Let’s try and put ourselves in the shoes of a member of the John Birch Society, circa 1968. What would the basis of such a person’s political worldview be? Basically, that the USA was ruled by a small cabal of educated elites, who were systematically undermining the USA’s advantages against Soviet Russia, and sabotaging the efforts of the military to protect the USA from the danger of Soviet attack. This person might also believe that the truth about the Kennedy assassination was covered up by this same elite cabal.

And such a person would be correct, of course.
[click to continue…]

Santa and Moral Judgment

by John Holbo on December 22, 2009

Watched the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer X-Mas special with the kids last night. I wonder: was such a message of tolerance, across color lines, considered faintly radical in 1964? (Did anyone object to this X-Mas special when it came out?) Well, anyway, Zoë (the 8-year old) was disturbed by the fact that Santa was morally in the wrong for most of the show, incapable of distinguishing naughty from nice. She expressed concern about the integrity of the system by which she is to receive her due. If Santa thinks it’s ‘nice’ not to let Rudolph join in any reindeer games, etc., until he needs the guy, he might “give all her presents to some racist.”

On the other hand, Rudolph may be one of those rare examples of a clearly color-coded ‘other’ who “switches sides at the last minute, assimilating into the alien culture and becoming its savior” – only this time its the Great White Father, Santa himself, who is led by the tactically-acute, colorful alien.

Ideally speaking, what should Santa’s theory of naughty/nice be, do you think?

I’ll get the rest of the Dickens scans up a bit later.

Steve & the Ottowanians

by Kieran Healy on December 22, 2009

Via David Friedman, a cool interactive music video.