Open threads at the Open Thread tab every Sunday and Wednesday

OT44: Open Primary

This is the bi-weekly open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:

1. Sorry about the decreased volume of blogging lately. I’ve been working night shift, plus I discovered Worm. The good news is that now you’ve discovered Worm too, so you have better things to do than read this blog.

2. Comments of the week are Joscha on TV and German fertility differences, Universal Set on Christian colleges and some clarification on grit.

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1,768 Responses to OT44: Open Primary

  1. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    SSC SF Story of the Week #10
    This week we are discussing “The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster.
    Next time we will discuss “A Militant Peace” by David Klecha and Tobias S. Buckell.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      How do you always get the first post on here?

    • Anonymous says:

      I really enjoyed The Machine Stops. Of course being from 1909 some aspects are a little outdated (early instance of literal “As you know”!), but the overall writing is quite strong (I was moved by the ending) and the issues touched on are still relevant today. There are little things like notification spam, but the big one is the metaphor of the machine itself. You can take this at least two ways – one seeing it as a prediction of the dangers of relying too much on telecommunications over the personal, and another as seeing it as about the dangers of a highly inter-dependent world vulnerable to disruption.

      (I’m not sure about the thing where the story was satirizing people obsessed with having (lame) Ideas. Maybe poking at some intellectual trend of the time?)

      —–

      In fact when I read this story last week I was impressed enough to also get the author’s classic novel *A Passage to India* on Kindle, which was also very good. It’s a dramedy about some minor misadventures during the British Raj, and the consequences of poor communication and lack of empathy. The writing was stronger and smoother than The Machine Stops, with better developed characters – presumably being published in 1923 vs 1909, the author was more experienced here. However, the focus on colonialism is perhaps less *directly* relevant to the modern day. There’s rich description, subtle humour, and the characters on both sides of the British-Indian conflict are (mostly) portrayed with a good balance of sympathetic and flawed traits. On the downside there’s some overly sweeping “English are like this, Indians are like that” at times, and the otherwise impressive descriptive writing occasionally shades into the purple. Forster also comes across as quite a rationalist here, even if some of his characters aren’t. I’d probably give it 4 stars out of 5.

    • Error says:

      Perhaps it’s the engineer in me, but when I first read The Machine Stops (last year, I think) my first impression was something like this: What sort of idiot builds a machine that runs the whole world, yet fails to provide redundancy for its most critical part?

      • Anonymous says:

        I didn’t get the impression that the problem was due to the reactor suddenly failing, but more a slow buildup of problems due to imperfect self-maintenance of the Machine – something that seems like it could also conceivably happen in the real world (and probably has with various empire collapses), though so far we’re a lot more vigilant about such things than the people in the story.

        • Error says:

          I was referring to the Mending Apparatus. The story always speaks of it in the singular, and its loss is what leads to the breakdown. If you’re making a system like that, you should build (at least) two, each capable of repairing the other.

          It’s implied that they didn’t, though I suppose not stated outright.

          • eh says:

            I assumed it was used in the same sense as I might say “the database went into read-only mode for five minutes last night”, even though “the database” is a cluster of triply-redundant shards spread across two continents and three data centres, with offline backups in case someone really fucks up.

            Maybe the Mending Apparatus failed many times in many different ways, and was recovered each time, first by the engineers who built the Machine, then by the automatic systems they set up to limit human error, and by successive failsafes if the core system failed… until eventually the machine suffered three simultaneous earthquakes at the location of each of its silicon fabs, or exhausted the earth’s readily available copper and ran through its reserves trying to extract more, or was sabotaged by someone on the other side of the planet.

          • Deiseach says:

            They talk of the Mending Apparatus (singular) but it’s plainly a world-wide system, as parts of it break down in different countries: “There came a day when over the whole world — in Sumatra, in Wessex, in the innumerable cities of Courland and Brazil — the beds, when summoned by their tired owners, failed to appear. It may seem a ludicrous matter, but from it we may date the collapse of humanity.”

            Indeed, because it’s a global problem, that makes it worse; “the inhabitants of Sumatra were asked to familiarize themselves with the workings of the central power station, the said power station being situated in France” That’s not so bad in an era of almost instantaneous travel, you may say, but when people have become so house-bound they feel nervy and uncomfortable leaving their own rooms, going halfway round the world is nearly psychologically impossible.

            It’s a combination of the fact that over time, the Machine has come to be a larger and larger part of human civilisation, that the maintenance of the workings of that civilisation depend on the Machine to do the water-purification and power generation and all the rest of it, that extreme specialisation has set in (so you have a Committee for the Mending Apparatus, etc. and everybody knows their own piece but nobody knows the whole) and that functionally the human oversight is useless, as everyone has come to depend on the Machine to fix itself, so they don’t bother learning how to do it. How many of us, for example, know how to run a municipal water purification plant if (God between us and all harm) the people working there dropped dead in the morning and it was left up to the rest of us to keep it going?

            No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole. Those master brains had perished. They had left full directions, it is true, and their successors had each of them mastered a portion of those directions. But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and
            progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.

      • Deiseach says:

        Part of the problem (actually, the major problem) was that maintenance was another one of those things turned over to the Machine – after all, the Machine was bigger, faster, smarter, more capable, etc. than humans.

        So as time went by, the Machine (and its constituent parts, the lesser quasi-autonomous regional centres) more and more controlled itself, with humans in a supervisory role, and then not involved at all. But since the original builders of the Machine presumably never envisaged humans being out of the picture, they probably never built in the necessary “Tell the Machine how to make new parts for itself” protocols.

        Actually, this makes more sense to me as the kind of AI existential risk we should be worried about, rather than some God-Emperor AI deciding to turn us all into paperclips; we build a smart AI, we gradually turn more and more of the routine running of things over to it, and when something goes “sproing” nobody – because of the specialisation and complexity involved and because we’re so used to the AI fixing itself as well as our own problems – can fix it, or remember how to fix it, and things gradually fall apart.

        • Maware says:

          People seem to have grandiose ideas about what AI can do. You guys talk about AI risk in the same way the people who wrote Mondo2000 thought the internet would be. Like it’s some kind of magic AI fairy. It would never happen that way, simply because things like factories and electrical power stations cost too much money to be allowed to let an AI run with no oversight. People build triple redundancies for things as trivial as websites-letting AI run unfettered over anything critical would seem absurd.

          • MF says:

            Security in general is awful on websites. Like, awful awful. I’ve worked as a web dev and was utterly shocked at at the obvious gigantic gaping security holes others had left behind.

            My experience is not uncommon; websites are hacked daily because people are just plain bad when it comes to security. Humans are forgetful, don’t always get a full night’s sleep, miss trivial things, and sometimes just have bad days. I wouldn’t trust anyone I know to design security precautions for preventing an AI from touching critical things.

            Which websites were you thinking of that have ‘triple redundancies’, and why do you think that the people running these websites are necessarily going to be the ones working with AI?

          • Murphy says:

            Security and redundancy are 2 different things.

            I once encountered a company who had a critical bit of complex buisness logic in a microsoft office macro.

            It had become so central to the buisness that they were unwilling to risk problems from moving to something more sane.

            So they have about a dozen VM’s running headless office instances running the macro. Whenever the macro locked up the VM would reboot.

            Lots of redundancy but awful, unholy design.

            Systems so critical that they have 3 backups but also so critical that people are afraid to try to patch them are common. I’ve seen plenty of code with security holes you could drive a truck through which nobody is willing to fix because of the risk of it breaking.

    • Loquat says:

      I was puzzled by Kuno’s apparent decision to stay underground and die with everyone else. He knew the machine was failng, he knew it was possible to get out either on his own or by official expulsion, and he claims at the end to have had substantial contact with the humans already living on the surface full-time. Why didn’t he just move out permanently when it became clear the end was coming sooner rather than later?

      • John Schilling says:

        I assumed that he could not, or feared he could not, breathe the air of the surface. There is ample circumstantial evidence that most subjects of the Machine cannot – the bones around the vomitorium, Kuno’s own experience in Wessex, the lack of Homeless pounding at the gates and/or beseeching respirator-clad surface researchers for return passage. Quite possibly the surface dwellers are as adapted to their otherwise-hostile environment as are e.g. the natives of the Peruvian or Tibetan highlands.

        We know that Kuno illicitly spent time with the surface dwellers, but we don’t know the circumstances – whether he used a respirator or not and if so how consistently, how debilitated he was at the outset and whether he was able to adapt. He knows more than we do, and he chose to stay with his mother.

      • Deiseach says:

        I think because Kuno felt himself to be, substantially, one of the Machine Men and not capable of adjusting to a new life on the outside; also that he feared he would bring with him the attitudes and behaviours of someone who had been born and raised in the Machine civilisation and so contaminate the new society with the seeds of wanting to go down the same path that ends in building a Machine.

        That his civilisation’s time was over, and as a man of that civilisation, he should die with it.

    • I’m amazed that Forster could make an obvious prediction– people would use advanced tech for chitchat– and have it ignored until it turned out to be true. So far as I know, no one else got that right in pre-internet sf.

      Forster was also right that people would sacrifice quality for convenience.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        I don’t have a precise citation, but Andrew Odlyzko has written about repeating patterns in communications infrastructure and how people shouldn’t have been surprised this time; and one of his examples is that usage is dominated by chit-chat.

      • Deiseach says:

        He was also right on the button about the way our ability to deal with inconvenience and delay would decrease as we got used to fast communication and provision of our wishes; Vashti arranging to spare a whole five minutes to talk to her son, and it took an entire fifteen seconds for him to reply to her call while she was sitting there waiting 🙂

      • Murphy says:

        On the note of predictions I remember reading The Final Encyclopedia (1984), a story with a gigantic electronic encyclopedia and realized that the description of browsing it perfectly matched wiki-trawling right down to opening up hundreds of tabs of linked articles.

        Of course they assumed that this gigantic encyclopedia would reside in a gigantic space station in earth orbit rather than a bunch of data centres.

    • jeorgun says:

      I read the entire damn story assuming that it was written in the past couple decades, and the only real hint that it’s over a century old was the language (which I just assumed was intentionally overwrought). So major props for prescience— the actual story/concepts hold up astonishingly well.

      In a way it feels like Brave New World with a deus ex machina’d happy (!) ending; where a key part of the horror in BNW is that their society is basically indestructible, the one depicted in TMS collapses basically for reasons of Plot.

      • Foo Quuxman says:

        You should look at Brigands of the Moon by Ray Cummings. I got about half way through it before I realized that it was pre-radio.

    • meh meh meh says:

      It was a very “Romanticist” story. Technology is Bad! Nature is Good!
      I get really sad and angry when people are dissing Age of Enlightenment like that. Come on, author, The Nature is as cold and uncaring as The Machine, it’ll give you cancer and tapeworms! And Technology can, if used properly, give you cure for cancer, it can remove tapeworms and it can help you understand Nature, giving you better appreciation of it!

      Also, what I don’t understand is depicted attitudes of escapism, anti-curiosity and disdain for everything outside.
      Was it critique of some contemporary attitudes? I thought this kind of solipsistic philosophy was abandoned back in ancient Greece.
      Our modern world certainly doesn’t look unfavorably on people who study reality or tinker with machines.

      • Nicholas says:

        That depends on where in our world you are. More than a few people think of working with any physical substrate as Low Work for Our Servants.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      This story speaks deeply to me, and to my difficulties with internet addiction. Pic related.

  2. Screwtape says:

    How have you not discovered Worm before now?

    Also, what are the odds we’ll see one of your book reviews of it in the event you finish?

    • ZachPruckowski says:

      Isn’t Worm 2 starting sometime this year? It’s exactly the right time to start reading Worm 🙂

      I’ve read Worm 2-3 times but now have an urge to start reading Worm again. For anyone on the fence about starting a million-plus-word super-web-novel, don’t be turned off by the first few chapters being slow and short – it gets a LOT faster.

      • Jake says:

        Worm 2 is currently planned to start before the end of the year based on expected finish time of current serial by the author. Could be somewhat earlier (summer/fall) or later (winter).

        Wildbow’s second work (urban fantasy) is at pactwebserial.wordpress.com and his current work (biopunk) is at twigserial.wordpress.com

        • Shieldfoss says:

          Just… be advised that Pact is depressing as fuck, like, far beyond Worm which was by itself pretty black.

          • timorl says:

            This is probably a good warning for most people, but for me Pact was kind of uplifting. Mostly because of the very strong “humanity prevails” message, though YMMV.

          • Muga Sofer says:

            I find this varies a lot for people. I didn’t find it that depressing, exactly, but some of it (especially the beginning) felt like Wildbow hadn’t quite reset his escalation-o-meter from the final arc of Worm.

          • Vaniver says:

            Yeah, be advised that all of Wildbow is bleak cliffhanger after bleak cliffhanger. I don’t think I would describe Pact as more depressing than Worm. (I got fed up enough with Worm to stop reading it when something particularly bad happened, and then came back to it a week later. Perhaps the same didn’t happen with Pact because I was reading it as it was written?)

          • Helldalgo says:

            Wait, Worm almost destroyed me emotionally.

            Dunno if I can handle this.

          • Error says:

            I actually read Pact first. I haven’t read Worm yet, although I know it exists — mostly because, while I loved Pact and recommend it to anyone who likes their fiction dark, it was exhausting.

          • Nornagest says:

            I was fine with the darkness, but I didn’t find Pact’s ending very satisfying — or Worm’s either, for that matter, although that wasn’t as bad. After half a million words of escalating tension, I want more denouement than a single half-length chapter from a new character, even if all the dangling plot threads have technically been resolved.

            Of course, I have the same complaint about Neal Stephenson, and I’ve bought pretty much all his books.

          • FeepingCreature says:

            Amusingly, Pact is so bleak that a dark, horrifying revelation about a character’s past actually gets invalidated by a later dark, horrifying revelation about the same character’s past! It borders on parody at times.

      • rob says:

        I’m impressed. I mean, it’s been two or three years since it came out, and it only took me about two weeks to binge through it, but I don’t think I could have the stamina to read in two or three times.

        • ZachPruckowski says:

          I mean it’s not like a re-read it more than once every few months, and I just read a chapter or two when I’m on the bus. Once you’re read it once the “OMG what happens next can’t put it down” factor diminishes.

        • rilianus says:

          If you read by parts, then sure you can do it more times than that. What is really good about Worm is that it’s always with you, since the whole thing is published on the web.
          So sometimes while I’m waiting somewhere I’ll just head over to parahumans.wordpress.com, open 3-5 tabs with the most interesting/the parts of the story I didn’t get quite well and read it.
          For example it took me 3-4 reads to get the last canon chapter in the full picture, since there were no cape names mentioned and you had to decode yourself what was happening and what each character is doing.

          And it really helps that there is years of thinking behind that work – so you can get as deep as in ASOIAF and still work out nice insights out of the work.

    • The_Dancing_Judge says:

      I just read the first chapter and im getting a pretty heavy young adult fiction vibe…which is a turn off. Is it actually good?

      • gbear605 says:

        YES YES YES YES YES!

        Okay, that over with, it has a 4.70 rating on goodreads with 1488 ratings and 220 reviews. I’m not very eloquent, so here are some quotes from the reviews:

        “This book was 1.7 million words long, it took me 13 days to read, during which time I pretty much didn’t put my laptop down.”

        “Finally. I can finally sleep.”

        “Worm is addictive superhero SF posing as fantasy; it is long, of consistently high quality, and features a huge amount of imaginative powers with equally imaginative applications & combos”

        “It really is probably the main reason that I didn’t get quite as many books read last year as I would have liked”

        “You know how when your watching a great action adventure movie, you kinda want to get up during or right after the fight scenes and do some karate moves? That’s Worm, but for books.”

        “Well that happened. I finished reading Worm for the third time in three months.”

        “I’d like to think that someday in the future, Worm will be considered a classic of fiction.”

        “Oh my! Worm is not your basic empowerment fantasy superhero story. It’s also not an ignorant grimdark world of pain. It is thoughtful and aware. It is fell and wonderous. It worms its way from crisis to crisis to crisis of a different kind.”

        “What is it? One of the best sci fi series I’ve ever read, and believe me, I’ve read a lot.”

        “I never need to read a comic again, as Worm is the ultimate of superhero fiction. Seriously drop everything and read this.”

        (Also Scott is reading it, it has to be good)

      • Frog Do says:

        It is very YA fiction, fwiw. I enjoyed reading it the first time but probably couldn’t read it again without really being in the mood to read it.

        • The_Dancing_Judge says:

          If the tone is YAish and the appeal is “superhero SF posing as fantasy” i probably will skip. I have to say, i did enjoy HPMOR for the insight/problem solving porn, so if its in that vein…

          OTOH, i’m not a fan of scott’s fiction thing right now but was a huge fan of nostalgebraist’s northern caves. so what do i know. i guess i rate scott’s opinions on non-fiction writing much higher than his tastes in fiction, which is a bit too low brow for me at times.

          • Frog Do says:

            There is a fair amount of problem solving porn, but there’s also a lot of fat that could have been trimmed. For reference, I enjoyed Northern Caves (except for the end, but did enjoy the last chapter), did not enjoy Floorlight (never finished), and only enjoyed HPMOR in parts (and never finished it).

          • ZachPruckowski says:

            It gets a lot less YA after the first few arcs. If you’re thinking you’re in for 200 chapters of Taylor in High School getting bullied or something, don’t worry. The high school stuff is such a minor part of the story. The main PoV comes from a teenage girl, but it’s not like she’s worried about who will go to prom with her or anything.

            The thing that’s really distinct about Worm is that capes use their powers how an intelligent person would use their powers and they act intelligently.

          • timorl says:

            What ZachPruckowski said — I was very put off by the bullying arc at the beginning, but it ends quite quickly and I am glad that I kept reading.

          • pf says:

            An HPMOR author’s note has this recommendation:

            The characters in Worm use their powers so intelligently I didn’t even notice until something like the 10th volume that the alleged geniuses were behaving like actual geniuses and that the flying bricks who would be the primary protagonists and villains of lesser tales were properly playing second fiddle to characters with cognitive, informational, or probability-based powers.

            …and on that basis I read it (and I agree).

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s not much like HPMOR. Aside from both being first novels, Wildbow shares with Eliezer a willingness to explore implications and a delight in stretching abilities as far as they’ll go, so they both have a certain munchkin theme going on. That’s something. But Worm is not, basically, rationalist fiction; it’s just fiction that a lot of people in this scene happen to like.

            I agree with Zach that the first three or so arcs are much more YA in tone than the rest of the story.

        • 27chaos says:

          It’s too dark to be YA fiction.

          • Anaxagoras says:

            I dunno about that. Shade’s Children is incredibly dark, if I’m remembering it correctly, as is House of Stairs. Both of those are pretty well regarded YA works, and Shade’s Children does have a happy ending, but they’re both pretty bleak.

          • Nombringer says:

            One word.

            Animorphs.

      • Acedia says:

        im getting a pretty heavy young adult fiction vibe

        Thank you for posting this warning so I know not to waste my time. I’m still salty about people convincing me to check out The Fault in Our Stars.

      • Said Achmiz says:

        Worm is overhyped. And desperately in need of a good editor.

        • Anonymous says:

          This.

        • Ziq says:

          I fully agree – to me it very much feels like an unedited first draft. This seems too common with those long form blog-style serial publications which are published as the author completes subsections. It’s certainly possible to clean up small problems but much harder to do a comprehensive revision.

          It’s nothing new — the same was true of many pulp serials, some of which were written barely ahead of each deadline. And hard to revise as an author who just wants to be done and move on to the next thing (one of many good reasons that work is edited by others in conventional publishing models).

          But makes for poorer overall experience when read as a whole IMO.

          • Vaniver says:

            I fully agree – to me it very much feels like an unedited first draft.

            It basically is an unedited first draft.

            But, good news! It’s getting edited.

          • Said Achmiz says:

            To expand a bit…

            Worm needs editing on the micro-scale, yes. Word choice, sentence structure, all that sort of thing. But it also needs a lot of editing on the macro-scale. It needs someone to take a red pen to entire chapters. It needs someone to say, “These five thousand words? Reduce them to five hundred.”

            Compare another web serial (and one I quite liked): The Salvation War. On the micro-scale, The Salvation War is even more in need of editing, sometimes way more! (Though never anywhere near the point of being unreadable or laughably bad or any such thing.) But on the macro-scale? It’s much more tightly plotted and written. Things happen constantly, the plot moves along briskly, and the whole thing feels like an exciting, fast-paced ride.

            Worm? Not so much.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            TV Tropes gives me the impression that The Salvation War is John Ringo meets Left Behind.

            Well, sign me up I guess. Let’s do this.

          • Nornagest says:

            For what it’s worth, I got through Worm (and Pact, but I got bored with Twig after the first few chapters), but didn’t make it through The Salvation War. The latter’s pacing is somewhat better, but that doesn’t make up for its basic weaknesses in plot, character, and worldbuilding.

            (Actually, I don’t think I can remember any of its characters by name, except for the historical figures.)

          • meyerkev248 says:

            It is an unedited first draft.

            Worse yet, it’s an unedited first draft that he wrote in serial form on a harsh deadline. He was popping out 15-20K words a week, or a slightly below-average novel every month.

            Need to retcon something you wrote 2 chapters ago? NOPE!
            Family visiting? Welp, sucks to be them I guess.
            Can’t think of how to resolve this plot arc? SURPRISE TIMESKIP! (Actual thing BTW).

            It’s good, but yeah no, it needs an editor.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Chevalier Mal Fet,

            Salvation War has an interesting premise and I like the style but leans too heavily on the power fantasy to the detriment of the story. I stopped reading it when it became obvious how unbelievably stupid the antagonists were. The ‘Triumph of Humanity’ vibe he was going for needs credible villains or else it just seems masturbatory.

      • James Picone says:

        Yes.

        I don’t understand the YA complaint myself. FWIW the school stuff is not exactly relevant for most of the story.

      • rilianus says:

        I don’t actually consider Worm that good up to Arc 8, where things get you by the balls and where I consider the Worm to really start – before that you’ve got like a long series of preparations towards the real deal.
        And the further you get the subjectively deeper and better it gets, altough at times it can feel like too much is happening, so it helps to spread out the reading a bit if you’re into it.
        Myself I’ve devoured it in iterations of reading with consecutively more depth – skipping a lot on my first read-through and then coming back if I was interested in the backstory.

        I’d really advise people to get through the first few arcs as soon as possible, maybe even skipping it if you can handle googling around to see what’s been going on and go to the first real deal in Arc 8 – that gives you a taste of what the Worm really is about, introduces you to almost all the most important players, which you get to learn more about in further chapters.

        Basically make it your own adventure, because it’s really, really worth it – I consider it the best sci-fi since ‘Blindsight’ (although I may be limited in my exposure to recent works)

        • alexp says:

          Was Arc 8 “Extermination? because that actually made me stop reading after a while. It felt like it escalated the stakes so dramatically that the last seven arcs were completely pointless.

          • rilianus says:

            Yes, it was extermination and for me the escalated stakes was what made me really like the work – it hurt to read it, but I consider it a good kind of hurt and from that point on I was definitely hooked.

          • Alex C says:

            Yeah, my least favourite bits of Worm were the Endbringer battles. I love the clever exploration of things to do within the constraints of this power; I’m not so keen on the apocalyptic side, though I will grant that a protagonist as powerful as Taylor does need a seriously strong antagonist.

      • Thomas Jørgensen says:

        It depends how you feel about grim-dark. Because there is one heck of a lot of it. Then there is more. And more. And.. You see the trend. Enough that I quit reading it.

        Also, essentially all the characters have very low sanity scores. I’m told that there are reasons for that, on top of just generally being traumatized, but I never made it that far.

    • moridinamael says:

      Worm is so fucking good

    • Zubon says:

      I also just started Worm, read the first 13 arcs over the weekend.

      Asymmetric is our local Worm aficionado in Ann Arbor. Good discussion topic once we’ve finished and can’t spoil each other anymore.

    • Nathan says:

      I hated Worm (read it all because I lost a bet). I can’t understand why people like it.

      As a small example of the sort of thing that bugs me about it ***SPOILERS*** there’s the part where the hero gets outed as a, er, hero. The villains look to the member of their group with some kind of mind reading power, who confirms it.

      The hero gets put on the outer by the villains for a while but then they talk some and it’s ok and they’re all back together again.

      So… Why the hell bother? Why not just have the mind reading one lie instead, since she’s apparently fine with it? It would be a more interesting and surprising reaction, it wouldn’t change the story overall, and most importantly it would save acres of time.

      And there are moments like this all through the story. A big secret gets teased, built up, and finally revealed… And then people faff around a bit and nothing actually changes.

      It’s a massive make-it-up-as-you-go-along story that never has any idea what it’s own point is. And waaaaay too much superpower technobabble.

      • suntzuanime says:

        That would change the character dynamics immensely? She would have kept having this secret and guilt hanging over her head forever coloring her interactions with the group. I feel like if you think nothing changed in how she related to the other members as a result of her getting outed you weren’t reading the story very closely. (Which I can understand, if you were forced to read it because of a bet, but…)

        • Nathan says:

          It was a while ago admittedly and I may easily have forgotten things. But I stand by my statement. What would have materially changed?

          And I don’t buy that the secret shame of being an undercover superhero would have severely warped the character development of someone who ends up as a literal baby killer.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I mean, I’m not gonna sit here and write you a Worm fanfic. If you don’t think that hiding a major betrayal from your friends and lying about it openly is the sort of thing that affects your relationship with them, then people can take your recommendation for what it’s worth.

          • drethelin says:

            Characterizing her as a baby killer is insane. This just sounds like you read the story with an eye to hating it the whole the time and completely misinterpreted events to fit in with your hatred of it.

          • James Picone says:

            Yeah, Taylor’s no baby-killer! It was a toddler, TYVM. 😛

            EDIT: Also if no reveal then Bitch doesn’t get Skitter stuck in the PRT building when they’re running from Dragon, which impacted future Dragon/Skitter incidents. And I think if you’re describing Tattletale as having ‘some kind of mind-reading power’ you weren’t paying attention at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        I hated Worm (read it all because I lost a bet). I can’t understand why people like it.

        I thought it was OK. Some things were somewhat annoying (such as the 40k-level grimdark, but pretentious about it), but overall it was eminently readable, and often enjoyable.

        One thing I’ve noticed about it is how wildbow utterly fails at emulating Red Tribe shibboleths. His potrayal of the series’ right-wingers, both the good ones (like the Japanese Christians) and the bad ones (like the Neo-Nazis), makes me think of aliens in skin suits.

        • Leit says:

          Huh. Thanks for the warning. Find this sort of caricaturing basically irredeemable.

          • Frog Do says:

            As a Red Triber, it didn’t bother me, it went well with the pulpy comic book vibe.

          • eh says:

            It won points from me for bothering to give the Neo-Nazi villains names, personalities, and backstories, and even making some of them appear sympathetic and misguided (i.e. Kayden).

            Very, very few authors are going to have characters deliver convincing arguments for ethnonationalism, discuss blood and soil and lebensraum, buy tickets to the NPI conference, list all the Jewish people in Hollywood with a bunch of arrows connecting them, or do anything other than scrawl shitty graffiti everywhere and beat up minorities. Given that the ones who would are mostly actual Nazis trying to write propaganda, I think that’s a very high bar to set in terms of realism.

          • Anonymous says:

            @eh

            >I think that’s a very high bar to set in terms of realism.

            Regarding the Neo-Nazis, I didn’t really expect much, for the reasons you mention.

            Regarding the other example I gave, I went all arefuckingkiddingme.jpg – that’s when I actually noticed the failure, and could identify the bad emulations elsewhere. The Japanese Christians don’t act as any Christians I know, even if their behaviour is technically in conformity with the Christian strictures; again, skin suits. Compare the Dresden Files series, where Butcher does actually conjure several believable Christian characters – these act and talk in ways I can believe an IRL Christian would.

          • Bryan-san says:

            I’ve read about half of Worm, though I don’t think I’ve gotten into sections with Japanese Christians. There are a number of real-world strange Asian christian groups who have customs and practices that differ very substantially from American and European Christian groups.

            Does anyone with knowledge of both Worm and these groups see similarities between the two that justify the writing more than it’s being given credence for here?

          • alexp says:

            Jim Butcher is very sympathetic to Christianity, to point that it bothered me because the Christian mythology was overpowering everything else* in the Dresden Files.

            My impression from knowing some very nice, amazing Christians and complete asshole Christians and everything in between is that the devout Christians in the Dresden files are more an Ideal than a realistic depiction.

            *The Kusanagi no Tsurugi is a Christian artifact now?

          • John Schilling says:

            The Kusanagi no Tsurugi is a Christian artifact now?

            The extent to which the grace of God is available to Virtuous Pagans has often been a subject of debate within Christianity, thought I’m not sure this is quite what they had in mind 🙂

            But it is I think clear by now that the underlying mythology of the Dresden tales is that the entity worshiped by Christians is in fact the One True God, Maker of Heaven and Earth and All Things Seen and Unseen, etc., and that He just made a whole lot more unseen stuff than we give normally him credit for – like wizards, faeries, and magic swords. And, like most Christian mythologies, Dresden’s One True God has been conspicuously non-interventionist the past couple thousand years, possibly pending some future apocalypse.

            If that’s farther than you can suspend disbelief, you’re probably not alone. Otherwise, they’re still good stories.

        • shemtealeaf says:

          I’ve read Worm and I don’t actually recall the Japanese Christians. Remind me which characters you’re talking about there?

          • Daniel Keys says:

            At first I thought I’d missed someone in Japan. But no, it must mean the couple in Chrysalis chapter 1 – the people who seem annoying until you think about it, and then seem fairly insightful.

            It amuses me that nobody’s mentioned the actual way in which Wildbow’s atheism makes itself known – the fact that religion has almost no role in the story, and theocracy makes no appearance at all that I can remember. This is wildly unrealistic for the setting. But Taylor’s world is already so messed up that I really don’t want to see theocracy on top of that.

          • moridinamael says:

            @Daniel Keys

            I imagine mainstream religions taking a big hit as soon as Scion first appeared, and an even bigger kick in the teeth when the Endbringers showed up.

          • ShemTealeaf says:

            @Daniel Keys

            Interesting; I remembered that conversation, but I had forgotten that they were Christian.

          • James Picone says:

            There’s also Haven, the American Christian vigilante group hunting down the Teeth. They pop up very briefly, we don’t really interact with them.

            EDIT: Not the Teeth, sorry, the other guys who worship Endbringers.

      • Zach Pruckowski says:

        ***WORM SPOILERS FOLLOW***

        “So… Why the hell bother? Why not just have the mind reading one lie instead, since she’s apparently fine with it?”

        It’s not immediately obvious that Tattletale could have bluffed or lied her way out of the situation on Taylor’s behalf, especially since (a) the heroes all had guns pointed at them, (b) succeeding in that lie would get Taylor in more trouble with the heroes, and (c) it’s not like she could trick Coil, who told her about Taylor being a hero in the first place.

        Not to mention that even if she gets away with that lie and gets Taylor out anyhow through her Armsmaster blackmail, Taylor wouldn’t rejoin the Undersiders unless they agreed to help with Dinah, and how does that conversation work if Taylor’s not a ex-hero?

        Like maybe Tattletale could pull it off, but it’s a lot riskier of a lie and doesn’t get her what she wants.

      • Daniel Keys says:

        it would save acres of time.

        This is blatantly untrue. It would have reduced uncertainty and tension, ie made the story worse.

        The author also uses the aftermath as an introduction to an important function of the story. I’ve seen someone on another website opine that a future with space wars would be more exciting than one designed to satisfy human values; if I don’t have the power to drop such people into a literal war zone, I want them to read Worm through Arc 9.

        A big secret gets teased, built up, and finally revealed… And then people faff around a bit and nothing actually changes.

        You cheated and stopped reading less than halfway through, didn’t you?

        • Nathan says:

          I read all of it. Though I dunno how it counts as “cheating” if a story fails to hold my interest.

    • anon85 says:

      Worm is okay. There are parts that are really good, and other parts that are annoying or don’t make sense. Some issues I had with it:

      * There are a lot of deus ex machinas on behalf of bad guys like the S9 (less so on behalf of the heroes).
      * The ending was mostly terrible.
      * The setting has a lot of problems. E.g. why would anyone fight the endbringers given that it hardly even seems to slow them down until Scion comes? Shouldn’t the focus be on evacuation instead, if possible? How come so many globally-relevant powers are concentrated in one city (tattletale, Dinah, clockblocker)?
      * There are a lot of editing issues and over-used word. “Anyways” is always used instead of “anyway”.

      • Anonymous says:

        >* There are a lot of deus ex machinas on behalf of bad guys like the S9 (less so on behalf of the heroes).

        Yeah, that annoyed me too.

        >* The ending was mostly terrible.

        I was highly amused at the 18(?) year old protagonist declaring her life is now over.

        >* The setting has a lot of problems. E.g. why would anyone fight the endbringers given that it hardly even seems to slow them down until Scion comes? Shouldn’t the focus be on evacuation instead, if possible?

        Because the supers in that verse are combatively inclined from the influence of their power source. Some hate it, but still are drawn to battle.

        >How come so many globally-relevant powers are concentrated in one city (tattletale, Dinah, clockblocker)?

        Plot.

        >* There are a lot of editing issues and over-used word. “Anyways” is always used instead of “anyway”.

        Probably because there’s no editor.

        • James Picone says:

          Of course there’s no editor, he was literally writing two chapters a week and publishing them on the fly. IIRC Wildbow is doing an editing pass while working on other stuff.

      • James Picone says:

        * There are a lot of deus ex machinas on behalf of bad guys like the S9 (less so on behalf of the heroes).

        Agreed that there’s some diabolus ex machina, but keep in mind Jack’s Thinker power.

        * The setting has a lot of problems. E.g. why would anyone fight the endbringers given that it hardly even seems to slow them down until Scion comes? Shouldn’t the focus be on evacuation instead, if possible? How come so many globally-relevant powers are concentrated in one city (tattletale, Dinah, clockblocker)?

        If you don’t fight the Endbringer, you get Kyushu or Newfoundland or New Delhi or Lausanne every time, not just on a bad day. Also it’s entirely possible that if you don’t fight the Endbringer it doesn’t go away.

        I’m not sure the concentration in Brockton Bay is that significant. Clockblocker isn’t a big deal, there are several other Thinkers outside Brockton Bay on Tattletale’s level (the Number Man and Contessa, for example), people like Alexandria, Eidolon, Legend, Dragon, the Sleeper, Ash Beast, Nilbog, the Blasphemies, Glastig Uaine, Number Man, Contessa, etc. are all outside BB, and we don’t really even know the relevant capes outside the US (A fair few of the Thanda seem like a big deal, for example, but we don’t know much about them).

        • Subbak says:

          Also, some Endbringers have been turned away without Scion. That is what happened before Scion started fighting them. Especially if Eidolon is having a good day and Legend, Alexandria, and some other heavy-hitters are here to help.

          • anon85 says:

            They never explain why, though. We’ve seen with Behemoth that endbringers can’t really be hurt except by Scion. Behemoth was described as “no less powerful” or something after the giant blast. I don’t understand how endbringers can ever be turned away without Scion. Why bother trying?

          • Paul Goodman says:

            @anon85: Have you read to the end? Do you know what the Endbringers’ purpose is? Gur Raqoevatref nera’g npghnyyl gelvat gb jva, gurl’er whfg gelvat gb cebivqr n guerng gung gur urebrf pna’g orng ohg pna svtug bss grzcbenevyl vs gurl gel uneq rabhtu naq trg yhpxl.

          • anon85 says:

            @Paul Yeah, but that was the lamest purpose ever. And it STILL doesn’t explain why Behemoth didn’t stop after that giant blast. I don’t think we’ve ever seen an Endbringer turn back without Scion’s help – we’ve only heard of that happening.

          • Daniel Keys says:

            Gur Fvzhetu gbyq uvz abg gb.

            Lbh’er gnyxvat nobhg fbzrguvat gung unccrarq nsgre Yrivnguna xvyyrq Qnhagyrff (gur thl jubfr pbzong cbgragvny xrcg evfvat), ure ntrag Rpuvqan xvyyrq Zleqqva qverpgyl, naq gur cerqvpgnoyr snyybhg sebz gung onggyr qebir Nyrknaqevn gb pbzzvg fhvpvqr. (Bar bs gur znwbe gurzrf V frr vf gung nalguvat erzbgryl uhzna pna or ohyyvrq gb qrngu.) Gura F’f bgure ntrag Pbql xvyyrq Nppbeq naq arneyl xvyyrq Purinyvre naq Gnggyrgnyr. Jura gur ynggre’f cbjre vagresrerq, Ovt Oeb arneyl svavfurq gur wbo – ohg gura gur jubyr cyna punatrq.

