Pixel Scroll 3/13/19 This IrrePixel-able, Trantor ‘Original’, This Mule-produced Crime

(1) THINGS FALL APART. T.J. Martinson, in “The Death of the Superhero: The Crime of Killing Off Good & Evil” at Crimereads, notes that comic book publishers periodically kill off superheroes to boost sales of titles, but “when superheroes die, we are left without a moral compass.”  He sees similar problems happening in crime novels where a private eye dies.”

…The death and resurrection of Superman engendered what might be considered a comic book renaissance, one that hasn’t yet run out of steam—for example, in Captain America #25 (2007), Captain America was assassinated in only to later reappear after it was revealed he’d merely been stuck in a time loop involving, you guessed it, an ancient Inuit tribe. Ever since Superman paved the way into and out from the grave, the superhero’s death and resurrection has become an almost-ubiquitous plot-line in otherwise faltering and overstretched narrative arcs. Superheroes are practically falling from the sky like house flies (Infinity Wars, anyone?). The superhero’s death and return has reached such a critical mass that comic books themselves present a meta-commentary on the phenomenon; In DC’s Infinite Crisis (2005-2006), Batman quips to Superman, “the last time you really inspired anyone…was when you were dead.”

But what is it about superheroes that we—readers living outside of Metropolis’ city limits—are so desperate to see resurrected time and time again that we’re willing to weave our suspension of disbelief into tantric knots in order to welcome superheroes from the dead? One answer would be that, in a world of uncertainty and complexity, we yearn for simplified categories (e.g., good and evil) that superheroes boldly represent. But how are to make sense of a world in which the binary logic the superhero embodies is questioned?

(2) REMEMBER THE SPARTANS. Myke Cole analyzes “How the Far Right Perverts Ancient History—And Why It Matters” at Daily Beast.

It may seem silly to argue about the interpretation of events that unfolded thousands of years ago, to fret and hand-wring over people millennia in their graves. Some may argue it is harmless for the likes of Hanson to strut his toxic revision of ancient history across the stage. Just another blowhard shouting at the ocean, after all.

But this notion is having life-and-death consequences in America today. I worked at the NYPD during and following the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA where Heather Heyer was killed and more than two dozen other people were injured. In August 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent us its report on the flags and symbols used during the rally, including the vexillum of the Roman Republic (SPQR for “Sen?tus Populusque R?m?nus,” “The Senate and the People of Rome”), the ancient sun wheels of Germanic tribes, the Greek lambda (“?” or “L” for “Lakedaimon,” the Spartans called themselves “Lakedaimonians”) falsely believed to have been painted on ancient Spartan shields, and now used by the far-right Identitarian movement.

Last of all was the flag of the American Guard, violent hardcore nationalists who sport crossed meat-cleavers as a rallying symbol. Above them stretched a black cannon blazoned with the clarion call of pro-gun advocates from the NRA to militia groups across the country—“Come and take it.” The phrase is from the Greek “molon labe,” (????? ????), Plutarch’s words put in the mouth of the Spartan king Leonidas in 480 BC, when he defied the Persian king Xerxes’ demand that he lay down his arms. Senator Ted Cruz has repeatedly invoked the same phrase

(3) HOPEPUNK. Behind the Wall Street Journal paywall, Ellen Gamerman’s article “‘Hopepunk’ and ‘Up Lit’ Help Readers Shake Off the Dystopian Blues” quotes Becky Chambers and mentions one of Cat Rambo’s classes.

Cat Rambo, in “Hopepunk Thoughts Plus A Reading List”, blogged her own thoughts on the subgenre and told readers where to find examples. 

Hopepunk is a reaction to our times, an insistence that a hollow world built of hatred and financial ambition is NOT the norm. It is stories of resistance, stories that celebrate friendship and truth and the things that make us human. In today’s world, being kind is one of the most radical things you can do, and you can see society trying to quash it by prosecuting those who offer food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and shelter to those in need.

Is it something new? No, it’s something that we’ve always celebrated in stories. Think about the moment in the Lord of the Rings when acts of kindness — first on Bilbo’s part, then on Frodo’s — lead to the moment where Gollum enables the ring’s destruction when Frodo falters and is on the brink of giving up his quest. Or go even further back, to Ovid’s Baucis and Philemon, who are rewarded for offering hospitality to strangers who turn out to be gods

(4) FREE DOWNLOAD. Arizona State University has published The Weight of Light, a collection of short science fiction, art, and essays about human futures powered by solar energy, with an upbeat, solarpunk twist. The book features four original short stories, by Cat Rambo, Brenda Cooper, Corey S. Pressman, and Andrew Dana Hudson.  It can be downloaded in HTML, EPUB, MOBI, and via Apple Books.

