Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds

Spring Break Monday Links

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Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney. What a story. I bawled.

* Apocalyptic flooding scheduled for Wisconsin.

Hampton, Florida, the little town so corrupt even the rest of Florida thinks it’s gone too far.

* Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the United States and Canada, and they earn about a third less than their male counterparts, according to a report released on Friday by the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization.

* The greatest secret of American manhood is: We are afraid of other men. Masculinity as Homophobia.

Union research document says Obamacare will hasten income inequality. When job creators create lousy jobs.

At best, job creation is merely an inadequate palliative for years of deep recession. At worst, it’s an active strategy for redirecting wealth upwards and further immiserating the working class. Quantify that.

Not even climate change will kill off capitalism.

* Millennials in adulthood. Millennials and college degrees. The Self(ie) Generation. College Grads Taking Low-Wage Posts Displace Less Educated. Are Millennials different?

* “You stole the documents we were hiding from you which proved we were lying, so we spied on you to find out how you did that.”

* Annals of Obama negotiating with himself.

* A theory of neoliberalism: Wages versus Assets.

* Democrats are really starting in with the surrender-to-hopelessness blitz EARLY this cycle. Meanwhile.

A rare sociological analysis of Federal Reserve policy confirms what many economists already knew: top central bank officials missed the oncoming crisis because they failed to make the connection between housing, the banking industry and the economy. I don’t know; my rule is never attribute to incompetence what can be adequately explained by soulless millionaires cynically cashing out.

What happens to our financial safety net when we are already renting out our couches, giving rides after work, and running tasks on the weekends just to stay afloat?

If you pirate a digital copy of The Triple Package, use the find and replace function. Find “successful cultural group” replace with “bourgeoisie” and then the book will become a coherent and honest provocation, rather than the triple package of neurosis, projection, and obfuscation that it really is.

Maternal mortality rates are falling in every industrialised nation – except for the United States.

* The latest for the “every cop is a criminal” file.

* The latest for the “lolz you didn’t write the laws right” file.

* Do I read this right? An off-duty cop shot somebody and the other guy got charged with assault?

* The unrelenting gaze of the police never wavers in Milwaukee.

Detroit Scam City: How The Red Wings Took Hockeytown For All It Had.

Idaho Governor Poised To Sign Totally Insane, Obviously Disastrous Bill Allowing Concealed Guns On College Campuses.

* de Blasio vs charters in NYC. How charter schools get students they want. In the great efforts they are expending to exclude the students that are the most difficult to educate, charter schools are lending more credence to my argument about the arrow of causation in our perception of school quality than I could ever generate.

The real problem is that a very few, very wealthy individuals override the voices of thousands upon thousands of experienced educators and parents.

* Mother Canada? Is that a thing? Displays of Canadian nationalism always seem off to me. Letting down the side, Canada.

* South by Southwest’s unpaid labor problem: Why it’s risking a class action lawsuit.

* Cartoonist Chris Ware on outsider art, reading aloud and the Common Core.

* Climate change is the modern fully realized, the modern as tending towards undoing its own conditions of existence.

* I had no idea just disintegrating in midair was something that could just happen to planes. I wish I didn’t know it now.

* Wages for Sea World animals: Yes, California Can Really Ban Shamu, Legal Experts Say. Can’t they just argue exploiting whales and making their lives miserable is free speech? That’s how it works with humans.

* I was saying this weekend (1, 2, 3) that voting for Rand Paul is not as irrational as it might seem at first glance, given the unilateral powers the executive branch has in the U.S. and his stated opposition to the war on drugs and the war on terror. What’s interesting is that Rand Paul himself absolutely does not want me to hold this opinion.

* Can We Learn About Privacy From Porn Stars?

* 11 of the Weirdest Solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

* A brief history of nonsense.

* Too late! We already designed modern cities around it.

Great walls to end tornadoes in our time? What could possibly go wrong?

* Truth and reconciliation in Guatemala.

* Towards White History Month.

