reality is weirder than you think

Tag: meme magic

Fighting back against absurdity

I am growing tired of playing defense against the absurdity that surrounds me at my day job. I have turned my mind on how to play offense.

Instead of playing rational and reasonable all the time, which will never win against complete insanity. In fact, being predictable and steady could be a complete LOSS, because people can use that against you or take advantage of it. So (tactically, at least) there’s benefit in adding some chaos to the mix.

This is coming from a few places. Trump’s advice to always start negotiations with something really off the wall and irrational, to create an anchor that brands you as predictable. Vox Day’s reflections on how conservatives will never change. And an academic’s observations that many universities are postmodern or anarchic institutions, which run mostly on symbolism and are post-structure. (OMG, 7 years after I got a master’s degree in this stuff, I finally understand the meaning of poststructuralism #fail)

Scott Adams’ persuasion filter could apply here–and indeed, one of the management techniques described by a book about academic management sounds identical to it. I’ll have to find that and post it sometime.

I’m going to work on being more unpredictable in my behavior–to a point, I still want to get things done–but I’m also exploring options for other ways to go on the offense.

First up: how I dress.

Clothes are easy to change, require very little strategy, and have a huge impact on confidence levels. My confidence in my outfits often mirrors (or dictates) my confidence for the day.

Plus, they’re a visual statement of who you are as a person (to some degree). First impressions, and all that.

I’m thinking about elements that I can add to an otherwise university-appropriate outfit that would make someone sit back and say “that doesn’t make any sense.”

Nothing big. Nothing that would read as crazy. Just normal clothes that make you say IDGI.

  • Mismatched earrings
  • Really weird socks (although that’s a style thing now so don’t know if it would be worth it)
  • Sequins or another fabric that really doesn’t make sense for the office
  • A piece of jewelry clearly worn upside down
  • Shoes that really don’t go
  • A color that is super out-of-place

Is this the right idea? I don’t know.

Will it work? I hope so, but we’ll see.

I’m just really tired of always being on the receiving end of this stuff where it’s contingent on my energy and time to deal with it.

I’m ready to fight fire with fire, even if it’s only a symbolic battle in my own head.

Jordan B Peterson is DANGEROUS in the Chronicle of Higher Ed

Yes, two in a row. Confirmation bias is a bitch (I just pre-ordered 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos), and clearly Jordan B Peterson is gearing up for its release next week.

The media storm is coming, and given the media climate these days…it’s not going to be glowing.

For instance, Peterson’s appearance today in The Chronicle of Higher Education (conveniently located in front of the paywall, even). The Chronicle‘s editorial staff would have you believe that Peterson is a DANGEROUS and UNHINGED man.

They won’t let him have a coherent picture, and there are multiple versions of this cut-apart Peterson on the site. If you’re just skimming headlines, you’ll come away with the impression that he is disjointed, plus the only important word in the headline is DANGEROUS.

Frankly, it makes him more badass to me.

(And you know how well the DANGEROUS slur worked against Dangerous Donald Trump. Not well at all.)

Unlike the visuals, the article gives Peterson more of a fair shake. It’s a profile–nothing earth shaking–but a good primer of who he is and what he’s been up to lately. The academic world is small, but it’s a nice attempt to bring depth to the otherwise scandalous and DANGEROUS academic past. On the one hand, we are treated to a rich description of his scholarship and discussion style; on the other hand, we are reminded of how much he (and graduate students who use his videos in class) is attacked by academia.

Anyway, a few things stuck out at me from the article.

It can be tough to parse the Peterson phenomenon. For one thing, it seems as if there are multiple Petersons, each appealing to, or in some cases alienating, separate audiences. There is the pugnacious Peterson, a clench-jawed crusader against what he sees as an authoritarian movement masquerading as social-justice activism. That Peterson appears on TV, including on Fox & Friends, President Trump’s preferred morning show, arguing that the left is primarily responsible for increased polarization.

