Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poor People and Ridiculous Fashion Statements

When you're poor, there's a lot of shame that comes with that. Trying to look NOT poor is important to you. There are easy ways that poor people can work to make themselves look not poor- many of these methods develop into trends, which ironically becomes a signifier of poorness rather than a mask of it. But I digress.

When you're poor, the way you cover up poorness has to be visual and extroverted. You're living in a shit neighborhood, or in the projects, or in a trailer park. You can't make that look good, so looking good for you is outside the home. You make your clothes and your car look good. So, the hats- People like wearing hats. That's the start of it. But how do you designate a nice hat from a not nice hat? Most baseball caps get the tags ripped off, the stickers removed, and people bend the bill to make it fit more naturally. What does that mean? The hat is worn-in. It's used, even if only used by you. A hat that still has the manufacturer sticker and a perfectly level bill? That's a hat that was bought new. And you keep it in that condition as long as possible to SHOW people that you bought it new. Damage the hat or remove the holographic-stamped, custom stickers? Maybe you bought the hat at Salvation Army, or Good Will, or it's a hand-me-down or a hand out. But a perfect, straight-from-the-rack untouched hat? That's a SIGNIFIER that you're able to buy a hat.

I know it's hard to understand, but it's a pretty deeply engrained cultural statement. Why did Elvis wear white clothes? Because he was poor as shit growing up and he wanted to show people he could wear something white and expensive and not be worried about stains. Gets stained? Buy a new one. Wearing white shows you're rich. It's why Elvis wore white, it's why yuppies wore khakis rather than jeans, it's why Don Draper's costume designer gave his a pale trenchcoat rather than a dark one early on, it's why rich people have "white (clothing) parties"... And for that matter, it's why Johnny Cash wore black.

The white clothing thing is an old trend of showing affluence, used both by the rich and by the poor who wish to look rich. The hat thing is a new trend. Maybe it'll stay, maybe it'll go. Poor men who became rich- especially rappers- keep wearing their hats that way. As such, middle class and upper class youth copy it. So maybe it'll become engrained as a symbol of wealth. Or maybe it'll fall away. Pristine Air Jordans have been a symbol of wealth amongst poor communities for 20 years now, and who'd have thought that would last?

Orignal post by adam_frankenstein

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rocks, Pebbles and Sand

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full?

They agreed it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them in to the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full? They agreed yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life.

“The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children — anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

“The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car.

“The sand is everything else. The small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life.

"If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.”

Original post by McMonocle

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Future Danger of Overwhelming Student Loan Debt

Yeah maybe they theoretically don't look so bad from an extremely short-sighted balance sheet point of view, but they will completely destroy capitalism as we know it.

Since the mid/late 80s a generation has been brainwashed with TV and other forms of constant commercialized media into believing that self-actualization comes from consumption, fitting in and having more than others. We have also been brainwashed into believing we must go to college to be successful (that is, good) people. Now we can say this is the fault of the parents, or its the fault of the corporations or whatever. Doesn't matter. Point is, this is what is happening.

We have reached a structural employment crisis. There are not enough jobs. We can deduce statistically that those with college degrees are likely to do better, given extremely broad aggregate measures. While college can be highly helpful for some people, it isn't meant for everywhere. The promised jobs don't exist. We don't need 10,000 PHDs in every obscure social science, there is no known way to employ these people productively in existing businesses.

You may ask why? Why is it that we don't know how to use these people in society? Why don't the jobs exist?

Because our generation has been trained to be law-accepting, servile, submissive and rule-loving. We have had creativity, empathy and patience trained out of us. Initially this was viewed as good. Marketers thought they were creating perfect consumers, who would continue buying things forever. It was perfect monopoly capitalism: installing the idea of unique brands in children at ages as early as possible and making them believe only those brands could bring them joy. Perfect consumers.

What these idiots forgot is that CONSUMPTION ALONE DOES NOT MAKE AN ECONOMY WORK. They didn't train a creative productive workforce! They trained consumers! This is a huge part of why the economy is dying.

For the last 10 years, corporations tried to just hand jobs to otherwise useless idiots who only knew how to consume. Guess what? A corporation where all the grunt work is done by barely thinking consumeristic dolts, where the management is done by idiot consumption-side, short-sighted managers, has led to a crisis of productivity.

We find ourselves in a state where an entire generation has been psychologically trained that 'consumption = happiness' but that generation is also massively un- and underemployed. That is to say, our economic system has found no productive use for consumers.

The college loan crisis is the last hurrah of the system. As droves of trained idiot consumers begin to realize they are morons, they seek out education so that they may gain employment, so that they may continue to consume.

