Finding horror in your home town, a tale of a member of “The Admitted.”

Being a good poet can lead to great things in North Korea. Jang Jin Sung, a government propagandist and poet, wrote the epic poem Spring Rests on the Gun Barrel of the Lord as part of recurring competitive poetry writing among different North Korean Government departments.

Kim Jong Il (leader of the country) liked the poem and as a result Mr. Jang gained the class status of “The Admitted” which gave him special privileges.

At the time North Korea had a intense famine, partly due to floods and drought, and mostly due to the mismanagement of the Communist leadership.

Jang lived in the capital city of Pyongyang, but found out how bad things were when he visited his home town, 39 miles away.

He tells the story in his book “Dear Leader.”   He got in line for the train. “Queues are the same everywhere in North Korea.”  He explains that all queues have three signs showing the way to lines for Cadres, Military Personnel, and ordinary residents. Jang was returning home in clouds of glory as one of the Admitted, so he went to the Cadres line. People in this queue were offered a separate waiting room, so there was no tedious standing in line for several hours like the other passengers.

(In North Korea, there is no freedom of movement. You can only buy a train ticket by showing an official travel pass. If you travel without such a pass and are discovered, the sentence is three months of hard labor.)

The 39 mile trip took half a day, and then Jang leapt excitedly from his seat.

Mr. Jang recounts:

When we set off to the right of the station square, I wondered if we had taken a wrong turn. This was not the park I remembered, covered with vibrant foliage; there was no sign of the deer or pheasants that used to roam here. Instead of a single pavement running straight through the park, there were many dirt tracks leading in confusing directions….long lines of squatting hawkers in shabby worn clothes, old and young, male and female, tempted travelers with their trinkets.
…The wares optimistically placed on display by grimy hands were not the kind one would expect to pay for. I asked one woman why she was selling an empty insulated flask for twenty won. She replied by saying that if I filled it with hot water, I could hug it during the night to keep warm.
It also bewildered me to see tap water on sale. It cost ten won to wash your face with soap and water, and five to wash with water alone.

This was because not only was there famine, but the water supply had dried up.

…Turning towards the far corners of the park, I could see a swarm of homeless people who looked to be either dead or dying. There was nothing between these men and women and a cold grave but their own shadows, and even those who were still alive were clearly waiting for death.

The horror went on:

Mr. Jang writes:

…When I met Soon-yong from next door—I used to have a crush on her and she was always my play wife in our childhood games of marriage–she had become a disfigured old woman…Myung-chil, once famous for his strength and envied by all the other boys in town, had turned into nothing but skin and bones…When I asked after some neighbors I could not see in the crowd, the matter-of-fact reply was that each one of them had starved to death.

Jang had planned to stay for a few days, but he had seen enough, and decided to cut the trip short. His friend, Young-nam, told him

We live no better than animals….You know how the standard greeting used to be, ‘Have you eaten?’ But now, you can’t say that, because what can you say in response? ‘No. I haven’t and what the fuck can you do about it? Can’t you see? It’s different outside Pyongyang.

Young-nam accompanied Mr. Jang to the train, and on the way they walked through a market. Then a siren went off, which indicated a public execution was about to take place in the market. Young-nam explained to Mr. Jang that there was about one execution a week.

Soldiers rushed in from all directions to surround the square, herding us into the center with the butts of their rifles.

Of the prisoner, Mr. Jang said:

The man’s eyes were full of terror.. For him, this truly was hell on earth, and his fellow men must have seemed as frightening as demons.

The People’s Trial was over in less than five minutes…

The sentence was “Death by firing squad!”

The man riddled with bullets for stealing rice had been a starving farmer.

 

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Jang Jin-Sung

 

It has always been surprising to me (the blogger) that Communism, which says it is for “the people”, and against “exploitation”, keeps producing societies where such horrors occur. What’s the point of being for “the people”, if in practice, you torment the people?.

A commenter on this blog told me that Communism is not at all similar to the leftist movements in countries of the West, because the Western movements are democratic. But there are similarities, in my view, because the leftist Western movements want nationalization of some sectors of the economy (such as health care, and now in the U.K, the banks), and are in general in favor of much government intervention in the economy to create more equality.

The North Korean government admits no fault and presents itself as on the moral high ground.

Our left constantly claims to be on the moral high ground  too by championing one group of victims after another. As one ridiculous example, the children’s book’s by  “Dr. Seuss”, is now accused of being racist. This all seems very fake to me.
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A friend of my mother’s tells of being in a hospital waiting room in New York, with some other people, and the form they had to fill out was asking which pronoun they would like to be referred to (along with he and she, you now have Ze, Zis and other transgendered pronouns). The lady sitting nearby, who was black, systematically crossed out all these questions and described them as “bullshit”. But you can see why the hospital asked those questions, when you learn that New York City Commission on Human Rights imposes a $250,000 fine on people who keep calling other people by pronouns that the other people don’t accept.

about_insidecchr

You wonder at this great compassion by the people who have the levers of power – at least they have the power to impose such fines.  They must care deeply about men who think they are women trapped in men’s bodies, or women who think they are men trapped in women’s bodies, and so compassionately, they stop all possible hurting of feelings of such people.

