Friday, November 28, 2003

wonderful

if you get a chance to see this, DO IT. The tour is in support of the Maitreya Project -- I can't wait to see it realized.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

this time, sociology and the military and killing

one more of my posts to a sociology list...


I wanted to make a comment on the observation of the killing during Vietnam.

Last year, I purchased a book written by an Army psychologist entitled, “On Killing.” Great book and one I would recommend. He makes the case that we have gotten better at killing (or at least the military has) and uses data to support this. He notes that during WWII, the fire rates (i.e., the percentage of those soldiers who actually fired their weapons at the enemy) was about 15 – 20%. In Korea it was 50 - 55% and in Vietnam it was 90 – 95%. He accounts for the differences (and subsequent increase) on the training that had been developed to increase fire rates. I don’t recall if he detailed what that training consisted of, but I suspect it had some kind of behavioral component to it other than better instruction on firing one’s weapon.

He also notes that distance has much to do with killing an enemy – the farther one is from an enemy the easier it is to fire a weapon (long range artillery, missiles, bombs, etc.). Hand-to-hand combat is the most difficult as one knows fully well that s/he is attempting to kill another human being. Furthermore, he discussed how many, if not most, soldiers were/are not bloodthirsty, i.e., enjoy killing. Those that do and/or have little compunction about killing, according to him, are diverted into special forces, or some other kind of more clandestine unit.

I also seem to recall that part of his argument for making it “easier” to fire a weapon and kill an enemy is not seeing them as human, as “objectifying” them. This makes sense in light of the intended purpose of firing a weapon (killing someone else). However, one has to wonder, what effect this has not only on the individual doing the objectifying, but on the culture that supports such a notion.

A recent example…I found it interesting a week or so ago reading about the intelligence officer who was being charged with cowardice (charges since dropped) because he got sick and was disturbed at seeing an Iraqi man cut in half by a machine gun. I think this is quite a “normal” response, one, in fact that gives me some hope in humanity. Curiously (or not), he was admonished by a superior to “get [his] head out of his ass and get in the game” – I think we all know what this means. I suspect in a situation like that, not a bad thing to do as a way of protecting oneself and one’s peers, and perhaps an example of precisely what the author of the text I reference is talking about in not seeing another human being as a “human being,” but as an object.

Again, the question for me is, do we want to live in a world in which shrugging off the sight of another human being mangled by a weapon is an “appropriate” response?

sociology and the military

a sociologist and ex-military person posted a question to a sociology list about the apparent incompatibility of sociology and the military; my response:

I was going to respond yesterday, but couldn’t quite formulate my thoughts in time. I had been thinking about my small tear for awhile, so that was easier to post.

I don’t want to add too much more to what has been said as I appreciate everyone’s perspective and their input. I am grateful to be part of a group that has discussions like this on a list (and I hope we have more).

In brief, I agree with what some others have said, which in my words is, “if it involves people, it involves sociology” so I see no disconnect between the military (i.e., people in groups with institutional structures) and sociology. I think most, if not all, would agree with this.

I can’t say I am opposed to the military as that would mean I am opposed to people, which I am not. I guess if I am “opposed” to anything having to do with something called “the military” it is the seeming need to have one in the first place. It appears that I am naïve enough to think that if we spent the same amount of time, effort, and money to create some institutional arrangement that would dramatically increase the likelihood of more peaceful interaction and cooperation among people, we could possibly make “the military” obsolete. I do like to think that big, I think that is what our current world situation calls for. I heard someone say that what we need is a “Manhattan Project” on poverty – similarly, a “Manhattan Project” on peace and cooperation. I just can’t imagine that with all of that talent that exists in this world that we can’t come up with something that is more conducive to life and human thriving than what we have going on right now. I guess that is why I am a member of this organization.

RE: treatment of veterans in our country…I think that most “negative” reactions to veterans is due to ignorance on the part of the person being negative. That doesn’t make it right, but at least it allows for some learning to take place. I think that gov’t “ignorance” of veterans is inexcusable, however. The notion of charging veterans in the hospital $8 a day for their food is unconscionable. If anything, veterans should be getting more benefits for free, not less. Talk about being “unpatriotic” and duplicitous!

Okay, time to go now, rant coming on…

John

(son of a WWII vet, whom, as family history has it, had an appointment to West Point yet was unable to get in due to poor eyesight; the grandson of a German Kriegsmarine who fought on “the wrong” side in WWI but who had enough sense to leave Germany after the war and tried to convince other family members to leave when Hitler came to power and was later questioned by the FBI because his last name was “Hess”; and the brother to three Vietnam era men who, for different reasons, were not drafted – much to our mother’s delight as she was readying their flight to Canada if they were)

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

wow, those Italians are incredible!!!!

posted to sociology list...

Sorry, small tear…

Did anyone else see the article last week about how the brain is “hard-wired” for empathy? Brief summary:

“Researchers used a tool called functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor the brain activity of 14 [Italian] men as they watched short movies of people smelling pleasant, disgusting and neutral odors. Brain activity was also monitored while participants themselves smelled a variety of odors. The researchers found that a part of the brain called the anterior insula, which previously has been linked to feelings of disgust, was activated not only when participants smelled something disgusting but also when they watched others take a whiff of something stinky.” (I added whatever these things [ ] are called – brackets?)

And the researcher had this to say about “things cultural” and empathy…

“Although Keysers said that empathy for others is often thought of as a matter of morals, "in our study, on the other hand, we show that empathy is a very basic, simple and automatic process," he said.”

So, there ya have it, 14 Italian men have set the standard for empathy worldwide; 14 Italian men represent the entire depth and breadth of humanity, regardless of culture, ethnicity, gender, etc. 14 Italian men have the exact same physiological response as EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING in the world. So, simple, how come we never knew this before??? We need these 14 Italian men for more testing on other nifty things, eh? These guys are going to be popular! I can see a reality TV show emerging from this – “The 14 Italian guys and fantastic scientific discoveries!”

And this is accepted as “science” – amazing, isn’t it? I am not even going to comment on how they operationalized “empathy.”

Hmmm, we sociologists DO have a lot of work to do, don’t we????
the agony and the ecstasy

something that is true, yet I don't think we consider very often, if at all, is that those feelings of deep joy, ecstasy, bliss, etc. are always within us. I find myself dreaming about being in Northern California, or in Hawaii, or some other very cool locale (Canda, Europe, anywhere but here!). In my mind, I am happy and blissful there. Indeed, when I go to those places (like on vacation), I do feel happier, more content, with a greater sense of ecstasy. I associate those feelings with the place(s) and think that I need to be "there" to feel those wonderful feelings.

The feelings, however, do not belong to those places, they belong to me. As such, they can arise at ANY time, wherever I am, not just when I am somewhere where I think they should arise. In fact, they are with me ALL the time or at least the potential for their emergence is.

How easy it is to forget this, though.

All I need to do now, then, is realize them as each moment passess...

Monday, November 10, 2003

solutions? let's see 'em!

from a post i sent to a sociology list...

"I like the approach; I just have one question (and this is not just to you, but to ALL members)...

> There Are Solutions...
> And We Have Some...

Do we really? If so, what are they? Where are they? Where can I find the step-by-step directions on how to:

Improve the failing education system
End poverty
End hunger
End economic inequality
End domestic violence
End racism
End sexism
End homophobia

I was fortunate to be invited to be on the SAS plenary panel and this was one of the things that I said we needed to do to resolve our "identity crisis" -- develop "turn-key" applications for these and other social ills. Having ready-made (or at least templates) applications that are based on research that we can provide to people, IMO, will raise our level among the public and clearly identify us as a discipline separate from other social sciences.

Bill DuBois argues that we have over 150 years of research on human behavior and we know what works and what doesn't (and I agree with him). If so, where is the knowledge about how to make use of all of this research? Where are the texts, manuals, etc., on how to change institutions, strengthen communities, increase human thriving? Are they buried in scholarly journals somewhere? Do they exist at all?

I think it is our task to build these applications and get them out there for people to use. Not to be relegated to a journal, but to be USED by people who want the world to be different.

If they do exist already, then let's develop a centralized database where people can access them. Or let's put them into a workable framework that someone without a Ph.D. can read and go, "hey, I can do this!"
what if?

what if there is no such thing as "insanity," there is only sanity and sane people just do really weird and terrible things?

