Local legend Walter Mondale died yesterday at age 93. Probably known nationally mostly for being pummeled in the 1984 presidential election, he was a protege of Hubert Humphrey, a 2-term senator, a vice president, and then an attorney and political advisor, activist, lecturer, etc.
In some ways he was a throwback: he never owned stocks while in office, worried it would cause the impression of corruption. (Conversely, modern politicians regularly trade stocks related to legislation they pass or information they confidentially receive, and fight against efforts to curtail it...) In others, he was looking ahead, such as naming a female vice presidential running mate in 1984.
He represents an era in Minnesota when Democrats were respected by rural, often conservative voters; and Republicans were respected by urban and liberal ones. Our parties once were staunchly independent from their national counterparts. Alas, bygone days, more gone by the day.
Took three days but I finally got through this 3.5 hr YouTube video! It's just something his subscribers wanted him to do. He didn't go in-depth into every election (it would have been 30hrs if he did), but many of the figures I hadn't even heard of. Particularly, the running mates of the losers. Anyway, I do think it's an interesting exercise. The basic premise being that he was living in his home state of Kansas (or the general region prior to statehood) at the time of each election, and that he didn't know what happened in the future. (He stopped after the 1996 election because he didn't want to reveal who he voted for in real life.)
I've written here and elsewhere about "authenticity," and how it seems to me mostly either a cynical angle to sell something or a misguided, immature mistake. This morning I stumbled on this essay, "Authenticity is a Sham," from Aeon magazine.
To get a flavor of it, here are a few sentences from early on in the piece:
Understandably, they take the dictum to ‘be oneself’ as a worthy, nearly unassailable goal. Our culture is saturated with authenticity: we’re forever ‘finding ourselves’, ‘self-actualising’, ‘doing you’, ‘being real’, ‘going off the beaten path’, ‘breaking free of the crowd’. We spend our youth trying to figure out who we are; our later years trying to stay true to ourselves; and the time in-between in crisis about whether we are who we thought we were. ...
All this introspection can seem gratuitous. Why expend so much effort trying to be something we can’t help but be? ‘In the end,’ as the author David Foster Wallace put it, ‘you end up becoming yourself.’
And there’s a deeper absurdity to authenticity, too. Everyone else might be taken, but the effort to be ourselves is the surest path to being just like everyone else, especially in the context of a highly commodified and surveilled culture where we always seem to be on stage. If some person or organisation claims to be concerned with authenticity, you can be almost certain that they’re conformist posers.
Maybe you have seen those various pop-psychology tests online before where you can "measure" your personality, political ideology, etc. This morning I saw one about personal philosophy dichotomies--materialism v spiritualism, rationalism v romanticism, etc.--and took it. It was pretty interesting, mostly because I'm generally pretty balanced but have some strange bedfellows among my strongest results.
For example, I'm 64.2% nihilistic over moralistic, but also 60% altruistic over egostic, 58% ascetic over hedonistic and 58.7% pragmatic over idealistic. (I'd have guessed nihilistic would go with egoistic and hedonistic and idealistic to some degree.)
There are also some other categories of dichotomy tests beyond that one. If you're in the mood, take a few minutes and try them out.
65.8% spiritualism over materialism 65.2% asceticism over hedonism 61.7% moralism over nihilism 57.8% rationalism over romanticism 57.6% altruism over egoism 56.3% absolutism over skepticism 50.8% pragmatism over idealism
I think these results are pretty accurate. The one I feel most uncomfortable with is spiritualism over materialism (particularly in that it's my most extreme position). I could sense as I took the test that the questions in that group weren't sufficient. I'd say that's potentially overstated by 5-10 points. None of the other results surprise me. The altruism over egoism questions were hard to answer as I actually believe that what's good for us as individuals is good for society as a whole (i.e. we should act in our own interest, or, "selfishly"). That said, in the way that the questions were meant, I do believe I'm more altruistic.
Here's an article I--being a child of the 80s and 90s and thus remembering well the "Satanic Panic" about rock music in the 80s and the disaster at Waco with Branch Davidians--found really interesting.
It's about a recent increase in media framing issues in language related to cults, as well as Americans' history of framing groups as cults. (Spoiler alert: the concern is usually off base to some degree, a hyperventilating overreaction.)
I was pointed to this essay by the esteemed Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie this morning. She wrote about two younger writers with whom she has interacted, writers who were quick to try to benefit from her insights, reputation, and connections, but equally quick to betray her publicly online--and both for the same reason: their own immediate reputational benefits.
After dealing with each situation separately, she includes the below in the conclusion.
I notice what I find increasingly troubling: a cold-blooded grasping, a hunger to take and take and take, but never give; a massive sense of entitlement; an inability to show gratitude; an ease with dishonesty and pretension and selfishness that is couched in the language of self-care; an expectation always to be helped and rewarded no matter whether deserving or not; language that is slick and sleek but with little emotional intelligence; an astonishing level of self-absorption; an unrealistic expectation of puritanism from others; an over-inflated sense of ability, or of talent where there is any at all; an inability to apologize, truly and fully, without justifications; a passionate performance of virtue that is well executed in the public space of Twitter but not in the intimate space of friendship.
