creative crowd have abandoned their fight against overbearing authority, and turned on their fellow citizens instead, the overt and Deep State at the highest levels have come out in favor of them, and they in favor of it. Neither the FBI nor the local school principal will suppress a woketard student from sporting green hair, a lip piercing, pot leaf on their hat, etc.

Both the woketards and the authorities have discovered a common interest -- suppressing the unruly rabble during a crisis of legitimacy for the central authorities and elites in general, especially after the 2008 depression from which we have never recovered. The woketards because they feel they're superior to normies, who must be humiliated for their heretical culture. And the Deep State as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy against a would-be organized populace.

The central theme of anarchy has been re-branded for this new alliance, exemplified by the Black Bloc of the early 2000s anti-globalization movement being re-worked into a woketard paramilitary of the Deep State, now branded as Antifa. Whereas before it meant anti-authoritarian, now it means dissolving all social-cultural bonds for the woketards (to purify the culture of heresy), and preventing higher-level organization among the rabble in the eyes of the central state's security apparatus. Chaos, confusion, every man for himself, pure and total social breakdown -- not the put-upon banding together against The Powers That Be. In the new configuration, organization and teamwork = fascism, hence if you're anti-fascist, you're committed to dissolving every social unit in society.

And yes, that includes their own political team's units -- not the bizarre notion from right-wingers that the Dems or libtards or the Deep State have a well-oiled machine dominating a fractured GOP / conservatard enemy. The Democrats could not even produce enough cohesion to nominate Biden and Harris legitimately in 2020 -- the party leaders shut down the primary when it was clear nobody wanted Biden and would stay mired in a Bernie vs. not-Bernie civil war through the convention, like their 2016 convention on steroids (when Bernie representatives were boo-ing their "fellow" Dems from the convention floor!).

Every institution in the American Empire is coming apart at the seams, even the libtard ones. Hollywood can't make new movies, TV series, or music anymore. The video game industry can't do anything more than what they did 10 years ago, as Minecraft and GTA V are the most popular "new" games. The premier streaming platform, Twitch, is currently melting down from within. The general public does not believe the media, nor "peer-reviewed research" from the universities. The finance sector is collapsing again, with double-digit inflation on top of the problems of 2008.

Sure, there's an oasis here or there in every institution, but the overall trend is one of anti-social greed rotting them out from the inside, until they ultimately collapse. This is the opposite world of the Mid-20th Century, when people trusted the news & "studies," when the military could still win a world war, the FBI could coup a sitting president from the shadows with no one the wiser, when cultural production was still flourishing, when our manufacturing was first in the world, and when we didn't have rolling finance collapses with double-digit inflation and 0% interest rates and infinite money-printing.

*That* was the world of well-oiled machines -- here and now, we are in unrestrained breakdown and chaos, on all sides at once.

* * *

Contrary to clueless right-wingers who say that the creative crowd were always this bad, or always had this goal in mind, or are only now taking the mask off, this is in fact a 180-degree corruption of who they were in the '90s. And they themselves are openly embarrassed and ashamed of who they were back then, confessing their sins, promising to atone and "do better", and in all other ways disowning their previous selves. That's the opposite of celebrating their '90s selves as the tip of the spear, Trojan Horse, initial seed, Patient Zero, cuckoo's egg, long march through the institutions, or whatever other dum-dum metaphors the right-wing cultural commentators use to describe it.

Nor can we lazily say that they're the same as who they were back then because "the '90s led to the 2010s" -- sure, and so did the '50s, and the 1770s. We've gone through various phases of having little cohesion, rising, plateau-ing, then declining, yet to reach a new minimum. As far as cultural cohesion goes, the '90s were in a qualitatively different phase of this multi-century cycle. It was the multicultural consolidation of all our empire's earlier conquests, as well as unifying the sub-cultures within the imperial natives. The End of History -- no further left to go, unless history turns out to be non-linear...

Anyone likening the multicultural Nineties to the woke 2010s is from outer space -- they're totally out-of-touch with America, at least, and might as well be foreigners.

Next up: my 8th-grade battle for purple hair -- waged not against my normie peers (or even my parents), but against the literal authorities of the school. And other episodes involving my friends wearing the Charles Manson shirt, etc. I'll also elaborate on some other themes that I didn't get to chance to here, like individual vs. collective identity.

