Friday, February 08, 2019

From the Archives: Glenn Beck's substitute host Doc Thompson talks about libertarian values and hot issues of the day

Glenn Beck's substitute host Doc Thompson talks about libertarian values and hot issues of the day
August 19, 2010
11:40 PM MST

Radio talk-show host Doc Thompson, whose regular gig is afternoons from 3 to 6 o’clock on WRVA (1140 AM) in Richmond but who sometimes substitutes for Glenn Beck on his nationally syndicated program, spoke with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner on August 10 about his political philosophy, the hot issues of the day, and this year’s election prospects.

“Personally, I live my life with fairly conservative leanings,” Thompson explained, but “I take a little bit of a step toward libertarian when it comes to government, in that I want to be left alone. Yes, I’m a conservative, and I have conservative values, but I don’t want the government necessarily supporting conservatism or liberalism. I want them to just leave everyone alone.”

Listeners are ‘ticked’

radio host Doc Thompson Richmond Virginia
Doc Thompson
Thompson said that his listeners are angered by the growth and intrusiveness of the federal government.

Most of what concerns them, he said, “is the simple, ‘I can’t believe government is doing this’ issues, the no-brainer issues.”

He listed their top issues: “They’re ticked about health care, they’re ticked about the spending, and they’re ticked about immigration. Those are probably the big three things right now.”

The listeners’ irritation is easy to understand, he added.

These all are “really simple issues to them. You know: don’t spend what you don’t have; I can’t spend that much. Let me pick for myself whether I want health care and what [kind of] health care. And immigration – there’s a border; you’re breaking the law.”

‘Speaking from their hearts’
These concerns are not limited to people in the Richmond area, either. When Thompson wears Glenn Beck’s headphones, he hears the same complaints.

“It’s very similar when I fill in for him,” he pointed out.

“I’m not sure if that’s because that’s the general attitude of anybody [who is] leaning conservative, or if it’s that Glenn and I are similar. Our approaches are pretty similar to things but the topics, the discussion, the things people are saying are virtually the same.”

Thompson has noticed a similar phenomenon with regard to the Tea Party movement.

Glenn Beck Examiner.com radio
“It’s the same, too, tea party to tea party. I go around and meet with people all over the region, from Williamsburg to the Shenandoah Valley. I was up in Pittsburgh in the spring, speaking at a tea party. All of them, it’s the same. It’s like you’ve taken the same people and just put them in a different place. The same quotes – [but] it’s not talking points. These people are speaking from their hearts and saying the same things: ‘Enough is enough, leave me alone!’”

While this year’s election looks to be good for Republicans, Thompson said, he predicts it might turn out to be more of a mixed bag, with no “clear-cut winner.”

“It’s just going to be election by election, district by district. I think you’ll see a conservative movement somewhat this election, and probably a bigger one the next election,” when President Obama faces re-election in 2012.

For those outside the Richmond area who want to hear him, Doc Thompson will be filling in for Glenn Beck on Labor Day and again on the following Friday.

Editor's note: Doc Thompson passed away on February 5, 2019. To hear the audio version of this interview, visit the February 9, 2019, episode of The Score from Bearing Drift.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 19, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

From the Archives: Former state legislator Terri McCormick asks ‘What Sex Is a Republican?’


Former state legislator Terri McCormick asks ‘What Sex Is a Republican?’
December 20, 2011 7:52 PM MST

A former state legislator from Wisconsin, Terri McCormick is the author of a memoir called What Sex Is a Republican? Stories from the Front Lines of American Politics.

One reviewer, the author noted, called it “the first Tea Party book” because of what McCormick identifies as its themes.

“It’s all about integrity of leadership,” she told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner in an interview early in 2011, while she was attending the national convention of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Arlington, Virginia.

‘Founding principles’

Terri McCormick What Sex is a Republican GOP women
“All the themes are centered around the Constitution, the founding principles, and what we need to do to be a better republic.”

The reason she published the book, McCormick explained, was that she had been asked to write about her experiences as a member of the Wisconsin Assembly, where she served three two-year terms beginning in 2000. She later twice ran for Congress, seeking the Republican nomination in Wisconsin’s Eighth District in 2006 and 2010.

