February 26, 2014

The Code of the Wafers

Dear Wafers (and Waferettes):

Many people have asked me what it takes to become a Wafer; what is the "Wafer Code," so to speak, or what are the basic characteristics of a Wafer. I understand their eagerness, because the world offers no higher status than Waferdom. Many lurk on this web site, yearning to be Wafers, and many more are, as we all know, trolfoons: they don't have the elementary courtesy or emotional intelligence to approach the site politely, and so get condemned to Utter Darkness. They keep knocking on the door, gnashing their teeth, but to no avail. They are essentially anti-Wafers, the lowest of the low. Many others are like those who press their noses against the windows of an elegant restaurant, seeing all the Beautiful People inside, wishing they could join in the fun, but somehow cannot cross over into Waferdom. (This is, after all, the only blog in the entire world worth paying any attention to.) My heart goes out to them, and it is for this reason that I feel the need, after 7.5 years, to set out The Wafer Code, explicitly, for all to see.

1. Wafers recognize that 99% of those around them, if they are living in the United States, are basically stupid and nasty. This is not said so much as a judgment as a description: it's simply the way things are, and these things are not going to change any time soon. Wafers know this, and they accept it.

2. The lives of Wafers are driven by knowledge, not fear or fantasy. They are living in reality, in short, not drowning in the mass illusions of contemporary America.

3. Wafers are serious about their lives. They are not here on this earth to waste time, to piss their lives away on other people's agendas, as are most Americans--right up to and including the president. Their goals are truth, love, and joy, and they are dedicated to pursuing them.

4. Finally, Wafers feel sorry for non-Wafers, and if they can, try to help them. They recognize, of course (see #1), that most cannot be helped; but if they come across someone who shows signs of potential Waferdom, of awakening to the the three points mentioned above, they try to fish them out of the drink, so to speak, and set them on the path of dignity, intelligence, integrity, and self-respect. Noblesse oblige, that sort of thing.

Anyway, there you have it: The Wafer Code. As the saying goes, although many may be called, few are chosen. Let us, then, continue on the Sacred Path of Waferdom. Life offers no greater achievement.

mb

196 Comments:

Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I love your post and I think it is spot on. I will have to admit that I was wrong on something.

I thought things could be better if people were more rational and used more critical thinking but I don't believe it is the case.

When I read about the enlightenment I have come to the determination that the scientific way and the rational way they believed in was insufficient especially when it came to people.

What I have come to understand is that all of this rationalism without empathy for one's fellow man is not good. Empathy is the operative word and the American people lack in this department.

Where the enlightenment went wrong was they focused on one aspect of existence which was the empirical and the natural world. Imagine if they thought of the Earth itself as a living entity. People would have more empathy for the Earth and the environment.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Even worse, I've searched the writings of the philosophes, and nowhere did I find any mention of deli meats--not once. What chance, then, did the Enlightenment project have?

mb

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

For several years running, CQ Press has ranked the Texas border city of El Paso as the safest large city in the United States. The California city of San Diego, across from border from the Mexican city of Tijuana, comes in at number four. The fifth-safest city is Los Angeles, a heavily immigrant city just two hours away from the border. San Antonio, a majority-Latino city some 2.5 hours from the border, comes in at number 10. The survey lists the 10 most dangerous cities of small, medium and large size in the United States. Not a single one of those 30 cities are located along the U.S.-Mexico border.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/us-mexico-border-security_n_4855976.html

KING CITY, Calif. (AP) — Police officers in a Central California town took part in a scheme in which cars belonging to poor Hispanic people were impounded, towed and later sold or given away for free to some officers when the car owners couldn't pay the fees, authorities said Tuesday. Four King City officers — including the recently retired police chief and the acting chief — have been arrested, and two others were also arrested Tuesday on unrelated charges

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/26/4-calif-cops-arrested-in-auto-theft-scheme_n_4856398.html

12:04 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

I've been reading Jim Harrison's Brown Dog, a recent collection of novellas featuring a real American hero. B.D. is a role-model for the alternative tradition in America. This book should be on every Wafers' reading list. Not only do these stories expertly reveal just how ridiculous most Americans are, but every now and then there's a reference (as in many of Harrison's books) to Zingerman's deli in Ann Arbor. He gets the allure of deli meat!

12:09 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Dearest Dr. Berman,

A beautiful sentiment, MB. A Code for the ages...

May the Great God of deli meats bless you and keep you.

Jeff

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Johannes said...

Dr. Belman

what I often ask myself is ..after achieving perfect Wafness..could one then consider oneself to be "At WAF"? In Waf? In a state of Waf? Are there levels of WAFness?

Does one who has attained WAFness have to declare it so..publicly?

Is a person at Waf readily apparent to the non Waf by appearance?

Thankyou for any light you may shed on these questions.

In Waffitude,
Johannes

2:19 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

What does the Code of the WAFers say about technology?
Is it possible that the obsession with technology in the USA is related to the fact that Americans have so little connection to genuinely organic ways of relating to the world, such as tradition, folk wisdom, spiritual traditions?

Isn't it a paradox that high technology, which is the product of so much scientific knowledge and technique, produces people who so lack wisdom, empathy, and intelligence?

So many progressives and libertarians (we don't have real conservatives in the USA) think that the Internet and their devices will solve the world's problems. I have a particular friend who places all of his eggs in that basket. No matter what the problem, "social media" will solve it!

The reality, though, is that people are less and less able to interact. When I am on the bus now, most people never remove their gaze from their beloved devices.
It's kind of like worshipping yourself, but the most shallow version of yourself: the surface. Your words, your "tweets," your posts. The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan said.

So if the medium is the message, what is the message of social media?

3:37 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Long live WAFERDOM !

I think the precepts of the 'code' can be summed up succinctly: BE a human being, a REAL one. The Descartseian notion that one is a higher life form, and that nothing or no-one can take it away. It can only be abdicated ( being a Being ) by the individual.

Bill Moyers has an interesting interview with Adolph Reed Jr. , re Reed's article in the march issue of Harper's ..."Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American liberalism."

http://www.nationofchange.org/surrender--america-s-liberals-1393430213

PS, along with the 'code', I suggest some kind of secret hand signal...maybe a three-fingered salute to the forehead, like a 'W' ; in order to identify the other WAFERS among us ( at least in occupied/hostile territory ).

5:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jo-

1st, the noun is Waferdom. 2nd, there are no 'levels' of it. Either yr a Wafer or yr a douche bag. Wafers are the *true* 1%, in this country. 3rd, Wafers move silently and invisibly through the population, usually taking notes so they can report back to HQ, i.e. here.

Pub-

All these questions are answered in WAF, ch. 3.

JS-

Perhaps the signal of the Van Buren Boys, as revealed in the Seinfeld episode of the same name.

mb

6:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: I've been giving a lot of thought to the Wafer endorsement for pres/VP in 2016. Here are my top choices:

1. Zimmerman/Bachmann
2. Lorenzo Riggins/Latreasa Goodman
3. Guy who peed in Pizza Hut kitchen sink/Hillary
4. Nugent/Palin

Wafers are invited to add to this list.

mb

8:23 PM  
Blogger Val said...

To address a point raised under the previous post, the 70s were the last gasp of humanity that I can recall. Once the Reagan rebolooshun took off, we tanked up on North Sea oil and blew the last hope of a decent future out our tailpipes (now popularly used for embedment purposes). At this point we're irrevocably far into the time of morlocks and elois and formerly human zombies whose brains have been eaten by televisions.

After considerable perusal of these pages, a disquieting thought has come to me. Over two decades ago I spent a year studying art in Florence, Italy. I'm afraid it was a rather unpleasant experience. For one thing the Florentines were mostly cold, unfriendly and stuck up. But even worse was that city's branch of the American university under whose auspices I attended there. The students and administrators were all American, and the whole place was suffused with a poisonously hostile atmosphere. Nobody liked each other there. This was not at all the case with Italian art academy, which I also attended. The vibes there were predominantly positive (most of the students were Italian, but from out of town). Could it be that even then, over 20 years ago, even young Americans were *already* douchebags with CRE? Or was some other phenom at play? I really don't know.

After long and relevant experience, I can however aver that Americans do love artists, especially with bacon rind.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

JS,
I love your suggestion:
"Along with the code...maybe a three fingered salute to the forehead, like a 'W': in order to identify other WAFERS among us (at least in occupied/hostile territory)"

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

9:03 PM  
Blogger Patrick D. Fitzgerald said...

@publius,

escapeartistblues@gmail is where you can find me on email.

Pat

10:22 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

OMFG MB! Nugent for president! Fucking genius! He would love to run on a platform of an ar-15 in every cradle. I think you'd be gauranteed a cushy advisory position in that administration. I can just hear the gun fire now...

10:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Look: Reagan started the process of polishing off the country in earnest. This took a quantum leap under the Cheney-Bush presidency. Obama has done a shitload of admirable damage, but not enuf, imo; why didn't we bomb Paris and Toronto, for example? But w/Ted in the W.H., we cd accelerate the whole thing and be done w/it. As an adviser, of course, I wd hafta command a 7-figure salary, altho my (daily) counsel wd always be the same: "Faster! Hurt the country more! Attaboy!" Jesus, talk abt a dream job, eh?

mb

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/british-mum-polly-mccourt-gives-3186098

This link is about the woman giving birth on the NY pavement (sidewalk) and who had her hospital cab taken by someone whose need was 'greater'. "If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere..."

Another version of Saturn Devouring His Son.

The horror is that the US launches itself on the world, heavily armed and wreaking death and destruction to the approval of its citizens till they tire of a conflict, or till the US are driven out hanging onto helicopter skids.

The more fancy the weapons, the more I despair.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bossu-

This story is what America is abt, in a nutshell. I hafta keep saying it: the macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm.

mb

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Thanks for this clear and inspiring statement of the principles of Waferdom. With respect to deli meats and the philosophers, you are alas correct. However, there are hints in some of the letters of Kant that he, at least, was aware of this serious deficiency in his thought. From a letter to Moses Mendelssohn dated April 8, 1766:

I am far from regarding pastrami itself, objectively considered, to be trivial or dispensable: in fact, I have been convinced for some time now that I understand its nature and its proper place in human knowledge and that the true and lasting welfare of the human race depends on it—an appraisal that would seem fantastic and audacious to anyone but you.

I. Kant

By the way, how does one officially join the Wafer group headed to Ireland next year?

Jerome


6:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jer-

Thanks for info on Kant's eulogy of pastrami; which I believe in one obscure essay of around the same time he referred to as "Ur-Fleisch." Mendelssohn, apparently, was trying to convince him of the superiority of gehackte Leber, but Kant remained faithful to pastrami, up to the very end.

Re: Ireland: yes, gd question. The World Wafer Summit Conference (WWSC) will take place at an as-yet undisclosed location in Ireland during 1-5 June 2015. In order for this to be a go, 7 Wafers (besides myself) hafta sign up. It's open only to active Wafers, i.e. folks who regularly contribute to this blog (last time I attempted this people wanted to attend who just heard there was a party going on--!).There's an honor system here. You hafta buy yr plane ticket by 15 Jan 2015 at the latest, and you hafta really have purchased it, not just say u did. We shall communicate abt this via my email: mauricio@morrisberman.com. I'll tell you the airport to fly to, the town and guest house we'll be staying at, etc. I'll correspond w/the guest house, make the reservations, but each Wafer will hafta write the guest house as well, individually, to guarantee a place w/a Visa card # or whatever they require. Then we shall all meet in the foyer of the guest house on June 1st, go out for some serious drinking, and plan our strategy for the remaining 4 days.

I'll talk abt this again in Nov. and Dec., but for now, just know that it'll be nec to buy a plane ticket by Jan. 15.

Erin go bragh!

mb

9:34 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

Well, you know how committed I was to a Lorenzo/Latreasa ticket, but I hafta say that a Ted/Sarah ticket raises the stakes way up! Ted is hard to top and will probably be hard to topple (even by a more militant OWS), since he'll be totin' his AK-47 wherever he goes in the land of the free. The damage that Ted can do will be awe-inspiring. And Sarah, our sweet and beautiful Sarah, dumber than a box of hammers, so pure in her stupidity, so eloquent in her nonsense. Indeed, 2016 will be a difficult decision for any Wafer, to say the least. Anyway, please consider these candidates for pres/VP in 2016:

1. Frank Underwood/Selina Meyer
2. Mittney/Bunmi
3. Johnny Rocco/Zoe Barnes
4. Miley/Ray Stevens

Jeff

9:49 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

To address a point raised under the previous post, the 70s were the last gasp of humanity that I can recall.

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder‘s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

RIP H.S. Thompson

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

re: technology

Many years ago I read a science-fiction short story, probably from the late 1930s/early 1940s -- can't recall the title or author right now, unfortunately.

The story: an expedition from Earth lands on an alien world filled with abandoned cities of dazzling technical perfection, obviously the work of a race far more advanced than Earthlings. But the present-day aliens live in simple villages in the jungle & abhor the use of technology.

The dilemma for our intrepid Earthling explorers: how did this once-great race collapse & regress so terribly? How can they prevent Earth from making the same catastrophic mistake?

The resolution: once they learn to communicate with the aliens, the Earthlings learn that this race voluntarily abandoned their technological superiority as being basically the agressive adolescence of civilization, and advanced to a far higher level of civilization by living in harmony with their world & themselves. What the Earthlings treasure most is just a childish attachment to power & ego, which the aliens outgrew a long time ago.

Definitely a Wafer story!

Let me also recommend Edmond Hamilton's later SF novel The Haunted Stars, which has a similar plotline but takes a somewhat different turn, thoroughly skewering human (i.e., Western) agressiveness & its relentless drive for power & conquest.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

This talk of Immanuel Kant brings to mind an exegesis of Kant's Critik der reinen Vernunft in which the author--name now lost to me, the result of proliferating myeloid plaques in critical parts of my brain--proposed the notion that Kant was referring to pastrami and similar deli meats when he used the term "Das Ding an sich."

If I remember correctly, the philosophical community received this idea with considerable skepticism, but acknowledged that the occasional opacity of Kant's formulations might well permit such an interpretation.

Wir wünschen einen guten Appetit!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

Ran across a couple of fine articles...

your tax dollars at work:

http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-10-10/news/the-10-most-corrupt-tax-loopholes/


Boy, these poor guys have it rough, huh...

http://money.cnn.com/2014/02/14/investing/tom-perkins.fortune/


"Oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz... My friends all drive Porches, I must make amends..."

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

Re the Enlightenment (my favorite historical era): Diderot himself opined, "It is not enough to make men smarter; we must make them better."
Don`t blame (or accuse) rationality for psychopathy.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous PronouncedSousay_AccentGraveOverE said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/27/spritz-reading_n_4865756.html?utm_hp_ref=business&ir=Business#comments

Look at this shit that Huffpo is promoting. It's so obvious that they are now being paid to print advertisements and pass them off as staff written articles, since I just saw this same company roll out online ads for the first time over the last few days. Huffpo also does the same thing whenever Taco Bell comes out with some new product they want to hawk.

Anyone want to donate some cash for my Swiss suicide clinic trip?

5:57 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Well, I consider myself a Wafer. Unfortunately, I won't be able to go :(.

How about we have the McNugget Lady for President.

Have you heard from Shep? I wish I had his number or something. I would give him a ring to see if he was okay.

More proof America has failed. A teacher is mocking a disabled child who got stuck in a chair.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/us-teacher-nicole-mcvey-films-herself-taunting-trapped-autistic-child/story-fngqim8m-1226839360983

Megan, I wonder what do you have to say about this.

By the way, I think I'm going to go the NMI way. I think I will try to read different literary works and philosophy.

What is needed is a balance of logic, philosophy, empathy and deli meats. What do you think Dr. B? Maybe some beer as well. :)

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

I have some Irish ancestry... Do you think they'd give me citizenship?

Actually, just today I heard a podcast (deadlinelive.info archives, Feb. 24) with a former(?) 60s Black Panther (Larry Pinkney /sp) who said he spent some years in Ireland. And that he considered them the most agreeable of all the Euros (or is there some Euro/UK distinction sticklers will point out.) Not that he was rating all the ethnicities or anything, he actually came across as a very pleasant, broad-minded individual who wanted the best for all people, of any color.