        • moridinamael says:

          > Agreed that there’s some diabolus ex machina, but keep in mind Jack’s Thinker power.

          A great thing about Worm is that I have literally never seen someone post a “plot hole” or “story problem” that couldn’t be answered with a line like this. Wildbow seems to have thought of everything.

          > I’m not sure the concentration in Brockton Bay is that significant.

          Yeah, there are powerful capes in every city, we just don’t hear much about them because it’s not where the story is sitting. I’m actually surprised at the grandparent’s claim. My impression was the Brockton Bay was sort of “the crappy city” and didn’t have a lot of strong defenders, and that was partially why it got hammered so hard by the S9 etc.

        • anon85 says:

          Jack’s thinker power is an afterthought added to close a plot hole. In an earlier chapter, Jack says explicitly that his manipulation skills “are entirely learned, I assure you,” or something to that effect.

          Isn’t clockblocker literally the only counter to the Siberian?

          As for endbringers: from what we’ve seen, all the heroes’ actions do nothing, pretty much. We’re told that the actions help because otherwise there will be disaster… but in actuality, I don’t understand what the fighting does at all (e.g. Behemoth never seemed to slow down regardless of any attacks).

          • Paul Goodman says:

            >Jack says explicitly that his manipulation skills “are entirely learned, I assure you,” or something to that effect.

            Even if he says it, there’s a good chance he himself is mistaken or just straight up lying.

          • Daniel Keys says:

            Taking the paragraphs in order: no it isn’t, no he isn’t, and you really do sound like you didn’t read to the end. Not just because of the Endbringers, you also sound like you don’t know why Jack was important to the plot (or you forgot how early this is predicted).

          • anon85 says:

            @Daniel, I’ve read everything. To respond to your points in order, yes it is, yes he is, nanana. Do you have some actual arguments to give?

            @Paul, I mean, there’s always that chance for all facts we are provided. No one seemed to find it suspicious at the time, and no one pointed out the lie afterwards. And recall also that bonesaw was also doing a fair bit of manipulation herself, saying Jack taught her. Except if Jack’s manipulation comes from a superpower, that becomes less plausible. It supports my argument that Jack’s manipulation was originally meant to be a learned one.

          • James Picone says:

            Dropping to rot13:
            > Jack

            Wnpx qbrfa’g xabj nobhg uvf guvaxre cbjre.

            Vg’f nggrfgrq gb va-fgbel, nsgre gur Avar fubj hc va Oebpxgba Onl, ohg jryy orsber gur frpbaq gvzr Wnpx vf n eryrinag punenpgre. Pna’g tvir lbh n ersrerapr bss gur gbc bs zl urnq, ohg fbzrbar qrsvavgryl zhfrf nobhg jurgure Wnpx’f cnffratre vf juvfcrevat uvagf gb uvz. Fpvba pbasvezf vg jura ur unf n pung jvgu Wnpx. Gurer’f fbzr bgure pyhrf; Gurb pbzzragvat gung Wnpx svtugf yvxr Gnlybe (orpnhfr ur unf rkcnaqrq fvghngvbany njnerarff sebz nyy gur bgure pncrf), V inthryl erpnyy fbzrguvat nobhg gur jnl ur svtugf jura gur Avar vf va gur Onl orvat n uvag gbb.

            V’z jvyyvat gb oryvrir Jvyqobj cynaarq vg hc sebag. Wnpx qbrfa’g rknpgyl unir na vagvzvqngvat cbjre; cerfhznoyl Jvyqobj unq n tbbq ernfba sbe uvz gb or ehaavat gur Avar.

            > Clockblocker vs Siberian

            Jebat ba gjb pbhagf. Pybpxoybpxre qbrfa’g ernyyl pbhagre Fvorevna, naq gurer ner bgure, orggre pbhagref (PO vfa’g rira cerfrag jura gur Fvorevna qvrf).

            Fb, svefg bss: vs PO gevrf gb serrmr gur Fvorevna, vg jba’g jbex. Fur’f n cebwrpgvba, abg n crefba.

            Vs Fvorevna ehaf vagb n PO-sebmra guvat, cebonoyl n zhghny pnapry (gur fnzr jnl Syrpurggr’f cbjre naq PO’f zhghnyyl pnapry).

            Ohg orpnhfr Fvorevna vf n cebwrpgvba, gung’f abg n ceboyrz – Znagba whfg fcvaf ure hc ntnva, fbzrjurer ryfr.

            Nf sbe pbhagref, jryy Qentba xvyyf gur Fvorevna ba ure bja; Syrpurggr/Sbvy’f rssrpg pnapryf gur Fvorevna, Tehr’f novyvgl gb pbcl gur Fvorevna pbhyq yrnq gb gjb vzzbinoyr bowrpgf vzzbivat rnpu bgure, Rvqbyba naq Tynvfgvt Hnvar nyzbfg pregnvayl unir n eryrinag gevpx fbzrjurer, Pbagrffn jvaf rnfvyl, Wnpx jvaf rnfvyl, va gur evtug pvephzfgnaprf Pvgevar pbhyq jva, nalbar jub pna ybpngr naq gnxr bhg Znagba orsber gur Fvorevna pna ernpg pna jva, rgp. rgp.

            > Endbringers

            Gur Raqoevatref nyzbfg pregnvayl qb abg fgbc hagvy gurl pbafvqre gurzfryirf gb unir orra ‘fhssvpvragyl sbhtug bss’, fbzr shapgvba bs ubj zhpu qnzntr unf orra qbar naq ubj zhpu crbcyr unir gevrq gb ratntr gurz. Ratntvat gurz zrnaf gurl tb njnl rneyvre.

            Gurl /jnag/ crbcyr gb svtug gurz. Fb gurl’er tbvat gb qryvorengryl tb uneqre vs crbcyr gel gb eha. Whfg rinphngvat jnf nyzbfg pregnvayl gevrq va gur onpxfgbel, naq gur Raqoevatre pbaprearq jbhyq unir znqr vg ybbx yvxr n zhpu jbefr nygreangvir (xrrcvat va zvaq gung nyy guerr Raqoevatref jvyy rnfvyl bhgcnpr nal rinphngvba nggrzcg; ol fgbel fgneg crbcyr trg fbzrguvat yvxr svsgrra zvahgrf jneavat).

            Frpbaqyl, gur Raqoevatref cergraq gb or vawherq be ceriragrq sebz qbvat guvatf be gur yvxr. Nezfznfgre’f svtug ntnvafg Yrivnguna vf n fznyy-fpnyr rknzcyr, ohg gurer’f obhaq gb or ynetre-fpnyr rknzcyrf.

          • anon85 says:

            Re Jack: That doesn’t explain Bonesaw’s manipulations that she supposedly learned from Jack. Others in the 9 also claim to learn manipulation from Jack.

            Re CB: if the Syberian is so easily beatable (e.g. by Eidolon, Foil, etc.), why did everyone fail to beat her for so many years?

            Re Endbringers: That still doesn’t address my main question, which is why Behemoth did not turn back after the giant blast.

          • James Picone says:

            > Bonesaw learning manipulation from Jack

            Fur qbrfa’g frrz irel tbbq ng vg, naq gurer’f abguvat fgbccvat Wnpx sebz orvat xvaqn punevfzngvp naq univat fbzr vqrn ubj gb shpx jvgu crbcyr’f urnqf jvgubhg uvf cnffratre gryyvat uvz jung gb qb (jura shpxvat jvgu cnenuhzna urnqf).

            Frevbhfyl, Cnanprn jnf n tvnag zrff bs vffhrf jnvgvat sbe fbzrbar gb chfu gurz, nalbar pbhyq unir chg ure va n anfgl zragny cynpr.

            > Siberian
            Pnhyqeba qvqa’g jnag Znagba/gur Fvorevna qrnq orpnhfr gurl gubhtug vg zvtug or n hfrshy cbjre ntnvafg Fpvba/Raqoevatref. Gurl qvqa’g gel gb xvyy uvz.

            Abobql ryfr xarj gung gur Fvorevna jnf n cebwrpgvba gung unq n erny, syrfu-naq-obar, abg-vaivapvoyr obql fbzrjurer.

            Jurer lbh svaq gur Fvorevna, lbh nyfb svaq gur erfg bs gur Avar, naq orngvat Wnpx vf n zhpu uneqre cebcbfvgvba.

            > Endbringers

            Fbzrgvzrf gurl tvir hc rneyvre guna bgure gvzrf. Znlor vg unq n tbny vg jnf tbvat sbe gung vg qrpvqrq jnf jbegu fubjvat bss n ovg sbe. Whfg orpnhfr gurl qba’g tb njnl hayrff lbh svtug gurz qbrfa’g zrna gung gurl’er thnenagrrq gb tb njnl vs lbh uvg gurz uneq rabhtu. Uryy, gur cbvag jurer lbh guvax lbh’ir sbhaq na rssrpgvir jrncba be gnpgvp vf cebonoyl gur cbvag jurer gurl’yy chyy fbzrguvat arj bhg gb shpx jvgu lbh. Be znlor gurl’yy jnvg hagvy arkg gvzr. Raqoevatref tbaan raqoevat.

      • moridinamael says:

        I mean, if you compare Worm against things that it isn’t, then it’s going to come up short.

        You don’t go to a live jazz show and complain that the sound mixing was bad. You don’t go to a comedy improv show and complain that the actors should have rehearsed their lines more. You have to read a web serial for what it is, and just let the inevitable issues like occasionally uneven writing and very rare plot snafus slide. If you read it for what it is, it’s amazing.

        And I don’t mean “forgive it for sucking” or something like that. It doesn’t suck. It’s great. It has problems, problems which are the result of how it was written and what it is, but these problems don’t make it not great.

        Obviously sometimes a story just doesn’t work for some people, and it sounds like it just didn’t work for you. That’s fine, I’m not going to try to convince you to like something you don’t like. However, I definitely don’t think the ending was terrible, though maybe the prose itself could be tightened. I completely disagree that the setting had problems, the setting was the best part. Yes, there are editing issues, but … why would this ruin it for you?

        • caethan says:

          No, it wasn’t great. I hated the main character and I hated her snarky asshole friends to the point that all of the sympathy that she had built up from the bullying early on completely evaporated and I was reading only to see her get her ass handed to her. When it became apparent that that wasn’t going to happen because she was too special and the universe was wholly Taylor-centric, I threw it at the wall (gently, didn’t want to hurt my iPad), then checked TvTropes to confirm that yes, the story ended with her becoming Queen Bitch of the Universe and that was apparently just what the universe needed.

          The bank robbery was where I finally realized it was all protagonist-centered morality and that she was never going to have to pay for her crimes. She threatens to murder everyone in the bank, gets pissed when one of the helpless innocents she threatens to murder isn’t quite as helpless as she thought, and so *really* threatens to murder her up close and personal. Meanwhile the metaphorical gun she had pointed to everyone’s head apparently went off several times without her noticing (black widows hidden in people’s clothes are totally friendly when uncontrolled, guys!) but eh, she can’t be arsed to do anything about it. Gotta get away safely from the bank robbery! Sorry about the spider bites, but I’m the protagonist and you’re just helpless victims! And then not one chapter later it’s all “I’m so troubled because these girls at school were so mean to me. They poured soda on my head! Can you imagine someone so depraved as to do that!”

          • moridinamael says:

            I dunno, man. Like I said,

            > Obviously sometimes a story just doesn’t work for some people, and it sounds like it just didn’t work for you. That’s fine, I’m not going to try to convince you to like something you don’t like.

            That said … you’re pretty off-base about the story not punishing her. If anything, Wildbow is pretty good at punishing his characters. And being Queen Bitch of the Universe does not turn out well for Taylor at all.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            ***VAGUE SPOILERS***

            I don’t want to accuse you of missing the point, because the point of a book is highly subjective, but I thought one of the big points of Worm was that Taylor wasn’t a morally perfect hero — her descent into villainy is the main underlying plot for the first half. You could argue that she gets away too easily with the odd alignment change after *xvyyvat Nyrknaqevn*, but her morally dubious tactics (both then and in the last arcs) are resolved to an extent.

            As I read it, the universe appears to be Taylor-centric because the book is about her — it’s like it was written after the events of the last arcs to give the origin story of a very important actor in *gur svtug ntnvafg Fpvba*.

          • caethan says:

            I may well have missed the point of the book. As I thought I made clear, I threw the book metaphorically at the wall at about the beginning of Arc 4. And at least through the sections I read, there was no moral judgement within the narrative of her utterly despicable actions. If, as you say, this is supposed to be a semi-historical story about a major player in big events, then the first few arcs at least read like an account of the Beer Hall Putsch treated like a minor parliamentary dispute.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yeah, one of the themes of the work is how easy it is for people to justify to themselves the bad things they do, and since most of the story is told from Skitter’s standpoint, it doesn’t explicitly call her out on her shit most of the time.

            I do agree that the ending was too kind to her, but I hate most happy endings in general.

          • ShemTealeaf says:

            I’d like to offer a response to some of your points regarding protagonist-centered morality:

            ***SPOILERS FOR ALL OF WORM SPOILERS SPOILERS***

            1) It’s not clear that the story really endorses Taylor’s morality. She is frequently wracked by guilt and doubt, and she does ‘pay for her crimes’ throughout the story.

            2) At the time of the bank robbery, Taylor is acting as an undercover agent, trying to bring the Undersiders to justice. From a utilitarian perspective, there’s a plausible justification for her participation in the bank robbery in order to curry favor with the villains. Perhaps you don’t find Taylor’s logic convincing, but it’s ultimately just ruthless utilitarianism (a theme that frequently recurs throughout the series). I don’t see that as protagonist-centered morality, except inasmuch as it’s portrayed in a favorable light by Taylor herself.

            3) Planting the spiders was actually a pretty good way of reducing the likelihood that someone would be killed. If she hadn’t essentially removed their ability to fight back, it’s possible that Regent or Bitch might have ended up seriously injuring or killing a hostage who tried to resist. We can debate whether it’s better to definitely terrorize people or risk a small chance of killing them, but I don’t think she made the obviously wrong choice.

            4) I’m pretty sure the spiders didn’t actually bite anyone. Tattletale claims (at the end of 3.12) that nobody was injured or killed, and the heroes don’t mention any civilian casualties in Interlude 3.

            5) She threatens Panacea with her knife, but she allows her to escape rather than actually cutting her.

          • James Picone says:

            That’s a surprisingly early time to get fed up with Taylor’s slide into villainy. Arc 4?

            I would disagree strongly that the story presents all her decisions as ethical and that she never experiences bad consequences as a result of her decisions. In fact, the bank robbery was ordered by the Undersider’s boss as a cover for a different crime that Taylor feels intensely guilty about and spends several arcs trying to atone for.

          • Daniel Keys says:

            @ShemTealeaf

            Never mind Tattletale, at what point in time was that possible? Gnlybe vf va pbageby bs nyy gur ohtf hagvy Cnanprn gnxrf bire gur barf ba gur ubfgntrf. Fvapr C’f cbjre jbexf ol gbhpu, jungrire fur qvq gb gurz pnaabg cbffvoyl unir erdhverq pbafgnag nggragvba. Gurer’f ab ernfba gb fhfcrpg nal evfx gb nal pvivyvnaf (nfvqr sebz fgerff). Nzhfvatyl, C (nsgre uvggvat Gnlybe ba gur urnq) qbrf evfx ure bja yvsr, ohg nf lbh fnl Gnlybe ernpgf dhvpxyl rabhtu gb nibvq phggvat ure.

            Creuncf jr fubhyq gnxr gur sbphf ba gurfr qrgnvyf nf n znex bs ntvgngvba – gur onax eboorel vgfrys jnf jebat (qhu) naq rnpu bs gur qrgnvyrq pevgvpvfzf jrnxraf pnrguna’f pnfr haarprffnevyl. Ohg V xabj V sryg ab fhecevfr ng nyy jura gur pevzr onpxsverq naq Gnlybe gevrq qrfcrengryl gb ngbar be znxr vg evtug.

        • anon85 says:

          Would you say there is ever a fair criticism of any book? Or can it all be dismissed by “maybe it just didn’t work for you”?

          • moridinamael says:

            I’m all about criticism. (Follow the link through my username!) But my contention is that people are usually wrong about why they didn’t enjoy something.

            I can criticize things that I enjoy; criticism can be highly constructive and educational. But “I didn’t like it” isn’t a criticism, it’s a reaction, pre-rational. Your brain doesn’t always let you know why it doesn’t like something. If you reflexively don’t like something that I like, it’s pointless for me to argue against whatever deep-seated preference is causing that reflexive reaction.

            It’s fun to discuss actual concrete problems with a thing. In contrast to my analogies in the previous post, it’s even constructive to point out that a violinist is playing out of tune, because that violinist might not realize that, and it might lead them to improving. But saying “I don’t like your violin playing. Your shirt is untucked and you badly need to comb your hair” is not constructive, because the second sentence doesn’t really follow from the first and is irrelevant to violin playing anyway.

            Like, when the Star Wars prequels came out, almost everybody fixated on Jar-Jar Binks. “Jar-Jar ruined it.” It took stuff like the analytical RLM reviews before we sort of collectively realized that the movies are fundamentally terrible even without Jar-Jar. We knew we didn’t like them, but we didn’t know why.

            And I could argue point-by-point about why somebody is “wrong” to have a certain feeling about a work of art, but I’m never in a million years going to change that feeling. I’d much prefer to discuss the writer’s technique, or the consistency of characterization.

          • anon85 says:

            @moridinamael, I think you’ll find that I provided specific constructive criticisms (except for “the ending sucked,” which is not constructive but is so obviously true that I have trouble believing you disagree).

          • ii says:

            The ending was the obvious highlight of the series for me and hearing about other people not liking it is providing some pretty great representation of mind projection fallacy. Aside from that constructive criticism tends to include the constructive part ie. how you expected it to go and why it would have worked better. Superheroes not attacking the giant monsters killing everybody and instead just running away without trying to do anything is pretty counterintuitive and no diablos ex machina were readily apparent outside of Taylor getting in more trouble than other people who were doing the same thing with fewer moral compunctions (that we knew of, chances are that their lives weren’t great either off camera).

          • anon85 says:

            What I would change:

            * The endbringers are annoying and boring, because I know the outcome of any actions doesn’t matter until Scion comes. Scratch them, they add nothing.

            * Use “anyway” instead of “anyways”. At least once in the book.

            * There was diablus ex machina all over the place with the 9. Do you remember how they escaped Brocton Bay? It required Taylor not finding Manton in his truck in time, then Manton getting to Jack and Bonesaw in time, then them surviving firebombing by hiding in the endbringer protection thingies (how did they know where they are?), then having the heroes guess their location wrong, then having Bonesaw make decoys in 10 minutes or less. After that, they manage to get into some pocket dimension thing that no one could locate for 2 whole years, despite, like, the entire world being at stake. Come on.

          • Aegeus says:

            I would rather scratch the Scion plot than the Endbringers. The Endbringers were impactful. Heroes and villains we knew and cared about died during the Leviathan fight. The city got changed irrevocably, and our characters were right there to see it happen and react to it. Endbringers (and S-class threats in general) are a powerful statement about the world – there are things that even the biggest superheroes can’t beat, and you are just going to have to deal with that as best you can. (Not to mention, while they don’t matter compared to Scion, at they time they’re introduced, you don’t know that. They’re the biggest threat we’ve seen.)

            Scion, despite having far bigger scale, had much less impact. So he blew up England? Big deal, we never met any characters from there. And once he’s introduced, he completely bends the story in half. Stop all the subplots, the only thing that matters is finding powers that can beat him.

            I once read somewhere that a superhero story doesn’t really need any threats bigger than a city-destroying monster. Everything the audience cares about can fit into a city. Anything beyond that – continent-busting, planet-busting, galaxy-busting – is just adding numbers.

          • ii says:

            I’ll be honest I’m struggling with seeing your point of view.
            The endbringers were the thing that drew me the most to Worm’s setting and nothing you just mentioned about the S9 seems outlandish to me (who *doesn’t* know about endbringer shelters? there are street signs!). At most the only objection I’m reading from this is that villains aren’t allowed the same level of powers or ingenuity as the protagonists because they are evil.

          • anon says:

            Yeah, in hindsight the reason I found pact exhausting was probably the lack of game-changing threats. I rooted for Blake, things got bleak, I rooted for him some more, they go even bleaker, I started wondering why he hasn’t killed himself yet, then they got even bleaker, and by the time the first abyss arc ended I just wanted him to die because that was too much bleak for one man to be stuck with. When taylor vs underworld escalates into world vs endbringers, sure things get bleaker, but I can care. When blake vs town escalates into blake vs world I just start hoping blake dies which makes for a pretty emotionally draining, if not exactly bad, read.

        • Ivan Ivanoff says:

          > Yes, there are editing issues, but … why would this ruin it for you?

          Speaking for me: because there are a thousand other great works of art that *are* well edited.

      • Daniel Keys says:

        Question 1: Because gur Fvzhetu jnagf gurz gb. If you want the details of how it works, ask yourself why people semi-frequently fail to evacuate their homes during real-life disasters.

        Question 2: Because Fpvba vf ynml. Ur rkcyvpvgyl frag gur nqzvavfgengbe funeq gb gur fnzr pvgl nf gur pnfg-bss senpgvba bs shgher fvtug orpnhfr ur pbhyqa’g or obgurerq gb ybbx snegure nsvryq. Coil and Tattletale of course are not from Brockton Bay. I forget if they could have come to the city orpnhfr bs Qvanu in particular, but clearly Pbvy gubhtug vg jbhyq or n tbbq pvgl naq ureb grnz gb gnxr bire sbe uvf svefg gel.

        • alexp says:

          If you’re going to rot13 spoilers, please do it for an entire paragraph, or not at all. Having some sentences scrambled and some unscrambled in the middle makes it annoying.

      • 75th says:

        THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for calling out the “anyways” thing. I’m (over)sensitive to technical/taste issues like that, anything that makes me think “This author is not very smart about [something, no matter how trivial]” makes me increasingly angry, and it was just a constant barrage — I literally ragequit Worm solely and entirely because I could not take another “anyways”. The narration says it, the protagonist says it, and every other character says it every single time.

        • navigater says:

          Would considering it standard alt world slang, or linguistic drift, change anything?

      • Montfort says:

        I loved worm, but the whole “anyways” thing was pretty of annoying. “Headspace” was worse for me – when even Eidolon said it, I had to put my laptop down and walk around a bit. Hopefully when it (eventually) gets edited they’ll clean some of that up.

    • Held in Escrow says:

      I read Worm before it was cool!

      No, but really, you should go in realizing that Worm is inherently a superhero story dressed up with a decent bit of grit. It still follows through with most of your standard tropes for a non-big 2 universe, from the whole Reed Richards is Useless to only the powered showing up at the big crossover fights (despite many of them being less useful than a trained normal person). The whole story kind of slumps before starting to fall apart once it gets above city level.

      It’s still a damn fun read, but don’t expect much more than a good superpowers story and the last quarter needs serious reworking.

    • Chevron says:

      He’s heard of it before, I know a lot of us recommended it after his “superpower pills” story, and I actually even emphasized the recommendation in person at a meetup last June. He probably just finally found the time to start reading it.

    • Anon says:

      For those who may be interested, there is also an audiobook version of Worm released as a podcast. It’s been going for almost 2 years at 3 chapters/week and is almost finished: http://audioworm.rein-online.org/

  3. Douglas Knight says:

    He supports Planned Parenthood, doesn’t want to cut entitlement programs, condemns Dubya and the Iraq war, supports affirmative action, supports medical marijuana, etc. If somebody were to tell you last year that a man with those policy positions would not only be leading the Republican primary, but leading even among the most conservative voters, you’d think they were crazy.

    If someone had told you this on New Years Day 2015, and you had to guess the candidate, who would you guess?

    • Wrong Species says:

      If Donald Trump wins the presidency, the Republican Party as we know it will be dead. I’m sure the “Death eaters” and alt-right people are ecstatic at the thought. American conservatism has been held together by ideals of limited government, social conservatism and nationalism since Reagan but Trump is what happens when you disregard the first two and turbo charge the third. Personally, I’d rather not have our country lead by an economically illiterate, know-nothing populist but that’s just me.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        Speaking of which, has anybody else checked out /r/The_Donald? Because I did, and, holy crap, half of those threads look like they came out of The Right Stuff’s comment section. But /r/The_Donald is not an Alt-Right subreddit; it’s the mainstream subreddit for Trump supporters. Jim said that “every time Trump opens his mouth, he widens the Overton Window”, and it looks like he was right. Is the Trump candidacy helping a large, formerly silent group of people achieve common knowledge?

        • Wrong Species says:

          What amazed me while reading that subreddit is the number of people that are normally progressive who are supporting Trump because they think he’s a good business man who will moderate his beliefs once the primaries are over(especially on issues like global warming). I don’t know how they can square that with supporting him because he “tells it like it is”.

          • Frog Do says:

            Politics isn’t about politics (which is to say politics isn’t about ideas). The power to say uncomfortable truths and not face media sanction isn’t really related to firm and consistent poltical principles.

          • suntzuanime says:

            A lot of the things he tells are pretty moderate, really. Like saying Planned Parenthood does good things, or condemning the Iraq War, or refusing to let people die in the streets.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Suntzanime

            Yes, but being a moderate on many issues is different from backtracking from his established positions for political reasons.

          • Nathan says:

            Some of the stuff Trump says is fairly moderate. Some of it is explicit promises to become a war criminal.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @Nathan

            The same could be said of FDR.

            The really scary thing for most people is the suggestion that the US ought to take the “threat” of Muslim Fundamentalists as seriously as we once took the threat of Militant Shinto Buddhists, Nazis, and Communists.

          • John Schilling says:

            Well, most Americans didn’t take the threat of militant Shintoism seriously until a bunch of the militants launched a sneak aerial attack on US soil and killed 3000 or so Americans, so there’s that.

            But there’s a difference between recognizing a threat of the highest order, and imagining that Donald Trump is the man you want to have deal with it.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, You go to war with the politicians you have.

            If I were given the entire field of US public figures and told to pick a leader, Trump would be pretty low on my list of choices. But of the candidates we actually have, I would say that he’s the most likely to genuinely defend US interests.

          • John Schilling says:

            In the sense that a scorched-earth defense is genuine, perhaps. I’d prefer four more years of Obama’s insincere quasi-defense, and I think the odds of getting that from Hillary are pretty good.

          • NN says:

            The really scary thing for most people is the suggestion that the US ought to take the “threat” of Muslim Fundamentalists as seriously as we once took the threat of Militant Shinto Buddhists, Nazis, and Communists.

            Considering the numerous atrocities and abuses (Japanese and German-American internment camps, the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden, COINTELPRO, Vietnam, Central American death squads, etc.) that the US committed when it took those previous threats seriously, how miniscule the threat posed by Muslim Fundamentalists is by comparison, and the abuses and atrocities that have already been committed by the US government in the fight against Muslim Fundamentalists, I’m perfectly happy with not taking this threat as seriously as we did those previous threats.

            And to anyone who says, “the entire reason the War on Terror has turned out so badly has been because we have only been half-heartedly fighting it instead of crushing the enemy with overwhelming force like we did during WWII,” I suggest you ask the Russians how well the “crush the enemy with overwhelming force” strategy worked out for them in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

          • John Schilling says:

            Chechnya seems to be pretty stable these days.

            Crushing the enemy with overwhelming force in Afghanistan would have run into the problem that the enemy wasn’t in Afghanistan and had several thousand nuclear missiles. Though to be fair, any real or hypothetical US counterinsurgency strategy needs to consider who might be actively supporting the insurgents as well.

          • NN says:

            Chechnya seems to be pretty stable these days.

            After more than 20 years of war, numerous terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of Russian civilians, thousands of Russian military deaths, and tens of thousands of Chechen civilian deaths. Furthermore, while Chechnya itself has been relatively stable in recent years, at the same time it has been increasingly active in exporting terrorism to other parts of the world. So I’d be very reluctant to call Chechnya a counter-terrorism success story.

            Though to be fair, any real or hypothetical US counterinsurgency strategy needs to consider who might be actively supporting the insurgents as well.

            From what I’ve read, the answer to that question is often “wealthy citizens of Gulf Arab states that are longstanding US allies in addition to possessing a large portion of the world’s oil reserves.” So while they aren’t quite as untouchable as the CIA was for the Soviet Union, they’re still pretty hard for the US to act against.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @NN

            >I suggest you ask the Russians how well the “crush the enemy with overwhelming force” strategy worked out for them in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

            Two words:
            Genghis Khan

            It’s not a coincidence that he’s one of the few who pacified the region.

          • NN says:

            Two words:
            Genghis Khan

            It’s not a coincidence that he’s one of the few who pacified the region.

            Genghis Khan had the good fortune to be born long before the invention of modern firearms and explosives. Considering how effective 19th century repeating firearms were against the horse archers and lancers of the Comanche Indians, it is highly doubtful that he would have been similarly successful had he been born in the modern era. Indeed, the Nazis and Imperial Japan attempted similarly brutal pacification strategies in the territories that they conquered, but they were still unable to put down insurgencies in France, Poland, China, etc.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @NN

            Sure, they had to deal with insurgencies but if they had survived the war, the would have been able to put those down and keep them down. I don’t want to get in to this argument because I’ve already had a lengthy discussion on this exact same issue in one of the last open threads but I’ll just say that the Taliban were doing a good job at ruling through fear until they were overthrown by the US. Other examples include North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia. I wish that Kennedy’s famous quote “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” was right but it’s not. If the continuation of power is your main goal, the best way to achieve that is to swiftly and violently crack down on all dissent.

          • @ NN :

            German-American internment camps

            Source?

          • NN says:

            A total of 11,507 people of German ancestry were interned during the war. They comprised 36.1% of the total internments under the US Justice Department’s Enemy Alien Control Program.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_German_Americans#World_War_II

          • A total of 11,507 people of German ancestry were interned during the war.

            I didn’t know this. But in the broad sweep of everything the U.S. did during the war, that’s a tiny number. That would be maybe 1/10 of 1% of the German ancestry citizens of the U.S. at the time.

          • Frog Do says:

            America had a history of German American immigration and they were partially integrated. At the time, I don’t think that was true of the Japanese, which when considered with the Nihao Incident also makes the decision more understandable.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            The counts were higher for the Japanese because of
            -different time period for emigration (Japan late 19th, Germany earlier)
            -restrictions on becoming citizens for the Japanese (and a lot of citizens being children of noncitizens)
            -a no go area covering the west coast

        • noge_sako says:

          Its 4chan.org/pol gone wild.

          You can’t tell me its not the most entertaining subreddit.

          “Jeff Sessions endorses Donald J. Trump for President. Game changing endorsement. Cruz on suicide watch.”

          And its mostly epic memes.

        • Vaniver says:

          I find the HIGH ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM charming.

          • Nadja says:

            Charming is right. Have you seen what they are doing today? They are having a big fundraiser for charity, because the Donald doesn’t need their donations.

        • Princess Stargirl says:

          Milo is really popular among Trump supporters. He has even convinced a decent number of them not all homosexuals are bad.

          See for example:

          https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/48aeit/milo_if_you_are_a_kkk_supporter_and_you_want_race/

          https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/48avrv/milo_yiannopoulos_on_twitter_trump_is_a_political/

      • suntzuanime says:

        Donald Trump is winning because the median Republican voter wants the Republican Party dead. Welcome to democracy!

        • Anonymous says:

          Democracy (ie, piping dissent into /dev/null) has apparently failed, but the jury’s still out if the replacement for the Republicans won’t be the same as the Republicans. If they are, democracy is preserved.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Did you reply to the wrong comment?

      • onyomi says:

        Have been seeing recently some stories wherein the most awful Republicans (eg Ben Stein) say they might vote Democrat if Trump is the nominee. To my mind this is FANTASTIC (not even joking), because if people like Bill Kristol and Ben Stein actually defected from the GOP (a big if), it could mean purging a lot of the hawkishness from that party.

        For the past few decades, anyone who has wanted small government at home and small government abroad (i. e. libertarians) has been basically doomed since the GOP want small government at home but huge military adventurism abroad and the Democrats want big government at home, and, frankly huge military adventurism abroad too (okay, maybe slightly less, but that doesn’t fix the problem).

        Also, though he appeals to a very blue collar segment, Trump himself is actually really socially liberal for a Republican. So… he wants relatively non-interventionist military and is socially liberal… why do we hate him so much?

        • hlynkacg says:

          I think that’s exactly why they hate him so much.

          He represents Red Tribe status independence, Independence that could very well pose and existential threat to the union.

        • John Schilling says:

          @onyomi: Two problems with that plan.

          First, Donald Trump does not want a non-interventionist military. He wants, explicitly, to “Take” all of Iraq’s oil, and maybe all of Saudi Arabia’s oil as well. He is characteristically vague about how that’s going to happen, but really it’s not going to happen without a massive military intervention, and Trump is the most militaristic man on the stage. He is going to make the military much stronger than it is right now. And he says that he’s going to be such a great negotiator that he’ll cut costs at the same time and we’ll have peace in our time because nobody will dare fight against us, if you care to believe that part.

          Second, Stein and Kristol aren’t going to “defect from the GOP”, and they aren’t going to allow themselves to be purged from the GOP. They are going to vote for one specific Democrat, one time, while using every bit of their influence within the party to turn the GOP into a machine that can weather the bad years from its redoubt in the halls of Congress and come back to reclaim the White House in 2020. Which is actually a pretty decent plan.

          But only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would fight a war on every possible front. So when these “defecting” Republicans need to find some common ground on which they can manage to not fight with the Trumpists they hate, the centrist Democrats they need, and the GOP establishment they want to restore, what’s that common ground going to be?

          Yeah, bombing the foreign enemy du jour back to the stone age. Today ISIS, tomorrow the world.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Being “the most militaristic man on the stage” is an exceptionally low bar to clear these days. And considering the rough shape most of the current rank-and-file units are in making the military stronger could be something as simple as bringing “operational” strength back up to the “on paper” strength level.

          • John Schilling says:

            Right, nothing could be simpler. I wonder why nobody has thought of doing that before?

          • hlynkacg says:

            I honestly don’t know if you’re being sarcastic.

          • onyomi says:

            I think Donald would claim to be the most anything on the stage just to one-up everyone, but I don’t think he actually is the most militaristic. In fact, since Rand Paul left, I think he may actually be the most cautious in terms of what he’s said about negotiation, “putting American interests first” (by saying, for example, that North Korea is China’s problem).

            It may, to some extent, be me projecting wishful thinking onto his characteristically vague positions, but, if anything, it sounds a little like the Ron Paul foreign policy, but better pitched to the Red Tribe rank and file: instead of “let’s stop screwing up the Middle East and making new terrorists by bombing foreigners unnecessarily,” it’s “let’s put America’s interests first.”

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Onyomi

            The modern Republican Party at least attempts to win over libertarians. Do you really expect the same once Trump turns the party in to the American National Front?

          • Anonymous says:

            All these separate, conflicted groups to please! How is anyone able to run a coherent, consistent policy with that?

          • onyomi says:

            “All these separate, conflicted groups to please! How is anyone able to run a coherent, consistent policy with that?”

            You can’t. Which is why the US should break into smaller nations (seriously). Overly large and culturally diverse polity forces politics-based coalition-pleasing policy instead of good policy.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Or we could have just respected federalism in the first place. I’ve long thought that Obamacare and gay marriage advocacy were doing serious damage to the political fabric. But I didn’t think that the damage would come to fruition so quickly.

            I still think we’ll be very lucky if Trump is the worst of it.

          • Anonymous says:

            These polities can function if they adopt a Millet-like internal subdivision system. Let them pass their own laws, and use them among each other (a simple “victim’s rules” system for interaction between groups seems adequate, with optional “if $preferred_group is involved, their court” exceptions), collect tribute from their leader, and otherwise ignore them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Why not just adopt a decent electoral system? By which I mean, one where multiple parties are workable, so you don’t have many competing interest groups in each party.

          • Anonymous says:

            @dndnsrn

            That only gives you more parties, and likelier necessary coalitions, which have the same problem as you note for two-party systems. Short of a “winner takes all seats and keeps it until they are overthrown” system, there’s little way of ensuring that policy remains coherent and consistent.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @ black (dark purple?) gravatar Anonymous:

            But such coalition governments would provide better representation than the current system, where some groups are, or at the very least feel like they are, votes without voices.

