7/23/2014

Camps for the noblesse oblige

In my humble opinion, if you wish to go to a camp catering to certain clientele, that's fine by me.  I would love to attend Rock and Roll fantasy camp IF i can afford the time and money.

Those who have that time and plenty of money already do so, by taking luxe shopping trips that would bust the pocketbooks of mere mortals.  In these days, however, special camps running in the tens of thousands of dollars also raise the jealousy factor from those who can't snap their fingers, get a copter to the Hamptons, ride purebred horses, and have their own bottle service at a swank restaurant - all at the age of 15.

A better camp would be sending these spoiled kids to poorer areas and make them appreciate what they have.  Give them a stipend of $200, force them to take low-wage jobs, and then attempt to stretch out a $220 after-tax paycheck for food, rent, and utilities.  Force them to see how the other half really lives - hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck - and you will see a change from asking for Daddy's platinum card to deciding that the Harvard MBA isn't as good as urban planning to prevent such horrors as open prostitution, drug use, and mental illness.  Instead of being a junior partner at a hedge firm, there could be good doctors, psychologists, and others who, unlike politicians who pay lip service, actually perform the service rather than raise their noses against them.

Or go to an authentic camp in the woods, with no chances to bury your face in your cellphone, no scripted reality TV shows, no doormen to shield you from the rain, where bottle service is Coke and there are no Twitter feeds, selfish selfies, obnoxious hash tags, and no way of staying out past midnight unless you like chancing it with bears, coyotes, and snakes; and the only long vehicle available is a canoe.

7/19/2014

Freedom vs. Control

When people speak about modern liberals, they really talk about those who wish to control people's lives or are sympathetic to those who do.

Michael Barone's column in the New York Post discusses how modern liberals of have dispensed with the true definition of liberal (which comes from the Latin adverb liberalis, which comes from the adjective liber, meaning free, and also derives the verb liberare (to free) and the noun libertas (liberty and freedom)) and applied radical leftist methods - no dissent being the most glaringly obvious - to warp its meaning.

Classical liberals would never even harbor the idea of worshiping dictators, wishing that one day, another Erich Honecker or Che Guevara would come forward and "liberate" America from its vices - capitalism, obesity, consumerism, et. al.  In this sense, the modern liberal is actually a radical that wants to release the oppressed and impoverished from weighty chains and convince the same to overthrow those who put those chains on them, and when victorious, the oppressed and impoverished find newer, tighter chains affixed on them.

But not all modern liberals wish to emulate Mao, Lenin, Marx and Stalin.  To a point, they're satisfied with being a control freak, even if a benign, well-meaning one.  They will not, however, go so far as to physically or mentally harm someone because that would throw them into a tizzy of lifetime guilt.  Nagging someone as a means to an end is fine; bludgeoning them to death is not.

The classical liberal today, ironically, is an amalgam of the libertarian and the independent.  Not only do they recognize the benefits of being free, but recognize it is best to leave other people alone in their choices.  It is not in their interest to disrupt and bully people into their way of thinking, even if they strongly disagree with them.  Not so the bolder, more cocky modern liberals - if they haven't guilt-tripped or terrorized someone into thinking their way, they haven't done their job.

7/17/2014

They do want her elected, don't they?

You have to admire the chutzpah and irony of the left-leaning wealthy.

Given that they seriously wish to draft Elizabeth Warren for the 2016 election and her shrill preachings about "millionaires and billionaires" is a sign they want someone clueless enough to keep their wealth rolling in while taking it away from others.

To wit: the people Elizabeth Warren really excoriates aren't ones who are hide-bound ideologues like her, ones who don't spend their bountiful time writing screeds in the newspaper, and ones who work hard for that money, not through some kind of phony transubstansiation like trust funds, redistribution, or patronage.

It's everyone else that deserve her wrath - not her fellow travelers. 

The symbiosis is striking: these wealthy activists are her perfect audience, and she's their perfect preacher - and puppet.  They want to continue cronyism and power, and no better way than with Warren.

