Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Incredible Occult Illustrations of Alphonse Mucha



Art Nouveau illustrator Alphonse Mucha's beautiful occult-inspired art from the turn of the century

Ultraculture friends Century Guild are releasing a coffee table book of the occult Art Nouveau illustration of Alphonse Mucha. It looks like an absolutely incredible project—and one that will definitely appeal to occult art collectors! Mucha drew on motifs from Kabbalah and turn-of-the-century occulture for his works—several of which are featured below!
Here's what Century Guild has to say about Mucha:

By December 20, 1899, Alphonse Mucha had experienced four years as the most recognizable proponent of Art Nouveau graphics and the most celebrated illustrator in Paris. The massive output of the artist in his first four years in the advertising and decorative world earned much for Mucha's publisher but very little for the artist himself.
As the end of the century grew near, Alphonse Mucha insisted upon the release of a deeply personal work, and printed 510 copies of what he for the remainder of his life considered his works-on-paper masterpiece, Le Pater.

Decidedly non-denominational, Mucha's exploration features a female deity protecting humankind and a number of sophisticated occult themes across a series of images of mystical illustrations.
Unlike the advertising art that had dominated Mucha's output since his "discovery" by Sarah Bernhardt in late 1894, Mucha described this series of images to a New York reporter as "the thing I have put my soul into." (The Sun newspaper, 5 January, 1900)

Mucha's previous artworks were lithographed on numerous mediums ranging from paper to silk, in multiple formats; Mucha's publisher Champenois saw that Mucha was the most printed artist in Paris in the late 1890s. Mucha's concern, understandably, was likely that the imagery of his spiritual work would be capitalized upon. By 1899, he had earned the right to demand that the Le Pater images would be produced in an edition of only 510 copies, and subsequently saw the plates destroyed- ensuring the work would never be reprinted for mass-market purposes.
The images from Le Pater are mentioned in numerous Mucha books as his masterpieces and are universally acknowledged alongside his massive Slav Epic paintings as his finest work. However, as a result of Mucha's forced limitation of the publication of this masterwork, the rarity of the lithographs means that most books are limited to mentioning the images in the text and leaving the reader to wonder what these "lost masterpieces" might look like.
The original promotional materials for the Le Pater series name these artworks as of "rare interest and considerable importance". Over 115 years later, the description continues to ring true.
If you'd like to see all these artworks in one book, captured in high resolution from the originals, please support our project and pre-order the book! 
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Warriors to tour African American Museum instead of White House


Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, from left, guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant celebrate after Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Monday, June 12, 2017. The Warriors won 129-120 to win the NBA championship. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Golden State Warriors are touring the African American Museum Tuesday instead of visiting the White House.
The traditional champions' invitation was never granted from President Donald Trump — and it appeared the Warriors might have declined it, anyway. So they plan to spend their day in the city with local children Tuesday.
The Warriors and students from Kevin Durant's hometown of Seat Pleasant, Maryland, will tour an African American museum in the nation's capital, according to ESPN's Chris Haynes.
"We're doing a great thing anyways," All-Star Klay Thompson said Monday, after the Warriors beat the New York Knicks in the opener of a road trip.
"The White House is a great honor but there's extenuating circumstances that we felt that we're not comfortable doing. We're not going to politicize anything, we're just going to hang out with some kids, take them to an African-American museum and hopefully teach them things we learned along the way and life lessons, and we'll still be getting some great memories."
Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry had said he did not want to go to the White House last September and Trump then made it clear he wasn't welcome, sending a tweet that read : "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!"
The White House visit is traditionally scheduled during the NBA champions' trip to face the Washington Wizards the following season. The Warriors play the Wizards on Wednesday.
They met with President Barack Obama after their first championship but don't seem disappointed about not going back this time.
"It's kind of beating a dead horse at this point," Curry said. "We're excited to have an opportunity that we're going to tomorrow as a team, but other than that it's a business trip and we're excited to keep the road trip going. So that's really all it's about."
NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant is from the Washington area, and he still played with Oklahoma City when the Warriors won their first title. He said he just wants the children Tuesday to enjoy their chance to meet players such as Curry and Thompson.
"Kids from my area don't really get that opportunity to be in front of champions like that," Durant said. "So hopefully it inspires them to just be whatever they want to be in life."


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Women's March on The Pentagon


The Strange Life of Austin Osman Spare, Chaos Magician




Austin Osman Spare, a British outsider artist who died in the 1950s, was also the grandfather of Chaos Magick. Here's more about his bizarre and often disturbing life.

Austin Osman Spare (1886—1956) was an English artist—and practicing occultist. He was also the inventor of many of the techniques that would later be dubbed chaos magick.
Born in the Elephant & Castle area of South London to a policeman, Spare spent his early years next to an open-air meat market; the constant exposure to the banality of death deeply colored his development as an artist. Austin Osman Spare's early work was similar to Aubrey Beardsley, then in vogue as England's "decadent" years drew to a close, and it was on the strength of his Beardsley-esque line drawings that Spare won an art school scholarship, a real chance to improve his life and lift himself up out of the poverty and squalor he had been born into.
At art school, Spare worked constantly, and also studied deeply in the nascent field of psychoanalysis and, fashionably, into the occult, delving into books by Madame Blavatsky and Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, a foundational text on Western magick. Austin Osman Spare would claim that as a pre-pubescent he had been sexually initiated into a hereditary occult lineage by "Mrs. Patterson," an octogenarian witch that almost certainly never existed outside of Spare's imagination.
Spare's hard work paid off, and by his early twenties he was on his way to meteoric success in the art world, and was declared a wunderkind by the press. Unfortunately, his timing was off: he made a name for himself just as England was losing its fascination with all things Victorian. The Beardsleyeque, decadent aesthetic quickly became as unfashionable as bellbottoms and long hair were in the 1980s, and Spare was tossed out by the changing of the guard.
(Below, author Alan Moore explores Spare's legacy.)
Austin Osman Spare would return to South London, inhabiting a basement and continuing to paint unceasingly—a true outsider both to the art world and, indeed, to English society itself. Magick and the occult, explored through the medium of painting, would now become his singular pursuit. But Spare would go his own way even in the already socially-divergent world of the occult. An early member of Aleister Crowley's A.'.A.'. (one of his illustrations is reproduced in the second issue of Crowley's monumental occult journal The Equinox), Austin Osman Spare quickly became disillusioned with the formal approach to magick that had been codified by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and its alumni.

RELATED: Aleister Crowley: Who Was the Wickedest Man in the World, Really?

