Morning Ed: Mindspace {2018.01.25.Th}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    [M6] Envy can be a motivator for good things too, but there are reasons why it’s in the 10 commandments. It’s not that you don’t have something, it’s that “they” do. Seems that there’s some alignment in the folks than envy others and wanting more restrictions on people protecting their stuff (gun control) This does not surprise me.

    I’m more worried about the “dangers of social media”. More and more convinced that it’s very destructive. And it seems to me, in my observations, that women are more “hooked” on it than men.

    [M7] I liked the alternative hypothesis in a comment: “After a few drinks, people say what they think, with less regard for the disapproval of their peers.” God, if only everyone was like that without the booze.

    [M8] While I’m not so sure about this, I can say that, as I’ve gotten older, post divorce, I’ve wanted to tell people that are in my life that I appreciate that they ARE in my life.

    [M9] I’ve said this to many people, especially given NY resolutions on loosing weight, etc. One of the reasons I stay with jujitsu (other than getting the higher belt) is that it burns calories and allows me to indulge. I could loose more weight faster if I didn’t drink or go out and eat sushi, or ice cream, but how much pleasure would I loose doing that?Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    M4: This might be an argument for those that believe fiction is harmful to humans because humans do tend to confuse fiction and reality. I think when the X-Files was on, one professional skeptic was against it because they believe people will think it’s real. We have similar issues with potnogrsphy or romantic comedies or politics.

    M5: It’s kind of funny that New York is the center of neurotic types and open to new experience types. They are kind of opposite each other.

    M6: You need s very authoritarian and hierarchical society where people know their places to really avoid the politics of envy and equality. Even then it doesn’t work. Peasants and slaves can and do rebel. The free market argument that people shouldn’t be envious because wealth is increasing for all doesn’t seem to work. That being said, it’s easier to deal with material or opportunity envy than social envy.

    M9: Overconfidence in willpower might be a necessary illusion for society though. Pretending that people have willpower and can make it are the only way to get through a self-help and improvement regime. People are unwilling to deal with weakness, especially those of other people.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

      It probably doesn’t help that a great deal of modern marketing is geared toward making people envious of others. It’s hard to be content with what you have when so many people are working so hard to make sure you very much aren’t.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Are you sure you are a libertarian and not a communist? 🙂

        This sort of complaint always strikes me as odd. Marketers are supposed to get you to buy things and envy is one of the easiest ways to do it.

        I’ve got a serious of complex and not very useful thoughts about this. Jason K once made a useful observation to me that perhaps Buddhism is the most obvious counterpoint for Capitalism. Much more than Communism or Socialism because Buddhism teaches that desire is the cause of suffering at its most basic.

        There is a certain kind of lefty who wishes that people would realize how little they need. Sometimes this is very hypocritical but often it is very sincere. When someone like Jeremy Corbyn says he spends very little money, I believe him.

        I can see both sides here. On the one hand, desire does cause suffering and we could probably do a lot of good if people were less materialistic. One of the complaints I’ve seen from non-profit workers is how their donors need fancy galas to raise money. The non-profiteers talk about how much good they can do if people would just give money instead of needing to buy a ticket for a fancy dress ball.

        On the other hand, pleasure makes life bearable and the recreation/material industries (booze, clothing, music, video games, art, cars, etc) keep a lot of people employed and fed. Much better than sustenance farming. But it can also be exploitive through sweatshops and long hours (but still better paying and providing than sustenance farming).

        And this is why no one likes squishy liberals.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Communism would be awesome, if it wasn’t for all those communists…

          I don’t object to marketers using envy. It would be nice if they could use something else, but I get it. It would also be nice if everyone else realized that they are being told to be envious. Knowing you are under the influence of an outside actor to feel a certain way doesn’t necessarily make that feeling go away, but it can allow you to temper it.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          “Here is an item that communicates that one is in possession of a positional good!”

          “OH MY GOSH I NEED IT NOW”

          (two years later)

          “Here is that same item that communicates that one is in possession of a positional good!”

          “But everybody has one…”Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to Saul Degraw says:


          Jason K once made a useful observation to me that perhaps Buddhism is the most obvious counterpoint for Capitalism. Much more than Communism or Socialism because Buddhism teaches that desire is the cause of suffering at its most basic.

