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Maiello And Orion Talk Vaccines, Housing And Star Wars

Questions For Maiello
Urban Living - I moved back up to the Seattle area. A friend has given me a pretty good offer that would have me living in a pretty stable situation for a long time that'd be very affordable and allow me to live and work without feeling like the rug was constantly going to be pulled out from under me.

Cities like Seattle and the Bay Area especially are very expensive. An apartment averages around $1000 a month in Seattle and some places were literally charging that per week in the Bay Area (I'm serious!!) It's strange when these places are filled with liberals who bemoan social inequalities and yet have economic climates that encourage very stark inequality. Why is this? Is it just supply and demand? What can be done to change it, if anything?

You don't even want to know about New York City, then.  A few things are going on, though.  First is that rental demand all over the place has been elevated since the housing crisis.  Though real estate markets have improved, bank credit is not available for many would-be home buyers and so they are forced to rent.  Another factor is that we're seeing a reversal of the suburban American dream.  People whose parents and grandparents clawed their way out of the cities are now clawing their way back in.  Finally, there is an urban housing stock problem and when new units are built, they are built for high end markets.  Huge concentrations of wealth nationally and globally mean that real estate developers can compete for the very high end customers.  In big global cities like San Francisco, New York, London and the like, high end real estate becomes a magnet for foreign investment.  Say you're a rich Russian citizen afraid that Putin might one day snap and take all of your stuff?  By a huge penthouse in Manhattan.  It will likely appreciate in value, it's a place you can go if you can get into trouble and Putin can never take it.  Even if he takes every cent you have in Russia, you could get to New York, sell the penthouse and never have to work again.  This is all the economics of oligarchy.

Oscar Romero is slated to be beatified - this is the process by which someone becomes a saint in the Catholic Church. I don't know if you know who he is but he was a bit like a Catholic Che Guevara - he was killed by El Salvadorian fascists in the late 1970s because of his speaking out against the targeting of the poor and marginalized by fascist death squads. Like Guevara, El Salvadorians love him and emblazon him on t-shirts and murals but that enthusiasm never reached the Vatican level until now. Recognition like this is something that never would have occurred until very recently. What do you make of it?

I'd say it means, at least partly, that the center of Catholicism has moved from North to South.  This is the Vatican adapting to a new reality, that the people who are mostly deeply connected and rooted in the religion (spiritually, economically and politically) are in South and Central America.

Star Wars Rebels is started to get serious now. There was an appearance by Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams and everything, and characters like Hondo from Clone Wars and Grand Moff Tarkin will be reappearing too. Do you think we'll see Ahsoka Tano return? Imagine a duel between her and Darth Vader! The creators have been tepidly stepping in to this thing but there's much they need to explain.

I liked seeing Lando.  I also like Ezra's blaster/saber.  I like that they're bridging the gap between all the various chapters.  Ahsoka vs. Vader would have to take a very dark turn, though.  He'd have to either kill her or be willing to do so.  She can beat up the Inquisitor, though.
Questions For Orion
I think that you and I have a similar stance on vaccines -- that you can disagree with people but still understand why they are skeptical of the medical, pharmaceutical and health care establishments.  Isn't this less about irrational people than it is institutions that have failed to win people's trust?'
You know me long enough to know about back in 2011 when I went pretty crazy on SSRIs. I got through that experience with the help of family but the whole experience was hard to describe. Everything was blurry and distorted. It took a while for me to really feel like normal again and also to create a new sense of my life - a life where I didn't think I had a cognitive disorder of any kind much less one that needs to be treated with medicine. I have been skeptical ever since because the doctors who prescribed SSRIs basically said they "don't know" how they function.
I still take medication. I take Tegretol every day to treat seizures. I took Sudafed when I was sick with a bad cold. I don't want people to become Christian Scientists or even Scientologists. However, they've got all the reason in the world to be skeptical. Even if they take something and it helps them, they should research it first. And if they decide it's not for them, they shouldn't be shamed or seen as bad parents or bad people for doing so.
Mitt Romney's out!  What was he thinking?
I don't know. I've met people who like him and the appeal is pretty base - he's wealthy, rich, (did I mention he is wealthy?), Mormon and white. He's what a lot of people envy and see as the desired power structure, even if they're not racist in a really nasty way.
A few months ago, Marvel started a new Ms. Marvel series that's won wide praise, gave the power of Thor to a woman and now has announced an all-female Avenger's team.  I think it's a great idea but do you think it will help the appeal of comics cross gender lines for the first time in forever?
Marvel also had an all-female X-Men, which was more natural because the X-Men always have had very strong female characters. I think anything that puts ideas in a progressive direction for Marvel is good - they're in a lot of danger of rehashing old ideas with various Ultimate or Year One relaunches. The comic book market isn't always the most progressive one, however, and a lot of creative attempts like Batwoman were nixed when an openly lesbian caped crusader wasn't what readers really wanted.


  1. Pretty entertaining and informative article all around. this time the prize goes to Mialo for the question about vaccines and the prize for the answer goes to Orion for his answer on the same. Mialo's commentary on why housing prices are so high is really well nuanced but i think fails to give proper credit to the rise in global population, a whole pandora's box if issues all on its lonesome. On a more minor note, the reply also ignores the fact that there are possibly as many native urbanites leaving for the suburbs or more rural environs as there are people leaving the suburban and rural areas for the city, returnees or not. One question though to both of you, if women had felt the lack of female comic characters wouldn't they simply have started up and distributed comics that do have female main characters. in fact, i think some might have done just that, from some of the offerings on the internet. But if this is the case doesn't that really mean that marvel and every other 'established' publisher of comics is really playing catch-up with evolving public taste and therefore struggling to stay relevant? What they do may not be of all that much importance/relevance anymore to popular culture since they no longer lead the pack, so to speak. or am i missing the point - any replies guys? - by the way it's mel here, not nowhere man, but i can't figure out how to change my settings (a true luddite here! - damnit!) - so Michael, could you be my notifier if either of you reply? thank you.


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Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

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Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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