Worlds & Time

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Using the internet to redo politics, again

You know one thing that the internet is really good at?  Accessing large databases from anywhere.  That's Google, Facebook, Twitter, and just about any message board in the world.  Those are massively huge databases, and those websites are pulling content out of them on the fly.  And often you're adding content, and it's filing that into the database and giving it to your friends when they scroll down the Facebook wall.

There's a database that's really important to elections: voter data.  Especially the public voter data of registered voters that they can get from election districts which has a name, an age, a political party, an address, and maybe a phone number.  When you volunteer for a campaign you generally end up doing one of two things, both of them connected to that data.  The first is make phone calls to people to ask them for money, ask them to volunteer, or ask for their vote in the election.  The second is to go out on the street and actually knock on people's doors and ask them to come out to vote, called canvassing.

Those work. They show your neighbors that the candidates have dedicated people working for them, and it really sticks the name of the candidate in a percentage of people's heads, and going house-to-house gets a certain percentage of people out to vote.

But the way that that data is handled is a disaster.  For both previous presidential campaigns I made phone calls at least once.  Both times I was handed a sheaf of paper printouts with the names of the people that I needed to call, and I called down the list and marked a box with the responses.  The given responses were usually "no answer," "refused," "willing to volunteer," and "willing to donate."

Nearly immediately I ran into a ton of problems.  The first was "That's not me, I just got this phone number."  That's not a no answer, and it's not technically a "refused to answer" either.  It might mean that the number was listed wrong, it was changed to another person, or that the person is lying and doesn't want to talk to me.  But that doesn't mean that the person couldn't be contacted through another number or by email, or that the lying person wouldn't mind getting emails.

The second was "I was just called by the campaign five minutes ago" or "I've been called five times by the campaign today" and one caller actually said "If I get another phone call tonight from you I'm not going to vote for Obama."  You know why that was happening?   Because in the database that the Obama administration was keeping listed these people as "need to be contacted" and multiple call locations would just print out the top of the list.  At the end of the day, all that data needed to be put back in the system so that people could be marked as "contacted." That meant tons of confusion about who needed to be contacted, who had been contacted, and who didn't need to be contacted again, and another round of volunteers who had to input the data.

The third was, "I'd love to vote or volunteer, but . . ." Usually that meant they needed a ride to the polls.  Sometimes they just asked if it was possible to get a reminder call the day before the election.  A couple of people asked me other things that I couldn't answer but could have been answered by someone higher up the food chain. 

A secure xml database with a every person's basic information input (no credit card information) that volunteers could access directly could have solved all of those problems.  First, it would have been much easier to change between phone contact and email contact, and incorrect numbers could be marked without necessarily deleting the person entirely off the lists (you could even email them to check if they'd moved or changed phones).  Second, marking responses could be done directly to the database to make sure that people weren't called five times in a row.  Third, a system that allowed flags for different kinds of follow up would have made the lives of the campaign directors much easier by tracking the requests.

Let's say you have that information in a database already.  Perhaps you create an iPhone app that can access one or two records at a time.  The app could allow you to contact the next person on the list with one touch, and lock out the entry for 15 minutes so that it wouldn't pop up for anyone else.  At the end of the call, the responses could be just "Yes" and "No" buttons that could quickly mark the data back into the database for "already contacted," "needs follow-up," or create flags and messages that later volunteers could follow up on.  That information can flow directly into the database, or it can be sent to a trusted supervisor anywhere in the country to be reviewed before being input. 

The flags could be used to create lists of people that need assistance getting to the polls, or who want to volunteer.  If the person contacted speaks Spanish, it could be tagged for follow-up by a Spanish speaking volunteer.  The system could keep track of issues that voters care about and call scripts could add specific information based on what the system knows about the political views of a particular candidate.  All of this could basically function in real time. 

