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    • We Are Going To Go Thru Hell, So What Now?
      I was born in 1968, the year Wallerstein calls one of “world revolution”. It was a revolution that both failed and succeeded: women and minorities got more rights, often a lot more, but the end result was an oligarchy, where most people were equal in their lack of power, and where every year saw ordinary people becoming poorer, no matter what the official st […]
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On Trumpism, protests and $&^* I can’t read anymore

9508283Let’s start with the s^&* I can’t read anymore.

There’s a special edition of Nature on CRISPR that I’ve been dying to get my hands on. Now, I don’t do research anymore. I’ve migrated to another technical area. But I still like to feel that tingle in the brain from reading a collection of good papers. Like some high altitude f^&*s that I just can’t quit. So, thinking that the overlords of Nature had made this super important, not to be missed collection available for regular consumption, even if the papers are not printable and viewable only for the length of time for speed readers to make any sense of them, I stupidly clicked on the link and ran into the dreaded pay wall.

Here I had a choice. I could either cough up $30/paper or I could shell out $199/year for a Nature subscription. I considered the latter. But journals are like Lays potato chips. You can’t eat just one. Once you start getting into the citations of the papers, you’ll need to look up a bunch of them and they might not be from Nature. They might be from J. Mol. Bio. or Cell or something else. And there will be hundreds of them.

Besides, I need to save my money for the plumber and the toilet that is about to go on me any day now.

Toilet or CRISPR? Sanitation or gene editing? This is a no brainer, of course.

So, I passed on the papers and CRISPR and now I won’t know any more about it than most people who pay no attention to gene editing or don’t believe in evolution. Oh, sure, there are workarounds and I have friends who could probably send the papers to me. But that’s not the point. Journals need a new business model. A couple of years ago, I suggested that the American Chemical Society switch to an Apple iTunes model because that would make so much sense and would mean that independent researchers and geeks without portfolio wouldn’t have to camp on the licenses of their academic friends…

Wait, where was I?

Ok, back to the harsh light and frigid temperatures of reality.

So, to get my sciencey fix, I downloaded a book from Audible by Robert Sawyer called Quantum Night. It’s Sci Fi, and although a lot of Audible Sci Fi recommended books have been duds, this one seemed promising. The story is about psychologists and physicists researching the nature of consciousness and what makes humans sentient, aware and psychopathic. This book is like geek bait. The author talks about all the usual subjects on the topic of good and evil and psychology, Zimbardo, Milgram, Altemeyer. But he also introduces some new names I had never heard of like Angela Book, whose papers are behind a pay wall, and some French sounding dude named Rene Girard. The Canadian researchers in the book work at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatechewan, a place that is familiar to me because I used to send my crystals there for data collection. And there’s a bit of structural biology in there as well. I was happy to see that some of the crystal structures he mentions are available at the Brookhaven repository so I can download them to my last remaining visualization application. BUT I can’t read the citation for the structures without paying $30/paper which I’m not going to do.

In the book, the researchers find that the consciousness of every human being on earth falls into one of three discrete states. The first state is fully sentient with a internal monologue and the second is that of a psychopath who thinks like a predator. The third state is for a type of human being that theoretically exists but that I had never heard of before, the philosophical zombie. In the book, they are real and the researchers call them P-Zeds, because this is Canada after all. The theory is that some people look like normal human beings and act like normal human beings but they have no internal monologue. The lights are on but no one is home.

I know what you’re thinking. You went out with someone like that.

This is a work of fiction, so take that into consideration. I don’t know how such a person could exist, like I can’t imagine being color blind. How could you go through life without hearing a cacophony of voices in your head talking about why the woman on the ninth floor won’t accept your IMs, read your mail or accept your meeting invitation when you really need her information right now, and did you turn off the iron, and is it better to go meatless or fast on Mondays, and maybe you really do have a thyroid condition, didja ever think of that??

I’m not the only one, am I?

I can’t be the only one. Think of all of the books and poems and songs and works of art and Einstein sitting on a beam of light…

So, I can’t believe that it’s possible to be a functional human being without an internal monologue, who just looks for social cues to know what to do next. Then I remembered Facebook.

That was a cheap shot.

