Later On

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Archive for November 11th, 2021

An Air Force sergeant killed himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The note he left is heartbreaking.

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The US is not doing right by its veterans, nor by its armed forces.

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post (and that’s a gift link: no paywall):

Kenneth Omar Santiago’s perfect smile dazzles on social media as he poses in his Air Force uniforms — flight suits to mess dress.

He accepts military awards, travels to far-off places, salsa dances and swims with sharks to oohs and aahs from friends in Lowell, Mass., his hometown.

“He’s got it all,” more than one commented.

Before Veterans Day, he posted a 1,116 word message, his longest yet.

Then, in a green T-shirt with an American flag emblazoned across his chest, the 31-year-old walked to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shot himself.

Statistics tell us at least 16 other members of the military community also took their lives that Monday night and every night — the average daily toll — leading up to Veterans Day, when the nation thanks veterans for their service with a free 10-piece order of boneless chicken wings or a free doughnut.

At 7:09 p.m., minutes after he posted the note, his friends began responding:

“Kenny, you are loved. Do not do this!!”

“Hey, you are not alone!! Rob is trying to call you now.”

“Santi for the love of god don’t do this.”

“Call his unit.”

“Call the cops!”

“Command post is tracking.”

But by then, two nurses visiting the memorial at night were trying to give him CPR. A medevac helicopter flew in minutes later, landing next to the Reflecting Pool to take Santiago to the hospital. He was pronounced dead hours later, 1 a.m. on Tuesday Nov. 9, police said.

Naveed Shah reposted a video of that helicopter landing when he saw it on social media.

It made Shah, an Army veteran and political director of the veteran’s group Common Defense, furious.

“In the past decade that I have spent in veterans advocacy, much has been done about the veterans suicide epidemic with few results,” Shah said. “Santiago’s death in this hallowed place, at this time of reverence for veterans, perhaps should provide pause for government officials and elected leaders in Washington to consider the impact 20 years of wars have had on our armed forces.”

Veterans know it’s bad and it’s going to get worse, with the 20-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the covid-19 death rate in the military doubling these past few months.

And when we tell them to go get help, help is hard to find. There’s a “severe occupational staffing shortage” in more than half of the psychiatric facilities veterans are sent to, according to the September Inspector General’s report on the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The struggle to get treatment has always been there for veterans. Take an equally public suicide eight years ago across the National Mall, at the other end of the cross that makes America’s most iconic space. Vietnam War veteran John Constantino saluted the white dome of the Capitol and immolated himself. At the time, his family attorney said it was the result of “a long battle with mental illness.”

Constantino’s death was public, laden with symbolism, just like Santiago’s.

“Nobody ever knows who is struggling or [waging] wars the eye cannot see. What does chronic depression even look like?” Santiago wrote in his note, which he double-posted on Instagram and Facebook, along with a slide show of him as a baby, with family, in Bali, at games, at work. “At times I think my close friends just tolerate me. Moreover, I feel truly alone. I always have. For a long time (years) I’ve known I would take my own life.”

His friends told me they wish he could’ve shared this when he was alive.

“In the military, he had to always have this front, he had to always appear strong,” said Sarah Kanellas, one of his childhood friends from Lowell, Mass. Her partner is in the military, and she knows that no matter what military officials say, there’s a stigma.

“You know how in basic training they break them down so they can build them back up? I get it, I know why they have to do that,” Kanellas said. “But they need to make mental health part of the building back up.”

Military bigwigs say they’re doing this. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin often says “mental health is health.”

And this week in his Veterans Day statement, Austin said: “We are working so hard to provide the best medical and mental health care possible for those whose military service has concluded. We must prove capable of treating the wounds we see, as well as the ones we cannot see.”

But that message hasn’t trickled down to the troops. . .

Continue reading. Gift link = no paywall.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2021 at 10:16 pm

The Man Who Made January 6 Possible; or, When Zealots Are Given Power

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Jonathan D. Karl, chief Washington correspondent for ABC News and author of Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, has an arresting article in the Atlantic, adapted from that book. The article begins:

In late october 2020, Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was attending the confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett when his cellphone rang. He answered with a whisper and walked out to the hallway to take the call. What was so urgent as to pull the chief of staff out of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing just two weeks before a presidential election?

