Thursday 14th of December 2017

he owned a refrigerator...

spurring the spirit

... He simply noticed that people were replacing instead of repairing, and buying two when one would do, all on money they didn’t have thanks to the exploding consumer credit market. Much of the criticism directed his way seems to have been a case of projection; was it not the consumerists who were the revolutionaries, remaking American life and the American economy overnight?

It was Packard who wondered whether we shouldn’t talk about this first. He was a conservative in the temperamental sense, in the sense that he believed the status quo deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Though it was his denunciations of advertising and consumerism that made him famous, Packard waded into many other topics throughout his writing career, in which his conservative streak also shines.

In The Sexual Wilderness (1968), Packard turned his attention to the Sexual Revolution and its effects on romance and relationships. One of his more data-heavy books, it traces the loosening of sexual mores in ways that now seem quaint. Forty percent of college women, for example, were sexually active—an alarming increase over the previous decade. Packard’s final conclusion—that sex between committed and stable but unmarried partners should be tolerated, but that general promiscuity should not—may seem squishy to rock-ribbed social conservatives. But it is far more conservative than almost anyone on the left, or frankly the right, will allow for today, especially in a mainstream and secular book.

In A Nation of Strangers, published in 1972, Packard presciently warned against the “attrition of communal structure” brought on by Americans’ increasing tendency to move, splitting up extended families and rooted communities. This was often, he noted, a result of corporate ladder-climbing, which required transferring often and all over the country. He recounts an anecdote involving a CEO who forced his entire company to relocate halfway across the country rather than relocate himself.

Packard also decried the suburban trend towards wiping out true public spaces. Two decades before the great mall-building spree of the 1990s, he worried that shopping malls were becoming the only “public” spaces where young people could meet up and hang out. That they were designed to promote consumerism was a feature, not a bug. Packard, it seems, was something of a New Urbanist.

Packard’s prose is rarely moving and sometimes clunky, but he was able to intuit and even predict the anxieties of postwar America better than almost anyone else. Much of what we talk about now, and many of our current anxieties, hearken back to Packard’s popular books. When environmentalist and social critic James Howard Kunstler describes America as “physically arranged on-the-ground to produce maximum loneliness, arranged economically to produce maximum anxiety, and disposed socially to produce maximum alienation”; when activist Annie Leonard denounces the cult of consumption; when sociologist Robert Putnam surveys an America in which we are increasingly “bowling alone”; all are echoing Packard, who saw the downsides and discontents of our new way of living at a time when most people were still discovering its benefits.   

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/americas-forgotten-post-...

 

the greater divide...

 

The social-media-as-villain narrative is gripping because it plays vividly to our fears. But that is not the only reason it holds such sway. It also lets us collectively off the hook. Why are half of Americans thinking and acting in ways the other half cannot comprehend? Why did one of those halves choose Donald Trump to be their president? Easy, the social media narrative would say: They were brainwashed. They were duped by the bad guys — fake news or Russian robots or big-data-driven algorithmically targeted psi-ops propaganda.

At some fundamental level, they don’t really mean what they are saying, and if only they weren’t so gullible or so vulnerable they would see things our way. To find solutions we don’t need to look at our own behavior, or values, or consumption patterns — we just need to beat the bad guys at the gate.

As tempting as that story is, it is at best incomplete. Like many inflection points in history, this one was probably not caused by any single change, but by the fact that many important changes happened to converge at the same time. The factors that likely matter the most are those that have caused the real experiences of Americans to diverge.

read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/opinion/is-media-driving-americans-apart.html

It's fair that some people in the media be looking at their own navels... Their conclusion on the malaise is a a bit suspect. They forget their own sickness. One of the major "fact" that the general MMMM (mediocre mass media de mierda) was that by supporting Hillary, they left the American populace more divided than ever. The Bias has been thick and sticky. Many people could not trust the media any more, not even for a dog/bus accident. 

