Sympathy for the devil

There are consequences to living in a time that’s soaked in story, and one of them is the sympathy for the devil effect.

What do I mean?

Well, it goes like this: in stories, redemption is key to catharsis and even when no redemption is possible, the story is more interesting if there are reasons the villain went to the bad (particularly if the reasons can either be traced back to the protagonist or his family.) It’s just good plotting, since “he was just born evil” is not very satisfying in a story.

The problem is that we live in an era unusually soaked in story. If you think about it, our ancestors had far fewer (and shorter, and often less satisfying stories.) They were useful, but rarer.

Note that this is difficult to ascertain, and that studies on it might be iffy, but linguistic studies have traced mankind’s oldest stories, and they range from just so “don’t mistreat the stranger, lest you be punished” stories to family/adventure sagas.

Most of them had to be memorized to be re-transmitted. Let’s be generous and say each person had about 100 stories they could call to mind, had heard/reheard, and which became part of how they viewed the world.

While these stories, like ours, “became a part of them” they would still learnt he most from their surroundings — you know, the cautionary tales of “gorg ate bad fruit and died.” — than from the story.

Even in my childhood, when story was served up by newspaper, book, radio and elderly neighbors, it wasn’t unlimited and mostly free as it is now.

Now story assails us from “news” (most more story than news, particularly from big sites), books, radio, tv, internet… songs. Interviews. It’s almost impossible to go three steps without getting a fully-formed story thrown at us in some form.

I think we get 100 stories in a day, and most of them follow the formula of “more sinned against than sinner.”

Heck, nowadays there is a disturbing tendency for it not to be necessary to give a protagonist any redeeming characteristics: just have him be mistreated a bunch and even if he is objectively a horrible person, he’s instantly “good” by virtue of being a victim. In fact, for the young ones, this might be the only virtue recognized. And everything is excused of those who are “victims” while the designated villains get absolutely no hearing and aren’t allowed redemption. (One of the worst mysteries I watched on TV, this woman who was practically a saint was found out to have been part of a white supremacist group in youth, and despite there being nothing to indicate she still had such beliefs or had done anything much wrong, all the “good” characters turn on her and destroy it, in some strange “justice” that has no contact with real justice.)

The problem with this is that it’s really very easy for villains to pretend to be victims. In fact it’s part of their stock in trade, and it takes very little effort.

And since you have internalized the idea that those who have suffered are good (or at least that their bad is justified) you’ll be victimized again and again and again.

We see this in policy, in the large cities which have turned themselves into open sewers in pursuit of “justice” for the largely feral and addicted homeless.

And yes, I do realize this is big business for the cities themselves, but by and large the people in the cities allow it to continue because the homeless are judged as “victims” of an unjust society and therefore deserving. This is bolstered by story after story saying something like “Sure they’re shiftless and addicted, but you’d be the same if you’d had their luck.”

All of this is exemplified in the “bee sting” theory of poverty that people fall into poverty because they’re overwhelmed with needs until they can’t function.

While I’m sure this is true in some cases, it’s not what’s causing the “homelessness crisis” or the reason there is poverty. That is simply that most people will make no more effort than they need to to survive, and if you make them comfortable in poverty and addition, they’ll stay there.

And incidentally, while no person is born evil, no person is born good either. Yeah, sure, as biologists and animal breeders will tell you, there are character tendencies inherent in everyone, but without strong encouragement to be “good” or “Moral” most humans will follow the path of least resistance.

And if allowed to satisfy all their worst impulses without consequence, they’ll destroy themselves, and ultimately, all those around them.

The twentieth century turn against “Victorian morality” ultimately did no good to anyone: not society, not even the afflicted themselves.

You see, sympathy for the devil is ultimately callousness and lack of care to those who legitimately need help, who fell on hard times through no fault of their own, or even through a small misstep.

All this permissiveness and encouragement for the evil and shiftless to do as they will, will ultimately generate a backlash that will make people harsher and less caring of those who could otherwise be rescued.

Yes, some villains have tragic backstories. But in the end, whatever happens to you, you’re not a robot. You make choices on how to respond. And it is best for society — and perhaps even for you — if you are judged on those choices, even as we hold out the possibility of redemption, and (because we’re not the evil left) of forgiving evil if on balance you’re trying to and have done mostly good.

Not to judge people on their actions is the ultimate evil because It assumes people are robots who cannot choose.

215 thoughts on “Sympathy for the devil

  1. I’m reading an interdisciplinary book about drought and weather, and the author made an aside that the CA drought of the mid 2010s may have caused an increase in property crime because the cost of water went up and might have caused problems for the poor.

    Huh?!? That made no sense hardly, as my maternal grandmother would have said.

      1. At some point people need to be held accountable for their life choices.

        Darth Vader repented on his death bed but Gollum did not.

        Don’t be Gollum.

        1. Vader’s repentance led directly to his death. Gollum’s failure to repent led directly to his.

          Just an observation.

          Though I think it’s safe to say that Vader was more content when he died than Gollum was.

            1. Tolkien hypothesized that if Sam had not spoken so harshly to him, Gollum might, in the end, have taken Precious and then leapt to put an end to it, because he could not bear to destroy it and live on, but knew it had to be destroyed.

              1. HMMM, Not to argue against the author of the story, but Gollum had held this infinitely corrupting object for several millennia and a few harsh words from another hobbit broke him so utterly that he would fail to commit a valiant act of redemption? I’m sorry J.R.R but I’m not buying this one 🙂 . Well perhaps if grace is sufficient someday I can discuss it with him though likely in that case we’ll have better things to do …

                1. You’ll have more time than is in the world. Also your discussion will reflect how this matter shows the glory of God.

                2. You don’t have to buy it either way, but I do think you are probably describing the idea backward. Carrying around a chunk of Sauron had broken him; I think it’s pretty explicit in the story that Frodo’s kindness awoke something better in him, though spite and Ring-lust ultimately beat it; it seems to me that Tolkien was suggesting kindness from Sam might have bolstered him just enough more.

                3. I can see it, though I think Tolkien leaves out another important event that blocks Gollum from this path.

                  Gollum seems to genuinely develop a certain amount of affection for Frodo after he’s captured by the two hobbits. Acquiring the Ring is still Gollum’s overriding concern. But his affection for Frodo is strong enough that he temporarily develops a second personality. Sam even overhears the two personalities arguing at one point (over whether to betray Frodo to Shelob), though he doesn’t understand the significance of what he’s hearing. But the fact that Gollum could have such an argument at all suggests that his affection for Frodo was having a strong influence on him.

                  Further, while Gollum desperately wants the Ring for himself, he also repeatedly states that Sauron MUST NOT get hold of the Ring again. Baggins with the Ring is one thing. Sauron with it is something else entirely, as far as Gollum is concerned.

                  Based on these two factors, I could see a scene in which Gollum seizes the Ring from Frodo as he does in the story, and then suddenly realizes that he must destroy the Ring, or else Sauron will get hold of it again. But the story earlier acknowledges that Gollum’s mind is effectively broken where the Ring is concerned (which is why Frodo refuses to show it to him in the Dead Marshes), and he’d never voluntarily give it up. So he goes into the lava with it.

