Friday, May 1, 2009

Ad Counicil Exposee

From Rosie the Riveter, convincing the women of America that working outside the house was not only socially acceptable, but desirable, to Smokey the Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog, public service advertisements have been an integral part of the American tradition since the beginning of World War II (Ad). The Ad Council, formed in 1942 to assist the War Advertising Council in selling war bonds, is the organization credited with developing the entire segment of public service advertising; they claim, for the purposes of “raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives” (Ad). By the present, Americans will find it difficult to interact with their surroundings without engaging a message of awareness, thrift, or morality from the Ad council. These messages are delivered in a variety of media, including print, television, and on the Internet and are regarded by many as Americana; however, the true nature of public service advertisements is deeply rooted in the anti-Axis propaganda of the 1930s and 1940s. Even today, the tone and delivery of Ad Council advertisements suggest a message of morality and behavior befitting of a good American.

Returning to the example of Rosie the Riveter, she was the persona lent to the idea that America needed to generate nearly 2 million jobs to continue the war effort during World War II. Indeed, the Ad Council saw many of their most memorable campaigns into circulation during the period between 1941 and 1945, including: Smokey Bear and “Loose Lips Sink Ships”, both released in 1942. The purpose of these ads was to ensure American support of the war effort in Europe and the Pacific by pushing awareness of domestic issues and fostering a sense of self regulation, as many government workers and interior servicemen had joined the ranks of the Army and Marine Corps. After the war, the Ad council turned its focus to fighting the problems of America inside America. With crying Indians to end pollution and slogans like “The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love” (Ad) to support the Peace Corps, Ad Council propaganda has remained at the forefront of a movement to keep Americans informed of what is right, true, good, and moral.

The Ad Council is chartered as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and solicits donations, volunteers, pro-bono advertising development, and media space from its partners. On its list of donors, nearly every DOW 30 company is represented in some capacity, as are smaller cap companies like Microsoft and Google as well as individual donors (Ad). The funds and time donated are funneled into extensive amounts of market research and campaign development to stay abreast of issues affecting all Americans; as the Ad Council website stipulates in their requirements for what can become a campaign (no specific demographics or narrow causes). The nature of the Ad Council's campaigns is necessarily one that must affect viewers indiscriminately, and so lends itself to moral order thought dissemination, generated by the brightest minds in the advertising sphere and funded by America's biggest companies.

Consequently, this organization is perhaps the best equipped in the U.S. to subject the entire nation regularly to its agendas. Additionally, most Americans have never seen a time without public service advertisements. We must then, be forced to regard the Ad Council as highly integrated system of control, employed by the U.S. Government and all major U.S. Corporations to its self-professed end of raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. This entails the latter as having the power not only to rule us and sell to us, respectively, but also play an instrumental role in convincing us as to what we should do. Arguably, this is the purpose of all advertising and would cause many to regard the latter claim as obvious; however the means are not in question, it is the end that is concerning.

Given the altruistic nature of many of these campaigns, viewers may find it difficult to disagree with the messages offered. The danger in this practice is over-repetition of a singular association: namely the association between common-sense or positive social messages and the Ad Council logo. If the average American is affected in the manner that the Ad Council intends, he will believe that, if not immediately then eventually that everything posited by the Ad Council is truth, absolutely. Given the origins of the Ad Council as propagandists and their ability to marshal resources, the unwillingness of average Americans to question their motives is not only dangerous, it is potentially fatal to free thought. Another potential side-effect of mass-market-morality is especially dangerous when it presents in the lazier castes of American society: absolution of responsibility for developing one's own morality. In all certainty, the average American has developed a penchant for instant gratification and laziness; as Jules Lobel puts it, “Americans' appetite for immediate gratification has only accelerated . . . to the point where today they gorge on fast food, sound bites, and one-liners. They breathe, move, think, and take in everything amid a culture of fast and faster. “ Given that conclusion, the idea that Americans would opt for a pre-packaged morality in lieu of spending time and thought power deriving one of their own, vacates the sphere of ridiculous entirely and becomes highly plausible instead.

