Morning Ed: Society {2017.10.31.Tu}

[So1] I knew it!

[So2] Introducing the Japanese Halloween Trains. {More}

[So3] Dan Wang looks at the Girardian politics of Game of Thrones. Even though it’s on a different subject (ingroup/outgroup), it actually complements or is complemented by Scott Alexander’s ingroup/outgroup and togas/party/class pieces.

[So4] This is actually good news for people opting out of cable. While I still think there are savings either way, there’s no doubt in my mind that cable providers are helping keep streaming substitutes as cheap as they are.

[So5] Internet sleuths are good, but not necessarily good enough to find a guy who doesn’t exist.

[So6] I haven’t seen some of these, agree that others are messed up, but on the whole I thought Fat Daphne was a pretty clever response to the actress getting pregnant.

[So7] VICE goes to a gathering of dummies.

[So8] I always assumed that comics would say “Continued after the next page” because back then the medium was newer and you had to explain things more, but it turns out it was related to the genesis of advertising in comic books.

[So9] Sure, just give cancer patients another obligation.

[So0]


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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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63 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2017.10.31.Tu}

  1. [So2] Sounds like the original train events were more fun.

    [So4] I’m still poking around on this subject. As of now, it looks like I might save 50 bucks a month going to streaming, but I’ve gotta review the channels a bit more, and figure out my “unbundled” internet costs from the provider. That may make things close enough to not bother switching.

    [So0] That kid should have executed a take down and put the guy into an arm-bar or choke. My instructor does “bully safe” for kids. Never understood the part of the curriculum where the bully is submitted and the bullied says “are you going to stop bullying me?” until the bully agrees. Just break the arm, or choke him until he blacks out………..

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    • My son fought back in 4th grade when a bully choked him …and got a 2 day suspension for fighting.

      Apparently choking someone on the playground ‘as a joke’ is ok, but if the kid being choked doesn’t feel like it’s a joke and throws a punch to get free it’s not.

      I called the principal and complained. Loudly. The only response was to put the other kid on suspension too.

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      • I hope your son got some ice cream after that, or some other kind of ‘atta boy’.

        I was bullied horribly as a kid, my son will never be told not to stand up for himself or others, I don’t care how often he gets suspended.

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        • He got his mother’s full and unequivocal support. And I took him to the movies one of the days he was home.

          I was bullied too and got him into karate in kindergarten so he’d be able to defend himself. The fact that he absorbed the ‘no using this outside the dojo unless you absolutely have to’ so fully that this was the first time he had ever thrown a punch at school despite a lot of incidents of shoving and verbal taunting says a lot for his self-control.

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        • My mom wanted my dad to teach my brother and me how to “fight properly” (like: fistfighting) to deal with bullies.

          My dad, knowing how schools were going even back then, refused.

          Not that it would have helped me a lot; girl-bullying, at least in those days, was more psyops than it was hand-to-hand: rumors, exclusion, gaslighting, things that sounded like compliments to adults but were designed to twist the knife….

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      • Somehow we seem to have lost our way on working out these issues with kids. I remember in elementary school I got into a fight with a kid a year older who was picking on me. The principal flipped out on us both and said we had to sit in a room together every recess until Christmas. I don’t remember how early in the year this occurred, but I think it was about a 6 week sentence. Around the 4 week mark it became apparent we no longer hated each other and the principal said ‘merry Christmas’ and we were free to go. I’d be lying if I said we became the best of friends after that but we got on well enough that we never had another issue.

        I mention this not because I think it’s the right solution for every incident but because there was some discretion exercised by the administrator to address the actual problem. I get the impression now that there’s sort of a bureacratic response designed to avoid litigation. It’s where you get these stories of kids being punished for defending themselves and cops called to schools for disciplinary problems. The caveat to my personal experience is that it occurred in Catholic school. I noticed a lot more zero tolerance when I was in public school later in life.

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  2. So2: The Japanese are engaged in a heinous act of cultural appropriation and what is worse is that they are making Halloween cute. Even little American kids know that Halloween is supposed to be scary and not cute. Come on Japan, you do horror well. Get in the spirit of the holiday.

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  3. So4: I cut the cord years ago. Price was certainly a consideration, but really it was the realization that about 90% of my viewing was Netflix and Hulu anyway. Why pay a gob of money for something I was hardly using?

    So much depends on your particular viewing habits, though. I care nothing for sports nor am I hung up on watching anything else the moment it’s first aired, so the decision was relatively easy for me to make. YMMV.

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  4. So2- Wang is spot on about how the Targaryens, by being so far above the rest of Westeros society, both figuratively and literally, were able to keep the (relative) peace for many years. It’s the same way a superpower prevents this mimetic destructive competetition between long time rival nations.