                  However, there was something else in addition to Sam’s sharp language that broke Gollum’s faith in the hobbits. That was Frodo’s “betrayal” of Gollum to Faramir’s men. Frodo did it to keep Gollum alive (otherwise he would have been turned into a pin cushion). But Gollum saw it as a betrayal, and it appears to have been what allowed Gollum to decide to betray Frodo to Shelob.

        2. This. Some villains turn over a new leaf (and that’s hard – it is work). A fair number of others do not.

          Be Zuko, not Ozai. (Avatar: The Last Airbender, for the curious.)

          1. No redemption worth anything is easy. You have to give up something to start with. You have to stick with that abstinence. You have to change habits, behaviors, and even how you think.

            Anyone that tells you they just “turned over a new leaf* and changed is very sus, in my book.

      2. Joy Reid opening that DeSantis is racist because he said Florida is a second amendment state and looters should remember that. In other words, the black lady thinks black people comprise most looters…

    1. That’s particularly goofy since the poorest people in California are typically renters. And renters (at least in LA County; I assume it’s the same elsewhere in the state) aren’t directly charged for their water consumption.

      1. Never lived in the Peoples’ Republic of CA.

        Rented in more than one state. Paid a meter-based water bill in every rental except a college dorm.

        1. I don’t recall having to pay a water bill for the few years I rented in Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley). One complex was largely one and two bedroom places, aimed at young singles and couples, so water usage in the apartment should have been small compared to the landscaping and common laundry. (OTOH, this was 45 years ago. If it comes to mind, I’ll ask $SPOUSE, who rented in the same city for several years until Y2K.) AFAIK, water was buried in the rent.

          It’s been too long since I had a townhouse, but the HOA did the landscaping. I suspect my place had a meter, but I didn’t stay there long. Really bad neighborhood.

    2. So many people with platforms say whatever theory makes sense to them without bothering to look for actual evidence.

  2. A few years ago, we had a couple of homeless camps in the near neighborhood; one was back among the trees in an empty lot, hard up against the boundary fence of my neighborhood. It was just an unsavory pit (next to a daycare center for pete’s sake!) of drug abuse, drinking, feces and garbage generating, until the campers set a fire that got out of hand and came close to burning down two of the homes. Neighborhood fury over it all was so intense that the city and the property owners took action and cleared the camper out. The second was in a wooded site that had been a trailer park, decades ago. The homeless there were doing the usual drinking, drugging and garbage generating … and stealing anything not nailed down for a considerable radius. Mostly bicycles, as it turned out when the property owners took action.
    We get it – free country and all. If you are a complete degenerate and want to live in a tent, and pass the time drinking, drugging and crapping out in the open – can you please do so without ruining things for the rest of us?
    Yeah, that might come off a bit heartless – but I’m absolutely sickened, reading about how the deranged homeless (or just deranged) in big cities are knifing total strangers, or pushing them off subway platforms, let alone turning the sidewalks in front of offices and retail outlets into disgusting hellholes.

    1. Not arresting them is heartless. Sub-humans don’t deserve arrest. They are treated as animals, and act like it.

      Compassion means arresting them and keeping them in the hoosegow till they pay for their crimes.

    2. The lack of consequences is what fuels such stupidity, I think. Too much treating folks with kid gloves yields undisciplined children that think they can get away with such nonsense pretty much forever.

      When being poor becomes too uncomfortable, the poor will have to make some choices. Some will choose poorly. This is inevitable, as a consequence of human nature.

      Others will rise to the challenge.

      The world needs more folks that do that.

    3. Being nice to the homeless ferals is now codified by the Ninth Circus (a 3 judge panel, on Martin vs City of Boise. This got applied to anti-camping in Grants Pass, OR, “effectively allowing homeless camps in most city parks”.

      I know POTUS was getting some judges with more brains than noodles in their heads for the Ninth, but the cleanout wasn’t complete.

      So, if your luck has you under the thumb of the Ninth Circuit, legal methods to keep the homeless under control are limited. Which leads to other alternatives, much darker.

      1. OTOH in Eugene, currently, they are keeping the feral homeless moving around. We will see once the reopen the Washington/Jefferson park (under Or126 bridge over Willamette). Will continue until they get their hands slapped. Got started because (heaven forbid it was citizen complaints) of the World Track Championship at the UofO. Heaven forbid the international visitors to our fair city, or neighbor Springfield, see feral homeless camps between the Airport and their hotel. Oh Vapors! Springfield does not have the extensive problem … Springfield does not allow panhandling.

        In light of the above, some businesses have gotten “creative”. Gravel company put big concrete heavy barriers around one camping location near them. Doesn’t block the area, but it does limit where tents can be setup. Which just happens to be where there is a constant (now) not particularly shallow puddle. The rail yard is keeping people moved out from the camping spots on the west side of the Expressway, and visible spots on the east side. The hidden camp north of the old gravel pit on the east side of Expressway will be “rousted” naturally once it starts raining (wetlands). It’ll be bad, unless TPTB roust them and get it cleaned up before the rains come. Then there was the incident lately on hwy 99 which has moved homeless into the formally empty unused “safe space” camps (with the contesoga huts).

        Regarding the hwy 99 incident. The driver was apprehended (not homeless local bystanders surrounded and held for police). Originally reported as potential “hate” crime, has dropped off the local news and news feeds.

  3. It’s always interesting to take a story where the hero and villain come out of the same horrific circumstances, and the difference between them is in what they did with it.

    I think that’s one of the aspects that works so well in the Joker/Batman dynamic. The Joker’s theory is that all it takes to make someone evil is one bad day, yet Batman is a living breathing refution of his entire reason for being.

    1. Make it “one bad day to be act-out disobey crazy”

      And then their venn diagram gets quite a bit closer to unity.

      “Beat people up, bind them, and leave for the cops” is kinda over several legal lines, yes?

      Batman would be more effective if he went out of his way to be anonymous. But he needs that public feedback to avoid those little steps that lead to ” why allow this psycho to kill again?”

      1. “Beat people up, bind them, and leave for the cops” is kinda over several legal lines, yes?

        What legal lines? A basic idea underlying Batman (and to some extent all superhero comics) is that there are no legal lines for certain people, whether because of connections or powers or whatever……

  4. I’m not really a fan of “rationalizing the villain” stories. People are petty, people are vicious, and a lot of times what makes them that way is neither oppression nor anything narratively interesting. Mansfield Park is arguably Jane Austen’s least exciting book, full of shades of gray characters, but Mrs. Norris is one of the best portrayals of evil I’ve ever seen. A self-centered woman, embarrassed by one sister’s elopement and envious of another’s brilliant match, on an endless quest for power and status in the pettiest of arenas, all the while convinced that she knows best.

    1. The thing about villains, as opposed to the evil of people in life, is that you have to want to read about them.

  5. The wife and I were talking this morning about just how many bland people there are and how they seem to suffer from moral blindness. they’re perfectly pleasant, but utterly empty. Arendt’s Banality of Evil is a thing. We look for monsters as though the existence of monsters excuses us. Nah, most evil is done because we tolerate it.

    1. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the move to tolerance is usually based on, “It’s not hurting anybody, so it’s okay.” The thing is, that only applies to actions directed at someone. It doesn’t include behaviors that result in lost opportunities for others, either individually, or as a community. And those lost opportunities may, cumulatively, be even more damaging in the long run, that directly detrimental behaviors.

