Jul 24

Digby on Clinton’s VP Pick: Tim Kaine

Digby on Tim Kaine for VPTim Kaine has a somewhat centrist history on banking and trade which is worrisome to progressives for whom these issues are their litmus tests. So, in these particulars, Kaine isn’t a particularly progressive choice.

But he’s very good on war, civil liberties, gun proliferation, criminal justice, healthcare, civil rights, and immigration among other things. The fact that he speaks perfect Spanish, which he learned serving in Honduras, is meaningful to Latinos.

Clinton is trying to run as an experienced, competent, rational, decent mainstream leader of a team of experienced, competent, rational, decent mainstream public servant in contrast to Donald Trump: the con artist who wants to blow up the world. I don’t know that policy is even the point, but to the extent it is, they are running under the most progressive platform in history (thank you Bernie), which just shows how far the coalition has come since the day Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman, one of the most depressing days of my life.

—Heather Digby Parton
So, Tim Kaine

Jul 24

American Gothic and the Meaning of Art

American GothicMany of you know my special weakness. Because of my intellectual pride, I cannot stop myself from clicking on a link such as, 7 Pop Culture Classics That Don’t Mean What You Think. Is that so? Well, I’ll just have to see. And, of course, in my effort to show how knowledgeable I am, I am just like all the other fish who got hooked.

I wouldn’t have clicked on this link, because I don’t know much about pop culture. But it went along an image of American Gothic. And since I went slightly crazy about the painter Grant Wood for a couple of weeks, I kinda doubted that the article would surprise me. But I was kind of confused as to what anyone was supposed to think that American Gothic meant.

On Wood’s birthday two years ago, I wrote:

He is best known for the painting American Gothic. I think it is a remarkable painting just because of its composition. Thematically, no one seems to really agree about it. Some have claimed that it is satire about American repression, and others think it is a celebration of American hard work. I side more with the satire crowd. Wood, of course, was satirizing nothing.

My point was, as I have made many times before, that artists don’t define the meaning of their works — those who experience them do. And look at this Google Images search of Wood’s work. Does it seem like Wood was doing anything other than bringing together a few different American artistic trends and creating something all his own? Not to me.

I Never Knew!

So what is it that I didn’t know? “The American Gothic Painting Is Mocking Farmers.” But even the writer can’t hold onto that claim. After explaining how it is all about mocking farmers, the article says:

On the other hand, Grant Wood was a born-and-bred Iowan who, prior to painting American Gothic, spent more than six years studying art in Europe. That’s enough time to make anyone nostalgic for their childhood home, even if that home was a desolate hellscape. So, although Wood eventually poked fun at it, it’s not hard to imagine that, during his travels, he developed a loving appreciation for his people’s fortitude.

This gets back to this idea that the artist decides what the work means. This is one of the reasons that I’m not all that interested in American Gothic. It’s been so parodied that it is really hard to get past other people’s ideas about it and see it with fresh eyes. It’s easier to see his other work, and that’s where I see more clearly what he was doing. The fact that the artist would have gotten tired of this one painting and mocked it, is not surprising.

The Artist Does Not Know All

But the article is filled with this kind of “artist knows all” nonsense. There’s a Pearl Jam song that means whatever because the writer said so in an interview. Well, that’s fine. But I know with my own work that what I say it means changes over time. Apparently, Tolkien didn’t like people thinking Lord of the Rings was a World War II allegory. Okay. I think it is kind of silly myself. But who cares? I’d still be interested in reading a thoughtful discussion of the subject.

Moving on, you’ll learn Uncle Tom isn’t a coward, which you would only have thought if you took the book entirely out of context. You’ll also learn that “‘The Road Not Taken’ Is Robert Frost Making Fun Of His Friend.” This is based upon something Frost once said. Except that he said other things at different times. But again, who cares? “The Road Not Taken” is much like American Gothic in being so soiled by others’ opinions that I can’t really find any meaning in it because there is too much meaning piled on top of it.

Meaning Is Not Static

I love dealing with the meaning of artistic works. One of my articles, The Meaning of Marlene on the Wall, is one of my most popular articles. In it, I provide a detailed meaning of the song. But it is my meaning — based on a close analysis of the song. It isn’t the final word on the subject.

