Music Is The Weapon, But Then Again, It Always Was

AT THE CORNER of 8th and Market in San Francisco, by a shuttered subway escalator outside a Burger King, an unusual soundtrack plays. A beige speaker, mounted atop a tall window, blasts Baroque harpsichord at deafening volumes. The music never stops. Night and day, Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi rain down from Burger King rooftops onto empty streets.
Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.

Welcome to the world of “weaponized classical music”, where homeless people, thugs, dirtbags, and “teens” are actively repelled through the high-volume application of music that they don’t happen to like. It’s a tactic that is well over thirty years old, having been started with “Mozart At The 7-Eleven” in British Columbia back in ’85. In any era but this one, people would hear about this and chuckle. In $THE_CURRENT_YEAR, however, we must respond with everything from academic papers to the increasingly-shopworn boilerplate accusations of bigotry and racism. In the process of doing so, however, we will lay ourselves out to the possibility of deconstructive evisceration. Allow me to wield the knife. As Pusha-T said a few weeks ago, it’s going to be a surgical summer.

Continue Reading →

The Man In The Arena

It’s an unpleasant thing to say, but it’s true: This world is divided into those who do and those who watch. Which is not to say that most of us don’t wind up falling into both of those categories depending on the situation: even Presidents have favorite television shows, and Gore Vidal apparently laid off the criticism long enough to clean his house from time to time. In general, however, it is usually possible to judge someone’s credibility, legitimacy, and even character by how much time they spend doing as opposed to watching.

Elon Musk spends most of his time doing. A simple list of his favorite side gigs make you wonder where he finds the time: flamethrowers, massive underground tunnels, a breathtakingly viable private space program with VTOL rockets. And then there’s the matter of his day job, which involves nothing more than the creation of the first viable large-scale independent American automobile company since, oh, the Second World War or thereabouts. You can call him a Bond villain, which is the proverbial praising with a faint damn, or you can call him a megalomaniac, which is the typical bomb lobbed at the confidently successful by the socially-awkward unaccomplished. But you cannot deny that he is out there Doing. Big. Things.

A hundred years ago, or even fifty years ago, Elon’s innovations and ideas would have spawned a flood of strong-willed competitors; look how many American men took Henry Ford’s success as both a personal insult and a spur to attempt great things of their own. In this modern, sickly, navel-gazing age, however, what’s happened instead is that a million mewling nonentities have re-imagined their pathetic lives as wriggling suckerfish clinging to the Great White Musk Shark, hungrily scarfing up bits of waste and detritus as they congratulate themselves for adding parasitic drag to the whole enterprise.

Continue Reading →

When Political Correctness And Business Meet, Business Loses

Earlier this week, Starbucks made a hysterical, ridiculous, and plain ol’ stupid decision to allow people to loiter in their stores and use their restrooms at will, no purchase necessary.

Starbucks stated in their press release that “everyone who visits Starbucks is a customer.” Allow me to retort: HAHAHAHAHAHA. No, they aren’t. Customers are defined as people who purchase goods and services. People who sit on your couches, use your free wifi, and dirty up your bathrooms? Not customers. And anybody who has worked in retail for more than five minutes will agree with this.

Your humble author worked retail for well over a decade. I started in high school and college at a musical instrument store, working there for almost four years before I went on to work for Verizon, T-Mobile, Men’s Wearhouse, and Cricket in store and district leadership roles from 2001 to 2010. I can tell you, without qualification, that loitering customers are always bad news.

Continue Reading →

We Aren’t Caught Up In Your Love Affair

You can hear the soyboys at Gizmodo LITERALLY SHAKING as you read it: Nineteen percent of Chinese help-wanted listings specify men only. Some of the listings boast that there will be “attractive women” available for socialization or even dating, and there’s truth behind those boasts as female “motivators” are also being hired by those same companies. The “motivators” are mostly there to look good and keep an eye out for the needs of “their” men.

The organization “Human Rights Watch”, which is a self-appointed overseer of everything from serious issues like female genital mutilation to I CAN’T EVEN silliness like the above, is busy attempting to shame Chinese companies like Tencent and Alibaba into ceasing the above practices so they can adopt the current West Coast model of sexless bugpeople using gender-neutral pronouns and chugging Soylent as they sublimate all of their normal sexual impulses into eighty hours a week’s worth of collaborative work body language to improve shareholder value before the Logan’s Run dynamic of Silicon Valley painlessly reallocates them into unemployment lines at the advanced age of thirty-four.

Needless to say, the Chinese are making a superficial gesture or two to address “the problematic issue” then they will go right back to unashamedly sexist policies in every aspect of their political, corporate, and personal lives. There’s a reason for this: the Chinese have already seen the future, and it doesn’t work.

Continue Reading →

You May Not Be Interested In Social Credit, But Social Credit Is Interested In You

It’s an idea that is four or five years old now, but the Chinese government is finally taking baby steps towards putting its “social credit” system into production. What is social credit, you ask? Well, it’s a system by which ordinary citizens are rated for their behavior. You can lose points for breaking minor laws, speaking out against the government, or for associating with people who do those things.

Users with high social credit get preferred placement on dating apps, free loaner bicycles, and other benefits. If your social credit is low, on the other hand, you might find yourself unable to buy a business-class travel ticket… or you might find that you have no ability to buy a ticket at all. Your children might be denied access to good schools, and you might be removed from lists of applicants for available jobs. Participation in the system is mandatory for Chinese subjects, er, citizens.

