February 10, 2014

The Judith Regan Show

Shalom Waferim v'Waferot! (If anyone knows the Arabic male and female plurals of Wafer, let me know and I'll start with them next time. Shukran!)

I did this interview with Judith Regan over the phone (she's based in NY) on Saturday morning. It's 35 mins. long, and she's a very sincere interviewer. I was happy I managed to get in a reference to Kim's buttocks, but (sadly) not to deli meats. Maybe next time. Anyway, downloading it is a bit complicated. First, click on this, or put it in your browser:

https://www.hightail.com/dl?phi_action=app/orchestrateDownload&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.hightail.com%2Ftransfer.php%3Faction%3Dbatch_download%26send_id%3D2458848592%26email%3Ded907aebdc7a0a1d47dd050ebaaeaee5&s=19105&cid=tx-02002208350200000000

Then click on Download, then on Open. It should take about 7 mins. for the audio to come on. Enjoy!

mb

93 Comments:

OpenID atearinrain said...

Nice mb! Looking forward to listening to this interview. In regards to the Common Dreams article, any semi-functioning mind should be able to comprehend the psychological damage this is going to cause people, to name but one reason why it's a horrible idea. Yet it's happening lol. Honestly I don't even get scared anymore about how scary this country is getting, I just laugh at it.

Greg, great rebuttal. I would send it in. Like Megan said, if this is what NYT readers are thinking these days, one can only imagine what's going on in the heads of most Americans. I am "friends" with quite a few scumbags on Facebook for this very reason; it's so funny (well, sometimes quite sad) to read what these people post. And I know they are the majority because their posts get the most likes, whereas the few signs of intelligent life on fb are avoided like the plague.

Noah, I totally agree with your drug policy views, couldn't have said it better. And this is coming from someone who loved to indulge in the less-addictive substances (and still does on rare occasion).

Here's a nice piece of collapse-art. And not just this song—the entire Welcome Oblivion album is stellar.

http://vimeo.com/58637996

12:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tear-

Hope u enjoy it. Meanwhile, this is what I think Americans need to be focusing on:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/10/politics/monica-lewinsky/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

mb

12:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Drugs:

Can actually be quite mind-expanding, beneficial to one's consciousness. E.g.:

http://vimeo.com/44412867

Have a great trip!

mb

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Capo Sees Americans at work here. said...

Great interview MB!

Noah-you don't what to make choices for people--you just want to help them! Not making choices for them just taking away their right to choose and put em in a "facility" for their own good. It reminds me of we are not invading and killing them--we are liberating them and bringing them the fruits and wonders of democracy!! There is a uniquely american slant to this--rules, semantics and confidence in solutions to intractable problems.

A key and often overlooked aspect is that Europe in terms of both mindset and governance is run on principles. Not so in america--there are no principles--here are rules. You can see this as evident by the way people think as americans go for semantics and rules--no debtors prison but if you are found in contempt by court for not appearing for the lawsuit filed by a creditor you go to jail--in europe you don;t go to jail for debt, child support, unpaid traffic tickets and other debts period even if you call it green eggs and ham. In america you don;t take away the right to choose but rather you are helping then (even if by so doing you take away right to choose), in other places this is not operatve. In Europe, habituation of drug use is well seen as a health problem and by principle all people have access to health care. Simple. The Japanes have great approaches to the issue. Lot of great examples globally but you see for americans and their leaders to look to approaches to deal with say drug abuse outside the U.S. is verbotten-we have our own solutions man!!

I digress. the real question is why does the U.S. population use drugs to such an astounding extent--more so than any country especially when you include prescription pain killers? The so called solution proffered here is not only beside the point, has been tried repeatedly in the U.S. and has not and will no work. Its very american to blythly assert a solution to a complex and intractable social phenomenon with a straight face and confidence. Its a bit delusional as well. There is also the small part of the U.S. being effectively bankrupt and puratanical-drug "problem" will be dealt with as it always has--poor go to jail, rich go to treatment and many ovecome their habituation on their own.

So here we have the U.S. which with 5% of the worlds population has 70% of the lawyers and consumes 80% of pharmaceuticals. You have 3000 jurisdictions in the u.s. yearly making laws and ordinances. Americans do love to produce laws and find ways to skirt them too! Yep, rules gonna help! Further, there is the notion of addiction--again a uniquely american concept. Its not a settled matter and other places view (and some in U.S.) view this as a an issue of habituation as truly addiction concept not proven definitely.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo et al.-

Yes, clearly Americans tend to see things upside down, or not at all. Recently a high schl kid shot himself in class in Bend, Oregon. One father interviewed said: "Thank god for cell phones, so we cd reach our kids." There's no realization that the cell-phone society and all that implies is what's making Americans sick, so that they wanna opt out--the kids especially. A society that has substituted toys for meaning.

Similarly, the Bush Sr. approach to drugs--just say no--has been an abysmal failure, and again, this is a culture that drives one to drink; or shoot up. The sheer pain of America: what choice do Americans have? Get sicker and sicker from the culture; leave; or use drugs. Drugs are the symptom, in short, not the problem.

Finally, the desire to intervene in other people's lives because "we know best what's gd 4u"--this might be called psychic imperialism. It's essentially what we did in Vietnam, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Chile...there's really no end to it. Jimmy Carter said, "Maybe we shd start looking at ourselves." He didn't last very long.

mb

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Dear everybody,

I see that I've been missed, and I deeply appreciate the concern. It's been a patch of what writer James Hollis calls the swamplands of the soul -- I suddenly found that I didn't want to look at the news, the Internet, anything about the increasingly awful state of the culture, it felt like poison. If not the sickness unto death, at least unto nausea & disgust, as it hit me viscerally just how many people willfully choose ignorance, pettiness, etc. Yes, I'd known it intellectually; and perhaps I was protecting myself from full knowledge of it by keeping it intellectual. But I suddenly needed to withdraw, as a wounded animal crawls into a dark place to rest, heal, renew itself.

So I spent a lot of time outdoors in the local park, especially when it snowed & let me have the place to myself (along with my wife & a few deer). I listened to a lot of early 1970s soul music & Medieval polyphonic masses -- also soul music, come to think of it. I read poetry, classics -- I'm in the middle of Crèvecoeur's Letters From an American Farmer right now -- a lot about eco-psychology. I watched the birds in our backyard after I put out birdseed each morning -- blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, nuthatches, wrens, two kinds of woodpeckers!

And I gradually regained some much-needed perspective. Enough to enable me to see stuff like this from today's Dear Prudence column:

My child's school is full of competitive moms. As an example, one mom, upon hearing that another child was scored highest for reading in her son's class, confronted the teacher and asked about the girl's other scores and ranking in the class as a whole—so she could find something that her child "beat" this young lady at. These are kindergartners. I am not like this at all, and I don't want any part of it. I don't want to be friends with people who would treat their kids as some sort of win or lose scenario. A few of the offenders have asked to get coffee after drop off or such, and I've made excuses. I don't want to be a jerk, but I also don't want to hang out with jerks. If they keep asking can I tell them the truth about why I don't want to go, or should I keep saying I’m busy?

