Linky Friday: Godly Pursuits

Will Truman

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

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162 Responses

  1. j r says:

    [F4] :

    That food hall article is the perfect example of hipster ethics. There are no real developed ideas about whether food halls are a bad idea or cause any kind of harm, just a whole lot of navel gazing about what it means to be the kind of person who goes to a food hall.

    Also, this is just dumb:

    What makes something a food court, and what makes it a food hall? One is the most discredited concept in 20th-century dining, while the other is the hottest new idea of the 21st…

    When someones says that food courts are discredited, that just tells me that they have not traveled much outside of the U.S. or did and failed to notice something fairly obvious. I’ve eaten great meals in food courts all over Asia and other parts of the world. It should be pretty obvious that these kinds of experiences, along with hawker centers in Malaysia and Singapore and street food in SE Asia and markets in Latin America and food trucks in the U.S, that are inspiring food halls. And all of those things are pretty good.Report

    • Murali in reply to j r says:

      This should become an iron rule of the internet: Hipsters are the worst.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to j r says:

      I dunno, it smacks of “trailer parks vs. tiny-home communities” to me. A Food Court is where the Great Unwashed eat, the people you’d expect to see on “People of Wal-Mart; a Food Hall is European and “discerning” and where people who have taste eat.

      Or something. I’m kind of getting tired of the slight tweaking of something that was middle-American and infra dig, its renaming, it’s price-elevation, and its adoption by right-thinking people. It’s gentrification of a sort, and the people who kept the food court in business before it became a Food Hall will be priced (or sneered) out of going there.

      That said, oh how I wish we had something like a food hall here. Except I’d probably be sneered out of it.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Yup. I have not previously heard of “food halls.” Upon reading the description, they are upscale food courts. I have no problem with that, but all the hand-wringing to make sure that we all understand that these are different from food courts is just silly. Simply say “upscale food court” and you have concisely and accurately conveyed what you are talking about.

        Then there is this:

        You’ve surely noticed that food halls are now everywhere. There are at least a few dozen of them in the United States…

        This is simply delicious in its cluelessness. We are told that about a third of the states do not have these. (Probably many more than a third, since it is likely that these are clustered in a few states.) Yet I have “surely noticed” the phenomenon, since clearly the writer’s personal experiences are universal.Report

        • Yet I have “surely noticed” the phenomenon, since clearly the writer’s personal experiences are universal.

          The assumption is that the people who would not have had so much as a chance to notice the phenomenon are not reading the article because they are working in a coal mine or bow hunting or some such.Report

        • there was a proto-version of one in Columbus, OH. I think a few of the larger cities, esp. ones with a big German population, had them before they were a Thing.

          And I’m sitting here going “Screw food halls, screw shade-grown artisinal coffee, screw biodynamic sprouted-grain bread, I just wish my town had a decent supermarket that wasn’t Wal-Mart.” Inequality of access!

          We’ll probably never get one because most everyone is broke here, and we’re small, but I wish we had a supermarket. Or at least a decent meat market or cheesemonger.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Maybe I’m the weird one, but do we really smirk at food courts? I see their “demise” primarily linked to the demise of malls, which is where they are/were primarily housed.

        But maybe that’s cuz I’m from Jersey.Report

        • DavidTC in reply to Kazzy says:

          Maybe I’m the weird one, but do we really smirk at food courts? I see their “demise” primarily linked to the demise of malls, which is where they are/were primarily housed.


          The concept of food courts being ‘discredited’ is gibberish. The places that food courts are most likely to be located at, malls, have been slowly vanishing, so obviously the amount of food courts that exist have gone down, but food courts weren’t ‘discredited’.

          This article is a bit akin to yammering about how ‘retail parking’ is ‘discredited’, because all the mall parking lots are empty. Uh, guys? That’s not a rejection of the parking.

          Are food courts even a ‘real thing’ we should care about? A food court is just an arrangement of food sellers with a shared eating area, located in a place with a lot of food traffic nearby. People will generally eat in them if they are at those places, and not eat at them if they are not.

          Food courts that are not in a mall (Which do exist. Many large office buildings have them, as do a lot of the transportation-based planned ‘shopping areas’. There’s a large one linked to several hotels and the subway in downtown Atlanta that half of DragonCon seems to eat at.) seem to be doing fine, as are ones that are located in the surviving and populated malls.

          What is the argument here? That food places will…reject the food court paradigm and migrate away from the shared space and set up large stores with space inside themselves?

          Nope. Surreally, this article is actually arguing that food courts are such a good idea that people have started making upscale versions of this to capture wealthier people….while pretending to argue that the entire concept of food courts is somehow ‘discredited’, like it’s bloodletting or something instead of just ‘Let’s build some food stores that share customer space and put them where people already are’, which is so obvious it barely even qualifies as a business strategy.Report

          • Murali in reply to DavidTC says:

            Wait, Malls are dying in america? Why? What have they been replaced with? Where do kids hang out nowadays?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

              A couple of things.

              Amazon Prime and Wal-Mart killed the whole “go to a store to buy a new pair of pants, sneakers, the new Stephen King novel, a gift for Mom (maybe a candle? she’s always burning those stinky candles when we come over… or maybe that soap she uses from the Bath and Body Works?), and check out Hot Topic for the latest snarky t-shirts” thing.

              The point of the mall was to ease the whole “browsing” thing, you could wander through a half-dozen shops looking for that thing for mom.

              Now you can see the “people who browsed this also browsed *THIS*” information which is much better.

              And if you have more time than money, you can get better prices at Wal-Mart than you can at the mall.

              On top of that, the PlayStation/Nintendo/Xbox killed the arcade. You want to feed $20 into an upright video game… or would you rather *BUY* the game *OUTRIGHT*?

              So people have Amazon and Wal-Mart for their shopping needs and home game systems for their arcade needs.

              Where do kids hang out?

            • Burt Likko in reply to Murali says:

              @jaybird is right on all counts. Teenagers don’t hang out at the mall anymore. Why should they? They can interact with friends and flirt with other teens and buy things and so on right there on their phones. Without the risk of embarrassment inherent in actual face-to-face contact or the bother of having to learn how to drive. My friends’ teenage kids are very much like this: they can flirt and text on their phones like no one’s business but clam up like shy introverts as soon as they have actual personal contact with a romantic candidate. What happens after they leave on their dates, I don’t know, obviously, but from what I’ve seen, it starts with a lot of silently looking at one anothers’ shoes.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to DavidTC says:

            I feel like airports still have food courts or food court-like areas.

            Reading Terminal Market (Philly) and Quincy Market (Boston) have existed as more upscale food courts for a while, though both have some elements that differentiate them a bit (namely non-food booths/stands as well). I don’t know that I’ve ever heard them called “food halls” but maybe they are nowadays to ride the trendy wave?Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

              More local examples…

              Denver’s 16th Street Mall — a tourist place that’s mostly restaurants and bars, not shopping — has two. Near one end is the old food court that does enormous business from 10:30-2:30 for lunch. It’s an interesting crowd — not uncommon to see, for example, two people in dirty coveralls at one table, and the Speaker of the Colorado House at the next table. At the other end of the street is Union Station, main hub for the light rail system. They call it a food court, but it’s closer to the food halls mentioned in the OP.Report

            • DavidTC in reply to Kazzy says:

              I feel like airports still have food courts or food court-like areas.

              I admit, I rarely fly, but in airports I know of, they have basically half of a food court. Instead of having a seating area for eating, they just expect you to take your food to the gate. And the food places tend to be spaced out and not together. (Admittedly, the airport I am most familiar with is Atlanta’s giant one. For all I know, smaller ones are generally different.)

              Which, I mean, is sorta halfway like a food court, but by that logic street food carts are like a food court also.

              Like I said, I don’t think food courts are ‘real’ in any sense. It’s just a term we’re using to describe a fairly obvious arrangement of fast food places that makes sense in certain places.

