Friday, April 30, 2010

Fussell on Reagan

Since it’s cited pretty regularly around these parts, I finally undertook to read Paul Fussell’s book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System.

Fussell writes with great perspicacity on the status indicators that separate the nine social classes he identifies, the most interesting of which are the “middle” and the “upper middle” classes.  These two in particular exist in perpetual conflict:  the middle aspires to upper-middle status; the upper-middle meanwhile strives to maintain its exclusivity.  In many contexts, the upper-middle class of today is the SWPL class.  I make this comparison not necessarily to insult – as I have written before, SWPLs like some pretty cool stuff – but in it’s effort to keep the middle-class in its place, it is in the SWPL interest to constantly change its status markers.  Thus, while many of Fussell’s observations are timeless, his book could do with a significant update to make it current, with bi-annual revisions after that.

But the aspect of the book I want to address here is political.  Half Sigma, a stern disciple of Fussell’s, has in the last 18 months gained notoriety for his attacks on Sarah Palin, the focus of which, when not descending into “Trig Trutherism”, have been the markers of her lower-class origins and lack of an Ivy League education.  Now, on the one hand, I will be the first to admit that Sarah Palin has been a comedown from the high hopes I had for her in the fall of 2008.  I don’t believe that her net effect on the conservative movement has been a good one, if for no other reason than she consumes oxygen better spent on more viable political figures.

But I was struck by the similarity of the criticisms that HS and others have leveled at her to Fussell’s description of the greatest president of the past century:

Ronald Reagan, of course, doesn’t need to affect the establishment style, sensing accurately that his lowbrow, God-fearing, intellect-distrusting constituency regards it as an affront (which, of course, to them it is).  Regan’s style can be designated Los Angeles (or even Orange) County Wasp-Chutzpah.  It registers the sense that if you stubbornly believe you’re as good as educated and civilized people – i.e., those Eastern dudes – then you are.  He is the perfect representative of the mind and soul of the Sun Belt. He favors, of course, the two-button suit with maximum shoulder padding and with a Trumanesque squared white handkerchief in the breast pocket, which makes him look, when he’s dressed way up, like a prole setting off for church.  Sometimes, for leisure activities (as he might express it), he affects the cowboy look, which, especially when one is aged, appeals mightily to the Sun Belt seniles.  One hesitates even to speculate about the polyester levels of his outfits.

Indeed, Reagan violates virtually every canon of upper-class or even upper-middle-class presentation.  The dyed hair is, as we’ve seen, an outrage, as is the rouge on the cheeks.  (Will the President soon proceed to eye shadow and liner?)  So is the white broadcloth shirt with its omnipresent hint of collar stays.  (Anxiety about neatness.)  The suite materials are scandalously bucolic middle-class:  Plaid, but never Glen plaid.  The necktie is tied with a full Windsor knot, the favorite of sophisticated high-school boys everywhere.  When after a press conference Dan Rather, not everyone’s idea of Preppy, comes on to “summarize” and try to make sense of the President’s vagaries, his light-blue Oxford-cloth button-down and “regimental” tie make him, by contrast, look upper-middle-class.  The acute student of men’s class signals could virtually infer Reagan’s politics of Midwestern small-town meanness from his getups, just as one might deduce Roosevelt’s politics of aristocratic magnanimity from such classy accessories as his naval cape, pince-nez, and cigarette holder.

Good.  God.  In.  Heaven.

It lends little credibility to the argument that Sarah-Palin-is-no-Ronald-Reagan when the people making this argument are the same kind of people that made the same criticisms of Reagan himself at the very moment that he was restoring the economy and winning the Cold War.  And I would further add that, in hindsight, it becomes pretty clear that one should cast a jaundiced eye on criticisms of your movement’s leaders when they are made my your movement’s sworn political enemies.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Game Tip o’ the Day: Get a Friend to Film You

I have a “smile” that I deploy whenever I pass an attractive female in a hallway and she inadvertently makes eye contact.  I call it “tight and noncommittal”.  The intent of The Smile is say, “No, I’m not interested in hitting on you, so if you say hello I promise I won’t follow you home.”  I’ve used it for years.

As I walked through the weight room on my way to the lockers at the gym last week, I had occasion to use The Smile.  And for whatever reason, I happened to catch myself in the mirror while it was still on my face.

Damn . . . I need a New Smile for these situations!  Because the one I’m using could be charitably described as a grimace.  This may have something to do with the reaction its been getting.

The first eye-opening moment of self-realization that I can recall came in college.  My parents and I were visiting a faculty member at the college I attended.  The faculty member was Asian Indian and had several attractive daughters, the oldest with which I fell into conversation.  Now, recently, Sheila described me (in the nicest way!) as a “Christian Dork”, but in college, a more apt characterization would probably have been “College Republican Dork,” which is an order of magnitude worse.  So, here I was, presented with a chance to talk to a pretty girl, and what did I choose to talk about?

Politics!  And not even international politics either, but petty domestic policy issues with absolutely zero resonance for a young woman who had only been in America for a few years.  Although she listened to me with bemused indulgence, the conversation was wrong on so many levels, all of which add up to not getting a second conversation.

But see, the only reason I know this is that one of the younger daughters caught a bit of this conversation on a camcorder.  This was back in the early eighties when they were still a novelty, and we all gathered around the television to watch ourselves after dinner.  I shook my head in disbelief as I thought, badly played.

I’ve had similar moments when I’ve listened to recordings of my voice.  I, for one, am so unaware of what I sound like while I speak that I don’t even recognize my own voice in recordings.  But once, my answering machine accidently recorded a telephone conversation with a friend, to which I subsequently listened.  And I realized that (1) I talk too fast, (2) I use the word “actually” as an all purpose transition (which is funny because my youngest daughter has now picked up the habit), and (3) I make a “tsk” sound every time I am about to speak.

The point of my relating these experiences is to illustrate that it is very difficult for us to be fully aware of how we present ourselves to other people.  We may think that our speech, carriage and gestures ought to be effective, but until we actually see ourselves from the outside we don’t really know.

I would recommend the following:

  1. 1.  Make a friend.

  2. 2.  Get your friend to film you interacting with third parties, preferably with parties with whom you want your conversation to be “results oriented.”

