Jonathan Haidt on the emerging victim culture

Gotta love him. Highly recommend his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Also appreciated a book he mentioned there titled Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Betty Crockering my ass off over here!

Been a cooking and baking fool lately. chef Trying out new lower-carb recipes mostly, figuring out what’s edible and what isn’t. Attempting to break free from my old dining ways, seeing as how I keep too much weight on in going that route. Been holding steady in the upper 160s in recent weeks, which is still too dang big. Wanting to see at least a 10-lb. reduction before I’ll be somewhat content again. Still been working out at the gym at least 3 days a week, mostly focusing on strength training.

Of course my former partner will have none of it when it comes to my new diet plan, preferring to eat as he always has. And so be it. No point in encouraging him to try much of what I make, though I did get him to sample a couple brownie recipes I made a week or so back. The first one (a banana/avocado brownie recipe) came out great, IMO. He managed to eat it. The second one (a low-carb cheesecake brownie recipe) I goofed up on, and he couldn’t make it past a bite of that one. Said it was too chocolatey, going way overboard. My best guyfriend said basically the same thing. Though I thought it was all right. Won’t be trying that second recipe again.

This weekend thus far I baked up some low-carb egg cups (at least that’s what I’m referring to them as), which basically were cupcake tins filled with spinach, tomatoes, a little feta and extra sharp cheddar cheeses, and then covered with beaten eggs. Freezable, ready-made breakfast food. Though I didn’t add enough salt and the spinach proved to be too much. Next time I’ll reduce the spinach by half and increase the tomatoes and cheeses. But they’re okay and I’ll snack on them over time.

Then I baked a batch of almond flour blueberry muffins, which turned out delicious! Really proud of them and plan on sharing them with people tomorrow. Not as low in carbs as I would’ve liked, but the taste is right on.

Then today I created my first spaghetti squash lasagna. Never cooked with spaghetti squash before, so that was interesting. Lots of water to drain out of those things. I used the squash in place of traditional pasta noodles to cut down on carbs, layering that with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and a tomato and basil sauce I’ve been meaning to try out (Rao’s brand — which I added to ground chuck beef and seasoned to my liking). Turned out pretty darn good! Doesn’t taste much like actual lasagna, but it is similar to the spaghetti bakes I typically make, and I didn’t miss the noodles in that dish. As always, I used a good amount of fresh garlic, so “Former” (easiest to just call him that on here) was unable (and unwilling) to sample that meal since garlic gives him heartburn. Served it with a side of whole green beans fixed up in my normal fashion (steamed with a little olive oil, garlic powder, coarse sea salt, and almond slices tossed in).

THEN tonight I decided to try my hand at making a no-bake pie. Been a looong time since I’ve made one since I’m not a huge pie person. This dessert does not qualify as low-carb, but Former loves pies and it was a way to use up some oreos I had up in the cabinet (that he recently gave me — I swear he’s intentionally trying to sabotage my diet, lol). My 17-year-old food processor is too small to accommodate 24 oreos, so I put them in a gallon-size ziploc bag and went to crushing them up with one of my dumbbells. Ha! Crumbled them the best I could and then poured in the melted butter and massaged it in through the baggie before pressing the mixture out in a pie tin. Refrigerated that while whipping together the filling, which consisted of melting some dark chocolate chips in refined coconut oil on the stovetop, then mixing in some coconut milk, pure vanilla extract, maple-flavored agave, and a pinch of salt. Chopped up a couple avocados and placed them in a blender and added in the cooled chocolate mixture and got that all smooth. Topped the pie crust and now it’s all chilling in the fridge, awaiting being sampled tomorrow. There’s a coconut cream recipe to go on top that I’ll whip up tomorrow once I get ahold of another can opener since my 16-year-old electric can opener decided to finally break down this evening. It served me well all these years — RIP.

So, my kitchen is officially destroyed now. Got more dishes stacked up in the sink than I know what to do with. Will wait and run the dishwasher in the morning since it’s loud. Believe I’ve gotten this cooking/baking bug out of my system for a minute and can turn my attention back to other matters. Like watching videos on youtube. Planning to hang out with my best guyfriend tomorrow afternoon and probably head out to dinner. No work tomorrow. So it’ll be an easy day of cleaning up around here, visiting with a couple of my people, and relaxing.

Been enjoying this slow transition into the fall season. And, for the record, it’s been 18.5 weeks since embarking on my decision to stop drinking alcohol. Going strong on that without a desire to return to my old habit.

Evergreen’s Educational Model (Weinstein / Heying Interview)

Part 2:

That was an interesting conversation to listen to. Helped change my opinion a bit, based solely on what I’ve read and heard online about Evergreen State College this year. Helps me to realize that the way the curriculum was structured there wasn’t in itself the problem and actually sounds rather nice for non-traditional students. But indoctrination can happen anywhere, and like they acknowledged, perhaps the environment structured within Evergreen allowed it to be taken a bit farther than we might expect in other institutions of learning because the students spend so much more time with a particular professor. If that professor happens to be Naima Lowe, well, then Houston we have a problem.

Good conversation overall. Interesting to learn more about Bret Weinstein and his wife (and fellow professor).