With the prevalence of smart phones, a similar system could be used by canvassers going door to door, getting information to the campaign as people are contacted.  You could even have multiple rounds of canvassers hit the same neighborhoods at the same time without fear that you would knock on the same door multiple times.

And having that better data would improve the analytics of the campaign by a thousand fold. How many people need follow up?  What kinds of questions are they asking the volunteers who are calling?  How many people in a given location need rides the day of the election?  Are certain canvassers getting better responses, and if so what are they doing to be more effective?  Are certain people better at talking to people on the phones?  And you can have records of which person contacted which other person and perhaps even have the same people following up. Imagine the experience of knowing that "Jackie from the Obama campaign" is the only person who will call you, and you can ask her questions and she'll get back to you if you have questions.  She speaks your language, and can arrange a local ride, maybe an Uber, to your specific polling place for you.

Let's go back to the watch party I mentioned in the previous post.  People might be uncomfortable inviting other people over for a watch party in their homes, but what if they know that campaign has all the information on those people, and it will usually be the same people coming to events every time?  It's the same concept as Uber, you have a trusted group of people whose information is on file getting electronically matched together to create a better experience for the host and for the participants. By building a community of people with the same views, you get them more involved in the process.

From the perspective of the volunteer, this system also makes so much more sense.  You can make calls from anywhere at any time, for just a few minutes or a few hours.  You can canvass in your own neighborhood for 30 minutes after work instead of needing to take four hour shifts.  You can even reward the people who canvass and do the most calls with campaign swag that they can show off in person.  Perhaps the best caller and the best canvasser in an area can get VIP passes to a candidate event when Obama is in the area, and get to shake hands and get a picture?

Supervisors could also review new input from anywhere, even while out canvassing themselves, or even across the country.  The system would allow people in Maine to help out people in Hawaii if the supervisors in Hawaii got overwhelmed.  Programmers could even create different user interfaces, as long as the architecture of the database was properly structured, analogous to the way that Facebook on a desktop computer is different than on a phone, or the way that Tweetdeck allows different access to twitter than the native app does.

Finally, this kind of system could be useful even more for down ticket races.  What if Jackie called you back for the midterms to ask you to vote?  Maybe even for your mayor or city council person?  By building relationships between volunteers and voters you could drastically impact local races.  You could print up direct mailers specific to individuals to keep them informed about their specific local elections, and the issues that they care most about.

This is the system that the Democratic Party needs to build to mobilize the next generation of political supporters.  The paper and pen canvassing and random calls make the party look disorganized and out of touch with modern technology.  The party will also be moving into step with the current culture of personalized information technology and using technology to connect local volunteers together toward a common goal.

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The Terrible Debate Event

Quick vignette, which is partially responsible for the idea in the next post.

When Barack Obama got elected the first time he used his website to gather millions of small donations and develop email lists full of donors and volunteers.  His fundraising was relatively spectacular, and Bernie Sanders is doing much the same thing this election cycle.

I was living in New York City during most of the 2008 election cycle and I didn't have a television and wanted to watch the debates.  Barack Obama's campaign had a system to find debate watching parties.  I had this image in my head of going into someone's house with two or three other people and watching the debates and eating Doritos, and maybe talking with some like minded people about politics.

Instead I ended up watching at a club just off 23rd St. & 5th Avenue.  I showed up and there was a line . . . and then the guy at the door told me there was a $40 cover to get in.  That was ridiculously expensive to me.  I was still looking for a job and burning through my savings living in Manhattan.  And then the woman behind him said something about how if I'd paid in the last few hours it might not have shown up on the printed list.

So I was like: Yeah, I did that.  They let me in.

I hate bars and nightclubs usually, but this was a bit more of a lounge.  Most bars are so loud that they give me headaches in moments, and usually so loud you can't actually hear the subtleties of the music anyway.  And this was after the cigarette ban in NYC, so it wasn't the stink of cigarettes but of perfume and aftershave that hit me like a brick wall.  It still felt like a terrible place to me and I hated it.