For some reason, this sort of insanity pained me even more than the huge, monstrously visible things done by those in power. But ain't nothing I can do about it, except avoid it & live like a real human being, to the best of my ability.

So I'll be stopping by every so often, and perhaps even feel like getting into some of the discussions again shortly. If nothing else, just to be reminded that there are other real human beings out there.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Dr B, you talk about "Americans tend to see things upside down". Well, read this one here: private interests vs. public interests

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/11/donna-jane-watts-lawsuit_n_4765179.html

11:33 AM  
Anonymous LW said...

MB,

You mentioned Global Trends 2025 in that interview. Well, Global trends 2030 is now available.

Check it out here, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/GlobalTrends_2030.pdf

12:39 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

The late master on the confluence of drugs and artistic inspiration:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8p39Z-KQJY

The late master on drugs in general:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFHU1X1PED4

On beyond psilocybin (if only to avoid the spelling):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4FaDMak-TQ

Attn: Maxwell, Jeff T, bowtiejack & any other John Ashcroft fans
At about 16 minutes in, you'll have it.
Stanhope is a Wafer...nearly 5 years before DAA,
he knew why they hate us and was telling audiences the truth.

The (so far) living American Dolly Llama on a variety of subjects:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kc3hhsd5JM

1:07 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Dr. Berman-

An absolutely fantastic interview with Judith Regan. The clarity and insight you provide here is simply off the charts! Particularly striking is your ability to frame these issues in a direct, no-nonsense way; very much like the approach you take in SSIG. I also felt that Judith was very *in tune* with you, open to your points of view, piquant and sharp in her takeaways from what you were describing. I really enjoyed it and, hopefully, you will be invited back for more interviews with her in the future. Thanks again for providing the link.

Jeff

3:08 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Megan and atearinrain - Thanks for the feedback. Sent the letter off earlier today (after editing it way down to try to come a bit closer to the submission guidelines). I know I’m being melodramatic, but that article had some kind of Kristallnacht feeling for me. I mean, I do realize that standard-bashing has been going on all over the place for a long time - but with an article like this, there’s no pretending that it’s just the usual thugs and dummies any more. Obviously, members of all classes of society have now joined in. And they’re not merely lowering our standards. They’re mercilessly beating them to a pulp and sending them off to be killed - right out there in the streets in full public view as others watch on and cheer and the “authorities” lead the way. A terrible analogy, I know, but it really did sicken me in that sort of way. It’s as if somehow the whole debate over whether or not standards have any value has been declared settled and closed - the answer is “no” - and now all that’s open for discussion any more is what’s the coolest, hippest-sounding way to do them off once and for all.

Good to hear your voice again here, Megan. And very true that most Americans are already way beyond feeling any pangs of conscience over rolling in excrement all day long and calling it pure gold. Hope whatever is keeping you busy is something good.

Dr. B - Enjoyed the interview. What really struck me was when you said something like how a superficial/fake culture drives people crazy because “they can’t live their real lives.” So easy to forget that it really does come down to just that. We’ve made it pretty darn near impossible to do the only thing worth doing, which is simply live our lives.

So should I jump on that $21 used WAF listed on your homepage (down from over $400!) or will your new edition be coming out soon enough? I'd much rather put the few bucks in your pocket than a random amazon dealer.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Sir Tagio wrote: "You might find Steve Ludlum's blog, Economic Undertow, very insightful and informative."

Sit T: I haven't checked the blog out but there are two good discussions between JHK and Ludlum (#249 & #227) here: http://kunstler.com/writings/podcast/

(Dr. Berman - you should be on the show once it returns.)

3:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

Hang in there. I'm hoping to have WAF pb edn up on Amazon by end of month.

Tim-

Great to have u back. Long overdue 4u to leave the US. It's a puke society, so naturally, u wanna puke. Amigo, por favor: hit the road!

mb

4:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

LW-

I did a quick skim; it seems fairly conventional, constructed w/in traditional parameters. This line made me blanch w/disbelief:

"Individual empowerment will accelerate owing to poverty reduction, growth of the global
middle class, greater educational attainment, widespread use of new communications and
manufacturing technologies, and health-care advances."

What is more likely is the *opposite* of all of this. This is just wishful thinking; fantasy.

mb

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

http://www.examiner.com/article/supermarket-shooting-arguing-over-storm-supplies-two-shot-at-ga-supermarket

This is a preview into the dystopian future of the U.S.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...

MB and Capo,

You've portrayed me as a psychic imperialist, and a mindless optimist regarding America's problems. Based on my previous posts, this is patently insane. Never have I declared *any* of America's bad deeds to be excusable, nor any of its problems to have a solution. In addition to this, I am generally a kind person.

This kind of response is a personal attack - the kind Morris's former friend subjected him to, or the kind that the trolls regularly indulge in. I am not a ruthless, bloody, egomaniacal totalitarian, regardless of what you think; in fact, I cannot imagine a greater insult than this insinuation that I am part of America's war machine on the psychological/cultural level.

And for what? Wanting drug users to enter compassionate drug rehab instead of killing themselves slowly with meth and heroine? Wanting, as I suggested, that they receive compassionate care, eat delicious food, and engage in fun activities instead of the forced labor and torture that American prisoners endure? And *this* makes me a totalitarian? *This* is similar to the American prison system?

Situations like saving people from drug addiction or suicide always require a measure of coercion, unless you're ok with people killing themselves. When someone you love is about to jump off a cliff and you say "Stop! I love you! Please don't do this!", you are using coercion, albeit well-intentioned coercion. The alternative is to do nothing, and then you would likely have the blood of a dead person on your hands. If you pulled him away from the cliff - an act of coercion - there's nothing wrong with that. This is completely different from the kind of coercion involved in genocide and mass torture, or from the kind of "regime change" for which America is infamous. You don't seem to understand the difference.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mr. Linden-

Whoa, muchacho! You definitely show aspects of psychic imperialism, but I never called u a mindless optimist, or said u excuse America's bad deeds (Capo can speak for himself on all this). I also don't know who this 'former friend' is that u.r. referring to. Nor did I call u "a ruthless, bloody, egomaniacal totalitarian." I ask u to cool it, amigo, and not to refer to anyone on this blog as 'insane', or indulge in this over-the-top kind of language and heated, self-righteous emotion. (Frankly, I think you *are* a puritan when it comes to drugs, and really don't grasp shades of different types of use. But that's beside the pt, and this is the 1st time I am mentioning it. It's no crime, in any case; just very mistaken.) You might wanna re-read what Capo wrote: it's very level-headed, imo, and doesn't deserve yr brand of rhetoric.

mb

6:12 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I had the luck to be driving behind this happy citizen today:

http://i.imgur.com/hlJsbAx.jpg

Only in America.

I think hes got some of that emotion stuff MB mentioned in the interview...

6:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

These people make me happy. In terms of national collapse, we can't have enuf of them, imo. Tho the Dems are doing a pretty gd demolition job as well, eh wot?