And how awful it would be if it were! I was talking to a (very open-minded) Christian friend of mine the other day about how heaven could never be a place where all the secrets of the universe were explained. That, in fact, would be hell. It’s the questions that make life interesting. Ultimately, American Gothic is just a bunch of oil paint applied to beaverboard. It’s meaning transcends that, of course. But it also transcends what any given person or group thinks it means.

Two years ago, I wrote that I tended to see the painting as satire. Today, I don’t really see it that way. I see the painting as kind of sad — two people living the Schopenhauerian dream: getting through today so they can get through tomorrow. But as usual, that says more about me than it does the painting.

Afterword

For the record, the painting is staged. The man is Grant Wood’s dentist, who was in his early 60s at the time and lived into his 80s. And the woman is Wood’s sister, who was about 30 and lived to be 91 years old. She died three years after I got on the internet.

Jul 23

Poetry: Pieces of a Man

Pieces of a ManJagged jigsaw pieces
Tossed about the room,
I saw my grandma sweeping
With her old straw broom.
But she didn’t know what she was doing.
She could hardly understand,
That she was really sweeping up
Pieces of a man.

I saw my daddy meet the mailman.
And I heard the mailman say,
“Now don’t you take this letter to hard now Jimmy,
Cause they’ve laid off nine others today.”
But he didn’t know what he was saying.
He could hardly understand
That he was only talking to
Pieces of a man.

I saw the thunder and heard the lightning,
And felt the burden of his shame.
And for some unknown reason,
He never turned my way!

Pieces of that letter
Were tossed about that room.
And now I hear the sound of sirens
Come knifing through the gloom.
But they don’t know what they are doing.
They could hardly understand
That they’re only arresting
Pieces of a man.

I saw him go to pieces!
I saw him go to pieces!
He was always such a good man!
He was always such a strong, strong man!
Yeah, I saw him go to pieces.
I saw him go to pieces.

—Gil Scott-Heron
Pieces of a Man

Jul 23

“Education Reform” and the Destruction of Meaning

The Face of Education ReformErik Loomis wrote an article a while back, The Rheeist Scam Goes Global. It’s about Michelle Rhee and the whole “education reform” movement. But I was taken by the cartoon he used, which showed men building a charter school by taking away materials from a close-by public school. I have always thought of “education reform” in terms of intent: the destruction of teacher unions. But until I looked at the cartoon (which is not making this point), I had never really thought about what will be the result of “education reform.”

I think we should be clear about those leading the “education reform” movement. As Deep Throat says in All the President’s Men, “These are not very bright guys.” They know they want to destroy unions. They know they want to turn education into some kind of a factory process. But after that, it’s all faith. It’s like the old Sidney Harris cartoon where the second step in a proof is, “Then a miracle occurs.” That’s the “education reform” movement all over. Step 1: destroy education as we know it. Step 2: then a miracle occurs. Step 3: all people grow up well educated and healthy.

What “Education Reform” Working Would Mean

But let’s give all these reformers the benefit of the doubt. They will change education into employment skills training. And we don’t end up with Idiocracy (which is a tedious film). We end up with something that looks more like the B F Skinner dystopia. It would be like Modern Times but with everyone content doing their jobs because that’s all they would know. The search for meaning would be obsolete because everyone would know the meaning of their lives: to make the owners of Walmart rich.

But none of that would be so bad if it weren’t for the total disregard for everything educational outside what is useful for IBM and Apple.

It made me think of Babe: Pig in the City. More specifically: the most poignant scene in the film. It is when Babe and company free all the animals from the “jail.” Thelonius, the old orangutan, insists upon dressing before they leave, even though time is a factor. He has found a meaning in his life — and he’s too old to change. (He gets the best ending in the film, handing clothespins to Herself.) And I imagine myself that way at 80.

I suppose that all people feel this way to some extent as they grow older. But in general, things change for the better. “Education reform” is moving us in a rather worse direction — ignorantly, but quite deliberately. And for the most base of motives. I mean, who do you think is paying Jonathan Chait’s wife to “reform” education? It’s a bunch of super rich conservatives and neoliberals. How proud they must all be: destroying the very concept of childhood so that Microsoft and Facebook will have a well-trained workforce. It keeps wages down too!

Trivial Meaning

But none of that would be so bad if it weren’t for the total disregard for everything educational outside what is useful for IBM and Apple. You could force children to learn Scratch and still give them time to escape in literature and music and mud pie creation. Instead, what I see is 6 hours of school and 3 hours of mind-numbing homework. No time for novel reading, because reading is meant for technical manuals.

