Quick Roundup 272

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coffee Shops and Women

Over at Slate is commentary on a study (PDF) of several Boston-area coffee shops which concludes that women have to wait about 20 seconds longer for their orders than do men, even when their tendency to place more elaborate orders is accounted for. (But a hump at nearly 200 seconds in their graph of wait times for females with "fancy orders" makes me wonder about this.)

The commentator at Slate, although he admits that the study is unclear as to whether this difference is due to male employees flirting with female customers or because they feel "contempt" for them, thinks that the difference is more likely due to "contempt".

From the study, another possible explanation arises for the increased wait times: A general impression that men tip more than women. This would easily account for the fact that longer wait times for women remain even when the shops are busy.

The study also suffers in translation from academic discussion to popular journalism because it defines "discrimination against" strictly in terms of the added time cost for female customers. This will easily lead most people into the "contempt" explanation when in fact wait times can increase for two completely different reasons: (1) male employees will spend more time interacting with women they feel an attraction for, but (2) they'll speed things up for that rich-looking guy who seems like he's in a hurry and will show appreciation for better service by leaving a nice tip. (Furthermore, I suspect that with the definition of "attractiveness" the study used, that the perceived likelihood of leaving a good tip drops with lower "attractiveness".)

The study admits to being small, but I think it also suffers from the fact that there are too many variables at work to conclude that there is discrimination against women, even by the study's rather more delimited than common definition.

But I still think that Starbuck's discriminates against good coffee! You shouldn't need to throw a stinking sundae into your cup in order to cover up the burnt taste....


Boy! Just when the phrase "Generation X" had finally lost its ability to annoy me, the media cook up a term even better for the purpose....

Mostly, this is the typical smarmy MSM piece that comes out when some aging journalist looks up from his typewriter long enough to notice that some of the kids he last saw in diapers are now joining the work force and decides to deal with it by pigeonholing all of them. Furthermore, elders have worried that the younger generation doesn't quite have what it takes to carry on since ancient times.

But not all such worries stem from the normal concern of elders for the young. Some can come from manifestations of bad cultural trends. For example, this one bothers me:

They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.
And lots of "them" went to schools like Duke University and the University of Delaware. To top it all off, the same baby boomers who caused the sense of entitlement so many young people seem now to feel are catering to it rather than letting the School of Hard Knocks recalibrate those who need it:
[C]orporate America is so unnerved by all this that companies like Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Disney and scores of others are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation that only takes "yes" for an answer.
Some hand-wringing by the elders will always occur, but it will increase when the results of a failure to transmit the culture start becoming evident. Morley Safer's generation seems intent on consummating its failure to transmit.

The Greenspeak Dictionary

Over at NRO is a short list of green euphemisms for greater government control of the economy that imply that the environmentalist agenda is compatible with capitalism:
In Michigan: Consumer Choice Coalition Director Barry Cargill, who represents a consortium of business, government, and green groups, says "the evidence is clear that competition is the best way to encourage renewable power for our future electric needs."

But . . . the CCC is calling for passage of a Renewable Energy Standard that would require all electricity providers to obtain 10-percent of their electricity from renewables by 2015.
Well! I'm glad that somebody else has started to notice such things. Too bad conservatives do exactly the same thing when they see a chance to control the economy!

-- CAV


[IMH] said...

The burnt taste in Starbucks coffee isn't from bad coffee, per se, but from the fact that they over-roast their beans.

Jenn Casey said...

Some parents of this new "Millennial" generation continue to foster this sense of entitlement and "everyone's a winner" attitude even after their children reach adulthood. They remain highly involved in the lives of their adult or nearly adult kids. The term for these folks is "helicopter parents." They are calling up their child's prospective employers to discuss employment opportunities and benefits packages. And some employers are embracing this new trend by providing parents with their own HR packets! (Ernst & Young is a notable example.)

Fortunately many employers and college career counselors find this parental involvement detrimental to say the least. Some colleges have "parent bouncers" who have the task of steering parents away from the career fairs and prospective employers.

I'm not sure what your policy on including links in your comments is, but I can provide you with some if you like. Or just search on the term "helicopter parent." Be prepared to be disgusted, however.

Gus Van Horn said...


Yes. I knew that, but could have stood to be more clear, so thanks for speaking up.

As far as I'm concerned, Starbuck's is about as good as something you'd get from a Texaco late in the day.


