Re: Editing

1

My uncle led off the Christmas Eve dinner by saying "did you hear the police killed a guy near Ferguson who was pointing a gun at them and people still rioted?" Luckily, his son said "Dad, I think you should shut up" and the conversation went elsewhere.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:14 PM
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On the other hand, my girlfriend's reaction to hearing the news of the latest shooting was "oh, the police finally learned they need to plant a gun on the body!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:15 PM
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I've only raged once so far. When a generally politically simpatico sibling opined that there were "lingering questions" about Hillary Clinton ... with regard to ... wait for it ... Vince Foster's suicide!

Of course she was an NY Times reader at the time, so woefully misinformed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:51 PM
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Jesus Fucking Christ. Can the cleaning fire come soon enough?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 10:00 PM
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Yay!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 11:17 PM
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The station had the protest leader on and apologized to her although she pointed out that she's gotten death threats etc from the usual right wing monkey horde. And of course this is now part of the general knowledge now, just like Foster.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-25-14 8:49 AM
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Foster wasn't a murderer. She never tried to kill Reagan and it isn't her fault she was so hot as a teenager that people would do anything to get her attention.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-25-14 4:32 PM
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We had a moment similar to that in 1 yesterday. Someone in the front started in with "if you pull a gun on a copy, you are going to get shot." There was at least on "these blacks"thrown out in the mix. I told my guy in the kitchen that I was going to go sit down for a bit. "Oh sure, you should go ahead and socialize for a bit of you want." 《Side eye.》"Socialize? Oh hell no. I'm going to go sit over in the other room and be antisocial." (It took about 3 minutes before all the non-old people came and joined me.)


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:18 AM
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Good lord. I can't type on a phone.


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:19 AM
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My inlaws are intensely uninterested in politics, so mostly they never air their kneejerk conservatism. But there was one moment when my sister-in-law said something about how pot legalization in Colorado has generally made the smelliness, homelessness, and grossness of downtown Denver much worse.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:30 AM
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Because crusties.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:40 AM
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I'm mad at pot because I'm watching Uncle Grandpa.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:45 AM
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Mostly everyone knows not to bring up political shit when I'm around. It helps that I've made it known that I prefer not to get into it about politics myself and just enjoy spending time with family. So it's been pretty much live and let live and just enjoy the food and my nephews and stuff But my youngest brother who was formerly closest to me politically has gotten increasingly conservative of late(racist, really) and went off a spectacularly ignorant anti-de Blasio pro-police rant that almost set everything off.



Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:55 AM
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I've been fortunate in that the conservative members of my family have never really been of the surly Fox News watching variety, so holidays have generally not been ruined by politics.

It's funny how totalizing the world view is for so many of these folks. It makes them not just disagreeable but boring. After stewing in that culture for a while they seem to lose their ability to talk about anything else except how pissed they are at the liberals/blacks/feminists/Obama & etc.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:12 AM
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My parents' 90-something-year-old neighbors were over for dinner a couple of days ago and somehow a discussion of a recent basketball game provided the opening for one of them to observe "those colored boys really like to fight." What the actual fuck? I think my parents have always operated under the belief that being over 80 years old makes it okay for people to come out with that sort of thing occasionally. Presumably by the time they're 80 they'll see at least one flaw in that logic.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:20 AM
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Without clicking through, I'll assume that 5 indicates that the cleaning fire has begun. So maybe I won't bother revising this drawing set?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:21 AM
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15 Probably thinking of that Cassius Clay.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:25 AM
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I had a bit of a WTF-has-happened-to-my-parents moment this morning, when my mom, overhearing a conversation with the boy, said, "Michelle Obama?!? We don't talk about her in this house. She's an embarrassment." Fortunately, it turned out that while on some level she'd heard "Obama" such that she managed to repeat it, she'd been thinking we were talking about Michele Bachmann.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:53 AM
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I'm drinking Miller Lite right now. For sound medical-social reasons, I can't bring my own beer and if I start on whiskey before 5, I'm the one with the problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 12:15 PM
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It makes me think of Bob Eucker, which makes me think of Euchre. But nobody here plays cards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 12:44 PM
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I think my parents have always operated under the belief that being over 80 years old makes it okay for people to come out with that sort of thing occasionally.

My parents trained me to believe that as well. What's the flaw in the logic? You're not going to change their minds, you're just going to confuse and upset them. It is important to speak to younger people in the crowd (later, privately) to explain that we're putting up with this because these grandparently people come from a different era. Or so I was taught.

So I'm missing what the flaw in the argument is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 12:53 PM
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I got a "well I didn't own any slaves" from my aunt, the most empathetic member of that generation of my family. Very disappointing.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 12:58 PM
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The Whiteness Project has been doing some work -- or at least some thing -- around this, as they say. Mostly it seems to me that white people are incredibly ignorant; although it's difficult to say whether the white people interviewed in/by the project thus far are truly representative.

I have really mixed feelings about that project.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 1:18 PM
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21: What I was getting at with "presumably by the time they're 80 they'll see at least one flaw in that logic" is that 80 is a moving target. People who are 80-ish now were only 50-ish in 1980. They were young adults during the civil rights movement. Was it okay then for them to be racist? My parents will be 80 in a little less than twenty years. By then it certainly won't be okay for 80-year-olds to be racist. When do we stop excusing racism on the basis of age?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 2:28 PM
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24: Oh, I see, and you're certainly right. There will be other things we need to excuse as time goes on, I expect. Religiosity may be one of them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 2:42 PM
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Experiences differ, of course, but recently I find my opinions on the constellation of issues involving the police to be way more "conservative" than what I commonly hear expressed. Sometimes not much more nuanced than "kill the pigs!" I know people are just letting off steam, but I can't help thinking less of those who express that.

