Morning Ed: Art & Entertainment {2018.03.14.W}

[AE1] I really don’t get it. The CIA and military establishment were as often as not the bad guys on that show. What, precisely, were they paying for?

[AE2] As The Sun discovers lit criticism via Frankenstein, Sian Cain has a list of newly controversial literature.

[AE3] What if BNL’s One Week is actually about terminal domestic violence? I doubt it, but it wouldn’t be their first song about or involving domestic violence.

[AE4] What happened to Brendan Fraser. There was a whole thing about him on the TV show Wrecked where characters debated whether or not it would get national attention if he disappeared on a presumed plane crash. I thought it would have been great if he had guess starred in one fashion or another.

[AE5] When Harvey Weinstein wanted to make cuts to Princess Mononoke, Studio Ghibli responded by sending a samurai sword.

[AE6] Marvel is going back to its whitebread basics, and David Barnett is unhappy. Diversity question aside, Marvel copying DC’s tendency to make the comic book storylines unrecognizable to people who saw and enjoyed the most recent hit movie is the height of insanity.

[AE7] Siding with Killmonger in Black Panther has become the new Defense of the Empire, but Bossip says that to like him is to dislike black women.

[AE8] Spotted Toad is less impressed with To Kill a Mockingbird and Ann Althouse thinks it can be dropped from standard curriculum.


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134 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Art & Entertainment {2018.03.14.W}

  1. AE8 [To Kill a Mockingbird]: I really liked those articles.

    When I read the book in 9th grade, and for a long time after, I lied to myself and told myself that I really liked it, probably because I felt I was expected to like it. But I found it, or at least I find it now, to be quite mediocre. Not a horrible book, but just not well done. Or….I guess it was well-done enough. That’s one more novel than I’ve written and maybe I shouldn’t be too hasty. But its reputation far surpassed its quality.

    None of that is really the focus of those two articles from AE8. Their focus is more that it’s not the ideal book to teach with. I’m tempted to agree, though I can’t really comment too much on the teaching aspect, not being a teacher.

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    • I suspect “Mockingbird” is so heavily used because:

      a. It’s not a horrifically difficult read in terms of vocabulary or syntax, so even ‘reluctant readers’ or people slightly below grade level could manage it

      b. It features protagonists they figure kids can “relate” to, though I’m not sure how much kids today could relate to kids in Depression-era South. (Especially given that one was probably a caricature of Truman Capote as a child).

      I dunno. I liked it but I read it on my own in the summer when I was like 12 or so. I didn’t like most of the books we read for school but that may have been the “required” aspect and also the “sit around and discuss and listen to your fellow student’s depressingly hot takes on it” aspect. (I liked “A Light in the Forest” much better when I re-read it as an adult). But I felt that “Mockingbird” was less “Oh I can relate to Scout” and more “this is a portrait of a time and a place different from my own”

      Another book widely foisted on middle-school children, or at least it was when I was one, was “Lord of the Flies,” which just made me twitch because I could totally see it happening if my class wound up on a desert island with no adults. No, “Lord of the Flies” was tamer; what would likely have happened to the girls in my class would have been worse.

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      • I have come to the conclusion that Mockingbird is more of a proto-YA novel in both its writing and how it had been moved to the realm of 6-8th grade reading lists. And would still be there if not for the language, which is a wee bit rough.

        But, reading and rereading it in class did not put it in the same catagory as Huck Finn, which to this day I loath due to the constant looking for symbolism and meaning in a poorly taught class, a loathing that spreads to all his writing.

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        • Mockingbird is more like an old school YA novel than a present day young adult novel. Before the 1960s, most officially approved children’s literature, meaning adults saw it as something worthy for kids to read, was firmly grounded in reality. It wasn’t until A Wrinkle in Time or the Prydain novels that fantasy and science fiction elements began appearing in officially approved children’s literature. It took until Harry Potter for the fantastical to gain dominance as an element.

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          • I wrote to Lloyd Alexander as a kid and received not a form letter but a very thoughtful personal response typed on his stationery with what appeared to be a manual typewriter. I still have it decades later.

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                • From what I can tell, Anthony never seemed to have acted on his darker fantasies. At least that we know of. He seems to be a living example of Aristotle’s catharsis thesis regarding the arts. By putting his questionable parts into writing, he avoids having to act on them. That could be wishful thinking though.

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                  • I’m pretty sure – though not 100 percent – that it’s wishful thinking considering all the evidence we have, some from his own pen, of “special friendships” he had with 10-14 year old kids. I mean, maybe not his *darkest* fantasies, he may have kept those in check, but plenty that are very very not okay. He “benefited” from being in an era where people were much happier to not see things and very actively look away, than they are right now.

                    I’d *like* to think otherwise but I’m pretty damn sure not.

                    Also, having read Firefly as a teenager working out my abused-kid shit, who had previously been fond of a lot of Piers Anthony, he didn’t write about that stuff like someone who has never actually acted on his pedophile impulses. He wrote like someone speaking from twisted, delusional experience. (It definitely is horrific though.)

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                    • Your most likely right. I would argue that Anthony did produce most of his works during the 80s and warning kids about unusually friend,y seeming cool adults was part of 80s culture. It was also the era of moral panics involving child abuse. So I don’t know if Anthony benefitted from being in era where people didn’t want to see things. People did see things at the height of his career. Anthony mainly benefited from being low on the cultural radar. If Anthony had more cultural visibility, like say the RL Stine level, he might well have gotten into legal trouble or at least some might have noticed his darker fantasies before the blogging era.

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                      • People saw overblown moral panics and stranger danger. They didn’t see the adults they actually trusted who were *more* likely to be the ones actually perpetrating the abuse. I mean, the parents of his special teenage and pre-pubescent friends were way too trusting compared to how we would be now — not that people didn’t imagine children were being abused. They just didn’t imagine people THEY LIKED could be the ones abusing them. And if a parent DID worry, a best-selling, very rich author would have had ways of smothering that that are less available now.

                        By “now” I didn’t mean the blogging era, but specifically the last 2-3 years.

                        Anyway, as I said, it’s possible but unlikely that I’m mistaken.

                        I just really really really wouldn’t encourage any kid I knew to befriend the man.

