December 03, 2019

The Wire Cage Experiment


I've recently been working on a collection of short stories. I've written 5 so far, amounting to about 60 pages. The problem is that to publish them in book form, I need at least 160 pages. Since I write only when I'm inspired, and since I can never predict when inspiration will strike, it could be another year before I pitch the book to a publisher.

I occasionally feel guilty that I don't provide enough entertainment for you guys. Granted, watching the US go down the tubes in the gauchest and most vulgar manner possible, or ridiculing turkeys like Tulsi Gabbard, is very entertaining, but it's of a rather noir variety. So what I'm going to do today is post one of these stories. It's not the best of the lot, and it's also a bit noir, but it has a nice demented flavor to it that I think you guys might enjoy. Here goes:

As a salesman of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, George Walraven enjoyed his job, but in the digital age he was fighting an uphill battle. He liked going door-to-door, talking to people about their lives, and the importance of being well-informed. But most of them didn't want to by the encyclopedia, because they said they could get whatever information they needed online. George immediately pointed out that Britannica had an online paywall; this pitch worked some of the time, but mostly not. Still, he loved the job and didn't want to give it up.

In terms of developing new sales strategies, George was inspired by an episode of Friends, in which an encyclopedia salesman comes to Joey Tribbiani's apartment and tries to sell him a set of encyclopedias. He asks Joey if he ever feels out of it, sitting around with his friends, who are discussing something he knows nothing about. Joey admits this is a frequent occurrence, but says he just can't afford to buy these books. So the salesman asks him how much cash he has on him at the moment; it turns out to be $50. "For $50," he tells Joe, "I can sell you a single volume. What letter would you prefer?" For some reason, Joey picks V. Then follows a rather silly scene in which Joey, sitting around with the Friends, keeps trying to steer the conversation to subjects such as Volcanos, Viet Nam, Vivasection, and other V's.

George loved that episode, and it gave him an idea. In these days of economic hardship, he reasoned, most people simply can't shell out $1,200 for the entire set. But like the salesman on Friends, he could probably get them to buy a single volume. Once he had sold all of the volumes, from A to Z, he figured he might be able to throw an "encyclopedia party," in which each person in attendance represented one letter of the alphabet. And then what? Some kind of party games? He wasn't sure. But he was convinced there was an angle here, one that would enable him to sell more books.

George's wife, a rather attractive blond ten years his junior, was keen on the whole idea, even thinking that if George could sell two sets of A to Z, it might be possible to organize a public competition between the two teams and run it on network TV. It took a few months to make this happen, but finally the show took place: "From A to Z: The War of the Books." Prizes ran from $1,000 to $10,000. First up were the 2 A's. Each person had a buzzer; George's job was to name an A entry, and the person who buzzed first then had to explain the item, say what it was. The two A's were a housewife from Cincinnati, and an insurance salesman from Topeka. The winner would be the first to give ten correct answers.

"What is the Aeneid?" George asked them. Brittany, the housewife, was quick on the draw. "Long poem by Virgil providing a foundation myth for Roman civilization," she said. "Right you are!" exclaimed George. "Next, what is abalone?" Lorenzo, the insurance salesman, pressed the buzzer and declared, "A type of processed meat." The audience was convulsed with laughter. "No," said George; "you're thinking of baloney, which would be a B question. Brittany?" "A type of sea snail, or mollusc," she responded. "OK," said George; "the score is now 2 to 0."

George proceeded to run through Aardvark, Aeolian harp, All Hallows Eve, and so on, until Brittany was the victor with a score of 10-5, racking up winnings of $1,000 (so far). The audience applauded, and she and Lorenzo retired from the stage. The B's were up next, but before that contest could take place, someone in the audience stood up. "Is this game rigged?" he called out.

"Wha?" George exclaimed. "Of course not." "Abalone is processed meat?" said the man. "Are you shitting me? Remember the show Twenty-One, the big scandal? Contestants were fed the correct answers, including Charles Van Doren, a professor at Columbia. People will do anything for money."

"Sir," said George, "you need to sit down. This game is not rigged, and you are completely out of order."

"But that denial is exactly what that earlier generation of execs at NBC said!" he cried. At this point, Security was called in, but the man had apparently come with a bucket of rotten vegetables, which he skillfully deployed against the officers. Somehow, this triggered a mob psychology response, with people choosing up sides: rigged or not rigged. A total melee ensued. Out of nowhere, a man in a Tarzan outfit swung through on a rope, and a woman thrust a Boston cream pie in George's face. "Criminals!" she screamed. "Thugs!"

All hell broke loose. The mob was able to overwhelm the Security guards, in some cases banging their heads against the floor. People picked up on the cry of "Criminals!" and "Thugs!", tore up the seats of the studio, attacked the contestants, and threw volumes of the encyclopedia at each other. The madness lasted for over an hour, at which point everyone stopped, as if on cue, dusted themselves off, and left the building.

"This may not have been such a good idea," George said to his wife, through gobs of Boston cream pie.

Of course, most of the melee was caught by various people on their cell phones, and the footage was used on the late-night news report. The anchor said something like, "A riot was unexpectedly triggered this evening at the opening of an NBC quiz show called 'From A to Z' by a defrocked priest, the Rev. Pierson J. Flanksteak. Rev. Flanksteak, without any evidence, accused the network of rigging the show, which resulted in an outbreak of mob violence. The audience went wild, and the riot went on for over an hour. When later questioned by the police as to why he made the accusation. Rev. Flanksteak said he was out to demonstrate Freud's theory that civilization was but a thin veneer over a massive 'iceberg' of barbarism."

"From A to Z" was subsequently cancelled; instead, all of the networks hosted panel discussions of Freud's theory, what had happened, whether Flanksteak (now sitting in jail) was a lunatic or a genius, and so on. It was all hot air; most of the TV audience, and the media, correctly concluded that these "experts" were fools. George quit his job with Britannica and went on to write a best-selling book, From A to Z: The Riot at NBC. The promotional flyer contained the following passages:

"The Rev. Flanksteak set out to validate Freud's notion that civilization was a shaky cover on top of raw, irrational emotions. He had no evidence that the program was rigged, and in fact, it wasn't. What he actually demonstrated was that the public can be made to go crazy by the use of certain charged words--'rigged' being one of them. 'Post-modern' is another. My own theory is that Americans are badly squeezed by the inexorable disintegration of their way of life, such that when these words are uttered, huge amounts of energy are suddenly released. This is important information for us to have about the fragile condition of the American people. Flanksteak now sits in jail, whereas I think he more correctly deserves to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor.

"I don't think, as a nation, that we can afford to be conducting our daily affairs while sitting on a kind of semantic volcano. What I propose is that we set up controlled experiments on the release of energy. I have consulted with Senator Riggins about this, and we are going to arrange for such an experiment two weeks from today. For this, we need 1,000 volunteers. Interested parties should sign up at the NBC studios as soon as possible."

The signup sheets filled up very quickly. NBC constructed a huge wire cage to house the participants. On the appointed day, they were all frisked for weapons and then locked inside the cage. George stood outside of it with a megaphone. "Is everyone ready?" he called out. "Ready!" came the response. "OK," he said; "here goes:"


The people inside the cage went nuts. They began to scream, tear their hair, bite each other, and beat each other up. Many got down on all fours and barked like dogs. It went on for thirty-five minutes, until they ran out of steam. Exhausted, most of them were lying on the floor. Some were bleeding.

"Well done," George called out on the megaphone. "Now let's try another phrase:"


Again, this set off a massive reaction of rage and violence, but since most of these folks were rather tired from the first round, it lasted only twenty minutes this time.


George bombarded them with these charged words until there wasn't a person left standing. The medical teams and ambulances that were parked outside now hauled most of the mangled participants off to local hospitals, where hundreds of them spent a week or more in recovery.

As would be expected, George was in high demand on the TV talk shows. The typical first question he was met with was, "Given the disaster of the wire cage experiment, what do you plan to do next?" George's answer was always the same:

"Bob [or Freddie, or Chrystal], this was no disaster. As a pilot project, it was a great success. It revealed the depths of negative energy stored in the American psyche--energy we are going to have to drain, if this country has any future. You know, we are constantly hearing about the need to 'get America back on track'. Well, this is how to do it. Think of it as draining the pus of an infection. If a bunch of words can push the American public right over the edge, then it's safe to say that we are dealing with a whole lotta pus--metaphorical pus, infecting the body politic. Myself, I'm looking forward to Wire Cage Experiment No. 2."

And the rest is history. As the "pus" was drained from the American people, a certain (limited) restoration of sanity settled over the land. "I think it's safe to say," George finally announced, "That we have made America great again."

(c)Morris Berman, 2019


Anonymous Henri said...

Homeland Security wants face scans of US citizens @ all airports

The Bush admin did a good job consolidating all the departments that muck with people’s life and liberty for fun and profit into one handy, abolishable department.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers!


Terrific story! I laughed so hard, I pissed myself. I'm thinking that we need to develop a sit-com around "The Wire Cage Experiment." As for actors to play the characters:

Adam Driver as George Walraven
Keri Russell (Lucy Boynton?) as George's wife
Tina Fey as Brittany the housewife
Scatman Crothers (Is he still around?) as Lorenzo the insurance salesman
Sam Elliott as the guy who calls out the game as rigged
Mark Ruffalo as guy in Tarzan outfit
Jack Nicholson as Rev. Pierson J. Flanksteak
John Goodman as Senator Riggins

What do you think?


1:24 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Doctor Berman,
Perhaps the words “2nd Amendment” and “Happy Holidays” also could be shouted out in the story to stir the participants up inside the wired cage. Also, to ensure a large viewing audience NBC shouldn't schedule the program if the competing network, Fox, has our modern day Roman gladiator combat in a cage—also known as ultimate fighting—happening at the same time.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Krakhed said...

Dr. B- Thank your for that short story. Very funny.

Lots of Amerikan collapse in the headlines today.

Mom kills kids and stages hanging:

Sell your baby for cash$$$:

Fuck the poor in the USA:

Necrophilia in the headlines:

5:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


All gd, all gd. The worse, the better.


Gd news. The story was designed to extract as much urine as possible. As for cast of characters: pretty gd, yr list. But if Chrystal Walraven has a husband, I suppose he cd play George. Brittany then cd be played by Brittany Carulli, and maybe we cd get Lorenzo Riggins to do the senator. The real question, of course, is how to get Shaneka Torres in there.


