Thick Vs Thin Identity

Report: “Thick” vs. “thin” ethnic or racial identities: A comprehensive or thick ethnic identity or racial tie is one that organizes a great deal of social life and both individual and collective action. Thick identity powerfully shape most aspects of social life. Up until the 1990s in South Africa, race determined whom you could marry, where you lived, how you were treated by the police, employment opportunities, political power, etc. Basically, racial identity was exceptionally thick.

A less comprehensive or “thin” ethnic tie is one that organizes relatively little of social life and action. Today, ethnic identity for Italian Americans is relatively thin. They celebrate and express it in various ways, but other dimensions of social life- such as class, gender, or religion tend to be more powerful shapers of daily life and experience. However, identities change over time. First-generation Italian immigrants have thicker ethnic ties to their Italian culture than third or fourth as many of them have married non-Italians, don’t speak the language, or have any familial ties back in Italy. Not all timelines move in this way. When Europeans first began colonizing the United States, Native Americans had no sense of a unified, all-encompassing identity. However, Europeans still viewed them as one unit. As the awareness of this boundary grew stronger, Native American identity became a significant part of natives’ own self identity and became the basis for a collective action for civil rights. Circumstantialism helps explain how racial identity is thick in one context and thin in others. Social change, or groups’ economic, political, and social positions can also change ethnic identities.


Whether it is the call to “resist” Donald Trump and the radical right or a declaration that American citizens will “never again” be terrorized by gun violence, protest abounds in the digital age. Indeed, Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs)—or the technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, wireless networks, telephone lines and other communication media that give us access to information—challenge how scholars think about collective action.1 This is no less true of collective identity processes.2 Current scholarship includes the
role of communication in collective identity formation. Scholars, however, reach different conclusions regarding what constitutes collective identity and its importance in the digital age. For example, some scholars suggest that collective identity plays a peripheral role in contemporary mobilizations. In the hashtag era, mobilization results from individuals’ connections to issues rather than from their affinity for a collective or group (Bennett 2003; Bennett and Segerberg 2012). Thus, collective identity plays a diminished role in contemporary social
movements and can be understood by analyzing the connections among loosely-linked supporters who presumably share a common cognitive framework (Ackland and O’Neil 2011; Gerbaudo 2015; Monterde, Calleja-López, Auilera, Barandiaran, and Postill 2015). Other scholars disagree with this assessment, arguing that while communication protocols shape how movement supporters interact, ICTs provide spaces where adherents can form and maintain a
collective identity (Coretti and Pica 2015; Crossley 2015; Kavada 2015; Nip 2004). While it is not always clear what makes collective identity processes more or less successful, scholars contend that the evidence regarding the use of ICTs to cultivate commitment to a cause and organization is unambiguous.

We identify four factors that interact and make collective identity “thick” or “thin” in a group: the structure of communication; the breadth of its mobilization efforts; its goals (which may or may not include collective identity); and supporters’ interest in cultivating a political community. Thick identity results when an organization makes cultivating a collective identity a priority and structures communication in ways that facilitate interaction on- and offline. These groups allow interested supporters to interact freely and weigh in on organizational decisions. Interaction is critical, as it enables supporters to build trust, commitment, and solidarity, and it can facilitate in-person encounters that help collectivities define who they are and why participation matters. Activist groups trying to mobilize local (rather than national) constituencies may find it easier to create spaces on- and offline that encourage ongoing interaction and engagement in organizational decision making. Thin identity results when an organization does not make collective identity a priority and adopts a hierarchical structure of communication that allows leaders to control what and how information is disseminated to supporters as well as to determine the organization’s issues, campaigns, and goals. This structure of communication, which is more likely to be adopted by organizations mobilizing national constituencies, makes interpersonal interaction more difficult. This, in turn, makes it harder for supporters to build trust, commitment, and solidarity. Consequently, individuals are only superficially connected to one another and participation is primarily driven by their personal political priorities.

* If cultivating a collective identity is a priority, the organization will adopt a form that gives supporters a variety of ways to influence organizational agendas, actions, and goals (Staggenborg 1988). For example, an organization may adopt a decentralized and informal structure so that interaction is central to its decision-making processes. Ongoing interaction among group supporters not only nurtures collective identity, but also ensures that it is more representative of members’ particular political interests.

* If cultivating a collective identity is not a priority, an organization is far more likely to adopt a structure that minimizes supporters’ influence on organizational agendas, actions, and goals. In this case, a group’s structure may emphasize the role of leaders in making decisions and the importance of a professional staff in “doing activism” effectively. Members’ interactions with one another are minimized (Staggenborg 1988), and if members come together at all, it is typically on an annual basis to vote on a group’s leadership and staff. Consequently, while supporters may share a general political orientation (e.g., feminist or environmentalist),
they do not necessarily have a collective identity that reflects a shared sense of solidarity and commitment to a cause or group.

