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Linky Friday #131: Japan & Beyond

Crime:

smartphone photo

Image by Ari Helminen

[Cr1] This I did not know: Trained dogs can sniff out thumb drives.

[Cr2] Well, this is one way to impose a data retention policy: Keep the data on a Windows XP computer with an 80GB HD.

[Cr3] A story that encapsulates so much… a seventeen year old in North Carolina is being charged as an adult for having nude pictures of a minor on his phone. The minor being himself.

[Cr4] This seems like an incredible plot from a TV show that would be abandoned way before two seasons/years due to audience incredulity. Definitely going to use the name Kye Fortune somewhere, though.

[Cr5] As shocking as it may seem, the question of whether heated rhetoric shares the blame for violence might depend on partisan sympathies.

[Cr6] I’d known, vaguely, that Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D-PA) was in trouble. I had no idea that the scandal was so weird, though.

[Cr7] The Yakuza has an age problem.

Education:

ranma photo

Image by AHLN

[E1] Lanae Erickson Hatalsky argues that No Child Left Behind was a success and shouldn’t be rolled back.

[E2] Charter schools have been declared unconstitutional in Washington state.

[E3] From Vikram Bath: Japan is ordering universities to close social science and humanities departments in favor of concentrating on things that better serve society’s needs.

[E4] Also, Japan is looking to export its school system to developing countries. I want Japanese system charters!

Housing:

[H1] Ghost cities suburbs of Tokyo. In twenty years, one quarter of Japanese houses could be empty.

[H2] Ross Elliot argues that better suburbs make for better cities.

[H3] Katerina Cizek argues that Canada needs to recognize that it is a nation of highrises.

[H4] Are investors getting in the way of traditional home-buyers?

[H5] How costs, regulations, the economy, and more are killing the starter home.

[H6] Not only is the Great Inversion not really happening in the US, but Europe is suburbanizing.

Transportation:

japanese road photo

Image by diloz

[T1] I thought the incline/decline in Western Wyoming was rough, but this puts that to shame.

[T2] I don’t really actually find this proposed airline seat configuration to be all that disturbing. Maybe because I won’t have to sit with strangers, though.

[T3] Uber, but for Big Yella.

[T4] The automobile and the invention of dating.

Smartphones:

[S1] I missed out on what was probably my last chance to own an Amazon Fire Phone. Not that I really wanted one, but for $10-30? Yeah, I would have done that. Anyway, people gettin’ laid off.

[S2] Rivals Apple and Samsung are teaming up to replace SIM cards.

[S3] I find it hard to disagree with this: The Samsung whistle really is horrible and it’s the first thing I change when personalizing a Samsung device.

[S4] Evidently, your cell phone battery can be used to track you.

[S5] Is the physical keyboard making a comeback?

Culture:

[Cu1] That time when the CFL had its opportunity to take center stage in the US… and sucked. (For those of you familiar with the history, it’s the NFL strike and not the CFL US expansion.) Canadian-rules football also got a mention in this Hit Coffee post.

[Cu2] Jonathan Jones and Sam Jordison debate Terry Pratchett and Discworld. It’s not an especially fair debate since only one of them has actually read the books in question.

[Cu3] I will absolutely watch Dante’s Divine Comedy film(s), but I will absolutely go into it with low expectations.

[Cu4] Freddie Freddie.

[Cu5] Good news! Japan may have passed peak suicide.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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198 thoughts on “Linky Friday #131: Japan & Beyond

  1. S5: What’s that about the new way Android handles SD cards?

    Personally, I consider physical keyboards on a phone an anti-feature. IMO Swype is as good or better, without the hassle of sliding out the keyboard or the added thickness. I had a physical keyboard on my last phone and just stopped using it when I got Swype.

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  2. Cu3: Cast for the new movie: “Commedia: This Time It’s Personal”:

    Dante Alighieri: Joaquin Phoenix
    Beatrice: Maggie Gyllenhaal
    Charon: Kevin Bacon
    Virgil: Samuel L. Jackson
    Sophia:* Sigourney Weaver
    Demon who says Papa Satan, Papa Satan, aleppi: Gilbert Godfrey
    Satan: Mike Chiklis

    *Virgil’s love interest, Warner Bros.’s improvement on the original work.

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  3. Cr4: Maybe it would work better as a movie

    E2: I think the constitutional point here seems pretty fair. Charter schools are beyond the realm of public input.

    E3: This is rather disappointing and I concur that it is anti-intellectual. Though if they were to be truly practical it would also be anti-science because a lot of science and math is well beyond the realm of the practical. What does it mean to be practical anyway? I’ve mentioned this in the U.S. context but when politicians talk about STEM, they seem to mean TE. More cynically they can mean, design apps that can get IPOs!!!

    H5: Interesting. I think the big factors here are the economy/lingering effects of the Great Recession, what I’ve noticed about cities is that they tend to be for the really rich and interestingly the working poor or really poor. My friends who stay urban tend to be very well to do or just unable to afford anything but renting in the outer parts of cities. Commuting is also an issue, the people I know moving to the suburbs tend to be moving farther out like Putnam County/Hudson Valley over Nassau County or Westchester. I’d rather wait until later and get an inner-ring suburb than move to a far flung exurb with a long commute and no walkability. Though I might be weird in that I dislike new homes. I’d consider buying a condo in a new building but for a house, I like history, not some anti-aesthetic monstrosity bashed together by a developer with no sense of design.

    H6: I think it is important to note that a lot of UK and European “suburbs” are still very urban by American standards and can feature things that urban advocates desire like proximity to public transport and walkability to parks, shops, entertainment, etc.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampstead

    I believe Hampstead would be considered a suburb by UK/European standards. The closest U.S. examples I can think of is a place like Somerville in Mass or some Chicago suburbs that are officially independent cities but connected to Boston and Chicago’s subway lines. Last time I was in Mass, my B and B was officially in Cambridge but about a minute walk from Somerville.