As that black lady said, this sounds like BS.   In my view, the members of the HRC should get real jobs, and I doubt they are  particularly compassionate.

You also wonder at the population of New York City, who elect a admirer (or at least former admirer) of Nicaraguan Socialism to be their mayor. (see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/23/nyregion/a-mayoral-hopeful-now-de-blasio-was-once-a-young-leftist.html )

Some day in the not too distant future a North Korean nuclear missile will be able to hit New York, mayor and all.  They may not fire it, but the capability will make them invulnerable to retaliation by us for anything that they do, such as perhaps invading South Korea.

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Source:
Dear Leader – Jang Jin Sung (2014)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korean_famine
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jang_Jin-sung
http://nypost.com/2016/05/19/city-issues-new-guidelines-on-transgender-pronouns/

 

north-korea-hero-1-1111
Not all is dreary in North Korea:

 

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Dysfunctional in Syria

Wafa Sultan was brought up in the Muslim country of Syria, before it fell apart, and came to the USA. She pulls no punches about the culture she lived in..

When she was a medical student in the town of Aleppo, she boarded with a family. She said that:

From my room, I would often hear the mother of the family shouting, “Wafa, I need your help—come here and be my witness,” and I would find her elder son [all of 5 years old] threatening his mother and telling her that, if she didn’t do what he wanted, he would tell his father that she had spoken to a man on the phone, opened the door to someone, or left the house.

(In some Muslim cultures, the honor of a woman who talks to a strange man is suspect.)

When Wafa was a fourth-year medical student, she writes that

at the bus stop one day near the hospital where I was doing my training, I saw two small boys aged about six and eight. Each boy had a small bird in his hand and was plucking out its feathers. The birds were cheeping with pain and struggling to escape. The sight upset me and I went over to the boys and said gently, “Boys, you mustn’t do that. Please stop it.” The elder boy fixed me with a piercing stare that seemed to penetrate every cell of my body and said vehemently, “There’s nothing wrong with plucking a bird. What is wrong is that a woman like you should be walking around off the leash in mixed company with a head covering. Go and bury yourself at home!

Wafa points out how strange that is.

As far as that boy is concerned, a woman who walks down the street without a head covering is no more worthy of respect than a dog found wandering off the leash.

A real horror story happened after Wafa became a doctor and got a job:

In the Syrian hospital where Wafa worked, there was another female doctor. She was named Amal. One night Amal was rushed to the eye department after suffering chemical burns on the eyes and face. She had wanted to leave the house to go to a friend’s wedding. Her brother, who was fifteen years younger than she was, and had not even graduated high school, warned her not to leave the house. When she tried to push him away, he poured a fuel bucket over her head.

She complained to Wafa

All my scientific and educational accomplishments are not enough to give me the credibility to run my own life, and my brother, who doesn’t know how to write his own name, is considered better equipped to look after me than I am myself.

Burns sound bad, but murder of women also occurred:
Since Wafa was a female doctor, she heard stories that a male doctor would not have learned of. She tells of rape victims who, if they became pregnant, were murdered to keep the scandal hidden. Some victims were deliberately poisoned with the pesticides that were used to spray the apple trees in that region famous for its apple production.

wafa-cover1

When Wafa came to the U.S. she first worked as a gas station attendant. She said she got more respect in that job than she did as a doctor in Syria.

Syria was not as bad as some cultures, such as that imposed by the Taliban.  At least in Syria a woman could become a doctor.   Syria had a dysfunctional culture, but we could guess that when Middle Easterners came to the U.S. they would embrace the relative freedom here.

But not always:

I used to get involved in word battles with some of my expatriate Muslim friends here, especially over their attitude toward Americans and American culture, and would find myself surprised by their terrifying opinions, which revealed enough resentment to destroy not only the towers of the World Trade Center, but the whole of America. But should one of my American acquaintances happen along while I was in the company of that same resentful person–in a fraction of a second he would become more American than Abraham Lincoln.

Wafa asked another Muslim friend why she didn’t sort her trash into recycle bins, instead of throwing it all into one garbage can. The reply was:

God curse them! Do you expect me to help them look after their environment? Don’t you know what they did in the first and second Gulf War? They poisoned our country’s environment with their waste. Have you heard about the prostitutes with AIDS whom Israel sends to Jordan and Egypt so as to spread AIDS in our countries?

Wafa says that “We imbibed with our mother’s milk hatred for the Jews and for anyone who supported their cause.”  This carried over to America:

One day my husband came home from work complaining of his bad luck. He had sold his car to a client who had given him a check for five hundred dollars. Only after he had accepted the check had he discovered that this client was Jewish, and now he told me he thought that the check would probably bounce. But this was not the end of the story, as I discovered the next day that I had washed my husband’s shirt with the check in the pocket by mistake, and that nothing remained of the money except a few scraps of paper. My husband called the [Jewish] purchaser the following day and told him what had happened. Within less than half an hour he arrived at my husband’s place of work and gave him five hundred dollars in cash, saying jokingly, “Man! Don’t trust your wife! Next time I won’t be able to replace the money.