              It can’t life or die, it can’t be ‘discredited’, we will keep arranging fast food like that when it makes sense, and not do that when it doesn’t. Duh.

              The only dumb thing is that hipsters apparently think the concept is bogus or most heinous or something (I can’t be bothered to figure out how hipsters talk, so I have decided they talk like Bill and Ted.), and thus it is vitally important to rename it.

              I don’t know why we’re playing along with this, they’d probably visit a food court ‘ironically'(1) if we refused to rename it.

              Let’s just take a stand that, as society, we aren’t going rename something just because the term is, apparently, boring and uncool. An upscale food court is…an upscale food court. There you go. That’s the name. Or give each one a name, that’s fine.

              1) This is, of course, not possible. Situational irony (Which is presumably the sort of irony they mean.) requires a state of affairs opposite what one expect, and the premise seems to be ‘We are cool people, but we are doing this extremely uncool thing, which is totally unexpected! Situational irony!’. Uh…no. Neither of those things are true.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DavidTC says:

                Good point, re: airpots. Some definitely have an array of fast food places situated around common seating. Others are more like indoor strip malls, with a run of eateries ranging from grab-and-go to (supposedly) high end faire with full bars and private seating situated between gates.

                I’ve run the gamut… I’ve surfed the mall food court trying to fill up on free chicken teriyaki samples and I’ve spent more time and money than I can justify roaming Eataly in NYC. I won’t pretend the experiences identical but acting as if one has some sort of moral superiority to the other is silly.

                You mentioned food trucks which is another pet peave of mine. Not food trucks themselves. But the culture that often surrounds them vis a vis the diners. I remember traveling with a crew of friends one time and one guy kept insisting we go to the food trucks for a meal. I wasn’t opposed but I couldn’t understand his insistence. “The food! The food, man! Food trucks have the best food now!” Um. No. Food trucks have… food. With the same range of quality of any other type of food delivery mechanism. I mean, I suppose it is possible that the competition in a given area with regards to food trucks might drive slightly higher quality, but the notion that food delivered from a truck was better food than food available in a restaurant inherently was just silly. He wanted the experience of upscale food truck dining — which is fine, I don’t object to them by any means — but he was conflating the uniqueness of the visceral experience with the actual quality of the food which was silliness. And I say this as someone who has taken a guided tour of NYC food trucks!

                If you like feeling special because you goto a bunch of upscale, likely overpriced eateries arranged together… go for it. Whatever helps you sleep at night. But stop pretending it is something other than what it is… both in name and in actuality.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Kazzy says:

                If you like feeling special because you goto a bunch of upscale, likely overpriced eateries arranged together… go for it. Whatever helps you sleep at night. But stop pretending it is something other than what it is… both in name and in actuality.

                If you care about where you eat, you probably should go to an specific food seller, instead of The Hip Area that has a lot of food sellers that might be cool.

                I actually find that a bit weird. When I eat out, there are two ways I function. a) What is close to me that I like (In which case the easiest thing, if there is a food court nearby, to wander over to it and look.), or b) I really want to eat at a specific type of place, or a specific company, so let me go to the closest one of those.

                I’ve never been ‘Well, I like the sort of food that is at that distant food court, or the quality of the food, so I trek over to there and then pick what I will eat.’ That seems weird, the idea of a person going any significant distance to eat at ‘a food court’ without knowing where they are going to eat there. (Alone, that is. With groups, that makes sense, it allows different members to get different food but still eat together.)

                Granted, I’m rarely anywhere near a food court anyway.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DavidTC says:

                So many things go into food and meal choices, I’m reluctant to judge. But I will judge the judgers.Report

              • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

                But I will judge the judgers.

                Except, who exactly are the judgers in this case?

                There is this idea that the people who set up food halls or open stalls in food halls or who go to food halls are somehow engages in some exercise of detaching themselves from the commoners who go to food courts. If that were the case, it would be pretty stupid, but as far as I can tell that idea exists almost entirely in people’s imaginations. There is a snob for every activity that human beings can do, so I’m sure that these people exist somewhere. I just don’t see it as the drive behind the food hall trend.

                One of the most hyped food halls is being built by Anthony Bourdain. He doesn’t strike me as someone whose interest in food is driven by a desire to distance himself from the common folk. Quite the opposite. And as much as food choices are one of those areas that people choose to play out their class allegiances, the folks that work in kitchens tend to be pretty down to earth people.

                This food court v food hall stuff strikes me as almost entirely a media contrivance.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to j r says:

                This food court v food hall stuff strikes me as almost entirely a media contrivance.

                That is what I am starting to suspect.

                Rereading that article, I notice the claim, by developer, that food halls are ‘authentic’ vs. food courts, which apparently are not…which of course is an utterly stupid and meaningless claim, and probably the opposite of true. (If you are literally designing spaces to look raw and unfinished, we should probably think of that as less authentic than finishing the place like normal, not more!)

                And the sentence ‘Jaskiewicz says he was the first to come up with the idea to use a food hall to anchor a residential development, offering tenants the big-city equivalent of a dormitory cafeteria they can access without putting their boots on.’ is basically just one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

                That sentence really only makes sense if you emphasis the ‘dormitory cafeteria’ part of that, and ignore all the other sorts of ways that tenants often have food in the same building as them (restaurants, room service, ground floor retail establishments, standalone fast food places, etc, etc.) …except that food halls, of course, are not dormitory cafeterias, so that’s just really dumb. And plenty of residential developments have been attached to malls, which, uh, often do have food courts. And I’m sure at least a few of them do have things that pretty much are food courts, even if not called that, I just don’t really spend any time in condo buildings so do not know.

                The actual thing here is that people seem to be making food court areas that are not attached to malls, and thus giving them slightly different names. That…seems fine to me. In fact, it retroactively makes some of the places I have been calling ‘food courts’ into food halls.Report

              • Murali in reply to DavidTC says:

                ‘Jaskiewicz says he was the first to come up with the idea to use a food hall to anchor a residential development, offering tenants the big-city equivalent of a dormitory cafeteria they can access without putting their boots on.’ is basically just one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

                Jesus frickin christ, this is stupid. For lots of HDB blocks in singapore, the ground floors have hawker centres (which are basically food courts) And its been like that since the 60s.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Murali says:

                And costco’s been doing that at Microsoft for ages too…Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Murali says:

                Jesus frickin christ, this is stupid. For lots of HDB blocks in singapore, the ground floors have hawker centres (which are basically food courts) And its been like that since the 60s.

                There are a lot of tall buildings in the US that are designed with retail on the ground floor also, and obviously a lot of those stores are food…but those stores tend to face outward, towards street traffic, instead of being built around a central hall.

                So a lot of people in residential developments can go immediately downstairs and get food in the same building…they just have to walk outside and back in.

                Which is where, I suspect, the dumb comment about ‘without putting their boots on’ came from.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


                I do suppose my biggest error here was taking the author seriously.Report

              • Murali in reply to DavidTC says:

                Well, sometimes you get cravings right?

                The fried rice from that food court is much better than the one from the food court near me. So, if I’m feeling especially peckish for that fried rice, why can’t I go the extra distance for it?Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Murali says:

                No, that is what I understand. You want to go somewhere specific within the food court.

                I’m not following the idea of judging the food court as a whole, and going there (Unless it’s right where you already are, or are passing by.) without knowing what you are going to eat when you get there.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DavidTC says:

                Some people want French fries with their tacos. Or milkshakes with their orange chicken. A food court/hall allows such combinations.

                Beyond that practical rationale, some people get the warm fuzzies when they do something that feels specials. Why? I dunno… maybe they didn’t get enough hugs as a baby. Who cares?Report

              • Morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

                Our local mall has expanded a bit, with an interesting new business model. Instead of anchoring on a department store, they’ve anchored on “social” businesses — a Dave and Buster’s, one of those “we bring you food and beer” movie places (a nice one, with good prices), and an array of bars and restaurants — a mostly upscale.