Yes. Post the links if you like. I'd heard of "helicopter parents", but didn't know things could be THAT ridiculous.

On your more general question, I don't mind commenters inserting hyperlinks as a rule. About the only thing I always object to are attempts to turn my blog into a free billboard by posting links that are nothing more than ads. Otherwise, unless there's some really compelling reason not to leave a link in, I'll post it.

Basically, I reject all comment spam and when there is a good comment that contains a link I want to leave out for some reason, I'll sanitize the comment and post all or part of it myself. (And if this is someone I know, I'll send them a quick email explaining why.


Jenn Casey said...

Thanks for clarifying, Gus. I usually hesitate to post links to someone's comments unless I know for sure or typically see links in other comments.

About Ernst & Young: http://tinyurl.com/32tjt7

About Helicopter Parents:



But there are more. Ever so much more.

Reading stories such as the ones above makes me realize how important it is to encourage independence in children. Helicopter parents seem to take their child's independence as a threat to their relationship, as if their adult children will not want to see them unless they remain dependent.

I hope that adult children of helicopter parents resent that kind of interference in their lives and put their parents back in their place. This is not a healthy relationship for any adults to have with each other. Just because one adult used to be dependent on the other doesn't mean that should always be the case.

While I am enjoying parenting my small kids very much, I also look forward to the time where we can have a relationship as equals. Shouldn't the goal of parenting be a healthy and independent adult?

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for the links!

No time to look at them now, but in case others would be interested, I'm posting your comment now.

I completely agree with your sentiments on the goals of parenting. I think my own parents did a very good job in encouraging us to be independent. I lost my Dad before I could complete the transition from child to equal, but enjoy my adult friendship with my mother very much.

It is an interesting question whether children who have been undercut resent that fact or not. Regardless, they probably need (or feel that they need) them so much that the relationship, as dysfunctional as it is, will remain intact.


Anonymous said...

"But I still think that Starbuck's discriminates against good coffee! You shouldn't need to throw a stinking sundae into your cup in order to cover up the burnt taste....

Having been a fresh roasted/fresh ground/fresh brewed coffee afficionado for the last thirty years at least and having enjoyed coffee the world over (an espresso at any dive of a Bar in Italy continues to be the best in the world for my taste), I must say I have just the opposite reaction to Starbucks: for me, the coffee has become watered down and virtually tasteless (it was not always thus). In fact, I sometimes wish Starbucks coffee really were even half as burnt as some feel it is. Perhaps I'd at least find it more interesting than what is served there now!

As far as chain coffee goes, I much prefer New World Coffee's fresh brew. Although I understand this is now owned by the folks at Starbucks, the coffee here is superior in every way -- fresh, deep, full-bodied and, yes, smokey when it needs to be, but with the varietal flavors always distinct (i.e., one sip reveals New World's more acidic wine-like Yirgacheffe tastes just so, and differs from the smooth, caramel-like sweetness of Sumatra).

Gus Van Horn said...

To each, his own.

Clay said...

As a former(and hopefully future) barista I have some thoughts on this.

In general, women are worse tippers. It's especially bad with the housewife types who may have rarely or never had a job. This is more prevalent as the women get near and above "retirement" age. Of course retirement age folks are in general bad tippers.

Having said this I don't think it's the likely explanation for the phenomena. If anything, it is likely discrimination against men. Women are much more likely to know what they want(or at least the particulars of the drink that they want). They are likely more versed in the lingo and have a better expectation of the end results.

Any barista will likely tell you if you ask that they frequently experience male customers who really have no idea what the different drinks are..but they don't want to admit that they are ignorant ..so they'll order a cappucino, when they really want a cafe latte. I can assure you that if they can't tell the difference it most likely effects how much attention the barista pays when making the drink.

Additional evidence for this would be provided on the back-end of the transaction where men almost never bring their drinks back whereas women who know what they are expecting will ask for a new drink if they don't get what they want(as they should).

On the basis of this I would conclude that barista's are much more likely to be taking the time to get it right than discriminating against women.

Additionally, having briefly speed-read through the pdf it is apparent that there are numerous problems with the study. It is too small of a sample. And the categories are too vague.. "fancy" doesn't address numerous issues. The most dramatic that I can think of would be the "Smoothie" issue. Starbuck's ran into this one hard last summer when they were more busy than ever and making less money for the busy b/c smoothie sales were way up. They were in the position of having to put extra employees into their stores to deal with the slow-down caused by smoothie orders. Smoothies are overwhelmingly, though certainly not exclusively, female purchases.

