Category Archives: Totty

Who doesn’t love pretty girls?

Rule Five Fleecing the Rubes Friday

Programming note:  At the moment this post goes live Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. will be aloft in the Friendly Skies, off to a brief yet fun-filled adventure; watch this space next week for details.

Moving along:  As documented by ArsTechnica, our old nemesis Gwyneth Paltrow is back with a new Netflix series, and she’s just as batshit crazy as ever – or is she?  Excerpt, with a few comments:

In Netflix’s own words, the show intends to guide “deeply inquisitive” (my ass) viewers through “boundary-pushing wellness topics,” such as “energy healing and psychics.” The show—like Goop—appears to be largely aimed at women, and the trailer’s release was accompanied by an image of Paltrow appearing to descend into an artist’s rendition of a vagina.

Goop critics were quick to decry the show, arguing that—like the brand—it actually intends to guide exploitable viewers (read “exploitable” as “stupid”) through unproven and potentially dangerous health practices, such as the same garbage Goop has been promoting for years. And the show—like Goop—claims to “empower” women only by convincing them to try dubious treatments and products.

Critics on Twitter have been particularly merciless at trashing and mocking the show (and Goop) all day. The announcements of the show’s trailer have been bombarded with disapproving memes, viewers noping out, and messages scolding Netflix for getting involved with the notorious business. (The responses were overwhelmingly negative, but there were some solid puns in there, too.)

Despite the swift backlash online, the most cutting and concise critiques of the show seem to appear in the trailer itself. As the teaser notes, the unproven wellness practices and products shown are “unregulated” and simply “dangerous.”

In one clip, Paltrow herself asks one of the show’s guests “what the fuck are you doing to people?”

Yet, the trailer also offers Paltrow’s justification for the show’s—and Goop’s—existence. In an apparent rejoinder to the unspoken-yet-blaring question of “dear lord, why?”, Paltrow explains: “We’re here one time, one life. How can we really milk the shit out of this?”

Note that last quote from Ms. Paltrow.  Here it is again:

Paltrow explains: “We’re here one time, one life. How can we really milk the shit out of this?”

Well, let’s give her some points for being unintentionally honest for once.

I’ve long said that there is some point at which fools and their money deserve to be parted, and make no mistake, those are precisely the kind of fools that are Gwyneth’s target audience for this latest outpouring of woo.  And as a staunch minarchist, I can only reaffirm that caveat emptor applies here, and stupid people will usually get what’s coming to them.

But, as I’ve mused before, I have to wonder about Ms. Paltrow’s motivations here.  Is she really dumb enough to believe in the ridiculous snake oil she hawks?  Or is she, as she unwittingly let slip, just milking the shit out of this for big fat sacks of cash?  Honestly, is Gwyneth a simpleton, or is she secretly thinking “I can make huge bags of cash off these morons?”

And what the fuck, Netflix?  Why on earth would you give a platform to this enormous outpouring of absolute, steaming horseshit?  How much is Gwyneth paying you for another opportunity to sell jade vagina eggs and $85 plastic water bottles with healing crystals in them?

ArsTechnica concludes:  With the new show, Paltrow remains steadfast. In a statement to Cosmopolitan, Paltrow said that the show takes the same “open-minded approach that we’ve cultivated at Goop and applied a different, visual lens with Netflix.”

This, True Believers, is a textbook case of folks’ minds being so open that their brains have actually fallen out.

Rule Five Cultural Regions Friday

Ever wondered what the United States would look like if it was broken up into several different nations, by cultural and not necessarily geographical lines?  Well, and of Business Insider may have some thoughts on that.

I found this interesting; this is the article’s map of North America, broken down by cultural regions (image taken directly from the linked article).

Excerpts, with my comments:

In his fourth book, “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America,” award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US.

“The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty,” Woodard, a Maine native who won the 2012 George Polk Award for investigative reporting, told Business Insider. “[But] in order to have any productive conversation on these issues,” he added, “you need to know where you come from.”

You also have to have some idea where you’re going and why; differing visions on that score are a big part of what the authors point out next.

Woodard also believes the nation is likely to become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse place every day. He says this is because people are “self-sorting.”

“People choose to move to places where they identify with the values,”  Woodard says. “Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller.”

