I CAN’T HEAR YOU

Somebody note the date:  I agree almost completely with The Atlantic magazine, at least as far as this article is concerned (thankee, Insty), and I urge you to read it all, if you have the time:

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet.  Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service.  Right now, high-end surfaces connote luxury, such as the slate and wood of restaurants including The Osprey in Brooklyn or Atomix in Manhattan.
This trend is not limited to New York.  According to Architectural Digest, mid-century modern and minimalism are both here to stay.  That means sparse, modern decor;  high, exposed ceilings; and almost no soft goods, such as curtains, upholstery, or carpets.  These [minimalist] design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears.  No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.

Now add over-loud “background” music to the clamor as well as noisy patronss (Americans are a loud-spoken bunch at the best of times), and it’s enough to make me order soup just so I can drink it through a straw while holding my hands over my ears.

I’ve bitched about this trend in the past, but mostly to complain about the music selection (tinny pop pablum or bass-heavy rap/R&B).  But last week I had breakfast with Doc Russia in some new (and overpriced) breakfast place, and in a room which contained maybe six paying customers (out of over fifty seats), the noise was so bad (hard surfaces plus loud music) that I longed for my shooting lids.

Come to think of it, I think I’ll start carrying my ear protection with me when I go out from now on, and put them on if the place is too noisy.  My lids are noise-sensitive (with the little volume adjustment thingies on the side) so they are perfectly adequate for conversation.  I will, however, shout loudly at the waiter when ordering my food;  what the fuck, the restaurant clearly doesn’t mind excessive noise, right?

I’m sounding a little flippant about this, but I’m not joking at all.  As it is, my tinnitus makes hearing occasionally difficult, but impossibly-so in a loud environment.

Don’t get me started on “mid-century modern and minimalism; sparse, modern decor; high, exposed ceilings; stainless-steel tabletops, slate-tile floors, and exposed ductwork; and sparse and sleek [decor], with hardwood floors and colorful Danish chairs with tapered legs seated beside long, light-colored wood tables”.  A less inviting scenario for a meal I can’t even begin to imagine.  And please:  don’t give me that crap about how hard surfaces are easier to clean and to keep clean:  that’s putting the needs of the business ahead of those of its customers, which mistake should cause the business to fail quickly — but sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case here, I suspect because we’ve just become accustomed to the clamor.

The article has it right:

The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible.  Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable.  That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there.  But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to [engender]:  a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.

Considering that I go out to eat with friends or family where the primary motivation is social — conversation and companionship — and the food (no matter how fine) a distant second, it should come as no surprise that over time, I have become less and less likely to eat out.

In fact, strike the above thought about taking hearing protection when going out.  In future, I’ll walk into the restaurant and if the clamor is overpowering, I’ll just tell the restaurateur:   “Sorry, but your place is too noisy.  I’m going somewhere quieter.”  And please note that I’m not talking about a restaurant full of people having a good time:  that’s a different situation altogether.  But if the place is noisy because everyone has to scream to make themselves heard over the cacophonous ambiance, then it’s elsewhere I’ll be going.

If enough people follow my example, then maybe — just maybe — we can reverse this bullshit trend whereby function doesn’t just follow form;  it throws it to the floor and suffocates it, noisily.

And by the way:  fuck “mid-century” and “minimalism”.

In Other News, Dogs Chase Cats

I’ve never been involved in the movie business at all, so I’m not really qualified to comment on this story (not that this has ever stopped me before):

Alexa Chung has revealed how she was once ordered to strip by a movie producer while being auditioned for a role. In a worrying #MeToo moment, the model was told to remove her clothes so that the exec could see what she looked like naked.
Addressing the Oxford Union, Alexa said: ‘He told me to strip because he needed to see what I looked like naked for a scene that required it.’

Okay, let’s all accept the fact that the whole casting thing could just turn into an opportunity for men to catch a free look at naked women.  (In other news, Gen. Custer seems to be having some difficulties with the Sioux.)  And yeah yeah, that’s just awful and terrible etc. etc.