Saturday, November 08, 2003

hiatus

i have bitten off more than i can chew of late, hence the long hiatus. that and i am in the process of living. "john" is an interesting incarnation -- moody, depressed at times, feeling low, self-critical, and then, those moments of bliss and wonder. ahh, to live in those...

i am teaching a course on the sociology of family violence this semester -- went from what i thought was a class of eight to ten graduate students to a class of sixty plus undergrads. i found out five days before the semester was supposed to begin. have been playing catch up ever since.

i found myself coming home from my day job and working more at home -- all extra-curricular stuff. no time with my family, getting irritated with the kids for "interfering" with my work...yadda, yadda, yadda,...not who i want to be. so, i have been NOT doing things for awhile. i am planning on not teaching next semester and letting go of some other things. i hope to have more time to write.

i have one post from a list i am going to post here and i have a couple of "rants" coming on, I can tell. almost got them out yesterday, but didn't have time -- that damn day job again.

more later and not too much later, i hope. in the meantime, wonder a lot, don't conclude, just wonder...that is truly miraculous. if you need assistance in doing this, buy this little book, it is worth the $$.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

long time, not post

okay, it's been awhile...

discovering that one of the greatest crimes against humanity is the destruction of our native sense of wonder. rational-legal society cleaves that spirit and we loose our most prized possession. this is not about dreaming, this is about connecting with that which leaves us in awe.

i have been grieving that loss lately, thinking about the death of this body, about how limited this all is, how much there is to it and how much we miss along the way.

and i have three more children to raise :)

my current fantasy is to become a homeless person in Nepal when I am 60 or so -- just wander, anticipate others caring for me. i think i missed that as a kid, no sense i can't re-live that childhood as an elder, right? imagine how wonderful it might be to actually rely on the kindness of strangers as a way of life. i figure Nepalese are used to that kind of wandering person.

i know, i know, naive, etc. oh, well, a middle-age man can dream yes? who woulda thought that one of my dreams would be to be homeless in a foreign country, relying on others for my sustenance and actually associating a notion of happiness with that?

Mother save me...Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma,.........

Thursday, September 04, 2003

dreams, books, and intmacy

I had a dream the other night that i was in a library kind of place along with some other people. i was young, so the other people there were kids, too, with one adult, maybe a teacher.

I felt completely safe among the books. it felt wonderful.

I have always felt this way about books (in waking reality). they have always been a safe place for me. reassuring. comforting. nurturing.

I think with the dream, i know why. why i read a book, i am being intimate with the author. s/he is freely sharing her/himself with me. i feel honored. i also feel like it is reciprocal -- they are intimate with me by writing it , and in return, i am intimate with them by reading it.

it is like we are inside each other's minds and we are completing accepting each other.

i don't think you can get more intimate than that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

another MP epiphany (or at least a VAW epiphany)

A colleague of mine sent me this story -- How Two Aspiring Pornographers Turned Me Into An F Word -- and no, the F word is not what you might think. Read it. Men, USE it to have your own epiphany -- the world needs you to do this.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

kinder, gentler in a sterilize poor, black, addicted women, kind-of-way...

Selling sterilisation to addicts
By Clare Murphy
BBC News Online

To its critics, Project Prevention or Crack - an American organisation
which pays drug addicts and alcoholics to be sterilised - is a terrifying throwback to the neutering of "defectives" during the 20th Century.

But the woman who runs this not-for-profit programme believes she is offering a service to everyone: the drug addict, the taxpayer, the child
who has not yet been born, and if she has her way - will never be born. As the programme reaches its fifth anniversary, Barbara Harris also
believes she has cause to celebrate. Some 1,050 addicts - mainly women - have undergone sterilisation as part of
her programme over the past five years.

It may not seem a considerable number, but, Ms Harris stresses, the number of clients has more than doubled over the past 12 months compared with the
year before. "Basically, despite the initial controversy over the programme, people are starting to accept that it's a good idea. Probation officers, social
workers and those who work on drug treatment programmes are increasingly referring their clients to us," she says.

Increasing presence

There is no way of independently verifying the figures given by Project Prevention, nor will the group divulge the names of institutes whose
counsellors allegedly refer their clients to the programme - arguing that those people could fall foul of the authorities if their identities were
revealed.

Some prisons - such as the Bernalillo County Detention Center in Albuquerque - have apparently allowed the group to host information
sessions for their female inmates, but have stressed that this is not tantamount to a referral. But what is undisputed is that the programme has expanded significantly over the past five years - growing from a small establishment in California to a nationwide programme with a presence in most major cities.

As it has expanded, the tone of the group has also shifted. Ms Harris, who was quoted in one of her first interviews as saying "We don't allow dogs to
breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of
children," has since toned down her language.

Her project was initially referred to simply as Crack (Children Requiring A Caring Community). Now it frequently uses the warmer term Project Prevention. But the essence of her project remains the same. It offers drug addicts and alcoholics a sum of $200 for opting for a long-term form of birth control,
such as sterilisation or a contraceptive implant.

Those interested are asked to submit documents proving that they have been arrested on narcotic offences, or provide a doctor's letter as evidence
that they use drugs. After she or he has been accepted on the programme, fresh documents are then required to show that the procedure has indeed taken place. The money is then despatched.

"Our principal aim is to stop children winding up in foster care or with long-term health problems, whose care puts an enormous burden on the
taxpayer," says Ms Harris. "If they spend the $200 on drugs, they spend it on drugs. It's none of our business what they do with the money we give them."

Historical analogies

Organisations like the National Advocates for Pregnant Women do not deny that there can be problems with children born of addicted parents but
stress that many drug addicts become loving mothers and that their children in many cases do not suffer life-long health problems.

The programme diverts efforts away from helping addicts to become clean, they argue. "Barbara Harris couldn't care less about the addicts themselves and what might be best for them. And while it may be dressed up in the language of choice, for them to argue that these people come to them entirely of their
own free will is totally disingenuous," says Wyndi Anderson, co-ordinator for NAPW.

"The project targets poor women - and you tell me what sort of choice it is when its made by someone living in poverty and desperate for money. The
whole project is eugenist, it recalls what went on in the 1930s in America, or even in Nazi Germany." Laws authorising coerced sterilisations were passed in more than half of US states in the 1930s after lobbying from the American eugenics movement, which sought to further the existence of what it deemed to be the "genetically superior" and prevent reproduction among those it saw as inferior: "the licentious" and "the indolent".

America's legislation served as a model for the Nazis' programme of eugenics, which led to the extermination of Jews and the murder of many
gypsies, the mentally ill, and homosexuals. Ms Harris rejects any comparison.

"It's just nonsense. Nobody is forcing these people to do anything - it's their own decision. What infuriates me is that if my critics don't think these people are capable of making their mind up on an issue like this, why on earth do they think they are capable of bringing up a child?"

Time and reason

Ms Harris also has some influential, and wealthy, people on her side.

Dr Laura Schlessinger, one of the nation's most popular radio talk-show hosts, has made hefty donations and has frequently plugged the project.

Richard Scaife, heir to the Mellon fortune in Pittsburgh, is also reported to have donated, along with Jim Woodhill, a right-wing venture capitalist
from Texas.

African-American writers favourable to the programme have also helped to rebuff criticism that the programme targets black people. Despite these luminaries, the group continues to attract negative coverage in the media and it raises hackles whenever it opens a new branch.

And while it is acknowledged that the group is making progress, the sterilisation of 1,050 drug addicts in five years remains a relatively
inconsiderable number. This, however, appears to provide little solace to the critics. "It doesn't seem a lot, but the fact is that the group hasn't disappeared or faded away, and people are now starting to get used to it," says Ms Anderson of NAPW.

"As the saying goes: Time makes more converts than reason."

Friday, August 29, 2003

one more arnold

okay, i am not fixated on this man, he just keeps digging one heck of a hole and i can't ignore it. Okay so all of the stuff in the Oui interview took place in 1977. I don't think that changes anything, but some folks think that time does have an impact on people.

Okay, then, why did he say this not too long ago?

About Arnold Schwarzenegger

Read the July 20, 2003 story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

TERMINATED TAKE: Arnold Schwarzenegger has some big ideas when it comes to running for governor -- but he was definitely thinking small when it came to
shooting that bathroom dunking scene for his new action flick, "Terminator 3."

"I saw this toilet bowl," Schwarzenegger told Entertainment Weekly in its July 11 edition. "How many times do you get away with this -- to take a woman, grab her upside down, and bury her face in a toilet bowl?" But, the Mighty Terminator adds: "I wanted to have something floating there."

Ughhh.

"The thing is, you can do it," Arnold argued, "because in the end, I didn't do it to a woman -- she's a machine! We could get away with it without being
crucified by who-knows-what group."

Maybe -- but in the end, the "floating" idea was itself terminated.

"They thought it was my typical Schwarzenegger overboard."

and then there is this.
more arnold, more MP bullshit

my response to a poster on a list:

Hi, XXX

> A woman close to me used to be into group sex with ice hockey
> players. She was seeking them out, and there was no history of child
> abuse or other forms
> of sexual abuse. I am no fan of Arnold, but rape is a serious allegation
> for
> which you have no evidence.

Few things....

1) if you note the way I worded my original comment, I used the word, "apparent" admission of a gang-rape. Perhaps I placed this word in the wrong place. I could have said admission of an "apparent" gang-rape.