I don’t know any Muslims personally, but my superficial experiences have been mixed.  I’ve met some who were genuinely friendly, and I’ve met two who gave me the look that I interpreted as: “this is an enemy!”.   That last might sound crazy, but some of the cultures they come from are out of touch with reality.     Not that all of us Americans are in touch with reality either.

 

Sources:

A God Who Hates – Wafa Sultan. (2009)

 

 

Not quite Elvis

I was once compared with Elvis, by a mother to her child in Irvington.

So lets see what Elvis accomplished:

He starred in 33 successful films. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. Without any of the special privileges, his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Army.

Lets see what I accomplished:

I starred unwittingly in one truly awful film.

Now quite a few people didn’t get the reason for my supposed Elvis effect. I’ve been described as having a “coon head”, a “dog face”, and one woman puzzled to another about it, then indicating my bloated nose, and saying “and not only that, but that NOSE!”
I’ve been confronted by one woman saying to the other that I must attract older, lonely single women.

My favorite response though was from a woman of the subcontinent (India or Pakistan) several years ago. After being told who I was, she looked at me and said “America is on the way down!”

But at least she gave me a smile afterwards.

I will say this though. I don’t feel enthusiasm. But I do sometimes see people look at me with admiration, even enthusiasm. Maybe they are mistaken, but the intention is good, and they have a lot of heart. Personally, I feel like an empty suit.

Anyway, here is the real Elvis:

The boomerang effect

gallery20range20boomerangs201Here are three examples of the boomerang effect.  By that I mean an effort to attack an enemy works in the short term, but is disastrous in the long term:
1)
When Russia and Germany were fighting in World War I, the Germans had the idea of sending revolutionaries of every stripe, including the Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin, into Germany. Lenin was against Russia’s participation in the war, and his attitude was mirrored in the anthem “The Internationale”:

The kings intoxicate us with gunsmoke,
Peace between ourselves, war on the tyrants.
…If they insist, these cannibals, on making us into heroes,
They’ll know soon enough that our bullets are for our own generals!

A new book on the Russian Revolution by Sean McMeekin has a section on how the Germans subsidized Lenin, after he got to Russia. Lenin was just one of a flood of discontented humanity pouring into Russia with the aid of Germany. But he had an ideology, and his party had the equivalent of a billion of today’s dollars from Germany. He moved into one of the grandest residences in St. Petersburg, and his Bolsheviks could print propaganda in unlimited quantities. Their daily print run to soldiers reached six figures.

ce6c0b463c99e1f5d7e46a3c0f47aea3-vladimir-lenin-propaganda-art

The strategy worked. The Bolsheviks took control of Russia, and stopped the war with Germany.

However, once in power, the Communists killed vast numbers of people, and tried to convert other countries to Bolshevism, giving aid to Marxist parties worldwide. Eventually this would lead to the partition of Germany after World War II, with many Germans living under Communism for 51 years. And the adverse consequences may not be over yet.

2)
Japan occupied much of China during World War II, and one of the results of the war that it started was that the moderate Chinese forces fighting Japan were fighting both Mao’s Communist revolutionaries and Japan. The Communists of course eventually won that civil war, and one result today is the militarization of the South and East China seas, and another is that North Korean missiles fly over Japan periodically.

wwii-japanese-soldiers
Japanese soldiers in WWII

3)
While Jimmy Carter was president, the USSR invaded their southern neighbor, Afghanistan. This was despite the fact that Afghanistan at the time was ruled by Marxists. America armed Afghans to get the Russians out. One reason this effort boomeranged on the Americans may have been that :

The program [of arming the Afghan fighters] leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups that were favored by the regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in neighboring Pakistan, rather than other, less ideological Afghan resistance groups that had also been fighting the Marxist-oriented Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regime since before the Soviet intervention.

The Russians did leave, but Afghanistan relapsed into warlordism. Then Islamic militants armed with American weapons took over the country and the country became an university for Jihadists. Eventually some of those Jihadists attacked America, and America got into a war with them.

We could speculate that Russian aid to the Jihad-minded rulers of Iran, and its arm supplies to the Taliban today, could boomerang on the Russians too, someday, since the examples show that if you help fighters imbued with a revolutionary ideology, they may leave you alone while they achieve more pressing short term goals, but when the smoke dies down they can then be in a position to turn their attention to you.

I suppose that it is possible that the Taliban would have taken over Afghanistan even if the Americans had supported more moderate groups, and it is possible that the Chinese Communists would have won even without the Japanese war tying up their rivals, and it is possible that the Bolsheviks would have taken over Russia without German help. Life is not a controlled experiment. Still, the moral of the story is valid.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/13/magazine/blowback-from-the-afghan-battlefield.html
The Russian Revolution – Seen McMeekin (2017)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

 

 

 

The destruction of Gideon

In our society people often try to cure themselves. A obvious example are people who go on diets to cure obesity. Some such people are clueless about biology, such as a woman I knew who had subsisted on only popcorn and ice-cream for a long period of time as a teen. Years later she joined a bike trip that I was on, (we were riding with a group from Portland along the Columbia River Gorge to the Pacific, and then south to Eugene, OR, and then inland across the Cascades and the Rockies). At the time, the bike leader was impatient at me for my own dietary quirks, but this young woman explained to him “where I was coming from” based on where she had been coming from. She could not cycle well, and she said the reason was the damage she did to herself with the diet all those months or years.
As another example of self-cure, my parents knew a physicist who lived in the hills outside Boulder, who was a smart man who wrote a clear and well-reasoned science newsletter, but when he contracted an incurable cancer, he tried a pseudo-scientific cure that some charlatan was marketing. I guess it didn’t make much difference that he tried it, since there was nothing that could have saved him, and you could argue that trying dubious and random cures is a good strategy if you have nothing to lose.
Unfortunately, there are cases of people who for health reasons do very self-destructive things. And they sometimes involve their kids in their health-regimens, which can result in tragedy for their kids.