The media had not done its job when the war on Saddam was being plotted by the US government. The media loved biffo, sill loves biffo and carries on with biffo in regard to the Russian/Trump so-called connection, some of which existed but was legal, but none actually interfered with the elections. Despite making noises to a rapprochement with the Russians DURING THE election process, the Russians had nothing to gain by interfering, because they knew (it was not a secret) The Donald was as mad as the other one, in the same proportion the American public knew about it. It was one of the most wicked choice. Bernie Sanders was the only choice for America's and the world's future. The Murdoch media would not let this happen... The Democrats' machine would not let this happen. The "liberal" media would not let this happen. They had their first "female" President they glorified beyond belief and she was going to be a shoe in. The Murdoch media was playing a different tune. The social media was divided equally, though rabidly, but then the "liberal" media and the Murdoch media were both infuriating...

Advertising both candidate was promoting obsolescence of politics in the USA... Tragic.

 

social media and big media...

Big media has become concentrated in fewer hands for two main reason: first to make money and second to control the narrative. Social media has exploded this model. In a study for Science Magazine, Matthew Gentzkow tells us:

A robust and informative media has long been viewed as critical to the functioning of democracy (13). Much popular discussion suggests that media are becoming less able to fulfill this role. Traditional news organizations seem weakened and battered, shedding staff and influence even as social media introduces a tide of new threats. Polarization seems to have cut countries in two, with each side hearing news and information only from its own partisan sources. Many look back with nostalgia at a time when the nightly TV news set a common agenda for the vast majority of citizens. The landmark study by King et al. (4) on page 776 of this issue offers an important counterpoint. Drawing on the first experimental study in which the content of media outlets has been randomized on a large scale, it suggests that mainstream U.S. journalism remains more relevant, more influential, and more connected to a broad cross-section of people than many might have thought possible.

Read more:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6364/726

 

Matthew Gentzkow's conclusion is comforting for this little site (YD):

Although social media gives a platform to many objectionable voices, it also makes it possible for journalist at innumerable small outlets to participate in the conversation as well. The results of King et all. suggest that when they speak, many are listening. 

let's hope more of you hear us... Read from top. see also:

reminiscent of 1968...

sad...

 

This, Bargh suggests, might explain how sexual harassers can genuinely tell themselves: “‘I’m behaving like anybody does when they’re attracted to somebody else. I’m flirting. I’m asking her out. I want to date her. I’m doing everything that you do if you’re attracted to somebody.’ What they don’t realise is the reason they’re attracted to her is because of their power over her. That’s what they don’t get.”

Perhaps the single most confronting revelation of Bargh’s work is its implications for consumer capitalism. It’s not that our economic model makes us sad – although it does – so much that making us sad is good for consumer capitalism.

He describes a study by a Harvard social psychologist. “It found that sad people not only buy more, but they pay more. They’re willing to pay more because, basically, when we’re sad, we want to change state.” Someone feeling sad would rather spend £100 than £10, “because it changes the state more. And stores know this.”

Ever wondered why shops like to pipe out mournful music, or why Walmart plays Céline Dion on a loop? Well, Bargh grins – there’s your answer.

“They don’t want us to be happy; they want us to be sad. Politicians want us to be fearful. All these things are not in our own interests at all. They’re manipulating us for their own interest, and against our own, and I think that’s horrible.”

read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/dec/08/yale-psychologist-john-bargh-politicians-want-us-to-be-fearful-theyre-manipulating-us-for-their-own-interest

See also: 

 

of romance...

 

and:

 

the downfall of a "profession"...

 

consuming religious hubris...

Some people (including myself) are annoyed that I am obsessed with (against) religion (again!). That is not the question nor the proposition. My personal position is that there is far too much rubbish constantly expressed by religious organisations (and secular ones as well, such as the ABC — the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and individual pushers with professor or doctor in front of their names. As a atheistic ethicist (if I can call myself this, instead of an old neurotic red ned drinker), I feel it is always necessary to expose the cons, the contradictions and the erroneous hubris used by this rubbish to apportion value to religious beliefs, especially in our modern times, in which an aspirin can arrest 99 per cent of pain — and a good dentist can stop your mouth looking like the butt of an old chicken. 