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                        • That’s true. A few years ago TAL had an episode about a teenage boy from upstate New York having a miserable adolescence that ran away to have the fantasy of living with Piers Anthony. The boy made it to Piers Anthony”s house, had a long and apparently productive talk with him, stayed the night, and returned home. TAL called Anthony and Anthony remembered the incident. The boy, now a grown man, believed that his adventure and talk with Anthony helped him turn his life around.

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                          • Yep. There are people on multiple continents who fondly remember my dad and see his influence as life changing as well. Same with the music teacher who will be tried for 6 different charges spanning 20 years in my hometown this summer as well.

                            The idea that someone could literally be a huge help to some kids and ruin the lives of some other kids is a fairly new one, at least in the popular conscience if not in the minds of victims and their counselors.

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                              • Hm, that may be true but what I think is the actual case is even more complicated than that. Or at least there’s that wide range *between* the people they are a monster to and those they are a saint to. They are not just sometimes a monster, sometimes a saint, but also quite often combined, unpredictable monster/saints. Which hooks kids in with a kind of power that is somewhat related to BF Skinner’s theory about inconstant rewards.

                                Basically I would be wary of any charismatic adult that prefers to create a *fiefdom* of children / teenagers, whatever their reasons. Healthy adults seem to be happy to share kids with other adults and share strengthening those kids with other adults, rather than cultivating teen/child cults of personality around themselves….

                                But clever predators are also aware of this and may give “showings” of such sharing while still building a fiefdom :(

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                                • That’s true to. It wouldn’t surprise if people are going to learn all sorts of things about Anthony after he dies just like we learned stuff about Marion Zimmer Bradley after she died. The shame and guilt felt by victims in the past combined with the way clever predators make sure that enough people love them, especially if they are famous enough, often leads to these being unknown until the predator is dead. Only then do victims really feel safe to reveal the truth.

                                  Most people who aren’t diehard Anthony fans most likely suspect that he is guilty of something.* Like with the case of Jimmy Saville, there really is too much evidence to ignore and people are more attuned to these things now.

                                  *By this I mean we all know what Anthony did. We just don’t know the extent.

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                                    • Honestly due to my own experiences I tend to block them out until someone mentions their names, so there might be others within SFF I’m just not thinking of — but those are the two I find most painful. (FWIW Bradley was, in some sense, also a victim of her husband, but she seems to have gone whole hog on the if you can’t beat them, join them in their awfulness to every last degree, sort of a thing.) Rumors surface regularly about Arthur C. Clarke being an unrepentant ephebophile (particularly after he moved to Sri Lanka) but the sources are pretty third hand and dubious to the best of my knowledge. (I admit to not having tried to learn more.)

                                      Oh, this is outside of science fiction, but I was reminded recently that Anne Sexton was an abusive mother, including sexual abuse of her own daughter. Which makes me really sad, partly because in her case it was limited both in time and in scope and seemed pretty tied to her mental illnesses. I mean, still an abhorrent moral wrong, but somehow less… calculated than these other examples.

                                      Tony Hendra of British comedy fame rather famously provoked his daughter into telling her own story in a book after he published a spiritual memoir which conveniently left out his sexual abuse of her, a few years ago. It’s a he said / she said (though there was enough there for a mainstream publisher to publish her version), and again, as far as I know limited to the family, but it was still really gutwrenching for me. I’d read his book and been moved by it…

                                      Those are the saddest literary ones that spring to mind.

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                                        • It’s ok. It all is sad. And the Bradley testimony about Breen, and her daughter’s report, especially, are very shocking.

                                          But it’s important, I think, that the world know how common and fucked up these sorts of things are. 1 in 8 children is the CDC’s figure for children who are scarred for life by childhood trauma of one kind or another… and that very often includes sexual abuse at one point.

                                          FWIW, as I reflected on it, I realized that I have been made very uncomfortable by some of Chip Delany’s stuff, too, and went looking for information. What I found suggests that I could not, no matter how much I respect him in other ways, conscionably suggest he be left alone with young male children – much of what he says is abhorrent; and yet also I think he is incredibly honest about the pains he suffered as a child, the desires he had as a child (which I blame on those pains and he doesn’t), and some of the ways in which the justice system fails victims. It’s enough to make me shun him, whether or not I would want to, but not enough to make me convict him morally (whether or not I would want to):
                                          (major trigger warning of course)
                                          https://shetterly.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-conversation-with-samuel-r-delany.html

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                                          • (Hm, to be a bit clearer. To convict him morally *as a whole person*; I find plenty of his opinions unacceptable and morally shameful, for sure, and there’s a lot of his work that I couldn’t read without throwing up. If he’s actually followed through in any way on any of the convictions he’s willing to discuss in this area, that would greatly change my opinion of him and I would be utterly done, and he’d be utterly beyond the pale to me (much as say, MZB is, despite how completely enamored of her work I was as a child and teenager).

                                            And yet I think he hasn’t ever followed through on them, based on this and other information, and that the parts of his thought that are abhorrent to me, and may have contributed to real harms being done to other people because people read what he had to say and felt protected / justified by it …. anyway I think they’re a coping mechanism of sorts, a way for him to have survived what was done to him as a very young child. So I’m far more saddened than outraged. I think he’s a better example of someone writing out his demons, consciously or not, than Anthony is. And I hope that isn’t just wishful thinking on my part.)

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                    • An added thought is that the debate on Piers Anthony is a lot like the debate on whether Lewis Carol, another and even more beloved author than Anthony, was a pedophile. The BBC produced a documentary that made a very convincing case that Lewis Carol was pedophile and anybody who thinks differently is deluding themselves. The documentary was available on YouTube for free and might still be.

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                      • FWIW, I think there’s a lot more room for debate about Carroll – and JM Barrie – even though I tend to lean with the BBC in this case. For starters, neither of them ever wrote a super horrific novel that in some parts is sympathetic to, ugh, the things it is sympathetic to. (I was going to type them out but then I decided not to subject the readership to them.)

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                        • Carrol didn’t write about his leanings but he did take many very disturbing photographs of prepubescent girls and the look on at least some of the girls faces was of profound distrust and disgust. That’s just as bad as Anthony’s writing.