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    • The Washington ruling is a tacit admission of what conservatives and libertarians have said about government schools for quite some time…. that they do not exist for the families (whose parents wanted to send their kids to these schools), or for the general public (who expressly approved this law) but for the government itself as a distinct entity, regardless of the desires of parents and the public.

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      • I don’t think so. 90 percent of American kids attend public (or as you call it government school). There is no reason why a good chunk of government money should go to private entities (non-profit or not) who can self-select and claim success. Charter schools are a symptom of the conservative zeal against any public institution.

        Why should I be respectful of the idea of ending birthright citizenship just because around half the nation does so? You admit they are wrong. Conservatives and libertarians like to complain about liberals not caring about the Constitution when it comes to welfare state policies but now that the shoe is on the other foot it is all “Hey no, the voters want this….”

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          • Wasn’t the ruling based on the fact that charter school’s weren’t allowed public funds, because they weren’t overseen by local officials? (They didn’t have a local school board).

            Wouldn’t this be a victory for LOCAL government — insofar as public education funds have to be spent on schools overseen by the local school boards (which is as small and local as government really gets) rather than by charters run under state oversight only?

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          • The article that you linked to noted that most charter school students come from private schools rather than public schools. It would seem that the parents who really want charter schools are those that want to have a private school education for their kids without having to pay for it.

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            • They misspoke. They didn’t mean “most” but rather “disproprotionately.” From their link:

              Overall, about 8 percent of charter elementary students and 11 percent of middle and high school students are drawn from private schools. In highly urban districts, private schools contribute 32, 23, and 15 percent of charter elementary, middle, and high school enrollments, respectively.

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        • Money is fungible, so money that goes into a soup pot and out of the soup pot again cannot be said to be absolutely of the restricted sort. They could have declared that no restricted funding be used and general funding could be used. Of course, with money being fungible, that wouldn’t have had much of any effect after just a little accounting. (More of the restricted funds go to the government schools, more of the unrestricted funds go to the charters.) That wasn’t the direction that the majority went, though.

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      • it’s worth noting:

        There’s nothing about charter-style schools that make them incompatible with control by local school boards. Technically such schools are called magnet schools rather than charter schools, but in terms of how they serve students and parents, and in terms of the potential they have to improve student outcomes by avoiding traditional practices, they’re basically the same.

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        • The main difference between magnet schools and charter schools is whether or not they are run by the local school system (or another government entity*). Ideally, I think there is a place for both. Magnet schools in particular having maximum flexibility in student selection that I would be less inclined to grant charter schools, and charter schools having a greater degree of administrative (and/or regulatory) flexibility.

          * – My wife went to a magnet school that drew from across the state. My middle school had a magnet program, but was not a magnet school. It’s common practice in the South – and maybe elsewhere – to put magnet programs in otherwise undesirable schools (which, by my district’s standards, my middle school was).

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    • “[W]hat I’ve noticed about cities is that they tend to be for the really rich and interestingly the working poor or really poor.”

      I think that’s because the really rich can afford to buy in, and the poor were there before it got expensive and now can’t afford to leave.

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  4. Cr1: This buried the lede: Jared was at least smart enough to keep his kiddie porn on a thumb drive, which in turn was kept in some discreet location. This turned out not to be good enough, but this still makes him smarter than a surprising number of Ashley Madison subscribers.

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    • AM subscribers were only engaging in dumb and unseemly behavior at worst, not highly-illegal activities. It makes sense they wouldn’t have gone the extra mile.

      Also, I’m not saying Fogle was framed; but one thing that has occurred to me is how much easier it would be to plant a tiny thumb drive than nearly any other incriminating piece of evidence (a gun, or enough drugs to make a serious drug charge stick) on someone’s person or property. I could probably slip a thumb drive into someone’s pocket unnoticed.

      As far as maximum bang for your frame-job buck, a thumb drive seems like the way to go.

      Also also, I assume the thumb-drive-sniffing dogs have been trained to alert on some chemical or element used in the electronics-manufacturing process, and people are probably hiding their incriminating thumb drives in non-electronic locations.

      The solution would probably be for them to hide the thumb drives in other electronic (but not thought of as “computer/storage”) devices (=TV/turntable/stereo).

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  5. The classic 14th-century tale The Divine Comedy follows Dante as he descends through the nine circles of hell to rescue the woman he loves.

    Oh dear.

    I’m also more than a little concerned that the blastr blurb seems to imply that this plot is the actual plot of that classic tale (though possibly it is just a poorly written short blurb, so we needn’t read more into it). (But still).

    [Dear Peter Jackson, I’m sorry for all the terrible things I’ve said about you in the past…]

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        • I remember spending a good chunk of my Renaissance Europe classing in college discussing that Dante was an exile from Florence because he was on the wrong side of a fractional war and discussing how a lot of the people mentioned in the Inferno were is political and ideological opponents.

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          • Inferno is a bit of a slog because of this. You have the choice either to read an edition with extensive footnotes and spend as much time on those as on the main text, or you can skim lightly through large sections of meaningless names. It is a testament to how good it is that people read it today despite all the outdated political posturing.

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          • Oh, right… I was wondering if you meant the love story was a political statement.

            I agree that dropping or de-emphasizing the Guelph/Ghibbelline factional warfare would necessary. I doubt very much that nuance will be a thing here… so I doubt much would be lost. I only hope they don’t do further violence by attempting to rebuild the factions as modern Red/Blue team proxies.

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        • I wouldn’t say “politics” as much as “personal vendetta”.

          A lot of Dante’s personal enemies ended up in Hell.