It isn’t like the meaning I find in life is perfect. It is distinctly imperfect and incomplete. But at least I know it is worth the search. I don’t like the idea of being my own version of Thelonius — stupidly looking for meaning when the product of decades of “education reform” has trained society to get with the program and sing the company song.

Jul 22

Cure Income Inequality: Income Mobility! Not So Fast!

Income MobilityAgainst a rising chorus of concern about increasing income inequality, some economists are pushing back, suggesting that it is not income inequality we should be concerned with but rather income mobility. Income mobility describes the ability of individuals to move up and down the income ladder over some period of time. As long as mobility is healthy, they argue, society can remain egalitarian in the face of inequality, because the poor can move up and the rich down.

Intuitively, some observers assume that higher income inequality should be correlated with decreased income mobility as the rich build a bigger lead on the rest of society. But there is little consensus about whether and how income mobility has changed. What little research does exist is inconsistent with regards to findings, methods, and data sources. Equitable Growth grantees Michael D Carr and Emily E Wiemers at the University of Massachusetts-Boston used a new dataset to revisit the measurement of earnings mobility, the part of income that comes from work. Their results suggest that lifetime earnings mobility has declined in recent years.

—Austin Clemens
New Analysis Shows It Is More Difficult for Workers to Move up the Income Ladder

Jul 22

Comparison of a Mixed Bruce Campbell Double Feature

Man with the Screaming Brain/Alien ApocalypseI bought the “2 times the Bruce” Man with the Screaming Brain/Alien Apocalypse DVD[1] and finally sat down and watched both. I’m not going to provide a review of them. I’m going to do a comparison. Because it is remarkable that despite the films being mostly identical, one works brilliantly and the other is almost unwatchable.

Both films were shot in Bulgaria for the Sci-Fi Channel. They are both, well, Bruce Campbell films. The screenplays are both sloppy. The action is at best silly if not just bad. And otherwise, they are competently executed television movies. In fact, I thought the camera work was pretty good and the lighting often excellent. And the editor of both, Shawn Paper, is a real pro who makes both films work better than they ought to. So why is Man with the Screaming Brain such a joy and Alien Apocalypse such a tiresome bore?

Alien Apocalypse

As longtime readers know, I have my preferences, but ultimately my interest is in whether a film works on its own terms. And Alien Apocalypse does not. It tries. It has its moments, although none come quickly to mind. The biggest problem is that the script (by writer-director Josh Becker) doesn’t even try to be clever or wacky or whatever that is that makes a Bruce Campbell film a Bruce Campbell film. It seems to just assume everyone will “get” it because he’s doing his thing.

The plot is so predictable that it actually tricked me once. There was a scene late in the film that implied that the reformed bad guy had turned. But for people who watch a lot of movies, well, it’s an obvious reversal — the time when the questionable guy saves the hero from someone you would have never suspected. But no. It turns out the bad guy does exactly what the most naive film-goer would think. In addition, the dialog is just awful.

Glasshouses and All

Interestingly, I heard just a couple of minutes of the commentary for the film. And all I heard was Becker complaining that the stunt men in Bulgaria really weren’t that good. That’s certainly true; but they were far more competent than he was as the writer of this film.

One technical aspect of Alien Apocalypse that was bothersome was the unbelievable amount of looping and off camera audio. It’s very much like watching a spaghetti western. But I’ll concede that I would have found this charming if the script hadn’t been so terrible.

Man with the Screaming Brain

Maybe it isn’t right to compare Alien Apocalypse to Man with the Screaming Brain. The former film did, apparently, have only half the budget. And it had to pay for a fair amount of special effects — both digital and practical. But the problem with the film is not its look. What makes Man with the Screaming Brain work is that it is a soup of lunacy.

Co-written and directed by Campbell himself, Man With the Screaming Brain revels in its senselessness. If you don’t like this sequence, you might like the next. It has the feel of a farce. Ted Raimi spends most of the film drinking Red Bull, waiting around to be in the right place to drag yet another dead body back to the lab. His character is tasked with finding the others, but he’s not much interested. When one character gets away on a bus, he doesn’t think to get in his van and follow it.

More Than Just Silly

Most of the film is like that. Yet it has momentum. And it is all setting up pieces of the plot for a denouement that is quite satisfying. What’s more, as Man with the Screaming Brain moves along, we learn more about the principle characters. They become more human, even as two dead people are combined into a single brain, and the female lead gets placed into a robot — all gloriously indifferent to the first word in “science fiction.”