Which self-sorting, I might point out, is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.  But here’s what’s interesting; here are the summaries of the upper Midwest, where I grew up, and the Mountain West, where I live now:

Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society that spawned the culture of the “American Heartland.” Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands “America’s great swing region.” Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

I have to strongly question any cultural grouping that can claim Iowa and New Jersey share much of anything, culturally.  Iowa is as the article states; mostly moderate politically, and government regulation is mostly frowned on (except where farm subsidies are involved.)   But New Jersey?  Government interference in all matters is welcomed and celebrated, and political opinions are anything but moderate; as evidence, just look at most of their laws and elected officials.

The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to “resent” the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. The Far West spans several states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and California.

In the article, the authors point out that “California” as described herein does not include what is called “the Left Coast,” which encompasses Los Angeles, San Francisco, and indeed most of the west coast.  That being the case, this grouping I would broadly agree with; the West in this case also includes Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

What all this points up is something I’ve been saying for some years now: The differences dividing the nation today are cultural, and geographical, but not in the sense they were before the 1860-65 war.  Our differences today are geographical in a much finer-grained sense; look at the map, and you’ll see that the divides are largely major urban centers vs. everyone else.

If things ever got really nasty in this cultural clash, the major cities might have some hard lessons coming in how easy it is to eat when the outlying areas get pissed off enough to block trade.  That, folks, would be a damned unpleasant time, and while I think it’s unlikely in the extreme that things escalate to that point…  Well, I wouldn’t want to be in New York, Chicago, Detroit or San Francisco if it did.

Rule Five Income Inequality Friday

Thanks as always to our pals over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!

Here’s another take on “income inequality,” and on why it’s not as big a problem as the daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont, Princess Spreading Bull, Occasional Cortex and others would have us believe.  Read the excerpts below and, indeed, the whole article, and then I’ll give my opinion, which is that “income inequality” isn’t a problem at all.

Income cannot be measured precisely. There are definitional issues such as how to define “household” and how to treat unrealized capital gains, non-market transactions such as childcare provided by a stay-home parent and negative taxes like the Earned Income Tax Credit. And there are measurement issues like how to track income from the underground economy and to get accurate information from people who may be evading taxes or protecting privacy.

Finally, the goal is not clear. We want everyone to have enough for comfort and dignity, but do we want wealth equality between someone who works hard to become a world-class surgeon and her brother who only surfs and loafs? Should government clerks with secure jobs, good benefits and 9 to 5 hours earn the same as people who found and run successful businesses? Should people with expensive tastes be allowed to work hard to buy champagne and Teslas, while others can afford only beer and Chevys but can sleep later and spend more time with their kids?

And:

However you feel about any of those proposals, or others, it’s clear that the social problems caused by the economy in the United States should not be viewed through a lens of simple generalized inequality, with crude redistribution the only solution. Low-income and high-income people each, on average, consume adequate amounts for dignified comfort; as do earners and non-earners. There are plenty of social and economic problems to tackle—people missed by government benefits either accidentally or on purpose, economic insecurity even among people with enough to spend today, government programs that make things worse, racism, sexism, crime and discriminatory criminal justice, child abuse and neglect, to name a few—but lumping them all together as inequality and promising to soak the rich until they go away is misguided.

Here’s the problem:  Too many politicians – people who set policy and make laws – think that inequality is a problem, that the problems of the poor and somehow caused by the existence of the rich.  There are a few deep, fundamental flaws with this thinking:

  1. The economy isn’t a zero-sum game.  If it were, then, as this article points out, one person could only amass wealth at the expense of others.  But that’s not how this works.  Wealth is created and earned, not distributed.  We don’t have to divide the pie into smaller or more equal pieces; we can make a bigger pie.
  2. Wealth and income aren’t the same thing.  Wealth can be the result of income, but it’s not synonymous with income.  A person can be “wealthy” while having a relatively low income; a person who owns a large farm, for example, may be “wealthy” in the sense that they own assets worth a great deal, but they may still have a modest income.  That’s a key difference that many, most notably Lieawatha Warren, don’t seem to understand.
  3. “Redistribution” won’t solve the perceived issue, because most causes of income/wealth inequality are either age-related or behavioral.  Most people move through income levels as they grow, as they go through life.  Myself, for example.  At 20, I had a young wife, a baby daughter, and not a pot to piss in.  Now, I’m pushing sixty, in my peak earning years, Mrs. Animal and I are empty-nesters with a good nest egg and a substantial net worth.  Why?  Because we have worked hard, saved and made good choices; which brings us to the behavioral aspect.  A major cause of “inequality” is that rich people will always do things that make them rich, while poor people will continue to do things that make them poor.

