Dangerous Safe Spaces

Via Chris Snowdon:

Low-alcohol booze ‘can you make you drink more’ as they are marketed for ‘lunchtime’ or ‘all occasions’ 

They are seen as the sensible option to enjoy a tipple without going overboard.

But low-alcohol wine and beer may actually lead people to drink more, academics have warned.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say lower strength drinks are being marketed as drinks for ‘lunchtime’ or ‘all occasions’, which may encourage people to choose them instead of soft drinks.

Actually, I think this makes a certain paradoxical sense. For the less alcohol there is in some drink or other, the more of it that you’ll need to drink in order to get drunk. And so if you’re knocking back pints and pints of low-alcohol beer at some party, you may have a false sense of security about your likelihood of getting drunk. On the other hand, if you’re drinking neat whisky, you’ll likely be highly aware that one little tumbler of it can push you over the limit.

Surely the real issue is whether people know what they’re drinking or not? If they know it’s weak or strong in alcohol, they’re much more likely to act accordingly.

The same sort of reasoning applies to smoking cigarettes. I believe that these days cigarettes contain less nicotine than they did 50 or 60 years ago. If nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco (it may be, or may not be) then wouldn’t the effect of reducing the amount of nicotine in tobacco have been to increase how many cigarettes people had to smoke in order to achieve the desired effect?

So also low-calorie food. Since we need some number of calories of energy to be able to stay alive, the immediate effect of eating low-calorie food must be that people need to eat more of it. So they end up eating more food, not less.

There might be similar effects with things like speed limits. If one is in a hurry to get somewhere, but you have to pass through a 30 mph speed limit area, isn’t one likely compensatory effect going to be that you drive faster once you get out of them, so that a decrease in speeds in one area is offset by increases in speeds elsewhere?

And another thing with speed limits on roads near, say, schools might well be that in their safe environment, children will become more likely to run out into roads without looking right and left to see what’s coming, because they no longer need to do so. And if they become accustomed to running out into roads heedlessly at school, aren’t they likely to bring the same propensities to roads where there are no speed limits (and where cars might be driving faster to make up time as they leave the speed-restricted areas)? So it becomes possible to imagine that there is a “kill zone” just outside speed-restricted areas where running children encounter speeding cars. After all, children don’t read traffic signs, so they won’t know when they’re leaving a speed-restricted area, and need to watch out for what’s coming.

Same with the shark nets that are used to keep sharks away from some some crowded beaches. Isn’t there a likelihood that people will stop worrying about sharks, and swim around happily at any distance from the shore, not bothering to keep an eye out for dorsal fins cutting through the surface? And what if they stray just outside these safe spaces? And what if some sharks manage to somehow get into the supposedly shark-free areas, and are unable to get back out because the nets pen them in?  And what if the penned-in sharks start getting hungry, and need to eat something, and maybe something they’ve never eaten before…?

I could spend all day dreaming up endless examples of such unsafe “safe spaces”.

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The Coming European Civil War

I’ve been thinking about wars.

When I think of wars, I usually think of them as being between nation states or tribes, such as the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage, with one bunch of people against another bunch:

Both states or tribes are hierarchies, with a king or emperor or triumvirate or something at the top.

But there are other sorts of war – usually called civil war – which pit one side of an hitherto unified society against the other.

The Great Roman Civil war between Caesar and Pompey was one such civil war, which divided Roman society vertically, with aristocratic Roman families fighting against each other.

The English Wars of the Roses, in the 14th C, also saw the English nobility divided against each other, with aristocratic families fighting each other.

The 19th C American Civil War was also a war of this kind, between the secessionist south and the unionist north.

But there’s another sort of civil war, which divides societies horizontally. In these the aristocracy fight with the peasantry or common people. If the aristocrats win, it’s called a rebellion. And if the people win, it’s called a revolution.

The Social War in Rome seems to have been a war of this kind, between the aristocracies in Rome and various previously allied, non-aristocratic cities.

The English Civil War of 1642 was also a revolt of common people (the House of Commons) against the English aristocracy and King Charles I. It really ought to be called a revolution, because the common people – personified by Oliver Cromwell – won. But perhaps because the monarchy was re-established shortly afterwards, it’s called a civil war.