                          JM Barrie is a more complicated case because of a lack of evidence and at least some evidence that he could be an asexual who didn’t really mature mentally than a pedophile.

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                          • I’ve seen and been horrified by the pictures (esp the young girls’ expressions in some of them), even as I am also aware that taking nude pictures of Victorian children was (to my mind a very disturbing) part of upper class British culture at that time. Have you read Firefly? If so, we’ll have to agree to disagree. If not, I venture to say that parts of that novel – parts that seem to reflect authorial sympathy *and* experience – are more damning and even less ambiguous than those photos.

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                            • No, I never read Firefly. My Anthony reading was limited to Xanth, the Incantations series, and I think some other books but not Firefly. I originally gave up Anthony because I decided he wasn’t a very good writer. During my early to mid-twenties, during Bush II’s first term, I realized that there was some very disturbing stuff in his Xanth work. From what I heard about it, Firefly has all the filters off and people in editing deciding to publish it rather than call the authorities for some reason.

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                              • “For some reason” – perhaps because it was the 80s. Perhaps also because he had a track record of suing publishers for editing his stuff wrong in a way he felt was censorship / breach of contract and also won some financial judgments against them.

                                Or less empathetically, perhaps because he was making them a crap load of money on other titles at the time.

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                                      • I haven’t read the book in 30 years and I suspect I’d be disgusted by the scene now – once one stops dissociating so hard, there’s a lot one cannot bear to read… or cannot read without revulsion anyway.

                                        But as an abused 10 year old, I didn’t think King was saying the scene was good or positive. I thought he was saying that the female character had been damaged by her experiences at home (there’s textual support for that) and that as a result her choices were pretty fucked up. That the horrors of home life can be as awful for some kids as any scary story about not-actually-clowns-in-the-sewers.

                                        Meant a lot to me at 10, feeling seen like that, whether or not I was correct in my assessment. It’s a feeling I tucked away somewhere, into a memory bank I only accessed when I was feeling particularly lost or hopeless.

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                                        • That’s giving King way more credit than I’d give him. I thought he believed that scene was just somehow demonstrating true friendship or something. It could be worse. King is a strange man and was fueled by drugs when writing.

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                                          • *shrugs*

                                            I think he’s the modern equivalent to Dickens and he seems to be a relatively responsible human being. You may have heard things I haven’t heard.

                                            If I reread the scene – possible that I will since I wouldn’t be averse to reading It again some day – I’ll let you know if that perspective changes for me. I definitely wouldn’t have put it in the movie, either way. The eye of the camera and actual kids is, IMO, much different and less subject to charitable interpretation than a story about kids interacting with each other.

                                            (This is totally off-topic, but Firestarter was another of his books that made me feel seen as a kid, and somehow safer just because someone, somewhere, actually knew my life might suck a lot more than I was allowed to say. I have a feeling that interpretation won’t hold up well either, thus have never reread the book. Thank goodness though, for the two librarians that were wise enough to let me read from the adult section – without directing me at all – before I was old enough to check the books out.)

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                                        • My reading is much closer to Lee’s than to yours, but at the same time, I simply didn’t think of that. If that is what King is trying to do, or even if it isn’t but it makes sense for you to read it that way, I can see where it’s maybe not quite as bad as I had thought.

                                          (((The rest of the ending, though, still doesn’t work, with or without the bonding scene. I’m supposed to believe this creature has been lurking in the area since before people settled there, and only now it has eggs that are going to hatch into more creatures????)))

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                                          • (((The rest of the ending, though, still doesn’t work, with or without the bonding scene. I’m supposed to believe this creature has been lurking in the area since before people settled there, and only now it has eggs that are going to hatch into more creatures????)))

                                            Depends on how long those eggs take to hatch. If it’s “centuries”, then that explains why IT has been hanging around this place for so long.

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                                            • Maybe…..but King doesn’t really prepare us (by which I mean “me”) for that possibility.

                                              Honestly, though, I think I was upset by the fact that it wasn’t really a clown after all. I support any work of literature that exposes clowns for the horrible monsters they are. (And yeah, I’m kind of conflating the book with the TV miniseries.)

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                                              • IT was an eldritch abomination, so unthinkably evil+alien that even the heroes forgot it after every confrontation, both the first and the decades later second.

                                                Even “clown” is a step down from that. :)

                                                And I think there’s an argument that it had some very broad “enhance evil” on the whole town even apart from when it was deliberately messing with people’s heads.

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        • Possibly, but I read it long before I even knew a movie existed.

          (Hm. I wonder if that’s a thing: that some schools pick books because there’s a movie that can then be shown in class. I remember being made to watch the (1963) Lord of the Flies as a freshman in high school)

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          • I think you are on to something with the movie/book in class idea. I too watched read the same books and films around the same time as you seemingly. I also grew up in the household of a college prof, in a college town, with fully half of the students in the one high school faculty brats.

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            • My junior-level (high school) English teacher wanted to show us “Ran” after we read King Lear but wasn’t able to. I can’t remember if it was that he couldn’t find a copy or if the higher ups said it was too violent a movie to show 16 and 17 year olds.

              Though given how scarring I remember “Lord of the Flies” to have been and that was okayed for FRESHMEN…. I don’t know.

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        • To clarify or elaborate: a lot of what I was required to read in middle and high school I really liked. When I liked it, it was usually in spite of being required. Some things were technically “required” in the sense it was part of a reading assignment, but we never discussed in class or were tested on it. Or we had a lit reader and I’d read some of the pieces that weren’t required for the class. That’s how I read Poe’s “The Bells.”

          One thing I didn’t like were the “worksheets” the teachers gave us while we read, which had questions we had to write down the answers to as we read. These questions were probably prompts to get us to notice key points, but in practice they interrupted the reading flow (at least they did for me). This was more of an issue with in-class movies, where we couldn’t just watch the movie, we had to keep the checklist in front of us and try to catch the answers when they occurred in the film.

          I’d also distinguish between books that we were required to read as a class, and books we could choose to read individually and write a report on, but which came from a list of “required” books.

