Belmont Club

The Hippie Uniform

Through the modern miracle of the Internet it is now possible to buy hippie uniforms from China wholesale at “high quality and low prices”.  The phrase “hippie uniform” may sound like a contradiction in terms, but as the Washington Post’s article on mathematician Jonathan Touboul explains, it’s entirely natural. Most hippies are doomed to don — and to change — uniforms.

Touboul concluded that is because “hipsters” define nonconformity in terms of the ‘perceived mainstream’ and because of delays in rebellion toward it, they entered into oscillating states which effectively doomed them to uniforms.

The mathematician who proved why hipsters all look alike. What brain neurons tell us about the ‘hipster effect’ when all contrarians end up looking the same. …

His key insight is that people (and neurons) do not instantly perceive what is mainstream. There’s a delay. And in situations where the delay is large enough, the contrarians can inadvertently synchronize with each other.

The key parameters are perception and delay. It is the date you recognize something as square and the period thereafter when you decide to be ‘hip’. “What Touboul noticed is that if you increase the delay factor past a certain point, something amazing happens. Out of what appears to be random noise, a pattern emerges. All of the hipsters start to synchronize, and they start to oscillate in unison.”

Andrew Klavan noticed the same thing by observing the ratings of Lena Dunham’s show. It’s obviously a bomb, but the hipsters have declared it a hit. Why? Because they’re wearing a mental hippie uniform, and they have to stay in sync.  The Dunham show may be a stinkeroo, but that’s not the point. The real object is to know when to realize it’s from hunger. To recognize it too early carries just as much of a penalty as recognizing it too late.

The recent season finale of Dunham’s HBO show Girls garnered under 700,000 viewers which, by television standards, is essentially none. And yet if you read articles about her, you’ll find the show repeatedly described as a hit. Why do people describe it as a hit? Because even though it’s not watched by a lot of people, it’s watched by the right people. Who are the right people? The people who describe the show as a hit. There’s a reason this is called the Echo Chamber.

The continuing saga of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber illustrates the timing effect. Recall that the MIT economist recently caused a scandal by telling the public that the Obama administration lied about Obamacare. Now nobody is accusing Gruber of lying. On the contrary Gruber’s offense lies in the perception that he is telling the truth  about the administration lying.  The truth’s got nothing to do with it, the problem is the sync.

Gruber is out of sync and that’s the trouble. Once he was “smart” — which is why Nancy Pelosi, who knew Gruber before she didn’t — quoted his work copiously. Now David Axelrod called Gruber “stupid” on Twitter.

David Axelrod @davidaxelrod · 7h 7 hours ago
As one who worked hard to make ACA and its benefits clear, let me say: if you looked up “stupid” in dictionary, you’d find Gruber’s picture.

But how could Gruber be stupid? As others Tweeted in reply, Gruber wasn’t stupid when Axelrod’s bosses hired him.

Auburnfan2155 ‏@Auburnfan2155 7h7 hours ago
@davidaxelrod Why did you hire him then?

Kevin Eder ‏@keder 7h7 hours ago
[email protected] I guess that says a lot about the administration that paid him $400,000, doesn’t it?

Jusleanica ‏@jusleanica 7h7 hours ago
@davidaxelrod paying 400k for being stupid?

Gruber only became stupid recently. “At a news conference on Sunday in Brisbane, Australia, Obama was asked by Fox News correspondent Ed Henry whether he misled the American public about aspects of the Affordable Care Act in order to get it passed.” Obama claimed Gruber “was never on our staff”.

“No. I did not,” Obama responded, adding, “The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run.”

Gruber might have been hired once, which is probably why he was paid $5.9 million by different government agencies to advise them on health care.  But that was then, this is now. What Gruber is really guilty of is being out of uniform.  In the Obama hipster world there’s a Uniform of the Day, just like there’s a War of the Week (War on Women, War on Families, etc) something like an intellectual Blue Plate Special. The thing about being hip is that is has nothing to do with real rebellion.  It has everything to do with conformity.

Still less does it have anything to do with the truth.  We can’t handle the truth.

Recently the Atlantic published pictures of what you can really afford to eat if you’re a diet. The true portrayal of 200 calories in actual food portions makes depressing reading.  A tiny wedge of pie.  Part of a donut. Half an avocado.  A fragment of a muffin. Mini-eggs.  Or 3 pounds of lettuce.  Do you really want to feel full on 200 calories? Eat three pounds of lettuce. What? Well, like I said, we can’t handle the truth.

Being a real nonconformist requires accepting inconvenient pain. It is not the same as wearing a hippie uniform, as Touboul showed.  The truth will make you free, but not before it makes you hungry and miserable.  We can go out and get a box of donuts, but we should know what it will do to our weight.  We can believe that Obama never heard of Gruber, but we should know what the truth value of that assertion is. Of the two, I say, get the donuts.


Note: Juliette Akinyi Ochieng, who some may know as Baldilocks, is in a cash crunch. Those of you who are her fans may wish to drop by her site and help her out.

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