February 23, 2023

"Stream Me" (parasocial slow jam, Silk parody)

Getting more into the '90s revival, I got caught on the slow jam "Freak Me" by Silk (lyrics here). I just had to adapt it!

So without further ado, a soulful serenade for all those streamer sisters out there...

Pronunciation guide: the chorus follows the original rhythm closely, and the verses have the same prosody -- four feet of da-DA (sometimes leaving out the first unstressed syllable).

* * *

Stream me, baby
Stream me, baby
Stream me, baby
Stream me, baby

Let me click you up and down
Till your PC pops
Let me fave all your content, baby
Like your one-man bot
Let me boost all the signals
You want me to boost
'Cause online, baby,
I wanna get streamy with you

Don't care if we catch a ban
Your card's so hot we hear the fan
My frame is gonna fill your screen
And we'll be making more than memes
Customize your site controls
And give your mouse the smoothest scroll
I wanna click you up and down
So baby please unmute your sound

Let me click you up and down
Till your PC pops
Let me fave all your content, baby
Like your one-man bot
Let me boost all the signals
You want me to boost
'Cause online, baby,
I wanna get streamy with you

We lead the board, the perfect team
Our bantz so hot you'll priv the stream
Girl, you such a naughty nerd
So shocked it's hard to type more words
Don't want your fine lil' frames to skip
So I'm-a come upgrade your chip
Let me access all your posts
'Cause your content's what I gotta host

Let me click you up and down
Till your PC pops
Let me fave all your content, baby
Like your one-man bot
Let me boost all the signals
You want me to boost
'Cause online, baby,
I wanna get streamy with you


  1. This is 100% off-topic, but now that all the draconian lockdowns are behind us, I'm in public more and so I'm able to hear a lot of the music that came out over the last few years that I hadn't heard before. I heard a Camilla Cabello song that's pretty good except for having Ed Sheeran in it, (called Bam Bam) and so I was listening to it at home. Then I realised that she actually puts effort into her music videos, and so I watched the one for Havana (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ0mxQXmLsk). It touches on a lot of the themes that you discuss, like her Spanish "grandmother" telling her to go out there and live her life, and the whole thing is very light hearted and charming. Just wanted to know what you think of the video, or of Camilla Cabello. Is she a MPDG type?

  2. Dang Goob, that was like a full month of content you fed us in under an hour. Mmmmm, content coma... my oshi really knows how to knock me out. ^_^

    You really went above and beyond what any of us was expecting. You really made us proud. :)

    I really love when you ground your stuff in the history of TV (or movies, video games, etc.), so that it seems familiar and comfortable, even while it's a totally new cultural format. Not because "Oh nyo, I'm afwaid of new fings," but it glorifies (for lack of a better word) what you're doing, placing it in a rich tradition.

    And yes, by this time a lot of those spoofed formats *do* feel like lost traditions. No ad these days is for a concrete product anymore -- they're all for libtard yuppie sErViCeS like insurance, consumer credit, hiring slaves, etc.

    Seriously! When was the last time you saw an ad for a music compilation? (I loved it when Mumei rekindled those feels too during her Valentine's Day karaoke, talking about the love song CD commercials.)

    "Hooked on UwU" -- gurl, you so crazy! xD That one was from the '80s. But you included much more recent stuff too, true to your Zoomer appreciation for culture of all eras. Hehe. I had to look it up, but that jingle and animated logo was from the Disney Channel, something you saw as a kid. It really felt like your karaokes, where every generation feels included, all warm and fuzzy, like we're a single unbroken chain of cultural evolution.

    I thought, "When was the last time you saw a theme song or jingle to announce the channel?" They call those "bumpers", BTW, and yes there are entire compilations of just bumpers on those retro commercials channels on YouTube. The most memorable from when I was a kid is from ABC Saturday morning cartoons -- the claymation one with a jazzy jingle going, "After these messages... we'll be riiight BACK."

    Another reason why we love the vtubers having opening and closing animations / theme songs. That's what this kind of format is supposed to have -- and yet TV got rid of theme songs decades ago, and commercials haven't had jingles during that time either.

    It's more than just the meme-y fun value that we and you get from the spoofs themselves. It's about unlocking all those "remember that?" awareness, and intensifying our collective memory, bonding us all together more strongly.

    It's not just a catalog or encyclopedia, for mere archival value. There really is that social-emotional value to your compiling a trove of collective memories like that.

    And that's why we all wuv you so much, you giddy lil' shark-girl, you...


  3. On a sidenote, when Irys has that little chat after her ending theme song but before the stream actually ends, and the screen is all black, I think she was going for that whole 2000s or whenever trend of the "post-credits sequence" with extra content.

    But since she's chatting directly with the audience, it feels like another deep unlocked memory -- when you're talking with a girrrrrrllll on the phone (a "voice call" as they say today), and you both agree to end the call, but then there's an awkward silence where neither one wants to actually hang up, then the girl starts talking again for a bit. She doesn't want to *go* and be left all alone! Awwwwww! Then when she gets that last little bit of bonding out of her system, she can let go of the convo for real (but is always looking forward to the next time).

    How do the vtubers have such good instincts? I dunno, but that's why they're as popular as they are. ^_^

  4. The 3D model really allows you to show what a natural you are as a physical performer. It's not just a gimmick like 3D movies from the 2010s. The way you bashfully bow your head when you didn't get something right, the way you scamper around while being chased, the way you assume a wide stance and punch your fists to your hips when you want to look defiant but also cute and playful, improv-ing with props -- there's a lot of physical comedy to your sense of humor, and it would be hard to convey that in just the 2D model.

    Just remembering that hand-cam you did where you're just slapping at the bag of Oreos to try to crumble them, and picking up the speed (but not the strength) of your slaps as you get brattily impatient about it not working, and potentially foiling your recipe. Oh my God. xD

    Few people have that instinctual corporeal touch to comedy, and gurl, you've got it.

    But it's not just in the humorous segments. Now we get to see you do a lot more dancing, too! Watch out, fellas, nobody shimmies like this sharky... Speaking of collective memory, bonding, etc., I don't know what song that was about loving hamburgers, but the '50s swing-y sound and '20s dance moves, was yet another example of "totally unexpected, but absolutely the right combination".

    And paired with futuristic-sounding anime songs that I don't even recognize. A single unbroken chain...

    And it's all without the sober, serious tone that usually accompanies a compilation of collective memories in high culture. It's more in the mode of the "fuckyeah" tumblrs, or what I imagine the cover songs on Glee were like -- hyperactive, spunky, bouncy, frenetic, and irreverent.

    More childlike than grown-up -- and yet, how does a cute lil' child have such an appreciation for, and an ability to unlock all these collective memories of our culture? It makes for a very topsy-turvy, head-spinning feeling, but that's all part of your childlike chanteuse charm.

    Such a curious creature, and you make it look so effortless, too.

  5. Just the right sprinkling of lewd, too. Nobody except coomers likes the content where everything is normalized, anything goes, etc. Then there's no tension between it not being allowed, yet doing it anyway -- will you get caught, what will happen if you do, etc.?

    When the overall framework of your format says not to be lewd, and if so, to focus on boobs rather than booties, that allows the holy trinity of butt girls -- you, Marine, and Kiara -- to flout those norms and act cheeky, so to speak. (Mumei could get in on that role, too, but she's still hiding her derriere power levels for now...)

    Like, if Kim Kardashian comes out and makes jokes about her butt on SNL, there's no tension. That and more is perfectly allowed, and way worse in stand-up. And it's not as though there's a rule about focusing on booba on the show, rather than booties.