I have some parallel thoughts, however:  if you are auditioning for a part where you’re going to be filmed in the nude, don’t be shocked when you’re asked to show what you look like naked.  If you’re Julia Roberts, for example, you can turn down such demands because you’re going to get a body double anyway — they’re casting the face, not your ironing-board body.  But if you’re a nobody, you can’t really turn it down because appearing or performing in the nude is one of the reasons you’re being cast at all and if we’re going to be blunt about it, if you have some blemish (e.g. saggy boobs or a large birthmark), the producer is not going to hire a body double for a nobody.  

The other thought is that the director has to be sure that when he films a scene — any scene, let alone a nude one — he has to be sure that viewers concentrate on what he’s trying to show, not on the fact that Second Actress From The Left has one breast considerably larger than the other.

So while I can sympathize with this Alexa Chung (whoever she is) because of the voyeur thing, I can also see things from the other side of the desk, so to speak.  I should also point out that this woman is an ex-model, and didn’t seem to have too many qualms about being naked anyway:

And here’s another thought:  a producer asking to see what you look like on the nude is not a Harvey Weinstein/#MeToo moment;  a producer wanting you to fuck him to get the part, is.

We can also talk about why nude modelling or nude scenes in movies are necessary at all, but that’s a topic for another post.

Rationing

Seeing as the Socialists now control the U.S. House, I suppose we’re going to start hearing the drumbeat of support for and attempts to revive the failed ObamaCare medical insurance system, as well as support for a “single-payer” healthcare system (where the “single payer” means the government, i.e. not a single payer at all, but all taxpayers — yet another way Socialists employ a euphemism to conceal the truth).

Of course, this will all be cloaked under the banner of “fairness”, i.e. free healthcare for all people being a “fair” principle (and yes, I know it isn’t free at all;  see above), all while touting the excellence of, for example, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

So while kicking said supporters in the teeth (always a Good Thing when dealing with socialists anyway), you may want to ask them how “fair” it is when medical services are so scarce that a service, treatment or drug is allocated to the afflicted by means of a postcode lottery — this being excellent example of the principle:

Tens of thousands of people with diabetes are being denied NHS access to a life-changing device which could spell an end to painful finger pricks.
A postcode lottery in provision means many people with type 1 diabetes are missing out on the benefits of the FreeStyle Libre gadget, which measures blood sugar levels with the simple swipe of a smartphone.
The device – famously used by Theresa May – has been available for GPs to prescribe for last year.
But an investigation by the British Medical Journal revealed a quarter of clinical commissioning groups in England are refusing to fund prescriptions for their residents.
This leaves people to either pay the £96 a month to receive it privately or miss out on the system.

I guess that technically this is fair, in that everyone has the same chance of winning a lottery… but I still want to kick random Socialists in the teeth anyway.

End Of An Era

As I might be unable to vote next Tuesday, I went and did the early-voting thing yesterday, punching the “straight Republican” ticket as usual.  (Not much of a wait, for a change:  only about a hundred people in line ahead of me.)

This time, however, I missed voting for our longtime Republican paisan Sam Johnson, who will be retiring (at age 86, the oldest Republican) at the end of the year.

I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Sam (as we called him):  a Vietnam POW vet, an endless opponent of not only the IRS but of the entire federal tax system (“Abolish the I.R.S.!” was once a feature of his website), a champion of veterans’ affairs (duh) and in short, a tireless hardline conservative who even in suburban TX District 3, usually squeaked by with about 65% of the vote, cycle after cycle.

So when people talk about “public service” (not meaning it as a derogatory term), this is what it’s all about.  And it’s congressmen like Sam Johnson who make a mockery of term limits initiatives — if his health had been good enough to stay in office (it isn’t), I would have continued to vote for him for the next twenty years.  In my entire life, he is the only politician to whose campaign I ever donated money.

Go with God, Mr. Sam, and thank you — thank you — for all your service as a patriot and conservative American.