On the line was Andrew Hughes, the top staffer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Meadows had asked him to call because it had been brought to Meadows’s attention that a young assistant at HUD had been caught consorting with the enemy.

She had liked an Instagram post from the pop star Taylor Swift.

The first photo in the post was of Swift with the word vote superimposed on it in large blue letters. But a swipe revealed a second photo, of Swift carrying a tray of cookies emblazoned with the Biden-Harris campaign logo. “We really can’t have our people liking posts promoting Joe Biden,” Meadows told Hughes.

Never mind that nearly 3 million other people had liked the post or that the young woman was a Taylor Swift fan who liked just about everything Swift had ever posted. To the enforcers of Trumpian loyalty, this was a sign of treachery in the ranks.

Those enforcers—including the eagle-eyed official who had first spotted the offending “like”—worked for the Presidential Personnel Office, a normally under-the-radar group responsible for the hiring and firing of the roughly 4,000 political appointees in the executive branch. During the final year of the Trump administration, that office was transformed into an internal police force, obsessively monitoring administration officials for any sign of dissent, purging those who were deemed insufficiently devoted to Trump and frightening others into silence. (Many sources for this story asked to remain anonymous so they could talk about sensitive personnel issues.) Some Trump aides privately compared the PPO to the East German Stasi or even the Gestapo—always on the lookout for traitors within.

The office was run by Johnny McEntee. Just 29 when he got the job, he’d come up as Trump’s body guy—the kid who carried the candidate’s bags. One of Trump’s most high-profile Cabinet secretaries described him to me as “a fucking idiot.” But in 2020, his power was undeniable. Trump knew he was the one person willing to do anything Trump wanted. As another senior official told me, “He became the deputy president.”

McEntee and his enforcers made the disastrous last weeks of the Trump presidency possible. They backed the president’s manic drive to overturn the election, and helped set the stage for the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Thanks to them, in the end, the elusive “adults in the room”—those who might have been willing to confront the president or try to control his most destructive tendencies—were silenced or gone. But McEntee was there—bossing around Cabinet secretaries, decapitating the civilian leadership at the Pentagon, and forcing officials high and low to state their allegiance to Trump.

When Trump wasn’t happy with the answers he was getting from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, McEntee set up a rogue legal team. This back-channel operation played a previously unknown role in the effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the vote. Just days before January 6, McEntee sent Pence’s office an absurd memo making the case that Pence would be following Thomas Jefferson’s example if he used his power to declare Trump the winner of the 2020 election.

More than anyone else in the White House, McEntee was Trump’s man through and through—a man who rose to power at precisely the moment when American democracy was falling apart.

Ifirst met johnny McEntee when I visited Trump Tower in 2015, not long after Trump announced he was running for president. McEntee was polite, earnest, and eager to please. He identified himself as Trump’s “trip director” and gave me a tour of the campaign headquarters. (He declined to comment for this story.)

McEntee was one of the first full-time staffers on the campaign, and he went everywhere Trump went. When Trump became president, McEntee had a workspace outside the Oval Office—right against the curved wall. The boss liked having McEntee around. A former quarterback for the University of Connecticut, he was good-looking and tall—but not too tall, about an inch shorter than Trump. During the first 14 months of the Trump presidency, McEntee did what he had done during the campaign: He carried Trump’s bags.

In March 2018, it looked for a moment like his Washington career was over. He was fired by then–Chief of Staff John Kelly after a long-delayed FBI background check revealed that he had deposited suspiciously large sums of money into his bank account. It turned out that the money was from gambling winnings. After Kelly himself was fired, McEntee returned to his old spot outside the Oval. It was January 2020, and he wouldn’t be just a body guy for long.

In mid-February, Trump called his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to a meeting. Ominous signs of the coming pandemic were beginning to emerge. Hundreds of Americans who had been evacuated from Wuhan, China, were in quarantine on military bases. The World Health Organization had just reported a frightening new development—a small number of COVID-19 cases in people who had never traveled to China. But the subject of the meeting wasn’t the virus. It was staffing. Trump, newly acquitted in his first Senate impeachment trial, was looking to make some changes.

