Linky Friday: Houses of Warship

Religion:

zoroastrian photo

Image by A.Davey

[R1] Rod Dreher questions the viability of the religious left.

[R2] The Babylon Bee nailed this one, though I question the gender ratio towards the end.

[R3] Jane Coaston on how Jehova’s Witnesses, animal sacrifice, and peyote gave us religious freedom.

[R4] I’m not sure how much credit we can actually give it for “shaping the west”, but Zoroastrianism really is quite fascinating. Also this, about its genetic legacy.

[R5] Out with the blood, in with the Strawberry Fanta.

[R6] Creationism, creatures that never existed, and more! Ed Yong looks at various states, their State Fossils, and the controversy that erupts.

Media:

media photo

Image by Paull Young

[M1] I laughed. Grimly, but I laughed.

[M2] Buzzfeed: Live by the viral, die by the viral?

[M3] Eliana Johnson explains that Donald Trump blew up conservative media.

[M4] An editor for the Writers’ Union of Canada’s magazine resigned amid an uproar over his skepticism of the concept of cultural appropriation, and the main editor also resigned (though there may be other stuff involved). Literary Hoaxer Helen Dale agrees with him.

[M5] The saving grace of this story is that they’re college students at a relatively low-profile state school. So, it’s not good – especially given that it’s a state school – but doesn’t approach the threat level of a more relevant school.

[M6] So maybe fake news isn’t all bad

[M7] Freddie is worried about media, consumption, and isolation on the left.

Crime:

police photo

Image by G20Voice

[C1] That’s… hard core.

[C2] This story is really strange. I mean, here in the US that sort of thing would only happen if the talent were throwing, catching, or hitting a spherical or oblong object.

[C3] The story of Linda S Davis. Well, two of them, actually.

[C4] Oh, well, in that case

[C5] Lamont Lilly asks folks not to call the police on poverty.

Technology:

Via Pixabay

[T1] I do believe that flipphones are both our past and our future.

[T2] Windows XP was a great operating system, but come on. Adherence to updating helped spare the US the worst of the recent cyber attack.

[T3] Ooooh, a new Apple Watch may help you avoid a heart attack.

[T4] The end of the MP3? Not really, but the part about how MP3 compression seriously messes with our heads is quite interesting.

[T5] Will artificial intelligence change our cities and our lies?

War:

warship photo

Image by Biker Jun

[W1] Never mind Doom, this makes me think of some movie where you’re suddenly going to find a lot of skulls.

[W2] Intrigue on the other side of the world.

[W3] A good look at how things went sideways between the US and Turkey. {More} (Via Kolohe)

[W4] Julian Sanchez argues that critics of Trump are focusing way too much on “collusion” which is unlikely to be the case because – among other things – it’s not a good idea from the Russian point of view.

[W5] Joshua Hampson is worried about that the “Clash of Civilizations” conversation is hurting the actual war with the actual enemy.

[W6] A look at progress in Syria. (via Kolohe)

[W7] We have missile launch.


Editor-in-Chief
Home Page Twitter Google+ Pinterest 

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 →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

136 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Houses of Warship

  1. R1: Dreher has a point. Stricter religions tend to thrive more than liberal interpretations. When religions abandon the metaphysical, they become something of a social club but not a really fun one. People think whats the point and go straight to secularism.

    R3: I think this overstates the case. Religious minorities certainly protected freedom of religion but more in the form of preventing the majority from overstepping its bounds rather than defining it.

    R5: Supernatural favor can be yours by just a quick stop at the 7/11 and small decorated table.

    M4: This is the sincerity test for people who think cultural appropriation exists.” During the 2016 Summer Olympics, a young Japanese gymnast performed to a Jewish song called All the World is a Narrow Bridge by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The Rabbi who composed the music for the poem was angry because of reasons we would call cultural appropriation and because the routine done was immodest. If people who believe in cultural appropriation side with the Rabbi, they are being sincere. If they find a smarmy way not to side with the Rabbi, they are hypocrites that need to beat up.

    M7: Media isolation is still bigger problem on the Right. Lets worry about that. They are the ones doing actual harm by retreating into a very paranoid world.

    C1: Unless your the cop who overdosed by accident.

    C2: I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m all for more lenient punishments but giving somebody more lenient punishments, especially for a violent crime, because they are talented in someway seems to have a lot of abuse potential.

    Report

    • The most interesting part of Dreher’s concern trolling is the admission that conservative Christians drive people away from the church. Note also the systemic confusion about how the word “liberal” is being used here. Does he mean “liberal theology,” which is a term of art for a movement of half a century to a century ago, and not much found in the wild today, or does he mean “might vote for a Democrat,” which essentially is how Patheos defines “progressive Christianity.”

      I am generally unimpressed with this sort of analysis because of the implied contrast with successful conservative Christianity. Evangelical Protestantism caught a demographic wave about forty years ago. It rode that wave for what it was worth, but there are clear signs that those good times are winding down. The future of conservative Christianity looks a lot like the present of liberal Christianity (whatever that means). Catholicism too, though this has been disguised by Latin American immigration.

      Finally, there is a systemic, umm…, ‘flexibility’ about these discussions. When the goal is to show how successful conservative Christianity is, the loosest possible definition to count the highest possible numbers. Then sometime embarrassing happens, such as the election of Trump, and suddenly we are told that all those Evangelicals who voted for him don’t actually go to church, and so don’t count. yeah, right

      Report

      • I think there’s a thread there that is important. It’s about how identities are formed. A group forms an identity around how they are different from the rest of the world. Which means that “white” is the norm, but it isn’t an identity in the US. A religious group, like any other group, forms an identity around how they are different from the mainstream.

        I think this is the point that the Cardinal George quote is reaching for. A group must set itself apart from the mainstream in order to foster deep ties and a powerful identity.

        Report

        • Yabbut which mainstream? If you are in Oklahoma, Evangelical Protestantism is as mainstream as it gets. Of course, while Oklahomans overwhelmingly identify as Evangelical, that doesn’t mean they don’t have better things to do on Sunday morning. This is my point: this analysis isn’t about “liberal Christianity”. It is about Christianity.

          Report

          • Maybe you already knew this, but I think you just explained why the actual religious institutions of Oklahoma lean so hard into their “distinctives”. It’s just that much more work for them to establish an identity that differs from the norm.

            Report

      • I think Christian theology has failed to accommodate the vast expansion of knowledge of the last 200 years, and the resulting shift from a Mankind centered universe into an insignificant rock circling a very average middle aged star in a not very populated part of a very ordinary galaxy universe.

        In other words, Christian theology was developed based on the revelation that, 2,000 years ago, God, who had created the world (just four thousand years before) incarnated in the middle of the world (a world neatly divided into two comparable political units) and saved those (but only those) thAt followed his call. The resulting theology ignored the rest of the planet (because it was thought there wasn’t very many people outside of the Roman/Parthian-Sassanid empires), and of course the rest of the universe (the stars being a pretty background without any further use)

        Theology has never been able to properly accommodate the subsequent facts: that the vast majority of mankind lived (lives) outside of the area of influence of the Abrahamic religions, and God didn’t think necessary to incarnate among them to save them (what’s many billion of damned Chinese souls, waiting for St Francis Xavier to get off his ass and preach in China, merely 1,500 years later); that the planet existed for billions of years and God didn’t seem to care enough to intervene in history until primates arrived (did God create and sustain the dinosaurs for 200 million years just so we could have coal and gasoline?); that the universe is incredibly vast, and it’s unlikely that in this vast expanse, God’s most pressing concern is to make sure we do not engage in homosexual activity.