(Note: one of the funniest conventions in science fiction films of the 1950s was to put in some kind of plausible-sounding scientific explanation. For example, there was some reason that Glenn’s heart is not growing at the same rate as the rest of his body in The Amazing Colossal Man. Like anyone cares! I mean: let’s have more scenes in the circus tent!)

One Works, One Doesn’t

I think that ultimately, Man with the Screaming Brain works because Campbell (and co-writer David Goodman) didn’t have that much confidence in Bruce Campbell the actor. And so they give him a bunch of things to do — like pour milk all over his head because he claims his brain is on fire. It’s actually because, well, it’s totally insane. And if you don’t like that scene, some different insanity is 30 seconds away.

Alien Apocalypse just gives us Bruce going up the mountain and Bruce coming down the mountain. He gives a couple of over-the-top speeches along the way. There is side material, but it is banal: the slaves act like slaves; then they see Campbell as a demigod. You can skimp on just about anything in a movie. But if you don’t start with a good script (or just one with a lot of good material), you’re lost.

But you should see Alien Apocalypse, because it is parodied in My Name Is Bruce.


[1] It shouldn’t amaze me, but it still does, when people selling movies seem to care not in the least about those movies. At Amazon, under “special features” it states, “None.” For a Bruce Campbell collection, that’s kind of important, given his fan base. Special features are greatly valued by freaks like me. Well, both these DVDs are loaded with extras. Maybe it isn’t as good as the extras on My Name Is Bruce, but it’s still impressive. “None.” Just brilliant.

Jul 21

Larry Miller’s The Secret of Skiing

Larry MillerWhen I was a teen, there was some comedy competition that ran on HBO or something. It was first done regionally. And then the winners of each regional one met. As I recall, Eddie Murphy won. Now I think Murphy is one of the best comedic actors ever. But I never thought much of him as a stand-up comic. It just doesn’t play to his skills. But in that competition, I discovered the comedian Larry Miller. He was interesting in one particular way: he was the only comedian who did a different routine in the final than he had done in the region — an indication of his greatness.

One of the routines he did was “The Secret of Skiing.” It was about 8 minutes long. But I found a version online that is 35 minutes long. I don’t know if the routine has grown over the years or if he just whittled it down to 8 minute for the competition. It doesn’t matter. It’s magnificent. He’s really an old style comedian. He reminds me of Shelley Berman, although I think Larry Miller is actually more talented.

You owe it to yourself to listen to this. After all these years, I laughed myself silly. Of course, my opinion of skiing is pretty much the same as his — and the goat’s (listen and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

Jul 21

Cognac Is Brandy?! You Don’t Say!

CognacI saw a curious article in Forbes titled, 6 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Cognac. Okay, okay, okay! I admit everything! I couldn’t stop myself from clicking on it! But here’s the thing: I didn’t click on it for my usual reason: that I think I’m so knowledgeable. The truth is that I don’t know much about cognac other than that it is the only kind of widely available brandy that is at all drinkable. And that it comes from Cognac, France. And, of course, that it is regulated by the government like the rest of the French alcohol industry.

No, I was struck by the parenthetical “probably.” The article is, after all, in Forbes. And I suspect that the sort of person who reads Forbes thinks of themselves as pretty sophisticated. So throwing the “probably” in the title is a sop to their more insecure readers. The truth is, I was expecting to learn some things from the article. And I did! For example, I found out that cognac is rated from worst to best as: VS, VSOP, XO, and Extra.

Cognac Is All About Quality

This explains something that has been bothering me. I recently bought some cognac and I found that I didn’t like it as much as I remembered. So I just checked the label, and it is VS. I’m used to VSOP. So there you go!

But I was shocked by this line in the article, “It’s basically brandy.” Well, I can’t say that I knew that, because it is wrong.

But I was shocked by this line in the article, “It’s basically brandy.” Well, I can’t say that I knew that, because it is wrong. Cagnac is brandy. The statement in the article is like saying, “The Porsche 918 Spyder is basically a car.” I would assume that anyone who had ever tasted cognac would know that it is brandy. I’m not very aware of the outside world. Yet even with my tenuous grip on reality I am able to discern that it is brandy based upon my amazing ability to taste food and drink.

