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How the Internet Became a Shame-Storm - Bloomberg View

From Megan McArdle's review of Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed

"Shame is, after all, a force for good as well as evil. A proper accounting of the problems with shame-storming has to convey that reality, as well as articulate how we might better balance the need to enforce some sort of social norms against the terrible harms, economic as well as emotional, that shame-storming can inflict....

"Shame is one way we enforced good behavior in small groups before there were laws or trading networks. It is a very powerful motivator, and it helps us to come together in large cooperative groups with high degrees of trust and sharing. A hatred of being shamed ourselves and a love of shaming others who have transgressed both literally helped to make us human....

"But as Lane suggests, shame doesn't just punish wrongdoers; it also turns us into our own moral enforcers. Once we've been shamed, we are strongly motivated to avoid doing the things that brought it on. Or at least, most of us are -- one of the hallmarks of sociopaths is that they don't feel shame or remorse. To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, shame is good. Shame is right. Shame works....

"In the small groups we evolved to live in, shame is tempered by love and forgiveness. People are shamed for some transgression, then they are restored to the group. Ultimately, the shamed person is not an enemy; he or she is someone you need and want to get along with. This is how you make up with your spouse after one or both of you has done or said something terrible....

"On the Internet, when all the social context is stripped away and you don't even have to look at the face of the person you're being mean to, shame loses its social, restorative function. Shame-storming isn't punishment. It's a weapon. And weapons aren't supposed to be used against people in your community; they're for strangers, people in some other group that you don't like very much....

"If we want shaming to be restorative -- to help us create and enforce better norms in a broad community -- then it needs to come paired with charity and forgiveness. Shame-storms rarely offer either; the shame is administered, then the storm drizzles away, leaving only a terrified victim and Google's memory of our momentary collective outrage. Without the mercy and restraint of the small community, it can too easily become nothing more than a particularly destructive way to pass an idle moment."

Pyromaniacs: Going to Take the Cake

F. X. Turk (grandson of a Hungarian kulak) says it's time to sweep away the euphemisms:

"That is actually what is on the table: being part of a celebration which calls sinful sexual unions holy.  If I refuse, I'm a kulak - part of the hated class who cannot be allowed to own property anymore, who cannot be allowed to buy or sell anymore, and who must be called out as immoral and as enemies of the new way of life.

"I am really not that concerned that gay people (at least superficially) say they want to be 'married'.  I am concerned that anyone who objects to the new moral definitions is clearly being called politically unfit for use."

The Left wages total war and then plays victim | Tim Carney | WashingtonExaminer.com

"After millennia of marriage being uncontroversially a union between one man and one woman, and after a decade of electorates in most states (and President Obama in 2008) upholding that traditional definition, the Left has used the courts to redefine the institution. People are fired for having taken the losing side. On college campuses, the current fights are about banning even the articulation of traditional views....

"Religious liberty is the terms of surrender the Right is requesting in the culture war. It is conservative America saying to the cultural and political elites, you have your gay marriage, your no-fault divorce, your obscene music and television, your indoctrinating public schools and your abortion-on-demand. May we please be allowed to not participate in these?

"But no. Tolerance isn't the goal. Religious conservatives must atone for their heretical views with acts of contrition: Bake me a cake, photograph my wedding, pay for my abortion and my contraception."

Ace of Spades HQ: The New Intolerance: We Are Now Required To Embrace Just About Everything, Except the Gutter Religion Christianity

The writer is an atheist, a fiscal and foreign policy conservative, not at all a social conservative. Bottom line: If you have a problem with religious freedom laws, you're probably a totalitarian leftist. Some excerpts:

"Because that's all the gay 'rights' activists are doing here -- they are forcing people who disagree with their political beliefs to endorse those political beliefs anyway, using the crushing power of the state to compel assent....

""This is not about serving gays, this is about acceding to gays' (and non-gay Gay Enthusiasts') demands that those who dissent with gay weddings nevertheless be forced to endorse them....

"If a minority of bakers refuses services to gay weddings, what actual damage befalls gays? There are still many, many more bakers who will bake them their cakes. So what is the actual harm?

