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‘Luxury beliefs’ are the latest status symbol for rich Americans

A former classmate from Yale recently told me “monogamy is kind of outdated” and not good for society. So I asked her what her background is and if she planned to marry.

She said she comes from an affluent family and works at a well-known technology company. Yes, she personally intends to have a monogamous marriage — but quickly added that marriage shouldn’t have to be for everyone.

She was raised by a traditional family. She planned on having a traditional family. But she maintained that traditional families are old-fashioned and society should “evolve” beyond them.

What could explain this?

In the past, upper-class Americans used to display their social status with luxury goods. Today, they do it with luxury beliefs.

People care a lot about social status. In fact, research indicates that respect and admiration from our peers are even more important than money for our sense of well-being.

We feel pressure to display our status in new ways. This is why fashionable clothing always changes. But as trendy clothes and other products become more accessible and affordable, there is increasingly less status attached to luxury goods.

The upper classes have found a clever solution to this problem: luxury beliefs. These are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.

One example of luxury belief is that all family structures are equal. This is not true. Evidence is clear that families with two married parents are the most beneficial for young children. And yet, affluent, educated people raised by two married parents are more likely than others to believe monogamy is outdated, marriage is a sham or that all families are the same.

‘Upper-class people don a luxury belief to separate themselves from the lower class’

Relaxed attitudes about marriage trickle down to the working class and the poor. In the 1960s, marriage rates between upper-class and lower-class Americans were nearly identical. But during this time, affluent Americans loosened social norms, expressing skepticism about marriage and monogamy.

This luxury belief contributed to the erosion of the family. Today, the marriage rates of affluent Americans are nearly the same as they were in the 1960s. But working-class people are far less likely to get married. Furthermore, out-of-wedlock birthrates are more than 10 times higher than they were in 1960, mostly among the poor and working class. Affluent people seldom have kids out of wedlock but are more likely than others to express the luxury belief that doing so is of no consequence.

Another luxury belief is that religion is irrational or harmful. Members of the upper class are most likely to be atheists or non-religious. But they have the resources and access to thrive without the unifying social edifice of religion.

Places of worship are often essential for the social fabric of poor communities. Denigrating the importance of religion harms the poor. While affluent people often find meaning in their work, most Americans do not have the luxury of a “profession.” They have jobs. They clock in, they clock out. Without a family or community to care for, such a job can feel meaningless.

Then there’s the luxury belief that individual decisions don’t matter much compared to random social forces, including luck. This belief is more common among many of my peers at Yale and Cambridge than the kids I grew up with in foster care or the women and men I served with in the military. The key message is that the outcomes of your life are beyond your control. This idea works to the benefit of the upper class and harms ordinary people.

It is common to see students at prestigious universities work ceaselessly and then downplay the importance of tenacity. They perform an “aw, shucks” routine to suggest they just got lucky rather than accept credit for their efforts. This message is damaging. If disadvantaged people believe random chance is the key factor for success, they will be less likely to strive.

‘The key message is that the outcomes of your life are beyond your control’

White privilege is the luxury belief that took me the longest to understand, because I grew up around poor whites. Often members of the upper-class claim that racial disparities stem from inherent advantages held by whites. Yet Asian Americans are more educated, have higher earnings and live longer than whites. Affluent whites are the most enthusiastic about the idea of white privilege, yet they are the least likely to incur any costs for promoting that belief. Rather, they raise their social standing by talking about their privilege.

In other words, upper-class whites gain status by talking about their high status. When laws are enacted to combat white privilege, it won’t be the privileged whites who are harmed. Poor whites will bear the brunt.

It’s possible that affluent whites don’t always agree with their own luxury beliefs, or at least have doubts. Maybe they don’t like the ideological fur coat they’re wearing. But if their peers punish them for not sporting it all over town, they will never leave the house without it again.

Because, like with diamond rings or designer clothes of old, upper-class people don a luxury belief to separate themselves from the lower class. These beliefs, in turn, produce real, tangible consequences for disadvantaged people, further widening the divide. Just as fashionable clothing will soon be outdated, so will today’s fashionable beliefs. In the future, expect the upper class to defame even more values — including ones they hold dear — in their quest to gain top-dog status.

By Rob Henderson and published in The New York Post on August 17, 2019 and can be found here.

Divorce After Death?

Historically, when a husband and wife were in the process of being divorced and one died their status remained as if married, and division of the probate marital property would occur under the probate rules of Title 20.  Effective January 28, 2005, the foregoing changed, and equitable distribution under certain circumstances may now occur even after one of the spouses has died.

            Title 23 now provides that “[I]n the event one party dies during the course of divorce proceedings, no decree of divorce has been entered and grounds have been established as provided in subsection (g), the parties’ economic rights and obligations arising under the marriage shall be determined under this part rather than under 20 Pa.C.S. (relating to decedents, estates and fiduciaries).”  23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3323(d.1).   The Official Note indicates that the primary reasons for the changes is so that parties who are divorcing would need not choose between equitable distribution or electing against the Will of the other spouse.  Indeed, the Official Notes state that “[T]he parties’ economic rights and obligations are determined under equitable distribution principles, not under the elective share provisions of Chapter 22 of Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries Code).”  Importantly, the change to Title 23 leaves several questions unanswered, that have yet to be clarified by the courts.

            It is universally accepted that a divorce decree cannot be entered, regardless of the approval of the divorce grounds, when one of the spouses in the divorce action dies, because a divorce action abates immediately upon the death of one of the parties.  The changes to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3323(d.1) does not alter the foregoing.  Taper V. Taper, 939 A.2d 969 (Pa. Super., 2007), Yelenic v. Clark, 922 A.2d 935 (Pa. Super., 2007), In Re Estate of James A. Bullotta, Jr., 838 A.2d 594 (Pa., 2003).  Therefore, regardless of the approval of divorce grounds, the parties remain married.

            If the parties remain married, regardless of grounds of divorce being established, then any item of property that passes by law to the surviving spouse, because they are the surviving spouse, must supercede equitable distribution.  Of particular note are retirement plans, such as IRA or 401(k) plans that are generally governed by ERISA, which of course is a federal statute that does not fall within Title 20.  Frequently, pension plans stipulate that if a spouse is named as a beneficiary, their name cannot be removed without their consent.  The same might be the case for life insurance provided as an employment benefit through the decedent’s employer.  Likewise, a tenancy by the entireties is created and governed by common law and not Title 20.  Consequently, assets passing outside Title 20 may not be subject to equitable distribution after the death of a spouse.