      1. “Our moral decisions about ourselves can be spiritual. Our moral decisions about other people can only be practical.” Andrew Klavan

    2. Interesting that you should mention Arendt. She formulated her “banality of evil” thesis from the trial of Adolf Eichman. But Eichman’s “I was just a bureaucrat doing my job” ploy was just an act as we can see from the personal correspondence and official memos he wrote during and after the war. He was an extraordinarily hateful anti-semite and enthusiastic advocate for the Final Solution (the Holocaust). I think that just proves one of Sarah’s points about the evil faking whatever they thing will get them what they want.

      1. Yes, but Eichmann and most of the rest of the bureaucrats behind the holocaust were very bland, very banal people. They certainly weren’t cartoon monsters, some of the guards were, and some of the leaders were weird and bizarre, but the clerks who planned and executed it? Nope. What they were were ambitious clerks looking to get ahead. Eichmann was a psychopath, but most of them weren’t, they were go along, get along clerks. Behfel ist behfel. You found the same thing in The Soviet Union, they just weren’t as efficient at it

        There are two things that stand out for me among all the horror, first is the architect’s drawings for the crematoria, That was a technical task done by skilled architects and engineers. Did they know? They must have done. The second is the interchange between IG Farben and the SS about the indicator chemical in Zyclon-B. IG Farben’s patent was for the indicator chemical, not for the Prussic Acid and the SS assured them their patent rights would be respected. Did anyone at IG Farben ask why the SS wanted industrial quantities of pesticide with the indicator chemical removed? They must have done.

        Of all the horror, why those? I think because I would never be an active killer but I could imagine being one of those clerks doing a technical task to the best of my ability. It’s never been put to the test.

        In any case, I think cartoon villains are a way for us to avoid having to look into ourselves. We can say “Those people were crazy, those people were evil, those people were completely unlike me. “ BS. Sure there were some cartoon evil people, but industrial evil requires far more people than the supply of cartoon monsters.

        I look at the FBI and the other organs behavior right now and understand that the difference between us and the Germans, or the Russians, or the Chinese is opportunity. Our Stasi would do all of that given the opportunity and, alas, you can always find gunmen.

        1. True, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Burke. There are more cowards in the world than villains.

        2. I always liked Joseph Conrad’s comparison between Kurtz and the Station Manager in Heart of Darkness: you’ve got the red, lusty devil and the pale, flabby devil.

          Or if you prefer modern comparisons, Voldemort and Umbridge from Harry Potter.

          1. Our deep state is indistinguishable from NSDAP era Germany or Soviet Russia, Nero’s Rome for that matter. It’s held together by the remnants of the constitutional order and lack of opportunity. Should there be a breakdown in order the copybook headings will return. America isn’t magic though God does seem to look after us along with children and drunks. Maybe because the Constitution is as close to His plan as we humans have come.

        3. Unfortunately, you are exactly right about our law enforcement agencies. An unrelated question for you: why do you say, “they must have DONE (my emphasis) . I see that construction frequently and don’t see that the word is necessary nor does it make sense to me.

          1. I could give an elaborate explanation emphasizing the action element in done but the truth is it’s usage I picked up from my Da. I suppose it’s redundant but idiom.

        4. A friend of mine gave me a book called “The Hidden Nazi”, about that architect. Hans Kammler, who designed the death camps, and was in charge of all Nazi construction, appears to have escaped punishment. He supposedly committed suicide, but more likely he made a deal with the U.S. that helped us get the rocket scientists, and important information. A very interesting book, by Dean Reuter,and Colm Lowery, and Keith Chester.

          Was Kammler a villain? A hero for helping us? Evil? The subtitle of the book is: The untold story of America’s deal with the devil.

        5. Oh, yeah. Imagine the RFP’s for the crematoria. When I was reading the Thomas Keneally book about Schindler, one of the things that really hit me was a section about something like RFP’s tacked to a bulletin board.

          Working as an AF officer in the early 80’s, I remember things like that. Or Technical Interchange Meetings. Or configuration control meetings. All that stuff used to be typed on typewriters and stuck on literal cork bulletin boards. Or filed on paper in paper files.

          So who were the techies who went to the TIM’s figuring out the gas chambers? What were the Acceptance Tests? Did they use animals to see if the gas worked? People? Maybe from an already existing concentration camp? How about the folks that put in the reqs for the concrete?

          Oh, yeah. Banality of evil. Some of them could choose not to look and not to know. Like maybe the people ordering the concrete. Some couldn’t do the job unless they did know.

        6. Oh, yeah. Imagine the RFP’s for the crematoria. When I was reading the Thomas Keneally book about Schindler, one of the things that really hit me was a section about something like RFP’s tacked to a bulletin board.

          Working as an AF officer in the early 80’s, I remember things like that. Or Technical Interchange Meetings. Or configuration control meetings. All that stuff used to be typed on typewriters and stuck on literal cork bulletin boards. Or filed on paper in paper files.

          So who were the techies who went to the TIM’s figuring out the gas chambers? What were the Acceptance Tests? Did they use animals to see if the gas worked? People? Maybe from an already existing concentration camp? How about the folks that put in the reqs for the concrete?

          Oh, yeah. Banality of evil. Some of them could choose not to look and not to know. Like maybe the people ordering the concrete. Some couldn’t do the job unless they did know.

    3. I find Arendt suspicious, and do not buy that her take on the Eichmann trial wasn’t intentional disinformation.

      Last time I looked into it, I concluded that she was a possible Nazi sympathizer.

      This time, I kinda wonder how I ever came up with that. There are definitely indicators there of very screwy, but this version does not point that way.

      Eichmann’s claim was transparent fraud. The type of work he did, requires both seeing what is really there, imagining what he wants it to be instead, and working backwards to find the easiest bits to shift from one to the other. You need a good grasp of cause and effect to do this, and it is hard to avoid seeing the moral implications unless one is too crazy to do the work.

      Eichmann wasn’t merely following orders, because the people giving him orders didn’t know enough to direct him, if he did not provide them with that information.

      If Eichmann wanted an alternative to doing evil, it is not like the NSDAP would have prevented him from applying his talents to the war effort instead.

      Eichmann had probably followed the previous trials, and had concluded that such a defense had the best prospects.

      I do not understand why Arendt would have believed him, or pretended to believe him.

      The most charitable explanation is some combination of her simply not thinking in certain ways, and her being an utter raving lunatic.

      1. Arendt was German and a massive snob. She had also been Heidegger’s lover. Her Origins of Totalitarianism is one of the most important books I ever read.

        I think she was wrong about Eichmann, he was a psychopath, but the way he presented himself is the way all the others involved presented themselves and, alas, evil is largely banal.

  6. A very old Jewish sentiment is reflected by Maimonides as “compassion towards the wicked is cruelty to all things.” It is more often encountered as “He who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.”

    1. Publius Syrus (1C BC) from his sententiae: Bonis nocet, quisquis pepercerit malis. Whomever spares the bad, harms the good.

  7. Bravo! And I can’t help but go back to my own analysis of the ‘homeless’ crisis. It’s not about ‘homes’ or lack of one. It’s about people living on the street in filth. What has to happen is this… (I once worked for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Employment… so… trust me… I’m from the government 😉

    Step 1. Pass laws to make it illegal to sleep on streets and/or parks. And bring back vagrancy laws.