"They never answer this question -- they never ask it, so they couldn't answer it -- but the actual answer would be: 'The harm is finding out that someone disagrees with my Sacred Belief on gay marriage.'...

"What is being pursued here is not gays' right to have wedding cake. They have this, of course, and do not need the law's insistence to get it.

"What is being pursued here is hardcore gay-identity crusaders' insistence that no one has the right to disagree with them on their Sacred Belief, and that the law can and should be perverted into punishing ThoughtCrimes.

"What we are seeing here is the enforcement of a new religious code, one which puts "secular" leftist values at the center of religious dogma, and then uses the power of the state to punish heretics, apostates, and blasphemers.

"It is ugly, cruel, and stupid, as are most things the left wants."

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person | Cracked.com

The harsh truths are delivered with foul language, but that just might be what it takes to reach its intended audience. Some expurgated highlights:

"Either you will go about the task of seeing to [the] needs [of others] by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving, and polite you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, you will be left out in the cold.

"Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about love and kindness -- don't those things matter? Of course. As long as they result in you doing things for people that they can't get elsewhere....

"...I'm asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don't say that you're a nice guy -- that's the bare minimum.... Saying that you're a nice guy is like a restaurant whose only selling point is that the food doesn't make you sick. You're like a new movie whose title is This Movie Is in English, and its tagline is 'The actors are clearly visible.'...

"Because that's the step that gets skipped -- it's always 'How can I get a job?' and not 'How can I become the type of person employers want?' It's 'How can I get pretty girls to like me?' instead of 'How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?' See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality....

"...Because in my non-expert opinion, you don't hate yourself because you have low self-esteem, or because other people were mean to you. You hate yourself because you don't do anything. Not even you can just "love you for you" -- that's why you're miserable and sending me private messages asking me what I think you should do with your life.

"Do the math: How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being....

"Being in the business I'm in, I know dozens of aspiring writers. They think of themselves as writers, they introduce themselves as writers at parties, they know that deep inside, they have the heart of a writer. The only thing they're missing is that minor final step, where they actually [-------] write things....

"How many of you are walking around right now saying, 'She/he would love me if she/he only knew what an interesting person I am!' Really? How do all of your interesting thoughts and ideas manifest themselves in the world? What do they cause you to do? If your dream girl or guy had a hidden camera that followed you around for a month, would they be impressed with what they saw? Remember, they can't read your mind -- they can only observe. Would they want to be a part of that life?...

"And so on. Remember, misery is comfortable. It's why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.

"Also, courage. It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created...."

He concludes by calling on his readers to pick a skill that would be valuable to others and work hard enough at it in 2015 to get good enough to impress others. "You have nothing to lose, and the world needs you."

Ace of Spades HQ: Fundamental Concepts - Why the Left Hates Families

Brief and unsopisticated, but fairly on point. "It's nothing more than a Utopian vision: Things aren't perfect now, but when WE are in charge of them, then we can make them perfect. The fact that perfection is impossible never enters their minds.... We have a preexisting social infrastructure as a nation, and if they mean to replace it with big government, the existing structure must be destroyed. Government must be the only answer to the question 'Who takes care of the people?'... The Progressive elite, the white upper and upper middle class, they don't practice what they preach. By and large, their lives are still structured around the traditional family.... They know that the family is the key to prosperity...." A point that he missed: Families (and larger-scale mediating institutions, too, like extended families, churches, neighborhoods, small towns) offer help in the context of standards of responsible behavior -- we'll bail you out, but we expect you to change the way you live so you won't need this kind of help again. The Lefty is content to help people who continue to wallow in irresponsibility, as long as they vote to keep him in power.

NUVO: Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros

An ER Doc takes competitive parents to task:

"I know, I know. Your family is different. You do all these things because your kid loves to compete, he loves the travel basketball, she loves the swim team, it's her life, it's what defines him. Part of that is certainly true but a big part of that isn't. Tens of thousands of families thrive in this setting, but I'm telling you, from what I've seen as a clinician, tens of thousands don't. It is a hidden scourge in society today, taxing and stressing husbands, wives, parents and children. We're denying children the opportunity to explore literally thousands of facets of interests because of the fear of the need to "specialize" in something early, and that by not doing this your child will somehow be just an average kid. How do we learn to rejoice in the average and celebrate as a whole society the exceptional? I'm not sure, but I know that this whole preoccupation is unhealthy, it is dysfunctional and is as bad as alcoholism, tobacco abuse, or any other types of dependency."

