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.


10,253 thoughts on “Open Thread

    • Immigrants often have a higher moral character than native citizens, related to how immigrants are more likely to believe in American ideals and the American dream. It can take hard work, perseverance, and courage to leave one’s home, immigrate over long distances, and sometimes risk one’s life in the process.

  1. The continued cultural attack on both the mature Feminine and Masculine in every arena, including psychology, leads to absurd abuses, such as the obsessive Saturnine and Procrustean taxonomies of psychiatric labeling as well as the violation and persecution of the Feminine whose nature it is grow and flow outside of structures and strictures. The Feminine in each of us, and in the world, does not need containment, it longs for river beds, for form to support it in following its flow Instead we have dammed and damned the flow of the Feminine. Incidentally, resisting containment, control and imprisonment, like the notion of Histrionic Wandering Womb we’ve all been horrified by, resisting the command to accept what one is expected to accept, to feel what one is expected to feel, to behave the way one is expected to behave, are the core of “BPD” symptomatology under the surgical dismemberment of DSM psychiatric diagnosis. “BPD” is an attack on the Mature Archetypal Feminine (just as “ODD,” also a diagnosis run rampant, is an attack on the Mature Archetypal Masculine).

    When the Mature Masculine is attacked in a culture a violent patriarchal structure managed by infantile men arises and this Lord of the Flies culture institutionalizes violent violation and control of the Feminine. Psychiatric diagnosis, the medical model in psychiatry, and STEM in general, are at the front lines in the siege on Psyche herself, on that face of the Feminine that longs for, invites and compels depth and penetration into the Shadow, because such depth perception will lead to cultural maturation and the end to the violent, violating infantile Police and Surveillance State, and the end of the cold-blooded goose-stepping Nanny State.

    Locating the notion of trauma at the heart of “BPD” is a very healing act in itself, as trauma elicits compassion and moves to action in the service of those stuck in trauma. I also think that the emerging understanding of the role developmental trauma plays in all psychopathological processes is primally important in our field. I don’t think it’s important just because focusing on trauma will help us prevent and heal it, but because it will help us understand its inherence in our being an din the world, and will help us understand its purpose and function, which I think you, as authors, hint at, by suggesting that trauma shows us not only that we are not in control, but that something is is in control. Trauma leads to faith/pistis?

    • That person lost me in their argument. Personality research does show that testing results correlates to many different things. That is just info and it is another question how that info is used.

      Being against personality tests because some companies use them is like being against healthcare because some companies require physicals. Sure, a company may not hire you because you are obese and to some degree the definition of obesity is arbitrary. If a job requires a worker to be physically, that sucks for the overweight person. But I don’t see how blaming the physical or the definition of obesity is going to help anyone who is looking for work.

      This is all the more reason to support a universal basic income or its equivalent. Then it fucking wouldn’t matter because greater leverage would be given to propsective employees. Instead of the employer making demands of you, you could make demands of them. Heck, you could even require all potential employers to take a personality test, if it made you happy.

    • I’m in favor of learning from the indigenous, both those in the past and those still existing in the present. That is why I think cultural genocide and linguistic genocide is horrific, even when a population physically survives.

      When traditions are lost and community destroyed, the soul of a people can be killed. That has been my argument about what happened to most Europeans when their tribal lifestyle was wiped out wholesale in a relatively short period of time.

      Even ignoring that, the forgetting of indigenous knowledge is something we can’t afford at a time when we need new understanding in how to live on this planet.

    • In this age of easier access to media, every language should have media shows where it can be heard. That is assuming there is an audience that would watch it. Despite the media saturation in much of the world, there are still places where media is largely irrelevant such as among isolated rural tribes and communities. But that still leaves many people who do have access to media while not having access to any shows in their primary language.

    • Social identities can be odd at times. As a mixed ancestry American, I often call myself a mutt or a mongrel. I have too many separate lines of ancestry to identify with a single ethnicity or maybe even race, considering I found one line that may go back to Africa. But I understand and sympathize with the desire to belong to a social identity, a perfectly normal human impulse.

      It’s just a bit strange how specific social identities take form. Many Native Americans are of mixed ancestry but it’s not typical for them to think of themselves as mestizo or anything similar. And there are millions of other Americans with some indigenous ancestry who would neither identify as Native American or mestizo. Sometimes it seems almost arbitrary how people self-identify, such as choosing which side of their mixed ancestry/race family to claim.

      I prefer a more cultural perspective. Most fundamentally, you are as you were raised. As such, I can’t claim to be culturally German/French/Alsatian, Scottish/Dutch, English, or whatever else (even if my genealogy is completely accurate, which is always questionable). I’m a white American because that is how my culture taught me to think of myself and it is hard to think of myself otherwise. Proving that one of my lines really was from Africa wouldn’t suddenly cause me to feel African or black.

      That is why I find cultural genocide to be a sad fate. It’s when families, communities, and entire populations lose a key part of their social identity. That happened to my family many times over. So, more than anything, I’m just an American mutt. The closest I come to feeling some sense of genuine belonging is in my identity as a Midwesterner.

    • There was a lot of migration of indigenous tribes in the Americas. It’s rather silly to claim a tribe as belonging to a specific country whose borders only formed in recent history. In particular, the tribes of North America certainly moved between the present territories of Canada, United States, and Mexico.

    • In general, when various other environmental factors are controlled for, the race disparity in average IQ shrinks. There is no proven genetic evidence of the race IQ disparity. Besides, it is shrinking quickly as average black IQ catches up as environmental conditions have improved. As far as that goes, if we controlled for all factors, the disparity would probably also disappear between on average lower IQ racists and on average higher IQ non-racists.

    • I read Chomsky. He has much understanding of what is wrong with the world. But when it comes down to taking political action, he tells Americans to vote for the lesser evil Democratic Party.

      All of his understanding is intellectual. It doesn’t personally affect him, factories closing down in the Rust Belt or climate change-caused refugee crises in the Middle East. He has even admitted this in saying that it isn’t about him personally and he gets defensive anytime someone attempts to connect the personal, such as pointing out that he is fairly wealthy and lives in a wealthy community.

      So, there is no radical urgency that he feels. Having spent his entire life as a respectable figure in academia, he is part of the comfortable classes. And he will likely be dead before any of these problems become serious enough to be felt by those in the comfortable classes. Personally, it’s not his problem. That isn’t to say he doesn’t care, but caring doesn’t motivate one when it is utterly detached from one’s lived experience.

      Until people like Chomsky and Democratic voters start to suffer horrible consequences of this system, nothing will change. Intellectual understanding, though necessary, is not sufficient.

