Triumph Of Muscle

I just look at the results of the election, especially now the stats are in, and it just screams Triumph of Masculinity to me. The celebratory pictures all feature bros to the hilt, the 87+ reported nation-wide hate crimes all have bros at the center. The vote difference is barely a percentage or two, but the polarisation of it goes all to white men and women, slightly better off ones, versus everyone else. It feels like a vote for keeping the opportunity to get ahead over other people's backs versus creating a truly level playing field, a vote for sending destructive rage to Washington versus a vote to send someone to continue the current lines for social justice, a vote for chaos over policy wonkishness.

America doesn't like wonks. Al Gore lost because it felt like he'd spend time devising policy instead of going out for beer with you. Literally, that was the family commentary I got in 2000.

It is a vote for muscularity, bias to action, robustness, speed, with a big dose of chaos, and may the chips fall hard--which is why it feels like such a fascist vote. It was not a vote for sharing, policy, balancing, stability. And gender-wise, it literally was man vs woman, and the man won in large part because the woman got unbelievable misogyny sent her way for her continuing ambition.

It feels familiar. No, not W, though the current days of grokking that That Guy with That Dudes Family will now get to live in the White House, currently inhabited by a model nuclear family of love, intelligence, and class, is just like when I realized That Smirk would now run the military. No, the way this feels is Reagan, what I grew up watching. Individualism, bootstraps, me-first, muscularity. A counter-notion to all this chaos and freedom being unleashed by people exploring themsleves in millions of directions of tie-dye and hippies and New Age. Yes to coke that keeps you awake at the office for days, no to toking that makes you passive and accepting. Yes to power suits, no to freaks and punks (who flourished in their counter-cultures). And yes to bodies being grown big in gleaming palaces. The 70s era of boogieing--where a Rolling Stone article about it led to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER--gives way to an era of aerobics, freshly repackaging boring calisthenics, and pumping iron--where a Rolling Stone article about that scene leads to another Travolta classic, PERFECT. Me me me in red power ties and tubs of whey in their duffle bags; yes, this election reminds me of the 80s.

White maculinity, white muscularity. The 80s body cuture created the 90s heroin-chic reaction, but ever since then bros soldiered on, chugging protein powder and they are even lifting bro. But now there's a 010 twist to it: Instagram life. Massive amounts of boys and mens are posing their muscles like Kim K and all her knock-offs sell their boobs and ass, to a degree that would not have been acceptable as masculine in the late 80s outside certain circles of Death Metal. But then again, we've gone way past the 80: Jersey Shore globally already over a decade ago normalized Tan Gym Laundry as a lifetsyle, Guido Juicehead as an archetype to tap into a market with, and now 10-year-old boys have eating disorders and typing in #fitness gets you as many men as women posing their almost-naked bodies for the explicit goal to create envy and lust, and they're seriously not just gay men.

Why, though? Why are boys showing off that much? A year ago some article posited that the body-obsession was one of the escapes young men had to the Millenial con game where Boomers extracted all value by borrowing on the future and the bills were now coming due in such a way that young people with massive student debt and no good job or safety net had absolutely nothing to look forward to but roommates and three barista jobs. You can't get a deposit for even a new car, but you can invest your time and sweat in lifting weights, injecting roids, and getting those hearts on your pics. Besides, eating only vegetables and chicken breast is cheap. It's an utter drag, but it is something. The article made the need for control and pride sound like anorexia.

So, a victory for bros. A victory that at best will unleash chaos if Trump follows through with putting nobody with any experience in any post, and at worst is already shaping up at having even more insidery insider lobbysist run Washington. I'd be surprised if things got better for young people, or older people, or anyone under $200K a year. The trends are on track, and they are not going to change for social sharing, respect, and empathy. Expect the ideal male body to get a lot bulkier again, the bros to seriously turn their 6-week light steroid cycles into 15 week drags, action heroes to be played by IFBB pros again or have the current crop be digitally altered to look like that, and locker room talk to be the new vernacular.

But let me tell you a little secret I know from inside the iron halls: it's never enough. The biggest guy is always worried he is not big enough. The middle guys are always checking each other out, and because they believe in individuality and hierarchy, they are consumed by ranking each other and fear of losing. The drag to get there is unbeleivable, with every step to 'the next level' taking the same amount of will power and time and effort as the 5 before it together.

