October 11, 2020

Sitcom Nation

Some time ago, on this blog, I mentioned the fact that a second screening of the popular sitcom Friendsrevealed to me something I had not noticed the first time around: a good bit of the humor is derived from the characters ridiculing or poking fun at one another. The “Chandler” character (played by Matthew Perry), for example, delivers a running stream of banter along these lines; he in turn is the butt of endless gay or homophobic jokes. A similar pattern can be seen in Seinfeld, and I have to admit that, notwithstanding all this, I enjoyed both of these sitcoms very much. Indeed, on first take the two of them struck me as being hysterically funny. Second time around, I realized that both of them had an “undertow” or shadow, and that it was actually rather ugly.

Possibly the worst example of this underlies the enormously popular series,The Big Bang Theory, about a group of nerdy physicists and their convoluted relations with the gorgeous blond who lives across the hall (played by Kaley Cuoco), as well as with two other women. This too is a hilarious portrayal of the ups and downs of their lives together, but once again, the shadow is pretty dark. In this case, the ridicule often amounts to brutal verbal attacks on each other, to the point of cruel humiliation. “Howard Wolowitz” (played by Simon Helberg) is a frequent target here, singled out for his height (short), his overattachment to his mother, the fact that he lost his virginity to his (second) cousin, and the fact that he never obtained a Ph.D., but is “only” an engineer from MIT. All of this is very wounding to him; the other boys find it amusing. Howard, for his part, spends a lot of time making fun of the Indian member of the group, “Raj” (Kunal Nayyar). And this pattern is operative with all of the characters, as the episodes progress. As I watched the show the second time around, I was filled with pain and anger on behalf of the victims, and I finally realized why: this was my experience of elementary school, high school, and even university and beyond.

What chance did I have, in an American context, really? At age 7 I was playing chess and reading poetry. As a teenager, I thought the concerns of my peer group—e.g., cars and their “groovy” tail fins—were pretty stupid, light years from anything I regarded as meaningful or worthwhile. As for university, Cornell was once characterized by an icon of a shoe stepping on someone’s face, with the prevailing ethos identified as “one-upsmanship.” In all 3 contexts, nasty put-downs were the order of the day. Nor am I proud of the fact that on occasion, I was the aggressor, being caught up in the soup of sadism we all floated in. Things were not much different when it came to the various jobs I held over the years, both academic and non. (I recall, when I was an Assistant Professor at Rutgers, one of the graduate students remarking, “Around here, they go for the jugular.” Where don’t they? one might reply.)

What my own experience—and probably yours as well—demonstrates, along with these 3 sitcoms, is the deep pathology of daily American life, which Americans barely notice and take for granted. It’s part of the air we breathe. This vicious treatment of other people is pretty much the norm in America, some version of Lord of the Flies. You can read the ultimate outcome of our early child, teen, and young adult cultural indoctrination in the daily papers: we hate each other, and we kill each other, often over nothing at all. Massacres occur now practically on a daily basis. One article I referred to in the last post tells of policemen beating porcupines to death with their night sticks, and finding it hilarious. Why would they do such a depraved, awful thing? Because such behavior is practically in our DNA; it’s how we relate to each other, the world (the torture of innocents, for example, or dropping atomic bombs on civilian populations), and even the animal kingdom. Time to stop blaming the top 1% for our problems, I would think, let alone China or Russia or Islam or god knows who else (as Jimmy Carter declared in his 1979 Annapolis speech, to which Americans turned a deaf ear). The truth is that the entire culture is sick beyond description, and really, beyond redemption. There is a deep poison in the American soul, and no conceivable way to remove it. Think of the many countries that will be happy (openly or in secret) when the nation finally self-destructs. Which event, given who we are, would seem to be inevitable.

-mb

139 Comments:

Anonymous Andalusian Musician said...

https://21stcenturywire.com/2019/08/12/americas-forgotten-nuclear-disaster-church-rock-still-poisoning-navajo-tribe-40-years-later/

I am not certain Mr. Berman if you heard of Church Rock Uranium Spill. It occured on July 16, 1979. The same year as Three Mile Island. It is far worse than Three Mile Island, only Chernobyl and Fukushima are worse in terms of radioactivity release. And few know about it. It never got the coverage of other nuclear disasters. This is the sad example of indifference to others in US. And some Americans are shocked when US supports Nazi in Kiyv. I am sad at what become of my home, Ukraine, and I am angry at America. Interestingly enough the Church Rock disaster happened the day after the speech Spiritual Malaise given by Jimmy Carter.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Andalus-

And exactly 34 yrs after the Trinity test in New Mexico.

Check out essay called "My Russia" in AWTY.

mb

11:20 PM  
Blogger NeilW said...

Morris, do you ever feel like Mr Sure, Not? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVyRkl5qNb8

12:25 AM  
Blogger Jason Tower said...

Dr. Berman- excellent analysis of American TV. I noticed the same traits when I rewatched some episodes of "Cheers". The characters constantly demean each other and show no loyalty or empathy. The two characters with some curiosity and intellectual activity (Diane and Frasier)are mocked the most.
It's strange and sad that Americans see stupidity and ignorance as "authentic", and they for some reason feel threatened by anyone with curiosity and actual knowledge. I remember in 2004 when presidential candidate John Kerry was mocked for knowing how to speak French. Of course his opponent, who could barely speak one language, won.

https://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/03/news/globalist-the-republicans-barbjohn-kerry-looks-french.html

3:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jason-

Note also that the "Ross" character on "Friends," who is the only member of the group with intellectual interests, is ridiculed for this.

Neil-

A film for our times.

mb

5:32 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

A little while ago I had a job where sometimes a mailman would need to take a pile of packages from by the front door. One time he dropped a couple and couldn't get them all. So I picked up the dropped ones and the last few left and walked out to his truck with him. Took maybe 45 seconds. When I came back inside, the owner and a coworker were staring at me. After a few seconds, one looked at the other and said, 'he's one of those nice people, isn't he?' 'Yep...' And they walked away.

I was in my early 20s when Reagan was elected. A few of us went to a roadhouse down by the river and stared at the table in shock over some beers. While a few people were over by the TV happy as could be. Unlike most of my contemporaries, I lost all hope that night. The weight of tens of millions voting for what Reagan represented and what he was going to bring about could not be ignored.

And here we are, with Reagan the Second bloviating hourly.

Crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head, or find little pleasures and savor them while I can. Like this version of a song first done by Nina Simone; listen as if sung by an adult, not a 10 year old, if you can...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8kAL-sGJx8

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Fleishman said...

Overwhelmed White Nationalist Militia Spread Way Too Thin Plotting Attacks Against Everyone Trump Wants

https://www.theonion.com/overwhelmed-white-nationalist-militia-spread-way-too-th-1845326351/

There's only so many hours in the day

7:40 AM  
Blogger vsoguy said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Interesting analysis of American sitcoms. What you describe in these TV shows is essentially bullying, which appears to be a key feature of the American culture on both sides of the political scene. The left is bullying people on race, gender and sexual preference. And the right has elected the ultimate bully into the oval office. It occurs to me that this may be the result of hustling and trying to get a leg-up on the other guy at any cost.

And if the sitcoms are bad, the dramas must be worse, as outlined by Derrick Jensen in this video:

https://youtu.be/_fN_TTApN5w

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Cornish said...

Two new books on Machiavelli reviewed https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/10/22/machiavelli-whatever-it-takes/

I really liked MB's thoughts on Machiavelli in Genio

10:03 AM  
Blogger cmaith said...

Bullying is a topic of interest to me having worked in children's mental health for many years and seeing the impact on kids who were victims of relentless bullying - with no help from schools.

https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/WP%202018-11.pdf

This is a report on bullying from an international perspective. Interesting that the countries with the lowest rates are Tajikstan, Spain, Italy, Chile, South Korea, Macedonia, Sweden, Cuba, Barbados, and Armenia. The highest rates are in South Africa, Botswana, Columbia, Egypt, Thailand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Ghana, Vanatu, Zambia, and Ghana. The U.S. is somewhere in between, but social exclusion, ridicule and verbal threats are normalized and accepted here.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

Jason,

Americans are indeed anti-intellectual. They confuse brilliance with arrogance. They venerate trashy celebrities. They are addicted to guns and cell phones. They know nothing about the world or its history. They can't understand ethics. And despite all this, they think *very* highly of themselves. It's pretty hilarious when you think about it.

Dr. B,

Tulsi is the sort of person who, while well-meaning, can only learn from personal experience. She believed America's wars were moral until she was deployed and saw the truth with her own eyes. She believes America can be saved, and will continue to have faith until she sees America collapse. I often feel rather sorry for her.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nadine-

How to explain Tulsi's belief that she had a serious shot at the Dem. nomination for the presidency? Brain damage, is all I can think of. She also more or less approved of torture, and the "war on terror." If there is a god, someday he will arrange for me to pee on her shoes on nationwide TV, and make her wear a sign around her neck, a la Nathaniel Hawthorne, that says I AM A DOUCHE BAG.

