Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Smart Like Me?

I wrote up a great introduction to postmodernism and made a shitload of potato salad.  I know y’all secretly wish you could cuddle up next to me tonight, and not just because I smell like bacon.

But, in all honesty, I haven’t technically made the potato salad, because I decided I needed to triple the recipe and I have everything–the potatoes, the eggs, and the dressing part–but I don’t have a bowl big enough to mix it all in.

The Professor is on her way over to rectify the situation.  She has a five gallon bowl.  Hopefully, that will be big enough.

And it’s raining, and it smells so good.

What a good day off!

Mr. Smartypants Blah, Blah, Blah, the Conclusion

All right.  So, what has Mr. Smartypants taught us?

1.  Different people have different frameworks for understanding reality.

2.  If you can understand those frameworks, you can

a.  Fuck with people using those frameworks

b.  Get people to do what you want by dismantling those frameworks and replacing them with ones more amenable to your goals.

3. Promising people something they want is a good motivating tool for getting them to do what we want them to do.

Now, let us turn to poor Rachel and try to understand the nonsense going on over there.

Let’s start with a premise we can all agree upon.  Miller Lite wants men to buy its beer. 

In order to encourage men to buy Miller Lite, Miller Lite has a campaign in place that utilizes a framework of “what it means to be a man” in order to link “being a man” with drinking Miller Lite.  If you look at the website, this is incredibly clear.

There are a bunch of “man laws” at the bottom that tell the reader the proper way to be a man.  But here’s the deal.  All of these laws are based on the assumption that manhood isn’t intrinsic.  If manhood were intrinsic, if you were a man, whatever you did would be stuff a man does, by virtue of the fact that you did it.

Instead, manhood is something external to people with penises and people with penises must act like men if they want to be considered real men.

Do you see how this works?  Before, we talked about how words, like “man” are a sign that points towards some idea of what a man is.  Now, what we’re saying is that there’s also some way in which we also expect individual men to point to some collective idea of what a man is if those individual men want to be considered men.

“Being a man” is not the state of having a penis, but of properly pointing towards our collective idea of what a man is.  Look at how Exador inherently knows this.  Sarcastro says, “That’s like the difference between wanting some soft and moist female companionship and wanting the dick out of your ass.” and Exador, in order to poke fun at Sarcastro says, “I’ve NEVER brought up your fraternity days. If you choose to, I support you.” In other words, Exador insinuates that Sarcastro has participated in behavior that doesn’t properly point to our collective ideas about what a man is.

It wouldn’t be funny if “manliness” were something inherent in a penised person.  If “manliness” were just inherent, Sarcastro could “cut a sexual swath that still astonishes by its sheer brazenness and multiplicity” and fuck whoever he could get his hands on in whatever iteration he could think of.  Exador could walk in on Sarcastro dressed in a French maid’s outfit bent over his coffee table while Kleinheider sticks kitchen utensils up his ass and it wouldn’t be unmanly.  It’d still be something a real man did, because Sarcastro is a man.

But no, despite Exador’s intentional obtuseness, he gets that there is a gap between being bepenised and being “a man.”

So, if being ” a man” is an idea that we have and not something that just is intrinsic to being bepenised, how do we know what a man is?  We don’t, as a culture, say “being a man is having a penis.”  So, if we can’t say what being a man is, we start to define a man by what he is not.  If you look at Miller Lite’s man laws, you can see this in action.

The basic theme behind all of the laws is don’t act like a girl.

So, now we get to the bullshit going on over at Rachel’s.

Rachel makes a perfectly legitimate point.  Beer makers use sex to sell their products–“Hot girls like this like men who drink our beer.  Therefore, if you drink our beer…”  Miller Lite is using sex roles to sell their product–“Manly men drink our beer.”  It’s not crazy to ask whether “You poke it; you own it” in this context doesn’t refer to everything that men poke.  Do men not stick their fingers in women anymore?  Did y’all decide that while I was away?

But here’s what’s bullshit and here’s what makes me so angry I almost don’t know how to express it.  Each person’s framework for understanding the world is his or her own.  There are great stretches of that framework which are similar to other people’s–that’s how we have community and agreement–but each is unique and his or hers.

I would argue that everyone could benefit from continually checking over his or her framework, to make sure that it’s still working, that it’s useful, that it’s strong enough to support one’s worldview, and that it matches up with other people’s in ways that are healthy and beneficial for folks.

