Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Daily #MeToo News

No, not me.  Wall Street.  Excerpt:

No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.

In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?

Across Wall Street, men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women.

Call it the Pence Effect, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife. In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation.

Interviews with more than 30 senior executives suggest many are spooked by #MeToo and struggling to cope. “It’s creating a sense of walking on eggshells,” said David Bahnsen, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley who’s now an independent adviser overseeing more than $1.5 billion.

Now I’m the least threatening guy in the world to women young or old.  At 57, I’m well past the hormone-driven stage; as a happily married man for 26 years, I’m not interested in shopping around.  I enjoy women aesthetically, but I also enjoy golden aspens in the fall, beautiful sunsets, kittens and wildflowers for much the same reasons.

And yes, I’ve adjusted my behaviors because of all this crap.  No one-on-one meetings behind closed doors.  I’m probably speaking more deliberately because my natural tendency is towards rough language and I have to watch that more carefully now.  And unlike years gone by, I never, ever complement a woman (other than Mrs. Animal, my Mom or my daughters) on their appearance.  My one exception to the above rule is a 30-something colleague who a few years back asked if I could mentor her through her advancing career, and I have agreed to do so, but have known her for a long time, she and Mrs. Animal are great friends, and I trust her.

It’s a shame that things like this have to suck every last bit of enjoyment we have in human interaction.  I like women; I enjoy being around them and talking with them, even though I’m not interested in hitting on them or sidling up to them.

But even I, as harmless a sort as you’re liable to find, have cut way back on my interactions with female coworkers.  It’s not worth taking the chance.  No way.  And that’s just too damn bad.

Animal’s Daily Vaping News

National treasure John Stossel and his mustache weigh in on vaping.  Excerpt:

“Your kids are not an experiment! Protect them from e-cigarettes,” warns former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in a CDC PSA.

My former employer, ABC News, which never finds a risk it doesn’t hype, has run more than a dozen scare stores on vaping. A “Nightline” reporter warned about kids “addicted to nicotine before they even graduate from middle school!”

Yet compared to regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are “extraordinarily less harmful,” says Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In my new newest video she says, “We should really be encouraging people to use vaping.”

Calling vaping safer than smoking doesn’t mean the risks are zero. Vapor contains harmful chemicals, too. But scientists say it’s far less harmful than smoking. If smokers switched to e-cigarettes, that would save millions of lives.

Nicotine is what makes both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes addictive. But nicotine itself isn’t that bad. Like caffeine, it’s a stimulant.

“On the spectrum of drugs that you can become addicted to,” says Minton, “nicotine and caffeine are very similar.”

The big health risks come from the 7,000 other chemicals generated by burning tobacco leaves.

By contrast, e-cigarette smoke is mostly just flavored vapor, which is less likely to harm anyone.

It doesn’t even smell as bad as cigarettes. “Somebody who’s vaping a huge cloud of Vanilla Cherry Blast, or whatever they’re vaping, is way more pleasant than standing next to somebody exhaling smoke from a combustible cigarette,” observed Minton.

Here’s a question for all of you True Believers; here is the United States Constitution.  Show me in there where the Imperial government has the power to rule over tobacco or other, similar substances.

Couldn’t find it?  Me either.  Anyway…

Its interesting to see how many of our supposed betters feel the compelling need to nanny other folks.  As a casual smoker myself (2-3 cigars a week) I can say honestly that my cigars are a choice I make, knowing the risks, and enjoying a fine smoke in moderation is something I will continue to do.

But the anti-vaping RHEEEE is something I find baffling.  It seems to me that vaping is a valuable tool for helping long-term smokers wean themselves off cigarettes; I would have thought government would want to encourage that.  As for teenagers, would you rather a booming black market grow around vaping – or tobacco?  Because that’s what would happen.

Trust me on this.  When I was in high school in the Seventies, marijuana was very illegal, especially for teens, and yet, nobody had any trouble getting a dime bag if they wanted one.

Maybe someday the nanny-staters will learn.

