You aren’t helping anyone, Pete Wentz.

I’m not the biggest fan of Fall Out Boy, I haven’t been able to get excited about their album releases since From Under the Cork Tree was on the horizon.

Mindlessly browsing News.com.au – to get my fill of tabloid journalism – I found this little puff piece on their new album, Save Rock and Roll. Yes it is an insanely inappropriate title for a pop band, but Pete Wentz, the band’s lyricist, justifies it as “tongue in cheek”, and “[a] kind of a joke, but if it means something to you, then it’s not really that much of a joke”. It seems that his sentences are as rambling as his lyrics.

I don’t think I have a real problem with the title: one of the best ways to sell shit is to call it something it isn’t. Obviously Fall Out Boy are quite the marketers.

As with previous albums, the band has worked with other musicans on some of the tracks. The credits include: Elton John, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Courteney Love.

Huge fan of Elton, don’t know what a ‘2 Chainz’ is or when it is / isn’t appropriate to use a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’, and I could give two shits if Sean is big or small.

I think I like Courtney Love – she did marry the greatest human being ever known – but Fall Out Boy’s apparent reason for her inclusion is a bit of a worry.

Wentz reasons that “it’s important for girls to understand that they don’t need to just be coat hangers for boys, it’s not all about being groupies…so we thought it would be important to have an iconic female voice on the album, and Courtney screams rock ‘n’ roll”.

I really didn’t know what to think when I read this sentence. Let me break down what Mr Wentz farted out in that heinous quote:

– Courtney Love should be a role model for young women,
– Courtney Love is an iconic voice of rock ‘n’ roll and
– Fall Out Boy makes rock ‘n’ roll (I know I might be challenged on this, but I dare you to find an F.O.B song that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of pop / bubblegum punk).

Those last two points are really easy shots: Courtney Love, although a gifted musician on her own terms, is only iconic in the sense that she is associated with Kurt Cobain; Fall Out Boy’s rock ‘n’ roll credentials are immediately and obviously laughable.

The first point is a bit of a worry.

I don’t have a problem with Pete Wentz selling his album with a stamp of feminism, I know how profitable and easy it is to hijack movements, I just wish he didn’t use Courtney to do it.

Sure, she has made some notably feminist(ish) songs – Doll Parts, Garbadge Man, off the top of my head – and her subversively gnarly portrayal of female roles is a kick in the teeth to the patriarchy.

Should she really have to be a role model? She has done some right heinous things. If you didn’t click that link because you are a) lazy and / or b) an arsehole, then let me give you some highlights. Courtney Love:

– Used smack while pregnant,
– assulted Madonna (not saying it’s a bad thing, I just think it’s cool),
– OD’d in front of her child,
– was beaten in the media by Robert Pattinson.

None of these things are especially bad and I don’t blame her because I know that Robert Pattinson is a mental giant, children need to be introduced to chemicals / reality as early as possible and Madonna deserves nothing but the worst treatment.

But why, Mr. fkn Wentz, do you feel the need to put her forward as a role model? Is Mr. Chainz a role model? What about Larger-than-average Sean?

While his justification of her inclusion with feminism is a great marketing technique, I really feel it makes it obvious how women can be independent, strong and challenging, as long as they do so with the permission of a man; Wentz’s sentence, in having to justify the inclusion of the female but not male(s) musicians on the album, speaks volumes about how women’s place in society needs to be constantly justified. He could have simply said he was happy to have such a well known, talented musician on board – like he did with Multiple Chainz and Biggy Seans.

Yes I am using a quote from a well trained interviewee who knows how to sell his mouth wash. But his arseholery is a great example of a misogynistic music industry where women are either included and objectified, or included but must be justified.

Why you shouldn’t file your tax every year & anal retentive political activism.

Every year our government – current, past and I’m sure future – goes further in to debt by spending on infrastructure, healthcare, education and many other annoying things like defense and the Abc.

That’s fine, in fact it’s how government and the modern world works; governments go in to debt to provide for their population by printing money and selling bonds. I don’t want to spend this post explaining fiat currency and the problems of the world economy in depth – not only in the interests of word economy and the fact that I probably don’t understand either with sufficient prowess to do so – but I will give a brief outline of government spending and debt.