Ideological craziness as exemplified by Evergreen State College

More coverage (click here and here for more background info on this topic) on what’s been going on at Evergreen State College up in Olympia, Washington, where a portion of the students and staff have decided to increasingly push a super-divisive, Leftist narrative wherein white folks are othered on the basis of simply being white (because of “eurocentricism” and “white privilege” being viewed as a perpetual threat to minorities) and ridiculed accordingly and where police are automatically rejected and demonized as racist and oppressive and also where very loud and obstructive protests are encouraged at every opportunity. Yet what they’re demanding exactly isn’t clear. They just wish to push this new narrative and switch up the power roles as they perceive them to be at present.

A student at Evergreen State College, Benjamin Boyce, who graduated last semester has documented much of what’s been going on there lately.

Faculty and students finally began publicly speaking back to this movement:

And lastly, an informal interview with Professor Bret Weinstein who was targeted at Evergreen back in the spring:

Also, thanks to all the chaos, controversy, and blatant disrespect fomenting on that college campus, Police Chief Stacy Brown decided to resign. And can you really blame her? I would’ve too. Life’s too short to put up with working somewhere where you’re obviously unwanted and are restricted by the administration from doing your assigned job.

“PoMo’s Faux-Cult”

Thoughts on American exceptionalism and race relations

For all the critiques I may volley at my nation, the truth remains that the American national project continues to be the highest ideal dreamt up on this planet thus far. Not that all of its ideals have materialized or been brought into fruition to their fullest extent possible, but the original dream itself is exceptional and awe-inspiring.

Unfortunately, plenty out here today wish to undermine it, spit upon it, and dismantle it. Why? Because they see it as rooted in evil due to being the brain-child of white men from long ago. White men being synonymous with everything hate-filled and exclusionary, so some like to think. They take issue with the fact that slaves were brought to this country (though it can be argued that America engaged in slavery for a shorter duration than many other countries, particularly those in the Middle East). They also take issue with this land having been “stolen” from the natives who lived here before — as if any land hasn’t changed hands throughout the course of history, typically through much bloodshed. And nowadays they take issue with what they see as inherent corruption that they assume is deeply ingrained and a natural byproduct of a powerful Western nation (though all nation-states are vulnerable to corruption, as were all chiefdoms — and this is hardly a feature unique to the West).

Some take issue with our police forces and accuse them of racism. Though current research provides evidence that cops are actually less likely to use lethal force against black people as compared against white people. Then again, other findings suggest blacks are more likely to be handled roughly than whites by cops, so the narrative that cops are racist marches onward. One could ponder the general demeanor of black folks toward cops in trying to understand why cops might opt for a more rough-handed approach in dealing with them, but that’s a taboo topic to discuss publicly, lest you be labeled a racist as well. Seems to me that the general behavior of an easily identifiable demographic has the unfortunate consequences of leading all of them, even those who comply with lawful orders, to be treated with heightened scrutiny and cautiousness. Now, does that qualify as an inherent, institutionalized form of racism? Hmm. It doesn’t strike me as so since it appears more to do with risk assessment and police taking proactive measures to deescalate any potential threats. Is that unfair? Depends on how far it’s taken and what the circumstances are in a given situation. It’s not as if police officers are known for being extremely kind and gentle to all others suspected of wrongdoing. It seems to me this issue winds up being at least partly a matter of projection, whereby individuals break the law or are highly uncooperative when being questioned by police but then become indignant when any consequences are doled out.

Take, for instance, all the talk on Evergreen’s campus about an event in 2015 where a police officer shot two *unarmed* black male brothers named Bryson Chaplin (21) and Andre Thompson (24) shortly after they attempted to rob a grocery store of beer. In a piece titled “In Solidarity with the Struggle for Racial Justice at the Evergreen State College” written by Peter Bohmer (a member of the faculty at Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA — posted May 29, 2017), he harkens back to that off-campus case:

Two years ago, May 21st, 2015, two young Black men, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson were both shot in Olympia, Washington by white police officer Ryan Donald in Olympia as they were going home on their skateboards after attempting to shoplift some beer from a local Safeway. In a miscarriage of justice and emblematic of the continuing racism here, although there were no injuries to the white police officer, and Bryson Chaplin was shot multiple times by Officer Donald and is in a wheelchair; the police officer was not charged with any crime nor disciplined while the two young men, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson were convicted on May 18, 2017 of third degree assault. They will be sentenced in June. This is part of the context for the movement on campus which also contains demands against racism by campus police.

Peter Bohmer proved especially prolific in writing about that event in various places, every time characterizing the situation as a white cop mistreating black youths in a completely unwarranted fashion.

Evergreen State College’s student newspaper The Cooperpoint Journal contains several articles pertaining to this case, including one describing major protests in front of the Olympia police station the very next day:

“Whose lives matter? Black lives matter!” was the chant ringing out in downtown Olympia Thursday evening as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in response to the shooting of two unarmed black men, stepbrothers Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, by an Olympia police officer, drawing national media attention.

The two men, Thompson, 24 and Chaplin, 21, remain in the hospital and are expected to survive, although Chaplin was still listed as in critical condition as of Thursday evening.

Officer Ryan Donald shot the brothers around 1 a.m. Thursday morning, after responding to a call about alleged shoplifting from the Westside Safeway, not far from The Evergreen State College.

Olympians awoke Thursday morning to news of the incident, and began organizing throughout the day, culminating in a march to city hall, where the Olympia Police Department is headquartered.

The biggest protest began around 6 p.m. in Woodruff Park, directly next to the Westside police precinct, and about a mile from the site of the shooting.

