TIME magazine recently put out a cover story claiming that each American owes a $42,998.12 slice of our $13.9 trillion national debt. What is old is new again, apparently. Ross Perot must be sighing in forgotten silence, somewhere. The author, James Grant, puts out Grant’s Interest Rate Review twice a month, and has done so since 1983. On top of that, he’s written some books–most of them about money and finance, and a couple about pet political topics.
Is sugar bad? Good? Toxic? What about fat? What causes obesity, diabetes, and heart disease? Does the current state of nutrition science give us answers to these questions? The answer is a big fat “nope.” This post has been some time in coming. It is a follow-up, and correction of sorts, to a post I made back in February as part of my series on American health. In the comments section of that post, an enterprising reader noted that most of the available evidence used to set to nutrition guidelines is scientifically unsound.
It’s time to cap off this week of posts about the Internet, with a broader discussion of the Internet’s capacity for promoting change. Yesterday, I talked about the Internet’s role in American politics, though I didn’t spend much time on how it has affected social change more generally. There are movements happening all around us that are only effective because the Internet is an available tool. The Arab Spring, for instance, unfolded in large part due to online communication and organization.
Here’s another mixed bag, if ever there was one. The Internet has changed the nature of our politics, in ways large and small. I’m here to examine some of them. Our politics didn’t transform all at once, but gradually, over time. The Internet had little effect on the 2000 election, for instance–its potential for political organization had not yet been realized, although political discussion between citizens has been happening online since at least the Usenet days.
Time for the other side of the coin. I promise that this isn’t a complete retraction or reconsideration of yesterday’s sentiments. I fully intended to follow up with the opposite view today. Let’s get on with it! As I mentioned, the Internet really has become a central part of most of our lives. In 1996, only 20 million Americans–not even 10%–had Internet access. Today, almost 90% of Americans are online. This kind of rapid progression is downright transformative.
You heard me! First, some qualification: this is primarily about the Internet as used in America, in the English language. Things may be different in other places and in other languages. I am not familiar with them. I’ve been a regular Internet user since 1996. I had some prior experiences with Prodigy’s Internet service in the early 1990s, but it hardly counts since all I did was play MadMaze. It was in 1996 that I got my first real exposure to the Internet as a social phenomenon.
Time to tackle another construct: the different ways men and women communicate with one another. As is typical when I write about issues of social constructs that involve power disparities, privilege, and oppression, my words are aimed primarily at guys like myself: straight white men. I would not presume to explain these issues to women–they are already well aware. Getting right to the point: there is a major difference in how men and women communicate and conduct themselves in mixed-gender venues, almost regardless of context.
Sometimes I wonder if I stray too far from the core purpose of this blog which is, after all, examining the “resilient constructs” we encounter in our lives. But this is a topic that, I think, drives at the heart of what this blog is about. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. There are a number of reasons for this, but the simple explanation is that, as a culture, we have a more punitive view of human behavior.
Tax evasion: what was once a mark of shame has endured so long it’s become boring. Commonplace. Business as usual. The Panama Papers have opened the latest chapter in this story. Detailing the dealings of Panamanian financial services firm Mossack Fonseca, the Papers don’t describe anything particularly unusual or novel, and that’s the real tragedy. This is normal. It’s normal for people with massive amounts of wealth to hide it in tiny little countries around the world just so they can avoid giving up a slice of it that they wouldn’t even miss.
April is National Autism Awareness Month. If you aren’t autistic and aren’t close to anyone who is, you might think this is a good time for autistic people–a chance for children and adults who aren’t often in the limelight to get some attention and advocacy. If only it were so simple. This is only the second time I’ve written about autism here. My previous post–and especially the links quoted/cited there–is a good place to start with regard to reconsidering autism advocacy in general.