Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom

No, I’m not talking about the book of that title by nerdist writer Cory Doctorow, although there are some fascinating ideas in said book that are gradually manifesting in real life — most notably, the idea of Whuffie. I’m talking about people who spend their day smiling for children and spend their evenings struggling to find a meal or lodging. People who play princesses or wizards at Disneyland but who are powerless to break the spell of their own poverty.

The New York Times just did a piece about poverty-stricken workers at Disney’s California resort. (The link is an archive link, because fuck the Times, fuck their transparent agenda, and fuck their puppetmaster Carlos Slim.) The most damming part: “According to the report, 15 percent of employees who responded to the survey said they have received food stamps or visited a food bank.”

I’ve never personally visited Disneyland, although Danger Girl has been there many times. I’ve probably been to Disney World in Florida a dozen times, starting when I was six or seven years old and including a trip I took there with DG a while back so I could see the places she worked when she was an intern with the company. I’m not sure I’ll go back now. Disney is an obscenely profitable firm that espouses a variety of social-justice causes, up to and including rotting the Star Wars Universe from within via the mandatory inclusion of Mary Suewalkers. That’s fine — but to talk the SJW talk without walking the social justice walk seems a little too much even for me to accept.

A few weeks ago, when I was with my son in California, we looked at the cost of a ticket to Disneyland. It was $135 per day. A hundred and thirty-five dollars. To walk around in a place where young women are paid eleven bucks an hour to smile at my boy then go “home” to a car parked by the side of the road with homemade curtains drawn around the windows. It’s a hell of a business model, and it must thrill the investors, but it stinks to high heaven. Something is rotten in the Magic Kingdom.

Guest Post: Overcoming Our Animal Nature

“Everyone,” as Mike Tyson famously said, “has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” It’s a good quote, but I think it vastly overestimates the majority of the human race. In my experience, most people don’t have a plan. In fact, punch in the mouth or not, most of us don’t even have a consistent direction. No, I’m afraid, the truth is that most of us are winging it all the time.

Planning is a uniquely human skill set and the ability reliably do so was so important to our ancestors that they devoted an immense amount of labor constructing sites like Stonehenge in order to predict the best days for planting or harvesting crops. Their efforts helped humanity to achieve dominance over nature and while it can be argued that animals like wolves can cooperate to spring cunning traps, that certain birds and chimpanzees can make and use primitive tools, and that beavers can work to shape the natural environment, no other animal can plan for the future with the thoroughness of mankind. Why then, do so few of us do it? Continue Reading →

Rental Review: 2017 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Silver Silvermist Anonymity

Last November, I found myself in the position of having a silver Fusion Hybrid, courtesy of Hertz. How so? Well, due to bad luck.

I was downtown at the county building, paying the last installment on my property tax. Job done, I waltzed out to the Town Car, happy that the city wouldn’t be getting any more money out of me until next year. It was spitting sleet, cold and crappy out. All I wanted to do was drive home, have some dinner and watch a little TV. Unfortunately, I turned left at the courthouse, went halfway down the block, and a car came out of the alley off to the right-right in front of me. Yep!

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The Lovers, Of Dreamers, And E(lon Musk)

“Two movies on a single screen.” That’s how Scott Adams described the American reality right now. We are all watching the same events unfold, but we are seeing those events from two perspectives. Consider the very popular book and play Wicked; that’s a re-telling of “The Wizard Of Oz” from the perspective of a Wicked Witch. If you’ve read the book, then you now have two perspectives on that story — but you likely prefer one of the two, and consider it to be the “real” perspective.

When it comes to the “Dreamers”, the between 1.8 and 3.6 million illegal/undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents, the “red” and “blue” movies are, as you’d expect, quite different. Rather than get caught up in the numbers of how many “Dreamers” are in the US military (about 900, considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans) or how many are in prison (about 1,500 — which is also considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans), I just want you to look at the two people above. Try to get a sense of who they are, what their story might be, and which side of the Narrative they serve. Then we can talk about them.

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1960 Valiant V-200 – Pre-Plymouth

Valiant. Speak the name to anyone who grew up in the Sixties and it will almost certainly prompt a ton of memories, both good and bad: “Oh, my Aunt Becky and Uncle Sid had one, it was the toughest car they ever had!” Or, “I drove one in high school, got it for $100 off a shady used car lot and it was the dullest, slowest car I ever owned!” In approximately 95% of these circumstances, these memories will be prefaced by the words Plymouth Valiant–and indeed, Valiants were Plymouths from 1961 through 1976–but not in its inaugural year in 1960. Yes, 1960, a Buck Rogers year for sure! It was also The Year Of The Compacts: Corvair, Falcon, and of course, Valiant.

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Weekly Roundup: A Petting Zoo With Wings Edition

It used to be part of the suburban pilgrim’s progress: you got a house, you had a child, then you got a dog for the child. My parents did it, my friends’ parents did it. Every kid wanted a dog.

Things are different now. Grown men and women get dogs for themselves, often because they want a child but they would rather have something that can be put down or given up for adoption if times get tough. Dogs are children now. They ride in strollers and they eat gluten-free health food from specialized boutiques.

Naturally, these dogs have to go everywhere with their owners. They pad around on shit-stained paws in restaurants, they bark at you on the street, they attack cyclists. They get about the same level of discipline that the Millennials got, with similar results. And of course they have to get on planes. After all, you can bring children on planes. Why shouldn’t you be able to bring dogs, which are children now, on planes? Further more, why shouldn’t you receive special treatment for having done so, even though the whole thing is a scam?