    I don’t think he’s right about mimetic competition being the downfall of Robert, nor more generally, that there is a sharp distinction between a mimetic competitive threat and an existential one. Robert was undone in part by jealously, true, and by third party actors who wanted to elevate their own status – which is the classic mimetic motivation. But he was also undone by people that (correctly) thought that the airing of a secret would pose an existential threat, and thus were willing to do whatever it took to keep that secret a secret.

    The mimetic fight between two peer rivals almost always becomes existential, whether its the Capulets/Montagues, the Lannisters/Starks, or the USA/USSR. Particularly if one party in that feud has had a recent brush with an event that almost ended their way of life. The world Tywin Lannister grew up in, the Lannisters were a joke, and were it not for the skill and extensive efforts of Tywin, would have been replaced as a Great House in his generation. (similarly, part of the reason the USSR was more than slightly paranoid in the late 20th century was that the Nazis had nearly destroyed it in the mid century).

    Last, I think he’s right in his analysis of Show Snow’s death. Book Snow’s death, on the other hand, has sufficiently different details (e.g. Ser Alliser Thorne is not present, Ollie doesn’t even exist, and the Pink Letter) which creates a subtly different dynamic that makes the death more understandable, though no less tragic (but definitely Shakesperean – Martin is clearing riffing on Juilius Caesar’s stabbing)

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  5. So4- Cut the cord about 4 years ago, the only thing I miss is sports. That said, I want to watch the Cougars beat up the Beavers, I go down to a bar here in town. Or watch it online! (Though that site is misnamed, as it should be the PAC 8…

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  6. So0: Remember the crapstorm that saying something like “man, I wish football wasn’t political” used to get before we created sufficient negative reinforcement to get people to stop saying that sort of thing out loud?

    Man, I can’t wait to yell at the person who says “I just want a dang burger, I don’t want to be part of some weird (and probably unethical) social experiment.”

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  7. So6: I guess I don’t watch that much TV, because I don’t remember all that many of these. But one thing struck me: #25 sounds pretty much dead-on accurate for how the situation would play out at the time. Is it different now? I know a man whom I suspect to have had the same thing happen to him. I don’t think it’s different now. If you don’t feel good about the situation, that means the drama is working as intended. You aren’t supposed to like it.

    I mean, good lord, characters who always do exactly the right thing are kind of boring. Even Supergirl pulls some dumbass stunts in Season 2.

    People are terrible. They are also wonderful, but if you constantly insist on looking away from how terrible they are, you won’t get a chance to help them.

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    • Yes, its a little known fact that Martin Luther only nailed the 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral as a trick because the Bishop didn’t hand out sugar coated communion wafers. Like many childhood pranks, things got out of hand quickly and soon you had Europe up in the flames of religious war because other kids took the trick seriously.

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    • If I were a dude, I’d have seriously considered dressing as Luther for hallowe’en (perhaps even tonsure and all…)

      Instead, I dressed as Marie Curie, which was apparently too close to my normal mode of dress, because no one batted an eye. Not even at the glow-stick in a test tube labeled “Radium”

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      • I went as Raver Jesus. At least it was generally recognized as a costume.

        I am somewhat constrained in costume choices, unless I want to radically change my appearance for years afterward, to always be dressed as, “WASP Jesus dressed as (thing).” I have foresworn any costume that covers my head, because those costumes inevitably end up within the first half hour as “man wearing a mask on top of his head” – so hiding the many hairs of my head is out.

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    • As I grow ever older, I’m beginning to suspect that the whole “Great Man Theory of History” is, to some extent, bunkum.

      Sure, we can look at Luther as being a spark that started a great fire, but the problem is all that tinder piled up. Out of the 95 Theses, I understand that the Catholic Church adopted, like, more than 85 of them. You know what would not have set the world on fire? Martin Luther hammering the 12 Theses to the Wittenberg Door.

      If it wasn’t Luther, someone else would have created enough friction to light the tinder. There were a *LOT* of princes and a *LOT* of kings and a *LOT* of merchants and a *LOT* of peasants. Something was going to give eventually.

      Luther was a spark.
      But he was not the fuel.

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      • Speaking of 12 Theses…

        One group of Lollards petitioned Parliament with The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards by posting them on the doors of Westminster Hall in February 1395.

        From Wiki:

        The first conclusion asserts that the English Church has become too involved in affairs of temporal power, led by the bad example of the Church of Rome.

        The second conclusion asserts that the ceremonies used for the ordination of priests and bishops are without scriptural basis or precedent.

        The third conclusion asserts that the practice of clerical celibacy has encouraged sodomy among the clergy.

