Archive for September, 2009

Back Down the Rabbit Hole

September 13, 2009

I guess I must have repressed my memories of the Republican opposition to the Clinton administration. It required too much suspension of disbelief even for a long-time Coleridge fan. Reminds me of the time I tried to turn my experiences running a legal aid office in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago into a series of short stories. The one that finally ended that career detour was the two kids I interviewed about their juvenile court case, who told me they had run away from home because their parents were practicing black magic.* I realized, as I reviewed my notes, that there was no way I was going to be able to make truth as believable as fiction, and I might as well go back to writing briefs and memoranda.

So here we go again, with the MSM trying to make the opposition loonies as believable as the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen. Lewis Carroll, thou shouldst be living at this hour. Remember poor Vince Foster, supposedly murdered by White House operatives because he Knew Too Much? Nobody could ever enunciate just what he knew too much about, but si non é vero, é ben trovato. And the apocryphal Secret Service agent whose job was to recruit lesbian bimbos for Hillary? Lesbian bimbos? Gimme a break. The scandalized reporters who discovered that Hillary, in her brief forays into the investment market, had actually made money? Omigod. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! (sorry, I know I’ve used that before, I just can’t find anything more apt.)

Some saner conservatives are pointing out that the loonies are raising some valid points, such as the proper role and size of government, which deserve a serious debate. Some liberals have pointed out that we just had that debate, which, in this great country of ours, is called an election, and our guy won. Some other liberal commentators suspect that the reason the loonies can’t accept the legitimacy of the Obama presidency is that he’s Black. Obviously, they have the same trouble I did remembering the Clinton administration, which the loonies also never accepted as legitimate, even though Bill is at least as pale as I am, and Hillary is a good deal more so. They just started with the axiom that the Clintons had somehow snuck in under cover of darkness and then changed the locks on the White House. Color was never an issue. The issue is, and has always been, who qualifies as a Real American. A few Blacks and Hispanics (especially Cubans**) actually do. But anybody who believes the government has a valid role providing help for non-rich Americans really doesn’t qualify.

Remember the New Deal?*** FDR made it happen by making a deal with the Devil, or rather, the Dixiecrats, that would guarantee that none of its benefits would extend to Black people. Social Security and Unemployment Compensation specifically didn’t cover agricultural and domestic workers, who made up the majority of employed African-Americans at the time. Black sharecroppers didn’t count as “farmers” for purposes of the New Deal agricultural programs. Aid to Dependent Families was off limits for Black single mothers, because it was too easy to prove them “morally unfit,” unlike White widows, or to show that, unlike White women, they could never qualify because they always had a way to support their children, namely domestic labor. And so on. Well, what the loonies are looking for this time around is a guarantee that Obama’s health care reform won’t just exclude illegal immigrants from coverage, but will guarantee that they can never, ever, get treatment for any medical problem in any medical facility that receives federal funds, or from any doctor or nurse whose education was paid for with federal grants and loans. Anything less than that will forfeit all support from that side of the aisle.

But everybody in this particular controversy, on all sides, seems to have forgotten that, unlike FDR, Obama doesn’t need the support of the loonies to get his program passed. Yes, it would be nice to end the LaRouchie/teabagger/loony-sponsored sniping and become One Nation. But every time Obama extends a hand across the aisle, somebody cuts off one of his fingers. Now, apparently, he has only one left. Let’s hope it’s the one he needs for the appropriate gesture.

Red Emma

* In fact, what the parents were doing was Santeria, which most people at the time didn’t know about, and which the kids didn’t know about because their parents had always told them “We’re Catholic,” until the kids came home from school early one day and found their parents and some friends in the basement doing stuff Sister had never taught them. The solution, as in most juvenile runaway cases, was to encourage better parent-child communication.

** In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m Cuban, but like many second or third generation Cuban- Americans, I do not consider Castro the AntiChrist.

*** See Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action Was White for the best historical treatment of this era.

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Living in an Immaterial World

September 12, 2009

A few weeks ago, Amazon.com did something that rocked the whole system of private property. And all most of us did about it was kvetch. We saw it as a mere inconvenience. You buy a copy of 1984 for your Kindle, and some days later, you log back on and discover 1984 isn’t there. Since then, Amazon has explained, and apologized, and most recently cleared up the legalities between Amazon and George Orwell’s estate or whatever owns the rights to 1984, and most of those who bought it have had it restored. Most of us regard it as a mere pothole on the road of life. It’s patched now, all’s well that ends well and so on.

