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A Swede in Germany

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Hillary for president / Follow-up: A few thoughts on the U.S. election, Trump, and Kamala Harris

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Around 15 months ago (feels like an eternity), I wrote

[That Biden might step down] is not new, and I actually had genuine fears in the past that the reason that the DNC pushed for Biden was to have Hillary Clinton picked as running mate, in order to deliberately make her president through the backdoor—that he was chosen because of his degeneration, not despite it.

and

On the other hand, I find it very, very troubling that restrictions like “must be a woman” and “must be someone non-White” are even considered. This is a proof of a fundamentally flawed and anti-democratic attitude. The one positive thing is that once the U.S. has had a female president, this particular obsession might die down. It will certainly be very hard to push someone like Hillary again.

Today, I encountered Get Ready for President Hillary Clinton, which pushes the idea that “Democrats (i.e., the party of radical, insane and hateful socialists, Marxists and communists) are getting ready to install Hillary Clinton as president of the United States.”, by replacing Harris with Hillary and then forcing Biden out. This plays in well with Biden’s current state, Harris’s extreme unpopularity in virtually every circle, and recent tips* that journalists should look into the procedure for confirming a new vice president.

*According to several recent articles. I have not kept references.

Moreover, the author speculates on “Clinton/Obama in 2024.”, which, if they win, would likely imply Michelle Obama as a presidential candidate in 2028.

As this blog remains closed-ish,* I will not do a deeper analysis of his ideas, except as to note that I have toyed with the idea, myself, while coming down on the side that “Hillary probably is too unpopular in her own party”. (Then again, if not Hillary, then who? Looking at age, scandals, (un)popularity, (in)experience, (in)competence, (in)sanity, most or all nominally plausible candidates seem to be almost impossible—if not for the one reason, then for the other.)

*Honestly! Do not let such trifling details as the posts-per-month count fool you.

Excursion on other portions of my original text:
My early impressions of Harris, discussed in that text, have turned out to be very wrong. Like Biden, she is at least a candidate for worst ever holder of the respective position.

I also mentioned Thatcher and that “I would have been interested in seeing how she would have done as the next U.S president”. As things have played out, it is a very great shame that she was not the next U.S president.

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November 28, 2021 at 11:52 pm

The Arbery trial / Follow-up: Various

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To continue the recent discussions of race and treatment in the courtroom, etc. (cf. [1], [2]):

Today, we saw a near complete conviction of the three accused in the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. (Travis and Gregory McMichael, William Bryan. By “the shooter” I refer to Travis McMichael.)

At a minimum, this speaks against the claimed-by-the-Left pervasive problem with anti-Black judgments (juries, judges, police, whatnot). It might even speak in favor of anti-White or anti-Right judgments (etc.).

I have not followed this trial anywhere near as closely as the Rittenhouse trial, and I do find the behavior of the convicted potentially* much more troublesome than anything that Rittenhouse did. In particular, the type of “provocation” reasoning that (rightfully) failed against Rittenhouse might very well have worked here**—that Arbery might never have grabbed the gun, had he not been followed and spoken too for a prolonged time before the final scene. (Note also the asymmetry that Rittenhouse was trying to get away from the persons that he shot, while here the person shot was the one trying to get away.) Moreover, there might have been lesser crimes (cf. below) involved in a more legitimate manner than for Rittenhouse. At a minimum, there was a lot of stupidity on display.

*The usual disclaimers and reservations like “I was not there” apply.

**With obvious reservations for the different jurisdictions.

Still, I had expected the two non-shooters to be cleared of at least the murder charges. (While the shooter presented a trickier call—at least, based on my level of knowledge.)

This is not at all what happened. Instead, they were deemed guilty almost throughout, including some oddities. A large portion of this is explained by the absurdity that is felony murder—i.e. commit a felony that, even inadvertently, leads to a death and you are a murderer. As can be seen here, the consequences can be entirely out of proportion. Laws concerning felony murder must be removed or reduced to a more reasonable scope.* I am also strongly puzzled over the multiple counts of felony murder per convict, as only one person died.** More generally, as with Chauvin, I find it annoying with multiple convictions for the same crime. (Not to be confused with multiple convictions for different crimes during the same overall event, say false imprisonment at time X and murder at X + two minutes).

