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July 30, 2007

“Because one of the people she was learning how to hate was me.”
Posted by Patrick at 06:17 PM * 315 comments

I try to avoid the sort of lazy blogging that consists of quoting someone else at length and then adding “What she said” and “Read the rest.” But some things just demand to be passed along.

Superb political reporter and sometime blogger Rick Perlstein recently posted this:

Shortly before she died, my grandmother—one of the people, naturally, I loved the most in the world—broke my heart. Celia Perlstein, like most of our grandparents, didn’t get out much in her final years; in fact, for the last few years of her life, I’m not sure she got out of her old folks home at all. I don’t think she really wanted to. She was sure that beyond its threshold lay dragons: far-far-far leftists out to steal her Social Security; turbaned terrorists just itching to fly a jet into the First Wisconsin tower a few blocks to the south; quisling Democrats itching to help them do it; grandma-gutting criminal marauders just outside her door.

I’d look out of her eighth floor picture window, down at the scene she saw every day, half expecting to find that nightmare landscape before me. Nope: same as always, the brightly colored sailboats on Lake Michigan, kids and their parents feeding the ducks (Grandma used to take me to feed the ducks), happy, strolling Milwaukee couples—paradise. Where was she getting these fantasies?

One evening’s visit, all became clear. She gestured at the blaring TV set. The excruciating grandma-volume was even more excruciating than usual, because she was visiting with her best TV friend. She told me how much she adored Bill O’Reilly. My wife and I cringed. Watching our latter-day Joe McCarthy on TV every night, she had learned, late in life—for this development was entirely new—how to hate her fellow Americans. I almost cried, because one of the people she was learning how to hate was me.

What he said. Watch the video. Read the rest.

If “the arc of history bends toward justice,” it’s only because people got up off their behinds and started bending it for themselves. Moral progress isn’t something we can count on the rest of the world to take care of for us. If you want to live in a world in which multimillionaire perverts pile up ever-higher fortunes by encouraging Americans to hate and fear one another, simply do nothing. If you want a better world, start thinking about how to make this stuff stop.

Comments on "Because one of the people she was learning how to hate was me.":
#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 07:19 PM:

I have a wealthy and conservative great aunt with an AOL address.

Until I got pruned from her CC: list, I got an occasional mass mailing from her. Sometimes a pretty decent joke, most often a bit of "glurge," occasionally a piece of odious crap.

Like:

A Swift Vote Veterans mailing.

Or the still-circulating "Obama went to a radical Muslim madrassa when living in Africa."

In both of the cases above, I responded to everyone on the list and cited the relevant Snopes article.

Too hell with being nice and quiet and polite.

#3 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 07:22 PM:

The first step in getting people to commit atrocities is to get them to believe absurdities. Preferably laced with heavy doses of fear.

#5 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 07:29 PM:

I watched some Fox News at my mother's in early October 2001 (during the famous anthrax scare). Even I felt myself getting more agitated about the situation, because of my constant exposure to it. I can understand why my mother is my most reactionary relative, because this is all she watches for news.

#6 ::: Leslie Turek ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 07:42 PM:

I just got back from a visit to my 84-year-old father. Happily, we see eye-to-eye on politics. He was a union organizer when he was younger, and just seems to get more liberal as he gets older. In the recent democratic debate, he was cheering on Kucinich.

The sad thing is that he is so depressed by what is happening to this country. "I didn't think," he says, "that after fighting in World War II as a young man, that at the end of my life I would see my country turning to fascism." I wish I could say something to cheer him up, but I can't.

#7 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 07:56 PM:

At one point in my life, about twelve years ago, my strategy of constant questioning, nagging, ranting and raving paid off a little bit with my parents. They started, bit by bit over the next six years or so, to open their minds.

Right about the time they moved to South Carolina, though, they started watching FOX News. We were visiting during the elections and had to debate for hours, and dig up evidence on the intar-webs (with fer chrissakes dial-up) to demonstrate to my Dad that the swift-boat s**t was just that. I had to have long, long talks with my mother about how countering verifiable fact with outright lies was not "telling both sides of the story." I still don't think I've convinced them. We've lost ground, now.

It is heartbreaking. I keep telling them, "That's me. I'm that raging leftist. It's me. I'm pro-choice. I'm anti-torture. I believe the administration is gutting the Constitution systematically and thoroughly for its own ends."

The constant propaganda is exhausting to keep up with. But it's necessary, and it's necessary to do it outside of our audience of the converted, too. If I just do it on my blog, and everyone there already agrees with me, and then I do it here...well, I guess I'll sign off and go call my mom, now.

#8 ::: woodguy ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 08:03 PM:

I went to the google aerial views of BO's spread and if I'm not mistaken I think I can make out a whole flock of loofas just offshore. Who'd a thunk it?

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Leslie, my 80-year-old mother feels much the same way, and platitudes like "America will recover, it always has" just don't cut it. Particularly when the speaker has doubts about how much it will recover and how long it'll take to do so.

#10 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 08:28 PM:

I have a lot of family members who are arch-"conservatives" in the Brent Bozell says it, it must be true sense. They more or less always have been, though, which is why I guess this sort of thing doesn't really come as much of a shock to me. I was pretty much the spawn of Satan going in.

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 08:43 PM:

Speaking of millionaire perverts, let's not forget Rush Limbaugh, caught coming back from sex-tourist heaven with a pocketful of Viagra prescribed to someone else.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:02 PM:

What was fascinating was the talking head on Fox who said that a blog is 'one-way communication'. I have not posted this comment, apparently.

#13 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:15 PM:

I used to say that I didn't watch TV, but basically thought TV was okay if not of much interest to me personally; but the past few years, I've been less and less sure about the TV is okay part. More and more, it seems that friends and family--even liberal friends and family--who spend a lot of time watching TV see a very different world around them than those of us that don't: one that's filled with danger at every step, with people out there just waiting to snatch their children and shoot on sight and attack without warning; and, most of all, the sense that the world is not only perilous, but more perilous than ever before.

I think that television's narration of our world really has interfered deeply with perceptions of that actual world. It's troubling. And more and more, it's a disconnect I'm not sure how to bridge, as a non-TV-watcher. More and more often, not watching television is like living in a different culture.

#14 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:22 PM:

My parents were and are in Leslie and Linkmeister's situation. I'd have liked Dad to pass away in a year when the country was on the mend, not in further decline. I'd like Mom to get some months or years in a country on the mend, too. I get alternately furious and despairing as I watch the major candidates on the Democratic side keep squeezing more and more to the right, apparently looking to see how little change they can get away with calling on the issues that matter most to the health of the republic. I have this ghastly feeling that a Democratic victory in 2008 might add up to no more than "the same old militarism and tyranny except with more administrative competency".

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Fragano @ 12

All of theirs are one way, therefore all blogs are one-way. Even when they're holding Kos responsible for all the comments that (their?) trolls post on his site, they still say that. Logic is not their forte.

I have relatives scattered across the political spectrum, from Green to Fox-News-believing. Mostly I avoid politics; I will say, though, that my Most-Senior-Aunt is not a Fox-News-believer, and she turns 93 next Saturday (and lives in Texas).

#16 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:30 PM:

When I was a consultant I travelled all over heck and gone. Every public place I went to blared Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, and the like. Hotel lobbies, airports, restaurants, bars. It was awful. It reminded me of a Clockwork Orange, or 1984. You couldn't get away from the propaganda to save your life.

I finally bought myself a TV-B-Gone universal remote. Blissful silence followed in my wake. I love my TV-B-Gone.

#17 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Bruce @ #14 writes: I have this ghastly feeling that a Democratic victory in 2008 might add up to no more than "the same old militarism and tyranny except with more administrative competency".

Yes, that's one of my concerns too; that all the nibbling and chomping away at civil liberties we've seen over the past six years since 9/11 will be quietly adhered to even if there's a Democratic President with a Democratically-controlled Congress.

As you say, government will be more competently run, in which case we won't really know that few of those transgressions were reversed or repealed.

#18 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:42 PM:

Janni @13, I have the same experience with my family. My mother's convinced that there's a nationwide epidemic of child abduction, even though she has no factual basis for such a belief. I can quote FBI statistics showing that child abductions have decreased over the past couple of decades, and that teens are in more danger than young children, and she just refuses to believe it, like a young-earth creationist confronted with the fossil record.

#19 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Janni, it really depends on what you watch. I have, for instance, at least one thoroughly conservative friend who watches quite a lot of TV...almost exclusively the Discovery, Food, and Home & Garden channels, and who's a real asset to his family, friends, and communities. He cooks meals for those in need, helps out with emergency relief of different kinds, and so on, and applies a lot of the practical stuff he's seen on TV to make his work more productive and enjoyable. Most of us thinking about the impact of TV can easily overlook that kind of practical viewing (in his case, leavened with the History Channel to launch him into new reading bouts about subjects that interest him), but it's also a part of the landscape, and by the ratings, one worth considering.

#20 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Sort of makes me glad that my mom justs watches the televangelists on Sunday and Food Network or HGTV the rest of the time (with an occasional foray into Weather Channel...). She tolerates Jim watching sport when we're over and she may watch the baseball games for all I know.

Says the news makes her anxous. Hell, it makes ME anxious....

#21 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:23 PM:

The concept of a television performer whining that blogs are too "one-way communication" just burned out my irony meter.

#22 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Laura, #16: If the TV in a public place is showing Faux News, and I can reach it, I'll change the channel to CNN. Still bad, but at least not odious.

I am convinced that the primary mission of Faux News, at least since 9/11, has been to push as many Americans as possible into PTSD and keep them there. I saw people I knew do it to themselves, obsessivly watching those planes flying into the Twin Towers over and over again; that was the seed. All that had to be done after that was to keep trotting out more threats and disasters -- even if they had to be made up out of whole cloth. Anything to keep the audience drinking the Kool-Aid, because a mind that's already been blurred by a toxic information dump is easier to dupe in other ways.

Small rays of hope, though. Over the past few years, as my partner and I travel to various cons, we've noticed that (1) more TVs are tuned to CNN or MSNBC instead of Faux, and (2) truckstops that used to play a steady diet of "America uber alles" country-western music are now featuring "golden oldies" pop stations on their Muzak. When the truckers are getting sick of it...

#23 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Avram (#18) My mother's convinced that there's a nationwide epidemic of child abduction, even though she has no factual basis for such a belief.

This is something I've been thinking about how to counter - the fact that kids don't get the same kind of freedom to explore now as they did a generation ago, despite the risks being unchanged or lowered. I kind of think of it as an 'expected value' problem; the likelihood of something horrible happening to your child is extremely low, but the 'cost' of it happening is extremely high, and therefore a (nominally) rational response is to limit your children's unsupervised time.

What I'd be interested in adding to this argument is some information about the benefits of allowing children this kind of freedom. Anecdotally, I think that it results in self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, but I don't know if there is anything to back it up. But I'd really like to see those ideas become a staple of the national consciousness in the same way as 'missing children' newsflashes are.

(And then there's the point that, say, we are happy to gloss over how incredibly unsafe driving is. It's statistically much safer to walk to school than it is to be driven to school; the most likely place and way a child is to be injured is being hit by another student's vehicle in the drop-off area.)

#24 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:40 PM:

Leslie @6: I think your story might be, if possible, even sadder than Perlstein's original anecdote.

My two surviving grandparents are nearly in their nineties, and their health is declining; after all their generation's sacrifices and hard work, it would be nice to think that maybe they would have the opportunity to see us building on the foundation they helped to establish rather than tearing down our democracy and putting up a new gilded monument to fascism.

Thanks, Jim, for providing links to concrete things we can do to help stem the tide of disinformation.

#25 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:49 PM:

All television isn't created equal. There's PBS, BBC America, The Science Channel, The History Channel and a multitude of others like them. I admit to more than a passing weakness for police procedurals and other mysteries whether network or cable. The USA network gives me Monk, The 4400 and The Dead Zone. I despise the SciFi channel for showing wrestling but love Eureka, The Dresden Files, Stargate and Battlestar Galactica.

The problem with those who watch Fox is that they have been convinced that an all-dark fantasy network is running real news.

#26 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:56 PM:

My 87 year old mother wanted to live long enough to see George Bush leave office in disgrace (hissing, booing, thrown shoes,etc.) Unfortunately, she did not. I picture her in Some Better Place, cheering on the Democrats -- who may not deserve her cheers -- and brandishing a ghostly shoe.

Fox News -- ugh. Stomach-turning. I'm gonna git me one of those dingusses that turn off any TV in reach, and any time I find one turned to Fox -- zap! The frightening thing about Fox is that so many people seem to believe that what Fox shows and tells them is news, and that what the other networks present is and must be lies, because it disagrees with The World According To Fox.

#27 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:57 PM:

The idea of the promotion of fear through the media was one of the major messages I got from Bowling for Columbine. It certainly applies here in Oz too.

I'm also similarly depressed by the rolling back of so many of the advances we've made here in the last 150 years, including things I've supported and worked for in my own lifetime (see commentary at Webdiary). Now I'm a lot weaker, sicker & have a whole lot of extra worries on my plate, so can't get as much involved in resisting and arguing against the decline — which of course leaves me even more worried and stressed. Bleah: vicious circle time. IntarTubes are useful in some ways, however.

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:20 AM:

There's a great bit in V for Vendetta in which the future England's fascist masters, feeling threatened, turn on a propaganda blitz to convince the increasingly restive populace that "they need us!" The scare stories look a hell of a lot like Fox News.

Later, ba Thl Snjxrf qnl, jura "I" vaivgrf gur choyvp gb wbva uvz va gur fgerrgf, gurer'f n ybiryl fprar jurer Wbua Uheg'f fpnel nhgubevgnevna punapryybe enagf ba GI, guerngravat qver chavfuzrag sbe nalbar jub wbvaf gur cebgrfg. Naq nyy bs gur cynprf jurer jr'ir frra crbcyr jngpuvat GI guebhtu gur zbivr -- chof, yvivat ebbzf, byq ntr ubzrf -- ner rzcgl.

How I'd love to see something like that.

#29 ::: Peter L. Winkler ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:40 AM:

"If you want a better world, start thinking about how to make this stuff stop."

Only idiots or media analysts without a gag reflex habitually watch O'Reilly.

Therefore, the only solutions I can see are:

1. Kill O'Reilly.

2. Kill the idiots.

Since neither will happen, we're stuck with O'Reilly.

#30 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Bruce Baugh, #14: "I have this ghastly feeling that a Democratic victory in 2008 might add up to no more than "the same old militarism and tyranny except with more administrative competency."

Me too. Then the following words appear before me in letters of fire: SUPREME COURT.

Laura Mixon, #16: You actually have a TV-B-Gone? I've always wanted one! Bring it to VP so we can all see!

Lee, #22: "I am convinced that the primary mission of Faux News, at least since 9/11, has been to push as many Americans as possible into PTSD and keep them there. I saw people I knew do it to themselves, obsessively watching those planes flying into the Twin Towers over and over again; that was the seed." Yes, exactly.

Debcha, #23: "This is something I've been thinking about how to counter - the fact that kids don't get the same kind of freedom to explore now as they did a generation ago, despite the risks being unchanged or lowered." Don't get me started. I continue to think that one of the luckiest things about my life is that my adolescence took place in the early 1970s, peak era of benign neglect. What kids today have to put up with--even from parents who are liberal-minded sensible friends of mine--looks to me like jail.

#31 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Bruce: a point. I should perhaps say "mainstream television," though defining that is tricky. It goes beyond just Fox -- local network news and CNN do their share of promoting fear (and also cheap and facile sentiment, a whole other rant), as does much of non-news entertainment -- but not as far as, say, the Food Network or Discovery Channel.

Debcha: I was just in Iceland, where independence is hugely valued and the default assumption is that, in such a small country, the children are safe, and where children do still get to run around and play on their own. They certainly seem less stressed for it--I wouldn't say I never saw children melting down, or parents losing it as a result of same, but it seemed far less common than in the U.S. And one has the sense that children are not simply protected, but respected, which is a huge thing, one I find myself rather jealous of.

Ironically, even though children are less thoroughly supervised there, they also seem more a part of the larger society, present not only in special isolated "family friendly" places. Because the whole society is more or less friendly family, which somehow translates into not being child-obsessed, but comfortable for adults and children alike.

#32 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Patrick, I'm so with you. They have transfomed the :Leawood Park ( roads, a caboose donated from who knows where and just open space for bicycling) to a soccer park/pool complex/etc. formal used area that I really doubt any teens use as a "I need to regroup, think things out and just have space to do that" kind of thing.

I despair in more ways than this.

#33 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:58 AM:

#29:

Therefore, the only solutions I can see are:
1. Kill O'Reilly.
2. Kill the idiots.
I'm waiting for the punchline, since I can't believe these are literally the "only solutions" you can see.

#34 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:17 AM:

This is how democracy gets lost. We've got to stop them, or there just won't be much left: One of these days David Petraeus will look more closely at the light at the end of the tunnel... and realize it's an onrushing freight train surging up at him from behind (pictured). Hasn't happened yet, but it's only a matter of time. But by the time the train runs over Petraeus, he will have served his purpose. Bush will have successfully passed on the forever war to a Democratic president. Unless. We. Stop. Him.

#35 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:19 AM:

I used to think that my father was an arch-conservative. Then I noticed that he was seeming more and more (socially, at least -- fiscally his views never budged) liberal by the year. The day he rolled down the window and screamed "GET A JOB!!" to the anti-abortion wingnut protester on the street corner, my brain just about imploded.

He never changed ... the world did. And thank god he never watched Faux News (though CNN was always a mainstay in the house, that's about as good as I could hope for). He never had much use for Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. He went to his grave a staunch Republican, but I don't think he was too happy with the state of the Union at the end.

And now that he's gone, my mom's true political views are finally getting some airtime. I'm pleased to learn that she's a lot more in agreement with me. But dammit, she still watches CNN.

#36 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:20 AM:

#29: It's not safe to make statements like that online when you've taken no precautions at all to maintain your anonymity. You'll be joining the rest of us in the FEMA Happy Camps soon enough, I suppose.

#37 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:58 AM:

In both of the cases above, I responded to everyone on the list and cited the relevant Snopes article.

Stefan @2, I did that a couple of times with mass emails my mother-in-law sent out. In one case, it was a group of pictures with the Ten Commandments, a Cross, a praying child, the American flag, and the Declaration of Independence, and some text about how important these things were to America and urging Good Christians to speak out to keep prayer in the public schools. I replied to all pointing out that she had left out the Constitution, without which we wouldn't even be a country, which is so important that all federal public officials, employees, and military personnel take an oath to protect, uphold and defend it. I also pointed out that the First Amendment to that important document prohibited the very sort of public establishment of religion she was urging.

She dropped me from the mailing list.

In December she sent around an email urging Christians to soldier on in the "war on Christmas," with a picture of a Christmas tree and a caption which read something like "This is no 'Holiday Tree'!" My husband got this email, I didn't. He replied to all saying that, well, actually it was a Holiday Tree, since the Christian use of evergreens had been appropriated from pagans, and that there are not really conifers to speak of in Palestine.

He has since also been dropped from the list.

I can't imagine why.

#38 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Janni, I'd be quite content to say that news coverage in general is part of the regimen of fear, a crucial part of the conservative movement's flavor of the Spectacle. Fox does it most intensively, but all the news channels have it as a part of the mix, often a large one.

Patrick: Yes, there very definitely is the Supreme Court, and I am sure that depression is a big factor in my imagining a Democratic president and congress rolling over to accommodate Republican demands on the selection of candidates, ending up with a semi-stealthed addition to the Republican toady lineup. What scares me apart from depression making its own fears is how un-broken the Republican machine still is, and how ineffectual the Democratic response.

