“How often do you feel close to people?” As many as 30 percent of Americans don’t feel close to people at a given time…
Natural selection favored people who needed people. Humans are vastly more social than most other mammals, even most primates, and to develop what neuroscientists call our social brain, we had to be good at cooperating. To raise our children, with their slow-maturing cerebral cortexes, we needed help from the tribe. To stoke the fires that cooked the meat that gave us the protein that sustained our calorically greedy gray matter, we had to organize night watches. But compared with our predators, we were small and weak. They came after us with swift strides. We ran in a comparative waddle.
So what would happen if one of us wandered off from her little band, or got kicked out of it because she’d slacked off or been caught stealing? She’d find herself alone on the savanna, a fine treat for a bunch of lions. She’d be exposed to attacks from marauders. If her nervous system went into overdrive at perceiving her isolation, well, that would have just sent her scurrying home. Cacioppo thinks we’re hardwired to find life unpleasant outside the safety of trusted friends and family, just as we’re pre-programmed to find certain foods disgusting.
Jay is all about connecting people to people to improve health. It’s a great personal mission.
Good reading. Stuff I kind of knew already—but organized and argued in a way that I hadn’t fully considered. I’m surprised the author didn’t also discuss findings of the Adverse Childhood Experiences studies, given the connection she made between childhood loneliness, chronic illness, and parenting presence being greatly decreased in lower socioeconomic households.
I liked this hopeful ending note:
“But there’s something awe-inspiring about our resilience, too. Put an orphan in foster care, and his brain will repair its missing connections. Teach a lonely person to respond to others without fear and paranoia, and over time, her body will make fewer stress hormones and get less sick from them. Care for a pet or start believing in a supernatural being and your score on the UCLA Loneliness Scale will go down. Even an act as simple as joining an athletic team or a church can lead to what Cole calls ‘molecular remodeling.’”
Human plasticity. So damn cool.
Related but not: I’m always in a constant state of wonder over humans as an organism. It’s amazing to consider how our various biologic systems interact and feedback to each other in response to a myriad of outside factors. I may not have gotten a career directly out of my Human Biology undergraduate degree, but I am comforted by knowing that my life-long geeky passion will never fade.
Cats may be famous literary pets, but who knew the propaganda art of the anti-suffragist movement had an entire cat-centric sub-genre? As felines represented the domestic sphere and thus the feminine, they were used to portray suffragists as incompetent and unintelligent.
What the actual fuck?
John Oliver on American OREO PIZZA
I’m sorry I couldn’t find a better version but this joke was effing hilarious.
This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism. Subscribe here to receive this round-up by email.
This round-up will be on hiatus next Friday, but will return!
- Dexter Filkins’ longform inside look into the White House’s ongoing debate over what to do about Syria.
- Robert Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria, slipped secretly into northern Syria on Thursday in order to speak with opposition leaders.
- Syrian internet experienced a 19-hour blackout, but has been restored.
- Turkey is testing Syrians who seek medical care across the border for the effects of chemical weapons use.
- PKK rebels have begun to leave Turkey following a truce.
- Four Filipino UN peacekeepers were seized in the Golan Heights.
- Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi reshuffled his cabinet, increasing the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- A new hearing was held on Benghazi attacks.
- Kenya has asked the ICC to halt the court proceedings against President Uhuru Kenyatta.
- A UN peacekeeper was killed in eastern Congo.
- Nigeria’s hunt for Islamists is highly costly to civilians, whose bodies are pouring into Nigeria’s morgues.
- The US expanded its Iran sanctions again.
- Iran unveiled a new drone.
- Karzai has said that the US military is allowed to continue to keep bases in Afghanistan after the end of the combat mission.
- In the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress, direct accusations of cyberattacks were made against China.
- Thousands protested in Moscow against politically-motivated prosecutions.
- Northern Ireland’s leaders make plans for the peace walls to come down by 2023.
- The upkeep for Guantánamo Bay comes in at $900,000 an inmate.
- Military photos from inside the prison’s hunger strike.
- The chief of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kusinski, was arrested for… sexual assault.
- A new report on sexual assault in the military shows a 6% increase in reported sexual assaults in 2012 and Pentagon estimates say that 26,000 women were sexually assaulted (up from estimates of 19,000 in 2011).
- 17 nuclear missile launch officers at Minot Air Force Base have been removed from duty.
- The question of where deceased Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev would be buried has been answered. He is apparently buried at a mystery location outside of Massachusetts.
- On the relationship between Russia and the FBI.
- The FBI is pushing for more eavesdropping and spying power, specifically more power to monitor online communication, a wish that seems likely to be granted.
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Photo: Relatives of Iraqi Shi’ite fighter Diaa Mutashar al-Issawi mourn him Monday in Basra. Nabil Al-Jurani/AP.
In case you haven’t discovered this amazingly helpful Tumblr yet.
Ok… besides some of these historical figures being not actually Marxist (in other words they paid a hell of a lot of lip service to Marx in order to become highly successful totalitarian mass murdering fuckheads or forgot completely about that whole bottom-up thing), still pretty fucking hilarious.
Plus there’s that whole Stalin was hot thing… still don’t know how to feel about that one.
The Karl Marx Drinking Game
We’re taking off for Labor Day Weekend soon so leave you with a game. Play it wisely, play it well and remember to drink responsibly.
Meantime, with Marx in mind, Slate reminds us that he and Friedrich Engels were quite the drinkers:
Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were in their 20s at the time, and neither was a drinking novice. Marx first demonstrated talent in the beerhounding field during his first and only year at the University of Bonn. It was, in the understated phrase of his father, a period of “wild rampaging.” As a co-president of his “tavern club,” the lad often tangled with the rival Borussia Korps, which would force him and his bourgeois brethren to kneel in allegiance to the Prussian aristocracy. In hopes of repelling their attacks, Marx started packing a pistol, and a bullet grazed his brow in the duel that inevitably resulted; boys will be boys. He transferred schools, got serious about philosophy, and fell in with the Young Hegelians for a while. To blow off steam while working on his Ph.D., he would knock back pints with Bruno Bauer; they would now and then get smashed and ride donkeys down the main streets of villages.
Engels, meanwhile, had been educating his palate, preparing to become first great champagne socialist. One month-long vacation in the French countryside found young Engels “more or less squiffy all the time,” and his most recent biographer likens his diary of the trip to “an upmarket wine-tour brochure.” (Sample text: “Within a few bottles one can experience every intermediate state from the exultation of the cancan to the tempestuous fever heat of revolution, and then finally with a bottle of champagne one can again drift into the merriest carnival mood in the world!”) An industrialist and a revolutionary, Engels spent two years learning the family business at Ermen and Engels’ Victoria Mill outside of Manchester, England, witnessing the horrors of child labor and gathering material for his first book, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.
Late that summer, Engels passed through Paris and arranged a get together with Marx, who had recently hatched his theory of alienated labor—of the worker as the “plaything of alien forces.” On Aug. 28, 1844, they got faded at Café de la Régence and kept going for “10 beer-soaked days,” as one historian puts it—two dudes joined in a buzzing discussion where they broke it all down, as dudes will. This was bitching about work on the highest level, Marx and Engels in Paris and going gorillas.
Read through to learn what beers Slate recommends for your labor celebrations.
We’ll be posting infrequently until next week but look forward to be back at it then.