*For instance, if someone brings a gun to a bank robbery, even without the intention of more than threatening, a resulting death from an intended warning shot might be a reasonable case of a modified felony murder, because a willingness to kill can be presumed in a different manner than with the Arbery case. (This while deliberately killing someone with the same gun would be regular murder.) However, extending culpability to other participants would, even in this scenario, be very disputable.

**I have not investigated the details of this, but would speculate that each separate felony led to a separate felony-murder charge.

So far, we have mostly issues with unsound laws, not something that involves race.

However, if we look at malice murder (of which only the shooter was convicted), I have considerable doubts. The linked-to page claims:

Malice murder is a criminal offense in the U.S. state of Georgia, committed when a homicide is done with express or implied malice.

[…]

Express malice is “that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.” Malice is implied when “no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.”

I cannot see malice, per this definition, as sufficiently clearly present (remember: beyond reasonable doubt) that a conviction would be possible.* On the contrary, if this had been the case, just shooting Arbery as he moved along would have been easily possible. On the outside, I could imagine a situation where someone tried to provoke an apparent self-defense situation in order to shoot with plausible deniability, but this is far-fetched, would be very hard to prove, and seems like far more planning and intelligence than plausible with the current trio and in the comparatively short time-frame.

*But I caution that courts often ignore the “plain text” reading in favor of a slippery slope of diverging precedent. A Georgia lawyer might see it differently.

On the contrary, I see a very large risk that race and/or political opinions* played a greater part than the events and what was plausible to assume from the events.

*I have not studied their opinions in detail, but my superficial impression is that these were legitimately unkosher. (To be contrasted with e.g. the fake claims against Rittenhouse or the general “all Republicans are evil” attitude shown by some Leftists.) Still, the opinions should only be of tangential importance, and only play in where it is important for the case.

Speaking as a non-lawyer, something like manslaughter would have been a more reasonable charge, with “guilty”/“not guilty” hinging on how a self-defense claim played out with the jury.

Other convictions, e.g. for false imprisonment, might very well be justified. (Here I would need a deeper study of the details, but I suspect that, had I been in Arbery’s shoes and had the police arrived before the shooting, I would have filed legal charges of my own.)

Finally, on the race of Arbery: From what I have seen so far, he was not targeted because he was Black, but because he was very legitimately suspected of repeated criminal activities in the neighborhood. Indeed, there is a very fair chance that he actually had just engaged in such activities at the time. (I do not remember whether something conclusive was said on this.)

Excursion on calling the police:
Much of this might hinge on whether the claim, by the shooter, was true that he genuinely believed that the police had been called at a very early stage. If true, it puts a potentially different light on many behaviors; if false, they look very odd indeed.

Excursion on what I thought happened:
I suspect that the convicted were more lacking in judgment than overflowing with malice, that they genuinely thought that they were helping the police and the neighborhood, and that they had no a priori intention of harm, but that their behaviors put Arbery in a position where a great many others would have reacted similarly, e.g. to “grab the gun before he shoots me”. This then followed by a reverse “fire the gun before Arbery can take it and shoot us”.

Excursion on the potential negative influence of anti-White stereotypes on Arbery:
If we look at the scenario in the previous excursion, it might very well have been made worse by the attempts to paint Whites as racists, many of whom would just love an excuse to get rid of a few Black guys. What if this type of propaganda left Arbery with a “they are out to kill me” instead of a “they will drag me to the nearest police station”?

Excursion on another self-defense case/Andrew Coffee:
In parallel with the Rittenhouse case, a Black man was (almost entirely) acquitted on grounds of self-defense, despite having been involved in a shoot-out with the police, instead of fighting of unlawful assailants. Cf. e.g. [3]. So much for Rittenhouse receiving special treatment for being White.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 24, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Waukesha car crash? murder? terrorist attack? / Follow-up: Rittenhouse verdict

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The reactions to the Waukesha parade incident* go far to prove my points in my recent text on the Rittenhouse acquittal:

*Due to varying claims in sources, I am deliberately vague.

Darrell Brooks, a Black criminal and Trump hater, drives a car into a White crowd killing five (?) and sending dozens to hospital. Headlines encountered today including talk of a mere “car crash” and that the driver would have been fleeing from a knife fight—by implication, innocent victim of circumstance. (How did he get into that knife fight? Would he not have been safe in his car? Should he not have driven more carefully, even if someone with a knife (!) was chasing him? Was someone actually stupid enough to chase a car with a knife?)

