Morning Ed: United States {2016.08.25.Th}

Will Truman

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

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157 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    Yeah, unless you have a basement, living in MD or DC or VA can be brutal in the summer. I can’t read the link since I’ve exceeded my limit of Post freebees.

    Inter racial marriage. I live in the mid atlantic and I see more asian/white inter racial action than anything else. The black/white thing is still uncommon….in one of the most left leaning areas of the country. But the online dating app info don’t lie. Black women got it bad.

    Cats: That’s why I like cats…it’s all about the me(ow).

    NE suburbs: I live in a suburb, but the area is old, 1970s ish. It’s close to two big cities-30-45 mins by car, and has mass transit, although given the metro’s incompetent, I’m not sure I’d take that. I have a nice mix of suburban/urban and generally low crime and it’s reasonably quite. I could not stand living in Manhattan…I need space…space in side my residence not on the outside.

    Crazy lady: That old broad’s got some spark! Good for her.Report

    • LTL FTC in reply to Damon says:

      I think you see the white/Asian combo so often because that’s basically the dating pool for elite universities and engineering-heavy schools.Report

      • Damon in reply to LTL FTC says:

        That could be, but I didn’t attend elite universities or heavy eng. schools.

        There seems to be a lot of Asians in northern Virginia, the counties around DC, in DC, etc.–at least according to my dating apps. Whether that is from schooling or community clustering I can’t say.Report

        • LTL FTC in reply to Damon says:

          At elite mostly white high schools (and I know this is true of MD/VA suburbs) Asians are the biggest minority by a large amount.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to LTL FTC says:


            My public high school on Long Island was about 50 percent Jewish and 25 percent Asian. From what I’ve heard, my hometown has become more Asian.

            In San Francisco, White guy/Asian woman seems to be the most common form on interracial relationship. You occasionally see white women date Asian men but this is more rare.

            Ali Wong had a joke on her netflix special about how you would expect she would marry a white guy because she was an Asian woman who wore hipster/funky glasses.

            The thing about interracial dating (I wrote about this on OT a few years ago) is that there are always stereotypical assumptions. Asian guys seem to bear the hardest burden in terms of stereotypical assumptions.Report

      • notme in reply to LTL FTC says:

        So this is a perfect example of why you need affirmative action for elite schools.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

      I can’t read the link since I’ve exceeded my limit of Post freebees.

      Right click and choose “Open Link in New Private Window” on Firefox, or its equivalent on your browser of choice, bypasses the Post’s article count check. Also works for the LA and NY Times sites. One of these days I need to find an add-on that will either not save or not return cookies from specific sites. On the ethics of it, I still say that a paywall that can be defeated so easily isn’t a paywall, it’s a request for donations.Report

      • Damon in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Kick Ass! Thanks Michael!Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Good info!Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

        “On the ethics of it, I still say that a paywall that can be defeated so easily isn’t a paywall, it’s a request for donations.”


        And taking the change from an unlocked car isn’t theft… it’s simply dipping into the Give-a-Penny, Take-a-Penny.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

          Well, more like the Post/Times are saying, “These first four pennies aren’t theft; the fifth one is, unless you wait long enough, or the data we stored in your computer has been purged for some reason, or you’ve turned off Javascript because you’re that paranoid, or the link you followed was on a Google or Bing search results page. In any of those cases, the fifth penny isn’t theft either.”

          The Google/Bing case is particularly interesting. In effect, the Post/Times are saying that there are non-theft ways to take all the pennies you want, it just has to be inconvenient. Pardon my saying so, but that’s a terrible business model.

          Not to mention, the last time I looked, neither of the Post/Times includes the legally required statement that their site stores cookies on your computer.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    Dogs really are humans best friends. What a touching story.Report

  3. J_A says:

    I have no sympathy for people that reject smart meters. They are a key tool for managing electricity demand growth and energy consumption.

    Mind you, we haven’t in the USA even scratched the surface of what smart metering can do. For two reasons:

    We are still deploying those

    Regulators are behind in evaluating and approving creative rate structures and the full use of the smart meter capability for reasons not too dissimilar to those of the people in the article: it infringes my god’s given freedom to run the clothes dryer at 3 pm of an August afternoon.Report

    • Damon in reply to J_A says:

      My regional power company has a “savings” plan where you earn credits for not using power at peak demand times. I think one year I “saved” a max 50 dollars over the season. I know because I get the texts/voicemails telling me how much or little I saved. Where’s my incentive to save when “my piece of the action” is so small. That’s 50 cents a day.

      So with the installation of smart meters, which was done so poorly that a house in my ‘hood caught fire at the meter, it’s supposed to lower your bill because it enables you to “have access to information and tools to help manage energy use, leading to lower bills.” Yeah, I’ve seen MASSIVE savings from having this thing installed vs turning my thermostat up. I suppose at some point they’ll just turn off the power if I don’t “save” enough, even though they say the meter is only for provided better energy usage info…..and allowing the company to turn on and off the power for change of service. Which means they CAN turn it off and on as many times as they like. That’s not something Damon likes. Don’t F with my A/C Build another damn nuke plant. I already sweat enough.Report

      • J_A in reply to Damon says:

        Very few of the smart meter capabilities have been rolled out because regulators have to approve the introduction of each and every new feature to the contract, which is going painfully slow.

        Today the system (that is, we customers) is paying a lot of money to keep or install new peaking plants to cover hours per year. And absent use change we will be needing more of those (and we will pay everycent they cost to build and run, plus the owners’ profit).

        As new tariff structures get rolled in, you will see much more difference between buying in and opting out.

        And smart meters don’t catch fire on their own. Faulty installation of anything electrical screwed to a wood 2×4 catches fire on their own. Yes, it’s the fault of the company for improperly training the technician (*) but not the fault of the meter

        (*) Jaybird has a theory about thatReport

      • Aaron David in reply to Damon says:

        Peak useage rates really don’t have a huge effect at the homeowner level of energy usage, they really come into their own at the large building/campus environment. This is where you see such things as Ice Storage systems and the like. Smart meters and the like are favored by utilities for the ease of use/savings on their end, not for greater savings on the homeowner end. Plus hacking.Report

        • Damon in reply to Aaron David says:

          That’s curious since I took those quotes on why smart meters are so good from my power company’s residential power info site. Maybe they don’t know what smart meters are good for consumer wise 🙂Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

            They do. You and and ten thousand other homes saving 50 cents works out to big savings for them. You technically save money, they get to offline a peak-load plant.

            A big business saving 5% or 10%? That’s real money for them too.

            And it’s not like the companies are lying. You DO save money. Just…not very much.

            Living in Houston, I get a lot more savings when I replaced my attic insulation and duct work. Windows are on my “to-do” list — 50 year old house, some of the windows might actually be original. Some are double paned and less than 20 years old, but the rest…single paned and leaky. Just resealed the doors (stupid front door won’t seal a the top. The door’s a little crooked and I can’t figure out how to fix it. Will have to re-hang the door or something).

            The 50 bucks I spent replacing the door gaskets probably saved me more than a smart meter. The 2500 I’m looking at investing for a whole-house dehumidifier will probably save me a ton too.

