Steven L. Taylor
Saturday, June 19, 2021
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).
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Ukraine’s inseparable couple ditch handcuffs and go separate ways
One question: However did they change their clothes?
Rooting for injuries: Conservative Christians jeer ‘traitor’ Pence for refusing to overturn election
As one who has visited a few Awful Waffles over the years, I can’t imagine inflicting such an incarceration on myself.
Apparently they decoupled, just the way they did to shower and use the toilet.
I enjoyed the part about how she complained that her boyfriend didn’t tell her he missed her enough. There’s just no pleasing some people.
O’Fallon, Mo., police chief resigns, cites Gov. Parson’s attempt to invalidate federal gun laws
The stupid, it hurts.
I hope he got up off his ass occasionally to bus a table. And 24 hours? That should be at least a $100 tip.
@CSK: Yes, that was my point. So why the bolt cutters at the end? Why the whole charade? Yeah, just another grift.
@Michael Reynolds: He did close with, “The sun is rising, it’s a new day and I’m never eating waffles again. That’s nine waffles and 15 hours in this restaurant. Shoutout to the staff for letting me hang out on a slow night (I tipped them well, don’t worry). This was horrible and I recommend no one ever do this,” he said.
Ex-St. Louis Cop Guilty in Beating of Black Undercover Officer
Only the finest.
They did say they plan to auction off the handcuffs (now rendered useless by the bolt cutter) at auction and donate the money to charity. Good luck with that.
Could be a nickel, could be a dime, we’ll never know.
Clearly I am not a lawyer, but wouldn’t invalidating federal gun laws invalidate your 2nd amendment, given that the 2nd amendment is federal? If so, then governors being able to invalidate federal gun laws might turn out to be a good thing in states that want to introduce gun control.
I stand corrected. I wonder how they plan to split the non-donated proceeds?
From yesterday’s forum:
Human’s live considerably longer than chimps, bonobos etc., it looks to me like lifespan and menopause are both evolved traits.
My guess is they pay off in group (thus genes) survival, not just grandkids.
@CSK: 50/50 I would guess.
Mike Pence’s speech at Christian conference drowned out with chants of “Traitor!”
Which also suggests that pre-civilization early hunter gatherers were not as plagued by early death from disease and warfare as ancient civilizations.
@charon: Some things did take a downward trajectory when we went from hunting & gathering to agriculture, at least in some respects. On the flip side, we didn’t have to leave Paw Paw propped up against a tree when the caribou moved on. 😛
Another demonstration of how delusional the alternate reality Conservative propaganda creates is.
There is no indication ancient humans practiced behaviors modern Inuit or ancient Mediterranean cultures are famous for, the reverse actually = caring for cripples for example.
All those years Pence spent assiduously toadying Trump were for nothing. MAGAworld hates his guts.
@charon: were ancient Mediterraneans not ancient humans? 😛
@CSK: Everybody who supports Trump winds up humiliated in the end.
Except Trump lives entirely in the moment, whether he likes you or hates you can vary, pretty as hoc, whatever is momentarily convenient.
Not in my context, I was referring to hominid fossil indications, pre-civilization, not Roman or Greek or Canaanite or North African cultures.
And unemployed. His former lawyers can’t get jobs.
@charon: Actually, that certainly seems to be true. Average/mean size of persons living the earliest agricultural and ‘civilized’ (in the sense of being in a ‘city’) was significantly smaller than those who were adults during the late stone age. (At least among those who were thoughtful enough to leave evidence.)
Someone (CSK?) asked yesterday why all the zombie apocalypse movies? Why not vampire apocalypse movies? FWIW, here’s my theory.
The various monster tropes serve very different purposes and to some extent their waxing and waning popularity reflect the fears prevalent in society at the time. The most obvious example of this was the radiation monster movies post world war two.
The vampire monster and the zombie monster serve two very different purposes. The vampire is a very personal and intimate monster and so stories about them have to do with the highly specific circumstances of their victims lives., and therefore a vampire apocalypse doesn’t really make sense. Apocalypse movies are about everyone on earth and hordes of indifferent, uncaring monsters. Put another way, a Vampire Apocalypse would just be a Zombie Apocalypse where the zombies killed you by draining your blood.
@charon: “Which also suggests that pre-civilization early hunter gatherers were not as plagued by early death from disease and warfare as ancient civilizations.”
From what I’ve gathered, they had quite a lot of violence. Less disease due to dispersal and movement.