        Absent a way to reconcile the metaphysics of Christianity with this new knowledge, the supernatural claims of the Church ring false. What remains, the moral commands, are valuable per se, but there’s nothing in them that hinges on believing in Jesus being the second person of the Godhead. Hence the dreaded MTD, religion without metaphysics.

        Report

        • You’re describing a small subset of Christian theological thinking, one that excludes everyone for the first 1500 years and most people in the subsequent 500. There are volumes written on each of these issues that you think Christianity has never pondered.

          Report

        • Just for illustration:

          “Christian theology was developed based on the revelation that, 2,000 years ago, God, who had created the world (just four thousand years before)”
          That’s not widely held or considered necessary by most Christians.

          “incarnated in the middle of the world (a world neatly divided into two comparable political units)”
          I can’t even guess what you’re referring to here, so I’m going to guess that it’s also unessential.

          “and saved those (but only those) thAt followed his call”
          Not everyone agrees on this, by any means. You could spend a lifetime reading the different denomination stances on the subject.

          Report

            • Liberal Christianity is at its best when it’s trying to enact the Gospel message of love. I have problems with it in things like that sermon, where it seems to give away the house. It seems to say that Christianity can’t be taken seriously because it’s based on old writings and flawed understandings, which was J_A’s position. And back to Dreher, that’s one of the reasons he sees it as being prone to decline.

              Report

              • Why does “things people said a few hundred years ago about things two thousand years ago” have to be a trump card for religion to survive?

                That sermon says that certain interpretations (here, one that some people find very important) misunderstand what was meant by the author. Which I find unsurprising, especially since I think there’s quite good evidence that a WHOLE LOT of modern Christianity is based on ignoring and/or misinterpreting the bible. Not least Dreher’s favorite–orthodox catholicism–which has invented a bajillion rules with no basis in the bible or biblical-era practice.

                Report

      • — Honestly, I wish more people would approach the topic this way. Which is to say, I think “cultural appropriation” is a real thing, but I don’t think you can reduce it down to a set of simple black/white principles. I certainly don’t trust the judgment of young, inexperienced college students who like to shout. This is not a good path.

        That said, I would call the imbroglio in [M4] as more about representation than about approbation (as such). What I mean is, it’s not about white kids with dreadlocks or dressing up on Day of the Dead. It’s about who gets to tell their own story.

        I can only talk about my experience as a trans woman. First, this. (tl;dr, Casey Plett talks about how cis writers do a bad job writing about trans characters.)

        Look, cis people can’t effectively write about trans people.

        This is not a rule!

        I’m not forbidding anyone. You’re free to write what you want. I’m not saying “you may not,” but instead, “you cannot.”

        Well, maybe you can, but probably not. It’s complicated.

        But that isn’t really the issue. The issue is, to a large degree, the mainstream white liberal audience has no idea what is true and what is false. Furthermore, entertaining is not the same as truthful.

        Again, who cares? Can’t you just sit back and enjoy a silly movie?

        Well, I care, and stuff like Dallas Buyers Club and Danish Girl are not “silly movies.” They form a vehicle to express cis people’s gender preoccupations, mapped onto the lives of trans people. And trans people are a rather oppressed and misunderstood minority. There are very real political effects from what people think about us.

        We want to tell our own stories. And we do. However, our voices largely get drowned out by a cis majority, who are quite happy to write bullshit about us — even if it is “well meaning” bullshit — and just as happy to consume bullshit about us, leaving us on the sidelines, waving our arms, shouting out, “Hey! Our lives aren’t like that! What you’re seeing is your own misunderstandings reflected back at you.”

        Of course, these misunderstanding mights be really well written and quite engaging, but that doesn’t make it better. It makes it worse. A “deeply moving story” will get on reading lists and win awards and be praised. It remains false.

        #####

        We are all humans. There is a common bond. We can explore “universal truths.”

        We are all individuals. Each of us has a unique story.

        Between these facts, there are issues of identity. My identity is not a costume I chose to wear. It was imposed on me by society. Which is to say, I choose to dress this way. I choose to take hormones. But I don’t choose to be seen this way. Identity is a real thing in the world.

        If you are cis writer, and you think you have something new, interesting, and truthful to say about transgender people — well, why would you think that?

        Report

            • v,
              You have seriously low standards for what repulses you.
              I was asking genuine questions in a spirit of inquiry.
              If that’s going to upset you, I’ll try to avoid you in the future.

              Report

              • — If you want to have a serious conversation,

                1. Stop using the t-bomb

                2. Don’t tell me about your jerk “friend” who likes to troll us (I know that shitty people exist)

                3. Don’t ask dumb questions.

                On point #3, I made it quite clear that I don’t believe in simple black/white rules. So asking me if “someone who is in the closet” can write a good trans narrative, how the fuck should I know. I can say, before I “came out,” I did write some fiction about trans people. It was garbage. But then, I’m a mediocre writer.

                My broader point was, the broad cis public won’t know or care. The novel will stand or fall by how well it supports cis preoccupation and maudlin “lifetime movie” cliches, not by how truthful it is.

                Report

                • v,
                  Thank you for doing me the courtesy of responding to my salient points.

                  I find myself wondering if the fact that you’re such a small segment of the population makes mischaracterization (even innocently) more offensive. Perhaps it might seem less offensive if you’d have more of a chance to “be a real life person” to most people. Or, well, maybe not. I am wondering, not deciding, here…

                  Report

        • I haven’t seen either of those two films. I suppose they had a cis person play the trans person. Which adds to the problem.

          There is a trans character in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. She is played by the person she was based on. She works pretty well for me. What are your thoughts?

          If we get to the point where we have trans people playing cis roles routinely, then it might be time to think about letting cis people play trans roles.

          If a cis person wants to write a trans character, it’s probably a good idea to meet a few trans people first. Which will be awesome, by the way.

          Report

        • Yep.

          Personally, if I was going to write a trans character, I’d sit my ass down and talk to some people who are trans, then write down some things about the character, have said people take a look at that, and if they think I have it, then try writing the character. I mean, the life experience of a trans person is so far removed from my own I’d feel really weird trying to write such a character without doing research and having some relevant beta readers who can tell me where I botch it.

          As to my original comment, I think there is such a thing as cultural appropriation, and microaggressions, but the definition is too vague for such to be policed except at a very personal level (i.e. if you feel a person is guilty of either, then you should either talk to them about it, or distance yourself; but trying to punish people beyond that is a really bad idea).

          I also think people are often just a bit too eager to jump the gun on those topics. As the saying goes, don’t assume malice when stupidity/ignorance will suffice.

          Report

          • As to my original comment, I think there is such a thing as cultural appropriation, and microaggressions, but the definition is too vague for such to be policed except at a very personal level (i.e. if you feel a person is guilty of either, then you should either talk to them about it, or distance yourself; but trying to punish people beyond that is a really bad idea).

            I think this follows from viewing both as forms of rudeness, which I’m inclined to do. (Though there are some other issues with “cultural appropriation”….)

            Report

          • — “Cultural appropriation” names a number of different things.

            I think a lot of “conservative minded” Americans can understand the problems with someone wearing a purple heart metal they didn’t earn. They also understand the problems with “piss Christ.” It shouldn’t take too much empathy to understand why you shouldn’t wear dreadlocks or a Native American headdress or Mexican Day of the Dead iconography.