5:30 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Great story, and all too true. "Abortion" would be another word to shout; check this out-

[The bill] "would require doctors to attempt to re-implant ectopic pregnancies- a medical impossibility- or face charges of 'abortion murder' (a legal invention.)"

In other good news, Tulsi is still hanging in there. She reported that she met her November fundraising goal of 40,000 new donations, and she did it just days after reaching the 200,000 individual donor requirement to qualify for the next presidential debate. A Tulsi-Marianne ticket would be great.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Very excited abt Tulsi. Am still working on my new bks, "Cornerstones of the Gabbardistic Weltanschauung" and "Gabbardism for Dummies." Altho if she doesn't bring Shaneka Torres with her as Secy of State, I'll be sorely disappointed. Meanwhile, more Americans are turning to Tulsism, which can only be a gd thing.


7:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I love America, and I love our government. I don' care what anybody says.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

The torture drawings are disgusting. The US is leaving a slime trail that will be visible from Elon Musk's rocket taking him and Bezos to Mars.

I seem to remember one of the America Twilight (excuse for improper name) books discussing Jamestown, Dr. B? Maybe I am wrong. A reminder of the legacy of the original English settlement, not PLymouth-

@Birney- be sure to ask anybody you see taking petiiton signatures if it is to get Gabbard or Williamson on the primary ballot. f so, do ass I did and sign them both! I saw the same person a couple of days later still collecting signatures and it turns out that Gabbard is paying $3 a signature. Gatther up a group and in true American fashion negotiate a package deal- will they give you $1 a signature in order to make $3???

7:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan D-

Tulsi has gone on record as being a 'hawk' on the "war on terror," and OK with torture. A great human being. Sketches remind me of concentration camp art.

Jamestown? WAF, maybe; I can't remember.


8:15 PM  
Anonymous Flyingspaghettimonstr said...

Any1 notice how amerikkkans can't read anything over 500 words? They always need oversimplified, "easy to read" books/articles (also with lotsa pics ), whenever they DO read.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous joris huysmans said...

Earlier this evening I heard this song from the early 1990s called "American Dreaming" by Australian group Dead Can Dance. The lyrics resonate with me much more now than when I first heard this song as a teen:

I need my conscience to keep watch over me
To protect me from myself
So I can wear honesty like a crown on my head
When I walk into the promised land
We've been too long American dreaming
And I think we've all lost the way
Forlorn somnambulistic maniacal in the dark

I'm in love with an American girl
Though she's my best friend
I love her surreptitious smile
That hides the pain within her

And we'll go dancing in the rings of laughter
And live along by the shores

Yeah-ee, on the lea the rising wind blows
Fay-hee, on the lea the rising wind blows
How long how long?

Turned back by the foot of the doorway
Never lost and found
We've been too long American dreaming
I think we've all lost the heart
Forlorn somnambulistic maniacal in the dark

Yeah-ee, on the lea the rising wind blows
Fay-hee, on the lea the rising wind blows
How long how long?

12:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And people write me, say I shdn't say Americans are degraded buffoons!


3:14 AM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Nearly continuous coverage on NPR about the new food stamp restrictions, but I was on food stamps during Bush II's 2nd term and Obama's 1st, and if you're a single, able-bodied adult under 50, they were always hard as hell to get. If you worked at all and made any money at all, your benefits were $10 or $15 a month. You had interviews, meetings, all the time. They'd take you off benefits then put you on, then take you off again. If I had 2 good days panhandling or 4 average ones I'd get as much money, meet nice people, and have some control over my fate. Jump through all the hoops for food stamps and they could still kick you off - you had no control. When I turned my back on the whole thing I had $600-odd on my card, which I cut up.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Anons. You need a real handle to participate in this blog. E.g., George Walraven.


9:56 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Dr. Berman,

A hilarious story and a very accurate description of our current moment. America is a circus.

In more declinism news, the quality of American jobs has deteriorated since 1990. According to the article, 63% of all jobs that were created since 1990 were low-wage, low-hour jobs.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Rego said...

The state of data privacy and why we need a Department of Technology

A friend wrote this essay on data liberty, privacy, policy and human rights.

Smart guy...Seems to me all that would happen is President Trump would elect some crony like Arjit Pai, and that would be that.

10:31 AM  
Blogger delete said...

Good morning Dr Berman, Wafers/Waferettes

In times gone by going to the movies involved an intermission.
A hustle perhaps (bathroom break, popcorn, refreshment). Visits
here can be mentally discouraging for some but is obviously
offset by the value of insightful commentary offered by participants.

As an intermission offering for your reading enjoyment may I suggest
'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' by non other than the late Gonzo
journalist Hunter S Thompson. Further subtitled as "A Savage
Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Quite the ride.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Alex - I can identify with your frustrations with government "assistance". My son became handicapped last year when he was struck by a car. His only source of income now is Social Security Disability check of $1233 per month. Initially he was eligible for Medicaid but when he started receiving his checks, his income exceeded Medicaid limits. You cannot bring in more than $1040. So he lost Medicaid coverage. Of course, he's not able to pay for doctor visits and medications on $1233. No matter - the government giveth and the government taketh away. Viva la government!

The all-Christmas-music radio station in my area has Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah on its revolving playlist this year. Either no one at the station has listened to the words or they're too stupid to understand them. If they had, they would realize (maybe) that the song is about the love affair between David and Bathsheba and has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. Scotty, beam me up.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers,

"You got my order wrong" dept.:

Victor Jimmy Castro, 28, arrested for assaulting McDonald's employee. Reason? You guessed it: wrong order.

Jerk-off nation dept.:

Susan Roscillo arrested for masturbating Robert Kellogg in broad daylight, in front of 12-yr-old kid, on Thanksgiving.

MB, Wafers,

I had the most wonderful dream last night. A Wafer had figured out how to distill Waferism into a pill form, and distributed large doses of this drug to millions of Americans. It essentially triggered a crash course in the nature of the mind; insight into the nature of consciousness. Millions began to shift their identities and reshape their sense of self. They began to experience love and truth for the first time; realize sacredness; and understand what unity was all about. A profound shift was in the making that had the potential to destabalize existing cultural institutions. At one point in my dream, MB's image was projected onto large screens across the US repeating a Mantra: "Waferism is now in the water supply and infecting your bloodstream." Surrounding MB were three incredibly sexy blondes who formed a kind of shamanic drumming round. Between rythmic beats, they chanted the phrase, "Sour Milk Sea, MB...Sour Milk Sea, MB." The whole scenario was quite surreal. Melania Trump then emerged naked into a full lotus flower. Then I woke up!


1:06 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

You can't drain the swamp, but the pus sure can be drained. Thanks for the terrific read, Morris!

If you decide to use an epigraph, one designed to highlight the ultimate in bibliophilic mayhem, I suggest these lines from TSE's Four Quartets:

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting."

And here's an alternate title—all yours if you like it:

Armageddon A to Z

1:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


"Heads Rammed in Rumps" might also work.


Too bad you woke up. As for the beatoff scenario, looks like the whole country is doing it. ps: be careful abt length, thanks.


5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

News from across the pond:

The nail is officially in the coffin for Labour a week away from UK's General Election. Get ready for Trumpi's partner in crime BoJo to get elected with a majority in Parliament next week, "get Brexit done" (BoJo's campaign motto) and sink the UK further into chaos.

France meanwhile saw the biggest general strike since Macron's election today with the country at complete standstill. You say you want a revolution, well, you know ;-)


5:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

It just never ends:

6:21 PM  
Blogger Nesim Watani said...

Kanye, what's funny is the majority of the people claiming Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is mostly Blairite New Labour. Essentially, its a scheme of the Centrist Labour party to shut down the Corbyn wing. Corbyn, being rather spineless and due to how crazy UK is on Identity, has not been able to shake this crap. Always remember, the same people crying Anti-Semitism are the same people who are about Labour's support for Israel.

Anyway, this might be mean to say of the British, but they deserve the fate that the Tories will unleash on them. I hope in my time to see the Uk break up and the English to find out what irrelevant people they are. Think about it. They vote in BoJo, the US is working on destroying the British NHS, which BoJo will sell off to his American Masters, and hopefully, the English can enjoy American Style medicine. Let them enjoy saying "I have health issues but I cannot afford to go to the hospital.".

Let's go Decline! Hey Hey! HO HO! THE WEST HAS GOT TO GO!

6:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You cd be rt, but some evidence for yr arguments wdn't be out of place.


6:53 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Somewhat off topic but when I come across a video or story that might find a groove on the blog, I’ll post it. That, and I really have nowhere else to go :). For me this video is one of the taproots of American screen addiction. It’s creepy to get young kids bonded to a tv illusion in the face of national tragedy. For every seven yr old exposed to internet porn tonight, Fred Rogers is culpable.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Macdonald said...

John Gray reviews The Evolution of Moral Progress: A Biocultural Theory by Allen Buchanan and Russell Powell in The New York Review of Books:

Prashant Keshavmurthy review Gray's Seven Types of Atheism:

9:57 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Dr. Berman – Loved the story. Thank you for sharing with us!

« Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king considers the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital… Romero went on to create his zombie empire several years later, and he says Rogers was complimentary. “He came and loved it. He was always a huge supporter over the years.” In fact, said Romero, Rogers called Dawn of the Dead “a lot of fun.”… "I originally wanted a local actress named Betty Aberlin, who was Lady Aberlin on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,” Romero told the Montreal Gazette. “He wouldn't allow that. I originally wanted to use her in the role of Barbra [in Night of the Living Dead] and Fred put his foot down and said no.”» (reference)

On the other hand, the actor playing the Chef on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would go on to play a featured zombie in Romero’s Day of the Dead and a psychopath in Silence of the Lambs. (reference)

12:31 AM  
Blogger nonewhatsoever said...

To Prof. Berman

Dear Professor, here are two links that pertain to the statements made by
Mr Nesim Watani. I hope the links work. The second link is a complete
report downloadable in pdf form. Note the introductory paragraph:

"We are approaching the 2019 general election in bizarre circumstances.
From the climate crisis to homelessness, Brexit to the NHS, the stakes
could scarcely be higher. Yet a story about the Labour Party that has
no basis in fact and whose partisan motivations are transparent is playing
a significant role in our national conversation and might even influence
the result."