Given that most people buy books before reading them, rather than after, can we then conclude that those inconvenienced bibliophiles are only now reading 1984 for the first time, and only now realizing that Orwell pretty much predicted what has happened to his book? George Winston, after all, was in the business of making, and remaking, history, in the most basic sense, de-happening events that had now become inconvenient for Big Brother’s current ideology. Those of us who read the book before Amazon put it onto Kindle™, or at least some of us, are bloody spooked. Anybody who can make a book disappear from your library without any kind of notice, much less permission, can just as easily change the content of the book so that (for instance) Big Brother turns out to be the hero, and poor George Winston is just a pathetic dupe. Or rewrite the history of the Civil War to make slavery a noble cause. Or rewrite the JFK assassination to make Lee Harvey Oswald a Wahhabi Muslim and Marina Oswald a femiNazi.

How do you know that when you Google™ a news story from 2005, you won’t see George W. Bush filling sandbags and pitching in to reinforce the levees in New Orleans? Or Silvio Berlusconi inventing a new and vastly improved version of linguini bolognese? Or Governor Sanford entering a monastery?

Back in “the Sixties,” when Mr. Wired and I were active in all kinds of countercultural religion and politics, I took to clipping the papers regularly, to preserve stuff that I felt the next generation would never believe if I couldn’t produce it. (In the Talmud, BTW, you run across all sorts of weird stories to which the Rabbis themselves add a little note: “If it were not written, it would be impossible to believe this.”) I filled up most of a 4-drawer filing cabinet with high-acid-content paper (that was the flaw in my reasoning), which I only recently went through and mostly discarded, since it has mostly turned into stiff yellow snowflakes of indecipherable memory and I needed the drawer space for client files. Now, like most other people, I am at the mercy of the Mass Media and what little paper documentation the librarians have managed to preserve.

The Buddhists (with whom I have been hanging out occasionally of late) would not be seriously distressed by these developments. Nor would a client of mine from thirty-odd years ago who was trying to get discharged from the Navy as a conscientious objector because, while on maneuvers in Hawaii, he sat on a beach for an evening and became Enlightened. My usual approach to these cases is to refer the client to a psychiatrist who firmly believes military service is bad for most people’s mental health, especially that of people who think killing people is wrong, and encourage Uncle Sam to discharge the client for reasons of emotional stability. It’s usually faster and cheaper than using the official regulations for Conscientious Objector discharge. This client objected to the tactic. He wasn’t crazy, he explained. The Navy was crazy. They still believed in the reality of the material universe. The real universe is an eternally-flowing mesh of causes and consequences, assumptions and reactions.

Now, causality can reach backward as easily as forward. If we need the Reconstruction to have been a Bad Thing in order to accomplish some current political goal, we can revise it without even recalling and re-publishing the encyclopedias and textbooks that will shape the next generation’s understanding of history.

Which assumes, of course, that the next generation will have an understanding of history. Yesterday, a paralegal in our office, a smart and reasonably well-educated young woman, asked me who was on the other side in World War II. While Big Brother’s right hand is busy rewriting history, his left hand has managed to make the whole idea of history irrelevant to those who would ordinarily be expected to create its next chapter. When Seward, mourning the just-deceased Lincoln, said “Now he belongs to the ages,” he meant that Lincoln would always be part of what shaped America and the world. These days, when somebody says that a particular person or thing is “history,” they mean it’s gone, disappeared, never to be seen again. Even the History Channel is mostly taken up with the exploits of ice road truckers in Alaska and myopic analyses of the DaVinci Code pitting the Freemasons against the Bavarian Illuminati.

We are just now realizing that all the gee-whiz forensic technology that lies at the foundation of any criminal prosecution in which the State has somehow not managed to persuade the defendant to plead guilty, is highly fallible, precisely because it contains nothing so physical as a smoking gun, just a bunch of digital impressions on “a media” [sic] that the next generation of forensic “scientists” won’t even be able to read.

Friends of mine with libraries as extensive as the one in the Wired residence are contemplating selling them, or donating them to schools in the Third World, or recycling them for pulp, now that the best that has been thought and said is available in digitized format through Google or whoever, on “a media” the size of a good Cuban cigar. But a good cigar is, at least, a smoke. The best that has been thought and said can be rendered unreadable through a simple electromagnetic hiccup or an “updated” digitizing format.