  2. Unfortunately, few journalists seem up to the task.

    “This seems particularly applicable today, when many of us are asking “Why?” of problems that would benefit from more practicable adverbs. My personal favorite is “How?” And if journalists are under fire these days, it’s because they have an advantage over historians, which makes them more dangerous. They can implicitly raise, if not answer, the question that matters the most: “What now?””


    Here’s my question: Have any of these kneeling NFL football players ever desecrated the National Anthem mockingly like Roseanne Barr, then grabbed their crotches and then spit? Watch the video below.

    Until Trump supporters condemn Roseanne–which conservative Christians did en masse back in 1990 when the show was considered to vulgar and un-Christian to watch, unlike many of today’s Trump-endorsing conservative Christians, who see only politics–until they condemn Roseanne for her desecration of the National Anthem, they should shut up about NFL player protesting, silently and peacefully, the unequal treatment of African-Americans in this country at the hands of certain law enforcement officials.

  4. The simple act of separating an infant from its mother can cause not only lifelong problems but epigenetic changes.

    “Of course, children are not monkeys, or any other type of animal. But there are lessons we can draw from other species. The Central American children separated from their parents will not be completely isolated as Harlow’s monkeys were. Nor will they be isolated for months. Still, there is evidence that even brief maternal separation in young mammals can be detrimental. In a recent study, Sarine Janetsian-Fritz and colleagues removed 9-day old rats from their mothers for 24 hours (Janetsian-Fritz et al 2018). They found that even this brief, but stressful, separation had long-lasting behavioral and physical effects, including mild memory impairment, less communication between brain regions, suggesting “increased probability of developing psychopathology later in life.” In another study, young infant rats that received less care and grooming from their mothers were more fearful and anxious. These effects were lifelong and were caused in part by epigenetic changes to genes affecting their glucocorticoid receptors (Weaver et al 2004). Similarly, maternal-infant separation also affected the epigenome in rhesus monkeys, with different amounts of DNA methylation in both prefrontal cortex and T cells (Provençal et al 2012).

    “In children, neglect and a lack of adult attachment in infancy has been associated with a range of developmental delays. Romanian institutionalized children who lacked attachment with an adult since infancy showed delays in cognitive function, motor development, language, as well as socio-emotional behaviors. They also had more psychiatric disorders and altered of EEG patterns. Fortunately, some of these deficits were reversible if children were placed into quality foster care at younger ages within a critical age of development.

    “However, for children who face a range of adverse experiences, some effects can last for a lifetime. In one sample of 132 older adults (average age of 69), adverse childhood experiences – including abuse, loss of a parent, or lack of at least one close relationship with an adult – were correlated with a range of physiological effects including shorter telomeres, which is associated with premature aging (Kiecoty-Glaser et al 2011). British and Finnish children who were evacuated to safer areas during World War 2, but who were separated from their families, grew up to have higher risk of depression and clinical anxiety (Pesonen et al 2007; Rusby and Tasker 2009), and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (Alastalo et al 2009).”


    “The police are an increasingly militarized arm of an increasingly fascist state, hired thugs for capitalist oligarchs, the modern-day version of slave catchers, a terrorist organization. When I came to see this, then abolishing the police didn’t seem so crazy anymore.”
    From John Halstead

    “In England, a century of strong government has developed what O. Henry called the stern and rugged fear of the police to a point where any public protest seems an indecency. But in France everyone can remember a certain amount of civil disturbance, and even the workmen in the bistros talk of la revolution—meaning the next revolution, not the last one. The highly socialised modern mind, which makes a kind of composite god out of the rich, the government, the police and the larger newspapers, has not been developed—at least not yet.”
    — George Orwell (1932)


    A group of corrupt police officers on Chicago’s South Side had been framing and extorting residents for years. Then they planted drugs on the wrong people: Ben Baker and his girlfriend Clarissa Glenn.

    In The New Yorker, Jennifer Gonnerman describes how Glenn’s determination to exonerate her husband helped build a case against police sergeant Ronald Watts and his brazenly crooked cronies. Glenn’s campaign consumed her, and Baker’s absence left their children without a father for too many years. Not only was Baker eventually freed, the state attorney overturned many of Watts’ other tainted convictions. One difficult question remains: how many more innocent people still wallow in prison?

    • That is the first time I’ve heard of that. I don’t use sunscreen very often. But my dad does because he had skin cancer. What is concerning is that I’ve seen many mothers slather their children with sunscreen.

  7. “It’s hard to know, but I mean if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists or self-described socialists, and I’m asked ‘Are you a capitalist?’ and I say, ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability.’ You know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist!’ ”

    Nearly six-in-ten Democratic primary voters believe socialism has a ‘positive impact on society,’ according to polling conducted this month for the right-leaning issue advocacy group American Action Network and provided to POLITICO.

    Democratic voters in every age group, every gender, and every race view socialism favorably, according to the early February telephone poll of 1,000 likely Democratic primary voters fielded by Republican firm OnMessage Inc. and commissioned by AAN, which is tied to the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC dedicated to House Republicans. And among people 45 and under — a group that has helped power Sanders’ primary performances — the ideology is preferred to capitalism by a margin of 46 percent to 19 percent. U…I

    While socialism prevailed over capitalism among voters in every demographic, its smallest margins came from two of the groups with which Clinton has been strongest: voters over 66 years of age (36 percent preferred socialism, 28 percent sided with capitalism) and African-Americans (40 percent to 27 percent).

    The ideology is viewed favorably by 43 percent of the primary voters, and unfavorably by 30 percent, implying an approval rating of +13. Capitalism’s favorability, according to the survey, is +17.

    Democratic socialism is a movement most often associated with former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In Iowa, however, chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America are attracting not only former Bernie-or-Bust voters but also some former supporters of Hillary Clinton.

    Three new Democratic Socialist groups have formed in Iowa since the election, said Chris Lammer-Heindel, a professor of Loras College in Dubuque. He’s one of the leaders of the Dubuque County DSA, which just gained chapter status from the national organization. A central Iowa group is close to chapter status as well, and a third group is organizing in the Quad Cities. […]

    Joe Ellerbroek of Urbandale, an organizer for the central Iowa group, said it’s attractive in part because members can decide whether to operate inside or outside of a political party. Some members are Democrats, others Green Party, others independent or part of another alternative party.

    “I think the flexibility is attractive because we are definitely in strange times, and it feels like there’s no clear-cut solution,” Ellerbroek said. “Something clever about the DSA is its inside-outside approach to the Democratic Party.”