When a government does not have enough cash to pay for the support of its population, it has to sell government bonds. A government bond is a long term security, paying a fixed rate, that is bought by investors. Governments have to convince investors that their bonds are worth a certain value and that they will be able to pay the fixed rate promised by the bond. But governments can’t always pay their bills and they go in to debt.

This mechanism is rationalized by reasoning that government spending, as allowed by borrowing, will increase the ability to generate funds and thus the ability to pay future bills.

Every year we’re expected to pay tax, that is the amount of money government decides we owe as determined by the amount we earn during the year.

Because we directly benefit from our government’s borrowing from unscrupulous investors, it makes sense that we should pay a portion of our private earnings as a contribution to the future ability of government to pay its bills. However, I find it absurd that we’re asked to pay every year when our government frequently skips on its own bills.

So, in the interests of acting in line with the dominant economic policy I refuse to file my tax in any year where the government delivers a deficit budget. This means that I am liable for various penalties. Bastards.

Here I am withholding funds to gain a sense of control over the government even though, given the penalties, I do so at my own detriment. Freud might call this anal retentiveness, I might call this anal retentive political activism.

My little go-and-fuck-yourself to the government is a great way to save money while protesting the absurdity of the world economy, but the problem with my protest – and any form of anal retentive political activism – is that it demands action through a lack of action on its own behalf; from inaction it is unreasonable to expect a result.

I am aware that my protest is passive and ineffective; rather than being a sound political action it is a circle jerk of nonsense and an excuse to skimp on taxes.

I don’t pretend to be the first anal retentive revolutionary. Here are some other forms of anal retentive political activism:

The Occupy Movement
– Protests by ‘occupying’: I don’t know that occupying is really an action. I mean, does carpet take action by occupying a room?
– Completely ineffective: what did Occupy Federation Square do but piss off a few horses?
– Acts in its own detriment: the lack of message and direction on behalf of the movement only cemented it as left wing quackery.

The Australian Greens
– Has seats in the senate, but little real power: in a sense they occupy the senate. The Greens are the carpet of Australian politics.
– Completely ineffective: the environment is fucked, even though Bob Brown has already ascended to heaven.
– Act in their own detriment: let Peter Garret join Labor.

Ghandi
– Is dead: is unable to take any form of political action as he is too busy occupying the ground.
– Completely ineffective: last time I checked, India was still part of the Commonwealth.
– Acted in his own detriment: the reason it took so long for anyone to take him seriously was his refusal to wear clothes fit for a human being.

The men’s rights movement & Hanlon’s chainsaw.

I identify as a feminist. I believe that society has unfair expectations of what constitutes femininity and as a result females encounter a much crueller world than males. I believe that these expectations are insidious and blatantly evident in a variety of different ways at every level of society. Of course males experience amazingly difficult and horrific treatment as well, but there are behaviours and conditions that are specifically inflicted on women, and so it is rational that there is a movement called feminism; one that actively promotes the interests of women and battles against these inequalities.

I also enjoying being the ‘anti’ guy, the devil’s advocate, so my first reaction to feminism really should be:

“Yeah sure women encounter problems, but the world is facing much larger problems like war, famine, environmental destruction, Melbourne’s public transport system. So why should there be a movement to actively promote one gender above the other when both are suffering to some degree? Surely such a movement is prejudice”.

(NOTE: In the case of Melbourne’s public transport system, the degree of suffering has become unbearable and will soon explode in a fit of revolutionary rage)

But I don’t think that’s good enough; if we as a species are to function with any degree of efficiency, equality of genders is essential. So a movement like feminism does make sense, as does one like the men’s rights movement.

For those unaware, the men’s rights movement is essentially – without splitting hairs and using too much foreshadowing – the male equivalent of feminism; it seeks to promote the interests of men and battle against the inequities unique to the male experience. They do exist, although I believe they are nowhere near as destructive and subversive as the experience of women.

And here is the problem: men are capable of inflicting much more damage on women than women can on men. This is true in physical abuse and workplace and political inequalities. In the case of physical abuse the proof is in men’s generally dominant physical prowess; in the case of workplace and political inequalities the proof is in men’s ability – being the historically dominant gender – to exclude women. This is why I’m a feminist and not an MRA(men’s rights activist).