Millennials and Zoomers won't believe it, but that's because only Gen X and Boomers remember the reality of the '90s. Millennials and Zoomers retroactively insert way too much of the their own formative years in the 2000s and 2010s, back into the '90s or '80s, when it was not only absent, but often the polar opposite of the environment they imprinted on.

September 16, 2022

The gen that wasn't cided: Gypsies of the Spanish Empire (Inquisition, Santa Hermandad)

As an epilogue to the series on the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire's Deep State (see here for previous entries), let's take a look at the dog that *didn't* bark. That will illuminate the role of the Deep State even more clearly than looking at who it *did* persecute.

To review, the Spanish Inquisition first focused on the foreign group that had conquered them and formed part of their empire within Iberia -- the Moors, whether they were Muslims or became Christian converts (Moriscos). They also focused on the foreign professionals and administrators who the Moors brought along with them, namely the Jews. The Jews were expelled in 1492, and the remaining Moriscos were ordered to leave in 1609.

However, the Inquisition also targeted local Iberian nobility within the regions that had historically been weakly integrated into the Spanish central state, primarily in the northeast. That was due to their antagonistic role against Castile, the eventual unifier of the nation and the empire, during the Civil Wars of the Reconquista (1350 to 1479). If they smelled foreign political influence coming in through foreign religious doctrines, such as the proto-Protestants like Erasmus or Enlightenment thinkers later on, they focused on them as well. They even hounded the sitting #1 leader of the Catholic Church in Spain (Archbishop of Toledo, Carranza), for decades until his death.

The Inquisition and the Santa Hermandad also shook down those with some degree of wealth, power, and influence -- not only to remind the middle and upper tiers of the societal pyramid that there was a powerful central state above them, but to get some actual material benefit from persecution.

However, it didn't occur to me immediately that there is a very glaring omission in this long list of targets of the Spanish imperial Deep State -- the Gypsies! After Spain became absorbed into the American Empire, by joining NATO and the EU in the 1980s, they have adapted by trying to re-interpret their distinct history and culture through the lens of their imperial overlords, which centers on colonizing indigenous peoples, slavery of foreign groups, Civil Rights, wokeness, and so on and so forth.

And although Spain did practice what the British and French empires did in the New World, there is nothing like slavery or racially coded oppression back in the Iberian peninsula. Most of the groups who were targeted collectively were white-skinned people from the northeast of Spain.

Before them, the Moors and Jews were targeted not on a genetic or even cultural basis, but based on a historical contingency -- i.e., having been the recent colonizers (and their administrator class) during Moorish rule. That's why the Moorish converts to Christianity were still eventually driven out -- although they made heavy efforts to culturally assimilate, they were still the recent colonizers of Spain, so they would always be suspicious as potential internal subverters in the eyes of the central security apparatus, no matter what culture they adopted.

Hundreds of years after the Jews and Moors were expelled, the only remaining genetic and cultural out-group within Iberia is the Gypsies. So that's where the focus goes in trying to interpret Spain in American terms, both by outsiders in the American Empire as well as aspiring woketards within Spain. They are a largely endogamous genetic out-group (hailing from Northwestern India), they had somewhat darker skin, they originally spoke a non-Romance language (although Indo-European), and they were nomadic rather than sedentary.

Although there is no widespread persecution of Gypsies by everyday Spaniards, they still don't accept them as being as fully Spanish as native Spaniards. They get harassed by the police due to their greater inclination toward petty crime, and some businesses try to ward them off from entering their buildings. But painting them as victims of would-be genociders is not only insane, it's a pathetic cry for attention -- and funding -- from the American Empire's woketard ruling class. "Hey guys, we can cry wolf over genocide, too! Why should only those other groups get to do it?!"

Even a milder charge like them being second-class citizens is incorrect. They are full citizens, with all the rights that citizenship brings, and they were on that path long before African slaves in America were headed toward emancipation and civil rights. Neither the state nor the general public is persecuting the Gypsies, and that has been true for centuries, not merely in imitation of the American Civil War and Civil Rights movement.