          (I worked my whole life as a tech writer). 

    Step 2. Round up all the ‘Homeless.’

    Step 3. Subject same to an ‘intake interview.’

    Step 4. Analyze person and determine their ‘status or condition, that is: Alcoholic–Room 21, Drug addicted–Room 22, criminal fugitive–Room 23, mentally ill–Room 24, or simply ‘temporarily down on their luck–Room 25.

    Step 5. Send person to the proper door for further analysis and treatment

    1. Ooh, it really makes me want to pound my head against the wall when I meet people who say that the homeless crisis is just caused by people who have no homes, so all we have to do is spend sweet and plentiful government money (taken rightfully by taxes from the greedy and the evil rich), use it to house these poor unfortunates (who were taken advantage of by greedy property owners, landlords, lending institutions, evil capitalists, etc.), and POOF– they won’t be homeless anymore, and they’ll stop doing those things that…err…umm…made them homeless….?
      smack of head on wall

      1. The patriarchy. It is the fault of the patriarchy. If women had created the west, we would of course be living in utopia.

        1. The Reader thinks it’s a good thing you posted that sentiment here. Most other places it would require triple sarcasm tags.

          1. This is just about the only place I’d feel comfy making the statement! ‘Cause you are right, for sure.

      2. “They are not homeless, just unhoused.” Right. I’ve heard all the local interviews and read about the people here who don’t want to be part of society, but want to be supported by society. Like the guy who flat out told a well-meaning young reporter, “I’m an alcoholic, and until I stop, I’ll be on the streets.” He had no desire to stop was the impression one got. Or the people who refused to depart from under the railroad bridge until it was pointed out that chunks of hot steel and cement were about to start plummeting down on their heads. That inspired relocation ASAP.

          1. ‘Unhousedness,’ yes, ‘homelessness,’ I don’t think so. I doubt that the people we see in homeless camps around the country are there because they couldn’t pay their property taxes. No doubt they are/will be going up. But we still have agency… moving to somewhere else.

        1. Or the unhinged, desperately in need of both attention and mental health treatment who scream in the face of working reporters “HAHAHAHA, fooled YOU! I’m on (name any government aide program) and YOU work for ME!”

      3. I personally have been “homeless”, in that I had no job and got evicted from my apartment and was crashing at a friend’s place for a couple of months. The thing about that sort of homelessness is that people usually don’t stay there for long, because they get sick of feeling sorry for themselves and get a job or move to where one exists.

        Building extremely expensive custom apartments for the indigent, however, is just a way to grift.

        1. Same here. There were plenty of times when “between jobs” I lost my apartments and had to relocate to my parents’ home.

          Oh, there was a TV Movie in the 80s-90s about the “homeless”.

          The writers IMO spoiled any sympathy I might have had for the “family”.

          First, the husband lost his job and then lost his home but the idiot refused to move in with his (IIRC) brother.

          Then of course, the wife stayed with the idiot (along with the children).

          The entire “sad story” could have been prevented if the husband had moved in his with brother.

          Of course, even if he was stupid enough to not accept his brother’s help, why in Hell didn’t his wife accept her brother-in-law offer of help?

        2. Yeah, husband and I were homeless, too. After our business failed in the 80’s, we had to move in with MIL and BIL in her two-bedroom apartment. Lived that way for several months, still paying off business debts, before we both had the jobs to get out. But of course, we both had skills. And we took the jobs we could get, well below our educational levels.

        3. Yeah, husband and I were homeless, too. After our business failed in the 80’s, we had to move in with MIL and BIL in her two-bedroom apartment. Lived that way for several months, still paying off business debts, before we both had the jobs to get out. But of course, we both had skills. And we took the jobs we could get, well below our educational levels.

          1. Michael Flynn jokes about how he was homeless when he was a child, and didn’t even notice; he thought they just lived at his grandmother’s.

    2. I’ll do the Leicester summary of your most excellent comment: arrest them; figure the rest out after that.

    3. My wife had the proper program along the lines you propose. If homelessness is the problem, house these people at a closed-down military base in the desert for free. Give them meals at a chow line. Don’t treat them as convicts, but enforce order. If they work, learning a trade and improving the base by building their own housing to get out of the barracks, they can save enough money to leave. We’ve done it for refugees more than once. If they leave and end up on the streets again, lock them up for whatever crime they commit.

    4. Exactly. The left loves to lump all things together so that they can then claim the entirety of something is due to some simple thing. But addicts (Rm 21,22) require very different solutions than mentally ill (Rm 24) or the only case the left loves to talk about – down on luck (Rm 25).

  8. There is SO much story floating around…no wonder people believe in “my truth” over objective reality since they have been safely prevented from having experiences through which to filter the stories.

  9. I had an interesting (to me at least) thought about the Devil … what if he isn’t a “fallen” angel … what if he got assigned Hell by God ? after all God knew that he couldn’t bluff about the whole go to Hell thing … there needed to be a real Hell and he needs someone to run the place after all … from one perspective the Devil is doing God’s work and punishing evil doers … given human nature I really don’t think the Devil actual needs to “tempt” people to do bad things … I think he gets enough customers without tempting anyone …

    Yeah I know they wrote him up as the bad guy in the Bible but that easily could be humans covering up for our own human weakness … of course we are all good at heart and could “only” be tempted to do evil by a Devil …

      1. Job – Satan is the lawyer for the other side, so to speak. He’s the Tester, a bit like in David Weber’s Grayson version of Christianity.

    1. No. He is where he chose to be. I have no sympathy for the asshole. Yes, Hell was created for him… long before there were any humans. Because he decided he wanted to be God and got kicked out of Heaven. You start seeing him as just doing his job you do more than half his work for him.

      1. Paradise Lost is a very good portrayal. Those who think Satan was the real hero or Milton was of the Devil’s party are like the characters who got tricked by his propaganda.

      2. calm down, its just an idea … but I would point out that in that idea his job is not to tempt you or me … so no, not doing half his job … but of this I’m CERTAIN of, we humans DO NOT NEED A DEVIL to be evil … sure it would be nice to be able to dodge the responsibility and say the Devil made me do it … I choose not to …

        1. Or (just about the only HS Spanish I remember … Don’t use it. Lose it.) “El Diablo Me hizo harcielo.” Um, spelling probably way off … It has been 48 years …

          1. Perhaps we don’t need the devil, but we need the devil — the spirit of evil, the unmaker — to sell good as evil and use our best impulses to destroy us.

            1. Yes.

              I probably should have put the /s tag on the translation JIC. Then ask “guess when I went through HS” rather say how many years it has been.

        2. “It’s just an idea.” Marxism is just an idea. Eugenics is ‘just an idea’. There are a lot of poisonous ideas out there. Sympathy for the literal Devil Which is what “He’s just doing his job” is one of the most insidious, poisonous, destructive ideas out there.

          And no, we don’t need ‘the devil made me do it’ as an excuse. /I/ didn’t bring that up. You did. Hell is made for the devil. That doesn’t absolve us of anything, and I never said it did. The Bible you deride never said it did. I spoke SOLELY of the Devil’s responsibility for himself. Quit putting words in my mouth.

          You say you choose not to dodge responsibility. Yet you’re willing to make excuses for the Devil. What are you, then, willing to excuse in your OWN life?

