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.

11,099 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Reactionary right-wingers, in their conniving, hope to foment violence and then scapegoat the entire political left. And worse of all, to conflate the right-wing corporatist Clinton Democrats with that political left. The real political left is kept silent and impotent, which is what the Clinton Democrats want and so it makes the DNC easily manipulated by the far right puppet masters.

    The problem is reactionaries are defined by their reaction and so lack any genuine vision. We end up with a society of reaction to reaction to reaction where all sense of meaning and reality gets lost in smoke and mirrors. Reactionaries rule by eliminating all other possibilities besides reaction itself. As such, the DNC just becomes another variety of reaction. There are no adults in the room, no wise leadership, no powerful opposing force. It’s the elimination of possibilities and alternatives, a shutting down of the radical imagination under a pall of fear-ridden anxiety and mass confusion.

    No one can exactly win this game, not even the reactionaries. It’s inevitably self-destructive, however long it might take to reach such an unhappy ending. But the reactionaries can create the illusion of winning by ensuring everyone else loses, though that end up losers as well. Trump supporters won’t get what they want and Trump will betray them. That will lead to ever great outrage, revolt, and violence — likely terrorism and assassinations or even revolution or else civil war or, failing all else, world war.

  2. Regarding mood disorders, the world is really stressful these days. We’ve also turned being pumped with cortisol into a virtue, as if not being stressed and busy is a sin. Worth from production, etc. many people I know who’ve been depressed and anxious cane from situations where their internal coping mechanisms were overwhelmed in various ways. And one can have all the material goods they want and for this to be true. Emotional neglect is a silent epidemic for example

    • Capitalist realism, social Darwinism, and hyper-individualism — all of it goes against human nature. We feel compelled to try to force ourselves to conform to ideological demands and contort ourselves within ideological constraints. No other society has ever before placed so much stress and pressure upon people, although admittedly the Nazis took drugged-up work ethic and demented individualism to a whole other level. This is the WEIRD model of social control.

  3. Obesity in Korea has gotten worse (well, obesity everywhere has) but samgyeopsal or pork belly is one of the most popular korean bbq dishes and hangover foods. Some Koreans “own that it’s unhealthy but it’s delicious” but I’m not sure it’s that terrible for you. Also there’s something about eating meat with fat that feels “right” in a way lean red meat doesn’t. What might make bbq unhealthy is burning the meat which is carcinogenic

    • Why did the American processed food diet take hold in the Middle East but not Asia? Japan and Okinawa have been influenced by American culture to some degree, and yet both apparently have maintained more aspects of their traditional diets than in the Gulf states. That seems strange.

    • Unfortunately, the news report ignored what kind of diet actually makes people healthy. Asian research shows that people are healthier when they eat more animal foods. That doesn’t necessarily prove animal foods are healthier, as there is the healthy user effect.

      But it’s interesting that Asian research so often shows opposite results of Western research, although there are some Western studies that have also associated animal foods with greater health. The problem in Western countries like the US is greater meat intake is conflated with greater consumption of starchy carbs, added sugar, industrial seed oils, and all the other crap in a processed food diet (e.g., a McDonald’s meal).

      American health has particularly declined with seed oils replacing animal fats in the 1930s. Even many animal foods in the American diet are going to be drenched in seed oils (e.g., KFC chicken). I wonder if Japan is still using a lot of animal fats, such as for cooking and frying.

      • My experience is that Uncooked veggies are rare in East Asian diets. Japanese and koreans also like pickled and fermented veggies but not raw veggies. The usda prescribed ideal dinner plate of half salad, quarter lean meat, and quarter carbs looks decidedly unappealing as well as unsatisfying. Veggies can be integrated into dishes of course but they’re rarely made a show of the way they are here.

        Dashi or kelp Stock (May also contain anchovies, etc) is the basis of Japanese cuisine, used to make soups (miso soup included) and dishes, as the water base, etc.

        • I’ve read similar observations about traditional diets in general. Modern dietary advice promotes lots of fresh, raw vegetables. But before the modern era, fresh vegetables were rare. Gardens were hard to maintain prior to chemical insecticides and fertilizers.

          Even when available, vegetables typically weren’t eaten raw nor as a separate side dish. More likely, the few plant foods people ate would be mixed in with animal foods since animal fat adds flavor and increases absorption of certain nutrients.

          Over-cooking plant foods, as with animal foods, can destroy some nutrition. On the other hand, proper preparation of plant foods, as was traditionally done in most societies, eliminates anti-nutrients and makes nutrients more bioavailable.

    • I’d seen that video before. I noticed that I had even commented on it. A point I made is that, even though they eat smaller portions, the average Japanese eats proportionally more animal foods than the average American. Animal foods are more nutritious and satiating, which might be the key to eating less. The thing with high-carb and plant-based junk foods (potato chips, cookies, candy, etc) is that you can eat them endlessly and never feel full or satisfied. Snack on such processed food and you soon want more.

  4. I’m not sure why, but Minnesotans as a group seem to have poor facial development in my experience. Very narrow faces, No jaw, gummy smiles, and smiles where the tongue are between the teeth are so common, Moreso than in the mid-Atlantic. Even my dad when he visited was like “people here are uglier.” I wonder if the low vitamin D, long cold winter, not nutritionally dense diet is related. Or genetics I dunno. I don’t want to think it’s genetic since that’d be racist (more scandinavians here is the different factor compared to the East, but scandinavians In Europe aren’t uglier than other people). I also notice that Minnesotans age more quickly but I put that down to cold dry climate. The facial growth is independent of that.

    • I know the Midwestern diet in major farm states like Minnesota and Iowa. It is quite heavy on the carbs: corn, potatoes, pasta, pie, cookies, etc. Also, most rural people these days have few shopping options besides convenience stores and Walmart.

      You’d be surprised by how few rural communities have farmers markets, even when they are surrounded by farmland. That is because those farms are mostly big ag producing monocrops. And fewer people maintain gardens now that processed foods have become so cheap.

      Combine that with lack of sunshine for much of the year. Not only would they be producing less of their own vitamin D but probably eating fewer nutrient-dense foods than did their parents and grandparents. For many reasons, health in rural states has been declining even more rapidly than the rest of the declining American population.

      By the way, it’s true Scandinavians are common. That is the ancestry most Upper Midwesterners identify with. But the reality is that most Midwesterners, Lower and Upper, are of German ancestry. It’s just that German culture was so entirely annihilated that it has been forgotten even by German-Americans.

    • This is a small college town. And the college was closed over the summer. That meant much of the population was not in town. Now they are all back. And it is infamous as a party town. The governor ended up closing the bars back down again. It’s hard to know how it will turn out. Give it a few weeks and we’ll have a better sense. I’ll be curious about what happens when it spreads into the nearby bedroom communities that have been isolated up to this point.