In conclusion, the Ad Council combines the market forces of the most powerful economy on the planet with the most skillful advertisers in America and markets morality to Americans unwilling or unable to challenge the meaning or the source. As a means of control, the Ad Council is incredibly effective in its approach: turning the obvious into important and the innocuous into moral law. The partnership fosters the ideals of consumerism and through its work, the Ad Council reinforces the consume-till-content mindset by convincing people that even morality must come from the open market. To that end, if we hope to ever see a society in which Americans fully evaluate the things they consume, from Big-Macs to morality, the Ad Council must be viewed as what it truly is, as must its audience. Before Americans lose all control over what they believe, they must take responsibility for what they should do, starting with thinking for themselves.

Works Cited

Ad Council, The. <>. 04/26/2009.

Lobel, Jules. “America's Penchant for Instant Gratification.” <>. 11/18/2003. 04/26/2009.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Between papers. . .

An entire semester in Spain and no more foreign language requirements. . .only $7500!

Damn, thats a fund-raising project. Half of the money must be delivered on September 28th and the rest is due on October 29th. then I get to spend my last City College semester in Spain. Additionally, I will be home in time to draft my findings and present them to the BHC to present at the Honors Symposium in April at Cal. I am seriously considering this.

If you are reading this and have a good idea where I should start raising money, please comment. I figure that I can depend on some amount of financial aid, save as much money as possible, and apply for scholorships, but that still leaves me about $3500 short :(.

Spain! Focus. . .dont get excited. . .yet.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is Advertising just Hypnopaedia?

In a world that bombards its inhabitants with constant advertising, is a harmless commercial really harmless? In a synopsis offered by Dennis Mahoney of the Morning Times, his readers are given a look at a television advertisement for Coors' Light beer from his perspective. It reads:

Asses/mini-skirts. Clinking cans. Aerial view of football field. Smiling cheerleader. Low-five! Fattish guy in a parking lot with grill, frattish white guy throws football, frattish black guy catches it, date-rapish guy kisses girl. Someone eating meat from various angles: Meat, meat, meat! Painted-face retarded man in clown wig cheers at stadium! Fans go ape in living room! Team mascot/desperate non-SAG actor in animal outfit cheers on field. Smiling twins with pom-poms. Fan makes ‘yeah!’ or ‘rawk!’ sign. Tackle, tackle, tackle! Tit-shaking cheerleaders, rumpshaking cheerleaders, more fans, retarded guy in clown wig, twins, mascots/desperate non-SAG actors in animal outfits drop-kicking one another, fans chanting/grabbing Coors, cheerleaders looking sassily back over their shoulders, winking, having led cheers.

The song playing throughout is called ‘I Love Twins.’ Actual lyrics:

I love playing two-hand touch
Eating way too much
Watching my team win
With the twins

I love quarterbacks eating dirt
Pom-poms and short skirts
Fans who won’t quit
And those twins

And I love you, too!
Here’s to football!

In this humorous, yet poignant example of commercialism-run-amok, Mahoney shows how advertisers need not even associate the product they are persuading the consumer to buy, only barrage them with meaningless symbols and sex to net the perceived benefits of a lifestyle the product may somehow unlock. In a recent study published by the Cell Press, researchers found that, when they “created visual cues from scrambled, novel, abstract symbols” they were able to reason that, “if subjects were unable to correctly perceive any difference between the masked cues, then they were also unable to build conscious representations of cue-outcome associations, [and were able to] conclude that, even without conscious processing of contextual cues, our brain can learn their reward value and use them to provide a bias on decision making.” (Cell) Given this conclusion, it is reasonable to infer that the former example need not ever expressly mention anything about the product being sold, only that it confer the appropriate cost/benefit relationship and lend a sense of well-being to the consumer. This form of advertising seeks to implant an quasi-Pavlovian response in the mind of the watcher by associating the feelings of fun, youthful exhilaration, and drunken flirtation with Coors' Light beer. However, the reality of the situation is that, if the 21-34 year old men the ad targets (USA) were tailgating and flirting and drinking, they wound not be in their living rooms and could not actually see the ad on television. To quote the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning regarding hypnopaedia, “Moral education (apparently, the equation of beer to happiness), which ought never, under any circumstances, be rational,” (34) in this case appears as such; Coors' seems to have left the business of beer altogether and has begun selling lifestyles.