Now, maybe these claims are true—I know far too little about the details. However, look at the state of reporting around Rittenhouse at a similar time or how the same incident with “reverse colors” would have been handled: “White supremacist terrorist mows down Black celebrators!!!”

Certainly, calls for life in prison would already be raised by Black activists, no matter the presence or lack of evidence or the presence or lack of exculpating* explanations.

*With regards to e.g. criminal or racist intent. Criminal or civil liability of e.g. gross negligence, reckless endangerment, involuntary manslaughter, or similar, might still apply.

Or consider the case of James Alex Fields Jr., who was involved in a similar incident in Charlottesville. I do not know in detail what happened there either, and I do not claim that he was innocent of intent, but I do know that he received a radically different treatment in the press, long before either conviction or the appearance of a clear image of events. A White man with the wrong political opinions—must be domestic terrorism!

This is equally reflected in his punishment (life + 419 years after “only” one death), which far exceeds the typical level* for even coldblooded murder, even in the U.S. (which tends to have harsher punishments than e.g. Sweden and Germany). Enormous amounts of violence, with definite intent, by Antifa thugs have gone entirely unpunished (including in Charlottesville).

*He did avoid the death sentence. However, (a) this might have been merely the result of a guilty plea, whereby he avoided the risk of death by the guarantee of a long prison term, (b) statistics on the death penalty give a mere 39, nationwide, for 2017, the year of the event and similar numbers for 2018 and 2019, when trials and sentencing took place. (To be compared with far higher numbers of murders.)

As to the conviction, with the reservation that I have not done detailed legwork: He claimed fear, not anger or hate; and I have read a few supportive accounts (a long time ago; I do not vouch for their correctness), including talk of a gunman chasing him. (And note that gunmen are far more dangerous to someone in a car than knife wielders are.) There are signs that he was mentally ill, not evil, even were the act deliberate. (Note e.g. that wannabe presidential killer John Hinckley was given a few decades of psychiatric care and is now back on the streets.) It will, I suspect, be very, very hard to acquit Brooks by arguments that would not also have given Fields a considerable chance of acquittal (assuming equally fair juries).*

*Which is not in anyway a prediction that Brooks will be harshly punished. Considering the overall trends in society and the justice system, I suspect a very different result in terms of sentencing. (How different, I leave unstated.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 22, 2021 at 9:09 pm

Rittenhouse verdict / Follow-up: various

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Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote:*

*And even with regard to Rittenhouse the opinion is likely to have been older. (Definitely so on the more general issues.)

Similarly, news reporting around various race-related court cases is often heavily distorted, creating an impression that there is a very clear case, that the accused did have certain motivations, or similar—and if a court, even quite legitimately, finds the opposite later, well, then cries of scandal, racist jurors/judges, and whatnot ensues. And then comes the riots … For an example, the same Swedish news source referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a right-wing extremist, which is (a) disputable, (b) irrelevant in what currently appears to be a clear-cut self-defense case. But, no, the reader is to think “evil Nazi” and ascribe a motive of hate and malevolence.

After one year, the justice system has caught up on (b) and cleared Rittenhouse fully. Indeed, anyone who has actually followed the trial through non-propaganda channels must have seen the self-defense claims as almost obviously true, including through testimony and video evidence. Well, anyone with an intelligent mind who did not suffer from massive prejudice. (As to (a), I have still not seen one shred of evidence for this being true. However, it would still be irrelevant for a fair trial, even had it been true.)

The news reporting around Rittenhouse and his trial has been a scandal, however. Many sources have tried to distort the events horribly and in a manner not compatible with what was actually shown during the trial. Indeed, even post-trial, the situation is ridiculous and libelous. For instance, visiting MSNBC earlier today, I found headlines like “Kyle Rittenhouse trial was designed to protect white conservatives who kill” and “The Rittenhouse verdict is a symptom of a much bigger sickness in America”—these turn the world on its head. Notably, as to the first: there are strong signs that Rittenhouse was prosecuted and persecuted because he was a “white conservative” (not despite it); the disparate treatment of various ethnic and political groups over the last few years strongly point to “black liberals” (up to and including Antifa terrorist and BLM rioters/looters) being treated far better in court and the justice system than “white conservatives”; and it appears that Grosskreuz (?*) remains unprosecuted for the attempted murder of Rittenhouse, despite the evidence against him being stronger than the evidence against Rittenhouse for the attempted murder of Grosskreuz. Sick and twisted.

