“Partisan Polarization” Just Another Pathology of Hypercompetition?

13 09 2011

Conservative ideology and racial resentment swamp every other factor. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s counterproductive to even mention racial resentment these days. Maybe it’s unfair to lots of tea partiers who care only about taxes and big government. But unless there’s a problem with Abramowitz’s data, it’s there. Pretending that it’s not doesn’t make it go away. . .

These fears and resentments were of course stoked by right wing politicians, media commentators and websites . . .

There’s been an exhaustion of all patience followed by widespread progressive grumbling (or was that just me?) about the single-minded, spittle-flecked viciousness of win-at-all-costs in our politics, denying the humanity of one’s opponents let alone enemies, up to and including television caesars pandering to the bloodthirsty hordes, Dick Cheney still defending torture for personal profit, Rick Perry supporters cheering executions as pro-life governance.

“How you play the game” isn’t much of a consolation prize for the defeated even when it’s just a game, much less when the stakes are so high that you literally can’t afford to lose. “Living well as the best revenge” only adds insult to injury in forced competition that puts your health, wealth, dignity, liberty and life itself at risk.

We’ve cocked a snook several times at competition versus collaboration in different spheres, wondering whether it’s gotten all out of whack and what those experiences can do TO kids rather than FOR them. We’ve even looked at killer-instinct gameplay about chess specifically, the power of this next story:

I dare say this chess board may survive a nuclear blast! The pieces are made using .223 caliber bullet shell casings, decorated with cuts, slashes, curls and bends.

Photo source

She was, and is, a ferocious competitor, a psychological attribute that is quite separate from purely intellectual ability. As the former US chess champion Joel Benjamin reported after playing her: “It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She absolutely has a killer instinct.

Well, there you go! If only all our daughters were so ferocious about “winning” think what Read the rest of this entry »





USA: Uneasy State of America This Fourth of July

4 07 2011

The Culture War and Cultural Chasms
. . .And so real hatred and resentment blooms thanks to a war by proxy between two groups pretending to be what they are not, but making everyone else pay for their lack of a core identity or any genuine skill of their own. Trash vs Posers.

Beep IS deep. 🙂

Or maybe it’s like an autoimmune disorder wherein the body turns on itself. Our defenses so revved up that we can no longer tell who the enemy is. At times I get caught up in this too. It’s so easy, with the ease at which groups are demonized these days, the constant fear being pumped into our society for the purposes of mass emotional manipulation.

Beep really got my mind going with this (more than I can do justice at the moment, with burgers and corn on the grill.) America is a strong, rich, diverse nation by any measure. We define ourselves by successful competition in every one of those measures — we’re Number One, we’re Number One! Otherwise, who would we be? (WOULD we be, at all, or would America cease to be? )

Isn’t THAT our number one fear, that as we celebrate again for having won the world in the 18th century and defended our title through the the 19th and 20th, that our dominance is behind us, our glory days done, that USA doesn’t mean Number One anymore?

This year, intramural culture wars don’t feel like America’s existential threat most to be feared, more like Read the rest of this entry »





Three Power of Story Stories . . .

5 05 2011

to help JJ celebrate this National Day of Reason:

1) You’ve seen this picture.
“It is an image unimaginable 30 years ago. . .”

Now see three reasons it’s worth not only a thousand words but worth more than every history textbook in Texas, and then some.

(If you saw the evangelical Christianist self-styled as an authentic history expert on Jon Stewart last night, you’ll know what I mean. If not, watch this.)

Update – the Jon Stewart interview moved one author to action, reports the Friendly Atheist. She decided to give away for free download her book, Liars for Jesus:

The whole thing is just infuriating. Barton goes on and on (and on), talking over Stewart, saying that Christianity is under attack. Stewart calls him out on it. Barton changes the subject, cherrypicks court cases to prove some obscure point, and acts like he’s victorious. . . .

She’s going to give away her book for free in the hope that the truth can spread.
. . .So download it, read it, spread it, and help put a dent into Barton’s influence. Better yet, buy it if you can so future volumes can be published.

2) THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! Only reason will beat it back into the Dark Ages. (Do we need a presidentially commanded special ops strike force of REASON?)

3) Edge dot org has an intriguing new conversation up on “The Argumentative Theory.”

Edge is the perfect place for some Day of Reason reading:

EDGE
To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

Read first, feel the sudden warmth of human cognition exciting your synapses, then talk later.
I’ll be here. 🙂





What the Media Taught Our Teens About Torture

13 04 2011

JJ almost five years ago:

I argue the political noise machine is actually an overlooked form of public education and imperils us all, schooling or not. . .

