Open Thread

Here is the basic idea of an open thread. This is where a comment, idea, link, or whatever can be posted when it doesn’t necessarily fit the subject matter of any available post. This also can be where people can lodge their complaints or make suggestions, including possibilities for future posts.

Plus, this would be a good place for rants, as I’ll be less discerning in my moderation of comments here. I encourage open discussion. But there are limits. If your comment creates a negative atmosphere or simply lessens my happiness, then it will not be approved. I will use my discretion. Make sure your comment is worthy of your time and my own.


7,443 thoughts on “Open Thread


    Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.

    In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.

    In fact, since academic excellence wasn’t a particular priority on the Finnish to-do list, when Finland’s students scored so high on the first PISA survey in 2001, many Finns thought the results must be a mistake. But subsequent PISA tests confirmed that Finland — unlike, say, very similar countries such as Norway — was producing academic excellence through its particular policy focus on equity.

    That this point is almost always ignored or brushed aside in the U.S. seems especially poignant at the moment, after the financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street movement have brought the problems of inequality in America into such sharp focus. The chasm between those who can afford $35,000 in tuition per child per year — or even just the price of a house in a good public school district — and the other “99 percent” is painfully plain to see. […]

    With America’s manufacturing industries now in decline, the goal of educational policy in the U.S. — as articulated by most everyone from President Obama on down — is to preserve American competitiveness by doing the same thing. Finland’s experience suggests that to win at that game, a country has to prepare not just some of its population well, but all of its population well, for the new economy. To possess some of the best schools in the world might still not be good enough if there are children being left behind.

    Is that an impossible goal? Sahlberg says that while his book isn’t meant to be a how-to manual, it is meant to be a “pamphlet of hope.”

    “When President Kennedy was making his appeal for advancing American science and technology by putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s, many said it couldn’t be done,” Sahlberg said during his visit to New York. “But he had a dream. Just like Martin Luther King a few years later had a dream. Those dreams came true. Finland’s dream was that we want to have a good public education for every child regardless of where they go to school or what kind of families they come from, and many even in Finland said it couldn’t be done.”

    Clearly, many were wrong. It is possible to create equality. And perhaps even more important — as a challenge to the American way of thinking about education reform — Finland’s experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity.

    The problem facing education in America isn’t the ethnic diversity of the population but the economic inequality of society, and this is precisely the problem that Finnish education reform addressed. More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad.

  2. The 80’s born millennials (the ones who were in high school pre-recession) was the ones brought up with the “you can be anything you want.” The type that had unrealistic job ideas and thought they were gonna all be famous once an adult. For 90’s millennials like me I think this was somewhat tempered by the recession, but the “you are supposed to be a star” still lingered for a little.

    The millennial thing may be somewhat class based though. I think it was more limited to just middle and affluent millennials. Those are the ones who had the teachers who said kids were destined for greatness and colleges that demanded “passion” and frankly, a resume that would be a tall order for a 50 year old, and to have all that accomplishment while coming off as entirely intrinsically motivated.

    • During the 1990s, GenX was experiencing a mini-recession that was limited to that generation alone, a precursor to the 2008 recession. It hit GenX minorities the hardest. But all GenXers dealt with high rates of unemployment during a time when the economy was booming for older generations. GenXers as children had poverty rates similar to seen among the general population during the Great Depression. This went along with high childhood rates of suicide and such. These were the supposed happy years of the Reagan Revolution and Clinton New Democrats.

  3. tarting with data on the exact residential location of the US population in 2010 we can measure the racial composition of the five (or 50 or 500) closest neighbors to any household in the country. We are further able to distinguish many households by race/ethnicity and income. This framework provides a new way of seeing the American social landscape. Rather than averaging individual experience across fixed geographic areas, we examine the average experience of individuals of the same class and ethnoracial group. We find intense congregation of ethnoracial groups at very small scales for all income categories with this effect attenuating quickly with population. This suggests that, even for small publicly available geographies, measures of ethnoracial composition will under predict the homogeneity in an individual’s local context. Moreover, congregation by ethnoracial group at small scales needs further consideration as a mechanism shaping residential attainment.

  4. I knew reactionaries were full of shit but didn’t realize they were pieces of shit too XD


    The five-year-long study published this week in Science, directed by Harvard professor Gary King and supported in part by Voqal, shows that even small independent news outlets can have a dramatic effect on the content of national conversation. King, along with his now former graduate students Ben Schneer and Ariel White, found that if just three outlets write about a particular major national policy topic – such as jobs, the environment, or immigration – discussion of that topic across social media rose by as much as 62.7 percent of a day’s volume, distributed over the week.

    • It would appear that most young minorities disagreed with the conclusion of this article. That is demonstrated by the fact that Bernie Sanders won the support of the majority of young minorities. So, maybe ask those young minorities, if you asked them, could explain why they believed Sanders represented them.

      The interesting divide there is generational. It is also economic, as Clinton won the wealthier and Sanders won the working class, not just among whites. The other divide is that Clinton won older women and Sanders won younger women, and I suspect this divide was seen among minority women as well or at least I’ve seen no evidence indicating otherwise.

      Why does the disinfo keep getting spread that minorities were against Sanders? That is rhetoric coming straight out of the Clinton campaign which pushed the empty rhetoric about “Bernie Brothers” just as earlier they pushed the empty rhetoric about “Obama Boys”. I wish they could at least be more creative about their lies.

    • BazBake
      11/06/17 11:52pm

      Democrats: “This Bernie Sanders guy is awesome.”

      Progressives: “This Bernie Sanders guy is amazing.”

      Black folks: “This Bernie Sanders guy is great.”

      Women of color: “This Bernie Sanders guy knows what he’s talking about.”

      Latinos: “This Bernie Sanders guy is pretty good.”

      Asians: “This Bernie Sanders guy seems solid.”

      The Root: “Fuck this dude.”

      Also, here’s the actual video everyone keeps linking Daily Beast quotes about. He’s not comparing economics to bigotry, he’s comparing economics to Russian crap.

    • dudebra
      Terrell Jermaine Starr
      11/06/17 10:39am
      The fact that nice, church going older black ladies lock stepped for “super predator” labeling Hillary is almost as weird to me as union members who vote for republicans. Hillary would have been much better than Trump but that is the lowest bar in American political history.

      Hillary 2016 may have limited her racist dog whistles but she has never been progressive. There is no corporation, including all-time serial worker abusers Tyson and WalMart, that she wouldn’t sell out consumers or employees for.

      Blacks, Hispanics, women and LGBTQ people, along with other oppressed groups, have to work for a living. Single payer health care and enforced, fair labor regulations would help 99% of all American citizens. That is the foundation of Progressive political thought and any hope of a just society is not possible without it. Bernie is not perfect but he is a thousandfold more Progressive than Hillary or the majority of the Democratic leadership.

    • RebZelmele
      11/06/17 11:49am
      From the sound of things, conservative old people who would normally move to the Republican party stick with the dems when they’re black despite still having a lot of Republican views on homosexuality, religion, and economics, and that gave Clinton an advantage with the black vote.

      11/06/17 11:59am
      Actually all of the church going black ladies I know voted for Sanders because they knew about Sanders. That’s the power of the media blackout. Church going black ladies who didn’t know they had options because they get their information from TV

      11/06/17 12:05pm
      This is not true. He energized POC when they knew about him. This is what happens when one candidate controls the party. This is so obvious. All of the manipulation of the debate schedule was so POC would not get this information. All of the media black outs. Showing Trump being offensive instead of streaming Sanders speeches was all so that POC would not get the information they needed to make an informed decision so the defaulted for the familiar instead of voting Trump (because duh) and she still lost. I am a black woman not a bro. But I don’t watch TV and Bernie Sanders is a progressive. Who paid for this nonsense.

    • That is utterly fascinating. And a brilliant business model. I bet that would be the perfect work for a high intelligence and high functioning psychopath/sociopath.

      Philip K. Dick, in his obsession with identity, would have had a field day with that. It would be great material for fiction, especially speculative fiction. As an idea for a story, that could go in so many directions.

