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essays

Uhtceare is real

I started this blog with the title taken from very old English, as you can see in the header and About page. I seriously considered naming it ‘uhtceare,’ another old word meaning ‘to wake before dawn and not be able to sleep because you’re worrying about something.’ Today, a modern update from ScienceAlert:

The thoughts are often distressing and punitive. Strikingly, these concerns vaporize in the daylight, proving that the 3am thinking was completely irrational and unproductive.

https://www.sciencealert.com/why-do-we-wake-up-at-3am-and-dwell-on-our-fears-a-psychologist-explains

It’s a good read, with solid reasoning. I like this bit:

The truth is, our mind isn’t really looking for a solution at 3am. We might think we are problem solving by mentally working over issues at this hour, but this isn’t really problem solving; it’s problem solving’s evil twin – worry.

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Covid-19 essays recommendations Uncategorized

The Invisible Plague. Images matter. | by James Heathers | Sep, 2021 | Medium

I gravitate towards aggregated measurements. I use words like ‘gravitate’ and ‘aggregated’ when I do it. Sometimes the complaining has been loud, and then someone writes about me in the newspapers…
— Read on jamesheathers.medium.com/the-invisible-plague-c092ab1f7771

Categories
essays Politics

A nice bit of psychological insight into vaccine and mask resistance

Via the reliably-excellent ‘No more mister nice blog’:

If conservatives can’t be protected without being bound, they’d rather not be protected at all.

Steve M

That is, of course, his corollary to Wilhoit’s definition of conservatism:

There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

Frank Wilhoit

Read the whole thing. It’s excellent.

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essays recommendations

Fascinating read about debutantes

I had a grandmother who was an East-coast debutante. This read by AHP places them as a societal solution and resists further simplification. Highly recommended read!

Categories
essays Random recommendations

Building a Cathedral — The Prepared

Well worth your time! https://theprepared.org/features/2019/4/28/building-a-cathedral

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essays recommendations

Excellent news and a reading recommendation

For years, I read the absolutely amazing ‘Do the Math’ blog by Tom Murphy, a UCSD physicist carefully explaining so! many! things! (Energy: generation, storage, usage, loss. Details of his lead-acid solar/battery home setup. So much more)

Now the good news – his dormant blog tells us that he’s written a textbook based on on that work, and even better its been vetted and revised and best yet? Free online and inexpensive if you want a print copy. I cannot recommend this enough. https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2021/03/textbook-debut/

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essays Politics Uncategorized

Immigration Enforcement and the Afterlife of the Slave Ship | Boston Review

Immigration Enforcement and the Afterlife of the Slave Ship from Boston Review. Coast Guard techniques for blocking Haitian asylum seekers have their roots in the slave trade. Understanding these connections can help us disentangle immigration policy from white nationalism.
— Read on bostonreview.net/race/ryan-fontanilla-immigration-enforcement-and-afterlife-slave-ship

Damn. I had literally no idea.

Categories
essays Politics

Understanding power and status

The past four years of the Trump presidency have been dizzying. Watching Trump, honestly a master communicator, whip audiences into frenzies of rage over shared grievance was like, “Damn, he’s a master of triggering his audience” … but what are the sources of the rage? Well, racism was explicit, as was precarity, well larded with disdain/rage for ‘the elites.’

Yet the right wing is and has been dominating. McConnell completely controls the Senate, the House was Republican in 2016, Trump of course, and the Federalist society clones are stuffing the judicial branch with remorseless reactionaries. They have power, and lots of it, well fortified with antimajoritarian structures of electoral college, gerrymandering, Census manipulation and of course the Senate. So where’s the rage from?

All of the above made much more sense after reading this NYT column by Thomas Edsall titled “The Resentment That Never Sleeps” – the two keys are status and last place aversion. Let me explain.

Last place aversion, from this paper of the same name, is a terrible aspect of human nature. We don’t want to be last. Politicians have long understood this on a visceral level:

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” – LBJ

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/lbj-convince-the-lowest-white-man/

Trump uses the combination of precarity and last place aversion to drive his base: “The black and brown people are bad and they’re going to be higher status than you.”

Status is more interesting and more complex. They key thing I learned from Edsall is that the two parties have different status measures and goals – the Democrats use “prestige” based on “notable achievement in a field” and Republicans are using “dominance” based on threats and bullying.

Re-read that last bit. Think: any Trump speech, ‘Fuck your feelings’ campaign shirts, rolling coal, police riots, “owning the libs”, right wing militias and much more. They all make sense if the goal is to intimidate, to cause fear, to dominate.

There’s a ton more in the Edsall piece, it’s superbly researched and linked and worth reading several times.

It’s a bleak read. I don’t expect Biden to be effective in this climate, and I fully expect Trump and McConnell to continue their sabotage. At the same time, as well explained in “Listen, Liberal” the Democrats remain focused only on their white collar constituents and seem deaf to the plight of everyone else:

They are a party of the professional class—a.k.a. the “learning class” or the “creative class”—and they are infatuated with the idea of a post-ideological society in which competence is all that matters.

https://tcfrank.com/product/listen-liberal/

Sound like the prestige status hierarchy to me.

I fear for my country, and that’s no joke.

Categories
essays Politics

Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway | Literary Hub

When Trump won the 2016 election—while losing the popular vote—the New York Times seemed obsessed with running features about what Trump voters were feeling and
— Read on lithub.com/rebecca-solnit-on-not-meeting-nazis-halfway/

A superb essay that I can’t recommend enough.

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essays recommendations

You should’ve asked | Emma

Even before COVID-19, our home was wrestling with the division of chores, emotional labor and of course money. This comic brilliantly lays it out. Here’s a single pane from the middle:

Seriously, go read the whole thing. It’ll change your mind.