And also the support of the excellent Norman Finkelstein whose two parents
survived the holocaust as children (his mother used to accompany him in
some of his presentations and it was possible to note the tattooed numbers
on her forearm)

I read this blog all the time. I do not contribute because I do not have much
useful to say. This time is an exception. Best wishes to all.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you. In future, pls watch length (half pg max).


8:20 AM  
Anonymous Jesse Barry said...

Was Camus offed by the KGB? Wow.

What Jacques Derrida Understood About Friendship ⁦/ New Yorker⁩

8:40 AM  
Blogger Xair said...

Americans, always attending to the most pressing of needs. You just can't make this shit up!!!

9:39 AM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Doctor Berman,
I forgot to mention something above in my respective recommended ideas to be included as part of the book's script. When a few on the contestants are entering the steel cage before the competition begins, they perhaps could be shown by NBC introducing themselves to one another. Of course every single one of them can begin with our America's famous altruistic, “How are you doing?” greeting. Speaking of that:
“How are you doing?”, said the staid checkout cashier today whom I've regularly and vice-a-versa seen at the small local supermarket I frequent. “Not too good, ” I replied. “I dropped my glasses in the parking lot. They're probably all scratched.”
She promptly removed what little original eye contact she had attempted to make. She then proceeded to robotically complete pricing the groceries without saying anything else, save for the disingenuous corporate required, “Thank you,” and the usual predictable, “Have a nice day,” as she handed me my change.
I was the only customer in line. You would think I cordially could chew the fat a little with her since we see each other often in this somewhat cozy local neighborhood place. But no. There's little or no human interaction where I live on Long Island. It's all business here in America. As Doctor Berman noted in an interview, “Its always stood for one thing, and that's money.”
When you literally walk out the door, that's all that matters! I learned this sad fact of life—“American” life, that is—years ago. God, what a country!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

It’s never too early to get the little shavers started, says Wayne LaPierre.
A Florida couple stops at a Goodwill store and buys a gift for a baby shower they’re going to. Instead of the Baby Einstein bouncy seat they expected to be in the box, the father-to-be opens it at the party to find a loaded semiautomatic rifle.

Twenty-year-old Asia Vester, ordering from the drive-through lane of a Memphis, Tennessee McDonald’s discovers that instead of the jelly she’d requested, the hapless employee minding the window had given her ketchup instead. An exchange of words was followed by Vester pulling her piece and pointing it at the workers. Surveillance video allowed the police to track her down. In that inimitable phrase employed by the Brits, she is assisting the police with their enquiries.

A 65-year-old Raleigh man has died after an incident outside a Papa John’s pizza establishment in north Raleigh. The man made the mistake of stepping into a space the accused couple wished to park in. The male of the pair got out and pistol-whipped the man, who died on Monday.

2:44 PM  
Blogger delete said...

Good morning Dr Berman, Wafers/Waferettes

If a may ride on the back of one of Dr Berman’s past posts
“Just feeling a little 60s nostalgia “. A possible new theme song after Nov 2020 reelection of Trump should be “Dancing in the Streets” the Kinks version. I am surprised it has not been played at some of Trump’s rallies. Martha
and the V’s might be better pick for the black Republican vote perhaps. Hell alternate playing them based on the locale.

Calling out around the world
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer's here and the time is right
For dancing in the street
They'll be dancing in Chicago
Down in New Orleans
In New York City
All we need is music, sweet music
There'll be music everywhere
There'll be records playing
Dancin', swayin'
Dancing in the street…..etc.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Nikolas said...

Was in the library yesterday when all of a sudden some guy started shouting about how the govt wasn't giving him the same privileges as the rest of the blacks, and how they were going to lock them all up for drugs. Didn't fully get the gist, but something along those lines. It seems amerikkkan libraries nowadays have become magnets 4 nut-jobs, since hardly anybody reads anymore. This place is truly a shithole.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

There's something deeply creepy about Pete Buttigieg. Besides looking like the Beatles old manager, Brian Epstein, I believe Buttigieg is a corporate robot assembled in a laboratory somewhere. This article exposes the real Mayor Pete: spending 3 yrs as a "whiz kid" for the evil global capitalist consulting giant, McKinsey & Company.

Meanwhile, Biden is losing control and imploding:

Biden called some Iowa farmer a "damn liar" over a question about Hunter Biden. Biden then challenged the guy to a push-up contest. What a fucking moron. Like Hillary, Biden is putting on an act because he doesn't want to respond to questions w/a straight answer. The farmer was on point, and Biden didn't like it and lost control.


3:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You violated both the length rule and the time rule. People who keep doing this usually get dropped from the blog. Up2u.


These are wonderful things.


Months ago, I said all we needed to know abt Biden was Biden, Schmiden. To this list we can add Bernie, Schmernie; Tulsi, Schmulsi; Warren, Schmarren; and impeachment, schmimpeachment. Have I left anything out?


Next time lean over and whisper to her, "Yr a turkey." Cd be interesting expt.


5:50 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Wafer Joe: Similar experience with the USA-ers at the check out line.


Had an eager beaver--"how ya doin' wow you like coffee, are ya doin good? with lots of fake smiling and fake cheeriness. I love Christmas, do you celebrate Christmas?" I responded no, but my spouse does. However, it is way too commercial in the states and void of any real meaning, just buying stuff."--all stated in a matter fact way-not aggressive.

All of a sudden the cashier froze, no response, face pale, quickly handed the receipt, and I left. Guess I shoulda stated how much I love the holidays and love the love, and doin' great while smiling alot.

Another case: Sitting in a US restaurant, eating a meal, every 3-5 min some overly eager beaver waiter asking how the meal is, everything ok, are you sure, EVERY 3-5 min. No peace, no quiet, no contemplation. Then slapping the dessert menu even though I'm not even 1/2 way done w / the meal yet? Perhaps, a US up-sell, or hurry up tactic.

It's was a brotherhood/sisterhood of empty fuck ups. The US was truly demented. A fake, real shit hole.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Hans Castorp said...

Another model American -
Woman pulls gun on McDonald's employees over ketchup/jelly mix-up

8:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


'Gun' bothers me. Where was her AK-47?


The thing to do with the cashier is lean over and say, "I guess it's hard to be real, isn't it?" (She might pass out)


8:45 PM  
Anonymous OTC said...

8:54 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

trying to stay sane - I think you need to lawyer up, or at least use sources like The Nolo Press or even r/legaladvice on Reddit, but there should be a local Legal Aid Society or something ...

I make more than $1040 a month but am back on California's Medicaid, called Medi-Cal. the first question I'd have is whether disability benefits are "income".

I even got partial refunds for money I'd sent to pay some medical bills, due to my writing all over their bills which they'd sent me trying to double-charge, with angry red marker and threatening to lawyer up, myself.

When in Rome...

3:07 AM  
Anonymous cormorant said...

It's been a while since I contributed but I still enjoy dipping in to chart the ongoing decline of the US and the Capitalist system in general. More short stories! They remind me of Gogol's absurd stories on the lunacy of Tsarist Russia.

Meanwhile, stuff that's been covered here before but expressed in pretty clear terms. For the first time in history, life expectancy is decling, and this is especially acute among Americans in their prime of life. Much of the causes are down to deaths of despair: i.e stemming from alcoholism, drug overdoses, general stress and terrible food etc.

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

The wonders of the American health care system.

More than 13 percent of Americans say that a friend or family member passed away in the last five years after being unable to afford treatment for a medical condition.

Americans are turning to underground markets to obtain medication.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Here is an essay that describes Donald Trump's election and presidency as a dose of reality.

"The reality that there are a lot more misguided, racist, ignorant, selfish and downright disgusting people than you ever thought possible. The reality that the progressive agenda, which was making significant headway in the last few decades, wasn’t as well received as we wish it were."
True this author seems to think reform is possible but he gets part of what the Trump presidency is about.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I recall Philip Roth writing somewhere that "we thought the country was ours [i.e., the liberals'], and then we discovered that it wasn't." Nixon's election in '68 was a similar wake-up call; even the defeat of Stevenson in the 50s showed this. The conundrum today is that the progressives aren't much better--Hillary being a star example. She's as awful as any Trumpite, imo, and millions of Americans think she's jus' fine.


9:16 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Saturday greetings Wafers everywhere from Cascadia!

Finally, Merica has a ruler taking a stand against low-flush toilets. This is must-seeWafer entertainment. My spouse and I were laughing so hard when we heard Trumpi’s exposition that we watched again twice:

Meanwhile, a wealthy neighborhood in Seattle has had AI security cameras installed by an outfit called Flock Safety to track auto license numbers and pedestrians to keep watch for undesirables. Please, no jokes about bird brains of the flock in the wire cage:

10:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


These are the sort of developments that a dying nation needs to concern itself with. Hearty applause from this quarter.


10:52 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

A nice appreciation of the art critic John Berger, who many may remember form the 1970s. "...Berger’s distrust of theoretical remedies to human problems... (I)t accorded with his respect for practice and social knowledge... He was more concerned with everyday gestures and decisions: the choices people either make or fail to make in their own lives..."

Is focusing on one's personal relationship to others and society, abandoning any dreams and work towards larger systemic change, a typical 1970's capitalist reaction to commodify and neutralize opposition? Am I simply adopting a variation of corporate 'mindfulness' BS? Whenever I do look at the overall direction it not only seems hopeless, but history shows that it is actually hopeless.

Amazon is creating ways to alert you when someone 'suspicious' is in your neighborhood. And people actively sign up for this hell-

Someone called the police on a UPS driver because he was walking around a neighborhood going to doorways with boxes.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Nice one MB. Captures today's reality perfectly.

Otherwise, not much to say except that we all are right on course for our destruction. Climate crisis has no immediate solutions. Science within the capitalist world system will come up with all sorts of data and analysis, and will suggest solutions. But anyone with a little understanding of the fact that our science is part and parcel of the same world system will realize that there are no solutions within it. Uighurs are still being incarcerated and Kashmir is still in lockdown. The Anglo world is unraveling, and Putin-Erdogan-Xi and company are becoming ever more powerful.

