September 2011 links: US Airways and other airline malfeasance, Lev Grossman on horror, eBooks, college admissions, California and more

* Why smart [people] have a tough time dating.

* California or Bust. If you read nothing else in this post, read this.

* Dear United Airlines: I Want My Kindle, and My Dignity, Back. I recently had a nasty US Airways experience that naturally made me want to never fly them again (it was the same trip mentioned in Lessons in Language from the TSA and George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”). But it appears that searching for dignity on airlines is a futile effort. Southwest seems mostly okay, but given what they did to Leisha Hailey and Kyla Ebbert, I’m not so sure they’re an improvement over standard airlines any more.

* Lev Grossman:

It’s strange: I’m not a horror writer, but horror always creeps its way into my books somehow, at some point or another. My horror tends to be psychological horror, fantastical horror — in other words the horror of a middle-aged white guy to whom nothing truly horrifying as actually ever happened, except, you know, the existential horror of being born or whatever. September 11th is probably the closest I’ve ever come to the real thing: I didn’t witness horror, but I could sense it. It wasn’t far away. In fact it was very close. I hope I never get any closer.]

* File this under “no shit:” “The e-book marketplace is redefining what people expect to pay for books.” If I end up self-publishing—which is starting to look more like “when” than “if”—I’ll keep this in mind.

Besides, look at history: books have gotten steadily cheaper over time from virtually any period to the present; you can start as far back as Gutenberg.

* “[T]he broader point really is the cliche: this is what it looks like when “the terrorists win” and we lose the long-term struggle to protect a free society.” From James Fallows.

* An interesting Newsweek piece on Jeffrey Eugenides and his new novel, The Marriage Plot, includes this bit:

“I think religion has been incredibly neglected in the contemporary novel,” Eugenides said. “It obviously functions hugely in the country, yet in the secular novel people avoid it.

I think there’s a reason religion is neglected: it has no intellectual force or validity. Alchemy and healing crystals are also neglected because, well, who cares? Richard Dawkins goes overboard—see this profile for more—opposing religion in a way that I’m glad someone is doing but really can’t stir much ardor about. Eugenides goes on talk about his going back and forth with belief, but the real answer is simpler: religion doesn’t much matter, except when it masks political and economic grievances in such a way as to, say, encourage people to fly planes into buildings or blow themselves up.

Novelists, on the whole, are on to more interesting subjects, which I consider a great virtue.

* ““Shame”: Michael Fassbender’s full-monty skin flick [. . .] The Irish star strips down in “Shame,” Steve McQueen’s devastating sex-addiction drama.”

* The most important post you haven’t read and probably won’t read: Great Stagnation…or Great Relocation?:

Suppose all of those people had the same purchasing power. If you were a factory owner, and you wanted to minimize transport costs, where would you put your factories? The answer is a no-brainer: China and India. Some others in Europe, Japan, and Indonesia. Perhaps a couple on the U.S. East Coast. But for the most part, you’d laugh in the face of any consultant who told you to put a factory in the U.S. The place looks like one giant farm!

It may be that American manufacturing strength was due to a historical accident. Here is the story I’m thinking of. First, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our proximity to Europe – at that time the only agglomerated Core in the world – allowed us to serve as a low-cost manufacturing base. Then, after World War 2, the U.S. was the only rich capitalist economy not in ruins, so we became the new Core. But as Europe and Japan recovered, our lack of population density made our manufacturing dominance short-lived.

Now, with China finally free of its communist constraints, economic activity is reverting to where it ought to be. More and more, you hear about companies relocating to China not for the cheap labor, but because of the huge domestic market. This is exactly the New Economic Geography in action.

* Fuckin’ awesome: NASA revealed on Wednesday a design for its next colossal rocket that is to serve as the backbone for exploration of the solar system for the coming decades.

Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit.

* Susie Bright: Before there was YouPorn. Safe for Work, I should add.

* I updated How to get your Professors’ Attention — along with Coaching or Mentoring with some new material. The main points of the essay remain, but I added a few other examples based on stuff I’ve read recently.

* What is to be done about this cacophony of copulation?

* The Real Problem With College Admissions: It’s Not the Rankings. Notice especially the graph.

* My favorite recent search query: “philip zimbardo porn.”