2) you are correct about "evidence" as measured by today's standards, none of arnold's DNA nor a victim to say, "yup, he is the one."

3) those two things said, I stand by the intent of my original post for the following reasons:

-what Arnold himself said about the incident itself:

"...there was a black girl who came out naked. Everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs, where we all got together. Asked by Manso if he was talking about a "gang bang," Schwarzenegger answered, "Yes..." Yeah, that sounds like willing participation on her part! Bullshit. Note that if at ANY time she said, NO, and anyone continued, no matter how interruptus it was, that constitutes rape, pure and simple. The entire notion of men not being able to control themselves once they start having sex is ridiculous and serves nothing more than an excuse for men to get away with sexual assault. Note, also, that I am in no way convinced, based on what Arnold himself said that she was indeed, a "willing participant" from the get go. He did NOT say it was "group sex," he admitted it was a "gang-bang" -- that does NOT imply mutual consent, by any means.

-the notion of women wanting sex with a lot of men, IMO is much more of an urban myth, male fantasy than anything having to do with reality. I think it is one perpetrated by men for their own benefit and to relieve any feelings of guilt whenever there is mention of sexual assault. Hence, the ever-popular, "Well, why was she dressed like that?" or, in this case. "Why did she come down naked? Doesn't she know how men will react? A naked woman in the midst of a group of body-builders is begging to have sex." Really? Could she have been traumatized for some reason and came out publicly without any clothes? Perhaps she was suffering from some kind of mental illness and she wasn't aware of what was going on. Isn't it the height of presumptuousness and privilege to think that if a man sees a woman naked that she it asking for him to have sex with her?????? Again, Bullshit.

-again, I wonder how race plays a factor in this. Arnold specifically mentions that she was "black." Notions of white oppression aside, let's, once again, switch the scenario. Imagine some now famous Black film star, who recounts the VERY same story, but the woman is white. We don't know the race of the other body-builders that participated with Arnold, but in my revised scenario, imagine if they, too were Black. Now, imagine if our now famous, Black film star said, "...there was a WHITE girl who came out naked. Everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs, where we all got together. Asked by Manso if he was talking about a "gang bang," BLACK FIM STAR answered, "Yes..."

nah, no rape at all, just good ole clean fun, that's all.

Sorry, XXX, don't buy it. Granted, no freakin DNA, but whether or not a rape occurred? I don't need no stinkin' DNA to know something happened, that in all likelihood involved sex without her consent/will...in other words, rape. IMO, to conclude otherwise is to perpetuate myths that contribute to violence against women.

john

Thursday, August 28, 2003

privilege in rare form

Arnold tries to dodge a recent revelation about him. he brushes it off by saying, "...only that he had things other than politics on his mind all those years ago" (this was in a Hollywood Reporter story)

Hmmm, interesting defense, yes? "Yeah, I smoked dope/hash, treated women like shit, participated in a gang rape, and was highly egocentric, but you know, I wasn't thinking about running for governor of CA back then, so whaddya expect????"

I'd like to see how well a similar defense would fly if he wasn't a rich, white, Republican, film star.

Imagine if he was African-American or Hispanic-American, NOT a film star, and had no political connections and he admitted to the same things? Think the same defense would fly then? He says it like we are expected to forgive him or something. I don't mind the forgiveness part so much, it is the apparent expectation that we WILL accept such a ludicrous explanation as a reasonable explanation and let him slide.

Privilege in rare form, indeed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

comments

i have had a couple of folks mention to me about being able to make comments on the blog -- again, when time permits, i will see about adding some program to allow for folks to do that.

i love dialogue. believe it or not, I DO get tired of hearing myself think and talk.

:)
lose your self, gain energy

note that many of the wisdom traditions inform us that when we self-lessly serve the world, we get MORE energy. self-less service is just that, serving others without any expectation of benefit to oneself -- which is energy-consuming. think about how much time and literal energy we expend thinking about "what is in this for me? what do i get if i do this?" Nasty, right? God, it drags me down when i do that shit and i do it way too much, it seems.

Now, this is not the doormat, "use me i am worthless thing." this is the deal that incredible people like Mother Teresa did or that my spiritual teacher do. they love and serve others, with no sense of ego, with no concern about "what is in it for them" and they have boundless energy. Ammachi sits and hugs people for hours. she doesn't eat, she doesn't go to the bathroom, she gives, and gives, and gives...if only I could do that.

this even makes sense sociologically. self is something that is social in nature. as such, it is a product of the culture that we are part of. think of the culture that we are part of. think of how draining it is. think of how free you would free if your self didn't matter. not that your body doesn't matter, but that all of the fears, the emotional stuggles, the gooey emotional crap that we get entangled in doesn't matter. think how much MORE energy we would have to make things different for more people. freedom? damn, i think so.

when time allows i will post a paper i had intended to write for a sociology conference i am attending in october. it is called, "no self, no problem" and demonstrates how sociological thought of the self is similar to Buddhist thought about it. Buddhists, however point out that living wihout one is true freedom. contemporary sociologists have NOT had this realization, though.

Needless to say, i think that they should.

Monday, August 25, 2003

wisdom, values, and science

One of the reasons i purused a ph.d. was to learn how to do science. i always thought it was cool. actually what i thought was even cooler when an undergraduate was the idea of "truth" -- that seemed just wonderful.

well, while in graduate school, it dawned on me pretty quickly that i wasn't going to find "truth" through the application of the scientific method. why? too much error. error is a technical term for "well, we really can't do what we say we are going to do, and due to the fact that we are human and things human are inherently limited, we aren't going to admit either of these, because we REALLY want to do this mathematical thing, so we are going to define that stuff that does not fit into the model of what we want to do, 'error'." error in science is like collateral damage in war -- and i am sure equally as lethal in many settings. but, just like no one wants to talk about how collateral damage is actually innocent people who have been brutally and inconsequentially killed, no one likes to talk about error being an indication of how inaccurate and inappropriate the model is. "error" sounds cool and really technical, so most ph.d. yahoos throw it around like it is a real thing and that it really does exist. nonsense.

now, i do favor systematic data collection. i think that this is a great way to counter insanity. doesn't always work, because, 9:10, as Joe Walsh once said, "you can't argue with a sick mind" -- think of the current administration nixing the kyoto protocol despite the fact that over 100 Nobel Laureates were in favor of it. systematic data collection, along with other forms of data collection serves to provide a fairly complete indication of what is going on, so it is very, very useful.

so, science is limited -- in its design, and in its relevance.

what is/are not?

values

as noted by Sri Enath Easwaran below, love (which is a value) informs action. when one truly loves another (selflessly, without regard for how doing so might benefit oneself), widsom and knowing are born. in those instances, science is irrelevant. knowledge and wisdom are relevant.

i also think that values trump scienitific knowledge in another way. as noted above, the yahoos who are intent on destroying the world in "order to save it" can dismiss any kind of scientific finding. what they can't dismiss is exposure of what they are really about. this is done through exposing their values. George et al claim that they are interested in freedom, peace, etc. It is obvious by their actions that they are not. all one needs to do is to make this point clear -- when one bombs another country, one is NOT about peace, one does NOT value peace, one is about violence, one VALUES violence. when one muzzles reporters one is NOT about freedom of the press, one is about censorship, etc.

the thing that protrects their duplicity is thier privilege. they can easily dismiss any challenge. why? because they can say, "that is irrelevant" and no one challenges them. you know when you are close to exposing their duplicity by how angry they are.

i do think that if the american public were made aware of their duplicity, explained in simple terms, many more people would be outraged. if their REAL values were exposted, people would be outraged. this could be coming, but there is no guarantee that it will.
From Eknath Easwaran

“When mystics use the word love, they use it very carefully -- in
the deeply spiritual sense, where to love is to know; to love is
to act. If you really love, from the depths of your consciousness,
that love gives you a native wisdom. You perceive the needs of
others intuitively and clearly, with detachment from any personal
desires; and you know how to act creatively to meet those needs,
dexterously surmounting any obstacle that comes in the way.
Such is the immense, driving power of love.”

commentary to follow above...

note that this is precisely what i think should inform sociology and sociological practice

Sunday, August 24, 2003

thanks!

just wanted to say a public thank you to all of you who have written me about the blog. i really appreciate it. i hope to contribute more than i have recently -- my ideas, thoughts, etc, are backing up and i am feeling like i am going to explode! just a matter of finding that ever elusive time to do it all.

if you haven't gotten a personal note from me - you will, just give me a bit to catch up.

many thanks, you are all beautiful.