There are weight lifters who take steroids, though steroids can damage their liver, as well as change their appearance in general for the worse. Weightlifters often take protein supplements too, which in the case of people who already have kidney problems, can kill them (at least in one case that I read see ‘sources’ below).

Part of the reason for the attempts at self-cure is that while you can lead a healthy life in an affluent society where food, junk or otherwise, is always available, and where sedentary recreation and sedentary occupations are common, it takes knowledge and priorities and some will-power to lead a healthy life.

I too fell for pseudo-science several times, and I’ll explain why here.

As a teen, I was under a furnace of stress. I also overate constantly. It was common for me to devour several boxes of heavy cakes, plus all sorts of other food, and that was just as a snack. Looking at me now, you would not think this could have happened, since I’m frail and skinny and short. But its true.

One day, sitting in the library, I came across a diet-book that claimed if I changed the balance of my diet to mostly protein, I would get my body into a state called ketosis, which would peel off the pounds. So here I was, lonely, overly well padded, hugely stressed, at the mercy of out-of-control urges (food, sex, etc), and I was grasping for salvation. The diet book seemed to be my salvation, which was illogical, since being over-weight was only one of my problems. As I read it, goose bumps rose all over me. Probably the same thing happens to a leftist idealist when he first reads Marx.

I latched onto that diet like a fanatic. I ate nothing but meat, fish, and fat. I tried to convince myself that I felt better, but frankly, I felt awful. The weight did peel away, however. Fat disappeared. Muscle disappeared.

So that was my first pseudo-science mistake.

As an excuse, you might say that books like the diet book I found are convincing because they are coherent universes in themselves. It doesn’t occur to a teen to read counter-arguments, or get familiar with the literature, or see the alternatives. I would think that high-schools should incorporate into health class some sensible advice on treating obesity, since such a large fraction of American young people are overweight.

Interestingly, I recently read the hypothalamus can be damaged by too many nutrients in the blood stream, and then you get a higher set point for satiety so you get even more overweightsee sources. And the hypothalamus also affects reproductionsee sources, so you could speculate that a diseased hypothalamus could lead to undesirable behavior there. And various other things get out of whack, such as insulin sensitivity etc.

Whatever was going on in my body at that time, I felt like a simmering cauldron of sickness, stress, shame, etc. And this might seem odd. I lived in a safe suburb, with no enemies hunting me with a machete, plenty to eat, enough sleep, a nice set of parents and brothers. So why should I be on this course of self-demolition?

And then, something really interesting happened. I’ve gone into the story (or at least aspects of it) several times on this blog. So I’ll skip all the details, except to say that I was in a sleaze scandal, and then attacked by a Mafia. The first drug they used was a drug that amplified sexual urges.

I did not of course know there was a Mafia, when the ‘feelings’ started, but I knew I did not want those feelings, and I went to various doctors, a psychiatrist, and had a quick talk with an endocrinologist. The psychiatrist, unfortunately, tried to treat me as if I had a fungal infection. He gave me a drug named ‘diflucan’ , and I doubled the dosage, so anxious was I to be rid of the sexual dreams, sexual urges, and so forth. It is not a good idea to take drugs like this, and especially not good to double the recommended dosage. It may be the reason that a doctor told me that I had a damaged liver, about a year after that.

So that was pseudo-science response number 2.

I should say that the idea of a Mafia that wastes its time persecuting some non-entity like me sounds completely insane, and I know it sounds completely insane. But it happened.

My parents had put me in a mental hospital when I first told them that I was – in a word ‘notorious’. They also told the psychiatrist that I was an “anorexic” (this anorexia was also a misdiagnosis, as a doctor who examined me at Mt. Sinai told me). But anyway, there I was in this hospital, forced to take dietary supplement shakes, as well as regular meals, and prevented from even walking up and down the hallway of the ward – because I obviously had to be fattened up.

Talk about pseudo-science!

I got out of the ward, after two months, by phoning a relative of mine who was a psychiatrist outside Boston. He knew me from a few years that I had spent there, and he said “You don’t belong in a mental hospital, I’ll get you out.”
and he did.

And the sky did not fall afterwards.

One of the poisons that the Mafia used on me had an extreme constipating effect, and also made blood run out of my intestines. When they hit me with the stuff, it was very unpleasant, very distinctive, and like clockwork, the blood would come out later. But I also had hemorrhoids, which in severe cases can also fill your toilet bowl with blood. For various reasons, I believe it was an interaction between the two, and I adapted by wearing diapers.