*I do not have the energy to check name details.

Looking through older texts, I have found one other that mentions Rittenhouse. In that text I express fear about the risk that fair trials might be disappearing. At least in this specific case, my fears did not materialize. (At least not to the point of a change in verdict. Doxing attempts and prosecutional misconduct did take place, to Rittenhouse’s disadvantage, as might some other problems.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 20, 2021 at 1:12 am

Blogroll update (Brownstone Institute)

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I have been a strong critic of the approach taken against COVID from virtually day one*—and an ardent critic of the inexcusable way that debate and dissent has been crushed with “Fake news! Fake news!” instead of factual arguments.

*Indeed, my first text is dated 15th of March, 2020.

Adding the Great Barrington Declaration to my blogroll has been tempting, but I both found the overall site, basically a single declaration, too uninformative and have been skeptical about the long-term value based on the natural lack of updates. (The authors have clearly and early on stated that the declaration reflects a plausible opinion based on what was known at the time, likely in October 2020. While the ideas behind it have remained sound, the details might be different, had it been written today, more than a year later.)

Recently, I have encountered a strong alternative, a “spiritual child of the Great Barrington Declaration” (per about page) in the Brownstone Institute. Indeed, two of the main authors of the declaration, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, are driving forces behind the Brownstone Institute.

Here you can find a steady stream of up-to-date articles in the same spirit, many very well worth reading. for instance, today, Jay Bhattacharya’s testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives on the enormous information problems, distortions, and acts of censorship that have followed COVID—often from exactly the same people who cry “Fake news! Fake news!” when someone tries to start a fair debate. (On my own behalf, I would like to stress that the problems are by no means limited to COVID, but increasingly include any opinions that are not sufficiently far Left, regardless of topic.)

The articles page of the Brownstone Institute is added to my English blogroll. (At the time of writing, the nominal start page is less interesting.)

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November 18, 2021 at 7:43 pm

TV and defamation of the dead / Follow-up: Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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Almost exactly fifteen months ago, I wrote about the absurd and grossly unethical attempts to paint a dead man as the murderer of Olof Palme. (Also see several other follow-ups.)

Among other things:

Here we have a potentially innocent man who will be considered the murderer by great swaths of the population and many history books—who has no chance to say anything in his defense.

This fear now risks being cemented: Netflix has released a TV series, which appears* to push this very angle—he did it. For those who can read Swedish, great amounts of discussion can be found in the comments to a Swedish article ([1]).

*I have not, and will not, watch it myself. I go by claims by those who have seen it, including in [1].

This is the more absurd, as my readings since my original text point very strongly to the accusations being faulty. To the degree that they are not faulty, the evidence is so slim that the prosecution would have been laughed out of court, had the alleged murderer still been alive and been brought to trial. Of course, not even all Swedes will have done corresponding readings, and international viewers of this series are quite unlikely to have done so.

No, for many, it will be “I know that he did it—I saw it on TV”.

Excursion on “based on a true story”, etc.:
Generally, even when no immediate fear of major defamation is present, I tend to avoid series and movies that are “based on a true story”, as they tend to be poorly made, necessarily will contain at least some (often considerable) distortion of reality, almost necessarily will be partial, and as they tend give grave mischaracterizations of at least some of the characters.

Similarly, I often react negatively to the inclusion of real historical characters in otherwise fictional works.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

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Sleep and that bad cosmic joke

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As a follow-up to my recent posts, beginning with [1]:

The construction works appear to be over. (Knock on wood—except that any type of knocking is extremely annoying after weeks of outrageous disturbances.) However, the indirect negative effects on my sleep, life, and work continue:

For the last week or so, I have spent maybe twelve hours a day (often divided into two blocks) alternating, again and again, between a bit of sleep and a bit of letting-my-thoughts-wander-while-almost-asleep. Notably, on many occasions when I would normally just get up after waking, I merely consider getting up, feel much too tired, roll over on the other side, and try to get some more sleep. The other twelve hours, I am still tired enough to lack in energy, have great trouble motivating myself to e.g. write and do household and other chores (that have really mounted up). Of course, a solid day of quality writing is a much easier task after a solid night of quality sleep—and writing without a clear and awake brain is unlikely to produce anything worthwhile.

