Morning Ed: Society {2016.02.07.T}

Alex Knapp writes about chess in the age of e-sports, and how worldwide computer chess is allowing people to get more and more practice by giving them opponents very close to their own level. Pretty cool.

I can see through some of these, but others I’d never guess.

A lot of the issues we think of as Men vs Women, like abortion or even genital mutilation, are mostly Women vs Women.

I’ve always said that if I start going bald, I’ll probably just start shaving my head. Bias confirmed! Take note, Marco Rubio.

Brad Stulberg writes about how online communities may end up making us lonely together.

Bethany Mandel is done with Facebook, Shoe (who some of you may remember as the architect behind my parody account) and David Burge quit Twitter, and Cool Material explains why you should quit social media altogether.

It turns out there is a reason why Deep Space 9 will not make it to Bluray. Also, a review of DS9.

Variety investigates why actresses aren’t doing romantic comedies anymore.


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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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71 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2016.02.07.T}

  1. “Female culture war *has begun*”

    Granted, he’s talking about things like pro-choice vs. pro-life, but in my experience, for smaller matters at least, there’s *always* been an intra-gender culture war among women – “mean girls” have pretty much always been a thing, I suspect. (My own growing up years are evidence; some things my mother has said about her own growing up years tells me it didn’t start with Gen X).

    It’s a power thing. At least in grade school, the popular girls had the power, and they wielded it by making the less-popular girls’ lives worse. Some of that came by “policing” how the other girls acted, dressed, what they ate, etc. Some of it came by excluding those who, either because they were rebellious or socially clueless, refused to conform to the Byzantine rules of “what is correct for a girl of your age in this particular place at this particular point in time.”

    (I was socially clueless but also my parents didn’t have the money to buy the brands and types of clothing that were dictated as ‘necessary’ to fit in)

    I think the “if you don’t agree with me politically on everything, we have no common ground, and I am going to mock you or exclude you until you decide to conform” is perhaps just a grown-up’s version of this.

    I’m still socially clueless.

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  2. Re: baldness, I can imagine this being a live question between having a full head of hair vs. the shaved look, but if you’re asking about whether you should shave it or just let the hairline recede, comb it over, wear a toupee, etc., then the answer is so blindingly obvious it doesn’t need to be spelled out: shave shave shave. This is a very relevant question for me, since it’s started to go in the past year or two. Every birthday from now until I shave it all off needs to be a time of fearlessly honest self-assessment.

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    • I started shedding hair in high school, so I had to come to terms with being follicly challenged long ago. I quickly realized that there are two ways to go bald: with dignity, or without dignity. You end up in the same place either way.

      This was before rogaine. We don’t hear about that as much as we did when it was new. I haven’t looked into it, but I suspect that this means it is only a delaying action. You end up in the same place, but it takes a little longer. I suppose it also allows for dignity along the way.

      Then we come to shaving. We are presently in a moment of history where this is within the fashion norms for men, making it an option. I don’t expect this moment to last. I expect that soon enough, a middle aged man with a shaved head will be interpreted as another way to go bald without dignity, just one step above a pathetic comb-over.

      As for myself, I am in the happy position of having to appeal to only one member of the opposite sex, and she knew I was bald when she married me.

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        • I use a headblade, and it works nicely. Electric took too long (head hair is finer than facial and that makes it tough for electrics). Normal safety razors tended to nick a lot.

          Once you’ve done it a few times, you can shave your head in the shower by touch.

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          • Re: balding.

            Joe Buck was on Fresh Air the other day touting his book. The two points he made in his interview were a) he really hates his father’s ex-wife and kids, and b) he has had eight hair transplant surgeries, one of which went bad. Odd choices to discuss, in my view, but then again what else does he have to say?

            But ever since he mentioned all the plugs he’s gotten, I can’t help but look at his hairline when he’s on the air. And yikes he really is getting a lot of mileage out of those plugs and a very good hairdresser.

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    • I was always very thin on top. I’ve been keeping it cropped very close since my first Navy deployment, although I didn’t start shaving it until 2005-2006.

      I will say that not everyone can pull off bald, the head has to be big enough (too small and you look like an extra from a Kung Fu temple scene) & round enough. Luckily most successful men have these traits.