#39 ::: narm00 ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:22 AM:

Sara Robinson, over at Orcinus, with some thoughts on how to stop the elderly getting brainwashed by Fox.

#40 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:23 AM:

debcha @ #23, the cover story in the August 6 edition of Time magazine inadvertently addresses one of your questions about kids and freedom. It's entitled The Myth About Boys, but it's as much about children in general as it is boys in particular, and it's a slap at interpreting social trends based on outdated statistics.

Anyway, it looks at a Fed report entitled "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007" (no link in the story) and discovers that all those horrific numbers of child abductions, youth crime, and teen pregnancy are falling. We wouldn't know it from our local television stations or the national cable networks, though.

#41 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Living in the USA sounds pretty hellish, with this heavy propaganda. It's really hard to avoid Orwell references.

My father, also of the WW2 generation, has been saying for years that out politicians are trying to be Hitler. But remember that there is a British English usage--"little Hitler" for the sort of small scale, rule-lawyering, bureaucratic, thug who one might find in the TSA--which seems to open the label up to totalitarianism in general.

And if we're talking about subverting the system, Tony Blair seems to have done the more competent job: he did it by changine the law, rather than ignoring it.

#42 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:46 AM:

re: Childhood freedom or lack thereof. The repressive lock-down and monitoring that modern children live with is one of my unwritten essays/rants. People complain about their kids being dependent, but the poor buggers have never had a chance to develop independence.

My father loathes Bill Clinton (I'm not especially impressed, myself). When I saw him last, about a year ago, he was worried about Hilary's run for President. I looked at him and said "You seriously think that she would do more harm to the constitution, habeus corpus, states rights, civil liberties, and personal freedom than the current administration? Do you really want to vote for someone that will endorse the decisions that have been made for the last six years? A strict constitutional interpreter and civil libertarian such as yourself has trouble with Hilary Clinton being President but not George W. Bush?" He looked at me for about 15 seconds, and replied "You have a pretty good point."

It's one of the few times in my life I've derailed my father on a rant, and one of the only reasons I can remember the details.

#43 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 03:45 AM:

I think I got my inocculation against the Murdoch Media early. My parents used to get the (Murdoch-controlled) Western Australian Sunday Times newspaper when I was growing up. It wasn't much at the best of times, but over the years, it was getting more and more trashy. About the only thing worth reading in it were the comics. Eventually we cancelled our subscription to that newspaper, simply because it wasn't worth the money we were paying for it.

When I moved east (to the ACT), nine years ago, I was in hardcore Murdoch media territory. The Packer and Murdoch families control the media with an iron grip, and finding alternative viewpoints from theirs is always tricky. I started relying on the internet for news - but even so, I could pick the Murdoch papers by sight on the newsstand. Same trashy content, same exaggerations and distortions of viewpoints.

Rupert Murdoch's global news empire relies on the tricks of trivialising the downsides of unrestrained anything-goes capitalist exploitation, exaggerating even the slightest risk of anything which smacks even vaguely of socialism, and distorting the statistical likelihood of harm to their readers to suit those perspectives. They'll use "sex sells" as a justification for blatant exploitation, and will attempt to use "the public right to know" as an excuse for the most outrageous chequebook journalism. As an institution, Rupert Murdoch's global media empire is scum. I'm not sure whether to pity or scorn the journalists who work there - pity, I think, for the newer ones, and the crusaders. Scorn for the cynics and the ones who are only in it for the money.

Fox News appears to merely be a shining example of the breed.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 03:58 AM:

Speaking as a parent, I hate having to raise my kids in captivity.

But they are fed a steady diet of fear, terror and anxiety. The nursery my daughter goes to talked to her about Madeleine McCann, and it took me days undo that. And I had to withdraw my son from his primary school's "keeping myself safe" unit after seeing the scaremongering materials they sent home.

But if they were to go out alone, whom would they play with? All their friends, all their contemporaries, are under the same watchful eye as mine are supposed to be.

The result? the media harrangues parents about restraining their kids too much.

This is one of the reasons we're moving to the Netherlands, where the tendency to raise kids like veal is less universal. It's not a solution, though, just sweeping back the tide.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:39 AM:

So, abi, the fear-mongers reap abundant harvests even in Europe? It's not just a USA thing?

As for myself, I stay away from TV news (now there's an oxymoron) for the same reason that I stay away from conservative columnists. If I can't respond back, all I wind up with is high blood pressure. I also ignore trolls on ML because, while I technically can respond, they aren't listening, or they listen but Reason and Logic don't really apply in their worldview so ther's no point in responding, and I really like keeping my blood pressure low.

I'd rather watch a SciFi Channel movie about giant bugs.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:21 AM:

(cont'd from #45)

Abi... I do remember your encounters with what schools were teaching to kids (for example, don't trust any stranger even if you're lost), but I was wondering if politically motivated fear-mongering oozed out of the European 'adult' news outlets as much as it does out of the American ones.

#47 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:27 AM:

I'll just note it's nice that ML is a happening place any hour of the clock, even for those of us with internal clocks set to a time-zone somewhat west of Hawaii (yet east of the date line).

Serge @45,
The only TV news I watch now is The Daily Show, because by making me laugh they keep me from weeping.

#48 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 08:20 AM:

Serge #46 - We get quite a bit of fear-mongering in the UK, but for me (and a lot of other people) we mostly have the feeling we've been here before. Jihadist terrorists aren't actually any more frightening than the IRA*. On the other hand, the IRA were white, english-speaking christians**; the fear-mongering in tabloids suggests that Islamic terrorists are scary because they are different, foreign and thus incomprehensible; an indescribable horror from beyond our understanding. That's my reading anyway.

* Who rattled the windows of my flat in Earls Court in 1996 when they abandoned a bomb a quarter of a mile away in an attack that went wrong in some way. None of us even thought about changing our behaviour or leaving the city, but then we were 20 years old and believed we were immortal.
** Or that's how they were characterised.

#49 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:07 AM:

#13 ::: Janni

"More and more often, not watching television is like living in a different culture."

I agree. We've not had a TV for five or six years. We get my news from radio, the internet, and newspapers. We've never watched an episode of Big Brother, or Changing Homes (or whatever the latest "this is how to redecorate your houe and sell it for lots of money" programme is). The only "soap" I follow is The Archers (Radio 4) and even that I only listen to occasionally. We don't get to see endless repeats of speculations on Maddie's abduction/latest bombings/shootings/atrocities/violence (delete as applicable) in Iraq/Afghanistan/UK big city/Darfur/Elsewhere (delete as applicable).

Sometimes it's like we live in a different world from most people around us.

Regarding the UK, as stated by Neil Willcox @ 48, we've lived with the IRA for decades. That's one of the reasons I and my husband get frustrated and annoyed about the attacks on our civil liberties, perpetrated by our government, under the excuse of "War against Terror": attacks involving random bystanders being blown up are nothing new to these shores. Why the disproportionate response this time?

As for children and the risks to them, I have no doubt that the percieved risks are higher than the actual risks, when everyone all over the country (or even further abroad) gets to hear about every fatal accident while on an adventure holiday, every abduction. It used to be, these events were known about in the local community only. Now they're all being brought to you in glorious technicolour, with coverage saying how tragic each event is and how we must do everything possible to prevent it.

Additionally, other risks of childhood, particularly childhood diseases, have decreased, due to extensive vaccination campaigns. Therefore the proportion of deaths due to misadventure have no doubt [I've not researched this, so I can't give statistics and references, but it's logical] increased.

#50 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:09 AM:

Yes, the "keep your children under lock and key at all times" attitude is alive and well in my area too. If the kids aren't being watched by the parents when they're outside, they are being enrolled in nonstop camps and classes so they have no free time at all.

For their own good, you know; it's a lot more dangerous for them now than it was when we were growing up.

Part of it is that more and more children are growing up in subdivisions than in rural areas, where there's a lot of open space to run around in. I grew up on a 45 acre farm with similar farms surrounding us; I explored a square mile of territory as a child and all my parents knew was I was somewhere in it. Now there may be 10,000 people in that square mile of land for most kids.

#51 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:38 AM:

I recently saw the graphic on how the range children are allowed to wander has diminished. Something like up to 5 miles away in the 40s, one mile away in the 70s, and about a block now.

Elsewhere, I've seen it remarked that kids don't go outside and mess around in the woods now. And all these are thanks to the perception that the pervert army is just waiting for your child to get more than 50 yards from your armed compound.

I remember seeing literature for kids in the 60s that warned about "the friendly stranger," and H. Allen Smith told a story of someone in the 20s who could have been an opera singer but stayed away from the city for fear of "the needle men," but the insanity seems to be reaching a point now where going outside will be considered suicidal (and with no more evidence than how often the tabloids resort to reporting it, rather than any actual frequency of incidents). And I look at my daughter, now five, and I want her to have the confidence to go places, see things, and do stuff.

When she's older, of course.

It's hard for me to compare today with 45 years ago, but I used to walk all the way around my block (a nice rectangular city block with an alley through the middle), and before I was six, I made it all the way to the West Side Market to buy a forbidden box of Cracker Jacks with money I heisted from my own piggy bank. When we moved out of town, I ranged as far as a mile in any direction without much planning. I want Sarah to be able to do the same kind of thing, I think.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 47... I enjoy Jon Stewart's show, and Colbert's, but I don't understand their choice of guests. Henry Kissinger?

#53 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Yes, the "keep your children under lock and key at all times" attitude is alive and well in my area too. If the kids aren't being watched by the parents when they're outside, they are being enrolled in nonstop camps and classes so they have no free time at all.

This drives me crazy. Puppy (who is now almost 13!) goes to hockey for a few hours in the morning 3 days a week. We deliberately did NOT schedule him for anything else, so he could run around the neighborhood and be a hooligan. Nearly all of his "park posse," though, are scheduled to the max with one thing or another...and the expressions on the parents' faces when I said I wasn't getting a nanny for after school or summer (this is my first summer of single working mom), well, it's clear they are just this side of calling child control on me. :)

Puppy, of course, is perfectly safe, has a good head on his shoulders chock full of too smart for his own good and common sense. I expect he is capable of getting himself out of whatever trouble his not-as-nefarious-as-he-thinks schemes get him into. I'm not worried about abduction and such. I worry more about him thinking up some fabulous way to blow up the garage...

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:44 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 48... We get quite a bit of fear-mongering in the UK

Didn't Rupert Murdoch start his media empire in the UK? In that case, I shouldn't have been surprised to find that the fear-mongering goes on there too.

#55 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Abi @44, do you currently like in the UK? My (vague) impression is that the UK suffers even more than the US from paranoia about child abuse and abduction.

PNH @30: Then the following words appear before me in letters of fire: SUPREME COURT.

A couple of days ago, I saw in a news story that Chuck Schumer was talking about blocking any further Bush Supreme Court nominations. Yeah, I thought, good timing, Chuck. That's not exactly likely to matter in the next year and a half. Then last night I saw that Justice Roberts had an idiopathic seizure. No lasting harm, they say, but a pretty startling coincidence.

#56 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:58 AM:

Avram @55
Abi @44, do you currently like in the UK?

Yes, for (checks watch) about 30 more hours. Then the Netherlands.

My (vague) impression is that the UK suffers even more than the US from paranoia about child abuse and abduction.

From what I've seen, it's about neck and neck. A lost child can get the whole nation going, but on the other hand parents still leave prams with babies in them outside of small shops, or kids in cars (in appropriate weather).

My experience is that the Anglophone countries spend a lot of time reacting to, or going along with, American media and American mores on these things.

My impression is that non-Anglophone Europe is looser about these things. From what I hear, the Netherlands certainly is.

#57 ::: Flippanter ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Things like this remind me that I am lucky enough that my friends and family are all, with the exception of one genuine Texas plutocrat of the self-professed libertarian genus, the church-going sort of New England liberals that punk-rockin' blogtastic progressives hate slightly more than they hate Bill O'Reilly. The words "bourgeois" and "heteronormative" wouldn't be inapposite.

I don't except myself; I can never summon much enthusiasm for the "these are the buildings we have to burn; these are people we have to kill" part of the conversation. In fact, I wonder whether these circumstances have robbed me of the converting passion that one needs to be able to make an impression on devoted Fox News watchers. I certainly don't think I've made much headway just asking people what it is that makes them think Jesus wants to watch us kill each other.

#58 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Since the IRA have been mentioned...

Operation Banner, the British Army's emergency deployment to keep the peace in Northern Ireland ends at midnight tonight. (well, it probably ends at 23:59 today or 00:01 tomorror, but they don't want to cinfuse the journalists).

A guy I used to know was one of those soldiers in the first deployment. They were sent out to protect the Catholics from the Protestant mobs. The Protestant-dominated government of Northern Ireland were treating Catholics in the way that some parts of the USA treated blacks.

The existing government infrastructure never collapsed in Northern Ireland. And, eventually, it stopped being about bullets and became a question of politics. But, for 38 years, the British Army was there, holding the line.

#59 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Since the IRA have been mentioned...

Operation Banner, the British Army's emergency deployment to keep the peace in Northern Ireland ends at midnight tonight. (well, it probably ends at 23:59 today or 00:01 tomorror, but they don't want to cinfuse the journalists).

A guy I used to know was one of those soldiers in the first deployment. They were sent out to protect the Catholics from the Protestant mobs. The Protestant-dominated government of Northern Ireland were treating Catholics in the way that some parts of the USA treated blacks.

The existing government infrastructure never collapsed in Northern Ireland. And, eventually, it stopped being about bullets and became a question of politics. But, for 38 years, the British Army was there, holding the line.

#60 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:34 AM:

#51 Kip W: My recollection is that the graphic on kids' wandering ranges accompanied an article about the UK, so it isn't just the USA that has this problem.

To some extent, what we're seeing here is the tabloidization of the media. Look at CNN, which is increasingly dominated by things like "Nancy Grace," which is entirely about fear. I remember a decade or two ago when the local TV news began to be about nothing but fires, accidents, murders, and other fear stories. Now the national news (not just Fox, not just CNN) is more and more about "tabloid" subjects. The same is true of the weekly "news" magazines. Newsweek has become a week of health, a week of religion, a week of celebrity, and sometimes a week of politics.

Even the cable channels that are sometimes educational or interesting are often about fear: think of The Discovery Channel, currently doing "Shark Week," which is large about shark attacks...

Most political blogs are about fear; left or right, it makes little difference. A lot of posts and comments here on ML are about fear, too.

Fear sells newspapers, ads, pageviews. "If it bleeds it leads." Alas.

#61 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:41 AM:

It's not only TV that scares parents into keeping their kids on a short leash at all times. What is one to think of the news that Myspace just weeded out 29,000 sex offenders? 29,000??? I have to admit, if I had kids, I'd be getting nervous about letting them online unsupervised, never mind letting them out to wander in the woods or the streets. Sure, an inner voice would be telling me I'm overreacting, but would I have the sense to listen to that voice?

#62 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Lee @22: I was one of those folks who should have turned the TV off on 9/11. After a couple of months where my partner knew I had a problem* (but I hadn't realized it) I started taking a meditation class at the local Buddhist center.

That snapped me out of the haze of depression I'd been in. I think I watched the planes hit the buildings one too many times. Now when something bad happens, I light candles, invoke the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and meditate -- but I don't watch the news.

*She told me later, "One more week, and I was going to call your doctor."

#63 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:58 AM:

found how many sex offenders? Using a computer program? How freaking much human verification of those designations was there? LJ just went through something similar, and there was a giant backlash, though the percentage of banned communities/groups was much smaller on LJ.

Also? False accusations are just as bad if not worse, and I don't trust a computer to accurately find these people by name and state....

I am aquiring a step-daughter here shortly, and she is going to be on a much longer leash than she has been up until this point. Her mother gets terrified if she's left home alone for more than about 20 min. The girl is almost 10. At that point, I was home alone from the time I got off the bus until the point when a parent got home after 5. I can't understand this fear of making her take responsibility.

#64 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:04 AM:

Back in December of 2002, my mother asked me what my opinion was about all this Iraq war talk. I told her that I didn't think my opinion mattered much, but that I'd done some studying on the situation and I could tell her what I knew. And I laid it all out for her in about five minutes: 1) There was no evidence that Saddam had any current WMD capabilities, and the best evidence indicated that his last stockpiles were destroyed in the 1998 air raids ordered by Clinton and Blair. 2) Saddam was a secular Arab nationalist, and as such, a sworn enemy of pan-Islamic groups like al-Queda. He would have no reason to cooperate with groups out to destroy him. 3) Mesopatamia/Iraq has a history going back to the time of Alexander of offering invaders only token resistance, and then staging a long, bloody insurgency until the invaders leave. It is part of their national mythos, like Bunker Hill is for Americans. The British found this out in 1918. 4) Iraq is a hodgepodge of ethnic, religious, and tribal groups just waiting for a chance to kill each other. Saddam held together Iraq like Tito held together Yugoslavia.

I told her that the best case scenario would be that we would take Baghdad and kill or capture Saddam in a matter of weeks, that we would find no WMDs, that there would be no ties to al-Queda, that we would immediately face a low-level and steadily escalating insurgency, and that internecine and sectarian violence would threaten to erupt in civil war. I told her that my opinion was that sooner or later we would be forced to leave in disgrace, and the US would be decades recovering from the debacle. I told her all this back in 2002.

She didn't believe me. My own mother did not believe me. She believes Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. She's never since acknowledged that our conversation took place, and she's still a loyal Fox viewer and Bush apologist. Our relationship has never fully recovered.

Bill O'Reilly lies to old people and tears apart families. I hope this campaign has some success, but if I ever find myself alone with O'Reilly, I'm not offering any guarantees about my behavior.

#65 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Jon @61, keep in mind that MySpace claims to be getting a nearly quarter of a million new users per day. So accumulating 29,000 "sex offenders" in four years isn't so outlandish.

Also keep in mind that a "sex offender" might be a guy who was 19 when he slept with his 17-year-old girlfriend and her parents decided to be assholes about it.

#66 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:18 AM:

About that parent thing:

It's hard to start letting go. But my kid (11) can now go to and from her grandmother's by herself (4 blocks, almost all streets with stoplights), go home by herself if we are walking around the neighborhood and I need to make one stop too many for her patience/feet (though not yet from the mile-away shopping strip, as that involves crossing a 10-12-lane divided road locally known as The Boulevard of Death), and stay at home alone for an hour and a half (working toward two hours).

She goes to karate by herself, but I still have to pick her up because the Y won't let her go home alone until next year, even though we live literally across the way. Her camp just this year is letting her get off the bus by herself if no one is downstairs to meet her; I wait with her in the AM, though, because sometimes the bus comes really, really late and we wind up calling the driver to see what's up.

Starting in September, my plan is to let her go at least part of the way to school by herself if she's still in the neighborhood school. If she can get on the city bus in front of our home, she can go the whole way by herself. Otherwise, she has to cross the Boulvard of Death to pick up the same bus at a different point on the route, and man, that is one scary road even for me, so I will be crossing her until next spring, I think. But once she's on the bus, she's on her own.

If she's commuting to Manhattan, though, I will have to take her and pick her up, at least for the first 6 months or so. I can just imagine what my work schedule will look like; otoh, I am not letting a kid who isn't 12 yet take 2-3 trains on her own. She can't even read the subway map yet, which is driving me crazy ("Mom, how many stops to where we're going?" "Look at the map, dear." "Mom, I can't find where we are!" AAAAAAAAHHHHH! [Though I didn't start commuting by subway regularly until 8th grade myself, when I was 13--the first year I went to Hunter, I took the express bus both ways]). I've just decided to bring one home and have her study up on it a bit.

