Sunday, March 08, 2020

Surge In Sales Of Books About Plagues: Daredevil Nik Wallenda walks tightrope across active volcano

Daredevil Nik Wallenda walks tightrope across active volcano Agence France Presse. Very on-brand for 2020

Surge In Sales Of Books About Plagues

Camus’s The Plague follows the inhabitants of Oran, an Algerian town that is sealed off by quarantine as it is ravaged by bubonic plague. Penguin is rushing through a reprint of its English translation to meet demand, but said on Thursday it had sold out of stock on Amazon. The publisher added that sales in the last week of February were up by 150% on the same period in 2019. –The Guardian

Back in 1981, I identified with Dean Koontz as my late sister Aga was forced to be part of  the Soviet biological weapons syndicates ... 

The aphorism “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity” has not become a philosophical guideline for no reason.

Take, for example, Arts Minister Don Harwin’s handling of the Powerhouse Museum’s move to Parramatta. It takes a particular talent to spend $645 million on a state-of-the-art institution and still anger residents near the present Ultimo precinct and at the museum’s new site.
Conflict of interest a recent development By Kylar Loussikian and Samantha Hutchinson 

Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit 

The author is Ashley Mears and the subtitle is Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit

Haven’t you ever wondered why more books shouldn’t just take social phenomena and explain them, rather than preening their academic feathers with a lot of non-committal dense information?  Well, this book tries to explain the Miami club where renting an ordinary table for the night costs 2k, with some spending up to 250k, along with the underlying sociological, economic, and anthropological mechanisms behind these arrangements.  Here is just a start on the matter:

Any club, whether in a New York City basement or on a Saint-Tropez beach, is always shaped by a clear hierarchy.  Fashion models signal the “A-list,” but girls are only half of the business model.  There are a few different categories of men that every club owner wants inside, and there is a much larger category of men they aim to keep out.

Or this:

Bridge and tunnel, goons, and ghetto.  These are men whose money can’t compensate for their perceived status inadequacies.  The marks of their marginal class positions are written on their bodies, flagging an automatic reject at the door.
A clever man can try to use models as leverage to gain entry and discounts at clubs.  A man surrounded by models will not have to spend as much on bottles.  I interviewed clients who talked explicitly about girls as bargaining chips they could use at the door.
The older, uglier men may have to pay 2k to rent a table for the evening, whereas “decent-looking guys with three or four models” will be let in for free with no required minimum.  And:
Men familiar with the scene make these calculations even if they have money to spend: How many beautiful girls can I get to offset how I look?  How many beautiful girls will it take to offset the men with me?  How much money am I willing to spend for the night in the absence of quality girls?
How is this for a brutal sentence?:
Girls determine hierarchies of clubs, the quality of people inside, and how much money is spent.
Here is another ouch moment:
…I revisit a second critical insight of Veblen’s on the role of women in communicating men’s status.  In this world, girls function as a form of capital.  Their beauty generates enormous symbolic and economic resources for the men in their presence, but that capital is worth far more to men than to the girls who embody it.
if you ever needed to be convinced not to eat out at places with beautiful women, this book will do the trick.  Solve for the equilibrium, people…
You can pre-order here.  (By the way, I’ve been thinking of writing more about “lookism,” and why opponents of various other bad “isms” have such a hard time extending the campaign to that front.)