As hundreds gathered—predominantly from the Evergreen community—they formed a circle around organizers and community members who spoke about their experiences with police, the larger national context of police violence against black people, and organizing and resistance tactics. The speakers continued to discuss these issues over a megaphone as the crowd swelled to an estimated 400 people by 7 p.m. when protesters took the street on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Perry Street.

Protesters marched down the hill, blocking traffic in both directions on Harrison Avenue, while yelling and chanting “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”

Crossing the Fourth Avenue Bridge into downtown, the crowd’s numbers reached an estimated one thousand people, shutting down Olympia’s main thoroughfare on their way to the city center.

Once in downtown, protesters stopped and held the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street, for the first time becoming quiet. Organizers asked the crowd to participate in a four and a half minutes of silence, symbolic of the four and a half hours Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after being shot by police earlier this year in Ferguson, Missouri. Everyone sat silently in the street, before beginning call and response chants of victims names: “Andre Thompson, Bryson Chaplin, we honor you.”

When the demonstrators reached city hall, they blocked the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Cherry Street, many demanding that Ryan Donald be indicted for his actions. They continued to hold a rally in front of city hall for nearly an hour, with more speakers and chants, before marching back through downtown and over the bridge to Woodruff Park.

On their way back, at least two motorists instigated confrontations with demonstrators, but the march resolved peacefully, with people dispersing between 9:30 and 10 p.m.

Later that night, a smaller number of protesters rallied again at the Artesian Well and occupied the intersection outside city hall. Most wore all black and covered their faces, marching behind a large banner reading “cops=murderers,” and “judges=executioners,” and emblazoned with a circle A, an anarchist symbol.

This group was more antagonistic towards the police, and the situation escalated when they began to clash with pro-police demonstrators in front of city hall. Police then used flash grenades to disperse the crowd at about 12:15 a.m. Friday morning, leading to moments of chaos in downtown as demonstrators and confused bystanders scattered, running and yelling.

The anger of protesters and community members is exacerbated by disputes about the details of the shooting. More information and facts concerning the incident are still being discovered. However, based on what we already know, many believe that Officer Donald’s use of force was not only unnecessary, but also racist.

Even a vigil was orchestrated for the shot brothers. And this year (2 years later, mind you) they circulated news of another gathering to show more support. Why? Because those students and faculty members view the incident as a clear-cut example of police brutality and the shooting of unarmed suspects, period. This is an ideologically influenced position they are taking, convinced that police are automatically in the wrong in pretty much all cases and that racial minorities are rarely deserving of whatever consequences befall them based on their actions and choices.

This is a problem nationwide currently, the spreading of this attitude. The narrative it promotes is not only anti-police and pro-minorities but it’s also recently showing itself to be outright anti-white and anti-American.

Some would say if you can’t beat it, then burn it down. That appears to be what’s trying to unfold at present across this land…

Nevermind the history — the same sort of people are responsible for tearing down Southern statues and monuments and have since been turning their attention toward trying to remove museum displays. So the modus operandi there appears to be to erase history, or any signs or mention of it.

Take as another recent example the case of a student group called “Reedies Against Racism” protesting a required humanities course at Reed College, wherein a student reportedly stated: “forcing students to take a mandatory Western Civilization course is really harmful.” That being a course said to focus on great thinkers from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.

The protest continued this school year, as students interrupted the lecture, got in screaming matches with students, boycotted classes, and vowed to have silent protests during every lecture. The student activists have also brought in mental healthcare advocates for students who have reported having “panic attacks” due to the course material.

“The course in its current iteration draws from predominantly white authors and relies heavily on the notion that Western customs are the most civilized because they are derived from those of ancient Greeks and Romans who are considered the inventors of civilization,” Alex Boyd, a main Reedies Against Racism organizer, told The College Fix via Facebook recently.

Check out the list of demands put out by “Reedies Against Racism.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so goddamn obstructive.

So, what do these types of people want? What’s their primary objective here? Do they really detest all that America is or ever was? If so, why? Totally taking for granted the privileges they themselves do in fact partake in? Ideologically-possessed, yes, but what else is this? Is looking more and more to me like a will to destroy. One obstructs when they cannot or will not construct. So how does one effectively react to this? Arguments don’t seem to work.

21st century economics

Was just watching a few minutes of some heart-wrenching movie starring Denzel Washington where he played a father who’s down on his luck due to downsizing at his company, only to be confronted by an unforeseeable heart condition afflicting his young son which requires a heart transplant in order to survive, and only to find out his insurance coverage through his job had been reduced along with his hours. Drew a few tears out of me, not that that’s difficult to do. But it also bleeds into a topic that stays in the back of my mind and always has: modern-day economic disparity.

Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t take an emotional argument like that depicted in tonight’s movie to get a rise out of me. Just happened to be what tripped my trigger this particular evening. Some would argue that a scenario like that described above is fairly rare, which is probably true, and they might go on to caution me to look out how centralized, state-funded healthcare programs haven’t produced the desired results. Won’t get an argument out of me about that. My stance continues to be that we as a society would be better off if health insurance companies were cut out of much of our healthcare system, possibly being reserved for unforeseen emergencies and catastrophic events only. As it stands now, insurance companies dictate the cost of healthcare at pretty much every level and are responsible for so much of it being cost-prohibitive out of pocket for the average citizen. The only way costs will be corrected (and largely lowered) is if our medical establishment becomes a truly free market without middlemen insurance companies aiding in inflating the costs. The fact that nearly all medical expenses (including routine care and prescriptions) are too much for the average consumer to afford is the sign of an unsustainable setup.

