Don't often disagree with you but you are dead wrong on one thing in this post: Frank Herbert makes explicit in the book (by putting extensive to this effect in Jessica's stream of consciousness) that there is no way in hell Paul should be able to *lose* the fight against Jamis. Paul's been trained continuously in knife combat almost since birth, by the most renowned individual fighters in the galaxy (Gurney, Duncan, and Thufir too). He's been given vast amounts of additional secretive Bene Gesserit training by his mother to improve reflexes beyond a human baseline. Physically everything has been done to make him perfect. Jamis is Fremen, and they fight hard, but he's just a regular joe, and indeed in the book Paul & Jamis have a short scuffle when the Fremen meet Paul and Jessica which Paul wins instantly.

As a result of all this, the shield thing only really impedes Paul on the *attack*. He's been trained not to get hit *at all*, for preference, and he easily dodges Jamis throughout the fight. The problem is that he attacks too slow (because of his anti-shield training) to hurt Jamis at first. The Fremen watching become angry because they see Paul is vastly better than Jamis, and seems to be toying with the latter. This is compounded by Paul's unwillingness to kill at all. Eventually he is forced to, and when the Fremen understand it was his first kill they forgive him for appearing to toy with Jamis.

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Shouldn't you have mentioned that the proper strategy for sword fighting with shields is like the slow boring of hard boards?

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The takes must flow

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"you get a lot of this kind of take that basically begs everyone to call the electorate racist and say there’s nothing to be done"

Democrats could start by examining how their own rhetoric and messaging on race has become confused and incoherent. It's now considered controversial in Democratic circles to say you support the goal of a colorblind society, meaning a society where people are not treated differently based on their skin color or ethnic ancestry. But if that's not what Democrats stand for, then what do they stand for?!

The fact that Republicans tolerate racism in the Trump camp isn't an excuse for Democrats' muddled messaging on race. On the contrary, that makes it all the more important for Democrats to offer the public a clear and compelling message on this issue.

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I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t explain why the doctor’s betrayal is a really BFD in the Dune universe, but I’ll chalk it up to you not getting enough spice in your diet.

As for the election analysis I’ve seen three explanations put forward by Democratic partisans and progressives:

1. Voters are racist or stupidly we’re fooled by racists.

2. This is all just a normal cyclic pattern, there is nothing to see here.

3. Democrats failed at messaging and were too wimpy and didn’t “fight” enough.

The latter two are the kind of normal rationalizations that have been around for ever.

The first i’d definitely worrying. I fail to see how calling people racists - without evidence - would attract anyone to your side.

But that’s become one of the defining problems with contemporary politics - in-group signaling is much more important than making the group bigger.

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Thanks for the explication with only minor spoilers. Reading the books after seeing the movie.

Also thanks for the bit on VA. As someone with 2 kids currently in public school but debating moving them to Montessori or Waldorf, I don't find the claim that this is all white back lash helpful. Parents concern over how their children are being educated by someone else is obviously valid and its reasonable that we should debate this on the national and local level. Just seems like we have lost most mechanisms by which to have such a reasonable debate. Makes me want huddle in my camp and give up on "public debate", frankly.

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This was one of the most valuable posts I’ve read, and I’ve been subscribed since the beginning. Not because your other posts aren’t good. But I’ve spent probably 6+ hours post movie reading dune wikis and watching YouTube videos for context and still didn’t catch all the stuff you mentioned.

Also, I’d appreciate a multi week series of posts that painstakingly turn every feature of Dune’s plot into a metaphor for US politics.

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"Will he still be this unpopular?"

The root of the "Brandon" phenomenon is that a huge portion of the electorate finds Biden to be comically incompetent and utterly unworthy of respect. Could that change? Could Biden become less gaffe-prone? I think we all know he cannot - he was a gaffe machine and a blithering idiot even in his salad days.

"...you get a lot of this kind of take that basically begs everyone to call the electorate racist..."

The same folks who elected Youngkin also elected Winsome Sears - an immigrant and the state's first black woman to become lieutenant governor. (Maybe they didn't notice?)