The American Revolution of 1776 was another such war, between the settlers in American states and the British Crown. It’s called a revolution because the settlers won. If they had not, it would be recorded as having been the American rebellion.

The French Revolution, which took place only a few years later (and may have taken its cue from the American revolution) was another successful revolt by common people against aristocratic overlords.

And of course the Russian revolution in 1917 was also a successful revolt of common people against the Russian aristocracy.

But whenever one set of kings and aristocrats are overthrown, they are immediately replaced by a new aristocracy. In this manner societies always retain their hierarchical structure.

The American revolutionaries who won independence from Britain may not have established a new aristocracy or monarchy, but once he and his co-signatories of the Declaration of Independence had won their war, George Washington automatically became an American aristocrat, even though he never called himself one.

And people like Bill Clinton and George Bush and Donald Trump are or have been, despite the best efforts of the founding fathers to prevent it, American emperors in all but name, and the current deep division in American society is arguably really one between the aristocratic Clinton family and the newly emergent Trump family. As such, should this ever become a civil war, it will be a civil war like that between aristocratic English families during the English Wars of the Roses.

But increasingly, over the past century or so, the new aristocrats (much like the old aristocrats) have been the taxpayer-funded bureaucrats in an ever-expanding state sector. In Britain today, someone like Deborah Arnott is just such a bureaucrat. And she demonstrates all the hauteur and arrogance and autocratic traits of any aristocrat from a former age. As do her colleagues in almost every branch of government, and above all in the un-elected bureaucracy in Brussels .

Almost all revolutionary civil wars seem to break out when the aristocracy start overtaxing people. It happened in the English Civil War, and it happened in the American and French revolutions. And it’s very likely to happen again when the common people have had enough of the demands by the new aristocracy in the bloated bureaucracies of the state.

There is, I think, little chance of a war between any of the nation states of Europe at the moment. WW1 and WW2 were, in many ways, wars between the imperial aristocracies of Europe. And now nothing remains of either their far-flung empires or their aristocracies. The nations of Europe therefore have no cause for war with one another.

It is of course possible that the new aristocracies of Europe could fall out with each other. But there seems little sign of this happening, largely because the new aristocracy are mutually dependent on each other, and none of them have yet been displaced.

What seems for more likely (and already beginning) is a populist revolt of the common people of Europe against the increasingly authoritarian new European aristocracy (and also in their own nations). So if war breaks out anywhere in Europe in the coming years, it will most likely be a war between the people and the state. And if the people prevail (as they are usually likely to do, simply because they always outnumber their aristocratic overlords) we will see a European Revolution, perhaps accompanied by a Declaration of Independence and a Bill of Rights.

Such a revolution might have the surprising effect of creating something like a United States of Europe that replaces the bureaucratic monstrosity of the EU with real working institutions and genuine representative democracy.

If not, Europe will have to endure 70 years of something not much different from the Soviet Union.

And thereafter history will continue to repeat itself, just as it always has, with one new aristocracy following another.

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The Whites Of Their Eyes

I’ve had my attention drawn to Jordan B Peterson over the past two or three months. He’s become something of a celebrity overnight, almost. And I find him very interesting to listen to. He brings a certain passion to what he’s saying.

Nevertheless, I never find myself completely buying what he says. And in this respect something he said at about 3 minutes 20 seconds into the video below is an example of something I couldn’t buy.

He said:

“What are you really up to? Everyone’s always wondering that. It’s why they’re watching your eyes. Because your eyes point at things. And they can infer what they’re interested in, what you’re up to by looking at what you look at. And that’s why your eyes have whites, so that we can see where you’re pointing, because gorillas don’t. And so what that means, roughly speaking, is that all your ancestors whose eyes couldn’t be reliably tracked were either killed or didn’t mate. It’s a big deal for us to see where people’s eyes are pointing. And so we’re always watching each other’s eyes constantly.”

Herrumph! That made me sit up:

all your ancestors whose eyes couldn’t be reliably tracked were either killed or didn’t mate.

Really?

Is it really true that we can only see where other people are looking if we can see the whites of their eyes? Isn’t the pupil in the middle of the eyes, with the coloured circular iris around it, enough to gauge in which direction someone is looking?