Often, the religious believers use condescending superiority to denigrate or patronise our seeking of better comforts through earthly goods, services and thoughts, rather than by spiritual means. Yes I know, we can’t take it with us when we die... The Pharaohs tried that caper and their tombs got robbed by non-spiritual thieves. On the whole though, rich people are not so encumbered with such dilemma. They plunder according to rules which are more less their own, designed to make sure they don’t kill too many geese with the golden eggs, us, the consumers. So, what is spirituality? Spirituality is the erroneous belief that our mind exists outside out body. Belief in spirituality is usually aligned with our poor understanding of our origins (evolution) and of reality (quantified and qualified observations with scientific interpretation). Thus what is a mind? The mind is our ability to bio-manage our memory in action — actively or reactively, using all the tools provided by the body from sensors (senses), habits to hormonal secretion, to make things happen. It works. 


Luigino Bruni, a Professor of Economics at LUMSA Universita (Christian ethics) in Rome, tells us with sarcasm that: “Blessed are the Consumers, for They Shall Inherit the Kingdom of Capitalism”... This is bullshit. 

First, consumers are not spiritual, thus they cannot be “blessed” and second consumers never inherit the kingdom of capitalism. All the consumers do is to be subjects (serfs) in variously graded order, mostly knaves, in a  well-orchestrated kingdom ruled by “capitalists” — the board of directors being politicians, industrialists and multi-nationals who run the Ponzi scheme, in which more (of whatever profitable goods or ideas) is the necessary ingredient for the survival of the scheme. Anything that becomes sustainable (stagnant level of consumption) is anathema to this scheme. The scheme is totally contrary to nature, but has been nurtured for a long time by various religious tricks, including “the poor shall inherit the earth” and “go and conquer the world, subdue nature” blah blah blah...


Here, Luigino Bruni tells us:

The new marketing of the post-scarcity era no longer presents products with their technical specifications and commercial qualities. It does not bewitch us by describing the properties of the goods; instead, it enchants us by telling stories. Like our grandparents did, like the Bible did and still does. The new advertising is more and more like the invention of stories using the typical language of myths, where the aim is to activate the emotion of the consumer, their symbolic code, desires and dreams - not only and no longer his needs.

And so to sell us their wares, new businesses make us dream by resorting to the evocative power of myths: just like faiths, like the stories that have shaped our religious and social heritage. With one major difference, though: the stories of faiths and the fairy tales of our grandmothers were greater than us and they were all and only gratuitousness. Their aim was to convey a gift, a promise, a liberation to us, bringing them back to life just for us every time. They did not want to sell us anything, only to transmit an inheritance to us.

By contrast, the emotional storytelling of the capitalism of today and tomorrow wants only and exclusively to sell us something. They have nothing for free and are smaller than us because they lack the gratuitousness that made the other stories great: new businesses tell us stories to increase profits for those who invest a lot of money into the invention and telling of those stories - which, in the end, are nothing but plagiarism and imitations of the great religious narratives they, too, have received for free and then recycled for profit.

The stories of yesterday, the eternal ones, have been able to charm us because they did not want to enchain us. The stories told for profit are, however, all just variants of the fairy tale of the Pied Piper: if he is not paid for his work, this “merchant” goes back to town, and while we are engaged in our new cults in the new churches, he drives away our children with his charmer flute, forever.

Thus far, the history of civilization has taught us that gratuitousness employed without gratuitousness does not last, and soon the bluff is discovered. But perhaps the greatest innovation of the capitalism of tomorrow will be to transform gratuitousness itself into a commodity, and it will be done so well that we will not be able to distinguish fake generosity from the genuine kind.

But we can still save ourselves from this tremendous manipulation, which would be the greatest of all, if we keep the great stories of gratuitousness safeguarded by the faiths. Or if we conserve the seed of gratuitousness in that last space of our souls that we managed to preserve and not to put on sale.


http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2017/10/10/4747385.htm


Yes, we, some of us, have discovered the religious bluff a long time ago, including the fake gratuitousness of the religious fables... And what is a soul? A soul is the valued spirituality ascribed to individuals. A soul is worth peanuts since spirituality does not exist (except in our bio-mechanical imagination). Meanwhile the consumer is manipulated by the oncoming idea of Christmas underpinning that commerce can provide for profit, as the consumers’ kids get a lesson in obsolescent indulgence:


Picture a crowded toy store. You know the type.

