Friday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ageing process is unstoppable, finds unprecedented study

    Immortality and everlasting youth are the stuff of myths, according to new research which may finally end the eternal debate about whether we can live for ever.

    Backed by governments, business, academics and investors in an industry worth $110bn (£82.5bn) – and estimated to be worth $610bn by 2025 – scientists have spent decades attempting to harness the power of genomics and artificial intelligence to find a way to prevent or even reverse ageing.

    But an unprecedented study has now confirmed that we probably cannot slow the rate at which we get older because of biological constraints.

    The study, by an international collaboration of scientists from 14 countries and including experts from the University of Oxford, set out to test the “invariant rate of ageing” hypothesis, which says that a species has a relatively fixed rate of ageing from adulthood.

    In other words, you’re gonna die.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s gonna hit 99 here today*. Pretty sure I’ve never seen that happen here in June before. It’s enough to make me dread what July has in store for us.

    *cold front comes thru Monday, dropping temps back to our normal June highs in the 80s, even a predicted 76 on Tuesday

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  3. Kurtz says:

    I’m really glad that people decide to do things like this.

    It is not uncommon for people to put on performances in Grand Theft Auto Online. These days, there are entire role play servers with special modifications that allow players to better strut and fret their hour upon the stage, and they’re hugely popular. But players don’t usually do much acting in regular old, unmodified GTA Online, and they definitely don’t perform Shakespeare.

    That, however, did not stop a YouTuber named Sam “Rustic Mascara” Crane from attempting to perform Hamlet [. . .]

    In a second video, Crane attempted the concept again, but in a more formal setting. He and a friend decided to perform a late-night exchange between two sentinels, Barnardo and Francisco, this time on the stage of Los Santos’ Vinewood Bowl. They managed to attract an audience, but it was not long before their two-strong throng of onlookers started shooting at each other.

    “If I could just request that you refrain from killing each other,” said Crane. Then one of the audience members opened fire on him, blasting him into a nearby wall. “And don’t kill the actors, either,” he said while hurtling through the air.

    Links to the YT videos at the link.

    The choice to perform the Barnard and Francisco scene is pretty funny.

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  4. Teve says:

    Jax says:
    Thursday, 17 June 2021 at 23:48
    In case anybody’s wondering how the Trump wing of the SBC is feeling about all this.

    https://founders.org/2021/06/17/the-2021-southern-baptist-convention-what-just-happened/?fbclid=IwAR1RzgJyJYpHomeWxIX_J3WbsbyBBlfWxOFV6yr1hXbjGTZyJdWpYfu5InM

    Shared from my brother’s page.

    With a guest appearance by Critical Race Theory!

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  5. Kurtz says:

    I apologize if anyone posted this in the last couple days. “The Lab Leak Theory Doesn’t Hold Up

    It contains quotes from occasional OTB commenter @Cheryl Rofer.

    Well, damn. Teve posted it.

    Yes, it is another link to a comment that appears to lack being-in-itself, but it only appears that way–its full realization was completed yesterday. I just wanted to join in on the time-warping party. Now if I can just get that damn DeLorean working, we could have some real fun…

    Oh yeah, ICYMI, that article is worth reading.

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  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    How To End Up Serving The Right

    Last week we mulled over what has happened to Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, their (former?) pal has a perceptive analysis.

    I have long respected these two writers’ intelligence. I do not think they are sinister people. But something strange has happened with them both lately, and it’s worth looking at closely, because I think it shows (1) how bad right-wing arguments successfully pose as “common sense” and can easily persuade certain people, especially those who think of themselves as logical and reasonable, and (2) how excessive disgust for liberals can create deficiencies in one’s political analysis which in turn can give rise to a fuzzy understanding of the way the world works. (A bit more uncharitably, I might say it shows how Twitter turns smart people stupid.)

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  7. Teve says:

    @Kurtz: i post good articles multiple times, sometimes. Particularly on important subjects like that.

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  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It was 98 in Mpls, last Thursday, temps that were a month early. We’ve been in your area for a few days and frankly the heat has kept us from doing somethings. Heading to Nashville today.

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  9. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    In other words, you’re gonna die.

    Yes, but not all organisms–not even all animals–age. It seems at least intuitively plausible that at some point in the future scientists will crack the secret of why humans do and figure out how to halt if not reverse the process.

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  10. Kylopod says:

    @Kurtz: The whole kerfuffle over the lab-leak theory stands as an excellent example of the way the mainstream media enables right-wing media. I bet if you did a poll now, you’d find a large number of non-right-wingers who believe that in the past several weeks new evidence has emerged supporting the lab-leak hypothesis. Even though nothing of the kind was actually reported in the news, much of the coverage left that impression.

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  11. Jax says:

    @Teve: Yes, I noticed that! And a generous helping of Another Big Lie, this time centered around the SBC election and “This could not have happened, therefore someone, somewhere, must have cheated or played unfairly, we must rise up and take back our church, and destroy the elites.”

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  12. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We rarely get above 90 EVER, and when we do it’s in July/August. So far this week it’s been at least 90 three times. 8 and 10% humidity, the grass is drying up before it even heads out. The mountains aren’t too bad so far, but down here in the valley, it’s a tinderbox.

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  13. Teve says:

    @Jax: babbling about the elites, and wokeness, and intersectionality, and critical race theory, this Christian needs to spend less time with Hannity and more time with Jesus.

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  14. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Kylopod: I think that Guardian article is misrepresenting with the study actually says. I won’t have time to look into it until at least Sunday though.

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jax:
    Conservatives have a reality problem. But it’s not really an entirely new phenomenon. Trickle down is magical thinking. Cutting taxes as a cure-all is magical thinking. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, anyone can succeed, ditto. Their insistence on male superiority and white superiority and straight superiority, all bullshit. Their historical myths, bullshit. Conservatives didn’t become full of shit in 2016, they’ve been FOS for a long time.

    What’s concerning to me is that we’re going down that same track. Every CVS and Walgreens has entire aisles filled with quack cures, often embraced on the Left as ‘wellness.’ Supermarkets are full of ‘super foods,’ none of it supported by science. We have our own cadre of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy nuts. We’ve moved away from the bullshit of religion to embrace the bullshit of spirituality and ‘Chinese medicine’ and eco-nonsense about ending oil in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years. Then of course there’s the magic of euphemism and synonym to cure the world’s woes.

    The American mind lacks discipline, rigor. Our bullshit isn’t cruelty-based like theirs, but still bullshit. And there are now so many ways to profit by the production of bullshit for the credulous it’s unlikely to change. This country needs an intellectual revival. Like a religious revival, only the opposite.

