April 7, 2008

(Emphasis Mine)


Wertham shouldn't be mocked as a simpleton or censor, but he was rather prissy and uptight. As terrible as many comics were, they had a wildness and vitality that he couldn't appreciate. Comics had a raw, visceral power, reflecting the plebian underside of American culture. To put it another way, it's a racist and sexist culture that makes racist and sexist comics, not the other way around. And however wretched these comics were, they spoke to real psychological needs in children and teenagers. Kids need monsters and ghouls, supervillains and superfoes, as much as they need parents and teachers. The guardians of childhood face a difficult balancing act: They have to let kids give imaginative rein to their more destructive emotions while also protecting the young from genuinely harmful words and images. With his blunt language and crude simplifications, Fredric Wertham made this balancing act harder, not easier. If he had paid more attention to comic books, Wertham would have realized that he was following down the path of villains like Lex Luthor and Dr. Doom, who start off with good intentions only to become prisoners of their own blind arrogance.


Sometimes journalists gave up promoting cataclysm and decided to cheerlead for it. In a Feb. 20, 2008, column, the Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein attacked Wall Street, saying "the best thing that could happen to our economy is for a dozen high-profile hedge funds to collapse; for investment banking to enter a long, deep freeze; for a major bank to fail."
Pearlstein ended his piece telling of the "voice in my head that keeps repeating that old '60s expression, 'Burn, baby, burn.' "
Some journalists are responsible and understand the problem. CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo, on NBC's "Today" in early February, acknowledged the media's obsession with negative news: "We can talk ourselves into a recession, and that seems to be what we're doing right now, and that certainly begets more weakness."
She is correct. That's what the media have been doing since the end of the last recession.


And yet it was the Family that divorced itself from the stream of mankind and Heston's character that maintained its link. History seems to suggest that in order to achieve the greatest universality a man must appear to be alone, just as in order to attain the greatest provincialism, membership in a mob is necessary. Maybe we live as individuals so that our only final kinship is with all humanity and not simply with a family, tribe or sect.

You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that ... and abide it ... you are - by your grandfathers' standards - cowards. ..


I know people care about the iWar. But not enough, given the circumstances. Not even close. Agree or disagree with the war, I don?t care - just give a fuck. Be able to find Basra on a map, know that the Tigris isn?t some sort of unholy crossbreed found at the San Diego Zoo, try to figure out the difference between a Sunni and a Shi?a even if it conplexes and perfuses your mind beyond repair. I wish I could issue some loud, righteous proclamation here about the repercussions of such continued resounding American apathy, but who are we kidding? The warrior caste is simply too small nowadays, and too proud. There will be no reckoning for all of this. We?ll fight the fights not because we necessarily want to, but because no one else will. We were bred to protect. Even if we?re protecting nothing more than an isolationistic yawn prefacing the continental slumber history demands occur after protracted warfare.


The long-predicted national debate about national security policy has yet to occur. Essentially tactical issues have overwhelmed the most important challenge a new administration will confront: how to distill a new international order from three simultaneous revolutions occurring around the globe: (a) the transformation of the traditional state system of Europe; (b) the radical Islamist challenge to historic notions of sovereignty; and (c) the drift of the center of gravity of international affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans...

...No previous generation has had to deal with different revolutions occurring simultaneously in separate parts of the world. The quest for a single, all-inclusive remedy is chimerical. In a world in which the sole superpower is a proponent of the prerogatives of the traditional nation-state, where Europe is stuck in halfway status, where the Middle East does not fit the nation-state model and faces a religiously motivated revolution, and where the nations of South and East Asia still practice the balance of power, what is the nature of the international order that can accommodate these different perspectives? What should be the role of Russia, which is affirming a notion of sovereignty comparable to America's and a strategic concept of the balance of power similar to Asia's? Are existing international organizations adequate for this purpose? What goals can America realistically set for itself and the world community? Is the internal transformation of major countries an attainable goal? What objectives must be sought in concert, and what are the extreme circumstances that would justify unilateral action?

This is the kind of debate we need, not focus-group-driven slogans designed to grab headlines.


Miller is particularly troubled by the financial situation in higher education, especially a financial aid system that he considers to be a byzantine mess that, especially as tuitions continue to soar, is ultimately failing to fulfill its primary purpose: expanding access to a college education to those who need it most. And not only do college officials show no serious signs of trying to fix the system?s flaws, he says, but Congress and others keep passing laws that just pour more money into it and even add to the complexity.

Part of the reason they do that, Miller argues, is because they believe college is such a valuable asset for individuals and for society. And they think that, in part, because of the widely embraced assertion that college is worth a million dollars in the bank. If a degree has that much value, how can we as a society not do everything possible to make sure everyone has a shot at the golden ring?

But what if the college premium doesn?t exist, or is greatly exaggerated? If a college degree isn?t worth as much as the conventional wisdom assumes, is it possible that the money the country keeps pouring into the current financial aid system isn?t wise? That taxpayer acceptance of the ever-rising price of higher education, patience that already wearing thin, would evaporate? And that that combination of factors would finally force college leaders and policy makers and others to get serious about confronting the problems?

Posted by Dennis at April 7, 2008 7:14 AM

1 Comment

Hey Dennis, I've been going thru some old
comic books and I wonder if I just found
one that u signed? Its a Silver
Surfer from May 1980. Is it
possible to send u a pic of the
Sig? Thank you

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