            23 Pa.C.S.A. §3323(d.1) did not take effect until January 28, 2005.  Left unresolved is whether the change to Title 23 effects parties who separate prior to the effective state of the statute, and whether the change to Title 23 should be applied to parties when one of the parties filed for divorce prior to the effective date of the statute.  Under 1 Pa.C.S.A. §1926, no statute is to be considered retroactive unless it is clearly and manifestly so intended by the General Assembly.  Indeed, “in the absence of clear language to the contrary, statutes must be construed to operate prospectively only.”  Budnick v. Budnick, 419 Pa.Super. 172, 615 A.2d 80 (Pa.Super.,1992.)  citing Flick v. Flick, 408 Pa.Super. 110, 115-117, 596 A.2d 216, 219-220 (1991).  There is nothing in §3323(d.1) that even hints at retroactive effect; therefore the statute may not apply to those individuals who separated prior to January 28, 2005.

            Attorneys who practice in the field of family law should be aware that if the parties separated after January 28, 2005, and one of the spouses is ill, consideration should be made to obtaining a finding of grounds for divorce, depending on the assets involved and how they are held.  Those attorneys who practice in the field of estate law need to make certain they are aware of this change in the law, the need to update wills, and the need to check the records of the Register of Wills to determine if a Personal Representative is appointed.  Consideration should be made to filing an informal caveat to block probate of any will, and a formal caveat then filed and a petition filed to appoint an independent administrator pendente lite to marshal the assets of the deceased spouse’s estate, to ensure that the other spouse is not left with nothing.

Here is yet another an article, by Adam S. Bernick, Esquire, who is of counsel to my firm, providing some sound advice and insight into the estate planning process.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on December 8, 2009, and can be seen here.

U.S. Supreme Court Weighs in on Beneficiary Issues in Savings and Investment Plans

What happens when an individual never removed his divorced spouse as a beneficiary of his employer’s Savings and Investment Plan (SIP) and then dies? The recent U. S. Supreme Court case of Kennedy v. DuPont, 129 S.Ct. 865, 172 L.Ed.2d 662 (1/26/2009) answered this question in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Souter. The Court determined the plan document controlled what happened to the benefits. If the plan document stipulated release of the money to the divorced spouse, regardless of a non-QDRO divorce decree directing otherwise, because the decedent neglected to change the designated beneficiary from the now divorced spouse to another individual, then the plan administrators acted correctly when they released the money to the divorced spouse and not to the estate.

The decedent, William, worked for DuPont and participated in a SIP. Under the SIP, William retained the power to designate any beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive all or part of the funds upon his death, and to replace or revoke such designation. Importantly, under the SIP when William died, if he did not have a surviving spouse and a beneficiary designation was not in effect, distribution would be made to the executor or administrator of his estate. Implicit in the foregoing, of course, is that if William never amended his beneficiary designation to remove his now divorced spouse, it would remain in effect.

In 1971, William married Liv, and, in 1974, he signed a form designating her to take benefits under the SIP. William did not name a contingent beneficiary to take if she disclaimed her interest. William and Liv divorced in 1994. The divorce decree (apparently non-QDRO) provided for divorce of the parties, and specifically divested Liv of her rights in any of William’s retirement plans. However, William did not execute any documents removing Liv as the beneficiary of the SIP, although he did execute a new beneficiary-designation form naming his daughter, Kari, as the beneficiary under DuPont’s Pension and Retirement Plan. On William’s death in 2001, petitioner Kari was named executrix and she asked DuPont to distribute the SIP funds to William’s Estate. DuPont relied on William’s designation form and paid the balance of some $400,000 to Liv.

Litigation occurred and the matter eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court granted certiorari to resolve a split among the appellate courts and state supreme courts with regards to a divorced spouse’s ability to waive pension plan benefits through a divorce decree not amounting to a QDRO and whether a beneficiary’s federal common law “waiver” of plan benefits would be effective where the waiver was inconsistent with plan documents.

The Court held that regardless of any waiver under federal common law, the plan administrator was correct in not granting Liv’s “waiver”. Instead the Court held that the plan administrator “did its statutory ERISA duty” by paying the benefits to Liv in conformity with the plan documents. The Court reasoned that ERISA compliance is governed by the plain language of the written documents, and that plan administrators should not have to review a multiple amount of documents prior to release of the benefits.

Family law attorneys need to make sure that if there is no QDRO they take action to make their clients aware if the consequences of not changing the beneficiary designation. If there is a QDRO, the plan administrators must be made aware of the QDRO promptly so that the plan records/beneficiary designation is modified to reflect the terms of the QDRO. Estate planning attorneys need to review their clients’ beneficiary designations to make sure that they still comply with their estate plan goals.

By Adam S. Bernick, Esquire, Law Office of Adam S. Bernick and of counsel to the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. and published in Upon Further Review on November 10, 2009.

Johns Hopkins Research: No Evidence People Are Born Gay or Transgender

Scholars at Johns Hopkins University released a new report on Monday which argues that there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that lesbian, gay, or transgender people are born with this sexual orientation or gender identity.

The three-part, 143-page report, which appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of The New Atlantis, also investigated other commonly accepted ideas about homosexuality and transgenderism. Mayer and his co-author Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, challenged the claim that discrimination and social stigma are the only reasons why homosexual and transgender people suffer higher rates of mental health problems and are more likely to commit suicide.

The study breaks down in three parts: First, Mayer and McHugh examined whether homosexuality is an inherited trait, and concluded that people are not simply “born that way.” Second, they looked at the causes of the poor mental health associated with gay and transgender people, concluding that social stress does not explain all of it. Finally, they studied transgenderism, concluding that it is not innate and that transgender “treatments” are associated with negative outcomes.

“Studies of the brains of homosexuals and heterosexuals have found some differences, but have not demonstrated that these differences are inborn rather than the result of environmental factors that influenced both psychological and neurobiological traits,” the report explained. “One environmental factor that appears to be correlated with non-heterosexuality is child sexual abuse victimization, which may also contribute to the higher rates.”

The report cited the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which tracked the sexual orientation of children aged 7 to 12 in 1994-1995 and again in 2007-2008. Eighty percent of male respondents who had reported same-sex attraction and both-sex attraction in childhood later identified as exclusively heterosexual, while more than half of the females who reported both-sex attraction as children reported exclusive attraction to men as adults.