                It’s more “mall adjacent” than “mall”, so it’s a bit weird. I don’t know how foot traffic is inside the mall proper, but that addition has been pretty busy.

                They’re clearly looking to experiment with open social spaces, with an array of attractions, clearly aimed at the above-21 crowd.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

      I don’t know how new it is, but the abuse of trendy language is increasingly annoying. A food hall is identical to a food court and anyone pretending otherwise is a jerk.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to j r says:

      I’m often at one of the “food halls” mentioned in F4, Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. Also took a walk through Milwaukee’s Public Market on my recent trip to visit family and found it similar, if smaller. Yes, they are crawling with hipsters. And yes, the food is not particularly inexpensive for “quick-service” fare. But the food is also of high quality. Yes, there is a uniform sort of industrial-chic aesthetic. So this is all accurate.

      What I regret about Grand Central Market is that the expansion of hipster-food places has displaced the grocers and butchers and fishmongers who used to take up most of the floor space. When I went to law school, it was about the only convenient place to get groceries in DTLA. So when I go, I still try to find good fresh fruit and vegetables, and for a meal, I get the carnitas from the same taqueria that I patronized there back in law school when it was a convenient place to get actual groceries.

      You know, back before the place was popular.Report

  2. Kolohe says:

    Ec5 – “the author has deleted this Medium story”

    Sp2 – poker scandal? Are you referring to the Baccarat thing? I’m almost certain we discussed that here, and Ivey is entirely correct and was robbed by the System.

    F4 – ain’t nothing more American than taking something that already exists and making it better, whether it’s food courts or roach coaches.Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    R1: The Baptists were ardent supporters of separation of religion and state for decades.

    R2: Judge Moore’s opinions are erroneous but was once a popular interpretation of the First Amendment. During the early 19th century, many Americans found the idea that Jews and Catholics would be able to practice their religion unacceptable. One of the things that really upset Americans about Chinese immigration were that they were “heathen” and that they could practice Daoism and Buddhism on Protestant soil.

    R3: It seems to me that really religious characters of any religion would make for some bad entertainment. Its going to be really hard to create a sympathetic very devote character and carry that devotion through out the show. They can’t have pre-marital sex, most non-sexual forms of romance are going to be strictly off limit, and a lot of other fun things like hang out in bars or go to the beach. This is because really religious people tend to spend a lot of non-work time being religious or doing good works hopefully. Orthodox Jews, especially Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, spend most of their time reading and debating the Talmud. Bible study classes in Evangelical churches aren’t going to be that exciting either.

    R5: Seems like a lot of the Jewish suburbs that exist in the North East.

    F2: Agreed.

    F3: If we can’t get kids to snort chocolate than how can we have them practice for cocaine when it comes back in style.

    F4: This seem really fun, nothing snotty about it.

    Sp2: Can’t we have a scandal involving lesbian nude poker?

    Sp5: Japanese baseball games are fun.

    Ed1: Its a reasonable concern. The current student loan system came about partially because conservatives were in a uproar about what was happening on campuses during the 1960s.

    Ed2: Compared to the matriculation exams in most other countries, the SATs are easy. The Arbiter, Matura, and Baccalaureate test more difficult subjects at a deeper level.

    H4: Suspect source.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

      R3: you could run a whole show focused on Jewish Women. (complete with allll the jokes about their goddamn worthless husbands who pray all day in the corner).Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

      R1: I remember being younger, not especially religious, and encountering my first real-live Baptist in an academic setting… greatly was I surprised at his vehement support of the separation clauses… lest the govt. ruin the church.

      R3: That’s just silly… you can’t conceive of a movie about virtue/vice in adherence to an ideal? Or basically every movie ever made?

      Sometimes I just can’t fathom where you Xennials get your notions.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        “If the government gives us something, we’ll get dependent on it! Then the government will keep us in line by threatening to take it away!”

        That’s a paraphrase of an argument I heard from time to time.

        Synchronicity between R1 and Ed1.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I surprised at his vehement support of the separation clauses… lest the govt. ruin the church.

        My standard example is that the Church of England tried to update its prayer book about a century ago. Parliament rejected it.Report

        • @richard-hershberger

          The Pre-Christian Roman Church also makes for some good examples too. Priesthoods were political appointments, Julius Caesar was appointed Pontifex Maximus (basically the precursor role to the Pope) for a time, and many other politically-important people were given religious roles even if they had little interest in religion, or even publicly doubted its truth.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          Thats only because the Church of England wanted to get rid of the prayer for the re-election of the local MP.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          @richard-hershberger On more reflection, I think this depends more on the religion. Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Churches seem very susceptible to government control when they are the sate religion but other religions do not. The Roman Catholic Church and Islamic clergy are pretty independent from the state even when they are the state religion. Its why anti-clericalism was a bigger thing in Catholic majority countries than Protestant majority countries. Many governments in Muslim majority countries also have an antagonistic relationship with at least some Islamic clergy even when Islam is the state religion.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Anti clericalism wasn’t as big a thing in Protestant majority countries, because almost by definition anti-clericalism had already ‘won’. (And the number of Protestant majority countries is pretty small until the post napoleonic era whittled down the Austrian empire and ended the HRE.)Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Marchmaine says:

        R3: Like I wrote to Richard bellow, I concede that really religious characters do work in dramatic epics like Silence or other serious movies. They work less well in slice of life comedies like the Big Sick or fun movies. I take the complaint to be about slice of life and fun movies.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Ned Flanders, in the Simpsons, tends to be an exception – at his best he is funny but also does seem to understand the whole Love Your Neighbor thing. (Disclaimer: I have not watched a new Simpsons episode in at least five years so they could have really screwed him up, recently)Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to LeeEsq says:

      The Baptists were ardent supporters of separation of religion and state for decades.

      Make that “centuries.” The early history of Baptists was a series of being run out of town on the rail by the civil authorities. They took that to heart and made separation of church and state a fundamental principle. Then for much of the 19th and early 20th century in many parts of the country the default White Protestant (aka “Real America) church was either Baptist or Methodist. This resulted in a balance of power that encouraged them to hold to the separation principle. It is only within the last thirty or forty years that this has changed. The Methodists drifted into the dreaded “mainline” status, throwing off the balance. Now in many parts of the country a Real American is Baptist by default, and they are feeling their oats. In reality Baptist numbers of falling, but that is a different discussion.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Bible study classes in Evangelical churches aren’t going to be that exciting either.

      When I was a kid, I had no idea why people would watch the Sunday Morning talking head shows. They were so very boring. Cartoons! Now that was where it was at.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to LeeEsq says:

      It seems to me that really religious characters of any religion would make for some bad entertainment. Its going to be really hard to create a sympathetic very devote character and carry that devotion through out the show.

      How about missionaries, back when that entailed real hardship and danger? There are issues of cultural balance, but the problem isn’t that their stories are boring.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        You mean like the recent adaptation of Silence. That does work. I take articles like R3 to be protesting the lack of really religious characters in everyday, slice of life movies like rom coms rather than in more dramatic epics. You can do dramatic epics with really religious characters. Slice of life genres are harder to pull off because of the limitations I mentioned in the response.

        The Big Sick would be a very different movie if the male protagonist came from a very traditional Muslim family and his mom wore a hijab and burka. Taking your blonde American lean in girlfriend home to meet the folks would be very different and not that cute in that scenario. A less devote and traditional Muslim family just adds a little variety and gimmick to what is basically a traditional romantic comedy.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Yes. But stupid gimmicks for Stupid Awards are still stupid.
          (Referencing more the Israeli/Palestinians in Europe romcom at our local Jfest).

          AKA Nadia had some very nice religious stuff going on (along with people on dogleashes, in one of the worst allegories ever), but that’s Israeli, not American.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Sorry friend, that’s not true either; the thing about [good] comedy is you have to know your subject… and for good Satire (i’d argue) you have to *love* your subject.

