Friday, July 3, 2009

Disgruntled Rightists, Marxist Ants, and Stossel vs. Justice League

I shouldn’t write about anything that’s been on Drudge, really, because it will already have been picked apart by millions of people, but yesterday’s headlines struck several chords for me:

•The New York Post reported my ex-boss John Stossel’s complaint on his blog that ABC delayed his piece criticizing socialized medicine in order to run more Michael Jackson death coverage. I think I know how Stossel’s mind works well enough to say he wasn’t calling this schedule change a moral outrage, just saying it’s an example of how we each have our irreconcilable preferences and the market sorts them out, in the case of TV by deference to ratings.

Then again, the way these spats get framed by outside observers can decide how serious they end up looking to the insiders, and if Stossel ever gets in trouble with ABC for blogging in a disgruntled-sounding fashion, his situation will oddly parallel that of the departing writer of the Justice League of America comic book, Dwayne McDuffie, who as it happens was just fired from that gig for too openly griping on his blog about not being allowed to use Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and other prominent characters right now — which, as with Stossel, I thought he did in a fairly civil fashion, but you never know for sure what the higher-ups will think. Will they tolerate dissent — or unleash the dreaded Anti-Life Equation??

And I must note in passing that we should remember the Washington Post the next time someone calls Stossel a capitalist tool.

•Various conclusions were drawn from a Gallup poll, though in the grand scheme of things, Americans remain roughly evenly divided left/right (with most people probably feeling it’s a coin-toss anyway) — but you know the part of all the graphs in that piece I find most amusing and encouraging? That rising number of Americans — 17%! — in the second graph who say the Republican Party is too liberal.

That’s a lot of frustrated conservatives — and that gives me some hope for the long term, no matter how many consultants say “run to the center to win.” Who knows what criteria those rightists are using, of course, but combined with the anti-spending revolt of the Tea Party movement, there’s still room, I think, for someone to seize upon discontent and lead the GOP in a mostly-marketward direction while they’re at it.

•I had two thoughts upon reading about the Earth being straddled by giant mega-colonies of closely-related ants, one stupid, one less so, with the first being, of course, “I for one welcome our new insect overlords” and the second being that when I saw E.O. Wilson speak in 2005 at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference in Austin, he summed up the surprisingly cooperative, selfless tendencies of closely-related ants by saying, “Marx was right — he just had the wrong species.” Communist insects have conquered the globe.

(Meanwhile, a pet python has killed a child in Florida, reminding me that a friend of a friend of a friend mine — I swear — released a huge pet snake he was supposed to be sitting into the local park after, he claims, “communing” with the beast in some New Age fashion and learning that it wanted to be free, which is to say, dead, since it likely can’t survive the northeastern winter. The owner was not blissful.)

•I guess if there are newly-discovered genetic markers for schizophrenia it’s now a disease even by the criteria of Thomas Szasz, the hyper-cautious libertarian who originated the idea that you can’t call someone insane unless you point to the biological markers responsible, lest people get labeled crazy who are merely eccentric, even full-blown schizophrenics.

I’m guess now I’m retroactively “allowed” to notice that a friend of mine completely disintegrated before my eyes from a full-fledged, engaging person into a near-catatonic, hollowed-out shell of human being who couldn’t tell time or look at crowds without thinking they were conspirators trying to poison her and that sort of thing. This is something of a relief, I must say, after all I went through and watched her go through.

Come to think of it, they didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s when I was child — often attributing it to “hardening of the arteries,” which was a physical cause, sure, but a completely false one. In retrospect, should I have seen my maternal grandmother as merely eccentric, as she lost even the ability to remember how to swallow, by Szasz/Schaler criteria? Was I leaping to conclusions thinking there might be a brain problem there? I think not — a huge portion of diagnosis is observing functionality and lack thereof, not always spotting the underlying physical cause. This does not, of course, mean I want to lock up everyone who behaves oddly.

1 comment:

The Philosophy of Anxiety | Metaphysical Beliefs said...

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