The 6 Reasons Valentine's Day is Always Awful
This is the year. This is the Valentine's Day you nail Cupid's wings to the wall. You've reserved a table at the perfect restaurant (Il Giardino di Oliva), composed the sexiest bedroom playlist ("Vampire Sex Jamm vol. IX"), and crafted a roleplay outfit based on your partner's favorite anime (Admirable Dragon Slut Momoko).
You have this V-Day V-down, and nothing can stop you from properly romancing your woman, man, polyamorous commune, or other. I just hope you can sleep tonight, knowing that all of your innocent romantic plans just contributed to destroying the world. No, seriously ...
Flowers Are Destroying Nations
Come on, how did planting flowers ever hurt the enviro-
Kenya is a great place to grow flowers, but a lousy place to find a drink of water. Thanks to the former, the latter's become an outright emergency, with rivers and lakes drying up due to overuse.
Visit Kenya! Main exports include flowers and corporate malfeasance.
The flowers are shipped to the Netherlands, sold in lots, and then resold to the U.K. as "Dutch" flowers. I leave it to wizards to explain how greenhouse flowers cost more than several ship cargoes through a middleman, because economists can't.
The U.S. is not complicit in such a tragedy, because we grow our own flowers in -- oh, shit! California! Droughtland, USA! Better import 90 percent of our flowers from Colombia and Ecuador, instead.
Don't worry; Colombia's not at risk of drought, just exposing their underpaid employees to carcinogens, illegally firing them if they get pregnant, and smashing their attempts to unionize.
Breathe deep the heady perfume of lavender mixed with wage-slavery by another name.
The Good News:
Working conditions are maybe getting a little better? Except probably not.
"Thank you for these flowers that have surely contributed to my country's woes."
But that's irrelevant, because the real good news is the farm of the future: A Japanese plant physiologist devised a way to coax huge yields out of plant crops without pesticides. In addition to slashing waste, Shigeharu Shimamura reduced water consumption to 1 percent of what's required by traditional farming. Right, but when I try taking the human body to these extremes, I get labeled a "monster" by the press.
Once these techniques are applied to flowers, you've got 100 times the productivity minus any of the pollution or exploitation. Now maybe the ever-deepening pit in my soul can finally be filled with sweet, sweet opium.
Chocolate Supplies Are Running Low
Grab your cocoa nibs and AK-47s and head for the hills, because we're in a full-fledged chocolate shortage! Humanity has been on a centuries-long chocolate bender with no sign of stopping until Bobby calls us back and tells us what a mistake he made in tossing away our love.
The problems are numerous: From a farming standpoint, cocoa can't compete with rubber on the profit vs. effort scale. But rubber can't compete with cocoa on the Cadbury-Mars Chocolicious Index, so short of substituting chocolate for rubber, we're kind of screwed. There's a huge increase in demand for chocolate in new markets like China and India, which are countries referred to in the scientific community as having "a shitload of people." Trees are suffering fungal disease, and even Ebola threatened cocoa futures for a minute there.
Now you can honestly say Ebola ruined your life.
Even traditional markets demand more suckle from the cocoa teat. The United Kingdom eats so much chocolate per capita you'd think one golden ticket hadn't been found yet. By 2020 the shortage is expected to really hit its sugar-buzzed stride, and Wonka will start hiding chocolate tickets in gold bars.
Of course, the readings on U.K. consumption are skewed because their candy still has chocolate in it. The average American candy bar is slab of emulsified palm oil that gets custody of cocoa powder only on weekends.
Plus, have you noticed that everything is chocolate now? There are chocolate Skittles. SKITTLES. A candy whose only defining characteristics were "fruit flavor" and "jaw fatigue." That's just wrong. There was already a chocolate Skittles, and it's called M&M's, king of the shellacked candies.
There's no hope! Indonesia tried to jumpstart its chocolate production with a $350 million army of cloned cocoa trees. They died, just like the clones in Star Wars, another product for children that adults can't relinquish.
So no fears about the clone uprising just yet.
You'd think they would have tested a few trees out first.
The Good News:
It's probably for the best. Chocolate, like everything else, leaves a swath of destruction in its wake. If we can't control our chocolate intake, then the world is making that decision for us.