I take full responsibility for initiating that whole brouhaha. I’m reluctant to raise the issue again, but…don’t alien invasion movies depict the exact same threat-to-all-humanity that Zombie Apocalypses do? Weren’t the invaders in Independence Day “hordes of indifferent, uncaring monsters”? Yet we don’t have Alien Invader Apocalypses, and the CDC doesn’t use alien invasions to promote preparedness as it does the ZA.
Early hominids did a lot of cannibalism, but early civilizations were big on human sacrifice.
Not enough info to do a good quantitative comparison.
I realized something that blew my mind.
A lot of people have written in the past on how the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit is really about Jim Crow era Hollywood and the toons are really a metaphor for black people during segregation.
It occurred to me that under that framing, the villain, Judge Doom, is actually a stand in for Robert Moses and his disciples, using a freeway project as an excuse for destroying a prosperous black neighborhood.
And indeed, a short bit of wikipedia-ing reveals that the specific freeway mentioned in the movie is likely the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10), the construction of which resulted in the destruction of the Sugar Hill section of LA (aka “Black West Hollywood”).
Dr. T, I enjoyed the tab clearing friday feature. Hope it’s a recurring theme.
Cracker and I play by email when the stupid overwhelms…
Here’s an interesting article in Philosophy Now on the persistence of zombies in our culture. Carl Jung makes an appearance, natch.
I think it’s much more simple: zombies create a class of humans that the protagonists can unleash any sort of violence on without creating any sort of moral ambiguity, providing the audience vicarious catharsis for the bloodlust untainted by shame or guilt.
That’s a very good explanation, but it doesn’t fully account for the weird obsession that’s developed over the past 15 years.
That may have been a thread, but the movie is basically about GM’s decades long campaign to destroy public transportation systems in the US. Prior to the “freewayization” of the greater Los Angeles area, LA had the finest public transportation system in the world, the Pacific Electric Railway. It was still in operation in the early 60s (I rode on it, the Red Car and electric trolley part). Pull up a map of the freeway system in LA county, and you’ll see how closely some of the freeways track the rail lines. (On the wiki page I cited, there’s a comprehensive map of the system.) It wasn’t just the Red Car rail lines, it was also a comprehensive system of buses and electric trolley cars (as I mentioned) that was done away with. For me the great irony is that now LA’s trying to get back what it originally had — and destroyed.
Yes, I think that makes sense. A kissing cousin to ritualized aggression.
I also think the malleability factor also is relevant and may help explain why zombies have “changed” over time.
As for CSK’s question about the recent cultural emphasis, beats me…..I’ve long ago abandoned any attempt to explain such things. Better for me to sit and marvel at, ignore, or consume, but definitely not intellectualize.
Champ Biden, the 13-year-old First German Shepherd, has died. RIP.
It wasn’t just GM though. Destruction of public transit was a big Robert Moses thing too, because minorities used public transit more and thus eliminating it helped enforce segregation. One big example in New York is that a lot of freeway passes near the shore were deliberately made too low for buses to pass under to keep black people from being able to take public transit to the beaches.
It seemed to me there was also an increase in movies in which hordes of robots got shot to pieces. I wondered if it reflected some quirk in the ratings codes that didn’t fully count violence against non-humans as Violence, along with general criticism of violence in movies.
Prior to 15 years ago the role of zombies was usually filled be “evil minority” characters (e.g. the “Arab terrorist” stereotype). As audiences started becoming more negative toward movies where the heroes murder large numbers of minorities, zombies became a replacement “guilt-free” object of aggression.
IIRC, one thing that effects how violence impacts ratings is how “replicable” the violence is. Since zombies and robots aren’t a thing, there’s less concern someone will be inspired to go on a rampage in the local city’s Robot Town. This may also play into why superhero movies are so popular. Kids aren’t going to come out of Superman and start shooting their little brother with their eye beams.
I see your point, but space aliens would fill that need nicely, wouldn’t they? Unlike zombies, they weren’t even human to begin with.
I rolled my eyes a lot last year when I kept hearing about BLM trying to destroy the “traditional” nuclear family. That criticism shows a marked ignorance of both evolution and history.
Was this the beginning of the kerfuffle over critical race theory?
A New Yorker columnist suggests it may have been. Searching my memory, it seems to me that the first heard of it it was a story of the outrage against it, but I’m not sure. Difficult to know. Does anyone remember hearing about someone advocating CRT before the author’s time line?