That last bit, item #3, is key.  That’s why redistribution schemes will never solve anything; moving money by force in an economy is like shoveling flies across a barn.  Wealth is generally gained by people who make good decisions and lost by people who make bad decisions; but the only time wealth or income is gained by some at the expense of others is when government confiscates it by force and gives it to those who did not earn it.

Income or wealth redistribution by force means that one portion of the population is compelled, by threat of force, to labor involuntarily on the behalf of others.  The only proper response to such redistribution schemes is “fuck off, slavers!”

Rule Five 2019 Reflections Friday

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is only a few days from being over.  It seems like we just got here.

The year began on a sad note with the loss of my Mom, only a few months after Dad left us the previous spring.  But my siblings and I chose, instead of mourning, to reflect on and feel good about the long, long, happy lives our parents had together in their seventy-one years of marriage.

And as if to show that the wheel always keeps turning, in October we welcomed a new grandson to the family.  This makes five grandchildren Mrs. Animal and I have to spoil, with the oldest graduating high school in a year and a half.  Grandparenting is, as they say, the revenge we get for having been parents; but I think it’s a lot more than that.  Being Grandpa is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever done, along with being a Dad; fortunately I learned about both things from the very best.

A few things about 2019 were frustrating.  We spent too much of the year in the leftist’s paradise of New Jersey, although I have to admit I’m kind of fond of Raritan, where are temporary lodgings are located; if only it wasn’t in New Jersey it would be a nice little town.  As a result of this, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at the gun club as I would have liked, and the trips I did get to make out there to the trap stands tell me that my shooting has slipped a little.  I should have more time in 2020 to get back in that groove.

Because of that, there are probably a few high-country trout that lived to swim another day rather than ending up in my stream-side frying pan.  Let’s hope that changes in 2020 as well.

Mrs. Animal have started taking advantage of our empty-nester status to check some boxes off on our travel bucket list.  March saw us in Tokyo for a week; it’s odd that while I’m an unrepentant country boy with very little love for cities, there are a few big cities I have always enjoyed.  Boston is one.  Tokyo is another.  Fortunately Mrs. Animal is competent in conversational Japanese, which makes things a great deal easier.

In July we took advantage of the east coast location and drove up north of Montreal to the little town of Ste. Agnes du Mont in Quebec, up in the Laurentides.  While the fishing was disappointing, the folks were very friendly, the food and beer was great, and the country was beautiful.  Mrs. Animal got to practice her high-school French.  It was fun.  We’d like to go back.

So, looking ahead to this year:  2020 promises to be interesting.

We have some more travel plans laid on; details will follow, so look forward to some insights and stories from some interesting places.  Hint:  Our travelogues will probably include discussions of food and beer.

Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder elk/deer hunt down in southern Colorado this year, somewhere down along the New Mexico border; after last year we decided that a change of scenery was in order, and the September black-powder season comes along with some pretty nice shirt-sleeve weather.

The current project I’m on is going to last a while.  I’m expecting it to last at least through December of 2021, but our current lease on the temporary New Jersey digs ends in May.  We’re hoping that at this time we’ll be able to pull out of there and return home more or less full-time, with me spending maybe a week a month on site.  But I’m a long-time consultant, and one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I will always do what’s best for the project, rather than what suits my own druthers; so, we’ll see.

In summary:  2019 was pretty good.  2020 promises to be better still.  Mrs. Animal and I both sure hope that every one of you True Believers will have a great 2020; and I do appreciate, very much, all of you.  Thanks for reading (even if you just came for the pretty girls and stuck around to read my ramblings) and thanks for sticking around.  We’ll try to keep up to snuff in 2020 and points beyond.

Happy New Year!