Many years ago a date offhandedly suggested she hoped the soldiers all died. On the one hand, you can't take a statement like that seriously, but I definitely recall the evening was over as early as it decently could be.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 2:57 PM
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24: I believe that the Slacktivist (could've been someone else) has done yeoman's work on this point*. We've gotten to the moment where the US Army (and Major League Baseball) was integrated when centenarians were 33. I'm willing to forgive someone of that age for a certain number of unfortunate linguistic choices, but nearly anybody who can still be trusted to pilot a car was raised in an era when naked prejudice was the purview of the Klan and Bull Connor. You don't get a pass for choosing that side of the argument in 1959, and you sure as shit don't get one now.

*for him it's Southern Baptist leaders playing the age card to defend racist statements; said leaders were mostly born in the '50s


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 4:27 PM
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I read a pretty good piece today by Steven Levy, whose name has inexplicably been attached to one of those Marine Todd anecdotes so beloved on the right. The kernel behind it is an IRL rant about the War on Christmas from Ben Stein, but all sorts of culture war nonsense has been appended to what was already a pretty stupid rant.

Anyway, I bring it up because one of the alleged facts about the world in this rant is that the murder rate has been going up since prayer was taken out of schools and abortion made mandatory. In the real world, of course, murders have been declining precipitously for over 20 years now. As IIRC Drum has lamented, it's entirely possible that every single American who was alive in 1991 will have to be dead before we stop treating skyrocketing crime as a political fact.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 4:32 PM
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Oh yeah. I can't even remember what the context was, but one of my relatives yesterday was lamenting regarding something she did twenty years ago that "you just can't do that sort of thing anymore, you know, because of how things are these days. It's too dangerous." It's like it's somehow comforting to some people to live in a fantasyland of rampant violence. Makes them feel righteous or something?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 4:43 PM
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It's going to turn out that ingesting lead paint chips reduces perception of crime.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 5:30 PM
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27: For what it's worth the discussion that precipitated 22 above was my discovery of an old news article from 1972 where a journalist interviewed my (young, white, educated, Northern) father and he said he'd probably vote for McGovern but lamented that George Wallace wasn't running. I wasn't sure if my dad was just being racist (which he is) or trolling (which he does). My aunt defended it as legitimate, with the reasoning that "well back then we just didn't know what he was about." I responded with "He was a single-issue candidate. If it wasn't the racism/segregation, what could have attracted my father to him?" to which she responded "we just didn't know what he was about." And then something something the Obamas are looking for racism.

(In retrospect, he might have just been expressing regret about the assassination attempt on Wallace, which had occurred that year. He doesn't remember the incident at all.)

Anyway, not that I was around, but I think you're overestimating the degree that naked prejudice was allowed back then. Or that it isn't allowed now. I've spent a lot of time with my father recent and it's amazing how horrible drive-time radio is about $the_others. I'm looking forward to returning to my liberal bubble.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 6:11 PM
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And it's somewhat astounding how much "that's racist" is a conversation killer among racist white people. (Not to say that I'm not, but at least I have the sense to see it as a shameful problem to be improved upon.) We've done a good job getting a stigma on the description without as strong of one on the action.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 6:17 PM
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A family member in his 60s is conservative but isn't overtly racist and passes emails, chain letters etc similar to the Ben Stein one above. Some of the ones others in the group send though are shockingly racist. One said "the Jewish piano" and showed an old fashioned cash register, with the number 6 million shown on the display for good measure. Every now and then he does say something pretty tone deaf but nothing awful, it's mostly the people he associates with who are over the line.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 6:37 PM
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I am reliably informed that my beloved's 70-something grandmother wants to know why I go to Black Lives Matter protests. However, she doesn't ask me. Why not? one might ask.

"Because I disagree with her," is what she told him.

In other news, Christmas Eve was marred by an 80-something white friend of the family who asked a young Chinese-American guest where she was from (answer: Orange County, CA) and then pronounced, 'Well, you CLEARLY have some Oriental in you.'). Charming. Nobody intervened, but I am told that there was an immediate move to change the subject. I did check in with the young guest later and express my regret.

To be honest, I don't actually see differences in prejudice across generations. I see differences in language -- young people often use different code words to express the same bigotry as their grandparents.

I don't think we're going to age our way -- or cross-culturally sex our way -- out of racial prejudice. The only way out of this is through, by doing the hard work of challenging ourselves and each other in the struggle.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:06 PM
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I think the glass is better than half full. But the way we got here, and keep going, is opprobrium. And we don't get the benefit of that with undeserved charity. No one under 40 when Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door gets a pass on fundamental decency.

I mean, sure, I'll make allowances for actual medical conditions.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:24 PM
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||
Drinking in a bar at Logan (Iberian Fury preceded me by a few days). Strange feeling! I'm excited and happy, but wow, emotions. Bye, America!
|>


Posted by: X.Trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:24 PM
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'Well, you CLEARLY have some Oriental in you.').

That's a good set-up for an instructional, yet humorous remark about carpet munching.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:25 PM
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Bye, trapnel!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:36 PM
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6: And of course this is now part of the general knowledge now, just like Foster.