Will end with a link to this nice piece on `Englishness' in the context of the upcoming British elections by Pankaj Mishra:

England's last roar: Pankaj Mishra on nationalism and the election.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Forced to choose between unions and poor parents of school-aged children. Warren chose unions.

"Elizabeth Warren boasts of helping to kill effective reform, tells urban parents to deal with it themselves."

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking a live stream of a stadium where Americans dressed in gladiator costumes fight each other (or lions) for one year of health insurance.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Bannon predicts she is running and I agree, she isn’t going to b able to resist getting in - hell for that matter maybe she is the only one who cld derail Trumpo.

Another Face of America pic:

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just look at the guy's face, fer chrissakes.


For a good essay on fanaticism, check out "Dear Zealots," by Amos Oz.


2:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

A stunning film: "The Tobacconist."--mb

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Flyingspaghettimonstr said...

I've got more quotes, this time from folks who've escaped Amerikkka

P.s, looking @ the reviews to WAF is quite the revelation...most of those drones deflect attention on the rest of the world. They're so wrapped in their illusions, it's comical

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Lanham said...

Barack and Michelle Obama Buy an $11.75 Million Home on Martha’s Vineyard from Celtics owner Wycliffe Grousbeck

....Went into the Oval Office broke, if I recall. Wha' happened?

5:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A couple of amoral, degraded buffoons who knew how to play the game of getting into the elite class very well. Millions of progs still think they're great. This is what America has come down to.


6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

@Dan Daniel - I just finished the article you recommended on learning from Jamestown. I found it one of the most hilarious articles I have read in a long time.

"So why would a Jamestown-themed holiday be better than a Plymouth-themed holiday? Firstly, the story of Jamestown captures many important American values, such as: showing up in a home that is not your own, and wondering where all the food is already. Secondly, what better way to really ratchet up the tension at an awkward family gathering than by drawing straws to see whose child will get cooked for dinner? (The eating-other-humans-out-of-bitter-necessity period of Jamestown history is officially known as “The Starving Time,” incidentally, which is also a way better name for an eating-centered holiday than “Thanksgiving.”)"

9:01 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

Mike R.,
I have an idea that works wonders in a restaurant. When the waiter or waitress comes up to you and asks, “How is everything?”, reply, “I could use another drink. Can you please get me another coke?” ( or whatever it is you may need). Of course they're are expecting a, “Just fine”, or some automatic polite equivalent to it. What they aren't expecting is to have to go back into the kitchen to bring you out something else. And it beats having to wave them down when your drink is empty, anyway. LOL.
Here's one for when a panhandler approaches you for money with his or her usual opening con artist line, “Excuse me. I'm wondering if you can help me out.” Before they are able to say anything else, immediately reply, “If you're looking for money, no.” That catches them off guard and shoos them right away.
And getting back to the “How are doing”?, at the checkout line, some places even try to pull suggestive selling on you. For instance, I was at a Bed, Bath, and Beyond recently. When I was making my purchase, the cashier asked me if I was interested in any socks that were on sale ( right there at the register). Once again, Madison Avenue shall go to any extreme possible to separate you from your money, all in the name of “free market capitalism”.
God, what a country!

9:47 PM  
Anonymous rogue composer said...

Checkout associate:"How are you doing?" i always reply: "Same as the Earth." The responses are almost always the same: blank stares. About says it all. Or the other: "Have you found everything?" Reply: "i'm looking for a sane society." That garners a bit more interest...sometimes...
Thank you Morris for all your thoughts and humor. i look forward to those short stories, maybe even one title: "How Are You Doing?"

7:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A scene in Tina Fey's movie, "Mean Girls": she goes into a video store, which is manned by several teenagers (a couple of whom are her students), and makes some random joke. They just stare at her, completely uncomprehending. I wonder what percentage of American teens are grim and humorless.


9:46 AM  
Anonymous Vino said...

_A banana duct-taped to a wall was sold for $120,000 at Art Basel Miami_

Late Stage Plutocracy!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Wanted to share this one again from the Guardian. American democracy. Has it always been for sale like this?

Koch Brothers

12:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cdn't run it, sorry: we have a half pg max rule here. Pls compress by a third, and re-send. Thanks.


1:39 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Am I missing something here? I don’t get it. Someone actually paid $120,000 for a banana duct taped to a wall? This is now actually passing for ART? IS this ART? What kind of Art is it? Or Is this just another example of the degradation and decadence of Society?

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Hi Dr. Berman 'n all:

It's becoming increasingly obvious that virtually everything currently regarded as important in American politics - Trump's impeachment, championing 'democracy' in Hong Kong, the Democratic Party candidate selection process - is being manufactured by the American ruling classes to divert attention from actually substantive issues that might make a difference to ordinary Americans and subjects of the American empire abroad. The entire new cycle is a giant puppet show.

-Northern Johnny

3:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't think there's any conspiracy going on, unless stupidity is a type of conspiracy. I.e., I think the elite and the media really do think this crap is impt, and don't realize that it is all theater. Just my opinion.


Keep in mind that a large proportion of the American public is mentally ill, and the rest are douche bags.


5:46 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

@ Anjin-san- The writer, Brianna Rennix, works as a lawyer for immigrant children and families about to be deported on the Texas/Mexican border. Along with some great humorous riffs, she can write with passion. Two things so often missing on the left, humor and passion. In a recent piece about a (sort of) "child-saint who defends both travelers in peril and the unjustly imprisoned"
"I used to not think of myself as an angry person—and stupidly, I used to believe this was a virtue of some kind... Well, that was fine, back when all I had to be annoyed about was some workplace drama, or an unrequited crush, or someone not doing the dishes. I had no fucking clue. In our immigration system, you sometimes run across people who are so petty, who are so ready to put their egos above the real lives of other human beings, that they feel like some kind of comic-book parody of a villain.... These are things monsters do. This is what our country does to the poor and helpless, in a time of prosperity and peace...
"I am so angry that I am rapidly losing the ability to communicate with people and their facile opinions... In the past I would have thought these people were moderates, probably. Now I think they are the accomplices of extreme evil. I don’t know what to do with all the rage in my body. And this is how I feel merely as an advocate and onlooker. If my family and friends were being tortured in this way, how would I live? Would my heart simply explode? How are there so many people in our country carrying this feeling in their body every day?"
[many of the fast food fights highlighted here may be seen as manifestations of the internal rage of those abused daily by other facets of the collapsing culture]

5:51 PM  
Anonymous willy robinson said...

I like this story - up to the wire cage experiment.

Respectfully it would have more narrative energy if efforts are met with failure as well as success. I can see poor Mr. impresario sweating buckets for two weeks in rehearsal as his subjects fail to trigger at the keywords. They look at him limply and expect good things to happen - they find patience, and even the energy to get along with their fellow lab rats. Why? Because he's an authority figure in his TV hustler uniform. But when the word gets out that the show's going to be pulled, that's when the spell is broken. Maybe they hadn't really been expecting pool-side cocktail parties in the Hollywood hills, but they had at least taken for granted that someone was keeping an eye on ratings. In the existential terror that this oversight created, yelling out 'FEMINISM' is suddenly like calling in an air strike...

7:08 PM  
Blogger delete said...

Good day Dr Berman and Wafers/Waferettes

Perhaps watch for it.

“One of a handful keeping my father’s torch lit.”
—Kelly Carlin (George Carlin’s daughter)

8:50 PM  
Blogger Krakhed said...

A little toilet theater--

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Wafers, MB,

4th consecutive day of general strikes in France over Macron's pensions bill. Public transport is still almost completely shut down and the country continues to be at standstill.

Macron isn't budging for now and plans to go through with the bill, but he's playing with fire. The middle class - i.e. the Gilets Jaunes - is increasingly seeing their state benefits being shrunk by Macron's neoliberal agenda, while taxes and salaries stay the same and the cost of living is continuing to increase. They're not happy about it and things aren't going to get any rosier in France in the next 5 years if nothing changes that's for sure.


2:34 AM  
Anonymous Ibsen said...

Mr. Berman and the others: Adam Curtis was discussed. This short film might be a good introduction to him:
Century of the Self (2002), about Edward Bernays, and The Power of Nightmares (2004), about the links between radical islam and neo-conservatism, might be his main works. But I personally prefer Bitter Lake (2015), a slightly more experimental film about Afghanistan. His latest, Hypernormalisation (2016), had interesting bits, but seemed to me to have been made in a hurry before the US election. I don't always agree with him, but he is an interesting voice. One topic he has worked with is stagnant culture, how conservative culture is these days.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous A Swiss NMI said...

Explosive - a Pentagon Papers moment: “senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false..hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable”

The Graveyard of Empires

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Uchin said...

Change in Finland: A government led by five women and the world’s youngest prime minister

I'm always reminding myself that I still have dual citizenship!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Vietnam redux, obviously. I think with all of America's post-WW2 wars, the goal was not to win; it was simply to be at war. Ultimately, the US doesn't really know how to do anything else. Along w/this is the intense desire to make other nations into America--the only way to live.


Sounds like he's opening the door to Marine.


9:40 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

More on the emerging homeless crisis in Los Angeles and the conflicting and failing efforts to get people off the streets even temporarily if not permanently. Of course no one is asking why our economy is producing increasing numbers of homeless people, guess its just another externality capitalists foist off onto the taxpayer!

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Piet said...

John Berger's best essays "convey a miraculous gratitude that the world comes into view at all. He was drawn [to] religious themes: longing and exile, encounter and estrangement, leave-taking and return....The question, [Berger] once said, was of ‘continually learning to be embedded in life’...Embeddedness...was about the double anchors of community and place....It required the help of others...because ‘they are real and therefore...being with them, you become real in that moment’ [and] it required an individual openness to the physicality of the world: the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the trees and animals and rain."

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Wafer Joe: Thank you kindly for suggestions when dealing with fake greetings and empty smiles from USA-ers. The loud musak (to eat faster and leave), constant smiles/how's everything--all for tips and/or up-sells.

Opinion: It's mind boggling that anyone with a working brainstem would want to emigrate to the US. Unless, the US propaganda/marketing arm is such a magnetic pull that immigrants get duped left, right, and center to come on down and spin the US "opportunity" wheel.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Got a link that may b of some interest 4 wafers. It's a blog showcasing dead malls across amerikkka though it doesn't appear active any longer

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Finsten Gauger said...

