Morning Ed: Society {2016.06.01.W}

Well, this sort of explains some of the people who have shown up on my Twitter feed.

I am not at all surprised by this. Girls be mean.

Noah Berlatsky argues that superheroes are less modern myths and more melodramas. I think this is true in the case of classic comics, though the medium has transformed into something else (or, more accurately, many things).

I kind of shrugged off the latest Captain America twist (I mean, obviously, it’s going to be some sort of hypnosis where Steve was really being Steve up until now), but Jessica Plummer argues pretty convincingly that even accounting for the fact it’s going to be a gimmick, it matters.

This is no surprise: There’s a peer effect when it comes to teenage pregnancy. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. Lower teenage pregnancies is a good thing, but too much stigma and abortion (for wronger-than-usual reasons, even) starts to look really attractive.

Calaveras High School (CA) are the Redskins no more! Now they are… well… nothing. That’s dumb. Otters would work for a California school!

Peak Sonny Bunch: He makes the case for the White Walkers.


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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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48 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2016.06.01.W}

  1. Taylor Swift: Yeah, Nazi fanbois be CRAZY. She is cute though.

    Mean girls: Hah, that’s women’s status positioning for ya. Rather just get a knife to the back.

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    • This one always seemed open-and-shut to me. The 8-0 ruling pretty much confirms that. This is small potatoes, though. The real fun starts when the new “Waters of the United States” rule reaches the SCOTUS. I take a small personal interest in that one. As I read the new rule, it is conceivable — unlikely that they would get around to me, but conceivable — that I need a federal permit to apply chemicals to my landscaping because there are periods of sufficiently heavy rainfall when runoff from my yard is connected to navigable portions of the Missouri River. The chain is like 650 miles long, but it’s there.

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        • Indeed, but YOU don’t define “wetlands”. The COE does, and they can unilaterally change their mind. They’ve classified screwing non wetlands as wetlands in the past.

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            • Actually, in the instance I recall, it was neither. There was no way a reasonable interpretation of the law would suggest such a body of water was a wetland, but someone in the COE decided it was and lawsuits were a plenty.

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        • As a matter of fact, the runoff does go into wetlands — an old irrigation pond at the bottom of the neighborhood, with a resident population of all the usual wetlands flora and fauna. We already know that it counts as wetlands. The “dam” that creates the pond is a railroad embankment. The only meaningful water supply for the pond is a diversion from an irrigation canal. When the embankment was put on the list of dangerous dams in the state, the railroad and the city proposed simply shutting off the diversion, letting the pond dry up, and turning it into a park. The EPA filed suit. The city ended up spending a few million dollars to build a new spillway and a six-block long buried flood channel for overflow in the event of a 500-year rainfall event because that was cheaper than taking the EPA to court.

          Front Range cities used to encourage builders to create ponds/lakes as part of new development. Water came from part of the ditch shares that the cities acquired when they annexed the land and built improvements (water, sewer). Once the courts backed the claim that such were EPA-regulated wetlands, the practice has stopped.

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      • No. Just no.

        The section 404 program regulates dredging and filling of waters of the US. The application of ordinary chemicals to your landscape shouldn’t be causing any fill flowing into wetlands.

        The ACOE has issued 50 General Permits under section 404 and some of those permits do directly address, and exempt, agricultural activities.

        Stormwater discharges are regulated under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. If you’re applying pesticides to land that can flow off your land in a storm, your state likely regulates that activity. Other stormwater discharges are discussed here.

        The Clean Water Act is one of those laws that have enormous but diffuse benefits and narrowly borne burdens. As the worst of point-source (mouth of pipe) discharges have been cleaned up, the ACOE and EPA are now facing the far more difficult challenge of regulating and managing those much smaller individual impacts to federal waters that collectively have an enormous impact.

        See, for example, the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico.

        By the way, the Supreme Court case was largely about standing, a rarefied topic mostly of interest to other lawyer, and about challenges to agency rule-making, an even-more arcane topic. Most discussions in the press about this case are not on point.

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        • So, your position is that the EPA was wrong when they claimed the old irrigation ponds are federally-protected wetlands? And that the new WOTUS rule won’t extend federal control to the irrigation ditch that keeps both of those wet (so long as the flood gates are opened periodically), and the quality of the water in that ditch? There are many states, and now multiple federal courts, who aren’t sure but what that’s exactly what the EPA is about to do.

          Even though it doesn’t sound like it here, I’m generally a big fan of the CWA and all of the good things it’s accomplished.

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          • You’ve misread me. Any Clean Water Act analysis has two parts: (a) is there an impact to a federal water, and (b) is the impact subject to regulation.

            Your response to me addresses the first point — what is a Water Of The US. But my comment was addressed to the second — whether or not you are discharging to waters of the US, the application of ordinary garden chemicals by a landowner to his landscaping is not subject to any permit regime that I’m aware of. Section 404 regulates the “filling” of wetlands. That means putting soil in regulated waters. The NPDES program is so complex that I can’t do justice in a short comment, but the ultra-short version is that it regulates municipalities and a very short list of private properties, primarily industrial properties and properties under development.

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    • How arrogant of the fed gov’t to think that their decisions taking property can’t be reviewed by a court

      To be fair, historically that strategy has worked out all right for them.

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  2. Re Calaveras High School: I could discourse at excruciating length about the history of team nicknames and mascots. I will spare you. The extremely short version is that neither is necessary. I find this decision charmingly transgressive: so old school that people think it is new.

    Oh, and if they were going to take a new one, it obviously should be the Jumping Frogs.

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    • The US refused “conditional” Japanese surrender offers at least once. They wanted to preserve their emperor. When the Japanese refused unconditional surrender, we nuked them-twice.

      it wasn’t necessary, but the US had to have unconditional surrender.