“Public” education results reported this week:

Teenagers Now Look Favorably On Torture
Because The Media Taught Them It Was Morally Acceptable

It’s the concept of “American exceptionalism” that transforms “torture” into “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

So sayeth our news media, anyway. As this new Red Cross report makes clear, older Americans who grew up at a time when this issue was tended to by the media with a distinct and consistent moral clarity have maintained that distinct and consistent moral clarity themselves.

American teenagers diverge at that point, but what can I say? This is learned behavior.

Logically enough then, The American Red Cross calls for more and better education in the Geneva Convention, and in classrooms, not the newspapers. So sayeth the Daily Beast anyway:

[T]he national conversation since the Bush administration claimed that today’s enemy was different from the ones we’ve fought in the past. . . “Over the past 10 years, they’ve been exposed to many new conflicts,” says Isabelle Daoust, who heads ARC’s humanitarian law unit. “But they haven’t been exposed to the rules.”





Desperate for Control? Abusive Parenting, Abusive Politics

8 04 2011

As we talk more about morals and monsters in politics and schooling, check out this comment from discussion last year that might speak to Ben and others on how this all connects:

GOP = Authoritarian

Specifically, authoritarian parent!
That’s the finding of a researcher-author I heard interviewed driving kids around last night. The new car came with a free satellite radio trial and I was trying out some new channels.

“Authoritarian” equals order and control, tradition and therefore fear of and resistance to change such as women and minorities getting the vote, immigrants streaming across a border changing the economy and voting patterns, the competitive rise of other nations in world affairs, same-sex marriage rights, etc.

Hence any challenge to authorities that keep order and control is the ultimate offense.

GOP is increasingly authoritarian because it feels increasingly under threat, which causes emotion to take over cognition in the attempt to resolve those threats and restore “order.”

And apparently an increasingly accurate way to predict American political party by degree of authoritarianism, is to ask not about policy issues directly but about parenting priorities and attitudes. Right up Snook’s alley!

It makes sense then, that loving uniforms and clear hierarchy and rules and order whether military, police, gun-bearing militia (even zero tolerance in school discipline and dress codes) are predictably not Democratic.

And it makes sense that like parenting, politics too can turn coercive and even criminally abusive. When traditional Authority fears losing control, it does in fact lose control!

For parents who are desperate for control over their children, when spanking doesn’t work (and often, it will not), the relationship turns abusive, either physically or emotionally or both.

Their survey instrument was described as a series of forced choices between pairs of words such as curiosity or manners, kindness or obedience. The interviewees choose which they believe is more important Read the rest of this entry »





Shame

10 03 2011

My last post quoted Dale’s observation days before it was proven true again last night:

If a minority point of view is on the verge
of gaining a fair hearing within the rules, someone in the majority will simply change the rules. . .

It’s not just one state’s megalomaniacal “majority” doing whatever the hell they please with their naked political power these days, of course. Florida was even sneakier — why persecute American icons like Big Bird or “huddled masses” of immigrants much less dignified, educated middle-class teachers, nurses and other trusted public professionals, until you’ve simply changed the rules to disenfranchise those you already imprisoned for profit and won’t allow to then (understandably) vote against you?

Governor Rick Scott’s draconian plans to slash education funds brought out protesters all over Florida yesterday. Among the waves of angry Sunshine Staters who spoke out was goth maestro Stephen King who quipped, “Maybe my next horror novel will star Rick Scott. ”

Well…why not? Wouldn’t you love to see what Stephen King could do with these?





“Sure, I shot you, but you’re the one that fell over”

8 03 2011

Dale McGowan at Parenting Beyond Belief:

If a minority point of view is on the verge
of gaining a fair hearing within the rules, someone in the majority will simply change the rules. . .
Though religion is in play in both of these situations, the principle applies to countless others as well.

I could have tagged this with every label Snook has got. With examples. (This for instance.)

I managed to stay three more years, trying to improve
the climate of inquiry on campus,
before nausea led me to resign . . .

Learning this principle the hard way, struggling against it like sticky spider silk until I finally gave up and came home, was overriding power of story throughout my career. I heard but tried to rise above dark mutterings of “life isn’t fair.” You might even say I had FAITH. I believed!

I was wrong.

We seldom grab public problems from the right end, or should I say from the right beginning? Start from a false premise and we’d be better not to start at all.