“Social class is probably the single most important variable in society. From womb to tomb, it correlates with almost all other social characteristics of people that we can measure. Affluent expectant mothers are more likely to get prenatal care, receive current medical advice, and enjoy general health, fitness, and nutrition. Many poor and working-class mothers-to-be first contact the medical profession in the last month, sometimes the last hours, of their pregnancies. Rich babies come out healthier and weighing more than poor babies. The infants go home to very different situations. Poor babies are more likely to have higher levels of poisonous lead in their environments and their bodies. Rich babies get more time and verbal interaction with their parents and higher quality day care when not with their parents. When they enter kindergarten, and through the twelve years that follow, rich children benefit from suburban schools that spend two to three times as much money per student as schools in inner cities or impoverished rural areas. Poor children are taught in classes that are often 50 percent larger than the classes of affluent children.” – James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me
“Driving across the US this summer, from Brooklyn to Santa Barbara, in my hot rod – okay, with a six week pause in Denver; and up and down California, coastal and inland, just now; I have learned the following about our imperiled democracy:
Everyone under age 60 has a tattoo.
Nearly everyone under age 60 – and also over 60, though for different reasons, depending on age group – has blue hair; or pink hair; or green hair; or corn rows; or dreadlocks.
I saw more gender-queer people in Utah than I have ever seen in Brooklyn.
The cars lacquered with Trumpy stickers are not beaters picked up at police auctions – they’re big expensive Jeeps and $50,000 ATVs.
People with nowhere to live except the sidewalk, the park, the doorway, the parking lot, the freeway underpass, are everywhere, and are perhaps the most unifying presence in America – the population and problem that links Madison Avenue to Main Street. We are a country undivided in the following: everyone likes to have people around who are living openly in desperate poverty on your doorstep. Democrats love this as much as Republicans; Richy Rich loves it as much as the-struggling-middle-class. If we’re addicted to fossil fuels (I am!), we’re also addicted to the need to have unhoused people in our communities.
Women over age 60 are our genealogists and historians and record keepers in smalltown libraries and historic societies everywhere. A lot of them are Mormons!
Everyone in America knows, is related to, works with or for, has shared bathrooms with, loves, is raising, orders coffee from, is neighbors with, is married to a transgender person.
I don’t know what Ron DeSantis and his pack of neo-Nazis and conservative evangelical Christians are on about. Good grief. As the LGBTQ community said to Anita Bryant in the 1970s when she was worrying that homosexuals were corrupting her children:
“We are your children.”
The USA’s in bad shape, climate wise – to quote stand-up comedian Naomi Ekperigin, “This would be the part in the movie where America coughs into a rag and then pulls it away and sees blood.”
But the things that are not a problem are: queer kids. Critical Race Theory. History! Facts.
Weirdos and aging punk rockers and whiteguys with Walt Whitman beards on motorcycles zipping past you on the Hollywood Freeway.
Everybody in America knows somebody weird; is weird; and this bullshit that the GOP is feeding us about how difference is destroying America – is just utter bullshit. I can’t believe that more than 12 people believe it. Look around, motherfuckers. Half the people you know are letting their freak flag fly, and the other half are sticking a US flag on their back and pretending it means they’re “normal.”
The new normal is: there’s no normal!
It’s hard to think about how to deal with 106° weather in Arizona for weeks. Way easier to get upset that your kid’s reading a book.
The country is beautiful! The landscape. OMeffingG. The industrial waste just as beautiful as the Utah desert.
Nothing I said is true of Carson City, Nevada, though! There are always exceptions. . .
Dogs are everywhere.
Every conceivable kind of dog.”
