Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slick video



via Ethan at 6th or 7th.



I'm beginning to think that blogging may be bad for my psychic health. You read more, make an effort to get better informed and share the fruits of your inquiry, and it seems all you get for your efforts is a more vivid sense of how truly screwed and helpless we are. Not so long ago a friend asked me why I thought so many people invested so much intellectual energy in the distractions of pop culture, and I offered the opinion that it was an act of denial, because it might help people to deal with living in a society that is in a long-term decline and in which ordinary people are essentially powerless to do anything about it. Is this actually true? Naturally I hope not, and that I'm wrong, like the people who predicted an uncontrollable population explosion in the 1970s.

What Rob occasionally talks about regarding the tightening of the internet, appears to be starting down under:

from Time:

"First, China. Next: the Great Firewall of... Australia?",


Is Matthew Yglesias a *&%$in' loon? (via super Avedon)

Two from Naked Capitalism,

One: "Pete Peterson Has Won: Americans Rate Federal Debt as Top Threat"


and the return of debtor's prison.


Booman on lithium(via that wascally Alan Smithee.),

On the other hand, Booman's commenters who call him out, like some of those at Yglesias, are somewhat encouraging. (Especially King Leopold.)

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12 Comments:

At June 16, 2010 9:01 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Our society isn’t just in long term decline it is sick, very sick. The emphasis on self-centered thinking, violence, aggression, mindless tribalism, military worship, arrogance, and conceit is truly revolting. And yes I find American culture revolting but then most cultures are. It almost seems the most insane of any given group influence the state of any given culture more than the saner people do. If that makes any sense.

 
At June 18, 2010 5:49 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, I think we've had this discussion before. Even though American Exceptionalism didn't completely go away in the 90s, a case could be made it went into a somewhat dormant mode, which is preferable to wars in Vietnam or Iraq, etc.

I do think things are worse post-911. No major wars and a balanced budget (with somewhat higher marginal tax rates) and a healthy economy, all of which we had in Clinton's second term, is a preferable state to what we have now.

 
At June 18, 2010 7:02 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

I'm not talking about American Exceptionalism which is far from dormant (my opinion), in fact many nations have their own exceptionalist(?)attitudes. America is hardly unique in this aspect, it's part of the national identity thing. What I'm talking about is our culture and exceptionalism is only a part of that.

What am I talking about? consider blogs, what's the first thing that happens in a blog comment section? The first thing that happens is everyone establishes the pecking order. It's hilarious, if I were an anthropologist I would write a paper on blogs. People even use their blog rolls as a weapon. If they stop liking you they take your link down, LOL. We are obsessed with status and our position in society. We are a very sick society as are all Western societies. As soon as you have a situation where there are different classes this is the beginning of indoctrination and it's source because the ruling classes need to make sure the masses are thoroughly confused as indeed they are.

 
At June 18, 2010 7:48 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

I said that American Exceptionalism seemed to be somewhat dormant in the 1990s. Specifically during the period from 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union, through September 10th, 2001.

As far as blog pecking orders go, I put Counterpunch and other like portals in a separate grouping because they're not blogs, per se. Was that wrong?

 
At June 18, 2010 8:42 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

I said I wasn't talking about exceptionalim. I can honestly say I have not given the arrangement of Counterpunch versus blogs any thought.

 
At June 18, 2010 10:56 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Yeah, I know, but I thought you were indicating how you're upset about the blogroll. (Charles F. Oxtrot closed down his most recent blog, otherwise I was going to link to "Pez Candy." I think he knows that if he comes back in a different iteration and lets me know about it I'll be happy to link to him, and he knows how to get hold of me.)

I imagine there are anthropologists writing papers about blogs. What's both interesting and disheartening to me is how quickly the political-entertainment-big-time journalism nexus co-opted much of blogdom so that now most people think "liberal blog" means stuff like 538, Politico, and the Huffington Post.

 
At June 19, 2010 12:03 AM, Blogger rob payne said...

