Open Forum

Where you can't be off-topic because there IS no topic.

And . . . go.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    apparently Patton Oswalt is supporting John Cornyn’s opponent, so all yesterday John Cornyn’s Twitter feed was posting years old tweets where Oswalt was using dirty words, to shame him.

    It…was less than a success.

  2. Teve says:
  3. Teve says:
  4. Kathy says:

    I’ve a question: why are so many people on the right upset when they hear anyone speak any language other than English in public?

    Follow-up question: do they not know that English is a foreign language originating in England?

  5. CSK says:

    After serving 35 years as a Republican, Iowa state legislator Andy McKean has decided to become a Democrat–because Trump is such a loathsome human being.

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  6. Kathy says:

    On other things, Jeff Wright just launched his new podcast on the Odyssey, called “Odyssey the Podcast.” This comes on the heels of his very entertaining and enlightening “Trojan War the Podcast,” and a companion series of podcasts for Netflix’s “Troy Fall of a City” entitled “Watching Troy Fall.”

  7. Teve says:

    @Kathy: it hits both the Fear of the Unknown circuit and the Bigotry circuit.

    Psychologists have found that conservatives are fundamentally more anxious than liberals, which may be why they typically desire stability, structure and clear answers even to complicated questions.

    Unconscious Reactions Separate Liberals and Conservatives.

  8. drj says:

    @Teve:

    Psychologists have found that conservatives are fundamentally more anxious than liberals…

    Reading the article (from 2012) you linked to made me feel quite sad, because its claim that liberals and conservatives can find common ground seems to be quite outdated by now:

    [Psychologist Jonathan] Haidt has a message for both sides. He wants the left to acknowledge that the right’s emphasis on laws, institutions, customs and religion is valuable. Conservatives recognize that democracy is a huge achievement and that maintaining the social order requires imposing constraints on people.

    Instead of acting like democracy is a huge achievement, Republicans are increasingly turning away from it and gunning hard for minority rule.

    They only want to impose restraints on other people. They are perfectly fine with a lawless presidency.

    Of course, you could make the point that modern-day conservatives aren’t actually conservative, but that would lead to a rapid (and not very fruitful) descent into no-true-Scotsman territory.

    It reminded me of the classic I miss Republicans (from 2004).

    I think we still haven’t sufficiently internalized the fact that sensible conservatism is, practically speaking, as dead as a dodo.

  9. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    it hits both the Fear of the Unknown circuit and the Bigotry circuit.

    Maybe it does, but it seems extreme even for xenophobic bigots. After all, the world is full of tourists, exchange students, diplomats, immigrants, and other people who speak other languages.

    It’s also such a petty, insignificant thing to fixate on. After all, what does anyone care what language two or more people use in private conversation?

  10. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: I grew up in a small white conservative town, and yeah I headed off to college as a libertarian. I was pretty frustrated that my algebra lecturer couldn’t speak understandable English. But that’s kind of fair, since I was paying big bucks to get an education.

    I was definitely immature; I’m sure I made fun of what other languages sounded like if I was with friends. But I don’t think it ever occurred to me to be mad about it!

    I don’t really have an answer. Seems like bigotry is the most likely cause.

  11. Teve says:

    I headed off to college as a libertarian.

    that’s about when many of us are libertarian. That’s when I was.

  12. CSK says:

    In a fit of pique, Trump has ordered his staff not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    It’s fun when civilians try to take on comics. It’s like a random street punk thinking he’s going to fight Mike Tyson. No one beats a comic, this is their job.

  14. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Maybe the WH Correspondents Association ought to forego a guest speaker, and just show a rerun of Obama’s performance in 2011.

  15. SenyorDave says:

    The more I think about it, the more it seems like impeachment should happen. The Democrats have to make the case to the country that Trump did things that make it mandatory that he be removed from office. Elizabeth Warren laid it out very clearly:
    1. The Russians interfered in the election process.
    2. Mueller was named to investigate the interference
    3. Trump attempted to block (obstruct) the investigation in numerous instances
    4. It does not matter if there was no smoking gun for finding they colluded or entered into qa conspiracy with the Russians. Obstruction of justice does need an underlying crime. If a person is being tried for for murder and tries to bribe a judge is doesn’t matter if he is innocent of the murder charge, it is still an illegal act.
    Trump has acted in a way that places him above the law. Since the law can’t act, the solution is the impeachment process. That is what it is there for.

    Lay out the case, have hearings, subpoena witnesses. This person has to be held accountable. As far as the politics go, I am somewhat comforted by the fact the even with advanced viewing of the Mueller report and AG willing to lie on national tv, it appears that general public was not fooled and seems understand that the Mueller report says that Trump did some pretty bad things. Impeach him and uncover just how bad those things were.

  16. Guarneri says:

    Now that we know that Kamala Harris’ family lineage includes an avowed racist and slave owner, does she have to pay reparations?

  17. Kathy says:

    @Franklin:

    I was pretty frustrated that my algebra lecturer couldn’t speak understandable English.

    I assume anyone would be. A teacher at a school ought to be fluent in the language of their students (even those teaching foreign languages).

    I’ll let the matter rest, except to wonder whether that happens in other countries.