Additionally, advertisers make use of heavy amounts of repetition to drive their brand strategies. During a single, prime-time television show, a watcher may see a single commercial 3 or four times, for a total of approximately 90 to 120 seconds of conditioning per product per 60-minute show. Extend this to the full programming schedule for the evening and it now becomes three 60-minute shows, multiplied by 90 to 120 seconds of conditioning per show, totaling 270 to 360 seconds (4.5 – 6 minutes) of conditioning per product per night. This proves to be strongly correlated to the hypnopaedic conditioning schedules in Brave New World, in which the population is subjected to rigorous batteries of moral education in a systematic and methodical progression of relevant messages as they sleep. Even the way Bernard considers, “Five hundred repetitions once a week from thirteen to seventeen.” may evoke an image of an advertising executive buying air-time from a television executive.

This combination of heavy repetition with suggestions of what a good consumer should do to be happy, suggests conditioning of a moral order taking place during a time when the watchers are least likely to resist it. Given the schedule of the average American worker that leaves his garage at 8 AM to arrive to work by 9 AM, he is likely to consume goods, services and advertising all day, until he gets back into his car, drives home and plants himself before his television, physically and mentally exhausted, and proceeds to achieve contentment by having his behaviors from the day completely reinforced by brand-driven advertising. The average American consumer lives in a world in which he is constantly conditioned to buy more and save less: from buying Coors' Light beer to remember the glory days of college, to the next car that he is supposed to buy, to the drugs that will cure everything from headache to death. He is conditioned to never be without, for fear of failure, or sickness, or pain. He is engaged by the manufacturers of his happiness every night and he is sold the promises of nirvana through consumption. He is told not to think about what he buying, only to buy it and look for the happiness that comes as a result. He is conditioned to live a consequentialist existence in which happiness comes at the cost of his labor and the dollar is king.

The practice of supplying subliminal messages to subjects in a state of reduced consciousness is not completely new. If consumers were left to their own devices, that is to say, allowed to consume blindly without the constant reinforcement of advertising, then it is likely that the climate of consumption would be very different. Without the constant direction, the possibility of a truly consumer-driven economy, in which the consumer judges products and services for their worth and promotes success through their sheer buying power combined with evaluative reason, becomes evident. This is not the case however, and the marketing machine is far too sophisticated to allow for such levels of thought. Advertising has been slowly shaped and crafted to execute its purpose through clever nuance and subtlety, rarely directly stating any truths. In 1932, Aldous Huxley, writing in the character of the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning says, “wordless conditioning is crude and wholesale; cannot bring the home the finer distinctions, cannot inculcate the more complex courses of behavior. For that there must be words, but words without reason. In short, hypnopaedia.” (35, 36). This statement appears to accurately foreshadow the current state of mass-market advertising by suggesting that seemingly pointless advertisements do in fact have a strong purpose. To give another example of seemingly pointless ads that reinforce a morality of consume-till-content:

Jerry Seinfeld in a tent, watching a bear show on a big Toshiba television, which is cripplingly funny because he’s watching TV in a tent! American Express allows you to purchase tents and televisions—you could make your own cripplingly funny ad! The bear show notes that bears have a ‘secret competitive nature’ and we see a couple of bears drive by in the background… in a golf cart! Jerry says he’d like to see this secret competitive nature in action, but he doesn’t see the golf-cart bears because… he’s watching television in the tent! Use American Express! It’s cripplingly funny! (Mahoney.)

