The View From Your Window

Jul 25 2014 @ 9:35am


Davao, Philippines, 6 pm

Superhero Social Justice, Ctd

Jul 25 2014 @ 9:05am

In the wake of the announcement of a female Thor, Noah Berlatsky considers the female comic-book readership:

Lots of women do read comics in general, and superhero comics in particular. That fact should be self evident enough by now, given the way the Internet has given voice to many female fans of the genre. And yet sexism in the comics world persists. The effort to firmly debunk gendered stereotypes about who enjoys comics and who doesn’t would seem to benefit from hard statistics about just how many women are reading. Those statistics are surprisingly difficult to come by—but the ones that are available suggest that comics, and superhero comics, historically did appeal to both genders and very well could again.

Because of low critical standing or low readership or some combination of both, good data about comics readership over the years is rare. We do know that comics were much, much more popular during the 1940s, when superheroes first burst on the scene, than they are today. Comics then were more like film or television—a mass entertainment option, rather than a niche one. A Market Research Company of America report from 1944 found that 95 percent of all boys and 91 percent of all girls between six and 11 read comics; 87 percent of boys and 81 percent of girls between 12 and 17, and 41 percent of men and 28 percent of women between 18 and 30. Comics scholar Trina Robbins told me that The Newsdealer, a magazine for newsstand owners, actually published figures suggesting that girls at the time read more comics than boys.

Previous Dish on superhero diversity here.

No Country For Young Women

Jul 25 2014 @ 8:35am

U.S. Agents Take Undocumented Immigrants Into Custody Near Tex-Mex Border

Among the many horrors that the Central American refugee children are fleeing, Mónica Ramírez and Anne Ream focus on the epidemic of sexual violence, which is often ignored, or even committed, by the police:

One key factor driving this crisis is the well-documented and widespread sexual and gender-related violence in Latin America. In a 2014 report conducted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 70 percent of children interviewed cited domestic violence as well as violence at the hands of gangs, cartels, or “state actors” (such as police), as reasons for fleeing homes in Mexico and Central America. Sexual violence has become so widespread in Guatemala in recent years that in 2009 Doctors Without Borders launched its first Latin American mission dedicated to treating rape and abuse victims. And gender-based violence is now the second highest cause of death for women of reproductive age in Honduras. …

Anti-violence advocates on the ground say that two factors drive the high incidence of sexual and gender-related violence in the region: a lack of awareness about the nature of gender-based violence, which has historically been downplayed or normalized, and the absence of official efforts and channels that might encourage reporting of such crimes. The fact that law enforcement and judicial systems are most often dominated by men who are disinclined to pursue sexual violence or trafficking cases, and may in fact be implicated in such violence themselves, further exacerbates the crisis.

Previous Dish on the chaos in Central America here, here, and here.

(Photo: An undocumented immigrant sits after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents some 60 miles north of the U.S. Mexico border on July 23, 2014 near Falfurrias, Texas. She said she was from Guatemala, one of a group of immigrants Customs and Border Protection agents caught moving north through dense brushland in Brooks County. By John Moore/Getty Images)

Creepy Ad Watch

Jul 25 2014 @ 8:01am


A reader flags it:

I received my August Bon Appetit magazine and as usual, eagerly sat down to read it as
soon as it was delivered. I was dumbfounded when I came across this advertisement. To me, it seems like an overt case of ethnic stereotyping. I can understand the use of a traditional “yiayia” figure to advertise Greek food products, but to also have her include arranged marriage and exorcism on her to-do list seems outrageous. And oh yes, there are others ads in a similar vein – apparently in one, the yiayia calls her granddaughter a “prostitute.”

When I went to Athenos website and Facebook page, I am clearly not the only person who is offended by these ads. Athenos’ explanation (and boilerplate response to Facebook posts) is that they “didn’t intend to offend anyone” and were trying for a lighthearted approach, using a character “set in the old ways.” Apparently that means the traditional yiayia is a disapproving grump, putting her seal of approval only on the Athenos food items. As one of the Facebook commenters (with a Greek surname) said: “The only thing my yiayia would force anyone to do is eat a big plate of food.” I don’t know what is more offensive to me – the ad campaign, or Athenos’ dismissive “we didn’t mean to be offensive” responses.