I don't watch tv (although I've been watching DVDs of that show In Treatment you recommended, MB! Pretty good. I'm watching it all anyway.) so the first I heard of that Cadillac commercial was via this brilliant takedown:

http://mathbabe.org/2014/02/25/ya-make-your-own-luck-nest-ce-pas/

I doubt I would've ever come up with all this, not sure I would've batted too much of an eye; rather inured and desensitized I guess (or dead inside? hm.)
---
"...There’s little chance we can underestimate our American virtues, since our overlords so seldom miss an opportunity to point them out. A case in point – in fact, le plus grand du genre, though my fingers tremble as I type that French expression, for reasons I’ll explain soon enough – is the Cadillac commercial that interrupted the broadcast of the Olympics every few minutes..."

6:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jesús, I can't turn my back for 5 mins., and u guys pile on the posts. Was on a bus today for 5 hrs to Mexico City, then had peking duck at my favorite Chinese restaurant w/an old friend of mine. Finally I get to a computer and avalanche of mail. I suppose we shd discuss merits of Wade-Giles (Peking) vs. pinyin (Beijing). Happily, Belman is the same in both systems.

Jeff-

I forgot all abt Bunmi Laditan; a natural, of course. Perhaps on a ticket with Ray Charles--is he still alive? I like Ray Charles.

Jas-

Problem with Kant is that he published his 1st drafts, which were incomprehensible. But there is some speculation that the Ding an sich was a corned beef sándwich on rye with cole slaw and Russian dressing, dill pickle on the side, plus a Cel-Ray tonic.

Blair-

That remark was hardly representative of the Enlightenment, I fear. Hyper-rationality *is* psychopathology!

cube-

Beer is the answer. But where is the shepster, I ask u? Come back, little shepa!

mb

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

This man is a dedicated wafer according to the constant suggestions of Dr. B that babies be given ak47 from birth till death

http://tinyurl.com/lf2opwl

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Cube,

Yeah, it looks pretty bad from the video. On the other hand, I suppose some context is necessary to make a final judgment. Sometimes there's a fine line between good-natured teasing and cruelty. (Also, was this student laughing and giggling? or was he in obvious distress? I think that would make a big difference here.) And oftentimes the PC brigade will confuse the former with the latter, and unfairly persecute a good person. But what strikes me about this instance is the fact that she actually filmed it. That seems very unprofessional and callous to me.

If she didn't film it, and just cracked a few jokes to keep things light--and to keep the kid from being overly embarrassed--I'd say it wasn't so bad. But filming it just seems mean-spirited and childish to me.

Beyond that, it's hard to say more without further context.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous J WS RANK said...

@ Blair ... Ah, the beauty of a naive mind.
For years, I thought that the lyrics to "Mercedes Benz" were:

"Lord, won't you buy me, a Mercedes Benz.
My friends all RIDE HORSES, I must make amends..."

Seemed to make sense to me at the time.
( Funny and ironic, I now perform regularly in a band with Valerie Johnson, who took over for Janis when she left BB&tHC to go solo.
Told her my little misinterpretation story. LOL's ! )

As for 2016, I offer these tickets that might actually win:

1. Trump/Sheen
2. Santorum/Ron Jeremy ( a perfectly balanced ticket )
3. Cruz/ McCarthy ( hey, why not a dead guy ? )
4. Coulter/Rodman ..the gender bender team !

2:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Wasn't able to run yr post. Pls observe 24-hr rule, thank you.

Anon-

I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle, thank you.

mb

10:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Russ Newman-

Pls send messages to latest post. Folks tend not to read the older ones. As for making jokes on this blog: This is the only blog worth reading, everyone shd own a drone, etc.: I am aware that many, if not most, readers will take all that seriously, because Americans have shit for brains. Probably, texts on this blog will be used to put me away in Guantánamo (plus torture) for good. ("You see what he said, your Honor??!!") I guess all I can hope for is an intelligent judge.

mb

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

iMB often tell us that US citz have shit for brains and US society is sick. I thought, that's a bit harsh. Then I read this and realised that despite everything, the US is still a beacon of hope for the world. At a time of drones, crisis and aggression to the world, the US still has time for the important issues in life, as this link shows. Justice will be served here.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/man-files-15m-lawsuit-against-mcdonalds-in-napkin-dispute-9159771.html

God bless America, Hail to the Chief and those other catchy tunes we all know and love.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

MB,


I think you've touched on an important aspect of current cultural collapse -- its crushing literalism. It's a worldview that's increasingly cramped, narrow, rigid, unforgiving. There's no room in it for metaphor, allegory, ambiguity, imagination. It views so much of human existence & interaction in terms of pathology -- I've see quite a few younger viewers refer to Andre (My DInner With Andre) as obviously mentally ill, for example, or Benjamin (The Graduate as a stalker. And how many times in online comment sections do we see people making an instant diagnosis of Aspergers, autism, borderline personality disorder, bipolarity, clinical depression, etc.? It's a worldview that lacks a sense of humor, much less a sense of the absurd, substituting glib snarkiness & an unearned cynicism & nihilism, born in a suburban basement in front of a computer, for genuine existential struggle. The default response of the average American to any situation is dysfunction, something to be treated, cured, medicated, disposed of -- never explored, experienced, wrestled with. No going into the dark places of the soul!


When I re-watched A Small Circle of Friends on your recommendation the other night -- including the director's commentary, which is exemplary & adds so much to the experience -- I was struck by how unreal it must seem to younger viewers. It's filled with urgency, energy, incredible possibilities; all manner of ideas are there to be entertained, no matter how implausible, at least in passing; life is to be explored, embraced, as something more than just a means of making money. This is the complete opposite of the current worldview in America, which is one of ever-diminishing possibilities & opportunities. And as we all know, the more an animal feels trapped & doomed, the more frightened, vicious & dangerous it becomes. "Someone has to pay, someone is responsible -- but I'm helpless, unable to do anything myself, even though I'm deserving of everything & deserve to have it."

10:51 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I may be beating a dead horse, but I propose a new category of trollfoon, the Techfoon.

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/28/glasshole_nation_techs_culture_war_takes_another_ugly_turn/

Dave Eggers' book "The Circle" coming true!

The greatest irony of these techfoons is that they think they are doing good for humanity and are shocked, shocked I tells ya when dirty punks don't agree...

11:21 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Dear Wafers:

I found this statement curious:

The dilemma for our intrepid Earthling explorers: how did this once-great race collapse & regress so terribly?

Mine isn't a criticism of the post itself, but I don't think anyone but a yanqui could have written this. The idea of "greatness" in the commonplace seems odd to me, but is something I see quite frequently when peering over the 49th parallel into Yankland. It seems you swim in this sort of thinking.

You talk about, for example, "The great state of Maine" (or Texas, or Kansas, etc.) as if that means something. We'd never say "The great province of Manitoba." It sounds ludicrous.

This idea is akin to those "God Bless America" bumper stickers that roll over our borders during tourist season. What other country has "God Bless my country" as a bumper sticker, never mind a common saying?

Our Prime Minister, and an admirer of the USA, Stevie-Boy Harper, once said "God Bless Canada." That just did not sound right. Furthermore, when anyone says "God Bless us," the implication is that the Devil can have the rest.

O & D.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regine said...

MB Wafers,

Ah events and developments are such that waferdom will become a fait a compli for many--most will kick and scream. Being engaged in matters economic is actually quite fascinating beyond dollars and pesos. Gold and silver market rigging now know to be endemic, bit coin scam, issues with obama care and of late the more serious matter of pension fund insolvencies. Its as we math nerds would characterize as the value of the derivative increasing--decline is accelerating. Those things that give meaning to your typical douchebag, technology, easy credit, government largess are all due to a convergence of factors collapsing. In years to come (and it won;t be 20, more like 2 to 5) Wafers will have a evolutionary advantage.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Edmond Dusa said...

You are aware that the Wafer Code is probably pretty common among the successful Wall Street traders?

Except of course for #3 that they would reformulate as follows:

Wafers are serious about their lives. They are not here on this earth to waste time, to piss their lives away on other people's agendas, as are most Americans--right up to and including the president. Their goals are power, capital, and the self, and they are dedicated to pursuing them.

You may look at them as deluded fools aimlessly pissing their life away for material possessions but
in truth they know no better. The culture they live in does not enable them express their true humanity no matter how flawed it may be. In form they are no different than any other people on this planet. It is their spirit that is broken.

Never forget that in every dog no matter how domestic lie dormant the heart and instincts
of the wolf. And it is only fear and lack of knowledge that keeps the dog in his chains.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Hello Dr. Berman,
Any thougts on this: http://www.sinembargo.mx/28-02-2014/916230.
Greetings.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Chuck Mertz interviewed a historian, Greg Grandin, about his new book The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World. Grandin links individualism to a foundation built within the institution of slavery. I thought it was really interesting.

http://thisishell.net/shows/787/#Grandin

6:24 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Beer fine, but let’s not forget the music…

My parents played a lot of Irish folk music and folk music in general when I was growing up. Here are a few that come to mind on the topics of Humor and Offensive Humor, Stupidity, Judges, Internment, Torture, Civilized vs Uncivilized, etc.

Link: Mr. Moses Ri-Tooral-I-Ay (live)

Link: God Bless England (live)

And, please be sure to have this easily offending parody included in your browser and court records.
Link: Wee White Turban (live)

Good luck with the tribunal!

Link: If They Come in the Morning

6:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ariel-

Madre de Dios y todos los santos! Que tetas, amigo!

jwo-

Yr a bit late: I coined the term 'techno-buffoon', or TB, abt a yr ago or so.

Bossu-

Just when you think we've hit the limits of douchebaggery, something like this happens.

mb

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Regained said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/28/arizona-anti-gay-bill_n_4860817.html

10:46 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Publius,

that's interesting to hear about your friend that thinks social media will solve everything because it sorta relates to a conversation I had with a coworker today. There's a doctor we know of that we're pretty certain likes to prescribe new drugs because of the kickbacks. We got to talking about all of the corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, but then she said that all this has always been going on, it's just because of social media that people are now aware of it. I disagreed, citing a recent NPR story. I brought up many disturbing facts, including a study which concluded something along the lines of the level of opioids present in American's bodies has increased 1000% (or was it 10,000%) in a very short timespan (10 years I think). Sorry, I can't recall for sure. But the point is that despite this evidence that a problem has considerably worsened, she held onto her belief that the situation has not worsened. She made a general statement about how things are not really getting worse in any way, it's just that our new social media is bringing to attention problems that have long existed. This just floored me. It seems like such an effective technique of deluding oneself and I wonder how common it is. The warning signs are everywhere, but in order for the system to spiral slowly downward without people abandoning it, people have to lie to themselves about the situation. And this social media excuse seems like such an effective lie. I also know of several people who believe the internet is going to solve everything because it allows people to learn about things that the media used to be able to suppress. A similar self-delusion, and also very effective in keeping people hooked to a system that has no future.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

al-Qa'bong,

I need some sort of sarcasm font for lines like that -- this emphasis on "greatness" is one of our deepest flaws, and I was delighted that a writer some 70-80 years ago was pointing it out in rather scathing terms. Though of course he was "just" a writer of science-fiction, not a "real" writer at all, harrumph! (Yep, sarcasm font on again!) After all, most science-fiction then was American, and it was nothing if not grandiose & all-conquering in its outlook.

In fact, it strikes me that the shallow & insecure tend to strive for greatness rather than goodness, because greatness basically allows & requires all manner of crimes, moral & legal, in pursuit of achievement, i.e., the end justifies the means. Genuine goodness, however, tends to be found in people who don't particularly pay all that much attention to ego or reputation or status.

The author May Sarton once wrote in one of her journals that few people who want to become saints ever do, because that's their sole focus in life. On the other hand, genuine saints never waste time thinking about being saints, or holiness, or their own humble wonderfulness, because they're too busy helping others, simply because they feel empathy & compassion for them.

So we get nonsense like "the greatest nation on Earth" & "the greatest humanitarians who ever lived" & so on, even as the American Empire lays waste to both the rest of the world & most of its own citizens. Any surviving American historians will undoubtedly write about "the greatest cultural collapse in human history" one day.

I'll take basic decency over immortal greatness, thank you very much.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...


"Today, banks like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own oil tankers, run airports and control huge quantities of coal, natural gas, heating oil, electric power and precious metals. They likewise can now be found exerting direct control over the supply of a whole galaxy of raw materials crucial to world industry to society in general, including everything from food products to metals like zinc, copper, tin, nickel, and, most infamously thanks to a recent high-proflile scandal, aluminum. "

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-vampire-squid-strikes-again-the-mega-banks-most-devious-scam-yet-20140212

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pfVvqLM_e4



9:43 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

A new surge of protest/activism is starting up. Doesn't seem to be the "Occupy" movement directly, though they still exist in various forms and will probably be taking part. Once again, though, it will be interesting to see if they can say anything coherent beyond their discontent with the status quo.

Wave of Action

Meanwhile, the collapse continues. Did someone mention opioids a few posts back? Zohydro, a new even more potent drug is being released soon that will come in doses up to 5 times stronger than any other opioid currently available. With oxycontin already known as "hillbilly heroin" and real heroin use exploding all over the country -- in large part due to the easy acquisition of commercial opioids many experts claim -- this looks to be another major step in getting getting as many people as possible addicted to something.

CNN: New pain pill's approval: 'Genuinely frightening'

And speaking of techfoons, here is a sure winner of the next Darwin Award:

Man runs back into burning house to get cell phone, dies

As the article mentions, this is just the latest example of terminal tech addiction. Another man ran back into his burning house to get his Xbox a few weeks ago.

And these "activists" think they can stir this population to political or social reform?

11:09 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Regarding America's "greatness" and our/its "Number-1-ness," the following clip from a leading social critic, Lewis Black.

My apologies if I have previously inflicted this on you, though his is a lesson that bears frequent repeating:

http://youtu.be/4mCDZMWVWuc

12:08 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Here is a good piece on climate change, capitalism, and consumption from an Indian perspective.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/02/interpreting-the-climate-impasse/

Adolph Reed Jr was interviewed on This Is Hell this morning. I haven't listened to it yet, but as MB recently recommended Reeds Harpers piece, I expect it is quite good. The podcast should be up for download sometime today.

http://thisishell.net/

Tim,

Greatness vs goodness is gorgeous summation. I will remember that.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

MB says above that they may reserve a place for him in Gtmo. If they waterboard him dont worry - it's not torture. The US Admin said so, so it must be true. This is a free country which all the world admires - the US Admin says so.

I anticipate crazed jihadists waterboarding US prisoners and also saying its ok. Fun for all the family.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Martin Sinclair said...

Dr. Berman:

I think Senator Al Franken should be vice president. It is time we have a person in that office who has actually earned a living as a professional comedian. We have had too many amateurs in that office.

I would add that a Wafer is one who see all emperors as naked.

1:01 PM  
Blogger jbkranger said...

I think you left out a very important part of Wafer code: non-violence

If Wafers don't chose the path of non-violence, we are just as bad as everyone else.
Joey

1:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jb-

Sorry, Wafers reserve the rt to pee on the president's shoes, and to do so violently.

mb

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Fred Strohm said...

Morris Berman's criticisms of American foibles are on target.  His honesty is a rare delight amidst the ocean of public blather.
But I'd like to suggest that many Americans are more respectable than we may think, that basically decent people make up a large portion of the population.  
   The Americans I have in mind are those I often encounter, who do their job and support their families.  Doctors and nurses, teachers and bus drivers, carpenters and plumbers.  They may not be well informed about the world and may have some half-baked ideas about larger issues.  But they are not blind to the way things are going.               
 The key point is that their focus is on their job, their family, and their friends.   As best they can,  they are making their way in a world they do not control.
    We can find fault with their sense of civic responsibility.  But their  faithfulness in doing their job and supporting their family is admirable and not to be slighted.

3:44 PM  
Blogger jbkranger said...