I try not to over-schedule her, but in NYC at least, if she's not with an adult, she's still young enough that I could be charged with neglect. Which is weird, because she babysits from time to time.

So two days a week, after school, she goes to my mother's, where she can just hang out, go online, etc.--though she doesn't play outside because, well, none of her friends live close enough to us to meet up, even the ones who have SAHP and dont' go to a formal afterschool program. And two days she goes to the Y. And one day she goes to religious school, which she also attends on Sundays. And then Sunday afternoons, she takes karate for a couple of hours.

But. Without the afterschool program, she wouldn't know that she is a pretty sculptor. Or that, in her heart of hearts, she might want to act (and might be decent at it), but only if she gets to play villains and character parts.

Still, this is her last year of eligibility for the afterschool programs--she's aging out. And once she is in middle school, she'll be mostly on her own. So this year, I'm trying to train her to be on her own.

It's weird to do.

#67 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Serge (#54) Citizen Murdoch (at a glance, Wikipedia seems a reasonable summary) followed his father, Keith, into the newspaper business in Australia, building up from a problematic inheritance in 1952 (same as QEII), expanding to the UK, then deciding if Paris was worth a mass, US television was worth converting too.

and Jon (#51) MySpace passed 100,000,000 member's profiles in 2005. If we assume all the banned people are in fact 'real' sex offenders (not 16-year-olds boys convicted of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl), this makes the 29,000 somewhere less than 0.029 percent (29 in 100,000). It'd be interesting to compare this with the fraction of the population around the local shopping centre, school, sports facility or general neighbourhood that might be described that way.

Happy Birthday to all our horses!

#68 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Serge (#54) Citizen Murdoch (at a glance, Wikipedia seems a reasonable summary) followed his father, Keith, into the newspaper business in Australia, building up from a problematic inheritance in 1952 (same as QEII), expanding to the UK, then deciding if Paris was worth a mass, US television was worth converting too.

and Jon (#51) MySpace passed 100,000,000 member's profiles in 2005. If we assume all the banned people are in fact 'real' sex offenders (not 16-year-olds boys convicted of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl), this makes the 29,000 somewhere less than 0.029 percent (29 in 100,000). It'd be interesting to compare this with the fraction of the population around the local shopping centre, school, sports facility or general neighbourhood that might be described that way.

Happy Birthday to all our horses!

#69 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Patrick @ 30, I do, and I will.

They can take up to 30-60 seconds to work, as they cycle through multiple frequencies.

Heh heh heh.

#70 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Flippanter #57: I certainly don't think I've made much headway just asking people what it is that makes them think Jesus wants to watch us kill each other.

One of my favorite articles from The Onion: God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule.

#71 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:55 AM:

PNH @ 30: You mean "once there's a Democrat in the White House, the Supremes will rediscover how the President is not above the law and how the Constitution checks the power of the executive branch"?

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Mez @ 67... I stand corrected about Rupert's origins.

#73 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Yes, Rupert was an Australian. He actually renounced Australian citizenship to become an American, and the Americans let him.

We cried. Well, that's what you call it when you have to stuff your hanky in your mouth, rock backwards and forwards, and make funny little noises, isn't it?

#74 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:23 PM:

That point made above about both leftist and rightist media/blogs being fear-mongers certainly seems true to me -- and I'm a dedicated pessimist. But some of the "tin hat" discussions on this site have struck me as raw paranoia. I know things are in a terrible state, and the Democrats may not be our saviors, but check out Bush's plunging approval ratings. At least we aren't putting up bronze statues all over the place (front side Bush, back Cheney) and rolling over as he appoints himself president-for-life!

I expect this comment to provoke outraged responses from doom-sayers, but I still believe America isn't a full dictatorship populated by zombie True Believers. Maybe that's just because my 80-something Mom's a lifelong Democrat, and none of my (Northern California) relatives have taken a turn to the right.

It's OK to rant, but not to give up hope. I look back at the half of the 20th century where I *wasn't* around, and I'm amazed that humankind survived at all, yet here we are....

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:33 PM:

Faren @ 74... Thanks for the breath of optimism. I try to remind my wife that McCarthy must have looked unstoppable in the years before we were born, but he was stoppable, and America recovered. For a time anyway.

#76 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:07 PM:

As far as fear of sexual predators and assault on young persons, it's like murder: Almost always by someone known to the victim, usually a family member. Incidents of assault by strangers are the exception, not the rule.

Whenever people start freaking out about strangers molesting their babies, I really want to tell them to worry about Uncle Lefty or Aunt Jeanne long before they worry about strangers. But that doesn't go over so well.

#77 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:08 PM:

I can't understand this fear of making her take responsibility.

Of course you can't, because, not being the mother, you won't be blamed for whatever goes wrong. If a responsible child is harassed or, god forbid, hurt, get out of the way for the pile-on about how mommy was Irresponsible, Should Have Known Better and My God Don't You Know About Sexual Predators? (Daddies sometimes come in for finger-wagging as part of "parents", but let's not bullshit about who gets virtually all of the blame.)

I worry about letting my kids go out alone--because I'm afraid that they'll get hit by some asshole driving a Hummer while texting on his cellphone. Statistically that's a lot more likely than being grabbed off the street by a mysterious stranger.

It never fails to amaze me how the same people who sneer at Those Ay-Rabs for not letting women out alone are happy to impose the same purdah on their children.

#78 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:09 PM:

I can't understand this fear of making her take responsibility.

Of course you can't, because, not being the mother, you won't be blamed for whatever goes wrong. If a responsible child is harassed or, god forbid, hurt, get out of the way for the pile-on about how mommy was Irresponsible, Should Have Known Better and My God Don't You Know About Sexual Predators? (Daddies sometimes come in for finger-wagging as part of "parents", but let's not bullshit about who gets virtually all of the blame.)

I worry about letting my kids go out alone--because I'm afraid that they'll get hit by some asshole driving a Hummer while texting on his cellphone. Statistically that's a lot more likely than being grabbed off the street by a mysterious stranger.

It never fails to amaze me how the same people who sneer at Those Ay-Rabs for not letting women out alone are happy to impose the same purdah on their children.

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Faren, we're science fiction fans. We are, perhaps, a little too used to accepting the unlikely.

Then again, the politicians aren't tryng to give us cheap interstellar travel.

#80 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:13 PM:

I have high standards when it comes to perversion. Bill O'Reilly's pathetic vanilla fantasies detailed in Andrea Mackris's sexual-harassment complaint against him just don't make the cut, in my view.

More importantly, using "pervert" as a club with which to beat upon O'Reilly adds to the climate of hate and loathing in which real perverts have to contend with as we live our lives.

#81 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Speaking of BillO, someone at Kos gives him a taste of his own tactics.
I don't know whether to laugh or be appalled.

#82 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Re overcontrol of children:

I was born in 1961 and raised in a small rural Georgia town, where I had considerable freedom (basically, "get home by dark"). As a result, I encountered a fellow in his 60s who liked little girls. He figured he could feel me up and get away with it, because he told me not to tell. I told; he got away with it (my mom didn't want to embarrass his wife).

Needless to say I have mixed feelings about unrestrained childhood. I have three daughters, and have been pretty strict about knowing where they are and who they're with. Has that cramped their style more than decades of fearing men and feeling betrayed by my mom cramped mine? I don't know.

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 01:52 PM:

This reminds me of what my mother said: The fifties were a good tiem to raise children but she didn't want to live in that time again (hindsight, I think: the things that we didn't know about then, adn do now).

I remember walking to school, even in third grade, without worrying about what might possibly happen. My parents didn't have fits if we played outside or went around the block. We couldn't be overscheduled, because there weren't all the programs and organized everything, and I think we were better off without being scheduled all the time. (Once we got to junior high, we were old enough to be considered responsible and to be left at home without a sitter for a weekend.)

#84 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:30 PM:

When I was 10 and 11 I rode a bike to school 1.5 miles away up Westwood Blvd in LA, which was undoubtedly as busy then as it is now. Saturdays I rode a couple of miles along Olympic Blvd to the branch library. Mom was a grad student at UCLA and Dad was overseas; there weren't a lot of alternatives to me getting places on my own, so that's what I did. I don't recall the societal paranoia being as severe back then as it is now, but I'm sure there were just as many (or as few) pedophiles lurking about Los Angeles in the early 60s. She and I were more worried about getting killed by a car.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:40 PM:

When I was a mere lad, I'd walk 2 miles to the parish center for their weekend movie matinees. In the middle of winter. Along the town's busiest street, which had no sidewalk. Crazy? Maybe, but that's how, at the age of nine, my first exposure to Ben Hur was on the Big Screen.

#86 ::: benevolent sockpuppet ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:54 PM:

(Not my usual id, because some things I don't want linked with my online identity, thankewverymuch. TPTB can check my IP if required.)

I was born in 1970, and raised by hippies in my early childhood. Everyone watched the children, and sometimes, no one did. Which is how I ended up in the wrong garage, at about age six, with the wrong (adult) man, at the wrong time. I didn't tell my parents for 14 years, being the strange, private child I was.

But though that was a damaging experience, I think the freedoms that I enjoyed counterbalanced some of the damage. I may not have trusted men, but I trusted myself, having learned to do so while wandering around on my own, unsupervised private errands. I know that my contemporaries benefited from the freedom they got.

What we have now seems to damage all children to save a few of them.

#87 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Serge@85: When I was a mere lad, I'd walk 2 miles to the parish center for their weekend movie matinees. In the middle of winter. Along the town's busiest street, which had no sidewalk.

uphill, both ways.

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Greg London @ 87... But the slope's incline was quite moderate. Both ways.

#89 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Lila at 82, yes, just that.

I have tried to learn the distinction between hypervigilance and reasonable concern; having to use public transportation all my life has helped. Since I don't drive, and since my kids attended a small private school with no transportation, they learned to use the bus and to go out in public safely; this did, more than once, include a "how to recognize and avoid the creeps" talk.

I'm nine years your elder, and the thing we share is that we were assumed to be safe when, in fact, we were not, and that adults closed ranks against us when we complained about it. There has to be a middle point where kids are taught to be safe, and where the social stigma falls on the exploiters.

#90 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 03:30 PM:

I just had some fun w/ Google Earth, measuring distances. When I was six, I was expected to walk .4 miles each way to school, on my own, even if there was a barking collie of whom I was absolutely terrified.

Two years later, after we'd moved, they stopped running the schoolbus near my house, and I would have had to walk one and a quarter miles each way. I'd already had some allergy problems show up, so I was able to change schools to the one whose bus ran right along the back of our yard. Nobody argued that the long walk itself was not safe, just that it was bit bit long for an 8-year-old with sinus problems.

I took the bus on my own to piano lessons.

Half way through junior high, we moved across town; by then I was doing a fair amount of wandering around downtown by myself after school: trips to the library, little shopping expeditions, including to the cigar store that also sold SF. There were probably all sorts of dubious types congregating in there, buying the Racing Form and the less savory magazines, but nobody seemed worried about anything happening to me. (I was a lot more worried personally about the dubious teenagers hanging out at the bakery a couple of doors down.)

We moved again, out of state, and to finish high school, I walked home every day I didn't get a ride with some friend from whatever club was meeting that day; it was just about 2 miles. (I was able to get a ride to school w/ my teacher mother, whose own school was about half a mile away, but it meant always getting there half an hour early.)

I was always encouraged to play outside, or to go over to friends' houses; my parents were far more interested in getting me socialized at almost any cost than they were worried about boogey-men. I was expected to say whose house I was going to, but there was always some slush in the system.

The first time I remember being alone after school was in third grade, when my grandmother, who lived with us, rushed off to be with her sick brother for a couple of weeks. Lectures on not opening the door to strangers, and prohibitions against cooking, in case I caught the house on fire, but certainly not a case for anyone panicking.

Sounds like none of this freedom, which was positively required for me to be able to grow up, is on offer these days. Very depressing. I keep seeing articles in the NYT education supplement and other places about "helicopter parents" who are so into monitoring their children as a lifestyle that they can't stop when the kid goes off to school. I thought, when I was teaching a decade or more ago, that students seemed to be a little less independent than when I were a freshman, but what these articles suggest is downright scary.

#91 ::: mysterious hatmaker ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Similar situation to #86, although I don't post often at all.

As a response, too, my parents were fairly attentive during my childhood. Meeting the fifteen-year-old kid across the street, I quickly became friends with him. Over a period of months, he began moving our hangouts into more and more secluded areas, which culminated with him playing 'doctor' in the basement of my house. My parents were upstairs.

After that happened, my parents clamped down tight (understandably, I think.) I had a 'safe zone' which I was restricted to outside of school. It took me a while to be comfortable visiting people at their homes outside of school, because in my mind I was outside THE ZONE, and as such extremely nervous.

Even though most of my childhood was lonely and awkward, I find it hard to fault my parents for their actions. I certainly wouldn't do the same as them, having had to live through it, but they did their best in an extremely difficult situation.

That outlook, though, the 'be afraid of going outside and experiencing things because you might get hurt' attitude, is one that I've been fighting ever since.

That's what I lament most about this attitude towards child-raising - not that kids won't be able to explore, but that they'll be too afraid. Like I was.

#92 ::: mysterious hatmaker ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 03:38 PM:

This would have been in the nineties, by the way.

#93 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 04:11 PM:

The media blitz on "safety" is not just about kids and aimed at parents.* The treatment of the risks of perscription medicines has caused several very useful drugs to be taken out of use, when simply monitoring the risks would have allowed those who need them to use them at no risk to those who don't.

As an example, my partner is currently trying (and only partly succeeding) to deal with not having the one medicine that can ameliorate her acid reflux without severe side-effects (as in killer migraines from Hell, or massive stomach cramps). The drug was removed from the market because of a risk of heart problems that the manufacturer did not disclose in a timely fashion. Every doctor we've talked to says that the drug simply needs to be prescribed more carefully, and that it will be returned to the market once the FDA and the manufacturer have agreed on new warnings and patient selection criteria, but no one can say how long that will take. In the meantime, there are days when Eva doesn't get to do much but wait for the pain to go away. And she doesn't get to say that she would rather risk heart problems than the throat cancer that she is assured the acid will ultimately cause.

Much as I agree that this atmosphere of fear** is much worse than in past decades, I see parallels in some attitudes that have been prevalent in America for some time. The distrust of the FDA and Big Pharma has been well-earned, but it seems to have metastasized into a fear of any medical risk, even when the benefit might be high. The same situation occurred in the 70's, when attitudes started turned against nuclear power in the US. The nuclear energy industry earned a good part of that, with a poor record for reliability, lack of adherence to safety standards, and a willingness to cut corners to add to their profits. The resultant terror of nuclear technology in general was an overreaction that left us with fewer short-term options when dealing with climate change became a politically non-suicidal position.


* Though as many here have pointed out, raising fears for our children has become a major industry. I may have mentioned before that one of our local TV stations has taken to putting all sexual offender stories at the beginning of the newscast, to the exclusion of all other news that doesn't involve violent death.

** the "Deimosphere"?

#94 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 04:20 PM:

in April of this year, Bruce Schneier posted an excerpt about child abduction here. To quote:

rates of child abduction and sexual abuse have marched steadily downward since the early 1990s, fear of these crimes is at an all-time high. ... A child is almost as likely to be struck by lightning as kidnapped by a stranger, but it's not fear of lightning strikes that parents cite as the reason for keeping children indoors

#95 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 04:50 PM:

I don't find that it's fear of abduction or sexual abuse that is my biggest worry. I'm neither married nor divorced and have no exes who might want to snatch my kid. I've no boyfriend or creepy uncle who might fondle her (well, I do have a creepy uncle, but he's creepy for other reasons).

I'm most afraid of stupidity. The sort of stupidity that gets a teenager only a few years older than my child run over and killed at a nearby intersection because she was being chased by a group of slightly older teenagers who ran her into the street. Why didn't she run into the drugstore on that corner? Because that store has a policy of asking teens to leave because the store is afraid of shoplifting, so she didn't feel it was a safe haven.

The high school near us runs triple shift and there are large groups of teens on the street at several of the times when my kid would by walking around/hanging out, and because I've had my own less-than-pleasant run-ins with those kids and I'm a lot older, bigger, and more capable of making a hell of a lot of noise than my 11-yo.

Because there are weirdos everywhere--not abusers, not criminals, just weirdos--and there are days when we run into them endlessly. Like the LOL in the supermarket last night who chastised me and dd over the kid's outfit (long black tank top and short skort, 3 strings of black beads, 1 airbrush tattoo of a sea turtle, 1 stick-on tattoo of a heart punctured by a knife, crossed by a banner that reads, "I love the Dewey Decimal System") on the grounds that dd was showing too much skin (um, it's July, and bare arms and legs are not too much skin).

She doesn't have a good repertoire of responses to these things yet. Heck, there are times when I don't have good responses, like the morning some asshole nearly wanked off into my hair (he was standing and I was seated) on the subway before I realized what he was doing and Got Loud. I know that until she experiences some of it, she won't develop good responses. So it's a tough line to walk.

And I'm nowhere near as bad as many of the parents I know, who truly are helicopter parents.

#96 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 04:54 PM:

On the supervision thing, I ran across an interesting recent paper in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: "Parent Opinions About the Appropriate Ages at Which Adult Supervision Is Unnecessary for Bathing, Street Crossing, and Bicycling". Looks at means, typical variation and ethnic variation in a 2004 telephone survey of 954 Colorado households. Reported means were 6.6 for bathing, 9.0 for crossing a busy street, and 12.2 for bicycling in a busy street. Notable variations: "Hispanic white" famlilies tended to raise the limits by about a year, and families with risky drivers or drinkers tended to lower the limits.

The full article is at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/161/7/656
(may be behind a subscription wall; I can't easily tell from here.)

#97 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:08 PM:

The media frequently mention that most (I don't have a figure) child abuse is done by people the child already knows, as descibed by some posters here. I sometimes wonder whether the obsession with 'stranger danger' is a displacement, looking the other way.

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:12 PM:

P J Evans #15: Another case of projection, then.

#99 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:17 PM:

I have to admit that I've never, ever watched Fox News.

Does anyone understand why people turn it on? I mean, is it better (apparent) quality than ABC news - though that wouldn't be difficult - or CNN, or whatever? Why do people pick that channel for their news?
Maybe it's the other way round - they're not right-wing-obsessives because they watch Fox, they watch Fox because they're right-wing-obsessives already and it feeds their prejudices?

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:21 PM:

Meg Thornton #43: True, so is Sky News, so are the Murdoch-owned papers in the US and the UK (though the Times is a bit more restrained (well, a lot more restrained and dignified than the Sun).

#101 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:23 PM:

Howard Pierce: She didn't believe me. My own mother did not believe me. She believes Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. She's never since acknowledged that our conversation took place, and she's still a loyal Fox viewer and Bush apologist. Our relationship has never fully recovered.

I've had a similar experience with my father. About five years ago, he stopped coming to San Francisco to visit, not even to see his only grandson. In his case, it's Rush "the Oxycontin Whorehopper" Limbaugh and various other chat-show charlatans who are even more extreme. We don't talk anymore, after we had a blow-up over some side-issues related to his tobacco addiction.

You don't want to know what were the last words he said to me.

Bill O'Reilly lies to old people and tears apart families.

It's not just Billo, but he's certainly one of the leading examples of the archetype. How many families must be torn apart this way before the media companies who promote these monsters will be shamed into correcting themselves?

#102 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:27 PM:

John Stanning @ #97: I would say you're right. People refuse to see what's obvious in front of them, and don't want to deal with it. The psychology of abuse and all the people involved is really interesting, but probably not appropriate here.