            Smaller nation-states would still have similar problems: there are plenty of major cities in the US that would make serviceable city-states when their size, economy, etc is considered, but they still have enough economic, demographic, etc diversity to just recapitulate the problems the US faces.

            Plus, part of the strength of the US as a power is that it is unified. The Free City of New York, Republic of Deseret, Unified Bay Area, whatever, are not going to have the same ability. Some might think this is a good thing – what happens if Canada decides that the Free City of New York looks like it could be knocked over? Does New York ally with the New England Federation to defend itself, and seek a military alliance with the People’s Republic of the Pacific Northwest to invade BC to take the pressure off? In which case, this would probably just lead to another big power, but one stitched together in far weirder ways.

            A millet system would face the problem that the divisions in the US are not primarily religious. The Ottoman Empire’s system was, as I understand it, based on religion. It was a society in which most people were either religious adherents or pretended to be, and the religious minorities tended to live together in little pocket communities.

            But divisions in the US are arguably more complicated, and aren’t just based on one factor like religion in the Ottoman Empire was.

            I don’t see what’s wrong with a system like Germany’s, which gives a decent amount of representation, has much less of the problem of (for instance) the plutocrats, war hawks, social conservatives, etc in one party together, but doesn’t result in wild and wacky coalition action like some systems do.

    • overton window washer says:

      His trick (well, besides all that Master Wizard stuff Scott Adams writes about) was aligning himself with what Republican voters actually want (which includes the destruction of the Republican Party establishment) rather than the stereotype which talking heads had, until now, convinced Republican voters was a typical Republican voter.

      The real Overton window has been lagging the media Overton window by quite a bit for quite some time now.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Are you saying that any (competent) outsider would have done the same? That if you had heard the prediction, you would have concluded that the candidate was an outsider, but been unable to draw any further conclusions because it’s the obvious strategy?

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Do you think America is special? This sort of politician has been doing well in Europe for over fifteen years now.

          • Interesting point. Is it only for fifteen years, and if so what changed that made that sort of demagogue more successful?

          • tmk says:

            Most European countries have a far-right anti-immigration party that gets some 10-20% of the vote (highly variable). I think Europe had a strong immunity against anything that smelled of fascism after WW2, but it is starting to wear off. Germany probably has a stronger immunity, and indeed there is no such party in the Bundestag.

            There are some differences between these European parties and Donald Trump. They tend to be very socially conservative, and they don’t usually attract a celebrity business leader.

          • gbdub says:

            Part of the problem is, who is the moderate anti-immigration candidate (here or in Europe)? Any efforts to restrict immigration are met with accusations of nigh-Nazi level racism, so the only people willing to talk about it at all are those already in the black hole or willing to go there (actual neo-Nazis and Donald Trump, who noticed this niche and grabbed it).

            Trump, whose non-immigration policies (to the extent he has “policy” and not just bluster) are pretty moderate is tapping into that. Immigration, particularly illegal immigration, is really unpopular right now for reasons that ought to be obvious, and anyone smart shouldn’t write off as just bigotry. When the Republican establishment is plugging amnesty, where else do you turn?

          • “who is the moderate anti-immigration candidate”

            Practically every candidate, both in the U.S. and Europe. What candidate is in favor of free immigration? In favor of a substantial increase in the number of legal immigrants? They are all anti-immigration, merely to varying degrees.

          • I don’t see how the tax on wire transfers to Mexico can be enforced. What prevents someone from making a wire transfer to someone he trusts in some other country, who then sends it on to Mexico?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ David Friedman:

            Maybe he means “Who is in favor of less immigration than Ted Cruz but more than Donald Trump?” And that’s on the assumption that Ted Cruz is being insincere in his current stated position on immigration, which is virtually identical to Trump’s.

            But yeah, that’s a funny definition of “moderate”.

          • Anon says:

            The Republican candidates’ positions on immigration (including both Rubio’s and Trump’s) seem pretty moderate to me when you consider how far apart the fringes on both ends of the issue are.

            Sure, you’re right that there’s no open borders candidate, but there’s also no complete immigration moratorium candidate. Even Donald Trump doesn’t want to cut off all legal immigration. He also said he wanted to build a door in his border wall for the “good people,” so he’s not anti-immigration in all cases.

            This means that both of the extreme sides are not having their desires represented by any of the candidates.

            Most Americans believe in something in-between those two positions on the issue, so it makes sense that the Republican candidates are positioning themselves somewhere in-between them, with Trump and Cruz leaning more towards the moratorium side and Rubio (at least in the past, with his support for the Gang of 8 bill) leaning more towards the open borders side. Jeb Bush was also more towards the open borders side, with his support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and his plan to continue the DREAMer program.

            I know it feels weird to think about when you mostly interact with open borders-supporters or sympathizers, but thinking we should drastically increase legal immigration or remove limits entirely is a really unpopular idea to most Americans, so it makes sense that no politician has dared to express that opinion, even if some of them believe it.

            (I don’t mean that last paragraph as an insult. There are lots of issues that I feel are obviously correct on the end I support [like evolution being true], and then I sometimes find it hard to keep in mind that the majority of the country doesn’t believe the same things I do.)

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anon:

            Sure, you’re right that there’s no open borders candidate, but there’s also no complete immigration moratorium candidate. Even Donald Trump doesn’t want to cut off all legal immigration. He also said he wanted to build a door in his border wall for the “good people,” so he’s not anti-immigration in all cases.

            This means that both of the extreme sides are not having their desires represented by any of the candidates.

            The current status quo is far closer to a complete moratorium on immigration than it is to open borders. One side of the spectrum definitely is having its voice heard more than the other. And that side is the restrictionist side.

            In any case, gbdub described Trump as an non-“moderate”, i.e. “extreme” candidate on immigration. If you redefine him as a moderate immigration candidate on the spectrum between “deport all non-citizens” and “let everyone in”, then you eliminate his problem of “who is the moderate anti-immigration candidate (here or in Europe)?”

            Most Americans believe in something in-between those two positions on the issue, so it makes sense that the Republican candidates are positioning themselves somewhere in-between them, with Trump and Cruz leaning more towards the moratorium side and Rubio (at least in the past, with his support for the Gang of 8 bill) leaning more towards the open borders side. Jeb Bush was also more towards the open borders side, with his support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and his plan to continue the DREAMer program.

            Amnesty, a path to citizenship, the DREAM ACT, etc. are not anything close to open borders. They are not “leaning toward” open borders. They are forms of restrictionism more relaxed than the status quo but still far more on the side of restriction.

            I highly doubt you can even find a Democrat who is in favor of open borders. They are in favor of legalizing the people who are already here and maybe letting a somewhat greater proportion in. They are not in favor of radically increasing that number, despite the paranoid conspiracy theories of some conservatives.

            Then again, I’m with Bryan Caplan: “Essentially, the kind of things that Republicans accuse Obama of secretly plotting to do are what I think should be done.”

            (I don’t mean that last paragraph as an insult. There are lots of issues that I feel are obviously correct on the end I support [like evolution being true], and then I sometimes find it hard to keep in mind that the majority of the country doesn’t believe the same things I do.)

            I have no illusions that any significant number of Americans support open borders. I’m not sure what made you think otherwise.

            That’s why I think “where are the moderate anti-immigration candidates?” is a silly question. Okay, maybe there’s no “moderate” candidate: because they’re all extreme restrictionists! A “moderate” position would be something like, I don’t know, we’ll let in everyone with a college degree and go from there.

            And if you don’t mean it in the absolute sense but “moderate” relative to the American political scene, there are plenty of them.

          • gbdub says:

            Aren’t nearly all Democrats, and a lot of Republicans, openly advocating for increased legal immigration via the DREAM act, “path to citizenship” etc? And if you’re not willing to enforce existing immigration laws, how does that differ substantially from increasing immigration? Yes, legalizing existing immigrants isn’t quite the same thing, but I think the distinction is understandably lost on a lot of voters – either way, you’re ending up with a lot of citizens who would otherwise be non-citizens.

            Anon notes rightly that this is a much more pro-open borders forum than the American electorate, so from in here it might seem like no candidate is pro-increased immigration, but that’s really not how Joe Citizen is likely to view it. (The other cynical issue is that I think a lot of the pro-amnesty crowd is more swayed by sympathetic stories of individual immigrants than rational/principled support for open borders – if we were actually talking about substantially increasing immigration across the board, and not just for poor Mexicans and Syrian refugees, some of the pro-immigrant support would probably evaporate).

            Cruz and Trump are more or less the only candidates willing to be openly anti-illegal immigration (and propose doing something about it). And they are treated by Democrats and much of the media as being extremists/racists/Nazis for these views. However, current primary results compared to Rubio et al suggests they are a lot closer to “moderate” than “extreme” for any definition that takes the actual distribution of opinions in the electorate into account.

            EDIT: I think part of the issue is that I wasn’t clear enough in my use of “moderate”. What I mean is that most candidates here and in Europe who are actually, openly opposed to levels of immigration above the current level, and/or in favor of more vigorous enforcement of existing immigration laws, are considered “extreme” for their other political views. Most of those “far right” anti-immigrant parties in Europe are, well, “far right”. Basically, I’m surprised there aren’t more people who are “Hillary Clinton + border wall” (actually that’s probably Trump, but he’s doing so much politically incorrect blustering that he gets labeled “extreme”).

          • Jaskologist says:

            We have two immigration regimes. For poor Latin Americans, we may not have an officially open border, but we do seem dedicated to not enforcing the immigration laws we’ve passed (“Sanctuary cities” are even explicit in this), which conveniently allows them in, but keeps them in a legal limbo where they can be exploited.

            For the wealthier, more highly educated immigrants who would compete with people like me for a job, we have an absurdly strict and kafka-esque system. This regime is enforced. I know an immigrant family who was denied the right to work for months and then given 2 weeks to leave the country because reasons. Even the ones we allow are treated like crap in their interviews.

            Immigration is not an issue I actually care about, but neither of these regimes seems good to me. Inasmuch as I have a position, it would be “enforce the laws we’ve passed, then worry about changing them,” and I’m fairly neutral on which direction they should change. I feel like that should be considered a pretty moderate position; I also can’t think of any candidate who credibly represents it.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Jaskologist:

            We have two immigration regimes. For poor Latin Americans, we may not have an officially open border, but we do seem dedicated to not enforcing the immigration laws we’ve passed (“Sanctuary cities” are even explicit in this), which conveniently allows them in, but keeps them in a legal limbo where they can be exploited.

            For the wealthier, more highly educated immigrants who would compete with people like me for a job, we have an absurdly strict and kafka-esque system. This regime is enforced. I know an immigrant family who was denied the right to work for months and then given 2 weeks to leave the country because reasons. Even the ones we allow are treated like crap in their interviews.

            It’s not that we have “two different systems”. If the wealthy, educated people want to sneak in and live illegally on the fringes of society, they are welcome to do so. They don’t want to do so.

            It’s sort of strange to me to describe it as “two different systems” just because some people genuinely are so poor and have native countries so undesirable that living here illegally on the fringes of society is preferable.

            Immigration is not an issue I actually care about, but neither of these regimes seems good to me. Inasmuch as I have a position, it would be “enforce the laws we’ve passed, then worry about changing them,” and I’m fairly neutral on which direction they should change. I feel like that should be considered a pretty moderate position; I also can’t think of any candidate who credibly represents it.

            I can’t understand this position. It’s just bizarre.

            Do you think on the War on Drugs, a sensible policy is to “enforce the laws we’ve passed, then think about changing them”? The whole reason many people want to change the laws is that they are unenforceable unless we really cracked down on civil liberties, which would create a situation many times worse than the problem.

            Or how about taxes? If we had an 80% income tax and the resultant widespread evasion, would it be sensible to say “enforce the tax first, then think about changing it”? You couldn’t enforce such a tax.

            The current immigration laws are unenforceable because they are unreasonable. They cannot be enforced because living in America is so much more advantageous than millions of them are willing to come here illegally, often at great personal risk. And because employing these workers is so advantageous to the millions of people who find it profitable to employ them.

            Sure, they could be enforced. But the human consequences would be so catastrophic that most reasonable people can see that this is not a sensible option.

          • caethan says:

            @Vox Imperatoris:

            > Or how about taxes? If we had an 80% income tax and the resultant widespread evasion, would it be sensible to say “enforce the tax first, then think about changing it”? You couldn’t enforce such a tax.

            Bullshit. Here’s the historical tax tables in 2013 dollars from 1913 to 2013: http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/fed_individual_rate_history_adjusted.pdf

            In 1963 the top marginal rate was 91% for single filers with over $1.5M income (in 2013 dollars). I did the math, and the tables are equivalent to an 80% total – not marginal – tax rate for single filers with over $1.72M income.

            And here’s the IRS report from 1963: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/63dbfullar.pdf

            From the introductory letter:
            >Attached is the annual report of the Internal Revenue Service for fiscal year 1963 describing its 100th year of operations. Noteworthy is that gross
            Internal Revenue receipts surpassed the $100 billion mark for the first time in history–reaching a total of $105.9 billion. This figure reflects the vitality of our free society, the growth of our economy, *and the high level of tax compliance of American citizens*. It is a testimonial to the honesty and integrity of our people, as well as their industry and creativity.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ caethan:

            And the result was people taking advantage of the many exemptions and otherwise hiding their income.

            Regardless of what you think the Laffer curve of actual income is, there is a very clear Laffer curve of taxable income. When your marginal rate goes up to 80% or 90%, you pretty quickly start figuring out ways to make it not taxable. Such as investing in tax-free municipal bonds, a very popular choice in that time period.

            ***

            Anyway, I can’t find the historical numbers, but even though the U.S. is near the top internationally in “tax compliance” rates, the tax rates we have now are only 83% enforced:

            Personal Income Tax Compliance Rates
            United States: 83.1%
            United Kingdom: 77.97%
            Switzerland: 77.70%
            France: 75.38%
            Austria: 74.80%
            Netherlands: 72.84%
            Belgium: 70.15%
            Portugal: 68.09%
            Germany: 67.72%
            Italy: 62.49%

            And that’s not counting loopholes (which is a major point I was making above); that’s just counting pure illegal evasion.

          • Anonymous says:

            The current immigration laws are unenforceable because they are unreasonable. They cannot be enforced because living in America is so much more advantageous than millions of them are willing to come here illegally, often at great personal risk. And because employing these workers is so advantageous to the millions of people who find it profitable to employ them.

            No. Those laws are enforceable. They even were enforced in the past, during Operation Wetback. When you start deporting illegal residents without caring to allow them to take their stuff back with them, the rest take a hint, and get out voluntarily before they can be dispossessed of their gains abroad.

          • Drew says:

            The current immigration laws are unenforceable because they are unreasonable. They cannot be enforced because living in America is so much more advantageous than millions of them are willing to come here illegally, often at great personal risk. And because employing these workers is so advantageous to the millions of people who find it profitable to employ them.

            It seems simple enough. Start auditing employers. Give large fines to the ones who don’t have their paperwork in order. This is already the status-quo in most industries.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous & Drew:

            I believe I already addressed your points:

            Sure, they could be enforced. But the human consequences would be so catastrophic that most reasonable people can see that this is not a sensible option.

            When people say “unenforceable”, they mean “not enforceable by any means the public is willing to employ”.

            We could enforce the drug laws, too. Just execute everyone who smokes marijuana. If that were done, it would no doubt radically decrease the number of marijuana users. But the cost would be so much greater than the benefit, and it would be so contrary to human decency, that you couldn’t convince the public to support such a thing, or the police to enforce it.

            We could have easily won the Iraq War if we had killed everyone in the country with nuclear weapons, and we could do the same thing with ISIS tomorrow. When people say that’s “not an option”, they mean it’s not a remotely reasonable option.

            Similarly, we could crack down on illegal immigrants in the ways you propose. But it’s so inhumane and so contrary to basic economic sense that you have widespread opposition both by left-wing civil liberties groups and right-wing business groups.

            We’re not going to round up 12 million people and throw them out of the country. Nor are we going to make them all “self-deport”. It’s just not going to happen.

      • Anon says:

        Edit: Whoops, I posted this under the wrong parent comment. It was supposed to go under Vox Imperatoris’s post at 5:30 p.m.

        @Vox Imperatoris

        The current status quo is far closer to a complete moratorium on immigration than it is to open borders.

        Is it really? I can understand why you feel that way, but I would also point out that we essentially have a de facto open borders system wherein anyone who can sneak in or overstay a visa essentially doesn’t have to worry about deportation. Deportation is pretty much exclusively enforced near the border now and among people who commit other crimes besides immigrating illegally; interior enforcement basically doesn’t exist, other than a few uncommon instances.

        Since you (I presume) want a de jure open borders system, I get why this is unsatisfactory to you. But letting people stay here who came illegally and generally not punishing them when they use fake or stolen Social Security numbers to get jobs is hard to reconcile with the position that the current system is more to the preferences of restrictionists. It seems more in the middle of what both of the fringe sides want, to me.

        In any case, gbdub described Trump as an non-“moderate”, i.e. “extreme” candidate on immigration. If you redefine him as a moderate immigration candidate on the spectrum between “deport all non-citizens” and “let everyone in”, then you eliminate his problem of “who is the moderate anti-immigration candidate (here or in Europe)?”

        Sorry I wasn’t more judicious in separating which parts of my comments were aimed at which people. I was kind of just replying to the thread as a whole. I do think Trump is essentially a moderate (albeit a moratorium-leaning moderate) on immigration. He exists and is doing very well in his bid for the presidency.

        Before Donald Trump entered the race, though, I would probably agree with gbdub that there wasn’t a moderate candidate. With the possible exception of Ted Cruz, all of the others (both in the Republican camp and the Democratic camp) seemed thoroughly convinced that illegal immigrants who are already here should be legalized ASAP, and I get the impression that some of them would be okay with substantial increases in legal immigration, even if they’re not willing to state that position out loud. I’m pretty sure Jeb Bush would like to see this, for instance.

        Amnesty, a path to citizenship, the DREAM ACT, etc. are not anything close to open borders. They are not “leaning toward” open borders. They are forms of restrictionism more relaxed than the status quo but still far more on the side of restriction.

        I honestly have to disagree with you here. I see them as being closer to open borders than to the moratorium end. This is probably because I don’t really think it matters whether immigrants are being let in legally or illegally. Our southern border is already de facto an open border. And the immigrants who choose to come here already have little chance of being deported, especially once they get further from the border and settle in to a town in the interior of the country.

        So any policy that gives these people de jure recognition of their de facto existance here in the country massively signals “open borders” to me, especially since one amnesty is usually followed by demands for more amnesties, allowing the de facto state of open borders and eventual legal recognition of those illegal immigrants to continue.

        But, once again, I do get why you don’t like it. I just don’t really agree that this is closer to the moratorium end than the open borders end. From my perspective, you guys are getting what you want (in the de facto sense that anyone can come here if they can pay a smuggler to bring them in, or can manage to get in themselves without one or on a visa), you’re just not getting immediate legal recognition of it. And a lot of the Republican candidates support speeding up that legal recognition, which I thought would appeal to you.

        I would guess your biggest disappointment here is that no one is supporting increases in legal immigration, but given how large the illegal immigration problem is and how toxic that issue has made supporting immigration for candidates, this is an unsolvable problem for now. I would also consider supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants to be pretty much the same thing as supporting more legal immigration, because it brings a huge number of migrants into the legal immigration system (though of course it differs in that they were already here while typical legal immigrants apply from their home countries and wait to be accepted).

        A “moderate” position would be something like, I don’t know, we’ll let in everyone with a college degree and go from there.

        I don’t think so. I would consider a moderate position to be something like that we should have only a small amount of unskilled legal immigration, a relatively high amount of high-skilled legal immigration, and that illegal immigrants should only be able to stay if they can press a successful asylum claim or have American-born children. This isn’t my actual position, but it seems moderate and essentially reasonable to me.

        To me, this seems moderate both in the absolute sense of being between the open borders position and the moratorium position, and is moderate among Americans (though it actually might be a bit too open-borders-y for regular Americans, but probably not by a ton).

        It doesn’t strike me as overtly restrictionist because it would let in a lot of immigrants, in absolute numbers. If you add up:
        1. Some “relatively high number” of high skilled immigrants
        2. A relatively low number of low skilled immigrants
        3. Illegal immigrants who would actually qualify for asylum
        4. Future illegal immigrants who will qualify for asylum once they get here
        5. Illegal immigrants with American-born children

        That would be a very large number. I just don’t think it’s that restrictionist, while your claim that a moderate position would be letting in everyone with a college degree strikes me as very open borders, especially since you’d presumably like that on top of all the categories I just listed above. There’s so many colleges in the world! That would be a massive, massive number of people! Especially if you let in everyone with a degree from some random degree mill in India or Nigeria (for example).

        Perhaps my intuitive sense of whether things are “open borders” or “restrictionist/moratorium-ist” isn’t calibrated right, though. I’m actually sympathetic in turns to the arguments of both of the extreme sides; it’s the middle ground (of letting people live here illegally, but neither deporting nor legalizing them) that I don’t get.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Think about it this way: current legal immigration to the US is about 1,000,000 per year. Illegal immigration adds another (using high estimates) 300,000 – 400,000 per year. That’s gross illegal immigration, not net (net illegal immigration is basically flat).

          If the US truly had open borders, I should expect a lot more immigrants. 10 million a year at least, and that’s a very low estimate. So our scale, from one side to the other, ought to consider the number of people who would be let in, ranging from zero to the number who would come in under open borders.

          That would be a very large number. I just don’t think it’s that restrictionist, while your claim that a moderate position would be letting in everyone with a college degree strikes me as very open borders, especially since you’d presumably like that on top of all the categories I just listed above. There’s so many colleges in the world! That would be a massive, massive number of people! Especially if you let in everyone with a degree from some random degree mill in India or Nigeria (for example).

          Of course it would be a massive number of people. And open borders would be a much more massive number of people than that. Therefore, letting in everyone with a college degree would be a moderate position in between letting them all in and letting no one in.

          I think maybe you are confusing what Republicans call an “open borders” position (in order to criticize it), such as amnesty, with an actual open borders position.

          The current debates are all between values much closer to the “zero” side of the scale.

          It’s just as if all the mainstream parties were debating between a 90% to a 95% tax rate, a few “communist lunatics” wanted 100%—and the libertarians are over here saying there should be no taxes at all. A “moderate” position would be like 50%.

          I honestly have to disagree with you here. I see them as being closer to open borders than to the moratorium end. This is probably because I don’t really think it matters whether immigrants are being let in legally or illegally. Our southern border is already de facto an open border. And the immigrants who choose to come here already have little chance of being deported, especially once they get further from the border and settle in to a town in the interior of the country.

          Our southern border is a “de facto open border” only in the sense that the Soviet Union had a “de facto free market”. I mean, yes, there was an extensive black market. But it seems disingenuous to describe this as a being basically the same thing as a free market economy, when it was the furthest practicable thing from a free market economy.

          There is a border patrol; they do catch people; and if you want any kind of above-board job you’ve got to prove your legal status, or else come up with good forgeries and risk the penalties. This regime of enforcement and penalties discourages most potential immigrants from coming across the border. This results in a situation more analogous to a closed border than an open border.

          For that matter, if you speed 9 mph over the limit, you will almost certainly not get penalized. Does that mean that “de facto” there are no speed limits in the US?

          Hell, even if you rob people you’re more likely than not to get away with it on any one attempt. Does that mean robbery is “de facto legal” in the US?

          So any policy that gives these people de jure recognition of their de facto existance here in the country massively signals “open borders” to me, especially since one amnesty is usually followed by demands for more amnesties, allowing the de facto state of open borders and eventual legal recognition of those illegal immigrants to continue.

          The 1986 amnesty legalized 2.7 million people. An amnesty now would legalize, what, 11-12 million? That’s approximately 370,000 a year. I don’t consider that a particularly “extreme” number.

          And if people can be “lured” in by the prospect of amnesty, that just reinforces the notion that current immigration policies are succeeding in discouraging immigrants, if a proposed change in that policy can entice them.

          • Are you sure immigration would be that high? My impression is that if people are just poor (no natural disaster or war), the default is for a small part of a family to work in the US and send money home.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz:

            If even a small fraction of all the poor people in the world send a small part of their families to the US to work and send money home, the result is a large number of immigrants.

            The US already receives over 6 million immigration applications per year. Some of those are for naturalization, which is separate, but there are about 4.5 million on the green card waiting list.

            And that’s the situation for people who are applying under the current laws for a spot as a family relative of a current citizen or permanent resident (480,000 spots) or for an employer-sponsored visa (140,000 spots). The latter are very hard to get, and most people don’t qualify for them.

            The only kind of visa open to everyone is the Diversity Visa, i.e. the “green card lottery”, that distributes 50,000 visas a year to random applicants (but not those from countries “over-represented” in normal immigration, such as China or Mexico). About 15 million people apply for that one every year (I don’t know why they’re not included under the 6 million), and that’s the people who bother doing it despite the small odds of winning.

            I would be shocked if the number of people who would immigrate to the US under open borders were less than 10 million annually.

          • gbdub says:

            You’re defining “moderate” to mean “average between zero immigration and open borders”. This makes no sense except in a mathematical sense. “Moderate” in terms of politics, should mean “somewhere approaching the average position of the electorate”. Which is “extreme” on your scale, but, well, democracies often support one “extreme” or the other.

            Anyway, if there are only 6 million applications now, why would you be “shocked” if the number of open borders immigrants didn’t almost double that number? Talking permanent immigrants here, not migrant “guest workers” or somesuch.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ gbdub:

            You’re defining “moderate” to mean “average between zero immigration and open borders”. This makes no sense except in a mathematical sense. “Moderate” in terms of politics, should mean “somewhere approaching the average position of the electorate”. Which is “extreme” on your scale, but, well, democracies often support one “extreme” or the other.

            I already addressed this in another post. If you mean “moderate” relative to the American political scene, there are plenty of moderates on immigration. For instance, most of the Democratic and Republican candidates.

            One complication is that most of the electorate knows nothing about immigration. Usually, they don’t realize the current regime is as restrictive as it is. They think there is some kind of “line” to get in, which most people can qualify for, and that you can eventually get in that way but illegal immigrants “jump the line”. That’s…not true at all, since most illegal immigrants are excluded under every category of visa.

            Anyway, if there are only 6 million applications now, why would you be “shocked” if the number of open borders immigrants didn’t almost double that number? Talking permanent immigrants here, not migrant “guest workers” or somesuch.

            Because those are the ones who qualify for the open spots under the current rules. Overwhelmingly, they are brothers, sisters, etc. of current citizens. Most people in the world are not close relatives of US citizens.

            Also, as I said in the post, 15 million apply every year for the “green card lottery”. And most people don’t bother doing that because you have less than a 1% chance of winning.

          • @Vox:

            The numbers you are citing represent an accumulated demand from many years of restriction, not an annual demand. I don’t know if your ten million is high or low for the number who would come each year.

            @Nancy:

            I think the pattern in the period of effectively free immigration before and after WWI (except for orientals) was that a small part of family comes over, gets established, sends money home, and eventually arranges for more members of the family to come. Looking at my parents’ autobiography that seems to have been the pattern for their parents’ families.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            World population is 7.3 – 7.4 billions. The first world is 1.0 – 1.2 billions depending on how you count. This leaves about 6.1 – 6.4 billions people in second and third world countries. Even if only a small fraction (10% – 20%) of them would migrate if allowed, and even if they would distribute uniformly in first world countries (in practice they don’t: e.g. Germany has more immigrants per capita than Italy), how many of them would enter the US?

    • Chalid says:

      Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been my first thought if he were eligible.

    • CatCube says:

      We’ll see how he does in the general. I won’t be pulling the lever for him, and that’s with him running against an outright criminal.

      It’s better for conservatism for the Republican party to be in the wilderness than for the nominal rightist party to become what Trump is talking.

      • hlynkacg says:

        If Sanders is the Dem’s nominee, I might just agree.

        But if given the choice between Trump and Hillary I’m voting for Trump in a heartbeat.

      • suntzuanime says:

        If conservatism didn’t want this to happen, they shouldn’t have pushed a disastrous war in Iraq or trickle-down tax cuts for their wealthy pals or amnesty for illegal immigrants in the midst of unemployment or etc.

        At some point you lose the Mandate of Heaven, and a new ideological dynasty comes to power.

        • hlynkacg says:

          I would debate the Iraq comment.

          As for the rest, I would suggest that TARP, taxes, and immigration are why “the median Republican voter wants the Republican Party dead”, as you put it,.

          • Anonymous says:

            I would guess they want the Republicans dead because the Republicans have been so utterly incompetent at the culture wars.

          • Frog Do says:

            Guns and abortion seem to hold up pretty well.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not sure “we still have X and Y, but lost almost everything else” feels like a “win”.

            The gun part is for the most part the uncompromising attitude of the NRA post-takeover by extremists, rather than Republicans, too.

          • hlynkacg says:

            If you think the NRA are “extremists”, you haven’t been paying attention.

            In order to be “uncompromising” you must first be offered a compromise.

          • Anonymous says:

            I did not mean to imply that I consider the NRA’s extremism to be a bad thing. Extremism in of itself is not good or bad. They have the right attitude in current circumstances.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Fair enough, I guess I just gotten so used to encountering the “why wont those ignorant fuckwits in the valley adopt our obviously superior urban lifestyle” line of reasoning that I’m now automatically on guard for it.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @Frog Do: How is abortion “hold[ing] up pretty well”?

          • Frog Do says:

            One is allowed to be anti-abortion publically without fear of losing one’s job. It is acceptable for one to be conflicted on the issue.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Frog Do, in other words, they haven’t totally been defeated on abortion like they have on homosexuality. That’s different from “holding up pretty well.”

          • Frog Do says:

            They would have lost guns if the NRA didn’t pull a coup and hardline their politics, and the unification of Catholics and Protestants was a great victory. They’ve also pretty competantly delegitimized the federal government.

            But I am a conservative, there’s only ever “losing” and “not losing”. “Winning” and “losing” is already a pretty progressive frame.

          • NN says:

            @Frog Do, in other words, they haven’t totally been defeated on abortion like they have on homosexuality. That’s different from “holding up pretty well.”

            I’d say that the anti-abortion movement is holding up pretty well considering that their legislative goals were rendered impossible by the Supreme Court more than 40 years ago. Despite that, they’ve managed to pass numerous regulations that have made it increasingly difficult to obtain an abortion in recent years in large parts of the country. For example, there is only one abortion clinic in South Dakota. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, at least 4 states would immediately criminalize abortion, and plenty more would surely follow.

            Public opinion polls, meanwhile, show no clear trend on the abortion issue over the past few decades, so they’re at least holding steady in that arena.

            If we restrict our perspective to “the last 20 years in the culture wars,” I’d say that the anti-abortion movement has done pretty well, all things considered. Though like with guns, this is due more to successful lobbying by interest groups rather than any successful efforts on the part of the Republican establishment.

          • Frog Do says:

            What part of the Republican establishment is separate from its’ lobbying groups? Honest question.

        • Alraune says:

          At some point you lose the Mandate of Heaven

          Interestingly, events suggest that the MoH rested in the media as much as the party. And, yes, they’ve lost it too.

        • CatCube says:

          And that may be, but Trump isn’t the one who’s going to fix most of them. Trump is one of the biggest sucklers at the teat, was a major Democratic donor, abused eminent domain with abandon, supports Planned Parenthood, etc.

          The immigration thing and the fact that he’s a raging asshole are the only reason that the left started freaking out about him. Then, because the left started freaking out, a bunch of stupid people on the right went, “Buddy!” The “right” party is on the verge of nominating a middle-left candidate. Being an asshole doesn’t make you a conservative, despite that being a leftist strawman–and, as it’s become disappointingly clear, a huge chunk of the nominal “right” seems to think so, too.

          He won’t give us the deportations. He won’t have the support necessary in Washington to do it. I might be able to hold my nose and vote for him if I thought that was really in the cards. However, he’s going to irk me as much as Obama on most of his stated policy positions, and not give me the few things I might agree with. Plus, he’s vulgar through-and-through to boot.

          EDIT: Added the last sentence and second clause of penultimate sentence a minute after posting.

          • Also, I assume he has no way to get Mexico to pay for the wall. Then what?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Nancy, have you looked into how he plans to make them pay? He’d deduct it from our foreign aid to Mexico, and impose a new tax on wire transfers to Mexico. You can definitely argue about whether that could get through Congress, but it’s possible.

          • Evan, thank you– I’d just seen his claims that he could do it, and no mention of the details.

          • John Schilling says:

            Our total foreign aid to Mexico is less than a billion dollars a year, and taxes on exporting anything from any of the United States to anywhere are specifically prohibited by Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution.

            Also, Halawa is totally a thing and the Mexican diaspora knows about it. Try again, Donald.

          • Nornagest says:

            Halawa is totally a thing

            The one in Hawaii?

          • John Schilling says:

            Yes, but also Hawala. As are spell-check and autocorrect systems with curiously narrow tolerance for loan words…

          • Nornagest says:

            That makes more sense.

          • Anon says:

            @John Schilling

            Do remittances count as an export from the U.S. to the destination country? And if so, do they still count if the sender in question wasn’t legally authorized to be earning money in the U.S. in the first place?

            This isn’t rhetorical, I genuinely don’t know the answer to these questions, and I was just curious if you do.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            I’ve been wondering who Trump was going to hire to build (and maintain, and man) his wall, and what wages he was going to pay them. Why sneak into the US illegally, with that kind of job hiring right at the border? (Smart businessman….)

          • Theo Jones says:

            @Anon
            Ignoring the trivial case where the method of accounting considers the money a “good” being exported, its not directly an export, but remittances increase exports roughly symmetrically to their value.

            Imagine you are a Mexican who receives a remittance. The first thing you are probably going to do with it is trade the dollars for pesos. This will result in the adjustment of fx rates such that imports from the U.S look more favorable. And thus Mexico will import more, and the U.S will export more.

            The case where the dollars are directly spent (such as in dollarized economies like Guatemala) , is a bit more complex. In this case it depends in part on whether the economy receiving the remittance is at full employment or not.

          • John Schilling says:

            Do remittances count as an export from the U.S. to the destination country? And if so, do they still count if the sender in question wasn’t legally authorized to be earning money in the U.S. in the first place?

            IANAL, so I’m not certain there isn’t some technicality(*) associated with a wire transfer that would disqualify it as an “article exported from any state”, which is the constitutional definition.

            However, physical exports of cash would be on more solid ground, and I am confident that taxing exports of e.g. gold bullion would right out. I am equally confident that if it comes to that, the US market would be quickly saturated with gold-to-Mexico transfer services and the Mexican market with cash-advance-on-the-gold-we-just-verified-is-in-the-pipeline services. Probably coordinated through clearinghouses in third countries, just to be safe, and in partnership with e.g. Western Union and all the other usual players.

            *Beyond mere insubstantiality, which I am pretty sure isn’t legally relevant

          • @ CatCube :

            The immigration thing and the fact that he’s a raging asshole are the only reason that the left started freaking out about him. Then, because the left started freaking out, a bunch of stupid people on the right went, “Buddy!”

            What, Trump won most of the Super Tuesday primaries because “the left freaked out” about him?

            To put it as politely as possible, I think you assign way too much power to “the left” in Republican politics.

            If being hated by the cultural left was such a powerful asset, Rick Santorum would be the front-runner. If being hated by the economic left was so powerful, it would be Scott Walker.

            It’s really interesting to conservatives and Republicans (e.g. Ross Douthat) struggling to find a way to blame liberals for the rise of Trump.

            Sorry, guys, he’s all yours. It’s your voters who packed his rallies and gave him victories in state after state. It’s your candidates who could not bring themselves to confront him.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Larry Kestenbaum – “What, Trump won most of the Super Tuesday primaries because “the left freaked out” about him?”

            Pretty much, yeah. I went from 100% despising Trump to smiling every time I hear his name, overnight, without hearing a single second of his speeches and without seeing one of his talking points, based entirely on his ability to sustain his campaign in the face of hatred from the media and the republican establishment. His ability to confound and infuriate people I despise and fear is literally the only thing I like about him. The moment he loses (which seems pretty inevitable in the general), I am certain I will go back to considering him a walking eyesore.

            Please bear in mind that, in the following, “you” refers to Democrats/liberals/blue tribe generally, and “we” refers to republicans/conservatives/red tribe. This is a description of the visceral “feel” I get, not the positions I support intellectually, and I freely admit that much of the following is highly uncharitable, of dubious rationality, and generally not very nice.

            “To put it as politely as possible, I think you assign way too much power to “the left” in Republican politics.”