In 2007, Gary Younge (he is an ally) suggested that what we all needed is a White History Month. Gary reminded us: “So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders ‘get assassinated,’ patrons ‘are refused’ service, women ‘are ejected’ from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few. In removing the instigators, the historians remove the agency and, in the final reckoning, the historical responsibility … There is no month when we get to talk about [James] Blake [the white busdriver challenged by Rosa Parks]; no opportunity to learn the fates of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who murdered Emmett Till; no time set aside to keep track of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, whose false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys sent five innocent young black men to jail. Wouldn’t everyone–particularly white people–benefit from becoming better acquainted with these histories?”

* And Rebecca Onion has a 1940s Board Game for French Kids Taught Tactics for Successful Colonialism.

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Just a Few Monday Links

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We live in a time of noblesse oblige without the oblige – wealth disguised as merit and merit as a pretext for malice. Nobility dodges, nobility punishes. Nobility pretends it is not nobility, and tells us to take out short-term loans.

* On writing, and then revising, a dissertation: As much as you may hate what you’re writing at this exact moment, you will only feel a more precise and exhausted loathing toward it later on.

* Ezra Klein: Five thoughts on the Obamacare disaster.

* Histories of the Tea Party from Jacobin and the New Yorker.

* Kevin Drum steals my bitCan America Survive Parliamentary Norms in a Presidential System?

* To my tenured colleagues.

And MetaFilter considers “League of Denial.”

And a Few Wednesday Links

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Law school in America moves toward an open admissions policy. Where are the accreditors? This is insane.

* Russia really wants everyone to boycott its Olympics.

* Darrell Issa more or less proposes naming all water after Ronald Reagan.

In short: because of what the U.S. government assumed it could do with information it had the technological ability to intercept, American companies and American interests are sure to suffer in their efforts to shape and benefit from the Internet’s continued growth.

In other words, gold pays off when there is an outbreak of goldbug-ism. Gold is a bet that there will be more goldbugs in the future than there are now. And since the “gold will be money again” story is very deep and powerful, based as it is on thousands of years of (no longer applicable) historical experience, it is highly likely that goldbug-ism will break out again someday. So if you’re the gambling type, or if you plan to start the next Zero Hedge, or if your income for some reason goes down when goldbug-ism breaks out, well, go ahead and place a one-way bet on gold.

And the History of Philosophy, from 600 B.C.E. to 1935, Visualized in Two Massive, 44-Foot High Diagrams.

Friday Links! Tons of Them! Not All of Them Depressing!

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* The kids are all right: the editorial in the Marquette Tribune today is anti-edX, anti-robo-graders.

* MOOC as intellectual neocolonialism. Why online education is mostly a fantasy. The MOOC monster will never be satisfied.

* “I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” said State Sen. Alberta Darling at Tuesday’s hearing. “Here we have accounts of tuition being squirreled away at the same time you raised tuition. What was your intent?” Scenes from the war on higher education in Wisconsin.

* Depression and graduate school.

* On “disruption.”

Perhaps it is the self-aggrandizement the authors seem to share with the ballooning employer-fix-it crowd, but when I encountered this perennial theory in The Innovator’s Prescription, I finally realized that everything I learned as a bartender at HBS was true: things do work out perfectly when we all nod in agreement, sketch it out on cocktail napkins, and congratulate each other for being in each other’s presence.

Hundreds of Chicago Students Walk Out of Standardized Test. Chicago Public Schools cancels district-mandated standardized test for kindergartens and first graders.

What does the ubiquitous cheating in reform-era education mean? It means that reformers are so dumb they can’t even set up arbitrary benchmarks for success; they literally fail their own tests despite having written the questions and answers themselves. Imagine a panel of fish oil salesmen riddled with arthritis and clearly suffering from memory loss and you get some idea. What the cheating proves is that these people are liars and cheats, but more than that, it proves that the systems of accountancy and auditing promoted by the liars and cheaters are themselves a lie. The reform is doubly fraudulent.

US schools weigh bulletproof uniforms: ‘It’s no different than a seatbelt in a car.’ Well, maybe it’s a little different. Can we agree it’s a little different?

In short, it’s time to cash out of capitalism. Here at http://stocktips.gerrycanavan.com we’ve been rating capitalism as a DON’T BUY for years.

Workplace Safety and the Gilded Age Theory of Risk. Hundreds of thousands of Bangladesh’s garment workers walk out in protest over factory deaths. Yglesias shrugs.