We have already allowed ourselves to become accustomed to the best music and drama that has been composed and performed being recorded onto one short-lived medium after another. Those of us who really cared about such stuff now have more than six generations of it in our “media rooms,” accumulated over only a mere half-century. More reasonable people just throw out the last generation when the new one reaches an affordable price. The newest generation, of course, doesn’t exactly accumulate at all. Like the Kindle books, it merely takes up residence on our current “media” until we get bored with it, and then makes way for the next batch of stuff. We never own any of it.

I think (maybe I’ve been hanging out with Buddhists too long?) that this might be okay if the generations of ideas and songs and plays that wander into and out of our minds originated among real thinkers and artists, and not just the minions of media conglomerates who “own” most of what gets “created” these days. I’ve been through distributing the books and records and pictures of my deceased parents and friends, and part of me doesn’t want to put anybody through the same process again for my stuff. But if the alternative is to let Sony, Bertelsman, and Gulf Western do my thinking and my enjoying for me while I live, and leave no thoughts or music of my own to those who come after me, then, thanks, I’ll stay in the material world a while longer, even if it means stumbling over my accumulated books and music while I live and burdening my friends and family with them afterward.

Jane Grey

The Flabby Arm of the Law

September 11, 2009

Some of our colleagues are disturbed that the US government seems lackluster in its enforcement of immigration law.  If we were paying attention, this would surprise no one.  It is only a special case of a reality so long-established and widespread in this country that it isn’t even a “problem,” it’s just an essential component of our culture. Americans don’t like law enforcement roughly 50% of the time.  Or, as our daughter puts it, every American law includes one invisible clause: “except me.”

Our various ancestors came here in the first place to get away from onerous economic and legal systems in the Old Country.  Sure, the Puritans immediately set up what seemed like an equally onerous system here.  But read Perry Miller and George Demos on how it actually worked out.  The Puritans anti-sex?  Not if you count the number of public rebukes for fornication and adultery, and the number of “premature” births.  In the era before TV and central heating, the Puritans did what they had to to keep warm and entertained.  Anti-violence? Anti-theft?  Read the stats.

More important, consider what our ancestors, like our own legislators today, used the law for.  First, (Wired’s First Law) nobody legislates against what nobody does.  The existence of a law against fornication isn’t evidence of a society’s high regard for chastity.  It is precisely the opposite.  The people whose lawmakers pass such legislation know their constituents screw around (as, a fortiori, do the lawmakers themselves.)  They just want to get on the record, when they have the time to get out of that unsanctified bed, that they know it’s wrong.

Same goes for drunk driving, indoor smoking, drug use, and exceeding the speed limit.  We use these statutes mainly to proclaim that We Are Nice People.  Not that we are people who don’t drive drunk, smoke indoors, use drugs, and speed.

That’s purpose #1 of American laws. Purpose #2 is the control of “undesirables.”  We are also a thrifty lot, who don’t like to let useful stuff go to waste.  Now that we have all those laws lying around on the books, why not use them to keep Those Other People in line?  Prohibition, clearly, was a Protestant movement to keep those wine-bibbing, beer-guzzling Italian and German Catholics from having too much fun.  The War on Drugs began as a war on African-Americans and graduated to a war on hippies.  The only prosecution for fornication in an egregiously well-known Southern state in the 1960s involved two African-American honor students who were active in the Civil Rights movement.  You get the picture.  Once the statute books are full of laws everybody violates, everybody is vulnerable to prosecution.  We can pick and choose among our potential defendants.  Should anyone be surprised if those who do the choosing concentrate on Those Other People?

Every now and then, some court finds this bias too blatant to be acceptable.  That was what happened in San Francisco, roughly a century ago, in Yick Wo vs. Hopkins, the grandmother of all discriminatory prosecution cases, in which Mayor Mark Hopkins decided to close down all wood-frame buildings used as laundries, which—surprise!—included almost all Chinese laundries and almost no non-Chinese laundries.  Even the US Supreme Court of that era, hardly a bastion of equal protection (the same guys who brought us “separate but equal” Plessy vs. Ferguson and “three generations of imbeciles is enough” Buck vs. Bell,) thought that was too much.*  Every now and then the courts still follow that precedent, though mostly they just nibble away at it like ducks at a pizza, and hope for it to disappear entirely some day.

