Hello my friends – time for a podcast once again. Afghanistan is the subject of the hour – but I haven’t heard a single word said yet, which reflects context or memory. Never in my own living memory has the professional news media industry been quite so dumb, casually racist, dishonest, immoral, or counterproductive.

As usual – I have several other big ideas to discuss as well – I try hard to make these programs useful, time independent and general, rather than going into huge depth about momentary situations and perishable technicalities. But propaganda is weird stuff. This century has nearly perfected lying by omission, which enables ideas which would be obviously insane, if we didn’t buy into the first lie.

In any frightening upheaval, there are always questions of who was at fault and who bears the responsibility (not necessarily the same who). The question for those who must fix things is how.

 

 

 

The questions we in the west could most helpfully ask ourselves, but refuse to, because we lack the courage to face a mirror honestly, are – why do we keep finding ways to justify incalculable disaster, every time something below our consciousness boils our blood and demands immediate action?

Why do we think everyone else’s business is our business to be solved at the point of our bayonet? – especially when we haven’t even managed to get our own business running smoothly yet?

Are we just fantasizing our self importance out of all proportion, and drinking way too much coffee?

Is the west a fundamentally homicidal project, which is too dishonest or ignorant to admit its nature?

Is running a whole series of teaser-lines in a row, all ending with a question-mark an “Aspect or assumption of whiteness?” Tune-in to todays exciting episode, to find out!

Cheers, pals

Happy hugs of gratitude where things are good – and sad hugs for grief and consolation elsewhere. 

¯\_()_/¯

3 Comments

  1. Sometimes I think you’re setting too high a bar for people when it comes to keeping emotions out of their interactions and thinking. In a sense, the spirit of our age at its best is more Kirk than Spock. Intuitive, bold, experimentally curious and not risk-averse – opportunistic, you might say. Enterprising. This is not to say people “are” that way – as you rightly point out, there’s a kind of tentativeness (or inferiority complex, or inferiority attitude) that many adopt as a convenient default. Maybe we embrace the logico-deductive certitude of Spock, content to skirt dubious nebulae, sticking with the familiarity of that which at least resembles where man has gone before. But while Kirk undoubtedly has had more reprimands from HR for potentially toxic workplace behaviour – which just means flouting protocol, which is what such authorities exist to police – he means well.

    Since Star Trek is fiction, the hero can always get away with “meaning well” without having to deal with the gridlock of misunderstanding. He and his merry crew continue in their quest for knowledge – which seems also to be the fullest realization of their identities — their cosmic purpose. For they know – they must know – that such a quest has no end, but also no end of value.

    Likewise, in interpersonal terms, misunderstanding can also seem to be endless. Kirk and Spock are complex beings that are not defined by their points of contrast, that change and evolve and learn and share, and complement one another precisely because they are friends. They misunderstand one another, but they achieve understanding. Or something like communication. More to the point, they share meaningful experiences.

    One problem is that the most “well-adjusted” among us also have the greatest tolerance for the negative aspects of our system. They regularly get positive feedback from their participation in it. Maybe they’re optimistic, or too busy, or just plain ignorant of the obstacles and injustices that others experience up-close. And those who have to put up with these obstacles develop their own internal reserve of resilience. But this entails a stoic acceptance of an often lofty and out-of-touch technocratic optimism. This creates a sense that, whatever our innate (or latent) differences, we are not sharing meaning. Over time, we have all become somewhat alienated from the products of our society – good and bad. Our economic agency (and sovereignty) has been usurped.

    So yes, the force of denial is integral to the “functioning” of our very dysfunctional society. There’s always another distraction to stoke the fires of our passing passions, but precious little respect for people’s actual passions – those that give life meaning regardless of how much money is in the bank account.