The Weight of Light emphasizes that the design of solar energy matters just as much as the shift away from fossil fuels. Solar technologies can be planned, governed, and marketed in many different ways. The choices we make will profoundly shape the futures we inhabit. The collection features stories by award-winning science fiction authors, working in collaboration with illustrators, graphic designers, and experts in policy, ethics, climate science, and electrical, environmental, civil, and aerospace engineering.

  • Stories by: Brenda Cooper, Andrew Dana Hudson, Corey S. Pressman, Cat Rambo
  • Essays by: Stuart Bowden, Ed Finn, Wesley Herche, Christiana Honsberg, Samantha Janko, Darshan M.A. Karwat, Lauren Withycombe Keeler, Joshua Loughman, Clark A. Miller, Esmerelda Parker, Dwarak Ravikumar, Ruth Wylie

(5) SLADEK COLLECTION. David Langford told readers New Maps: More Uncollected John Sladek is on course for launch at the UK Eastercon in April.

Chris Priest, in his awesome capacity as agent for the Sladek estate, is very pleased with the early proof copy he’s seen; I hope to have a big pile of trade paperbacks in good time for Easter. Paperbacks and ebooks will also be available for order online, from Lulu.com and Ansible Editions respectively.

(6) FINAL BATTLE. Gail Gygax says her life is in danger: “Fantasy’s Widow: The Fight Over The Legacy Of Dungeons & Dragons” .

In December of last year, Gail Gygax contacted Kotaku through her agent. She wanted to tell us about all of the many dangers—both physical and psychological—she says she’s been dealing with since the death of her husband Gary Gygax, who is widely considered to be the father of the tabletop role-playing game, in 2008. Break-ins. Death threats. Estranged children. Visitations from her late husband’s spirit. Predatory businesspeople. And lawsuits—five of them in total, with one brought by Hollywood producer Tom DeSanto for $30 million. Eleven years after the death of Gary Gygax, there are still battles over who will control his legacy—the rights to his name, his biography, his memorial, his intellectual property, and the future of countless other priceless artifacts, among them Gary Gygax’s original dungeon, the maps to an 11-level magical castle where he prototyped a fantasy role-playing game that 8 million people play every year.

(7) NOT A BLANK SLATE. Andrew Liptak’s “Wordplay: This year’s awards scuffle and influence in the SF/F world” compares the motives behind the 20BooksTo50K slate and the Sad/Rabid Puppies slates, among other things, and how hard it is for groups administering the top sff awards to keep pace with change.

There has been a lot of commentary from all sides about how this is a war of old-verses-new, but I don’t really think that that’s the case. I think it’s more that established institutions like SFWA and the Hugo Awards simply aren’t equipped to handle some of the rapid changes that we’re seeing in the publishing industry and how fandom organizes itself, with the help of platforms like Facebook or Twitter. I think it’s also less “old man yells at cloud,” and more not recognizing potential issues or reacting quickly before they become a problem. The traditional “Fan” community doesn’t really turn and adapt quickly. 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 13, 1781 — The planet Uranus was discovered by English astronomer Sir William Herschel.
  • March 13, 1855 — Percival Lowell was born

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Except for Pluto’s discoverer, above, birthdays are on hiatus. Cat Eldridge is having the elbow surgery he mentioned in comments.]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) RETRO REPORT. While researching an article I rediscovered Peter Watts’ account of the 2010 Worldcon “Worth the Price”. One of the many good bits —

…and the sheer joy of dealing with Australian border guards.

I am not being ironic. I would almost be tempted to purchase an Expedia vacation package that consisted entirely of going back and forth through Australian Customs for a few days straight. Yes, I got rerouted to Secondary (they pretty much had to, given the check mark in that little “Are you a felon?” box), but the whole lot of them were friendly and welcoming even so. Mostly they spent my wait time chatting with me about the kind of books they liked to read. (I mean, just imagine: literate border guards. Not a species you’re gonna find anywhere in the US, I’m betting.) And finally, when they waved me through and I pointed to the big sign saying Your Luggage WILL be X-rayed and wondered why they weren’t doing that to mine, the nice lady’s response was “Would you like me to?” She was willing to go out of her way to be extra intrusive, just to make me feel at home.

(12) LEGO IDEA. Sort of like looking for a much richer version of Waldo.

(13) BRITNEY GOES GENRE? That’s what BBC heard: “Britney Spears’ feminist jukebox musical is going to Broadway”.

The hits of pop icon Britney Spears are heading to Broadway in a new jukebox musical with a feminist message.

Titled Once Upon A One More Time, the comedy will tell the story of a book club attended by fairytale princesses.