    • “The top three House Democratic leaders are 76 (Pelosi), 77 (Steny Hoyer) and 76 (Jim Clyburn). The average age of the Democratic House leadership is 76. That’s even older than the 70-year old average of Soviet Politburo members in the age of Brezhnev, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
      ~Miles Mogulescu, Democratic Leadership Looks Like Old Soviet Politburo

      “A party that is that detached from the wishes and demands of the electorate, and of its own discouraged and angry base, is not a party that’s going to be around much longer.
      “At least one can hope.”
      ~Dave Lindorff, Democratic Leaders are a Craven Bunch of Idiots Bent on Self-Destruction

  6. One of the earliest challengers to corporate power was a king:

    November 19, 1600 — Birth of King Charles
    “In 1629, King Charles I granted a charter to the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1664, the King sent inspectors to see whether this company had been complying with the terms of the charter. The company heads objected, declaring that such an inspection threatened their rights. On behalf of the King, the inspectors responded:

    “The King did not grant away his sovereignty over you when he made you a corporation. When His Majesty gave you power to make wholesome laws, and to administer justice by them, he parted not with his right of judging whether justice was administered accordingly or not. When His Majesty gave you authority over such subjects as live within your jurisdiction, he made them not YOUR subjects, nor YOU their supreme authority.”

    • That is too dismissive of nostalgia or what nostalgia might point toward. There is much our society has lost that we should regret and be concerned about. If we don’t acknowledge that we’ve lost anything of value, then we can’t seek to regain it. Not everything from the past is of value, but some of it is. Trying to discern that value isn’t necessarily nostalgia in this dismissive sense.

  7. Americans can also be too individualistic in dealing with mental health issues in my opinion. They tend to miss the bigger picture and see every mental health case as merely “this person be crazy” and never get to the point of “maybe there’s something less-than-optimal about the circumstances”

    Trauma can be collective as well, and transmitted through generations. People with marginalized identities Exeorience collective trauma especially. This is missed in overly individualistic status quo.

    • That is what I’m always going on about. I was just writing a post with this in mind. Some refer to it as historical or intergenerational trauma. Also, there is slow violence. It’s because of this view that I have a lot more sympathy for those with problems, including reactionaries. We lived in a messed up society built on entrenched patterns and legacies of violence and oppression. If you grow up feeling normal in this society, then there is probably something severely wrong with you.

  8. Steven Pinker’s analysis of and argument is worth taking seriously. There is an element of truth to what he says. And I do find compelling what he calls the Moral Flynn Effect. But I’ve long suspected violent death rates are highly skewed. Depending on what is being measured and how, it can be argued that there has been a decrease in the rate of homicides and war fatalities. But there are others that argue these numbers are inaccurate or deceiving.

    Even accepting the data that Pinker uses, it must be noted that he isn’t including all violent deaths. Consider economic sanctions and neoliberal exploitation, vast poverty and inequality forcing people to work long hours in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, covert operations to overthrow governments and destabilize regions, anthropogenic climate change with its disasters, environmental destruction and ecosystem collapse, loss of arable land and food sources, pollution and toxic dumps, etc. All of this would involve food scarcity, malnutrition, starvation, droughts, rampant disease, refugee crises, diseases related to toxicity and stress, etc; along with all kinds of other consequences to people living in desperation and squalor.

    This has all been intentionally caused through governments, corporations, and other organizations seeking power and profit while externalizing costs and harm. In my lifetime, the fatalities to this large scale often slow violence and intergenerational trauma could add up to hundreds of millions or maybe billiions of lives cut short. Yet none of these deaths would be counted as violent, no matter how horrific it was for the victims. And those like Pinker adding up the numbers would never have to personally acknowledge this overwhelming reality of suffering. It can’t be seen in the official data on violence, as the causes are disconnected from the effects. But why should only a small part of the harm and suffering get counted as violence?

    • One thing seems missing. We don’t have a functioning democracy in the US. Even in many other Western countries, democracy is extremely minimal. It’s problematic when this state of affairs gets called democracy. The bureaucracy, corportatism, plutoccracy, elitism, etc that often gets called democracy is quite the opposite. The the public takes these claims seriously. They think they don’t like democracy.

      But democracy has been under constant attack and hasn’t been established as a dominant paradigm, not even in the West. People have no idea if they’d like democracy because so few have ever experienced it. What is creating reactionaries and terrorists isn’t democracy’s presence but its lack. Even articles like this seem incapable of taking democracy seriously on its own terms. Maybe democracy will be a failure. I’m just suggesting we should try it first, as Gandhi once suggested about Western Civilization being a good idea.

    • Going back several decades, the federal government has been concerned about homegrown right-wing terrorism. The FBI has put out reports emphasizing this concern. There simply hasn’t been a highly militant and violent equivalent on the political left since the early 1900s when labor organizers and anarchists were a seriously threat, such as the assassination of President McKinley. The Cold War broke the American political left as it empowered the American political right.

      Besides, the American political left has been reluctant toward violence toward life, including toward their perceived enemies. One of the most violent left-wing groups was the Weather Underground. Yet they went to immense effort to avoid hurting people, which seems bizarre in comparing them to right-wing militants who purposely target humans with the intention of causing harm and death. The only American left-wing groups listed as terrorists right are oddly those like Earth First that have never killed or attempted to kill anyone.

  9. Mainstream thinking, at the highest level, has become abusive and demented. Not the thinking which shows up, but the thinking which is acted upon.

    “Alt-Right” is a buzzword. It’s not clear what that means. If one thinks Hillary Clinton is a crook and a danger to democracy, is one “Alt-Right”? Infuriatingly, it was too long the case, yes. Clinton would get $200,000 each time she opened her mouth to corrupt financiers, and Obama asks for $400,000 (even when talking to the official US historian). Now it turns out that Donna Brazile, head of the DNC, Democratic National Committee reveals in her memoirs even worse about how Clinton stole democracy from Sanders.

    Does that make Donna Brazile is “Alt-Right”, because she dares to declare that she thought of replacing Clinton by Biden before the presidential election? Hundreds of thousands of Sanders supporters, and disappointed ex-Obama faithful, were labelled “Atl Right”, just for supporting common sense…. And democracy

    Fascists and communists back in the 1920s and ’30s had full support from many plutocrats, especially in the Anglosphere. Roosevelt sided with Nazism against France, as early as 1934. Nazi Germany became a new far-West for US plutocrats, enabling them to evade Teddy Roosevelt’s anti-monopoly laws. The British signed an alliance with Hitler in 1935 (which grossly violated the Versailles treaty). It’s a testimony to crushing propaganda that these inconvenient facts sound like unbelievable fiction to the mystified masses, and those who pretend to lead them intellectually.

    ‘Cosmopolitan’ and ‘globalist’ values, now as in the 1930s, are a front for global plutocracy. The king of England in 1936 can be depicted as a Nazi. But who knows this? It was buried by crafty disinformation. The US recognized Vichy, an unconstitutional junta, before the Nazis did, and dutifully president F.D. Roosevelt sent his right hand man, four star admiral Leahy as ambassador.

    Elizabeth II makes money (she has never enough) by secretly lending at 99.9% to the poorest people in the UK (see the “Paradise Papers”). Who cares? Accuse the little guys of thinking wrong, and being angry, instead! Let’s side with the powers that be! As Obama did, turning everything into gold for himself (Obama is a personal friend, I care for his soul…).

    It’s not “absolutely important to live in so-called “democratic countries”, simply because they are not democratic at all. They are just pretending to be, and north Korea also use the label “Democratic” in its depiction. Barack Obama and all top US politicians are for sale (with the possible exception of Trump himself, because he is already so wealthy!)

    Marine Le Pen’s hard-Right National Front and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-Left UNSUBMITTED France (France insoumise; “unbowed” is less faithful a translation) got half the vote. Both promise more referenda, and proportional parliamentary systems, so can be viewed as promising more democracy.

    Those fighting for Jihad are the victim of a double interference. First, the enormous propaganda for Salafist Islam (I was educated in Islam, but it was not Salafist Islam; now, if one disagrees with the infamy of Salafist Islam, a number of paid violators, such as Tariq Ramadan, come to tell us we are racist… just because we are human!)

