Generations Are Arbitrary. Act Accordingly.

punk-band-generation-x
Members of this band were all Boomers.

The idea of generations, especially as Demographers use them, is overrated. I’ve said so before, I’ll likely go on saying it.

Being born at the same time as others gives you a set of shared cultural memories and not much else. Now, those shared cultural memories can be powerful, especially given the rate of pop culture decay, but they aren’t as determinative as people like to believe.

I have some more to say on this topic, over on Contena.com, which is a writer’s resource that’s added a blogging feature. I like to try out blogging features, so I penned Dead X.

The idea of “Generation X” was coined by the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland, and he was referring to people born around his time, the late fifties to early sixties, who came of age in the seventies. Too young to really be involved in the great Sixties upheaval, they lived in the immediate consequences of it. We would call these folk today “Late Boomers”.

Now, this is a provocative idea, if we were to apply the 15-year cycle that Democraphers are fond of using today. What if, instead of this:

  • Baby Boom: 1946-1964
  • Generation X: 1965-1980
  • Millenials: 1981-1995
  • Generation Z: 1996-2010
  • Generation Alpha: 2011-2025

We borrowed from Coupland’s original notion, and went with this:

  • Baby Boom: 1946-1960
  • Generation X: 1961-1975
  • Generation Y/Xennials: 1976-1990
  • Generation Z/Millenials: 1991-2005
  • Generation Alpha: 2006-2020

This setup has the virtue of a) recognizing that postwar birthrates started to decline in the early 60’s, when birth control became a reality, b) using the original conception of Generation X, c) moving the group called “Millenials” to those born around the actual Millenium, and d) giving the “Xennial” identity an actual demography.

Of course, it would shift myself from Generation X to Generation Y, but it would put me in the same Generation as my wife, so… I can live with it.

The link to Dead X on my Contena profile again, that you may Read the Whole Thing.

 

We Have to Be Liked

Bret Easton Ellis, writing in his essay collection White, on the social-corporate demand of inclusivity:

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their very first corporation. Facebook encouraged its users to “like” things, and because this platform is where they branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, their umpulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of themselves — or or a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And this is where the twin ideas of likability and “relatability” were born, which together began to reduce all of us, ultimately, to a neutered clockwork orange, enslafed to yet another corporate version of the status quo. To be accepted, we had to follow an upbeat morality code under which everything had to be liked and everybody’s voice had to be respected, and anyone who held negative or unpopular opinions that weren’t inclusive — in other words, a simple dislike — would be shut out of the conversation and ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective were often hurled at the supposed troll, to the poitn where the original “offense” or “transgression” or “insensitive dickish joke” or “idea” seemed negligible by comparison. In the new post-Empire age we’re accustomed to rating TV shows, Restaurants, video games, books, even doctors, and we mostly give positive reviews because nobody wants to look like a hater. And even if you aren’t one, that’s what you’re labeled as if you steer away from the herd.

I like this because it’s a take obverse from the usual complaint about the internet and social media: a festering boil of rage and uncouthery. I myself have described Twitter as “both the tape recorder and the riot”. But this suggests that really everything is pushing the other way, as social media purges those lacking social credit, as the Chinese put it. Skynet turned out to be far more seductive than we thought.

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Click here for link.

It Appears Disney Is Going All-In on Streaming

So suggests Variety.

This explains what I’ve been wondering about, both here on the blog and on my podcast: Disney’s current strategy of “nothing but live-action reboots and Frozen 2.” It also jibes with the news that they’re done making Star Wars films for the time being (and with the rumors that the test screening for Episode 9 have not been going well).

In a nutshell, movies are too expensive and risky to make when there’s a cheapier method to getting content onto the screen.

If you spend $250 on a movie, you’ve got a single run in theaters plus home-video sales to make your money back. If the movie doesn’t find an audience, that’s a bunch of sales you aren’t going to get.

But if you have a captive audience of people throwing down $7 a month for all of your content, you don’t need to worry so hard. They’re paying, and you just have to keep putting half-way decent content up, and they’ll be happy.

So it appears that the Spielbergs and Scorseses are wrong: this is what cinema is going to be. If a powerhouse like Disney decides it’s not worth it to put Star Wars movies in theaters, then movie theaters are going the way of the dodo.

Planned Obsolescence Update

Everything has moved on from my previous computing issue. As it turns out, putting 16gigs of RAM when you previously had 4 improves things nicely (Also, getting the dust out from inside of there… yeesh.) So I’ve upgraded my Scrivener and started on the short pieces for the next issue of UJ. Also, I’m planning on doing some recording and practicing with the new version of GarageBand, as I’m pretty sure it let’s you make your own drum loops and fills. That will be fun.