* Surprise! The Hostess bankruptcy was union-busting.

A 2010 report produced by a Dallas investment house found that aside from the richest of the rich, among the remaining 90 percent of NFL players, nine in ten of them would be insolvent within ten years of retirement.

* UCLA professor let his students “cheat” on a game theory midterm. I can’t decide if he should have flunked the Lone Wolves or given them A+s.

* Matt Weiner says Mad Men season six is structured by the Wikipedia entry for Dante’s Inferno.

The spectacle has to be shaped carefully so that suffering takes on the qualities of an elevating narrative the audience can feel part of, an affirmative allegory of capitalism in which hard work and energetic competition show us the most worthy, the winners. Jacobin vs. the Oscars.

* Rachel Maddow vs. Alex Jones.

May the curse of labor be cursed, may the ineluctability of production become its sorrow.

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever.

* And I hate it when politicians break kayfabe. As my friend @mikemccaffrey put it: “Can you please identify the president who assaulted your democracy in this lineup?”

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Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

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* “We need to hire a 22-22-22,” one new-media manager was overheard saying recently, meaning a 22-year-old willing to work 22-hour days for $22,000 a year. Perhaps the middle figure is an exaggeration, but its bookends certainly aren’t. According to a 2011 Pew report, the median net worth for householders under 35 dropped by 68 percent from 1984 to 2009, to $3,662. Lest you think that’s a mere side effect of the economic downturn, for those over 65, it rose 42 percent to $170,494 (largely because of an overall gain in property values). Hence 1.2 million more 25-to-34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2011 than did four years earlier. “Willing” is certainly doing an awful lot of work in that first sentence. Welcome to the age of the permanent intern.

* The Singularity Already Happened; We Got Corporations: Capitalism as Evil AI.

“Have prisons and jails become the mass housing of our time?”

* New York Times shuts down its Green blog. In other news, every spectator sport has its own blog at NYT.

* The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has isolated twelve criteria for determining if individuals qualify as legally “hopeless.” The following pamphlet is a brainstorm: it considers what steps a debtor might take in order to persuasively claim the mantle of hopelessness. Rather than examine softcore options, we explore the potential of self-inflicted tragedy.

* Massively Open Online Test Proctoring. MOOC as “mass psychosis.”

* Shockingly, saving the world usually involves using Silicon Valley’s own services.

* Federal education spending accounts for just 3 percent of the $3.5 trillion the government spent in 2012.

pope-500x800* Algorithmic Rape Jokes in the Library of Babel. Wow.

* How a bizarre email from BachelorsDegreeOnline.com exposed the sleazy side of for-profit college recruitment.

* UCLA medical school and Herbalife.

On Argo and bullshit.

* Marvel Comics presents The Life of John Paul II.

New Study Finds ‘The Onion’ Has Never Been More Popular, More Beloved, Or More Respected.

* “On the development of companion robots in Japan.”

And Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing will close out the Wisconsin Film Festival. I’d really, really like to make this.

Thursday Night Links

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* Merit and the academy. Challenging, thoughtful post from Timothy Burke.

* My beloved alma mater found out about MOOCs. Meanwhile, the New York Times kind of buries the lede: “So far, most MOOCs have had dropout rates exceeding 90 percent.”

* The Atlantic argues the student loan crisis ain’t no thang. I suspect they’re quite literally cribbing from Adam.

* What could possibly go wrong? Utah considering bill to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.

According to the Times, the ACLU compiled a 5,000 page report on the SAO, a group of former Minutemen and other right-wingers and violent home-grown fascists, for the benefit of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “alleging the Federal Bureau of Intelligence recruited a band of right-wing terrorists and supplied them with money and weapons to attack young antiwar demonstrators.”

Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set.

Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey results suggested that people who rejected climate science were more likely than other respondents to reject other scientific or official findings and buy into assorted fringe theories: that NASA faked the moon landing, that the Central Intelligence Agency killed Martin Luther King Jr., that the AIDS virus was unleashed by the government, and so forth.

This piece of research appeared in a specialized journal in psychological science, but it did not take long to find its way onto climate skeptics’ blogs, setting off howls of derision.