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  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    I got hung up around the notions that a) the reason lifespans are increasing on average is down to lower rates of infant mortality, and b) more people are enjoying longer lives. If (a) then how is (b) true? I mean, OK, we’re living longer than six months, but this is rather antique statement is still basically true:

    The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

    I mean, sure, lots of people hit their late 80’s, even 90’s now, but that’s down to rich societies expending vast resources coddling and drugging and intubating people who might otherwise have been the slow member of the tribe who in normal circumstances would be eaten by a bear.

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  17. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kylopod:

    Yes, but not all organisms–not even all animals–age. It seems at least intuitively plausible that at some point in the future scientists will crack the secret of why humans do and figure out how to halt if not reverse the process.

    The basics are starting to be understood. One factor is telomere shortening. Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes, and help to protect them. They shorten with replication, and that eventually leads to degradation of the DNA strands themselves–which results in the cells not being able to replicate properly.

    There’s also been some studies done quite a few years ago where older men were given testosterone treatments and “became 20 years younger”–not literally, of course, but their health, activity levels, and even appearance improved to a point of men about 20 years younger than their actual age.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: Sure, but it’s even more important. Republicans seem to believe that if the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan rather than from a wet market in Wuhan it totally vindicates the way the Trump administration and Republicans in Federal Congress and in State Houses handled the pandemic. It makes no sense. And it’s a sucker’s game to try to engage on that. If anyone were to bring it up to me my only comment would be, “Sure, it’s important to know if the Chinese or anyone else in the world has lax standards in research labs, but let’s focus on the fact that, however the outbreak started, Republicans proved themselves totally unable to deal with the crisis, instead freaking out over Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss, and spent all their political capital on making sure mentally disturbed people could get their guns back.”

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  19. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: No edit for MarkedMan today. That first sentence should read, “Sure, but it’s even worse than that.”

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  20. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..We’ve moved away from the bullshit of religion to embrace the bullshit of spirituality and ‘Chinese medicine’ and eco-nonsense about ending oil in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years. Then of course there’s the magic of euphemism and synonym to cure the world’s woes.

    Add Karma* to the bullshit list.

    *Whatever that means.

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  21. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..eaten by a bear.
    Bear spotted near Rend Lake in southern Illinois
    About 45 miles north of my house. I wonder how far the bear can ramble in a day?

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  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You are singing my song, brother, but I don’t think there is anything unique about the American mind. Inductive reasoning is the way our mind works, the way the minds of all animals with the ability to learn works. “I came to this spot and there was a prey animal. I will keep coming back to this spot.” It works, but not if the waterhole has dried up. “I wore this pair of socks and I pitched a no hitter. I’m going to keep wearing them, unwashed, until they fall to pieces. Then I’ll put a small piece of them in my pocket.”

    But it is deductive reasoning that brings on a civilization, and it goes against the most powerful forces in our nature. Justice, fairness, equality are man-made constructs. We should give ourselves credit for that and recognize just how much work needs to go into upholding these ideals and the systems they are based on.

    It’s why I so despise what the modern Republican Party has become. They are little more than barbarians pulling down the magnificent buildings it has taken centuries to create and using the timbers to feed their cooking fires.

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Years ago I visited New Grange, a massive construct north of Dublin, and something in the museum drew me up short. I was always under the impression that what you said was true, that if you lived past childhood your life expectancy was about what ours is. But there was a simple graph showing the age at death of the hundreds (thousands?) of bones they had unearthed, buried at that religious site, and superimposing it on a graph that represented the modern span. And while the early ages were as different as you said, the sharp drop to virtually nothing that starts after 80 in modern man and trails off at 95 occurred starting around 35 there and the vanishing tail was at 40.

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  24. Mimai says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Double click on (2). Reminds me of that William James quote:

    “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

    And this seems especially true of otherwise intelligent people.

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  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Did you see the Japanese bear?

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  26. Mimai says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Add Karma* to the bullshit list.

    *Whatever that means.

    Methinks it’s merely a pseudo-exotic term for the very simple: “I want just-world theory to be true.”

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I wish I had more upvotes. A very nice, succinct, clarifying explanation. And yes, the similarity between Republicans and, say, Saxons tearing down Roman ruins whose architecture they couldn’t hope to match, is on-point as well. Silk slippers descending, wooden clogs rising.

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  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Yes, but not all organisms–not even all animals–age.

    I’ll bite. Name a few.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:
    Decathexis is an obscure but useful term: the process of dis-investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea.

    IOW you have to clean out the mental closet, examine each item critically, throw out what’s wrong, keep what’s right. And then make this is a continuous process. Another angle would be to say we should all have out own mental beta tester.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Betty White?

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  31. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m reminded of Steve Martin doing Theodoric of York, medieval barber:
    “Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth…a Renaissance! Naaaah.

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  32. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Over eight years, the researchers found no evidence of senescence in their coddled hydra. Death rates held constant at one per 167 hydras per year, no matter their age. (The “oldest” animals studied were clones of hydras that had been around for 41 years — though individuals were only studied for eight years, some were biologically older because they were genetic clones.) Likewise, fertility remained constant for 80 percent of the individual hydras over time. The other 20 percent fluctuated up and down, likely because of laboratory conditions.

    “I do believe that an individual hydra can live forever under the right circumstances,” Martinez said.

    https://www.livescience.com/53178-hydra-may-live-forever.html

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And while the early ages were as different as you said, the sharp drop to virtually nothing that starts after 80 in modern man and trails off at 95 occurred starting around 35 there and the vanishing tail was at 40.

    I’d want to see that controlled for malnutrition. Also for saber tooth tiger attacks.

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  34. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Decathexis

    This term is new to me. I like it. Especially because of how my face contorts when I say it. Seems appropriate.

    And then make this is a continuous process.

    This right here is key. And this is where we tend to come up short. “I’ve achieved cognitive rigour. I am a critical thinker.”

    mental beta tester

    The phrase “perpetual beta” has become hackneyed. Another victim of the marketing, VC, social entrepreneur crowd. And yet the idea is still very useful.

    Relatedly, I collaborate with computer science and engineering folks. Our approach is to “always be iterating.” TBH, it took me a while to drink this kool-aid, particularly when applied to testing interventions in an RCT. I eventually came around. Methodolatry is a dangerous thing.