Their lives are changed when a “rogue fairy godmother” brings them a copy of The Feminine Mystique, the landmark feminist book by Betty Friedan.

It makes them question whether there’s more to life than marrying Prince Charming and singing with animals.

Scriptwriter Jon Hartmere told The New York Times: “Cinderella is having an existential crisis, and she has a posse of famous princesses, and her stepmother is the main antagonist.

(14) LAST PAGES. Associated Press gives perspective on how a “Decline in readers, ads leads hundreds of newspapers to fold”.

…Last September, Waynesville became a statistic. With the shutdown of its newspaper, the Daily Guide, this town of 5,200 people in central Missouri’s Ozark hills joined more than 1,400 other cities and towns across the U.S. to lose a newspaper over the past 15 years, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by the University of North Carolina.

Blame revenue siphoned by online competition, cost-cutting ownership, a death spiral in quality, sheer disinterest among readers or reasons peculiar to given locales for that development. While national outlets worry about a president who calls the press an enemy of the people, many Americans no longer have someone watching the city council for them, chronicling the soccer exploits of their children or reporting on the kindly neighbor who died of cancer.

(15) TOLKIEN RESOURCE. You have to join to have access, but they’re available now: “Earliest issues of Tolkien Society publications digitised”.

The Tolkien Society’s earliest publications have been digitised and are now available for members to download.

Last year, through the British Library, the Society completed the first stage of its digitisation project, resulting in the digitisation of the majority of back issues of Amon Hen and Mallorn, respectively the bulletin and journal of The Tolkien Society. Not all back issues were digitised at the time due to gaps in the British Library’s collection.

Members now have access to the Society’s earliest publications, dating back to 1969 (the year the Society was founded) and the 1970s. This not only includes the missing issues of Amon Hen, but its forerunner publications, The Tolkien Society Bulletin and Anduril. All issues of Belladonna’s Broadsheet, the Society’s oldest publication, has also been digitised.

(16) ON THE MENU AT CHEZ RAMBO. Guest posts on Cat Rambo’s blog in recent weeks include:

What if prose were written like music? What if, instead, of a common world, stories in an anthology were steps on a share emotional path? Those are the questions the upcoming anthology Score is attempting to answer.

GOURMET RECIPE: VERMIH IN PLABOS SAUCE

There are three complementary sides that determine a phril personality: gastronomy, politics, and romance. The rest represents salads or pickles to fill the mundane.
I will start naturally, with food for the gourmet side of the phrilic spirit, presenting to you, my dear reader, an absolutely genuine Recipe….

(17) WHERE HAVE YOU GONE JOE DIMAGGIO JACK KIRBY?WhatCulture Comics remembers “8 Times The Marvel Vs. DC Rivalry Turned Ugly.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Cat Rambo, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Andrew Liptak, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

92 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/13/19 This IrrePixel-able, Trantor ‘Original’, This Mule-produced Crime

  1. For those who might not have seen Cat’s comment in the other post, I’m reproducing it here:

    Cat Eldridge: I’ve been in Maine Medical for the last three days as I got surgery for that infected left elbow. They took out the damaged bone out and determined that it was indeed a staph infection, quite severe. I’ll likely be here for several more days as I need an IV drip to treat it and they’ve yet figured exactly which strain of staph it is. I’m told it can take up to five days to culture the samples.

    It also damaged the tendons above the elbow but likely those will repair themselves with time.

     
    I hope that they get the appropriate treatment figured out quickly and that you feel better and get to go home soon, Cat.

  2. Hampus Eckerman: As long as I take a pill every six hours, I’m back to almost my usual functionality. I can feel something is different, but enough to hinder me. For the first time in six months, I’m ok. Yay!!

    Oh, I’m so glad to hear this. I hope that they can figure out what the problem is quickly, so that you can stop having to take medication. 🙂

  3. Very pleased that Hampus is doing better, hoping that Cat recovers quickly and well.

  4. 1. Good vibes to Cat.
    2. Good to hear that you (Hampus) are doing much better. 🙂

  5. 2) While I am sure Myka Cole knows a lot more than I do, the “Come and Take It” thing has a more recent and well-known (at least in Texas) connection.
    “Come and Take It” is the town motto of the little town of Gonzales, Texas. In 1835, the Texan forces had retreated to Gonzales, pulling their cannons with them. They were surrounded by Santa Ana’s troops and were about to surrender when Santa Ana demanded they surrender their cannon. The Texan leadership went mulish and issued the challenge – if you want the cannon, come and take it. Which the Mexican army promptly did, catching or killing most of the Texan troops in the process. So Texas is crawling with “Come and Take It” signage, and it’s the town motto of Gonzales (Which is sort of off-putting if you’re driving through Texas and you’re used to “welcome to _____” signs. It just isn’t a very welcoming motto, you know?”)
    While I am sure that the more erudite members of the alt-right might be aware of the Greek story, I’d venture a guess that many, many alt-righters come from Texas and see “Come and Take It” as a challenge to the feds who were supposed to come and take all their guns during the Obama years.
    Just a thought.