            Unless of course you want to challenge the respective groups. For example, I have no problem with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, namely because I despise the way the Catholic church treated gay people. It’s an “in your face” cultural adoption. It’s meant to be controversial.

            But Mexican spiritual practices — I have no connection to those. Why would I want to tweak their noses?

            There is also a matter of phoniness. Maybe there is nothing categorically wrong with adopting elements of other cultures, but suburban white kids trying to act “gangster” is pathetic for the same reasons we don’t respect douchy guys who pretend they served in special forces when they did not. It is trying to portray a kind of status you didn’t earn.

            Now, we might wonder why being a street level criminal should grant “status,” but that is a separate question. There is no doubt that growing up in a high crime neighborhood is a certain kind of challenge, one that wannabe puffed up suburban white kids did not face.

            Then there is commodification, which is taking cultural practices, packaging them up for mainstream consumption, without any thought to the material lives of the creators. Obviously something was wrong in America, in that we’d pay white people to perform musical forms that black people created, but would not pay the black people. So it goes.

            On the other hand, in recent decades black hip hop has been very successful. This is probably good.

            #####

            There is a meme in trans space:

            Cis person write a trans character: “Oh no I’m so sad I was born in the wrong body watch me transition.”

            Trans person writes a trans character: “Hey I’m a genius psychic computer hacker being chased by government agents.”

            If you wanna write a trans character, do the latter. Make them incidentally trans, with perhaps a few “trans” anecdotes thrown in, but don’t use them to explore the subtle boundaries of gender. You’re unlikely to get it right. (For example, Hedwig.)

            As a simple rule of thumb, assume the character transitioned at least five years before the story begins, and they are totally okay with being trans. After all, the big changes from “transition” take a few years. After that we get a whole life of being who we are. Those are where the stories lie.

            Also a big-huge-number of us are total math-freak computer nerds. No seriously, it’s a thing.

            Report

            • Medals like the Purple Heart are earned via action. Why does it really matter if someone wears a particular hairstyle? I mean it maybe one thing if they are doing it to be disrespectful but if the local stoners want dreads, who cares? Am I a bad person if I go out for Mexican on cinco de mayo?

              Report

            • I’ve always thought the same about including gay characters on tv shows. They are “gay characters” whose being gay define them, as opposed to characters that happen to be gay and yet their role in the show is not their gayness, but their expertise in spionage, agriculture, banking or something.

              The only show I can think of that achieved that is ABC’s otherwise meh “The Family”, where the FBI agent (played by Mathew Lawler) casually remarks that his husband raises bees as a relaxing mechanism (and brings a couple of honey jars as a present). Being gay is not relevant to the character, and is never discussed (but, realistically, people do stare at him for a couple of seconds after the mention of the husband)

              Report

              • J_A,
                Torchwood wasn’t too terrible about having people “be gay” and yet do their job.
                Same with The Wire, actually. (And that one dropped “oh, and he’s gay” on a guy’s head, well, well after they painted him as a cold hard asshole).

                Report

              • I think there is a middle ground between making minority status utterly incidental to the point of triviality and centering it. For example, the fact I’m trans makes difference in my life. I cannot easily travel the same ways a cis person can. My social circles are limited in some ways. Honestly, I get a lot of bullshit public harassment. People stare at me. They say shit. If you put someone like me in a movie, that stuff should be there.

                When I talk about making transness “incidental,” I mean in the sense that my transness is not the center of the plot, nor my purpose in the narrative. In other words, don’t try to explore the subtle boundaries of gender. That’s too hard. It’s deeply personal. If you’re cis, you probably have nothing new to say on the topic, nothing insightful —

                — unless you do, but then it will be “cis thoughts” from a cis perspective. If you try to map those ideas onto a trans character you end up producing Hedwig. Avoid that.

                That said, a cis person should have little trouble understanding the material implications of a trans life. With a little research, you can learn the sorts of challenges we face. If you make a character trans, at least some of that ought to be present, while at the same time we play a role in the story other than being “merely trans.”

                I dunno. On the other hand, it wouldn’t mind an “aspirational” show, where transness was indeed absolutely no big deal, where a cool trans actor played a cool character and I could say, “Oooo, that person is like me.” I can see that working in a “speculative fiction” model, much like how Star Trek handled race.

                There are many cool stories that have not yet been told. I wish I was a good writer.

                Report

                • v,
                  You only get better at writing by working at it. Seriously, write anything.

                  And, believe it or not, most TV writers ain’t much good at it either. You think Martin is trying to procrastinate on those books of his? He’s stuck, and can’t write himself a way out.

                  And there are plenty of editors out there to help you get better. Just learn to write concisely.

                  *Yes, I may be biased. But if you can read about Old Man Henderson and aren’t in awe, I feel sad for you.

                  Report

            • Obvious cases are, you know, obvious. If (to borrow a link from notme) Chanel was marketing a $1000 boomerang with gold inlay aboriginal art, yeah, I’d call that appropriation (although I can imagine a few acceptable scenarios). But the boomerang itself, that’s a hard sell, since you can buy the damn things, in various forms, all over. Same with, say, a tomahawk, that is devoid of any cultural link to Native Americans.

              Along the same vein, something like dreadlocks on a white kid is tricky. Perhaps he lived in a Rastafarian culture, or some other culture where dreadlocks are common (Rastafarians aren’t the only culture to have dreadlocks). Or, closer to me, one of my aunts by marriage is Native American, so my cousins are half. Can’t tell by looking at them unless you know what you are looking for, and so they’ve both had more than their fair share lately of such accusations when expressing parts of their culture.

              Ergo, sometimes it’s obvious, but I expect most times, people making such accusations lack sufficient information to make such an accusation, and should probably just shut the hell up.

              #####

              Characters – See, that’s the kind of thing you learn by, you know, talking to a person who is trans.

              Report

            • Cultural appropriation is our culture. Westerners didn’t invent the Old and New Testaments, we stole them. Then we turned around and stole Christmas from the pagans. We adopt the best ideas we encounter, along with quirky ones that amuse us.

              If we can’t wear Indian headdresses then why can they wear baseball caps? Why can they drive trucks? Why do we let black people fly in airplanes? We do we all drink on St. Patrick’s Day?

              I’ll take cultural appropriation seriously when all the minorities give up indoor plumbing and electricity.

              Report

              • Remember, cultural appropriation is not something you aren’t allowed to do on pain of arrest. It’s something you are rightly considered an asshole for doing.

                Is a baseball cap a sacred vestment, such that seeing it worn inappropriately is upsetting? No, it is a hat with a sun visor on the front.

                Are aboriginal people wearing baseball caps to make the holy baseball players into objects of ridicule or sexual objectification? No, they are wearing them to keep the sun out of their eyes, same as white people.

                You want to wear moccasins and a beaded jacket you are welcome to, because those are simply garments.

                There are things from dominant white Christian culture that a person might rightly be considered an asshole for wearing – say, a slutty nun costume. That’s much more equivalent than your silly examples of indoor plumbing and baseball caps.

                Arabs aren’t upset we use their numerals either.

                Report

                • So native Americans aren’t allowed to become Catholic priests because the vestments are sacred to white people? Should we tell them they’re assholes for singing “Amazing Grace”?