In addition to this, it would be interesting to see what the configuration of the customers coming into the store would be. So it is my experience that men are more likely to come in along, whereas women are more likely to have two or three people with them. There are even issues with this where it becomes relevant if the male in this group is only "along for the ride," b/c then he's more likely to be clueless about his wants. Given limited amounts of equipment, servicing groups of customers can substantially slow down the amount of time it takes to fulfill orders. An example of this would be that at the shop I worked in if there were 4 separate smoothie orders for 4 different smoothies(this happened more than you might think) it would require making two drinks, stopping and washing up the blender pitchers and then making the latter two drinks. The washing up not only slowed down the fulfillment of that order, but likely orders backing up in the queue. Additionally, making the smoothie was not sufficiently close to the Espresso machine, so you couldn't easily prep other drinks while making the smoothies, whereas even if the espresso machine was backed up making drinks you could prep the orders that were backing up which while not specifically speeding up the slow down would allow the barista to continue working on moving the orders out.

Clay said...

The issue with Starbuck's and coffee is two-fold.

1) Starbuck's overroasts their beans for branding purposes. The bad thing about this is that it mis-educates people about what good coffee and good espresso should taste like.

2) It's all well and good to prefer Starbuck's coffee... it's just important to understand that the characteristics that define what coffee in general and espresso in particular is "supposed" to taste like are being thrown out the window by Starbuck's in the name of a marketing ploy.

This probably undercuts my point somewhat, but I've been listening to the TED lectures lately and Malcolm Gladwell did an excellent one called, "What We Can Learn from Spaghetti Sauce."

Definitely worth a listen:


Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for your comments.

On the longer waits for women customers, two things. First, a minor clarification that does not undercut your point: the data-takers were instructed not to count group orders. Second, your mention of smoothies and returned drinks makes me wonder if those might be the sources of the really long second "hump" in the fancy order graph comes from.

And thanks for clarifying the issue of coffee roasting for me. While my normal choice for coffee is unexciting, I am not exactly a timid coffee drinker. Having been to Italy and Greece, I have enjoyed both espresso and that stuff you can damn near chew from Greece. (In fact, I know how to make it myself.)

And yet.... I just can't do Starbucks without a HEFTY amount of half and half. And it irritates my eyes if i drink it.


Clay said...

I haven't had the Greek variety, but I'm fond of the Turkish.

It's important to note that there is a difference between Italian and American Espresso. I'm not going to pretend that I fully comprehend this, but the essence of the difference is that the Italian's are much more interested in the taste experience and the American's tend to be more interested in presentation.

I'm told by someone who knows(the owner of one of our local roasteries who is an expert) that there are even differences in the machines, though I will be honest enough to admit that I do not know what those differences are supposed to be.

My personal philosophy on this is that the taste and the presentation can both be top-notch and while for me taste is paramount a good presentation can definitely add value to the experience.

Clay said...

Thanks also for the pointer that they didn't take groups. That is an important issue and it's good to see that they thought of it.

Gus Van Horn said...

(Ducking) If I remember correctly, the Greek and Turkish varieties are either identical or very similar.

Clay said...

well in that case... ...I love that stuff!

There's a Turkish coffeehouse around a half an hour from here and in addition to lots of good stuff to eat he has hookah's as well. While I do not ordinarily smoke, I admit that the hookah makes it pleasurable. :)


Gus Van Horn said...

I also smoke -- usually cigars -- only on rare occasions, but I once read about smoking from hookahs (or "hubbly bubbly" as I believe ethnic Brits call it) and was intrigued enough to consider renting a hookah (or hiring one? chortle!).

Clay said...

If you are fortunate enough to have a good Turkish place in your area you might be able to find someone to initiate you there.

I actually was fortunate to meet a guy who just came back from military service and he bought several that he said were good as he had acquired the habit while overseas. I believe he was in Afghanistan. At any rate, he had the goods and knew how to use them.

Overall a very good initiation.

Gus Van Horn said...

That's a good idea. I do know of at least two Turkish restaurants here, and the area has a decent-sized population from Asia, so the odds are good that if I looked for one, I'd find one.

