Month: October 2016 (Page 2 of 3)

How you can get addicted to Twitter, and how you can break an addiction

A few years ago I was at the park with my kids and I saw a dad swinging his baby daughter in a baby swing. The baby chuckled and looked engagingly at her father but he missed returning her happy look because he was looking at his phone.
A small moment in time with a powerful impact.

Guest post by Salma Saad

Self-esteem comes from internalizing parental attention. The baby who repeatedly gets the shaft in comparison to the cell phone internalizes shame and inadequacy instead of a sense of self worth.

What kind of impact will our technology addiction have on our children? I myself regret with sadness that I have not always been as present with my own children as I would have liked to have been.

I worked in advertising and all the big brands that I worked on were addictive substances: soft drinks, fast food, technology, tobacco to name a few. If you watch the documentary “Hungry for Change” you can see how the food industry adds addictive substances to almost everything we eat because this keeps us buying more even though it makes us unhealthier.

As a society we are highly vulnerable to being manipulated by addictive products.

What makes us vulnerable and why are some people easier targets than others?

I don’t have what most people think of as addiction but in therapy I realized that I use a great many mechanisms to distract myself from my emotions. These included chronic work/busyness, daydreaming, technology, caretaking, etc. Most of us know what emotional eating is but eating isn’t the only thing our emotions leave us vulnerable to.

Image by Flickr user Sam Wolff. Shared under CC2.0 license.

Image by Flickr user Sam Wolff. Shared under CC2.0 license.

Stuffed feelings are a marketers dream because this makes us prone to unconsciously seeking out all kinds of material things to distract ourselves from our inner pains. We check social media, or eat some French fries, and it provides us with some temporary pleasure. But this takes us down the slippery slope of becoming dependent on external substances to regulate our emotions and achieve validation.

Over-working and over-exercising are examples of addictions that are often viewed positively and social media/technology addiction, serial dating and unhealthy relationships are regarded as “less serious” than substance abuse.

The nitty gritty of what goes on in our brain and bodies

I know people who say quitting addiction is about will power. There are those who can simply quit smoking cold turkey, for example. But doing so is not the same as a real recovery.

“White knuckling,” as it is called, relies on pure will power without addressing the underlying problems that continue to cause the craving. In fact, it often results in one replacing one harmful addiction with another.

Someone who stopped smoking and became obsessed with Tinder instead didn’t become any healthier. Yes smoking has harmful health affects but becoming hooked on validation from a dating app can have a detrimental affects too, such as long term loneliness.

So what happens inside your brain and your body that makes you vulnerable to addictive products?

Under normal conditions when a person gets scared the sympathetic nervous system automatically increases their heart rate, and then when the threat recedes the parasympathetic nervous system calms their body down.

In people who have experienced chronic threats in childhood the calming affect doesn’t kick in and the body stays on alert longer that it needs to.

Then when the same type of threat comes up again the body doesn’t go into alert as it should. For example, a woman who experienced domestic abuse as a child will disassociate instead of getting angry in her adult relationship therefore allowing the abuse to happen instead of stopping it in the moment.

If your body is too tense/alert when it shouldn’t be and also not tense/alert when it should be then you are going to be an easier target for addictive products and processes.

How I got better

I have had a problem with being too submissive due to the culture I was raised in. I have become more assertive by simply noticing my lack of anger because his helps me to feel the anger and stand up for myself. This started out very hit or miss but after a few times this got much better. I’m finding my voice and my anger is showing up appropriately and I am very glad about this.

Becoming aware and changing the behavior rewires neurons in the brain so that the behavior becomes easier over time.
If you feel that people get away with treating you badly, or if you have trouble saying no, or if you fail to stand up for yourself then pay attention to the activation level in your body in the moment when this is happening to you. Noticing the internal lack of response (not getting angry when you should) will help you speak up.

As you become more assertive your relationships will become more authentic.

I also grew up in danger and so my body is often on high alert even when there is nothing scary going on. I often pause and feel my body and I notice tension, shallow breathing, accelerated heart rate and a closed throat.

You can calm your body down by visualizing tender moments with people you love, such as your children, when you feel a high level of fear or defensiveness in your body. I sometimes wake up at night and I feel restless. I know that my body is highly activated for no reason.

At these times I visualize emotional moments with my kids or my kitten cuddling into my neck. Doing this calms my internal state very quickly and I am able to fall back asleep. I even had success with the practice of visualization during a stressful negotiation not long ago, and the result was very favorable for me.

People whose bodies are in a state of over- or under- arousal are not open to deep emotional connection and tend to have troubled relationships. My life has improved tremendously with respect to my relationships since I started therapy and mindfulness.