Forbes Readers Are Ignorant Snobs

Then it hit me: of course readers of Forbes would be surprised to learn that cognac is brandy. So surprised, in fact, that the article has to hedge on this fact. “It’s basically brandy.” If you look at a bottle of Hennessy, you will not find the word “brandy” anywhere. In the past, I’ve drunk cognac, not because I have a special fondness for it but simply because it was the best brandy that was readily available.

But for the Forbes set, it is probably a big deal that cognac is this thing that is expensive and thus good. For them, it is categorically different from brandy. So I image the editors concerned about this. “If we just say it is brandy, we’ll get angry letters!” But the most interesting thing about this is that for the Forbes reader, the fact that cognac is brandy probably was one thing they didn’t know about cognac. And it’s very sad. Or hilarious. It depends upon your perspective.

Jul 20

A Somewhat Less Menacing Mark Zuckerberg

Mark ZuckerbergThis movie [Batman vs Superman] is not good, but I liked it more than I expected. Wonder Woman is in the film for some reason, and Jesse Eisenberg decides to play Lex Luthor as a somewhat less menacing, less dangerous version of Mark Zuckerberg.

I’m going to credit that last as an actual decision and not an accident, and it’s… interesting. Maybe the point is that Luthor has never conceived of a scheme to dominate the lives of everyday people so grandiose, and so completely successful, as Facebook? Would Batman or Superman have destroyed the algorithm on Zuckerberg’s dorm room window?

—Robert Farley
Movies on a Plane

Jul 20

Exercise, Weight Loss, and Your Perfect Weight

Weight LossWill sent me a video from the Vox folks, Things We Can’t Explain: Donald Trump’s Board Game. I think he thought it was just a comedy video. And he’s right: it is funny. But there’s Ezra Klein and Dylan Matthews. It’s fun to see them, and the video is worth checking out. But it led me to another Vox video, The Science Is In: Exercise Isn’t the Best Way to Lose Weight. I’m pretty sure I read the article when it first came out, so I wasn’t shocked. Just the same, the video had a greater resonance with me, since I had a recent weight loss.

Up until about 7 years ago, I was very skinny. I mean, very. I tried not to see my naked torso in the mirror because it reminded me of victims of Auschwitz. I mean, it wasn’t that bad, but it certainly brought back childhood memories of watching that Alfred Hitchcock documentary about the liberation of the camps and the horrors discovered. But about 7 years ago, I put on 50 pounds rather suddenly. And since then I’ve stayed at that weight consistently. It is easier to see myself in the mirror now.

Weight Gain, Weight Loss

But I wasn’t happy about the weight gain. I would have wished for something more like 25-30 pounds. So over the years I have changed my diet and exercised — all in an effort at weight loss. Nothing really happened. This wasn’t surprising. When I was skinny, I tried to gain weight, and experienced a similar lack of success. My body, it has always seemed, wants to be whatever weight it is.

Then, last week, I was walking over to my healthcare provider. I noticed that I had to keep pulling up my normally quite tight jeans. And sure enough, I found that I had lost about 10 pounds. I figured that my recent efforts to walk more (just to get away from the computer) had acted as a weight loss program without my noticing. But no.

It’s All About the Thyroid

My sister reminded me that I was on thyroid medication. Indeed I am! Three months ago, a blood test showed that while I was mostly in good health, my thyroid was greatly under-performing. A normal range is up to 4.5, and I was at almost 20. And two months later, on the medication, it is exactly where it should be: right about one. And this is undoubtedly why I lost weight. I’m sure that I’m back to a stable weight again.

One reason that exercise doesn’t help much with weight loss is because your behavior and metabolism change as a result. I know about the first part of that. When I used to exercise a lot — running every day — I ate a lot more. I wouldn’t doubt that my metabolism also slowed down during the rest of the day when I wasn’t running.

Exercise Can Help!

There is, of course, a great reason to exercise. It makes us feel better. It improves our attitude. It calms us. And maybe in that way, exercise can help with weight loss: by making us not care.

It reminds me of a poem by Kristen McHenry, “Perfect Weight.” I can’t find the book right now, but I did find this snippet (that I quoted), which contains the important part:

You will kneel to bless the dead
hive of your pelvis. The body
is an intermission; wait for the toss
and hurl of rebirth. Emerge, sanctified and black.
Hover above the scale; note
the number. This is your perfect weight.

Weight loss, I fear, is a capitalist plot.