Whoops, Trump Derangement Syndrome rears its ugly head once again. They just can’t help themselves, can they?

There’s also the avuncular Peterson, the one who dispenses self-help lessons aimed at aimless young people, and to that end has written a new book of encouragement and admonition, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Random House Canada). The book isn’t political, at least not overtly, and it grew out of his hobby of answering personal questions posted by strangers on the internet. That Peterson runs a website on “self-authoring” that promises to help those with a few spare hours and $14.95 discover their true selves.

Peterson doesn’t traffic in new age bullshit like your “true self.” The Self-Authoring suite is based on helping you understand yourself, your personality, and your experiences. The idea is that “thinking about where you came from, who you are and where you are going helps you chart a simpler and more rewarding path through life,” not that you have to undergo some mystical journey to uncover arcane knowledge about yourself.

Then there’s the actual Peterson, a guy who Ping-Pongs between exuberance and exhaustion, a grandfather who is loathed and loved by a public that, until very recently, had almost entirely ignored him. Now he has more than a half-million YouTube subscribers, nearly 300,000 Twitter followers, and several thousand die-hard disciples who send him money, to the tune of $60,000 per month.

Yes. It’s called Patreon. Welcome to how people make money in [current year].

Even the man with all the answers appears stunned by the outpouring, and at the sudden, surreal turn in his life. “When I wake up in the morning, it takes about half an hour for my current reality to sink in,” he says. “I don’t know what to make of it.”

That is adorable. I have those moments with my current life, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to have changed so many lives for the better.

In college, he writes, he espoused socialism almost by default. He tried to emulate the movement’s leaders, dutifully attending meetings, absorbing their slogans and repeating their arguments. Over time, though, he found that he didn’t respect his fellow activists, who struck him as perpetually aggrieved and suspiciously underemployed. “They had no career, frequently, and no family, no completed education — nothing but ideology,” he writes. He also discovered that he often didn’t believe the things he was enthusiastically spouting. “Despite my verbal facility, I was not real,” he writes. “I found this painful to admit.” He also became obsessed with the looming prospect of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. He fell into a depression, suffered “apocalyptic dreams” several nights a week, and fought against “vaguely suicidal thoughts.”

Sounds like everyone on /pol/, tbh. Verbal, but not fully realized. Vaguely suicidal. Obsessed with the intersection of memetics and politics. Hopefully the chans will birth at least one Jordan B Peterson for the next generation.

He continued to research topics like religion, creativity, and the effect of personality on political orientation. But he is not widely known as an expert on any of those topics, nor is he considered the pioneer of a game-changing concept. He hasn’t frequently published in top journals. That may be, in part, because he is an old-fashioned generalist, more interested in understanding the connective tissue between seemingly disparate ideas than in tilling a small patch of disciplinary soil.

Another reason they hate him. He’s more dedicated to the Truth than he is his discipline.

Peterson started appearing on podcasts and YouTube shows like The Rubin Report and Waking Up, hosted by Sam Harris, where the two wrangled fruitlessly over the definition of truth for two hours. Perhaps most important, Peterson appeared on a podcast hosted by Joe Rogan, a comedian and Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator, whose show is often among the top 10 most-downloaded on iTunes. Rogan spoke with Peterson for nearly three hours and declared him one of his favorite guests. He’s had him back twice since, and those podcasts have each been listened to by millions.

Joe Rogan, super-influential podcaster described as nothing but a comedian and UFC commentator. The author clearly did research into Peterson, but obviously knows nothing about internet culture. Ignorance or disingenuous reporting? We may never know.

Peterson has used his unexpected notoriety to express dissatisfaction with the state of the university in Canada and the United States. He believes that the humanities and the social sciences in particular have become corrupted — a term he employs with relish — by left-wing ideology, and that they are failing to adequately educate students.

More subtle digs….

Are they trying to make him look like a Bond villain?