So-called “heritage Americans” rightly view this sort of thing as an utterly horrific abomination, particularly since it is backed by the government itself, but the Chinese don’t share our mistrust of social conditioning or coercive behavior. Look for Social Credit to be a massive success, both for the compliant citizens who score highly under the system and for high-ranking members of the Chinese government who will benefit from its chilling effect on potential critics or activists.

And we could leave the whole subject there, except for one little thing.

Continue Reading →

The Times Wants You To Sob For The New Nabobs

Within weeks, Ms. Jalakam, who has a degree in biotechnology, landed a job as an analyst at an insurance company. The next year, she and her husband, Vinay Kumar, a software engineer, bought a house. In 2017, the finances of the Indian immigrant couple were secure enough that they decided to have a second child.
All that planning, though, is in jeopardy. Ms. Jalakam and thousands of other spouses of skilled workers have been told that their special work permits — authorization that can mean the difference between struggling and thriving in their adopted homeland — are likely to be revoked.

Well, this sounds very sad. I would not want anyone to struggle when they could thrive instead. As you’ll see, however, not everybody has the same definition of “struggle” or “thrive”.

Continue Reading →

A Little Ignorance And Malevolence, Comin’ Right Up

Earlier today, I wrote about a difficult conversation I had with a friend regarding American bicycle manufacturing. One of the commenters offered up this link to counter my “bullshit”.

Here at Riverside Green, we take our readers seriously, at least until they are unmasked as shibari addicts or serial fantasists. So I promptly went over and read the suggested article, which contains the following paragraph:

Given the abundance of facts about manufacturing’s strong position the US economy, why would anyone argue that it is even struggling, much less in decline? Other than ignorance or malevolence, I don’t have a good answer to that question.

Ah, but the writer does have a good answer to that question, and I’m happy to show you why.

Continue Reading →

Whatever Happens, You Cannot Say That You Were Not Warned

This blog’s been around for a while now, hasn’t it? During that time, I’ve made all sorts of prognostications regarding the future. Many of them have been proven wrong. One of them has been proven right. In August of 2014, I told you not to install Facebook Messenger on your phone. I made all sorts of paranoid predictions about what Facebook would do with the data. All of those predictions were correct.

Of course, it took Donald Trump to make that obvious.

Continue Reading →

“…Because That Is According To My Principles”

I don’t think there was a single year in my academic experience where I was not significantly disciplined for some reason. Sometimes it was for playing elaborate pranks on people, sometimes it was for mocking the administration, and once it was for snap-kicking a fellow shop-class student in the chin after said fellow student tried to hit me with a home-made “bo staff”. (No, smart-asses of the Internet, I didn’t assume the “crane position” first. I wish I had, though!) Time after time, I was told that I would amount to nothing in this world unless I stopped being combative, argumentative, offensive, you name it. Maybe all those nuns, vice principals, and Residence Life administrators were right — but let the record show that they faded into obscurity while I rose to become the second most popular writer on my own website. (The first, of course, is Thomas Klockau.)

After fifteen and a half years of school (skipped two grades, took a leisurely 4.5 years to get my bachelor’s) I learned to sense in advance when I was about to be suspended or expelled, which is why my stomach churned in sympathetic anxiety when I read the above document. It tells a student that he will be subject to an uninterrupted harangue from his peers. In what world is that a reasonable way to treat a university student? And where would someone learn that kind of disciplinary tactic?

Continue Reading →

The Uneasy Romance Between “Black Lives Matter” And Gun Control

Way before “check your privilege”, we had “check your premises.” The phrase is commonly attributed to Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged, which tells us that “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

It was useful advice sixty years ago, but it is essential advice in an age where the Seven Deadly Sins have been replaced with the Two Deadly-To-Your-Career Sins of “ism” and hypocrisy. We are absolutely obsessed with hypocrisy nowadays. Neal Stephenson offers a thought-provoking reason for that obsession in his novel The Diamond Age: “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticize others–after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?” I would also suggest that modern Americans find hypocrisy comforting, because it relieves our consciences. Why shouldn’t we indulge in the worst perversions possible and permit ourselves every selfish excess? Those priests and pastors and politicians are even worse! Newt Gingrich divorced his wife, so why should we listen to his opinions about abortion? You get the idea.

Today’s political pundits just adore finding hypocrisy in the actions of their opponents. Mark Zuckerberg says we should have open borders, but he has a ten foot wall around his mansion! Donald Trump says we need to restrict immigration, but his wife was admitted under a special program! While there are plenty of actual cases where people are absolute filthy hypocrites, in many cases we can resolve or dissolve the so-called hypocrisy by checking our premises. Here’s an example: It’s often noted that “pro-life” people are often in favor of capital punishment, while “pro-choice” people are often against it. Aren’t they both hypocrites? Probably not. Pro-life people believe that a fetus is a child, and a child is innocent. On the other hand, a murderer is not innocent, and therefore he can be put to death. On the other side of the matter, pro-choice people often believe that a fetus is “just tissue”, while a murderer on Death Row is a fully-formed human being who deserves humane treatment. There is no contradiction in either of those stances. The perceived hypocrisy is a product of deliberately misunderstanding the other side’s ideas.

There’s quite a bit of discussion among the alt-right about the perceived hypocrisy or stupidity of the Black Lives Matter movement. This meme sums it up: BLM supposedly thinks all police are racist and evil — but they also think that only police should be allowed to have guns! Now that is some serious hypocrisy — enough that I decided to take a closer look at what the BLM position on gun control really is. Turns out that things are not nearly that simple.

Continue Reading →