I’m not all better yet, rewiring the brain takes time but so much has already improved for me. I hope that sharing my experience will provide some value to others who are struggling with similar issues to myself.

Salma works in technology and is a mother to two boys and two cats. She enjoys writing on many different topics including parenting, technology, her upbringing in the Muslim culture, PTSD from growing up in the third word and other life experiences. You can find more of her blog posts on Medium.

Republican obstructionism looks to continue through Clinton’s presidency

When the Republicans unconditionally blocked President Barack Obama’s appointment of any Supreme Court justice, leaving the court lacking one justice and resulting in split cases this year, they argued that the next president should be charged with appointing the next justice. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said.

That was before Donald Trump had been nominated and when the Republicans thought they had a good chance of winning the 2016 election. Will Republicans give in to the voice of the American people now that Hillary Clinton is looking like she will almost certainly win the election?

The fat lady isn’t singing yet, but Senator John McCain lent his voice. “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,” the Arizona Republican said.

Pragmatic liberals like Mother Jones‘s Kevin Drum should dampen their optimism about how easily President Clinton will be able to work with a Republican congress.

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FT “How the west has lost the world”: A rebuttal

Phillip Stevens of FT had an excellent piece “How the west has lost the world“, dated October 13th, 2016.
It is an astute piece that highlights how the declining trust in Western institutions, as well as the relative decline in American power and European chaos is leading to a more anarchic world.
I agree with most of it.
There was, however, one paragraph, which, I’m afraid, doesn’t strictly do justice to a concept he attempted to describe and characterise. The para is where he mentions Realism as a sort of fatalism which means one should let the nations sort out their positions, and there will be an equilibrium by itself.

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My latest post at National Interest


You’re sick of hearing about what should be done in Syria, aren’t you? So am I.

Here, read what we should do.

The crazy levels of false equivalency Clinton opponents will go to

Clinton is just as much a liar and unfit to be president as Donald Trump. At least that’s what many conservative critics of Clinton are saying.

It’s a bunch of false equivalency.

Take James O’Keefe, a conservative activist who secretly records videos (that he often edits out of context). He claims to have recorded a video of a low level Florida Democratic field worker (or, in O’Keefe’s words, a “Clinton staffer”) speculating on how he could get away with committing sexual assault.

“I think the bar of acceptable conduct in this campaign is pretty low. To be fired I would have to grab Emma’s ass twice and she would have to complain about it, I would have to sexually harass someone,” the field worker, Wylie Mao, said, according to Politico’s summary of O’Keefe’s video.

O’Keefe issued a statement making his motive for the video clear: “Let’s get this straight. Trump’s ‘grab them by the’ [self-censored pause] generated wall-to-wall TV coverage and generated the narrative that this is his true character and how he acts with women. Therefore, because of the precedent set by the mainstream media, I expect wall-to-wall-coverage of this Hillary staffer bragging about the ease that you can commit sexual harassment inside Hillary’s campaign and not get fired.”

Seriously, how stupid do they think we are?
Does O’Keefe really think that a Field Organizer for the Florida Democratic Party, who has worker for them for 3 whole months (according to his LinkedIn page) (allegedly) making inappropriate comments about sexual assault = the Republican nominee for president bragging about sexual assault?

Ignore for a moment the fact that Mao’s comments weren’t as bad as Trump’s (he didn’t say that he committed sexual assault, as Trump did say). Who the hell is Wylie Mao? Does O’Keefe have any videos of Hillary Clinton bragging about having committed sexual assault?

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The madness of calling for a No Fly Zone in Syria

The Labour MPs in Britain and assorted bleeding heart Twitter liberals called again for a No Fly Zone in Syria. One might have wondered that this insanity is over, but no…like a Phoenix it comes up every time there’s a bombing raid in Aleppo.

Unfortunately, Labour’s plan had zero specifics on how the NFZ would be achieved. Nothing on how to do it. Nothing about security dilemma or escalatory spiral. Nothing on why should we do it anyway, other than to “save Syrians”. Or what British interest would it achieve. Nothing about if a Western plane gets shot down, should we counter escalate, or climb down.

Here’s a simple war gaming simulation for all the Twitter bleeding hearts. Let’s go on to impose a NFZ in Syria. We try and knock out C4ISR. The Syrians delegate their anti-air ops to the Rus. The Russians come with fighter escorts, or worse, the Russians shoot down a Western jet. The Russians then say it was rebels or ISIS that shot it down. Should the West escalate? Climb down? If they climb down, what about perception and resolve? What if there is asymmetric escalation? Proxies attacking Western interests in other places? What about mission creep? If you haven’t done these aforementioned threat assessments and are calling for NFZ or intervention, you’re insane. Leave it to the pros. If you still want to take risk of escalation with Russia over Syria where there’s no long term geo-strategic interest, you’re an idiot. 

