Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wanted: A Condorcet Experiment for the GOP

The headlines scream 'Donald Trump is the Front Runner!'

It is the case that Trump has polled at the front of the pack for the GOP nomination for a couple of weeks. His support level reaches the atmospheric heights of . . .  24 percent. And those numbers have settled back to 18% as of the end of July.

The trend of support for the 16 current GOP candidates (plus undecideds) appear in the graphics at right. Much like in 2012, when a variety of new flavors surged to the top of the polls only to fade back into obscurity, there is tremendous oscillation in support.

[A related take on this argument can be found over at the 538 Blog]

To call any of these candidates a 'frontrunner' becomes comical when you show their support on a 100-point scale.  Everyone is muddling around near the ground.  To the extent that Donald Trump is a frontrunner, it a consequence of unprecedented fragmentation of the GOP electorate across a tremendous number of candidates. 

[See also Natalie Jackson at HuffPo who first called into question the frontrunner status of #TheDonald based on poll data]

The truth is, we just don't know who leads this pack. Sam Wang argued correctly over at the New Republic that "Single-choice, horserace polls provide the wrong kind of data, and it’s misleading much of the media and the public—not to mention Trump himself." One pollster attempted to get at this by asking a question favored by myself and other advocates of runoffs, instant runoffs, and other majoritarian systems, that of 'second preferences.' A recent Monmouth poll revealed that Trump had 24% support and an additional 8% of voters indicated he was their second preference, for a potential 32% support level.

What we need is a Condorcet experiment. The Condorcet candidate in an election is the candidate who defeats all other candidates in a head-to-head competition. For Trump to be a definitive frontrunner, he should be able to defeat any other candidate head-to-head, absent other choices. In other words, he would be the majority preference among those people who do not name either him or any one other opponent as their first choice.

One way to tease out Trump's Condorcet potential is to ask voters to consider every potential trial heat. Now, unfortunately for testing the current GOP primary field, there are 120 possible head-to-head matchups, so ascertaining preferences might prove tiresome. But, when support levels are this fragmented (the Rae Fracturization Index for the GOP primary is .10, which indicates extreme fragmentation), it is possible that a candidate who is scoring in single-digits might be the Condorcet candidate, capable of beating anyone else head to head.

We need to start testing the pairs to figure out the front-runner.

Another alternative is to ask voters to rank-order their preferences -- not unlike the AP Football Poll. This is an application of the Borda Count, which ranks candidates (teams) and assigns points based on the inverse of their ranking.

This method is within the reach of voters (I think we can assume we voters are  nearly as capable of ranking politicians as we are of ranking football teams.)  This approach allows us to disentangle the ranked preferences and, therefore, the presumed preferences among voters  in any pairwise voting contest.  And, it would provide us with meaningful information about which candidates are taken most seriously by the electorate, and which are only deemed viable by a fringe or fraction of the voters.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

THE CURRICULUM IN DAD STUDIES


Dadhood (not to be mistaken for fatherhood) has been rescued by thirty-somethings and forty-somethings from the oblivion of the ‘stupid dad’ and the ‘distant dad’ that popular culture created in the 1980s. Dad Rock. Dad Bods. Dad Culture. Like any culture, Dad Culture sometimes requires some explaining.
 
Being a writer and a tinkerer and a dad as well as a professor, I did what any good professor would do – write a program of study so that I don’t have to spend all my time (re)explaining things. What follows is a comprehensive curriculum designed to introduce Millennials and Generation Z teens to the essence of Dad Culture. 

Any scholar will recognize the format. The curriculum consists of seven part: Dad Methods; Things That Were Better In The 1970s and 1980s; Sports; Dad and Film; Consumer Science; Special Topics; and Philosophy of Dad.

Prerequisite

DAD 101: Introduction to Dad
Who is Dad? What is Dad? How Dad met Mom. Why only Dad gets to tease Mom. Gently. Rarely.

