Sunday, July 1, 2018

What Greatness Is Not

LeBron James is going to the Lakers. I don't really respect that -- and this is a bigger point than just LeBron.

Cleveland was built around LeBron. When he didn't like a player, a coach or a general manager, they were fired. The roster was built to support him without challenging his leadership. The other players were content to do as they were told. It didn't work. They won a title, but then they ran into a better team in the Warriors and now LeBron is running from the mess he made. I see this is more and more with "successful" people. Indeed, I can think of a number of "great" coaches I've heard say they would only go to the NFL if they were given a franchise with a great roster and all the pieces you need to win a Super Bowl already there. But where's the challenge in that? To taking nothing and making it something is an achievement. Replacing the broken cog in an otherwise perfect machine makes you a mechanic.

Look at the feminists who think we should celebrate the first woman to do what a bunch of men have already done. Why? How is that an achievement? Is it truly so painful to be a woman that just being able to do what men do should be celebrated? Or how about those who want to celebrate the first black or Hispanic or gay to do what a buttload of straight whites have done regularly. Is that really something to be proud of? Why can't you go out and do something no human has done before? Invent something. Create something. Go to Mars. Go to Saturn. Colonize Venus or the ocean floor. Don't celebrate some white guy appointing you to some job.

When did the human race become so listless? When did our lofty goals become so pathetic? When did we stop looking at the stars and start shuffling around so pointlessly?

I've been reading "Around the World in 80 Days" and I'm reminded of an era when "explorers" really existed. When whole hosts of people launched themselves out into the world to discover, to build and to create. That sense of adventure is gone. Did you know Americans once tamed a continent? Humans once created great art too. For the love of God, make a movie that isn't processed by focus groups. Write books that aren't knock-offs of knock-offs of knock-offs. Do something special, humanity.

Unrelated One....

I find the replay effect funny. The more you watch a replay, especially in slow motion, the more it seems like the action can be changed. Missed the ball by inches? Watch the replay several times in slow motion and you'll find yourself almost thinking "he might get it this time!"

Unrelated Two....

I hate virtue signalling. It's such BS. This is the same self-congratulatory mental masturbation that gets doctrinaire, hateful liberals to swear that they would have stopped the witch burnings or ended slavery or killed Hitler. Sorry, but you faux-tolerant groupthinkers are the very people who did those evil acts, none of you would have stopped any of it. Anyways, virtue signalling is a way for racist, sexist, ageist, eco-harmful companies to declare that they are morally superior to the rest of you.

One of these that bothers me a lot comes from Subaru. No surprise there. Subarus are the car of choice for smug, progressive pot-smoking assh*le hippies. The commercial in question involves this dipsh*t couple who are looking for the peninsula trail. They are trying to find it on a map when an old smelly blind man announces that, "You're not gonna find that on any map." So they take this smelly, hillbilly rapist blind man with them so he can show them how to be pure of heart. He takes them to a cliff, where they listen for whales. Then they go into the woods at night where the pathetic husband stumbles, of course, but the blind man walks fine. In the end, we learn that (1) being blind makes you noble and gives you insight that sighted people don't have, (2) blind people have superior senses, and (3) Subaru owners are morally superior to you.

Allow me to counter... First, why in the world would they launch themselves to Oregon without researching where they were going? Gee, honey, we'll stumble upon a map and, if not, we'll find a blind man. Secondly, while Subaru is being all smug, they should realize that blind people do not gain other senses. That is a myth and it's one that upsets a lot of blind people. Subaru is clearly anti-blind for perpetuating that able-ist stereotype. Third, doesn't it occur to Subaru that using blind people to wash away their sins is condescending and blind-ist? This is the magic negro trope in hillbilly face. You are taking a human being and making them into a tool for sighted people to absolve their sins... and that's wrong. Idiots.


Anthony said...

1) I'm not a sports guy but I agree with your thinking about Lebron. Kinda messed up to leave a team built around you after it fails.

2) Exploration of the sort you are discussing has never been driven by individual explorers. Such people are key actors, but that sort of exploration is a strategic decision made by very deep pocketed governments and then undertaken by hundreds if not thousands of people.

It has to be funded by entities without much concern for money because such things are incredibly expensive in the short term and possible profits happen only over a very, very long term (partially contingent upon what is at the place you want to go).

Along those lines, mankind went to the moon before I was born and lunar travel is now considering boring by most, but lunar travel has yet to reach a state where lunar commerce (say, the profitable harvesting of raw materials on the moon and their transportation to Earth) is a thing.

3) I am of the opinion that there is as much great art produced now as there ever was in no small part because the cost of making and distributing most art is lower than ever. That is very much a doubled edged sword because the flood of art the market is constantly hit with makes it exponentially harder for individual drops of art to gain recognition.

3) I just watched the Subaru commercial. Just seems like a couple yuppies running into an elderly Daredevil. Nothing special about it and I don't see why anyone would take offense.

