04.10.17

Excellence achieved in the root hog or die economy

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 10:13 am by George Smith

Fittingly showing the acceleration of the US into a 100 percent root hog or die/feudal economy, Tesla has surpassed GM as the country’s most valuable car company. Tesla, as it should, makes cars only economic royalty can afford. And electric cars for the specials among us way outweigh the sheer numbers produced by GM. Why, Pasadena itself is known to have one, two, or maybe even three Tesla drivers!

Note the rejoicing.

“Ford has been operating for more than 100 years, and in the first quarter of 2017, it sold hundreds of thousands more vehicles than Tesla, an electric car upstart, did in all of 2016,” reads the NY Times.

Unlike Tesla, Ford is “seen to be lagging in cutting edge technology and autonomy.”

In the root hog or die economy it is senseless to make products for the middle or lower class since that is where the money is not. This is Elon Musk’s crowning innovation.

The triump of Tesla is another big billboard to note along the interstate highway of the Culture of Lickspittle.


Tesla is also a perfect example of a tech company benefitting immensely from an economy based purely on rent-seeking.

Monopoly rents are cash money made through just being, sole position, gatekeeping, inheritance, outright theft, mass group bootlicking or rewriting of law (or the undoing of it) so that value that is totally detached from a social contribution can be collected. In the case of Tesla, it’s the pushing of its stock price, not earned by anything physical, but juiced by the ebullience of America’s specials and their Shoeshine workers.


Shoeshine: The Shoeshine were those colleged educated workers, living in the cities, still deemed necessary to do the gut administrative work for America’s plutocrats. In other words, the over-educated high button services help.

04.07.17

Fond remembrance of war fever

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:20 am by George Smith

In recognition of the war fever gripping the nation today (look down the timeline), here’s a link to Uncle Sam & the JDAMS, a record made as satire of the war in Iraq. Now well over a decade old, made available for FREE — that’s FREE — in MP3 or glorious FLAC. Explosive and bitingly hilarious, you’ll even laff out loud at the recounting of its history:

[15 years later] and still no one’s laughing. One of the final nails in the coffin of the national reputation.
Iraq n Roll was recorded over the course of a few weeks as a short piece of satire on the war, after the Weapon of the Week column had run its course at the Village Voice.

Often just instrumental punctuated by familiar lines, it was purposely brief, like the two weeks of humiliating national euphoria leading up to “Mission Accomplished!”

It was composed to be one piece, heard linearly from start to finish. You can’t cherry pick it or ignore the words and roll your own play list. The segues from song to song have purpose and the story falls apart if you apply the technology of shuffle play.

In 2002 no one wanted satire. No Frank Zappa. They still don’t. There was just the slight beginnings of a surly national hangover that only became more fulminating over the years.

Classic truths. Good singin,’ good playin’. Completely obscure and utter failure.

Did I say “Absolutely free!?” Pagedown at the link.

One of the apex moments of the Culture of Lickspittle.


Paradoxically, the WMD — sarin — is in Syria!

Selah!

04.06.17

Wry wisdoms too good to pass up

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:45 am by George Smith

[The] gains to the winners from trade are larger than the losses to the losers. This means that we should be able to compensate the losers and make everyone better off.

[But] compensation to the losers is invariably a joke. They don’t get s**t, and then we call them names when they vote for Trump. — Dean Baker, from Yes Folks, Trade Deficits Really Can Create Unemployment


I might add that the usual prescriptions, “like creating green jobs…new [projects] to lay broadband fiber nationwide to boost jobs and productivity” [this from the Washington Post] are still shit.

People need the high velocity money that came with middle manufacturing work. There will never be enough high-paying green jobs that workers can step into to pick up the slack. And retraining doesn’t work. You would get better results by simply dropping money on the populace, impossible in this place. Which means the country, practically speaking, is incapable of saving itself.

In addition, the idea that the private sector might cause some surge in the “laying of broadband to boost productivity” is politically and economically laughable in 2017 America.


On music

“Most listeners will abandon anything too jarringly different before [30 seconds of it play] so there’s an incentive for artists to draw on a small pool of bankable writers, producers and styles. ‘I call it the shit-click factor,’ says [Chart UK’s James] Masterton. ‘If a record is too challenging, then people will say, What’s this? It’s shit, and click on to the next one. There used to be room on the charts for something dynamic and exciting … I can’t see the circumstances right now where that could happen.’” — from The Guardian, no link.

Time flies on the down escalator

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 9:40 am by George Smith

Another musical measuring stick in the Culture of Lickspittle. Half a decade in and things are, astonishingly, much worse than when The National Anthem was written. Even the fictitious movie poster can’t quite do the national apathy and horror justice. Bombing paupers is our most famous character trait.