          A list of works I was required to read and loved or at least liked: Huckleberry Finn (sorry, Aaron); Paradise Lost; Iliad; Odyssey; Grapes of Wrath; Scarlet Letter; Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock; Great Gatsby.

          A list of works I was required to read and didn’t like: Great Expectations; Where the Red Fern Grows; The Outsiders; Johnny Tremain; The Crucible; Macbeth; Shane.

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          • Ugh, Great Expectations was the worst.

            That and Holden Caulfield’s Day Off were the least goodly reads.

            Of course, we’re kinda proving a point about education… it wasn’t so much that students liked Latin and reading Horace and Catullus, it was that after the grew up they could all talk about not liking Horace and Catullus.

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          • Huckleberry Finn (sorry, Aaron)

            So much of that comes down to the teaching, which in my case was horrible on that title. Somewhere on my shelves I have a nice copy of Innocents Abroad that I have always meant to read, but each time I pick it up, I am reminded of that class.

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    • I read it in high school with a teacher who had named his daughter “Scout.” He was quite enthusiastic about the book and Althouse’s list of “problematics” would be the kind of thing that would make him say “exactly.”

      I re-read it several years ago and enjoyed some of the points that I didn’t appreciate as a kid, some of which Scout hears, but doesn’t understand. The book had a much more palpable air of menace than I recalled.

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      • Maybe if I reread it, I’d see it differently. One of my big faults when reading literature is that I trust the narrator too much. If I reread it with more acknowledgment of what you mention (the fact that Scout witnesses what she witnesses as a kid), maybe I’d appreciate the novel more along the lines you do.

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  2. And AE2: I remember a probably-apocryphal story about a small-town storekeeper who got kids to read “Treasure Island” by having copies but telling the kids, “Oh, your parents really don’t want you reading this book; I would get in trouble with them if they found out you were reading it.” Would that kind of reverse psychology work on kids today?

    Though I suspect it’s the grownups who are to blame. I remember reading a few books as a kid where one or the other of my parents looked at me with raised eyebrow and said, “Isn’t that kind of a scary book?” and I thought “No, it’s not scary at all.” (Some of them, upon re-reading as an adult – yeah, there were scary aspects (all the time Bilbo is trapped underground in “The Hobbit”). The average kid from an at-least-marginally-functional home is probably more resilient in some ways than the average adult, simply because kids have seen less stuff in their lives. (I will confess as an adult to occasionally consulting that “Does the Dog Die” website before watching a movie)

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    • Honestly I’m pretty sure even kids from pretty non-functional homes are more resilient than adults, because of myelinization slowing adults down, or… something. I was just talking to Jay about this last night, about how I was so much more resilient as a little kid than I am now (even as I recognize that I’m stronger, safer, and more grounded now – but I just don’t bounce back like that). Stuff got compartmentalized and I was out running around the next second. Granted it left scars and damage I’m still dealing with now, but in the moment, I was quick to move on.

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    • Some of this is developmental… kids’ ability to understand some of these things is just different than adults so it doesn’t carry the same resonance.

      Kids are also much more tuned into our adult energy, which can often prime them for an emotional response that is other than the one they might have more independently. Fortunately, with a bit of self-awareness and intention, this can be leveraged for good.

      My boys don’t scare easily I think in part because I don’t scare easily. And when we see “scary” stuff (such as Halloween decorations), we respond with an exaggerated, “AHHH! SPOOKY SPOOKY!” and laugh. Contrast that with the adult that tells a child on September 19th, “Okay… so things might start to get scary. If you’re scared, it’s okay to just tell me and we’ll never leave the house.” Well, what are the odds that kid DOESN’T get freaked out at that point?

      Some kids (and adults) have real fears and anxieties that need to be accounted for. But often we foist our own fears and anxieties on children and then marvel with bewilderment at their apparent inability to function. Sigh.

      Kids are so much better than adults.

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      • Kids are so much better than adults.

        Given my experience as a kid (rejected, bullied, etc.) vs. being an adult (generally liked and accepted, it seems), I’d beg to differ with that as a general statement, but I do think kids are more resilient than adults.

        I was an anxious child but my anxiety took a different form than it does in me as an adult, and it seemed I was better able to deal with it as a child; I think a lot of it was compartmentalizing it away and making up stories in my head to distract myself from it.

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        • Apologies if my comment there seemed dismissive of your experiences. Kids are far from perfect.

          What I was trying to get at with that comment is that there are many ways in which we hold children to higher standards than adults.

          “Kids are monsters!” you’ll hear folks cry in response to some very real monstrous behavior on their part. Videos of bullying or stories of kids doing mean, hurtful, or destructive things elicit these sorts of responses. But kids also have brains that aren’t fully formed which isn’t an excuse for this behavior but at least an explanation.

          Adults, on the other hand, often engage in the very same behavior. But, for whatever reason, we never say adults are monstrous. Have you read YouTube comments recently? Or comments on damn near any site other than this one? Is that really any better than what the kids are doing in those videos and stories? Hell, sometimes a YouTube video of kids being awful will have thousands of comments — almost all by adults — engaging in the very behavior they are disparaging the children for indulging in. I just don’t get it.

          I’m glad that your adult experiences are better than your childhood ones and I’m sorry you experienced that. But I also wonder to what extent the difference is because you have much more agency as an adult to choose your surroundings and thus have been able to position yourself in an environment that is generally accepting of you… something you probably had no ability to do as a child.

          Which sort of circles back to why childhood can be so hard. Is there another period of life where we say, “We’re going to cram you in a room with a whole bunch of other people who are struggling with the exact same things you are struggling with and whose wants and needs are developmentally aligned with your own and we’re not going to give you any say in the matter”? There really isn’t. So we shouldn’t necessarily be surprised when kids are awful, even if they are indeed awful.

          Adults? What’s our excuse?

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          • “Adults, on the other hand, often engage in the very same behavior. But, for whatever reason, we never say adults are monstrous.”

            what the hell are you talking about dude people say that adults are monstrous all the damn time

            like when they say “don’t read the comments” it’s not because they think all those comments were left by teenagers

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          • “We’re going to cram you in a room with a whole bunch of other people who are struggling with the exact same things you are struggling with and whose wants and needs are developmentally aligned with your own and we’re not going to give you any say in the matter”

            Although adults obviously DO have some say in the matter, perhaps not much if part of their struggles are financial, I think you just quite succinctly explained the problem with cube farms / open plan workplaces / call centers / etc. (This is not to take away from your point, at all, you are right. But I just found it funny to think about.)

