(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Flattest Humans Edition

Are you a Twitter user? Well, that’s a shame. It can be hard to let that bad habit go; I have had trouble walking away myself, even though I should delete the app and never look back. Someone recently described the general tone, and effect, of Twitter as “a hangover without the party that comes first.” It’s a nonstop avalanche of political rage, bad opinions, and unnecessary combativeness. It’s now commonly understood that the net effect of most social media is depressive, but Twitter is the worst of a bad bunch.

With that said, if you’re still on the Twitter train, stop what you’re doing and follow Humans Of Flat immediately. It’s not just another smart-guy-dumps-on-bad-design account. It’s bigger than that.

Once you’ve been sensitized to the “flat people” epidemic, you’ll realize it surrounds you at pretty much all times. This is doubly so if you work in tech or the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) clown worlds. It’s become a hugely popular aesthetic — but why? The Greeks loved their statues because they represented human ideals, the Renaissance adored paintings which emphasized beauty, the “mad men” of the Fifties made aspirational advertising into its own art form. What’s attractive about these misshapen caricatures? This is what the account creator has to say on the topic:

People drawing @HumansOfFlat believe themselves to be resisting the institution from within. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything they believe is good about @HumansOfFlat is entirely aligned w/ the global totalitarian surveillance/repression apparatus of big tech. It’s not only that they happen to serve the institution for a living, as we all must. No, their professed ideology’s success is reliant on the existence of the surveillance/repression of the populace. Hence the need for propaganda such as @HumansOfFlat in the first place. The message for the client groups goes like this:
“See? Your body is depicted here. You are right at home. You’re in good hands. We are looking out for your interests. If we weren’t, why would we celebrate the core of your being—your body? You are among the saved. Trust us.”

From that, I go to the Claremont review of Bronze Age Mindset:

It is a necessary characteristic of bugman—the ugly master of an ugly regime—to try to sunder the connection between the beautiful and the good, to denigrate the former and exalt ugliness.

Take a moment to look at the media, the advertising, the political and social messaging you consume on a daily basis. How much of it is meant to sunder the connection between the beautiful and the good, to denigrate the former and exalt ugliness? I don’t need to identify any individual (and potentially controversial) examples of this. You know it when you see it. Which leads to the next question: What is the use of this willful perversion/inversion of beauty? For that, let’s turn to the future that has nearly come to pass:

: ‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’
Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.
‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

If I can make you accept the misshapen, the ugly, and the gross as beautiful — if I can perform the aesthetic equivalent of making you say that two plus two equals five — then I have demonstrated raw power over you. Not just over your actions, because any thug with a gun or knife can temporarily control your actions. I have torn your mind to pieces and put it back together in a degraded state where you are ready to accept the Humans Of Flat as “beautiful” and “OMG gorgeous” instead of treating them with the revulsion, even hatred, which comes normally to an educated mind in this situation.

I know that your first impulse upon reading the previous paragraphs will be to laugh it off, to be cynical or world-weary about it. That’s a natural defensive mechanism, an understandable reaction to the discovery that the entire corpo-government structure is forcing you to buy and use products which rely on the flat aesthetic. Yes, they’re just stupid cartoons. And the Bible is just a collection of old stories. And the American flag is just ideology-by-committee. What’s your point?

Ah, but perhaps I really am overthinking it. Maybe it’s as simple as this comment on the Twitter page:

Thinking about @HumansOfFlat and realizing that it evokes nuclear semiotics: the creation of idiot-proof signage for long-term nuclear waste storage facilities designed to be understandable 10,000 years from now regardless of language degradation or civilizational breakdown. Flat design is brighter and happier on it’s face, but similar in spirit. Ugly, uninspiring, yet easily understood symbolism as futureproofing for a population with an average IQ on the downturn. We keep regressing towards the mean, which in this case is low-def art that was “popular culture” 5000 years ago.

Is that better? It’s not IngSoc mind control; it’s just Idiocracy. That’s better, right? Right?

* * *

Last week, for Hagerty, I wrote about the eternal battle between big cubes and high revs, then I went down to Woodward Avenue so I could drive a beater Ford GT.