Jul 19

US Government’s Obscene Assassination Justification

Jeremy Scahill - ImminentObama has before compared the drone program to dealing with a sniper on a roof of a building who is pointing the rifle at children on a playground. And he say, you know, “I understand what the ACLU’s objections are and human rights people and stuff. But do we need to go to a judge to get authorization to take that shooter down before he kills a bunch of kids on a playground? No we don’t.” And I think… everyone in this room agrees with that. If you have someone who’s going to kill a bunch of kids, and they’re a sniper, and they’re not responding to any kind of attempts to get them to put the rifle down, people in this society overwhelmingly would say, “Yes. If we need to kill that person we’ll kill them.”

The problem is, that’s a fake analogy. They have never provided a shred of evidence that a single person that they’ve killed in a drone strike represented an imminent threat to US persons or the security of the United States. They have never given a shred of evidence to suggest that they killed someone en route to putting a bomb on a plane. I guarantee you, because this White House leaks like crazy, if they had that evidence they would put it out there…

If their standard was just that we’re killing people that we think maybe in the future might in certain circumstances try to encourage others to commit acts of terrorism — If that was the policy! — okay, that’s what they’re doing. But that’s not what they say the policy is. They say the policy is we’re targeting people who represent an imminent — “imminent” is their word — threat to US interests, US persons, and US facilities around the world. If that’s the standard then you have to say then what is the definition of the word “imminent.”

There was a white paper of the Justice Department leaked in advance of John Brennan’s confirmation hearings to be CIA director, that had a definition of the word “imminent” not even the most barely literate English speaker would recognize as the definition of “imminent.” It basically was like if you ever thought about terrorism in your life, we can kill you in a drone strike.

—Jeremy Scahill
The Government’s Secret War with Drones

Jul 19

Neanderthals Might Have Stopped Us All from Being Donald Trump

NeanderthalsAs many of you know, I have a soft spot for losers. Even when a clear serial killer is on trial, I feel bad for them. And as a result, I’ve long felt somewhat protective of the Neanderthals. Over three years ago, I wrote, Are Humans Better than Neanderthals? That was about how documentaries, which are usually quite objective when it comes to all other species, became really bigoted when it came to this close relative. Well, now I’ve learned a little bit more about Neanderthals, and it too is presented in a biased way.

The Economist published, A Parthian Shot. Okay, first: enough with the pun headlines! I know it sucks to have to work for a bunch of libertarian idiots (even if you are one yourself), but this pun barely even makes sense! And then the subtitle of the article is, “Neanderthals’ parting gifts to Homo sapiens were disease-causing genes.” But this is distinctly not what the article says!

Neanderthals “Gifted” Us Various Things

The article itself says that they did gift us some disease-causing genes, but some of those very same genes may be responsible for our surviving as a species. For example:

Some genes might put their bearers at risk of obesity in the modern world of fatty, sugary snacks. But in a world where food is scarce (as it presumably was in the northern latitudes where modern humans and Neanderthals mixed), those same genes might help their owners through lean periods.

But there’s an obvious response to this: what about the diseases that come from our ancient Homo sapiens ancestors? Humans are between 1% and 4% Neanderthal. That means that all those genetic diseases that don’t come from them comes from ancient humans and later mutations. Obviously, we need to ask, “Who exactly is ‘us’?”

We Aren’t Neanderthals; Nor Are We Ancient Humans

When a donkey and a horse mate, we call the offspring a mule or hinny. In almost all cases, they are infertile. But what if they were like humans and Neanderthals? Suppose you get a half breed that then mates with a human? Okay: one-quarter Neanderthal, but certainly not “human.” We are not the humans of 40,000 years ago. Around that time, the two species and a couple of other related ones interbred and created what we are today. And doubtless that increase in genetic diversity was really helpful to us.

Two years ago, I wrote, You Are a Neanderthal! which pointed out that part of our DNA was strictly from them. But the truth is that we aren’t Neanderthals — I was just writing for effect. We are what we are. And that’s part Neanderthal, part ancient human, and parts unknown. We should embrace this!

Neanderthals Could Save Us from Trump

And here’s something to think about. Given that we modern humans are a lot more related to the ancient humans than we are Neanderthals, that means that the ancient humans out competed them — more of the specific ancient human genes survived. And that makes me think that the best of what we are might be Neanderthal. When you watch Donald Trump accept the Republican nomination for President, think: that’s what separates us from the Neanderthals; Donald Trump is why we needed those Neanderthal genes.

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