Death of Retail

I’ve read a lot of articles (Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Atlantic, etc) about the death of retail and the growth of Amazon. It’s largely true and I think it has accelerated as smartphones help dumb people buy stuff online. I went to a local mall and it was a sad experience. It was all empty, like devoid of people and of storefronts. I went around noon but a lot of the stores were still closed and many were empty. I think the death of retail may have accelerated in the past four years of so as Amazon has crushed everyone else. I welcome the prospect that Amazon might kill retail pharmacy by having good end-user software on top of their legendary customer service / quality control.

You see stuff about Sears / Kmart and JC Penny dying, and IMO it’s time for them to go. It’s just like how Blockbuster had to die.

Thoughts on Engagement Rings

Is it just me or is it really embarrassing when an poor girl shows you a sad little engagement ring with a barely perceptible diamond? A fat poor lady showed me one and I just felt bad for her. Because then it’s like, you chose a husband who doesn’t actually love you. And he’s poor. Why do you have to show me a ring if you know it came off the children’s menu? If my dick is only 2 inches I don’t go around whipping it out to strangers.”

Sincerity

I’ve been thinking about postmodernism versus New Sincerity and I haven’t reached any conclusions. This has been on my mind a while since reading DFW’s essay collections (heartily recommended to all). Nothing that I could say hasn’t already been said better, more thoughtfully, and with near-malapropos thesaurus usage by DFW himself so I’ll just quote him for a bit.

“What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human […] is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.” -DFW, Infinite Jest

Are we really in a phase the internet has so consumed pop culture that irony is just how we communicate?

Brief thoughts on Facebook friendship

I recently went through my friends list and culled my friends from 315 to about 200. The key to a good Facebook cull is to do it when you’re angry. I remember when I first did it in undergrad, I was angry about something (I don’t remember what) and Charles was like, “Maybe you shouldn’t do this when you’re in a bad way.” But if you wanna get rid of the dead weight, you should do it exactly when you’re angry because then you’re more likely to act on your emotions.

Germanic tribes during the age of Rome would make important decisions twice, first when sober and then when drunk. If the decisions matched up, they would act on them. In vino veritas. You need a concordance of the rational and emotional.

Some people don’t have good presence, like their content is garbage or they don’t post anything at all and they’ve never interacted with you. So they are unnecessary. It doesn’t even have to be interactive, just an occasional “like” will do. Imagine Chris Rock’s voice going “can a nigga get a like? shieeeeeeit”. Others you were never actually friends with, like you met them once at a party and that was it. I have the problem that all these people from pharmacy school are on my page – they’re classmates but not ones whom I respect. And the two years since graduation is enough to shake out who you’re actually interested in talking to.

A final note is that the internet behavior that most offends me is when someone doesn’t respond. Like if you say hi or say something to them, they just ignore you even though they’ve obviously seen it. I don’t even expect prompt responses, people are busy with all sorts of stuff. But if you can’t take literally two seconds to respond with “hey how are you?” then the message that sends to me is “you’re not worth the two seconds it would take to talk to you”. That pisses me off because I always make time for other people when they message me, even if I can’t respond right away.

Facebook’s version of “friend” really demeans the concept of friendship.

On an unrelated note I’ve deactivated Facebook and I’ll be off it for a while. I might write about why later but ultimately it boils down to I’m actually just barely holding it all together.

Confessions from a (Reformed) Turboslut

The following commentary describes one of my technicians. She’s fun to work with and we have a some stuff in common, internet memes and we’re kinda jokey dorks. She’s quite pretty but on occasion she’ll say something that will be a complete red flag about her past. She’s also really depressed and comes from a broken family. She made a bunch of really bad life choices, and then eventually recovered enough in life and now’s she’s a burned out pharmacy technician. We’re the same age but our life experiences are so different that she provides really interesting perspective on how a rational person might make really bad decisions.

Her parents were divorced really early and her father is not a nice man (described as sociopathic and lost custody). She was raised by just her mom so she’s the poster child of Daddy Issues. She was religious, but not the self-realized kind, but the kind where you’re raised that way but you’re able to rub two neurons together and then realize that there’s obviously no god. She smoked pot and drank in high school and didn’t show any interest in academics. All the same, she went through the motions of being a normal student and her mild intelligence carried her to a second-tier state school.

Her stint at university was utterly catastrophic. She selected a Spanish major even though she’s a pasty white girl without any background or interest in Spanish. She proceeded attend parties constantly and to fuck such a large number of men with such frequency that she was kicked out of the dorms for her lifestyle. She dropped out after one semester but was stuck with a bill which she just finished paying off this year. The bill wasn’t a large amount of money by student loan standards, but she proved to be destitute on an ongoing basis.

After she left college she adopted a party lifestyle because it was the one thing she really knew how to do. She worked all sorts of odd jobs, and frequently didn’t work at all because she was homeless for a spell and lived in her car. This is a phase of life heavily associated with part-time community college and heavy drug use. This middle period is kind of a blur, but basically she just went to parties every night. Not like classy parties, like going to dive bars and getting trashed. She did the thing where they put chocolate syrup in an inflatable pool and she wrestled with her friend in it. And she went around to burlesque night at a shitty gay bar nearby. She also recounted eating food at Arby’s and going across the street to the plasma donation center. The synergy is that you get money to buy alcohol and you have less blood volume so you get trashed really easy. She worked for a party planning group and she would go to parties a lot that way. She also spent time in the drunk tank for public intoxication.