    Salafist islam is profitable to oil men, Aramco, Wall Street, Saudi princes, and all those associated to them (Bush family), and “Muslim” dictatorships, all over, etc

    The second factor is the increasing destitution and de-democratization.

    Part of the pronblem with the “unmooring” of tradition is the failure of correct education, itself coming from a failure of proper research.

    Take the case of France. Please consider Saint Louis (abject anti-Jew and obscene anti “non-believer), Louis XIV (abominable fanatic, throws 2 million Protestants out of France after torturing them with “dragons”, killing thousands, causing a world war, the war of the Spanish Succession), Napoleon (Hitler without the racism against the Jews, something he compensated for by enslaving colored individuals in the West indies). Those preliminaries to Hitler are still revered in the French history textbooks. In truth, Napoleon should carted off the Invalides (built by Louis XIV) and thrown into the Seine, after being condemned to “damnatio memoriam” (as the Romans had it.

    So it is the mainstream thinking, at the highest level which has become abusive. The reason? Intellectuals are not free anymore, they are on stipends, anxious about their pathetic little careers.

  10. and Alt-Left of their day, but each was a major source of converts for the other. Extremists can easily change causes, but seldom become moderates. The opposite of an extremist is a moderate, one who can make pragmatic tradeoffs and settle for “imperfect” solutions. Extremists consider today to be trash and long for a “perfect” future as described in some imagined past by some superhuman guru or God. Moderates accept the here and now, warts and all, and work together to make improvements.

    I’ll suggest that a driving force of today’s extremists is the over-centralization of wealth and power. There are too few decision makers imposing too few generalized solutions upon
    a diverse world. Rational thinking and tribal congruities of the rich and powerful further over-simplify their decisions. Their solutions ignore local cultures and conditions as well as local ecosystems to dehumanize the majority of the human race. It matters little how intelligent the decision makers are or whether they are selfish or generous.

    Evolutionary processes and products first appear in a local environment and are must survive before spreading to a regional one. Scientific solutions are thoroughly tested in local environments. Centralized solutions are imposed globally without first testing them locally.

    Diverse and localized processes, outcomes, and decisions have enabled life in the biosphere to thrive in the face of long term changes and random catastrophes for four billion years. Rational Liberalism has over-simplified civilization and the biosphere because a handful of minds are incapable of sustaining healthy diversity. They fool themselves by judging results merely on improved efficiencies and profitable outcomes as measured by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. That is an extremist philosophy.
    Read less


    In this episode of These Vibes, Professor Sam Wang visited the studio. He’s founder of the Princeton Election Consortium blog, co-host of WooCast’s Politics & Polls, and professor of molecular biology and neuroscience. We discuss his expertise in gerrymandering — what it is, how it came to be such an issue, the current state in elections and the Supreme Court, and what is and can be done to remedy our system.


    Marxism, ‘Red’ Globalisation
    Thinking Allowed

    Marxism – Laurie Taylor talks to David Harvey, Professor of Anthropology at CUNY and world authority on Marx’s thought. His latest book explores the architecture of capital & insists that Marx’s original analysis of our economic system still resonates today. They’re joined by Jonathan Sperber, Professor of History at the University of Missouri. He insists that Marx was a 19th century figures who ideas have run their course. Also, ‘red’ globalisation. James Mark, Professor of History at the University of Exeter, tells a little known story about the way in which anti capitalist ideas once circulated the globe.


    Unions must address the changes in the global economy, the reorganization of work, the increasing influence of financial markets, and the evolving relationship between the public and private sectors that have set the stage for this perilous moment. Subcontracting, franchising, the extension of global supply chains, and the increasing influence of financial markets on the behavior of employers have made it harder for private sector workers to identify, let alone bargain directly with those who have the power to determine their wages and working conditions. Public-sector workers have not been immune to these trends. Today’s public sector works differently from how it worked when government workers began to gain bargaining rights in the 1960s. Now financial markets control access to public credit even as corporations play jurisdictions off against each other to win an ever-expanding array of tax exemptions, promote the privatization of public services (including schools and prisons), and press for austerity agendas that starve the public sector and lead in turn to more privatization. All too often public-sector workers are left to bargain with financially challenged employers who are hostage to these dynamics and who thus have little power to meet even their most modest demands.

    Amid this crisis, unions cannot resuscitate twentieth-century styles of collective bargaining and they cannot rely on the law to save them. Like the mythic god Janus, they must grasp the transitional nature of this moment, looking back to identify the forces that led us to this juncture and looking ahead to deploy collective action in ways that tame those forces.

    Fortunately, some public-sector unions have begun to do this by embracing an approach they call Bargaining for the Common Good. They seek to redefine collective bargaining for the twenty-first century by expanding both the bargaining table and the range of demands addressed at that table. Saint Paul teachers have demanded that their school district cease doing business with banks that foreclose on families with school age children; Oregon state university employees have demanded that all contractors hired by the university pay a living wage of at least $15 per hour; Chicago teachers have demanded that their school district cooperate with the union in seeking school funding through a tax on financial transactions, a progressive state income tax, or the return of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars to the district; and, after learning that their city paid more in fees to Wall Street firms than it spent on maintaining city streets, Los Angeles municipal workers demanded that their city bargain with Wall Street for a better deal. These unions have formed alliances with community organizations, devised bargaining demands that address their allies’ concerns, insisted that these allies be present at the table, and used the bargaining process to identify and pressure the private sector forces that are driving privatization, tax avoidance, and austerity agendas.

    Like the industrial unions of the 1930s, the unions pursuing Bargaining for the Common Good strategies have portrayed their efforts as fights to democratize institutions dominated by an anti-democratic financial elite. They have also embraced militancy when it helped them advance their cause. In doing so, they have broken out of dynamics that pit public sector unions against taxpayers, and transformed their unions into vehicles better able to advance the common good, linking up where possible with private sector workers’ struggles such as the Fight for $15.

    Despite its promise, however, Bargaining for the Common Good has spread slowly, in part because public sector bargaining has traditionally been a locally controlled arena of union activity, largely impervious to top-down directives. To date, the extent to which unions have embraced the common good approach has depended on local variables. Yet an adverse decision in the Janus case might well change that. If the Supreme Court strikes a blow at union security, local unions in every jurisdiction will gain nothing by holding on to the dated approaches of the past. A brave new world will have arrived to which unions will have to quickly adapt lest they suffer complete marginalization. All of us who fear for the future of democracy in this age of deepening inequality have an interest in seeing unions avoid that fate.


    Ironically for American readers, there are areas where Canada’s health-care system underperforms on equity, as well. Yet this is not because of inequitable access to hospital and physician care, as is so common in the United States, but rather largely due to the gaps in our universal system for prescription drugs and dental care. Though for every dollar spent on health care Canada spends much more publicly than the United States (73 percent vs 51 percent), we’re far behind many of our international peers. For example, for every dollar spent on health care in the UK, 80 percent comes from the public purse. In Sweden, its 83 percent, and in Germany 85 percent. These European systems also provide public funding for a broader range of services than does Canada. For example, Canada is the only high-income country with a universal health-care system that does not include a universal drug plan. It’s an area many, including Canadian Doctors for Medicare, are working hard to change.

    It’s an important reminder that our common problem isn’t primarily too much public funding. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Though the degrees and form of Canada’s challenges are markedly different from the United States, the Medicare For All agenda offers inspiration for Americans and Canadian alike.

    • Racism is the bedrock of American society, politics, and economics. It is structurally built into every aspect of life, systemically and institutionally.

      After whites become yet another minority in the US, it could take generations or even centuries for white power and privilege to more fully weaken. It will be a slow process, unless there is a revolution or collapse that destroys the entire order.

      Consider the fact that, among minorities, wealth accumulates among the ligher-skinned while harsh punishments are doled out to the darker-skinned. Racism could continue on just fine with a minority-majority.

  15. There was a study that said whites (liberal or conserbative) felt visceral fear/discomfort at being a minority… until the ceveat “they would be a numerical minority BUT would keep political power and remain the ruling group” was added. Then that went away

    The fear of losing identity seems to be both cultural and fear of losing power

    • Most people fear change.