"Others praise ceremonial Magic," he famously quipped in The Book of Pleasure, "and are supposed to suffer much Ecstasy! Our asylums are over-crowded, the stage is over-run! Is it by symbolizing we become the symbolized? Were I to crown myself King, should I be King? Rather should I be an object of disgust or pity. These Magicians, whose insincerity is their safety, are but the unemployed dandies of the Brothels."
Austin Spare, with sigils. From "Zos Speaks!" by Kenneth & Steffi Grant. (Thanks, Matt Baldwin-Ives!)
Crowley, however, remembered Austin Osman Spare fondly—the two were likely lovers for a time, as memorialized by Crowley in his poem "The Twins," in which he compares himself and Spare to the incestuous gods Horus and Set, respectively:
See, how subtly I writhe!
Strange runes and unknown sigils
I trace in the trance that thrills us.
Death ! how lithe, how blithe
Are these male incestuous vigils!
Ah! this is the spasm that kills us!
Wherefore I solemnly affirm
This twofold Oneness at the term.
Asar on Asi did beget
Horus twin brother unto Set.
Now Set and Horus kiss, to call
The Soul of the Unnatural
Forth from the dusk; then nature slain
Lets the Beyond be born again.
After their split, however, Crowley would have different words for Austin Osman Spare, dubbing him a "Black Brother," Crowley's term for a magician who refuses to surrender their ego at the peak of their development, and thereafter becomes corrupted by it.
The rest of Austin Osman Spare's life was spent in abject poverty, collecting cats that he usually spent his money feeding instead of himself, and drawing portraits of South Londoners in pubs for beer money. It was during this time that he would develop his deeply personal and unique system of magick, revolving around the use of "sigils" to unlock the buried abilities of the unconscious mind, and communion with otherworldly forces through the trance medium of painting itself. Spare also claimed to regularly seek to shock his unconscious mind into trances of occult power by engaging in sex with exceedingly ugly or aged women (possibly another Spare exaggeration).
Austin Osman Spare likely would have been completely forgotten were it not for Kenneth Grant, an over-enthusiastic young man who had grown up on H. P. Lovecraft books, who never shook the conviction that Lovecraft was writing codified non-fiction, and who soon undertook a lifelong pursuit of Magick. Like Israel Regardie before him, Grant came into Crowley's orbit, becoming his secretary in the final years of his life; Crowley obliged the young man by demonstrating occult processes like ether-assisted astral travel.
RELATED: Here's 8 Celebrities Who Practice Chaos Magick
(Letters preserved by Grant from the time, touchingly, show that the Old Beast was largely concerned with trying to assure that Grant properly looked after himself, dressed well and comported himself as a gentleman, so that Grant could get by and get a job in post-war London. He even wrote to Grant's father pleading him to talk sense into the young man, as the "monstrous" Aleister felt that Grant's obsession with him and Magick might well distract Grant from actually building a life and career for himself.)
After Crowley's death, Grant floundered, convinced his occult training had been cut short; it was almost a decade later, through the Atlantis Bookshop, that Grant was introduced to Spare; Grant felt he had met the true guru that would complete his education. The aged Austin Osman Spare quickly became friendly with Kenneth Grant and his wife Steffi, who adored him, and Grant would work unceasingly to draw out and record Spare's theories, including the sigil technique, which became the foundation of chaos magick in the 1970s (it is not coincidental, perhaps, that the last three letters of Chaos—AOS—are Austin Osman Spare's initials and monogram).
A young Kenneth Grant, pondering all matters Transyuggothian and praeterhuman. (Via Starfire)
While Grant did preserve Austin Osman Spare's work and place in history, he also, unfortunately, mixed-up and confused Spare's work with ideas and terms extrapolated from both Crowley and Lovecraft—as Grant would later demonstrate in his books, he seemed to think all three men were transmitting from one source, and therefore could be studied interchangeably. Biographer Phil Baker's recent book Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London's Legendary Artist shows how much of Spare's writing that Grant "discovered" was, in fact, just written by Grant himself. (It seems likely that Spare thought Grant was making him appear more intellectual and mysterious than he felt himself to actually be.)
Though the sigil technique has spread wide, the rest of Spare's work remains inscrutable even within occult circles, where he is often name-dropped, but almost never directly engaged with, let alone understood. Spare was truly downwardly mobile—he holds far more in common with the aghoris, the graveyard-dwelling, filth-eating sadhus of India, than the romantic image of the imperious, glamorous, "all-powerful" Western magician. Additionally, his writing is oblique and his paintings are scarce (where's the coffee table book?). That often makes Spare an unattractive and difficult subject of study at best. Nevertheless, his legendary status within the occult subculture—particularly in the United Kingdom, where he occupies a kind of "top dog" status in the English occult imagination—only grows as time goes on, and the reality of the man himself, perhaps, fades into history.
Luckily, we have Baker's book, as well as the recent film The Bones Go Last, to thank for casting a clearer light on Austin Osman Spare. The Bones Go Last is reproduced in full below, kindly made available by the filmmakers on their Vimeo page.
Enjoy!

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Artist Transforms Found Stones Into Animals You Can Hold in the Palm of Your Hand


By Emma Taggart on February 23, 2018


Japanese artist Akie Nakata (known simply as Akie) turns found stones and rocks into adorable animal paintings you can hold in the palm of your hand. Inspired by the natural shapes of each stone she comes across, Akie chooses the ones she believes already have their own destined characters. Ever since she was a child, the self-taught artist has loved collecting stones. She began her stone paintings in 2011 when, while taking a walk along a river bank, she encountered a particular pebble that looked like a rabbit. The artist tells My Modern Met in an email, "Stones have their own intentions, and I consider my encounters with them as cues […] to go ahead and paint what I see on them."
After sourcing the animal-shaped stones, Akie considers each character carefully. She asks herself, "Am I positioning the backbone in the right place? Does it feel right? Am I forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone?" She then carefully paints the stone's surfaces with acrylic paint. From cats and dogs to owls, mice, and even an entire opossum family, each of Akie's stone animals look remarkably lifelike. Painting the eyes last, Akie considers her work complete when she sees "the eyes are now alive and looking back [at her.]" She tells us, "To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone."
While some might contest that a stone is not a living organism, when Akie holds one in her hand, she feels everything it has "silently witnessed over the millennia." Believing each rock has a story to tell, the artist decides to breathe life into each one with her paintings. She reveals, "Sometimes I paint while I talk to the stone as I hold it in my hand." Akie hopes that her stone animals will be treasured by those who hold them, as they treasure their own lives "because we all stand on the same earth, and we come from the same earth."
You can find more of Akie's incredible artwork on Instagram, and if you're lucky enough, you may get the chance to own one of her unique pieces when she announces their availability on Facebook.

Japanese artist Akie Nakata turns found stones and rocks into adorable animal paintings you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Inspired by the natural shapes of each stone, Akie uses acrylic paint to bring their creature characters to life.

Each stone animal looks remarkably lifelike.

Stone Artist Akie: Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Akie Nakata.



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Pruitt tapes revealed: Evolution's a 'theory,' 'majority' religions under attack


Pruitt tapes revealed: Evolution's a 'theory,' 'majority' religions under attack

Radio archives from Oklahoma also show him warning of 'judicial monarchy' and advocating constitutional amendments to ban abortion and gay marriage.
By EMILY HOLDEN and ALEX GUILLÉN
03/02/2018 05:00 AM EST




Scott Pruitt described the Second Amendment as divinely granted, and condemned federal judges as a "judicial monarchy." | Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed evolution as an unproven theory, lamented that "minority religions" were pushing Christianity out of "the public square" and advocated amending the Constitution to ban abortion, prohibit same-sex marriageand protect the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments, according to a newly unearthed series of Oklahoma talk radio shows from 2005.
Pruitt, who at the time was a state senator, also described the Second Amendment as divinely granted and condemned federal judges as a "judicial monarchy" that is "the most grievous threat that we have today." And he did not object when the program's host described Islam as "not so much a religion as it is a terrorist organization in many instances."

The six hours of civics class-style conversations on Tulsa-based KFAQ-AM were recently rediscovered by a firm researching Pruitt's past remarks, which provided them to POLITICO on condition of anonymity so as not to identify its client. They reveal Pruitt's unfiltered views on a variety of political and social issues, more than a decade before the ambitious Oklahoman would lead President Donald Trump's EPA.
The views he states, in discussions peppered with references to inalienable rights and the faith of the nation's founders, are in line with those of millions of other conservative, devout Christians. But they also show stances that at times are at odds with the broader American mainstream, and in some cases with accepted scientific findings — an issue that has more recently come up with his skepticism about the science behind climate change.
"There aren't sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution, and it deals with the origins of man, which is more from a philosophical standpoint than a scientific standpoint," he said in one part of the series, in which Pruitt and the program's hosts discussed issues related to the Constitution.
EPA would not say this week whether any of Pruitt's positions have changed since 2005. Asked whether the administrator's skepticism about a major foundation of modern science such as evolution could conflict with the agency's mandate to make science-based decisions, spokesman Jahan Wilcox told POLITICO that "if you're insinuating that a Christian should not serve in capacity as EPA administrator, that is offensive and a question that does not warrant any further attention."
Republicans in Congress defended Pruitt, saying his religious beliefs should factor into how he does his job.