“Summarizing the studies of twins, we can say that there is no reliable scientific evidence that sexual orientation is determined by a person’s genes,” the researchers wrote. “But there is evidence that genes play a role in influencing sexual orientation.”

“So the question ‘Are gay people born that way?’ requires clarification. There is virtually no evidence that anyone, gay or straight, is ‘born that way’ if it means that their sexual orientation was genetically determined,” the report explained (emphasis added). “But there is some evidence from the twin studies that certain genetic profiles probably increase the likelihood the person later identifies as gay or engages in same-sex sexual behavior.”

The scholars also investigated potential links between transgender identity and neurological differences. While some studies found brain-activation patterns associated with transgenderism, the report found that “these studies do not offer sufficient evidence for drawing sound conclusions about possible associations between brain activation and sexual identity or arousal. The results are conflicting and confusing.”

The researchers concluded that there is not enough evidence to come to firm conclusions about the causes of gender identity. “There are no serial, longitudinal, or prospective studies looking at the brains of cross-gender identifying children who develop to later identify as transgender adults,” and the “neurological differences in transgender adults might be the consequence of biological factors such as genes or prenatal hormone exposure, or of psychological and environmental factors such as childhood abuse, or they could result from some combination of the two.”

The report also found that gay and transgender people are at elevated risk for a variety of mental health risks, including anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. The transgender rate of lifetime suicide attempts is estimated at 41 percent, compared to under 5 percent for the overall population.

Mayer and McHugh also disputed the argument that these mental health disorders are caused by social stressors like discrimination and stigma. While they found some evidence for this widely proclaimed “social stress model,” it ended up being “limited, inconsistent and incomplete,” and it is not yet “a useful tool for understanding public health concerns.”

When asked about likely criticism from liberals and conservatives, Mayer said he suspects critics will claim the report was only issued to serve the biases of his co-author McHugh. McHugh has spoken out against transgenderism in the past, but the study was emphatically not intended to merely back up his ideas.

“Every line in this I either wrote or approved of,” Mayer told The Christian Post. “There is no bias either way. The bias is just towards science.”

“I think we get into these very high volume battles, particularly in this current environment,” the author explained. “When science supports our position, sometimes it is better to tone down a bit. In other words, conservatives have been highly critical of the report too already because it didn’t support this or didn’t support that. The idea is that let the science speak and then see how they respond to it.”

By Tyler O’Neil and published on August 23, 2016 in PJ Media and can be found here.

The Medical Authorization Process Under HIPPA: Protection or Burden?

We will not accept the authorization for the release of medical records that you had your client complete; he must complete our authorization instead, because of HIPAA. “The patient must physically come to our office and sign our authorization in person in order for our office to release medical records to the patient or anyone else because of HIPAA. “I can’t talk to you at all about your client’s health condition because of HIPAA. These are common phrases I have heard from health care providers when trying to gather evidence for a client’s case.

The word “HIPAA” has become synonymous with patient privacy. This privacy concept comes from the Privacy Rule, which developed out of a Congressional mandate for the adoption of Federal privacy protections for individually identifiable health information. In the Administrative Simplification provisions, Sections 261-264, of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) of 1996, Public Law 104-191, Congress directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish these Federal privacy protections.

The HIPAA Administrative Simplification provisions directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions. To ensure that this new information sharing would not jeopardize patient privacy, Section 264 of HIPAA directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish Federal privacy protections for individually identifiable health information. Thus, the Secretary drafted the Privacy Rule and required compliance, for most covered entities, by April 14, 2003. Covered entities include health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers.

According to the Privacy Rule, a valid authorization for the release of protected health information is required when an attorney is requesting his client’s medical information from a health care provider. See 45 C.F.R. § 164.508 (2003). The general requirements for a valid authorization include:

  • a description of the protected health information to be used or disclosed
  • the names of person(s) or class of persons authorized to make requested use or disclosure
  • the names of person(s) or class of persons to whom the covered entity may make the requested use or disclosure
  • a description of each purpose of the requested use or disclosure
  • an expiration date or expiration event
  • the patient’s signature and date
  • notification to the patient of his right to revoke, how to exercise that right, and the exceptions to the right to revoke
  • notification of the ability or inability to condition treatment, payment, or enrollment for benefits on signing the authorization
  • an explanation of the potential for the information to be disclosed to another by the recipient and no longer be protected

Although these authorization rules may be followed by an attorney’s office, it does not guarantee cooperation from health care providers. Any attorney, or support staff, who has attempted to gather a client’s medical documentation to prove his case has undoubtedly heard the phrase “HIPAA” countless times, as a rebuttal to providing documentation.

Some may say that the Privacy Rule has empowered patients to have more control over their health information. However, the way the Privacy Rule functions in the attorney-client context is anything but empowering, because clients who want their attorneys to have unlimited access to their health information are burdened by the barriers their health providers place on the collection of this important information. Fear of penalties, misunderstanding of the Privacy Rule, and possibly a general dislike of the legal profession may all contribute to the apprehensiveness or unwillingness of certain health care providers to assist a law office with the development of a client/patient’s case. Whatever the rationale may be, this lack of cooperation can disadvantage a client’s case by delaying the receipt of essential evidence.

One example of how this lack of cooperation can disadvantage a client’s case occurred when our office was attempting to gather medical records from a hospital for a Social Security Disability case. These records illustrated when and how our client began suffering from auditory hallucinations, paranoia, and depression. The client spent a week at the hospital in an attempt to stabilize her psychiatric symptoms. These records were imperative for proving to the administrative law judge that this client was no longer able to work due to the onset of her mental conditions.

Our office went through the standard process of calling the hospital to inquire as to where to send a request for medical records. We prepared a detailed request and sent it to the medical records department along with a HIPAA compliant authorization that we had our client review and sign. In response to this request, the medical records department refused to accept our authorization and informed us that a hospital authorization would need to be completed by the patient (even though it is extremely difficult to even get this client to answer her telephone, let alone fill out more paperwork). The client also had a disability advocate, who in the meantime hand delivered a request for medical records. When she followed up with her request, she was informed that there was no record of such a request.

Our office continued to attempt to receive these much-needed records. We made sure all of the requested paperwork was completed and sent another request for medical records to the medical records department. We called their office daily to ensure that our second request was received and responded to. When we finally were told that it was received, we were informed that we were missing the required hospital authorization. We explained that the requested authorization was enclosed and that now the hearing was quickly approaching, so we needed their assistance with this matter. We spoke with the supervisor who could not assist us further because of “HIPAA”. The department would not expedite the process in any way and their only suggestion was to resend everything again and then wait to see what happens.