      I bet you’d find the exact same pattern among blacks (liberal or consrevative) in terms of being replaced by Hispanics as the largest minority. They’d probably feel fear/discomfort. But if you ensured them that blacks would remain the leading voices in the civil rights movement and remain the central focus of identity politics, that fear/discomfort would be greatly alleviated.

      Every new racial/ethnic group that grows, either by immigration or birth rate, is feared by all other racial/ethnic groups that feel they are losing their position and influence. It’s human nature, under the conditions of a constantly shifting and destabilized immigrant country.

  16. Trust me, by the time females are teens we’be definitely learned to play down ourselves and whatever talents we have. Being modest and not too whatever is something conditioned in us.

    My dad was openly saying that he was pretty fucking good at what he did and that he deserves more pay. For most of us women, to boast openly like that doesn’t cross our minds; and it even blew my mind

    • “But, but, what about all of that missing heritability?”

      He can’t be that stupid, can he? People who buy those cows don’t understand or care about heritability. Those cows are come from the same lineage and are raised in the same way. That means they share environmental conditions, diet, microbiome, epigenetics, etc. If genetic determinists want to be taken seriously, they have to quit acting so stupid.

    • We do need to be careful about being politically correct in a mindless way. Racists are simple minded. But that is all the more reason to not offer a simplistic counter-argument.

      Research does show that culture, language, ideology strongly correlate to differences seen in neurocognitive development, spatial ability, behavior, etc. One area of research is linguistic relativity, which at least partly explains such things as why different cultures demonstrate on average different abilities (spatial sense, dead reckoning, etc). When someone learns a new language, they also learn new thought and behavioral patterns. And such a person can switch back and forth between languages, no matter what race and ethnicity they were born into.

      Race realism and genetic determinism aren’t required to make sense of this. This involves many fascinating areas of study and should be acknowledged. It shows the diversity and plasticity of human nature, which undermines the worldview of bigotry and prejudice. The issue of subtyping is related but should be kept separate. Even the prejudiced have this same diversity and plasticity. And everyone has the potential for prejudice, as part of this shared human nature. All humans are capable of change, in positive and not so positive ways. But other than trauma, change tends to happen slowly.

      By the way, there is one guy (J. Scott Wagner) who used to comment here. He wrote a book a while back about liberals and conservatives. He made similar observations about conservatives being friendly and kind once they get to know you and so once you b part of their group. Jonathan Haidt has made similar points, as I recall. It fits my experience as well, having been raised by conservatives and having grown up in conservative areas.

      I just read a book review from the Wall Street Journal. The book is “Protestants Abroad” by David A. Hollinger. Starting in the late 19th century, large numbers of American missionaries headed to various countries. They were sent to assimilate the natives to the superiority of Western Christianity. But there was an unexpected result. Instead of converting the heathens, many of the missionaries ended up becoming liberal cosmopolitans. And when they came back, they had a major impact on American society, from Christianity itself to foreign policy. Some even lost their faith in the process and became voices for secularism.

      This pattern of liberalization and deconversion of missionaries still goes on. That is what happened to Daniel Everett. As a conservative evangelical, he hoped to convert the Piraha. Instead, they turned him into an atheist. Other conservative evangelicals like Robert M. Price were able to accomplish this same task simply by reading the Bible itself. Anything that forces a conservative to have new experiences and thoughts will threaten their conservatism. A group of conservatives may or may not accept a single person who comes from outside of their group, at least once that person is perceived as having somehow joined the group even if only by familiarity. But a smaller number of conservatives being immersed into the foreign have a hard time maintaining their separate social identity and group cohesion.

    • That is unsurprising. We already knew that millions of civilians had been killed in the Iraq War, along with millions of civilians killed in the Afghanistan War. And neither of those countries ever attacked or threatened the US. It is highly immoral and depraved, a crime against humanity, to devastate an entire country in order to seek justice against one man, Osama bin Laden.

      Imagine if someone had done something in another country and was hiding out in the Rocky Mountains. That other country wanted us to allow them to put their military in our country and, after we refused, they attacked us. No American would accept that as morally justified and we would fight back. The same thing if we were attacked by another country on the false pretext of WMDs.

      The US is one of the most evil governments in world history. If anyone ever managed to count all the harm, deaths, orphans, refugees the US has caused to innocent civilians over its history, it surely would count in the hundreds of millions. Even sanctions we implement against other countries kill millions. And there have been many sanctions over the decades. Throw in Native American genocide, enslavement, nuclear bombing civilian cities, covert operations, supporting terrorists and militant groups, overthrowing governments, and of course wars of aggression ongoing for nearly every year since the US was founded.

      Other countries need to form an alliance to stop the US. Otherwise, the US will go on killing hundreds of millions more. I doubt there is a war to end all wars. But if such a thing were possible, it would require first destroying the US military and taking away the power from US oligarchs and plutocrats.

  17. Here is a post trying to make sense of a mass shooting in terms of family relationships:

    I see that as still being mired in the problem. Our society has isolated nuclear families through sociocultural and economic pressures. The US has depended on the social capital that immigrants bring with them. But over time the number of immigrants bringing social capital hasn’t been able to keep up with how destructive is our society.

    Its not just broken nuclear families but broken extended families, broken kinship groups, broken communities, and broken civic institutions such as churches and unions. There is no way to understand either violence or family problems without understanding the larger factors of loss of social cohesion and trust, worsening inequality and economic desperation, growing factors of capitalist realism and WEIRD culture.

  18. The blogger shows signs of being a Clinton apologists. And so doesn’t acknowledge the role the Democrats have played in creating the world we find ourselves in. But ignoring that, it is an interesting piece exploring Borges’ insights about Nazi sympathizers. There is a ring of truth to it.

    This rings painfully true of our own moment, in which politics, from the national to the personal, often seems to consist of the members of one party relishing the punishment of another, even if it goes against their own best interests. But Borges—who, as I discussed in detail years ago, is Karl Rove’s favorite writer—isn’t done yet:

    “Disdaining these dry abstractions, my interlocutor begins or outlines a panegyric to Hitler: that providential man whose indefatigable discourses preach the extinction of all charlatans and demagogues, and whose incendiary bombs, unmitigated by verbose declarations of war, announce from the firmament the ruin of rapacious imperialism…I always discover that my interlocutor idolizes Hitler, not in spite of the high-altitude bombs and the rumbling invasions, the machine guns, the accusations and lies, but because of those acts and instruments. He is delighted by evil and atrocity. The triumph of Germany does not matter to him; he wants the humiliation of England and a satisfying burning of London. He admires Hitler as he once admired his precursors in the criminal underworld of Chicago. The discussion becomes impossible because the offenses I ascribe to Hitler are, for him, wonders and virtue. The apologists of Amigas, Ramírez, Quiroga, Rosas, or Urquiza pardon or gloss over their crimes; the defender of Hitler derives a special pleasure from them…He is the cunning man who longs to be on the winning side.”

    The italics are mine. As Borges writes in his story “Emma Zunz,” all that need to be changed here are “the circumstances, the time, and one or two proper names.”

    In another essay, Borges remembers the man who came to his house to proudly announce that the Germans had taken Paris: “I felt a confusion of sadness, disgust, malaise. Then it occurred to me that his insolent joy did not explain the stentorian voice or the abrupt proclamation. He added that the German troops would soon be in London. Any opposition was useless, nothing could prevent their victory. That was when I knew that he, too, was terrified.” This speaks for itself. But what troubles me the most is Borges’s conclusion:

    “Nazism suffers from unreality, like Erigena’s hell. It is uninhabitable; men can only die for it, lie for it, wound and kill for it. No one, in the intimate depths of his being, can wish it to triumph. I shall risk this conjecture: Hitler wants to be defeated. Hitler is blindingly collaborating with the inevitable armies that will annihilate him, as the metal vultures and the dragon (which must have known that they were monsters) collaborated, mysteriously, with Hercules.”