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  35. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Given that bears frequently visit bird feeders and barbecue grills over large parts of NH, the DNR and local law enforcement response is quit feeding the birds and lock you grill up. Oh and if you are attacked by a bear it is likely your fault. The exception to that is Hanover, where the prissy doyens of Dartmouth receive special attention. For the rest of us, if we find a bear checking out the kitchen cupboard, we shouldn’t have installed a patio door.

    Yeah 45 mi, the bear will be at your place for breakfast.

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  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:

    This term is new to me. I like it.

    I picked it up when I was helping a girlfriend cheat in her philosophy class.

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  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Wow! That brought a tear to my eye. I haven’t been caught up in one of those brouhahas for… gotta be 40 years. Reminds me of growing up in the GARBC. Wa! Memories…

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  38. Kylopod says:

    Charles Panati is a writer whose science can get a little iffy (he’s dabbled in parapsychology), but in one of his books he made what I considered an interesting point: from an evolutionary perspective, sex and death are two sides of the same coin. Single-celled organisms that reproduce asexually do not have finite lifespans, they simply divide and divide and divide indefinitely. The essence of sexual reproduction is that only a portion of an organism lives on–the rest gets discarded.

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  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ha!

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  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:
    rigour

    Are you British?

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  41. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Malnutrition and saber-toothed tigers, yes, but also infection.

    Our life spans started to increase dramatically with the introduction of antibiotics.

    I recently watched this PBS series, “Extra Life: The short history of living longer” and there are a bunch of things that have contributed to longer life spans, including yes, nutrition but also personal hygiene, vaccines, but massive gains from just being able to not die from a small cut.

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  42. KM says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We’ve moved away from the bullshit of religion to embrace the bullshit of spirituality

    Change that to “belief in beliefs over reality”. Americans are in love with the idea of “belief” and think it’s superior to boring old reality. We’ve gone so far as a society as to let people push their unsubstantiated opinions onto others under the guise of belief encoded into law to the detriment and endangerment of others. We’ve been trained since birth to socially accept nonsense if it’s crouched in the language of “belief” as that’s more important that facts….. and it opens the door to all kinds of exploitation and abuse.

    Here’s a great example: parents are suing the school because they’re claiming BLM and CRT are anti-Christian. No explanation of exactly how, you’re just supposed to accept that it is. Read on and you’ll see they’re conservative MAGA nuts using Christianity to justify their crap. Their son is on a IEP as he “suffers from medical conditions that make it painful for him to view a computer screen for hours at a time” but they demanded an exemption from wearing a mask for that same condition. They started screaming religious discrimination when the physics teacher called BS and insisted on a mask; they did it again when they weren’t allowed to have their child exempted from reading a book or not liking a teacher’s social media post about BLM. Their political or personal beliefs won’t pass muster as discrimination so they file it under “religious” knowing people will give them an mile when they couldn’t get an inch before. They have a non-zero chance of winning too since there’s enough people willing to accept their premise since MAGA and COVID denial managed to drape itself in the trappings of Christianity.

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  43. Mu Yixiao says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Turritopsis dohrnii

    The immortal jellyfish

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  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but I used to have a hippie girlfriend, long ago, who insisted on forcing me into nature. We went to Glacier National Park in Montana. They have bears. Many large bears. She followed instructions to carry a can of pebbles to shake which would scare off bears. I carried a Colt Commander .45. You can’t kill a bear with a .45 at a distance, but if he’s got your leg in his muzzle six rounds in the head might work. (You want to save the seventh round in case the first six don’t work.)

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  45. CSK says:

    Apropos of absolutely nothing–but what’s an open forum for?–how did this nonsense about zombie apocalypses start? And does anyone really expect one?

    I ask only because there was a story in masslive.com this morning about how Massachusetts is either a very good place or a very bad place to try surviving one.

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  46. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A store owning acquaintance once kept the story of how a Kodiak bear came to be on display at an airport in Alaska, Short version, the bear had already killed a hiker and a hunter, but not after the hunter shot it a couple of times with his rifle and a handgun. The bear came after a DNR officer who was elk hunting, as it charged the officer, put four elk slugs in him till the bear finally fell and 2 – .50 caliber bullets from a handgun to stop the breathing. Best to bring a cannon.

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  47. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: yeah, some animals kill you and then eat you. Fine. Bears just hold you down and start biting off chunks of meat. NOT FINE.

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  48. Kurtz says:

    :touches nose:

    RCP published an Op-ed by Trump allegedly about CRT. I saw one sentence from it:

    To be clear, the overwhelming majority of our nation’s teachers are some of the most selfless and wonderful people there are — but regrettably, many have graduated from extremely biased education schools and may not even be aware of the degree to which leftist ideology has permeated their curriculum.

    Yes, I am still touching my nose. (Lots of experience typing with one ha–) Oops, got off track.

    I can’t do it, looking for a volunteer to read and report.

    still touching my nose

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    how did this nonsense about zombie apocalypses start?

    As somewhat of a zombie-movie fan, I can give a bit of info on that.

    The core was the 1950s Richard Matheson novella “I Am Legend,” which is about a vampire plague that takes over the entire world, and the few human survivors attempting to fight it off. Matheson approached the vampire legend in a sort of quasi-scientific way, explaining it as having a natural origin.

    George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead is essentially a ripoff of the Matheson novella (he even later admitted this), except instead of vampires the creatures were reanimated corpses with a taste for human flesh. The word “zombie” does not appear in the film at all–the creatures are described by the other characters as ghouls, or “those things.” It had very little to do with the older meaning of zombie that traces to Voodoo folklore (which meant a dead person resurrected by someone and brought under the person’s control–or in a variant, a person drugged to behave like such a creature). But fans began referring to the creatures in the Romero movie as zombies, and it had the effect of changing the meaning of the word in popular culture. Most “zombie” movies, shows, books, etc. since that time have been more influenced by Romero than the older, Voodoo-related meaning.

    And that’s where the concept of a zombie-apocalypse came from. Even though it’s scientifically implausible, it had the trappings of science. (Romero’s film suggested the dead were arising due to radiation from a space probe, though most zombie-apocalypse stories present it simply as some kind of viral pandemic that somehow causes corpses to reanimate. The movie 28 Days Later and its sequel aren’t about technical zombies at all–they’re about a rabies-like virus that cause people to immediately lose their mind and start attacking others, yet in most respects it follows all the conventions of the ZA genre as established by Romero.) These films hold a weird fascination to a lot of people, for a variety of reasons. I’ve noticed that zombie stories tend to have an obsession over logistics more than any other fictional monster I’ve seen–they focus on how the zombie plague spreads and takes over society, eventually crushing the infrastructure and finally the military, as well as the proper ways to survive in such a scenario. Some years ago the Pentagon actually published a zombie survival guide. You know your taxpayer money is being well-spent.