          Why is human capacity for evil any kind of excuse for the Devil? Why do you ASSUME the only reason for the Devil’s existence is as an excuse for Human evil? That’s YOUR assumption, not mine.

          And no, I will not calm down. The Devil is real enough to KILL. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve seen what happens when humans willingly and maliciously and GLEEFULLY ally with the Devil. Quit making excuses for the bastard, you’re doing his work for him.

      3. Again though, that is the new testament version. The old testament is quite different.

        1. Yep. The only mention of Satan (ha-Satan – “the accuser”) is in Job, where he is acting as the heavenly prosecutor.

          1. No prosecutor acting within the scope of his office sets out to ruin an innocent man’s life, least of all as thoroughly as Satan does.

            1. Define the scope of his office, and consider that G-d (not just his immediate superior, but the unimpeachable, unquestionable boss) gives specific permission to do so.

              The idea that G-d and His agents test to destruction is not exactly controversial.

                1. His job was to prove that Job wasn’t as righteous as he seemed. Seems like the prosecutor to me. Now this is a wildly different court system, mind you, but nowhere is it implied that Hasatan is doing anything but fulfilling the duties assigned to him by G-d.

                  1. Nope. Laying out bait is not in the scope of that job. And he had only God’s permissive will. It was certainly not assigned

                    1. Thus proving that even God is not immune to “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” syndrome from His underlings…. Do you really think He was that unaware?

                    2. That’s why I specified “permissive” He allows thing He would not actively will because He actively wills our freedom.

                  1. True enough, but it still doesn’t mean that they are acting as prosecutors when they abuse civil rights under the color of law.

                1. Plus a few spares, in case the first one is not enough. 😛

                  Chad: “Do you really think I’m crazy enough to keep a case of claymores in the trunk?”

                  Sam: “Cool.”

                  Chad: “Don’t forget the det cord.”

      1. Dante’s vision of Hell is much more complex. But damnation, there, (and I believe here) consists of, “You wanted X more than God. In Hell, you get what you wanted more than God…but with all the goodness He gave it leached out.”
        Satan is the center of Hell…frozen waist deep in the eternal layer of ice reserved for traitors.

        1. Not being one, I can’t be sure, but my impression is that atheists believe that when you die, it’s like a light switch being turned off. Period. End of discussion. To me, that would be hell – being permanently disconnected from everything and everyone.

          1. I’ve known enough depressives to think of Hell as permanent separation from God—and thus eternal depression. Seems to me that would be far worse than a lake of fire.

              1. “Where the fire is never quenched and the worm does not die” or something along those lines…

              2. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; Some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace.”

        2. Not being one, I can’t be sure, but my impression is that atheists believe that when you die, it’s like a light switch being turned off. Period. End of discussion. To me, that would be hell – being permanently disconnected from everything and everyone.

    2. That’s similar to the view I have of Judas Iscariot. Somebody had to be the fall guy and betray Christ in order for the whole sacrifice of God’s son to work. So I figure from the heavenly point of view, Judas sits on Christ’s right-hand side as an example of someone willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for good.

      Rank heresy, of course, as far as any Christian church is concerned, but since I’m agnostic all I can say is that it makes sense to me.

      1. That implies that the “bad guy” knew that God (or Jesus) needed someone to be the bad guy, and agreed to take the job. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the Fallen, as they chose to rebel against God. And that doesn’t seem to be the case with Judas, even with Jesus saying that he knew that one of them was going to betray him.

      2. This I can believe, too. Not “agnostic”, exactly, but close enough. Just not into formal religion options.

      3. That’s the view spelled out by the Gospel of Judas, which is a Gnostic text, not an agnostic one. 😉 Contains lots of basic vanilla Manichaeism: flesh is always bad, spirit is always good, with the usual self-congratulatory twaddle about Speshul Esoteric Knowledge that makes the Enlightened so Speshul. Ties in very well with modern elites and their sense of Speshulness.

        The Gospel of St John isn’t afraid to make John look like a coward and a buffoon at the arrest in the Garden of Olives, and the Gospel of St Mark (traditionally believed to derive from St Peter’s version of events) isn’t afraid to make Peter look worse than that, and the Gospel of St. Matthew characterizes Matthew as everyone’s least favorite category of person, a tax-collector. One of the Epistles of St. Paul has him flat out saying that he-Paul was formerly a persecutor of his fellow Christians, and this is a cause for shame. Meanwhile, the Gospel of Judas attempts to excuse (not deny, excuse) the whole selling your rabbi out for thirty pieces of silver. Shrugs. Make of that what you will.

        1. John gives these great little bits of character: Martha confesses she believes Jesus is Lord while Mary is prostrate with grief, Thomas is the disciple who guilty the rest into going with Jesus to Bethany, and so on.
          He says, flatly, the reason Judas was angry Mary had anointed Jesus feet rather than selling the valuable ointment and giving the sum “to the poor, ” was because he was a thief and in charge of the disciples funds…

          1. That’s the part that always gets to me: Judas was a thief…why the heck would Jesus let a thief into his disciples – and let him steal?

                1. Maybe He believed that would happen. Btw, I’ve heard “was thieving” but I haven’t ever read it in the Bible. I heard the misplaced compassion.
                  I’m not sure if true, of course, but I’ve read analysis saying Judas was the ONE of the Disciples who could read Latin and Greek, and was an educated man.
                  Which goes to show you. intellectuals.

                    1. Matthew’s version of those events doesn’t spell it out, he just assumes you will recognize the implications of him telling you that the guy virtue-signalling about selling the ointment and giving the money to the poor…is also the guy holding the purse-strings. Possibly Sarah had more exposure to that version.

              1. Mark says Jesus would go as it had been written, but woe to the man who betrayed him. Jesus may have chosen Judas because he knew Judas would reliably betray Him. I tend to believe He must have tried to reach Judas anyway, just as I believe if Judas had repented rather than despaired, Christ would gave forgiven him.

                1. Perhaps it was access to the money.

                  Dorothy L. Sayers’s take, since she needed consistent characterization, was to depict Judas as a very talented man (Not many of the wise are chosen) but such people are part of what the Church must deal with

      4. So, I’m not sure one can say that the sacrifice was actually any more necessary than weade it. Christ’s role was to break down the wall of emnity, and I’m pretty sure that was equally possible through sufficient repentance. The problem was the lack of sufficient repentance is what lead to the crucifixion.

        Play a what if game: what if Judas had not betrayed him to the Romans? Eventual the Romans would have had to ask door to door, and would Christ have lied to them? Unlikely.

        And what if Pontious Pilot had not washed his hands? The crowd may have gone mad. What if the crowd hadn’t? And so on and so on, until either everyone has decided that they valued the Christ over their thing, breaking down the wall of emnity, or someone attempts to murder God.

        And if a finite creature can think up more possibilities, how many more and better solutions could an infinite one know of?

      5. The paradox has certainly been noted. According to Christian doctrine, Judas is the ultimate traitor, and yet if he hadn’t done what he did, we wouldn’t have had the death and resurrection of Jesus, which saved humanity.

        For my own part, I’m content to simply note what happened and leave the fate of Judas’s soul in the hands of one greater than I.