Then I am not a Wafer

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

I can`t leave the Enlightenment angle without pointing out that the 17th and 18th century philosophes were not trying to create soul-less capitalism but to de-legitimize kings and priests. The rot came later.
Blaming the Enlightenment (broadly defined, as it must be) for our circumstances is like blaming the Beatles for Wings or the Airplane for Starship or something like that.
You get the idea.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Martin Sinclair,

Will Rogers considered all congressmen and senators to be professional humorists (that’s what they called ‘comedians’ back then), and he used to complain about having to compete with them. He said his humor had the advantage that you could take it or leave it – that is if you thought it was funny you could laugh, and if not you could ignore it. “The problem with Congress,” he complained, was that “every time they make a joke – it’s a law.” Then he chuckled and said, “And every time they make a law – it’s a joke.”

I must say, however, that most of our contemporary jokers have become kinda hard to laugh at.

David Rosen

10:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fred-

That's all well and good, but the culture at large is one of hustling, violence, and stupidity, and the 'good folks' do in fact support our general way of life--empire, profit, and war (until we start losing, of course). For the most part, their values are those of the larger culture (read Gramsci on this). They are not, in my view, innocent. Every time an American flips open a cell phone, for example, they are contributing to a destructive culture.

There are lots of examples of this I cd give, I suppose. I'm currently in Mexico City, and admit to having breakfast this morning in the Starbucks around the corner (something I rarely do). It's quite amazing to see what a cáncer American culture is, and how easily it moves in to destroy other cultures. Unlike most Mexican cafes, in Starbucks half the customers are on fones and laptops, being rude, ignoring others, wearing hip American running shoes, and generally turning into assholes. It's quite amazing, and depressing, this process of gringificacion.

jb-

We'll miss ya!

Blair-

Not quite, I'm afraid, tho there are a lot of nuances, I agree. Check out Adorno, "Dialectic of Enlightenment," or my discussion of the subject in Twilight.

mb

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

It is impossible to disagree with MBs comments on complicity of ordinary people in wars, cultural/spritual corruption and so on. These people fund US terror by indifference or stupidity.

On the other hand, Marx said we were products of our context.

It is depressing to accept that the harmless saps in our street are part of the problem. In every war the US has launched upon the world, and there are many, these patriots have supplied manpower and funds to do the dirty deeds. No-one is perfect especially me, but surely the penny MUST drop one day for these people. They are now being spied on by Government, which they accept without protest, and asked to approve brutally illegal wars yet they raise the stars and stripes on their lawns without fail. As non US cit, I am amazed when watching TV images just how much the flag flies over US homes. It is deeply insecure to do this.

I often depair because I fear the madness this country unleashes on the planet.

I hold no brief for China, but I note it makes no claims to dominate the world or its neighbours, while the US is running riot and whose war criminals like Kissinger and Bush walk free and are feted. Let's add that smoothtalking criminal Obama.

My country, the UK, has done its bit to stick its colonial jackboot into the planet in the past, thankfully now stopped. Does no-one learn from this?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Val said...

"Every time an American flips open a cell phone... they are contributing to a destructive culture."

It's a relief to me in that case that my phone is not of a type that flips open - bearing in mind that without it I would lack access to the one worthwhile blog in the universe, and possibly the multiverse.

I have an evil neighbor. She's a laundress from Hong Kong who has been illegally running a laundry business out of her apartment for many years. Despite bitter complaints from the neighbors, city hall doesn't do jack about it. In retaliation against said neighbors, she engages in viciously perspicacious & vindictive campaigns of harassment, so beyond the point of anything like rationality as to suggest some kind of mental illness. I used to think such an individual should never have been permitted residency in the United States. But now that my eyes have have been opened by the writings of the eminent Dr. B., now that the wool has been removed from them and proven to be not of them, I see the truth: the individual in question is perfect immigrant material for the USA. They deserve one another. Whereas I, I am proudly emboldened to suppose, may well make eminently suitable emigrant material.

Starbucks es una gringada.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous comrade simba said...

I hope y'all don't mind if I pull up a chair at the roundtable here. The discussion boards I have been frequenting for years don't have the same punch these days so I'm looking for another outlet.

Maybe I can add something but for sure I'll try not to be a clot.
the comrade

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Zerk said...

Thank you, Mr Berman.

I now have a home.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

I marvel at the posts here sometimes...

Its very peculiar that somebody could not be a wafer due to finding pissing on Obamas loafers a deal killer. Lets take it as metaphor--pissing on loafers. Why would one even remotely acquainted with the facts of american governance in the last 6 years find the metaphorical peeing (or actual) on the loafers of Obama a problem? Fear of being called a rascist? Veneration of the individual? Veneration of the office of president? Deep anti-peeing convictions? I wonder? Also a bit disturbing is the paean to the good ol hard working family supporting volk. doing their duty being decent. Sweet dears some are just not informed and they mean well. The poster seems to be channelling one of those TV vommericals during a football game where men in hard hats drive babies and puppies across fields of grain with eagles overhead--america proud and then cue up sentimental music, we work hard and we never forget our duty and other treacles. Never mind one third of them are popping pills for emaldies real or imagined, they sit idly buy so that 1/2 are obese and they do nothing in the face of murderous corrpupt regimes. With internet and public library little reason to be so ignorant but I digress. Yes, they go to their job, pledge to the flag and bbq and watch fireworks on the 4th of July but they are in the main, fat, lazy, stupid and drug addled douchebags.

The downside of multicultarism--with an african american president, hispanic and female cabinet members, some even gay, who will progressives blame? The supply of old wasp white males running things seems to be in perrilously low supply--who will progressives blame? A new abstraction perhaps?

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

The more you learn the more lunatic it gets.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/eightyearold-shot-dead-by-brother-who-thought-he-was-holding-bb-gun-9163928.html

6:28 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Further mining the Will Rogers vein that Dovidel has opened up:

"There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."

6:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Val-

Chuck yr cell fone, reach me thru alternative means. You don't lack access at all. Plus, this will improve yr life immensely, as a number of ex-addicts have attested to.

Bossu-

Please do not post more than once every 24 hrs. I mean it; this is *really* important, and I ask u to honor this rule. Thank u.

Simba, Zerk-

Welcome to the blog. There really isn't anything else out there worth reading. And given the incessant attacks by trolfoons, us Wafers can only hope u sparkle with intelligence and sanity.

Capo-

The fact is that nearly all Americans have their heads wedged firmly in their rumps, and imo this is a crime against humanity. There finally are no excuses for this. It was precisely these "wonderful" mainstream citizens that called the TV networks during the 60s and asked them not to show pics of us butchering the Vietnamese during dinner time, because it made it hard for them to eat. Yeah, salt of the earth, rt?

mb

8:40 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hiya Wafers:

Capo asked: The downside of multicultarism--with an african american president, hispanic and female cabinet members, some even gay, who will progressives blame?

Emmanuel Goldstein?

"The child of Inner Party parents is in theory not born into the Inner Party. Admission to either branch of the Party is by examination, taken at the age of sixteen. Nor is there any racial discrimination, or any marked domination of one province by another. Jews, Negroes, South Americans of pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party, and the administrators of any area are always drawn from the inhabitants of that area."
George Orwell -- Nineteen Eighty-four

On the cycling front, someone at work told me that she heard from someone else that I ride my bike to work all year round, and that she replied, "He wouldn't be that stupid." (For some context, our high that day was -26 Celsius) I told her riding a bike in Saskatchewan winters isn't as tough as it looks.

When we consider that automobiles are one of the worst contributors to global warming, which is heating the polar region to such an extent that warm air from the south moves there so slowly now that the jet stream has become sluggish, leading to those long, strange cold snaps we've been experiencing lately, one must ask, "Who's the stupid one here?"

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

Dr. B,

I'm all for the Miley Cyrus/Kim Kardashian ticket myself.

Bartleby,

Don't forget the housing.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Dave Young said...

Book recommendation: "The Time Regulation Institute" by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. It's Turkish satire about bureaucracy in the collapsing Ottoman empire, similar to Tanizaki and Mishima in Japan. The book is about modernity and the effect on the individual.

Came out in 1962 in year of author's death, but first English publication in 2014. It's been called best Turkish novel of 20th century and the theme is clash of modernity w/traditional culture.

Book includes bibliography w/good books on history of Turkey and Ottoman Empire, good notes on terms and Turkish punctuation. This is a book you have to read more than once, there is much to add to understanding here.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Is anyone else a bit worried at the sudden resurgence of the cold war rhetoric?
I think the Deep State is getting worried, and needs to drum up some diversions, and make some money.

What is odd is that nobody - and I mean nobody - discusses world events!

Aren't WAFers supposed to care about what goes on in the world, or to at least have some idea of history, culture, and context?

I am feeling increasingly pessimistic about humans here, and optimistic about humans elsewhere, with the exception of my fellow WAFers.

There's just no "there there" when you try to communicate about meaningful issues.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

The next thing the progressives and the PC police will take away from us Wafers is our right to urinate on douche bags. I can't imagine such an infringement on Wafer freedom!

We hafta fight back and always remember Wafers:

Happiness is a warm piss, yes it is (whiz, whiz, leak, whiz)

Jeff

12:33 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

24 hr rule:

This may seem like a dumb question about the 24 hr rule but here it goes. Do you mean after every post to literally add 24 hours after the time I posted? For example, let's say I posted yesterday at 2:01 PM. Does this mean I can't post until today at 2:01 PM?

Another way I can interpret it is to post every 24 hr block. For example, let's say I post yesterday at 11:55 PM and I post again 1:01 AM today. Is the former subtext the one you're going by or is the latter subtext the one you're going by?

Technology and Deli Meats:

I don't agree that we should get rid of all technology. Wouldn't we need some kind of technology to make deli meats like your wonderful pastrami on rye with chopped liver and the cell tonic water? Tim Lukeman posted his sci-fi story about a planet giving up their technology. Wouldn't these aliens be giving up deli meats as well? What about manufacturing beer as well that could go well with the deli meats? Wouldn't we need technology to have Canter's Deli as well and transportation technology so we both can get their, discuss things together, relax and enjoy our food?

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Jason Straughn said...

I've been reading that homophobia in America and problems w/forming male friendships are a root cause of our decline. I could see that.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Martin Sinclair said...

Mr. Rosen and Dr. Berman:

I have often wondered what Will Rodgers would make of today’s political landscape. I would add to that list Lenny Bruce and Paddy Chayefsky. I am afraid that satire is dead. One can think of an absurd political happening and later you do not see it on a comedy show but on the evening news. I know what is the difference? I guess Lenny Bruce died for nothing.

I saw on one of the foreign websites that Russia recalled its ambassador on Saturday but I have seen any of the network news or any of the news channels mention this very serious act of diplomatic protocol. I am afraid that if you showed the movie Network to a young person, they would think it was a true story.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear MB,

The column linked below (Down Dixie Way - Notes of a Fed-Up Southerner) seems like a summary of Ch-4 of your book WAF. The author was a close friend of Joe Bageant.

http://www.fredoneverything.net/Dixie.shtml

Himanshu

5:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Got a headache rdg yr post. Don' worry abt fine pts of logic; just post no more than once every 24 hrs, por favor. 4u, Georg Cantor is a more impt issue than Canter's Deli; always keep that in mind. BTW, I never said we shd get rid of all tech; that wd be nuts. Hence:

1. Forget abt logic; if u keep doing this shit, I'm going to blow my brains out, and then there will be no more blog. That what u want?

2. Pls don't misquote me. If u keep doing that, I'll throw u2 the trolfoons, and then where will u.b.?

mb

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

This example of the inane says so much:

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2014/03/03/facebook-post-costs-florida-father-age-discrimination-settlement/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing8%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D450092

This young woman's immaturity, self-centeredness, greed, smug smarminess -- well, I could go on & on, couldn't I? -- describes a very large portion of the digital populace, bred & fed by our current culture. And if she had gotten that European vacation, I'm sure she'd have spent most of here time there on her iPhone (or the digital umbilical of her choice).

Now, this doesn't mean I disdain all technology, far from it! It's thanks to some remarkable medical technology that I'm alive right now, rather than dead some 12 years ago. And as MB has noted, modern dentistry (for instance)has much to recommend it, as most of us probably have found at some point.

The problem is that more & more of what used to be basic humanity is being outsourced to tech: the creation of art; memory; critical thinking; thinking of any kind, period. I don't know how many times I've heard people say, "I don't need to know that, I can Google it."

As Jerry Mander explains in more than one book, there's no such thing as neutral technology. Everything has an innate agenda: cars mean an oil industry, concentrated financial & political power, wars over resources, etc.; TV & computers & tablets mean watching rather than doing, speed rather than reflection, the illusion of connection rather than the reality of it.

So we have Ellen hosting the Oscars last night & happily proclaiming that Twitter just crashed because so many people were digitally chattering about the show: "We made history!"

Eventually someone will say the same thing about the bigger crash that's coming.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Himan-

Thanks for the ref; ol' Fred is a trip, in't he? But I hafta tell u, his misspelling of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Tinkerbell is simply unforgivable. Meanwhile, think abt this:

"Jambalay, crawfish pie, fillet gumbo
Well tonight I’m gonna see ma cher a-mio
Play guitar, drink fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun we’ll have great fun down by the bayou."

Quick Wafer Quiz (QWQ):

1. Who originally sang this?
2. What is 'fruit jar'?
3. Is author intending to engage in homosexual activity?

mb

8:20 PM  
Anonymous David Wong said...

Since we're on the topic of collapse here, this is a good article. It hits the points of masculinity, resource depletion, and destruction of nature.

"5 Manly Things That Are Going Away Forever"

5. car culture
4. read meat
3. NFL
2. war heroes
1. bullying

While I don't think these things are going away necessarily (obviously all are extremely popular and will continue to be), I don't think that's his point either. I think this is some good insight on social collapse.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-manly-things-that-are-going-away-forever/#ixzz2ux6lBCHW"

8:29 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

mb,


1. Hank Williams

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yog-cNfqnig

2. Mason jar filled with moonshine whiskey

You can burn my house,
Steal my car
Drink my liquor from an old fruit jar
Do anything that you wanna do
But, ah ah, baby, lay offa my shoes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNvfcApuF5M

3. You got me.

Can anybody tell me if this Hank Williams tune (Angel of Death)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMs1QVW_yjk

was the inspiration for the 1968 Fugs Red Angel of Death?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-cb0IIWQa4

Also from 1968, Firesign Theater's satirical version of the history of America:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I2PjLna4C0







9:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

Well done. Moonshine was also called 'white lightning'. As for #3: I'm guessing no.

mb

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Marty S. said...

Mr. Berman,

I'm curious, do they use gas powered leaf blowers in Mexico or other countries besides the U.S? These obnoxiously loud, highly polluting machines (2 cycle motors) are rightly being banned in more communities. I am encouraging a ban in San Jose,CA.

Thanks, Marty S.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Tim…

So glad you mentioned James Hollis, (from innercitybooks.net). Mr. Hollis was a great help to me several years back when my midlife crisis landed me in a three-year funk. I read his Swamplands book, his Middle Passage book, as well has his Creating a Life book. All were most helpful. I love the way he, as does Berman, blends literature and poetry with his message. I find his works to be very readable, although up at Amazon there's lots of complaints about his wide vocabulary and unwillingness to simplify his message. He's not a guy to dim his headlights. Nor does he offer a quick fix. But to me, his Jungian approach of individuation makes sense.

BTW, it was a post of yours a year or so back that led me to Mark Slouka. What a terrific essayist! THANKS!

And on that note, another of your recent comments about our attitudes on being "productive" triggered a dim memory that I only later realized was associated with one of Slouka's essays: "Quitting the Paint Factory", from Essays in the Nick of Time. As you recall, he discusses the value of leisure to define us and bring us to a realization of our humanity - and the threat that an emphasis on productive busyness poses to this humanizing process. Here's a few of my favorite passages from that essay…

"We're moving product, while the soul drowns like a cat in a well."

"Thus has the great wilderness of the inner life been compressed into a median strip by the demands of the 'real world,' which of course is anything but."

"...the zeitgeist we live and labor in, which, like a cuckoo taking over a thrush’s nest, has systematically shoved all the other eggs of our life, one by one, onto the pavement."

"Sometimes money costs too much."

"There's something un-American about singing the virtues of idleness. It's a form of blasphemy, a secular sin."


Then he caps off the essay with a bang. Speaking of Bush and his administration...

