Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2020: Well, It’s Happened. People Are Going Nuts.

Good Morning!

I’m still sane!

For now….

1. Cultural literacy note. Ann Althouse, holed up and desperate for non-virus topics (as are we all), has been reduced to reading Woody Allen’s newly published memoirs and commenting on them. Today, reviewing a section where Allen said that his “literary heroes” growing up did not include Julian Sorrel, but did include comic book super-heroes like Hawkman and Submariner, among others. Ann, who’s a bit younger than me, openly admits that while she knows Julian Sorrel (“The Red and the Black”–yechhh). but never heard of Hawkman or Submariner.

Is that a girl thing? Admittedly, those are two relatively minor heroes in the D.C. and Marvel comic book universes, but Ann has had a long time to catch up. It reminds me that one’s perspective on so many matters—everything?—is affected by the shape of the culture one perceives, and holes, even little ones, make a difference. Althouse frequently reveals that she is weak on some popular culture (especially movies and TV). She’s a commentator on the American scene, and people are influenced by her opinions.  Nobody can know everything, but the fewer holes, the better.

2. Krazy Kollege Ethics...

At Slate, legal commentator John Culhane thinks Falwell is asking for lawsuits:

Universities can be liable for failing to safeguard the health and safety of their students and for coercing their employees (faculty and staff) to assume needless risks… there’s no sound reason for a university to defy sensible public health directives by encouraging faculty and students to return to campus. (This is especially true since this return is taking place right after spring break, when it’s a sure thing that at least some students were congregating in massive, unsafe numbers.) Such defiance of public health messaging, as well as the contrary decisions of seemingly all other institutions of higher learning, could add up to compelling evidence of negligent conduct—failing to act like a reasonable person under the circumstances. And a jury that got its hands on such a case might even find that Falwell’s conduct went beyond negligence and was reckless—meaning that it could find that he consciously disregarded a known risk. If so, Falwell and Liberty University could be saddled with punitive damages too, because Virginia, like most states, allows punitive damages for cases involving reckless conduct (but not “mere” negligence). Other employers who present their workers with such choices could be similarly called to account.

  • Straight into  the “What were they thinking?” files goes the strange case of Dean Allyson Green at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In  response to numerous student demands for a partial tuition refund because they have been evicted from campus, the Dean sent an email saying such a rebate would be “challenging” (Translation: “We would rather keep your money”) along with a video of her dancing to REM’s “Losing My Religion.” This, as you might imagine, has not gone over well.

The dance video was, I think we can agree, whimsical but disrespectful, evasive, and wildly unprofessional, even for an art school dean. Perhaps we can also agree that colleges and universities that close their campuses and deliver online classes rather than live ones are absolutely ethically obligated to refund a significant portion of each student’s tuition, which was inflated anyway.

3.  Of fish, fishing, and Mr. Limpet. I just saw an old trailer for Don Knotts’ regrettable movie, “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” i n which a fish-obsessed nerd magically becomes an animated fish and assists the U.S. Navy in combat missions. (I bet Althouse never heard of the film.) I was impressed with a line in the promotion, which was unusually honest: “This is sure to be the best movie about a man who turns into a fish that you’ll see all year!”

How true. But I digress.

On March 23rd, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued orders  prohibiting the state’s citizens from engaging in activities that involve social interaction and engaging in  any activity outside the home that is not specifically excepted by the order, like  shopping for groceries, travel for essential employment, and seeking emergency treatment. Citizens defying the order will face criminal prosecution.

Now the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, acting pursuant to the governor’s  mandate, has banned all fishing activities, even those of solo fishermen in lonely boats.

Darren Smith, Jonathan Turley’s occasional weekend understudy on his blog and a Washington resident, perceptively opines,

The continued over-reach and over-reaction by the administrative state of Washington and its politicians could eventually result in a pushback effect by the public if these agencies do not learn to control their impulses to take away freedom and basic human needs from the public. Every few business days here has brought yet another greater restriction prosecuted against the public and it could result in people losing faith and defying or ignoring future proclamations that might actually be reasonable in scope. Taking extreme measures such as what Fish and Wildlife did is not helping anyone.

4. What’s wrong with this headline? Today’s Times:”Flawed Kits, Red Tape and Leadership Failures Blinded Nation To Threat.”

