Tea Time With Jesse

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Archive for April, 2012

An Upheaval Predictor

Posted by middlerage on April 30, 2012

A few posts ago I made a current events reference highlighting Ted Nugent, his wing-nut political rants, and his music. That same week, Levon Helm, drummer for The Band passed away, but that somehow didn’t make it into my blog musings. His passing was on my mind, however, and while I am not a ‘The Band’ fan, I do recognize their importance to music and sociocultural history. And there are a few songs that – while I don’t want to purchase from iTunes – I won’t change the station either, happily singing along to The Weight, Cripple Creek, and the Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down.

Among the press tributes were inevitable references to the culture of the Sixties, the hippie revolution, and comparisons to The Grateful Dead. So this got me thinking about the counter culture movement and the whole Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco, and I thought, “Wow, it must have been something, living in that scene; Hanging around San Fran, back in the day, listening to the Dead, beat poets, Acid Rock, attending angst ridden foreign films, and going to ‘happenings’?” Okay, I know The Band featured a drummer from Arkansas and was based out of Toronto, but still, these are the stepping stones of my thought process.

I dunno what Haight Ashbury is like today, but I imagine it’s full of tourist traps, Pan-Asian restaurants, and maybe a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. I’ve read where there is lots of hand wringing over the fact none of Frisco’s first responders (police, emergency, etc) can afford to live within the city boundaries, and all of them are commuters. There’s no going back. There’s no more ‘Happenings’, and the Counter Culture has moved on to AARP membership and Beach Boy reunion tours.

Where else has there been a locus of such cultural sea change? Athens GA in the 1980s, Seattle in the 1990s, but these foci were maybe not as major of upheavals. Still, what fun places to have lived, if you could have been there. Additionally I suppose, well reasoned debate could argue the next revolution isn’t a place, but the internet, and it’s happening right now.

Anyway, this leads me to the point of this post: Is there a way to predict where the next, socially important, dynamic, they’ll-talk-for-years location will be?

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Building predictive computer models is a robust endeavor. Lots of energy is spent on these things: In my field, hundreds of institutes, from academia to government, are working hard to predict just how the planet will change in the face of global warming, while speculators hire math PhDs to build financial crystal balls to cash in on. (One might argue economic prediction is even harder than Meteorological prediction because the players act on the output leading to an endless loop of changing inputs. It’s like having a hurricane change course because of what it’s learned from the National Hurricane Center. Zounds!)

Imagine gathering a petaflop super computer, and a few creative (and intelligent) folks, sitting down at a conference table and saying, “We don’t want to speculate on the stock market, or predict where China’s military will be in five years. We want to know – where’s the next Haight-Ashbury, and when should we move there?”

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It’s kinda like being an enigmatic criminal, corralling a movie-worthy cadre of unusual suspects for that ultimate heist. Who would you get on board? What would be the kinds of input data you’d gather? What defines a cultural upheaval? How do you successfully find Haight-Ashbury but avoid Ciudad Juarez and the Narco-war? (They’re both cultural upheavals, right?).

Fer sher you’d want scientists, mathematicians, and programmers, but who else? I’ll just brainstorm and throw out some ideas. I hope I inspire your input as well:

sociologists, culturalists, futurists, science fiction writers, philosophers, and historians. A doctor,  a lawyer, and an indian chief? Definitely a florist, cause you’ll need some flowers in your hair…

 

 

 

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Music Fridays – R&B Recycle

Posted by middlerage on April 27, 2012

Currently, there’s a pop radio hit by Flo Rida that has a very familiar refrain to me. I’m, like, Wait a minute, I’ve heard that soulful bit before. Sampling is way old by now, but this isn’t sampling. It’s a redux, a reprise, a revamp of some good feelings from the 1960s. (Note: I don’t know the history of the first song, below, and won’t claim these are the originators. But they certainly might be, at that).

So it’s funtime for my readers! Can you guys figure out what is the same between these two songs? I like both, and am very pleased that modern pop is getting so interesting again. It won’t surprise my readers to know I own one of these songs. But it might surprise them to know I own both.

So tell me, my fine audience, what is the same in these two shakers? (As a bonus, an inevitable modern, techno-rave remix is included at bottom).

 

 

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You’re An Object, I Object

Posted by middlerage on April 25, 2012

I was surfing the web, looking at cars, when I came across the above photo. And I got bugged. It is such a tired trope to have the cheesecake showing off new models at car shows. This really stands out to me as the “objectification of women.”

Now, speaking of tired tropes – certainly the “sensitive new age guy” sticking up for the “downtrodden woman” is a tired trope. We tread on muddy ice when we stick up for the rights of a population we are not a member of. I’m a man, and here I will attempt to stick up for women.

So I think the thing to do, is to not be scholarly, or righteous, or militant, or asinine. Rather, the thing to do is to be honest; to come at this from the first person: I, in fact, like cheesecake; I, in fact, like looking at the model above, and yet I, in fact, was bugged at the same time. Why?

Because, after 100 years of auto shows, that is all that is on offer. The ubiquitous model is the lawn jockey of the auto show world. The model is the ultimate decoration for your shiny new automobile. Not a person, not a sentient individual, but a decoration.

It’s the 21st century, and I am ready to see the female CEO of an auto company standing next to the car explaining the design/marketing strategy. I am ready to see all the engineers and designers of the car’s development team standing next to the car explaining its history. And that team should include women. I am ready to see a family standing next to a new minivan. And yes, I am ready to see the occasional hot model standing next to the car.

Am I trying to have it both ways? Am I trying to have my cheesecake and eat it too? /rimshot

The problem with anti-objectification feminism is that it strays into puritanism, into regressiveness. We like fat and sugar for a reason. We like taking deep breaths of mountain air for a reason. And sexual attraction is part and parcel of life on earth. There is nothing wrong with it.  Feminism = Good; over-wrought, anti-objectification feminism = bad.

Hell’s bells, if the auto industry was smart, they’d try harder to sell to women – throw some beef cake up onto those show risers. Throw some Italian-suited, square-jawed studs up onto those risers. (This is where defending a population you are not a member of gets tricky. For all I know women could care less about seeing beefcake at a car show. Which is why I am coming at this from my perspective…).

I’m ready to see the women CEOs, I’m ready to see TV ads featuring the man vacuuming, I’m ready to talk to the female project lead, I am ready to see men changing diapers in movies without it being comoedy.

I don’t want to erase the cheesecake, dinner is not dinner unless it has dessert. But there needs to be a bigger, more intelligent tent.

Posted in observations | 8 Comments »

 
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