Since we had our client’s interest in mind and wanted to make sure the judge had ample time to review these important medical records prior to the hearing, we were forced to go beyond the medical records staff and talk to hospital administration. After several telephone calls and letters, we were able to set up a time to pick up these medical records. We were glad we went through all of the trouble of obtaining this documentation because we ultimately won the case for the client and these records assisted us in proving the elements of her case. However, our office was forced to spend a great amount of time and energy conducting the seemingly simple task of gathering a client’s medical records. This type of delay obviously can have a negative financial impact on a client and could be extremely detrimental to a client’s case. Unfortunately, this hospital staff’s behavior is just one example of how some health care providers function under the guise of protecting patient privacy.

Although it would be ideal for patients to be able to gather their medical information without the assistance of an attorney, often times it is necessary for an attorney to handle this part of the legal process on behalf of their clients (e.g., handling disability cases where a client has difficulty remembering tasks or physically visiting a doctor’s office).

Attorneys are required to provide diligent representation to their clients and need the cooperation of health care providers to meet this obligation. Although the protection of patient privacy is clearly an important goal, in practice it appears that the real world application of HIPAA’s Privacy Rule is more of a burden on clients and their counsel than a protection of clients’ rights.

By: Samantha Bogin, Esquire and published on July 10, 2006 in The Legal Intelligencer.

I Was America’s First ‘Nonbinary’ Person. It Was All a Sham.

Four years ago, I wrote about my decision to live as a woman in The New York Times, writing that I had wanted to live “authentically as the woman that I have always been,” and had “effectively traded my white male privilege to become one of America’s most hated minorities.”

Three years ago, I decided that I was neither male nor female, but nonbinary—and made headlines after an Oregon judge agreed to let me identify as a third sex, not male or female.

Now, I want to live again as the man that I am.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Despite participating in medical transgenderism for six years, my body is still intact. Most people who desist from transgender identities after gender changes can’t say the same.

But that’s not to say I got off scot-free. My psyche is eternally scarred, and I’ve got a host of health issues from the grand medical experiment.

Here’s how things began.

After convincing myself that I was a woman during a severe mental health crisis, I visited a licensed nurse practitioner in early 2013 and asked for a hormone prescription. “If you don’t give me the drugs, I’ll buy them off the internet,” I threatened.

Although she’d never met me before, the nurse phoned in a prescription for 2 mg of oral estrogen and 200 mg of Spironolactone that very same day.

The nurse practitioner ignored that I have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, having previously served in the military for almost 18 years. All of my doctors agree on that. Others believe that I have bipolar disorder and possibly borderline personality disorder.

I should have been stopped, but out-of-control, transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.

I’d learned how to become a female from online medical documents at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital website.

After I began consuming the cross-sex hormones, I started therapy at a gender clinic in Pittsburgh so that I could get people to sign off on the transgender surgeries I planned to have.

All I needed to do was switch over my hormone operating fuel and get my penis turned into a vagina. Then I’d be the same as any other woman. That’s the fantasy the transgender community sold me. It’s the lie I bought into and believed.

Only one therapist tried to stop me from crawling into this smoking rabbit hole. When she did, I not only fired her, I filed a formal complaint against her. “She’s a gatekeeper,” the trans community said.

I should have been stopped, but out-of-control, transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.

Professional stigmatisms against “conversion therapy” had made it impossible for the therapist to question my motives for wanting to change my sex.

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (Fifth Edition) says one of the traits of gender dysphoria is believing that you possess the stereotypical feelings of the opposite sex. I felt that about myself, but yet no therapist discussed it with me.

Two weeks hadn’t passed before I found a replacement therapist. The new one quickly affirmed my identity as a woman. I was back on the road to getting vaginoplasty.

There’s abundant online literature informing transgender people that their sex change isn’t real. But when a licensed medical doctor writes you a letter essentially stating that you were born in the wrong body and a government agency or court of law validates that delusion, you become damaged and confused. I certainly did.

Painful Roots

My trauma history resembles a ride down the Highway of Death during the first Gulf War.

As a child, I was sexually abused by a male relative. My parents severely beat me. At this point, I’ve been exposed to so much violence and had so many close calls that I don’t know how to explain why I’m still alive. Nor do I know how to mentally process some of the things I’ve seen and experienced.

Dr. Ray Blanchard has an unpopular theory that explains why someone like me may have been drawn to transgenderism. He claims there are two types of transgender women: homosexuals that are attracted to men, and men who are attracted to the thought or image of themselves as females.

It’s a tough thing to admit, but I belong to the latter group. We are classified as having autogynephilia.

After having watched pornography for years while in the Army and being married to a woman who resisted my demands to become the ideal female, I became that female instead. At least in my head.

While autogynephilia was my motivation to become a woman, gender stereotypes were my means of implementation. I believed wearing a long wig, dresses, heels, and makeup would make me a woman.

Feminists begged to differ on that. They rejected me for conforming to female stereotypes. But as a new member of the transgender community, I beat up on them too. The women who become men don’t fight the transgender community’s wars. The men in dresses do.

Medical Malpractice

The best thing that could have happened would have been for someone to order intensive therapy. That would have protected me from my inclination to cross-dress and my risky sexual transgressions, of which there were many.

Instead, quacks in the medical community hid me in the women’s bathroom with people’s wives and daughters. “Your gender identity is female,” these alleged professionals said.

Trans men are winning in medicine, and they’ve won the battle for language.

The medical community is so afraid of the trans community that they’re now afraid to give someone Blanchard’s diagnosis. Trans men are winning in medicine, and they’ve won the battle for language.

Think of the word “transvestite.” They’ve succeeded in making it a vulgar word, even though it just means men dressing like women. People are no longer allowed to tell the truth about men like me. Everyone now has to call us transgender instead.

The diagnostic code in my records at the VA should read Transvestic Disorder (302.3). Instead, the novel theories of Judith Butler and Anne Fausto-Sterling have been used to cover up the truths written about by Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey, and Alice Dreger.

I confess to having been motivated by autogynephilia during all of this. Blanchard was right.

Trauma, hypersexuality owing to childhood sexual abuse, and autogynephilia are all supposed to be red flags for those involved in the medical arts of psychology, psychiatry, and physical medicine—yet nobody except for the one therapist in Pittsburgh ever tried to stop me from changing my sex. They just kept helping me to harm myself.

