The picture above sums up the state of the physical world right now. It's one of the reasons that March is so aggravating. On one hand, it's when winter loses the plot; on the other, it's ugly and raw and dirty. It should be broken up, and its remnant bits pasted on to February and April. But of course that wouldn't work; we need 12 months, because that's the way we understand time. The year is a set of 12 months; the day is two sets of twelve hours. Yet we have ten fingers. This suggests that we evolved from people who had 12 fingers, but were slain by the Ten-Finger League in the pre-history age. Now and then a 12-fingered body is found in an British bog, perfectly preserved, and the League - oh yes, they're still around - has to send "scientists" to snip off the evidence.

Did the 12-fingered people also have 12 toes? you ask. I don't know. Perhaps the extra pinkies just withered away over time out of shame. Why do we still have 12 months if the League was so powerful? Ah, that's the genius. By letting us have 12 months, they can divert suspicion about their existence. If you say "I think there was - nay, is a Ten-Finger League that influences human society," they can scoff and say "well, explain the twelve-month calendar, then" and you're at a loss for a proper response.

No, there isn't any evidence for any of this, but soon someone will make YouTube videos about the theory, with low ominous music, slide-shows that slowly zoom in on things, X-Files typefaces, Biblical quotes: "And on that day Jeremiah, who wast of the Bulfrog tribe, did slew 12 men with his 12 fingers. Someone will post an erudide rebuttal, pointing out that "finger" in this context was a type of small stabbing knife, but he will seem as if he knows precisely what he is talking about, which will be proof he is one of the League.

Remember: if an objection to your pet theory cannot be disputed, it means you are more correct than you ever imagined. Or they wouldn't have worked so hard to discredit you.

I don't know how the hell I got on that tangent, but you probably recognize the basic ideas. Slouching towards, worst people filled with certainty, etc. None of this is new, but we've never had a society where so many people were engaged in so many arguments and making themselves known on the individual level.

This, from Marcus Aurelius - the twitterer, not the Emperor - is entirely correct. (lost the link, sorry)

Debate is now largely impossible.

Most do not listen to arguments.

They listen for signals of shared affiliation.

If they get the right signals, they listen.

If they get the wrong signals, they object.

Argument without signaling is something they can't interpret at all.

Ideas are shielded behind totems now. If you do not pay homage to the totems you cannot engage the idea; you are unclean, Herbert, L-7, not of the body, and so on. I’ve been following some English twitter wars between feminists and transgender activists, and it’s . . . mortifying, really. The feminists aren’t against transgender people per se, and indeed have regarded themselves as allies of the LBGTQ+ folk, but they draw the line at Self ID when it comes to women-only short-lists - i.e., if you’ve gone through the raft of procedures and have made physical adjustments to conform to your self-conception of your gender, fine, but you can’t just say you’re a woman and be a woman for the purpose of joining programs intended to benefit people who have always been, biologically, you know, women.

This earns them the TERF epithet and a torrent of abuse from progressive men, who have a particular flavor of vitriol for progressive women who believe that obiological determinism - i.e., the experience of growing up female, with all the hormonal shifts, physical maturation, experiences inhabiting a demonstrably female body subject to interactions with males - is a crucible in which female identity is formed. They may agree with the gender is fluid / social construct / etc side of the argument, but this buys them no good will unless they agree that some men have uterus and some women have penises. Bog forbid they’re a lesbian who doesn’t want schlong; they’re the worst.

So you have these progressive men - quite often Labour party functionaries, uni educated - excoriating the progressive women with the C word, over and over, with pride. The ultimate expression of enlightenment is misogyny, if the target has not conceded the most radical plank in the opposing camp’s argument as a precondition of conversation.

The end result drives most people away from the topic entirely. Instead of having a conversation about what we can understand from the anomalous individuals on the periphery of the human experience, we have to redefine the very center of the human experience to privilege the anomalies as the exception that disproves the rule, and makes all other certainties rubble.