  18. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It reminds me of this story from when I was in High School and my MBA uncle was working for the IOC:

    Two black guys get off a plane in Barcelona. A pickpocket–Barcelona is rife with them–snatches the wallet of one of the men, and begins running away. Unfortunately for the pickpocket, the year is 1992, the Olympics are about to begin, and the man standing next to his victim is, officially, The Fastest Man on Earth. 😛

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Hey, I meant to ask:

    1) What is the plausible, innocent explanation for the fact that Trump refuses to have any other American when he meets Putin?
    2) What’s the innocent explanation for why he won’t release his tax returns?
    3) What’s the innocent explanation for why he refuses to let our government employees testify before our Congress?
    4) And finally, doesn’t it bother you that Trump the businessman made far, far less than he’d have made just investing in a mutual fund?

  20. Joe says:

    I am of two minds, SenyorDave, about impeachment. On the one hand, it’s ultimately a waste of time and attention since this Senate will never convict. On the other hand, if lying about an affair is an impeachable offense, there is no way that Trump has committed far more serious impeachable offenses. But I think Stephen Taylor has explained this repeatedly and accurately. Allegiance to party over branch of government makes impeachment or conviction for impeachment a nullity if the President’s party controls either house (0r both houses) of Congress.

  21. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Michael Reynolds says:
    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 11:39

    @Teve:
    It’s fun when civilians try to take on comics. It’s like a random street punk thinking he’s going to fight Mike Tyson. No one beats a comic, this is their job.

    Most people who troll Patton Oswalt end up embarrassed, or worse. Cornyn and his people are amateurs in Patton’s world. He will make them cry.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    Now that we know that Kamala Harris’ family lineage includes an avowed racist and slave owner, does she have to pay reparations?

    I’m sure there are plenty of black people who have racist slave owner ancestors…perhaps you ignorant of history

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Reminds me of an old saw something to the effect of not needing to worry about computers becoming so smart that they enslave mankind because we’ll be able to trick them into forming political parties and they’ll be too busy fighting with each other to pay us any attention at all.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: And when Trump is gone, he’ll discover that he has fundamental differences with Democratic Party policy and return to the fold. It’s a category error. He needs to focus on what Trump is getting done–ala Sir Mittens–and not get distracted by the boorishness. Particularly as a legislator from Iowa.

  25. CSK says:

    @Kathy: I find that idea quite appealing. I can imagine Trump’s reaction. The rage-tweeting would be epic.

  26. SenyorDave says:

    @Joe: I agree with all the points. I think is a special case. Trump is 100% evil – he is a corrupt, racist, amoral pig. This is worse than Watergate in so many ways, and when you add in that he appears to actively want to tear this country apart, the attempt must be made to remove him. He is a threat to both the long term and short term well-being of this country.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri: I’m sincerely curious: What is going through your head when you post this drivel? You can’t expect that anyone in this comment section is going to react with more than a “what the hell is he going on about now?” And especially something like this. I assume it is blowing up on the right wing moronosphere, but even if it were true, who cares?

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Back in the days when I was corrupting the minds of first year college students, I asked my students to read some selections from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In one, he noted that in areas where there is racial prejudice against blacks that prejudice frequently did not extend to obviously foreign blacks. He cited the case of a friend of his who would put on a turban, adopt a passable British accent, and tell the maitre d of a segregated restaurant that he was visiting from Nigeria, had heard wonderful things about the food and wondered would it be possible to get seating for his party on short notice. Malcolm claimed that his friend was almost never refused. The moral of the story, Malcolm noted, was that America didn’t have a color problem; America had a negro problem.

    I think the same sort of thing carries on today with RWNJs and foreign language speaking. When they hear it at a nice restaurant or such, no problem–the people are tourists. At the grocery store is another issue because tourists don’t go there.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I’ve been really enjoying the podcast “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!” — it’s light and irreverent, and has a feminist perspective which ends up being a fun contrast to the underlying Greek myths.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Guarneri: Is that the best you can do? You’ve lost your edge, brah.

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    1
  31. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    It’s also such a petty, insignificant thing to fixate on. After all, what does anyone care what language two or more people use in private conversation?

    If the conversation is in a public place, is it really a private conversation?

    You hear people talking, and your mind attempts to parse the words and just fails. It’s disconcerting if you’re not used to it. And if the language uses sounds that aren’t used in English, those are quite jarring.

    It takes time to get used to it.

    I grew up in a very white suburb, then moved to NYC for college, and I remember how much that bothered me. Not on a logical level, but on a purely emotional level before logic kicked in. Add to that the simple fact that some languages sound like agitated English (The highly clipped syllables of Korean, for instance).

    If I resented the non-English speakers for other reasons, I would absolutely focus in on the language as an affront.

    I was always more prone to the clueless casual racism of overlooking other people’s experiences, rather than the more focused “them thar is the mud people” racism, so I thought it was weird that foreign languages bothered me so much.

    And, since open threads are all about meandering topics: now it bothers me that we don’t really have different words for those two forms of racism. There’s a world of difference between clueless idiots and white supremacists, and we don’t have the language to discuss it. The clueless idiot racists get defensive when their racism is pointed out in part because they know they aren’t white supremacists.

  32. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Florence King tells a similar story about her grandmother. “Granny” was an ardent segregationist, but she had no objection to diplomats from African countries being accommodated in the best restaurants, hotels, etc., because they were foreigners.