            I just got back from a lunch spent trying to explain this to a close Democrat friend of mine. Neither of you appreciate what losing the culture war feels like, viscerally speaking. We know that you really do deep down think we are all Nazis, that you do not intend to ever live in peace with us, and that you are almost certainly going to win for the foreseeable future. This is not about policy any more, or who controls congress or the senate or who gets to pick the next few supreme court justices. We don’t care, because we believe we have already lost those fights where they actually matter. What matters is the fight we are actually in right now, which is the social fight, and that is where Trump delivers value. To quote someone else in this thread:

            “Actually, I think Red Tribe is beginning to gain status independence. Then we’ll see the real fireworks.”

            Status independence is what Trump delivers. That is pretty much all he delivers. He’s so far left on most issues he’d be a laughingstock as a republican nominee in any other situation, but your people hate him and he thrives, and that means we might be able to as well.

            Rick Santorum and Scott Walker cannot do what Trump does because they are losers, still invested in playing a rigged game when we’ve already decided that the correct move is to flip the table. They are worse than useless to us.

            I honestly have no idea what percentage of Trump’s supporters are coming from my end of the spectrum, and what percentage just really want a border wall and no more muslim immigrants. I think the percentage of people like me is significant, though, and it’s probably the core that got Trump his early momentum.

            [EDIT] As the man says, “now, stop thinking like a Trumper.”

            Is the above smart and/or useful? Maybe, maybe not. I do not think President Trump actually has the power to seriously unhinge our way of life. That’s part of the problem in the first place: The system has too much inertia and too many failsafes for any one president to make more than minor shifts in the way things are going. Trump appears to be one of the least interventionist candidates in the field, so I’m not worried about him starting wars. I think he’s a raging asshole, not actually crazy or stupid. It doesn’t matter much whether the Supreme court majority that methodically turns the law against us is made of five members or nine; it’s durable and inevitable anyway, and if it can be rolled back, it won’t be by playing the Presidential lottery and then doubling down on the SC Justice lottery. Hillary is a soulless, narcissistic, machiavellian schemer, pretty much just like Trump, so there’s not much to fear there. What’s the downside, again?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ FacelessCraven:

            Where the hell do you live, that you exist in a constant state of fear and persecution for being “red tribe”?

            Move to Alabama or something, if you’re that upset. You’ll fit in. It’s not a bad place to live.

            As a “grey tribe” native of that state, I was explicitly advised by my father not to publicly identify as an atheist, in order not to jeopardize my job prospects. So anti-“red” discrimination shouldn’t be a problem for you.

            (Not that I ever actually felt threatened or excluded for being an atheist, myself. It’s not something that comes up much. People ask where you go to church, as a casual conversation-starter. You respond: “I don’t really go to church.” No questions asked.)

          • Adam says:

            Or come to Dallas. It definitely feels weird to see these culture warriors talk about how despised they feel. Either you live in San Francisco or Seattle or spend way too much time in a bubble of social media dominated by the type of people who live in San Francisco and Seattle. It’s not like that in most of the country.

          • blacktrance says:

            Not that I ever actually felt threatened or excluded for being an atheist, myself. It’s not something that comes up much.

            When I was growing up in small-town Oklahoma, my family briefly had a cleaning lady who was a local. She once asked my mom where we went to church, who answered that we’re atheists. Her response: “But you’re such nice people!”

          • eh says:

            @Vox: Moving is hard, changing careers is harder, and changing friends and family can be emotionally catastrophic. FacelessCraven is presumably stuck between remaining totally silent, moving, or becoming the next Brendan Eich, which would make them feel pretty persecuted.

          • John Schilling says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            Neither of you appreciate what losing the culture war feels like, viscerally speaking. We know that you really do deep down think we are all Nazis…

            I’m reddish-leaning Grey; I know what it’s like to lose a culture war. And I’ve never thought that Red Tribe was really all a bunch of Nazis. But that sentiment is starting to grow on me – and I’m hearing the same from a lot of otherwise solid Red Tribe colleagues.

            Objectively, yes, we know that the Trumpists are a very small fraction of Red Tribe. But you all are supporting a man who is at this point indistinguishable from a Hitler or a Mussolini or a Napoleon, who is saying the same things they did for the same reasons and with the same level of credibility. And you’re supporting them for the same reasons that people supported the original Hitler et al, and with the same lack of concern for any consequences beyond your being able to stick it to people you hate. You have good reason to hate these people, as do I – and some of them I genuinely do hate. But the German people of 1930 had good reason to hate the corrupt leadership of the Weimar republic. And the Nazi Detectometer I have calibrated against these and other historic examples is reading well into the red at this point.

            …that you do not intend to ever live in peace with us, and that you are almost certainly going to win for the foreseeable future.

            I’m reddish-leaning Grey; I don’t expect to win for the foreseeable future. But the bit where I live in peace with people who failed to go Nazi only because there weren’t enough of them to put the Nazis in power this time around (and because really, Trump is more of a Mussolini than a Hitler), that’s going to be hard. Rebuilding all of the genuinely good things that you have been trying to defend, because you insisted on lashing them to the catastrophe that is Donald Trump, that’s also going to be hard. Can we at least count on you to do your share?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @John Schilling,

            I don’t mean this as an attack, but have you considered that your attitude here is why American conservatives have consistently failed to conserve anything?

            Letting the Democrats wave the bloody shirt and being cowed by comparisons to the KKK or Nazis has cost the Republicans issue after issue. Trump would make a lousy president, that’s obvious, but at least he isn’t jumping at the shadow of a man who’s been dead for seventy five years. If his “I’m rubber you’re glue” strategy pays off in the general election, or even just gets him the nomination, people might wake up and realize that being called a fascist doesn’t actually mean anything.

            Trump isn’t going to burn down the country, he won’t even singe the GOP establishment in all likelihood, and he isn’t going to make America great again either. But his campaign just might open the door for people to speak their minds without fear of becoming radioactive pariahs for it.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @John Schilling

            But you all are supporting a man who is at this point indistinguishable from a Hitler or a Mussolini or a Napoleon

            I’d like to see you unpack that a bit because it sounds nuts to me, but you’ve got a lot of “not a nut or alarmist” points to spend. I don’t see Trump planning to exterminate a portion of the population, or launch a full-scale invasion of the rest of the world (well, at least no more invasions than any other president in recent memory). I just see a blow-hard, with basically Democratic positions, excepting the one heterodox view on immigration.

            From my perspective, Sanders is the scary one. In his debate with Hillary, she aimed to demonstrate that she knew her policy stuff and Sanders didn’t. Sanders’ entire message was “I hate the people you hate” (he talks about bankers and the Kochs the way a religious man might speak of the Devil). I think Sanders and Hillary both accomplished their aim; I’m not sure Hillary chose the right target to aim at. Sander is all the more worrisome because his brand of hate is not called out.

            Trump’s message is closer to “the people who hate you hate me, too,” which is an important difference, even if it can easily morph.

          • Matt C says:

            > But you all are supporting a man who is at this point indistinguishable from a Hitler or a Mussolini or a Napoleon

            Trump seems like a nastier and more demagogic version of Hulk Hogan or Arnold Schwarzenegger, cashing in on celebrity, braggadocio, and voters’ disaffection with the establishment.

            I can understand being put off by him, but I don’t see this idea that he’s going to destroy democracy in the US. He’s running for president, not organizing the masses for revolution. He is one guy, pretty much running his own show. Even if he gets elected, the damage he can do is limited.

            If he was leading an actual party with a few million enthusiastic young people, passionate about the future of their country, also known for occasional unfortunate alleged incidents of violence, that would be pretty scary. But he isn’t. Neither is anybody else, yet.

            I do think the electorate’s taste for Trump and Bernie, taken together, is scary. The guy who comes later, the guy who can unite all the young authoritarians under one tent, well, I hope he doesn’t happen.

          • Me:

            Me: “What, Trump won most of the Super Tuesday primaries because “the left freaked out” about him?”

            FacelessCraven:

            Pretty much, yeah. I went from 100% despising Trump to smiling every time I hear his name, overnight, without hearing a single second of his speeches and without seeing one of his talking points, based entirely on his ability to sustain his campaign in the face of hatred from the media and the republican establishment. His ability to confound and infuriate people I despise and fear is literally the only thing I like about him.

            The people who are really freaking out about Trump are the likes of Mitt Romney, David Brooks, Mitch McConnell, Joe Scarborough, Paul Ryan, etc., etc.

            Possibly you hate Mitch McConnell as much as I do, but I don’t think he counts as part of “the left”.

            Meanwhile, among the Blue Tribe politicos I know, a good plurality of them are just delighted to see Trump stomping all over the Republican field. Most Democrats are positive that Trump has little or no chance of winning the White House, so his march to the nomination is an unexpected and welcome gift.

            As one said to me today: “Trump is terrible for the country, but great for Democrats.”

            In the normal course of American politics, the White House swings between the parties, eight years of one party, eight years of the other. This happens for all kinds of built-in structural reasons as well as the shifting tides of public opinion.

            So 2016 was going to be the Republicans’ year, and the primary process was expected to select which Republican would be in charge of the Executive Branch for the next eight years.

            A nominee like John Kasich would have made mincemeat of any Democrat. He would have carried Ohio and most other purple states, and probably helped Republicans hold the Senate. Marco Rubio might have done almost as well, in a different way.

            The eager anticipation of the Republicans was plain. The new president would have advanced the careers of hundreds of ambitious Republicans, people looking to be federal judges and ambassadors and U.S. Attorneys and so forth. Conservative ideas would have held sway, in federal agencies, Congress, and the Supreme Court.

            Then Trump came along, snatched it away, and handed at it to Hillary Clinton. The howls of outrage you hear are from the people whose dream was stolen.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Vox – “Where the hell do you live, that you exist in a constant state of fear and persecution for being “red tribe”?”

            America. Specifically, the internet. I earn my living making video games. My career long-term requires not being hated by large chunks of the public.

            “Move to Alabama or something, if you’re that upset. You’ll fit in. It’s not a bad place to live.”

            Sure, move to the sticks, maybe get a job pumping gas. That’s an acceptable job for people with the wrong opinions, right? Just so we don’t aspire or anything.

            To be clear, I do not fear for my job all that much. I do not use social media, this is the only forum I participate in, and I make a point of keeping my political views to myself around others. Most days, I’m able to believe that the culture war is winding down, that better days are ahead. Unfortunately, today I spent lunch listening to my moderate-liberal democrat friend defend at length his views that society really can’t function without persecuting non-conformists, and there’s nothing really to be done about it, so I’m a little cranky.

            @John Schilling – “But you all are supporting a man who is at this point indistinguishable from a Hitler or a Mussolini or a Napoleon, who is saying the same things they did for the same reasons and with the same level of credibility.”

            Really?

            I don’t mean that dismissively. A year and a half of reading your posts here have left me with a great deal of respect for your opinions and insight. Do you honestly feel that Trump is even remotely in the same league as the above?

            “And the Nazi Detectometer I have calibrated against these and other historic examples is reading well into the red at this point.”

            How so? Let’s say Trump wins the presidency, and he’s actually a monster and not just a spray-tanned clown. How does he go about actually getting us from where we are now to some seriously bad outcome? How does he get the executive bureaucracy to back his ambitions, much less congress and the courts? Napoleon had the French Revolution, Hitler and Mussolini had shattered states following World War 1. We have the most prosperous country in the world, with a society that is pathologically obsessed with preventing the exact sort of tyrant you’re worried about.

            “Rebuilding all of the genuinely good things that you have been trying to defend, because you insisted on lashing them to the catastrophe that is Donald Trump, that’s also going to be hard.”

            What genuinely good things? What do you see at stake here?

            @Larry – “Possibly you hate Mitch McConnell as much as I do, but I don’t think he counts as part of “the left”.”

            Indeed. Hence the “republican establishment” part.

            “The howls of outrage you hear are from the people whose dream was stolen.”

            Let ’em scream. As noted above, I’ve fully expect a Hillary victory since fall of last year.

            [EDIT] – I would like to apologize for any offence caused by the above. I’m not sure the insight it offers was worth channelling the vitriol.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Larry K.
            Then Trump came along, snatched it away, and handed at it to Hillary Clinton. The howls of outrage you hear are from the people whose dream was stolen.

            Though I agree about the eight year swings, more likely no Republican more credible than Trump wanted to run against Hillary. 😉

          • onyomi says:

            I seriously doubt that Kasich would have had a better chance at beating Hillary than Trump.

            As for the dreams of the Republican establishment people waiting for their turn: the Republican rank and file hates those people because they live posh lives hobnobbing in DC while never doing anything they promise.

          • Anonymous says:

            >Meanwhile, among the Blue Tribe politicos I know, a good plurality of them are just delighted to see Trump stomping all over the Republican field. Most Democrats are positive that Trump has little or no chance of winning the White House, so his march to the nomination is an unexpected and welcome gift.

            Just as the Republican establishment is not the same as the base, the same applies to Democrats. And the Democratic base seems to hate and fear Donald Trump like no one else.

          • I’m worried about a President Trump because he doesn’t care what he says– it’s not just that he has a very considerable mean streak, we have a sufficiently orderly system that people need to be able to rely on what he says.

            Imagine wars being run by someone who has no idea what he’s doing and keeps changing his mind.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            I seriously doubt that Kasich would have had a better chance at beating Hillary than Trump.

            In polls asking about hypothetical head-to-head match us, Trump mostly loses to Hillary, while Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich all win. Kasich in particular destroys her.

            Curiously, all of them (Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich) lose to Sanders.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Jaskologist:

            I’d like to see you unpack that a bit because it sounds nuts to me, but you’ve got a lot of “not a nut or alarmist” points to spend.

            A reasonable request, and I hope I can live up to your opinion of me. This will, unfortunately, be longer than my usual post.

            I don’t see Trump planning to exterminate a portion of the population, or launch a full-scale invasion of the rest of the world (well, at least no more invasions than any other president in recent memory).

            You didn’t see Hitler or Mussolini planning to do those things ca. 1930, either. In hindsight, you can find the foundations of the Holocaust in e.g. Mein Kampf, but only the most careful and foresightful readers caught that at the time.

            Hitler’s message regarding the Jews et al at the time he was running for election was essentially, “These are Not Our Kind, and they are selfishly causing great harm to Real Germans. We need a strong leader who will put them in their place, preferably far from here, and only then will things start to get better for us”. That’s the same message Trump is selling w/re Mexicans and Muslims. Trump and Hitler alike, at election time, sold their followers the impression that once a Strong Leader laid down the law, the undesirables would go away on their own – or at least settle down to be obedient menial laborers supporting the national cause. That was as unrealistic in 1930 as it is now.

            And Hitler wasn’t openly proposing to invade anybody in 1930. Mussolini I think was, but only in the name of still-quasi-respectable European Colonialism. Hitler’s shtick was territorial revanchism by fiat. Germany had been wrongly stripped of lands that were rightfully German, and had the right to reclaim them. And Germany’s neighbors were spineless cowards, so if a Strong Leader simply demanded these lands back, well, maybe there’d be an “invasion” in the sense of German troops having to march over a line on a map, but not in the actual fighting-a-war sense. Up to a point, he was right about all of that.

            Trump’s shtick, befitting his background as a business tycoon rather than a war hero, is economic – but otherwise a strong parallel, with only slightly less potential for violence. Economic revanchism – our allies abroad owe us $$$ for the military protection we provide, the Mexicans owe us a wall against the immigrants they insist on providing, and we won Iraq’s oil fair and square so it should be ours now. Plus some trade wars. And once a Strong Leader lays down the law, the spineless cowards will give us what we deserve. Again, up to a point, that’s not wrong. A president who really wants to go there, can probably squeeze another $10 billion or so out of Japan to support American troop deployments.

            Beyond a certain point, Trump is proposing an international protection racket and saying our kneecappers will be so formidable that everybody will just pay up.

            I just see a blow-hard, with basically Democratic positions, excepting the one heterodox view on immigration.

            Beyond the various object-level debates, look at the big package. Trump is the Strong Leader who is going to come in from the outside and clean up the Corrupt Political Establishment that was utterly failing to serve popular interests. So were Hitler and Mussolini and Napoleon and all the rest, and the political establishments they “reformed” were corrupt failures. The nation is in a persistent economic decline, and the Strong Leader will bring growth and prosperity. Under the Strong Leader, we are going to Win, Win, Win. There’s going to be lots of Winning (only losers ask about the pesky details).

            Trump’s message is closer to “the people who hate you hate me, too,”

            That, also, was part of the standard fascist playbook, as is the uncomfortable cult-of-personality bit.

            Which brings up the parts that are conspicuously missing. Starting with anything beyond the singular Great Leader. Communism, at least, wasn’t dependent on Marx or Lenin or Stalin or any other single man. The Nazis without Hitler would have been nothing. Trump without Trump is less than nothing.

            So, no bureaucratic machinery to carry out the Great Leader’s will. Trump, like Hitler and Mussolini and all the rest, has shown great contempt for the existing bureaucracy, and to be fair it’s a pretty contemptible bureaucracy. But with that contempt comes a lack of respect and skill that means he’s not going to be working with the bureaucracy to enact his policies. Which means, either he’s going to sit impotently in the Oval Office and admit to being a failure, or he’s going to try and break the bureaucracy and put yes-men with guns in its place. At least with previous fascists we could see who the yes-men were going to be, sort the Hitlers from the Mussolinis ahead of time.

            Contempt not just for the bureaucracy but for the legislature, check. Lack of respect for the rule of law, or even understanding of what the law is check. Promises that the Great Leader will decide on policy and everyone else will Make It So, check. Complete lack of detail on how this will actually be done, check. Hypocrisy and outright lying on a scale unusual even for career politicians, check. Threats and intimidation against anyone who speaks out against him, check.

            From my perspective, Sanders is the scary one. In his debate with Hillary, she aimed to demonstrate that she knew her policy stuff and Sanders didn’t. Sanders’ entire message was “I hate the people you hate” … Sanders is all the more worrisome because his brand of hate is not called out.

            Sanders’s hate isn’t called out because the media is on his side and the GOP, whose job it actually is to call out Democrats on their hatred, is somewhat busy dealing with hatred closer to home.

            But Sanders is a veteran Senator who has worked for decades in an environment where he can’t actually get more than a tiny fraction of what he wants turned into policy, and has to cut deals with people he hates to accomplish even that tiny fraction. And he’s done this. He knows how to play the game, and he’s demonstrated that he is willing to play the game rather than knock over the table.

            Trump, didn’t even join the game until it looked like he would get a chance to knock over the table. I hope I have done an adequate job of explaining how much of his campaign is coming straight out of the old-school fascist playbook; the frightening thing is how little we know about how much farther he is going to take it. I think he is more likely to be a Mussolini than a Hitler, but I’d rather have Sanders playing the game than Mussolini kicking over the table.

            And I don’t see a path for Trump that doesn’t involve settling for abject failure, ridiculed as one of the least effective presidents in history, or proceeding to at least the lower tiers of fascism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            As I understand it, Hitler was pretty explicit that his long-term plan involved expansion to the east, way further than anywhere that could realistically be considered historically or ethnically German.

            So, is it that accurate to say there was no way of telling that he was going to start a war?

          • @houseboatonstyx :

            Though I agree about the eight year swings, more likely no Republican more credible than Trump wanted to run against Hillary

            I think the Republicans who ran were plenty credible. The candidate wouldn’t need to be a flawless special snowflake, just someone reasonably plausible to be president.

            Morever, Republicans knew this was their year. If the cycles go along the way they tend to, the next election like this is sixteen years away. And Hillary as a candidate is weak and vulnerable, not strong or invincible. Democrats are nominating her because it’s “her turn”, the way Republicans nominated Bob Dole in 1996.

            @onyomi :

            I seriously doubt that Kasich would have had a better chance at beating Hillary than Trump.

            I have great respect for you, onyomi, but that seems just wildly wrong to me.

            As for the dreams of the Republican establishment people waiting for their turn: the Republican rank and file hates those people because they live posh lives hobnobbing in DC while never doing anything they promise.

            The “Republican establishment” is not just a handful of bigwigs in D.C., but rather a network of many thousands of people all over the country. Few of them are wealthy or “posh”. Many of them are career-oriented, sure, but I’d wager that very few of them are complete cynics. They are pushing what they honestly believe to be the best for America. And maybe they haven’t been able to ban abortion or repeal Obamacare, but they have managed to accomplish a whole lot.

            (Destructive things, from my perspective, but I would certainly never characterize them as ineffective in reaching their goals.)

            @ReluctantEngineer

            In polls asking about hypothetical head-to-head match us, Trump mostly loses to Hillary, while Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich all win. Kasich in particular destroys her.

            I like to say that data is news from the real world.

            @Anonymous :

            Just as the Republican establishment is not the same as the base, the same applies to Democrats. And the Democratic base seems to hate and fear Donald Trump like no one else.

            But what is the Democratic base doing that gets in the news? Voting for Hillary and Bernie, mainly.

            I would argue that there is considerably less distance (and hence less political disconnect) between the “Democratic establishment” and the Democratic base than there is on the other side. That’s not a slam on either one, just a reflection of the demography.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            I think John Schilling‘s fears of Trump are a bit hyperbolic, but he’s absolutely right insofar as Trump represents something genuinely outside the traditional sphere of American politics.

            It’s not his rhetoric; it’s not that he’s “politically incorrect”; it’s not that he “upsets the Left”.

            It’s that he represents European-style conservative populism, throwing out even lip service to the classically liberal ideals upon which America was founded, and which “ideological conservatives” take it as part of their mission to conserve.

            That’s what’s making people distressed: they can see that Trump is a pure populist demagogue, inclined toward authoritarianism, and without even the pretense of loyalty to America’s founding values.

            It’s true that Trump is opposed by the “Republican establishment”, i.e. the actual higher-ups in the party. But he’s also opposed by the mainline ideological conservatives, e.g. the people at National Review. Those two are not the same thing. Ideological conservatives are not the same as the Republican establishment; the former are often bitterly critical and resentful of the latter for never doing anything to achieve what they want.

            Trump appeals to that sense of “politicians in Washington are never getting us what we want”, but the “what we want” part is very different. The ideological conservatives want the Republicans to cut taxes, especially high marginal tax rates, to liberalize our healthcare and educational system, and to reform (i.e. reduce spending on, if not eliminate) entitlements. They want to actually reduce the size and scope of government. Moreover, the ideological conservatives certainly don’t want open borders, but they’d like more high-skilled H-1B visas and low-skilled guest worker programs, as well as (typically) some path to legalization.

            What Trump will do…who knows what Trump will do? He doesn’t have any sort of principled program, except that he’s going to build a wall and restrict international trade so that we can “win”. He’s going to increase entitlements and balance the budget by cutting “waste, fraud, and abuse”. It’s pure personalized politics: it’s not that we need better policies; it’s that we need Trump in office to “make deals” and “win, win, win”.

            And people are not confident that he’s going to respect America’s political traditions and separation of powers while he’s carrying whatever random whims he decides upon. His basic promise is that he’s going to deliver strongman rule.

            In that respect, he’s worse than Sanders because Sanders—no matter how bad his economic proposals might be—is not proposing to rule in that style.

            I don’t think the country will be ruined forever if Trump is elected, but there’s room for grave concern. It’s like electing George Wallace or Huey Long as president.

            ***

            There’s also the not-insignificant factor that his presidency would be an embarrassment and a national disgrace. We’d be a electing a reality-TV buffoon as our commander-in-chief.

            And from a Vox.com article (on why they think the Anti-Trump coalition won’t work):

            It’s important to remember that the NeverTrump coalition isn’t just frustrated Republican establishmentarians. It’s also professional movement conservatives who don’t feel Trump should be nominated because he doesn’t reflect their movement. For the first group, rigging the convention to reject Trump might be the way business is done; for the second group, it’s a collusion with the powers they have spent the last several years fighting against.

            That might be a trade-off the NeverTrumpers are willing to make. But it’s not clear every conservative feels the same way.

            Regardless of whether they can work together to stop him, the takeaway is that Trump has managed to piss off both warring factions here.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Another good Vox.com article about how (in their view) he’s a demagogue, not a fascist:

            Weber knew that the problem of demagogues is as old as democracy itself, and that in their recklessness they can provoke great upheaval or even civil war. True believers may be willing to sacrifice anything for their cause. But they have goals that can be obtained and values that guide how (not) to act.

            Demagogues, by contrast, are willing to do or say anything to gain office or to consolidate their power. Unconstrained by ideology, they have no concern for the consequences of their actions. Anything that serves to make them more powerful is good enough for them — even if the political system that facilitated their rise should be destroyed in the process.

            This, rather than some deep similarity to fascism, also explains the affinity between demagogues and political violence. True fascists venerate violence but also want to make it serve a purpose larger than themselves, like territorial conquest. Demagogues, on the other hand, tap into the most violent currents in a population simply to bolster their own popularity.

            In the process, they often unleash lethal damage: They wreck the informal rules of civility that democracies require to survive. Once voters are activated along violent lines and fervently believe the myths propagated by the demagogue, the dam is broken; the ordinary rules of democratic politics no longer apply, and there is no telling what might come next.

          • onyomi says:

            It’s arguable Kasich would have done better than Trump. I doubt it because Trump is so much more charismatic, but I can see the argument: he’s a centrist, broadly palatable, etc.

            The thing is, even if Kasich is better than Trump, I’m not sure why we’d expect him to do any better against Hillary than Romney did against Obama (other than the incumbent thing, which, admittedly, is a powerful force).

            Mistake or no, the GOP rank and file is tired of being browbeaten into nominating “sensible” centrists who always lose to the Dems anyway. In Romney’s case, it seems the biggest problem was lack of enthusiasm on the part of blue collar white GOP-leaning voters, who didn’t turn out. Who are those people more likely to turn out for in 2016? Kasich or Trump?

            Hillary, for good and ill, has succeeded in cultivating an air of grim inevitability, both about her nomination and her election as first female president to follow on the heels of first black president. GOP voters desperately want someone to throw a wrench in what seems to be the natural course of things, and though it may turn out to be a mistake. Trump feels a heck of a lot more like a “wrench” than Kasich.

            “The “Republican establishment” is not just a handful of bigwigs in D.C., but rather a network of many thousands of people all over the country.”

            But the average Republican voter doesn’t know that.

          • John Schilling says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            How so? Let’s say Trump wins the presidency, and he’s actually a monster and not just a spray-tanned clown. How does he go about actually getting us from where we are now to some seriously bad outcome? How does he get the executive bureaucracy to back his ambitions, much less congress and the courts? Napoleon had the French Revolution, Hitler and Mussolini had shattered states following World War 1. We have the most prosperous country in the world…

            We have a twenty trillion dollar national debt and declining labor force participation. That’s an economic catastrophe waiting to happen, on the scale of the late 1920s. It doesn’t happen because everyone involved, creditor and debtor, domestic and foreign, works to keep rolling over the debt and hoping for a miracle. If we don’t get the miracle, maybe we’ll muddle through anyway. But we get the catastrophe as soon as any major player decides to take their marbles and go home. If the Chinese or the Arabs decide that T-bills are no longer safe enough for their sovereign wealth, if American retirees start hedging their 401(K)s and IRAs with mattresses full of dollar or euro banknotes, then game over.

            Trump is, IMO, the would-be President most likely both to trigger such a catastrophe and to exploit it for personal aggrandizement. Not as part of a calculated plan to seize power, but because there is no other path for him that does not lead to abject public failure.

            with a society that is pathologically obsessed with preventing the exact sort of tyrant you’re worried about.

            If that were true, the NSA would have been under a Congressional microscope since the first Snowden release if not before. Instead, they get a blank check because terrorism.

            And enemies abroad generally, which is my second point here. We have virtually no safeguards against a rogue POTUS in matters of foreign affairs. Congress can refuse to ratify treates, but that’s it, and it’s not enough. George W. Bush didn’t need any new treaties to cause great damage to US relationships abroad, and we still haven’t recovered from that. Even four years of Trump’s glorified protection racket could leave us as isolated as China in the late 1960s; too large and powerful to either invade or ignore, but with virtually the entire world resolved on containment and damage limitation. That didn’t work out terribly well for China, as I recall.

            And if Trump wants any foreign wars, we’ve got no real defense against that either. The war powers act is a joke, Congress has all but abdicated its responsibility to declare war or not and to authorize war funding or not, and the armed forces will obey any vaguely plausible order to bomb anyone POTUS says is an enemy. Trump, I think, genuinely doesn’t plan to fight any wars with anybody, but only because he thinks everybody will surrender when he tells them to. If he has to chose between humiliating failure and war, I’m guessing he’s going to chose war.

            And universal diplomatic isolation plus wars on several fronts abroad, will give him a great deal of latitude on the home front.

            So about those “paranoid” safeguards against tyranny at home. What have you got that works against a President who rules by executive order, and why hasn’t it been deployed against either W. or Obama?

            There’s the military tradition of political neutrality and domestic non-intervention over presidential loyalty; the Army will probably disobey an order to make Trump a dictator. Will certainly do so if it’s worded so bluntly and without justification. But Trump, from the polls I have seen, has been receiving disproportionate support from the military ranks. If we are besieged by a multitude of hostile powers abroad and if Trump’s rule incites level of violent dissent at home, I am not willing to wager the freedom of the Republic on the Army’s willingness to disobey POTUS.

            Impeachment? If there’s a Trump in the White House it is because the GOP has somehow united behind #NeverHillary, in which case the Republican majority in the Senate cannot be counted on to convict until it is too late to matter and we’re down to wondering who the Army will obey. And if the plan is to impeach Trump early, then what’s the point? He’s certainly going to do impeachable things, and he’s unlikely to be swayed by the threat of impeachment as he sees his opponents as spineless cowards, so are you all really planning to elect and then promptly impeach Trump?

            Which leaves us with the obstructionist Federal bureaucracy. It has been said that the Bureaucracy will interpret a Trump presidency as damage and route around it. If so, tyranny averted (at least on the domestic front), but at the effect of a presidency as ineffective and inconsequential as that of e.g. Ulysses S. Grant.

            Meaning that if Trump won’t settle for being an inconsequential loser, he’ll have to break the civil service, using his two favorite words. Yes, it’s illegal for Trump to arbitrarily fire civil servants. And if every part of the civil service stands together on that, well, OK, we’re back to Trump as an inconsequential loser. If he can find any part of the civil service whose interests align with his willing to back his play, especially one of the men-with-guns parts (and that’s pretty much all of them these days), then he can start evicting or arresting the most recalcitrant civil servants on, er, Trumped-up charges. Probably wouldn’t even need a Stalinesque purge, just a few conspicuous examples pour encourager les autres. Which takes us back to impeachment, or forward to a civil service of Trump yes-men. Which am I supposed to be comforted by?

            The three most plausible scenarios I see for a Trump presidency are: ineffectual loser who discredits the GOP for a generation, impeached crook who discredits the GOP for a generation, and Mussolini-level tyrant who discredits the GOP forever. Small possibility of a Hitler who renders all prior political considerations irrelevant.

            Against the up side of being able to see the look on liberal faces as the horror sinks in? Not even close to being worth it.

          • Anonymous says:

            >The thing is, even if Kasich is better than Trump, I’m not sure why we’d expect him to do any better against Hillary than Romney did against Obama

            Because Republicans hate Hillary, much, much more than they do Obama. And a lot of Democrats are not to keen on her.

          • Anonymous says:

            >ineffectual loser

            What do you mean by this? Wouldn’t a president that gets nothing done an improvement over two presidents who got things done that you didn’t like?

          • John Schilling says:

            @dndrsn:

            As I understand it, Hitler was pretty explicit that his long-term plan involved expansion to the east, way further than anywhere that could realistically be considered historically or ethnically German.

            So, is it that accurate to say there was no way of telling that he was going to start a war?

            As with the Holocaust, you can find the roots of it if you look, but almost nobody at the time had that level of foresight and Hitler wasn’t campaigning on it. German expansionism was overshadowed on that front by fear of Communism; anyone at all likely to be aligned with the Nazis was expecting a war with the Commies anyway. Yay Hitler for telling it like it is, and why not keep their land if we have to fight them for it?

            And then Hitler signs Molotov-Ribbentrop, effectively defending against the Communist threat while strictly limiting German expansion in the East – at least until the inevitable betrayal, but the point is that Hitler’s public position was “Neutralize the Commie Menace” more than “Conquer Eastern Lands”.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “Yay Hitler for telling it like it is, and why not keep their land if we have to fight them for it?”

            Your previous statement
            “And Hitler wasn’t openly proposing to invade anybody in 1930.

            Hitler’s shtick was territorial revanchism by fiat. ”

            Hitler
            http://hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv2ch14.html
            — Then, without consideration of ‘traditions’ and prejudices, it must find the courage to gather our people and their strength for an advance along the road that will lead this people from its present restricted living space to new land and soil, and hence also free it from the danger of vanishing frotn the earth or of serving others as a slave nation.—
            —And I must sharply attack those folkish pen-pushers who claim to regard such an acquisition of soil as a ‘breach of sacred human rights’ and attack it as such in their scribblings.—
            —For it is not in colonial acquisitions that we must see the solution of this problem, but exclusively in the acquisition of a territory for settlement, which will enhance the area of the mother country, and hence not only keep the new settlers in the most intimate community with the land of their origin, but secure for the total area those advantages which lie in its unified magnitude.—

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            I don’t know how obscure the writings of a leader of a political movement can be considered.

            Perhaps the voters just wanted what they saw as the “good stuff” in the platform and consciously or not ignored the stuff that predicted what was to come.

            And I am probably falling into the error of seeing things in hindsight, to some degree. I find myself wondering what the general tone of political discourse in Germany was at the time.

          • John Schilling says:

            @onyomi:
            Mistake or no, the GOP rank and file is tired of being browbeaten into nominating “sensible” centrists who always lose to the Dems anyway.

            So instead you’re going to try and nominate a blowhard demagogue and possible fascist who is going to lose to the Dems anyway?

            As I believe Larry and others have pointed out, there are cycles in politics as well as business. 2008 was the year that the Republicans were almost certainly going to lose no matter who they nominated. 2016 is the year the Republicans were almost certainly going to win no matter who they nominated so long as they developed some sort of a consensus for any reasonable candidate not named Bush.

            So naturally, you all spent four years resigned to the “grim inevitability” of another Bush, looking at all the other reasonable candidates and saying “I dunno, if it’s somehow Not Bush, who cares”?

            In Romney’s case, it seems the biggest problem was lack of enthusiasm on the part of blue collar white GOP-leaning voters, who didn’t turn out. Who are those people more likely to turn out for in 2016? Kasich or Trump?

            They would have turned out for Not Another Clinton, and Not Another Democrat.

            That’s why 2016 was your year. The American electorate will grow weary of any party occupying the White House too long, and while the Democrats might have stretched things out to 2020 on their own, they’d have had to consolidate behind a reasonable candidate without the toxic name of Clinton.

            Hillary, for good and ill, has succeeded in cultivating an air of grim inevitability, both about her nomination and her election as first female president to follow on the heels of first black president.

            Thing about “grim inevitability” is, it doesn’t actually motivate supporters to vote. Just ask Jeb. You mentioned Romney and I think correctly identified the cause of his defeat. Do you not realize that Hillary is the Democratic Romney? The sensible centrist insider whom the party elite have browbeaten everyone else into nominating, whom the rank and file would rather see in office than any damn, dirty Republican but, oh, look, it’s raining and the kids are late to their music lessons and she’s inevitable whether I vote for her or not so maybe I won’t make it to the polls this year?

            But, unlike Romney, Hillary holds the second-most-toxic name in American politics. Well, OK, maybe she’s slipped to third in that category now. In any event, a name that will drive Republicans through rain, snow, sleet, or hail to vote for Not Clinton in the same election that the Democratic base will be at their least enthusiastic and everyone in between will be tired of Democrats anyway.

            All you had to do was settle on any one candidate not named Bush.
            This year, that would have been enough.

          • John Schilling says:

            @dndrsn:
            I don’t know how obscure the writings of a leader of a political movement can be considered.

            You are in a rationalist-dominant forum discussing politics, so I’m going to assume you are well informed in such matters.

            “Hard Choices”, H. Clinton, 2014
            “The Speech”, B. Sanders, 2011
            “Immigration Wars”, J. Bush, 2014
            “Stand for Something”, J. Kasich, 2006
            “A Time for Truth”, T. Cruz, 2015
            “American Dreams”, M. Rubio, 2015
            “A More Perfect Union”, B. Carson, 2015
            “Crippled America”, D. Trump, 2015

            Have you read even half of these? And I’m counting only the most recent manifesto by each candidate; they’ve all got at least an autobiography and most of them some earlier political books as well.