    But the anime / weeb culture is very boob-centric. And at least on Hololive, you're not supposed to act too yabai -- as Pekora tried to enforce tonight. But that structure allows you and Marine to play the role of "defiant mischief-maker" and wiggle your butt right at the camera, while the straight-man (or woman) tries to impose a little brat correction on the spot, after being scandalized by your antics.

    If anything goes, then nobody can be scandalized. And then there goes the necessary nemesis of the mischief-maker! If you wanna be a little provocative, somebody has to be capable of feeling provoked, and that's not possible without some kind of boundaries. Without that code of conduct, there's nothing for you to flout, and nothing to make your foil feel provoked upon witnessing the boundary-crossing.

    Sounds basic and self-explanatory, but you never see these comedic or ribald dynamics anymore in our culture, because they're too intent on normalizing everything, laissez-faire, "don't kink-shame," etc. Yet another case of vtubers being the only sanctuary these days. And we're very grateful for giving us a place to stay. :)

  6. As for regular posting here, I'm knee-deep in figuring out the stage of ethnogenesis between stages 1 and 2 of imperial expansion, when there's a civil war -- an integrative civil war, or constructive civil war, where the winning side incorporates the losing side, and a whole new collective identity is forged.

    That only somewhat starts during stage 1, where the main forger of a new identity is the meta-ethnic nemesis, on the other side of the meta-ethnic frontier. Turns out, that's not strong enough to re-make the culture of the "Us" side. You don't see real cultural transformation until that has happened, plus there's a resolution of "which 'we' counts as 'we' for defining 'our' culture"?

    And that requires a civil war, so that the initial variation or diversity in the "Us" coalition can be homogenized and standardized -- a cultural kind of centralization, akin to the political and military centralization that is going on when the empire is being born.

    If that full spectrum of initial diversity remains -- just within the "Us" side of the meta-ethnic frontier -- then that's tantamount to never unifying politically and militarily for imperial expansion.

    I've written this up before, and remarked on it in the post below about the emergence of distinctly American music and dance -- after the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, not before.

    But I wandered down a huge rabbit hole of cases from further east than America or Western Europe, and am still somewhat down there. It started with Ottoman architecture, then all of their ethnogenesis (reminder that I'm also looking at radical transformation of their language or dialect as well). And then the Seljuk Turks in Iran just before that, for comparison.

    And then the Byzantines, then the Russians, then the Bulgarians, then a wild goose chase for the "Kievan Rus' " (turns out, no empire, no major ethnogenesis or cultural innovation around Kiev, indeed very little unification of elites across broad swaths for long periods of time, and what there was started in the northeastern Rus', in Novgorod, and later and intensely to the east in Muscovy).

  7. And a brief look at the Hittites as well -- I wanted to see if the same region has always been one of these "internal resistance" hotbeds when the rest of the broader area is trying to unify and start an empire. You can only test this by finding somewhere that has spawned multiple empires, and checking each time. Turns out, yes!

    Southeastern Anatolia, specifically -- the Luwians who didn't just line up with their "fellow Anatolian-branch speakers of Indo-Europeans" the Hittites, against the Hurrian / Urartian Mittani, lying on the other side of a meta-ethnic frontier.

    Then the Isaurians during the Byzantine empire (later responsible for their bout of iconoclasm, or cultural "self"-destruction during their empire's decline -- not so self-destructive if you were a reluctant late-comer and weren't really responsible for creating the wonderful stuff in the first place.) They didn't just throw in with their "fellow Hellenized eastern Meds" of Constantinople, just cuz they had both been occupied by the Roman empire and faced the Persian empire to the east, and soon the Arabian invasions as well.

    And finally, the Karaman group among the Seljuk Turks who entered Anatolia, being a resistant thorn in the side of their "fellow Turkomans" the Ottomans during the early stages of asabiya building and imperial growth. Just cuz they were both "not Byzantines" didn't matter -- one was right against that frontier, the Ottoman group in NW Anatolia, while the Karamans were safely nestled against the Taurus Mountains way far away in the SE.

    That's the reason why it's recurringly playing this role: it's a safe mountain retreat, so that people living there never have to be tested by a nemesis across an intense meta-ethnic frontier. Those frontiers are going to be where the space can be contested, like the east of Anatolia where it's just highlands, without a giant mountain chain to protect them, or in the NW where Europe and Asia cross right into each other, without even an ocean, let alone a huge mountain chain.

    There are several other examples of this kind of "internal resistance" region, like Southern China (including what's now Hong Kong and Taiwan), as opposed to the persistent meta-ethnic frontier in northern China, with the various nomadic pastoralists on the other side (no such Mongol-level nemesis in Southeast Asia or Pacific Islands). But I use Anatolia because its native empires are better known to myself and my audience, than the various Chinese empires.

  8. I have been studying China for awhile, though, that was one of the first cases I found of imperial growth and soaring asabiya causing radical change to the language (phonology / accent / dialect). Namely, the loss of tones in Mandarin vs. any Southern or even some intermediate Eastern dialects (like in Shanghai). Zillions of tones in Cantonese -- like 8 -- and other related and non-related languages of Southeast Asia. Hardly any in Mandarin -- maybe 4, and some of them are currently dying out -- even though it started out with just as many as Cantonese.

    Did you know the pagoda form of architecture is primarily from Northern China, too? And they exported it to Korea and Japan. Whereas the architecture of Southern China looks like... uh, and they exported their building styles to... uh, let me get back to you on that one.

    The naive, wrong view of what the meta-ethnic frontier will do is make the "Us" side double-down on their roots, as though they would become all the more aware of their distinctiveness when faced with such an alien Other. That would keep the culture the same, maybe even rigidify it.

    It does that somewhat, but when a powerful meta-ethnic frontier arises, it shatters the uniformity within the "Us" side, and introduces variation. Namely, there are suddenly two Us-es -- the Us right against the frontier, and the Us far from the frontier. Both of the Us-es may have started out similar to each other, but now that one of Us is against a border with people who are strange and want us dead, that one of Us is now conscious of belonging to that one Us within the larger group of two Us-es.

    So now they have to define themselves not only against the Other, but also the other Us that is safely far from the frontier, won't be tested, and could reap some of the gains we make without sacrificing like we are on the frontlines. Therefore, the least we will expect in compensation, this Us will get to transform into a new culture and impose that standard on the other Us, forcibly incorporating them into our growing sphere of control, if the other Us doesn't feel like joining this Us willingly.

    1. Different peoples fighting allied on the same side in a conflict seems to result in those people only becoming further apart in a lot of cases. For example the French and Indian wars didn’t tighten bonds and filial feelings between the American colonists and the British much. It seemed to so the opposite even. You had the same thing with the Australians after the Boer War, the Canadians, the Irish, even the Scots seem to have grown further apart politically the more world wars they fight for/with London.

      It might not even be solely peoples ON a frontier in global empires too, for instance the Irish sent many many soldiers
      to fight in the British army in places they likely barely knew existed, fighting Boney or the fuzzy wuzzies.

  9. Oh God, I haven't even talked about these "internal resisters" on the supposed "Us" side always choosing to ally with the nemesis or other foreign powers! It's like sibling rivalry or sibling jealousy -- the fragmented and untested Us doesn't want the unifying and frontline-tested Us to grow any bigger, stronger, wealthier, or culturally influential. So joining the two Us-es would actually be the worst thing possible -- better to ally with hostile Others, to check the growth of our sibling Us.

    They don't consider it treason because they don't conceive of belonging to a single shared polity as their sibling Us, or to an indivisible cultural family either. "Hey, so you're kinda similar to us, so what? Allying against you doesn't constitute treason, cuz you're not the exact same people who we are."

    But of course in the eyes of the unifying side of Us, they *are* dirty rotten traitors who need to be brought to heel, not only to consolidate the Us side of the frontier, but to punish or shame them out of doing such traitorous acts in the future.