But the more I thought about this book, the more questions I had and the more it made me think about what it is that makes Trump voters like him and why some of the most resistant liberal Hillary haters are Bernie Sanders fans. I’m not talking about Katiebird or some of my own family members.

Off topic for a moment: Let’s say that you can’t be a complete philosophical zombie. Let’s say that you do have an internal monologue but somehow, it’s become suppressed. Isn’t that what happens in cults? That thing that recovering cultists call “the authentic self”, maybe that’s the fully conscious sentient self with a completely engaged internal monologue.

Am I the only person who gets a little creeped out when some religious person says to an atheist, “You don’t have morality. Without the bible telling you right from wrong, what’s to stop you from running around killing people?” Because when I hear someone say that, I think, the only thing stopping the religious person who is saying that from running around killing people is a somewhat disjointed collection of writings of late bronze age tribalists who bear a striking resemblance to the Taliban.

Really? REALLY???  You don’t know from experience and empathy and your own pain that it’s wrong to run around killing people and stealing their stuff and lying? You need a set of rigid rules and the threat of eternal damnation to tell you not to do bad things to other people?

Maybe philosophical zombies do exist. But maybe people aren’t born this way, as the protagonists in the book propose. Maybe philosophical zombiism is induced.

What if the mind is lazy and unless you train it, the internal monologue will seek the path of least resistance? Could that explain the number of Trump voters who have only a high school education? (There’s a recent statistical analysis out there somewhere that looks like PCA but I’m having trouble finding the link) Could the emphasis on conformity in some voters of a certain age also account for the tendency to be lead? Somehow, the internal monologue has been turned down from 10 to around 3. And how do TV and other forms of media affect the internal monologue?

On the left, can we see a turning down of the internal monologue in spite of mass quantities of Ivy League education? Does the emphasis on buzz words like corporatist, neoliberalism and DLC short circuit the internal monologue? Could the tendency of the left to blame everything on racism be indicative of a lazy shortcut that is actually making the current situation worse? I mean, there are definitely racists but not everyone who is critical of Obama is a Republican or a racist. Could it be that the concept of racism was used as a cynical tool to suppress the internal monologue by a bunch of predators in the “establishment” in order to stifle criticism of the things they were going to persuade Obama to do?  I mean, it’s not like African Americans have suddenly prospered and joined the ranks of the 1% in any great numbers in the past eight years as they might have had a right to expect. You would think that someone on the left was looking out for them for all the lip service that is given to racism. Neglect of the consequences of the real thing shouldn’t be this obvious. Just because you use a word a billion times doesn’t make it true. Either we’re not as smart as we think we are or we’ve become somewhat brain dead.

Long time readers of this blog know that I try to avoid almost all news sources and have to pick my way through the printed page like it’s a minefield. You can do what you want but I choose not to expose myself to media narratives if I can help it. I’m almost hyperaware of every nuance, which makes me a blast at parties. One of the reasons why I’m not as into Hillary as I was in 2008 is because I think that someone in her campaign staff is tinkering with our lazy minds this time around and I really resent it. It comes through in the mail she clutters up my inbox with as well as some of the things she has said. Yesterday, she said something about how we should all “use our words” when it comes to protesting our opponents. I didn’t know if she was reflecting on her diplomatic skills that she acquired in the State Department or whether she was thinking about doing an updated version of Romper Room.

Ah, yes, I remember it well. There was the time when Brooke threw a rock at a kid who was teasing her in fourth grade and the vice principal told us she should learn how to “use her words”.  But when Brooke yelled that math was boring her in seventh grade, her teacher seemed to be upset that she had “used her words” inappropriately and sent her to the vice principal who said maybe it would be better for her to remain silent. So, I’m not sure that the whole “use your words” thing is a rule so much as a guideline and that vice principals are authoritarian moral relativists.

Hey, when Donald Trump started to whine that his free speech rights were being violated, did anyone else immediately think of that scene in Monty Python and The Holy Grail when the peasant was yelling about how he was being repressed?

Yes, yes, Donald, you have been fluffed relentlessly by the press who has a fascination with covering you in the same way that pressing down on a hangnail can sometimes produce a deliciously warm painful experience that must be repeated over and over again and yet you can be so easily derailed and stifled by a couple of obnoxious protestors who don’t like the way you are proposing to treat immigrants and black people. And Women. Don’t forget women. Everyone always does.