Animal’s Daily Ironic News

Irony, thy name is Tijuana.  Excerpt:

In blunt contrast to the warm reception thousands of migrants received as they made the arduous journey through Central America to Mexico – getting food donations and well wishes from locals – the nearly 3,000 people who reached the Mexican border with California in recent days have been met with marked hostility.

The majority of migrants, who have been on foot for more than a month, are sleeping on a dirt baseball field at an outdoor sports complex in Tijuana by the newly-fortified barbed wire fence that separates Mexico from the United States. A truck parked on the street is providing showers for women, while the men are told to use newly established outdoor showers near the field.

Reports of insults being shouted, rocks being hurled and even physical fist-fighting has escalated over the weekend.

The reception has left many in limbo – afraid to return to their homeland, which for the vast majority is Honduras, yet unwelcome in Mexico and uncertain if their U.S. asylum requests will be granted. The U.S is said to be processing around 100 claims per day.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has referred to the arrivals as “bums” and questioned whether a referendum in the city of 1.6 million is needed to determine whether or not they should be allowed to stay.

“Human rights should be reserved for righteous humans,” Gastelum lamented last week.

How do you say schadenfreude in Spanish?

Here’s what the article linked above misses.  When they make this statement:  In blunt contrast to the warm reception thousands of migrants received as they made the arduous journey through Central America to Mexico – getting food donations and well wishes from locals

Those people didn’t necessarily get a “warm welcome” from those mostly impoverished locals.  They got a “keep on moving” from those locals.  I suspect the predominant attitude was feed them, find them a ride, and move them along.

In any case, the blanket offer of asylum from the Mexican government has invalidated any claim any of these people have on the United States.  They fled their home countries – while waving the flags of those countries – to demand accommodation in the United States.  But now they are running into a border fortified with concertina wire (and trust me, that stuff is no fun) and an administration determined to make them follow American law for entry or go home.

But the Mexican response in Tijuana – that’s a game-changer.  Now the “asylum-seekers” are camping in their neighborhoods, and wandering around their neighborhoods.  It’s going to be very, very interesting to see how this unfolds.

Animal’s Daily Friend Zone News

Suffering from a shortage of good friends?  Turns out folks may like you more than you think.

Or do they?  Excerpt:

Erica Boothby of Cornell University, and her colleagues Gus Cooney, Gilliam Sandstrom, and Margaret Clark, of Harvard University, University if Essex, and Yale University, conducted a series of studies to find out what our conversation partners really think of us. In doing so, they discovered a new cognitive illusion they call “the liking gap:” our failure to realize how much strangers appreciate our company after a bit of conversation.

The researchers observed the disconnect in a variety of situations: strangers getting acquainted in the research laboratory, first-year college students getting to know their dorm mates over the course of many months, and community members meeting fellow participants in personal development workshops. In each scenario, people consistently underestimated how much others liked them.

The discrepancy in perspectives happened for conversations that spanned from 2 minutes to 45 minutes, and was long-lasting. For much of the academic year, as dorm mates got to know each other and even started to develop enduring friendships, the liking gap persisted. 

The data also revealed some of the potential reasons for the divide: we are often harsher with ourselves than with others, and our inner critic prevents us from appreciating how positively other people evaluate us. Not knowing what our conversation partners really think of us, we use our own thoughts as a proxy—a mistake, because our thoughts tend to be more negative than reality.

We’re social animals, that’s for sure and for certain.  And reading this was interesting for me, a peripatetic consultant, a guy who has been happily self-employed for over fifteen years and who has been pretty good at it.  In the course of this I’ve learned a few things, not least of which was how to talk with folks.  Why is this important?

Because people like to do business with people they like.

Social discourse is important to almost everyone, and for a variety of reasons.  But for those of us who make their livings as independent contractors, it’s essential.  I’m apparently lucky to have been outfitted since my youth with what Mrs. Animal describes as “farm-boy charm” but the main thing in such matters is to be open, honest and forthright.

People like to do business with people they like.  And, as we are social animals – and political animals – people who engage are usually seen as more likable.

