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.

10,654 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.

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