  5. Interesting. Where I live, in the Philippines, trans people are not transgressive at all, in fact the overwhelming majority are social conservatives. There is no connection between radical politics and trans identity here; and there are a great many trans people. They’re everywhere.
    There are plenty of straight men (albeit mainly foreign) in stable relationships with trans women and local people just don’t bat an eye. Much of the negativity in the West comes from the idea that for a mannto be penetrated robs his male status; that applies here too but while the assumption in the West appears to be that they would be, here it’s the opposite. Men are expected to penetrate trans women.
    Fred Whitam found that 70% of men had their first sex with trans women in those parts of the Philippines he studied; frankly I think he missed a few. Perhaps as a result of this and the higher standard of cleanliness of people here, there is effectively no taboo on anal sex. So many of the social issues faced both by trans women and men who have sex with them, in the West, just don’t apply here.
    Another part of the problem in the AngloSaxon West, especially the USican part, is men’s sexual insecurity. I suspect this comes partly from northern European, particularly English Protestant cultural and religious influences, which are quite different from the Catholic ones of southern Europe. I think also that US history as a ‘frontier’ culture has foregrounded self-sufficiency and risk-taking, both generally positive but also violence and insecurity at ‘not measuring up’. This last makes men very susceptible to peer pressure and unfortunately, prone to narcissistic rage attacks if they are put in positions where their sense of masculinity might be compromised. That of course was the punchline you mentioned, the execrable climax of a thoroughly crass film.

    • There could be violence. I’d go so far as to say, of course, there WILL be violence. After all, there already has been violence. The question is how much more violence might we see in the coming months.

      I have no doubt we will be entering a period of increasing suicides, homicides, assassinations, terrorism, hate crimes, civil unrest, etc; possibly civil war or revolution, as well as international conflict. As with many others, I’ve been expecting this for years. But when it might begin is hard to predict. The pressure of stress and conflict has to hit a certain level and the right kind of trigger has to then unleash it.

      So, it could happen soon or it could get delayed for some more years. What is clear is that we are close to that point. And unless something intervenes, it is next to inevitable. If not for the New Deal and World War II, a revolution might have happened earlier last century. There was almost a fascist coup d’etat with the Business Plot, but it failed.

      America, from the colonial era onward, has had mass violence and civil unrest on a regular basis. There were multiple major colonial revolts against the elite, not to mention all the general conflict, often deadly. Some of these revolts, like the Regulator Movement, were essentially the beginning of the American Revolution long before anyone realized what was happening and what would result from it. Then the American Revolution continued with revolts like Shays’ Rebellion.

      The entire 19th century was one clash or uprising after another, including many slave revolts and labor revolts. Then there was such things as the mining wars that involved hundreds of thousands of workers organizing and sometimes involved in gun fights with company goons and federal troops. There were also all the race wars, sometimes literal military-style battles in the street with battle-hardened WWI veterans on both sides.

      This continued following WWII with events like the armed revolt of the Battle of Athens where veterans shot up a courthouse in demanding their democratic rights, and the federal government ended up supporting their cause. Could you imagine a bunch of black people shooting up a courthouse in demanding democratic rights and then having the federal government agree with them, rather than send it troops to violently oppress them. Even Obama wouldn’t have supported black people in that situation.

      The shit that white people, even poor white people, can get away with. White privilege is a very real thing. But it’s not as if blacks waited around for someone to give them some privilege before also demanding their own rights. I always like the response an old black guy gave to how they succeeded in their labor demands in the Deep South. I’ve probably shared it with you before.

      “When I asked Mr. Johnson how the union succeeded in winning some of their demands, without the slightest hesitation he reached into the drawer of his nightstand and pulled out a dog-eared copy of V. I. Lenin’s What Is to Be Done and a box of shotgun shells, set both firmly on the bed next to me, and said, “Right thar, theory and practice. That’s how we did it. Theory and practice.” ”

      So, is violence coming? Tell me when there wasn’t violence. I can’t think of a single decade in American history when there was not some combination of riots, revolts, gun battles, school shootings, mob violence, hate crimes, terrorism, and assassinations. Some periods are more violent than others, but violence is the American norm. All through my childhood and youth, the right-wing extremists were killing abortion doctors and gay people and perceived foreigners, committing arson and blowing up buildings, etc — it was always something.

    • Anything that causes stress, from social stress to oxidative stress, causes ill health and premature aging. Our society is extremely stressful in every aspect of life, from inequality to isolation. Most Americans at this point have never experienced a normal community of close neighbors and strong social support, neighborhood churches and schools and stores, multigenerational households and kin networks, etc that was the norm for humans for hundreds of thousands of years and only disappeared from American society earlier last century, still within the living memory of the elderly. Yet for most Americans, there is near total amnesia about what has been destroyed and lost, having been replaced with nostalgic fantasies that have little to do with the reality of the past.

      From the article: “Earlier studies had pointed to a possible link with sugar-sweetened drinks, processed meats, and other foods loaded with saturated fats and sugar, but the findings were inconclusive.” It’s sad and amusing that at this late of date they still refuse to acknowledge that Americans eat less saturated fat now than their grandparents and great grandparents ate before the health crisis began. The author goes on to say that, “These conditions are often age-related in so far as they are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation known to influence telomere length.” Well, two of the main factors known to cause oxidative stress and inflammation is a lots of carbs and lots of industrial seed oils, especially combined with low intake of omega-3s. This is not a secret in nutrition studies. So, why not state the obvious?

    • Germany gave reparations to Jews. It’s long past time that the US government, local and federal, give reparations to historically victimized and oppressed populations. The US government gives trillions of dollars away as unearned subsidies to numerous industries — that is every year, trillions given to one industry and trillions more to another industry and on and on. There is no lack of money to be given to the deserving. The only lack is moral fabric and political will. Justice delayed is justice denied.

    • I’ve seen articles about that before. There are racial disparities of lots of things: wealth, political power, green spaces, police brutality, metabolic diseases, healthcare access, and on and on. Maternal mortality is simply one more thing to add to the pile.

  6. seed oils here too. impossible to eat sweets without seed oils unless one makes their own from scratch.

    Mexico has obesity issues and some blame cheesy Mexican Food but Mexican obesity is also relatively recent, mostly since sweets And soda became Readily available.

    • That is a depressing article. To my mind, that shows the powerful addiction of sugar. The seed oils on top add harm, but it doesn’t cause the craving.

      Lipid intake has increased in the American diet and it’s mostly come from seed oils. Japan seems to be following our bad example and doing so with great zeal.

    • It is an interesting challenge. I suspect bans aren’t the best method. Banning abortions either doesn’t decrease or actually increases the abortion rate. Banning drugs, like banning alcohol, has made drug addiction an even larger and worse problem. See Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream to understand why this happens, at least with drugs.

      Portugal decreased drug use and addiction by criminalizing those who sell drugs but not criminalizing those who use drugs and then making addictive drugs only available through doctors, such that drug addicts still can get access to drugs and yet without the stigma and secondary problems. They were able to do this by promoting a social democracy.

      Maybe a similar strategy could work for junk food. The idea is to go after the producers of junk food, not the users. This could maybe done through heavy taxation on the junk food industry to deincentivize the production of junk food. It could still be legally produced but at a higher cost and the funds from those taxes would go directly to paying for the healthcare and research related to the health problems of junk food.

      That is one possibility. The basic idea must be to re-internalize the public health costs that have been externalized and socialized by the junk food industry. It’s the same method of forcing costs back onto other harmful industries. Rather than subsidizing industrial agriculture, coal mining, etc, we need to be taxing them at a high level to fully offset the known costs, primary and secondary.

    • We are almost inevitably going to war with China. It is what everything has building up toward. Many American ruling elites are crazy enough to think a world war could be won or that it could be contained to proxy wars in a new cold war.