– John Weir, Facebook, August 13, 2023
“‘Come, let’s argue then,’ said Prince Andrew, ‘You talk of schools,’ he went on, crooking a finger, ‘education and so forth; that is, you want to raise him’ (pointing to a peasant who passed by them taking off his cap) ‘from his animal condition and awaken in him spiritual needs, while it seems to me that animal happiness is the only happiness possible, and that is just what you want to deprive him of. I envy him, but you want to make him what I am, without giving him my means. Then you say, “lighten his toil.” But as I see it, physical labor is as essential to him, as much a condition of his existence, as mental activity is to you or me. You can’t help thinking. I go to bed after two in the morning, thoughts come and I can’t sleep but toss about till dawn, because I think and can’t help thinking, just as he can’t help plowing and mowing; if he didn’t, he would go to the drink shop or fall ill. Just as I could not stand his terrible physical labor but should die of it in a week, so he could not stand my physical idleness, but would grow fat and die. The third thing—what else was it you talked about?’ and Prince Andrew crooked a third finger. ‘Ah, yes, hospitals, medicine. He has a fit, he is dying, and you come and bleed him and patch him up. He will drag about as a cripple, a burden to everybody, for another ten years. It would be far easier and simpler for him to die. Others are being born and there are plenty of them as it is. It would be different if you grudged losing a laborer—that’s how I regard him—but you want to cure him from love of him. And he does not want that. And besides, what a notion that medicine ever cured anyone! Killed them, yes!’ said he, frowning angrily and turning away from Pierre.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)
“To an imagination of any scope the most far-reaching form of power is not money, it is the command of ideas.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “The Path of the Law”
“The Supreme Court’s decision to block student loan forgiveness is a reminder that the crimes of the rich are more readily absolved than the debts of the poor.” – Trevor Jackson, “The Unforgiven”
“The more clearly you picture the history of life as an unbroken series of ecosystems, and not just a line of related species, the more clearly you understand the tragedy of what we’re doing to Earth, the consequences of depleting the planet we like to claim we’ve inherited.” – Verlyn Klinkenborg, “What Were Dinosaurs For?”
“In social feasts, and deeds of hospitality, no nation upon earth was ever more liberal and abounding. To refuse admitting under your roof any man whatsoever, is held wicked and inhuman. Every man receives every comer, and treats him with repasts as large as his ability can possibly furnish. When the whole stock is consumed, he who has treated so hospitably guides and accompanies his guest to the next house, though neither of them invited. Nor avails it, that they were not; they are there received, with the same frankness and humanity. Between a stranger and an acquaintance, in dispensing the rules and benefits of hospitality, no difference is made. Upon your departure, if you ask anything, it is the custom to grant it; and with the same facility, they ask of you. In gifts they delight, but neither claim merit from what they give, nor own any obligation for what they receive. Their manner of entertaining their guests is familiar and kind.” – Tacitus, Tacitus on Germany (trans. Thomas Gordon)
“People’s lives today are filled with vice and the trappings of it. Ambition, greed and selfishness all have to do with vice. Sooner or later, you have to see through it or you don’t survive. We don’t see the people that vice destroys. We just see the glamour of it—everywhere we look, from billboard signs to movies, to newspapers, to magazines. We see the destruction of human life.” – Bob Dylan (interviewed by Robert Love in “Bob Dylan His Way,” 2015)
“It is a vast achievement, the surest ideal, perhaps, to render the condition of men a little less servile, a little less painful; but let the mind detach itself for an instant from material results, and the difference between the man who marches in the van of progress and the other who is blindly dragged at its tail ceases to be very considerable.” – Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee
“It is from great foolishness that persons blinded by love of wealth always desire to make a partition of their patrimony. After effecting a partition they fight with each other, deluded by wealth. Then again, enemies in the guise of friends cause estrangements between ignorant and selfish men after they become separated in wealth, and pointing out faults confirm their quarrels, so that the latter soon fall one by one. Absolute ruin very soon overtakes the separated.” – The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Vol. I, Astika Parva of the Adi Parva, trans. Pratap Chandra Roy