Cornish-

I have a habit of never looking back. In other words, once I finish a book, I very rarely reread it, and almost never follow up on subsequent research on the topic. As far as I know, no other student of Mach advanced the thesis I did, about ego vs. decency; but as I haven't read the bios of Mach that were published after "Genio," I cd be wrong. He will be the subject of endless fascination, however; that's for sure.

mb

1:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Speaking of treating people like dirt:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/black-man-led-mounted-police-bound-rope-sues/story?id=73542371

mb

1:22 PM  
Blogger James Miles said...

MB - Thank you for this post. I have recently been becoming aware of this cruelty in humor, both in myself and in the culture around me. I view the U.S. as Ancient Greece on steroids, as I understand it competition and being a "hero" was in their DNA. So it seems to me our culture has taken this to a real sadistic level.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

James-

Another way to put it: America, and Americans, hate life.

mb

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

Dr. B,

I researched what you said, and you're right...I was badly misinformed. Tulsi Gabbard is a horrible human being. I don't expect you to post this, as I know about the 24 hour rule. I'm just letting you know personally that I did my research...wow, was i misinformed by Tulsi's supporters.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

I remember commenting a few years ago something to the effect regarding humor in pop culture. As I recall you had suggested that Seinfeld was great as a sort of inside joke - ultimately it takes a swipe at the vapidity of American 'culture' and the folks who truly loved it... we'll the joke was on them. I wouldn't argue to the contrary I suppose. Though I remember at the time (90s) struggling to get into it as so many were. To me it just seemed mean - not genuinely humorous unless a bunch of 'friends' cutting each other down was funny... I never watched enough of Friends to form an opinion. The idea idea that 6 (?) people semi-employed in a coffee house, as buskers, or whatever could afford a lush apartment in Manhattan seemed a bit of a stretch...

It's instructive to contrast these shows with something from an earlier time. I believe I mentioned seeing an episode of Andy Griffith in which they went camping with a bunch of kids - Barney Fife bragging about his wilderness skills (actually non-existent); they get lost and it's up to Andy (with Jim Nabors' help) to leave clues so they find their way back, all the while in a way that preserves Barney's sense of self-worth. All humorously done. But above all I think Andy says to 'Gomer' something like 'we have to do it this way so Barney doesn't feel bad or look like a fool'. Imagine that nowadays. A reboot would require hurling Don Knotts off a cliff, naked and then laughing at him endlessly... so it goes...

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Leah said...

“driving it all, widespread spiritual poverty” https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/12/western-worldyour-civilisation-killing-life-on-earth-indigenous-amazon-planet

This is my message to the western world – your civilisation is killing life on Earth

3:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Leah-

Only Wafers and Native Americans want a truly different socioeconomic regime, one not based on competition, hustling, consumerism, and vulgarity. Both Dems and GOP want the latter; there is no substantive difference between them. The 'opposition' game that 99+% of the American public is absorbed in is little more than theater.

Vida-

The final episode of Seinfeld was written by Larry David, in which he presents his dark, and accurate, vision of American 'life'. At one pt "Jackie Chiles" (read: Johnnie Cochran)(played by Phil Morris) tells Jerry: "You don't hafta help anybody. That's what this country is all about." Do you realize how many Americans need to be slapped?

Nadine-

In addition to all that, the woman's idea of rallying her supporters was to issue a workout tape; also to tell them to believe in god. She's not only a doofus; she's trash. Here's what I propose: you and I, and any other Wafers who want to join us, fly to Oahu and eat a large meal. Then we track her down, and (projectile) vomit on her head. Whaddya say?

Vince-

Cdn't run it. We have a rule on this blog: no more than half a page, max. Thank you.

mb

3:56 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Dr. Berman,
What better way for America to celebrate hustling than for two of them to be awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. In this respective case, it’s for craftily performing auctions, an adroit form of hustling. And when you think of it, the Nobel Prize itself—an original pristine one formed to give out humanitarian awards like peace, literature, physics, chemistry, and medicine or physiology—has itself been tainted by awarding a prize for money and maximizing profit.
https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-science-massachusetts-nobel-prizes-archive-3e2cbe8c2ee8c8bb83783120c16de9e6

p.s. I am proud to say that I for one never have watched a single episode of Seinfeld.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

Only Wafers and Native Americans understand that a different way of life is possible. Also have a look at the 2nd story in "The Heart of the Matter." In any case, neither we, nor they, will receive a Nobel Prize. As for Seinfeld: check out the final episode.

mb

4:57 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

There's no getting around it. Americans respect viciousness on a primate level.

"Land of the Free, Home of the Ape".

The degree of bullying I saw in the American public school system was incredible. From faculty on downward, violence was endemic. My wife, who's from Stockholm, still can't believe that the Florida public school system allowed corporal punishment as a routine disciplinary measure when I was a kid.

Fuck up once, and you ended up in the principal's office bent over a desk getting paddled hard in some twisted sado-masochist ritual. The principal even named his paddle "Ol' Woody". Paging Dr. Freud.

My father sent me to a boxing gym during the summer between my 10th and 11th grade years. Upon returning to the American public zoo system for 11th grade, the landscape changed significantly for me after I smacked a former bully in the back of the head during "Home Economics" class. I got a mild suspension (no paddling..LOL), but was left alone for the remaining 2 years. Well worth it.

No surprise here:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-in-antidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624

5:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Louis-

Barbarism as a norm. We swim in an ocean of cruelty.

mb

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Wandrin' Ghost said...

"What if Local and Diverse Is Better Than Networked and Global?"

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/world/australia/norberg-hodge-local-organic-australia.html

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Art Baker said...

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/celebrities-using-bikini-pics-to-encourage-vote-registration-194339878.html

Recall that ONE HUNDRED MILLION 'mur'kans do NOT
bother to vote. Flesh to arouse their patriotism?

TV was at its best in the 50s, no doubt because
of all the truly talent Jews who were not on the
black list. The only memorable show after those
happy days (true source of MAGA) was "Kojak" where
'mur'ka was portrayed as having just three classes
of persons: cops, criminal, and victims. Has
much changed since then?

7:45 PM  
Blogger andreas said...

What depresses me about the ugliness and stupidity of any American contemporary film or TV, is that is was not always so. Once we produced beautiful, interesting and soulful movies (Like "Out of the Past" 1947, or a host of others) - the classics of American culture that have endured. We even produced good TV once.

9:12 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

MB - You brought up some bad memories for me for sure. My mom, a good Lithuanian Tatar, tried to be as American as possible and left Lit. T. circles in Pasadena and caught herself a WASP guy. We kids were gonna be raised as WASPS. And that meant endless bickering, backstabbing, one-upmanship, etc. Endless put-downs. I grew up not knowing how to start a conversation other than by bitterly complaining or slandering someone. It's only relatively recently I've learned to hold nice conversations - generally not with white people because they hate those, but with the various Asian, Black, etc people I run into day to day. And they seem to have families that get along and work together, it's amazing. My local Buddhist temple is just a bunch of nice people getting together and doing things, and the kind of politics you hear about happening in WASP churches is just absent. As always, gotta get away from the Anglosphere...

Meanwhile, we're looking forward(?) to this: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/09/kyle-rittenhouse-trump-own-the-libs-kill-the-libs.html

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Luther said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/books/review-knowledge-machine-irrationality-created-modern-science-michael-strevens.html

How Irrationality Created Modern Science

This looks very interesting, MB the historian of science in u might find some good in this ^^

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Overdose deaths from cocaine are rising dramatically in the United States. "After a period of stability, cocaine-induced deaths rose by about 27% per year, on average, from 2013 through 2018, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said."

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-10-07/overdose-deaths-from-cocaine-rising-dramatically

9:40 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Anya Jenkins, a thousand year old true believer ex-demon with rabbit phobia, explains the US of A. Anya’s first appearance on the series was granting a wish that created a dark alternate universe.

Perhaps not a show for every Wafer. Nonetheless, there are many good bits. For example, the first episode establishes that at their school (later revealed to be on top of the Hellmouth) one hardly ever encounters a student of Mr. Chomsky. Also, Giles, Buffy’s Watcher and School Librarian, gives a heartfelt argument for the importance of physical books and concisely explains the problem of technologically driven education. While there is a lot of gratuitous violence, there is also a core kindness that is missing from much American television. At any rate, on the chance that other Wafers have watched and enjoyed this TV series, I’d like to recommend the following book: The Existential Joss Whedon: Evil and Human Freedom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity (2006) — “This study examines the major works of contemporary American television and film screenwriter Joss Whedon. The authors argue that these works are part of an existentialist tradition that stretches back from the French atheistic existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, through the Danish Christian existentialist Søren Kierkegaard, to the Russian novelist and existentialist Fyodor Dostoevsky. Whedon and Dostoevsky, for example, seem preoccupied with the problem of evil and human freedom. Both argue that in each and every one of us ‘a demon lies hidden.’”