            OTOH, that NEST thermostat actually does save me a good amount.Report

            • J_A in reply to Morat20 says:

              I bought a 1940s 2,000 sq ft house in Houston ten years ago, and gutted it to the studs.

              Besides state of the art low E windowpanes (and no windows looking west) I spent 2,000 dollars in insulating material of the best quality, and as much as could be fitted between the walls.

              My electricity bill in August is about 150 dollars. The house is climate controlled the year round.

              A carpenter that once came to my house told me he paid 500 dollars in his house, and had to make sure AC units were turned off when they were out because the power bill was ruining them.

              Insulation is free in the mid term, dude, don’t hesitate.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to J_A says:

                Attic’s all good. Walls are a different matter, but we live there. Redoing walls is a PITA and has to be planned.

                Humidity is still too high in the house though. Constantly fighting to keep it below the 65% where mold grows. (Admittedly, prior to summer it was averaging 50%).

                I think that’s mostly leaky windows and the doors I just fixed. (Well, mostly fixed).

                Whole house dehumidifier is on my list, as are replacing about 80% of the windows. But it all costs, and I don’t like borrowing.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Morat20 says:

                Over the years we’ve replaced all our windows. Probably didn’t make enough difference to pay for themselves, but made an enormous difference in overall comfort, particularly in the winter. Inserts for the fireplace and wood box openings made a big difference. Having the duct work sealed made a surprising amount of difference. The standard sloppy installation of forced air duct work in a house leaks a lot of treated air into places where it does no good.

                We live where the humidity problem is the opposite — keeping the moisture level up to 25% or so in the winter.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Duct work can be crazy inefficient, especially in older homes. I just went through sealing my attic ducts (under the house will be in the fall) and found tremendous leakage. This is a house from 1970, so it’s far from ancient, but it’s clearly from before the time when duct design was a science.

                If you think about it, X CFM of leakage into your attic or crawlspace must be replaced by sucking in X CFM of outside air into your house. If you run the numbers on what a few percentage points of leakage amounts to in total extra air mass from outside that you now need to heat or cool, the numbers add up really fast. The only downside is that crawling around under the house and wrestling with ducts and mastic is a royal pain.

                I highly recommend getting a cheap airflow meter and measuring your flow from each register before and after so you can immediately enjoy geeking out over how much more air is getting into the far reaches of the house. Running the numbers on how much conditioned air you were losing and replacing with outside air is illuminating.Report

      • notme in reply to Damon says:

        Don’t you know your sweaty suffering is good for mother earth and serves to make up for your white male cis privilege. If wind, solar and liberal fantasies can’t give us enough energy then tough.Report

      • David Parsons in reply to Damon says:

        Which means they CAN turn it off and on as many times as they like.

        The power company can do that without a smart meter. It requires a little more human interaction (rolling a truck) but it can be done. What I don’t get with those people in Maryland is why the power company didn’t just put a smart meter in at the pole — if you’re going to be meter reading over the web, there’s no reason at all that the meter needs to be at the demarc, and if the customer is gonna be worried about their precious bodily fluids they can keep their historical reenactment induction meter on the side of the house. But I guess Pepco just couldn’t resist being a dick about it.Report

        • Damon in reply to David Parsons says:

          Yep, it seems it’s a labor saving thing for the company. Fine. What I’m more worried about is that there is not technical reason they can’t turn off the power remotely and “force me” to join the “power saving club”. I don’t know what those nuts you are talking about are cheesed off about….I still haven’t read the article 🙂Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to David Parsons says:

          My concern with smart meters is mainly to do with IT security.

          – Internet of Things gizmos have almost universally terrible security, with potentially very serious consequences. Granted, it’s not a pacemaker that can drop you dead on the spot if hacked, but it’s still got potentially scary physical world consequences – shutting off a victim’s power being an obvious one.

          – Even long-established IT companies have a very hard time with security practices. Your regional utility company is not going to suddenly come along and show them how it’s done.

          Also, an issue of smart meters randomly bursting into flames affected my hometown recently. Obviously not related to the smartness of the devices.Report

    • pillsy in reply to J_A says:

      Well, I have to say the Pascalevs put a lot of thought into making a bold and principled stand against the mysterious and potentially deadly radiation that smart meters emit. Unlike @trumwill, though, I’m not to surprised to see this sort of thing pop up in Bethesda, which seems to be exactly the sort of place where you’d get this oddball confluence of dingbat quasi-libertarianism and New Age dippiness.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to J_A says:

      The one concern the couple had that I thought was valid was how much data the meter had regarding the people in the house (through metadata analysis), and the lack of data security the meters have.

      E.G. If I have a smart meter, and someone hacks the meters, they could, but looking at usage patterns, figure out who is home when. If the meters also have the ability to shut down power, a hacked meter could be used to cause damage (say, shutting down a furnace in the dead of winter, causing burst pipes).

      Perhaps these aren’t serious concerns, but I didn’t see the utility saying anything to address those concerns in the article.Report

      • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Yeah, but I wouldn’t expect an airline to address someone’s concerns over the amount of overhead bin storage they provide if they were also complaining about chemtrails.

        And not for nothing, but “figuring out who’s home when” isn’t that hard to do in ways that are both a lot less speculative and a lot more legal.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

          @pillsy @j_a

          Yeah, kooky concerns do make me less inclined to pay attention to their more serious concerns.

          As for who’s home – come hang out in my neighborhood. Our social media is ridiculously active with all the stay at home parents, or work from home people, such that any strange/out of place person/vehicle is going to get flagged and reported straight away. Casing our neighborhood long enough to learn the patterns is tough. Doing it remotely would be attractive (& we have some very high end homes mixed in, so there is an incentive for burglars).

          Now a couple of Philosophy PhDs are probably not high end robber bait, but it’s still a concern.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            That’s exactly the sort of thing a burglary ring with access to smart meters could find out – a nice map of areas where homes tend to be unoccupied at the same time. So, sure, it might steer them away from your neighbourhood and toward someone else’s.

            The data available from a smart meter isn’t even that coarse grained either. Right down to what channel the TV is tuned to – just from monitoring power consumption as observed from the meter.

            As a burglar, I imagine it would be nice to be able to obtain a list of homes
            – with more than one large-screen TV
            – that are unoccupied and likely to remain so for several hours
            – that are at least 100 m from the nearest occupied building and likely to remain so for several hoursReport

            • Aaron David in reply to dragonfrog says:

              Well, to be fair to burglars (????) most casing of homes is coming from whomever is delivering appliances, housecleaning or any other incidental home entry. And to be perfectly fair to those very hard working professionals, it probably isn’t them, but people they come into semi casual contact with. Ie: the crappy boyfriend, short time employee, etc. Those who have very little stake in the business that would be done, but hears tales of rich peoples houses.

              That said, the IT security sucks.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Aaron David says:

                I have to consciously keep in perspective that actual burglars and such are mostly people in survival mode. If they could master even a skill such as picking locks (which is why even crappy locks are generally good enough), much less hacking a utility company network and writing data mining coffee, they probably would be in a profession other than burglary.