Take that feeling when the alarm clock goes off much too early on Monday morning, and you either hit “snooze” or force yourself up for a cup of strong coffee and a cold shower. Now imagine having something like that feeling, if with varying strength, through most of the day and for days in a row.

Or to play on some of the texts on various TV series that I have published recently, as follow-ups to When a TV series turns into a zombie of its old self: TV series are not the only thing that can turn into zombies.

Excursion on sleep math:
To some approximation, every hour of sleep results in two hours of quality awake time, assuming that sufficient REM sleep is reached. (Unlikely with a single hour, but, on the other hand, six continuous (!) hours might be almost as refreshing as eight. The approximation holds reasonably in my experience. Additional reservations are needed concerning when in the sleep cycle someone wakes, whether a previous sleep deficit is present, and similar complications.)

Even if I do reach eight hours of sleep a day with my current pattern, even with sufficient REM, etc., four of the resulting sixteen waking hours are already used up. Drop it to six hours of sleep and six hours of letting-my-thoughts-wander-while-almost-asleep and we have 2 * 6 – 6 = 6 (!) hours of quality awake time. Now factor in the low quality of sleep, likely insufficient REM, a pre-existing sleep deficit (which does not seem to help with continuous sleep), etc., and my feeling like a zombie is unsurprising.

Excursion on sleeping pills:
I do have some, which I use mostly to control my nerves and/or temper in exceptional circumstances. I point to my Finnair experiences for what happens when I take one: I do not fall asleep, but I do feel like a zombie … (And I am not keen on experimenting with double doses.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 4, 2021 at 4:46 am

Tax filings for 2020 / The German IRS and Elster (again)

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And again fucking, unusable Elster!

Among the problems encountered:

  1. I began the process in (likely) July, by creating the needed documents and making some preliminary entries. With one thing and another, the rest of the job had to wait, which should have be no problem in light of a COVID-related and blanket three-month extension of the deadlines.

    But no: A few months later, I received emails that some of these documents would now be automatically deleted by Elster, because they had gone unedited for too long. I wrote back and forbade this deletion, while pointing out that this was an inexcusable act of user hostility. (Even by the standards of Elster and the German “IRS”.) I note that there is no advantage to such a deletion, but potentially enormous disadvantages.

    They were deleted nevertheless.

  2. The field for messages to the IRS still (!) does not take line-breaks.
  3. That I had added such a message brought Elster into a destructive loop, where (the German version of) “check document” led to a semi-error page that pointed out that I had left such a message (and why?!?!), which repeated again and again on subsequent attempts. The document was still sendable, but this broke the apparently preferred-by-the-IRS workflow of check-and-send-from-the-results-page. (Cf. an older text for these absurdities.)
  4. The “check document” for the main document originally failed on the claim that I needed to indicate whether I had received COVID support—even when I had not. There was no obvious field for this anywhere, there was no indication of help on how to do this, and only an internet search revealed that I needed to add an entire new attachment to the document, which then contained two fields, one for yes/no on whether I had received help, and another for the amount for those who had.
  5. Generally, “check document” is extraordinarily incompetent at indicating where an error (real or imagined by Elster) is located and makes odd jumps. (And there is not or only rarely a visual indication which fields are mandatory in advance.) For instance, in the EÜR document, there are two fields that seemed irrelevant to me, but where “check document” insisted on an entry. I made one entry (indicating 0) and clicked the confirmation button for that entry. Now, I obviously wanted to continue with the second field, which was immediately below the first. But no: Elster took me back to “check document”, forcing me to go back and find the relevant field again.
  6. Did I mention that mandatory fields are usually not marked as mandatory? (Yes, I did.)
  7. I copied a calculated-by-Elster value from one document to another (and why is this not handled automatically?!?), because this value was needed as an input in the second document. The output value contained both a thousand separator and decimal places (and a decimal separator). The input field required a value in whole Euro (no decimal places) and could not cope with the thousand separator, giving me two separate error messages.
  8. A great help in filling out the EÜR could have been pre-filled fields based on last year (which works well with the other documents, where the advantage is lesser), so that I could e.g. see where I had put postage and where train rides and where this-and-that. Specifically in the EÜR, this does not seem to work, however, as only trivial fields (like name and identifiers) are filled out. Then it is down to guesswork or Internet searches to find the right fields.