          Not just prominent figures of the day who did things that resulted in whispers among those prone to whisper, but people he just didn’t like. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were references we missed where the guy who shorted him some of the meet in his gyro ended up in a special part of hell reserved for street vendors who promise a full belly… BUT LEAVE YOU HUNGRY!!!

          Once you realize that Inferno is self-insertion revenge fanfic, you begin to wonder “should I publish mine? Or would that be creepy?”

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              • And another thing, in thinking about this some more, I’m getting irritated.

                I can understand kicking L Ron in the nuts.
                Why in the hell would you kick Vonnegut in the nuts? OF ALL PEOPLE TO KICK IN THE NUTS, WHY VONNEGUT.

                That scene, now that I properly understand it, gives me better insight into Dante’s original. For which, I suppose, I ought to be more grateful than irritated. If only I were a better person.

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                      • You should, you absolutely should, read Inferno.

                        Purgatorio doesn’t get quite enough credit, if you ask me. While it’s certainly not a lurid as Inferno, the punishments are somewhat more obviously rehabilitative. The punishment for envy, for example, is that the envious have their eyes sewn shut with iron thread.

                        Now that I see that written down, yeah, I guess that that is pretty lurid.

                        But, anyway, to continue as if I hadn’t immediately contradicted myself, the punishments are less “torture porn” and more easily seen as “look, we’re doing this in order to help you overcome yourself on your way to being ready to go to The Wedding”.

                        Paradiso was kind of dull.

                        It’s entertaining to come up with ironic punishments.

                        “Ironic rewards” as a device never really took off.

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                • Why in the hell would you kick Vonnegut in the nuts? OF ALL PEOPLE TO KICK IN THE NUTS, WHY VONNEGUT.

                  First, I’ll admit that I’ve read only Slaughterhouse Five of Vonnegut’s work.

                  Second, I’ll admit there is some stuff I don’t get, and Slaughterhouse Five is probably one of them.

                  That said, I really didn’t like it. Perhaps it’s because read it for the first time at the height of the Tom Brokaw “Greatest Generation” crap and I just didn’t feel sorry for the protagonist. (Not that I was necessarily supposed to. See my second omission.)

                  I also didn’t get the “unstuck in time” thing. Why was it during the Battle of the Bulge and not, say, during the destruction of Dresden? That would’ve made more sense. Also, if he was “unstuck in time” at one moment, wouldn’t that moment cease to exist and he’d be unstuck for all eternity?

                  I guess my biggest complaint is that the novel isn’t what I wanted it to be. As one of my former English professors used to say (I paraphrase, and others have probably said it, too), “if that’s what you think, write your own novel.”

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                • Jaybird:
                  I can understand kicking L Ron in the nuts.
                  Why in the hell would you kick Vonnegut in the nuts? OF ALL PEOPLE TO KICK IN THE NUTS, WHY VONNEGUT.

                  IIRC, they had the same problem with Vonnegut that a lot of people, including myself, had with Margaret Atwood after _The Handmaid’s Tale_. Basically, they’d written something that is unambiguously SF but they deny that fact because they denigrate the genre and hadn’t set out to write something they considered trashy (i.e. they feel that classifying their work as SF is dissing them as an author). There are a number of authors who consider themselves “mainstream” who throw in a speculative bit but don’t realize that Octavia Butler, or Ursula LeGuin, or Lois McMaster Bujold got there first – even in a “soft” science.

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                  • And you could easily read Kilgore Trout, the guy with great ideas who can’t write a believable character or a decent sentence to save his life, and gets published only because a porno house needs to fill its quota every month, as a kick in the nuts at all of SF. As well as immensely disrespectful to Theodore Sturgeon, obviously the origin of the name, and a writer capable of beautiful prose whose main subject was love in all of its forms.

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          • I get into debates about this all the time but I don’t think that the idea of fan-fiction makes sense without the idea of copyright and authorship. The idea of fan fiction is that you are putting your own take on characters, ideas, and settings that are seen as belonging to other people. This line of thought made no sense before we began to associate particular people with particular works of literature and the invention of the copyright created the idea of ownership of works.

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            • This. When we talk about ‘fanfic’ we are talking about a very specific cultural phenomenon that is tied to the time and place where it arose. Yes, there are earlier works that have some of the features of fanfic. No, that doesn’t mean that they also are fanfic. The term is meaningless in earlier cultural contexts.

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            • Hey, some very, very, VERY few writers managed to get paid for fanfic. And the cleverest of them all got paid for cross-over fanfic. I’m thinking, in specific, of an old Star Trek novel called ‘Ishmael’.

              Barbara Hambly wrote a multi-crossover Star Trek fanfic and got paid for it. Well, mostly a crossover with Here Comes the Brides but she managed to work in Maverick and Have Gun Will Travel at the very least.

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              • Heh. I remember an issue of Dragon magazine with a massive multi-page review called “Star Drek” slamming two recent releases:

                _Ishmael_, where the reviewer completely missed not only the in-jokes but the fact that it was a crossover in the first place.
                _My Enemy, My Ally_, complaining that Diane Duane, as tvtropes would later call it, Changed The Romulans Now They Suck

                Both books are still often regarded as among the high points of that era of novelizations…

                Oh, the thing that makes the crossover particularly worthwhile – the actor who played Aaron Stemple in “Brides” was Mark Lenard, Spock’s father in “Star Trek”…

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                • Dragon magazine. Oh dear god, I had a sub a long time ago. I sold several years worth of mags (in sequential order) to some guy on craigslist for a wad a cash.

                  If you’ve got any, now’s the time to sell if they are in good condition.

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                • Diane Duane basically invented ALL the backstory complexity of the Romulans. Her Rihanasu stuff is, well, some of the best in Star Trek.