  3. 3.  Watch the video.  Take note of your body language and vocal intonation.  Solicit feedback from people who’s opinion you respect.  And, if this is your thing, have someone point out to you the other person’s non-verbal signals that you might be missing.

  4. 4. Rinse and repeat.

Smilewise, I'm working on flirty-with-a-hint-of-smirk. I'm not sure it's working out . . . .

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Robert Wright on Tiger Woods

Via Trumwill, an excellent (though uneven) Robert Wright op-ed on Tiger Woods:

Though monogamous marriage may be, on average, the best way to rear children, a lifetime of monogamous fidelity isn’t natural in our species. And extramarital affairs have a way of leading, one way or another, to the dissolution of marriages — not unfailingly, by any means, but with nontrivial frequency. And even when an affair doesn’t end a marriage, it can permanently change the marriage — and child-rearing environment — for the worse.

So we’re stuck with this unfortunate irony: the institution that seems to be, on average, the least bad means of rearing children is an institution that doesn’t naturally sustain itself in the absence of moral sanction — positive sanction for fidelity, negative sanction for infidelity. And negative sanction often involves sounding judgmental — something that, in addition to incurring the wrath of a columnist’s readers, raises genuinely thorny intellectual problems.

These problems are handily summarized via two aphorisms: 1) Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; 2) There but for the grace of God go I.

The first of these is the problem of hypocrisy. Given how many people have either cheated on their spouse or done something comparably serious, how can we dish out moral sanction — blame people for their transgressions — without being a society of hypocrites? (Maybe we can’t; as various people have argued, and as I suggested in an earlier column, maybe hypocrisy is a natural ingredient of an effective moral system.)

The second problem is the problem of moral imagination. If you can imagine yourself in Tiger’s shoes, you can see that he is exposed to a level of temptation most of us will never know. I for one don’t claim that I could withstand it.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quote o’ the Day

Ross Douthat, on Comedy Central’s censoring (again) of South Park’s representation of Muhammad:

This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

Since I have it, here is some banned-on-blogspot bait:


A Perfect Storm of Nasty

Over at HitCoffee, Sheila asked me:

If you were in fact around very religious people in high school and college … then it’s religious women who gave you so much trouble. Perhaps you shouldn’t blame secular society for their shallow traits.

Arguably, I have no basis by which to make a comparison.  I have no experience with the dating world in “secular society” the way she means it.  I only went to bars and clubs in the company of women I took with me, never expecting to meet women there.  The nature of my work is such that it creates a predominately when not exclusively male environment, so there were seldom any women around with whom I might strike up a relationship.  And . . . well, frankly, I don’t really know in what other venues “secular” people meet potential romantic partners.

But that said, I don’t have any experience with rural or small-town Baptist or Fundamentalist churches either, at least not in my twenties.  As I explained to Sheila, most of my church-going experience was in large, urban, mainline denominations who drew their members from middle and upper-middle class, college-educated backgrounds.

Christian young women from such backgrounds share many of the same values as their non-Christian counterparts.  They are busy establishing themselves in interesting careers.  Unless they live in New York or DC, their earnings provide them with economic independence.  They are largely free from any economic, social, or family pressure to get married early, so they think of marriage in, as Megan McArdle put it, “self-actualizing” rather than “prosaic” terms.

However, they are still subject to the Seventh Commandment:  broadly, no sex outside of marriage.  Now, I know for a fact that this rule is not universally followed, not even close.  But I can say with moderate confidence that such fornicating in which Christian women do indulge is not “casual”; rather, it is with men that they think or hope will marry them eventually.  But whatever the flexibility in a Christian woman’s definition of chastity, the effect is the same:  their approach to relations with men are heavily front-loaded with high expectations, expectations that in practice can be quite difficult to meet.

While I am wary of generalizing about secular society, I think it would be safe to say that non-Christian women do not have this problem.  Sheila, for example, has written that she once cast a fairly wide net in her associations with men.  It should come as little surprise that I do not approve of her, um, “relaxed” attitude towards sex:  for example, it carried the potential for heavy downside to herself and significant externality for the rest of us, and I am guessing that her “husband-to-partner” ratio is pretty low.  But I am prepared to admit the possibility that it made her and women like her pretty fun people to be around.

Likewise, I am also prepared to admit the possibility that the mix of “Christian” and “Secular” values that characterized the ethos of the women among whom I sought a mate combined to create a perfect storm of nasty:  careerist women in no hurry to compromise, “settle”, or train on the one hand, and on the other wary of having anything more than a nodding acquaintance with men who didn’t instantly meet their criteria for an ideal husband.

Again, I don’t have the background to assert this hypothesis dogmatically, but I wanted to throw it out for consideration.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Change the Numbers: Green Space

I have to agree with Steve's post on this subject: a would-be environmentalist's attitude towards immigration is a test of his good faith. Anyone who is pro-immigration but pretends to care about the environment is lying. His advocacy of the environment is merely a cover for the growth of government for its own sake.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Phoebe Prince’s “Teachable Moment”, and Ours

[Another angry post.]

Ross Douthat quotes Christopher Caldwell:

Getting rid of the old punitive morality that surrounded sexuality seemed like it would do no one any harm, and relieve a lot of unnecessary anguish and guilt. But young people have not reacted to it as theorized. They will gladly skip the ‘morality’ part. But in a world as socially competitive as that of teen dating, the ‘punitive’ part is simply too useful a tool to do without. So people proclaim themselves free of moral hang-ups, and yet throw around words like ’slut’ and ‘whore’ with an abandon that no previous generation ever did. It is unlikely there was any moral disapproval in the taunts to which [Phoebe] Prince was allegedly exposed. It might have been better if there had been. Moral pretensions might have led her alleged tormenters to look at their own conduct, and reined them in. In place of moralism we have nothing but the will to power and the desire to ostracize – a values system that differs from the old one only in its arbitrariness.

As my regular readers know, among the long-running themes of this blog are the sexual mores that characterize our time, what the changes to these mores mean for the future of our nation and civilization, and – most immediately – how these changes create winners and losers inn our society.

The mainstream media is certainly no stranger to stories of winners and losers; in fact, most of their reporting on just about any issue of public interest comes down to its impact on its preferred victim classes: women, racial minorities, and the right kind of poor people. But when the subject turns to sex, well . . . we have that one article in the Weekly Standard, but otherwise the MSM offers nothing but static. Even the story of George Sodini, once it failed to fit the conventional narratives, quickly disappeared without a trace.