Unknown said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "As far as I'm concerned, Starbuck's is about as good as something you'd get from a Texaco late in the day." Ah yes, good ol' cowboy coffee. "Ah prefer mah coffee with all the vahlatuhls driven off...lahk water."

Clay: "Starbuck's overroasts their beans for branding purposes. The bad thing about this is that it mis-educates people about what good coffee and good espresso should taste like." Just an anecdote this rmeinds me of. There was a coffee shop I used to go to study at that also offered a variety of gourmet coffees by the bag. I remember once hearing the owner chatting with a bulk coffee customer who was trying to organize a petition or suchlike against Starbucks (this being a college town flooded with a rich pink light even at noon and Starbucks a real thorn in the side of certain lefty-group group-think groupies), and the owner refused to help (by providing counter space for the petition or whatever). The fellow asked why he was so willing to be plowed under by a large foreign corporation and the owner replied that they filled different niches--Starbucks got people interested in coffee culture in the first place, and when their customers had gotten a taste of the real stuff they became his customers.

johnnycwest said...

Clay - thank you so much for the Malcolm Gladwell video on "What We Can Learn from Spaghetti Sauce." I just finished watching. The man is a very entertaining story teller and I appreciate the conclusion. We need charismatic thinkers and story tellers for Objectivism - Gladwell's riff on spaghetti sauce certainly dovetails with capitalism. I have seen a few of the TED lectures - I will have to watch more.

Interesting comments on coffee - I will have to sample Turkish coffee. Canadian coffee should not be dismissed - it goes by the name of Timmy or Tim Hortons. Starbucks is popular, but Tim Hortons is an obsession here. The service and ambiance are only adequate or less, but the coffee is generally excellent - at least to me. I am not sure how many American outlets there are, but Ann Arbour is one.

Anonymous said...

The very best coffee is sold in ice cream shops - it is called "coffee ice cream" and in my book that is the standard of what good coffee should taste like.

The fact that Starbucks puts a "sundae" into its burnt coffee is, to me, a wonderful plus. And with all that cream and sweetness, it tastes pretty good to me.

As for just having a regular cup of coffee without the sundae - well, I have a hard time doing the Starbucks stuff because it is so burnt. I would rather have the cheap-o coffee sold in truck stops and gas stations and other such places that only unwashed bumpkins from flyover country patronize and where any self-respecting Leftist Elitist "beautiful person" would not be caught dead being seen in.

The only problem with gas stations and truck stops is that the lower end ones do not have half and half for me to use in my attempt to make the coffee taste like coffee ice cream. They have that horrible non-dairy powder stuff. Yuck. But if you go to one of the "high class" truck stops or gas stations, usually called "Travel Centers," you can usually find plenty of half and half - and sometimes the coffee dispensers even tell you what country the coffee came from. And such places truly ARE high class because the coffee is NOT that idiotic anti-capitalistic "fair trade" stuff and such places are still beneath the dignity of any self-delusional "beautiful person" to admit ever going into.

As for good coffee - I am not much of a judge as I am primarily a tea drinker and do coffee only when I need a quick infusion of extra caffeine. But I seem to recall Dunkin' Donuts as always having VERY good coffee - though that may or may not be the case anymore as there haven't been any Dunkin' Donuts in the Fort Worth area in a number of years. But at one time, they had really good coffee.

As for the Starbucks delays - I do enjoy the Starbucks along the Interstates when I am on a long drive - their "sundaes" make for an enjoyable way for me to get a quick caffeine fix. But I have learned to avoid them on a holiday weekend. The limitations that Clay mentioned in terms of how many customers they can serve at once are VERY real. I stopped at one along the Interstate in Waco, Texas (a city where the ONLY place in town a member of the "beautiful people" class would EVER admit to being seen in is the Starbucks - unless you are a virtuous and wise mainstream media journalist being forced to cover Evil Bush when he is nearby Crawford - a place he deliberately picked out in order to force journalists to spend time in Waco). The place was packed with about three dozen people and a huge line all the way to the door. I'll be the wait must have been a half hour. I left immediately and went to a gas station. I am sure any "beautiful people" that stopped in left as well. That crowd looked like it contained a bunch of pickup truck drivers and people who occasionally shop at Wal-mart and perhaps even vote Republican. Starbucks really needs to start putting in some quality control over who is allowed to enter - especially if they are going to locate in places such as Waco. The nerve of some people - treating a Starbucks like it was a Dairy Queen.