There is no cost/benefit analysis, no features to speak of, just a ridiculous scenario and a logo. To a person that never uses a credit card, this may seem innocuous and trivial; but to the American Express card holder, the point is perfectly well made: Jerry Seinfeld uses his Amex to buy whatever he wants. . .Congratulations for being just like Jerry. There is no actual reason behind Seinfeld selling Amex, but when the watcher is half-asleep, sitting before the television, and digesting his dinner he is much more susceptible to the power of suggestion. This is the goal of hypnopaedia and advertising. They both affect the semi-conscious subject in such a manner as to teach what is right and reinforce correct behaviors. The obvious benefit to this type of conditioning is the lack of willpower defense on behalf of the watcher. If the watcher cannot reason, the watcher cannot resist.

Without the active ability to discern meaning from meaning's inverse, the watcher is subject to limitless suggestion, and may even go so far as to adopt a morality of purely false reason. An example of this is the Pokemon franchise. With toys, games, cards, movies, and a long running television series complete with child-targeted advertising, the franchise has grossed $455M in movie sales alone (Kotaku). The franchise sells a morality to children which, on the surface appears to be about respecting each other, fair play, and never giving up. However, the multi-billion dollar grossing franchise makes no explicit statement about morality, as it does about selling children's toys. This example shows that advertising firms make no distinction between children and adults, save one: children hold power over their parents; parents rendered impotent and without willpower by years and decades of conditioning from television, radio, and print to buy and not consider the long-term effects. We now see a self-propagating model of consumer control that spans generations of semi-conscious consumers.

Having established that effective advertising employs subliminal conditioning, and that subliminal conditioning constitutes hypnopaedia, it can be safely concluded that effective advertising is, if not exactly identical to, equivalent to the hypnopaedia of Brave New World. The governing bodies appear different: corporations controlling consumers rather than government, directly; but they appear nonetheless. Niel Postman refers to this surrender of culture (and consciousness) to technology (seen here as the newer, bigger, better mousetrap) as Technopoly. In the chapter titled, “The Great Symbol Drain,” Postman uses advertising as an example to demonstrate the manner in which traditional symbols are rendered devoid of their meaning through trivialization of usage, i.e. fat people selling light beer to other fat people. To the rational person, the idea of gross obesity may suggest a health hazard, an unhealthy lifestyle, or irresponsible consumption habits. To Coors', it represents fun, and flirting, and sports. It then becomes the goal of Coors' to convince the watcher that fat people are not in fact unhealthy, but more fun than athletic sober ones. The very words used to describe the actors come under attack by this form of advertising. By bastardizing societies' symbols and changing the meaning of the words used to describe them, Postman would argue that advertising is attacking the very core of the American value system, by offering its own version of the consumer narrative. This narrative is not a doctrine of right and wrong, good or evil; it is a narrative of consume and consume.

To that end, Huxley's hypnopaedia set forth to accomplish the same. It suggests the proper dosages of soma and reminds the citizens to buy more clothing, rather than mend the old. It teaches class consciousness and the appropriate ways to behave socially, not unlike luxury automobile and cigarette ads. It teaches that impulses should be acted upon, instead of repressed, a la fast food and condom commercials. It creates a practice of sleep-thinking; very much like the people that stand in line at Starbucks and get the same 560 calorie muffin and decaf-venti-nonfat-no whip-extra white chocolate mocha (nonfat, of course, because I'm watching my figure ;)) at 7:36 every weekday morning, and 9:32 on weekends. It rewards the masses for being the masses and chides them for thinking too critically. If she is not a librarian, taking down her glasses and unbuttoning her shirt to seduce a greasy, unshaven, overweight chump in overalls; the educated, discerning, self-determined woman is entirely too smart and successful to be portrayed in television commercials. This is evidenced in the latter's complete absence in television advertisements. As with hypnopaedia, advertising refuses to portray a reality separate from the morality they determine to be pure.

