Author Topic: EP393: Red Card  (Read 32071 times)

TheArchivist

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Reply #50 on: May 07, 2013, 10:26:25 AM
So, if that is the case, why does she need the cleaning products?
There's a repeated echo of the product's slogan - "When 'clean' isn't clean enough". In combination with the product's name - "Miracle Madness" - I think we're looking at something more than just a cleaning product for the house. This is a product aimed squarely at the far end of the OCD spectrum, the Howard Hughes and beyond, only without the money. It's playing to the insanity that has Linda crouching feral on the floor, contemplating sleeping there once it's been "more than clean"d. The need for "Miracle Madness" is purely psychological.



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Reply #51 on: May 07, 2013, 11:35:19 AM
But, I have a detail problem. If Linda has a second red card, why does she need the cleaning product? We are told that the government takes care of the clean up, and when Linda gets home she even remarks upon what a good job they did with the husband's mess. So, if that is the case, why does she need the cleaning products?  If anyone can help with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

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matweller

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Reply #52 on: May 07, 2013, 01:22:19 PM
I choose to think of the cleaning product simply as a foreshadowing mechanism or a symbol for the second red card or just of those totally kismet moments. Linda sees it at the same time she overhears Sara bragging about being the one Linda's husband was cheating with.

It was like Linda was leaving the police station relieved to be done with that mess, but knowing there was still a loose end out there to tie up that she may never even find, much less get to "clean." Then the commercial. Then Sara's confession. Then "Hey, Miracle Madness [the red card] is on the way!" I think it's significant here that Linda only vaguely knows what the commercial is about until the confession, then it comes quickly into focus. The solution to her problems has just revealed itself:

“I want to place an order,” said Linda.
“Which product?”
“Miracle Madness.”
“Oh, you are going to love it."

Then she gets home and weeps with relief because the end of the "madness" is close at hand. The "cleaning" is coming. Complete resolution.

I agree with Alasdare's well-spoken commentary about violence breeding violence and it never being a solution. But I also believe that there are situations where we realize the consequences are better than continuing a horrific status quo. If someone were attacking one of my family members, I would go to any lengths -- even lethal -- to stop them. I can't kill a fish without guilt. I would be saddened for the rest of my life about killing a person, even a deserving one. But if you asked me from my jail cell 20 tortured years later if I made the right decision, I'd still say 'yes.'

I think that's what Linda is faced with here, and that's why I think this story may be dark, but it is happy in it's way too. She wants to change into a ferret -- some animal that doesn't have to be conscious of the heavy decision being made. But she weeps knowing it's not that simple and sometimes a win still has losing consequences. Yes, I know she's not using the card in a life-saving measure (the first one is debatable, the second is not), but perhaps that's the 'Madness' half of 'Miracle Madness' kicking in.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 07:36:08 PM by matweller »



eytanz

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Reply #53 on: May 07, 2013, 06:13:50 PM
This was a masterfully told story. It really let us get to know Linda and her husband - and understand the society they live in and the function of the red cards - by experiencing them. Very little was stated outright or explained, but everything was very clear, except for the somewhat open ended ending - is Linda going to use the second red card? on herself? on Sara? Is she going to keep it so that she can keep on not using it?

I got a somewhat different take on the cleaning product. I thought the cleaning product was not as important as the advertisement was. Linda was clearly someone who let other people lead her through life - her husband, Sara, the Red Card handbook, the cosmetics magazines - and now most of these are gone away. The husband is dead, she just learnt that her friend isn't really her friend, and while she has another red card, she probably doesn't think she'll ever use it (though that might have changed by the end of the story). She's looking for someone to tell her what to do, and the advertisement comes on with instructions, so she follows them.



Fenrix

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Reply #54 on: May 07, 2013, 09:22:01 PM
I loved the concept. The threat of mortal enforcement at any moment should make the world a better place, and the analysis of how that system falls down.

However, the drab slice of life just didn't push my buttons. I wouldn't pull a Red Card on the story, but I wouldn't go out of my way to be nice. Live and let live should be just fine.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Peevester

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Reply #55 on: May 09, 2013, 03:05:00 AM
The purposely mundane tone grated on me a bit at first, but once I understand what the author was doing, I liked this a lot. Days later, I'm still not sure if it's a dystopia or not.

On the one hand, everyone has an incentive to live by the golden rule, which certainly isn't a bad thing. On the other hand, humans being humans, they're not going to. For every Larry who gets what he deserves for inflicting psychological torment on his wife (and cheating on her), there's going to be plenty more who do the same thing anyway, knowing the odds are in their favor that nobody involved has a card. On the gripping hand, with several cards circulating in just one small town, maybe there's a LOT of them?

I think there has to be a lot of them for the system to have any effect, probably enough that for any person, there's someone in your social connections that has one, so maybe one per hundred people or so? Any less and there's no safety valve effect from them, and much more than that, you have "The day everyone in Springfield killed each other" chain reactions.

