February 25, 2018

A Few Santa Clause Nightmares

Filed under: Uncategorized — Benjamin Vulpes @ 11:42 p.m.

This past holiday season, I relented on my lifelong grinchdom. My tiny family had a rough autumn in the family-planning arena, and I elected to cheer up my girl by embracing the spirit of teh season, and it warnt all bad at that1. I held the line at indoor trees and other assorted messes that inevitably fall to me to clean up (Aesthetics proposes, Operations disposes...), but conceeded to pitch in to the tune of watching the child while ladybird hung lights on the front of the house2 and even greenlit various wreaths and a seasonal mantle decoration. Love and filth, filth and love; at least I've managed to teach an old dog the new trick of sleeping in his own damn bed.

Watching terrible nineties films is apparently a very important part of Christmas For Americans, and so along with some other dreck (not counted among, The [1992] Muppet Christmas Carol, which has a marvelously dim view of Dickensian life), I watched The Santa Clause3. The movie itself is nothing to write home about, but the girl and I baked a few alt fanfics that I still chuckle at from time to time lo these months later. So, for your enjoyment, some Santa Clause Nightmares.

Santa Clause 2: The Patricide

At the close of The Santa Clause, the child character who's just like every other virtuous child character in every American movie states that he "wants to go into the family business". After the extremely stressful events of The Santa Clause, the subsequent nasty divorce, mom and stepdad's unrelenting shittiness to Tim Allen/Santa Claus and the kid in question whenever he stands up for his father, the eventual rot of mom's new marriage etc; kiddo grows up to be a total shitbag. The twisted adolescent interprets the titular clause to mean that in order to a) free his father from the unending labor that is annual gift-delivery and b) go into the family business he must kill his father and put the suit on. So he does.

The Eternal Deliveryman

Santa's magical powers are twofold: flying the sleigh and freezing time so that he can deliver all the presents (all moments where he is depicted meeting a child are wistful self-sabotage, longing for a touch of the human while he executes his eternal duty). While time is frozen, Mr. Claus is limited to moving about the world at the subjective speed that a team of reindeer could pull a sleigh on the ground; which is not particularly fast. Nevertheless, he must deliver all presents to all children in the world while moving at this subjectively glacial pace.

Net result: Santa endures an eternity delivering presents every year, gliding from house to house while the rest of the world sits frozen, with only the occasional glance at a Tussaudly snapshot of fireside rumpy-pumpy, occasionally relaxing the time-freeze for a precious moment of interaction with an innocent bairn. After this annual eternity of isolation from all elven contact, he returns to the North Pole for a subjective weekend (a year in mortal time) of rest and recuperation while the elves pack his sleigh for the next outing.

Death of a Santa Claus

Tim Allen plays a paranoid schizophrenic who thinks he's Santa. The show is shot from his perspective, complete with embellished court dates, meetings with the divorce lawyers and CPS representatives. The third act of the movie enters his final dreams as he freezes to death in Central Park, imagining a grand reconciliation, introducing the elves to his ex-wife, winning shared custody, proving to everyone that he actually was Santa Claus all along, and validating the love of his son.

Happy Holidays.

  1. Stan Kenton has a few charmingly kitschy big-band Christmas albums. His "Twelve Nights" is particularly entertaining, gets the whole band involved over the course of the (entirely over-the-top) verses. []
  2. "You get up there and hang lights already! I intend to keep my hands nicely warm down here on the lawn with child duty." We live on a busy street, it is what it is. The landlord will install a fence this spring, which should dial down the necessary amount of alert one has to be while gardening or hanging lights. Such are the upsides of renting from actual humans instead of corporations. []
  3. 1994, with Tim Allen and a bunch of other people I also don't recognize or care about because my parents failed to innoculate me with American Culture(s). []

February 22, 2018

Why are the kids hell-bent on killing each other?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Benjamin Vulpes @ 7:36 a.m.

...being an interesting question, unlike "how do we reduce firearm-related fatalities?". The political issue of gun control, much like the political issue of abortion is one of those interesting fnords where what the Lippmans have gotten you thinking about has approximately zero to do with the events, and anyone who's so damned foolish as to self-importantly advocate in any direction on the topic of gun control in the aftermath of, say, a school shooting, is simply playing into the hands of a political machine built on cagily partitioning the voting moocows into two numerically nearly equal groups, and is doomed to never grok the inconsequentiality of their bleating. The root problem that nobody's ever going to bring up is that there is too much flabby man-meat sitting around being useless and everyone knows it in their gut, but can't articulate it because That Would Be Wrong. I immodestly propose that more war and explicit hierarchical structurings of society is a far better solution than "gun control".