  8. What if there is no single reality that gets maintained? That is to bring up the suspicion that all of us in all societies house multiple worlds.

    Many argue that dissociation only happens with trauma. But the anthropological record indicates dissociation is more common, an easier observation to make of other cultures than one’s own. This is because all memory is state-dependent. And each state is its own reality, in terms of the bundle theory of mind/self.

    Some of these state-dependent realities are private and others public. Some may be dominant for much of a society (e.g., the Western paradigm of individualism) while others might be limited to a sub-population (e.g., Tanya Luhrmann’s study of Christians who speak to God). But there are still others that operate in more complex ways such as indigenous people who change names and identities when meeting a spirit or having some transformative experience.

    Maintaining realities is part and parcel of shifting realities. You could think of this in terms of Robert Anton Wilson’s discussion of reality tunnels, as epistemological anarchism. There are always multiple realities to choose from. But I’m taking this a step further by suggesting that multiple realities are constantly operating and maybe to varying degrees overlapping.

  9. This is an interesting personal essay. It reminds me of my teenage niece who started to occasionally attend church with her grandparents, even though she was raised as an atheist and her mom is highly judgmental of religion.

    For my niece, it probably is an act of rebellion related to her parents’ divorce. But the lady who wrote the following piece seems to have had rather supportive parents for their being agnostic.

  10. As a product of the WEIRDest of WEIRD societies, this writing speaks to moments in my life when I felt this way. But having gained some knowledge of non-WEIRD, I now realize how bizarrely WEIRD is this sense of isolated individualism. Isolated individualism no longer feels compelling to me, in that it isn’t how I presently experience the world. I’m not sure it ever really made sense to me, even as it was what was reinforced in me by this culture.

    “when I imagined that on seeing his pictures I should get a clue to the understanding of his strange character I was mistaken. They merely increased the astonishment with which he filled me. I was more at sea than ever. The only thing that seemed clear to me – and perhaps even this was fanciful – was that he was passionately striving for liberation from some power that held him. But what the power was and what line the liberation would take remained obscure. Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown to them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house”

    W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

  11. I’d agree with that. But I’d add that all of the ruling elite are cunts, including the Democrats: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Rachel Maddow, etc. And anyone who makes excuses for them is a cunt.

    There is way too much evil bullshit going on: racist tough-on-crime laws, war on drugs, mass incarceration, and privatized prisons; military-industrial complex, wars of aggression, carpet bombing, torture prisons, drone assassinations, and CIA interventionism; big money lobbyists, regulatory capture, corporatocracy, inverted totalitarianism, neoliberal globalizaiton, and neo-colonial exploitation.

    You know the whole spiel. The only thing that has fundamentally changed under Trump is that even the most cuntiest of cunts can no longer deny how fucked up it all is. The lies they hid behind for decades are no longer convincing to the American public. One way or another, the American Empire was inevitably going to collapse and cause global catastrophe. Trump is simply expediting the process.

    “Ivanka is a cunt and so is her father and he is also is a threat to national security and he should be declared unfit to serve and be locked up somewhere where he can’t hurt anyone.

    “Don’t pretend it’s not true.

    “Call it what it is.

    “And do not apologize for telling the truth.

    “In other words, don’t be a cunt.”


    1. Set an alarm for five hours after you go to bed.

    2. When the alarm sounds, try to remember a dream from just before you woke up. If you can’t, just recall any dream you had recently.

    3. Lie in a comfortable position with the lights off and repeat the phrase: ‘Next time I’m dreaming, I will remember I’m dreaming.’ Do this silently in your mind. You need to put real meaning into the words and focus on your intention to remember.

    4. Every time you repeat the phrase at step 3, imagine yourself back in the dream you recalled at step 2, and visualize yourself remembering that you are dreaming.

    5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you either fall asleep or are sure that your intention to remember is set. This should be the last thing in your mind before falling asleep. If you find yourself repeatedly coming back to your intention to remember that you’re dreaming, that’s a good sign it’s firm in your mind.


    This research is far from the first to suggest a link between eating with others and happiness. Researchers at the University of Oxford last year found that the more that people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. The study also found that people who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and have wider social and emotional support networks. […]

    Our face-to-face relationships are, quite literally, a matter of life or death. “One of the biggest predictors of physical and mental health problems is loneliness,” says Dr Nick Lake, joint director for psychology and psychological therapy at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. “That makes sense to people when they think of mental health. But the evidence is also clear that if you are someone who is lonely and isolated, your chance of suffering a major long-term condition such as coronary heart disease or cancer is also significantly increased, to the extent that it is almost as big a risk factor as smoking.”

    One of the most striking pieces of evidence for this, says Dunbar, is a meta-analysis of 148 epidemiological studies that looked for the best predictors that patients would survive for 12 months after a heart attack. “The best two predictors, by a long way, are the number and quality of friends you have and giving up smoking,” he says. “You can eat as much as you like, you can slob about, you can drink as much alcohol as you like – the effect is very modest compared with these other two factors.”

    Human beings are biologically engineered for human interaction – and particularly face-to-face interaction. One study from the University of Michigan found that replacing face-to-face contact with friends and family with messages on social media, emails or text messages could double our risk of depression. The study also found that those who made social contact with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms.


    It’s time to reclaim the mantle of “Progress” for progressives. By falsely tethering the concept of progress to free market economics and centrist values, Steven Pinker has tried to appropriate a great idea for which he has no rightful claim.

    In Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, published earlier this year, Steven Pinker argues that the human race has never had it so good as a result of values he attributes to the European Enlightenment of the 18th century. He berates those who focus on what is wrong with the world’s current condition as pessimists who only help to incite regressive reactionaries. Instead, he glorifies the dominant neoliberal, technocratic approach to solving the world’s problems as the only one that has worked in the past and will continue to lead humanity on its current triumphant path.

    • http://OLDUVAI.CA
      May 18, 2018 at 5:39 am

      I’ve come to believe that almost everything has both pros and cons and really depends not only on one’s perspective but one’s own biases and prejudices, and a very strong drive to reduce personal cognitive dissonance. Complex systems are by their very nature non-linear but humans tend to think in very linear terms. As a result, we often (if not always) misattribute causes to the world we observe–to say little about the idea that we are rationalising animals, not rational ones.

      The fact that Steven Pinker “…glorifies the dominant neoliberal, technocratic approach to solving the world’s problems…” is not surprising given that he is very much a part of that worldview/paradigm. Justifying the status quo that one is a part of is quite normal. Getting someone to see the world differently when one derives a living from it is next to impossible.