* When Everyone Is an Offender: Our enormous, often vague legal code gives prosecutors too much room for interpretation.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Midnight Palace and The Prince of Mist show moments of promise, and yet. . .

I bought Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Midnight Palace and The Prince of Mist because I loved The Angel’s Game and The Shadow of the Wind so much. But The Midnight Palace and The Prince of Mist are disappointing. The most fascinating thing isn’t their generally low quality, however. It’s the moments when the later Zafón pokes through, showing what’s to come. I left The Prince of Mist and The Midnight Palace at my parents’ house, and when my Dad started reading one, he stopped and mentioned how awful they were. But they have moments where Zafón shows what he’ll later become—where he describes places, engages and rewrites cliches, talks about shocking family secrets, reveals the semi-supernatural villain. Unfortunately, cliches dominate, the writing is flat, and characters hold the interest of small-town human interest stories. But his later work gets those things right.

I wrote a whole post describing why the young adult novels are bad and pointing out the germs that later sprouted into his stronger, later work. But you know what? All those examples don’t matter. The books are weak for all kinds of reasons that are obvious on a first reading. I deleted all my earlier commentary because I realized that Zafón is an example of an experimental artist, as defined by David Galenson in his fascinating book Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity. Zafón’s books are important only because they also show the danger of assessing an author based on a single work: Zafón’s young adult novels came out before his later, better novels. If I’d read them first, I doubt I would’ve read what came next. Fortunately, however, those books weren’t translated until after Zafón became successful.

In Galenson’s distinction, experimental artists tend to grow slowly; their early work is very seldom considered their important work. By contrast, Galenson describes conceptual artists who tend to do important early work that totally redefines their field; their later work tends not to have the punch it might otherwise have. Experimental artists often don’t have a single defining work, but rather a large body of production that often feels like a unified whole. Conceptual artists often have one or a small number of significant works. The theory is much elaborated from this unfortunate sketch, which naturally loses many of the details that make Galenson good. But you can graft his analysis directly onto Zafón. If I thought the earlier books were worth the effort, I would take your time and mine to do a major compare and contrast between them. They’re not, however. What is important is the lesson one can draw about not prematurely judging a writer based on premature work that might not show the late emergence of talent based on experience and extensive effort in a field.

I’m not going to read Zafón’s other young adult novels; he wrote four prior to The Shadow of the Wind. But when his next novel in the Shadow of the Wind and Angel’s Game sequence emerges, I’ll gladly clear the decks to read it.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Midnight Palace and The Prince of Mist show moments of promise, and yet. . .

I bought Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Midnight Palace and The Prince of Mist because I loved The Angel’s Game and The Shadow of the Wind so much. But The Midnight Palace and The Prince of Mist are disappointing. The most fascinating thing isn’t their generally low quality, however. It’s the moments when the later Zafón pokes through, showing what’s to come. I left The Prince of Mist and The Midnight Palace at my parents’ house, and when my Dad started reading one, he stopped and mentioned how awful they were. But they have moments where Zafón shows what he’ll later become—where he describes places, engages and rewrites cliches, talks about shocking family secrets, reveals the semi-supernatural villain. Unfortunately, cliches dominate, the writing is flat, and characters hold the interest of small-town human interest stories. But his later work gets those things right.

I wrote a whole post describing why the young adult novels are bad and pointing out the germs that later sprouted into his stronger, later work. But you know what? All those examples don’t matter. The books are weak for all kinds of reasons that are obvious on a first reading. I deleted all my earlier commentary because I realized that Zafón is an example of an experimental artist, as defined by David Galenson in his fascinating book Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity. Zafón’s books are important only because they also show the danger of assessing an author based on a single work: Zafón’s young adult novels came out before his later, better novels. If I’d read them first, I doubt I would’ve read what came next. Fortunately, however, those books weren’t translated until after Zafón became successful.