And a note to Van Taylor (whom I’ve met before and voted for as well), Sam’s likely replacement in the House:  before voting on any piece of legislation, ask yourself “What Would Sam Do?” and vote accordingly.  You will not be disappointed, and most of all, you will continue to get my vote.  Now get in there, and kick Democrat ass.  Just like Sam Johnson did.

Damn it:  I have tears in my eyes.

Imagine Being Patient #4,154,560

The next time some dreamy pinko starts whining about how wonderful Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is, feel free to show him or her this article (when you are done kicking their ass, of course):

The NHS waiting list in England is the longest it has been in 11 years, official figures have revealed today.
A staggering 4,154,559 people – around six per cent of the entire UK population – were waiting to start hospital treatment at the end of August.  This number is the highest it has been since August 2007, and more than 3,000 people have been waiting more than a year for routine treatment.
A&E [ER] departments are also getting busier and cancer treatment waiting times have been missed for the 32nd month in a row, NHS data showed.  Experts today warned ‘alarm bells’ are ringing and the health service is heading straight for another winter crisis as it buckles under ‘relentless pressure’.  An ageing population and shortages of doctors and nurses have been blamed for increasing strain on the NHS and it taking longer to treat patients.

But hey… as long as it’s free, right?

And speaking of free, of course it turns out that “free” also means “rationing” (emphasis mine):

Shortages of Fluad, a new super-vaccine offering better protection for over-65s, means pensioners across the country are being turned away by GPs.  Deliveries of the vaccine to surgeries and pharmacies are being staggered due to supply problems and 40 per cent of the 7.8 million doses will not be available until next month.
The Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended Fluad last December, but it took NHS England until February 5 to tell GPs and pharmacies they needed to buy it.  Clinics that failed to order by the April 12 deadline have had no stock delivered, forcing them to beg for supplies from others.

So if you’re (say) 63 years old, British and catch a potentially-deadly strain of flu, that’s just too bad.  Life’s lottery — or, to be more precise, the NHS lottery — just gave it to you between the cheeks.

Wear boots when kicking.

 

Now Multiply That By A Million

I saw this little story via Insty, and it made me not just sad, but furious.  Read it first.

They didn’t lose a fortune, because they never had the opportunity to earn one. Nothing happened. There they sit. And there they’ll stay.

And that’s where the writer is wrong.  You see, economists and accountants have a terms for this phenomenon, and it’s called “opportunity cost” — in other words, the financial cost of a lost opportunity.  Because when people open up their own business and it’s even moderately successful, they have to hire other people to work for them.  Those workers in turn become successful, and pay taxes, and perhaps use the learning to open their own businesses.

The aggregate opportunity cost of this ripple effect, just for this little case study, is potentially millions of dollars.  The Toni & Guy chain of hair salons started in precisely this fashion with a single outlet in the 1960s, as did the JiffyLube chain, back in 1979 — and I chose these two businesses deliberately, because those are the two types of business that the above story deals with.  Who’s to say that Kaitlyn and her husband wouldn’t have had a success story similar to Tony&Guy and JiffyLube?  But we’ll never know, will we, because the heavy hand of government regulation reached into their lives and killed their adventure before it could get started.

So when Donald Trump’s first action as POTUS was to decree that all government departments had to delete multiple regulations for every new one they wanted to promulgate, it was to free people to get going with their businesses and dreams.

Lest we forget, the fucking Democrats are the party of massive regulation and government intrusiveness — and remember that if you’re toying with a “protest” vote against Trump (or a quixotic vote for a third-party no-hoper) in the mid-term elections later this year.  (If you’re a lifetime Democrat voter and want socialism, then you’re at the wrong website and, if I may say, in the wrong country.)

It’s all very well for the economy to grow when manufacturing opens new plants and what have you (which is what Trump has also been making happen) — but that growth is finite.  Individuals starting their own businesses and becoming successful isn’t finite:  that is where America is at its strongest, and that is what will create true economic success for the whole country.  And Donald Trump understands this, and because of it he deserves our unflagging support, if for no other reason.