Nothing was never enough for Trump. Nothing is ever enough in the muscle game if you are doing it for comparison and your sense of pride is counted in other's looks. No remedy is ever enough when you see your prvilege being chipped away as minorities come to equality and the smaller guys or even women lift almost as much as you. It will never be enough, and you will never be happy if all you can see is the next level, and what you are now and the amount of hearts you got today is not enough.

The Nights

And that's how on a random Wednesday I ended up having Indian food in a tony restaurant off Fleet Street, like I was in an episode of glossy young professionals TV show, after meeting my friends first at a members cocktail club where I ordered a pot of green tea without anyone batting an eyelid. And we three re-affirmed that while we do so pay heavily in one way or another for the privilege of living in London, it does really have it's moments.
Yes, I always wanted to live a city lifestyle. Now I have a personal trainer who makes me feel great, a really good and challenging contract, still The Closet I Live In near the city center, commutes that do not kill me (the current one, Kennington to Victoria, is too easy for words) and people to see, still in a spectacular center of the world I can manage these days. The job is in financials, so we actually leave the office at normal times, like 6, which is fucking amazing after a decade in agencies and telecoms. I have a life. I need to do volunteering, not just write checks for my friends doing rides and runs, but I have a life.


10000 experiences to be had, and I will have them all.

Of course, there's also issues. I made the mistake fo eating a bar of sugar free chocolate when I travelled to NL, which means I overdosed on Maltitol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that ferments in the gut at high volumes, so I spent part of my Dad's birthday dinner in cramps, and the next day, and the next. I tried activated charcoal as the Internet recommended, that just toned it down. For a week now my gut has been acting up, wrenching itself in horrible feelings that do not go away like normal cramps do after 20 seconds. They kept waking me at 5 AM every night, after which I asked Dr Google to diagnose me which meant that, according tof orums, I had stomach cancer, an ulcer, IBS, and would feel like this for decades without ever having relief. I resigned mysef, as one writer did, to waking up every night in pain at 5, just being a little active, and then trying to sleep between 6 and 7:30 again. As for the activity, the first night I cleaned the kitchen, the second night my bathroomette, and I had plans my thirs night I'd do the shelves in my fridge. Seriously, I was cleaning my bathroom at 5AM with gut cramps, waiting for them to stop so I could sleep again.
Then my trainer suggested Buscopin, and I am sleeping through the night again, though it has not fully settled down during the day. But it is funny how my brain will blow up anything that is wrong with me into a life-long affliction of pain, instead of me reaching for drugs and making it go away like normal people. I guess 25 years of thinking ever minor cold was a seroconversion will do that.

Also, I now have LHB tendonitis in the other shoulder. Yeah, I never mentioned, I had that 18 months ago on the left, and just ignored it, kept liftin, and slowly it rheabbed. Now it started acutely in the right shoulder, but this time I have a trainer who immediately sent me to his massage therapist. He diagnosed it, and then loosened it, and then applied a fuck ton of pressure, all while we were talking about deaths in his family. (No, this is totally normal if you know me.) It was after the massage and the admonishment that I was on a week of forced upper-body rest that instead of the gym I asked CityMapper how to get to the coktail bar where I knew my friends were. City Mapper rules my life these days, nothing gets me through London faster.

This is what you get in metropoles: busy, expensive, often exhausting, but damn so many options. Including just sitting home and blogging if you want.

Flashback

Threads today: 50 years of Star Trek, posts on Facebook and Whisper of how you met a celebrity, and a horrendous attack of homesickness for LA today this afternoon when I was thinking about Imagineering. Just horrible deep regret I didn't stay and somehow made it work, even though at the time I did not know how. (Finding out a few months ago there were digital agencies at the time in LA where I could have become a designer as I am now, did not help. Not that I would have known how to work them.) So then today, on the bus after the gym, I suddenly remember an incident that brought it all together: meeting a Star Trek celebrity in LA.