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      • This is false. Preserving the emperor and not putting him up for war crime trials was obviously not a deal killer because that was part of the final surrender. So we did accept a conditional surrender. What Japan wanted was a full maintenance of the existing government, keeping their army intact and no post-war occupation. In addition, no surrender offer was made to the US. All of the conditional surrenders were of feelers floated by diplomats to Switzerland or other countries that OSS picked up.

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        • It’s also important to remember the Kyujo Incident (summary: the Japanese military attempted a coup to prevent the surrender). It’s not like they were desperately attempting to surrender and the US kept bombing them because Fucking Racist Americans.

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          • Indeed.

            It’s not certain that the nuclear bombings made up the Japanese government’s mind any more than the Tokyo firebombings did.

            By sheer coincidence, the day of the Nagasaki bombing, Stalin resumed the Sino-Japanese War, with the addition of troops that had been freed from Europe. Equipped with more tanks and planes than Japan had had at their zenith, years earlier.

            At that point, with the potential for more bombs on the way, and an opponent in the lists who, unlike the USA, would not blanch at the idea of losing a million troops to invade the Home Islands, it made sense to surrender soon, while it would still be MacArthur signing the documents and not Zhukov.

            And still major factions in the military wanted to fight on…

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  3. My tinfoil hat Captain America Theory.

    Captain America was originally created to be a weapon.

    He evolves, though. We all evolve. In the 70’s, he was used as a tool to criticize stuff like Vietnam and social policy. In more recent years, we’ve seen him become a Nomad and get assassinated when particular governments got elected (and, of course, we see him return in glory when other ones get elected).

    My assumption now is that there are two possible endings to the Captain America story.
    If one person gets elected, we’ll find that Captain America was hypnotized or doing some deep cover stuff or cloned or was a Skrull or something and that Captain America was not *REALLY* Hydra.

    If the other person gets elected, we’ll find that Captain America has been rotten at the core for decades. Since the beginning, actually.

    Captain America was originally created to be a weapon.
    He’s still one.

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    • Having read the issue, it is not even clear that Cap is actually a part of Hydra. The implication is there, but it could still be explained away. The flashbacks in the issue show his mother being recruited by a Hydra agent, but at the end of the issue, she has even attended any meeting. An ally was thrown out of the plane, but he is superpowered, so he might be capable of surviving (I am not familiar with the specific character, so I do not know for sure). He might be acting as a double agent, but perhaps in the sense of a good guy trying to infiltrate Hydra. At the end of the issue, all we have is the suggestion that he might be an agent of Hydra, but that is not the only interpretation of the facts.

      Even if he does turn out to be an agent of Hydra, he was just restored by a living Cosmic Cube. I have not been following the story, but given the typical capabilities of a Cosmic Cube, it is possible that his past or even his memories were rewritten. That would mean he was not truly Hydra all along.

      According to the writer:

      This is not a clone, not an imposter, not mind control, not someone else acting through Steve. This really is Steve Rogers, Captain America himself.

      that rules out some of your ideas.

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  4. Noah Berlatsky cites Arrow in his post about superheroes, and I must admit, Arrow is totally melodrama. But then, Oliver Queen has no actual superpowers, just a lot of training and some cool gear. Also, he’s tricky when he needs to be.

    I would describe that show as heroic realism. It’s not mythology. It stands in definite contrast to the MCU, which is definitely mythology. Noah asks, “But does Captain America punching Iron Man in the helmet really resonate for us today with the same archetypal force as Oedipus stabbing out his eyes because he finds out he has slept with his mother ?”

    In what sense wouldn’t Oedipus be melodrama? I mean, I could easily imagine that plotline showing up on daytime TV, right? OMG, he doesn’t know she’s his mom, and she’s totally hot (and really rich), so OHHHH NOOOO!

    And yeah, for me, that moment from Civil War was very powerful.

    But really, his argument is about failure versus success, that classical heroes always ended up dead and failing, but not so superheroes.

    But the thing is, there’s death and failure in each movie. Tony Stark is going to die some day, and he knows it. He thought he was ill in Iron Man 2, and then he nearly died during the first Avengers film. It’s driven him obsessive and that’s why he did the stuff that created Ultron. The heroes don’t always succeed, but their stories are packaged in a way so that we end any particular story on their success. This is different because what we need from our stories is different than what the Greeks need.

    In my lifetime we have controlled polio, wiped out smallpox, and turned heart disease from a curse to something that can be controlled by medication and a couple of mesh cylinders which are inserted into coronary arteries. We can travel most anywhere on the globe in less than 24 hours. And so on. We are punching ‘evil’ in the face every day. We still know we are mortal, and things aren’t perfect.

    So we need different myths from a time where one generation faced much the same challenges as the last.

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  5. You have to be careful in looking at studies that count how many times the word “slut” was used, and from that draw broad conclusions. Certainly “mean girls” exist. I’ve met a few. I’ve met them back in my “boy” days. But worse, I’ve tangled with them in my female life. They are a menace. I can think of one who has basically poisoned an entire social space around me. (And we trans gals don’t have an abundance of good social spaces.) In any case, yeah.

    The people threatening to rape and kill Anita Sarkeesian are almost mostly men. There may be a woman or three in the bunch, but not really. This is a “guy” thing, this massive and focused online hate campaign against a woman, and really against a pretty broad class of women.

    Like, I don’t care if some random online bitch decides I’m a “slut” or a “cunt” or whatever. Like I fucking care what she thinks? But there is a sustained kind of abuse targeted at notable women. It’s an “angry dude” thing. It’s toxic.

    Studies such as this are important. They provide perspective, mitigate simplistic views, give a sense of the contours of life. But don’t lose sight of the big picture. Those who try to terrorize women into silence are angry, ineffectual men.

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