          Portlandia works because they love their subject… Armisen and Brownstein couldn’t do Vaticania… but someone could. Would anyone watch, or enough people watch? I don’t know…maybe that’s why those projects aren’t funded. Maybe.

          Jim Gaffigan is on the fence trying to bridge that gap with some success.Report

          • fillyjonk in reply to Marchmaine says:

            and for good Satire (i’d argue) you have to *love* your subject.

            I never thought if it this way before but yes, I think you are correct. (And that may be my distaste for the various Seth MacFarland cartoons; he seems not to like his characters very much, or perhaps, goes to great lengths, by and large, to make them unlikable.)Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Regrettably, I disagree.
            But to understand why, you’d have to play School Days.

            To know your subject is not necessarily to like them, Think of George Carlin.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Kimmi says:

              I’m sorry to hear that…

              But to understand why, you’d have to play School Days.

              …and now it seems you have burdened me with a life of always wondering… so close to knowing, yet cloaked forever behind anime. You come here just to torment me, don’t you?Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Dude! it’s a video game. A visual novel, to be precise.
                You don’t play video games??
                *yes, it’s translated.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Kimmi says:

                a video game based on an anime story? Is it on PC?

                [enlightenment peeks into view]

                Do you kill things in it? I’m sorry to say that I just looked at my steam catalogue and there’s not a single game where I don’t kill something; well, I or my minions…

                Does it count if I order other things to kill for me? It doesn’t if you’re President. But it does if you were a king. Not so much if you were a leftist dictator, but *definitely* if you were a rightist dictator. Which just goes to show that proxy killing is complicated.

                Hmmn, now that I think about it, maybe next lent I should give up virtual murder.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Marchmaine says:

                No, the anime is based on the video game.
                (This happens a lot, it’s not just final fantasy).

                People can die in the game, but… I’m not sure how many people you get to directly kill… it’s not that sort of game.

                You play as a high school guy, not one with a gun.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Re: R3. In addition to what Lee said, you’re very constrained in a seriously religiius character in that he must be unfailingly portrayed both accurately and particularly positively. She can’t be a jerk, fall guy, villain, dupe, clueless, the butr of the joke – comedy is right out – or you’ll be looking doen the barrel of a boycott the next morning.

      A secular character – outside of Kirk Cameron and Kevin Sorbo movies – will never be taken as flawed because they are secular. A religious character’s flaws will always be seen as part and parcel of their belief. No margin in it.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to El Muneco says:

        Yes, unless the writers are trying to make some sort of secular/atheist point about the hypocrisy of religion. Otherwise, any flaw in a religious character will be seen as a slight upon that particular religion. When your dealing with a religion that is primarily composed of racial minorities in the West, your getting an even tighter set of restrictions.Report

    • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:


      even your comment reflects, I don’t know, a lack of exposure to religious people. When I was in the army, lots of my muslim friends would pray five times a day. A lot of the muslims I know fast during Ramadan and abstain from pork. But, they still hang out, consume the same pop culture that everyone does. These people are different from the secularised muslims you find in hollywood (i.e. barely closeted atheists or at least people who are barely distinguishable from them). They are also different from the orthodox jews you talk about who obsess over theological fine points.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Murali says:

        We probably have Muslims like this in the United States but from the stand point of the average Hollywood scriptwriter, religious people are going to be those that are explicitly anti-pop culture in their life simply because that is what they know. The Muslims, Jews, and Christians they know are going to be very secular and not necessarily devote in their practices.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq says:

      It seems to me that really religious characters of any religion would make for some bad entertainment. Its going to be really hard to create a sympathetic very devote character and carry that devotion through out the show.

      It is very difficult to create a sympathetic character out of the sort of religious scold that the most vocal Christian groups like to pretend is how Christians behave.

      It’s pretty easy to create sympathetic religious characters when the religion is just part of their life instead of something that has to be mentioned in every single interaction they have with people.

      I know Christian media pretends that is how it should work, but that is as annoying in a work of fiction as it is in real life.

      They can’t have pre-marital sex, most non-sexual forms of romance are going to be strictly off limit, and a lot of other fun things like hang out in bars or go to the beach.

      …yes. Yes they can. None of those are actually incompatible with the actual practice of Christianity in this country. (And, as an aside I don’t really want to get into, the ‘no pre-marital sex’ is basically biblical fanon and not what the Bible actually says on that subject at all.)

      This is because really religious people tend to spend a lot of non-work time being religious or doing good works hopefully.

      As opposed the protagonists of most shows, who spend all their time doing eeeeevil.

      Wait, no.

      Orthodox Jews, especially Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, spend most of their time reading and debating the Talmud. Bible study classes in Evangelical churches aren’t going to be that exciting either.

      Neither is watching people sleep, and, yes, somehow, we managed to have TV shows that have characters that sleep a third of their life (Aka, most humans.), and, yet, somehow, the show manages not to show that.

      Plenty of TV shows barely show a character’s work, you know, and that’s a huge part of their day, and likewise there are plenty of work-based shows that barely depict a character’s homelife.

      And, of course, in the real world, almost all ‘religious’ people spend, oh, maybe 4 hours a week on religious stuff in public (Sunday morning and probably one evening.), and maybe a couple of hours praying and reading religious text.

      The idea that we somehow can’t find enough stuff to do to have a religiously devote person not doing religious stuff is just nonsense, unless your idea of ‘religious devout’ is ‘monk’.

      In fact, this entire idea that there are no religious people because they would be boring, is just nonsense.

      The reason that religious characters get mostly left out of TV shows is because moronic Christian groups organize boycotts over any character that is even vaguely suggested to be a good Christian, and yet has any flaw at all. (And all characters have flaws.)

      So the shows have to write the characters with the claim that they aren’t very good Christians. Nice job breaking things, morons.

      This is why, hilariously, on the shows I watch, the most immediate example I can think of a perfectly normal Christian character is on…Lucifer. (A show Christian groups were already boycotting.)

      Although I guess Daredevil qualifies, also. (Another shows that Christian groups already didn’t like, and originates in a comic.)Report

      • J_A in reply to DavidTC says:

        There’s a show that has real people being religious, aiming, but sometimes not meeting, to fulfill the requirements of their -real- faith.

        The Real O’Neals

        Somehow I doubt that the sympathetic way this Chicago Irish Catholic family is depicted will meet with the approval of those who want more religious characters on TVReport

      • J_A in reply to DavidTC says:

        The Good Place is (like Lucien) a show that focus on morality, on what is the right thing, and how to live a “good life”.

        I’m quite sure it’s been lambasted by Christian groups (who have not watched a single episode) because there’s no mention of the Abrahamic God anywhere in the Good Place.Report

  4. Doctor Jay says:

    R1 I’m on board with this in general. Deep into his Tweetstorm, Bourbaki says that only the first reason is cited in general discourse. That’s because the second reason is specifically Christian, and perhaps specific to some, if not all, strands of Christianity. Therefore it is not suitable for general discussion.

    It is possible, though not common these days, for someone to believe the Divine commands that they wipe out all but the One True Faith. Such a belief would not find a welcome home in the US. This is claimed about Islam, and it is true for some adherants, though certainly it is not universal.Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    R1: A very good essay but Russell Moore.

    R2: What Lee said. I still suspect that there are lots of people out there who think the United States is a White Christian nation and the rest of us are here on their good will alone and we best be quite and not too uppity.

    R3: To be fair, I don’t think a lot of religious people even want their religion depicted that much because it is boring. Officially the Ultra-Orthodox Jews usually don’t have TVs in their house but there is usually a hidden one that gets carted out after the kids go to bed and this is not to watch Rabbi talk. All the world enjoys titilation and we should stop expecting otherwise. Interestingly the West Wing had the most sincere practioners of religion (and multiple religions) out of any show that I have seen.