I was in an art gallery, I believe in Culver City, because we went with a building neighbor every month to the openings so she could get more into the art world, so it probably was one of those trips. Evening, then probably, and still so lovely warm at night you could just walk from gallery to gallery with just the lightest of long-sleeved T-shirts. It was a photography exhibit, and suddenly I saw the back of a tall, black-haired gentleman next to me. And I knew who he was without seeing his face or hearing his voice, which I still find so amazing. I may have mentioned it to pinkfish, if he was there, or maybe he to me as well.

But there I briefly stood, examining photographs, as he was, next to Leonard Nemoy. I barely ever glimpsed his face.

Of course I didn't even let him know I was there, or recognized him. I have lived in LA and AMsterdam; I know what to do around celebrities: leave them alone.

On Brexit, Being Voted On Today

While they're all out voting, I'll post this here especially because nobody really reads this space any more.

And no, I do not get to vote in this British referendum about staying in or out of the EU. But members of Commonwealth countries who live here do, it seems.

I have found three streams of though about leving the EU:


  1. A disenfranchised protest. There are many of those here in the UK; the Conservative government has spent the last 8 years pushing through a reformist Austerity agenda that in the end is a transfer of wealth from poor people to the older middle class, who vote Tory, and themselves. Austerity has actually not helped up clean up the national books, as the insecurity and reduction of demand it has created has forced the government to borrow more money than ever. The result is that an underclass has been expanded significantly, who have been agitated with 20 years of anti-EU outright porpaganda. Many of them will admit they do not know that Brexit will be better for them or the country, but at least they get to say up yours to the people they perceive as an unaccountable EU elite (see propaganda). The Labour party has been unable to reach this voter.

  2. People who stand to gain power and influence by the exit. These come in a number of flavors, with the main two being the politicians and pundits who have gained popular appeal slagging off the EU for decades, who finally see their time has come. A Brexit will vindicate them entirely, which they will be able to translate into positions of power. The people who fund them, like Rupert Murdoch, will then be able to get rid of a whole lot of laws and controls the EU currently imposes on employers not to be total dicks, thus being able to extract labor to add to their capital. Whether the politicians and pundits who have been doing the dirty work for dismantling minority and labor protections are actually as racist and xeonophobic as their campaign of lies indicate they are, we will probably only know if they win, or on their deathbeds. All indications are that the most respectable of the mouthpieces actually is not a racist, but will say anything at anytime to further his career. He has his sights set on being Prime Minister, and he may just get it for the same reason he became Mayor of London: people thought it would be funny and shut him up.

  3. The third stream I have seen, and it is the one that scares me most, actually lives inside the first two groups as well, but also in Brexiters, at significant levels in my opinion, outside of what I have already outlined: people who think the UK is fundamentally still a country and culture that should own the world. They genuinely think the UK has something better about it, something more dignified and smart and worthy than the other countries in the EU. They have looked down on other countries and nationalities forever, and do not understand the rebate and and refusal to join Schengen and the € are irritants that have undermined the UKs position in Europe for years, but think this is all simply due to the UK from 'that bunch'. They giggle at the joke that the way British people speak foreign laguages is to just yell English louder, but also never learned to converse in anything else. These people are as convinced of some form of English exceptionalism as nationalist Americans are convinced of theirs, but it goes so deep in their atttiudes they have never even really noticed. Of course the UK does not need the EU. Of course they are still an economic super-power, and they always will be. Of course the other European countries won't pull the services and currencies and headquarters away from London, they'd be foolish to; don't they know the UK is an economic super-power? They genuinely think they can do trade deals with the US, China, Brazil, and India, especially India (those fuckers owe us everything) on their own, because the UK is just simply better. That's why everyone wants to migrate here, so obviously, well...

I have kept rather quiet about it all; the British have made it clear I am not to have a voice in my future here, even after 8 years of paying taxes, because I have not naturalized. I doubt much woud change for me in case of a #Brexit in the first five years, and most likely I will be either grandfathered in or, more likely, because the UK still wants to trade with the EU, they will have to accept open migration with the EU like other non-EU countries in Europe had to. I just suspect the border would just get even pissier to cross, although it is still a lot nicer than the US to enter for me.

I Feel Safer In The UK.