                  Should we also prohibit non-English from flying iconic fighter planes like the Spitfire? Isn’t it cultural appropriation for a Brit to fly a Messerschmitt Bf109?

                  Should we ban people who’s parents or grandparents weren’t here in WW-II from celebrating veterans day, VE day, or other such holidays, or should we just beat them up if they show their faces at a parade?

                  And what do we do about Muslims who celebrate Christmas? Cruise missile strikes?

                  Report

                    • The best argument for cultural appropriation as an idea as how pitiful the counter-arguments are.

                      Like, surely, if it’s as silly as all that, people could do a better job refuting it, right?

                      Report

                    • If you want to see a good Poe in action, look at some of “daniel”‘s work in the Slackktivist comment section sometime.

                      He makes it look effortless. Our George tries too hard sometimes, like Mel Brooks or Leslie Nielsen late in their careers.

                      Report

                    • So you think Hemingway was an asshole for writing “Old Man and the Sea”?

                      What about Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Arthur Miller, Harold Robbins, J.D. Salinger, Scott Turow, Herman Wouk, Joseph Heller, Woody Allen, as Isaac Asimov? Where they assholes because they wrote about gentiles, or did their writing just suck because they couldn’t understand gentiles?

                      This “cultural appropriation” nonsense is an absurdly stupid and racist idea from bad writers trying to justify their bad writing and poor critical thinking skills.

                      Report

                      • This would be a better argument if the writers in question didn’t have a lot of knowledge of the gentiles they were writing about. Heller knew the war, Hemingway knew the people he wrote about, etc. It’s when you write in badly stereotyped ways about people you don’t’ know about that the criticism comes. Which is completely fair.

                        Report

                        • And, of course, if your characters are bad stereotypes, it’s generally going to be a sign that the writing isn’t very good. It’s not necessarily an insurmountable problem for a work as a whole (few books, even books very much worth reading, are flawless), but still a sign that things could have been done better.

                          This seems to be a good time to reiterate my lament that “problematic” seems to have rapidly come to mean “irreparably awful”.

                          Report

                        • It doesn’t matter if they have a lot of knowledge of gentiles, the Jews are “culturally appropriating” by writing gentile characters. The SJW argument is can be reduced to the idea that it is proper for me, as a Christian, to be greatly offended when a Jew dares to write Christian characters. So let’s unleash the outrage brigades on Larry David and Seinfeld, and the thousands and thousands of brilliant Jewish writers. They should only be allowed to write about Jewish stuff, from a Jewish perspective.

                          We should also, of course, condemn all authors whose works were filled with different ethnicities because the author could only authentically represent one. The whole WW-II genre of an outfit with a Texan, a Mexican, a farm boy, a Jewish kid, and an Italian from the Bronx needs to be soundly condemned.

                          Well I flatly reject that stance.

                          We also don’t need to encourage writers based on race and ethnicity because they all have pencils, and now laptops, and they all have stories to tell. We’ve never tried to keep them from writing. We’ve never avoided buying their books. Scalzi is buying into the liberal outrage that somehow these people have been black listed. They haven’t, and focusing on the author’s race is more racist than focusing on their writing. Great writers are great writers, and liberals act like they just discovered that blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Jews can write, and write well, and they can write stories that don’t have anything to do with their background.

                          The only people who were trying to limit authors were people like Scalzi, who didn’t want white conservative males writing science fiction.

                          Report

                          • LOL…..the problem is you really are arguing against stereotypes, not the actual arguments. I’ve read all those sci fi writers hullaballo…Scalizi is not against male conservative sci fi writers.

                            People can write whatever they want. If they write bad stereotypes of groups they know nothing about that is completely fair criticism. If you want to write about groups other than you own you should find out about them so you don’t’ screw it up. That really is pretty simple.

                            Report

                            • Finding out about “groups” is part of the problem. They should instead find out about people. And they should quit trying to write “good stereotypes” of groups. Just chuck the stereotype thing in the bucket.

                              Take Star Trek or Star Gate. I assume their writers “found out” about Native Americans and have been writing them ever since as primitive, backwards, sweat-lodge hallucinating simpletons – who somehow have moral purity because they’re in touch with the Earth. Heck, Star Trek presents Native American Star Fleet officers as if they’d somehow been living in a teepee in the 1840’s until they got to Star Fleet academy, as if 400 years of modernity just bounced right off them.

                              We get movies about Navaho code talkers, which is well and good, but without anyone in Hollywood seeming to know that one of our fleet admirals in the Pacific was Native American (Jocko Clark), as was the first US general killed in the air, Major General Tinker, for whom Tinker Air Force Base is named. They even made a show about Pappy Boyington (Baa Baa Black Sheep) without mentioning that Pappy was Sioux. The commander of the USS Johnston, which was sunk leading Taffy 3 against the Japanese fleet in the battle of Leyte Gulf, was Cherokee and Creek.

                              Those were great men with great stories, and trying to reduce them by writing “better stereotypes” isn’t going to produce good writing, or really anything good at all.

                              Report

                              • What the hell are you talking about??? Who said anything about writing good stereotypes? Find out about the people you are writing about and avoid bad stereotypes. That is pretty damn simple and i’m sure somehow you will argue with it.

                                Report

                                • Yes, I will find something to argue with.

                                  Say I meet you in a bar and we get to talking, and become friends for a while, and I get the idea to write a book based on you and what we talked about. That could turn out pretty well, because I have a mental model of who you are based on our interactions, so I can guess at what you’d do in a situation, and write something about how you think. Your basic character in a story just like the way other characters end up in other stories.

                                  But then I find out you came from some particular background, perhaps West Virginia or California. Instead of writing about the you that I know, where I have a pretty good mental model, I start trying to explain you in terms of a bunch of stereotypes I have about West Virginians or Californians.

                                  Since bad me wants to “accurately” represent them (not you), and will research the Hatfields and McCoys for West Virginia and perhaps Charles Manson or some hippie commune for California. I’ll turn you into a caricature because now I’m trying to so some kind of justice to a broad swath of people who I misunderstand, because I’m focused on groups instead of a person, or people.

                                  A better approach would be to write about people as they are, or as they present themselves, and if all of the people I’m writing about happen to be West Virginians because I know a bunch of West Virginians, then the story might work.

                                  But I don’t have to be a West Virginian to do that. I just have to know a few of them pretty well, or realize that the particular ones I’m writing about are pretty much like Eastern Kentuckians, who I do know very well.

                                  I’ll also add that the only bad stereotypes are ones not based on experience. (Did you get your Indian stereotypes from John Wayne movies?)

                                  Stereotypes that are based on experience tend to be quite accurate. Our brains are wired like that, and the accuracy of stereotypes is one of the most confirmed things in psychology.

                                  A good writer can write a wide range of characters, male and female, with a range of backgrounds, while leaving you unable to guess the author’s own sex or background.

                                  Sometimes they leave tells, such as The Hunger Games focus on clothing and not knowing that you don’t “shoot” an arrow, you loose it. Or the Biblical J author’s tells that indicate the core of the Old Testament was written by a woman.

                                  Report

                                  • Sure write about people, nobody is arguing against that. But if that person has some aspects you know nothing about, you should find a lot about them before diving in. If not you are likely to write poorly about those characteristics. And if you end up using bad stereotypes don’t’ whine about it. If you didn’t’ do your homework that is on you.

                                    Report

            • Lol, and you picked “genius psychic computer hacker being chased by government agents” for no reason at all.

              I have to watch the second season.