That part of what was so disheartening/infuriating about the experience in 6. this was not someone who was even minimally aware of the facts--they did not even really remember his name. Their initial statement was, "and I think there are lingering questions about am aide who committed suicide." Me, incredulous: "You mean Vince Foster?". "Yes, I think that's it." bit more discussion, and then I did nothing to help by breaking into a pretty good imitation of Tom Hanks' "No crying in baseball" rant only with "no lingering questions."

Because I'm a mansplaineryeller.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:39 PM
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Don't forget to write.


Posted by: Opinionated America | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 7:40 PM
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trapnel-- what country are you moving to?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:02 PM
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Bye trapnel! And good luck!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:03 PM
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My Dad has turned kind of racist against Africans which is odd to me, because he always supported affirmative action and impressed on me that I had certain privileges as a white person.

My mother has always been pretty bad. We used to rent out a room in our house to college students, and she had a rule that she didn't want to rent out to Indians. At the time, her thinking was that the only Indians who came to the US were the super rich who were bound to be overly entitled. I don't know if there was any truth to that stereotype.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:06 PM
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But maybe CCarp can give my mother a bit of a pass because she has an actual medical condition.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:07 PM
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I have a medical condition I can't spell.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:19 PM
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Austria, after a brief stopover in Portugal.


Posted by: X.Trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:27 PM
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Maybe Miller Lite will fix it since they can't spell either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:29 PM
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45: an inability to spell isn't necessarily a medical condition.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 8:45 PM
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48: No, you misunderstood. Moby's medical condition is that he has no colon.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 9:04 PM
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I may have to get my appendix removed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 9:21 PM
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49: Well done.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 9:36 PM
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49: I'm glad to see someone's picking up what I'm putting down.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 9:54 PM
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That means you're neb's dog.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:02 PM
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Way to VSOOBC, Mobes.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-26-14 10:05 PM
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My grandparents, especially one grandmother, are left of center (especially for their ages) on race relations in the US, but right of center for Europe. It's a really odd bifurcation, because in many ways even leftist Europeans can be more racist than Americans. My grandmother told me one of the proudest moments of her life was getting to vote for and see Obama take office. This same woman complained about African immigrants in Europe and is upset I'm dating an Italian (though less upset when she found out he was Northern Italian).*

*Part of it, more so for my other grandmother who was less racist overall, is that they're less racist than many Americans against people they consider nonwhite, but they have a much wider set of "nonwhite" people.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 6:31 AM
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One strange thing I heard a relative say this holiday season was a disparaging remark about people who go out and protest. "They just don't know how to negotiate anymore."

I didn't take the bait at the moment, saving it instead to post later as a comment on a blog. But, seriously? I mean, really.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 6:50 AM
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56: What, you've forgotten the great Montgomery Palaver of 1955?

I actually suspect this relative picked up the complaint from the ether of (a) everyone saying that about congressional Republicans and/or (b) lefties saying it about Obama, albeit taking it in an excitingly new, racist direction.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 7:00 AM
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I'm black where it counts if where it counts is in Scandinavia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 7:43 AM
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I had one grandmother who was a New Deal liberal democrat and civil rights supporter in the 40s-60s but ended up with anti-immigrant views for some reason, kind of like 55. And another grandfather who for real knew and supported Black Panthers, and was probably about as non-racist as anyone from his generation possibly could be.

Still, I'd note that this space has no non-Canadian black commenters, so let's not all start blowing each other yet for how awesomely inclusive we all are.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:02 AM
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Anyhow, I think the "personally basically racist white rich/umc northeastern more or less liberal civil rights supporter" is a pretty common character of the 1950s-now. It was the bulk of the audience for the New Republic for example.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:46 AM
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Off topic, do you know what's the perfect cleanser to too much Christmas music? Van Halen's Unchained. You'd think that doom metal would be better but by the power of the dialectic extreme depressive evil merges into cheerful joy. But flat out stupid cocaine metal works as a solvent to the season.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:48 AM
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Van Halen's Unchained.

That's my favorite one of theirs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 10:06 AM
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59: If we get an American black commenter, I call dibs on nosflow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 10:09 AM
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this space has no non-Canadian black commenters

Not suggesting that Apo should start cornering nosflow here, and I agree that being self-congratulatory about how awesomely inclusive we are would be stupid, given that anyone who's ethnicity I know about here is either white, Asian, or, as you say, Canadian.

But there's something about the way you put it that feels counterproductive with respect to inclusiveness. Anyone I haven't met, I don't actually know what their ethnicity is, and saying as if with certain knowledge that we don't have any black commenters other than Lord C. occasionally, seems actively unwelcoming, as if it were meant to be normative rather than both descriptive and unfortunate. Ideally, we'd have black commenters, and it is possible that we have black commenters or lurkers that I don't know about because it's hard to see ethnicity online.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 11:18 AM
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Road to Angela Davis Library New Yorker, 12/26


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 12:53 PM
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One said "the Jewish piano" and showed an old fashioned cash register, with the number 6 million shown on the display for good measure.