In any case, if you are going to a Trump rally to protest because you were paid to do it or because someone who was fully sentient was unable to talk you out of it, then I thank you for your service. No one goes to a Trump rally, surrounded by what looks like philosophical zombies and psychopaths, thousands of them, unless they are very brave. The money wouldn’t be enough for me. But I wouldn’t rule out standing on the sidewalk with a “Trump is a Jagoff” sign and a pocket full of Gogurt. That might be fun.

So, where was I?

I don’t know. My mind went off the track again. I have a chicken to roast and clothes to wash and I think I’d better check my email from work and that woman from the ninth floor just turned out to be busy but she could have been secretly dissing me, I don’t know for sure, and Crossfit costs $99 at the Y, is it better to get a subscription to Nature or get two months of Crossfit…

24 Responses

  1. RD, you are sometimes just too erudite for my little brain and this is one of those times. But, on my level, I am sick of “all Trump all the time on MSNBC” and Bernie’s voice (not as bad as the last Bush but almost). I am sick of the misogyny that is just as bad as it was in 2008. Mostly against hrc. I am sick of women who say they have time to see a woman president later. I am old and I won’t have time; my soul mate died after 2008 so it is too late for her–a true progressive woman supporter all her life. I am sick of voters who are moved by emotions rather than reality-based & appropriateness of candidate’s plans. I am sick of 18 year old’s. Especially now that science has shown that their danged brains are immature until the age of 25, as if we didn’t already know that. They are so easily manipulated. That is just a few of the things I am sick of. I could go on…..but will spare you.
    And, I don’t feel better for having said all that because nothing has changed in the last few minutes.

    • But I heard you and I read the entire comment.
      You are entirely right. It’s frustrating.
      But we have to try to understand it before we can change it.
      So sorry you lost your soulmate. I think Hillary *will* be elected. But I really wish she’d dump her current campaign managers.

    • Btw, that wasn’t erudite. That was mental diarrhea.

  2. PS. RD, spend money on toilet, etc and record Classic Stretch on PBS at 5:30 am M-F. Do it later in day, if you are akin to me and are just getting to sleep good at 5 am.

    • Lol! I wake up at 5am. My department has a lot of early birds. Getting in at 6:55am is like seeing how high you can pee on the wall.

  3. Go for the crossfit. Really.

    And I haven’t had much luck getting anything through Aleksandra Elbakyan (h ttps://sci-hub.io/) since it’s down more than up. Bit of demand there, I think.

  4. About scientific articles: if you are a member of “Research Gate”, you can sometimes find the article there posted by the author(s). It’s not a great solution, but could be useful. Sometimes, you may be able to get a membership university library card for a small price, and use the library computers and databases. I once got an alumni card that was really good for that.

  5. I haven’t written on any blogs in quite a while, but my dander is really up now, so I am overcoming my anxiety enough to write something on the only blog where I feel I won’t be attacked. I am 71 now. I have 2 wonderful granddaughters (1 and 3) who live right around the corner, and I am at peace. I don’t want to fight.

    But this Bernie stuff is driving me nuts, so I will speak up just a little. I am strongly anti-Bernie (I am not clumping voters like Katiebird in this critique; there are plenty of serious, genuine Bernie supporters), and here’s why:

    1. Bernie is not a Democrat. He is a Socialist. So why is he running as a Democrat? This is a huge deal to me, because it is basically dishonest. He’s the alleged truthteller, absolutely pure in his honesty, compared to that lying lesbian murderer Hillary. But he’s not. He’s a Socialist, logically because he sees himself as superior than, or further left than, Democrats. So why not run as a Socialist? That’s what he is. He’s trying to have it both ways. He’s a Socialist, no he’s a Democrat. Two, two treats in one. Hypocrite. Interloper.

    He has not given much on behalf of Democrats either. Or raised money for Democrats.

    2. Bernie is too old. I am 71, in excellent physical, mental, and emotional health (well, except for the PTSD). But I am too old, and I am in much better shape than Bernie. He can’t stand up straight. He spits. He lectures. He reiterates the same talking point ad infinitum, in response to almost any question. He waves his finger around like a crotchety old man – which he is. He seems to take pride in rumpled suits and a really old car. He appears to be a bit of a tightwad. That is not indicative of a giving person.