I also would not drink out of cartons of milk – I asked my parents to buy cans of milk instead.

The Mafia started poisoning my clothing, and I tried to adapt by wearing plastic bags under my pants (this did not work too well), wearing pants inside out (this did work, but had obvious drawbacks when I was in public), or buying new pants (this worked too).

They poured gas with pronounced biological effects in my bedroom. I became a bath of chemicals. Nasty chemicals.

I had been somewhat good-looking, but whatever handsomeness I had had mostly disappeared after year one of this treatment.

Now what can we conclude from all this, apart from my being totally psychotic?

Lets assume I’m not psychotic, and see where we get. First of all, if I’m not a mental case, then I was in a situation where the various professionals mis-diagnosed the situation. It was a new type of situation – not one that law-enforcement or the medical or psychiatric profession had ever had to handle. I was on my own, and I tried to cope on my own, sometimes with pseudo-science.

Despite the fact that I’m a person who has fallen for false remedies, and a person with a penchant for jumping to conclusions, I was the real beacon of sanity ultimately.

My advice, based on all these experiences, is that if you have a child or teen who is under huge stress in school, remove him from school. If you are under huge stress in your job, you should consider leaving your job. If you have urges that control you, as opposed to controlling them, get what help that can be had. Many Americans today are slaves to opiates that were foolishly prescribed to them, and some die because their willpower is not strong enough to offset the addiction. If shame is what keeps you from getting help, overcome the shame.

In general, if you live in a society that has everything, you have dangers that don’t occur in a society that is deprived. Even the smart-phone, with its undeniable benefits, has killed people who text while they drive, for instance. Some people say that it has reduced face-to-face social interactions as well, and contributed to the increasing incidence of mental problems in the younger generation now entering college.

Taking the problems of modernity to an extreme, I should mention that you can be ‘gaslighted’. ‘Gaslighting’ normally means that someone creates a world for you that makes you conclude you are insane, but I’m inventing a new meaning for it as follows: If you get some source of information entirely by electronic means, whether phone, texting, emails, then your world can be hacked. I think this is what happened to an acquaintance of mine named Gail, a woman who thought she was communicating with me. Remember, I claim the “Mafia” had assigned people who could get into my house, who knew in general what my plans were, where I would travel, and so forth. This allowed them to impersonate me in the virtual world. Gail was deceived, because she did not step out of the virtual world.

gaslighted-at-iep-meetings

Even if you dismiss my speculation here, you can read of cases such as a young man who interviewed for a job, got an acceptance email, but never saw it, because his “girlfriend” deleted the email on purpose. The truth only came out because the company had liked him so much that it contacted him asking how he could have rejected their offer. This young man’s girlfriend had hoped that she was cutting off his link to reality.

A cousin of mine one quoted at me “It is better to be silent, and thought a fool, then to speak, and remove all doubt.”. You could change that to “being thought insane”. Nonetheless, that’s my choice here, I’ve chosen to speak, and if you believe the story, you have learned something worth learning.

Sources:

  1. The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat – February 7, 2017 by Stephan J. Guyenet Ph.D. (Author)

    After reading this book, I sent the following question to the author:

    1. If the hypothalamus is somehow damaged by too much food (presumably circulating in the blood), why aren’t other parts of the brain also damaged? Is there some particular receptor in the hypothalamus that gets overwhelmed?


    2. The hypothalamus has other functions apart from generating hunger. Is there any evidence that those functions are impaired in people with inflammation of the hypothalamus?

    He replied as follows:

    Hi Gideon,
    1. I don’t know the answer and I don’t think anyone does, but there is an obvious possibility that comes to mind. Parts of the hypothalamus (the parts that get inflamed) have a leaky blood-brain barrier, presumably because the hypothalamus is designed to sense the metabolic state of the rest of the body. So anything that’s circulating in the bloodstream can impact the hypothalamus more than other parts of the brain, e.g. if a person overeats and experiences excessive circulating levels of nutrients.

    2. Good question. The hypothalamus regulates many things, and many are linked to energy status. Four of them that are altered in obesity are blood glucose regulation, sexual maturity onset, reproductive function, and blood pressure regulation. There is some evidence that the neuronal changes that accompany obesity can contribute to poor blood glucose regulation. Sexual maturity onset is linked with leptin levels and this probably explains why puberty onset has been getting earlier lately as the population has been gaining fat, although that doesn’t seem like a case of dysfunction. …. There is evidence that obesity-related hypertension is caused by excess leptin acting in the hypothalamus, so that could be an indirect effect of hypothalamic inflammation (hypothalamic inflammation -> leptin resistance -> fat gain -> high leptin -> hypertension).

  2. http://people.com/bodies/bodybuilding-mom-dies-protein-overdose/
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201402/chronic-stress-can-damage-brain-structure-and-connectivity

Getting Causal Reasoning right

If you go through the comment sections of both conservative and liberal websites, you can learn something about bad and good causal reasoning.

By “causal” I mean arguments as to why something is the case.

A causal argument might be – “Global Warming is caused by human activity that  releases Greenhouse Gasses”.