In Galenson’s distinction, experimental artists tend to grow slowly; their early work is very seldom considered their important work. By contrast, Galenson describes conceptual artists who tend to do important early work that totally redefines their field; their later work tends not to have the punch it might otherwise have. Experimental artists often don’t have a single defining work, but rather a large body of production that often feels like a unified whole. Conceptual artists often have one or a small number of significant works. The theory is much elaborated from this unfortunate sketch, which naturally loses many of the details that make Galenson good. But you can graft his analysis directly onto Zafón. If I thought the earlier books were worth the effort, I would take your time and mine to do a major compare and contrast between them. They’re not, however. What is important is the lesson one can draw about not prematurely judging a writer based on premature work that might not show the late emergence of talent based on experience and extensive effort in a field.

I’m not going to read Zafón’s other young adult novels; he wrote four prior to The Shadow of the Wind. But when his next novel in the Shadow of the Wind and Angel’s Game sequence emerges, I’ll gladly clear the decks to read it.

Why these assignment sheets: The world isn't going to be a routine place, and writing projects shouldn't be either

Phil Bowermaster writes:

Increasingly, perhaps, a job is something that we each have to create. We can’t count on someone else to create one for us. That model is disappearing. We have to carve something out for ourselves, something that the machines won’t immediately grab.

Bowermaster is describing on a macro scale what I try to do a micro scale with the papers I assign to students. The important part of my assignment sheets for freshman composition papers are only two paragraphs long, and students sometimes find them frustrating, but I do them this way because the world is headed in a direction that offers less direction and more power to do the right or wrong thing. Here’s an example of an assignment sheet:

Purpose: To explain and interpret a possible message or messages suggested by a) a text or texts we have read for class, b) a text or texts in Writing as Revision, or c) a book of your own choosing. If you write on a book of your own, you must clear your selection with me first. Your goal should be persuade readers of your interpretation using the texts studied and outside reading material.

You should construct a thesis that is specific and defensible and then explicate it through points, illustrations, and explanation. See Chapters 8 and 9 of A Student’s Guide To First-Year Writing for more information on the nature of textual analysis.

That’s it. Students can read more about the assignment if they want to, and they have a lot of freedom in picking a topic. Students often want more direction, which I give to some extent, but I don’t give step-by-step instructions because a) step-by-step instructions yield boring papers and b) in their real-life writing, the real challenge isn’t the writing. It’s the deciding what to write about and how to write once you’ve decided to start. The writing assignment often isn’t given; the writing assignment is made.

It’s a big leap to go from “write-a-good-paper” assignment sheets to conceptualizing “a job [as] something that we each have to create.” Maybe too big a leap. But the thinking and rationale behind my decision is clear: jobs that can be easily codified and described as a series of steps—jobs that are easily explained, in other words—are increasingly going away, either to off-shoring or automation. The ones that persist will be the ones that don’t exist now because no one has thought to do them. But a lot of school still appears to consists of a person in front of the room saying, “Follow these steps,” having the students follow the steps, and then moving on.

That model isn’t totally wrong—you can’t create something from nothing—but maybe we should more often be saying, “Here’s the kind of thing you should be doing. What steps should you take? How should you take them? Do something and then come talk to me about it.” That kind of model might be more time consuming and less easily planned, and I wouldn’t want to use it in every hour of every day. Many basic skills still need to be taught along the lines or “This is how you use a comma,” or “this is how an array works.” But we should be collectively moving towards saying, “Here are some constraints. Show me you can think. Show me you can make something from this.” And class isn’t totally devoid of support: unlike the real world, class has mandatory drafts due, lots of discussion about what makes strong writing strong, and the chance to see other people’s work. The imposed, artificial deadlines are particularly important. It’s not like I hand out assignment sheets and shove students out to sea, to flounder or float completely on their own.

Still, from what I can see, the world is increasingly rewarding adaptability and flexibility. I don’t see that trend changing; if anything, it seems likely to accelerate. If schools are going to (collectively) do a better job, they probably need to work on learning how to teach adaptability in the process of teaching subject-specific material. Offering the kinds of assignments I do is a microscopically small step in that direct, but big changes usually consist of a series of small steps. The assignments are one such step. This post is another.

In “A Welcome Call to Greatness,” John Hagel discusses That Used to Be Us, a book by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum that discusses what Hagel calls “creative creators” – “people who do their nonroutine work in distinctively nonroutine ways.” And that’s what I’m trying to do above: train students into being able to do nonroutine writing of a sort that will be distinctive, interesting, and well-done, but without a great deal of obvious managerial oversight from someone else. Great writing seldom springs from someone micromanaging: it springs from discussions, ideas, unexpected metaphors, connections, seeing old things in new ways, and form a plenitude of other places that can’t be easily described.