      Besides, China will probably be forced to go to war at some point, for demographic and economic reasons. China either has to try to become the next global superpower or else face likely decline. They can’t even feed their own people and so imperialism is their only viable option in the long term.

      With climate change, the US too might get to the point of not being able to feed its own people, as best farming region is shifting north. The new breadbasket could end up in Canada (and Russia). A local expert on ecology and farming has said that the Goldilocks period is going to soon end for Iowa farming and productivity will be declining.

      That would be devastating to the US economy and hegemony. Remember that American wealth and power as an empire was built on agriculture.

    • That is obvious. But those trends have been going on for decades. The Western superpowers have actively promoted authoritarianism. Countries like the US and Australia have become more authoritarian as well. Coronavirus was just an excuse for more of the same.

    • I was talking to a former classmate who said that we also didn’t have good role models either despite being white-collar. Our role models were “human adderall” like the teacher who cried when we did poorly on a test, rat-race adults who conflate “achievement” with virtue.

      • Nearly all of the adults are severely damaged as well. And so they pass on the damage. With each generation, much of the damage gets worse. That is in spite of certain things improving, since the overall trend is a net loss of public health. There are few adults left in the room to be healthy and sane role models.

    • I support self-defense, including police officers, but that doesn’t change the racism in our society. There have been many examples of whites wielding guns in a threatening manner, including aiming guns at federal agents, without their being shot. Also, one study found that police officers were more likely to perceive blacks as holding guns when they weren’t and more likely to perceive whites as not holding guns when they were. This doesn’t prove these individual officers are consciously racist, but it does demonstrate how racial bias filters into everything.

      Even the fact that police more heavily patrol black communities and are more likely to stop and frisk blacks makes it more likely that negative interactions will happen. That is in spite of the fact that some data shows that whites are more likely to carry illegal weapons than blacks, as they are more likely to carry illegal drugs than blacks. Yet arrests for drug-related crimes disproportionately fall on blacks who carry, use and sell drugs at lower rates. It will be a long time before we finally live in a fair, equal, and just society.

      That doesn’t affect the point you’re making, though. This entire society is fucked up for everyone involved. That is particularly true for poor and working class whites, as it is for minorities. But our society is extremely stressful and harmful to the middle class as well. It’s demented and oppressive Social Darwinism. Heck, as the data on inequality shows, even the wealthy are worse off in a high inequality society — with higher rates of suicide, drug addiction, stress-related diseases, etc. That is a great insight that Keith Payne drives home in The Broken Ladder.

      I’ve made the argument that even someone like Trump is a victim of our society. The level of mental illness, disconnection from reality, and inhumanity would not be possible in a healthy society. He may live a comfortable life, but I truly doubt Trump is a happy person. It would be living hell to be trapped in his mind. The guy is sad and pathetic, having never been allowed to develop into a normal human being. It’s a horrible fate that no one should have to endure. I’m sure he makes everyone around him miserable and I’m sure his narcissistic anxiety drives everything he does. It would be a scary and paranoid experience to be that alienated from the world and people around you.

      • Narcissistic personality disorder people with it, no, not happy. They lack whole object relations almost always it’s from early childhood trauma. Narcissists can only oscillate between grandiosity and total shame, which is why they’re so aggressive in defending their ego, because attacks on their ego literally feel like life or death. There is no developed stable sense of self. Trump runs purely on feeding his ego or narcissistic supply. If acting like bernie sanders would give him power and adoration he’s so it. There is no internal sense of self and self esteem, Just continuous pursuit to feeding the ego and avoid shame at all costs.

        • I know someone who seems to be borderline personality disorder. It’s different than narcissistic personality disorder in many ways, but it does share the lack of a stable self-identity. The BPD individual has to constantly manipulate others, relationships, and situations as a way of self-management. This distorts their sense of reality as it causes their psyche to be splinted to a severe degree of lacking self-awareness.

          This person on numerous occasions has said one thing to someone and then walked into the next room where they immediately said the complete opposite, seemingly oblivious that those around them were able to connect what they said in two different rooms. But in their mind, each room apparently was a separate identity-reality with no continuity between them. It’s an amazing thing to observe in person, each time I saw it.

          This makes BPD one of the hardest psychiatric conditions to diagnose, as it makes the individual a master of interpersonal manipulation and social perception management. They can present themselves in so many ways and for short periods of time they can maintain an appearance of normalcy. This person I know claims they’ve been to a psychotherapist and that they were told they were perfectly healthy without any psychological issues. Of course, that could be a total lie. Yet, knowing how they behave, I have no doubt they could deceive a psychotherapist during the short period of a session.

          That said, I don’t know that this person is all that unhappy, even as their moods can be all over the place. They do panic when they can’t manipulate a situation in order to maintain control. But often they are so oblivious of objective reality that they can be easygoing. Real world problems like the roof of their house about to cave in has zero emotional impact on them. Their entire life revolves around their relationships and their child is treated as an extension of themselves. This has created a severely disturbed child, as one would expect.

          That causes one to think about Trump’s children. They have no hope for escaping psychological damage.

    • Even back in the 1990s in an underfunded public school in the Deep South, I was on a college track in high school with expectation pressuring me to perform and succeed. I was overwhelmed and, in struggling with a learning disability, I learned to cheat on tests just to get by.

      No one was around to really help me or offer me good advice, much less help me understand what other options I had. It was simply assumed I would go to college and, like my parents, join the ranks of the white collar middle class. It was a sink-or-swim social Darwinism, and I was sinking. It was in college that I attempted suicide.

      My parents were utterly clueless with what was going on with me and they had no sense of how crappy the world had gotten for the younger generations. They spent their childhood and youth during the highest point of the American economy when much of the New Deal was still in place.

      The world is now, in many ways, far worse. Certainly, the pressure is higher and the economy is in a shit hole, not to mention climate change, looming WWIII, etc. If kids these days have an ounce of sense, they should be feeling more pessimistic about their future prospects than even my generation was in being infamous for our pessimism.

  7. Our culture puts being on edge and pumped with cortisol as a virtue, however. Being type-A and neurotic is a virtue. If you’re chilling out, laid back, or whatver, people think something’s wrong with you. At least in the Northeast corridor in some spheres. Those adults were my role models, like my teacher who cried when our class did poorly on a test wtf. My visceral hatred for this culture runs deep

    • That is the nice thing about the Midwest. We are known for a more laidback culture. Maybe that is why the UI here is known as a party school. We believe in having a good time, even in a pandemic. It is one of the best medical schools and literary colleges in the country and world. But there doesn’t seem to be the same kind of pressure here in the way I hear about in some other places.

      Maybe it’s because the economy is always stable in a farm state, even during the 2008 recession. Unemployment and inequality are low here. So, that maybe takes off much of the pressure. A college grad with few prospects can still lead a pretty good life in Eastern Iowa. And there doesn’t seem to be any judgment and shame around here for college grads to have working class jobs.

    • It’s funny in a way. His response demonstrated that his ego was hurt. It’s possible she was right about his penis size and it hit too close to the truth. The penile patriarchy must not be challenged. Joking aside, we apparently need to train male cops to be secure in their manhood.

    • Context does matter, though. The stress is not the same everywhere.

      As I said in an above comment, being in a middle class community in a Midwest farm state is a very different experience. I grew up with white collar parents and all the expectations that go with it. But my parents as good Midwesterners, are far less class conscious and so didn’t indoctrinate my brothers and I with oppressive class identity issues.