"All of us are people of faith and obviously influenced by our faith and the role it played in our life … and continue[s] to play in our life on a daily basis," said Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees EPA. "It's a part of who we are."
Sen. Jim Inhofe, a fellow Oklahoman, said Pruitt's faith does and should play a role in his work.
"He's a believer. He is a Jesus guy. He believes in the principles," Inhofe said. "I think it does [have an impact], and I think it has to. Anyone who denies that that has an impact isn't being totally honest."
Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists — a group that has criticized Pruitt's environmental policies — said Pruitt's religious beliefs aren't relevant to his leadership of EPA "because the job is not to be the nation's pastor." But his group still worries that Pruitt has chosen to "sideline science" and "wants to make decisions on a wholly political basis."
"If I had to say if there was a philosophy behind his decisions, it's 'Industry is always right and we should just get out of the way,'" Rosenberg said.
Pruitt expounded his philosophy on a wide variety of topics during the radio discussions, which originally appeared under the heading "KFAQ University — Standing Up For What's Right." Five years after they originally aired, the programs were posted on Pruitt's campaign website in 2010 when he ran for Oklahoma attorney general.
The discussions among Pruitt and the hosts always began with the Pledge of Allegiance and often stuck to dry reviews of the historical context of the Revolutionary War and the Constitution's origins. But they sometimes swerved into modern-day political frustrations, often with religious overtones.
Pruitt, a former Baptist deaconwho was previously atrustee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., acknowledged that the founders of the United States did not want a church to run the government. But still, he explained at length, society should be centered on certain religious ideals or it will fall into "chaos."
In the current political atmosphere, he said, "We're saying to a certain category of religion, 'No, you can't be a part of the public square, because you are the majority religion, historically. We're going to make sure that the minority religions are built up and encouraged, but the majority religion is going to be shifted aside.' Now that violates, again, individual liberty."
He frequently referred to atheism and humanism, which stresses the potential for humans to be good, as religions that enjoy more rights to expression than Christianity.
"I believe that it's time for us to say, let us be truthful and honest about who we are as a country because if we protect the principles of the First Amendment, we will respect all religions and each will be able to freely exercise what they believe in the public square," Pruitt said.
History has proven thatpeople will not do what's right without religious principles to guide them, Pruitt said.
"When you take out this aspect of who we are as a republic, and you try to eradicate it from who we are, it leads to what? 'Each man did what was right in his own eyes,' and you have chaos," Pruitt said.
He added that without changes to protect constitutional rights, "it leads to anarchy, it leads to rebellion," which he predicted could happen within the next few decades or sooner.
In one episode, a host suggested that Islam "is not so much a religion as it is a terrorist organization, in many instances." The host, Gwen Freeman, added: "You can believe whatever you want to, but if you're going to be hiding behind a mosque and teaching people in your mosques to harm other people, that's where you have to draw the line."
"Absolutely," Pruitt responded, going on to talk about the relationship between God and believers and saying that people should be able to practice any religion unless it ismanifested in violence."Our First Amendment should preserve the right of Hindus and Muslims to practice their faith. I believe that with all my heart. But what I don't agree with is that because of that relationship, if it is manifested in violence as Gwen is saying, that we don't have the right to deal with that."
Pruitt didn't explicitly endorse or dispute her description of Islam as a terrorist organization.
Throughout the programs, Pruitt suggested that states might need to call a constitutional convention to propose amendments that would allow expression of religion in government, declare abortion illegal and bar same-sex marriage.
Pruitt acknowledged some trepidation about holding a constitutional convention, which could make wholesale changes to the nation's founding charter.
"It scares me to a large degree to go into something like a constitutional convention, 'cause that means that we're going to have to really be educated, and informed, and debate," he said. "But you know what? Maybe it's time."
Federal courts have interpreted the Constitution to require the separation of church and state and have expanded upon that in a series of cases, including a 1947 decision prohibiting New Jersey from using public funds to bus students to Catholic schools.
Pruitt disagreed, saying: "I think the most grievous threat that we have today is this imperialistic judiciary, this judicial monarchy that has it wrong on what the First Amendment's about and has an objective to create religious sterility in the public square, which is wholly inconsistent with the Founding Fathers' view."
He also weighed in on a 2005 Supreme Court case that involved a display of the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol. He argued that prohibiting such displays elevated atheist beliefs above Jewish and Christian ones.
Two years earlier, Pruitt had supported an unsuccessful bill that would have required textbooks in Oklahoma to carry a disclaimer that evolution is a theory. The show hosts joked that Pruitt had been compared to Adolf Hitler and the Taliban for backing the measure.
"I'm a bit better-looking than them," Pruitt quipped. "My wife tells me so anyway."
In the 2005 recordings, Pruitt also backed a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, saying it derives from a divine mandate and thus cannot be limited.
"If you can tell me what gun, type of gun, I can possess, then I didn't really get that right to keep and bear arms from God," he said. "It was not bequeathed to me, it was not unalienable, right?"
Even some issues that aren't explicitly faith-based, such as global warming and fossil fuel production, have often split different groups of religious believers. Some polls show that less than 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants believe that human activity is the driving factor behind climate change.
And Pruitt has echoed that sentiment, telling CNBC last year that he did not believe carbon dioxide was a primary contributor to climate change. Last week, he told the Christian broadcaster CBN News that he supports developing the nation's energy resources, a stance that he believes aligns with Scripture's teachings.
"The biblical worldview with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we've been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind," he said.
Pruitt isn't the first EPA administrator to openly express his or her religious faith, of course. His immediate predecessor, Gina McCarthy, was a Roman Catholic who visited top officials at the Vatican in 2015 as church officials worked to write Pope Francis' climate change encyclical. She oversaw the creation of the major climate change and water regulations that Pruitt's EPA has started to unwind.
Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian and climate scientist, said the evidence of climate change does not conflict with the teachings of the Bible — so anyone who rejects the science is making more of a cultural or political decision than a faith-based one.
"I think you probably could run Boeing if you thought gravity was optional, as long as you were willing to let people who didn't think it was optional actually do the design of the plane," Hayhoe said. "Here's the thing: If we think it is optional to agree that the planet is warming, humans are responsible and the impacts are serious ... we will be making decisions that are not based in reality."
Anthony Adragna contributed to this report.



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Bernie Sanders on Puerto Rico Neglect: “Do You Think This Would Be Happening in Westchester County?”