In “The Age of the Essay,” Paul Graham says:

Anyone can publish an essay on the Web, and it gets judged, as any writing should, by what it says, not who wrote it. Who are you to write about x? You are whatever you wrote.

Popular magazines made the period between the spread of literacy and the arrival of TV the golden age of the short story. The Web may well make this the golden age of the essay. And that’s certainly not something I realized when I started writing this.

He’s right. The most challenging writing most of my students will do isn’t even going to have the opportunity for someone else to micromanage it. The writing will increasingly be online. It will increasingly be their own decision to write or not write. As Penelope Trunk says, it will increasingly be essential for a good career. It won’t be routine. As I said above, routine work that can be codified and described in a series of steps will be exported to the lowest bidder. Valuable work will be the work nobody has dreamt up. Jobs will be “something that we each have to create.” I’m sure a lot of people will be unhappy with the change, but the secular forces moving in this direction look too great to be overcome by any individual. You surf the waves life and society throws at you, or you fall off the board and struggle. The worst cases never get back on the board and drown. I want students to have the best possible shot at staying on the board, and that means learning they can’t assume someone else is going to create a job—or an assignment—for them. They have to learn to do it themselves. They need to be creative. As Hagel quotes Mandelbaum and Friedman as saying, “Continuous innovation is not a luxury anymore – it is becoming a necessity.” I worry that too few students are getting the message.

I think of some of my friends who are unemployed, and when I ask them what they do all day, they say they spend time searching for a job, hanging out, watching TV. To me, this is crazy. If I were unemployed, I’d be writing, or learning Python, or posting on Craigslist with offers to work doing whatever I can imagine doing. The last thing I’d be doing is watching TV. In other words, I’d be doing something similar to what I’m doing now, even when I am employed: building skills, trying new things, and not merely sitting around waiting for good things to come to me. They won’t. Good things are the things one makes. Most of my employed friends seem to get this on some level, or have found their way into protected niches like teaching or nursing. I wonder if my unemployed friends had teachers and professors who forced them to think for themselves, or if they had teachers and professors who were content to hand them well-defined assignments that didn’t require much thinking about the “how” instead of the “what.”

Why these assignment sheets: The world isn’t going to be a routine place, and writing projects shouldn’t be either

Phil Bowermaster writes:

Increasingly, perhaps, a job is something that we each have to create. We can’t count on someone else to create one for us. That model is disappearing. We have to carve something out for ourselves, something that the machines won’t immediately grab.

Bowermaster is describing on a macro scale what I try to do a micro scale with the papers I assign to students. The important part of my assignment sheets for freshman composition papers are only two paragraphs long, and students sometimes find them frustrating, but I do them this way because the world is headed in a direction that offers less direction and more power to do the right or wrong thing. Here’s an example of an assignment sheet:

Purpose: To explain and interpret a possible message or messages suggested by a) a text or texts we have read for class, b) a text or texts in Writing as Revision, or c) a book of your own choosing. If you write on a book of your own, you must clear your selection with me first. Your goal should be persuade readers of your interpretation using the texts studied and outside reading material.

You should construct a thesis that is specific and defensible and then explicate it through points, illustrations, and explanation. See Chapters 8 and 9 of A Student’s Guide To First-Year Writing for more information on the nature of textual analysis.

That’s it. Students can read more about the assignment if they want to, and they have a lot of freedom in picking a topic. Students often want more direction, which I give to some extent, but I don’t give step-by-step instructions because a) step-by-step instructions yield boring papers and b) in their real-life writing, the real challenge isn’t the writing. It’s the deciding what to write about and how to write once you’ve decided to start. The writing assignment often isn’t given; the writing assignment is made.

It’s a big leap to go from “write-a-good-paper” assignment sheets to conceptualizing “a job [as] something that we each have to create.” Maybe too big a leap. But the thinking and rationale behind my decision is clear: jobs that can be easily codified and described as a series of steps—jobs that are easily explained, in other words—are increasingly going away, either to off-shoring or automation. The ones that persist will be the ones that don’t exist now because no one has thought to do them. But a lot of school still appears to consists of a person in front of the room saying, “Follow these steps,” having the students follow the steps, and then moving on.