      6. Judas may be roasting in Hell for all we know. But if he IS then it is NOT because he betrayed Jesus.

        Peter very famously betrayed Jesus 3 times before the crowing of the cock, as Jesus foretold, and HE is the head of the Church Jesus founded and the first Pope.

        The reason Judas may be in Hell and Peter not is because Peter repented and asked forgiveness, which was given to him as it is to anyone who asks forgiveness.

        Judas was struck with remorse for what he had done, but instead of asking for forgiveness, he hanged himself.

        Jesus certainly didn’t need to have someone point him out. The Jewish leaders of the time knew very well who he was and where. Judas thought to make money on the transaction. But even so, all he had to do was ask forgiveness and it would have been his.

      7. I have actually addressed this question. The deep question is why did Jesus allow Judas to betray Him? It developed into an unpublished story. What if Judas instead of killing himself, goes to the empty tomb to encounter the risen Lord, and be forgiven?

        I had some from our timeline working on quantum stuff get signals. They turn out to be cross timeline signals, from a timeline where that happens. The other timeline sends their version of the “Bible”, with a chapter that is a letter from Judas to Paul.

        “You think you had a hard time being accepted, imagine how hard it was for the 11 hiding in the upper room for me to knock on the door.
        They couldn’t open the door to hear the good news that Jesus was alive, until He appeared in their midst, and told them to open the door.”

        Judas would have the most powerful message of the power of forgiveness. He committed the worst possible sin (killing God), but can be forgiven. I get chills when I think of my description of Judas standing at the empty tomb. He hears a voice. “Judas, I’ve been waiting for you.”

        So this story includes the awful betrayal, but also immense true Hope. That is the danger of free will, in order to be free to come, you must be free to go. It is related to the parental paradox: you hold them tight, and let them go, at the same time.

    3. God did not create Hell per se. People put themselves in Hell. They live there while alive. They torment themselves and are unwilling to accept God’s salvation. That’s explicit in Milton, “The mind is its own place and can make a hell of heaven and a heaven of hell.” Although I have encountered enough people who have done wickedness in my time, I have been fortunate in my life to have never known a person without conscience that many psychologists assert exist. Maybe they’re right, or maybe they just can’t discern a conscience in people who revel in the basest of evil.

      1. Yeah, pretty much every Christian answer to the problem of sin and pain in a world with an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God come down to: God is not Francisco Franco -outlawing the opposition, censoring foreign publications, controlling the economy from the top down and so on. In God’s eyes, the beauty of people using free will for good things outweighs the horror of people using free will for bad things, including whatever initial warping of the physical world might have gone along with Original Sin. For this reason, God permits a lot of things to happen that He views with abhorrence, and because He’s playing infinity-dimensional chess, He can achieve His own ends while permitting people with abhorrent desires to do what they want.

        The sequence in the Old Testament where Samuel relays to the people of Israel God’s list of all the things they’re not going to enjoy about being a monarchy, always strikes me as particularly interesting in that regard. God has no problem working through a relatively decentralized Israelite government with no king, but if the people insist upon it, God will let them have their way.

        It’s taken the Christian world a very long time to work through the implications: there’s no divine right of kings, you shouldn’t forcibly convert people, you shouldn’t persecute otherwise law-abiding people for being heretics or nonbelievers, etc. What can I say, people are slow on the uptake.

      2. I am neither a scholar of Milton nor of Sartre, but it now occurs to me that the latter’s epigram “Hell is other people” might be a literary reply to that.

    4. Somebody has written that. I’m pretty sure it was TV. Lucifer maybe?
      The basic idea of the story was “I’m sick of being in this shit job that makes everyone hate me; I quit.”

      1. The way Lucifer tells it in the ‘Lucifer’ TV series, it was pretty much:

        God: “I need somebody to run Hell. Lucifer, thou art appointed Lord Of Hell.”

        Lucifer: “What? I don’t want the job. Find somebody else!”

        God: “Dost dare to rebel against Me? I cast thee down!”

        Lucifer: “Still not going. You can’t make me!”

        War in Heaven ensued, Lucifer lost and wound up running Hell anyway.
        Lucifer: “You know the worst part about Hell? The door’s not locked. You could walk out any time — but you won’t.”

        1. Maybe I am coming at it from a different perspective (and my own grasp of Jewish theology is surface level, no Rabbi am I), but as I understand it, angels in the Jewish tradition are more or less just G-d’s messengers and agents, with no real volition of their own apart from what He gives them. That makes a rebellious angel a dubious concept. I mean, even G-d is bound by the law He created (it is baked into how the universe works), so His creations can’t exactly act outside of it.

          G-d having a system with a zillion moving parts where we only see a slice of it and filter it through our own perceptions, on the other hand…. what’s that line about “mysterious ways”?

          1. There were a ton other things wrong with the series, big and small. But I really can’t tell you more than “It tastes wrong” So wrong it eventually got to Dan and he stopped watching it.

          2. Now in the Christian tradition an angel in the moment of creation makes the choice: to serve God or to rebel. It’s all or nothing.

            Possibly because they aren’t related to time in the same way we humans are (at least while we are alive).

      2. I’ve seen a number of stories with that setup – including one where Lucifer goes on a tear about how he doesn’t have to do a thing to corrupt people – they do it all on their own so stop blaming him, please, he is just the jailer.

      3. Part of the problem is that devils are commonly depicted in fiction as functionally identical to humans.

        I think I managed to dodge that, at least, in A Diabolical Bargain. Because if orthodox writers avoid devils, the audience has only the pop culture ones.

  10. The devil’s in the details.

    Be it in the byzantine complexity of the laws, the hoops one must jump through to get camping bums off one’s property or out of the neighborhood,”I’m sorry sir, you may not remove their tent from your yard until and unless you provide them 30 days written notice, thrice.”, or “I’m from the EPA and I’m here to help you by explaining no, you can’t build on your property as there is a seasonal puddle therein hence your property is a protected wetland and must stay pristine.”

    You have to be crazy to have any sympathy for the devil in the details, but apparently many are and do.

  11. Years ago, I met a homeless man who came to our church. After church, I invited him to our house for lunch. We talked quite a bit. He was a snowbird of sorts. He travelled north during the summer and headed down to Texas in the fall, barefoot all the way. We shared an interest in history, so I gave him some VDH paperbacks and put him up in a hotel for the night. He was quite intelligent and knowledgeable, just had made the decision that he could get by on the good graces of other people. He appeared to be in his 20s, in good health, and seemed to think that this lifestyle could go on indefinitely and got indignant when suggested otherwise.

    I think this type of lifestyle is only possible because of the vast increase in wealth in past 100 years. A century ago, 75-85% of income went to food, clothing, shelter. Ten to fifteen years ago, I read that percentage was down to 38% and if I recall the plot of the decrease correctly, it appeared it could go down to 10-15% of income by 2100.

    Disposable incomes of 60+% are awfully tempting for grandstanding politicians and for people who want to drop out of society.

    Moreover, I think there is an socioeconomic facet to our crazy years. I’ve told my kids that they have never really seen hard times. Even when I was unemployed two years, we kept food on the table and kept our house. And that was the worst times they have ever seen. I don’t think they’re atypical. Some of this craziness seems to be an attempt to achieve an equivalent socioeconomic struggle to the stories they’ve heard from family and seen portrayed in tv/movies. It’s going to really get interesting to see how wokesters react when all their craziness achieves a real struggle to survive economically.