John
hire this sociologist!

my day job is really getting in the way of all that i want to do. too much social change work that is needed and not enough time to do it.

don't get me wrong, i love what i do and the people i work with. i just don't have time to do that job, spend time with my family, write, and do all of the social change work that i want to do. what i do as a day job is program evaluation, so it is not that specialized of a position. i think that what i have to offer to social change efforts is unique. besides, i can't stop doing the social change work -- it is calling me. think of that scene in The Last Temptation when Jesus talks about God calling him and it is like a bird with talons in his head. okay, mine is not quite that violent (!!), but it is indeed something that if i did not pursue, i would feel miserable, unfullfilled, and in all likelihood, really grouchy.

so, what am i looking for? someone to pay me a salary ($50k would do it), so i can devote my time to JUST doing the kind of social change work i want to do. it will be a great investment, and that amount of $$ to someone who can afford to donate it, is chump change. that is the ONLY overhead i would require. i could do all that i need to do (including supporting my family) with that.

so, if anyone knows George Soros, Warren Buffet or any other philanthropist who wants to invest in creating profound social change, have them drop me a line. i can do much with more freedom...couldn't we all?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

i say tomato you say tomatoe

has anyone else but me noticed that when big business attempts to influence political and social realms it is benignly called lobbying and marketing, but when regular folk do the same thing it is typically demeaned as "activism" and "demonstrating?"

the lesson here...s/he who contols the language controls reality.

Monday, August 18, 2003

continuing the public dialogue

another post to a list:

Wanted to let you all know of another “dialogue” I had recently. I read a great book by a SciFi author named Robert Sawyer about a parallel universe in which Neanderthals had evolved and we were extinct (it is called, “Hominds”). Due to a quantum glitch, one of the Neanderthals ends up in our world. Now, the Neanderthal world is not what WE would think of as Neanderthal, i.e., they are not slope-headed brutes. They have evolved with the same body type, but have become very “human” in the sense that their society is based on a rational approach to Neanderthal (i.e., human) behavior. The guy who comes to our world is a physicist! Very cool!

Anyway, the author has a scene in which a human woman is sexually assaulted (by a human) and it is written from her perspective. It is done very well, IMO, in that it portrays all of the reactions and responses that are typical in a situation like that (“typical” in the sense of devastating and largely ignored or derided by our culture). The entire novel is treated with that level of sensitivity – the author is a genius, IMO.

Anyway, I emailed him, told him that I was a sociologist, that I chaired a VAW committee and just wanted to thank him for the way he wrote the assault scene. Guess, what? He wrote me back, thanked me for contacting him, let me know that he had hoped he had gotten it “right” and thanked me for providing him with some confirmation.

Was that hard for me to do? No. Do we have countless opportunities to do that everyday? Yes. Should I stop asking and answering my own questions now before I turn into our Secretary of Defense? Yes.

Anyway, you get my drift, my friends. Please contribute to the public dialogue as Bill H. mentioned awhile back.
vacation, privilege, and hunger revisited...

posted this to the SAS list just now:

Came across this today – quote from Gandhi – IMO, this is the level of attention we need to bring to all things we encounter on a daily basis. Note that Gandhi focuses on the personal (“…the step YOU now contemplate...”). I however, think that WE can take it on a personal and a professional level – we KNOW what social conditions contribute to the “poorest person you have ever seen” so the steps that we take, as applied sociologists can have an even greater impact…and SHOULD, IMO.

"Recall the face of the poorest person you have ever seen, then ask yourself if the step you now contemplate is going to be any use to them"

And I saw this face and others like it just yesterday. I and some friends prepare and serve the evening meal at a homeless shelter once-a-month. Standing behind the serving counter, getting ready to pass along some garlic bread, I see a tiny face staring up at me. The MOST beautiful child in the whole friggin world, with the MOST beautiful eyes, the MOST precious sense of innocence and she is HUNGRY and has no place to live. I came home, told my wife about it and cried, it broke my heart so much. And I am grateful that it did and it still does.

I find it beyond belief that we live in the most privileged country in the entire world and we have children that are hungry, every damn day. IMO, this is insane and morally reprehensible and to the extent that we KNOW how to make it different and take NO action to do so, we are responsible for it. Sorry, but if you disagree, you go down to any homeless shelter, look in some child’s eyes and tell her that you’re sorry, but there is nothing you can do about her being hungry. And then get in your car, drive home, sup, and watch TV.

Stepping off of the soapbox now, but hoping that the outrage and disbelief that I feel spreads far and wide.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

so, you want peace, eh? willing to go to any length to get it?

like working with the faith communities to achieve it? hell, yes. screw beliefs and ideologies, what is needed is action. get the friggin world violence-free, and then we can work out the belief details. if we don't, then there won't be anyone left to even consider beliefs.

here are some that i have found that look promising...Christian Peacemaker Teams, Baptist Peace Fellowship, Pax Christi. and for those of you who are skeptical of their commitment to peace above dogma, read about George Weber who was killed in a car accident while in Iraq -- the man was there, working as a peacemaker -- he gave his life for it.

i know there are more. actually, i would hold any person's feet to the fire who claimed to be a "Christian" and didn't work and advocate for peace and social justice. hey, there's an idea.
structural support

i commented to some relatives while on vacation that our current social structures benefit some more than others. for those that they benefit, they work great. for those that they do not benefit, they are obdurate barriers that are forever in their way of achieving success.

and those "for whom the structures toll?" let's see...anglo, male, middle class and above; and for those that the structures are silent?...everyone else.
vacation, privilege, and hunger

been on vacation for the last week...

went down to one of our homeless shelters today to prepare and serve the evening meal for the residents. i do this in conjunction with Mother's Kitchen. i have been doing it for about six years. we serve homeless families.

seeing the kids today broke my heart. i came home, told my wife about them and cried. they are all so beautiful and deserving of all things good and wonderful. they live in the richest country in the god damn world and they are hungry. IMO, this is a crime. world hunger is a crime, but here, in the "good ole US of A" it is definitely a crime. fucking unforgiveable, actually. abhorrent, reprehensible. insane.

i have plenty to eat, a place to live, good, supportive people around me -- this is the god damn American dream. this is what should exist in the richest fucking country in the entire god damn world. NOT beautiful hungry, children, dejected parents, and tangible hopelessness. this is WRONG. it is especially wrong because we CAN do something about it. as someone far brighter than me said once, "we need a Manhatten project" to solve hunger and poverty in this country. no one can convince me that if enough people in this country got together and worked toward ending these things, they would still be here.

Friday, August 08, 2003

this is applied sociology

Flash Mob Descends on New York Toy Store

the problem is that most sociologists wouldn't GET how it is applied sociology.
description of my male privilege epiphany

My MP epiphany was about thinking I was immune from it because I was a “non-traditional” male – I am not a big person, I didn’t play sports that much, I cry, I got into fights “occasionally” when I was a kid, I am scared a lot of the time, I studied radical sociology of all things! But, at a conference on Men’s Work in the Movement, it hit me – privilege really has nothing to do with me, I have no control over its existence due to the current social structures. It is bestowed upon me and EVERY other man by the collective. I had NEVER realized this before. I thought privilege meant acting like a jerk (which it does), but I can NOT act like a jerk and still benefit from privilege – as you and probably every other woman knows and has know for millennia. Paul Kivel was there and he said to me, “look, there are no ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys, there are just ‘guys’” and because I am a gendered person, I am one of them.

Real easy to see how social change at the institutional level is the way to go – pure and simple.

I owe much, if not all of my MP awareness to feminists – I read Mary Daly and she scared the pants off of me, but I knew I couldn’t deny what she was saying. Dorothy Smith is brilliant. Nikki has educated me considerably, too. My understanding of it got clearer because of Steve’s work.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

refutation of objectivity

knowledge/sense-making implies

language which implies

group which implies

culture which implies

context which

denies

objectivity
don't bullshit me, Starbuckos

I had heard about how it was cheaper for a business to offer free WiFi access to customers than it was to charge for it and sent a note to Starbucks asking them to consider free WiFi access in their stores (right now you have to get a T-Mobile account). Here is the response I received:

"Dear Mr. Glass,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

Thank you for your inquiry about the pricing of our
WiFi accessibility. I can assure you that Starbucks
values your comments and I shared your feedback with
the appropriate department for their attention.
However, T-Mobile, not Starbucks, is responsible for
the pricing of this internet service. If you have
questions about or need help with the high speed
Internet access at Starbucks, please call T-Mobile
customer service at (800) 981-8563.

Thank you again for contacting Starbucks. If you
have any further questions or concerns, please
contact us at info@starbucks.com or call (800)
23-LATTE to speak with a customer relations
representative."

and then here is my response in return...

"hi, thanks for the note.

but, really, are you saying that Starbucks, king of
coffee in the entire world, cannot provide free
wireless access in their stores?

I have a wireless network at home that can have
unlimited users and I pay $50 a month.

That seems like chump change to a monolith like
Starbucks -- even if it was in every store.

I understand the spin and know that you are saying the
party line, but i am sure that you know as well as i
do, that Starbucks COULD provide free wireless if they
wanted to.

keep you job, my friend, but don't lose your soul."
it's the values, baby, NOT the person

sent the following in reply to a collague who had sent me some a very nice compliment (as noted below)...