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh. Even if the gourmet shop Adrian mentioned didn't serve better coffee, they could get customers simply by serving them faster.

Before I got a coffee maker for my office, I used a Starbucks in my building. Make that *tried to* use it on some days. The lines were sometimes so long that I figured the time I could save by being tired was worth being tired....

Clay said...

Adrian makes a good point, and it's important to note that the gourmet owner was probably smart enough to realize that without Starbuck's he wouldn't be in business.

Starbuck's has definitely made a market for paying high prices for coffee everyday. This has made it possible for small businesses to be very successful doing the same thing.

As long as we're all having this conversation:

My favorite regular drink is a double shot of espresso.

My favorite "specialty" drink is 6 shots of espresso on ice.

Gus Van Horn said...

I often special order cafe au lait.

Martin Lindeskog said...


You are welcome to test our coffee at Blue Chip Café & Business Center. Our Americano (double espresso with water) is pretty popular. Please read my post, Specialty Coffee, for more on this topic.


All the Best,

Gothenburg, Sweden.

Gus Van Horn said...

I'll stop by should I find myself in your neck of the woods, which would most likely be in the wake of a scientific conference in Europe.

Anonymous said...

"I remember once hearing the owner chatting with a bulk coffee customer who was trying to organize a petition or suchlike against Starbucks (this being a college town flooded with a rich pink light even at noon and Starbucks a real thorn in the side of certain lefty-group group-think groupies),

And those lefty-group group-think groupies should be upset. This is a perfect example of why Starbucks had better get its act together and institute quality control over who it allows to enter its doors. All too many people who are otherwise indistinguishable from those who are willing to buy coffee from truck stops and gas stations are being allowed to patronize Starbucks.

As an example of how Starbucks is flirting with disaster - a new Starbucks recently opened just west of Fort Worth in the same shopping center where a Wal-mart is located! What if some of the Wal-mart shoppers get uppity and go into the Starbucks?

Of course, Starbucks is counting on the fact that no self-delusional member of the "beautiful people" crowd would ever be caught riding around in that part of town to begin with. But what happens when those Wal-mart shoppers, as a result, go into a Starbucks in a more desirable and progressive part of town?

The ONLY thing Wal-mart shoppers are good for is when some of them can somehow be painted as being victims of something. So it is ok to be around them at a political rally for a good Leftist cause. But other than that, who would want to have to be in close proximity to such bumpkins - especially when one is ingesting burnt coffee?

Starbucks is in danger of alienating the very people that made the successful and wealthy in the first place - because those people don't want anyone to become wealthy and successful, unless, of course, they are in the virtuous professions of media and entertainment or academia or if one's parents were members of the "beautiful people" crowd. It is ok for them to become successful and wealthy because they are motivated by the spirit of nobless oblige and most wouldn't know how to turn a profit if their lives depended on it. Since Starbucks is highly profitable and successful - well, that means that they are suspect. And going after the Wal-mart/truck stop/gas station/trailer park market is proof that they are greedy and want to make money.

Clearly Starbucks needs to make some significant changes in order to remain virtuous in the eyes of those who made them successful in the first place. Here are some positive and truly progressive steps they can take:

1 - Double all of their prices. Obviously the Wal-mart crowd and people in places like Waco have way too much disposable income if they are able to afford Starbuck's current prices. So, until we get a Democrat in the White House and enough Democrats in Congress to raise taxes high enough to solve that problem, Starbuck's raising its prices should help to accomplish the same objective in the short term.

2) Serve only black coffee. Milk and half-and-half are very bad things. They come from cows - which, as we all know, contribute to global warming via their flatulence. And, even if cows weren't evil, the milk comes from female cows and is an example of sexual exploitation. You don't see perverted farm hands out there massaging and fondling the breasts of the male cows, do you? And soy milk requires processing which requires the use of energy which contributes to global warming.