After all, is it impossible for people to tell in which direction green-eyed cats or brown-eyed dogs are looking, because they have only vestigial whites to their eyes? I could tell when my cat was looking at me, and even looking into my eyes.

But – hey, wait – there’s another problem: we’ve got two eyes. And we can only look at someone else’s eyes one at a time. You look at either their right eye or their left eye: you can’t see both of them at the same time. And when someone’s looking at something that’s near to them, their eyes swivel together. And when they’re looking into the far distance, their eyes point in pretty much exactly the same direction. But if you can only see one eye at a time,  you can only gauge in what direction one of their eyes is looking, not what they’re looking at. If you’re trying to find out what people are looking at,you’ll have to look at first one eye, and then the other, and hope that their attention remains on the same thing (which it may not be).

So is it ever possible to know what anyone is looking at? Or what the lenses in their eyes are focused on? No. It isn’t. There’s no way of reliably tracking anyone else’s eyes. It’s a physical impossibility.

So if you ended up killing or not mating with people whose eyes you couldn’t reliably track, you’d wind up killing everyone.

And wouldn’t doing something like that be a bit Darwinian? Is life really such an awful Struggle For Existence that you have to kill off even people who don’t have any white in their eyes? I don’t think so.

But it’s more than that:

“we’re always watching each other’s eyes constantly.”

Are we? I don’t. Usually when I’m talking to people I don’t look at their eyes. I don’t even look at their faces. Sometimes I just look at the floor. Most of the time, I don’t really care where they are looking either. Do I really need to know? Mostly I don’t. Most of the time it’s good enough to just hear what people are saying.

And there’s another thing: he’s really only talking about people in social contexts, where they’re interacting with each other. We use our eyes to do lots of other things as well, like aim a rifle or a bow, or look out for approaching tigers and wolves, or see how far we have to jump or throw something. Social interactions make up a very small part of people’s lives, if they’ve got jobs to do, tasks to carry out. And for the most part I think it’s those other tasks – all of which require using our eyes – that seem more important than after-hours social interactions.

Anyway, on thinking about what he said, it just didn’t stack up right. And I wound up dismissing more or less everything he’d just said.

And that’s pretty much how I usually end up feeling. He initially sounds very persuasive, but on close examination it doesn’t really make much sense.

But, hey! That’s just me.

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No Children Permitted In Chinese Churches

One of the things that shocked me about the UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007 was that even churches were required to put up No Smoking signs, even though smoking in churches was something that simply didn’t happen.

So this report from China reminded me of No Smoking signs going up in churches:

Chinese Pastors Ordered to Post Signs on Churches Forbidding Entry to Minors

As part of its most recent clampdown on Christian churches, Chinese authorities have instructed priests and pastors to post signs on churches barring entry to minors.

The instruction is part of a new set of communist party-controlled regulations on religious activities that went into effect on February 1 and is aimed at preventing children and young people from getting religious instruction or taking an active part in Christian worship…

Chinese authorities stated that church attendance and religious instruction keep young persons from developing “a correct worldview and set of values.”

All done for the sake of the chiiiildren – another familiar tactic.

And wasn’t the UK smoking ban that exiled smokers to the outdoors in 2007 also all about getting them to develop “a correct worldview and set of values” (i.e. stop smoking)?

But who really has the correct set of values anyway? Given one set of communist party values and another set of Christian values, which would you prefer? I may not be a churchgoer, but I remain powerfully aware of my Christian upbringing, and I haven’t changed my values significantly throughout my life. And I’ve also been very interested in the whole question of where fundamental values are derived from. It seems to me that it is one of the most pressing questions of our age, at a time when Christian values are increasingly being replaced by new values, usually at the behest of a state which seems (like the Chinese communist party) to have begun to decide for itself what is right and wrong, what matters and what doesn’t matter  (and in the UK seems to have elevated Health to be the prime value, with all other moral considerations dispensed with).

Anyway I have far more faith in the ability of Christian churches to impart traditional values to children than I have in the Chinese state. If nothing else, Christian values have been around for 2000 years (along with equally venerable Buddhist teachings), while the Chinese state has been around for considerably less than a century.

And in addition I don’t believe that new values (e.g. health) can readily replace old ones. For I think that the moral task we have is not so much to invent new values, but to discover what our true values really are. To me it seems that we should be trying to understand what our inherent and immutable values really are, in the same way that we try to discover inherent and immutable laws of physics.