Isben, and MB, and Shinichi:

Re: Adam Curtis Doc

Did I share any of these Adam Curtis documentaries b4? There's two more parts to this one and a recent one called HyperNormalisation.

Agree with Isben in that they are well made films but I don't always agree w/ the interpretations. Curtis seems to subscribe to 'manufactured consent' theories a bit more than WAFers generally do.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Meredith said...

"A geneticist at Harvard Medical School is working on a dating app that matches users based on their DNA. The goal: to eliminate all genetic diseases. 60Minutes reports, tonight"

A new dating site: E-ugenics! Yikes!

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Leon M. said...

" What confluence of social trends has led to the sex symbol's current eclipse? At the heart of ancient myths about beautiful, mysterious women was a quest pattern: The hero endured a series of perilous challenges to win the lady or merely to survive an encounter with a magically deceptive temptress. At the deepest level, the woman represented special or occult knowledge, a secret treasure that could only be won by extraordinary men.

Jump-cut to today's humdrum office world, where men and women sit side by side, doing the same routine jobs. Turf sharing and overfamiliarity between the sexes have produced boredom and simmering resentments. Meanwhile, casual, oafish hookup culture has spread from college campuses, turning formal courtship rituals into creaky antiques. Sex has lost its mystique. "

Interesting, I wonder if Paglia reads Kerouac?

“ Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious. ”
― Jack Kerouac

6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


When a culture gets degraded, the individuals in it get degraded, and vice versa (microcosm/macrocosm). Americans wdn't know mystique if it bludgeoned them over the head. Empty buffoons have no mystery in their lives.


7:29 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

“I know he didn’t mean it, but Fred Rogers couldn’t have designed a better gateway for the “plug-in drug”—as it was dubbed in 1977 by journalist and anti-TV warrior Marie Winn—if he’d tried. Incidentally, a few decades before she published her best-selling anti-television screed, Ms. Winn was a champion on the game show Dotto. That is, until a rival contestant found a notebook in which she’d jotted down the answers in advance, an event that led directly to the quiz show scandals, perhaps the nation’s first collective reckoning with television’s dark side.”

7:47 PM  
Blogger Joe McIlnen said...

To Mike R.,
I for one happen to think the United States' marketing arm, also euphemistically known in its moniker as “Madison Avenue”, is singlehandedly the most powerful brainwashing organization/industry there is in the entire world. They employ professional psychologists to control people. At the same time they are the most stealthy. And perhaps with the exception of a very rare few “voices in the wilderness' ( the late Vance Packard is an example that comes to mind) not a word ever is mentioned about them. Its tentacles, I am willing to guess, now reach to all the corners of the Earth. Their idiotic commercials that appeal to attention deficit-deprived individuals, for example, now are shown on the BBC.
Over a hundred years ago, immigrants were duped by the term that said “the streets are paved with gold”. I am more than willing to bet that thousands of people from other parts of the world ( especially Europe) took this literally.

9:53 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

How Absurd....a 34 year old is a KID, and doesn’t have the life experience and WISDOM to be the leader of a country...Neither does Tulsi Gabbard at age 38.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Tulsi just needs to enter the White House flanked by advisers with deep wisdom. I recommend Shaneka Torres, Lorenzo Riggins, Chrystal Walraven, and Freddie Wadsworth.


Fine, but we are big on evidence on this blog. Anyone can vent an opinion, after all; it's no big deal. Try to provide links next time. Thanks.


10:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Heil Hitler dept.:

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Robyn Almeida said...

Rethinking the Infamous Milgram Experiment in Authoritarian Times

7:18 AM  
Blogger Xair said...

Just another example of how far gone the country is.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

An interesting exploration of human identity and history through paleoarcheology by Barbara Ehrenreich-

"But it’s the Paleolithic caves we need to return to, and not just because they are still capable of inspiring transcendent experiences and connecting us with the long-lost “natural world.” We should be drawn back to them for the message they have reliably preserved for over ten thousand generations...[I]t will be worth the effort because our Paleolithic ancestors, with their faceless humanoids and capacity for silliness seem to have known something we strain to imagine.

"They knew where they stood in the scheme of things, which was not very high, and this seems to have made them laugh. I strongly suspect that we will not survive the mass extinction we have prepared for ourselves unless we too finally get the joke."

9:04 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Here is California's solution to homelessness - debtors prison! And the forfeiture of whatever assets these homeless may have. Apparently in the infinite compassion of Californians, homelessness is a crime!! No questions as to why these people are homeless - whether the prevailing economy might be to blame. Ah! America!

11:13 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...


My theory is this: most decent people quickly realize how alienating work structures are and go numb, being alienated and frequently hopping jobs.

That study misses the fact that the most mentally ill are not those that leave, but the lifers. They don't even think there is a problem; they want to double down on the bullying by joining upper management.

I would tell any young person just starting out looking to make a career: learn to lie, scapegoat, and manipulate, and there will always be a job for you. You will never be called out as long as you obey a few hard and fast legal rules.

It doesn't matter if you are in a woke workplace or a traditional small town business. There is one bully personality type that is unquestionable according to the American rules of the game. You can be Trump or Hillary, but make sure you are at least one of them.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

@Lyon @MB... You have touched a point close to my heart. Having grown up in a (virtually) pre-industrial and not-so-individualistic culture, I can appreciate well what Lyon is talking about. Even apart from the man-woman relation, generally, the sense of mystery is disappearing from our lives the more machine-dependent we become. From my limited time in the industrial world, I believe it disappeared there long ago. I still find darkness at night to be sacred, to quote Louis Armstrong. It gives me a sense of end of the ordinary where light ends, and the beginning of endless possibilities where darkness starts. I still see vividly the reflection of a single start in the clear new moon sky in a river that I saw years ago. I still can sense how likely it is to rain during the day, or how likely that there will be a dust storm in my area, just by going out in the open in the morning. I can smell the level of humidity in the summer air. Unfortunately, the climate is changing too fast, even at the local scale, for me to keep track of the changes, and to read the signs of nature. Absolutely damaging has been the intrusion of white lights. ( For the insects also ). Nights have lost their seriousness. Life has become confined to the boundaries of mundane possibilities.

I perhaps got too personal and emotional. But I do feel that my known world is slipping away very fast.

12:14 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

Mark R. - The streaming-in of starry-eyed immigrants can only be explained by not only the US policies making their own countries lethal hellscapes but said immigrants' mental picture of the US being decades out of date.

That was certainly the case when I left Hawaii in 1986. Looking back, I really thought I was going to a land that had the opportunities and social mobility it did in 1966. I had a house and a white Toyota truck clearly in mind, and figured I'd have 'em in a few years (white Toyota trucks figure largely in the aspirations of a lot of Hawaii kids).

Nevermind I was in a dying occupation (electronics) or that the economy as a whole had entered freefall. The propaganda is very, very strong.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Cress Remar said...

Xair -

Fantastic piece by Ehrenreich. I know a few of her works are referred to on this blog on occasion, but this essay reminded me of my favorite book of hers, "Blood Rites"

12:26 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Re: Afghanistan Papers

When the Afghan War broke out, I remember telling my students that I thought it was pretty dumb to invade an entire country in order to capture a single individual. I was laughed at.


Ernest Ford, 62, accused of battering his 60-year-old girlfriend over Trumpo's impeachment:


3:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out Ford's face. If this isn't the face of America, I dunno what is.


4:16 PM  
Anonymous Glans Butterworth, III said...

"covered california" the Oblundercare computer system to "enroll" the tax/fee subjects in us "health" "care"

Personal Experiences: computer system frequently crashes, freezing, rude 'customer' no service, lengthy holds 40mins+, clunky website with legalese, yet the outrageous US prices for the monthly "health" "care" are very clearly and cogently presented.

It's as if the govt wants to make it so difficult to care. Reminds me of B actor Reagan who wanted filing taxes to be excruciating.

What a shit hole-- T-2 yrs. Mike R and Joe--total agreement--what (recent) immigrant would 'want' to come to America unless they're brain damaged.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

American soldiers have been banned from one of the main streets in the Italian city of Vicenza after a brawl between soldiers and locals.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Herzog said...

The economic system of capitalism has been failing Americans for at least 40 years. (Since FDR's New Deal regulations and harm reduction began to be repealed under Reagan.)

Capitalism as a system that benefits the top 10% of the economic hierarchy almost exclusively is NEVER allowed to be discussed by the MSM.

The vast majority of Americans don't know what went wrong with their lives. They played by the rules and did what they were told to do and they failed or at least lost ground.

So they were implicitly and sometimes explicitly told to blame themselves; " you didn't work hard enough; you aren't smart enough; you live at 'the end of history' in the perfect economic system but your a loser of your own making.

It's no wonder people are at their rope's end.

Money is all that matters in America. You have to think about it; how to get it and do what you need to do to get more of it -- all the time. If you think of anything else, well, you're a looser and deserve your worthlessness... .

11:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Failure began with repeal of Bretton Woods in 1971; check out DAA ch. 2 for details. As for the self-blame etc., folks like Norman Vincent Peale, Oprah, and New Age gurus provided the ideological cover, while those folks got very rich. The American people were 'marks' (patsies), but remember that what makes a mark vulnerable is that he seeks to game the system as well. If hustling and greed are yr way of life, then you did a lot of it to yrself. How cd you not think it was going to turn around and bite you in the ass? (=karma) The most elementary facts of social and economic life are beyond the grasp of almost the entire population.


11:53 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Trump as dose of reality - yes, but too late to effect change in American culture. That he is the mirror in which we see ourselves, only means that we are a bit more self-aware, but not near enough to chart a new course, even if we wanted to, which we don't.

Mike R - No doubt, Madison Ave has done great damage to what was left of American life, but AMericans had and continue to have choices about how to respond: believe the lies they hear and see on TV and allow their minds to be hijacked by huskers or refuse to participate. Ads only work because people allow themselves to be swindled. Like the guy who gets taken in a con game.

Michael B - the homeless show us what we could become - so they must be removed from sight. The most lethal of sins in American civil religion/capitalism is economic failure. Which is always interpreted as one's own fault and for which one rightly is sentenced to a lifetime of hardship.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Massumi said...