"What the picture of George W. Bush flushed into the open for me was the classically American and increasingly Republican cult of movement, of busy-ness; of doing, not thinking."

"And yet there was no getting around it: what I’d been picking up like a bad smell whenever I observed the Bush team in action was the faint but unmistakable whiff of fascism; a democratically diluted fascism, true, and masked by the perfume of down-home cookin’, but fascism nonetheless."


He finally realizes that this contempt for leisure reminds him of the Italian art movement called Futurism, from the early 1900's.

"It had to do, rather, with their antlike energy, their busy-ness, their utter disdain for all the manifestations of the inner life, and with the way these traits seemed so organically linked in their thinking to aggression and war."

A fascinating essay!

Complementary to this theme, here's another take on that idiotic Cadillac commercial…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miles-mogulescu/cadillac-commercial_b_4855099.html

And finally, it always helps to keep in mind "The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying"…

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

11:43 PM  
Anonymous al-qa'bong said...

Howdy folks:

I don't figure y'all have given enough consideration to the socio-geometric possibilities of a Monica Lewinsky/Ron Jeremy candidacy in these here 48 states.

Now, I'll be a-moseyin' along, with my trusty cayuse...I gotta pick up the young 'uns from school. Like I said, I have my trusty cayuse, so's I won't get into trouble with the law.


Dad arrested after trying to pick kids up from school on foot instead of in a car


http://grist.org/list/dad-arrested-after-trying-to-pick-kids-up-from-school-on-foot-instead-of-in-a-car/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=outbrain-trending

I'l be seein' ya.

Luke the Drifter

1:08 AM  
Blogger Val said...

Well okay Dr. B, but you do realize that chucking my cancercell phone means going cold turkey on the Internet altogether dontchu? I currently can't afford the laptop that would give me wifi access at those cafes full of glazed-eyed zombies hunched over their Matrix outlets, so it'll be the local public library and its clunky can't-download-nuthin 'puters and the annoying so-called "library patrons" who yack right next to you - on their cell phones! Plus the crazy ones who sit there and talk to themselves whether they have a phone or not.

To tell you the truth I'm thinking about bailing on the computer paradigm altogether. I'm sick of the whole planned "upgrades" obsolescence con. I've poured thousands into computers and software and all their peripheral rubbish, all on the pretext that there were graphics jobs and a wonderful future in it, and what have I got to show for it? Fifty or sixty pounds of worthless broken-down crap - easily seven thousand bucks down the porcelain oubliette! In my opinion, the whole notion of personal computers for the masses is a pile of worm-infested dogshit gussied up in sparkly bow-tied ribbons.

Probably what'll happen is I'll hold on to this loaner fone until it goes pfutz or some wondrous new web-ware makes its platform inoperable. But maybe it would be liberating to just toss it. I don't know if I'll bother with the laptop, even when I have the shekels. How important is the Internet to one's personal or professional life? Does it offer information that I *really* need, and can't or would be unlikely to get any other way? That's the real question.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Val-

Hey, man, I don't take my computer with me when I travel, and I certainly don't own a cell fone. I just check into an Internet cafe for abt 30 mins, and take care of any business that has arisen since the day b4. It's quite easy, really.

Pilgrim-

Thanks for joining us, but in future pls keep yr posts to 1/2 page maximum, if you wd. Gracias.

Marty-

I may be leading a sheltered life down here, but in 7.5 yrs, and traveling all over Mexico, I haven't encountered a leaf blower even once. Cd be we use rakes, I dunno.

Wafers-

Check it out:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/23/what-is-barack-obama-presidency-for

My own guess is that the purpose of the Obama presidency was:

1. To reveal that the guy is a douche bag
2. To show Americans, esp. the ones who voted for him, that they are douche bags
3. To show 'progressives' that getting worked up abt the next Democratic candidate is a waste of time, since she will be a douche bag as well
4. To do a random and inefficient job of presiding over the collapse of the American empire, when a Republican candidate would more directly drive us into a ditch (Come back, Little Mittney!)
5. To show the world (since Americans can't figure this out, being a large collection of douche bags) that the US *has* no purpose, beyond killing people and amassing wealth for the rich
6. To display the inherent nature of douchebaggery, as a warning to other potential hegemonic powers.

Wafers are encouraged to add to this list.

mb

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

Himanshu and MB,

I would cut Fred Reed some slack on his spelling. Actually, he can accurately spell every word in the English language. But, his typing skills are not so good -- and there's a good reason for that. Fred is nearly blind, having been in Vietnam as a combat Marine where he received more shrapnel in his eyes than he really wanted.

Fred writes using a large flat-screen monitor, with the letters about two inches high. Even then, he misses his typos. I'm in Paris, France for a month or so visiting my son, but when I return to Ajijic, Mexico I will have a beer with Fred and renew my offer to proof his stuff before posting.

Joe Bageant was also a good friend. Joe visited me when I lived in Nice, France, so when I moved to Mexico I invited Joe to leave his beach-front hovel in Belize and spend some time in civilized Mexico. Just for fun, I decided to introduce Joe to Fred -- Joe being a redneck socialist and Fred having been a colleague of Pat Buchanan and also the favorite newspaper columnist of Ronald Reagan.

We met at a bar and I ordered a bottle for the table. I expected a fist fight, but Fred and Joe immediately became great friends. When Joe died three years ago, Fred wrote a wonderful tribute. Click here. On that page there is a photo I took a half-hour after they met -- and they already looked like old friends.

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2011/03/bageant-moves-on.html

8:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ken-

What a great obit, and foto. Thanks so much, and also for background on Fred's (mis)spellings. I didn't realize he wanted *any* shrapnel in his eyes, but a chacun son gout.

mb

9:13 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I've often wondered at the Baegant-Reed friendship... some of the things Reed says are such eye bleedingly typical southern white home grown crap. But then Joe regularly watched television and frequented his hometown bars. A high tolerance for mental torture and a huge heart, that man.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

Ken Smith...thanks for alerting me to Joe Bageant. I've read some of the link you gave and I like it very much.

Here in Europe, I'd never heard of JB, I don't know why. Perhaps because writers who have something important to say are usually ignored or diminished in our shitty world of celebrity and power. Noam Chomsky's work (and I believe, MB's too)is ignored by NY Times reviewers and mainstream media, and I, like Joe, revert to Al Jazeera and similar for news.

Who needs censorship when simply not reporting people and issues is FAR more effective?

I'll continue to read more of JB. Thanks.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Meet Kevin O' Leary. If I only had a full bladder...

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2014/02/25/exp-erin-intv-oleary-war-on-one-percent.cnn.html

cube-

I'm beginning to worry about you, man. I tell ya, I'm about ready to hop in my car, drive to Georgia and pick you up, head back to LA for lunch at Canter's Deli. We might as well pick up shep on the return trip. A twice-daily visit to Canter's (lunch & dinner) for about a week will fix us all right up.

Jeff

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hey WAFers--

Interesting piece in the Guardian (UK) from last month thatI wanted to share. A nurse who frequently attended to the dying kept record of the dying's most popular regrets.


http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

Here they are (in rank order):

1) I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2) I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

3) I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5) I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I kept staring at #1 and thinking about a core message in _Spinning Straw_, that of living authentically, and I suddenly realized the (new) public health crisis we'll have on our hands when an entire generation weaned on "The American Century" realizes that "impression management" = "phoniness" = "wasted life." From a public health standpoint, methinks that Tolstoy's _The Death of Ivan Ilych_ should be a required read in any Master's of Public Health program!

In solidarity--

Brian

3:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Brian-

Yeah, the idea of SSIG is that success = living in reality, not pursuing the American Dream (or whatever). What a situation: we have 315 million Americans (aka morons) who probably won't even have the insight Ivan Ilych did on his deathbed, that he had pissed his life away; and 133 Wafers who will die happy. Saddest of all, of course, are the trolfoons, who think that trying to act smart on some obscure, no-account blog is a gd use of their time. A tiny % of the 315 million Americans might be salvageable; but for the trolfoons: nothing can save these wretched clowns--they are already dead (they just don't know it). I weep for the trolfoons! Who will console them in their hour of need? Who will say to them, "Yes, your life amounted to little more than a small pile of warm dogshit, but maybe there will be a better life 4u in the Beyond." A wasteland stretches before them...

Jeff-

Yes, cube cd really use yr help, and the Deli Method is as gd as any. Canter's may prevent Cantor's, in other words. And when u guys are dining, if he starts to talk logic, algorithms, Goedel, Moebius, or any other of that moronic kaka, just hit him on the nose w/a dill pickle, to shock him out of it, and then point to the cole slaw. Then find the shepster, bring him back to the blog. The light has gone out of my life, and it's his fault. (Yes, u can quote me.)

Bossu-

I have a feeling that I'm 1000x more likely to get interviewed by the Hezbollah Trumpet than by the NYT.

mb

5:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Allah Akbar! Also: Akbar and Jeff!

5:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Why I keep saying America = 315 million morons:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/04/us/ohio-boy-suspended-finger-gun/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

6:25 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Jeff and Dr. B

I was looking at the menu for Canter's Deli. I definitely want to go one day. Man, they have knishes, blintzes, egg creams, etc. Dr. B, they have your hot pastrami on rye. They pack the sandwich to. How would I decide?

9:11 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

What??? Dr. B - I'm shocked - shocked I tell ya - that you're not brimming over with joy to see that we're finally starting to take our gun problem seriously in this country! Don't you see that this is a major step to a more peaceful, loving, utopian world? I feel safer already. I mean, isn't it obvious that we just can't live in a world where little kids go to school armed with index fingers?

Behold the miracle: this is "change you can believe in." The NRA is join' down big time!!

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Dr B

I read story you provided here:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/04/us/ohio-boy-suspended-finger-gun/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

The school is within their obligation and right to carry out the policy they have in place. Kids and their parents were repeatedly warned about making such gun-related obscene and unproductive gestures. Why didn’t the boy make a gesture about the number of books he read from his father’s library of books at home? I would not support my kid if he goes around his school making unproductive gestures like a cowboy – its idiotic at this time when many kids shoot up their schools.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pauli-

I'm w/Greg here, but hey, that's just me.

cube-

Not a problem! Just rent a U-Haul truck, park it outside, order one of everything on the menu (packed w/dry ice), and load the truck up! Whee!

mb

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Greg, Pauli, Dr. Berman,

I’m with Greg too in wanting to be protected from index fingers.

I regarded the years I spent in New York City public schools as time served in minimum security prisons – and I still do. Back in the 50’s we were all seen as potential ‘juvenile delinquents’ and treated as such.

One thing I don’t remember is kids ever being ‘suspended’ from school as a form of punishment. We would have considered three days off from school as a delightful reward. Are kids today really *that* dumb? Or are they just more brainwashed than we ever were? The ‘boobus americanus’ syndrome just gets worse and worse with each succeeding generation.

Here in the US, whenever I see a newborn baby I say to him or her, “Welcome to the world little boy or girl; I have terrible news for you – twelve years of school!”

How can one not marvel at the amount of patently ridiculous crap that Americans take seriously?

O&D,
David Rosen

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Capo on a tear... said...

Pauli,

I'm with Greg and MB on this one. We are talking about a young boy here. Not some automaton to follow orders and be totally under the conformist thumb of teachers and controlling parents. The schools are like prisons as it is. The school is right to carry out the policy in place you say? Let me venture a suggestion--its an idiotic policy.

I went to an orthodox school in the 1950's and 1960's we goofed off, had fights, did gun shapes with our hands, avoided homework, stared out the window, disobeyed our parents, took knives to school, snuck in girly magazines, had fights, smoked cigarettes and had a blast. This was in a Yeshiva mind you. Last I checked every single one of my classmates went on to the professions and some are notables in science, business and the arts. Hell at age 15 and 16 we even trained with rifles and managed not to kill each other. We engaged in many many unproductive gestures and activities--it was great! Of the 28 classmates all of us were prone to myriad unproductive activities, yet we are all multilingual, all college graduates and half are multi-millionaires.

Following orders and counting books is not much of an education and not letting boys be boys is just silly. Endorsing the divine right of idiotic school administrator policies because well its the rules gots to follow the rules is pretty sad. I read a few months ago a kid was expelled for making a pop tart into the shape of a gun. He was 6 years old. I guess Pauli that little bastard had it coming,--he should follow the rules!!!

If there is a class of person more moronic than public school administrators and graduates of colleges of education word of it has failed to get out. O.K. maybe the people setting up the obamacare web site. But those aside....

12:11 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Dr. B and fellow WAFers.

Just thought of this ...reminds me of something Carlin would think up. Mb someone has.
A word more apt for the 315 mil walking bags of gas, liquid, and excrement> "AMORONCANS".
I have a bit of a record for coining new ones ... the one in most common usage now is "REPUKE", initially intended to differentiate the lunatics that call themselves Republicans from the few that were still extant then that were not hate filled idiots. Of course, those few have all died off or been wiped out today.
I suppose there should be some appelation for the other major party, as there is little difference anymore ( as Dr. B observes ), but not the crusty cliches from the right.
DULLICANS ? Most are as clueless, useless, selfish, and spiritually and intellectually bereft as the Repukes.
Heck, 20 years ago I was saying that both the R's and D's will screw you, except that the D's will kiss you while doing it.

...

A substantiation of the WAFer formula ( 98 % of those around you are dolts, conservatively ) happens whenever I make one simple statement, said various ways: We ( this nation of dolts ) are in a DEPRESSION.
Two and only two responses... fatuous nationalism, or they personalize and externalize to the messenger: me.
Now, to those that are disposessed, homeless ...or are on the brink of being so , demoralized and fearful; I usually don't bring it up. They most likely would consider me a fool for saying something so patently obvious.

As for your list of six 'purposes' of Obama admin, Dr. B ( which is pretty encapsulating ), I would only add that
7. To demonstrate that Amoroncans
are imbecilic D'bags to be taken advantage of, that will believe in the notion that compromise with douchebags is not only possible, but desirable.
It's beyond delusional, and thus DESIGNED FUTILITY !

"E pluribus unum populus bardus"

12:39 AM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Attention: the Twin Cities Wafer Summit is finally in the planning stages. Of course when it does happen you won't need us to describe what happened. The major media channels have been notified and I'm certain the event will make headlines worldwide.

Idiotic policies policing children's behavior. Would we Americans have it any other way? After every school shooting half of my fb friends post crap like how teachers should be armed and trained to defend against attack. These posts get "likes" in the double-digits. Thoughtful discussions on the subject are a drop in the bucket. How many years before "A gun in every classroom" becomes the new policy? And then you'll start hearing of teachers shooting their students. Any society that suspends kids for making gun gestures with their hands is decades down the road of totalitarianism.

2:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

I guess suspending the poor little kid w/the gun gesture thing is just the latest expression of Acute CRE. The whole country is mentally ill, really. Now that the Occupy Movement went out w/a whimper, I'm thinking that Wafers might wanna spark a new movement, a much more effective one: an Extraction Movement. The EM wd be dedicated to Americans getting their heads out of their rumps; not just domestically, but in US foreign policy as well (Mr. Kerry, for example, is clearly suffering from Acute CRE). I envision groups of Wafers in various cities carrying signs showing a head rammed up a rear end, over which the circle-with-a-slash is imposed. We wd demonstrate everywhere: in front of the White House, in front of McDonald's, in front of (empty) bookstores, in Times Square, and so on. The chant: "Heads Out of Rumps!" Or perhaps: "A message for the masses: Get your heads out of your asses!" And so on. Wafers are encouraged to

a) Submit additional chants
b) Formulate attack plans
c) Start stocking crowbars and tubes of K-Y jelly.

I see great things on the horizon...

mb

8:33 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

WAF-ers: I am sorry for anyone hurt or killed, but is this becoming a trend? People risking their lives or getting killed for their tech-shit?

http://www.twincities.com/news/ci_25263415/couple-injured-trying-save-tv-from-fire

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/jenna-betti-killed-train-phone_n_4895628.html

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

There is an interesting sounding book on economics mentioned by Chris Hedges in a recent article on truthdig. "The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950" The author Avner Offer is an economic historian at Oxford. He touches on a lot of pertinent subjects, sharing, economic myths etc. He talks about the fallacy of the "just world" theory (you get what you deserve) "The point about just-world theory is not that it dispenses justice, but that it provides a warrant for inflicting pain.” He mentions the idea that economic systems borne of Enlightenment-style rationality need to be tempered by observation of reality. Not necc ideas we have not seen before but an interesting take. http://m.truthdig.com/report/item/suffering_well_you_deserve_it_20140302

9:54 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

My Dearest Wafers:

An "Extraction Movement?" Et tu Belman? You write as if you believe there is hope. I have it on good account that the USA is kaput and nothing can be done about it.