Holy crap.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 2:28 PM
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66 Holy crap indeed.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 8:17 PM
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That's way expensive for a piano.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 8:29 PM
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I'm not sure I can say this without it sounding like racist bragging, but "No offense, Ms. Thorn, but that is some serious white people shit!" from Selah's mom during our visit this weekend was not in reference to anything I had done, at least! But that doesn't make me any less white either. (But seriously, who's a serious black drinker who hasn't at least tried Hennessy? Like, it's a thing for a reason, no?)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 8:47 PM
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A stereotype like that would make it impossible for a Jewish piano retailer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 8:48 PM
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69: I haven't seen anybody order it. But it may not be stocked at my usual.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 8:53 PM
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Also, I may or may not be good at noticing stuff when I'm drinking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:00 PM
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Mobes, I maybe have not been imagining your local watering hole to be as diverse as it is. (That said, Lee also had an awkward moment years ago when she asked about what Cristal was and my then-17-year-old-teetotaler brother said, "Um, I think it's a sparkling wine?" and she's obviously had her reasons for not drinking stereotypically black drinks other than Riunite back in the day. But still!)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:03 PM
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It's not that diverse. Maybe 5% or so of the customers are black now that Mark went to Florida. But I'm not basing it on nothing. I'm there enough and I often sit in front of the liquor at the bar so I see what is being poured.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:11 PM
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That you go there as an anthropologist explains so much!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:24 PM
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"I'd tip you more, but my grant only covers 10%"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:30 PM
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Moby realized that an IRB would never approve a study that involved surveiling drinkers by ethnicity so instead he watches the alcohol itself.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-27-14 9:33 PM
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I was supposed to be doing a study of sentinel behaviour in pigeons but it was raining so my supervisor told us to go to the pub and collect the same data for people. True story. E got good data too.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 1:13 PM
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E sb I. Obveously.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 1:14 PM
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One said "the Jewish piano" and showed an old fashioned cash register, with the number 6 million shown on the display for good measure.

Anti-Jewish sentiment is surprisingly (to me) alive and well in some quarters of the US Protestant population. I can't say it goes so far as displaying a 6 million figure as though it's funny, but I have to grit my teeth repeatedly when I hear people refer to some law firm, or just some family they've encountered, with an obvious smirk, assuming that the audience totally gets the disparagement.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 1:23 PM
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79: Except after C.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 1:28 PM
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But did you purchase a punch?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 1:44 PM
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I did not. Pretty much, I can't see a proper punch actually making the difference -- the nail was big enough to hit hard, and I was getting a fair amount of force on it and nothing was moving. That pin is bent.

I'm going to look for a repair shop, which will presumably have, I don't know, whatever you'd need to drill it out. Or get a new one.

Always important to end the year on a note of failure and despondency.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:00 PM
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That's the spirit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:08 PM
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If it's broke anyway and you're into failure and despondency might as well take it out Gallagher style.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:10 PM
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Have you ever met one of these things? To break it in any satisfying way I'd need a sledgehammer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:12 PM
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How did you set up house without having a sledge hammer?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:13 PM
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What part of Gallagher-style don't you understand? Yes, a sledgehammer, also a black and white striped long sleeved t-shirt, mustache, and homophobic repartee should do the trick.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:15 PM
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Drilling it out is easy. You just need a drill. Getting a replacement pin might be harder.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:36 PM
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But if you know a machinist, she should be able to make one very easily. Five minutes in a wee lathe.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:39 PM
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There's a machinist right next to the chandlers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:45 PM
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I think what this is the kind of thing you want a rubber mallet for, rather than a hammer, isn't it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 2:57 PM
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Not insofar as I can tell, no.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:07 PM
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A rubber mallet would just get the crochet hook embedded in it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:09 PM
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One time, when I was visiting friends in Brooklyn, the strap of my surplus Italian Army backpack broke, but we took it to a hardware store owned by a crafty old immigrant, and he fixed it right up, and only charged me 89 cents for the part. So, clearly LB should look for an immigrant-owned hardware store in Brooklyn, and they'll get that pin out for her.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:10 PM
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Our ancient Russian? some kind of Slavic hardware store went out of business a couple of years back -- I don't actually have a favored local place anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:17 PM
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This was back in '99, so he may not have even been that ancient. I have no idea even what neighborhood this was -- it was on a main shopping street around the corner from the little brick house that my friend -- who writes for TV now -- was living in at the time.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:41 PM
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91: I think that's London 2 New York 0, then.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:45 PM
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98: About a quarter of the women in my office are married to machinists, but no ship's chandlers in the bunch.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 3:54 PM
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New York lacks actual machinists, but you can buy a tranche of the value of a specially-rated subset of machinists from all over the United States.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 4:23 PM
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Actually, come to think of it, my great grandfather was for real a machinist in New York City (I think, but am not sure, that a "tool and die" maker which is what he was is the same thing as a "machinist"). Too bad he's not alive. No chandlers in the family.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 4:27 PM
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LB, your bike sales/repair shop should be able to drive that pin out easily.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 4:36 PM
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Thanks -- I wouldn't have thought of that, and there is a bike repair shop closer than the nearest chandlers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 4:42 PM
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OT bleg: I have a pitch meeting next week with the director of programming for The History Channel.* The only idea I have is for Schoolhouse Rock for grownups: animated shorts (scripted by me, animated by my co-author on the Civil War comic book that I have coming out soon) set to music (scored by my friend the former rock star/current composer) that look at critical moments in US history. It's perfect in that it's a) credible, so I won't totally embarrass myself; and b) they'll reject it, so I won't have to work for The History Channel. That said, if you have other ideas, let me know.