The more I read about 'responsible gun ownership', the more it looks like monogamy: everyone swears they can do it for life until they ruin it in just a few passionate minutes. But instead of just fucking up your family, screwing up responsible gun ownership means people end up dead. And if you screw up while owning a really fast big gun, many people end up dead.
Every lie-detector episode of a day-time trash-talk TV show shows how well those really important vows of monogamy are kept, vows they make in front of their community. But somehow I am supposed to believe that everyone who swears they will be a responsible gun owner when they sign a license won't screw up the next 40 years of their life, ever. Every one. Every last one around me with a big gun will never screw up, never lose their shit, never fall mentally ill, never get super angry, never take drugs, never be stupid for a moment and let stuff lying around unlocked, and never ever will have a break-in.

At least when people lose their shit in a car--and they do, I acknowledge this--they don't take out 50 people in 20 minutes. And that car has had a use besides killing people.

I can't believe the discussion expects anyone to take the sentence 'responsible gun ownership' seriously. That's not something you are, it is something you do, and people change what they do in an instant for a multitude of reasons. How much damage should they be able to inflict with what is in their homes and hands when they stop being responsible?

The UK has mental illness too. It is not well treated here at all. You can tell in the homeless, and in the stats of who is at home signed off work. But there's no US style rampages because they do not have the tools. Someone here got so crazy last week that he stopped being a responsible gun owner, if he ever was one, and went on a passionate gun-fuelled rampage. But he could only get a little gun, so only one person died. Not 50.



BTW, not interested in rehashing the tired arguments, you can do that in your own spaces. Comments very screened, doubt I will allow any. My blog, my rules.

Terrified

I honestly am convinced by all reports that Global Climate Change is happening, and that we are so past the point of no return for a cataclysmic change of our current lives that the debate whether it was caused by humanity or not is pretty much moot (it was, btw). Even a 100% change right now of burning no fossil fuels, none, nada, tomorrow, would only limit the carnage, not prevent it. Hell, the carnage is already happening anyway with river floods and food shortages. I actually expect it now to be worse than any "reasonable" prediction.

I recycle, but I feel it is a futile experience; decreasing landfills seems like a minuscule activity when you consider the city you live having major floods in your lifetime and god knows what will happen to NL--at some point you just can't build up against both the sea rising and river floods. And fuck knows what all of the Asian coast line will do. How all our arable land will shift north. How storms and events the world over will intensify and become 5 times more frequent or so.

In 2008, when I was hanging around the Collapsonomicists, they always told me cultures don't collapse into Mad Max overnight, or in months, or a year. It is a decades slow decline as the network of people and specialisations and sub-widget-for-sub-widget-for-machines factories start to fail and disappear, slow, slowly. And god, when you think about it, is our current world fragile and specialised, stacking nonsense on nonsense.

We live in a world where people can have whole lucrative jobs helping people who make nothing tangible as well, to write 140 character messages with a mental lifespan of about an hour, if that, to be seen on pocket computers that are expected to be replaced every 18 months. If these social media helpers get good at it, they get to lord over other people writing those messages. I've made money herding smart people for days into a process of drawing badly so that we could agree how a person could use a tiny pocket box that talks to a bunch of computers in an office to display the data from their homes so they could tell other computers to add non-existent money to their accounts to keep the lights on. An infrastructure worth millions and millions of pounds employing thousands of people to recreate a wood fire than we used to sit around in caves, but now with proper shareholder value added. There are days my business existence drives me insane, both by how fragile it is to breaks in those networks and stacks of brittle technologies, and how when the zombie apocalypse happens, I will have nothing of value to contribute--unless someone needs workshops run on how to best construct the perimeters to the survival camps. I will be sending out foraging parties to get me back Sharpies. I will use them well: many brave people will have died to fetch them for me. I hope they find some green ones too.

I have ten nieces and nephews and I don't know what the kind of world the fuck they are going to live in, but I doubt it will have pre-packaged single serve organic mochi in 5 flavors for all of them--maybe just the 5%. We're caught between rapacious neoliberalism that stops most of us from getting better off over time as our parents did, and has now saddled the young with ridiculous debt and no options, and mechanisation of almost every job now that deep learning will allow robots to navigate mines as easily as they diagnose diseases. The planet's weather has been so destabilized resources we depend on will dwindle, while we globally undermine the only model for portioning them out we have collectively agreed on sucks the least, by making everyone unemployed and gives 200 people all the wealth. Currently 47% of all Americans can't cover a $400 emergency. That is shocking. It's also the state the world has always been in except between the years of 1945 - 1980.