  6. @Another Laura: It could be that Texan alt-righters are using the translation because of the Gonzales history, but I always see it as ????? ???? on trucks and as tattoos.

    I doubt that it came directly from Plutarch to the alt-right. More likely, it came via Frank Miller’s 300.

  7. I rather like the saying. I’ve told a couple of people recently that if they don’t like the way I vote, they can come and take it from me. Makes the point nicely.

  8. The first few times we drove through Dumas, TX, we were welcomed by a big sign that said WELCOME TO DING DONG DADDYVILLE. Some time in the 60s, it was replaced by HOME OF THE DEMONS. I imagine the Town Council discussed it one day and decided they’d all look better with an appeal to high-school football than a song reference. That’s the moment Dumas became dead to me.

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  10. 2) Kind of disappointing. Having had lots of gun range experiences, Myke should know better than to conflate enthusiastic gun owners with racist nut-jobs just because they sometimes use the same slogans. “Come and take it” is generally known to gun enthusiasts via the original story from Greek culture as well as from Gonzalez, TX. Rather than learning of it from Frank Miller’s “300”, those that are gun and genre enthusiasts generally found “come and take it” to be a sort of Easter egg in the movie rather than new information.

    He is quite wrong about the genesis of the American T.E.A. Party movement. The T.E.A. stands for Taxed Enough Already. The movement was originally based on fiscal restraint, protesting against higher taxes, and support for the US Constitution (as written and amended). While some racist nitwits have tried (sometimes successfully) to glom onto the movement, and while it probably has morphed away from those origins, it is inaccurate to claim that “far-right terror of Islamic immigration, and the conspiracy theory of white genocide that was so potent in fueling the rise of the Tea Party”.

    The entire article seems to be based on conflating elements that normal people and racist nutjobs have in common with the apparent intent of slurring those normal people.

    This item puts in mind of the discussion a few days ago regarding interactions with authors in book reviews. The nice part of social media is getting to know your favorite authors a bit better. The bad part of social media is getting to know your favorite authors a bit better. IME, it’s usually pretty minimally bad stuff (i.e. a bit of hypocrisy here and there). Occasionally it rises to something pretty rancid (i.e. lionizing mass murderers such as Che Guevara). In either case, it unfortunately takes a little shine off of my enthusiasm for reading whatever the author publishes next.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Money is the root of ALL Evil! Send $20 for more info

  11. He is quite wrong about the genesis of the American T.E.A. Party movement. The T.E.A. stands for Taxed Enough Already.

    The Tea Party movement did not begin with “Taxed Enough Already.” That was a backronym that was coined months after the protests began.

    I never bought the premise that the Tea Party was about fiscal conservatism. It was about Republicans finding something to call themselves when Bush’s stink of failure after 2008 was so pungent. The same right wingers who were most outspoken at the Tea Party’s birth following Rick Santelli’s CNBC rant are strong Trump supporters today. I challenge anyone to say with a straight face that Trumpism is about fiscal restraint.

  12. @rcade

    While I agree that the T.E.A. acronym came a few months after the movement began, it is incorrect to suggest that the acronym did not represent the sentiments of the early participants of the movement.

    And I would agree that the Trump administration has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. That is one primary motivating factor for many of the conservative and/or libertarian folks in the “Never Trump” movement.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth. – John Stuart Mill

  13. it is incorrect to suggest that the acronym did not represent the sentiments of the early participants of the movement

    Considering the people who are responsible for the “movement” are all wealthy individuals who are not paying enough in taxes, in terms of income percentage, that claim is cr*p.

  14. While I agree that the T.E.A. acronym came a few months after the movement began, it is incorrect to suggest that the acronym did not represent the sentiments of the early participants of the movement.

    Do you agree that the concept of “early participants” in a movement is subjective? What you appear to view as an organic grass-roots effort I see as an astroturf campaign that was funded by billionaires. So in my view the early participants were the fat cats writing the checks, not the ordinary folks who followed with their placards.

    The same day that Rick Santelli did his Howard Beale moment on CNBC, the Koch Brothers-financed Americans For Prosperity set up a Tea Party Facebook page and began organizing Tea Party events. The British journalist George Monbiot calls the Tea Party “the biggest Astroturf operation in history.”

  15. @Dann665: and support for the US Constitution (as written and amended)as interpreted by reactionaries who pick and choose which parts to acknowledge. FTFY!