  33. CSK says:

    The McCain family has announced they’ll support Biden, when he jumps in, for the primary and in the general if he wins the primary.

  34. Teve says:

    @Gustopher:

    And, since open threads are all about meandering topics: now it bothers me that we don’t really have different words for those two forms of racism. There’s a world of difference between clueless idiots and white supremacists, and we don’t have the language to discuss it. The clueless idiot racists get defensive when their racism is pointed out in part because they know they aren’t white supremacists.

    True. When Grandpa Harold calls someone oriental it’s not very useful to apply to him the same word you use when you’re describing Adolf Hitler. 😛

  35. Teve says:

    Add to that the simple fact that some languages sound like agitated English (The highly clipped syllables of Korean, for instance).

    I’m somewhat tone deaf, so it wouldn’t be possible for me to learn Korean or Mandarin or Cantonese, but I’ve never wanted to, because I’ve always found those languages unpleasant to listen to.

    The two prettiest languages in the world are Wolof and Italian.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    When Grandpa Harold calls someone oriental

    Not to mention the fact that “Oriental” was simply a geographic designation some decades ago. Nowadays we refer to “The East” or “Eastern Countries” or more sensibly “Asian” countries. Someone is of Asian descent now, and “Oriental” is simply no longer in favor. But the idea that “Oriental” is inherently racist doesn’t make any sense. It’s simply a different term. Of course, people that are prejudiced against someone of Asian or Oriental descent, or prejudiced against Asian or Oriental countries might use those terms in ways that are obviously racist, but that doesn’t invalidate the terms.

  37. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m not that much into mythology. I started listening to Jeff’s podcast because he promised some history in every ep. He delivered, very nicely, too, but I got hooked on the story, as well as Jeff’s inimitable style of storytelling.

    Too hooked. I really got inside of it, thinking of means of finding a less, well, Greek-tragedy outcome for all. Meantime, I went on to play some Great Courses on mythology, Greek theater (mostly tragedy), and read the Iliad in a prose translation (I don’t do well reading poetry, I feel like I’m singing to myself).

    And that’s about as far as I want to take it. But Jeff’s really good at telling a story.

  38. Joe says:

    @Teve: Korean is not a tonal language and not from the same language family as Cantonese and Madarin. It’s an Altaic language like Japanese and Mongolian (and Hungarian and Finish). So, your tone deafness is no problem. Have at!

    @MarkedMan: Go back a little farther and “orient” meant all of Asia, including and particularly Southwest Asia. I used to be confused going into museums where the Orientalists section had lots of paintings of I would judge to have been set in Iraq or “Persia.”

    I find the term “Asian” to be a little difficult since Americans tend to use unconsciously it to mean East and Southeast Asia. I recall the first Iraq war in the early ’90s being called, somewhat jarringly, the war in Southwest Asia. I once responded to a form for the business where I work that asked how many “Asian or Asian American” principals we had by including in the number my partner who has an Iranian father and is generally indistinguishable from any other white American.

  39. Teve says:

    all those quotes where Trump asked Don Mcgahn “why are you taking notes, I can’t believe you’re taking notes, I’ve had a bunch of lawyers and they never took notes.”?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pBdGOrcUEg8

  40. Teve says:

    @Joe: I knew several Asian languages were tonal, and that Japanese was an exception, but Japanese is freaking ridiculously hard for other reasons. I had several South Korean friends when I lived in Raleigh, but nobody here in Florida.

    A South Korean friend of mine had a cute little idiosyncrasy, he used the plural s with the word stuff. So if he had to go back to his dorm room to get a book, he had to get his stuff. If he had to go back to his dorm room to get three books, he had to get his stuffs.

  41. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    If the conversation is in a public place, is it really a private conversation?

    Yes, because it’s not directed at the public. There’s no expectation of privacy, but people talking in a public setting aren’t including the public in their conversation.

    As to the rest, I’m trying to relate. I dislike loud sounds, especially loud music. So when i can make out someone else’s conversation, my mind tries to shut it out. It’s not like other people’s conversations are interesting anyway. I’ve little apetite for gossip, and none about people I don’t know. But the language used is the least of my worries. In fact, if it’s a language incomprehensible to me, I find it far less distracting.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Just off the top of my head, I can’t think of any Koreans that I’ve known or taught that don’t add “s” to “stuff.”

  43. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Cool! maybe there’s some reason that we would understand if we knew Korean!

  44. Teve says:

    Kevin Drum on the census question and the Supreme Court:

    Republicans know that they’re in a demographic death spiral, so they’ve been doing their best to nickel-and-dime additional votes over the past decade. They’ve tried voter ID laws, gerrymandering, targeting of black voters, and now the census. In every case, the Republican majority on the Supreme Court has taken their side. It’s hard to think of a series of cases that could more clearly demonstrate that Republicans on the Supreme Court are naked partisans when it comes to voting issues, but they don’t seem to care. This is why Mitch McConnell broke the Senate in order to get another Republican on the court, and it looks likely to pay off yet again.

  45. Guarneri says:

    49,000 HRC emails on A Weiners computer. Wow. That’s a lot of yoga moves.

    And emails in Obama’s office? Another yoga aficionado. Who knew??