Hmmm…something seems to be missing. What could it be?

 In response to the viral threat, President Trump issued the order banning travel from China on January 29. (For perspective, note that New York City mayor  de Blasio urged his city to get out and go to movies and shows on March 10.) Former Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein’s Vox tweeted, ‘Is this going to be a deadly pandemic? No.”  Lenny Bernstein at the Washington Post wrote on January 31, ‘|”Get a grippe , America. The flu is a much bigger threat than Coronavirus, for now.” Then the  Post’s editors wrote, “Past epidemics prove fighting coronavirus with travel bans is a mistake.”  Another op-ed was headlined, “How our brains make coronavirus seem scarier than it is.’” Three days later yet another op-ed explained to us “Why we should be wary of an aggressive government response to coronavirus.” It would lead to more stigmatization of marginalized populations, you see. Let’s get our priorities straight.

A few days before President Trump’s Oval Office address to the nation on the epidemic, CNN’s Anderson Cooper told his audience that “if you’re freaked out about the Coronavirus you should be more concerned about the flu.”  After Trump’s address, CNN’s fake media ethics watch-dog Brian Stelter said, “Sean Hannity and Fox were going to celebrate the travel ban while evading the scourge spread within the US.”

An ethical, trustworthy, objective news source would include in its finger-pointing its own industry and colleagues, which downplayed the threat of the virus for weeks in order to, of course, bash President Trump, push Big Lie #4, and advance their biggest concern at the time, political correctness.

But this is the New York Times.


58 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2020: Well, It’s Happened. People Are Going Nuts.

  1. 1. Even as a kid, I thought comic books were moronic. Square that to find what I think of movies about comic books.

    2. She’s a dance professor? She can’t dance any better than your average white guy.

    3. So the bureaucrats at the State of Washington think all fishing is recreational? Do they collect statistics on why people fish and get licenses to fish? You can go to the grocery store but you can’t pull a fish out of a body of water and eat it for dinner? Yes, there’s going to be reaction to all this “shelter in place” stuff. I’m already there. Whenever anyone ends a text or email with the meaningless and ungrammatical “stay safe,” I’m tempted to close a la Joe Pesci (speaking of fish) shooting into a trunk of a Pontiac in “Goodfellas,” “Die motherfucker!”

    • There is much that is moronic in society that we must be aware of to understand society. Examples: reality shows, Bernie Sanders fans, drug legalization activists, open borders supporters, pacifists, Alec Baldwin, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, statute-topplers, those who say “believe all women,” anyone who argues that Barack Obama was one of the great Presidents, Alyssa Milano, followers of Greta Thunberg, Robert DeNiro…the list is long and loops the Earth many times…

      • I am aware of comic books. I read Mad Magazine. I watched “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” Bugs Bunny (one of the greatest characters in American fiction) and Daffy Duck, read the comics in the newspaper. I’m just not big on fantasy. I hate science fiction. Of course there are tons of people who love comic books and comic book movies and fantasy and horror movies. Do I have to make a conscious effort to familiarize myself with the details of these various pointless pursuits to understand the world around me? No. Frankly, I think there’s some societal benefit in my disapproving of fatuous behaviors and interests. Cosplay conventions are beneficial?

          • Hah! Well, knowing where the line falls is way over my pay grade. I’d say it’s well inside of “reality” television. I do agree it’s good to be up on all sorts of trivia. I just think you’re more thorough than most people, certainly the undersigned.

        • My science fiction has never ventured beyond what I was forced to read in junior high (“The Martian Chronicles” and one or two short pieces). Fantasy goes no further than Middle Earth, where I return every August, a tradition I will continue until I die.

  2. I do not view the staff or student body of Liberty University as being the typical example of either. Therefore, the engagement in the debaucherous exploits of the average college student on Spring break was most likely few and far between. I doubt Liberty would see any lawsuits as a result of returning to business as usual. These are people who in general feel called to a higher purpose and have little regard for or interest in or litigious matters. The only problems that could possibly arise would be the result of agitators or those looking to give the university a black eye. Of course, I have no proof or data to back up my assertions, but I know the types of people with which we are dealing quite well. Besides, anything that challenges the authority of Ralph Northam is a point winner and welcomed in my book. That is my two cents on the matter, which was certainly not written to be “comment of the day” material.