“I want to put Johnny in charge of personnel,” the president told Mulvaney.

The director of presidential personnel is responsible for vetting and hiring everybody, including ambassadors, Cabinet secretaries, and top intelligence officials. McEntee had never hired anybody for anything. Now he was going to be in charge of perhaps the most important human-resources department in the world?

Mulvaney called his top deputy, Emma Doyle, who oversaw the current director of personnel, into the meeting. “Mr. President,” she said, “I have never said no to anything you’ve asked me to do, but I am asking you to please reconsider this. I don’t think it is a good idea.”

Doyle had spent a lot of time around the president, but she had never seen him as angry as he was about to become.

“You people never fucking listen to me!” Trump screamed. “You’re going to fucking do what I tell you to do.”

A few hours later, Doyle was on Air Force One, along with McEntee, en route to a Trump rally in New Hampshire. She asked him about his interest in the position.

“People have been telling me I should do that for a long time,” McEntee told her. “I didn’t feel ready before, but I am 29 now and I’m ready.” He added, “I’m the only person around here that’s just here for the president.”

Mcentee told the president exactly what he wanted to hear: that his political problems were caused by people who pretended to support him but were really against him, the secret Never Trumpers right there in his administration. It was time to root out the “deep state.”

McEntee began scouring federal agencies for people who didn’t support all things Trump. Beginning in June 2020—in the middle of both the pandemic and the presidential campaign—the personnel office informed virtually every senior official across the federal government, regardless of how long they had worked in the administration, that they would need to sit down for a job interview.

A president has a right to expect that his political appointees support his policies and will work to carry them out. These are, after all, political appointees. But most of the people McEntee’s team questioned were already devoted to Trump; they were still putting their reputations on the line to work for him three and a half years into his administration. But that wasn’t enough for the loyalty enforcers.

McEntee’s underlings were, for the most part, comically inexperienced. He had staffed his office with very young Trump activists. He had hired his friends, and he had hired young women—as one senior official in the West Wing put it to me, “the most beautiful 21-year-old girls you could find, and guys who would be absolutely no threat to Johnny in going after those girls.”

“It was the Rockettes and the Dungeons & Dragons group,” the official said.

In fact, one McEntee hire was literally a Rockette; she had performed with Radio City Music Hall’s finest in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The only work experience listed on her résumé besides a White House internship was a stint as a dance instructor. McEntee also hired Instagram influencers. Camryn Kinsey, for example, was 20 and still in college when McEntee gave her the title of external-relations director. In an interview with the online publication The Conservateur, she said, “Only in Trump’s America could I go from working in a gym to working in the White House, because that’s the American dream.” (Kinsey went on to work at the pro-Trump One American News Network.)

The interviews with McEntee’s team usually lasted about an hour. They included questions such as “Do you support the policies of the Trump administration and, if so, which ones?” That question was asked of Makan Delrahim, the head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. As the person carrying out the president’s antitrust policies, he found the question strange.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and HUD were asked, “Do you support the president’s plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan?” It was a bizarre question, given that neither official had anything remotely to do with Afghanistan policy.

The DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec was asked, “What are your political inclinations?” A little amused, she responded, “Are you asking if I am Republican?” . . .

Continue reading. The article is astonishing, and I’m going to have to read the book.

Trump created a US equivalent of the Stasi.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2021 at 12:45 pm

The Quiet Scientific Revolution That May Solve Chronic Pain

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The NY Times has a collection of articles on recent findings in the causes and treatment of chronic pain:

a series of articles about how to do this. David Dobbs introduces us to glia, a long-overlooked nerve cell that quietly controls chronic pain from the shadows. Juno DeMelo shares how a 30-year-old book by Dr. John Sarno cured a literal pain in her butt. Kari Cobham explains the importance of curating your own treatment. Sushma Subramania advises on how to find a pain psychologist; Gretchen Reynolds suggests ways to use exercise for relief; and Cameron Walker says even changing the way you talk about your pain can help.

None of this is to say pain is only a creation of the mind. Rather, the latest science shows that there are many powerful tools available to patients to take control of the pain in their lives — and perhaps begin anew.