                Except that there is outsourcing. Cybercrime operations nowadays involve subcontracts for the phishing, the credit card numbers, the money mules… A hacker in Estonia can subcontract intelligence for a burglar in Australia.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Oh no, there are, for lack of a better word, ‘professional’ burglary rings. The guy who is in survival mode isn’t the one I worry about, it’s the ones who do it regularly because crime does pay, sometimes very, very well.Report

      • J_A in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        They are probably serious concerns. It has been proved that hacking the electronics of a car is possible.

        But it’s a fairly complicated operation to engage in for a run of the mill house. Against some crazy Wall St.mogul’s house, the odds are higher.Report

    • Anne in reply to J_A says:

      We signed up for smart meters OG&E sold it as you can save on your electric bill which we did

      However now OG&E is raising all our bills to recover lost revenue so, so much for my savings

      • J_A in reply to Anne says:

        I read the article and it sounds strange to me, but I think I can guess what might have happened.

        In principle -a iron cast principle- utilities are allowed a certain target total revenue in $ millions. If the utility does all that it promised to do (quality of service, response time, grid expansion, losses, etc,) it will meet this target.

        Then the rate is calculated diving the target by the expected energy consumption of the customers to get a price per kWh (I’m ignoring the dual tariff of medium and large customers). Demand forecast is quite an accurate science, so there’s little to no risk in missing or exceeding the target revenue due to demand variations.

        I’m willing to bet that the utility and the regulator agreed on a forecast of how many kWh the smart meter program would cut, and baked that in the forecast and in the rate, the price per kWh sold.

        And I’m willing to bet the program was successful beyond their most optimistic forecasts, and the kWh sold were far, far, below what was baked in the tariff. And now they are 30 million short of the target revenue.

        So the utility needs to get those 30 million back, somehow, or it won’t have the funds to operate, and, more important, to expand the system (where most of the actual utility funds go)

        It’s y’alls fault, for being so enthusiastic about the program 🙂Report

  4. notme says:

    Don’t call it a reboot: how ‘remake’ became a dirty word in Hollywood

    It makes you wonder how bad things will have to get in Hollywood before they change their ways. I wonder how badly the Ocean’s 8 “reboot” will bomb?Report

    • Damon in reply to notme says:

      You know, I’d actually pay MORE money for a movie that wasn’t a remake. Christ is the innovation and creativity gone?Report

      • notme in reply to Damon says:

        Yes, it is. I will only go for a matinee b/c I refuse to pay the ridiculous ticket prices. Another bomb in the works is the Ben-Hur “reboot.”Report

      • J_A in reply to Damon says:

        I don’t think I’ve seen a reboot of remake that is better than the original. Mostly it seems they cut out all the thinking parts and replace them with CGI, so I don’t even get to see 90 minutes of acting.Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to J_A says:

          I’ll bet you have. Remakes are nothing new in Hollywood. There are films where the “classic” version was a remake: The Wizard of Oz, The Maltese Falcon, and Frankenstein are examples that spring to mind.Report

        • pillsy in reply to J_A says:

          Most movies are crap. All remakes are movies. Thus, most remakes are crap.

          When you’re remaking a classic, the odds are stacked against you equalling it.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to J_A says:

          The classic Bogart-Greenstreet-Lorre The Maltese Falcon was the third film version. There might be others, but nothing comes to mind.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to J_A says:

          Battlestar Galactica and My Little Pony are the only two that come to mind for me. Not a lot of those though…Report

          • J_A in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Not only was BG the best reboot ever until the Sun becomes a Nova, it actually is one of the very few TV shows (answering @will-truman and @kazzy questions) where religion was a very significant element of the plot and a driver for the characters.

            Though the idea that the Abrahamic-like God was the God of the baddies probably idispleased a lot of people.Report

          • J_A in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Not only was BG the best reboot ever until the Sun becomes a Nova, it actually is one of the very few TV shows were religion was a very significant element of the plot.

            Though the idea that the Abrahamic-like God was the God of the baddies probably infuriated a lot of people.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon says:

        It isn’t gone, but reboots\remakes are easy money. Enough retreads are going to have to bomb, & badly, across the world, before it will change.Report

        • Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Indeed. You see similiar activity on TV when one show becomes a hit all kinds of copies come out. Copy what works….and we still keep buying it.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Damon says:

            Only if it’s the stuff Hollywood likes making. Lost gets 50 replicas, Touched By An Angel and Seventh Heaven don’t.Report

            • Damon in reply to Will Truman says:

              Dear god, who liked those shows originally?!Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Damon says:

                Enough for them to be very successful! Touched by An Angel was just awful, though Seventh Heaven was actually pretty good for a family drama.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Are you saying there haven’t been any new family drams since 7th Heaven? Or just not with that particular blend (e.g., clergyman’s family)?

                Because if you are getting that specific, I’m not sure we’ve seen any “trapped on a magic island” shows since Lost. But maybe I’m forgetting?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                I would say something that completes the following sentence explicitly or implicitly in a sentence: “If you like 7th Heaven, you’ll like [X]”

                I think a big part of the draw of 7th Heaven was that it approached things from a less-than-common value set with the inclusion of religion that’s often conspicuously left out. But it managed to do so in a way that appealed outside that base.

                That’s not easy, and in a way I’m not too surprised that everybody else got on board with it. Book of Daniel may have actually been an attempt, but one that demonstrated a failure to understand the role religion played in 7th Heaven. In 7A it was a show with religion that managed not to be about religion. Book of Daniel was a show about religion that was (by the light of the same audience) sacrilegious

                In any event, TBaA is a better example. In part because it’s easy to see why the networks were so unenthusiastic.

                “So there is this thing that’s a surprising success. Who wants to spearhead it?”

                “Can we make something that’s not trash?”

                “No, I think trash is baked in to the concept.”

                “Well, between that and the Gerald McRaney thing, I’m sure the market is pretty saturated. Gotta be.”Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think that “Book of Daniel” is a pretty illustrative show. It’s not that Hollywood doesn’t make Christian shows. It’s that the ones they attempt often fall flat at the Christian-ness in ways that would drive off their intended audience.

                This is a pretty big example of the Hollywood diversity problem–It’s not enough to make shows about culture-X, you have to be willing to hire and support show creatives that belong to culture-X, and give them the tools they need to deal with studio or network gatekeepers who don’t understand what viewers from culture-X might be looking for.

                The ruins of TV are littered with shows that were supposed to be inclusive but came off as insulting–it’s just a little bit harder to address the ones where “Culture-X” is a certain sort of Christianity, because that’s a lot more nebulous of a distinction than, say, Asian.

                After all, the people involved with “Book of Daniel” probably were Christian, and were writing a show about Christianity as they understood it. They just had a very different understanding than the one that “7th Heaven” promoted.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

                I think that “Book of Daniel” is a pretty illustrative show. It’s not that Hollywood doesn’t make Christian shows. It’s that the ones they attempt often fall flat at the Christian-ness in ways that would drive off their intended audience.

                I think it’s some of both, and not entirely unrelated. That they are not particularly equipped to do the shows well makes them try less often. For a lot of Culture X’s.