    After the war, Borges explored these themes in one of his most haunting stories, “Deutsches Requiem,” in which he attempted to write from the point of view of “the ideal Nazi.” Its narrator, the subdirector of a concentration camp, writes out his confession as he prepares to face the firing squad, and his closing words feel like a glimpse of our own future, regardless of the names of those in power: “Now an implacable age looms over the world. We forged that age, we who are now its victim. What does it matter that England is the hammer and we the anvil? What matters is that violence, not servile Christian acts of timidity, now rules. If victory and injustice and happiness do not belong to Germany, let them belong to other nations. Let heaven exist, though our place be in hell.”

  19. Parts of this post are interesting. But I’m not sure about the point of comparing humans and animals.

    As one book on the topic explains it, we humans aren’t smart enough to know how smart animals are. That is to say intelligence is diverse and complex. There is no singular intelligence. Other animals are brilliant in ways that are beyond human imagining. Obviously, non-humans apply their intelligences toward non-human ends.

    As for some of the most intelligent species, we have no freaking idea what dolphins and whales are saying when they communicate. For all we know, they have more complex societies than do humans, just in ways we can’t comprehend. Or maybe they did have more complex societies before they were decimated by near genocidal over-hunting.

    We simply don’t know and there is nothing to gain by speaking in ignorance. Still, I like what the author has to say about genetics and culture.

    “Moreover, the bewildering diversity of human culture is hardly explained by the main focus of modern Darwinian explanations: genetics. Pace evolutionary psychology, the human genome actually sports comparatively little variability, and it cannot, per se, explain the infinite diversity of our cultural habits and traditions, although of course it has to be part of the story, if for no other reason that it provides the boundary conditions within which human behavioral plasticity can express itself. […]

    “As I have pointed out, even brilliant biologists like E.O. Wilson don’t get that culture isn’t going to be reduced to biology, and therefore that the humanities are not, and never will be, a branch of the biological sciences. That way of achieving “consilience” (really, reduction) between social and biological sciences is a dead end.”

    • I tend to not see Obama as anything new. He was mostly following Bush’s policies and the precedent of a century of US foreign policy.

      Obama gets blamed for withdrawing troops which led to increased use of drone attacks, but the truth is that the decision for withdrawal happened under the Bush administration. Obama would have gone against the formal agreement made with the Iraqi government and that would have been a serious international action. The enactment of withdrawal was already in process when Obama took office.

      His choice to rely heavily on drones is his responsibility, but tareted assassinations have been used by the US government going back to earlier in the 20th century. He inherited the wars started by the previous president. They weren’t war that could be won or easily ended. Besides, the entire military-industrial complex is more powerful and influential than any president (other than maybe Bush sr who was head of the CIA before he was president).

      Obama was just doing what the system of power expects of a US president. There are limited choices that are allowable within that system.

    • I’ve read and written about that before. I’d add another layer to it.

      The defense industry is the largest sector of the US economy, which is the largest economy in the world and intertwined with the global economy. The defense industry is not limited to the US as it involves transnational corporations. It is in the profitable self-interest of these transnational corporations to ensure that as many wars and conflicts are continuously going on as is possible with as many countries and militant groups involved as possible.

      It’s similar to why the gun corporations use the NRA to push weak gun laws, despite most NRA members and most US citizens wanting stronger gun laws. Weak gun laws guarantee that as many guns as possible will be sold on the legal and black markets, which means these companies are profiting from selling guns to both cops and criminals. The more cops and criminals fight each other, the more profit there is to be had.

    • It’s some combination of willful ignorance, ideological dogmatism, and deceptive rhetoric to conflate heritability and genetics. Anytime someone throws out percentages of genetic and environmental influences, you immediately know they are utterly full of shit. There is no scientific way to separate these influences because they are part of a singular, connected reality.

    • “Let’s start with this missing piece: the vast majority of pedophiles are men. And the majority of children victimized by those pedophiles who do choose to act on their sexual desires are girls. This is a rather major detail to withhold from your audience, wouldn’t you say? Unfortunately, as pervasive and overt as patriarchy is, it is usually the last detail mentioned in conversations of this nature — if it is mentioned at all.”

      There are other missing pieces. We know that most pedophilia against boys is committed by women, not men. And some data indicates that pedophile committed by women on boys is underreported. One study found that a sexual abuse hotline was dismissing and not recording complaints made when boys called. No one knows the actual data. Pedophile in general, along with child abuse and spousal abuse, used to be thought of as uncommon until we got better data. It would be ignorant hubris to believe we have yet gained full data on all aspects of these issues.

      Many women seem as reluctant and as afraid to honestly confront these problems. These women trying to blame it all on men are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They are codependently rationalizing away the wrongdoing of women and making excuses for the systemic moral failure of our society. This is a collective problem, far beyond being limited to a single demographic. That is probably what scares people so much. Scapegoating is so much easier than taking social responsibility that would require that we acknowledge that, as members of this society, we are all complicit.


      a 2012 survey of 40,000 households found that a staggering 38 percent of sexual-assault victims were male. Nearly half of those men reported that their attacker was a woman.

      While it is essential to work with the most recent available research and not inflate figures through dint of emotion or ideology, it must be remembered that a couple of decades ago, abuse by men was considered rare. At least we have to be open to the possibility that sexual abuse by women may be more prevalent than we currently understand, and hence provide the opportunity for disclosure (Renvoize 1993).

      Childline’s report did not claim that sexual abuse by women was on the rise.

      It instead suggested that, as more boys were tending to call its helpline, more cases were being reported.

      The biggest trauma for some victims is disbelief. A survey of 127 survivors by the children’s charity Kidscape showed 86% were not believed at first when they named a woman as their abuser.
      [data from transgender U.S. organization]

      Of the studies listed, between of 37-53.8% of male children abused by female perpetrators

      Reliable data on the prevalence of sexual abuse by women is almost impossible to come by. Philby cites one UK abuse hotline, ChildLine — 11% of its callers in 2004 reported being abused by a woman. But women make up only 1% of convicted sex offenders in England and Wales. The picture is just as complicated in the US, according to an article by Lisa Lipshires in Moving Forward Newsjournal. One report found that women were responsible in 20% of US abuse cases between 1973 and 1987, but states report their data differently, and not all divide abusers by gender.

      [British data]

      Research for the helpline found that boys were more likely to say they had been abused by a woman (1,722 cases) than by a man (1,651).

      [American report]

      I am pleased to present Child Maltreatment 2006. his 17th annual report of data collected via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) is for Federal iscal year 2006. It relects our commitment to provide the most complete national information about child maltreatment known to the States’ child protective services (CPS) agencies. […]

      NCANDS is a federally sponsored effort that collects and analyzes annual data on child abuse and neglect. The 1988 CAPTA directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a national data collection and analysis program. The Children’s Bureau in the Administra­tion on Children, Youth and Families, Administra­tion for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, collects and analyzes the data. The data are submitted voluntarily by the States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The irst report from NCANDS was based on data for 1990; the report for 2006 data is the 17th issuance of this annual report. […]

      Nearly 83 percent (82.4%) of victims were abused by a parent acting alone or with another person. Approximately, 40 percent (39.9%) of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone; another 17.6 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone; and 17.8 percent were abused by both parents. 19 Victims abused by nonparental perpetrators accounted for 10.0 percent (igure 3–5).

      [Australian report]

      Findings from the ABS Personal Safety Survey (2005) indicated that of participants who had experienced physical abuse before the age of 15, 55.6% experienced abuse from their father/stepfather and 25.9% experienced abuse from their mother/stepmother. A further 13.7% experienced abuse from another known person and the remainder were family friends, other relatives or strangers (ABS, 2005).

      A British retrospective prevalence study of 2,869 young adults aged 18-24 (May-Chahal & Cawson, 2005) found that mothers were more likely than fathers to be responsible for physical abuse (49% of incidents compared to 40%). However, part of the difference may be explained by the greater time children spend with their mothers than fathers. Violence was also reported to be perpetrated by stepmothers (3%) or stepfathers (5%), grandparents (3%) and other relatives (1%) (May-Chahal & Cawson, 2005).

      Further research shows that when taking issues of severity into consideration, fathers or father surrogates are responsible for more severe physical abuse and fatalities than female perpetrators (US Department of Health and Human Services [US DHHS], 2005). Other researchers such as Daly and Wilson (1999) have argued that biological parents are less likely than step-parents to physically abuse their biological offspring due to their greater investment in the genetic continuity of their family.