Can the AIs mititgate out of control weather? They had better because humans can't get organised enough to stop it because of our short term impulse. It's just that I do expect these major shifts in my lifetime, as certain breadbaskets now become 0 yield and other land will become arable. Will we get vertical farms in collapsing office buildings in Detroit? Will all cities slowly start to look like inner-city Detroit as infrastructure rots away? I still recycle paper and plastic in my household, but I keep wondering for what.

The image I feel coming closest to is SOYLENT GREEN. Forget the sensationalism of the plot reveal; I'm more thinking a city crowded, perenially hot. We recognize how the people live, but it is brutally backwards from where we used to be. People are crowded as everyone needs roommates to pay the rent, and sometimes just fucking homeless sleeping on stairs. We already have plenty of homeless, but these aren't mentally ill or confirmed clochards: they are people who want to work and want to stay healthy but for whom the economy of overcrowding and mechanization and indusrtialisation just no longer has a dwelling but an assigned spot in a hallway. I just noticed days ago that the homeless problem in London is worse--and that the homeless look healthier, younger, and relatively undrugged. They travel in small groups, they share resources and pets, and they could be a whole lot of trouble if their class-consciousness ever truly awakes.

Yes, my fear is making me more of a Socialist. I was thinking Basic Income wasn't the worst way to distribute the resources robots and a few smart people will produce in our post-AI world, until an article woke me up to the fact that that is basically a technocratic solution to an organizational problem that will only stratify everything more. Menawhile, the dream of richess combined with an incredibly clogged market is creating the opportunity for privacy-free dorms for entrepreneurs, which are basically homeless shelters for people with enough social markers to make their aspiration to wealth more credible than of a mentally ill black man roaming the streets of Downtown LA.

It's all too inching to dystopia for me, but only because I am old enough to remember dreams of everyone getting white picket fences, not just a few whose lives allow them to live far outside of cities or have a crapton of money or have been in the same place for half my life and thus could buy in before the cheap money of the last three decades turned homes from a necessity to an investment vehicle and blew up city living for the young and the new. And above a certain age, the homeowners just don't get what the rest is looking at; I have 30-something friends telling me their parents berate them that of course they will never own their own homes for buying new phones every two years, and of course my friends wonder what planet their parents are on if they think an iphone and a plane ticket to the US for a holiday is actually what is keeping them from having a £60.000 downpayment ready. People ten years younger than them start this race with student debt to service even before that downpayment. I'm terrified at what the twentysomethings here are looking at, because I can tell them what it looks like: I just have to look at my 40-something friends in the US who are not in tech.

I am 46 and I don't feel safe. Circumstances have me free-lancing again, and I laugh at this "freedom" is the envy of many. I just see it as having to double down on budgeting because I can't predict the future much, and I certainly can't book travel unless I know where and when I am working. I was talking today about someone about graffiti artists and they said "But of course, they have no financial security." I had to remind them that neither had I. I may be comparatively wealthy (but not for long should I be unable to work) and I make a lot when I work, but nobody in the sharing / free-lance / flexible economy is stable. A friend of mine in one of the financial oversight agencies keeps telling me the macro balance sheets have still not dealt with the 2008 crisis, really, and that he is a pariah at work when he mentions he is not sure either homeownership or pensions will actually be any kind of old-age insurance, something the rest of the agency just assumes will be.

Articles being shoved at me by Medium on recommendation of my tech & design entrpreneur friends on Twitter tell me global poverty is crashing so things are working, and that I need to spiritually grow to let go of the rat race and find freedom away from the shackles of expectations about materialism, ambition, career, and relationships I carry from social conditioning about success created to keep me in my place as an unenlightened drone. I keep think I'd love me some enlightened release from this existential anxiety of what the fuck I will do once the world shifts so fast UX no longer is what I can get paid to do or my credibility to do it is lost for being too old in an ageist tech world, but I still need to make money for shelter and food today, and that involves staying in this rate race.