A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs.

* Forget it, Jake, it’s Pretoria: The South African police replaced the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius homicide case on Thursday after embarrassing revelations that he was facing seven charges of attempted murder himself.

* Zombies and the bomb.

Why Gender Equality Stalled. This country hates rational health care distribution, too. America!

Prison and the Poverty Trap.

* Doctors are the next career to be deskilled and deprofessionalized. Ah, progress!

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

It Wouldn’t Surprise You If This Headline Was About 318 People Being Shot In 12 Different Public Places.

* A sea change for mass culture: Nielsen Ratings Will Add Streaming Data For Fall 2013.

* Tumblr of the day: Shit Rough Drafts.

Emory President Censured.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.

Slavoj Žižek vs. capitalism, round 200. This is almost literally a full rerun.

* Florida, after two years of Tea Party Rule. But even he isn’t a real conservative…

* Ezra Klein: Obamacare is winning.

The average prison sentence of men who kill their women partners is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their partners are sentenced on average to 15 years, despite the fact that most women who kill do so in self-defense.

* World’s greatest Venn diagram: Chemical Elements vs. US States.

The NCAA, an organization with such open-decision making practices and clear accountability as to provide lessons to the mafia, is forcing a University of Minnesota wrestler to give up his music career or be declared ineligible for profiting off his own image.

* From the too-good-t0-check files: Young Japanese Women Rent Out Their Bare Legs as Advertising Space.

The New York State Thruway Project, Social Issue Signage Disguised as Historical Markers.

And we’re going to burn every drop of oil and destroy the future. Gleefully. Enjoy your weekend!

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Evening Links

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* World saved from Zack Snyder Star Wars movie.

But it was too late for the Atlantic, powerless before Tom Cruise’s superpowers.

* 2013 in franchise science fiction, from io9. Only Brad Bird’s 1952 can save us now.

* New York Times already hyping Ender’s Game.

* The best companion says she won’t be back for Who‘s 50th.

* The Disneyland of paranoia. See also McSweeney’s:

First, they came for unregulated handguns in the possession of citizens with violent criminal records, and I said, “You know, that sounds reasonable. Someone with a violent criminal record has probably lost his or her right to possess a handgun. So, yeah, sounds good.”

Then they came to require background checks, gun licenses, and regular gun safety courses, and I said, “All of this sounds fine to me. Guns are dangerous, and we regulate every other dangerous product. So, really, whatever you want to do on this is also fine.”

Then they came for my assault rifle, and I said, “Assault rifles? You should have started with assault rifles. You’re doing this backwards. But OK, of course you can have my assault rifle. Why do I need an assault rifle?”

Then they came to guarantee mental health care to everyone, because our treatment of our most vulnerable citizens is a measure of our dignity as a society, and I said, “This one is obvious. In fact, I can’t believe we HAVEN’T been guaranteeing mental health care for everyone who needs it. Let’s get going on this.”

* And just one political link: The high price of being single in America.

Three More for Saturday Night

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Monday 2

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* Kenyan anti-colonial behavior: On Oct. 5, a British high court ruled that three elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused by colonial authorities in Kenya in the 1950s can proceed with their case against the British government.

* Early voting starts today in Wisconsin.

* Longitudinal study of 1,000 Wisconsin high school graduates from the class of 1957 proves that the popular kids really were just better.

The data show that over the entire 345 years, 22 percent of all authors were female. (Even though few papers in the JSTOR archive originated in the first 100 years, the researchers still felt that examining the entire data set was worthwhile.) The data also show that women were slightly less likely than that to be first author: About 19 percent of first authors in the study were female. Women were more likely to appear as third, fourth, or fifth authors.

According to the data in just the most recent time period, it is clear that the proportion of female authors over all is rising. From 1990 to 2010, the percentage of female authors went up to 27 percent. In 2010 alone, the last year for which full figures are available, the proportion had inched up to 30 percent. “The results show us what a lot of people have been saying and many of my female colleagues have been feeling,” says Ms. Jacquet. “Things are getting better for women in academia.”

