Armchair warriors thumping their chests

Sometimes it’s necessary to get real.

Juan Cole posted an argument in favor of the war in Libya.[1] Glenn Greenwald, relying on a principle Cole had evidently posted with regard to the war in Iraq, asked Cole if he would be willing to fight in it.[2] Cole has replied that he would.[3]

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  1. [1]Juan Cole, “An Open Letter to the Left on Libya,” Informed Comment, March 27, 2011,
  2. [2]Glenn Greenwald, “Question for Juan Cole,” Salon, March 30, 2011,
  3. [3]Juan Cole, “Answer to Glenn Greenwald,” Informed Comment, March 30, 2011,

I still have lots of reading to catch up on

At least, now I know.

On a conference call interview for the Social and Cultural Anthropology program at California Institute of Integral Studies, one of the professors began by praising me, acknowledging all that I have been through, recognizing my qualifications, and then, just as I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, reiterating what she had said at our first encounter, that it would be seven long years for me to complete their program. Her feeling now was that that was too long for someone of my accomplishments.

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The treacherous terrain of sex and capitalism

A sex worker, furrygirl, posted on Twitter:

Clearly, no one this week can figure out basics like “don’t steal from me,” “don’t tell me you’re just using me,” & “clients: don’t flake.”[1]

It’s probably fair to say that Furry Girl, whom I follow because she’s vegan, progressive, and intelligent, and because she makes interesting comments on Twitter, is attempting to navigate the space of being sex positive in a capitalist setting.

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  1. [1]furrygirl, Twitter, March 18, 2011,!/furrygirl/statuses/48884520858030081

When will time be up?

For me, the semester in Ecology and Culture began with a book entitled Water by Alice Outwater, in which she seemed to advocate the restoration of pristine ecosystems,[1] a goal which could not help but charm me. The notion, however, of a pristine ecosystem—apparently defined as one in which humans have no impact—would seem to exclude the possibility of human existence. That, of course, is not what I had in mind, and I noted at the time that “even as Outwater has meticulously described a number of ways in which European settlement has altered the ecological system as it relates to water, she has not described a system humans can realistically aspire to that is healthy for humans and other living things.”[2]

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  1. [1]Alice Outwater, Water: A Natural History (New York: Basic, 1996).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Water,”,

Romancing the Anthropologist

It can only be with sadness that I read Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ epilogue—written in 1989—to The Harmless People, in which she states that the Bushman way of life is no more, not only for the sake of the people of themselves but because her story appears to contradict Bradford Keeney’s account of going among the Bushman people in the 1990s, dancing with them somewhat as she describes them dancing, becoming one of their shamans—claiming a role in Bushman society she does not mention—and finding among their practices the shaking he sees as a path to God.[1] I have taken a class from Keeney at California Institute of Integral Studies, and earned Ph.D. level credit—I received an A for the course—from him, though I was bewildered from the beginning of his class to the end. In fact, it was my cat who got me through that class, and whom Keeney claimed at one point was teaching that class; it was a very strange class.[2]

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  1. [1]Bradford Keeney, Bushman Shaman (Rochester, VT: Destiny, 2005); Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Harmless People (New York: Vintage, 1989).
  2. [2]Bradford Keeney, Introduction to Transformative Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, Fall 2009.

Another brick in the wall (with apologies to Pink Floyd in more than one sense)

What if education is not the solution?

I remember my favorite professor at CSU East Bay saying that all he wanted was a ten-point increase in the IQ of the general population. I’m sure that was a bit facetious. With a Ph.D. in education, he was as well aware as anyone of the difficulties of standardized testing and I seriously doubt that he, who recommended qualitative research methods to me, would attempt to define intelligence in quantifiable terms.

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Democracy may be safely contained

I guess I have to rain on the parade. I usually do, so this won’t come as a surprise.

Rather than signaling a reversal of a conservative tide that appeared to me as a backlash to the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and that certainly intensified during the Carter era, it is beginning to appear that recent events in Wisconsin will mark the historic demise of progressive political influence culminating in a new robber baron era in which elites face no serious challenge for the foreseeable future.

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Who are you going to believe: Gallup or the BLS?

Looking at today’s unemployment data, it’s hard to call Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge wrong. Here’s what he said yesterday:

On one hand we have the Department of Truth about to tell tomorrow that NFP [Non-Farm Payrolls] based on various seasonal and birth death adjustments increased by 250,000. On the other hand, we have Gallup which actually does real time polling without a procyclical propaganda bias. And Gallup does’t have any good news: “Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.3% in February — up from 9.8% at the end of January. The U.S. unemployment rate is now essentially the same as the 10.4% at the end of February 2010.” And the one indicator that nobody in the mainstream media will touch with a ten foot pole: “Underemployment, a measure that combines part-time workers wanting full-time work with those who are unemployed, surged in February to 19.9%. This resulted from the combination of a sharp 0.5-point increase since the end of January in the percentage unemployed and a 0.5-point increase in the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work. Underemployment is now higher than it was at this point a year ago (19.7%).”[1]

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  1. [1]Tyler Durden, “Gallup Reports Underemployment Surges To 19.9%, February “Jobs Situation Deteriorates”: As Bad As 2010,” Zero Hedge, March 3, 2011,