Tag Archives | Thank You Please May I Have Another

Flipping the Bird

Earlier this week, DC Universe posted a poll asking viewers to vote on whether or not Jason Todd should survive his “50 story plunge” at the end of the previous episode of Titans. With a nod to the famous 1988 poll in which readers voted to kill off the character’s comic-book incarnation, the text read “This isn’t the first time that Jason’s fate was left to the whims of others” – which made it sound as though DC would actually allow the poll results to determine the outcome (though many commenters have been skeptical).

Well, once today’s new episode went online and the poll closed, a new message appeared on the poll page: “Check out the latest episode of DC Universe’s ‘Titans’ to see if your speculating was correct – did Jason Todd survive his fall?” (emphasis added).

In other word – you thought you were making a difference with your vote? Ha ha, you were just speculating about an already-determined outcome.

The original 1988 poll, which actually did determine the outcome (though the results were reportedly skewed by one reader making hundreds of calls).


Geworfenheit

Addendum to my recent mediæval-related posts:

In Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy, the chapter on Aristotle ends like this:

[A] few months after leaving Athens (322 B.C.) the lonely Aristotle died. In the same year, and at the same age, sixty-two, Demosthenes, greatest of Alexander’s enemies, drank poison. Within twelve months Greece had lost her greatest ruler, her greatest orator, and her greatest philosopher. The glory that had been Greece faded now in the dawn of the Roman sun; and the grandeur that was Rome was the pomp of power rather than the light of thought. Then that grandeur too decayed, that little light went almost out. For a thousand years darkness brooded over the face of Europe. All the world awaited the resurrection of philosophy.

And then the next chapter is on Francis Bacon.

When I teach either Hellenistic philosophy or mediæval philosophy, I sometimes read that passage to my students and then throw the book across the room. (Such violence toward books is not my usual wont, but it’s a cheap, sturdy paperback, and it does serve to wake them up.)


Blacking Out

While it’s not yet clear whether Black Lightning takes place in the same continuity as the other CW superhero shows, it definitely qualifies for the same drinking game.


Reign of Fire

[cross-posted at C4SS and BHL]

Are the wildfires that have been devastating California a gift from government? So argues William Finnegan in a recent article, “California Burning.”

According to Finnegan, the seeds of disaster were planted when the mission of the U.S. Forest Service was expanded in the early decades of the 20th century:

The Forest Service, no longer just a land steward, became the federal fire department for the nation’s wildlands. Its policy was total suppression of fires …. Some experienced foresters saw problems with this policy. It spoke soothingly to public fears, but periodic lightning-strike fires are an important feature of many ecosystems, particularly in the American West. Some “light burning,” they suggested, would at least be needed to prevent major fires. William Greeley, the chief of the Forest Service in the 1920s, dismissed this idea as “Paiute forestry.”

Finnegan explains the “Paiute” reference:

Native Americans had used seasonal burning for many purposes, including hunting, clearing trails, managing crops, stimulating new plant growth, and fireproofing areas around their settlements. The North American “wilderness” encountered by white explorers and early settlers was in many cases already a heavily managed, deliberately diversified landscape.

(These facts incidentally give the lie to the common notion that American indigenous peoples were not entitled to property claims to their lands because they had not engaged in sufficiently transformative labour upon them.)

William Greeley

William Greeley

Greeley’s sneering dismissal of “Paiute forestry” was ill-placed. As Finnegan reports:

The total suppression policy of the Forest Service and its allies (the National Park Service, for instance) was exceptionally successful, reducing burned acreage by 90 percent, and thus remaking the landscape again – creating what Paul Hessburg, a research ecologist at the Forest Service, calls an “epidemic of trees.”

Preserving trees was not, however, the goal of the Forest Service, which worked closely with timber companies to clear-cut enormous swaths of old-growth forest. (Greeley, when he left public service, joined the timber barons.) The idea was to harvest the old trees and replace them with more efficiently managed and profitable forests. This created a dramatically more flammable landscape.

In other words, an alliance between big business and big government is responsible for rendering America’s wilderness areas exceptionally vulnerable to massive wildfires.


Stations of the Cross

According to Amazon tracking, a book I ordered left Waukegan IL on August 17th, arrived in York PA on August 24th (over 700 miles away from Waukegan – and also slightly farther away from Auburn than Waukegan is), and then found its way to Glendale Heights IL on August 27th (about 50 miles from Waukegan, its original starting point). I look forward to seeing where it heads next.

And I take heart from Böhm-Bawerk’s assurance that roundabout methods of production are more efficent ….

[29 August Addendum: Now it says it’s in Montgomery, so I grow hopeful.]


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