      One could easily argue that the ‘progress’ we have witnessed over the past couple of centuries has little to do with a shift in values attributed to the Enlightenment but far more to do with our exploitation of a particular set of energy resources (i.e. fossil fuels). And if this is indeed the case (and we truly don’t know what the future holds as the ‘experiment’ is still playing out), then all of the ‘progress’ that we have experienced is in significant jeopardy as the foundational energy that has allowed it to occur is, after all, finite.

      And, of course, any species that comes to depend so meaningfully on a finite resource is staring overshoot and collapse in the face (as the article argues)–to say little about the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns that seems to have afflicted virtually every complex society in the past and led to collapse.

      Finally, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve come to better appreciate is the credit/debt-based fiat currency system that has been foisted upon the world’s citizens. This system not only pushes the culture of infinite growth upon us but demands it otherwise it would collapse as any Ponzi eventually does. As long as we use such a monetary system we seem destined to experience overshoot and collapse. It is a matter of when, not if.

  15. I haven’t paid much attention to Roseanne Barr in recent years. And I wasn’t all that excited for her show to be brought back. I guess she has been racist for a number of years now but few cared or paid attention.

  16. It is clear in the new Pew data, however, that urban and rural Americans are not as different as their self-perceptions suggest. In Wisconsin, Ms. Cramer met rural voters who described city dwellers as people who don’t know their neighbors, who aren’t as connected to their families, who have entirely foreign values.

    But in the Pew data, remarkably similar shares of urban and rural respondents say they feel attached to their communities, have face-to-face conversations with their neighbors, and value being near their families. They differ on questions about the harms or benefits of immigration, and whether whites have advantages in society that African-Americans don’t. But they’re nearly identical in their concerns about poverty, jobs and drug addiction in their communities. And they report similar levels of economic insecurity.

    Results of past Gallup polls also reinforce this underlying similarity: Both urban and rural respondents have become more supportive of immigration over time, and both have lost trust in the media of late.

    Ryan Enos, a political scientist at Harvard, said a larger mystery is why we believe urban and rural places seem so different when on many dimensions they and the people who live there are not — including in their fears that they’re misunderstood and disparaged.

    “If it is politicians tapping into all of this,” Ms. Cramer said, “it’s really helpful for those of us in the public to recognize, ‘O.K., a lot of this is being sold to us.’ It’s not necessarily the case that we are completely different species.”


    Every state belongs to a class. In medieval Europe, the state belonged to aristocratic landowners. In ancient Rome, it belonged to slave-owning patricians.

    The US government belongs to the capitalists – that is, the owners of the physical and organizational machinery that workers use to create goods and services.

    It doesn’t belong to them because politicians are corrupt. This isn’t a matter of “money in politics” – it’s the way the state itself is set up. No matter who holds office, the structure of the state means that it can’t help but enforce capitalist class rule. From the day-to-day activities of municipal civil servants to the highest levels of the Executive Branch, everything the government does in some way contributes to that task. It makes sure that contracts are enforced, infrastructure carries goods and services, markets operate smoothly, threats to private property are neutralized, and – above all – that workers keep going to work every day. The state uses force to defend the “public order” of capitalism; in practice, that also means white supremacy, empire, and patriarchy. It regulates businesses to protect the business class’s long-term stability. It runs social services to keep the working class healthy enough to be exploited. It allows radicals to participate in elections to pre-empt their inclination to build revolutionary institutions of their own. It grants concessions to movement demands to de-fang their revolutionary potential and coax them into patronage politics.

    This is an inherently capitalist state. Changing that would mean completely redesigning and restructuring it, bottom to top, from the Constitution to common law to the bureaucracy. In other words, it would have to be smashed. A new system would have to be built in its place.

  18. Robbert van Eijndhoven
    The problem with over-/misdiagnosis in the US lies in the fact that unlike, say, the Netherlands (which I will use as the example here because it’s what I obviously have the most experience with), there’s no requirement for interdisciplinary hierarchy for diagnoses. Which means that you get to see a psychiatrist without any prior screening and psychiatrists can make diagnoses on their own without consulting (clinical) psychologists or neurologists first.

    And that’s a problem, because unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are physicians (either MDs or DOs). Which means that they trained to perceive every malady as a physical problem with a physical solution before they ever take any of the courses for their psychiatry specialisation. And unlike neurologists they’re not trained to identify exactly what physical issues may cause which symptoms, only which drugs can and cannot be used to treat which symptoms.

    And that means that they’re drilled to believe that every psychological issue has a drug that will treat that issue. By and large it’s not the case that they just want to pump everyone full of drugs out of malice or greed, but rather that if they encounter anything atypical, the tool they were trained to reach for first is drugs.

    In the Netherlands, on the other hand, the only way you’ll ever even see a psychiatrist is if a clinical psychologist has made a diagnosis that would call for more than just psychotherapy and the psychiatrist is called in to confirm the diagnosis. And even then they’ll also call in a neurologist to determine whether the symptoms aren’t more likely to be related to nerve damage or a brain tumor or something like that and a social worker to determine whether all the hoity-toity educated people aren’t simply being blinded by their extensive knowledge and making a mountain of depression out of the molehill of someone being sad over getting dumped.

    • I don’t know what is behind it. Well, other than big money being behind it.

      Plutocrats like the Koch brothers heavily fund not just national campaigns, propaganda, etc but also at a local level. A candidate in the town next over was funded by Koch money. And much of the money gets filtered through various organizations that most of the time no one knows where it is coming from.

      The average citizen has no ability to comprehend all the ways they are being manipulated. The Democratic Party isn’t much better in how often they are complicit, despite most Democratic voters in Iowa wanting something much further to the left.

      I’ve entirely given up on the prospect of democracy in the US, even at the local level. That is until we have a total overhaul of the system. There is no way to have an honest election at present. The occasional reasonable candidate that gets elected can’t undo the damage done by the rest.

      The only hope we have for democracy at this point is revolution and I’m deadly serious about that. It will keep getting worse until it can’t get any worse. Then maybe enough people will wake up in order to fight back.

      • There’s too much money for the rich. I guess that when they have billions of dollars, bribing a few politicians is a small expense compared to the lower tax bill that they would get.

        There is way too much money in politics. Americans have always said they are better than an authoritarian society. The problem is that the political system in the US is increasingly authoritarian and it is owned by the very wealthy.

  19. We now think of ‘philosophy’ as a narrow field of study. But in its original meaning, it meant the study of everything. Philosophy was simply the early label given to what later on came to be considered classical studies and liberal arts.