      As noted earlier the interpretation of gender differences is difficult in this area because women are more likely to have care of children, often as single mothers, and to spend more time with them. In the US Reiss and Roth (1993) report that infants and small children are more likely to be killed by their mothers than their fathers, in part as a result of the mother’s greater caretaking role. Child deaths are also likely to result from combinations of circumstances and actors eg. an individual parent, both parents, boy-friends, step parents and grandparents, foster parents and babysitters (Greenland 1987). They may result from a single event or an extended history of battering or neglect. In very rare cases they may be identified with severe pathology (eg. the Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, Schreier & Libow 1993).

      A detailed study of deaths from child abuse and neglect in Canada, the United Kingdom and the USA, and of the many problems of research in this field, was undertaken by Greenland (1987). Of the 100 cases examined in Ontario, he found that slightly more women than men were responsible for a child’s death, they tended to be younger than male perpetrators, and the child more likely to die as a result of neglect than abuse. Male perpetrators were more likely to have injured the child physically. In the United Kingdom, among 68 deaths, there was a higher frequency of male perpetrators.

      Greenland stresses the variety of circumstances in such deaths and the importance of studying a total population rather than the most extreme cases. In both samples he attributed the largest proportion of deaths to the `battered child syndrome’, followed by child neglect and homicide (ie. a single event not related to a history of abuse). In both countries he also identified baby-sitters and temporary carers as a specific group. Some of the factors associated with high risk children and their parents were also identified. He concluded that the proportion of deaths attributable to mental illness was rare, and that there is an indisputable link between child abuse and neglect deaths, and poverty and family stress in all three countries.

      Morris and Wilcznski (1993) in their study of mothers who kill their children report that children under one year of age made up 12% of all deaths in England and Wales in 1989. Most of those children were killed by parents. An analysis of all such cases where the suspect was a parent between 1982 and 1989, a total of 493, indicated that almost half of the children were killed by their mothers. As they underline, this is in marked contrast to other types of homicide where women are usually well outnumbered by men.

      What is also evident from the work of Wilcznicki and Morris as well as other writers (eg. Allen, 1987a & b) is the differential way in which such men and women were treated by the courts. Of those originally charged with murder, more than half of the fathers were sentenced to imprisonment, compared with under 10% of the mothers. The great majority of those mothers were subsequently convicted on a lesser charge and received probation or (psychiatric) hospital orders. This was generally on the grounds of diminished responsibility (that at the time of the crime they suffering from an abnormality of the mind). Of those cases where the initial charge was manslaughter, just over half the mothers received a sentence of imprisonment, compared with the majority of the fathers. Thus overall, the criminal justice system in England and Wales is less likely to convict mothers who kill their children for murder, and less likely to sentence them to prison. In the USA the authors suggest, such mothers are more likely to receive a sentence of imprisonment.

      Those mothers who do receive a prison sentence tend to be seen as bad' mothers in contrast to otherwisegood’ mothers who were seen to be suffering from some form of personality disorder or depressive illness. Morris and Wilczynski conclude that this tendency to see women’s violent behaviour as unnatural is not in the end helpful to women. Like Greenland (1987) they argue that the reasons mothers may kill their children are many and varied', andnormal’ women can kill their children when they are confronted by social and economic circumstances which are severe enough’ (p. 215). The focus on the pathology of the mother diverts attention away from the poverty and isolation in which such mothers often live and, they argue, their lack of social and economic power in a society which regards all women as natural mothers.

      Husain, Anasseril and Harris (1983) in a study of 23 homicidal women admitted for pre-trial psychiatric evaluation found those who had killed a child were much younger than other women. Korbin (1989) in a study of nine women imprisoned for killing their child suggests that the deaths followed a pattern of abuse of the child, that the women had provided warning signals to professionals, family members and neighbours after previous incidents, and had rationalized and minimized the abuse to themselves. Her work confirms that of other researchers in the field in highlighting the `plethora of adverse conditions and risk factors’ in the life histories and current circumstances of the women, including their own histories of abuse. On the basis of other work in the field (eg. Daro 1987; Fontana & Alfaro 1987) she suggests that prediction of such fatal incidents may be impossible, but that intervention and education should be directed beyond individual families to community networks which can support them, and research, at the circumstances leading to such events.

      “Research attention is now being directed towards women who sexually abuse children.”[4] It is not uncommon for a male who has been sexually abused by a woman in his youth to receive positive or neutral reactions when he tells people about the abuse.[5] Males and females sexually abused by male offenders, on the other hand, are more readily believed.[6]

      According to a study done by Cortoni and Hanson in 2005, 4-5% of all recorded sexual abuse victims were abused by female offenders.[6] However, the Cortoni study numbers don’t match the official statistics by The United States Department of Justice which found a rate of 8.3% for “Other sexual offenses” for females and The Australian Bureau of Statistics found a rate of 7.9% for “Sexual assault and related offences” for females.[citation needed]

      Other studies have found rates to be much higher. For example:

      In a study of 17,337 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, 23% had a female-only perpetrator and 22% had both male and female perpetrators.[7]

      The sexual abuse of children by women, primarily mothers, constituted 25% (approximately 36 000 children) of the sexually abused victims. This statistic is thought to be underestimated due to the tendency of non-disclosure by victims.[8]

      According to a major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education – In studies that ask students about offenders, sex differences are less than in adult reports. The 2000 American Association of University Women (AAUW) data indicate that 57.2 percent of all students report a male offender and 42.4 percent a female offender with the Cameron et al. study reporting nearly identical proportions as the 2000 AAUW data (57 percent male offenders vs. 43 percent female offenders).[9]

      Some have even suggested that a greater degree of child molesters are female, estimating as many as 63% of sex abusers may be female.[10]

      According to a 2011 CDC report there are an estimated 4,403,010 female victims of sexual violence that had a female perpetrator.[11]

  20. There are actually three universal PHYSICALLY attractive characteristics. (Physical attraction is different from sexual attraction. Although the two often do go hand in hand, appreciating the way that a person looks is not the same as wanting to have sex with him/her.) These characteristics are facial symmetry, koinophilia (a term borrowed from biology that refers to a preference for average-looking features) and a combination of neoteny and maturity. In other words, the universal standard of beauty does not include youthful features, but a combination of both youthful and mature features that represent both vitality and sexual maturity. That’s right — According to biology, sexual maturity is a key component in determining who we find physically attractive. Biology has always been a classic excuse for defending the patriarchy, but this is a cultural problem, not a biological problem. Science doesn’t back you up.

    • The complication is that kids these days are physically maturing earlier and earlier, sometimes 6 to 8 years earlier on average than hunter-gatherers (a massive difference). If physical maturity is what makes someone attractive, one would expect that this would alter both how the individual acts and how those relate to them.

      This doesn’t just have to do with sexuality. Poverty and stress also make people physically mature earlier. Minorities dispropotionately experience poverty and stress. Unsurprisingly, minorities are more likely to be treated as adults while still children. This is problematic in terms of how minority children are treated by the police and legal system, along with society in general. Just because someone looks older or simply is perceived older because of racial prejudices, it doesn’t follow that they are psychologically and intellectually mature enough to be treated as adults.

      This is as much a psychological problem as a social problem. As a society, we haven’t yet figured out how to appropriately deal with the causes and results of abnormally early development. We tend to treat people as they look or are perceived, not the actual age they are because we rarely ask people their ages before interacting with them. Most people assume that someone who seems physically mature is an adult and should be treated as such. But maybe we need to stop doing that, considering there is something strange going on in our society that is behind premature development.

    • “The word charro is first documented in Spain in the 17th century (1627) as a synonym of “person who stops” (basto), “person who speaks roughly” (tosco), “person of the land” (aldeano), “person with bad taste”,[2] and attributes its origins to the Basque language from the word txar which means “bad”, “weak”, “small”. The Real Academia maintains the same definition and origin.[3]”

      Yeah, the earliest cowboys were Hispanics. But that is a broad category. The Basque were an independent people, not subjects of the Spanish Empire. Some of the Basque did seek opportunities, wealth, and glory within the Spanish Empire. Still, they were a separate society and ethnicity. They are the oldest surviving culture and genetic population in Europe, related to the Irish and Welsh (those two populations at some point having adopted Celtic culture while the Basque maintained their separate traditional culture).

