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Capitalism has decreased quality of life. It has given us needs that aren't real. It has befuddled us with crazy schedules and crazy distractions. It has given our overlords great power, whether they're our bosses or our legislators. I think that addiction has always been with humans, but what prevents us from addressing it is our lack of political will, our distraction, and our inability to, as individuals in the society, create change.

Ann Neumann returns to This is Hell! to discuss her Baffler Magazine article, "Pain and Suffering: Demonizing opioids has unintended consequences." "The Moment of Truth" follows the interview.

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Episode 944

Street Level

Mar 19 2017
Posted by Alexander Jerri

The Meat Of The Matter

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

Let's talk about something nice for a change. After all, here we are, broadcasting out of Chicagoland, the land of the City that Works, where the big shoulders are, and all that nice meat. Chicago is the home of Meat Club, a few friends of mine who, with me, back in the day, made a few successful forays into the wide world of meat consumption that is one of the tender pastimes of that jungle of cities. Nothing dystopian about that, eh? Or maybe I'm being ironic. After all, you can't spell meat without "meta."

We in Meat Club had some of the best carnitas available from the Michoacan transplants in Pilsen, and a variety of game meats from Casa Samuel in Little Village. The delicious carne en su jugo could not hide from us in its deep beef broth on the southwest side, long before it became trendy and was then forgotten again. On my own I'd been to all the known Jalisco-style birrierias for their sole product, goat, but we never quite made it to such an establishment as the Club. I'd call that "unfinished business."

Meat. Where there is meat, there is hope. Why do I say that? Why do I risk offending so many vegans, vegetarians, and simply sensible people who know meat is killing our planet, particularly industrial meat-raising? Well, I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to claim to purchase only sustainable, kosher, organic, or heritage meats. In fact I actively despise organic meats, and only eat kosher when it's appropriate to the cuisine. I look for bargains. I'm a man of the people, because I have to work for a living, and I can't be paying quadruple the price for a chicken thigh that doesn't taste any better than one from Frank Purdue.

That is, I'm not in favor of fashionable sustainability. It oppresses poor people. And by "poor people" I mean anyone who's one extra expense away from not being able to pay for their housing, and everyone even worse off from there.

I love that there are organic farmers, and I support them when I can, and even if you're growing boutique mushrooms, I say more power to you. But I don't have the means to support much of that monetarily. There are farmers' markets, and organic farms themselves, intended to supply poor people, the demographic who have the hardest time eating healthily let alone sustainably. There are some right here in Los Angeles selling organic produce grown by poor people in urban... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

On This Day in Rotten History...

In 1937 – (80 years ago) – in New London, Texas, a natural gas leak caused the deadliest school disaster in American history. To save money, the administration of New London School had canceled its regular heating gas contract, instead tapping into a line of residue gas from a nearby oilfield. This was a common cost-saving practice in that area, since the oil producers considered their residue gas to be a waste product and usually just burned it off. But natural gas has no odor of its own, and the oil field’s residue gas lacked the odor agents that natural gas providers are now required to add as a safety measure. So when the school’s wood-shop teacher turned on an electric sander in his classroom, he was unaware that the air in the room was saturated with gas. The building explosion could be heard four miles away, and some three hundred people, mostly young students, were killed.

In 1965 – (52 years ago) – Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov performed the world’s first space walk, floating in the void for twelve minutes. He then spent the next fifteen trying to get back into his spacecraft. Due to political pressure from the Kremlin to score another win over the Americans, his spacesuit and breathing unit had been designed and built in such a frantic hurry that they were almost unworkable. The suit overheated, and grew rigid like a balloon. Leonov could not move his arms and legs without reducing the air pressure to a dangerously low level. In the struggle to re-enter his spacecraft, he almost passed out, and nearly ran out of oxygen. Returning to earth the next day, Leonov and his crewmate, Pavel Belyayev, landed hundreds of miles off target and spent a freezing night in the deep Russian forest, shivering inside their spacecraft as hungry wolves and bears circled outside. The Kremlin trumpeted the news of another space first, but the truth about Leonov’s brush with death remained a state secret for decades.

