Linky Friday #167: God & Superman


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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57 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    M5: He is making a very good point though. You might see manufacturing as labor-inefficient but it does provide for many more good paying jobs than other types of work. Simply because jobs disappear because of automation doesn’t mean that the people you used to have those jobs disappear to.

    E1: Actually studying for the test seems like less hard work than these overly elaborate cheating schemes.

    E6: Turning college into a luxury resort can not be a good thing. Colleges always had a social function in addition to its intellectual function. Hard partying by students seem as old as colleges themselves but still there are limits.

    N1: I’m in agreement. The demand for ivory and other exotic animal parts in East Asia seem endless as wealth grows there. Attempts to create synthetic equivalents do not seem that successful. The best way to save the animals is to bow down to reality and create a regulated market for ivory. Where I will depart from FEE’s recommendation is letting the market do it alone. There have been too many attempts of business people not paying attention to the future because they want money today. This is especially a big problem in extractive industries based on resources that take time to grow like lumber or ivory.

    C1: The continuity problem is because it was very difficult to introduce new characters and comic books for decades because of the structure of the American comic book industry. There were attempts but those were usually through existing established characters rather than just out of nothing. Outside of the Indie market, most comic books were superhero comic books, Archie, or Chic Tracks. The indie market was limited to very experimental works or pornographic comics. Since comic books were limited to known qualities, you either had to keep continuity or do fresh restarts. If the American comic book industry was shaped more like the manga industry, which was the form before the Seduction of the Innocent was published, than this would not be a problem.

    C5: What I did not like about Nancy Bulalacao’s piece is that she ignores the Jewish-American origins of comic books and how that shaped many Superhero conventions. Like many people noted in the past, Clark Kent is a name that a Jew trying to pass as a WASP would think of. There are different but similar examples of Jewish ambivalence in Marvel Comics.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      M5: He is making a very good point though.

      What exactly is the point, though? It’s nice to have manufacturing jobs? OK, that’s a pretty uncontroversial statement. What are the actual chances of retaining manufacturing as major source of employment going forward? What would have to happen to make that a reality?Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      M5 does more than a bit of a shell game by first talking about manufacturing employment level, then talking about manufacturing value per capita. Plus, there’s only about 5 million workers in *all* of Switzerland. Swiss (and German) manufacturing works the way it does because they have shedded all the low end, low skill work and almost exclusively focus on the end of the manufacturing chain, and the higher ends of the market in the various finished goods they make.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      LeeEsq: You might see manufacturing as labor-inefficient but it does provide for many more good paying jobs than other types of work.

      Professional sports provides even better paying jobs than manufacturing. Therefore, we should have a much bigger proportion of our population be professional athletes.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Professional sports provides even better paying jobs than manufacturing.

        Perhaps if we are considering the mean, but certainly not if we are considering the median. Most professional athletes are minor league baseball or hockey players or in minor sports such as lacrosse. Those people get paid peanuts.Report

        • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

          Thank you! I stand corrected.

          But (additionally) a quick search of manufacturing wages yields this:

          By 2013, the median [wage for manufacturing workers] was 7.7 percent lower than the median U.S. wage for all public and private sector workers.


        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          Nothing a bit more job training can’t fix, I’m sure.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          Even in some sports we think of as relatively lucrative – there’s only about 500 golfers worldwide making more than $150k, and I’d guess for the US it’s about the same order of magnitude for soccer players.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      [E1] I know, right? I listened to a very fun lecture some time ago by an information security instructor at a military academy, about the one test he gives a year where cheating is mandatory. The only approach to passing that is not allowed, is learning the material. The idea being to practice the mindset of hacking.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      You might see manufacturing as labor-inefficient but it does provide for many more good paying jobs than other types of work.

      If we’re going to create make-work jobs so people can pretend to be doing important work, does it really matter what kind?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yes. I vastly prefer “hire a friend” work to “let’s build things people will never use nor buy.”Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Yes, it matters a whole lot.

        Creating make-work jobs like a new F-35 fighter jet that will forever just be cruising around in circles in search of enemies, just pumps a lot of money into the economy with nothing to show for it.