If these Ivy League researchers had’a asked me, I could’a told ’em.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Since the city of Los Angeles has apparently solved every other problem a major city could have, they are now taking steps to ban fur.  Yes, really.  Excerpt:

A proposal to ban the sale of fur products advanced in the City Council on Tuesday. The council voted unanimously to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance that will prohibit the manufacture and sale of new fur products. The ordinance must be presented to the council at a future date for final approval.

“This is something that is not just a good legislative win, it’s a moral win,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said. “We feel like we’re evolving as a city as people to stop this kind of unnecessary cruelty.”

The vote also directed the city attorney to report back to the council on several issues, including how fur apparel is utilized by religious organizations, and possible exemptions, as well as potential conflicts with federal and state laws relating to sale of fur products derived from legally trapped animals.

A ban would take effect two years after final approval of the ordinance.

The ban would cover apparel made in whole or in part of fur, including clothing, handbags, shoes, hats, earmuffs, jewelry and keychains. Only used fur products could be sold.

Councilmen Bob Blumenfield and Paul Koretz submitted the motion.

Blumenfield said there’s no reason to wear fur in 2018. “Certainly not in sunny Los Angeles,” he said.

I have a reason for you, Mr. Blumenfield:  Because fuck you, that’s why.

There’s nothing like the real thing, baby.

This is what happens, True Believers, when a paternalistic, statist government runs amok and has to control every aspect of people’s lives – including, now, what clothing they choose to buy with their own money.

What’s it going to be next?  Outlawing anything not certified “organic” or “free trade?”  How about outlawing the products of Asian sweatshops, which will eliminate, oh, maybe 50 to 75% of the clothing sold in the United States?

Or how about just telling idiot, intrusive local pols that they should get a long running start and go fuck themselves?

Rule Five WTF Vermont Friday

The Democratic Primaries for Governor in Vermont is, apparently, a real shit-show.  But the nuttiest thing about it is that there is a fourteen-year old kid on the ballot, and, predictably, he’s a statist lefty.  Excerpt:

Ethan Sonneborn, 14, of Bristol, met the requirements to be on the primary ballot and is taking his place with the state’s more age-appropriate candidates on the Tuesday primary ballot, to say nothing of numerous candidate forums and debates.

“I think Vermonters should take me seriously because I have practical progressive ideas, and I happen to be 14, not the other way around,” Sonneborn said in a recent televised gubernatorial forum. “I think that my message and my platform transcend age.”

The Vermont Constitution doesn’t have an age requirement for people seeking the state’s highest office beyond having lived in the state for four years before the election. Sonneborn qualifies.

That apparent oversight by the state’s founders more than 225 years ago was enough to encourage the politically precocious teen to collect the signatures needed to place him on the primary ballot.

He said he’s always been fascinated with the concept of building coalitions. Robert F. Kennedy was the politician who most embodies that for him.

Note:  There’s no such thing as a “practical progressive idea.”  Here’s the best bit, though; his competition:

It might be a stretch, though, to call the other candidates traditional politicians.

Former utility executive Christine Hallquist says her experience and ideas make her the best choice as Vermont’s next governor, but outside Vermont she’s pitching herself as someone who would, if elected, become the nation’s first transgender political candidate. There is also James Ehlers, an environmentalist, Brenda Siegel, a dance festival organizer.

So Vermont Democrats have a choice between a utility executive – someone who has actually done something, but seems to be banking on transgender status as a campaign point, when in fact it’s irrelevant; an “environmentalist,” which isn’t exactly a career field, and a (ha!) dance festival organizer.

Come on, Vermont.  You can do better than this.

Sonneborn, on the other hand, appears to be representative of the old political saw attributed to Winston Churchill:  “If a man at twenty is not a liberal, then he has no heart.  If a man at forty is not a conservative, then he has no brain.”  Well, I’m way past forty and remain, as I was at twenty, not really a conservative but rather a minarchist libertarian; but it’s true that most folks’ views moderate with age.  Let’s hope this kid gets his shit together as he gets older – and smarter.