    3. The attacks on Hillary (the only Democrat running) are completely over the top. By Bernie, by his campaign reps, by the same group that backed Obama, maybe by rightwing operatives posing as Dems. Bernie’s campaign has set the tone. First, his advisors are a really nasty bunch. I know Hillary’s are not terrific, but that Jeff Weaver is a real piece of work. The attacks on Hillary are part of the campaign strategy (Releasing transcripts of speeches? Really? What man was ever held to such a standard?). Second, the Bernie Bros, or whoever they are, are allowed free rein. Have you looked at Salon lately? Or Daily Kos? It seems like every piece is anti-Hillary. Rabidly anti-Hilary. Also, I might add, almost entirely fact free. Appalling.

    4. Bernie has not accomplished much of anything in all his years as part of the establishment. (Socialist, my ass. He is as much a part of the establishment as Hillary.) He seems quixotic, tilting at windmills. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see much of a record to run on.

    5. I support Hillary. I watched all 11 hours of the Benghazi hearings. I was stunned by her intelligence and endurance. That is when I became a strong supporter. She is the only person running in either party who could competently run this country. And she can outlast any of those Republican fools. There are flaws, for sure, but in this field she stands head and shoulders over everyone else running. I watched the townhall last night. Thoughtful, intelligent, caring responses. On Daily Kos, they call that “having it both ways.”

    I would really like it if Hillary, when asked about her reputation for lying, would, in response, ask for a specific example. Put the questioner on the spot. What exactly has Hillary lied about, sir or madam? Let her respond to that specific accusation. Then, do the same thing over and over.

    My bet is that women like me and, really, women of all ages will vote for Hillary in droves. It’s time for a woman. Stop with the “yes, a woman someday, but not this woman” crap. This is what we have and it’s damn good.

    • mjames:
      Greatly appreciated all your comments. I feel the same way.

    • Ok, you have some legitimate concerns. I’m still a solid Clintonista but I like Bernie. So let me try to respond.
      1.) Bernie may be a socialist to US but to someone in France, he looks like a sell out. He’s been caucusing with the Democrats since forever and he’s been a better Democrat than many Democrats. And I think it’s only fair that we try to push the Overton window to the left after years of Republicans dragging us to the far, harsh, uncompromising right.
      2.) he is getting up there but some people stay young longer than others. And the current batch of people in their seventies have enjoyed better medical care, nutrition and fewer diseases than their predecessors. Bernie could be lively for a long time. Look at all the Supreme Court justices with all thei faculties.
      3.) I don’t like it either. But it’s not like this is anything new. All we can do is a.)point out that Bernie hasn’t faced the same degree of scrutiny that Hillary has over the past 26 years and b.) put the burden of truth on the accuser. She doesn’t have to prove her innocence on anything. It’s up to the accusers to prove her guilty. They can’t. We must get aggressive with this.
      4.) it’s true that he won’t get much done without a posse. But this is a weird election year. I’d like to see a lot more unorthodox candidates running down ticket. There’s one running in a town close to here. His name is John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, PA. He’s running for senate for pat toomey’ seat. He’s a Bernie guy butchaknow what? I’ll take him. I think he’d get along fine with Hillary.
      5.) I agree with you 200%. However, I think fluffing Obama and failing to take credit for her accomplishments has hurt her. Also, she really needs to seize the day and take a chance on going more left. There’s a golden opportunity here.

      Btw, I won’t let the Bernie boys camp out here. They must think I’m stupid. I assure you, I am not. I know how to squash trolls very effectively. So, don’t get too concerned with the idiots. They won’t be bothering you here. Well, let’s put it this way, they won’t get away with it for very long. In fact, why even bother. I think they know this by now. I don’t put up with that.

    • He admitted today that the only reason he is running as a Democrat is for media attention. So there’s your answer to that.