It’s not hard to figure out why this is. The MSM, reflecting the values of the class of people from which its members come, are deeply invested in the narrative sexual liberation: how the 60s generation threw off the tired morality of an earlier era, embraced “free love”, and lived happily ever after. The dark side of this narrative, painfully detailed in blogs that have come to be known as the “Roissysphere”, is a story that they cannot – dare not – fathom.

Now comes the tragic story of Phoebe Prince. As Trumwill, newcomer Dan Bloom, and I discussed at length, the MSM, armed with an adorable of photograph of young Phoebe and the well-merited outrage of her community at the apparent impotence of her school’s officials, have quickly established a narrative by which to tell her story:

School Bullying

I apologize if this sounds snarky. My point is not that bullies don’t exist, nor even that Phoebe wasn’t bullied. My point is that this is a very, very old story. I should know.

The earliest memories of my childhood involve playing in our front yard in the afternoon, and dodging the rocks thrown at me by the school-aged children walking home from the bus stop. “The Big Kids,” my brother and I called them. But being a “Big Kid” myself didn’t improve matters: the site of the torment moved to the bus stop itself, and now there was nowhere to hide.

A move, a new school. We weren’t in suburbia anymore, and now the bullying turned physical. And it wasn’t at the bus stop anymore, it was . . . everywhere. On the bus. During recess. In class. It’s malevolent presence determined my daily routine. I took care to stay as close to the authority figures as I could stand, and otherwise did what I could to stay out of everybody’s way. Sometimes this worked. Sometimes it didn’t.

By late Junior High, things got better. Being known as “the smart kid” helped. I’m not saying I had more than one or two friends – candidly, I hadn’t the skills, and a secular school is a bad place to look for social charity. But eventually, I could get through the day without being picked on, and sometimes I could even get included. I guess my classmates developed other interests, or they realized that girls weren’t impressed. I dunno.

But the thing was, nobody cared. Oh, sure, if a teacher actually caught somebody doing something egregious, she would issue a scold. And my parents would console me and offer useless advice like try to be nice to them, or some such rot. But it was the seventies (mostly), they had their own lives, and they basically couldn’t sustain an interest in this kind of thing. I remember, quite recently, telling them some of these stories from my childhood, and being surprised at their surprise, thinking to myself, where the hell were you?

So while a part of me is righteously livid at what was done to Phoebe – and in fact I, too, am not immune to the effect of that photograph; more on this later – there is another, less charitable, part of me that says: Oh, I see how it works. When it was a skinny, nerdy kid getting bullied for, roughly, his entire sentient life, well that’s all just part of growing up, grow a set, deal with it yourself, nobody can be much bothered. But when it's a beautiful girl with an Irish lilt, whose two months of suffering has become a matter of national urgency, now I'm expected to trust the same teacher and administrators and politicians that didn’t care about bullies up until the day before yesterday to make and enforce with the well-being of skinny nerdy kids at heart?

Gaming out the post-anti-bullying-law scenarios is the subject of an excellent post somewhere. This is not that post.

I missed the story of Phoebe’s suicide back when it happened, and only discovered it from the reports of the coming prosecutions. I remember what I felt, because I feel it still. A crushing sadness. A burning anger. Indeed, all those pathetic beta-boy white-knight let-me-save-you emotions that I have come to despise in myself. So yes, I had an agenda: Make me understand. Give me a reason, ANY reason, to make sense of this story, to put it in a safe place where it can’t cause pain. Who will deliver me from this body of death?*

Armed with my own, admittedly anachronistic, experience, I began to pick at the anomalies: Why would a beautiful Irish girl get treated like this? Not by one person but a dozen? Not in Junior High by twelve-year-olds, but by high school upperclassmen? Not in an afternoon, but over two months?

What I discovered, didn't help. Slowly, in pieces – inferences, really, but still unmistakable – a picture began to emerge. Not the MSM’s picture, to be sure, but their dissembling had its limits. They couldn’t talk about the statutory rape charges without tipping us off that Phoebe had sex with not one, but two high school football players. They couldn’t talk about “slut” and “Irish whore” without admitting that this fact had become generally known at South Hadley High School. They couldn’t talk about “high school relationships” without revealing that these players already had girlfriends. They couldn’t talk about “cliques” without letting on that these girlfriends were, by the standards of their high school caste system, socially connected. And they couldn’t quote a classmate talking about “giving her a try” without revealing that Phoebe was trying, and failing, to establish her own connections.

And then I realized: at the end of the day, this was not a story about bullying. Or rather, it was a story about bullying in the way that urban crime is a story about gun control. Because like guns, the bullying was a method – a despicable one to be sure, a method used by sociopaths and applied completely out of proportion to even the worst of the inferences I know how to draw. But still just a method.

The story here is about the role that sexual liberation plays in the corrupt, decadent, poisonous, destructive of public high school status seeking. It was a story about how sex, like giving crack to a serial killer, like pour LOX on a fire, amped up all the petty jealousies, alliances, who’s-up-who’s-down scheming and strategizing to murderous intensity. And it was a story about how the lying, rat-bastard MSM, riding hell-for-leather to save their oh-so-precious revolution, were trying to cover it up.

“Will to power,” Caldwell writes. Exactly. Nietzsche had it right: take away morality, and the will to power is all that’s left. Add sex without morality, and this is the hell you have created. These are powerful weapons, and dangerous ones. Used properly, and they can fortify a man and a woman to do something profoundly difficult: spend the rest of their lives together nurturing the next generation. Give them to children to play with, and a pretty fifteen-year-old girl who in a different culture could have had a long and happy life, instead lies dead by her own hand.

As I have written before, if you are looking for metaphysical justice, you’re living the wrong life. You might like to think that a chastened establishment would take a long hard look at the moral sewer that is public education, but they won't. Soon, the name of Phoebe Prince will be forgotten, and the same public school system, armed with their brand new “anti-bullying” laws and policies, will be busy using them – and this is no insightful prediction: these kind of policies are always used this way – to harass the same outgroups they do now.

But I will promise this, and you heard it here first: God is watching. And on the Day of Judgment, when South Hadley High School, the MSM, and all their works are cast into the Lake of Fire for an eternity of wailing and gnashing of teeth, I will be there.