                There are a lot of moving parts involved.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think a big part of the draw of 7th Heaven was that it approached things from a less-than-common value set with the inclusion of religion that’s often conspicuously left out. But it managed to do so in a way that appealed outside that base.

                I think everyone here has failed to notice that Seventh Heaven *didn’t do that well*. It only did well because it was on the WB, the ‘low expectations’ network.

                For example, in the 1996-1997 season, it was ranked 154th in total ratings…out of a total of 162 shows. (And the WB and UPN filled the *bottom thirty* of those.)

                Asking why they don’t make more shows like it is sorta like they don’t do more shows like Party Girl, a completely forgettable TV show (No, you’re thinking of the *movie* with that name.) that lasted 6 episodes on Fox in 1996…and literally had *more than twice as many viewers* as Seventh Heaven.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                That’s fair, though it did improve despite being hobbled by being on The WB to begin with.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


                Most TV shows seem to be secular people doing their secular things. Even the Simpsons is mainly secular people doing their secular things even if they went to Church every now and then.

                Do you think that there is a large enough audience for a Christian themed TV show at the Thursday or Sunday at 9 PM slot when most people want to watch secular people do their secular things (aka sex and violence).Report

              • I don’t count The Simpsons as a religious show. I count it as a show that manage to weave religion into their show in a way that countless other shows rather conspicuously avoided.

                I honestly don’t know whether a “Christian-themed” show would have succeeded or now, and neither do they. A lot of it would have depended on how good it was, or wasn’t. The same way that Ellen didn’t work out, but Will & Grace did.

                I know there are some successes that they try to follow up with other successes, and some they don’t. There are some failures they try to follow up with successes, and some they don’t.

                But let me present this another way… Sex & The City was fabulously successful. There was relatively little follow-up to it, though. At least, that I recall. I suspect if more Hollywood decision-makers were women, things might have played out differently. I honestly suspect we would have seen a heavily-publicized network television version within a year.

                I think it matters who makes the decisions.Report

              • J_A in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                The Middle has done a good job of incorporating the Church, religion, and religious individuals (clerics or lay) in a any that it’s realistic, and respectful both to Christians, and to those of the non religious persuasion.

                But off the top of my head can’t think of another one. In most other cases where religion is a standard fixture of the show (The Real oNeals, for instance, a show I actually enjoy) , it is more an object of jokies than anything else.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to J_A says:

                I’ve only seen a couple episodes of that show, but from what I’ve seen I’m not surprised it handles that well.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                In any event, TBaA is a better example. In part because it’s easy to see why the networks were so unenthusiastic.

                Touched by an Angel has a slightly weird production history. The show that was picked up was not the show that aired.

                It was originally written by someone really bitter at God, and the angels were previously dead people sent back to earth who screw things up as much as help. There’s a pilot out there somewhere.

                The network decided to pick the show up based on that pilot.

                It then approached one of the network’s producers named Martha Williamson, to see about hiring her to produce the show.

                She declined the position, because of her Christian faith she didn’t like the script.

                Then, a few days later, sat down with the president of CBS at lunch and pitched *her* version of the show. She was hired to produce *that* version of the show, which she did.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                The thing is, I’m 90% sure I would have liked the original pilot better. I may have to see if I can find it.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                Seventh Heaven was actually pretty good for a family drama.

                No. No it wasn’t.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                Come one DavidTC, don’t be like that, tell us how you really feel…Report

              • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The only good thing about it was Jessica Biel cuz she is hawt.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to notme says:

                Jessica Biel is the one who isn’t either Jessica Alba or Jennifer Beals, right? Used to be married to Mr. Peanutbutter?Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Seventh Heaven is just an epic fail, on so many level.

                First of all, they pretended like they were going to deal with problems, but most of these problems usually utter nonsense (hanging out with skater kids…the worst sin imaginable!).

                But what’s perhaps even worse is when they do somehow wander into a reasonable issue, and take a reasonable position on it, and have no idea how to deal with it. Oh, look, Simon kills someone in a car accident. Can the show deal with this? Nope!

                The show had no subtlety whatsoever. It was like watching drunken elephants make pottery.

                So from the start, the entire premise of the show of ‘teaching a moral’ was completely broken.

                But there were *even more* things wrong. For example, the characters were shallow as teaspoons. None of them wanted anything, or could ever do any actual wrong thing, or were allowed to have any actual flaws…even when the show actually *did* accidentally give them flaws, nope, no flaws. (Guilt, I guess, was allowed. Maybe it’s guilt over causing the death of someone…maybe it’s guilt over smoking pot in college! Or stealing a cup! YOU BE THE JUDGE!)

                Additionally, the show, uh, refused to deal with losing a main character in a really weird way. Jessica Biel left the show, and the show, instead of having her, I dunno, *leave town*, basically tried to turn her into Vera from Cheers. Let’s just keep talking about her and hope no one notices she’s never on screen! Herp derp! Let’s keep her supporting cast around.

                Oh, and speaking of her supporting cast…holy crap, did this show’s cast get huge. Look, if you have a show with seven characters, you can’t really keep us apprised of what each of their four friends are doing. You do not have the airtime to do that. Also, no one actually cares.

                Say what you want about Touched By An Angel, and that was indeed a crappy show, but at least it had consistent characters and a consistent message. (That message was, somewhat accidentally, ‘Life sucks and God doesn’t really care that much and isn’t going to do much about it except send people with no real ability to help you.’, but whatever.)

                Seventh Heaven was, interestingly enough, sorta the mirror universe version of Buffy. Back when the WB had exactly one night of programming, it started with Seventh Heaven and, I think, a soap opera named Savannah, but that only lasted half a season, and Buffy was the mid season replacement, so for about a year and a half, those shows were the entire WB.

                And you can get *much* better morality lessons from Buffy, of all things.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

                Oh, and I didn’t even comment on the acting, which was *astonishing* bad. Like reading-from-a-teleprompter bad.

                This was a *Spelling* production. Say what you want about him, but he can usually find actual *actors*. (Sometimes difficult-to-work-with actors *cough*Shannen Doherty*cough*, but actors nevertheless.)

                I mean, yeah, casting really young kids, it’s hard to know if they will be good actors, but, man, I don’t even know what was going on there. Even the adults were bad, and Barry Watson *can actually act*. He apparently forget how here!

                And while I don’t usually criticize the acting of *really young* actors, the twins, by the end of the series, were supposed to be seven. (And in fact actually were seven.) Shouldn’t they have, I don’t know, been *talking* a lot more than they were? I’ve babysat more vocal *three* year olds. Hell, Ruthie was *five* at the start of the series, and she was talking just fine.

                Seriously, you get the idea maybe they didn’t show us the episode where their kindergarten teacher calls a parent-teacher conference about ‘delayed language development’.

                If the young kids you picked won’t actually act, recast them, you idjits.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                I agree with some of these criticisms, but don’t attach thales same importance.