Though, obviously, you can do what you want.

But what Rachel is doing in her post is checking over our collective framework, looking to see if it’s working and useful and healthy and beneficial.  And what she’s found is no some weak girder or rusted out bolts, but just a spot in a column that scratches her when she walks by.  So, she asks this question–How come, in order to move men from here (non-Miller Lite buying) to here (Miller Lite buying), we have to use this material that irritates me whenever I walk by?  Are other people also finding this irritating?  If so, let’s ask Miller Lite to stop using it.

But when Travis09 and Exador and Dr. Richard show up to comment, they don’t just say “Maybe the problem isn’t with the collective framework, but with how you move through it,” which would be a reasonable (though wrong*) response.  They say, “There’s something wrong with your internal framework.”–“You hate men”; “You can’t take a joke”; etc.

I guess it pisses me off because, on the one hand, y’all get to toy with collective reality when it suits you and is fun for you, but when it suits you, you also get to pretend that “this is just the way it is; just suck it up because it will never change” as if how you see the world is objective reality.

No.  It’s more than that.  It starts to feel like you think everything out there is your playground and, when it suits you, everything in here is your playground, regardless of whether that “in here” is actually in you.

Ha, I guess this is about the nerdiest complaint ever–your artifice leaves no room for mine.





*I get to pass judgement because it’s my blog.

Mr. Smartypants’s Inadvertent Guide to Postmodernism, Part Two

Folks, I just got up.  I slept like a rock for, what?  Ten hours?  Good lord.  It’s a good thing I didn’t try this yesterday.  Anyway, envy me my four-day weekend.

So, where were we?  We were about to talk about bridges and signs and other roadside accouterments in honor of my engineering readers.  Y’all know what a metaphor is, right?  A metaphor is when you say that something is like something else in order to make its essence more clear.

Let’s say that I wanted to express to you how cute I think Kleinheider is, but also get at how I think his fundamental way of moving through the world is deeply troubling.  I could use a simile–Kleinheider is like prickly pear ice cream, prickles included–or a metaphor–Kleinheider is a cool prickly pear ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day.  But the point is that he’s actually not literally ice cream.  He’s not even literally like ice cream.  But there’s something about him I don’t quite know how to put into words that exactly get at it, so instead, I take some steps back and say, is there something very unlike Kleinheider that will bridge the gap between what I feel about him and who he is?

Just like a real bridge isn’t made out of the river banks it’s trying to connect, but steel or brick or wood instead, a metaphor is something foreign we bring into the gap between what’s there in front of us and how we feel about it so that we can speak about it.

But it’s deeper than that.  Do you know Magritte’s famous painting, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe“?  As you can see, it’s a painting of a pipe, with the sentence “This is not a pipe” written at the bottom.  Just think about this for a second.  It’s not a pipe.  It’s a picture of a pipe.

This seems both obvious and a trivial point, but it’s actually an important point of understanding postmodern thought.  Take this word–cat–for instance.  That is not, obviously, a cat.  We might, to use a metaphor, call it a sign that points you towards the cat.  Or we might go farther and point out that it’s a sign that points you towards an idea of a cat.  It might be a specific cat for one of you or a general idea of a cat for another of you.  But “cat” is not a sign that points to something external that has four legs and a tail and a bad attitude.  “Cat” points to something internal, an idea you have about what a cat is.

And, of course, everyone has a different internal idea about what cat is.

So, follow me here.

Since everyone has her own internal landscape that is different from everyone else’s, there’s a way in which a great deal of our world is not “objective” reality–out there real stuff–but reality filtered through our unique internal landscapes.  In fact, some would argue–like Baudrillard–that we don’t even see objective reality at all, but only our internal landscapes projected onto it, because we understand the world around us through language.

AND so the language we use is created by our need to describe the world in ways that make sense to us while at the same time the language we use describes the world in ways that makes sense to us–even if those ways are not objectively true.

Let’s turn to Mr. Smartypants, now, who says–

Building rapport with people makes them let their guard down more easily. I’ve used the car dealer as the perfect example before. They want to get you a cola and sit and chat so you will drop your guard. The auto dealership is the perfect laboratory for all of this stuff. It has the deception on the part of the salesmen and the breaking down of the defenses of the buyer.