There were female fans, too, though they were clearly outnumbered. One recent Toronto journalism graduate whispered that she had a crush on Peterson. Another woman, Kristen, didn’t want her last name printed because she’s already suffered blowback from online friends over her fondness for him. “I think people misconstrue what he’s about,” she says. His overall message, according to Kristen, is “pick yourself up, bucko” — quoting one of Peterson’s taglines.

His influence, though, runs deeper than cross-stitch-ready phrases.


In the early 2000s, Peterson began buying these [Soviet propaganda] paintings on eBay because the irony of bidding for communist agitprop on the most capitalist marketplace ever devised was too delicious to resist.

And he has a delightful sense of humor. Love.

These days Peterson seems like a man possessed. His brow furrows, his eyes narrow. He speaks in rapid-fire, um-less sentences. He doesn’t smile much. Sometimes Peterson seizes his temples with one hand as if squeezing out an especially stubborn thought.

Um-less? Really? Might I suggest the word “unhesitating.”

His lectures are largely improvised. He writes out a bare-bones outline, but he’s never sure exactly what he’ll say or how long he’ll talk (90 minutes? Two hours? More?). His audience likes the no-frills urgency, the sense that he’s digging to the heart of impossibly complex conundrums, the feeling that they’re observing a bona fide philosopher sweat out the truth under pressure. His frenetic, freewheeling approach is the antithesis of a rehearsed TED talk. He describes his method as a high-wire act. “It’s always a tossup as to whether I’m going to pull off the lecture, because I’m still wrestling with the material. Because the lecture in the theater is a performance — it’s a theater, for God’s sake,” he says. “What I’m trying to do is to embody the process of thinking deeply on stage.” He pauses for a moment, then amends that last statement: “It’s not that I’m trying to do that. That’s what I’m doing.”

The antithesis of Intellectual-Yet-Idiot. There’s a real risk in his lectures, the risk that he won’t say anything worth hearing. Highly unlikely, given his orientation to the truth, but still there.

Not long ago, Peterson had his picture taken with a couple of fans who were holding a Pepe banner. One of them was also forming the “OK” sign with his fingers, probably a reference to the “It’s OK to Be White” meme created on 4Chan, one of the more offensive and irreverent corners of the internet.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. The author cites Milo Yiannopoulos at some point, but fails to realize that the Trump crowd was using the OK sign long before “It’s OK to be white” became a Thing. Milo was using the OK sign extensively before he got kicked off Twitter.

Peterson, who has written a lot about religious iconography, finds the mythos around Pepe fascinating, noting how Pepe is worshiped by the fictional cult of Kek in the made-up country of Kekistan. “It’s satire,” he says. “A lot of these things are weird jokes.”

…or are they?

Asked whether he worries that his association with these symbols and slogans, which have been employed by a number of avowed white supremacists, could be misunderstood, Peterson waves off the concern. “I know for a fact that I’ve moved far more people into the center,” he says. “People write and say, ‘Look I’ve been really attracted by these far-right ideas, and your lectures helped me figure out why that was a bad idea.’ That also happens with people on the far left.”

Is it possible to be in the center but not a “moderate”? Legitimate question. The “why can’t we just all get along” people are useless, and Peterson is definitely not useless.

Now, if these “far-right ideas” of which the anon speaks are actually the socialist-in-disguise Alt-White type people, that I understand. I also had to bang against the walls of intellectual incoherence a few times before I realized it was impossible to be both right-wing and a “national socialist.”

On the table in his den is a copy of his new book, 12 Rules for Life. It is, in a sense, a more accessible version of Maps of Meaning. In it you won’t find flowcharts featuring dragons or the full text of a letter he wrote to his father in 1986. Instead it’s an anecdote-driven advice book that encourages readers to “treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping” and “pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).” It would be hard to ferret out anything to protest in these pages. The preorders of 12 Rules already dwarf the total sales to date of Maps of Meaning.