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Self-Appointed?

An article  by Chris Snowdon about Public Health England in the Spectator:

Eating, drinking, smoking and lazing around are personal matters that may or may not have personal consequences. In the liberal tradition, this makes them nobody else’s business and, despite spurious claims about the cost of lifestyle-related diseases to the public purse, they are none of the government’s business either.

Needless to say, ‘public health professionals’ do not subscribe to the liberal tradition. As self-appointed guardians of our wellbeing, they will make us healthy whether we want to be or not.

Are they “self-appointed”? They’re paid very handsomely by the government, most of them, as far as I know. Doesn’t that mean that they’re government-appointed?

I could say that, as a blogger, I’m self-appointed. Nobody pays me to write anything.

And isn’t Chris Snowdon a self-appointed author? He’s written several books. I’ve even got a couple of them. Did anyone commission him to write them? I don’t believe so. I think he just wrote about things that interested him. Isn’t that what most authors do?

And might one not say that all authors are self-appointed? And also all artists and musicians as well? Did anyone commission Vincent van Gogh to paint all those sunflowers?

I suppose that musicians like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones were actually commissioned to make records for the music industry. But at the outset, before they were famous, they were just a bunch of self-appointed musicians playing music that they liked.

Maybe even all real scientists are self-appointed as well. Or they used to be. Nobody commissioned Isaac Newton to investigate the laws of motion and gravitation or light. He was a professor of mathematics. But hardly anyone attended his lectures. All the motion and gravitation stuff was done in his own time. He was hired to teach mathematics, not to study physics. So he was a self-appointed physicist.

Same with Einstein when he worked in the patent office in Berne. He did all the relativistic thinking at home, after hours. So he was another self-appointed physicist.

Both of them were following their own noses, studying what they themselves were interested in, not somebody else.

The same was true of Darwin. Nobody commissioned him to write the Origin of Species.

These days, most scientists seem to be working in universities. And most of them seem to have been commissioned to investigate something or other. Back when I was a post-graduate in a university, I’d been commissioned to study heat flow in buildings by the Science Research  Council. I had a job to do which was pretty highly defined. But in my own time (and I had plenty of it) I dreamt up Idle Theory. Nobody paid me to do that.

And perhaps it’s because most scientists have been commissioned to study one thing or other, and not follow their own noses wherever their curiosity takes them, that science seems to be going backwards, and more and more of it looks like pseudoscience.

After all, if you’ve been hired by somebody to find out how carcinogenic tobacco smoke is, or how hot the planet is going to get as a result of global warming, you have to come up with some findings about that. And you probably need to come up with the right sort of results while you’re about it. You can’t waltz off looking at something else. It won’t help your prospects of winning new research contracts if you find that, actually, tobacco is completely harmless, or global warming isn’t happening.

In fact, once you’re commissioned to do anything, you’re immediately very highly constrained.

And so all the people working in PHE are very highly constrained as well. They’ve been hired to find health risks everywhere, and that’s exactly what they do. If they don’t do the job they’re paid to do, they’ll soon be fired.

The same is probably true of Deborah Arnott and Stanton Glantz. I don’t know what kind of money Glantz gets paid, but according to Guido Fawkes she gets £160,000 a year as head of ASH. And her job is all about Action on Smoking and Health. And she does the job very well, doesn’t she? She’s very adept at getting herself in the news. It’s her job.

And it’s perfectly possible that both her and Stan have no belief whatsoever in what they’re doing. They’re doing a job because they’re being paid to do it. For all I know both of them might be secret smokers. But their job is to make life hard for smokers, and that’s exactly what they do. Just like it’s the job of soldiers to shoot at a designated enemy rather than be the compassionate human beings that most soldiers actually are when they’re off duty.

But back to the “self-appointed” guardians of our wellbeing, who are trying to make us healthy whether we want to be or not. Are they ever likely to make any of us any healthier? I think not. In fact, I think they’re very likely to create a public health catastrophe. In fact I think it’s inevitable that they will.

But that’s another topic.

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An Emerging Informal Coalition?