                  The Romulans were just weird Vulcans with a cloaking device before here. What was the reviewer smoking?

                  Did he go on to bash Ford’s The Final Reflection as an encore of cluelessness?

                  Oh my god. It was Charles Beale, wasn’t it? That’s where the Sad Puppies started. That’s when sci-fi died. Right there. With My Enemy, My Ally.

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                  • On further reflection (not yet Final Reflection, though, since that’s – as Morat20 mentioned – the John M. Ford novel that rebooted Klingons), I’m not certain about any of the original details except the title of the article, that it was in a magazine, and _Ishmael_ was one of the books reviewed. Since this was the pre-internet era, there’s not a lot of searchable content from that period, and google hasn’t turned up anything interesting.

                    It’s quite possible that those weren’t the two books – they were published 10 months apart, after all. Maybe the real other review was of the Meiji-riffic _Shadow Lord_ or the slash-o-riffic _Killing Time_, both of which were closer to _Ishmael_ in publication order.

                    In any case, the magazine would have been probably from the Summer or Fall of ’85, when Theo Beale was still in high school. Probably not likely that he lucked into a reviewing gig in a prozine, but stranger things have happened. And his wikipedia page doesn’t mention anything before ’92, and you’d think it would at least say something.

                    So I think it’s safe to say that while you created one of my favorite characters in SF (Naraht, of course) – you don’t have any responsibility for creating one of my least favorite.

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                  • It was a joke. :) As in “Saying My Enemy, My Ally ruined the Romulans is the level of clueless stupid I’d expect from VD”.

                    I recently watched someone try to explain how Fuzzy Nation was message fic when Little Fuzzy wasn’t. Specifically, the message that ‘corporations are evil’.

                    Apparently he has READ Little Fuzzy and somehow the Corporation attempting to commit genocide to get all the planet’s wealth was categorically different than the part in Fuzzy Nation where the Corporation attempted to commit genocide to get all the wealth.

                    How? Dunno. There’s lots of hand waving.

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              • There come a point when we should ask ourselves if a group of TV writers writing a cookie-cutter episode of Next Generation might be more ‘fanficcy’ than Peter David writing a dozen New Frontier books with new characters and races.

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              • I think he is saying that it makes no sense to call Dante’s Inferno fanfic because he is not putting himself into any story despite using reL figures like Virgil. This is not Dante’s Illiad where he makes himself a Greek fighting at Troy.

                There is a certain adamant fan who insists that everything is a trope and everything is really genre. Mainly to fight the literary establishment

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              • , using somebody else’s work in a fanfic does violate copyright unless you can convince a court that the parody exception applies to your case. That wasn’t my point though. My point was that without the idea of connecting a particular person to a particular work and the ownership of copyright, the concept of the fanfic makes no sense.

                Some fans trying to be clever like to point out that Maid Marian was not part of the original Robin Hood stories but from a separate series of tales until somebody decided to do crossover. Their argument is that fanfic is as old as literature. The problem with this argument is that Robin Hood or Maid Marian aren’t really connected to any particular author but both come from a long series of folktales. The idea of fanfic is that your using the works and creations of another person to tell your own story. You might change a little or a lot, add new characters or not but there has to be some underlying connection to a work created by somebody else. Before people began to link particular works of fiction with particular people and see the creators as somewhat owning them, the copyright mechanism, it would make no sense of calling something a fanfic.

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                • Thanks Lee and Saul for your explanations.

                  Truth is, I haven’t really given the issue much thought and had never before this thread even heard that Dante was fanfic. But is it possible to see fanfic as something in the tradition of those tales and traditions that build on each other? If we see fanfic this way, we don’t have to deny that modern copyright law makes fanfic what we think of as fanfic. But maybe not all fanfic can be simply derided as derivative and subpar.

                  I’m not even sure if that’s what’s lurking in the debate over fanfic. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the side one’s on in the debate tracks closely with one’s estimation of what passes for fanfic vs. what, for lack of better terms, is considered “traditional” or “canonical” literature.

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                • using somebody else’s work in a fanfic does violate copyright unless you can convince a court that the parody exception applies to your case.

                  No. Fanfic is fair use.

                  I point to ‘The Wind Done Gone’ case, which was about the normal level of transformation as most fanfic…and that prong was *so* strong that it managed to overpower the fact that was a *commercial* work.

                  If *that* is covered under fair use, simply because it looked at an existing work from another angle…well, fanfic *not only* tends to do that, but fanfic, unlike that book, is non-commercial, generally uses less of the work, *and* does not harm the market of the work in any way.

                  So, as far as anyone can tell, fanfic is covered under fair use.

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    • Even if you de-emphasize the politics and religion of Dante’s Divine Comedy, you still have to deal with the fact that Dante, from what I remember, is more or less a passive observer on a walk through hell, purgatory, and heaven with people pointing out that certain people are in this place because of this or that. He doesn’t really do much himself.

      If your going to turn early Renaissance or late Medieval literature into a movie, they should have picked the Canterbury Tales. Dante’s Divine Comedy allows for more special effects magic but the bawdy tales of Chaucer can probably be adapted with less butchering.

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  6. When I was in Sweden in the summer of 2011, I went to a museum and there was a video installation whose title came from the first lines of Dante’s Inferno. The video was a loop of a woman laying spread eagle in the woods and masturbating.

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  7. [H5] This is a bad, bad article. They should have run it by a high-schooler who took an economic elective first. A good bit of the reasons listed would more easily explain why there are *more* starter homes than their once were. For example, increased material costs would lead me to think that smaller homes might be constructed, not bigger ones.

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  8. https://youtu.be/xq95tN57bvQ

    Unrelated to any of the links, aside from being Japanese, but I need a second opinion on this. Does anyone else, on listening to this, think, “Hey! This band is like a Japanese version of ______________?” I can’t tell whether the styles are similar, or I’m just being led astray by the high-pitched voice.