    R5: What Lee said, it seems that many cities in the Northeast and Plains have Jewish suburbs. Cleveland has Shaker Heights. Boston has Newton. NYC has multiple ones. As does DC (mainly in Maryland). Philadelphia has Cherry Hill.

    Sp2: I’m shocked, shocked that there would be a scandal in gambling. This is my shocked writing.

    F1: Yay

    F4: I think it is just that we respect food more and this leads to better and tastier options. Even the food court in the real mall in SF has decent food.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      R2- I don’t mind people who enjoy living in their Christian fantasy world, but when they acquire power & position sufficient to try & force the rest of us to populate their fantasy, those people scare me.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      R3: I would very much like to see devout Christian characters.

      It’s interesting, I’ve been listening to Andrew Klavan’s podcast recently. He’s an author of thrillers, a longtime conservative, and a new Christian. He was talking about the theory that, in order to write a good crime novel, you need a really good villain. He was saying that most authors write bad guys well, but write good guys one-dimensionally. He’d rather write a good guy with depth, with human inclinations toward good and bad. I haven’t seen or read True Crime, but he mentioned it as a crime story that revolves completely around the good guys.

      This makes sense to me. The most interesting conflicts are internal. You don’t have to create a psychologically-crippled anti-hero to depict a good guy who struggles with his impulses.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Pinky says:

        I think the West Wing did a good job of showing sincerely religious people of all faiths but when people complain about the lack of religion on TV, I don’t think they want Sorkin to be their Balm in Gilead.

        But on the West Wing, Bartlett took confession, Toby went to Shul on Shabbat. There were religious Protestants of mainline (Quakers!) and of Evangelical variety.

        TV, like all visual media, is always going to need to be pleasing and about spectacle. You are going to alienate more people with a pious Evangelist than attract. Same with a pious Haredi Jew.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Visual media needs to be eyecatching, sure.
          But you SAW how the Simpsons did “Homer falls asleep at the wheel”
          … surrealism is a good fit for religion.

          [Of course, I just got done reading a Russian piece where the Devil’s Cat shows up and talks Russian Philosophy, in a turn that makes the book surprisingly self-aware].

          In fact, the simpsons did a grand Homer Gets a Spiritual Visitor from Coyote of all people!!Report

        • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Occam’s Razor would suggest that the people who complain about the lack of religion on TV never watched The West Wing.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to Pinky says:

            Sorkin in general, I think. The Nebbish on Sports Night was a sincere Jew, and the rest of the cast, including the Brash Atheist, were respectful.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          “You are going to alienate more people with a pious Evangelist than attract.”

          Given the proliferation of TV and streaming, a show doesn’t have to appeal to the majority to be successful. The Big Bang Theory brought in 2% of the US population on an average first airing, and it was the biggest sitcom of the past year. That said, the majority of the US is Christian, and a decent percentage of that is regularly practicing. More than 10x as many people self-identify as Evangelical than watch The Big Bang Theory.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Pinky says:

            You know what I found insufferable and alienating?

            The West Wing. Talk about a holier than thou preach fest of boring day to day life of sanctimonious asses.

            But maybe I didn’t watch it right.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Marchmaine says:

              I really liked A Few Good Men. The lawyers talked like hyperintense lawyers. The soldiers talked like soldiers, sometimes…but sometimes they talked like hyperintense lawyers. I had no interest in watching any of Sorkin’s shows. Anyway, as I recall, the first episode of The West Wing featured the liberal president explaining theology to a pro-lifer, and I couldn’t see that as boding well.Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to Pinky says:

                the first episode of The West Wing featured the liberal president explaining theology to a pro-lifer, and I couldn’t see that as boding well.

                Are you using “liberal” to imply secular: at least agnostic if not atheist? Because this is not accurate. Lots of liberals are interested in theology, and lots of theologians are liberals. Indeed, that latter part is so true that vast swaths of conservative Christianity are deeply suspicious of theology as a discipline. It turns out that studying the subject seriously is a good way to turn a conservative Christian into a liberal Christian. Safer to memorize the approved snippets of scripture and repeat them as the situation demands.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                The problem is not that it depicted a liberal talking about theology. The problem is that neither Sorkin nor Sheen is capable of neutrality.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Pinky says:

                I thought Sheen’s potrayal (and later Jimmy Smits*) of a liberal observant Roman Catholic was very fair

                *there’s a throwaway line of Santos in the Al Smith dinner episode that puts him in a theological and political position identical to real world Tim Kaine.Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to Kolohe says:

                This. By way of background, I have a relative who would, during the previous papacy, refuse to contribute to “Peter’s pence,” instead putting in a note saying “No money for the Nazi Pope”.

                People tend to forget that liberal Catholicism exists. I has had to keep its head down during the last two papacies, and the American episcopacy still isn’t sympathetic. But it is there, if you know where to look.

                Of course people forget liberal Catholicism exists for the same reason that they forget liberal Protestantism exists. The Christian Right has for the past forty years been shouting that Christian=Republican, and many non-Christians have come to believe this false witness.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                That’s the second time you’ve made that accusation on this thread, and I don’t think it stands up to scrutiny.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                JPII only went after Liberation Theologists and other Marxists, and there were always very few of those in the USA.

                Bob Casey Sr, for instance, was no shrinking violet in his day. His son is more or less running with the same ideas today.

                The visibility of liberal Catholics in the US political arena has declined because of a generational shift in USA, wherein views on abortion are a part but not the whole of it.

                (Non hispanic white Catholics got rich & suburban, many left the church, those that are still liberal either have a heterodox view on abortion or keep quiet about it)Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    Ed1: I suspect that Freddie is right. I also suspect that whatever is coming could have been prevented. I hope that the university system has some muscle over there. They’re going to need it.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      On the plus side, the threat of losing access to the dough could finally provide some genuine motivation to undercut the far left fever that some higher ed institutions have been suffering under.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        What was the definition of “tenure” that we were using the other day?

        A tenured appointment is an indefinite appointment that can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances such as financial exigency or program discontinuation.

        Financial exigency.


        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yes, though in many cases I’d say the problems are more administrative. It’d be pretty easy to make room for genuine conservative views on campus without firing any professors but the Admin would need to want to. Money, especially existential amounts of money, would definitely make them want to.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

        The rhetoric coming from these places suggests that this won’t be the case. It’ll be more along the lines of “revenues and enrollment are falling because of attacks from conservative religious bigots! Quickly, denounce them harder!Report

        • North in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Yes that’d work fine for the problems they face -now- but if conservatives go after student lending or other core pillars of university funding the green eyeshade level people who’re mostly content to let the left wing loons loon it up will suddenly have existential reasons not to let that sentiment rule the day.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      Time for one of my standard comments…

      Almost all states are overextended in terms of the services they are expected to provide relative to the political limits on their tax rates and revenues. Of the Big Six spending categories that consume the vast majority of their General Funds, higher ed has the fewest protections. Based on post-WWII statistics, we are overdue for a recession, which will hurt state revenues and increase demand for state services. Higher ed will take a substantial hit just on the basis of fiscal reality, even without other sorts of political opposition.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

        If you’re able to hold up kids and point out “these kids are getting degrees in math, science, and social work that benefits orphans who are learning math and science”, you can probably help protect your university from the worst cuts or, barring that, horn your way to the front of the line when the seven years of famine are over.

        Being appropriately sympathetic is an exceptionally important trait to have.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Given that if all of the above comes true, and I have no reason to doubt that, I would guess that outside of core competencies such as the sciences and engineering, anything that politically goes against the grain will be the first on the block. Justification will be the name of the game.Report

      • fillyjonk in reply to Michael Cain says:

        We’ve tried to keep costs under control at my uni, but in the time I’ve been here, state support has gone from somewhere in the high 30 percents to about 20 percent.