        Creating make-work jobs to build a high speed rail line, for example, leaves behind something that will benefit everyone.Report

        • Avatar Francis says:

          Or cleaning up public lands, or removing graffiti from public roads, or pulling pollutants out of soils & groundwater, or removing trash from waterways, or building new electrical infrastructure or installing solar panels on governmental and industrial buildings, or keeping the elderly and infirm company (and out of the hospital) …

          Military make-work jobs are the worst; they leave the country worse off than before.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

            You both seem to have missed my point, which is that if we’re going to be creating jobs specifically for the purpose of creating jobs, making manufacturing intentionally inefficient isn’t a particularly good way to do so. It sounds like you both agree that rather than having people be doing manufacturing jobs that could be efficiently automated, it makes more sense to channel that labor into more useful endeavors.Report

            • Avatar Francis says:

              yup. It makes no sense to impose deliberately inefficient labor standards on one particular sector of the marketplace. If automation is really getting to the point where we have a permanent surplusage of labor, well, people need to eat. Since the government will need to do something with these people in order to prevent riots, then they might as well work on value-added projects in return for their govt support.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      E1) Cheating – If a student can cheat at a test by writing down some key information, then it’s a poorly designed test. The toughest tests I’ve ever taken were open book, open notes, or take home exams, because the questions were true challenges to what was learned, not to what trivial information was retained. If a teacher told me I wasn’t allowed any kinds of notes or references, then I knew the test was an exercise in memorization more than a real challenge of the material.Report

  2. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    [E3] The godless homeschooling article is interesting. I understand that homeschooling is largely a religious thing hereabouts too – escaping the evils of sex ed, evolution, and heavy metal music so prevalent in public education – but I don’t believe I’ve met any of those folks. The homeschooled folks I’ve known have all had entirely secular reasons for it, and while some of them were religious, none were so religious that the secular environment was seen as a problem. (Living in the country it would be a two hour bus commute each way; why make the kid waste seven hours a day when she can get through the curriculum in two hours a day at home; the kid was bored stiff / picked on / generally miserable at school; etc.)

    Also amusing about one in five of all Americans aren’t affiliated with a religious group, (…) And while atheists and agnostics account for just a sliver of the country’s population (…) I’d call 20% rather more than “just a sliver”Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yeah, rural folks tend to be like that. Hope the kids get some 4H or something so that they get some sort of socialization with folks who aren’t family.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Unless they’re way out in the bush I suspect there’s stuff to do closer to home in the rural areas – sports clubs, 4H, neighbours to visit – that doesn’t require four hours a day sitting in a school bus.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      My sister is like that, not religious but homeschooling because she doesn’t want a liberal indoctrination of her kids, and because she thinks she’s smarter than all those teachers, anyway (she isn’t, but, well…).Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      When I was in eight grade, we were learning about metaphors and analogies in English class. The teacher let every student pick a song and play it for the class and then we had to find and analyze all the metaphors, etc. I picked November Rain by Guns n’ Roses. Some other people picked Gangsta Rap (The Chronic just came out). So there you have it. Evidence of Heavy Metal in our schools!!!*

      Though I always thought that the leftie equivalent of homeschooling was “unschooling” because school/education is nothing more than an indoctrination complex by Corporate-Industrial America to turn kids into cubicle sheep. I’m largely critical of the unschooling movement. I suppose it can work for some kids but it largely seems to result in kids having very patchy educations because they only study what they want. So you have kids who might have really advanced knowledge of history or computers but are completely lacking in the other.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I’d have that sort of reservation on unschooling as well. If anything my daughter’s publicly funded school is more like unschooling than (my impression of) what any of the homeschoolers of my acquaintance were or are doing.

        That said, plenty of kids come out of the regular school system with remarkably patchy educational backgrounds as well, being unable to speak a sentence of French despite having passed eight years of French classes, etc.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Outside of Europe, most secondary language education sucks because kids have very few opportunities to practice their new language even in language diverse the United States. All Anglophone countries seem really bad at this.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      Mmm. Slight quibble – to the best of my understanding the “nones” are about evenly split between “nonbelievers” and “believers who don’t regularly attend a specific church”.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    R4: I wonder what it will take to get the religiously-inclined to admit that younger generations are simply much more secular and have a hard-time squaring the truths of R1 (these books are written by humans) with evolution and why we should go to religious services. Though I suppose that would be a massive psychological crisis among the religious.