34 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Flattest Humans Edition”

  1. AvatarJustPassinThru

    Not having a Twit account, and not willing to get one, I can’t follow the link. I’ll accept Jack’s summation. But he’s on to something…and I see this every day, in this mountain college town. Young women UGLIFYING themselves – obese, smeared with thousands of dollars worth of tattoos. Clownlike oversized glasses that obscure any natural facial beauty. Clipped hair, often dyed fluorescent colors.

    And proudly displaying…how shall I say?…an alternate sexuality. Well, they can do what they like; but I think they don’t like it so much as they’re trying to seek approval. They want to be DIFFERENT – just like all their friends and just like the toxic, salacious media tell them to be.

    And a female’s sexual-marketplace-value has a shelf life. Sorry to anyone who’s Triggered, but there…it…is. A woman of 55 who behaves as if she’s 22, is ridiculous, obnoxious, and embarrassing. What her values are, to others, at that age – and she may have many, of experience, wisdom, a family she’s proud of – but sexual allure is not one of them. She can only have some of it by disguising her natural age…and that does nothing to the libido, the desires.

    So these educated females, throw one of the most-important periods of their lives AWAY, by deliberately becoming repugnant and and pairing inappropriately. Yeah, I know…don’t need no Man-Fish-Bicycle. I’m sure all the elderly spinster-real-estate-saleswomen will take comfort of the Big Deals they signed, as they’re in their final hours. Of the Chamber of Commerce awards. Or of the corporate positions they obtained.

    No, their priorities in aspiration, as in personal deportment, are, as you say, turned asunder.

    The question we need ask, before our society completely de-laminates, is, how did this happen. Was it just the crack of constant, instant social media; or is it that a sick set of values were imparted, long before there was a Smartphone or a Facebook?

    • Avatardejal

      When everyone conforms to something “edgy” it is no longer edgy.
      You become a sheep when everyone does it.
      For me it goes back to to those stupid “Tribal” tattoos.

      “What’s it mean?”
      “I dunno, it’s ‘Tribal'”.
      “Was it the design?”
      “IT’S TRIBAL!!!!”

      Or Kanji tatted on some hardos body, with the translation “I’m a Gaijin idiot”.

      The reason I bring up tattoos is you can drop the green hair, you can pull the piercings out. Tattoos are a bit harder if you decide you want to leave that in the past.

      I follow a family of farmers(father + 2 sons) in Montana with a Youtube channel, the Welkers in Shelby. Over the winter they restored a 80s International big rig. Turned out really nice. They tracked the original owners family down. The father was dead, but the daughters showed up to see it because they grew up with it. One had the tats all the way up to her lower lip.

      • AvatarDaniel J

        While tattoos aren’t my thing, I honestly could care less. But I’m an early millennial/late gen x. For me, some sleeve tattoos are really well done and others are aweful.

    • AvatarCharles Altemus IV

      You don’t need a Twitter account to view posts. You are totally capable of ‘following’ the link.

  2. AvatarJohn C.

    On your twist versus rev dichotomy, I will side with the twist. Remember one of the reasons the Imp failed was that the Coventry climax engine couldn’t get any bigger, and get the Imp onto the motorway. This was without emission or heavy bumper pressure. No pushrod V8 Cadillac failed because the redline was 5000 rpm instead of 7000rpm. The power was there where it could be felt on every lazy acceleration all day, every day. Not just up at some high, unused rpm where it teases adrenalin junkies.

    Notice the pagota SL went from 230-250-280 despite the engine getting rougher each time. Even in Germany, with no emission concern. They just naturally make them too small, forcing the buyer to give up things like A/C and rev ever higher and pretend to like it. Interesting how such talk was skipped in the period commentaries.

    • Avatarstingray65

      Back in the 70s when the pagodas were just used cars with tired boat anchor motors, I believe there were kits available to drop in a Ford 302 to give the cars some real snap and take some weight off the front-end. Can’t really blame the Germans for making smallish engines that needed revs to produce any power, as most European countries had various displacement taxes that were originally designed to protect local producers by keeping big engine American cars out. Throw in heavy European fuel taxes and the necessity of keeping engines small and relatively economical becomes even more apparent.