Capo's line, "If there is a class of person more moronic than public school administrators and graduates of colleges of education word of it has failed to get out." is a paraphrase of something I've been saying for years.

I'd add "secondary school administrators" to the list, as these potatoheads insist that they manage learning mills, not schools, and hence behave as if they are running factories.

Education is an afterthought in their pursuit of profit and improving their "brand" (how I loathe that term).

Back to that finger-wielding schoolboy; how odd that pretending to have a handgun is censured, yet owning a real handgun is a God-given right (because the US constitution is the Word of God) in the USA.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

Of course there's no hope, but I think it might be fun to go door to door, like a SWAT team, with a crowbar and tube of K-Y jelly, and forcibly extract Americans' heads from their rumps. Wdn't u really like to do this? Think of all the great YouTube videos we could make.

jwo-

Check out WAF, ch. 3. When I say Americans have shit for brains, I'm not speaking metaphorically!

mb

11:15 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Interesting timing that you guys and gals have brought up schools, apropos the lucky boy who got suspended.

We're dealing with the fact that our son hates school. He's in 2nd grade. It's supposedly a "good" school, but I'm starting to realize that the whole concept of modern schooling is suspect: it's mass incarceration, where you are not allowed to follow the joy of learning, to pursue knowledge at your own pace and in your own way, and where you literally are imprisoned by government mandate for the entire day!

We're desperately looking for solutions. My wife's solution is a private school. I would advocate home-schooling with some kind of support network. So there is some disagreement there.

Our son is very... sensitive, artistic (he's playing the piano well, and actually loves the lessons), likes to draw, do electronics experiments with me, etc. I'm worried that his soul will be crushed for decades like mine was. I'm only just now regaining some ability to think for myself, re-establish some psychic autonomy, and feel alive even if conflicted.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears!
Well, back to applying to some jobs in other countries, then back to the grind...

We T.C. wafers are considering backyard BBQs as the favored forum for gatherings. That we can avoid the people in the bars and coffee shops, and their beloved devices.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Wafer Extraction Movement (EM) attack plan proposal:

1. The strategy of door-to-door Mormon missionaries should be incorporated into the Wafer EM.

2. Crack Wafer teams, two at a time, equipped with a crowbar, K-Y jelly, and inexpensive portable camcorders will politely knock on doors throughout every neighborhood in America.

3. No words are necessary beyond cursory greetings, as all Wafers understand that behind 99.9% of those doors sit various collections of douche bags, morons, nitwits, and trolfoons of all shapes and sizes.

4. Extraction Technique (ET) should then be executed. As this is a very *slippery* procedure, to say the least, it is recommended that Wafers rotate this most vital procedure.

5. Don't forget to videotape each ET.

6. Dwelling should then be thoroughly searched for any remaining douche bags. If more are found, repeat steps 4 and 5.

Best of luck to you, and mtsbwy!

Jeff

12:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Waldorf.

mb

1:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

On another matter:

Definitely presidential material, oh yeah:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/03/05/report-clinton-compares-putins-ukraine-moves-to-hitler-and-nazi-germany/?hpt=hp_t1

1:06 PM  
Blogger Val said...

Dr. B - in 7 1/2 years, not ONE leaf blower? Great Zeus, a civilized country!

1:41 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

Further to comments by Megan (last post) and with perhaps some relevance to Publius:

As far as kids playing outside freely and structured activities… it's not like you can just do it the way you want here (in the US). When we first came back to the US, I refused to have any part of this 'play date' nonsense (we never encountered it in Mexico, where my son spent the first six years of his life). I also wouldn't schedule him for a multitude of clubs, sports and activities. The result was that he spent lots of time alone. There's a system which makes some choices 'easy' and others much more difficult. In a way I was making the NMI choice for him since all we could really do was go along with the program everyone else followed or have him be alone. The way we (and he) preferred, and which he was in fact able to live in Mexico isn’t available to him. Now from an NMI point of view one might say 'so what?' There's no big loss in being spared the company of dolts. But I've seen the result of isolating kids from pop culture, tv, and video games and home schooling for that matter. I'd rather give him a shot at developing some ‘antibodies’ against pop culture. And what better place to learn how to interact with dolts than the public school system? These folks will likely be his co-workers, managers, bosses, and neighbors some day. Might as well learn now, while I can still help him (hopefully). Publius my son is 12, so a bit older. He doesn’t ‘hate’ school but I know he gets frustrated dealing with administrators’ and teachers’ BS, with good reason. These days I’m tempted to take ‘doesn’t like school’ as the sign of a healthy kid. I’ve heard good things about Waldorf - would probably go that route if I could swing it.

2:16 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Sorry everyone, don't know what's gotten into me lately - maybe my oppositional-defiant disorder acting up (time for a three-day suspension?); but I just have to call some of you on unreasonable America-bashing again. Calling it “CRE” and planning an oppressive door-to-door campaign against it only denies the irrefutable truth of the matter. Which is that that Americans are actually profound seekers of spiritual enlightenment on the yogic path who, with seemingly inexhaustible focus and dedication, are always practicing their favorite posture: headupyourasana. Please, let’s give credit and show a bit of reverence where it’s due, OK?

Then again, CRE is a lot shorter, so let’s just stick with it.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...


Dr B and others:

You got me there!

All the words spoken by NRA and all the actions taken by NRA are based on the fact that the US Constitution supports the right to bear arms. Similarly, the actions and words of the school administrators are based on stated laws in the book. It is hard to introduce rational gun laws in America due to the position of the US Constitution. I see no reason the states and schools should not make it equally hard through laws for children to be harmed while at school. I know you want to talk about index finger and how stupid the schools are – go ahead – jump on the band wagon.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pauli-

Keep in mind that there are gd and bad bandwagons, eh?

Bossu-

Re: yr private query abt the 24-hr rule: it's not that complicated. Just make a note of the time (i.e., local time) when u post, then don't post for another 24 hrs. Thank you.

mb

5:36 PM  
Blogger diana said...

Publius,

My strategy is to find a small school that welcomes parent participation. My daughter's elementary school has 325 kids. Parents are asked to volunteer 4 hrs per month. You can have lunch with your kid, work in the library or just spend time in the classroom helping out teachers. No appointment is necessary.

For middle school this Fall, her choice is a small all girls school that stresses community service but offer few electives These schools don't have the best test scores but your child will be less traumatized. Not sure if you have such options where you live but I would not select schools that are supposed to be good based on test scores.

7:57 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

We could do demonstrations at the airport every time one of us Wafer's manages to get the hell out of here. Chant: "Hell no, we won't stay!"

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Publius-

Everything I’ve ever heard about Waldorf Schools has been very favorable. Even so I’d worry that here in the US everything eventually gets corrupted.

One major advantage of homeschooling is that in order to do it, parents have to engage in their own continuing education, thereby making themselves much better role models.

As with any project like homeschooling, if you research it and it seems like an exciting challenge, that’s a good sign. If it feels like it would be tremendous burden for you, then you probably shouldn’t do it. Anyway, that’s my general rule of thumb.

It sounds like you feel one way and your wife the other. Which of you would actually be organizing and directing the homeschooling? Of course your son would actually be the one *doing* the homeschooling.

Finally, if you and your family could find a way to spend a year or more living and working overseas, even with some kind of volunteer organization, it would probably do the boy a world of good. Also, such an experience can be a good rehearsal for a final escape.

Pardon my free advice which, in addition to being worth exactly what you pay for it, may not fit your situation anyway.

Good luck.

Diana-

You and your daughter are very lucky to have such a school available, and your daughter is fortunate that you had the moxie to take advantage of it.

David Rosen

11:28 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

LMFAO, just another point on the plot of decline to share here. I just read a post from another forum I frequent wherein the poster advocates absolutely unregulated rules regarding gun ownership. He argues that the founding fathers would support citizens owning anything the military has access to, including nuclear ICBMs...

'Murica, fuck yeah!

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Capo continues on a tear said...

Its a great bandwagon! Pauli, I am utterly baffled by this linking of NRA and guns with kids making gun shaped pop tarts and hand gun shapes. Is making gun shapes with hands and pop tart gun shapes by 10 and 6 year olds somehow linked to the NRA and gun violence? I seem to be missing something here. More laws you say? I would suggest there is no shortage of laws purporting to protect children. In fact the production of laws is the area where the U.S.A. exceeds--thousands are produced every year. Most schools are convered by a surfeit of laws yet every day children are exposed to idiociy, bullying, and abuse--and that is by teachers and administrators! Let alone some of the tykes with a more sociopathic bent. Yes more laws will help....righto....

Senor Buena vida and publius. Public schools are awful though interestingly people get all sucked in wiht the various marketing labels--magnet, a grade-a, a innovation hub, parent engagement...If its a public school its 99% sure to be crap. Waldorf it you can swing it, if you are a MOT a Chabad school if available but otherwise home schooling is a towering social responsibiity.

12:24 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

Here's a chant (or t-shirt) slogan idea for the Extraction Movement (EM):

- "Born (and Reared) in the U$A."
or
- "This is your brain on crack."

To go along with the slgan, we'll need to show a picture of someone rolling around like a Donut with their ass firmly planted in their buttocks. Or looking like Ouroboros, the snake that swallows its own tail. We could ask Dr. Hackenbush: perhaps he might come up with a design. But you see, that's the problem: you really *do* need a picture to go along with these slogans. We're talking American here, that weird species of "adult-children" who hate to have their fantasy existence suddenly broken into by something specious, like "words" that are strung together in such a way as to form "fancy phrases" or, Lord help us, 'concepts.' Yep, 'words' are, how shall I put this ...optional.

Speaking of T-shirts (and the need for pictures) Wafers won't be surprised to hear this about mu country 'tis of thee. Here it is: I've got a "Call me Ishmael" t-shirt. You know, maybe the most famous opening line to a book *ever*, like maybe in world (western) literature. Those three words plastered in big script across the front of the shirt. You can't miss it, right? Wrong! I've worn this shirt dozens of times (and also while traveling thru half-dozen states). And since I got it (at Melville's museum home 'Arrowhead' btw) it's elicited, by way of response, precisely nada, zip, zero, zilch. Not even a gleam of recognition, or "Hey! Moby Dick. Melville, right?" Nope. Not a remark, not a smile, not a hail & farewell. I've even worn it in bookstores, for Christ's sake. So here's an idea: somebody put a Samuel Beckett or a Joyce quote on a t-shirt during your Wafer Summit in Ireland next year. Wear it to a Pub and I'm sure someone will, at least, take notice. And maybe even buy you a beer. For example:

"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

1:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Near-

Americans don't even know who Melville *was*. By contrast, very few Frenchmen wd fail to recognize this on a T-shirt: "Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure" (1st line of Proust, A la recherche...). All European newspapers have daily 'culture' sections that consist of essays that cd only get published in specialized academic journals in the US. If the NYT tried something similar, it would fold w/in 2 mos. Patricia Williams, wrtg in The Nation in the 90s, reported on a visit to friends in the south of France, and how their 12-yr-old knew more abt the ins and outs of Clintonian politics (cabinet members, etc.) than any anchor person on American TV. Bottom line: Americans are a large collection of frivolous buffoons. They have shit inside their heads.

mb

2:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And speaking of smart Americans:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/03/05/pkg-florida-man-flies-kkk-flag.wptv&hpt=hp_c3&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F#/video/us/2014/02/27/dnt-ct-imiage-of-baby-holding-gun.wtnh

2:15 AM  
Anonymous Jerome L said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

We have come a long way since Aristotle praised the study of philosophy because, of all the sciences, “it alone exists for its own sake.” Now apparently it exists, like everything else, for the sake of techno-buffoonery and the market. The quotes below are from a recent article “defending” the choice of philosophy as a major. You have to love the last line. The halo of human flourishing, indeed.

"Philosophy and entrepreneurship are a surprisingly good fit. Some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs and innovators come from a philosophy background and put the critical thinking skills they developed to good use launching new digital services to fill needs in various domains of society."

"You go into the humanities to pursue your intellectual passion, and it just so happens as a byproduct that you emerge as a desired commodity for industry," said Horowitz. "Such is the halo of human flourishing."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/why-philosophy-majors-rule_n_4891404.html

5:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jer-

Hustling ueber Alles, I guess; America has a way of turning everything into shit. Hard to hang onto yr lunch, rdg that stuff.

mb

8:39 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB: I actually took your advice and re-re-read WAF chapter 3. I was surprised to see you reference Nye's "American Technological Sublime". Just yesterday I finished reading Steven Jones' book "Against Technology: From the Luddites to Neo-Luddism" and he references Nye often.

It is nice to have someone define something I always thought strange. I've seen postcards and photographs of people visiting frickin Northern MN strip mines! Why would anyone do that? Corporate-Tech Sublime has replaced Civil-Personal-Natural Sublime. Why visit the Grand Canyon when you can visit Google headquarters?

Here is a good overview of Nye's book if anyone is interested:

http://thefrailestthing.com/2011/10/21/american-technological-sublime-our-civil-religion/

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

Near,

So I'm at a birthday with a bunch of people and one of them mentions that he went to Mark Twain Elementary as a boy. To prove a point to my wife I ask him how Samuel Clemens was, which was received with blank stares by all in attendance. He then says he didn't go to Samuel Clemens Elementary, and continues to repeat that he went to Mark Twain elementary. There must have been a dozen people listening to this and the irony was lost on all of them. Just a typical day in America.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

In an article detailing how the CIA is trying to intimidate the Senate into not releasing the damning "torture report," it turns out that the CIA spied on the Senate staffers doing the research

But instead of admitting fault, the CIA is attacking the Senate for supposedly "illegally" taking documents that they had no right to look at.

How can the Senate committee charged with oversight of the CIA be doing something illegal by undertaking oversight and looking at the documents it needs to look at to do the oversight? The US government is so Kafkaesque, it's not even funny.

Since you are WAFers, you'll believe the following quote from Obummer when he was asked about the fact that the CIA illegally spied on the Senate oversight committee:

While eating lunch during a visit to New Britain, Conn., with four New England governors, Obama was asked by a reporter if he had any reaction to the allegation that the CIA monitored Intelligence Committee computers.

“I’m going to try to make sure I don’t spill anything on my tie,” he responded.


Is this clown for real? Even by the standards of the USA, he's feckless and insulting. A real citizen would be outraged by this moron's words and actions.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky5vhXwxrdM

Wafers may be interested in this series of videos which talk practically about leaving the US to live abroad.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

I'm intrigued by the possibility that op-ed writers and Hillary will get the U$A (thanks NearFar) into a shooting war with Russia. You're right, MB, Hillary can't wait to get in there and conquer the Crimea with the help of the neocons at the WSJ, NYT, and the Post. Once again, reverence for American Exceptionalism is stoking a war fever...

As Peter, Paul & Mary usta sing, "Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?" Anyway, here are a couple of pieces all may want to have a look at:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/american-exceptionalism-russia-ukraine-104318.html#.UxjJxM6s21g

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-me-army-mental-illness-20140304,0,3410236.story#axzz2vDJVGaHG

GregJS-

Well, desperate times require desperate measures. Once we accomplish extraction of headupyourasana, Garbhasana will be achieved. Hopefully, the dolts will then advance to the ultimate goal of Shavasana.

Jeff

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

There used to be a balance when democrats were democrats. Not anymore when democrats want to be remembered as the best republicans.

Obama claims he loves Ronald Reagan because Ronald Reagan was a transformative figure in US politics.

To be honest with you, they should privatize everything including roads, air, water, schools, government, CIA, churches,God, etc

http://www.upworthy.com/1-trillion-given-to-americas-top-1-but-damn-those-welfare-queens

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Hi Dr. B,

Fan of your writing. First learned of you when you were on This Is Hell last year.