    It’s odd that philosophy today is seen by most people as being a small part of what Pythagoras meant by philosophy. Accordingly, the entirety of modern education is philosophy in the ancient broad sense. But we take knowledge so much for granted now that the idea of the “love of wisdom” sounds quaint or even absurd to the average person.

    “Alongside his revolutionary science, Pythagoras coined the word philosopher to describe himself as a “lover of wisdom” — a love the subject of which he encapsulated in a short, insightful meditation on the uses of philosophy in human life. According to the anecdote, recounted by Cicero four centuries later, Pythagoras attended the Olympic Games of 518 BC with Prince Leon, the esteemed ruler of Phlius. The Prince, impressed with his guest’s wide and cross-disciplinary range of knowledge, asked Pythagoras why he lived as a “philosopher” rather than an expert in any one of the classical arts.”


    If this is true, then Graeber’s contention that a capitalist system might pay wages for pointless jobs doesn’t seem so shocking. These jobs might actually work as tools for propagating this inequality. As he put it in his initial essay, “If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job” than a system in which so many people are trapped in bullshit jobs. Instead of treating that like a conspiracy theory, though, the book presents it as a political answer to a question that had previously been dismissed as merely economic. […]

    Economists also like to point out that wage labor is a relatively modern invention, but the book traces the structural similarities of most jobs back to feudalism. Perhaps its most audacious argument is that modern corporations are not just similar to feudalism — they are basically the same thing: “Managerialism has become the pretext for creating a new covert form of feudalism.” The proliferation of unnecessary employees doesn’t make sense if you’re a capitalist trying to keep costs down, but it does make sense if you’re a feudal lord trying to flaunt your importance and buy the loyalty of underlings. […]

    In other words, even though they both hated their jobs, Rufus knew what to expect, and so was able to endure and profit from it. He was there not for work experience, but “work experience” — a line on a resume that would look impressive to outsiders despite signifying nothing. On the other hand, someone from a working-class background, who expects work to be perhaps unpleasant but at least productive, is unprepared for this charade. This does not seem like a trivial factor in social mobility or class identity.

    Again, what makes Bullshit Jobs so refreshing is how it exposes that none of this is really about economics. At one point, Graeber refers to work as “a kind of secular hair-shirt” because of the way we have been conditioned to view a job as something that is necessarily unpleasant. It can be physically unpleasant, or low-paying, but increasingly, work is unpleasant because it is devoid of meaning or social value. A bullshit job, like any job, is a test of character, and so “anyone who is not slaving away harder than he’d like at something he doesn’t especially enjoy is a bad person.”


    Neoliberal Conservative governments and the PR industry are very closely aligned, each profiting from the other. The condition of the spectacular growth of the PR and lobbying industry was to facilitate and profit from the marked redistribution of wealth from the poorest citizens to the rich, establishing, elevating and securing the prioritisation of the private interests and power base of the 1% over and above – and at the expense of – public interests.

  22. My eyedoctor gave me an option between a 20/15 and 20/20 perscription. I ended up choosing the latter since a part of me wondered whether having such artificially “good” vision would be good for my eyes in the long run. Headaches, worsening actual vision, etc. In my friend’s country the eyedoctors appearently only perscribe 75% of “normal” vision since appearently corrective lenses that clear were bad for eye strength etc?

    • They didn’t struggle with diabetes and obesity before colonialism though. Same with American indigenous. US Natives are the fattest group today, but their ancestors were fit and healthy, moreso than the Europeans that they met

    • Why do they always automatically jump to the conclusion of genetics? It makes me want to punch such people in the face in the hope that they will quit being so stupid. Between culture and lifestyle, environment and epigenetics, there are innumerable potential contributing factors behind good eyesight. It could be genetics, but there is no intelligent and rational reason to assume it’s genetics.


    Psychiatry owes much of its recent popularity to the allure of its heavily advertised wonder drugs that cure life’s woes. But pills can’t be the main source of psychiatry’s sustained success, since as Irving Kirsch proved,1 they’re mostly placebos, and as Robert Whitaker showed,2 people who take them usually worsen over time. Yet most clients loyally defend and cling to their ‘illness’ (and its treaters). We only stick with things that work for us in some way. So this begs the question: Could psychiatry’s newly invented diseases themselves be the hot items that people are somehow being manipulated into buying?

    Yes — I saw from within my field how it happened. Psychiatry used to help clients cope with painful feelings by venting about their causative issues (disappointment, interpersonal conflict, loss, etc.) in psychotherapy. As this role was usurped by cheaper social workers and psychologists, it adapted by pushing a new way to cope — by perceiving all unpleasant feelings/experiences as brain disease symptoms. Psychiatry makes this work for clients in many ways, without their even being aware of it:

  24. Sounds like a potentially effective method of social control, perception management, and identity construction. It might have as corrosive and transformative impact on our present society as writing and legibility had on archaic societies. There is interesting discussion about legibility in James Scott’s “Seeing Like a State”. The more legible are subjects of a governing system, the more controllable they are. But legibility simultaneously creates its own zones of illegibility, what exists outside of what the state can see. What is changing now is that corporations are usurping the traditional role of governments, which might leave fewer and fewer zones of illegibility and so no where to escape. Following this path, it would become a total surveillance society.

    “I don’t know whether “The Selfish Ledger” was directly influenced by Korzybski, although I would guess that it probably wasn’t. But he provides a useful starting point for understanding why the world evoked in the film feels so disturbing, when it’s really a refinement of a process that is as old as civilization itself. On some level, it strikes viewers as a loss of agency, with the act of improvement and refinement outsourced from human hands to an impersonal corporation and its algorithms. We no longer trust companies like Google, if we ever did, to guide us as individuals or as a society—although much of what the video predicts has already come to pass. Google is already an extension of my memory, and it determines my ability to generate connections between information in ways that I mostly take for granted. Yet these decisions have long been made for us by larger systems in ways that are all but invisible, by encouraging certain avenues of thought and action while implicitly blocking off others. (As Fredric Jameson put it: “Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”) Not all such systems are inherently undesirable, and you could argue that science, for instance, is the best way so far that the ledger of society—which depended in earlier periods on myth and religion—has found to propagate itself. It’s hard to argue with Korzybski when he writes: “If the difference between the animal and man consists in the capacity of the latter to start where the former generation left off, obviously humans, to be humans, should exercise this capacity to the fullest extent.” The problem, as usual, lies in the choice of tactics, and what we call “culture” or even “etiquette” can be seen as a set of rules that accomplish by trial and error what the ledger would do more systematically. Google is already shaping our culture, and the fact that “The Selfish Ledger” bothers to even explore such questions is what makes it a worthwhile thought experiment. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking a closer look at its methods, as well as the question of how speculative design, whether by corporations or by artists, can lead to insights that lie beyond even the reach of science fiction.”