      • Ahem, as I said, even as a socialist, he’s been a better Democrat than some Democrats. Remember joe Lieberman? Remember the blue dogs? I don’t like those Democrats. Bernie may call himself a socialist but he’s not that much more to left than Lyndon Johnson minus the disastrous foreign policy.
        He’s caucused with the Democrats for years, acted like a Democrat. For all intents and purposes, he’s a Democrat. If he wasn’t, it would be a potent campaign message for Hillary in the primaries. But even she isn’t disputing it. So, you know, we have to accept that he’s one of us. If he makes a point of being a Democrat for the media, he’s entitled.
        Let’s move on from it. There are better reasons to pick Hillary over Bernie. This isn’t one of them.

        • He has literally said he hates the party in the past. No one has called him to account for those statements. Basically he’s been a Ralph Nader clone. Really someone needs to ask him to explain a lot of his past statements. The only reason he caucuses with democrats is the fact that the only other option is to caucus with Republicans. Jeffords a former Republican did the same thing. At first I thought maybe he was just running because he wanted his issues out there. Now it seems he’s become a useful idiot for the GOP who has been running ads supporting him and they’ve probably been financially supporting him too. As the old saying goes politics makes strange bedfellows.

          • I’ve literally hated the party in the past. I’m still a registered Democrat.
            FWIW, I think Bernie is dead serious about his vision and plans. Whether he can pull it off is another matter.
            What would be great is if someone who could actually do something could adopt Bernie’s message.
            We shall see if Hillary bends to the left.

  6. Re zombies: Long way to go to get at the idea that some people are incurious and intellectually lazy. @mjames: Bravo! I agree with everything you said and especially #5. I’ve challenged any number of people to let me set-up a Star Chamber and question them for 11 hours to see what they will trip up on. I’ve also shut down quite a few, er, ill-behaved conservatives, by asking them for specific examples of lying or criminal behavior but I have never gotten any response beyond name calling and a sulky silence. Several have told me that they plan to sit the election out, which I take as a victory, since that is a cancelled vote against SOS Clinton.

  7. I think that the human capacity for logical but complex reasoning is simply disappearing. Maybe it is the technological age. I saw some wonderful concerts of Loreena McKennitt in the last few days; and in the midst of the beautiful and haunting songs of other times and places, she spoke about what she sees as the very real dangers of technology in dissociating chldren from their families in favor of group interactions; what she called “children teaching children..” She has read a good deal on this, and she mentioned current and very frightening terms like “digital dementia,” which are apparently not shotrthand phrases meant to be clever,, but actual descriptions developed by neurosurgeons.

    Putting that truly frightening area aside, it’s just obvious that most people cannot or will not think with any depth about things. TV, movie shows, and literature, with a few rare exceptions, get worse and worse, pandering to a populace which apparently cannot process complex dialogue or plotlines. Election campaigns have turned into reality shows. Everything is for entertaintment value. Few have any long-term or historical perspective on any of it.

    I don’t think that very many people understand how the government works; how bills start in the legislature, and must be passed for an executive to even have a chance to sign them. How we have 50 states, each with its own state legislature; and the president is not some kind of king or emperor out of a fantasy TV show. And that, at least in my opinion, every Democrat who votes for Sanders in Ohio will be dooming his state to more disengfrachisement and destruction of the state infrastructure at the hands of the Republicans who control the state offices, and whom Sanders’ campaign will never defeat, since he has never campaigned or contributed to an out of state Democrat in his life. The best an unlikely Sanders election would produce is the perverse spectacle of seeing him calumniate at a right-wing Congress which would not advance one of his ideas; while the various right-wing controlled states would cause crises akin to those in Flint, Michign. And then these so-called liberal pundits would write articles lamenting the destruction of America, and how the political system has broken down; something that they helped to cause. And all the young people who are so excited in trying to “WIN!” like in a computer game, will go back to some other computer games, and back to watching fantasy movies as a substitute for actually reading some history or literature, and trying to learn something from it.

    A dumbed down populace with an increasingly shorter attention span, is easy prey for dangerous people of all types who are selling the lure of magical transformations;, and “It is so simple; I will fix it all, by just being a leader who is tough on other countries,” or “It is so obvious; and I can fix it all with a revolution which will sweep away 400 years of American economics.” I don’t know how the election will come out, but in my more depressed moments, I can think that the numbers of people who vote for Trump, Cruz, and Sanders may be showing us that as a nation, we’ve already lost.