      I’ve never felt judged for being a college dropout and, being in a middle class town, my economic opportunities are still pretty good compared to being working class in most other places. There might be a reason that, even though there are top-notch high schools in this college town, there has never been a rash of suicides.

  8. White collar urban/suburban kids committing suicide is no joke. The suicide cluster in the DC suburb mentioined here, in Palo Alto (where Stanford is, etc), etc, so much that it’s got the CDC’s attention. All white collar, high-achieving kids. This is the way that our system fails the white collar kids, in addition to the ways it fails the poor kids.

    • There should be a study about why some white collar towns have lots of suicides while others have few. Or it could be useful to simply look at the rates of various psychiatric diagnoses, psychiatric drug prescription, alcoholism, etc. I bet there would be immense variation from place to place, even when the average income level is the same. It might help to look at the economic inequality at the local and state level. It’s similar to how not all poor populations are experiencing equal levels of severe social and health problems.

    • Interestingly, for how bad our society is getting, child and teenage suicide rates are presently lower than they were for my generation back when I was a kid in the 1980s. This is true for rates of bullying, child abuse, poverty, violent crime, etc. We do forget how bad it used to be.

      The one area that is definitely worse now is physical health and at least certain areas of mental/neurocogntive health. Psychosis, for example, does seem to be on the rise. But the decrease of lead toxicity makes a massive difference. Lead really fucks up the brain.

    • Someone should make a list of the upper middle to upper class towns with the least number of suicides. Then look at various economic data, demographic data, etc to see if there is a pattern for what makes them exceptional. Maybe they’d all be clustered in particular kinds of states or mostly in particular regions of the country. I bet low inequality would be one major commonality.

    • My generation in our youth had higher suicide rates. But it was probably concentrated among the poor and working class, as also was the militarized war on drugs, lead toxicity, etc. Conditions have become shittier for those on the bottom of society, that is true. What has changed is the middle class, including the upper middle class, has begun to share in that experience of shittiness.

      The oppressed lower classes are used to such shittiness. The wealthier and more privileged classes, however, don’t know how to handle it and are less accepting of it. If you’re already on the bottom, you have no further down to go. When your middle class, though, the potential for falling into debt and poverty seems horrifying. That creates a lot of pressure that gets exaggerated by growing inequality.

    • To give you a sense of the quality of public education around here, consider Iowa City High School where my brothers went. It is in the top 10 schools in the state and has high rates of students going on to college. It regularly wins state and national awards and acknowledgments for its newspaper, performing arts, and athletics programs. Yet suicides are rare. Academic success doesn’t necessarily and inevitably correlate to high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

      • Midwestern cultures are less competitive and elitist ime. Even if high achieving. Also, the inequality is much more obvious on the coasts, even if it may be worse in the Midwest (minnesota has some of the largest racial disparities)

        • There are racial disparities around here. I’ve written about that before. But even the racial disparities are moderated by various forces, so it seems to me. When economic inequality is low, that tends to help maintain the social fabric, even when there are other problems.

      • “ Rosin’s article was thoughtful and covered many issues that have been discussed at PAUSD board meetings and on this forum. I was concerned that he published the names of the children who died. That must have caused the poor parents a lot of pain. “Mixed messages” makes a lot of good points in his/her posts regarding the tremendous pressure on our children to excel– in everything. Rosin referred to many of the students who defend the Palo Alto “pressure cooker” as suffering from “Stockholm syndrome.” Not sure that is correct but I am concerned by their selfishness, their finger-snapping rudeness at the PAUSD board meetings, and lack of empathy. These are not the kinds of young people I would want to serve with in the military or supervise as medical students on the wards. Kindness and caring for others, in the big scheme of things, is more important than the brutal competition in our Palo Alto high schools that so many students and their parents think is OK in order to be accepted at an “elite university.”

        • The ugliest and worst of capitalist realism is when it becomes entrenched as culture and internalized within the psyche. When that happens, capitalist realism fully becomes all of perceived and experienced reality, a totally-encompassing and hermetically-sealed reality tunnel.

          That is the inevitable end result of American-style social Darwinian capitalism. As a society, it has taken us a while to get to this extreme point. But what does an ideological system do when it has finally reached its furthest extreme beyond which breakdown will follow?

  9. One of the more unfortunate features of Rosin’s article is that it is partly right. Student stress is a major national problem. Yet it is a complex social and economic problem, not just a problem of parenting or teaching. Why do teens feel such an extreme urgency to succeed? Consider that over the past 30 years, most jobs have become shorter-term and lower-paid, with more uncertain hours, fewer benefits, and fewer labor protections; the competition for stable, rewarding jobs is ferocious — even for those who begin with an unfair advantage, as most of us Palo Altans do. Students cannot always name these fears, but they feel them, whenever they reflect that the answers they are bubbling in right now with their No. 2 pencils might make the difference between two very different futures. Their parents feel these fears, when stealing time from a 70-hour workweek to play with their children. Their teachers feel these fears, when scrimping from a meager salary to buy the school supplies that they hope might help their students make the cut.

    • The stress of inequality magnifies the fears. It makes the threat of falling down seem so much worse because there is so much further down to fall. This is is in spite of the fact that most of the middle class is only one or two generations from working class. They are not only disconnected from the reality of the working class but disconnected from the earlier lives of their own parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.

      Starting with GenX, the young have been economically worse off than the generations before them. Even for the working class a century ago, there was the sense of moving up in the world. To get a good factory or railroad job meant lifetime job security with great benefits, in many ways a better life than available now to most upper middle class kids. With fewer attractive opportunities, class status and privilege takes on a larger than life quality, in how it could so easily disappear with one wrong choice or accident.

  10. David Graeber just died, maybe of covid. In a video about a week ago, he said he felt a little under the weather, but he was still active on social media the day before he died. He was a well known writer, scholar, and political activist. He was heavily involved in Occupy and was the originator of “We are the 99%”.

    Some were arguing about how his theory of bullshit jobs was very much relevant to the coronavirus situation of non-essential workers. The theory was being confirmed in how many were put out of work and still remain out of work. Yet the economy continues on just fine without all those “non-essential workers”.

    It’s too bad he is no longer around to be able to comment on the world we will be entering after all of this is over.

  11. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but ever since the whole supply side ideology became ascendant (despite Reagan’s own budget director admitting it was a Trojan Horse for cutting top tax rates and disclaiming it), there has been a kind of war on professions in which there is a component of intrinsic motivation: pilots have gone from some of the highest paid and respected professionals to, many (especially small carriers) needing to hold more than one job to make ends meet. It’s happening to professors. Many people in the arts. Even many ordinary civil service judiciary and scientists. You love your job? You should be doing it for free! (Or so it has become.)

    It doesn’t help when school is such a passion killer. Kids are so busy doing what they’re told to do (some well, some not so well), they have little time for independence and self actualization.

    • It’s not a war on professions. It’s simply a war on everyone who is not filthy rich. Everyone’s life has become worse, more precarious and stressful. We now live in a world where people either are working multiple jobs just to get by or are unemployed/underemployed, the latter representing about half the working age population. What has changed is that the middle class thought that they could ignore the fate of the poor and working class, as if it had nothing to do with them.