Escaping to ‘Nonbinary’

Three years into my gender change from male to female, I looked hard into the mirror one day. When I did, the facade of femininity and womanhood crumbled.

Despite having taken or been injected with every hormone and antiandrogen concoction in the VA’s medical arsenal, I didn’t look anything like a female. People on the street agreed. Their harsh stares reflected the reality behind my fraudulent existence as a woman. Biological sex is immutable.

It took three years for that reality to set in with me.

When the fantasy of being a woman came to an end, I asked two of my doctors to allow me to become nonbinary instead of female to bail me out. Both readily agreed.

After pumping me full of hormones—the equivalent of 20 birth control pills per day—they each wrote a sex change letter. The two weren’t just bailing me out. They were getting themselves off the hook for my failed sex change. One worked at the VA. The other worked at Oregon Health & Science University.

To escape the delusion of having become a woman, I did something completely unprecedented in American history. In 2016, I convinced an Oregon judge to declare my sex to be nonbinary—neither male nor female.

In my psychotic mind, I had restored the mythical third sex to North America. And I became the first legally recognized nonbinary person in the country.

Celebrity Status

The landmark court decision catapulted me to instant fame within the LGBT community. For 10 nonstop days afterward, the media didn’t let me sleep. Reporters hung out in my Facebook feed, journalists clung to my every word, and a Portland television station beamed my wife and I into living rooms in the United Kingdom.

Becoming a woman had gotten me into The New York Times. Convincing a judge that my sex was nonbinary got my photos and story into publications around the world.

Then, before the judge’s ink had even dried on my Oregon sex change court order, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT legal aid organization contacted me. “We want to help you change your birth certificate,” they offered.

Within months, I scored another historic win after the Department of Vital Records issued me a brand new birth certificate from Washington, D.C., where I was born. A local group called Whitman-Walker Health had gotten my sex designation on my birth certificate switched to “unknown.” It was the first time in D.C. history a birth certificate had been printed with a sex marker other than male or female.

Another transgender legal aid organization jumped on the Jamie Shupe bandwagon, too. Lambda Legal used my nonbinary court order to help convince a Colorado federal judge to order the State Department to issue a passport with an X marker (meaning nonbinary) to a separate plaintiff named Dana Zzyym.

LGBT organizations helping me to screw up my life had become a common theme. During my prior sex change to female, the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund had gotten my name legally changed. I didn’t like being named after the uncle who’d molested me. Instead of getting me therapy for that, they got me a new name.

A Pennsylvania judge didn’t question the name change, either. Wanting to help a transgender person, she had not only changed my name, but at my request she also sealed the court order, allowing me to skip out on a ton of debt I owed because of a failed home purchase and begin my new life as a woman. Instead of merging my file, two of the three credit bureaus issued me a brand new line of credit.

Walking Away From Fiction

It wasn’t until I came out against the sterilization and mutilation of gender-confused children and transgender military service members in 2017 that LGBT organizations stopped helping me. Most of the media retreated with them.

Overnight, I went from being a liberal media darling to a conservative pariah.

Both groups quickly began to realize that the transgender community had a runaway on their hands. Their solution was to completely ignore me and what my story had become. They also stopped acknowledging that I was behind the nonbinary option that now exists in 11 states.

The truth is that my sex change to nonbinary was a medical and scientific fraud. Consider the fact that before the historic court hearing occurred, my lawyer informed me that the judge had a transgender child.

I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.

Sure enough, the morning of my brief court hearing, the judge didn’t ask me a single question. Nor did this officer of the court demand to see any medical evidence alleging that I was born something magical. Within minutes, the judge just signed off on the court order.

I do not have any disorders of sexual development. All of my sexual confusion was in my head. I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.

The carnage that came from my court victory is just as precedent-setting as the decision itself. The judge’s order led to millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to put an X marker on driver’s licenses in 11 states so far. You can now become male, female, or nonbinary in all of them.

In my opinion, the judge in my case should have recused herself. In doing so, she would have spared me the ordeal still yet to come. She also would have saved me from having to bear the weight of the big secret behind my win.

I now believe that she wasn’t just validating my transgender identity. She was advancing her child’s transgender identity, too.

A sensible magistrate would have politely told me no and refused to sign such an outlandish legal request. “Gender is just a concept. Biological sex defines all of us,” that person would have said.

In January 2019, unable to advance the fraud for another single day, I reclaimed my male birth sex. The weight of the lie on my conscience was heavier than the value of the fame I’d gained from participating in this elaborate swindle.

Two fake gender identities couldn’t hide the truth of my biological reality. There is no third gender or third sex. Like me, intersex people are either male or female. Their condition is the result of a disorder of sexual development, and they need help and compassion.

I played my part in pushing forward this grand illusion. I’m not the victim here. My wife, daughter, and the American taxpayers are—they are the real victims.

by James Shupe published on March 10, 2019 in The Daily Signal and can be found here.

Members of previous generations now seem like giants — When did we become so small?

Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks.

Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forbearers’ monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?

Californians tried to build a high-speed rail line. But after more than a decade of government incompetence, lawsuits, cost overruns and constant bureaucratic squabbling, they have all but given up. The result is a half-built overpass over the skyline of Fresno — and not yet a foot of track laid.

Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system?

California’s roads now are mostly the same as we inherited them, although the state population has tripled. We have added little to our freeway network, either because we forgot how to build good roads or would prefer to spend the money on redistributive entitlements.

When California had to replace a quarter section of the earthquake-damaged San Francisco Bay Bridge, it turned into a near-disaster, with 11 years of acrimony, fighting, cost overruns — and a commentary on our decline into Dark Ages primitivism. Yet 82 years ago, our ancestors built four times the length of our singe replacement span in less than four years. It took them just two years to design the entire Bay Bridge and award the contracts.

Our generation required five years just to plan to replace a single section. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we spent six times the money on one-quarter of the length of the bridge and required 13 agencies to grant approval. In 1936, just one agency oversaw the entire bridge project.

California has not built a major dam in 40 years. Instead, officials squabble over the water stored and distributed by our ancestors, who designed the California State Water Project and Central Valley Project.

Contemporary Californians would have little food or water without these massive transfers, and yet they often ignore or damn the generation that built the very system that saves us.

America went to the moon in 1969 with supposedly primitive computers and backward engineering. Does anyone believe we could launch a similar moonshot today? No American has set foot on the moon in the last 47 years, and it may not happen in the next 50 years.

