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AvatarComments by gabriel conroy

On “Covid Nostalgia

I may have the option to return to my worksite next week, but it won't be required. However, layoffs are coming (probably) and if I can't go to work, I might not keep my job. Or I might. Even if I do or can return, it would be for only one day a week.

People seem to do a goodish job here at wearing mask, though it's not everyone.

(I'm blogging right now because I have the day off. Otherwise, I don't blog during work time.)

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I'm afraid you, and Jaybird, are right.

I'm not so much saying the worst is over, although maybe my OP implies that. To be clear, I'm not 100% sure I know what I'm saying.

On “The Shark Still Works: 45 Years of Jaws

Oddly, I don't remember the head or the scene with the blood you captured on the picture in your OP. I do remember the one shark they caught with the license plate in its stomach, though. I also remember Roy Scheider telling his son to play in the lagoon (or cove, or whatever it was) because it was safer, but that was where the shark showed up (if I recall correctly).

I don't know when I first saw Jaws. I've never seen it in the theaters. I've seen it several times on TV, but not sure how old I was, how edited for TV it was, or whether I watched the whole thing the first couple times I saw it.

I have watched it at least a few times straight through, after renting it.

On “Saying Something Important: The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot

Thanks for writing this review, Kristin. I'll put it on my list....which means I might actually watch it eventually. [ETA: that probably sounded facetious. All I meant was, I have a lot of movies on my list to watch, and I watch only a fraction of them. But this one seems good.]

I do think that many, many of us--myself especially included--are not nearly as immune to fascism as we/I would like to think. I've been pondering that truth about myself of late.

On “100 Favorite Films To Recommend Part 10: The 2010s

I had read the books as an adolescent (b. early 1970s) and found them good, but no big deal. I saw that movies, and they rekindled my interest in the books.

Now, I think the movies haven't aged well, even though I thoroughly enjoyed them in the theaters. I agree with what people have said about the battle scenes. They were also emphasized too much, in my opinion. The point of the books, as I read them, wasn't the battles for the most part.

For tie-in's with 9/11: For all I know, maybe production started even before 9/11. However, the speech about "don't be so quick to deal out death in judgement" resonated to me as a comment on GWB's talk about "evildoers" and the War on Terror. Again, though, that might have been my reading into it.

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Thanks for doing this series. I really enjoyed it.

On “It’s Just Property

Good point about landlords, etc. (although I know nothing about the DC situation).

On “NASCAR Bans Confederate Flags

If that's the only outcome, it would be disappointing, and arguably even a defeat. But it would still be an improvement--not a complete improvement and not an improvement without some bad effects, but on balance an improvement.

On “It’s Just Property

This is what happened after every other riot.

Not necessarily, or not in anything like a timely fashion. If you had visited the west side of Chicago (near Madison and Western), say, 15 years ago, you'd find it still hadn't recovered much from the 1968 riots (and, let's not forget, the police violence in the area...that's roughly the location where Fred Hampton was murdered).

Now, at least pre-2020 riots, there was some serious rebuilding. I don't know how or whether that neighborhood was affected by the rioting.

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In my corner of the world it wasn't quite so clear. Not that I really know the facts, and the "facts" I do know are news reports from the day(s) of the rioting that are probably at least a little wrong.

Even so, I assume and believe that the vast majority of the protesters disapprove of the rioting and that it's unfair to tarnish all the protests by claiming they're the same as rioting.

I have no informed opinion about whether the (peaceful) protests now are counterproductive. They likely are in some ways and not in others. The trick is to discern the balance. And for that I'd need more information.

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Thanks for writing this, Kristin. To your question,

What will happen to the people in those neighborhoods in Minneapolis and Chicago who already have nowhere to go for food and medicine?

we saw the answer in Big City. The pharmacies closed. And some people (mostly very poor people) in some neighborhoods had no where to get their medicine. True, the pharmacies seem to have reopened (mine was closed for only one day, but my neighborhood is pretty affluent and was mostly untouched by the riots). But there was probably a week where some people just couldn't get what they needed.

I'll also add to this:

Assholes who destroy a family-owned franchise store aren’t striking a blow against a nameless, faceless corporation, they’re destroying what a family has built over the course of their lives.

Even if it is a corporation, that corporation also means jobs, many of which go to otherwise marginalized persons. That corporation (CVS, Walgreens) is also, often, the source for medicine or food.

One thing that gives me pause is the argument that we (i.e., white people like me) shouldn't presume to tell people who've been oppressed like African Americans have how to protest their oppression. Ultimately, I say we don't have--in fact, we have a duty not to--forbear discerning right and wrong (and along with Chip, I say it appears that at least some--I don't know how many--of the looters weren't part of the marginalized groups to being with). That said, I'm much more exercised by this looting, and much more inclined to feel I *need* to condemn it, than I've been about police brutality of the sort that murdered Mr. Floyd, or Laquan McDonald. True, I theoretically "condemned" those murders, but I'm much more eager to condemn the looting. So, although I disagree with the point that I can't also condemn looting, I'm chastened a little about it.

ETA: I'm not convinced that the protesters necessarily--as a whole--endorse the looting and rioting. So maybe we can condemn both the looting and the murders.

On “The Ethics of the Coronavirus

Megan McArdle wrote a while back that even if we (or most of us) (or a goodly number of us) will get covid eventually, it's better to get covid 6 months from now than to get it right now, because then we'll have understood the virus and illness at least a little better.