It was while she was serving in the legislature, representing about 60,000 constituents in and around the cities of Appleton and Oshkosh, that McCormick discovered she was a libertarian.

“I didn’t even know that I was a libertarian Republican,” she explained, “until somebody had actually watched my work and said, ‘You know what? You believe in the constitution and free market.”

‘Core values’

To McCormick, that seemed just like common sense.

“I had a set of core values. I readily knew what they were: opportunities, free market systems, and I actually believed the constitution should apply to everybody.”

When it was pointed out that her statements and the legislation she sponsored manifested libertarian values and ideas, she “thought, ‘So that’s where I fit!’” Up to that point, she admitted, that she “didn’t quite know” what a libertarian was, or that she was one herself.

Running for Congress after her self-imposed term limits ended her time in the legislature “was interesting,” McCormick said, noting an odd paradox:

“When I ran for the state house, I was recognized as having ideas and [people] wanted me. When I ran for the U.S. House, I was recognized as an individual with ideas and therefore people didn’t want me.”

Legislative achievements

Prior to her first election to the Wisconsin Assembly, McCormick had worked with various civic groups and drafted the state’s first charter schools law. She helped form a group that lobbied for the law’s passage.

Once elected to office, she chaired the economic development committee, which became her platform for regulatory reform efforts.

Challenging entrenched interests in Madison, McCormick said she “took on the [state’s] capital investment company. In order to have more capital investment readily available, I wrote the small business regulation reform act.”

Her achievements, she added modestly, came about “just by listening to others and working with them.”


Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on December 20, 2011. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Guest Post: An archaeological dig in Israel suggests how feasting became an important ritual


Natalie Munro, University of Connecticut

This holiday season millions of families will come together to celebrate their respective festivals and engage in myriad rituals. These may include exchanging gifts, singing songs, giving thanks, and most importantly, preparing and consuming the holiday feast.


Archaeological evidence shows that such communally shared meals have long been vital components of human rituals. My colleague Leore Grosman and I discovered the earliest evidence of a ritual feast at a 12,000-year-old archaeological site in northern Israel and learned how feasts came to be integral components of modern-day ritual practice.


First, what are rituals?


Rituals involve meaningful, often repeated actions. In modern-day practices they are expressed through rites such as the hooding of a doctoral student, birthdays, weddings or even sipping wine at Holy Communion or lighting Hanukkah candles.




Pompeii family feast painting Naples

Pompeii family feast painting, Naples.
Unknown painter before 79 AD, via Wikimedia Commons



Ritual practice may have emerged along with other early modern human behaviors more than 100,000 years ago. However, proving this with material evidence is a challenge. For example, researchers have found that both Neanderthals and early modern humans buried their dead, but scholars weren’t certain whether this was for spiritual or symbolic reasons and not for something more mundane like maintaining site hygiene. Likewise, the discovery of 100,000-year-old symbolic artifacts like pierced shell ornaments and decorated chunks of red ochre in caves in South Africa, was not sufficient to prove that they were part of any ritual activities.

It was only when archaeologists found these artifacts, placed in graves going back 40,000-20,000 years, that it was confirmed they were part of ritual practice.

The first feasts


We had a similar experience during our research. When Leore Grosman and I first embarked on the excavations at Hilazon Tachtit in the late 1990s, we were only hoping to document the activities of the last hunter-gatherers in Israel, at what appeared to be a small campsite. It was only over several seasons of excavation that it slowly became clear to us that this was not a site where people had lived. Rather it was a site for rituals.




Hilazon Tachtit cave interior. Naftali Hilger

Hilazon Tachtit cave interior.
Naftali Hilger, CC BY-NC-ND



No houses, fireplaces or cooking areas were recovered. Instead the cave yielded the skeletal remains of at least 28 individuals interred in three pits and two small structures.