    Technology manifests this denial in funny ways. Sometimes empowering, sometimes denialistic. And by “technology” I mean everything from language to gadgets to government. It plays with our impulses in ways that are unexpected. More than ever, it acts as a lever for granting or denying access. Our impulses aren’t “bad” – to the extent that our modern age has realized that, we’ve made real progress – but we must pay attention to how they are channeled and, as it were, used. For the benefit of others, or our own. As technology has invaded – or been welcomed into – every corner of our lives over the past two decades, we still haven’t given these issues nearly enough explicit consideration.

    I recall a past discussion about the function and value of “intellectuals”. I think that in the past, the intellectuals – in particular, public intellectuals, who were considered the representatives of larger fields of discourse or traditions of scholarship – played a role in people’s consciousness akin to that of social media now. They held our attention, and to some extent provided the bedrock of plausible assumptions that contextualized our opinions. At their best, these human gadgets could pry open our minds – and our collective mind – to help us seek out new life and new civilizations.

    They were integral to democracy, and I believe they still are. The mixed blessing of social media’s current state is that there is a “siloing” of knowledge and values, where people spend less time and energy exploring things in-depth than they do staking out and defending ideological territory, usually for the enrichment or aggrandizement of a few opinion leaders / influencers. (The fact that “opinion leader” is easily conflated with “influencer” is indicative of the fragility of what should be a load-bearing structure.) But when I say “in-depth”, I also mean a broadening of knowledge rather than an entrenchment. Maybe that says something about our whole idea of discipline-knowledge. Fragmentary, compartmentalized, specialized. Driven by the impulse power of the market.

    By the same token, we can expect people to manifest all sorts of unpredictable, UNdisciplined, “emotional”, and “useless” attitudes and behaviour as part of their metabolism of the overwhelming complexity of this world. I feel I have a duty to tolerate quite a bit of that excess, and whether it be a masking or an unmasking, to accept it without social distance or disdain. So to some extent you have to acknowledge that people will let off steam, sometimes in healthy ways, sometimes not. It may have nothing to do with the policy or program under discussion – but that’s because we aren’t professionals. We aren’t Spock. But a bit too much Kirk is nicely balanced by some Spock.

    Some people are genuinely under-educated, and the education systems in this part of the world are in shambles. People’s relationship with the internet has filled some of that vacuum, and recently has even been enlisted as a convenient measure to pretend to give students an education outside of school. The short-term effects of that are disastrous; however, if this leads to a necessary alteration of our collective attitudes about education going forward, there is reason for optimism. Some of that might mean accepting limits, but there continues to be a powerful elitist tendency to push a particular version of “success” and “empowerment” on people without understanding where they’re actually coming from, and doing great damage in the process. Very profitable damage.

    (A good illustration of this is that dumb old poster with the shiny new sports car and the caption: “Justification for higher education”. Works for the Ferengi, but for humans?)

    You rightly point out that endemic governmental incompetence (if it’s in the third world, we call it “corruption”) has a hugely discrediting effect on government itself, and indeed on democracy. It’s part of the ongoing corporate manipulation and sabotage of both legislative and cultural norms. People become wholly focused on the rat-race of acquisition, and have little patience for democracy’s struggles. Naturally, they still want to signal their social value; they just don’t see how the system continually devalues it.

    I’m talking about the relationship between dignity and democracy. While there used to be a more pervasive sense that “there but for the grace of God go I”, today everyone can assume we’re all part of the same illusory complex of dehumanization and exploitation. It’s the new, gratitude-free “equality”.

    Now, maybe this ties-in with what you say about Adler’s psychology. But I don’t think we do justice to the subject of modern consciousness in the west without acknowledging the profound effects of marijuana legalization. I’m a staunch optimist about this, despite the immaturity with which this advance is still being handled by some. Pot can help people see those scripts you refer to, and recognize their contingency, and integrate new elements into what might otherwise have ossified into unquestioned assumptions. Furthermore, marijuana represents a move away from materialism. Insert all the caveats here about addiction, brave-new-world manipulation and so on. When used in moderation, marijuana generally inspires more creativity and less capitalist “productivity” (drudgery, climbing of corporate hierarchies, etc.) for the sake of mindless consumption of largely disposable goods. You know, keeping our sick society mainlining oil. While it does not solve life’s problems, the social effects of its moderate enjoyment appear to be beneficial. And this is exactly why its use was – and still is – banned in many regions, and harshly punished. The demystification of it is a huge win for humanity.