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  3. Eljin Park: Ah the colors of the old times. Now ever car is dull grey, black, or beige. Ugh.

    Women vs Women: I’d be a lot less interested in abortion if I didn’t run the risk of 18 years of child support and I don’t even get input into the decision.

    Online: What’s worse is that “lack of human contact”, if you know what I mean, can’t be replaced by virtual interactions, at least until the sex bots arrive.

    FB/Social Media: I’ll say this again. When I first joined, my reaction was “why would I even car about the crap you’re posting”…and this was people I’d known. Yeah, I engaged in some conversations / discussions for a while, but, really, it was pointless and stupid. I rarely log in anymore and only to check for changes in my jujitsu classes, as the instruction prefers to use that. It’s a wasteland of uselessness. I’d rather play a video game as a time waster.

    DS9: Well I don’t give a damn about Voyager…ugh..But DS9? I’ve got the full non HD set. Taking offers. 1K minimum. Oh, and that review of DS9? Vic Fontaine? God he sucked. I skip over every segment of that guy.

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  4. The way you get around women vs. women culture wars from the leftist angle is to claim that all those pro-life or conservative women have false consciousness and they are really only pro-life because of the Patriarchy. A proper feminist enlightenment will make them much more liberal. Thats the same way Marxists got around working class people who thought they were nuts.

    I agree very strongly on the online communities making us lonely together. People are less inclined to meet in real space because because you can text or chat online. When people do get together in real life, its organized via social media and doesn’t require the same level of commitment. In the past, you wanted to have a bunch of people over for the Super Bowl, you’d have to call them in advance, they would have to check their own schedule and decide to commit or not. With Facebook, you just create an event and people decide that they will go, are interested, or will not go.

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  5. The women vs women thing is how we got Trump.

    Seriously.

    The conventional wisdom, the smart money, and myself all thought the Trump had so alienated himself from women that, as a bloc, they would decisively break for Clinton (through both switching votes and staying home). That didn’t turn out to be the case. More women voted for Clinton than for Trump, but slightly more white women nationwide, and, where it counted, significantly more white women voted for Trump.

    (edit – except Wisconsin per the CNN exit poll site)

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  6. There are also philosophical debates around the issue of loneliness in the modern world. Sweden has the highest number of people living alone per capita and many Swedish officials see this as a triumph of social democracy because means that any social pairing is voluntary since people have not economic need to be forced into social groups for survival. You don’t have to live with an abusive person or people, you can live alone thanks to social democracy.

    There is a lot of merit to this but it can also be taken too far as many humans are won’t to do. There can be many people allowed to get so close but not closer and mainly isolated from social groups for entirely trivial reasons. Most people aren’t emotionally epuiqed for the hermit life because people are social animals and need contact with others and in person. The new found ability for people to live alone can be used as a means and method of social control indirectly.

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    • I go back and forth on the whole human interaction thing.

      I’ve also said more and more since the election that maybe what Americans need is that acre of land (allegedly enough to feed a person) and the means to work it, and to be isolated from everyone else. People are really difficult to deal with and they seem to be getting worse.

      I dunno: I get weird and sad and lonely when I’m alone too much, but I get frustrated and unhappy when I’m around certain people too much. I dunno. Maybe the problem is me and I really do need to be a hermit like I’ve threatened.

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      • Read the less romanticized accounts of rural life, back in the day, and the loneliness comes out as a common theme. Of course they also didn’t have electronic communication or motorized transportation, but still…

        Then there was small town life, back in the day. The works of Sinclair Lewis are well worth reading in this regard. It was pretty good, if you were an insider. If you were an outsider–and there were many many ways you could achieve this status–then it was as lonely as that farm, but with more people around you.

        I think that “one acre per person” is using modern farming techniques, i.e. modern seeds, fertilizer, and pest control. I’m not sure how well this would scale down to each of us on our individual plot of land.

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          • …and they were willing to subsist on a diet of potatoes. Sure, it is nutritionally possible. Potatoes are amazing that way. But who would want to?

            Similarly with the Chinese peasant diet. It turns out that a diet of rice and the occasional green vegetable will keep you alive pretty much forever. (At least it will so long as you work like a dog. Achieve a sedentary lifestyle and it is a recipe for diabetes.) But again, who would do this voluntarily? There is a reason why this is the diet of peasants, and not of anybody else.