Kyle-

Ditto, for this sorta thing. Yes, we're gonna see a whole lot more of it.

mb

7:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mr. D-

A couple of problems w/yr post:

1. Too long. Limit yrself to half a page.

2. You ended it on a personal insult, wh/was gratuitous, and wh/we don't do on this blog.

As for Ireland, I suspect the Wafers will be able to have a nice time and enjoy themselves, regardless of yr own experience.

All the best-

mb

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Greg,

I'm glad you sent the letter in, but I hope you didn't pare it down too much, as it was perfect the way it was!

And yes, Americans are in no danger of being overwhelmed by the pangs of conscience these days--literary or otherwise. Indeed, the mere idea of conscience has already become rather quaint and obsolescent for the majority of our fellow citizens. So it was certainly unnecessary for someone to go and write an article absolving us from something that doesn't exist in the first place!

It is astonishing, though, how when decadence sets in, it literally infects the entire culture: No one gets out alive. You're right, I think, in seeing this article as a portentious indicator of where we're at. The only problem with your Kristallnacht metaphor, however, is that Kristallnacht was loud and violent and forced everyone to take sides; whereas for me, this article was more along the lines of T.S. Eliot's:

"This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

Still, good for you for pushing back a little. I do hope they publish your letter.

Dr. Berman,

Great interview, I really enjoyed it!



10:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

I don't know why, but I keep thinking about Monica Lewinsky. Rumor has it she has another bk in the works. Maybe I'm just jealous: as publishers tell my agent that my Japan bk won't make them piles of money, and therefore why shd they bother w/it, Monica will get a $12 million advance for pages and pages on oral sex in the Oval Office. Hey: It's America!

I also learned, courtesy of CNN, that after Monica did that interview w/Barbara Walters, wearing bright red lipstick, women went bonkers: that particular shade flew off the shelves in stores across the land. Now why wd that be? Wafers are invited to ponder this pithy question, and suggest possible answers.

Shd I co-author a bk w/Mon? ("The Geisha and the Intern: Oral Sex on a Bullet Train") That way, I know I'll get published.

Sigh.

mb

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Mr Berman, yes you should co-author the book with Lewinsky. Since sex gets people excited, let me get this from you.

This question has been messing with my mind:

Was the original sin of Adam and Eve about sex, and not about eating a piece of fruit?

Source:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081205061912AALBwdC

12:35 AM  
Anonymous AS said...

I look forward to listening to that interview. I wish Dr. B did more of them.

Some fun links:

Florida law prohibits homeless people from covering themselves with blankets:

http://rt.com/usa/florida-ban-blanket-homeless-611/

And while we're on the topic, "selfies" with the homeless is apparently the new thing:

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/selfies-with-the-homeless-a-new-shareable-low

North Carolina doctors exposed 18 patients to a severe brain disease after failing to properly sterilize their equipment:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nc-hospital-18-patients-may-have-been-exposed-to-brain-infection/

12:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

AS-

Yeah, the fundamental decency of America's youth. Also try googling 'steven baum party'.

Ed-

There is a very old Aramaic version in which they try to resist eating a pastrami sandwich, and fail.

mb

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Jerome Langguth said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers

Tim Lukeman,

It’s very nice to see you posting here again. I have enjoyed your contributions to the blog for their careful wisdom and humanity, and have added a few books to my collection thanks to you (a nice study of Thomas Merton comes to mind). I often feel the same way regarding the internet, news, and the decline of the culture in general. It can get hard to take. Reading this blog regularly provides me with some relief from that. Your soul music and bird watching regimen sounds about right to me also. As has been pointed out here before, there’s not much in today’s music and arts culture to help with troubles of the soul (not in the mainstream, anyway). And as a parent of a four year old, that story about the hyper-competitive parents of kindergartners hits close to home. We are truly lost in this country.

Dr. Berman

I look forward to listening to the interview. It is always a pleasure.

Jerome

6:49 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

The idea of MB taking on the Lewinsky legacy certainly should have appeal to many Wafers. Here is the potential opportunity to bring together many of the themes MB has written about in recent years of his Mexican refuge. A potential title could be:
"The Empire Goes Down: The Lewinsky Moment in the Final Flush of a Commodity Civilization"

10:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

BTW, the Regan interview link was set up by the studio to last only for 14 days. I did find it on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Kli6ERCfZU

However, I don't know if that will last past 14 days as well.

mb

10:29 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

Jack-

Nice title! That'll kick the American reading public in the ass 4 sure. Please allow me to make one suggestion:

A Club Monaco "Glaze" shade lipstick as a gift with purchase.

infanttyrone-

Thanks for the Stanhope video. He sure has a steam of consciousness mode in his comedy, yes?

Tim Lukeman-

It is good to hear from you again. Like many other Wafers, I too enjoy your posts, insight, and book suggestions. I also share your love of soul music from the early 1970s; mid to late 1960s as well. You know, there is a bit of a retro soul revival going on in music today. Check out these two contemporary artists:

1. Charles Bradley

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bbgHTdSPJ4

2. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ouI5KcyHfE

I hope you enjoy them and, as the late Don Cornelius usta say, "I wish you love, peace, and soul."

Jeff

12:18 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Now this is a beautiful metaphor!
Sinkhole collapses part of Corvette Museum in Ky.

Really enjoying your ExtraEnvironmentalist talk, Stagnation or Sustainability? Japan as a Post-Capitalist Model

Voluptuous asceticism - wonderful. I personally find clutter and density of stuff to be confining and depressing. I've noticed that most of our friends have incredibly cluttered, messy, disorganized homes. It's almost like they don't have the time or energy to worry about such things.

I'm going to make a big effort to simplify even more this year. It will make it easier to emigrate.

Heard some interesting music with a fellow WAFer on Sunday. The amazing singer/songwriter Ben Weaver, who sings haunting songs about nature,etc., told us a disturbing story of how he was biking around with his kids (probably pulling them in a burly, as I do), and a couple of guys in a fancy car harassed him verbally, then threw a cigarette in his face.

Once, passing yahoos threw a beer bottle at my head as I biked. My fellow WAFer also had a disturbing incident to relate of how he was harassed while biking.

Why do Americans hate people on bicycles so much?

4:27 PM  
Anonymous TM said...

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2014/02/bars_are_too_loud_and_caf_s_are_too_quiet_it_s_ruining_america.html

4:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

TM-

Gd essay, but revolution depends on the people in those bars and cafes actually having gray matter inside their heads. Oops! Not very likely anymore...

mb

5:47 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Megan - Yeah, Eliot’s version of how things will play out is probably more like it (and even creepier) because, unfortunately, stupidity doesn’t usually announce itself as blatantly as a Nazi pogrom (not that many people catch on even when it does). I guess that’s why we have to stay vigilant - and send our little letters to the editor, pathetic as that is.

Dr. B. - Hate to think what your observation about Lewinsky's marketability means for how you might have to alter your strategy if you ever do find yourself in position to pee on Obamba’s Guccis. But if you do, smile, take it like a man, and think of all the books you’ll sell!