    The song is “Sayonara” by “Off Course,” if anyone’s interested.

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  9. T2: The author probably agrees with you. It’s just that articles whining about something are more sharable than articles doing the opposite.

    I’m guessing this won’t be adopted for some other reason though. The bottom “cushion” appears to just be a flip-down board, which would be hard on some butts.

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    • This. The seats look excruciating for anything over about an hour, but this isn’t directly because of the rear-facing middle seat. I am a broad-shouldered guy. The shoulders of the failure point for me for narrow seats. This configuration would make a lot of sense.

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    • Ecch, it increases the likelihood that I’d have to make eye contact with a stranger, resulting in all sorts of potential unpleasantness like being proselytized to or having to endure an Amway pitch or something like that.

      I’m still waiting for standing-room-only with safety harnesses hanging from the ceiling like so many nooses. Because you can pack double the number of passengers per square foot into standing room as you can to seats. And therefore the price per noose will be two-thirds the price of a seat and people will pay it because they insist on paying the absolute minimum price available, as demonstrated by their propensity to book five-leg flights from Houston to Jacksonville, then Atlanta, then Phoenix, then Oklahoma City, and then to end up in their destination (Dallas) with more layover time than would have been spent driving, so as to save seven dollars on the pre-tax base airfare.

      So a backwards-facing middle seat is, to me, only a mile-marker along the road to that eventual hell.

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      • It might not work out that way. If proximity were all that mattered, New York would be America’s most friendly city. When you stick Americans uncomfortably close to one another, they seem to cling more tightly to their independence, not less. I’m guessing the average person in this seat configuration would never make mutual eye contact with whoever they are sitting across from, and if they did, it would be for a fractional second.

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  10. E3 – Closing humanities and social sciences faculties runs counter to the idea of the university as a community of scholars (and educators). Also, if cutbacks had to be made, a campus-by-campus approach is more appropriate, where institutions can judge what they needed to cutback on. And there are other approaches that could be tried for institution the Times reports are running at less than 50% capacity – recruiting more international students for instance. A wealthy nation like Japan should be more competitive with the US, UK, and Australia in the whole global higher ed, international students competition.

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    • One problem with recruiting international students is that few Japanese people speak English or any other foreign language at a university level, and even fewer foreigners speak Japanese at that level. Foreigners who study in Japan mostly study Japanese, at which point the university is a glorified language school.

      US, UK, Australia, and Canadian universities are competitive internationally largely because they teach in English, which is the closest thing the world has to an international language.

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  11. Cu4 (the second): If you see “progressivism” as a religion, what we’ve seen is a number of writers having converted.

    The result of this conversion is something approaching a monoculture among the cultural critics that is both reflective of the culture at large as well as doing a bang-up job of getting more of itself out there.

    Meet the new god. Same as the old god.

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  12. Cr3: The entire laws regarding sex crimes needs to be rewritten to encompass the fact that teenage kids sometimes do things like this. What I really want to know is whether this type of reporting ever gets prosecutors and judges to use common sense and drop the charges. As far as I can tell, the answer is no. There was also the story of the lesbian teens in Florida where the homophobic parents of the younger teen turned the police and prosecutors on the older teen once she turned eighteen from a few years ago.

    I’m wondering if something like sexting existed during the age of the polaroid camera and if it did, why didn’t create a moral panic.

    Cr4: I agree with Saul, this seems more like a movie length story than a TV length story. You can get maybe two hours out of this plot. Scientists should study the link between common sense, love, and lust. Some people just can’t think with common sense, caution, and ethics when it comes to love and lust and others can.

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    • What I really want to know is whether this type of reporting ever gets prosecutors and judges to use common sense and drop the charges.

      My guess is that it happens all the time because most people have common sense and aren’t completely evil. What we’re seeing is the handful of complete monsters who shouldn’t be prosecutors being given the, “Are you too evil to have this job?” test and failing it. If we were smart enough to act on this information by rounding those prosecutors up and marooning them on an iceberg somewhere, we could actually turn this into a net win for society.

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        • That’s what amazes me. The theory is that we should punish people to prevent them from doing something that may hurt them if they’re not careful. But this is like worrying that you kid will hurt himself by playing with matches and then shooting him in the head as a punishment when you catch him doing it. “This is for your own good.”

          If the consequences of the punishment are worse than the problem it was supposed to prevent, what’s the point? I’d much rather have naked pictures of myself all over the Internet than end up with a child pornography conviction on my record. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d rather lose an arm than end up with a child pornography conviction on my record.

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          • I can’t tell whether this is cargo-cult thinking (“child pornography is bad because it can’t be produced without child abuse” becomes “child pornography is bad”), or whether the “harms children” argument is for many people mostly a cover for more puritanical objections (“child pornography is bad because eww!”).

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            • What’s worrisome about the whole world of “why and how much we disapprove of child pornography” is how much everybody typically feels obligated to one up each other on how much they disapprove. It’s not enough to note that the person did something illegal and wrong and and that he probably needs both punishment and psychological help. We must all loudly announce how much we hate him and how we can conceive of and approve of punishments way harsher than anybody else. You definitely don’t want to be the person who is softest on pedophiles. Or even in the bottom 50%. It’s the perfect recipe for creating irrational lynch mobs, and you end up with exactly the types of crazy laws and perverse legal outcomes that we’re seeing right now.

              It reminds me a little bit of how loudly certain people have to share with us that they hate homosexuality and are totally in favor of beating up the gay guy because it’s totally gross. The public grandstanding is really similar, but the implications of that comparison are a little bit disturbing to me.