    Even though the science is weak, the zombie-apocalypse idea does seem to stand for things that people think about, including the more general idea of apocalyptic scenarios. The show The Walking Dead focuses less on the zombies themselves (which are treated simply as a natural force like the weather) than on the attempts to rebuild the tatters of civilization, the breakdown of people into numerous small warring groups–in that sense it’s more in the tradition of other post-apocalyptic stories like the Mad Max films or Stephen King’s The Stand. And during the pandemic a lot of people were bringing up ZA stories even when discussing more realistic outbreak movies.

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  50. Mu Yixiao says:
  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: I knew you’d have something because I have read of a few myself. But to extrapolate out from a hydra, to “It seems at least intuitively plausible that at some point in the future scientists will crack the secret of why humans do and figure out how to halt if not reverse the process.” seems… a reach best left to fantasy novels and SciFi.

    @Mu Yixiao: Yes! A 2nd species!

    So 2 small, simple species (and a few more) thru evolutionary processes found a way to live forever does not mean humanity can manage said feat for itself. If evolution couldn’t do it, I really doubt we can. Evolution has engineered us to live for a finite period of time and the fountain of youth, just like faster than light travel, will always be beyond our reach, things that exist only in the imagination.

    Maybe I am wrong, maybe some day humanity will find a way to undo hundreds of millions of years of evolution, to become as gods, masters of our own fates. But I still be dead in 10 or 20 years, maybe sooner.

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  52. Mu Yixiao says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There was an SF short I read a while back about a man crossing the galaxy looking for the secret to immortality. He meets an alien who’s on the same mission. They get talking, and the alien laments that his species only has 10,000 years to enjoy life.

    If you want the real SF way in which we achieve immortality, it’ll be mapping the contents of the brain and transferring them to an artificial body.

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  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: She followed instructions to carry a can of pebbles to shake which would scare off bears.

    That is not what the “can of pebbles” is intended to do, neither is the tinkling of a bell or singing voices, all of which are encouraged in bear country. A grizzly is not frightened by any of those things. What they do do is tell the bear that one is approaching so that the bear is not surprised and they will move away so as to avoid the humans. Surprising a bear, especially one with cubs, invokes the “fight or flight” reflex and there are very few things grizzlies flee from, even if they’d just as soon avoid them.

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  54. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Thanks. I read Matheson’s novel, and I’m certainly familiar with the movies, which have a long history.

    But that’s my point. Zombies, like space aliens, the Frankenstein monster, vampires, and ghosts and witches, have been a part of universal culture for a long time. (The first zombie movie was released in 1932.) So why the sudden fear of/obsession with a zombie apocalypse, which seemed to arise spontaneously about fifteen years ago? Why not a vampire apocalypse? I recall asking my students (college age) about it, and they had no explanation for it. They did find it amusing.

    Why the fixation on zombies?

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  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I used to read a lot of SF but stopped for some reason. It should be in my reading mix.

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  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: It’s a fad.

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  57. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I know. But it seems to have arisen so suddenly and so pervasively, and inexplicably. Usually there’s a reason, even if it’s a silly one, behind fads. But this zombie obsession appears to have popped out of nowhere sometime around 2005. I’m looking for the catalyst. There has to be one.

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  58. Joe says:

    @Teve and Jax:

    Yes, I noticed that! And a generous helping of Another Big Lie, this time centered around the SBC election and “This could not have happened, therefore someone, somewhere, must have cheated or played unfairly, we must rise up and take back our church, and destroy the elites.”

    I read an article somewhere else earlier in the week that contended that conservative SBC forces were themselves packing the convention, making the liberal win a bigger deal, so who knows. These guys need to figure out how to control their voting population.

    It reminds me of my early law school days when a few of us “formed” a club called You Meet We Eat, where our mission statement was to attend other groups’ meetings, eat their cheese, drink their wine and vote for their officers with no intention of otherwise participating or furthering their mission. Despite our robust efforts to the contrary, we were never a sanctioned school club.

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  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I suspect it has to do with zombie movies being fairly cheap to make that almost any plot line no matter how tired and old can be jammed into. And a sure profit maker.

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  60. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    So why the sudden fear of/obsession with a zombie apocalypse, which seemed to arise spontaneously about fifteen years ago?

    I’m not sure there is such a fear–a least not a serious one outside of its use in popular movies. I prefer to look at it more as a pop-culture phenomenon. While as mentioned the ZA genre began with Romero in the ’60s, there was indeed somewhat of an explosion of zombie-related media at the start of the 21st century. Maybe it was the film 28 Days Later, maybe it was the Resident Evil franchise, maybe it was a bunch of things arising independently–I don’t know.

    It can be viewed in terms of any pop-culture obsession with works of fiction, from westerns to comic-book superheroes. Horror in particular has always had layers of social commentary. Invasion of the Body Snatchers came out during the Red Scare of the ’50s. Night of the Living Dead was oozing with symbolism about nuclear war and racism (though Romero claimed the character of Ben was not written with a black actor in mind, and certainly the character’s race is never mentioned explicitly in the film). Romero’s first sequel Dawn of the Dead was pretty openly using zombies in a mall as satiric commentary on American consumerism. The slasher movies of the ’80s were often seen as containing subtexts about white suburbia. I tend to view the zombie-craze through that kind of lens–it need not be taken on an absolute literal level, it still often deals with some fairly reality-based fears and hangups in our culture–mindless conformity, the breakdown of civilization, and a plethora of moral questions (a common theme in these movies is that the true evil lies less in zombies which are simply acting according to their nature than in some of the human survivors).

    Why not a vampire apocalypse?

    I guess zombies are a kind of minimalist monster–they aren’t just a set of arbitrary rules like garlic, crucifixes, mirrors, etc. The rules that they do have seem to arise logically from their condition. And the fact that they are usually presented as mindless keeps the stories from dealing with the psychological components of being a zombie, the way you typically see with vampires and werewolves. The focus is placed on the humans who have to deal with the zombies, rather than the zombies themselves. (This isn’t true of all zombie stories, but it’s true of the majority of them.)

    Also, it’s hard to disconnect vampires from Christianity, even though a lot of modern vampire stories have tried. As you may remember, in Matheson’s novel the fear of crucifixes is explained by saying most of the vampires were Christians when they were alive–the main character is only able to scare a Jewish vampire away with a Torah scroll. But that sort of thing quickly devolved into a joke in vampire films (e.g. the parody film Love at First Bite). Zombies, despite their origin in religion, seem like a secular and scientifically explainable phenomenon most of the time.