Appropriate title for the book you might then pen together with Monica might be “America: Going Down”

6:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

There really is no end to potential titles, I suppose. "Getting A-Head with Monica," etc.

mb

8:45 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Pub:

Re: bikes. Yeah that is one reason I quit riding, people are bastards! I've had trash, full sodas, tools, hamburgers thrown at me. I've had drivers purposely try to run me over. 50% of the other bikers are just as bad, and don't even get me started on the douchebag runners who have all of a sudden decided to start running in the road ...

If I ever take it up again, it will be off road.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered you! I found a talk you did on New World Notes, in which you reference Chris Hedges AND Paul Auster. We are totally kindred spirits.

Lovely to find another voice in the wilderness.

Jeff Larsen
PS: Do you know Linh Dinh? He's a brilliant Vietnamese writer who is on a multi-year wayward path through American documenting what he sees. Just great stuff. It's located at http://linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com/

11:13 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Get a load of this article, 50 Reasons We're Living Through the Greatest Period in World History, by "the Motley Fool," an investment guru.

Here's an excerpt:
13. We are having a national discussion about whether a $7.25-per-hour minimum wage is too low. But even adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage was less than $4 per hour as recently as the late 1940s. The top 1% have captured most of the wage growth over the past three decades, but nearly everyone has grown richer -- much richer -- during the past seven decades.


The article is worth reading, just to see what the mode of thinking is of the techno-utopian "conservative" free-market types is.

It's hard to know which type is worse, the free-market "conservatives," or the progressive/liberal types who want to encourage endless growth also, but spread it around better.

I'd like to have some other WAFer's take on the linked article, or even Prof. Berman. Some of the statistics are probably fairly accurate. How does one argue against such largely quantitative arguments for our culture, and our culture's obsession with growth?

One possible counter-argument: even if we create a Brave New World Dystopia (or Utopia, depending on your view), the lives of the people living in this system might lack meaning, dignity, and freedom. Purely quantitative measures are inadequate, and the presuppositions of such economists is not correct. Human happiness and dignity and meaning cannot be improved by pure quantitative improvement in economic metrics. Such metrics leave much out.

It's a wasted argument, I know. But one has to at least analyze it for one's own sanity.

@JWO: I see, so it's not my imagination. Most Americans hate cyclists who reject car madness. I do notice that fellow cyclists have a nice camaraderie - we smile at each other knowingly, as though to say, "Nice to see someone else who isn't a lazy a-hole."

11:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Welcome to the blog. If u cd check in as Jeff Larsen in future, and not as Anonymous, that wd be gd. Take care,

mb

12:30 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

Pub...

I'll tell you one thing ... anytime there are articles like this and I comment to the point we take on this blog about the meaninglessness of "endless growth" or the opposite being "no way to live"... there is nothing but vitriol or negative responses...The US - "we are "exceptional" therefore we have this GOD GIVEN RIGHT to do as we please - so quit raining on our parade" type of thing... I kid you not... bringing these issues up (even with friends) is like peeing in someones cornflakes... they want my head on a platter... some friends, I know... these are mostly party aquaintances that endure ... not real friends in any depth I would discuss this type of topic at length...(they are like needles in a haystack - like this blog) they simply cannot handle it. I'm sure the good Professor has spoken of this many times. Liberals? Conservatives? makes no difference... they are Americans first and that is all that matters... going down with the ship so to speak... and there aren't any lifeboats. Go figure.

At least NJ has come to terms with it's state of consciousness...

http://news.yahoo.com/why-jersey-corrupt-104500949--politics.html

3:09 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Publius,

Thanks for the "Motley Fool" article. You know, in a time of extreme disaster, i.e., the realities of the world today, one can always count on utopians, in this case a capitalist one, to remind us of how *great* we all have it in the US.
It reminds me of the glorious and proud 1897 Diamond Jubilee parade in Britain to celebrate Queen Victoria and the British Empire just before... you guessed it... all hell broke loose during the Great War. What happened to progress then?

Aside from the data that depicts a perfect and a peaceful future emerging for us all, theories of progress are essentially myths, which answer the need for meaning more than anything else. The author is essentially pursuing a line of thought which depicts humanity advancing, inch by inch, in a process of improvement, a coherent narrative, so to speak. And nothing is more threatening to that than the messiness of history, a "meandering flux" as John Gray puts it, w/out purpose or direction.

Jeff

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

From Slate article- "Bars have gotten louder at least in part in response to research showing that louder music encourages patrons to talk less and drink more."

I wonder if they've done any research to ask if it causes people to abandon their bar and never come back...

***
I used to rely on a bike as my main transport, in a non-bike friendly city (Bham AL). And there were some contentious times sharing the road w/ drivers, but I gotta say I rarely if ever had anything *thrown* at me.. Maybe occasional teenagers yelling stuff, or honking, but not too often. Main problem was just the bias towards cars in the "urban planning" (such as it is.)

7:55 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Hey Publius, yeah Ben Weaver was great. I think I enjoyed the words between his songs even more; he is such a strange communicator. It's like he has a lot of thoughts bouncing around upstairs but has trouble translating them into words, something I can definitely relate to lol. What did he say, something like, "I often have this look on my face like there's something wrong. But... it's good." It was the way he said it, one of the funniest things I've heard this year so far. It was great hanging out with fellow Wafers, you and JWO, this past weekend. The meaningful real-life conversations I partake in are few and far between, and talking about our collective downward spiral is even more rare—not being able to talk about what's really important makes one feel crazy, as if I should really be living a robotic life like everyone else.

To paraphrase Dmitry Orlov, "In America, to not own a car is to be a non-person." Just ask the people of any country we've "liberated" since WWII, and they can tell you what it's like to be treated as a non-person by Americans. Americans cannot stand non-conformity, maybe because deep down they are jealous of people who have refused to become thoroughly domesticated. My bike story happened a year ago. The snow on the road sometimes forces bikers to temporarily move off the shoulder into a driving lane (which is legal, snow or not). I didn't dart out in front of the guy, he was just a speeder that caught up to me and couldn't wait 5 seconds without blowing his top. So he pulls up beside me, screams something like "I'll kick your f'ing ass!" Not one to turn down an offer to dance, I get off my bike and approach him. He screams "I'll blow your f'ing head off," and a couple seconds later floors it and flies through a red light. Pretty much what I expected, as most people I encounter are extremely fake.

Here's a nice story of a head-on collision between 2 a-holes. A cop enters someone's home unannounced (suffering from the epidemic 'I do what I want' syndrome), and the resident's first reaction is to shoot to kill.

http://www.hightimes.com/read/texas-pot-grower-who-killed-deputy-set-free

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Le Bossu de Notre Dame reports

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-doctor-found-guilty-of-waterboarding-his-11yearold-stepdaughter-9127343.html

3:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bossu-

I guess it was only a matter of time before US military tactics got imported into domestic family life. This really is the final phase of empire, the end of America as any type of 'civilization'. Check out a painting by Goya: "Saturno devorando su hijo." Hija in this case, but pt is the same. Basically, the nation has gone from the barbaric to the grotesque.

mb

3:34 AM  
Blogger Noe said...

this interview is in youtube:

https://www.youtube.comwatch?v=8Kli6ERCfZU

enjoy,

bye

8:09 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

"Voodoo Economics Revisited:
Perturbations in the Lewinsky Curve...Loa & Loa We Go"

Go ahead - watch Jayne prefigure Monica and try to think of "The Big Creep" as something other than a discharging milk bottle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqz6Y9aHGIQ

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

re: progress & growth

A few weeks ago the NY Times Sunday Review ran one of those articles that pop up from time to time, talking about the need to eliminate sleep via scientific wizardry because it "wastes time" & is "unproductive" -- one of our culture's mortal sins, of course.