* Yes, I know. Whatever. I'm doing this for a friend who works there.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:01 PM
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My great great grandfather was a chandler. Had a little shop on the docks in New Bedford when Melville came through. He was also a blacksmith: obviously the right guy to fix a stand mixer.

Have you tried whale oil?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:06 PM
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VW, the market for reality TV about chandlers seems wide open, but you may not have much to offer there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:08 PM
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104: Have you considered something Nazi-related?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:10 PM
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VW should pitch Whalers on the Moon: The Evidence.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:11 PM
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It admittedly lacks Nazis, but the Soviets did a lot of whaling so you could work in a Cold War angle.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:12 PM
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Maysville Road Truckers


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:14 PM
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The conclusion could be that the moon landing as shown on TV was faked, but that Armstrong and Aldrin really did land on the moon, where they fought and defeated the evil Communist whalers who had gotten there first.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:15 PM
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111: At least Nia and probably Mara too would probably be willing to go on camera to explain their theory that a mummified Armstrong's body is inside his space suit at our natural history museum.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:23 PM
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You people are every bit as helpful as I expected. That said, if you think the moon landing really happened, I have a whaling vessel to sell you.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 5:40 PM
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I actually think your current idea is great. Go with it!


Posted by: X.T | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:03 PM
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I have idea. Think Andersonville meets Hogan's Heroes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:06 PM
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This is why academics are morons. Pitch your last book (not the Civil War one) as the basis for a documentary. It's got plenty of narrative oomph and old westy appeal. They probably won't go for it because it doesn't involve aliens or crab fishermen but might as well fucking pitch it.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:07 PM
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Did Loewen ever get to do a Lies Across America/Sundown Towns TV show? Those would be cool.

Also: "The Civil War: It Was TOTALLY About Slavery!"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:07 PM
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"Alaska Shore: Aliens Probe Fishermen Who Probe Crabs."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:33 PM
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Aliens Who Catch Crabs From Probing Fishermen.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:39 PM
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Books That Cure Cholera


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 6:40 PM
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116: yeah, I'll do that, too. Actually, I'll do the next book, which is about the relationship between the Civil War and the Indian Wars. The first half of the book takes place during the war. Sand Creek will be the third chapter -- after the Dakota Uprising and the Long Walk -- because I believe in recycling. The second half of the book takes place during Reconstruction: Red Cloud's War, the Modoc War, and the Great Sioux War. The epilogue will be Chief Joseph and the Ghost Dancers (great band name!). The argument is that the Civil War was a war of empire -- see above about recycling -- and that the Indian Wars, in conjunction with Reconstruction, were the moment that Americans lost their appetite for utopian statism. I'll be sure to say "utopian statism" at least six times during the pitch meeting.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:15 PM
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Teevee stardom here I come! If I might any aliens, y'all will be the first to know.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:16 PM
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I can't wait to send the fpp's my rider. "If you want me to continue to comment here, I'll need three cases of triple-filtered vodka, a gallon jar of artisanally produced cornichons, three unused Cross Signatures, and thirty sheets of genuine vellum."


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:21 PM
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That's just page one. It gets better from there.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:22 PM
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Okay, delegate those to Jesus, neb, ajay, and ttam. Next?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:29 PM
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It isn't VW's field, but seeing TRO commenting, I note that History Channel documentary about the history of policing might be fascinating, timely, and well suited to television as a medium.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:35 PM
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I didn't know you had another book out. I'm going to wait to see if Bill Emblom likes it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:35 PM
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127: I should have advance copies of the book in a couple of weeks. It should be available to my adoring public, including Bill Emblom, in March.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:48 PM
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Where's my vellum?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 7:51 PM
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It's spelled "Valium". I don't have any.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 8:03 PM
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||

We were supposed to leave Chicago today to head back to Virginia, but my grandpa (who's undergoing radiation treatment for cancer) went downhill. So instead we spent the day convincing him to go to the hospital, then getting him there, then waiting while various tests were run. No definitive answers on what was going on—he was extremely disoriented, e.g. not knowing he's got cancer, not knowing the date, not knowing the current president (or even the last one, after we reminded him that the last president was someone he really didn't like). So today sucked a lot, especially for the old man.

In conclusion, fuck cancer.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 9:04 PM
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That's rough. Sorry to hear it.

At least Hillary was trying to make the test about presidents easier (Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 9:32 PM
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animated by my co-author on the Civil War comic book that I have coming out soon... scored by my friend the former rock star/current composer

Couldn't you have left it at just one of those, so the rest of us academics don't feel quite so uncool by comparison?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 9:58 PM
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Also: "The Civil War: It Was TOTALLY About Slavery!"

But my grandmother was just explaining at length at lunch today how it wasn't! And she would know, her great-grandfather's cousin has a Confederate flag on his tomb, and she can prove it with these here printouts from Ancestry.com for the next four hours of conversation.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 10:02 PM
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Speaking of history and the entertainment industry, I saw The Imitation Game tonight. I have no idea how accurate it is historically, but I thought it was a really interesting movie. It puts moral ambiguity front-and-center in a way that's unusual for a Hollywood biopic.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 11:13 PM
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135: there's a NYRB article going around dedicated to all of the ways in which it's inaccurate. As with most of that genre, I feel like it basically misses the point.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 11:32 PM
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136: This one, I presume, which I have seen posted a few times on FB but hadn't remembered the source of (so thanks for the pointer). The points are well-taken regarding the inaccuracies, but I still think it works well as a film even if you have to treat it as essentially fictional.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 11:55 PM
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Someone I had intensive first-year French with in college and then hung out with that summer was going to do academic archaeology and I think at the time my thought was "ok, well, that's very nice or whatever" and a year or two ago I learned she had a popular tv show about Egyptology on whatever channel that would be on so these things do happen to acquaintances of mine. Always the fame-maid, never the fame.