    • AvatarBill Malcolm

      Ever driven an Imp? Because you’re full of it. My pal got one and had a highway speeding ticket within a week. It happily tootled along at 75 mph, and that engine was smooth. We used to go fishing every day in the summer of ’65 on backcountry roads here in Nova Scotia, and the Imp was a hoot on gravel too. Great memories of lurid slides.

      The engine wasn’t a Coventry Climax either, one of the longest lasting myths extant. It was designed by Leo Kuzmicki, ex-Norton and Vanwall, and one of Cycle’s Kevin Cameron’s most referenced geniuses. They got some assistance from Coventry Climax in various small ways, but the full story is here in the form of a paper authored by Kuzmicki et al to the British Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1963:


      Kuzmicki ended up at Chrysler engineerring in Detroit following Chrysler’s takeover of Rootes.

  3. AvatarTyler

    I had occasion to open up a first generation iPod Touch the other day. Gorgeous interface. Even our design schemes from a decade ago still emphasized texture and depth. Though as ever with dystopian lit parallels, I’d argue Bradbury’s is the most critical. People don’t want the responsibility of reading. Someday Stanford will accept applications only in emoji.

  4. Avatarhank chinaski

    lol at Tacos in ‘Customers who viewed….”

    History repeats, starting with rhetoric and imagery. Dekulakization in 3,2,1….

    Of literal ‘bugmen’: the recent spate of articles to encourage the eating of said bugs, since meat is literally killing the planet, man.

  5. AvatarCdotson

    If you’re interested in more takes on culturally subversive propaganda, primarily of the film/television/music variety, I recommend checking out Blackpilled on the tube of you. He’s got a decent selection of propaganda analyses among his more overtly political vidyas.

  6. AvatarCarmine

    I always thought the “Coventry Climax” was something a Connery-era James Bond would give Ms Moneypenny over a long holiday weekend away from the office……

  7. Avatarsgeffe

    So is this kind of what this is saying?

    The NBC affiliate in my town seems to have a collection of on-air folks working for them who shouldn’t be on TV! They just look unkempt! (In the local news, they’re a distant third in the ratings!) The second-place station in town has a bunch of plain folks! Nice people, who are just as nice off-air, with the exception of one who has a reputation as a prima-donna. The first-place CBS affiliate has all the ones whose faces would break off if they smiled, etc.!

    Early this year, one of the morning reporters went on maternity leave, and in her place is now this woman who frankly just isn’t real attractive, at least from the POV of the TV studio. Not that overweight, but the outfits she wears seem to say that she believes she’s carrying 25 pounds less than she actually is!

    Out of curiosity, I checked out her bio—and lo and behold, she had originally worked at that NBC affiliate I mentioned.

    Is this what the readings are trying to say?

    Certainly, the tatt pandemic is only getting more ridiculous! Especially the “sleeves” and ink on every exposed inch. (As well as areas that are best left unexposed! What would drive someone to get inked “south of the border,” thankfully, I’ll never know! My biggest regret is that I didn’t pick dermatology as a career over IT; they’re going to be able to write their own ticket over the next couple decades as late Gen-Xers and the first of the Millennials start to have the aging process..ummm..AFFECT their body art in negative ways! What are those “sleeves,” and especially the ones under clothing AND undergarments, going to look like when these people hit 80 or so?! And I saw that coming in the early ‘90s, when I was still in college, for gosh sakes! That’s going to hit the Millennials just like old age is whupping the Baby Boomers square in the face now!

    Even more to the point, I guess is the one woman I see sometimes when walking into work who, pardon the expression, is as big as a house! “Pleasingly plump” is not the adjective I’d use. A couple of my female friends have always been a little big. But compared to the person I’m describing, they’re both Heidi Klum! And it makes you wonder if this person has tried anything to alleviate some of that over the years. You see that a lot more today. Someone I knew once said that “spandex should be a privilege, and not a right!” This was, oh, twenty years ago! It’s more true today!

  8. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    I’ve never really understood the allure of these social media platforms. As a relatively private person I have no desire to have a jillion “friends” that think they know me. In reality, if they knew me in real life, I would be left by the wayside quite rapidly.

    Just not my style; unreformed Luddite.

  9. AvatarCrancast

    Grandma Moses on acid.
    I’ve been Ive’d.