Many, many people are beholden to insurance companies in order to receive quality healthcare. I’m not, but I’m an outlier who thankfully has managed to remain pretty healthy thus far. But I listen to all of you out there and hear the frustration. Plenty of people are disgruntled about the cost of insurance that is automatically deducted from their pay, and plenty aren’t intimately familiar with what all their plans will or won’t cover. Because reading those forms is a legalese jargon nightmare, as is so often the case when it comes to important matters.

But my thoughts tonight aren’t restricted to the U.S. healthcare system or Obamacare. That’s just one mighty arm of this larger economic concern.

Modern life can seem most maddening when it comes to observing economic disparity. Now, I already know what my libertarian brethren will say about how we don’t want a socialist system and how that will only make matters worse. Not disagreeing with you there. However, something does indeed have to give. Not sure what exactly or how, but when this many people (and now we’re on a global stage where everybody’s watching) are experiencing feelings of resentment because their reality is absolutely nothing like the rich people’s reality broadcast all day/everyday on television, there’s going to be a problem eventually. The rights people are fighting to uphold are falling apart partly because they’re viewed as benefiting some more than others. Right or wrong, that’s the increasingly common perception. And it’s perceptions that are stoking the embers of aggravation and disrespect — it’s perceptions you are all up against. If perceptions don’t change, which they likely won’t if disparities continue to grow, then more and more people will seek to tear down the very system that’s currently in place. And they might win out.

I read where some alt-righters like to denigrate all socialists or leftists as a bunch of overly emotional idealists with no concept of how the real world works. Well, in some cases that may be true, but the potential threat they pose remains the same regardless. People don’t have to operate with sound logic and rationality in order to wage a culture war, and there are no guarantees that those deemed most logical and rational will win in the end. It comes down to a battle of ideas, and what’s working against some of you is that you’re viewed as insincere and uncaring about the masses. So good luck in attempting to change hearts and minds, especially if you or other dumbass minions claiming to belong to the groups you’re identified with use abrasive tactics in trying to put points across.

Classist concerns have always impacted my outlook and worldview. That’s no secret. And I can tell you that as a long-time libertarian-leaning individual it can feel uncomfortable at times arguing alongside the smug types who care mostly about protecting and maintaining and increasing their own, forever talking as if all they have came purely as a product of their hard work, failing to mention the people they’ve met along the way who’ve given them breaks or the lucky opportunities that have arisen. I’ve been fortunate to have met a wide variety of people over time in person, including a few who received their money through inheritance (“trust fund babies” is what we refer to them as). Had a client once upon a time who shared he was left a sizeable amount of money, enough to where his wife didn’t need to work and he was able to take over a year off between jobs without worrying. That’s not a reality I personally can relate with one bit. And yet he and I both consider ourselves libertarians of sorts and had many conversations about economics (me mostly listening since he worked in that sector and so had plenty to tell).

A man like him can become very defensive when confronted about his fortunate circumstances of birth. Not that I confronted him on it since that wouldn’t have been good for business back then. But I have confronted others I’ve met at times, pointing out the differences between us. Why? Because I can’t help but notice. Another man I used to know, a friend, has a timeshare in Jamaica and regularly vacations there and down to Florida with his entire family. He liked to tell me about it, and honestly sometimes I didn’t want to hear about it, especially when I was hitting the skids and having financial problems. Nice as he was as a person, he couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand him entirely on that level. He took time off work to heal up after very expensive elective surgeries, surgeries me and mine wouldn’t have an option to receive because we can’t afford it (even those with insurance can’t afford the amount expected to be paid out of pocket) nor can we afford the time off work. Different options lead to different outlooks.

I used to work for a man who raced Porsche cars that he owned. If you can imagine that. Even picked me up in one one time to show it off (very uncomfortable because when they race them there’s these bars inside to reinforce the cabin in case they roll — and those bars don’t come out) when I traveled down South to visit with him. That man would tell me stories of what it was like going from making over $500,000/yr. to a little over $100,000/yr. — a MAJOR transition for him and most especially for his wife. Was a truly nice guy overall and I still remember him fondly, but do you think I could relate with anything he was presenting me with? I’ve never made anywhere close to $100,000/yr. in my life thus far. Certainly have no idea what a $1,000 champagne brunch involves. Don’t know what it’s like to pay someone to prepare my meals in-home or come clean my house, though my Grandmother does continue to clean other people’s houses in order to supplement her social security money, as is very necessary.

I regularly met with a pediatrician, met with an accountant, met with a tax attorney, met with middle-management personnel, met with successful entrepreneurs, met with a few other lawyers, met with a former lobbyist — lots of people from a different socioeconomic strata than me. And I’m very glad for those experiences since they helped to humanize such folks, making it harder for me to concoct caricatures in my mind since I had met them and gotten to know them. Though I’d be lying if I pretended I don’t still harbor flickers of resentment toward upper middle-/middle-class folks in general. Probably was ingrained in me from the start, and it never fully dies. I remain aware of that tendency within me to judge, partly because I know that myself and mine were frequently enough judged by that class as well. The distrust and cautiousness runs both ways. Always are exceptions, but that’s been the general situation.