    Ireland allying with the mightiest empire in all of Europe -- the Spanish -- in order to fend off their English neighbors and cousins from incorporating them? And you still lost and got annexed.

    The Samnites ("southern Italy") allying with the invading Gauls -- the very same Senon tribe that crossed into Italy, ravaging the north and Rome -- just to check the growth of their Roman neighbors and cousins? And you both still lost and got annexed.

    I already talked about the northeast of Spain during my series on Spanish ethnogenesis.

    It's really hard to study this topic and not come away with a disgust for the internal resisters, especially when they betray their neighbors and cousins. And they always remain backwaters, due to their failure to develop high cohesion in the first place, and then belonging to a collapsed empire afterwards anyway.

    Ireland (and somewhat Scotland and northern England), southern Italy, northeast Spain (where I lived for a year, and love people on an interpersonal level, but not so much the political and cultural separatism), western / southern France, Saxony, NW Russia, today's Northern Macedonia (splinter group of Bulgarians, far from the meta-ethnic frontier along the eastern coast of Bulgaria, mainly against the Byzantines and Constantinople especially), Cantonese speakers, southeastern Turkey, Quebec within Canada, and yes -- the Deep South in America (again, interpersonal relations may be fine, can't stand the refusal to adopt the cot-caught merger, anarchic refusale to settle on a single church like Mormons or United Methodists instead of a fractured Baptist "convention", political separatism, etc.).

    Throw the Northeast US in there as well (no offense to exceptional cases like the Goobinator). They're both East Coasters, whether the Yankees and Rebels hate each other's guts or not -- that's just a symptom of how fragmented back-East is (no such division on the West Coast or the Mountain West, or even the Plains). Really, the Civil War was a victory not for "the North" but the Old Northwest, now called the Great Lakes or Midwest. All those Republican presidents and generals, or both like Grant, came from Ohio -- not a fragmented and untested-by-Indians shithole like New York (which was a swing state and eventually Democrat, not a Republican stronghold). And Lincoln was from Illinois, not Massachusetts.

    Ohio and the Old Northwest was forged by the Indian frontier early and late, until just after the War of 1812.

  10. Fighting on the same side isn't the same as being subjected to the same pressures. The British, as distinct from American colonists of British background, weren't raided by Indian tribes. Americans were. So even if both fight against the French & Indians, we can't expect them to cohere afterwards.

    One war isn't long enough to force people together. It takes generations and sometimes centuries of frontier pressures to glue people together.

  11. Shark and phoenix had such great chemistry tonight, especially Kiara being left speechless by Gooba's mating dance during charades. She never knew such a petite childlike creature could cast such a powerful spell.

    That's their ship name! Ki-uoh-uoh. ^_^

    Really the whole group felt on the same page tonight, for the first time in awhile. Very heartwarming to see, as well as entertaining.

    The 3D model brings out just how girly and fingertips-touching-emoji Gura's whole body language is. It's adorable, something we normally don't get to see.

    It's the opposite of the bolt-upright military march posture. Every straight line is bent just a little bit from how it's "supposed" to be. Head bowed or tilted to the side, hips cocked to one side, knees bent at least somewhat, feet pointed toward each other, a foot rolled onto the outer side of the sole rather than standing flat, a foot resting only on the ball with the heel raised...

    All these bent joints make it seem like she's a fold-y form that's about to crumple to the ground at any moment, oh nyo I'm too fwail to stand up stwaight at all times, I need someone to hold onto for support.

    But it's not physical weakness or lethargy that's bending those straight lines. She's too hyperactive and quick-witted to be lethargic. It's just cuz she's shy and demure and even bashful IRL. Awwww. :) That only comes across in her 2D model when she turns up the blush. We can't see her aimlessly twirl her hair while looking down toward the ground with her head tilted to one side.

    Fingertips-touching-emoji, but confident and charismatic stage performer -- yet another one of Gura's many contradictions that keep us enthralled. Like she's her own alter ego -- she is SUCH a Gemini!

  12. I think you should have used Guy's "Groove Me" as interpolation material instead.

  13. Should have a new big-pic post up by tomorrow. Got sidetracked researching Bulgarian ethnogenesis, but wandered into a whole new perspective on imperial expansion changing language.

    I already covered how it changes it vis-a-vis the internal dynamics -- the pronunciation of those right on the meta-ethnic frontier become standardized, while the speech of those far from the frontier become non-standard. That's phonology, dealing with shibboleths, to distinguish the Most Us from the Only Sort-of Us, on Our side of the frontier.

    But then the external dynamics of Us vs. Them, and incorporating Them into Us -- perhaps lots of different Thems -- radically changes the morphology (and thereby, syntax) of all languages involved -- Ours and Theirs. It's about pidginization.

    Nobody's put it all together before! Although there's plenty of foundational work that I'm relying on. but "language contact" always means vague "hi fellow neighbor" stuff, or mercantile interests needing to communicate for utilitarian exchange. None of it, so far, as been about imperial-level ethnogenesis and incorporating zillions of non-native speakers into your own culture, at least language-wise.

    Anything about word-formation and word order that is opaque, must be made transparent, in order to make it easier for the L2 learners to get it as quickly and entirely as possible.

    There's even a fascinating wrinkle in the existing lit, because they're looking at it slightly the wrong way -- about complexity, rather than opacity. As long as the language feature is transparent, one-to-one between form and meaning, there's no need to de-complexify it.

    Which is why one major family of languages -- and its major member in particular -- has not seen the kind of morphological simplification that other languages have, that belonged to expanding empires...

  14. Also, if your empire is unifying groups that mostly speak your own language, there's no need to de-complexify its morphology and phonology.

    Turkic, and Turkish, is the former case -- agglutinative morphology is totally transparent (one-to-one between morpheme and meaning), unlike fusional case marking and verb conjugation (as in Indo-Euro or Saharo-Arabian families). Also, no gender, as a bonus.

    Russian is the latter -- mostly unifying fellow East Slavic speakers, who already know how the noun declensions and verb conjugations work.

    Bulgarian, on the other hand, had to entirely wipe out its case system because its empire was interacting with non-Slavic speakers (like Greeks, Albanians, other Turkic people), and Southern Slavs of the Western rather than Eastern branch (Serbs).

    That's the so-called "Balkan" Sprachbund -- it's really the Bulgarian Sprachbund, but non-Bulgarians apparently have a deep seething resentment of the only empire native to the Balkans, so they downplay everything related to Bulgarian greatness.

    (No, I have no Slavic or Eastern Euro blood or upbringing, just noting another one of these fake-and-gay academic things -- like calling it the "Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth" instead of the Lithuanian Empire, or at least as its own constituent nations called it, "The Two-People's Republic". Fake-and-gay people want to downplay Lithuania's role in that polity, and hype up the nation that put screen doors on their submarines.)

  15. It would be interesting to see a blog post dedicated to Israeli ethnogenesis, especially with their meta frontier against the Palestinians (and the Arabs more generally).

  16. Regarding Israel, I think that they are currently in stage 1 of their imperial stage, and they are soon reaching the civil war which would transition from stage 1 to stage 2. There's a spate of articles from Isreali news organizations recently warning of an impending civil war in Israel.

    This one article in particular quotes an Israeli professor Gad Barzilai comparing the situation in Israel now with the situation in America prior to the 1860s when the American Civil War occurred.

    "The American Civil War did not happen over slavery only," said Barzilai.

    "Between 1830-1860, there were attempts to negotiate between the south and the north… For years, both sides failed to reach a constitutional understanding which eventually led to the war. This is where I see Israel now, in that kind of a crisis."