BLOC I: Dad Methods

DAD 201: Duck Tape and WD-40  Introduction to basic home repair and improvement. Use and application of solutions to basic physics problems (‘If it moves and it shouldn’t / if it doesn’t move and it should’ theory).  Whether to ask Dad about something when he is holding a tool, has his head down, and is muttering under his breath.
DAD 202: On (Not) Reading the Manual When and if to read assembly directions. The location and storage of appliance manuals, warranties, and item exchange receipts. On the use of shortcuts.
DAD 203: Putting up Tools
Where tools go. Why tools should be put back where they were found. Why tools should be cleaned before being put away. Why it is important to put a tool where it can be found, so that you know where it is when you – or more importantly, Dad – needs it.  Class materials include back issues of Popular Mechanics magazine, reruns of ‘Home Improvement,’ and the RIGID Tool calendar.
DAD 204: Basic Automobile
What goes in an emergency roadside kit. Preventative maintenance (i.e. changing oil). Changing flat tires. Driving a standard without riding the clutch. On the use of cruise control. Texting and driving (don’t). Whether you need basic liability or comprehensive coverage. Why you don’t take the car to the dealership’s garage. Prerequisite:  DAD 203: Putting up Tools.
DAD 205: Trip Planning and Preparation How to pack the back of the car.  How to make sure you think of that before we go. Why the GPS cannot necessarily be trusted.  Why we’ll get there when we get there. How to not be that jerk who cruises too slow in the left-hand lane. The story of the mason jar. Games Dad and your uncles played in the car before there were hand-held electronic devices (also covered in ‘DAD 400: Special Topics – What We Did Before Cellphone and Email’). Prerequisite/corequisite:  DAD 204: Basic Automobile
DAD 206: Television
Where the ‘football chair’ goes relative to the flatscreen.  Showing Granddad  how to program the DVR. On not cancelling or deleting Dad’s DVR’d recording of the game. On not telling Dad the result of the DVR’d game. On turning that d*mn thing down. Channel-surfing. On what was TV Guide.  

BLOC II: Things That Were Better In The 1970s and 1980s

DAD 301: Why Music Was Better  
Classic rock. Outlaw country music. Alternative music. Punk rock. Indie Rock. The importance of the Beatles, REM, U2, Boston, and Led Zeppelin.  ‘Soul Train’ and early hip-hop.  The importance of Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, and Reba. Why not everything from disco was bad, but Dad won’t admit it.  Helping Dad find that station on satellite radio. Programming Dad’s iPod.
DAD 302: Movies
Overview of the importance of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee, Blacksploitation movies, introduction to ‘The Godfather (parts I & II)’. Why ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ is the only good movie Madonna ever did.
DAD 303: Tom Clancy & Ronald Reagan
How America beat the Commies in fiction based on fact and in fact based on fiction.  Related topics include John Wayne.

BLOC III: Sports

DAD 311: NASCAR   
Introduction to pit stops, slidebars, restrictor plate and ‘drafting.’ Who were Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, the Alabama Gang, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, Dale and Dale Junior. Other topics include when GM and Chrysler made great cars, disliking Jeff Gordon, and the elocution of Eli Gold. Possible field trips include Atlanta, Daytona, Talladega, Bristol, Pocono.
DAD 312: Jim McKay Studies
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. Selected topics include ‘when the Olympics were the Olympics,’ ‘where is Munich,’ the Harlem Globetrotters, and how Dad learned to like ice skating.