* Thick identity results when an organization makes cultivating collective identity a priority and structures communication in ways that facilitate interaction on- and offline. These organizations flatten information hierarchies, allowing supporters to interact freely and weigh in on organizational decisions. Interaction is critical, as it enables supporters to build trust, commitment, and solidarity over time. These emotional connections foster a thick identity because they provide a foundation for friendships and romantic relationships.

* MoveOn primarily focuses on raising money for professionally executed political campaigns and does not prioritize collective identity. Instead, it seeks to cultivate long-term donors, who occasionally participate in a campaign effort. To do this effectively, MoveOn adopts a hierarchical structure of communication and works to maintain control over its agenda, campaigns, and messages. Supporter input is limited, as is interaction. FTPM is interested in engaging the citizenry in local politics and thus puts more emphasis on the importance of cultivating a common collective identity, particularly among individuals who may agree on very little politically. In order to do so, the FTPM adopts a horizontal structure of communication, allowing supporters and leaders to interact and to directly determine the course of the movement and facilitating the development of groups and events that support, but are separate from, the FTPM.

* MoveOn’s tight control over the structure of communication also makes it difficult for activists to build connections with one another, particularly for those new to activism. For example, MoveOn does not provide ways for individuals to keep in touch after they participate in an event.

* FTPM cultivated thick collective identities by encouraging and facilitating interaction on- and offline. The supporters who stayed involved with the FTPM over the entire two-year observation period pointed to the importance of the Facebook page as well as the on the-ground groups for the creation of a political community that connected patriots to one another.

* the FTPM cultivated a thick collective identity among its supporters, in part, because Anthony made identity construction central to the movement from the outset. Anthony encouraged interaction among supporters while mitigating partisanship and political conflict. Initially his efforts were effective because he drew on affective emotions (pride and love) and patriotism, which simultaneously created a sense of “we-ness” and allowed for political disagreement. Consequently, unlike MoveOn supporters, individuals engaged with one another directly on issues in which they did not agree politically. FTPM’s horizontal structure of communication also enabled conservative groups to use the Facebook page to build their memberships on-the-ground. Leaders and members of Christians for Responsible Government and Citizens Holding Government Accountable interacted with FTPM supporters online and encouraged like-minded patriots to attend meetings offline. On the one hand, this created the grassroots infrastructure and political community necessary to ensure supporter engagement over time, even in Anthony’s absence. On the other hand, the FTPM’s collective identity constricted and became explicitly hostile to Democrats, people of color, and Muslims on- and offline, causing some supporters to leave the organization.

Here are excerpts from a 2012 article in GeoJournal:

* the contrast between ‘thick’ traditional and historical rooted well-established regional identities, and ‘thin’ regional identities which are more transitory and focus more on economic competitiveness.

* Traditional regional identities take—like national identities—many generations to develop. They are rooted in a long political history linked to the development of the nation state. Sometimes regions are more or less artificial constructions of the central state which over time develop a regional identity based on their political importance. Strong regional identities are however more frequently based on centuries old conflicts over the loss of political autonomy to the central state, like for instance in Catalonia and Scotland. Other conflicts within a nation state can also strengthen regional identities. Flanders regional identity is based on linguistic conflicts within the Belgian state. Long term conflicts over the spatial distribution of taxation and public spending can also boost regional identity.

* Globalisation also dramatically extends the reach of social networks. Together with the individualisation of society this transforms social networks and identity formation.’We replace the few depth relationships with a mass of thin and shallow contacts.’ (Bauman 2004, p. 69). The small stable local networks in which individuals were bound together with multiple bonds of kinship, friendship, work, church and mutual care disappear. These social ties are still important for individuals, but these ties become more separated from each other. Individuals increasingly choose with whom they have what kind of relation. The bonds in these individual centred social networks are weaker and more changeable. These individual networks are larger than traditional networks and the overlap between these individual networks decreases. The stable collective network is broken up into many changeable individual networks. Individual choice, rather than collective conventions and spatial proximity now determine social networks (Blokland 2003; Bauman 2004, 2001). Liquefaction takes place of social frameworks and institutions. Stable collective identities are replaced by chosen, fluid and temporary individual identities. ‘In the brave new world of fleeting chances and frail securities, the old-style stiff and non-negotiable identities simply won’t do.’ (Bauman 2004, p. 27). Discussing and communicating identities becomes more important while in the current phase of liquid modernity identities are undermined. Identities are sometimes temporarily fixed, but are lighter than tradition identities and can be changed more easily (Bauman 2004, pp. 13–46). Especially conflicts can temporarily strengthen communities. Shared identities are usually mobilised when interdependencies cause problems, like for instance economic restructuring affecting specific areas (Amin and Thrift 2002, p. 30; Savage et al. 2005, p. 56; Donaldson 2006). Despite the decline in the localised nature of social networks, residents are still in many ways interdependent. Living together in space makes them interdependent for their quality of life (Blokland 2003, pp. 78–79). Proximity, propinquity (Amin and Thrift 2002), or throwntogetherness (Massey 2005), are the basis of many temporary spatial identifications. Shared interests in a specific place and at a specific moment can create a new, but transitory, regional identity. The relation between identity and space, which has never been straightforward, is thus now further complicated through individualisation, migration, economic changes and political rescaling.