Anyway, I saw this today and it made me rather sad. It seems that the assumption is that the problems with novels is that they take too long to read, rather than people have no interest in contemplating their meaning.

http://www.ibtimes.com/spritz-debuts-samsung-galaxy-s5-gear-2-could-app-revolutionize-reading-we-know-it-1559915

3:51 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Xiale

Isn't Mark Twain the pseudonym for Samuel Clemens? How did they not know this?

Edward

You said "To be honest with you, they should privatize everything including roads, air, water, schools, government, CIA, churches,God, etc"

Let's become like the Druuge in Star Control 2.

http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/Druuge

If you're fired in this fictional alien society then you're tossed into the furnace. :P

Dr. B

I was able to figure out the 24 hr rule by a process I used.

Anyway, will you please you tell me more about the Canter way of doing things? How is Shep doing?

Jeff

One day, I think it would be fun to do a road trip to Los Angeles and go to Canter's Deli.

My SO and I will go one day to Los Angeles and that will be one of our stops. I think I may have a good time.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Neunder said...

Would you ever consider reviewing "The Myth of America's Decline" by Josef Joffe for this site? Might make an interesting post.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

Gary Younge recently wrote in The Guardian that there was apparently no pt to the Obama presidency; that it had lost any narrative coherence it once had. Indeed, I doubt that Ovomit himself wd be able to come up w/a convincing statement of what he thought he was doing, as president. The whole misbegotten adventure seems meaningless.

The title DAA was not mine. The original working title was "Colossus Adrift." My editor at Norton said to me, "but yr claim is not that America is adrift; yr claim is that it is going down the tubes." So he selected DAA, and he was probably rt. Except that "Colossus Adrift" is not that much off the mark. In the postwar period, Truman had a story; Eisenhower did; JFK did; LBJ did; Nixon did; moronic Gerry Ford did; and so did Reagan. The story was the Cold War, the US as the beacon of democracy (American exceptionalism), God presiding over our role in the world, etc. Jimmy was the real exceptionalism: he wanted us to stop blaming the USSR for all our problems and start examining our story/narrative (hence, the only 'meta-president' we ever had). But from Bush Sr. on, we lost our story, became a colossus adrift. The guy was not very bright (check out Doonesbury cartoons of the period), had a VP who was a joke, and a son who was even more hilarious. Clinton's 'story' was 'let's all make $' ('it's the economy, stupid')--not much of a story. And then, from Day 1, what narrative did Ovomit offer us? 'Hope' and 'Change'--utterly meaningless phrases. He had no story in 2008, and he has no story now. We are indeed adrift, because he is merely an echo of the wo/man in the street. There is no particular purpose to any American's life; they have no idea as to what they are doing, or why. Really, all they can say is that they want 'more'--a pretty impoverished way of being in the world. Nobody is at the helm, at the head of state; we are a ship w/o a rudder, drifting along, to no purpose at all. That the bell is tolling for America is obvious to every country on the planet--except us.

In a very famous essay, Isaiah Berlin argued that there were two types of freedom: the positive variety, wh/he equated w/the USSR, in which the state tries to get its citizens to follow a particular formula for freedom; and 'negative freedom', such as existed in the US, in which the state left its citizens alone, to pursue their own individual goals. This latter is not to be sneezed at, or course; there is a certain relief, or weightlessness, in being allowed to go yr own way, w/o any external interference. But what Berlin never addressed was the down side of negative freedom: that it cannot create a coherent society, and finally results in a society, and lives, w/o much meaning (laissez-faire). He also never explored the potential of positive freedom: not the heavy hand of the Soviet Union, but the idea of community, of a genuine society with the real purpose of doing gd for its citizens (all of them). He only saw that positive freedom cd get out of hand; he never saw that negative freedom cd. We are now living with the consequences of this Me/Myself/I ideology, and have an empty president presiding over 315 million empty people. What can fill that hole? Guns? War? Alcohol? Obesity? Electronic toys? American Idol? These seem to be the major options these days.

Thinking over history, no nation comes to mind that was as pathetic as this one is.

mb

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Bad Idea said...

Pub-

I would agree with Dr. B, Waldorf is a good option. My sister homeschools using Waldorf materials and her kid are about as bright and interesting as it gets for American kids (a low bar, but still!)

We have also struggled to find good education for our little kiddo, even most private schools are complete garbage. Look for a Deweyite or a democratic free school. Our rule of thumb, if they have standardized tests or grades for little kids --run!

A few years ago our kiddo attended a Reggio Emilia preschool. It was pretty great (good teachers, involved parent community, wonderful toys and classrooms), but I felt like it was missing something big. Upon reading more about RE it hit me that the lack of community in America leaves a gaping hole in the experience.

Americans can study the approach and follow the curriculum to the letter, but they will never recreate the experience of a free preschool attended by the entire community in an honest-to-god town (like Reggio Emilia)

The monastic option starts early.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Morons on Parade Dept.:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/03/06/cpac-latest-developments/?hpt=hp_t2

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Baron Ludwig von Nichts said...

Oh there are other options to fill the void of American life. For example, we could start marching around in unison, wearing armbands and participating in mass rituals to glorify the Empire and the Leader. You think it's easy getting thousands of people to operate with that kind of precision, purpose and unity? To be honest, this sounds kinda exciting, challenging and edgy compared to what Americans are up to these days.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

SrvidaBuena,

I think you have some legitimate concerns about socially isolating a child. I've thought about the same issue myself, and I don't know the answer. Perhaps it's simply a matter of choosing from less bad options--the route you yourself seem to have taken. But I have seen many home-schooled kids who are socially stunted, with far from winning personalities. But my sample is small, so it's hard to say for sure.

Waldorf might be a good thing, as some here have suggested; but my own experience of private schools in America has been pretty negative. The type I've consistently encountered in that environment is what you might call the deeply self-satisfied, upwardly hustling "Bobo" (or, "Bohemian Bourgeois"--about whom David Brooks has written several emetic tributes.)At all events, I think that self-congratulatory spirit is pretty universal in American private schooling. So I hold out little hope in that regard. But again, my experience is limited, so I could possibly be wrong.

Though I doubt it.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Baron, Mein Herr:

Ach Du Lieber! Es war gut, von Ihnen zu hoeren! Es gefaellt mir, Ihre Geist...I like the way your mind works. This ought to help us move in that direction:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/07/us-usa-idaho-guns-idUSBREA2605U20140307

We have lots of road rage in the US; now, we can expand this to campus rage. Say yr in class, and someone says something you don't like. Why not just blow them outta the water?

Bis bald, Mein Schatz-

mb

4:02 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Revusky said...

I know or suspect this may be a taboo topic, but I can't help but wonder...

Is it part of being a "wafer" to realize that our conflict with islam is a constructed hoax, that all the islamic terrorism is false flag, that Osama Bin Laden was a CIA agent and had nothing to do with 9/11 except as a patsy?

Or more recently, do they realize that the U.S. engineered a neo-fascist putsch in the Ukraine against a democratically elected government and claimed that it was a democratic reform?

While it can be illuminating to realize that a lot of Americans are a-holes, to realize some of these basic things I mention above also seems important. For example, in 1939, to realize that low-level Nazis were a-holes and thugs was one thing, but it was also important to grasp that the high level nazis staged the Reichstag fire and the Gleiwitz incident and so on...

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

Dr. MB,

Now were getting somewhere. Jesus and firearms.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/03/churches-guns-giveaway/5967533/

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Capo for homeschooling said...

Megan,

The idea that homeschooled children are poorly socialized is a myth. It of course depends on the approach of homeschooling. Public schools in the U.S. often have metal detectors, guards and a focus on indoctrination and idiotic conformity. Most americans are total douchebags, rude, poorly socialized and I may add--products of the public school system. In addtion, these kids you point out without the winning personalities may well be better off home schooled.

Many groups of homeschooling parents get their kids together with other home scholed kids and they do go to see the world a lot more than public schools (liability, budgets etc). I have two grand children being home schooled, and researched the matter thoroughly and came to agree with my son that this is the best way to go. I am taking them on a trip to the National Gallery on Sunday and am thrilled and this summer they are staying w maternal grandma and grandpa in jerusalem--and yes they are deiightful and well socialized but I am biased. Like everything else homeschooling is variable, no doubt there are sociopaths somewhere homeschooling but else where capable and intelligent people are doing so. Allowing then in say the D.C. public schools would indeed socialize them--to a life of crime:) . The key thing is for people to have some option outside of the dreck of public schools. Friends in Philly and B-more all homeschool. Why? sending your children to philly and b-more schools today constitutes child abuse.

There are a lot of personality types of children and Sr Buena Vista's child sounds like a child well suited for home schooling I would hasten to add that there are no empirical studies that show that public school chilren are better socialized than home school or private school children.

Did you know that children in scandinavian countries do not start school until age 7 and spend the early years hanging out mostly with mom and dad? Essentialy they are homeschooled until age 7. If there is a group of kids better socialized than say 6 and 7 year old norweigans/swedes please do tell.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jonathan-

We don't discuss 9/11 as a purported inside job here, for a shitload of reasons I've listed in the past; but in any case, there are numerous websites for that discussion, and I don't want this site hijacked by an endless debate over it. Nor do I believe bin Laden was a CIA agent; one needs hard evidence for that, and if it existed Truthdig et al. wd have outed it by now. That being said, I do accept that the 'war on terror' is a red herring, and that there is, indeed, a war against Islam going on which America used 9/11 as an excuse to launch. For this, we do have evidence, tho I'm not going to rehearse it at this pt. Personally, I think it's appalling, that undertaking such a move is truly stupid, and that it is yet another factor in our (ongoing) collapse.

As for what u say abt the Ukraine, it wd hardly surprise me: check out Steven Kinzer's bk, "Overthrow," for our past CIA meddling in democratically elected governments (or DAA, for that matter). However, I haven't done any research on the topic, so I can't really make an informed evaluation at this pt.

In general, it seems to me that for the gd of everybody--including the US--it needs to move off the world stage; which is in process as we speak.

mb

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Dr B stated: "As for what u say abt the Ukraine, it wd hardly surprise me: check out Steven Kinzer's bk, "Overthrow," for our past CIA meddling in democratically elected governments"

I am familiar with the works of Dr David C. Korten. Try his book: "When Corporations Rule the World"
Or listen to him here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWDn6vQJKE8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdsZ_lLz07Q

Basically, Dr Korten claims that the US government is a threat to democracy, not just today or yesterday or 50 years ago. It has been a threat to genuine democracy since 1600's.

I go further: the US government is a threat to governance in many parts of the world. Because of many decades of exploiting and killing other peoples around the world, the thugs in the US government have mastered the art of killing and pillaging, so they have turned their skills inward to kill and exploit their own, the American citizens.

As stated by Dr Korten, "when you harm other people, you harm yourself". The chickens are finally at your home to roost.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Jonathan Revusky-

Putin would certainly agree with your assessment of the Ukrainian situation. In fact, Putin argued that it was Western intelligence services that organized the overthrow of Yunukovich; including training the armed groups that defied the government. He also accused the US for the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Of course, the US denies all of this... arguing that Putin has simply snapped! Gee, what a surprise! All this sounds pretty familiar, no?

While I'm certainly no big fan of Vladimir Putin, I think it is very important to keep an open mind about this crisis. Deep security concerns of Russia could be the driving force behind this whole crisis going all the way back to WW II. In other words, Russia is a deeply traumatized country to this day and feels that it was never fully respected or fairly treated during the war or after, despite the massive effort and sacrifice by the Russian people freeing the world from Hitler. 24 million killed by the Nazis ain't nothing to sneeze at. But that is essentially what the Americans did. That sacrifice has *never* been fully acknowledged by the US. It never will. The commonly told narrative, largely mythological, is that it was the US who liberated the world from the burden of fascism. From a practical perspective, the US must offer Russia a partnership among equals and finally acknowledge the achievements of the former Soviet Union. This would go a long way in my book. Otherwise, we will see conflicts like this one in the Ukraine again and again.

cube-

By all means take a trip out to LA and visit Canter's. Let me know when you do. Be aware, tho, that the douche bag density is extremely thick out here. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode, "The Trip": Jerry and George travel to Hollywood for Jerry's appearance on "The Tonight Show." Both are picked up by LAPD and Jerry screams, "Hey, what kind of a town is this?" to the cops. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Jeff

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang said...

Waferism is continuing to catch on with people. This article in the week by Noah Smith really sums it up. http://theweek.com/article/index/257266/what-the-collapse-of-the-ming-dynasty-can-tell-us-about-american-decline

"We tell ourselves robotically that we have "the best health-care system in the world," when in fact it underperforms most other rich countries. We gape and gawk when we first travel to Japan or Switzerland and find that all the trains run perfectly on time — not to mention the fact that there are trains in the first place. We ignore our sky-high infrastructure costs and grumble about potholed roads, never pausing to wonder why West Europe and East Asia don't have these problems. We tell ourselves that we're the "land of the free," ignoring the fact that in Japan you can drink a beer in the park without getting arrested. We say that anyone in America can get rich, ignoring the fact that economic mobility is lower here than in almost any other rich country."

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

Bossu said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky5vhXwxrdM

Wafers may be interested in this series of videos which talk practically about leaving the US to live abroad.


....................

I posted the above the other day. I forgot to say that the guy who presents it is damaged by religion and is maybe some kind of Israeli nut.Don't let this put you off.

For in among the chaff there is wheat, in the form of where WAFERS can go and where they shouldn't.

I fully expect WAFERS (who evolved from the swamp some time ago)to be able to distill the good stuff in this link if they are interested in translating their lives onward and upward, giving real meaning to the phrase "Get a Life".

Arise ye starvelings from your goddamn slumbers....

1:50 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B - The idea of “too much negative freedom” is very interesting - a great way of conceptualizing our lack of cultural unity, our lack of any sense that we are all pulling together in some meaningful way. The glaring failures of large-scale modern attempts to create a greater sense of positive freedom - the engineered nightmares of fascism (exciting as they may be, Baron Ludwig!) and socialism (and we can probably include most smaller-scale attempts as well, like intentional communities) - indicate that modern, westernized peoples are clueless about how to create a real sense of common purpose and social harmony. We have no idea where that capacity comes from; and the closed loop of our narrowly rational - and supposedly superior - approach to things assures we’ll only ever try “more of the same” in any search for shared purpose. We’ve really closed the doors to whatever levels and modes of thinking/perceiving humans used to rely on to create cultural vision and cohesion. So yeah, thank god we at least have those great electronic gadgets, TV shows, wars, and other distractions to make up for the meaningful lives we’re missing. “Stupidity Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.”

Maybe Marinaleda, that town in Spain described in The Village Against the World, models a better balance of positive and negative freedom?

Pauli - now I'm with you on this one: “Because of many decades of exploiting and killing other peoples around the world, the thugs in the US government have mastered the art of killing and pillaging, so they have turned their skills inward to kill and exploit their own, the American citizens.”

3:32 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

The coup in Ukraine was engineered.
I won't post a link, but anyone can do a web search and find the audio of the conversation between Catherine Ashton of the EU and the Estonian foreign affairs minister, in which the Estonian minister reveals evidence that the snipers that killed protesters (and police) were probably hired by the opposition movement(s) itself. And the US, as the harpie Nuland revealed on another "tape," has invested $5 billion in this "revolution."
Regardless, the US has finally antagonized an enemy that is neither a pushover nor a fool. Thus, the blowhard comments from Kerry, the Hitler meme from Hillary, and the blustering from the lamestream media talking heads and Republicrats.

I doubt that Obummer will take the bait, because he is barely smart enough to know that a real confrontation would destroy the non-existent recovery, and doom the Democrats this year, if they aren't already doomed by Obummercare. I notice that Obummer has delayed until 2017 the pulling of the plug on non-conforming insurance plans...

Regarding schooling for children/inmates, thanks for the suggestions.
Waldorf is a great option, if we can afford it. Working on it. There is no perfect option. I have to say, I'd rather have my kid a bit less "socialized," whatever that term means, than lobotomized like I was.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Megan, Capo,

People tend to forget that the modern homeschooling movement in America was essentially begun by John Holt, a compassionate human being & teacher who was most definitely NOT on the right-wing side of things. His books of the subject are still well worth reading, as he was debunking the popular misconceptions about homeschooling nearly 50 years ago, including the (lack of) socialization argument.

