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.

10,733 thoughts on “Open Thread

    • Weak sauce. The public is easily manipulated in this age of banana republics and mass media propaganda. This is authoritarianism. And the authoritarians in power are pushing for an authoritarian response. Telling the political left to be less vocal and more tolerant of intolerance while authoritarians take over society is hardly a strategy of success and progress.

    • I’m less concerned about democracy in other countries. What I am greatly concerned about is democracy in the US. On at least one international measure, American democracy was downgraded. Most Americans would probably agree with that assessment. If democracy is improving in more countries than it is worsening, that is wonderful. But it doesn’t help us Americans out much, which also should be the concern of a US news rag like the WaPo.

    • The view of the author expresses a haughty claim to moral high ground. But that misses the real change that has happened. Both of the main parties have attacked, silenced, and disenfranchised not only minorities but also the majority, not only the radical left but also the moderate center. That is because both parties have shifted to the right of the average American.

      People aren’t simply born with particular personality traits and ideological proclivities. We know from research that social environment, mass media, etc have immense power in shaping thought, perception, and behavior. Both parties are of an authoritarian bent, one more hidden and the other more out in the open, but both work together to enforce the power and authority of the ruling elite, both promote the twin forces of neoconservatism and neoliberalism.

      The American public we have was created this way on purpose. And it isn’t so much that most Americans are any particular way. That is other than feeling helpless and hopeless. I’ve seen the data that shows most Americans no longer trust the government, media, or corporations. More recently, I’ve seen data showing the same mistrust of the medical establishment, which is to say they don’t trust their own doctors to have their best interest in mind.

      This is the tearing apart of the social fabric. And it was done on purpose to protect an autocracy. Under such conditions where both parties are authoritarian, is it a surprise that authoritarianism flourishes? Of course not. We’re at a point where most Americans no longer even bother to vote in most elections. On a gut level, Americans sense that we don’t live in a democracy. They feel that way because it is the truth no one is supposed to speak.

      Let me put this in context. I’ve brought up Nick Hanauer many times before. He is the plutocrat who has spent recent years warning his fellow plutocrats about the pitcforks coming for them, that is to say revolution or something akin to it. He was an early major investor in Amazon and worked directly with Jeff Bezos, both of them being Democrats. Hanauer said with rare honesty that the only way Bezos will ever do the right thing is if someone points a gun to his head and makes him. That wasn’t coming from a radical left-winger or a working class populist or a mentally unbalanced troll on the internet but rather a voice from within the elite itself.

      More recently, Tucker Carlson from Fox News (and hence another elite) has been speaking on his show about revolution. He says that he came to see this because of his fondness for hunting. This brings him to rural areas and apparently, unlike most insular elite, he actually talks to the dirty masses on a personal level. He has learned how bad off are so many Americans, not merely as statistics but as real people. Hearing the anger and frustration, he now worries about what might be coming. This admission from an elite is all the more powerful for it coming from Fox News while the Republicans are in power.

      As these two demonstrate, it isn’t a partisan issue. But what neither of them may understand is how we got to this point. Sure, it’s about growing inequality of wealth, while it is also about so much more. What we can’t talk honestly about is democracy. And so we can’t directly and openly state what we’ve become, a banana republic. This topic is taboo.

    • That is an interesting issue. It’s helping to separate the authoritarians from the traditional conservatives and old school Republicans. The latter are feeling ever more distant from Trump and his supporters. But that probably means many of them will vote Democratic which will make the Democrats even more conservative than they already are.

    • So, contact theory is promising. That would support the argument for not segregating populations. That intuitively makes sense and should be the default position, unless we don’t want a peaceful social democracy. Still, any conclusion is tentative because there are gaps in our knowledge.

    • There is a similar culture in Iowa. But maybe not quite to the same extent. More than anything, I think of Upper Midwesterners as moderate and mild, even when they aren’t overtly nice and friendly. I might agree that there can be a bit of repression mixed in.

    • There was a personal example of Iowa Nice the other day. I was at the local farmers’ market. My favorite vendor is a lady who makes cultured vegetables, such as sauerkraut.

      She always has samples out and I like to try them. She then asks me what I think of each one. This last time after giving my assessment, she told me that I always say that I like them. Well, I am being honest in that I do like her product. But there probably is an element of Iowa Nice involved.

      However I might be online, I don’t like to be mean in person nor aggressive. I was raised with the value of being nice. On the other hand, I also get a bluntness from my mother. Her family is Hoosier with the lingering culture of the Upper South.