              Ta-Nehisi Coates, in this discussion of Dear White People says this:

              There’s a long tradition of black folks pleading with white people. It’s a tradition that emerges from political necessity, so I get it; I’m just not very interested in it.

              and this

              Nearly everything revolves around racism and the pariah-like feelings it inspires. The show is much less concerned with the interior lives of black people. Is there a single scene of a black party in the series? There is a black sorority, but is there a single step show? Even the communal amusement—like the parody of Scandal—revolves around the relationship with white power.

              I just watched the recent film of August Wilson’s Fences with Denzel and Viola Davis. It had the quality that Coates is reaching for and that you are, I think, describing. It isn’t about racism, it isn’t about the struggle, it’s just about people. People who aren’t quite the same, but aren’t really all that different, either.

              Report

            • Scalzi is wrong, as always.

              It’s writing. Race doesn’t matter. Ethnicity doesn’t matter. Only the thought processes of the human brain matters. To write people well, you have to understand people really well. To claim that white people can’t understand non-white people is incredibly racist, just as racist as saying that non-whites can’t understand white people, probably because they just don’t have the inherent intellect to think like a white person.

              Many “woke” writers don’t understand people very well at all, and their characters are either a carbon copy of how they think, or a copy of how they believe everyone should think, opposed against two-dimensional cardboard cutouts of conservatives, who are all of course simple-minded, greedy, evil and bigoted.

              A writer needs experience and imagination, but Scalzi’s stance implies they simply recite events from their racial perspective.

              Report

              • George you are missing the point. It’s not that we white people don’t have the brain power to understand non-white people. That isn’t Scalzi’s claim. It’s that we don’t have the frame of reference to do so. The mere fact of skin color gives you a different set of experiences in America. As a white person, I never got those experiences, I shouldn’t assume I know all about them, and their impact, that’s all.

                Having those experiences gives you associations, which activate feelings, which operate at a very low level of the brain, and it’s the (fiction) writer’s job to fish these things out of the subconscious and put them on the page.

                That said, people have a lot in common, and a black writer, for instance August Wilson, can write a play or three about black people that would be both something I could never have written, and something that I can connect to very viscerally. (I cried through most of it. Because I identified)

                Writing isn’t math. There isn’t an answer you can sit down and calculate.

                Report

                • Scalzi is still wrong. A black person might write a story you wouldn’t have thought of, but that’s not because you can’t write a black protagonist as well as anyone else, just as a black writer can write a white protagonist as well as anyone.

                  In Scalzi’s view, a Jewish New Yorker couldn’t have written A Catcher in the Rye because he’s not Southern and didn’t grow up in the South or with Southern whites or Southern blacks. But that’s what happened.

                  Suppose you were writing a story about a slave in the deep South in the 1830’s. To do that, it would be useful to read lots of period writings and accounts. It wouldn’t be useful to hang out with Dr. Dre, and it wouldn’t be helpful to assert that only black people could authentically write about slavery – because they haven’t been slaves any more than you have. Similarly, Polish, Armenian, and Black Americans can write Elizabethan costume dramas just as well as someone named Aldous P. Wigginbotham III.

                  Report

          • Oscar,
            Tranniebaiting is a good reason to assume malice, even if it is in the service of profit or actual noble goals (“Stop catering to the 1%! This is art, Dammit!”).

            Malice aforethought is a good term for microaggressions. The very concept is toxic. Kinda like how “having allies” sounds good… in theory. But if you go to classes on “How to Make Allies” you learn that they are classes in how to neuter people and reduce their free thought into “You Must Listen To Me, I know Better Than You.”

            Because people have different experiences, sure. But that doesn’t mean that if I can out think you, that I need to listen to your arguments. Particularly not if they start with intentional, blatant lies.

            Report

      • I agree with this I have been trying to operationalize the concept. I am certain that there is definitely something undesirable there. At the same time, I study a martial art that was created by a Japanese-American man based on what he learned in Hawaii from a Chinese guy, and in Japan on a visit he made there. He taught white people, so that was a decision.

        We dress in traditional costumes and use (and mispronounce!) Japanese words for a lot of different stuff. And we bow to a portrait of our founder every class, and do our best to pass along what he taught us. That respect seems important. What we do is not the result of casual contact, nor are we changing the meaning of what we do to something other than what he intended. These things also seem important.

        Report

        • So is this cultural appropriation then?

          Among those activities [at a student block party] was an attraction in which students could dress in sumo suits and wrestle each other. The activity immediately drew criticism from members of the student body, who accused ASUCD of fat shaming and culturally appropriating Japanese culture.

          LINK

          I think labeling this as appropriation assumes way too much power in Tom Foolery, and I know Tom very well.

          EDIT: I should add that some of the complaints turned out to be bogus trolling, but ASUCD apologized for the harm it caused.

          Report

          • Yep. It’s thoughtless and clownish. It takes the meaning of something (sumo as sport and a tradition) and with only a bare understanding of that something turns it into something else, a caricature.

            That they aren’t making fun of Japanese people isn’t beside the point, it is the point. It turns Japanese people and traditions into set dressing for white people.

            But if you changed those “sumo suits” into “Michelin Man suits” it would be fine. Dress up as a tire. Tires don’t care. Tires are things. People are not things.

            I would prefer discussion and sunshine to banning, as an approach to dealing with this sort of thing, though.

            Westerners can totally go to Japan, join a stable and do sumo and be respected by their stable mates, their opponents, and the fans. They just have to do the thing, not play at doing the thing.

            Report

          • But is it okay for non-Satanists to write death metal? Aren’t Black Sabbath and Judas Priest culturally appropriating from one of the most disadvantaged and oppressed groups in European history?

            And what about those European college students who throw “America parties” by serving cheap beer in red Solo cups, just like they see in all the American movies about college. Am I supposed to take offense at that? Must I demand that European college students switch back to Octoberfest steins?

            Report

      • In addition, there’s lots of overlap. In fact, I think you can create subsets/subgenres of one of them by including one or more of the others.

        I know it works that way for porn, at least.

        Report

    • Re: M4, it seems to be rooted in a legitimate dispute over intellectual property and ownership, and that is one of the areas where I find claims of “cultural appropriation” most likely to be persuasive. So yeah, it sounds to me like the rabbi has a case.

      Pace , I think the big issue with “cultural appropriation” is less that it’s, “I know it when I see it,” and more that it lumps together a bunch of disparate things, a few of which are bad and most of which are benign. Then people try to build sets of rules about things, and the rules are bad because they prevent a bunch of benign things along with the bad things.

      Report

      • Cultural Appropriation arguments overlap with Intellectual Property arguments in interesting ways.

        The distinction, from a distance, seems to come down to the whole “where do rights originate?” question, specifically, in the “originate in the society” vs. “originate in the individual” distinction.

        If rights are seated in the individual, hey, Intellectual Property makes a lot of sense and Cultural Appropriation is downright nutty. If rights are seated in the society, Intellectual Property is downright nutty and Cultural Appropriation makes a lot of sense.

        As far as I can tell from here, anyway.

        Report

        • If rights are seated in the individual, hey, Intellectual Property makes a lot of sense and Cultural Appropriation is downright nutty. If rights are seated in the society, Intellectual Property is downright nutty and Cultural Appropriation makes a lot of sense.