On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed a law granting U.S. citizenship to the residents of Puerto Rico. But 101 years later, the federal government, by abandoning the island in the wake of a crippling debt crisis and an even more devastating hurricane, is treating Puerto Ricans like citizens in name only.
Washington's failure to adequately help Puerto Rico rebuild its economy and school system was the focus of a daylong conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, hosted by the American Federation of Teachers, the Hispanic Federation, and the Albert Shanker Institute.
The event drew powerful progressive politicians — namely Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. All three back the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act, often referred to as a "Marshall Plan" for the territories. The bill, authored by Sanders, would provide $146 billion to Puerto Rico's recovery, would forgive its debt, and would establish Medicaid and Medicare parity. Unlike in the U.S., the federal government subjects Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to annual Medicaid caps.
Five months after Puerto Rico's worst natural disaster in nearly a century, more than 30 percent of the island — over 900,000 people — still live without electricity. Roughly 270 public schools still lack power, and some areas of the island do not expect to see restored electricity until the end of May. Puerto Rico was struggling even before Hurricane Maria: With roughly $123 billion in debt, the island declared bankruptcy last May.
Take our survey: Should Puerto Rico's debt be wiped out?
The federal government last month promised some additional aid to Puerto Rico. When Congress passed a two-year budget to avoid a government shutdown, it included billions of dollars for Puerto Rico's recovery, though still far short of the $94.4 billion the island requested. The U.S. Department of Education also announced on Wednesday that it would be distributing an additional $2.7 billion to Puerto Rico to help its public schools and universities recover.
But the government's assistance so far has been underwhelming. Last October, when Congress passed a $36.5 billion disaster relief bill to help areas ravaged by hurricanes and wildfires, it gave Puerto Rico $4.9 billion as a loan. (Other devastated areas like Texas, Florida, and California instead received grants. The loan adds to Puerto Rico's already crushing debt.) On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury announced it would be cutting that loan to $2 billion, though it's not clear if the federal government will even agree to distribute these funds at all.
At the conference on Thursday, Warren called the federal government's recovery response "embarrassing" and stressed the need for sustained pressure on lawmakers to take action. She pointed out that in December, Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy joined Sanders and seven Democrats in asking Lamar Alexander, Republican chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, to hold hearings on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
"Given the extent of the damage inflicted upon both territories, as well as the important roles of the departments under this committee's jurisdiction in ongoing hurricane relief efforts, we believe such hearings would be an important part of the Committee's oversight related to hurricane recovery," they wrote in a letter.
Warren cited Cassidy's support as an encouraging glimmer of bipartisan hope, but noted that the committee has yet to act on that recommendation. "If we don't keep pushing, the hearings won't happen" she said.
The Massachusetts senator also pushed the necessity of debt forgiveness. "Puerto Rico needs debt relief. Vulture funds should not get one more cent from the island," she declared. "It is especially the case that money that Congress appropriates to Puerto Rico is money that should not go toward paying Wall Street."
"Puerto Rico needs debt relief. Vulture funds should not get one more cent from the island."— Sen. Elizabeth Warren
For his part, Sanders took clear swipes at Puerto Rico's proposed education reform bill that would bring charter schools and vouchers to the island. He likened it to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and warned that disaster capitalists might prey on Puerto Rico.
"Disaster capitalism means people who take advantage of a disaster to do bad things, and what they're trying to do in this moment, in this terrible moment for Puerto Rico, is to move to very aggressively privatize public services like schools and the electrical grid," he said.
Sanders went on to list the benefits that the federal government offers to citizens on the mainland but denies to Puerto Ricans, including parity for Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Care Tax Credit.
"Do you think this would be happening in Westchester County, New York?" Sanders asked the audience, referring to the island's snail-paced recovery. "We are here to tell the people of Puerto Rico that they are not forgotten, that they are not alone, that we will do everything that we possibly can to rebuild the island."
Marie Mora, an economics professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, was one of several academics who spoke at the conference. Mora traced Puerto Rico's economic decline back to 2006, when the federal government eliminated tax breaks for companies doing business there. Following the expiration of IRS Code Section 936, there was a significant loss in private and public sector jobs, and a massive net outmigration to the mainland. This, Mora said, coupled with a rapidly aging population and diminishing healthcare, education, and utility investments, all contributed to the fiscal stress and "vicious cycle" Puerto Rico now faces.
Though the island's population has been shrinking, 3.3 million people still live there — a population larger than that of 21 states and Washington, D.C.
Leaders from Puerto Rico — including María Meléndez, mayor from the Puerto Rican municipality of Ponce, and Aida Díaz, president of the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, the island's 40,000-member teachers union — also spoke at the conference.
Díaz slammed the charter and voucher proposal, which is backed by Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Díaz said her union is pushing an alternative education reform plan based on turning each public school into a community hub that would provide increased social services. The so-called transformation zones are similar to models in New York City and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
"We know that some students are failing and we need transformation of our school system, but it is not something that comes from someone who is behind a desk," Díaz said. "It should be made in a way that everyone participates, to debate what we want, what kind of citizens we want to develop, what are the needs of the country, what should be done first, what political issues need to be solved."
Puerto Rico's Education Secretary Julia Keleher previously told The Intercept that she felt that embracing education reform proposals like charters and vouchers would help the island attract new sources of federal funds for its recovery. But the teachers union feels left out of the conversation. Díaz told The Intercept last week that her union was not included in drafting the government's education reform bill, and she does not feel as though teachers' feedback has been taken seriously since the legislation was first introduced.
Some education experts offered early endorsements for the alternative reform plan put forth by Díaz and her union.
"The children of Puerto Rico will be well-served by transformation zones in which schools anchor local communities," said Susan Moore Johnson, a research professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, in a statement.
"Across the United States, school districts have relied on this template to build strong systems that provide a solid education for their students, and the model makes great sense for Puerto Rico as well," said David Kirp, a public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
It's now up to the federal government to change course and help the island get back on track — and treat Puerto Ricans like the U.S. citizens they are.
Top photo: A school bus crosses a makeshift bridge for vehicles, near where the original bridge was washed away by Hurricane Maria flooding, on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico.

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Trump Pushes Republicans in Congress to Oppose Funding Hudson Rail Tunnel


