“There are major efforts being made to dismantle Social Security, the public schools, the post office—anything that benefits the population has to be dismantled. Efforts against the U.S. Postal Service are particularly surreal. I’m old enough to remember the Great Depression, a time when the country was quite poor but there were still postal deliveries. Today, post offices, Social Security, and public schools all have to be dismantled because they are seen as being based on a principle that is regarded as extremely dangerous. If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea.”—Noam Chomsky (via azspot)
“Co-opting the language and posture of grievance is how members of a privileged class express their belief that the way they live shouldn’t have to change, that their opponents are hypocrites and perhaps even the real oppressors. This is how you get St. Louisans sincerely explaining that Ferguson protesters are the real racists, and how you end up with an organized group of precisely the same video game enthusiasts to whom an entire industry is catering honestly believing that they’re an oppressed minority. From this kind of ideological fortification, you can stage absolutely whatever campaigns you deem necessary.”—Kyle Wagner, The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate
“Diehard believers in the west’s capacity to shape global events and congratulate itself eternally were afflicted with an obsolete assumption even in 1989: that the 20th century was defined by the battles between liberal democracy and totalitarian ideologies, such as fascism and communism. Their obsession with a largely intra-western dispute obscured the fact that the most significant event of the 20th century was decolonisation, and the emergence of new nation-states across Asia and Africa. They barely registered the fact that liberal democracies were experienced as ruthlessly imperialist by their colonial subjects.”—Pankaj Mishra, The Western Model is Broken
Economist Chris Dillow cites research by Cameron Anderson and Sebastien Brion, showing that overconfident individuals are seen by others as more competent. He argues that, “overconfident people are more likely to be promoted. And this could have positive feedback effects. Higher status will itself breed even more overconfidence. (E.g. “I got the job so I must be good.”) And if bosses employ like-minded subordinates, the result could be entire layers of management which are both over-confident and engaged in groupthink.”
This effect is reinforced further by the “just-world” bias, which leads us to believe that the rich and powerful deserve their positions. In a famous study, Melvin Lerner found that when students were informed that another student had randomly won a prize, they attributed positive characteristics to the student who had won. Studies have also shown that people attribute negative characteristics to victims — from Kent State students shot by the National Guard, to young black men shot by police, to low-wage workers.
A more recent study by Justus Heuer, Christoph Merkle and Martin Weber finds rather the same thing: Investors are fooled into believing risk-taking is based in skill, rather than chance. Like the students in the experiment, investors believe managers who are simply reaping returns from risky bets are, in fact, oracles. Another study by Arvid Hoffmann and Thomas Post finds that “the higher the returns in a previous period are, the more investors agree with a statement claiming that their recent performance accurately reflects their investment skills (and vice versa).” Research by Charles O’Reilly and others finds that narcissistic CEOs are better paid than other CEOs. Another study finds that employees that spend more time grooming make more than workers who do not. (The effect is particularly strong for men of color.) All of this should leave us skeptical of the idea, promoted by many free-market fundamentalists, that compensation is set by objective market factors. As Christopher Lasch notes, “Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.”
“Since our society elevates free choice into a supreme value, social control and domination can no longer appear to be infringing on subject’s freedom. Un-freedom, then, is cloaked in the guise of its opposite: When we are deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are given a new freedom to choose our healthcare provider; when we no longer can rely on longterm employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious work every couple of years, we are told that we are given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and discover new unexpected creative potentials that lurked in our personality; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we become “entrepreneurs of the self,” free to invest in our own—and our children’s—personal growth and fulfillment.
Constantly bombarded by these imposed “free choices,” forced to make decisions for which we are mostly not even properly qualified or informed, our “freedom of choice” increasingly becomes a burden that deprives us of true freedom of choice—the choice (or rather, decision) to move beyond market-freedom into the freedom of collectively organizing and regulating the process of production and exchange. It is more and more becoming clear that only in this way will humanity be able to cope with antagonisms that threaten its very survival (ecology, biogenetics, “intellectual property,” the rise of the new class of those excluded from public life).”—zizek- inthesetimes.com/ (via zizekianrevolution)
Every message from my mother now contains scriptural advice and not so subtle pleas for conversion. She’s gone into missionary mode with me, and it reduces my will to speak with her as an air of condescension pervades her talk. We cannot have a normal conversation at this point, and it makes me really sad.
She’s treating me more like a child now than she has since I hit puberty.
“The central role of mass media, especially a corporate media beholden to the U.S. neoliberal regime, is to keep public discourse narrow and deodorized. By “narrow” I mean confining the conversation to conservative Republican and neoliberal Democrats who shut out prophetic voices or radical visions. This fundamental power to define the political terrain and categories attempts to render prophetic voices invisible. The discourse is deodorized because the issues that prophetic voices highlight, such as mass incarceration, wealth inequality, and war crimes such as imperial drones murdering innocent people, are ignored.”—Cornel West, On Obama and the black prophetic tradition
The sixpenny suburb sinnet. A lassie’s by-job: 15th and 16th century sexual slang is vulgar, creative and very fun
Slang, being a language of synonyms and of themes, repeats itself. The penis has taken on 1,200 aliases in 500 years. The jockum becomes the instrument becomes the pistolbecomes the beef bayonet becomes the purple-headed custard chucker. The imagery draws on Greek (pego, literally a fountain) Latin (member, from membrum virile), French (bracmard, a short sword) and Yiddish (schlong, a snake), food (tummy banana), proper names (John Thomas), on the nursery (winky), on hunting (crack-hunter), on an armoury of guns (bazooka) and clubs (pestle), sticks (gutstick) and knives (dard) and naturally offers a role to euphemisms (What Harry gave Doll) and rhymes (Hampton Wick). Other images include those drawn from physics (pendulum), tools (derrick), mechanics (machine), animals (ferret), music (skin flute), botany (sensitive plant), invertebrates (worm), and human anatomy (middle leg). In a rare excursion into mutual pleasure it has been a lady’s delight and even, uncharacteristically substituting procreation for pleasure, a baby-maker. Some terms survive, seemingly the oldest: cock, prick andtool were all available to standard English speakers of the early era and while their register has been downgraded to slang, they remain common. Citations prove them still the port of first call. The more florid variations have their moment and disappear into the dictionaries.