Laughing my ass off.

* Yeah, I know, out of context. But it was still the verse I couldn’t get out my mind.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Megan McArdle on Lori Gottlieb

For those of you who missed it, Megan McArdle wrote a lengthy, double-edged review of Lori Gottlieb’s book Marry Him, based on her famous Atlantic article. A sample paragraph:

I too am annoyed by Gottlieb's tendency to make sweeping generalizations about women, and to hold up men as a better example, when really, men just have more time to fix their mistakes. But maybe because I've spent a bit of time thinking about these choices, I see Gottlieb trying to convey, somewhat hamfistedly, not that women are "too picky" in some metaphysical sense, but that for women in their early thirties the clock is ticking in a way that it isn't for men--which means that being picky is risky for them. So when women are tempted to hold out for something better, they should think hard about how likely that really is. [Emphasis added.]

As someone who has written often that women are indeed “too picky”, if not in a metaphysical sense, then in a relative SMV sense, I will have to mull over this proposition. Thoughts?

UPDATE: Be sure to watch Gottlieb's video interview on Megan's article. I think Gottlieb appears exceptionally attractive and personable for a woman her age; it seems that she shouldn't have any difficulty finding a middle-aged man to marry her if that was what she wanted. Is mine just a minority opinion?

“I love you, too!”

I caught an episode of the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory the other night.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s the charming but improbable story of a hot girl (Kelly Cuoco) sharing living arrangements with four nerdy guys.  This was only the second episode I had seen, so if you do watch the show, feel free to point out any nuances I’m not aware of.

This particular episode started with hot girl in bed with nerd guy #1.  (Like I said:  highly improbable.)  After briefing talking about how great the sex was, NG1 blurts out, “I love you!”, to which HG responds . . . with a pause, and then a mumbled, “That’s nice.”

The thing is, this oddly parallels the development of my own relationship with Mrs. Φ.  While she initiated our physical relationship (by asking me to kiss her), she didn’t say ILY until about a week after I said it.


  • Is this asymmetry typical?  Is it only typical for us nerds?

  • Has it always been thus?  Perhaps it is a more recent development?

  • Is the use of this asymmetry in entertainment plot lines, when the audience is expected to feel sympathy for the characters, driven precisely by its confounding of expectations?  Does this constitute a double standard?  Consider the movie (500) Days of Summer.  The writers of the movie appear noncommittal on whether or not the Summer character is a stone-hearted bitch, but imagine if it were a man who had coldly dumped a woman in like manner.  Would their (and our) attitude been as benevolent?  Likewise, when the story is of a man reticent about declaring his love for the woman he is sleeping with, isn’t this a cue to the audience that we should lose all sympathy for him?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

100+ Comments!!!

I’m happy to announce that, as of this writing, Φ’s angry, dashed-off post on Phoebe Prince has taken the lead in Delenda’s Great Comment Sweepstakes!

With the help of Trumwill, Sheila, and newcomer Dan (who, I will admit, isn’t a real person but a Lockheed experimental AI program gone horribly, horribly wrong), “Metaphysical Cynicism” has by Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. EDT, accumulated 98 comments, surpassing in under six days even the 93 comments that previous record holder, “Town and Country Foods”, took almost three years to achieve.

And when you add the thread from “Nice Girls, Mean Girls,” which got hijacked five comments in for further Phoebe Prince discussion, the total comes to 107 comments on this subject.

Kudos all around.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You Belong with . . . Who Again?

Taylor Swift: the gift that keeps on giving.

Consider, for a moment, a clarinet player in the high school band.

Our clarinetist isn't much interested in football. He would like to play the clarinet in an orchestra, where people could come to listen to him play the clarinet. But alas, the school is only interested in having a band insofar as it provides background noise during football games. So his talent is subordinated to someone else's stardom.

Our clarinetist isn't happy about this, but he's reasonably phlegmatic: after all, the school has to sort people by status somehow. Yeah, it sucks being a musician at a football school, but on the other hand, it's not like music has some inherently superior claim to admiration over athleticism. That's just the luck of the draw. So when he sees the gridiron hero in the company of the captain of the cheerleader squad, he says to himself, well, that kinda figures.

But when he then turns to his fellow clarinetist, a skinny girl with dorky glasses and a slight overbite, he discovers that not only is she also pining after the football player, but she is literally rolling her eyes at the indignity of having to sit next to him in the bleachers. It doesn't matter that he's "in a relationship" (or the high school facsimile thereof); she plots and schemes and waits her turn, meanwhile ignoring (when not actively hating on) the clarinetist playing in the same band that she is.

Ironically, the football player himself could be as pure as the driven snow. He might even double as the FCA chapter president. It is rather the black little hearts of women that cause him to emotionally monopolize goodness-knows-what percentage of his school's females.

This is what we mean when we talk about modern polygamy.

[This post was inspired by the conversation here.]

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nice Girls, Mean Girls

Warning:  the following is a generalization.  I am aware that there are exceptions.  The usual rule applies:  if it doesn’t describe you, then I’m not talking about you.

It is a commonplace that unattractive girls have the best personalities.  It has even become a backhanded way of saying a girl is unattractive to call her “the girl with the great personality”.  The explanation is usually some variant of the fact that unattractive girls must develop their personality in a pleasing way to socially survive.  I agree with this:  some of my closest female friends have been unattractive girls.

And yet, when I think about it, I can’t really complain about super-attractive, out-of-my-league girls either.  While I would stop short of calling them “friends”, I can’t recall many instances of gratuitous cruelty, either.  This may be a pretty low bar, but I’ll take kindness anywhere I can get it, and the fact is that I’ve always been treated better by really beautiful women than they could have gotten away with.

Most of the complaints I make about women are leveled at “average girls”, girls of moderate attractiveness that, physically speaking, I would put roughly within my own percentile.  It is from these that I have suffered the worst behavior.