Sad Socrates or happy pig? Does wellbeing = happiness + meaning? ⁦laphamsquart⁩ via ⁦aldaily⁩

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Calvin Storr said...

We need a major redesign of life

Interesting concepts in the article. But I respectfully disagree, roughly true: From 1200 to 1745, 21-year-olds would reach an average age of anywhere between 62 and 70 years. Before 100 BC you could expect to live to 72 in Rome (before lead pipes).

7:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think this notion of short lives in the past/long lives today is part of the myth of 'progress'. Of course, if you factor in stillborns and early child death in the past, you are going to get an avg of short life. Same is true of hunter-gatherers (see 'Wandering God'), who practiced infanticide as population control. Pt is, leaving this aside, what abt the children who made it? How long did they live? Seems to me, that's the issue.


Trump's historical role is not to change American culture; it's to bring it to its logical culmination. That's exactly what he's doing, by being the quintessential American: vulgar, boorish, ignorant, and the consummate hustler.


8:18 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

The Religion of America is Business and Money.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Is Trump the most transparent US Prez? Yes, I say, in the same sense as (-1) ‘yep I’m a crook and so is everyone else’ + (-1) ‘I’m here to tear it down’ = 2 (transparency)

re: Madison Avenue adverts are like micro doses of novocaine to the brain as the marionette strings (as MB has suggested) are fishooked into our cerebral cortex. As an experiment when watching commercial tv I turn off the sound and close my eyes then I will open them for 2 seconds tops and try to guess the ad. I don’t watch very many shows with ads but prob greater than 80% of the time I can name the advertisers proving, to me at least, their dominance and toxicity. Master hustles are they, but for fucks’ sake read the fine print b4 playing the game.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much for being the poster girl of feminism around the world huh?


12:01 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

More Popeye's chicken sandwich madness:

1. Nashville:

2. Milwaukee:

Best entertainment in America:


1:05 PM  
Anonymous Coleman said...

Every single part of this story is incredible and the kicker broke me

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B:

Here's a nice gallery of photos of Trump supporters at a rally in "Chocolate-town, USA."

(Hershey, in central PA, where Trump enjoys wide support.)

5:12 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Obama will step in to stop Bernie if he starts to get a big lead in the coming presidential primaries. All this over some mild redistribution of money away from the elites in America and little else! Obama is worse than simply being an empty suit!

Here is an intriguing novel by English author Joss Sheldon entitled "Individutopia: A novel set in neoliberal dystopia". He might have some interesting (and who knows, maybe funny and pathetic) insights about the future of the United States as well as the UK.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Flyingspaghettimonstr said...

Just finished Delillo's White Noise. What do u make of the ending? Jack's "plan" ultimately failed after changing several times, then he saves the very guy who boned his wife & gave her drugs. A bit bewildering, IMO.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Mrs Pfizer said...

cool cool!

Donald Trump Jr. Went to Mongolia, Got Special Treatment From the Government and Killed an Endangered Sheep — ProPublica

10:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mrs. P-

I've said it repeatedly: the end of an empire is not pretty.


10:50 AM  
Anonymous Marlon said...

"Almost all towns that erected cathedrals in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries had a population of less than 5000 men, women, and children. It is the equivalent of the people of Detroit erecting 150 Salisbury cathedrals before 2100."

Related: what's missing in America? Beauty & Longevity in our public structures

11:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cj, on this blog, sent me seasons 1-4 of a show called "Billions." Highly recommended. It not only provides an excellent portrait of the 1%, but of American culture/psyche in general. It's actually a v. gd analysis of why we are spiraling down into the pit.


12:16 PM  
Blogger delete said...

Good morning
Good Morning Dr Berman and Wafers/Waferettes

A couple of books to consider as book ends for your MB
library. The first has been recommended here before and
is excellent. American Exceptionalism and American Innocence by R. Sirvent and D. Haiphong The second is entitled
Cultural Imperialism..Essays on the Political Economy of
Cultural Domination. This one is a little harder to find which is very unfortunate but is well worth trying to locate
a library loaner if possible.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think I read the book by Said. Somebody needs to write a bk called "Degradation: The Endgame of the American Empire." I can scarcely believe some of the links posted on this blog. One wd think they came out of a sci-fi horror novel.


1:02 PM  
Anonymous cyrillia juniper said...


Lovely link to Lapham's Quarterly with its discussion of the three types of selves. The "redemptive self" is a uniquely American self, surely the basis of American hustling as so often discussed on this blog:

"Perhaps that is why in the United States, where the pursuit of happiness is written into the national DNA, the “redemptive self” is such a popular narrative. Here the arc of the story is from trouble to triumph: rags to riches, slavery to freedom, sickness to health, sin to salvation. “Americans deeply value stories of personal redemption,” the psychologist Dan P. McAdams has written." And he goes on to note its basis in Puritan culture.

The perspective one has on one's life can be either self-limiting or absolute freedom. I know which I would choose.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Quercus said...

What more can be said? As Michelle puts it, "Our values are the same"

But check out the third photo- Barak looks annoyed and a bit jealous- do you think Dubya is cracking on to Michelle?


4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wafers, MB,

The first results from today's UK General Election indicate that Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have overwhelmingly won the election and will have a big majority in Parliament (86 seats). Brexit will now definitely happen and the UK will very likely break apart within the next 5-10 years. Most importantly, Progs, just like Clinton against Trumpi in the US, have received a massive spanking. Expect them to go apeshit in the next couple of weeks, months and possibly years.

I am elated about all this. Even though he's a puppet of the British ruling class, BoJo is *still* respecting the Brexit referendum and he's going to be sticking a big finger to the neoliberal progressive european elite that smear the people.


5:18 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Massumi - personal redemption is also the basis of much of the New Testament; not so much the Hebrew Bible, which is based more on the salvation of the whole community.

You can also find evidence of it in conservative evangelical Christian sects. The focus is almost always on individual salvation - what I need to do to get to heaven; the journey from sin to forgiveness, wretchedness to grace - and the afterlife, rather than the state of the world in the here and now.

That nicely parallels the American journey of the rugged individual who, as McAdams says, journeys from trouble to triumph, slavery to freedom, rags to riches. Thus - American civil religion - with many tenets and traditions borrowed from Individual-focused Christianity.

On the Impeachment hearings - a game played by greedy men, for the most part, for their own advancement. Trump will emerge unscathed, and stronger, win a 2nd term and set decline in stone.

5:50 PM  
Blogger NeilW said...

Fantastic interview with Lewis Lapham on Lapham podcast. To me he was the best of old New York. And he's so funny

4:28 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Boris may be sticking his finger to the neoliberal progressive european elite, but only to present his arse to neoliberal US elite.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

There we have it, five more years of BoJo at Westminster, BoJo and Trupmi doing tango and so on.... Yes, you can explain it by 'people' revolting against the European elites, against the neo-liberal order that destroyed their lives and so on. But that do not make the 'people' saints. After all, they think it is OK to be casually mysoginstic, indecent, to lie through one's teeth constantly, to use words that incite violence against women. It is OK to be not just islamophobic, but to be utterly crude about it. Crudity is the essence of politics now, all over the world.

Was there also a feeling that Britain will be great again once the tether to the EU is severed? Lost glory of the empire, like MAGA slogan of Trumpi? Dunno.

But the global network of the far-right cannot be missed: BoJo praising NaMo during campaign, temples in England urging Hindu voters to vote against labor, and more direct influence of Indian right in British elections.

The 'people' will get screwed either way. So, WTF.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...



Indian et al.: It will take ages for Brexit to work itself out. Hence: Brexit, Schmexit.


9:11 AM  
Anonymous Adult Tolstoys said...

Re: The Brexit convo going on here,

I side with the views of Maajid Nawaz of Quilliam International, where he recounts Corbyn's affiliation w extremist Muslim groups & antisemitic individuals & collectives. He worries about Johnson's stupidity of course, but doesn't want some more immediate threat of racial violence or prejudice. Personally I'm thinking Johnson is just who they deserve, like we Trumpo, and I think Corbyn was once well intended but it seems he has paved the road to a hell.

"Since 2008, Corbyn’s Seamus Milne has been launching unprovoked attacks on Quilliam Org from Saruman’s Castle, the “Guardian”. When these RegressiveLeft forces joined with dangerous Islamists to seek to destroy liberal Muslims, we took the fight to them"

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Good run-down of the week here:

a highlight amongst others

"+ Making a deal with Trump on trade, the same day that you file articles of impeachment accusing him of being a lying, cheating bastard. That’s neoliberalism for you…"

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Swindler's List said...

Being 'labelled' warm, caring, or diligent can be "taboo" for many Americans says the US "university" article below.

They focused on the important things; words, semantics, and ways to superficially feel warm and fuzzy while trying to lift their ontologically empty lives up from the miseries of US "living."


3:04 PM  
Anonymous Krakhed said...

Betsy Devos is the leading intellectual we need. Fighting the good fight of fucking over the poor:

3:48 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

The Counterpunch essay Krampus Trumpus Rumpus essay by Susan Block is a real treat, as is her website.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

A bloody fistfight between two Wisconsin men was triggered by an argument over TV sitcom, "How I Met Your Mother":

It's official: we're a turkey nation.


5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Ya hafta see the faces of some of these characters to realize that the proposed uprising of the masses might be delayed just a little bit.


Links always welcome, thanks.


5:45 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Trying to be sane in an insane society has its costs. It's not free. One of the costs is alienation. If you stray too far from the economic, political and social consensus, you will be ostracized, ignored and possibly even barred from family gatherings. It's imperative to find others of like mind/Wafers or at least those willing to listen. We all need company. Finding it in America is not easy.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Ibsen said...

Highly recommended reading on the UK election, Jonathan Cook:

8:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd essay. I liked this paragraph:

"The younger generations have never known any other reality. The profit motive, instant gratification, consumer indulgence are the only yardsticks they have ever been offered to measure value. A growing number have started to understand this is a sick ideology, that we live in an insane, deeply corrupted society, but they struggle to imagine another world, one they have no experience of."

He's describing the UK. In the US, the notion of "a growing number" of the youth starting to understand anything at all is quite dubious.


8:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final"

--Rainer Maria Rilke

10:41 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Living in America will drive you insane -- literally

12:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Very impt article. I covered some of this material in AWTY. On the human level, the US is basically a meat grinder.