“The morality that Puritanism preached was precisely the outlook needed for the accumulation of capital and expansion of capitalism. The emphasis was on thrift, sobriety, hard work in the station to which God had called a man; on unceasing labour in whatever calling, merchant or artisan, one happened to be, but with no extravagant enjoyment of the fruits of labour, and unceasing preoccupation with duty to the detriment of ‘worldly’ pleasure. The wealthy were to accumulate capital, the poor to labour at their tasks – as a divine duty and always under the ‘great Task-master’s’ eye. This belief inspired the bourgeoisie to remodel society in the divinely ordained fashion God’s ‘elect,’ and if that fashion bore a striking resemblance to the capitalist system, they were ever more fervently convinced that they were doing the work of God and that ultimate victory was both predestined and assured.” – Christopher Hill, The English Revolution 1640
“If we cannot help but blame others for things that are beyond their control, this may be because wretchedness is our basic condition, as inevitable as it is blameworthy, and only an ideology—such as the one that has reigned throughout modernity—that stresses our earthly perfectibility will place the wretched in the earthly purgatories of rehab clinics and ‘correctional institutions’ and psychiatric outpatient clinics, where in each case the purported goal is to purge the wretchedness right out of a person.” – Justin E. H. Smith, “A Surfeit of Black Bile”
“As long as people feel cheated, bored, harassed, endangered, or betrayed at work, sabotage will be used as a direct method of achieving job satisfaction – the kind that never has to get the bosses’ approval.” – Martin Sprouse, Sabotage in the American Workplace
“I am no such pil’d cynique to believe that beggery is the onely happinesse, or, with a number of these patient fooles, to sing, ‘My minde to me a kingdoms is,’ when the lanke hungrie belly barkes for foode.” – Ben Jonson, Every Man out of his Humour
“If you can’t afford a movie, go to the zoo. If you can’t afford the zoo, go see a politician.” – Stephen King, The Stand
“Actual life was chaos, but there was something terribly logical in the imagination. It was the imagination that set remorse to dog the feet of sin. It was the imagination that made each crime bear its misshapen brood. In the common world of fact the wicked were not punished, nor the good rewarded. Success was given to the strong, failure thrust upon the weak. That was all.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
“One’s days were too brief to take the burden of another’s errors on one’s shoulders. Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. One had to pay over and over again, indeed. In her dealings with man, destiny never closed her accounts.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
“Idiocy in a family is one thing, and money is another.” – James Thurber, “Lavender with a Difference”
“It is blood that makes the cash grow green.” – Justin King, “Let’s talk about new defense spending on Ukraine”
“Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression. Even the wells and trees had their masters, who allowed men to make firewood of the one and drink of the other freely, as much as was required for their need, but who would instantly check anyone trying to turn the property to account and to exploit it or its products among others for private benefit. The desert was held in a crazed communism by which Nature and the elements were for the free use of every known friendly person for his own purposes and no more. Logical outcomes were the reduction of this licence to privilege by the men of the desert, and their hardness to strangers unprovided with introduction or guarantee, since the common security lay in the common responsibility of kinsmen.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
“Men with small money will still impress each other over beer, men with medium money will find ways to barter, and men with large money will slice this country like cake if they get sad enough, bored enough.” – Eloghosa Osunde, “Good Boy”
“Chinese Communist and North Korean forces left Yongdong-ni two nights ago by railroad N to lake ferry. . . . Chinese Communist forces took all civ workers with them when they left town. The civ did not want to fight. One hundred workers were shot two (2) days ago because they refused to fight. Ten more were shot later.” – “RCT 31 Unit Report, 12 Nov 50”
“The people on this area are in dire need of clothing, this however, seems to be predominant in all of North Korea. There also appears to be a short supply of salt. The food situation is satisfactory. The diet consists primarily of barley and potatoes of which there is a sufficient quantity to last until next April or May. . . . The Regiment was informed that when the North Korean forces occupied this area they issued orders that the physicians, four Chinese doctors, would discontinue their practices except where NK troops were concerned. . . . The civilian attitude is basically unchanged. They appreciate the fact that they are not being mistreated and that the UN forces do not require a tax in the form of food stuffs.” – Major Carl G. Witte, S-2 and Civil Affairs Officer, 31st Regimental Combat Team, November 17, 1950, “Civil Affairs Weekly Activities Report”
“The clergy live by our sins, the medical faculty by our diseases, and the law gentry by our misfortunes.” – Sir Walter Scott, Antiquary