10:54 PM  
Blogger Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

In America the narcissists and sociopaths have taken over, and this place is self destructing over it. Now I know why I hated TV sitcoms, I was a low status Aspie scapegoat when I was young. The game of constant put downs never appealed to me. I've noticed unless one joins the bullying games, advancement is rare. America is literally dying now because the people here have become too damn selfish:

http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-fearless-and-selfish-narcississm.html

11:54 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

So my niece moves to town for school, this was a year ago. It was fall and I requested (dumb idea) a birthday present, not so much for me as for her. My birthday is Halloween and I thought it would be cool to celebrate the Day of the Dead by visiting our ancestor’s graves. I tried to explain this isn’t meant to be scary or horror It’s a Memorial Day. I got one of those you got to be kidding looks. Not a scintilla of interest in her ancestors (5 generations my moms side). I thought I cld educate/tell stories as I have a good deal of info/stories. Fuck no she’s here to get her license hold her nose and leave...I thought fuckit then go out into the world blind, no one gets remembered past half a generation anyway, everything is just a “stepping stone” to something “better.” It’s offensive and disgusting..‘let the dead bury their own dead’

12:10 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

andreas-

The job of the NMI (see Twilight bk) is to preserve what is gd.

mb

12:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This looks gd:

https://www.amazon.com/Silence-Novel-Don-DeLillo/dp/1982164557/ref=sr_1_1?crid=122MJCE8W78WG&dchild=1&keywords=don+delillo+the+silence&qid=1602566114&s=books&sprefix=delillo+%2Cstripbooks%2C230&sr=1-1

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Snufkin said...

So many interesting comments - and a very interesting opening post. Thank you all. Two comments:

- Also the action movies in Hollywood are often quite disturbing, once you look at them with a criticial perspective. Basic recipe: A 100% bad guy creates a conflict. Good hero (Arnold, Sly, Clint etc.) comes along, applies violence, kills the bad guy --> happy ending. In real life things don't work like this. The result of this approach would rather be misery, trauma, havoc, destruction etc. Wise life and conflict-resolution takes a whole lot more of...well, wisdom.

- As for chopped liver with onions: My favourite dish (no joke). Really delicious, and extremely nourishing. I have to have it every week, it's like my treat+medicine.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

That's sad Gunnar. I have noticed the same in some of the young. When I was young, I remember asking of older relatives, "tell me all the stories you can". They didn't tell me much and I got flat out lies from some, I got into geneaology, only way I found out anything. I don't understand these dead inside people who don't want to know anything. Sadly it shows up young. The world of "I don't care" and achievement as everything. Ironic that the lack of jobs and endless pandemic, has not changed this. I am no contact from my family but the young ones didn't care either. I guess at least yours talk to you. Sadly she sounds like a boring person who is one of the pods.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Snuf-

Well, what we have in the US, and in those countries victimized by us, is misery, trauma, havoc, destruction, etc. One argument I have made here, and in some of my published work, is that of microcosm/macrocosm: what we do on the individual level gets played out writ large on the geopolitical level. From the viciousness of the sitcoms, and our interpersonal relationships, comes Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan...From sitcoms to torture and butchery.

mb

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Daddy Issues said...

Long time reader, once in a blue moon poster.
I feel compelled to come to the defense of science, which has been dismissed by some in the comments. In addition to my mediocre attempts at daily mediation, a glass or two of Bogle Merlot in the evenings, and of course, this blog, science and following recent discoveries helps me to stay sane in these bleak times of the pandemic and rapid cultural collapse.
One example – the Pluto photos from the New Horizons spacecraft. Pluto was only discovered in 1930, and it was only a point of light until the last decade. Now we have closeups of its surface, and instead of a barren landscape of rocks and dust, its a rich world of colors and textures and complex chemistry. https://www.space.com/pluto-flyby-new-horizons-fifth-anniversary.html
What a time to be alive to see this! I have gratitude for science for these discoveries, and for technology to give us the means to experience these wonders of the universe from the comfort of home.

8:40 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Rom Mittney has had enough!!!!


https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/romney-decries-state-america-s-vile-vituperative-hate-filled-politics-n1243154

12:33 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Here is another set of Cailin Johnstone's pithy comments about our present state of malaise in the US and generally Western 'Civilization'.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/10/12/the-status-quo-is-the-real-existential-threat-notes-from-the-edge-of-the-narrative-matrix/

Her last comment probably refers to 'the pursuit of happiness' from the Declaration of Independence which MB has interpreted as really an 18th century way of prettifying an unabashed 'pursuit of property' but she is sticking to a literal reading in her comment.

"The illusion is that happiness is something separate from yourself that you have to put a lot of work into chasing and obtaining. The reality is that happiness has always been here and your whole life you've been pouring massive amounts of work into keeping it unnoticed."

1:08 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Because someone hasta play Devil's Advocate here, I'll defend sitcoms and say the reason the characters are so horrible to each other is that nobody would watch the shows if they weren't.

Imagine sitting down and watching Elaine's nice "Bizzaro Gerry" friends for an hour. There's no conflict or friction there and their story does little more than bore the audience. In a show about nothing, the viewer needs to see interpersonal conflicts.

There's a great scene at the end of "The Summer of George," where after hearing that George may never walk again, his three friends abandon him in the hospital, in much the same manner as they left him upon hearing that his fiancée died from licking envelopes a year earlier. Scenes like this are without pretense, and strip away the façade found in many human relationships; and yeah, it's horrible.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Curmudgeon Mcgee said...

More Voters Say They're Better off under Trump than When Obama, Bush Sought Re-election: Gallup Poll

https://www.newsweek.com/more-voters-better-off-donald-trump-first-term-obama-bush-1537759

56%!!!

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Riffe said...

Louis and MB - barbarism has been part of our social DNA since the very beginning. See The Barbarous Years by Bernard Bailyn:The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600–1675. “Death was everywhere. America, for these hopeful utopians, had become a graveyard.” The Natives fought for their land and survival, but doesn't stand a chance against the diseases and technology of the Europeans. The use of violence to conquer other peoples goes on.

https://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/brutish-beginnings

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

Snuf,

I'd like to add my own thoughts about contemporary American entertainment. Aside from viciousness, there's a palpable deadness, emptiness, and lack of human feeling in American movies and TV shows these days. The plots are derivative, the acting is lifeless. The stories unfold very, very slowly with lots of pauses and filler, probably because the studios want to minimize their budgets like corporations minimize their wages. These lifeless flicks are made on shoestring budgets, and avoid taking risks. This is a reflection of the hollowness and deadness of the American soul.

As childish as it may seem, I've recently gotten into anime, because the Japanese still know how to create likable characters and meaningful dialogue. They still know how to draw you into their stories and make you care what happens. They still do their very best to provide people with quality entertainment. They are also willing to be politically incorrect and take risks. Anime might be marketed to young people, but it's far deeper and more mature than anything Hollywood has to offer.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Andalusian Musician said...

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/10/not-news-but-a-juicy-collection-of-narratives-how-the-new-york-times-failed-its-readers.html#more
"Not News But A Juicy Collection Of Narratives - How The New York Times Failed Its Readers"
Good day to Mr. Berman and all the Wafers on this blog. I had to share this story. Calling above embarrassing or disgraceful is understatement. Making up stories about ISIS and spreading fake news.
The situation is just terrible. Here is another story:
https://taskandpurpose.com/news/vast-majority-americans-20s-unfit-military-service
"The Vast Majority Of Americans In Their 20s Are Unfit For Military Service"
An opening statement:
"The military is facing a growing recruiting crisis: 71% of Americans between 17 and 24 can’t meet the minimum criteria for service, which places the burden of service on an ever-small and shrinking pool of troops with a family history of joining the military."
With all due respect Mr. Berman, I think US is heading for ruin a lot faster, than was predicted in your trilogy on American Empire. Well for the world, it is a good thing. Americans need a hard lesson, just as Romans learned the hard way in AD 550.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Seneca’s Cliff said...

MB- Are you saying that the dean telling the entire new freshman engineering class assembled for orientation in Bailey Hall to, “ look to your right, then look to your left, in 4 years one of you won’t be here,” is not the height of compassion and kindness for a University? (Cornell) My wife who was in that class with me was kind of shell shocked for the first years as she had come from a gentler and more ernest childhood on Maui.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Art Baker said...

Well do I remember my bad attitude when I fled
'mur'ka in 1966. Now, just give a look at this
guy's view on the place.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp6Rbgv1MLg

As a mere child in the McCarthy era I tried to
join the Cub Scouts, maybe before it went
bankrupt from sexual weirdness. I was refused
because I was not born in the 'mur'ka. I never
forgot that and was surprised that the local
library had no books by Marx and Freud.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous eczema said...