  1. The thing these academics and articles don’t touch on is how weird and unnatural our modern society is. So they appear to find white people whose genes correlate with higher social status in an industrialized world, big whoop. Everything operates in context

  2. Minnesota is definately a high-trust culture. I ask strangers all the time to watch my stuff. Scandinavian/Germanic culture? I think I’m more likely to ask women than men but I’ve asked all ethnic groups. OTOH Southern New England (parts of it at least) don’t seem high-trust at all, northern Rhode Island is basically run by the mafia (srsly a former mayor of Providence, RI was openly in the mafia) and everyone’s scamming each other

    • Yeah. I know about that kind of thing. I see it fairly often. And I’ll do it myself. But often it doesn’t even require being asked. I have people leave their stuff on a table near me apparently with the expectation of my watching it for them. Living in Iowa, that seems normal to me.

  3. Might be me but with the sentinel tribe killing that missionary, and looking at their history (getting fucked by the British likely making them so hostile to outsiders) and photos, I notice that old and and modern photos of people living more tribal lifestyles, they seem to have more symmetrical faces and perhaps it’s my taste but to me they’re more physically attractive, but that could be since I prefer more rugged, broad and robust features and those are more common in those living more that way…

    • Many have made similar observations. Weston A. Price, in the early 20th century, traveled the world studying traditional societies, not only hunter-gatherers on foreign continents but also in isolated rural communities in Europe. He found that people had symmetrical faces, full jaw development, strong bones, and few neurocognitive and chronic diseases. He was partly able to pin this down to the nutrient-dense foods these people were eating.

      Research has shown that humans have a bias in being attracted to those with symmetrical features. Such people are more likely to be successful. They are perceived as being better people, more trustworthy, etc. It’s a weird biological bias, but it makes sense as an indicator of health, especially more mate selection.

  4. Jawlines are quite uncommon on the street st least in the developed world I notice. I notice some men will shave their beards in a way so that the hair traces a jawline. Without that though they have no jaw

    It’s probably not a bias I will shake but facial symmetry, defined jaws, broad, developed features compared to the opposite and some robustness are just more physically attractive on a primal level. I don’t think it’s an ethnic group thing either, people who register in the mind as “attractive” have these features. And most people in the city regardless of ethnicity lack those features

  5. I mention that due to talks about western white beauty standards. Those “objectively” attractive features like facial symmetry and strong jaws and broad developed features are no more common in modern day whites than anyone else.

    • I can’t be bothered to get excited. It’s all bullshit, if powerful bullshit. It’s true that, “Ethnic majorities are not malign forces: 80 percent of countries have an ethnic majority”. But large ethnic groups are always social constructions and usually quite recently in history. It was only during the world war era that most Europeans began to identify with present ethno-nationalist identities.

    • A lot of stuff like that went on. And too much of it was covered up. It’s amazing that we are only now learning about the evil shit that our governments have done and not that long ago. It disproves the claim some people make that conspiracies can’t happen because there is no way to keep people silent. But obviously many people who knew didn’t speak out.

    • That is so depressing that I can’t bring myself to click on it. I know about it and the thought of it gives me a sinking feeling of hopelessness. As a global society, we are destroying ourselves, but some experience the destruction sooner than others.

    • I honestly don’t care. Nationalism simply is irrelevant. It is not the future. Even if the next world war is between nations, any wars after that won’t be between nations. Either there will be mutually-assured destruction or some kind of larger form of governance will come to power that transcends nationalism. Between environmental catastrophes and refugee crises, borders will quickly become meaningless abstractions that are only found on old maps. I don’t know how quickly this change will come, but it is coming.

  6. Scandinavian culture is “low context”, whereas Minnesota nice is characteristic of a “high context” culture. Presumably, the immigrants from Norway and Sweden adapted their low context Jante Law to the seemingly similar but very different Southern United States high context polite society, forming the unique Midwest culture amongst Western cultures that is called “Minnesota Nice.” The integration of Jute Law and Polite Society, epitomized by the rules of a Southern belle, likely occurred when the cultures met and merged during the pre-American Civil War migration of pro-slavery southern farmers north into the Midwest Territory (documented, for example, in the well known Bleeding Kansas conflict).

    • I know there is an element of northern European influence in Kansas. But I never think of that state as Midwestern. It’s definitely far away from the Upper Midwest. I can’t imagine Minnesota has seen much internal immigration from the Deep South where formal politeness is common. I’ve been in both regions and they are as different as can be within this same country. This is maybe why Kansas is known for bleeding, not for being nice.

    • There has been much research along those lines. We don’t understand all of what is involved. But we definitely know the microbiome is powerful in multiple conditions. For certain, my depression was profoundly affected by a change in diet, the specific kind of change of diet that has been scientifically proven to alter the microbiome.

    • American agriculture was shaped by African farming traditions. Many plantation owners were largely ignorant of agriculture and so were dependent on the highly developed and specialized expertise of Africans. The earliest Africans enslaved included people who were from developed societies, and some early slaves had college degrees or were literate or had specialized training.