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  61. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    That sounds like what my colleagues at Tufts and I used to do. We’d call the office of what we called “The Dean of Cocktail Parties” and find out who was holding a lunch or reception that day. Some office or department was always holding one, no invitation necessary.

    We scored a lot of free food and drink.

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  62. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    Why the fixation on zombies?

    A WAG: Because they are dead people, and an awareness of being a dead people ourselves someday grants zombies a special prominence over aliens and such.

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  63. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Yes, but again, I’ve never seen a newspaper article about surviving a vampire/monster/ghost apocalypse from an allegedly serious source, whereas I did see one about a zombie apocalypse today.

    Why would people treat an attack of the dead rising from their graves as something for which we need to prepare seriously?

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  64. Mu Yixiao says:

    @CSK:

    I know. But it seems to have arisen so suddenly and so pervasively, and inexplicably. Usually there’s a reason, even if it’s a silly one, behind fads. But this zombie obsession appears to have popped out of nowhere sometime around 2005. I’m looking for the catalyst. There has to be one.

    I put it down to the fact that our traditional monsters are no longer scary–and we have a “human need for fear”. And, more specifically, the catharsis that comes with “defeating bad things”.

    Vampires, werewolves, etc. used to be a real fear. We were afraid of being killed in the night–but the priests and shamans told us the magic to protect ourselves.

    When mythic monsters became the thing of comic books–and we stopped believing in magic–we turned to Satanic cults. Cults are a real thing! Look at Jonestown and the Japanese subway cult and the ones with the special Nikes! They’re infiltrating our child care facilities and… and… there’s that family down the street that has a bunch of people show up every Wednesday night. Satanists!

    And when that faded, we turned to the evils of technology gone wild. Computers and robots gaining sapience and killing or enslaving us. But now we all have super-computers with AI in our pocket. Technology is no longer scary. And.. that’s about when zombies became a thing.

    Zombies are semi-possible. OMG! It’s a virus! We understand viruses and how they spread. It makes sense.

    Similarly, this is part of why people believe the QAnon crap. They need something to fear–but we live in the safest time EVER. And… rich people killing babies and extracting some sort of drug from their blood? That’s entirely possible. Look at that scary stem-cell stuff they’re doing!

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  65. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    Sure, but as I said, zombies have been parts of our culture for a long, long time, and all of sudden fifteen years ago we got scared they were going to attack us? People seem to treat this as a serious threat, which is what confounds me.

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  66. Kurtz says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    This seems like ship of theseus territory. The reversal stage follows deterioration of the bell, mesoglea, and tentacles.

    Yes, it requires dedifferentiation of some cells of the previous individual. But I’m skeptical whether we can really say that it’s an immortal individual, because the stolon and polyp stage ultimately gives rise to multiple clones.

    Seems much more like clonal colonies of plants, fungi, or bacteria rather than an immortal individual able to reconstitute itself.

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  67. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    I’ve never seen a newspaper article about surviving a vampire/monster/ghost apocalypse from an allegedly serious source, whereas I did see one about a zombie apocalypse today.

    I think most zombie-survival guides are intended with about the same seriousness as people who build actual Rube Goldberg devices–it’s not exactly meant as humor, but it’s not meant to create something with true practical value, either. It’s more of an intellectual exercise. And zombie-apocalypse stories have always leant themselves more to that kind of exercise than vampire or ghost stories. As I mentioned there’s long been an obsession with logistics in the stories, going back to Romero’s original film (where a significant part of the plot involves an argument between two characters over whether to stay upstairs or lock themselves in the basement).

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  68. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    This makes sense. Thanks.

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  69. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Arguments about how to save humanity, or at least parts of it, are a major component of disaster and alien invasion films, too.

    The CDC has a zombie preparedness page. Not for an actual zombie apocalypse, but as a metaphor for preparedness. I’m not sure what age group the poster is aimed at, but it could give young kids nightmares.

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  70. John McCann says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “If you want the real SF way in which we achieve immortality, it’ll be mapping the content of the brain and transferring them to a different body.”

    Leading to the rather deeper question of whether the content of my brain is synonymous with “me”? And if not, whether the content of my brain is the segment of the whole chorus that makes up “me” that I’d want to become immortal. Hmmmm….

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  71. Kurtz says:

    @CSK:

    Here’s one plausible explanation:

    The growth of video game culture becoming more mainstream via the growth of the internet. What was once an activity engaged alone or with friend on a couch became networked through the internet rather than p2p connection or hotseat arrangements.

    This started in the 90s, but two things happened: home internet connectivity reaching ubiquity and consoles (starting with Xbox, but not PS2) shipping with an integrated modem.

    One of the most popular video game franchises at that time was Resident Evil. Who better to embrace build internet culture than a once isolated, but now connected, group of people who in a previous generation would have spent 100+ hours playing Final Fantasy VII?

    And what would naturally be a common subject-matter for that group but one of the biggest video game franchises?

    If you saw the 21 Jump Street movie, there is that scene when Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum arrive at school. On the way they were discussing the simple social groupings they remembered from school from just a few years before.

    They get there and start scanning the cliques and are baffled by the various little subcultures, culminating in a group of what looks like a 50s Americana-styled group and a group of proto-E-girls. Hill exclaims, “what the fuck are those things?” in reference to the last clique.

    A mostly disconnected generation with a few sub-cultures that crossed over a little gave way to a connected generation with a bunch of sub-cultures that had massive influences on each other.

    The artifacts that had a broad enough appeal, horror movies have long been a teen staple, became the shared popular culture. And because everyone was on the internet, the tech nerd stigma was washed away.

    Aside: The first instance of a highway sign being reprogrammed to read “Zombies Ahead” was in 2009. Hilarious. Almost as funny is that those signs almost all had the same password: DOTS. 2009 was truly a different time.

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  72. Jay L Gischer says:

    The thing about zombies that makes them great for a certain kind of story is that they are slow. (Yeah, some people have changed that, never mind). You can see them coming. If you get yourself organized with the other non-zombies, you can manage. You can stay alive. And the way these stories go, there are always just rafts of people who can’t manage to figure it out, get on the same page, and beat the zombies. In some sense, the zombies aren’t the villains, the other people are. Zombie movies put human failure modes on display.

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  73. Jen says:

    @CSK: Cocktail receptions for legislators supplemented the grocery budgets of interns and low-paid staffers alike when I worked as a legislative aide.