04.05.17

Root hog then die — proven by science

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine, WhiteManistan at 2:00 pm by George Smith

Deindustrialization, globalism and the US EQUALS lethal. “Deaths of despair” — proven by science. File under “Trump and the big fail, reasons for.”

From the intro:

In “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century,” Princeton Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton follow up on their groundbreaking 2015 paper that revealed a shocking increase in midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans, exploring patterns and contributing factors to the troubling trend.

Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

“The authors suggest that the increases in deaths of despair are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in economic and social wellbeing, which has become more pronounced for each successive birth cohort,” it continues.

Shorthand: Root hog then die. The economic model for the United States and its cost to the middle class.

As such the increasing mortality is a symptom of national failure. Of the installation of an every man for himself economy for the majority while the top slice has rewritten the rules governing the economy to redistribute all wealth into its own maw.

Unsurprisingly, it’s now difficult to overlook. And that’s primarily because of another symptom, the election of Donald Trump in what can be described as a scream of pain and revenge against the system, no matter how unproductive and disastrous the result.

Having said that, careful consideration would lead one to believe it is not a problem that can be quickly solved. If it can be solved by this United States.

As long as death rates continue to rise, the country will be essentially ungovernable, lurching from crisis to crisis to anarchy and breakdown as all faith in a shared prosperity and ruling institutions go up in smoke.

If the researchers continue their work I would expect them to find in the coming years that the entire white cohort, not just the non-colleged educated, experiences the same decline.

At this blog I had a category, not used often, for that cohort: Shoeshine. The Shoeshine were those colleged educated workers, living in the cities, still deemed necessary to do the gut administrative work for America’s plutocrats. In other words, the over-educated high button services help.

As per one obvious example:

Shoeshine: Those people you know on Facebook who’ve been spending their time clutching their pearls and condemning all the other white people, not them of course, who voted for Trump.

Another great example: Paradoxically, all those at big web media who’ve been allowed to write about the “deaths of despair.” You’ll have noticed that very few, if any, of those actually dieing the “deaths of despair” get chosen to write about their first-hand experience. That would be cutting too close to the bone. Only the social cosmetic services help gets the privilege.

So you see that it hasn’t yet occurred to most of The Shoeshine that they’re living on borrowed time. Eventually, the root hog then die economy will come for them, too, although it may take a few more years.

This blog has been called Escape from WhiteManistan. That needed revision. There is no escape.


Quote of the Day, from economist Dean Baker on his Beat the Press blog: “The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top one percent’s share of national income has more than doubled over this period from roughly ten percent in the late 1970s to over twenty percent today. And, this is primarily a before-tax income story, the rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever larger share of the country’s wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, Rigged [it’s free].)

I called it the 40 Year Slump, from living it in the Rust Belt.

It remains one of the best things from this blog:

I’ve been storing up the energy to for a review of “Slap Shot,” the Seventies movie with Paul Newman as the player coach of the Charlestown Chiefs (modeled on the Johnstown Jets) of western Pennsylvania. I have an old videotape and have had it on replay. “Slap Shot” can also be viewed through the lens of America’s forty year slump, a movie framed at the time big business resurrected a devotion to unrestricted preying on its human labor, and — as it turned out — hundreds of millions of future livelihoods.

The backdrop for “Slap Shot” is the perfect picture of it. The steel mill is set to close in “Charlestown,” laying off thousands.

“Ten thousand people put on waivers,” says Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean), the Charlestown Chiefs’ leading scorer, to Paul Newman, as both stand outside the steel mill waiting for a ride from Lily (Lindsay Crouse), Braden’s wife.

“What’s going to happen to them?” Newman, as Reggie Dunlop, the Chiefs’ player/coach asks.

It’s every man for himself, replies Braden.

They realize it’s the end for the Chiefs. No money, no ticket sales. What there are of the fans won’t be spending what they have left at War Memorial ice hockey arena.


I grew up through that systemic result in Pennsylvania.

From the mid-70’s to today, one unrelenting slump.

It never got better. More jobs were always lost. People made less and less money. There were no moments when anything turned around.

Occasionally, because of presidential propaganda, people felt better about it.

Largely, we bought the swill about “trickle down economics,” the need to squash labor unions, that firing thousands of people was “right-sizing” to get lean, mean and efficient, that life would be a different set of opportunities in which you’d go back to school or be trained four or five times, every ten to fifteen years, this so you would fit the workforce of the glorious future!

All convenient lies. And that’s only a fraction of it.

