One Thing & Another

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: What’s in a name? And what are bear squats?

In the promotion I read this morning, they call them bear squats. Highly recommended for getting you into shape quickly. And keeping you there. A set of them takes only a few minutes. But the effect is major and lasting: They will change my physique and boost my energy levels.

I read one promotion/advertisement every day. I should probably do more than that, but I’ve ingested so much over the years that the marketing compartment in my brain is nearly exploding. To put something new in, it feels like I have to let something old out. So I’m very selective about taking in any new marketing material.

But “bear squats”… It’s a curious phrase. I remember when “Hindu squats” were the rage. Matt Furey made a good little business selling Hindu squats back in the day. His approach was novel back then. I’d never seen anyone in the fitness market take an ordinary exercise and transform it into something bigger and better. Boring old regular squats become super-hero squats by adding to them an arm movement and breathing rule. I bought into it. I still do Hindu squats. I have no idea whether Matt learned them from a Hindu or invented them out of whole cloth. But the tactic was smart. And effective.

(When I teach marketing, I sometimes use this as an example of two techniques: incremental augmentation and “neologizing.”)

Bear squats…

I try to imagine what they look like… I can’t… but I can imagine the strength of a bear. I can picture a bear’s thigh – thickly muscled and immensely powerful. Sounds like they would be good for me!

How to use this marketing technique: Know the product, use the product, live the product, and then identify some way it can be improved. Don’t advertise it as new and improved. Get into your gut and find a phrase that conveys its uniqueness. Then sell that as something new.


Today’s Word: epigone (noun)

An epigone (EP-ih-gohn) is an undistinguished follower or imitator of an important person, especially an artist or writer. As used by Michael Z. Wise in The Los AngelesTimes: “Just as [Michael] Arad doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as an ‘Israeli architect,’ he is loath to appear as an epigone of Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.”


Fun Fact

Ronald Reagan appeared in 60 movies.


From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

Even if you saw the movie, read the book it was based on. And if you read it eight years ago, when it came out, read it again.

In The Big Short, Michael Lewis does much more than explain how and why the stock market crashed in 2007/2008. He explains how the entire financial industry – the banks, the brokerages, the insurance companies – conspired to make themselves incredibly wealthy at the expense of just about every other sector of the American/global economy.

As he does in his other books, Lewis makes it easy to understand the big picture by telling small, fascinating stories of individual players.

You meet Michael Burry, a former neurologist turned super-investor. Despite, or because of, his Asperger’s Syndrome, Burry was able to spot the credit crisis early, bet against it, and win big. But only after his investors lost faith in him.

You meet Steve Eisman, a hedge fund manager who was also early to recognize the credit crisis. Eisman inveighed against it and was ostracized by his Wall Street peers, even those that agreed with his analysis.

And you meet the founders of Cornwall Capital, who started a hedge fund in their garage with $110,000 and grew it into a $120 million fortune. They did it by figuring out how to short subprime mortgages, credit default swaps (CDSs), and the even more sinister CDOs (credit default obligations).

I’ve written about my own experience of this bubble and crash. How I stopped buying properties around 2006 because (1) they were insanely overpriced (from an income perspective) and (2) logic told me that the real estate market was hyper-inflated when starter homes were selling for 8 to 10 times beginning salaries. And I’ve written much about the financial industry and how I tend to see them as stealers, not preservers, of their clients’ wealth. But this book allowed me to see how it happened from the inside. And to understand how it was possible for so many powerful insiders to pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in modern history.

And by the way, as Lewis points out in the epilogue, nothing has been done to prevent it from happening again. There are still trillions of dollars’ worth of credit problems out there that will eventually have to be paid for by ordinary taxpayers since the government has seen to it that the rich guys that caused this problem stayed rich and were allowed to start all over again.

Something to Think About

Why Is The World Getting Dumber?

By Jim Good in Taki’s Magazine

I hate to concede the possibility that Bob Dylan was ever right about anything, but I will not deny that the times they are a-changin’. Still, what neither Dylan nor anyone who finds him remotely worthwhile seem capable of conceding is that the times may be a-changin’ due to the fact that the IQs they are a-droppin’.

IQ tests over the past two decades show that people are getting dumber, and researchers are stupidly trying to blame this on everything except genetics.

I believe that the fundamental political/philosophical/cultural question – the one that cuts through all the nonsense and rushes straight for the jugular – is “Are people equal?”

It seems obvious to the point of slapstick comedy to me that people are most decidedly NOT equal. All of the evidence suggests that people are wildly unequal, not only within their specified groups, but especially between groups, a statistical fact that Lewontin’s fallacy tried and failed to obscure.

But the leftist brain is torch-welded to the idiotic idea that although evolution might be real, we all somehow mystically wound up gloriously equal anyway – only with different colors – and that all disparities in things such as longevity and income and technological innovations can neatly be blamed on HATRED, which is a childish and factually preposterous idea that far too many intelligent people swallow because their emotions and need for social approval tend to override their intellect because they are all basically girls despite whatever gender they may have been assigned at birth.