I was reminded of how many times I've heard people express those very sentiments, how they've "wasted the day" & "weren't productive" -- even on days off from work! And from time to time, I ask them, "What were you supposed to produce? Why? What would happen if you were 'unproductive' anyway?"

The majority react indignantly, wondering aloud how I can be so obtuse & stupid -- isn't obvious that we need to be productive? That we can't waste time "doing nothing" & "indulging ourselves" to no good purpose? That's it's as necessary as breathing?

And that reminds me of Wally's complaint in My Dinner With Andre that he can't see the point of "simply being" without doing something productive ... which leads him to admit that inactivity makes him nervous, makes him aware of his mortality, makes him realize that so many of the "necessary" thing we do each day are mainly there to distract us from thinking about anything important.

Once in a rare while I'll ask the productivity question & someone will react after a puzzled pause, "You know, I never thought of that." But that doesn't happen very often. The idea that we have to be productive at all times is drilled into us from birth. And the productivity they're talking about has nothing to do with becoming a whole human being who actually thinks about things.

Wasn't it Edward Abbey who said that unrestrained growth is the philosophy of a cancer cell?

Jerome, Jeff, MB -- thanks for the kind words. It's nice to know that I was missed.

Film recommendation: Jerzy Stuhr's The Big Animal (2000). Lovely, poignant, thought-provoking.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Suggest they read "The Japanese Cult of Tranquility," by Karlfried Duerckheim. This will easily set off an anxiety attack.

It's fascinating that from the late 16C, an entire nation was programmed to be out of touch with reality.

mb

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

House of Cards Season 2 is up on Netflix now Morris, any idea as to when you will start watching it?

1:11 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Hello Tim

Welcome back, long time no see. You know I never thought of your questions about productivity. I think I will start asking people this.

Dr. B

I have a further question about plagiarism. I looked up what plagiarism was. It includes copying significant portions of the text even if one cites it.

The American empire is dying. Let's say one wants to preserve whole literary or scientific works by different authors so they're not lost after the collapse. Would I be plagiarizing if I did this based upon the rules of plagiarism and what plagiarism is? I am very confused. Am I taking the rule to literally?

Let's say one does quote a huge amount of text to help prove one's point and he cites it. If plagiarism's definition is to steal someone's work and present it as one's own and if one cites a the source how did he plagiarize?

2:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

You need permission from original publisher beyond something like 250 words. Usually there's a fee for this.

mb

2:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

I don't stream; actual disks will be available in 6 mos. Them's the breaks.

mb

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regiime said...

Hello Wafers,

I will do my best not to drive people nuts or make then angry or defensive!

Its interesting how to some extent here and in other places people like to say that the U.S. is not that different than other places and that europe has the same problems etc. NO. Its a difference in some aspects of degree and of kind. Americans are far stupider and very isolated. Consider small reality things--in spain most families have strong support systesm so unemployment and other issues do not weigh as heavily. Also, great health insurace and mass transit so you can have a life without a car, worrying about insurance. Is there stupidity in Spain--why yes but at least people have management to get some basics to make life a bit more bearable--in the U.S. nada. Too many examples to cite. And yes while living in the U.S. in a material sense is better than Rwanda it aint France by any means or interestingly even Russia.

More proof: http://www.breitbart.com/system/wire/6e49b254-fc12-4176-8ab6-c6146611c372

What is of interest besides cataloging the surfiet of evidence of american stupidity and cultural stagnation is the inflextion point in the rate of decay (a.k.a by MB as Suez moment). As a society is a complex system my obeservation from my vantage point is that in many domains the inflextion point has been reached. If you are a 20 year old living in Indiana or Kansas from a formerly middle class family--you are good and done. As is the case of many inner city dwellers, the alienation and depression along with mostly meaningless lives has spread from the inner cities to the middle class suberbs. Its becoming the norm.

Its interesting, it reminds me of decades ago while sitting around in the IDF I found the 11 volume set of toynbees of stady of histroy and read much of it while on guard duty. One key idea was that of the "proletarianization" of a nation/civilization in decline. I think that much of the stupidiy, corruption and coarsness of american life can wel be considered "proletarianization" and that this will only speed crisis and collapse. Yep, seems like ol Arnold was on to something. He of course had many thoughts and views verbotten to contemporary academics and social scientists--frankly most of them are really advocates for a political program (usually neo-libralism with some statist trinkets for themselves and others)

Be well all.



3:00 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Tim,

Great to hear from you again.

One of the signs of tuberculosis is a ‘productive’ cough.

And many serious diseases are ‘progressive’.

A normal animal body grows until no further growth is needed. Each cell grows by division until no further growth is needed. Each organ uses only the nutrients and oxygen it needs, and no more.

When cells and tissues begin unrestrained growth, it is called cancer.

A prescription for health and wellbeing:

“Sitting quietly doing nothing.
Spring comes.
The grass grows by itself.”

The following is Einstein’s advice to a troubled and despondent kindred spirit:

“Read no newspapers, try to find a few friends who think as you do, read the wonderful writers of earlier times, Kant, Goethe, Lessing, and the classics of other lands, and enjoy the natural beauties of Munich's surroundings.

Make believe all the time that you are living, so to speak, on Mars among alien creatures and blot out any deeper interest in the actions of those creatures.

Make friends with a few animals. Then you will become a cheerful man once more and nothing will be able to trouble you.”

Einstein closed his letter by saying what I now say to you: “I shake your hand in heartfelt comradeship.”

Cube,

I guess Thomas Cahill will have to change the title of one of his books to “How the Irish Plagiarized Civilization”.

David Rosen

3:02 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MN WAF-ers: I'll be at Brit's Pub for the Liverpool v Arsenal match if anyone wants to drink beer on Sunday at 10am and chat with crazed British ex-pats ... though the loudest Liverpool fan is from Ecuador for some reason. I know euro-sport is not every WAF-er's cup o' tea, but it helps me get through the winter!

All others: A nice cover story on Evgeny Morozov here:

http://www.cjr.org/cover_story/evgeny_vs_the_internet.php?page=all

-- signing off 'till Tuesday --

5:13 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

Noam Chomsky with some WAF-type analysis:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/14/noam-chomsky-zombies-are-the-new-indians-and-slaves-in-white-americas-collective-nightmare/

House of Cards creator and Robin Wright interviewed on NPR:

GREENE: ...but there do seem, Robin Wright, to be some moments where love doesn't feel transactional, where there's a real purity and vulnerability to it.