This is seen by the old idiot monopolists as a marketing opportunity. The monopolists planned for a wave of lifelong consumers. They sell us college degrees even though they know that 6-7/10 of us still aren't going to get a job we're qualified for. They didn't plan for a wave of lifelong wage earners.

They have no idea what to do with us BECAUSE THEY ASSUMED WE WOULD ALWAYS HAVE MONEY TO SPEND. Dunno how you're able to do much spending without any income. Such is the idiocy of mainstream 'keynesianism' and 'job creating' economic policies. Nothing grows by consumption alone, not in biology, not in physics, not in human economic interactions. There must be some transformative production of a new useful thing!

Well, ok, I'm wrong, there is one thing that grows by consumption alone with no creative production. CANCER.

The student loan bubble is the last gimmick, the last joke before everything comes falling down and a new social order is implemented. Our generation is realizing we have been lied to our entire lives. Consumerism brings you only despair, uselessness and mental disorders. To modify George Carlin's saying, we are finding that the American Dream is actually the American Nightmare. There are no jobs because none of these marketers know anything about economics, they just figured the money would come from somewhere.

We will realize we need to make our own economy, seperate and apart from these short-sighted psycopaths who have literally manipulated the thinking of much of our generation from birth. We will wake up from the American Nightmare. We will realize that it makes no sense to go 60,000 dollars in debt for nothing. Nothing but a pat on the back from our loan-shark financial rapists, thanking you for selling yourself into debt-slavery. Remember kids, student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy! Your wages will be garnished for the rest of your life!

We will stop going to college, we will drop out and make our own society. It is quite possible this transition will be extremely violent, though it does not have to be. Either way, when students begin en masse simply refusing to enroll, refusing to make loan payments or simply refusing to pay money they don't have for a service they don't need, the student loan bubble will collapse, and it will probably be the death-nell in modern Anglo-American globalist crony capitalism, as the shock waves emenating from the collapse of the student debt market will be at least as financially devastating as the collapse of home mortgages. Its likely it will be even worse (for the current order), as our generation will begin a widespread all-out revolt against consumerism, not by choice but by necessity, as we will be the new underclass if we do not pull ourselves up by our own boot-straps.

I think the way forward is co-ops, permaculture, and sustainable energy. We have to show these yahoos that globalist monopolistic capitalism is not responsive to true social desires. Its not good enough for us. We can do better.

Original Reddit post


Happiness isn't about having things or not having things, and its not about things being better then than they are now or will be later. Its about being happy. Right now. You have to be happy. If you look around, there is plenty to be happy about, we just stop looking is all.
We get all hopped up on instant fixes like alcohol or video games or drugs or the never ending novelty of the Intenet. After a while the old fixes, a lovingly crafted film, learning a new math concept, the act of drawing or playing the guitar, or cooking a nice meal don't work as good as the new fast ones. They take a lot longer and require effort and determination.....so we stop. Our brain has an easier fix.

Suddenly that inspiration doesn't "hit" and we jump on the computer for a few hours or weeks. We do what we have to at a job so we can come home and get high on whatever gets us high. We get a six pack and see what's on TV. We get another philly cheesesteak even though that gut keeps growing. Whatever it takes to get that burst of happy. We consume. because then we get our fix and we can sludge through another shitty day getting shit on by someone who was just like you, but they've had the blinders on so long they forgot altogether.

Truth is you have to fight for what makes you happy. Fight against yourself and how easy it is today to have everything. Fight the animal inside saying feed me, please me, listen to ME... and remember the real you. The one with dreams and goals. Realize that just because you can play games and watch movies and eat hot pockets doesn't mean you should.

Realize that the best things take work. And just being happy is the hardest thing of all. You have to know yourself. To do that you need to take a good, long, honest look at yourself and your choices.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Purpose of Work

The purpose of work, believe it or not, is not to make a living. Its to keep you busy.

When you don't work, you think you will be happy, but in reality your mind becomes free to dwell on trivial things and you slowly, imperceptibly grow to become dissatisfied with life. Small things begin to feel like big things. The simple pleasures you used to enjoy in small proportions begin to lose their potency because now you have the money and time to indulge them in unlimited quantities. You begin to enjoy things less.

Ultimately you will have to go back to work to engage your mind and to keep yourself busy. Very few people can just do nothing and be happy. And those who can do so, I suspect, are either holy men, or feeble-minded.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

War on Terror vs War on Communism

Nothing is so irretrievably lost to a society as the sense of fear it felt about a grave danger that was subsequently coped with. -- George Will.