I know I preordered 12 Rules, but this makes me want to read Maps of Meaning. Flowcharts with DRAGONS? How much more DANGEROUS can you get?

The article is long, but I enjoyed reading it. For all the little digs, it’s a pretty fair treatment of Peterson and his ideas–one that won’t often get heard in academic circles.

There’s also a great cameo from Camille Paglia in the middle–if you haven’t watched her conversation with Peterson on YouTube, you should. Their conversation is fascinating.

Image of the week: Super Saiyan Trump edition

At this point, I’m pretty sure everyone younger than Gen X who is on the internet knows Dragon Ball Z.

Even if you don’t know anything about Dragon Ball Z, trust me, you know about Dragon Ball Z.

Just try to look at this picture and not think “SUPER SAIYAN TRUMP.”

I mean, the photoshop helps a lot. But you know what I mean.

Trump Derangement Syndrome means never having to look too hard for a meme.


Do they really not realize that this type of thing just gives him more power? The more that the hair is exalted, the more power he gets.

Maybe not physical power, but memetic power.

I really need to write that post on Donald Trump’s hair.

Image of the Week: Judgement edition

Because, really, what describes the current climate in Hollywood better than this?

Ten or so years ago, I was really into celebrity gossip. It was one of those short, intense addictions that I fell into because I like a constant stream of new information.

Twitter does that for me now.

Anyhow, most of it was garden-variety People magazine stuff, but I also gravitated toward the blind item sites like Crazy Days and Nights. That is, until I realized how sordid and awful a lot of the stuff was that I was reading about.

I didn’t quite make the connection to the real world.

Well, Crazy Days and Nights is back, and seems to be a player in helping to expose all of the awfulness and corruption in the entertainment industry.

Funny how things go full circe.

Also “funny” how LA is literally on fire right now.

Image of the week: MAGAween edition

Getty won’t let me embed the good image from this series, but the concept is too good to pass by.

Embed from Getty Images

Skeleton. MAGA. HAT.

So simple, yet so effective. And so on-brand.

I love the MAGA, I love the bats, I love Melania’s deployment of a vaguely-military-style coatdress in a color that looks mostly good on her.

It’s a great photo.

And yet, I’m curious about the child dressed in all black. What is he supposed to be —  /pol/, maybe? Or anonymous?

The great mysteries of life.

The memetics of milk and cereal

First, it was milk. (Thank you for that, Shia.)

Now, it’s cereal.

What’s next, cookies?


There are literal Hitlers under every bed and inside every closet, it seems.

Memes are becoming reality at an increasingly rapid pace.

The line between mindset and meatspace is becoming increasingly blurred.


Earlier this week, I was checking out kids books for a friend’s daughter.

There was a whole section of Berenstein Bears.

I couldn’t bear to check the spelling.


Think it, and it will exist.

Terrifying or exhilarating?

You get to decide.

More colleges shut down memery

Breaking: college-age kids like spicy memes.

I’m sure you’re shocked. /s

I’ve avoided talking about higher ed on this blog because my day job involves way too much of it, and I really didn’t want to bring work into this space where I talk about what I want. However. The left continues to wreak its hive-mind onto everything it touches (including higher ed) and since I can’t always speak my mind in the workplace (I’d still like to have a job), I’ll speak it here.

Today I read the second news that college officials are discovering that their student body is made up of Gen Z savages:

A private Facebook group used by Pomona students, known as “U PC BREAUX” — pronounced like “[Are] you PC, bro?” with “PC” standing in for “politically correct” — was filled with “images and comments so vile that they would be right at home in the comments section of The Daily Stormer,” a neo-Nazi website. That was how the page was described by Ross Steinberg, the student journalist who broke the story in an opinion piece titled “The Dark Underbelly of Claremont’s Meme Culture.” Examples of the memes are available here, on another student news outlet’s website.

The college has launched an investigation into the matter, and officials said the posts fit under the college’s guidelines for a “bias-related incident.”