A reader writes:

As a general proposition, I’m against the adoption of a two-tiered medical system. The best doctors will gravitate toward the concierge system, leaving the worst doctors to treat the masses. This is just another example of the widening split in this country between the haves and have-nots.

Another sighs:

It always makes my brain break when I read people who obviously don’t know much about the medical industry suggest things like “AMA guidelines” to deal with specialists who require cash payments. First, the AMA is not an oversight body. It’s a voluntary lobbying association representing solely the most conservative physicians, with a heavy focus on pure internal medicine – unspecialized physicians who only see adults.

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 24 2014 @ 9:15pm

A reader highlighted the gallows humor at the Onion, which is on a roll. One story seems particularly pertinent today:

Not enough time was given, it appears, in the case of the UN school, filled with civilian refugees, which was hit today, killing sixteen. The NYT is still saying that the carnage may have been Hamas’ fault. The Guardian reports instead:

The Israeli military first claimed, in a text sent to journalists, that the school could have been hit by Hamas missiles that fell short. Later, a series of tweets from the Israel Defence Forces appeared to confirm the deaths were the result of an Israeli strike. “Today Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun. The IDF responded by targeting the source of the fire. Last night, we told Red Cross to evacuate civilians from UNRWA’s shelter in Beit Hanoun btw 10am & 2pm. UNRWA & Red Cross got the message. Hamas prevented civilians from evacuating the area during the window that we gave them.”

An official at the school says they asked for more time to evacuate when the shelling started:

“We spent much of the day trying to negotiate or to coordinate a window so that civilians, including our staff, could leave. That was never granted … and the consequences of that appear to be tragic.” Gunness said the Israeli military were supplied with coordinates of UN schools where those displaced were sheltering. UN sources told the Guardian a call was placed to the Israeli military at 10.55am requesting permission to evacuate but their call was not returned.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has achieved one of his core aims – to weaken the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank so the project of Greater Israel can proceed with its usual, criminal relentlessness. He’d already done that by rewarding Abbas for his moderation by humiliating him with more and more settlements. Now he has cemented that achievement:

Hamas — which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and is considered a terrorist organization by much of the West — is being hailed in the West Bank as the champion of armed resistance, while Mr. Abbas, who leads the alternative camp advocating a negotiated peace deal with Israel, is being excoriated for having failed to achieve a Palestinian state after 20 years of intermittent and fruitless Israeli-Palestinian talks.

And the mass killing of children – financed by you and me – continues.

Today, we grappled with American “Christian” support for “smashing the skulls” and “breaking the spines” of Hamas; I lamented Hillary Clinton’s constant case of the blah blah blahs; we wondered why denialism of climate change is largely restricted to English-speaking countries; and our cover song contest came up with some new entrants.

The most popular post of the day was The Astonishing Actual History Of The Gay Rights Movement – which is enjoying quite a life in social media; followed by God’s Foreign Policy.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 20 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here - and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish - for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here for a friend whose birthday is coming up.

See you in the morning.

Best Cover Song Ever?

Jul 24 2014 @ 8:34pm

This song nominee might win just based on the number of readers who submitted it so far – 84:

I’m writing in to nominate my favorite cover of an already well-known song. I’m sure I’m not the only person to submit this one, but it’s got to be the Jimi Hendrix cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower:

Dylan’s poetry is at its best in the song’s lyrics, and it works musically, but you can’t ever go back and listen to the original once you’ve heard Hendrix’s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a series of guitar solo so perfectly illustrate the drama and stormy environment of a song’s narrative. There are plenty of songs with instrumental sections that manage to paint an even more vivid picture than its lyrics, but this one just blows them all out of the water.

This is a really fun idea for a contest, by the way! Keep up the awesome work!