1:38 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

I stumbled on a book called "Human Nature", by David Berlinski that is rather good and I would recommend. It deals with many of the themes that we discuss here. Berlinski puts forth a nice refutation of Stephen Pinker in the book, and has a similar outlook to John Gray. Here is a link to pretty entertaining interview with, (retch!) Ben Shapiro.

I personally find Shapiro insufferable, and cringe every time I hear his nasally, whiny voice. He is definitely a weenie. But Berlinski is a true wordsmith and great in interviews, so you might enjoy this if you can deal with Shapiro's part in it. (In fairness, Ben makes some OK points here, and isn't too obnoxious, except when he's doing commercials.) Some people find Berlinski to be a bit too full of himself, but I enjoy his sense of humor and his fresh insights. And in his writing, there is usually a memorable turn of phrase every few lines.

If you enjoy this interview, Berlinski's other talks on Darwinism (He is an agnostic critic of much of NeoDarwinsm, much like the atheist Thomas Nagel, which is a fascinating issue in itself.) and "the pretensions of scientific atheism" are also quite memorable and entertaining. His book "The Devil's Delusion", is also first rate.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Cook's article conclusion: "We must head to the streets – as we have done before with Occupy, with Extinction Rebellion, with the schools strikes – to reclaim the public space, to reinvent and rediscover it. Society didn’t cease to exist. It wasn’t snuffed out by Thatcher. We just forgot what it looked like, that we are human, not machines. We forgot that we are all part of society, that we are precisely what it is."

Sorry pal, not gonna happen. As he says, BoJo is going to sink the UK further into chaos, but rather than pour himself a glass of champagne over this and celebrate the bad-is-good, he has his head up his ass like Hedges. "Head to the streets"? Did the guy ever visit a shopping mall in the UK lately to see who it is that he thinks will head to the streets and start a revolution? Progs will never get it.


5:07 AM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Jeremy Corbyn: the world's last (potentially) decent politician, at least as far as the Old Order is concerned? All things considered, I'm finding it difficult to conclude otherwise ...

-Northern Johnny

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Drama said...

Northern -

Corbyn is a wooden & sanctimonious British politician promising a socialist paradisw thru unrealistic social spending

Could think of many many more genuine identities

9:05 AM  
Blogger Xair said...

American exceptionalism at its finest. What wonderfully kind people Americans are.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Followers of the good Dr. Berman may enjoy the writings of Umair Haque.

"a small reflection of the big country across the sea, where life had become pure brutality, a contest for just the money and food and medicine to live"

Welcome to the Losers' Club, UK!

10:39 AM  
Blogger delete said...

Good Morning Dr Berman and Wafers/Waferettes

I reference George Monbiot’s latest article entitled 'Resist and Rebuild' 13th December 2019 as a ‘don’t give up on
Hope’. I thought George’s response was similar to ‘I Had a Dream’, MLK perhaps but I am not intending to diminish the MLK speech by purpose of or association to.
Hope is not an attribute associated with this blog and
that is very apparent and fine.
Is George M. another Chris H. and doing a disservice to the
British populist by instilling possible false hope? Is Britain now to become another America #2 and those that
can should do the ‘get out of Dodge’ shuffle or NMI?. Mexico et al could get pretty crowded if this keeps up on a global scale.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I actually have hope in the long run. Somehow, the human spirit always manages to prevail. The US--little more than a death machine, now--will break up and disintegrate, which will (hopefully) make way for new life, new ways of being.


11:35 AM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Tim- One discouraging part of the Monbiot essay is his first point-

"First, we must park the recriminations and blame. We need to be fully occupied fighting the government and its backers, not fighting each other. Solidarity is going to be crucial over the coming months. We should seek, wherever possible, to put loyalty to party and faction aside, and work on common resolutions to a crisis afflicting everyone who wants a kinder, fairer, greener nation."

One of the deepest failures of the left. There is so much that they do wrong, and the results prove this day after day. Yes, internal evaluations and criticism are dangerous, but failing is fatal. Try to get leftist to evaluate past methods is fairly futile- of course THIS protest with THESE signs is going to change the course of human history!!

Dr. B uses the right word- disintegrate. Right/left politics and culture are a fully integral whole at this point, one large organism. Or life form like blue-green slime algae. Taking over large areas at times of ecological instability, making the whole environment stink and poisonous.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Tigis said...


1:25 PM  
Blogger famousdrscanlon said...

Hilarious interview with IPCC expert reviewer Dr. Peter Carter from COPout 25 in which he exposes the entire history of it for the complete sham it is and has been from day one. 25 years of gate-keeping - stringing the masses along. Dr. Carter also goes into the science which should crush all hope except in those with the most powerful optimism bias.

It's almost always the ones who are retired or close to it that let loose like this.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Whittle said...

Digital Deepak is being developed by the AI Foundation.

A digital version of Deepak Chopra is coming to your phone and will offer you advice whenever you need it

Yikes !

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Carrey said...

On this Brexit spat here:

To add some levity to the discussion, well, here is some dose of levity. I'd forgotten the Corbyn-Princess Anne face-off!

“He’s handsome, he’s funny, and he knows an awful lot about Marxism.”

3:06 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

Maybe a restored aristocracy can quell the tempers of the lost Anglo peoples. Ofc it would have to be other than the useless House of Windsor.

The House of Lords could rise up and re-establish the nobility. The government could consist of very dour faces sipping tea while the MAGA hats and the pussy hats tweet each other to death in a Hobbesian antechamber set up in the manner of a padded room at an insane asylum.

The Lords may then, aiming at rehibilitation, ban the trigger words which lead to Twitter riots and, insha'Allah, ban Twitter itself. Public discourse will lose all its cheap flavour while the powdered whigs drone on in neutral terms of "propriety", "interest", and "good sense".

May you live in interesting times...

3:46 PM  
Blogger Judy Sacco said...

Waferism is spreading. An article by Umair Haque
This is How a Society Dies
America and Britain are Textbook Examples of a New, Gruesome Phenomeon: Rich Nations Self-Destructing Into Poor Failed States

5:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...




5:36 PM  
Anonymous Gerry Anna said...

This is How a Society Dies

America and Britain are Textbook Examples of a New, Gruesome Phenomeon: Rich Nations Self-Destructing Into Poor Failed States

7:31 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Whittle- I guess I will say thank you for the Deepak Chopra AI app link. Although understand I am disgusted by it. Chopra's hope to 'live' forever as a digital entity is amusing.

Of course it is the essence of AI in the last few sentences from the article-

"Digital Deepak also learns about the user through regular use. The AI develops a more personal relationship with you over time and will eventually greet you by name or talk about previous discussions.

However, the AI only learns new capabilities directly from the real Dr. Chopra. If the AI is asked to do something it is not meant for, like discussing politics or religion, it will simply respond, "Let's stay on course."

"Ultimately, the AI is trained to stick to its guns," said Dr. Buttler. "It does not learn directly from the audience.""

True modern tech- this is a monologue, not a dialogue. One does not learn directly from the audience. One only reaches deeper into one's personal grab bag of poo and piss in order to fling it at the audience (sorry, something about Chopra brings out the infantile scatological in me).

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

A typical day at middle school in North Carolina-

The school district says it is "deeply concerned."

6:33 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

David Berlinski is of course a "scholar" at the "Discovery" Institute on of the founders of which was the George Gilder.
Ben Shapiro is of course an uber-creep, who pretends to be an "authority" on politics and culture - full of sound and fury and signifying nothing but a very stinky fart.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

Horrific, heart-breaking Sunday Times front-page story about a sicario who turns on his Mexican cartel. Made me search deeper than ever before about the roots of extreme violence in a desperately poor people who were first screwed by the Spanish (if not also by Aztec kings before that), and have been screwed ever since by postcolonial elite who belong more in Europe than in Latin America.

Morris—you have lived long enough in the belly of this fascinating beast to suggest some answers. It couldn't just be Mexico's grinding poverty (there are many poor countries and drug-producing regions of the world where this kind of violence does not occur) and the dysfunctional nature of the state. Nor does the problem appear to be as simple as the supply and demand of cross-border drug trafficking, compounded by access to lethal weapons, plenty of ammo, and long-running Republican greed.

3:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Now here's a surprise:

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Josaline said...

On William James the "maximal pragmatist"....Is Life Worth Living? Maybe.

11:34 AM  
Blogger delete said...

Good Morning Dr Berman and Wafers/Waferettes

I am sorry to report but the claim towards Americans having rice for brains might be Trumped by what is happening up here especially in Alberta with a population of about 4MM with similar intellect.

The oil patch strangle hold on government (Fed & Prov)
just keeps on giving.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous El REgio said...

Ajay Sing,

Long time Mexican--60 years now. I have to disagree with your loaded question. Mexico is a fairly sophisticated upper middle income country. Its not Haiti or El Salvador, urban living standard comparable to Poland for example, and its richer and doing better than Argentina. Is there poverty--sure but again not as widespread as you seem to think. Why the extreme violence? Think more prohibition rather than some historical psychololgical trauma left over from the Spaniards or Aztecs--note humans are often F'ed up everywhere. Do people blame the corruption and violence of U.S. prohibition on the legacy of the English? Huge market to the north to make lots of money--again like prohibition with the sea of money comes corruption and violence. Its not complicated.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Chris Floyd on the situation in Briton: "...many Britons will have to learn what so many of us Americans learned long ago: you don’t live in the country you thought you lived in. The country you live in is a much colder, meaner, nastier, more bitter, unfeeling and hard-hearted place than you ever imagined."

Floyd echoes NMIism as well: " become an “internal exile,” fighting to hold on to and, as best you can, to transmit the richer, deeper, more humane values of our common humanity, even as you live in alienation from the unfeeling power structures that surround you. It is a sad lesson to learn, a sad way to live — but in the corrupted currents of this world, it is the only honourable and decent way to conduct your life and preserve your sanity."

MB - yes, the human spirit always prevails, but does it not also return to the same behavior: violence, tribalism, nation v nation, empire, war? Are we by nature doomed?

Kayne - True. Millions hit the streets to protest invasions of Iraq to no avail whatsoever. Why would we think that we could influence oligarchies by doing it again?