At least I’m aware of it inside myself. Plenty aren’t. Or they haven’t explored what it is exactly that they resent. Some are just envious and want what others have. I may be that way too to some extent, but I’m pretty content with having not so much and actually tend to prefer it this way. But that attitude can be a defensive strategy, as in reckoning that the less you have then the less there is to lose and miss. Others would say that’s the claims of someone lacking ambition. Perhaps so. But I would rebut by saying that some who have quite a lot didn’t gain it through pure ambition.

Either way, tit for tat squabbles aside, I understand that people’s perception can and does keep them down to where they don’t try to compete because they assume it’s futile. And that’s no way to approach a market economy if one hopes to succeed. Altering such perceptions is important, but how do you do that when fewer jobs with the chance of upward mobility are available now, yet the population continues to increase? Not everybody can be cutting edge and innovative in the ways that are being rewarded at present. When our manufacturing base was gutted and shipped to Mexico and China, that was viewed as a betrayal of a huge number of citizens in this country. It’s a position I hold as well. And once the southern border basically became a joke and undocumented workers came up to take jobs at lower wages than Americans, we as a society were presented with a new host of problems. Now we hear of tech jobs being outsourced to India and read of employees in that sector fretting over their futures. Where does this all end?

We all look out onto our society and observe so many major corporations becoming multinationals, going global and caring only about American consumers so long as another market doesn’t rise to trump our demand. Some say once the middle class grows and becomes better established in China, watch out! I don’t doubt it. Yet our country owes China a lot of money. No clue how that might all shake out in the end.

So many of these major corporations have come to dramatically alter reality for the average citizen, determining where we shop, what we eat, what technologies we rely on and who manufacturers them, how we communicate, what news we’re presented with, what information we can readily access, what hoops we must jump through in order to gain and maintain employment, etc. And yet those same major corporations feel so inhuman. Distant and operating with a whole new set of ethics and values that we then are expected to adapt ourselves to. Do you honestly think people will all be able to adapt? And what happens when they can’t or won’t? Build more privatized prisons to warehouse them within?

Do you see what I see here? This is where the Leftist argument actually contains pieces of truth, uncomfortable as they may be for some out there. People may not articulate themselves terribly well and may rely too much on the wrong leaders to do so on their behalves, but I think this is ultimately what some of them are trying to point at and call attention to. Of course these requests have fallen on deaf ears for quite a while, so I suppose it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that a bunch of ideologically-possessed college students instructed by radical agitators/professors have now taken it upon them to claim to speak for the little people (though many of them arguably are much more concerned with peddling their preferred ideology than actually helping the people whose stories they exhibit — that being how politics tends to roll). These current ideologues are working to appeal to these folks who feel relatively disenfranchised and who worry about what the future may hold.

My question for us is what ideas or counteraction do we have to offer on the libertarian, pro-market end of the spectrum? Because demonstrating that some people can become fabulously wealthy no longer sways the growing majority who can’t relate to or comprehend that level of success. It’s fast coming to be viewed as a pipe dream that’s mostly applicable to those who attend fancy universities and who come into regular contact and hob-nob with other successful people. And that’s pretty accurate since who one knows does definitely play a part in all of this. Networking is key — haven’t we all grown up hearing this repeated? For a great many people out here, it’d likely be through pure happenstance, chance, that they’d rub shoulders with a very wealthy and influential person, let alone develop an ongoing relationship with one. And now that the student loan bubble has hit a record high, fewer youths will be willing (or able) to take the risk of taking on inordinately high loan debt in order to attend a quality university. The vast majority of us needn’t worry about Harvard or Princeton since we’d likely never be admitted anyhow.

Yet every day people do turn on their televisions (much as I wish they wouldn’t, praying that they would please cancel their cable subscriptions and recognize that them paying for the service only further enriches those they view as rich and influential enough already, perpetuating the problem) and gaze upon the Kardashians and other wealthy celebrities and politicians, adding more fuel to the fire and enhancing the sense that we increasingly live in a time of haves and have-nots. But television has proven addictive, so telling people simply not to watch it is pretty pointless. Besides, people feel entertained by doing so. But what do they learn? What messages are they being sent over and over again? If you think the mainstream media is neutral, think again. And if you think marketing and advertising has a minimal impact on our mindsets and behaviors, you’re incredibly naive.

Some of what’s being marketed to us, day in and day out, is divisiveness via neo-tribalism and false narratives. Because there’s a political competition, as always, geared toward telling people what they want to hear (or scaring the hell out of them through intentional fear-mongering), and as with advertising, people can be swayed. They may not trust the Democrats, but they certainly don’t trust the other side. So then what? Libertarians who get televised tend to talk about abstract matters or legalizing/decriminalizing marijuana and that’s about it. Even when folks online do create a platform to discuss our Constitution and the necessary protection of our rights, that may appeal to someone like me, but what about someone who views the police and government as dangerous and rich people as in their own separate orbit?

We have a conundrum on our hands at present, and it certainly won’t be alleviated by throwing around useless labels and calling one another names online. How do we get across to people who haven’t learned all that much about the origins of our government or why our rights matter (thanks largely to the downfall of public schools)? How do you reassure people that caring about any of that is in their best interests when they think the whole system is rigged against them, don’t trust the corporations either, and basically have resolved themselves to be against the current setup? Call it nihilism, sure, but that doesn’t make it go away. Some folks out here seem to be craving greater chaos, almost with a devil-may-care casual attitude toward the fallout likely to occur as a result. Most others just aim to stay out of the fray and go about their daily lives, believing these feuds have always been ongoing and likely always will be, hoping they can make it through their own lives before the wheels fall off of this national project. But then that leaves their kids and grandkids to reckon with the mess when the shit eventually hits the fan.