WRIGHT: I mean yes, absolutely. And if you're referring to Season 1, what was beautiful in what Beau wrote is how it came to the surface, how it started to emerge, the vulnerability. Which is at the end of the day, we're all human as venal... (LAUGHTER) as it can be and corrupt, they're still human underneath it all.

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/14/276782572/13-new-episodes-of-house-of-cards-available

I just knew it. Beneath their ruthless sociopathic exteriors beat vulnerable, loving hearts of pure gold.

Tim, glad to hear from you. Always enjoy reading your observations and hearing about what you're up to.

You too, Shep! Hope you're well.

DR, wonderful Einstein quote. Thanks.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous LW said...

MB,

I just received The Chymical Wedding from the library and I'm starting it tonight (decided to finally read it based on your suggestion).

In the meantime, I'm just going to leave this here. http://youtu.be/77rtyQf6Hwk

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Rush Limbaugh cited a news story today that reminded me of the sort of item somebody would post here -- a man called 911 because his wife was stuck in her jacket(?) and he couldn't unzip her. He was totally irate, yelled at the 911 operator. Fire dept came and freed the wife.

Limbaugh concluded the segment admitting that this was the sort of story that makes him wonder if it *is* possible to save the country. "Shades of Berman?" I thought, "from the Limbaughnator?"

The 911 recording was so amusing, the guy was so dead serious -- whenever I hear audio like that, it always makes me wonder why the talk shows don't call these dufuses up and get them to elaborate. They're such comedy gold. Would it only ruin it to know more of the story? I need to start a podcast that follows up on that sort of thing. "Tell me more, about how you couldn't unzip your wife's jacket... What sort of jacket was this? Seriously, my friend, were there extenuating circumstances or what?" But of course I won't do it. Sigh.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

What's shakin' MB and Wafers?

LW-

Hot damn! You hit a dumbshit gold mine with this video. I'm tellin' ya, I have never seen such a wuvable collection of douche bags in all my life. From the bottom of my heart, and on Valentine's Day, no less, I wuv 'em all! They are a glorious gift to America, one that keeps on giving: "Trump"!, "Muslim is not a religion", "I listen to Glenn Beck", "We're spendin' too much money on education", "uh, Fox News"! Even our lovely Michele makes an appearance. WOWZA me YOWZA! Simply divine, glorious in every conceivable way, I can't thank you enough!

Jeff

9:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

How can we get the shepster back? Every night I cry myself to sleep, thinking abt how the shepster left us, never to return. Say it isn't so, shepster! The Wafers cry out 4u!

LW-

Great video. These are my people, and I can only hope that they overflow the borders of SC and spread to the rest of the country. I love 'em. However, we also need something similar for progressives. There is a YouTube video of a guy interviewing women in front of the Women's Study Center at UCSB, and most of them don't even know what women's suffrage is; they think it means 'suffering'. But we need something broader: interviewing 'progressives' who will say how the US can be turned around, or how Obama really accomplished so much, or how Hillary is going to make a huge difference once she gets elected, etc. These people are just as dumb as the ones in this SC video, just in a different way.

mb

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

OMG! My upper middle-class JAP niece is starting college in South Carolina this coming August. I predict she'll last one semester. I mean how will she handle classmates who tell her that there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark?
Yes, not a trace of love on House of Cards. Even when the woman who was fired tell the other woman to touch her stomach to feel her baby, she says she intends to tell
lies to further her cause.
Finally, it's standardized test time in a few weeks. All year administrators tell teachers never to tell students to read a passage cold. Teachers must first provide background information, review any unfamiliar vocabulary and understand text features such as headings, diagrams, etc. In writing there is the writing process such as brainstorming, first draft, peer review, second draft and so on. But with standardized tests we violate all these things. Sometimes I feel like a capo at a concentration camp as I have to proctor these tests. I almost feel it would be justified if I was sent to the Hague for committing a crime against humanity.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

You're welcome.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/15/newser-earth-circles-sun/5508413/

10:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mo-

When I did the research for the Twilight bk, the figure was 29%. So now it's down to 25%. Maybe Americans are getting smarter?

Dan-

She just needs a post-it on bathrm mirror to get thru each day. May I suggest:

I AM SURROUNDED BY DEMENTED DOUCHE BAGS

Personally, I start each day by shouting,

DEGRADED AND DEBASED!

This applies to *all* Americans, not just those in S. Carolina.

mb

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

LW,

I’ll see your South Carolina and raise you my Ohio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY0M7IdNl7U

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

MB,

Fair use is much more complicated than a set number of words. The 300 words rule floating around was just a convention agreed among the major publishing houses in the past. There have been lawsuits over fewer words than that. Instead there are some fairly nebulous conditions that have to be met to be protected by fair use. Parody, for example, can use huge amounts of what it is making fun of.

Wikipedia on Fair Use

And about the "elitism" thing -- if you have ever had to listen to Rush Limbaugh for any length of time, that's his method of attacking anything and everything produced by science that might impede plutocratic rule. It's "elitism" for those scientists to discover any natural phenomena that might inspire or require new regulations that reduce profits or otherwise impinge on the rights of the wealthy to do what they please. After decades of the most popular talk-radio host ranting this to millions of people, it's not surprising that it has spread out into the wider culture.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

lryyfrumctrurnyBossu says

We've just read about the guy who waterboarded his child.

And now this...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/jeremiah-wright-found-not-guilty-over-beheading-of-son-who-he-believed-was-a-cpr-dummy-9130709.html

Yes Goya had it right in his Saturn painting.

R.D. Laing once said that certain mental illness was a direct result of living in an insane society.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

Well, last time I had to bother w/the Fair Use law, the limit was something like 250 words, and that was all there was to it. Of course, it was different if you quoted >2 lines of poetry or song; for wh/I still pay the perm costs. But I'm sure I'm outta date on the rest. I'm guessing it's easily dealt with, however.

Red-

Gd stuff. How wonderfully stupid Americans are, really. But we still need some interviews w/progressives, saying how it's all gonna be different etc.

mb

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Capo as Social Worker said...

Reach out to the Shepster---ahem Shepstress...

Martha Shepherd (shepherd2121@teleclipse.net)

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

I would like to share this 33 minute video interview with Karen Hudes (WorldBank whistleblower) because she makes several references to the fact that the US will go into a new Dark Age when the dollar collapses. She mentions it at several points in the interview, so it is worth watching the whole thing.

http://usawatchdog.com/united-states-currency-weak-and-about-to-crash-karen-hudes/

3:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

Thanks for link to Chomsky interview. Cd he be turning into a Wafer? Dare I hope? Meanwhile, the bk he recommends by Bruce Franklin, "War Stars," looks v. gd.

mb

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

On the first and 15th of the month Immanuel Wallerstein posts his semi-monthly commentary.

http://www.iwallerstein.com/commentaries/

This time it’s about our ‘exceptional’ nation’s leaders fretting about Europe’s failure to demonize Russia over happenings in the Ukraine. Their frustration was so eloquently stated by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland when she said, "Fuck the Europeans" – how statespersonly can you get? I guess what’s most important, however, is that she, like Hillary, broke the glass ceiling.