DAD 321: Introduction to College Football
The history of the need for BCS and the need for a playoff. The Heisman Trophy.  Great quarterbacks, great running backs, and an introduction of offensive schemes from the single and double wing through the Playstation Offense and the Wildcat. Why Dad dislikes Steve Spurrier.
DAD 322: College Football II
Introduction to defense. Les Miles and Clock management. When to go for two. When to go for it on 4th and short. Offsides, clipping, holding, pass interference, intentional grounding. Why Dad dislikes Nick Saban.
DAD 323: College Football Special Topics: Herschel Walker
All about #34, Georgia Football, and The Most Significant Trade in Pro Football History.
DAD 331: Bracketology
Why you never pick Gonzaga to win. Why Dad hates/loves ____________ (insert Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan) and ________________ (insert Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzezski(sp?)). Exploration of whether one-and-done is ruining college hoops. Was Adolph Rupp a racist? The Italian Masters (Dick Vitale, Jim Valvano, Rick Pitino, John Calipari)
DAD 332: Magic, Bird, and Michael
Discussion of the NBA’s second Golden Age. Michael Jordan’s hang-time versus Julius Erving’s hang-time. The ABA.  The 1979 NCAA title game. Related topics include Moses Malone, HIV, Clyde Drexler, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Pat Riley’s hair.  Offered while shooting free throws with Dad.
DAD 333: Pennsylvania Sports in the 1970s and 1980s
Terry Bradshaw, Iron Curtain Defenses, and Immaculate Receptions. Why 1980 was the Greatest Sports Year Any City Ever Had Or Will Have. Willie Stargell and Sister Sledge. Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, and how the Reds Won Two More Pennants as the Phillies. Dr. J.
DAD 334: Knees and Backs
Why Dad’s knees and back hurt. Where the phone number is for the orthopedic surgeon. Ben Gay and Icy-Hot. Content irregular.
DAD 335: Tailgating
Prerequisite: DAD 205: Trip Planning and Preparation.  Topics covered include the Geography of Tailgating Locations; corn-hole; Nerf football throwing; introductory grilling; food preparation, packing, and transportation; tailgate setup and breakdown; not asking Dad questions in post-game traffic; and finagling sideline passes.  Special topics include relevant alumni traditions (i.e. ringing the chapel bell at UGA) Can substituted for with DAD 402: Special Topic – Grilling.

BLOC IV: Dad and Film

DAD 341: Lucas/Spielberg Studies I: American Graffiti and Jaws
The importance of the USC Film School. Identification of cars in American Graffiti. Who is Suzanne Sommers. Who is Ron Howard. Why you don’t show the shark in the first act. Why Richard Dreyfuss used to not be a weenie.  Why we need a bigger boat.
DAD 342: Lucas/Spielberg Studies II: Star Wars Trilogy, ET, CE3K
Why there are only three Star Wars movies. Why Han shot first.  Why ET home phoned. Doo-dah-dee-dah-dah. Why Richard Dreyfuss used to not be a weenie because of Teri Garr
DAD 342: Lucas/Spielberg Studies III: Indiana Jones
Why Indy shot first. Nazis and occult.  
DAD 351: Mel Brooks Movies
Why the sheriff is near. How to get a ‘harumph’ out of that guy. Why it is good to be the King. Spring time for Hitler. Guys who were in the writers’ room of Your Show of Shows.  
DAD 352:  The Godfather
It’s just business. Going to the mattresses. On making him “an offer he can't refuse." Horse heads. Why you don’t want to be Fredo.
DAD 353: Kelly McGillis
Amish studies. The applied physics and models of communicating and keeping up foreign relations with a MiG 28 in an inverted 4g negative dive.  

BLOC V: Consumer Science

DAD 396: Don’t Go To The Dealership
How oil changes and minor maintenance pay for that giant showroom. Why those guys would have their own garages if they were any good.
DAD 397: The Grocery
The one place where Dad isn’t allowed to go shopping unsupervised. 
DAD 398: The Hardware Store
Why we don’t need help finding anything. How to hold a hammer. Buying wood that isn’t warped. Why it takes six trips to get stuff for one job.  Prerequisite/corequisite:  DAD 203: Methods III – Putting up Tools.
DAD 399: On Hunting And Killing Shirts
Why either (1) Mom buy his clothes or (2)  Dad just orders them from LL Bean. Dad’s tailor, who was Graddad’s tailor. How to tie a tie.

BLOC VI: Special Topics  

DAD 289: Special Topic – Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers and Trans Ams
The genius of Lee Iacocca. What is a small-block V-8. Why they are called ‘pony cars.’  On Jim Rockford, Burt Reynolds’ last good movie, and why Dodge Chargers can’t really fly.
DAD 400: Special Topic – What We Did Before Cellphone and Email
How we showed up where we said we’d be, when we said we’d be there.  Why paying a quarter to play a game built character and discouraged socialism.
DAD 401: Special Topic – Dancing and Karaoke
Dad can dance, with his daughter; he can’t sing. This field course shows why.
DAD 402: Special Topic – Grilling
Fire. Making fire with gas versus charcoal versus mesquite. Dry rub, sauces, and marinades. Beef, turkey, pork, chicken, fish, and sausage. Slow roasting. Vegetable preparation.  Hank Hill impersonations and quotes.  Beer.
DAD 403: Special Topic – Beer & Whiskey
Why the best things in life are brown.  Lagers, pilsners, chocs, hefes, stouts. Irish, Scotch, Bourbon. Why Jack Daniels isn’t really very good, but it gets you where you’re going. Beer goggles.  How beer created civilization in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
DAD 404: Special Topic – Fishing
On being quiet.  The boat. Just enjoy the morning. Hook baiting, gutting and cleaning, driving the boat, drinking beer.
DAD 404: Special Topic – How to Tie a Tie
You need to know how to do this, okay? (Given the right instructor, you might learn to tie a bow tie too)