I think there's a really interesting paper in this somewhere.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 03:18:27 AM by Peevester »



Fenrix

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Reply #56 on: May 09, 2013, 03:08:20 AM

I think there's a really interesting paper in this somewhere.


There's a follow-up survey they'd like you to participate in that they use to calibrate the number of red cards in circulation...

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


El Barto

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Reply #57 on: May 10, 2013, 06:25:11 PM
This reminds me of a great (and less violent) idea that a friend of mine once pitched:  Every licensed drivers gets the ability, ONCE A YEAR, to send one other driver back to his driveway. 



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Reply #58 on: May 10, 2013, 06:31:58 PM
This reminds me of a great (and less violent) idea that a friend of mine once pitched:  Every licensed drivers gets the ability, ONCE A YEAR, to send one other driver back to his driveway. 

I worked for TSA for many years, where management is your typical government bureaucracy B.S., and we used to fantasize about what we called "Beating Tokens" that we as employees could earn as rewards for hard work etc. that we could then turn in to be given the right to punch one lead or supervisor in the face when we just couldn't take it anymore. Of course, the question was then raised about whether we would be allowed to use them on the traveling public, which we realized would then cause us to use our tokens far more frequently and violently than we could feasibly justify,  :-\

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Reply #59 on: May 12, 2013, 10:30:54 PM
I didn't really enjoy this story; it had something of a literary feel to it which is not a compliment coming from me.  It is reminiscent of The Lottery which I never found that great despite it's status as a classic.  Not enough happened; it was a dreary story; and I was left wondering if she was going to use the gun on her neighbor or herself. In general I prefer a bit more clarity than this story provided.  But even with clarity, it was so slow and dreary my interest was never engaged and I didn't really enjoy listening.  The main character was so flat (beat down, PTSD from emotional or physical abuse??) and didn't change at all even after using her red card.  I think that was the point. but it wasn't fun for me to get there.

* The Red Card seems to come with a gun and bullets so without the red card she would presumably wouldn't have access to either.



roboknave

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Reply #60 on: May 14, 2013, 01:59:50 AM
Let me dig through my wallet and pull out my red card.  Sergeant, don't lock me up.  I've got it right here... 
Why did I do it?  Because I hate it when I can guess where a story like this one is going before it even gets 1/4 of the way through.  Especially when I really like the themes it was using.  It reminds me of how I figure the Old West must have been:  Offend someone and
you're liable to find a bullet in your back.  No law to answer too.

Even though the second red card wasn't a surprise, I was surprised that a lady who's not likely to have killed someone before had enough fortitude to do it twice without being "in the heat of the moment" as it were.



danthelawyer

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Reply #61 on: May 14, 2013, 07:05:49 AM
Wow. I guess I had this one totally wrong. I figured Sara and the narrator were lovers, that Sara was only joking in that blustery trying-too-hard way of hers about being the dead husband's lover, and that the narrator was about to use her second card on herself.

I will say this, though: with Trixie, this story, the Ken Liu story, and Robot, I feel like EP is very much back on track after a long spell in which I just didn't much enjoy listening.



childoftyranny

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Reply #62 on: May 21, 2013, 12:41:54 AM
This story definetly felt on the horror-side of things to me, it pushed the idea if everyone was armed then we would have less crime idea, and makes it more of a pressure release. People will we wary of those with red-cards and maybe if its alright to take out that ONE person when card holders get pushed they will snap in a more "acceptable" fashion.

Related but still sort of tangential, I've always thought pondering the "it stops with me" response to violence begits violence fascinating. Its so very human to desire revenge, but the way to break that cycle is to not respond to violence. A whole people actually follow this belief in The Wheel of Time!



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Reply #63 on: June 07, 2013, 02:53:45 PM
I liked the core idea of this, and that core premise has stayed with me since I listened, coming to mind whenever someone almost kills me on my commute or someone makes a particular jerk statement (just think if the cards came with some kind of capability to track the source of anonymous comments on the Internet).

But the story itself I found pretty lackluster.  It spent all of its time just explaining the premise, and the interesting stuff came before and after.  And I get that that may have been entirely the intent, that the dreary bureaucracy of dealing with the aftermath of a red card activation is indicative of the "business as usual" nature of this killing.