    June 4, 1738 – Birth of King George III, King of England
    The systemic usurpations or seizures of the rights of colonists by the English King and Parliament were the major cause of the American Revolution. Besides Parliamentary Acts taxing colonial trade, those seizures occurred primarily through global trading corporations – such as the East India Company – and colonial corporations – such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, Maryland Company, etc. – that received charters or licenses from the King to engage in trade and/or to govern/oppress the colonists.
    The Revolution was not simply one against George III, but also against global trading and colonial Crown corporations.

    June 6, 2006 – Voters in Humboldt County, CA pass initiative to protect right to fair elections and local democracy
    “Measure T: the Ordinance to Protect Our Rights to Fair Elections and Local Democracy” was passed by a vote of 55% to 45%. The measure prohibited corporations from outside the county from bankrolling political campaigns. The measure made clear that Humboldt citizens do not believe corporations are legal people and that only humans have constitutional rights.

    June 9, 1827 – Birth of Frances Miles Finch, member of the Court of Appeals of New York State – corporate charters are revocable
    The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in People v. North River Sugar Refining Co., [121 N.Y. 582, 608, 24 N.E. 834, 1890] that the company’s participation in the sugar trust violated the terms of its state charter or license. At the time, people believed that when a corporation exceeded or abused its power and such abuse harms the public welfare, legislatures should revoke the corporation’s charter and dissolve the corporation.
    Writing for the majority in support of charter revocation and dissolution of the company, Judge Finch stated, “[t]he life of a corporation is, indeed, less than that of the humblest citizen. . .”

    • The second item is amazing. 45% of the voters in that county were in direct opposition to their own right to vote. So, they were protesting against voting by voting. That is a whole new meaning of a protest vote.

    • I may have read some of that book a long time ago. I’m familiar with the book’s argument. It seems compelling to me, including the claim that the division between mind and body has increased despite claims to the contrary. This relates to what some call Cartesian anxiety.

  26. Um, these have been traditional beliefs in many parts of the world…

    Perhaps they’re not part of abrahamic religions?

    ” Freud, a true heir of the Enlightenment, pointed out that three major achievements of modern science were to demonstrate that our local environment is not radically different from the rest of the universe (Copernicus), that humans are not radically different from other animals (Darwin), and that thinking is not radically different from feeling (Freud). These are the very distinctions Berman accuses scientific rationalism of inventing.”

    • If I was a Native American in that community, the very least I would do is burn the house down. I would ensure that those people spent the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders worried about what punishment was coming for them. Fear and violence is the only language the wealthy know.

    • There are two key points. In the War on Terror, the records show that millions of innocent noncombatants have been killed, millions more died from starvation and sickness related to US actions, and yet millions more traumatized, injured, orphaned, dislocated, etc. The largest part of those harmed were in Iraq, some estimates putting it above a million directly-caused deaths. It’s true that we don’t know the exact number, but saying that is intentionally misleading to the point of being disinformation. We should be honest enough to admit that the number is high, about the same body count as the Vietnam War which was another war started on false pretenses.

      That brings us to the second point. The Iraq War was an illegal war of aggression justified through lies and propaganda. Illegal not just by international law that the US has signed onto but illegal by US law as well. Some of the main figures in the Bush administration can’t freely travel in certain countries for fear of being arrested for war crimes, and if they were officials in a less powerful government they would already be prosecuted or otherwise eliminated. Think about that. If another country illegally and immorally attacked the US for no justifiable reason and killed millions of Americans, what would be the US response? Have we really just become yet another empire where might makes right?

      I could add that, since World War II, the US has killed about as many people around the world as presently live in the Iraq. The estimated body count from American imperialism in recent history alone is upwards of over 30 million and at this point maybe reaching 40 million. During that time, the United States has launched over 200 overseas military operations had 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations. Right now, the War on Terror, involves our military in more than 70 countries. To put this in context, the US in its entire history has never had a year go by when it wasn’t involved in military conflict and most of that involved wars of aggression.

      Consider any other authoritarian regime Americans would consider evil. Our body county is right up there with the worst of them. As an American, how does that make you feel? This is what many of the founding fathers, specifically the Anti-Federalists, warned about. There was a reason why they feared a standing army.

  27. I’ve been repeating this for years. What we do to others will be visited upon us. Call it chickens coming home to roost or call it karma. It’s the same difference. No nation and its citizenry forever escapes the consequences of its actions

    Du Bois warned that in times of widespread unrest, this indiscriminate violence, familiar to poor people of color and those we subjugate abroad today in the Middle East, becomes the primary mechanism for internal social control. As the empire disintegrates under unfettered corporate capitalism, futile and costly military adventurism, political stagnation and despotism, we will learn the truth Du Bois elucidated.

    Du Bois, early in his career and already recognized as one of the foremost sociologists in the country, attacked Booker T. Washington’s odious accommodation with the white segregationists in the South and industrial elites in the North. He derided Washington’s advocacy of vocational training for blacks at the expense of intellectual pursuits. The white capitalist Molochs, who funded and promoted Washington and his collaborationist scheme to train blacks to take their spots on the lowest rung of industrial society, turned on Du Bois with a vengeance. The underclass, then and now, was to be taught what to think, not how to think. They would be endowed with just enough numerical literacy to serve as serfs in the capitalist system. The capitalists were determined to maintain what Du Bois called “enforced ignorance,” an enforced ignorance now being visited on a dispossessed working class with the degrading of public education, funding of vocational charter schools, and withering away of the humanities.

    “Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States,” he warned, an eerie forecast of the age of Trump.


    If you look at their demands, they read like a tableaux of grievances from today’s economy: no job security, vast wage disparities, no overtime pay, a lot of subcontracting, and so on.

    The creative class used to see itself and its concerns as outside the economy. Not anymore.

    A few years back, I read Ved Mehta’s memoirs of his years at The New Yorker under editor William Shawn. Shawn helped Mehta find his first apartment: he actually scouted out a bunch of places with a real estate broker and wrote Mehta letters or called him about what he had seen. Shawn got Mehta set up with a meal service. The money was flowing. Again, not anymore.

    The sea change isn’t just economic; it’s also cultural.