        But yes, I understand that if the choice is, I don’t know, not being able to pay corrections officers vs. closing a few universities, that’s a pretty easy choice. And we may get there one of these days. Already there are lots of agencies in my state that are complaining they can’t function, and they need more money, and higher ed is seen as a frippery. We’ve had big budget cuts and we saw furlough days in 2016. The monetary hit was not nearly as bad for me as the morale hit – I am now genuinely scared I won’t have a job until retirement, which was my original plan. There’s only so much blood that can be squoze from a stone, and I am fearful (to the point of taking on classes I really would rather not teach) of being RIFfed.

        I don’t know how much to listen to the “higher ed bubble” people or not.

        We DO serve a lower SES populace – something like 35% of our grads are first-gen college graduates.

        The thing is, though, there’s some shocking myopia in some areas. There is a push in the gen-ed classes to go to “online contents” and “online homework” for which the student MUST pay an additional $100 or more per semester, just for access. (With textbooks, there are workarounds: we have loaner textbooks on reserve in the library and I have done quiet, under-the-table loans of extra copies to people really struggling. Or students can share a book and both chip in for it, but you can’t do that for online access).

        And yet, on the other hand, they’re shaming anyone who complains about not having received a pay raise in 10 years with “Yeah, well, a lot of our students come from families making $25,000 or less in a year” and yet they push all this edu-faddery that costs a LOT of money to the student – and that’s only for one-semester access.

        I am not brave enough – as I said, I fear RIFs are coming, and you don’t want to peeve off the “wrong” admin – to call someone on that, but it grinds my gears every time someone does that, on one hand talks about how impoverished our students are (so we as faculty should be content with the low budget we get) and then on the other is like “Oh, we can ask them to buy “clickers” so they can do in-class quizzes!” on the other.

        I don’t know. I literally could teach with a chalkboard and chalk and my voice if I had to, and would be content with that (and pretty much do it, in my stats class).

        But I confess, in my darker moments, I really fear winding up sitting on a highway off-ramp with a cardboard “Will teach t-tests for food” sign.Report

  7. Kimmi says:

    F4: How utterly provincial and uninspiring.
    I’ve eaten at one of these “Food Halls”, but it’s absolutely nothing like as described.
    For one thing, it is a decent place to eat, nestled in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, which means that there’s tons of people doing tons of things.
    For a second, it’s designed as an incubator, which means that the restaurants change, and the whole “hey, there’s good stuff here” stays kinda fresh and new.

    I like no-service dining, I like places where I go there to get food.

    And there’s TONS of handwringing in the article about Public Markets. Got news for them: Public Markets (farmers markets) are hot stuff around here. Of course, all the “local food” jazz means they’re seasonal (as opposed to the older Public Markets, which were year round and tend to serve more consistent stuff).Report

  8. Damon says:

    [F2] Anti science lobby? Christ. No it’s not. It’s an industry lobby. Science has NOTHING to do with it. But what would you expect from a guy from “Center for Science in the Public Interest”. And frankly, I fail to understand why the WHO is spending time on this. We pay for these idiots to tell us what to eat? They should go suck a lemon.

    [F3]: No officer, that’s snortable white chocolate, not cocaine.

    [F4]: Best comment on slate was this: “I’ll take a pretentious “food hall” with foodie millennials eating locally sourced artisinal whatever over the pretentious food court at our local upscale mall, which is swarming with annoying Pilates moms in yoga pants toting designer handbags and their precious offspring in SUV sized strollers.” Sorry bub, but I’ll take any place with “hot moms” in tight yoga pants over some hipster food court.

    [F5] “A candy bar could be made of 100-percent organic, gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients, but it’s still a candy bar.” Duh. But if consumers don’t bother reading the label, is it going to matter?

    [Sp4] It’s not “leftist media” that’s to blame. It’s media. Most of them just happen to be leftists. But no media boldly displays their screw ups and retractions.

    [Ed1] We can only hope.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Damon says:

      Yes, of course we do. Dietary guidelines are a part of World Health.
      (And such guidelines are part of what guide hospitals in what they feed you, when you’re sick or malnourished).
      This isn’t the main thrust of what the WHO does, but an analysis that says “Hey! Processed Meats kinda suck” is an analysis that can help to explain why American rates of stomach cancer have plummeted over the 20th century.

      And it’s an industry lobby that is deliberately lying about what science has to say. This is very, very different from the “Red Apple Conspiracy” (erm, if you really want me to explain that, I will).Report

  9. Michael Cain says:

    H4: States where this is true are in technical violation of the federal Medicaid law and should not receive the federal dollars. (The law requires that states’ reimbursement levels and punctuality be such that Medicaid clients’ access to health care providers be as good as that of people with private insurance.) HHS has never seriously enforced this, as the alternative is for states to greatly restrict eligibility.Report

  10. Aaron David says:

    F4 – Its a food court, just with different tastes. What is killing me is the current(?) trend toward cafeteria style restaurants. If I am going out for a nice (expensive) meal the last thing I want to do is stand in line and pay before i get my food. What if I want a cup of coffee afterwords? Desert, or not? That and the modern restaurant design, all hard flat surfaces, makes having a conversation very difficult.

    Ed1 – I think Freddie is on to something here. Missou is a good example of what happens when uni politics go against the grain of state politics.

    R3 – There is an Elmore Leonard novel, Touch, that is essentially a bunch of ironic characters, typical Leonard villains and such, surrounding one existential character, a man who can heal by touch. A good read but very different that his usually fare.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Aaron David says:

      Ed1 – Uni politics almost always go against the grain of state politics, even when the state is highly liberal. The trick is figuring out the line between straightforward intellectual disagreement & the political side feeling like the Uni has gone rabid and is trying to bite the hand that feeds it. If you are close to the line & funding is threatened or pulled, politicians might suffer, but if the Uni is full out past the line…Report

  11. Burt Likko says:

    Pretty sure Will put [R2] in there just to bait me, as Roy Moore is pretty much the incarnate antithesis of all that I find good and desirable about American law and culture. But I’m not going to fall for your little game, Will Truman, oh no!

    Instead, my thoughts go to [R3]. Now, I’m not a religious person myself, but I know lots of religious people and in my youth I tried to behave religiously in the hopes of inducing belief (fake it until you make it) so as to please my ancestors. Didn’t take, but it did give me some experience. That experience was that religious activity seems to take the form of things like prayer, meditation, introspection, and reading.

    Movies and television are inherently visual media; they use images and dialogue and action to tell stories. The kinds of things that people do when they are engaged in religious experiences, seeking guidance from God, and so on, are in a visual sense static. It’s hard for a screenwriter to convey a religious experience without
    doing something that will break the tone of solemnity* appropriate to what the character is going through, unless you do what really seems to happen all the time — a long still shot of the character looking contemplative and serious, which is pretty close to “dead time” in a visual medium. The viewer has to imagine what is going on in the character’s mind (and soul) because outwardly, next to nothing is happening.

    The best it gets, as far as I can tell, is depicting a character participating in a religious ritual. Coming-of-age ceremonies like bar mitzvahs and confirmations, weddings, last rites, funerals, Christian baptisims, and within Christianity, Roman Catholic confessions are situations where a screenwriter can show both physical action and insert dialogue. The confession is a particularly good narrative device, it seems to me, because the character offers a glimpse into his or her own perceptions of his or her own flaws and misdeeds. Many of the other rituals are generally large social events as well as religious activities, but a screenwriter can depict these in a variety of different ways, depending on the need of the story.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that narration generally revolves around some kind of emotional change in the protagonist, which is usually either catalyzes by or mirrored against the protagonist’s conflict with the antagonist. We’re used to the depiction of religion in this sort of context as an emotional or behaviorial restraint, in part because this is a common experience in real life. Obvious example: a person feels a desire for sex, but religion instructs abstention. Religion is also a narrative proxy for morality, and a narrative proxy for dominant cultural norms. Because narrations revolve around the protagonist’s emotional transformation, it is very easy to use the cultural and moral restraints baked in to religion as a symbol of the antagonist, if not to use them directly as the antagonist. So narration will very often depict a protagonist rebelling against or disobeying religious authority.

