The glass is half full and we are moving FORWARD!

by: plf515

Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 20:00:05 PM EST

If you are old enough, think back to about 1970. If you are not old enough GET OFF MY LAWN! No, no. Come, pull up a chair and let an old guy talk a bit.

In 1970 the life expectancy for a newborn White boy in the USA was 67.94 years; White girl? 75.49 years. NonWhite boy? 65.63 years. NonWhite girl? 69.05 years. In 2011, all those rates were higher, by between 5 and 8 years.

In 1970, in the building where I lived in New York City, my mother had a Black friend visit. The doorman made her ride the service elevator (OH BOY did that doorman hear from my mom!).

In 1970, the Soviet Union still existed. Germany was still two countries. South Africa had apartheid. Today, none of those things is true (and they all happened without a major war).

In 1970, the idea of an openly homosexual person getting elected to Congress would have been strange. Homosexuality was still considered a psychiatric disorder (and listed as such in the DSM).

In 1970, it was illegal (in Chicago) for "deformed" people to show themselves on the streets.

In 1970 the Americans with Disabilities Act had not been passed. Today, many buildings are required to have ramps for wheelchair access and all children are entitled to a "free and appropriate education" in the "least restrictive environment".

In 1970 Roe v. Wade was still in the future. Today, abortion is legal.

In 1970, "with all deliberate speed" was long on the deliberate and short on the speed. Today, an African-American is in the White House.

In 1970, there was no internet. In 1970, there were no personal computers.

In 1970, Edgar Ray Killen was still a free man. (Don't know who he is? Go to the library! Oh, it's 2013. You can Google).

It was in 1970 that the United States got its first female generals. In 2013, women were finally given combat status.

Are we done fighting? NO WAY.
Are things perfect now? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME

In all of the areas I outlined, there is work to be done. FORWARD!

Have we made progress? YES WE HAVE.
Can we make more? YES WE CAN!

plf515 :: The glass is half full and we are moving FORWARD!
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AMEN, plf515!!! (2.00 / 12)
We can't let the fearmongers drag us backwards, or distract us from our Progressive mission by pitting us against one another while they wreak havoc. Great message!!

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

-- Oscar Wilde

Reminded me of this ... (2.00 / 7)
The Tectonic Impact of Obama's Re-Election
Is it just me or are more people surprised by the snowballing impact of Obama's re-election?

It's not just the return to Clinton tax rates for the very wealthy; it's a real cultural shift as well. In the last week, we have seen the Boy Scouts back off a national policy of excluding openly gay scouts and scout-masters (which means the Mormon hierarchy must have not made too big a fuss);we have Tom Tancredo almost smoking a joint in public (don't make a bet with him on anything in the future); we have Sean Hannity's ratings plummeting; we see gay couples included in the president's comprehensive immigration reform; we have Limbaugh edging ever-so-slightly toward Rubio on immigration; ...

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

In 1968, the Bestseller "The Population Bomb" convinced a generation that (2.00 / 5)
we would all be starved to death by now.

Before many Moose were even born.

In 40 years, the share of malnourished people in the developing world has been more than halved (37% to 16%). The share of starving people has decreased even faster. This improvement is expected to continue in the future.

World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

Paul R. Ehrlich, that fuck! (2.00 / 4)
Now that I look at that book and see his picture, I realize he was the miserable prick who scared me to death when I was about five years old (maybe less?) and saw him on TV.

Stinking nihilist, most of my youth was tinged with the fear for the future because of him. Sure, the whole "world is ending" 70s, but it was him in particular who I have thought about all my life. I have often referenced (repeatedly here on the Moose) seeing a person on TV as a small child who made me believe I would not live to grow up because we would all starve.

That miserable smarmy prick gave me night terrors. Feel like looking him up and kicking his ass right now.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Oh yes, Chris... The starving children of India (2.00 / 4)
were held up before us young kids as a prod to finish our supper. My answer was always "they're starving? Send this to THEM?!"

Fast forward another 50+ years, and Americans still face oversized portions of food, obesity, and eating disorders. We really need to figure this out.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

-- Oscar Wilde

[ Parent ]
My point is that when that fear mongering mook was scaring the pants off (2.00 / 3)
me and fanning the flames of doom, 90% of India's children were undernurished. Now, with triple the population, 40% of those children are. And his whole point - which he successfully inculcated into millions upon millions of people - was that there was no hope.

He forecast mass starvation in America during the 1970s. He - to this day - says the only thing we can do is limit population, stop economic growth, stop doing everything...

and then we will still all die.

There is moving people in the right direction and then there is fear mongering. Fear mongering depresses, limits, sucks the very life out of people.

There is no lack of food, there are corrupt systems still in place - to a lesser extent than ever before, but still in place - that starve people. We don't need to eat less (unless for our own health), we don't need to expect less, we don't need to hope for less of work for less.

We need to believe in ourselves.

People like Elrich act like they are Saviors, when they are really Reapers. Elrich particularly, for me, now that I have connected my initial childhood fear he personally sowed in me.

