Tag: Drew Westen
originally published on November 1, 2010
In my post last week (Wow, France… Why can’t we do that here?!??), I asked, as the title suggests, what prevents the kind of broad, committed, collective action that we’re seeing in France from happening here in the United States. This is especially perplexing, given that their strike is about opposing the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62 – whereas here our retirement age is already later than that, our college tuition rates promise a lifetime of debt, our health care system is all sorts of effed up, our hours are longer, our vacations shorter, our social safety net far less comprehensive. I could go on.
I started to answer my own question, discussing the mechanics of how collective action and protest have been negatively branded here, so as to effectively inoculate many people against participation. In response (over at Daily Kos), Pesto asked:
The $64,000 question WRT inoculation is why it hasn’t worked as well elsewhere. It’s not as if multinational corporations in France never considered trying to break French workers’ solidarity or willingness to shut the economy down to win what they want. They certainly understand the basic concepts of propaganda that have worked so well in the US. But whatever they’ve been trying in France hasn’t been working very well.
Big question. Where to begin? Well, why not start with Lady Gaga? More specifically, let’s start with CNN’s utilization of Lady Gaga as a cultural intermediary in their “coverage” of the strikes:
France strike – Some 200 demonstrators blocked France’s Marseille-Provence airport for more than three hours Thursday as strikes and protests continued across the country. The action comes ahead of a final vote on the country’s Pension Reform Bill. Pop star Lady Gaga postponed two Paris shows this weekend because of “the logistical difficulties due to the strikes,” her website said.
originally published on October 28, 2010
Stephen Colbert’s much-publicized March to Keep Fear Alive tomorrow-and his whole schtick really-may be making a far greater political impact than you consciously realize. I’m no neuroscientist, but I might even argue that the faux right-wing pundit is physically altering the very structure of your brain.
Such an outlandish allegation requires a little set-up. Ready for an adventure into the political brain?
Let’s start with rats.
In a brilliant Radiolab episode called Memory and Forgetting (I highly recommend listening to the first 21 minutes here), hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich discuss a memory experiment with rats. They play an audio tone for a rat, just before giving it a slight electrical shock. Predictably, the next time the tone is played, the rat reacts. Here’s Jad:
The moment it hears the tone and then feels the shock, inside its head a bunch of neurons start to build a connection… Memory is a structure that connects one brain cell to another. So the next time that the rat hears that damn tone, since inside its brain tone brain cells are physically connected to shock brain cells, it’s gonna know that after this [tone sound plays] comes this [shock sound effect plays]. Instead of just listening passively, it’s gonna freeze, bracing itself for what is about to happen.