    Note that this does not necessarily mean the narration depicts the religious authority as bad, or that the protagonist achieves victory by succeeding in this rebellion against religion. The protagonist may well find that the authority figure was right all along and achieve victory by choosing to conform. But I suspect that there are pressures baked in to the needs of having a narrative at all, and other pressures baked in to the need to tell a story visually, that will make these kinds of emotional journeys the exception rather than the norm.

    * For instance, you could show a character praying, asking God a question, and then cast a comedian as God, have God appear with low-budget special effects and crack jokes while dialoguing with the character. That sort of thing might be appropriate in a comedy or a farce, but that’s not really what the article is aimed at — the article wrestles with sincere depictions of religious characters and experiences.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Easy mode for religious depiction: A funeral.

      Everybody is quiet excepting the religious leader who gives a loaded speech talking about whatever the theme of the movie is going to be (are people going to be killing each other? Talk about justice! Are they going to be having sex? Talk about how we’re only here a short time! Are they going to be yelling at each other? Talk about forgiveness!)Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

      You aren’t familiar with dancing as a form of religious ecstasy?
      Quakers, Shakers?
      Speaking in tongues?
      (Actually, Carnivale did that in spades, and it was AWESOME)Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Kimmi says:

        I admit that this did not occur to me when I was writing my comment. Most of the depictions of religious dancing that I can recall portray the dance either as exotically primitive or as somehow crazed. Neither strike me as particularly positive portrayals of dance as religious experience.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I don’t know whether you have ever seen it @burt-likko , but the film True Confessions does a pretty good job of it, mostly by contrasting brothers, one a police detective, the other a priest being groomed for the cardinalship(?) of LA. De Niro and Duvall. Concerns the moral questions of both characters in their rise to the stations they occupy. Also the Black Dahlia.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko says:

      And it’s not just “religious ritual” in general. The confession is a narrative device, but it’s also a visual shorthand for a specific sort of action. Not just “I’m unburdening my soul to a wise counselor”; there are the connotations of mechanism that appear in everything truly Catholic. It’s like going to a doctor, except for your soul. You go see this guy, and he does the thing, and it fixes the problem that you’ve got. Say two Hail Marys and call me in the morning.

      Obviously there’s a little more depth to it than that–like, you are presumably telling the truth about things you believe you’ve done wrong–but it’s more than just a big heavy conversation with a wise counselor about some shit that you’ve got going on. Like, you might talk to your buddy about any sort of thing, but if you go into a confession booth and talk to a priest there’s a very specific thing that’s supposed to be happening there.Report

      • Pinky in reply to DensityDuck says:

        I’ve noticed the scene in the confessional being used for non-confessional purposes, like confrontations with the priest. I’m thinking of The Practice, The Shield, and Angel off the top of my head. It’s heavy with symbolism – the character confronting a God figure – but I can’t call it religious. There are also scenes where the confessor is being manipulative, confessing crimes to keep the priest from testifying. I think I’ve seen that on Law & Order SVU and a Hitchcock movie.Report

        • trumwill in reply to Pinky says:

          What was the confrontation in The Shield? I’m drawing a blank.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Pinky says:

          “I’ve noticed the scene in the confessional being used for non-confessional purposes, like confrontations with the priest.”

          Even there, though, the scene gains power from the subversion of the purpose. Again, it’s not just that you’re talking to someone–it’s a ritual, and breaking the ritual has a power on its own.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I honestly don’t know why all you folks think that Religious action is somehow liturgical or purely internal spiritual contemplation? Its weird, like you have some sort of Blind Side.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I saw that movie and never once related the family’s adoption of the young man to their religion. If there was some linkage in the narration I never picked up on it.

        A nice movie, and nice to know it’s a mostly-true story.Report

  12. Kimmi says:

    R3: Americans. There are fewer religious, and thus fewer religious on TV. Thing people miss — there were NEVER religion on Television. Depiction of church was frowned upon. Simpsons was the first, pretty much, to show people in Actual Church, rather than just leaving and coming. (This may have had to do with Don’t Funny The Church mentality).Report

  13. Kimmi says:

    Yes, yes, sitcom writers are idiots in the main. Hire better writers, and everybody gets a backstory!!
    And a fun one too!
    You think a minor character in Gortimer Gibbons doesn’t have a backstory?
    Of course they do, and sometimes it shows up, and sometimes it doesn’t.
    But they’ve all got backstories. All of them.

    It’s what caring writers do for their characters.Report

  14. Oscar Gordon says:

    Ed5 – I’ve used both and I just found the TI series to be more user-friendly. That doesn’t justify the cost, however.

    IIRC one of the ways TI became the norm in schools is that they often donated TI calculators to schools, or offered them at a steep discount. My HS had a batch of TI-82s it got for a song, and anyone taking pre-calc would be issued one for the semester. So of course we learned how to use them, and when you got to college, you of course bought one (I got a TI-89, still have it, I think), because you knew how to use it.

    Couple that with working their way into the Texas school curriculum…Report

    • As mentioned in the article, but not with the proper perspective, is that TI had a software emulation early on. An enormous piece of marketing leverage through the people who are stuck teaching “calculator”.

      Our local community college has, or at least had, an active “lease a TI calculator for a semester” program for students who have to have one for that one basic stats course. The lease price is less than the price to purchase a Casio.

      Resistance to the much superior tools available for your smart phone — eg, access to Mathematica Online — is largely based on those devices also being general purpose text storage and access engines. A semester’s worth of notes, formulas, etc can be easily stored and searched there. “But my phone is my calculator!” is not considered a sufficient reason to allow phones to be available during exams.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Oh yeah, I did that. I had a math prof that would allow Ti series calcs, but no notes. Either he didn’t know, or didn’t care, that you could store a fricken book in those things if you were so inclined. And that is even before we talk about being able to write programs for them.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I had the delightful teacher who banned TIs, except for the kid who was actually writing programs on his (he was using Calc 3 to do Calc 1, so I think the teacher thought he was putting in enough original thought to keep the calculator.)Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          My first math prof in college immediately banned graphing calculators and told everybody to go out and by an $8 scientific calculator for all of the exams. Graphing calculators are perfectly OK teaching tools (at least they were before decent math software was broadly available for computers and phones–they’re kind of stupid now), but there’s not much in a calculus or differential equations class that requires them for actual problem solving.

          The ability to store and manipulate matrices makes them useful on stats or linear algebra exams, but that’s about it as far as I can tell. If you want a good teaching tool, there are plenty of better software packages with easier input than a stupid calculator. If you want something for most exams that don’t involve manipulating big tables of data, a plain scientific calc works fine.

          The fact that we’re so infected with specific brands of graphing calculators that students are still paying a gajillion dollars for a microcontroller that a smart watch company wouldn’t be caught dead using is depressing. It might be more useful and cheaper to teach kids to use an abacus. At least that teaches you tricks for arithmetic in your head.Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          My wife did have on professor in grad school (VLSI design class, I think) that allowed graphing calculators on exams and explicitly said you could put whatever notes and programs you wanted in there, so I wrote a program that took in a netlist and did the Euler’s path calculation to produce a nice stick diagram for some of the nastier layout problems.

          I have to admit that was useful and not very hard to do with the TI C compiler. But still. These things are mostly silly.Report

  15. dragonfrog says:

    [H1] Frigging pharmaceutical companies wonder why nobody trusts them.