David Dobbs’s article begins:

Chronic pain is both one of the world’s most costly medical problems, affecting one in every five people, and one of the most mysterious. In the past two decades, however, discoveries about the crucial role played by glia — a set of nervous system cells once thought to be mere supports for neurons — have rewritten chronic pain science.

These findings have given patients and doctors a hard-science explanation that chronic pain previously lacked. By doing so, this emerging science of chronic pain is beginning to influence care — not by creating new treatments, but by legitimizing chronic pain so that doctors take it more seriously.

Although glia are scattered throughout the nervous system and take up almost half its space, they long received far less scientific attention than neurons, which do the majority of signaling in the brain and body. Some types of glia resemble neurons, with roughly starfish-like bodies, while others look like structures built with Erector sets, their long, straight structural parts joined at nodes.

When first discovered in the mid-1800s, glia — from the Greek word for glue — were thought to be just connective tissue holding neurons togetherLater they were rebranded as the nervous system’s janitorial staff, as they were found to feed neurons, clean up their waste and take out their dead. In the 1990s they were likened to secretarial staff when it was discovered they also help neurons communicate. Research over the past 20 years, however, has shown that glia don’t just support and respond to neuronal activity like pain signals — they often direct it, with enormous consequences for chronic pain.

If you’re hearing this for the first time and you’re one of the billion-plus people on Earth who suffer from chronic pain (meaning pain lasting beyond three to six months that has no apparent cause or has become independent of the injury or illness that caused it), you might be tempted to say that your glia are botching their pain-management job.

And you’d be right. For in chronic pain, researchers now believe, glia drive a healthy pain network into a dysregulated state, sending false and destructive pain signals that never end. Pain then becomes not a warning of harm, but a source of it; not a symptom, but, as Stanford pain researcher Elliot Krane puts it, “its own disease.”

The pain system generally works in three distinct stages.

First, when an injury or ailment causes damage — let’s say you just touched a hot pan — long nerve fibers in your finger sense the damage and shoot a pain message toward your brain. In the second stage, those signals enter your spinal column and, in a handoff monitored and sometimes tweaked by nearby glia, jump to other neurons within the spinal cord. Finally, in this alarm system’s third stage, those spinal cord neurons carry the signals to a spot in your cerebral cortex related to your fingertip and create the sensation of burning pain. You curse.

The first part of this alarm system — carrying the pain signal toward the central nervous system — runs largely on a highly efficient autopilot. Its main players are the long pain-sensitive neurons that run from finger to spinal cord and quickly trigger a reflex that makes you jerk back your hand.

In stage two, when these signals approach the brain and spinal cord, however, things get tangly. It is here, at the handoff from peripheral to central nervous system, that a profusion of glia heavily regulate pain signals by, say, amplifying or decreasing their intensity or duration. And it’s here that things can go amiss and trigger chronic pain. As a flood of recent research has shown, chronic pain develops because the glia accelerate the pain system into an endless inflammatory loop that provokes the nerves into generating a perpetual pain alarm.

It’s still not clear exactly how or why this glial mismanagement develops. It can emerge either after an injury or seemingly out of nowhere. Pain from one or even multiple injuries, as in a car wreck, ordinarily lasts days or weeks and then tapers off to nothing. But sometimes the glia’s regulatory system continues the pain signals after the tissue heals. These may even spread to other areas, causing yet more pain.

In theory, identifying glia as chronic pain’s culprits should make it easier to find a solution. Unfortunately it hasn’t, at least not yet. You can’t just knock glia out — they’re too important — and current painkillers don’t help because they target neurons, not glia.

And glia are ludicrously versatile. They transmit information through dozens of communication pathways. “Pretty much every way that neurons communicate,” said Doug Fields, a glia researcher with the National Institutes of Health, “glia also use.” In a kinder world, these pathways would offer targets for drugs or other treatments. But in the dauntingly complex systems in which glia operate, those targets have so far proved fruitless. No treatment has yet made it from bench to bedside.

This shouldn’t surprise us, said Dr. Fields: “Neuroscientists have studied neurons for over a century, but they are playing catch-up with glia.”