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  74. Teve says:

    So 2 small, simple species (and a few more) thru evolutionary processes found a way to live forever does not mean humanity can manage said feat for itself. If evolution couldn’t do it, I really doubt we can.

    But evolution isn’t trying to maximize lifespan. It’s possible that organisms are programmed by evolution to die approximately when they’re no longer helping their genes propagate–get them out of the way so the youth have more food. In which case it might be a fairly simple set of biochemical switches to flip. Why should a dog live 20 years, and a whale 200? They’re both mammals. It doesn’t make sense to say that human age is irrevocably fixed.

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  75. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Do you suppose that was intentional, or am I crediting the legislators with too much generosity?

    Of course, they could have paid the aides better, I suppose.

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  76. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The thing about zombies that makes them great for a certain kind of story is that they are slow. (Yeah, some people have changed that, never mind).

    Slow-moving monsters are a common trope in horror movies (a lot of the slashers never run) because it’s creepy, and it enables the suspense in a scene to escalate. In most of the classic zombie films, there’s an idea that an individual zombie isn’t that big of a threat (as long as you’re prepared for it–many of them cause havoc because the humans aren’t expecting it), but in groups they become unstoppable. That I think is one of the unique things about zombies that contributes to what I mentioned about how these films tend to focus on logistics, rather than on the monsters as individuals.

    Fast zombies were a trope that I believe began with 28 Days Later. (There were earlier zombie films that occasionally showed a fast-moving zombie, but I think this one really popularized the trope.) I suspect it had partly to do with the film’s low budget, as it’s easier to hide special effects limitations when you have the creatures zipping around. But it also makes the zombies a bit scarier, and that may be why a lot of subsequent movies–even those with much larger budgets–imitated it (including the 2004 remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead).

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  77. Jen says:

    @CSK: Oh, the receptions were sponsored/paid for by lobbyists. They were for legislators, but no one really cared if staff showed up (I mean who is going to tell a Senator’s legislative aide that she can’t have some deep-fried ravioli and celery sticks? Yes, that was “dinner” on a lot of nights).

    During the legislative session, hearings would go well into the night. Diving into one of those receptions for an hour was pretty much the only opportunity to eat. Symbiotic relationships abound.

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  78. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I suspect you are right. Monster movies and Horror movies are constants, but what they are about changes over time. I think of it more as directors and writers riffing on the same central theme rather than as a fad, but YMMV.

    In my lifetime there have been cycles of small to medium sized things made into dangerous giants, vampires, werewolves and zombies. Three of four lasted well over a decade.

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  79. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Similarly, this is part of why people believe the QAnon crap. They need something to fear–but we live in the safest time EVER. And… rich people killing babies and extracting some sort of drug from their blood? That’s entirely possible. Look at that scary stem-cell stuff they’re doing!

    I think things like QAnon popularize the zombie trope. An unthinking, unknowable mass that infects regular people and makes them part of the hoard — that description could be zombies or QAnon itself.

    We the growing polarization in our society, and the othering of half the country, we (legitimately) fear a world run by monsters. Nazis keep coming back. We can’t even get rid of Nazis. The zombie apocalypse just seems inevitable at this point.

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  80. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK:

    I’m looking for the catalyst. There has to be one.

    I thought it happened because someone was struggling to find an idea for a blockbuster movie/TV series and decided that recycling George Romero was the ticket. Seriously. I’m not a follower of pop culture, so it may be more involved than that, but it’s the take of an ignint cracker–whatever that’s worth.

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  81. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I should have known the lobbyists would pay.

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  82. Michael Cain says:

    @Jen: And graduate students in general, anytime we were allowed into the reception for a visiting scholar.

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  83. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: “28 Days Later” in 2002. Without a doubt. Wildly successful, very original, indie movie made on a shoestring budget. The studios wanted more of the same, the writers and directors wanted to get them some of its cool factor, and audiences were really open to things in the same vein.

    And of course a Zombie apocalypse is as close to a perfect platform on which to riff as you can get. They get to use any or all of the existing technology, architecture, environments with absolutely none of the rules. And the variety produced on that platform has been astounding. “The Girl With All The Gifts” is nothing like “The Dead Don’t Die” or “Fido” or “Zombieland” or “Shaun of the Dead” or “Train to Busan” or “Day of the Dead”, not to mention TV shows iZombie (of my favorite genre – “A police procedural but the detective is an X” where X can be Zombie, Satan, Immortal Being, or anything else) and Braindead, a delightful insiders look at the way American politicians work and interact.

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  84. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yes, but The Walking Dead tv series started its run in 2010, and the whole zombie apocalypse craze predates that by five years, anyway. There was a zombie apocalypse parade (come as your favorite undead person!) years ago in Somerville, Ma.

    I think Kurtz and Mu Yixiao probably came up with the best explanations for the fixation on zombies as opposed to any other kind of monster/creature.

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  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  86. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  87. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kurtz: I just thought you should know that because of your earlier comment, I went and looked up what an E-girl was, and ended up watching a video that was a bunch of Tik Tok clips of young women (and a few young men!) transforming themselves into E-girls, and somehow that ended up putting me in a very good mood.

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  88. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I see your point, but then again, a number of movies roughly of that era were wildly popular and didn’t spark any sort of weird concomitant craze about coming apocalypses.

    I mean, no one ever thought we should prepare for a giant lizard rising from Tokyo Bay or New York Harbor and stomping the shit out of us.

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  89. Mu Yixiao says:

    @CSK:

    I mean, no one ever thought we should prepare for a giant lizard rising from Tokyo Bay or New York Harbor and stomping the shit out of us.

    That’s because the only thing we could do is run.

    Everyone just knows that they are smart enough to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

    I say that jokingly, but it plays into the Aristotelian notion of “catharsis”. We identify with the actors on stage, they suffer then defeat the monster/evil/whatever, and we are victorious.

    Which brings me to something that has bothered me about modern “torture porn” like Saw: There’s no catharsis! We don’t defeat the evil. In fact… I’d say that by going back to watch umpteen sequels–and enjoying them–we are the evil.

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  90. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I bet there’s a trove of stories in that chest. One from my own: I learned a lot about art (figure drawing in particular) from a young woman who was (1) my classmate in a philosophy class, (2) who becomes my South African roomate’s gf, (3) who becomes a nude figure model for the art dept, (4) who becomes THE nude figure model in my best friend’s art class. The slow-burn of this unfolding, over the course of several weeks, is one of my fondest memories.

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  91. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Are you British?

    Kinda, not really, it’s complicated.