  16. @P J Evans

    If you can define “wealthy” and “enough” using actual numbers, then this might turn into an interesting conversation.

    “Tax the rich, feed the poor, ’til there are no rich no more” is a lousy economic policy. It only guarantees that everyone ends up poor. Those running the government excepted.

    @rcade

    I suppose I can live with that definition if it is equally applied to MoveOn and a plethora of other organizations funded by George Soros and friends. I’ve witnessed far more manufactured movements/actions by the left than I have from the right.

    My community was protesting the ACA before it was passed and a couple of left-wing groups bussed in “supporters” from outside of our Congressional district. Protesters were not allowed in front of our Congresscritter’s office while the “supporters” got all the photo ops.

    How do we know they were bussed in? We talked to them; they told us where they were from and who organized and paid for their trip. And we saw them getting back on the busses.

    Regards,
    Dann
    No way, I took call waiting of!@#$!(!@ ) #$! NO CARRIER

  17. Oof. Not usually your style to go around spreading anti-semitic conspiracy theories, Dann. Maybe rethink swallowing and spreading the Soros nonsense?

  18. Meredith:

    Not usually your style to go around spreading anti-semitic conspiracy theories, Dann.

    Why should that be any different from the other right-wing talking points Dann uncritically proffers on an all too steady basis?

    Dann:

    “Tax the rich, feed the poor, ’til there are no rich no more” is a lousy economic policy.

    Nobody’s proposing that policy, of course, but Dann does love to put words in other people’s mouths.

    The tax rates of the 1950s and 1960s didn’t eliminate rich people, but those people who desperately want to stop the wealthy from getting taxed sure want you to think it would, if you’ll just ignore actual history.

  19. Dann665:

    ““Tax the rich, feed the poor, ’til there are no rich no more” is a lousy economic policy. It only guarantees that everyone ends up poor. “

    Well, I think it is enough with “Tax the rich, feed the poor, ’til there are no poor anymore and the rich are just plain rich instead of filthy rich”. That policy worked very well in Sweden and built a more prosperous society than that of the US with better healthcare, lower poverty and lower unemployment.

    Meredith:

    Not anti-semitic to say that Soros has created and/or funded several organizations. George Soros was one of the initial donors to MoveOn. It is not more antisemitic to mention this than to mention the sponsorship of the Koch-brothers. There are an enormous amount of conspiracy theories surrounding Soros. Saying he sponsors organizations is not among them.

  20. @Chip

    The modern trend towards selective respect for the Constitution is a bipartisan exercise. Democrats that are currently singing paeans to federalism couldn’t find the songbook when Mr. Obama was our President. Conversely, too many Republicans that are studiously ignoring our current President’s actions were more than happy to praise federalism a few years ago.

    @Meredith

    That is a scurrilous and baseless accusation. I’d appreciate a retraction.

    @Kurt

    I’m not putting any words in any one’s mouth. IME, when I ask about how much the rich should be paying in taxes to qualify as their “fair share”, the response (after many exchanges) ends up being either “just more” or some variation of “no one should be rich”.

    I’m just trying to get to the heart of the issue without a huge waste of time.

    The tax rates of the 50s and 60s were accompanied by a plethora of deductions and tax shelters that meant that no one ever paid those confiscatory tax rates. It was JFK that advocated for lowering tax rates and reducing tax shelters as a way of boosting economic activity during the late 50s/early 60s recession. Funny thing that. He was right. It worked. All boats were, indeed, lifted.

    Do you approve of the GOP’s recent tax legislation that capped SALT taxes on the rich? It did cause the effective tax rates on the top 1% to go up by limiting their deductions.

    @Hampus

    First…thank you.

    Second, Sweden has an interesting history. There are enough differences in terms of natural resources and culture to suggest that the Swedish experience is not wholly explained by tax rates. IMHO.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The Africans know I’m not an African. I’m an American. – Whoopi Goldberg

  21. @Hampus

    It sure is to describe Soros as funding a “plethora” of astroturfing campaigns, though, especially without clarifying what those are meant to be.

    @Dann

    I’ve thought about it, and as of now I don’t think I will — especially since I didn’t actually say that you, specifically, were anti-semitic, which is presumably why you’ve reacting so badly. I said you were spreading an anti-semitic conspiracy theory, and so far I have no reason to change my mind on that. Feel free to clarify your position if there’s a misunderstanding, though.

  22. @Meredith

    Fair enough. I offer the following for your consideration.

    The distance from “that’s racist” to “you’re racist” is a brief walk. It is a path to tread most lightly.

    The Koch brothers were tossed out as conservative bogeymen. They bear little resemblance to their caricature, IMHO.