    Incidentally, with the utmost respect for those holding the full range of opinions on the use of the covid vaccines, it has been remarkable to see so much of the developed world take a hard-line “pro-drug” approach, even after it had been established that the vaccines are not sterilizing (don’t stop transmission), that natural immunity is robust, and that the virus is likely to be endemic. The logical application would be one of moderation – as a preventative treatment, proportional to risk. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our leadership has gone all-in on the pharmaceutical solution in an attempt to eradicate the virus itself. The current stance is “Just say no to covid – and take drugs”. For any other disease of comparable risk this would be considered reckless. The fear and stigma around covid – much of it a product of media sensationalism – has made all this justifiable on economic grounds (“recovery”). Even the threatened exclusion of undesirables from public life with the vaccine passports. We’re at war, after all.

    Perhaps it is to our credit that most of us cannot grasp the fundamental sociopathy of war – or look appreciatively on its occasional “functional” merits. We are indeed blessed if we haven’t had to encounter that abyss. To feel like we had zero agency over our lives – that even our society is falling apart. But on September 11th, and at occasional points since, we have felt the emptiness of inhumanity, the abandonment inherent in every act of violence. And what did Bush say? – go shopping. Stimulating the economy is the patriotic thing to do. Don’t let the terrorists win.

    Of course, violence is often more symbolic than anything, and while I don’t know how horrified liberal media figures were while watching the events of January 6th, the fact that they still insist on calling them an “insurrection” seems like an opportunistic framing. The fact that doing so prevents them from dutifully covering the many scandals ensuing regarding the management of the pandemic makes me wonder whether there has indeed been an insurrection, just not the one they describe. Tribal politics can completely destroy journalistic integrity. Not to mention the public’s rational trust of the media. Their irrational trust is greater than ever, with each station becoming effectively a propaganda wing of the corporate elite’s colonization of our psyches.

    This works by division – by introducing narratives of blame, redemption, etc. Now it’s the vaccinated vs. the unvaccinated. (See some of Justin Trudeau’s latest comments. I never thought he’d turn out to be the most divisive PM in Canadian history.) The “othering” is just so boring. Yet it also distracts us, offering temporary respite from our boredom. When you see where this is going, it’s apparent that we’re a captive audience to propaganda. Things aren’t black and white. The sooner we recognize that we are all persons of colour, the better we will see the true picture of our shared humanity. Our continuing mission: to do something.

    We can always pay lip-service to the best ideas – and some of us do – but when people speak their true minds and hearts, things can get messy. Then the skill to employ is listening. That takes self-control too – to not take offense prematurely, or even offer well-meaning but inappropriate advice, which is often taken as an admonition or a self-serving rationalization to take the edge off the pain. As you see, the self-control here has nothing to do with “objectivity”, and everything to do with humanity. We need empathy, intuition, and logic, to use our judgement in unlocking this mystery – a spirit of shared adventure and a sense of humour to live in the moment, set a course for the future, and engage.

    • Hi Ian

      Sorry to be so woefully slow answering you – I always appreciate your thoughtful input. Kirk over Spock is hilarious and right on point – Osiris ceding to Horus has always been a mite obscurantist, for common understanding. (though Crowley’s idea that this is the age of “The crowned and conquering child” has haunted me ever since I first heard it, for it’s terrifying and ever increasing relevance).

      You’re right also about my ‘asking quite a lot of people’ – relative to our current operative tempo and temperament, anyhow. But I’m not that old, and I’ve seen huge numbers of people operate in a lot of other ways – most of which lead to more hope and happiness in a life, for whatever other imperfections they might have.