    Short(ish) answer: I was born in the US (deep south) but spent a considerable chunk of my youth in the UK, mostly England and Wales. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time as an adult in the UK, and I have good friend and collaborators there too.

    So, you might say that I’ve been (and continue to be) imprinted upon…..which comes out in my writing/speaking. Hence, a print version of my stream of consciousness could easily contain “ya’ll” + “rigour” + “supper” + “daft” etc…

    And that’s before we introduce Welsh and others to mix. This stuff fascinates and humbles me. You mentioned my insecurities the other day – this is one of them. Ie, fluency in my non-native tongue. Pushing too hard on that results in me retreating to my crate, tail between legs, whimpering.

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  92. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Well, if we’re smart enough to defeat the zombies, then why do they terrorize us so much? In fact, how can an enemy that’s readily defeated bring on an apocalypse? “Apocalypse” means “the destruction of the world,” or at least destruction on a catastrophic scale.

    As for torture porn, I do not understand its appeal in the least.

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  93. Kylopod says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Which brings me to something that has bothered me about modern “torture porn” like Saw: There’s no catharsis! We don’t defeat the evil. In fact… I’d say that by going back to watch umpteen sequels–and enjoying them–we are the evil.

    The cathartic nature of the horror genre has always been complicated. It may be true that in a majority of horror films, the killer or monster gets defeated (or at least temporarily vanquished) at the end. (I’m not sure if this is true or not–I haven’t done a count.) But there are plenty of examples where the killer wins, and there’s a fairly old tradition–not just in horror, but also thriller and mystery–where the killer is a Magnificent Bastard type who outsmarts everyone and executes a perfect crime. And it helps if the victims are assholes, too.

    But, additionally, I think part of the point of horror is that we get a cathartic release by watching terrible things happen on screen, knowing it can’t harm us in the real world.

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  94. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    Sure, but as I said, zombies have been parts of our culture for a long, long time, and all of sudden fifteen years ago we got scared they were going to attack us? People seem to treat this as a serious threat, which is what confounds me.

    I don’t know anyone who takes zombies seriously. All I’ve seen is the plethora of zombie SF movies and shows popping up. The question seems to be is why zombies are popular in our mythos, why people like those movies.

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  95. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    I don’t know anyone who takes zombies seriously, either, which is why I question why a legitimate news organ would run a story on surviving the zombie apocalypse as if it were something that could actually happen.

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  96. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK: @CSK:

    That’s to get click hits from the survivalists, specifically the kind that think the one essential tool in survival is an AR-15 or some such. Those good ol boys think it’s all about shooting the hoards which will come for them. They view people who aren’t like them something like zombies, and it wouldn’t do to write about “surviving the dark person apocalypse”. They surf the web constantly for the latest tips and tricks about shooting people.

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  97. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    Yeah, but the ZA has been a longtime fad among left-leaning college students, who aren’t survivalists.

    I really have to disagree with you here. The survivalists are so obsessed with God and guns that I doubt they know or care what a zombie is.

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  98. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: But evolution isn’t trying to maximize lifespan.

    What evolution is doing is maximizing the passing on of our genes.

    It’s possible that organisms are programmed by evolution to die approximately when they’re no longer helping their genes propagate–

    Yes, this is possible. (altho, with humans (elephants too iirc) that rule would come with a caveat. Women live long after they are no longer capable of procreating, the question is why?) Cancer happens. Why indeed?

    get them out of the way so the youth have more food.

    I doubt it. That implies a conscious choice. Evolution is random.

    In which case it might be a fairly simple set of biochemical switches to flip.

    Purest speculation, but it does rais the obvious question: If it was so simple as to flip a few switches, why hasn’t it happened in over 500 million years? (except for in a few very simple organisms that we don’t fully understand)

    Why should a dog live 20 years, and a whale 200? They’re both mammals.

    C’mon, surely you can see that they are entirely different creatures, adapted to entirely different environments, with entirely different diets, under entirely different evolutionary pressures, etc etc etc. As to why, that’s a good question. Maybe somebody could study that.

    As a starting point they could do a study as to whether different species have different max life spans. Oh, they did that, it appears to be so.

    It doesn’t make sense to say that human age is irrevocably fixed.

    Nobody has said that. This study just says it appears there are different maximum life span for different species but they all seem to follow a similar pattern. More studies are needed.

    Either way, even if at some point in the future humanity does figure out a way to stretch lives beyond the current max, my original statement still applies: “You’re gonna die.” Don’t feel bad, so am I.

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  99. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Were you trying to insult me with that response?

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  100. flat earth luddite says:

    @Teve:

    And I thought the ALC (to say nothing of Missouri Synod) were bat-shirt crazy* all those years ago when they ran my pastor out because she wouldn’t answer the question

    “why are you a single woman in her 30’s? Are you gay, or perverse?”

    Congratulations to the SBC for updating the definition of whack-job!

    As Cracker would (and did) say, WA!

    *apologies to all those professionals who are bothered by my use of the term of art “crazy.” But I am, after all, a simple Luddite.

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  101. Mimai says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    Allow me: “The ALC had shirts made out of bat shit that are cray cray!”

    Consider this one pro bono….on account of your Luddite simplicity. Next time I’ll have to charge. You’re welcome.

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  102. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    At least you’re not writing Kidlit. Michael Reynolds reports that use of the word has been officially proscribed.

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  103. Sleeping Dog says:

    We were discussing bears earlier…

    Bear captured on video breaking into car in New Hampshire

    Thornton definitely counts as living in the sticks, so bears are a regular occurrence. Interestingly, in 1950 their were about 1000 bears in NH and today they number about 5000. State human pop in the 50’s was about 400K and now is about 1.3M

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  104. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    So this is the miscreant who’s been staging all those car break-ins.

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  105. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..Japanese bear?

    No. Haven’t heard anything about our local bear either.
    So did you and your hippie chick girlfriend encounter any bears on you nature walk?

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  106. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    In fact… I’d say that by going back to watch umpteen sequels–and enjoying them–we are the evil.

    But isn’t that the point?

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  107. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Okay. How about because significant numbers of us are really, at heart, sick little bunnies?

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  108. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    We saw some bears. Some bears saw us. But it worked out OK. Well, for me. Turned out I run faster than my girl. . . sorry, ex-girlfriend.

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  109. Kurtz says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Hot damn! I helped make someone’s day better! I shall have a hop in my step for the next day or two.

    But the real stars are the TikTok e-folk.

    The youth are inexplicable and fascinating to me.

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  110. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Yup, a wanton criminal, that because he/she’s a protected group will be let off with relocation and a donut.