The aisles are packed. Lights flashing up, music blaring. Mums and dads and grandparents jostling to get past each other. Kids pushing every button they can reach. The soft hum of gift requests constantly in the background.

It’s the peak time of year for the billion-dollar global toy industry. Amid the cut-throat competition, advertisers have one main goal, according to marketing experts.

It is getting on a child’s Christmas list to Santa.

It is prompting a kid to say “Muuuuum, can we get this?” in the aisle of that toy shop.

It is becoming the talk of the playground, and persuading a child that they simply must have this toy this Christmas, and they need to tell mum or dad.


http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2017/10/10/4747385.htm


-------------


Consumerism has no gratuitous in it. Nor has religion.


“Nothing has more value than an act of gratuitousness” says Bruni on his website. He does not use the word “altruism”. Why not? Is altruism too much associated with atheism? Is gratuitousness associated with “free haircuts tomorrow”?


As most (all) of the religious mobsters,  the young (born 1966) Professor Luigino Bruni tells us of the gratuitousness of religious beliefs (I call “religionis gratuitatis”) value. Bullshit. Where Bruni is right is in his exploration of the individualisation of wants, versus the collective wants (and diminishing needs, with progress). 

The stories of yesterday, the eternal ones, have been able to charm us because they did not want to enchain us”. Bullshit again. Whom is the good young professor kidding? Religions have NEVER ever been gratuitous, nor altruistic. Did not want to enchain us?   Holly shit! Religions promise an illusionary lolly in exchange of accepting present suffering and should we not submit to this contract we end up in Hell...  Which book of Job has Luigino been reading? 


This morning, in the New York Times, there is an article on how a “memory” can be “injected” into the brain (of animals):


When you drive toward an intersection, the sight of the light turning red will (or should) make you step on the brake. This action happens thanks to a chain of events inside your head.

Your eyes relay signals to the visual centers in the back of your brain. After those signals get processed, they travel along a pathway to another region, the premotor cortex, where the brain plans movements.

Now, imagine that you had a device implanted in your brain that could shortcut the pathway and “inject” information straight into your premotor cortex.

That may sound like an outtake from “The Matrix.” But now two neuroscientists at the University of Rochester say they have managed to introduce information directly into the premotor cortex of monkeys. The researchers published the results of the experiment on Thursday in the journal Neuron.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/07/science/brain-information-monkeys.htm...


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The general philosophical human malaise — that we patch up badly with religious hubris — comes from that we refuse to accept that we are evolving monkeys. We can be manipulated by whatever means including said-gratuitous stories THAT ARE NOT GRATUITOUS but designed to capture our behaviour according to a groupthink in which cash (or supply of goods) becomes necessary to maintain the groupthink. Religion does not survive without cash. Think about it. 

Consumerism gives individuals the choice of their poison, while faiths limit the choices to two values (eternal salvation or eternal damnation) — resultants of personal behaviour in a groupthink situation. Freedom?  Freedom to sin or not, but that is not the purpose of living, in which happiness should play a big part...


The point then becomes the understanding of the narrative in which our consumption of goods is imbued with better choices, rather than “if you eat another cream-cake, you’ll go to hell”.


Overall sciences have improved the gamut of choices and our ability to discern the best options versus the shoddy, and study the real versus the snake oil. Not perfect yet but better and far more accurate than ridiculous religionis gratuitatis.


The selling of religious beliefs want us to accept that religions are “altruistic” (gratuitous). They are not. They want us to be part of the groupthink, not be an individual thinker. Altruism does not include the heavenly value added reward. 

The religious selling techniques are simplistic. These have been based on the fear of god for many years, then when this hypothetical flogging lost traction when more people became “comfortable”, the “love” of god entered the market with clever deceit.


So, what to make of Luigino’s hubris? No much. It glosses over all the religious traumas — from wars of religion,  martyrdom, and religious constructs which rely on brainwashing mantras and relics. There are 23,145 verses in the old testament, 7,957 in the new testament and most of these are completely irrelevant, false or useless. At most times, the hubristical religious fly-paper style of catching adherents rely on a handful (19.7?) of truisms which are common to most social network, in which some applied values are necessary for survival of the group and of the individuals. 