    Short, er Flat People
    by Flat Randy Newman

    Flat people got no reason
    Flat people got no reason
    Flat people got no reason
    To live

    They got flat hands
    And flat eyes
    And they walk around
    Tellin’ great fat lies
    They got flat noses
    And tiny flat teeth
    They wear flat shoes
    On their nasty flat feet

    Well, I don’t want no flat people
    Don’t want no flat people
    Don’t want no flat people
    Round here

    Flat people are just the same
    As you and I
    (A fool such as I)
    All men are brothers
    Until the day they die
    (It’s a wonderful world)
    Flat people got nobody
    Flat people got nobody
    Flat people got nobody
    To love

    They got flat baby legs
    And they stand so flat
    You got to pick ’em up
    Just to say hello
    They got flat cars
    That got beep, beep, beep
    They got flat voices
    Goin’ peep, peep, peep
    They got grubby flat fingers
    And dirty flat minds
    They’re gonna get you every time
    Well, I don’t want no flat people
    Don’t want no flat people
    Don’t want no flat people
    ‘Round here

    • AvatarShortest Circuit

      Great, now I’m humming it 🙂
      On a very related note, I won a Yesterday Gift Pack. It contained a cheap-ass black/yellow sailor bag, a black notebook w. yellow edge paint, and (for me) the most valuable: a Beatles double LP.
      I spent the morning listening to the excellent sound of a new, crisp vinyl.
      I wonder how many of the winners are able to play it.

  10. AvatarAoLetsGo

    Twisting away
    A drive in the country on hot summer days and nights with the windows down
    Hemi/ZF8/Borla provides the subtle, commanding tunes
    It’s the long, low growl of the big dog vs. the sharp yipping of the purse dog

    • AvatarAoLetsGo

      Well looking back that was poorly written even by my standards.

      Different subject but I just got ordered a Decked system for my truck, you should consider it.
      Headquarters in Idaho, designed in Detroit and built in Ohio, and a fantastic product.

  11. AvatarDaniel J

    In regards to engines mentioned in the Hagerty article….

    I’m quite enjoying the 2.5T in my Mazda 6. I test drove the 2.0t in the regal and while it was fine, it seemed to take some revs to get it going and the turbo was quite audible.. The 2.0T in the new Accord just didn’t feel as refined as GMs offering. And in contrast, the 3.5 in the maxima was a loud mess, but that probably had more to do with the CVT and 4400 RPM for maximum torque.

    I think I prefer more power down low just for the sake of NVH. A loud whining engine at high rpm doesn’t interest me for a daily driver.

  12. AvatarDirt Roads

    My wife is on Twitter and we are both well aware of the angst that can be caused by social networking. Thankfully, she knows how to brush off intruders and haters. But there are an unlimited number of them. I was on Twitter when it started, but then decided, like FB, it wasn’t for me. I got nothing of value out of it, really. And I don’t need my data mined by THAT many people (granted, it happens anyway).

    Now if I could just invent a Bluetooth encryption program I could retire to Costa Rica.

    I love the spinners and the torquers. They both have their place, and depending on my mood, I can pick one over the other. That said, I no longer won any spinner engines, not even a motorcycle after 45 years of riding. The little Fiat 128s and 124s were great for winding up the rubber band and letting it snap, and motorcycle engines in the 80s that revved past 10 grand were awesome (think Honda Hawk). But I like my L98 torque too.

    All that said, I’m perfectly happy without social media. Making droll comments on websites about motorsports, woodworking and the like is about all I do.

  13. AvatarDirt Roads

    Oh and since I also drive a C4, and am 6’6″ tall, I already know how to drop into a car like Jack described with the GT. Except for the way the door is hinged, I think the process is the same.

    For those who don’t know, the C4 has a crash beam they ditched with the C5 because well, it made it “hard” to get in and out of. One of the reasons they called the C5 an “old man’s car” because old guys couldn’t get in and out of their C4s (I’m 61 and can still do it so yay me!).

    If I had GT money I’d pay off my house and retire.

  14. Avataryamahog

    Man, that Hagerty article is excellent, I should get a subscription.