And to this a few things I might have forgotten, the great many problems discussed in earlier entries, the incomprehensible German tax system, …

Fucking amateurs!

Written by michaeleriksson

October 29, 2021 at 10:35 am

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Thoughts on “How I Met Your Mother”

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Next on my list of diversions from construction noise (cf. [1], [2]) is “How I Met Your Mother”. (Unfortunately, very incompletely and often in the wrong season order, because I have trouble finding the various DVDs.)

I have only seen the last season once—and this will remain so (irrespective of what DVDs I do find). Why? It was one of the most ill-conceived in TV history, breaking with the original format, bringing little new value in return, failing to truly let the viewers get to know the “mother”,* and, ultimately, shitting on the eight preceding seasons. These, from a romantic point of view, dealt with three main constellations: the long-standing Marshall–Lily relationship, the long and twisted road of the Barney–Robin relationship, and Ted’s search for the “mother”. What happens in the last season, where we should see the completion and happily-ever-after** of the two*** latter? Barney and Robin fall apart and “mother” dies, in order to bring the horrible constellation of Ted and Robin together …

*Which might otherwise have been a saving grace. Note that she has no true presence in the previous seasons, as more or less mandated by the idea of the show.

**Something typically assumable of a work of fiction, no matter how much tougher real life is.

***The first constellation already being at that stage.

Here, I strongly suspect a radically different problem than with most other TV series (but I possess no insider knowledge): The show makers began with a certain idea for how the show should end and stubbornly stuck with that idea, even after better developments presented themselves and/or that end proved ill-advised.

Ted and Robin simply did not have any chemistry, did not work well together, and seemed to crash and burn every time that they were in a relationship. In many ways, Robin might have been a mere fix and bad idea of Ted’s (in universe; a fix and bad idea of the makers in the real world), and a realistic (!) continuation of the series past the last season would likely just have shown them crash and burn for the umpteenth time. Compare this with his long-standing search for “the one” or his obsession with the “slutty pumpkin”, who turned out to be an even worse fit than Robin, once he found her again—and, yes, this involved another (see below) extremely premature “I love you”.

As much as I dislike Rachel (of “Friends”), her long romance with Ross was a case of two persons with a genuine long-term love and attraction, where I had the impression that they naturally were drawn together, while the makers continually intervened to push them apart in order to keep the “will they/won’t they” going.* Ditto Robin and Barney, who seemed right for each other, even when they screwed up. With Robin and Ted, I always had the opposite impression, that the characters were naturally repelling each other, but that the makers kept pushing them back together, no matter how bad a match they were.

*Wisely: most series tend to lose when this type of tension between main characters is removed, e.g. because they marry half-way through the series.

Look at the first season alone: Robin is immediately introduced as a romantic interest for Ted (indeed, with a mislead that she was the “mother”), there is an elaborate story with e.g. the stealing of a blue horn and an extremely premature “I love you”, but no actual sparks. In contrast, Ted and Victoria showed more sparks within their first episode than Ted and Robin did over the entire series. Similarly, there is one episode, of a mostly unromantic nature, where Robin plays the wingman to Barney—and the two just click in such a manner that I wanted more of them together and saw them as a great romantic match. (Probably, several seasons before their romance actually began, but the writing, in a positive sense, was already on the wall.)

Indeed, if the road of mother-is-dead-and-Ted-goes-for-some-old-crush is taken, Robin would not make the top-3, maybe* not even top-5, of my candidates.

*This will depend a little on seasons that I have not yet re-watched.

From another perspective, I have some troubles seeing any of Ted’s romances as the truly true thing, because, looking at the series as a whole, he seems to be more in love with the idea of love and romance than with the respective other party. (In this, he parallels a younger me, but I grew out of it in my twenties—Ted appears never to have done so, not even in the future of 2030, when he must be above 50.)