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              • what we are really dealing with is the problem of technology outpacing the law. When the child porn statues were written, smart phones did not exist and teenagers couldn’t engage in sexting or even talking nude photographs of themselves that easily. Smart phones makes sexting possible and some clever but vicious agents of the law are using this against teens by applying the letter rather than the spirit of the law.

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                • I’m not sure that’s the problem here. The issue seems to be that prosecutors are trying to have it both ways – the accused are both incapable of giving consent to their image being taken and yet competent enough to have mens rea. This is the sort of edge case that prosecutor discretion was meant for.

                  The issue here seems to be prosecutors that see their job as making criminal as much of human activity as possible, rather than actually using laws for their intended function.

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                  • I’m not sure that prosecutorial discretion really exists anymore. Maybe we don’t read about it but prosecutors seem to be going gung-ho on all sorts of cases in an attempt to convict the entire American population. This is despite or maybe because of the talk of criminal justice reform and mass incarceration.

                    My theory is that a lot of the lawyers who we want to be prosecutors tend to quit the line of work fast because they do not like the inquisitorial culture of the DA’s office. This leaves us with some really zealous prosecutors who come up with all sorts of nonsensical theories to get convictions. The fact that the public awards convictions does not help.

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  13. The first Freddie piece in Cu4 is really good, particularly in its discussion of trigger warnings and the (long) tradition of Christian censorship.

    The second piece is on shakier ground, particularly given how conservative so much of sports radio and TV is.

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  14. E4 – “The conference, tentatively named the “Public-private cooperation platform to export Japanese-style education,”…”

    Very catchy name! I would blame the translator, but I know from experience that this silly name was probably insisted on by the oldest Japanese man working on this project. The article also did not mention a mascot. There must be one, right?

    The Japanese school system is great at the elementary level, but it all collapses around seventh grade. The children are miserable, and the ones that aren’t going to be mathematicians spend their adolescent years performing poorly on standardized tests. Teachers in Japan are highly respected and highly paid professionals. All of them, of course, did very well in school. They’re very good at teaching the children who are like them. The ones who aren’t get lost. And of course, everyone learning the exact same thing is inconsistent with almost everything we know about economics and how societies work.

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  15. LeeEsq:
    I’m wondering if something like sexting existed during the age of the polaroid camera and if it did, why didn’t create a moral panic.

    Wasn’t it a selling point – in some circles – of the Polaroid Land camera that you didn’t have to send your film in to a third party to be developed, so it was safer to film the sexah with it?

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    • Probably, people can be dirty minded at times. The polaroid was on the market when the Sexual Revolution happened. Some teens had to have used it to take dirty pictures of themselves. Considering that the 1980s was an age of moral panics, I’m really surprised there wasn’t one over the polaroid.

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      • That was nothing compared to the “seinting” panic of the 1380s, when it was all the rage for teenage children of noblemen to hire painters to paint nudes of them and then have them killed to ensure secrecy.

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  16. Cr5: What’s interesting is how much time is spent debating whether or not the movement is at fault for an imaginary trend.

    It’s like being accused that you’re to blame for all of the werewolf attacks and responding, “Hey! The werewolf attacks aren’t my fault!” instead of just pointing out that werewolves don’t exist.

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  17. I happened to stumble across this article that came out merely days ago:

    Tipper Gore Reflects on PMRC 30 Years Later

    It makes me wonder what the current consensus is on the PMRC today, in 2015.

    Are “Parental Advisory” stickers common sense and the reasons that people opposed them in 1985 have proven to be unfounded?

    Did the PMRC have a point that we should have listened to instead of shouting down?

    While we should have guessed that Frank Zappa was going to be that eloquent, should we have been surprised by Dee Snider being able to string words together? Alternately, were the artists’ arguments obviously self-serving now that we’re able to look back with 30 years of hindsight?

    Holy cow, did John Denver really get up there and help turn the tide of public opinion? How in the heck do you fight against John Denver? Seriously, when John Denver got up there, the PMRC should have known that they had front row seats for the trainwreck they were about to be in.

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    • The most surprising thing about the PMRC is that the baby boomers, the generation on the front lines of rock music, the sexual revolution, experimental drug use, and the counter-culture turned out to be some really conservative parents.

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      • Well, there’s are also the truth of the matter – a lot of people weren’t involved in the counterculture. When a movie of the late 00’s is made, every character will probably look like a Brooklyn hipster, despite the fact there are millions of young adults doing nothing like it.

        The people who formed the PMRC were the same people who made Paul Anka and The Carpenters successful in the 70’s.

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      • It shouldn’t be surprising that some Boomers turned somewhat against drugs and wild sex. While most of us here are anti drug war it shouldn’t be a surprise to state that doing lots of new wild drugs can really destroy some lives. So can the wild free sex sometimes end being a really bad choice. People got burned by some of the things they believed in so they either moderated or went to the other side of the spectrum. That doesn’t mean they are right or didn’t just grow up into the fuddy duddy parents they once rebelled against to some degree. But some also learned some hard lessons about stuff they didn’t want to see repeated.

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    • Random thoughts about the PMRC now (man, that was a LONG time ago):

      1.) You can’t put a sticker on a P2P’d MP3.

      2.) Correlation is not causation, but it seems to me that the stickers actually assisted the dissemination of even-more-objectionable material. Not only on the demand side (“This one has a sticker! It must be AWESOME!”) but on the supply side – having already warned people there was objectionable material inside the package, why not go all the way with the material?

      3.) Maybe record stickers were just the ’80s version of “trigger warnings”. In that vein, were they chilling to speech and free consumer choice, or were they additional product data which helps enable informed consumer choice?

      4.) We all agree the PMRC was ridiculous, yet all they were asking for was basically an MPAA for the music industry, and the MPAA is still going strong. Were the PMRC just making their voices heard in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were music audiences primarily comprised of younger people (and people with different mindsets) that would never accept any yoke?