First, a whirlwind tour through the history of Gypsies in Spain, and then a look into what their lack of persecution tells us about the role of the Deep State. You can read a translation of the Spanish Wikipedia entry on them here. (English material in 2022 is heavily geared toward wokeness, the American Deep State's narratives, etc.)

A few thousand Gyspies first arrived in Iberia during the 1400s, right as the Castilian central state was finalizing its hold on political and cultural authority. They did not present as coming from a hostile religion, and they claimed to be Christians. And some of them even fought on the Christian side in the last battles against the Moors.

But as we saw with the Moriscos, just because you culturally assimilate doesn't mean the Deep State takes its eyes off you. What made the Inquisition and Santa Hermandad not worry about the Gypsies is that they had little wealth, so there was no point in shaking them down. And more importantly, they were not vying for political influence, where they might threaten the central state if they became new members of the regional rural nobility or the urban mercantile class. They simply wanted to be left alone to follow their nomadic way of life. That does not in itself lead to them forming a new power base, so the Deep State paid them no mind.

Local police might pay attention to them, if they wandered into settled cities and committed petty crimes like pickpocketing. But local petty crime is of no concern to the central security apparatus. Notice how absent the FBI and DOJ are in harassing local criminal hot-spots in American cities. Well, of course -- streetcorner drug dealers, pimps, 7-11 robbers, rapists, and opportunistic murderers are not contesting the authority of the central state. So while none of that is desirable for the Deep State, it's not a major threat either, so best to not waste resources on it. They will focus their resources instead on elites or aspiring elites who are vying for high-level influence in society.

Still, nomads pose a minor threat to the central state because they move so easily all around the territory of the realm, making them harder to surveil than sedentary people. So beginning in the 1500s, the government -- but not the Deep State -- enacted laws to sedentarize the Gypsies. As always with such a process, this found partial rather than total success. And it was not done on the basis of genetic differences, and did not impede their genetic continuation, so it was not a racial matter.

It was somewhat a cultural matter, in the sense that the nomadic subsistence mode had been central to their cultural identity, and that was now being replaced by a sedentary lifestyle. However, that would've been true for any group of nomads -- not only those who had come speaking non-Romance languages and following other non-Iberian customs.

The Spanish state was not trying to wipe out the Gypsy culture in toto, only those aspects of it that threatened the central state, like nomadism. They were welcome to keep following their distinctive taboos, kinship and marriage traditions, folk stories, music, clothing, crafts, food, and language. Most wound up learning Spanish in order to interact with their host population, and likewise started to assimilate more in other cultural areas (like dress), to willingly fit in better.

And so, the Gypsies were not targeted for elimination on either the genetic or cultural level. Indeed, unlike the Jews who were expelled in 1492, the Gypsies have remained very much present genetically and culturally right up through the present, numbering 3/4 of a million by now, and retaining much of their distinctive sub-culture. In fact, their contributions to Spanish culture have only been amplified and adopted as symbols of Spain in the meantime, particularly the Flamenco genre of music and dance.

The only episode in their entire history that approached persecution was the Gran Redada, or Great Round-up, of 1749. Notably, it was not planned or executed by the Deep State, which would normally handle such an operation against internal enemies. It was done through a faction within the military, led by a member of the Overt State, the Marquis of Ensenada. The idea was to round-up all the Gypsies, wait for an unspecified miracle to occur, and then they would be rid of the Gypsy population.

Woketards of the American Empire would love to interpret this as an attempted Holocaust, but it was nothing like it. A majority of the prisoners were set free after only a few months, most of the remainder were set free de facto by lower-level military members who didn't want the burden of looking after their charges, and a royal pardon freed the remaining few by 1765. There was no order or practice of murdering them in general (only if they fled and became fugitives, but that was not enforced de facto). They had -- and utilized -- the right of filing appeal lawsuits, and were defended by their fellow non-Gypsy neighbors and employers. Hardly a society hell-bent on annihilating them.

Mainly it was the bureaucratic nightmare that brought it to a halt. There was no standard definition of whom to target -- anyone with Gypsy ancestry? Only those following certain cultural customs? In implementation, it targeted the sedentary members living in cities, not the difficult-to-surveil nomads, and therefore rounded up the more integrated ones, not the potentially unruly nomadic ones. This discredited the plan, by punishing the very program of cultural assimilation -- and even genetic, if they had intermarried with non-Gypsies -- that the central state had itself been demanding for the past couple centuries.