"Stranger Danger" brings the discussion back to the heart of what PNH originally posted, the promulgation of the "People that are different than me want to hurt me" meme.

My occasional reply to the fearmongering is to say "Oh my goodness, that is awful. We need to get some concrete details and examples so this travesty can be dealt with." Somehow, no one can ever find me a genuine example.

#103 ::: Ema ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:36 PM:

There was some burble here (Australia) in the schools about safe ages for children to walk to school by themselves a couple of years ago: they claimed that until kids are 12 they can't be relied upon to cross roads safely. That seems a bit old to me, and I certainly recall going for long bike rides by myself when I was 10 and 11 (prior to that we lived in the city, both my parents worked and were highly protective of me).

Now that I too have moved to the country I'm more relaxed about letting the kids go places by themselves (the oldest one at least. The two younger ones live mostly with their father and never, as far as I can make out, go outside), but as has been observed above, it's not that I'm frightened of them being abducted, I'm afraid of them not paying attention, or of not having the resources to cope in a difficult situation (house burning down, nasty older boys etc) and as was also observed above, the risks are low, but the consequences so unspeakable.

I'm really thrilled by how responsible and capable my oldest boy is getting, though. A year of owning a bike and riding it to school on his own, and biking around more or less at will has been of real benefit to him, I think. It is hard to let go, especially if you live somewhere where there are more serious results if the kid makes a mistake.

#104 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:42 PM:

John @99, people watch Fox "News" because, well, some because they're right-wingers actively seeking out a news source that agrees with them, but others because Fox is loud and brightly colored. Fox anchors editorialize far more often than most news anchors do, and some people like being told how they should feel about what they're hearing. And Fox is entertaining -- it has lively personalities who put on little acts to amuse the viewers.

Keep in mind that Fox is only the most popular cable news station, and even that depends on how you read the statistics. (Fox has more viewers at any particular moment, while CNN has the most unique viewers.) Compared to broadcast stations, it's not even as popular as PBS.

Fox also had a big ratings slump last year.

#105 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:44 PM:

#49 dcb:

I think you're right about that. In fact, one thing about more channels, CDs, DVDs, cable/satellite, and the net is that is gives everyone a *lot* of choices. Which means that:

a. Two people living next door can have completely different media inputs to their life.

I will routinely go a week without watching *any* TV, I will watch CNN or Fox or MSNBC only if there's immediate interesting breaking news, and I get some fraction of my news from outside-the-US, non-English sources and the rest mostly from the net. My next door neighbor may get 90% Fox news, or may get all his news from the NYT and Washington Post, or may watch one of the networks' evening news shows. And they both may watch TV dramas involving the Burning Scary Issue of the Week, whether that's terrorists or child molestors or identity thieves or something else. We really do live in different worlds, with different accepted truth and reality.

b. These choices create feedback loops, which can be damned dangerous. Start spouting plausible nonsense, and maybe the smart and informed people leave for better channels. Then, there is even less brake on spouting nonsense--what's plausible to your audience has become broader.

And people evaluate new evidence in terms of existing beliefs--things that contradict previous ideas or beliefs tend to need much stronger evidence to be believed, be less likely to be remembered, be more likely to be dismissed as "biased" or "nutty" or "flawed." The result is that the ideas can get crazier and crazier. I suspect this is an underlying process in cults, but also in creating movements full of "true believers." Only in this case, you're doing it to yourself--it's not the government banning left-wing stations or your cult leader forbidding them, it's just you deciding to stop reading them, so you don't ever see anything to contradict your beliefs.

There's a lot of this out there. People who want to become well-informed on almost any issue can do so. People who want to know what radically different ideas are out there can find out. And people who want nothing but stuff that agrees with their assumptions can do that, too. These are all feedback loops, that allow people living next door to one another, with different starting interests, to diverge in amazing ways.

It seems like older people, and especially retirees/shut-ins, are more vulnerable to the influence of media of various kinds. They're likely to have less interaction with the wider world, and more interaction with the one-way pipe from Fox News or CNN or whomever else.

#106 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:51 PM:

John Stanning #97:

I think this must be instinctive, because I see it *everywhere* when people start thinking about security. It's always about "them" (outsiders), never "us." Even though the biggest risks in most systems come from insiders.

The usual answer to "there are bad people out there" seems to be "let's build a great big wall with the bad people outside and the good people inside." And it almost never works, but people just really love building security that way.

I'll bet if you had a newspaper blitz of covering mass shootings in the school or office, or drunken abusive husbands shooting their wives, you'd see sales of door locks and alarm systems going up. It's just the way people are wired.

#107 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Flippanter (57), can you name even one "punk-rockin' blogtastic progressive" who believes that stuff? Do you think anyone here hates people for being "bourgeois" or "heternormative"?

If you want to accept Fox News just as it is, that's your moral choice beforehand, and your responsibility afterward. What's going on here has nothing to do with it.

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:07 PM:

albatross @ 106

The gated-and-guarded 'communities' (read: subdivisions) - where the folks next door may be drug dealers, but you won't know until they're arrested, because they're not doing it right there in front of you. After all, they look just like everyone else, right down to the leased luxury car in the driveway.

#109 ::: Flippanter ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:12 PM:

107: Those were jokes. I thought that the tone, although mildly ironic, would come through a bit more clearly as one of both relief (that my family and friends have not caused me immeasurable hurt and alienation for the sake of a misguided faith in Fox News) and regret (that I have not had occasion, and lack the inclination, to mount a personal campaign against the warmongering infomercial). To avoid future misunderstandings, is there an HTML tag for this?

#110 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Flippanter @ 109

Well, you can do things like [/sarcasm] at the end. (Note that you need the square brackets to keep the system from trying to parse it as a real tag.)
[/helpful programmer]

#111 ::: Flippanter ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:25 PM:

110: To be fair, nobody wants to hear a sarcastic answer when they ask "friend or foe?"

#112 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 06:27 PM:

John Stanning @99; my theory is that Fox News is the High Fructose Corn Sweetner of basic cable news channels. Bad for you, and addictive, into the bargain.

#113 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Stefan 28: I really want to get a whole lot of people in Guy Fawkes masks to march on the White House on Guy Fawkes day.

Dubya wouldn't get it, but there are those who would.

Jon 61, Sisuile 63, Avram 65: What they really weeded out was 29,000 people whose given names and locations matched those of registered sex offenders. MySpace says "We got the ones who were using their own names." Some of them, yes, but also a bunch of people who happened to have the same name (I wasn't the only Christopher Hatton in Hoboken for a few years there) and also some kids who put up MySpace profiles with the names and locs of registered sex offenders because they think it's cool to be scawy. I've actually seen that one happen.

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Stefan 28: I really want to get a whole lot of people in Guy Fawkes masks to march on the White House on Guy Fawkes day.

Dubya wouldn't get it, but there are those who would.

Jon 61, Sisuile 63, Avram 65: What they really weeded out was 29,000 people whose given names and locations matched those of registered sex offenders. MySpace says "We got the ones who were using their own names." Some of them, yes, but also a bunch of people who happened to have the same name (I wasn't the only Christopher Hatton in Hoboken for a few years there) and also some kids who put up MySpace profiles with the names and locs of registered sex offenders because they think it's cool to be scawy. I've actually seen that one happen.

#115 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Friends are good.

#116 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:02 PM:

I swear to you I only clicked Post ONCE.

#117 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:08 PM:

#91, After that happened, my parents clamped down tight (understandably, I think.) I had a 'safe zone' which I was restricted to outside of school.

I had only mild trouble as a child -- some bullying, some fighting, some run-ins with idiots which I, being shy, found extremely disturbing -- but I never told my parents any of that, because I feared that they would react just like you describe: Punish me for something that was done to me, not by me. I had a lot of freedom and I cherished it. Better to protect a bully and keep my freedom than complain and lose it.

Which is, thinking about it, bad enough if it's about bullies. Replace the bullies with predators and it gets really nasty.

#118 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Avram @18: I can quote FBI statistics showing that child abductions have decreased over the past couple of decades

Considering that, it can be easily argued that the numbers are that low because children are locked up these days...

On the original (or Perstein) post: I have made the experience that catching a twisted image of the world can happen quite quickly. One week of visiting my grand-aunt was enough to make me nervous at the train station when I left. (I took that as an excuse to treat myself to a day in the city after such visits, to re-adjust my perception.) Makes me wonder about what else one picks up too fast to notice...


#119 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Avram @18: I can quote FBI statistics showing that child abductions have decreased over the past couple of decades

Considering that, it can be easily argued that the numbers are that low because children are locked up these days...

On the original (or Perstein) post: I have made the experience that catching a twisted image of the world can happen quite quickly. One week of visiting my grand-aunt was enough to make me nervous at the train station when I left. (I took that as an excuse to treat myself to a day in the city after such visits, to re-adjust my perception.) Makes me wonder about what else one picks up too fast to notice...


#120 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Sorry for the double post. My computer is running erratically today.

#121 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:27 PM:

albatross @ #106, PJ @ #108: The Masque of the Red Death comes to mind. Poe knew that the problem with trying to wall all the dangerous stuff out is what you're walling in with you.

I have also heard tales, though I don't have reliable citations, of emergency vehicles being unable to get into gated communities.

#122 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Serge #85: During my teens I had to walk five miles to catch the school bus, three of them on unpaved roads, and there were certainly no paved walkways. And I had to do this in all weathers in mountain country. Granted, all weathers in a tropical country does not generally (or at any time) include snow. However, walking five miles under a tropical depression is rather disheartening....(On the other hand, when it wasn't raining I read as long as I had light -- this was considered odd behaviour by many people.)

#123 ::: Ralph Robert Moore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:39 PM:

Our parents may appall us as they get older, spending most of their days indoors, watching FOX news, to where Bill O'Reilly is their best friend, but if that is what they choose to do, I say, God bless them.

Politics is important, but it's incredibly insignificant compared to loving our mothers and fathers. I don't want to "convert" someone who's in their eighties. I want to listen respectfully to what they have to say, no matter how much what they have to say diverges from my own political beliefs. Let's not become so intolerant of beliefs different from our own that we banish our own parents.

If my mom believes abortion is a sin, or my dad thinks gays shouldn't be allowed to marry, I say absolutely nothing.

Politics, ultimately, is the least important aspect of life. If the most important dynamic in your life is politics, rather than love, you're fucked up.

#124 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:49 PM:

#123: Holy false dichotomy, Batman! I hadn't realize love for one's parents and discussion of politics were mutually exclusive.

Also, I don't recall anyone banishing their parents or otherwise behaving intolerantly. (Actually, in each of the stories, it reads like the parents are behaving intolerantly of their children's political views.)

In any case, if my dad told me that he didn't think gays should be allowed to marry. My first response would have to be to ask how he could hold such hate for me in his heart. I'd only ask because of the love I hold for him in my heart.

#125 ::: Euan H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Long time lurker here. Usually I just read the posts and nod my head, but this sentence. . .

"If “the arc of history bends toward justice,” it’s only because people got up off their behinds and started bending it for themselves."

. . . made me want to post agreement. That's absolutely true. The future's only going to be better if we make it better. The rest state of politics is tyranny, not justice.

#126 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Ralph Robert Moore @123,

If I have a question about your comment, are you going to be back here to discuss it?

#127 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 08:36 PM:

ISTM that RRM's comment was the inverse of the opening of this thread. Family is more important than politics in nearly every case (note that civil wars sometimes split families). Political commentators and movements that can't distinguish between "people with whom I disagree" and "people who are evil" run into problems with that. That's not only a phenomenon of the right, but it certainly is a prominent part of the right on radio and TV. And it has been for quite some time--back just after Moses came down the mountain, I would sometimes listen to Rush Limbaugh in the car, and be endlessly frustrated by the smearing tactics he would use.

#128 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:05 PM:

I've lived almost all my life without television. My parents didn't own a television until I was 9. When I left home at 17 I didn't have one. I've been pretty much television free ever since, with the exception of 3 - 4 years in Albuquerque, and while we lived in New Orleans, and in hotel rooms -- I surf madly and cannot stop and settle on anything. I do watch dvds of shows like Firefly and Buffy and lots and lots of BBC serials though -- on my monster large computer terminal.

That period of a big television with cable in New Orleans was a shock and a half to the system. I felt I was getting caught up with America and it was not a good thing.

Television has become the most effective tool of propaganda ever -- just as films began and continued to be -- and were intended from the beginning to be, as shows up in film history. Birth of a Nation accomplished its objectives brilliantly, setting us back again for another 50 - 60 years, revitalizing the Ku Klux Klan and re-writing history.

And here we've gone and done it again.

Love, C.

#129 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:10 PM:

In defense of us neurotic parents (and we do deserve some of the hit we take for being paranoid about our kids - I was walking to school without a parent about six years before we let our kid walk home alone, and we don't live in a famously flaky urban center) if you're paying any attention at all, you've seen the feeding frenzies that take place regularly when something bad happens to a child - up to thirteen or fourteen - who was not under direct parental supervision, and the parent is not just pilloried but charged with neglect and threatened with lost custody.

There was a story in one of our local papers a few months ago about a mother who lost custody because her house was messy (and there were pictures - we're not talking unsanitary, just messy).

Not all of the risks are imaginary.

#130 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:23 PM:

To everyone blanket-condemning television as a tool of right-wing conservatism: Have you noticed that the first American generation raised watching television grew up to transform the country with liberal politics?

#131 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Flippanter @109: I'd always hoped that the <fe> tag would catch on, and your original post was a perfect example of why.

Lila @121: I lived in a gated community back in the 90s. My husband (then-boyfriend) had a heart attack and I called to get an ambulance. As soon as I hung up the phone with 911, I called the front gate to tell them that the EMTs were on their way. They asked, "Should we let them in?"

I guess that they're supposed to ask that, but still...

Why I chose a gated community is covered in much of these comments. We lived there while the kid was ages 6-11, when I thought he should be able to run wild, but actually letting him do so would be considered child endangerment. Inside a gated community, though, it's considered okay to let your kid ride his bike by himself or be out until dinner time (gasp!). It was the most freedom I could actually give him at the time, and I don't regret it at all.

#132 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Lila @ 121

I notice that a lot of automatic gates have boxes marked 'Fire' so they can get through without having to break in.

Avram @ 130

I don't think we watched as much as now. For one thing - they didn't broadcast 24/7 then. Also, there were real controls on what could be shown and said - the 'seven words' were real, not just a comedy routine.
Most people over 50 will remember that you were pretty much limited in your choices: 12 channels max (a major metropolitan area might have five or six channels), for a long time (2-13), three networks, no cable, no satellite, no PBS. No mobile camera vans, and no camera helicopters (no police chases shown live, either).

#133 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:18 PM:

PJ @132 -- So you're saying, what, that Americans are getting all reactionary because there's more sex and cursing on TV?

#134 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:26 PM:

One of the oddest experiences I have when visiting older-generation family is that I find that I'm by far the most conservative person there, by which I mean I am not in favor of immediately nationalizing all industry.

When my great-grandfather died, the one possession I requested was his bust of Eugene Debs, which had been in a place of honor on his living room table as long as I had been alive.

#135 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Avram, the old folks are getting worse input because the news networks feel they need to report constantly and there ain't enough news in the world unless you report EVERYTHING.


And if they decide they like the message of noreilly or that comedian Rush Limbaugh, they're going to get the most negative drumbeat of all.

That's why I'm glad my mom watches what she watches, as I mentioned early in this thread. News makes her anxious so she just doesn't watch it.

#136 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Avram, the old folks are getting worse input because the news networks feel they need to report constantly and there ain't enough news in the world unless you report EVERYTHING.


And if they decide they like the message of noreilly or that comedian Rush Limbaugh, they're going to get the most negative drumbeat of all.

That's why I'm glad my mom watches what she watches, as I mentioned early in this thread. News makes her anxious so she just doesn't watch it.

#137 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:16 PM:

P J Evans @ 132-- Hey, we *still* have no more than 12 TV channels-- the ones we can get over the air with our rooftop antenna. That's plenty for us. We decided we didn't really need the 24-hour-news noise, the skanky music videos, and the like, even if it was free, let alone if we had to pay for it every month. For us, it's a happy medium between going without and opening the floodgates.

But, taking everything into account, it's still a lot more choice than the old days. Because now, without cable, we can still get news whenever we want-- we just go online. And if we want to see a movie, or check out some cable series that sounds good, we can rent it from the local video store, which has movies and TV series DVDs. (Sports? Well, there's less of a selection without cable, but if we really want to see an event that's only on cable-- which doesn't happen very often for us-- there's always the neighborhood bar or a friend's house.)

This way, less comes in by default, and we can be proactive about what additional media we want to admit. It seems to work well for us, as a happy medium between TV banishment and far-too-much-video-garbage.

#138 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Avram at #130 and #133:

Let's not forget that the Reagan administration did away with the Fairness Doctrine.

Broadcasters used to be required to "air both sides of a controversial issue".

When that requirement was removed, the corporations that own the networks were given a free hand to turn the broadcast media into blatant propaganda ministries. So it's not actually surprising that the media environment of the '50s - with its charter to "serve the public interest" - differs from the media environment of the 21st century.


#139 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:41 PM:

If my mom believes abortion is a sin, or my dad thinks gays shouldn't be allowed to marry, I say absolutely nothing.

Since, after all, those are not issues that affect you or your life in any way, and therefore are no more than affectionate differences of opinion that you can safely brush aside. They're merely "politics", and if your parents' opinions and voting choices make a difference--hey! Not in your life, baby. Who cares?

#140 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Avram @18: I can quote FBI statistics showing that child abductions have decreased over the past couple of decades

Oh noes! It's Shark Attack Season! Everybody Panic!!

#141 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:41 AM:

Howard Peirce@64: Wow, I'm impressed by that analysis. Truly the prophet is without honor is his own country.

Faren Miller@74: Hear, hear!

P J Evans@110: If you really want the HTML look of the angle brackets, you can use the tag &lt; to get a < and likewise &gt; to get a >. I.e., you type &lt;this&gt; to get <this>.

#142 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:41 AM:

Earl @ #140, Shortly after 9/11 it occurred to me to wonder what the networks and cable had been obsessing about in the week before the attack; somebody reminded me it was Gary Condit and the missing intern. Interspersed with shark attacks.

#143 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Actually, thinking about it, that "i.e." probably should have been an "e.g.".

#144 ::: Pablo Defendini ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 02:01 AM:

I've only had cable TV in my home once, for a period of about six months. After I caught myself re-arranging my home office so that I could work and watch it all the time (usually CNN or the History Channel, but still....), I realized that this was a problem. I got rid of the cable subscription. This was a approximately six years ago (yup, right around or after 9/11, come to think of it), and I haven't looked back since.

John Mark @137: Having to be proactive about your viewing choices is definitely the way to go. Much better signal-to-noise ratio, and nowadays with things like video podcasts, Netflix, and BT, combined with good ol' word of mouth, I discover great content to watch on TV. I just don't use the TV as a time-wasting device like I did before I got rid of cable: if I have something to watch, I watch it. If not, the TV's off (or in use by one of my hardcore gamer roomates O_o). Although I'll still have "where did my Saturday afternoon go?" moments sometimes, especially when I'm watching a complete TV series or something, it's certainly not the huge time vacuum it used to be, or that it seems to be for most people.

#145 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 02:32 AM:

Julia #129, it's always hard to draw a line in that sort of intrusiveness, but there does seem to be far more of those in authority poking their noses under the tent-flap. And if something goes wrong, such as a child killed by abusive parents, the people who "should have noticed" get raked over the coals by those blessed with 20/20 hindsight.

And when you're a non-standard household--we're people who have books--it's a little hard to shrug off such things.