I didn’t want to examine that debate, because it requires a lot of reading.   It might seem simple – in fact I just watched a two minute video that shows that the sun did not increase its output during the period of warming and that also claims  that the supposed pause in Global Warming never happened.   However, I also read that Judith Curry, (https://judithcurry.com/) a respected climatologist, says that the evidence that the “pause” didn’t happen is weak.

So rather than get into that tennis game, I thought I’d stick with something that everyone has an opinion on, or feels entitled to have an opinion on.   My goal was just to see how people come up with causes, and whether their reasoning makes sense.

I started with this Washington Post article: “Why are so many white men so angry?”  by Steven M. Gillon.    Now on that topic, all sorts of people would feel qualified to weigh in.  (I find the whole debate kind of dumb, and the whole ‘identity’ conflict very boring.  But here goes)

The reasons Mr. Gillon comes up for anger are these:

  1. White Men had a hierarchy that favored them at the expense of other groups. Then, minorities, women and immigrants began to challenge them.
  2. White men did not understand that the political changes of more rights for others were fair, and thought they were being assaulted.

This seem to me to be going off the path, and I wondered if Mr. Gillon actually talked to a few angry white men to ask them why they were so ferocious?

To some extent he does rely on asking questions, since he does quote polls, as follows:

Polls show that more than any other demographic group, non-college educated whites feel abandoned by the government, fearful that their children’s lives will be worse than their own, resentful of immigrants and convinced that the nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity will push them to the margins of society.

Under Gillon’s article, there were hundreds of comments by readers.

A woman commenter wrote:

What feels like punishment to white men feels like a baby step towards equity to the rest of us. So until they can wake up and realize they are NOT the victims here this will continue. Because the rest of us are not going to crawl back under our rocks or into the kitchens.

Another lamented:

As we know, perception is everything. Why does it have to be a zero-sum game?

A defender of angry white males says that:

The majority of individual white males don’t feel privileged and, measured objectively, probably are not. Yet the message to white males today, as a group, is that they are singularly responsible for inequality, discrimination and, of late, bad hair. In this role they truly are “somehow special”.

Another defender says sarcastically:

I thought for sure calling them racists for eight straight years and making them buy health insurance would mellow the white guys out.

A liberal commenter blames the Republicans:

The Republicans chose to let Americans suffer as they’ve always done to game the system for greed of power and money all the while telling their followers “it’s the fault of the blacks and the browns and at least you’re better off because you’re white….

Another liberal also sees the problem as white males diverted from the real villains:

The article is one big lie. Reagan and his pals looted the economy and then told white males that it was minorities who took away their good American prosperity. And now Trump is continuing in this grand tradition. Are white men smart enough to see through the ruse? The one percent is betting that they’re not.

Then there is a commenter who believes that people don’t feel they can advance, because there are not enough good jobs.  And why are there not enough good jobs?  Because, he says,

the government has put too many practices in place that support large corporations and the already wealthy.

Another commenter seconds this:

They need to address the REAL culprits for their grievances, which starts with CORPORATE AMERICA, crooked politicians being bought via lobbyists, being educated in the American political system, a MUST!

Another sees the poor whites voting for rich whites:

I’m an African American and I agree with much of what the author suggests. It’s always been my observation that working class white folks have a lot more in common with the typical black person than with the rich white people for whom they tend to vote. That being said, it is really difficult to be an ally to someone who hates you because of the color of your skin, and who feels himself to be superior.

An anti-Capitalist claims that:

It has always been the policy of those that owned the businesses, factories, and other workplaces to foster division among workers to deny them a voice. Whether the division is between whites and blacks, men and women, natives and newcomers, the bosses’ goal is the same. The more workers fight each other, the cheaper thy work.

Another blames immigration, though he seems to have no particular animosity to individual immigrants.  He writes:

In the last 47 years, since 1970, the proportion of immigrants in the country has gone from 5% to 15%. This has had a huge impact. It is much harder for Americans to get jobs in America. The rents are higher. There is competition for university spaces. We BADLY need a time-out on legal immigration (1 million per year) and we need to end illegal immigration period. We need to end the work visas (H-1B, L-1, J-1, B-1, O-1, B-2) which steal good jobs. People who have jobs don’t riot.

While the word ‘snowflakes’ is usually used to describe the fragility of students who can’t handle opposing viewpoints, a commenter turns it on the angry white guys:

If these poor, disrespected snowflakes would concentrate more on treating all equally and with respect and quit whining about how they can’t be lord of the manor anymore, we’d all be better off. And the poor dears could also improve their lot through education and training, hard work, and discipline. Bootstraps, chumps!

A respondent tries to mellow that description:

Well only some were lords of the manor. Others were knights, retainers, game-keepers and even farmers. Some white men got a bad deal when they were killed or injured in wars and evicted from lands they rented.