In conclusion, the last three thousand years have been filled with the philosophies of virtue, and morality, and action, leading up to a full-scale rejection of organization-sponsored control for the alternative of self-determinism and freedom in the late 1920s. Since then, evidence of the rejection of thought and acceptance of control has flown in the face of any person so inclined as to ask, “Why do we do the things that we do?” and “what is happiness?” In short, society has sacrificed its will to act for instant gratification and user-friendliness. As for a call to action, it is inconceivable at this point to quantify the amount of counter-thought necessary to slow the momentum of the freight-train that is the American advertising industry, and awaken its citizens to the prospects of a brave new world of their own, one in which they are free to think and pursue happiness in their own right. Thought of that magnitude would have epic implications and would necessarily constitute a global revolution with unknowable consequences. The alternative however, is nothing more than the same; nothing more, nothing less. The players will change, but the message will not. The reclamation of society's will to act and think is crucial to avoiding this latter series of consequences and should be paramount in the lives of its participants.

Works Cited

Cell Press. "Subliminal Learning Demonstrated In Human Brain." Science Daily. 28 August, 2008. 23 March, 2009.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Collins Publishing, 2004.

Mahoney, Dennis. "Ads are Stupid." The Morning News. 05 November, 2002. 23 March, 2009.

McCarthy, Michael. "Coors' twins ads a hit with target market"USA 02 March, 2003. 23 March, 2009.

McWhertor, Michael.”Pok√©mon Movies Gross Almost A Half Billion Dollars" 13 August, 2008. 23 March, 2009.

Postman, Niel. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books. 1993.

Snyder, Michael. “Chicago's ad:tech: The big brand idea strikes back for advertising.” Wisconsin Technology Network. 07 August, 2008. 23 March, 2009.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Archimedes Claw and Corporate Feudalism

This assignment asked us to research a technology discovered before 1900 and analyze its effects on civilization. Please feel free to comment.

The great classical engineer Archimedes is credited with designing technologies and theories that revolutionized the word manpower. The claw that bears his namesake was actually an ancient boom crane, designed to utilize leverage and a block and tackle apparatus of his own design to motivate and maneuver a monstrous grappling hook. The boom’s fulcrum and pivot was the pinnacle of a four pointed, pyramidal structure that lent exceptional support to the claw and provided the base for the incredible amount of leverage needed to execute the claw’s intended purpose of capsizing attacking ships. Most notably during the second Punic war, when the enemy galleons attacked the walls of Syracuse with their massive rams, the booms would lower their claws into the sea and attempt to seize the longitudinal beams of the ships’ hulls. Upon the seizure, men would pull the rope connected to the effort of the boom lever, the claw would lift from the water and the ship would be capsized. This represents one early instances of man using machine to lift immense weights and deposit them elsewhere.

After major advances in the 1st through 3rd centuries A.D., and falling into disuse at the demise of the Western Roman Empire, the crane was resurrected in the 11th century to support maritime operations in the Netherlands and Prussia (Coulton, 7-19). The use of the crane to transport massive loads onto ships and sail them across the known world gave rise to the first ocean traders and not long after, pirates. By the end of the 17th century, the Dutch East India Corporation was the dominant trader, dealing in commodities ranging from coffee to slaves. The technology continued to evolve throughout the Age of Reason, giving rise to taller and taller structures, as well as more remote colonies. By 1931, the British Empire encircled the globe and the Empire State Building had been erected to a height of 1230 feet, becoming the world’s tallest building, and from the top, the tallest seat of power in existence. Having now constructed monoliths of such epic proportion that cranes had to be used to lift other cranes into place hundreds of feet over the city, man could now stand on solid ground one quarter of one mile from the streets of New York City. The ideas of immense mass and weight had become manageable as a result of the crane, completely tertiary to man's achievement of his vision.