I find it obscene.
There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness. People whose social media lives are case studies in emotional aridity. People for whom friendship, and its expectations of loyalty and compassion and support, no longer matter. People who claim to love literature – the messy stories of our humanity – but are also monomaniacally obsessed with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy. People who demand that you denounce your friends for flimsy reasons in order to remain a member of the chosen puritan class.
People who ask you to ‘educate’ yourself while not having actually read any books themselves, while not being able to intelligently defend their own ideological positions, because by ‘educate,’ they actually mean ‘parrot what I say, flatten all nuance, wish away complexity.’... And so we have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow.
EDIT - I want to clarify that I don't read this essay in the simple, "kids these days ... everything's going to hell with these kids!" but rather more a "what are we doing with our society?" Not so much finger-pointing, even though that's in there, or "get off my lawn." More just looking around in (shared) sadness and disgust.
I was surprised this morning that my local paper's website doesn't include on its home page so much as a mention that Donald Rumsfeld, a very controversial, two-time Sec. of Defense, died the day before yesterday. (It was announced yesterday, so it would be in today's news.)
Rumsfeld, 88, was not my favorite by a long stretch. I didn't like his neoconservative (interventionist) politics, and I didn't like his brash, confrontational style that was so visible with the media but apparently also consistent in his off-camera dealings with even his own staff.
That said, he was a naval aviator in the period just after the Korean War, a 3-term congressman in the '60s, and held several executive branch jobs culminating in becoming both Chief of Staff, then Sec. of Defense (the youngest ever) under Gerald Ford in the '70s. He was a private citizen again from '77 until '01 when the second President Bush brought him in as his Sec. of Defense (the second-oldest ever). In that role, he was of course famously an architect of the second Iraq War. The problems of that war resulted in his resignation in late 2006.
Errol Morris's documentary The Unknown Known gives a fascinating look into Rumsfeld in his own words.
What is deja vu? I mean, obviously it is the sensation of having been somewhere, seen something, done something before even when you know you haven't. But what causes it, what is actually happening in the brain?
Nobody knows. But here is a story about how it is being studied and what some experts think.
jk: That's good news, Sheriff. And good news from you too, Cap'n.
Sept 21, 2021 10:12:14 GMT
carllove: Sheriff and Kapitan, totally understand! Just let us know when there is an update. I am enjoying both! I really appreciate both of your efforts!
Sept 21, 2021 13:44:37 GMT
carllove: Looks like Sheriff has already added to the Sparks history! Yay!
Sept 21, 2021 13:46:01 GMT
Kapitan: Shamed, I began a new Prince thread post. But work rudely interrupted by wanting me to, you know, work. So it'll have to wait.
Sept 21, 2021 19:31:50 GMT
jk: Ooohh, we need a new "year" -- preferably from someone who hasn't chosen one yet...
Sept 22, 2021 9:59:24 GMT
Kapitan: Yes, let's keep it going. If you're not sure which years we've covered, check the first post of the thread: I've edited it to list each year we've touched upon.
Sept 22, 2021 13:10:08 GMT
jk: If no one jumps in soon, I'll go for 1997, which is 13 years back from 2010. Fact is, we haven't had a '90s year yet.
Sept 22, 2021 13:46:32 GMT
Kapitan: No, but we do have a whole '90s thread that covered a lot of that territory. (In fact, that's what inspired the idea, to some extent)
Sept 22, 2021 13:52:28 GMT
Kapitan: Not that I'm opposed to a '90s year, mind you
Sept 22, 2021 13:52:58 GMT
jk: I see where you're coming from, Cap'n. I even did a double-take when looking through 1997 albums and songs (these look familiar!). My next suggestion is that we go back 13 years from 1972 to 1959.
Sept 22, 2021 17:04:34 GMT
jk: OK, it's one of the "doldrum years" but it was crammed full of goodies that even register with folks who weren't born for another 20 years. Of course, if anyone has a better idea, I'm all for it.
Sept 22, 2021 17:05:59 GMT
Kapitan: That would make sense; we also haven't really touched the early to mid 80s, which I'm sure people (mostly) recall. And of course EVERY year in the '60s seems loaded...
Sept 22, 2021 17:06:53 GMT
jk: Yes, the early-ish '80s also came to mind. But let's see who else joins in...
Sept 22, 2021 17:08:04 GMT
Kapitan: So far we've had me, jk, kds, and carllove choosing years. Would love to expand that circle.
Sept 22, 2021 17:13:20 GMT
Kapitan: Which, I guess with four of us so far, is more a square.
Sept 22, 2021 17:13:38 GMT
jk: Ha, yes. Sheriff? B.E.? sockit? The Kid?... We'll see.
Sept 22, 2021 17:16:41 GMT