                The sk8r kid plot though was a strength and not a weakness. It was dealing with the parameters a lot of families actually deal with. Very every day stuff. Same with an episode that was “Are you breaking up a potential family by dating a separated woman with a child maybe you should back off.” As I said elsewhere, different moral parameters, but relatable to a lot of folks.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                As I said elsewhere, different moral parameters, but relatable to a lot of folks.

                No, see, that’s what people always say talking about the show, that people who criticize it are criticizing the morality distributed by the show.

                But that wasn’t the problem of the show’s morality lessons. The problems are a) thanks to not bothering with characterization, none of the problems are actually any sort of lesson, b) again, thanks to the lack of characterization, the reactions of other people are often completely random, and c) the morality of stuff is almost always telling, not showing.

                (c) is actually the big one. If you want to tell a morality tale, you show people doing bad things, and then bad consequence happen.

                If you are a clever story teller, you make these bad things logical outgrowths of the original bad things, and even perhaps happen to other people so the only *actual* result of evil is guilt.

                If you are a crap story teller, you make the bad consequence completely incidental to the bad things, seeming to happen sheer by chance, or completely avoidable.

                Now, sometimes Seventh Heaven managed the second (Aka, the constant silliness resulting from Simon being sexually active.), and sometimes, rarely, the first. But all too often, the bad consequences were…a lecture. That was literally it.

                ‘I did a bad thing, maybe I should feel bad. But no one knows.’
                ‘I just learned you did a bad thing!’
                ‘Oh no!’
                ‘You did a bad thing and you should feel bad!’
                ‘Should I *really* feel bad? Is it really that bad?’
                ‘Okay, I feel bad.’Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC says:

                I wanna see druken elephants make potteryReport

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                The show had no subtlety whatsoever. It was like watching drunken elephants make pottery.

                Ya know, that was just an offhand comment, I expected nothing from it. But @davidtc , you gave us that quote above, and that makes me glad.

                Good show!Report

            • Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

              If you wanted to make a contemporary clone of Seventh Heaven or Touched by an Angel today, I suspect you could confidently do so on spec, and there’d be a distributor for it who would pay you enough money that it would have been worth your while. There is a big ol’ market out there for family-friendly, Christian-compatible programming. And there are distributors who realize this, and who can capitalize on the fact that like everyone else, this audience networks informally and will consume media product according to peer recommendations.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Sure, there’s always the equivalent of BET.

                My main belief, though, is that “copy what works” meets with different levels of enthusiasm for different kinds of projects.

                For a variety of reasons (including that it was creative trash), there was not much enthusiasm to try to replicate TBaA’s success. Hollywood people are people, too. A lot of what they do is intuitive, subject to all sorts of biases.Report

              • (And while I pick my common examples, there are all sorts of examples that are remarked upon: The lack of female-centric film despite its relative success. Similar claims are made about programming about minorities. A lot of this seems related, to me, to the fact that the decision-makers tend to be secular, urban, left-leaning white men.)Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

                Touched by an Angel was itself a more successful reimagining of Highway to Heaven.

                Right when Touched by an Angel went off the air was when a significant shift in the TV landscape was occuring. Premium cable was starting to come into its own, basic cable would shortly start it’s own original programing, and the L&O, CSI, and JAG/NCIS franchises were at the inflection point of their dominance of network TV.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Kolohe says:

                Right when Touched by an Angel went off the air was when a significant shift in the TV landscape was occuring. Premium cable was starting to come into its own, basic cable would shortly start it’s own original programing, and the L&O, CSI, and JAG/NCIS franchises were at the inflection point of their dominance of network TV.

                And, don’t forget, every TV network needed as much reality TV programming as humanly possible!

                Reality programs and police procedurals, 24/7, evenly interspersed across the broadcast dial. That would save broadcast from cable TV!Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

                “…family-friendly, Christian-compatible…”

                This is a curious phrase. What does it mean to be “Christian-compatible”?

                Would a show like “Everybody Loves Raymond” qualify? If not, how is it incompatible with Christianity? I think a better phrase would be explicitly Christian. Most family shows are at least superficially Christian… there is usually a Christmas episode and sometimes references to attending church. There isn’t much beyond that but to me that would be perfectly “compatible” with Christian folks: it doesn’t go against anything Christian.

                I have no objection to explicitly-Christian shows. I watched “Seventh Heaven” here and there growing up. It wasn’t anything special but it was good enough that it held my attention. At the time, I don’t think the Christianity stood out to me. But I tended to be aloof about that stuff. I watched most of Fox’s primetime lineup in the 90s and didn’t realize it was geared toward Blacks and Hispanics (though that might have been due to the fact that my town/school was predominantly Black and Hispanic so seeing those groups on TV wasn’t novel or noteworthy to me). It was actually only after reading a random Wikipedia article on “NY Undercover” that I realized, “Hey! That stuff wasn’t made for me!” And yet I ate it up. But now I’m on a tangent…

                Tangent to a tangent… kind of interesting that those shows came from the same parent company that brought us Fox News.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                Instead of seeing “Christian” as a religion, see it as an ideology. Then you can swap out other ideologies and see if the new sentences make sense.

                This is a curious phrase. What does it mean to be “feminist-compatible”?

                Would a show like “Everybody Loves Raymond” qualify? If not, how is it incompatible with Feminism? I think a better phrase would be explicitly Feminist. Most family shows are at least superficially Feminist… there is usually a pregnancy episode and sometimes references to buying birth control. There isn’t much beyond that but to me that would be perfectly “compatible” with Feminist folks: it doesn’t go against anything Feminist.


              • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

                This is a bit of a tangent, but it’s hard to explain how excited a lot of people were by The Simpsons and religion therein. Now, The Simpsons isn’t religious by a long-shot. It doesn’t have religious themes (for the most part). I don’t even think they mention what denomination they are.

                But they go to church. Church is a part of their lives, and their community’s life. And it’s there in a non-menacing presence, most of the time. It’s just… there. In their lives. Just like it’s in the viewers’ own life.

                Which is worth a lot more to a lot of people than “Main character has a dilemma so he talks to his childhood Catholic Priest to help him straighten it out.”

                It’s a very interesting dynamic.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                I came from a different corner, maybe. I got to watch the folks in my circle evolve from being firmly in the “President Bush is right!” opinion on the Simpsons into a “you know, they love each other, they’re still married, they *TRY* to be good parents for the most part” and watching that was interesting for me because I was firmly pro-Simpsons at the time.

                Now I think that the funniest Christian-adjacent jokes involve Ned Flanders being downright perfect (despite the world being imperfect) and I find that Reverend Lovejoy (and *ESPECIALLY* Mrs. Lovejoy) seem to exist in order for the writers to process their own Christian-adjacent upbringings.

                But I also admit to not having watched for years and years. Maybe things have changed since the mid-oughts.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’ll always love the sign on the church marquee after some natural disaster hit Springfield: “God Welcomes his Victims.”Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                Growing as a non-believer who was culturally aligned with jews i had much different view of tv shows. Christianity was the assumption, non-believers didn’t really exist and jews were mostly Woody Allen or other comedians. Seeing Christian’s on the screen was assumed as just the way things were. It wasn’t until the Moral Majority made it’s presence known that there was a serious differentiation between types of Protestant.