The erection of these towering structures becomes symbolic in the coming decades, paralleling the rise of the American Capitalist. The New York skyline is the result of a major push in architecture in the late 19th century to achieve the biggest and tallest buildings in existence. Unlike traditional buildings at the time, skyscrapers utilized a skeleton structure of steel and iron beams that, in the case of the Home Insurance Building constitute approximately one third of the weight of similarly strong measures of concrete and masonry (Petersen). A towering crane was then, a necessary condition of skyscraper construction. As architects became more ambitious, so did the need for taller cranes. In the case of the Sears tower in Chicago, cranes were lifted to the tops of smaller buildings, where they were then used to complete secondary lifts of the materials necessary to complete the tower. In the age of skyscrapers, the pinnacle of success truly was the pinnacle of human civil engineering. This idea is espoused in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, in which main characters Howard Roark and Dominique Francon spend the final scene of the book, after defeating the forces of immoral collectivism, speeding up the main column of a tower crane up the precipice to a new civilization (727). Never before had man been so equipped to execute his will and establish his place in the natural order.

Even today, the skyscraper and the Capitalist are inextricably intertwined. In his January, 2008 article, “Booms, Busts, and Cranes,” Doug French describes while, “standing on the 88th floor observation deck of the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, any capitalist gets an exhilarating rush, looking down upon over 5,000 high-rise buildings (all built over the past two decades) in a teeming city of 18 million people.” This intrinsic sense of societal dominance has reshaped the way in which corporations function globally. As has been epitomized by the financial scandals and failures of the last three years, corporations and their executives have become increasingly apt to believe themselves untouchable under the rules of law and reason. We have an entirely new ruling class of humans that spend their professional lives looking down over civilization. In this new feudalism, fifes are defined by brands and companies do battle not with guns and steel, but with advertising and product launches. Serfs no longer toil in the fields, but spend their entire adult lives trapped at a desk, managing information and being managed by despotic office managers. Clothing of soiled rags have been replaced by bad, off the rack suits and cheap ties; and horses by the Smart car. For this, I do not mean to suggest that the Capitalist is to blame, necessarily. But the Capitalist built the tower, and the bureaucrat, like the cockroach, invariably followed.

Archimedes likely could not have foreseen the implications of giving man the power to lift thousands of times his own weight, to thousands of times his own height. The crane is the technology that contributed to the rapid expansion of the European colonial empires, the practice of nautical commerce, made the skyscraper possible, and thus changed the way we perceive business and governments. It elevated businessmen to positions of power in the stratosphere, and contributed to the fundamental disconnection between businesses and buyers, facilitated the creation of the consumer class. As a man that lived in the second century B.C., Archimedes is quoted as having said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” (Pappus.) It appears, perhaps, he has.

Works Cited

Coulton, J.J. “Lifting in Early Greek Architecture.” The Journal of Helenic Studies. 94. pp 7-17.

French, Doug. “Booms, Busts, and Cranes.” January 7, 2008. February 28, 2009.


Pappus of Alexandria. Synagoge: Book VIII. Direct quotation of Archimedes: c. BC 230- 212. Greek Text: Pappi Alexandrini Collectionis. c. AD 340.

Petersen, Ivars. “The First Skyscraper – New Theory that the Home Insurance Building was not the First.” The Science Times. April 5, 1986. February 27, 2009.

Postman, Niel. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books. 1993.

Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Plume. 1994.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society.

I wrote this for my Philosophy 2 class. Dash suggested that I post it. . .please feedback.