    • For a school like Liberty, I think cancelling Spring Break and holding everyone on campus would not be that dissimilar to sending them home. Such schools are their own little community and college-age students seem to be at little risk with this virus. The big danger for them spreading the virus was letting them go to vacation spots for Spring Break.

  3. Regarding #3:

    When the president idlely speculated about a mandatory quarantine of NJ, NY, and CT, I couldn’t help but think that a mandatory travel ban with border checks would result in every dirt road in the forest between two states becoming a superhighway overnight, with people crossing just to stick it to the Man.

    Also, CT Governor Lamont gave an emergency press conference to address the president’s comments, assuring residents that such a quarantine was only speculative at this point. However, Lamont was asked about presidential understudy Andrew Cuomo’s response (that the President’s quarantine would be an act of war against the states), and Lamont visibly winced, and diplomatically answered that he’d phrase it differently. Lamont dramatically jumped in my esteem after that comment.

  4. I no longer trust the term reasonable when uttered by a politician. Are reasonable health laws anything like reasonable common sense gun regulation. If a governor wants to abrogate my rights do it by declaring martial law. Then we can challenge that in court. That is a reasonable request. I never thought I would live behind the iron curtain but I may be proved wrong if MD tracks along with some other states.

    Our Comptroller, Peter Franchot told MD residents to demand a 4 month forbearance from creditors, landlords, banks and insurance companies. Franchot is buying votes at others expense. Worse, he stated if people were rebuffed by those he listed people should contact the AG’s office, his office (state IRS) or the governor’s office for assistance. The implication is that offices with law enforcement power will intervene to pressure those owed money to allow tenants to live free for a third of the year. If I were a well known influential figure and told people to not pay their taxes I am sure I’d get a visit from one of his minions.

    Sorry but I now believe that this pandemic is being used to advance his or her political interests and the socialist narrative . Because of that I will push back on unreasonable demands by politicians. Both terms “reasonable” and its inverse ” unreasonable” are subjective and open to one’s own interpretation.

  5. Jack: “Julian Sorrel (“The Red and the Black”–yechhh)”

    Having read the book twice (though the last time being more than 10 years ago now), your literary review could use a tad more in the way of explication.


    • Sure. To begin with, it’s a translation, and I tried two before I gave up. Second, it’s a novel of the type I studied in college called the “Bildungsroman,” traditionally a story of a young man who sets out to make his way in the world, usually encountering two romantic interests, the soul mate and the lust object, on the way to various adventures and ordeals, emerging either a tragic figure or a mature and moral huamn being. I had to read dozens of these books, which include such classics as “David Copperfield,” “Great Expectations,” “The Way of all Flesh,” “The Mill on the Floss,” “Catcher in the Rye,” “Barry Lyndon,” and its not even a kind of story I particularly enjoy. “The Red and the Black” would finish dead last among those novels on my list. I didn’t like Stendahl’s turgid style, I didn’t find the hero interesting, I have no idea why it’s considered a classic.

      Hated the movie too.

      • I concur with Jack’s dismissal of “The Red and the Black.” I’d also add all the religious sectarian stuff is really tedious.

        “David Copperfield” and “[My] Great Expectations” are the pick of this litter, in my book. “Mill on the Floss?” Yuck. “Jude the Obscure (Not to Mention Boring)” is also awful. Dickens? Genius on a par with Mozart. Leaves all his English contemporaries in the dust.

        • Yes, “Jude the Obscure” was another book in that course, as was an unbelievably depressing William Golding novel called “Free Fall,” in which a German camp prisoner of war reviews his life to see where he went wrong. Yet I remember whole passages from that book, and the scene in which he encounters his lost love whom he had betrayed still haunts me.

          • GREAT book: “Sophie’s Choice.” And a great movie. Kevin Klein tremendous. Meryl Streep, for once, correctly cast as a justifiably morose woman. For once. Too bad she played Sophie in nearly every movie she appeared in. I enjoy all of Styron’s work. My good friend and English teacher took a creative writing class with Styron, i.e., Styron was in the class with my friend, when they were both undergrads at Duke. Styron would show up drunk or hungover and sleep at his desk.