      I’d previously come across the origin of cowboy culture. Part of it came from Basque culture. European Basque country (border area of Northern Spain and Southern France) was known for open range cattle ranching. They came to North America with the Spanish because they were respected for their skills, not just in ranching but also in seamanship (some of the earliest European explorers of North America). Many of them headed to the northern reaches of the Spanish Empire (Norteño) which later became part of the United States, a region of greater freedom because it was the frontier. Cowboys were free agents in the Spanish Empire where most imperial subjects experienced little freedom. They moved from town to town looking for work.

      The Basque were also influential in many other ways. They were seen as useful allies and sources of trade in New France, as they already had trading posts established. Later on, they played key roles in during the early modern revolutionary era. Their republican society was personally observed by John Adams and helped to inspire republican thought in the American colonies. And after that, the Basque supported the French Revolution which sadly turned out to have led to the destruction of their independence, after fighting off numerous aggressive empires over a long history.

    • It is fascinating history. And remains relevant to this day. There are few things more important than knowing one’s history. This is important for American history, as the Iroquois had such an influence on US politics and society.

      “Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.”
      ~ Cicero

      “No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.”
      ~ Maya Angelou

    • Yep, a good answer: “Why, exactly, should they be in a hurry to grow up? It’s a pretty messed up world they’re inheriting.” I also liked James C. Talbot’s response: “Well, here’s the thing. ‘Today’s kid’s’ has been the lament of adults from one generation to the next since seemingly forever. The main complaints hold that ‘kids of today’ lack discipline, run wild, are lazy, aimless, and disrespectful. You can find such accounts going as far back as Roman times.”

      I recall old people complaining that my generation wouldn’t grow up. And I know the same thing was said of the Boomers when they were younger. There were even plenty of complaints about the so-called Greatest Generation, before WWII began. I’m not sure about the Silent Generation, but the worst complaints of the century were directed at the Lost Generation.

    • It’s the most overtly racist region. But that doesn’t mean it is the most racist. It’s just the racism is so blatantly obvious. It’s the close proximity of the races with a stark divide between them. I’ve talked about that before with one side of a street being wealthier whites and the other side being poor blacks, something less often seen in other regions.

      Also, in my experience, it’s more common to hear directly racist language in the South. I remember how casually the ‘n’ word would be used by some people, specifically the older generation. I have never heard the ‘n’ word used casually anywhere other than the Deep South. I’m not sure why that is.

  21. The use of higher education to change social class standing in the post-WWII period was a historical anomaly; college (and education in general) had always been part of the reproduction of social class in the U.S. and elsewhere, not a part of any change in social class. The possibility that expanded opportunities for a college education have not produced quite the changes in social class standing that social engineers may have expected is not at all surprising, and might be one more example of the fallacy of assuming that education alone is the determinant of everything about an individual’s life.

    • My parents graduated college during that brief moment of socioeconomic mobility. They went from working class communities to an upper middle class lifestyle in a fairly short period of time. They didn’t worry about jobs after college.

      The older generation automatically assumed they would have jobs waiting for them. They were correct. Almost any degree guaranteed a job. And almost anyone who got a degree could with little effort enter the professional class.

      Back then, the most worthless degree in the world would make you management material in almost any business. But today, business managers are almost always required to specifically have a business management degree. Professional careers have become more specialized than they once were.

  22. The purpose of the Morrill Acts of the late 1800s was to establish land grant universities to educate the sons and daughters of the state’s working citizens of all classes and produce research and technology of benefit to the industrial and agricultural needs of the states. This was the great American idea of higher education, and these universities made significant contributions to the civic and cultural strength of the nation, to the upward mobility of its citizens, and the building of a more equitable and opportunity-filled society. Since the 1960s, however, these universities have cast off their synergistic mission of undergraduate education and research to focus exclusively on research (and athletic) prestige and rankings, which have become the end all of their existence. The proliferation of administrative positions with huge salaries in these institutions and the ever increasing student debt is due to their obsession with maintaining their rank in a caste system of higher education. It is thus little wonder that public higher education no longer serves as a class equalizer, given the hold that flagship universities have on it. Reduction in tuition and fees and elimination of student debt will not solve the problem, nor will infusion of more state money, because prestige is an addiction not easily cured. Having worked in two flagships, I see both Draut and Marsh as being partially right, but not really getting to the heart of the problem and a solution–if one is even possible.

    • The problem in our society goes far beyond higher education. The societal failure we face exists in all areas and at all levels. We are a country presently on a slow decline, spiraling downward. It’s unclear if we will be able to pull out of it before crashing.

    • I’m not sure white rice is any better than white flour. They are both unhealthy as main staples to a diet. Beans are a better choice as a daily food. Societies that eat lots of beans tend to be healthier.

      I always wonder why beans aren’t more popular. Maybe it’s because they have an old and continuing stigma as poor people’s food. Interestingly, white flour and white rice were originally rich people’s food because early on it was more difficult and expensive to produce.


    Donald Trump’s own luck is fairly spotty. He managed to win the U.S. presidency against stiff odds, but in doing so he (like MbS) made some powerful people very angry. Whether or not there is something to the Trump-Russia election-rigging story, Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be closing in on the president and his inner circle with charges potentially including money laundering, perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy against the United States. Trump can’t fire Mueller without inciting a rebellion in Congress that might lead to Mueller’s appointment as Independent Counsel (a position in which he would be far less vulnerable to presidential interference).

    Desperation stalks the halls of the White House. What could change the game? A war might do the trick—maybe a huge conflagration in the Middle East or Korea. Earlier this year I described the current administration as “a presidency in search of an emergency”—anything to justify going full authoritarian.

    Mohammed bin Salman’s chances of igniting a regional conflict are substantially higher than his chances of achieving an economic-social soft landing for his nation. But he’s far from being the only double-down-delusional national leader in today’s world. Perhaps he, Trump, and Kushner together fantasize about the unimaginable wealth they can realize for themselves by doing just one more deal, rolling the dice one last time.


    Attacks on the Media and Internet

    Critical to the success of movement actions is drawing public attention to them. A goal of popular movements is to grow by attracting more people to the movement, and especially to divide power holders (e.g. political parties, elected officials, business people, the media) and bring them to support the movement. A key ingredient to accomplish these goals is the public knowing about the protest, which requires media attention.

    The corporate mass media has always been a problem for movements seeking transformational change. At times, movements have been able to break through corporate media blockades and get their message out, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as mass media is further concentrated and controlled by government and big business. The Internet has been the great equalizer allowing people to create their own media through video, websites, and live stream and share them through social media. Now, that is under attack.

    The founder of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for an “open platform [is one] that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries.” Today he sees the Internet going into some “nasty storms,” including the erosion of Net Neutrality, which will allow Internet providers to be gatekeepers and determine where people can go, what they can see and how quickly they can see it. He also notes the use of algorithms to control what people can find in web searches and he worries about click-bait advertising pushing fake news, which is sometimes done by artificial intelligence.

    Berners-Lee writes that “Net neutrality, which some have described as the ‘first amendment of the internet,’” is being threatened by Verizon employee Ajit Pai who President Trump nominated to be FCC chairman. Pai just announced the FCC plans to vote on December 14 to remove Net Neutrality rules that were won in 2015.

    Join our Protect The Internet campaign and take action at this critical time. Sign up here if you can come to DC to protest the vote.

    Berners-Lee believes “the internet should remain a ‘permissionless space for creativity, innovation and free expression.’” ISP’s should not be able to pick winners and losers or throttle services that they oppose or who do not pay enough money, rather they should be treated like public utilities that provide equal service to everyone.

    In addition to mass media being more concentrated, Russiagate is being used as an excuse to weaken alternative media, like Russia Today (RT), the US-based Russian network. Chris Hedges describes RT being required to register as a foreign agent as a horrendous blow to press freedom. Hedges puts it into the context of the clamp down on dissent, writing it is “driven by RT America’s decision to provide a platform to critics of American capitalism and imperialism, critics who lambast a system of government that can no longer be called democratic. And it is accompanied by the installation of algorithms by Google, Facebook and Twitter that divert readers away from left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites . . .”