Photo
The Gateway project would expand rail service beneath the Hudson River, a transportation corridor badly in need of infrastructure improvements. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump is pressing congressional Republicans to oppose funding for a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, using the power of his office to block a key priority for the region and his Democratic rivals, according to several people with knowledge of his actions.
Mr. Trump urged Speaker Paul D. Ryan this week not to support funding for the $30 billion project, two people familiar with the conversation said.
The president's decision to weigh in forcefully against the so-called Gateway infrastructure project, which has been one of the United States' top transportation priorities for years, adds a significant obstacle to getting the project underway in the near future.
Mr. Trump's opposition to the project is in part the result of his belief that it is important to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, according to one person with knowledge of the president's thinking on the issue.
Mr. Trump has told Republicans that it makes no sense to give Mr. Schumer something that he covets — funding for the tunnels — at a time that Mr. Schumer is routinely blocking Mr. Trump's nominees and other parts of his agenda, the person said.
The president, who was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Friday night for a Republican fund-raiser, has told members of his party that they should not support initial funding for the tunnels in the spending bill that lawmakers in Washington must pass this month to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, according to the people with knowledge of the conversations.
Mr. Schumer could not be reached for comment. News of the president's efforts was first reported by The Washington Post.
The Obama administration, which had ranked the Gateway project the country's No. 1 priority in transportation infrastructure, had informally agreed that the federal government would split the cost of the first phase of the project with New York and New Jersey. That phase was estimated to cost $11 billion, out of about $30 billion for the entire initiative.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer have at times expressed a desire for their parties to work together on a broad effort to rebuild the country's crumbling infrastructure, though there has been little consensus on the details of the projects that would be included and how to pay for them.
In September, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Trump gathered at the White House with other officials — including senators and governors from the region and administration officials — in a meeting that participants described as a productive discussion about ways to make progress on the expensive transportation initiative.
But while both men are New Yorkers and have known each other for decades, they have also become fierce rivals in Washington since Mr. Trump took office last year. And efforts to reach deals on other issues, like immigration, have faltered amid partisan bickering and recrimination.
In recent days, Mr. Trump has grown increasingly angry about Democratic efforts in the Senate, led by Mr. Schumer, to block or delay his nominees to fill key government posts. This week, at the beginning of each news briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, began highlighting examples of nominees who had been blocked.
On Thursday, she accused Democrats of blocking efforts to confirm Kevin McAleenan, the president's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection.
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"Senator Schumer should stop putting the safety and security of the American people at risk," Ms. Sanders said.
If Mr. Trump succeeds in persuading Republicans to oppose funding the tunnel project, it would be a drastic reversal in fortunes for the region's politicians, who had secured commitments from the president's predecessors.
A spokesman for the Gateway Development Corporation declined on Friday to comment.
This is not the first time that Mr. Trump's administration has signaled that he may not support the Obama administration's agreement.
In December, the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, K. Jane Williams, said in a letter to officials in New York and New Jersey that any such agreement was "nonexistent" and that she had serious concerns about the project.
Ms. Williams said the proposed funding plan would be "a move towards even greater federal dependency."
That response was seen in the New York area as a political maneuver, intended to rewind the negotiations between the federal government and the local sponsors. But it still deflated hopes that the project would maintain its momentum.
The project was meant to supplement the existing tunnels that carry trains under the Hudson River. Those tubes are more than 100 years old and in urgent need of an overhaul after filling with saltwater during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Elected officials and Amtrak executives have warned that the loss of one of the existing tubes would reduce the capacity for trains between New York and New Jersey by 75 percent and cause chaos for commuters in the region.
In an interview this week, Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, called Gateway "the most pressing infrastructure project in the country at the moment."
He added that "any national infrastructure program worthy of the name could not possibly fail to provide significant funding for Gateway."
If it gets built, the project includes the replacement of a rail bridge in northern New Jersey that is a contemporary of the existing tunnels and improvements at Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. Officials at Amtrak, which owns Penn Station and the existing tunnels, have been pressing for it for years since former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey canceled a different project, which was known as the ARC tunnel.
The ARC project, sponsored by New Jersey Transit, the state-run operator of commuter trains and buses, involved digging a new tunnel that would carry trains to a new station deep below 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Construction had already begun on that project when Mr. Christie, a Republican who endorsed Mr. Trump for president, halted it in 2010.
Michael D. Shear reported from West Palm Beach, and Patrick McGeehan from New York. Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting from New York, and Thomas Kaplan from Washington.
A version of this article appears in print on March 3, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump Seen Pressing Congress Not to Fund Hudson Rail Tunnel.

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Jerry Brown’s Legacy: A $6.1 Billion Budget Surplus in California


The governor hopes to avoid the fate of predecessors who left office with big deficits



California Governor Jerry Brown took office in 2011 with a $27 billion deficit and drastically slashed spending. In 2012, he staked his governorship on a tax increase that voters approved that year and reauthorized in 2016. Photo: max whittaker/Reuters
By
Alejandro Lazo and
Nour Malas
Jan. 10, 2018 5:40 p.m. ET

LOS ANGELES—California Gov. Jerry Brown appears poised to exit office next year with a top political priority in hand: free from the massive budget deficits that had weighed on his predecessors.
Buoyed by tax increases passed under his administration and a strong economy, Mr. Brown said Wednesday that the state is projecting a $6.1 billion surplus for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The governor proposed socking most of the money away in a rainy-day fund whose creation he pushed for in 2014. Nearly 70% of the state’s projected revenue of about $135 billion next fiscal year is derived from personal income taxes, according to the governor’s office.
The state’s fiscal health is especially crucial as it faces myriad challenges: record natural disasters, housing shortages and changes to federal tax regulation—all while it ramps up opposition to the Trump administration on several major policy fronts.
As is his custom, the governor warned of an inevitable economic slowdown.
“California has faced 10 recessions since World War II, and we must prepare for the 11th,” he said. “Let’s not blow it now.”
Mr. Brown has been preaching frugality for years—he kicked off one past budget talk with Aesop’s fable about the thrifty ant and the lazy grasshopper.
Mr. Brown took office in 2011 with a $27 billion deficit and drastically slashed spending. In 2012, he staked his governorship on a tax increase that voters approved that year and reauthorized in 2016.
His spending plan for 2018 calls for $131.7 billion of general fund spending. Including special funds and bonds, which are pools of restricted money that can only be used for specific projects, total proposed spending next fiscal year is $190.3 billion.
The governor’s budget document marks the start of roughly six months of negotiations with the Democratic-controlled legislature.
The state’s budget must be approved by June 15, so it can be enacted July 1.
Many in Mr. Brown’s party, which wields the power to raise taxes with two-thirds majorities in both state houses, have pushed for increased spending on social programs as the state has recovered from the last recession.
On Wednesday, Republicans called on the governor to return some of the budget surplus to voters—saying they were overtaxed.
Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican from Kern County and a former staffer of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said the forecast windfall was evidence that a gasoline tax increase passed by Democrats last year was unnecessary.
“We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem,” Mr. Fong said. “Taxpayers work hard for their income—we should work just as hard to protect it.”
State officials and economists said planning for the 2018-2019 budget cycle had been particularly difficult this year.
They said state finances are facing a notably volatile period, given changes to federal tax law poised to hit California especially hard.
“I think there’s more financial uncertainty between Washington and Sacramento than in the past,” said Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson Forecast, a leading forecaster.
California, along with other high-cost and high-tax states, is considering ways to lessen the impact of the federal tax overhaul, which will raise taxes on a significant number of high-earners in the state.
State senate leader Kevin de León introduced legislation last week that would allow California taxpayers to donate to a fund and deduct 100% of the donation, essentially turning state tax payments into a deductible charitable contribution.
Other Democratic-led states, including New Jersey, are considering similar tactics to push back against what their leaders see as an unfair politically motivated move by the Trump administration against blue states.
While Mr. Brown warned of a slowdown Wednesday, he also touted increased funding in the state’s public schools and infrastructure programs as well as his efforts to pay down debt taken on by previous administrations.
Mr. Brown’s two most immediate predecessors were consumed by state budget woes at the end of their tenures. Democrat Gray Davis was recalled from office in 2003 after a recession, an energy crisis and controversial cuts led his popularity to sink.
Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated Mr. Davis in the recall election, but he too was consumed with deficits as state coffers were pummeled by the last recession.
“One thing governors don’t like is to be presiding over a hemorrhaging budget because people do blame them,” Mr. Brown said Wednesday. “And for that reason, if none other, we are going to keep this steady as we go.”
Write to Alejandro Lazo at alejandro.lazo@wsj.com and Nour Malas at nour.malas@wsj.com

Friday, March 2, 2018

[100] Parkland Teacher Says What Isn’t Allowed on MSM [EXCLUSIVE]


Facebook censors 30,000 year-old Venus of Willendorf as 'pornographic'


Nude statue is latest artwork to be deemed inappropriate by social media giant

27th February 2018 14:46 GMT
The Venus of Willendorf Courtesy of Naturhistorisches Museum Wien

Cases of art censorship on Facebook continue to surface. The latest work deemed "pornographic" is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf, part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna. An image of the work posted on Facebook by Laura Ghianda, a self-described "artivist", was removed as inappropriate content despite four attempts to appeal the decision.
The early Stone Age statue, which depicts a voluptuous woman with prominent labia, was discovered in Austria in 1908 and is famed for its detailed carving and realism. Ghianda's post denouncing Facebook's censorship in December last year was shared over 7,000 times.
A case on Facebook's censorship of art was heard in a Paris court earlier this month. Frédéric Durand-Baïssas, a French teacher, has been trying to sue the social media giant since 2011 for closing his account after he posted a photograph of Gustave Courbet's 1866 painting L'Origine du monde (Origin of the World), a realistic depiction of a woman's genitals. Despite Facebook changing its policy on nudity to allow "photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures", instances of art censorship persist.
The NHM reacted to Ghianda's Facebook post in January, requesting that Facebook allow the Venus to remain naked. "There has never been a complaint by visitors concerning the nakedness of the figurine," says Christian Koeberl, the director general of NHM. "There is no reason […] to cover the Venus of Willendorf and hide her nudity, neither in the museum nor on social media."