Every time she squawks about "millionaires and billionaires," it quickly becomes an ironic symbol of someone who is enamored of being a scold.  She hopes her schoolmarm populism will bring her to higher office, and an army of warp-minded activists, militant unions, and slick,  deep-pocketed lobbyists will bring her there.

She will be sadly disappointed to discover that a cant phrase, repeated endlessly, soon is tuned out by those who aren't fellow hypocrites.

7/09/2014

The rise and fall of fad food

I never went to Crumbs, the now shuttered cupcake store, but I have the feeling its closure wasn't just because if a lack of interest.

Every fad has its expiration date - some arriving faster than others. and when it comes to food fads, they usually fall to either over saturation, copy-cats, self-righteous pressure, or quickly declining lack of interest.

When a food fad begins, people rave on how good the food is.  Then, the business expands to meet demand; the business can do no wrong. 

It's when the epiphanies come - either through a self-righteous crank believing that pleasure of an occasional treat is nutritional heresy and should be avoided, or that new management is only interested in more profits at the expense of quality - that the fad finally loses its luster.  Employees who put care into the product are replaced by sulking jobsworths whose only purpose is to roll their eyes and ignore you.  The product, once fresh and inviting, is no longer appealing.  Politicians with designs on more power play to the health lobbies, and identify the fad as one that must be eradicated "for the campaign chest, err, children."

Thus, products decline, customers dwindle, and stores close - only to be replaced with another fad to take its course.

Krispy Kreme is a prime example of a fad taking a parabolic trajectory of hype and declining just as spectacularly.  They advertised fresh hot donuts and people raved about them, until there were so many Krispy Kreme shops that over saturated the market.  Just as quickly, stores closed due to low sales and demand.

There are food fads that crest, but not to the point of extinction because the item is kept at arm's length from being a trendy fad.  The Cronut - croissant/donut - still exists, but it is expensive and tailored to discerning tastes.  To wit, the more snob appeal something has, the less likely it will become a fad, and thus cronuts and other upscale foods will keep from entering the mainstream - unless someone blabs about it.

Quinoa-wild rice muffins with Madagascar cinnamon and sour cherry reduction, anyone?

7/04/2014

Internet Demonstrative Pronoun Abuse

Websites aren't dumb when looking for web traffic.  They want to lure people to their site and get people to either read their article or buy their product.  Some websites, however, have taken to overusing the English language to luring people to their website, using "this" and "here."

"This" and "Here" are fine as demonstrative pronouns.  They indicate location ( "the pencil is right here", "This is my T-shirt"), so of course the occasional use of those pronouns is expected.

It's when they use them - or overuse them - for sensational effect

For example: which would draw you to clicking a link?  In mathematics, 1 + 1 = 2 is an 800 page proof, or Shocking!  This mathematician discovers the real truth about 1 + 1 = 2?

How about this one: Stock market bubble to burst once interest rates spike or Stock market crash coming!  Here's how...

In both instances, the sentences with "here" and "this" are hyped, only used to draw the reader into clicking the link.  It follows the same annoying path as "Wait...what?", "need to",  "X says yes/no" and every other gimmick in the arsenal of the less-than-sophisticated webpage author or media outlet.

And when you do click the link, the story is boring, already known, or so twee you want to find the Contact Us page and ream the authors for journalistic malpractice - unless their intent is to be terminally shallow.

Those pronouns, however, can also be used to deliver spam, malware, viruses, and other things that will render your computer inoperable.  If you don't want Dr. Oz diet pills, pyramid schemes, unwanted programs, and survey scams, best avoid anything that says "here" or "this" due to the "if it's too good to be true, it likely is" aegis.  Then you can tell the person repairing your computer and handing them a credit card, "This is why I shouldn't click links like this..."

6/28/2014

Beauty has no age

Anyone who's seen Sophia Loren lately would mistake her for a woman of her late 50s, perhaps early 60's (she will be or just turned 80).  Doris Day is 90 and still has that bright, appealing smile of her 40s.  Even Rita Moreno looks like she can outrun people a quarter of her age (83).