David Clark, a Stanford pain researcher and clinician at the Palo Alto Veteran’s Affairs hospital, suspected that part of the problem lies in the pain system’s built-in redundancy. Glia seem to have so many ways to transmit pain signals that even if a treatment blocks one, they promptly find another. Dr. Clark believes that outwitting this vast system of glial regulation may require novel strategies.

“This is not going to offer up a target you can just hit with a drug or a genetic switch. It may require . . .

Read more. And at the link are links to other articles on solving chronic pain.

The sidebar in Dobbs’s article:

Six Tips for Treating Chronic Pain


.
1. Understand it.
For those who experience it in chronic form, pain is its own disease, not just a symptom. Scientists now say it might be caused by specialized nerve cells going haywire.

2. Exercise helps. If you have chronic pain, you can still exercise. And, in many cases, it might just help you reduce feelings of discomfort and raise your pain threshold.

3. Control pain from the source. Although chronic pain is a disease, you have a great deal of power over it and can tap into your mind to start finding relief. One thing that may help? Keeping a diary to vent your feelings.

4. Reframe your thoughts. Experts are finding that pain psychologists can help you change how your brain processes pain.

5. Use helpful descriptive language. Using different metaphors or second languages to talk about your pain can actually change how much you feel it. For example, swearing outright may be more beneficial than using substitute words.

6. Find your team. In an ideal world, doctors would know how to deal with chronic conditions like pain. In this world, you might need to actively track down the care team for you.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2021 at 11:47 am

The US, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia

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Heather Cox Richardson describes how we got here regarding the Ukraine and where “here” is:

Today, in a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. is “concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity,” which it is “monitoring very closely” out of concern that Russia might invade Ukraine again as it did in 2014.

Russia has been building up troops near the border, and Russian leaders have been talking more forcefully about asserting control over Ukraine.

The Biden administration is taking the apparent change in Russia’s posture seriously. It has reached out to European allies apparently to share specific information about Russian activities. “The administration is very, very concerned—this is the most concerned I’ve heard them about Russia in a really, really long time,” one diplomat told Natasha Bertrand, Jim Sciutto, and Kylie Atwood of CNN. “I wouldn’t underestimate this. They’re doing a massive outreach to raise awareness….”

The administration is also trying to deescalate the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Biden sent a team of senior U.S. officials, led by CIA Director William J. Burns, to Russia to meet with officials there. After the meeting, Burns called Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to assure him of U.S. support. The U.S. also made it a point to have Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Dr. Karen Donfried, visit Kyiv “to reaffirm our strategic partnership, the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and cooperation to advance Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration.”

In his own meeting with Ukraine officials today, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan “emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The struggle between the U.S. and Russia about Ukraine’s future is a proxy war between authoritarianism and democracy.

Ukraine was part of the USSR until the USSR fell apart in 1991. After that, Ukraine remained under the sway of the Russian oligarchs who rose to replace the region’s communist leaders, monopolizing formerly publicly held industries as those industries were privatized.

In 2004, a Russian-backed politician, Viktor Yanukovych, appeared to be elected president of Ukraine. But Yanukovych was rumored to have ties to organized crime, and the election was so full of fraud—including the poisoning of a key rival who wanted to break ties with Russia and align Ukraine with Europe—that the government voided the election and called for a do-over. Yanukovych needed a makeover fast, and for that he called on a political consultant with a reputation for making unsavory characters palatable to the media: Paul Manafort, the same man who went on to lead Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

For ten years, from 2004 to 2014, Manafort worked for Yanukovych and his party, trying to make what the U.S. State Department called a party of “mobsters and oligarchs” look legitimate. In 2010, Yanukovych finally won the presidency on a platform of rejecting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), through which Europe and the U.S. joined together to oppose first the USSR, and then the rising threat of Russia. Immediately, Yanukovych turned Ukraine toward Russia. In 2014, after months of popular protests, Ukrainians ousted Yanukovych from power in what is known as the Revolution of Dignity. He fled to Russia.