      But it turns out what happens to the most oppressed eventually happens to everyone else. It’s similar to how the tactics and weapons of war (propaganda, counterinsurgency, chemical weapons, military vehicles, etc) eventually, after they are honed to perfection, are brought home to be used on the citizenry. The middle class was naive to believe that they could gain advantage by stepping on the backs of the oppressed to climb the socioeconomic ladder.

      • True. Coastal inequality is much more obvious. In MN, even the “bad” areas are pretty tame looking honestly. There is not as much overt blight. Also, less ostentatious wealth even. The “pretentious rich” cities like Edina, MN honestly look like regular middle or upper middle class suburbs. I was expecting someplace like the hamptons when people described it. East coast cities and CA have both opulence of opulence, and places that look like they got bombed. Sometimes within a mile or less of each other!

        • That is what makes the Midwest unique in my mind. And that culture is particularly strong in the Upper Midwest. There is far less overt class disparity in terms of conspicuous consumption and ostentatious displays of wealth. This is a nice upper middle class town and yet McMansions are rare.

          Down in South Carolina, there were lots of McMansions along with actual mansions and often right next to slums and projects. A similar thing was seen even in rural Kentucky, though far from being coastal, where an old mansion would be right next to a literal shack.

          This difference is also seen in behavior. Midwesterners take more pride in doing their own yard work. And maintaining a reasonably nice yard is considered important, even for a working class neighborhood. Garages full of yard equipment are commonplace around here.

          There are some people who hire out the mowing of their lawns in this neighborhood. But even among the upper middle class, it’s considered the norm to do at least some, if not all, of your own yard work. This is beginning to change more with some young professionals, for whatever reason.

          It might have to do with as the culture moves further away from its farming roots. Many middle class people around here grew up in rural areas, small towns, or even on farms. The farm community mindset maybe still prevails among the older generations.

          What makes the Midwest unique might lessen over time. But I bet some of the cultural habits will be retained.

          • My parents started hiring out when they got older. But still do their own gardening, moving things (That aren’t too heavy) from basements, etc. I can understand old people hiring out. Will probably ask dad to start hiring out for snow removal because older guys having heart attacks while shoveling is real. He already no longer uses shovels just the machines which is less physically demanding, but my mom and even I aren’t physically strong enough to push the machine. It’s probably heavier than we are since I tried body slamming it once and it didn’t even budge. Though with climate change it might be less necessary.

          • The Upper Midwest has less super exclusive institutions that serve as gatekeepers of a sorts. Places like the Ivy Leagues. The most nationally known schools in the region are Big Ten schools, so public schools that are good schools but not super exclusive (I don’t say this in a bad way. I have no respect for institutions purposely keeping their acceptance rates low to maintain exclusivity). Private schools like Carleton, Macalester, Grinnell don’t have the same Cache as Harvard or Amherst or basically, schools that give you the “old money” vibe.

          • My parents are getting to the point where they have to be careful with physical activity. But in their mid-70s, they are still working in the yard. It brings happiness to my mother to be able to work with plants. And both of my parents take Midwestern pride in doing their own work.

            About the Upper Midwest, like the states directly to the West of it, one thing that stands out is that this region is the highest concentration of land grant colleges in the country . Once you cross the Mississippi River and head north, land grant colleges are all over the place. Most states only have one land grant college, whereas those more Northern/Midwestern states have between 3 and 8 per state.

    • But would that culture exist if there wasn’t high inequality in California, in the United States, and in the world? I doubt it. So, in a sense it really isn’t caused by culture, if culture itself is a symptom. This might be one of those cases where ‘culture’ becomes a non-explanation, a signifier for underlying problems.

  12. Minnesota’s racial disparities are some of the worst in the nation, yet overall, MN is a well-achieving state with a relatively high life quality. What I find interesting is that although there are straight-A, high achieving types of students here, there isn’t that same sense of neuroticism, competitiveness, competition-induced insecurity, at lkeast not to the same extent, as seen on the Northeast corridor. Even the R1 state universities such as UW-Madison, UMN, etc have less competitive vibe than their eastern counterparts, yet there is no more “slacking” or whatever, it’s just less… neurotic, so to speak. I see some young people around here who were athletically and academically well achueving, many of whom now play D1 sports in college, yet lack that same pressure cooker effect that east coast kids can have. Sometimes I feel a little grief and jealousy.

    • The racial disparities might have more to do with minority populations having recently moved to these rural farm states and so brought their lower economic status with them. Since these are states with low inequality, poverty, and unemployment, those racial disparities might quickly shrink after a generation or two.

      Those minorities likely have greater opportunities in their new communities than in the communities they left, which is likely the whole reason they moved in the first place. Low inequality tends to benefit everyone, even those on the bottom of society. That is because there is more potential for upward mobility.

    • It all goes back to the WEIRD: “the Western middle class represents only about 5% of the world’s population.” It’s amazing we are still debating this. There is a reason that psychology, as with nutrition studies, is in the middle of a replication crisis. So, most psychological researchers and most subjects of psychological research are from a mere 5% of the population, a particular demographic that is most different from all other societies on the planet and across human existence. This disconnection from our shared human nature and inheritance is itself a form of mental illness.

      “In the following paragraphs, cultural variability challenging the universality assumption will be presented from two different perspectives, that of Western middle-class childcare philosophy and that of non-Western traditionally living subsistence-based farming communities (20, 21). These two groups are significant for different reasons. Western middle-class individuals, the WEIRD people (1) constitute the cradle of psychological knowledge, because the great majority of researchers as well as the great majority of research participants share this background and operate within this framework (22, 23). The premises of attachment theory are based in the childcare model of the Western middle class, i.e., families with high levels of formal education, late first parenthood, few children in the family, and nuclear, two-generation households (24). However, the Western middle class represents only about 5% of the world’s population.

      “Traditionally living farmers in non-Western countries represent about 30–40% of the world’s population and the great majority of migrants into Western countries. Due to cultural anthropologists’ and psychologists’ long-standing interest in traditional modes of life, especially in African and Asian countries, we have some knowledge about this population and their child-rearing philosophies and practices (e.g., refs. 24⇓⇓⇓–28). Non-Western traditionally living subsistence-based rural farmers generally have low degrees of formal education, women have a first child in their mid- to late teens (men are usually several years older), and families have many children and live in extended or joint multigenerational households.

      “The living circumstances and the opportunities and constraints of the two groups necessitate very different child-rearing practices, resulting eventually in different personalities. It is important to stress that the two groups do not represent a dichotomy (e.g., the West and the rest), nor are they the only two models on a worldwide scale. There are other groups with other modes of subsistence (e.g., foragers, pastorals, fishermen, and highly formally educated middle-class families in non-Western countries), about whose child-rearing philosophies and practices we have little information to date (21, 25, 28⇓–30). Since, as reported by Henrich et al. (1), there are profound differences in psychological functioning between the WEIRD population and all other groups for whom information is available, it would be very surprising if their childcare patterns did not differ. The study of diverse cultural groups is of utmost importance if we aim at an inclusive developmental science with relevance for application. In the following paragraphs, the defining components of attachment theory are reviewed.”

    • This came up in a book I’m reading, Thought and Language by Lev Vygotsky (1934). It was written earlier last century, a time when the anthropologists Franz Boas and his students were challenging WEIRD assumptions. Vygotsky is consdered the father of Soviet psychology and did most of his work prior to Stalin fully taking over. His theory, like that of the German-born American anthropologist Franz Boas, is social constructivist.