I have neither time nor space to comment on the Ukrainian situation, about which I know very little anyway, but Wallerstein makes the following comment about Victoria Nuland and what her presence in the government says about Obama:

“Let us take a look at who is Victoria Nuland. She is a surviving member of the neocon clique that surrounded George W. Bush, in whose government she served. Her husband, Robert Kagan, is one of the best-known ideologues of the neocon group. It is an interesting question what she is doing in such a key position in the Department of State of an Obama presidency. The least he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were supposed to do was to remove the neocons from such a role.”

One more failure of our nowhere-man president to do even the least that was expected of him. Try telling that to your ‘progressive’ friends.

Also, I remember back in the early 60’s when educators felt the need for a euphemism to replace words like feeble minded, idiot, imbecile, or moron. For a while the words ‘retarded’ and ‘exceptional’ vied for the honor – it’s a pity that retarded won out. I say that because the US is such an ‘exceptional’ nation with such exceptional leaders, and with such truly exceptional people.

David Rosen

10:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

Kagan is a real horror show, imo.
"Dangerous Nation" is a bk I've referred to in lectures, as a concept any decent person wd be ashamed of. Kagan, on the other hand, is proud of our record of obliterating others.

As for Nowhere Man: very few Dems were listening when, on the campaign trail in 2008, Ovomit praised Reagan for 'getting the nation going again'--completely misunderstanding what Jimmy was trying to do. What a (confused) piece of garbage the guy is.

mb

10:39 PM  
Blogger Listener said...

Well I did finally make it to Russia about two weeks ago. And I stayed for two days. It's not what I wanted but the circumstances were such that it wasn't going to work and I needed to leave. I could probably get another job there, but with the expense of getting another visa, and another flight, and the fact that I don't actually much like teaching anyway, that's unlikely.

Things are bad in the US, but I'm used to it. I mostly keep to myself and don't experience many of the things that are written about here, although I know they're quite real.

I don't want to discourage anyone from living abroad. It can be done, but it also can be difficult. It helps if you're not going alone, have some familiarity with the area, and if you don't already have significant financial reserves, your job is something other than teaching english.

11:53 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

DEGRADED AND DEBASED! That is awesome. I'm thinking about chewing on some fungus again. The last few times I did it were... not pretty. But I think my head is in a better place now.

Dovidel,
Thanks for the genius advice, I think I'm going to take it. Come to think of it, I think I already have been doing that stuff.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tear-

Fungus: sounds gd. I suggest in form of a sandwich, w/lettuce and mayo on whole wheat. Also, the fungus shd be hot. There's nothing more disgusting than cold, clammy fungus.

Listener-

I confess, when I've encouraged people to emigrate here on this blog or in public lectures, it was not the former USSR that I had in mind. I can't imagine that that wd be much of an improvement. Small town in Italy or Ireland, probably a better choice.

mb

3:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bossu-

Don't send messages to older posts; no one reads them. Thanks.

mb

4:07 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX4VU05YZl8

Dr. B

Kim Kardashian may pay you a visit in Mexico one day lol.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cube-

I wd of course be honored to have someone w/the cutting-edge intellect of Kim in my house, but my concern is how to get her rump thru my front door. Might have to tear down the house, start over.

Speaking of Mexico, amigos: you know, taking things for granted is a terrible thing. We all do it; it's quite natural; but the result is that we fail to notice how gd we've got it. But sometimes, down here, something happens that smacks me in the puss, and reminds me: WAKE UP, JACKASS! YR NOT LIVING AMONG THE SCUM OF THE EARTH ANY MORE! So, case in point. Not far from my house is a medium-size supermkt that sets up a tent w/a grill on weekends, for its customers. You go buy a steak or whatever, then take it out to the grill-guy (GG) and he charcoal broils it 4u. All this in the parking lot outside the store. Around the grill, the store has placed some armchairs, for customers to sit and wait while their food is getting done. So today I suddenly remembered the weekend grill thing, and drove up there, bought some chorizo and green onions, and went out to the grill. It's after 6 pm, and the GG says to me, "Se acabo!" (It's finished; we're closed.) I don't have very much (some families buy 40 kgs of meat), so I say, "No puede asar esto para mi?" (Can't u roast this for me?) He shrugs, gestures for me to put my little package down on his table. I sit in one of the chairs, thinking that in the US, there probably wdn't be a grill service outside of a supermkt, and if there were a GG, and time had run out, he'd tell me Tough Luck, Asshole. Anyway, I sit, watch other folks waiting for their orders, teenagers hanging out; the store has set up a radio playing popular Mexican music (corny stuff, but OK; I can't live w/o u, etc.). I tell myself it's gd to slow down; that's why I came to Mexico, after all; you can wait 30 mins. for yr sausage, chico, no big deal. And finally, it's ready, done to perfection, with the blackened green onions. I drop a coin in the tip jar, sit back down in my chair, and start to munch on my chorizo and onions. To my left is a family that is working its way thru dinner as well. The father brought his own tortillas, tossed them on the grill. He comes up to me: "Quiere tortillas?" Oh, I say, caught out, Si, muy amable; solo una. I start thinking abt Robt Putnam and his concept of 'social capital', and how these minute, friendly gestures make a society what it is. He documents that social capital has collapsed by something like 75% in the US during 1965-2000. And I couldn't imagine, sitting there, an American making a similar gesture; everything is me, myself, and I. A guy comes out of the supermkt--he's abt 50--walks by me, says Buen Provecho! (bon appetit); more social capital. A teenager comes up to me, wants to know if the GG is coming back. "No, se acabo," I tell him. I toss a piece of sausage to a dog, patiently waiting on me at a distance of 10 meters. The father comes back: Otra tortilla? He hands me another. Ay, muy amable!Then he and his wife and kids get in their car, and wave to me as they pull out of the parking lot.

This is abt as un-American as u can get, I'm thinking abt the entire scene, as I walk to my own car. No way I can imagine the angry, selfish, narcissistic denizens north of the border behaving this way. "We're No. 1!", they chant, meanwhile: yeah, No. 1 in assholishness; in a degraded, stupid. antisocial way of life.

I need reminders like this every so often. Otherwise, I tend to forget what I escaped.

mb

8:17 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Just watched the first episode of the new season of the Spacey version of House of Cards... I liked it, but holy shit have they stepped it up. Absolutely ruthless.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

mb, i do think that Noam has become a wafer. It's hard to imagine any serious political resistance after the abject failure of OWS. DAA is the cutting edge. Inexplicably, very few people seem to be aware of this fact.

Franklin's War Stars looks good to me, too, as well as his book Mythmaking in America on how the Vietnam War was rewritten and repackaged by right-wing propagandists for the United States of Amnesia.

