With Bush making his farewell, I thought I’d make the rounds of right-wing blogs to see how they were rising to the occasion. I wondered how low the limbo bar of low standards could go. I was a bit disappointed to start at Red State, see a post entitled “Will the Left Accept That They Were Wrong Wrong About Bush?” and come up with an instant winner. What is the author going to praise Bush for, you ask? “We stand here watching Bush kindly say his goodbyes and we see George W. Bush stepping down like every American president before him (well, except the ones that died in office, of course). Even Darth Cheney is packing up for his last ride into the sunset.”

Bush didn’t stage a coup. (Well, there are a few hours left. But it does seem that he won’t.)

That’s it.

“So, will each of these half sentient, dillweeds fess up that they were wrong? Will they turn to their fellow dillweed, whack-jonse friends and say: “Ya know, I have to hand it to Bush. He was an alright guy for following the Constitution and going home to Texas like he’s supposed ta.”

Only time will tell.

Online Norms and Collective Choice

by Henry on January 16, 2009

Melissa Schwartzberg at Columbia and I have an essay in the new issue of “Ethics and International Affairs”:http://www.cceia.org/resources/journal/index.html on the ways in which norms structure majority-minority relations on Wikipedia and the Daily Kos. The journal has made it “freely available online here”:http://www.cceia.org/resources/journal/22_4/essays/002.html.

Building on case studies of Wikipedia and the Daily Kos, we make three basic claims. First, we argue that different kinds of rules shape relations between members of the majority and of the minority in these communities in important and consequential ways. Second, we argue that the normative implications of these consequences differ between online communities that seek to generate knowledge, and which should be tolerant of diversity in points of view, and online communities that seek to generate political action, which need less diversity in order to be politically efficacious. Third, we note that an analysis of the normative desirability of this or that degree of tolerance needs to be tempered with an awareness that the actual rules through which minority relations are structured are likely the consequence of power relations rather than normative considerations.

The other lead essay is “Michael Walzer on democracy promotion”:http://www.cceia.org/resources/journal/22_4/essays/001.html, which should keep Daniel entertained …

Tintin Coming Out In America?

by John Holbo on January 16, 2009

Hollywood is poised to make a Tintin movie, apparently, so we have two recent think pieces about comics’ greatest boy reporter in plus-fours. Matthew Parris declares that he’s obviously gay. The Economist somehow manages to take an exquisitely Economistesque line, getting digs in at the French while backhandedly praising Americans for their peculiar issues, while allowing that the Brits are probably somewhere in the middle. Here is the concluding paragraph:

Tintin has never fallen foul of the 1949 French law on children’s literature [making it illegal to portray cowardice positively]. He is not a coward, and the albums do not make that vice appear in a favourable light. But he is a pragmatist, albeit a principled one. Perhaps Anglo-Saxon audiences want something more from their fictional heroes: they want them imbued with the power to change events, and inflict total defeat on the wicked. Tintin cannot offer something so unrealistic. In that, he is a very European hero.

The Parris piece is mock-serious, otherwise I would have to ask: is he serious? But he sort of seems serious, so I’m wondering whether, on some level, he thinks Hergé really meant to imply that in the world of the fiction (oh, never mind, I’d just wander off into philosophy nonsense about true-in-the-world-of-the-fiction. Parris is obviously taking the piss.) So the question we’ve got to ask is: are Tintin and Haddock sex jokes likelier to be funnier, on average, than the corresponding Batman and Robin jokes, which we have certainly all heard by now? (Obviously it’s much funnier to make jokes about Tintin and Haddock being Batman and Robin.) But Parris makes some interesting observations. What do you think?

Let’s turn the question around: are there actually such things as old-fashioned adventure books for boys that don’t seem vaguely campy, hence homoerotic? Because all you need is: no women. (Except for mom, maybe.) A bunch of males doing things together that don’t quite make sense, but it’s all very urgent. The male characters talking funny.

I do concede that the Tintin books are far more exclusively male-populated that even the standards of healthy boys’ adventure would seem to demand.

One thing The Economist claims, in passing, which I’m not really sure about, is that Tintin is almost unknown in America. Obviously you have to judge by the standards of comics not, say, Paris Hilton. If you show the average American a picture of Tintin, will they not know who this kid is? I’ve have noticed that Tintin is oddly missing from some ‘best comics’ lists. Wizard’s list is hopelessly capes&tights, so no surprise there. But here’s another. No Tintin. [UPDATE: nope. He’s there, after all. I missed him because I searched for his name spelled correctly – Hergé – rather than minus the accent. Ahem.] I read Tintin as a child. Didn’t lots of other people?