I won’t claim to have any answers here. But I will say that considerations like this continuously reconfirm my decision to not have kids. Wouldn’t know how to prepare them for the future. And maybe that’s viewed as nihilistic on my own part, and so be it. Something’s obviously happening here, and I doubt the U.S. will be able to keep it together throughout my lifetime. More and more it looks like major social instability is just on the horizon — provoked by political opportunists, yes, but coming nevertheless. People do see an unfair situation, and I can’t blame them for viewing it that way. It’s a tough reality to come to terms with, especially when there appears to be SO MUCH wealth generated and so many possibilities on how it could be better spent rather than rich people congregating at high-priced galas or buying private jets and vacationing on luxurious islands, then showcasing it to the rest of us.

Maybe Hollywood will wind up checked this time around. Maybe. Perhaps people are finally growing tired of the lavish and inconspicuous displays of spoiled celebrities. Personally, I think it would be good for us to come to grips with how watching them really isn’t all that entertaining and instead tends to make us feel worse about our own selves and our own realities. Such comparisons only push the envelope farther. Helps no one, not even the rich celebrities who complain that they’re unfairly targeted with negative attention and are granted no privacy. Might as well give them what they want then. Would be better for us to turn our attention elsewhere and find ways to build our skills rather than continue bankrolling the already wealthy (especially where such fortunate circumstances appear undeserved). Maybe we would be better off with a more leveled society, relatively speaking, to where at least the disparity wasn’t this immense. Libertarian types might not like to hear it, but I’m frequently reminded of primatologists describing how perceived inequities lead to intense displays of outrage and aggression among chimps. We’re talking murderous rampages in some cases, even over fairly minor favoring one over the other(s). Well, we humans obviously are civilized and have a great deal more tolerance than chimps (thank goodness), but we do have our limits too, and it’s very possible that we’re approaching them (at least in terms of how the situation is being perceived — again, perception winds up being everything here). Rather than call on the government to redistribute money, which most don’t want (or don’t trust the government in doing so), we’d be better off figuring out better ways to vote with our own dollars so as to shift the balance. Talk of shopping locally turns out to not only be a hippie slogan — in our own communities is where we can have the most positive impact. Also actually voting in local elections instead of only in presidential elections (at least for those who claim to care about politics). Choosing our entertainment options more wisely so as not to reward spoiled celebrities. Figuring out more sustainable forms of energy so we can finally cease being beholden to the Saudi Royal Fucking Family. Seriously, fuck those guys! We do need more jobs, but the government’s no good at providing them (aside from the military and contractors). What else?

Some of the ideas commonly associated with the Political Left aren’t bad ideas. Not all are purely idealistic. One would think that real conservatives and real liberals alike would choose to care about sustainability. That’s an area where we could make inroads with one another, bringing ourselves into direct physical contact in the process.

That’s enough on this topic tonight.

Returning to the topic on Karen Straughan, Millennial Woes, racial grievances and what the future may hold

First entry on this topic can be found here.

Not going to delve a whole lot further into what all Karen or MW had to say on the matter. Mentioned before that I can sympathize with both of their stated positions, particularly Karen’s considering her concern over protecting her kids and their future. I do get it. However, I personally have trouble with the way these topics are being framed in terms of racial identities and am unable to fully join a side based on race alone. While I also understand that Karen herself stated that she doesn’t wish to do so either, she still does identify herself as white and would seek out others with the same in-group identification if ever it came down to being violently targeted by non-whites. That’s understandable, for those that applies to. But that’s where I get left out of the equation and therefore can’t help but look at things differently.

I’ve always identified simply as Caucasian. Is that the same as “white”? Can be, but that’s not all who constitute this racial group. All whites are Caucasians, but not all Caucasians are white. Many Hispanics are also Caucasians, as are many (if not most) Middle Easterners. Quite obviously, the Caucasian demographic is composed of people from many different cultural backgrounds, so there is no monolith there. It deserves to also be stated that white people belong to all sorts of cultures and backgrounds as well and aren’t a monolith unto their own either. As most of us clearly understand already. Italians in Italy aren’t the same as Spaniards in Spain or Germans in Germany or Swedes in Sweden, etc. Even in America we differ according to our regional cultural differences (tell me the Deep South is all that similar to New England or California — major differences between all of them), as well as socioeconomic backgrounds and political views, etc. Not in lockstep with one another and never will be, regardless of how similar the shades of our skin may be. Then there are the Canadians who to many of us Americans appear about as foreign as Europeans, despite sharing a border. Same holds true with Mexico and Central and South American nations. Very, very different places populated with people who don’t all think alike or share the same values.

That seems like common sense to where I feel a bit foolish having to spell it out on here. Yet it needs to be stated since people are turning more and more to racial identities these days now that identitarian politics is fast becoming the name of the game. Old tribalism is what is, or at least a desire to return to it. But it won’t work, not anymore, no matter how badly people might wish to seek refuge into that dream. If you can really call it a dream — looks to me quite nightmarish what’s unfolding from where I sit.

This turn toward racial divisions leaves those of us who are mixed out in outfield. Too ambiguous to truly belong to any one camp. I’ve read what several white nationalists have to say about mixed persons as well as Arabs, how they perceive bloodlines as being of primary importance (perhaps even above national loyalty and cultural identification), and how they wish to create societies that expel those not belonging to their tribe. Which would include me. So why would I attempt to identify with them, knowing enough of them hold that position? That’d be suicidal in the end, wouldn’t it?