2 - Eliminate all sweets from their coffee and all of the cakes and pastries they sell. Apart from the fact that sugar and foods which are pleasurable are bad for you, any form of pleasure itself is profoundly inappropriate. What right do we have for pleasure when people are homeless and starving and don't have health care and when Arab Freedom Fighters in Iraq are being murdered by American troops and Haliburton? Is it appropriate to enjoy chocolate in coffee and in cakes and chocolate bars when the Chocolate City is still in ruins after George Bush refused to stop the Hurricane from flooding it the way he stopped Hurricane Rita from hitting Houston where his Daddy and his oil buddies live? I'll be there are more Starbucks in Houston than in New Orleans. Do you really think that this is a coincidence? And is it appropriate to enjoy chocolate when so many chocolate people have yet to return to the Chocolate City thereby potentially endangering the continued viability of that city's virtuous political establishment?

3 - Burn the coffee in one large batch at the beginning of the day and let it sit around unheated. This will save energy and wasted coffee. If customers want their coffee hot, they either have to get there early or plop down a carbon credit to have it heated back up. If they want it hot and fresh, they either need to get there early or plop down 10 carbon credits to have a fresh batch brewed and burned especially for them.

4 - Sell pathetic looking jewelry, knick knacks and other trinkets made out of rocks and bamboo by illiterate peasants in third world villages which cost about 5 cents to make factoring in both materials and labor - and sell them for $39.95 attached to a card made from recycled paper telling customers that, by displaying them, they are communicating to all of the other "beautiful people" they encounter that they care about the peoples of the third world and that they, too, are motivated by the spirit of nobless oblige. Send one penny on the dollar of the profits from the sale of such trinkets to some Leftist run third world charity.

5 - Lose money right and left and when forced to close stores, keep all of the employees impacted on the payroll even though they are no longer needed. That is the way for an organization to prove that it is virtuous and worthy of praise from the "beautiful people."

Starbucks had better get its act together and take my advice. This nonsense of trying to make money and expand its customer base to include people in places like Waco and people who shop at Wal-mart and who vote for the Evil Republicans - well, if this trend continues, it is only a matter of time before Starbucks starts installing gas pumps in the parking lots of its stand-alone locations and opens up new stores inside truck stops and travel centers.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hilarious and not far from the truth!

Clay said...

lol brilliant.

Also taught me that apparently "burnt" is a proper configuration of "burned" or the other way around.

I keep seeing "t" replacing "ed" lately in lots of words that end in "ed."

I don't know quite what to make of this, but it never scans right and usually(present case clearly exempted) suggests all sorts of awful things about the person who wrote it.

madmax said...

"Apart from the fact that sugar and foods which are pleasurable are bad for you, any form of pleasure itself is profoundly inappropriate."

Dismuke, in a rational world you would be one of the highest paid sitcom and comedy writers in the industry. You have the making to be an Objectivist Seinfeld. But I have a question about the Left. How is it that they are simultaneously against pleasure in the form of food and cigarettes and yet for sexual promiscuity? Is this some twisted yet consistent application of their nihilism? I never understood the seeming contradiction.

Gus Van Horn said...

The general thrust of leftism is nihilism, and it might help to note that food and smoking are simpler, perceptual-level pleasures whereas sex, while it certainly has perceptual-level components, is much subtler. (Jackie Treehorn, the pornographer in The Big Lebowski sums this up well when he says "the brain is the biggest erogenous zone". (Heh! I've always wanted to use that movie to make a point!) But actually, Ayn Rand makes this point far better.)

The left, by promoting promiscuity, gets to attack spiritual values through religion AND sever those values from the physical by adopting the opposite side of the false mind-body dichotomy as religion.

So before you wonder why the left is promoting pleasure when it promotes promiscuity, ask yourself whether promiscuity is really all it's cracked up to be.

In at least that sense, your question is actually straightforward. The left is attacking all pleasure.

madmax said...

"The left, by promoting promiscuity, gets to attack spiritual values through religion AND sever those values from the physical by adopting the opposite side of the false mind-body dichotomy as religion."

Oh I see. Its another classic false alternative. The religionists say that sex can only have value if it is blessed by God and if it is only for procreative purposes, etc, etc.. But the Left rejects this and says no their is no spiritual, meaningful element to sex. It is just blind animalistic instinct as determined by our body chemistry. So we have the Religious moral absolutists whose morality is based in another world (which doesn't exist) and we have the materialist Leftists who reject absolutes altogether and deny the act of sex and rationally spiritual meaning. What a choice. Thanks for helping me better understand that Gus.

Gus Van Horn said...

And thanks for the question! It was useful to me to think that one over a bit. I didn't quite see it right off the bat.