BLOC VII: Philosophy

DAD 421: Nature
Because you need to have respect for nature.
DAD 422: Guns
Because you need to have respect for guns.
DAD 423: God
Because you need to have respect for God.
DAD 424: Your Mother
Because you need to have respect for your Mother.
DAD 425: America
Because you need to have respect for America.
DAD 499:  Capstone
Wherein you go forth and live a good life and try to be a good person.

Okay. Now go forth and break things. Including your heart. It'll make you stronger.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Woe Unto Thee, O Oklahoma; Thee Have Sinned A Great Sin

"And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount." Exodus 32: 19

 The Supreme Court of Oklahoma is not God, nor is it Moses. But it has cast down an order removing a set of tablets bearing the Ten Commandments from the state capitol grounds.

[The Court's opinions can be accessed here.]


This Monday, the Supremes refused the request of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to rehear the case. The state had argued that the display, funded by private funds, had an historical and secular purpose. The court had previously heard arguments regarding the display in May, and subsequently determined that it violated the state constitution's prohibition on the use of state property or assets to promote any religion.

The plaintiffs of the ACLU were quoted thus in the Oklahoman:

"Obviously we're pleased with the decision," said Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma. "The whole case is controversial, but something that is undeniable is that the court is getting this right. The court is following the law."
The state had not responded at the time of this writing.

So, what comes next? First, a state constitutional amendment will be filed altering Art. 2,
§5, which currently reads:

No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.
How this will take shape remains to be seen. But, it is reasonable to expect that the Ten Commandments monument will become incidental to the argument -- instead, a logic will likely be applied that there is a larger public policy problem here. Conceivably, this provision of the constitution might be interpreted to impede the ability of faith-based institutions and not for profits to participate in public policy delivery of a secular purpose that otherwise brings them in contact with public agencies or public monies. 

What will be interesting is how this will have suddenly become a pressing public policy problem for Oklahoma, a problem only noticed after the felling through the forces of law that which was previously felled by the force of a disoriented and disturbed individual in a car. That does not mean that the motivation is wrong, or that the problem is not real. But it is intriguing that an allegedly (by the state) secular monument with historical purpose will subsequently get a rise out of people due to religion.  
 
The next thing that will happen is that the amendment will pass, presumably about 15 months from now.   It will easily command a supermajority of the vote.

Then, someone up in New York will again attempt to send Oklahoma this piece of juvenile humor (see also at right), which was unveiled a few hours ago in Detroit.  

Then the ACLU will be back in court. 

And the attorney general will get another round of litigation over the issue, because nothing is settled in politics. 

After all, in Oklahoma, when it comes to religion, monuments, and politics, the devil is in the details.


Challenging Civil Forfeiture In Arizona


The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against the Pinal County, Arizona sheriff’s department on behalf of Rhonda Cox. Ms. Cox bought a used pickup truck, paying cash. She then leant the truck to her son, who went shopping. While he was shopping, deputies contacted him, concluded that the hood and tonneau cover on the truck were stolen parts, and impounded the vehicle. 


[Related: KGOU's Kate Greer on Oklahoma's CAF debate
for All Things Considered]


Ms. Cox asked the sheriff’s department to return her vehicle, citing her status as an ‘innocent owner.’  According to Cox, the police proceeded to continue to detain and interrogate her son, and also engaged in implicit and explicit threats if she pursued recovering her vehicle. According to Cox, law enforcement also strongly suggested  to Cox that she urge her son to confess.