      He writes about Piaget’s view of individualism and subjectivity as fundamental human nature, and so relating to others and perceiving reality is supposedly a later stage of child development. The individual child is claimed to live in a dream state of imagination and fantasy, of desire and wish-fulfillment, basically an ‘autistic’ state of pure emotional reactivity, isolated and disconnected from everything around them (by the way, the term ‘autistic’ was used more generally back then).

      Vygotsky disagreed and thought humans were first and foremost social and only learned to become individualistic later. Of course, the difference in the two theories comes do a difference of cultural ideologies, capitalism versus socialism. But it’s interesting that for all his influence Piaget’s view of individuality now comes across as simplistic and naive. Then again, as Vygotsky argues, maybe such hyper-individuality disconnected from reality is the norm for American children or at least for middle class white American children.

      “The second point calling for reappraisal and limitation is the applicablity of Piaget’s findings to children in general. His experiments led him to believe that the child was impervious to experience. Piaget draws an analogy that we find illuminating: Primitive man, he says, learns from experience only in a few special, limited cases of practical activity—and he cites as examples of these rare cases agriculture, hunting, and manufacturing: “But even this momentary and partial contact with facts does not react in any way upon the orientation of [primitive man’s] thought. This applies even more strongly to the child. . . .” (Piaget, 1969, p. 203).

      “We would not call agriculture and hunting negligible contacts with reality in the case of primitive man; they are practically his whole existence. Piaget’s view may hold true for the particular group of children he studied, but it is not of universal significance. He himself tells us the cause of the special quality of thinking he observed in his children: “On the contrary, the child never really comes into contact with things because he does not work. He plays with them, or simply believes them without trying to find the truth” (Piaget, 1969, p. 203).

      “The developmental uniformities established by Piaget apply to the given milieu, under the conditions of Piaget’s study. They are not laws of nature, but are historically and socially determined. Piaget has already been criticized by Stern for his failure sufficiently to take into account the importance of the social situation and milieu. Whether the child’s talk is more egocentric or more social deepens not only on his age but also on the surrounding conditions. Piaget observed children at play together in a particular kindergarten, and his coefficients are valid only for this special milieu.

      “When a child’s activity consists entirely of play, it is accompanied by extensive soliloquizing. Marta Muchow of Hamburg pointed out that the structural organization of activity in kindergarten is of decisive importance. In Genevan as well as in Montessori kindergartens, where children simply play with each other, the coefficient of egocentric speech is higher than that in German kindergartens, where there is more group activity.”

    • The use of chemical weapons on citizenry, chemical weapons designed for war, is one of the many obvious signs we live in a police state. That would never happen in an actual democracy. Yet the right-wingers who go on about ‘liberty’ are the first to support the most oppressive forms of government, as long as it is turned on their perceived enemies.

  13. One thing that stuck out to me about MN is the relatively high quality of life (though with big racial disparities) and that there are many “high achieving” people, kids and adults, but there isn’t the same neurotic competitiveness that tends to be the case in the northeast. Even the R1 schools like UW-Madison and UMN seem to lack that same sense of competitive urgency compared to their peer schools back East. And these places aren’t any less achieving or quality.

    • Even with disparities, the Upper Midwest has far less desperate poverty and more public funding. So, even with racial disparities, minorities are less likely to be unemployed, trapped in impoverished communities, have children in underfunded schools, lack access to healthcare, etc. Places with lower inequality in general simply have less stress and conflict.

      Plus, the rural farm states are some of the last places in the country where one can still find smaller, healthy communities where people know each other. Despite the decline of small family farms, much of the Iowa population remains in smaller communities. Even our college towns are smaller. Humans evolved for small communities.

  14. Well rat race culture that is driving white collar kids to suicide, it is adaptive in contexts where there is lots of competition for few resources. Problem is that these kids aren’t in that context even if at home level they feel the inequality. Rat races can feel really pointless when part of you sees that there isn’t a direct survival point to it. You’re not doing this to get out of literal poverty. Even if at some level you’re doing it to stay out of poverty, but kids aren’t that perceptive yet.

    • Exactly! All that these kids experience is the intense pressure of expectations, anxiety, and fear. Everything feels exaggerated under high inequality, social Darwinism, hyper-individualism, and capitalist realism. The whole world becomes a threatening place and the worst part is that the threat feels all-encompassing and vague, impossible to pinpoint. One simply feels ill at ease. A sense of social trust and social support goes missing. The isolated struggle of the individual is all that is left with a win-or-lose culture and hence the perceived need to win at all costs. The stakes feel high, even when they’re not.

  15. One thing I’ve told my immigrant parents is that survival mode is just that, survival mode. It’s not a virtue. I said so since many immgirants have a “I sacrificed so much for you” “you have food and clothes why are you struggling” mindset towards there struggling second-gen kids. Humans have deeper needs than material ones and safety. I mostly said that because immigrants tend to operate under that mode, push their kids under a survival mindset, etc. As a second-gen, there are traumas unique to immigrants. Immigrating is inherently traumatic. Many second-gens have a “I don’t know why I feel the way I do about myself, my parents love me and sacrificed for me I should be grateful and in debt to them” and I go over Maslow’s hierarchy with them. We end up realizing that although the [arents sacrificed to gie them a materially comfortable life compared to them, the second-gens were often emotionally neglected and their higher needs were neglected.

    • Immigration tends to destroy the larger social bonds and networks of traditional kinship and community, religion and culture. The costs are immensely high. It was the same traumatic transition that happens with internal migration as well. Most white Americans left rural communities only a few generations ago and black Americans only about a half century ago. Those wounds are still fresh in the American psyche. Urbanization is never an easy transition for any society, but the difference for Europe is many countries there experienced mass urbanization centuries ago. It’s much more recent in the United States. This is exacerbated by the constant influx of dislocated and traumatized immigrants, not to mention refugees, and their unrooted children and grandchildren. This the basis of American culture with its culture-annihilating and soul-destroying melting pot.

      • Yes. My parents came from East Asia which urbanized even later than the US. Within the last 50 years or so. My grandparents were the first gen to urbanize and finish the equivalent of grade school, and we were early ones. We (East Asians) are a traumatized people. We have a lot of unsavory stereotypes on being ruthlessly competitive, status obsessed, depressed, etc etc in the US, but we are a traumatized people. We have 10 million stereotypes about having a tiger parent rat-race mentality towards education (as a means of getting ahead), yet as recently as 50 years ago, many of us were illiterate and didn’t even go to school, 100 years ago most of us were illeterate and lived in villages, as we did for thousands of years.

    • One of the comments stated that a similar pattern is seen with the Irish and other Celtic populations. I’d say that kind of sociopolitical history and psychological profile is often found in any territory that has been highly contested over the centuries. There are many places like that such as in the Levant.

      Both Koreans and the Irish were forced into that position with empires seeking to colonize them while being treated as inferior, often violently oppressed and impoverished. The kinds of places even more known for this are ancient borderlands, such as where the Scots-Irish originated and also the diverse populations in Alsace-Lorraine.

      • There’s a stereotype that koreans are intense while Thais are easygoing. I believe a lot of stereotypes around stoicism are less applied to southeast Asians and Filipinos at least among outsiders who care to differentiate between East and southeast Asians.