They had a TV.  A big one, but it seemed like the seats around it were all full, so I sat closer to the bar.  I can't remember exactly the exchange, but I think a server came by and when I said I didn't want to have a drink she said there was a one drink minimum, maybe a two drink minimum?  So I ordered a drink.  It was $25.

I'm pretty sure that no matter what the minimum was, I only had one drink, mostly because I don't think I could have had enough cash on me for two.  It was a terrible experience because even though it was a "watch party" it was still a lounge and so there was loud music in the background and I basically caught one word out of five off of the TV. 

I left immediately after the debate and that was the most expensive club experience I had while I lived in NYC.  It was also the only time I tried to use the Obama website to attend any kind of political function in New York or Boston.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Serious Politics

A liberal approaches an evangelical voter and asks: "If you had to choose between (a) outlawing abortion and seeing the number of abortions, especially unsafe abortions, go up, or (b) keeping abortion legal but seeing the number of abortions reduced overall, which would you choose?"

If you've ever actually tried to ask an evangelical Christian voter the answer to this, you know what the answer is.  It's (c): They want to outlaw abortions and see the number of abortions reduced overall.

This isn't the only question to which the answer is (c).  Fiscal conservative voters want taxes lowered and the national debt to go down.  Many voters want to pay less for schools and hire better teachers.  Law and order types want to reduce drug use and continue to spend money on enforcement only when treatment would work better.  The majority of Americans want to see healthcare costs go down but don't want to try any of the numerous systems that European countries have used to reduce their costs far below ours.  Certain parts of the right want to see Islam banned and religious freedom upheld at any cost.

I've seen so many people give these kinds of answers so many times, and I want to address it for what it is.  The answer (c) is the answer of wishful thinking.

The question itself is a serious one.  When someone offers a choice, (a) or (b), generally these choices are informed by evidence and research.  We know that unsafe abortions go up when the procedure is banned (we're even seeing that resurgence in parts of Texas right now).  We know that reducing taxes from current levels inflates the national debt.  We can see that all other countries pay less than Americans do right now for healthcare.  The question understands these connections and is asking for the priorities of the person being questioned.  Yes, we understand that you oppose abortion on moral grounds, but given the reality of the situation, would you prefer standing by your principles or accepting the lesser evil?

Whenever you get the answer (c) you know that you're dealing with someone who doesn't take politics seriously.  They're not willing to make real choices with consequences, so they deny that there is a choice at all.  To them, there are no correlations or causations between related things, there are only good things and bad things.  Abortion bad.  Lower taxes good.  National debt bad.  War good.  None of those decisions is allowed to have a consequence that isn't intended or even mildly detrimental.

These people have been around for years, but this year I think we're seeing a massive increase in them.  They're the current supporters of Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump isn't politically correct, but most of the time he isn't correct either.  He gives answer (c) constantly.  He wants a multi-billion dollar border wall and he will get Mexico to pay for it.  He'll be a complete jerk to other leaders and they will all respect him and capitulate to his demands.  Trump will cut taxes and balance the budget within a year and create the best economy the world has ever seen.  Trump will be sexist and racist and a bigot and he'll be the best possible president for everyone in the country.

None of those are serious positions.  I get why his positions are attractive: he wants his cake and to eat it too.  In a fantasy land, they sound lovely and magical.  But anyone who only gives (c) answers isn't a serious politician.  He may be in the lead and thus a "serious contender" for the nomination, but he's not a serious person.

The people that follow him are also not serious.  They may shout and (may) vote, but they're not seriously interested in making this country better.  They're not even willing to listen to the truth, much less hard truths.

You can tell just by listening to them talk.  They don't weigh positions.  They don't make hard choices.  They simply find something that sounds good and rally around it mindlessly without doing a basic check to tell if the proposal makes sense.