Is that the objective? Seems so, in some quarters. It is entirely reasonable to insist that transgender people be treated with respect and addressed as they prefer to be addressed, because it’s the decent thing to do. It would seem counterproductive to insist that everyone must believe right now that women can have a penis or your presence in society is unwelcome and harmful.

Fine, the activists and allies may say; let those wrong-thinking people be cast to the outer realm where the shadows consume their soul! But when it becomes impossible to state aloud what most people believe to be true, then public discourse becomes a series of signals deployed to avoid consequence.


They listen for signals of shared affiliation.

If they get the right signals, they listen.

If they get the wrong signals, they object.

Argument without signaling is something they can't interpret at all.

What I’ve seen in the last few years is the diminution of the range of permissible dissent. The winnowing of the number of signals. It comes down to a half-dozen totems to which you have to place your burnt offerings; failure to pay proper respect calls your entire character into question. If you’re not automatically heel-clicky jawohl about Issue #8, you may be insufficiently enwokenated about Issue #16 over here. You have 140 characters to explain yourself.

I remember sitting in a booth in the Valli - A-4, if you must know - having a conversation with some Minnesota Daily co-workers, late at night. Susan was not a journalist; she was the office manager, older than the rest of us, mordant and smart and cutting and cynical. She was the first person I’d ever heard utter the horrid phrase: The personal is the political. I remember reacting like a vampire to a garlic-smothered cross: no no no, that can’t be, there has to be a distinction. Never occured to me that the obverse formulation was what they wanted: if the political is the personal, then incorrect thinking is a character defect, and possibly pathological. A sickness to be cut out.

Scapel, axe, whatever tool's handy.

Anyway. Let's watch some Batman after the break.




We're currently having a small amout of fun with that crusader fellow. The caped one. Also his Youthful Ward:

When last we left the Caped Crusader, he went out a window to certain death behind the Bat Truck. And indeed, he was killed. Or so I suspected, because it wasn’t really Batman; it was Jimmy Vale, Vicky’s loser brother.

Note the careful way these two conceal their True Identity.

Back at the Wizard’s HQ, the henchmen decide that Jimmy Vale was Batman. But then we learn why the Wizard is the brains of the operation:

Yeah, that’s ridiculous. But still, the Wizard is suspicious, and decides to give this idle playboy a closer look. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne starts to suspect the Wizard’s true identity - the old jerk in the chair!

Then follows a delicious battle of wits as each character warily circles around the man who may be his foe! Nah, just kidding; the Wizard dude tells Wayne he has no interest in discussing anything, although he is welcome to stay for dinner.

“No thanks,” says Bruce Wayne. I’m meeting Vicky Vale at the French Cafe.”

The fool! He’s stepped right their trap. Two henches pick him up, but they don’t know that Robin is listening in.


Yeah, when you think you have Batman, I guess you’re so pleased with yourself you forget all about the Robin part. He shows up and turns on the flashlight that strikes fear in the hearts of the underworld:

This makes the henches think Batman has shown up; all but one run out to look for Batman WHO CAN’T POSSIBLY BE BRUCE WAYNE NOW.

Then we see Batman slug one of the henches, which is odd since Bruce is sitting in the room at 52 Commercial Street; how could that be Batman? Don’t think about these things. Here's a thrilling escape action set piece to take your mind off the confusion. Remember, if you ever need to subdue someone, try the ol' Furniture Piling Move:


Then the Wizard drives up in costume, chews everybody out, and leaves.


If you’re keeping track, that’s three Batmans in this one ep alone. Well, they follow the Wiz; the Wiz notes the tail because Robin’s bad at this, and they turn off the Main Road to a Side Road.

Apparently Robin ran into a gong.

What next for this week? Well, for YGH, more of the same; it's columns every day and I'm getting crosseyed with it, but it's good to be productive. Unless the doctor's describing your cold.


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