Thanks for the Mexico supermarket story. It made me recall the first of many visits to Mexico. When I flew into the Mexico City airport I was a bit disoriented. A young Mexican noticed and asked if he could help guide me to my destination. I gave him the name of the hotel I was heading to and he not only showed me to the subway but rode with me all the way to my stop and then walked me to the hotel. All the time I was thinking (being used to Americans) "What the hell is this guy up to?"

When we got to the hotel I pulled out my wallet to give him money for his help but he insisted emphatically that he wouldn't dream of being paid. This I found was common behavior time after time on my many trips around the country, from the small towns to the larger cities. The courtesy and warmth of so many people astonished me all the more, given the treatment that they've received by the US.

I've just been re-reading JMG Le Clezio's The Mexican Dream: Or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations. No escape for me any time soon, but dreaming really does improve my mood.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

I've had that experience as well, of just asking where something is and then, the guy takes you there! This happens all the time in supermarkets: Can you tell me where X is? The clerk then proceeds to drop whatever s/he is doing and walk you to it, wherever it is. I remember one time, in a market in DC, asking a cashier where the mustard was, and she just waved her arm vaguely in the direction of the rest of the store (very helpful). I stopped and looked right at her, squarely in the eyes: "You don't care, right? If another store offered you 50 cents more an hour, you'd be gone overnight, wouldn't you?" She stared at me; not much to say, since I was rt, and since she didn't give a fuck abt the store or the customers or have any notion of what courtesy or service meant. I'm telling you, Americans are simply awful human beings, and when you live elsewhere, the nation and its people are thrown into sharp relief.

mb

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dr. Berman,

Your anecdote about the supermarket is delightful, and Robert Putnam is no doubt right in talking about the decline of "social capital." Nevertheless, the fact that we see it in terms of "capital" at all, is, well, just so quintessentially American! I prefer to just think of it as being kind, generous, and human. If things were simply the way they should be, we would never even have the space in our minds that allows us to say (for example, when the man gave you the tortilla), "Ah, social capital". No, we would merely see it as an example of "what one does", and that would be enough. But, alas, America has left it's mark on all of us. (Hopefully this observation is not completely lacking in "cash-value", as the good Mr. James would say!)

10:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Megan-

Actually, I thought of 'social capital' a while after he gave me the tortilla, not at that moment; but yr pt is well taken. Guides for dating and romance, e.g., talking abt 'investing' one's emotions. And yes, philosophical pragmatism, American style, talks abt the 'cash value' of ideas. So it's either the stock mkt or baseball metaphors, I suppose (Last night I got to 2nd base w/her, etc.). Anyway, if yr an American, it's hard to see decent behavior as just 'what one does', since in the US, one doesn't do it!

mb

11:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, there's this:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/16/justice/craigslist-thrill-killing-confession/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Life in America doesn't offer very much; do ya think she might have been bored?

4:51 AM  
Anonymous bossu said...

Bossu...


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/snakehandling-pastor-dies-after-refusing-treatment-for-bite-9133265.html

We've spoken about this dangerously lunatic society, parents waterboarding children and so on.

The lunacy is no mere metaphor, as the pastor could have testified. The madness of the US is exported unfortunately, in endless wars and drone attacks.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/civilians-are-dying-campaigners-are-being-kidnapped-the-world-cannot-turn-a-blind-eye-to-americas-drone-attacks-in-pakistan-9132184.html

When the US collapses by devouring itself, I fear some kind of global violence.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Folks, I recommend this article for insight into the Wall Street mind set by an insider (an addict to money and Wall Streetism who has recovered):

"For the Love of Money," by Sam Polk, at

www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/opinion/sunday/for-the-love-of-money.html?_r=0

I'd be interested in seeing how Wafers assess the extent to which this ex-addict to the pornography of Wall Street can be said to have recovered.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

While Salon is hardly to be taken seriously these days, I found this article interesting:

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/16/youre_making_your_depression_worse_self_help_is_bringing_us_down/

If you read the comments, most of them argue about the causes/sources of depression -- biochemical? diet? upbringing? -- but only a couple mention the possibility that living in a fucked-up culture just might have something to do with it.

In the 1960s/70s, there were whole schools of psychology that looked at emotional problems, mental illness, etc., as reactions to a sick society. Then the change began, making everything personal -- bad chemistry, not enough willpower, self-indulgence. In short, the ultra-individualistic approach that said you're on your own, you're solely responsible for your lot in life, outside factors beyond your control have nothing to do with it. "A war of each against all," isn't that the phrase?

So we have the culture discussed here in recent posts, where nobody gives a damn about anyone else, because ME! ME! ME! is all that matters, all that exists. Why help someone else? That's just cutting your own throat in the zero-sum game of American life.

Funny, we used to fear atomic destruction. Now the destruction is the atomization of society & of people.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Seeking Sanity said...

Nice story about the "Satanic" female serial killer. You can bet all the folks selling Jesus will use this one to help boost their sales and increase fear in their flocks. It's just the kind of distraction the more proudly ignorant and righteous US denizens need about now as they are getting fully raped by the socioeconomic system they would fight to the death to defend.

On a side note, the captcha I just entered had the number sequence of 666 in it. Coincidence? I think not!

11:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Check out my next post.

mb

12:43 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@JWO & Tear: great meeting and hanging out with both of you recently! It's hard for me to get away on Saturday or Sunday late mornings, due to family activities, etc. But I will get to Brit's eventually!

@Prof. Berman, regarding your supermarket experience: that reminds me of an old memory of mine, being in Scandinavia on the train, on the way to visit my relatives. A kindly Swede noticed me, probably looking befuddled, and asked if I needed help or was lost. He helped me figure out my station changes and got me oriented. I remember remarking the oddity of that at the time... Even in France the last time I was there, people were much more human and helpful. The owner of a little bar/bistro took a liking to me, and even held a little dinner in my honor before I left. She was a woman, and my wife was a bit... shall we say jealous? But still, true generosity. There was just more to social interaction other than getting ahead or money.

Here, social networking is almost exclusively about getting ahead. What can one gain from the new acquaintance? Thus, since I am pretty low on the totem pole at my current company, I am not very sought out as someone to "hang" with. But that suits me.

My mom confessed this weekend that she had voted for Romney. To give her credit, she correctly diagnosed that Obama is a contentless tool of power. I had to point out to her, though, that Romney's unfettered capitalism ideology really sucks, too. She acceded to that.

I see that under the Medicaid option of Obamacare, most states can go after your house and property after you die, to recoup their costs. So... socialized medicine paid for by the most indigent. You have to give the Democrats credit for being even more creative in the exploitation of the poor than the Republicans, who are just too obvious!
I just gotta get out of this country! Our northern Midwestern state is just too full of progressive fools to ever consider secession.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Patricia Pentagon said...

From the Beatles album "Let It Be"
Released 07 May 1970

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEb4ZVa46PU#t=110

2:05 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Wafers!

I know we're special, being early warning observers of the fall of empire, but other people are starting to notice this thing is going in the toilet:

Exclusive Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State
http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

6:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bowtie-

Gd essay, but pls post it on the current post. No one reads the old ones, as far as I can make out.

Thanks,
mb

7:52 PM  

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