      I think the inferiority/fear thing is directly related to our pathetically widespread avoidance of emotional maturity. So many adults are walking around with the sort of tempers and self discipline we might more reasonably expect of toddlers. (That is, by staying wedded to false/infantile standards we remain rudderless, instead of facing our situation and responding to it)

      Branching (and ever more distant) lines of meaning is a great insight! Indeed, I have entered so many odd fields of work and sidelined subcultures that I’ve seen this dynamic from above, below and many times and versions of around the corner. What baffles me most isn’t that people understand differently, but that they are so insistent that their own models must be adopted by others, and so incurious about the rich experience which they haven’t ever had, to learn from. (We tres dumb – and hilariously sure about it!)

      The intersection of the “Intelligentsia” and social media is indeed filled with deep weirdness. They ought to be the sanest and most responsible voices we are hearing – but many of them, especially in the last five years or so, have basically filled their diapers, and now spend their time flinging faeces. As domesticated primates, we instantly recognize and approve of this form of communication, but then again, it also strongly suggests evolution to be bidirectional.

      I think the implosion of responsibility in the intellectual class is a result of their sustained (and suffocating) arrogance, combined with broadly immature standards of thought and conduct. These are magnified hugely in our modern media environment – I agree that silos of awareness and agreement are a clear problem – especially because every consensus ‘truth clique’ comes with a bit of crazy, just so you can be distinguished from the evil hordes of ‘them’ by showing any sign at all of skepticism (intelligence).

      But I think the even simpler arrogance which applies is that the best-read are always the most, not the least, susceptible to propaganda – and worse, they assume their cleverness protects them, and so fail to challenge weak ideas which appeal to their already established emotional inclinations.

      The more sophisticated also tend to be more alienated from their basic physicality, and have a harder time dealing with fear and threat as a result (my yoga and your martial arts combine very helpfully with our poverty, here). Added to this, the middle and upper classes fear potential loss of income and opportunity they don’t even need or use, far more than those who live with stark limits for decades, and have learned to work around it, and find their pleasures in the margins.

      So we have people who assume they are right, and deserve to be comfortable and respected, who also believe any old shite which the CIA (or any other Madison Ave by other means branch of Govt) props up before them and reads with a straight face – suddenly feeling their status respect and livelihood under two kinds of threat. The great and increasingly impatient unwashed, who simply won’t buy the BS “Reward when you get to heaven” plan anymore. And a vast vague mystery-threat to the centre of the universe itself (sacred them).

      What the disease is and how best to deal with it is complex, and I know several folks who are actively involved with the huge number of people who are working very hard to figure it out at both the societal and individual treatment level, so I stay rigorously humble on those pronouncements. I know I don’t know much. However, I am objectively grateful that we in Toronto are having a much easier fourth wave than many (so far – touch wood). The difference in lives lost is definitely worth some pain.

      But on a psychological and political level, especially combined with Trump panic, covid may just be the vaguest and most broadly stupefying threat since F-you Shima radiation.

      I know a guy who was a kid, riding his bike home from school the day Chernobyl got really bad. It started to rain, and the rain was heavy and greasy, and before he got home, that rain had melted his synthetic windbreaker into slime! Of course the whole world freaked out – and then built even more fossil fuel generating stations – like idiots. We will absolutely trade certain destruction in the long term (hopefully visited on our grandkids, not us) rather than face a mysterious immediate and personal feeling threat. Seems to be wiring, more than software (though that is a very tricky question to find a control group for – and thus, amost impossible to study with the life-and-death immediacy any relevant insight would demand).

      Covid is a knife at your throat (mentally) Global warming is a sniper in a tree, three kilometres away, and perfectly disguised anyhow (Behind a ‘Free Beer and Pizza’ sign). So now many people are freaking out and some are actually begging the government to do the impossible for them – remove their fear – as well as those things which it actually can do reasonably well.

      Some especially gutless imbeciles are pleading in a way that shows no self respect (or awareness of history) whatsoever. “Take my rights for as long as you want, take my speech without any public debate about the new standards, take my first born’s economic future, based on any theory you like – just spare me (and the pool-house, and the second Maserati)

      Thing is – the government can’t promise safety to any individual – but there are always some in government who are prepared (if not salivating) and immediately ready to take any kind of right or money the public is willing to part with, and then try to make that new policy feel like ruling precedent.