> suggest. I seriously didn't realize anyone would be interested in
> reading my midnight rants on the place of sociology.

NEVER underestimate yourself or your contribution -- you have much to say. I think, we as sociologists do this too much. It is not so much about what you or I personally have to say -- it is the perspective itself -- the sociological imagination that is so profound -- all we have to do is demonstrate to others how to see the world this way and the change will occur -- that is our task - that is what hit me yesterday when I was reading your post.

> I am looking forward to meeting you. You are a true inspiration!

Not me, the values I strive to live by, yes, but not me personally. The values are inspirational and they will NEVER let anyone down. Trust me, I do and I will, I am human and I make conflicting choices at times.

I appreciate your thought, and thank you for it, but be inspired by those things that are truly inspirational -- they will serve you far better than I or any other person could and they will take you and the world much further.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

post previous to the last one -- so much for chronological correctness

Appreciate the continued dialogue -- I think that these are critical issues. And not to belabor any of this, but thinking that these deserve discussion, I want to make a couple more comments. Please feel free to ignore or delete or whatever.

> interactionist perspective that I know), everything. My whiteness
> will afford me no advantage on an Indian reservation, in a bario, in a
> black ghetto, or in a variety of other settings. I have been the
> object of slurs

I understand what you are saying, but I disagree to some extent. In fact, I would say that your whiteness does indeed advantage you considerably in these instances. For one, you can leave these settings whenever you choose, many, if not most of the folks who live there, cannot.

Second, if something where to happen to you while there, in all likelihood, something would be done about it, i.e., it wouldn't be seen as "just another crime" on the rez or in the ghetto or whatever.

Brief example -- here in XXXX, a few years back, a white male, successful professional living in the well-heeled part of town murdered his wife by strangling her with a phone cord and then stabbing her with scissors. Very, very brutal crime. It was on the front page for weeks. Similar crimes happen in other parts of town that are equally as brutal, but don't stay on the front page for weeks on end. Of course, the underlying question was, "how could this happen to such a nice family in such a nice neighborhood?" Those same questions are NOT asked when something similar happens in other parts of town.

> regression analysis of quantitative data. Over the course of that
> interview,the chair of that search committee tried repeatedly to bait
> me intoattacking her positivistic orientation. I studiously avoided
> taking thatbait.

You are a far better person than I! I would have taken the bait, shot my mouth off and lost any chance of doing anything! Note that I do have a "day-job" at an NPO and only teach as an adjunct.

:)

Comment on your experience, though...privilege comes in many shapes and sizes.

> would like to have a little more money on hand. I maintain that my
> having the ability to make sense of this example is a product of my
> humanity, not mywhiteness, maleness, interactionistness, etc.

yes, but the sense that you make could arise from one of those factors -- in fact, I think that it could be argued that it arose from all of those factors. This is why sense that is made varies form context to context.

> hetero cracker. I can, however, decide whether that label is
> important. Were I to be denied a job on that basis, I could decide to
> defend myself in aggressive ways or to become a zen-like duck and let
> it roll off my back.

Again, I think it is because you are identified as "white" by "society" that affords you these very choices. I don't doubt, nor do I impugn your humanity by making this statement. I have discovered that my humanity is born entirely out of the fact that I am identified as a white, male, well-educated sociologist. You are right, context IS everything and as much as I would like to appeal to some kind of universal sense of value and morality, I cannot ignore the fact that I am indeed, born from and reside in, particular, socially defined contexts.

> definitions of those experiences. Those definitions are a matter of
> interpretation, not predetermination.

Agreed. But, those interpretations are born out of the contexts that those people find themselves in -- some of their choosing, some not. I would argue that the extent to which one is able to choose his/her context reflects the amount of privilege one has.

> sentient, reflective beings. Reality is indeed obdurate. How people
> deal with its obdurate character, however, is an emergent process. I
> don't

Agreed and I would add that power is mediated by the participants within that emergent process. Your example of the chair attempting to bait you is a fine example of that. Why was she baiting you as opposed to you baiting her? The thought of you baiting her seems preposterous. What is the difference in that setting? A difference of power. Granted, an emergent process of reality was taking place, but it was one infused with power and for better or for worse, you didn't have as much as she did.

I hope I am not sounding like a jerk, XXXX, I just think that so much hinges on these kinds of things. Where I work, I see people suffer injury and death because of social definitions and negotiated reality. Needless to say, it is those who lack power who are the victims. I think this is why Blumer used that term, "obdurate" in reference to reality (as I suppose did Thomas in "...real in their consequences"). I don't know how much more obdurate and real one can get than death.

privilege? what the hell is that?

> further. I have real doubts about the ontological status of
> 'structure' and how and when it exists and maintains over time and
> place. But that's a

understood -- the issue that I think I raised in relation to your original post about whether or not there were "other" groups that experienced inter-group racism had to do with power and privilege.

Power is a very real thing that hinges on interpretation, definition, etc. The fact that it does, does NOT deny its effects. How many people are dead because Saddam is "evil incarnate?"


> I'm now going to make a claim that will be furiously denied (hopefully
> not) - I am a-color. I have little or no colour awareness in nearly
> all the situations of my life and being. I think that race and gender
> issues have

Not denied, XXX, just pointed out that this alone is evidence of your white privilege. Color is NOT important to you and your day to day interactions because you are part of the dominant group. It doesn't have to be. This is an effect of your privilege. This is NOT the case with those who are not.

Ask some of your colleagues who are an "other" color and see how much they are aware of their color in their day to day lives. Better yet, ask any woman that you know how much of her day-to-day interactions are shaped by the mere fact that she is identified as a "woman." Both of these privileges are undeniable in their effect and you have them whether you like them or not because they are bestowed upon you by the group that you are a member of.

You are not an "other" so you have no experience of it from that side. Think about XXX example of my son being followed when he goes into a store. The same store that I go into and will NOT be followed. This is a privilege that I have that he doesn't.

And again, the litmus test, IMO is whether or not when reading the "indicators of white privilege" you felt angry. If, so, welcome to your privilege. Believe it or not, if you show those same things to someone who is not "white," more often than not, that person will say, "yup, that's about right" and will not feel angry, but will, in all likelihood feel validated that a "white person gets it."

p.s. if you really want to find out the depth of privilege, I can forward another article that is based on the MacIntosh article that neatly dissects 'male' privilege. Oh, and it is written by a white, male, sociologist...but you know how freakin' crazy and off the mark those bastards are.


why can't all just be americans?

So, when can a person be "just" American? I think it is when we AS Americans see each person who is "legally" American as having the same rights, deserving the same respect, and being treated as equals across the board.

We don't do that right now -- we see division, we act on that division and, in consequence, we make that division disturbingly real. We don't offer the same respect to all Americans across the board. For instance...

1) We deny the opportunity for marriage to "gay" Americans
2) We intentionally profile "middle-eastern" Americans as they could have "terrorist ties"
3) We closely monitor "African" Americans, especially male African Americans as we are constantly reminded of how "dangerous" these men are as evidenced by the disproportionate number of them that are in prison
4) We demean those Americans who are on welfare as lazy, as leeches, as a drain on the system...so, they are unknowingly labeled as "welfare" Americans
5) We treat as second-class citizens, "physically-challenged" Americans.

You get the point. And IMO, all of the legislation in the world will never change these fundamental divisions because it is we AS Americans who need to say, this is wrong, this is not what we are about, this needs to change and then actually change.

Actually, I would prefer to not necessarily abandon national and/or cultural parameters, but at least SEE and realize that humans are humans no matter what form they arrive in. We see Saddam as the anti-Christ; his daughters see him as their father. His daughters mourned the loss of their brothers, we toasted their deaths.

As we know, these interpretations made by these people are context dependent. The question is, which context has more value than the other? Remaining true to SI, one would argue that both are entirely "valid" and neither has more validity than the other. Throw power in there as a dimension, and the Saddam is the anti-Christ is promoted as the RIGHT one. We then invalidate the sorrow and trauma that Saddam's daughters have in mourning the loss of their bothers. In doing so, we also invalidate a fundamental sense of humanity.

I personally would love to see all of us, no matter where, see that humanity that exists, that is undeniable, that XXXX references. Would this not be a better, safer, more tolerant, more productive world if that was the case?

Friday, August 01, 2003

unbelievable

wow, i hit the big time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Stan Goff: Bring 'Em on Home Now!

this man is a TRUE patriot. bless him and the organization that he has started.
the reality of war that no one wants to hear about

in other countries, suppression of these voices is called censorship. in this country, it is suppressed by appealing to some kind of military honor about not discrediting the uniform. either way it is still censorship.

from the travelling soldier site:

"You call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go
home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building." - Pfc. Matthew C.
ODell, Third Infantry Division.