“IQ Scores Are Declining And The Environment Is To Blame, New Study Finds” belches an uninformed and misleading headline from CBS Sacramento that was nearly identical to dozens of similar headlines regarding a study released [in June].

A CNN story fairly exults in the deluded notion that this new study completely discredits the idea that IQ and genetics could possibly be related:

 Researchers have long preferred to use genes to explain variations in intelligence over environmental factors. However, the new study turns this thinking on its head.

And Reason magazine – which is sold out to irrational egalitarian propaganda – says this groundbreaking new study “tends to rule out dysgenic fertility or immigration as significant explanations for falling average IQs.”

The study in question is called “Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused,” which is more of a definitive statement than traditional title, but that’s what the authors called it, so I suppose they’ll have to support that statement… right? The authors, Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg, appear to be of Norwegian ethnic derivation but could hardly be mistaken for Vikings, if you catch my drift.

In case you were unaware, the “Flynn effect” refers to a pattern noticed by James R. Flynn that global IQ points rose about three points per decade from 1932 to 1978. Many viewed the Flynn effect as conclusive evidence that IQ is not hardwired and is far more influenced by things such as nutrition and education than it is by one’s genes. These same people never bothered to explain, though, that while black and white IQs tended to be rising, a stubborn gap between the two groups persisted through it all.

However, about twenty years ago, the Flynn effect appeared to suddenly halt and to the shock of progressives who view history as an endless march forward, IQs started to decline in several industrialized nations.

Such downward IQ trends have been noted in England, France, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia, and Norway, the latter of which is the only country examined in this new study. (It beggars belief, but IQ tests have yet to plummet in the USA. Take a deep breath; I promise it’s coming.) In European countries that had seen an unceasing increase in IQ scores from the early 1930s all the way through the mid-1990s, the scores began free-falling. Something was tragically wrong all of a sudden, just like Cliff Robertson’s character in the film Charly where, to his horror, a retarded man’s brain surgery that had temporarily made him a genius slowly starts to fail and he lapses once more into hopeless retardation.

A main problem with the study – which should be obvious to anyone who actually purchased it and read it, as I did – is its extreme specificity. It focused only on male Norwegian Army soldiers spawned by two natural-born Norwegian parents between 1962 and 1991. It found that IQs peaked among soldiers born in 1975 and then began a slow decline. Therefore, it contains absolutely no comparisons between ethnic Norwegians and immigrants to Norway, the latter of whom are predominantly non-Western and now comprise 13% of the country’s total population.

So in effect, the only “genetics” that the study was able to examine involved IQ differences among ethnic Norwegians born between 1962 and 1991. And it found that their IQs rose between 1962 and 1975 and then started falling.

Even though the study allegedly “concluded” that environmental factors were to blame for this trend, it did not conclusively identify any of these factors nor did it offer any statistical evidence for why these factors negatively affected IQ. There’s some vague insinuation that maybe kids these days are playing too many video games, but that’s truly as far as these “researchers” dig into the root cause.

Throughout the text of their study, Bratsberg and Rogeberg don’t waste a single opportunity to suggest that since their results show a decline of scores within

individual families, this somehow proves that average scores couldn’t possibly be different between ethnic groups. But their study doesn’t even allow for such comparisons because it excludes nonwhites, which conveniently spares these two Nordic knuckleheads from having to confront what is likely some emotionally uncomfortable data. In short, all the study shows is that IQ scores have been dropping among male ethnic Norwegian Army members. We don’t know if they’ve been dropping among nonwhite Norwegians, nor if there’s a huge gap between the two groups’ mean IQs, because we are not made privy to such data.

Still, Rogeberg insists:

The causes in IQ increases over time and now the decline is due to environmental factors. It’s not that dumb people are having more kids than smart people, to put it crudely. It’s something to do with the environment, because we’re seeing the same differences within families.

The authors also found some informational nugget suggesting that among white Norwegian Army members, low IQ and high fertility are not positively correlated – in fact, smart military Norsemen may actually breed more prodigiously – but the giant leap we’re supposed to make from that is to assume that any study suggesting that low IQ and high fertility are correlated has not only been discredited and debunked, it is racist, and being racist means you’re a dumb dummy who probably has a low IQ. If you believe in “dysgenic fertility theory” as hilariously proposed in the film Idiocracy, it’s not because that’s what the stats suggest – it’s because you have a stain on your soul.

What could we learn if, oh, let’s say we were to broaden the frame of reference away from white male conscripts to the Norwegian Army? What if we were to, I dunno, compare the average IQ scores of the nations with the five highest and five lowest birth rates in the world?

Here’s what I found. The country’s estimated mean IQ is in parentheses.

Five highest birth rates
Niger (84)
Angola (68)
Chad (68)
Somalia (68)
Burundi (69)

Five lowest birth rates
Italy (102)
Japan (105)
Greece (92)
Portugal (95)
Taiwan (104)

Are you seeing a pattern there? If not, are you blind?

Since geneticists are still honest enough to admit that IQ is mostly if not overwhelmingly hereditary, a global – rather than a Norwegian – approach to this matter would lead one to conclude that the world is getting dumber and genetics have quite a lot to do with it.

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