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Opinion | Canada’s richest citizens give the least to charity


While the rich are growing richer, their generosity is getting poorer — not just compared to those earning much less than them, but compared to what they gave in years past.
Two men sit on a grate in front of Toronto's Old City Hall as passers-by make their way along Queen St. W. in December.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)
By Bob RamsayOpinion
Thu., March 1, 2018

It's old news that Toronto is the income inequality capital of Canada.
Each year, the gap between our richest citizens and our poorest keeps growing. In 1970, six out of every 10 neighbourhoods were middle class. By 2015, fewer than three in 10 were. If this trend continues, we'll all live either in a gated community or a slum.
What is news is that Canada's richest citizens are the stingiest of all in giving their money to charity. In other words, the better we do, the less we give — and the less we give, the less chance we have of making Toronto a single city for all of us.
That's my conclusion from reading this year's Vital Signs Report, the annual report card on the state of our city released yesterday by Toronto Foundation.
There are no figures broken out by city for charitable donations, only national ones. But if Toronto is Canada's richest city and home to so many of Canada's richest people, and the city with the greatest disparity between rich and poor, I have to believe that what's shockingly true for Canada, is likely even more so for Toronto.
On the surface, Toronto's performance is like Canada's at Pyeongchang: "In many ways, Toronto is one of the best places to live in the world. Our population is growing, our skyline is rising, our economy is booming and the vibrancy, diversity and richness of our cultural communities continue to expand."
But underneath the accolades lies the potential for the great unwinding; because the people most able to help may well be the least inclined to do so.
It seems those of us earning less than $50,000 a year give 2.3 per cent of our gross income to charity each year. Those of us earning $100,000 are giving 1.6 per cent away. Even those earning $800,000 donate only 2 per cent to charities.
Worse still, while the rich are growing richer, their generosity is getting poorer — not just compared to those earning much less than them, but compared to what they gave in years past.
In the decade from 2006 to 2015, Canadian families making $150,000 to $199,000 rose by 8.1 per cent; those making $200,000 to $249,000 rose by 10.2 per cent; and those making $250,000 or more rose by 8.4 per cent. But while their giving rose, that bump not only didn't keep pace with what they now earn, the growth actually declined.
As Vital Signs reveals: " … only families in 22 of Toronto's 140 neighbourhoods claimed an average of more than 2.51% of their incomes in charitable donations in 2014."
Worst of all, the top three income groups are responsible for the greatest decline in average donations over the past decade.
The surprising thing about this is that it isn't surprising at all.
Study after study shows that the most charitable people in Canada, America and Europe are not the upper class, not the upper middle class, and not the shrinking middle class. It's the lower middle class, that is to say families (not individuals, families) with a household income of $50,000 or less.
Psychology Today recently reported a study where participants were each given $10, then given the opportunity to help a person in need. Those who made $25,000 a year gave away 44 per cent more of their money than those making $150,000 or more a year.
I don't know the reasons for this. But I can guess at the implications: not just more inequality, but less empathy.
Earning more is fine; giving less is not.
So what's the real answer? Toronto Foundation doesn't pretend to have all of them, but we should pay heed to its final words of Vital Signs: "DISRUPT YOUR GIVING PATTERNS …. though we know that philanthropy isn't the silver bullet for the city, we know that philanthropy can go where government sometimes can't."
So, come on, rich people. Do you think you got rich all on your own? That your city doesn't play a role in your happiness? That your nation is a supermarket and not a community centre? That your hip bone's not connected to your thigh bone?

Bob Ramsay is a communications consultant and founder of RamsayTalks.

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Snow Flakes


Poor




They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor"

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . ...... . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof... Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive... So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that's the truth....Now, whoever said History was boring?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Jordan Peterson’s Gospel of Masculinity