    “Sometimes I think their flat torque curves and asthmatic high-rpm behavior represent a deliberate attempt to get us used to the oft-predicted anodyne future of mandatory electrification”

    There’s a really interesting tension between anodyne and ‘character’. I think anodyne ultimately won when the LS400 came out, and the past 30 years have just been everyone coming to realize that and making their last stands for character. That said, my money is on the next Colin Chapman and Bruce McLaren working with electric powertrains. From here on out, ICE engines are going to get more choked and weighed down with emissions and batteries will get better and better. With the cost of high precision serial manufacturing dropping yearly, expect to see things start to get real interesting – Yamaha certainly gets it: https://mashable.com/2015/10/28/yamaha-sports-ride-concept/

    I’ve driven a Tesla Model 3 extensively and sampled at least half the serious electric motorcycles on the market, and I genuinely love electric powertrains. In cars, the instant throttle response is super nice (especially after getting used to slushboxes), no shift events and linear acceleration feel like riding an FJR1300 in one gear – very nice. Not to mention how serene the electric cars are in the most frustrating (i.e stopped) traffic situation.

    Hustling an electric motorcycle around is the closest I’ve come to feeling like I’m flying because there’s no distracting NVH, I highly recommend trying it out. It’s not the same experience as rowing through gears, and it’ll be a sad day when the last gas powered motorcycle leaves my garage, but this seems to be the cycle of things, the new supplants the old and it’s not quite the same but there are good reasons why one prevails over the other.

    I wonder if twist vs rev preferences are informed by a person’s first delightful experience with a motor. I grew up with my dad winding out his Acura Integra and I love high revving engines. Had I grown up having been pinned into my seat by a big bore v8, I imagine my feelings would be different. ZX-14 or S1000rr? There’s no loser. TW225 (torque) or Honda Grom (revs)? There’s no winner. What really matters is whether there’s enough power, at that point, add lightness.

    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      An explanation of the difference, I heard many years ago;

      Revs (horsepower) is how fast you hit the barrier, torque (twist) is how far you carry it with you.

  15. AvatarArk-med

    There’s flattening emergent everywhere:
    The Porsche 718’s turbo four is the flat people’s replacement for the much missed personality–saturated flat-but-not-flat six.
    I think Toyota nailed the flat person’s car with the depressing design of every generation of Prius — owners are happy to broadcast their piety, the suffering and sacrifice they endure for the planet through its design. It’s the car that’s modeled after the hijab worn by choice in a free country, a projection of the wearer’s sanctimony.
    The Tesla Model 3’s front fascia is another expression of flattening of design, in contrast to the Model S’s rather more expressive visage.

    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      The second generation Model S’ minimalist T-shaped pseudo grille that echoes the shape of the Tesla logo in its center is quite brilliant, I think. I wonder if a similarly shaped chrome outline applique, incorporating a Tesla logo, for the Model 3 would sell as an aftermarket accessory. The front end of the Model 3 looks like a cheap, blow-molded toy.

  16. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    I was at a few Target stores yesterday, looking to scoop up copies of Monopoly Socialism to flip on eBay after a socialist professor had a meltdown over the Target-exclusive pro-capitalist parody Hasbro made, put up a Twitter storm, and subsequently resulted in it selling out on the website. I managed to snag 5 copies, priced them to undercut other sellers but still flipped three of them for more than twice what I paid. I love the smell of monetizing left-wing hate.

    Anyhow, walking through the Target stores to get to the toy department I noticed that many, perhaps most, of the female mannequins were “body positive”, ranging from having slight paunches to pretty fat, and the clothing they were displaying was not at all hiding the fact that the mannequins were chubby. I’m a husky boy myself, I’ve bought some short/portly suits in my life, but if I saw a fat male mannequin in a store I would hope that the cut of the clothing they were trying to sell me would be slimming.

    Won’t anyone tell American women the plain truth that the vast majority of men are not attracted to fat women? Just because guys will have sex with them, doesn’t mean they’re attractive. Like Lenny Bruce said, guys will screw mud and knotholes in trees. Oh, and if you’re a female schoolteacher tempted to have some fun with one of your students, a teenage male getting an erection means absolutely nothing as far as validating you as a sexy female.


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