It seems that everyone in the forum says that the point of the red cards is to make people be nicer to each other.  Did the story actually say that?  I thought it was meant to be population control, based on on some government committee meeting:
Politician A:  The population growth needs to be balanced out.
Politican B:  Stop immigration!
Politician A:  No.  That won't work.  People make it into the country one way or the other, and we also need to balance out reproductive growth.
Politican B:  Reproductive licenses!
Politician A:  Do you want to reduce the country to anarchy?  You can't limit people's reproductions without a full-scale country-wide riot on your hands.
Politician B:  If we can't control new citizens moving in, and we can't control reproduction, we need to make sure more people die.  Let's start a war!
Politician A:  No, wars are too messy and unpredictable.
Politician B:  Systematic government killing!
Politician A:  No, no matter how impartial we tried to be, there'd be accusations of favoritism, governmental racism, sexism, religionism, and so on.  You're on the right track though.  We let random citizens decide to kill however and whoever they want to.  People won't hate us for it because they'll be looking for their lottery win.  They can't blame us for any patterns, because those patterns are inherent in the people themselves, not in their government.  It's a win-win!

I shudder to think how this would actually turn out, with religious/ideological extremist groups trying to systematically use their red card opportunities and to sway others to use theirs against their opponent of choice.



matweller

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Reply #64 on: June 07, 2013, 03:07:24 PM
Did anyone already mention that a horror movie with a similar premise just came out?
http://blumhouse.com/film/thepurge?c_url=thepurge



Alasdair5000

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Reply #65 on: June 07, 2013, 03:12:02 PM
It's good fun too. Plays like early John Carpenter for most of its run. Utterly wastes Lena Headey, aside from the third act but I had a good time watching it. Apparently a sequel's already en route which would make sense given the world's interesting, the thing clearly cost pennies (It's a single set movie) and there's plenty of scope to explore.



matweller

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Reply #66 on: June 07, 2013, 06:03:51 PM
I've had a thought brewing in my head for a long time about a similar story where one day a year (or every seven years, or twelve, or whatever) anybody can kill anybody without repercussions, with the twist that there would be sanctuaries people could run to if they thought they were particularly targeted. However, if one chose to enter a sanctuary they would in effect become members of a commune they could never leave. The idea being that, obviously they'd done something bad enough to offend enough people that they could continue only by atoning for their offenses for the rest of their lives.

I'd still like to write that one some day... Anyone want to collaborate? ;)



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #67 on: June 09, 2013, 04:22:15 PM
It's good fun too. Plays like early John Carpenter for most of its run. Utterly wastes Lena Headey, aside from the third act but I had a good time watching it. Apparently a sequel's already en route which would make sense given the world's interesting, the thing clearly cost pennies (It's a single set movie) and there's plenty of scope to explore.

Well, Alasdair, I'm glad you like it, because I can't get past the ad tagline "For the next 12 hours, all crime is legal"

Really? ALL crime. Because, hell, I might WANT to beat someone to death, but if ALL crime is legal, I'm gonna go the non-violent route, hack into a bank, or take advantage of some insider information, and be set for life. Hey, ALL crime is legal, right? You can't touch me! (White collar crime pays more often than not...)



Alasdair5000

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Reply #68 on: June 09, 2013, 04:42:54 PM
Oh you're absolutely right and that's one of the criticisms of the thing that's valid. It's also something I'm hopeful the sequel will explore because, as you say, if all crime is legal? I'm packing the drill and heading down to the local bank vault:)



matweller

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Reply #69 on: June 10, 2013, 12:54:09 PM
I dare say that in total lawlessness, murder is probably only middle-of-the-road in it's relative offensiveness.



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Reply #70 on: July 19, 2013, 02:43:12 AM
I've been listening since 2005 & this is the first time I've felt a need to comment on the forums. 

While a good thought experiment, I did take some issue with this story.  I find revenge to be a weak emotion to succumb to & therefore this world in which revenge for such triviality as traffic slights is applauded just disgusted me.  Moreover, the plot-point "he cheated on her & therefore deserved what he had coming" was tiring (Steve Eley clearly didn't buy this one).  Yes, he was emotionally abusive, but perhaps divorce should have been tried before capital punishment.  Now the mistress, who is guilty of even less, will also face the death penalty without trial, yuck.



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Reply #71 on: July 19, 2013, 03:36:00 AM
If you think the story is applauding its proposed system, I think you might need to read it a little more closely...



TheArchivist

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Reply #72 on: July 22, 2013, 09:12:34 AM
If you think the story is applauding its proposed system, I think you might need to read it a little more closely...
Sadly there are always people who behave as if they cannot get their minds round the concept that an author does not necessarily applaud every single theme s/he writes about. And they persist in behaving that way regardless of how many protest songs and satirical polemics one points them to. One can only hope this is not such a case.



Jamesthe500

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Reply #73 on: July 23, 2013, 10:09:35 PM
No, Scattercat, it's not that I thought the author was applauding the system (though some of the comments above would indicate that some listeners would applaud it)... I guess it just didn't sit well with me more so than most stories of dystopian worlds.



hardware

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Reply #74 on: November 26, 2013, 04:20:20 PM
This one was pretty good, I'm one who do not mind a little kitchen sink realism mixed in, and I think it worked very well here, the high concept taken apart by the grey everyday of suburban life.