I recall that there was an uproar about Critical Legal Theory at Harvard Law School in the late 1980s-early 1990s, but it didn’t percolate down to the general public.
@CSK: Hmm. To me, the Alien invader is a different type of monster than the Zombie. Aliens are intelligent and that makes for a very different adversary than a zombie. And aliens are “other”, whereas a very important part of the Zombie dynamic is that they are your neighbors and family but with their consciousness removed. Both of those things cause the motivations and reactions in their respective stories play out in different ways.
So “Independence Day”, “Attack the Block” and “War of the the Worlds” are Alien Invasion movies, as opposed to Alien Apocalypse. Invasion is something deliberately done to us, whereas Apocalypse implies lack of control, force-of-nature type of thing.
Of course, any individual story can play around with these tropes. The TV show, “Braindead”, is often put into the Zombie category, but it probably fits better in the Alien Invasion category. People become hosts as opposed to Zombies, ala “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, but their memories and certain aspects of their personality remain.
I wouldn’t say the professor was advocating it, but I took a gen-ed course called “Introduction to the Philosophy of Law” all the way back in 1996 that spent a week covering the various flavors of critical legal studies, as it did numerous other schools of thought about the law from natural law theory to legal realism.
I’m surprised by that perspective. I actually think of Zombies as the least malleable monster. The classic movie Zombie introduced in “Night of the Living Dead” is horrifying because they have the bodies of specific individuals but have no personalities, virtually no intelligence and only the basest of motivations. Even the fast Zombies introduced in “I Am Legend” (and, confusingly, identified as Vampires in the book) and that made “28 Days Later” such a hit have only one emotion: rage. Although, in fairness, in both the book “I Am Legend” and in the alternate ending to the Will Smith movie version, the Zombies evolve. In fact, the title comes from the main characters eventual realization that the Zombies are evolving a culture and a community, and that they view him as a horrifying monster. Like the legend of Grendel, whenever he crosses their paths he brings death and destruction. He is a monster to them, they are monsters to him and there is no way to come to a truce. They will eventually kill him, as Beowulf killed Grendel, and he will pass into legend.
Vampires, on the other hand, can be tragic, they can be cruel, they can be cool, and they horrify as much by the intimacy of their interactions.
Oh, they are different, no doubt about that. But that still doesn’t explain the bizarre fixation on zombies to the point that newspapers would write articles on the best places to survive a ZA, as if such a thing might happen. I realize they’re at least semi-joking, but again, why zombies?
@CSK: I don’t think the fad has anything special to do with Zombies. It’s the way movies work. For decades we had Westerns, then police movies, then disaster movies. Vampire movies had a run at least as long as the current run of Zombie movies. Werewolf movies lasted a shorter time, but it was a definite thing. Movies have fashions. Zombies are the bell bottom jeans of our time.
That’s my memory, it lived in some Ivy halls but nobody I can recall was actively pushing it as curriculum for general education.
@CSK: The first backlash that I recall involved Cornell West and an assertion that blacks were incapable of racism because the lack the institutional power to exert negative control, but I don’t have a time line anymore. It’s just one of many
hare-brainedquestionable assertions I’ve heard over the years. The first consciousness-raising workshop about racism that I ever attended was in about 1990, and I’d come as a guest, not a mandated participant. (I hadn’t been awarded an instructorship as a grad student, so I didn’t have any consciousness that needed raising.)
Underrated zombie movie: Warm Bodies
It’s Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo is a zombie and Juliet is not, and most of the movie is Romeo’s stream of conscious existential crisis about being a zombie.
of course his bio mentions he’s a christian.
Certainly, but again, we didn’t treat any of those things with the apparent seriousness we take the ZA. And zombie movies have been around for almost 90 years. But suddenly we’re obsessed with them, or at least in the last decade? And obsessed in a way we haven’t been about others things?
@MarkedMan: I would make the distinction more along the lines of apocalyptic as relating to the end of the world/destruction of society and everything connected with it, whereas invasions are more about controlling the territory and the people remaining within it. In War of the Worlds for example, the aliens, having secured the territory in question, do not kill all of the people and destroy everything. As a result, when the aliens get sick and die en mass, the humans are able to pick up where the left off–more or less. For Independence Day, the goal of the aliens doesn’t seem clear, but the fact that they didn’t simply open up with all guns blazing*, if you will, hints that destruction was not primary. I started watching Attack the Block but didn’t get to the end and don’t remember it.