      I doubt most ex-slaves and their children identified the history of slavery specifically with farming. Most blacks in gaining their freedom sought out to gain their own farmland. Blacks spread out across the entire country in rural areas of every state. It was only with sundown towns and mobs that blacks were driven from their farms and forced to take refuge in cities. This wasn’t chosen willingly.

  7. “And that’s only for 1.1 million people of European ancestry. The score’s predictive power is even lower for people of different ancestries, who likely have their own sets of education-associated variants.”

    • It was mentioned that other scientific fields of research wouldn’t ignore confounding environmental factors. That is true. But it’s even closer to home. Genetic researchers don’t even control for epigenetics which is the primary determinant of genetic expression.

    • Or maybe we should. What needs to be taught is how little and why genetic determinism is simply eugenics and race realism is simply racism. Now that would be a worthy education that would improve our society.

    • The simpler explanation is the most obvious and most reasonable, that women have had different environmental conditions based on gender inequality, conditions that have existed for a very long time and continue. Epigenetics would be a more probable factor than genetics.

    • Isn’t that the state of mental health in general? It’s rare for the actual causes and core issues of mental health to ever be acknowledged, much less treated. We are in a mentally sick society where full sanity is the exception, rather than the norm. Simply being born into this society is traumatic for much of the population: societal stress, inequality, poverty, debt, toxins, unhealthy food system, militarized police, etc.

  8. This article is by Dr. Georgia Ede. She is one of the fairly well known low-carb, high-fat diet advocates. Here she explains the specific fats that are necessary for health and where they are found. Because of new ways of processing algae, these fats are now available to vegans and vegetarians as well. You can also take the precursors (as found in Total EFA), but there is some uncertainty about how bioavailable they are in being processed into their necessary form. Most important, it appears the only way to get full benefit from these fats is to eliminate the unhealthy vegetable oils from one’s diet.

    “The most rapid phase of development of the infant cortex takes place between the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy and age two. If enough DHA isn’t available to the baby during this critical 27-month window, it is unclear whether the consequences can be completely undone. In fact we do see lower levels of DHA in people diagnosed with psychiatricdisorders, including those which manifest early in life, such as autisticspectrum disorders and ADHD. […]

    “Bearing this in mind, it has been estimated that as many as 80% of Americans have suboptimal blood levels of DHA. […]

    “Nearly all processed foods, prepared hot foods, packaged snacks and convenience foods are made with refined vegetable oils such as soybean or sunflower oil. Most vegetable oils are extremely, unnaturally high in LA (linoleic acid), an omega-6 fatty acid that reduces the production and effectiveness of DHA within your body. Excess linoleic acid can tilt your immune system too far towards inflammation and away from healing, so there are many reasons to minimize your consumption of vegetable oils. Your best plant oil choices are olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or red palm oil. If you must include refined vegetable oil, canola oil and palm kernel oil are low in linoleic acid. Lowering your vegetable oil intake can increase the availability of DHA in your body, decreasing your need for dietary and/or supplemental DHA. The presence of high amounts of linoleic acid in the typical modern diet may help to explain why so many people appear to have low DHA levels despite the fact that most people do include animal foods in their diet already. […]

    “Thankfully, vegetarian and vegan-friendly DHA supplements extracted from algae are available. [Algae are neither plants nor animals…discuss!] These supplements are more expensive and contain lower concentrations of DHA than fish or krill oil supplements (meaning higher doses are recommended), but may be important for maintaining healthy DHA levels, particularly in mothers and babies during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Directly consuming seaweed and other forms of edible algae instead of taking algae oil extracts is unreliable because it’s unclear whether the DHA within these fibrous foods can be released and absorbed by the human body; in other words, the DHA in edible algae may not be bioavailable.”

    • As always, it will get worse before it gets better. At some point, the public won’t be satisfied with mere complaining. Then there will be riots in the street or likely far worse. Authoritarianism always leads to a backlash, which might lead to more authoritarianism or not.

      The elite will do their best to maintain control, but I don’t see how they can win in the end. Eventually, it will all fail in some catastrophic fashion and all hell will break loose. I don’t get the sense that the elite have clearly thought out their end game. They are simply reacting out of fear, hoping that the system will hold together long enough until their dead and gone.

      Some of the most evil psychopaths who have ruled for decades might not have to suffer the consequences. Quite a few of them are closer to death than not. Donald Rumsfeld is 86 years old, Dick Cheney is 78, Charles Koch is 83, David Koch is 78, etc. None of them look in great health. Maybe they’ll get lucky by dying sometime in the near future, before the coming chaos or collapse.