Illustration by Ross MacDonald

In February, 2000, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a concise review of a not-at-all-concise book. The book, "Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief," was nearly six hundred pages long, and, although it was published by the academic press Routledge, it fit neatly within no scholarly discipline. The reviewer, a sympathetic professor of psychiatry, bravely attempted to explain such forbidding phrases as "the grammatical structure of transformational mythology." Then he admitted defeat. "Doing justice to this tome in a two-paragraph synopsis is impossible," he concluded. "This is not a book to be abstracted and summarized." But he expressed the hope that curious souls would nevertheless discover this curious book, and savor it "at leisure."
Eighteen years later, the author of "Maps of Meaning," Jordan B. Peterson, has produced a sequel, of sorts. It's called "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos," and it has become an international blockbuster. Peterson, formerly an obscure professor, is now one of the most influential—and polarizing—public intellectuals in the English-speaking world. Lots of fans find him on YouTube, where he is an unusual sort of celebrity, a stern but mercurial lecturer who often holds forth for hours, mixing polemics with pep talks. Peterson grew up in Fairview, Canada, a small town in Northern Alberta, and he has a fondness for quaint slang; his accent and vocabulary combine to make him seem like a man out of time and out of place, especially in America. His central message is a thoroughgoing critique of modern liberal culture, which he views as suicidal in its eagerness to upend age-old verities. And he has learned to distill his wide-ranging theories into pithy sentences, including one that has become his de facto catchphrase, a possibly spurious quote that nevertheless captures his style and his substance: "Sort yourself out, bucko."
Peterson is fifty-five, and his delayed success should give hope to underappreciated academics everywhere. For a few years, in the nineteen-nineties, he taught psychology at Harvard; by the time he published "Maps of Meaning," in 1999, he was back in Canada—teaching at the University of Toronto, working as a clinical psychologist, and building a reputation, on television, as an acerbic pundit. His fame grew in 2016, during the debate over a Canadian bill known as C-16. The bill sought to expand human-rights law by adding "gender identity and gender expression" to the list of grounds upon which discrimination is prohibited. In a series of videotaped lectures, Peterson argued that such a law could be a serious infringement of free speech. His main focus was the issue of pronouns: many transgender or gender-nonbinary people use pronouns different from the ones they were assigned at birth—including, sometimes, "they," in the singular, or nontraditional ones, like "ze." The Ontario Human Rights Commission had found that, in a workplace or a school, "refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity" would probably be considered discrimination. Peterson resented the idea that the government might force him to use what he called neologisms of politically correct "authoritarians." During one debate, recorded at the University of Toronto, he said, "I am not going to be a mouthpiece for language that I detest." Then he folded his arms, adding, "And that's that!"
Such videos reached millions of online viewers, including plenty with no particular stake in Canadian human-rights legislation. To many people disturbed by reports of intolerant radicals on campus, Peterson was a rallying figure: a fearsomely self-assured debater, unintimidated by liberal condemnation. Students staged rowdy protests. The dean of the university sent him a letter warning that his pledge not to use certain pronouns revealed "discriminatory intentions"; the letter also warned, "The impact of your behavior runs the risk of undermining your ability to conduct essential components of your job as a faculty member." Last fall, a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario, was reprimanded by professors for showing her class a clip of one of Peterson's debates. (The university later apologized.) The reprisals only raised Peterson's profile, and he capitalized on the attention on his Patreon page, where devotees can pledge monthly payments in exchange for exclusive Q. & A. sessions and online courses.
Earlier this year, Peterson appeared on Channel 4 News, in Britain. The interviewer, Cathy Newman, asked what gave him the right to offend transgender people. He asked, cheerfully, what gave her the right to risk offending him. Newman paused for an excruciating few moments, and Peterson allowed himself a moment of triumph. "Ha! Gotcha," he said. David Brooks, in the Times, said that Peterson reminded him of "a young William F. Buckley." Tucker Carlson, on Fox News, called the exchange with Newman "one of the great interviews of all time."
Given the popularity of these online debates, it can be easy to forget that arguing against political correctness is not Peterson's main occupation. He remains a psychology professor by trade, and he still spends much of his time doing something like therapy. Anyone in need of his counsel can find plenty of it in "12 Rules for Life." The book is far easier to comprehend than its predecessor, though it may confuse those who know Peterson only as a culture warrior. One of his many fans is PewDiePie, a Swedish video gamer who is known as the most widely viewed YouTube personality in the world—his channel has more than sixty million subscribers. In a video review of "12 Rules for Life," PewDiePie confessed that the book had surprised him. "It's a self-help book!" he said. "I don't think I ever would have read a self-help book." (He nonetheless declared that Peterson's book, at least the parts he read, was "very interesting.") Peterson himself embraces the self-help genre, to a point. The book is built around forthright and perhaps impractically specific advice, from Chapter 1, "Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back," to Chapter 12, "Pet a Cat When You Encounter One on the Street." Political polemic plays a relatively small role; Peterson's goal is less to help his readers change the world than to help them find a stable place within it. One of his most compelling maxims is strikingly modest: "You should do what other people do, unless you have a very good reason not to." Of course, he is famous today precisely because he has determined that, in a range of circumstances, there are good reasons to buck the popular tide. He is, by turns, a defender of conformity and a critic of it, and he thinks that if readers pay close attention, they, too, can learn when to be which.
Like many conversion stories, Peterson's begins with a crisis of faith—a series of them, in fact. He was raised Protestant, and as a boy he was sent to confirmation class, where he asked the teacher to defend the literal truth of Biblical creation stories. The teacher's response was convincing neither to Peterson nor, Peterson suspected, to the teacher himself. In "Maps of Meaning," he remembered his reaction. "Religion was for the ignorant, weak, and superstitious," he wrote. "I stopped attending church, and joined the modern world." He turned first to socialism and then to political science, seeking an explanation for "the general social and political insanity and evil of the world," and each time finding himself unsatisfied. (This was the Cold War era, and Peterson was preoccupied by the possibility of nuclear annihilation.) The question was, he decided, a psychological one, so he sought psychological answers, and eventually earned a Ph.D. from McGill University, having written a thesis examining the heritability of alcoholism.
All the while, Peterson was also pursuing a grander, stranger project. He had fallen under the sway of Carl Jung, the mystical Swiss psychology pioneer who interpreted modern life as an endless drama, haunted by ancient myths. (Peterson calls Jung "ever-terrifying," which is a very Jungian sort of compliment.) In "Maps of Meaning," Peterson drew from Jung, and from evolutionary psychology: he wanted to show that modern culture is "natural," having evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to reflect and meet our human needs. Then, rather audaciously, he sought to explain exactly how our minds work, illustrating his theory with elaborate geometric diagrams ("The Constituent Elements of Experience as Personality, Territory, and Process") that seemed to have been created for the purpose of torturing undergraduates.
The new book replaces charts with cheerful drawings of Peterson's children acting out his advice. In the foreword, Peterson's friend Norman Doidge, a prominent psychiatrist, tells about meeting him at an outdoor lunch at the house of a mutual friend; Peterson was wearing cowboy boots, and determinedly ignoring a swarm of bees. "He had this odd habit," Doidge writes, "of speaking about the deepest questions to whoever was at this table—most of them new acquaintances—as though he were just making small talk."
Throughout the book, Peterson supplies small and strange interjections of autobiography. He recalls the time an old friend named Ed came to visit, accompanied by another guy who was, in Peterson's estimation, "stoned out of his gourd." Alarmed, Peterson staged a kind of intervention. "I took Ed aside and told him politely that he had to leave," Peterson writes. "I said that he shouldn't have brought his useless bastard of a companion." Ed took his friend and left—fearing, perhaps, to discover what a less polite admonition would have sounded like.
Peterson has a way of making even the mildest pronouncement sound like the dying declaration of a political prisoner. In "Maps of Meaning," he traced this sense of urgency to a feeling of fraudulence that overcame him in college. When he started to speak, he would hear a voice telling him, "You don't believe that. That isn't true." To ward off mental breakdown, he resolved not to say anything unless he was sure he believed it; this practice calmed the inner voice, and in time it shaped his rhetorical style, which is forceful but careful. In "12 Rules for Life," Peterson recounts a similar experience when, as a psychologist, he worked with a client diagnosed with paranoia. He says that such patients are "almost uncanny in their ability to detect mixed motives, judgment, and falsehood," and so he redoubled his efforts to say only what he meant. "You have to listen very carefully and tell the truth if you are going to get a paranoid person to open up to you," he writes. Peterson seems to have found that this approach works on much of the general population, too.
If he once had a tendency to shut himself up, Peterson has wholly overcome it. "Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding," he proclaims (Rule 11), but the expected riff about "overprotected" children leads elsewhere: to a grim story about a troubled friend who committed suicide, and then to a remembrance of a professor who boasted that he and his wife had made an ethical decision to have only one child, and from there to an argument that both the unhappy friend and the arrogant professor were "anti-human, to the core." Elsewhere in the chapter, he writes that "boys' interests tilt towards things" and "girls' interests tilt towards people," and that these interests are "strongly influenced by biological factors." He is particularly concerned about boys and men, and he flatters them with regular doses of tough love. "Boys are suffering in the modern world," he writes, and he suggests that the problem is that they're not boyish enough. Near the end of the chapter, he tries to coin a new catchphrase: "Toughen up, you weasel."