        The ninth conclusion asserts that the practice of confession for the absolution of sins is blasphemous, because only God has the power to forgive sins, and because if priests did have that power it would be cruel and uncharitable of them to withhold that forgiveness from anyone in the world, even if they refused to confess.

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      • You can read a lot of the pre-Luther history of heretical movements in Catholic Europe in the late Medieval period as people attempting to be Luther and failing until Luther actually pulled it off. The internal logic of the Papacy meant that their reach greatly exceeded their grasp and the pretentions of a universal church was unsustainable.

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      • Mike Duncan (History of Rome/Revolutions podcasts) was asked at his book q&a what he thought about Great Man theory. While agreeing that individuals matter, he came up with a notion that you can also consider a Failed Man Theory – in that its often specific mistakes by persons located at critical points in history that drive events with long lasting consequences as much as anything.

        So Luther is important, but what’s also critical is the way the series of popes (and Charles V of the HRE) botched things during Luther’s lifetime.

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        • Failed Man Theory

          I dig it, but this, too, puts just a little too much emphasis on individuals. The tinder created incentives to put that particular group of Cardinals in the Vatican to put those particular Popes in power.

          A less sick system would have created less sick Cardinals, and all the way on from there.

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          • Almost certainly, the Reformation was over-determined. The idea is probably more applicable in other singular revolutions (e.g. American, French, Russian – but probably not Haitian, which was also over determined)

            But still, as said, the sort of thing Luther had did had been done before (to which the powers that be successfully said LOL). That particular time in the early 16th century it worked – and even in the long run, it wasn’t universal; the Roman Catholic Church survived.

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          • I think if you’re looking for the impact of particular individuals in history, its not particularly in what role the person filled, the macro historical role that a Luther performed gets performed by someone. However, by virtue of filling that role, the particular individula characteristics of Luther himself will influence the broader historical force he was riding, so force the individuality of Luther will affect (just affect, not control) what Lutherism ends up being.

            So the idea that great men make history by virtue of their greatness his total bunk IMO. What is plausible is that historical forces occassionally put a person in an influential position and then their individuality can matter, most likely in ways they didn’t themselves intend to influence matters.

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      • I concur. There is also a school of thought that this particular even never happened (at least according an article I read in the New Yorker recently)

        There were lots of events happening around the same time and before regarding dissent from the Catholic hierarchy. There were also lots of botched things Pope’s did in response to Luther that spurred the Reformation.

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        • From what I understand, it’s more of a “all of the stories about Luther doing this are third-hand” rather than “there’s no proof that this actually happened” kind of situation. (Insert discussion of what would constitute “proof” of what would be a commonplace event in a world where there are serious discussions over whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s works.)

          As for the botched responses of the Popes, you can’t help but think that a sufficiently good Pope could have nipped some of this stuff in the bud.

          The system was designed to keep sufficiently good Popes from appearing in the first place.

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          • But take the reverse case. The US Presidents between 1850 and 1900 were somewhere between unremarkable mediocre men to actively malign – with one exception. And the System was such that the Unremarkable Mediocre Man was pretty much a desired endstate. So that One Exception was supremely important.

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            • I’ve been chewing on this.

              My first thought was something to the effect of “So, occasionally, a Mule does show up?”

              Then I thought about how Harriet Beecher Stowe was a necessary condition for Lincoln being Lincoln.

              Which would mean that it’s Mules all the way down.

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            • I would say two exceptions. Teddy Roosevelt being the other but he was more or less an accident along the lines of “Now that Damned Cowboy’s in charge.”

              Grant is getting a bit of a revision as well but possibly too much of one.

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              • TR was Prez starting in 1901, hence my time bracket.

                Grant as Prez was a tool of every crony capitalist of his era, which in turn caused a national (and international) economic disaster – which then led the party associated with treason to actually win the popular vote in the next election. Thus rendering moot whatever good work Grant did with Reconstruction policies.

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        • Nailing theses to the church doors was a common way to start debates in the Catholic Church. To people at the time, there was nothing unusually bold about a priest nailing a bunch of theological talking points to a church door. Thats what they did when they wanted to start an argument in the church.

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      • Luther was in the right place at the right time. Previously reformers like Wycliff or Huss could not find a secular ruler that found their call for Reformation useful. The Catholic Church was more or less functioning as intended and not particularly that corrupt. Secular Princes found keeping the religious status quo preferable. Jan Hus had enough of a lay following to keep things going after he got burned as a heretic though.

        When Luther posted the 95 Theses, the Catholic Church was at one of its low points and only really worked as it was supposed to in Spain and Portugal. Everywhere else it was corrupt. There were secular rulers growing in power and tired of giving so much money to the church. The non-nobles wanted something more from religion. Luther’s teaching spread because of all the ferment around him. Luther was needed and his teaching thrived as a result.

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