Conservatives, true ones anyway, aren't rallying around Trump.  They don't even understand him, even though they are partly to blame for him.  They're the ones that have been preaching the political prosperity gospel: believe in True Conservatism and God shall deliver, but that's because conservatives have the most serious of motives: winning.  They looked at the numbers and recognized that they were in trouble, and so pushed a narrative and a situation that would allow them to win despite demographics that were working against them.  Now they're overwhelmed by the voting population that they created, one that isn't happy to work with any conservative serious positions just like they won't work with any liberal serious positions.

I'm not saying that Trump supporters aren't dangerous.  They are.  They're seemingly willing to ignore any criticism and their chosen focus is definitely unhinged.  If he's elected, I think he would be a terrible President of the United States.

But there are two things that I think need to be recognized.  First, it's not Trump that created this group.  If anyone is ultimately responsible it's probably Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, but even they can't claim total credit.  Instead, it's this group that is creating the Trump candidacy and the popularity of Fox News.  The power is flowing upward from the choice (c) voters and is creating a space for a crazy person to stand on.

Second, everyone else, all of the reasonable people, need to recognize when they're dealing with choice (c) voters.  I don't think that talking to most of them will do much good (as per the adage "You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into") but instead of wasting time and energy, you have to accept that these people are real-life trolls and that attention only feeds them.  You can't rely on them to let you know that they're being crazy and irrational, you need to take that responsibility on yourself.  

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Argument from Entropy

1. Entropy affects everything
2. If God exists, he must be perfect
3. If God was perfect at any time, then entropy means that he is not perfect after that point.

Therefore God is not perfect and thus cannot exist.

I think that the obvious point of argument on this one is the first premise, that entropy affects everything.  However, there is really no evidence that there is anything that is not affected by entropy.  You'd have to basically prove that there are things that are not subject to entropy.

Also, just an observation, there's no evidence that entropy is limited to just the universe.  It may be an absolute inviolable law.  So even if God was "outside of time and space" there isn't any evidence that he isn't subject to entropy.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Argument from Morality

1. If God exists, then there is objective morality.
2. If objective morality exists, then it must be apparent to all people, or at least all followers of God.
3. If there is any change in morality over time in the societies that base their morality on God and the Bible, then there is no objective morality.
4. Morality has changed over the last two thousand years, even among the followers of God.

Therefore, there is no objective morality, and there cannot be any being that has objective morality.

Some may suggest that societal morality is a bad baseline to judge the existence of objective morality, in which case society can actually be swapped out for any specific person that claims to have objective morality and someone else they agree to have objective morality (such as Jesus Christ).  As long as the morality of that person is slightly different than the morality of Jesus Christ, there is no objective morality.

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Ontological Argument

1. If God exists, he must be perfect.
2. If he is perfect, he must be objectively perfect.
3. Objectively perfect things do not exist.

Therefore, God does not exist.

Obviously the premise that most theists will have an issue with is the third one, but it appears to be quite true: There are no things that everyone could agree would be perfect.  Zero.  The more "perfect" something is judged to be, actually, the less chance it has of actually existing.  Therefore, it would be logically impossible for an objectively perfect being to exist.

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Friday, February 06, 2015

A thought that is entirely internal to the framework of Christian logic

I don't think that Andrew Wilson really understand what "sin" is, at least in the context of this clip. He badgers Ron to admit that homosexual sex is a sin, which Ron doesn't want to say because Ron knows that admission is damaging to his relationships with gay people (absolutely true, because gay people have been so long singled out as special sinners). However, Andrew doesn't acknowledge that heterosexual sex is very often a sin to God too and that men can commit the same sin just by looking with lust at other women (Matthew 5:21-30). All men, heterosexual or homosexual are sinners in the view of God, and I suspect that it would not be too great a leap to say that all men are sexual sinners in the view of God.