Through this time, she had a string of short and medium-term relationships which all ended catastrophically. She took a restraining order on an ex-boyfriend who may or may not be a stalker. Another ex developed schizophrenia and I don’t remember what happened as a result. I’ve asked her two pointed questions about her relationship history: (a) why she goes out with complete losers and (b) the only commonality in these catastrophic relationships is her presence, so is she doing something fundamentally wrong? I’ve learned that she has very little self-esteem so she’s willing to go out with losers. I dunno about what happens in her relationship though, but it’s an active area of discussion with her therapist.

The pendulum really swung back the other way starting a couple years ago. Being just a party girl I guess isn’t a winning long term strategy. So she doesn’t drink at all anymore, she does some nerd stuff like D&D. She mostly just mopes around I think because she’s really depressed. I fill her antidepressants.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

Title after the DFW essay of the same name, of his experiences on a cruise ship.

After several hours of tense negotiations / yelling with my parents, I agreed to attend a cruise with them. This was a mistake because the only topic of conversation when I’m with my parents is my personal failures and shortcomings as a person. Necessity therefore dictates they are on a strict know-nothing policy about my personal life so I constantly lie to them, even about the smallest things. Like what I had for dinner, when I worked that day, telling small lies is practicing for telling the big lie.

Cruise ships are alright and fulfill a desire for a mass-market experience that is both cheap and efficient. It’s a triumph of capitalism manifested in $300 million ships used solely for the purposes of recreation. Cruises are extremely cheap. They’re like $100 a night and act as hotel, food, transportation, and entertainment all in one. The food is decent.

Problems. You’re on a boat so you’re always swaying a little bit – made worse when the boat maneuvers out of harbor. You’re invariably surrounded by other people. The internet is horrendously expensive, so you just sit around reading books. Old people who look unpleasant are all around. People go as couples or families, so me sitting alone for most of the time was a really alienating experience. Being miserable while surrounded by happy people just makes it worse.

My parents enjoyed it immensely because they are cheap and lazy, and they got to continuously engage in their favorite pastime of denigrating me to my face. We had three loud public arguments. My parents are so deluded that they think I enjoyed the cruise, even though I repeatedly tell them I did not. They have this ongoing bizarre narrative in their minds that they weren’t bad parents and have engaged in lengthy revisionism of my upbringing. It won’t work because I have a long memory.

We went to Santa Catalina and Ensenada, Mexico. Santa Catalina is a shitty little tourist trap with nothing on it but a theater and some bars. You can see LA on the horizon. Ensenada is a medium-sized town. The few blocks immediately adjoining the harbor look like anywhere in the US because of all the tourist money. Farther out, it’s a third world country like the rest of Mexico, and even farther out it’s sad little shantytowns and poor infrastructure. Like some places don’t have running water or electricity. Everyone had smartphones though. The more middle class Mexicans seemed to speak English at a reasonable level, the poor short ones didn’t speak English at all. Everyone I saw was just around to make a quick buck from all the tourists.

Also on the boat none of the workers are Americans and the boat isn’t registered in the US, and mostly doesn’t operate in the US, so they don’t have to pay minimum wage. They have a lot of different kinds of people working on the boat – the officers seemed to be Greek by the Captain’s accent, but you’d notice a racial hierarchy. The servers in the restaurant were Eastern European, the cooks were Southeast Asian, the cleaners were Pilipino. Apparently they work really hard all the time and make shit money. Barring the officers, the crew have their own little crew deck below the water level (no windows / loud engines) and their own dining room where they get drunk. Nobody working on the cruise ship seemed happy except the Cruise Director who attempted to generate hype like a morning zoo radio host.

The only good part of the cruise is that it’s efficient relative to money and time spent per “experience”. Like, they have cruises where you visit a bunch of different Mediterranean or Caribbean or Nordic countries. And at the harbor they’ll have a microcosm of their little region ready for tourists to take pictures. So even if your visit is just transient you still get to post photos of your vacation and technically you’re “well-travelled” having been to so many different places. And they had all the alcohol you could drink for $60, which is very cheap compared to a bar where you could spend that in one night on moderately fancy drinks. Another triumph of capitalism.

Future Imperfect

I haven’t posted in a while because my life is a humdrum one where nothing happens unless mediated by ownership of goods (On Fragrance) or thoughts on conspicuous leisure (On Travel). But now I have a day off so I’ll discuss my future plans.

My passport expires in December 2017, so I sent for it to be renewed a week ago (2 month process) so that later this year when my loans are paid off I can apply for MSF – Doctors Without Borders. I read that it’s very competitive, like with a 10% acceptance rate for physicians. But their website says they have a current need for pharmacists, so I might as well roll the dice on that one. It all depends on where I’m sent. I would much rather go to the Levant than to somewhere endemically poor like Africa. Speaking of poverty, they pay very little, like maybe $30k.

Someday I’m going to have to defend to others what I did with my youth, and the answer isn’t going to be that I moved to a flyover state and took tablets out of one bottle and put them into a different bottle. This was never going to be a permanent thing, but the money is really good. I met Charles recently and he also gave up a cushy job for personal freedom.

I have not told my parents, but they are another sore point. I suppose I have to write about my experiences on the cruise I underwent with them. I shall make a note here to do that later, and about how they are attempting / failing to set me up with fobby Chinese girls.