One of these structures contained the complete skeleton of an older woman, who we interpreted as a shaman based on her special treatment at death. Her grave stood apart due to its fine construction – the walls were plastered with clay and inset with flat stone slabs. Even more remarkable was the eclectic array of animal body parts buried alongside of her. The pelvis of a leopard, the wing tip of an eagle, the skulls of two martens and many other unusual body parts surrounded her skeleton.

The butchered remnants of more than 90 tortoises buried in the grave and the leftovers of at least three wild cattle deposited in a second adjacent depression excavated in the cave floor represent the remains of a funeral feast.




Hilazon Tachtit cave. Naftali Hilger

Hilazon Tachtit cave.
Naftali Hilger, CC BY-NC-ND



The outstanding preservation of the grave enabled us to detect multiple phases of a ritual performance that included the consumption of the feast, the burial of the woman, and the filling of the grave in several stages, including the intentional deposition of garbage from the feast.

Feasting at the beginning of agriculture


Archaeologists have found other sites that show evidence of ritual feasting. Many of these date to the time when humans were beginning to farm.




Site of Göbekli Tepe. Teomancimit

Site of Göbekli Tepe.
Teomancimit (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA




One of the most striking is the site of Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey, dating slightly later than Hilazon Tachtit. It includes multiple large structures adorned with benches and giant stone slab carved with exquisite animal depictions in relief dating to 11-12,000 years ago. Perhaps, these were very early communal buildings. The archaeologists who excavated Göbekli Tepe argue that massive quantities of animal bones associated with the structures represent the remains of feasts.

Twelve thousand years ago humans were still hunter-gatherers, subsisting entirely on wild foods. Nevertheless, these people differed from those who went before – they were sitting on the brink of the transition to agriculture, one of the most significant economic, social and ideological transformations in human history.

Sickle blades and grinding stones used to harvest and process cereal grains are found at Hilazon Tachtit and other contemporary archaeological sites. These findings indicate that these ritual feasts started around the same time that people adopted agriculture. When people began to rely more heavily on wild cereals like wheat and barley, they became increasingly tethered to landscapes that were ever more crowded and began to settle into more permanent communities. In other words, feasting became a part of their life, once they moved away from nomadic life.

Rituals that bind


These feasts had an important role to play. Adapting to village life after hundreds of millennia on the move was no simple act. Research on modern hunter-gatherer societies shows that closer contact between neighbors dramatically increased social tensions. New solutions to avoid and repair conflict were critical.

The simultaneous appearance of feasting, communal structures and specialized ritual sites suggest that humans were seeking to solve this problem by engaging the community in ritual practice.

One of the central functions of ritual in these communities was to provide a kind of social glue that bound community members by promoting social cohesion and solidarity. Feasts generate loyalty and commitment to the community’s success. Sharing food is intimate and it builds trust.

Communal rituals would have provided a shared sense of identity at a time when social circles were increasing in scale and permanence. They reinforced new ideologies that emerged out of a dramatic reorganization of economic and social life.

Role of feasts today

Feasting plays the same essential role today. Like the earliest feasts, our holiday celebrations are replete with actions that are repeated year after year.

The holiday feast today builds family traditions. By cooking and sharing food together, telling stories of past holidays and exchanging intergenerational wisdom, holiday rituals bond extended families and give them a shared identity.The Conversation

Natalie Munro, Professor, University of Connecticut

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



Monday, December 10, 2018

Guest Post: How to survive annoying relatives this holiday season

Jamie Gruman, University of Guelph

Social allergies are a lot like seasonal allergies. They’re annoying, exhausting and hard to avoid. They’re also especially common around the holidays. That’s because the holidays put you at a high risk of exposure. Swap the dander and flourishing ragweed for your not-so-favourite acquaintances and intolerable relatives and there you have it — a full-blown case of social allergies.

Merry Christmas Polish Poland ornamentsSocial allergens are the revolting, repetitive habits of our friends and family members that rub us the wrong way and drive us crazy.

Maybe it’s the way your aunt constantly complains about frivolous things. Or perhaps it’s how your father-in-law smacks his lips and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand when he eats. Or could it be the way your cousin can’t have a conversation without droning on about himself?