Jonathan,
Good lord no, I’m not upset about the blogroll. It makes perfect sense to separate sites like Counterpunch from bloggers, those guys are journalists, or mostly. Paul Craig Roberts wrote for the Wall Street Journal etc. so it’s logical to separate. I was speaking in strictly general terms as you have to admit there is a certain comedy to blogs and the human interaction occurring there though that’s because there is a comic side of human interactions where ever they occur. In some ways people are entirely predictable (again speaking in general terms) especially in group situations. What I was trying to say about how fucked up we are as a culture, I mean we still suffer from Victorian morals –people got upset when that woman showed a tit on TV—etc. (the childish reactions to Bill Clinton’s sexual adventures), Arthur Silber has written extensively about how we raise children and how it pertains to the power structure. we are all indoctrinated to varying degrees which is unavoidable and I don’t exclude myself.

I know what you mean about sites like the Huffington Post but I suppose that was to be expected. It seems to me you can write honestly about what you see and feel or you can pander to a wider audience by telling them what they want to hear, much like Obama’s campaign. I don’t care about having a wide audience that much because for one thing that’s too much responsibility. So I just write my opinions, they could be right, they could be wrong, maybe they are stupid or I’m completely delusional or whatever but at least I try to write my own shit.

Getting back to how quickly the Establishment took over the blog world, so to speak, is perhaps why the ruling class does not see the internet as a real threat because they have already effectively neutered it. And it all just reinforces all the propaganda flowing from the Pentagon and the White House, so much so that if you talk outside the boundaries of acceptable political drivel, like poor Helen Thomas found out, you are pushed out of “intelligent” political discourse as a nut. I was just reading how some congressoids are saying people like Thomas are terrorists, amazing. But that’s acceptable. That’s bizzaro.

 
At June 19, 2010 12:46 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

And Digby and Atrios are the liberal, bleeding-edge of leftiness. Anything "lefter" then they are is, well, left out. Ha ha ha ha ha ha...

 
At June 19, 2010 4:03 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

I read all this with great interest, guys. Both of you made some good points (I don't believe you actually disagreed, just clarified), but what struck me strongest was the courteous tone you maintained. That's something that seems to getting all too rare on blogs and the Internet in general: serious people discussing serious subjects without sneers, smears, or insults.

 
At June 20, 2010 10:08 AM, Blogger rob payne said...

Hi Mimi,

Though we try to keep it reasonable there are bound to be instances where people misunderstand or take things personally when they shouldn't. I'm as guilty as anyone.

 
At June 20, 2010 2:15 PM, Blogger Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Rob -- being misunderstood is one of the shortcomings of using blogs and forums instead of in-person discussion. In an e-discussion, you can't see the person's face, can't hear any vocal tone, can't see what gestures he/she may be making.

Emoticons try to help on that point, but I find them all a bit cutesy and avoid using them. But I will confess that as a blunt communicator who often posts impatiently, though with humor... one gets used to misunderstandings.

I think we've even had a few here where I've replied to Bob in Pacifica but you thought I was replying to you! Heh heh heh.

Jonathan -- thanks for mentioning that you would put my blog up, but I'm retired from blogging for the time being, mainly to try to gain some sanity via distance, where I avoid reading news and opinion/perspective at the same levels I used to read them over the past 5-7 years. Now I just spend about 15-20 mins daily reading a few blogs, and move on with my daily events. I don't really have much hope for blogs being an agent of change.

But I do think they are good at helping one vent frustration, and finding out whether others may share in that frustration.

The problem remains rooted in the broad-spectrum forms of distraction available to most Americans. Unless and until people really feel literally over a barrel or up against a wall (to use two played-out metaphors) in their own lives, and unless and until they can see that such a situation depends on how our society is arranged and conducted in a top-down fashion through politics and infotainment, we will continue to find ourselves in a significant minority, unable to effect much change.

Like Sisyphus.

Most of my friends are starting to see the dire nature of the American society now, but nearly all of them are resigned to avoidance. If I had to label any stereotype as American, I would use this one:

"It's not my problem. Someone else will fix it. I have better things to do."

 
At June 20, 2010 4:25 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Charles,

Absolutely, all those little signals are crucial to understanding intent. Also we all forget that people on blogs actually have lives and we may never know what may be going on in them. Oh yeah, I’ve put my foot in mouth more than once. I call it Foot in Mouth Disease.

 

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