Here are some of her words:

"There is no Census Bureau category called 'of color.' I am Black. Virginians are ready for strong, principled and sensible leaders who will serve them -- no matter one's color."


"We have a saying in church, 'I may not be what I'm supposed to be, but I ain't what I used to be.' And that's America. We are not back in 1963, when my father arrived at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and things were very bad for us as Black people.

"Are there changes that need to be made? Most assuredly. There is no country in this world that does not suffer from racism...But you have seen people who are dying to cross the border into America because they know that if they can get their foot on American soil, the trajectory of their lives will change -- as it did for my father."

If this country is to make more progress on race - and I believe it will - it will not be Democrats who lead the way. It will be people like Ms. Sears who have an uplifting, hopeful, and conservative vision for The United States.

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As a parent of schoolchildren who is annoyed at covid theatre now and angry about how LAUSD handled the past year, I find the main stream media’s explanation (angry parents) spot on. I feel heard.

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You should write about books and movies you enjoy more. I mean, I’m here for the politics and policy stuff, and these particular explanations I already knew because I had a decent education in the classics, but this is good and I’m interested in reading other similar things.

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Once again Matt's last line is his best one: "If you don’t try really hard to win, it’s going to be hard to win." I would add that, if you're running for Governor of Virginia, maybe don't tell people that you think parents should have no say in what their kids are taught in school.

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One of my favorite things about Dune was how much world building he did by throwing in tidbits here and there and leaving the rest to be figured out. Which made what Brian Herbert did with story so tragic, he filled so many of the gaps that were already filled with my imagination - and not to boast, but my imagination is a far better writer than he.

For example - the first time I ever saw the Matrix, I walked away thinking "is this how the Butlerian Jihad started?" which of course doesn't work, but seemed like a cool way to connect the two stories for a minute.

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Dune is about worms

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Josh Marshall yesterday saying we need to "grow up "Dust ourselves off, try to build and internalize an ethic of strength and resilience even if it is only at first within ourselves. ".

I agree to a certain extent. I think more broadly though that there are many signs we aren't going to get it together before the midterms. Too much we would have to change and we aren't good at changing how we do what we do. Once they mentioned a carbon tax I was pretty sure nothing was going to pass.

Maybe we get something passed. Does it turn the polls around? I doubt it. Dems are bad at selling accomplishments. And all the takes say "pass stuff to improve quality of life" = win. This is pretty close to demographic change = win. Neither of these things are true. Getting to a win is about crafting a compelling story and telling it well while all the other variables (e.g. good economic situation) line up behind you.

On top of that we need to be winning more territory and we aren't even making an attempt to win more states.

This is all the long way of saying I am pretty sure we are boned. Josh Hawley could be president in our 2030 christian authoritarian state.

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What's really aggravating is that the Democrats already have a lot of policies that are good for the "electorate of white voters." Even over-50 non-college and rural whites! It's not as if they'd need to drastically alter their actual policy platform - certainly not the policies that are actually possible to enact. I mean, of course they're not going to win the white non-college demographic outright, but they do have sellable pitches. But they have to try to sell them.

I said this in the open thread yesterday, but Trump's outreach to POC voters in 2020 is very instructive. He didn't propose any new policies to win POCs over. He did stop talking about the wall, which is important. But the other big thing that distinguished 2020 Trump from pre-Trump Republicans was simply that he *asked POCs to vote for him* whereas most pre-Trump Republicans didn't bother, thinking it was pointless. High-info liberals scoffed at the cheesy tokenism at the RNC, but it sure didn't hurt him with POC voters.

It's kind of ironic in a way that educated social liberals are all about "representation" being of paramount importance (sometimes even to the exclusion of tangibly benefiting underprivileged groups economically), but simultaneously can't imagine (or perhaps are averse to) even using empty representation to try to stop the bleeding with older non-college voters. Even if all they did was make it a point to consistently put older non-college people in ads and on the stage at events (including many white males, but of course not limited to) might help and wouldn't hurt. But you can't succeed if you don't try.

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BBB has tax break for local journalists. Why not for comedians?

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