I had a headache much of the day and I think it was parts of my brain collapsing. I am trying to write something for work and I get to the middle of a sentence and my brain is like "but MOM!"


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-28-14 11:59 PM
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137: yeah, that's the one. And yeah, I think the paramount question wrt historical fiction is and has to be "does this work well as a story?" (The classic counter to that article being "what do you think of Shakespeare's historical plays?") Not to mention that anyone expecting historical fidelity from Hollywood is bonkers.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 12:07 AM
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The Imitation Game "works" as a story you've already seen many times about a tortured genius no one believes in until he's proven right. With costumes, a bit of espionage intrigue that seemed like window-dressing, and some handwaving towards math and morality. I didn't think it was particularly good before I looked up whether it was particularly accurate. I don't know if a more accurate movie would have been better, but I think a less conventional one, maybe a movie that was less afraid of math and of Turing's actual relationships, would have been better.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 1:52 AM
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Also, Shakespeare's plays kind of suck dramatically. (I wonder if this can fit into a five act structure? Oh, it does!) Some good lines, though.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 1:54 AM
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The thing is, though, who gives a shit about Henry V? He's just some doofus who conquered France 50 million years ago. The consequences of getting Henry V wrong are about as large as the consequences of the character of Gandalf wrong. Turing, on the other hand, was a key figure of the 20th century, and a goddamn hero. He's part of modern history, so getting him right matters in a way that Henry V doesn't.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 2:00 AM
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The consequences of getting Henry V wrong are about as large as the consequences of the character of Gandalf wrong.

Tolkien fans might disagree.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 2:02 AM
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AIMHMHB My mother worked at Blet/chley though at a distance from Turing. She was, though, a proper cryptanalyst, not "one of the silly girls in hut six" and her version of him is that of course everyone knew he was gay. So thwo whole blackmail subplot was absurd. She also liked Denniston though thought that it was right to sack him, as happened quite early on in the war.

I spent the first hour of this morning sorting through an unsorted heap of bills extracted from her desk, so I coud do her income tax. Amid all the desperate little handwritten notes "Have I paid this?" "Ask Werdna about this" "What is this about?" was a little square of paper on which was written "Contented dementia", and lower down "£47.13".

How far down would I have had to excavate to reach the strata where her mind still worked as it should? Ten years?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 2:21 AM
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142: Yeah, and in five hundred years, no one (if there is anyone) will give a shit about the details of Turing's role in the war. He was just some doofus who helped stop England being conquered.

(Yes, I know that in the history of computing he will always be interesting, but the people who do computing aren't really interested in history and the people who don't aren't interested in computing)

The point about the Turing film and Hollywood generally is not that they travesty history, but that they do so in the service of shitty fifth-rate art. Richard III is a wonderful play whatever really happened to the princes in the tower.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 2:31 AM
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145: And if I am suddenly transported 500 years into the future, I will agree with them. But unfortunately I'm living now.

I don't the "art for art's sake" idea for historical fiction at all. If you want to make fiction, make fiction. Make a movie about "Balan Buring" who worked at "Techtley Park". Movie makers make historical movies because they want to borrow the prestige of fact.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 2:43 AM
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And this is what the film "Enigma" was. The main character had some aspects of Turing but he and all the others were fictional. Much more integrity than just making up a story about how Turing was really a traitor.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 3:02 AM
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How far back do you have to go before history loses its prestige? I mean, if you make a movie about Akhenaten, (not, if possible, the Mummy Returns) he is interesting solely as the first monotheist and you can legitimately hang anything you want on him. Somewhere between then and Turing lies a border, this side of which is a duty to factual truth. The historical novelist gets round this normally by inventing a viewpoint character and portraying the "real" ones as truthfully as possible. But what can film makers do? I really don't understand the medium enough to have an answer.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 3:35 AM
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Isn't there a really important reason that historical accuracy around Turing in particular is important, in that he's a guy whose identity was suppressed (in one of the most literal and horrific ways possible) and therefore there's a duty to avoid repeating that suppression / erasure above and beyond say, some guy who flew planes and died in his house with his wife when he was 70?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 3:52 AM
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149: I don't think his identity was suppressed any more than anyone else's who worked at Bletchley. Hell, my mother didn't admit to us what she had done in the war until the early Eighties. But what he did before and after the war was known and admired by people who understood it. A very brief wiki skim reveals his obituary in the journal of the Royal Society. Since, by some inexplicable oversight, I'm not a fellow myself I can't read more than the first page but it looks thorough and detailed.

There were two problems with expecting a widespread appreciation at his death and neither had anything to do with his sexuality. The first is the Grothendieck problem: hardly anyone, in the mid-Fifties, will have understood his theoretical accomplishments nor why they could be important. The second is that his wartime work was and remained entirely shrouded in secrecy, but that was true for absolutely everyone who worked there and it would have seemed a clear patriotic duty to keep it that way.