* Thin and thick are sometimes used as metaphors to characterise these changing social relations. Anton Zijderveld (2000) uses them to analyse the changing role of institutions and networks. ‘Today thick, greedy and closed institutions, conditioned by a heavy handed, often religiously and magically tabooed, coercive tradition, have been superseded by thinner, more voluntary, more open, and looser institutions which in the behaviour of people are often alternated or temporarily suspended by flexible networks.’ (Zijderveld 2000, p. 128). The distinction between thick and thin identity is also sometimes made. Thick identity is more based on a shared culture and community relations. Thin identity is more related to a specific problem and requires less direct involvement with other individuals. Thick identities have a normative aspect, while thin identities are more practical and utilitarian (Shelby 2005; Hinman 2003). Thick identities are more fixed and rooted in culture and history, while thin identities are more fluid and based on dialogue (Delanty and Rumford 2005, pp. 68–86).

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Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles

Here are some highlights from this 2021 book:

* In 1921, John Steven McGroarty, a poet who later became a congressman, wrote, “Los Angeles is the most celebrated of all incubators of new creeds, codes of ethics, philosophies—no day passes without the birth of something of this nature never heard of before.” The author Eve Babitz had her own version of this: “It’s very easy to stand L.A., which is why it’s almost inevitable that all sorts of ideas get entertained, to say nothing of lovers.”

* One word that never appeared in Aunt Lydia’s lectures at M.I.T.T. was Lifespring . Lifespring was a popular self-help program from the 1970s and ’80s, similar to groups like Landmark Forum or EST. As a large-group awareness training program (LGAT), as they were known among psychologists, Lifespring had offered a five-day “Basic” training followed by an “Advanced” class, followed by a “Leadership” program, all part of a self-help curriculum.
Marc Fisher, a journalist for The Washington Post , attended one of Lifespring’s Basic trainings in 1987. While reporting on the group, he learned that Lifespring’s executives had known for years that some trainees experienced adverse reactions. The group’s founder, John Hanley, told Fisher, “If a thousand people get benefit from the training, and one person is harmed, I’d can it.” And yet, according to Fisher’s investigation, over the years there were dozens of “casualties,” Lifespring’s name for people who left the training with severe psychological issues.
By the time the Post story went to print in October 1987, according to its reporting, about thirty-five trainees had sued Lifespring; six people had died. In one case, which Lifespring settled, a man who couldn’t swim was persuaded by his trainer to dive into a river to overcome his fear and drowned. “Lifespring denied any responsibility, saying that no one forced [him] to jump in the river,” Fisher wrote. “‘The training doesn’t cause anything,’ Hanley said then. ‘Life causes stuff.’” In another example cited by the Post , a woman had an asthma attack during a training. Trainers told her the asthma was self-induced. “When she finally left the room, she wandered into a parking lot, collapsed and died after five days in a coma.” Lifespring denied responsibility and paid the woman’s family $450,000 to settle their claim.
Thanks to Lifespring’s success, Hanley became a multimillionaire. Previous to Lifespring, he had committed a felony, Fisher learned. In 1969 Hanley and a partner were found guilty of mail fraud. In a separate case, the Wisconsin Justice Department sued Hanley and others for running a pyramid scheme, unrelated to Lifespring, which he paid to settle in 1973.

* Fast-forward to 1998. A Dutch woman named Margo Majdi, a Lifespring trainee and the owner of a beauty salon in Beverly Hills, purchased the rights to the trainings from Hanley. After a publicist told her that Lifespring had gained a bad reputation and she should consider rebranding, Majdi renamed it, coming up with M.I.T.T. “When I made it Mastery in Transformational Training, everybody thought I was crazy,” she told me later during an interview at her home. “Notice now everything is called mastery, mastermind, master this, master tribe…”

* the main purpose of M.I.T.T. seemed pretty clear to me: to make Ms. Majdi, Aunt Lydia, and whoever else a bunch of money, in a system where the biggest epiphanies were still one course away. And surely, even more faucets of cash would be opened if they persuaded us to draft our friends and family to join. Multiple people informed me that close to 100 percent of trainees were referrals—M.I.T.T. didn’t advertise—in part because students were eventually expected to recruit, or “enroll,” outsiders.