"They're killing us. Enough is enough." - Staff Sgt. Ray B. Robinson, Third
Infantry Division.

"If you asked the soldiers, theyre ready to go home It was a very
emotional day for our guys. Theyre torn up over throwing old ladies and
kids out [of their houses]." - Maj. Brian Pearl, EO, 101st Airborne,
Northern Iraq.

"I don't see it getting better. We can't be everywhere, can we? I feel
like a cop, but I'm not a cop." - Pfc. Jacob Weber, 21.

"Every hour, this gets worse. Any foot-dragging on getting what we need
here means those people are responsible for me getting shot at." - Master
Sgt. Jerry Best, Army Corps.

"I think our welcomes worn out. We dont even get that fake wave anymore.
They just stare." - Lt. Tom Garner of the Fourth Infantry Division remarked
to his superior, Capt. Dave Gray, Tikrit.

"You are fighting a group that is in their home. If it was me and someone
was to come into my home, Id be throwing some lead downrange." - Sgt.
Joseph Denny, 25, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, Forward
Operating Base Exxon, Iraq.

"It's a little sobering. When you're training for this, you joke about,
you can't wait for the real thing. Then when you see it, when you see the
real thing, you never want to see it again." - Capt. Sal Aaguilar,
Baghdad.

"I didn't want to get shot, so I shot him first. OK, I'm done. I'm ready
to go back to Kuwait now." - Cpl. Juan B. Elenes, 21, of Portland, Ore.,
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

"I've seen a car blow up and then a guy run back and grab his wife from
the seat and we couldn't do anything about it. I saw people taking
pictures of dead people. I thought: That's disgusting. I asked my tank
commander, 'Why are you doing that?' He said, 'If my son says he wants to
join the Army, I'll show him this [photograph] and tell him this is what
the Army does.' " - Spc. Jarrid Lott, 28-year-old tank driver.

"Some of the people I killed who I didn't know if they were innocent or
not. That won't leave me." - Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Lujan.

"Who picked them up? Who buried them? I've reconciled myself. We did the
right thing, even though it was wrong." - Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Lujan again.

"Were more angry at the generals who are making these decisions and who
never hit the ground, and who dont get shot at or have to look at the
bloody bodies and the burnt-out bodies, and the dead babies and all that
kinda stuff." - Spc. Anthony Castillo, Third Infantry Divison.

"I had to look that woman right in the eyes and I felt so horrible for her.
Ive got a little girl. Im fucking constantly angry over what happened
with that family. [They were shot as they approached a checkpoint] ... Im
pissed off at my chain of command for not putting up signs in every
language, to warn em. Normally Im a talkative guy, a happy person, but
Ive been real quiet lately, because Im so pissed off. Im thinking more and
more Im so frustrated, so angry, I want to choke somebody ... constantly."
- Spc. 1st Class Bill Scates of Oklahoma City, stationed at a checkpoint
in Baghdad

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

reality and fantasy

why are our leaders more concerned about the threat of terrorism than they are about the reality of hunger, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, violence, and shitty education in our country?

and why are more people NOT asking this same question?

Monday, July 28, 2003

finally, it all becomes clear!

Herewith, definitions to keep on top of current events...

Saturday, July 26, 2003

i sleep easier because we have smart people like this in control of the world

apparently intelligence is not required when you have power, privilege, and unquestioned status...as evidenced by this quote from Paul Wolfowitz (oh, and he does have a Ph.D., ya know):

"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq"

really, ya, think so, Paul?????? what a fucking concept!
Refugees

the next time i hear one of those yahoos from, "the wrong" talk about how great we are because we helped all of those innocent iraqi kids, i am going to remind them about this. we should care so much about "foreign" kids in our own country, let alone all of those "non-foreign" kids who don't have enough to eat every day.

Friday, July 25, 2003

there's no stopping me!!!

post to AHS and SAS:

I mentioned that I contribute to other lists -- namely, AHS-Talk
(Association for Humanistic Sociology) and the SAS list (Society for
Applied Sociology). Two, action-oriented sociological lists and subsequent
associations. I also contribute to TEACHSOC. To contribute to the discussion you have now started, here is a post I
sent to the SAS list this morning in response to a question about the
"politics of sociology" "I agree with most of the thoughts on this issue -- I definitely think
that sociology is inherently political as is eating, breathing, and
sleeping. Saying that it is not (or they are not), IMO, is an untenable position.
Again, I refer back to my comments about IRB's, human subjects'
protection, etc. These require an inherently humanistic science. This means that we
value human life, alleviation of human suffering, etc. These are
inherently political positions and they really have NOTHING to do with some kind
of mythical (and decidedly political itself) thing called, "objectivity."
The fact that one would argue for objectivity is a value-laden and
political position. It is a recursive argument that most who argue for it are
unaware of (apparently some other person cleared their argument before they
made it, thus relieving the person making the argument from any responsibility
for any part of the argument that s/he actually utters. Note, that in
another context this is known as ventriloquism and the object whose lips are
moving is called a DUMMY...but, I digress.) f one has any doubts about whether or not sociology and other social
sciences are inherently humanistic, political, etc., just ask yourself
this question: Does one have to get approval from an IRB before declaring
war? Lastly, there is no way to divorce oneself from oneself -- I can't be a
sociologist when I am at work and then be a public citizen at home -- I
have tried mental illness and it is not fun (although the medications can be
entertaining until the side effects set in). It is the same body that
performs both roles. The mere fact that I take up space, have values,
and am recognized as a gendered person, results in me being a political
object.

What I eat results in another having less to eat and yet we both suffer
from hunger. So, who gets what? The fact that we even have institutions
called IRB's so we can do something called research reflects our undeniably
privileged (Read, political) status. Hunger, though, and deciding who gets what is politics at its most
basic. And don't we eat at others' expense everyday? If you think not, then
you need to bond up on the data on how much of the world's resources the US
consumes.

Preaching concluded here."

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Department of Homeland Security

thank God, there are good Americans out there who are looking out for us. i know that i sleep easier at night because of them. i just wish i could add their alert status system to my two over there ->

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

save sociology!

one of my posts to TEACHSOC, AHA, and SSSI:

STRENGTHS:

1) The discipline itself is potentially liberating for both individuals and groups (i.e., it is inherently humanistic)
2) it covers "all things human" and subsequently, all things "meaningful"
3) there is nothing that we "know" of that outside of the realm of the discipline
4) the sociological imagination is brilliant

WEAKNESSES:

1) not respected within the realm of social science disciplines
2) sociologists have "dropped the ball" in getting the discipline into the forefront of mainstream (i.e., public) thought
3) the essence is being usurped by other disciplines: economics, political science, "socio-historical psych," etc.

In short, the discipline is wonderful, perfect, transformational. If there is any weakness to it, it is that sociologists have failed in getting it to where it needs to be within the general public, but there is absolutely nothing "weak" about the discipline itself.

Monday, July 21, 2003

be a republican, blame someone else for your lack of accountability and responsibility

for the party that uses the concept of a "personal responsibility" as a bludgeon whenever it suits their purpose, it never ceases to amaze me how quick they are to blame others and NOT take any responsibility for their failings. Just like george took NO responsibility for those “16 words” that came out of his mouth (apparently he REALLY is a dummy that is controlled by someone else) dennis hastert on "Fox News Sunday" blames Clinton for the intelligence problems in the Bush administration!!!!!!!

but, hey, when you got bill "i gamble responsibly" bennett as your poster-boy for values and morality, it really isn't much of a wonder, i suppose.

I just wish these jerks would come out and say, “we hate anyone not like us, don’t give a damn about anything but money and power, KNOW that we are fundamentally better than any of you, and only do something seemingly noble when it benefits us.” Oh, but that would expose them as the selfish, self-centered bastards that they really are…I forgot that. I have to rid myself of these stupid “liberal” values like honesty, integrity, etc.

Are there any repubs reading this who can teach me how to be an asshole?

Friday, July 18, 2003

when will they learn?

when will those reporters learn the proper followup? "Tom," for example, asks the Prez the following:

Q Mr. President, others in your administration have said your words on Iraq and Africa did not belong in your State of the Union address. Will you take personal responsibility for those words? And to both of you, how is it that two major world leaders such as yourselves have had such a hard time persuading other major powers to help stabilize Iraq?

the Prez dodges the question, blathers on about how responsible a guy he is, acts kind of pissy in an entitled sort of way (surprise, surprise), and then passes to Tony, the boy wonder...

THE PRESIDENT: First, I take responsibility for putting our troops into action. And I made that decision because Saddam Hussein was a threat to our security and a threat to the security of other nations.

I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision, to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein. Because the intelligence -- not only our intelligence, but the intelligence of this great country -- made a clear and compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat to security and peace.