Of course, the concept did get co-opted & rebranded by the right-wing; but they discarded Holt's vision of the child as an intelligent, autonomous human being eager to learn about & understand the wider world, as well as to find a self-chosen place in it. And he even foresaw how progressives could easily fall prey to the same desire to remold children in a desired mindset "for their own good" . A couple of Holt's favorite lines: Beware the helping hand (especially the one that won't let go even when the child is ready to fly solo & make the necessary mistakes & experience the consequences of growing up), and Beware the man who feels himself to be a slave -- he'll want to make a slave of you, too. His descriptions of the prison-like nature of public schools ring true today.

I've been returning to Thoreau lately, and I realize all over again how much he did see this modern world coming.

Mark,

Not only is reading too much for most people today, so is thinking, reflecting, contemplating. Far easier to ignore it completely -- or delude yourself that outsourcing it to software is as good as doing it yourself, if not better. It strikes me that all the handy digital devices today create the illusion of doing more to connect people, while actually doing as little real connection as possible. Posting an update in Facebook requires the least amount of effort & engagement with other human beings as can be imagined, while still conveying some superficial mote of information -- more often trivia & emotion-free factoids. So who needs novels? You've got action movies, videogames, and an endless cornucopia of really cool apps. What more does the facsimile of a human being need today?

7:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

I don't know how to make it any clearer, as I've said it at least a dozen times: This blog will NOT be discussing 9/11 as a supposed inside job. You wanna do that, fine; just do it elsewhere. I'm getting tired of this, OK?

mb

7:55 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Revusky said...

Jeff T, with all due respect, I think you are missing the plot here. At least partially... Your reference to the sacrifice of the Russians in the second world war to defeat the Nazis does show a sensitivity to the historical context that is rare among Americans.

So, are you aware that the fascists in western Ukraine have destroyed monuments to the Red Army that defeated the Nazis? Surely you have a sense of history enough to sense what an affront this is to the Russians. So, contrary to the western media narrative, the Russians are actually behaving with incredible restraint when being faced with such outrageous provocation.

In general, you constantly hear this meme that RT, Russia Today, is a propaganda network which spreads all this hateful anti-American propaganda. BUT.... as a matter of fact, Russia Today is probably the single best source currently of information about U.S. domestic and international policy.

There is a subtle point here. The point is not whether RT has an anti-American bias or agenda. They probably do. However, they do not spread disinformation, because simply factually reporting on U.S. domestic and foreign policy already creates a terribly negative picture. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if they were to invent disinformation about America, they would have a hard time making up things that are more defamatory than simply telling the truth.

Thus, RT simply tells the truth about the U.S. And yes, this tends to be a rather anti-American message because at this juncture in history, the truth has a strong anti-American bias, let's say.

But anyway, as regards the two competing narratives, the Obama/U.S. gov/CNN line, that what happened in Ukraine was democracy in action, versus the Putin/RT line that it was a neo-fascist putsch, the Putin/RT line is truthful and the western media and politicians are lying. The comment by Publius above outlines the situation well.

"Putin would certainly agree with your assessment of the Ukrainian situation." "While I'm certainly no big fan of Vladimir Putin,"

It has nothing to do with being a "fan" of Putin. It is quite clear that Putin is telling the truth and Obama and Kerry and the western media are lying.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I am afraid the American Empire has entered its very advanced stages of dementia:

"Pentagon studying Putin's body language to predict his behavior"

http://rt.com/usa/pentagon-connors-putin-language-510/

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Re: The ‘education’ of our nation’s youth.

Here’s a poem by W.H. Auden, from memory so I hope I got it right.

“I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn.
Those to whom evil is done,
Do evil in return.”

It applies to American ‘parenting’ and just about everything else our blessed land does to its kids. The damage gets worse and worse over the generations with each new generation of adults upping the ante, or perhaps more correctly, ‘downing the ante’.

Please don’t take this as an attack on teachers. A surprising number of the ones I talk to seem to be aware of what’s wrong and are quite frustrated. They’re caught in the middle between incompetent administrators, the kid’s dysfunctional families, and a morbidly sick society with its cretinized culture.

Especially recommended is John Holt’s “Instead of Education.”

David Rosen

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Baron Ludwig von Nichts said...

Vielen dank. So you're on board then? A new party, rallies, stormtroopers, putsch, false flags, the whole nine yards?

First, we need a powerful symbol -- something that expresses the deepest subconscious longings of the American people. Any suggestions? I'm thinking two dollar symbols crossed, in a white circle on a red background. What do you think?

1:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Baron-

Pastrami sandwich on rye w/mustard?

mb

1:59 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

GregJS said...modern, westernized peoples are clueless about how to create a real sense of common purpose and social harmony. We have no idea where that capacity comes from; and the closed loop of our narrowly rational - and supposedly superior - approach to things assures we’ll only ever try “more of the same” in any search for shared purpose. We’ve really closed the doors to whatever levels and modes of thinking/perceiving humans used to rely on to create cultural vision and cohesion.

Thanks for that excellent observation, Greg.

In America, the doors are closed to anything other than the most extreme form of capitalism as the basis of society. How absurd are America progressives and reformers to think that there can ever be community in a country so under the dominance of capitalism. Capitalism is a system of extreme dominance and hierarchy, and in America it has reached totalitarian proportions. Where capitalism comes first, community will always come last. Always. Capitalism is the antonym of community. How can a dictatorship of the super rich, who insatiably strive for even more wealth, ever be anything other than a desperate war of all against all? If we aren’t discussing this vital fact at the core of our society, then we are merely engaging in a superficial discussion of trivia. We are merely talking about how to decorate the prison cell. And of course, like an octopus producing a cloud of ink, the corporate media’s job is to make sure that we have all kinds of trivia to distract us, so that it never even enters our minds to begin such a discussion. One would think that religious and higher educational institutions might be a place for such a discussion, but no, not even there is it permitted. That’s why I say totalitarian is not too strong a word to describe this system.

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Capo, Tim,

From Tim's description, Holt sounds like someone I'd like. But just for the record, I do loathe the American public school system, and I certainly wasn't suggesting that anyone should send their kids there. In fact, I think home schooling is in general the best option. That said, there is a tendency for many home-schooling parents to have far too much involvement in their kids' lives, and to excessively micromanage everything they do. (For the ambitious, a typical day might look like: "Lessons in Greek at 8 Am, Algebra at 10, Faulkner at 11, a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by lunch, Tae Kwon Do practice at 3 PM, an architecture lesson out back with dad building a tree house at 5, Violin at 7", etc.) Kind of like if you just fill your kids with enough of the "good stuff", the rest will automatically take care of itself!

Don't get me wrong--it's pretty cool if a kid can read Homer in the original, or spends her mornings poring over the classics. But sometimes with this approach the whole can end up to be less than the sum of the parts, and what you get is an impressive facade, but not much more. (The better American private schools typically accomplish little more than this.) I think this is a particular danger where the parents simply try to do too much (I call it "hyper-rationalizing" the curriculum), and refuse to ever leave their kids alone. A child reared in such an environment is likely to turn out pretty decent--far better than average in fact. But I also think that some "inoculation" is useful and desirable. In that sense, finding a solid, long term peer group outside of the parents' sphere of influence, is perhaps the most crucial element.

Of course, as parents we don't like it when our daughters run around doing dumb things, like going to concerts, or hanging out at the mall with questionable boys; just as we don't want to find out that our boys are out throwing snowballs at cars, or setting fires in the woods. In moderation, however, these untidy, "irrational" things are a healthy part of growing up; and in their way, just as important as studying Bach with mom, or staring at a Rembrandt with dad at the museum.

3:15 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Zosima wrote:

"One would think that religious and higher educational institutions might be a place for such a discussion, but no, not even there is it permitted."

Even worse, a distressingly large proportion of the population--from the poorest to the most prosperous--can point to religious teachings and Scripture to justify the capitalist model. ("The Lord helps those who help themselves" being but one example.)

Interestingly, the teachings of the hero of the New Testament appear to play a much less prominent role in shaping the thinking and behavior of these same folks.

More's the pity.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

Zosima and Greg said..

"GregJS said...modern, westernized peoples are clueless about how to create a real sense of common purpose and social harmony."

Sorry gentlemen, I cannot agree. A sense of commonality is evident each time there is a strike by workers against capital and business. In the UK this was apparent in a series of miners' strikes in the 80s where they struck for a year simply to stop their industry being decimated.They failed because Thatcher, friend of criminal Regan and Pinochet and who called Mandela , used all the resources of the State to crush them. There are many workers' struggles like this all over the world. They are little reported on mainstream media. Try Al Jazeera or RT, and sometimes the BBC (tho' less and less these days). Don't imagine that because the corrupted US media doesn't report such events that they dont happen. Ommission of news is however a highly effective form of censorship. We all suffer from that.

There are community struggles in Mexico against US caused crime and murder. There was Hugo Chavez and the people of his country until he was done in by Uncle Sam. Watch the forces supported by the US cause mayhem there now. There are other community resistance projects if you look them out. In India poor farmers struggle against big US agrichemical wolves who are eating the farmers alive. The suicide rate among farmers there runs into the thousands.

The following link supports what you say about lack of community. But dont imagine that community is dead..you just didnt hear about it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/a-dead-womans-body-found-sitting-in-a-car-had-been-there-for-six-years-9178773.html

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Zosima,

Chris Hedges has talked about what Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarianism" many times. You see the control exerted by this system remains anonymous within the corporate state. The same corporate state apparatus that likes to internalize profits and externalize costs. Of course, what we are really talking about at this point is fascism.

Most people hear that word and immediately think of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. The History Channel has done a good job at advertising them. But let us not kid ourselves. This system is can be likened to the Matrix. We know it exists, yet we serve it. Because the alternative is to abandon the idea that one day our ship will come in and we could someday be part of that elite group of people running the show. Dr. Berman has elucidated on the fact that the we are only fooling ourselves.

I remember watching the documentary "Architects of Control" by Michael Tsarion. There are a couple of statements that he makes that are quite profound, although at least one can be attributed to someone else. The first is this: "Yes, you have sold me a lie; But did I choose to buy that lie." Second, in a traditional system of slavery the master provides the food and shelter for his workers. In our system of wage slavery the the worker is on his own to provide for his own food and shelter.

You are correct in saying that we are just decorating our own prison cells. Mortgages, student debt, consumer debt, healthcare costs, energy, and food prices keep working people in check. Working to survive leaves little time for the average American for contemplation or deep thinking about how this set of living arrangements is short sighted and eventually self destructive to ourselves and the living planet.

I have recently been reading and listening to Guy McPherson concerning the climate and our future. His estimation based on the information that he has collated lays out a pretty dim future for industrialized civilization. We are already on the path that leads to on end to our way of life, if not the end of our species. I believe that his view that we really can't undo what we have already set in motion is right inline with what Dr. Berman has lectured on and written about at great length. The whole thing has to play itself out.

Peace,
Vince

2:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank you all for the above discussion. Here's some relevant stuff:

1. On nonexistence of social mobility in the US:

James Surowiecki, "The Mobility Myth," New Yorker, March 3

2. On the Ukraine situation as being what the Western democracies claim that it is (pretty persuasive, BTW): article by Yale historian Timothy Snyder, "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine," in NYRB, March 20

3. On the larger mess we are in, this from W.H. Auden, 1966:

"I think a great many of us are haunted by the feeling that our society, and by ours I don't mean just the United States or Europe, but our whole world-wide technological civilisation, whether officially labelled capitalist, socialist, or communist, is going to go smash, and probably deserves to."

(This was way before the work of the World Systems Analysis schl.)

mb

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Capo in strong disagreement with MB said...

MB,

Re: Snyder? Persuasive? No mas tequila boobie. Being persuaded by his piece in NYRB is tantamount to taking in the narrative of empire and "democracy". I suppose I can have people in Mexico look under your bed and look for a pod and reveal you have been taken over by Leo Strauss.

Its pretty rank propaganda and not in accord with the facts at all. No mention of a.) protest groups funded by west, esp u.s.a b.) Victoria Nulands point of spending $5 billion in essentially a propaganda campaign c.) that its in Russias legitimate interest to be in the Ukraine gien that the west has violated all treaties and well cannot be trusted.

My favorite qoute of Snyder:" the propagandists in kiev and moscow take us for fools" On the other hand there are no propagandists in Washington, London, Brussels.

Academic habits die hard (my automatic response prior to age 40 was if an economist at MIT or Harvard it came from the burning bush itself). I won't belabor all the empire memes and other outright folderol in Snyders work but alas you too are human and can be taken in by a slick ivy leaguers sophisms. Its o.k., I strongly disagree with you but love ya anyway MB.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

You cd be rt, but we really do need exact and clear evidence of US meddling and so on. As I said earlier, I haven't researched it, so I can't say anything definitive abt it; just that Snyder is a gd historian and that I found the essay persuasive. I'll certainly be happy to read anything published in Counter Punch or wherever, documenting CIA agitation in the Ukraine; but up to this pt, I haven't seen the case for that coherently or convincingly laid out.

mb

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

This could have been in Seinfeld:
I attended a union luncheon today and we had Senator Vincent Hughes give the keynote address. He spoke elequently and forcefully about union cohesiveness and the need to fight for public school children in Philadelphia. We gave him a standing ovation then sat down for lunch. I was at a round table seating 10. One might think after such an impassioned speech there would be animated conversation around the table. Almost everyone ate quickly then left. Hardly anyone said a word! Even more unfortunately, the blacks at the table acted like the tight-ass whites. Help me, wafers. Am I over-reacting?

7:37 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Zosima, Bossu, Megan, Tim, Capo, and others - How’s this for an attempt to tie together the strand about homeschooling and the one about creating a sense of shared cultural purpose:

I was only vaguely aware of John Holt via my girlfriend in the late’80’s who was into him (we bonded partly on alternative ed - I was into A.S. Neill and his writings about the “free school” he ran in England called Summerhill); but mainly know him from his endorsement (“If the world could be saved by a book, this just might be the book.”) on the cover of Jean Liedloff’s Continuum Concept. I agree with his endorsement and can say that this book has been pivotal in my life. The great thing about it is that it gives an evolutionary reference point for what’s “normal” for humans as far as things like childrearing practices and cultural cohesion go. This provides a missing sense of scale for talking about how far off base modern, westernized, hyper-rational, hyper-capitalistic society really is. I mean, anyone on this blog knows we’re off base. But how far off? It’s so hard to quantify. So Bossu, I get how the examples you gave really do demonstrate a type of cohesion and unity - and there was no way for you to know that in the post of mine that you were responding to, I was thinking of cohesion/unity on a totally different scale. Partly, I could’ve expressed myself more clearly; but partly, even among people with similar views, like Wafers, there is often no sense of scale for what any one of us might be talking about. This itself is a core quality of modern culture.

This relates to so many issues: what is normal for social interaction in childhood and what is a normally socialized child? what is a normal amount of parental involvement in childrearing? what is the normal course of childhood development? what kind of social/cultural structures would normally socialized people create? Our culture tends to deny that fairly straightforward answers to such questions were worked out tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago - or would insist that such answers are “too constricting” or “limiting.” But being unmoored from evolutionary norms is a big part of what makes our culture a “colossus adrift.” (Also, MB’s Wandering God covers similar ground as CC, but in a somewhat different way. They go well together.)

8:20 PM  
Blogger Val said...

Dr. B, what are you talking about? Social mobility is *booming* in the USA. You're just looking in the wrong direction: it's downward, not upward. This is a great investment opportunity, the perfect time to put your capital into check cashing agencies, collections outfits, repo and other businesses that extract the most wealth from the people that can least afford to lose any. The beauty of this is that of *course* they can't afford to take you to court, no matter how outrageous your claims against them. Don't forget bail bond agencies too.

If you want an alternative view about what's going on in Ukraine, you might try Dmitry Orlov's blog. His past few posts have been about it. It's at ClubOrlov(dot)bogsplot(dot)com.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Doctor Van Nostrand said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

As you know, an epidemic is currently sweeping the United States.

I am speaking of course, about Cranial Rectal Embedment (CRE).