I didn't research the impacts of cocoa farming, because I think we can all agree up front that no secret is too dark to dull our craving. The entire cocoa industry could turn out to be a satanic, baby-trafficking blood cult, and our only concern would be if Gorzo the Seven-Headed Goat Lord prefers infants raw or cooked.
If we anger him, he bequeaths us only white chocolate.
So let's say that there are two good uses for $350 million worth of dead trees. That's a lot of good compost. But cooler than that, bio-energy is probably the disposal method of the future. Your computer is going to enjoy the sugar rush denied to you.
Lingerie Is Undermining Your Self-Esteem
Victoria's Secret walks a tightrope every day. On the one hand, they want customers to feel comfortable in their skin so that they'll buy sexy intimates. On the other hand, too much self-confidence and you might be immune to advertising telling you, "You're flawed, but perfection is within reach."
The lingerie-maker has a definite type, selling only up to size 16 and leaving everyone else's money on the table. And when they lined all their models up in a row, this was the accompanying sales slogan.
Juxtaposition is the enemy.
"The Perfect 'Body,'" referred to the "Body by Victoria" line. Its intended meaning was that there exists a Body garment for any look. (Unless that look is bigger than size 16, because ... come on, big people have a right to look good too now?) Since the models showcasing their catalog ranged from a size 4 to a size 4 with bigger boobs, and willful misinterpretation is the center square in Offended Internet Bingo, the company earned enough flak to change their slogan.
Though, if you ask me, this one's much worse.
The Good News:
People like Alli Reed exist:
She's generally always right.
I can't tell you society grew up and stopped tying women's worth to their appearance, but I can tell you that the only opinions about your beauty that matter are your own and those of whoever makes sex-hips at you. Everything else is irrelevant, even if it's complimentary. Yes, even if it's your parents -- I AM DOING LEG LIFTS EVERY DAY, MOM, ABS DON'T JUST HAPPEN.
If you're unable to overcome your shame of existing without looking like an underwear model, take heart. Women who fit Victoria's Secret's standards are actually having less sex than larger women. Dang, girl, maybe Victoria's Secret doesn't make lingerie in your size because it would give you an unfair advantage. Now "All About That Bass" just seems like a mean taunt.
It's almost like there are a lot more ways to be attractive than the one that helps advertisers sell stuff. But none of it matters, because nobody dares have sex, thanks to ...
The Clap Heard Round the World
What's the sound of one hand clapping? It's you, masturbating because you don't want to spread antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea to other people and cause an epidemic that's "worse than AIDS."
And not nearly as pretty under a microscope.
That's right, H041 is "superbug" gonorrhea. On a scale of "What's this red bump?" to "Geyser of pus exploding out of your eyes," H041 is a scientist staring at the screen and muttering, "Dear God ... it's evolving."
If STIs were action films, the chief of gonorrhea would be saying right now, "You're too close to this one, H041. Those humans left you alive -- but just barely. Psychiatric leave, and don't even think of taking the law into your own hands."
H041 immediately decided to go after the creeps that killed its family, and by the law of revenge thrillers, it is immune to all defense. It debuted in a Japanese sex worker but has yet to make landfall in the U.S.
We've got enough on our hands dealing with an outbreak of reality stars.
Hold up -- what are we even worried about? Besides the litany of other STIs you can get even when wearing a condom, that is.
The Good News:
This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly.
... from a naturopathic "doctor." Imagine how many virologists must have shown no concern before that reporter finally lucked into a naturopath. When your field of expertise is two-thirds ancient spells and one-eighth junk science, you never feel unqualified to spout off about epidemiology. As the article shows, naturopaths have no clue what they're talking about unless they can use the words "energy" or "toxins" in a vague way.
If homeopathy were real, every sip of water would taste like the turds it once swept out to sea.
When a better researched article rebuts it, the real doctor calls bullshit without making bombastic, declarative statements. No word yet on whether this fictional plague can be cured by homeopathy and acupuncture, since those treatments don't normally work outside of the magical dimensions.