    R7: There seemed to be a lot of “no duh” statements in this article. Of course the most strict branch of Judaism is more into following Jewish Law to a T.

    M5: The issue here is manufacturing employment. Manufacturing employment seemed to be one of the few versions of unskilled or semi-skilled labor that paid very well. At least it did during the 20th century. What the concern here seems to be is more about social unrest and possibly violent reactions to economic decline among the people who had those jobs.

    E3: Are you sincere or is the a Monty Burns impression?

    E6: I don’t know if there is anything that can change this. From what I’ve read, it is because younger people are generally growing up wealthier and in larger homes. They never had to share a bedroom or possibly even a bathroom with siblings.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      Right on E6. This sounds like the emptiest of empty moral panic.

      Oh no! Kids have nice apartments!

      From the article, this:

      Individually keyed bedrooms with solid wood doors and designer carpet

      Then this:

      Roughly 80% of these off-campus spaces offer swimming pools while only around 40% provide dedicated study rooms, according to a Bloomberg analysis—proving that it’s not exactly students’ academic success with which developers are most concerned.

      So, they don’t provide a shared study space, when you can just go to your private room and study there in peace and quiet; however, they do provide a communal swimming pool, where you can lie in the sun with friends and splash around in the water, plus on those long summer day, perhaps you can thumb through whatever tedious novel your lit class is making you read — no doubt reading it on an expensive tablet or whatever grand device capitalism has provided.

      Blah. It’s obvious when a writer is throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks. So you can assume this article contains all the shit they could think to fling. Thus you can conclude that this is not meant to give you insight.

      Seek insight. It is superior.

      Anyway look, rich kids can be annoying as fuck. Yep. In my case, given that I work literally across the street from MIT and two short hops on the subway from Harvard, plus there all the other schools in Boston that I can’t keep track of — trust me, this place is lousy with smug rich kids. Whatevs. I know plenty who don’t live like this. In the end I cannot imagine why I should care.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Concern over the amenities race at colleges and universities is more than just empty moral panic. They do contribute to the rising cost of universities and they do distract from the educational purpose of the university. They also represent how colleges are used by some business people as a source of money to raid. NYU is just as much as a real estate empire as it is a university.Report

        • Avatar veronica d says:

          @leeesq — If the article wanted to take part in a balanced, reasoned discussion of school costs, then it might have done so. Instead it gave us overwrought anecdote. The quotes I put in my post. They contradict. You cannot say “private rooms” and then try to make a point of “no study hall,” at least not if you respect the critical intelligence of your reader.

          This article contains no statistics. I am left with no idea how common this is. Is this a lovely perk for a few trust fund kids? Is it used by the median student? Do they pay for it from student loans? Etc. These are important points that are not addressed.

          One suspects this author sought out the most extreme examples and then presented them as the norm. That is how moral panic is created.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I think Lee has a point about the costs and it is basically edifice complex and people are using universities to enrich themselves. There is something to be said about relatively Spartan dorms in college.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        There’s something for everyone to bitch about here. Conservatives can bitch about how kids these days have it easy. Leftists can bitch about how privileged rich kids have it these days. And the students themselves, after they graduate, can bitch about how easy their parents had it because school was so much cheaper before the imaginary defunding of higher education.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      E3: Both? Here is how I read that:

      PANIC!! Oh no, the Kochs read our playbook!Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      I wonder what it will take to get the religiously-inclined to admit that younger generations are simply much more secular and have a hard-time squaring the truths of R1 (these books are written by humans) with evolution and why we should go to religious services.

      Are they in denial about this? If anything, it seems to me that they exaggerate the significance of this trend (e.g. the War on Christmas).Report

  4. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I don’t think that Bulalacao understood what she read in Ampikaipikan’s piece.