            The actual text of a would-be leader’s writings is usually quite obscure at the time of their election. The fact that they’ve written a book may be common knowledge, but usually what matters is the parts that get excerpted and quoted in the mass media. And as far as I know, the blatantly proto-holocaust or invade-Russia stuff in Mein Kampf didn’t get that treatment very often at the time.

            Disclaimer: Notwithstanding my Germanic name, I am not sufficiently fluent in the language to be directly familiar with the German mass media of the late 1920s, and am going on English-language historical readings here.

          • John Schilling and Vox, thank you both for the level of detail.

            My feeling– and I’m not sure this is coherent– is that I’m temperamentally an anarchist myself, but I don’t want anarchists in the government.

            Well, maybe anarchists with an attitude of “let’s take things apart carefully and in a sensible order”, but I don’t know of any real world anarchists like that.

          • The thing is, even if Kasich is better than Trump, I’m not sure why we’d expect him to do any better against Hillary than Romney did against Obama (other than the incumbent thing, which, admittedly, is a powerful force).

            You’re assuming voters are just static. They’re not! Every race is different, candidate personalities matter, the population is constantly turning over, everyone changes over time, and voters don’t all choose a candidate using the same logic.

            One election may be somewhat comparable to another, but no election is determinative of another.

            I don’t know the percentage overlap between the individuals who voted for Obama in 2008 and those who voted for him in 2012, but it’s probably closer to 50% than 100%. Look how well Hillary did in the New Hampshire primary in 2008, and how poorly she did there eight years later. Same electorate, same candidate, different opponent, radically different result.

            Or take the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections. The candidates were the same: Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson, and the outcome was the same. But there was a lot of churn: millions of voters switched sides from one election to the other.

            Or ask a random sample of voters some straightforward issue question. Three weeks later, go back to those same people and ask the same question. The correlation between the first and second answers is astonishingly low.

            See “The Paradox of Mass Politics” for much more about all this.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            Point taken.

            Possibly relevant: the vast majority of sale/distribution of Mein Kampf was after Hitler came to power, and a lot were given out for free. Anecdotally, at least, a lot of people never bothered reading them.

            Historical trivia: Hitler avoided paying taxes on the money he made from its sale.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Nancy:

            Well, maybe anarchists with an attitude of “let’s take things apart carefully and in a sensible order”, but I don’t know of any real world anarchists like that.

            Oh, how I love that thought. But I’d guess that anyone like that in the real world, wouldn’t call themselves an anarchist. Either because they expect they’d reach a point of diminishing returns and settle down to minarchism, or tactically because adopting the anarchist label would reduce their odds of being allowed to start dismantling at the top.

            (Ed: Autocorrect insists on “monarchism” instead of “minarchism”. I blame Death Eater hacktivists. But since we’re on the subject, I might settle for a good minarchist monarchist…)

          • Jaskologist says:

            This is tangential, but I think the cycle theory of presidential elections is overrated. Yes, Obama came after 8 years of Bush, who in turn came after 8 years of Clinton. But Clinton came after 12 years of Republican presidents, which came after just 4 years of Carter, and before that you have the whole Nixon thing, and then there’s an assassination, and then we’re so far in the past that it’s a foreign country.

            So we’ve really only seen this cycle happen twice, it’s just that it was the two most recent times.

            (Control of congress changing hands is also a new thing which only started with Clinton.)

          • onyomi says:

            I think all the comparison of Trump to Hitler is way overblown and is actually part of why he’s doing well: people are tired of being called Nazis just for wanting an immigration/labor policy that will favor Americans who are already here (and I, personally, am in favor of much more liberal immigration policy, so it’s not like I’m with Trump on this one).

            The far better comparison is to Arnold Schwarzenegger: the manly celebrity who claims to be above it all because of outsider status and who will sweep in to clean up the mess made by all the ineffectual girly men running the government. And if he becomes a failure, it will probably be in the same sorts of ways Schwarzenegger was: i. e. underestimating how difficult the consensus-building part of politics is.

            That said, Trump legitimately has more negotiation and consensus-building experience than Schwarzenegger ever did, though I do remain generally suspicious of the transferability of business and political acumen.

            If he sucks, it will be Schwarzenegger suck, not Hitler suck.

          • Protagoras says:

            @onyomi, I thought Schwarzenegger was a successful businessman as well as actor. And without the massive inheritance and repeated abuse of the bankruptcy laws that got Trump where he is.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            On the other hand, Nick Gillespie makes a pretty good argument that Trump is cut from the same cloth as the Republican establishment and the crew at National Review, who are just as bad as he is:

            People—even or especially Trump supporters—aren’t idiots. They know political grandstanding when they see it, and they fully understand that conservatives and Republicans don’t really believe in the things they talk about. Or, same thing, that everything can and will change in the blink of the eye or in ways that just don’t make sense. Didn’t Mitt Romney beg Donald Trump for an endorsement a few years ago? Romney, whom every conservative news org endorsed and approved, ran for president by attacking Obamacare and the incumbent for spending too much money. He also promised to keep the parts of Obamacare “he liked” and refused to name a single big-ticket spending program he would cut or even trim. Upon becoming Speaker of the House after a million years in waiting, John Boehner was incapable of naming a single program or department he would get rid of.

            You can hear it already: But…but…but…Romney and Boehner and all the rest aren’t real conservatives or Republicans or whatever. No, that would be Paul Ryan, whose first big act as Boehner’s replacement was to sign off on a deal that increased spending on defense and social programs. Whatevs, buddy, whatevs. Conservatives and Republicans have wielded total power and didn’t just fail to do anything with it; they actively undermine their rhetoric and their credibility. And then tell you that you’re nuts for noticing.

            And now they are just coming across as bitter losers (Trump’s language infects us all) who are seeing a businessman come in at the last moment and buy up their company at a fraction of its former valuation (hey, isn’t that a good thing when Bain Capital does it? Shouldn’t we have let Honda do that to GM?). In equating Mexican immigrants with rapists and drug dealers and calling for mass deportations, Trump brought xenophobia back to the forefront of U.S. politics but National Review assails him for being soft on immigration (really: Trump obviously buys into “the dismayingly conventional view that current levels of legal immigration are fine,” say the editors). When not agitating for military intervention, The Weekly Standard has spent much of its existence denouncing China as a rogue state whose trade policies are on a collision course with U.S. interests. But when Trump runs with that argument, well, he’s got it all wrong!

            In the 2016 election season, Trump alone among the Republican candidates has brought energy and a sense of invicibility. For those of us who actually believe in limited government, reducing federal spending and debt, and getting the government out of people’s lives, this is not good. But for all the darkness of his despicable vision of immigrants (“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”), he is also optimistic even as modern-day millenarians and xenophobes such as Ted Cruz only promise endless fights on the edge of the lake of fire.

            To the extent that conservatives and Republicans are mostly complaining that Trump isn’t a real Republican or conservative, they are simply acknowledging that his policy positions (such as they are) are fully in line with whatever Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich are selling (and whatever Mitt Romney offered up in 2012). And to the extent that say he’s a “contradictory thing” who changes his position from one day to the next, well, they’re just admitting that he is a real conservative after all.

            Notwithstanding, I continue to think he represents something distinctively worse, even than the Republican establishment and its many contradictions.

          • John Schilling says:

            The far better comparison is to Arnold Schwarzenegger: the manly celebrity who claims to be above it all because of outsider status and who will sweep in to clean up the mess made by all the ineffectual girly men running the government. And if he becomes a failure, it will probably be in the same sorts of ways Schwarzenegger was: i. e. underestimating how difficult the consensus-building part of politics is.

            It helps that Schwarzenegger was limited to that sort of petty failure. As a Governor, he couldn’t single-handedly embark on a disastrous foreign policy much less start actual wars, and his potential for catastrophe on the domestic front was limited not only by the California legislature but by the Federal courts and ultimately their armed enforcers. So in that sense, it’s not fair to compare the Governator with Trump.

            But the comparison doesn’t hold even accounting for that. I was here for Schwarzenegger’s first campaign, and I don’t recall anything like the hostility towards the political establishment, of either party, that we have seen from Trump. He ran proposing to work with Sacramento to reform the state’s government.

            As a Republican he was of course accused of being a racist and a Nazi, but the charges didn’t stick because he wasn’t even remotely racist or Nazi-esque. He did not point to anyone and say “These people are the cause of our problems; we must run them out of the state before things can improve” the way Trump has – Arnold was in fact about as pro-immigration as you’ll find in the Republican party, and doesn’t seem to have had a bad thing to say about our established domestic minorities either.

            He didn’t make the sort of grand promises that Trump does, either, impossible to fulfill by any remotely legal means and yet tied to his personal ego. He didn’t put himself forward as the Great Man whose unique and indispensable personal abilities would be the salvation of the state. He promised to work towards a genuine consensus, not “everybody will agree to do what I say”. And he didn’t threaten or bully those who spoke out against him. That’s huge.

            I think you are trying to collapse a huge portion of the political spectrum into the single category of “populist outsider promising reform”, and attaching that label to anyone who runs for high office with no prior political experience. That political spectrum runs all the way from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, all the way to Literal Adolf Hitler. And, aside from being popular outsiders promising reform, everything I see puts Arnold and Donald in opposite wings of that spectrum.

            That said, Trump legitimately has more negotiation and consensus-building experience than Schwarzenegger ever did, though I do remain generally suspicious of the transferability of business and political acumen.

            Trump’s businesses operated on a larger scale than did Schwarzenegger’s, but I don’t think consensus-building was a huge part of Trump’s success in business. My impression is mostly one of his bringing overwhelming assets to the table and offering take-it-or-leave-it deals. And being willing to walk away himself when, as often as not, it all went south. For a President who will be stuck with a hard requirement to come to terms with a particular group of partners and see it through, I’m not sure Schwarzenegger’s business experience wasn’t more useful.

            And it wasn’t enough, because as you note it never is. The difference in kind and scale between the United States Government and even the largest private corporations is staggering. For Trump to say his business expertise qualifies him to be President, is as ridiculous an exaggeration as the leader of a successful Boy Scout troop to say he’s qualified to command a Marine Expeditionary Force in battle.

          • Anonymous says:

            >But the comparison doesn’t hold even accounting for that. I was here for Schwarzenegger’s first campaign, and I don’t recall anything like the hostility towards the political establishment

            Hell, he even married into it.

          • @ Jaskologist

            This is tangential, but I think the cycle theory of presidential elections is overrated.

            But it isn’t a theory, or one of those coincidential things like the correlation between the World Series and the presidential election. It’s pretty much baked in to the way things work, and the fact that from time to time a party ends up with 4 years or 12 years does not contradict or disprove it.

            The Presidency is the balance wheel of American politics. Whichever party holds the White House gradually loses everything else. Off-year elections are almost invariably brutal for the president’s party. The “outs” accumulate grievances and become steadily more motivated as a presidential administration goes along.

            Moreover, control of the Executive Branch means that your party has a huge number of positions to fill with, ideally, talented and motivated members of the president’s party. Filling all those positions with the cream of the crop takes them out of electoral politics, leaving the second string to try to hold on to the governorships, senate seats, etc.

            This applies, not just to the actual candidates, but to the people who would otherwise be advising them and managing their campaigns, but are busy with their federal jobs.

            Look around: Republicans control both houses of Congress and the state governments of all but a few states. It’s vice-versa at this point in a Republican presidential administration.

            And all those sitting governors and senators of the “out” party create a pool of talent for the next presidential race. Meanwhile, the president’s party has few experienced but undefeated contenders left to take up the mantle for the next go-round.

          • onyomi says:

            “He ran proposing to work with Sacramento to reform the state’s government.”

            I very clearly remember him repeating these words over and over throughout the campaign: “I will go to Sacramento and I will clean house.” Whatever he actually did once he got there (and I admit to not having paid much attention to his actual governorship), he definitely ran a “throw the bums out” campaign.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @John Schilling – Before getting to specific replies, a couple questions I had after reading your posts.
            Do you see the current political establishment as largely functional? Would it be worth attempting to roll it back if we had a more stable populist candidate rather than Trump?

            “If that were true, the NSA would have been under a Congressional microscope since the first Snowden release if not before.”

            I respectfully disagree. There is a crucial difference between the dangerously overgrown power of the government as a whole, which is the threat we actually face, and the threat of any single politician breaking our way of life for their own benefit. Everyone is obsessed with the later, when they should be worrying about the former.

            The creeping government encroachment we’ve suffered for the last several decades is a creation of the political establishment, and has enjoyed an unbroken advance since at least Clinton. All significant opposition, by contrast, has come from populist sources. Trump’s political capital comes from populism, and he has made a short but fiery career of antagonizing the establishment; that leaves him with little room to act in favor of advancing the establishment’s agenda and ignore populist concerns, as his predecessors have consistently done.

            The government is too powerful, but that power is arranged to the benefit of the establishment as a whole. Reducing or breaking that power would be difficult enough, and appears to require a populist president to do. Any attempt to use it for a President’s personal aggrandizement at the expense of the establishment would require overwhelming public support, which Trump is pretty much congenitally incapable of securing. Worst case, we finally get around to actually impeaching and jailing a President, which I would personally consider a minor victory in and of itself.

            “We have a twenty trillion dollar national debt and declining labor force participation.”

            Is there any reasonable expectation that either of those problems are going to get better in the foreseeable future? Personally, I doubt it. Meanwhile, the government continues to metastasize.

            “Trump is the Strong Leader who is going to come in from the outside and clean up the Corrupt Political Establishment that was utterly failing to serve popular interests.”

            …Do you agree that the political establishment is actually corrupt, that it utterly fails to serve popular interests, and that fixing this is going to require a strong outsider leader to come in and clean it up?

            “Which means, either he’s going to sit impotently in the Oval Office and admit to being a failure, or he’s going to try and break the bureaucracy and put yes-men with guns in its place.”

            Is there no room for action between the two? I’d agree that Trump is on a collision course with the bureaucracy, but that is a feature, not a bug.

            “Beyond a certain point, Trump is proposing an international protection racket and saying our kneecappers will be so formidable that everybody will just pay up.”

            This point legitimately worries me, and meshes unpleasantly with the point about our financial overhang.

            “If he has to chose between humiliating failure and war, I’m guessing he’s going to chose war.”

            I don’t see a viable war available anywhere but the middle east, and deploying troops to the middle east would be political suicide. Hillary might be able to do it, with the backing of the establishment. As a non-interventionist populist, I don’t think Trump can survive that pivot without justification on the scale of 9/11.

            “What have you got that works against a President who rules by executive order, and why hasn’t it been deployed against either W. or Obama?”

            W. and Obama were establishment creatures, who cooperated with the bureaucracy and advanced its interests. Trump is not, so using the establishment/Bureaucracy as cover is not an option open to him.

            …As for the rest of your scenario, it seems you think Trump has no actual settings between “Sulk” and “Hitler”. I find that pretty hard to believe. If it turns out to be true, the establishment will eat him alive either way, and I would consider either an acceptable outcome. I do not see him committing an impeachable offense as inevitable, and do not believe the Republican establishment would back him if he did. I do not remember us having to wait to see who the Army would obey with Nixon, and I do not think Trump will ever enjoy the level of party support that Nixon did. If, on the other hand, he and his staff manage to scrape together the political acumen to attempt governing, we might possibly see something other than more of what we’ve been getting since the 90s. Trump is actually at least somewhat incentivised to try to do a good job, and he is not incentivised to make things worse in the same exact way as his three predecessors. I would agree that he is very unlikely to be remembered as a great president, and if he by some miracle manages to win the Presidency, his win will without doubt severely damage the GOP. If I valued the GOP, that might concern me. But again, why should I? What has it accomplished in the last fifteen years?

            Let me put it simply: what does the current political machine produce that should be more valuable to me than the chance to watch it throw sparks and strip gears? Especially given that I’m pretty sure the machine wants to use me for gear grease? If I had an answer to that question, I would not like Trump.

          • onyomi says:

            I think what the political left in the US, as well as the mainstream of people involved in politics of either party fail to fully grasp is the depth of hatred much of the GOP rank and file now has for politics as usual.

            I have a number of facebook friends who like to point out repeatedly that we have only one “sane” political party in the US today. The GOP is repeatedly decried as “crazy,” “off the rails,” “unreasonable.” The Democrats are “reasonable”: they don’t want to shut down the government, dismantle the safety net.

            The thing is, the Democrats really and truly are the conservative party of today insofar as they are mostly okay with the status quo (a status quo which includes rapid, aggressive social change, as it happens). It strikes people like Larry Kestenbaum as odd, foolish: “why waste your turn gambling on a crazy person when it’s your chance to put your people into all the right places and start advancing your agenda?”

            This makes sense if you think the current system is mostly okay, but needs a little tweaking in a different direction: if you’re a mainstream GOP political creature, maybe this means slightly lower taxes, slightly more business-friendly regulations, etc.

            But the rank and file of the GOP doesn’t just think the current system needs a little tweaking. They (and I’m with them on this), hate the current system and nearly everyone involved in it (right and left) with a passion, because the net result of both parties taking turns being “reasonable” has turned out so badly from their perspective. There’s an urgency (another irony for a party labeled “conservative”) that the political left in the US does not feel or seem to understand.

            I totally agree with Faceless Craven: what has the mainstream of politics done for me recently that I should desire any of their choices more than seeing them discomfited?

            And why are the rank and file so angry? The Facebook consensus is they’re racists who want to see a black president fail who have been brainwashed by Fox News to think everything’s going to hell when actually it’s going pretty well. Or maybe it could have something to do with this?

            http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2016/03/01/20160301_obama.jpg

            But I hear there are plenty of great new job opportunities in DC…

          • Jaskologist says:

            @John Schilling

            Less an objection than an observation:

            You paint a plausible picture, but much of it boils down to “the structure is so riddled with termites that all it will take is a stiff breeze to knock it down.”

            But if that is true, then the battle is already lost, and the collapse will come, if not by Trump then by someone else. A system which Trump could topple is already too rotten to be worth preserving.

            Better it happen in my day than in my children’s.

          • brad says:

            As I said above “dangerous fools that don’t understand how good they have it”.

            The things-are-so-horrible-who-cares-if-it-burns folks should: travel the world, read some history, or heck just go to a nursing home and talk some people that remember the 1930s.

            We have 46 million of food stamps and virtually no one starving to death. There’s no way you can convince me that’s some sort of horrific factoid.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @onyomi

            Most of those graphs say nothing about the quality of the current government. The student loans graph shows a clear trend starting before 2008. I don’t know why “money printing” is deemed intrinsically bad, but in any case it has leveled out in the last 2 years. Healthcare costs have continued randomly fluctuating. “Black inequality” has continued randomly fluctuating. Median family income has continued randomly fluctuating. The increases in food stamps and federal debt, and the decreases in home ownership and labour force participation seem likely caused by minor financial problems at the time they start (2008).

            Those graphs actually made me view Obama more favourably — surely it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick out some devastating statistics out of murder rate, unemployment, GDP per capita etc., or at least make some convincing graphs by fiddling axes. The fact that this hasn’t been done suggests that your current government must have done a great job on these things.

          • Alex says:

            “home ownership” is especially revealing. Nothing could scream “bubble” louder than that graph. That graph is shocking only if you presume 1994-US was basically a third world country or something.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Brad – “The things-are-so-horrible-who-cares-if-it-burns folks should: travel the world, read some history, or heck just go to a nursing home and talk some people that remember the 1930s.”

            I do not think we are on the precipice of a serious way-of-life collapse. If we are, then I highly doubt Trump makes a difference one way or the other. Our current political establishment is not an intrinsic characteristic of our civilization, and I think it can be fought and even defeated without triggering massive disaster. “Kicking over the table” means refusing to cooperate with the political establishment, not rioting in the streets and shooting at emergency services.

          • onyomi says:

            “Those graphs actually made me view Obama more favourably…”

            I’m not sure, how, exactly, but the focus isn’t just on Obama. I think the rank and file of the GOP is pretty much unhappy with the direction of everything since Clinton, or, arguably, Reagan. Yes, all these trends were in place well before Obama–that’s exactly the problem. Whether Hillary or Rubio, we’d have to expect them to continue.

            Re. the “everything’s so bad let’s burn it to the ground” issue: I think this confuses the health of the society/economy with the health of the government. I think the society and economy are still fairly sound, albeit weakening and riddled with various contradictions, but I think the government is really, really dysfunctional?

            Could it be worse? Historically speaking, of course, it could be much, much worse, both in terms of the functionality of our society and economy and in terms of how awful our government is. We’re not living in Stalin-era Ukraine and we should be grateful for that. But could we be? I don’t think so. It’s not just one bad election standing between us and being Stalin’s USSR. Not even close.

            Obviously, if I thought there was any chance of Trump turning the US into Stalin’s USSR, I would be doing everything I could (meager though that would be) to stop him. But that doesn’t strike me as a remotely realistic fear.

            A much more realistic fear is that Clinton gets elected and all the trends I hate and that I think are slowly ruining US society continue or even accelerate. To throw a wrench in those gears I’m willing to take some level of risk, though I really don’t think I’m risking Stalin or Hitler.

            Not that I’m a yuge fan of Trump: a Trump presidency worries me a lot, but not as much as a Hillary presidency, or, indeed, a Jeb! presidency. If I got my pick of how to screw up the status quo it would be with the election of Ron Paul. But if it’s Trump or nothing, I’ll take Trump. Maybe I’ll regret it, but that’s how the risks seem weighed to me right now, keeping in mind that the current US political status quo fills me with blinding rage.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @sweenyrod,

            Most of those graphs say nothing about the quality of the current government.

            That’s actually a big part of the problem.

            We’re in, depending on how you want to look at it, either George Bush’s eighth term in office or Bill Clinton’s sixth. There have been some minor policy changes here and there between administrations but largely it’s been the same familiar hands on the tiller steering inexorably in one direction.

            And Americans aren’t having it.

            Jeb! and Hillary are both essentially running reelection campaigns promising more of the same. Is it surprising that neither party’s voters want another centrist insider in the White House?

          • Nornagest says:

            Or maybe it could have something to do with this?

            Mixing zero-indexed line graphs with non-zero-indexed ones? Burn the witch! Burn!

          • onyomi says:

            Scott Adams just put this on his blog, and it’s basically exactly what I’ve been trying to express:

            “A Trump presidency would be messy. It would certainly introduce a new type of risk that we have not seen before.

            Do you want more risk?

            Generally speaking, you want to avoid risk when things are going well and accept risk when things are totally broken. If you think the country is doing well, and will continue to do so, Hillary Clinton is an excellent choice on the left, as is Marco Rubio on the right. They will keep things mostly the same.

            But if you think government is rigged against your interests, and unlikely to improve on its own, you want a bloodless revolution. And the candidate you hire for the revolution is likely to have rough edges.”

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            I get that people hate the Republican establishment, but I tend to agree with the view expressed by D.K. Williams on Twitter:

            “Voting #Trump b/c you hate the #GOP establishment is like smoking meth & becoming a hooker b/c you hate your parents.”

          • At a slight tangent …

            I wonder to what extent the attitude of the GOP red tribe is a response to their perception of the attitude of the blue tribe to them. Reading the FB climate discussion, I see an awful lot of posts which simply take it for granted that the Republican party, conservatives, people who don’t agree with the current orthodoxy, are stupid, uneducated, and/or evil.

            Most of the red tribe isn’t reading those posts. But are they getting the same picture through other sources? How general is the perception that they are flyover country, looked down on by the coastal elites?

            If the people you see as in control not only are doing what you consider the wrong things but hate and/or despise you, it’s not unreasonable to feel a bit disturbed.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ David Friedman:
            I can’t speak for any one else, but I definitely notice it. As the old joke goes…

            Politician: Why wont these ignorant fucking slopeheads vote in their own interest?

            Slopehead: Well Fuck You too.

          • Most of the red tribe isn’t reading those posts.

            Are you sure? Red Tribe has Facebook and most likely has family members in Blue Tribe. It probably isn’t quite the echo chamber that, say, my Facebook feed is as 20-something in a Blue State. But I imagine they still hear the derision.

  4. Redland Jack says:

    I guess … Avantasia? Because The Metal Opera Part 1 is pretty catchy, despite being everything that is wrong (and right?) with Power Metal …

  5. ton says:

    Something I’ve been mulling over for a while:

    Higher IQ is correlated with being liberal.

    Having more money is correlated with being conservative.

    Higher IQ is correlated with having more money.

    1. If true, how surprising is such a triangle? Is there an upper bound on how large each correlation can be? (Obviously correlations can’t be 1, how much better of a bound can be gotten)?
    2. Are they all true?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      The correlation is the cosine of the angle between the phenomena. If we are given the angles between A and B and A and C then the angle between B and C is less than the sum. If the sum is less than 90°, then the correlation is still positive. (Here is a blog post with a picture, but you really need a 3d picture.)

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Remember: Correlations are (cosines of) angles. Express them as angles and the triangle inequality applies. So while being positively correlated is not transitive — two angles with measure less than 90° can sum to more than 90° — you can get a bound this way; if (A,B) and (B,C) are pairs each with correlation more than cos(45°)=1/sqrt(2), then A and C are necessarily positively correlated (that is to say, they make an angle of less than 90°).

    • Cole says:

      IQ correlates with social liberalism, but also correlates with economic conservatism.

      • drethelin says:

        Libertarians confirmed for smartest

        • Anonymous says:

          And the sneakiest.

        • Vaniver says:

          Yes, but this is also one of the reasons the libertarian vote ceiling is so low.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          One study actually found that Republicans are, on average, smarter than Democrats.

          The reason is that despite the fact that conservatives are dumber than liberals, libertarians are so much smarter than the other two that they drag the average up. Of course, a big part of the reason libertarians are smarter than everyone else is that you just don’t tend to become an explicitly self-identifying libertarian unless you’re intelligent enough to think somewhat independently about politics.

          I suspect communists, etc. are more intelligent than the the average conservative or liberal as well. There’s just not as many of them.

          • caethan says:

            Interesting (unconfirmed) story I heard that I have never been able to track down a source for:

            In the U.S. and Europe, atheists are on average smarter than Christians. This is pretty well documented with lots of data. The story I heard but haven’t found a source for is that apparently Japanese Christians are on average smarter than Japanese atheists, and that the explanation is that both American atheists and Japanese Christians are opting out of their society’s default choices, and that the more intelligent are more likely to do that.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ caethan:

            I heard that story, too, except it was Chinese Christians. But I could have confused it. In any case, the logic makes sense.

          • True. And the most consistent result in studies comparing IQ with political views is that those with more extreme views are smarter than those with less extreme views. So the median voter is also the dumbest voter, which should deeply trouble us all.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @caethan

            That reminded me of the same thing, although for a slightly different reason. I recall the study giving atheists a higher IQ, unless you included the people who answered “No religion” in that category, at which point the average IQ dropped like a rock. The implication being that knowing enough to call the position “atheism” was the indicator of intelligence, not the position itself.

            However, like you I can’t seem to track down a source.

          • Maware says:

            This feels like your bubble speaking, Vox. My experience is that more likely than not the average libertarian is a Ron Paul style crank who corners you in a room and opines on various libertarian policies that have no hell of a chance of working and tries to convince you of the virtues of owning an alpacca farm or buying gold kruggerands.

            The idea that libertarians are that much more intelligent than conservatives would probably be dispelled by going out and meeting them in real life.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Maware:

            This is the paper I’m thinking of, so you can take it up with the author. I don’t vouch for the methodology or anything.

            And actually, I was misremembering: it doesn’t consider self-labeled libertarians per se. It only finds that Republicans have 2-5 IQ points over Democrats, which it reconciles with the fact that IQ correlates positively with social and economic liberalism by showing the existence of a very intelligent subset of Republicans who are very socially and economically liberal.

            Also, just because people have lunatic views, doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent. That was the whole point of my argument that the correlation is less between intelligence and truth and more between intelligence and non-mainstream views.

          • Maware says:

            I’d definitely take it up with him. I don’t have faith in IQ even as a concept. How could you even quantify a 2-5 point difference in verbal ability in real terms?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Maware:

            I don’t have faith in IQ even as a concept.

            IQ tests are measuring something aren’t they?

            How could you even quantify a 2-5 point difference in verbal ability in real terms?

            You give them IQ tests and find out that the two groups score 2-5 points differently?

            This is a weird question. What if the study found that Republicans were 1/8 inch taller than Democrats? Would you ask “how could you even quantify a 1/8 inch difference in real terms?” You might not be able to tell just by looking, but you get out a ruler.

          • moridinamael says:

            @Vox Imperatoris

            I think the point is that you can measure the height of a group and compare that height against an objective metric, a metric that can equally be used to measure and compare the heights of trees and mailboxes.

            “Measuring” “IQ” is only “measuring” “something” insofar as IQ scores correlate with performance in other domains.

          • NN says:

            @caethan

            That reminded me of the same thing, although for a slightly different reason. I recall the study giving atheists a higher IQ, unless you included the people who answered “No religion” in that category, at which point the average IQ dropped like a rock. The implication being that knowing enough to call the position “atheism” was the indicator of intelligence, not the position itself.

            However, like you I can’t seem to track down a source.

            Even if that is true, that finding might not mean what you think it means. The 2015 Pew US Religion study found that a large portion of the religiously unaffiliated believe in God or some sort of afterlife, and a full 20% of them pray daily. A lot of people who answer “no religion” in surveys are spiritual-but-not-religious types instead of atheists/agnostics/ignostics. So a comparison of people who answer “no religion” with people who answer “atheist” is surely confounded in all sorts of ways.

            On the other hand, if the study compared people who answered “no religion” and said that they didn’t believe in God with people who answered “atheist,” that would be a valid comparison.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @NN

            Good point. Let’s not forget that Pew has further found that 8% of atheists believe in God (2% are absolutely certain), and 3 times as many people claim to not believe in God as claim to be atheists. The Lizardman quotient is all around us, everything is confounded.

          • Troy says:

            Interesting (unconfirmed) story I heard that I have never been able to track down a source for:

            In the U.S. and Europe, atheists are on average smarter than Christians. This is pretty well documented with lots of data. The story I heard but haven’t found a source for is that apparently Japanese Christians are on average smarter than Japanese atheists, and that the explanation is that both American atheists and Japanese Christians are opting out of their society’s default choices, and that the more intelligent are more likely to do that.

            If anyone finds data on this, I would be very interested to see it. It has indeed been my anecdotal impression that intelligence and Christianity are correlated among east Asian immigrants to North America, both first- and later-generation. I have also been repeatedly struck by how interested non-religious east Asians I speak to are in natural theological and historical evidences for Christianity, topics most American atheists and agnostics scoff at (usually without a good understanding of the topics). On average they seem a lot more open to rational dialogue about religion than most non-religious Americans.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            Because they (the immigrants) have been much less exposed to American religion so they don’t know much about it. I wouldn’t say that people who are politically involved on the left and right are great with each others arguments, but they are more aware of what the opposition believes that people who are from China. In the case of American atheists they simply don’t care about any of those things because does are second tier things and if you can’t get past the first hurdle (God’s existence) they are totally irrelevant.

          • @ Maware :

            My experience is that more likely than not the average libertarian is a Ron Paul style crank who corners you in a room and opines on various libertarian policies that have no hell of a chance of working and tries to convince you of the virtues of owning an alpacca farm or buying gold kruggerands.

            This doesn’t disprove Vox at all.

            Cranks are typically very smart people. The fact that a crank advocates policies which (you believe, perhaps rightly) have no chance of working doesn’t mean that you are smarter than the crank.

            Indeed, I am pretty sure that most of the cranks I have known and argued with are smarter than me.

            Having a high IQ does not mean you’re always correct, or sensible, or have good social skills, or that you converge on some consensus ideology. Indeed, the world’s most intelligent people have a tendency to be really weird politically.

            Years ago, a friend of mine defined libertarians as “bright people who grew up in isolation.” As adolescents, they were smarter than anyone they knew, and if they paid attention to politics, inevitably became impatient with all the lowest-common-denominator appeals and compromises with stupidity. That line of thinking can easily take a person to libertarianism.

        • Urstoff says:

          Identity politics I can get behind!

      • Dain says:

        Both equating with more ideological, or constrained, worldviews. Leadership by ideologues has terrible downsides, as it often means dogmatic adherence to certain principles and a minimizing of the Overton Window. SJWs and free market zealots are what you get, and what we have.

        Classic on the subject: http://www.criticalreview.com/crf/jf/18%201_3%20Converse.pdf

    • Coco says:

      If you think about correlations as angles, they have to add up to 180 degrees (if you assume the correlation between liberalism and conservatism is -1). So all three relationships could have correlations of 1/2 (or 60 degrees).

      • Douglas Knight says:

        They don’t have to add up to exactly 180°. They have to add up to at least 180°, but they could add up to more.

    • Jody says:

      I explain this in two steps.

      1) Greater intelligence correlates with greater social conformity (ignoring the extremes of the distributions)

      2) The dominant position of liberals in the media and academia shape the peer groups to which people tend to conform.

      • Anonymous says:

        >1) Greater intelligence correlates with greater social conformity (ignoring the extremes of the distributions)

        I’ve heard of this before – the reason for greater conformity being that the more intelligent people have an easier time finding out what orthodoxy is, so they can follow it consistently.

    • TheAncientGeek says:

      The apex of the triangle means there is a tranche of voters who are fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. They may vote for centrist parties, where one is available, they may float, or they may side with a mainstream party of the left or right, learning to live with their inievitable differences with the grassroots. Nothing very surprising there, so long as you dont assume that everyone is wedded to a left or right wing position for life.

    • Deiseach says:

      Depends on what positions you are liberal on and what you are conservative on.

      You can be socially and fiscally conservative, socially and fiscally liberal, socially liberal and fiscally conservative, socially conservative and fiscally liberal.

      Is Apple a “liberal” company? I imagine people would be inclined to go ‘yes’ given its self-image and the “openly gay CEO” etc. But I’m also pretty sure they do their accountancy the old-fashioned way and would have no problems hounding you through the courts for infringing any of their copyrights. They’re standing up to the FBI right now, and good for them, but they have no interest in overthrowing capitalism – why would they? They do very nicely under capitalism. So does that make them “right-wing”?

      So Trump having what are considered “liberal” social views shouldn’t surprise anyone. Lots of conservative or right-wing people, businesses, and parties have the same views: if you want to increase the workforce by getting more women into work, for example, you don’t want them at home minding children. So paying for contraception and abortion via health plans, and supporting Planned Parenthood, are all good things for your business, as it means you can exploit men and women to give all their time and energy to being productive and impassioned and “I love my job!” instead of having their main concerns outside of work.

      And this may come as a shocking surprise, but some right-wing and/or conservative people like sex, like recreational sex, and want to control the timing and number of any children they may or may not have. It was the Anglicans in 1930 who were the first mainstream Protestant church to permit (albeit in limited circumstances and within marriage only) birth control methods, and that influence spread over time and to other denominations.

  6. BillG says:

    A co-worker and I have an idea for a database/piece of software that is not currently available in our industry, but we feel there would be a market for it.

    The database would require significant programming and neither of us have much experience or skill with database programming. Any suggestions on resources and/or approaches toward either learning some basic database building skills or how to efficiently outsource that work?

    • Skef says:

      When you say “database”, do you mean a new database engine, or just a schema that could be used with an existing relational or perhaps object oriented database? A new engine would be a very substantial project, and anyone going down that road would most likely need a good deal of technical knowledge just to provide a specification.

      If you just mean a set of tables, indexes, queries, and updates, then that is the sort of thing you can outsource. But there are a number of different models for doing that. One is to use an object-relational front-end, which allows all the code to be in another programming language (easier to hire for). Another is to write and use SQL directly (most likely calling the SQL from a programming language). The latter is more flexible but considered to be more complicated and costly.

      A lot depends on what you’re trying to do. If it’s “simple” enough, the object-relational mapping solution to some widely-used programming language (e.g. Python with SQLAlchemy) would be a common contemporary way to go. But “simple” here really means being a good match for that model, not just easy to explain.

      So one first step might be to abstract the specifics of your industry away from what you need — if that’s possible — so you can discuss those abstract needs with someone and get a better idea of what sort of technology would be appropriate. Then you can educate yourself about that and/or outsource the work to someone.

    • dsotm says:

      Consider elaborating as much as you’re comfortable with about the idea for any meaningful input (ideas are worthless by themselves, unless they’re exceptionally good and inspire someone more motivated and better positioned than you to execute them 🙂 ). Almost any software today involves something that can be called a database, it can range from a dozens of killobytes in sqlite files used by your phone’s address book to dozens of petabytes in clusters operated by companies like facebook and amazon (with google supposedly on a scale of its own) and the range of skills and costs vary accordingly.