  17. The Levant, including Israel, has never produced an empire during its thousands of years as a center of civilization, so it never will. Equally, Palestinians will never form their own empire due to Zionist colonization of their land.

    But ethnogenesis doesn't have to involve the super-duper levels of asabiya or cohesion that leads to imperial expansion. I just focus on imperial-level ethnogenesis because it's a lot more intense, produces intense results, and is easier to study -- plus it's more fascinating and less hum-drum.

    And non-empires also go through "secular cycles" (Turchin & Nefedov) of integration and disintegration, part of which includes civil war. Japan has never been an empire, but they have had long periods of greater stability and centralization, then long periods of disintegration and civil war. Israel is the same.

    Israel's cycle seems closely tied with those of other Western nations -- their last political realignment was circa 1980, to usher in the neoliberal era. Namely the 1977 election that reversed the roles of Labor and Likud -- before it was Labor as the dominant party, then it was Likud as the dominant party.

    Neoliberalism in Israel coincided with another major geopolitical realignment -- away from the Arab-Israeli Wars, where Israel antagonized every Arab nation, large and small. It could not defeat Egypt and was driven out of the Sinai Peninsula. Ever since that realignment, Israel and Egypt have been at peace.

    Saudi Arabia responded to the Yom Kippur War by leading OPEC to embargo oil from the nations that supported the Israeli side of the war, causing oil prices to skyrocket 300%. But then Saudi Arabia underwent a neoliberal realignment in 1982, when the kings came from the clan called the Sudairi Seven. They have pursued rapprochement with Israel and the US (other than bombing us on 9/11). They would never sacrifice their oil wealth just to punish the aggressors against their "Arab brethren" ("Arab" identity and collective cohesion no longer exists).

    Saudi Arabia was the leading Arab nation because they were one of the few Saharo-Arabian speaking groups to not get annexed by the Ottoman Empire, and the Saudis led the effort in the Middle East to destroy the Ottoman occupation. Up through the 1970s, when the Saudi rulers sacrificed their own oil wealth to punish Israel and its supporters, they were a role model for other "Arab" nations. But that's all over now.

    Egypt has produced a zillion empires, and they are the major military power near Israel (the other being Turkey, and more distantly, Iran).

  18. So, as of ~1980, Israel has seen the vanishing of both of its major meta-ethnic frontiers -- the main one with Egypt, and the other with Saudi Arabia. Now all they are left with is their frontier with the Palestinians, but they are not, and never have been historically, a powerful expanding force that would force Israelis to cooperate and sacrifice for the greater collective good.

    Also the impetus for Zionism in the first place was their out-of-place status (in a Romantic Nationlist view) in various European empires in the late 19th century -- but all of them collapsed during WWI. British, French, German, Austrian, Ottoman -- all gone. Only the Russian Empire lived on for the rest of the 1900s, collapsing in the 1990s.

    So there was no longer a frontier between Jews (of any nationality) and the people living in the successor states to those Euro empires.

    By now, Israelis have no powerful meta-ethnic Other to force them into cooperation. They are adrift in their identity, not intensifying it. And if they undergo a civil war, that could be the beginning of their end -- not the initial hurdle to jump over, during their imperial expansion.

    Israel is an outpost of the American empire by this point. As the American empire collapses, so will Israel, and most Jews there will go back to their roots in the "West" (meaning, not the Levant or Middle East, but Western or Eastern Europe).

  19. The lack of imperial-level cohesion among Israelis is also evidenced by their adoption / revival of Hebrew, instead of Yiddish.

    When empires begin to peak, and then collapse, there is fragmentation in both a political sense and a cultural sense.

    During the break-up of the British Empire, one region of historical Britain seceded -- Ireland. They not only left politically, but culturally, reviving the nearly dead Celtic / Gaelic language, instead of English. And there was a broader Celtic revival in their culture, right up through today.

    Ireland was furthest from the meta-ethnic frontier that defined the English -- the southeast of England, opposed to the Vikings, Normans, and especially the French. Ireland is to the north and west.

    Although it never caught on, because it's too close to the heart of British identity, there is a subtle Germanic revival in the Southeast of England, like JRR Tolkien recreating Old Norse and Old English myths. That is, before British or English identity was formed, during and in the wake of the wars against the French (esp. the Hundred Years War). Tolkien wanted to return to a pre-imperial England, before the Great Vowel Shift that linguistically defined British ethnogenesis, before the Age of Exploration -- just a quaint yet fascinating realm of Germanic-ness, left to itself, and not trying to impose on other cultures either.

    It's like a de-imperial desire, since the empire's benefits are crashing, why pay the costs? Let's pretend we never belonged to an empire, never went through imperial-level ethnogenesis, and RETVRN to the culture (and polity) that we had before this whole empire phase of our history.

    Same thing in Northeast Spain -- revival and promotion of Catalan (and other related languages) rather than Castilian, ditto for Basque, after the Spanish Empire collapsed in the early 1800s.

    When Jews settled Europe, they adopted a Germanic language, Yiddish (Hebrew had already been dead for centuries by that point). It lasted long enough to grow into various dialects (which Modern Hebrew has not), and some were more standard than others (Eastern more standard than Western, and Northeastern more prestigious than Southeastern).

    Then, as the Euro empires are peaking and collapsing, a sub-group of Jews decide to do like the Irish and Catalonians were, in that same time -- abandon the language of the empire they had "grown up in" over the past centuries, and revive an older one of their own. Namely, Hebrew, or what became Modern Hebrew.

    And to secede politically from those Euro empires and have a polity of their own -- first settling in Ottoman Palestine, then winning independence as Israel.

  20. But this secesion from empire shows that they didn't have what it took to found or even continue an empire. They wanted to undo empire, RETVRN to the way things used to be before migrating into one or another European empire (mainly the Lithuanian Empire, in their case, which included Poland and Ukraine).

    The problem with them was that they did not occupy the land they wanted to RETVRN to -- the Irish were already in Ireland, and the Catalonians were already in Catalonia. The Jews of Europe couldn't deconstruct their European identity, back toward a Hebraic state, without migrating back to Israel.

    I think that utopian program was doomed from the start, because by taking part in it, you have to be from a group, or a sub-group, with low cohesion, mistrust of others, wanting to be left alone. It's a fragmenting and anarchic mindset, not a cohering and centralizing mindset. It's like the Irish, not the Southern English -- only one of those regions founded other nations, and it wasn't Ireland. Nor did Catalonia found other nations -- Castile did.

    So, if any sub-group of European Jews was going to found a nation, it would be those who kept speaking Yiddish. Those who wanted to erase that identity, and RETVRN to Hebrew, were an anarchic splinter group, like the seceding Irish, or the Catalan and Basque separatists.

    The Hasidic and Haredi Jews today are way more likely to speak Yiddish than Hebrew, and their birth-rates are a lot higher than Israeli Jews who are not Hasidic or Haredi. They're also more likely to consider the state of Israel to be against God's wishes, since the Messiah has not yet returned. And they still dress like they belong to a 19th-C. Euro empire.

    They are not, and have never been, expanded against by a meta-ethnic Other -- they were allowed to flourish in the Lithuanian Empire. Maybe they don't like Russia, for the same reason that Christians of the Lithuanian Empire don't like Russia -- the Russian Empire swallowed up a lot of their former territory. But by that point, asabiya in the Lithuanian Empire had already peaked, so they couldn't start another empire, as the old one was still dying and being eaten up.

    Obviously the Jews were not part of the original Lithuanian expansion, which was in response to steppe nomads invading from the east, and Ashkenazi Jews were still safely protected in German-speaking lands at that time (the early 2nd millennium). But they assimilated into the Lithuanian Empire, did well, and faced no external enemies.