All of us have allergies to people whose seemingly inconsequential behaviour repulses us. The emotional and physical symptoms these social allergens produce arise within minutes of exposure, making us want to immediately evacuate the toxic environment.

The holiday season social allergy


Like seasonal allergies, social allergies are sometimes inescapable. Triggers include the many obligatory get-togethers that come with the holidays. For many, the season, beginning with American Thanksgiving, is supposed to be a time to recharge our batteries: recover from the unreasonable deadlines, numerous pressures and other demands we face on a daily basis. Social allergies can interfere with that plan.

During the holiday season, we are faced with numerous social commitments and in some cases this means spending time with people who grate on our nerves and hinder us from refuelling. Rather than having a few days off to decompress, we spend our time away from work filled with dread, anxiety and exasperation because we have to endure people we are allergic to.

Although we can get out of some noxious social situations, there are others that are almost mandatory.

So, what are the social antihistamines that will help us cope?

Limit exposure


One effective way to prevent a social allergic reaction is to limit your exposure. In the same way a person allergic to cats should avoid snuggling up in bed with a pride of domestic felines, a person with social allergies should avoid staying in an environment full of social allergens.

By minimizing the amount of time you are in contact with the allergens, you attack the problem directly, fostering resilience and recovery by reducing your exposure to a hazardous situation.

This means leave early or come late. Have a strategy to restrict the amount of time you spend surrounded by your social allergens. While you are at the gathering, be strategic about the social situations you place yourself in. When finding a spot at the dinner table, don’t sit next to Cousin So-and-so or Aunt M and definitely don’t sit in full view of your lip-smacking father-in-law. Find a place setting that allows you to have a break from your social allergens.


Validate


We have the power to exert some control over many social allergens.

For example, when speaking with a self-centred toxic relative, she’s looking for a certain type of reaction from you. In many cases, the wanted reaction is simple: it’s support and validation.

While you may want to shut off the stream coming out of auntie’s mouth, this will not actually help calm your allergic reaction. But if you spend some time to first provide the validation she seeks, you could potentially satisfy her craving and extinguish the behaviour you find repellent.

Give feedback


If you can no longer tolerate seeing scraps of food on the back of your father-in-law’s hand, consider speaking to him about his eating habits. But remember that conversations not only convey information, they also have implications for relationships and identities.

Make it clear that you want to help him avoid embarrassing himself and that you’re speaking to him about this because you love him. And see if you can bring up the topic indirectly so that you don’t come across as intrusive. Giving feedback to people often fails to change their behaviour if we’re not sensitive about how it might be received.

Mindfulness


If giving feedback to your father-in-law doesn’t seem like the best idea, you can instead try practising mindfulness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental state of present moment awareness.

When social allergens start bothering you, pay attention to your own internal irritation without evaluating it. Don’t cling to it and don’t push it away. Just follow it. Watching the ebbs and flows of your experience has a way of putting distance between you and your reactions through a process called reperceiving.

Mindfulness won’t necessarily prevent the allergen from bothering you, but it will help you control how much it annoys you and how quickly you recover from its effects.

Social allergies can burn you out and change a relaxing holiday into a stressful test of endurance. To get a boost during holiday time, you need to make sure that you spend your time with people who recharge and revitalize you.

Also, mitigate your averse reaction to people’s annoying habits. A few simple steps can transform your holiday into one that lets you enjoy a happy, healthy break, instead of having to contend with social allergies.

The author thanks Deirdre Healey’s assistance with this article.The Conversation

Jamie Gruman, Professor of Organizational Behaviour, University of Guelph

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



Saturday, December 08, 2018

Guest Post: We found grizzly, black and polar bears together for the first time

Douglas Clark, University of Saskatchewan

North America’s three bear species — black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears — don’t typically live in the same place. But in Wapusk National Park, on the west coast of Hudson Bay, in northern Manitoba, we caught all three bears on camera — for the first time.

My colleagues and I began studying the bears in Wapusk in 2011, after more polar bears than expected began visiting new field camps in the park. We used remote cameras — a widespread, economical and non-invasive tool for studying wildlife — to find out why and when the polar bears were visiting these camps.