Hollywood once gave us blockbuster epics, brilliant Westerns, great film noirs, and classic comedies. Now it endlessly turns out comic-book superhero films or pathetic remakes of prior classics.

Our writers, directors and actors have lost the skills of their ancestors. But they are also cowardly, and in regimented fashion they simply parrot boring race, class and gender bromides that are neither interesting nor funny. Does anyone believe that the Oscar ceremonies are more engaging and dignified than in the past?

We have been fighting in Afghanistan without result for 18 years. Our forefathers helped to win World War II and defeat the Axis Powers in four years.

In terms of learning, does anyone believe that a college graduate in 2020 will know half the information of a 1950 graduate?

In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable? Could today’s high-school graduate even finish “The Good Earth” or “The Grapes of Wrath”?

True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.

Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: “Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?”

In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

By Victor Davis Hanson and published on October 10, 2019 and can be found here.

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising transcendence and community, but failing to deliver.

In his 1930 essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century, creating the equivalent of a five-day weekend. “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem,” Keynes wrote, “how to occupy the leisure.”

This became a popular view. In a 1957 article in The New York Times, the writer Erik Barnouw predicted that, as work became easier, our identity would be defined by our hobbies, or our family life. “The increasingly automatic nature of many jobs, coupled with the shortening work week [leads] an increasing number of workers to look not to work but to leisure for satisfaction, meaning, expression,” he wrote.

1.             THE GOSPEL OF WORK

The decline of traditional faith in America has coincided with an explosion of new atheisms. Some people worship beauty, some worship political identities, and others worship their children. But everybody worships something. And workism is among the most potent of the new religions competing for congregants.

What is workism? It is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.

Homo industrious is not new to the American landscape. The American dream—that hoary mythology that hard work always guarantees upward mobility—has for more than a century made the U.S. obsessed with material success and the exhaustive striving required to earn it.

No large country in the world as productive as the United States averages more hours of work a year. And the gap between the U.S. and other countries is growing. Between 1950 and 2012, annual hours worked per employee fell by about 40 percent in Germany and the Netherlands—but by only 10 percent in the United States. Americans “work longer hours, have shorter vacations, get less in unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits, and retire later, than people in comparably rich societies,” wrote Samuel P. Huntington in his 2005 book Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity.

One group has led the widening of the workist gap: rich men.

In 1980, the highest-earning men actually worked fewer hours per week than middle-class and low-income men, according to a survey by the Minneapolis Fed. But that’s changed. By 2005, the richest 10 percent of married men had the longest average workweek. In that same time, college-educated men reduced their leisure time more than any other group. Today, it is fair to say that elite American men have transformed themselves into the world’s premier workaholics, toiling longer hours than both poorer men in the U.S. and rich men in similarly rich countries.

This shift defies economic logic—and economic history. The rich have always worked less than the poor, because they could afford to. The landed gentry of preindustrial Europe dined, danced, and gossiped, while serfs toiled without end. In the early 20th century, rich Americans used their ample downtime to buy weekly movie tickets and dabble in sports. Today’s rich American men can afford vastly more downtime. But they have used their wealth to buy the strangest of prizes: more work!

Workism may have started with rich men, but the ethos is spreading—across gender and age. In a 2018 paper on elite universities, researchers found that for women, the most important benefit of attending a selective college isn’t higher wages, but more hours at the office. In other words, our elite institutions are minting coed workists. What’s more, in a recent Pew Research report on the epidemic of youth anxiety, 95 percent of teens said “having a job or career they enjoy” would be “extremely or very important” to them as an adult. This ranked higher than any other priority, including “helping other people who are in need” (81 percent) or getting married (47 percent). Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s young people.

Even as Americans worship workism, its leaders consecrate it from the marble daises of Congress and enshrine it in law. Most advanced countries give new parents paid leave; but the United States guarantees no such thing. Many advanced countries ease the burden of parenthood with national policies; but U.S. public spending on child care and early education is near the bottom of international rankings. In most advanced countries, citizens are guaranteed access to health care by their government; but the majority of insured Americans get health care through—where else?—their workplace. Automation and AI may soon threaten the labor force, but America’s welfare system has become more work-based in the past 20 years. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which replaced much of the existing welfare system with programs that made benefits contingent on the recipient’s employment.

The religion of work isn’t just a cultist feature of America’s elite. It’s also the law.

Here’s a fair question: Is there anything wrong with hard, even obsessive, work?

Humankind has not yet invented itself out of labor. Machine intelligence isn’t ready to run the world’s factories, or care for the sick. In every advanced economy, most prime-age people who can work do—and in poorer countries, the average workweek is even longer than in the United States. Without work, including nonsalaried labor like raising a child, most people tend to feel miserable. Some evidence suggests that long-term unemployment is even more wrenching than losing a loved one, since the absence of an engaging distraction removes the very thing that tends to provide solace to mourners in the first place.

In the past century, the American conception of work has shifted from jobs to careers to callings—from necessity to status to meaning. In an agrarian or early-manufacturing economy, where tens of millions of people perform similar routinized tasks, there are no delusions about the higher purpose of, say, planting corn or screwing bolts: It’s just a job.The rise of the professional class and corporate bureaucracies in the early 20th century created the modern journey of a career, a narrative arc bending toward a set of precious initials: VP, SVP, CEO. The upshot is that for today’s workists, anything short of finding one’s vocational soul mate means a wasted life.

“We’ve created this idea that the meaning of life should be found in work,” says Oren Cass, the author of the book The Once and Future Worker. “We tell young people that their work should be their passion. ‘Don’t give up until you find a job that you love!’ we say. ‘You should be changing the world!’ we tell them. That is the message in commencement addresses, in pop culture, and frankly, in media, including The Atlantic.”

But our desks were never meant to be our altars. The modern labor force evolved to serve the needs of consumers and capitalists, not to satisfy tens of millions of people seeking transcendence at the office. It’s hard to self-actualize on the job if you’re a cashier—one of the most common occupations in the U.S.—and even the best white-collar roles have long periods of stasis, boredom, or busywork. This mismatch between expectations and reality is a recipe for severe disappointment, if not outright misery, and it might explain why rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S. are “substantially higher” than they were in the 1980s, according to a 2014 study.

One of the benefits of being an observant Christian, Muslim, or Zoroastrian is that these God-fearing worshippers put their faith in an intangible and unfalsifiable force of goodness. But work is tangible, and success is often falsified. To make either the centerpiece of one’s life is to place one’s esteem in the mercurial hands of the market. To be a workist is to worship a god with firing power.