That model isn’t totally wrong—you can’t create something from nothing—but maybe we should more often be saying, “Here’s the kind of thing you should be doing. What steps should you take? How should you take them? Do something and then come talk to me about it.” That kind of model might be more time consuming and less easily planned, and I wouldn’t want to use it in every hour of every day. Many basic skills still need to be taught along the lines or “This is how you use a comma,” or “this is how an array works.” But we should be collectively moving towards saying, “Here are some constraints. Show me you can think. Show me you can make something from this.” And class isn’t totally devoid of support: unlike the real world, class has mandatory drafts due, lots of discussion about what makes strong writing strong, and the chance to see other people’s work. The imposed, artificial deadlines are particularly important. It’s not like I hand out assignment sheets and shove students out to sea, to flounder or float completely on their own.

Still, from what I can see, the world is increasingly rewarding adaptability and flexibility. I don’t see that trend changing; if anything, it seems likely to accelerate. If schools are going to (collectively) do a better job, they probably need to work on learning how to teach adaptability in the process of teaching subject-specific material. Offering the kinds of assignments I do is a microscopically small step in that direct, but big changes usually consist of a series of small steps. The assignments are one such step. This post is another.

In “A Welcome Call to Greatness,” John Hagel discusses That Used to Be Us, a book by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum that discusses what Hagel calls “creative creators” – “people who do their nonroutine work in distinctively nonroutine ways.” And that’s what I’m trying to do above: train students into being able to do nonroutine writing of a sort that will be distinctive, interesting, and well-done, but without a great deal of obvious managerial oversight from someone else. Great writing seldom springs from someone micromanaging: it springs from discussions, ideas, unexpected metaphors, connections, seeing old things in new ways, and form a plenitude of other places that can’t be easily described.

In “The Age of the Essay,” Paul Graham says:

Anyone can publish an essay on the Web, and it gets judged, as any writing should, by what it says, not who wrote it. Who are you to write about x? You are whatever you wrote.

Popular magazines made the period between the spread of literacy and the arrival of TV the golden age of the short story. The Web may well make this the golden age of the essay. And that’s certainly not something I realized when I started writing this.

He’s right. The most challenging writing most of my students will do isn’t even going to have the opportunity for someone else to micromanage it. The writing will increasingly be online. It will increasingly be their own decision to write or not write. As Penelope Trunk says, it will increasingly be essential for a good career. It won’t be routine. As I said above, routine work that can be codified and described in a series of steps will be exported to the lowest bidder. Valuable work will be the work nobody has dreamt up. Jobs will be “something that we each have to create.” I’m sure a lot of people will be unhappy with the change, but the secular forces moving in this direction look too great to be overcome by any individual. You surf the waves life and society throws at you, or you fall off the board and struggle. The worst cases never get back on the board and drown. I want students to have the best possible shot at staying on the board, and that means learning they can’t assume someone else is going to create a job—or an assignment—for them. They have to learn to do it themselves. They need to be creative. As Hagel quotes Mandelbaum and Friedman as saying, “Continuous innovation is not a luxury anymore – it is becoming a necessity.” I worry that too few students are getting the message.

I think of some of my friends who are unemployed, and when I ask them what they do all day, they say they spend time searching for a job, hanging out, watching TV. To me, this is crazy. If I were unemployed, I’d be writing, or learning Python, or posting on Craigslist with offers to work doing whatever I can imagine doing. The last thing I’d be doing is watching TV. In other words, I’d be doing something similar to what I’m doing now, even when I am employed: building skills, trying new things, and not merely sitting around waiting for good things to come to me. They won’t. Good things are the things one makes. Most of my employed friends seem to get this on some level, or have found their way into protected niches like teaching or nursing. I wonder if my unemployed friends had teachers and professors who forced them to think for themselves, or if they had teachers and professors who were content to hand them well-defined assignments that didn’t require much thinking about the “how” instead of the “what.”