Look, America is a colossally fucked-up place, with national narratives fabricated wholesale from the lottery that is pop culture. Our kids want to kill each other; that's the interesting thing. Ease of access to firearms is maaaaaybe possibly relevant in some way, but you gotta realize that's an untestable claim, that you'd have to unravel the fabric of American political reality just to run the experiment, and far more likely to turn around and show that we've hosed our kids so badly they're happy to build bombs in their basements absent ready access to firearms in any event.

No, the reason why US kids are shoosting up their own schools and cohort mates is because they live in an utterly impossible nonsensical and self-contradictory world, and some fraction of them see right through the lies we feed them, can't cope with the contradiction and instead of killing themselves, try to take out as many of the unthinking dreamers as they can. "Education is your ticket out of the ghetto!", we tell them, while caging them in statal daycares that even the brightest cannot emerge from capable of performing undergraduate work on par with the college-going segment of our parents' generation, and then lefties have the utter absence of self-awareness to be horrified that the kids drop out in favor of sports and mass entertainment; without ever realizing that as desperate as the odds of draft picks, college recruitment, and pop culture are, they still beat the everloving shit out of failing out of college with thirty thousand dollars in debt. "Men and women are equal!", we tell them, and then the girls we trained to "lean in" take a step back in their thirties and realize that they can't find a mate much less actually afford to raise the children outside the nightmare daycares. "The world is getting better and less racist every day! Look, we had a black president! And soon we'll have a female president!" Har. I hope it's Oprah; we need some more magical thinking in the White House.

It's 2018, and lest I trigger the "oh my god do we really still have to do this" immune reaction, I'm supposed to toe the party line that men and women have absolutely no differences that aren't acculturated into them and so don't actually matter. "If you can't see how the patriarchy makes us this way and not any sort of evolutionary pressure, YOU'RE A PART OF THE PROBLEM!!!1", but maybe evolution itself is a patriarchical shitlord, just spitballing over here. Nevertheless, boys are violent and girls aren't. "Girls are violent too, but they're socialized to be emotionally violent, and mostly to each other." Doesn't seem like a particularly clean bijective mapping, to me. Also, that seems like the sort of dynamic that would arise from one sex having hundreds of times the reproductive capacity of the other sex; that the plentiful (and therefore cheap) sex would be more prone to being spent by the meta-forces of culture and nation and ethnicity and what have you to preserve themselves, and the more dear sex (the one whose reproductive throughput is, how you say, the limiting reactant for outcompeting other groups in the long run) less prone to engaging in extremely risky behavior. Is it really such a baffling thing that most armies were mostly male? Dudes are useless, and isn't Twitter feminism constantly telling us that anyways? "White men are traaaaaash", they fry. How is it that y'all fail to connect the dots here? Yes, we're violent trash. The next question that occurs to me and I suppose nobody else in this godforsaken country is "well how are we going to harness and dispose of all the excess floppy man meat?" and very definitely not "how do we turn these turds into diamonds?"

Upstack, in the frame of "just why are they so intent on killing each other", perhaps it's not so much that they're intent on killing each other as it is that the trends Putnam called out in Bowling Alone had eroded what little cultural imperative to not rampage about with an automatic at school America had left by 2007 when the handset/social media industrial complex was just getting into swing. Surely you've felt that sense of alienation while driving in rush hour, or negotiating the subway; I certainly did before I did away with the commute entirely. Folks on the road behave miserably to one another because (in a dilute form of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory): license plates are entirely unmemorable, you'll never see the same people twice during your commute, and extracting trivial gains has ridiculously outsize psychological import to a significant fraction of the idiots stuck in traffic on the regular. Rush-hour-grade aggression is uncommon on even rush-hour trains but you're still going to encounter folks clipping their nails and blasting the latest recycled pap. Add a pocket-sized internet terminal, America's best and brightest dedicated to the production of ever swoopier Skinner boxes substituting pictures of friends for fornication with friends or even just making eye contact with them while they talk, a liberal dash of the old suburban alienation, shake for eight years and I gotta ask why is this kind of violence even surprising? I'm getting Black Lives Matter deja-vu all over again; "you idiots never actually listened to rap music, did you, you just heard one of your trigger words and then your brain shut off before you heard the odes to how shitty life is for black Americans". I struggle to believe that kids even concieve of other people as real in 2018. I'd ask where the calls for "portable touchscreen control" are, but I went to my neighborhood cafe where they know my whole family yesterday, this couple sat at a table together swiping on their phones for the ENTIRE duration of my visit so nevermind, nobody's giving up their iPhones, not even to save the world much less their own lives.

