RSSCategory: American Culture

What do people with at least some money care about?

August 16, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More
What do people with at least some money care about?

What do people with money really care about? I assume that most of the people in airports have some extra money to burn; you generally don’t see poor folks in airports. I also assume that airport magazine shops know what they can most easily sell to people with some money to burn. It’s natural selection in action at airports–the magazines that didn’t sell have been weeded out of our airports.

What do Americans with money care about? They care about the things that loom large on the covers of the magazines you can see in big airports. At a major airport I recently visited, I took six photos to give an idea of all of the types of magazines on display (click the title of this article to see the gallery of photos). In airport magazine shops, you’ll see things such as movie stars, how to make money without much effort, the coolest electronic gadgets, almost naked bodies, romance, status symbols such as luxurious trips, fancy clothes and expensive cars, eating food and talking about dieting, corporate filtered news, how to impress others, and looking young, looking young, looking young . . .

But can you really determine what people think a lot about by looking at the magazines they buy? I think so. This is definitely the sort of thing a Martian anthropologist would do to find out what people with at least some money really cared about.

What don‘t they care about? Everything else. You won’t see magazine covers featuring starving children or homely people. You won’t find magazine covers telling you how to give up your wealth to others in need, how to speak truth to power, and how to hang around criminals, sick people and prostitutes like Jesus supposedly did.

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One out of eight Americans is now on food stamps

August 6, 2010 | By | 8 Replies More
One out of eight Americans is now on food stamps

One out of eight Americans is now on food stamps. Greatest nation on the face of the earth. The world’s only superpower. God bless America. Etc.

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Proposition C in Missouri is Meaningless

August 5, 2010 | By | Reply More
Proposition C in Missouri is Meaningless

Much hoopla and political punditry has been given over to the recent passage of “Proposition C” in Missouri. Proposition C, in effect, says Missouri law will not permit any tax to be levied by the federal government upon its citizens for failure to purchase health insurance. The issue was framed as a direct challenge to the health insurance mandate of the recently passed healthcare reforms.

Many Republicans and their leadership laud the passage of Proposition C as a death knell for healthcare reform in America.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Proposition C received 71.1 % of the votes cast statewide but, reports show that little opposition was mounted to oppose the ballot measure and that only 16.27% of eligible voters turned out and supported Proposition C (667,780 of the state’s 4,104,834 million registered voters).

Voter turnout in normally large vote areas of Kansas City and St. Louis City were 12.78% and 13.56%, respectively. Clay County had 18.27%. Jackson County had 22.34 %. St. Louis County had 20.93%. These counties have 1,605,083 voters and make up 39.1% of Missouri’s eligible voters. Historically, the above counties have supported Democratic candidates and issues. The voter turnout in these counties has frequently provided the differences between victory and defeat in hotly contested state wide elections such as are expected in November 2010. It is simply not the case that the Proposition C vote indicates anything other than a well organized effort to get out the vote by its supporters in traditionally conservative areas of Missouri.

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Capitalism under the microscope

August 3, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Capitalism under the microscope

Annie Leonard has passionately researched and written a book she titles: The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with the Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change (2010).

I haven’t yet finished her book, although I’d like to post on one point she strongly makes early on, a point that is the elephant in the room regarding most discussions of the American way of life. It is a topic not far from the hearts of the many free market fundamentalists out there. The topic is whether it’s time to put capitalism under the microscope. Here’s what Leonard has to say:

[There is no doubt we will reach the planet’s carrying capacity; we’re heading in that direction now…. a big part of the problem we face today is that our dominant economic system values growth as a goal unto itself, above all else. That’s why we use the gross to metric product, or GDP as a standard measure of success….

All right. Are you ready? I’m going to say it: this critique of economic growth is a critique of many aspects of capitalism as it functions in the world today. There. I said the word: “capitalism.” It’s the Economic-System-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.

When writing the film script of The Story of Stuff, my intent was to describe what I saw in my years on the trail of trash, visiting factories and dumps and learning about how things are made, use, and thrown away around the world. I certainly didn’t sit down and figure out how to explain the flaws of capitalism. It was trash, not economics, that was originally on my mind. So at first it took me by surprise that some commentators called the film “an ecological critique of capitalism” or “anti-capitalist.”… it turns out that a hard look at how we make and use and throwaway Stuff reveals some pretty deep problems caused by core functions of a specific economic system called capitalism. There’s no way around it: capitalism, as it currently functions, is just not sustainable….

Yet, in the United States, were still hesitant to broach this unmentionable subject, fearful of being labeled unpatriotic, unrealistic, or insane. Elsewhere in the world, there’s a widespread recognition that some aspects of capitalism aren’t working well for the majority of the world’s people or for the planet; people talk about it openly….