Anonymous said...

Yes to both Gus and Max.

Neither the hard core religionists nor the Leftists/nihilists can deny the obvious fact that sex is pleasurable. But the Left is just as anti happiness with regard to sex as is any puritanical religionist.

The religionists say that sex is base, dirty and animalistic and beneath the dignity of the noble human spirit. The nihilists agree completely but consider the religionists to be superstitious bumpkins for being so backward as to believe something so preposterous as the notion that there could be anything noble or dignified about the human animal.

To nihilists, human sexuality is of no more significance than what you see in a farm yard or in the monkey cages in the zoo. Animals fornicate and stimulate their little what-nots whenever and wherever the urge happens to strike them. To the degree that you are reluctant to do likewise means that you are stuffy, prudish, old fashioned and have hang-ups left over from the silly superstitious notion that our sexuality is somehow of more significance than any that of any random animal fornicating in the pasture.

The nihilists attack any meaningful pleasure of human sexuality by divorcing it from values which they also consider to be a self-aggrandizing superstition. They assert that sex is nothing more than a biological urge - and since that is all it is, then why not go after whatever physical thrill one has a chance to get from it, especially since doing so will cause all those old-fashioned stuffy people to squawk and become offended which is a thrill in and of itself to a nihilist.

To the nihilist, sex is nothing more than a cheap thrill.

If you think about it, promiscuous people are really no different than any other type of hedonistic thrill seekers. Observe that such people never achieve any lasting value or meaning out of the thrills they manage to experience. Once they manage to experience whatever sort of thrill they pursue, they are immediately bored with it and crave something even more intense.

After one has already slept with more than a certain number of people - well, sleeping with one more becomes old hat and the the excitement that was once felt from a new bedroom encounter is suddenly boring. The thrill seeker desperately craves to feel the same thrill that he experienced the first time - and yet the more he searches for it, the more difficult it becomes and the more desperate he is to find it.

That is why promiscuous people tend to, over time, seek out ever more exotic and ever more risky sexual encounters. That is the only way they can prevent from being bored and to satisfy their desperate pursuit of the increasingly elusive thrill which is the only thing that partially fills the vacuum of an empty life - i.e., a life without values.

The puritanical religionists claim that the pleasure derived from sex is fleeting and that one should disregard it or else risk eternal misery. The nihilists actually implement into real-world reality exactly that which the religionists warn against: To a nihilist sex is but one of an endless series of fleeting and increasingly difficult to achieve cheap thrills which punctuate and provide momentary distraction from a life lived in a psychological state which is more or less identical to that which the religionists say awaits those who end up in hell.

The hard core religionists are so worried about avoiding going to hell that they dismiss happiness on Earth as irrelevant or worse - and to the degree they do, their lives on Earth end up being hell. And the hardcore Leftists regard the religionist's talk of heaven and hell as primitive nonsense from bumpkins because they are unable conceive of and resent the very notion of any alternative to the psychological hell which is the existence of any nihilist. The notion of heaven to them is simply bizarre - at best, all the nihilist can hope for is some sort of brutal utopia where everyone else's misery will magically make him feel at peace with his empty and meaningless life.

The religionists are actually closer to the truth in that there is both a heaven and a hell. There actually is something in reality that those terms refer to. Only the religionists are completely wrong about their allegedly mystical, otherworldly nature. Heaven and hell do exist - they are right here on earth in the here and now. The only question is which one we choose to live our lives in (assuming that criminals and governments and, to a lesser degree, unfortunate circumstances, have not already confined one to hell).

For nihilists, "pleasure" is but a brief diversion from the hell that is their lives. It is ok for the them to experience it - but they don't want you to experience it because they can't stand the contrast with and constant reminder of their misery.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you, Dismuke for a very thought-provoking exploration of the subject of promiscuity.

After considering all that, the behavior of the various self-proclaimed sexual "connoisseurs" makes a lot more sense: It is they who find sex (meaning: the part of it they bother to explore) boring, and their snobbish, meddlesome put-downs of those with "prudish" tastes are just a manifestation of nihilism as well as the fact that misery loves company.

Either I'm becoming more thick-skinned or such behavior is far less common than it was when I was growing up.

madmax said...

Thank you Dismuke and Gus. Your comments have aided me significantly with this subject.

Clay said...

I agree w/ Madmax. Much edification to be had.