Fashion, nonsense, groceries, facts and science, and skills

Week 24, 2020


A few days ago we watched one of the last episodes of Gilmore Girls. The mother and daughter are at an old friend’s wedding. The dresses they wear are in totally different styles, but I conclude that both dresses were in fashion at the time the episode showed (2007), seeing that these types of TV series make use of the services of highly-paid fashion consultants.

I couldn’t help thinking once again how arbitrary fashion is.

Now, I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada, where the devil explains to the innocent dummy how complicated fashion actually is.

What I don’t understand is why both of those dresses – different styles as they are – can be in fashion at the same time. Who decides on this? Where’s the line? I have seen how one after the other woman’s fashion choices are complimented, and then another woman appears on the scene, who in my opinion is following the exact same fashion, but she is completely eviscerated, like a wounded antelope being ripped apart by a group of hyenas.

Why are polka dot dresses in fashion one year, and a year or two later not a single woman would want to be buried in one? Why is soft pastel a joke one year, and the next year every young lady who regards herself as “with the times” wants to be seen in one?

The answer, of course, is that authority figures in the fashion world, the Devils in their Prada, decide what is fashion. It’s as if they have roulette-type wheels in their offices in New York, or Paris, or Milan. Instead of numbers, there are styles in each pocket on the edge of the wheel: “Colourful blocks”, “Soft pastel”, “Orange”, “Military style”, “Transient”, “Angler”, “Black and white”, “Purple with yellow explosions”. A few months before the start of each “season”, the designers then spin their wheels, noting where the ball falls. Then they design. And all the models wear “Angler”, or “Transient”, or “Soft Pastel”. And millions of women and men think it’s absolute genius, and wonderful, and can’t wait to get to a store to spend their hard-earned money on clothing they will deny they ever wore in five years’ time.

“Didn’t I see you in ‘Angler’ a few years ago?” someone will ask at a party. “Never!” the woman would scream before running into the bathroom in her colourful “Military Style” dress.

Same with the latest fad of men wearing expensive leather shoes without socks. How did this happen? One designer forgot to wash his socks one day, and then he didn’t have any clean pairs to put on for a meeting the next morning. “I know!” he cried out. “I’m going to wear my expensive Italian shoes with expensive trousers, without socks! And because it is me doing it, everyone is going to think it’s the new fashion!” And the moment the news broke, young men – and older men who consider themselves to have a sense of fashion – thought it was the best discovery in years. “Of course!” they blurted out. “We see it now! Hard leather shoes against your skin! Our eyes are finally open!”


A friendly notice to friends, family, and general consumers of this content: I will henceforth no longer take you seriously if you use any of the words or phrases in the following list in casual conversation. I will indeed regard you as an intellectually shallow babbler, or even as a sucker for a fundamentalist religious movement – that is, unless you are prepared to defend these loaded phrases with logic and proper historical references, and without resorting to even more obscure in-group jargon.

The list:

• Fascist
• Anti-fascist
• White supremacist
• White privilege
• White fragility
• Patriarchy
• “Sex is a spectrum”
• Transphobia
• Islamophobia
• “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”
• Non-binary
• Cultural appropriation
• Intersectional
• Systemic racism
• Cisgender
• Heteronormativity
• Fat shaming
• Toxic masculinity
• White tears

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying you may not use these words or phrases in conversation with me. Why would I? I believe in free speech! You can say whatever the heck you want! What I am saying is that I will regard you in an unflattering way if you do use these terms.

If, however, you say, “Well, fuck you. I’ll defend my use of these terms. You’d better go get yourself a sandwich and a cup of coffee because we’re going to be a while,” I would go get that coffee and sandwich and prepare myself for what could possibly be an interesting debate. That is to say if you don’t disappoint me with even more jargon, and no logic or historical reference.


Your roommate says he’s going to the store and should he buy you anything.

You say, “Yes, thank you. Buy me some apples and bananas, and a bottle of mineral water. Here’s some money.”

An hour later he returns and hands you a pack of salt and vinegar crisps, a bag of oranges and a bottle of sunflower oil.

You shake your head incredulously and ask what’s going on.

He says, well, is that not what you asked him to buy.

Or he says, well, that’s his interpretation of what you wanted, and he’s going to be terribly upset if you claim his interpretation is wrong.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with discussing values and ideology these days. Words and phrases such as “racism” and “fascism” and “white supremacy” nowadays have completely different meanings than what you’ve always thought. Nowadays, a Jewish person whose grandmother died in a German concentration camp could be called a Nazi – or even more absurd, an Actual Nazi, which may mean he was actually there, on the parade ground in Nuremberg when Hitler made a speech about the Jewish Question. A black intellectual who employs logic and historical data in arguing that people should take responsibility for their own lives, and create their own future and not be defined by the past, is called an “Uncle Tom”, or – as one could expect in these absurd times – a White Supremacist.

And don’t dare call yourself a non-racist. Don’t even think of saying anything about having taken to heart what Martin Luther King said in 1963, that people should be treated according to the content of their character and not the colour of their skin. You will be accused of being an even bigger racist than George Wallace – the Alabama governor of the 1960s, and possibly even more dangerous.

No, best to do your own shopping these days.


Facts. A thing that can either be conclusively proven or refuted by repeated, unbiased testing.

“Unbiased?” you may ask.

An unbiased person is someone who does not care whether pure water boils at 74.5 degrees Celsius or at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level. They simply boil the water and record the temperature at which the water reaches boiling point. They might boil water a hundred or a thousand times to confirm the result. At the end of this series of tests, it is possible to state as a fact that pure water boils at X degrees Celsius at sea level.

“What,” someone in these interesting times might ask, “if a Trans Person of Colour confirms what had already been established in previous experiments, namely that pure water boils at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level, and a Cis-gendered White Male says that pure water boils at 85.3 degrees Celsius at sea level?”

I would say the person who confirmed that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius is correct.

“What if it’s the other way around?” someone might ask. “What if the Trans Person of Colour states that pure water boils at 85.3 degrees Celsius at sea level and the Cis-gendered White Male says it boils at 100 degrees?”

Same answer. Isn’t that how science works?

What if your interlocutor then suggests that science is a tool of white supremacy, and needs to be decolonised?

My advice would be to slowly back away, mumble something about another appointment, and when you have established sufficient distance from the person, start running. Don’t look back.

FRIDAY, 12 JUNE 2020

A good way to give yourself a better chance at a comfortable retirement is to invest in yourself. One article describes it as follows: “[Investing in yourself] is actually the simplest, the lowest risk, and quite possibly the most profitable investment you can make. Best of all, it usually doesn’t require a whole lot of money. What you want to do is invest in yourself in such a way that you can improve your income earning ability and your investment performance.”

The cartoonist and writer, Scott Adams, in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, also provides a list of skills in which every adult should have a basic knowledge: Public speaking, Psychology, business writing, accounting, design (the basics), conversation, overcoming shyness, a second language, golf, proper grammar, persuasion, technology (hobby level), and proper voice technique.

After some consideration, I came up with a list for myself. Here is an abridged version:

1. Language – Chinese, but also English and even Afrikaans (my native language)
2. Setting up and maintaining a website and social media profiles
3. The marketing and advertising of products on the Internet
4. Financial knowledge – stocks and bonds, but also the day trading of indices and foreign exchange
5. Self-defence, including hand-to-hand combat techniques and weapon use
6. Cooking and baking
7. Fixing electronic devices (basic knowledge – enough not to endanger myself)
8. Plumbing
9. Photography and videography
10. Persuasion
11. Graphic design (good enough to design my own covers, and so on)
12. Public Speaking