                Seeing a non-believer like “meat head” on all in the family was fresh and new even if he was just a “meathead.”Report

              • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                Christianity may have been assumed, but almost never shown. Rarely a part of the characters’ lives even in a perfunctory way. Rarely a part of the communities described, in the way it was for The Simpsons. It tended to get mentioned specifically when it wasn’t protestantism. Catholicism isn’t too unpopular with it. Jewishness… well sort it. It would more likely come up as a heritage than actual religious participation. Which is actually true of Catholicism as well, except the late night discussions with the childhood priests.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                Oh yeah it was rarely a major part of peoples lives, just the default assumption which is a lot less than nothing. It actually sort of powerful to be the default assumption even if expressed a bland generic sort of way. I don’t have any problem with Christian’s wanting entertainment that is My Kind of Christian loud and proud. But not getting that exact kind of show isn’t being left out. It’s just not being catered to specifically. Which is just like most groups.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                Different folks want different things, and some tastes are narrower than other tastes. I think the Hollywood decision-makers have their own tastes, their own projects that they are enthusiastic about or wary of. I don’t think this is reflected solely in the things that the left complains about.

                I should have just used female-centric projects. Using that to illustrate the dynamic seems to generate way less pushback. 🙂Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


                I am with Greg. Most characters are Christian in one way or another even if really secular. The only truly explicit Jewish characters I can think of are Seinfeld, Rhoda and her family, and two cops from Hill Street Blues.

                Ross and Monica from Friends coded as Jewish but I don’t recall them ever doing something like going to a Seder.

                Interestingly, Rugrats is one of the few shows I can think of that showed characters actually being religiously Jewish.Report

              • The “even if really secular” does a lot of heavy lifting here. As a secular Christian, I have no real complaints. I’m not really the one complaining. (Although, as it pertains to The Simpsons, it’s not even complaining. It’s seeing something and saying “Hey, it’s good to see this!”)Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Ross and Monica were revealed to be Eastern Orthodox in the episode where Monica married Chandler.Report

              • Arnold from Hey, Arnold! too. And two characters from Sports Night were religious enough to hold a seder at the office, though we only saw them date shiksas.

                Did you ever see the movie of Marjorie Morningstar? Gene Kelly played a Jew. What the hell were they thinking?Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

                Aren’t most American Christians Catholic? Well more might be protestant but if you slice Protestant into denomination, I think Catholic comes across as the single block.

                I would say most TV characters are secularish but celebrate Christmas.Report

              • Catholicism is the plurality, protestantism is the majority. For the most part, if you’re talking protestant, you don’t even really need to specify a denomination. As mentioned, The Simpson’s doesn’t. When they do, it’s Episcopalian. I approve! But yeah, we’re pretty dramatically overrepresented. But compared to Baptists, we’re safe (and also have the right aesthetics).

                As an aside, I don’t know what percentage of Jews are observant, but I do think they might have a valid beef. Off the top of my head I can think of only one really religious Jewish character in the shows I’ve watched. (Like, regular cast characters.)Report

              • Friday Night Lights, too. There are several churches, and each character goes to the one you’d expect (like the black characters at the black one), but pretty much everybody goes.Report

              • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:


                I’m not sure if you chose feminism at random, but my problem with Everybody loves Raymond is the female characters. In particular the wife (whose name escapes me now)

                I understand the mother, I laugh a lot with her, and I think her character actions make sense with who she is.

                The wife, not at all. I don’t know why they stay together. She doesn’t seem to love Raymond at all, and Raymond doesn’t seem to acknowledge her at all as a separate person. There’s this conflict going on that ne ver changes. She doesn’t move on from a disfunctional relationship, and he doesn’t grow up and become a proper husband. And it’s sad to watch.

                So I’d say Everybody Loves Raymond is a male chauvinistic pig writer’s idea of women being female dogs, and men ignoring their female dogginess (excuse my language)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to J_A says:

                Not really at random, more as an example of an umbrella term that was the first to come to mind as one that was obviously *NOT* a religion but could be compared to an ideology without a whole lot of friction.

                I’ve seen a grand total of *ONE* episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, and I was on a plane at the time, so I know little about the show. I was tempted to replace ELR with “Friends” but I figured “why change *TWO* variables?”

                Chandler/Phoebe is my OTP.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Joan of Arcadia is a recent example. Or I was going to say something to that effect until I realized that it got cancelled in 2005.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                Joan of Arcadia wasn’t really anything like Touched by an Angel, and certainly wasn’t aimed at the same people.

                They were both fantasies where God exists. That was basically the entire list of similarities.

                Note everyone has apparently failed to remember that Touched by an Angel had a spinoff called Promised Land, which was supposed to be very Seventh Heaven-y. It did last three seasons.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                I referenced, but did not name, Promised Land above. It was actually worse than Touched.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                I thought that Joan of Arcadia told a fairly interesting “God is subtle” story that, of course, had its thumb on the scale.

                In the same way that Touched by an Angel and Highway were. Well, they didn’t believe that God was particularly subtle… but they were big on thumb on the scale kinda thing.Report

              • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:

                Joan of Arcadia was one of my favorite shows, but I feel it was written by someone that had a big beef against organized religion. It was more “God doesn’t care about tabs and slots, or seven or two sacraments. The things you Christians care about don’t even register for God”.

                And since that more or less describes my religious beliefs, I loved the show. And hated that it was cancelled mid season leaving us in the middle of an unresolved conflictReport

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman says:

              @will-truman – If I remember right, Touched by an Angel was highly successful by pure numbers, but didn’t hit the right demos – basically, it was an old skewing show, even by CBS standards.

              As for 7th Heaven, the WB got collapsed into the CW and became the “hot 20-somethings in sci-fi shows” network.Report

              • “Target demographics” is one of the tools they use to justify making the stuff they want to make.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Looking at the actual numbers, Touched by an Angel should not have been cancelled. Demographic claims are bullshit, and have always been so. (The idea that every single show should fight over the same tiny demo is completely absurd.)

                OTOH, it was cancelled in 2006, the same point that every network was collapsing into a reality TV singularity. CBS needed somewhere to air those hit reality shows ‘Pirate Master’ and ‘Armed & Famous’, TV shows we still are aware of to this day! Mostly because we invented Wikipedia and someone wrote them down in it, probably from an old TV Guide.

                I joke. They had important dramas to replace Touched by Angel with, like Smith, the TV show that lasted three episodes, or its replacement, 3 lbs, the TV show that also lasted three episodes, or its replacement, Why Won’t Young People Watch CBS? We’re Young and Hip!, which lasted three episodes, and I suspect I made up.

                Meanwhile, looking at the actual numbers, Seventh Heaven really shouldn’t have made it more than three episodes on a real TV network, but it was on the WB.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                Moving Touched to a new timeslot and then citing “declining” (as opposed to “bad”) ratings was just classic.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                Moving Touched to a new timeslot and then citing “declining” (as opposed to “bad”) ratings was just classic.

                Yeah, who do they think they are, Fox?!