I say that because he possessed chemical weapons and biological weapons. I strongly believe he was trying to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program. And I will remind the skeptics that in 1991, it became clear that Saddam Hussein was much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than anybody ever imagined. He was a threat. I take responsibility for dealing with that threat.

We are in a war against terror. And we will continue to fight that war against terror. We're after al Qaeda, as the Prime Minister accurately noted, and we're dismantling al Qaeda. The removal of Saddam Hussein is an integral part of winning the war against terror. A free Iraq will make it much less likely that we'll find violence in that immediate neighborhood. A free Iraq will make it more likely we'll get a Middle Eastern peace. A free Iraq will have incredible influence on the states that could potentially unleash terrorist activities on us. And, yeah, I take responsibility for making the decisions I made.

Q Mr. President --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.

what Tom then should have asked, but didn't, was, "So, that is a no? You won't take responsibility for those words?"

why is that so hard??????


Wired News: Roll-Your-Own Net TV Takes Off

maybe a shot at plurality and democracy -- power to the people.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

decoding compassionate conservatism

i think i have this concept figured out. the essence of "compassionate conservatism" is "once, i get mine, i'll give you some. I won't give you much, but i'll give you some and you should be grateful that i have given you anything." the intent behind the giving is not compassion in the sense of a desire to assist others without any expectation in return. This is decidedly different than say, "regular" compassion as it is predicated on entitlement and privilege. "I ain't giving you squat until i am sure that i am going to have a lot." It is not, "we're all in this together and need to work together so that we can all benefit. You are not better than I am and my giving to you is beneficial to both of us." Rather, it is deceptively, yet definitively selfish at its core. The compassion that emerges from it is an after-thought, not the starting point. "Once i am fixed for life, then i can be compassionate, but before that, you are on your own, buddy and don't come looking to me for anything."

and war is peace, oppression is freedom, and there were WMD's and i believe with every fiber of my being that they will be found. hold your breath on that last one, baby -- that would be the compassionate conservative thing to do.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

saddam ain't dumb

i would like to think that someone in the intelligence community or elsewhere in the current administration would have thought of this, but in light of all that is coming out about their collective lack of intelligence, perhaps no one has.

what if we are playing right into Saddam's hand? Think about it -- he has had plenty of time to prepare for an invasion. he has had plenty of time to strategize how best to respond to overwhelming military force and the subsequent expected occupation of the country. in short, he has prepared to do exactly what is happening right now -- guerilla war with the US.

here is how i am figuring this...

1) take all of the above into consideration
2) consider that the iraqi army really didn't put up that much of a fight
3) the cities that were expected to put up the most resistance (Tikrit et al) did not
4) Saddam is gone -- surely he is not dead -- we have no body nor any other evidence to support a claim of his death
5) he has been considered for some time to be a "survivor" -- i think that this means that he plans for all contingencies -- why not "allowing" his country to be taken over so he can then wage the kind of war that he knows he has the best chance of winning
6) the US underestimated all kinds of things about the invasion of Iraq (manpower, reaction from the citizens, the actual resistance that they did encounter, etc.), why not Saddam's intelligence?
7) it would be the best way to win because Saddam knows that the US does not want a repeat of Viet Nam

Hey, if i can think all of this stuff up and i am not a "tin horn dictator," surely a real tin-horn dictator can.


Masturbating Lowers Prostate Cancer Risk

hey, all that stuff that we learned in Catholic school was wrong!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

hunting for bambi

Sex, violence, capitalism and male dominance – about sums up the state of things in the world today, yes?
five evasive maneuvers

I thought this was interesting in how Dana Milbank documents five techniques
that Ari used to not answer questions - I think these are the kinds of
things that we need to educate folks about when "questioning authority."
People need not to settle for the brush off, but the first task is
identifying the brush off - Ari et al, because of their statuses and their
sociopathic ability to lie with no shame are especially convincing in their
ability to make the brush off sound so reasonable

Sunday, July 13, 2003

hmmm, sometimes i surprise myself

a post to AHS-Talk awhile back:

Hi, Michelle

> regime is better than theirs. Is it possible that we're not being
> clear in distinguishing between moralistic and moral (meaning
> something more like ethos rather than just another rule regime)? Are
> people so used to

I think it has to do with values. I would imagine that at some level, many people DO embrace humanist values, if for no other reason than self-preservation. Unfortunately, the exalting of these values in our culture seems to be restricted to certain unpopular forums -- church, humanist list-servs, etc. They really aren't that "sexy," yes? They are boring. They are not "extreme" nor just plan, old "exciting." We don't see humanist values emblazoned in the latest sequel of "Lethal Weapon IX" nor do we hear about them in Congress -- lip-service yes, but actual action taken along humanistic lines, no. I don't think that capitalist society can "afford" to promote those values, hence they are sidelined. In fact, humanist values are anathema to capitalism.

As such, I would think that humanist values would fall more along the line of ethos as you mention. Your question of how to distinguish is a good one. I see it as how to we get people to understand our commonality? The empirical fact that we are indeed ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. What affects NY DOES affect Buenos Aires. I don't think humanist values are that hard to "get" -- I actually think that many religions promote these -- if you burn off the beliefs that surround them, that is.

I also think that Bill's point about breaking through the image is critical. I know that when I see an injured Iraqi child, it breaks my heart -- I have children, and when I see an injured child, I automatically see that child as my own. I think that other parents do this, too.

It is just that we are conditioned to NOT want to see this. We switch the channel to MTV or whatever, when any disturbing images come on the set. I think that we need to stay with the images -- let them wash over us, let us feel the pain that arises, let us get a sense of our responsibility in all of this, DON'T switch the channel. Because of our tremendous privileges here in the US, though, we CAN and DO switch the channel -- "too painful, not fun," click. Our switching comes at NO immediate cost to us. Granted, we lose our sense of humanity, but did we ever really have it in the first place? Since the culture really doesn't care that we have a fuller sense of our humanity, then it is perfectly acceptable to switch, even promoted to switch. We are reminded of "all of those who gave their lives so that we can switch channels, eat fast food, get the largest penis in the world, etc."

We are taught that we DON'T have to suffer -- "get an adjustable bed, get a remote for the TV, get a friggin robot that will bring you drinks, wipe your butt, etc." Right? This is where capitalism controls us -- buy "something" to relieve your discomfort. "Don't want to see dead Iraqi children, hell, switch the channel, and now that the FCC has relaxed federal regulations, you have even more channels to choose from! Isn't that great? Goddamn, America is the greatest country in the world! Look at all the choices that we have! And remember all those patriots who died so that you could have these choices."

Once the switch is made, then the image is gone, the pain is gone, the thought of having to do something about it is gone -- like Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron. Life goes on, capitalism breathes a sigh of relief, we walk around numb, one more time.

> to follow rules and another thing to practice conscious awareness (not
> exactly the best way to describe to what I mean, but maybe there's
> enough of a glimmer that someone can help me out!)?

I don't know if this helpful, but I am convinced that capitalism and the manifestation of its accompanying values in this country, demands that we are NOT conscious! Numb, conditioned to buy, conditioned to NOT question, conditioned to change the channel, see a commercial and then buy whatever the hell it is advertising so that we can relieve that sense of discomfort that we had leftover from watching the dead Iraqi children. Shit, if we were conscious, saw all the BS that is being fed to us so that some SOB can have one more Bentley, and we get "freedom fries for the guaranteed low price of $1.99," then people would freak out. Capitalism demands un-consciousness.

Whew, that got me going, Michelle, thanks! Better than caffeine!

:)

John

Saturday, July 12, 2003

more adolescent total institutions

"Have you read of young Adam Asch? Here's an Alternet
story about him...followed by links to where he WAS
and where they SENT him...Utah is such a lovely place.

Just Call Them Crazy
Alex Asch..."diagnosed" with "Oppositional Defiance
Disorder"

Here's where he WAS: Institute for Social Ecology

Here's where he's at now: Turnabout: Stillwater
Academy


The language Turnabout uses is chilling...so pleasant sounding..."

Thanks, David.
OpenOffice.org

indeed, the best things in life ARE free. nice open source, pseudo MS Office Suite -- looks a lot like Star Office. I got it for our home PC.

Friday, July 11, 2003

sociology is perfect, now spread the word

just posted the following to the TEACHSOC list. It was in response to a question about the strengths and weaknesses of the discipline of sociology. I believe every word of it...

"STRENGTHS:

1) The discipline itself is potentially liberating for both individuals and groups (i.e., it is inherently humanistic)
2) it covers "all things human" and subsequently, all things "meaningful"
3) there is nothing that we "know" of that is that is not outside of the realm of the discipline
4) the sociological imagination is brilliant

WEAKNESSES:

1) not respected within the realm of social science disciplines
2) sociologists have "dropped the ball" in getting the discipline into the forefront of mainstream (i.e., public) thought
3) the essence is being usurped by other disciplines: economics, political science, "socio-historical psych," etc.