Another writes, “Hendrix’s version so great that I think people forget it’s actually a cover.” Another adds:

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” is a classic (and easy) choice, but c’mon, even Dylan was impressed by this version. Per Wikipedia, Dylan described his reaction in an interview:

It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.

Live version here. Another points to the “story behind the song“. One more:

And on the subject of Hendrix/Dylan covers, Jimi’s version of Like a Rolling Stone isn’t half bad either. He did a few others, too. But nothing comes close to “All Along the Watchtower”. Play it loud.

Face Of The Day

Jul 24 2014 @ 8:09pm

Wonderground festival Opens Along The Southbank

Fire-breather and sword-swallower ‘The Lizard Man’ poses for a photograph in the ‘London Wonderground’ at the Southbank Centre on July 24, 2014 in London, England. The temporary ‘London Wonderground’ venue, located adjacent to the London Eye and the Royal Festival Hall, offers a program of live entertainment, fairground rides and outdoor bars and runs until September 28, 2014. By Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Nostalgic For Nietzsche, Ctd

Jul 24 2014 @ 7:42pm

Michael Robbins, whose review essay on the intellectual shallowness of the New Atheists sparked a number of reader dissents, writes in responding to his would-be critics:

It’s a good idea to at least try to get an argument straight before you attack it, but I’ve found that the people most likely to leave a comment or shoot off a huffy email are the least likely to do so. This is unsurprising – thoughtful people take time to consider different views and to consider how they challenge what they think. The huffy responders already know it all – they’ve got their preconceptions and assumptions armed for bear. For example, one of your readers writes:

If Michael Robbins wants us to worry that the decline of organized religion implies some loss of certainty about the foundations of our ethics, we will need some data showing that religiosity correlates with ethical behavior.

Well, I guess it’s a good thing I don’t want anyone to worry about that. I didn’t say a word about “organized religion.” I specifically denied that I was arguing that a coherent moralityNietzsche187c requires theism. And does this reader really suppose that Nietzsche believed that religiosity correlates with ethical behavior – or, I should say, does he not understand Nietzsche’s argument in On the Genealogy of Morality about what “ethical behavior” really is and where it comes from?

The point is simply that a morality predicated on Enlightenment rationalism retains its Christian foundations, at the expense of coherence. Therefore the moral codes we retain after the death of God are grounded in nothing, a point the Neo-Darwinians underscore every time they trumpet that article of faith, the “morality gene.” It is not enough to argue that we can simply ground our morals in ourselves, in our conceptions of the good (for one thing, it is self-evident that we don’t agree about what these conceptions should consist in).

That religious people of the past were often quite as murderous and duplicitous as we is beside the point, properly understood. We are talking about the loss of a coherent worldview, about grounds, not about practices. Anyone interested in the history of the shaping power of mental conceptions should understand why such a loss is a problem.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue is still the best book to address this.

Read On

All Publicity’s Good Publicity?

Jul 24 2014 @ 7:08pm

Joe Pinsker explains how anti-ACA ads actually inspired people to sign up for Obamacare:

Niam Yaraghi, a researcher at the Brookings Institution recently tried to determine the impacts these ads had on enrollment. His analysis, which he detailed in a blog post, compared states’ per-capita ad spending with their enrollment rates, and found that it was often the case that the more money spent on anti-ACA ads, the more Americans signed up for coverage—a trend made more impressive by the fact that, in the run-up to this fall’s midterm elections, the advertising budget of the ACA’s opponents was about 15 times the size of that of the law’s supporters.

Why might this be the case? “There are basically two theories,” Yaraghi told On The Media last week. “The first one is that with the negative ads, citizens’ awareness about this subsidized service increases, and the more ads they see, the more they know that such a service exists. … The other theory is that citizens who were exposed to an overwhelming number of ads about Obamacare are more likely to believe that this service is going to be repealed by the Congress in the near future … [so] he or she will have a higher willingness to go and take advantage of this one-time opportunity before it goes away.”