                Here’s the weird little secret, which your link only touched on: Advertisers have very little idea of what they’re doing. Seriously. They’re an industry that is like 60% flim-flam, 20% graphic and art design, and the remaining 20% is blatantly obviously ‘If you tell people about your stuff, they might buy it. So do that!’.

                And in the mid-00s, every networked decided to shoot itself in the foot by chasing demographics and deciding that they should be like 50% reality shows….*exactly* as the threat of the well-produced cable TV showed up, and streaming internet video became an obvious inevitability within the decade, instead of a pipe dream. Clever, guys. Real clever. Show us some more people eating bugs!

                Side note. For some reason, because I was being lazy on Wikipedia while seeing what CBS replaced Touched by an Angel with, I copied and pasted the name ‘Pirate Master’ and ‘Armed & Famous’ into my comment instead of typing them…

                …which was good, because when I was reading Wikipedia, and making my comment, I had read the latter thing as ‘Armed & Fabulous’, something I had *vaguely* heard of, like once, somewhere. Maybe someone said it when reading a schedule out, or I saw a TV bumper for it while watching. some other CBS show.

                But I just reread my own comment, and it was, of course, ‘Armed & *Famous*’, something I literally have never heard of at all.

                Armed & Fabulous turns out be the subtitle of Miss Congeniality 2, which I haven’t seen, but is probably where I vaguely heard that term. (It’s also a much better play on ‘Armed & Dangerous’ than Armed & Famous is.)

                CBS’s 2006 reality TV season: So forgettable I misread one of the shows as something else that I also didn’t remember.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                As for 7th Heaven, the WB got collapsed into the CW and became the “hot 20-somethings in sci-fi shows” network.

                Oh, they already were that.

                Since we’re talking about Seventh Heaven, let’s talk about the show I mentioned before…Buffy, Seventh Heaven’s evil twin.

                Born almost at the same time, *that* show’s concept would continue onward, with Smallville and (within rounding error) Supernatural(1), eventually hijacking sorta the entire WB.

                Then the merger would happen and make the CW, and the trend continued. In fact, the CW is finding itself in a bit of a pickle because it’s *supposed* to be somewhat balanced between Warner Brothers and Paramount produced TV shows….but every single CW hit is a Warner Brother’s produced show, of exactly the same template settled on back with Buffy. (It is entirely possible this is outdated, and there’s some new agreement, because looking it up, it appears that there are *no* Paramount produced TV shows on the CW, or any upcoming!)

                I.e., even with the WB merging into the CW, all those hit CW shows are really still WB shows of the same template. They’re still produced by Warner Brothers.

                Although they did tweak the template to not be *actual teenagers*, but instead 20-somethings, so it’s safer to sexualize them. And got more multi-cultural. Other than that, it’s exactly the same. (In fact, The Flash, oddly, started with *exactly the same characters* as Buffy, except the main character was gender-flipped.)

                1) Supernatural is a bit weird. It started as a show that pretended to be a Buffy clone, except they accidentally forgot to include a supporting cast. But then moved away from that…and now the characters are older, and the setup so weird, that you’d never really know it started off as ‘Buffy, except with two brothers that travel from town to town’ if you were to just watch it today.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                As an aside, The WB was an okay name. UPN was a good name. The CW is a terrible name.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

                Oh, and I forgot to mention the *other* tweak they tried of the format, aka, Dawson’s Creek, which was Buffy except *without* a superhero or mutant or alien or half-animal hybrid supersoldiers. (1)

                This modification worked very well, and circled though The O.C. and One Tree Hill. And it went bigenerational with Gilmore Girls, and probably some other stuff…this is getting outside my wheelhouse. Also something with Sex and The City but in high school? And 90210 is back, but CW-ized?

                And, somewhat surreally, the entire thing looped *all the way* around, they put vampires back *into* the format, and got the Vampire Diaries. Some sort of…hybrid vigor theory?

                The WB/CW is not a TV network. It is a series of controlled experiments based on modifying the parameters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and seeing which versions work as a TV show.

                1) I kid about the half-animal hybrid supersoldiers. That last one was Dark Angel, the Fox attempt at the WB formula that failed completely. (2)
                2) I kid again. The CW eventually got around to making a half-animal hybrid supersoldier show and called it Beauty and the Beast. (3)
                3) Nope, still kidding. Beauty and the Beast is, inexplicably, *not* the CW format (Despite me not kidding about the hybrid super-solder thing.), but is instead somehow a police procedural, probably by accident. Or perhaps this is the *next* mutation of the format…Report

  5. J_A says:

    I wish they had expanded the interracial couples study to include Asians and Hispanics.

    I have a big hunch that it would show similar reactions towards Asian/White and Hispanic/White couples as towards White/White ones. And that the reactions between Blacks and Asian or Hispanic couples would be similar to that towards Black/White ones

    My theory is that there are only two races in America: Black and Not Black.

    As new ethnic groups arrive: the Irish, the Chinese, the Southern Europeans, the Jewish, the Hispanics; the Not Blacks stand pause evaluating the new comers. After some decades, they get their Not-Black certificates and life moves on

    Katherine Graham recounts in her autobiography the discrimination Jews of his father’s generation, Eugene Meyer, suffered at the beginning of the XX century , even though Meyer was born rich, and just grew richer. 50 years later, that was mostly gone in America. Jews have fully joined the Not-Black club

    Today, Hispanics join white supremacist gangs in prisons ( ) (*) and George Zimmerman is a hero of the Alt-right.

    I’m not saying this Black/Not Black division is good. I think it’s terrible. But it’s data. Not addressing it as it is is just feelings about the data.

    And it’s very different in the USA than it is in Latin America or Europe. Which is another data point.

    (*) not a great link, but most others I found were two Alt-right for my taste. I was getting closer to Stormfront territory. Too many n-words for a family blog.Report

  6. notme says:

    Two days ago the State Dept. issued a travel warning for Iran.

    “Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran.

    Once the Iranians realized we would pay for hostages the threat become much worse.Report

  7. Oscar Gordon says:

    The poverty survey is interesting, especially this:

    Almost all those not in poverty (91 percent) and an overwhelming number of the poor (81 percent) support requiring poor people to seek work or participate in a training program in return for benefits.

    IIRC, such requirements were a big criticism of welfare reform.Report

    • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Who criticized the work requirements, Dems or Repubs?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to notme says:

        Again, IIRC, progressives were critical of work/education requirements. One scenario they envisioned was that a single mother on welfare would have a hard time meeting work or education requirements while caring for children. Which is a legitimate concern, for that scenario, but not a valid criticism of the requirement in general.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Work requirements for welfare are reasonable if you have tight employment markets. They’re pointless and cruel if you don’t. The widespread adoption of these measures significantly outlasted the employment situation of the ’90s, and a lot of the reasons for that are due to public policy decisions advocated by the same conservative activists and politicians who ensured their inclusion.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:


            I think you have that backward. A tight market would make work requirements cruel, as it would be tough to find any work.

            But that is why you don’t limit the requirement to just work, but also have an option to be in school, or be a volunteer.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              By “tight”, I mean the market for labor is tight, in that there are a lot of people who want to pay for labor and not a lot of people who will take money for labor. I.e., low unemployment.