The difficulty always lies in using the computer as a tool rather than a distraction. To sit down with a goal in mind, even if that goal is “write 500 words” focuses the mind nicely, I’ve found. Scott Adams may disagree, but small, doable goals are a way to build to “systems”

Escaping from Planned Obsolescence

I bought my current home desktop computer, a Mac Mini, in 2012. I bought it on Father’s Day, and I sprung extra for the newly released version. It has reliably served my needs. I write, blog, pay my taxes, record podcasts and music, and play copious amounts of Crusader Kings 2 on this machine. It has been a solid investment.

This past week, I nearly destroyed it.

The new iOS on my phone is now sufficiently advanced that I cannot upload photos to my machine from it (I don’t use the cloud. I don’t trust the cloud. The cloud is a lie). In order to fix this, I needed to install the new MacOS, Catalina. Which I did.

I immediately regretted this decision.

In the first place, a bunch of apps that I regularly use won’t work with Catalina. Like Scrivener, which I use for writing. Like Microsoft Word. Like Garageband, which I use to record podcasts.

So Scrivener I can upgrade at a discouted rate by sending the developer an email with my receipt from the Mac App store I bought it from. Annoying, but doable. Microsoft word I can download for free, but they want $70 a year for an Office subscription. I feel like I can do better.

Garageband took some figuring out, but by deleting the old app I was able to download the new app, for free, and used it to record a podcast on Saturday. So far, so good.

But

the

computer

is

now

so

slow.

are-you-fucking-kidding-me-cle

Now, a new MacMini costs $800. And my wife’s computer is older, so she gets dibs on a replacement. Me shelling out that kind of cash because I let Apple shove me down the obsolescence treadmill is… well, it’s just dumb.

But, that generation of Mac Minis was designed to be user-upgradable (I know, is it even an Apple product?). So upgrading the memory will be really easy. I can do it myself for the price of some new RAM, which is currently on its way via Amazon.

And if that doesn’t work? I can try installing a new hard drive, which would actually be even cheaper. I didn’t go with it because there’s plenty of disc space on my existing hard drive, so I figured RAM was the problem.

The point is, I have options. I can gain expertise and understanding. I can do for myself instead of just chorfing the next part of the product cycle. I can, in short, act like an actual rational human.

And be silently thankful that Apple actually made choosing that option easy.

Dan Simmons Demonstrates There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Apparently he committed thoughtcrime by criticizing Little Angry Climate Girl, whereupon the usual gang of Two-Minute-Haters jumped up and down, whereupon his most well-known book shot up to #1 on Amazon. Larry Correia has the details.

Now, logically speaking, we must stipulate that Correlation is not Causality, so it’s entirely possible that the Legions of Woke were not the cause of Dan Simmons’ thirty-year-old book getting purchased by everyone who wearies of the Legions of Woke.

But if something else were the cause, then that might be even worse for the Neo-Puritans. Because that means their *INTERNET RAGE* had no power to derail … whatever that cause was. Incompetence or irrelevance, take your pick.

This reminds us that, absent a real armed struggle, the perpetually angry only have the power that you grant them. And once people realize that, realize that there are plenty of people who are sick as they are of the endless noise, then the noise retreats accordingly. As Rotten Chestnuts has it:

once the revolutionary fervor passed away with the first generation of fanatics, Puritanism was unsustainable.  In Massachusetts, for example, they were hanging witches in 1693; by 1698 Cotton Mather was being openly mocked, and by 1700 everyone was pretending that the whole sordid business never happened.

Stand Your Ground seems to be the operant principle.

 

South Park Does What South Park Does

To capitulate to Chinese censorship, or not to capitulate? That’s the billion-dollar question increasingly facing U.S.entertainment companies that wish to retain their access to China’s enormous 1.4 billion-person market while maintaining a veneer of integrity in the eyes of supporters back home. A “South Park” episode and a single tweet from an NBA employee have…

via ‘South Park,’ NBA Controversies Point Up Challenges of Doing Business With China — Variety

I wonder how much this matters. The Chinese don’t give a damn about free speech and they never have. There’s a whole lot of things about our culture that mean nothing to the PRC, and so long as they remain the PRC, never will.

What remains to be seen is if the media industry will sacrifice free speech to keep access to Chinese markets. Which raises all sorts of questions about the value of doing business with China in the first place. The idea, back in the 90’s, was that opening China up would expose them to Our Way of Doing Things, and lead them to change. It worked well enough with the Soviets.

But China is not Russia. China is the oldest contiguous civilization on earth. China doesn’t care what the foreign devils have. China cares about China. Rather than admire our system, they appear to be exploiting it.

Which means… Well, it means a whole bunch of things.

Man Complains About Foofoo Whiskey, Proceeds to Use It to Create the Most Foofoo Cocktail Of All Time

Some people say “fru-fru” but in my college days, we all referred to “foofoo drinks”. I believe our standard for what constituted a foofoo drink was:

  • Any cocktail named after a magazine
  • Any cocktail that is pink
  • Any cocktail containing liquer

This was the 90’s, so you can probably guess what cocktail was specifically on our minds. I’d concede that this was the pedantry of inexperienced, Because I’ve had Cosmopolitans, and if properly made, they’re a most refreshing cocktail, if a bit girly. But I’d drink Cosmos every day with my pinky out, just gushing about my hot dates before I ever allowed Peanut Butter Whiskey to pass my lips.