Shortly after Yanukovych’s ouster, Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimea and annexed it, prompting the United States and the European Union to impose economic sanctions on Russia itself and also on specific Russian businesses and oligarchs, prohibiting them from doing business in U.S. territories. These sanctions have crippled Russia and frozen the assets of key Russian oligarchs, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Desperate to get the sanctions lifted, Putin helped get Trump elected, and American policy swung his way as Trump attacked NATO and the European Union, weakened our ties to our traditional European allies, and threatened to withdraw our support for Ukraine.

Now, though, the Biden administration has renewed support for Ukraine and its move toward stronger ties to NATO and the European Union, while it is also cracking down on the cybercrime that has enhanced Russian power.

So, with Germany’s Angela Merkel finishing up her career, France’s Emmanuel Macron five months out from an election, and Biden trying to deal with an insurrection, it is not a bad time for Putin to test NATO’s resolve and see if it will, indeed, hang together against his expansion.

Horrifically, to destabilize the EU and NATO further, Russia and its ally Belarus are weaponizing migrants.

According to Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who is a specialist on the region, Belarus officials are promising people eager to leave the Middle East that they can move easily from Belarus to Poland or other EU countries. (Belarus is currently running 55 “tourist” flights a week from the Middle East.) Once the migrants arrive in Minsk, officials push them across the borders of neighboring EU countries Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, which try to force them back, creating a humanitarian crisis in what are now freezing conditions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko are well aware that migrants spark right-wing opposition: Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and America’s Donald Trump both took power by inflaming fears of migrants. Lukashenko vowed to “flood the EU with migrants and drugs,” this May after the outcry when he downed a plane crossing Belarusian territory in order to abduct dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

“This is not normal asylum seekers, that seek the protection of Europe fleeing war, dictatorship. These are groups of people that are flown to Minsk, they are put in buses, they are escorted by Belarusian police and special forces, pushed to the border and pushed into the European Union,” European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas told CNN’s Becky Anderson today. “This is not a normal migratory movement. This is a hybrid attack.”

Poland is a NATO country, as are the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and much of this chaos appears to be taking place in a narrow sliver of Poland known as the Suwalki Gap that separates Belarus from the Russian territory of Kaliningrad. Mark Hertling, Commanding General of United States Army Europe and the Seventh Army from March 2011 to November 2012, tweeted that “any misstep by . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, and it’s worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2021 at 9:01 am

Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments for Living in a Healthy Democracy

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Mike Springer has an interesting post at Open Culture on Russell’s rules for liberal democracy. It begins:

Bertrand Russell saw the history of civilization as being shaped by an unfortunate oscillation between two opposing evils: tyranny and anarchy, each of which contain the seed of the other. The best course for steering clear of either one, Russell maintained, is liberalism.

“The doctrine of liberalism is an attempt to escape from this endless oscillation,” writes Russell in A History of Western Philosophy. “The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma [a feature of tyranny], and insuring stability [which anarchy undermines] without involving more restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community.”

The US is currently facing a test of its own liberal democracy (“liberal” here not meaning “lef-wing” but rather in the sense of “liberated”: a democracy of free citizens who freely govern themselves, as distinct from an authoritarian government — tyranny, as in Belarus — or anarchy, the absence of government (though David Graeber has pointed out that anarchy is in fact how many societies have operated, working through consensus with no hierarchical control, which liberal democracies customarily have).

Quoting the column, which quotes Russell:

“… [T]he liberal attitude does not say that you should oppose authority. It says only that you should be free to oppose authority, which is quite a different thing. The essence of the liberal outlook in the intellectual sphere is a belief that unbiased discussion is a useful thing and that men should be free to question anything if they can support their questioning by solid arguments. The opposite view, which is maintained by those who cannot be called liberals, is that the truth is already known, and that to question it is necessarily subversive.”

The column is interesting, and here are Russell’s commandments:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2021 at 8:47 am

Orange motif

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Orange is the theme, there’s a hint of it in the soap’s fragrance, though Mike’s Natural Soaps have very light fragrances. Good lathers, though, and particularly with a fine-bristle synthetic like this 22mm from Maggard Razors.

The Fine Marvel is a solid razor, and here it’s mounted on a UFO handle. Three passes produced a good result, and a splash of Fine’s l’Orange Verte finished the shave on a good note. 

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2021 at 8:19 am

Posted in Shaving

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