Over half a decade on the down escalator

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:28 am by George Smith

Astonishingly, it’s been six years since “Taxavoidination” was made.

It’s been a great measuring stick in the Culture of Lickspittle. Six years ago there was this big noise and outrage of how mega-corporate America was ripping off the government. Atrocity! Outrage! Pay your taxes! Surely things would change. And then the big no, the big wall, the resumption of the great downward slide. Things have gotten progressively worse for everyone I know.

Selah!


The dancing elephant is just a serendipitous bonus.

04.04.17

Critical merit, diversity — negatives when it comes to success in comics

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 12:44 pm by George Smith

Two pieces of news on Marvel properties have some relevance to our current national predicament this week. First up, news that nobody cared about the horrid reviews Iron Fist on Netflix gathered during its roll out. Almost unanimously condemned for not casting the lead character, Danny Rand, as an Asian American, subsequent viewing statistics seemed to indicate it was a Netflix blockbuster:

“Marvel’s Iron Fist” drew some of the most scathing reviews that any Netflix series has earned. But the critical dog pile apparently did little to dampen enthusiasm for the show.

The superhero drama’s March 17 premiere was the most binge-watched this year for a Netflix drama, according to data from research firm 7Park Data, which measures number of streams on subscription video services. The company found that 54.7% of “Iron Fist” streams on the premiere date were of episodes three or higher. The average hour-long show on Netflix has a binge score of 46.9%.

“Iron Fist” also accounted for 14.6% of all Netflix streams on March 17 — the highest percentage of any series premiere that 7Park measured, topping “Stranger Things” (4.0%), “Marvel’s Luke Cage” (12.8%), “Marvel’s Daredevil” Season 2 (13.8%), and “Orange is the New Black” Season 4.

You’ll recall the hilarious Guardian opinion by Kendra James last week. Iron Fist was rotten because all its white characters sucked. But not its two not-white supporting women.

“Iron Fist was the first Marvel TV series to receive critical scorn,” reads The Independent.

The paper’s original review: “A rich, privileged white guy with more arrogance than brains loses everything.”

As a rich, privileged white guy he immediately did what we know most privileged white guys do at big corporations: make their lifesaving drugs available at cost and vow to shutter a plant that was said to be dumping carcinogens into the locals’ water.

Hmmm. Sarcasm.

Fast forward to now. Sales of Marvel comics are off and one of its managers opines:

[Speaking] at the Marvel retailer summit about the studio’s falling comic sales since October, David Gabriel told ICv2 that retailers had told him that fans were sticking to old favourites. “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” he said. “They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.”

He added: “I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales … Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”

The piece is accompanied by clip art of Riri Williams, the African American teenage girl who’s the new Invincible Irom Man while Tony Stark lies in a coma.

Williams makes for a dull Iron Man (she’s named Ironheart) and since classic Iron Man generally depends on its brute force approach, Stark in armor beating adversaries half to death with his fists and repulsor rays, you can see this news from sales must have some Marvel editors breathing a sigh of relief. Stark’s coma will be shortened and Riri Williams quietly offloaded to a separate intermittent title or reduced to sidekick status.

And make no mistake, Riri Williams’ Iron Man is a poor one. Totally unready and unbelievable as someone who wins battles with armored fists, so far her trick has been to write computer viruses that cause her foes to crash. It’s not sustainable in the classic Marvel sense.

None of this matter in the moment, though. Social media and features writers immediately forced Marvel’s David Gabriel to say he really didn’t mean what he said. The wise people of the web insisted diversity isn’t what’s hurting Marvel in 140-character chunks. Too many titles and Captain America as a Hydra Nazi were. Never mind that the multiplication of Marvel titles has been mostly clustered around diversity characters.

Example:

America Chavez, a Latina and lesbian superhero, saves an alien planet, enrolls at Sotomayor University and punches Adolf Hitler in the first issue of her new Marvel comic book series. But what’s being celebrated as most fantastic in this comic is that Gabby Rivera, a young-adult author who is gay and Latina herself, is writing the adventures of America.

Keep in mind the New York Times didn’t get excited at all about the resurrection of the Iron Fist comic title. In its premier issue the character, angry, middle-aged and white, spends most of the page time breaking the jaws and assorted bones of other unnamed martial arts gangsters in dingy bars. And that’s not critically cool at all.

So here’s one possible interpretation and it’s guaranteed unpopular. Diversity comic titles get good press. They’re guaranteed clickbait. But the titles don’t sell like Marvel’s old white legacy stars.

The sooner Marvel sends its social outreach to the bench, the better for sales. Not to fear, no character’s loss is ever really permament.


The mainstream rags on Marvel.

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