    1. This fits in with something I read once on the Internet :-). The homeless problem can be understood with the term “CATO 4321”. Meaning that 40% of the homeless are Crazy, 30% are Addicts, 20% are Tramps, and 10% are Other. There is a lot of overlap between the Crazy and Addicts, since mentally ill people will try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. The Tramps are the ones who aren’t addicted or crazy, they just enjoy the responsibility-free lifestyle and have learned how to use social programs to support it. The Others are the ones who are temporarily down on their luck and with only a small amount of help can recover and go back to a normal lifestyle.

      The CA folks need treatment which our society has decided to cut way back on, ever since we closed the mental hospitals back in the Reagan years. The Ts will happily accept whatever help you want to give them, but won’t change their lives. The “help for the homeless” that our politicians usually vote for will only help that last 10%, the Others. The other 90% is useful only for paying government bureaucrats and keeping politicians in power.

  12. I think this reached it’s peak with Disney’s Cruella, but Wanda in Wandavision was pretty bad. She is objectively a villain in that show, and the second Dr. Strange movie drives it home (so I hear from the plot descriptions. I didn’t waste my time or money watching either).

    Well, at least now that Disney’s got rid of her and Black Widow – the other flawed Marvel heroine who committed the unthinkable sin of wanting to be a mother – they can move on with new, modern, perfected heroines who don’t need men and view children as the curses they are.

    Remember: General Leia’s only mistake was having a child.

    1. Wanda in Wandavision was pretty bad

      And see, I thought they had already established in “Jennifer Jones” that anyone doing mind control was objectively evil with a capital EEV.

      1. I think it’s Jessica Jones, and I posted a vid below that goes into it. Yeah, Wanda was ‘wrong,’ but the show also shows tons of sympathy for her, constantly takes her side and there’s the part where one character said she was the one who sacrificed the most.

        It would be forgivable – at least not character breaking – if Wanda had been as delusional as the rest throughout, or a villain had mesmerized her and she was unconsciously doing this to the townsfolk, but no: she willingly and consciously did this.

        1. It may be only human to evaluate people differently according to our likings for them, but it’s one to be fought. Many comics do not fight it.

  13. We will soon see the perpetrators of the Vaxxacaust that has killed millions claiming to be victims of…whatever or whomever is handy… My ears will be deaf to their entreaties, and any punishment they receive will be soothing to my soul..We have lost people……

    1. The ones who would see everyone who didn’t submit jobless excluded from society and treated like vermin?

      Yeah, he’ll with them.

      That goes for the masked morons in the street who participated and cut their own families out of their lives for their new religion.

      Cut them loose. If your family and friends would turn on you for that, they’ll turn on you for anything.

      And if they speak of unity without repentance, spot on them.

  14. The replacement Black Widow was also pretty pissed off that she can’t have kids. Just noting.

      1. It was alright. First MCU villain whose superpower is BO.


        There’s a scene where the former Red Guardian (the Soviet Capt. America knock-off) snarks about it being that time of month for Natasha and Yelena. The latter angrily retorts that they both had their uteruses ripped out (i.e. hysterectomy) as part of their preparation to be Black Widows.

        Ironically, some critics of the movie then acted as if Yelena thought it was a good thing when in actuality both women clearly consider it tragic

  15. Sympathy? More like gibbets and crows. Including the horse-face from Brooklyn they rode in on. To paraphrase a guy named Burns:

    Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
    Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
    Welcome to your gory bed,
    Or to victory!

    Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
    See the front o’ battle lour;
    See approach proud Edward’s power—
    Chains and slavery!

    Wha will be a traitor knave?
    Wha can fill a coward’s grave!
    Wha sae base as be a slave?
    Let him turn and flee!

    Wha for Scotland’s king and law
    Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
    Freeman stand, or freeman fa’,
    Let him follow me!

    By oppression’s woes and pains!
    By your sons in servile chains!
    We will drain our dearest veins,
    But they shall be free!

    Lay the proud usurpers low!
    Tyrants fall in every foe!
    Liberty’s in every blow!—
    Let us do or die!

  16. I guess I’ve seen and endured too much evil to be able to write “the bad guy’s a victim” unless it is the mindset of “it’s your fault that I made terrible choices so I’m punishing you for not doing what I want.”

    Which is all too real, alas. “I killed her because she said she was leaving me! I had no choice.” Shudder And so on.

      1. Or that 18-year-old was having a heated conversation.
        Or that 80-year-old woman.

        Were you wearing something that brought this on you? That American flag is pretty prominently displayed. And a Gadsden flag? You were asking for it.

    1. Occasionally revenge-minded souls, or souls pursuing a noble means by bad ends, can have done so because other characters unjustly prevented them from using lawful means. This, of course, requires villainy even of the banal “I gotta follow the rules” sort from other characters.

  17. Our current villains are sure they are the heroes. The airline attendant who hectored me to pull up my mask because I’d finished chewing my pitiful bite of pretzel considered herself a hero, not a jackbooted thug of the state. She thought (and probably still thinks) that she’s a great person, a fine person. Like a thick candy coating, those who are encased in the shell of leftism never think, never ponder, never consider. They just do what they’re told.

    These people are capable of greater evil than they’ve already committed. And they’ll do this believing they are the righteous ones. This is why I think we need another set of Nuremberg Trials.

  18. I think this vid does a great job critiquing the mindset. Particularly the Wandavision segment. It’s the combination of continuous and pride.

    Basically, it’s an inversion of the shepherd going into the wilderness to search for the lost sheep. Instead, we’ve got the sheep choosing to remain there and demanding the shepherd drive the rest of the flock into the wilderness.

    Hope the link comes through…

    1. :grumbles in “hates WandaVision with the passion a thousand suns and the comic book storyline(s) it rode in on with a few thousand more” a little louder than usual…:

      1. Vid still makes some good points. About how messed up and toxic the whole thing is.

        Comic book storylines…you mean the Kree Skrull War? I’m reading that one right now.

        1. That one, too. The other one (and big inspiration for WandaVision) was the 2004/2005 “Disassembled” and “House of M” storylines. Hate, hate, hate those storylines, and I never wanted to see them adapted to the silver screen.

          So when they were put on the small one, I ignored them. I will continue to ignore them until morale improves. Then I’ll ignore them some more.

          Yes, I really do hate WandaVision, Disassembled, and House of M that much. I am also completely turned off of Wanda/Vision as a couple. Get her a new boyfriend she can actually have a family with, for Pete’s sake! (Yes, sorry-not-sorry, that rules out Wonder Man, too. Deal with it.)

          Fan rant ended.

          1. The problem is that Marvel comic book characters – aside from Reed and Sue Richards – aren’t allowed to have kids. Peter and MJ never got to meet their baby as Norman Osborn had it kidnapped right after it was delivered (MJ was told it was stillborn, IIRC). And then other than a short mention by the woman watching the baby a few issues later, it was quietly forgotten (except for Spider-Girl, of course). Scott Summers and Jean Grey had a son. He was taken into the future while still an infant to save his life. And we were then informed that Cable was the all grown up version of the infant. Any other kid will probably suffer a similarly exotic fate.