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri: What the hell are you talking about?

  47. Gustopher says:

    @Guarneri:

    49,000 HRC emails on A Weiners computer. Wow. That’s a lot of yoga moves.

    OMG! Are you trapped in the past? We’ll try to get some kind of wormhole to 2016, but there’s a chance you’ll have to take the long way around.

    Listen, I need you to invest in Amazon stock — back in your time, it was trading at about $1200, and it’s up to around $1800, having peaked at a little over $2000. I can’t get money to you back in 2016, but invest everything you can.

    20% cut of the profits to a collection of food banks in our respective hometowns, and well call it even.

  48. Franklin says:

    @Teve: I tried to learn Japanese a decade ago. Worked on it consistently for a few years. I had several neighbors to practice with. Total failure, though! What’s with counting, and why can’t I can’t do it the same for different types of objects? Actually, my biggest personal problem was probably vocabulary, I just couldn’t keep it straight. I’m sure grumpyrealist will breeze in here to say how easy it is …

  49. Joe says:

    @Teve: Japanese is one of the simplest phonetic languages to pronounce. There are literally 56 sounds in the language, with two or three that are difficult for English speakers. Reading it is a bit of a nightmare. Although it has fewer than 2000 characters in regular use (I recall Chinese has more like 7000), characters have to be read in context – they sound different in different situations. Most can be read two ways, some in three or four. Counting is also a trick because there are different counters for different things. 1,2,3 is one vocabulary, 1 sheet, 2 sheet, 3 sheets is another, and on from there. But, compared to English (and its million variant spellings and meanings), Japanese is a breeze.

  50. Teve says:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    @AOC
    ·
    46m
    Just got back from a few (mostly) unplugged days visiting my abuela in PR, and I see the President is tweeting about me.

    Just another day at the office! 🙂

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    @AOC
    ·
    48m
    I rep one of the strongest concentrations of veterans in NYC. The Bronx VA provides excellent care and community for our vets, who sing its praises.

    The way to improve VA care & reduce wait times (which can be shorter than priv care!) is by fully funding it – not privatizing it.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    @AOC
    ·
    46m
    Like many public systems, GOP want to rip the battery out + say the whole car doesn’t work, so they can sell it for parts.

    Fully funding the VA & hiring to fill the *49k vacancies* is a clear path to improving it – not auctioning off our vet care systems to for-profit companies.

  51. Teve says:

    @Joe:

    Although it has fewer than 2000 characters in regular use-

    I’m out!

  52. Teve says:
  53. MarkedMan says:

    Have to say, I really liked Joe Biden’s announcement video. Relatively short (3:30) laying out a grand vision by focusing on a single specific instance. Really nice. It doesn’t really change my mind about him but it does lend a crucial issue an important voice. It makes me hopeful he will have an overall positive impact on the election whether he wins the nod or not.

    Contrast this with the other old fogey in the race who is using his last shot to marshal vicious whisper campaigns against Democrats and settle scores with those he feels has wronged him in the past.

  54. Kathy says:

    I’m on my third reading of Brave New World. It got me thinking about dystopian literature, and I realized I haven’t read many such novels or watched many such movies.

    Today every other book seems to be a dystopian for the young adult market. I don’t think I’ve read any of those. Here’s what I recall reading:

    1984 (also the only book I value that have never re-read) by George Orwell
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    The City and the Stars. This is a novel by Arthur C. Clarke that doesn’t seem dystopian at all.
    The Time Machine by H.G. Welles
    The World Inside by Robert Silverberg. This is one of the most godawful scenarios I can recall, too. It will put you off sex for weeks.
    A World Out of Time by Larry Niven. Probably the most extreme dystopian, in the sense that the all-powerful, oppressive dictatorship is not the worst part.
    The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth
    Shark Ship by C.M. Kornbluth

    I’ve also been meaning to get my hands on Logan’s Run, ever since I saw the movie in the late 80s. But it doesn’t seem easy to find. The movie’s pretty good.

    What I often find the worst aspect in almost all dystopians, is that human life tends to be stripped off great achievements in art, sport, science, discovery, even in war, and more. So people go on, in some way, but amount to nothing.

  55. Mister Bluster says:

    Reporter question to Biden: “Why are you the best choice for the Democrats.?”
    Biden response: “That’s for the Democrats to decide.”

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: From what I figured out studying Korean grammar, it has markers to show plural, but speakers don’t use them unless plural-ness is not obvious–so almost never. What I could see in my students’ speaking and from my lectures with them, they also just ignore the idea of collective nouns (like “army”) as distinct from any other kind. (But my take on that may be biased.)

  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Amazon claims to have Logan’s Run available in used hardback at ~$18 and it’s available on Kindle for $11.99. More than I am willing to pay, but it is out there.

  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    I am – ahem – the author of the first of the recent wave of YA dystopian series. GONE came out before HUNGER GAMES and MAZE RUNNER and the rest, and when I did it I wasn’t copying, cloning or following the crowd. In fact, was doing panel with Scott Westerfeld and James Dashner at the B&N in NYC when I first heard that I was part of a ‘dystopian wave.’