    When we first started organizing graduate employees at Yale in the early 1990s, we got a lot of hostility. And nowhere more so than from the creative class. People in the elite media really disliked us. Many of them had left grad school or gone to fancy colleges, and we may have reminded them of the people they disliked when they were undergrads. (Truth be told: sometimes we reminded me of the people I disliked when I was an undergrad.) In any event, they saw us as pampered whiners, radical wannabees, Sandalistas in seminars. It was untrue and unfair. It didn’t matter. Liberals have their identity politics, too.


    The world’s richest countries continue to subsidize at least $100 billion a year in subsidies for the production and use of coal, oil and gas, despite repeated pledges to phase out fossil fuels by 2025.

    The Group of Seven, or G7, consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the U.S. The group, as well as the larger G20, agreed as early as 2009 to phase out fossil fuels in order to combat climate change.

    But a new report from Britain’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) reveals that on average per year in 2015 and 2016, the G7 governments supplied at least $81 billion in fiscal support and $20 billion in public finance, for both production and consumption of oil, gas and coal at home and overseas. […]

    The report showed that the U.S. spent $26 billion a year supporting fossil fuels and scored the worst in ending support for coal mining, a pet project of President Trump.

    • The entire research is pointless.

      We live in a heavily propagandized society. That explains about everything. Most Americans are indoctrinated and disinformed by heavily funded and promoted propaganda campaigns and perception management, largely through the corporate media. When asked, Americans state they believe economic inequality is low and that if it were high they would be for redistribution. But the fact is that it is much higher than most Americans consider tolerable.

      The problem is few members of the establishment, either in the media or in the main parties, will fully and regularly discuss how bad the problems have gotten. The American public is in a state of almost complete ignorance. In public polling, the American public don’t trust the rich and corporations any more than they trust politicians and the government. Instead, the majority of Americans lean strongly to the political left with ‘socialism’ and ‘progressivism’ growing in popularity.

      Now imagine what would happen if most Americans did know how bad it was? We would have revolution over night and then we’d see what redistribution looks like. Articles like that in the Scientific American end up being part of the propaganda machine. Notice how the author neither challenges the vast ignorance nor the propaganda that creates that ignorance nor the plutocracy pushing that propaganda.


    A religious person who hates abortion might be appalled by my comparing a zombie and a human fetus, because the emotions the two arouse are so very different. Ironically, though, religious opposition to abortion is based on a kind of magical thinking much like that in zombie stories—the idea that human bodies can be animated by some supernatural force.

    In the stories that religions tell, this magical force is a soul put into the body by a deity. Religious believers talk about “ensoulment” of a fetus, which the Catholic Church used to say happened at quickening, or the first felt fetal movement. Now many Christians say it happens when a sperm penetrates an egg. Women who have aborted a fetus sometimes get told that they will meet that aborted soul in heaven, magically grown into a person that is capable of thinking and talking and recognizing them despite never having attained such capacities through brian development and experience. (Since most human embryos either fail to implant or spontaneously abort, one can assume, just statistically, that this version of heaven is 98 percent populated by such magical beings.)

    • The author conveys a deep sense of empathy and compassion. I’ve long suspected that empathy and compassion have much to do with being rooted to place and community, specifically in terms of family and community bonds as expressions of culture of trust. Much of that has been lost for many Americans, native and otherwise, but not so lost as to be beyond rebuilding.

  31. I’ve been wondering and worrying about this for years. But this is the first study I’ve ever come across that has looked into it.

    Although everyone is exposed to a mixture of many chemicals every day, federal and state health agencies look at safety testing for only one chemical at a time. The effects of individual chemicals in these daily mixtures add up, but at the moment, federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration do not determine the safety of chemicals on the basis of the aggregate effects of chemicals people come in contact with daily.

    “It’s been suspected for years that chemicals behave differently in mixtures than they do by themselves,” said Dr. William Goodson, a senior author of the study. “The tragedy is that no regulations require that the effects of chemical mixtures be evaluated. With the existing consumer product safety testing, we are sailing blind into a perfect storm of chemicals with almost no knowledge of what to expect.”

    Exposure to mixtures of toxic chemicals often starts in the womb, and the developing fetus gets its first dose of chemical exposure before birth. BPA, parabens and PFOA are also found in the placenta and the umbilical cord blood, as demonstrated by research from EWG and other research organizations.

    • I’ve posted a lot of negative shit in the past few days. Basically tl;dr people can’t get along and chill

      So much hatred in the world. It’s very draining. I can’t stay on alt-right forums for long for example because the negativity just eats you up inside. I get that certain impulses exist in everyone that can manifest into horrible shit. But embracing it just eats you up, it takes energy. Tribalism eats you up psychologically

      Just thinking about Bourdain, that’s all


    But the just cause of equality under and before the law is not going to be furthered by an army of harridans who are sounding unmistakably like caricatures of every right wing cliché of what a left wing fascist sounds like.

    The fact that Diaz is given better treatment because he’s a whale who brings in the coinage is a genuine issue. That it speaks to the corruption of the publishing industry is a legitimate issue. That the publishing industry is a whore house and a wholly owned subsidiary of the entertainment empires is an issue. And that the entertainment empires are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Stock Market and that the Stock Market is king pimp and the world is its whore is an issue.

    But the people attacking Diaz betray their class bias by twisting sexism into a pretzel and the pretzel into a cudgel to be used to beat a magazine over the head in order to get a cut of the green.

    They don’t want justice in terms of gender they want a piece of the action and if that means using systemic mysogony as a dodge and a weapon they will use it.

    But don’t buy the hype.

    The issue is that America is an empire having a nervous breakdown and a symptom of that is the faux left acting like fascists.

    The economic catastrophe that is unfolding is going to be the greatest collapse in history sucking the world into the maw of disaster.

    The environment is in free fall and it is in free fall because of capitalism and when the system finally goes the resulting dystopia won’t be about gender – though god knows plenty of people will scream otherwise – and all that will matter is what you can do right now not who you were before or what your job was or if you won a Pulitzer or couldn’t get a seat at the table because the guy with the Pulitzer was waving his dick in your face.


    In Iran, his “authentic” local voice was Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, et cetera. Bourdain was quite the “storyteller,” though in his case like so many others, “storyteller” meant peddler of State Department bullshit. His status as a travel host and celebrity chef made him a propagandist without peer, and his surprising suicide will cement his mainstream reputation as an iconoclastic progressive figure.

    Those mourning Bourdain’s death can take comfort in the fact that there are likely thousands more aspiring Bourdains out there right now—sons and daughters of privilege who can put a woke spin on American exceptionalism through touching personal narratives and outsider branding.

    Bourdain was an innovator, though, and he was uniquely good at delivering his propaganda payloads. But when it came to the imperialist lies which were his bread and butter, Bourdain was really just like any amateur chef making spaghetti: he threw a strand at the wall and if it didn’t stick, he tried again a few minutes later until it did.