Can we put capitalism on the table and talk about it with the same intellectual rigor that we welcome for other topics? Can we examine the failures of capitalism without falling into generations-old stereotypes and without being accused of being un-American? Refusing to talk about it doesn’t make the problems disappear. I believe the best way to honor our country is to point out when it’s going astray, instead of sitting here silently as many economic, environmental, and social indices worsen. Now would be a good time to start looking at what we could do differently, and what we could do better….

The belief that infinite economic growth is the best strategy for making a better world has become like a secular religion in which all our politicians, economists, and media participate; it is seldom debated, since everyone is supposed to just accept it as true.

Why are so few people willing to challenge, or even critically discuss, an economic model that so clearly isn’t serving the planet and the majority of its people. I think one reason is that the economic model is nearly invisible to us. … [W]e tend to forget that were viewing the world through the paradigm, like it’s a pair of contact lenses…. before we can change a paradigm, we need to identify it as a paradigm rather than assume it is truth.

[Starting at page xviii]

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Do you think that sunscreen really protects you from skin cancer?

July 29, 2010 | By | 5 Replies More
Do you think that sunscreen really protects you from skin cancer?

If you think that sunscreens really protect you from cancer, think again. Read this detailed information from the Environmental Working Group and you’ll be astounded. How can so much false and unsupported information can be freely plastered on bottles of sunscreen? Why isn’t the federal government clamping down on sunscreens? Who do our img_3219representatives represent? Apparently, their greatest loyalty is to companies that make money by misrepresenting their products. Can you believe that sunscreens are not regulated to make sure that they do what they claim to do?

The best approaches to protecting your family: Wear clothes and stay in the shade. Any product that claims protection greater than SPF 50 is misleading. Note that most people put on only a 1/4 to 2/3rds enough sunscreen to actually reach the product’s SPF rating. Check out the oftentimes toxic ingredients at EWG.

Check out EWG’s Hall of Shame.

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On unemployment benefits

July 21, 2010 | By | Reply More
On unemployment benefits

I agree with Dylan Ratigan on at least one aspect of unemployment benefits:

I don’t even agree with the current unemployment program in this country. I believe people should have to volunteer for a non-profit for 10-20 hours a week to qualify for unemployment. However, our vote-loving politicians like to keep their jobs by giving future generation’s money away for nothing in return.

William Black echoes this sentiment.

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Mark Tiedemann wraps up

July 21, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Mark Tiedemann wraps up

Over the past few days, I’ve been publishing sections of an engaging discussion with Mark Tiedemann that I videotaped about a year ago. I only recently got around to cutting the session up into individual videos, but the delay allowed me to enjoy the discussion anew, and it also allowed me to appreciate more than ever that the topics that draw Mark’s attention tend to be relatively timeless. As you can probably see, this discussion was spontaneous. I went to Mark’s house with a video camera and a few general topics scribbled down, no specific agenda. We both allowed the conversation go where it wanted to go.

In these final two videos from last year’s discussion, the topics are VI) The importance of knowing history and VII) Church and State.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Mark as much as I have. If you’d like to know more about Mark’s way of viewing and analyzing the world, he has already posted almost 200 articles at DI, all of them readily available.

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Mark Tiedemann Interview – Parts IV and V

July 19, 2010 | By | Reply More
Mark Tiedemann Interview – Parts IV and V

This is a continuation of my interview of Mark Tiedemann, who is both an established science fiction writer and an author here at Dangerous Intersection.

In the first video in this post, Part IV, Mark discusses science, religion and morality. In the second video in this post, Part V, he discusses sex.

I had an extensive discussion with Mark, and I will actually have one more post featuring video of our conversation. I expect that those will be published tomorrow night.

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Mark Tiedemann speaks

July 18, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Mark Tiedemann speaks

Mark and I have been friends for 20 years. I’ve celebrated his many successes as a science fiction writer, and I was delighted when he showed interest in being one of the authors for Dangerous Intersection. I just checked the stats here, and I see that over the years, Mark has contributed 187 posts to DI. I’ve read every one of them, and I am repeated struck by the fact that there isn’t a “cheap” post among them. They are all well-crafted and carefully considered.

Every one of Mark’s posts is still available at this site. Click on his name on the bottom right corner list of authors to see them. But perhaps you are not in the mood to read substantive posts tonight. If that is the case, you are in luck.

About a year ago, I sat down with Mark at his St. Louis home and videotaped a long conversation with him. We covered many topics, which I am in the process of breaking into individual YouTube videos. I’m including the first three as part of this post. In Part I, Mark discusses his personal goals and the importance of art. In Part II, he discusses reading, heroes and censorship. In Part III, Mark discusses the blogosphere, including his impression of what goes on here at Dangerous Intersection. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Mark through his spoken words, at least as much as you’ve appreciated his written work. Without further ado . . .

I’ll be posting several more Mark Tiedemann videos later this week.

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