In 1967 – (50 years ago) – the BP-chartered supertanker Torrey Canyon hit a rock off the coast of Cornwall, Great Britain. Over the next few days, it dumped its whole cargo into the North Atlantic: 120,000 tons of crude oil from Kuwait. It was the worst such accident up to that time, and as the oil slick threatened the beaches of Cornwall and northern France, various attempts to clean it up failed miserably. Long... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:15 - Historian Marjorie Spruill traces the ongoing, 40+ year battle between feminism and Christian conservatism.

Marjorie is author of Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics from Bloomsbury.


10:05 - Policy analyst Alyssa Aquino reports on the experience of undocumented Filipino immigrants in Trump's America.

Alyssa wrote the article Undocumented Filipinos Are Living a Special Nightmare in Trump’s America at Foreign Policy in Focus.


10:35 - Writer Judith Levine discusses radicalism, liberalism and things worse than fear in the Trump era.

Judith wrote the essay Descent into Liberalism at n+1.


11:05 - Writer Lauren Elkin explores the liberatory power of simply wandering around the city, on foot, as a woman.

Lauren is author of the book Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


12:05 - Kabul-based journalist Kate Clark examines the future of drone killings - in Afghanistan and beyond.

Kate wrote the articles Afghanistan, birthplace of the armed drone and Targeted Killings – a future model for Afghanistan? for Afghanistan Analysts Network.


12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen spills his guts about meat eating.

Probably going to be a not at all controversial MOT, this one.


Posted by Alexander Jerri

On This Day in Rotten History...

In the year 222 – (1,795 years ago) – the eighteen-year-old Roman emperor Elagabalus was ambushed and beheaded in a plot instigated by his own grandmother. Some historians portray him as an eccentric who alienated Romans by appointing unqualified people to high positions, forcing changes to public religion and rituals, and violating sexual taboos. For example, he married a Vestal Virgin while keeping a stable of male lovers. In some accounts, Elagabalus was not only fond of cross-dressing, but actually turned tricks as a prostitute, selling himself in taverns and in the imperial palace. The ancient Roman historian Cassius Dio claims that the emperor also offered huge sums of money, in vain, to any surgeon who could give him a sex change — and some recent authors have theorized that he may well have been transsexual or transgender. But other modern writers suspect that Elagabalus’s reputation was mostly fabricated after his death by the political rivals who killed him. After his headless body was dragged around Rome and dumped into the Tiber River, his name was removed from the official public record, and many of his political allies were also killed.

In 1864 – (153 years ago) – a tiny crack was noticed in a newly constructed earthen dam at Bradfield Reservoir in central England. In late afternoon, the crack was barely wide enough to accomodate a knife blade. But throughout the evening it steadily grew, provoking alarm among workers who finally resorted to using gunpowder in a desperate attempt to open an emergency spillway and relieve the water pressure. Their efforts failed, and just before midnight the dam collapsed, dumping almost seven hundred million gallons of water in a raging torrent that surged into the nearby industrial town of Sheffield. The flood killed some 250 people, and destroyed more than 400 houses, 20 bridges, and 100 factories and shops. The dam was one of only two designed by the civil engineer Sir Robert Rawlinson. His other dam lasted just twenty-nine years, requiring constant expensive repairs the whole time. In contrast, nine other dams built by Rawlinson’s rivals around the same time, and in the same area, are still in service today.

In 1918 – (99 years ago) – at Fort Riley, Kansas, Private Albert Gitchell, a US Army mess cook, was diagnosed with a new and unknown strain of the flu. He was the first... read more

Episode 943

Poorer By Degrees

Mar 13 2017
Posted by Alexander Jerri

 Constant Dystopia

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

When Alfonso Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men came out back in 2006, I hailed the return of the dystopian sci-fi movie. I loved those things back in the late 60s and 70s. Soylent Green, Rollerball, Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, A Clockwork Orange, A Boy and His Dog, from Kubrick to schlock, they were a seductive outlet for adolescent fears of pollution, governmental and corporate control, and nuclear war. So in Christmas of 2006, in the midst of the Bush/Cheney fiasco, I thought to myself, "Man, this is just what we need!"

Little did I know how hot the apocalyptic fantasy rush was going to be. I love lists, but even Rabelais would be daunted by the myriad. The Young Adult dystopian novels, movies and TV series alone multiply each season. Action, horror, comedies, psychological thrillers – every commercial genre has been colonized by camps of bleak futurologies.