The fact that Ted and his actor (Josh Radnor) come across as extremely fake and “douchy”, especially in the first season, does not help—a constant and obviously fake smile, and arms spread out as were he about to wrestle the person in front of him. Barney might have been a scumbag in some ways, even criminal ways, but he somehow managed to be sympathetic* (not to mention entertaining). Ted? Not so much. In this, he is one of the few cases where I look back at a series and am open to another casting choice leading to a better series.** With many other series, I do not just have trouble seeing a better choice, but am left with the feeling that any other choice would not have been, say, Ross, Rachel, Joey, …—or, indeed, Barney***.**** Ted? Again, not so much.

*At least, from the perspective of a TV viewer. I do not guarantee that I would have the same sympathy if I met him in real life. (Similarly, it is often possible to sympathize even with some Mafia members in a movie, even in light of behavior that would be intolerable in real life.)

**Other examples include “JD” on “Scrubs” and both the main characters on “Psych”. Indeed, that I stopped watching “Psych” is largely rooted in the main characters. Series like that are often carried by high-quality secondary characters, e.g. Dr. Cox, Dr. Kelso, and the (unnamed) janitor on “Scrubs”—those cast with actors too old or unattractive to play the hip youngsters or young hipsters, but who have greater acting skills.

***My feelings for the other three main characters is half-way between these positions. I would be against a time-travel-and-recast scenario, but I am not so set on these specific actors that I would see another (quality) casting choice as a major blow.

****This phenomenon likely largely results from a mixture of exposure (I am simply used to seeing X played by Y) and the natural influence of the actor on the character (others might have done an equally good job, but the character would have been someone different, just like, say, two brothers are not carbon copies). However, series that are highly successful (and, therefore, more likely to have been seen by me) are typically of highly over-average casting, with the implication that replacing an important actor with a semi-random choice would, on average, lead to an objective quality drop.

Excursion on mental health of characters:
It is often the case that sitcom characters (to a lesser degree, TV characters in general) are of dubious mental health, ranging from minor “issues” to actual visits to the loony bin.* Consider e.g. “Friends”, where Ross went through a period where I would consider him so severely disturbed that he needed professional help (manifesting in e.g. his “secret marriage” to Rachel), both Chandler and Monica carry scars from a troubled childhood, and Phoebe straddles the border between kooky and crazy. After “Friends”, “How I Met Your Mother” might be the second placer on the mental-health scale (of the sitcoms that I am familiar with), with four out of five characters clearly not being where they should be, headwise. (I am uncertain about Marshall, who might or might not be.) Pick a season of “Friends” where Ross is in better shape and “How I Met Your Mother” might even be the number one. Within the group, Ted competes with Barney for the first place among the five, through his unhealthy romantic obsessions.**

*I stress that this is not necessarily a point of criticism: characters who are off-kilter open up new roads for both humor and stories, and if mental-health issues can achieve this, I have no problems with it. (Similar effects can be achieved through e.g. great originality, as with the Addams and Munster families, or great stupidity, as with various characters from “My Name is Earl” or, of course, Joey.) Neither is it, when kept within limits, necessarily unrealistic, as some level of problems is quite common in (at least) the modern Western populations.

**Which contribute to my skepticism towards the Ted–Robin romance(s). And, no, obsessing with love or finding a partner, or with any given specific partner (especially not, when it happens with several partners), is neither healthy nor a sign of true love.

Written by michaeleriksson

October 25, 2021 at 11:29 am

Corrections to blogroll update / Nobel Prizes / COVID

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In my latest blogroll update, I mention a non-blogroll link with:

I have recently encountered one of the most interesting texts on COVID that I have read so far: It Was Always a Con: The COVID Debacle.

[…]

While this and the following claims are not necessarily incorrect, I suspect that had my mind on a different text and/or conflated these two overlapping texts into one in the time between reading and the update: https://www.juliusruechel.com/2021/09/the-snake-oil-salesmen-and-covid-zero.html.

As both texts are fairly long, I will not attempt to straighten the details out, but I recommend both and caution that what I say about the one might (or might not) be more applicable to the other.

Elsewhere in the update, I claim that the Nobel Prize in “Physiology or Medicine” had been awarded “to two Armenians”. In fact, only one of the two was Armenian.

(The texts that I have written during construction noise appear to contain more errors than usual. Reader beware …)

Written by michaeleriksson

October 16, 2021 at 8:30 am