    June 16, 1723 – Birth of Adam Smith, author of “Wealth of Nations”
    In his famous work written in 1776, Wealth of Nations, Smith criticized corporations for their effect in curtailing “natural liberty.” According to David Korton, Smith made specific mention of corporations twelve times in the Wealth of Nations. Not once does he attribute any favorable quality to them.
    David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Kumarian Press, 1995.

    June 17, 1239 – Birth of King Edward I, first to utilize “quo warranto” written order
    Quo warranto is a Medieval Latin meaning “by what warrant?” It’s a written order by a governing power (e.g. Kings in the past, legislatures early in U.S. history, and courts in the present) requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising a claimed right or power. It originated under King Edward I of England to recover previously lost lands, rights and franchises.

    This power was transferred to states following the American Revolution. State legislatures utilized “quo warranto” powers to challenge previously chartered or franchised corporations that acted beyond their original privileges granted by the state. The result was frequent revocation of corporate charters and dissolution of corporations — in the name of affirming citizen sovereignty or self-governance.

    All 50 states still retain elements of quo warranto. The authority concerning the creation and dissolution of corporations remains in existence.

  35. I must admit that I find most class talk to be strange. People treat class categories as if they are distinct. But as I see it, distinctions are blurred and highly subjective. Most self-identified “middle class” aren’t actually middle class in a meaningful sense. Being working class most fundamentally means being defined by work and being dependent on an employer for survival along with being subjected to a hierarchy of those above you, which essentially defines almost everyone within a capitalist society.

    I’ve become ever more aware of class confusion and I suspect that has something to do with how class ideology is maintained. It never can be looked at with clear eyes because the whole point is to create a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about one’s place within the social order. I just spent the past weekend at a family reunion. That is the poor white part of my family and no doubt that some of them would be considered “white trash” by the more respectable. That is my family and it is where I come from in a broader sense, though I didn’t immediately spend my childhood in that world. Or rather that is part of my family. On the other side of my family, my paternal grandfather grew up as the child of the caretaker of an estate and that grandfather had another version of class confusion.

    Even as I grew up middle class and my father in particular aspired toward class respectability, my mother raised me with working class values and a working class worldview. My identity from a young age was defined by ‘work’, what you could do for yourself. In the South, only the working class would do their own housework and yard work, partly because there is so much cheap labor but more importantly because not doing your own work is how you demonstrate you aren’t working class. But my mother embraced being working class and what an upper class Southerner took as a sign of shame my mother took as a point of pride.

    The fact of the matter is that I am working class. I have spent my life doing entry level jobs, much of it menial labor. I’ve always hovered slightly above the poverty level and sometimes have fallen below it. But that is true for most Americans. Being close to the poverty level isn’t hard to do in this economy. Even many professionals such as public school teachers find themselves uncomfortably close to poverty. But what is class? From a young age, I was taught middle class manners. Then again, many working class people learn middle class manners as part of their seeking class mobility. I know the world of the middle class, but no more than I know the world of the working class. To be honest, I feel working class, even if I know proper table manners for formal dining.

    That is why I find it odd how people cling to class identities. This author says you never leave behind your class. That somehow doesn’t make sense to me. Class is always a social construct. Even many wealthy families aren’t that far from the working class. The Kennedy family came from working class within living memory and yet they became a political dynasty. Surely, some of the extended Kennedy family are still working class. So, if the class of one’s family defines one’s own class, then what part of one’s family defines one’s identity?

    Guernica: What defines class?

    Dorothy Allison: It’s always an argument, because class is defined in opposition, and to some extent in denial. Especially in American society, there is a lot of shame and refusal. To a large extent we have the bias that we are a classless nation, and that’s just a frank outright lie.

    The essential assumption of the working class is to be always inappropriate and embattled. You’re always in an argument with the over-class about who and what you are—particularly in the South but also in other regions. They have complicated gradations of class in California, yet we have very simple-minded ways we think about socio-economics in this country. We think in terms of the broad categories of working class, middle class, upper class, but if you ask someone to define herself it always gets more nuanced.

    My sisters, for instance, never wanted anyone to know that we were poor, so there was a refusal to discuss our position in the class structure. If someone did try to talk about it, my sister Barbara would say, “Well, we’re really middle class.” Our stepfather always had a job. Our mama always worked, but the working poor is still a phenomenon, and I define the working poor as people who can’t eat every night. I know it sounds trivial and petty, but the struggle was to go to school five days in a row without having to wear the same outfit three times. Kids are ruthless. They notice all those details. So all of the earmarks of being raised poor were there, but we pretended with the rest of America that we were part of the great middle. It’s very hard to change something you can’t acknowledge.

    Guernica: How does your conception of class differ from that projected on you?

    Dorothy Allison: You know those famous pictures of the South in which dirty-faced kids are standing there with a finger in their mouths? They are not speaking because they aren’t sure what to say or how to behave. You are aware absolutely that you are not as valuable or as human as people who speak easily and who are comfortable.

    Learning that is class is actually a huge empowerment. When I read Marxist theory, it was like being handed a shovel. You could do something. You could dig out of the hole. You could defend yourself, because what not being as important as others really means is that you’re always in danger.

  36. This is sort of interesting. But it feels like it is overlooking some major factors.

    The evidence shows, contrary to the conclusion presented, that politics matters a lot and this is even more true when combined with religion. What immediately stands out is the fact that politics and religion are so closely wedded in American society, specifically within certain demographics: GOP voters, Fox News consumers, etc.

    And if we are to be honest, religion is politics by another name and in another form. The point is that scientific skepticism and denialism are ideologically-driven, sometimes leaning more heavily on overtly political ideology and at other times on overtly religious ideology.

    So, it feels like the study missed the forest for the trees.

  37. The video reports that people are already moving out of these communities. That means climate change, admitted or not, is beginning to influence people’s decision-making.

    “The findings reveal that every state along every coastline in the Lower 48 would be impacted, with some states having up to a quarter-million homes in the flood zone by 2045, roughly the span of a current 30-year mortgage. By the end of the century, as many as 2.4 million homes worth a combined $1 trillion could be threatened, according to the study.

    “States with the most homes at risk by the end of the century are Florida, with about 1 million homes or more than 10 percent of the state’s current residential properties, New Jersey with 250,000 homes, and New York with 143,000 homes.

    “The flooding, researchers warn, could make those homes no longer practical to inhabit and cause their market and taxable values to plummet, which would hurt communities.”

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