A few possibilities:

  • I am mistaken in my generalization.  It may be my perceptions are colored by higher expectations.  (I can’t think of any other cognitive biases that may apply, however.)
  • A charmed life begets a charming personality.  Truly beautiful women, who Never Have Any Problems, view the world and its inhabitants as full of sweetness and light, and this is reflected in how they treat others.
  • Social power begets social confidence.  Spungen once put forward this hypothesis:  women firmly in position at the top of the hierarchy, and secure in the knowledge that they can rely on others to deter and punish any betas that get uppity, can afford more social condescension.
  • The middle is the most ambitious.  Women of average attractiveness have sufficient social access to know where the top is and believe themselves capable of reaching it if they can only improve their peer group.  Their social climbing inevitably involves snubbing anybody below their desired set.
  • The “bad behaviors” are actually “shit tests”.  Average women put me in their “potential” category and screen me for alpha qualities.  I misread this behavior and otherwise fail.  (I would be most surprised if this one is true.)
  • I induce the behavior.  Only around average women do I behave in a way that is, or is perceived to be, “showing interest”; thus, it is only here that I am the recipient of rejection behavior.  (I would here protest that my generalization still applies even though I have been married for over 12 years.  You can make of this what you will.)

These possibilities are not mutually exclusive.  Thoughts?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dumbest Smart Thing I’ve Read in a While

Robin quotes Matt Yglesias:

In the spectrum debate, a commons is considered a “left-wing” position, while property rights are considered “right-wing.” In contrast, in the carbon debate you find right-wingers advocating a “carbon commons” while left-wingers advocate a property-like regime called cap and trade.

… To borrow an idea from Robin Hanson, I think it’s useful to think about political conflict in terms of valorized figures. On the right, you see a lot of valorization of businessmen. On the left, you see a lot of valorization of pushy activists who want to do something businessmen don’t like. Formally, the right is committed to ideas about free markets and the left is committed to ideas about economic equality. But in practice, political conflict much more commonly breaks down around “some stuff some businessmen want to do” vs “some stuff businessmen hate” rather than anything about markets or property rights per se.

Where to begin?

First, while I can’t speak for them, I’m pretty sure that the Left identifies with specific activists, not activists in general. Just ask them for their opinion of the NRA or the Tea Party.

Second, Yglesias is being disingenuous when he suggests the Right tries to valorize businessmen. The elite economic Right along the National Review – Megan McArdle axis is much more interested in maximizing both freedom and utility than they are in privileging one class of people over another.

It may be true that the popular Right sometimes sound as if they “valorize” businessmen, but even here the exceptions quickly accumulate.  There is outrage aplenty among the Tea Party activists over tricksy banksters carting off the national wealth, for instance.   In any case, while their economic anecdotes may echo the frustration of many businessmen, the focus is on jobs destroyed and/or not created in response to the government, oh, say, capping carbon emissions.

Turning to Yglesias’ charge that the Right behaves inconsistently in opposing cap-and-trade, I am willing to concede him half a point: his example illustrates that property rights don’t always have the power to resolve conflict that the Right often claims on their behalf.  But this limitations specifically occurs when there is a dispute as to the extent of one person’s property interest in another’s activity.

At one extreme is the property owner who decides to construct an oil derrick on his front lawn in a residential neighborhood.  Does his activity materially impact his neighbors’ quality of life?  I am reasonably certain that anybody who thinks the neighbors don’t have a property interest in their neighborhood’s quality of life is not a resident of that neighborhood.

At the other extreme would be a cap-and-trade scheme on the world’s stock of, say, iPods: no new iPods can be manufactured except to replace an existing iPod, and the current holders of iPods are given an “iLicense” that can be freely traded.  Would such a scheme be “free market”?  Again, I am reasonably certain that any actual “free marketer” would say that the “commons” has nothing to do with it:  the world’s iPod carrying capacity is essentially unlimited.

The fundamental issue separating the Left and Right on the subject of carbon emissions is whether they are more like the first case or more like the second.  Is there a limit to the ability of the earth’s organic life to convert CO2 into O2?  The Right may be right or wrong about this, but this is the issue, not a sudden preference for commons over property.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Metaphysical Cynicism

I do NOT trust the media coverage of the Phoebe Prince case.

I do NOT believe the public reaction to be grounded in anything more than a cute picture and an obviously airbrushed narrative.

I do NOT trust the judicial system with the impartial administration of the law.

I do NOT trust policymakers to take any meaningful steps to prevent bullying in public schools.

I do NOT trust the public school teachers who allowed this to happen to enforce anti-bullying policies against actual bullies.

I do NOT believe anything that anybody says or does will make any difference.

But I DO like my solution.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It’s Not a MAD World Anymore.

Regarding the administration’s announcement that it forswears the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation for non-nuclear WMD attacks:

Other than to serve as yet another example of Obama’s moral preening, I’m not sure what this policy is supposed to accomplish.  It is one thing to tell another nuclear power, in the interests of stability, “No matter what happens, we don’t want you to be afraid that the U.S. will launch a preemptive first strike that destroys your retaliatory capability.  We will therefore renounce the use of nuclear weapons under circumstance X.”

But Obama is telling non-nuclear states (in compliance with the NPT, yada yada) that the U. S. won’t use nuclear weapons against them no matter what they do.

How is this supposed to encourage good behavior?  How does it make America safer?

UPDATE: Ace argues this doesn't make any difference because after 9/11 nobody took our deterrent threat seriously anyway.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beware Shapeshifters

Hot New Relationship Book Warns Women: 'Wake Up! He's A Shapeshifter'

I started dating a guy I met in a bar, and he turned out to be just as shallow as the last guy I dated that I met at that bar. What am I doing wrong?

Accountability. It's a wonderful thing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Quick Examples of How Politics Hurt Art

Don't get me wrong: there is nothing inherently wrong with political propaganda, as long as its authors are up front about what they are doing. For instance, everybody knew that the movie Rendition was a piece of leftist agitprop, and its box office reflected the market for said agitprop. Which is fine, since the movie never pretended to be anything else.

What is a shame, though, is when otherwise good art is marred by propaganda. I offer two examples. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

  • The movie Moon was reasonably good considering its budget, but at the film’s epilogue, an audio mash of news clips informs us that the protagonist, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) has been successful in drawing public attention to how his erstwhile employer, Lunar Industries, is choosing to man its helium-3 extraction facility on the moon.  The closing clip is of what is obviously a Rush Limbaugh sound-alike complaining that Sam is an “illegal immigrant.”