    Popular Resistance has been affected by the new algorithms, with a decline in our readership by 60 percent since they were instituted. That’s why we need you to share our articles on social media so we can reach more people.

    Congress is playing its role in heightening fear in order to quiet criticism of the government on social media. At a recent hearing, Clint Watts, a retired Army officer who purports to be an expert on Russiagate, testified that there needs to be a government-imposed censorship of the media. He demanded that “government news inquisitors drive dissident media off the internet.” No elected official responded negatively to his call for censorship.

    In fact, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate used hearings focused on social media outlets to call for censorship. They used extreme language to describe social media with Senator Feinstein calling it “cyber warfare.” Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, after describing Russian influence in the media, went on to say “its not just foreign” accusing Facebook and Twitter algorithms as having the “consequence of widening divisions among our society.”

    Google testified that they fact check labels to spot fake news testifying, “at Google search, we have updated our quality guidelines and evaluations to help surface more authoritative content from the web.” He was describing the new Google search algorithms that result in sites like ours being undermined by suppressing our articles when people search terms.

    The “fake news” meme is being used to curtail foreign media, independent media and social media even though we know that the most common source of false news comes from the corporate mass media. They put foward the news from the perspective of the government and big corporations to support the concentration of wealth and militarism, among other issues. Part of our job as activists is to point out their lies and falsehoods. Responding to the attack on RT, peace activist and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka wrote that CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post should be required to register as “agents of capitalism.”


    The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, also the founder and CEO of Amazon, has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Google, likewise, is deeply embedded within the security and surveillance state and aligned with the ruling elites. Amazon recently purged over 1,000 negative reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened.” The effect was that the book’s Amazon rating jumped from 2 1/2 stars to five stars. Do corporations such as Google and Amazon carry out such censorship on behalf of the U.S. government? Or is this censorship their independent contribution to protect the corporate state?

    In the name of combating Russia-inspired “fake news,” Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN in April imposed algorithms or filters, overseen by “evaluators,” that hunt for key words such as “U.S. military,” “inequality” and “socialism,” along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker. Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 “evaluators” to determine the “quality” and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.

    The World Socialist Web Site reported in July that its aggregate volume, or “impressions”—links displayed by Google in response to search requests—fell dramatically over a short period after the new algorithms were imposed. It also wrote that a number of sites “declared to be ‘fake news’ by the Washington Post’s discredited [PropOrNot] blacklist … had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent. …”

    Another article, “Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site,” by the same website that month said


    When the WSWS contacted Robert Epstein with our findings, the noted psychologist and Google critic concluded, “I have little doubt that Google demoted you.” Epstein said research that he and his colleagues conducted showed “the evidence is rock solid” that “Google is manipulating people through search suggestions.”

    The policy guiding these actions is made absolutely clear in the April 25, 2017 blog post by Google’s Vice President for Engineering, Ben Gomes, and the updated “Search Quality Rater Guidelines” published at the same time. The post refers to the need to flag and demote “unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and conspiracy theories”—broad and amorphous language used to exclude any oppositional content.

    The rater guidelines are even more explicit. The unnamed “evaluators” are instructed to flag as the “lowest” rating sites that have “factually inaccurate information to manipulate users in order to benefit a person, business, government, or other organization politically, monetarily, or otherwise.” The “lowest” rating is also to be given to a website that “presents unsubstantiated conspiracy theories or hoaxes as if the information were factual.”

    It is impossible to formulate a more explicit policy of suppression of free speech. These guidelines are written in a way to allow Google to demote or block a massive array of websites that are critical of the government and expose its lies.
    Who precisely is to determine what is “factually inaccurate information” or what constitutes an “unsubstantiated conspiracy theory”? It in effect bars all expression of opinions, other than those that are acceptable to Google and its allies in the state, particularly the Democratic Party. There is not a publication or journal worth reading that would not fall afoul of these “guidelines.”

    Adding to the cynicism of the new procedures is the fact that numerous sources have documented Google’s active involvement in supporting political candidates, specifically Hillary Clinton, by manipulating search results. In his recently published book, Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon cornered culture and undermined democracy, Jonathan Taplin documents the role of Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, in founding a firm called The Groundwork to directly assist the Clinton campaign.

    Moreover, earlier this year, the European Commission exposed Google’s widespread, deliberate, and criminal manipulation of its search results to promote its own comparison shopping service to the detriment of its competitors. The company was fined $2.7 billion.

    In the name of combating “fake news,” Google is providing fake searches. It has been transformed from a search engine into an instrument of censorship.

    The WSWS will continue to expose Google’s unconstitutional attack on democratic rights. We demand that Google give a full accounting of its procedures, and that it identify who has been given the power to “evaluate” websites. All of Google’s algorithms must be placed in the public domain.

    Ultimately, the actions of Google provide yet another demonstration of the need to take the dissemination of information out of private control. Powerful search engines cannot be run by monopolies controlled by billionaire oligarchs. They must be placed under democratic control by the working population of the world.

  27. Having a less oppressive environment increases variance in many phenotypes. The IQ variance of (less-oppressed) whites is greater than (more-oppressed) blacks despite less genetic diversity. Since women are on average more oppressed (i.e. outcasted more for a given deviance from the norms and given norms that take more effort to conform to) their traits would be narrower.

    • That’s a great argument. I hadn’t thought about IQ variance in relation to genetic variance.

      According to genetic determinism, The African continent has more genetic diversity than the rest of the world combined. And so African descendants should have the greatest variation of all traits, not just IQ. They should have the greatest variance of athleticism to lethargy, pacifism to violence, law-abiding to criminality, wealth to poverty, global superpowers to failed states, etc.

      We should disproportionately find Africans at every extreme in every society they live. Compared to all other populations, they would have the largest numbers of individuals in both the elite and the underclass. That means the US government and corporate management, if our society was a functioning meritocracy, should be filled with African-Americans.


    I’m not advocating journalistic anarchy, and the specter of Peter Thiel is very real. But perhaps there is a circumspect way to give more credence to less powerful people. Sargent’s Gawker post about C.K. is actually a good example: He’s clear about where his information came from and his attempts to confirm it. Maybe, if we really want journalism to be a force for good, we have to band together, do less backbiting among ourselves and be more supportive of a multiplicity of approaches to reporting.

    Different readers will respond to different styles of reporting and writing. Some people are more likely to read a jocular, guy in a bar story. Others will dismiss it as not “real journalism.” The only answer I can come up with is that our society will benefit from a wealth of options when it comes to journalism, and in an ideal world, all of those options will be operating with the best of intentions, with an eye toward justice and truth instead of a pursuit for clicks and small ad buys. In an ideal world, we will all try to be braver, more like those women Kantor praised, and join them in the cockpit.

  29. Even a couple of years ago, a vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum had a sense of the pervasive corruption in our society and government.

    “Asked to name the biggest problem with government today, many cite Congress, politics, or a sense of corruption or undue outside influence…

    “The 2016 campaign is on pace to break records for campaign spending. A large majority of Americans (76%) – including identical shares of Republicans and Democrats – say money has a greater role on politics than in the past. Moreover, large majorities of both Democrats (84%) and Republicans (72%) favor limiting the amount of money individuals and organizations can spend on campaigns and issues…

    “The influence of special interest money on elected officials tops the list of named problems…”


    The ‘Wayne Township Ordinance’ (Mifflin County, PA) was enacted into law in 1998 by a 3-0 vote. It prohibits any corporation from doing business in the township (even those that are already located there) if it has a history of consistently violating any regulatory laws (environmental, labor, etc), and further prohibits any corporation from doing business there if any of its current directors sit on other corporate boards which consistently violate regulatory law. The law goes into effect if there are three ‘violations’ over a fifteen year period. The term ‘violations’ is broadly defined within the Ordinance, and includes Notices of Violation, court proceedings, and any violation of state, local, or federal statutory or regulatory law.” Read the full ordinance at

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