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AvatarComments by pillsy in reply to Andrew Donaldson*

On “Churches In the Hands of an Angry God

Also the consequences are usually a hell of a lot closer to “being told off on Twitter” than “being burned at the stake”.

And the way the metaphor is set up it’s not really limited to statements about physical facts. So you get it coming down on people making statements about moral or ethical matters that others find repugnant.

And at a certain point the question really becomes, “What’s the alternative?”

On “No, Google Did Not Steal The Election

No idea.

Of course, even there you're only within a stone's throw what with the existence of more than bad post hoc inferences like the ones Michael Siegel described.

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I suppose if someone believed that Russian meddling influenced a ton of votes, you would be within a stone's throw of a reasonable point.

On “The Hedgehog Who Won

It's so awesome that we have you and Trump to tell us stupid Jews what our interests are.

On “Censored By YouTube!

Maybe they think Cars was a documentary.

On “Breaking Bad: Picard

"Code of Honor" is the worst, but the one where the preview promised that they were going to confront the Romulans but the episode was about some 20th century asshole from Earth with a guitar, or the one where Wesley is gonna be executed for tripping over some flowers, or the one where Tasha Yar dies for no particularly sensible reason, or the one....

OK. Season 1 was really bad.

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Yeah that's an amazing moment from an amazing episode.

On “Saturday Morning Gaming: God Of War Completed

Did you do the optional Valkyrie fights?

Because beating the last one was perhaps the most awesome, "Holy shit I actually pulled that off!" experience I've ever had with a video game.

On “Breaking Bad: Picard

It wasn't great writing but it is, nonetheless, a misstep in one of first season's few decent episodes.

On “Ben Shapiro Works Those Feelings

I would be extremely interested to read such a post. I am only vaguely familiar with Distributism, but at some point I stumbled over this quote about socialism from GK Chesterton and it's always stuck with me:

"In short, people decided that it was impossible to achieve any of the good of Socialism, but they comforted themselves by achieving all the bad."

On “This One Really Hurts

It's a vicious cycle.

Look, you would have to be blind to observe that rich, powerful, famous people actually have an immense ability to avoid negative consequences for their actions, and the consequences they suffer are... the kind of consequences people who aren't rich, powerful, and famous suffer all the time through absolutely no fault of their own, like losing their jobs.

Franken, who was mentioned elsethread lost his job, which is a bummer, but this hasn't hurt his reputation nearly as much as you'd expect because a lot of people don't believe he did something wrong, or that he got a raw deal, or whatever.

I'm not saying those people are 100% wrong about Franken, but a lot of people get pretty raw deals in life. Much, much rawer ones than, "Lose your incredibly exclusive and cushy job but retain a ton of supporters and even non-supporters who just think you got screwed."

When and if celebrities really do finally have their sins catch up with them, like they did with Bill Cosby, they've been skating for so long that they've got a long trail of monstrous crimes behind them.

This degree of impunity is noticeable. Really noticeable because the people who get it are famous before they get caught so much of the time.

It makes people angry and feel with no small degree of justification that the world is out of balance. They want something to be done. And that something is often making the laws have to be stricter and the punishments harsher.

And because the issue with rich, powerful, famous people is that they are insulated from the consequences of flouting the laws, it doesn't actually right the observed wrong. But man does it chew up a lot of people who aren't rich, powerful, and famous.

And the cycle repeats.

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I wouldn't blame all of it on Bill Clinton, but despite my political perspective I would blame a whole lot more than none of it on Bill Clinton.

I also think there's this thing where we have such short (and ever shortening) news cycles that if you can just hold out for long enough, you will end up being almost entirely forgotten, and chances are your transgressions will end up being almost entirely forgotten too.

And the nature of viral outrages is that the amount of anger is... loosely correlated with the severity of the bad conduct, which leaves a ton of room for people to make excuses and rationalize away wrongdoing, making the actual demonstration of repentance and improvement all the more optional.

On “Ben Shapiro Works Those Feelings

Eh, look, we seem to be racing to turn our world into the one from Minority Report as quickly as possible, so I assume I'll be able to get some conservative eye transplants soon, but until then...