    • Hey, remember the good old days when your favorite shows would be pre-empted by the Watergate hearings or an Apollo mission launch or some breaking news? And EVERYBODY had to watch it? And it was pretty much the same spin on all three channels?
      Yeah, I miss those days.

      By the way, I’d welcome a sharp yank to the left, no matter who was the agent of change.

  8. mjames, William, RD… I have an answer, and it’s well-supported by research, too. It’s a long post. I think I might’ve said some of this here in the past, but the day is long and the memory is short. You can map your candidate here (!).

    As children develop, they gain the ability to see others as separate from themselves (with different needs, motives, desires)–that ability is gained, we’re not born with it. Until that point, we (infants) believe the world is a thing that is somehow us. When our needs are frustrated, it is therefore terrifying and enraging (why would your hand suddenly start flopping around doing things you don’t want it to do? if it did, wouldn’t you slap it down? you control your hand/mom/others/the world, right?). Note that, early on, there IS no other world or other people. There is only the self, and no way to conceive of others as separate. The brain cannot do it–yet. Our interactions with others who both encourage us AND frustrate our needs occasionally shows us that we are not in control of the world, cannot predict what others are going to do, and therefore there ARE others in the world. After all, if we can predict everything another will do (feed us before we know we are hungry, hover over us and make sure our blanket is tucked tight before we know we are cold), there’s no need to make the developmental leap that others exist. No, we can stay in the infantile state of King Baby into adulthood, where “others” (“hands”/parts of the self) are vending machines, whose purpose is to vend, to be kicked to the curb, or thrown in the garbage when they break and don’t vend anymore. The danger is if others humiliate or shame King Baby (by making some even very minor criticism), who will then collapse for a short time, before recovering, blaming and discounting the shame-er.

    But if a baby gets through this stage, they move into the next one, which is when it occurs to them that often they don’t get what they want (cue Rolling Stones). This is frustrating, confusing, enraging. How can this be? I am King Baby! Over time, months, with continual parental encouragement followed by discouragement (yes, you are fabulous for walking, but, no! you will not be allowed to bite me), the child learns there is something out there which is not the self. That the child cannot predict. That last part comes when the child starts doing things to provoke the parent and expects the parent to react as the child would. Except the parent doesn’t. The parent is unknown. The parent is not the self! And now, the child can get feedback from the parent, becomes a curious human being (vs. knowing everything, because after all, “everything” is the self!), can form genuine relationships. This is by 3 years old, BTW. Typically, by 24 months. For most of us… At this point, no narcissism.

    If something happens to disrupt that development, the kid lacks the basic perceptual-based ability to recognize others exist, to understand others’ needs, to develop empathy. Instead, they grow up in a room of mirrors, with other people as the mirrors, to be admired as the self is admired (as long as the others reflect back the grand self-image), or shattered in rage and discarded if not willing to. Narcissism has been on the rise in the US for the past decade, as tech has caught up with us, narcissism has exploded. Parents stare at their devices, their kids can’t get their attention, kids are being raised by computer, which is a “parent” at their whim and call whom they even hold in their hands, available 24/7, programmable!, reflecting back the grand, omnipotent, indestructible self image.

    But if psychological development continues beyond age 3, kids learn first that conformity is the way to go–find out what others want and be that, lest you be alone and potentially die (this is age 4, after all). (The norm-to-conform-to might be a whole pile of narcissists, given recent studies found we are almost 50% narcissists in this country, now.) At that stage, kids know others exist, but don’t perceive differences between them and the norm. They are black-and-white… these like-me people are good, these others are bad and can be discarded without thinking about it, which might create anxiety. Group-think is the norm. Finding a not-me “bad” scapegoat is essential, so back-and-forth discourse of opposing points of view without blaming and insulting is impossible.

    After that, kids become increasingly self-aware (situations are complex, people have varied motives, don’t hurt others even if they don’t agree with you, compromise, don’t demand your way, set achievable goals, don’t exploit people) and individuated (preserve freedom for everyone, not just for me, value interdependence). The majority of adults in 2016 are moving out of conformity but are not quite in self-awareness yet. The younger the person, the less likely they have made it to self-awareness and beyond (which requires regular contact with people with diverse opinions and life experiences).