(I've been in a fannish house when one of the neighbour's kids came in--books are strange things to many people.)


#146 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 03:10 AM:

All this talk about TV had me thinking--when I was a kid, we had a TV with dials, and four channels. 3, 4, something, and "U."

On free-range kiddos; my mom once told me to be home by dark, and while I was out playing at a friend's house, here came our car. I said I "lost track of time," which meant I knew exactly what time it was, but was rationalizing where exactly "dark" happened, because I wasn't ready to go home. After chewing me out for several minutes from the street, she got back in the car and drove home to wait for me.

#147 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Mythago #139:

Some of us disagree on rather fundamental issues with people we love, without deciding that we must break off relations with them over the disagreement. It seems at least ungenerous to assume (as you seem to be doing) that this means we don't care about those issues, or that this is just because these issues don't affect us.

#148 ::: Nuala ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 04:56 AM:

Talking of sharks and politicans, this is a great story of a British politician totally missing the difference between a panic and a real danger.

#149 ::: Ralph Robert Moore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 05:15 AM:

JC at #123: If you're gay and your dad told you he didn't think gays should marry, I would certainly understand how that would upset you, since he's not accepting an important aspect of who you are, but I don't believe that means he has "hate for me in his heart." He's just old-fashioned, and set in his ways.

Kathryn at #126: I've visited this site many times, usually at least once a day, so please ask me any question you like.

Albatross at #127: I agree with you that some people demonize those who hold opinions different from their own, but I think it's a phenomenon of the left as well. There's a certain type of personality that cannot tolerate people who disagree with them, and it's always seemed to me it has nothing to do with where they fall on the political spectrum. (I've never listened to Rush Limbaugh, but I have listened occasionally to similar commentators on the radio, so I know what you mean about frustration.)

#150 ::: John S. Quarterman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 06:02 AM:

@74 It's OK to rant, but not to give up hope. I look back at the half of the 20th century where I *wasn't* around, and I'm amazed that humankind survived at all, yet here we are....

When you weren't around, a lot of people went to a lot of trouble and risk to stop people like McCarthy. If we don't do the same, people like Bush and Cheney and O'Reilly will continue to subvert the government and frighten people out of their wits so they can stay in control. It's all very well to say Bush's popularity is tanking, but he's still in control of the military with time left to invade Iran; he's still got political commissars running every department and agency (you thought maybe Gonzalez was an exception?); he's already got a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. This stuff won't go away even when he does.

How about it's OK to rant, but it's not OK to pretend there's not really anything badly wrong and to do nothing?

Sure, there's hope: if we create it.

#151 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 06:23 AM:

@Howard Peirce: That's as clear and pithy a summary as I've seen anywhere. Thankyou.

#152 ::: John S. Quarterman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 06:47 AM:

@99 Why do people watch Fox?

Because Fox most consistently uses the visual immediacy of television to play directly to emotions, not intellect. It isn't what they say that grabs people; it's how they say it. See Al Gore's book, The Assault on Reason, for how this works.

It's part of the 40 year and continuing right wing reframing of everything as scary and only Republicans as capable of fighting off those nasty terrorists and those even scarier socialist democrats.

For how to reframe things to build real hope of opportunity, peace, and diversity, try this:

http://scholarsandrogues.wordpress.com/2007/07/31/reframing-the-republican-lie-about-wealth-in-america/

#153 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 08:57 AM:

J Austin @ # 146, I like your mom.

#154 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 09:11 AM:

#149: I'm glad that you know my Dad so well that you can tell me things I don't know about him. However, I believe all of the stories to which you reacted to in this thread were about people who changed their views due to what they saw on TV, not about people who were set in their ways. With that in mind, I have a hard time seeing how your comment at #123 applies at all. In any case, I refer you back to #139.

I still think you ought to watch out for those false dichotomies. They give your comments an edge which I hope you don't actually intend.

#155 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 09:24 AM:

Ralph@149: If you're gay and your dad told you he didn't think gays should marry, I would certainly understand how that would upset you, since he's not accepting an important aspect of who you are, but I don't believe that means he has "hate for me in his heart." He's just old-fashioned, and set in his ways.

The short definition for "love" is "to accept".
The short definition for "hate" is "to reject".

It would seem that if the father rejects the son for being gay, that would qualify as hate. If the father rejects gays the right to marry, then he is rejecting the son the same equality that he willingly grants heterosexuals, which means, at the very least, he hates that part of his sons life.

Calling this "old fashioned" is a rather thin veneer.

#156 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 09:34 AM:

JC, Greg and others... May I suggest ignoring RRM? Nothing that you say will change his mind because he is not interested in anything that you have to say, but he is interested in poking you and watching you react. That's how his kind gets its jollies.

#157 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 09:47 AM:

John S. Quarterman @ 150

And some of the reason we're still around is just luck. Sometimes it's luck that someone who refused to let the tide roll on was able to stop it at a critical point*. But you can't depend on luck because when it deserts you, you'll have nothing to fall back on.

IMO, the comparison of current events in Washington with the McCarthy witch trials is misleading. McCarthy had a great deal of influence, but nothing like the power to control large agencies of the Executive Branch; he tried to take on the Army and got swatted. Bush had control of two of the three branches of government and was going for the trifecta when the last election lost him control (but not influence) over the legislature. And in the meantime, he got the Supremes, which may take a generation to undo. And Bush has had more than 6 years in which to consolidate control of many agencies by installing political officers**

Oh, you can sit back and let everyone else deal with the problem, [sarcasm] as they will, because they always have [/sarcasm], but what if they're all waiting for you to do it?

* Like Colonel Stanislav Petrov of the Soviet Rocket Force, who, in 1979 did not pass information about a supposed US nuclear strike (which he knew to be non-existent) against the USSR, against standing orders and, ultimately, to the detriment of all his career plans. There sbould be statue of him in a prominent place in every large city in the Northern Hemisphere.

** No hyperbole, they really are reminiscent of the Stalinist Politbureau agents of the 40s and 50s. Compare the attempt to control publication about global warming, or evolution, with the Lysenko debacle, for instance.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 10:13 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 157... what if they're all waiting for you to do it?

That's why I worked for Howard Dean's campaign in 2004.

#159 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 10:22 AM:

John S. Quarterman (#150): Yes, it takes strong activists to nourish hope. That did need saying, but I also think that introverts who do no more than vote against tyranny -- my type of people -- shouldn't give in to despair or crippling paranoia.

(Even when I'm least hopeful for the human race, I can remind myself that life returned after that asteroid put paid to the dinosaurs. Some scientific knowledge *can* come in handy!)

#160 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Faren Miller @ 159

I agree with you; some people can't, for one reason or another, get out on the barricades, but there's usually something they can do to help, if only to vote against the tide. What concerns me is that its easy to dismiss valid concerns about the onset of autocracy as paranioa. Timing is all-important; wait too long to react to the oncoming predator, and you're lunch. The difference between my grandparents and some of their relatives, whose names I will never know, is that my family got out of Eastern Europe before the First World War. I know of one great-uncle who survived conscription in the Czar's army, but I don't know how many didn't.

#161 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 12:00 PM:

I've considered getting rid of cable and living entirely on netflix and the internet, but there's one thing that stops me; one thing I feel like people are forgetting when they say they can get all the worthwhile television on DVD.

The Daily Show.

That's the only program I actually watch every time it airs, when I can. The Colbert Report is good too... but the Daily Show will always be my first love. I've been watching it since it first aired, and it's only gotten steadily better.

Really, comedy central in general is the one reason I can't give up cable. Without clever commentary and stand-up, I'd feel a lot more alone. Although I did once shut off an HBO comedy special because the comedian stated that Bush was definitely not our worst president ever, and that people who believed so were exaggerating.

#162 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 12:40 PM:

Lila@153,
Yeah, I think I'll keep her.

#163 ::: Jon Marcus ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 12:45 PM:

BillO is pretty vile, but he's small beer compared to some of the scum that got on early radio. Remember Father Coughlin? He had to be forced off the air by use of tricks that I'd object to if they were pulled on a group like...Air America, for instance.

Would such manuvers be justified against O'Reilly et al? (Assuming an executive willing to use them, of course.)

#164 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Fux News, of the dollars dreadfuls.

Meanwhile, there's the head of the Stasi, Alberto Gonzales--or maybe the Chief Inquisitor, for something more Hispanic?

The King of Spain directed the Inquisition supposedly....

#165 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:09 PM:

>BillO is pretty vile, but he's small beer compared to some of the scum that got on early radio. Remember Father Coughlin? He had to be forced off the air by use of tricks that I'd object to if they were pulled on a group like...Air America, for instance.

>Would such manuvers be justified against O'Reilly et al? (Assuming an executive willing to use them, of course.)

What tricks? Who would have to perform them. Because if they need Fox executives to perform them, you'd better add "and a pony".

#166 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Follow the money trail,
Follow the money trail
Rupert Murdoch he's a-spying
To ev'ry eye he's lying
Follow the money trail.

Follow the money trail
Follow the money trail
All the advertising paying
Ev'ry truth has gone astraying
Follow the money trail

Follow the money trail,
Don't follow the fake true Grail.
Boycott those who pay
Ads put Fux News into play,
Buy the competitions' products each day!

Follow the money trail
Follow the money trail
Sold the Aussies out for dollars,
Now on us he's put slave collars,
Follow the money trail.

Follow the money trail
Follow the money trail
Rupert Murdoch is but one
And the evil that he's done
Throw him and Cheney and Bush in jail.

The bottom line one of values and values clashes--it's not aggressive seizure and redistribution and grown of assets in the upper one percent, the economic elite, and wealth worship going on, it's also power and control and fame and attention....

Why do people want money, some hoard it for hoarding money's sake, other accumulate it because the social values put a Wealthy Person up in Highly Respected and Deferred to and able to get other people to provide them with what the Rich Person wants territory, versus little/lesser/no power, no control, no ability to make other provide one with respect, luxuries, special perks, deference, invitations, welcomes, etc.

Fux News is selling direct and indirect lifestyles--advertising promotes products as Lifestyle or result of lifestyle or driver of lifestyle. Use V**gr* you will be ecstatically happy and fulfilled! Buy beer, get a carful of sex kittens who'll copulate with you on that V**gr*. Buy Security Products--you need them because the world is a Too Dangerous Place. Listen I/l D/u/c/e the Schmuck and follow him because if you don't all those Islamic Peril people are going to castrate you and turn into into a sissy-wussy repulsive homosexual male castrato... Fear, fear, fear, uncertainty, deceit, you're not a Real Person with hairspray/lipstick/Viagra/Mountain Dew/insurance/....

Fearful scared people go on buying sprees, to stock up and hoard for the coming storm or the storm that's getting worse....

#167 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Fear, fear, fear, uncertainty, deceit, you're not a Real Person with hairspray/lipstick/Viagra/Mountain Dew/insurance/....

should be

Fear, fear, fear, uncertainty, deceit, you're not a Real Person without hairspray/lipstick/Viagra/Mountain Dew/insurance/....

#169 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Sorry, /Washington Post/Wall Street Journal/

#170 ::: Paula Liebernan ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Citizen Murdoch

Can somebody please get a picture of him toking?

#171 ::: Pablo Defendini ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 01:48 PM:

@ Leah Miller #161:

I also love The Daily Show & Colbert Report. Since I don't have cable, I download it via BitTorrent (*gasp* I know, I know: piracy, yarr, whatever). I grab it via an rss feed, so that I have the previous night's episode waiting for me at home when I get in from work. If you're technically inclined so as to get it all set up, it works beautifully.

If you want to pay for it, or not go through the hassle of setting up the feed, there's always iTunes, too.

#172 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 02:49 PM:

So, at the same blood donation center where I previously described passing out because I hadn't eaten, they were always showing Fox News on the TV in the cookies-and-juice room.

Even at the time, I suspected that this was a ruse to raise my blood pressure back to a normal range.

#173 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Caroline @172

That's when you rely on the TV B Gone's more annoying younger brother: the ninja remote.

While less reliable than the TV B Gone, if you're somewhere where the TV is on for a reason, it sometimes helps to give it a nudge. My friend always tries to nudge it to the History Channel, or Discovery on weeks when they aren't talking about Sharks. I wish National Geographic was more widespread, they're usually the most reliable for tranquil education.

#174 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 03:08 PM:

In December she sent around an email urging Christians to soldier on in the "war on Christmas," with a picture of a Christmas tree and a caption which read something like "This is no 'Holiday Tree'!" My husband got this email, I didn't. He replied to all saying that, well, actually it was a Holiday Tree, since the Christian use of evergreens had been appropriated from pagans, and that there are not really conifers to speak of in Palestine.

Pat Greene #37: Actually . . . among all of the pagan customs that were taken up into the Church, the Christmas tree really is a Christian invention, at least as far as I can tell from what has been published in English. (I researched this topic for a church newsletter once.) Originally it was a prop for the Christmas miracle play that was put on in many parts of central Europe and Germany in the late Middle Ages. The play began with Adam and Eve in the Garden; it being winter, the Tree of Paradise had to be portrayed by a conifer hung with apples from the cellar and/or artificial flowers or other baubles. Then the clergy revised the approved script for the play, dropping the Adam and Eve scenes, but apparently the tree was such a beloved symbol of Christmas come at last that people took to setting them up at home. The best documentation available for pagan winter festivals, on the other hand, refers to trees outside, often growing in place, or to greenery hung on the walls inside.

Back on topic: I see kids walking around alone all the time here. I get the feeling that most of rural Alaska is considerably less paranoid about children walking or biking alone than the average Lower 48 community, even with Fox et al. beaming into our living rooms. Partly this is because most of the damage is done by teens or young adults to other teens while being drunk in groups, I think. As far as paranoia about turbaned attackers, we've seen the results of the post-9/11 regulations in action, and I get the feeling that a lot of locals are annoyed and disgusted (although without a poll I can't prove it). We can't go down to the dock when the cruise ship comes in. We have to answer a lot of stupid pettifogging questions about our luggage at the airport when everybody knows everybody else who's getting on the plane. It's a helluva lot harder for the relatives and loved ones of Coasties to plan for the ship to come in because nobody knows when that is. Etc.

#175 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 04:30 PM:

#123: I think it demonstrates a much more profound love for my parents that, despite a lifetime of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I still believe they are capable of becoming better people than they are.

#176 ::: Ralph Robert Moore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Mythago at 139: (I didn't see your reply the first time. Thanks, JC, for pointing it out to me.)
"…if your parents' opinions and voting choices make a difference--hey! Not in your life, baby. Who cares?"
Everyone's votes are allowed to make a difference, even those people who disagree with us. It's the one person, one vote thing.

JC at 154: I referred to your dad in my reply because you referred to your dad in your example. Let's talk about parents in general, then. I believe most parents love their children. They may not always understand them, or agree with them, but I think most parents do have an abiding love. I don’t think many parents at all have hatred in their hearts for their own children. A parent may wish their son or daughter weren't gay, may not approve of gays, or gay marriage, but I don’t think they "hate" their child. Hate is just too strong a word. The comment I made about "set in their ways" was in response to your own comments in #124, not to the general discussion. As for your other comment, I never said love of one's parents and discussion of politics are mutually exclusive. I do believe though that if discussion of politics with someone of advancing years, who you love, has become strained, it's best to talk about something else instead.

Greg at #155: I agree with your definitions. If a father rejects a son because he's gay, won’t have anything to do with him, that's tragic. But what you're referring to, JC at #124, had nothing to do with a father rejecting his son. It had to do with a father telling his gay son the father thinks gays shouldn't marry. That may be rejecting an important aspect of that son's life, but that's not the same thing as rejecting the son himself. A lot of people are fine with gays, just don’t think they should be "allowed" to marry. I don’t understand that argument myself, but it's not uncommon. People with that attitude are, to me, old-fashioned.

Serge at #156: "That's how his kind gets its jollies."

"His kind" reminds me of those fifties juvenile delinquent movies, where the pony-tailed heroine is sternly warned with a wagging finger, "Stay away from his kind."

I have no interest in poking anyone.

#177 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 05:40 PM:

albatross, there is a lot of room between "breaking off relations" and remaining silent in the face of hatred. Speaking of misstating your opponent's position to make it more extreme than it is:

Everyone's votes are allowed to make a difference, even those people who disagree with us.

Nobody was talking about suppressing the vote. When the conversation switches to refusing to drive an elderly Fox-watching parent to the polls, then your comment might be relevant.

I don't understand making excuses about being "old fashioned" or "set in their ways" as excuses for bigotry and hatred, either. To think that my parents are simply hidebound and stupid, poor dears, and can't possibly be expected to think would be gravely insulting. They didn't raise me to shut my mouth in the presence of my betters, or to accept vile behavior meekly.

#178 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 06:13 PM:

R.R.M. @176,

What Serge is saying to others on this thread is that your comment set of his trollometer. Earlier it had set off mine- hence my first question.

You might not have meant to troll, but intentions aren't relevant, results are*.

You wrote that you read ML regularly, so you'd have seen flamer bingo, no? It's a useful thread to have read before dissecting the following statements. Running your comment in reverse:

* If the most important dynamic in your life is politics, rather than love, you're fucked up.

* Politics, ultimately, is the least important aspect of life.

* Let's not become so intolerant of beliefs different from our own that we banish our own parents.

* I want to listen respectfully to what they have to say, no matter how much what they have to say diverges from my own political beliefs.

* Politics is important, but it's incredibly insignificant compared to loving our mothers and fathers.

Except that having put them down, I don't need to comment on them individually. Any one of these statements qualifies as a troll.

You didn't mean to poke with those? Really? Then a question for you: how would you reword that statement set to not include the insults and gratuitously provocative statements? If you can redo your comment without the implicit and explicit insults, please do.

---------------
* If a comment looks like a troll it'll get the results of a troll**, and those aren't good- in short, they inflame and derail a discussion.

** Bergtagen- to be taken by trolls: "does not only refer to the disappearance of the person, but also that upon returning, he or she has been struck with insanity or apathy caused by the trolls." Sounds about right- a trolled thread either goes quiet or insane, neither of which are healthy.

#179 ::: Ralph Robert Moore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Mythago at #177: There's that word "hatred" again. We're talking about people who have different views from our own. Elderly people we're related to, who probably aren’t going to be around that much longer. You want to engage them in political debate? Go ahead. But I wouldn't. I think having a loving relationship with them is more important than proving to them I'm right. I don't "hate" you because you disagree with me. I'll do it my way, you do it your way.

I didn't say you wanted to suppress the vote.

Here's the full text of your statement at #139:

"If my mom believes abortion is a sin, or my dad thinks gays shouldn't be allowed to marry, I say absolutely nothing." [Quoting me.]

"Since, after all, those are not issues that affect you or your life in any way, and therefore are no more than affectionate differences of opinion that you can safely brush aside. They're merely "politics", and if your parents' opinions and voting choices make a difference--hey! Not in your life, baby. Who cares?"

That sounds to me like someone who's alarmed at the idea their parents might vote, for example, for a candidate they don't like, who might make a "difference", and who feels he has an obligation to convince his parents otherwise. I don’t feel that way. I respect a person's right to make their own decisions. I'm not interested in proselytizing.

People do sometimes get old-fashioned, or set in their ways. In such a case, the parents are still thinking, they're just not thinking the way you want them to. Accept that. Bring them a cherry pie next time you visit them, and give them a big hug.

Kathryn at #176:

I did see that thread, and thoroughly enjoyed it. That's the type of thread I love about Making Light.

"You might not have meant to troll, but intentions aren't relevant, results are."

Intentions aren't relevant? Respectfully, that sounds kind of scary. Police State-ish.