...I think the part where our implicit and maybe not entirely conscious assumptions clash with someone like MBD's is probably the interesting part and the part that really is worth considering happening both ways.

On “Breaking Bad: Picard

I believe the Ewoks were totally fine after the Death Star blew up, but I'm not sure I believe any of those poor people made it through the first winter back on Earth.

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I genuinely started liking Trek better when I realized that from the outside looking in, Star Fleet and the Federation must be absolutely terrifying.

Like most of the time the vast majority of them are totally absorbed in their own incredibly safe and comfortable world, like the people from Wall-E[1], but if you actually threaten them they will engineer a plague that will wipe out your species unless you surrender.

Which is something they've done on the show.

Twice.

[1] A movie where an adorable trash compactor falls in love with an iPod, and they team up to destroy utopia because the people living in it are fat.

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Or Warp Factor 5, after that dumb episode where they discovered that going Warp Factor 6 was tearing up the fabric of spacetime and they had to stop in order to satisfy the Space EPA.

Actually, I don't think there even was a Space EPA. They just all decided to stop in order to be good space citizens, which was completely in character for a civilization that accidentally built a planetbuster weapon because they wanted to be able to landscape entire planets in a few hours.

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Because you can only do so much to keep writers from writing stories.

Also, I think, Wesley's status as an actual kid let him behave more obnoxiously, and adults around him react more sharply, without undermining the weird idea that utopia would be free of arguments.

And, you know, living in a world where nobody ever gets mad seems like another thing that would cause you to get in a giant can with some barely contained antimatter, flout the laws of physics, and get the hell away at Warp Factor 6.

Or Warp Factor 5, after that dumb episode where they discovered that going Warp Factor 6 was tearing up the fabric of spacetime and they had to stop in order to satisfy the Space EPA.

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This is a great piece.

I'm a bit younger than you, so my introduction to Trek correlates with different life events and stages, but I loved TOS, which was in syndication when I would get home from school.[1] I even started reading the novels because I wanted more of it.[2] So when I learned that there was a new Trek show coming out I was extremely excited.

And then I watched it. The two hour pilot episode, "Encounter of Farpoint", was... pretty boring really, though Q seemed kind of cool. And the rest of the first season had a couple watchable episodes[3], but was, on balance, extremely bad. I remember that one the episodes, "Code of Honor", was preempted by news coverage about a baby who had fallen down a well [4] and I was really mad about that at the time. But that episode, it turned out when I was able to watch it some years later, is just fucking incredibly bad. Even if you look past the part where it's what pops up when you google "star trek tng episode racist" [5] it's just pointlessly bad, also really sexist, and... features exactly this plot:

In a world full of replicators and self-cleaning ships, angst over whether you can get to a planet in time to drop off supplies in time to stop a plague feels phony and manufactured.

What I'm saying is that Baby Jessica did me a favor by falling into that well. (She ended up being fine! They rescued her and she's all grown up with kids of her own now!)

That was a lot of words to say that TNG kinda turned my off Star Trek after that. It definitely got better after the first two seasons, and I would watch it occasionally and caught some of the standout episodes when I did, but it went from something that I would get really upset about missing to something I wouldn't even remember was on half the time.

DS9 was better, though it didn't really hook me in until it was in syndication when I was in grad school. But in a way, because the characters were allowed to conflict with each other and the writing was generally better and the stakes were higher, the unreality of the setting is even more glaring.

Of course, being an obsessive nerd I couldn't just let it go and enjoy the show, but I also liked the show so I had to figure out what was going on! What kind of society builds a thousand starships, crewed by probably a million sapient beings, watches them get blown up by temporal anomalies, bored godlike aliens, the Borg, the Dominion, and maybe the Klingons during a periodic breakdown in diplomatic relations, and builds a thousand more starships and sends a million more of their best and brightest out to die horribly?

A society with unlimited energy and resources. A society spread across hundreds of worlds and which has citizens that likely number in the trillions.