A final economic comment and I’ll quit (there were hundreds of comments):

Totally off the mark. It’s the economy, stupid. Immigrants and minorities have always been scapegoated whenever the economy tanks, here in the US or anywhere else. If the 1% have not been so voracious and sold out our country for short term gains by transferring its investments abroad an sowing divisions and hatred in our society, things would have been a lot better…I mean look at who is financing Breibarts and all the right wing radios, billionaires such as the Mercers, Adelsons…

Now what can we learn from this very small slice of an argument on causes for a phenomenon?  First of all, we have to ask “which angry white men?”   Gillon mentions the white supremacists in Charlottesville.   They are one group of angry white men, and they have a race-based ideology. .  But there are other white men with varying worldviews.   But lets assume we are talking about “Trump voters” who are populist.   We  still have a problem, because many of them originally voted for Obama.   So lets narrow it down to white disadvantaged voters who did not ever vote for Obama.   You can see from the above viewpoints that there are all sorts of causal explanations offered, and some of the causal explanations depend on yet other causes (why are there less well-paying blue-collar jobs), for instance.

If you go to a conservative site, you might get other explanations.   The poor economy might be blamed on high taxation and over-regulation, for instance, instead of greedy Republicans serving their corporate masters.

I have never seen any article on the conservative right saying “we got to put women back in the kitchen because they stole our jobs.”

The right is not a lockstep movement – There is a big divide on several issues – free trade and its limits, for example.

I did talk to a few unhappy white folks over the years.

One time I was in a bus in Phoenix, and got to talking with a young white man.   He told me he lived in an area that used to be mostly gringo (i.e. non-Latino), and became all Mexican – except for his family.   He told me that you better not leave a door open there, because of the Mexican gangs that come into your house to see what you’ve got.   He said there were other parts of Phoenix that were ‘safe’ –”for now”.   Another person lamented the new problems of Eastern Colorado – he said there was more crime now.

Another man told me he invested a lot in his house in New Haven (Connecticut), until he had to move out to another shoreline town from which he commuted, because of the crime.

Another told me he could not live in New Haven, because of the poor schooling his child would get.

And that is important.   A big perception of minorities is “crime”.  In the case of Muslims, the perception is “terrorism”.   And I’m sure both Muslims and minorities are aware of these perceptions.

Consider this story that I saw yesterday, while searching for something else.

A father, daughter and family dog were returning from an outing at Fairmount Park’s Lemon Hill. As the father, Mr. Grandzol finished parking near his home along the 1500 block of Melon Street, two men dressed in black held him up at gunpoint.

He handed over his wallet and then the suspects tried to steal his SUV, but his two-year-old daughter was inside so he wouldn’t let them. That’s when the younger of the two suspects, a 16 year old, shot him twice in the face.  He died in front of his three year old.  I saw a later video where the police said that he had told the two black attackers that his child was in the car.

Now, we can wonder if the children of this murdered father are going to grow up hating black people.   They may, or they may not.  It would be wrong if they did, but not-totally mysterious.

gerard-grandzol-murdered
Gerard Gradzol and his family

melon-st-shooting

dixon-147806-f-wp-content-uploads-2017-09-grandzol09-a-2-1200x800But the entire article by Gillon, plus the comments, miss any discussion of crime.

A former social-justice radical, Keri Smith, says this:

“ I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.

She adds:

I was in the cult. Part of it is that you are a true believer, and part of it is that you are fearful of being called an apostate–in being trashed as a sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, fascist, white supremacist nazi. A friend recently wrote to me privately to say they find my latest posts “refreshing,” and that they believe in free speech, but as someone who works in entertainment, they can’t say anything that might cause them to lose their job

There are ways to test causes.   For instance, if someone tells you that A causes B, you could look for cases where A is present, but B is absent.   For instance, a liberal named Russell Brand tried to explain the actions of one British citizen:  “Jihad John” who ended up in the Middle East, executing enemies of Islamic State.  Brand came up with causes such as that “Jihad John” must have been alienated by bad treatment in England, plus affected by the housing and financial collapse, and so forth.   A respondent to this (a professor by the name of Gad Saad, who hails from Lebanon) pointed out that the world is full of people who were affected by the financial crisis, but didn’t head over to Islamic State to cut off the heads of strangers.  Gad Saad also pointed out that if you are lonely, and need to join something, there are many organizations you can join that don’t cut off people’s heads.  So ‘A’ is present, but ‘B’ does not happen.

People with ideological theories of the world can understand varied causes, but will often come up with causes that fit their world view.   If you are a racist, for instance, you may believe that all or most of your countries problems would be solved if the minorities packed up and left.   If you are an anti-Capitalist, you might believe that most of terrorism and violence is due to ‘income-inequality’.   There is a saying that “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

It is always good to test your ‘causes.’.   As one last example from my own life, I was taking a train north from New York city, back to my home in the suburbs.  At 125’th Street, a woman came aboard, and stood for a moment next to my seat.   I looked at her face, which had a kind of noble quality to it, and I wondered if she was the woman who figured so prominently in my book “Clues”.   Then I said to myself, “this is impossible.”.

I had been babysitting my brother’s kids that day in the city, and I had a major headache that had started the previous night, and just got worse over the day.  So I tried drowsing off.  The woman had sat next to me, and she was reading a large book.  There were two unusual aspects of this to begin with.   People don’t read big books in the train.   Secondly, when there is room in the train, people spread out, they don’t sit next to me.   I thought of starting a conversation about her reading, but then thought to myself “You are a lousy conversationalist, go back to sleep.”   So I tried to sleep, but I could not.  We got close to Irvington, and I got up, and looked at her, and at the young black man behind our seat.   Her hair was covering her eyes.   The door opened, and I got out and left.