I have done five years in the army, got wounded three times and you don’t know what you’re talking about (I WILL vote for Trump)” interrupted a tall old guy in a super rich retirement village in Florida to Miriam Margolyes’ aggressive remarks about dumb politics to a couple of super-rich (probably by marriage) face-lifted octogenarian females...


This man knows that the Democrats are communists and he has got full faith in the system which generates religious Republicans on the treadmill of retirement villages — where no-one is allowed to mention politics nor religion (unless it’s the “happy going to heaven” after death). With this came the “I don’t trust that woman” from another face-lifted 902 year old (I mean 92) cakeface about Hillary — a cakeface who believed all the compliment she would get about her “altered” looks, which to say the least, made her happy. What is wrong with this? Nothing. Doctors and plastic surgeons used their “magic” which have nothing to do with voodoo nor spirituality, but pills, botox and nipNtuck... The illusion works for some but despite the surface, we guess the stretchmarks, the saggy skin and the wrinkles that were “disappeared”. Religion does the same trick of hiding reality, which passed a certain age, is sagging a bit as we comprehend less and less. We should try harder and accept reality. 


Here Margolyes and her mob also had problem understanding why these retirement villages were “gated”. Easy, the old folks simmering in there are in training for the “gated” compound of heaven, while limiting as much as possible their ability to find happiness and understanding of the greater world outside the perimeter. Religion does this too. Meanwhile many of the retired folks were armed to the teeth, notably to defend their religious freedom which could become under attack from a poor sod with a towel on his head, someone which we don’t like and have been trying to destroy the family thereof, in a land far far away, the Middle East, especially Jerusalem, the birthplace of all the world’s troubles. Amen.

 

Gus Leonisky

Your local trouble maker

nefarious evangelicals...

Moore has often used his platform to speak out against American civil religion as a nefarious force to be resisted, one fundamentally at odds with evangelical Christianity.

"American evangelicalism is old and sick and weak, and doesn't even know it," Moore wrote in a post on his website Monday upon seeing a photo of a bumper sticker indicative of the American politics-infused cultural Christianity which read: "If Jesus Had a Gun, He'd Still Be Alive Today."

"We are bored by what the Bible reveals as mysterious and glorious, and red-in-the-face about what hardly matters in the broad sweep of eternity. We clamor for the kind of power the world can recognize while ignoring the very power of God that comes through Christ and him crucified. We've traded in the Sermon on the Mount for slogans on our cars. We've exchanged Christ the King for Christ the meme."

He concluded: "And through it all, we demonstrate what we care about — the same power and self-leverage this age already values."

read more:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelicals-power-lust-racism-arroga...

American civil religion is a sociological theory that a nonsectarian quasi-religious faith exists within the United States with sacred symbols drawn from national history. Scholars have portrayed it as a cohesive force, a common set of values that foster social and cultural integration. The very heavy emphasis on nondenominational religious themes is quite distinctively American and the theory is designed to explain this. The concept goes back to the 19th century, but in current form, the theory was developed by sociologist Robert Bellah in 1967 in his article, "Civil Religion in America". The topic soon became the major focus at religious sociology conferences and numerous articles and books were written on the subject. The debate reached its peak with the American Bicentennial celebration in 1976.[1][2][3][4][5] There is a viewpoint that some Americans have come to see the document of the United States Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights as cornerstones of a type of civic or civil religion or political religion.

....