    What’s irritating about this is not only that nothing in the film’s narrative concerns immigration.  The film’s narrative does support a pretty obvious conservative* talking point:  the immorality of human cloning.  This point is so obvious, in fact, that nobody with even a liberal’s understanding of conservative knee-jerk reactions could fail to anticipate it.  Unfortunately for the writers, most of the film’s audience would agree with this reaction, and since the writers goal was to make conservatives look foolish, they are forced to make up a reaction that is wildly implausible.

  • The movie The Time Traveler's Wife was an excellent film with a plot twist so cliched that I was embarrassed for the filmmakers. After establishing that Henry DeTamble's father-in-law Craig is (1) a pompous plutocrat of a type that was already worn out when John Houseman was doing it in Silver Spoons, (2) a Republican, and (3) a hunter, the movie has Henry getting shot by Craig in a hunting accident that didn't even nod towards plausibility. While it is true that hunting accidents do happen, they almost invariably happen when either the target or the victim is in motion relative to the other. (See, e.g., "Dick Cheney".) In this case, both Henry and the target are standing still when Craig shoots him with a scoped rifle without realizing it even after the fact. No half-way experienced hunter would make that kind of mistake, but the filmmakers decided to take a shot at wealthy Republican gun owners anyway.

* Conservative in general.  I have no idea whether or not Rush Limbaugh has a position on human cloning.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Baader Meinhof Complex

I watched the movie the Baader-Meinhof Complex, about the German left-wing terrorist organization the Red Army Faction, on Netflix Instant Play.

It's a good movie. Of particular interest to readers of this blog will be the portrayal of the sexual dynamics of the terrorist cells, which follow a familiar pattern. We see how terrorist psychology in general will favor the most violent and antisocial of a group rising to leadership, and how the presence of females among them hastens this process.

My question is: how does Western society produce people like these? The movie plays up an opinion poll taken in which one quarter of German 20-somethings (I think) voiced their support of the RAF. That's a lot. How can the young people of a country become so indoctrinated with a nihlistic ideology without the cooperation of the state itself?

Especially well done was the character of Horst Herold, the head of the counterterrorism task force chasing the group. Sadly, there is no Wikipedia page in English describing this guy's real life, but actor Bruno Ganz plays him as a La Carre'-esque figure who understands the key to counterterrorism is good intelligence gathering and sythesis.

I also liked the portrayal of the RAF members' stint in what I took to be a PLO training camp in Jordan. As I understand it, the Fatah organization was never especially religious, but neither were they particularly irreligious. The, um, "liberated" practices of the RAF, and their pampered lives in general, annoyed their Palestinian hosts, who . . . well, actually, the PLO were terrorist scumbags too, but they saw themselves as real soldiers preparing for a real war against a real nation-state, and their training program reflected that.

The terrorists' sense of entitlement was amazing. After murdering dozens of people, they cried and protested at their own arrest, like it was somehow cruel and unfair that the government should prevent them from continuing their life of crime.

One has to admire the steely resolve of the German government, and the German people, for not putting an expeditious end to these murdering thugs, but there is really no way for them to win from the terrorists' point of view. If the government reacts with restraint, then it is weak, proving the terrorists' point. If the government does not react with restraint, it is brutal and fascist, proving the terrorists' point. The ideology is hermetic and un-falsifiable.

The film demonstrates the importance of well designed security procedures, and how far we've come in the last 40 years. These procedures were sadly lacking in the late sixties and seventies, and the RAF found it easy to invade buildings and plant bombs back then. When you think about it, it should give you some perspective on the complaints civil libertarians make, even when the complaints are in good faith. Sure, I don't like the constant surveillance, the omnipresent law enforcement, or the overhead either, but this is what can happen when we don't have these things.

German trials are utter circuses. I noticed this in the film The Reader. Defendants that can marshall supporters are evidently free to turn the proceedings into opportunities for grandstanding.

The movie has a hero: Stevan Aust, a left-wing journalist who accompanies the RAF to Jordan, eventually rescued Meinhof's daughters from Sicily before they could be indoctrinated in Communist ideology, and returned them to their father, Klaus Rainer Röhl, who had outgrown his wife's leftism and eventually become a conservative mainstream liberal (or a German version thereof). [Thanks to Frank for the correction.]

Thursday, April 08, 2010

“Civil Liberties”: The Last Refuge of the Hypocrite

To the last few of you for whom further discussion of ObamaCare doesn’t upset your stomach (via Robin):

In July 2007, AcademyHealth, a professional association of health services and health policy researchers, published results of a study of sponsor restrictions on the publication of research results. Surprisingly, the results revealed that more than three times as many researchers had experienced problems with government funders related to prior review, editing, approval, and dissemination of research results.  In addition, a higher percentage of respondents had turned down government sponsorship opportunities due to restrictions than had done the same with industrial funding. Much of the problem was linked to an “increasing government custom and culture of controlling the flow of even non-classified information.”

Of particular concern is a provision of the Senate-passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, [regarding] the … new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct comparative-effectiveness research.  The bill allows the withholding of funding to any institution where a researcher publishes findings not “within the bounds of and entirely consistent with the evidence,” a vague authorization that creates a tremendous tool that can be used to ensure self-censorship and conformity with bureaucratic preferences. This appears to be an effort in part to bypass the court order in Stanford v. Sullivan, a case involving federal contractual requirements that would have banned researchers from any discussion of their work without pre-approval by the Department of Health and Human Services. The order held that such blanket bans are “overly broad” and constitute “illegal prior restraint” on speech.  The language in the Senate bill attempts to overcome this hurdle by eliminating prior restraint, but using the threat of post hoc punishment as an incentive for self-censorship.

Raise your hand, those of you who remember any of the usual people who fret about free speech for a living making an issue of this during the debate.


Me neither.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Especially you, Jenny Beckman.



(500) Days of Summer is an outstanding movie.  In fact, it is probably the best romance movie I can recall having seen.*   Novaseeker wrote a solid review a while ago, but even he didn’t capture the utterly transcendent level of psychic pain the movie communicates.  As the narrator explains over the opening credits,

There were two things that Summer liked about herself.  The first was her long, brown hair.

The second was how she could cut it off.

And feel nothing.

. . . . .

This is the story of Boy Meets Girl.  But you should know up front that it is NOT a love story.