Flavored whiskey is an abomination.  It’s one thing to add a buch of sugary syrup to vodka, because vodka has no flavor. Whiskey, however, does have a flavor, a sharp tang of bitterness that suits a grown-up’s palate. And there are variations in flavor amid the various kinds of whiskeys: scotch, bourbon, rye, Canadian, and Irish whiskeys each have their own style. The aesthetic experience of imbibing whiskey is not improved by adulterating it. Just admit that you want something that tastes like candy and leave perfectly good spirits alone.

And if you think I’m just having a go at girly drinks again, let me just state that in my family the women enjoy their whiskey like they do their men: straight, strong, and icy.

But since the turn of the 21st century the whisky industry has suffered self-inflicted indignity, with Red Stag, Jack Daniel’s Honey, Crown Royal Apple, Rock and Rye, flavored whiskies that don’t add slight accents to whiskey, but instead have all the subtlety of a Washington D.C. Womyn’s March. And don’t even get me started on Crown Royal Maple, it’s not even fit for pouring on French Toast, if you were so inclined. And the blasphemy of blasphemies, the armageddon of the cocktail culture that has forever ruined the bar business, is that blend of formaldehyde and cinnamon that is Fireball, rife with the artificial taste of cinnamon flavoring, table sugar and regret.

I agree with this. But then the author betrays his enjoyment of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and proceeds to create a liqueur-stuffed alcoholic milkshake with it called the Nutty Buddy. All of which says to me that the above is mere rhetorical dressing to cover up the fact that someone said “Peanut Butter whiskey” and some dark corner of his mind wanted to try it. Only the ones who hold standards can betray them.

harrumph_2

On Aesthetics

I was inspired by my earlier post to think about aesthetics – the philosophy of art, beauty, etc.  And I did a brief perusal of the related article on the topic on Infogalactic and discovered something:

  • In ancient and medieval world, specific things were called out as being beautiful: order, form, harmony, unity, etc. This was a means of defining beauty.
  • Starting in the Early Modern period (17th-19th centuries), the conversation changed to be about “aesthetic experiences”, wedding aesthetics to rationality and science.
  • Then in the 20th century, two things happen:
    • First, we throw away the artist/author because of the “intentional fallacy”, and center our understanding of a work solely on our individuated responses to it.
    • Second, the Po-Mo’s throw away the idea of beauty itself, and everything becomes about discourses and narratives to be endlessly invoked and endlessly deconstructed

So we move from a set of idea that are clear, evocative, and can be used by a mason to build a temple, to a set of ideas that are esoteric, tendentious, and can only be used by academics to write essays. The nerds have taken over.

71ArtInutile-s
“Art is Useless. Go home.”

And Now, More Mindlessly Speculative Guff about Star Wars

First, the rumor mill: reshoots, secret cameos, six different endings, a bunch of “sources say” folderol. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. There’s really no way to know. Even after the movie’s out, we don’t get a lot of facts about what actually goes on in a movie shoot. Until the last Blu-Ray sale, no one wants to go on record.

Also, I’m kinda tired of the idea that it was The Last Jedi that broke Star Wars, as if the last 20 years hadn’t happened. This franchise has been coming apart at the seams for a while.

And honestly, the whole point of doing movies is to re-shoot them if you can. This is especially true of large corporate popcorn movies. Everyone with a stake gets to put their 2 cents in. It’s not inherently bad that they’re trying to please as many of the fans as they can.

Still, not a good look.

Then we’ve got completely speculative horse-puckeys about what can even be done with the story at this point:

This sounded terrifyingly plausible to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s what’s happening. My instinct says that Skywalker is going to be blandly competent and mildly forgettable. But again, this could also be wrong. Every thought and process we have about this right now is locked into essentially the same place it was in the Prequel era – Please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck.

Because, Solo aside, they haven’t done anything to expand the universe (Solo was a good movie. It didn’t deserve its fate). It’s the same blues-vs-reds that it was before, only now it’s done with different sensibilities and feels about 20% as fresh. And maybe that’s because we’re all too wrapped up in it as fans. Fandom is inherently obsessive and perspective-warping. Turning enjoyment into devotion messes up the relationship between art and audience.

The question is, when Lucasfilm busted its ankles to profit from that devotion, and still does, do they not bear some responsibility for that skewed relationship? Especially when they feel no obligation to the art as anything other than a bland corporate product? It’s hard to find much sympathy for an organization that refuses to manage basic continuity in what’s supposed to be an ongoing story.

But again, nobody knows. And my attitude has become so clinical and noncommittal towards this, that I’m beginning to ask myself if I even care.