So boys are violent, and the Jobs/Zuck machine has eroded what little human connection the poor kids had, and now they have zero compunction about plugging each other for kicks. Greaaat. Since I'm on the topic of boys and violence, how fucking pathetic is it that we've engaged in a 2-decade foreign entanglement and we have gotten no gold out of the arrangement, and our technology is so damn hot that we also haven't burnt off any of our excess man meat? Are you familiar with the trope of sending the kids outside to run around the block a few times to burn off steam? Well I hazard that the lack of such at the national level is the crux of everything that's fucked about this country. It turns out that we don't actually need that much guyflesh around to ensure the propagation of whatever groupings, and moreover while there are always trash people with whom nobody wants to mate, the fraction is on the order of 70% for guys and 30% for women (variance being higher in the male sex). You get out and talk to women, right? You ask them about their boyfriends, or their dating habits and whether they're pleased with that which is on offer? Obviously you don't, but assuming you did you'd learn what I've learned which is that most American girls are utterly starved for quality males, and it's because American guys are trash. Most of us have never taken any risks (no, $80,000 in college debt doesn't count as a risk, you got fleeced, chucklefuck), had any adventures, have any interesting stories to relate or interesting things to show a girl. No, the fancy restaurant that just opened up that cooks shit from the high-end Sysco brand doesn't count either! She's seen something almost exactly like it five times already this month and already hates you just hearing where you're taking her.

The correct organizing principle is for men to be cheap to society and valuable to women; and for women to be dear to society and cheap to men. The corololzy is that because they're going to crap out a lot more boys than y'all need, it's utterly imperative to winnow. So, war now?

I did dream up an alternative the other night, and by "modern progressive standards" it is a B+ would-relive-again nightmare. Post megastate-collapse society restructures around individuals who build power bases around capital equipment, control of important territory, or any of the classic loci; the scale of these organizations range from ~fifteen bruisers and a tactician all the way up to veritable lords of the land with a castle or three and a small standing army constantly whacking itself with itself. Everyone has sex with whomever they wish within the constraints of the situation (clearly there's slavery, there's also chattel labor, perhaps some of the bruisers are posessive of their stable, the world probably supports a exciting cornucopia of different arrangements after lifting the statal boot grinding us all into an undifferentiated paste of monogamybeerandsports), perhaps Bitcoin mining truly runs on abaci and optical relay networks and so we can still have some good things without condoms, but this shouldn't be a problem for the well-capitalized (by which I mean "can afford to plan on twenty year horizons"), as another set of hands can always be put to work washing sheets, milking cows, banging on steel things, training with the squads, or laboring in the vehiclesalvagewerks. Children grow up barely cognizant of their parents (if they even know each other), and get put to work by whichever adult grabs their ears that day if the kid in question want to eat until they find a home in the barracks, kitchen or wherever. They break their necks in combat training or drop an engine block on themselves, and that's life. It's cheap. Hopefully the org doesn't waste too many potential breeders this way, but it shouldn't matter because you're cranking new ones out all the time anyways. Population overgrowth might be a thing, but that's what war is for!

Hey, that you think that I'm horrifically sexist for sharing this dream is only indicative of your internal state, not mine. It's entirely statistically possible for babes to make good in the bruiser squads, or to operate trade delegations, work the motorcycles, or to perform the accounting. It'd be downright foolish to let any teachable intelligence go to waste in such a world! Or to burden it with diaper-changing...

It's a delightful solution to all of the American systematics. Education is reserved for those whom it'd benefit, as chosen by their elders instead of being a daycare, so we've solved the school shootings problem, and also the absurd costs of putting the entire population through what is called "education" but clearly is not. Excess manflesh (okay you got me, the assault squads were mostly male in this dream) has productive outlet for its violent tendencies through regular beatings of each other and the odd murderous caper. The girls get guys they actually want instead of the stagnant doom of monogamy-for-all, diversity in the gene pool blooms and we regularly cull the dead weight.

Poor odds that I'll live to see it, though.