Animal’s Daily Scamming The Rubes News

Lacking any religion of my own makes me impartial on the subject, but I’ll be the first to admit that all religions are not created equal; and Scientology strikes me as the purest of corral litter, suitable only for enriching cornfields.  Now we can take a look inside one of Scientology’s E-Meters, and we find that it – like most of Scientology as a whole – is the purest of bullshit.  Excerpt:

E-Meters are essentially ways of measuring electrodermal activity, or the ebb-and-flow of electrical activity on the surface of the skin. For scientologists, this measurement is interpreted as a way to “see a thought,” similar to a lie detector, although there is no scientific evidence to back up the Church’s claims. Over the years there have been several versions of the E-Meter produced by the Church of Scientology, which sells E-Meters to members for thousands of dollars apiece.

Although the Church attempts to stop former Scientologists from selling E-Meters on eBay, there are dozens of listings for E-Meters selling for a few hundred dollars each. Recently, the Swiss maker behind the Play With Junk YouTube channel decided to pick up a used version of the E-Meter that the Church used until around 2006.

Here’s the conclusion:

It’s a lot of hardware for a device whose only use is measuring the electrical resistance of human skin. Although Play With Junk is impressed with the quality of the hardware components, he said the device is “certainly not worth thousands of dollars—maybe two hundred dollars or something like that.”

In other words, the “Church” of Scientology is ripping people off, and calling it religion.

This isn’t anything new.  The “televangelist” craze of the 1970s and 1980s had their bad actors, a few of whom actually served jail time for fraud and tax evasion.  But the Elmer Gantry set seems like a minority in mainstream Christianity, although some of them amass some pretty substantial fortunes at the expense of their mostly working-class parishioners.

But the horseshit Church of Scientology seems especially egregious, with their bizarre ramblings of extraterrestrial beings and “thetans,” and the gobs of pseudo-scientific woo they use to extract money from the rubes.

It’s amazing, really, that anyone in this modern era is silly enough to believe this kind of bullshit.  But there are still Flat-Earthers out there.  It seems there is no idea so bizarre that some horse’s ass won’t believe in it.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I’ve discussed the likelihood of a possible breakup of the United States before in these virtual pages before, but here’s a pretty interesting take on the topic.  Excerpt:

The problem? In short, there are no red states; there are no blue states. There are instead, counties and neighborhoods and streets and the couch versus the bedroom after an argument with a spouse or significant other over political matters.

“And so what?” asks the Pollyanna-ish reader. He (or the rarer idiot she) observes, “We split up and then there’s no more reason to fight?”

That’s wrong for several reasons. One is that it is the moderate and right-wing tendency in the red areas that politically constrains the left-wing tendency of the blue. Remove the red from the blue and the real reds of the bluest blue states run amok, with moderates and moderation suppressed.

Think here: Stalin in Birkenstocks, the spirit of Ho Chi Minh coming down from his gas tank in Boston,4 or a Pol Pot cognate with a degree in journalism from Harvard or Yale, rather than École Française d’Électronique et d’Informatique. Remember, too, that Bill Ayers’ Weatherman expected and, I daresay, wanted to kill twenty-five million Americans, one in eight of the population, one in five adults, to create their preferred society.

It should not need to be said, in a world of bright people, but, sadly, we don’t live in that world: I am pretty sure that the same happens in the red states, where the removal of the political Left leaves all kinds of wingnuts, to include of the white-sheeted, pointy-hatted variety, to create or recreate their own particular fantasies, and run roughshod over moderates there.

Yes, it’s true; a major societal collapse, and a civil war sure as hell would be one of those, would be a shitshow beyond imagining; and yes, it’s very likely that in plenty of areas the nuts would rise to the top.  Plenty of areas would be run, not by elected leaders, but by warlords who managed to accumulate enough guns and followers to cow the rest of the population.

It’s just too bad that some folks have some weird idea that a civil war would be some glorious reclamation of the United States’ founding principles.  It wouldn’t be the beginning of a renewed U.S., it would be the end of the U.S. in any recognizable form.  I’m not saying it will never happen; I am saying I hope I don’t live to see it.