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B+D editor on being a Republican woman facing sexism from the party’s nominee

“We don’t need you to stand up for us, YOU needed to stand up for us for YOU.”

Marybeth Glenn is a contributing editor to Bombs + Dollars. A long time conservative Republican, she has been appalled this election with Donald Trump’s sexism and bigotry, the most recent example being the release of audio from 2005 of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting and hitting on married women. Editor Mitchell Blatt has already written his take on why Trump is wrong to try to normalize such depraved actions and comments. Glenn’s comments add the hard-hitting perspective of a conservative woman–and the first one has been retweeted over 3,000 times and liked over 7,000 times. Now presenting them in order:

Read more:

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Tony Blair has an important insight on Iraq & Syria, but takes the wrong lesson.

Esquire published a long interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which Blair is put on the defensive about the Iraq War and the relationships his consulting firms had forged with authoritarian governments during his post-electoral politics career.

Interviewer and author Alex Bilmes emphasizes the degree to which Blair is disliked–hated even–by the British (and global) left. The idea that Blair was duplicitous in making the case for war or that he blindly followed U.S. President George W. Bush clearly annoys Blair, as Blair stated more than once in the course of multiple interviews Esquire published. Beyond that, Blair also defended his decision to join the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq on the merits; he doesn’t think that, on the whole, it was a mistake.

The arguments for and against are all so well worn, but Blair did offer one interesting new argument (that couldn’t have been made in 2002) that deserves consideration:

[W]hat people have got to bear in mind is that we have now had full intervention with boots on the ground, which is Iraq, partial intervention in Libya, without boots on the ground, and no intervention in Syria. And actually in only one of these countries, which is Iraq, is there a functioning government that is recognised as internationally legitimate, including by Saudi Arabia and Iran, and is actually capable of fighting terrorism. Now, maybe the Libyan government is getting there now but in Syria it’s a nightmare. So my point is very simple. I take a far longer perspective on this.”

I particularly emphasis his first sentence. Libya, Syria, and Iraq were all handled differently, and all turned into messes. Although Blair argues that Iraq is the best functioning government of the three, that is hardly a standard to be proud of. Even if Iraq maintains territorial unity and establishes ongoing control of its borders in the future–after having been overrun by ISIS–all indications are that it will remain a corrupt and factional government.

What Blair may be right about is that not intervening won’t prevent factional ethnic conflicts from arising and causing regional instability.

The takeaway for me, however, is that intervention into ethnic conflicts is not a solution either. Neither non-intervention, nor half-backed intervention, nor nation-building can solve tensions that have existed for centuries. The solution, then, would appear to be to let the parties fight it out, knowing that there is little to nothing the U.S. can do to end the Sunni-Shia split, and contain the impact. Trying to build a pluralistic nation in a place like Iraq with the current situation will always end a failure. That may not be the way we would like the world to be, but we have to deal with the world as it is. As I wrote for The Federalist last month, it’s time to end ideology-based foreign policy.

A few more thoughts on the interview:

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#NoNotAllMen: Most Men Are Not Sexual Assault Proponents Like Trump

This week a video of Donald Trump bragging in 2005 about “grabbing women by the pussy” was released, causing a horde of Republicans to stampede from his sinking ship campaign.

In defense, Trump and his backers have sided with extreme feminists. What Trump said at age 59 about sexually assaulting women and committing adultery is just normal “locker room talk” amongst guys. There’s nothing to see here. All men brag about violating women against their will.

If you are paying attention, you will note that accusing all men of engaging in sexual assault and serial adultery is demeaning to men.

And yet… This is exactly the argument that the supposed opponents of political correctness at Fox News and on the Trump campaign are making.

I have noticed before that Trump isn’t defeating political correctness but rather legitimizing all the claims the PC left makes.

As I wrote at The Federalist:

Social justice warriors paint a dismal picture of American society. They say America is inexcusably racist, sexist, “Islamophobic,” homophobic, and guilty of a laundry list of other -isms and newly named offenses. In July 2015, when feminist blogger Kiran Gandhi ran a marathon without a tampon while on her period to protest “period shaming,” I didn’t even know “period shaming” was a thing. Who, of influence, has ever shamed women for having a natural occurrence take place?, I thought.

