Non Alcoholics Not Anonymous
June 17, 2019
“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.”
“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cutting Out The Booze: A Sobering Lifestyle
There was a time when about the only way someone with a perpetual and substantial ‘problem with drinking’ could get sober was to join AA and go cold turkey, never again to enjoy a frosty alcoholic beverage. Today there are more options for those interested in no-or-less drinking as a lifestyle choice.
Three years ago New York-based journalist Ruby Warrington started Club Soda NYC, an event series for other young professionals who, like herself, were “kind-of-just-a-little-bit-addicted-to-booze.” The gatherings featured panels on topics like “Sex, Lies and Alcohol” plus new Age icebreakers like “deep-eye gazing” and Kundalini disco.
The term Warrington had come up with was “sober curious.” In 2018 she published a book by the same title, started a podcast and held other sober curious events. Soon a growing group of sober curious Americans, many of whom were women influenced by health and wellness concerns, wanted to experiment with alcohol-free living. In Chicago a Sober Curious Meetup group for women in their 20s and early 30s has more than 200 members. There are over 18,000 Facebook followers of a nonprofit called Sober Movement.
Chic bars around the country now offer artisanal ‘mocktails’ on alcohol free nights; there are sober curious yoga retreats and early morning dance parties for the non-hung-over. A 2017 book, Mindful Drinking, suggests people who don’t want to be 100 percent abstinent might just want to drink a little less, and think about it a little more. Addiction researcher Katie Witkiewitz says the sober curious movement is a great alternative to more traditional approaches to sobriety.
- Prohibition worked better than you think: America’s anti-alcohol experiment cut down on drinking and drinking-related deaths — and it may have reduced crime and violence overall. (Vox)
- Marijuana Damages Young Brains: States that legalize it should set a minimum age of 25 or older. (NYT, $)
Vox Populi Popped Beijing’s Bubble
- In the wake of continued massive protests, on Saturday Hong Kong’s leadership suspended its push for legislation to allow extraditions to mainland China. It was the biggest concession to public pressure during President Xi Jinping’s seven years as China’s increasingly authoritarian leader.
- “This is a defeat for Xi even if Beijing frames this as a tactical retreat,” noted the author of the recently published China’s New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong. Xi was not in Beijing at the time of the political crisis — he was in Tajikistan celebrating his 66th birthday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (NYT)
- Hong Kong protests: pressure builds on Carrie Lam as public rejects apology: Calls for government leader to stand down after an estimated two million march over unpopular extradition bill (Guardian)
Out With The Old, In With The Doom
- It’s a distinction without a difference. In April the military ousted Sudan’s brutal dictator President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years. His enforcer, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, aka Hemeti, led the Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries that carried out the violent dispersal of protesters on June 3.
- Now Hemeti is Sudan’s de facto ruler. “We thought this might happen,” said one protester. “For years Hemeti killed and burned in Dafur. Now Dafur has come to Khartoum.” (NYT)
You Don’t Trade With Me, I Don’t Trade With You
- Earlier this month President Trump announced he was withdrawing India’s preferential trade treatment under America’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The move impacts $5.6bn worth of Indian exports, including steel and aluminum, that were previously duty-free in the US.
- Beginning Sunday India will retaliate by imposing new duties as high as 70 percent on 28 US products, including almonds and apples. The tariffs come just days before India’s foreign minister is set to meet with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo at the G20 summit in Japan. Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also expected to hold talks. (BBC)
- China prepared for long trade fight with the U.S.: party journal (Reuters)
- Why New Balance turned on Trump over China tariffs (CNN)
- ‘Catastrophic,’ ‘Cataclysmic’: Trump’s Tariff Threat Has Retailers Sounding Alarm (NYT, $)
- To protect and slur: Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia (Reveal News)
- In court, Facebook blames users for destroying their own right to privacy (The Intercept)
- Facebook’s cryptocurrency to debut next week backed by Visa, Mastercard, Uber, and others: WSJ: An unveiling is expected next week, with a launch to follow in 2020 (The Verge)
- How Weapons Secrets Often Fall Into Enemy Hands (NYT, $)
- Trump’s 2020 campaign is buying a whole lot of Facebook ads: Facebook advertisements were a big part of the president’s campaign in 2016. (Vox)
- Facebook to Boost Ad Spending as It Tries to Restore Reputation: Tech giant wants to improve the value of its brands as it seeks to rebuild trust (WSJ, $) If there’s any company in the world that knows the value of advertising it would be Facebook. The government regulates physical health products like Juul, it should also regulate products that affect mental health like Facebook.
- Does Facebook Have a Leaks Problem? (New York Magazine)
Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Firewall!
- For years the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warned that Russia has been inserting malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines or water supplies in the event of a possible conflict with the US. Officials are now describing the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s electric power grid that is a stepped up response to Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 election.
- Advocates of the more aggressive strategy say it’s long overdue. The administration declined to outline specific actions it was taking, but last week national security adviser John Bolton said the US’s broader view of potential digital targets is part of an effort “to say to Russia or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’” (NYT)
- Trump accuses New York Times of ‘virtual treason’ over Russia cyber warfare report: US president again accuses journalists of being ‘the enemy of the people.’ (Guardian)
America: We Have Met the Enemy, and They Are Us
- The Self-Destruction of American Power: Washington Squandered the Unipolar Moment (Foreign Affairs)
- Richard Holbrooke and a Certain Idea of America: This is an Age of Pessimism. But America can still remake, redeem and rescue. (NYT $)
- Democracy in Crisis: “Saving Democracy From Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency” (NYT $)
- An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border: “Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz.” (Esquire)
- Every Member of Team Trump Is Now Enabling Treason: On Wednesday, Trump confirmed he treats his oath to serve the United States faithfully with the same contempt he’s given to his wedding vows and business contracts. (Daily Beast)
- A Down and Dirty White House (NYT $)
- The Escalator Ride That Changed America: It seemed like a stunt when Donald Trump rode down to make his presidential announcement, and maybe it was. But nothing would be the same again. The full oral history of that moment, from people who were there. (Politico)
- Forget “No Collusion.” Trump Is Now Pro-Collusion. (New Yorker)
- Donald Trump and the Art of the Lie (NY Magazine)
- Saving Face: How Donald Trump silenced the people who could expose his business failures. (WaPo $)
- Trump campaign cutting ties with pollsters after internal numbers leaked: The president’s re-election campaign says series of polls showing Joe Biden ahead in key states (NBC News)
Church and State
- The lack of belief in a god has been on the rise in the US in recent decades. The Pew Research Center says close to a quarter of the population answers “none” when asked what religious denomination they belong to; that’s up 7 percent from 2007 to 2014.
- About 10 percent of Americans say they are atheists, but that may be on the low side. The only thing all atheists believe is that there is no god that governs the universe. After that, atheists have all sorts of different attitudes and political views and interests.
- Jay Wexler is an atheist who wants to explain six things he wishes people understood about atheism in America. He recently published a book called Our Non-Christian Nation, about how atheists and other minority groups think it’s high time they take their place in public life alongside the Christian majority. (Vox)
- How Should Christians Have Sex?: Purity culture was harmful and dangerous. But its collapse has left a void for those of us looking for guidance in our intimate lives. (NYT, $)
- Why Evangelicals Support President Trump, Despite His Immorality (Time)
- Making sense of evangelicals’ support for Trump: If urban liberals can’t learn to empathize with religious Americans, they will help secure Trump’s second term (Guardian)
- America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches: Religious communities often face a choice: Sell off the buildings they can no longer afford, or find a way to fill them with new uses. (Atlantic)
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” – Mahatma Gandhi