      • Thanks, Jack.

        Now that you bring it up, I started Great Expectations when I was 17-ish. Got 100 pages (25%) into it and just did not enjoy it. Have not picked it up again. Was thinking about giving it another shot during lockdown, but did not manage to pick up a copy.

        A little unfinished business, you might say.


    • Jut, attempting it recently as an (old) adult, I found “Le Rouge et le Noir” very tough going and bailed about a third of the way in. But I do remember enjoying reading “Le Chartruese de Parme” as a high schooler. I think when we’re young, any novel’s presentation of “the real world” is fascinating since our experience is so limited. As we age, I think we have actual experience to compare to an author’s world. I read lots of Henry James around and during college and thought he was very important. I now find him unreadable because I find his characters and the world they inhabit absolutely preposterous. Plus, given our shortened attention spans, monumental works of fiction are tough going, even the best. But they remain incredible achievements. I just finished “A Tale of Two Cities” last year and really enjoyed it. All part of my reading my high school summer reading list. Finally.

      • Oh my goodness, a reference to “The Charterhouse of Parma”. I listened to that book in college. Our local public radio station had a show every weeknight called “The Book Club”. For thirty minutes, Doug Brown would read classics…and he was fabulous. “The Charterhouse of Parma” was one. “The Lord of the Rings” was another. He read three books from the “Horatio Hornblower” series, “Mawson’s Will”, “Lee’s Lieutenant” by Freeman…just so many good books. He read Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, and every Christmas Eve, the station would run a recording of that throughout the day.

        Sometimes it’s so beautiful to be reminded of beautiful things…thanks Other Bill!!!

      • A Tale of Two Cities is another one I have read twice. Really enjoyed it both times. The Charterhouse of Parma didn’t do it for me.


  6. 3. Jack, when you had your list of movies a few days back, I was going to suggest “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”. I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but I’ve seen the movie at least twice I think I’m glad I didn’t mention it. It’s been written here before, but it’s worth repeating, a huge fear in all of this is government’s tendency to overreach. It’s so hard to get them to loosen up – or worse, once this crisis ends, they will use a much lesser issue to go all draconian on us again. I’m not really surprised that the state run by Gov. Inslee – who tends to err on the VERY progressive side of things – is overreaching. I just wonder if the state’s overall population has enough constitutional blood left in its veins to see it.

    I hope so…

    • Who knows what makes movies strike a chord? I’m sorry I dissed a well-loved movie of yours. It is certainly a sweet movie, and, you’re right, upbeat. As Saroyan said, if one human being sings your song, you have succeeded as an artist, and haven’t lived in vain.

      • No apology is necessary, Jack. No one is required to like the same movies as I do. Actually, I’m excited for part two of your list. It appears we share a common appreciation of some of the same John Wayne movies.

        All the best to you. Stay healthy!! If I may ask, how is Mrs. Marshall doing? Is her recovery progressing well?

    • Kinda like how the Patriot Act was supposed to be a temporary measure. Aren’t we still living under a “state of National emergency” that was declared in 1933?

  7. 1. Re Falwell:
    A private Christian (denominationally affiliated) liberal arts university in my town recently reported its first case of COVID-19. Their official statement said that “the student had recently returned from an out of state trip to visit friends.” Translation: She went to Florida for Spring Beak!
    3.Re Washington governor’s overreach:
    Ah, life is good here in the Southland, where I can still peaceably fish in my own lake without worry that the DWR will prod me back indoors! Ditto with trips to the shooting range (although the clubhouse is closed) on fair days for some “group therapy” (the pleasure derived from shooting tight groups) and riding my UTV daily to keep a check on fence lines and possible storm damage to our trees.
    Our county has been holding at five confirmed cases for several days now, and most people seem to be complying with social distancing protocols and crowd avoidance. Our governor knows better than to propose such drastic controls for our rural areas. Ridiculous!

  8. 1. Both Aquaman and Submariners are the same King of the Sea archetype in comics and were much more popular around WWII and the 50s. They have invulnerability-super-strength that was part of most superhero powers for the earlier decades. (with Spiderman and the Doom patrol you started getting more varied powers and backgrounds in the 60s, who were less ‘square.’)