On “Old Men in Poorly-Fitting Pants

This is an awesome post, Rufus. I may disagree with some of the points, or more accurately, I weigh some of the factors differently from how you do. But I'll find your post hard to ignore.

If I disagree at all, it's because I see disregard for the lives and basic interests of others to be part of the human condition and part of the most supposedly "humane" of societies. I don't say that as a condemnation, especially because I support some policies that evince that attitude. I also believe there are better and worse balances to strike. I DON'T intend to say, "all societies do it to some extent so it doesn't matter to what extent any society does it."

Anyway, thanks for writing this.

On “The Protest Wave: COVID-19, Perceptions of Science, and Mass Events

Saying that you are of course against police brutality but can’t support the protests because of Covid-19 would do nothing to help this. Therefore, they kind of had to sign off on the protests even though it might not be medically sound.

The choice isn't necessarily so stark. They can say they support the protests but warn that protests carry potentially significant risks. The OP is taking to task a statement that seemed to suggest the risks didn't apply.

I'd also add to one of the assumptions you make in your comment. You suggest that one cause of the protests (or at least the severity or, for lack of a better word, "popularity" of the protests) is pent up energy and freedom from work. I'm that plays a part, but I'd also add desperation. Some people are really hurting from the lockdown.

(Of course, the main reason/cause is police brutality.)

On “Derek Chauvin’s Charges, Explained

I didn't realize you lived in Chicago. That's "Big City" for me. Do you live in the suburbs or the city? I hope you're neighborhood hasn't been touched by the recent lootings. Mine wasn't, for the most part, though about a mile from me it was pretty bad (or so I hear, I haven't gone there to look).

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This is one of those situations where the jury will "have to" convict. I, too, believe it should convict.

But let's just remember that we've already decided what the outcome *should* be. That gives me pause. Such "pause" comes just as cheaply as my outrage. I've decided he's guilty. Others have, too. Regardless, my life and the "system" will continue on.

On “100 Favorite Films To Recommend Part 9: The 2000s

I've never seen Unbreakable, but I might since it's recommended in the OP. I agree with you about the rest of Shyamalan's work (or at least what I've seen of it): the Sixth Sense was good, but the rest were, as you say, "not even meh." In fact, the rest was, in my view, "I can't believe I wasted about 2 hours of my life watching *that*!"

On “Cities Burning: Stories of Riots from 1992 and 2020

I probably disagree with some of the points in the OP, but mostly.....I'll say ditto!....especially to the (I paraphrase) "it's not only the fault of the 1/2 of the 1%" claim.

On “100 Favorite Films To Recommend Part 9: The 2000s

I'll add to this list, not constraining myself to picking only one movie per year: Batman Begins (over Dark Knight), No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Phone Booth when I rewatch it, I find it a little bit cheesy....even so, I like it), and About Schmidt.

ETA: I'd also add Brokeback Mountain and Friends with Money.

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I feel that way about "No Country for Old Men." I thought it was a great movie, but I can't watch it again. I tried, but I couldn't.

On “Some Potentially Very Good News

I just now saw this response. Thanks for writing it.

I still wish, though, that it had been acknowledged that the "potentially very good news" is about 3 months old. Also, the "paper" that is debunked does not seem to be a "paper," but a letter to the editor of the NEJM (again, unless there is a "paper" and I failed to find it through the links, an entirely likely possibility.)

ETA: I should add I appreciate your link to the Boston Review piece.

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I'm very much a *lapsed* Catholic, and even when I was unlapsed, I didn't really know much about the eucharist, etc. (and had long forgotten whatever statements I had to memorize in order to take my first communion). But as I understand it, doing some sort of drive-by or takeout communion wouldn't necessarily go against the Church doctrine. I do imagine that taking the Host (which, as I understand, is Christ incarnate) is problematic because....might the congregants forget to take It, or accidentally drop It?

It's very, very possible that my statements about what can be done and what is "problematic" are misinformed on a lot of counts. So apologies to the non-lapsed Catholics here who know more.

On “Apologia of Human Nature: Charlatans, Saints, Hoffer, and Burt Likko’s Query

I believe the problem of clerics succumbing to the temptations of fame and wealth and the problem of politicians succumbing to similar temptations are special cases of a general problem most of us face.

I believe we're all hypocrites (as Saul seems to have implied in his first comment above). We all grow too attached to those comforts we are fortunate enough to have. If we are stronger than others in some ways, or have some advantage over others in some ways, we face the temptation to harm those who are at a disadvantage. When Andrew says in his OP, "[b]ut for almost all humans, the power and the money will win, because they are human," the proper response, in my opinion, is "that but for the grace of god choose any of us."

Those, like me, who are fortunate enough to have had a good formal education, to have (knock on wood, for now) a good job, to be in (relatively, for now, and, again, knock on wood) good health--there are countless ways we choose to harm others, sometimes without giving it much thought. Malice is there, but we have the opportunity to "forget" it.

I say clerics (and politicians) are "special cases" because they cause greater harm and on a more systematic level. There are probably solutions for very bad actors who end up violating some type of public trust in a way there aren't solutions for addressing the evil we all are tempted to choose. So we should probably focus on those special cases. But it's worth staying aware of the beam in our own eye.