    But my approach was fundamentally different. I eliminated all adults so that I could look at a society suddenly deprived of all existing forms of authority. A near tabula rasa. The government was not the villain, which I found too facile and cliché as a premise. The absent adults are not the villains. GONE is basically a 3000 page exploration of politics, philosophy, religion, sociology and economics*. That’s what sci fi is supposed to be about, it’s meant (in most cases) to be a tool for stepping back and looking at reality from some distance. And I never wrote it as a tale of plucky teens triumphing over Donald Sutherland while choosing between two equally hot guys.

    I hated being part of a wave. There was no wave when I paddled my surfboard out there. I shouldn’t be irritated by it, but nothing is more important to me than being original. We (Katherine and I) basically invented the realistic YA group-of-teens series with OCEAN CITY. We invented the middle-grade science fiction series that dealt with heavy issues with ANIMORPHS. And I invented the YA action series, GONE, that’s actually about something.

    Sorry for the ego rant. Hollywood is busy cloning my stuff and this week I’m finding it fucking irritating.

    *Yes, economics, which required some Wiki learning for me.

  59. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I know it’s a classic or something, but Brave New World is one of those books that I just find cringeworthy. The characters are all poorly written and just trudging through the plot, and the plot is Tarzan, except with Native Americans rather than apes.

    Also, “orgy porgy” and “sexophones”.

    It might be that I didn’t read it until I was 45. I may have missed the window on it.

    On the plus side, it’s also one of those dystopian books where there is universal health care. I do enjoy finding things in old dystopian futures that turn out to be optimistic. (My favorite example is Max Headroom, where aggressive, independent journalism is apparently a thing that still exists)

  60. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I eliminated all adults so that I could look at a society suddenly deprived of all existing forms of authority.

    So you predicted the Cheeto Administration? 😉

    I honestly had no idea what you wrote. Is there an audiobook version of the first novel? I’m becoming more partial to audiobooks, as it seems to be the only time I have for reading is when I’m doing something else.

  61. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    On the plus side, it’s also one of those dystopian books where there is universal health care.

    Yeah, but the prenatal care is the thing the Republicans warned us about and much much worse. Do you want alcohol in your blood substitute? 🙂

    I first read it in a Spanish translation right before junior high school. I don’t remember much about it, to be honest, or how I regarded the language. The second reading was around the late 90s, I think. I didn’t cringe.

    The classic dystopias, like Brave New World (hence BNW), 1984, or Farenheit 451 (which I missed listing) are not so much about the plot and characters, as about the background society in which they live (or attempt to live). I find it interesting to contrast 1984 and BNW. In one there is brutal repression and fear, in the other brutal suppression and pleasure. Both make human beings irrelevant.

  62. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’ll probably wind up looking for the audiobook, seeing as I’ve some credits accumulating at Audible lately…

  63. Teve says:

    From slashdot:

    Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS? Because It Would Mean Banning Some Republican Politicians Too.

    msmash 2 hours ago 203

    Joseph Cox, and Jason Koebler, reporting for Motherboard: At a Twitter all-hands meeting on March 22, an employee asked a blunt question: Twitter has largely eradicated Islamic State propaganda off its platform. Why can’t it do the same for white supremacist content? An executive responded by explaining that Twitter follows the law, and a technical employee who works on machine learning and artificial intelligence issues went up to the mic to add some context.

    With every sort of content filter, there is a tradeoff, he explained. When a platform aggressively enforces against ISIS content, for instance, it can also flag innocent accounts as well, such as Arabic language broadcasters. Society, in general, accepts the benefit of banning ISIS for inconveniencing some others, he said. In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians. The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.

  64. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    The classic dystopias, like Brave New World (hence BNW), 1984, or Farenheit 451 (which I missed listing) are not so much about the plot and characters, as about the background society in which they live (or attempt to live).

    And where they do this, they aren’t complete novels because of this.

    1984 threads the needle better. I don’t love it, but it tells a story worth telling in that world, with characters that have believable motivations.

    It’s been so long since I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 that I have no memory of it, but Bradbury usually manages to get some character moments in his other works, though. The Martian Chronicles is mostly charming, except for a few misogynistic bits.

    Even Isaac Asimov manages to tell new and interesting stories, even if his characters are uniformly flat and male (I think there are maybe three women in Foundation? And they are so oddly written that we are grateful there aren’t more?)

    Brave New World just annoys me. Between the retelling of Tarzan, and the whole Shakespeare thing, and the ineffectiveness of the dystopia (do they need to make every woman take birth control pills? why not just give the men vasectomies? So much more fool proof), and the weird mosh-mash of socialism and a fondness for Henry Ford… it’s just a mess. Also, sexaphones.

    I did learn new racial slurs reading it though. And my iPad has now learned the word sexaphone, which is clearly never going to become a weird autocorrect problem in the future.

  65. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Twitter could white-list the Republican politicians who sound like white-supremacists. How many can there be?

    Ok, it might be a lot, but way fewer than the number of white supremacists in general. And it would be a clear standard — they don’t accept hate speech, but this clearly identified class of people is above that rule because they are politicians.

    (Might be nice to publish the white list.)

    (Allow people to retweet hate speech by Republican politicians? Nah.)