Reddit's demographic skews young, and people here don't often have the experience to be able to compare the modern "war on terror" to the "war on communism." The truth of the matter is that the war on terror is largely a peripheral concern in the United States, to a degree that Americans between, say, 1950 and 1989 would have loved to have. (As an aside, this is not to say that terrorism wasn't happening during the exact same period -- airplane hijackings in particular were relatively common during this forty-year period, and the thought process that developed on how to handle them played its own sad role on 9/11 -- just that it didn't filter to American cultural consciousness in a way that the "Soviet threat" did.) Yes, you see it on the nightly news, and yes, comedians make jokes about it and it informs both public and foreign policy -- but not to anywhere near the extent that communism did.

What the Americans saw: The USSR was, for at least a portion of its history, an aggressively expansionist and often foul-tempered entity with a largely opaque political process, a history of "disappearing" dissidents, and a united cadre of communist nations to back it up. Or at least, that was the American political establishment's experience with it. With the opening of the Soviet archives, we know a lot more now about the disagreements and infighting behind the scenes, and that what we thought of as being an unstoppable and belligerent empire was anything but. The Soviets didn't really want to go to war any more than we did (of course, exceptions existed on both sides), and each nation thought of the other as having all its ducks in a row and a united set of allies. Nope. Disagreements between the Soviets and Chinese over what to do about North Korea are pretty representative of stuff the Americans didn't know. It turns out the Soviets were no fools about what Kim il-Sung was up to and that they spent a lot of time trying to rein the crazy in. It didn't work and they sorely regretted having put him (and others around the world) in power, in much the same way that the Americans came to regret having supported their own batch of crazies in the interests of countering communism.

Not as crazy as it looks: This all looks insane with the benefit of 20+ years' worth of hindsight, but -- the more you study the era and how politicians on both side acted and why they did, the more you start to understand that, given the insanity of the time itself, just about all parties involved were actually behaving pretty rationally. The Soviets and Americans both behaved in a manner that made perfect sense for how their nations saw the world and their place in it. Or, to put it another way, look at the game theory governing mutual assured destruction. The idea of mass war with nuclear weapons is insane, but how people thought through it, and in essence, designed a system to prevent it, was actually pretty smart. Also smart was how quickly people on both sides recognized that the world was changing. I love to cite this article from 1989 as an example of the almost creepy prescience with which the U.S. military accurately predicted what it'd be doing today.

The Cold War's effect on the American perspective:
  • Think about a forty year national nightmare with Soviet spies in the American nuclear program, nuclear weapons being moved to Cuba and within easy range of the continental United States (probably the closest the two countries came to all-out war before Khrushchev blinked), the "space race," and dick-swinging contests over Olympic athletes and scientific and cultural accomplishments.
  • Think about Dead Hand and the rivers of ink spilled by commenters, academics, and polemicists for forty years about the potential for a Soviet-American War and what it would look like.
  • Think about the German army's bald admission that it existed largely for the purpose of slowing the Soviet tank advance in the event of an invasion of western Europe.
It was something rather more all-consuming than the current "war on terror." The modern CIA owes its existence to the USSR, as do generations of American politicians and policymakers. Condoleeza Rice, for example, is fluent in Russian, as are many in the State Department around her age. There's been a mass scramble to reorient the CIA around Chinese, Dari, Pashto, and Arabic lately. Hint, hint.

The world as a whole is safer and less violent than it's ever been, to a degree I think very few people truly appreciate. And if you want my honest opinion, future historians will see the modern "war on terror" as an inevitable development of the post-colonial world. They, too, will be writing in a period where that threat has passed and people are largely insensible to why it informed politics and culture the way it did. We are already starting to forget why the Cold War was as scary as it was.

Original comment by Cenodoxus

IT Haikus

Clueless user wants,
the Office Paperclip back,
What is wrong with you?

Your server froze up,
kiss your documents goodbye,
next time run backup.

System infection,
Russian FakeAlert virus,
stop downloading porn.

Don't complain to me,
your system is ten years old,
I can't fix cheapness.

Client wants update,
Tech did not fill out ticket,
Need a crystal ball.

Internet is slow,
Somebody running torrent,
Fess up you bastard.

Tell you to restart,
You power cycle the screen,
Palm strikes face so hard.

To use Linux comp,
Requires savvy user,
They do not exist.

Want to go home soon,
Whoops, server just went fubar,
Another late night.

New linux install
Graphics driver, no bueno
You check back next year

Linux, Mac, Windows,
All well designed OSes,
End users, not really.

12 gigs to upload,
Comcast upstream is horseshit,
Moving to Japan.

Help desk is evil,
Those from outside cannot know,
Madness lies within.

Six AM, phone rings,
I can fake being awake,
Cannot fake happy.

Building a server,
Every part arrives on time,
Unless it's crucial.

Phone won't stop ringing,
Tickets like a waterfall,
Smash router, silence.

Call up MS tech,
Seven hours on the phone,
Ear is falling off.

Original Reddit post by debaucherawr