So he's asking Ron if homosexuality is a special sin, one that must stop when accepting Jesus Christ to the extent that many preachers lie and say that God will remove the temptation. Obviously that's wrong, because salvation doesn't work that way. Accepting Jesus doesn't stop men from lusting or coveting or anger, and those states of mind are, in the words of Paul, just as bad as the sins themselves. Christians have to accept that in accepting Christ, they will find salvation after they die, and in their efforts to live better lives on Earth, He will help them live better but not perfect lives.

My question is then, what life better exemplifies that of a Christian with homosexual attraction? Drugs, casual sex, and suffering the persecution of the church, or the embrace of the church and blessing of a stable sexual partnership in a homosexual marriage?

My final thought on this conversation is that Jesus said: "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." The context was divorce, a sin, but it seems to me that those who actually know gay people know that they may habe been joined to their loving same sex partners by God. Let no one demand the separation of two gay men or two gay women as a prerequisite to joining the fellowship, as they have also been joined together by God.

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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Cosmological Argument

1. The universe exists
2. The universe has a beginning
3. Time also began when the universe began
4. The idea of being "created" requires linear time to have meaning
5. There was no concept of linear time "before" the big bang (indeed, even the concept of "before" the big bang is meaningless)

Therefore, the concept of "creating" the universe is meaningless.  Even if something was required to "create" then universe, that concept is negated by the fact that time began at the beginning of the universe.

This argument also covers the similar argument that God could "cause" the universe.  The idea of causation requires temporal dependence ("this action causes that result" requires the action to occur before the result) and therefore it is meaningless to say that anything "caused" the universe.

The subsequent premises are something to the effect of:

6. If the Bible is true, then God must exist (and conversely, if it is false, then the Bible's particular idea of God must not exist)
7. The Bible says that God created the universe

Since the idea of creating the universe is meaningless, then the Bible is wrong and God can't exist in that form.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Post-Publishing Perspective

In response to this DailyKos post and this New Republic article, I wrote the following comment that I think I want to save.  It's related to this other post here at W&T.

Until fairly recently I was working for a fairly major publisher (not one of the big five, but in the top twelve in the United States) in their ebooks division.

Between this article and the one at the New Republic, there are way too many things for me to comment on, but I will try to make a couple of points.

First off, I have absolutely no idea how the New Republic arrived at a 75% profit margin for each ebook sold.  The main reason that this number sounds bunk to me is because the margin on every single title is vastly different and the median margin is way, way lower than that.  If that's an average (and even then it sounds utterly outrageous), then they're not understanding the place of best sellers (mega hits) in the publishing world.

Also, "profit margin" more than suggests that these are "profits."  They're not, because NR is obviously only factoring in the one time production costs of an ebook and ignoring the massive costs of actually running a publishing company with sales and marketing & support staff, infrastructure, and the massive cost of publishing books that never earn out their advance.  I should also say, related to this, I was involved closely in the production of ebooks, and the actual creation of each ebook still requires thousands of dollars.  They're not as cheap or fast to produce as even my own managers used to expect (with the casual, "why do we even pay you?" arrogance when I couldn't create a book in two days for some Amazon promotion that they wanted to join).

Second, about bestsellers, they do make publishers a lot of money.  We had four titles at my publishing house that were bringing in a gross of $24 million a year some 30 years after they were first printed.  However, those kinds of books are insanely rare.

I already mentioned this, but most books don't earn out their advances.  Even if a book is phenomenal, that doesn't guarantee that it sells well.  The print book world is built on forecasting: you need to predict as closely as possible how many books a specific novel will sell, and then print that many.  If you guess under, you'll sell out and Amazon/bookstores will end up getting pissed because you can't fill orders.  Too many and bookstores will return books to you and you have to eat production and shipping costs for those books.  I was very glad that ebooks aren't like this, except that I was continually producing books that would sell twenty copies a year when I had just sunk $2500 into making them.  Generally, that book is going to take years to pay off.

The big books allow publishers to make the small books.  And take risks with some authors that try new things.