  66. Michael Reynolds says:
  67. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: see, that was my first thought too, but then I wondered how many elected officials there are in the United States, and there’s way more than you would think.

    https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2015/3/29/1372225/-Just-how-many-elected-officials-are-there-in-the-United-States-The-answer-is-mind-blowing

    over half a million elected officials in the United States, and they’re constantly changing, and many of them have names that overlap with other people. so even if only 5% of Republican elected officials are likely to trade memes of Obama as a witch doctor, or call black people jigaboos, or say that muslims have sub-retarded IQs because of inbreeding, that’s still thousands of people.

  68. Kathy says:
  69. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    (I think there are maybe three women in Foundation? And they are so oddly written that we are grateful there aren’t more?)

    Well, no.

    In the second part of Foundation and Empire, the segment with the Mule, the hero is Bayta Darell. In part two of Second Foundation, the final part for several decades, the hero is Bayta’s granddaughter Arkady. For the 1950s, that’s positively ahead of his time, even if Bayta is about the first woman with a speaking role.

    In the sequels, Foundation’s edge and Foundation and Earth, you have Harla Branno serving as Mayor of Terminus, meaning she rules the galaxy. She’s the antagonist, true, but also the best villain in Asimov’s corpus. There’s also a woman named Bliss who serves as a guardian to the protagonist and his sidekick in the last book. Though whether she’s even an individual is open to debate.

    As to the early dystopians, Bradbury put it best: I’m not trying to predict the future. I’m trying to prevent it. These novels are not meant to entertain. Huxley released a book called Brave New World Revisited, in which he talks about how far the world has moved towards, or away, from his dystopian vision.

    Someone ought to revisit 1984, too. I don’t think Orwell at his most pessimistic would have predicted Doublethink would be de rigueur for a major US political party.

  70. Joe says:

    You know who’s gonna be elected the next president? The candidate who promises to rid the world of spoofed/spam robocalls! That’s who.

    Among the two or three wire lines and 4 or 5 cell phones around me, we can get half a dozen in an afternoon, half of them targeting Chinese nationals (of whom there are exactly none in my office). The same call just keeps progressing through the office to related wireline numbers and entirely unrelated cell phone numbers. Its needs to be stopped.

    [steps down from soap box]

  71. MarkedMan says:

    Idle musing: I wonder how much of the Republican distain for providing a hand up for the poor and the discriminated against comes not from everyday racism or callousness but from embarrassment that they were on the wrong side of history. When people, white and black, were risking their lives marching in Selma, the Republicans had embraced the Southern Strategy. When people were fighting to insure six year olds could start school with food in their bellies, St. Ronnie was kicking off a campaign in Philadelphia, MIssissippi with a wink and a nod to the murderers of civil rights workers.

    Am I wrong? With a little research I think I could find dozens of prominent Democrats, white or black, who risked injury or death in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Can anyone name a single prominent Republican that risked so much as a hangnail in those fights?

  72. Teve says:

    @Joe: you must be on the West coast.

  73. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.

    I’m not seeing the problem.

    “…why not just give the men vasectomies?” When has a male author EVER advocated someone get a vasectomy?

    ETA: @ Marked: I wouldn’t say “wrong.” Maybe too generous of spirit though.

  74. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    As to the early dystopians, Bradbury put it best: I’m not trying to predict the future. I’m trying to prevent it. These novels are not meant to entertain.

    Bradbury does entertain, and his message gets across better for it.

    As far as Brave New World goes… I’m not sure what kind of a warning about the future were supposed to get from Tarzan walking around quoting Shakespeare, and sexually assaulting women (or was he throwing a fit because she had sex with someone else? It’s about the same).

    My memories of Asimov may be mistaken. I remember not being dazzled by the womenfolk, even more so than I was not dazzled by the menfolk. But if you’re writing flat characters who exist just to move the plot along, I guess it’s good to make a few of them women, especially in the time it was written.

    Asimov also managed to entertain, by the way, while playing with big ideas. He just wasn’t great at characters.

  75. Gustopher says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker: that’s why it’s a dystopia!

  76. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Make them apply to be white-listed.

  77. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    On second thought, perhaps Huxley intended some parts of BNW to be cringe-worthy. And I just read this part today. Bernard Marx complains they are adults at work, and infants at other times. Specifically he mentions to Lenina Crowne he didn’t want to sleep with her on their first date, but wound up going to bed “like infants.” I can see that part making people cringe, and perhaps other parts, like the orgy-porgy thing, too.

    The Ford thing is simply that Henry Ford is taken as a substitute God, complete with gigantic letter Ts all over (after the Ford Model T), the sign of the T, the Big Henry clock. But the simile is not exact, as high officials as addressed as “Your Fordship,” and it’s also a swear word.

  78. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy:

    Someone ought to revisit 1984, too.

    Happened to see an item this morning that said 1984 had made it back to the bestseller list.

  79. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m not sure what kind of a warning about the future were supposed to get from Tarzan walking around quoting Shakespeare, and sexually assaulting women (or was he throwing a fit because she had sex with someone else? It’s about the same).

    Throwing a fit.

    The warning is about life becoming vapid, shallow, and irrelevant.

    Asimov’s strength was to weave plots, especially when there are mysteries involved. The characters were, mostly, plot devices. Though his characterization does improve in some of his latter novels, like Nemesis.

  80. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Happened to see an item this morning that said 1984 had made it back to the bestseller list.