        My mom’s stereotypes are that Japanese people are violent (it not overtly now, the potential is lurking just below. And their comic books) and koreans are emotionally volatile and passionate. Southern Chinese are short and look more southeast asian or even somewhat African while northern Chinese are taller and eat more wheat.

        • I read this comment again and noticed your mentioning wheat. So, northern Chinese and northern Europeans eat more wheat and are taller. I’m not sure about the Chinese, but a complicating factor for northern Europeans is that they also eat a lot of animal foods: meat, fish, and dairy. Germans are known for their rich deserts that are sugary, although they also are full of nutrient-dense animal fats or at least were traditionally.

          On the other hand, in spite of northern Europeans now being known as among the tallest in the world, not that long ago some national populations there were instead known for being short. It could have been shortness caused by the early industrial diet, as a lot of health problems emerged early on in the 1800s when grain yields increased and processed foods came on the market, and that only worsened with the invention of industrial seed oils in the late 1800s.

          If you go much further back, as I recall, many accounts from southern Europeans (Greeks and Romans) described Germans and Scandinavians as towering and healthy people. Maybe what changed was that the industrial diet took hold very quickly in certain countries, specifically where industry developed most strongly because of local conditions (coal deposits, waterways, etc). Also, it could have related to industrial agriculture when wheat production increased.

          As a comparison, ancient Egyptians might’ve been the first people to eat wheat as the main staple of their diet. Wheat was hard to grow in most places, but the fertile farmland along the Nile was perfect for it. The mummified remains from millennia ago show that it led to the diseases of civilization long before most populations saw such health declines. All the estrogen-like compounds in wheat were also causing Egyptian men to grow man-boobs.

          The Egyptians couldn’t afford to eat too many of the farm animals they raised. The pigs, for example, were necessary in their use for stamping down the seeds into the soil. Most of the animal foods the Egyptians ate were wild birds and fish they caught, but this was limited in the diet. The Egyptians were basically following a Mediterranean version of the USDA food pyramid.

          Opposite of this, when Americans and Europeans finally got dependable wheat surpluses in the early 1800s, most of the wheat was fed to cattle rather than humans. It’s similar to how Okinawans would feed most of their sweet potatoes to pigs, until the pigs were killed in WWII and so increased the sweet potatoes in their diet. Or think about here in Iowa where most corn is feed corn. Even for grains grown for human consumption, most of what is grown (chaff, stalks, etc) is inedible to humans and so is fed to farm animals.

          In China, was most wheat traditionally used to feed farm animals or humans? And has that changed over time? As in Europe and America, are there a lot of cattle in norther China where most wheat is grown?

  16. A lot of second-gen kids (East, South, Asian or any ethnicity) feel emotionally neglected by their parents, and the response to this is often some variant of cultural differences, that E/S Asian parents show love through actions like providing stuff, not verbally or emotionally. But is this really true? Is this cultural, or intergenerational trauma? The stereotype that E and especially South Asians do not value emotions or mental health, that emotional expression is devalued and suppression encouraged. Only, is that actually cultural? East and South Asia both have very rich spiritual and cultural histories that often center emotional experiences and learning to work with emotions, in ways that even the West is catching onto (mindfulness, meditation), that do not seek to negate negative emotions like the Western mindset does, but to non-judgementally accept both the positive and negative, and to integrate every aspect of one’s being, mind-body connection. Additionally, the comment that Second-gen EAst/South asian kids feel emotionally neglected and emotional distance with their parents and that this is just a cultural divide, except that babies all over the world, regardless of background, become distressed when their mom gives them poker-face instead of mirroring their baby, and the fact that Eastern cultures are often high context cultures in which non-verbal excpression and context is salient, arguably moreso than in the West. Basically, it’s stereotyped that Asian parents lack emotional intelligence and that this is cultural, except that there is 0 indication that Asian cultures are not emotionally intelligent. It’s more likely, again, immigrant trauma.

    The Harlow monkey experiment, where the baby monkeys ended up preferring cloth mom over wire mom even though wire mom had the milk, can’t be said to be cultural when the subjects weren’t even humans. While cultures vary in emotional expression, the basic human emotional expressions are universal, and I do not believe that babies of any culture thrive in an environment where their emotional needs, but not their physical needs, are neglected.

    • Northern Europeans and their descendants in the Upper Midwest are regularly accused of being emotionally unexpressive. And these stereotypes were being written about in ancient Greece who thought the cold also made the Germans uncouth and slow-witted.

      The same tendency to stereotype goes for southern populations. Of course, the ancient Greeks thought they were the perfect balance between the supposed psychological-behavioral extremes of northern and southern climes. As I recall, Herodotus wrote about this. There wasn’t really racism as we think of it in the ancient world, as they had no notion of genetics. Instead, it was assumed that culture and personality were determined by the natural environment.

      It’s similar to how, in so many cities, the south side of town is considered low-class — the wrong side of the tracks, often literally as in this town. South of the railroad tracks are where working class whites and blacks have lived in Iowa City or at least that is how it has been perceived, although it’s not quite accurate.

      Methinks that people have strange notions about the compass points. China is a fairly northern country. The real test is do southern Chinese perceive northern Chinese as less emotionally expressive, intelligent, or whatever. A similar test could be done across Asia in general. How do northern Asians and southern Asians perceive each other?

      There might be some truth to this pattern. Consider far northern cultures like the Inuit who are infamous for their emotional repression. For reasons of communal survival, the Inuit have to strictly avoid conflict and division as much as possible. It is understandable that a harsher environment might lead to a harsher personality. On the opposite end, the Piraha live in abundance and ease, and their personality is supposedly easygoing and friendly.

      So, it might have nothing or little to do with Chinese-Americans as immigrants. But immigration obviously does affect the experience of so many modern populations. I don’t know if anyone has researched this.

  17. Lmao this is hilarious. There is nothing that is wrong with asian families and lack of emotional intelligence. You go to asia and people are very emotional and tell each other sappy shit all the time. Asian cultures are majority high-context cultures- they rely a lot on things like body language and eye contact to communicate, as well as very subtle language use. All of those things indicate high emotional intelligence.

    What lies at the heart of the infamous lack of emotional intelligence in asians is the class struggle of immigrant families. Don’t spread bullshit about how asian culture is inherently lacking in emotional intelligence. You’re stereotyping yourself you fool. You get the stereotypes about how asians are robots from class struggle. Look at Fu Er Dai and their families- majority of the time they have no trouble expressing their emotions or recognizing them in others

    • The high-context issue would probably relate to collectivist/communal attitudes. There has long been stereotypes of Western individualism versus Eastern collectivism. But there is research that has shown nuance in this pattern. It turns out that, in the regions of China that grow wheat like the West, people are more individualistic. It’s only with rice farming that communal culture is more common.

      This makes sense once the agricultural differences are understood. A wheat farm can be maintained by a single farmer or at least a single nuclear family of farmers. On the other hand, a rice farm requires far more people, probably multiple families or else an large kinship group.

      Rice-growing was also common in West Africa. Maybe that is why American blacks remain more family-oriented and community-oriented than most American whites. And as rice-growing was brought to the southern United States, that could have influenced the culture, particularly in states like South Carolina that both grew rice and were majority black.

      Cotton farms were similar in the past. To pick cotton meant a lot of workers having to work closely together. That was true until quite recently. Many older blacks grew up picking cotton. Hispanics as farmworkers picking fruits and vegetables, another communal activity requiring lots of workers, also have maintained a stronger sense of family and community.