The movie keeps a light-hearted tone, but its non-linear storytelling means that it never lets you forget the heartbreak that Tom Hansen, the protagonist, is in for.  The buildup of his and Summer’s relationship is therefore all the more poignant, because we even here have the suffering before us.

The movie features an excellent soundtrack. Also noteworthy is the set design: the story is set in the present day, but with a combination of lighting, decor, and costume the viewer is somehow transported to an earlier, undefined era;  it could be the twenties, it could be the seventies, but it doesn’t feel like 2009. The acting is solid throughout, especially from Zooey Deschanel’s Summer, in whose deep blue eyes we can see the empty void where a soul should be.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Parenthood Update

A few weeks ago, I issued a strong two-thumbs-up to the new NBC drama Parenthood.  With the sixth episode airing tonight, I want to offer an updated assessment.

First, I’m enjoying the show immensely.  It is strong and well-crafted.  But it is not entirely free of weaknesses:

  • Many of the scenes are overdone.  The writers are unwilling to let the cast members communicate meaning with a single word, glance, or gesture when a dozen of these things can be squeezed in.  This tendency especially aggravates Mrs. Φ (who has consented to watch a few episodes with me) to the point of exasperation; we both want to scream at the T.V., we get it already!  Which is so regrettable because it is so unnecessary. The actors are all experienced and in top form.  They shouldn’t have to beat everything to death.

  • Thematically, the show succumbs to the usual clichés where children are Founts Of Wisdom bringing enlightenment to their parents, instead of being little savages needing a good thrashing.  This is particularly annoying coming from the teenaged daughters, both of whom are, in fact, guilty of significant breaches of the law and good family order.

  • Several aspects of the plot point involving ne’er-do-well brother Crosby’s illegitimate son could have been made stronger.  Big sister Julia, an attorney, counsels him to ask the mom, who had kept the son’s existence a secret for five years, for a paternity test, talking vaguely about the “legal repercussions.”  Now, this may, in fact, be a good idea, but it would depend on the specifics of California law, and isn’t obvious considering that the mom hasn’t asked Crosby for anything other than to be involved in his son’s life.  (I suspect that, by such involvement, Crosby is “holding himself forth” as the child’s father in a way that makes the paternity test legally moot should it ever come to a child support award – for which the California DSS can sue even without Mom’s involvement.  If this understanding is correct, the show should have the guts to state clearly what "family law" really is.)

  • The advice Crosby should have gotten was to tell his current girlfriend Katie, who inexplicably wants Crosby to father her own child, about the new development as soon as possible.  Yet this occurred to nobody until the fifth episode, and Crosby delays informing her well past the point where it starts to look furtive and dishonest.

  • While I’m at it, the show’s single greatest implausibility is Crosby’s relationship with Katie.  Katie is evidently a successful professional of some sort, while Crosby is . . . well, he’s got a job working at a recording studio, but he doesn't apppear especially successful.  Nor is he especially stable, or virtuous, or handsome, or charming, or dominant, “bad-boy”, “alpha”, sociopathic, or anything else that a woman like Katie might find attractive.  Dax Sheppard plays him only marginally less cretinous than he played “Frito” in Idiocracy.

  • While I’m at it, another implausibility is that Adam and Kristina’s young son Max’s Asperger’s Syndrome would have gone undiagnosed in public school as long as it supposedly did.   Max is well played by Max Burkholder, who turns 13 in November; I don’t recall how old his character is, but I’m guessing no younger than eight.  In reality, teachers would have flagged his behavior patterns within the first few months of first grade.

But frankly, these are so far mere quibbles next to what I like about the series:  strong acting, compelling themes, and poignant situations.

One of the things that regularly occurs to me as I watch this television show is:  I’m really glad I’m a Christian.  It’s too bad the show, like virtually all television shows except The Simpsons, can’t give any major characters a mainstream religious affiliation.  But since it doesn’t, its characters are left to go through life making up their rules as they go along, and this turns out pretty obviously to make their lives a lot harder than they would otherwise be.  I appreciate that few people can tolerate theological overhead to which they do not subscribe, but most of the time, the Christian life is vastly superior to its alternatives.

Monday, April 05, 2010

What if everything you know is wrong?

Via OneSTDV, a cell phone video of a black female student at the University of Wisconsin disrupting a class and being dragged away in handcuffs.

Let’s take a break from our chortling at yet further confirmation of HBD and reflect on how tragic this truly is.

Blacks didn’t always behave this way (or at least, they didn’t behave this way around around white people). This behavior is a relatively recent phenomenon, too recent to be a product of genetic evolution. It is a conditioned response, a product of the culture in which so many blacks are socialized.

Somewhere along the line, this young woman’s defiance was rewarded. It was either encouraged directly, or insufficiently restrained. Somewhere along the line, it worked for her, was allowed to work for her, in the sense of getting her what she wanted, whether it was “her way”, or just respect and status.

This video shows her learning the hard way that the behavior is counter-productive. It no longer works, and in fact carries potentially serious consequences.

This will be a painful lesson. One does not easily recondition oneself away from a lifetime of behavior patterns.

We should know. Think for a moment (you to whom this applies) how, after a childhood and adolescence being told that you should be “nice” to girls, unutterably painful it was to apply even the first principle of Game (by whatever definition). Think of how difficult it was to do this even with an IQ of 130+. Now imagine trying to do it with an IQ of (by my estimate) 90.

So yes, I have some empathy for this girl. I’m not arguing that she should be allowed to go about her anti-social way on the UW campus. I’m not disputing the lessons OneSTDV draws from this at all. But I am saying that though I was never hauled away in handcuffs, I know just a little bit what it is like to be her.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Sex Ratios and College

Roissy, with his usual brio, makes an interesting point:

A sex ratio favoring women might have very different effects in Afghanistan than in the US. In cultures where women have little incentive to slut it up, delay marriage, or pop out bastard spawn confident that the government will act as uber beta provider, they may well become more chaste, and pickier about choosing reliable Dad types. But in cultures of free-wheeling sexuality, easy availability of contraceptives and abortion, female economic empowerment, anti-male divorce laws, and disappearance of anti-slut social shaming mechanisms, women may very well respond to a favorable sex ratio by opening their legs for every alpha male to shower five minutes of attention on them, preferring to share the choicest cock with other women rather than monopolizing the ground beef cock of the squabbling male masses.

