Friday links! Bounds of realism edition

Trevor Goodchild confronts some dilemma or another in the "Thanatophobia" episode of Aeon Flux.

Trevor Goodchild confronts some dilemma or another in the “Thanatophobia” episode of Aeon Flux.

This country used to be well written, but I worry that we’ve jumped the shark. The soft-authoritarian security state plotline was interesting when we started it in the early part of the millennium, but it was the characters that made it. I liked watching everyone struggle with their new identities, whether they were willing to sacrifice freedom for security, and the hating/becoming hipsters B plot was fun. Lately, though, I feel like we’ve transgressed the bounds of psychological realism. “America” is becoming another sci-fi melodrama, with the principal characters veering off into behavior that just isn’t believable. Today is Friday, and what started as national character has become caricature. Won’t you turn a critical eye with me?

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Glenn Beck ties with Pope on list of most admired Americans

"Fuck you too, dicks!

If you’re eating something, spit it out right now. Don’t swallow it, because you’ll only see it again seconds later. Gallup has released the results of its annual poll to determine the men and women Americans most admire, and Glenn Beck has tied with Pope Benedict XVI for fourth place. That’s right: the man who made this video (and this video explaining that video) is as well-regarded, among Americans, as God’s official representative on Earth. Barack Obama crushed his division for the second year in a row, topping the list of most-admired men with a healthy margin over the second-place finisher, George W. Bush. Are you beginning to appreciate the sheer insanity of this poll, yet? Arguably legitimate human being Hillary Clinton topped the list of most admired women, but she only beat Sarah Palin by one percent. Maya Angelou remains deadlocked with Margaret Thatcher.

The takeaway from all of this is that Americans respect—or at least claim to respect—a former morning zoo DJ whose television show started four years ago more than the head of the Catholic church. Those of you concerned that people in the office like one of your coworkers better than you might consider, for a moment, of what value the esteem of the mob. Whatever you do, don’t consider what values Beck’s ascent alludes to in the hearts of the American people, or how long such a people can successfully operate a representative democracy. That’s what Dana Milbank at the Washington Post did, and he was forced to draw some ugly conclusions. “All ages have their charlatans,” Milbank writes. “The fact that Beck’s stew of venom and fabrication has been such a triumph probably says less about Beck than about us. He has merely captured the moment.” Zing!

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