    I responded with a leftist bogeyman. Who, despite my differences with his policy preferences, I also suggest bears little resemblance to his caricature.

    If folks were being more accurate and perhaps more honest, then Sheldon Adelson would be more routinely vilified by the left and either Michael Bloomberg or Thomas Steyer would be regularly disparaged by the right. All three are routinely either at the top or near the top of any list for political contributions in recent election cycles. They spend more than the Kochs or Mr. Soros.

    With respect to George Soros, he made a big splash in 2004 when he dramatically increased his political donations in a failed attempt to defeat George W. Bush’s re-election. He led the field in donations in that year.

    Take a look at the following. Look at the donations across the various election cycles. There are election cycles where Mr. Soros doesn’t appear very far up the list. In other cycles, he is in the top 10 (or nearly so). In looking at the details in his giving (last link), he has given to a non-trivial number of different PACs and other political organizations in the 2018 cycle. Take a look at his details over the last 15 years or so. If that array of organizations does not constitute a “plethora”, then “plethora” has lost any substantive meaning.

    Top Individuals Funding Outside Spending Groups

    Top Individual Contributors: All Federal Contributions

    Top Individual Contributors to Federally Focused 527 Organizations, 2018 Election Cycle

    George Soros, details – 2018 cycle

    A last thought is that I’m not that this particular use of “astroturfing” is correct. If a billionaire donates money to an organization that is supported by more regular people, then it isn’t really astroturfing. There are many organizations that enjoy the support of regular people even if the funding comes from the more well-to-do. Both the Kochs and Mr. Soros support those kinds of groups.

    Real astroturfing where people are paid to appear to support something that regular people don’t support is a different thing. I’d guess that both the Kochs and Mr. Soros have ended up at least partially funding those kinds of activities, but I don’t have anything to back up that guess.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

  23. Dann665: If folks were being more accurate and perhaps more honest

    As long as you continue to uncritically parrot ridiculous right-wing talking points, you’re hardly in a position to complain about other peoples’ accuracy and honesty — characteristics of which you’ve been demonstrating a marked dearth ever since you apparently decided you’d acquired enough credibility in this community to get away with that parroting.

    Nor are you in a position to demand apologies for people pointing out your inaccuracies and dishonesties.

    Any credibility you might have acquired through honest participation here pretty much went out the window when you started in with the uncited, unsupported right-wing talking points — and that was long ago. 😐

  24. I’d like it if all rich people were restricted from using the length of their wallet to reach into the political process. That’s true of Soros, of the Koches, of Bloomberg, of Adelson, of the Waltons, of Bezos–especially Bezos and the Waltons–of all of them. I’ll hammer hardest on those using their stolen powers for evil, but I don’t care for any of them.

    I didn’t join in on mocking Bezos when he got his sexts exposed, partly because everyone sounds stupid when they’re pillowtalking, but mostly because I didn’t want to amplify That Guy doing the same thing. That’s playing into a specific political aim by someone not too good at evil, but trying real hard to improve! I don’t want to aid in that.

  25. @Dann: the claim that the opposition is always the party singing the praises of the Constitution is typical right-wing bull. There has never been any Democratic parallel to (e.g.) the over-a-year blockage of a Supreme Court nomination, or a nonsensical declaration of an “emergency” backed up by a flood of lies.

  26. @Dann665–

    The tax rates of the 50s and 60s were accompanied by a plethora of deductions and tax shelters that meant that no one ever paid those confiscatory tax rates.

    Yes. Indeed. That was the whole point: High top marginal rates, accompanied by deductions and tax shelters for those who did actual, economically useful things with their money. That was a major contributor to economic growth and the rise of a prosperous middle class. Didn’t stop the rich from whining that their taxes were too high, even as they were both not paying the rates they whined about, and got richer due to investments they wouldn’t have bothered to make, without the push/pull of the top marginal rates plus the deductions and tax shelters.

    I regularly got earfuls about this in the late 60s and early 70s, because my dad was, first, doing taxes for the very rich who, if they listened to his tax advice, could wind up paying in taxes not much more than he did, though he had a far more modest income, and then doing field audits for the state DOR, because he got sick of working for the whiny rich who objected to needing to do anything more useful than hoarding their wealth.

    It was JFK that advocated for lowering tax rates and reducing tax shelters as a way of boosting economic activity during the late 50s/early 60s recession. Funny thing that. He was right. It worked. All boats were, indeed, lifted.

    Indeed. At the time, of course, the top marginal rate was over 90%. Not saying there isn’t a tax rate that’s too high. However, there is also a top marginal rate that’s too low to be economically healthy, too, and we’ve been there for about three decades now. That’s an approximation, not a precise calculation, but not far off.