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        • People are social animals and need other people for the most part. This has been recognized since in antiquity in many different civilizations. Electronic communications help but I think the provide little substitute for actual human contact. People were thrilled to get letters in the past but still yearned for talking to a human or just being in their presence.

          The attempts on both the right and the left to create a society where all social interaction is 100% voluntary and nobody has to associate with anybody if they don’t want to are bound for failure. Most people are not equipped to be hermits and a society where a group can decide x person can get y close but no closer because reasons is going to be one where people are going to be socially isolated for no good reasons.

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  7. Social Media – I stopped using facebook around 2008, as my company at the time (RRD) forbid it on work owned Blackberries and computers. I found it much less interesting using it at home instead of a time waster at work. That and I quickly realized that all those people from high school you reconnect with? There was a reason you lost contact in the first place.

    As far as baldness is concerned, I am balding. I am also not vain enough to shave my head. I simply go to an old man barber shop and have it buzzed, all the way down. And as soon as I can grab hair (around 1/16″) I repeat. It is also a nice way to get out of the office/home and BS with strangers. But, like above, I only need to be attractive to one person, the rest of the time I wear a hat.

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  8. Re: women v. women;

    Why should women somehow all believe the same thing and hold the same values, even regarding female reproductive issues?
    Men sure as hell don’t.

    I saw where Ruth Bader Ginsburg said something to the effect that she would like to see a Supreme Court with all female judges. The interviewer expressed surprise and she responded that no one thought it was weird when it was all male.

    The only time group solidarity becomes powerful and easily done is when the group is threatened by an outside force that they fear greater than internal divisions.

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  9. The article on why DS9 won’t be coming out on blu-ray is remarkably interesting.

    The short version is that back in the day, TV shows both were shot on 35mm film and the post-production, including special effects, was also done on film, resulting in the final product in a can. This was then transferred to TV format, with its crappy resolution. So producing a high definition version is simply a matter of taking the original final product out of the can and transferring it to modern high def format.

    Then in the 1980s the technology came along to do that post-production work electronically, but in crappy TV low-def format. There was still film, but not a final version. So to make the TNG blu-ray version they had to collect the bits of film and re-do the special effects from scratch. This was hideously expensive, and people have in the meantime stopped buying blu-ray disks for stuff they can stream on Netflix.

    Worse, by the time DS9 was in production, they could do even more CGI stuff, all in crappy low-def, rather than model shots on film. So going back and re-doing DS9 would be even more hideously expensive than it was for TNG, and TNG is inexplicably more popular than DS9, despite DS9 being far superior in every way. So it goes.

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    • It oughtn’t to surprise you that one of the writers on DS9 is doing Knights of Sedonia and Voltron.
      It might surprise you to figure that he’s working on It’s always sunny in Philadelphia too.

      “What do you mean we lost the notes on Odo? Okay, we’ve got the summer to make up the best backstory we can. Everyone, get writing.”

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        • There are a lot of artforms that were somewhat harmed by hi-def resolutions.

          Professional Wrestling, for example, had to deal with the fact that people at home could now read the lips of the wrestlers and referees.

          Pornography benefits a great deal from a soft focus and an inability to tell whether a blemish has been covered up.

          Star Trek strikes me as similar. In low-def, soft focus, it doesn’t look like actors standing around on a set. In high-def? You can’t help but notice that that rock is papier-mâché and people are walking around wearing painted Nintendo Power Gloves.

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          • Didn’t most people know that wrestling was a show by the time hi-definition television became widespread? It doesn’t seem much of a detriment that people could read lips if they know they are watching a show than an athletic match or is that a bridge too far?

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            • We knew it was a show long, long before hi-def TV came along. I followed it casually back in the Hulk Hogan days. I don’t anymore, but I occasionally catch some meta stuff. I find it fascinating how nowadays everyone openly couches discussions in terms of storylines and characters. There is barely even any pretense of this being an athletic competition.

              That being said, my guess is that the problem is when the show itself has the reality, rather than the fiction, on screen. It is like having a mike boom show up in a movie.