Rereading, it occurs to me that by "identity suppressed" you may have meant the hormone treatments. Which, yes, indefensible. But even there the film seems to have played fast and loose with the facts.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 5:20 AM
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148. Interesting question. Ten years ago, I would have said "after Shakespeare stopped fictionalising it", i.e. about 1538 in the case of England, and about the same elsewhere. Then I saw Kapur's "Elizabeth" and loved it, although it contained not five minutes of historical accuracy from start to finish. Apart from the fact that it was visually stunning and Blanchett turned in a great performance, I was fascinated to see how Kapur, who obviously has no side on 16th century England, interpreted the mythology with a free hand and felt able to do so.

So my new line is, "as soon as you don't care". And the actual date for this varies from case to case. You can of course travesty Roman emperors or make movies about King Arthur with my blessing, as long as they're entertaining, because I don't really care about the reputation of Roman emperors and I don't expect a movie about King Arthur to be good on the finer points of late antiquity. But. I would walk out of a film which (today) portrayed Columbus as admirable, because I care very much that he is understood to have been what he was.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 5:47 AM
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Flashman?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 5:52 AM
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Don't know Flashman, but I expect I'd be fine with it. Fraser was a grumpy old Tory and I daresay that comes across in the books and movies, but time, with its strange excuse, probably pardons him for writing well. If he portrays the Indian empire as a noble enterprise he's allowed to do that as long as he doesn't make his anti-British Indians cartoon figures.

I'm not hugely well read on the period, so I wouldn't necessarily recognise bad research. And I certainly don't believe there were any "good guys" on any side


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:04 AM
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I think that has to be right about Flash, and, actually, he did do a hell of a lot of research.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:08 AM
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Having at least skimmed all of Walt's comments on Grothiendieck, Turing was never that impenetrable. The Halting problem would have been hard to explain in 1950, but at the Turing Machine is a powerful image as well as a model, and the Turing Test is also quite accessible. Then by 1961 Catch-22 could make jokes about a character being promoted by a computer.

Grothiendieck is like trying to explain Hegel or the Higgs Boson or something. In that yes you can get to an educated layperson ballpark understanding of it but not quickly.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:20 AM
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I traveled back in time just to let you know that the new Turing biopic is much better. My favorite is the part where he kills Hitler with an Enigma Gun while a wounded Churchill holds back Wilhelm II.


Posted by: Future Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:30 AM
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Nworb - yeah, the hormone treatment. Just strikes me that a lot of Turing's story is about identity and self and loss of control of self and identity in a way that, I dunno, Churchill's isn't, and so it seems much more offensive to play fast and loose with his story.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:31 AM
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I watched a BBC hit piece on Roosevelt about 8 years ago, and it was almost unwatchable because they voiced Roosevelt with a strong rhotic, almost Texan accent. It was so off it was physically painful to hear. I was in Oz at the time and tried to explain to Australians that the patrician NY accent of R's time was non-rhotic, but they were being what I can only hope was purposely obtuse. (Wut? Why are you cringing mate? It's an American accent, and Roosevelt was American.) Us Yanks need to do a WW2 documentary with Churchill having a Scouse accent in revenge.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:42 AM
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You mean in addition to the porn one ("Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat, and then at the end some fun fluids")?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 7:08 AM
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Blood and Soil(ed)?
D(ong)-Day?
(or alternatively, Debbie does D-Day?)
When the Yanks come?
Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Member?



Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 7:29 AM
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155: Turing test - yes, but it's not something that would have been comprehensible to newspaper readers in 1955, I think. At least, it wouldn't have seemed an urgent problem. Strong AI wasn't a programme even in places like MIT until after Turing was dead (Tweety will correct me). I think it was more like that geostationary satellite in that the idea, when it first occurred, was so far ahead of the available technology that it would not have seen an obituary-worth distinction to have come up with it.

Speaking as an arts ungraduate, it took me the whole of GEB to understand why the Turing Machine mattered; again, I think in the culture of the 1950s Anglosphere the newspapers and other mass media could not have been expected to grasp this.

Again, none of this is to defend or excuse the hormone treatment. But medical brutality was more common than we'd like to think -- lobotomies come to mind, but Sweden and other places were sterilising "undesirables" too. This doesn't have the identity-stealing aspects of hormone treatment, agreed.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 7:51 AM
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160: The man with the big cigar in his mouth


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 7:51 AM
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V ist für ficken


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 7:53 AM
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We will fuck them on the beaches


.... oh christ. I really need to get back to writing about the Pope.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 7:54 AM
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||
But while I'm not, we have a winner in the contest for the worst Episcopalian bishop ever -- a woman with a conviction for drunk driving, also found with a hash pipe in her car on that occasion, who was none the less consecrated and four months later killed a bicyclist and drove away from the scene. WTAF?
If it were a Southern Baptist doing hit-and-runs on cyclists it would make more sense. But Episcopalians? Either they are on the bikes themselves or else they have their chauffeur run them down.
|>


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:02 AM
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First They Came For The


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:04 AM
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A woman who had gone to my high school moved to Maryland, converted to a Protestant thingie, got a job at her church, and was murdered by another employee. Stay away from Protestants in Maryland, is what I'm saying.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:05 AM
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165: They did at least clarify she was driving a Subaru, but yikes!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:05 AM
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161: Do you not think the robots in popular culture would have given the general public an angle?

I guess I think it would be possible to explain Turing in 1955, but it wouldn't have been clear how significant his work was, even to people in the field, and especially given the Bletchley work was secret. In 2014 he looks much clearly like a world historical figure. Because he died in the prime of his scholarly life, the impact hadn't flowed through yet.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:11 AM
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V ist für ficken

So close!