As I have blogged before, my daughter's ambition is to attend a service academy, wherein the sex ratios run around 3-4 men for every woman. My chauvinism about women in the military notwithstanding, I have encouraged this ambition for the obvious reasons: fully funded education, potential full funding (with salary) for medical school, and a guaranteed job on graduation. But it also seems like an outstanding way of avoiding the girls-gone-wild atmosphere of civilian colleges where women outnumber men.

But is this expectation realistic? I had thought that by their relative scarcity, the female cadets could hold the male cadets to high standards of courtship behavior. As Roissy points out, however, this depends on female morality, itself a function of a lot of structural factors that are not what they once were.

I'm aware of the academies' episodic scandals, but I had previously chalked these up to higher levels of scrutiny, given the political sensitivities surrounding female soldiers, and the fact that the highly structured life at the academies makes all misbehavior a bad bet for the cadets. But let me ask my readers: does anyone know whether these scandals are, in fact, representative? What is the academies' moral environment for a young woman?

I see three possibilities:

  • The high behavioral expectations of the female cadets create a superior moral enviornment compared to the civilian schools where women are more numerous;

  • The low behavioral expectations of the female cadets create a fetid swamp; or

  • Each individual woman uses her high marginal SMV and her own values to create her own personally-designed dating environment.

Thoughts? Evidence, or at least anecdotes, are preferred to more theory.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Kramer vs. Kramer

On the recommendation of a Spearhead post, I watched Kramer vs. Kramer on Netflix Instant Play.

Random Thoughts:

  • Hoffman was 42 years old in 1979. Streep was 30. I wonder how many first marriages really involve 12 year age differences, but let's do the math: At the time of the trial, Kramer says he's been in advertising "since college, maybe ten or 15 years". Let's say 15. That puts his movie age at around 37. He'd been married for eight years at the time of the divorce, plus 18 months since, so let's say 9 years, which makes him 28 at the time of his marriage, at which point, Mrs. Kramer would have been . . . 16? But, of course, in the movie she was closer 24. Hollywood sucks at arithmetic.

  • Either Dustin Hoffman overacts through the first 20 minutes of the film, or I am really, really glad my father was never a New York Jew.

  • Kramer invites an attractive divorced woman, who lives in the same New York apartment building, upstairs for a heart-to-heart talk the night his wife leaves him. They continue a platonic relationship throughout the movie. Really? What kind of 42 year old married man has these kinds of female friends? I don't. I'm friends, if you can call it that, with the wives of my male friends, but of these, I can think of only one that I might have this kind of conversation with, and then only if it started incidentally.

  • Speaking of New York apartments: Kramer, an advertising executive, lives in an itty-bitty, kinda dingy two-bedroom apartment, and eats Salisbury steak for dinner. This is probably realistic, but why does Hollywood blanch at that level of realism today? Compare it to the spacious accommodations that the Friends characters somehow afforded on waitressing salaries.

  • Nude scene. You know, I've been meaning to remark for a while now that, frankly, mainstream Hollywood had no idea how to competently execute a nude scene before the mid eighties. Consider, for instance, the movie Body Heat (1981). As I understand cinematic history, Kathleen Turner, for better or worse, blazed the trail as a mainstream American actress doing full-frontal. (Caligula, by contrast, employed exclusively Italian actresses for this purpose.) But even though Turner was an attractive woman at 27, that scene would never survive the cutting room by the standards of today. Likewise here, Jo Beth Williams (I think) was also looked very pretty with her clothes on in 1979, but her (brief) nude scene conjures nothing but embarrassment for her; she would never be cast that way today.

    Are the standards of beauty higher for actresses now than they were? Does Hollywood put a higher premium on a woman's body than her face? Have filmmakers become more skilled at displaying a nude woman in a flattering light? The only thing obvious I can point to is: tan lines. Jo Beth Williams had some pretty obvious tan lines that are distracting an unattractive (and, while I'm at it, fairly implausible on a Manhattan career woman in the middle of winter). You never see those on actresses nowadays, fortunately.

  • Kramer's son greets Daddy's naked sleepover with nonchalance. Wouldn't a little boy be intimidated by a strange naked woman? I'm pretty sure that by age six, I was embarrassed to catch sight of my mother's nakedness.

  • Interesting the difficulty that a divorced man has: most of the women Kramer knows are other career women whos maternal instincts are firmly suppressed. Where would he get the opportunity to meet Mom-type women if he doesn't go to church?

  • What a shame that Kramer's big self-revelation was that the divorce was his fault.

  • Kramer's son falls and gets stitches. I had stitches in my head as a kid. It was earlier than '79, but the doctor had a special board to strap me still while he worked. It prevented the thrashing around we see in this movie.

  • The platonic divorcee says of her ex-husband, "If he really loved me, he wouldn't have let me divorce him." But what choice did she give him?

  • Kramer is fired for taking too much time off from work. He performs his steely-eyed negotiations for his next job pretty well, but without explaining to them the stakes (he can't arrive in divorce court without a job), I can't see how his prospective employers wouldn't perceive his ultimatum as desperate. It would be wildly unlikely that they would hire him.

  • Kramer shows his son his new office. My Dad had a downtown office with a view like that. I didn't have the sense to be impressed with it at the time. It wasn't in New York though.

  • The uplifting music when Billy finally sees his mom was a bit jarring; did they forget who the protagonist is? Realistically, though, I'm pretty sure that one of the consequences of divorce is that the children tend to glorify the non-custodial parent.

  • The custody battle will cost Kramer $15,000, six months worth of his gross salary. Do divorce cases really go to the Supreme Court of NY?

  • Maybe Streep's psychobabbly narcissistic testimony had more resonance with audiences in '79.

  • I was surprised -- to the point of thinking it implausible -- at the extend of the grilling to which Mrs. Kramer is subjected.

  • Hoffman sounds like Woody Allen during his testimony.

  • It's really touching -- and naive -- the way the platonic divorcee pleads with Mrs. Kramer that, really, Kramer is a good father. She obviously doesn't understand the psychology of what's going on.

  • So, Mrs. Kramer actually granted her husband legal custody in the divorce decree, then shows up 18 months later, and not only wins custody but also gets child support even though she now makes more money than he does? That's the family court we all know and love!