The Game of Thrones Celebration Post de Jeur

It’s such fun as a cord-cutter, having HBONow, watching GoT like a real show, instead of bingeing it a year later.

It’s also sort of fun as a book-reader, now that small divergences are leading to major divergences. Pretty much all of Brienne and Podrick’s current arc did not happen in the books, and this is largely due to a certain character no longer being present. Jaime and Bronn’s current show arc didn’t happen in the books. Sansa and Littlefinger’s arc may bear some rough estimate to what happens in TWOW, but I’ll have to wait until next year to know. I’ve stopped minding this and decided to enjoy the surprise of it.

So we’ve got stuff from the fourth book and stuff from the fifth book, which are supposed to run concurrently, getting possibly overtaken by stuff from the sixth book, which isn’t published yet.


It’s also fun to completely nerd out with deep, New Criticism-level readings of the existing books. If you’re the sort of person who’s ever thought the words “Game of Thrones? You Mean ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’?” then you should definitely check out A Winterfell Huis Clos, which analyzes the Winterfell scenes from A Dance With Dragons.  Just be prepared to hand in your nerd card, because this guy has out-nerded us all. The layers of meaning and the significance of minor characters we don’t even recall will Keanu your mind.

As it Turns Out, People In Jail Commit Real Crimes

McArdle on not being stupid about de-incarceration:

We’re hampered by the rampant perception that all we need is to wise up and stop incarcerating people for simply possessing drugs, something many of us feel shouldn’t be a crime at all and certainly shouldn’t merit prison time. At the event I attended, someone who has actually studied the matter closely pointed out what experts know and most journalists apparently don’t: Relatively few people are in prison for simple possession or for other minor crimes. The shock in the room was palpable.

Yup. As it turns out, the U.S. has a violence problem, and that violence problem drives the desire to build prisons, as anyone who was paying attention during the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the three-strikes, mandatory-sentencing laws were put in place, should remember.

So what is to be done?

We have the tools to incarcerate less — maybe not down to western European levels, but much less than we do. Those tools include “swift and certain” programs such as HOPE and 24/7 Sobriety, which use monitoring and small but immediate punishments to reduce the rate of reoffense. They also include GPS ankle monitors, which enable law enforcement to keep offenders off the streets during high-crime hours while still enabling them to be home with their families or commuting to a job.

This has a level of creepiness to it, in a Big Brother/Minority Report kind of way. But it’s still not as bad as prison. And if it works, we should take a shot at it. Otherwise, we should expect more of the same.


Confess Your Whiteness

When Medieval Inquistion (of the non-Spanish variety) rode into a town beset with heresy, everybody got 30 days to confess without punishment. This was known as the “Term of Grace”. Anyone who came in out of the cold during those 30 days and admitted their heresy was considered saved through the mercy of the Church. Anyone who didn’t was suspect.

Witchcraft trials worked the same way. So too did Stalin show trials and Mao’s Cultural Revolution. And so does the endless folderol about “White Privelege”. Here’s John McWhorter, calling the whole parade into question in the Daily Beast:

In a society where racism is treated as morally equivalent to pedophilia, what whites are seeking is the sweet relief of moral absolution. Inside they are pleading, “Please don’t hate me!” And I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an accompanying feeling of purification (redemption, even) that comes with such consultant-given absolution. I can honestly say that I would be engaging in exactly this kind of moral self-flagellation about racism if I were white in today’s America.

However, not being white, I can’t help but see it from a different perspective.

The question he goes on to ask, “cui bono?” And the answer is, “Not blacks.”

When your people have been enslaved for centuries followed by another century of lynching, Jim Crow, and worse, the racial ego suffers. A suffering ego is ripe for using the status of the Noble Victim as a crutch; you gain a sense of worth in being a survivor of the evil one’s depredations. The Noble Victim is in control—of the conversation, as it were, of the parameters of moral judgment.

The Noble Victim, most certainly, matters. He is, in a sense, whole. But meanwhile, no one gets a job; no one gets fed; little tangible progress is actually made. The Struggle, as it used to be called, sits on hold.