When he does battle as a culture warrior, especially on television, Peterson sometimes assumes the role of a strident anti-feminist, intent on ending the oppression of males by destroying the myth of male oppression. (He once referred to his critics as "rabid harpies.") But his tone is more pragmatic in this book, and some of his critics might be surprised to find much of the advice he offers unobjectionable, if old-fashioned: he wants young men to be better fathers, better husbands, better community members. In this way, he might be seen as an heir to older gurus of manhood like Elbert Hubbard, who in 1899 published a stern and wildly popular homily called "A Message to Garcia." (What young men most needed, Hubbard wrote, was "a stiffening of the vertebrae.") Peterson is an heir, too, to the professional pickup artists who proliferated in the aughts, making a different appeal to feckless men. Where the pickup artists promised to make guys better sexual salesmen (sexual consummation was called "full close," as in closing a deal), Peterson, more ambitious, promises to help them get married and stay married. "You have to scour your psyche," he tells them. "You have to clean the damned thing up." When he claims to have identified "the culminating ethic of the canon of the West," one might brace for provocation. But what follows, instead, is prescription so canonical that it seems self-evident: "Attend to the day, but aim at the highest good." In urging men to overachieve, he is also urging them to fit in, and become productive members of Western society.
Every so often, Peterson pauses to remind his readers how lucky they are. "The highly functional infrastructure that surrounds us, particularly in the West," he writes, "is a gift from our ancestors: the comparatively uncorrupt political and economic systems, the technology, the wealth, the lifespan, the freedom, the luxury, and the opportunity." This may sound strange to readers in the United States, where a widespread perception of dysfunction unites politicians and commentators who agree on little else. But Peterson does not live in Donald Trump's America; in Canada, the Prime Minister is Justin Trudeau, who seems to strike Peterson as the embodiment of wimpy and fraudulent liberalism. Recently, after Trudeau tried to cut off a rambling questioner by half-joking that she should say "peoplekind" instead of "mankind," Peterson appeared on "Fox & Friends" to register his objection. "I'm afraid that our Prime Minister is only capable of running his ideas on a few very narrow ideological tracks," he said.
Peterson seems to view Trump, by contrast, as a symptom of modern problems, rather than a cause of them. He suggests that Trump's rise was unfortunate but inevitable—"part of the same process," he writes, as the rise of "far-right" politicians in Europe. "If men are pushed too hard to feminize," he warns, "they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology." Peterson sometimes asks audiences to view him as an alternative to political excesses on both sides. During an interview on BBC Radio 5, he said, "I've had thousands of letters from people who were tempted by the blandishments of the radical right, who've moved towards the reasonable center as a consequence of watching my videos." But he typically sees liberals, or leftists, or "postmodernists," as aggressors—which leads him, rather ironically, to frame some of those on the "radical right" as victims. Many of his political stances are built on this type of inversion. Postmodernists, he says, are obsessed with the idea of oppression, and, by waging war on oppressors real and imagined, they become oppressors themselves. Liberals, he says, are always talking about the importance of compassion—and yet "there's nothing more horrible for children, and developing people, than an excess of compassion." (This horror, he says, is embodied in the figure of the "Freudian devouring mother"; as an example, he cites Ursula, the sea witch from "The Little Mermaid.") The danger, it seems, is that those who want to improve Western society may end up destroying it.
Peterson thinks that this danger has a lot to do with men and women, and the changing way we think about them. "The division of life into its twin sexes occurred before the evolution of multi-cellular animals," he writes, by way of arguing that human beings are bound to care about this division. During his Channel 4 News debate, Cathy Newman pressed him on whether he supported gender equality, and he replied that it depended on what the term meant. "If it means equality of outcome, then almost certainly it's undesirable," he said. "Men and women won't sort themselves into the same categories, if you leave them alone." (He mentioned that in Scandinavia, an unusually egalitarian part of the world, men are vastly overrepresented among engineers, and women among nurses.) Convictions such as these inspire in him a general skepticism of efforts to redress gender inequality. He has argued that traditionally feminine traits, such as agreeableness, are not historically correlated with professional success. (He says that, as a psychologist, he has often counselled female clients to be more assertive at work.) When Newman suggested that this correlation might merely reflect the ways women have been shut out of corporate leadership, Peterson sounded doubtful. "It could be the case that if companies modified their behavior, and became more feminine, that they would be successful," he said. "But there's no evidence for that."
Peterson is not primarily interested in policy, but he was eager to join the debate over C-16, the Canadian bill forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. In opposing the bill, Peterson claimed the mantle of free speech. "There's a difference," he explained, "between saying that there's something you can't say, and saying that there are things that you have to say." But if laws against discrimination also prohibit harassment, they will necessarily prohibit some forms of verbal harassment—and they will therefore, to a greater or lesser extent, limit speech. Canada already limits speech in ways that the U.S. does not: a law against "hate speech" was repealed in 2013, but the government still bans "hate propaganda." From an American perspective, such laws may seem ill-advised, or even oppressive. Still, like many free-speech arguments, this one was in large part a debate over the political status of a minority group.
The C-16 debate is over, for now—the bill passed and was enacted last summer. But Peterson remains a figurehead for the movement to block or curtail transgender rights. When he lampoons "made-up pronouns," he sometimes seems to be lampooning the people who use them, encouraging his fans to view transgender or gender-nonbinary people as confused, or deluded. Once, after a lecture, he was approached on campus by a critic who wanted to know why he would not use nonbinary pronouns. "I don't believe that using your pronouns will do you any good, in the long run," he replied.
So what does Peterson actually believe about gender and pronouns? It can be hard to tell. Later in that campus conversation, when asked whether, in the absence of legal coercion, he would be willing to use pronouns such as "they" and "them" if a trans person asked him to, Peterson demurred. "It might depend on how they asked," he said. One of his foundational beliefs is that cultures evolve, which suggests that nonstandard pronouns could become standard. In a debate about gender on Canadian television, in 2016, he tried to find some middle ground. "If our society comes to some sort of consensus over the next while about how we'll solve the pronoun problem," he said, "and that becomes part of popular parlance, and it seems to solve the problem properly, without sacrificing the distinction between singular and plural, and without requiring me to memorize an impossible list of an indefinite number of pronouns, then I would be willing to reconsider my position."
Despite his fondness for moral absolutes, Peterson is something of a relativist; he is inclined to defer to a Western society that is changing in unpredictable ways. In discussing the many women who have criticized him, he has talked about how verbal disagreements commonly contain an implicit threat of violence, and about how such implicit threats are "forbidden" when men are addressing women. And yet, even when the topic is as elemental as male-female violence, our norms are changing: in the United States, laws against spousal violence were first enacted in the middle of the nineteenth century; laws against spousal rape are only a few decades old. Not long ago, these laws might have seemed intrusive and disruptive; now, many people shudder at the notion that it might ever have been legal for a man to physically assault his wife. Peterson excels at explaining why we should be careful about social change, but not at helping us assess which changes we should favor; just about any modern human arrangement could be portrayed as a radical deviation from what came before. In the case of gender identity, Peterson's judgment is that "our society" has not yet agreed to adopt nontraditional pronouns, which isn't quite an argument that we shouldn't. And this judgment isn't likely to be persuasive to people in places—like some North American college campuses, perhaps—where the singular "they" has already come to seem like part of the social fabric.
A different kind of culture warrior might express hostility to nontraditional pronouns in religious terms—in the United States, the fight against legal rights for L.G.B.T.Q. people has largely been led by believers. But Peterson—like his hero, Jung—has a complicated relationship to religious belief. He reveres the Bible for its stories, reasoning that any stories that we have been telling ourselves for so long must be, in some important sense, true. In a recent podcast interview, he mentioned that people sometimes ask him if he believes in God. "I don't respond well to that question," he said. "The answer to that question is forty hours long, and I can't condense it into a sentence." Forty hours, it turns out, is the approximate length of a lecture series that he created based on "Maps of Meaning."
At times, Peterson emphasizes his interest in empirical knowledge and scientific research—although these tend to be the least convincing parts of "12 Rules for Life." There is an extended analogy between human beings and lobsters, based on the observation that male lobsters that have proven themselves dominant produce more serotonin; he suggests that when people "slump around," like weakling lobsters, they, too, will run short on serotonin, which will make them unhappy. The fact that serotonin has varied and sometimes contradictory effects scarcely matters here: Peterson's story about the lobster is essentially a modern myth. He wants forlorn readers to imagine themselves as heroic lobsters; he wants an image of claws to appear in their mind whenever they feel themselves start to slump; he wants to help them.
Peterson wants to help everyone, in fact. In his least measured moments, he permits himself to dream of a world transformed. "Who knows," he writes, "what existence might be like if we all decided to strive for the best?" His many years of study fostered in him a conviction that good and evil exist, and that we can discern them without recourse to any particular religious authority. This is a reassuring belief, especially in confusing times: "Each human being understands, a priori, perhaps not what is good, but certainly what is not." No doubt there are therapists and life coaches all over the world dispensing some version of this formula, nudging their clients to pursue lives that better conform to their own moral intuitions. The problem is that, when it comes to the question of how to order our societies—when it comes, in other words, to politics—our intuitions have proved neither reliable nor coherent. The "highly functional infrastructure" he praises is the product of an unceasing argument over what is good, for all of us; over when to conform, and when to dissent. We can, most of us, sort ourselves out, or learn how to do it. That doesn't mean we will ever agree on how to sort out everyone else. ♦

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