* Marc Fisher was now a senior editor at the paper. “This is the perfect time for a resurgence of interest in these kinds of programs,” he said. “We’re living in a time that’s tailor-made for an M.I.T.T., a Lifespring, or an EST. It’s a time of tremendous dislocation in people’s careers and the economies of families. It’s a time of political polarization. It’s a time of loss of community as a result of social media. It’s only natural that people are craving the connections and the meaning that these programs promise.” I asked him what stood out in his memory from thirty years ago. “The relative ease with which the guy running the program could assert control over a large room of people. And not just the willingness but the eagerness of people to be led and for someone to take authority over them.” He added, “Anytime we’re in a crisis of government, or parenting, or family structure—all those things that made this society so unsettled—for somebody to come along and tell you, ‘This is how things are going to be. This is what you need to do to fix it. And then everything’s going to be okay, or better’—that’s pretty powerful.”

* It is not difficult to find people in Los Angeles seeking transformation, and also those who would help them. Mystics, psychics, preachers. Life coaches who advertise their services on telephone poles. In the San Fernando Valley, a man known as “The O-Man,” an orgasm whisperer, was said to make women reach ecstasy dozens of times in a single session, though in the manner of a personal trainer. “I fix their posture and mobilize their joints,” he said in an online interview. “It’s pretty simple, just a twenty-to-thirty-minute massage followed by two hours of coming.”

* In On the Road , Jack Kerouac called Los Angeles “the loneliest and most brutal of American cities.” Around the same time, the English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Winnicott, writing in The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis , called the capacity for a human to be alone a sophisticated phenomenon. “It is closely related to emotional maturity. The basis of the capacity to be alone is the experience of being alone in the presence of someone.”

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California Dreaming

Some great comments on Steve Sailer’s site:

* Steve Sailer: I’ve lived on and off in L.A. since 1958. I figured out while I was still in high school that most people in Los Angeles think it was at its peak when they first can remember it, either as a small child or as a transplant.

Assisted by the countless movies filmed here, Los Angeles has a profoundly nostalgic culture. Nebraska-born director Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways) pointed out the the main appeal of living in L.A. (besides the weather) is the history…

Consider L.A.’s favorite sportscasters as evidence that deep down, Angelenos hate change.

Vin Scully was the voice of the Dodgers from 1958 to 2016.

Chick Hearn was the voice of the Lakers from 1961-2001, calling 3,338 consecutive Laker games over 1965-2001.

* The other thing that the Californian dream was that it was not just white but very WASPy. It seems to me that California was much more old stock than the big East Coast cities. In a way it was a last stand of old stock America in a big urban setting.

* I first visited California in the early 80s as a teenager who had never left the flat lands of the midwest. I was blown away by the mountains, the beauty of the coast, the glass-smooth roads and the overall cleanliness of the place.

After having lived there from 2008 to 2020, I can say it’s going downhill fast. Homeless living under overpasses; graffiti on the road signs; dry brush everywhere because no one can afford to water anything; confiscatory tax rates and draconian regulations on business.

I’m convinced the only reason the government of CA never changes is because they keep replacing those of us who know what CA used to be, and know what the rest of the country is like, with foreigners who find CA to be perfectly fine compared to the shit holes they fled.

* Nobel Prize winning physicist and founding president of Caltech, Robert Millikan, called LA in the ’40s “the westernmost outpost of Nordic civilization . . . [with] a population which is twice as Anglo-Saxon as that existing in New York, Chicago or any of the great cities of this country.”

Having said that, it was a different kind of WASP or founding stock culture than that of the East Coast. It was more middle and working class, as more established and upper-middle/upper class WASPs back east generally weren’t enticed or compelled to move far west to the deserts of southern California. There were always many evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant churches in LA and Socal unlike WASP areas in the Northeast that tended to be dominated by Mainline Protestants.

This class and cultural difference was why Socal was favorable towards middle/working class aspirations, but probably also responsible for the underlying hokeyness and middlebrow, superficial, anti-intellectual culture of Socal that persists.

* “California was mostly Irish and white trash.”

This is true of the white populations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. One side of my family, Irish and Scotch-Irish, migrated from Texas in the 1930s looking for work. An “Okie” dialect, which is indistinguishable from a Texas twang, is still prevalent in the white working class clusters in Fresno, Stockton, and Sacramento. Most of the white trash stayed in the valleys.

* Sailer: San Francisco was more post-Puritan New England highbrow than L.A.