Instead, Cox went and got some lawyers and decided to make a fight of it. Citing First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments grounds, private counsel and ACLU lawyers are demanding the return of her property, arguing that the Arizona civil forfeiture statute is unconstitutional.
Reading through the suit, the logic of each component of the complaint is as follows:

According to the ACLU, the law violates the due process guarantees under the 5th and 14th Amendments (the 14th Amendment incorporates those limitations on Congress’s ability to infringe on rights and liberties and applies them also to state legislatures).  Specifically, the system Cox confronted required her to prove that she had done nothing wrong, while also creating a financial incentive for law enforcement to seize and forfeit her property (at present, the agencies being sued in Arizona are holding about $70 million in forfeited assets in their accounts). Put another way, the agency benefited by intimidating her and utilizing a system of taking her property without proper due process.

The ACLU described this in a very ACLU fashion thus:
Rhonda was caught in a Kafkaesque predicament where, bizarrely, she bore the burden of proving that she was entitled to get the Truck back. The State did not have to prove that Rhonda did anything wrong—let alone criminal—in order to keep the Truck.
 For all of you who didn’t take a course on the novels of the German writer Franz Kafka, a Kafkaesque story is known for having a ‘nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality.’ But the constitutional offense goes further, according to the ACLU, because Cox is threatened with bearing all the court costs of her litigation to recover her property if she loses.

Cox’s First Amendment rights are violated because she is required to pay a $304 fee just to engage in contesting the right to recover her property.  

And, the Fourth Amendment rights of Cox are allegedly violated because the seizure of her property without due process and without an untainted process to engage in recovery constitutes an unreasonable seizure which violates her property rights.

It’s a tall lawsuit. And it is likely coming to a court in Oklahoma in the near future. The reason? Local law enforcement is inadequately funded, and relies on forfeited assets to engage in a rather expensive battle against illegal drug trafficking – where more seized assets are found. But the innocent get caught up in this process too – and the rights to due process are denied to them.

But, also, in both Arizona and Oklahoma, there is growing and emerging evidence of the abuse of forfeited assets. Some law enforcement agencies and district attorneys offices are not using these forfeited assets to fight crime. In some instances, these assets are being converted to personal use by law enforcement.   It’s wrong. It undermines the integrity of the law enforcement community and  confidence in prosecutors, neither of which  receive sufficient budgetary support from lawmakers to do the job.

Reform civil asset forfeiture by introducing due process. Reform it by clarifying policies to govern the taking of personal property. And give law enforcement the monies needed to do their work without the taint of unconstitutional action and the temptation to steal from the till.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fight Club Populists

An old friend of mine, Geoff Weiss, observed recently in a social media thread about the peculiar support for Donald Trump, "I don't know whether I'm more puzzled by the rise of the pink-faced, angry white men who have nothing, really, to be angry about or the support for them among people I know who seem more or less rational." 

We've been here before -- Donald Trump (bless his heart) makes an obnoxious presentation of the basic rhetoric of the Tea Party mantra. The Tea Party mantra is a rehash of the fiscal rhetoric of Ross Perot, blended with some John Bircherism and a touch of George Wallace states' rights populism. Wallace was old school southern demagoguery, drawn from the long line of Gene Talmadge and Theodore Bilbo and Tom Watson, but also with a bit of education langiappe for the working class that would have made Huey Long smirk a bit. 

All these movements have common characteristics: they draw support from the middlemen and tradesmen of American life, the small shopkeepers and tradesmen and farmers. These were people of some property and some talent, who operated in some enterprise or on the basis of some skill to provide for themselves and their families. They were 'anti' big corporations, 'anti' big banks, 'anti' big education, and 'anti' big government-- all of which are predatory entities.

These movements usually require a tribal identity and a concept of 'normal' in order to exclude the takers. The takers are alien. They have the wrong religion or the wrong national identity or the wrong race or the wrong gender. These folks are usually characterized as non-conforming takers who are a threat to the normal order. The core argument is that they need to change, or go back to from whence they came.  Absent the demands of  'those people', all would be okay. 