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          • I’ve just dealt with too many people who seem to think kids are these unselfish angels who could “teach us adults stuff” and I’m like “put down the glurge and actually LOOK at grade school kids”

            Humans are monstrous. It takes hard work every day for every human not to give in to his or her baser impulses. Right now, I really want to go and scream at a colleague who is speaking loudly on the phone in a language I do not speak but I understand he’s having some family difficulties so I just turn up the volume on my internet radio and try to ignore it.

            I think the deal with kids – at least, kids from about 10-16 years of age – is that they’ve figured out what pushes people’s buttons BUT they have not yet learned enough tact/empathy to want to avoid pushing those buttons. (I remember being 13 as being the deepest pit of Hell because my classmates reliably knew how to make me cry)

            Also, isn’t working generally being crammed in a room with other people? I mean, unless you’re a Forest Service fire-spotter or a lone artist or a mechanic in a one-man shop? I bite my tongue all the time in the presence of my colleagues, and I actually LIKE them.

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  3. AE7: Killmonger isn’t shy about killing men that stands in the way of his particular ideology either. He killed the old priest played by Forest Whittaker when he tried to defend T’Challa during the duel. That’s when revolutionaries do, they kill people who oppose them. Yet, men are seen as basically disposable and less worthy of sympathy than female victims.

    Another thing that fascinates me about the Killmonger debate is that it illustrates the hypocrisy of romanticizing revolutionary movements. Some groups get bigger starry eyed looks from outsiders than others. While not exactly supporting their goals, liberals long had a certain tendency to look past the most extreme forms of Black radicalism, feminist radicalism, LGBT radicalism, and other radicalism as understandable. Somehow Jewish radicalism seems to get no such romanticization. Malcolm X is a beloved figure of liberation but Menachem Begin is a hated extremist even though Menachem Begin underwent some very radicalizing experiences with his family getting killed by the Nazis and Begin getting sent to a gulag by the Soviets as an agent of British imperialism and the British putting a warrant on him. Yet, Jews are never ever supposed to get radicalized the way other non-majority groups are allowed to.

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  4. AE6: I’ve said over and over and over again: if this stuff sold, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    The old advertising way to put it is “the dog won’t eat the dog food”.

    Everybody loves the idea of Riri Williams replacing Tony Stark in Iron Man, but if they don’t love it enough to BUY THE COMICS, then it doesn’t freaking matter how many tweets they send complimenting the writer for breaking new ground and how many nerds they accuse of sexism/racism for not digging the character.

    If Marvel was moving product at high numbers, then we wouldn’t have a problem.

    Marvel saw their sales slump. Why? Because their core audience wouldn’t buy the new books *BUT NEITHER DID THE NEW AUDIENCE THE WRITERS WERE CHASING*.

    So Marvel goes back to what used to work. Because it moved more product.

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    • This is exactly right. Businesses exist to make a profit and Marvel Comics is just as much as a business as a pet food manufacturer. If people wanting more diversity in comic books don’t buy the comic books with diversity than comic book publishers will return to what makes them money.

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      • — The success of the movie and TV franchises shows that there is an audience out there for such work. The fact that these impulses do not translate to the to the comic buying crowd — well that does say something about the comic buying crowd.

        In the end people like what they like, and one’s use of leisure time shouldn’t always be hyper-political. That said, it is somewhat political. If the comics crowd is rather hesitant to look at comics about diverse characters — and they seem to be — we do get to wonder how open minded they are. In fact, judging by how these conversations play out online, there seems to be a core of fans who are manifestly hostile to diversity. Basically, there is this big seething mass of racist, sexist little shits.

        Big picture — there are only so many obsessive nerds out there, and while you can make money from a shrinking population of people with entrenched views, this is not a good bet long term, particularly when the people in question are manifestly awful.

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        • I think the complaint is that Marvel did make a long and relatively good faith effort to diversify their roster but people weren’t buying the comics. Traditional comic book buyers were rejecting them and they weren’t attracted a younger, more diverse audience as well. So Marvel returned to form because that’s what traditional comic book readers wanted and what newer fans expected from the movies because the movie versions helm closely to the traditional versions.

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        • Personally, I don’t mind Marvel/DC moving toward a more diverse cast (I love the new Ms. Marvel, for instance), it’s probably good. The misstep Marvel took was too much, too fast.

          Thor, for instance, was basically put out to pasture, and Jane Foster took over in a blink. What’s wrong with having a big story arc where Jane is hanging with Thor, gets separated from Mjolnir and Jane just grabs it, not thinking, then BOOM!, she’s got the bitching helm and booby armor? Then those two get to mess around figuring things out for a dozen pages or so, and we have Jane stepping in for Thor so he can go on a cosmic walkabout or something.

          Anyway, it could have been done better.

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        • “If the comics crowd is rather hesitant to look at comics about diverse characters”

          If the *single-issue* comics crowd…

          I’mma keep harping on this until people realize it’s true. Trade paper is a huge segment of Marvel’s market and it’s far more excited about comics diversity than the single-issue folks are.

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        • The success of the movie and TV franchises shows that there is an audience out there for such work.

          What do you mean? Riri Williams has not appeared in any movies that I recall nor does she show up in any television franchises. Same for the Jane Foster version of Thor.

          Riri *DOES* show up in a couple of video games, I guess. (Same for the Jane Foster version of Thor.)

          If the comics crowd is rather hesitant to look at comics about diverse characters — and they seem to be — we do get to wonder how open minded they are.

          They’re not buying the same comics that you’re not buying.

          Big picture — there are only so many obsessive nerds out there, and while you can make money from a shrinking population of people with entrenched views, this is not a good bet long term, particularly when the people in question are manifestly awful.

          Well, trying to change things resulted in poor sales. Because the people who claimed to want this product didn’t buy them *OR* they’re such a small segment of the audience that they did not come close to replacing the old audience.