      Southern agriculture, because of plantations, has more of a history of communal organization. My sense is small family farms survived longer in the South, as opposed to how big ag was able to take over most Midwestern farmland. Extended kinship ties have also remained more common in the South.

      As most people move away from farm life and are urbanized, these cultural and regional differences will soften. Industrial work forces a greater commonality across populations and so will tend to create a more common culture over time. We are already seeing this change in many industrialized cultures as national identities replaces regional identities. Industrialization, like wheat farming, also reinforces individualism.

  18. There’s cultural differences in emotional expression, but while some cultures will be weirded out if you smile or wave at strangers, no culture percieves a sincere smile as cold, or an angry face as warm.

    • Here is something funny. Here in Iowa, there is a common low-key behavior that one sees in rural areas. Someone passing by, often in a pickup truck, will simply and barely move a couple of fingers on their steering wheel as the equivalent of a wave, or maybe they’ll slightly nod their head. For someone not familiar with the culture, such a subtle gesture might go entirely unnoticed. It’s very downplayed. Iowans, to my mind, are very friendly people.

      But they don’t have that exaggerated formality of the Deep South that, to a Midwesterner, can feel superficial and false or even grating. Midwestern kindness (Iowa Nice, Minnesota Nice, etc) is more laidback and less in your face. Maybe like the Chinese it requires more context of general demeanor and behavior. It’s the simple things of basic courtesy such as someone opening the door for you, even if they don’t necessarily smile or say anything.

    • I can think of experiencing rural Iowans as friendly, despite their not tending to express broad smiles. Human warmth is always seen in the eyes. Maybe that is what feels false and superficial about some Southerners.

      Smiling with the mouth is used a lot as a formal expression, often as deference or simply a social expectation, without it being a genuine expression of good feeling. That might have to do with the South being a class-based culture. Blacks, for example, learn that smiling is a way to defuse potential conflict — a standard behavior for primates but exaggerated where inequality is high and class identity is entrenched.

      Midwesterners feel less need to defer to others or defuse conflict. Research actually shows that it is Southerners, in their emotional effusiveness, who also are more emotionally repressed. That is demonstrated in the studies showing that Southerners will hold in irritation until they suddenly blow up, but before blowing up they might be smiling. Northerners, instead, will express their irritation immediately but less intensely.

    • Like Okinawa, WWII had a profound affect on Japan. Both places, after much violence and trauma, came under American control and influence. Before and after the war, the cultural changes were significant. I bet Japan used to be far less individualistic. Then again, almost everywhere in the world, including in the West, used to be less individualistic. But such changes seem to have been particularly quick and dramatic in Japan.

    • Tokyo has an interesting vibe. It is fast paced, but does not feel particularly “keeping up with the joneses” the way Seoul or parts of NYC, CA, and other Northeastern US feel. People can be like “working bees” in the metro but it doesn’t feel like it’s particularly comparative, rather people seem lost in themselves, more.

      • It seems like there should be a way to modernize, urbanize, and industrialize a society without creating all of the stress, conflict, anxiety, isolation, destruction of community, mental illness, pollution, highrise canyons, inequality, poverty, ghettos, militarized policing, general oppressiveness, and reactionary vibe.

  19. Within China, Shanghai-ers stereotyped as high-Maintains ce and assholes in the diva way. Beijingers as nice, northeasterners as rugged and hot-blooded, southerners as more scholarly, etc.

    I have an idea that cities whose primary industry is finance will have more competitive cultures. NYC and Hong Kong are next level competitive.

    • It would be useful to have more data on the differences in those populations. Not only diet, nutritional levels/deficiencies, and metabolic health but also physical activity, smoking rates, parasite load, etc.

      One specific detail might be what are the regions that grow wheat, rice, corn, etc. It would also be helpful to know the amount of processed foods, starchy carbs, and added sugar; specifically in comparison to the amount of animal foods.

      The China Study did find differences in various populations. As I recall, one of the inconvenient results that the researchers ignored was that the healthier Chinese ate more meat. But I don’t know what region high meat consumption was concentrated.

  20. What is interesting about facial growth is that although poor facial growth is more common now, average height has also increased. Weston Price’s subjects probably varied in average height, and since it was the 30’s, average height has increased since then. In MN, although poor facial growth seems so common, 5’10+ women (the diffefrence in average height in men doesn’t seem as striking) are definitely more common than back East.

    • Sally Fallon Morrell and Mary Enig, both influenced by Weston A. Price, have come up with one explanation. It’s some combination of a diet higher in protein and lower in fat. The lack of fat means vitamin A deficiency and lean meat will further deplete vitamin A. Lack of vitamin a can relate to many health problems, from bad eyesight to neurocognitive problems, but it is also might be associated with tall, lankiness with bad bone development.

      “One aspect of vitamin A that deserves more emphasis is its role in protein utilization. Kwashiorkor is as much a disease of vitamin-A deficiency, leading to impaired protein absorption, as it is a result of absence of protein in the diet. High-protein, lowfat diets are especially dangerous because protein consumption rapidly depletes vitamin-A stores. Children brought up on high-protein, lowfat diets often experience rapid growth. The results—tall, myopic, lanky individuals with crowded teeth, and poor bone structure, a kind of Ichabod Crane syndrome—are a fixture in America. High-protein, lowfat diets can even cause blindness as occurred once in Guatemala where huge amounts of instant nonfat dry milk were donated in a food relief program.11 The people who consumed the dried milk went blind. Indigenous peoples understood this principle instinctively, which is why they never ate lean meat and always consumed the organ meats of the animals that served them for food.

      “Growing children actually benefit from a diet that contains considerably more calories as fat than as protein.12 A high-fat diet that is rich in vitamin A will result in steady, even growth, a sturdy physique and high immunity to illness.”

      “I am one of those tall, lanky, myopic people with crowded teeth and poor bone structure. Always was so as a kid, needed all kinds of bone supports: teeth braces, mouth palate expanders, orthodics for flat feet, and worst of all, back brace and spinal fusion for a spine that grew so quickly it curved into scoliosis.

      “Today I am 5’10” and still very thin. I can attest that when I was growing up my father has always been one of those “health-conscious” individuals who eats low-fat everything and high carbs, so I was raised on lots of lean meat, lots of reduced fat dairy, and cereals. Suffered terribly most of my life from all kinds of illness, allergies, and aches until I discovered Sally Fallon in my 20’s and went on a primal type of diet low in carbs and high in animal fats. I am healthier today than I’ve ever been, yet far from ideal…”

  21. Myopia could be due to computer screens or triggered by them. I became nearsighted around the time I started watching TV regularly as a kid, and now, viewing computer and smartphone screens. I think stress can also contribute. I’ve been nearsighted since I was a kid. My parents had normal vision as kids, but my mom went through a stressful period that included poor health in her early 20s and became nearsighted. My dad had 20/15 vision most of his liufe but now needs reading glasses. During a prolonged stressful time around 2 years ago, my eyesight also declined.

    • I got myopia in 3rd grade. We didn’t have a computer and, since we didn’t have cable, television was also limited. The main thing that happened that year was my family moved. So, it might have been stress-related. That was also when we moved near the corner grocery store where I bought candy with my paper route money. So, my sugar intake went up.

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