V ist für vögeln.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:19 AM
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Grothiendieck is like trying to explain Hegel or the Higgs Boson or something.

Grothendieck is many orders of magnitude more difficult to understand than the Higgs boson.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:25 AM
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V ist für ficken

The medicated ointment known elsewhere as "Vicks" is labeled "Wick" in German-speaking countries to avoid the v/f homophony. (The terminal "s" had to be dropped to avoid a homophone for a slang term for masturbation.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:27 AM
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171: Maybe right, at least you can get the idea that the Highs Boson is some sort of little particle pretty quickly. Even if the rest of the conversation is then about how it's not really a little particle, it's quite big actually, and vibrating strings and half-dead cats and so on.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:30 AM
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Well of course the cat's half-dead if you've taken its guts out to make a vibrating string! Why are scientists surprised?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 8:59 AM
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I am basically with Walt in 146.2 and also Kier. Especially given that the film was, e.g., shown in advance screenings arranged with GLAAD, it sure seems to position itself as something other than a bit of historical fiction, as something that is actually presenting something reasonably accurate. (I think also that "historical fiction" presupposes some (admittedly flexible) degree of accuracy to its subject in the first place.)

And a large part of the complaints the NYRB article (which is excerpted from a longer essay) makes seem not simply to be "this is inaccurate" but "this has taken something interesting and made it something stupid, and conventional", that the filmmakers had a good, meaty subject and made a movie that totally ignores it, except in name.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 9:53 AM
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While the Turing Test is certainly fairly easy to explain, I don't think much of it as an actual standard for judging AI, which makes it a poor example of what made Turing important. While any plausible strong AI could probably pass it (I guess?), Eliza comes pretty close to passing it, and programs written to pass it don't seem to have much to do with actual AI. People just aren't terribly good at spotting canned responses under tightly controlled conditions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 10:00 AM
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And a large part of the complaints the NYRB article (which is excerpted from a longer essay) makes seem not simply to be "this is inaccurate" but "this has taken something interesting and made it something stupid, and conventional", that the filmmakers had a good, meaty subject and made a movie that totally ignores it, except in name.

Right, so the answer to my first question in 139 would be "no". Which is to say, Nworb gets it exactly right:

The point about the Turing film and Hollywood generally is not that they travesty history, but that they do so in the service of shitty fifth-rate art.

Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 10:05 AM
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Well, it might work ok as a stereotypical tortured-genius story, but it rankles that they made that story out of this subject—all the stuff about making him humorless and "logical" and also weak and (oddly) asexual—it's like, you didn't just make up your stereotype out of whole cloth, which would be bad enough; you took someone else and made him a stereotype through ignorance or effort.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 10:09 AM
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I repent of the errant hyphen in 178.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 10:10 AM
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I guess that might be implicit in Nworb's comment, but not in yours—if your quetion is just "is it shitty, fifth-rate art?", then it misses the added element in "they travesty history in the service of shitty, fifth-rate art", which still lets you say that the travestying of history is also bad.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 10:13 AM
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Just sent a copy of The Hunting of the President to the person in comment in 3. Will see if that has any effect.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 12:29 PM
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It might be useful to have a list of definitive responses to various political misconceptions well-meaning, intelligent people commonly hold. At least, useful to those of us who are left stammering about this one book whose title and author escapes us at the moment but which exhaustively cites some really conclusive evidence, the specifics of which are a little hazy at the moment.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 12:36 PM
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I guess I was mostly just surprised to see a Hollywood movie about WWII that made a big deal about the fact that there were a lot of hard moral choices involved and that the Allies did a lot of things that were morally questionable even if they did help win the war. Maybe as the Greatest Generation™ dies off a more nuanced approach to the war will become more common, or alternatively maybe the current trend toward tolerating atrocities in the name of national security has made it easier to talk about this stuff while still celebrating the Allied victory.

I'll leave it to the people who know more about Turing himself to judge whether the movie's portrayal of him does more harm or good, but it certainly does seem to have been inaccurate in significant ways. (Interestingly, the inaccuracies seem to have made him a less likable character than he would have otherwise been.) It does seem weird for this movie to be promoted in a gay rights context, because it definitely does treat his sexuality as something of an afterthought that doesn't fit well with its general portrayal of him as a robotic, Asperger-y lone genius.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 1:32 PM
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176: The Turing Test is kind of annoying and crude, but it's powerful because there's a human hidden inside it. So it has room for a human sort of stupid and rat-cunning. So Eliza can pass it, but usually only if the user doesn't know it might be a computer on the other side .. it's quite easy to break otherwise.

People run with computationally simple scripts a lot of the time ... morning routines, smalltalk ... but when they aren't, they are staggeringly complex in a way completely unlike the whole AI-as-conversational-scripts thing.

The other problem is it excludes recognizably intelligent non-humans.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 5:27 PM
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I guess I get disproportionately irritated by things like a story a couple of months ago about something that had 'passed' the Turing test by portraying an uncooperative teenager refusing to respond to questions reasonably. I mean, sure, if we're going to count that as passing the Turing test, awesome, but either you're doing the test wrong or it's not much of a test.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-29-14 6:11 PM
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Well, those sorts of claims are annoying in pretty much the way you describe, and maybe the ambiguity of the test is a cause, though I'd blame the hype vortex more.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-30-14 3:49 AM
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