Tab Dump 02

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Blogosphere, Idle Nonsense

Over two years ago, I purged a bunch of links I’d been collecting of news stories and opinion columns I had thought perhaps I’d blog about but then never did. Seems it’s time again to rid myself of bookmarks in my browser. I haven’t reread any of these links to refresh my memory but will if the comments indicate I should.

We’re All Animals Now: In Psychology Today, “The Ideological Animal” provides this summary:

We’re easily manipulated by politics. We think our political stance is the product of reason, but we’re surprisingly malleable. Our essential political self is more a stew of childhood temperament, education, and fear of death.

Pretty much says what it says, little comment being necessary. But I’ll offer this: we tend to think of ourselves as smart animals (if we regard ourselves as animals at all), but scientific evidence continues to mount that like other large mammals we share social behaviors to a greater degree than we like to believe.

More on PoliPsy: An article originally published in The New Republic (republished by the Carnegie Endowment) by John Judis called “Death Grip: How Political Psychology Explains Bush’s Ghastly Success” adds to the argument that the public is led around by the nose. A similar argument could be made for Ronald Reagan’s remarkable success. Both presidents essentially carried water for corporate interests and ideologies that aligned with their own self-aggrandizement.

Lessons in Learned Helplessness: The Atlantic published an up-is-down, right-is-wrong-is-right article called “Cultivating Failure” about learning how to grow food. It’s a rich argument that teaching immigrant sons and daughters basic biology returns them to the fields they escaped in Mexico or elsewhere.

Success is Failure: The Guardian has an option column by Simon Jenkins that Eisenhower’s warning that the military-industrial complex would come to define us has been realized. Well, it’s pretty much been true since then, so not exactly a new development. Additionally, the invention of enemies to justify war was novelized two decades before the Eisenhower administration by George Orwell. Same old, same old, but it might as well be acknowledged anew.

Looking Backwards to the Future: An article in Logos by Philip Green called “Farewell to Democracy” describes our fairly brief flirtation with democracy in the West coming to its tawdry conclusion. The even wider perspective I’ve been seeing elsewhere suggests that all types of hierarchical social organization based on concentrations of power and rule of law are doomed to failure. Whether their brief, bright flame is worth it is perhaps yet another debate.

The Jesus Phone and its Discontents: An article in Commonweal by Andrew Bacevich called “Selling our Souls” tells the obvious, not that anyone wants to see or hear it: technolust ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. From other quarters, I can anticipate that the argument would be that since we’re soulless now anyway, there’s no real conflict.

Hanging by a Thread (or a rope): A brief summary of an interview with Sophie Shevardnadze by RT News (a useful alternative to mainstream Western media) states that modern capitalism is nearly kaput, which is another statement of the obvious to which most of us are blind.

Sensible Schooling: An article in the NY Times tells about a school operating in the heart of the silicon beast that refuses to allow computers in the classroom. This is even more ironic as the article states, “Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection.” Something about do as I say, not as I do belongs here.

One is the Loneliest Number: An article at Salon.com by Alice Karekezi called “Why Kids Need Solitude” describes how constant overstimulation blocks the conditions necessary for anything to sink in. The article is about education, but it arguably applies to just about everyone everywhere, not just kids in school. There’s simply no time for processing if the fire hose of information and stimulation aimed at us never gets turned off.

The Great Unwashed Masses: Charles Saatchi believes that Eurotrash can’t discern good art from bad as the works are regarded among collectors more as investment vehicles than artistic expressions. I’ve thought the same thing about American art and its audiences for years. But anytime a call for raising standards of taste and erudition appears, it’s attacked as elitist and snobbish.

Lives Lived in Denial: The NY Times reports that 60% of Americans believe they’re living the dream despite everything in shambles around them. I suppose this much is true if one’s dreams are nightmares.

Incarcerated America: Reuters reports on a study noting that by age 23, one-third of U.S. adults have been arrested. Such is life in the modern security state. The article discusses criminal activity, but I can’t help but wonder how many of the arrests were really over acts of dissidence.

Care-Givers Rn’t Us: A shocking account in the NY Times about doctors who learn nothing about care-giving but are only skilled at procedures reveals they overtreat due to perverse economic incentives that reward procedures well out of balance with consultation, which consultation they seem ill-suited to render unless of course procedures are indicated.

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