My (maternal) family members are all white, or Caucasian if you prefer, though mixed with Native American blood on my maternal grandfather’s side. Most of my friends are white/Caucasian, including my best female friend who’s married to a Mexican man and has mixed children. So I can’t help but worry for them and people like them, not wishing to see them (or myself) ever mistreated simply due to the color of our skin and other people’s biased assumptions. Political ideologies have gone too far when we find ourselves in the 21st century being pitted against other members of our own society whom we care about. American society had made such wonderful strides away from all that for several decades in the 20th century, and now people aim to roll back the clock by promoting a warped mindset where color is everything. I don’t buy into it, not like they do. Nor will I ever. We all have our biases and prejudices, right or wrong, but if we can’t take individuals on their own merit then we have morally failed at this stage in human progression. That’s how I see it, firmly so.

I find it interesting that the most vocal racial identitarians out in society like to make fun of us who can’t or are unwilling to choose a side. As though we’re being shortsighted and too idealistic. Seems to me it comes down to principles and worldviews. For myself, any race or ethnic group who take the ethnic-nationalism position will necessarily include members who would view me as not belonging and thereby treat me as an outcast. So, that’s one concern. But beyond that, I’ve grown up around white folks all my life and am well aware that they’re not all constituted equally. There are good and bad people in every demographic, and I don’t wish to associate with those I can’t stand. Some people embrace the notion that the enemy of your enemy by default can be your friend, but I am very cautious of this idea. That’s not a solid basis for developing friendship or camaraderie or shared allegiance. It’s mostly just teaming up for the sake of trying to either screw over or ward off other people. Warding off menaces I can understand, to a point, but often it doesn’t stop there since we humans do enjoy flexing our power and too often lack the foresight and integrity to grasp when enough is enough. So I think it’s wise to choose your friends and associates carefully in this regard. We sometimes must learn through trial and error, but learn we must, lest we wind up repeating history and finding out how wicked others can be when they were only using you to get where they were trying to go.

Lots of that goes on in society. Always has and probably always will.

The way I see it, we’re facing down multi-pronged crises going forward. And these racial divisions solve nothing and only add more tension to what’s already a highly stressful ordeal. Black folks are particularly well known for being racially focused, and so be it since I doubt I can sway hardly any of their minds. Though I will go on record to say that they too will soon enough find out how many of their fellow black people don’t necessarily share the same values or agenda as them, and their own fellow black people can be just as treacherous toward other blacks as anybody of any of other race has ever been toward black folks. In short, black people are not immune to this very human tendency to abuse power and to defy tribal identities for the sake of personal acquisition. As should be clearly evident already if one cares to pay attention to crime statistics. Though I can already hear members of the peanut gallery objecting, saying that it is the fault of Europeans or white Americans for why blacks behave in such ways. That is not a satisfactory explanation, and research into African nations and their histories demonstrate that black people behave as other humans have up through time. They are not specially kinder or more empathetic or more generous — notably not even toward their fellow blacks. AND, as stated above about Caucasians, the same holds true when it comes to black people: they are NOT a monolith. Black people belong to many different cultures with varying heritages and value systems. As should be obvious. Ask a Jamaican black person what he or she thinks of American black culture. Ask a Nigerian Christian what he or she thinks of the Muslim Nigerians in their country. Ask an American black person from a rural area how much he or she relates to inner-city blacks and their lifestyles. Not all one and the same, nor deserving of being treated as such.

Same goes for Orientals and others of Asian descent…

There are much bigger problems on the horizon that affect us all, like preserving our civil rights (especially our rights to privacy and self-defense) and reckoning with technological advancements that are reshaping our whole world (from what we eat, to how we commute, access information, and work, assuming our jobs are not displaced through automation). And it’s much bigger a problem than just that. There are those who say the Cold War hasn’t ended and rather is being revamped into an even more deadly international conflict. We have come to live in the time of perpetual war (though often these invasions aren’t explicitly acknowledged in our press to be wars). Religions are on the decline, and evermore sophisticated political ideologies are on the rise. Our education system is scarily shifting into becoming propaganda hubs. Our political system has been disintegrating under the dominating influence of both the Republican and Democratic parties — neither of which gives much of a damn about the average citizens. There are major questions as to which direction the U.S. should go in from here on out, in deciding where to redraw the line on federal powers and what social programs can be afforded in the future. There are other major economic concerns as well, including confronting the burgeoning student loan bubble, while also dealing with states like California becoming two-tiered societies unto themselves (sharply expanding gulfs between the haves and have-nots) and states like Illinois facing eventual bankruptcy. Not enough money to go around. Yet political corruption has grown more troublesome than perhaps ever before in this country.

Our mainstream media can no longer be relied upon for providing accurate information. Our K-12 schools are introducing curriculum that very likely will further stunt student math and reading scores. Multinational corporations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft behave more and more like monopolies. Obesity and diabetes are proving epidemic. Major corporations are corrupting scientific research through direct funding and through political lobbying efforts. AND we as a nation are taking in so many immigrants and so-called “refugees” from elsewhere that the public resources are being tapped out, jobs are growing more scarce, and our uniquely American culture promises to be dramatically altered as a result on down the road.