  27. Dann665:

    We removed a lot of our taxes on the rich in Sweden. True is that we are one of the countries in Europe with the least targeted taxes on the rich. Effect?

    Income gap exploded. Lowered taxes for the rich on houses caused higher taxes for everyone else. And still not enough. Less money to schools every year and this has been going on for more than ten years. Teachers are quitting en masse. We have to cancel operations because too few nurses, they quit because of the work environment. Our pride, the health care system, is falling apart.

    We are moving closer to US and it is destroying our country. I do not recognise it any more.

  28. @Chip Hitchcock

    I disagree. It’s a bi-partisan problem. I’m OK with disagreeing.

    I will agree that the currently declared “emergency” isn’t one. The mild advantage to the GOP is that several of them voted for the resolution to oppose the emergency. Not enough to cover a veto, but still more than the number of Democrats that opposed to Mr. Obama’s administrative creation DACA. FWIW, I think DACA is a good idea and should be a part of comprehensive immigration reform. But to be legal/Constitutional, it must be first passed by the Congress; not created by Presidential penmanship. (FWIW, most of the conservatives that I read/hear generally agree with/support some form of DACA as part of comprehensive immigration reform.)

    @Lis Carey

    Indeed. At the time, of course, the top marginal rate was over 90%. Not saying there isn’t a tax rate that’s too high. However, there is also a top marginal rate that’s too low to be economically healthy, too, and we’ve been there for about three decades now. That’s an approximation, not a precise calculation, but not far off.

    Fair enough. Maybe pushing the top rate to 40% would be productive. Pushing it to 70% would automatically create an incentive for the rich to either leave the US or to lobby for a bunch of new tax shelters. Or both. Either would be a step backward/in the wrong direction, IMO.

    I think a better solution is to start capping deductions for the rich rather than fiddling with the tax rates. The simpler and more transparent the system is, the less corruption it will inspire.

    @Hampus

    This could be misinterpreted but I’m really not criticizing Sweden in any way. Just seeing a bit of where y’all have been, albeit from a distance.

    The NYTimes had a recent story on billionaires per capita. The US was roughly 9th or 10th on the list. Sweden was first. So I knew things had changed a bit since the 1990s.

    Part of the healthcare problem is that it really is subject to free-market economics. Hiring qualified people always costs more money. Increasing taxes only works so far before it starts killing the overall economy. Understaffing and underpaying the remaining staff causes them to go elsewhere. (I met a highly qualified doctor from the UK a while back. She is running the physician staff at the local hospital after only a couple of years. Very impressive. The UK has some of the same problems.) We can’t wave a magic, governmental wand to contain costs without causing other problems.

    The solutions aren’t easy. The US has plenty of problems. I think we do a fair number of things correctly as well.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. – Thomas Jefferson

  29. @Dann

    So you weren’t putting forward something you believed, you were just trying to use it to force someone to drop a point? Well, that’s a little better, but… not by as much as I’d hoped. There are surely less loaded options that you could have used instead.

    Re: That’s racist vs you’re racist, the alternative is to gag people from using the word racist (and similar), so in my opinion the onus is on people to hear “that’s racist” when what someone said is “that’s racist”. However difficult it may be to squash the initial defensive reaction.

  30. Dann665:

    As I said, Sweden has taken a turn for the worse. So what I am saying is that it isn’t really about “culture” or “natural resources”. It is about taxes. Without taxes coming in, our system can’t hold up and is falling apart. Steadily lowered pensions. Longer queues to health care. Teachers quitting. Withdrawn sick pay. And more.

    Everything I’ve been proud of is being destroyed. And lowered taxes is the reason.

    Otherwise, a lot of what you are saying is bullshit. Sweden didn’t have worse economy with higher taxes. It had better. Also, Sweden has traditionally paid lots less for its healthcare that US and gotten more out of it. With privatisations, that is also falling apart. Fewer doctors and nurses, more middle management, lawyers and bureaucracy.

    And US has a lot easier to raise taxes than Sweden. Larger country with more business everyone wants a part of. Economy and military enough to put pressure and sanctions on tax havens.

  31. @Meredith

    Not at all. I am opposed to many (not all) of the political objectives implied by Mr. Soros donation patterns. Not because he is Jewish and not because he is rich, but because those objectives are harmful.

    The first use of a “loaded option” was invoking the Koch brother’s political donations. Why wasn’t there more criticism of that loaded language in the first place? At what point will folks on the left stand up for the free speech of people that they oppose?

    IMO, the result of “that’s racist” accusations is to derail the conversation by forcing one party to defend their humanity rather than focusing on the subject at hand. I’m not saying that was your intent. Only that it generally is the result.