Legislators get lots of good publicity out of designating a Serious Problem and then passing a law against it.  Occasionally, they run into embarrassed staffers who, having been assigned to research The Problem and draft the law, discover there already is such a law.  Legislators do not get good publicity from merely proposing to enforce a law that has been on the books for a century.  That’s just “the nanny state.”  The laws that actually get enforced are a small proportion of those on the books, and the proportion of violations of those laws that actually generate prosecutions is even smaller.

Every now and then, one of Us gets busted for breaking a law clearly aimed at Them, and complains about it.  “The only reason I got stopped for speeding was that it was easier for the cops to catch me because I was only going five miles over the limit when everybody else was going fifteen miles over the limit. It isn’t fair.”  Most of the time, as noted earlier, the courts disregard this argument, unless it seems to have really blatant racial, ethnic, or religious implications.  Being the slowest-moving lawbreaker on the road is a bad idea.  Most people know better. OTOH, prosecutions for Driving While Black are actually attracting lots of negative publicity these days, and many jurisdictions are cracking down on them. (For more information, check this out http://www.jmls.edu/facultypubs/oneill/oneill_column_04b08.shtml)

But most of the time, even local judges are not too bashful to say, of a defendant who is about to catch an unexpected break from the criminal justice system, that s/he “is not a member of the criminal class.”  (I’ve heard it myself, and probably many of you gentle readers have too.)  At heart, we are all Aristotelians.  We believe character determines fate, what you are determines what should happen to you, and what you have done in the past is our best guide to what you are.  So if you are a high school dropout with no visible means of support and a record of minor misdemeanors, we have no trouble concluding you must be more guilty of buying or selling cocaine than the solid, middle-class citizen next to you.  This is common sense, and tends to be accurate more often than not.  As long as we don’t really feel obliged to determine whether the high school dropout etc. actually made the drug sale/purchase in question, we figure he will get what’s coming to him more often than not, and that’s close enough for government work.

In conclusion, the reason “the Sixties” are still a hissing and a byword among hard-line conservatives is not that people actually became less law-abiding, but that they became less willing to accept the American deal—act like a solid citizen most of the time, don’t flaunt your lawbreaking, and we will treat you like a solid citizen unless you are Black or poor or Indian or Mexican or gay.  People who were not any of those things suddenly began breaking laws in public, and worse still, objecting to laws against sex, drugs, and harmless recreation, proclaiming that We Are Not Necessarily Nice People, and shouldn’t have to be.  That way lies Armageddon, Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

So the immigration laws are a relatively minor casualty of something a lot bigger and a lot harder to clean up.  God’s Own Party has, wisely for their purposes, chosen to go about enforcing those laws by turning all illegal immigrants, and most legal immigrants, into Those Other People, unlettered Hispanics sneaking in here to take jobs and welfare benefits from good Amurricans.  It seems to be working.  Maybe it shouldn’t be.

Red Emma

Things the Bible Would Have Said if the Author Had a Better Quote Book

September 8, 2009

Warning: this is yet another rant from Jane Grey on people who cite the Bible without bothering to read it.  If you’re not in the mood, go buy some popcorn.

That Other Blog Over There just attributed “hate the sin but love the sinner” to Jesus.  The Other Blogger Over There is usually much more biblically literate than that.  A swift resort to Google tells us that nobody knows who really said it first, but everyone who bothered to check it out reports that it is not to be found anywhere in the Bible.  Which is consistent with my own research.

“God helps those who help themselves,” OTOH, is definitely Ben Franklin.  “To thine own self be true” is definitely Shakespeare.  “With malice toward none, with charity to all” is definitely Lincoln. All of them have, at one time or another, been attributed to the Bible.

The Bible, similarly, says absolutely nothing about abortion, and nothing directly about same-sex marriage.  And everything it says about homosexuality, it says in paragraphs adjacent to pronouncements about adultery, for which it recommends essentially the same punishments (except for the Sodom and Gomorrah story, which can be read several different ways, and which Jews and Christians in fact do read very differently.  The traditional Jewish reading of the story sees the Sin of Sodom as powerful people doing it to powerless people, rather than men doing it with men.)