          I think there’s something to that. There is no world view I have encountered that I find more alien than Buddhism, so that suggests it is more properly a true opposite to my own beliefs than socialism is, which I can readily understand, and even share some end goals with. But Buddhism makes the precise opposite of sense to me.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

      M5: I think they’re more or less orthogonal to each other, both in terms of definiton and in terms of incidence. If you look at the definitions, it’s not hard to think of examples of the intersection. Any number of rock stars fit the bill, for example.Report

  3. Avatar Pinky says:

    M4: There’s a certain temperament I’ve noticed among liberals. It’s very common to read the following comment:
    “You just want to turn the country back to the 1950’s. Not even the real 1950’s, either. You want some Ozzie and Harriet world that never really existed. You know, families never were really like that.”

    I get the sense that many liberals never got over the disappointment of realizing that their families weren’t TV-ideal. It’s been said that one’s ideology is driven by the first thing one rejects.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Pinky says:

      My family was pretty close to the 1950s ideal and I use that argument.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to LeeEsq says:

        May I ask why? It seems like such an odd thing to assert. It would be like me asserting that I know your motivation for supporting a policy better than you do, and that motivation is that you never recovered from your childhood Santa realization. Or I guess that you never had that childhood Santa realization.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Pinky says:

          I’m a Jew, I always knew Santa did not exist. Families like Ozzie and Harriet existed but were much rarer than conservatives think they were. There was a lot of formal and informal coercive social or even government force to create at least the appearance of families like Ozzie and Harriet. The attempts to force everybody in the suburban nuclear mold excluded a lot of people or forced people into conformity that didn’t make them happy. You can’t create families like that through policy either.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Pinky says:

      Eh, I dunno. The main criticism I hear on the conservative longing for Ozzie and Harriet 1950s is that it was only ideal for Ozzie. It pretty much stuck if you weren’t a WASP and male. (Personally, I grew up in the 70s and only ever saw a few old clips of that show, but I wouldn’t have wanted Harriet’s life. No career option but homemaker and that option requires you to dress and look perfect – and wear heels! – to do housework all day? No thank you…)Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

      Isn’t it the conservatives themselves who openly call for a rejection of the 1960’s counterculture, and hearken to the Ozzie and Harriet ideal?

      And speaking for myself (not The Left), I prefer the argument that the left wants to work in the 1950s, while the right wants to go home there.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

      Lee, Chip, and Bookdragon –

      I may have missed the window for making this comment, but I hope you guys see it. I’m not sure you got the point I was making. I wasn’t making any claim about a conservative fixation on an idealized 1950’s. I was making a claim about liberals believing in a conservative fixation on an idealized 1950’s. Whatever their perception is, they believe that “the 1950’s weren’t like they were depicted on TV” is a meaningful response to a comment that didn’t even mention the 1950’s. It’s odd. It even seems like something similar happened on this thread, in your responses.

      The specificity of the target decade also confuses me. It would seem to be due to some childhood imprint (but that’s me questioning other people’s motivation, and I want to be careful about that). I know a lot of conservatives who reject much of the 1960’s counterculture, but also reject the New Deal. I know plenty who reject the morality of the 1960’s, but would rather take the moral code back to the 1350’s over the 1950’s. I’ve known many free-market borderline-anarchists who are fixated on an idealized 2050’s. They are all accused of idealizing the 1950’s.\

      And I guess this is just a specific example of the broader “you can’t turn back the clock” argument. The thing is, you can turn back the clock. It’s pretty easy. And clocks are cyclical, which means you don’t have to turn back the clock to end up back at the time you wanted. Human society is also cyclical – not rhythmic, but cyclical enough that you can count on seeing reversions to the best and worst things you’ve ever witnessed, if you live long enough. But that’s a digression.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

        Sorry, I’m not really clear on what this means:

        I was making a claim about liberals believing in a conservative fixation on an idealized 1950’s.

        It seems a bit meta, like you are making a claim about what liberals claim about what conservatives claim, then I lose the thread.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I can’t un-meta it. It’s a higher-order question. I know how we think; I’m trying to understand what they think about how we think. Roughly speaking, I said “Conservatives don’t think X. Why do liberals think conservatives think X?” and as a response I got three flavors of “Conservatives think X”. And I’m willing to grant all the necessary and reasonable caveats – I can’t speak for all conservatives, fellow readers can’t speak for all liberals, it’s as risky for me to speculate about others’ motivations as it for them to speculate about mine, et cetera.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

            OK, so your question is “why do liberals think conservatives yearn to make things like the 1950s”?Report

          • Avatar Maribou in reply to Pinky says:


            I come at things from a different perspective than many here; but the reason why I think that is that I have personally been told by many older, mostly but not only male, conservatives that the 50s were some variant of “the good old days” and they wish they could return to them. I sometimes do say “ugh, all these old conservative white men want to go back to the 50s,” because, like, the ones I’ve met have TOLD me they do. As well as some Republican or right-of-Republican women of a certain age.