*Having the aliens not go full postal on the planet certainly made for a more satisfying (and longer) movie. Same with Air Force One–had I been the bad guy the first move would have been shoot Harrison Ford. But I use a different moral calculus than others, too. I take my cues more from Fiona on Burn Notice–most problems CAN be solved simply by killing some particular person/group of people. (And the movie would have been shorter and much less popular.)
Perhaps it’s better to say that zombies allow for an array of social contexts. Whereas vampires, as you note, can take on an array of individual types. Socially vs. individually malleable?
But I am way way way out of my depths here, so I defer to others on all things zombie, vampire, etc.
@Teve: The real pee tape is Champ pissing on a mattress where Donald Trump once slept.
Watch Fox during the Hannity and Tucker Many Hours of Hate. Or NewsMax. Or OANN. Or CPAC.
The only feeling is rage. And the only elements of joy are at the expense of the hated others.
Talk to the angry Trumper at your local bar. Or in your family. They look like people, but “have no personalities, virtually no intelligence and only the basest of motivations.”
Are the slow zombies or fast zombies? Ditto heads or QAnon freaks? Jacobins? Nazis? Khmer Rouge?
The general concept of zombies is incredibly malleable because it can be a metaphor for any unthinking mob mentality.
This is why I love America.
I have never heard of either krumping or whacking*
I spent the better part of 2 decades working for (and, thereby, watching and enjoying) some of the top dance companies in the US. Florida Ballet, David Parsons, Mummenschanz, Momix, Hubbard Street…
American culture is not thousands of years old. It’s growing, evolving, becoming right here and now.
Martha Graham and Paul Taylor are far more my style, but… damn! These kids know how to dance! And that dance could only have evolved here.
I’m a grumpy old man and I have no clue about the kids these days… but I know art when I see it. And that’s some damn fine dance.
God Bless America. 🙂
* Except in the British way–which has nothing to do with dancing
So that’s where we going wrong in the dancehall.
Brief news from Britain:
Conservatives lose the Chesham and Amersham by election.
A seat that has been Tory since Methuselah was a toddler.
As Roland Smith said: “Olympus has Fallen”
“Screw you, Vote Leave. Screw your non-stop clown show.
And you can shove your Red Wall where the sun don’t shine”
As I said in the aftermath of the general election: people are lauding Johnson as a political genius, the Conservative hero conquering the working class north!
Only thing is, it’s bollocks.
If you look at the voting, the Con. victory was driven by middle-class (in UK not US terms) retired homeowners who were “inherited” Labour voters: family/local tradition.
Brexuit/UKIP was the “transition mode” for them.
But Libs gain in “Remainy” southern seats: 10% swing wins them some 25 seats.
Johnsons majority maybe less solid than all the Con. pundits proclaimed?
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
As we’ve both noted, this is why neither of us will ever be hired as a showrunner. Or invited to play with the nice kids in their Buster Browns on the monkey bars.
OTOH, this attitude is part of the reason I was voted an honorary member of the lifer’s club.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
IIRVC the Independence Day alien motivations and tactics made no sense whatsoever.
They are supposed to want to destroy Earth for its resources.
Which is daft; as a starfaring species the asteroids etc have everything they want, more conveniently arranged, with no risk of a punch-up with the monkey boys.
But, assuming they want/need to conquer Earth, they rock up up close and personal and engage in one-on-one combat?
Nope, you hit it without warning with a hypervelocity kinetic killer.
Job done, no mess, no fuss.
Alien invasion is a very difficult plot line to have make sense.
Only a few made it vaguely work rationally, as opposed to “as story” IMO: based on said aliens being rather thick and inheritors of a barely understood technology; or so alien in motivation it didn’t need to make sense; or constrained by a wider “galactic society”.
But us Earthlings vs a millennia old interstellar-capable civilisation?
Game over before it begins.
@JohnSF: Special Relativity puts severe constraints on our ability to motor around the galaxy. It’s hard to conceive of even an outlandish scenario which would allow us to make it 70,000 years to the nearest star. In my formerly professional opinion the best answer to the Fermi paradox is that shit is just too far away. I’m pessimistic about space travel for the same reason I’m pessimistic about bases on Mars. Going to Antarctica is approximately 1 million times easier, and we almost never fucking do it because it’s too hard and pointless.
