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 Post subject: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:16 am 
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I just saw a little YouTube video about Barrow, Alaska. It's the most northern town in the United States. Population 4,500. The Siberian town of Tiksi is the only place in the world larger and further north than Barrow.

In summer the sun never sets for 65 days, and in winter it never rises for 65 days. (Winter is coming probably carries more weight for Game of Thrones viewers in Barrow.). There are no paved roads. There are no roads leading out of town. The only way in or out is by airplane, or by barge if there is no ice in summer. Because virtually everything comes in by air, heavy items are astronomically expensive. A frozen pizza is $17.

But of course, all of this is mitigated by the architectural splendor of the town:

Image

To put it charitably, it's probably a blessing that it's dark for 65 days a year. I would not want to be in charge of Tourism for Barrow. The good news: If you don't like hot weather, the warmest day in the history of Barrow was 79°.

What would it be like to live there? What happens to your circadian rhythm in a place where the sun has a bipolar disorder? Tinfoiled windows in the summer and sunlamps in the winter? As you would imagine, a lot of people self-medicate. Barrow is the Iñupiat cultural center of Northern Alaska. Alcoholism was so rampant that Barrow went 'damp' (Alcohol could be consumed but not sold) back in early 90's. The libertarian whites in town for the Prudhoe Bay money helped tip the election against public health officials and concerned Iñupiats. Alcohol was narrowly re-legalized, and continues to ravage the community. An interview with the mayor exhibits little small town chamber of commerce optimism. Barrow is both sustained and ravaged by oil.

But if Barrow isn't thriving, it isn't going anywhere. The population slowly rises.

Human beings are extraordinary creatures. From the Arctic Circle to the Equator, we adapt to conditions that other species cannot. I'm beginning to wonder if that very adaptability is not a clue as to why we are so difficult to govern. We are an unruly bunch. People are born in Barrow, but some people move there. You don't just wash up in Barrow, there are no roads into town. You have to decide to go there, which means that wherever you were, you wanted to get as far away as possible. Barrow is where you go when you run out of running room. Some people are drawn to the frontier, wherever it may be.

Maybe Barrow is the perfect coda for the American experience: Europeans looking to strike it rich duking it with Native Americans on the edge of the world. There's no moral of the story here. Just looking at the multitude of ways that people experience the world.

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:25 am 
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The war on drugs has been a failure. It's cheaper to legalize drugs like alcohol. It's just those mean conservative Christians who don't want people to be able to drink what they like.

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:26 am 
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Interesting post Met, thanks - I share your fascination on such topics.
$17 for a frozen pizza? geez, couldn't you just make a pizza at home and set it outside to freeze naturally?

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:27 am 
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ajax18 wrote:
The war on drugs has been a failure.

not to derail, but the war on drugs has been profitable...extremely profitable.

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:41 am 
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Quote:
not to derail, but the war on drugs has been profitable...extremely profitable.


I sort of see what youi're saying. But I've tried questioning conservative libertarians who think drugs should be legal. My question is always, "Who is going to pay for the welfare for those who like to remain drunk, high, or stoned all day? Who pays for those who permanently incapcitate themselves?"

How would you answer that?

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:02 am 
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ajax18 wrote:
My question is always, "Who is going to pay for the welfare for those who like to remain drunk, high, or stoned all day? Who pays for those who permanently incapcitate themselves?"

How would you answer that?

Who will pay? The same people who pay for those people today? (Liberals will undoubtedly say that rich CEOs should pay...not Tom Hanks should pay, just other rich white guys and those who vote Republican).

Are you suggesting that there will be a dramatic increase in "those who permanently incapacitate themselves"? I mean is this not tantamount to a prohibition argument? who pays for all the alcoholics?
My signature line "Seek freedom and become captive of your desires...seek discipline and find your liberty" - can this sort of culture not be created where people are self-actualized and thus find discipline with their desires?

Look at Barrow Alaska from the opening post...it has a high school, it has airport, a hospital, taxis, newspaper, festivals, etc. (and note that roads are not paved due to permafrost, not economy)
"Barrow, like many communities in Alaska, has enacted a "damp" law, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages. It allows for import, possession and consumption of such beverages."