            1. Nah, Marvel comic book characters aren’t allow to have changes. Except in the rarest of cases. No one can even stay dead, unless you were created as a dead character in the first place.

              1. When I was 13 or 14 I was in the waiting room of my dentist reading the comics they had laying around for kids. One of them was the X-Men issue where Thunderbird no sht for real *dies.

                A few years later, when I was in a brief X-Men fan phase, I saw the ads for back issue comics values and really really wished I’d stolen that one. 😀

                1. Remember he was created to die.

                  Though they did some fun stuff with his brother.

                  And they revived him now.

                2. Right X-Men #94 its the first of the “new” X-Men (a reboot keeping Cyclops and Jean Grey from the original group). And yeah Thunderbird is made to be killed. We have Mary Sue/ Larry Lou to describe author stand ins, Tuckerization for pulling in other authors, is there a name for someone made to be killed? Certainly Mystery writers often do that.

                  Oh and don’t look at the value of X-Men #94 it will only make you sad . Even in poor condition its several hundred dollars. A mint copy goes for a couple grand.

                    1. Fair enough. Although given the mystery in its modern form goes back to turn of the century with British roots I’d hoped for something a bit more shall we say posh 🙂 I can rarely figure out who done it, but sometimes a character just shouts “Shoot Me Shoot Me” Like Daffy Duck in a Looney Tune .

                  1. I have heard of characters made to die at the start called sacrificial lambs, but red shirts is the generic.

              2. Going to disagree here. Changes are allowed. For example, Peter Parker was married to MJ for a very long time. That’s no longer the case because Joe Quesada, who was running things at Marvel at the time, actively dislikes having married comic book characters. Parker’s also no longer working as a free-lance photographer, but is instead running a small corporation called “Parker Industries” (which was ironically started when his body was possessed by Doctor Octopus for a while…). Sandman was one of the members of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, but long ago became a hero. I could go on.

                In short, changes are possible, and happen. But the writers see things like marriages and kids as limiting to what they can do with the characters. So they tease a wedding but then find a reason to cancel it, or actively break up pre-existing long-standing marriages (such as the one mentioned above, as well as that of Scott Summers and Jean Grey). The Richards probably get a pass because Reed and Sue are practically an institution within the Marvel comic books. But it’s not going to happen with anyone else at Marvel.

                I’m not familiar enough with DC to comment on their situation.

          2. One of the things I really hate about comics is that you’re not allowed to diverge into alternate history in the main universe — even by such things as letting Mr. Fantastic’s patents actually influence technology — but can do such things as rewrite the world as in House of M.

  19. Those stories may be more prominent with us now that Godless self-righteousness is loosed and the “rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”. But they were with us as long ago as my youth certainly. I remember roaring at someone who thought Willy Loman was a tragic hero. “Biff was the hero! Willy Loman is the f******n villain!” ‘Nuff said.

    1. You know, I managed to avoid that story in school.

      Having just read the cliffnotes… yeah. Willy reminds me of our friend Brandon.

    1. Well my droogs what do you expect with the inmates running the asylum? I wonder if they drink milk with drugs in it… Man some days I think we are so screwed. That seems to make the subways worse than the ’80s with Bernard Goetz fighting for survival.

      1. It’s worse than the worst days of the 1970s which inspired Death Wish and Taxi Driver. Far worse. At least then the city officials weren’t on the side of the street thugs, not even the officials who were taking payoffs. Now they think that the perps who prey on people are the good guys who are simply pursuing “forced equitable distribution” and “restorative justice”

  20. If you magically gave everybody a million bucks in cash tomorrow, within a year 90% of ‘the poor’ would be poor again.

    A lot of them wouldn’t take that long.

    Some people would be much better off after getting A Million Magic Bucks From Nowhere — but most of them are doing all right without it.
    The one thing we need more of from the government is LESS!!

    1. 100%

      Other than the inflationary effect, the “stimulus” money we got, just meant money we did not have to pay taxes on (because we didn’t have to pull from the IRA’s accounts, for a month or three). Our son just saved the money. It was ridiculous for any of us to have gotten it. This applies to everyone in our extended families.

      OTOH there are those who not only got stimulus but also got enhanced unemployment, who are still broke, and not working … when jobs are going begging. We see “Help Wanted” with “Hiring Anyone Who Will Show Up” signs everywhere. Wages higher than minimum wage, which is higher than what they got with enhanced unemployment, let alone what they get now (since the enhanced part is now stopped). Although there are hints/mumbling that employers are getting to the fed up part of all this. If unemployed continuously over the last two years, without a very good reason, might not get a job.

  21. Pure suffering can make you sympathetic. See Looney Tunes. Of course, those run on sympathy going up with suffering and down with arrogance and inflicting suffering. Which is why Jerry’s clever plans often have a downside for him. He can’t just hurt Tom and get away with it.

  22. So, I did a web search in an effort figure out what the Babylon Bee was getting at with its NFL comments.

    I see a 2015 article complaining about NFL using neurologists that don’t clear players fast enough, I see the inspiration for the Bee article, and I see a 2021 article alleging racism.

    2021 is a little interesting.

    It apparently has to do with testing a former player’s current cognitive function, estimating lost mental function from NFL concussions, and using that estimate for the liability payouts.

    Is anyone else saying ‘IQ testing is sketchy’?

    So, for IQ and other cognitive testing instruments, you have to calibrate them, and this process is difficult, needs large numbers of skilled observations, and if you do a test on someone too many times, they can skill up and get a higher score than they originally did.

    So, we can rule out, probably, NFL having a good idea of what their original intakes were, or having calibrated to incoming cohorts of players.

    What seems to have occurred, is they took the well known ‘racist’ correlation of certain groups with lower scores, and used those to adjust the estimate of the original cognitive function of the players.

    The self proclaimed ‘race realist’ position is that these lower scores have a real meaning, and are of biological origin.

    One of the dissenting positions is that we do not have apples and apples comparisons for groups large enough to calibrate tests. That combinations of ‘anti-racism’ and of poorer quality integrated schools could easily explain the current lower grades, and lower IQ results, without any need for biological explanations.

    But, once you start looking at professional football players, this gets interesting, because they were once college players. And, universities are nuts.

    I was never a football fan, and the pro player support for BLM seriously pissed me off, so my feeling is a pox on everyone in pro football.

    1. Admittedly, my SAT scores went up every time I took the damn things. And the last one included damn essay writing that the previous ones didn’t. So there definitely is a learning and knowledge factor to them, and not just a measurement of innate intelligence. However, they’re not bad for gaining a general idea of how much damage to memory and cognition a person has sustained from various brain traumas; provided you have a decent baseline. Since I’ve taken the SAT 4 or 5 times *, that fairly well established a baseline for me. However, few people take them that often, or at all nowadays.

      bouncing around from one military base to another every year or two makes completing college, or even a major, a right royal pain in the ass. I had to change colleges three different times, and my major twice, before I finished my B.S. And every time I changed, they wanted a new SAT.

      1. In general if you take a same or similar test several times the numbers tend to rise (unless you’re an absolute idiot, I had a high school compatriot that managed to go down, and he started at a total of 850 so serious idiot). That’s why you’re not supposed administer the same I.Q. test twice as that’s not a valid score. My experience with PSAT/SAT was that my verbal stayed the same but the math went up every time.

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