I don't see anything wrong with any of my statements. Insults? I didn't insult anyone personally, although a number of personal insults have been directed at me since my initial post. Provocative? I hope so. Who wants to say something safe? Should posts simply be limited to "ditto", "ditto", "ditto"?

Of all the replies to my posts, I respect yours and albatross' the most. You both seem interested in a discussion of ideas. I don’t think the other posters are dumb, or evil. They all seem to me to be intelligent people. I just happen to disagree with them.

I have never meant to "poke" with any of my statements. I'm merely stating my own opinion, in an opinion forum.

If Patrick or Theresa would prefer I not post anymore, I'll respect that. It's their forum, not mine.

#180 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Ralph Robert Moore #179: 'People do sometimes get old-fashioned or set in their ways.' Ah, I see. So illuminating.

I have an aunt (who is also my godmother) who, on one occasion, directed me to a disused bathroom (not exactly disused but used as a storeroom) because she didn't want her bum to be on the same seat that I used -- apparently non-whiteness is catching. I don't call that 'old-fashioned', I call that racist. I also call it indefensible -- a point of view shared by every one of her sisters, by the way. Racism's not something I'm prepared to put up with just because my aunt was born in the 1920s.

#181 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 07:47 PM:

RRM, it's not so much the matter of not posting any more, but rather taking the hint to find your own communication errors when a whole lot of regular posters reacts in the same way to your style.

I have to admit you set my troll alarm off, too, but by the time I'd gotten here this morning others had commented, and I wasn't involved enough (both of my parents being dead, for one thing) to feel like adding my brand to the pile.

#182 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 07:57 PM:

#182: The problem here is that even if you don't intend to be a troll, you are still responding in an extremely trollish manner. e.g., the direct jump to "police state" when someone takes exception to what you say. The "I never said X" defense when it was very clear to everyone reading that what you wrote said X. You invoked the "I only did X because you did X" defense. I believe you may have won flamer bingo several comments ago.

Think of it as manslaughter versus murder. Either way, someone is dead at the end of the process.

Now, if you genuinely don't intend to be a troll, then you may want to listen to the people giving you feedback on how your comments are coming off so that you don't unintentionally set off people's trollmeters.

#183 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 08:01 PM:

mythago #177:

Nitpick: After your single line comment, the rest of the text wasn't from me.

Fragano #180:
It seems like this example moves out of political beliefs/expressions, and into personal rudeness, to me. These seem really different. Differences in politics, even in politics that matter a great deal to you, don't strike me in the same way as personal rudeness. I can't justify that in any coherent way, it just seems very different.

#184 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 08:10 PM:

albatross #183: True, it was a matter of personal rudeness, but it is the kind of thing that RRM seemed to want to sweep into the category of 'old-fashioned' (a category which includes homophobia, the belief that women's role is to cook, clean, and bear the next generation, the belief that the Jews/Bicyclists/Whoever are responsible for everything that goes wrong and so on).

#185 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 08:23 PM:

RRM: To sum up your communication difficulties, as generously as possible.

You are making trollish arguments, and engaging in trollish defenses.

Does this make you, ipso facto a troll? No, but just as the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, that's the way the smart money bets.

I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but that's pretty much used up.

Why? Because you keep changing the subject, and sometimes with attacks of an ad hominem nature (taking a comment about the intent of a message [i.e. a tenet of communications theory "the meaning of a message is the message that recieved" which is true. I may mean to say I love someone, if they see that as horrible, my intent to express love is imaterial] as a legal idea that mens rea is irrelevant, is accusatory, in nature, of the person who said it being in favor of police states).

The gist, as it appears to me, of your last post is, "I said what I meant to say, it's not my fault you can't understand me."

That's on my bingo card.

"I'm only raising provacative issues to stimulate debate"

Yep, that's on my bingo card too.

"I didn't insult anyone personally."

Not really on my card, but it shows either a tin ear for what you've said Politics is important, but it's incredibly insignificant compared to loving our mothers and fathers. I don't want to "convert" someone who's in their eighties. I want to listen respectfully to what they have to say, no matter how much what they have to say diverges from my own political beliefs. Let's not become so intolerant of beliefs different from our own that we banish our own parents.

If my mom believes abortion is a sin, or my dad thinks gays shouldn't be allowed to marry, I say absolutely nothing.

Politics, ultimately, is the least important aspect of life. If the most important dynamic in your life is politics, rather than love, you're fucked up.

That's an insult. You are telling anyone who decided that the views, of them, which they see their relatives holding, meant they needed to sever the relationship (even if they left it open to being re-established) is fucked up.

You are also telling them to shut up (by way of your sterling example; standing silent when your relatives offend you.

I'd take such a statement, esp. when you add an analysis of at least one relationship; based on nothing, since you don't know any of the players, as an insult.

When called on this you say, "you brought your father into it," which is disingenous. The poster said what they saw/felt/believed, from personal knowledge, you answered with a trite comment about old people being set in their ways, and ascribed the actions described to that.

Which discounts the posters personal knowledge.

Added to the fucked up comment, well I might have been less polite than JC was.

If it looks like a troll, acts like troll and gets the effects of a troll; it's not unreasonable to call it a troll.

#186 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 08:53 PM:

#163: BillO is pretty vile, but he's small beer compared to some of the scum that got on early radio. Remember Father Coughlin? He had to be forced off the air by use of tricks that I'd object to if they were pulled on a group like...Air America, for instance.

I'm reminded of the Nero Wolfe novel The Second Confession: Wolfe solves a mystery for the owner of a radio station, and in lieu of a fee demands that the resident red-baiting O'Reilly precursor be released from his contract.

#187 ::: Byrd ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Both of my parents are in their 80's back home in Montana. They're both set on living past the next election so they can vote against any Republican ticket in the National election. They don't watch Fox, but they do read the NY Times on-line. 8-)

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 10:14 PM:

Terry Karney @ 185... you keep changing the subject

That is another reason why I don't engage people like that. Not only is it pointless to bring up logic, but your opponent keeps moving the target around. (Another thing they like changing is their 3-word nom-de-blog, but they still say the same BS and seem to hope we won't recognize it because they replaced its layer of clingwrap.)

#189 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 02:22 AM:

Serge @ 188

Are you saying that Ralph is a sockpuppet for PRV/CRV of recent memory? I agree that there's a trollishness about his comments that's reminiscent, but the style doesn't read the same to me.

#190 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 03:39 AM:

Serge @188, Bruce @189,

I agree with Bruce that this guy is merely reminiscent. He has a full website, as linked.

His response* gives me an idea for refining my troll test, as the "will you be back?" is necessary but not sufficient.

Instead:
"Hi, will you be back? If so, could you rewrite your sentence to take out the insult?" is a short'n sweet test...

"Insult? What do you mean insult, you dictator?" +3, troll

"While I don't see an insult, my goal was to ask about what your boundaries are for families and politics." +0.5 troll, but moving in the right direction.

"What you're saying is that my point got lost in how I phrased it. Let me try to rephrase my comment. It feels to me like your boundaries for families and politics are very different from my own, and it reads as being harsh to me." +.5 conversationalist.

---------------
RRM- again. It's not what you said, or meant to say. It's how you said it.

Now, it could be that all of us who've called you out on this are particularly thin skinned. Could be**. Considering that we're of diverse backgrounds, ages, occupations, and nationalities, is that likely? And then even if all of us-who-commented are members of the thin-and-glowing-skinned ML cabal, aren't you curious about what specifically set off our trollometers?

** A guy walks into a bar, sits down, and orders a beer. The bartender looks over at the television and exclaims, "Hey, everybody, there’s some psycho driving the wrong way on I-90!"

"Oh no!" gasps the man. "My wife takes that highway home after work, and it’s about that time."

He quickly calls his wife and says, "Watch out, baby, there's one crazy person going the wrong way on the highway."

"One?!" his wife replies. "There's a million of them!"

#191 ::: Ralph Robert Moore ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:17 AM:

Very briefly:

Frango at #180: If your aunt was born in the 1920s, we're probably about the same age. So let's talk. Was her attitude indefensible? Of course. But she was a product of her time. Let's do an experiment. I eat meat. Let's say you do too. Let's say a generation from now, the vegans have won, and eating meat is against the law. Your grandchildren are going to say to you, "How could you possibly have eaten meat back then, Grandpa? Didn't you realize how evil that was? The way the chickens were treated, the fact they were living creatures, like us?" What will your defense be? I'll bet it'll be something along the lines of, I was a product of my time. Racism is wrong. Everyone knows that now. They didn't back then. Homophobia is wrong. A lot of people know that now. Some day all of us will. I wish you the very best.

I'm not going to respond individually to the rest of the comments, because it seems to me we're repeating ourselves at this point.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the exchange we had, and wish all of you the very best.

This is my final post.

Goodbye.

#192 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Bingo!

(I have nothing more erudite to add, really, except that I'm waiting impatiently for my next paycheck so I can get a TV-B-Gone for the cafeteria of the place where I work, which shows Fox News on 2 massive screens. -.- This is the main reason I eat lunch at my desk.)

#193 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 11:16 AM:

RRM #191: You know, proposing a test and then announcing that you're skedaddling doesn't quite add up.

The fact that all my aunt's sisters (born in the 20s and 30s), and not just my mother, condemned her behaviour would suggest to most people that the 'she was a product of her time' argument doesn't exactly hold water either.

(And, by the bye, who's 'Frango'?)

#194 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 11:42 AM:

[delurk]

193: "(And, by the bye, who's 'Frango'?)"

He succeeded Isaac Newton as master of the mint.

[/relurk]

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Fragano @ 193... I thought your real name was Fandango.

#196 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 12:04 PM:

My grandmother, born in the 1920s, voted against the anti-gay-marriage initiative in her (extremely conservative) home state last year, because of how it would have affected me and my partner if we lived there.

A product of her time? Sure, as are we all, but her time is 2007 every bit as much as it was 1937 or 1957. She's a person, not an artifact.

#197 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 12:39 PM:

dbowman76 #194: Sweet!

#198 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Serge #195: Ouch.

'Frango', my trusty little pocket dictionary tells me, is a Latin verb.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Fragano @ 198... I could have done worse. I could have posted a link to Queen singing "Bohemian Rhapsody"...

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche,scaramouche will you do the fandango-
Thunderbolt and lightning-very very frightening me-
Galileo,galileo,
Galileo galileo
Galileo figaro-magnifico-

#200 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Serge #199: My first thought would have been of:

Dance a cachucha, fandango, bolero,
Xeres we'll drink--Manzanilla, Montero--
Wine, when it runs in abundance, enhances
The reckless delight of that wildest of dances!
To the pretty pitter-pitter-patter,
And the clitter-clitter-clitter-clatter--
Clitter--clitter--clatter,
Pitter--pitter--patter,
Clitter--clitter--clatter,
Clitter--clitter--clatter,
Pretty pitter--pitter--patter,
And the clitter-clitter-clitter-clatter--
Pitter, pitter, pitter,
Patter, patter, patter, patter, we'll dance!
Old Xeres we'll drink--Manzanilla, Montero;
For wine, when it runs in abundance, enhances
The reckless delight of that wildest of dances,
That wildest of dances, the reckless delight!
Dance a cachucha, fandango, bolero,
Xeres we'll drink--Manzanilla, Montero--
Wine, when it runs in abundance, enhances
The reckless delight of that wildest of dances!
Old Xeres we'll drink--Manzanilla, Montero;
For wine, when it runs in abundance, enhances
The reckless delight of that wildest of dances,
The reckless delight of that wildest of dances.

That's of course, those well-known Spaniards Gilberto y Sulliván.

#201 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 01:12 PM:

#200 Fandango, er, I mean Fragano:

One day, my son was watching a Wiggles video, and I was quite surprised to hear an adaptation of that song. I'm sure they didn't say anything about wine, but I don't remember how all they morphed it.

That chorus is now stuck in my head. Arghh!

#202 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Lorax: Right on. Mom sometimes says that changing her mind isn't always fun, but feeling like she's dealing better with the world and the implications of her long-held convictions like the importance of fairness is satisfying even when it's not fun. (She also gets very angry sometimes with the style of in-your-face protestors where shock-craving young people just assume that a little old lady from Pasadena must not have any prior interest in social justice, but that's a separate problem.) Dad would sometimes say that fair play under the law didn't require his liking a person or group, and some people and groups were very lucky. :)

People can learn and adapt in all kinds of ways, and growth never has to stop.

#203 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 02:23 PM:

albatross #201: Anything by G & S counts as a good earworm in my opinion. And on that I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral.

#204 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Obviously Frango is one of the Three Little Clones* from the lost musical The Phantom Pooh-Bah.


*The three little clones being Jango, Frango, and Buttercup

#205 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Tania #204: Why 'Buttercup' and not 'Contango'?

#206 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Because I like H.M.S. Pinafore.

No other good reason.

#207 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 03:14 PM:

Three little clones from school are we
Same as a test tube set can be
Matched to the base pair exactly
Three little clones from school

#208 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 03:43 PM:

I'm not generally a fan of sociobiology-style just-so stories, but I wonder if the increasing sense of fear for children is related to the decreasing number of children in the typical (developed-world) family.

If you've put all your genetic eggs (as it were) in one basket (or 1.5, or whatever the current number is), then as Heinlein put it, you "watch that basket."

#209 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 03:43 PM:

This posting reminds me how lucky I am to have parents whose politics, generally speaking, match up to mine (one of my earlier memories is of my dad screaming at the radio when Ollie North was testifying… later memory is of my dad yelling at the radio when the Democrats were botching their questioning of Clarence Thomas.) My problem with my dad, and it's a comparatively minor one; he's lived through the sixties, and seen the rise of both Nixon & Reagan--he was also, from what I gather, one of the only members of his group of friends to take Reagan seriously as a threat, so the experience has left him a "professional prophet of doom." Alas, he doesn't read the blogs, so my job has become one of permanent morale raiser. (He still canvasses and calls, though.)

There is something to be said for confrontation. My grandfather, who was always conservative, used to send around right-wing missives via email. One day I got fed up and replied all (it was a racist comparison of Hurricane Katrina with a snowstorm in North Dakota) with a controlled, but scathing response. He was furious, but he doesn't send around political emails anymore.

#210 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Three little clones from school are we
Same as a test tube set can be
Matched to the base pair exactly
Three little clones from school

Everything is a source of fun
Nobody's safe, for we care for none
Life is a joke that's just begun
Three little clowns from school

Three little clones who, all unwary
Come from a big laboratory
Freed from its genius tutelary
Three little clones from school
Three little clones from school

#211 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 04:37 PM:

DaveL @208:

I bet there's something to that. My own child wasn't exactly cheap, and I know people who've literally spent their life savings in order to procreate. You hate to think of all that money/time/effort/emotional commitment going down the drain . . . .

As a joke, I have said to my kid, "I've put a lot of time and effort into you; try not to get killed doing X." She understands that this is a joke, but I expect that for some people, it's no laughing matter.

#212 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 04:37 PM:

::applause::
I adore G&S.

#213 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Tania @ 212... Ever seen Gilda Radner sing a G&S duet with a 7-foot-tall carrot? (Well, it was the Muppet Show.)

#214 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 05:02 PM:

Serge: I had forgotten about that! Classic. Carrot, parrot. Easy enough mistake to make.

In the 80s I was glued to the TV every time an Opera World woudl broadcast a Gilbert and Sullivan production.

#215 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 05:35 PM:

davel

I'm not generally a fan of sociobiology-style just-so stories, but I wonder if the increasing sense of fear for children is related to the decreasing number of children in the typical (developed-world) family.

i've wondered about that. i am not-a-parent-but-hope-to-be-one, & i figure i can't possibly be overbearing if i have more than, say, three kids to worry about (i had a pretty free childhood in the eighties, i'm the third of four, etc). my partner does not quite buy this plan. yet.

#216 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 05:51 PM:

I thought I'd heard every Linda Ronstadt album there ever was, but here's the cast recording of "The Pirates of Penzance with her (Mabel). Off to SecondSpin or another of the pre-owned CD sites.

#217 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Third, capsule attempt, for I lost the first two versions due to technical troubles, about the "increasing sense of fear for children".

I've for a couple of years been stuck on on that problem, which I formulate thus: "Why has the pedophile become our monster of choice ?". Then one day, this train of thought hit me: Infant, etymologically: which does not talk. The rich societies of our age, focusing themselves on the infant nucleus (not on infancy, already story, the obssesion doesn't seem to be so much about what should happen to "the child" as about what shouldn't) because the finality of their process had become the total negation of The Word. Nothingness as the vision of Eden, the child being sacred as the suscipient of nothingness, and as such untouchable...

Now, I do believe that embryo of an analysis to be bogus, but it has left me strangely anxious.

----------------------

Having lived without tv for so long I can't even remember when the removal happened (for it happened more than it was decided), I still make it a point to go pester my parents at least a couple of days a week at news time to question any idiocy I can spot. Apart from making me even more poor company, it has up till now held some positive results: they've started joining me in the complaints from time to time.
That being said, I have an easier task than other people, as we have no direct exact equivalent that I know of Fox News (by that I mean no channel that have taken that very peculiar need of broadcasted media for constant events to it's logical end and created an unending show of peripeteias sampled from real life, but with colorful eye-catching strappings which reveals a complete absence of respect for it by downgrading it to a sick divertissement) around here. Though the CAC40 incident* on LCI some years ago proved that we still might be going there.

*: during a report about a famine in Africa, they incrusted an image of a strong variation of the CAC40 over people dying of starvation. I don't know what's worst, those journalits' poor display of good taste, or that I remember it rather than where and who the dying people were.

@Melissa Singer (#211):this is a joke, but I expect that for some people, it's no laughing matter.

I generally take it as a rule: if it makes people laugh, if it makes people joke, it has some truth attached to it, even if only in the cracks.
Which probably gave that definition I have: a religion is a sect which as matured enough to heartily laugh at its own shortcomings.

#218 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:17 PM:

Bruce 189: I still don't think PRV/CRV was a troll.

lorax 196: Right on, Grandma!

#219 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:22 PM:

xopher,

Bruce 189: I still don't think PRV/CRV was a troll.

but he did change his name once to get back into a discussion (from brt to prv), which was kid of dirty.

#220 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:23 PM:

kind of dirty.

#221 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:33 PM:

On the troll-whispering front: you guys are good. I was willing to give Ralph Robert Moore the benefit of the doubt, but that flounce at #191 combined with a defence of racism... I guess it was predictable from his very first comment, and I was just too naive to see it coming. At least his final word on the subject actually was.

It occurs to me that denying one is a troll is one of those inherently meaningless statements. A troll is certainly going to claim not to be a troll; a basically well-meaning person being tactless is very likely to claim it.

#222 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Did anyone notice how RRM slipped yet another insult/assumption/accusation in with his parting shot?

Let's say a generation from now, the vegans have won, and eating meat is against the law.

*blink* *blink* I... wasn't aware that vegans were waging war! OK, yeah, PETA sure, but every vegan everywhere? The friendly guy who runs V.G. Burgers over there on 28th Street? Waging war? On me? *blink*

It sounds like RRM is doing that begging-the-question thing, inserting into his "test" the premise "people who choose not to put X substance in their bodies are necessarily radical hostiles intent on outlawing substance X" as though it were an accepted point, a given.

(For what it's worth, I'm married to a vegetarian who is amused by me asking permission to cook bacon. He simply can't see why I think he would object.)


One other flamer bingo point that bugs me about RRM's brief participation here (and does anyone get the impression that some people enter a community for the precise purpose of proving that the community is "intolerant of dissent," and they conduct themselves in ways that ensure they can leave "proven right"?) ... wait.

Let me start over.