Returning to the importance of the wealth of a group, the Gypsies were still poor, and so even after confiscating their property, the operation could not be financed without the state spending its own money. Poor people are not worth shaking down, unlike Jews who were largely professionals in the lead-up to the Holocaust. And Gypsies were still not politically organized or influential, unlike professional-class Jews in 20th C. Europe, who held leadership roles in political parties, wrote for and distributed political media, etc.

The desperate attempt by woketards to interpret the Great Round-up as a genetically oriented genocide is to say that, since they were separated by sex, that would've prevented genetic reproduction and ended their bloodline. Ha! Yes, just like the Catholic Church's private schools separating reproductive-age teenagers into boys' and girls' schools is a secret attempt to wipe out their own bloodline! Diabolical.

There are simpler ways to end the bloodline of your prisoners -- just kill them. You've already rounded them up, it's not exactly a silent secret program. Why wait decades for them to gradually fade out of the genepool, for want of reproduction with each other?

And actual genociders would not want the targets' genes remaining in the local genepool, even partially. So the Gypsies would have to be separated from everyone, lest interbreeding take place and pass on Gypsy genes into the future. For that matter, why not just castrate the men and set them free? -- no threat of their genes passing on. And take whatever means to sterilize their women. It's not rocket science, if the Spanish state had actually been on such a trajectory.

In reality, they were separated for reasons of labor, with the males over age 7 doing harder labor, and females of all ages plus males under 7 doing fine-motor textile labor.

In the wake of this political disaster, the central state did not double down or go about the plan in more furtive ways -- it actively began granting Gypsies greater political rights, starting in 1783 -- nearly a century before the formal integration of African slaves into the American nation. The Gypsies were granted citizenship, freedom to live wherever they wanted, take up any trade they wanted, and send their children to Spanish schools, to enculturate them and prepare them for integration. The laws penalized those Spaniards who tried to thwart the program or discriminate against Gypsies.

By now, they're covered by the same public programs for education, healthcare, etc., that all other Spaniards enjoy. Any attempt to portray their history as one of persecution, genocide, etc., is simply retarded. Not because the Spanish Empire had no history of such things -- but because the Gypsies flew under the radar, as poor or working-class people who had no political ambitions in the past, present, or future, and who would assimilate if required to.

They have no analogue whatsoever in the American Empire, nor in most other empires. The descendants of African slaves in America pursued political ambitions, which suddenly brought them under the watch of the Deep State, during the Civil Rights era (where the FBI probably played a role in assassinating Martin Luther King). Immigrant groups also join political organizations and aspire to higher status than menial labor, often along explicitly ethnic patronage lines, all the way back to the Ellis Islanders.

No group that was foreign to the founding population of the American Empire has remained at the bottom of the status pyramid, while never pursuing political organization and action, including any threat they may have posed in the past. Native American tribes were at war with the American founders, even though they remain poor and do not aspire to political power within the American state (only tribal / reservation governance). Those are the two distinctive aspects of the Gypsies which left them fairly unmolested by the Overt and the Deep State in Spain, from its imperial heyday up through its post-collapse present.

Contrary to the minor tendency of wannabe woketards to re-interpret Gypsy history as a copy-paste version of African slaves, illegal Central American immigrants, etc., the major tendency has been to celebrate the Gypsy contribution to Spanish culture. That applies not only within Spain itself, but in the broader American Empire that they were absorbed into, including the culture-makers of Japan, who we have occupied since WWII.

There is no greater example of this swirling fusion of influences than from the heyday of American imperial multiculturalism, during the end-of-history 1990s. That is, the culture of the Gerudos in the iconic video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, from 1998 (produced in Japan, by Nintendo).

The women are meant to evoke Muslim desert tribes, most likely the Moors of the Maghreb. What's their connection to Iberia? Their soundtrack theme is Flamenco -- which may not have come from the Moors, but rather the Gypsies, however it ties everything into an exotic Spanish focus.

Spain was all the rage during the Macarena '90s and y2k -- I began college wanting to major in comparative literature, planning to study the Al-Andalus era in Spain. Well, I didn't stick with comp lit (thank God), but I did perfect my Spanish, and picked up two years worth of Arabic (along with Italian and later Catalan, when I lived in Barcelona).