The finer points of modern textual criticism enable us to determine that, even if all that stuff about wives submitting to their husbands is in the Bible, it wasn’t really Saint Paul who said it, but some cheap knockoff, which is kind of nice.  And, while ignoring Revelation may be easy for us Jews, we don’t get off that easily from looking at Daniel, which was in fact one of the sources of Revelation.  (Arguably, Revelation is a cheap knockoff of Daniel, in fact.)

But then, one of my dearest friends, of blessed memory, once talked a Jehovah’s Witness missionary off his doorstep by quoting scripture at him in English and Hebrew until the poor guy gave up.  Let’s hear it for a little learning (not, BTW, a little knowledge.  See Pope’s “Essay on Man.”  Not the Bible.)

Jane Grey

The Lotos Marketers

September 4, 2009

Is it weird or what, that a huge proportion of our law enforcement resources are dedicated to keeping one group of people from taking one set of drugs, and an equally huge proportion of our mental health resources are dedicated to making another set of people take another batch of drugs?  Sounds to me like a failure in marketing.  And that’s not even taking into account what the pharmaceutical establishment spends on direct advertising, to get yet another group of people to take yet another batch of drugs.

Psychoactive drugs have a lot of problems. For one thing, some of them are dangerous if not carefully monitored.  Most of them can be dangerous in combination with other psychoactive drugs, or other kinds of medication, or even some common kinds of food or drink.  There is no drug that works for everybody with a particular diagnosis, and there are some people for whom no psychoactive drug works.  But what makes it worse is that, even when a drug “works,” that does not necessarily entail making the patient feel any better.  Normally, we 21st-century Americans expect a drug to be something you take when you’re feeling bad, and then it makes you feel better. But for people with mental illness, especially the manic phase of bipolar, a drug may well be something you take when you’re feeling absolutely terrific, and then it makes you feel awful, or at best, blah.  This makes medication compliance problematic.

Cocaine dealers have no such problem.  They have no marketing budget. They advertise only by word of mouth.  They don’t have to wine and dine physicians to get them to prescribe their product (though, if we are to believe Sudhir Venkatesh in Drug Lord for a Day, they do have to cultivate a structure of lower-level dealers.) They dispense their product to people who are feeling blah, or even worse, and the purchaser ends up feeling terrific for a while, and then really awful until the next dose.  Which pretty much guarantees that there will be a next dose.  Psychiatrists should be so lucky.

Cocaine dealers, of course, might have trouble getting their product past FDA (unless it has been around so long as to be Generally Regarded As Safe, which maybe it has.) Quality control in manufacturing is spotty at best, and the distribution chain may degrade the product even further.  But nobody has to stand over the cokehead to make sure the dose is properly ingested, or remind him/her to be sure to come back for the next one.

At any rate, what the manufacturers of psychoactive drugs obviously need is a pinch of cocaine or a spoonful of sugar or something to make those who take their products feel good, or better still, terrific, at least for the first few hours after taking it. (Yes, I do remember the intoxicant invented by sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein, which made you feel absolutely awful after drinking it in the evening, and the next morning you would wake up feeling utterly blissful. It was called, if I remember correctly, “Scrotch.”  Much though I respect a lot of Heinlein’s imagined futuristic products, most notably the water bed, I think Scrotch is a behavioral loser. Most people, especially those in search of a good high, just aren’t that good at deferring gratification.)

Maybe we just need to condition patients to associate taking their meds with something else really pleasant, like good food, or sex, or music.  Something, at any rate, more fun than having a social worker stand over you to make sure you’re really swallowing.  Or maybe we need to play tricks on  patients to make them see the medication as a reward (the way we condition small children to want candy by giving it to them when they follow the rules.)  “Eat all your spinach or you can’t have your meds tonight,” “Last one in the water doesn’t get meds,” or whatever.

Or maybe we should just sack all the psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses and social workers and replace them with drug dealers who know their job, and who, furthermore, don’t get paid unless the patients actually take the meds. This solves two problems at once, providing lawful and socially useful employment for drug dealers, and keeping psychiatric patients properly medicated. We could put all the disemployed shrinks and their flunkies to work in the newly expanded ObamaCare system caring for all the people who have finally gotten access to health care, thereby solving yet a third problem.  Tune in next week for the latest proposal to combine high-grade cocaine with a contraceptive. You heard it here first.