    • Andrew says:

      Skef here has made the major point, but seek out a software developer or database administrator that you trust, and then tell them the plan so they can evaluate the best path for you, and related costs. If you’re particularly worried, have them sign a NDA first.

  7. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    I don’t normally consume mainstream news, but I was at a restaurant the other day and I couldn’t help but notice that both the papers and the tv were covering a story about some psycho who went crazy and started randomly shooting people in Michigan. What caught my attention was the term they consistently used to refer the guy: “the Uber driver”. Of all the things they could have called him, they choose the one that would emphasize the Uber connection over and over again. Part of the media’s war on Uber?

    • Loquat says:

      The fact that he apparently was picking up Uber fares in between shooting random people is probably a big part of it.

    • Anaxagoras says:

      I noticed this too. Loquat’s theory seems reasonable, but the emphasis seemed a bit excessive. We didn’t exactly have much about “In light of the San Bernardino shootings, can we trust our Departments of Public Health??”.

      • Deiseach says:

        I think it’s part of the perceived risk of Uber: a licensed taxi driver, and especially one who works as an employee of a company, is someone who – you would imagine – can be held responsible and accountable by their employer and who has some kind of screening to get their licence and if they act weird, they get fired.

        But a sub-contractor – which is what Uber drivers are – who essentially ‘works for himself’ is pretty much “any guy off the street can do this” and that makes the notion of “any random wacko can put himself up as an Uber driver and who takes responsibilty? Not Uber!” more of a fear.

        • Adam says:

          Uber does require background checks (no idea how detailed they are), and municipalities themselves regulate who is allowed to operate a rideshare vehicle, requiring licensing of both the driver and the vehicle, but again, how detailed the inspection process is depends on the place. It’s not just anybody with a car who wants to drive, though.

          • Bassicallyboss says:

            I heard on NPR the background checks are name only, no fingerprints. But this guy wasn’t a previous offender, so a criminal background check wouldn’t have caught him.

            I don’t know what the check is like for licensed cab drivers, but I’m guessing it doesn’t include psychological screening.

          • Adam says:

            The check that Uber does is only name/SSN. What the city does depends on the city, but they are perfectly able to make the exact same requirements for ride-share permits as for taxi permits if that’s what they want to do.

    • Theo Jones says:

      The link (Scott on credentialism) is a pretty scary thing. Convinced me to switch sides on the Uber debate. Although I don’t get how to kill the shift towards credentialism. Its a pretty self-enforcing thing.

      • Fuck Uber's Haters says:

        You’ve highlighted a pet peeve of mine: essentially every public complaint against Uber applies even more strongly to existing cab companies, and nobody seems to have noticed.

        It’s insane to me that people can defend existing cab companies with a straight face. Just off the top of my head:

        * People demonize Uber as being this giant behemoth that is the final arbiter of who does and does not get to drive a taxi. But they completely ignore the existing industry. The existing industry has literal, direct control over who can drive via medallions. Further, medallions are crazy expensive ($250k in San Francisco) and no cab driver can afford that. So what happens is that taxi companies will buy medallions as investments, and lease them by the day to cab drivers. Consider the impact of that for a second. Public commentators accuse Uber of acting unethically towards drivers, because drivers don’t get guaranteed salaries but just collect a cut of fares. Existing cab companies charge drivers a daily fee for the right to drive.

        * Meanwhile, have you ever noticed how fucking racist cab drivers are? Uber sure did. Last year NYC was attempting to ban (? heavily restrict? something bad) Uber, and Uber responded with a data science study. Turns out, NYC cabs will routinely ignore calls to black neighbourhoods. Maybe there’s a good reason for this (eg fewer fares in poorer neighbourhoods) but from my personal experience, I suspect the “fucking racists” hypothesis holds. Meanwhile, Uber? When someone hails an Uber, an Uber driver picks them up. If an Uber driver rejects too many fares, they get kicked out. And we have detailed data on this. Uber expands cab access to minorities while existing cabs don’t do it (even though they’re legally obligated to!)

        * Remember that one time that one Uber driver sexually assaulted that one girl once, and the entire country’s news media flipped their shit against Uber? I don’t, because I was too busy listening to my mom sobbing on the phone about how my sister got groped by a cabbie at 3am while wasted. My sister, bless her, fought the fucker off, but ended up getting dropped off, at 3 am, in a suburb 5 miles away from home, with a dead phone. She called the police the next day. The police said “so what was his cab number”. How the fuck does she know, she was shitfaced. The cab company laughed at her on the phone and refused to look into it. Three weeks later, the guy shows up in a news article. He tried the same thing again. He got arrested. Like 6 young women came forward to say the same thing happened to them.

        Uber might be dangerous, it might have potentially unvetted drivers driving you around. But that’s what the goddamn ratings are for. If you, as a customer, get hurt or violated in any way by a driver, Uber fires that driver almost immediately. You also know who it is. Your ride history is in your phone and on their servers. They can look it up. You can find out who it is. You can take his name to the cops. You can press charges. On the other hand, apparently podunk midwest cab co will actively defend rapists and laugh at victims. AND NOBODY SEEMS TO HAVE NOTICED THIS. Note that Uber is still illegal in my sister’s city, and the city government cites safety concerns as one reason why.

        * Finally, the most important point: Uber has made cab rides cheaper and more accessible to everyone. I’m upset I even have to explain why this is a good thing, but: it’s a good thing. It means more people can take more Uber rides. It means that poorer people can use what was previously unavailable to them. It means it’s easier to get a your drunk friend to take a cab home. It means fewer people driving. Which means fewer cars on the road. Which means less environmental damage. Less money spent on cars and gas in the long run. Last time I ran the numbers, total cost of ownership of a family car is ~$5000/yr. Think of how families could use that better than on a car that sits in a driveway not being used for most of its life.

        I’m not going to tell you that working for Uber is a great thing. Because it’s not. It’s not a full time job, and if you treat it like a full time job you’re going to have a hard life. It’s entry level and essentially minimum wage work. But so what? Existing cab drivers jobs are already like this, except they need to make them full-time jobs if they want to keep driving.

        The media smears Uber with all manner of accusations. I’ve yet to hear one where Uber wasn’t doing better than existing companies. In the face of this, the vitriol that Uber suffers every day is enough to make you wonder if there really is a Cathedral out there, and why it hates Uber.

        Think about it. Lyft is a virtually identical business, and rarely gets any flak for the same terrible things that Uber does

        • hlynkacg says:

          You may want to reconsider the user name if you intend to keep posting here.

        • DavidS says:

          Confused by Cathedral reference, in that I thought Cathedral views were meant to have seeped through the comfortable metropolitan elite, not just top decision makers. And I’m definitely comfortable metropolitan elite, as are most people I know, and I don’t know anyone anti-Uber. (UK here: but we have same sorts of arguments going on)

          • transparentradiation says:

            I dont know any liberals who talk in the supervillain soliloquys SSC sci-fi conservatives channel for us. This comment falls between two.

            >”I guess I just gotten so used to encountering the “why wont those ignorant fuckwits in the valley adopt our obviously superior urban lifestyle” line of reasoning.”

            >”I’ve seen some very clever lefties on the internet assume in their arguments, from a narrative perspective, that I’d like help unpacking. Can anybody explain the following apparent contradiction? “Poverty is the primary cause of crime” vs “Rich people are mostly criminal”. ”

            Funny how the local taboo works to protect reactionary ideas from ever being critiqued here. You’d almost think it was protective and not proscriptive.
            Could two years of one-sided go-nowhere liberal bashing have been possible if this peculiar, never spelled out rule, didnt allow conservatives to always be on the offensive and never the defensive?

            Thats how ideology works. You see the taboo as a punishment. Think harder. Its a buffer. Reactionaries actually have a dog in the national fight. Unlike SJWs.
            Now more than ever its important that they be protected from critique.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I don’t think our host is attempting to shield the http://pastebin.com/aJcmErDh from criticism by banning saying their name. If it were a pejorative label applied from the outside, like SJW, that would be one thing, but it’s a name given to the movement by the founder.

            I do think our host is making a mistake with the ban. But however bad the mistake, it’s only been being made for the past few months. So, even if there had been “two years of one-sided going-nowhere liberal bashing”, it could not possibly have resulted from this ban.

            And if you do want to fight “back”, and make the next two years full of two sided going nowhere everyone bashing, it’s not like the filter is especially hard to work around.

          • Anonymous says:

            @suntzu

            Clearly, the Unmentionable Ones have discovered means to give liberals a persecution complex retroactively in the future, a la Childhood’s End.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Rationalist taboo as a concept has basically never been used well. That doesn’t really act as evidence of our host’s motivations.

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh, just use an euphemism like everyone else.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I propose a euphemism: ajcmerdh.

        • DensityDuck says:

          “essentially every public complaint against Uber applies even more strongly to existing cab companies, and nobody seems to have noticed.”

          People have always complained about taxicabs being expensive and rotten. Maybe you’ve managed not to notice, but it’s a running joke in American culture.

          The cab companies, however, don’t go around acting like they’re doing us all a fucking favor by merely existing.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            “People have always complained about taxicabs being expensive and rotten. Maybe you’ve managed not to notice, but it’s a running joke in American culture.”

            And yet, cities are banning Uber, but not banning regular taxis.

            “The cab companies, however, don’t go around acting like they’re doing us all a fucking favor by merely existing.”

            Don’t see why that means they should be banned.

          • cwillu says:

            Wasn’t it his point though that Uber is in fact doing people a favour by existing?

        • Ricardo Cruz says:

          In my country, one reason people use to argue against Uber is because it is “American competition” lol.

      • noge_sako says:

        Credentialism is a mixed bag.

        Its looking less useful then raw INT scores and for pick-up-and-play computer science programming.

        However, if something takes 6 years to work in a field, even if the field *could* train just as well and select applications just as well in 1 years (or less), its a huge job stability boon to those working in the field.

        Its no surprise that Doctors and Engineers have the most job stability. And it appears due to both 1.The difficulty of the course-work and 2. The length of job training (most states now require a 4-year bachelors or 4 years of working in the field to take the professional engineering exam)

        The credential may be useless, but farm-hands were paid in very basic wage and food, right? Might be enough to support a wife after 2 decades of saving up money from 20-40, but that’s a long time.

        • Anonymous says:

          >Might be enough to support a wife after 2 decades of saving up money from 20-40, but that’s a long time.

          Historically, the wife would be expected to work too, often as a farmhand as well. It was just during the industrial revolution that the luxury of not working appeared.

          • Nita says:

            During the industrial revolution, working-class men, women and children worked, often long hours, at a hectic pace and in hazardous conditions.

            I think you meant a much later time period — the 1950s?

    • noge_sako says:

      As a rule, assume its whatever gets enough hits that won’t get backlash. And calling it the Uber Driver is catchy.

      Or, don’t assume Malice when Money is there.

    • Poxie says:

      I’m skeptical that animus towards Uber is the major factor. The guy was driving around, doing his job, and took a couple breaks to shoot some people. I suspect a taxi driver or pizza deliveryman doing the same thing would’ve gotten pretty much the same treatment.
      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      (I also read the news coverage as being rooted in primal fears: here’s a normal guy you might normally trust with your safety without a second thought, who went totally nuts. A meter reader – or, heck, a postal worker – would provoke similar job-based classification in media coverage.

    • CatCube says:

      I don’t know that it’s any more a “war on Uber” than the term “going Postal” was a war on the US Postal Service. It’s the catchiest name for the guy.

      • Iceman says:

        An interesting thought that might be overfitting / my pattern matching gone haywire / improper application of “One man’s modus ponens…”:

        Assuming that negative representation of Uber in the media is a result of Uber being a threat to credentialism, what did the US Postal Service do to anger the Cathedral to the point where the media made “going postal” a meme?

        • Samuel Skinner says:

          According to wiki the movie Clueless popularized the phrase (it pops up in other media around that time; for example Jumanji 95 and Postal 97). It might have been inspired by the X-file episodes Blood 94.

          • Adam says:

            I was thinking when I read the earlier comment that Clueless is where I remember originally hearing the phrase. Clueless tried this with a bunch of valley slang that mostly didn’t stick, like ‘Betty’ and ‘Baldwin’ for hot chick and dude, or ‘cake boy’ for a gay man.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Samuel Skinner
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_postal
            The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were gunned down by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.
            Contents [hide]
            1 Origin
            2 Notable postal shootings
            2.1 Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986
            2.2 Ridgewood, New Jersey in 1991
            2.3 Royal Oak, Michigan in 1991
            2.4 Double event in 1993
            2.5 Goleta, California, in 2006
            2.6 Baker City, Oregon, in 2006

  8. Douglas Knight says:

    Two pieces of Toxoplasma news.

    As we all know, Toxo causes mice to be attracted to cat urine, so that they get eaten and it can get home to the cat and complete its lifestyle. Since it manipulates the brains of mice, it’s pretty easy to believe that it also affects the brains of humans, if only by accident, because it confuses human and mice brains. And since half of humans are infected, this is a practical question of public health.

    First result: Toxo makes chimps attracted to leopard urine 1 2 3. Thus it has evolved to manipulate primates and isn’t doing it just by accident. But the second result is that the claimed effects on humans don’t replicate.

    • Anon says:

      This is interesting. I used to think that the idea of toxoplasmosis affecting humans in the same way as it affects mice was kind of silly, because humans who own cats obviously aren’t feeding those cats their own bodies, so the toxoplasmosis parasite would have no way of making it back into the cat’s body to complete its lifecycle.

      But then I started thinking about it more, and now I wonder if incidents where people purposefully jump into the enclosures of large felines could ultimately be because of this.

      I have some examples of incidents of this nature that seem to have been intentional and not accidental.

      From this article about a man who jumped into a lion exhibit:

      “To enter the enclosure, you have to want to go in,” said Barcelona fire chief Hector Carmona, according to Haaretz. “It couldn’t have been an accident because the security system makes it impossible for a person to fall into the enclosure.”

      This one has a video of a different man jumping down into a tiger enclosure; he would have made it in if they hadn’t had a net over the enclosure to prevent people from doing this. The article says this about the man’s stated motivation:

      He reportedly told police that he was so overcome with excitement while passing above the enclosure that he had to jump off.

      This article about a different man says that he jumped into a tiger enclosure due to depression and/or other unspecified mental disorders.

      Chengdu Economic Daily said the 27-year-old, who suffers from depression and mental disorders, made ​​theatrical movements in a bid to incite the tigers. The tigers reportedly flayed the man and dragged him by his neck, but showed no interest in eating him. Zoo staff finally moved in to tranquillise the tigers, prior to rescuing the man, who suffered 16 minor injuries and is now being treated for depression.

      And in this one, a woman jumped the barrier at a zoo’s lion enclosure to feed them (though she was trying to feed them cookies, not her body). She was reportedly behaving strangely during her attempt.

      After breaching the barrier Monday morning — where she was separated from the lions only by some wire fencing — the woman started singing loudly about how much she missed the lions, said Michelle Beasley, a witness.

      Could toxoplasmosis be the ultimate cause of some of these incidents? I have no idea. I probably have toxoplasmosis as well; I love cats and I own three of them. But I haven’t felt any strange urge to feed my cats (or large cats at the zoo) my body, or to put myself in a situation where that outcome would be likely to occur. If toxo did cause these people to do the things they did, they were probably more susceptible to its effects than the average human.

      • Nornagest says:

        The toxoplasmosa parasite isn’t smart enough to hack complex behavioral changes into people, or even into mice, so you shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t feel any urge to get yourself gnawed to death by cats. The best it can do is some relatively crude stuff, perhaps like making cat urine smell good instead of bad (I don’t know if this is actually how it works), which hashes out in mice to a higher risk of getting eaten: if those changes still work in humans, which is by no means certain, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be adaptive for the parasite in that environment.

        I also seem to recall (and Google backs me up) that the chances of carrying the parasite don’t correlate well with cat ownership in the West.

        • Anon says:

          Ah, really? Well, that’s interesting. I always just assumed that people who owned cats (especially people who own more than one) were more likely to have it. Maybe I’m parasite-free after-all, then.

          And I have heard about the toxoplasmosis parasite really only causing minor changes (like finding cat urine to smell good instead of bad), but I sometimes wonder if it could be evolving towards being able to manipulate its host(s) in more complex ways.

          (For the record, I don’t find the smell of cat urine enjoyable, but it doesn’t seem to bother me as much as other people. The smell “disappears” [in the sense that I can’t smell it anymore, even though it’s still there] pretty quickly when I encounter it, too. Aggh, maybe I am infected!)

      • Donny Anonny says:

        What if one of the manifestations of Toxoplasmosis in humans is basically the stereotypical “crazy cat lady syndrome”?

        Instead of propogating the parasite through the host’s death, a large population is maintained through the ownership of an excess of cats.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Assuming you mean that the Toxo in the cat ladies never returns to a cat, then it’s an evolutionary dead end. That’s basically a group selection hypothesis. It’s not impossible, but it’s tough for the numbers to work out. This is not self-sacrifice for the group, so it’s not totally crazy, but it is problematic.

      • Donny Anonny says:

        What if one of the manifestations of Toxoplasmosis in humans is basically the stereotypical “crazy cat lady syndrome”?

        Instead of propogating the parasite through the host’s death, a large population is maintained through the ownership of an excess of cats.

        As for the study purporting no connection between risky behavior and toxo infection, that’s exactly the result you would expect from a scientist under the control of a parasite capable of changing the host’s behavior for its own benefit.

        • Anon says:

          It could be! I must admit, I find this lady’s lifestyle to be a very attractive one. I would live like this too if I could afford it. And considering how reproductively awful that choice would be for me (since it would suck up a lot of resources I could be spending on my own potential children), I have to wonder if that impulse is coming from a toxoplasmosis parasite.

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s cute, but I just imagined the smell and now I kind of want to burn it down.

          • She’s got volunteers helping and a lot of room. It’s conceivable that the smell is kept under control.

            I still wouldn’t want the lifestyle. I’d rather have few enough cats that I can know them as individuals.

          • Nornagest says:

            Possible, but not likely. My stepmother works for the Humane Society and harbors somewhere south of a tenth of that number at any given time, in a house a little smaller but not overwhelmingly so. She’s a very conscientious person, spends a lot of time cleaning up after her… “pets” isn’t quite right, maybe “guests”. Has help from my dad and sometimes from coworkers. There’s still a strong cat funk hanging around the areas with the litter boxes whenever I visit, and a lesser-but-still-noticeable one in the rest of the house.

            Cleaning up after a hundred cats… the analogy that comes to mind is “Augean Stables”. Especially since I doubt they’re very well socialized.

      • James Picone says:

        I think you can just explain that one via whatever mechanism makes people think about jumping off tall things while atop tall things.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I like the theory that views this from the perspective of the cat. Just as much as toxo evolved to trick mice into being eaten by cats, cats evolved to host toxo as a way of compelling their prey to come to them. It’s a very interesting hunting method.

      tldr; cats are Kilgrave.

  9. Anaxagoras says:

    Here’s a fun Moloch scenario from Gene Weingarten, humor writer for the Washington Post:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/gene-weingarten-waiting-for-the-ir/2016/02/24/1a2a6afc-cb51-11e5-a7b2-5a2f824b02c9_story.html

    Am I correctly identifying this as a Moloch scenario? Can/should this be stopped?

    • Evan Þ says:

      No, not at the moment. There’s a finite number of IRS agents (absent action by Congress), which means that access to them can be sold for either money or time. Currently, everyone is paying in time; this startup, CallEnq, is offering some people a chance to pay in money instead. It’s sort of like express toll lanes. True, there’s one hold queue, and everyone calling in themselves will need to wait past the robots – but if no one pays to take up the robots’ calls, they’ll hang up without taking the agents’ time.

      Now if CallEnq goes big and starts lobbying against hiring more IRS agents… that’d be a Molochian scenario. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.

      • Anaxagoras says:

        My reasoning is that if everyone buys in, we end up right where we started except with everyone (except CallEnq) being out some money. And the last people to sign up get really badly screwed over until they do. I think the game theory has everyone incentivized to sign up. Small scale, sure, but it’s a company where, if it succeeds, everyone will be worse off.

        • Julie K says:

          We don’t end up where we started, because the robots are doing the waiting and meanwhile humans can do something else.

      • Capitalism 101 says:

        The really funny thing is that, if the IRS just did this themselves in the first place, it would work out better for everyone.

        Think about it. There’s a finite number of IRS agents, in part, because they cost salaries and the IRS only gets a budget so big. If this number of agents is grossly inadequate to the number of people calling in, you’re going to get wait times.

        What happens if the IRS charges money to jump the queue. The specifics of the plan don’t matter, but it has to be a meaningful amount of money. Not a token fee, but something that would actually make money, as if the IRS was a for-profit corporation. The first thing that happens is that rich, important people with urgent business will pay to jump the queue, and the IRS will keep raising their prices until they hit the highest amount of money those people are willing to pay. Given how much rich people spend on accountants, I bet you this is a non trivial sum of money.

        At this point, the same number of people are getting served then as now, but instead of ‘whoever happened to get there first’ getting served, it’s ‘whoever happened to have the most money’. BUT. There is one difference. The IRS now has more money.

        And they can use that money to hire more agents. Who will take more calls. Which will make them more money.

        But of course, as they hire more agents, it’s marginally less and less rich people calling in. So the IRS has to charge them less and less money (or else they won’t pay at all, and the IRS would rather get >0 dollars).

        If you iterate this process enough times, you eventually get the same system we have now, but with three major changes:

        1) There are substantially more IRS agents in that world than in this worls
        2) Service times for everyone are much, much faster
        3) Rich people are the ones primarily paying for it.

        But of course, instead we have the system we have. And waiting in line sucks. Don’t fault people for trying to get around that. The optimal priority for anything is rarely “whoever happened to get there first”

        • Jiro says:

          he first thing that happens is that rich, important people with urgent business will pay to jump the queue, and the IRS will keep raising their prices until they hit the highest amount of money those people are willing to pay.

          The second thing that happens is that all the poor people find that all the rich people are ahead of them in line.

          • David says:

            Shouldn’t that easily be fixable by, as a matter of IRS policy still putting some proportion of IRS agents handling people in the order received? (effectively, anyone who didn’t pay to jump the queue). Since there will still be substantially more IRS agents overall, it should be quite possible to set such a proportion so that overall service times for everyone (*including* poorer people) are faster.

            Diverting agents reduces their ability to make profit, but unlike a corporation they wouldn’t actually have to be strictly for-profit, so this should be possible. And in fact they could divert most or all of their profit to hiring more IRS agents well-beyond the optimal monopoly point, improving things further for everyone relative to the current state.

        • Deiseach says:

          The IRS now has more money.

          And they can use that money to hire more agents. Who will take more calls. Which will make them more money.

          Except that the IRS is a government department, and what every political campaign everywhere does is promise to cut down on spending and bureaucracy and wastage, which means recruitment embargoes, which means no hiring on new government employees.

          Any money the IRS makes will either be funnelled to central treasury, or the more likely outcome is that customer service is outsourced to private call centres.

          • TheAltar says:

            Politicians publicly campaign based on cutting taxes because it’s an easy applause light. Even if they’re sincere about it, they still want money to be used to fund all their pet projects in their home districts so they can publicly claim credit for getting a bridge built or some other public project done. These are some of the few times they can publicly justify their value as a relectable politician since “Your community needed a bridge built here so I, the great politician, got funding for it and got it built!” sounds way better and substantial than “I was one of X hundred voters who voted for bill Y”.

            That is my first general point which comes up to the real point. Exceptions and special treatment are given to government agencies which operate based on their own revenue generation or generate revenue for other departments. Funding is always an issue and groups that can fund themselves and don’t draw money away from the always-competed-for General Budget get to avoid a lot of the scrutiny and penny pinching that other groups do. A common example of this in local governemnts would be departments for Water and Sewer since they can charge money directly to citezins that use it instead of funding the service as part of something like a sales tax.

            I have knowledge from talking to people in state and municipal governments (and capital hill) but not federal bureaucracy , so I don’t know specifically if the IRS gets preferential treatment overall, but I very strongly suspect that they would based on what I’ve seen elsewhere. They generate revenue as a department where the majority of departments just exist as expense creators (money eaters) and that makes all the difference.

          • Adam says:

            This is correct. Any extra revenue a government agency manages to receive by some ingenious scheme like this (assuming such a thing would even be legal) has to be returned to the Treasury. They don’t get to keep it and use it for their own purposes. How many agents they’re allowed to have in any given fiscal year is set by an appropriation, not by their ability to generate the money to pay that many agents.

        • Donny Anonny says:

          If that were the case, it wouldn’t take 9 months to receive approval to own an NFA device.

  10. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    Eliezer Yudkowsky has recently published a list of services he is willing to perform with associated prices. On the one hand, if you have ever wanted to get your story edited by Eliezer or talk to him on Skype, this is your chance. On the other hand, the prices are a wee bit on the expensive side (the aforementioned Skyping session would run at $1,000 for two hours). But on the gripping hand, if you are an attractive girl who wants to have sex with him, he will actually pay you a cameo in one of his future stories (amusingly, me and everyone else who submitted Methods fanart got a cameo in the series, which seems to suggest that Eliezer values a piece of Methods fanart about as much as he does sex with a hot chick).

    • Anonymous says:

      (FWIW he didn’t bring up the sex one until specifically asked about it)

    • I don’t think Eliezer is so much selling services there, as claiming to have high status on account of the high value of his time. It is actually pretty obvious that he does not actually assign such a high value to it, otherwise he would not have taken the time to reply to most of those comments.

      • Viliam says:

        claiming to have high status on account of the high value of his time. It is actually pretty obvious that he does not actually assign such a high value to it

        The important thing is what value does a potential customer assign to Eliezer’s time. Of course, everyone would give a different number, and that’s exactly what price discrimination is good for.

        Imagine that there is 1 person in the world willing to pay $10000 for an hour of your time, while the remaining 6 999 999 999 people would consider such transaction completely stupid. And you even don’t know who that 1 person is. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to publish an announcement that you are willing to sell 1 hour of your time for $10000, and let the person announce themselves to you? Everyone would think this is ridiculous, but you would get a lot of money cheaply. And what is your probability estimate that at least one such person in the world exists, assuming you are already Eliezer-level famous?

        • Jiro says:

          Price discrimination is bad for consumers, though, since it results in the seller capturing all the consumer surplus.

          • “Price discrimination is bad for consumers”

            That’s true of perfect price discrimination. Imperfect price discrimination is bad for the consumer who would have bought the good anyway and now pays a higher price, good for the consumer who wouldn’t have bought the good at the profit maximizing single price but now gets to buy it at a lower price still above marginal cost.

    • Zippy says:

      Well, Eliezer is already married, but cannot draw, so I could imagine that the marginal fan art might be worth as much as the marginal sex with a hot chick…

    • 27chaos says:

      So, he plans to file for Weirdness Points bankruptcy soon then? Seems like a smart decision, good for him.

    • TheAncientGeek says:

      > if you have ever wanted to get your story edited by Eliezer
      !!!!!!!

      I have never seen any writer more in need of an editor himself.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, him offering that is probably not a good sign of his future writing being any better than his past.

      • Nornagest says:

        Wildbow, maybe. Less of the occasional batshit crazy but more words words words words words.

    • Helldalgo says:

      Those are prices at which he’d be happy to do something, not just willing.

    • Urstoff says:

      Straight from the lolwut files.

    • If paying these prices makes you unhappy, and certainly if it puts you in any distress whatsoever, I probably won’t be as happy about the transaction and would need to charge extra to make up for that.

      Hah!

  11. Loquat says:

    Have you ever invented a conspiracy theory for a fictional world? Like, you’re reading a book and it occurs to you that the sort of people who become 9-11 Truthers in real life would probably believe Conspiracy Theory X if they lived in the world of that book. If so, please share!

    My example – in the Marvel cinematic universe, the first Avengers movie featured an alien invasion which the Avengers defeated, resulting in greatly increased personal status for the Avengers themselves and also increased influence and budget for the organization SHIELD. The invading force was also, IMO, not going to be remotely capable of actually conquering and holding large portions of Earth based on what little was shown of it. Result: conspiracy theorists decide the whole invasion was an inside job designed to benefit SHIELD, and, since SHIELD was a branch of the US government, encourage the world to accept American hegemony.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Wasn’t that alien invasion force also led by Loki, the (step-)brother of one of the Avengers? WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!!1!

      • Loquat says:

        Why yes, it was! And you’ll notice that when Loki makes his first public appearance, he shows up in Germany, declares that humans love being subjugated, and stops just short of comparing himself to Hitler – all of which is completely boneheaded if you’re genuinely trying to convince humanity to surrender to you, but great if your actual goal is to convince humanity that you’re a Big Scary Bad Guy so that they cheer for the avatars of American power who’ll soon be showing up to ostentatiously fight you.

        • Jiro says:

          By this reasoning ISIS is a conspiracy too.

          • Anonymous says:

            Are they not? They are a group of people who conspired in secret and continue to conspire in secret to commit criminal acts.

          • Aegeus says:

            As soon as ISIS hit the news, I was expecting to see conspiracy theories about it, for pretty much exactly that reasoning.

            Think about it. The war in the Middle East is getting bogged down, Al-Qaeda is on the way out, and we aren’t really feeling any motivation to stay involved with that horrible ugly mass of sectarian violence. Then suddenly, ISIS shows up, we’ve got a new, unambiguously evil terrorist group we need to fight, and people are thinking that maybe we should head back into Iraq again.

            If I was a conspirator, I couldn’t invent something better than what actually happened.

          • John Schilling says:

            [ISIS is] a group of people who conspired in secret and continue to conspire in secret to commit criminal acts

            Says who? ISIS is a de facto state, and I’m pretty certain it’s acts aren’t criminal by its own laws. And before that, it was operating mostly in failed states with no meaningful laws and little need for secrecy.

            This is an important distinction. The essential nature of a conspiracy, and the limiting factor that makes really big ones impossible to keep secret, is that it violates the laws(*) of the land in which it operates. That makes it much harder to keep really big secrets. That an operation violates the laws of some other land, or of the international community or of some theory of universal morality, is of no practical importance.

            * The real ones, i.e. the ones the average local resident feels compelled to obey and to shun violators of, if there’s a difference between those and the ones written in the law books.

          • Jiro says:

            Are they not?

            According to the theory, a group that seems cartoonishly evil is probably a conspiracy intended to galvanize action against the group. ISIS certainly consists of a lot of people working together, and they must do some secret stuff when undermining existing governments, but nobody made them up in order to get everyone to fight against them.

            My theory is that ISIS fundamentally misunderstands the West. As far as they are concerned, if you can kill your enemies, you do. The idea of not bombing people to the Stone Age because you have scruples and will only do it to someone irredeemably evil is a foreign idea to them. So they don’t understand that widespread propaganda showing their own atrocities makes the West more willing to attack them–as far as they know, if we were able to attack them, we would have already done it, and any failure to do so is because of weakness.

          • Loquat says:

            @Jiro –

            ISIS actually does put out a fair bit of propaganda claiming that their preferred social structure is good for humanity and that civilians under ISIS rule are happy and prosperous. You can see some examples and analysis here.

            Loki, on the other hand, makes absolutely no effort at any point in the movie to make life under his rule seem at all appealing. It’s like he doesn’t even realize it’s valuable to have supporters!

          • Anonymous says:

            @John Schilling

            They also send agents to stir shit in foreign countries, before and after they’re at war with them.

          • James Picone says:

            I have seen an acquaintance claiming that the US is secretly funding ISIS for some nefarious purpose, so the conspiracy theory is definitely out there, at least among the so-inclined.

          • John Schilling says:

            They [ISIS] also send agents to stir shit in foreign countries, before and after they’re at war with them.

            Which is not, I presume, a violation of any law of the Islamic State. You might as well argue that the United States “is a conspiracy”, because CIA.

            It is almost trivially true that officers of the foreign intelligence services of every nation engage in conspiracies in other nations. I don’t think that’s the standard that is being applied here. If it is, it is an uninteresting one.

        • Deiseach says:

          he shows up in Germany, declares that humans love being subjugated, and stops just short of comparing himself to Hitler

          Given that SHIELD is later revealed to be riddled, from the top down, with HYDRA agents, this is pretty much what you’d expect them to pull 🙂

          • Loquat says:

            Man, that revelation should have been an insane boost for the in-universe conspiracy theorists. Every success SHIELD’s ever claimed, instantly tainted by the possibility that it was a fraud. And sure, certain parties dumped a ton of classified info on the internet and nothing in there says anything about faking alien invasions, but how can you be sure everything was made public?

    • anon says:

      At the start of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the narrator mentions that Mike’s machine consciousness was an emergent property that resulted from repeated increases to his processing power. Over the course of the book, he continually gains new abilities, such as the power to convincingly mimic human voices and even imitate human faces. At times he’s described as being practically a child, but he’s obviously a Seed AI

      The Loonies’ secession from earth served mainly to deliver the Moon into the hands of a superintelligent machine, who played the fool throughout their rebellion while secretly manipulating their supposedly anarcho capitalist society to establish it as his own personal fiefdom. At the end he permanently ceases communication with his most useful stooge, the protagonist, having no further use for him.

      • Vaniver says:

        The Loonies’ secession from earth served mainly to deliver the Moon into the hands of a superintelligent machine, who played the fool throughout their rebellion while secretly manipulating their supposedly anarcho capitalist society to establish it as his own personal fiefdom. At the end he permanently ceases communication with his most useful stooge, the protagonist, having no further use for him.

        I did think this was a cop-out on Heinlein’s part. The interesting question as the war ends is how you run a libertarian society when you have a superintelligent machine also running around, and then he just sidesteps that question entirely.

        • John Schilling says:

          He addresses the more generally interesting question of how you run a libertarian society when you have ordinary people suddenly coming into power, and suggests that it’s not going to remain libertarian much longer. So the question of libertarian + superintelligent machine never really comes up even if the machine were still around.

          Could have; Mike was the special case of Friendly AI who was particularly friendly with three people who happen to be anarchists. Following up on that would have made for an interesting story in its own right, but not the one Heinlein wanted to tell.

          • Evan Þ says:

            “…and suggests that it’s not going to remain libertarian much longer.”

            He suggests it even more strongly in The Rolling Stones, and outright states it in The Cat Who Walked Through Walls (where grown-up Hazel Meade also travels back in time to make a backup of Mike just before the bombs hit, to save his life.)

        • My theory is that Mike was murdered by Prof. Heinlein provides us with both motive and method, and that interpretation provides a double example of TANSTAAFL.

          I’m told that Heinlein, told the theory, denied it.

        • Deiseach says:

          Particularly as it’s not going to be so easy as to simply up stakes and move to another patch of the Moon if you don’t like how things are going in the main dome; for one thing, you’re reliant on your air-generation technology and if you need to buy parts, Mike (or the market he’s rigged, or the parts suppliers he’s secretly controlling) can price them way above your ability to pay, and given that there is already established the principle that no-one has the right to free air, that it has to be generated and you pay if you want to breathe (and how Earth tourists and the like can’t understand this), then you’re pretty much over a barrel.

          Going to move back to Earth? Better keep quiet and settle down and leave the Moon alone, else it’s watch out for those falling rocks from the skies! 🙂

      • Loquat says:

        Good Lord, it’s a Youtube video where the comments section is actually worth reading!

        Also, that was delightful, thank you.

    • Jordan D. says:

      (Spoilers for Guild Wars)

      In the MMO Guild Wars 2, you quickly find out that the protagonist of the original game’s deeds remain, but the identity of that fabulous hero has vanished from the records. In a strange coincidence the ascension story of the Goddess of Truth, Kormir, has changed from ‘was a worthless tagalong to this epic hero before assuming a divine role’ to ‘was a total badass hero herself with some nameless person helping I suppose.’ Just a little suspicious that all those records would be compromised in favor of making the new deity of truth look better, eh?

      • Loquat says:

        True, though on a meta-level the game authors had to deal with the same problem any game sequel with a new protagonist has to deal with, which is if you let the player pick their own name in Game #1 you now have no good way of referencing that character in Game #2.

        But I’m glad you mention Guild Wars 2, because the Living Story had a great example in its second season. A new Elder Dragon with a fondness for plant monsters has awoken, the player gets to go around drumming up support for fighting it, and to that end an international conference is organized. Once it gets going, though, all the ambassadors present conclude that it’s not yet a major threat and they’re going to punt so they can focus on other problems.