Third, most books (and ebooks) don't actually sell at the cover price.  There are always daily deals on Amazon, B&N, or Apple and sometimes they're ridiculous.  For example, one of the e-cookbooks that I worked on retails in print (and originally in e) for $40, and the ebook went on a weekend sale for $1.99!  And even with that, we only sold about 5,000 copies.  It bumped us up in the rankings and we eventually sold another 1,000 copies at the full print cover price (this is super secret publishing strategy, everyone).

But that means that the average sale price of a $40 book was $8.33 per book over that retail period.  This specific case was ridiculous, but this happens a lot on a smaller level.  On an earnings report you see the list price, and the average price per unit sold.  I think the best case scenario I saw on a year was about 90%, and that was the best case.  I would hazard to guess that most are lucky to do 75%.  And big promotions often result in 25-40% averages.

Fourth, about the Apple price fixing thing, the New Republic article mentions this in the last paragraph, but that was actually an attempt to prevent Amazon from becoming a monopoly.  Apple and the big five lost.  Yeah, it was about higher prices for consumers, but I think consumers might have won a short term victory at a long term cost.

Fifth, the cost of ebooks and writer's share:  Yeah, I disagree with the publishers on this.  I think a $9.99 ebook is a fair price (none of this $26.99 for an ebook crap) and I think authors should be making way more in e-royalties than they currently are.  Most authors I worked with had an e-royalty of no more than 15%.  Given a book sells a certain number, say a thousand copies, I think that it should go up to 25% or more.  Publishers aren't handling these aspects particularly well.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Meditation on Colton Haynes

There's usually some actor or artist that I've fixated on for some reason or another.  I've certainly posted enough about Erik Rhodes and Fredrik Eklund to imply that, but sometimes it's a more mainstream actor as well (and I'm not going to pretend that it's an actor OR actress because while I am loving every moment of Jennifer Lawrence's celebrity, I'm talking about another level of desire).

For a long time, for example, it was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or JTT as he was known in the teen beat magazines.  Huh, have I ever actually said that before publicly?  To anyone?  I don't know, I don't think so.

The picture that I had of Jonathan was so nice and familiar and uh, . . . cute.  I had such a big crush on him that I couldn't imagine that people didn't think that he was the prettiest most-beautiful most-special . . . yeah, you get the picture.  There are still characters that live in my head that started off their fictional lives as Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Perhaps some of them as already fictional characters as portrayed by JTT that were further ficitonalized and adapted into the worlds in my head.

There are lots of guys living in there like that.  Who else?  I've had crushes on so many actors . . . all the way from A-listers like Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Lautner, Chris Evans and Josh Hutcherson to guys whose names you'll likely not recognize at all like Alexander Ludwig and Dan Wells.  And athletes like Alexi Nemov and *cough* Tom Daley and Matthew Mitcham.

So, anyway.  My current pop-culture crush is on Colton Haynes who, aside from being just about the most gorgeous guy that has ever lived, was on the show Teen Wolf and is now on Arrow.  Teen Wolf was/is my guilty pleasure.  For a show that should be crap though, it seems really well written and many of the side characters are just as lovable as the main characters.  In that it reminds me of Veronica Mars, I suppose.

When I first started watching Teen Wolf I found Colton Haynes to be rather shallow in the character of Jackson.  Jackson's the white, athletic, captain of the lacrosse team and he's dating a cheerleader. He's basically the epitome of shallowness, actually, and the guys that they usually get to play the shallow white male characters are themselves shallow white males.  Funny how that works out, yeah?  So at the beginning I gave more love to Tyler Posey (werewolf), Tyler Hochtlin, (werewolf), and Dylan O'Brien (brilliant comedic sidekick).