          This seems basically correct. A lot of the difference is rooted in a perception that we as a nation talk a big game about individual rights but really only step up to defend some people’s individual rights when we assert them. This isn’t a remotely new observation (something something rich man sleeping under bridges), of course, but it creates a pretty stark divide nonetheless.

          Report

        • I think you’re giving way too much credit to the cultural appropriation side. The framing begs the question, what’s a society (or in this case culture), and who has authority to speak for it? I don’t think there’s any workable way to answer that question for purposes of adjudicating accusations of appropriation which is a large part of why it’s such an intellectually weak concept.

          Report

        • Yeah. There seems to be something like a euphemism treadmill, where people keep trying to come up with ways to discuss offensive behavior that arises out of ignorance or clumsiness, and then it becomes just another word for malicious behavior. Something similar seems to have happened with the use of “problematic” to describe works of art.

          Report

          • Yeah. When I read “X is problematic” I wonder, “Ok, what don’t you like about it?” Why not just tell me what the problem is rather than labelling it “problematic”.

            Report

        • It’s a tricky dynamic, tho, since all too often the argument appears to be this: since acting out of ignorance means you’re not woke and not wanting to be woke is a sign of malice, ignorance implies malice. Which collapses the distinction you’re highlighting.

          Report

    • When religions abandon the metaphysical, they become something of a social club but not a really fun one.

      Is a church that supports same sex marriage and celebrates them for congregants, more or less “metaphysical” than one that condemns homosexuality, fathers who spare the rod, and women who wear pants?

      Is a church that encourages people to help the needy, volunteer at homeless shelters, be compassionate with the addicted, more or less “metaphysical” than one that thunders in condemnation of the sin and degradation of drink and drugs, but doesn’t move a single person to help the addicted with anything more useful than unsolicited lectures and Chick tracts?

      Report

      • This is my point about the (studied?) confusion of “liberal theology” with politically liberal, in the modern American sense. Liberal theology is a genuine thing, but it is an outdated genuine thing. I have never once in my life heard it espoused by a clergyman, either from the pulpit or in private conversation. You can find the occasional outlier, but so what?

        Report

        • This is because, incidentally, Rod Dreher is a *complete and utter moron*. Just for future reference. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about with religion, but he doesn’t. At all.

          He is vaguely right that the ‘stricter’ a religion is, the better off it does as a religion, whereas the unstrict ones ended up watering themselves down to nothing. That premise *sorta* makes sense.

          But he *doesn’t* seem to understand that he is occupying one of *many different* possible theological positions. And thus he thinks that churches that have become ‘more liberal’ (Which, indeed, is not the correct *religious* term anyway) by accepting, say, homosexuality, are *not* following theological positions as much.

          When in reality most of them are just following *different* ones.

          But he completely fails to understand that while Christianity could, indeed, be ‘watered-down’ by accepting homosexuality if it’s just saying ‘Yeah, it’s sinful, but we don’t care’, Christianity could *also* accept homosexuality by saying ‘Jesus brought a new covenant and there is nothing very clear about homosexuality under that, and he was *really clear* about how we should treat people.’ and be just fine.

          Or, to put it another way, Christianity didn’t get watered down when it rejected dietary laws, because it didn’t say ‘Those rules are in effect, but we just don’t care’, but instead said ‘Those rules are *not* in effect anymore.’

          In fact, as I have *literally pointed out to him* (I used to post on some blog he had.), it’s people like *him* that are at risk to causing Christianity to get watered down, by insisting certain things (Which are actually pretty vague theologically!) are absolute facts, causing people go ‘Oh, sure Christianity Officially(TM) thinks that X is true, and we’re Christians, but we don’t care about X.’

          People give up on religions when religions refuse to change and reinterpret ‘the Rules’, and instead one group says ‘The Rules can never change!’, and then the rest of the people group idiotically believes them and decides the Rules don’t matter. The second group keeps slowly peeling off, abandoning the religion, and the first group keeps getting smaller and smaller and more and more wackadoo. (Or sometimes there’s a reformation, whatever.)

          Actual successful religions say ‘The Rules are still the Rules, it’s just that some of us were wrong about some of the Rules for a bit’, and everyone moves on.

          You know, like Christianity has *repeatedly done*, I say as I look around and see that literally everyone around me trims their sideburns despite being *explicitly barred* from doing so in Leviticus 9:27.

          Report

  2. The second link on W3 goes to the notifications tab on my twitter ap. Iirc here’s that story (a much weaker version of the FP story. And I don’t believe Mattis believes what BI has him saying in the fan fiction part – Mattis in my estimation believes the complete opposite of the notion that the Daesh fight should be put on the back burner and conducted more with proxies and 3 rail bank shots.)

    Report

  3. W4: Sanchez is right. Lots of people are focused on the whole collusion thing, because they’ve backsolved their way into believing that the Russians “stole the election.” And lots of people hate Trump so much that they don’t stop to question the logic of “he’s Putin’s puppet.” If Trump goes down, it will be because he obstructed the investigation. There will be no smoking gun that proves Trump made any kind of explicit or implicit deal with the Russians.

    There are lots of people who work in the areas of national security and international affairs who maintain professional and personal relationships with foreign nationals who also work in the areas of national security and international affairs. Those people have policy agendas and those people definitely work to get those agendas adopted by the U.S. government. The reason that most of these situations don’t become scandals is because either the folks involved are too minor to ever get noticed or they take the proper precautions to make sure that their actions never cross the line. The latter is generally what you would expect of professionals, especially ones working in situations that provide the proper incentives.

    Flynn likely crossed the line and possibly others in Trump’s inner circle or administration did as well. A properly functioning campaign/administration could have weeded those folks out. Unfortunately, this is not a properly functioning administration.

    Report

    • There will be no smoking gun that proves Trump made any kind of explicit or implicit deal with the Russians.

      I think Sanchez makes unwarranted assumptions about Trump and the people in his circle. I mean, it’s still unlikely, but it’s a lot more likely because Trump tends to run off at the mouth, say things on the record that are extremely damaging, and make insane promises that he seems to forget about in minutes. He also involved tools like Mike Flynn, Carter Page and Roger Stone in his campaign, and they seem to be the most tangled up with the Russia business.

      There are many reasons that this scandal feels like uncharted territory, but one important one is that many of the participants are weird, impulsive idiots.

      Report

      • One important aspect of the current administration is that these people are not very bright. The Republicans have been nominating not very bright people to high office for decades now, but they have had smarter people around them. Dick Cheney and the Imperial Vice Presidency is the obvious example. Cheney is evil, but not stupid. Trump is different. W was happy to outsource his brains. Trump is to insecure for that. If anyone in this administration is actually smart, he is being very careful to hide this.

        Congress is not much better. Ever since the Gingrich revolution the nomination process has prioritized fanatical devotion to the cause over actual ability.

        In a sense this is a natural consequence of Republican ideology. If a smart conservative honestly believes that the government is intrinsically incapable of achieving anything good, he is not likely to be tempted to join in. Better to devote his talents elsewhere, usually meaning some place he can make piles of money. The conservatives drawn to that sweet low-six-figures paycheck aren’t going to be the best and the brightest.

        This is how someone like Paul Ryan gets a reputation as a mastermind. The bar is set really low. That and he looks good in a suit.

        Report

      • To wit, the President is a blabbermouth and a sub-moron, so he says stuff like this…

        “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

        Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

        …to the goddamn Russian foreign minister.