        Naturally, a giant plant monster then shows up to attack the conference, cue international agreement that the new dragon has now become the biggest threat around and everyone should drop everything and focus on killing it.

        Coincidentally, this conference is held at the home base of the plant people who are later revealed to have originally been a creation of that same dragon, but who are vehemently opposed to serving it now that it’s awake again. (Gosh, I wonder if they can make their own plant monsters and just never told anyone…)

    • Bryan-san says:

      In the Game of Thrones series, the religion of the Lord of Light sounds like a big conspiracy and made up religion designed to control a population while normalizing their blood magic and distancing themselves from the ancient Valyrians. They associate magic based on fire and blood with a deity even though Valyrians seemed to be capable of achieving even greater magics with fire and blood in the past without worshiping the same deity.

      *SPOILER*
      Later in the series we even see that the red priestess doesn’t have magic on her own and uses an amulet to do her magic. Why would a divinely empowered magic require you to have a special amulet as well? It seems far more likely that their religion is made up and they’re just borrowing ancient Valyrian technology and techniques.

      I guess this is less conspiracy theorist conspiracy and more informed observer conspiracy, but I think people in that world should strongly suspect this if they are somewhat rational.

    • Maware says:

      The problem is that Occam’s Razor is really effective here. The fact that the Avengers haven’t taken over the world already means they aren’t likely to do so inefficiently.

      The older miniseries Squadron Supreme (which predated Watchmen) more or less has that point, where the heroes simply decide to take over the world. They just go in and take it over, and even the villains can’t stop them. They make a decent world, but personality conflicts and old wounds don’t just vanish.

      • TheAltar says:

        Any world that has people with invulnerability, mind control, probability manipulation, superintelligence, and more makes very little sense to not be controlled by the people with superpowers in the long term.

        • Leit says:

          Kingdom Come had this as its conceit; not so much that the capes took over the world, but more that they treated it as a consequence-free playground.

          The book explores the “take over the world for its own good” angle, and a few other details – like how human achievement is basically a fond memory – make the discussion pretty murky.

        • Thomas Jørgensen says:

          .. Depends how *common* the super powers are.
          Frankly, the logical outcome of a universe like the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t “A cabal of supers takes it over” but rather the mass proliferation of superpowers until there are no baseline-humans left, in a transhumanist singularity.
          Heck, this seems to be what happens to most sentient species in that universe – The Kree are all personally superpowered. Thor isn’t very unusual for an asguardian, and so on.

    • Poxie says:

      I _think_ this qualifies:
      I was really hoping that the second and third Matrix movies (if you believe in that sort of thing) would show that the whole rebellion/Zion/redpill business was itself another level of the Matrix – a way of satisfying the psychological needs of that recalcitrant percentage of enslaved humans that rejected the ordinary Matrix.

      (This conspiracy theory is so basic and obvious that I doubt I’m the only one to come up with it – apologies if it’s all over the Internet and I just missed it all these years. I really think it might have made for some good, if depressing, sequels.)

      • Protagoras says:

        I’ve heard that called the “outer matrix” theory.

      • Nornagest says:

        It’s an old theory, yes.

        I don’t think you could base two movies on it, though — you only need a single scene to say “they’re still in the Matrix”, and that would fit into a longer-than-average stinger. (Would have made a hell of a sequel hook, though.) You could get a second movie out of it through some Inception-style playing with meta-levels, but a third would be repetitive.

        Basically the problem with the franchise is that the whole thing’s built on what’s effectively an episode of The Twilight Zone, and there’s only so much exploration of the concept you can do without boring your audience or descending into cookie-cutter special-effects action. A lot like what happened to Terminator, actually.

      • anonymous says:

        More interestingly, the machines themselves have no idea that they live in a greater matrix.

        • Thomas Jørgensen says:

          No, no. The machines know. They just do not care. Why should they? Computational cycles are computational cycles. This is also how they justify sticking humanity in the matrix in the first place – They didn’t break their ethical safeguards coding, it’s just that given that everyone was in a sim anyway, dropping a human into a different sim doesn’t count as doing said human any harm.

      • Adam says:

        This was pretty close to the point of the Architect’s monologue at the end of Reloaded. Zion wasn’t a simulation, but it was created by the machines, on purpose, to allow humans who rejected the matrix to live out their lives fighting a rebellion, and the machines periodically purged them when the city became too large, starting the whole process over, and the purpose of the One was to repopulate Zion after it was purged and begin the process of freeing people who rejected the matrix and starting a new rebellion, knowing it was all a show and would eventually get purged, too. Functionally, that’s the same thing as another level of matrix, even though it uses a physical city rather than an electronic simulation of a city. I’m not sure revealing that it was actually a simulation would even change anything.

        Although it would explain how Neo had magical control powers over machines even in the real world.

  12. Troy says:

    On Wheaton, since I missed the original discussion: my impression is very similar to Universal Set’s. Most of the faculty seemed to support Hawkins, as did many academics at other Christian colleges. There is no charitable reading of the claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God on which it is inconsistent with Wheaton’s theological commitments. However, some conservatives were upset by Hawkins making this statement (and, I think, matters were not helped by Hawkins having skirted the edge of what’s acceptable in the past), and they made a stink and then we had the PR-nightmare that Universal Set described.

    Why were people upset? I suspect it was mostly tribal signaling: Hawkins made that remark in a context that signaled her as being part of the political left. People may have also pattern-matched Hawkins’ statement to a John Hick-style religious pluralism, on which all religions are equally true. This really would be inconsistent with Wheaton’s theological commitments, but it is in no way implied by the claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

    • Maware says:

      The problem is that politically left Christians these days tend to be theologically leftist too, or maybe progressive. It’s not really basic liberalism that’s an issue, and actually it has a long tradition in Christian misisons and social work. But the point of this was that she held a non-orthodox belief about Christian theology. Even C.S. Lewis said that Tash and Aslan are not one, even if well-meaning people actually think they are.

      That kind of leftism is devastating to Christianity. It literally eats it out from within, which is why conservatives complain about the mainline so much. It is very vulnerable to its clerks and pastors hollowing it out.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        There’s a lot of difference between Tash and Allah. I expect (hope) Lewis would have thrown the whole God/Allah question out on General Semantics grounds.

      • Troy says:

        But the point of this was that she held a non-orthodox belief about Christian theology.

        I don’t agree. That Muslims and Christians worship the same God is perfectly consistent with everything in, say, the Nicene Creed. It’s also consistent, as far as I know, with the official doctrinal positions of most church denominations. It was the position of most orthodox Christians when Islam was first beginning. These Christians viewed Islam as a heretical sect of Christianity, just like, e.g., Arianism.

        That Muslims worship the same God as Christians does not imply that their beliefs about that God are correct. Arians are wrong to hold that Christ was created, but that doesn’t mean that they are not referring to the same Christ. Their beliefs are false because they are about a being for whom they are not true. Similarly, Muslims’ false beliefs about God (e.g., that he does not have a son) are wrong because they are beliefs about a God who does have a son.

        That kind of leftism is devastating to Christianity. It literally eats it out from within, which is why conservatives complain about the mainline so much. It is very vulnerable to its clerks and pastors hollowing it out.

        You will find no more fervent opponent of watered-down post-modern Christianity than me. But we shouldn’t confuse orthodoxy with knee-jerk fundamentalism, nor should we assume that every position that signals “leftist” is based on a desire to fit into the contemporary culture, rather than a thoughtful examination of the issue from a committed Christian perspective.

  13. TD says:

    Bored of the same old parties winning election after election? Want to play with people’s lives? I propose a new electoral system!

    The idea is to cycle the government through a selection of top scoring parties, but I’m still deciding which way is the best (most fun).

    1: Voters directly rank their top 6 parties, essentially voting for all six in order of preference.
    Or
    2: Regular popular vote for a single party per voter, and then everything but the top 6 scoring parties are filtered out.

    Either way, you end up with 6 parties on the other side of the popular filter, arranged by a popularity ranking.
    Then, the top party gets to run for 6 years in office in a unicameral government. The 2nd best gets to run for five years, and so on, down to the rank 6 party that made it through the filter, and only gets one year in power. The whole cycle being 21 years.

    In the 21st year (roughly one generation), voters go to the polls and vote again for the best selection of parties, and the whole things starts again.

    • Anonymous says:

      1. Party A gets in.
      2. Party A uses their legislative power and popularity to alter the system so that they’re always in power.
      3. ???
      4. PROFIT!

      Why not just hand the Head of State 51% shares in America Inc. and the rest of the legislative assemblies’ members the other 49%?

      • TD says:

        But by that logic, why doesn’t this happen all the time in existing democracies? All the Scandinavian countries have unicameral parliaments and have not turned into one party dictatorships. I don’t see anything different about the system I describe that makes transition to a dictatorship more possible than before.

        • Anonymous says:

          >But by that logic, why doesn’t this happen all the time in existing democracies?

          Various reasons. Like, say, a constitutional requirement to have 2/3rds majority to edit the constitution. Another is obviously party ideology. If “democracy” is strictly part of their core identity, they can’t overtly switch to despotism without extreme justification. The Scandinavian parties are uniformly social-democrats. They don’t *want* to end democracy, and neither do their rivals, who are amazingly similar in ideology to them.

          But suppose a party that values democracy only as a vehicle to achieve their ends gets behind the steering wheel – is there any reason to believe they won’t change the system to suit them better?

          • TD says:

            Oh right, so if some Fascists or Marxists, say, are part of that 6 then theoretically, they could try to halt the system altogether. How to fix the stupid system I made… Uh…

            What if you had an uneditable constitution that enshrined this system, and gave the army orders to turf out any party that refused to move out when its term was up?

          • Anonymous says:

            Could work – it does in Turkey. (For some reason, however, the western democrats see that as democracy being abused, rather than protected.)

          • jeorgun says:

            It’s historically worked pretty well in Turkey, which is why Erdoğan has done everything in (and out) of his power to curb the military’s ability to do anything about him. Given how well he’s succeeded so far, that suggests that maybe it’s not as effective a deterrent as all that.

    • Adam Casey says:

      Voters go to the polls once per 21 years? Ok that’s madness.

      The main advantage democracy can claim is that bad governments end quickly. Party A is going to raid everything they can, then wait 15 years while everyone forgets what they were like, use their ill-gotten gains to present a false history of the glorious past under Aish rule, then win again.

    • Poxie says:

      I’m thinking about who/what might qualify as the 6th most popular party in the US, and I’m not sure whether your idea is awesome or terrible.

      (Actually, it’s kinda terrible for other reasons than what parties might get to be in charge for a year. Still, I admire the creativity.)

  14. daronson says:

    I’ve just discovered Demeny voting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demeny_voting and I think it’s the best thing ever. The idea is that the legal guardians of a child too young to vote split his vote. It seems like a change that would be realistic, fair, and something that would really move people’s voting tendencies in a direction that I, and, presumably, the “grey tribe” considers positive (more focus on education and long-term environmental policy, less on spur-of-the-moment social theories). The problem is that I don’t have any data to back this up (or overturn it), and I don’t know where to find this data. Do people know of voting tendencies of parents? Is there a database where we could find out who would have won presidential elections/primaries if such a voting scheme were implemented?

    • Troy says:

      Married people tend to vote more conservatively than non-married people, even after controlling for other variables. I expect the same is true of parents vs. non-parents. Whether this system would make people vote more conservatively depends on whether this correlation is causal: do married people/parents vote more conservatively because they’re more conservative, or is there a common cause of their being married/parents and being conservative (e.g., religiosity, values)? I expect that there is some causal contribution: the world starts to look differently when you’re thinking about your children than when you’re a young single person.

      The main effects of this system would be giving parents more political power. If this system was proposed in the U.S. (and probably most other places), it would inevitably be supported by those whose politics this greater power would favor (conservatives) and opposed by those whose politics it would disfavor (progressives). I’d support the policy, but that’s because I think it would result in more support for policies I like — and also because it would incentivize child-bearing, which I think would be a good thing.

      • daronson says:

        I’ve thought about this, but this particular correction would pick out specifically *young* (or at least youngish) parents, so your statement about married people veering right might be offset by younger married people veering left. I think that this actually isn’t something where easy first-order arguments give an obvious answer.

        • Evan Þ says:

          I doubt that, though. A child’s too young to vote until he’s 18, so there’d be just as many 40-year-old parents of 15-year-olds voting for them as there are 30-year-old parents of 5-year-olds. (Population growth would shift this, but it’s minimal at the moment.) It’d still represent a net shift younger since 60-year-olds don’t have minor children, but I think that’d be far outweighed by conservatives having more children.

          • daronson says:

            All right, the stats battle is on! The best data I could find about median age of parents at childbirth is this chart: http://www.familyfacts.org/charts/219/the-average-age-of-first-time-mothers-has-steadily-increased. It implies that the average age of mothers at childbirth is about 27.5. Since husbands tend to be a little older than wives, let’s say that the average age of a parent at childbirth is about 30. Let’s say, for simplicity, that parents have children uniformly between age 20 and age 40. This means that the extra votes Demeny voting provides are between age 20 and 58, with the quantity tapering at both sides of the range. Now here’s a handy graph of party affiliation by age: http://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/wt-ykjnhfuezhxsedgqldg.png
            The graph is of course problematic, since the area under the “democrat” curve is much higher than that under the “republican” curve, whereas most presidential elections split the country about 50-50. This means that more of the unaffiliated voters vote republican. Let’s take this into account by bumping up the republican curve a couple of points to make the areas equal. Then the behavior is as follows: there are significantly more democrats until about age 39, which also happens to also be the midpoint of our demeny voters range, at which point the two curves cross and there are a little more republicans until age 65 or so, at which point we get yet an increase in republican voters. So it seems to me that the early preference for democrats far outweighs the slight later preference for republicans in the demeny group. Troy’s argument that parents are conservative might shift this a little, but probably not that much.

            I don’t think this fuzzy statistics proves that demeny voters lean left, but I think it proves we can’t call it one way or the other without actual data.

          • Troy says:

            Two points:

            – Looking at 2012 voting records, the marriage gap in voting appears to be about 20%, which is fairly large. I don’t know if the baby gap is similarly large, but it might be. Steve Sailer argues here that a state’s white fertility rate is an extremely good predictor of how it will vote: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/baby-gap/

            So it seems plausible that parents being more conservative might well outweigh younger people being more liberal.

            – Age and number of children are, of course, themselves correlated, and it may well be that older people are more conservative partly because they are more likely to be married and have children. The chart you posted seems to show people becoming more conservative from around age 29 to age 49. If the median new parent is around 29, this would correspond to their child growing up, and perhaps their changing their politics based on what kind of world they want their children to live in.

            If older people are more conservative primarily because they have more children, then giving young parents more votes will lead to more conservative voting patterns.

            – Really what we want is data breaking down voting trends by age + number of children. Perhaps someone could find this data in the General Social Survey? http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss10

          • daronson says:

            @Troy, thanks for pointing me at the SDA module, it’s a lot of fun (and a lot of procrastination potential…) Based on very cursory analysis and playing around with the HOMPOP variable, it looks like you’re absolutely right, and people with children tend to be more right-leaning (including economically). That’s unfortunate in my view — I lean a little left, when I haven’t been spending too much time around my staunchly liberal colleagues. On the other hand, people with more kids tend to
            * have more moderate views (i.e. less far-right answers)
            * believe in higher education spending
            * think the quality of math and science education in the US is inadequate (this is a pretty important example of them being better informed)
            * think the US should do more for the environment (by a little).
            I used “home population” as proxy for number of <18-yo kids, and haven't controlled for anything else, so take this with a grain of salt. One question I'm very curious about is whether people with kids vote for Trump in the primaries. If they don't, I think I'd fully support switching to the Demeny voting system, even if it means a couple extra republican presidents.

          • Troy says:

            thanks for pointing me at the SDA module, it’s a lot of fun (and a lot of procrastination potential…)

            Yes, it’s an incredible wealth of data, though hard to navigate (at least, for me — those with more stats skills may find it easier).

            I lean a little left, when I haven’t been spending too much time around my staunchly liberal colleagues.

            You too, eh? 🙂 My wife tells me I like to hold views just to be contrarian. I don’t think that’s completely fair, but I have to admit there’s some truth to it. I went to a conservative Christian college for undergrad, identified as progressive and registered as a Democrat because all the conservative Republicans around me seemed to have such bad arguments. Then I went to grad school, was surrounded by progressives with equally bad arguments, and suddenly conservatism started looking a lot more reasonable.

            On the other hand, people with more kids tend to
            * have more moderate views (i.e. less far-right answers)
            * believe in higher education spending
            * think the quality of math and science education in the US is inadequate (this is a pretty important example of them being better informed)
            * think the US should do more for the environment (by a little).

            It doesn’t surprise me that having children doesn’t correlate with being more conservative in all areas. Although I am moderately conservative nowadays, I suspect that my general opinions would correlate better with those of people with lots of children than with doctrinaire conservatives. So I would probably view many of the non-conservative shifts favorably.

            (I am more skeptical on the math and science thing; while there are certainly issues with American education, they’re largely misunderstood and misidentified. That’s mainly because no one acknowledges the elephant in the room, which is that by far the biggest contributor to worse test scores, etc. in American schools is proportion of black students. When you control for race, Americans do quite well — we’re not number 1 for white students, but we’re probably in the top 10. Steve Sailer has written quite a bit about this.)

            Another issue I’d be curious about is support for militarism. I would hope that parents would be more likely to think that we shouldn’t send our children off to die on wars of foreign intervention. But I’m not confident that they would.

            One question I’m very curious about is whether people with kids vote for Trump in the primaries.

            I would also be curious about that, if anyone can find data on it.

    • James Picone says:

      If you’re contemplating changing the US voting system, why not just go preferential?

      • Anonymous says:

        Or proportional with low minimum bars and no state-level electoral college in-betweens.

        • James Picone says:

          Or both.

          • If you are picking a version of democracy on grounds of elegance, my favorite is true representation. Each voter gets to decide who represents him, can switch any time he likes. Each representative casts a number of votes equal to the number of people he currently represents.

            Assuming current legislative technology, anyone with more than X votes gets a seat in the legislature, any group of representatives each of whom has fewer than X votes but with the total group having more than X gets one seat and can share it among group members any way it likes. With improved online legislative technology, every representative has a “seat”–can post arguments, introduce bills, etc.

          • James Picone says:

            That’s actually really cool. Direct democracy with an escape route for people who don’t want to think about it all the time.

            I suspect you’d need careful design for the online portion to avoid the problem of large numbers of one-seat people supported by a spouse or the like proposing hordes of terrible bills nobody would ever vote for. Also something something information security, but the in-person legislature version works.

        • The argument against proportional representation is that the present U.S. system gives both parties an incentive to nominate centrists, thus reduces the amount of political conflict. Less fun for those of us who like ideas and argument, but arguably more stable.

          • James Picone says:

            Australia (federally) has a districted lower house and a proportional upper house, both voted for preferentially. Doesn’t seem to have lead to incredible extremism. We have two major parties that get ~80% of votes between them (well one of the major parties is a coalition between a farmer’s-party and the confusingly-named right-of-centre Liberals, but the coalition’s been around for decades now and is probably quite stable), balance of power in the upper house is held by the left-wing-and-environmentalism Greens, or alternately you can convince ~4/5 independents/minor parties to vote for your proposal (assuming you have one of the two majors on side).

            Elections for the Upper House are staggered, so it tends to have a different composition than the Lower House, making it an actual house of review. Because the Lower House is districted, it’s almost all major parties (One seat in it is currently held by a Greens member). Works well, IMO.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Not sure about the policy, but this description bothers me: “Demeny argued that children ‘should not be left disenfranchised for some 18 years: let custodial parents exercise the children’s voting rights until they come of age’.”

      Don’t let them be disenfranchised! Give their vote to other people!

      • daronson says:

        Well most parents aren’t like Petunia and Vernon Dursley 🙂 I actually don’t see a problem with the argument that parents can represent their kids. There are bad parents who don’t think about their kids, and there are dumb voters who vote irrationally. But on balance, I think a parent spends a significant amount of the “time he spends thinking who to vote for” considering the interests of his kids and their age group. After all, parents represent their kids in everything else, and that doesn’t tend to result in abuse of benefits.

      • Deiseach says:

        “Demeny argued that children ‘should not be left disenfranchised for some 18 years: let custodial parents exercise the children’s voting rights until they come of age’.”

        If you’re going to implement that system properly, it would mean parents/guardians voting according to what the minor wants, which means the split voting could only happen when the child was old enough to be considered able to make a reasonable political choice (and not say “Vote for Candidate Brown, he promised me extra lollipops instead of broccoli!”)

        So no 5 year old proxy votes, you would be splitting the vote from the age of say 12-14, until they turn 18 and can cast their own vote.

        In practice, though, it’d be parents voting for Candidate Smith because “No, I know you like Candidate Brown but Smith will do better for the country, it’s in your best interests!” How can the minor prove that he wanted to vote for Brown but his parents cast his vote for Smith instead? He can’t, so there you go.

        • daronson says:

          I think we’re using different definitions. If you take “enfranchisement” (in the sense of representation) to mean taking one’s opinions into account then no, Demeny voting would give children no enfranchisement. If you take it to mean taking one’s *interests* into account, which is what I believe Demeny meant, then the statement is sensible. Now we have a long tradition of living in a society that takes children’s interests into account without giving them direct voice: otherwise it would be unconstitutional for parents to declare a curfew.

          • Deiseach says:

            But then all the system does is give parents half a vote, one vote (or more, depending on how many children they have) to give towards theirpreferred candidate.

            Why say that this enfranchises children? Why not give the parents a fraction of a vote based on the number of children they have, since parents will be assumed to vote in the interests of their children?

            I can see the argument that people with children have more of a stake in how the future society turns out so they should be compensated with extra voting power, but that’s not at all the same thing as exercising a franchise on behalf of the children, otherwise the parents could keep the vote after the child turns 18 (why not? why should an 18 year old be considered to know what is in their best interest rather than mature adults?)

            It’s a very unclear thing to say that children who cannot vote until they turn 18 are being disenfranchised and then say that the vote cast on their behalf is based on their parents’, and not their, wishes and choices.

            For example, as soon as we all reached voting age, my mother liked telling us all which candidate we should vote for, even if we had our own opinions on this. Under the Demeny system as I read your interpretation, it is functionally giving her our votes instead of permitting us to vote for ourselves. So she could have five votes to cast for her choice of candidate and that is under the aegis of “voting in our interest”, even if 17 year old me said “No, I don’t think Candidate Murphy is a good choice”. I would not consider that “enfranchising” me and I would not consider that the vote was being made in my name or best interest, despite the intention.

    • Theo Jones says:

      “A claim that supporting Trump is strongly correlated with authoritarianism— does the study look sound?”
      The article says the questions to determine authoritarianism “pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious”. It says that this is a standard battery of questions, and it seems like those could correlate with authoritarian politics pretty reasonable.
      As far as other parts of the methodology, it doesn’t go that far into detail and doesn’t link to a fuller description of the poll. So, who knows. Although, its not a result I find terribly surprising.

    • Nadja says:

      Is there a link to the actual study somewhere? With numbers, methods, etc?

      I remember reading about it and dismissing it offhand as another one of those “Trump is racist/fascist/whateverist” attacks. All the Trump supporters I know (including myself) picked the second option for all/most of these questions, so we’re the opposite of authoritarian. In fact, one of the things we really like about Trump is that he defies authority. He stands against the establishment, against the dishonesty of the media, and against the intimidating monster that is the PC culture.

      On the other hand, I’m also noticing that some people online like Trump for reasons very different from mine. So who knows, perhaps the majority of Republican authoritarians do like him.

      • I couldn’t find a link to the study, the best I did was establishing that the author is actually at Amherst.

        I do find it interesting that a high proportion of Trump supporters (or at least what I see online) is people who like him personally in a way that I don’t think I’ve seen before for presidential candidates. Even if it’s not authoritarianism, I think there’s some kind of personality match.

        • Alraune says:

          I think the personality thing is a large chunk of the support for any “outsider” candidate, and comes down to the fact that professional politicians are selected to have the emotional range of a turnip.

          • While Sanders and Trump are both outsiders, I don’t get the impression that Sanders supporters like his personality as much as Trump supporters like Trump’s personality. Sanders supporters give me the impression they like Sanders’ policies.

      • Stefan Drinic says:

        Wait, being against the establishment means you can’t be authoritarian now? Godwin’s law is a bitch, but those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

        • Nadja says:

          No, of course they are not mutually exclusive. That’s why I gave a list of things that Trump was standing up against, which as a whole was supposed to show why I found it strange people thought he appealed mostly to authoritarians. (Was my point really so unclear or are you just taking things out of context to pick on? =))

          Perhaps for clarity’s sake, I could have added that these very things that Trump stands up against strike me as themselves being supported by people with an authoritarian streak. I like Trump precisely because I (very strongly) dislike authoritarianism. I am a libertarian and I intended to vote for Rand Paul until he dropped out of the race. I am appaled by the authoritarian nature of censorship on college campuses and in public life. If you’re supporting the “wrong” ideas, you are labeled as racist, sexist, a “denier” of some sort, and then you have people on Twitter organizing efforts to send emails to your employer to have you fired. The message here is “toe the line, citizen.” Trump refuses to toe the line, and he fights for people not to have to toe the line.

          Anyway, again, even though I don’t find this study to be particularly convincing, I also note that I have seen people online support Trump for other things: things that I merely tolerate about Trump. So I admit that it’s possible that the majority of authoritarians do like him, too, for reasons completely different from mine.

          • I’m surprised that Trump might have a high appeal for authoritarians– I had a probably ill-founded idea that authoritarians like rules, and Trump is chaotic.

            It may well be more accurate that authoritarians want *personal* authority, possibly under someone else who has more personal authority. A rule-based system is too restrictive for that sort of thing, even though it can also be dictatorial.

            Trump is very big on the idea that he should be in charge, he’s better because he wins, and anyone who opposes him is inferior.

          • Nadja says:

            Nancy, I think you nailed it. This “I’m strong, my opponents are weak” spiel of Trump’s and his general desire to appear powerful are probably what is largely responsible for people associating him and his supporters with authoritarianism. And these are also likely to be the traits that authoritarians are, in fact, attracted to.

    • That Vedic death metal is epic.

      • I’m glad at least one person listened to it and liked it. And the visuals are a hoot.

        I’m not especially interested in death metal generally, but this one had fast medium-pitched drumming (presumably based on traditional Indian drumming, and possibly harsher than is traditional) which made the death metal more interesting.

    • TrivialGravitas says:

      He’s conflating self identification with authoritarianism (people probably interpret this right-libertarian rhetoric sense that liberals are economic authoritarians and conservatives are social authoritarians) with research into the more obscure psychological definition of authoritarianism, which is a political personality factor (or a set of three personality factors that are strongly correlated in modern North America but probably not historically and not globally). It’s interesting that Trump supporters self identify with the former more than other republicans, but the rest of the article has no evidence backing it. I expect psychological authoritarianism does correlate with Trump support, but there is no data to support this at this time. I’m just conjecturing that Trump says a lot of stuff that authoritarians are prone to like and that his followers treat him in an idealized fashion (on the flip side it suddenly occurs to me that I’ve seen a lot of incongruity-nonresolution (jokes without punchlines essentially) humor from Trump supports which authoritarians are usually highly averse to).

    • I haven’t seen the study, but a few related points:

      The author is identified as a graduate student at U.Mass Amherst. U. Mass Amherst is the last serious holdout of Marxism in the U.S. academic world, at least that I know of, and the author describes himself as working for (among other things) progressive businesses. So he is even less neutral on the subject of Trump than the rest of us.

      https://polsci.umass.edu/people/matthew-c-macwilliams

      Some years back I got involved in an exchange on my blog with the author of a book arguing that there was a link between conservative views and authoritarianism. I concluded that his evidence was bogus. His test for authoritarianism was actually a test for both authoritarianism and right wing views. Any question of the form “do you support authority X” used an authority popular with people on the right. Any question of the form “what do you think of people who violate the rules in defense of cause Y” used a cause popular with people on the left.

      I don’t think I ever persuaded him that he was playing with loaded dice. For the exchange see:

      http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2007/07/loaded-dice-professor-altemeyers.html

      But the experience left me suspicious of claims of that sort.

  15. Jake says:

    Long time lurker. So glad you finally found worm. Wildbow is amazing. If I had had one thing for you to find online it would be his work. The other stuff by him is great, too! He also has some great posts and comments on reddit. Enjoy the absurdly long rest of Worm! https://www.reddit.com/user/Wildbow

  16. Frog Do says:

    Something I’ve seen some very clever lefties on the internet assume in their arguments, from a narrative perspective, that I’d like help unpacking. Can anybody explain the following apparent contradiction? “Poverty is the primary cause of crime” vs “Rich people are mostly criminal”. The obvious response is to say rich people rewrite the laws so that their antisocial actions are technically legal. So then restated: if poverty is the primary cause of bad behavior, why are rich people mostly people who behave badly? This is obviously a narrative-type claim, so empirical arguments, while interesting, aren’t really what I’m looking for, more of a “why do you hold this worldview”.

    I have been told I state things like a villian, I want to be clear I am not trying to do that. Sincere replies only, merci.

    • gbear605 says:

      The claim is that poverty is the primary cause of crimes that poor people tend to do (eg. drug dealing, gang warfare), while the rich people commit white collar crimes (eg. increasing the price of a life saving drug drastically). Framed this way, there’s no contradiction, because it’s two different types of crimes. It also means that we can get rid of crime entirely by making everyone equally middle class (hey look, communism).

      • Protagoras says:

        I would add a little more to it than that. Rich people commit crime because they can get away with it, so their crime definitely involves a moral failing. Poor people commit crime despite the fact that they often don’t get away with it, because they are desperate victims of circumstances, so their crime does not involve the same kind of moral failing. But yes, obviously the liberal view in question views crime by poor people and crime by rich people as two different phenomena with different sources, in need of separate analysis.

      • Frog Do says:

        Then the narrative would triumph the virtues of the middle class, which seems more libertarian/liberal than leftist. The sorts of people I’m thinking of probably position themselves very much as anti-middle-class in outlook.

      • Viliam says:

        It also means that we can get rid of crime entirely by making everyone equally middle class (hey look, communism).

        Communism tried to make everyone working-class.

        The bourgeoisie — upper and middle class — were considered the bad guys. The good guys were “workers, peasants, and proletarian intellectuals” or “workers, peasants, and soldiers”, depending on the country.

        • TD says:

          The closest thing to a “make everyone middle class” ideology would be distributism, I guess, since (in its most radical forms) it aims to spread private property out (which is considered a sacred right) rather than abolishing it, as in socialism.

        • TheAncientGeek says:

          But the original comment was true-ish of something like scandinavian social democracy…low crime , and incomes clustered around the median.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          That isn’t what bourgeois means, the bourgeois are people whose livelyhood are dependent on owning things. Poor farmers who own their own land are bourgeois (of the petite bourgeois subclass), a surgeon working at a hospital is proletariat (of the labor aristocracy subclass).

    • eqdw says:

      > “Rich people are mostly criminal”

      Taking this literally as “a majority of rich people are criminals”, all I can say is that this is such an absurd and uncharitable claim that I don’t trust the person making it to be acting in good faith

    • Chalid says:

      I’d interpret “rich people are mostly criminal” as saying that the process of becoming rich usually involves doing unethical things. Bribing politicians, exploiting workers, selling deceptively structured financial products, polluting the atmosphere, etc.

      It’d help to have some examples of people making that statement!

    • BBA says:

      If you believe property is theft, it follows that rich people are necessarily criminals.

      I don’t think “property is theft” is a worthwhile line of thought, but it is important to remember that nearly all property is stolen if you trace the chain of title far enough. It’s usually called “conquest” or “adverse possession” or “eminent domain” but make no mistake, it’s theft.

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        It is possible to take the view that most of the land in the US and other new world countries was stolen.

        • Yrro says:

          Although I’m always curious how that is true in a way that the land in the rest of the world was not. Do conquest and migration have a statute of limitations of around 300 years?

        • BBA says:

          Not just the New World, as Yrro points out. The entirety of England was stolen from its Anglo-Saxon inhabitants by a Frenchman some 950 years ago. Somehow there’s nobody upset about it now. (There are some people who are upset about the much smaller theft of land from the monasteries by Henry VIII, but we don’t speak of them.) Almost every country on earth has had this happen at one time or another.

          Not just land, either. You can trace the ownership of goods back to that of the raw materials, which are grown on or extracted from land, and the land was stolen, remember?

          This leaves animals and their products (problematic in their own right) and intellectual property, which wasn’t even recognized until about 300 years ago and whose extent remains an active controversy.

          Some see property rights as sacrosanct, but I can’t, because in so many cases who owns what and why is based on something arbitrary.

          • TD says:

            I see the existence of property rights, the institution, as sacrosanct, which is why I’m not a communist, but I don’t think that the specific owner’s rights are sacrosanct, which is why I’m not an anarcho-capitalist.

          • ” but I don’t think that the specific owner’s rights are sacrosanct, which is why I’m not an anarcho-capitalist.”

            That strikes me as an odd reason. One can imagine A-C societies with any of a variety of legal rules in equilibrium. If anything, a conventional limited government version of libertarianism seems more likely to maintain status quo property claims, not less.

            In either system, there are basically two arguments for status quo claims. One is that the current owner’s claim is based on a mix of legitimate and illegitimate reasons. The land may or may not have been in use by anyone when it first entered the modern legal system. If stolen from a legitimate owner a century or two back, it’s been maintained and improved by the “owners” under the current legal system since. The current claimant who traces his title to them may not have a perfect moral claim, but he probably has a better claim than anyone else.

            The second argument is that we have no practical way of moving to a more nearly just (from a libertarian standpoint) distribution of claims, since the process itself would lead to massive rent seeking in a context where there is rarely clear evidence to support any particular change in claims. And the risk that the process would be repeated with ideological or political shifts would mean insecure property rights, hence make long run planning more difficult.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            And the Anglo-Saxons stole England from the Romans, and the Romans stole England from the Celts, and very nearly the whole of Europe was stolen by the Caucasians before they settled down and became the welsh, Romans, Anglo Saxons etc.

          • TD says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’m just saying that I don’t see anything wrong with intervening to reassign ownership in principle (given extenuating circumstances), so I can’t be anarcho-capitalist (though I’m broadly “libertarian”). That’s all.

            I don’t think that we need to start working out who owns what based off of past grievances, however. I don’t think centuries old past aggression is a good enough reason that is worth mass chaos.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ TD:

            I’m just saying that I don’t see anything wrong with intervening to reassign ownership in principle (given extenuating circumstances), so I can’t be anarcho-capitalist (though I’m broadly “libertarian”). That’s all.

            I don’t believe Friedman himself rejects the possibility of reassigning ownership “in principle” in every conceivable case.

            He just thinks the results are in practice typically going to work out for the worse.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            Can Friedman actually be considered an Anarcho Capitalist, or even libertarian? Chicago economics proposes all sorts of government interventions from a variant of Universal Basic Income (proposed by Freidman himself) to carbon emission credits+a market to trade them.

            I feel as if I may have fundamentally misunderstood ancap altogether if this kind of thing is compatible.

          • TD says:

            @ Vox Imperatoris

            I was under the impression that David was an anarcho-capitalist, and since the foundational element of anarcho-capitalism is the non-aggression principle, the entire point of the philosophy seems to be objection to intervention against private property stemming directly from an ethical principle.

            Unless you mean something different by “principle” than I do. Sorry if I’m not expressing myself clearly.

            You see, I also believe that reassigning ownership is typically going to lead to worse results in practice. It’s just that my threshold for “typically” is going to be entirely different than someone deep into Austrian economics (or the modified form Murray Rothbard went with), and I don’t have an underlying ethical principle that treats reassignment as being immoral in principle, since the particular circumstances matter a lot.

            I see private property as being a right that principally stems from the state, and is protected by the state, which is completely 180 degrees from the anarcho-capitalist view, and I suspect fairly deviant from the views of most minarchists, who seem to more begrudgingly accept the nightwatchman state than anything.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ TrivialGravitas:

            I was referring to our regular commenter David Friedman, not his father Milton Friedman. David, I’m sure, knows best what his father thought. As far as I know, however, Milton Friedman only advocated UBI as superior to the existing welfare system. And “Chicago economics” has no necessary connection to cap-and-trade.

            Certainly, neither welfare nor cap-and-trade would likely exist under anarcho-capitalism of the sort David Friedman advocates.

            @ TD:

            David Friedman does not argue from the basis of the “non-aggression principle”. He is a very different sort of anarcho-capitalist from, say, Murray Rothbard.