      There absolutely is a question in any challenging situation about how many people will show respect for others and behave well in simple ways, and how many are reckless or deliberately malicious in their conduct. But to conflate skepticism with aggression is not only unfair, but totally ineffective. It signals to a whole bunch of people who are afraid “Don’t worry – Daddy is mad at the bad thing” without persuading anyone who is reluctant, or even just openly debating the questions, to be fair to those lovely people who always think a whole lot about everything.

      Personally, I wish Brett and Fauci would just have it out in a live, uncensored no holds barred pay-per-view debate (I would suggest Vegas, as ideal) ten full rounds, no tap-outs allowed. I would say two hours of that, and tens of thousands of skeptics would at least feel listened-to and fairly treated. Wouldn’t hurt ‘shots in arms’ either, if that was their top priority.

      The political jeopardy right now (completely separate from, though badly overpowered by, the pandemic) is made much creepier by that ever-widening gulf of meaning you described. We don’t have a useful and emotionally strong set of common referents anymore – and considering our rising popular aggression toward anyone who dares speak sense to both sides, in a language that actively interests both sides, there is little reason to feel optimistic about this understanding blossoming with the speed we’d probably need, to sustain civil culture.

      But as you say – there actually is considerable reason for optimism in several other ways. A huge range of institutions within “The system” are being questioned as never before, by people for whom they always just seemed inevitable.

      For one, I would have to say public education is almost done now. The left forgot the prayer in schools principle thirty years ago, and even the UN charter of human rights – which actually does say everyone has a right to have their children educated by their beliefs – and not those of a colonizer, or any other contemptuous, alien hostile or aggressively anti-cultural mindset. Higher education is even more doomed (I bet credentialism will go digital in sync as Universities fail – if it didn’t start already doing that just now, when I wasn’t looking). Then again, that funny blogging repairman I follow in NYC had a smart notion the other day. He thinks that some people are more inclined to do and make stuff (work like crazy) and some less so. (I’ve seen this simple differenece proven also – and the energetic tend to stay so, just as much as those without such drive). Most people who have this extra initiative are told “Go to university” so there is a statistical correlation between university and “success”. But he and many of his friends dropped out in first year, because there were too many interesting things going on in tech, and they didn’t want to screw around for four years and be left behind. Sure enough, the especially maniacal types in his circle have done well, simply through their own steady industry (fail and get up again, being standard steps upward).

      The more worrisome question to me is whether we are going see bifurcations in other once universal institutions. Shockingly different forms of law between one region and another? We’re there already, right? Past a certain point, this Balkanization overwhelms the federation itself. Hammurabi would have worried. Rule of law rules, or you have no empire.

      Working on the question of finding a principled centre where sincere people can meet with respect and trust again – and global warming – and finding deep meaning and purpose in an age of cultural implosion and narcissistic nihilism is itself quite a stiff mix – tall order, too. (Why I would far rather concentrate on warfare and huge populations in peril of immediate violence, than micro aggressions)

      RESPECT is not a luxury product which we can afford to hoard in miserly fashion and give only to friends and allies. If we as citizens cannot figure out how to find it for one another – as a LEADING ASSUMPTION, we don’t deserve any of the lovely stuff we keep saying we want. This is not a practise-run – but it IS a test. So far, we are failing very very very badly.

      Leftists say – “But look how crazy that guy on the right is being, so scary, right?” and I usually agree. Even if they have the details wrong, I am rarely in agreement with the policy or event they describe.

      Centrists, skeptics and right wingers say “But look how crazy that idiot on the left is being, scary, isn’t it?” And honestly, I have to agree just as often.

      You sort of want to grab them all by the scruff of the neck and knock their heads together, perhaps yelling NO! BAD DOG! Or something similar.