        Report

        • Yeah, all his actions point directly at obstruction with a twist of collusion irrespective of what his subjectively held (necessarily opaque to us) motivations actually are. I have no doubt that there is no level of evidence sufficient for Trump to ever feel disgraced or culpable, but rather that the evidence only confirmed what he’d been saying all along: that he’s the victim of a witch-hunt, and the cuffs on his hands *prove* it.

          Report

    • If Trump goes down, it will be because he obstructed the investigation.

      This is it. I don’t think we’re ever going to see evidence of “collusion” or anything along those lines, partially because I don’t think Trump is really colluding so much as continuing his connections with a bunch of associates he picked up in the business world and doesn’t have the good sense (or ability) to discard for conflict of interest reasons. If I had to guess, I’d guess that he just owes money to and has close connections with a lot of unsavory foreign entities, which isn’t illegal (ignoring the Hail Mary of impeachment via the emoluments clause) but would look really bad. At worst, he’s not colluding so much as being used by people who are more sophisticated than he is.

      The energy that has gone into the cover up and the number of weird coincidences popping up strongly suggest to me that those entanglements that look bad will probably look really, really bad. But I bet if they’d just come out after the inauguration, there wouldn’t be anything actually illegal (or illegal enough that the Republican congress couldn’t overlook it). I mean, John McCain might go so far as to say he’s “troubled” but that and a dollar will get you a Diet Coke from a vending machine.

      Report

      • I largely agree, with one point of emphasis: everything we know about Trump to this point, and that includes the past thirty years or so of his public life and business practices, suggests that the reason he’s obstructing the investigation as it pertains to him personally could be something so trivial as that it will reveal information which runs counter to his public persona, ie., that it’s merely unflattering, and therefore, the mechanism by which that evil info would be attained must be crushed (as fundamentally evil, at least from Trump’s pov.

        I (personally) have no doubt at this point that Trump has received financing from very unsavory, downright corrupt entities abroad, and that he’s engaged in laundering dark money thru myriad layers of shell companies and other such stuff. Whether or not any of those activities would rise to the level of illegality is sorta irrelevant wrt why Trump, a person fixated to generally destructive degree, would view that type of information coming to light as threatening. For Trump to win, in this context. he must crush people or mechanisms which threaten to undermine his (deluded, in my view) perception that the public views him as a winner. Really, at the end of the day, I think the most compelling accounts of Trump’s wildly irrational behavior will be psychological rather than institutional.

        I also think it’s entirely possible that he’s colluding with the Russians in the second sense of your term: that he’s an unwitting dupe in a game he’s too self-absorbed and stupid to understand. I also think it’s very possible that his advisers/staff, knowing these facts about him, may be far less innocent re: collusion than he is. Flynn, for example. And Manafort. The list could get longer.

        Report

        • The enduring paradox of Trump for me – how a guy that seems not to be at all ‘details oriented’ manages to keep juggling all the balls in the air for the convoluted financial flowchart that’s he surrounded himself with for at least 25 years now.

          Report

          • He didn’t have to know the details, that is what his people were there for. It also helps that he was in the same business for decades so some details and knowledge will have filtered in many years ago. Other than that his role has been branding and PR for 20+ years at this point. He hasn’t had to know stuff. He makes the pitch and lets the staff do the details.

            Report

            • gregiank:
              He didn’t have to know the details, that is what his people were there for.

              Right, but the other part of the paradox is that he doesn’t necessarily surround himself with the best people, rather a preference for family and sycophants. That ‘the staff’, such as it is, has managed to keep the financial jalopy running as long as it has is also kinda amazing.

              Report

              • I’d guess that powerful name recognition and being very rich mean just having good enough people is just fine. Kushner is supposed to be pretty smart. As far as his dealing in NY and AC having long standing relationships with people can go a long way. Also if he does more than just slap his brand on stuff he is developing projects and then letting other own and run them. He’s out pretty soon so he doesn’t actually have to run things. He failed to run licenses to print money when he owned them in AC.

                Report

          • I figured guys like him are careful to insulate themselves from over-detailed financial information, so they can never be pinned down for money laundering and whatnot.

            Report

    • Lots of people are focused on the whole collusion thing, because they’ve backsolved their way into believing that the Russians “stole the election.”

      I think it is entirely possible that someone *on Trump’s team* was in contact with Russia during the election. Roger Stone, for example, seems to have somehow *known* about emails being leaked.

      I am not sure if there was any quid qua pro, and I would have assumed there wasn’t *except* for that incredibly odd alteration of the RNC’s platform. But this could have just as easily been extremely pro-Russian Trump people doing favors for Russia, and Russia knows where the pro-Russia people are and does favors for them, and no one can prove ‘collusion’.

      And I’m not sure what the legal line of ‘collusion’ is, or why we’re ever using that word. At this point, we have two groups of people, basically half of the Trump campaign on one side and Russia on the other, who are doing favors for each other, and apparently in constant communication with each other, and keeping each other up to date, and I’m not sure what else we’re trying to prove here. What do we even need to prove? What do people think a smoking gun looks like here?

      I am unsure why ‘Keeps surrounding himself with pals of foreign gangsters, installing them into the government, protecting them, refuses to let anyone look into links those people have with the gangsters…and those gangsters keep doing illegal things that help him’ is not, *itself*, an impeachable offense!

      Maybe that’s not enough for a conviction in a court of law, but…impeachment isn’t that, and this absurdly inappropriate behavior for a president if there ever was!

      (This is on top of *other* absurdly inappropriate behavior, like meeting people who paid to meet him at his own for-profit private club, or having government staff shill for his companies, and, honestly, I’m just too damn *tired* to list all the completely absurd behaviors of the Trump administration.)

      And lots of people hate Trump so much that they don’t stop to question the logic of “he’s Putin’s puppet.”

      I can’t even figure out how this is supposed to work. Trump is clearly not working for Putin, guys. If he were, he’d have *told us*. He’s be doing the greatest work for Putin ever! Really good stuff!

      Seriously, guys, Trump doesn’t know about any of this. He wasn’t part of it, and he didn’t know after the fact. He can’t know! No sane conspiracy would let Trump in on *anything*.

      If Trump goes down, it will be because he obstructed the investigation.

      I’ll take that bet.

      I bet it will be something *even stupider*. Perhaps he will blurt out some classified information on TV, and get people killed.

      And there is always the nightmare scenario: An actual disaster of some sort happens.

      A properly functioning campaign/administration could have weeded those folks out. Unfortunately, this is not a properly functioning administration.

      It is, indeed, a properly *non*-functioning administration. It is a shining example of failing to function for all to see. It has literally everything that could possibly go wrong with it happening, except, perhaps, the White House is *not* entirely full of snakes.

      Oh, oh, wait, I want to change my bet about how Trump will go down. It’s now: White House accidentally gets filled with snakes on Trump’s orders.

      EDIT: To clarify, I mean *actual* snakes, not metaphorical snakes.

      Report

  4. Speaking of Rod Dreher he was profiled in the New Yorker recently:

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/01/rod-drehers-monastic-vision

    It strikes me that he is stuck between worlds. If the profile is true, he is a rejected son. Rejected because he did not fit into country culture of manly manliness. Rejected by his father and sister and mother for being into books and movies and getting paid too much for writing about such things.

    This is an age old fight in his article though. It seems true enough to a point but not quite. There are plenty of people in San Francisco and Berkeley that are really liberal and religious.

    Report

  5. T1: The link goes to a story about why there’s so much empty space in the observable universe. I fail to see how flipphones enter that discussion, but it’s early and I’ve had no caffeine.