From various pieces of information that came my way afterwards, plus pondering the situation, I now believe that the woman was indeed the same woman as in the book “Clues”.

So what should she have done differently?

As we approached Irvington, she could have hit me with her big book, and said the following:; “Hey dude, you wrote a whole book in which I am a big force, and now you won’t even look at me?  What’s your problem? “

That would have been a “causal test”.

At that point, I would have said “Listen lady, I have  white male (albeit Jewish)  privilege, and I just hate women.   Go bake some cookies!”

Seriously though, I would have responded something like this: “Gail – there really is a Mafia, and I’m sorry about what happened, I didn’t give you the silent-treatment, I happen to have been poisoned last night by this Mafia, they are everywhere, they are invincible, and no matter how incriminating all the events in Boston may have seemed,  they were innocent, and I myself don’t understand them.   Now, no offense, but I like my life as is, minus the Mafia, and I don’t want to change it.”

Nobody would believe that causal explanation, but it was worth hearing anyway.

For my own safety, I do not want to get this Mafia any madder at me than they are already.

Sources:

“Why are so many white men so angry?”  by Steven M. Gillon August 29  2017 – Washington Post

View story at Medium.com

https://patch.com/new-york/ossining/s/g85ov/community-mourns-proud-dad-killed-protecting-2-year-old-daughter-in-philly

Channeling Thomas Jefferson

This is a very brief post based on a quote I found. After various incidents of towns taking down or moving Confederate statues, there were people who argued that the statues were part of our history, and our first presidents had slaves, and pretty soon we would be knocking down statues of them too.
One of these offending presidents was Thomas Jefferson.

I was looking at the debates between Abraham Lincoln And Stephen Douglas in the year 1858 and Jefferson was mentioned. Lincoln argues that the founders of the U.S. (including Jefferson) were essentially against slavery because:

…the Union is a house divided against itself; and when the Judge reminds me that I have often said to him that the institution of slavery has existed for eighty years in some States, and yet it does not exist in some others, I agree to the fact, and I account for it by looking at the position in which our fathers originally placed it-restricting it from the new Territories where it had not gone, and legislating to cut off its source by the abrogation of the slave-trade thus putting the seal of legislation against its spread. The public mind did rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction…. Now, I believe if we could arrest the spread, and place it where Washington, and Jefferson, and Madison placed it, it would be in the course of ultimate extinction, and the public mind would, as for eighty years past, believe that it was in the course of ultimate extinction. The crisis would be past and the institution might be let alone for a hundred years, if it should live so long, in the States where it exists, yet it would be going out of existence in the way best for both the black and the white races. [Great cheering.]

abraham_lincoln_by_byers2c_1858_-_crop
Abe Lincoln at the time of the 1858 debate

Since I’m a product of a typical American Education, which means I know little history, I was unaware of this.  So I looked up the abolition of the slaving ship trade in America, and found this:

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson… expressed his hope that Congress would end the slave trade and “withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have so long been continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa.” Congress passed the act in March of 1807, and Jefferson quickly signed it into law.

So this should tell us something. Namely that people may be flawed and hypocritical, but they are creatures of their time and place. Jefferson was on the side of the angels, basically, given his time.

Here is another quote, that came in my email today, which is about another group of slaveholders:

Islamic State is advising attackers to inject food for sale in markets (in the West) with cyanide poison.

The terrorist organization has prepared for this and used prisoners for experiments with different chemicals and toxins, with very painful deaths as a result, The Times and Newsweek wrote in May:

The Islamic State group used prisoners as “human guinea pigs,” carrying out chemical weapons experiments in order to plan for attacks against the West, documents found in Mosul have revealed. The papers detailing the tests, which led to the agonizing deaths of prisoners, were discovered at Mosul University in January when it was recaptured by Iraqi special forces. The documents verified by United States and British forces were detailed by The Times in a report published Saturday.

Prisoners had their food and water contaminated by the sprinkling of chemicals found in easily accessible pesticides. The U.S. and Britain now fear that the same methods could be used on a larger scale to contaminate food supplies in the West.

So I’d ask a radical this: The members of Islamic State want to poison you. And your children.  Plus they hold slaves. As opposed to pulling down statues of long dead secessionists, what are you doing about it!

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(To be fair, I did read a few days ago that some members of the radical group ‘Antifa’ have flown to Turkey to fight against Islamic State. So they do have the courage of their convictions – some of them at least). But to pour some cold water on that there is this report in the Daily Mail (UK): A secret FBI investigation of the violent ‘resistance’ movement on college campuses against President Trump has led to an alarming discovery—the collusion between American anarchists and foreign terrorists in the Islamic State and Al qaeda, according to a confidential ‘Informational Report’ by FBI field offices.” So yes, they have convictions. And courage. But so what.

Here is a one minute video on the descendants of the founders getting together:

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5018141/ISIS-connection-anarchists-revealed-Ed-Klein-book.html#ixzz4wuSpC6f6