Women still are not publishing, though, in the same proportion as they are present in academe as professors. The same year that the share of female authors in the study reached 30 percent, women made up 42 percent of all full-time professors in academe and about 34 percent of all those at the most senior levels of associate and full professor, according to the American Association of University Professors.

The Left must not only defeat austerity and preserve the social safety net; it must do so in such a way that assembles the forces necessary for more fundamental transformations in the future.

* Why your uncles believe crazy things: this guy.

Mainstream election experts say that Spakovsky has had an improbably large impact. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine, and the author of a recent book, “The Voting Wars,” says, “Before 2000, there were some rumblings about Democratic voter fraud, but it really wasn’t part of the main discourse. But thanks to von Spakovsky and the flame-fanning of a few others, the myth that Democratic voter fraud is common, and that it helps Democrats win elections, has become part of the Republican orthodoxy.” In December, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote, “Election fraud is a real and persistent threat to our electoral system.” He accused Democrats of “standing up for potential fraud—presumably because ending it would disenfranchise at least two of its core constituencies: the deceased and double-voters.” Hasen believes that Democrats, for their part, have made exaggerated claims about the number of voters who may be disenfranchised by Republican election-security measures. But he regards the conservative alarmists as more successful. “Their job is really done,” Hasen says. “It’s common now to assert that there is a need for voter I.D.s, even without any evidence.”

World’s Oldest Known Auschwitz Survivor Dies at 108.

* This year is the first year the presidential debates have ignored climate change since 1984. That’s right, friends, we’re doomed!

* And scientists are on the hunt for the Forest Moon of Endor. God, I hope they find it.

Lots and Lots of Monday Night Links

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* ThinkProgress reports solar is surging. We’re saved! Krugman has more, and so does Steve Benen.

* Via my dad: Soviet Bus Stops.

* Occupy my dad: Class war is intergenerational war.

* Rortybomb: Two Steps Toward Tackling Our Current Student Loan Problems. Robert Cruickshank: …any student loan reform proposal that does not include some form of principal writedowns is not likely to be very effective.

* Chris Newfield: The real issue is that imposing higher teaching loads and more on-line instruction on public universities won’t reverse the relentlessly growing gulf between elite privates and their once-elite public peers. 

* Tor reviews Stephen King’s 11/22/63. I’m much more interested in his pitch for what sounds like a truly horrifying next novel: Occupy Bangor.

“Without knowing what they ought to fear, US citizens might otherwise fail to support profitable national security initiatives.”

* A new AAUW study shows there’s an easy way for young women to avoid sexual harassment in schools: just avoid being either pretty or not pretty.

* Polling shows Americans have begun to realize Republicans are intentionally sabotaging the economy.

* Anti-vaccination fever just got a little more crazy. Via MeFi.

* Marriage equality increases property values. Is that a good enough reason?

* Also on the equality front: Dan Harmon kind-of, sort-of apologizes for the way Community treats gay and trans people.

* Everybody still hates Romney. Poor guy.

* And Bors memorializes one of the windows broken during the Occupy Oakland protests last week.

Out of Their Minds

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Moments like this point to a growing asymmetry in our politics. One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.

Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast…

What Day Is It? Tuesday?

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* 10,000 protestors gather in Madison to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union vendetta.

* Update: Computers really stink at Jeopardy. Or so I keep telling myself.

* In Yeskov’s retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science “destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!” He’s in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become “masters of the world,” and turn Middle-earth into a “bad copy” of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron’s citadel, is, by contrast, described as “that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic.”

* Matt Yglesias is making sense:

Right now we have conservatives simultaneously calling for huge spending cuts and also getting the line’s share of old people’s votes even while the vast majority of non-security spending is on old people. In essence, by first separating the domestic budget into “discretionary” and “entitlement” portions and then dividing the entitlement programs up into “what today’s old people get” versus “what tomorrow’s old people will get” the political class has created a large and vociferously right-wing class of people who are completely immune from the impact of their own calls for fiscal austerity.

* Statistic of the day: 51% of Republicans claim they don’t believe Obama was born in the U.S.

* Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam.

* But the only story anyone seems to care about is whether This American Life really has Coca-Cola’s secret formula.

