Friday, June 19, 2015

Vanity Fair Grants Caitlyn Jenner the Title of Woman

Did Apple help pay for this Photo Shoot? 

At this point most everyone is aware of Bruce Jenner’s transition into Caitlyn Jenner. It’s old news.
But it’s worth asking, why do you know about it? Why does everyone know about it, and why was everyone talking about it?

Transexual people have been making gender transitions for decades, why the fuss over a former track star whose fame peaked before all millennials were born? (Yes, his gold medal was in 1976. For anyone under the age of 40 who doesn’t know what that’s about, Bruce Jenner was an Olympic Track athlete before he married a Kardashian.)

So, why Bruce Jenner? Simple reason, he hired a really skilled Hollywood PR Firm.  This piece at Vulture about the PR Firm and the media plan of the transition is worth reading.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with hiring a PR firm, and I’m not criticizing Jenner for doing so. As she said herself, “If I can make a dollar, I certainly am not stupid.” - can’t fault that. But the success of this PR Firm lends some insights into American culture that are worth exploring.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tom Brady Didn't Do Anything Wrong and the NFL is bad RealityTV

Unless it’s wrong for a man to wear Uggs

Football is the most lucrative and watched sport in America. It dominates pop culture and is a way of life for areas with an NFL team. It’s also eating itself alive like an ouroboros.

When people think of the NFL they often think of men throwing around or carrying an oblong ball made of cow hide for our entertainment. While that may have been the primary product of the NFL in the past, today the NFL is about one thing and one thing only, continuous drama; the oblong ball is completely incidental.

In an effort to ensure that the NFL is the main topic of discussion on all websites and all TV networks, during all times (even those dreaded 7 months when the NFL is not playing games) the NFL has ensured that drama comes from all areas. Instead of contests of strength, strategy and luck centered around an oblong ball, the NFL instead focuses on drama filled topics such as; who is dating who, which player had the roughest childhood, which coach is the biggest meanie, facial hair grooming, grown men bullying each other, decorative headphones, insensitive team names, players throwing ‘shade’ on twitter, fashion, fan-stories, colors, children’s exercise regimens, and dancing sharks.

As a reminder, the NFL has its own TV network. 24/7. They have to find something to talk about, and fashionable dancing sharks is a good a choice as any.

In the recent bit of manufactured drama to feed the 24/7 news cycle - the most successful NFL team and most successful NFL Quarterback have been accused of cheating. That sounds serious. How did they cheat?  By supposedly deflating balls to slightly less than the preferred NFL level of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Narcissism in the film 'In Bruges'

This is a picture of a narcissist

People still have trouble with the concept of narcissism. Over at The Last Psychiatrist (the inspiration for this blog) narcissism is defined loosely as “the narcissist thinking their life is a movie and they are the main character. All other people are side characters, extras, or don’t exist. Everything that happens in the universe is somehow connected to the narcissist. He/she is the main character after all.” More at TLP

There are some who have trouble with this definition because they associate narcissism with grandiosity and obsession with appearance; like a Jersey Shore cast member. This is not accurate, and is actually a defense; if you are not a Jersey Shore cast member, then this definition allows you to think you’re not a narcissist. Fail.

Below is a very short scene from the film In Bruges. It’s a film starring Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes written and directed by Martin McDonagh.
It’s a boring film in which nothing happens (I stopped watching after 10 minutes) - but this scene with the fat American narcissist is right at the start.

Watch it.

So why is this fat American a narcissist?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Adult Pre-K is Your Substitute for God

Unless of course I’m paying $500 specifically to have someone tell me what to do.

In Brooklyn there is currently an Adult-Pre-K course run by Michelle Joni Lapidos. Her website is here:

At this Adult Pre-K grown women (and 1 guy) pay for sessions that mimic Pre-K activities; such as nap time and finger painting. This story briefly hit pop culture a few weeks ago, with predictable pundits complaining about things they didn't understand.