5:59 PM  
Blogger Krakhed said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

I'm surprise this guy wasn't promoted:

Buffoon wants us to vote for Hillary again:

Shootings at a mall during holiday season:

Has there ever been a sicker society?

9:23 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Of Course They Didn’t....

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Silva said...

Photo essay of homeless encampment in California. Grim.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Ajay Singh said...

@El REgio—thanks for your lucid response to my intentionally loaded question. I take it that extreme inequality + failed war on drugs + proximity to 'Merica = savage cartel violence. We'll never know the answer to this, but I do wonder if another that equation would have remained unchanged had some other "developing" country, just as diverse and culturally rich as Mexico, shared an exclusive border with the nation the Iranians call Great Satan.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous cormorant said...

This is an interesting take from Joshua Kahn Russell on how practices from spiritual traditions can (and need to) be infused into political activism. He starts from about 37 mins in:

Shades of the NMO in some of his comments methinks.

4:43 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Complementing—and not in a good way—Silva’s contribution on a homeless encampment in California, the following story from the American paradise, Hawaii.

A Honolulu cop faces up to 30 months in prison for forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal in order to avoid being taken “downtown” (as copspeak has it). A fellow cop who stood by watching later dropped a dime on his partner; he faced lesser charges and has already left the force. Apparently the same cop had obliged another homeless person to lick a toilet in an earlier unrelated episode.

Adventures in paradise...

11:43 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Elias Flor, 19, masturbated on the back of a female shopper as she shopped for toys w/a child at a Florida Walmart:

Just another day in America, I suppose.


12:06 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Read this, children telling what it is like to go through a lockdown drill for a school shooting. 95% of school in the US subject their students to this on a regular basis.

5th grader (what's that, 10 years old?)- We were all sitting under the sink, and under the shelves, so it was kind of uncomfortable because everyone in the class was there. Everyone was kinda fidgety, and our teacher told us not to move. I felt like I was a little ball, and I was trying to stay together, and, like, I was like a little porcupine or a little hedgehog rolling up to a ball, trying to protect myself from the enemy.

One kid, he was kind of worried and thought it was real. So he had a panic attack. He started breathing heavily and crying, and everyone was really worried about him. So then we had waited for a few minutes and then everyone started to calm him down. Like, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s just fake, we’re just practicing.” One kid, he’s really funny, he said, “It’s OK, man, it’s OK, cool your beans!” Everyone started laughing.

12:33 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

The FUTURE of America....

Getting very close to Civil War breaking out....the Internet chat forums are on FIRE with talk about it.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Binny said...

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”.

Today's must read

Opinion: This ‘Ponzi scheme’ surrounding development leaves most cities and towns functionally insolvent
By Charles L. Marohn, Jr.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

If we needed any further proof of America's fall into corruption the "debate" today on the impeachment articles should convince the most ardent patriot that the nation has nothing left to offer its citizens or the world. The debate lasted for over 6 hours but consisted of nothing but 2-3 minute speeches by 15-20 representatives of each side.The Chamber was practically empty. The whole farce was a TV event, and a horribly boring one at that. I could hear TV sets being turned off all over the country. The absence of substantive argument was astonishing.

I was raised in the Deep South and taught to accept without question the myths of exceptionalism and our right, as God's chosen, to interfere with and, if necessary, invade other nations. I believed the lies about America being a nation of unbounded opportunity for all, regardless of economic or social standing. I accepted that the ideals voiced by Jefferson et al were considered worth emulating; that government officials had the best interests of the nation at heart. So it saddens me to learn, as I have over the last 5 years, that it was nothing but a smokescreen to conceal financial and political corruption. A lie, an illusion. Today's tragedy was just one more revelation of the real America. For former true believers, it is a sad day - but one of many and one of many to come.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

@Silva - CA cruelty toward the destitute and homeless is sadly predictable (how soon everyone forgets) Steinbeck was hated in Monterey/Carmel after Grapes of Wrath b/c many felt he ratted them out.

Watching Impeachment (debate?) proceedings, I get the feeling these assholes think they are altering/influencing history when in fact history is devouring them - I find comfort in this. Programming note - catch Trump’s rally in Michigan tonight, god I hope he goes off script!

6:08 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

America's chickens coming home to roost.

Everything we're experiencing as a nation is the check finally coming to the table.

It's all summed up in this speech:

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Jorge Renya said...

From 2018 ⁦Alison Gopnik⁩’s deep and thought-provoking review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. Not sure how I missed this.⁩
'When Truth and Reason Are No Longer Enough In his new book, Steven Pinker is curiously blind to the power and benefits of small-town values.'

8:49 PM  
Blogger famousdrscanlon said...

trying to stay sane, here's my favorite quote regarding "the same behavior" & that trail of collapsed civilizations behind us.

"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results."
-Niccolo Machiavelli

12:15 AM  
Anonymous El REgio said...

Ajay Singh,

Well who knows. Per world bank Ukraine has the lowest rate of inequality in the world but that is attributable to everybody having nothing--except maybe Hunter Biden. I think your equation is incomplete. People do have some agency and opt to work in cartels and violence is not due to geography or the PR war on drugs solely but rather for competing for market share by competing factions. Globally speaking Mexican economy (its a G20 country by the way) is o.k. and in fact over 2 million mexicans in the U.S. returned in recent years. Homocide rate is higher in many other places--Brazil, U.S. virgin Islands etc. Its a fact once raised by the Mexican Billionaire Ricardo Salinas on Charlie Rose years ago that its so unusual that given that most of the drugs from Mex end up in the U.S. that you don;t see much high profile arrests and violence between dealers/distributors and law enforcement--why do you think that is? Odd no? As for speculating if another country was next door--that is a mental leap a bit far for me..

10:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out the Machiavelli chapter in "Genio."


One syllogism Aristotle forgot:
Beating off in Walmart
Beating off in Congress, ergo
Congress = Walmart


10:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Tulsism in action:

Other turkey news:

11:11 AM  
Anonymous cyrilliajuniper said...

Tulsi is an unbelievable turkey. She says she voted present because she wanted to bring peace and healing to this country she loves. Her statement came from her presidential campaign. I don't see how she lives this down.

On the other hand, this guy is not only NMI for himself, he's spreading the gospel! Granted, he accomplished this feat in Florida where the weather is mostly cooperative year round. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall while he was persuading the owner of the property that he lives on that this was a great idea.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

jjarden: Ha, I like that movie quite a bit. But two things wrong, the populace risking life and limb to stand up with V ... never happen. And the military not mowing them all down at the barricades ... never happen.

Impeachment, Schmpeachment ... hmm, Schempechment? Funny thing is Il Douche seems to actually care about it. He's got a second term practically locked up, why not try for a third? Who cares about a irrelevant piece of dumb-o-crat theater?

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Tia said...

Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man today ⁦BostonReview⁩

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Gaja said...

If women ran every country in the world there would be a general improvement in living standards and outcomes, Barack Obama says

"[Oeindrila Dube & S. P. Harish] studied how often European rulers went to war between 1480 and 1913. Over 193 reigns, they found that states ruled by queens were 27% more likely to wage war than those ruled by kings."

6:52 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

@ Dr. Berman

I haven't had a chance to read Genio yet, but since we're discussing Machiavelli, I assume part of the chapter on him talks about "Discourses".

I remember reading "Discourses" over a decade ago and coming away from it with an entirely new appreciation for Machiavelli's insight into human nature. Talk about a completely misunderstood historical figure!

9:42 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

The Valraven: “The Danish ballad I am writing about here tells a story of shapeshifting into the form of a raven (and another bird), and what must be done to escape from this curse and regain human form.

The ballad is called Valravnen, or The Valraven. The word valravn seems to come from this ballad, and it is used to mean a raven that is actually a human in raven form... The second part of the name, ravn, means raven. This much is clear. The first part, val, is sometimes taken to mean "of the slain", in a similar way to the Old Norse names Valhalla and Valkyrie. But this part of the name is very inconstant across the different versions of the ballad, and it seems to have been misunderstood and distorted. I won't list all of the variations here. Grundtvig speculates about various alternative interpretations of the name to do with shapeshifting, including var-ravn (were-raven, cf varulv, werewolf).

The ballad is pretty gruesome ... but carry on reading, I'm sure it'll all be all right in the end. Remember, in a world where you accept that people are transformed into birds, other far-out magical things are also going to happen.”

Audio recording here.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Clean up yr language. We don't say 'cunts' on this blog.


Thanks for the erudition. I still am in great admiration of Chrystal Walraven.


Few people in the history of the world have been bigger assholes than Obama.


What a piece of trash Tulsi is. What a fraud. I have tried to think of a single reason why she shdn't be beaten to within an inch of her life and then thrown on a dungheap, and I cdn't come up with any.


11:47 AM  
Anonymous Burmese Pizon said...

"You know, if the protagonist is happy, there’s no story at all."

A fan of Murakami at all, MB? One of my favorites!

1:26 PM  
Blogger delete said...

Gaja said...

If women ran every country in the world there would.....

Looks like Finland may be first at the post although
other countries certainly have had women at the helm but
not in numbers like Finland perhaps. Age is also interesting.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

I think that people are missing the point Tulsi Gabbard was making. She was the only one who stood there and said, Who cares? She could have simply quoted MacBeth, but she knows no one in the room would get the reference-

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Is there a more truthful statement of Washington these days?

All Hail, Tulsi, the only one who saw the emptiness and futility of the whole playacting room full of blowhards! 'Present' is the only honest position anyone should take in this charade, and she was the only one to act with integrity and courage.

4:25 PM  
Blogger famousdrscanlon said...

cyrilliajuniper, thanks for the "one year" link. Here's a "one year" story in a similar vein.

The True Story of a Man Who Survived Without Any Food For 382 Days

"He was "grossly obese" at the time, according to his doctors, weighing 456 pounds (207 kg)."

"At the end of his ordeal, Barbieri tipped the scales at 180 pounds. Five years later, he'd still kept almost all the weight he'd lost off, weighing in at 196 (89 kg)."

Most act so surprised at this even though it makes perfect evolutionary sense. What do you expect though from a populous who gets their nutritional information from Oprah, Dr OZ & Snickers commercials? One caveat is that Barbieri did his year plus fast in 1973 & thus never had to resist the mighty pull of a Popeyes chicken sandwich.

9:09 PM  

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