              The alternatives aren’t necessarily a bad idea, though at a certain point you’re going to end up paying someone to volunteer and paying someone else to watch their kids. Maybe this is a better idea, but it sure isn’t obvious.

              I increasingly prefer just biting the bullet and having a universal basic income. Sadly, I think this is unlikely to become a politically feasible alternative in the foreseeable future.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    Re NE suburbs. Middletown CT is 2 hrs and 16 minutes to NYC and just under 2 hours to Boston. It is closer to Hartford, CT but Hartford does not have the same economic power as NYC or Boston. Maybe the insurance industry is still located around Hartford but that is about it.

    So I don’t really see these as suburbs but as older towns and cities that benefited from the days before the Internet and the universal shipping container. There really is not much for young professionals in these areas to do during their free time.

    A suburb that is closer to a major city (say an hour or less in terms of commuting) is still doing well because of raising families and good school districts.Report

  9. Will Truman says:

    Passive resistance, baby!


  10. veronica d says:

    Unconscious bias studies are really tricky. I wonder if this one will replicate?

    I dunno. It’s probably true.

    I’d love to see the gender break, like does black-man-white-woman give different results from white-man-black-woman, which I would predict. But who knows. The study is behind a paywall and the abstract does not say.Report

  11. Jaybird says:

    The vast majority of the essays on interracial couples that I’ve read happen to be from the perspective of white people.

    Occasionally, I read one from the perspective of People of Color and, my goodness, those people are so reactionary.Report

    • LTL FTC in reply to Jaybird says:

      Reactionary doesn’t begin to describe it. I like reading the comments on Salad Bowl (jezebel sub-blog) whenever interracial dating comes up. Every interracial couple is a personal affront against black womanhood and every white guy who would date them is a creepy fetishist almost by definition. It’s amazing how “stay in your lane” is so popular on fringe left and fringe right.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to LTL FTC says:


        OTOH, I have seen women denounced as “race traitors” by men in their own groups/ethnicity/race for dating someone who was outside the tribe so to speak. IIRC black women feel this pressure especially. It sort of sucks for Asian men because they are largely still seen as dweebs and uncool grinds while Asian women are seen as more with it and cool. Perhaps it is these double standards that hurt. The dominant interracial couple in the Bay Area seems to be white or whitish guy with an Asian girlfriend or wife. Everything else is a distant second.

        The tribal pull is strong. I’m Jewish. I am very proud of my Judaism and not in a kitchy-jokey Seth Rogan kind of way. I don’t even like Christmas very much. I find attempts to raise “interfaith” kids as folly because of the inherent theological strains and issues. To be Jewish is to reject the idea of Jesus as the Messiah, there is no way around this and Messianic Jews are basically Christians who do some Jewish ceremonies in a co-opting way in my eyes. Someone I know is a good Irish-American Roman Catholic. She married a Jewish guy. She is trying hard to raise their kids “interfaith” but those kids are almost certainly going to end up Catholic because the mom puts effort into religion, goes all out for Christmas, and the dad wears t-shirts that say “I am a Jew who loves Christmas.”

        It is a free country and he has the free rights to do as he pleases but it makes me sad that is relation to 5000 years of culture and history is to turn it into one big joke.Report

        • LTL FTC in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I’m Jewish and intermarried, and most of my interaction with organized Judiasm from college on was one long effort to try and get me to date and marry another Jewish person. Hillel, Shabbat Clusters, Birthright, on and on, were thinly-veiled efforts to push me towards a Jewish woman and put a drink in my hand. But being a (mostly) invisible minority who doesn’t have to live in the shtetl anymore made dating a numbers game that didn’t work in purity’s favor.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Eh, I’m Jewish and intermarried. So was my mom.

          I admit having a lot of hostility towards anti-intermarriage advocacy because the way it ended up being framed in the Hebrew school I attended made me feel like they were at least insulting the hell out of my mom, if not me. I suppose that’s another pitfall in trying to raise kids in an “interfaith” environment, but it certainly made my dad’s atheism look a hell of a lot more attractive.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to pillsy says:

            @pillsy @ltl-ftc

            That’s entirely fair. I grew up in an East Coast reform shul where the Rabbi refused to perform interfaith marriages because he feared (probably with some justification) that the kids would end up not-Jewish. The current West Coast shul I attend is much more interfaith and diverse. Then again, East Coast Reform seems to equal West Coast Conservative.

            I’m not growing more religious in a theological sense but am growing dismayed at how Judaism seems to get reduced to a kitschy joke more than Christianity or Islam. Jewish jokes are great and all but we can and should be more than a Seth Rogan, Adam Sandler, Broad City, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer routine.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The Yiddish scholar and Jewish nationalist Ruth Wisse actually wrote an anti-Jewish humor book called No Joke: The Meaning of Jewish Humor. She thinks that treating Jewishness as a kitschy joke is an inevitable part of Jews cultivating a self-image as nice, cultured intellectual types or as I call it the Cult of Jewish Weakness.Report

  12. dragonfrog says:

    A friend of Fledermaus’s was probably saved by her cat – she had some sort of serious internal bleeding (IIRC this was not long after she gave birth, but I might have mis-remembered that part), and became too weak to get out of the shower. The cat stayed by her, waking her up whenever she looked like she might pass out. When her roommate got home, the cat meowed in distress and brought the roommate into the bathroom – she never would have gone in otherwise of course, because the shower was running and you don’t intrude on your roommate having a shower, and by this point F’s friend was too weak even to call for help.Report

  13. Saul Degraw says:

    I need to issue a Mea Culpa. I used to claim that the alt-right was no big deal and only people who hung around the Internet too much knew about it. HRC is trying to hang the alt-right on Trump and the GOP:

    So I guess the alt-right made it. Unfortunately. Damn themReport

  14. DavidTC says:

    That homeless woman story is kinda dumb.

    I mean, it’s good she got it straightened out, but her idea that cashing the too-low checks was a bad idea was stupid, as was her decision to become homeless *instead* of doing that.

    I know the article claims that she called the 800 number and no one could tell her why the checks varied like they did…but that story does not actually make sense. There are no circumstances where the SSA are *supposed* to be sending random amounts like that, so surely that would have been some sort of indication to the staff that something was wrong, and to maybe escalate the issue.

    She seems to have some sort of mental difficulties.

    And the story seems to think she ‘proved’ social security owed her money. Uh, social security *knew* it owned her money. It had a bunch of checks to her that had been returned or bounced! It knew it owed her at least *that* money.

    I mean, again, clearly some sort of mental issues here, but lady, maybe if you hadn’t been random wandering briefcase-hauling homeless lady and instead, uh, at any point actually went to a SSA building, and presented ID, you could have had them change your mailing address to one of your kid’s address, and had them resend you what they *knew* they owed you…you could have had money to live on while trying to show them their math was clearly completely broken and they owed you even more.

    Hell, I’m not even sure she actually *did* prove anything. The article was acting like the issue of how much SS owed her hadn’t been resolved. It’s entirely possible the $99,999 it paid her….was money that the SS was trying to give her *this entire time*.Report