Morning Ed: Society {2017.01.05.F}

[So1] What if Dr Phil isn’t actually making people better. He wrote one of those “getting your life together” books that I actually found quite helpful for a time, but hard to argue that his show is helping anyone.

[So2] Alexi Sargeant is kind of creeped out by cinema’s resurrection of the dead. I am just not feeling it. The inevitable buddy flick with Humphrey Bogart and Matt Damon gonna be lit.

[So3] I am a firm believer that we need more vacations that involve doing nothing. Maybe a cabin in the woods?

[So4] Elissa Strauss explains why kids are attracted to the “fascism” of Paw Patrol & Thomas the Tank Engine. The problem is that when you define fascism this way… it doesn’t look so bad.

[So5] Complaints about the Empire Strikes Back.

[So6] Adam Ozimek uses Star Wars to argue that art is best left to corporations.

[So7] Rick Webb gives a mea culpa over his Internet utopianism. The issues he talks about here are confronted every day on Twitter, of course, as well as regularly here at Ordinary Times and at pretty much any active venue. {More}

[So8] Robin Hanson says that norms should be automatic, and explores the implications of that.

[So9] In The Federalist, S F Kistler laments the loss of communities and neighborliness. We’ve never really had close neighborly relations except in the rural west. Which as an asocial soul I tend to be okay with.

[So0]


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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17 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2017.01.05.F}

  1. So4: When it comes to Paw Patrol, I’m more concerned that the town of Adventure Bay seems to have outsourced ALL of it’s public safety services to a 12 year old and his pack of hounds (Also, can we talk about how the kid is an Engineering prodigy with a disturbing amount of financial resources?).

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  2. So1: I’ve never liked Dr.Phil or any other similar show.

    So3: Some of those places seem very fun and good. They are all on the expensive side. There is a BBC show on Netflix about the behind-the-scenes at some of the world’s most expensive/unique hotels and one episode is dedicated to FOGO Island.

    So6: I’m not buying the pitch. I don’t necessarily think art is out there to be a crowd pleaser despite what the corporation-subserviants want.

    So9: This is one of those strange areas where there is probably some overlap between the left and the right but the left and the right have very different ideas on who is to blame and what are the solutions.

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  3. So9: This is the bog standard complaint, showing no sense either of why the old standards of neighborliness have disappeared or how people compensate.

    For the first, the usual answers are good ones: air conditioning and television, and more recently the internet. It turns out that back in the day, people were sitting on their front porches sipping lemonade and chatting with their neighbors because it was unbearably hot inside and there was nothing much to do in there anyway. Inside they went as soon as they had something better in there. We don’t know our neighbors because we only see them in passing. This is one reason I like snow. All the guys come out to shovel at about the same time, and we talk and help each other out.

    As for how to compensate, neighborhoods are an involuntary association, at least mostly. People, it turns out, prefer to choose who they associate with. There are plenty of voluntary associations, not even counting the virtual world: churches, hobby groups, and so forth. The only one the OP mentions is the senior center, which she treats dismissively. This, I think, brings us to the diagnosis of her problem: She expects her social circle to come to her rather than going out and finding it.

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    • If you live in the suburbs and spend a considerable amount of time outside, there’s a good chance you’ll get to know your neighbors. I’m a nerdy weirdo with a major shy streak, and I am quite friendly with my neighbors because we’re both out with our dogs at the same time.

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  4. Also I wonder how you would define doing nothing. The Bavarian resort and the place in Tennessee sounded really interesting to me but neither were exactly doing nothing. The Bavarian resort strives to be a culture vulture’s vacation. Does going to concerts and lectures and performances count as doing nothing?

    The Tennessee resort sounded like a foodie’s vacation. They probably also have workshops and classes for foodies.

    These are all in remote locations as opposed to the bustle of the cities but it is hardly doing nothing. Doing nothing is when I bum around my apartment all day.

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    • I totally get the idea of a vacation doing nothing, though as you point out this is necessarily for some value of “nothing.” My big vacation every year is the extended family getting together for a week in a rented house on one of the New Jersey barrier islands. We split the cooking and cleaning, and there is the ritual visit to the lighthouse at the end of the island (important to my kids partly because they cherish tradition and partly because this tradition includes ice cream). But mostly it is a few hours each day on the beach and a lot of just hanging out together. One week of this is great: it leaves us wanting more. I suspect that two weeks would leave us wanting less.

      What I have less sympathy for is a vacation of doing nothing, but doing nothing in a pretentious way, like those “tiny houses” in the woods.

      And yeah, a lot of those “doing nothing” vacations are actually packages with all the activities planned by someone else.

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  5. So
    Yes, you are correct.
    As a liberal of conservative disposition her essay touched me.

    She is caught in that dilemma common to conservatives where they long for a world of enforced norms, as she puts it, of “caring and sharing”. Yet we do have such a world and conservatives like Erick Erickson despise it, bitterly complaining that “You will be forced to care”.

    Because you see, the beneficiaries of all this caring and sharing are the sort of people that Erick and Mrs. Kistler don’t really like.

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  6. I’m not appreciating the notion that a winter vacation of “doing nothing” has to involve going somewhere cold. How about going to a beach and hanging out with the snow birds? Seinfeld did that once and he knows a thing or two about doing nothing.

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  7. So4: What a refreshing break from the avalanche of mainstream sources that are oblivious to child development yet want to wax on about it. My school works with Tovah Klein so I’m a bit biased, but this article largely gets it. Young kids’ brains are wired for black-and-white, fit-things-in-the-box concepts. So, yes, media that is appealing to them can be maddening to parents. But you can also challenge their natural worldviews and lay the foundation for more nuanced understandings down the road with careful conversations about what they are currently enjoying.

    But it’s much more fun to just vent on social media. Maybe we should let kids write rants on such parental weird habits…

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