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      • 1. Sounds like a challenge for the good people of Silicon Valley.

        2. This makes a lot of sense. During my teens, the explicit lyric warning was treated as a sign of quality in the same way that labels from certain wine regions are treated as sings of quality.

        3. They were more like movie ratings because their intent was to warn parents rather than warn the listener. Most of my friends thought the entire thing was nonsense. Trigger Warnings and the explicit lyrics warning have different audiences and purposes.

        4. The MPAA still exists but very few people pay much attention to it these days and it is heavily criticized. The goals of the PMRC were kind were both in and against the zeitgeist of the era they were operating in. In a post-1960s world, which freed popular music from the choice of being a love song or a novelty song, any attempt to control music seemed as anachronistic. Moral panics were very big during the 1980s though. There were probably enough parents rolling their eyes at the entire thing to make the PMRC look dumb. In the past, moral panics had more unified generational support.

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      • 4. There is an MPAA for the music industry, and the PMRC did succeed in pushing them to adopt the sticker. The PMRC looks ridiculous because a lot of people can remember the hearings, and the rest of us can easily find video, while the adoption of first the Hays Code and then the modern rating system didn’t involve televised Congressional hearings.

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      • having already warned people there was objectionable material inside the package, why not go all the way with the material?

        This hadn’t occurred to me.

        It’s hard to not think of how, following the PMRC hearings, there did seem to be a huge explosion of things that would make excellent examples… but I don’t know that, say, Ice-T would have released significantly different albums had the stickers not happened. Would the labels have said “sorry, you need to clean this up”?

        How much prior restraint did labels impose prior to the PMRC? MC5, for example, was doing its thing in 1969… comedy albums, for another example, could get away with murder. But music? I wouldn’t even know how to look for that sort of thing.

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        • It didn’t work that way for movies, though. Movie studios still try to get more general audience ratings if they can.

          But it does seem to work that way with cable. Not with warnings, but with network standards. Once something is on HBO, all bets are off.

          So what’s the difference? I would guess it’s that movies still rely on movie theaters, where parents and theaters have greater ability to filter and so parents are more likely to need to be appeased (or at least studios think so). Or that the MPAA does (or for some reason can do) a better job of stratifying films making it harder.

          The common unrated DVD releases of rated films would support the former theory.

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              • Hmm. The way I remember it, the films that actually received an ‘X’ – newspapers generally didn’t accept advertising from unrated films – were art-house films and higher-concept films like “Insatiable” and “The Devil in Miss Jones”. “Higher” is relative, of course, but I’d be surprised if e.g. the “Insatiable” or “Taboo” series committed even half of their running time to actual sex scenes (and the acting was legitimately better than porn today – crossing over to “legitimate” roles was not unheard of until at least the mid-90s).

                And the real smut didn’t even get rated, just released to dedicated porn theaters (to circumvent the need for advertising), with “Rated XXX” on the poster – since only the ‘X’ was trademarked, and lookalike “ratings” weren’t.

                That was before my time, though… I came of age with badly-dubbed Scandinavian sex comedies and cheap horror-ish exploitation films on HBO/Showtime. Then the VCR hit critical mass, and after that the deluge.

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          • Movies go for less restricted ratings only up to a point, though; at least in my understanding, PG-13 is the usual target for the broadest audience.

            I think you’re correct about theaters creating a different dynamic from music. Some of this has to do with parental control, but I suspect it also has to do with adults seeing their neighbors: if you see someone you know at a concert, no need to be embarassed, since you’re there for the same thing. If you’re at a movie theater, you may or may not want to confess to being there to see Torture Porn III: With Sex This Time

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  18. E1: I find the first link a lot more persuasive than the second. NCLB was a great success in Who it tested, but not how it tested. Basing scores on data from historically ignored populations means that schools are actually required to not ignore those populations. But the tests only measure shallow thinking, and the year-to-year data is too noisy to support the conclusions drawn from it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first article’s conclusions are supported by solid and specific numbers, and the second article is just assumptions and distractions.

    H5: Costs and regulations may be a factor, but I think it’s mostly that millennials don’t want starter homes. Th only millennial home buyers I know are buying homes that they can live in long-term. And frankly, the whole idea of starter homes just isn’t very attractive in a post-bubble world.

    The theory of starter homes seems to be:
    1) A home that appreciates in value is a good vehicle for investment, considering you’d be paying rent otherwise
    2) On average, homes appreciate in value
    3) Therefore, you should buy whatever home you can afford.
    But given that there’s a pretty significant gap between “average home” and “home millennials can afford” the financial soundness of starter homes seems somewhat under-supported.

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  19. Cu4-Just got around to reading both essays and I have to say the Freddie is spot on in both. As someone who has gone from Center Left to Libertarian, it has been painfully obvious. I do think observation above is correct on a local, day to day level, but is overwhelmed at the national “think piece” level. And this is especially true as it comes to art critisism (putting film and lit in with that.) Freddie states “this is a thing that’s happened, and it’s going to have consequences, and we should talk about it even though it probably makes progressive people uncomfortable to do so.”

    Very good questions. I think I have answers, but need more time to think.

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        • I ask because it’s like most of the major music, TV, and movie review media I know. Most of them, if they are liberal, seem to be so in the way AV Club is, which is to say, sorta like this place is: it’s read mostly by educated folk with enough free time to not only each the TV or movie, but also read about it, so they’re gonna skew young, with some money in their wallets, like to read, and so on. Basically the stereotype of a liberal. The places they visit will skew toward their world view a bit, but I only see the overtly lefty stuff on sites that nobody would describe as merely skewed. But maybe I’m missing something. There are people here who read more mainstream criticism than I do, for sure.