He is now (and perhaps forevermore) the personification of the paradox of the nihilistic anti-human extremism born in the boomer generation.

He is what we need to stop listening to, as much or maybe even more than uncontrolled industrialists.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Related but different problems (2.00 / 4)
the lack of food for many in India these days is caused more by government mismanagement and outright theft than by a total lack of food; just as the worst famine in history (at least in terms of total numbers) was caused by the hideous policies of Mao.

These days, many people are both overweight and malnourished.

Our overeating is caused by combinations of a biology that evolved to survive famines (which we don't have any more), a preposterous diet, a less active life style etc. etc.

But our diet is destroying the planet.

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I don't want to sound like a complete Polyanna, (2.00 / 1)
though I understand that is exactly how I often sound, but I don't find fear in much of anything.

Our diet isn't really destroying the planet, even inasmuch as it is. Analogies are only analogies, but with that said you can look at this period as adolescence.

You really do lose a lot when you stop being a child.

Things you cannot get back. We do our best to help our kids get over that, but it is frightening because it should be. The fears are real because the risks are not likely, they are guaranteed.

We are in a period where we are going to lose a lot. The world won't end, life will go on, and people will be as happy (and for most more happy) than they have in this and previous generations. But untouched wildernesses, many species - maybe, before it is over, a lot of seaside cities? - will in fact be gone.

But we will survive, and our children and great-great-grandchildren - will live not only well but better than we could have ever hoped for.

There is a lot we need to do during our lifetimes, and a lot of it is being done. We need to catalog as much of our existing genetic heritage as possible before some of it is gone, so we and our descendants can have as much as possible to work with. We need to fast-forward the cycle in the Sahara 5,000 years in the next 100, so it is lush again as it was 15,000 years ago (and every 20,000 prior). We need to continue the process of closing industrial loops, increasing energy efficiency, advancing caloric production (including beyond what we call "agriculture" today).

Much of this is underway, most of it only began during my lifetime, much of it only in the past twenty years. The progress we make in this century will be staggeringly greater than what amazes us today about progress in the past century. Orders of magnitude more, such that even an optimist futurist like myself will have been unable to predict most of it.

We are an amazing species. What we will accomplish - what we are busy accomplishing now, though most of us do not see it - will make the 21st Century much more the century of wonder to future historians than the twentieth.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Absolutely. Progress has been made (2.00 / 4)
Indeed, post war, MORE progress has been made than ever before, even during a period we actually gave up the idea of 'progress'.

Now I get the dangers of complacency, and if one didn't talk about crime, illness, poverty, sexism - highlighting the injustices and failures - nothing might get done. But the danger of this way of thinking, to the reformist liberal mindset, is that we're always focused on the failures, and overlook all the immense achievements, so well measured and recorded in Peter's diary.

So onward, and upward, with a glance back to see how things have been improved. Of course, we won't change the human condition - that we're mortal and live on a spec of dust on the edge of nowhere. We still want to be immortal and at the centre of the universe. That won't be cured.  But a lot of misery, between times, can be mitigated.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

And by focusing only on failures (2.00 / 4)
we demoralize ourselves and our potential allies "that's just the way it is, was and always will be" is not a formula for motivation.

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Yeah. I'm good with scepticism (2.00 / 4)
But to be a real sceptic, sometimes you've got to doubt your own doubts.

Those who automatically assume the worst aren't sceptics, they're cynics. And cynicism leads to despair, passivity, and ultimately suits the powers that be. It's an ethos that suits the status quo. No wonder it is richly rewarded.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Thank you Peter! (2.00 / 1)
I know you put that there just for me, I owe you one/ :~)

we're mortal and live on a spec of dust on the edge of nowhere. We still want to be immortal and at the centre of the universe. That won't be cured.  

Oh, but it can and it will be cured.

The first part is cured now. Our belief that we are small in the scope of the universe is demonstrably incorrect, however popular.

There is no better physical size to be. About 150 lbs of material provides just the right quantity of parts to make cognizant, mobile lifeforms. Much less, not enough parts. Much more, can't move well. We are the Goldilocks size, in all the universe.

In an effectively infinite space, there is literally no such thing as "big enough to matter". If we were each the size of a galaxy we would still be pinpricks against infinity, and irrefutably bound to the laws of physics.

The second part, mortality?

In an "infinity" context that may be true, but perhaps not even then, until the end of entropy. But we will take it as a given that "forever" is asking too much.

But the grandchildren of the youngest among us? I would place a bet to be cashed by our fourth-generation descendants that "lifespan" will be without meaning in their day.

Climate is complicated, biology is not. We will in fact master time as far as aging goes. Not, except in my most wild imaginings, in time to save you and I, but we will do it nevertheless.

Thanks, you know I love giving that rant. ;~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
And the Baggers are adopting Archie Bunker's views (2.00 / 3)
as their political platform.

I like the direction that we are heading better than the direction they want us to go.

In 1970 you could also fill your car up with leaded gas to go buy some DDT. Did I mention how I really like the direction we are on?


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