I found out a few weeks later, when, after the first Republican debate, the man who would become the presumptive Republican nominee appeared to shame moderator Megyn Kelly for just that. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” Donald Trump said, as he tried to dispute the allegation that he had expressed misogynistic views. Just like that, what once appeared to be a manufactured boogeyman became a real thing, and feminist SJWs had an actual example they could point to of what they oppose.

Also notable is how the right-wing populists make such explicit use of identity politics. As I wrote, “Only Difference Between SJWs And Alt-Righters Is Which Identities They Hate”:

The interesting thing about many of Breitbart’s headlines isn’t just the casual bigotry and insanity but the obsession with identity politics present in such articles as “Straight People Have Ruined Gay Rights,” which argued for straights to be banned from gay spaces. Nothing would need to change for those words to be published nearly verbatim at Salon.

Other articles would look just like Salon if only a few words were changed. “Why Equality and Diversity Departments Should Only Hire Rich, Straight White Men,” would just need to change the identity words to SJW-preferred groups. Another Breitbart writer was outraged about “How Feminist Propaganda is Destroying Men’s Lives,” just the kind of article Salon publishes when the topic is “rape culture” and the lives in question are female.

So Trump is politically correct in his own right-wing way. Beyond that, he’s also wrong that all or even most men are serial adulterers and sexual assaulters.

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My endorsement: Why Hillary Clinton would be a more conservative president and stronger on defense

Donald Trump isn’t unqualified to be president just because of the latest video released on him bragging about sexually assaulting women. He’s already been rendered disqualified for the office of the presidency for multiple other things he has said and done. This video would be enough to disqualify him if it was only the first disgraceful thing released about him. As it stands, the video emphasizes and crystallizes the personality aspects that already disqualify him—his entitlement, his arrogance, his uncontrollable narcissism, his extreme sexism (which already had him spending a week attacking a Miss Universe winner for her alleged weight gain), and his general loutishness and hateful demeanor.

Republican Congressmen who had already put up with him spreading racism, attacking POWs, attacking the families of dead soldiers, attacking female reporters, attacking the profession of journalism, and attacking anyone who ever said anything halfway critical of Trump are starting to finally jump ship. Some have called for Trump to drop out and his vice presidential candidate Mike Pence to be promoted to the top of the ticket. Others have said they will not vote for Trump for president.

Bombs + Dollars has been against Trump since before he won the nomination. We pointed out the very things that made Trump deplorable before much of the GOP finally appeared to realize the problem (or, more likely, before they realized the political problem was so great they could no longer whitewash it). On January 24, I wrote, as a representative of this publication:

Here we have a candidate who threatens to sue newspapers for reporting on his bankruptcies, who said he would “certainly” create a government database of Muslims in America, who incited his fans to physically assault a non-violent protester and said that they were right to do so, defended Putin from charges that he kills political opponents by equivocating the United States with Russia (“Our country does plenty of killing, too”), and his personal account tweets racist messages about “white genocide”. This is all fact. He has done it all. No amount of politically correct denials from Team Trump can change the reality.

Since then, Trump has only added to the list of disqualifying actions.

When Trump won the Republican nomination, Bombs + Dollars reiterated our opposition: #NeverTrump means never Trump. In that editorial, we did not endorse a candidate, instead opting for an anti-endorsement of Trump. We will maintain our policy of not endorsing a candidate as a publication, but we will be printing endorsements of individual Bombs + Dollars writers and editors. As such, this functions as my personal endorsement.

First, the Republican Party doesn’t deserve to have Trump replaced on their ticket. Any attempt to replace Trump this close to the election would result in a three-way Syrian-style war of legal fighting that would make Bush v. Gore look boring. The Republican Party would be fighting both the Democrats and the Trump campaign. But aside from practical considerations, the GOP just doesn’t deserve to have a mulligan after having lost this election.

There have been many principled conservatives who knew Trump was a terrible person and an unelectable candidate. #NeverTrump had been saying loud and clear for months that the same man who insulted John McCain early on in his campaign for being a POW would implode. Imagine the surprise when he did!

Trump lost almost all of the public polls in the spring—and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz won most of them. So now, one month before the election, when Trump is losing badly and a video just came out that would guarantee he couldn’t turn it around, much of the party’s elected Congresspeople finally wake up to the realization?

Sorry, Republican Party, but your denouncements at this moment look more opportunistic than principled. You should have let the #NeverTrump delegates vote at the convention on whether they could vote against Trump when they gave you an out. The party leadership didn’t even let them vote on it, and they even appeared to break party rules with arm twisting or outright fraud when they withdrew the petitions of three states. The Republican Party made its bed, and now it must lie in it.

My endorsement, and why the “burn it down” crowd is wrong

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