This Is Why Your Parents Are Totally Crazy Now

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I don’t think I’d ever actually watched a full segment of Glenn Beck before this morning. My god. My god.

The Paranoid Style

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Tim Wise: …while Loughner would never have likely contemplated political assassination in a culture where the most pressing issue was, say, a simple philosophical disagreement over tax policy, or the proper balance between interest rates and full employment, or the percentage of GDP dedicated to debt service as opposed to long-term infrastructure investment, that is not the culture in which he (or any of us) lives. Rather, we live in a nation in which it is commonplace, and considered completely rational, for elected officials to believe the President is a foreign interloper. We live in a culture where the nation’s most powerful Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, cannot bring himself to condemn the maniacal derangement that is birtherism, but is reduced instead to a mere acknowledgement that since Hawaii says the President is a citizen, that’s “good enough for him.”

We live in a culture in which it is utterly normal, to a degree that has sadly made it nearly banal, to hear multi-million dollar, best-selling authors and talk show hosts suggest that the nation is on the verge of total fascism, death panels for the elderly, door-to-door gun confiscation, and the reconquest of the American southwest by Latinos bent on ethnic war. In short, in a society where paranoia is the daily currency of mainstream commentators, and pseudo-schizophrenic ramblings are elevated to the level of persuasive argument, we ought not be surprised that such a tragedy as occurred on Saturday might happen.

[...]

It is not necessary to show that Loughner is a follower of Glenn Beck, or Michael Savage, or any of a hundred or more local variants of the same. It is not, in the end, all that important whether he spent time on right-wing websites, or is (as a Department of Homeland Security memo seems to suggest) a follower of the white nationalist group, American Renaissance, or whether he believes (as some of his internet postings hint) that the Constitution is being usurped by the current government because of its reliance on paper money: a prominent meme among the far-right. What matters is that Loughner, like all of us, has been exposed day in and day out, for several years, to the unhinged and paranoiac ravings of persons who believe America is in its “end days,” and that the sky is falling, at least metaphorically — and not because of global warming, which is just one more piece of the left-wing conspiratorial plot to confiscate all wealth in the name of nature-worship — but because of the communist / socialist / fascist / Marxist / Nazi / Muslim / Kenyan / terrorist / anti-Christ who occupies the White House.

It is that daily stream of poisonous vitriol from which it is nearly impossible to escape.

In a culture where Glenn Beck plays “Six Degrees of Chairman Mao” every night on his chalkboard, uncannily managing to convince his flock that even the most moderate of Democrats likely hums the Internationale to his or her children rather than regaling them with bedtime stories, we can truly say that paranoia has become not only the prelude to something deadly, but sadly a form of pedantry so everyday in its appearance that we write it off as entertainment, rather than the poison it truly is.

In a culture where political rallies attended by thousands feature prominent speakers who suggest the President might well be Satan in the flesh, and marchers who carry signs suggesting “Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s Ovens,” or that the President intends to put whites into slavery, nothing should surprise us anymore.

In a media environment where highly paid commentators can keep their jobs even as they insist that those who call for the shooting of government agents so as to stop a world government takeover are “beginning to have a case,” or that a national service initiative is just a run-up to the implementation of a literal stormtrooper corps like the Nazi SS, or that “multicultural people” are “destroying the culture of this country,” or that Latino migrants are an “invasive species,” that seeks to undermine the nation, or that the President is intentionally “destroying the economy” so as to pay white people back for slavery, or that, worse, he and other Democrats are vampires, the only solution for which is a “stake through the heart,” to feign shock at the acts of a Jared Loughner is a precious and naive conceit that we can no longer afford.

Via Pandagon, which notes succinctly, “Keeping people in a permanent state of fantasy is an excellent way to push them towards violence.”

A few related links:

* The solution to gun violence is always more guns.

* Some rules for debating debate.

* Gun control for me, but not for thee.

* Nate Silver tries to get empirical.

* And these “You Lie!” bullets could be intended for anyone. It’s not a call for violence. Stop whining.

Defining Socialism Down

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A decision by the Fountain Hills Town Council to hire a single trash hauler and begin a curbside recycling program has been met with angry protests from residents who accuse town leaders of overstepping their bounds and taking a leap toward socialism. Via Cynical-C.

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