Hi. I was reading a few years ago from J. Ralston Saul how corp state secrets were increasing. With all these scandals and no justice I wonder what he could possibly mean. Lawlessness for gov operatives and agencies - endless statutes and codes for the rest of us? Whistlers getting hammered as usual. The best at war speak piece . . ..

https://www.bitchute.com/video/fAqlEEcEBxc/

12:08 AM  
Blogger alex carter said...

500-lb Peep - it's good to see you here. I think I'm getting the same thing. Of course the WASP side of my family doesn't have anything to say nor is there any: they are purebreds going back to the Revolution and that's all that matters. My mom's side, the one surviving member from my mother's time and having any connection with the past, doesn't want to talk about it. Do I call them "wannabee whites"? Tatars are kind of on one of the fringes of whiteness. It's a very uncomfortable subject. The past is not talked about altho' it appears Mom & Sister (my aunt) played accordions as a sister act in the Odeon(?) theatre. They did something that cool, and Mom never mentioned it once when I was growing up and my aunt will only offer the briefest aside.

Meanwhile, you, yes YOU, can sponsor an American child ... https://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/jattag/a_tv_advertisement_i_get_t_holy_sht/

3:39 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dr. Berman,

Your essay for this blog entry is particularly good and insightful. I enjoyed Seinfeld myself however many years ago. But the cast themselves, while benign enough as human beings (excepting Kramer and his racist insanity.), have always struck me as people I wouldn't have the slightest interest in knowing or talking to in real life. "Friends" I've only seen a time or two. It seems harmless and cute enough. I suppose its appeal probably more Freudian than cerebral: The men imagining Jen and the other females naked and the women doing likewise with the men.(Would anyone even watch "Friends" if the cast were ugly or homely? Ugly people living life and being cutesy would not likely compel mass attention.) Empty cultural calories, but infinitely better than the psychopathic cruelty that is routinely normalized these days on top shows like "American Idol", or the majority of the reality programs.

And how about "Married With Children"? You almost can't criticize it because it is so exuberantly vulgar and offensive. I noticed at one point that literally every line in the show is either a put down or the set up for a put down. When you watch it with that in mind it almost forces your admiration.


3:42 AM  
Blogger Mike Kelly said...

Hi MB and Wafers:

By coincidence I just bought the book Is this Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld. It's a collection of Jerry's jokes, and he describes in the introduction how he's saved every joke he's ever written on yellow legal paper. It's divided into decades, and so far I'm only on page 57. I am happy to report that during those early years Jerry only made fun of things and situations - not people. A quick browse through the pages reveals no harsh criticisms of people. Onstage, the Seinfeld show was full of harsh criticisms of individuals. In real life Jerry seems like an intelligent and thoughtful comedian who uses his craft to point out the ridiculousness of life.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Is-This-Anything/Jerry-Seinfeld/9781982112691

10:02 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

I shlda prefaced my last post by stating why I got the idea to take my niece on gravesite tour; her car has specialty Pioneer license plates. I dunno wldnt you want to know something about those so proudly displayed to the car behind you at every red light? Apparently not.

https://www.westword.com/news/colorado-special-license-plates-most-and-least-popular-9016292

Trump prob loves steroids, I know prednisone makes me manic, no wonder he wants to kiss everyone in the crowd @ his rally. His face looks puffy to me, steroids are know to create a “moon face” when taken over time.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-attorneys-ask-supreme-court-stay-manhattan-da-s-tax-n1243207

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_face

10:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Art-

Not what I meant by Attitude. Yr getting better, tho.

Andalus-

Actually, it was A.D. 476.

Louis-

Cdn't run it. We have a half-pg-max rule on this blog.

Riffe-

I discuss that bk in one of the essays in AWTY. Can't remember which one, however.

Wafers-

Check out cover illustration of New Yorker, Sept. 21, by Chris Ware. The caption is "Last Days." A family is sitting in front of their house around a BBQ grill. All of them sit silently, wearing masks. An American flag hangs from a pole, but it is twisted, giving a feeling of drab exhaustion. Of course, "Last Days" cd refer to the end of summer, but it cd also refer to the end of America. I'm guessing that the double entendre was intentional.

mb

1:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps:

https://www.amazon.com/United-States-War-California-Anthropology/dp/0520300874/ref=sr_1_1?crid=7S14RC0D9JRU&dchild=1&keywords=david+vine&qid=1602697569&s=books&sprefix=david+vine%2Caps%2C225&sr=1-1

1:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps2:

https://www.amazon.com/Homeland-Elegies-Novel-Ayad-Akhtar/dp/0316496421/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1MENTGTIT5G9Y&dchild=1&keywords=ayad+akhtar+homeland+elegies&qid=1602697727&s=books&sprefix=ayad+%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C237&sr=1-1

1:51 PM  
Blogger vsoguy said...

Hello WAFers,

Here's another edition of "This week in culture". A weekly video compilation on the current state of affairs in the US:

https://youtu.be/qPKO30pJ-Qw

The disclaimer here is that this is from a pro-Trump youtube channel, but their propaganda shows the decline just as well as the rest of the footage. Also, some of the clips may be mildly disturbing, but not much worse than what's on the MSM.

Enjoy(?)

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Riffe said...

I was so intrigued by the review of "Homeland Elegies" in the Raleigh newspaper Sunday that I went immediately to my computer and placed a copy on hold at the local library.

On sitcoms - excellent essay. I noticed the need of male classmates to be in constant competition with another when in my teens. I was never sure what we were competing for. As a man, I knew that I was supposed to outdo other men physically and socially but I could not recall ever being taught that outright. I don't recall ever playing a game in which cooperation was a winning strategy. Trophies were awarded for defeating opponents, not cooperating to solve problems.

Since then, I've come to realize that competition is America's reason for being. Its what drives us and gives life meaning. Or rather, the end of life is victory, with competition being the means. I win by defeating you.

A favorite strategy is the put-down by which I increase myself by deflating you. Winning is everything and there can be only one first place finisher. "Reality" shows are microcosms of American culture. The object is to win, whatever it takes. No matter how much you have to cheat or diminish others. Presidential elections are reality shows write large. The object is not only to win but to destroy your opponent in the process. Total annihilation. "Full spectrum dominance".



6:09 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

Here's a question for Dr. Berman and everyone else.

Anyone feel like events such as Covid-19 exist solely for the purpose of adding to a Great Filter? It's almost as if Mother Nature wants to stress test our social orders to see which ones are healthy and which ones aren't.

For context, America's response to Covid-19 can be soberly described as disastrous.

America's Death Per Capita rate is a staggering 669 per million.

That's worse than Italy (a country that got suckerpunched by this thing well before any of us knew the scope of its lethality).

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Flabster said...

The cruelty I experienced at times and witnessed at others is expressed in a chart here:

https://www.prb.org/povertyintheunitedstatesandotherwesterncountries/

We allow 10% to live with limited access to healthcare, steady employment, etc. it likely is an massive underestimate. I have had nearly the same experience as B Lewis, having to hit someone in the face to not be the target of torment. The things you can get used to are shocking when you realize the suffering you have both endured and caused.

So much I feel relates to the strange fusion of fundamentalist religion and market capitalism, which has spawned the belief that god’s hand gives money to the “elect” via the market.

Flabster

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Frankie said...

Man, I watched for less than 10 minutes. I could not watch anymore. Is this true??

How poor people survive in the USA | DW Documentary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHDkALRz5Rk

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Jeeves said...

BarackObama still has 2010 on his mind, speaking on Pod Save Anerica>

"So progressives, if you want progressive legislation, get out there and keep working after the president is elected...you guys know how frustrated I would be when progressives feeling frustrated would then sit out the midterms"

So President Obama had the house + supermajority in the senate. He passed an insurance giveaway health care bill w no public option, failed to break up the banks, failed to rescue mid class homeowners, and then throws progressives under the bus for his administration’s failures. Hah!

9:25 PM  
Anonymous David Swallow said...

"Famed scientist and nonfiction writer David Sloan Wilson launches a devastating critique of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its impact on the world. Just as Rand advanced her ideas through fiction in addition to nonfiction, including her iconic novel Atlas Shrugged, Wilson pursues his quarry into the fictional realm with the story of John Galt III, the grandson of the main protagonist of Rand’s novel, and his quest to defeat the Evil Empire constructed by his father, grandfather, and grandmother—Ayn Rant."

https://atlashugged.world/?fbclid=IwAR2lBwvRYpznrURlA-U9BRRzE8WlE4Js4W2QM5NwviODMPQ4sQbZKgFS6Kk

I liked Wilson's "Darwin's Cathedral" a lot.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Art Baker said...

Of course, you know who benefited the most from
Trump's tax cuts. This short vid shows how well
acculturation to 'mur'ka dispenses vital illusions
to keep the whole con game active. Equal
opportunity to all simply means that winning a
lottery ticket is the only chance you have for
upward mobility.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

11:14 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

A city in Mexico that's definitely not mierda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fg1AjoLDIs

5:07 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

The first thing we do, let's kill all the MBAs.