    “Doubleplusgood!” she said with no small irony.

  81. Teve says:

    a friend of mine just went back to a retail job here in North Florida and he had an interesting customer interaction he posted about on Facebook the other day:

    the guy said, verbatim, “if Trump doesn’t win the next election we’re all fucked. Muslim women have got control of Congress now and if Trump loses office then we’re all going to go back to slavery days like when the N[redacted] were slaves. They’re going to take 70% of our paychecks and only give us the 30% that’s left over”

  82. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: at the same time Huxley is throwing in lots of Ford worship, he is mixing it with namechecking Marx, and showing a centralized planned economy beyond anything the Soviet Union was able to implement.

    I just have no idea where he was going with that, unless his thesis is just dramatic both-sides-ism.

    I’m clearly some sort of crank. This book is nearly universally loved. I’ll stop trying to convince you it’s a terrible book. Enjoy it… I mean, someone has to.

    I just read Trout Fishing In America, and loved it. How did I never know to read that book?

  83. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: Brautigan was my go-to poet in college. I’ll have to pull out my paperbacks and revisit them. He actually wrote a poem that would make a great screenplay. It describes a library of unpublishable books.

    The purpose of the library, he wrote, was “to gather pleasantly together “the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing” (96). There were no rules about subjects, or quality of writing. Authors were free to place their manuscripts wherever they liked on the library’s shelves. “It doesn’t make any difference where a book is placed because nobody ever checks them out and nobody ever comes here to read them. This is not that kind of library. This is another kind of library”

    The quote is from the about page of the actual library someone created because they liked the idea. I always thought a screenplay focused on the librarians, the authors and the mysterious founder has potential.

  84. Teve says:

    @Gustopher:

    I just read Trout Fishing In America, and loved it. How did I never know to read that book?

    purely by accident in high school I came across The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and it warped my fragile little mind.

  85. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Huxley failed in laying out what the economics of the future were like. They do matter to the story, but it’s all implicit. Three’s much talk of consumption and production, but little about money or ownership.

    I wouldn’t say I love any dystopian book. I would say they have some insights unique in the genre, about politics, economics, sociology, psychology, etc.

  86. Teve says:

    There’s something of a backlash against dystopianism in SF now, because it’s been done to death. I heard Neal Stephenson saying something to that effect recently.

  87. Teve says:

    Stu Cameron
    @stucam7771
    ·
    Apr 25
    Reagan was mentally failing – but he wasn’t a traitor.

    Clinton wasn’t faithful – but he wasn’t a traitor.

    W Bush made a lot of terrible decisions – but he wasn’t a traitor.

    Trump is mentally failing, has never been faithful, and makes terrible decisions.

    And IS a traitor…

  88. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    There’s something of a backlash against dystopianism in SF now, because it’s been done to death.

    Just about everything’s been done to death 🙂

    I wonder, then, whether there’d be a market for utopian novels. I don’t mean dystopian novels set in utopian-like settings where you lift the curtain a little and find out how rotten it all is. Rather real utopias where everything is great and wonderful. You know, no disease, no crime, everyone lives 250+ years in the prime of youth, no war, no poverty, no Donald Trump, no discrimination, no cruelty, no massive inequality, etc.

    Larry Niven’s “Known Space” stories and novels come close to such a setting, but they all invariably leave the setting behind and go elsewhere to find a plot. they go to survey neutron stars up close, or anti-matter planets, or to the Ringworld, etc.

  89. Tevr says:

    I really don’t follow science fiction or any fiction enough to know what form if any the backlash is taking, I don’t even know if it really exists, it just seems like I heard a few authors talking about it over the last few years. I just got The Rise and Fall of DODO and keep meaning to get into it but I have a hard time getting into fiction.

  90. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I’m tired of the over the top “Everything Is Awful” dystopias, where everyone lives in fear and without hope until a plucky young hero comes by. Who needs that when you can just read the newspaper and follow the rise of Pete Buttigieg, and his dashing husband?

    The fake utopias, where everything is great until you look behind the curtain are also tiresome.

    One of Milan Kundera’s novels — possibly The Book of Laughter and Forgetting — explained communism in Czechoslovakia as being the failed utopian dream welcomed and encouraged by the best and brightest in society after WWII with the best of intentions, and the Prague Spring as those very same best and brightest trying to bottle up the dream of their youth.

    I think that might be a fresher way to approach a dystopia — a Frankenstein’s monster approach, where the monster is their own failed better world.

    I’m disappointed that Kundera’s novels aren’t available on the Kindle, as it’s been so long since I’ve read them. I’ve grown old, and I need a larger font size sometimes, so it’s just an accessibility issue. There are audiobooks, but they aren’t the same.

    I’ve always been a reader who leaves notes in the margins of my books — it gives me a chance to stop and think while I’m reading it the first time, and it’s always an odd treat to rediscover my twenty year old self if I reread it (sometimes in the cringing “wow, I’ve really grown as a person” way) — and one of the things I’ve missed when switching to digital is coming across those marginalia. With audio, you can’t even leave the marginalia.

  91. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    In both Brave New World and 1984, there is no hero who saves the world. The world continues dystopic indefinitely past the end of each novel.