My understanding is that zombies have low hit points but also give little experience points, so are common in the first levels of many computer games. Given how popular such games are now (as opposed to when dungeons and dragons first came out decades ago), I suspect that alone could explain why zombies have gained in popularity — anyone who plays computer games has seen and killed thousands of them in some game or another.
That’s certainly the reaction I’ve heard from friends and acquaintances — zombies aren’t scary, but they’re definitely a chore you have to get through to get on to higher levels and more interesting encounters. Like many starting jobs, especially for most recent high school grads.
From one who watches far too many films, and that includes more Zombie / post apocalyptic tropes than you can shake a femur at.
Zombie movies are popular because the never-stopping antagonist is…. you.
Like they say: Hell is other people.
When I worked at Cisco, Chambers said: If I increase your quota by 10 or 20%, you will find a way to do it. But if I double or triple it, you will have to find a new way to do business to meet that goal.
One Zombie: your significant other, you may or will kill. Your neighbor likely easier than your spouse. But then what do you do if it’s everyone from the block? The town?
The gun is immediately useless, and you will tire from swinging the bat soon enough.
Now here we are… confronted by the swarm of undead.
On the planet, when I was young, there were 6 billion… now 7 billion… and I will never meet these people. They just keep coming.
A nameless faceless hoard of humanity that is out of control with no thought or reason.
Countries overwhelmed, borders overwhelmed, resources fought over, guns, bombs, cluster bombs, carpet bombing… and they still keep coming. wars end and the pause is only long enough to buy more weapons, rearm and plan overwhelming revenge.
The fact that the zombies are dead allow us regular humans to be enthralled by the intelligence of a few against the many in the most brutal and insensitive way without an hint of regret. Devastation and murder without guilt.
So basically what a new conservative feels, nay DREAMS of every day, and the Trumpers are preparing for this type of humanity slaughter with guncases galore… The dreams of humans pouring over a border where they can have open season and shoot indiscriminately without regret… The overthrow of all the laws so that they can impose their own rule, defeating any horde or strongman that takes them on.
They would rather shoot you than be vaccinated or wear a mask. Putin polls higher than Biden. Cruse ships must carry unvaccinated, Polls show that they believe that the country is beyond repair and revolution is necessary.
Yes. people. zombies. same-same.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Sure, There is absolutely no indication that matter (or coherent information) can go FTL.
But so what?
Get anything that can get reasonable percentages of C, plus either suspension or ultra-extension of life, or multi-generation habitats, OR crack AI and you’re back to the Fermi Question.
My answer, FWIWWINVM, look at how minuscule the time-span of technical culture is on Earth relative to the planetary duration. And even sapiens could easily have dead-ended at paleolithic or neolithic or “iron age” levels.
We all too easily assume some sort of imperative to industrial/scientific level.
I see no reason to make such assumptions.
Plus for most of Earth history, life was happily unicellular.
Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
Unless it’s the paranoid fever dreams of liberals over the raving hordes of zombie Trumpkins?
By contrast, BritKippers are no problem: just douse them with Evian water. 🙂
@Gustopher: I wouldn’t think they’d be Jacobins considering that the Jacobin website, from what I recall, leans progressive liberal to Social Democrat. I remember having a conversation with a Euigook friend still living in Korea who was disappointed that the party sold out by nominating Biden instead of Sanders. It took a little mulling over, but he finally acknowledged I had a point when I’d suggested that most mainstream Democrats in the US are probably nowhere near as liberal as he is.
Exactly my point! (But it does make a reeeeeaally short movie with no opportunity for a sequel. 🙁 )
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Maybe the modern Jacobins are “progressive liberal”.
But the old school guys were progressive liberal with extra mass-murder sauce!
Why did the Soviet schemes to populate arctic Siberia never get very far? ‘Cause short of penal servitude, most folks say “sod this for a game of soldiers” and bugger off back to Mother Russia.
Likewise why damn few people live in cities in the Australian Red Centre, or the Empty Quarter of Arabia, or the Tenere, or Novaya Zemlya etc etc etc.
And any of those are a picnic compared to Mars.
IMHO for the next millennium or so, any off-Earth habitation is likely to be closer to a oil rig or Amundsen-Scott Station, than anything even like Prudhoe Bay or Svalbard.
Which is odd when you consider that many zombie films deal with moral ambiguity having to do with the breakdown of society in a post-apocalyptic world. They often focus more on how the human survivors behave toward one another than on the zombies themselves.
But they’re not here. And that comports with ‘shit’s just too far apart’.