There are still lots of really interesting STIs you can catch right here in the good ol' U.S. of Ahhhh! WHY IS IT COVERED IN WARTS?!? They're out there, waiting to make your Valentine hookup an exciting odyssey of waiting, wondering, and worrying! Hooray! Ha ha! Adventure! Fun! FUCK! This is terrifying.
You're better off locking your love life into a monogamous state this Valentine's Day, before the dating scene gets any more hazardous. Hope you inherited granny's ring, because ...
Demand for Diamonds Is Increasing
You already know that diamonds are bullshit. They singlehandedly turned Sierra Leone into a well of suffering and are only "rare" because of artificial supply restriction. They're a "tradition" stretching all the way back to the '30s. And barely any of them ever sit in ancient pyramids awaiting a stubbled rogue to brave the death traps that guard them. Diamonds aren't much fun at all.
But no matter how often it's iterated that diamonds are a godawful marketing scam, people just keep buying them. According to Petra Diamonds CEO Johan Dippenaar, diamond prices "continue to break records," and synthetic production has yet to prove a threat.
That will change the day a mad scientist uses one as the centerpiece of his laser satellite.
Maybe we're clinging harder to diamonds than ever because they're so terrible. After all, any sap can buy a gorgeous diamond that's been created in a lab without hurting anyone, but this diamond ... this lesser diamond right here, baby, traveled through a whole lot of human misery, and you can't put a price on that unless it's $2,000.
The Good News:
You can skip the human rights violations and buy a synthetic diamond if you really want to propose with one. They're actually better quality, albeit currently constrained by a size limit.
You know how diamond jewelers figure out a diamond is synthetic, and therefore worth less money? Fewer flaws. Think of a single useful commodity where better versions made at lower cost without locational restriction don't surge to the front of the market. You can't, because the diamond industry is bullshit. Only bullshit reacts to improvements by doubling down on the bullshit.
See Also: The U.S. housing market
And the more everyone calls bullshit, the faster we as a species pull the stick up to see how high the diamond jet can climb before its profit-engine stalls. Diamonds are the Fifty Shades of Grey of gemology.
The Shigeharu Shimamura of diamonds should be a multi-billionaire now, but you can't eat diamonds, so lettuce is demonstrably more valuable.
There's no case for human rights that can counter "But I want it." Still, a lot of otherwise-wonderful people want a diamond as a sign of your love, and to them manmade diamonds are a cheap-out. Those are the people who make the final entry possible ...
Valentine's Is a Boon to Divorce Lawyers
Divorce spikes every new year, and comes to its crescendo around mid-February, as the few folks hanging on say to themselves, "You know what, Myron? You're worth more than a pork chop dinner and an uninterested handjob."
Plus, tax statements are rolling in right about now, so a lot of couples can torch the last 10 years of their lives with a better understanding of their financial position.
You have to ask yourself, "Is this person worth buying a $200 dinner and/or crawling into a latex unitard for?" Because if you're leaving them either way, pull that ripcord before you make the doomed effort. Shoot, you could find a way to divorce for less than $200 if you're sitting on the right bus stop benches.
The Good News:
The important thing to remember is divorce is not your fault. Unless you're, like ... an unrepentant addict, or an abuser, or a circus clown, or you're the perfect spouse but you say weird stuff in your sleep -- actually, I just talked myself into thinking that all divorce is your fault. Way to ruin the sanctity of marriage, asshole.
You could have been happy if you'd just been willing to make little changes!
Regardless, divorce is a sad affair even when it's amicable, because it means a lawyer's making money. But on the barely existent upside, this is your reboot button. It's a chance for personal reevaluation, whether you want it or not. Sometimes, those forced situations are the only things that kick our asses hard enough to prompt personal evolution. You won't recognize it as an upside right now, but Future You will definitely appreciate the situation in hindsight.
That doesn't mean "Go out and get divorced! It's awesome!" But if you find yourself alone on the 14th, robbed of a world you spent your life building, just remember this: Though you might be broken, bent, or bowed ... everyone's having a miserable Valentine's Day this year. Go out there and wow someone new. Or at least be mildly interesting to them before you agree to suffer the same mistakes all over again.
Brendan wants to know what love is, and wants you to show him in 5 Sketchy Facts You Didn't Know About Valentine's Day.