"Isaiah's Job," by Albert Jay Nock

A word of encouragement from 1936 that deserves frequent review:

"Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job -- in fact, he had asked for it -- but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so -- if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start -- was there any sense in starting it? 'Ah,' the Lord said, 'you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.'...

"The certainty that the Remnant will find him, however, leaves the prophet as much in the dark as ever, as helpless as ever in the matter of putting any estimate of any kind upon the Remnant; for, as appears in the case of Elijah, he remains ignorant of who they are that have found him or where they are or how many. They did not write in and tell him about it, after the manner of those who admire the vedettes of Hollywood, nor yet do they seek him out and attach themselves to his person. They are not that kind. They take his message much as drivers take the directions on a roadside signboard -- that is, with very little thought about the signboard, beyond being gratefully glad that it happened to be there, but with every thought about the directions....

"Even admitting that in the teeth of history that hope of the human race may not be quite exclusively centered in the Remnant, one must perceive that they have social value enough to entitle them to some measure of prophetic encouragement and consolation, and that our civilization allows them none whatever. "

When Bread Bags Weren't Funny - Bloomberg View

Megan McArdle ponders the bread-bags that Sen. Joni Ernst (and I!) wore over our shoes when the weather was wet and what that tells us about the rise in American living standards.

"I am a few years younger than Noonan, but I grew up in a very different world -- one where a number of my grammar school classmates were living in public housing or on food stamps, but everyone had more than one pair of shoes. In rural areas, like the one where Joni Ernst grew up, this lingered longer. But all along, Americans got richer and things got cheaper -- especially when global markets opened up. Payless will sell you a pair of child's shoes for $15, which is two hours of work even at minimum wage.

"Perhaps that sounds like a lot to you -- two whole hours! But I've been researching historical American living standards for a project I'm working on, and if you're familiar with what Americans used to spend on things, this sounds like a very good deal....

"...The Ingalls family [of the Little House series] were in many ways bourgeoisie: educated by the standards of the day, active in community leadership, landowners. And they had nothing.

"There's a scene in one of the books where Laura is excited to get her own tin cup for Christmas, because she previously had to share with her sister. Think about that....

"Imagine if your kids had to spend six months out of the year barefoot because you couldn't afford for them to wear their shoes year-round.... I'm not talking about making sure your kids have a decent pair of shoes to wear to school; I'm talking about not being able to afford to put anything at all on their feet....

"In 1901, the average "urban wage earner" spent about 46 percent of their household budget on food and another 15 percent on apparel -- that's 61 percent of their annual income just to feed and clothe the family. That does not include shelter, or fuel to heat your home and cook your food. By 1987, that same household spent less than 20 percent on food and a little over 5 percent of their budget on apparel. Since then, these numbers have fallen even further: Today, families with incomes of less than $5,000 a year still spend only 16 percent of the family budget on food and 3.5 percent on apparel. And that's not because we're eating less and wearing fewer clothes; in fact, it's the reverse."

KA-CHING! • If there is any one proof of a man's incompetence,...

"If there is any one proof of a man's incompetence, it is the stagnant mentality of a worker (or a professor) who doing some small, routine job in a vast undertaking, does not care to look beyond the lever of a machine (or the lectern of a classroom), does not choose to know how the machine (or the classroom) got there or what makes his job possible, and proclaims that the management of the undertaking is parasitical and unnecessary. Managerial work--the organization and integration of human effort into purposeful, large-scale, long-range activities--is, in the realm of action, what man's conceptual faculty is in the realm of cognition. It is beyond the grasp and, therefore, is the first target of the self-arrested, sensory-perceptual mentality."

-- Ayn Rand, "The Cashing-In: The Student 'Rebellion'" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

(For an approach to organization and management grounded in similar insights, look into "Requisite Organization," as developed by Elliot Jaques (the man who coined "mid-life crisis" and the first to use the term "culture" in a management context) and Wilfred Brown, among others.