"Free Agents," the TV show, proves itself dumb in the first three minutes through the "slut" debate

Free Agents, the TV show, begins with two characters in bed, and one opens a full condom drawer. The guy sees and says something like, “What are you—a slut?” The woman replies, and they have an excruciating discussion whose underlying content is a typical rehash of an ancient calumny about female sexuality. The scene is neither funny nor genuine, and the two problems are related.

If your characters are old enough to have a B.A., they’re old enough not to care about the idea of the “slut.” Younger characters, especially ones in high school, might still be interested in whether someone is a “slut,” but that’s mostly because a) teenagers are projecting uncertainty and fear regarding their own sexuality on others, b) many have parents who engage in various forms of daughter-guarding and other forms of shame internalization, and c) girls, especially, will use social approbation and shaming as a form of mate guarding behavior. If older characters like those in Free Agents are still concerned about the same problems as high school students, they’ve not matured enough to even be interesting. Even a show like Californication, whatever its other flaws, has moved beyond the “slut” question.

Like Free Agents, it’s also about someone with a stunted emotional life, but at least Californication is intellectually honest enough not to go for the “slut” question. Rather, it assumes that people who want to do it, do it, and people who don’t, don’t, which seems like the way the world is heading. Besides, by college graduation or thereabouts, most people will never really know about their partners’ past, and, again, by the time one graduates from college or reaches the age at which college graduation occurs, everyone is someone’s sloppy seconds. The median age for first sex in the United Sates is somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 (see Google for more); by the time a person hits their 30s, asking number questions becomes pointless if potentially amusing.

I’m not annoyed only because the concept behind word “slut” does, as Mark Liberman put it, “project bad associations based on a framework of ideas that I don’t endorse.” Even if you do do endorse that framework, endorsing it with someone you’re about to have sex with probably isn’t the optimal place to engage the issue. It only makes you look like a hypocrite and a fool, but, from what I can tell, that wasn’t what Free Agents was going for. It played the issue straight. To go back to Liberman—who is himself also writing about a TV show, albeit Sex and the City—”The word slut itself clearly retains strong negative connotations, quite apart from one’s opinions about sexual morality, but such things can change if enough people want them to.” TV shows aren’t necessarily a medium that promotes social and intellectual

I can see why TV show writers might go for the “slut”: they think it can create dramatic tension. But it’s a false dramatic tension, which is why I said the issue isn’t “genuine,” and false dramatic tension leads to jokes that aren’t funny either, because such jokes don’t engage any substantive ideas; really funny jokes often or usually do. Pretty much every single person with the proverbial half a brain has condoms around. Their presence doesn’t mean anything more than, “I’m prepared for the best,” which is a refreshing change compared to people who are prepared for the worst. It would be stranger if the woman in the show was single and didn’t have condoms.

So the “slut” problem reduces to one of two issues: the writers are lazy, so they introduce being a “slut” or not to create artificial tension; or the writers are dumb because they deal with a dead issue. Neither bodes well for the show. But it does hold an important lesson for narrative writers, whether visual or written: don’t focus on dead or dying issues. Focus on live ones. Feminists have been arguing against the “slut” framework of ideas since at least the 1960s if not earlier; Leora Tanenbaum wrote whole book on the subject, subtitled “Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation.” People’s behavior, if not their rhetoric, shows the issue to be dead. So instead of using it, why not skate to where the puck is going, instead of where it’s been?

The question is supposed to be rhetorical, but I’m going to answer it anyway: knowing the puck’s present location is easy. Knowing where it’s going is much, much harder, and a lot of the big media businesses, including TV, are too big and too expensive to take major risks on the unknown. Better to leave those big risks to dingy writers living in their parents’ basements or hiding from the real world in graduate school. That solution probably worked pretty well in a pre-Internet era. By now, however, people who want to take intellectual, social, and artistic risks can coalesce on the Internet. While Hollywood dithers and debates about sluts, the innovators are moving or have moved online. Don’t be surprised if the audience follows. And if you’re the kind of person who wants to be in the vanguard, don’t watch so much TV. Check out the bookstores and libraries instead. You’ll find it there. TV used to be the medium of the future, but in some ways it feels like the medium of the past.


EDIT: It appears Free Agents is heading towards cancellation. I’m tempted to say something like puerile like “good riddance,” but the problems described above transcend this show and will no doubt be repeated by successors, in more or less subtle guises.

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