    Still, if there's any sub-group of Jews who will be at the top of Jewish ethnogenesis -- or preserving what ethnogenesis has already taken place -- it's the Hasidic and Haredi ones. The other ones either assimilated into the American Empire, or seceded from European political / cultural membership altogether and moved to Israel, where they became adrift and weakly defined, due to the lack of a long-term threat expanding against them. (Egypt and Saudi Arabia were threats for only 30 years, and they have been peaceful allies for longer than that ever since.)

    1. There is talk about a Jewish pivot to China/Asia which seems of dubious success to me, also worry over how reform jews in the west have become too secular and intermarried. The “rootless jew” trope is true to a degree but it seems like rootlessness in the US generally, moving from state to state within the same country only Jews move from county to county within the same general empire or cultures they can reasonably blend into and which provides an advantageous home. I don’t see that working as well in China or Korea. I doubt even in India though ethnically that’s closer.

  21. Jews won't bother with China either b/c they're a collapsed empire -- as of the 1910s, exactly when the other Early Modern empires crashed. Their last empire, under the Qing Dynasty, began in the early 1600s, basically the same as various Euro empires like Prussia or Austria.

    They are in the declining / collapsing stage of the imperial lifespan, or a hangover, or a refractory period -- they can't get an imperial high or pop an imperial boner even if they wanted to and the circumstances otherwise favored it. No different from the successor states to the Euro empires.

    As long as you're stuck with states that are suffering from imperial hangovers, why would you move to one that's as culturally and politically alien to your group as possible?

    The Jews will stay in the broad West (including perhaps Eastern Europe), not Asia, and not even Israel within 100 years or so. Flight from Israel could happen way sooner than that, if their civil war really gets bad. Might as well go back to New York or Vienna.

  22. Imagine "the most Jewish person on Earth" -- your mental picture is not any kind of Israeli. It's a Hasidic / Haredi Jew in New York City. Their location and the look of the place, their clothing, their hair and beards, their language / dialect / vocabulary, their intense focus on their Jewishness, and obsession with whether others are Jewish or not.

    Just like imagining the most American person possible -- it's a Western cowboy, or a California surfer dude, or maybe a potbelly guy on a rider-mower in a Plains state. Less so, a Great Lakes suburanite. But definitely not anyone from back East, whether Northern or Southern -- that's the most non-standard region of America, culturally.

    This little exercise tells us who defines the culture of their broader ethnic group, and who therefore has been on the meta-ethnic frontier the longest and in the most intense way. And therefore, who has the potential to found another nation or even empire, in the future.

    If it's anyone within global Jewry, it'll be Hasidics and Haredis -- it won't happen at an imperial level, as already described. But in terms of who will be the highest representatives of Jewish ethnogenesis, it'll be them, not Israelis.

  23. Anna Khachiyan always talks about how annoying it is, because Hasidic Jews keep approaching her on the street asking of she's Jewish, as a way to rope her into their collective and increase their numbers and potential for action.

    Nobody gets stopped on the street in New York by Israeli tourists asking if they're a fellow Jew or not. Israeli tourists to New York don't try to hard-sell you on doing the Birthright trip to Israel, becoming an Israeli citizen, living long-term in Israel, learning to speak / listen / read / write Modern Hebrew, to rediscover their Jewish religious practices, and so on and so forth.

    Israeli tourists don't even try to whip up animosity toward Palestinians, Egyptians, Saudis, or other groups of Arabs / Muslims from their part of the world, when visiting New York and being surrounded by Jews.

    Not that they're ashamed of their Israeli identity. But they just don't feel it, and act on it, in an intense way. They will just casually mention it, just like a Dutch person does -- another group with weak ethnogenesis and no empires (in its own land -- they did have a sea-based mercantile empire on the other side of the world, which did not affect the intensity of cooperation, cohesion, etc., back in the Netherlands).

    A Hasidic Jew doesn't just casually mention that they're Jewish, as though it were NBD. It's central to their group identity, and keeping their group cohesive so they can act collectively -- like controlling real estate in New York City.

    And to the extent they have an Other that they are opposed to, it's "the goyim" -- specifically from a Euro background, or maybe Eastern Euro specifically. It's not Arabs or Muslims, as it is -- or *used to be* -- for the Israelis.

  24. And Ashkenazi Jews are a "model minority" or mercantile middleman minority, who never found empires. Similar to Parsis in India, Cantonese speakers in Southeast Asia (and somewhat in America), Brahmins in America, etc.

    They are given a spot near the top by the ethnic group that actually controls an empire or nation. Jews didn't take over the Lithuanian Empire -- they were invited in to be tax farmers and the like.

    They preserved their distinct cultural identity because it was correlated with class or status -- you don't want to assimilate linguistically, sartorially, or otherwise, because then you might be mistaken for a low-class peasant of the dominant ethnic group. Only if you could ape the appearances of the ruling class -- but your ruling-class sponsors would never allow that. So you just stick with your own identity in the middleman niche.

    So their ethnogenesis is too driven by class differences, and not between entire ethnic groups opposed to each other. It was never "the Jews vs. the goyim" -- their imperial sponsors were just as Christian and Gentile as the peasants the Jews looked down on for having "goyische kopf". It was really "the Jews vs. the Gentile peasantry".

    Brahmins in America look down on Americans from the bottom 80% income stratum, but they are not opposed to the ruling class in America that is not Brahmin or South Asian. They're happy to intermarry with them, listen to their music, eat their food, etc.

    A real, intense ethnic group requires several class strata -- if it's only professionals and managers, it's a middleman minority type that is only propped up by another ethnic group's ruling class.

    Why? Because ethnic intensity is about sacrificing for the group, and who has the most to prove their sacrifice than the elites? That's how we can tell an ethnic group is strong, cohesive, and capable of expansion -- their elites aren't squabbling with each other all the time, aren't fragmented into regional warlord fiefdoms, etc.

    Whether by one group of elites conquering another, or persuading them, the elites of various regions on one side of the meta-ethnic frontier come together -- like the Southern Italians getting absorbed by the Romans, as both were on the anti-Celtic side of the frontier with the Gauls (absorbed by conquest in that case).

    There is no centralization of politics and culture without that leveling of regional elites' desires. They're all supporting a single ruling group in the imperial capital, which may be quite distant from their own homeland.

    This process cannot happen when the ethnic group is primarily upper-class -- or primarily lower-class, like Gypsies (another ethnic group that was artificially defined and maintained by the ruling class of their adoptive nations).

    1. "And Ashkenazi Jews are a "model minority" or mercantile middleman minority, who never found empires. Similar to... Cantonese speakers in Southeast Asia (and somewhat in America)"

      And in China itself. The financial center in China is in Shanghai, which is in southern China historically dominated by the Cantonese speakers, similar to how the Ashkenazi Jews dominate finance in New York City in the United States. The political center in China is farther up north around Beijing, where Mandarin speakers dominate, and is true whether China was ruled by native Chinese (Ming dynasty, Communists) or by foreigners (Mongols, Manchus). It is not a coincidence that up north is also where the ethnogenetic frontier is located in China, where the Chinese are always fighting against various external barbarians who invade from time to time, and where the Chinese built an famous wall to keep the invaders out.

  25. Ethnogenetic frontiers have to be spatial or geographic, in order to really do their job -- not along the vertical class / status dimension within a region.

    Only when elites and commoners are both sacrificing for the greater good is there a feeling of "We're all in the same boat". When it's just a group of elites unto themselves, it only feels like an elite cabal, not a united ethnic group.

    That was one of the things the Israelis had going for them, for ethnogenesis -- they had commoners and elites within Israel, unlike everyone being a wealthy tax farmer in the glory days of the Lithuanian Empire.