  9. Bin Laden is smiling in his watery grave. The results of the attacks that were carried out on 9-11-2001 have succeeded in ways that have surpassed anything he could have imagined. He could not have dreamed that both of the twin towers would come crashing to the ground in such a dramatic fashion. But the best was yet to come. Terrorism is effective when you’re able to elicit a response from your enemy that is as irrational as the beliefs that drove your act. Our invasion of Iraq was clearly not based on any rationale related to preventing another 911-like attack. But, how it played into the hands of the enemies of Western Civilization. It made the entire Islamic world feel as though it was under siege, driving even moderate Islamists to Al-Qaeda. After overthrowing Saddam we told his military that they were now unemployed and needed to find something else to do. So they did – they formed the well trained core of ISIS, whose work in Iraq and Syria flooded the world with refugees. As refugees poured into countries around the world, anti-immigrant and nationalist tendencies were awakened and politicians willing to exploit those tribal sentiments found a following. Countries around the world started electing fear-mongering right wing leaders intent on dividing the world into us-against-them tribal fiefdoms that they could reign over. So, eighteen years after Al-Qaeda brought down the twin towers, the world is plunging into the feudal civilization that spawned Al-Qaeda.
    14 RecommendShare

  10. We should try to avoid the vocabulary Bannon and his devote European fans use to stock resentment.

    Forgotten men: racist and misogynistic code word for white (male) people who deserve to be better off because white is better than black. It is a racist concept that we perpetuate by using the word even if we don’t agree with white supremacy that underpins it.

    White working class: another racist term. Class is a socio-economic term, and skin color is a racist term. There is only one working class, people who labor physically to gain an income, no matter what color their skin is. The white working class is an invention to illustrate a perceived unfairness that white people deserve better (than the black worker).

    Globalism: humanity started to reach out globally about 70.000 years ago when civilization started to spread around the world. It’s inherent to the human species, and not some sort of sinister plot to exploit “the forgotten men and white working class”.

    Elite: a catch phrase to denounce people who are successful in life but strangely believe in democracy. Apparently the elite is liberal, sinister and vastly powerful through either money or media. The elite is out to exploit “the forgotten men”. It’s used to deflect from the real culprit of exploitation: the oligarchic capitalist who finance the populist movement to their advantage.

  11. This brings us to another fascinating conclusion drawn by the Minnesota twin studies. Researchers found that raised-apart identical twins are more similar than identical twins that are raised together. That’s because together-twins have the opportunity to recognize their similarities and deliberately change their behavior so they might be different from their sibling – effectively turning off their genes.

    All of which seems to suggest that, even if we do inherit certain parts of our personalities, we’re not forever stuck with them. There’s a strong possibility that we can change our disposition simply by changing our environment, or possibly even through sheer force of will.

    • It’s to be expected. The majority of Americans have been left on most major issues for a long time. And that has been even more true for economics. In the US, there has always been a strong economic populism aligned with leftist ideology.

      The last half century of neoliberalism, starting most clearly with Jimmy Carter, was a concerted effort to fight against this longstanding American majority by enforcing their ruling ideology. It worked for a while because they had authoritarian control of large segments of media, economics, and government.

      But the plutocratic good times could only last so long, which is also predictable. They pushed it as far as it could go. Now some fearing the coming backlash are trying to redirect the populist outrage that, if not careful, could turn to revolt or even revolution. Someone like Tucker is nodding left simply out of fear of what is coming.

      Here is the comment I left at the article:

      “But his basic point — that economically left-leaning, culturally conservative voters are underrepresented in the halls of power — is indisputably true.”

      There is an even more basic point. Economically left-leaning, culturally liberal voters are also underrepresented in the halls of power. Heck, economically left-leaning anyone is underreprresented: anarchosyndicalists, Marxists, socialists, social democrats, etc. Economically left-leaning is a broad category. But in any of its forms, it has been suppressed and often violently so for more than a century.

      Anarchists were excluded from entering the country in the early 20th century. And left-leaning everything was a target of discrimination, smear campaigns, and prosecution by the government during the Cold War. During the Red Scare, the most harm against leftists came from corporations that blackballed anyone who disagreed with their oppression of workers and their corporatocratic control of the government.

      People’s lives were destroyed and careers ended, sometimes leading to suicide. The FBI even tried to blackmail MLK into suicide for his embracing left-wing economic populism. COINTELPRO did far worse than that, in fact.

      Leftist views get portrayed as extreme in the corporate media and corporatocratic government. But in reality, most Americans lean far left on most major issues, both economic and social. Most Americans support the New Green Deal, social security, universal healthcare, same sex marriage, abortion rights, etc. It is the ruling elite and their lackeys who are the extremists.

  12. So if a lot of genetic correlations appearently only apply to people of certain ancestries, are they genetic, considering people aren’t that genetically different? Like “we found genetic correlation in ppl of European ancestry” yeah but most black and latin americans have euro ancestry too, why didn’t they have the same correlation?

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