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              • I watched pro-wresting when I was in elementary school. The entire kayfabe thing really interests me as a historian because nobody can quite pin down when wrestling turned from a sport into a show or why it happened. From what I understand there are arguments that the entire pro-wrestling as a show could have started as early as the 1870s and was firmly in place long before television or that actual athleticism lasted until the 1970s even though wrestling was mainly a show by than. French wresters seemed to have started adopting colorful names and personas by the 1830s.

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                • There are several different answers to that but I’ll give the two that make the most sense to me.

                  The first perspective is given from Al Snow in this speech. He says it dates back to 1938, because that’s when newspapers first began no longer reporting the result of wrestling matches.

                  That has to be balanced against the fact that other newspapers continued reporting the outcomes of wrestling matches in different parts of the country up through the last days of the territories, though.

                  The perspective that makes sense to me is that it turned into a show on February 10th, 1989.

                  Vince McMahon testified in front of the New Jersey Senate that wrestling was “an activity in which participants struggle hand-in-hand primarily for the purpose of providing entertainment to spectators rather than conducting a bona fide athletic contest.”

                  This got professional wrestling out from under the watchful eye of the State Commissions and let McMahon no longer have to pay for a doctor to be ringside and that sort of thing.

                  So I’d say, officially, 1989. Unofficially, we’ve known about it since the 30’s.

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                  • That isn’t quite what I was talking about. What I’m talking about how nobody could really determine when kayfabe became total within wrestling to a reliable degree. Its a lot easier to figure out when the audience became in on the secret.

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          • Back when I did road show demos of tech that was coming for cable systems — high speed internet access, high def, etc — one of the shows was done at the NPR “sound stage” in St. Paul, MN. I had time to chat a bunch with the station manager, who was concerned about what high def was going to cost her in terms of staff and budget. Things like set furniture that wasn’t beat up and higher end make up that would look okay in high def.

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  10. The romantic comedy genre didn’t survive Friends. 236 episodes of very-good-to-average writing with very attractive people acting out every possible romcom scenario. There was nothing left to do in movies.

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    • Friends is a great example of how ensemble chemistry can make a show. The scripts are pretty awful and when you read the jokes, you wonder “why is this funny?

      But the cast had great interacting chemistry and made it work.

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    • It’s also the case that a lot of classic rom-coms are…problematic, as the kids these days put it.

      Like, I watched “Sleepless In Seattle” for the first time this past holiday season and holy crap, you guys, Meg Ryan is genuinely scary.

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      • DD,
        You think she’s bad? Try School Days.
        Of course, that one is actively trolling the audience — and for good reason.

        Who the hell thinks that a girl ought to fall in love with the guy who constantly stares at her on the train, and never says a word?

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  11. The comments to that review of DS9 are fascinating. The review itself isn’t. It is kindly described as “perfunctory.” But the comments include discussions of how watching “sci-fi” will affect your chances of getting laid (“it’s very beta to be afraid to watch sci-fi in your free time because a “chick” might find out”), the insightful observation, made independently by several commenters, that a series is improved if you skip the bad episodes, and the analysis that there are two types of nerds. The dumb ones became SJWs, and they were mean to the smart ones, who responded with Gamergate.

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  12. Here’s somewhere that we *ALL* can come together and condemn Trump on.

    President Donald Trump invited a wave of speculation Tuesday when he volunteered to “destroy” the career of a unnamed Texas state senator in response to a state sheriff’s complaint about the lawmaker.

    Trump’s remark came during a meeting with sheriffs at the White House that included Rockwall County’s Harold Eavenson. When Trump asked the group for input on how to improve law enforcement, Eavenson spoke up.

    “Asset forfeiture,” Eavenson replied. “We’ve got a state senator in Texas that’s talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture money, and I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.”

    “Who’s the state senator?” Trump asked, getting no answer from a demurring Eavenson. “Want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”

    Asset forfeiture without a conviction is Unconstitutional. It’s tyrannous and we need to get rid of it yesterday. Trump talking about “destroying” the careers of state senators who are opposed to it is downright disgusting and, even if he was merely making a joke (“hey, I was bonding with the Sheriff!”) it’s one of those jokes that is Not Even Remotely Funny.

    He’s going to take the side of the cops over the citizenry and that’s something that needs to be opposed.

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