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          • It resulted in poor sales among the 200,000 to 300,000 or so dorks like me still buying single issue comic books in 2018.

            As I pointed out below, the run of Guardians of the Galaxy they took to use for the movie was largely a commercial failure. Yet, it worked well when put in front of an audience that wasn’t small c conservative about comic book characters.

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            • Well, if the bean counters at Marvel are so blind to the truth that they’re going to switch direction *AGAIN* after some sales numbers that aren’t even bad, they deserve the bad sales they’ve been having.

              (Here’s a flashback: Remember when Marvel asked Fans to stick with a story to its conclusion? “At Marvel, we want to assure all of our fans that we hear your concerns about aligning Captain America with Hydra and we politely ask you to allow the story to unfold before coming to any conclusion.” Personally, I prefer stories that make me want to read the next chapter to stories that have the publishers assure me will be good.)

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    • Also, during the Superhero movie phenomena was one of the weirdest points in time to make the traditional characters disappear. Hey that movie was cool, let go check out a comic book store. Wait, why does Thor have breasts? Captain America is a NAZI?

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      • In Marvel’s defense, they could have legitimately believed they had more room to maneuver than DC in this regard because their characters weren’t etched into popular consciousness the way Superman and Batman were before the recent Superhero phenomena. Even their most iconic characters like Spider Man or the X-Men pressed lightly on the popular consciousness. They probably thought they had more room to play than DC because of this. That the movie fans would continue to watch the movies and comic book fans would read the comics. Separate audiences for separate products.

        Marvel started getting political and into social justice themes long before DC did to. Elements of what could be called political awareness existed since the mid-1960s, during the height of the Silver Age. Marvel had an African superhero when DC was still all white.

        Although, I suppose you can argue that the fact that most people really learned about Marvel characters through the movies gave Marvel less room to experiment because people expected what they say in the movies.

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    • I’m not a comic book or comic book movie person but it’s weird to me that this isn’t obvious to everyone. People enjoy this stuff because they’re entertained by it. Turning it into something percieved as preaching or expressions of piety will eventually start to limit its appeal to converts and those open to conversion.

      It reminds me of Christian rock from the 90s. There’s something inherently uncool about it, no matter how much the singer sounds like Eddie Vedder

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      • Christian Rock and Christian movies are things that I don’t get about Evangelical Protestant culture. I’m not sure of any part of the New Testament that states all entertainment options need to be Godly but a lot of Evangelicals seem to believe it. The idea that Jesus will damn you to hell for going to watch Jurassic Park or listening to Pearl Jam and Sound Garden seems a bit out of character for what Christians keep telling us about him.

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            • In 9 years of Catholic school I don’t recall ever being presented with a list. The closest I can remember is some recommendations against over-exposure to overly satanic music. Of course one of the priests was known to drink beer in the parish van while listening to Maiden and Motorhead so the bar for what constituted ‘satanic music’ was lax for the circumstances.

              We just got the good old fashioned guilt, shame, and the occasional physical discipline that would probably be a bit over the line now.

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              • There was the Index of Prohibited books that ran (formally) from the Reformation until 1966.

                Primarily concerned with Heretical treatises perhaps the clearest formulation was by Leo XIII in 1897

                2. The books of apostates, heretics, schismatics and any writer who advocate heresy or schism are absolutely forbidden, or tending to undermine the very foundations of religion in any way.

                3. The books of non-Catholics who treat former professed religion are forbidden , unless it is understood that there is nothing in them that is contrary to the Catholic faith.

                4. The books of the same authors, who do not deal with the purpose of religion, but only occasionally touch the truths of the faith, by ecclesiastical law are not intended to be prohibited, unless they are by special decree. [emphasis added]

                …and of course obscene books; but we all know those when we see them.

                Almost all the books (once you get past wikipedia) are theological/philosophical texts… though people enjoy trotting out Hugo and/or Dumas (love stories only) and other sundry authors many now consider harmless.

                I am not aware of anything other than informal local “guidelines” or recommendations regarding “media” movies and/or songs. Most diocese will publish guidelines on current movies…which are mostly useless as they are concerned with the wrong things.

                I’m not 100% sure what Lee means “for ceremonies” … all liturgical ceremonies are already proscribed with what is licit and not – and have nothing to do with the Index.

                I can’t quite put together a Classical Liberal defense of the Index, so I won’t.

                But, one of the most interesting things Alasdair MacIntyre ever said to me in class was, “None of you are bright enough to read Nietzsche.” By which he meant, that Nietzsche’s genius was so great that if read unassisted none of us would be able to escape the logic of his arguments; at best we could only reject them… and thereby affirm them.

                And that, he, informed us, is the importance of having an Index.

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        • Christian Rock and Christian movies are things that I don’t get about Evangelical Protestant culture.

          Here, let me try to frame it in such a way that can get you to say “OH! Yeah… I totally get that!”

          Like, imagine a culture that has a handful of assumptions of what is good and what is bad and if you even *MENTION* something that is bad, you have to frame it with how you know it’s bad, you’re just mentioning it because it’s relevant.

          Like if someone brought up Piers Anthony but immediately had to start talking about how they knew that Piers Anthony was problematic.

          Does that make it easier for you to wrap your head around?

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        • I don’t think they believe all entertainment must be godly so much as they *themselves*, being godly, view entertainment as un-godly. They’re like woke Christians in that sense, folks who can’t unsee ungodliness wherever and whenever it exists. What they’re up to doesn’t seem all that different from the diversity crowd who view every acting role Hollywood casts with a white person as further evidence of white supremacy.

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          • @stillwater I agree that the Social Justice movement and Evangelicals are very similar in their thought process even if what gets them worked up is different. Its why the Social Justice Calvinist insult exists. There is a difference in that the Social Justice movement does seem more comfortable with light touches while Evangelicals need the heavy hammer as a whole. A lot of Social Justice entertainment product doesn’t quite have the same heavy handiness as Evangelical entertainment product in my experience.

            Take Black Panther for example. It deals with a lot of the same themes that woke people care about but in a light enough way that people not totally into woke ideas can go and enjoy the film. From what I can tell, nearly all woke people love the Black Panther. The little I’ve seen of Evangelical entertainment shows that it isn’t as subtle. You really need to be an Evangelical to like it. There isn’t the Evangelical version of Black Panther.