    Later-generation fans (genX to today want more dark angst and less traditional heroes) just don’t find the ability to swim to the depths of the ocean and strength as compelling as adamantium claws or a soul spirit attack demon. Both sea kings occasionally go through a good story arc, but fell prey to message writing badly in the 70s, with the predictable loss of popularity. Both major companies still have not learned that lesson with the promos of New new warriors and Gotham high.

    Submariner has been antagonist as often as a hero, but I think has only been supporting cast in video, Aquaman was main cast in the 70s Superfriends and lead for a hot movie about 18 months ago. Perhaps the bigger issue is that the king of the sea archetype is pretty forgotten now that the world values flight far more than the unpredictability of the ocean. What percent of adventure stories are sea-based compared to a century ago? How many know about Captain Blood or know Horatio Hornblower, instead of the space Captain inspired by them?

    3. “no, I’m not breaking quarantine. I’m retrieving my prime fish filets stored in an environmentally friendly, energy efficient storage location.”

    I really think the people urging this ban would prefer we stop eating meat and fish entirely, because this is pure dumbth.

  9. ” In response to the viral threat, President Trump issued the order banning travel from China on January 29″

    Point of order, Mr Speaker.

    The ban was only for furriners. US citizens were free to travel to and from China, and did. While that was entirely reasonable from what was known at the time ,in hindsight not a great move without a quarantine period of 14 days.

    Nonetheless, this was a good move by Trump. Sure, there were thousands of cases already in the US, but at the time there was no reason to suspect that.

    Biden’s criticism of it was at best a blunder due to not be8ng privy to the intelligence briefings over the previous 2 months, especially the increasingly desperate ones of the previous 2 weeks, at worst cynical politics as usual.

    It gave the US at least an extra 2 weeks of breathing room to prepare. That that was wasted is irrelevant. Had Trump not decreed his partial ban, there would have been 2500 US fatalities by March 23rd, rather than March 30th. All other things being equal.

    Australia implemented an equally flawed partial ban on the same day as the US. Despite one inexcusable egregious blunder that raised national infections by 25%, number of reported infections per head is 1/10 that of the US, despite a far more extensive testing regime where over 99% of tests are negative. The US could have done even better than this, see blunder, egregious, but hasn’t for whatever reason.

      • Trump’s statements over the period do not support your thesis.

        A good start? Yes, definitely, and Biden’s critique at the time was wrong, wrong, wrong. Wronger than wrong. Did I mention it was wrong? Well it was.

        Awareness of the threat? Nope. Not in light of Trump’s comments, and worse, inaction, over the next 4 weeks. Complete obliviousness is closer. His feelng that it was under control led him to ignore inconvenient reports to the contrary.

        Anyone can take snippets of speech out of context to guve a misleading picture. But if you think this ad is inaccurate, look at the contexts of each snippet.

        Example :

        Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, “How’s President Trump doing?”, “Oh, nothing, nothing.” They have no clue, they don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa, they can’t even count. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, “Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.” That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since he got in. It’s all turning, they lost. It’s all turning, think of it, think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country and because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.

        If this shows an awareness of the seriousness of the problem, that the partial ban was not even remotely enough, that he had been told that were already over 60 confirmed cases with the strong possibility of thousands more undetected, as turned out to be the case…then I am Marie of Rumania.

        Australia didn’t have this problem. (It had others – see below)

        One correction – Australia’s death rate is 1/10 that of the US, Detection rate closer to 1/4, but that is because of the greater number of actual tests performed, rather than the fictional “million and a half” reported by the White House on March 3rd.

        Also because of a truly monumental screw up regarding allowing passengers from a cruise ship to disembark and fly to their homes around the country before their test results came in. Risk was deemed slight as the ship had embarked from Australia and not called in on any port since. Now in hindsight we know cruise ships are floating petri dishes, ideal for spreading infection, so instead of one infected passenger from overseas who we could treat, we now have over 250 additional cases and 25% of our fatality count.

        • The passage you quote, I’m sure you’ll agree, doesn’t say the virus is a hoax in any way. Admittedly, its the usual Trump word salad, but he’s saying that the Democrats are politicizing the virus, which they were and are. The blame can be nicely distributed among two or more administrations, the FDA, the CDC, the news media, and more.