      Blindly certain maniacs are not good at understanding, practicality, honour, friendship or clear thinking, which means they are not ever good political leaders, cultural icons, intellects, not even good mainstream citizens – and without question they are especially shitty and honour-less reporters.

      Like I say – so far, we are really doing badly on the big test.
      And much as I’d rather be partying – midterms are coming!

      Anyhow – let us hope more people begin to remember and assert their humane qualities and subtler understandings, and start looking past reasons for guzzling hatred and righteousness.

      We’ve all had quite enough of crueler heads prevailing, haven’t we?

      Cheers man. Love and hugs.
      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      PS – Did you catch the resurfacing of the old (and quite brilliant) ACLU policy paper, which specifically described a pandemic as an especially great hazard for governmental over-reach? Fascinating read, if you haven’t caught it (and best do it quick, before it is erased in proper Orwellian style). Reminds me of the one brilliant line in ‘Rollerball’. “What’s the problem?” (with the computer) “We seem to have lost the eighteenth century”. Seriously though, in it’s way – this paper is as chilling as the classic PNAC paper which said they really needed a “Pearl Harbour” style attack on America, to jam through their terrifying anti-democratic agenda. (and worse, history has proven they were absolutely right about that).

      • No worries about any “delay” in responding to my posts, I know you’re plenty busy. A few thoughts:

        What you say about the industriousness of many under-credentialed people is confirmed by my experience too. I know a handful of engineers (in electrical, sound, and film) that ditched school because it was either too boring or not hands-on enough, or they were smart enough to make actual money right away (rather than go deeply into debt). It remains to be seen how this will play out today. The recession suggests not only that credentials will be more necessary, but also, social-cultural realignment has made opportunities for learning outside of the classroom (digital though it may be) scarce in some ways. With all the human-avoidance (“social distancing”) of our current era, I’d say many are pretty much screwed for the time being. But you’re right that in some respects the failure of these institutions has been more of a slow-motion trainwreck than a sudden catastrophe attributable to distinct factors.

        In any case, despite the value and even practical utility of social science and philosophy, I’m not sure how much money there is to be made in it. (Somewhere between “crippling debt” and “scraping by”.) The market for these kinds of discussions is disappearing, having been corrupted largely from within. It’s hard to measure productivity, or progress, in these fields. It’s almost the inverse of what you say about the tech egg-heads. The humanities types often place a high value on agreeableness and social connection – less so on rigor and conscientiousness. People get into the social sciences / humanities and then fail to be challenged – in fact they are “dumbed down”. Their youthful idealism is pandered to. But they stick with it because they don’t want to feel left behind. I believe it is possible to innovate in these fields, and have types of learning that are as stimulating as they are challenging and practical. Life-affirming. And yes, I dropped out of a couple such programs, precisely because they interfered with my study of their subject matter!

        I should say this. No one denies the importance of industriousness. (Well, that’s not quite true, but bear with me.) But there can be – and are – many examples of successful people who persevered and are doing okay, and still many others who have had the opposite experience. On the one hand, the latter group need to adapt and persevere anyway, in whatever they end up doing; but there’s a minimum level of survival and access to resources that they can’t achieve. And that problem(s) – roughly speaking, increasing inequality, including the under-acknowledged “digital divide” – is structural.

        This in turn breeds deep cynicism about the system and its institutions. As does the moralizing about perseverance. (Victim-blaming, adding insulting to injury, etc.) Although a corollary of this moralizing is that it often idealizes the system and success within it, in unrealistic (and unrealizable) ways.

        Insofar as left and right each criticize the other but immunize themselves to self-criticism (achieving illusory pockets of herd immunity), they are hopelessly inapt for anything worthwhile – for any sort of principled and disciplined structural change. They’re too busy trying to reassure their insecure adherents. (Pro-tip: the inoculation only works if you avoid the unclean.)