    $4500 for two doses of naloxone, FFS? Here in Alberta, they’re literally giving the stuff away – you go to a clinic or pharmacy, say you’d like a naloxone kit, you get a ten minute how-to-use-naloxone explanation, and you receive a naloxone kit at no cost. The one I got has three doses.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to dragonfrog says:

      But it also says that there are generic versions available for $40 and $75. Either the $4500 version is so much better as to be worth the extra $4460, or it isn’t, in which case why do we care?Report

      • Like the EpiPen, what you’re paying thousands of dollars for is a patented approved delivery mechanism, not the drug itself. The patent(s) will eventually expire. As I understand the FDA approval, though, someone who wants to manufacture their own injection system, using the then-public-domain patent information, has to have their actual design approved, their parts supply chain approved, their manufacturing line approved, as well as any future changes they make in any of those.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Ah, I see. Kaleo Pharma’s $4500-for-two item is a “handheld talking auto-injector” called ‘Evzio’.

          So I guess you’re paying $4460 to not have to learn how to use a vial and syringe?Report

          • Morat20 in reply to dragonfrog says:

            I know for stuff like Epipens, the auto-injector is there for a reason — it’s normally needed in an emergency, and the idea is a never-fail device that can inject the required dosage in completely inexpert and panicky hands, through clothes. It doesn’t cost 200+ per pen (in fact, IIRC, medicine and manufacture is under 5 bucks per pen).

            Which is why the new generic version is also an autoinjector.Report

            • fillyjonk in reply to Morat20 says:

              I think there’s also a non-zero probability that someone who is not the patient may wind up doing the injecting. I would not like it to be on my head to draw up the correct dosage and administer a hypodermic (when I never have before) if a student goes into anaphylaxis out in the field.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to fillyjonk says:

                The only reason my allergist let us get away with pre-filled syringes (for those doing allergy shots — you know, the folks who weren’t at daily risk of massive reactions) was that, if we were going to have a reaction, it’d be in the 20 minutes we have to wait in the office after an injection.

                An office filled with nurses and doctor’s who could administer a shot of epinephrine in their sleep.

                I only had to be dosed once — and that was prophylactic, during my initial “rush” treatment — they couldn’t get me fully non-reactive at the end, and they weren’t sending me home until I was non-reactive.

                I suspect under emergency conditions you don’t notice the side effects, but when you’re just feeling a bit headachy and flushed, it’s freaking weird. (Given the stew of chemicals in my blood, my body reacting enough for pink cheeks was a sign I was right on the edge of anaphylaxis).Report

              • fillyjonk in reply to Morat20 says:

                Yeah, I used to do allergy shots and I remember the drag of having to wait 20 minutes to be sure there was no reaction. (I never had one other than the most superficial skin stuff)

                Now that I’m on beta blockers, though, I’m not allowed to get allergy shots. Apparently it’s really hard to bring someone out of anaphylaxis when they’re on a beta blocker. (Which is something I try really, really hard not to think about, and I gave up peanut butter when one batch of it made me wonder, “Could I be developing an allergy?”)Report

              • Kimmi in reply to fillyjonk says:

                more than likely, you’re just allergic to rathair or ratshit.
                (That’s what bothers my husband about low-grade peanut butter).
                … which doesn’t mean “go eat peanut butter now”Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to Morat20 says:

              Ah, the naloxone kits they’re giving out here (or at least, the one in my backpack) are not in any way automatic. They consist of:

              – three empty hypodermic syringes, packaged so that their plungers stay withdrawn to a certain depth
              – three vials of naloxone
              – three alcohol swabs
              – an instruction booklet

              The recipient of the kit is instructed to inject the air into the vial, draw up the medication, swab the injection site, inject the medication, then provide artificial respiration and repeat the dose if the patient doesn’t start breathing on their own in 2-3 minutes.Report

  16. Oscar Gordon says:

    Ec1 & Ec2- So very related. My wife’s whole department is going to be moving to Mesa, AZ in about a year (we’ll probably be tagging along for a year while my wife gets the new location fully staffed and functional). One of the reasons they are moving is because Mesa, AZ is about 30% cheaper than Seattle, but the other is that her group can’t keep new employees because Amazon, Google, etc keep poaching them with significantly better pay, and more ‘exciting’ opportunities and environment, and the Lazy B doesn’t want to pay more or restructure the environment.

    So poaching is an issue, but what Idaho is doing is a contributing factor to wage stagnation in this country. The laws exist to protect IP from following talent around, but companies are lazy and don’t want to have to enforce those laws. Enforcing non-competes, while it may be good in a sense, is harmful in other, less obvious ways (i.e. ways that don’t obviously appear on balance sheets), like discouraging all but the desperate talent away, and by preventing, as Ridley puts it, ideas from having sex (the cross pollination of raw ideas, rather than the specific implementations that IP is supposed to protect). Companies are so afraid of ideas getting out of their control that it’s not uncommon for professional conferences to only be attended by people from government, university, or ‘safe people’ from corporations (long term, loyal, careful employees who won’t share too much and who won’t be tempted to jump ship).Report

    • Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      If I heard that a company had a habit of regularly suing its rank-and-file tech people over non-competes or IP agreements, there’s zero chance I’d roll the dice by applying there.

      I’m pretty scrupulous about adhering to NDAs but being on the right side of the law doesn’t keep you from getting sued. And noncompetes are evil. I feel like it’s up to those of us who have enough freedom not to give in to bullies’ demands to do it on behalf of those who don’t can’t.Report

  17. Kolohe says:

    One finds a lot of religiously observant people in Chuck Lorre sitcoms. Sheldon’s family is explicitly fundementalist, but portrayed sympathetically. (I imagine that’s going to continue in the spinoff) “Mom” uses the specific brand of AA rehab as an ongoing plot device, and AA rehab is overtly religious (to the real world annoyance of some that have been required to use their services).Report

  18. DensityDuck says:

    If demand is increasing, why don’t other manufacturers start their own production (or the first manufacturer bring other plants on-line, or convert existing lines)?

    Oh, right, because the FDA won’t allow it.

    Somehow this is the fault of market capitalism, I’m sure.Report

  19. Kolohe says:

    It’s also integral to the plot that some Game of Thrones characters are very religious, and some are not. And yet others pretend.Report

  20. Aaron David says:

    Thinking more about the religious in entertainment, two things jump out at me. Aziz Ansari in Master of None seemingly portrays Muslims in a variety of lights, from verging on secular, eats pork and what not, to very religious but still fun (going to basketball games). And Duvalls The Apostle is great at showing the human struggles of a very devout man.

    Novel wise, both Waugh and Greene went to great lengths to showcase catholicism and its adherents struggles.Report

  21. Jason says:

    I really liked A Few Good Men.The lawyers talked like hyperintense lawyers.The soldiers talked like soldiers, sometimes…but sometimes they talked like hyperintense lawyers.I had no interest in watching any of Sorkin’s shows.Anyway, as I recall, the first episode of The West Wing featured the liberal president explaining theology to a pro-lifer, and I couldn’t see that as boding well.

    Most of the people weren’t soldiers; they were marines. And they didn’t talk like marines. That movie, while entertaining, is hilariously inaccurate.

    oops–missed the reply chain–sorryReport

  22. Jaybird says:

    A fun conspiracy theory for you for the weekend.

    Open up Firefox (this won’t work if you’re using IE).

    Go to Google Sky.

    See at the bottom where it says “constellations”? Click that.
    Find Virgo. Click that.
    See the little + and – in the bottom right? Click on the – until you get a big view of the sky. Maybe twice.
    See the thing that says “infrared” up there in the upper right? Click that.
    You’ve now got a view of the night sky in infrared. See the sine wave? See the large “cracks” in the sky where they have to correct for the errors of turning a dome into a flat screen?

    Now look at Virgo again. Press the + button again. Huh. Google blacked something out. Go in more. Press + twice more.

    Yep. That’s not one of the big correction gaps near the sine wave. That’s something being covered up.


    Anyway, that’s a fun rabbit hole to run down.Report

  23. Will Truman says:

    Is there an echo in here?Report