There are reactionary voices on both sides of the debate with feminists frequently accusing MRAs of misogyny and MRAs accusing feminists of misandry.

In any movement there will be radicals and there are sides of the feminism that I find incredibly irrational and prejudice. But I find the more radical side of the men’s rights movement to be all the more disturbing in its assertions.

I can dismiss most radical MRAs’ accusations of misandry with a favourite principal called Hanlon’s razor which states: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. I apply this to such accusations by reasoning that the majority of men have no idea of the experience of women and don’t appreciate the difference in inequalities that exist.

When MRAs make statements like “forcible rape dropped to near extinction” and “the focus on women in most everything else in modern culture[has grown]”, I get uncomfortable.

The idea that rape rates are dropping is dangerous; it breeds a complacency in the issue that can only lead to an increase.

More disturbingly, the resentment that women’s issues are at the forefront of public discussion exposes a childish and reactionary desire to silence feminism.

Unlike the radical feminists’ cries of misogyny, I don’t think Hanlon’s razor suitably describes this phenomenon. It’s much more satisfying to call it Hanlon’s chainsaw because it perpetuates the inequalities inflicted on and experienced by women by actively dismissing them and even denying they exist.

Horoscopes & racism.

It would be banal to spend the next few paragraphs debunking the validity of something as ridiculous as the idea that the position of the stars at the time of birth has any effect on a person’s personality, but to preempt any idiot who attempts to disagree, I’m going to do just that. After I’ve bored anyone with a rational bone in their body, I will explain how a belief in horoscopes – and astrology in general – is tantamount to racism.

A horoscope is a prediction of one’s personality traits, potential relationships and future life path, among other things, as determined by the ‘zodiac’ assigned to the day one is born.

The system of zodiacs – virgo, leo, cherrios etc. – was first described, in detail, by Ptolemy in the 2nd-century AD in his work Tetrabiblos, which is considered to be essential reading for any peddler of horoscopes as it outlines the basis of the zodiac and asserts it’s validity in detail.

I’m not going to list each tenant of the zodiac as detailed in Tetrabiblos, but I would like to note the fact that it was written in 2nd-century AD.

So, in 2nd-century AD Ptolemy stared up at the stars and decided that their position at the time of birth must have an effect on individuals – at the time, that was just good science. It was ancient Rome and people were infamously stupid.

The real problem arises when we leap forward to modern times to discover that the position of the stars in our sky changes over a few thousand years; idiots who call them selves leo might actually be taurus due to the shift in the positions of the stars.

We can see that horoscopes are based on an entirely arbitrary and now entirely invalid set of rules.

The world ‘rules’ is interesting here, let me elaborate: according to the ‘rules’ of the zodiac, if you are a leo you are allowed to be passionate, but you cant be creative because that isn’t an attribute of your zodiac sign.

According to the rules of Nazism, Jews were not allowed to be generous.

According to the rules of the Nation of Islam, white people aren’t allowed to be trust worthy.

According to the rules of the Australian Protectionist Party, immigrants can’t contribute.

So when someone says to me, “Oh! You’re a virgo, you must be so tidy!”, they aren’t allowing to me be untidy. If a potential partner tells me we aren’t compatible because our zodiacs conflict, they aren’t allowing me to show my personality through action and deed; they assume that, because I’m a ‘virgo’, my personality traits are in conflict with theirs’.

Instead of stereotyping me by the color of my skin or place of birth, I’m stereotyped by the date of my birth.

I have focused here on what natal astrology, but astrology and the entire system of divination and assumption by the stars and other irrelevant values – palm reading, augury  tea leaves etc etc. – is stereotyping and although it is mostly harmless, it is a belief that is as equally as off putting as racism.

int(r)o.

Welcome to This Rationale, or if the URL was slightly more available, My Rationale.

I intend on using this blog to vent my anger and frustration at many useless facets of our society and culture while debunking idiotic beliefs and opinions, all the time forcing my centre-right, rationalist values down your throat.

Enjoy.