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  111. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Always a possibility.

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  112. flat earth luddite says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    (You want to save the seventh round in case the first six don’t work.)

    Funny, same rule I used way back when, dealing with the Los Banditos benevolent association members around the corner from the store. FWIW, it much more effective than a can of pebbles.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Can’t speak for the rest of y’all, but yes, I certainly am. Albeit a reformed and rehabilitated sick little bunny. Most of the time.

    @Mimai:
    Thank you for the professional courtesy. I’ll try to remember to use this in the future.

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  113. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    I was born in the US (deep south) but spent a considerable chunk of my youth in the UK, mostly England and Wales. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time as an adult in the UK, and I have good friend and collaborators there too.

    So, you might say that I’ve been (and continue to be) imprinted upon…..which comes out in my writing/speaking. Hence, a print version of my stream of consciousness could easily contain “ya’ll” + “rigour” + “supper” + “daft” etc…

    One of my favorite courses was History of the English Language.

    I don’t think the topic was broached in the class itself, but I remember afterward thinking that some elements of AAVE and certain dialects of Southern American English have some elements from earlier speech patterns.

    Never really pursued it beyinf that impression though.

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  114. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Unless you plan on going all Leo on a hungry bear, best keep one in the chamber.

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  115. charon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The Atlantic published a piece on menopause a while back, which is known in only 3 species of mammal = humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales. Apparently grannies are more effective at helping grandkids survive than at keeping their own kids healthy, because of the nature of the relevant social organization..

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  116. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz:
    @Jay L Gischer:

    This back and forth gave me a vicarious dopamine hit too. It’s an amazing and underutilized superpower, making someone’s day better. Hell, it can even be selfish to deploy…..and I say there’s virtue in that (which isn’t to endorse the book).

    Allow me to piggyback on your exchange. A participant in one of our clinical trials is an older Black woman. Life has not been kind to her – severe bipolar disorder (with psychotic features), recent family deaths (murder), etc. Despite all this, she is “all in” on the trial, committed to meeting her goals, etc.

    This would be inspiring on its own. But here’s the thing that delights me to no end: she likes to roller skate for fun! Roller skate! Hot damn indeed. I’ve been savoring that tidbit all week. So I figured I’d pass it along in hopes it infects others too.

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  117. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz:

    Yeah, the history of AAVE is interesting, probably because it’s not precisely mapped out. My own take is that it’s causally dense. Which isn’t unusual as far as languages go, but I think is especially true for AAVE given, well, history.

    And once you enter Gullah into the conversation, all bets are off. Linguists can get rather intense on this.

    I am merely an appreciator and hack “practitioner.”

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  118. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: First off, WTF were you trying to say? You said some shit, I replied with some other shit. If you find that insulting, that’s your problem, not mine.

    We are on a road. The fountain of youth exit isn’t even in sight and there is absolutely no evidence that it even exists. If you want to engage in magical thinking and pretend that some how some way it is right around the bend and you’ll be able to get there, fine.

    I could say more but really, I have no idea wtf your problem is and tbh, it’s not my problem.

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  119. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I have black bears wander thru on a semi regular basis. I’ve only seen one but the dogs let me know when I’ve had a night time visitor.

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  120. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charon: Yes, that is a theory (could have sworn elephants went thru menopause too, maybe not? now that you mention it tho, I do recall about killer whales) and it makes sense to me, despite the fact that my own grandma was a terribly sweet and loving woman but she had no great wisdom to share. (shrug).

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  121. Jax says:

    @Mimai: I’m often surprised at how many middle-aged people I know whose eyes light up when roller-skating is mentioned. I suspect it’s a “reminiscence” thing, back from when they were children/teens and roller-skating rinks were the hot new entertainment.

    Have you ever watched any roller-derby? It’s one sport I would go watch in person. Those chicks are vicious!!!

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  122. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I had to go to Wally world this afternoon to pick up a few things. Figured as long as I was there I’d get a few bottle’s of wine. Grabbed my few groceries, swung by the pharmaceuticals aisle for a couple things and then went to the “liquor store” for my wine and to check out. I don’t know why this store has a “liquor store” for everything but beer but it does. It’s a pain in the ass but would be an even bigger pita if I checked all my other stuff out in the regular lanes before checking out my wine at the L store. So I don’t.

    Today, I got in line with my 10 or so items and 3 bottles of wine just before 2 other folks got in line right behind me with half full carts. And then a youngish guy who is definitely not swimming in dough, got behind them with 3 airline bottles of something.

    Anyway, my turn comes and I am feeling guilty about making this guy wait in line behind me and every one else with cart fulls of stuff so I turn to him, hold out my hand and say, “Here, I’ll get that for you.”

    The cashier checks it out and I return the bottles to him and he says, “Thanx. Are you sure I can’t pay you for it?” and I realize the ambiguity of what I said. I have no idea how much they cost, but it can’t be much, right?

    “F*ck it.” I think, “Nah, I got it. It’s my good deed for the day.” I say.

    I don’t know how much that smile of his cost but it was worth far more than I paid.

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  123. Mimai says:

    @Jax:

    Your suspicion rings true for me. Roller skating = Kool & the Gang = good feels.

    Have I ever watched roller-derby? Damn right I have! It’s a blast to attend. Highly recommend. Does WY have any leagues? Maybe in Cheyenne?

    And yes, those chicks are vicious. They also do great community work around my parts. Good people.

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  124. Mimai says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Love this! Buying groceries (small or large) for those “not swimming in dough” is a gift….especially to oneself. Hat tip, head nod, and smile your way.

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  125. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    https://www.dialectsarchive.com/

    Welcome [back?] to the time sink.

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  126. Teve says:

    @charon: yeah there’s been some good research over the last few decades suggesting that human grandparents play a major role in child rearing in a way that, for instance, salmon grandparents wouldn’t. Gives evolution a reason to put a longer timer on the Kill Switch. 😛

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  127. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Jackson had a league, before COVID! I haven’t checked to see if they’ve started back up yet. I knew a couple of girls on the team, that’s how I got introduced to it. I was in one of those “single mom” classes with them, it was great fun doing hair and makeup right at the end of class on roller derby nights, then going to cheer them on!

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  128. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz:

    Good grief man! You just did the online equivalent of leaving a box of bindles on my doorstep, ringing the bell, and then taking off.

    And to think, I had such grand plans for the weekend….

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  129. Jax says:

    @Mimai: (Giggling)….binnnnndles!!!!

    The commentariat around here include some of the most interesting people. 😛

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