As much as I might like to think I arrived at my tastes through some transcendental spirit whispering into my mind, it was probably just growing up in the '90s and getting infected by the Spain bug like everyone else did in that environment. But I appreciate that influence. During this series on imperial Deep States, I've gone into far greater depth about Spain, because I've always been more passionate about them than Austria, Russia, China, or wherever else. That passion applies to the Moors and their empire as well.

In fact, I will take a break from the Deep State series to focus one last time on Spanish ethnogenesis, by returning to the series on the standardization of languages and dialects during imperial ethnogenesis. I'll look at the evolution of Castilian from late Medieval Romance languages in Iberia, caused by their unification of the peninsula against the Moors during the Reconquista, at the expense of other languages (Romance or otherwise) among the other Christian kingdoms.

Castilian is so distinctive among Iberian languages, that even a good share of *foreigners* who speak no Spanish, know what one of its defining sounds is. There's a related other quirk that they do not appreciate, but we'll cover that one too. As a preview, though, they both appear in the word for "intelligence," which sounds unlike all other Romance languages in these two ways.

September 12, 2022

Rise and fall of the Spanish Inquisition's political power (imperial Deep State)

Previous entries here, here, and here.

Now we'll conclude our look at the Spanish imperial Deep State with a survey of the initial rise, the stagnation / decline, and the collapse of its power over purely political affairs.

At the outset, Iberia was not yet fully liberated from the Moorish conquerors, as the Emirate of Granada remained in the deep south. So the main internal threats to the centralizing state, which was coalescing around the Catholic Monarchs, were the foreigners who had originally invaded, or who had come along with the invaders to help administer their empire. That was mainly the Muslims and Jews.

Under its first Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada, the Inquisition was instrumental in expelling the Jews in 1492. Muslims were treated less severely, since they were the still somewhat powerful invaders, whereas Jews were easier to drive out, as they were mere professionals and administrators of their Muslim rulers. At first Muslims were forced to convert to Christianity or leave Spain, during the early 1500s.

One century later, in 1609, even the converts (Moriscos) were ordered to leave as well. However, some of them returned, and in 1628 the local inquisitors in Seville were ordered not to hound them as before. This shows how the empire was nearing its peak / plateau stage in the middle of the 17th C., as it would have been inconceivable that Torquemada would have given them such a light touch over 100 years earlier.

Before getting to that stagnation phase, though, let's look at the power of the Inquisition in another way -- the period when the Grand Inquisitor was also the regent of the Castilian kingdom (i.e., the acting ruler). Cisneros was appointed to lead the Inquisition in 1507, and by 1516-'17 he was also the regent of the kingdom. This was not like when George H.W. Bush headed the CIA for a brief moment, and then became president over a decade later -- this was at the same time, and having headed the Deep State for nearly a decade.

And to drive home his role as the controller of internal enemies of the centralizing state, as regent he oversaw the conquest of Navarre by Castile. The Navarrese were not Jews or Muslims -- but they were weakly integrated into the state, belonging to the northeastern region formally controlled by the kingdom of Aragon. And they were still occasionally rebelling against Castilian dominance, so Castile subdued them by force, overseen by not only the political leader but the leader of the religiously based Deep State. If they belong to the same religion as the central state, then just slander them as not-good-enough members of the religion, as heretics, as blasphemers, as apostates, and so on and so forth.

After Cisneros died, Adrian of Utrecht -- a Dutchman -- took his place as Grand Inquisitor in 1518. Soon after, from 1520-'22, Adrian was also the regent of the empire, during which time he oversaw the continuation of the conquest of Navarre.

Even closer to home in Castile, he oversaw the suppression of the Revolt of the Comuneros, which did not involve Jews or Muslims, nor even the weakly integrated northeasterners. It was a local revolt against foreign rule: the new King was also a Dutchman and the Holy Roman Emperor (soon-to-be Charles I of Spain). On top of that, it was a succession crisis, as the rebels wanted Charles' mother, Queen Joanna, to rule on her own (she had been confined for madness, and de facto did not rule). Joanna had a much more direct and local bloodline to the founding of the empire, as she was the daughter of Isabella I.