Red Emma

 

 

Talmudic Copyright

September 3, 2009

Whoever tells a thing in the name of the one who said it, brings redemption into the world.”  (Pirkey Avot 6:6, and in Talmud Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud) Megilah 15A, Hulin 104B, and Niddah 19B.)

While the area of intellectual property becomes ever more complex and confining, it deals only with the rights of the owner of the “property” in question, not with the rights of the people who actually created the work in the first place, if they are not the current owners. Cases in point: (1) Milli Vanilli, which got rich lip-synching the performance of another group, whose names (individually and collectively) the public has never been able to ascertain; (2) Paul Anka’s infamous “Having My Baby,” in which the female soloist (who is, presumably, playing the role of the person who is in fact having the baby) is never named; and (3) somewhat less well-known except in Chicago folk music circles, Jan Hobson and her Bad Revue, whose best-known songs (“Throw Your Cat Away” and “The Racoon Song”) she filched from her ex-boyfriend, who used to sing with the group, and whose name, again, the public has never been able to find out.

Legally, I think such arrangements have a serious flaw. Yes, an artist can sell somebody else the rights to perform the work in question and get paid for it, if all the requirements of contract law are fulfilled. But the artist can’t waive the right of the public to know the artist’s name (or at least his/her/their pseudonym) and allow the new owner of the “rights” to fool the public into believing that the owner is also the artist. (Any more than the custodial parent of a child can waive the child’s right to receive child support from the other parent.)

For yet another slant on intellectual property law, take a look at Lawrence Lessig and the Creative Commons (creativecommons.org/) with more regard for creator’s right to credit and the public’s right to know the creator’s identity than conventional intellectual property law.

So anyway, that’s how the writings of the Wired Sisters is protected. Don’t mess with it.

CynThesis

Starve and Shoot

September 3, 2009

How do you get rid of a mule when everybody else on the farm really likes it? First you cut out one of its daily feedings, then you cut back to food every other day, then every third day. By that time, the mule is so weak it can’t do any work at all, so nobody will blame you if you shoot it.

How do you get rid of a program (whether government, corporate, or TV) that people really like but you (one of the people in charge) really hate?  It’s easy.  You underfund it, understaff it, reorganize the caseload and the chain of command every four months or so, move it around so nobody can find it, and, in general, deprive it of all the things that made people like it in the first place. Then, when you kill it, if people notice its absence at all, they’ll just say good riddance, it had already jumped the shark anyway.

I have personally been involved in one such shameful episode (you may have your own) in our nation’s history, when the federal agency I worked for became the target of its own administration’s dislike.  That was how I found out that the administration, if it has any smarts at all, will not respond by firing everybody and shutting the agency down, because that’s expensive.  You have to pay severance and accumulated leave and set up COBRA payments and so on.  So instead, you just reorganize them every four months or so, which is just about the optimal length of time for people to have finally regained their competence and figured out where the copier paper has been moved to after the last reorganization.  A couple of rounds of this and everybody except the most hidebound and unimaginative careerists will quit on their own, one at a time, which is financially a lot easier to cope with than mass firings.

And of course, everybody has had the experience of not being able to find a favorite TV program as it gets moved around the clock and then replaced every other week or so by some kind of “special,” so that when it finally shows up again, you’ve forgotten most of the plot line.  If that doesn’t work, the producers just keep switching writers until the characters start sprouting multiple, and non-credible, personalities and the audience loses interest, which is mostly what happened to ER in its last couple of seasons.  Somebody who was a lesbian feminist in season 4 suddenly falls in love with her boss, gets pregnant, and becomes a stay-at-home wife-and-mother, and so on in season 6, then dies of cancer just in time for the finale of season 7, which, if the other characters are having similar gyrations, is probably the series finale too.

And then there’s the standard way bosses deal with high-performing employees they for some reason don’t like.  You change their job descriptions, or change their actual duties without changing their job descriptions; you move their cubicles to Outer Darkness, if possible you change their working hours—you get the picture.  And the hapless target of these behaviors, if s/he has never experienced them before, is likely to think, “If I can put up with this without letting my job performance deteriorate, they won’t fire me.”  Which is precisely the opposite of what’s really happening—they aren’t cr*pping on you instead of firing you, they’re cr*pping on you preparatory to firing you.  First they starve the mule, preferably until its performance deteriorates into total uselessness, and then they shoot it.

Red Emma