    I think the only hope is to make the standard-to-conform-to a non-narcissistic standard. “Be nice to others, even when you don’t agree with them,” for instance, would be a good place to start. “Listen carefully, so that others think you are intelligent” (it’s too soon for the idea that others may know something valuable you don’t know…). Stuff like that.

    • This is a wonderful post, I would have read more!

      I personally hate the explosion of technology, particularly the social media type, but even the various phones where people take information and knowledge out of their mind, to be stored on the device; and where people seem addicted to these devices. To me, this is solipsism, which I guess in its way is akin to the childhood narcissism you described. I’m sure we’ve all gone to restaurants and seen a party of three or four people not interacting, but each staring at his or her phone with fixed absorption, as if nothing is more important than answering that last tweet, or telling fifty other “friends” that you are at lunch, and isn’t that exciting?

      It is of course too narrow to blame the current state on the internet, or even technology in general; there are many more intertwined threads. I do think that this sense of anger, even outrage, proudly claimed by so many peoople, is related to the anxiety and futility which the internet can create. Everyone feels cheated, or not getting their share. Some of them delight in seeing “the other side” suffer, even if their side winning doesn’t really improve anything. I always understood very rich people voting for the Republicans, even though I decried their selfishness and greed. But there are so many “average Joes and Janes” who vote Republican now, even though their policies do not in the slightest improve their lives.\

      And the so-called millennials seem scary to me. Maybe every generation fears the other one; but my limited sense of them is that they are the adult narcissists to whom you refer. I’m not actually sure that the wild fevency for Sanders is actually due to some sense of social justice and altruism, but is instead simply because he is offering shiny things like free tuition, taking money from Wall Street and the banks, and somehow giving it to them. And then the thrill of being engaged in an exciting enterprise, like in the movies they love. Is this all so much different from playing a video game for them?

  9. Thanks, William! You said, “I do think that this sense of anger, even outrage, proudly claimed by so many peoople, is related to the anxiety and futility which the internet can create. Everyone feels cheated, or not getting their share.” I believe that’s because “everyone,” or “so many” actually didn’t make it past age 3. Once one is beyond that point, one starts to wonder how others are doing, others matter, sometimes more than the self, other issues therefore matter–like domestic violence, child abuse, things outside one’s own experience–rather than only issues that affect one’s ability to maintain one’s grand image of oneself (the desire to be rich in a culture where money is a prominent value).

    You said, “And the so-called millennials seem scary to me. Maybe every generation fears the other one; but my limited sense of them is that they are the adult narcissists to whom you refer.” I think every generation fears the earlier one, but it is also a fact that the incidence rate of narcissism has shot up from 4% to 40-50% (depending on study) amongst college students in the past decade-ish (and 50% to 60% are not). It comes from neglectful or overindulgent parenting without limits, not the internet, although those can overlap. Those with an emotional age of under 2-3 tend to make a lot more noise, fling poo, scream, hit, and everything else we are seeing this election.

    I have a young friend who babysat for a famous sports figure and his wife last year. Their toddler had learned to scream and pound the ground for whatever he wanted. The parents tiptoed around him, trying to anticipate every need. Whenever he whimpered, they’d give him whatever he asked for. He quickly began to sock my friend in the gut, arms, face. When she talked to his parents, they said, “We don’t want to upset him. You’ll just have to put up with it. You’re the adult! He’s not really hurting you,” and went on to sing his extraordinary praises. Of course, she quit, and then found this was very common in other families there. I know another young person, a Korean immigrant, who was raised by the internet. Her parents both worked 10- to 12-hours a day, so after she got home from school, she was alone for hours, so she was on her computer. This began as far back as she could remember. She had a very difficult time forming relationships. She couldn’t figure them out. Their unpredictability made her nervous and confused.

    Society is changing. I can’t imagine 2020.

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  11. Please read this article today by Phillip Bump on Sanders. (Except for Katiebird! who apparently is a Bernie gal) I don’t know if this url will show up. If not, it is on washingtopost.com and titled: How Bernie Sanders is hijacking the Democratic Party to be elected as an independent.

    • … I actually left the party after Hillary stopped her 2008 campaign and had to reregister as a dem to vote for Bernie. I don’t feel bad about that at all.

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