But as empires expand and begin to administer international polities, they often absorb the elites of other realms, including at this point when the non-Iberian House of Habsburg was about to control the Spanish Empire during its Golden Age. Already a Dutchman was regent, as well as the Grand Inquisitor -- why not also let a Dutchman be their king?

In the Comunero Revolt, the enemies of the centralizing state were nationalists or nativists, who were against the increasingly international character of their growing empire. There are all sorts of enemies to the centralizing state of a growing empire -- literal foreign invaders, domestic separatists, nativists -- it gives the security apparatus plenty of work to do, and it means they have to rationalize their mission in increasingly twisted ways. It's no longer as simple as, "Christians safe, Muslims and Jews threatening". Whoever poses a risk to the central authority of the Catholic imperial leadership, is a heretic.

After leaving Spain, Adrian became Pope in 1522, the only Dutchman to fill that office. Regent of the preeminent empire in Europe, head honcho of its Deep State, and then leader of the Catholic Church, as well as the political leader of the Papal States in Italy -- all within a few years. This is what central legitimacy and authority looks like.

One of the last displays of the growing power of the Inquisition was in the 1560s and '70s, when the Grand Inquisitor, Valdes, launched a heresy trial against the sitting Archbishop of Toledo -- the #1 ranking leader of the Catholic Church in Spain -- Carranza. Surprise, surprise -- Carranza was from a noble Navarrese family, who grew up during the Spanish conquest of his land. Maybe the Grand Inquisitor thought that made him still a threat, if he were nursing a grudge. At the least, he was more sympathetic to foreign thinkers like Erasmus, which brought charges of supporting Lutheranism. Remember: ideas don't matter, they were afraid that he would allow in unwanted foreign political influence, not airy-fairy crap about the nature of Christian worship or whatever.

* * *

The Deep State of any empire is not an all-powerful entity, and its leaders are political appointees. It's not uncommon for the leadership of the Deep State to change when the political leadership changes. This was no less true for the Spanish Empire.

It's hard to imagine Torquemada or J. Edgar Hoover getting kicked to the curb by the political leaders, but they were heads of the Deep State at the powerful outset. FBI Director Comey was unceremoniously fired by Trump, and beginning in the early 1600s several Grand Inquisitors were forced out of the office when political leadership turned over or they lost favor (NiƱo de Guevara, Aliaga, and Sotomayor).

The first sign of the Inquisition's stagnating political power came in the 1660s, when Nithard was the Grand Inquisitor, as well as the de facto prime minister (the royal favorite of the Queen and Regent). His reign came just after Portugal won its independence from Spain in 1640, after having been conquered in 1580. That is a strong signal that the Spanish Empire is past its glory days. But then Nithard signed the Treaty of Lisbon (1668), whereby Spain got basically nothing from Portugal, in return for Spain giving up a major Iberian possession and officially recognizing the new Portuguese royal house. For such weak foreign policy, Nithard was kicked out in a bloodless military palace-coup.

The next inflection point in the decline of the empire was the War of Spanish Succession in the early 1700s. The last Habsburg monarch named his French Bourbon son as his successor, but an Austrian faction wanted Habsburg rule to continue in Spain. This war ultimately brought about the end of the Habsburg era, and the start of the Bourbon era. During the war, the Austrian faction was most popular in the weakly integrated northeast of Spain.

Even the Grand Inquisitor himself, Mendoza, favored the Austrian side -- however, he was accused of treason for that, fled to exile for 7 years, and was only allowed to serve as a bishop on his return. Not even an archbishop, let alone head of the Inquisition. But that's what the Deep State gets when it tries to interfere in a political succession crisis, on the illegitimate side at that, and well past the peak of imperial power. This marks an irrevocable loss of the legitimacy and authority of the Inquisition.

As a wonderful natural experiment, the regency board during the early stages of the war included both the G.I. Mendoza and the Archbishop of Toledo, Portocarrero. Both big religious figures, the former who sided with the Austrian faction, and the latter who not only supported the Bourbons but was instrumental in persuading the last Habsburg to name his Bourbon son as successor. Mendoza was only on the board for a few months, while Portocarrero was regent for several years until the Bourbon successor arrived in Spain. So while the Catholic Church may have maintained some degree of power over political affairs, the Deep State was losing it.