    I’ve always been a reader who leaves notes in the margins of my books

    I’ve never written anything on a book. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to do so. But in Kindle you can scribble notes in your books and look them up later.

    I’ve never done that, either.

  92. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy: @Gustopher: @Teve:

    The reason it’s hard to do character in SF or fantasy comes down to space: if you have to use a lot of words to describe unfamiliar settings, circumstances, etc., that’s space you can’t use defining character. Try to do both and you get bloat and slow the narrative. (Also a lot of SFF writers are only good at the imagination part and suck at everything else.) Ideally you reveal character through action and dialog, but modern readers are impatient and need things handed to them on the first page. So you get lazy writers pulling some bullshit like a mirror scene: As she stood before the mirror she noticed her red hair which perfectly complemented her fiery personality.

    Even good SFF writers have trouble with character. I worship at the feet of China Miéville’s imagination, but I can’t recall any of his characters as characters.

    I’ve been sick of dystopia for a long while now, and I’ve toyed from time to time with a more Star Trek optimistic utopian thing but a) where does the story come from? And b) I’m much better at awful than I am at nice.

  93. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I had picked up a copy of Musil’s The Man Without Qualities at some point, and it was in my book case for at least two decades before I finally got around to reading it, and it survived several moves. Many moves actually.

    Three quarters of the way though volume one, I found a note scribbled in the margin that read “why am I reading this?” It was clearly my handwriting, and I had no memory of anything in the book from the first reading.

    I put the book back in the bookshelf, and never opened it again. I have once again forgotten everything about it.

  94. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You’re right about space issues. N. K. Jemisin does good characters, but yes her novels are way too long, and divided into three chunks that she claims are novels. At least, if Broken Earth is representative of her work. She has a book of short stories, and most of them have a nice character moment or two, so I think she could do a better job with her trilogies to make the parts work as individual books.

    I’ve been sick of dystopia for a long while now, and I’ve toyed from time to time with a more Star Trek optimistic utopian thing but a) where does the story come from? And b) I’m much better at awful than I am at nice.

    The conflict comes from spatial anomalies. But I suspect you would suck at spacial anomalies.

    Also, people failing to live up to their lofty optimistic ideals. Usually because of a spacial anomaly.

  95. Teve says:

    As she stood before the mirror she noticed her red hair which perfectly complemented her fiery personality.

    Goddamn I barely even read fiction and I can see how hackneyed that is. It almost makes me want to become a writer.

    Rick got home early and put a Stouffer’s pot pie in the microwave. It gave off steam, much like his wife would be doing in 15 minutes when she got home and he had to tell her he was just laid off from work, which, by the way, is why he was home so early.

    too bad there’s like a writer’s strike or something, I could be up for the Booker Prize.

  96. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Hmm. I must be doing something wrong, then. In a parallel universe story I’m working on, I give only a short description of the characters, and then tried to let their personalities, along with their professions and back stories, show through the dialogue and actions.

    For example, I don’t mention Marina’s husband died 6 months ago until about three pages in. I don’t even mention Green is a squid-like alien until the second page, when he shakes a tentacle to denote a smile. Meantime I figured it’d be best to let the reader wonder what I mean when I say Green rolled stately into Marina’s quarters, accompanied by a quiet metallic cacophony almost like bass bells.

  97. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: A significant number of books from that general time seem to me to have been written for the purpose of allowing the author to blather on about his or her philosophical outlook or world view for 60 or 70 pages. In Brave, it’s Mustapha Monde. O’Brien in 1984. Others in the genre include The Old Man and the Sea, What Makes Sammy Run, and anything by Ayn Rand. I’ve probably forgotten some; I don’t read much ‘literature,’ preferring to ‘poison my mind’ reading trash.

  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Are those 2 quotes from something? I ask because I googled the first and got no responses. (Not even your post here.)

  99. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A significant number of books from that general time seem to me to have been written for the purpose of allowing the author to blather on about his or her philosophical outlook or world view for 60 or 70 pages.

    In 1984 there’s also the snippet form Goldstein’s forbidden book.

    But you know, those are the parts I often found most interesting.

  100. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    I’m running a level one diagnostic.

  101. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I’ll do the next bit for you.

    As the pot pie rotated slowly in the microwave, he began to empty the grocery bag into the freezer, stacking Stouffer’s pot pies, Hungry Man turkey dinners, and store brand Salisbury steaks. A week’s worth of food.

    He knew that his wife was only sticking around for the money (not that there was ever that much money), and he regretted never learning to cook.

  102. Kit says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m tired of the over the top “Everything Is Awful” dystopias, where everyone lives in fear and without hope until a plucky young hero comes by.

    I wish books and films could come with warnings about plus that will require the old to be secretly turned into food at their pre-programmed demise. That never fails to put me in mind of the great line from Babe: Pig in the City:

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and there’s not enough dog to go around.

    Moving right along…

    I’ve always been a reader who leaves notes in the margins of my books — it gives me a chance to stop and think while I’m reading it the first time, and it’s always an odd treat to rediscover my twenty year old self if I reread it (sometimes in the cringing “wow, I’ve really grown as a person” way)

    Even worse than cringing is when I read an old insight that strikes me as both brilliant and far beyond what I could manage today. What I’ve gain in maturity, I’ve lost in sheer intellectual horsepower.