Examples of civil religious beliefs are reflected in statements used in the research such as the following:

  • "America is God's chosen nation today. (The New Jerusalem was an important theme in the Puritan colonization of New England in the 17th century. The Puritans were inspired by the passages in Revelation about the New Jerusalem, which they interpreted as being a symbol for the New World. The Puritans saw themselves as the builders of the New Jerusalem on earth. This idea was foundational to American nationalism.)"
  • "A president's authority...is from God."
  • "Social justice cannot only be based on laws; it must also come from religion."
  • "God can be known through the experiences of the American people."
  • "Holidays like the Fourth of July are religious as well as patriotic."[5]
  • "God Bless America"

Later research sought to determine who is civil religious. In a 1978 study by James Christenson and Ronald Wimberley, the researchers found that a wide cross section of American citizens have civil religious beliefs. In general though, college graduates and political or religious liberals appear to be somewhat less civil religious. Protestants and Catholics have the same level of civil religiosity. Religions that were created in the United States, the Latter Day Saints movementAdventists, and Pentecostals, have the highest civil religiosity. Jews, Unitarians and those with no religious preference have the lowest civil religion. Even though there is variation in the scores, the "great majority" of Americans are found to share the types of civil religious beliefs which Bellah wrote about.[5]

 

 

 

read more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_civil_religion

 

 

One should see something frightening here. The "civil religion of America" (American Civil Religion) is far from being civil. It is an obnoxious state of belief in which "fighting for god" (see "The Age of Deceit") is at the rotten core, a fluid belief in the greater US populace that is far more insidious than the localised loony vanishing "Evangelicals"... see also: friends of zionism... 

If you are a scientist, you might find yourself ostracised like non-believers were in the Middle Ages. The only way to find employment is to be a "professed" devotee of god... Horridly contradictory...

What is also extremely frightening is that the glib reactivity, the idiotic minds, the limited understanding and the infantile patriotic attitudes are determining the future of this planet... 

and god favoured the democratic republic...

Over the last several years, amidst the swirls of overt corruption, immigrant “hordes,” rising “national security” concerns, police militarization, bloated empire, and the so-called deepening of the “deep state,” conservatives and libertarians of all stripes have pondered the meaning of the modern state. Most recently, Paul Moreno has brilliantly considered the rise of The Bureaucratic Kings, Alex Salter has wisely questioned the relationship of anarchy (the Bohemian, Nockian variety) to conservatism, and, though I have yet to read what the always thoughtful Jason Kuznicki of Cato recommends, there is also James C. Scott’s Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. Believe me, I am intrigued.  Each of these authors and recommenders, of course, owes an immense debt to the pioneering work of Robert Higgs’s magnum opus, Crisis and Leviathan (1987), and Higgs, in turn, had followed in the footsteps of such 20th century greats as Christopher Dawson, Robert Nisbet, Friedrich Hayek, and Joseph Schumpeter.  

Some conservatives will immediately balk at such analyses. Students of Leo Strauss want to remind us that politics, properly understood in the Aristotelian sense, is high, not sordid. Students of Russell Kirk want to remind us that order is the first concern of any society and that to look too deeply at the origins of a state is a form of pornographic leering and peeping. And, Christians of every variety, consider the 13th chapter of St. Paul’s letters to the Church in Roman as having closed the matter before it ever needs discussion. God, according to a literal reading of St. Paul’s letter, commanded us each to “submit to the supreme authorities. There is no authority but by act of God, and the existing authorities are instituted by him; consequently anyone who rebels against authority is resisting a divine institution.”

While modern Christians might claim this answers every question about the legitimacy of state action, they are not necessarily mainstream in the history of Christianity.  The Prophet Samuel, feeling outcast by the ill favor of his people, of course, had a fierce argument with them, after consulting with God about the necessity of centralizing the government under a monarch.  God assured him that this would be foolish:

He will take your sons and make them serve in his chariots and with his cavalry, and will make them run before his chariot.  Some he will appoint officers over units of a thousand and units of fifty.  Others will plough his fields and reap his harvest; others again will make weapons of war and equipment for mounted troops.  He will make your daughters for perfumers, cooks, and confectionaries, and will seize the best of your cornfields, vineyards, and olive-yards, and them to his lackeys.  He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage to give to his eunuchs and lackeys.  Your slaves, both men and women, and the best of your cattle and your asses he will seize and put to his own use.  He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

God seems to have been the first hard-core decentralist anti-statist, but Samuel’s people refused to listen, and God granted them, against His better judgement, a monarchy.

 

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/birzer/the-origins-of-the-modern-...

 

see also "The Age of Deceit"