I'm just fucking happy yet again I don't have children. Having someone whose future depends on me would drive me insane right now.

Yeah, Talk Up That RuPaul Interview Some More, People

"Fishy" as some drag synonym for passing as female is an unbelievably misogynist term.
In my youth, I instinctually never bought David Bowie as some guiding light for queerness: his constant insistence it was all theater implied he got to take it off at home and safely go to the supermarket or negotiate his record contracts flaunting the ultimate accessory for success: possession of a white penis.
And then he goes and does the hetero-normative rock-star thing of marrying an impossibly beautiful woman anyway, like all male rock-stars before him. Some commitment to queer transgression there, people.
It's truly cold to tell a group they are too focused on identity and identity politics when the statistically prevalent outcome of medically neglecting their identity issues is suicide. Or to espouse how awesomely self-reliant and strong a gender-bending lifestyle hobby makes you by only counting the survivors.

Bern & Drumpf And Not Listening To The Voter

I get this feeling that the ascendance of Bern and Drumpf are actually the same phenomenon going through different prisms: a very large cohort of people finally waking up to the fact that they are not in the state of being embarrassed by temporary poverty, but are the leftovers of decades of wealth extraction by the 0.1%, and will not reach the standard of living their parents did, under any circumstance. In Bern's case it is young people who realize following the script has left them with an eduaction for jobs that do not exists and undischargeable debt that they will never recover from, preventing them from ever getting housing they couldn't afford anyway; in Drumpf's case it's older white folks realizing that decades of neo-con trickle-down union-busting globalization lies did actually not lead to their promised prosperity but shoved them to a place where they will now suffer at the same rates as the minorities they could always before safely look down on and feel superior to.

The young ones are ready to share and create collective solutions, so for they go for the centrist* candidate who shares their sense of collective responsibility and collective solutions. The middle-aged ones will still not ever vote blue, but flock to the candidate who started his campagn as a promotion for his reality TV shows and just kept going when he realized his complete and utter lack of credentials, sense, and scruples allowed him to tap into the rage and got him massive amounts of what currently in marketing is called "earned media"**.

But in both cases we're looking at people who see no realistic future of prosperity for themselves. And every time an establishment candidate starts a speech about how America has never been any better than now, like Romney did when denouncing Drumpf this week, these voters know they are being lied to (the America they are in is not better to them than it was to their parents) and tune out to the rest of the message. No matter how well Obama did on the economy, it continues to be extractive, with the "sharing economy" (Taskrabbit, Uber) being a codification of it. People will flock to a man too populist and intellectually weak to even be a proper fascist so they can protest-- that is how fed up they are--or awake.

So working through it by writing, I guess Drumpf voters are what happens when a Marxian awakening takes place in a proletariat with no sense of solidarity for, or trust in, each-other.

*Yes, I am European: Sanders is a centrist.
**Exposure paid for not by an advertising budget, but by sharing and repeating.

Reality Trumps

Did... did the Republican establishment actually allow itself to be confronted with the fakeness of the Iraq war? It took 15 years, but did they actually have to engage with the reality-based community? In a debate no less.

Even if it did come from the crazy court jester they can't avoid...

I am with Coquette: it'll be Kaisch. The GOP is not stupid.
talking

Talk About Sex

The One Way You Know You're Having Feminist Sex

As some of you know, people tell me stuff. Which is why I want you to read this.
If you are in a hurry, Ctrl+F to the parts about communication, and especially non-verbal communication. I can not tell you all how many people I have listened to that would have had 70% of their anxiety about sex disappear if they learned to do this. It *is* a leap to communicate about sex; you feel so judged, or open to it. But that is just your shame talking, and good partners WANT you to feel good.

  • Men are trainable. They are. They want to make you happy. Let them know how.

  • Women are sexual too. They are. They totally want it too. But they can't read your mind about what you need.

Seriously, all it takes is usually moving a hand, or a whispered / growled hint.
The other take-away that totally resonates with me: you never have ANY idea what people are really into until they tell you. OMG do we hide our sexual selves well. It's why I like talking about sex: people are so amazing and unexpected when they confide. It's like unwrapping little surprises.