To be clear, part of the American Dream is finding ways to get fools to part with their money. Ms. Lapidos has clearly realized there was a market for Adult Pre-K classes and she decided to fill that market and turn a profit. Good for her. Anyone hating on her is misguided or jealous or, more likely, both.

Rather than criticize Ms. Lapidos it is much more instructive to look at why someone would want to attend such a class.

The pitch for the class on Ms. Lapidos website is here:

Sure, it seems like Ms. Lapidos is selling Pre-K activities, like snacks, story time, and coloring. But those are all things any participant could easily do at home on their own time. Yet they are paying to instead do those things with Ms. Lapidos. This should tell you that the customers are really buying something else, something that Ms. Lapidos doesn’t directly articulate, but that they are connecting with on a non-conscious level.

For insight into that, some quotes from the class participants are illuminating.

They were all interviewed for this piece at WSJ
If it’s pay-walled sometimes clicking to it from Fbook can help (

For example:

“Steven Chu, a 30-year-old website developer and photographer who lives on the Upper East Side, hopes the class can dissolve his creative blocks and boost his entrepreneurial spirits. Four-year-olds don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, he notes. “Where did it happen, in growing up, that I let one ‘no’ or one person’s advice shut me down?” he says.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Is it better to be a Victim or Van Halen?

Sammy Hagar, incidentally, wants to be neither Victim nor Van Halen; 
he wants to be David Lee Roth. 

This story is a little old, here is a short recap:
  • In 2011-2012 a 14 year old male student at middle school in Texas develops feelings for his 28 year old female teacher.
  •  He informs her of these feelings, and she reciprocates.
  • They begin a physical relationship
  •  The parents discover it and get the teacher hauled off to jail.
  •  For bonus points, they told their son that he was wrong and they shamed him.
    • On National TV.
All of this happened and was covered by ABC 20/20.  I suggest you read the article and watch the video of the 20/20 piece.

20/20 claims the male student is now depressed and suicidal. If this is true, the fault lies entirely with The Parents.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Walking Dead: Zombies Represent Communism

Zombie Leon Trotsky no longer has an axe in his head. Rick pulled it out and gave it to Carl. 

What does Communism have to do with the AMC show The Walking Dead?
A lot. But let’s start at the beginning.Communism (or more precisely, the fear of it) is the key driver of the popularity of the Zombie genre and flesh-eating zombies as a concept in fiction.

The honor of being ‘the first Zombie movie’ is universally considered to belong to Night of the Living Dead by George Romero which was released in 1968.

While other zombie movies pre-date it, other so called zombie movies use the term zombie as a ‘voodoo’ or ‘mind-control’ concept; in which the dead or ‘sort-of dead’ are used as pawns by a voodoo master. Though hard-core fiction historians may correct me on this, the first use of the shambling, direction-less, human-flesh-eating un-dead appears to be Night of the Living Dead. And, even if it wasn't the first, it was by far the first popular example of zombies, grossing 12 million domestically in 1968 dollars. That’s big money in 1968 movie terms.

Why did Night of the Living Dead strike such a cord, particularly with American audiences?
Because it was released at the height of the Cold War when the threat from Communism was large and a daily reality for many Americans.

You see, Zombies represent Communism.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tennessee High School Girls Basketball Teams Punished - Why?

Two High School Girls Basketball teams from Tennessee are punished because both teams were trying to lose a game against each other. 

What did they do wrong?

This small event in Tennessee made national news. For a brief period in late Feb. 2015 this was a mainstream news story.
The vitriol in the comments section of those pieces is particularly interesting because it's so intense. Who knew people were so passionate about high school sports in states they don't live in?
I don’t know which side you, dear reader, are on, but if you’re on the “What those girls did was wrong” side, pause for a movement before we move forward.  Clearly articulate in your head your answer to this question “What, exactly did the girls do wrong?”
I’ll give you a few line breaks.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Problem is Right in Front of Your Face

Training to be a waitress 

I had been considering writing a piece about EliteDaily, a popular nonsense website made up of predominately American Narcissists under the age of 30. Similar to ThoughtCatalog. Rather than write that I went another way instead. 