    Israeli elites had to unite against the Arab nations, had to serve in the military, had to allow themselves to be taxed in order to fund their military ambitions, and to fund the construction of new buildings etc.

    But as those meta-ethnic frontiers against the Arabs / Muslims vanished within 30 years, the elites had no reason to sacrifice for a greater collective good. And by now, the Ashkenazim have become a class-based middleman minority EVEN WITHIN ISRAEL, as the Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews languish like quasi-Gypsies in the lower / working classes.

    And now there's the civil war part of the secular cycle, where even within the Ashkenazi elites, there's polarization between the left and right.

    Israel will totally unravel within 100 years, maybe even 50.

    Iran has not caused the Israelis to cohere either -- it's all baseless fear-mongering from Israelis and neocon Jews in America. Egypt was a real military threat who they did battle with. Saudi Arabia was an economic threat that blew up oil prices in Israel, and financed Arab militaries who did battle with Israel. Those are worthy fuckin' adversaries, dude.

    Iran has never threatened any part of the Levant since the Achaemenid Empire in the first millennium BC. They did blow up oil prices in the late '70s, but not by as much as Saudi Arabia did. And in any case, it was Saudi support for military action against Israel that really threatened it, not higher oil prices alone.

  26. And to reiterate, Israel is a mere outpost of the American Empire at this point -- really, since the whole realignment circa 1980. America sided with Egypt, against Israel, during the Suez Crisis of 1956. By the time the stalemate was reached between Egypt and Israel in the '70s, America said, "OK, that's enough, we want peace in the region so we can control it -- if you don't knock it off, we'll beat both of you up".

    Ever since then, Israel has not had its own independent military policy, political structure, or even culture. Their government, especially the military, has to operate with American guidelines, which has meant the vanishing of the meta-ethnic frontier with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    And their culture largely imitates Western, and specifically American, culture, just in the Modern Hebrew language. Very similar to South Korea, occupied militarily by America for nearly a century, as part of the American Empire's desire to keep peace in the region, so the American can easily control it all. Not by forcing South Korea to make peace with North Korea, but with their real historical rival of the past several centuries -- Japan, another nation the American Empire has occupied politically, militarily, and culturally for nearly a century.

    As the American Empire continues its disintegration, there will be nothing strong to prop up its outposts, whether in Japan, South Korea, Israel, NATO, or elsewhere.

    Getting billions of dollars per year from America is another way in which Israeli ethnogenesis has been prevented -- their elites don't have to sacrifice by agreeing to high taxes in order to fund their military. They just get it for free from their American imperial sponsors.

    Ukraine is another example of this pattern, and we see how weakly it works there too. They've gotten annexed already, and they will get annexed more as time goes on. They have never had imperial-level ethnogenesis like Russia has -- and even though Russia is a collapsing empire, it still has more than Kiev. Not to mention that Ukrainian elites get their money and military equipment and intel from their American imperial sponsors -- no sacrifice by the Uke elites themselves.

    It makes them even more weak and decadent than if they were riven by tribal warlordism. At least something can eventually come of that, as elites sacrifice in order to conquer other elites and rope them into a national group -- like the Taliban managed to unite Afghan elites to expel first the Russian and then the American empires.

  27. The Hasidic and Haredi Jews are also rapidly growing in population in Israel as well.

  28. There is an article published in Unherd which speculates that the rising tide of ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews in Israel is going to lead to the secular Jews in Israel to unite as a political force opposing the ultra-Orthodox and lead to a realignment of Israeli politics along a religious-secular axis.


  29. Taken away by Gura to her magical Minecraft fantasy land (and the whirling, tangenting inside of her shark-brain) on 3 occasions in less than a week.

    Feels like old times. ^_^

    We will always love you, and could never feel like no longer hanging out with our virtual Manic Pixie Dream Girl.


  30. Someone superchatted Gura asking for "loli succubus RP" near Halloween, but she's really the polar opposite of a succubus -- mostly angelic, visits people who are if anything down on their luck (rather than at the top of their game), supplies them with energy, motivation, and spirit (rather than draining them of their life-force), perhaps at the expense of her own energy / vitality levels (rather than transferring the guy's energy to herself), she's internally forever youthful (rather than requiring others' energy to keep herself young), and focused on others (rather than her own vanity).

    She does visit us at night, tempt us to follow her into a wonderland outside of ordinary experience, and seduce us into more mischief than we otherwise would be getting into. However, it's not malevolent and parasitic like a succubus, it's benevolent and altruistic, like a guardian angel.

    She's like a girl version of Peter Pan. Maybe not surprising for someone who lived at / near Disney World as an alleged grown-up, huhaha.

    Our window will never be closed to you, Goober Gan, no matter how old we get. :)

  31. Goob, if you haven't seen any King Kong movies, the 1976 remake is the best. It's classic Seventies Hollywood. Given how much you liked Jaws during the watchalong, I think you'd enjoy this one as well.

    It's not in the horror or fantasy genre, and is more naturalistic (like Jaws).

    I wrote up a review (with some spoilers) after watching it for the first time in decades, here:


    You would have an easy time self-inserting as the Jessica Lange character, hehe.

    Hearing you talk about playing Rampage touched my ojisan heart, btw. Not just the one included on the 2000s Midway arcade compilation (which I also had), but the original in the arcades, and the less exciting but still fun port to the Nintendo (AKA "the NES").

    I have even more distinct memories of the arcade game. My mother was taking evening classes, and couldn't find a babysitter sometimes -- so she just took my 8 year-old self along to the Ohio State campus, dropped me off in the Union, and I went nuts on that arcade game for an hour or however long it was.

    Elementary school kids left alone in a college student union to play video games, while their parent was in class? Before helicopter parenting, you bet your buns!

    Millennials and Zoomers got babysitted by the TV set, Gen X-ers got babysitted by video game arcades. Ah, the '80s... :)

  32. Gawrcade!!! Gura could get perms for one of those arcade compilations for the Switch. Looks like the two best are Namco Museum (2017) and Capcom Arcade Stadium (2021), although Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium (2022) has a really good selection too.

    Sadly, no Rampage, nor any other Midway game. Warner Bros bought the rights to their games, so maybe they're being gay and killing them off, as part of the ongoing Dark Ages / cultural suicide / iconoclasm by bitter losers who never created anything great. Last compilation was Midway Arcade Origins in 2012 for PS3, 360, and XBone. Before that, Midway Arcade Treasures from 2004 (PS2 etc.). Don't know if you can get perms to old compilations, but that might do the trick.

    - This would kill so many birds with one stone!

    - Warm the hearts of ojisans with "take your daughter to the arcade day" wholesomeness.

    - Introduce young 'uns to the classics.

    - Play a wide variety of games in a normal amount of stream time -- and only have to get one perm, instead of a bunch of perms separately, since it's a compilation.

    - React content -- it's like those "kids react to the Game Boy" YouTube vids from the 2010s. "Shark child reacts to arcade games".

    - Maybe share some stories from playing arcade games during the Myth collab, during the Japan trip, at Chuck E. Cheese's as a kid, or whenever.

    - Potential PNG back-drop or border, where Gura's avi is next to an arcade cabinet, or there's a row of them in the background or something. Cool theme.

    Really it's no different than Vampire Survivors or Holocure, which are just like old arcade games.

    Even if you don't end up getting perms, you would like Splatterhouse by Namco, if you like horror movies and games. It's hard, but right up your alley. ^_^

  33. Actually, you might not have played a classic horror game, so Splatterhouse would be a good intro to the approach to horror where you actually get to fight back! And where there are few or no cerebral puzzles, and not a hide-and-seek / "pwetty pwincess chased by big fat hairy ojisan" simulator.