Which is why I’ve become perfectly fine with being the wrong kind of white person, the kind who “just doesn’t get it.” You’re right. I don’t get it. When I think about race in America, and about blacks in particular, I am reminded, on this feast day of St. Patrick, of my own ancestors, who populated the “inner cities” of the 19th century and were likewise given to poverty and crime. What’s the difference?

Chiefly, any reasonably functional boyo could walk into a mill or the docks and find a job. Not a great job, not even a job that did much more than keep him in corned beef and whiskey. But a job. His life had purpose and function. He could be a husband and father, if he had the sands for it. And over the generations, his peoples built up the wherewithal for a better life.

Today, those jobs are gone. A young black man who gets a diploma from Baltimore City Public Schools can’t just walk down to the harbor and sign on with a firm. Or at least, not enough of them can to prevent the rest from falling into despair. And despite a mountain of good intentions, despite continuous Crusades on Poverty, despite endless Inquisition into our horrid horrid Privelege, white people have been unable to redeem this situation.

Because in order to do that, we’d have to stop talking about ourselves.

Further Reading:

Mad Monday Linkfest

I need a nap.

  • In the Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley argues that fossil fuels are not going anywhere. In a nutshell: they’re getting cheaper to get, the alternatives are either false or not feasible yet, and the climate catastrophe is probably overstated. This quote struck me:

    Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased. At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14% increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980. [Bold mine]

  • Japan Builds up its Military. I feel as though they’ve been doing this for decades, slowly slipping their internal revulsion of active defense policy. Most of this is aimed at China, as it should be. Odd quote:

    One Japanese analyst described the strategy of countering Chinese intrusions as “don’t be the first to pull a knife—like we mistakenly did at Pearl Harbor.”

    Do the Japanese really think that way? Or is that the sort of thing they reflexively say around Americans?

  • Vladimir Putin is Not Dead. He Feels Happy!
  • Jesus Loves Winners: How Drop Dead Gorgeous Found Cult Success as a Flop” My wife is one of the few who actually owns a copy of DDG on DVD. We watched it over the weekend. It remains a deeply, brutally cynical film, which was to be expected in the late 90’s, but not in films about teenagers. Pretty funny, though.

I’ll have more to say about the upcoming sixth season of Community later. Happy Monday.

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Why Germans pay cash for almost everything

Originally posted on Quartz:

As banks, technology giants and would-be disruptors such as Square scrummage over the payment system of the future, German consumers seem perfectly happy with the payment system of the past. Germany remains one of the most cash-intensive advanced economies on earth.

On average, wallets in Germany hold nearly twice as much cash—about $123 worth—as those in Australia, the US, France and Holland, according to a recent Federal Reserve report on how consumers paid for things in seven countries. Roughly 80% of all transactions in Germany are conducted in cash. (In the US, it’s less than 50%.) And cash is the dominant form of payment there even for large transactions.


No one knows precisely why Germans have such a strong preference for cash, though survey data offer some hints. German respondents suggested that using cash makes it easier to keep track of their money and spending [pdf].

“A glance into one’s pocket provides a signal about the extent…

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Richard III was Attacked All At Once, Died Swiftly

No horse was going to save him.

Read the whole thing, as it’s very interesting, and jibes with what accounts of Bosworth I have read.

Of course, it bears pointing out that Richard fought like a mad boar at Bosworth, killing Henry Tudor’s standard bearer and very nearly getting to Henry himself before he was surrounded. Also, no contemporary source records the “My kingdom for a horse” line. Some traditions declare his last words to be “Treason!” but it’s entirely possible that he was given no chance to say anything at all.


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An Open Letter to Comcast / Xfinity


If you replace this with Verizon, it would be essentially the same…

Originally posted on Ramblings:


My name is Stacie Huckeba I have been a customer of Comcast for over eight years.

I realize that it’s a dirty little secret and you don’t like to talk about it, but c’mon, between just you and me, you can admit it. Basically you have a monopoly on internet service, at least in terms of speed. It’s ok, I like money too. Nobody is happier than me when I deposit big fat checks. Sadly, I’m not quite as “connected” as you guys.

I’m a photographer and I think I’m really good, unfortunately, I live in a town with a plethora of talented photographers so I can’t just sit back and be lazy. I’ve sent emails to the Mayor, and Governor and even my Senators and Congressmen asking that they put in regulations to make sure I am the only photographer who can use professional and top of the…

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