Another flamer bingo point: "Hey, it's just a difference of opinion. You can't call that 'hate.'"

I shall now illustrate simultaneously why this sets off my troll-o-meter and why I shouldn't write screenplays.


Telephone conversationalist 1, on screen: What do you mean you're not coming with us? Your phone number indicates you're in a neighborhood that's sympathetic to our cause.

Telephone conversationalist 2, off screen: Friend, you must have got the wrong number. None of my neighbors would join you on your little murder spree

Tc 1: Hey, society needs a lynching now and then. Keeps them in their proper place. It's your civic duty I'm asking you to do.

Tc 2: You can do it without me.

Screen splits, the separation appearing at left and slowly panning right as Tc 2 hangs up, until Tc 1 is crowded off the screen and all we see is Tc 2's hand, the skin of which is a very deep brown, on the receiver.

There's your "difference of opinion." It was also an expression of hate on the part of Tc 1. I won't go so far as to say that every "difference of opinion" over whether a persecuted people should enjoy a right, perk, or privilege allowed automatically to the persecuting people is necessarily predicated on hate. Nah. Sometimes it's simply based on the unthinking presumption that the persecuted minority doesn't really count as human.

In the case of a man telling his gay son that gays shouldn't marry, I think the only way I can imagine that man not guilty of hate or of dehumanizing his son is if he's performed that awe-inspiring feat of disassociating the thought "Gays shouldn't have equal rights" from the thought "My son is gay."

My own parents, for all our political differences, don't seem to subscribe to any beliefs that would indicate a lack of acceptance towards me. I am grateful. By the same token, please forgive me if the way I talk about the issue inadvertently trivializes the experiences of those who have been through it--I do not intend it that way.

#223 ::: anonymous* ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Regarding children, freedom, overprotectiveness, and pedophiles... My mother was fairly protective when I was a child (the 70s), which meant that I had more freedom than many kids do now. But it turned out that I probably would have been safer (as a fairly street-smart kid) wandering the streets than in my own bedroom, since my father sexually abused me explicitly for several years as an adolescent, and somewhat more implicitly throughout my teen years. I was too intimidated to tell anyone, so being able to GET AWAY from my family through activities and going out into the world alone was one of the only ways I kept semi-functional (years of therapy have still left me with some deeply rooted dysfunctions).

This is also one of the reasons that I am not a fan of home schooling - I think children need to be able to have reasonable access to people outside the family who they can interact with in unstructured ways, and it's too easy to keep them under tight control in a homeschooling environment (I know it doesn't have to be done that way, but it can and often is).

*I usually post here under a(nother) name, but this is something I still generally don't tell people.

#224 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 09:18 PM:

As far as older people being more conservative ... my grandmother, who died in 1981 at the age of 97 (think about how much change she'd seen!), had read Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice.

#225 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Fragano, a Frango is a chocolate mint that we used to get at The Bon (The Bon Marche) in Seattle when I was a little girl. I hear they've been bought up by :::spit::: Macy's.

#226 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 02:49 AM:

I find it interesting that so many of the comments have been about agreement/disagreement on political issues having a big impact on relations within the family. I grew up with several very politically interested family members, each with rather different opinions and ideas, and I don't think this caused much extra distance in our relationships. (There were plenty of *other* sources of strife, but that one didn't seem like a major player.) In particular, my grandmother and I used to go at it hammer-and-tongs for hours, arguing about politics and enjoying ourselves enormously. I don't recall this causing much extra family tension, other than from other family members wishing we'd keep it down.

I'm not sure why this wasn't a source of family stress, but it wasn't. For this I am thankful to God. As I said, there were plenty of other sources.

#227 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Oh, Marilee (@225)....we used to get Frangos at Frederick & Nelson's in Seattle. Since 1918, or 1929 depending on whether you choose the form or the name as the key item, although my memory doesn't go nearly that far back in either case. :)

#228 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 03:34 AM:

Albatross, I think there's a knot of things. One is how close to home a view hits. Another is how much trust you've previously built up with the relative or friend (and vice versa). A third is the happenstance stuff of manner, and whether any of you are doing things that inflate annoyance or reduce enjoyment unawares. (This one looms large in a lot of family quarrels, I think.) A fourth is how secure everyone feels otherwise - this is where specifically fearmongering tactics of "news" skew things unfavorably. And like that.

You come across as someone who's pretty secure in their sense of self and place in the world, and that tends to lead to more interesting and entertaining arguing, at least in my experience.

#229 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 06:03 AM:

#228 Bruce:

That's a good point. I never worried about my grandmother, say, still loving or accepting me at the end of a political discussion. It strikes me that the "close to home" aspect of some issues involves those underlying questions. I can see why a discussion that is political on one level, and about whether your grandmother loves/accepts you on another, is *way* more stressful.

#230 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 09:00 AM:

My parents may be the only liberals in Riverside, CA. Our disagreements were never about politics.

I wonder if they also think Barack Obama is a total jerk? Maybe I'll find out.

#231 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Albatross: Glad to help. :)

Xopher: I used to know a bunch of liberal folks down that way, when I lived in Pasadena. But then I have rants about the realities of SoCal sociopolitical borders, too.

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Xopher @ 230... You're from Riverside? That explains a few things.

#233 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Nicole @ # 222: As one of a household of 3 omnivores and one vegetarian I say: hear, hear! (I don't cook meat at home, as a rule, but the 3 of us who eat it will order it in restaurants when we're out with the one who doesn't. Everyone's OK with this.)

Anonymous @ #223, I share your feelings about homeschooling. Sexual abuse is only one of many reasons kids need to be able to get away from their families. I have homeschooled for a year myself, in a crisis; but I have also seen homeschooling families, and curricula written for them, that appeared to have total control of the child as their chief goal.

albatross @ #226: I come from a very politically diverse family (NRA to PETA). My brother-in-law once started the blessing at Thanksgiving dinner with: "Lord, there are people all over the world killing each other over smaller differences than we have in this room..."

#234 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Tania #206: So do I, even though I have never polished up the handle on the big front door.

#235 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens #210: Lovely!!! Gilbert would have been proud.

#236 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 12:50 PM:

Marilee #225: I've seen some references to them. I believe they're still around, the mints that is.

Macy's is swallowing up local department stores at an an appalling rate.

#237 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Xopher #230: I've known Communists who lived in Riverside.

#238 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Fragano #236:

I recall reading, in various bits about the grand Macy's takeover, that Frango mints originated with Marshall Field in Chicago. Leastwise the Chicagoans were the ones doing the "keep the Frangos" crusade.

As to Macy's digestive habits, some of us are actually reasonably chuffed; the Macy's are a great improvement over the previous local incumbent.

#239 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 02:48 PM:

joann #238: Mileage does vary. It wasn't the case here in Atlanta (Macy's first took over the local department store, Rich's, then dropped the name), but I can understand your point.

#240 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 04:05 PM:

joann, I doubt that any ex-Bon Marche or Meier and Frank customesrs are among the chuffed; I'm certainly not.

#241 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 04:31 PM:

JESR #240:

I think it all depends on whether your former department store was native to your city or not. In Austin, what got replaced was Foley's, a chain (Houston-based, I think) that had moved in about 30 years earlier. The other incumbent is Dillard's, an Arkansas-based chain whose buyers all seem to think that the louder the color and pattern, the better; they took over a San Antonio chain about 20 years ago (and *their* flagship store was a wonder to behold!). Austin's own home-grown department store, which I remember fondly, was, if a bit smaller, in the same class as Meier&Frank or Frederick&Nelson (note I'm ignoring Bon Marche); they even had a well-stocked book department in their 6-floor downtown store. It's all been dead these 15-20 years, except as a small women's specialty store. So I don't exactly miss what got munched by the giant Macy's Pac-Man.

#242 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Nicole 222: Some years ago I heard from a friend about a mutual acquaintance (a PETAphile) that she'd attached herself to a group going to dinner after a gathering; upon arriving at the restaurant, she proclaimed "we want a separate table for the vegetarians, so we won't have to watch you people eating dead animals!" I've often said that if I'd been there I'd've said "Well, we're not going to have a separate table for the vegetarians because I'm going to sit with the polite people!"

I go out to eat with omnivore friends all the time. I don't COOK meat, and no one cooks it in my house (but then I live alone), but I don't object to others doing so. How could I? They have the right to their own choices just as I have the right to mine.

This is the thing that keeps conservative (as the term is used nowadays) members of the dominant group (on whatever criterion) scared all the time: they think that if we "win," we'll force others to be like us. It's what they try to do, and they don't understand that not everyone thinks like them. That's where the "if everyone were gay" bullshit comes from, for example. (Oh yeah, that's Buckley. "If everyone were homosexual, tomorrow there would be no one at all." We gotta BREED, see. My response to that is "If everyone were male, tomorrow there would be no one at all. So what? Nature takes care of it.")

Serge 232: You're from Riverside? That explains a few things.

It does not. I am NOT (not! not! not!) from Riverside. My parents moved there years after I moved from Michigan (where I grew up) to New Jersey (where I've lived for over half my life).

I've been to Riverside all of twice. If that place was ever beside a river it was millions of years ago. But maybe I have an East Coast idea of what you can call a "river;" if it dries up in the summer, it doesn't qualify. Also, it stinks. (Riverside, I mean, not the river. Never saw anything that looked like a river there.)

I don't know what you think it explained, but it didn't. Because I am NOT from Riverside (or did I mention that?).

Fragano 237: I've known Communists who lived in Riverside.

But not me. I'm not a Communist.

And I am not now, nor have I ever been, a resident of Riverside, CA.

#243 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 04:52 PM:

You know, the more I read of this thread, the more I think I was actually pretty lucky with my parents... even considering my issues with my mother. Of course, they're younger than some of the folks being mentioned (I was the reason they got married, and yes, it was quite young), which may make a difference.

I did grow up before the worst of the PROTECT THE CHILDREN scares started, which helped -- the first one I remember being aware of that seemed a little overprotective was Lawn Jarts, and by comparison to stuff today that was pretty mild. Thankfully, my friends who are parents seem to be reasonably cautious while not being prone to panic... I have me some sensible friends. They might be a bit more cautious than my folks or theirs were, but not to the "put the kid in a bubble" extent by any means (and in fact several are actively against that notion).

While living with my mom, I was what was then referred to as a latchkey kid; my Mom worked a lot of night shifts, in fact, first as a waitress and later doing typesetting. This meant I wasn't just home alone til 5 or whatever... she didn't come home from work 'til after my bedtime. During the years I lived with my dad and stepmom I was a teen, and I had a fair amount of freedom -- my Dad would ask me where I was going and who I'd be with, sure, and I had a curfew, naturally (about an hour before the official one), but I started taking public transport to school at 12 and my dad knew I knew my way around, since he'd, well, taught me.

My adult relationship with my dad is a lot easier than some folks', it seems... we actually agree on a lot of politics. He grew up a Chicago Democrat and by golly he still is one... which makes him somewhere nearer moderate than not. We have our disagreements, but they're friendly. His worst trait is some lingering racism, but considering when he was brought up and by whom it's fairly mild, and it's better than it used to be by far... when it comes to individual members of Ethnicity X he's generally non-racist, but oddly still manages to retain some racism about the groups as a whole.

Interestingly, he does watch Fox News, but he also watches CNN and local news stations, and generally thinks the media as a whole hypes things up too much.

I know he's quite unhappy with a lot of the decisions our government makes... and personally, I suspect that some of what makes him more prone to really thinking through things instead of taking what's fed to him is that he was in the service during Vietnam. He did not himself go there but a lot of his service buddies did, and it's something that he talks about infrequently but usually in the context of current events.

#244 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 04:53 PM:

C'mon, there are worse places than Riverside. Fresno, for example.

#245 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 05:02 PM:

Xopher @ 242... Heheheh... I was amused at the idea that you might have been from Riverside because that's where my father-in-law's side of the family hails from. All of them very conservative.

#246 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 05:02 PM:

My college boyfriend wanted to get married right out of college, buy a house in Fresno, have two kids, and then live there for the rest of his life. Having been to Fresno a few times, I should have taken that plan for the warning sign it was.

I have no idea what Riverside is like, and I am still willing to say in great confidence that Fresno is worse. Despite having a few very nice people in the city.

#247 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 05:03 PM:

joann, I haven't had anything which could be remotely mistaken for a "local" department store since Miller's and People's went out of business in the early 80's. I was fond of The Bon because they had crazy great clearance racks, and my wardrobe is based on "50% off the last marked price;" in my size range, Macy's has decreased the number of brands available and gotten rid of what old home-ec teachers liked to call "classics."

Frederick & Nelson's was my Mom's department store, the one for which she took the train to Seattle to buy good clothes for work and a set of good china for her mother's 50th birthday. By the time I was doing my own serious shopping, they'd been eaten by Federated Deprtment Stores and were within a couple of years of closing entirely.

In a lame attempt to make this on-topic, there are days when I suspect the same mechanism which has made Faux News successful is behind the proliferation of poorly constructed, badly designed, and nearly disposable clothing and weird shoes which violate the anatomy of the foot and biomechanics of walking, but this may just be because I've wasted too much time and money this summer trying to find a good summer party outfit.

#248 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Xopher #242: Er, my point was that Riverside wasn't all Birchers and other nuts.

#249 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 06:45 PM:

Fragano 248: I knew that. I just couldn't resist the joke.

#250 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Xopher #249: I rather thought that might be the case.

#251 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 08:51 PM:

oliviacw, #227, you're right! I wonder why I was thinking of the Bon.

Locally, Macy's ate up Hecht's, a long-time local store that was much better than Macy's.

#252 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 09:13 PM:

I misposted this in the bridge thread.

Since I gratuitously slurred Fresno above, I thought it only fair to post a picture of something I saw there a long time back.

Macy's scarfed up a 100-year-old store, Liberty House, out here. It had been part of the Big Five major companies of Hawai'i. I honestly haven't seen much difference, other than perhaps more Mainland-style clothing.

#253 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Linkmeister 252: Circus elephants seen on a street in Fresno while on vacation in 1984.

I don't think the elephants were on vacation, actually.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 10:51 PM:

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.”
- Groucho Marx

#255 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 11:06 PM:

Marilee @251 - oh, The Bon ate up Frederick and Nelson's, so certainly there was a time when you could buy Frangos at The Bon, but they did originate at F&N. In my note earlier (#227), I linked to the Wikipedia article about Frangos (quite comprehensive), which explains the whole saga from the beginning, including how Marshall & Field's in Chicago got Frangos from F&N, way back when.

#256 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2007, 11:51 PM:

I still think of Frango Mints as a Chicago thing, despite the origin. I was one of the people who was really ticked when they moved production out of the city, and I haven't eaten a Frango mint since 1999.

#257 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 12:59 AM:

There are a lot of things besides politics that can break up a family. I've been ostracized from my family for almost 40 years now, and it has nothing to do with politics.* I usually explain it by saying I'm the white sheep of the family, which is a part of the truth. The wedge that drove me away was a lack of respect for me; without respect any relationship becomes toxic.


* My immediate family, and most of my extended family were either Communists, Socialists, or radical Liberal Democrats. Except for the two rich Republican uncles. I'm a Hobnailed Liberal myself (see Charlie Stross' quote on the front page of ML), so there's not as much distance between me and my family as between Left- and Right-Facing Democrats.

#258 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 01:08 AM:

I remember an argument I had with my father, once. I was willing to go to Vietnam, as a conscript. He wanted me in a dress and on the plane to Canada.

I reminded him that he volunteered for WW2 on September 1, 1939, and spent time fighting the King's enemies in the Mediterranean for imperial reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with the defence of this country. (He later fought the Japanese, too, and nursed - he was an SBA - men who had been their prisoners. As a result he could never, for the rest of his life, bring himself to buy a Japanese product. But that's another story.)

His defence was, more or less 1) That was then, this is now; 2) It was completely different, anyway - did I think it was wrong to fight Hitler and Mussolini? and 3) We were all young and stupid once.

You know, the longer I live, the more I think he was right. About that, anyway. Not that it makes me regret not speaking to him for twenty-five years because of his treatment of my mother.

I think maybe Rick Perlstein was talking about how it's all very, very complicated. How can you love someone who's become a bigot? You can hate what's made them one, and he does. But the person themselves?

I don't know. I hated the person my father became, and then he changed again, or I changed, or life just went on. My mother died, and there was no reason any more. We got on quite well towards the end, though I still would never have trusted him further than I could have thrown him with one hand against a stiff breeze.

Six months before he died, he attended a book launch of mine, nattily attired as always. I saw him taking what I thought were notes about what was being said about the book, and was chuffed. It turned out that he was writing down the phone number of the widow-lady who was sitting next to him.

Old bugger. Now why, why, did I feel a surge of affection for him as I wrote that?

#259 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 01:43 AM:

Xopher @ #253, Haven't you ever watched Japanese tour groups led by ladies who wear suits and carry umbrellas, which they wave high above their heads to get their human charges' attention?

I prefer to think the elephants were off to see whatever sites could be seen in downtown Fresno on that afternoon in the mid-1980s.

#260 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 03:35 AM:

Linkmeister @ 259

Something in your comment reminded me of of a strange sight I saw on a cross-country trip many years ago. We were moving from Massachussetts to California, and had no deadline, so we drove around the country for 6 weeks, seeing the sights. We hit Monument Valley on a beautiful early spring day, and stopped for quite some time just to look at the view.

We were at a turnout on the road about dead-center in the Valley. Someone, probably the Park Service, had put up a series of iron pipes standing vertically to about average head height. On the top of each was a short piece of pipe set horizontally, each one pointed at a different rock formation, so as to direct your attention to it. No telescope or anything, just pointers.

A camper vehicle with a rental company logo on it, looking a lot like the moon shuttles in "2001: A Space Oddessey" drove up to the turnout, and a half-dozen German* tourists got out. They lined up at the first of the pipes and each one took a turn looking through the first, then moved on to the next. Each one spent about 20 seconds looking through each pipe at it's designated target, in succession. When each one had looked through each pipe they all got back in their spaceship and drove off. At no time did any of them actually look directly at the sights of Monument Valley, as far as I could tell.

* In those days I could still understand about every fourth word of spoken German if the speaker enunciateed very clearly; I overheard some of their conversation, which was as devoid of context as their actions.

#261 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 03:43 AM:

This is my final post.

BINGO! Woohoo! What did I win?

I find it interesting that so many of the comments have been about agreement/disagreement on political issues having a big impact on relations within the family.

albatross, recall that the initial post was not merely about Grandma disagreeing politically: it's "one of the people she was learning to hate was me". If you're straight and most or all of your friends are, too, then Grandma hating homosexuals isn't directed at you; at your political opinions, yes, but it's not personal.

That's a whole different order than being one of the people Bill O'Rly or one of his ilk exhorts them to hate; one of the people who gets taken down when they vote tot say that you can't marry, or shouldn't have jobs, or mustn't be allowed to live here. That's not merely a quibble with a loved elder relative. It's a betrayal.

My spouse's elderly aunt (father's sister) and his mom occasionally talk on the phone and discuss family. On one occasion, Aunt started griping about The Jews. Mom, bless her, reared up and told her that was disgusting and beneath Aunt's dignity to say such thing, and further, that her grandchildren were Jewish, and she would not stand for that kind of talk.

I don't know if Aunt ever changed her views, but she apologized and has never said anything of the sort again. I guess that doesn't sit well with folks who chuckle that elderly Aunt is just "old fashioned" or that "politics" aren't worth starting a family row.