    Splatterhouse is a beat 'em up / hack-and-slash type. Doom II (far superior to the first one), the best FPS ever. Or Devil's Crush, a demonic / occult themed pinball simulator.

    Something that deserves, or in fact has, a badass metal soundtrack.

    Speaking of Capcom USA being gay with their perms for the RE4 remake, I'd be way more interested in seeing vtubers play the original RE1 for PS1. RE2 original is decent, too, but 1 has a better Gothic setting. *Not* the remakes for Gamecube. Or Alone in the Dark: New Nightmare from 2001 (even more Gothic in its setting).

    I was never into survival horror, but they are fun to watch, and way more cinematic in their aesthetics with the fixed camera angle, making it less of an immersive simulator. (The remakes and reboots did away with that, and aren't as cool-looking.)

    I watched some streams by Gab Smolders of those classics, and it was good stuff. I didn't care as much for Silent Hill, though, cuz the camera moves along with the player (badly), so it's not fixed in place from one scene to the next.

    These do have the now-obligatory pUzZleS for horror games, but at least they give you weapons and let you fight back.

  34. All the streamers have been mentioning playgrounds, amusement parks, arcade games, etc., like we're on the same wavelength -- I've been expanding my research on ethnogenesis into the domain of entertainment, recreation, spectator sports, and the like.

    I'd better right that up next, since there seems to be some kind of synchronicity about the topic going on at the moment.

    I'm aiming for an overall post with lots of specific cases from various empires over history, and then another just on America, because we've taken it to a whole 'nother level.

    Take a biiig fat guess where and when our distinctly American amusement / public spectacle culture was born...

    If you said Chicago in the 1890s, like your reflex should be by now -- congratulations! Specifically the 1893 World's Fair, birthplace of the "midway" that evolved into the carnival.

    And tying that back into Rampage, Midway the video game creator was from Chicago! (Named after the famous midway at the 1893 World's Fair.) That's where arcade games were made in America. In fact, *anything* that's a coin-operated amusement machine comes from Chicago, including pinball, and those claw machines.

    Also no surprise that the historic Twin Galaxies arcade is in nearby Iowa.

    Yeah yeah, the back-East region has some earlier forms of amusement, but these were mainly imported from existing models back in Europe. The usual pattern for back East, carrying over European culture, rather than inventing a new American culture.

  35. I'm desperately trying to not branch out even further into the ethnogenetic angle on shopping / marketplaces, let alone clothing / hairstyles / body decoration, even though that's central to defining an ethnic group. Too busy and backlogged right now.

    At most, I'll go into shopping / retail / marketplaces, which were central to the ethnogenesis of several imperial peoples (like the grand bazaar of various Iranian empires, the Ottomans, and the Americans with department stores / shopping centers / malls).

    But in the American case, it's extra-central because the commercial / mercantile / retail sector of society has replaced the religious sector as the provider of public spaces, built structures and hosted activities where our collective effervescence takes place -- and largely for free to the public, with only a nominal contribution from most attendants (a dollar bill in the church collection plate, or a couple bucks at the mall food court). Most is paid by a small number of big spenders or benefactors, as well as subsidized by taxes.

    In this way, the retail-pocalypse of the past decade or so, and the mass desertion of retail public spaces -- no matter the rationalization ("Meh, I'd rather order online") -- is akin to the mass atheism of the late 18th and 19th centuries in the Euro empires, as they were reaching stagnation and then tumbling off a cliff by the early 20th C.

    Lambasting "consumerism", in practice, amounts to lambasting "religiosity" or "zealotry" or whatever. It's the defectors from public spaces trying to tarnish the reputation of those who do want to go to the public spaces and bond with their community and feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves, in the way that is actually the norm for their time-and-place, provided by the actual providers of their time-and-place.

    The reason we'd all kill to be able to hang out at malls again is not because we want to "buy stuff" -- we hardly bought anything during a trip to the mall -- but because those are our public spaces, provided by our benefactors in the retail sector.

    And it's not "business" or "merchants" in general who we look up to -- it's specifically retail, not any other form of business, commerce, etc. We don't have a blind, broadbrush following of companies that sell weapons, agricultural inputs, raw materials for manufacturing, financial instruments, cyber-security services, etc. Only retail.

    And that's why we are extra-reverential of service workers in retail, unlike service workers in other sectors. They are like the volunteers or poorly paid figures at a church who keep the place running -- the other end of the class spectrum as the benefactors who finance the whole operation, but who are no less necessary. No retail workers, no public spaces, no collective effervescence. Not in the American Empire, anyway.

  36. At this point I'd kill just to have back the Starbucks of ~2010. I was a regular at the local one, every day, for hours at a time, from 2009 through 2013, and less frequently from then to 2014. Still have my original gold member's card from 2009 (the black one).

    Coffee houses are dead by now, though, just like the big book stores before them, and the malls before them, and the shopping centers before them, and the department stores before them.

    As everyone left the coffee houses, we tried to regroup in the supermarkets, but that never fully caught on -- you can't plausibly hang out there, people-watching, having a convo, reading a book, even scrolling your phone, etc., for 30 min or longer. You can't linger or lounge or loiter. Get in, browse around for a bit, then get out.

    BTW, that's another sign of our reverence of retail workers and buildings -- we elevated supermarket workers to "essential workers" alongside the hospital workers. And we felt it as a deep sting when hysterical libtards shut down the retail spaces during the Covid panic. Most Americans didn't protest when churches got shut down, since they're not central to public life for most of us. But retail definitely is, and has been for a long time now. That's who we are as Americans. Retail was the focus of protests to open back up.

    The last remnant of a public retail space is the thrift store, although even that type of store is not as bustling as it was several years ago. I like thrifting anyway, but I'll always make it a regular stop, since it's the end of the line for public spaces in the American Empire, where retail is our benefactor. There's nothing new after it, and most people don't even go there anyway -- they're still relying on the supermarket for their collective effervescence and communal bonding, but that just isn't good enough.

    The absolute worst form of atheism, though, is the combined "shop online" and "order food delivery online". That's two layers of refusing to go to church.

    In an atheistic society, no one coerces the defectors into going to church anyway. They've collectively given up, stopped caring, swallowed up and drowned by The Nothing.

    It's no different in our increasingly anti-retail society. No one forces the defectors into leaving their home and joining public retail spaces anyway. It's all going to rot into ruins.

    And no, as much as I love some forms of online sub-cultures, they are not a virtual / online replacement of public spaces. They need to be numerous, local, and face-to-face. Instead, online tends inexorably toward a few platforms, global, and anonymous / de-personalized. They're a retreat from public spaces, not a bold new variation on the old theme.

  37. Blockbuster better open some physical stores again, if their suddenly reactivated website and its message about "we're rewinding your movie" are going to mean anything. Not that they're going to convert a handful of expensive yuppie theaters and re-brand them ironically or sincerely with Blockbuster. All Americans need public spaces.

    At the least, they could partner with the local public libraries, which have de facto replaced Blockbuster et al. as the current-day video rental store. Not as in privatizing the library, just putting up Blockbuster branding to hit the nostalgia button. I dunno.

    Browsing for movies at the library is OK, but it's nowhere near as bustling as the video rental store was in the '80s and '90s. Not as exciting of a public space.

    I was still going to Blockbuster in 2013 and maybe '14. Hadn't gone since the '90s or y2k, but passed by one, was getting into older movies, and had already checked out what the university library had to offer -- so why not get a Blockbuster card again? Checked out quite a few from that place, too, not to mention hanging out and browsing. Even bumped into a former housemate there! She was a Millennial, so perhaps feeling some '90s childhood nostalgia...