    The onus should be on the person making such a volatile accusation to ensure that the accusation is accurate before it is made precisely because false allegations diminish the value of a just and appropriate allegation. I suspect we will continue to disagree on that point. I’m ok with that.

    Regards,
    Dann
    This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. – Dorothy Parker

  32. @Dann

    IMO, the result of “that’s racist” accusations is to derail the conversation by forcing one party to defend their humanity rather than focusing on the subject at hand.

    *face in hands* Really, really think for a second about what you’re saying here. You are saying that defending someone’s humanity is forcing someone else to defend their own humanity. You are describing calling something racist as being just as bad as saying a racist thing. Please do not do this.

  33. Whereas I politically despise both George Soros and David Koch, who both use brute market violence to get their political way. One is more tolerable than the other, since his goals are more humane, but they and all their rich co-conspirators are equally hot to kill democracy. It’s the power of the rich that runs, and ruins, this world. Fuck ’em all.

  34. @Dann

    the result of “that’s racist” accusations is to derail the conversation by forcing one party to defend their humanity

    Dann, with all due respect, come on. Your own words are contradicting you. Is “that” really equivalent to “you”?

    You’re making an observation (“hey, what you just said isn’t cool, and you need to step back and think about it”) into a personal attack, when it isn’t one. Is this really what you’re trying to put forth here? Because if you are, you might want to assess what you’re unintentionally saying about yourself.

  35. @Meredith

    :facepalm: indeed.

    I didn’t say that.

    Racist statements are bad. Up to “abetting murder” levels of bad.

    Pointing out racist statements…where proof of racism is there…is good.

    Suggesting that something is racist….where no proof of racism exists…is bad. Not “abetting murder” levels of bad, but bad.

    Criticizing George Soros for his political giving is not racist.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. – Dorothy Parker

  36. Meredith: Really, really think for a second about what you’re saying here. You are saying that defending someone’s humanity is forcing someone else to defend their own humanity. You are describing calling something racist as being just as bad as saying a racist thing. Please do not do this.

    Dann665: I didn’t say that.

    That is exactly what you said:
    Dann665: IMO, the result of “that’s racist” accusations is to derail the conversation by forcing one party to defend their humanity rather than focusing on the subject at hand. I’m not saying that was your intent. Only that it generally is the result.

    The result of people pointing out that something is racist is to make people aware of the problem and have a discussion take place about it.

    But no, according to you, people shouldn’t be allowed to point out that something is racist, because it might hurt the feelings of the person who said something racist. 🙄

    You talk about “proof” of racism. Well, according to you, if you say it’s not racist, that’s “proof” enough.

    That’s not how it works. Racism is a spectrum, and the “proof” is in the discussion of different peoples’ perceptions — discussion which, you argue, should be quashed.

    No, that’s not how it works.

  37. @Dann

    Racism is a spectrum, and the “proof” is in the discussion of different peoples’ perceptions — discussion which, you argue, should be quashed.

    To go along with what JJ said, I will freely admit that I, as a white woman, am a little racist pretty much all the time, and more than a little racist some of the time. This is because the society I was raised in is swarming with structural and institutional racism, and having been raised in said society, I cannot help but absorb this. It is NOT up to me to deny that the racism in myself and my society exists, and indeed, it would be more than a little insensitive and egotistical of me to assert such a thing. This is why I welcome being called out when I step on someone else’s foot, because it’s a chance for me to step back and remember that it’s not about me and never was; it’s about the people on the receiving end of my racism, no matter how unconscious or unintentional. How else am I going to learn and change my attitude and bias unless someone points it out?

  38. @Dann

    I can’t tell if you haven’t really thought through what you’re saying or if you’re failing to communicate it well, but you’ve shifted your argument in nearly every comment. Possibly every comment. Including denying saying things that I can confirm you definitely said just by scrolling up. It’s starting to feel quite Brian Zish, which is another way of saying I suspect you might be doing it deliberately and disingenuously, and I’m not really in the mood to indulge that right now.

  39. @Meredith

    As I have a bad habit of running off at the fingers, I’ve been trying to keep it short. Also, this is pretty far afield from genre-related topics. I’ve been trying to find a polite ending to this part of the conversation and generally trying not to abuse OGH’s hospitality.

    I apologize if I’ve missed expressing something important that would make this clearer to you. I don’t think I have, but it’s reasonable to think there might be something missing.

    I disagree with your interpretation of events and I suspect that there is little that I can do to change that disagreement.

    @Bonnie

    I agree with a lot of that. Our brains are wired to look for differences. A few hundred thousand (million?) years of evolution are not undone by a few decades of long overdue social progress. I assume that most normal Filers (you, me, etc.) enjoy a broad range of experiences that help us keep those evolutionary impulses in check.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. – Isaac Asimov

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