In Miss America pageants, the age limit (supposedly) is 25.  Hence, you get stripped of your crown if you're discovered to be 25 by the end of the year.  Miss Delaware found out the hard way, and what didn't help was the jobsworth response - "those are the rules, that's that, end of discussion."

For an organization that celebrates beauty, poise and charm to come up with that sclerotic response beggars belief.  If those are the rules, fine: tell the woman beforehand that if she turns 25, she cannot compete before the pageant occurs.  If she went through the pageant, got crowned, and then got dethroned because
the pageant directors didn't find out until later, then the deserve all the scorn they get.

The former Ms. Delaware has every right to plead her case to the public, but not to the point of being petty, unappreciative, and selfish.  A more tactful way would be to acknowledge disappointment, gracefully allow the runner-up to succeed her, and press for pageants with an older age group (e.g. Lady America, which contestants could be from 25 to 45).

There have been worse ways to lose a beauty pageant crown other than technicality.  Perhaps it's a good lesson for us all.

6/20/2014

Snob marketing's weasel words

Snob marketing is that which an a more upscale audience can purchase what they like without the "commoners" getting wind of it.  It's a way of getting people to buy more expensive things so that you can feel better about buying them.  The following are weasel words that get the tonier wallets to open further...

Sustainable
This word has quickly become a cliché and a codeword for "environmentally correct.". It is used to appeal to those sensitive to the fragility of the earth, as if the product were bestowed by Gaia and Tiny Tim (God rest his soul).  A wooden swing set is sustainable (until the termites get at it); underarm deodorant is not. A slightly more plausible use is to describe things that won't last long ("That business model is not sustainable", I.e. "you'll be declaring bankruptcy by the end of the week"), but only sparingly.

Locally sourced
Remember Ed MacMahon's spiel, "these envelopes have been hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar under Funk & Wagnall's porch, since noon today - only you know the contents inside?" before Carnac opened his envelopes?"  "Locally sourced" is a snob term for "we got it from an exclusive source not far from here, and as such it's expensive."  It also means not corporate, lest people get sick from the preservatives and additives these companies put in - like corn syrup or sugar.  Snobs revel in knowing their less-well-off neighbors can't afford exotic fruits and vegetables hermetically sealed in a , nor will they appreciate the subtle taste of quinoa oat cookies. 

Artisan
Artisan often implies hand-made items - like cymbals, clay pots, trellises, and Artisan foods are a fancy way of saying, "I made it myself...good luck if you don't get food poisoning."  (May a yak with a sinus infection be their attending physician at the ER.)

Fair Trade
Fair trade means that the workers who produce the goodies are treated fairly and are not subject to worker exploitation.  (That is, until someone finds out their wages are being pocketed by NGOs, local mayors, and other corrupt people.)  It also means the extra wages paid to these workers get tucked into the price of goods - at prices that would make a robber baron blush.  Sure, you can either buy the $4 bar of Swiss chocolate or the $8 bar of fair trade Mexican chocolate that may or may not contain lead, beetle parts, or roaches (both of the insect and cannabis kind) - but what makes a snob feel better than buying a bar of chocolate with the super-exclusive Che Guevara stickers in them (last month it was "Know Your East German Steroids!")

_____ Free/No _____
It seems chic in certain circles to bash things that are not natural.  Just because it's free of one thing doesn't mean they've found other ways to sex up the content.  Merely whispering the word "corn syrup" into the ears of a snob guarantees at least a fifteen minute tirade against capitalists, the Illuminati, and other obtuse and obscure people you never heard about.  Then there are other sweeteners that will either get you intoxicate you, shred the insides of your mouth, or make you run out and buy a ukulele and sing falsetto.  (Again, God rest the soul of Tiny Tim.) And you wonder why that BPA-free bottle seems to set off all those alarms at the airport - and dogs tend to get skittish?

Before we go, we have a man who can easily express our frustration at snob marketing.  Please enjoy his soothing words of wisdom.

P.S. Oh, and one more thing...

The Top 30 Gold Survey