The U.S. learned about how great the San Francisco Bay area was from Richard Henry Dana’s 1840 book Two Years Before the Mast. Dana was a Harvard student who’d signed up as a sailor.

L.A.’s gentry tended to be well-to-do Midwesterners who moved out for their health.

SF was more elitist, LA more egalitarian.

* Charlotte Allen: Don’t knock Olvera Street. Olvera Street is great. I’m a Southern California native (Pasadena), and I never fail to visit Olvera Street whenever I’m back in L.A. visiting family or whatever. It has it all: adobe houses from the early 19th century–the time of the missions–a beautiful old church, a lovely, tree-shaded plaza, great Mexican food at restaurants that have been there since forever, and wonderful Mexican tchotchkes for sale that are not made in China (Day of the Dead figurines, etc.). It is also unabashedly religious: a big cross, Our Lady of Guadalupe everywhere, Las Posadas as the big festival. The ACLU has not gotten to Olvera Street. Sure, it was set up in the 1930s as a tourist attraction for Anglos, and when it was growing up, it was derided as cornball and phony-baloney–who’d want to go there? But now, nearly 100 percent of the “tourists” are actually Mexican-Americans from L.A. They love it. The place is always packed.

Did you know my husband? Don Allen, student-body president, Hawthorne High, class of ’63? Grew up on 120th Street, in a house his father built himself after WW2. Everything but the plumbing and wiring. The Wilsons lived a few blocks away, and Dennis Wilson was in Don’s class. Hawthorne was a working-class paradise back then–before they widened 120th Street (Don’s old house is now a rental dump) and tore down all the little businesses on Hawthorne Blvd. to build that ghastly monstrosity of a shopping mall that failed almost immediately and is now a huge, lurking ghost-hulk that continues to destroy the street. Hawthorne today isn’t quite as decrepit as it looked in Pulp Fiction, and some of the little neighborhood-y side streets are quite pleasant with their little houses now entirely occupied by Mexicans. Since it’s not far from the beach, the climate is quite pleasant: about 10 degrees cooler in summer than downtown L.A. I don’t know why Hawthorne hasn’t been “discovered” as a gentrification locus, as it’s not that far south from Beverly Hills. I’ve always said that we ought to retire there, except for the generally grim socioeconomic scene in California. In fact, we stayed in Hawthorne (so close to LAX) on a family visit this June–at a Hampton Inn on Imperial and Acacia, the site of Andy Lococo’s Cockatoo Inn, where Jack Kennedy had a tryst with Marilyn Monroe. Did you ever eat there growing up? It was Hawthorne’s premiere restaurant, where the Lions Club and the other civic clubs used to meet. Imagine: the Lions Club meeting in a mafia-run operation.

* Sailer: Presumably, when Jake Gittes was an LAPD officer he was involved in some seemingly low-level corruption in Chinatown that had a tragic outcome, such as a beautiful prostitute that he loved being murdered without anybody being brought to justice for the crime, which drove him out of the LAPD and into being a cynical private eye.

That’s my most Chandleresque interpretation.

Does anybody else have a theory of Jake Gittes’ backstory? (I’ve never seen the sequel “The Two Jakes.”)

* Cali’s golden years were clearly the 1950’s and early ’60s (As were America’s).
By the ’70s and ’80s it was mostly running on fumes and by the 1990s it was clear things were amiss when for the first time in history more Americans were leaving the state than arriving. The triple whammy of the LA riots, the Northridge quake and the OJ imbroglio certainly scared a lot of people off. Concurrently, mass immigration (which Californians valiantly opposed in the 1990s)* drove up the cost of housing for regular Americans and made swaths of the state unpleasant rundown foreign colonies; it’s still mostly OK for Americans who could afford $800K for a 650 sq. ft. bungalow 3 miles from the ocean, but for regular middle-class Americans folks the “CA dream” is another nice thing they can’t have anymore b/c of immigration and PC.

* I was in Southern California in the early 80s and it was really nice. It had peaked however and ugly urban sprawl had already covered up the hills and there wasn’t a much open coastline south of LA. The summer weather is or was, to me, the best in the world, especially in the coastal zone. A few hours of gloom in the morning followed by that fantastic sea breeze later made July days just about perfect.

* The nostalgia goes back a long way. Raymond Chandler, writing in the 1940s, has his narrator making some bitter comments about how LA used to be a nice little town just after the first war, with small houses in their own plots and a cozy bohemian feel. So either nostalgia is a universally-held emotion or else California has been going downhill so fast and so badly that wherever you stand it always looks better in the past.