By the late 1700s, the Grand Inquisitor was reduced to adding Enlightenment thinkers onto its list of prohibited books, which was not successful anyway. That included G.I. Beltran's 1775 heresy trial against Olavide, an Enlightenment reformer (of Basque ancestry).

* * *

All empires collapse, and so do their Deep States along with them. Ours will be no different.

The Spanish Empire collapsed during the early 1800s, as Spain itself was occupied by Napoleonic France, all of its New World colonies fought and won wars of independence, and it ceded further New World territory to the American Empire (Florida). America picked up the leftovers later in the century (Spanish-American War, getting the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico).

The Inquisition was first abolished during France's occupation of the peninsula (1808 - 1814), and far from bouncing back strongly with the expulsion of the French and Napoleon's downfall, it oscillated between bouts of abolition and tepid re-establishment, being abolished for good in 1834.

The Grand Inquisitor when Napoleon invaded, Arce, gave pro-French sermons while his country was under foreign occupation. Not only did he not resume leadership of the Inquisition, which was more or less defunct anyway, he had to resign his offices within the Catholic Church as well (Archbishop of Zaragoza, and Patriarch of the West Indies). He was forced into exile for the rest of his life. So much for the all-powerful nature of the Deep State.

Wikipedia says the Inquisition condemned the guerrilla warfare by civilian Spaniards against the invading French army, which was the only reliable defense that Spain had against France, who easily defeated them in conventional battlefield warfare. There's no citation, and the Inquisition was formerly abolished at the time, so maybe this means the former leaders of the Inquisition (like Arce) still met and issued opinions to the public, including this one. If that's true, the reason is easy to surmise: guerrilla leaders were acting outside of the central state, and were therefore a threat to its authority and legitimacy, especially since they were so successful, while the central regular military was failing.

Getting on the wrong side of a war of national liberation in your own territory, just because the winners are not part of the central state? That's an easy way to shred what little remains of your credibility, legitimacy, and authority. It's not really treason, since the Inquisition did not side with France over Spain, they were opposed to those outside the central state playing the main role in defending the integrity of the state's territory. Nevertheless, it shows how useless the Deep State had become by that point, so there was no hope of its preservation as the empire only continued to disintegrate.

As during the War of Spanish Succession, there were several influential figures of the Catholic Church who were regents during the French invasion, but they were not also on the Inquisition. This included a lowly bishop Quevedo in 1810, and the Archbishop of Toledo, Luis Maria de Borbon, from 1813-'14. The latter went on to abolish the Inquisition in 1820.

* * *

Without going too much into the history of the lesser arm of the Spanish imperial Deep State -- the Santa Hermandad -- I'll simply note that it parallels that of the Inquisition. It was formed in 1476, as a result of the Civil Wars of the Reconquista (1350 - 1479), when the new leaders of the increasingly central state wanted a national police force that was under their control alone, not regional police forces that could be controlled by lesser royalty or regional nobles. It was used to harass political rivals, shake down wealthy people, and build their own power base.

It waned in power by the early 19th C., and crucially played no role in the liberation of Iberia from the Napoleonic invasion. As with the impotence of the Inquisition during this crisis, the absence of the Santa Hermandad shredded what was left of its credibility and authority. Technically, its purpose was internal policing, but when Napoleon occupies your country, you should re-focus your efforts to drive out the invaders.

Worse still, the forces that did drive out the French were guerrillas -- the very type of unit that a strong national police force would have persecuted and locked up, for practicing vigilantism. That is, for horning in on the business of the Hermandad. By 1844, they were replaced by the Guardia Civil -- a national gendarmerie, without the holy rationalization of the earlier imperial Deep State.

No more empire, no more obsession with controlling internal enemies of the central state, which only gets less and less centralized during imperial collapse.

Importantly, neither the Santa Hermandad nor the Inquisition was re-established during the Franco era in the 20th C. Although Franco had the support of the military, was a law-and-order leader, and was still based in Castile and facing rebels from the historically weakly integrated northeast, he was still ruling a full century after the collapse of the Spanish Empire. And so, none of its organs stood any chance at being reincarnated, as though being a right-wing leader gave someone magical powers.