Guess what, everybody: students have a point of view! And sometimes, it’s not even the same one as your own! That means its biased and they have to go in for reeducation! Because K-12 brainwashing clearly wasn’t enough!

And it gets worse. Some of those despicable free thinkers might even ACT on their convictions!

Memes were posted about rape, genocide and, in one example, calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants because they were being too loud, Steinberg told Inside Higher Ed. He said he had been randomly invited to the group, which contained about 300 members. Pomona enrolls about 1,650 students.

Bahahahahahaha. Such deviancy, calling ICE.

Truly, upholding the law is the new counterculture. Back 10 years ago, I imagined something like that would have to happen but I could not conceptualize at all what that might look like.

Who knew that being the law-abiding rebels would also be bringers of mirth?

You laughed, don’t lie.

Kids, keep having fun. Don’t worry about the no-fun police. Your memes are funny. You might even do some good and change some minds. Maybe not on the administration, but definitely in the student body and maybe even the peon-level staff.

Your biggest mistake was using Facebook.

For the Love of Pepe

This week, man.

Between the DACA debacle, the #contentemmys, and’s meltdown, I didn’t think much more craziness could happen in a week.

I was wrong. Of course!

Matt Furie, the original creator of our beloved Pepe the Frog, is suing and DMCAing (it’s like SWATing, but with DMCA takedown notices) alt-righters who have used Pepe.

From the article:

“[Furie] was very serious when he said that we wanted to make clear that Pepe was not the property of the alt-right and couldn’t be used by the alt-right,” Louis Tompros, one of Furie’s intellectual property lawyers, told me.

Gee, where have I heard that before?

Oh, right:

One would think that, if one were serious about influencing the popular consciousness (as one supposes that a person in the public eye doing something like comics or comedy does), one would be absolutely ecstatic for one’s meme (read: thought virus) going viral. Wiggling its way into the brains of people everywhere. Being plastered on every mobile phone, tablet, and computer from San Francisco to Barcelona.

But alas, this is not to be. These people are so petty and small-minded that they can’t even set their jokes free.

This is why the left can’t meme. You can’t direct a meme. You can’t centrally plan a meme. You can’t copyright a meme and then DMCA takedown everyone who doesn’t follow the rules.

Memes are wild, memes are free. And if a meme loves you, it’ll come back around.

In conclusion:

Also from the Motherboard article: the laughable idea that r/The_Donald is “one of the the alt-right’s most popular gathering places.”

More mullets

More evidence for the return of the mullet has presented itself–in the wild! And in the US, not Korea!

This ad for a fake cheese product is running in the August 2017 issue of Real Simple magazine. I’m sure that it’s in other magazines, too.

The tagline is “cheesier than ever.”

Things this ad has going for it (and by “it,” I mean the mullet):

  • Attractive man wearing the mullet
  • Delightfully cheesy content
  • Gets you to think ahead to August 7th aka International Mullet Day
  • Decent biceps

Things that this ad takes away from the memeing of the popularity of the mullet:

  • Too much 80s theme–takes it out of TODAY or THE NEAR FUTURE aka WHEN THE MULLET SHOULD BE POPULAR
  • Fake cheese (surprisingly not soy)
  • The hairstyling is flat and uninteresting
  • Aimed at the mom demographic*

*Although I suppose if you get the mom demographic screaming over something, it’s officially entrenched in the public’s consciousness (see also: Twi-Moms).

It’s not like mullets have ever really gone away from the public eye, but they are a convenient shorthand for a lot of people to refer to backwards hicks, or dated behavior. Stuff that can’t keep up sufficiently with the progress of modernism.

A modern non-dairy -gluten -soy company choosing to depict itself (however humorously) with a Mullet Man is — I am choosing to believe — a sign that the mullet has run fully circle in the irony mill and is now biding its time to reenter the public arena of hairstyles as a legitimate style.

That is, of course, assuming that mullets themselves are sentient in some capacity.

You know it’s true.

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