“The musical standards of popular music were originally developed by a competitive process. As one particular song scored a great success, hundreds of others sprang up imitating the successful one. The most successful hits types, and ‘ratios’ between elements were imitated, and the process culminated in the crystallization of standards. Under centralized conditions such as exist today these standards have become ‘frozen.’ That is, they have been taken over by cartelized agencies, the final results of a competitive process, and rigidly enforced upon material to be promoted. Noncompliance with the rules of the game became the basis for exclusion. The original patterns that are now standardized evolved in a more or less competitive way. Large-scale economic concentration institutionalized the standardization, and made it imperative.” – Theodor W. Adorno, “On Popular Music”
“Stylization of the ever identical framework is only one aspect of standardization. Concentration and control in our culture hide themselves in their very manifestation. Unhidden they would provoke resistance. Therefore the illusion and, to a certain extent, even the reality of individual achievement must be maintained. The maintenance of it is grounded in material reality itself, for while administrative control over life processes is concentrated, ownership is still diffuse. In the sphere of luxury production, to which popular music belongs and in which no necessities of life are immediately involved, while, at the same time, the residues of individualism are most alive there in the form of ideological categories such as taste and free choice, it is imperative to hide standardization. The ‘backwardness’ of musical mass production, the fact that it is still on a handicraft level and not literally an industrial one, conforms perfectly to that necessity which is essential from the viewpoint of cultural big business. If the individual handicraft elements of popular music were abolished altogether, a synthetic means of hiding standardization would have to be evolved. Its elements are even now in existence. The necessary correlate of musical standardization is pseudo- individualization. By pseudo-individualization we mean endowing cultural mass production with the halo of free choice or open market on the basis of standardization itself. Standardization of song hits keeps the customers in line by doing their listening for them, as it were. Pseudo-individualization, for its part, keeps them in line by making them forget that what they listen to is already listened to for them, or ‘pre-digested.’ “ – Theodor W. Adorno, “On Popular Music”
“The notion of distraction can be properly understood only within its social setting and not in self-subsistent terms of individual psychology. Distraction is bound to the present mode of production, to the rationalized and mechanized process of labor to which, directly or indirectly, masses are subject. This mode of production, which engenders fears and anxiety about unemployment, loss of income, war, has its ‘nonproductive’ correlate in entertainment; that is, relaxation which does not involve the effort of concentration at all. People want to have fun. A fully concentrated and conscious experience of art is possible only to those whose lives do not put such a strain on them that in their spare time they want relief from both boredom and effort simultaneously. The whole sphere of cheap commercial entertainment reflects this dual desire. It induces relaxation because it is patterned and pre-digested. Its being patterned and pre-digested serves within the psychological household of the masses to spare them the effort of that participation (even in listening or observation) without which there can be no receptivity to art.” – Theodor W. Adorno, “On Popular Music”
“In our present society the masses themselves are kneaded by the same mode of production as the arti-craft material foisted upon them. The customers of musical entertainment are themselves objects or, indeed, products of the same mechanisms which determine the production of popular music. Their spare time serves only to reproduce their working capacity. It is a means instead of an end. The power of the process of production extends over the time intervals which on the surface appear to be ‘free.’ They want standardized goods and pseudo-individualization, because their leisure is an escape from work and at the same time is molded after those psychological attitudes to which their workaday world exclusively habituates them. Popular music is for the masses a perpetual bus man’s holiday. Thus, there is justification for speaking of a pre-established harmony today between production and consumption of popular music. The people clamor for what they are going to get anyhow.” – Theodor W. Adorno, “On Popular Music”
“All manner of valuable things lack a price tag not because they have no value, but because it is illegal to sell them.” – United States Attorney Damian Williams, “Sentencing Memorandum of the United States of America,” United States of America v. Stephen M. Calk, December 22, 2021
“We rise at sunrise, / We rest at sunset, / Dig wells and drink, / Till our fields and eat;— / What is the strength of the emperor to us?” – “Song of the peasants in the time of Yaou”, The She King, or, The Book of Poetry (trans. James Legge)