The Stupid War

Epsilon Theory PDF Download (Subscribers Only): The Stupid War You are now homeland,
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  1. Thank you Rusty, I truly appreciate your insights and encouragement to avoid taking sides. Instead, looking for ways to help and not blame.

    To this, Epsilon Theory has helped me to “see” better, given context and dare I say, greater wisdom than I have had in the past.

  2. Rusty

    I find this to be your best essay in the short time ( 10 months) that I have been aware of and subscribed to ET. Thank you so very much.

    My niece teaches art in the Santa Barbara School District in Southern California which has been either notified that they will not open or possibly will not open based upon state decree.

    The adjoining Goleta School District, which is under the same decree, has laid off all the art teachers and some other categories of teachers with what I understand is the reasoning that their curriculum is not conducive to distance learning and the need for the district to save money.

    No point to made here other than my 100% agreement that it is important for all of us to help others thru this time to the best of our abilities.

  3. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I’ve been reading Rusty’s work for a long time (5 years), and I agree … this is his best essay yet.

  4. No PDF download or am I not too bright…?

    One thread in this that’s interesting - the idea that the groundwork for the conflict was related to the Treaty of Tordesillas (the Pope Julius-thing) - the drawing of an artificial border without regard to the future inhabitants of these places (and maybe I’m reaching here) - but specifically, the Papal ratification of the treaty which lent it a moral authority beyond the mere expediency of a 15th century legal claim. If we look at the “demarcations” of American social life in regards to public education (and more broadly at the entire ethos of modern American consumerism/capitalism) what top down claims have we impelled upon American citizens which we are feeling the burdens of now? Public education and taxation and teachers unions and standardization and school lunches and education-as-childcare are emergent expressions of what we have collectively viewed as “important” in American life and codified and sanctified like Julius II’s Papal Bull. That is to say, these divisions we have over this subject are both “exploitable” and tribal because of decisions and paths taken long ago (not enough of an expert on the history American education to say so definitively, but this is what I suspect).

    The point of this ranting is: what so much of this current crisis/disaster and the other “problems” of American life push me toward is the idea of radically revising what appear to be the ingrained social attitudes of our culture about what is important to us. A monumental task it would seem that first requires the rejection of old authorities, which have so much of their appeal in inflaming our cultural divisions. Deprogramming our immediate and insensate and comfortable left vs. right divisions maybe should be what we try to do? Beyond helping our neighbors, of course. Or is the solution to reject it entirely and JUST focus on helping our neighbors? I don’t know.

  5. There will be a PDF! Just haven’t gotten it up yet.

    The connection you’re making with the moral authority of Tordesillas is such a lovely one that I wish I had, too. Yes, the moral loading of our “arbitrary” structures, which could have gone very differently with different ordering of historical events, is a part of what we are adjudicating. It is a thoughtful parallel.

    As to your last proposition, the answer is yes AND yes, because I don’t see these as mutually exclusive any more than I see Clear Eyes and Full Hearts as exclusive. Revolution of a kind on some of these dimensions does seem necessary (clear eyes), but the best way to get there is together, with grace and mercy for the path that others need to follow to get there (full hearts).

  6. I am heartbroken over some of what is happening to the arts and arts education in particular through this process, so I wasn’t heartened to hear that. But I am grateful that you found value in reading this and appreciate your kind words.

  7. Peter, I am glad to hear that we have been helpful. We are grateful that you are here, too.

  8. Gotcha, didn’t mean to rush on PDF, my father is a bit of an aficionado (oddly enough) of BOTH the 19th Century wars of South America and of early 20th Century Louisiana politics - so I wanted him to see this. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  9. I’ve spent the last thirty years trying to end my love affair with the moral high ground. I had a good two decades of success, but during these last 3+ years my lover has returned with unmatched persistence, and the makeup sex is oh-so-gratifying…

    I admire your ability to keep searching for grace. Thank you for reminding and encouraging me to do the same.

  10. Hah! Kim, if ever there were a three year period where relapse was tempting all of us, it has been this one. I have good days and bad days, too.

  11. Not at all! PDF should be up and available now.

  12. Avatar for FFWA FFWA says:

    Interesting history. But maybe a little histrionic. Might want to take this down a knotch, Rusty…

  13. To be fair, if anything gets the blood pumping like a detailed account of the establishment of Mennonite colonies and an itemized list of several years of arms purchases, surely it is a recounting of the demographics of American families.

  14. Rusty, great article, but I think the COVID/schools issue may even go a little deeper. I understand why teachers and parents are all concerned and conflicted, which doesn’t encourage dispassionate decision-making. But I think your assessment of schools as being a perfect super-spreader environment may in fact be off-target. There’s considerable evidence that transmission between kids, or from kids to adults, is pretty negligible (see one Swiss immunologist’s assessment at Given that the risk to and via kids is minimal, the next-level question might be, where is the narrative of incredibly risky schools coming from?