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    • My actual argument about all of this is that in short, the actual comic business for Marvel is an IP farm at this point and the people pushing for Iron Man / Cpt. America / etc. to be ‘normal’ again are fighting the last battle. Sure, they’ll win in the short term because Disney doesn’t really care what Marvel publishes, as long as it doesn’t lose money, but slowly but surely, the diverse characters will be used in other media while most of the third string whitebread characters either get lost or tweaked for diversity reasons on TV or movies.

      In the long run, comic books are never going to sell in huge numbers again, individual comic issues at $3-$4 bucks a pop are especially never going to sell huge numbers again, and frankly, the books that sell to the middle aged white guys that form the core of the current comic book direct market are far different than those that actually appeal to a wider audience.

      After all, I always like to point out to people, GotG was never a big seller. Even during it’s most critically lauded run that various parts of the current Infinity War plotline has grabbed from, it barely moved 20-30,000 issues a month. OTOH, a movie based on those characters made all the money.

      So, at the end of the day, a Riri Williams starring Disney XD show makes Disney more money in the long run off various ancillary sales than Iron Man selling 60,000 instead of 30,000 for a few months.

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      • I’m not so sure about this. The cartoons based on Marvel comics have stuck very strictly to how these characters are in the popular imagination and the movie versions rather than the more diverse versions in the comics. Iron Man in the Avengers cartoon is Tony Star and not Riri Williams, Peter Parker is a white teenage boy and not a grown white man or teenage boy of color. Its the side characters that get used for diversity purposes. This could theoretically change but it hasn’t happened yet.

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        • Jessie isn’t wrong, though. A Disney XD show with Riri, if done well, could be quite successful. Successful enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to see RDJ hand off the character to Riri on the big screen.

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          • One of the things I think is great about Black Panther is that it wasn’t taking a white character and changing it to a black character, like cultural hand-me-downs. Rather it was a black character, always and forever more.

            I think that is why it is so successful.

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            • “Look, if you want more diverse characters, you just have to create characters that are more popular than yours and have decades of cultural cachet that have no inherent reason to be white other than the time period they were created.

              If you complain about that at all, you’re an SJW ruining society, OK?”

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              • My argument is more this:

                “If you want more diverse characters, you have to buy the books that star the diverse characters. If you don’t buy them, the companies will go back to what sold.”

                I’m not talking about Social Justice Calvinists ruining society.

                I’m talking about Social Justice Calvinists demanding Riri Williams but then not buying her book.

                If you want Riri Williams to be popular, that’s great. Sure. Everybody wants Riri to be popular. But if you want Riri to be more popular than Tony Stark, you have to buy the product. You have to go to the brick and mortar store and get a box and tell the guy behind the counter that you want to have Iron Heart put in your box every month, along with Squirrel Girl, Mockingbird, and Thor. (They probably have a four title minimum to get a box.)

                And then, every couple of weeks, visit that store, get the titles from your box, and maybe pick up something from off the shelf.

                And if you are not willing to do that, please do not be surprised when other people also are not willing to do that.

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                  • Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel are original characters in their own right.

                    This makes them significantly different from Iron Heart.

                    Jane Foster’s Thor? Well, plenty of people have picked up the hammer in the past. Jane had an awesome What If? dedicated to it. If there’s a problem with Jane Foster’s Thor, it’s in some of the writing decisions rather than with the character herself.

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                • Or they can do what they’re actually doing – buying things digitally and slowly taking over editorial positions all while comic book stores slowly die off because people aren’t interested in paying $4 for a 24 page story.

                  In another decade or so, this reactionary measure is going to be paved over and ignored and official Marvel history will focus on thins like Coates writing for Captain America, not when they made Marvel look like it was 1965 again.

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    • The flaw in that is that they love it enough to BUY THE TRADE PAPERBACKS, but not the single issues.

      Marvel’s not adapting. It’s not a good sales tactic because they’re missing out on a market.

      OTOH I think they’ll be better off not replacing the stuff that DOES sell in single issues, and instead giving the other stuff more time to branch out.

      I also noticed they have Coates writing Captain America now. So it kind of depends on which part of the elephant you’re paying attention to.

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    • Not surprising, I’ve known that about libertarianism for ages. It’s the classic gym rat- hulking huge internet presence*, but teeny tiny real life legs.

      *And justifiably so since it’s both intellectually coherent and pretty much the only game in town on the right wing since the neocons and socialcons imploded in clouds of blood and hypocrisy.

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      • I think this is one of those things where living in Colorado skews my perspective. I know more libertarian-ish people in real life than any other flavor. I know back in Montreal I knew more socialist-ish people than any other flavor, so it probably is a regional thing. Kinda wish Bartels would’ve looked at that dimension as well.

        (I suspect that outside of the internet, more people tend to be more -ish than they are diehard anything….)

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        • Eh, the -ish part was taken care of by the polling – (https://twitter.com/jerry_jtaylor/status/973544960904650752) – there’s almost nobody down at that lower right quadrant. OTOH, there are actually decent amounts of people clumped at the lower left (liberal/liberal) and upper right quadrants (conservative/conservative).

          It turns out in reality, most people who say they’re fiscally conservative and socially liberal either are usually not all that socially liberal or all that fiscally conservative.

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          • Just wondering about local clumping, which is why I was wishing Bartels had looked at the *geographical* dimension as well. (I now realize I wasn’t that clear about the “regional thing” being what I wish he’d looked at.)

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          • I don’t believe that there is anyone, anywhere who is actually “fiscally conservative”.

            Because all it really means is “the government shouldn’t spend money on stuff that it shouldn’t spend money on”.

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            • I was, for a long time. Wrote to my Congress critters regularly, complaining bitterly when we were in the boom end of the business cycle that they were busy cutting taxes instead of paying off some of the debt that had been accumulated during the bust. Was giddy at the end of the Clinton years that we were about to do the right thing. It was a fluke from huge capital gains taxes, but still. Then Bush, at the urging of Greenspan, screwed it up.