Interesting article on caregivers. Taylorism run amok. Last paragraph:
'A social revolution in the role of women was left half-finished in the 1980s when my generation of feminists set our sights on the workplace, and men failed to step up in sufficient numbers to take on a share of care. Jobs such as care workers and nurses are still predominately done by women. We might shift the dial if a fraction of the energy and attention of the MeToo movement focused on the crisis of care. It’s analogous to the environmental emergency, only in this crisis the natural resource that is being destroyed or commodified is human relationships and compassion. Capitalism seeks to quantify and extract value, and when such disciplines are applied to the care worker, it is a tragedy. Because what is at stake is the reciprocity of human hearts, the need for comfort, and our innate human capacity to nurture wellbeing and ease suffering."

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/15/covid-care-crisis-humanity-efficiency-money

And good read on AI and the military. Boys will be boys, and will kill us all given the chance, but ethically with autonomous swarming killer bots-
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/oct/15/dangerous-rise-of-military-ai-drone-swarm-autonomous-weapons

5:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

alex-

I've been there a few times. It's terrific.

Wafers-

Thanks for all your posts. Good illustrations of the degradation of the country, and the people.

mb

1:38 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Dan Daniel,

Check out AccuNurse by Vocollect.

Two decades ago at the urging of a passionate family friend who worked there, I interviewed with the company and was horrified.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Cyrillia Juniper said...

@Frankie:

Thank you for that link. Yes, it is hard to watch and these people, except for those in Appalachia, are the "middle class" homeless, people with jobs. It's nice to have an objective portrayal from reporters from Germany. America is now the object of study and pity from other developed countries.

I've been following a podcast about homelessness in Olympia, WA that is very well done, addressing the condition of the houseless as well as the concerns of business and property owners. It is not, however, for the faint of heart. Here's the link:

https://www.npr.org/podcasts/795090517/outsiders

My biggest takeaway from the podcast so far: Homelessness is the result of increasing prosperity; ergo, as the wealth gap continues to increase, so will homelessness. With my return to PNW, I am facing this possibility myself, although I have a large support network to draw from and so will be safe for now. When we say "onward and downward", the downward part is all too real for many.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

Flabster,

The fusion of Christianity and rapacious free-market capitalism always disgusted me. Christian conservatives believe exploiting everyone and everything until it dies is not only sacred, but the only acceptable way to live. Christianity always seems to end up in that hellish place, despite the good Pope Francis and some other Christians have done in Christ's name. Just ask the indigenous peoples of the Americas; they'll tell you all about it.

I've seen a great many American "intellectuals", like Daniel Schmachtenberger, exalt capitalism and Christianity (and, especially, the combination of the two) as "antifragile", as the very best humanity could ever achieve. They never stop and think about all the capitalist countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, and the great suffering masses there who live in rotting shacks without adequate food or water. It's clear they don't give a shit. They myopically focus on the West's wellbeing, but don't even see what Christian capitalism has done to Western Europe and the Anglosphere. They don't see the destruction of the social and moral fabric...or maybe they do, and think this is progress.

6:16 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

From “The Glass Bead Game” by Hermann Hesse

“The great majority of Castalian’s lived in their pedagogic province and their order as if these constituted a stable, eternal, inevitable world. They knew, of course, that it had not always existed, that it had come into being slowly and amid bitter struggles in times of cruel distress; they knew it had originated at the end of the Age of Wars out of a double source: the heroically ascetic efforts of scholars, artists, and thinkers who had come to their senses, and the profound craving of the exhausted, bled, and betayed peoples for order, normalcy, reason, lawfulness, and moderation. Castalian’s knew this, and understood the function of all the Orders and Pedagogic Provinces throughout the world: to abstain from government and competition and instead to assure stability for the spiritual foundations of moderation and law everywhere.”


Upon reading this passage I cannot help but to think that WE WAFERS are the Castalian’s in Hesse’s futuristic Novel!!

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Megan,

I am a big fan of "Married with Children" precisely because it was so exuberantly vulgar and offensive. It was like an extreme, cartoon version of the real world. I know I have mentioned this before, but I also enjoyed "Beavis and Butt-Head" which was literally a cartoon but still more realistic than many family-friendly sitcoms on TV.

I consider these vulgar TV shows to have been brave enough to admit that most Americans weren't good people. What has changed is that now the culture either celebrates vulgarity without the underlying critique that sometimes existed 30 years ago or lamely tries to redeem Americans with some form of moralism.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

The porcupine story reminds me of a few years ago some kids at the Philadelphia Zoo throw rocks to break the flamingos legs. Anyway, life sucks as you can imagine. I'm still doing comedy but in a parking lot every Saturday night as cars and motorcycles ruin my punchlines. I'm finally getting my plays published by a reputable British publishing house but the chances of seeing anything produced is slim, and I can only get into Thailand if I agree to sit in a hotel room for 14 days. I'd go insane after 14 minutes! Schools will reopen and of November but if I'm required to wear a mask the entire day, forget it (I substitute). Anyway, I've decided to become a philanthropist, giving money to any of my Thai or Cambodian friends who are seriously hurting from the lock-down. What bothers me most about this is how readily Americans have little or no issue wearing these pathetic face diapers, even in Fairmount Park which is more forest than park; the conformity breathtaking. Even hippies in long hair and beards where masks! "Yeah, I'm radical but I still have to wear my mask." Complete frauds.

12:03 AM  
Blogger NeilW said...

A Wafer site? 'Costco Karens: The Laschian Response (4)' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egSn39-0Fd8 And here's some Lassus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKE2EMnWT_g

1:59 AM  
Blogger alex carter said...

I'm not sure how popular Thomas Dalrymple is here but this is about the best Dalrymple material I've seen and a good intro to his line of thinking. Actual discussion starts about 6-1/2 minutes in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZieOUjU5NY

Dalrymple is fascinating because he's been there; done that. Put in years working among the underclass and his findings pose a real problem for the Left. If you give people housing, food, medical care, everything for essentially free, but the people don't have a central story or a feeling of a mission in life, you get this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRqdy-GCqkA

I once ran into Randists in the wild. It was their meeting, in a side-room at the Coco's on Lawrence Ave. in Sunnyvale. I was invited to sit and learn, and since I was hungry I ordered a nice big steak dinner (I ate one meal/day then) and those tawdry, threadbare, pinchpenny types were astounded. Sad bunch.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I thought you might enjoy this:
When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was:
- Do you believe in God?
And he always answered:
- I believe in the God of Spinoza.
https://www.facebook.com/Lovebyabhisar/posts/when-einstein-gave-lectures-at-us-universities-the-recurring-question-that-stude/2981785678591903/

Best Wishes,
Himanshu

8:32 AM  
Anonymous BH said...

I was at the auto repair shop and talking to the receptionist. We were talking all about the hullabaloo about the election and she stated she thought the problems with the country isnt so much the politicians but the people. She said the typical American is selfish and doesnt want to help others out only themselves. That was why the country has its problems and why they never get solved.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

BH-

Didju kiss her?

Art-

"For those who insist on data" comes across as a putdown. Yr still having problems with Attitude. This is the last warning you'll receive.

mb

1:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Interesting documentary: "The Red Pill"

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

2 seemingly unrelated money stories:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/americans-are-dying-with-an-average-of-62k-of-debt/ (from 2017)

https://theconversation.com/election-2020-sees-record-11-billion-in-campaign-spending-mostly-from-a-handful-of-super-rich-donors-145381

Can someone explain those two things to me? Oh wait, it's Amerikkka, that explains it. $11 billion for one stupid election? C'mon, how about $1 billion for the election and $10 billion for you know, food and housing and doctors.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Lee said...

There he goes again: Bibi approves 5,000 more settlement housing units on the day the Knesset approves the Israel-UAE peace agreement. https://www.haaretz.com/amp/israel-news/.premium-israel-approves-thousands-more-homes-in-west-bank-settlement-1.9238068#click=https://t.co/lGLLU6hnOQ

4:06 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I thought I'd share this and blow some minds:

"According to Williams, providing people like Ray the cash they need to get ahead also helps Canadian taxpayers.

She said it costs, on average, $55,000 annually for social and health services for one homeless individual. According to study data, the project saved the shelter system approximately $8,100 per person for a total of roughly $405,000 over one year for all 50.
"

A B.C. research project gave homeless people $7,500 each — the results were 'beautifully surprising'

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/new-leaf-project-results-1.5752714

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Malleus Maleficarum said...

I'm very late at getting the news but RIP David Graeber, who died September 2. So sad, here is a little tribute to him (one of his interviews):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6oOj7BzciA

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

MB,

I've seen that documentary. If you finished it, you already know it's about how men are being discriminated against in Anglo countries. After watching it, I realized these inequities are a crucial part of the progressive agenda. Progressives seek to worsen these inequities in the name of progress or justice or socialism or whatever harebrained excuse they're using. We saw this with Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign: "The future is female!".