2.             THE MILLENNIAL WORKIST

The Millennial generation—born in the past two decades of the 20th century—came of age in the roaring 1990s, when workism coursed through the veins of American society. On the West Coast, the modern tech sector emerged, minting millionaires who combined utopian dreams with a do-what-you-love ethos. On the East Coast, President Clinton grabbed the neoliberal baton from Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and signed laws that made work the nucleus of welfare policy.

While it’s inadvisable to paint 85 million people with the same brush, it’s fair to say that American Millennials have been collectively defined by two external traumas. The first is student debt. Millennials are the most educated generation ever, a distinction that should have made them rich and secure. But rising educational attainment has come at a steep price. Since 2007, outstanding student debt has grown by almost $1 trillion, roughly tripling in just 12 years. And since the economy cratered in 2008, average wages for young graduates have stagnated—making it even harder to pay off loans.The second external trauma of the Millennial generation has been the disturbance of social media, which has amplified the pressure to craft an image of success—for oneself, for one’s friends and colleagues, and even for one’s parents. But literally visualizing career success can be difficult in a services and information economy. Blue-collar jobs produce tangible products, like coal, steel rods, and houses. The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

Since the physical world leaves few traces of achievement, today’s workers turn to social media to make manifest their accomplishments. Many of them spend hours crafting a separate reality of stress-free smiles, postcard vistas, and Edison-lightbulbed working spaces. “The social media feed [is] evidence of the fruits of hard, rewarding labor and the labor itself,” Petersen writes.

Among Millennial workers, it seems, overwork and “burnout” are outwardly celebrated (even if, one suspects, they’re inwardly mourned). In a recent New York Times essay, “Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?,” the reporter Erin Griffith pays a visit to the co-working space WeWork, where the pillows urge do what you love, and the neon signs implore workers to hustle harder. These dicta resonate with young workers. As several studies show, Millennials are meaning junkies at work. “Like all employees,” one Gallupsurvey concluded, “millennials care about their income. But for this generation, a job is about more than a paycheck, it’s about a purpose.”

The problem with this gospel—Your dream job is out there, so never stop hustling—is that it’s a blueprint for spiritual and physical exhaustion. Long hours don’t make anybody more productive or creative; they make people stressed, tired and bitter. But the overwork myths survive “because they justify the extreme wealth created for a small group of elite techies,” Griffith writes.

3.             TIME FOR HAPPINESSThis is the right time for a confession. I am the very thing that I am criticizing.

I am devoted to my job. I feel most myself when I am fulfilled by my work—including the work of writing an essay about work. My sense of identity is so bound up in my job, my sense of accomplishment, and my feeling of productivity that bouts of writer’s block can send me into an existential funk that can spill over into every part of my life. And I know enough writers, tech workers, marketers, artists, and entrepreneurs to know that my affliction is common, especially within a certain tranche of the white-collar workforce.

Some workists, moreover, seem deeply fulfilled. These happy few tend to be intrinsically motivated; they don’t need to share daily evidence of their accomplishments. But maintaining the purity of internal motivations is harder in a world where social media and mass media are so adamant about externalizing all markers of success. There’s Forbes’ list of this, and Fortune’s list of that; and every Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn profile is conspicuously marked with the metrics of accomplishment—followers, friends, viewers, retweets—that inject all communication with the features of competition. It may be getting harder each year for purely motivated and sincerely happy workers to opt out of the tournament of labor swirling around them.

Workism offers a perilous trade-off. On the one hand, Americans’ high regard for hard work may be responsible for its special place in world history and its reputation as the global capital of start-up success. A culture that worships the pursuit of extreme success will likely produce some of it. But extreme success is a falsifiable god, which rejects the vast majority of its worshippers. Our jobs were never meant to shoulder the burdens of a faith, and they are buckling under the weight. A staggering 87 percent of employees are not engaged at their job, according to Gallup. That number is rising by the year.

One solution to this epidemic of disengagement would be to make work less awful. But maybe the better prescription is to make work less central.

This can start with public policy. There is new enthusiasm for universal policies—like universal basic income, parental leave, subsidized child care, and a child allowance—which would make long working hours less necessary for all Americans. These changes alone might not be enough to reduce Americans’ devotion to work for work’s sake, since it’s the rich who are most devoted. But they would spare the vast majority of the public from the pathological workaholism that grips today’s elites, and perhaps create a bottom-up movement to displace work as the centerpiece of the secular American identity.

How quaint that sounds. But it’s the same perspective that inspired the economist John Maynard Keynes to predict in 1930 that Americans would eventually have five-day weekends, rather than five-day weeks. It is the belief—the faith, even—that work is not life’s product, but its currency. What we choose to buy with it is the ultimate project of living.
By Derek Thompson and published on February 24, 2019 in The Atlantic and can be found here.

Metrically Woke

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Splice Today by my old philosophy professor Dr. Crispin Sartwell from back in my Penn State days which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

________________

Perhaps Brexit was inevitable as soon as they started confiscating butchers’ scales.

The battle between metric and “imperial” or “customary” measurement, recently taken up again by “anti-metrite” pundits James Panero and Tucker Carlson, shows there’s a real world apart from our representations of it. It all makes no sense, of course, unless there’s stuff in the world—liquids, for example, or the distances between this and that—that can be measured in various ways without being altered by the measurement.

That metric and imperial are convertible into one another, in other words, presupposes that there are real facts outside of our heads and cultural practices. That might cause consternation among postmodernists, narrativists, Absolute Idealists, social constructionists, and phenomenologists everywhere, showing them to be trapped in a world they never made. Deep in their hearts, they already know they are.

On the other hand, even though they don’t create worlds, things like systems of measurement do reflect and shape us. They alter rulers, measuring cups, signage, and scales, for example. So though the recent resurgence of devotion to Fahrenheit, cups and gallons, yards and miles, pounds and ounces, bushels and pecks, makes no difference with regard to the nature of the world, it expresses something about us, about how we encounter the one reality we all inhabit, and about who we actually are and who we want to convince ourselves that we are.

In that sense, I assert that metric, as a system for measuring all things, yields an unfortunate and in some sense misleading way of experiencing the world. It represents a kind of wishful thinking.

One way to express my objections is in terms of aesthetics. Traditional measurements are eccentric and complexly interrelated, having emerged over centuries for various purposes. They are connected explicitly to the human body: the foot as a foot, the yard as a stride, and so forth. I might compare the picture of the world they yield to the paintings of Rembrandt: complex, human, uneven, with a light (not to be measured exhaustively in lumens) that both reveals and obscures.