        The major takeaway here should be that all left-right framings of EVERYTHING should be tossed, since they produce far more confusion than they facilitate communication. Sure, culturally I have tended to align far more with those professing “leftist” values, but that has changed substantially since the early 2000’s. I not only don’t identify with contemporary leftist renderings of “feminist”, “anti-racist”, “ally”, etc. – I positively abhor them. And it’s just as well, because many “conservatives” today are what in the 90’s you would have deemed a centrist / liberal, and support gender equality, gay rights, abortion rights, etc. There are occasional points of disagreement, but it’s often merely a matter of emphasis. And I’m finding that a lot of “conservatives” are open to valid criticisms of big tech and pharmaceutical extremism, and strong supporters of free speech. Whereas even leftists I have known for years have now adopted smug hypocrisy and tunnel vision as their preferred orientation. Not to be a Jordan Peterson fan-boy, but he is a pivotal figure in this divide. The fact that so many leftists have been in effect “trained” to vilify him – by the liberal media and academic establishments, most notably – is such a waste of intellectual capital. He’s as good an example as you can find of a public figure whose value is not reducible to any extent of agreement with him.

        I’m not sure which Brett you’re referring to (Weinstein?), but any honest debate showcasing the best skeptical views on covid restrictions and mandates – with Fauci especially – would very much hurt the cause of shots-in-arms, because more shots aren’t needed. Nor are lockdowns and masks – I’m talking about mandated measures, of course, preventative measures can and should be employed on an as-needed basis. What we’re seeing right now is straight-up authoritarianism, i.e. a suspension of constitutional rights.

        Maybe the most pertinent thing to recognize about covid at this point is just how unequal it is in its effects. For example, to compare covid to the 1918 flu, as some have done on occasion, is misleading. That flu killed many orders of magnitude more young, healthy people. Severe outcomes from covid have a pronounced stratification with age and comorbidities (especially obesity). And in decades past, overall life expectancy was quite a bit lower than it is today. The callous way of saying this is that we now keep people alive longer, with varying types of “unnatural” or at least atypical interventions, even while they nurse chronic conditions directly attributable to lifestyle / consumption. But we’re also healthier in other ways. This virus has a unique range of effects.

        ( If you’re interested, Justin Hart does credible in-depth analysis of covid data. Note that these charts are over an almost two-year period: https://covidreason.substack.com/p/perspective-on-covid-19-mortality )

        I hasten to add here that diseases of “lifestyle” / habit are not the fault of the individual suffering them. Despite being today a critic of lockdowns, masking, vaccine mandates and the like, I was for a long time on-board with accepting restrictions to save the lives of vulnerable people – heck, even more so if our backward society taught them habits that have weakened them. But it increasingly appears that we are being made to accept such restrictions precisely to keep us in that weakened state.

        So I’m really not talking about “the privileged” deciding to coast and work from home for a year-plus, and expect others to do the same. Clearly everyone has their own unique situation and considerations, and covid was (or still is) a new and scary beast. My attitude has always been live and let live. (Given our abundance, I don’t see why that should be considered unreasonable. We can open up for the same reasons we shut down.) But despite being rationalized as equity-focused, the deleterious consequences of the pandemic control measures are themselves experienced unequally, and are substantially worse for the poor.

        The new “safetyism” is very much something clung to by less privileged people, almost as a kind of new piety. The Nietzschean in me says: “Weakness alert”. We could have devised ways to employ throngs of young people and give them valuable life experience, like we did with women during the world wars; instead many of us shelter and coddle the strong (which is to say, weaken them), and insist on badly impoverished forms of “remote learning”. A pretty good demonstration of how we’ve been failing them all along.

        Another way to put this is: risk avoidance can be done in ways that are life-affirming, or not.

        We can and should acknowledge the damages that greatly restricted forms of society can do. And this is why I am open to discussing this, perhaps more than most – who after all, just want to get on with life. The thinking here is analogous to the equity and identity politics stuff. Take the path of least resistance and do as you’re told – especially if you’ll appear noble in the process. An offer you can’t refuse. It also has clear implications for engaging in productive dialogue about environmental challenges and human rights issues throughout the world. If government (or public servants in general) stands in the way of this, what is the bloody point of it?

I am always curious about what you are thinking

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