As you said before, progressives are not building a better world. They have no vision. They have no spiritual foundation. They know nothing about history. They're biased and intolerant. They have inflated egos. They're self-righteous. Their thought process consists of memes and slogans. You know who else has all these traits? Bubbas and Karens.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Riffe said...

Nadine - the American version of Christianity understands its mission as the salvation of the individual soul. Have you been saved by Jesus? If not, you're going to hell. The individual is the focus, not the world in which he/she lives or what kind of life he/she lives. The only "life" that matters is the after-life. Which allows the Church to ignore the poor and needy, in contradiction of its leader's mandates.

You might be interested in books on the topic: "The Power Worshippers", Katherine Stewart; "CHristianity Incorporated", Budde and Brimlow; and "The Evangelicals", Frances Fitzgerald.

6:17 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Tom Servo: I lived in a sort of a dorm in the mid-90s and Beavis & Butt-Head was on 90% of the TVs there. It was a dorm of high achievers too. B&B-H was witty and self-observant and fun. I think Mike Judge might be a WAFer.

Dan - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surgical_mask Face masks have a long and honored history; as soon as the germ theory of disease came about and people learned about the spread of infection by sprays of droplets when people talk, etc. This is long established science. This YouTube channel is a good one to learn from: https://www.youtube.com/user/Campbellteaching it's all about the droplets.

MB - Did more viewing about Merida and I dunno ... Costcos? Like more than one Costco? It just seems a bit hyped and shrill .... prolly fun for now like New Orleans until the next flood...

1:19 AM  
Blogger vsoguy said...

Frankie,

Thanks for sharing the homeless documentary. Just past the 12 minute mark there's a segment with a woman who got evicted from her rented home. It's pretty heartbreaking to see her reaction and what good people they all seem to be, held hostage by a flawed social construct.

Here's another documentary called "The Wall" from 2018 about a homeless situation in Minneapolis involving the Native Americans there:

https://youtu.be/hZMy7Q0U88I

It's hard to imagine that the homeless problem isn't going to get substantially worse in the coming years..

8:37 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Interesting interview with Jason Stanley,who wrote "How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them." From July this year, so some events are either not mentioned or were still developing. But he at least does not see this as a Trump thing. He seems to see Trump as too incompetent to develop a full-blown fascist government. "I'm not saying that Trump is a fascist. Trump is certainly performing fascism — it's performative fascism that we're seeing. It's the tropes of fascism, and I think that's worrisome enough."

https://www.businessinsider.com/is-trump-fascist-jason-stanley-says-it-is-wrong-question-2020-7?op=1

Last paragraph "We need to take the focus off Trump specifically and think about the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the long-term chain we need to make in order to make sure that this kind of demagoguery doesn't work anymore — and not place everything on Trump. What are the long-term things that made this possible?"

Sure, just what Americans are good at, large picture, historically informed, critical analysis.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Shawn M said...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=mc6E8zMj4uo

"Krystal and Saagar: Obama FINALLY Hits Campaign Trail To SCOLD, Blame Voters For His Own Failures"

President Obama taking time away from writing his million dollar(s) memoir and Netflix deals (barf) to sanctimoniously blame voters?

A big time shit head.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Ari Eisenberg said...

What’s most hilarious is the idea that America will have a miraculous national resurrection or a Revolution, either or left or right stripe. The American people are a hopeless case: no wisdom, no courage, no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s unlikely that they’re capable of a Revolution. Both the Old Bolsheviks and the German NSDAP were composed of daring, highly intelligent men. Even though you disagree with their policies, the quality of their human capital is unquestionable (Just read Lenin’s philosophical works or the IQ tests done on the Nazi leadership before the Nürnberg trials. These people weren’t idiots). On the other hand, in America’s political landscape one will only find grifters, kooks, informants, clowns, and dilettantes. Not a soul amongst them capable of sacrifice for anything grander than themselves. Gasbag grifters the whole lot of ‘em.

Looting Gucci stores is the epitome of American protest movements. It’s a metaphor for the yearnings of the oppressed. As I heard poignantly in one video: “ay yo mothafugga gimme that shit, i be fittin to come up hustling some gucci”. That moment was America’s rallying cry, like when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bell with the “grito de dolores” to kick off the México’s Guerra de Independencia. It was the soul of America encapsulated in one succinct phase!

12:02 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Taxi (Taxi Driver lite) was the last sitcom I enjoyed. I really got into The Simpson’s back in the 90’s for prime time it was pretty subversive and well written, who can forget the Try-N-Save grocery store? Only Family Guy could write a Broadway song titled “Prom Night Dumpster Baby” abandoned babies climb out of a dumpster on prom night singing and swinging their umbilical cord. The big shows today are the fucking Masked Singer and para-military cop shows.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

Nadine Bupkis,

I am glad to be done with Christianity, in all forms. The prosperity gospel I mention above is in almost every Christian church out there now, One of their famous pastors just came out and said the world was disposable. Think about that.

Just there to use and exploit and "God will make us another one"

https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/10/14/covid-denying-pastor-denies-climate-change-god-gave-us-a-disposable-planet/

I am glad I fled the whole sickening mess during my deconversion, realizing a god that threatened people with hell, was a man-made creation used to limit human freedom on multiple levels.

A religion where most people go to hell is bringing hell to this earth. Covid, and the anti-maskers who are mostly evangelical Christians have ignored science and advanced and prolonged the pandemic. I've seen the Christian "intellectuals" too who usually just become excuse makers for the billionaires and ultra-wealthy. They have a world view that believes God takes care of or makes "wealthy" any nation or people's who have "enough faith" and see the suffering poor, as 'getting what they deserve" There is inherent narcissism in Christianity. Most of them are doing this now with a non-money related matter. God will keep you from Covid or dying from it, we don't need to wear masks or take preccautions.

Keep in mind the "saved" in Christian circles, believe the "lost" deserve eternal burning, they don't care if some of the suffering gets started on earth.


1:29 PM  
Anonymous Andalusian Musician said...

Good Day to everyone,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK0Y9j_CGgM

This is an interesting video by Michio Kaku. You can agree or disagree with him, however what he is saying makes sense. According to Mr. Kaku, America has the worst education system known to science. It is the immigration of skilled geniuses from abroad that keeps United States going. Take this away, and the country falls apart quickly. Interesting viewpoint.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

500-

Only 1 post every 24 hrs. Thank you.

Ari-

Some links, evidence, wd be helpful. Broadcasting opinions: less helpful.

alex-

Yeah, problem with Merida is that it has attracted lots of gringo expats, who bring their American values with them.

Film rec: "The Imitation Game" (terrific)

mb

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

500,

You might be interested in this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_ZjcfzXkfk

As this video shows, many evangelical Christians all across America believe Trump is the Second Coming of Christ. Considering Trump acts like he's a god, this parallels the late Roman emperors who declared themselves gods, and the Roman people who believed them. People in dying civilizations yearn to be saved, and know on some level that only a miracle could turn things around, so they deify their leaders, hoping they will work miracles.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Greetings Wafers,
I looked on for a while, but now tis the time to do my first post. So...

A main topic this blog discusses, is how Americans are simply too dumb and too ignorant to be able to steer the barge away from the iceberg. Noam Chomsky’s institutional analysis of Manufacturing Consent’, Neil Postman’s idea of ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ and Dr. Berman’s analysis of American society being a ‘competitive celebration of ignorance and vanity from the get go’ all go far in explaining why Americans are as dumb and ignorant as they are today.

I want to present another explanatory factor here in a way I think may be new to the blog— that factor being the school system. Basically, the real and hidden function of our school system is to destroy curiosity, encourage anti-intellectualism, divide kids from one another, weed out the most obedient children to become the “professional classes” and to humiliate those who don't win the zero sum school game— all done through the “hidden curriculum” of the school system.

A former NYC “Teacher of the Year” articulates the hidden curriculum brilliantly. While his writing may have some flaws, I nevertheless think that he is an unrecognized genius. Make of it what you will.

http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html

7:20 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Of Course Trump is saying this...He’s now a CORNERED RAT...instead of just the RAT that he normally is...


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-17/-lock-up-the-bidens-trump-says-at-georgia-campaign-rally

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Eric Jensen said...

First, I have never owned a TV and have never seen an episode of friends, however, I have witnessed some of its impact. So many people now around 30 look like clones of those characters. Second, I was unexpectedly invited to Jo Jorgensen's rally yesterday. She is the Libertarian candidate and, since there were not chairs (outdoors), I sat beside the candidate and could watch the audience of 500. I felt like the whole group was watching TV, relatively in a trance and emotionally unresponsive except when queued. It reminded me of George Carlin telling us that Americans are dumb ass mother fuckers. Really, that significantly deepened that impression for me. And since you like references... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv0kf0ad2P0

10:13 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Cops called on Jesus: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-cuyahoga/priest-says-someone-in-bay-village-called-police-about-a-homeless-person-but-it-a-statute-of-jesus

500peep - I am really glad I was raised with no religion. Ethics, sure. But no religion and I'm started to realize how unusual that is here in Jesusland. It was probably only possible because of growing up in Hawaii where at the time the majority were Buddhist Asians who don't push their religion on people. So when I got around to looking into Christianity I decided it was pretty crazy and my opinion has not changed.