              Still am down deep, but have gotten more cynical and don’t bother wasting my time yelling at them.

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              • I became a Reagan Republican in large part to the intuitively correct nature of fiscal conservatism.

                Only after 8 years of watching them smirk and blow up the deficit to insane levels did I get the joke.

                Small government means “as small as it needs to be to do what I want, and no more.”

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        • I’m with Jesse here. I think a lot of people like to call themselves libertarians but are basically garden-variety white-male Republicans. I see this enough on the feeds of some former OTers. Lots of Trump sympathy and curiosity from these alleged Libertarians.

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          • I wasn’t “against Jesse” such that sides could form for you to be “with” him though?

            I mostly agree with him, but my actual experiences differ starkly from my abstract beliefs. Just thinking about the local clumping of RL libertarians who do in fact exist in small numbers, or any other political philosophy for that matter (which is why I alluded to basically-socialist 90s Montreal). It’s also not the case that the ones I know who are local to me are not predominantly white, male, or even likely to vote Republican. It’s a lot more mixed than that.

            Colorado is *really different* from the east and west coasts, in all kinds of good and bad ways.

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            • You know we disagree on this. I think despite everything he says, Donald Trump is still largely a garden-variety Republican/conservative. He is the logical endpoint of the Long Con, not someone who came to blow up the modern Republican Party.

              And I base it on the fact that they basically all do sound like cranky middle-age Rush Limbaugh listeners. They dislike all the younger generations telling them off and think white middle-aged dudes are natural kings of the earth. This is completely wrong of course.

              I don’t get your strange affinity for this crowd.

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              • He is the logical endpoint of the Long Con, not someone who came to blow up the modern Republican Party.

                Right. I think this is overly simplistic and because of that it’s descriptively inaccurate. You’re looking passed what’s right in front of your nose – that Trump blew up the GOP – to see something you want to see – that he’s part of a secret cabal’s long con.

                Add: My initial comment was more focused on what you think a “garden-variety Republican voter” is tho, cuz I don’t think I’ve ever met one of those. Well, maybe my father in law, he spends a lot of time in the garden….

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                • It’s worth noting that even though Saul is agreeing with Jesse who is citing Jerry Taylor, Jerry Taylor himself doesn’t exactly agree with Saul.

                  The precise nature of the disagreement depends on whether we are defining Republicans and conservatives by looking at its leaders (who have been marginalized and displaced) or its voters (who are, according to Taylor, messaging a pivot). This all coincides with the belief that the Republican voters aren’t changing… but the party is.

                  (And, it should be added, not to one that is electorally doomed. Again, per Taylor.)

                  I know this isn’t what Saul is going for, but Trump as the torch-bearer for longform conservatism is actually something of a comforting thought. It means it’s about the man himself, and he won’t be around forever, and after which the GOP hasn’t fundamentally been altered. Hugh Hewitt has been making the same argument as Saul (albeit from a different angle). I mostly hope it’s true, though I fear it isn’t.

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                  • The precise nature of the disagreement depends on whether we are defining Republicans and conservatives by looking at its leaders (who have been marginalized and displaced) or its voters (who are, according to Taylor, messaging a pivot). This all coincides with the belief that the Republican voters aren’t changing… but the party is.

                    Yes, this, and especially so with regards to understanding Trump. We learned what conservative voters, as a block, want during the primary. We learned what conservatives, as a block, want during the general. Ie., they’ll vote R over D, and they’ll vote Trump over Jeb!/Cruz/Kasich/Rubio/Fiorina/etc. The voters didn’t change, their options changed and the party is changing because of that.

                    Re: the garden variety Republican voter thing: Trump tapped into a faction of voters within the conservative base and gave them a voice (as he likes to say) but those folks aren’t garden variety GOP voters, they’re garden variety Trump voters. According to an NPR poll they comprise – at best – 15% of the population (41% approve Trump: 15% strong, 26% weak) which is something like 35-40ish% (???) of the now shrinking GOP base.

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        • That seems about right. In Cherryplatte (about 90 minutes north of you), whenever the subject of red-light cameras (that take pictures of cars that run red lights and mail in tickets) came up, I could count on a vocal contingent of people raising 6th amendment objections, to the effect that they had the right to confront their accuser.

          In Big City, there’s just as much (maybe more) controversy about red light cameras, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone here raise the constitutional issue.

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          • I could count on a vocal contingent of people raising 6th amendment objections, to the effect that they had the right to confront their accuser.

            The ground rules here are — or were, last time I checked, which was some years back — you get an envelope with the speeding ticket and the pictures (the license plate and the driver). Plead guilty and the fine is $40, mail in the check. No moving violation points against your license. Plead not guilty and go to court, the minimum fine is somewhere north of $120 if you lose. People do get off, usually by virtue of “See? Clearly my sister when she had borrowed my car.” Challenge them on the basis that it must be inaccurate and the techs are there to introduce their detailed records of where/when the gear was set up, the calibration history, etc, etc.

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            • I never actually encountered these types of tickets before. Actually, I’ve never had a ticket (thanks mostly to not having driven much, not to being a good driver).

              My point is more that when I lived there, I knew I would hear that complaint in the media, etc. Here in Big City, I don’t think I’ve heard it once. Not that the complaint would ever hold up in court.

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        • For sure I’d be interested in seeing a regional distribution of RL libertarians myself. My own limited real life experience with them is that they’re overwhelmingly guys, usually live in suburbs and usually are healthy. I’ve never met a reliably physically ill libertarian.

          That said I do agree emphatically that everyone is a lot more “-ish” in meatspace. The internet tends to distill and peoples inclinations into ideologies. Not mine of course, I’m a squish in both.

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    • Looking at the working paper, I’m not sure how Taylor reaches his conclusion regarding libertarians. The two questions the paper examines, as well as the survey questions, don’t strike me as doing a good job identifying libertarians. I’d have to see the actual survey questions to be sure, but my guess is that every triangle in the lower right quadrant is a libertarian to some degree.

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  5. Speaking of “entertainment”, how about the appointment of Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn.

    In many ways, this is perfect for Trump and our never ending reality TV series. Also, how do you have a 10K or 100K per a week or month (reports vary) cocaine habit without dying?

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