* I visited California in the late 1970s, and it was already overcrowded and too expensive back then. I was shocked by the poverty of my father’s friend, a UCLA professor. He and his family were living in an expensive slumlike apartment without even a dishwasher, and he was wearing broken glasses because he couldn’t afford to get them fixed. His car got stolen a month after we visited. At that point, I knew California was a very bad deal.

My Dad, who lived in flyover land and who was not making a large salary, could nonetheless afford a house, could afford to get things fixed, and we never locked the cars because there was no car theft in our small town.

* As Quentin Tarantino pointed out in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, LA in the 60s seemed both absolutely perfect and yet still a place on the rise and still unknown. A man could go out there and buy a new home at a good price with plenty of space, find a good wife, live in great weather, have a two-garage household to grow 5 kids while having a lifetime job.

Or he could lout about and have wild open hippie sex with the dozens of fresh-off-the-farm, newly-birth-controlled, trusting, thin, attractive, still-near-virginal white blond women dressed in next-to-nothing who had trekked out there to either be movie stars or join hippie communes. All while getting high on weed, alcohol, and LSD.

In either way, it must’ve been paradise until the Manson family and the race riots hit town.

* I first visited California in 1980; it struck me as an entire state run like a summer camp. But this article is making me think about what I meant by that.

For one thing, the tone of the place was relaxed. Relaxed dress codes, relaxed people, fewer rigid requirements. More like vacation than work.

The weather reminded me of summer, especially summer in places like northern Michigan. Low humidity, pine or cedar scent, blue skies, cool nights, warm days. The places you’d visit in the summer in the midwest were northern summer towns, vacation towns that thrived on offering easy, relaxed living.

Also, not crowded. When I was a child in the 1960’s, cheap air travel had destroyed the summer tourism industry; many people flew south for their major vacation in winter. For me, it just made summer even more relaxed, and less crowded.

Who wouldn’t want that, practically year-round?

So, white people started describing it this way, portraying it this way, kind of like you’d talk about heaven or Eden, in religious awe.

Other people around the world saw these portrayals, and sure enough, thought they’d come and try it. And buy parts of it. And move in. And breed.

And that was the end of that.

* I think the best way to understand California is that it was time shifted, where everything happened FASTER (starting with the gold rush). California went through the same stages that America went through, but it went through them more rapidly. It is now ahead of America on the timeline.

It was the explosion of suburbia after the advent of the automobile, the agricultural explosion, the industry, the settlement of WASPy whites followed by other ethnic groups. The influx of immigrants, the slow encroachment of Leftists, evolving from liberty-loving free-thinkers to Leninists. The conservative snap back with Ronald Reagan, followed by the slow victory of the Marxist locust swarm.

California — started later than the rest of America, went zooming past it with some of the highest potential that America ever head, ended up where America is headed.

* I grew up in the San Diego area. A large contingent in those days were Midwesterners (like my parents) who had ended up in San Diego via the military (mostly Marines and Navy but there were army bases there in WWII and some of them stuck around too). My father was the first to show up and promptly brought his parents out here from Iowa, soon to be followed by most of his brothers and sisters (my mother’s family followed a similar course). A big draw was the weather. Midwestern weather varies from miserable to barely endurable. I well remember my Minnesota-raised mother’s opinion of snow: “When you’re a kid, snow is fun but when you’re an adult, it’s just a pain in the neck.” Her Norwegian father had a similar opinion: “If I’d known there was a California, I never would have stopped in Minnesota – forty years of shoveling walks!”

* We arrived in the early sixties when I was an adolescent, and the place was indeed paradise, I literally attended the Beach Boys’ high school and it was everything you would imagine.
Except for one thing. The air during warm months could be like an alien planet. I remember one summery morning waiting for a bus on Santa Barbara Avenue (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) and watching the visibility looking down the street shrink block by block into a cloud of brown smog. On that bright sunny day you could barely see more than a block.
Young people today note the gasoline stench from restored 1960’s collector cars and I tell them to imagine what it was like when every car around you on the street was putting that out.

A friend says:

Although Los Angeles was major metropolis before WWII, it really exploded in population after the war. Even now, announcers often remark during outdoor winter events, especially the Rose Bowl, about how wonderful the weather is. Literally millions of persons, including many soldiers traveled through and stopped in Southern California during WWII and immediately afterword and decided to make it their home. It was easy for Millikan to call it an outpost of Nordic civilization, and that may have been true as far as where political and economic power was concentrated, but L.A. always had a significant population of Mexican descent, and then in the aftermath of the war a higher percentage of the population was black than is true today. For the most part, due to restrictive covenants, they were in separate neighborhoods and out of sight and out of mind from someone like Millikan. L.A. had a fairly large Japanese Community and Chinese as well.

Anyone who looks at the history of the city from the turn of the 20th century but not in the nineteenth, can see that Jews had a significant population and had interests in retail, banking, movies and real estate.