The cameras picked up more than 366 visits by polar bears to the camps in five years. They also detected other bears.

A bevy of bears


Wapusk is best known for its polar bears. They come ashore in the summer and autumn when the sea ice in Hudson Bay melts. Some stay for the winter to den in the permafrost where they give birth. What we see on the cameras reflects that pattern.

But Wapusk also lies along the northern edge of the boreal forest, where black bears are well established. We saw them too, but we were surprised that their visits to our most southerly cameras, on the Owl River, were almost as numerous as those by polar bears.




Grizzly bears Wapusk National Park.

Grizzly bears visited all three study sites along the coast of Wapusk National Park.
(Douglas Clark), CC BY-ND



What was new to us were the grizzlies. It wasn’t just one or two transient bears, but several, and we suspect at least one of them may be denning there.

Barren-ground grizzly bears have been expanding their range across the Arctic in recent decades. In Wapusk, they’ve been increasingly frequent since the 1990s, and have even shown up in the nearby town of Churchill.

Ecosystem convergence


There’s much our observations don’t tell us, but they are significant for conservation efforts and, more fundamentally, for understanding what to do with these new ecological insights.

Three dynamic ecosystems — forest, tundra and ocean — converge at Wapusk, and all are changing quickly as the Arctic warms.

What we’ve seen in Wapusk is consistent with how researchers expect northern carnivore populations to respond to climate change. The waking life of all bear species is governed by their need to accumulate fat stores for the next hibernation, so this overlap is most likely a response to changes in the availability of bear foods. Which foods, however, we don’t yet know.




polar bears Wapusk National Park

Three polar bears walk past a camera trap in Wapusk National Park.
(Douglas Clark), CC BY-ND



We also don’t know how these species interact with each other, but we predict that grizzlies will benefit most since they dominate both other species elsewhere.

Grizzly bears have displaced and eaten black bears and polar bears in other places, and polar-grizzly hybrids have been documented in the Northwest Territories. It’s clear that the potential for hybridization exists in western Hudson Bay too.

Polar bears and grizzly bears face conservation challenges in many parts of Canada. Learning more about they way they interact with each other — and their surroundings — would probably tell us more about why they are now inhabiting the same place.

Controversial change


But how might we use this information?

When environmental changes occur in national parks, they often become controversial. People often assume the conditions present when the park was established, or the status quo, are “baselines” that must be protected, even though they may just be snapshots in ecological time.

Change has become increasingly central in ecological theory, and its implications have produced heated debate within the conservation community.




Black bears boreal forest Wapusk National Park.

Black bears are well established in the boreal forest of Wapusk National Park.
(Douglas Clark), CC BY-ND



This matters for the grizzly because its expansion into the Arctic has been portrayed as a threat to polar bears. Some argue such a threat should be removed.

In 1998, when I worked in Wapusk, I was told by a manager to get rid of the first grizzly we saw. (I didn’t.)

Such actions might not be wise since the long and complex evolutionary relationship between grizzlies and polar bears suggests their populations have, at times, benefited from the other.

Instead of looking at this new range overlap as a risk to any of the bears, my colleagues and I think it should be viewed as an ecological response to environmental change that needs to be better understood.

What’s at stake?


While locals may not be surprised by this scientific observation of the three bears, it is a novel situation that we can learn from — and one that matters beyond northern Manitoba.

Climate change will continue to move species around and create new combinations of them. It’s no easy task for wildlife or park managers to determine which environmental changes are desirable and which aren’t.

Wapusk, however, is a co-managed park that aims to integrate scientific and traditional knowledge with human values. It is equipped for addressing these hard questions. And the question of how to navigate increasing environmental variability more effectively — while recognizing the stakes local people have in these conservation decisions — is the biggest challenge environmental managers face today.

This particular story of the three bears isn’t over, and we don’t know how it will end. Consequently, we need to bring a heavy dose of humility to answering the scientific and societal questions the three bears have handed us.The Conversation

Douglas Clark, Centennial Chair in Human Dimensions of Environment & Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.