We might think of the metric system, on the other hand, as more along the lines of neo-classicism like that of Jacques-Louis David or even minimalism a la Mondrian or Donald Judd: the result of a kind of brutal rationalization of experience that tries to make the world into a reflection of human logic or even to reduce the world to something immediately (and delusory) comprehensible. It’s an attempt to box the universe up and rake it with klieg lights, destroying all shadows.

Neither system, in short, is the exclusive truth, and neither is merely falsifying, though each might reveal things that the other conceals, particularly in the relation of the units of measurement to one another within each system. But the traditional measures yield a more beautiful and a richer experience, or rather—as things stand now—resist a brutal authoritarian simplification.

Any system of measurement is rationally arbitrary. The basic measures could be entirely different and no less reasonable or useful or true. For example, if the meter were 2.317 times as long as it is now, and the entire system of measures adjusted accordingly, the system as a whole would be no less accurate, no less rational (though no more), and no less useful. But the liter, the Celsius degree, the lumen are dedicated to the delusion that we can understand the world by reducing it to decimal notation, and are dedicated as well to producing the illusion that this complex, little-understood universe can be counted on your fingers.

There’s no particular relation of reality to a base-10 mathematics, as Panero points out. The world does not appear to us, or exist, in any relation at all to base-10 mathematics. If you gather up a thousand meters you get a kilometer: that bears no more relation to reality in itself than 5280 feet to the mile, or a base-12 system of inches and feet. Or I might assay the position that the 10x100x1000 system bears less relation to reality than more seemingly arbitrary systems, because the world is infinitely complex and by and large not symmetrical.

The metric system is dedicated above all to disguising its own irrational basis. And people have used it to demand this merely-apparent reasonableness from ourselves, and to force the world to reflect it. Perhaps it’s somewhat easier to learn and master than some other systems, but children ultimately do fine with whatever system they learn.

The traditional measures yield a more beautiful, subtle, more complex and richer experience of the one reality that both systems weigh or seek to describe. If so, they also yield a more truthful system, not because the metric system does not describe reality, but because it induces the delusion of comprehension, or seems to promise a fully comprehensible world, which is the kind of thing no system of measurement can deliver. And it encourages the self-delusion of people—such as the government officials who enforce it—who regard themselves as more rational than the people on whom it is enforced.

For the metric system, ironically, has become extremely imperialistic. Many people think it’s obvious that it should be imposed on every society, including American and British society, by law. Indeed, it has already been imposed in the UK as a condition of entry into the EU. This is a sort of representational colonialism; it asserts that everyone must measure the world, must represent and experience it, in the same way. That is of the essence of oppression. And the assertion of universal rationality underlying it is politically problematic, and also false.

As a condition of the UK integrating into the EU, it was required to demonstrate the essence of the metric system: enforcement and capitulation. Measurement police started confiscating scales marked in pounds and ounces. I recall the response of one British butcher back around 2000: “They better bring big men.” They did. Perhaps Brexit was inevitable from that moment. The Independent, reporting that butchers are beginning to measure in lbs again, quotes the UK Metric Association (whatever that is exactly) describing its preferred measures as “powerful and wide-ranging, a world standard and a proper system.” A proper system to be enforced upon an improper universe and unsystematic persons.

The French revolutionaries who, in a kind of Enlightenment ecstasy, first imposed the system, thought of themselves as overcoming a God-and-tradition-ridden ignorance, as emerging finally from the Dark Ages. They were merely deluded: about the nature of the world, but above all about the nature of themselves.

By Crispin Sartwell and published on June 24, 2019 and can be found here.

Mansplaining Mansplanation

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Splice Today by my old philosophy professor Dr. Crispin Sartwell from back in my Penn State days which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

________________

Please have a little himpathy.

Allow me to mansplain the international situation to you in broad strokes. I’ve really got a lot to say, as I range from Caracas to the Uighur regions of western China, Rodrigo Duterte to Amy Klobuchar, UFOs to polar bears, quantum mechanics to tornadoes, Game of Thrones to the Women’s World Cup. You may assert with some accuracy that my base of knowledge on these matters is thin. Nevertheless, my certainty about them and much else is impressive, especially to me.

I am all man, and have enough pride and self-confidence to make pronouncements about almost anything. And I make those pronouncements in a rich baritone voice that seems to be construed by people like you, among others, as emanating authority, no matter what I’m actually saying. I’m grateful for this, and would hate to see it end. But now campus feminists have identified mansplanation as a central dimension of patriarchal oppression.

Mansplanation is all I have left, really. Please, leave me this last soiled vestige of dignity. Have a little himpathy. Perhaps I offer valuable insights, perhaps not. Either way, I’m going to mansplain some stuff to you. I can’t help it, really, and to reach the point of being a quasi-effective mansplainer was hard work; I had to spend long minutes gathering up certainties and formulating the sort of dogmata that, according to me, cannot rationally be gainsaid.

Hearing myself talk, I sometimes sound awfully certain to myself. Reaching the point where I could convey that impression effectively took some doing. My status as a mansplainer is an achievement, in other words, perhaps my only one.

If you knew me well, you’d know that my mansplanatory tone is probably the least problematic thing about me, all in all. So I express myself mansplanatorily. So what, really? At worst, it’s liable to be kind of irritating. And at best the manformation I am providing is himformative. Now perhaps certain phenomena, even mansplainability itself, will remain forever unmansplainable, or possibly inmansplicable, but you never know until you try, and you’re never really done until you admit defeat, which a real man such as myself never does.

Perhaps people of all kinds can learn the art of mansplanation. I can teach you, but I’ll have to charge. Meanwhile if you run into me and I’m pontificating about Hindu nationalism or vaccinations, just mansplain some stuff right back at me, or ’splain with whatever prefix you care to use as you drive your point relentlessly home.

If it’s any comfort to you, I’ll probably lapse into silence, eventually. I’d like to be the sort of mansplainer who knows when the time for mansplanations is over, though members of my gender of my age are notoriously bad at noticing things like that. And look, sweetie. If you weren’t so entirely ignorant, I wouldn’t have to mansplain this stuff to you, would I?

I remark in conclusion that there are also a couple of very big reasons for manspreading, which at some point soon I will share with America. The international situation, meanwhile, is very much a mixed bag.

This article can be found here.

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