Now, let’s think carefully about the wisdom Mr. Smartypants is hitting us with.  Here’s what he’s saying–We don’t buy cars that often; it’s a process that isn’t very familiar to us.  The car dealer knows this and exploits it.  The car dealer gets that he can control how we make sense of our experiences.  We usually associate receiving gifts–like the cola–and friendly chatter–like the small talk–as being signs that indicate that a person has good intentions towards us.  This association is so deeply ingrained in most of us that it seems ordinary, natural, just the way things are.  And so it’s very hard to keep in mind that the car dealer actually doesn’t have good intentions towards us.  He might not have bad intentions towards us, in all fairness, but he’s trying to make a sale, and in order to do that, he’s willing to exploit how we make sense of our experiences.

So, let’s go back to the exchange later on in the comments between Mr. Smartypants and the Wayward Boy Scout.

Sarcastro says, “One of the problems we are having with the boys in Gitmo and Iraq is we don’t have anything they want.”

Exador says,

Not entirely true, if we weren’t such pussies.
Some good examples of things they might want:

1) A koran.
2) Some time out of the pig fat bath.
3) Some time with the Judas Priest soundtrack off.
4) Food other than bacon and menstrual blood.

You get the idea.

Sarcastro counters with

That’s like the difference between wanting some soft and moist female companionship and wanting the dick out of your ass.

The former is something you genuinely desire and the latter is something you desire to stop. This involves a subtlety that I wouldn’t expect an engineer to understand.

Do you see what’s going on here?  Do you see why Sarcastro’s approach is so much more insidious in some ways than Exador’s?  Exador says, “Here’s how they view the world.  If we want to hit them where they hurt, we have to use the things that offend them.  That’ll show them.”  But what Sarcastro advocates is fucking with their worldview, fucking with how they create and understand reality.

Exador’s approach happens in a framework they can understand and defend themselves against (or, if they can’t, their failure can also be understood by others who share their framework).  Sarcastro’s approach works because it dismantles their framework and replaces it with one that is more aminable to the needs of the interrogator.  Exador advocates fucking with them.  Sarcastro advocates fucking with how they order the world.

Could Sarcastro be any more postmodern?  I just don’t see how.


Mr. Smartypants’s Inadvertent Guide to Postmodernism, The Beginning


I am about to do something so daring, so ridiculous, I about can’t stand it.  I should just sleep on it and come back to it in the morning, decide then if it’s a good idea, and I may.  But for right now, I’m about to, in good faith, make a post in which I basically claim that Mr. Smartypants and Baudrillard ought to be brought into dialogue, if not for my sake, then for Rachel’s, and for the sake of the Wayward Boy Scout, who I about had to punch in the nose today*.


I know.

I just put Mr. Smartypants and Baudrillard in the same sentence.  Twice now.  And with no intention of poking fun at either of them by the association.

Okay, I am going to bed before I attempt this, but tomorrow, we’re going to sit down and discuss what a man who fought in the Gulf War has in common with a man who write a book about how the Gulf War didn’t really take place.  And all of it will end up showing you how, yes, indeed, a man sticking his thumb in a Miller Lite Bottle is sexist and gross.

It’s going to be awesome.

Or fail spectacularly.

Either way, I can’t wait.




*"Was there a reference to a woman?  If not, you’re taking this jump a bit far.  Almost like you have a chip, and you’re looking for things to be offended by."

Who Knew Libertarians Could Even Have Scandals!

So, Vox Day* says:

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it’s just not going to work.”

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.

In fact, the hysterical response to the post-rally enforcement rumors tends to indicate that the mere announcement of a massive deportation program would probably cause a third of that 12 million to depart for points south within a week.

And the wusses over at WorldNetDaily actually get a little nervous about the blatant invoking of Godwin’s Law and later edit it to read

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it’s just not going to work.”

It couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society. In fact, the hysterical response to the post-rally enforcement rumors tends to indicate that the mere announcement of a massive deportation program would probably cause a third of that 12 million to depart for points south within a week.

I’m sorry.  I just find this hysterical.  Who knew WorldNetDaily had a conscience?

Anyway, R. Mildred over at PunkAssBlog** has all the pertinent analysis, so I’ll just point you in that direction.



*I’m not linking to him because I find his defenders boring and lame compared to my right-wing nuts.

**It’s a little known fact that PunkAssBlog and I are having a baby and, if it’s a girl, we’re going to name it Minnie Pearl.  Oh, you’re for me, PunkAssBlog!