Anyway, there aren't that many guys in the age range that are could convincingly play teenagers in high school that are great actors, especially the ones that are selected to play characters that fit those good looking popular kid roles.  So I saw Colton Haynes playing such a character and didn't give him much of the benefit of the doubt.  To be clear, even though he was an actor in a show, I presumed that he was likely as superficial, conceited and bitchy as the character that he played.  I assumed that he was just as pretty in real life as he was in television land, but that's just television for you.

And then the character had additional characterization, as is the wont for characters in well written television series, and all of the sudden I found that I was actually feeling for this rich, gorgeous jock that was supposed to be the major high school (re: "normal life") antagonist.  Because I had, unwittingly, granted Colton Haynes a powerful version of suspension of disbelief: that he was the character that he played.

So when the character showed off fear and anger and confusion and pain I was surprised because I believed it.  It was acting, I know that, but it was excellent acting.  It was a powerful and professional and amazing performance given by someone that had to have really worked at it, thought about it, and then made the role his own in a way that few great actors can.

Or perhaps not.  Maybe Colton Haynes really was afraid, angry, confused and deeply hurt when those scenes were filmed and he and the director used them to get a good performance.  But he's pretty and a television star and honestly I doubt his life has held enough fear, anger, confusion and emotional pain to draw on them so brilliantly, so I'm just going to have to chalk it up to being a very good actor and playing a character.

Here's where I have to complain for a moment.  Jackson was the focus of the second season of Teen Wolf.  It was around his character that a lot of the mystery and action takes place, and it leads up into a grand reveal and a hint at the following season and then . . .

Colton Haynes leaves Teen Wolf and moves over to the show Arrow.  Well, crap.  It was hard to watch Teen Wolf stumble over that, because it was clear that they'd written Jackson into way too much of the third season and they didn't want to change all of the plans that they'd laid out so carefully.  So they had to force some of the characters into awkward positions and do some things that were sloppy before (and I hope this is true) being able to settle back into the flow of things.

I have to say that at first I had a bit of nasty feelings toward Arrow for poaching one of my favorite things about Teen Wolf.  Arrow does have a lot going for it.  Stephen Amell, the male lead, is very attractive (albeit not as hot as Colton Haynes), and it has both John Barrowman and Summer Glau in it, both of whom I like.

But it's not as well written.  It has some issues with how tightly plotted it is, and there are also some serious characterization problems where characters vacillate on what should be core beliefs and principles.  It has some opacity on moral questions: is it wrong to kill someone as a vigilante or not?  The show hasn't decided, and so the characters don't know what to think about it either.

The other issue is that Colton Haynes is woefully underused in his role as Roy Harper.  Roy has an interesting story line, with his life as a poor mugger/thief conflicting with dating one of the richest women in the city and his obsession with following "the Hood" changing what his life means.  But he's on the second rung of supporting characters, being a supporting character's significant other in a show with a surprisingly large cast.  So he doesn't have enough screen time.

I will say though, Colton is a good enough actor to add some great detail to his limited screen time.  In one of the most recent episodes of Arrow that I watched he walked into his girlfriend's mansion with her so that she could interact with her mother (does it still count as passing the Betchdel test if one of the women's male partners is present but nearly silent as they talk about non-men related issues?) and he stares around, wide eyed, because the character has never been there before, and honestly the character has probably never been in such an expensive home in his life.

As I've said, Colton is a good actor, perhaps even a great actor.  And he's got the movie star looks to back up his actual skills (although I can't decide whether that will help him or hurt him in the future).  And we get to see the occasional snippet of him behind the scenes in the social media presence that actors are required to keep these days.  And I've pretty much fallen for what I see of him.  That doesn't mean that he wouldn't absolutely hate me if he ever met me, but I've crushes on plenty of guys that didn't return the feelings before.

Speaking of which, I will say that I wish he was gay. It doesn't matter to his attractiveness whether he is or not, but it's harder to have a crush on a guy when you know for a fact that they can't return those feelings.  Not impossible, just harder.

Anyway, in the meantime, I wish him a good life.  Happiness, privacy, and moments of fun and peace.  

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