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Name: Rex Stetson
Occupation: Masked Avenger Type
Base of Operations: Washington, DC
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Friday, May 28, 2004

Washington DC Invaded By Giant Insects!

A DC Resident is attacked by Cicadas upon leaving his home in NW.

Walking outside of the Rex-Cave today, I couldn't help but notice that there were, all hyperbole aside, a bazillion of these red-eyed creatures everywhere in our Nation's Capital, outnumbering the humans 3-to-1 (an unscientific estimate). There were flying ones following people around,and plenty of them clinging to the side of trees and walls, but most of them were just strolling merrily along on the sidewalk. There were also plenty of dead ones, most of which had obviously been squished by the shoe of some passerby. I saw little birds hunting them.

Every 17 years, there is apparently some monstrous plague of these nasty little critters- though I don't recall this happening 17 years ago. Of course, I lived in the midwest back then- which has a somewhat diffent climate.

They mostly keep to themselves, and they don't bite or sting, so apart from needing to flick them off you when they land on you, you can pretty easily ignore them except for the squishing underfoot and their "giant bug" appearance.

I guess a lot of people are using this invasion as an excuse to party- which is as noble a cause and as decent an excuse as most.

Cicadum Omnipresentum (may or may not be actual size, depending on your screen resolution)

For details on the festivities, the plague itself, and for answers to all your cicada questions, visit Cicadamania! This site

Posted by Rex @ 12:28 PM

Thursday, May 27, 2004

"Bad Cartoons Make Bad Citizens"

That's what Doug Kern claims in his fantastic new piece at Tech Central Station today.

The argument he makes, as I understand it, is that society has a responsibility to impart morality to its children, and Superhero cartoons are a good way to teach kids about good and evil. The trouble comes when these cartoons get wussified by censors and social scientists and their morailty becomes too muddled- if the difference between good and evil is ignored, obscured or denied, then you get kids with correspondingly fuzzy moral values. The old Superfriends show is cited as an example- villians were always merely "misguided"- never "evil". There was no moral condemnation whatsoever- the Superfriends weren't allowed to hit any criminals, really. (I seem to recall villains and heroes always being tied up- which I guess is a less "violent" way to subdue an opponent.)

Kern goes on to explain how the natural aggression of boys needs to have an appropriate outlet- with violence only being used to protect and defend the good and innocent, rather than harming and destroying it. But to properly recognize the good, one must be able to recognize evil- or at least the abstract existence of evil. Luckily kids today have the newer Batman and Justice League cartoons- in which the villians are sometimes downright scary evil ( Batman Beyond:Return of The Joker is a good example) and the heroes do whatever punching and such that needs to be done to stop them.

My own morality, as regular readers know, was heavily influenced by comic books and superhero mythology, and I agree with Kern's assessment. Without the clarity of these sometimes simplistic morality plays, it's hard to find a moral center in a world where the social scientists and engineers want to reshape young minds toward their new utopia- by obfuscating outdated notions like "good" and "evil" behind all the "complexity" of their moral relativism and legalism. Like Billy Flynn's "Razzle dazzle" in Chicago, their misdirection and sleight-of-hand makes it difficult to develop common sense, to hone instinct and conscience, to the find natural law common to all people in all cultures.

A good superhero story can teach a lot, and I guess, so can a lousy one.

Posted by Rex @ 1:28 AM

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