          The death rate and infection rates in the US are still meaningless, and comparisons with other systems are even more meaningless. No other threatened pandemic or virus outbreak ever caused the US to shut down the economy with all that means…second guessing a decision to do that, when it is both natural and reasonable not to do so until there is literally no choice, is both easy and impossible to take seriously or regard as fair. Especially since so little was known about the virus, and China was, as it is continuing to, hiding the ball. And you have this occurring in an election year, and Democrats have been openly hoping for the crash of the economy.

          I doubt any President withing memory would have handled the scenario differently, and I’m certain that any who handled it similarly would not be constantly criticized like this.

  10. 1. Is not knowing one of Marvel’s 10,000 (not an exaggeration, I Googled the number) characters, particularly one that hasn’t been in use since the 70’s, and was really only popular in the 50’s following WWII a “girl thing”? No, you’re just old and liked comic books when you were young. It’s not even a cultural literacy thing… That assumes that Submariner is somehow a meaningful part of culture. I bet you more people associate “Submariner” with the Rolex watch (which is literally all that comes up when you google submariner) than with an out-of-ink pre-golden-age superhero. It’s trivia.

    I’ve disagreed with you before on the topic of cultural literacy, but this crystallized something for me… Previously, we’d talked about cultural literacy in the context of important historical pieces, things that are still referenced today, and I still think it’s unreasonable to expect people being raised today to care about the things that affected the culture that you grew up with because, frankly, there’s no way for them to know it. There’s probably more hours of music, video, and Broadway you’ve consumed than hours the zoomers have been alive.

    But now you’re talking cultural literacy in the context of pop fiction, I don’t think that’s just unreasonable, I think it’s wrong. I think that you’re making the same error that so many do… Including Social Justice harpies when talking about cultural appropriation, or white nationalists when talking about “European Values”. You’re forgetting that culture changes. And while some classics will always remain classic, pop culture is a constantly changing animal, and I’m sure it’s left you in the dust. I bet you good money that you’ve never even heard the names Jenna Marbles, Jimmy Donaldson (Mr. Beast), Richard Blevins (Ninja) or Sean McLoughlin (Jack Septiceye), and even if they happenned to get mentioned in a way you recognize the name, I’m sure you can’t tell me without Googling the content that makes them famous. These entertainers have audiences that CNN would literally commit axe murder to get a portion of. Their content is consumed by literally hundreds of times more people than the most printed copy of Submariner ever. “Gangnam Style” by Psy was viewed 3.5 Billion times since 2010. The most printed comic book ever (Uncle Scrooge) had a print run of a little over a million copies. There’s no reasonable metric that says Markiplier is less culturally relevant than Hawkman.

    I guess you have some serious YouTubing to do.

    • You know what might be an interesting exercise…. Let’s say that an avocado-toast liking, Tide-pod surviving zoomer decided that they wanted the Jack Marshall seal of cultural approval. What’s the beginner’s list to things they have so see/hear/know/understand to get them started on the road to literacy?

      • Second. I’m supposed to regard Beyoncé (or “Bey”) as a cultural icon? I had to listen to Madonna when our daughter was a teenager, but I’m not even sure she’s a cultural icon. And I suspect Beyoncé is now old hat compared to who knows who.

    • “I guess you have some serious YouTubing to do.”

      Oh, I do, for sure. But I continue to do it. What bugs me about Ann (and others) is that she doesn’t think her cultural literacy holes matter, and they do. I bet she hasn’t seen, and maybe heard of, 3/4 of those films on my “Wuhan Virus” list. That has consequences. You seriously understate the importance and prominence of Submariner—Hawkman (and his wife) were always marginal DC characters, so I agree with you there, that was unfair of me.

      But the point, and I should have been clearer, is that the more cross generational pop culture you know, the better you understand that generation, and their metaphors and vantage points.

      I didn’t “like” Submariner: in fact, I never read a single comic that featured him. But I was aware of him. I was also aware of Nora Bayes, Sonny Tufts, Dick Haymes, Broncho Nagurski, Walter Hunt, and many other figures a lot less well known when I was kid than Submariner was then or now—and every one of them came in useful at one time or another as I tried, and continue to try, to understand US culture and attitudes.

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