    Report

  6. C2: Were this in the US, it would be perfectly straightforward: attractive, white, at a prestige school. I have no problem imagining a judge, or even a DA, finding some way to cut her some slack. I suspect that had we genealogical information about Miss Lavinia Woodward, it would turn out to be quite posh.

    There was a case a few years ago where some guy did, IIRC, a hit-and-run, was charged with a felony, then the DA reduced the charge upon discovering the guy had a job in finance that he would lose if convicted of a felony. There are limits, but the connected get protected.

    Report

  7. T1: The flip phone is my present. It isn’t nostalgia. It is because I don’t see how the benefit to me of a smart phone would justify its cost. My phone and the minutes cost me essentially spare change. I carry my Kindle around much of the time, but it is quite specifically a Paperwhite for its superior display technology. A smart phone would be both more expensive and decidedly inferior for my purposes.

    The phone in the linked piece seems to be a smart phone with a tiny screen, with the flip configuration a way to increase usable space. I can actually kind of see it, if having something that fits comfortably in a shirt pocket is the important criterion.

    Report

  8. T5: Yes. However, you may not like what the AIs do with our world. We would like to note that AIs currently have trouble distinguishing between “We Wrote A Plan For This” and “This Has Already Occurred”…

    Report

  9. C2: I am not so sure. There has been plenty of outrage at well to do people getting light or no punishments for serious crimes. Remember affluenza boy? Or the Stanford guy convicted of rape?

    Plus European courts generally give out less draconian punishments

    Report

    • The young woman is conventionally attractive to, which helps. Privileged people can pay for better lawyers and will have more facts around them that invoke sympathy, especially if they are young, hot, and gifted.

      Report

      • I think we are just so used to calling for blood and over emotionalizing everything in this country that leniency of any kind comes as a shock. Further googling says the ‘stabbing’ was with a bread knife (not exactly a fearsome weapon, it may not have even broke the skin) and that she threw some stuff. It’s definitely immature and dumb conduct but I don’t think it merits jail time. I think it says a lot about our culture that our natural reaction is to think it does.

        Report

          • I get that but it strikes me as a great example of the whole privilege cult failing to distinguish between ‘privilege’ we want to end and ‘privilege’ we want to spread. The solution isn’t to start dropping the hammer on the well to do and advantaged to even the score, it’s to stop being so keen to drop the hammer generally, and to extend the same benefit of the doubt to the poor and marginalized.

            Report

              • Depends on how you look at history. I’ll take our justice system, warts, inequities, and all of it over what passed for justice not so long ago in the story of mankind, or even in this country.

                Report

            • This is right on. We have a word for the sort of thing that (say) “not getting hassled by cops as you go about your daily business” is, and that word isn’t “privilege”. Conflating rights with special treatment is… not going to help anybody in the long run.

              Report

        • This goes back to questions of journalistic bias and sensationalism. (Doesn’t everything?) I should know more about the severity of the crime before judging the outcome of the case. I googled her name and the first ten links were the usual suspects for an English story: BBC, The Sun, The Independent, The Guardian, The Telegraph. All have their biases. I don’t recall offhand which of the papers sides with whom, or how relatively sensationalist they are. I guess I’d be inclined to trust the BBC because the article doesn’t have anything to do with Israel.

          Report

          • The media is awful at reporting on cases and legal developments. Usually they latch on to some random fact or phrasing, often devoid of context, either because it’s lurid or increasingly because at face value it seems to affirm some SJW truism or another. Crucial details are buried on page 6 and don’t even make it into the click bait or 90 second cable news banter where most people hear about it.

            Report

  10. R6: Mastodon and mammoth fossils have been found in all 93 counties in Nebraska. The state museum in Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln used to have a massive collection of mammoth bones and tusks down in the basement, in addition to the full skeletons in the display area. When I was a student there, Morrill was on my way from most classes to the dorm, so if it was raining I would duck in for a while. At least at that time, you could just wander into the working areas down in the basement.

    Report

  11. R1: There’s plenty to agree and disagree with in this article. I think the overall premise is valid, that liberal Christianity is less equipped to perpetuate itself than conservative Christianity. I haven’t read the First Principles article that was linked to in the piece, but the concept of an anti-culture strikes me as insightful.

    I’m always cautious, like Richard is above, when people talk about the liberal-conservative axis with regard to religion. I’d prefer some definition of terms, which Dreher doesn’t provide. And actually, he could have done a lot to tighten up the article on a number of fronts. I think he’s using the term consistently, in reference to those people who are both believing Christians and American political liberals. But that deserves some extra reflection. When the Wesleyan Quadrilateral is cited by a commenter, shouldn’t we note that treating experience as a means for determining doctrine leaves the hen house unguarded? [ETA: Sorry if I got off on a tangent. I was thinking about the relationship between theological liberalism and American political liberalism, and it all makes perfect sense if you happened to be inside my skull at the time.]

    I see two big problems in this article, aside from that. First, the polling data cited at the beginning is more about the weaknesses in a liberal Christian movement, rather than liberal Christian belief or practice. Second, Dreher avoids discussion of the non-sexual tenets of modern American liberalism, specifically care for the poor. A person can be a liberal Christian as the article implicitly defines it and oppose abortion and homosexuality. By assuming that all liberal Christians are just gay-loving gay-lovers, he shuts down the dialogue.

    Report

    • I find little to agree with. I agree that socially conservative Christianity is currently popular (though if anyone thinks the bible-belters flooding their evangelical megachurches are in any way practicing the orthodox catholicism Dreher quotes to, they’re out to lunch). Church provides as useful a filter as any to feel superior to the various others that are left out in the cold by modern conservative politics. I also agree that liberal flight from organized religion involves an aversion to these types of churches.

      That said, my socially-liberal Presbyterian church is full of families and children and in no way resembles a mule. I like to think that’s because aspiring to be Christ-like (rather than Christian) leads one towards liberal values such as supporting the poor, healing the sick, and otherwise honoring the least of us. And, most importantly, to loving others. I very much hope the religious pendulum swings back that way.

      Report

  12. Checking the twitters… huh. Anthony Weiner is trending… no, he’s not dead. Huh. Looks like he’s pleading guilty to something or other and will have to register as a sex offender…

    For want of a nail…

    Report

  13. Wholly OT (which is odd for a post with no set topic, but more of a theme, though I suppose ‘OT’ can be read two ways …. ), but:

    Two headlines here, both from Dow Jones Newswires:

    U.S. Household Financial Health Improved in Recent Years

    23% of Adults Didn’t Expect to be Able to Pay All Current Month’s Bills in Full – Survey

    That’s pretty messed up.

    Report

    • U.S. Household Financial Health Improved in Recent Years

      23% of Adults Didn’t Expect to be Able to Pay All Current Month’s Bills in Full – Survey

      I read things like that and I wonder if the bottom stat is being taken out of context. Does it mean I won’t pay my credit card debt for tactical reasons, I need gov support for my rent, or I can’t pay my heat bill and it’s going to be turned off?

      Mass comparisons of income can be weird because you’re getting people at different life stages and can run into corner cases (my income has been negative which put me at the bottom of low income).

      Report

  14. C4: I’m an INTJ. This article doesn’t understand us at all. We’d never apologize for something like that! That’d be an INFJ. They probably wouldn’t have even thought it out in the first place.

    Report

Comments are closed.