The main observation was going to focus on the fact that EliteDaily doesn’t pay any of its writers. Yet each ‘writer’ churns out 4 to 5 posts a month, and lets EliteDaily soak in the benefits/clicks/revenue. For reference, EliteDaily seems to post 70+ pieces day.  With no compensation, why would anyone write for it?

Even more bizarrely their main competitor, ThoughtCatalog, has even written a post about why you should write for ThoughtCatalog instead. I had trouble focusing on its insanity, but their argument seems to be “We won’t pay you either, but we’re nicer about it!” I think? Maybe you’ll have better luck deciphering it. This piece on EliteDaily’s history is worth a look too. 

But really, this psychological problem of working for free on the internet is already covered over at TheLastPscyhiatrist in Alone’s last ever post.  So why rehash it?

Instead I was struck by a random piece by a young lady on EliteDaily titled The Foolproof Way To Orgasm: Stop Sleeping With Douchebags(spoiler alert it has nothing to do with orgasms. I know, I was disappointed too.) - Like nearly every post on the site it’s not actually a helpful how-to guide (as the title implies), but it instead reads like a journal entry; an overly personal live-journal post for those who remember live journal.

The young lady author (who you can find on Linkedin if you’re so inclined) rants about some douchebag she used to have relations with, and then congratulates herself because she claims she is no longer perusing douche-y guys. I’m not convinced, but more power to her.  
Why am I not convinced? Despite insulting her former flame as a “narcissist”, “self-serving”, “manipulative” and “psychopath” she also calls him her “counterpart” - her words.  Huh.

The most interesting part of her post was a throwaway line that I doubt struck her as odd or important. The start of her ‘how I met the douche’ story is this line:
“Immediately following my college graduation, I accepted a position as head hostess of a local chain restaurant.”
And there you have it folks. Again, you can find her Linkedin page.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Why Slate is Wrong / How to Cure Authoritarianism

Wait, they let babies into college now?

There is an article making the rounds right now that was initially posted on Slate.

In it, a Law Professor at U of Chicago, Eric Posner, argues that college students (he interestingly doesn’t specify age, just college students) should be denied most rights (such as free speech) because they are too immature to handle having rights and freedom.

The initial reaction, one would hope, is to decry this faux-intellectual milquetoast as an authoritarian monster who is damaging children. Don’t bother. took that tactic already. 

While (and I’m sure other sites) has pointed out that Mr. Posner has issues, let’s agree on three things.
  1. Yes. Mr. Poser is an authoritarian monster.
  2. Telling Mr. Posner that he’s an authoritarian monster isn’t likely to stop him from being an authoritarian monster.  So why bother telling him?
  3. Why can’t we persuade Mr. Poster that he’s a monster? Have you ever known someone to give up power willingly because you asked them nicely? Being in charge of thousands of college-age adults is essential to Mr. Posner’s identity. He needs to think of them as children so he can think of himself as an adult; even if he’s accomplished nothing of note that would otherwise signify adulthood. The childhood status of these legal adults is how Mr. Poser brand-identifies himself as an adult by proxy.

So, Mr. Poser is not going to have his mind changed on this issue. And regardless I’m sure many other people have written enough hate-pieces on him/to him. None of that helps solve the problem.

What we need to focus on is people who are persuaded by Mr. Posner’s arguments, and look to persuade them away from Mr. Posner’s arguments.

The person who reads Posner’s piece and thinks “He’s got a point. College kids today do seem awfully immature. ” –  Those people. How can we persuade them? How can we persuade them to reject authoritarianism and instead invest in the future of our younger generations? They are our only hope after all; who else is going to pay for our/Posner’s Social Security?

So these people who are sympathetic to Posner’s view point. How can we construct an argument to ‘save’ them?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Branding and Product Names are Important

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But it is worth revisiting.

On Amazon you can buy a 4-pack of Potato Chip Bag Clips for $5.99. Translating to roughly $1.50 per clip.