I saw Logan, the final installment of the Hugh Jackman as Wolverine series, the other night. Didn't see any of the first however-many. The story is set in 2029. And this is not an anti-utopia per se. This is a Marvel Comics movie. Not that Marvel would be or has been incapable of weaving anti-utopian tales, and the X-men do exist in a world of allegorical ethnic cleansing, but even given that, there were a few almost unnoticeable but nonetheless remarkable passing notes on the way to telling the story. One, I don't even remember what it was – something about pollution, and the audience collectively, unconsciously, went, of course, it's the future, pollution got so bad it did that awful thing, whatever it was.

Okay, but this is twelve years in the future. The story takes place twelve years from now. My point is simply that it's all by-the-way now. You could set a story in next year, have most of the population dead of flesh-eating virus, and an audience would go, Yeah, that's plausible. Nuclear war has wiped out all humans except a handful of cannibal children by June? Could happen. John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor had to save a handful of humans from the Mayan-prophesied end of days? Five years ago? Well, we all had to go sometime.

This trend is not recent enough to blame on the ascension to office of the Creamsicle Raccoon, although a rewatch of any dystopia is most certainly enhanced by it. Reality itself... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:15 - Journalist Kate Aronoff explains why the climate movement needs a new politics, beyond the Democratic establishment.

Kate is author of the cover story The Climate Movement Goes to War with Trump at In These Times.


10:00 - Political scientist Susan Kang pokes holes in the flawed gospel of political polling.

Susan wrote the article What Nate Missed in the latest issue of Jacobin.


10:35 - Journalist Marcy Wheeler unpacks the scope of the Vault 7 Wikileaks / CIA hacking dump.

Marcy wrote the articles Wikileaks Dumps CIA's Hacking Tools and No More Secrets: Vault 7 at her site emptywheel.


11:05 - Sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom traces the for-profit college boom to our busted economy.

Tressie is author of the book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy from The New Press.


12:05 - Journalist Victoria Law examines the legal labyrinth facing parents post-incarceration.

Victoria wrote the recent article Double Punishment: After Prison, Moms Face Legal Battles to Reunite With Kids for Truthout.


12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen monitors our current dystopia.

Would have never thought it would be in such crisp, high-definition.

Episode 942

Manifesto Destiny

Mar 4 2017
Posted by Alexander Jerri

 Don't Flaunt Your Privatization In Public

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

We might all profit, in an intellectual, or non-profit, fashion, from boiling down the machinations of the Dump administration to one core aim: privatizing the public wealth of the United States, and as much of that of the rest of the world as possible, for the enrichment of himself and his allies, each of whom represents some segment or other of the currently entrenched global corporate system. That seems to be his only policy goal, if he has one (that and salving his constantly bruised ego at every opportunity, only of importance for its entertainment value). The fascist ideology he serves as mascot for was just his way of getting votes and continues as a way to placate his most enthusiastic supporters, although we might find it has more direct advantages to him in his goal of stealing public wealth.

No one should have any difficulty accepting this umbrella explanation of the projectile fertilizer squirting out of the White House. Betsy DeVos, the undereducated Education Secretary, is peddling school vouchers, which will allow public money to subsidize private schooling for rich kids. The vouchers, of course, will be useless to poor people, because they won't be enough to help them pay for private school entirely, but will be just enough to give the already rich a little discount at the expense of public education.

Putting public lands up for sale is on the Dump wish list. Public funds are paying for members of the Dump clan to live in New York City, and for him to host ostensibly diplomatic business meetings at his resort. Dismantling the EPA is at the top of the EPA's suicidal agenda right now, with the goal of undoing pollution and safety regulations on corporations so they can make just that much more money – public health, public water, land and air, and nature itself be damned. The military buildup Dump keeps barking about can only benefit defense contractors, and a few foreign conflicts are always good for private military companies in the Blackwater and Halliburton mold, as well as your traditional arms manufacturers. The war on sustainable energy is only good for the fossil fuel industry, an industry in need of euthanizing if there ever was one. Even the money for that crown jewel of idiocy, the border wall, will mostly fill the pockets of executives of contracting firms with a bare... read more