In South Park, Episode 610: “Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society,” the writers address the subject of men and their subconscious subjection to the biological effect of breasts. The issue demonstrated is whether or not women may be treated equally in society despite their biological advantage over men and if the current societal outlook is justified. The writers take the stand that: From a biological perspective men view women only as sets of breasts, and that privately (as demonstrated in the parents having the sex talk with Stan, one of the Boys), this is acceptable. However, in the workplace or school, the effect of breasts is the same, though women in this case expect equal opportunity to compete for the same roles as men. The argument that follows is that: In order for a society that values sexual equality to function, its participants must have perfect information regarding the predispositions of the opposite sex. The argument is deductive in nature and functions on a hierarchical structure of smaller deductive arguments that are reinforced by analogies and counterexamples. The stand is absolutely about biology superseding societal constructs, and the morality put forth is consequentially oriented. The episode argues that special training and awareness is required to elevate the social contract of sexual equality past the constraints of biology.

In the first argument, it is claimed: If men act differently (competitively or territorially) inside of the presence of breasts, then breasts have power over men. For the second premise, the main characters ( that I will go on to refer to as “the Boys”) take a great interest in Bebe (the antagonist, owner of “the Breasts”) after a lengthy break from school; after which she is purported to “be wearing a really awesome shirt! [They] don't know why, but suddenly Bebe is really cool, and [we] should totally hang out with her.” The Boys incorporate Bebe into their normal social routine, throwing rocks at cars, and proceed to teach Bebe how to hit a car with a rock. In the process, we witness a devolution of the Boys into Neanderthals that proceed to fight over Bebe's attention. A counterexample to this is offered late in the episode in which Bebe wears a cardboard box over her torso and the Boys act normally, lending truth to the claim that: In the presence of breasts, men act differently. We may therefore ascertain that breasts have power over men; and that the argument is deductively valid by modus ponens.

In the second argument, Bebe, seeing the infernal power of her breasts over men, attempts to equalize her place in society by removing her breasts. In an exchange with a plastic surgeon, she is afraid that she may be treated differently for having large breasts and grow up receiving everything that she wants from men. If she is not forced to earn for herself, she concludes that she will grow up to be a ”lame person.” The first premise of this argument is that all males that dominate society (in this case, represented by a plastic surgeon that offers to augment her breasts, but not reduce them) work to reduce the power of breasts by creating a social contract that is unwittingly entered into by attractive females, since they would benefit (in one sense) from it. If the biological power of the breast is reduced, then men will continue to dominate the social power structure. Therefore, by hypothetical syllogism, If all men work to reduce the power of breasts, then breasts will not have power over men and men will continue to rule society.

Using the conclusions of the above arguments, with respect to sexual equality, the argument looks something like:

1.If all men work to reduce the power of breasts, then breasts will not have power over men and men will continue to rule society.
2.It is not the case that breasts do not have power over men and men continue to rule society.
3.Therefore, it is not the case that men should work to reduce the power of breasts.

To further reinforce this conclusion, the episode goes on to involve the intellectual female (Wendy) having a similar plastic surgery consultation to augment her breasts, to gain power over other females and thusly, the Boys. She receives an augmentation and, after Bebe's experiment with the cardboard box torso obstructer shows the Boys the nature of their actions, and how to make them socially acceptable, Wendy is fiercely ridiculed for her obvious power play. The “should” in the conclusion of the above modus tollens suggests that, in the moral dimension, if society demands equality then biological power structures such as breast size, must remain unaltered, that the playing field remains equal and people of both sexes may regard each other without the complications of what amounts to be biological warfare.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bike Out of the City Blog.

Unlike the last, this will not be considered as a new heading for my blog.

Lengthy hillclimbs, too much caffeine, and gobs and gobs of philosophy; welcome to my days, and I couldn't be happier. Everyone is driving themselves crazy over this recession, and for what? Maybe, just maybe this will be the event that shakes people from their thoughtless, dreamless slumber-state of existence.

Not to travel down that path, but a different one. Highway 1 in Marin is an incredible place to ride. Imagine, if you will, you are at the crest of a mountain road, looking down thousands of feet to where the road terminates into the rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Then you plummet. Approaching speeds of 40 miles per hour, less than a vertical meter from the road's surface, and stretching out your body to its lateral limits to adjust your center of gravity and keep your only connection to the Earth from careening from the precipice.