And who is going to crew those starships? Absolute fucking lunatics, that who. The literal one in a million thrill-seekers, adrenaline junkies, sociopaths, egomaniacs, and basically suicidal folks who decide that they want to step out of a life of almost unimaginable wealth, throw on a red shirt, and get turned into a styrofoam icosahedron by Cthulhu in a skin suit.

Who are the kind of people who would bring their kids with them to a photon torpedo fight. Or decide that, Prime Directive or no Prime Directive, it's actually an amazingly good idea to teach a plant full of aliens how to be literal Nazis complete with swastika arm bands.

Does this make sense? I dunno. Maybe.

But it means that I would watch the hell out of one of the highest functioning loonies in the galaxy getting old, returning to a safe, luxurious, rich, and utterly boring Earth, and trying not to go even crazier.

[1] Followed by Magnum, PI, another show which I contend was great and remains great. It's kind of hokey but it was kind of hokey when I was in third grade too.

[2] Most are not good but there are a couple exceptions. In particular, John M. Ford's How Much for Just the Planet? is hilarious.

[3] Including one where Picard and Riker make a guy's head explode by shooting him with their phasers, which was admittedly the coolest thing I had ever seen on TV at that age.

[4] And I'm not saying you should because it was really racist to the point that the cast members describe it as, e.g., "a racist piece of shit".

On “This One Really Hurts

Sure. If he were sued for harassment, a pretty high probability of him being innocent of the underlying charges wouldn't preclude him losing. The jury would have to conclude that it was more likely than not that he did it.

And this isn't that. Both in terms of the actual underlying interests at stake and what happened.

The other thing is that there were other allegations. That tends to suggest that yeah, he was engaging in highly inappropriate behavior there, too, and also those other allegations themselves would have gotten a lot more attention and could well have held up.

So we'd have somewhat more certainty and he might have been expelled anyway. Over a Senate seat which he did resign from, no matter how much political pressure he was under to do so.

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The basic process... kind of wasn't really a basic process?

I'm ambivalent about this, TBH.

Going through the Senate Ethics Committee would have been better, and what limited precedent we have suggests that it would have had real consequences (by which I mean kicking him out of the Senate) if the allegations held up.

But it was still an inherently political process, he did choose to resign rather than fight (in part because of the politics for the rest of the party) and while it's probably wrong to tar the Senate with the incredibly horrible way the House had been handling sexual harassment allegations... it would also be inevitable.

So less than perfect, but not a horrible injustice as these things go.

On “Ben Shapiro Works Those Feelings

Two things jumped out at me.[1] First was this:

In turn this led Oren Cass, a former Romney adviser and author of The Once and Future Worker, to respond, “It’s remarkable, the instinct to defend a labor market drifting toward service work for the rich. As I keep saying, the left-of-center won’t be vindicator of workers’ interests, its platform will be built around upper-class priorities and redistribution.”

This seems to depend on some... very non-obvious meaning of at least one of "workers' interests", "upper-class priorities", or, "redistribution".

It's also not remotely obvious why I should be sure this is a bad plan. Not like an amazingly awesome utopian ideal, just a workable compromise that can improve over the status quo without anything too crazy happening.

Next there's this:

There’s also the worry that the new service economy is a bad deal for middle-class and working-class men who are already in crisis. Being told you’re fired by an app seems like a recipe for alienation and discontent. The fact is, America’s trade, economic, and labor policies do shape the kind of work that is becoming available in America, and the work shapes the people who do it, their family life, and their politics.

Total record scratch moment. Why men in particular? Especially since it's not 100% clear that it's actually men who are in crisis?[2]

Maybe this is a case of reading through liberal eyes, but seeing random counter-intuitive assumptions about men in crisis creep is... extremely reminiscent of people having particular nostalgic attachments to certain kinds of work like making widgets in factories.

[1] In both cases, the emphasis is mine.

[2] ISTR that the major climb in death rates is among non-urban white women, for one thing.

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The monetary costs are low (often zero), it's easy, to the point of sometimes taking a small amount of effort to avoid, and it's mildly entertaining most of the time.

IOW, it's exactly the kind of thing people do too much of.

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