    You really can't bump into your neighbors, acquaintances, friends, or family anywhere except for retail spaces. In some other empire, it might have been a church. But not in ours. Killing off retail is not replacing it with some alternative public space, whether a LARP-y one that never took root here (like a religious space) or a futuristic one (like online platforms). It's just killing it off, and depriving us of anything at all.

  38. One time I actually got to play the role of big spender to keep a video rental store in business. It was a Hollywood Video that, in addition to renting stuff out, also had some things for sale -- including the Nintendo DS.

    This was probably 2008, I was getting into retro video games, and wanted the compilations of old arcade games (bringing it back yet again to Rampage, Midway Arcade Treasures, etc.). These were available for the handhelds (DS and PSP), not just the more expensive consoles, which I didn't want to bother with.

    Plus there were a decent number of Symphony of the Night-style Castlevania games, and it placed GBA games as well (it was a DS Lite, not the DSI) -- why not?

    So I bit the bullet and plunked down however-many dollars a brand new DS Lite cost in 2008, pretty sure it was over $100 (now checking... $130). Cherry red color. When else have I ever spent that much money in a video rental store? Hehe.

    I could've gotten it at a Walmart, GameStop, etc., but this Hollywood Video was an anchor of the shopping center I hung out at most, and was nearby. Same center as the Starbucks I was a regular at.

    Sadly, that didn't stop the store from closing, which it did fairly early in the ongoing retail-pocalypse -- in the early 2010s, IIRC (now checking... whole chain went defunct in 2010).

    That DS Lite remains the most recent purchase of a video game console I've made. :)

  39. I mean, most recently released. I bought a few old consoles around that time, but all released way earlier. I had a PS2 and GameCube (no Xbox), mainly for the compilations of retro games. Boy, those were the days...

    And I picked up quite a few of those compilations used at GameStop, not to mention the Game Boy Player which let you play Game Boy / Color / Advance on a good ol' CRT, with a real controller. Disc, case, booklet, everything, for probably $5 in their junk bin.

    Now well into the hundreds of dollars, due to gamer nerds being gay, pathetic, and having tons of QE-printed money to throw at eBay (used video game stuff doubled in price during the 2010s, and I think doubled again after the QE-fest of 2020). For some ill-gotten wealthy, it was old cars -- for others, it was old video games.

    I was going to say "at least lower shipping costs" for the gamer nerds, but I bet there's a version of Bring a Trailer that's for arcade cabinets and pinball games. One worthless consultant has a fleet of '70s cars, another has a fleet of '80s arcade cabs.

    All of those things used to be broadly distributed among the public -- lots of people having one or a few, not a few people having a bunch of them, and they were in view for the public or able to be interacted with by the public in public spaces, not sequestered in some nerd's collector dungeon bunker.

    It's privatizing the public goods of yesteryear made by people who were actually productive, not having today's fake jobs funded by infinite money-printing.

    If they can't privatize a public building, they'll just straight-up demolish it.

    Best case scenario is these things get donated to a museum, serving as a new public space. Like the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas -- a non-profit, hence not dependent on ROI to keep them afloat. No way an arcade, no matter how impressive, could make real money today. So just give them tax-exempt status or whatever, let them pay for their power through donations, and their machines are donated or paid for by benefactors as well.

    Nothing from a formerly public space should be housed in a private space.

  40. The apparent flux of retail genres doesn't mean it's inherently unstable, weak, etc. True, if we became dead-set on browsing and hanging out at a video game space specifically, it would be over for us once the arcades and GameStops died out.

    But we don't really care what is for sale, since we're not going to buy anything. (People who have never been part of American public life may not know that.) We're there to be around others and feel the larger sense of belonging.

    That's why we seamlessly went from malls to book stores to coffee houses to the aborted attempt at supermarkets, and the last-resort of thrift stores. Very little in common, other than being retail.

    So zooming out just a bit, nothing changed at all -- we were going to retail stores (treated as fungible from one sub-type to another) for our public spaces, the whole time, with no change or disruption or shifts or rifts whatsoever.

    The confusion comes from zooming in to far to the particulars. Like if "church" is the central organizing public space (and anything owned & operated by the church). That stays constant for so long. But if you zoom in, is it really still the same space if it's in someone's home? Or outdoors? Or a small building vs. large building? When they added polyphony to the singing? When they added stained glass? Vaulted ceilings? And so on.

    And that's also why retail-pocalypse is such a destructive, crumbling-empire phenomenon -- it's not just one sub-sector getting wiped out, as though we could move on to another. The whole sucker is getting wiped out, as though every building type of every religious sect were getting razed to the ground.

    As our benefactors regarding public spaces are getting wiped out, well, there go our public spaces.

    If the central bank is going to keep all or most of its fake QE dollars in circulation, it should at least require them to be funding the benefactors of public spaces in America, i.e. retail, and reallocate them from the recipients who have done far less for the public interest, like the info-tech companies and banks.

    *With an exception for keeping the Manic Pixie Dream Girl vtubers funded, of course. ^_^ Their activity is most definitely a public good, provided at no cost to the audience.

    1. I work part time at a local thrift store and it is an interesting experience. Not only the mix of customers and items but the social aspect like you said - ours is a local non profit store and people come in just to chat and gossip and catch up. There are regulars who I’ve never actually seen buy a single thing but will spend 10-15 minute talking to employees or other customers every day or two.

      Your posts also made me think they perhaps the reduction in physical stores and malls is slowly weakening the power of branding. It’s easier to create a retail brand than ever before - throw together some graphic design and product mix, promote and advertise it online, Chinese factories slap on your label and Amazon sells and fulfills it. But the result is that those brands have less connection than ever to the hearts and minds of the consumer. It’s all just the same stuff with similar quality and different branding from “companies” and “brands” that might not even exist next month. All bought online with no memories or emotions.

  41. I really don't think people who grew up in the 2000s or later realize how much of our lives we lived in public spaces before then, especially young people and children, who must be present in order for it to feel like the full community. And old people too, who were always regulars at the mall back in the '80s.

    School is a public space, though not retail. Still, during the summer, or on the weekend, retail made up for it -- after a bowl of cereal and Saturday morning cartoons, hang out at the mall, get lunch at the food court, go to a bowling alley or standalone arcade or Barnes & Noble or just loiter around a shopping center on the way back home, go out with the family for dinner at McDonald's or Pizza Hut (when it was a mood-lit sit-down restaurant), then a visit to Blockbuster to browse for some movies to watch later.

    All of those public spaces are gone now, and public life along with it. Now it's only the workplace and home, two very private spaces (unless you work in retail). And being online, but that's even more private.

    If we're going to have zombie companies propped up by central bank money-printing, it should at least prop up the ones who were benefactors to the public (everyone I named above, conditional on them performing the functions they used to back then). It's so crazy how many fake trillions of dollars go into an online retailing shithole like Amazon.

    Where's the kids' playground at Amazon? Where's the benches for old folks to people-watch, feed ducks, etc., at Amazon? When have you ever hung out with friends at Amazon? Caught a cute stranger's eye at Amazon? Small-talked with the workers at Amazon, to cement your social bonds?

    FUCK Amazon and everything about them. They blew up in the dot-com bubble, were worth nothing throughout the 2000s, and only took off after QE in the 2010s. Fake worthless company that provides nothing to anyone.

    Amazon delenda est, and give it all to Blockbuster, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Aladdin's Castle arcade chain, mall operators, and so on and so forth.

  42. At least by me, I've seen a few more (non franchised) coffee houses, arcades, and even a pinball joint, open post-covid. Hopefully this will continue into the future.

  43. More signs of realignment in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and Iran and Syria have normalized relations with each other, isolating Israel politically in the Middle East.


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