Continuing with grid girls and darts girls bans, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a bit of a wave of revulsion at these bans. Hat tip to Nisakiman for this report on F1 world champion Niki Lauda’s reaction:

Niki Lauda hopes Formula One reconsiders its ban on ‘grid girls’, a decision he believes is “stupid” and “against women”.

This week’s announcement that the tradition of promotional models standing on the grid before F1 races will no longer continue has sparked a wave of headlines and debate in international media. While many have praised the decision, there has been criticism — former boss Bernie Ecclestone accused F1’s new owners of being “prudish”, while former promotional models have started a petition against the ban.

Three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who is currently non-executive chairman of Mercedes, has added his voice to the criticism.

“This is a decision against women,” Lauda told Austrian newspaper ‘Der Standard’. “Men have made the decision over the heads of women. This is not doing any favours to F1 and especially not for women. How stupid can they be? Are they nuts?”

Well, are they nuts? I don’t think so. I don’t see this as essentially any different from smoking bans. They’re engaged in social engineering. They’ve decided among themselves how people should live, and now they’ve set out to make them live that way. It’s a process of coercion, using top down control, piling taxes on things they don’t want (tobacco, alcohol), making laws to restrict or ban them, and at the same time promoting new values (e.g. environmental awareness, gender equality, multiculturalism, open borders, etc.)

Niki Lauda is an insider in F1 motor racing, and so he’ll know whether or not “Men have made the decision over the heads of women”. I’d be very interested to find out which men instigated the removal of the grid girls, and their reasons for doing so. One suggestion in the comments is that it might be because F1 now operates in Islamic countries, and so this is (yet another) capitulation to Islam, much like with halal meat.

But there are now several online petitions going a bit viral. The darts girls petition currently has over 46,000 signatures, and the grid girls petition have over 8,000 signatures. There are probably multiple petitions. And since F1 is a global industry in ways that darts is not, I’d expect the F1 petitions to appeal to a far larger fan base than the darts petitions, and if the darts petitions have so far attracted more signatures, it may be because the darts girl ban has been in place for longer than the grid girls ban.

What’s also interesting is that a few heavyweights, like Niki Lauda and Barry Hearn, have weighed in as well. Barry Hearn is, to the best of my knowledge, a snooker promoter with no direct links to either F1 or darts, so this is a case where someone from another entertainment industry may be seeing the writing on the wall for them.

Niki Lauda also said:

“If you continue on this path, there will be no cheerleaders left in America.”

Indeed. No cheerleaders and no pom-pom girls. And maybe even no carnivals in places like Rio de Janeiro.

When the “world’s biggest party” opens in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, one British woman will fulfil a lifelong ambition by gyrating her way into the carnival’s history.

Samantha Flores has been chosen as the top dancer on the lead float — the Império da Tijuca samba school — which will have a non-Brazilian principal dancer for the first time in its 78-year history. “It’s a privilege and a responsibility,” said Ms Flores, 37, a former public relations executive from Kentish Town, north London, who now runs a property consultancy in Brazil.

If the killjoys aren’t there yet, they soon will be. And they’ll be telling Brazilians that the carnival is “at odds with modern day societal norms” and probably also “outdated“.

These people are a threat to everything and everyone, and the sooner people realise it the better. Hat tip Vlad for this:

A grade school in Staten Island, New York was forced to cancel its annual father-daughter dance because it violated a new school district policy regarding transgender and gender nonconforming student.

The New York Department of Education directed schools to eliminate any gender-based practices like the daddy-daughter dance unless the activities served a clear education purpose, the New York Post first reported.

“If this doesn’t convince you that the PC/SJW movement has lost their minds I don’t know what will,” Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted. “This nonsense really needs to stop….”

“All this gender crap needs to just stop,” mom Akaia Cameron told the Post.

 “They’re trying to take away everything that everybody grew up on and has come to know and I don’t think it’s fair or right,” said Matthew West, a 32-year-old father of two daughters told the newspaper.

Might it be possible to imagine an emerging, informal coalition of everyone who, for one different reason or other, has got thoroughly sick of politically-correct, top down social engineering? They might disagree about everything else, but they’d at least agree about that.

I don’t follow either F1 or darts. So I shouldn’t really be interested. But I can see when puritanical busybodies are making life as difficult for other people as they have made life difficult for me, and make common cause with them. And I imagine plenty of other people can see it too.