Your thumbs contain muscles enough to pivot the bike up to 50 degrees in either direction, and you do it so many times that you begin to exhaust your mind, the consequences of failure are unthinkable. Hairpin after hairpin turn, breaking the posted speed limit without the use of an engine, only you and the bicycle. The wind noise is incredible, and the adrenaline slows down how you perceive time itself, calculation after calculation. The word for this is: Descent.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bike in the city blog.

Maybe a new heading for this blog. I'll try it out and get back to you.

On my continuously growing list of where to and not to ride my bike in the city, a new location comes to mind and actually takes the top spot of "where not to ride." Bayshore is the new king of shitty rides in San Francisco. There is a bike lane. . .it's not to say that it's safe or anything reasonable such as that. It's more a token to the residents of that unfortunate part of town.

I had to go to Fed Ex to pick up an envelope that the driver couldn't have just left at my door and save everyone involved a while lot of time. So I hop on my bike and plan to make Fed Ex a stop on my way to City College. At Valencia and 25th (google maps shows a clear route across 101) I head west, only to come face to face with a retaining wall that represents 101. Great. The bike route sign points me toward 23rd, so I turn and head on down a seldom used bike lane (sure is becoming a thematic element in this story.) This lane zigged and zagged for 6 blocks: between busses and vans, into incoming traffic, across the interstate, down a hill of road that looked as if it hadn't been repaves since it was laid 50 years ago, around a blind corner, into more oncoming traffic, and finally out to Caeser Chavez. . .where I had to make an uncontrolled left turn. 2 dump trucks and a bus later, I was on Caeser Chavez and a mere 2 blocks from Fed Ex.

I made it to Fed Ex in time to find out that the envelope contained a communication I had already received and that this venture had been for naught. Fuck. Now faced with the prospect of bad to the right or unknown to the left, I turned left from Fed Ex and toward Bayshore. At first, it was pretty standard, beaten up streets, warehouses, trucks that don't signal or check mirrors. But lo! A bike lane emerged! I'm safe, as long as I stay in the lane. Bad idea #1. The smallest vehicle on these beaten up streets was nothing less than a Chevy Astro van, and theybwere not looking for cyclists.

Jumping, dodging, sprinting, and cursing the whole way, I made turn after turn working my way back to the freeway. My brain was in nothing short of nightmare mode; you know the one, where you are running at full speed and every turn you make nets worse circumstances? Yeah, this was that. Just when I thought I would be killed by a swerving fish truck or kidnapped by a Triad gang, I made it to a gas station at the off ramp of the freeway and Caeser Chavez. I wasn't home free, but I had at least a glimmer of hope at this point. With the stench of sour garbage filling my nose, I head toward Bayshore Ave. with renewed vigor (or stupidity, not sure which) and finally make it. Turning left while avoiding a dump truck, I sprint ahead only to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting a 1980-something Toyota POS, lock up my back wheel and drift smoothly into traffic, oops. With a burst of adrenaline-fuelled might, I muscled my way into a service alley that brought me back around to the goal I had in mind, the portal under the freeway back to society. The "Welcome to Bernal Heights" sign was like salvation. . .until I looked up.

Ahead of me, rising out of the ground like a pillar of adversity,was no less than 4 blocks of stupidly steep, treacherously narrow, wind road that ascended at an angle of demoralizing magnitude. Teeth gritted and prepared for a fight, I downshifted and pulled hard; I was not going back to Bayshore. After 4 blocks, the grade increased and the left turn revealed 4 more blocks needed to claw my way out of Hell. I persevered. Arriving at the top, I didn't even take time to draw in the setting or look for a skyline view before shifting up and bombing down the hill; I was getting out of here. Folsom street never looked so good as it did when I crossed it. Free at last; now, I just have do finish all of the climb to City College. . .