          Now, if we’re talking critical theory, man that stuff is left as fish, bit Freddie is like a century late to that party.

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          • It’s “microaggressions” all the way down, bro.

            It’s not hard left, but center left. So for many on the far left it comes across as being centrist. As you mentioned Critical Theory (which I have a pretty darn good working knowledge of) and it being a “left as fish” well, in lit departments it is one of the main tools and has been for a while. It has encompassed pretty much all discussion of criticism in the mainstream, forcing those who do do not subscribe to that mode of thought, especially the post-structuralist parts, into corners where it is not any part of the conversation, such as http://acculturated.com/, a site that you will not see as having contributed to any national conversation, unless it is used to show how Those People think.

            But, I don’t know if you have ever read a Tom Clancy novel, if you do you would roll your eyes at the bits where politics show up. It ends up working like that. Especially in the post-Bush era. The level of vitriol that can be expressed regarding conservative politics in what might have been a neutral area (like AV) is no longer a two way street, as many who have aspired to be editors and writers of the sites lean one way, and not the other. This is being expressed in places like the Hugo’s, Gamergate etc.

            When someone as far left as Freddie notices it and when someone at Grantland is say it is something of an issue, it bares looking at. Closely.

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            • Ugh, that microaggression post.

              Like I said, I think it skews liberal, but I dunno that that’s any less a result of who reads it than a cause of it.

              I wonder, outside of the visual arts (painting and sculpture in particular) and literature, what portion of critics have more than a passing familiarity with critical theory. How many movie and TV reviewers, say, have spent time with Jameson?

              I have read some Crichton, though it’s been years, and I think mostly came before his politics went into overdrive. I tend to find over-the-top politics in art silly, though I say this with a Malraux novel in my lap.

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                • “How many movie and TV reviewers, say, have spent time with Jameson?”

                  Given the general sloppiness of thinking and writing, I’d say most of em spend a lot of time with Jameson. Or at least Old Crow and Ten High.

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                    • Capt. Spaulding: Now read me the letter, Jamison.
                      Horatio Jamison: [reading] “Honorable Charles H. Hungadunga…”
                      Capt. Spaulding: [correcting him] Hungerdunger.
                      [they say the “hung” syllable in unison]
                      Capt. Spaulding: Hoong.
                      Horatio Jamison: Hungerdunger.
                      Capt. Spaulding: That’s it, Hungerdunger.
                      Horatio Jamison: [continues reading] “… care of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, and McCormick.”
                      Capt. Spaulding: You’ve left out a Hungerdunger. You left out the main one, too. Thought you could slip one over on me, didn’t you, eh?
                      [pause]
                      Capt. Spaulding: All right, leave it out and put in a windshield wiper instead.
                      [Jamison nods and writes]
                      Capt. Spaulding: I tell you what you do, Jamison, I tell you what. Make it, uh, make it three windshield wipers and one Hungerdunger. They won’t all be there when the letter arrives anyhow.
                      Horatio Jamison: [rushes quickly through what he’s just written] “… Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger… and McCormick.”
                      Capt. Spaulding: And McCormick.
                      Horatio Jamison: [reading] “Gentlemen, question mark.”
                      Capt. Spaulding: [correcting him] Gentlemen, question mark? Put it on the penultimate, not on the diphthongic. You wanna brush up on your Greek, Jamison. Well, get a Greek and brush up on him.
                      Horatio Jamison: [reading] “In re yours of the fifth inst…”
                      Capt. Spaulding: I see.
                      Horatio Jamison: Now, uh… you said a lot of things here that I didn’t think were important, so I just omitted them.
                      Mrs. Rittenhouse: Well!
                      Capt. Spaulding: Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.
                      [suddenly tries to hit Jamison with his switch, but misses; he falls]
                      Mrs. Rittenhouse: [helps Spaulding up] Oh, Captain! Good gracious! Oh, my.
                      Capt. Spaulding: [to Jamison] So, you just omitted them, eh? You just omitted the body of the letter, that’s all. You’ve just left out the body of the letter, that’s all. Yours is not to reason why, Jamison. You’ve left out the body of the letter.
                      [pause]
                      Capt. Spaulding: All right, send it that way and tell them the body will follow.
                      [swings his switch indignantly]
                      Horatio Jamison: Do you want the body in brackets?
                      Capt. Spaulding: No, it’ll never get there in brackets. Put it in a box. Put it in a box and mark it, uh…”fragilly.”
                      Horatio Jamison: Mark it what?
                      Capt. Spaulding: Mark it fragilly. F-R-A-G… Look it up, Jamison, it’s in the dictionary. Look under “fragile.” Look under the table if you don’t find it there.

                      If that’s not postmodern, I don’t know what is.

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              • Finding someone who actually has a strong background in cultural criticism at this point would be pretty difficult outside of real academia (in other words , tenure, tenure track or adjunct), but finding someone who read a synopsis of Derrida, never mind they haven’t the foggiest clue who de Man was and his effect on Jacques before and after his notebooks came out, filtering it through a semesters worth of 3rd wave feminism they got solely from listening to Sleater Kinney… Not to hard.

                Most people don’t want to do the hard work it takes to actually get to the kernel of truth that continental philosophy can provide. They just want to be able to read a little post structuralism and think that they can tear down all the walls, but not realizing what Chesterton’s fence really refers to.

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                • I know who de Man is. You de Man! But let’s not Deleuze ourselves into thinking this stuff would do anything more than make most of the kids writing criticism these days Barthes their kale salads all over their skinny jeans. Foucault of ’em.

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                • They just want to be able to read a little post structuralism and think that they can tear down all the walls

                  Man, if there’s a sadder critique of contemporary times than that, I haven’t heard it. Just depressing.

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