    He does not claim that Asians can’t be superheroes. What he’s claiming is that depictions of characters from other countries almost always fall way, way short in his eyes. They aren’t embedded in the culture that’s familiar to him. In a sense, he’s advocating for the old saw, “Write what you know”. And Americans don’t know much about India, though they can learn if they do a lot of work.

    On the other hand, Americans do know a lot about Indian Americans, or Muslim Americans (I’ve known several). I think American comics should reflect America, while acknowledging that there’s a wider world out there.

    Marvel is now putting forward Black Panther, who is African, not African-American, the way Sam Wilson (Falcon) or James Rhodes (War Machine) are. How will this work? How will Africans feel about it? I don’t know.

    The Netflix series “Sense8” has some comic book roots. It brings together 8 characters from around the world including Korea, India and Kenya. Do these characters work for people from those countries? I don’t know, but I would like to.

    I support efforts to open up comic books to make them more inclusive. There’s plenty room for more inclusiveness when you just take them from AmericaReport

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:


    I give those kids no credit. Sorry. If they put as much effort into cheating as they did studying, they wouldn’t need to cheat.

    I’m all for giving kids credit for finding creative loopholes or exploiting letter-of-the-law/spirit-of-the-law gaps. But this ain’t that. These are kids blatantly and knowingly violating the rules for personal gain. It is cheating, it is wrong, and we shouldn’t celebrate it to any end.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Unlike, say UBER.Report

    • Avatar KenB says:

      I give those kids no credit.Sorry.If they put as much effort into cheating as they did studying, they wouldn’t need to cheat.

      Wait, you’re a teacher — shouldn’t you be more aware of the fact that kids have different learning styles and strengths/weaknesses? I can easily imagine a kid who’s great at putting together technical solutions but lousy at, say, memorizing facts and regurgitating them on a fill-in-the-blank quiz.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        A fair point. And ideally our education would reflect that. This isn’t a student who is assigned a 10-page paper on a topic writing a 10-page play because that made more sense to him and the assignment didn’t say he couldn’t do that. These kids aren’t trying to demonstrate their mettle through non-traditional means nor engage in civil disobedience: they’re lying and cheating.

        So, yea, I mean, if we want to step back and in a vacuum say, “Hey, that was a creative way to cheat,” okay, go ahead and do that. But it is still cheating and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.Report

        • Avatar KenB says:

          Sure, I wasn’t suggesting we should encourage it, just pushing back on the idea that the same amount of energy spent on task B instead of task A would have produced the same results.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          As I said up above, if the kids can cheat by writing down simple notes, it’s a pretty crappy test.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog says:

            One of the most effective ways of tricking students into studying effectively has got to be allowing them to bring a single page of notes into the test.

            That forces them to
            – review their textbook(s) and class notes
            – identify the most important points
            – summarize those points as succinctly as possible
            – write out their summary

            They may even end up consulting their page of notes once or twice during the exam, but that’s immaterial in the end.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            Depends. If kids have an actual advance copy of the test, all they need are the answers.

            I’m not much of a fan of standardized tests.

            But none of that rights these wrongs. And taking such a cavalier attitude towards cheating is what helps it proliferate. Cheating is WAY up and many kids not only do it but see no problem with it. Do you think their honesty and work ethic switches will flip at 18 or 22?Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


              I’m not being cavalier about the cheating. Rather, I’m saying that instead of getting into what is essentially an arms race in an effort to control cheating, design tests where cheating has little efficacy (i.e. one where open book/open notes doesn’t make much difference in the value of the exam), or where the test itself has little enough value as to make cheating not worth the effort.

              A lot of the concern over cheating seems to me to be a case of “we don’t want to change how we write/value tests, so we are just going to engage in a constant battle of ingenuity.”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                My apologies for implying you were being cavalier. I was referring more to the article and Will’a blurb.

                I’m not a testmaker. I took a course on designing assessments but largely tuned out/forgot the relevant parts to this discussion. Your argument is a sound one.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    N4: The “Japan” link seems to have been broken by an Asahi site redesign.Report