            Believe it or not, between my customer service jobs in southern Colorado, and eastern Canada, and just liking old cranky people, I talk to a lot of older conservatives. I used to play in a band where the median age was 55 or something, and that was 10 years ago… still friends with some of those folks and they’re in their 80s/90s now.

            I will say I don’t think that about “internet Conservatives” – most of the people I’m talking about here don’t even have a Facebook account or email; those that do almost never use them except to look at pictures of the grandkids and forward chain letters. Or occasionally nudge someone to call them. (That sounds terribly stereotypical, I know, but it’s how they are.)

            FWIW, I also tend to generalize that most older male liberals (we’re taking 65-90 here) want to go back to the late 60s-early 70s, as well…

            So basically I just think old people yearn for their so-called glory days, the prime of their lives, fungibly located according to how happy they were culturally. Understandable. I can already catch myself saying to young ‘uns, “You know, back in the 90s we…,” (and have observed several people on here, and people my-own-age-ish in offline life, mythmaking in that way also). Doesn’t mean I really want to go back there, so that probably punches a big hole in my assumptions about conservatives. (But I swear, they weren’t just mythmaking! They literally say they wish things were more like that, that was the good old days, etc.)

            The other way I use it is as shorthand for “the time when people like me learned to pass or suffered violence for it,” … which is really more like 1600-1995 or so… but I actually think only a very small percentage of modern-day conservatives want that and I never say “ugh, conservatives all want to go back to the 50s,” in that sense, but more “what the hell!?!? i’m not going back to the FIFTIES people,” which, as noted, I’m aware is inaccurate and hyperbolic on my part.

            The conservative I know best, Jaybird’s mom, most certainly DOES NOT want to go back to the 50s at all. She thanks her lucky stars about 10 times a year in my hearing (who knows how often all together) that men Jay’s age are NOT like the ones she had to put up with in the 50s-70s, and credits her continued widowhood even after the kids were grown to that problem. That said, she does occasionally complain about the men she knows “wanting everything to be like it was in the 50s,” so I have trouble believing that the belief that older conservative men want that is a liberal trait.

            I can’t speak for those who generalize it further than that subgroup though.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:


            I’d point to rally cries like “We want our country back” and “Make America Great Again” as pretty clear appeals to an America — real or imagined — from the past. When asked to describe what that looks like, it is eerily reminscent of television shows set in the 1950s.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

            Well, I would say that one of the essential features of conservative thought in its high toned idealized version is that there was a Golden Age, from which we have fallen.
            Its there in Burke, or Buckley, or Reagan. It was the Royalists who were alarmed at the discarding of traditional hierarchy in favor of republicanism.

            So it isn’t necessarily the American 1950s; Some contemporary conservatives want to return to a pre-New Deal era, others to a pre-Civil War era.

            But, overall, the modern conservative movement as we know it was kickstarted by Buckley and Goldwater in the 1960s, when they made their bones by opposing the social and economic changes of that time.

            That was when Reagan gained power in the movement, when the big animating issues that we are still fighting over first arose- Civil rights, welfare, sexual mores, war and peace.

            So yeah, if there was a defining point in contemporary conservatism, it was their view of the 1960s as the fall from grace, and by default, the 1950s as the Golden Age.Report

            • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              “Well, I would say that one of the essential features of conservative thought in its high toned idealized version is that there was a Golden Age, from which we have fallen.”

              Not in my experience. Conservatives tend not to idealize any period to the extent that liberals have idealized the 1960’s civil rights and anti-war movements. We don’t have 1950’s reenactments like modern colleges have their microaggression riots.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:

        I was making a claim about liberals believing in a conservative fixation on an idealized 1950’s.

        You’ll get a kick outa this Pinky. From The American Conservative (granted, it’s from 2007):

        If the next conservatism is to reverse this decline and begin to recover the America we knew as recently as the 1950s, the last normal decade, it must do three things.

        The last normal decade dude!Report

  4. Avatar pillsy says:

    From @burt-likko on Twitter yesterday, there’s this article about how delightfully easy it’s becoming to fake video. The basic use case in the article involves replacing the faces of actresses in pornographic videos with well-known celebrities, which is already skin-crawlingly creepy, and I have to say the assessment in the article’s headline seems spot on.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    M7 is a fascinating study. It made me think of John Stuart Mill’s insight into conservative parties.Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Off topic, but apparently Erik Loomis is burnishing his proletarian food preferences.

    Damn, not even free range artisanal pickles, those look straight from the heartland.Report