Andalusian Musician - That sounds solid. Look at how many of our actually smart people are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants. Past the 3rd generation Americans don't give a fuck about each other and don't give a shit if their kids win Nobels or life sentences.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Cyrillia Juniper said...

MB and Wafers:
Jonathan Alter has released a new biography of Jimmy Carter: His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life. Here's a review from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/18/jonathan-alter-jimmy-carter-donald-trump-reagan-bush-clinton-obama

Alter argues that Carter's presidency is ripe for reappraisal.
“I describe Jimmy Carter as a political and stylistic failure, especially in comparison to Ronald Reagan, his successor, but a substantive and far-sighted, even visionary success. I think he is misunderstood because people have overstressed his unpopularity and underemphasised his actual achievements as president. The extraordinary thing is how many of them there are.”

Looks like an interesting read.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

It’s chuckle time again, Dr. Berman & Wafers. Let’s get some more Sunday laughs at our all American Karens in Episode 13. We love our Karens!

1) Karen doesn’t appreciate getting a traffic ticket.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzqRWhLG3ps

2) Karen Obviously doesn’t like rap music.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLpfiRxu5eM

3) This wacky Karen in Part III doesn’t like BLM.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZv3muU-Sxs

4) And let’s throw in a couple of their Darren spouses for good measure. Enjoy! LOL! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTaZypZuzRQ

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Jimmie Castle said...

I swear, gentlemen, that to be too conscious is an illness-a real thorough-going illness

- Dostoyevsky


A good post-it for the mirror.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Eric-

*We* like references.

Brian-

Note that my agreement with Chomsky is only about 20%. For the most part, I reject the Manufacturing Consent argument. Also, I don't recognize your quote from me as my own; not that I disagree with it.

mb

12:57 PM  
Blogger James Miles said...

MB - I was watching Michael Moore's Planet of Humans documentary and noticed Dark Ages America makes an appearance in the film. At 49:11 you can see the documentarian holding the book in his hands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2TWXeto4cGzJpKHBn0qAA4kVawpBwscUnKbjlDB5Fp-A7EhERuWkmiM1Q

Not sure this has been pointed out before. In any case, hooray!

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

Two of America's American's finest qualities, hustling and stupidity, in one article.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2020/10/13/byu-idaho-says-students/

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Riffe said...

500Peep - The typical American version of Christianity is a distortion of the original. By that I mean the deeds and words of a Jew named Jesus of Nazareth who was executed as a rebel by the Empire with the encouragement of the religious leadership, because he was a threat to the "Peace" of Rome and the authority and privilege of the priests. He sided with the outcast, the poor, the hungry, and the ostracized and spoke against the accumulation of privilege and wealth.

Today's American version is collection of heresies: Manichaeism, montanism, the utter depravity of humankind, the prosperity gospel, and others. Its leaders are for the most part in search of secular power and prestige. You will not find them living with the homeless or standing in line with the hungry. They are the hypocrites criticized by Jesus in the Gospels. Care that you don't mistake the false gospel for the original.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous BH said...

Dr. Berman,

I didnt kiss her but asked if she read a lot and she said she read at least one book a month. I asked her what she read and she said sometimes it's the Bible or book about the Bible, something science related, or history related. I told her about you and your Why America Failed trilogy and she said she would look into it.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous THOMAS said...

Remember how we were lied to and told the Protestant Work Ethic is what made the colonists great?

American education is wild

9:07 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Not always a fan of Cornell West, but he is struggling with the real issues at the very least. And doesn't hesitate to call out white Americans for their role-

“When you think about it, 65% of white brothers voted for Trump and 50% of white sisters. That’s the kind of country we live in. It’s like ... Wow! If it wasn’t for black folk and brown folk and progressive white folk … you voted for him then and you will vote for him again? Is that what we are talking about? With his impact on the world ...everybody knows he is a gangster, everybody knows he is a pathological liar and a xenophobe.”

Worth a read, and always worth tracking down his writings-

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/19/cornel-west-george-floyds-public-lynching-pulled-the-cover-off-who-we-really-are

9:18 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I used to watch "Big Bang Theory," but stopped after a few years because I was bothered by how the show portrayed scientists as foolish, socially-inept freaks, reinforcing the bias against science in the USA.

There couldn't be a better illustration of US anti-intellectualism than this TV programme.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,
We haven’t heard too much in the news of this recently. Perhaps with the coronavirus and, of course, Trump always in the news, not much has been said of the daily mass shootings that occur here in the World’s Wasteland, a.k.a. the United States of America. And so….

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/10/17/7-people-including-children-shot-in-Arizona-parking-lot/3621602962687/

1:04 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Evangelicals, from what I’ve read, view Trump as a King Cyrus type. He was the Babylonian monarch who allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. I wouldn’t be surprised if Conehead Barrett believes this shit. I think the Handmaid’s Tale is an accurate depiction of what they’re after.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great_in_the_Bible

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/3/5/16796892/trump-cyrus-christian-right-bible-cbn-evangelical-propaganda

@Brian, I was mostly an observer all through high school, never could "buy in" to the masquerade. Once I got questioned why I of all people was in the library b/c I was such a poor student, Advanced Placement “smart guy” told me I’d end up mowing his lawn. I agree with you the educational system wants drones anyone else can go pound sand. Here’s what George Carlin thought of education.

https://youtu.be/sNXHSMmaq_s

1:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

Except at the end, Sheldon and Amy win the Nobel Prize.

Dan D-

In terms of decline, however, gangsters, liars, and xenophobes are precisely what we need at the highest levels of govt.

Thomas-

Who said that? A link wd be nice.

James-

I saw it some time ago, but thanks anyway.

mb

2:25 PM  
Blogger Krakhed said...

MB & Wafers, Enjoying the discussion as usual. We circle the toilet incessantly, but it's nice to know we have unsparing and honest chroniclers of our collapse.

Politics except on the local level, is beyond salvation imo. Imagine how much good would come by way of Trump if he leads us to abolish the Presidential Branch for good once he has thoroughly destroyed it.

GO TRUMPI!

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Sewee said...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/bolivia-election-evo-arce-mesa-camacho/2020/10/18/205b6b5c-0f11-11eb-8a35-237ef1eb2ef7_story.html

My deepest condolences to the CIA/American Imperialism

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Fiona said...

“A huge reason that our politics is not so extremely polarised and so far out there is because we no longer have any Murdoch-owned press” // Why New Zealand rejected populist ideas other nations have embraced

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/19/why-new-zealand-rejected-populist-ideas-other-nations-have-embraced

4:29 PM  
Blogger Arthur V. said...

James Kunstler has now been reduced to writing almost completely unreadable articles. I put forth for evidence today's effort:

kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/american-gothic-horror/

If one reads the comments it gets worse. Today Mr. Trump said that Biden would listen to the scientists if elected. One can choose not support Biden, but I don't believe listening to scientists is a valid reason not to. I want someone who listens to expert advice. Yet, Kunstler, who I assume has some educational and professional comps, has decided to throw his support to a man who is an uneducated jackass. This to me is very confusing. At least when his predictions didn't come to pass John Michael Greer had the good sense to change subjects.

4:32 PM  
Blogger vsoguy said...

Joe,

Regarding the link to the shooting in AZ, the police chief said "They crossed the line. They shot children and it's unacceptable". So I guess shooting adults is acceptable? I guess you gotta draw the line somewhere..

And you're right, between Trump and the coronavirus, Godzilla could show up and destroy NYC and it probably wouldn't even make the news..

4:46 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

Morris! Many belated thanks your microcosm/macrocosm, local satire to transnational butchery post. Todd Gitlin recently echoed your observation that "we hate each other, and we kill each other, often over nothing at all" in an L.A. Times oped (link below), noting that "throughout our society, the word 'hate' has lost its sting altogether because it has been bandied about so frequently. We don't simply dislike broccoli these days, we 'hate' it. ..." Further, "Our current language of evaluation has only two poles, as if to line up with Facebook's division of the entire universe of human responses into 'like' and the failure to 'like.' Our very vernacular cultivates chasms."

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-10-14/op-ed-trump-conservatives-think-they-are-loathed-by-elites-are-they

In one of your comments above, you say Americans "hate life." Do you think the dog-eat-dog savagery and consumption in the national consciousness has created a kind of death wish?

With every best wish,

Ajay

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Shithouse said...

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/oct/19/jeffrey-toobin-zoom-call-new-yorker-suspended

More us "greatness"! American "news" anchor masturbating on a conference call thinking it was on mute.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Murray Webster said...