I did love L.A. but that was based on my having a pretty happy childhood. I remember when we used to burn our trash in backyard incinerators and remember even after they were banned, the horrible smog. It was impossible to engage in any protracted physical exercise without your lungs aching. As someone who hiked in Griffith Park or swam in public or friends’ pools, this aching lungs when taking a deep breath is a vivid memory. Back through the 1960’s it was plenty smoggy in Hollywood, but nothing compared to the San Gabriel Valley. I didn’t understand how anyone could live in Pasadena. Now that the air is clear it is highly desirable, but it wasn’t then.

What made L.A. different is that there were a lot of vacant lots. The infill with houses and apartments had not been completed.

The 65 riots were in Watts, but the 1992 riots got to me. All these beautiful neighborhoods were significantly damaged by the rioting. It takes a lot out of a person and it took a lot out of me to see what I thought were stable and safe neighborhoods gutted and looted. This was my beautiful city that had only improved since I returned after college. We had five term black mayor.We had hosted a successful Olympics games. We had an entire cultural renaissance with films, theater, art and music. We had the best ethnic cuisine variety. Wonderful neighborhoods and even a growth of artists lofts and events at downtown warehouses. And of course, clean air. And then the riots. The city may have bounced back with few physical signs of the riots, but for some people like me the riots betrayed the promise of the city and in some way, tore out my heart. It is very hard for me to explain this to persons who moved here years later what it was like when it happened….

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NIL Rulings Do Not Change for High School Student-Athletes

From the National Federation of State High School Associations:

The much-anticipated changes to the fundamental structure of college sports occurred last week when the NCAA suspended its longstanding amateur rules to allow college athletes to monetize their success and profit from their own Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).

This action by the NCAA was expected after several state laws were set to take effect July 1. In less than a week, many current college athletes have already enacted plans to earn money from their NIL. This monumental change to college sports comes on the heels of the previous week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Alston case in which the Court ruled that the NCAA cannot restrict a school’s spending on an athlete’s education.

While it is not our position to debate the merits of current college athletes earning money from their NIL, it should be understood that these changes do not affect current high school student-athletes. Current high school student-athletes CANNOT earn money as a result of their connection to their high school team.

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The Insurrectionist

* This novel reads like Andy Nowicki’s fantasy of a woman coming along and inspiring him to save the world.

* I’m struck by how Andy writes like he talks (wordy, meandering, conspiratorial). He badly needed an editor. I would have liked more vivid scene-by-scene construction using realistic dialogue, multiple points of view, and paying close attention to status details.

* I didn’t experience much emotion while reading the book except for some mild amusement at times — Nowicki has a good ear for how news is disconnected from truth, how religion often sells out to the status quo, and the absurd ways our betters lecture us.

* There are three types of characters in the book — the good guys, the bad guys and the indifferent. There’s not much nuance and not much empathy. All truth and righteousness lies with one side (those out of power).

* A turning point in the story is an interview that goes off script, a bit like the one Andy and I did July 15.

* The book concludes with a noble rebellion in progress against the globalists. “…a sleeping giant seems to have been awakened. And that sleeper’s hate exceeds all bounds; indeed, it can scarcely be contained. Great Lucifer, beneficent ally, please have mercy upon us in our time of need!”

* At just 67 pages, I was able to read the book in less than an hour.

* Like Brave New World, it’s a novel primarily about ideas rather than story. If you liked Brave New World, and if you think Covid is some kind of sinister hoax perpetrated by our elites to amass power, then you’ll like The Insurrectionist. I don’t think most readers were mesmerized by the story in Brave New World, but those who loved the book were stimulated by the ideas in it. Similarly, nobody is going to be thrilled by the story in The Insurrectionist, but you might like the ideas and you may be amused by its commentary on life in 2021.

Here are some highlights from this novel by Andy Nowicki:

* You stood on my door that day (whatever day it was), wearing a resplendent smile that caught me up short. Despite my unprepossessing appearance and slovenly disposition, I somehow felt bold enough to invite you to come inside, though not without lowering my eyes with a certain mortification, painfully aware that my hovel-like apartment was not a fit resting place for such a creature as you, not even for the span of a moment…

* It was revealed to me then, how puny and ineffectual I had proven to be in most respects.

* …I had opted to visit a friend of mine in Nashville. He dwelt in a squalid little apartment, worked a series of menial retail jobs, and in his spare time dreamed of making it big in the country music industry…I too had musical aspirations… We would craft a type of music that could finally bring people together after years of engineered crises had everyone at one another’s throats.