In short, the discipline is wonderful, perfect, transformational. If there is any weakness to it, it is that sociologists have failed in getting it to where it needs to be within the general public, but there is absolutely nothing "weak" about the discipline itself."

Thursday, July 10, 2003

pleasure...it's addicting

we seem to be so wired for pleasure, that all we need to do is think pleasurable thoughts and we feel good. pay attention to how much of your day is seeking pleasure -- even if it is just thinking about something that is pleasurable
turn about is fair play?

MIT Media Lab has developed a website to keet an eye on the gov -- appropriately titled, "Government Information Awareness."
Military-academia complex?

DARPA is developing a new tracking system -- sort of like 24-7 Big Brother - captures everything a person does, sees, emails, says, etc. Imagine how many researchers would drool for these kinds of data?

Makes me wonder how many social scientists will inadvertently support such a thing as a way to get great data?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

my mother...

my Mother was in town this past weekend. my family and i spent time with Her and hundreds of other folk. It was very subtly enjoyable.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

straight from the horse's mouth...

wow, how much more evidence do we need to get rid of this guy???? Here is David Rubinstein, founder of the Carlysle Group (yes, THAT Carlysle Group, with ties to the bin-Laden and Bush families) telling it like it is about George W.

Yowza.
total, adolescent institution...Jamaica style

If your kid (11-17) misbehaves and you got the $$, send him/her to "Tranquility Bay" for some rehab. From the Guardian UK article:

"When you have a teenager on the rampage, who are you going to turn to? In America, parents send their troubled offspring to Jamaica's Tranquility Bay
- a 'behaviour-modification centre' which charges $40,000 a year to 'cure' them. Decca Aitkenhead, the first journalist to gain access to the centre in five years, wonders if there isn't too high a price to pay.
google speaks the truth

if you go to google and enter the search term, "weapons of mass destruction," and then click "I'm feeling lucky" you get this.

This one is a keeper.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

more brilliance...

sorry, not feeling all that humble today. what i just posted to AHS list:

"Yeah, I have already checked into it and depending upon how many, you can get mini-cd's for about .35 or .40 cents per cd (orders of 10,000 or 5,000). If someone can find a grant, it could be done fairly inexpensively.

I think hooking up with a band is a good idea, too (not sure this is what you were suggesting, but it is what I was thinking earlier). There are quite a few internet/new media/progressive bands that I could imagine might be open to passing some discs out at their concerts -- especially if they included a copy of one of their songs or video, etc. the mini-cd's can hold up to 50 megs of data, so there is no problem with space.

I don't know if Glenn Goodwin is still subscribed to the list or not -- if so, he might want to add to this, or not -- but one of the things that hooked me as an undergraduate was his association with CSNY. If you look on some of their album covers from the late sixties and seventies, he is included in their list of people to thank.

So, thirty years later, a new group of bands, a new group of sociologists looking to influence mass society, some new media? It has been done before, no reason to think that it can't now..."
How To Win: A Practical Guide to Defeating The Radical Right

this is a keeper.
still trying to change the world

from a post i sent to SAS and AHS list:

Hey, here’s an idea for getting soc info out to the mainstream! Can you imagine having selected texts on things like the soc imagination, et al on something like this??? Little soc lectures, vignettes, etc? Check this out:

"Soft drink lids are the new flexidiscs? An indie artist called Rachel Farris is embedding her promo mini-CD in the lids of soft-drink cups at movie theaters. Her independent record label is embedding mini-CDs in the lids of soft drink cups at movie theaters nationwide and a few theme parks. Featuring not just a pair of songs that can be heard on regular CD players but also video clips and other content viewable on computers, the so-called enhanced CDs make TV and radio seem passé"
big brother's new electronic surveillance tools

straight from NIJ (National Institute of Justice):

P - Computer Forensic Software Tool Evaluated.
"Test Results for Disk Imaging Tools: EnCase 3.20" (100 pp.) (NCJ 200031) presents test results of EnCase 3.20, a computer forensic software tool that allows investigators to examine hard drives and disks for deleted, hidden, and/or renamed computer files. It describes the testing environment, 3 anomalies, documents test results against 22 test assertions, and includes a summary log. (NIJ) Access full text

P - Electronic Evidence Preservation Tool Evaluated.
"Test Results for Disk Imaging Tools: SafeBack 2.18" (221
pp.) (NCJ 200032) presents test results of SafeBack 2.18, an electronic evidence preservation tool that creates mirror- image backups of computer hard disk drives. It describes the testing environment and 4 anomalies detected among the test cases; documents test results against 22 test assertions; and includes summary log files of 112 test cases. (NIJ) Access full text

Monday, June 30, 2003

department of peace

i really like this idea -- if anyone likes it, too, email me and maybe we can assist in the development of this - maybe even on a local level??

Sunday, June 29, 2003

john-a-thon

okay, going to do the blogathon -- think about sponsoring me -- check out how to do it here. my site is on my links below, or here.
the myth of the individual continued...

okay, so you know what else? the language that you use, that is inherent to your knowledge of yourself, your world, all things, meaningful, is NOT yours. It does not belong to you, it is on loan from the culture(s) that you are embedded in. It does not go with you into the great beyond when your body stops breathing. it remains with the culture, as it should as it does belong to "them" to "us," but not to "me."

in fact, if there were no "them," there would be no "me." we need "them" to become "us," to become "me's

in short, it ain't about me (since me can only be known in relation to them, and has no inherent existnece), it is about us.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

atheists beware!!!!

How To Report Atheists to the FBI
wow, this church is tough!

Homosexual Deprogramming Ministry: "Group member Kenny Johnson speaks of the group as, 'A means to an end. If you are gay, and you think you are a Christian (of any denomination) you simply are not, according to my Bible.' Dan Pason added, 'We sometimes are forced to act in full accordance with Levitical Law, and this means torture and oftentimes certain death for anyone who refuses to give up the gay lifestyle"

Friday, June 27, 2003

sociology slam

had a cool idea tonight -- what about holding sociology slams? that would be a way to get the word out. my ideas are based on poetry slams -- here is how i think one might work (draft):

1) participants get a limited amount of time to provide a sociological analysis of some social phenomena. could be as mundane as mowing the yard or something as complex as social inequality.
2) they don't know what topic they will be given, but they do know what the time limit is.
3) they are given the topic, the time runs, they provide the analysis.
4) the analysis is judged by the audience, and by five judges. highest and lowest score of the judges are thrown out, the three remaining are kept.
5) next person goes, etc.

we could do it in categories like functionalist, conflict, post-modern, feminist, exchange, etc.

at the end, the judges (and or the audience) could provide feedback on how to improve the analyses.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

discourse analysis of the prez's rhetoric

this is a very nice analysis of Bush's rhetoric. great interpretation of his speech. a must read.
New Blog added

I like Doug Kellner -- have added his blog (BlogLeft) under "Sociological Blogs." Read him/it -- very good.
From Democracy Now!

"Two Georges, Orwell and Bush: Recent sound bites from President Bush
and others accompany a dramatic reading of George Orwell's classic novel, 1984.

100 years ago today, author and journalist George Orwell was born.
We'll spend the hour hearing excerpts from his classic work 1984.
The book introduced the terms "Big Brother," "thought police,"
"newspeak" and "doublethink." We'll also hear clips from President
Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin
Powell, Fox New's Bill O'Reilly, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
Sen. Robert Byrd and broadcast footage of Donald Rumsfeld meeting
with Saddam Hussein in 1983."

looks good.

btw, here is an online version of 1984.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

to each his own

hey, i made someone blink -- this person is apparently questioning the quality of my degree in sociology. YIKES! looks like it is time for a short essay on, "On lawn care and social identity" or some such thing..stay tuned.
2003 Blogathon

i am considering doing the 2003 Blogathon, if i can get permission from mi familia. i already have a site being developed if i get approved. it is on the permament link on the right.

if i am able to do it, i am going to start asking for $$, so get your pocket books ready.

Monday, June 23, 2003

drugs are bad...because they are so damn expensive!!!!

okay, i know that you are curious about what the virus is...suffice it to say that most people do not want to kiss me. yes, i know that not many want to any given day of the week, but even less so now. i called my doc and she presrcibed an anti-viral med called, "Valtrex." I got 4 of them for $30.00! Four!!! that is what, $7.50 each! and the $30.00 was with my co-pay, i have no idea how much they would be wihout the co-pay.

at that kind of price, i better experience self-realization.
Not in Service

been down with a virus -- creativity on hold -- i hate it -- thoughts backing up, getting intellectually impacted, not good...

i did add the "Got Fear" link below, though. thank God for Sesame Street in times of terror.

Friday, June 20, 2003

No WMD's

don't ya just hate it when people remember things? damn, liberal bastards.

Facts, Shmacts...We Don't Need No Stinking Facts!!!!

yet again, don't confuse me with the facts, damnit!