As a licensed medical professional, I am deeply concerned about the spread of this terrible disease, and am in the process of creating a public health campaign, complete with a colored ribbon, official awareness month and catchy slogans.

Since the condition is so widespread, I am proposing to the AMA that every month from now until the collapse of the American Empire be designated "National CRE Awareness Month". For the color of the ribbon, I am choosing a garish lime green designed to make the eyes water, both to attract the greatest amount of attention and because the obnoxiousness of this color matches the obnoxiousness of the individuals afflicted with CRE.

Because your website seems to be a magnet for trollfoons (the technical medical term for those with Stage 9 CRE), and because it is such a popular, influential website with the American intelligentsia, I am including links to some CRE graphics in the hope that you and your readership will be willing to display the following graphics to promote CRE Awareness Month. I encourage you and all WAFERs to share and modify these images, pass them out to your friends and family, have them tattooed in prominent places, etc.

Fight CRE

Over 300 Million Suffer from CRE

CRE Awareness Month

Sincerely,

Dr. Van Nostrand, MD

1:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dr. Van Nostrand!

I am a great fan of yr work. Is it yr contention that Shakespeare was a fraud? Are you still in touch with Marla Penny? This website does, indeed, attract trolfoons in droves. You'd think, with my incredible gd looks, that I'd be a chick magnet; instead I wound up being a trolfoon magnet. Is there no justice in the world? Meanwhile, have u thought of developing some sort of spray? It's hard to stop their onslaught, given the fact that this blog is really the only game in town. They know, as u say, how powerful my influence is in Washington and other world capitals.

Val-

Gd pt! Poverty investment is definitely the way to go, and I am thankful 2u for pointing out these new hustling opportunities. As far as the Ukraine goes: the problem is that the jury is still out, as far as I can see. My 1st reaction (scroll upwards) was that given the history of US 'overthrow' (Kinzer) of legitimate regimes, American meddling wd not be a surprise; but that history does not make it so in this case, and we don't have clear evidence of it. The $5b investment in the Ukraine that Victoria Nuland mentioned is not really evidence of meddling, imo, because it depends on what the money was spent on. Cd have been on propaganda and special ops--that's meddling--or on infrastructure, libraries, that sort of thing. There are lots of charges flying abt, that the US funneled $ to protesters, that it hired thugs, or that it organized neo-Nazi protests--but none of this is substantiated. We need to know a lot more, in short, b4 we can call it meddling. Was the Marshall Plan meddling? It certainly was designed to keep Europe noncommunist, but it did a lot of gd in terms of desperately needed European reconstruction, and it was not the kind of meddling that we normally mean by that word: Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, etc.

There are 3 possible stories here: Snyder's (the Western democracy take); these random rumors of CIA meddling; and something in between. What I don't see, to date, is the Left laying out a documented expose of American meddling in the Ukranian situation. We need a list of items/events, and clear proof. Again, it wd not surprise me if all of that exists, but rumor is not necessarily reality. Stuff I've read so far talks abt the hypocrisy of Obama and Kerry vis-a-vis Putin's actions (true enuf), or the history of US interference in general (true enuf; see Kinzer, DAA, etc.); but has not generated any hard evidence for the accusations regarding the Ukraine. I do find Snyder persuasive, as I said; but I won't be shocked if his version turns out to be only part of the story.

As for Capo: thanks for the ad hominem attack; much appreciated! Nothing like mutual courtesy and respect, eh amigo?

mb

5:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Prof. Van Nostrand: I esp. like the 3rd graphic; an X-ray of contemporary America, really. I remember, when I was a kid, an ad for some sort of verkakte cream, and the line they used was "the heartbreak of psoriasis." Much the same can now be said of CRE, quite obviously.

5:16 AM  
Anonymous Dave Young said...

Re: First Look Media

Truthdig has been a bit disappointing lately, posting things like technology reviews, clips from Daily Show, and progressive news pieces.

I suggest First Look Media instead. This is funded by Pierre Omidyar of ebay, and getting together great bloggers like Glenn Greenwald (on Edward Snowden & civil liberties), Jeremy Schill (on drone strikes), and now Matt Taibbi (on Wall St).

If you want to follow the latest on collapse, First Look will be one of the better sources of commentary.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear MB,

On the Ukrainian situation, I found the the last four posts on Dmitry Orlov's blog to be more insightful than anything else I have read. I cannot say that it definitively proves US meddling. But, I think it provides a good historical perspective.
www.cluborlov.com
The most relevant columns are:

"Shock over Ukraine" posted on Feb 22nd
"Reichstag Fire in Kiev" posted on March 1st
"Chronology of the Ukrainian Coup" posted on March 5th

Thanks,
Himanshu

10:07 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman:
I appreciate your openness on the Ukraine question. I thought Snyder's piece was informative and plausible, and probably provides accurate info on part of the story.

I also, by default now, assume that the US gov't line is significantly full of b.s. They've been "manufacturing consent" now for a century, and they are getting good at it.
Thy hypocrisy alone, of course, must be enough to drive the rest of the world crazy... literally.
Crimea, however, was Russian until 1953, and is over 50% ethnically Russian. I don't think there is any going back for Putin. It is hard to imagine that Crimea means more the the USA or EU than Russian.
The poor kids mentioned in Snyder's article also don't realize yet that the EU is at heart a fascist bureaucracy that ignores and subverts democracy. It governs by fiat, mainly in the interests of corporate interests. Ukraine is screwed, no matter what happens. IMF fodder.
It will be interesting to see how far Obummer will push this confrontation that nobody can win.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

@Dave Young
Re: First Look Media

Pierre Omidyar of ebay, who created First Look, is an Iranian. This is why the news outlet will be as honest, truthful, and as transparent as Aljazeera and RT. Of course, we know that Aljazeera was created by Qatar government, not by an America or a British or an Israeli. RT was created by the government of Russia, where Snowden currently enjoys his right to live like a human being.

As someone said, the "epidemic currently sweeping the United States" known as CRE, was NOT created by Iranians or by Arabs or by Russians.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Himan-

Many thanks for the Orlov material. Orlov’s analysis is that everybody fucked up, across the board. He calls Yanukovych‘barbarous’. Frankly, the more I read, the murkier it gets. But (see below), he does produce convincing evidence of conspiracy-meddling; which I don’t think discredits Snyder (tho I cd be wrong), but rather modifies and enlarges the picture. As I said from the get-go, the general record of US meddling means we shdn’t be surprised if this turns out to be the case w/the Ukraine. Here are some Orlov excerpts, in any case:

“On 23 February of this year in Kiev there took place a coup d'état in which armed neo-Nazi militants surrounded and took over Parliament and forced the parliamentarians, under duress, to replace the elected government with opposition figures who were supported and promoted by the EU representatives and the US State Department. Representatives of the party of the overthrown government—the Party of Regions—were threatened into resigning. [Note that this does not mean that the neo-Nazis were funded or organized by the US, but
If Orlov is correct, it certainly doesn’t put the US in a great light, obviously.]

“What provided the rationale for the coup d'état was the killing of demonstrators by uniformed snipers, blamed on the previous government. The overthrown president, who has since fled to Russia, was accused of mass murder, and the new government demanded his extradition (a dumb move, since Russia's constitution forbids extradition). But there are serious questions about this interpretation of events: the special forces were never issued rifles and were never ordered to open fire on the protesters; there were quite a few special forces members themselves among those killed; the killings were carried out in such a manner as to incite rather than quell protest, by targeting women, bystanders and those assisting the wounded.”

[Here’s another quote; obviously, it makes a great difference what the answer is to his parenthetical question:]

“The situation in the Ukraine is roughly as follows. The new Ukrainian government, born, as it were, of an incestuous relationship between a Ukrainian neo-Nazi skinhead and his pig (or was it a US State Department operative?) lacks legitimacy.”

[However, the following is what I wd consider hard evidence of US meddling; this is from a guest post by Renee Parsons, March 5:]

“It was not until February 23, 2014 when Anonymous Ukraine hackers released a series of emails from a Lithuanian government advisor to opposition leader and former boxer Vitaly Klitschko regarding plans to destabilize Ukraine; for example:

‘Our American friends promise to pay a visit in the coming days, we may even see Nuland or someone from the Congress.’ 12/7/2013

‘Your colleague has arrived … his services may be required even after the country is destabilized.’ 12/14/2013

‘I think we’ve paved the way for more radical escalation of the situation. Isn’t it time to proceed with more decisive action?’ 1/9/2014"

[Now *that’s* evidence!, tho I don't think Putin or Yanukovych come off as squeaky-clean in this whole debacle. It will be interesting 2c how it all plays out. If the Obama admin can be fairly accused of meddling, based on the above, I think even more it can be accused of bungling. My guess is we'll see a lot more of that in future wks. Thanks again.]

mb

1:06 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

mb, Murky is the word.

You might also be interested in reading this short Naureckas piece disputing Snyder. As he points out, Snyder does nothing to refute the fact that there was a large fascist presence in the overthrow Yanukovych.

and:

"Snyder insists that "the transitional authorities were not from the right," and that the "new government, chosen by parliament…is very similar in its general orientation." This is simply false; Snyder mentions a couple of political figures who are not fascists, but passes over in silence a number of bonafide far-right extremists who have been given powerful positions."

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/08-4

1:46 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Frankistan, Dave

Please cop on. First Look is a billionaires pet project. No human is deserving of the power that much money provides. Sure, it may be less overtly biased than traditional western media sources. But they've been going for quite some time... Just remember the agenda that First Look starts with from inception. Frankly, when you're willing to laud any large organization of people with "honest, truthful, and as transparent" I think you're already set to be conned...

2:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

It'll probably take a lot of analysis to disentangle this mess, and what I appreciated abt the Orlov/Parsons discussion is their demonstration that everyone is implicated in it. Strange currents and counter-currents, wh/is part of what Snyder was saying; tho it's clear now, as u say, that he left a lot out. There's also no doubt in my mind that the US wd love to resurrect the Cold War: apparently, having Islam as an enemy is not enuf to satisfy our Manichaean desires (and Americans of all political stripes enjoy thinking in slogans). So the US media and govt campaign to make Putin look 'like Hitler' (where wd we be w/o 'Hitler'!) is not that surprising. But Putin *is* an autocrat, and that shdn't be surprising either: Russia has been an autocratic 'state' since abt A.D. 900, and the Soviet Commissars were just updated Tsars, really. Crack a joke abt the state and if reported, u wound up in Siberia for 10 yrs (witness Pussy Riot, and consider how Putin rose up the ranks of the KGB). Those in the Left in the US who praise Putin for his 'humane' treatment of Snowden, for example, overlook (1) that fair treatment of Snowden is a gd propaganda move for Russia, and (2) it's easy for Russia to treat an American dissident well; more relevant is how it treats its *own* dissidents. And then there is the Ukraine, w/its rich history of Cossack pogroms and Fascist involvement--etc. You get my pt.

mb

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Sammy KC said...

Americans like the idea of promoting “democracy,” but prominent U.S. commentators praised the ouster of democratically elected leaders in Egypt and Ukraine, siding with military coup makers in Egypt and right-wing rioters in the streets of Ukraine. That suggests “democracy” is a malleable concept for many in Official Washington, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar observes.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/02/26/a-selective-view-of-democracy/

4:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sammy-

True, and that's been going on for a long time. Check out DAA, among other texts.

mb

4:48 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB and Wafers-

Many thanks to all of you for your research abilities regarding the Ukrainian crisis. What you guys have done, in a matter of hours, is more than the US media has done from the beginning. Further evidence that Wafers should run the world, yes?

Dr. Van Nostrand, MB-

Speaking of Shakespeare: "That all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish... green... ribbon."

Jeff

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Mark Angel said...

RE: Pierre Omidyar, Aljazeera, etc.

Thanks Frankistan. The same very people telling us what to think, who to hate, and who to love, are the same very people who created the suffering inside the US. They are the same people who invented the Moon and the Sun and helped to mangle everything under the Sun. Their mothers' soup is better than the soup of our mothers because they say so and believe so and act as if it is so. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds!

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

Sammy

http://www.alternet.org/story/39416/america%27s_100_years_of_overthrow

There's plenty of info on many websites.

The amazing thing is not that they do this, but that they get away with it while still trumpeting the word 'democracy'.

Didn't you notice how the Iraq invasion morphed from the hunt for (non-existent) WMD into 'freeing' the Iraqi people? 100, 000 Iraqis dead and free and no US politicos tried for war crimes. It's forking brilliant I say.

I tell you Goebbels was an amateur in comparison to the US.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous tamara said...

this here chick's pretty magnetized by you, doc b. [just a drive-by quickie but true-y] :)

5:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tamara-

Aw, shucks...

Wafers-

This whole set of events in the Ukraine brings to mind a theme I pursued in QOV--for the US, but it certainly applies to other countries as well: how little in control nations are of their behavior and their destiny, and how driven they are by unconscious programming of various sorts. How much grief the world wd have been spared, for example, if America were a mental patient and had an operation that lasered out the parts of its brain that corresponded to the myths of the endless frontier and American 'exceptionalism'. This is a theme I touch on in SSIG: the crucial importance of examining one's own narrative. Jimmy Carter tried to get Americans to do that, and was out on his ass toot sweet; writers like Ilan Pappe have tried to do that for Israel (he now lives in England); dissident, samizdat poets, for the USSR; and so on. There aren't many who talk about escaping The Matrix, and they aren't exactly celebrated as heroes. For the rest, it's like Freud's description of the structure of the mind: an iceberg, in which the huge, unconscious part--say, 90%--sits out of sight, under water, and drives the whole depressing game. It's no wonder that Joyce wrote that "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken."

BTW, I just read a beautiful novel which illustrates this on the individual level: "The Last Enchantments," by Charles Finch.

mb

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Personally, I wouldn't trust Dmitry Orlov as far as I could throw him.

To me, he seems to work on the naivety of Americans. He plainly understands the triggers that energize mainstream Americans, and consequently understands that the triggers of *dissident* Americans are likely to be the opposite, and so works on them.

Basically, he's a hardcore Russian propagandist that pretends to be a confused, moderate "individual" to spread a pro-Russian message.

Not, as a Brit, that I care that much either way - I'm dubious about the USA and Russia pretty much equally, and I doubt that either state (or my own country) has much to offer a Ukrainian nation that would be better off following its own instincts.

I do, however, feel that I have a duty to delineate the hidden thrust behind Orlov's bullshit faux-"neutral" blogposts.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Mikbeth said...

Wafers:

Apropos of nothing, I have stumbled across J. Bronowski's Ascent of Man: A Personal View on You Tube and I am struck by the quality of the program. It mostly stands up even after 40 years. I note that most episodes only have about 1,000 views which is pitifully small by You Tube standards.

Bronowski's Ascent was purportedly tracking the evolution of culture. There is in some sense an optimism in his characterization. He no doubt saw this evolution as progress. I can only imagine what he would have thought of what has clearly been a decent of man over the past 30 years.

It occurred to me that there should be a comparable program from the Wafer perspective with Prof. Berman strolling around various locations of the world explaining the demise of the United States and perhaps the globe.

If I had the money I would throw my money at that project. I have no delusions that it would experience a wide audience but it would certainly be worth doing.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mik-

B4 he died, Kurt Vonnegut did an interview w/Ted Koppel in wh/he described the US as "an ocean of garbage with a few islands of civilization in it." He was clearly the man for yr program, altho I'm willing to stand in if we can raise the $. 1st bit of evidence for US collapse I'd pt to, however, is Ted Koppel's haircut.

mb

9:45 PM  
Blogger G_Locke said...

You are all awesome! and so much fun and of course, so very very very true and real.

99% of US humans no longer act like human beings.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Adam Magid said...

Me fears me nose just might be permanently affixed to the restaurant glass. Talk about window pain.

Thanks for stretching me (though I wd also gladly accept the assist of some Cirque du Soleil rhythmic gymnast suffering from the economic downturn). Though I really have to work hard to visualize her as you and Bageant keep whispering in my ear.

12:14 PM  
Blogger GoldenTalon said...

Dr Berman,
Thank you for the Code. I have started to spread the word.
I hope you are enjoying Japan and Vietnam.
Very best regards from Down Under.
Jinho Choi

4:08 AM  

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