And for fifty years, American public policy took direct aim at policies and practices that were aimed at discriminating against 'those people.' The consequence? More integration, declining racial and gender disparities in earnings and standards of living, and, along the way, a growing economy. 

But there is the downside for our discourse, which is the creation of the concept of 'white male privilege.' This concept holds that it is easier for white men to access the benefits of the social and economic order which is inherently patriarchal and oriented to Protestant Caucasians in particular. The argument for this policy is that it is a 'righting of the ship' to compensate for past prejudices. Many of the pink-faced, angry white men view it as reverse discrimination, a handicapping of them as makers through taxes and reverse-discriminatory policies  -- the 'John Galt' argument. 

And, for most of the life of these angry men, there has been a concentration of wealth just beyond their grasp. The tax burden has shifted more heavily onto their class of earners. FICA withholding has gone up, and for those middlemen who are sole proprietors, they are paying the employer's share and the employee's.  Consumption taxes are up. For the skilled worker, wages are down and benefits are slipping away. The unions are dead. And, in the corporate sector, there is more competition for advancement because the talent pool is broadened.

For the middleman, this is a doubly damning situation. They've been told they are privileged; informed they should give more and take less; and asked to accept what they view as an asymmetric legal order designed to address a past they did not participate in and for which they do not see themselves as responsible.

And it has precedent, for which I will go back to my friend Geoff, who is a fine film scholar. He directed my attention to Siegfried
Kracauer's 1947 analysis of interwar Germany, From Caligari to Hitler, wherein Kracauer sought to explain why many middle class Germans turned to authoritarian populism in the form of the Nazis.  Kracauer had pointed out before the war the 'white collar pretensions' of many corporate employees, and how amidst the slipping away of 'bourgeois security' with the onset of depression, they turned to the Nazis rather than finding common cause with the more impoverished working class. 

The German equivalent of the pink-faced angry men, the middlemen makers of Germany's economy and society, too were attracted to the Nazis.  According Kracauer the 'small shopkeepers, tradesmen and artisans were so full of resentments that they shrank from adjusting themselves [to the collapsing middle class world]. Instead of realizing it might be in their practical interest to side with democracy, they preferred, like the employees, to listen to Nazi promises.'  The appeals that the Nazis made were emotional rather than logical. They focused on 'others' who were somehow 'alien.' And they structures an alternative version of 'facts' that was more attractive than reality. 

Do not think that I am calling Trump or the populist movement on the right 'Nazis.' That is not what I am saying. But the nature of the appeal, the vehicle, the use of alien demons -- it is familiar. But it is important to remember that there have been other shopkeeper rebellions. The French Revolution was one. The American revolution was a middle man's tax rebellion. These rebellions manifest out of economic and tax pressures that laid bare the perception of the middlemen that their hopes for prosperity were constrained.

What feeds the circumstances of the United States is less about the great taxing state, than the great isolation of bastions of collective wealth -- the great corporations -- from the rest of us. For nearly two generations, employees in these firms have been downsized or outsourced, subjected to increasingly dehumanizing performance reviews, and generally directed to take satisfaction in distraction. The middlemen were told they could work hard in a competitive marketplace and build something tangible, of worth -- their own firm. But the deck is stacked against the entry of the middleman to the echelons of wealth. For two generations these men -- and I am concerned mainly with men in this essay -- were encouraged to do what men always did. 

Transgressional fictionalist Chuck Palahniuk pretty much summed up the problem in his 1996 novel Fight Club.  In the book (and the movie) an unnamed dissatisfied middleman 'meets' extremist Tyler Durden, who engages in an anti-consumerist, anti-corporate terror campaign vested in the discovery of the essence of being a man, through bare-knuckled fighting. The disaffection of Gen-X comes from consumer upbringing: 'We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.' 

Now, two decades later, Gen X stares middle age in eye, and there's Tyler Durden manifesting the everyman who exists in the same universe as John Galt's great makers. Fight Club got it right for many of these men -- they discovered they won't be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. The Reaganite dream is slipping through their fingers like so much sand. They won't be John Galt, and they are not 'takers.' But they don't want to be the worker drones of Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' either. They know they have agency. They know they have sovereignty.

And they're pissed off. Because their agency and sovereignty seem empty in the face of a grinding corporate machine.