* Global Government Quorum… had managed to forge a historic alliance between nations across the world as a culmination of a proclaimed need for “greater federated authority” in the wake of the social unrest which had grown exponentially during the present “age of plague,” with one mysterious virus after another breaking upon the populace for the span of nearly a decade, creating a crescendo of panic that seemed to be ever-cresting and never receding…

Eventually, there came to be a great clamoring, at least among many holding official positions in federal, state, and municipal bodies of governance, for humanity to “finally to answer the perennial call to unite and centralize” so that the problems of perpetual pandemics and sporadic rioting in cities, based on one inexplicable upheaval after another, might finally be brought under control, in order that the much sought after principle of world peace might at long last become reality, and a reign of righteous order could be summoned forth after all these uneasy years of chaos and revolt.

* I had, after all, always been the misfit of my family; they had never understood, nor even cared to attempt to understand me…I had long resented how they had tended to view me with a combination of concern and annoyance. I was, after all, a college dropout, never able to hold down a decent job, trying but so far failing to be a writer/musician…

* I was now tormented, feeling that my anger and contempt, having been aroused by my family’s general rejection of my ideas and ambitions, had somehow, in some way, played a role in igniting their destruction. My parents and my sisters had been practical people, with concrete minds, while I gravitated toward more of an ethereality of temperament.

* Earlier that day, my friend and I had joined others in the streets for what amounted to one desperate, collective cry for our earthly rulers to level with us for once, concerning what was really going on…

* …a sector-wide edict had been issued, solemnly instructing people to remain inside for an indefinite period in order to prevent further unrest. Once more, the many and varied major media outlets sang an identical tune, using the exact same words and phrases, with only minor variations; they all implied strongly that the best decision for us to make as a human race was simply to “stay put” in our homes and “wait for further instructions,” which “would be dispensed at the appropriate time.”

* What I was seeing on the news bore little to any resemblance to reality…

* People wanted to join in the war effort against the Overlords in any and every way possible, yet the rulership of the world refused even to field a war effort; moreover, they depicted such a notion as pathological and destructive, even subversive and treasonous.

* “Such self-appointed ‘militias’ fetishize the concept of freedom and shamelessly weaponize the grief, anger, and sense of loss that many humans share during this time of unprecedented difficulty. “According to Dr. Rebecca Schlossberg, a well-regarded practicing psychiatrist and professor at McGill University in Montreal, such incidents as these are commonly driven by ‘men who feel themselves possessed of a kind of savior complex. “’They think that the world needs to be ‘rescued from ruin,’ and that they are the ones who need to do the rescuing…such people, while believing strongly in their own righteousness, are also prone to adopting a simplistic, binary, black-and-white, ‘us-against-them’ mentality,’ Dr. Schlossberg explained. ‘They see themselves as self-sacrificing would-be heroes. Yet at the same time, they clearly operate from grandiose motivations that are actually quite selfish and self-centered at heart.’

* “Yes, you lost so much,” she allowed, with a trained facade of pseudo-sympathy, “but, perhaps you could just sit with the possibility that these ‘theories’ you have developed about the government and so forth could simply be an outgrowth of your trauma?”

* Having grown up Catholic, albeit in a lax if not lapsed family, my attention at times had been drawn to occasions in history when the Church had stood boldly against novel impositions of unholy customs…

* I had quite naively believed that I would find refuge from the barrage of indoctrination and lies within the hallowed halls of Mother Church…

* …I felt stirred by the notion that I almost seemed to be playing a different character, as an actor might in a movie or a play. And I thought to myself: might it indeed be possible to become an entirely different person under different circumstances?

* I had rarely taken to social media, for example, and when I did, it was only for personal, not political ends. I hadn’t transformed into a dissident until the post-catastrophe days, during which I didn’t bother with such pathetic trifles as social media; as a result, I would have no electronic paper trail testifying against me should I emerge as one claiming to be friendly to the principalities and powers in the age of the Overlords.

* In no time, I became a playboy and a player…

* I hated, despised, and loathed all of this “in crowd” that I now courted so successfully. They were supposed to be the crème de la crème, but in fact they were mostly dumb as dust. True, a few brains hovered amongst this horde of elite trash, and naturally enough, they were the ones to whom I devoted most of my attention. I learned to speak their language while at the same time to refrain from seeming to pander; in short, it was simply a matter of “letting the game come to me,” and not being overly anxious about attempting to accelerate the process of my ascendency.

* At this point, everyone on the transmission team had become aware that something was afoot, that things had gone astray. Yet all felt strangely paralyzed. If they abruptly called off the interview, the damage done would be incalculable. The PM had been challenged, and the challenger, having been quite insolent and underhanded in his method and manner, would certainly have to be dealt with. Yet in order to salvage things, the PM had to show herself to be equal to the challenge.

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