  15. Thanks, Barry! You could be right - and I hope that you are! Although I’ll reiterate that the risk is, I think, concentration risk rather than cumulative individual risk, and it’s an important distinction. All you need for the latter is to believe that the individual transmission risk is roughly the same as observed in adults and that epidemiologists are right about the droplet and aerosol transmission mechanisms.

    The article you sent is ostensibly taking issue with the first claim…but it doesn’t, really. The implications in the Swiss article are from early surveys that fed this more detailed study, I believe. Both indicate a lower rate for kids 9 and below, but the same or higher rates of transmission as adults for kids 10 and above - that’s why the Swiss article keeps sneaking in the “below age 10” qualifier. Because it cohorts the entire group of “below age 10”, I think it also raises the question as to how that would differ if we actually looked at, say, 7, 8 and 9 year-olds, which you would think would fall somewhere between the two cohort averages on the continuum (although that may not necessarily be true).

    I think the most optimistic prior we could adopt from this data is that approximately 33-40% of schoolchildren (the ones enrolled in PK through 3rd or 4th grade) might have as LOW as 1/3 the risk of transmission as adults, and 67% of kids would have a comparable level or higher. Bear in mind, of course, that this is Korea, not the United States, and that the baseline probability of initial infection and transmission rates are likely to differ…and if the US at large is any indication, maybe by a lot.

    Maybe that means we can be less conservative about reopening for K-3 or K-4, maybe even “Elementary Schools” more broadly. I think it’s worthy of a conversation. For what it’s worth, generally speaking I favor opening schools in my area and I think that they should be opening in most places around the country with our support (in terms of hygiene, PPE and funding for and commitment to testing). I do think that the superspreader environment observation remains true, however, and that concerns about that are something we should all respect as fair and legitimate, even if that doesn’t mean that we agree to close down schools as a result of it.

  16. Seeing as I can’t seem to keep a piece under 7,000 words, I probably vomit out enough for both of us, DY.

  17. Certainly agree that deploying protective equipment and so on makes a ton of sense, just on a risk/reward basis. And it looks like we’ll have some experimental data before too long, as European schools open up.

  18. I think so, too! Although I obviously worry (narratives being what they are) that half of America will ignore optimistic signs from that data and that the other half will ignore any adverse data from our own openings.

  19. Unfortunately, I think that’s a pretty safe bet.

  20. New subscriber off the back of this piece - truly feel better off having read this. Thank you Rusty.

    I spoke to my father on this over the weekend. A recently retired primary school teacher from Northern Ireland, and in my biased opinion, a practitioner of Clear Eyes and Open Heart. His sentiments matched yours in terms of “We are where we are” with schools. In his case he drew comparisons with his time in the 90’s / 00’s as the North wrangled with the troubles and finding some route to “peace”.

    These inevitably included discussions on integrating education in segregated areas. Holding civil discussions when so many are reeling from decades of hurt was obviously difficult. Naturally, the narratives were drawn on this topic and horrifying incidents played out outside Holy Cross Primary school.

    Last week his local school met with the members of the community (the pack) to discuss pragmatic solutions for the education through 2021. Fingers crossed for this time round.

  21. Craig, I’m so encouraged to hear that. When people with both clear eyes and full hearts meet in good faith, good things can happen. Crossing my fingers, too.

  22. Avatar for Kevin Kevin says:

    Rusty, as a parent of a 2 year old and a 3 month old, I found this a great read. We’re a family with 2 working parents and our 2 year old (3 in November) is due to start preschool this September. Only one month away…

    But this wasn’t just a great read because I could relate to the message about being a working family with kids during covid. It was also a really interesting history lesson about Paraguay and Bolivia. And by referring to Google Maps to understand the locations you wrote about it was a geography lesson, too!

    You’ve written a couple of other strong allegorical articles this year. “The Elton/Hootie Line” made a great point while teaching me something about music I’d never known or thought about.

    “A New Gilded Age” taught me the history of Tuxedo Park, which I never knew. I grew up (and still live) in Stamford, CT, and I’ve been going to the Rennaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY, for the past 20 years. So that essay felt close to home and was an eye opener on how completely ignorant I am of local history.

    So a strong kudos for writing articles which are both generally informative and also relevant to the clear eyes / full hearts approach. Also a nod to the fact that you have such wide reaching knowledge! But seriously, how the heck do you casually know so much about the history of Paraguay and Bolivia?!? :slight_smile:

  23. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    This is definitely very profound and riveting. However, as someone who knew at 18 years old I never wanted to have a child, I do have a difficult time relating to an issue concerned with parents, teachers, and the education system aside from the “from a distance” desire to support children and our future generations. I desperately want to help, but, honestly from my heart, what can someone in my position do to help?

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