4) Saw the Incredibles 2 with my daughters this weekend. No big surprises but very good stuff. Good pacing, snappy, funny writing and some really fun fight scenes.

5) Just saw an interesting article on American retail which makes the point that retailers aimed at the middle class are going through tough times but those who aim low or high are thriving.

The slow decline of the middle class in America has had an impact on retailers that haven't adapted to the change. Increasingly, the most successful businesses in the sector have become more distinctly split into two sections: luxury and budget stores.
Instead, retail is changing in line with consumer income divides, meaning that high-end and budget retailers are seeing revenues soar, growing 81% and 37%, respectively, in the last five years, according to Deloitte.
Meanwhile, the middle is being squeezed out and has only seen a 2% increase in sales in the past five years.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I think I can point to when humans became listless and also argue that they haven't actually become listless.

On one hand, the age of exploration ended when we ran out of planet to explore. This has a natural psychological effect of making it feel like there is nowhere new to go, especially to the average Joe who isn't going to go to astronaut school. The loss of a sense of tangible, physical possibility gets reflected in the culture as stories shift away from novelty toward refinement.

That said, we still have Elon Musks in this world. We have people who somehow think up cryptocurrency--an idea that wouldn't even dawn on most folks, certainly not me. And we have thinkers like Jordan Peterson who, rather than drowsily picking apart old stories just to debunk them, puts his energies to revivifying them and finding the forgotten truths still encapsulated in them.

tryanmax said...

I took a look at that retail article and then at the Deloitte article it mentions. It’s interesting, both kinda tiptoe up to the idea that this evinces a disappearing middle-class, but they apparently know better than to say what isn’t so. For me, the most useful information is the shortlist of companies closing stores. Bon-Ton (Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's, Younkers), Macy's/Bloomingdale’s, Sears, and JCPenney.

To say these brands are stale is an understatement. I’m sure many people around my age have nothing but unhappy memories of being dragged along through stinky-perfumed racks of boring stuff while the bright and cheerful mall, beckoning at the corner of my vision, was sadly out of reach. Sadly, these purgatories on the perimeter of retail heaven haven’t changed much since then. I still get a rush of anti-nostalgia on the increasingly rare occasions that I set foot into one.

What is anyone going to buy there? Overpriced linens? Underpriced suits? There is something to the notion that the retail space is bifurcating, but it has little to do with the condition of the consumer and everything to do with consumer savvy. A natural consequence of consumer culture is that people eventually develop a sense of what things ought to cost. You’re not going to get away with selling overpriced flatware just because it’s right next to a discount microwave anymore.

When I walk into a classic department store, I just see a bunch of mid-quality stuff that’s all the wrong price. I could get this cheaper at that store. I could get a better one over there. And don’t get me started on the “sales.” $20 off a pretend price no sane person would charge, let alone pay in the first place. And it’s going on clearance in a week anyway. That’s the segment of the market that is struggling, and rightly so. It was a good run while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

Late to the party but had to comment - Andrew, thanks so much for mentioning the Subaru commercial. I have all the same problems with it that you do and it's annoyed the living p@ss out of me since the first time I saw it. The whale watching, the sensei like one ness of the blind hippie with nature, bleh. The other commercial that annoys the hell out of me is the one for some beer where we're told that "when whatshername first attempted to be a helicopter pilot she was turned down. JUST BECAUSE SHE'S A WOMAN."I don't think they said This is the he-man woman haters club. You can't join>" What probably happened was that when she first applied that MOS wasn't available to women. Anyway, now she's the first hispanic female US military helicopter pilot... etc. That one annoys me too.

Anonymous said...

And by the way, Happy Fourth of July to everybody!

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, You're welcome. That commercial drives me nuts. It's so smug, and ironically offensive as well.

I know the commercial you mean. Olga something, the first "Latina fight pilot" or something like that. It took me a while to figure out if they were talking about the US military (generic branch apparently) or some other air force. Mexico? Russia?

And you're right, she probably applied when they weren't accepting women. Big whoop. And what does this have to do with beer anyways? "Thank God they make a beer for Hispanic women!"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I do agree that human haven't become listless. There are lots of people out there doing amazing things. But the culture has become so wishy-washy that we're not supposed to be proud of genuine achievement now... only fake achievement. I find that annoying. And I find it really annoying when people like football coaches do this act where they only want to be spoon-fed success. Holy crap, get some sense of challenge!

tryanmax said...

Andrew, that I absolutely agree with.
Scientists achieve an amazing new feat, but one was wearing a sexist shirt, boo!
First woman to open a pickle jar on her own, yay!
It’s an absurd combination.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It is. It's super condescending too. "Come on honey... just a little more and you can do what the boys already did. Aw, I'm so proud of you! //pats on head condescendingly."

If someone told me that my goal should be to do what other people have done, I would punch them. That's not success. That's being a follower. Not to mention, no one else gets to set my goals. That's up to me.

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