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:55 pm 
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Years ago I remember reading a theory about alcoholism that was...sobering. It is simply that cultures with the lowest rates of alcoholism are cultures that have been fermenting the longest. Mediterranean cultures have lower rates of alcoholism than northern countries.

So what happens when cultures are first introduced to alcohol? Alcoholism, big time. By definition, a culture newly introduced to alcohol would not have developed social conventions for its consumption. There can be a sociological or culture component. In France, parents occasionally give their children a sip of wine or watered-down wine. In Russia, vodka is kept in the freezer, and shots are downed not for the taste, but to get inebriated as quickly as possible.

But I think there is a physiological component as well. I think there may be something brutally Darwinian that occurs. People with a strong predilection towards alcoholism can exist for thousands of years in a culture that does not have alcohol. And that would be true if you were Scandinavian or Eskimo. And both cultures have been ravaged by alcoholism since its introduction.

And the third possible contributing factor: People's circadian rhythms. Humans originated near the Equator. How does living in places with vast changes in the amount of darkness and light contribute to a predilection towards self-medicating with alcohol? Does a person with a Mediterranean heritage have a great predilection towards alcoholism if they live north or the Arctic Circle?

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"Of what meaning is the world without mind? The question cannot exist."
- Edwin Land


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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:41 pm 
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Germans have been drinking beer as long as Italians have drank wine. But I thought Amerinds and orientals lacked an enzyme to oxidize alcohol. I think white flour and refined sugar has been as bad for Native Americans (and Caucasians for that matter) as alcohol.

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:26 pm 
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ajax18 wrote:
It's cheaper to legalize drugs like alcohol.

Are you trying to pick a fight with those drug companies that manufacture and market opioids?


ajax18 wrote:
It's just those mean conservative Christians who don't want people to be able to drink what they like.

Plenty of conservative Christians seem to be hooked on those opioids.


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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:29 am 
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When I was younger, I spent some time in a northern Canadian town for work. It was November, dusk was at 2:30 in the afternoon and dawn was somewhere around 8:30.

I had a really hard time with it. I was surprised at how much I relied on a decent amount of daylight.

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 Post subject: Re: What it means to live in a Nation of 320 million
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:07 am 
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MeDotOrg wrote:
Years ago I remember reading a theory about alcoholism that was...sobering. It is simply that cultures with the lowest rates of alcoholism are cultures that have been fermenting the longest. Mediterranean cultures have lower rates of alcoholism than northern countries.

So what happens when cultures are first introduced to alcohol? Alcoholism, big time. By definition, a culture newly introduced to alcohol would not have developed social conventions for its consumption. There can be a sociological or culture component. In France, parents occasionally give their children a sip of wine or watered-down wine. In Russia, vodka is kept in the freezer, and shots are downed not for the taste, but to get inebriated as quickly as possible.

But I think there is a physiological component as well. I think there may be something brutally Darwinian that occurs. People with a strong predilection towards alcoholism can exist for thousands of years in a culture that does not have alcohol. And that would be true if you were Scandinavian or Eskimo. And both cultures have been ravaged by alcoholism since its introduction.

And the third possible contributing factor: People's circadian rhythms. Humans originated near the Equator. How does living in places with vast changes in the amount of darkness and light contribute to a predilection towards self-medicating with alcohol? Does a person with a Mediterranean heritage have a great predilection towards alcoholism if they live north or the Arctic Circle?

I spent a few years in the Alaskan bush. The village I lived in had no roads in or out, no electrical station, municipal water, cars, etc. No television or AM/FM radio channels were available, and no telephones. It was like living in another world. We had no stores or business establishments other than a small bar (where you could also arrange for a flight out of the village). For me, as an outsider, the whole experience was an adventure. The whole off-grid experience was new and exciting and kept me occupied. But for the locals, life was often just more of the same. On top of that, generating a reliable source of income was next to impossible. I imagine that many feel stuck and unable to see a path out. I would imagine that the apparent lack of opportunity contributed to the level of alcohol abuse.

In a sense, it has similarities to some inner city urban areas where jobs are scarce, money is hard to come by, and opportunities appear limited. Substance abuse is common in those situations too. I'm convinced that environment plays a larger role than genetics, although genetic predispositions can amplify the situational issues. This is just my gut feeling.... I'm not familiar with any research in this area.


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