These people are simply lazy and will vote for
Trump. They do not know the blessings of
freedom and their chance of becoming rich by
starting a TV network or a computer manufacturer?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4E_ZGLQH_A&feature=youtu.be

12:10 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

WHO the hell in their right mind would whip out their Johnson and start rubbing one out while they’re in a meeting via video and conference call? WTF?


https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-jeffrey-toobin-masturbating-zoom-call-new-yorker

12:37 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

So what in the 80% do you disagree with or do you have a link to a previous response?

4:37 AM  
Blogger KeltCindy said...

https://photos.app.goo.gl/rdrLfVg4dgpHNsK59

6:50 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Hello Wafers,

Have had to travel during this time. Not an easy job with all new rules and protocols.

Anyways, read this great interview of Pankaj Mishra. Declinist, and a thorough analysis of the present political scenario. His book would be worth checking out. I had enjoyed reading his Age of Anger.


https://thewire.in/world/pankaj-mishra-interview-covid-19-populism

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age
https://www.amazon.com/Art-Rest-Find-Respite-Modern/dp/1786892804

This looks great

9:13 AM  
Anonymous D-Pressed said...

Declinism (and dislike of Tulsi's exercise videos)
notwithstanding, these initiatives deserve support

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/1175
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/1162
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8452

If a Karen is a judge, do we call that a Vanessa?

11:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cindy-

He's a douche bag. But then, most Americans are.

Yossi-

Discussed at length in previous blog posts/comments, but I can't remember which. Cannot repeat lengthy discussion here, sorry.

jj-

He's a douche bag. But then, most Americans are.

Murray-

Those chances are pretty slim, amigo. Some 'freedom'! I guess you really do believe in the American Dream. "They call it the American Dream because you hafta be asleep to believe it." (George Carlin) Let's just say that the stats of individual entrepreneurial success are not exactly on yr side. Horatio Alger was always b.s.

Ajay-

Yes.

-mb

11:24 AM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Is QAnon a game gone wrong? – Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times — “The human mind is a tricky thing. For example, if you sit in front of a television set with just snow on it eventually you will start to see things. Because your brain can’t deal with the idea that there’s nothing connected in the information you are seeing.”

The Psychological Needs That QAnon Feeds – Joe Pierre, M.D., Psychology Today — “QAnon is a curious modern phenomenon that’s part conspiracy theory, part religious cult, and part role-playing game… Beyond conspiracy theory and online cult, QAnon has also been described as ‘an unusually absorbing alternate-reality game’ where online players who refer to themselves as ‘bakers’ eagerly await the chance to decipher cryptic clues in the form of ‘bread crumbs’ or ‘Q‑drops.’ These rewards are dispensed within an irregular ‘variable ratio reinforcement schedule’ that highlights how QAnon represents an immersive form of entertainment that, like online gaming or gambling, provides an ideal set-up for a kind of compulsive behavior that resembles addiction. The puzzle-solving, role-playing dimension of QAnon acts as another reinforcing intoxicant of sorts, providing believers with an exciting new identity as a ‘Q Patriot.’”

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

It appears the hustlers have been hustled by Foxconn.

Enabled by the great leadership of Trump, and someone who would make an excellent replacement for him in 2024 should he lose this year - the equally fabulous Scott Walker.

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a34417273/foxconn-wisconsin-deal-scott-walker-donald-trump/

12:17 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Very bad news for Don Trump, and especially for the Republican party. Their motto, “You’re on your own,” took a big hit with this ruling. Was this judge in their minds one of those “liberal activist judges” who intruded on, what Trump’s conservative Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue calls, the “dignity of work?”
Certainly these mass layoffs and concomitant financial difficulties during the pandemic shouldn’t be an excuse to get food assistance! The reported high numbers of unemployment are nothing but, as the far right says, “fake news.” And the GOP certainly should grouse about these “freeloaders”, right?
Whatever became of the self-made man? The American Dream? Where is Horatio Alger to straighten them out? Poor Don. Poor Sonny Perdue. Poor GOP.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/10/19/Federal-judge-strikes-down-Trump-rule-cutting-food-stamps/8221603128334/

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Glans Butterworth, III said...

Option only:

What we need to do, what we should do, we ought to, we're better than this, how to 'rescue' the democracy,.... Perhaps instead of sit (shit) com nation, how about Clown College?

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Krakhed,

I agree with you about local politics. State and local races are the only reason why I still vote. Most of the races for federal office in my area are not competitive anyway. If anyone in America still feels the need to get involved in politics they should get involved at the local level. You will likely have more of an impact and you might actually do some good. I sometimes wonder if more decentralization would be a good thing.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

@Ordinary Indian: Despite the unfortunate transcribing errors and typos in the Pankaj Mishra Q&A, his usual brio and brilliance mercifully shines through. He is right to hold the media almost singularly responsible for today's ethnonationalistic mess. But after a great deal of scepticism that anything can be done to reverse the trend over at least the next 20 years, he then absurdly proposes that this is a good time for the media to recover its lost legitimacy. And in doing so, he makes a curiously circular argument that can be traced in these three quotes (caps mine):

“The thinktank model or the media as it exists is simply not the place to conduct these conversations [between Western and other traditions]—*IT DOES NOT HAVE THE INTELLECTUAL RESOURCES, THE CONFIDENCE, OR THE KNOWLEDGE.* …

“… *THE REAL CRISIS OF THE MEDIA IS ITS INTELLECTUAL INABILITY TO COPE WITH THE CRISIS OF OUR TIMES.* …

“This is actually a time for the media to recover its lost legitimacy, lost to bloggers and social influencers and so on, but these guys know nothing about science, they don’t have the expertise, *IT’S ONLY THE TRADITIONAL MEDIA THAT CAN HAVE THAT EXPERTISE AND RESOURCES.”*

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Leo said...

Pat Robertson Prophesies That Trump Will Win Reelection, Then the End Times Will Begin

https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/pat-robertson-prophesies-that-trump-will-win-reelection-then-the-end-times-will-begin/

6:27 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Arthur V - Kunstler's been bitter and hateful for decades. Way too rah-rah for wars in the Middle East for me.

vsoguy - You took the words right out of my mouth. Think of the children...

Pretty good article on Alger: https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/horatio-alger-and-the-rags-to-riches-myth/article_e4a7d33c-7ebb-5c21-971e-8e753fc3fb51.html

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Bupkis said...

Dr. B,

I strongly resonated with your comment about the Chinese being smart, farsighted and determined, about Americans being frivolous, shortsighted and stupid, and about China being the next imperial power. It seems most Western nations have descended into frivolity, aimlessness and incoherence, and that this inner chaos is reflected by outer chaos - that is, in Western governments weakening themselves and their nations via deregulation, and in their incompetence and lack of concern for the consequences of their actions. America is, of course, the most salient example.

The Chinese must be licking their chops watching this happen. They understand that weak governments produce weak nations with weak people, and know they can rule the world once the West destroys itself. I'd bet that fifty years hence, when China reigns supreme, historians will think it comical that the West learned nothing from the late Roman Empire, which also deregulated its economy and collapsed shortly thereafter.

Of course, I'm no fan of China, considering what it's doing to its Uyghurs, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and others. In fact, I think Chinese hegemony might make American hegemony seem pleasant by comparison. Any thoughts?

7:30 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

So here's a fun report on two police officers. One breaking and entering his ex-girlfriend's home. Over three months later, he is on suspension (probably with pay) and 'under investigation.'

And then a 'provisional officer' (?) threatens again and again to kill a guy who he thinks is sleeping with his girlfriend. Other officers take his guns away, but later he drives off drunk with other guns (of course).

"A judge released Serna on Monday on conditions, including that he not possess firearms. But the judge agreed to an exception to that condition so Serna can possess a gun during training activities for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, court records show."

What the....

Now I know where Bill Barr gets those goons.

https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2020/10/20/two-with-law-enforcement-ties-charged-in-separate-incidents

9:27 PM  
Anonymous The Flabster said...

The powers that be are already lining up for a pivot to “no reform” and I have no doubt that it means they will pretend it’s all well and good. This only speed up the decline. No reform of a creaking, limping system is less than wise as we always discuss.

https://theweek.com/articles/944768/left-embraces-rigging-democracy

9:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Murray-

I don't think this is the rt blog 4u. There are many out there better suited to yr needs. Gd luck.

Nadine-

As Mao said, "The wind from the East will blow over the wind from the West." Duh. But yr rt: once China takes over, we might be pining for the good ol' days of American corruption and stupidity. Check out the Preface I wrote to the Mandarin edition of "Why America Failed." It's floating around the Net, somewhere.

I imagine Chinese historians picking thru the ruins of the NYPL 50 yrs from now, coming across my bks, and saying: "This guy Belman saw it all, way back when. Why didn't America listen to him?"

mb

11:18 AM  

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