#262 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 10:18 AM:

Regarding childhoods -- I was/am a natural coward, but when I was in my teens my parents took me to plenty of rock shows at the Fillmore and Avalon, and enjoyed them nearly as much as I did. (We ignored the pot smoke, except as a pleasant background aroma.) No rampant paranoia in those days. The Seventies were a somewhat different matter, but I only got tear-gassed -- as a passer-by on my way to class at Cal Berkeley -- once.

#263 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Faren 262: I was/am a natural coward, but when I was in my teens my parents took me to plenty of rock shows at the Fillmore and Avalon, and enjoyed them nearly as much as I did. (We ignored the pot smoke...

At about that point I realized that 'rock shows' meant concerts of rock music.

Let me stress that any normal person would have read you that way from the very beginning, but I was picturing you calling out "Hey, Mom! Come look at this feldspar!"

#264 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Bruce@157: seconding your comment to Serge, but you left out one thing: Bush \still/ has de-facto control of Congress, through a combination of veto power and the willingness of Congressional Republicans to do all the things the Democrats would have been flayed for when they were the minority. I shouldn't be surprised, since it's the 2000 ballot-counting riot writ large, but it was an appalling thing to hear yesterday just how badly they were behaving.

RRM@149: of course there are nitwit craptalkers on the left; the difference is that they don't get syndicated TV/radio/newspaper contracts, they don't own TV/radio/newspaper outlets, and they are generally ineffective. Yes, you'll hear them on the radio occasionally -- especially if (as I do) you listen to NPR in the hopes of getting a few facts here and there -- but damned infrequently, and never with a fraction of the reach of rightwingnuts.

More generally: why is it so important to love one's mother and father? (Are you perhaps demanding that we observe the Commandments? If so, why?) Why should they be privileged over one's friends? Especially if they require that some of those peers be treated as second-class citizens (at best)? Or is it just because you're ~80 (by a subsequent statement) and expect your descendants (direct or collateral) to love and honor you regardless of your positions?

Your #191 is particularly ... distracting ... (cf comments about troll characteristics); you're pulling a swifty, comparing what was done in the past with what's being done in the present.

#265 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Xopher (#263): Another sign that rock'n'roll is dead, or just the endearing geekishness of the "Making Light" community? (My husband's tracking down of the military man called Blood on another thread is a clear sign that we can summon up experts on pretty much *anything*.)

Actually, my parents did take me to a few rock & mineral shows too, and both Mom and I still have some nice specimens on display. (I'd be lousy at identifying my stuff, though.)

#266 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Faren 265: Endearing geekiness, I assure you. And I'm astonished and delighted to have been (partially) right.

That said, I'm not really a rock geek. It's just that I've been to gem/rock shows and never to a rock concert.

#267 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Duuuuude. Now I'm envisioning a crowd of rockhounds gently swaying on their feet as they admire the mini-Stonehenge on the elevated stage bfore them, with everyone holding up little ultraviolet lights to make the minerals fluoresce.

Now who's got the munchies for Pop-Rocks???

(Some years ago, Trader Joe's used to make carbonated chocolate frogs with embedded Pop-Rock nuggets. I still miss them.)

#268 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Faren, Xopher, I noted the similarities between the two events here.

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Julie @ 267... Now who's got the munchies for Pop-Rocks???

Remember SNL's fake ad for the morning cereal Quarry? Their slogan: "Because it's mined."

#270 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2007, 10:34 PM:

Regarding childhoods -- I was/am a natural coward, but when I was in my teens my parents took me to plenty of rock shows at the Fillmore and Avalon, and enjoyed them nearly as much as I did. (We ignored the pot smoke, except as a pleasant background aroma.) No rampant paranoia in those days.

I went to a bunch of rock concerts with my parents, and I was born in 1983. Most of them were in stadiums, and Billy Joel never attracted a dire crowd, but I don't think it ever crossed their mind that I wouldn't be safe. Although the first concert I ever smelled pot at (or at least recognized what it was) was when I was 16 at a Santana concert.

Now I'm envisioning a crowd of rockhounds gently swaying on their feet as they admire the mini-Stonehenge on the elevated stage before them, with everyone holding up little ultraviolet lights to make the minerals fluoresce.

Derek Smalls: Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we gonna do "Stonehenge" tomorrow?

My husband actually quoted this to my friend while they were visiting Stonehenge. And I would totally love to see a rocks and gems concert.

#271 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Xopher (#266): Never to a (musical) rock show?? My, how the world has changed.... But gem & mineral shows can be pretty cool, even without Stonehenge worship or advanced specialist knowledge -- though the latter certainly doesn't hurt.

#272 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Faren 271: I'm not sure what you mean by "My, how the world has changed." I was born in 1959. All my friends—well, agemates—went to rock concerts all the time.

I was just a geek. When my friends were listening to Kiss, I was listening to Beethoven. For "loud and crashy" (which I believe is a biological need of adolescent boys), I listened to Orff. At one point I had all the words to Carmina Burana memorized. My adolescent rebellion was listening to Modern music—and no, that doesn't mean Mod music like The Who or the Rolling Stones, it means Schönberg and Berg, and later Penderecki; much later dalla Piccola.

I got into "alternative" music in college, but never went to one of those big shows. I was and am somewhat phobic about crowds (I still occasionally have nightmares about the time I was caught in Times Square on New Year's Eve), and my understanding was that at these big events everyone stands the whole time, which never appealed to me...walking is one thing, but I don't just STAND for long periods, and never have.

Today, virtually no one writes 12-tone music any more, and I think that's a good thing. My ear is no longer tuned to it, and even dalla Piccola (the only one, IMO, who could really make something musical come out of that process) sounds like noise to me. I still like Orff, though finding out that he changed his music to please the Nazis has somewhat dampened my enthusiasm. I go through cycles on Penderecki.

Closest thing to a rock concert I've been to was when Steeleye Span played at a smallish theatre in NYC back in the 80s. Today, the kids tell me concerts often have a thing called a "mosh pit," which is apparently a way to control violence in the concert as a whole by confining it to a limited area. It also sounds like just exactly the kind of thing I've tried to avoid my entire life.

#273 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Speaking of rock music...

#274 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Xopher: I'll see your rock music and raise you this.

#275 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Lila 274: *bows humbly to the victor*

#276 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Closest thing to a rock concert I've been to was when Steeleye Span played at a smallish theatre in NYC back in the 80s.

Having seen what was probably the same tour in D.C., I would say that it was a rock concert, nor were you out of it.

#277 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Nicole @ 222: Good eye.

It's interesting to note (as one of the other clever posters here did) that RRM started off with a red herring. Perlstein never said he hated his grandmother. He said that he loved her very much, and her beliefs broke his heart. It takes a fair bit of twisting to get "I hate and disrespect family members whose political beliefs are different from mine" out of that.

#278 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Tim 276: But...but there were no explosions! Nobody was smoking pot! We all had seats! Nobody held up a lighter! There was no bone-shattering amplification!

You...you mean you can have a rock concert without those things? I had no idea.

#279 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Julie L @ #267: See if you can find Knister Q bars. They are a German chocolate bar with pop-rocks inside. Yummy and fun.

#280 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Aconite @ 277... A troll using red herrings? I am shocked, shocked!

#281 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Trolling for red herrings, yes. Good market for them in Scandinavia.

#282 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Xopher, I can't resist continuing this side-discussion of music a bit longer. I always hated stadium rock myself (including two utterly pointless attempts to hear the Beatles from bleacher seats at Candlestick Park), but was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for interesting Bay Area groups in smaller venues.

Semi-contemporary classical music is a good alternative to mega-pop. Other fine geekly ways to rebel against pop culture can be via medieval/renaisance, folk, jazz, international, etc. -- I did a little of each myself, eventually, while the stadia were jam-packed with people waving lighters and singing along with every chorus!

#283 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Faren 282: These days my favorite music falls into two categories: Renaissance motets and minimalism. Steve Reich and many other contemporary composers use Med/Ren singing groups for their vocal pieces, because they have the right sound and can sing straight tone.

#284 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Xopher & Lila (273, 274) I wonder if either inspired the "Music With Rocks In" (see pp 25-26) from Terry Pratchett's Soul Music?

#285 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Xopher & Lila (273, 274) I wonder if either inspired the "Music With Rocks In" (see pp 25-26) from Terry Pratchett's Soul Music?

#286 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Sigh. I don't know how that happens. My apologies :(

#287 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Xopher, #272: You got to see Steeleye Span LIVE?? *turns a bright shade of emerald*

Sometime, if we're ever both in the right place at the right time, I'd love to take you to one of the Intergem shows. You'll come home in rock overload, but it's SO worth it!

#288 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2007, 04:04 AM:

Like Xopher, I didn't listen to rock much as a child--folk, medieval, and electronic music was my diet--but (also like him) I caught the bug in college, thanks to a roommate who blasted Neil Young and the B-52s, a stint at the college radio station, and a sixth-row ticket to Jethro Tull and UK at the Omni.

But like Faren, I quickly grew tired of arena shows. I don't think I've been to one since David Bowie's Let's Dance tour. These days even the Warfield or the Fillmore is too big for my taste--even if the sound is good, which it sometimes isn't, a show of that size feels like a mediated spectacle.

I'm considering breaking that rule for Björk, though. I'm guessing she does "mediated spectacle" very, very well.

#289 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2007, 07:52 AM:

Serge @ 280: I know. All my youthful illusions are being brutally stripped away.

I've also heard--although I hate to spread such gossip if it isn't true--that there may be gambling in this establishment!

#290 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2007, 12:50 PM:

My thoughts on venues for rock concerts, let me show you them:

Paramount Northwest, where I saw the Kinks twice, is about as big as a venue can be, and is messed up because you can't dance.

The Gorge at George is wonderful, if it's not 105F, or, conversely, if they don't water the lawns right before a big low pushes over the Cascades.

And, in general, everything's too damned expensive now.

(Says the grouchy old lady who saw Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott and the LA Express for seven bucks in 1975).

#291 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2007, 03:31 PM:

JESR @ #290, I saw Jefferson Airplane at some arena in San Diego in 1974 for about the same price. That was the good part; the bad part was that the crowd spent half the time screaming for "White Rabbit" and the band wanted to play (and did play) mostly new music (which I suppose eventually became "Volunteers).

#292 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Linkmeister, I didn't get to see any incarnation of the Airplane until 1976, when they were touring behind "Red Octopus" and still there were people in the audience (at the Coliseum in Seattle, now Key Arena) yelling for Red Octopus.

Humans, not much you can do with them, alas.

#293 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2007, 07:46 PM:

I just remembered how out of place our group must have looked at that Airplane concert. We were all in Navy training school with the appropriate buzzcuts, and the civilians had hair down to there and there was a distinct aroma of pot floating around the place.

#294 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2007, 11:47 AM:

I feel more lucky than smug (I hope!) about getting to see Bay Area bands in their early days -- the Airplane with their original singer Signe, and Grace back when she was the newcomer; Big Brother as a mostly instrumental and kind of avant garde jam band before Janis (and a newly-arrived Janis at the Avalon in a granny dress); my faves Quicksilver Messenger Service before their long decline; etc. etc. But the best piece of luck may be that I didn't trust my memory and *wrote it all down* in a series of notebooks. So I may be a relic now, but at least I've got archives!

(PS: "Volunteers" was actually one of JA's best albums, which makes screamers for "White Rabbit" doubly annoying.)

#295 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2007, 09:30 PM:

When my dad was in his 30s, he was very proud of having seen Jefferson Airplane in SF at, hmmm, some kind of Onion. I used to remember this.

#296 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2007, 09:34 PM:

Marilee

The "Purple Onion", probably.

#297 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Faren @ #294, Yes, "Volunteers" was great, although "Surrealistic Pillow" ain't bad. I think the howling for "White Rabbit" had as much to do with its reputation as a paean to acid as to its quality.

I heard Jack Casady on public radio's "American Routes" a while back and wrote

Casady gave me an immediate epiphany. Spitzer played the opening bars of White Rabbit and asked Casady how he got the bass line. Casady immediately said "Maurice Ravel." Sure enough, if you listen to it, it's an absolute copy of "Bolero." Funny how I'd never noticed that before.

#298 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Linkmeister@291: 197\4/? Volunteers-the-song was performed at Woodstock, and I remember the album being out when I saw them in spring 1970 (right after Kent State -- that was one rollercoaster week). I wonder what new music they were working on then?

Xopher: Why is seeing Steeleye Span enviable? I saw them 3-4 times after their published breakup, and Wikipedia says that Prior/Kemp/Knight are still performing with more-recent additions.

#299 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2007, 11:41 PM:

FWIbelatedlyW, Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado is a gorgeous venue. Towering stone for which the venue is named on either side of the seating, and the lights of Denver on the horizon stretching out beyond the stage. I just now this week had the pleasure of catching Rush's show there, and there was fire and lasers and ambient pot smoke (however much I might personally wish there wasn't) and a (police?) helicopter (looking for something?) that flew directly over the crowd during Alex's solo in "Dreamline." It was very rock like in all senses of the word.

#300 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2007, 12:16 AM:

CHip 298: Um, I don't know. It was Lee who was acting out A Study in Emerald.

#301 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2007, 03:30 PM:

CHip, well, I dunno. I don't remember what the new music was now; I was guessing "Volunteers."

Yes, that was a roller-coaster week. I was flying Space Available on military aircraft out of Travis AFB back to the family home on Guam for the summer. The U of Arizona had not closed its campus, but a whole bunch of East Coast students who were also flying Space A had had theirs closed; they were dazed and dumbfounded.

#302 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2007, 10:20 PM:

CHip, #298: That was me. And they never performed anywhere that I could have reasonably gotten to see it, and then Maddy Prior and Tim Hart left the group (check their last 2 or 3 released CDs), and it was like the difference between Van Halen and Van Hagar. Even though the replacements are perfectly competent people and have performed with the group before, those two lead voices were the definition of the group's sound, and no one else is Them.

#303 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2007, 10:23 AM:

We could probably start a whole sub-sub-thread about groups we would have loved to have seen live/in their early days, since the constraints of time, space or cash will limit anyone who really cares about music. (This is similar to the never-made-movies discussion on that other thread.) Lots of us oldsters probably long for experience of the pre-fame Beatles -- though they got famous so quickly, that early stuff wasn't their best. And the Police broke up about the time I became aware of them, so I must have missed some great onstage jams as well as live performances of great songs.

Oh well. At least I saw plenty of fine solo shows from Robyn Hitchcock and Richard Thompson, before I left the Bay Area.

#304 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2007, 10:37 AM:

#291: 1974 was when Paul Kantner and Grace Slick took on tour a band that after a few personnel changes became Jefferson Starship. The "new stuff" would have been from Kantner and Slick's solo albums and the first Starship album, "Dragon Fly". But I'm not surprised that the audience, who hadn't seen any form of Airplane live for about three years, would want the hits. (I saw them on that tour and can't remember what they did play, though I think they did part of "Blows Against the Empire" ...)

#305 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Lee@302: Hart certainly had a distinctive voice (I never quite managed to hold him up to a persnickety conductor as an example of another regional way of singing Latin), but Johnson could also sing. Also while Hart was gone ca. 1980, Prior kept singing until the later 90's (I saw her ca. 1997). De gustibus.

#306 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2007, 10:26 PM:

My issue with post-Hart Steeleye Span is not the singing, but the material, which ranges from meh to yuck. For calibration purposes, I should add that most of their Seventies albums have at least one song I don't like, although their best stuff is stellar.

#307 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2007, 10:51 PM:

Faren,#303, I much prefer CDs to in-person. I think most people don't sound as good live.

#308 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2007, 01:05 AM:

Tim, #306: There's definitely some truth to that as well; while I respect them for experimenting with new styles and forms, the results aren't always what I want to hear!

And yes, it did seem as though there was always at least one song per album that I didn't care for, with the exception of the outstanding "Below the Salt" (still by far their best IMO). But that's not unusual, for me, with any group. The nicest thing about iTunes is that I don't have to include the clinkers on my playlist. :-)

#309 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2007, 02:14 AM:

Faren, consider that one of the stated reasons the Beatles stopped touring was that no one in the audience could hear them play.

I saw a Hurricane Iniki benefit concert here in 1992 with CSN, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Jimmy Buffett. It was in an arena which only seats about 8,000, and I don't think it was full. That was a good live experience. I don't think I'd bother with a big "arena" rock show in a stadium if I really wanted to hear the music, no matter how good the sound system was.

Carole King's latest tour was in small intimate places; she called it "The Living Room Tour," IIRC. Now that I'd like to have seen/heard.

#310 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2007, 04:14 AM:

I've had exactly two good experiences with big stadium shows: David Bowie in Cleveland and Madonna in Boston. The David Bowie show would have been a religious experience for me no matter what, but the fact that I was absurdly close to the stage and off to one side--the side he faced while singing "Hallo Spaceboy"*--helped.

Madonna concerts are designed to be spectacles, so the stadium is their natural habitat. It was also cool at that show to be where I was, which was very very high up and almost behind the stage--I could see some of the backstage action, which was fascinating.

*Afterwards I insisted he was singing it to me. It sure felt like it. I almost started speaking in tongues.

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2007, 07:10 AM:

The only live concert I ever attended was when Gentle Giant came to Quebec City in 1976. I had to, of course. And loved it.

#312 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Marilee (#307): CDs would certainly be better than inaudible stadium shows, but I've been to a ton of small-club shows that were excellent -- not always but often, performers *performed* as well as producing great sounds. Robyn Hitchcock had wonderfully funny between-song monologs, and great jam bands like Quicksilver could be thrilling no matter how many times I'd heard a song before. Even the Grateful Dead, who usually bored me both in concert and on records, came up with one version of their long jam "Dark Star" that turned into a psychedelic thriller. And my one experience of Bob Dylan solo at the Berkeley Community Theater, back when I was probably still in Junior High, still resonates even in my feeble memory.

So it's a matter of how lucky one is in time-and-place of one's youth, for both the venue and the quality of the bands in that era. Circumstances plus personal taste -- a lot of people must have loved big arena rock in the Seventies!

#313 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2007, 11:41 PM:

Faren Miller @ 312

I got lucky the first time I saw the Grateful Dead live. It was the summer of 1968, in a club in Philadelphia with about 100 to 200 other people. The place was a big open warehouse space with no seating, but enough room for maybe a thousand people. So there was plenty of room, everyone was close enough to the band to hear quite well, and the sound man was a good friend of mine, so I got in for free. They played "Caution, Do Not Stop On Tracks" which jammed nicely, but they didn't get stuck in it the way they often did with "Dark Star" or "Standing on the Moon".

Quicksilver was *great* live. I can't think of any other band I've seen live that's put on that good a show.

I've only been to one stadium concert in my life, though: Bonnie Raitt in Salem, OR*. It was an afternoon show on a clear, cool early autumn day. Bonnie was in great form (Oregon audiences really like her, and she reciprocates), and was energized by watching one rain cloud move across the sky pouring rain and throwing lightning bolts. It passed about a mile or so from us, leaving us all feeling lucky to have watched it, even luckier to have watched it miss.

* Which is the prototype for LeGuin's Omelas,

#314 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2007, 12:11 PM:

So it's a matter of how lucky one is in time-and-place of one's youth, for both the venue and the quality of the bands in that era.

I'm not sure about this. I grew up all over the place as an Air Force brat, and there was great live music everywhere I lived. By sheer chance, I caught the early stages of some famous artists' careers (Laurie Anderson pre-Big Science, 10,000 Maniacs pre-The Wishing Chair, Trouble Funk pre-Good To Go), but there were plenty of artists that didn't make it big that were just as good.

I suppose if one grew up in the serious boonies it might be different.

#315 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Bruce Cohen (#313): Ooh, another Quicksilver fan! I'm glad I'm not the only commenter here who got to experience them at their best (and know how great that was).

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