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Who Decides Societal Norms?

Something from Grid Girls Gone has been playing on my mind since I wrote it. In particular, this quote:

Grid girls were scrapped by F1 shortly after the elimination of walk-on girls by the Professional Darts Corporation, because their jobs were held to be “at odds with modern day societal norms”.

Well, were grid girls at odds with societal norms when they were first introduced? Was there a public outcry? Were they stark naked or something?

I used to watch F1 Grand Prix motor racing quite avidly 20 or 30 years ago, and I don’t ever remember the grid girls. There were always pretty girls hanging around F1 races anyway. What did the grid girls look like? The first two images I pulled up on Google were:

and

Nothing to write home about there. There are girls dressed like this everywhere in the world. And they’ve been dressing like this ever since about 1965, when miniskirts became fashionable.

Doesn’t that mean that miniskirts have been socially acceptable for over 50 years? And doesn’t that mean that they’re not in the least bit “at odds with modern day societal norms”?

And haven’t societal norms being gradually changing for a long time? My mother always wore skirts below her knee back in the 1950s. And in the 1930s skirts were usually well below the knee. And in the Victorian era, skirts usually reached right the way down to the ground (right). And wasn’t there a brief episode in the 1970s when skirts also briefly did that?

Who decides what “social norms” are anyway? In my experience, they are negotiated between people in social groups, with the norms varying slightly from one group to the next. There’s no Ministry of Fashion telling people what to wear. Fashion magazines are full of models wearing different outfits, but they’re only suggestions for what people might wear, not orders.

It’s the same with smoking. In some circles it’s perfectly acceptable to smoke, and in others not.

The grid girls were perfectly socially acceptable for a long time. In fact, I’d say that they’re still perfectly socially acceptable. What’s happened now is that a bunch of puritanical killjoys are trying to arrogate to themselves the decision of what is and what isn’t socially acceptable. Instead of leaving everyone to decide among themselves what is and what isn’t socially acceptable, they’re trying to foist their own dogma on everyone else.

It’s not that grid girls are “at odds with modern day societal norms”. It’s that they’re “at odds with the killjoys’ societal norms”.

And the same is true of smoking, drinking, eating fast food, sugar, salt, meat, etc. It’s nothing to do with “health”: it’s just that the killjoys don’t like it. And they want to change social norms.

But I’ve been wondering whether social norms can be changed. If it’s true that social norms are negotiated between people in the manner that I’m suggesting, then it can never really be possible for their norms to be changed.

For example, 10 years after the smoking ban was introduced, I still regard smoking as normal. I’ve regarded it as normal all my life. And I’ll carry on regarding it as normal for the rest of my life. And I’ll also carry on regarding enjoying a beer or a cheeseburger or a steak or a curry as normal things to eat and drink. And I’ll regard miniskirts as normal too, because I’ve been surrounded by them for the past 50 years.

So I’m wondering whether large scale “social engineering” of the sort that is being attempted these days is actually a feasible, workable project. I’m wondering whether you can change people’s norms at all. For I rather suspect that people’s norms get fixed quite early in life, and never change thereafter. Smoking bans don’t change people’s norms. All that smoking bans do is to exile smokers to the outdoors – the norms of the smokers themselves don’t change one iota.  Grid girl bans won’t change anyone’s norms either. The grid girls will just wear their miniskirts elsewhere, in the company of people for whom miniskirts are normal.

But if people’s norms are fixed fairly early in life, and remain fixed thereafter, that might also help explain the killjoys’ behaviour as well. And the explanation of killjoyism is that the killjoys grew up in non-smoking, non-drinking homes, and their mums all wore no make-up and their skirts right down to the ground. And so killjoys like Deborah Arnott find themselves constantly being shocked in a world where women wear miniskirts and smoke and drink and eat cheeseburgers. And they remain shocked because their norms never change either. They’re Victorians with Victorian norms living over a century after their time.

They won’t change, and they won’t change because they can’t change. And we won’t change, because we can’t change either. And if they can’t and won’t change, why should they expect anyone else to change? In fact, why do they think they can change them at all?

Their social engineering isn’t going to work.

Anyway, as an example of where women’s fashions might go next (and outside my personal norms), how about this girl with painted-on jeans?

 

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