This week, a fake child and a real child had an incident on a Southwest Airlines flight. The dog attacked the child and scraped her face. There’s a photo of the dog and its owner in the linked article. Experienced Southwest customers will recognize that these two bitches are sitting in the bulkhead seat, which is almost always a sign that they “pre-boarded” due to a medical condition. In my experience, 50% of Southwest pre-boarders do it because they are fat. Another 25% are old people on the way to Las Vegas. The final 25% consists of scammers and scumbags, which I think is the case here. She brings the dog as a “comfort animal” and then she insists on boarding first, with her dog.

After the dog attacked the six-year-old girl, both it and the owner were removed from the flight. That’s great, but I’m of the opinion that attacking a child should be a one-strike activity for animals. You hurt a child, you are going to die. Simple as that. Because children are actually human beings. We need children in order to continue the American nation and the human race. Dogs are not people. They are disposable. I’m not saying that to be cruel. I’ve owned dogs and cats. I can be very sentimental about animals, trust me. But animals are not people. Our national fetishization of animals over real children is having real and measurable effects on humanity.

Actually, scratch that. Let the dog live, maybe on one of those farms I always heard about as a kid. Shoot the woman in the head. In public, pour encourager les autres. Comfort animal. My ass.

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Ronald Jenkees, Geek Passing, A Certain Automotive YouTuber, And The Authenticity Issue

According to YouTube, approximately 300 hours’ worth of footage is uploaded to their site every minute. Assuming a three-shift day much like what we had at the Marysville Assembly Plant, but not accounting for breaks of any sort, it would take a workforce of 74,000 people just to stay current with what’s being uploaded to YouTube.

That’s my excuse for why I had not heard of Ronald Jenkees until recently. Mr. Jenkees, who has been on YouTube since 2006 or thereabouts, can boast of close to one hundred million views for his self-produced electronic music videos. Since appearing “out of nowhere” on the site, he has self-released five albums and has worked with a number of music industry heavy hitters behind the scenes. He is that rarest of creatures: a man who earns his living through music despite having no label or brand affiliation.

Jenkees appears in his videos as a cheerful fellow with tremendous keyboard chops, a taste for “uncool” outfits, and perhaps a bit of the autism spectrum in his features and demeanor. It’s impossible not to like the man; even the traditionally caustic YouTube commenters are generally kind to him. Yet for the past nine years there’s been a swelling undercurrent of resentment regarding Jenkees and his YouTube performances. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the man has enemies — and his enemies say that he is “passing”.

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More Pertinently, When Will They Love Their Kids More Than They Love Getting Raw-Dogged By A Stranger?

Crisis actors. It’s not a phrase I’d heard prior to this week, but after the school shooting in Parkland, FL it’s become a part of the conversation. Some people say that these tragedies are “false flags”, bolstered by a passage in a rather infamous conspiracy-nut buff book in which the author details methods by which the government encourages school shooters. Others are troubled by the idea of an FBI agent’s son giving talking points to victims as he supposedly interviews them right in the middle of the shooting. There’s also something just a bit squicky about the rapidity with which the media rolls out coordinated talking points on gun control even as people are still dying in their classrooms — to say nothing about the insanity of CNN promoting voting rights for 16-year-olds.

(The conspiracy theorist in me says that this “16-year-olds should vote” crap is part of a general campaign to normalize pedophilia, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

For the moment, however, let’s use Occam’s Razor and let the simplest explanation suffice: these school shootings are real, they are not the product of hypnotism or even violence-inducing anti-depressants, and they are happening in more or less the reported fashion — in other words, there are no mystery shooters or deep-state agents getting involved. The question any sane person would ask is simple: why are they happening?

As it turns out, there are some simple statistical correlations that lead to some extremely unpleasant conclusions.

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Guest Post: They (Still) Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

(Please extend the usual sullen Riverside Green welcome to returning contributor Michael Briskie — JB)

It was snowing outside the dealership, and the sales staff were busy running around cleaning cars on the lot. “They don’t make them like they used to,” said an aging customer wandering around the showroom. He was admiring an immaculate 1960’s Beetle, occupying prime real estate just inside the front doors, juxtaposed against the new cars on display. I hesitated before asking what he meant by that, recognizing the likelihood of a long conversation stuffed with foggy nostalgia.

“We used to drive an old Beetle through the snow like it was nobody’s business,” he said. “You couldn’t break it if you tried.”

Given his fondness for the good old days, I wondered why he even bothered to come look at new cars on this slippery morning. He could instead buy that very Beetle, perfectly restored, for less than ten grand. He was right though. Air cooled Beetles conquered everything from winter storms to Baja desert racing. Many still do. 50 years later, tens of thousands of these things just keep on going, probably because they’re just so easy to fix.

People buy cars around their perceived notions of reliability all the time. In fact, there is no other reason I can use to explain the volume of Corolla sales. It all got me thinking: Do automakers REALLY care about the lifespan of their cars? And like that Bug, fifty years from now, will we see anything at all on the road from 2018? With that, let’s dig into the ideas of planned obsolescence, lifecycle management, and mainly, whether or not any car companies give a damn about how a car ages.

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Meeting The Meat Grinder

Seventy-three degrees on a climate-twisted February night in Ohio. On the way out of the burger place I noticed that the light down the street was green so I rolled the throttle lightly in second, relaxing the twist just long enough to kick into third. And again, twist relax kick. And again. It was the work of just a few seconds, never spinning the Kawasaki past five point nothing on your RPM dial, ladies and gentlemen. I rolled through the light. To my left, there was a policeman. He looked startled. Reflexively, I checked the speedometer, which read just a needle’s width beneath the 100 mark. More than double the speed limit, in a suburb where they don’t tolerate that sort of behavior. In my left mirror, I saw him jump-start through the intersection and line up behind me a thousand feet back.

So there was nothing left to do but twist it the rest of the way. Cue the old hyperspace effect. I am forty-six years old, suburban and harmless, battered and broken. But I am also this: gone.

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