These are dark times we’re approaching. I’ll argue that we’re far better off defining what it is we actually do value and forming alliances with similar others rather than wasting time on racial dividing. Those are the old ways of forging group identity — we live in a new world now. Those old ways no longer make sense, which I’m willing to bet the ethno-nationalist types will soon enough find out. Race/ethnicity alone isn’t sufficient to form real and lasting bonds, not for most Westerners anyway, because we as people have evolved beyond that stage in our development. Those who haven’t eventually will be forced to do so through life’s harsh lessons. All who look like you certainly aren’t your friends and don’t necessarily share your interests. Possibly just the opposite. And often enough those who consider themselves disadvantaged will jealously prohibit others they have influence over from achieving better. That’s no good. Leads to a dead-end road.

Demographics alone do not define us as the individuals we are. Yes, they contribute to our individual makeup, but we need not be entirely constrained by them.

Because I am a woman doesn’t mean that I share a great deal in common with all other women (actually found myself at odds with most women most of the time). Because I am half Arab doesn’t mean I must give a special damn about other Arabs (I merely see them as other human beings inhabiting the planet and treat them accordingly, though admittedly so far I have not encountered Arabs I share much in common with — too big of a cultural divide since I was born and partially raised in Mississippi to a non-Arab family). Many mistake me as Hispanic anyway (that being, for the record, a group of which I’ve met plenty of very kind, hard-working people whom I take little or no issue with). And because I am Caucasian doesn’t mean I must see myself or be seen by others as being automatically in opposition to black Americans. Some black folks are very cool, and some definitely are not. Crime statistics do alert us to the potential danger that lurks within American race relations, and I keep that in mind while aiming to treat people in accordance with how they choose to treat me. That right there is the best any of us can offer one another: to judge individuals as they come rather than simply as members of this or that demographic, assuming we’re able to discern the demographic in question in most cases.

Am I trying to sing kumbaya over here tonight? No. I’m not one of those ultra-positive types who professes the belief that people are mostly good and come in peace. Some do, some don’t. And I’m not one who pretends to be colorblind. Impossible to not notice one another’s skin color, and I am openly curious about people’s backgrounds and upbringings. Not a fan of political correctness and not too good at sugar-coating. Won’t even pretend I get along with most others in general terribly well.  lol  Hence why I’m not really in the market seeking a group to identify with, though I observe a number of you aiming to do so. But c’est la vie. We each shake out however we do. My preference is for my small circle of close friends and relatives and outside of that simply consider myself an American. Civic nationalist, you say? What’s with assigning all these labels?  straight_face  Some are forever seeking convenient ways to label and thereafter dismiss other people. But it’s not a game that amuses me much.

Anyway, not trying to stand on my soapbox so as to declare moral righteousness here either — read more about me on this blog and you’ll be disabused of that assumption. Not claiming to be a grand person. Just one person out in the crowd. One stranger in a world of over 7 billion, trying to find my way just as I imagine all of you are. And I’d rather not further complicate this life with historic, outdated tribal racial divisions that serve those who wish to see us divided and rendered incapable of opposing whatever power grabs they’d like to attempt. It’s become a serious distraction.

This isn’t really about pride so much as fanning flames of hostility at this point, and we know it. For those hell-bent on being divisive, I say go — take off to form your intentional communities to attempt to implement your ideological visions and leave the rest of us be. Rather see you folks actually make a go at what you’re dreaming about than continue listening to you bitch at the rest of us for not sharing your vision and agenda. Not all are on the same team, nor will we ever be. So go. Do what you think you need to do. Return to Africa if you feel the need and help rescue your African brethren from their collapsing societies. Return to wherever in Europe that you consider your motherland and try to offer aid in dealing with their immigration crisis. Go ahead and explore the world if you’re so incredibly discontent with current conditions in the U.S. and see what’s really out there. Go find out how privileged you appear in the eyes of others elsewhere.

If your goal is only to remain here while doing everything in your power to further dismantle what this unique national project was originally supposed to be about, I wish you a very difficult uphill battle with much resistance. While we don’t all get along nor ever will, we Americans do share a nation and an overarching culture, regardless of our racial/ethnic makeups. Surely we don’t all experience living here in the same ways, but that’s true also regardless of one’s race. Blaming others only gets us so far, so I’d much rather see more of us turn inward to work on our own selves — that being the main place where we possess any real power to change. Forever waging political battles with one another, especially over social matters of varying importance or over historical realities that none of us alive today can erase, is only destroying the social fabric of this nation, our home that we all depend on.

So, in closing, I’d say that turning to others that look like oneself when seeking help and protection might sound reasonable on the surface, but when you really deeply ponder on it it’s easy to see frailty in that line of thinking. It’s wishing for an easy answer where one isn’t present.

I’ll also quickly add that this trend where everybody except white folks get to celebrate their cultures and heritages, and yet white folks are demonized for doing so, needs to stop. It’s unfair and racist in its own right. And it will foment eventual consequences in resistance and rebellion. As to be expected from any group treated in such a manner. I, for one, would prefer to see us not escalate tensions where it isn’t absolutely necessary right about now. Because there are some out here itching for a fight, waiting for the opportunity to unleash their pent-up savagery, and innocent people tend to wind up victimized when the shit hits the fan. Could be your loved ones, could be mine. We’d be better off working to defuse this mounting animosity before there’s no longer a way to stop that ball from rolling downhill and running over whomever happens to be in its path. That’s my prayer for us this evening.