            Unless he wants to explain his views personally, you might want to read his book The Machinery of Freedom or at least Scott’s review of it.

          • TD says:

            @Vox Imperatoris

            Ah, that’s interesting. I didn’t account for consequentialist anarcho-capitalism.

          • “And the Anglo-Saxons stole England from the Romans, and the Romans stole England from the Celts”

            By the time the Anglo-Saxons showed up, the Celts had it back, so the Anglo-Saxons stole it from them.

          • @TD:

            “and since the foundational element of anarcho-capitalism is the non-aggression principle”

            Lots of minarchist libertarians claim to believe in the non-aggression principle and not all anarcho-capitalists do, so that isn’t the distinction between them. The question is whether one gets better results (consequentially or in terms of natural rights or perhaps a mix, depending on one’s values) with or without a state.

            “I see private property as being a right that principally stems from the state”

            I think you are mistaken. To begin with, a primitive form of private property, territorial behavior, predates not only the state but the existence of our species. Private property exists in stateless societies as well as societies with states. For an explanation of rights as a description of behavior, not of morality, see:

            http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Property/Property.html

            For a recent talk on private, decentralized law enforcement, with historical examples:

            http://www.daviddfriedman.com/MyTalks/Feud%20isflv.mp3

    • eh says:

      As a recovering ex-Trot, I’ll try to explain, and I’ll try to add some mindkillingly-loaded language and guilt-tripping just for the hell of it: you’ve been warned.

      I: the definitions on their own and the narrative behind them.

      “The {ultra-rich|capitalist bankers|1%|old boys network|} are criminal” is a way of begging the question – it assumes that the reader agrees that the the current legal system is unjust and illegitimate, and by making that assumption it leads them to actually believe it. It’s used in much the same sense as “Kim Jong-Il is a criminal” or “Hitler was the biggest criminal of the 20th century”. The Kims are certainly not criminals in North Korea. As far as I’m aware Hitler wasn’t found a criminal by his own legal system. Most readers will agree that they are criminals because most readers respect different justice systems and different laws.

      “The poor are mostly driven to crime through poverty”, on the other hand, is a statement from which logically follows the conclusion that if the poor weren’t living in poverty they wouldn’t commit so many crimes, and thus that if someone is keeping the poor in poverty then that person is the truly responsible one. Q.E.D., eat the rich.

      II: the seeming contradiction between the two.

      When comparing the two statements of crime, it’s probably a matter of whether we’re comparing impact or number. From the perspective of a hypothetical legal system which distinguishes between personal and private property and criminalises the latter, most crimes in our current day are minor in impact and caused by poverty. On the other hand, truly heinous crimes like manufacturing a solid gold toilet to sell to wealthy industrialists, hereditary monarchs, and anyone else with a lot of cash, all the while spruiking your unnecessary status-signalling goldsmithing produce, while so many people die needless deaths, is a major crime limited mostly to the very wealthy.

      By the exponential nature of capital ownership and by the nature of middle- and working-class debt, Warren Buffet is worth 22 million African lives while I am worth -5, so our hypothetical court hands him a charge of homicide for each death that came as a result of the malaria nets he didn’t hand out. Case closed, he’s off to the Gulags.

      III: commentary

      Such a belief system rests on the unstated understanding that

      A) none of its adherents will ever be rich, and
      B) that relying on the lower classes to solve the world’s problems with their tiny disposable income is like endeavouring to save a man dying of thirst by wringing your sweat and tears out of your tshirt into his mouth while there’s a perfectly drinkable lake a few metres away behind a rickety fence with “KEEP OUT” written on it.

      I don’t think this is an accurate perception of the world, but it’s certainly comforting to look Moloch right between the horns and see nothing but a handful of capitalist oligarchs.

      • Frog Do says:

        Thank you! Is there a good narrative around some idea of “bad behavior/bad people/etc”, to avoid the problems with dealing with what’s legal and what’s not?

        • eh says:

          The narrative of “revolutionary socialism” (euphemism for communism and/or Marxism and/or whatever the fuck you want it to mean) is simple enough that you almost certainly already know it: value not created by direct human labour rightfully belongs to humanity as a whole, and anyone who takes advantage of it is using some kind of threat to the rest of us in line.

          Imagine you don’t understand coordination problems, have not learnt the hard way that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, or think that you could design a system to maximise usage of resources better than a market by applying linear programming/deep learning/some kind of tree search to a mathematical model based on utilions. You might conclude that the current economic model has been purposefully broken by the people who profit from it. In other words, as I alluded to before, you blame Scott’s Moloch, Bostrom’s insatiable dragon, and Yudkowsky’s whatever-he-calls-it, on the people who have the capacity to implement your vision of utopia, but don’t.

          If you believe that, then the depths of the horror of what those people have done is limited only by your ability to understand the sheer weight of preventable human suffering in the world. Imagine HPMOR, only Harry is a muggle leading a probably futile rebellion against a magical elite who could have saved the entirety of humanity all along.

          This is obviously not what everyone on the far left believes, since most of them care about much less SSC-like problems, but the basic idea is the same: most problems can be solved by either throwing money at them or removing the structures designed to funnel cash to the already-wealthy, and the people with the most money bear the most responsibility for not doing so.

    • Adam says:

      Granting that you know different clever lefties than I do, I haven’t really seen the latter sentiment expressed much. I’ve definitely seen the sentiment expressed that white collar crime is far more likely to go unpunished, and maybe that a majority of some very specific subset of rich people during one very particular time period, like the executives of banks with large stakes in the secondary mortgage market during 2003-2008, acted in some criminal manner, but that a literal majority of all rich people are criminals? Who are the people you’re seeing express this? Stop following them and surround yourself with more reasonable people.

      • Frog Do says:

        When I talk about lefties I’m talking about The Left, that is, very much non-liberals, the sorts of people who see social democrats as conservatives or at least center-right. I say this mostly because of a couple effortposts I saw on tumblr from these sorts of people, and I wanted to stay away from the idea of legality because it seemed more like they were making moral arguments, and I didn’t understand their base for those.

        And for the record, I pretty much only follow the far-left, the far-right, and the radical center (which is where I consider SSC). Though the difference between them seems more like language than policy, most of the time.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          Can you elaborate on radical center there? Do you mean Third Way or what?

          • Frog Do says:

            In this case, I mean people who propose what would be considered by the Establishment and “most people” radical policies supported by the right and others supported by the left in some combination, but have a tone of moderation and appeal to rational discourse. There was a discussion a while back on the “moderation” of Freddie deBoer, when he is a solid leftist by way of Marx, he’s just “reasonable” in tone and talks like he wants to win instead of signal.

            And I was also making a joke about recent broader-rational-sphere arguments about fascism, do ho ho. Maybe I make too many jokes.

        • Adam says:

          Okay. I actually have seen roughly that sentiment expressed by the four or five anarcho-communists I know. It seemed initially you were asking a question about a more general group of people.

          • Frog Do says:

            What made it seem like that, if you don’t mind me asking?

          • Adam says:

            The way campaign rhetoric has so badly watered down political characterization that 90% of the world might be called ‘lefties,’ though granted, nobody would call that many people ‘clever.’

  17. John Hall says:

    What percent of psychiatry patients are men vs. women?

    • Murphy says:

      Overall rates of psychiatric disorder are almost identical for men and women.

      Individual disorders however can be strongly over represented in one gender or the other.

    • aanon smith-teller says:

      99%. (The remainder are various shades of transgender.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Complicated depending on what you count (substance abuse?) and how you measure (people who choose to go to doctors?). Conventional wisdom is somewhere around 50-50. Just checked my own patient list and it’s 50-50 too.

  18. hlynkacg says:

    Apologies if this is a bit scatter-shot but I don’t get to an open thread before it has 500+ comments very often.

    Anyway, in the guns and states posts there was some discussion of “masculinity”. Several people asserted that masculinity was the willingness to embrace violence. As a former boxer I really liked this answer, but it feels incomplete.

    Now I have a theory that I want to run by the commentariat.

    In much the same way that there is “feminine virtue” associated with being maternal and nurturing, there is a “masculine virtue” associated with being ready to suffer through the meaner aspects of life. Violence is a key aspect of this, but not the defining aspect.

    In the comments of Staying Classy Xtmar says of “the Gentry”:

    They live in the real world, but are sufficiently insulated from the shocks of the world that their connection to the meaner parts of it is very tenuous.

    I would assert that this connection is the real essence of what we call “masculinity”.

    As a kid you never had to worry about the price of food or rent that was your parents job. But as you get older you’re expected to “man up” and handle your own affairs.

    Do you think the infamous Pajama Boy ever had a problem that wasn’t a “first world problem”. Do really think that he has ever made a choice that had real and lasting consequences? I’m guessing the answer is no, and that’s why I instinctively categorize him as childish and effeminate.

    Meanwhile women like Queen Elisabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Angela Merkel were able to rise to the top of ostensibly patriarchal societies, leading armies and commanding the loyalty of millions by demonstrating a certain willingness to get their metaphorical hands dirty and put their own asses on the line because that’s what real empowerment requires.

    • Frog Do says:

      My favorite short book related to this is Yukio Mishima’s “Sun and Steel”. There’s also a lot of talk in the Christian Dominionist/Calvinist side of the internet that it is the ability to be cut off from the community/polis and suffer, and through suffering become strong. Separateness is the key concept, constrasted with feminine community. Vision quests, mascunlitity rites, knights kneeling and praying overnight, etc.

    • duckofdeath says:

      Not to say that they didn’t have the qualities you mention. But Queen Elisabeth rose to the top entirely as a result of inheritance, and Indira Gandhi did it mostly through inheritance.

      • hlynkacg says:

        In both cases there were others who could have staked a claim so you can’t discount their rise as entirely inheritance.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Elizabeth’s rival claimant was another woman, so he’s still kinda right.

          • duckofdeath says:

            Actually I brainfarted and thought he was talking about Elizabeth II. I saw Elizabeth in a list of 20th/21st century woman leaders and assumed she fit the pattern. I agree that you can’t honestly describe Elizabeth I’s ascension to the throne as being primarily the result of inheritance considering the difficulty she faced in surviving that long and out-maneuvering rival claimants.

    • Mammon says:

      IMHO – masculinity is probably more about dominance, about dishing out violence rather than just being exposed to it.

      (But then I’m a guy who hates hanging out with guys, and who is outrageously successful romantically with lesbian women. So take this with a grain of salt – I might not know that much about masculinity.)

      • Sastan says:

        This is the uncharitable and immature outsider’s view, quite often. And much male interaction is dominance-based, but that is not the essence. In fact, it is the resistance to this that marks masculinity. Essentially, masculinity is the solution to the problem of wayward masculinity. To be strong, and thereby protect the weak. Not to be the predator that necessitates the protection.

        Outside the venue of casual conflict, male social organs are extremely efficient and cooperative, moreso than female ones. There will be a shaking out period where the local heirarchy is established, and roles assigned, but once that happens, everyone knows where they stand and what is expected. In healthy groups, leadership is much more about responsibility than dominance.

        And within the sphere of dominance, it matters greatly what that dominance display is being used for. If it’s a pissing match outside a bar, that’s a failure. If it’s a coach psyching his team up for a game, or a sergeant correcting a new soldier, it’s just another tactic toward a goal.

        • Hlynkacg says:

          Sastan says:This is the uncharitable and immature outsider’s view, quite often. And much male interaction is dominance-based, but that is not the essence.

          Agreed, which is why when confronted with the pure violence/dominance theory I felt the need to dig. I can think of several examples of men who did not fit this mold but who still qualify as “capital M” Manly even in the eyes of “Red Pill” types.

          This connection to the meaner bits of life and the virtue of “toughness/standing up for ones self” seem to be the common thread.

    • Nita says:

      This sex-segregated model of virtue has a few flaws:

      1. Defining strength and responsibility as “men’s virtues” leads us to think of women as inherently weak and irresponsible. E.g., in your comment: “I instinctively categorize him as childish and effeminate“. You explained the childish part, but where did “effeminate” come from?

      2. Defining care and nurturing as “women’s virtues” erases or even denigrates the valuable roles and behaviors of many men. When a father takes care of his children, is he being “feminine”? If a man chooses to go into nursing, is he “effeminate”?

      tl;dr: Be caring when appropriate, be tough when appropriate. Base your decisions on the entire set of circumstances, not only on the shape of your genitals.

      • eh says:

        This is a criticism more of the morality of what we’re modeling than of the model itself. A map of Mordor can be beneficial, even though Mordor itself is awful. There’s a very good reason that many people all over the political spectrum are unimpressed with current gender roles, but that doesn’t mean that gendered virtues aren’t currently women=(soft/flexible/caring/social) man=(strong/brittle/stoic/independent), even if they should probably be changed.

        Regarding 1. and 2., this is the pajama boy ad. He’s wearing a female or androgynous watch (thin delicate strap), androgynous glasses (wide oval-ish shape), he has comparatively little upper body strength, and he’s holding the world’s tiniest cup in two limp and slender hands. He looks a tad feminine, although still identifiably male.

        This is a picture of Merkel. She’s wearing a workmanlike black blouse with slightly padded shoulders, has short hair, is quite stocky, has a relatively androgynous silver necklace on, is gripping a podium while leaning slightly towards the camera, and is gesturing with an outstretched hand while a flag leans behind her. She looks powerful, and she looks a little masculine.

        Any disagreement here would be helpful: others may have a different take on the images, but this was mine, and I think it would be the general agreement amongst people I know. Hopefully we can talk about gender in the open thread in a kind, truthful, and necessary way.

        • Nita says:

          This is a criticism more of the morality of what we’re modeling than of the model itself.

          Oh, I assumed that Hlynka was aiming at a prescriptive account of masculinity.

          He’s wearing a female or androgynous watch

          I think you mean “a women’s or unisex watch”. “A female watch” gives a slightly disturbing mental image.

          More substantially, the kid’s wearing an old-fashioned watch, because he’s a hipster. And he’s holding an ordinary coffee cup (i.e., not a mug) — he’d look even younger / more childish if the cup were larger. I’ve no idea what you mean by “androgynous glasses” — what do “manly” glasses look like? Something like this?

          Merkel is wearing a jacket — as expected from a middle-aged woman in a public office. An image search for her name will show you Ms Merkel in similarly formal women’s outfits in various colors. And here’s an image of Margaret Thatcher, not looking terribly masculine in her make-up and pearls.

          It seems to me like a large part of your perception is driven by their body shape (the kid is young and skinny, Merkel is older and “quite stocky”, as you said) and by the circumstances when the picture was taken (the kid is — supposedly — relaxing with his family at home, Merkel is giving an official speech at work).

          And even more substantially — so, we’ve found an image of a gentle-looking young man, and an image of a no-nonsense-looking older lady. What does this tell us about masculinity or femininity?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            And even more substantially — so, we’ve found an image of a gentle-looking young man, and an image of a no-nonsense-looking older lady. What does this tell us about masculinity or femininity?

            It tells us that what you euphemistically call gentleness is decidedly unmasculine. Most people have an immediate disgust reaction to seeing a man behaving that way, yet analogous images of women are generally considered cute.

            More interestingly to me, the fact that no-nonsense older women don’t generally provoke this disgust reaction seems to imply that being no-nonsense is not particularly unfeminine above a certain age.

          • nil says:

            I’d object to “most people.” The disgustingness of pajama boy is a Red shibboleth, and as is usually the case with those things, it’s not reflected in Bluetopia. In fact, I’d argue that the differing views of masculinity are a huge part of what is driving the two cultures apart in the first place.

          • Nita says:

            @ Dr Dealgood

            Most people have an immediate disgust reaction to seeing a man behaving that way

            In what way? Cradling a cup in his hands while wearing pajamas?
            Are you also disgusted when you see a man cradling a child, for example?

            Or how about this: imagine a really buff dude, like a stereotypical lumberjack, being gentle. Still disgusted? How much of this is about the behavior, and how much is about body shape?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            I think the difference between the father’s genuinely masculine gentleness and pajama boy’s euphemistic ‘gentleness’ was best expressed by Nietzsche:

            Of all evil I deem you capable: Therefore I want good from you. Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.

            That ties into your other question about body type versus behavior. A weak body is unmasculine and so is a weak character.

          • Alex says:

            Nita, Dr. Dealgood:

            The Doctor’s argument fits in nicely with the power-warmth dichotomy as discussed in the link I posted below (comments tree structure to be damned). The picture seems to scream “warmth”, i. e. feminity.

            So, if that is true, yes there is a discrepancy to observe between the person’s apparent gender and the gender signal as defined by the photograph’s content.

            It seems obvious that such discrepancy can cause strong reactions (e. g. disgust) but that it should be the same reaction in “most people” is pure rhetorics.

          • I *like* pajama boy. I’m not fond of his pajamas (don’t fit? excessively heavy flannel?), but he looks like someone I’d like and trust– intelligent, interested, and temperamentally solid.

            I bet it’s the flannel. He looks like he’s in a warm room.

            Just as further evidence of how odd my tastes are, I thought Legolas in the movies was *ugly*. The effect has worn off to the point where I think it’s merely plain, but this is absolutely not what inhuman beauty looks like.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @ Dr Dealgood

            I would agree that the distinction between weakness and gentleness is important. Gentleness being capability coupled with restraint.

            Further more I would assert that this is what allows men like MLK, Mahatma Gahndi, or Mister Rogers to trip the “M for Manly” circuit in a lot of people’s brains despite being otherwise non-threatening.

          • eh says:

            Coming back rather late, I don’t think “he looks gentle” when I see this, I think “he looks kind of like a woman”, and the inverse for Merkel. I’m not disgusted by either of them, I have a similar reaction to someone who sees a pug and thinks “that dog looks a bit like a cat”, and I’ve tried to outline why.

            What this tells us about masculinity and femininity, as I perceive them, is that they’re correlated with how hard/soft the subject is. For a more ridiculous and hopefully less controversial example, I see this giant piece of mining equipment as masculine and this bit of moss as feminine. This reaction doesn’t feel voluntary, and seems to be shared by a number of other commenters.

            I’m curious as to how someone would understand masculinity and femininity without an intuitive approach. This might be the source of the difference of opinion: “be consistent in gender” is a strange and arbitrary rule without a sense of gender, in the same sense that “act less green” is a strange and arbitrary to those of us without synaesthesia.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            You’re ignoring the vaguely smug facial expression and the hipster glasses. “Disgust reaction” sounds like waaay to strong a statement, but, to use plain words, the guy certainly has what many, many people would deem a “punchable face”.

          • Nornagest says:

            @purple anon — You’re in these comments, and you’re trying to score points by accusing people of being outside the norm?

          • Chalid says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            Serious question – You say that that that photo triggers your disgust reaction. How often do you have disgust reactions to this sort of thing during your day? Is it just for photos or does it trigger for people in the street, the effeminate waiter at your local restaurant, etc.?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            So I’ve been mostly ignoring this thread about “pajama boy”, and then I look at the actual picture.

            You’re all getting worked up about this? He looks perfectly normal. If it causes a “disgust reaction” in you, the fault lies not in his pajamas but in yourselves.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @ Vox
            As I said elsewhere, outrage is not the word I would choose, nor is the reaction disgust per say.

            The issue is that, as Nornagest says:

            This genre of ad works by saying “this cool person, who you should look up to, buys our product. Why aren’t you buying it?” Now, when the cool person in question could be an allegorical portrait of smug frivolity, what does that say about how the ad’s backers feel about you?

            Personally, I’m kind of insulted. But the insult is less interesting and less important to me than the meta analysis. 😉

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Chalid,

            Serious question – You say that that that photo triggers your disgust reaction. How often do you have disgust reactions to this sort of thing during your day? Is it just for photos or does it trigger for people in the street, the effeminate waiter at your local restaurant, etc.?

            I don’t really encounter very many people like that in my day-to-day life, so not that often. There’s a business intern in my lab’s building who looks fairly pajama boyish and I occasionally accrete self-proclaimed friends who are into the effeminacy + neoteny thing but for the most part we just don’t move in the same circles.

            Also I’m from the city so my default is to filter people out if they’re not important. Random pedestrians don’t register for me except in the blindsight-esque avoiding obstacles sense.

            For clarification, when I say disgust it’s less of a “SPIDER! Kill it!” reaction and more like someone with very poor hygiene. Gross but you can still put a smile on and be friendly if you have a reason to.

            @Everyone else,

            Thank you for your unsolicited advice on my mental health. I’ll go get treatment for my unPC thoughts immediately.

          • Adam says:

            He just looks like a little kid. Jeez. I wasn’t all the masculine when I was 12, either. What this tells us about masculinity and femininity is they’re barely meaningful prior to people going through enough puberty to acquire secondary sex characteristics.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            From what I can gather from the (restricted) internet, he was probably 22-23 at the time the picture was taken.

          • SUT says:

            @Vox
            Pajama Boy confirms the worst suspicions just like the Julia ad from Obama’s 2012 campaign.

            The Julia interactive website showed a 20-something woman #winning in life by eventually retiring alone and getting to participate in community gardening!

            Just as Julia should aspire to connect with more people, Pajama boy should aspire to be more manly (Even if it is really cold). Both ads portrayed Dem’s as settlers or people who couldn’t hack it, thus both became acceptable to lampoon.

          • Nornagest says:

            @purple anon — Not what I’m getting at (but thanks for the free psychoanalysis, bro). Let me be more explicit.

            Practically everyone here lives in a bubble of weird (and WEIRD) people and weird politics. You can’t trust anecdotes about what is and isn’t normal, because it’s typically going to be normal relative to a baseline that’s three or four sigmas out on every conceivable axis. Now, not everyone is like that, but if you wanna argue that you have a better perspective, it’s on you to prove it.

            That applies to Dr Dealgood as much as to you, and it would have been appropriate to say so. But it’s a lot ruder to imply mental illness in another commentator than it is to talk about Joe Sixpack’s preferences, and so it’s polite to use a higher standard of evidence when you’re doing it.

        • Alex says:

          Same question to you as to “hlynkacg”:

          What are you trying to explain/prove?

          You can arbitrarily call any set of virtues manly or womanly. You then can find examples for these sets, apparently from both genders. So we can conclude that you named the sets poorly in the first place, no?

          Or is it that you are giving us a data-point of your subjective mental image of manly and womanly virtues so that, if we all did the same, we could aggregate and thus build a map of Mordor? In which case some of the work not suprisingly has been done already, e. g. http://psp.sagepub.com/content/27/9/1164.short

          • Nita says:

            So, the study seems to show that:

            1) Men tend to think of men as “stronger” (confident, dominant, potent, loud, bold, dynamic), but not “colder” (detached, harsh, rigid, surly, rude, hostile, cruel).

            2) Women tend to think of women as “warmer” (nice, caring, gentle, pleasant, supportive), but not “weaker” (timid, vulnerable, fragile, failures, losers).

            3) If you remove the positive/negative valence implicit in the dichotomies (i.e., instead of “strong vs weak”, give them “destroy vs feeble”, “loud vs quiet” or “mighty vs gentle”), men and women display a much more similar pattern of stereotypes.

            4) “[M]en and women who associated self with potency (or warmth) also associated their gender with potency (or warmth).”

            The various opinions expressed in this thread (e.g., manly men being outraged at “pajama boy”) do appear to fit neatly into their model.

          • hlynkacg says:

            u1 = 256.0 / 2048.0;
            v1 = 64.0 / 1024.0;
            u2 = 288.0 / 2048.0;
            v2 = 96.0 / 1024.0;
            src3du = u1;
            src3dv = v1;
            src3dh = (u2 – u1) * 2;
            src3dw = (v2 – v1) / 2;

          • hlynkacg says:

            Outrage is not the word I would choose, nor is the reaction disgust per say.

            The outrage, if there is any, is in the implied message of the ad, “This is how we see you”.

          • Nita says:

            @ hlynkacg

            It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around that. I’ve been annoyed at excessively stereotypical portrayals of women, but insufficiently stereotypical ones? I guess this is related to the self-image/stereotype interaction described in the study Alex linked.

            I.e., I don’t consider myself particularly feminine or “warm”, so pro-stereotypical portrayals of women-in-general can rub me the wrong way, while counter-stereotypical portrayals feel refreshing. You, on the other hand, seem to see yourself as manly and strong, therefore pro-stereotypical portrayals of men are affirming, but counter-stereotypical portrayals are disturbing.

            (As a side note, I think the kid was supposed to represent “very young adults”, not “men”.)

          • eh says:

            >What are you trying to explain/prove?

            I’m trying to explain that the expectations set by the categories are not at all easy to circumvent, in contrast to what “base your decisions on the entire set of circumstances, not only on the shape of your genitals” would suggest. In doing so, I’ve fallen victim to the typical mind fallacy, since a significant number of other people see pajama boy as normal, not particularly smug, and masculine.

            In contrast, I see a set of extremely effeminate and pretentious behaviors – relating to dress, posture, and body shape – that bias me against him. Without knowing anything about him, I automatically assume he’d be the kind of man who’d call you at 1AM hyperventilating over something ridiculous; who probably went to a private school where nobody would call him gay for drinking fairtrade hot chocolate from an actual cup, rather than blend 43 or cheap teabags from a chipped mug; and who, if he was punched, would respond by screaming and thrashing rather than either defusing the situation or swinging back. None of this is remotely fair to him, he’s probably the head of the AMF or a famous search and rescue operative or something, but he symbolically represents both a type of freedom that I don’t have and a type of man I don’t like.

            Merkel, too, makes me glad she’s not my mother or my wife. She seems hard as nails and and sterile as a hospital ward from the bad old days. She’s probably absolutely lovely behind closed doors, but since when has logic stood in the way of implicit association?

            Regardless of whether it’s stupid to feel these things, regardless of whether it’s morally wrong or mindkilling or derogatory to women who display strength or denigrating to men who care for their children or red tribe or arbitrary, I still feel them, and apparently, so do others. Given this context, I hope I’ve clarified what I mean about mapping Mordor: I’m not particularly proud of the way I see pajama boy, but it’s hard to like him.

          • Alex says:

            >>> “Regardless of whether it’s stupid to feel these things, regardless of whether it’s morally wrong or mindkilling or derogatory to women who display strength or denigrating to men who care for their children or red tribe or arbitrary, I still feel them, and apparently, so do others. Given this context, I hope I’ve clarified what I mean about mapping Mordor: I’m not particularly proud of the way I see pajama boy, but it’s hard to like him.”

            Thank you.

          • Pajama boy is probably a model. I have no idea what models tend to be like personally.

            His accessories were no doubt chosen for him.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @ Nita
            I think calling it “insufficiently stereotypical” is a misnomer, IMO it’s more like talking to an adult as if they were a 5-year old. Conversely, less conventional characterizations such as the classic dandy, GBTQ, and other eccentric types don’t seem to trigger nearly the same reaction.

            There a kind of “uncanny valley” going on where pajama boy is close enough to the mean to be recognizable, while still being far enough “off” to fail the metaphorical Turing Test.

            @eh
            I agree with your initial assessment, but at the same time have almost the exact opposite reaction to Merkel.

            @Alex
            Pretty much.

          • Creutzer says:

            Conversely, less conventional characterizations such as the classic dandy, GBTQ, and other eccentric types don’t seem to trigger nearly the same reaction.

            Presumably because they do not in any way aspire to being considered within the social norm. Pyjama boy probably thinks that people like him should be considered normal. This is offensive to those who find him misguided/disgusting/whatever.

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around that. I’ve been annoyed at excessively stereotypical portrayals of women, but insufficiently stereotypical ones? […] (As a side note, I think the kid was supposed to represent “very young adults”, not “men”.)

            He’s supposed to represent “millennials”, or perhaps “millennial men”, and that’s exactly what annoys me about him. This genre of ad works by saying “this cool person, who you should look up to, buys our product. Why aren’t you buying it?” Now, when the cool person in question could be an allegorical portrait of smug frivolity, what does that say about how the ad’s backers feel about you?

            It’s not even that he looks unmasculine per se; it’s the way he codes femme. There are masculine stereotypes with the same connotations. (Conversely, ballet is extremely femme but it takes a hell of a lot of work, and if the ad focused on a male dancer I wouldn’t have looked twice.)

          • Alex says:

            Nancy, Nornagest and others:

            Well, if I encountered pajama boy in a government funded (?) ad rather than a discussion about stereotypes on the Internet, I’d surely hate everything the ad stands for and perhaps the government responsible (though as governments go, this seems to be a minor offense).

            But something else seems to be going on here, where it is the actual guy and the accessoires he was given, that are hated.

          • Nita says:

            @ Creutzer

            Eh, are dandies and gay men OK with being considered abnormal and disgusting? That’s news to me.

          • Nornagest says:

            @Alex — Wiki says the ad comes from a nominally independent advocacy house in Barack Obama’s orbit. It also says it became infamous when Obama retweeted it on his own account, though to be honest I hadn’t heard of it until these comments. I don’t follow many conservative blogs, though, and I definitely don’t follow flaks.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @ Nornagest
            I think that most of the conservative blogosphere would agree with you.

            Further more, I’d say your male ballet dancer is yet another example of those “less conventional characterizations” I mentioned.

          • Creutzer says:

            @Nita: That strikes me as an oddly uncharitable reading of what I said. I meant to say that classical dandies and flashily homosexual people are participating in a subculture and don’t aspire to being considered normal representatives of mainstream society.

          • Nita says:

            @ Creutzer

            I might be misunderstanding you again, but it seems like “mainstream” is doing a significant amount of work in your re-formulation. Many people don’t want to be considered “mainstream”, but they still think of themselves as “normal” rather than “abnormal”.

          • Creutzer says:

            No, I think it’s “normal” that is doing significant work in your misunderstanding. I was using it in a sense in which its opposite is supposed to be “unusual”, not the pejorative “abnormal”. The classic dandy thinks “I’m unusual and I know it and I’m fine with it because I like what I’m doing”. Pyjama boy probably doesn’t consider himself as an unusual member of a subculture, but as a normal representative of, if not his society, then at least his generation, a claim which can be threatening to people who would have this not be the case. I think Nornagest above may have done a better job of explaining what I take to be a very similar idea.

          • Anonymous says:

            It also says it became infamous when Obama retweeted it on his own account,

            This makes a lot more sense now. Republicans getting weirdly obsessed about minor things that they think somehow reflect badly on Democrats and then talking about them for years and years and years is a well known pattern.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous:

            To be fair, Democrats doing the same with things Republicans say is also a well-known pattern.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            People are dicks? Shit, we might be onto something here, guys.

        • Nornagest says:

          The watch just looks like a watch to me — a women’s watch (or a formal men’s watch, but those are only supposed to be worn with suits) would have a smaller face. We don’t have a good angle on the strap, but I think it’s the regular width.

          But everything else, yeah, pretty femme. The facial expression is doing a lot of work too, with the demure closed-mouth smirk and the arched eyebrows.

      • Hlynkacg says:

        Nita says: This sex-segregated model of virtue has a few flaws

        I agree, but how things “ought to be” is a separate question from how they are. Fact of the matter is that for, lack of a better term, the Maternal instinct seems to be encoded at a very deep level. If it is a purely social construct I think that it likely predates spoken language. Likewise I am suggesting that there is a mirror/complimentary instinct that a lot of modern society ignores.

        I honestly don’t know where the effeminate in “childish and effeminate” came from. What I’m doing is reporting my experience and offering a possible explanation. The typical line of thinking is to blame “the patriarchy”, but I find this explanation unsatisfying because it seems to contradict the observation that ostensibly patriarchal groups will fall inline behind a women who displays a certain quality.

        That quality is what I’m trying to nail down.

    • Viliam says:

      Seems to me that traditionally, men are expected at minimum to solve their own problems, and at best to solve other people’s problems, too. Men are expected to be well-functional in special-purpose male groups (craft or military), egalitarian or hierarchical, but in the absence of the group or if the group fails to perform its duties, the best men are still expected to take “heroic responsibility” to solve the problem. Men are also expected to volunteer in situations which put their lives or health in danger.

      The relation to violence is that often “the problem” is someone else being violent against you, or against people you care about. Men are expected to be able to fight back, and to be prepared for such situation (i.e. exercise regularly, train with weapons).

      Women are expected to use their social skills, work in informal groups, promote social harmony and emotional well-being, protect their own health, raise and protect their children. (This parahraph is shorter not because I think the women’s role is more simple, but because I feel less qualified to describe it.)

      In some sense, lower-class men are more “masculine”, because they face existential problems more frequently. Middle-class men are quite sheltered from such problems, so it is very easy for them to neglect the “masculine virtues”. Upper-class men are also more “masculine”, because they fight for the few positions at the top.

    • Alex says:

      What are you trying to explain with that “theory” of yours?

      • Hlynkacg says:

        Long story short, I am trying to rectify my mental image/instincts (the map) with the terrain.

        • Alex says:

          Ok, but is it a map of:

          a) commonly held stereotypes
          b) biological difference
          c) the ideal of what masculinity and, maybe to lesser extent, femininity ought to be.

          ?

          On a) and b) there is science ™ though I fear even science ist distorted by c). Naturally, c) is way in the realm of opinion, or, if you are so inclinedl, faith.

          I linked a study on a) above that to me seemed convincing.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            If I had to guess, mostly C and B which go on to inform A.

            Though with less “ought” and more “what is?”

          • Alex says:

            But an “ideal” without the “ought to” is just a “stereotype”?!

          • Hlynkacg says:

            One could say the same thing of any observation.

          • Alex says:

            Only insofar as I forgot

            b’) socially constructed differences.

            the b)s are “what is”, c) ist what “ought to be” and a) is what people think that is.

            And while it could be worthwhile to map any of the three I’d strongly advocate to draw three different maps for (IMO) three very differen things.

    • TheAncientGeek says:

      > Meanwhile women like Queen Elisabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Angela Merkel

      Those aren’t good examples. Boudica would be better.

      • Hlynkacg says:

        I don’t know enough about Boudica off the top of my head to judge.

        I would however take issue with the idea that they are not good examples.

    • dndnrsn says:

      A thought, about the “man up” thing: Usually, valuing adherence to gender roles is seen as a right-wing thing, and valuing breaking them down is seen as a left-wing thing. Masculine gender roles tend to value being dominant (physically and socially), high-status, aggressive, solving one’s own problems, solving others’ problems, and so on. Someone who says “men should behave like this” would probably be coded as a right-winger, whether of the classic conservative variety or the “He-Man Women Hater’s Club” variety.

      However, when I look at men who are vocal male feminists/feminist allies, be they big-name public figures or guys I know in real life, there are a lot of ways in which they are fulfilling a traditional model of masculinity: often aggressive (socially speaking), status-seeking, proclaiming dominance over other men, often (at least implicitly) having a message of “women can’t save themselves, we must do it for them”. These guys are often all in favour of breaking down gender roles – but the way in which they advocate for that is recognizably masculine.

      In contrast, take men’s rights activists of the classic variety, the ones who really emphasize their own vulnerability, how they are at the mercy of a cruel society, who complain that the deck is stacked against them – they are often viewed as right-wing (probably because their opposition is left wing, whether they themselves are right wing or not are irrelevant). In my (limited, non-scientific) experience, while feminists of whatever gender tend to really dislike men’s rights activists, to say the least, the male ones really express contempt for them in a way the women don’t. Women often express that they feel threatened by men’s rights activists – but I’ve seen men describe them as pathetic, whiny, etc much more than women.

      It occurred to me that this contempt might be rooted in the disgust that men often have for other men who show themselves to be weak – they’re behaving in a manner that can be seen as feminine, showing vulnerability, asking for others to have consideration for them, and ultimately failing at masculinity. They’re revealing that they cannot stand up for themselves on their own. Below the surface, the male-feminist/ally types express contempt for the “let’s-sit-in-a-circle-and-cry-about-divorce-courts” types in the same way that someone like Jack Donovan would (he’d just talk a lot more about how those guys had proven they were no good at fighting bears, or whatever).

      Does this sound reasonable? It just seemed to me rather ironic.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        It seems perfectly plausible to me.

        The Men’s Rights Movement uses a lot of the intellectual structure and tactics of feminism. Dr Beat could tell you more, he’s an actual MRA, but I’m pretty sure that they were originally male ‘Allies’ of feminism who spun off their own ideology.

        Addressing issues like stacked divorce courts, Dworkinian domestic violence laws, etc could probably be done in a way that signals strength. But because of their lineage MRAs try to frame it with themselves as sympathetic victims and wind up just sounding pathetic instead.

        • dndnrsn says:

          My impression is that there’s more than one group calling themselves MRAs. The classic MRAs a la Farrell seem to be essentially a heresy that developed among male feminists/pro-feminists/feminist allies in the 80s.

          Compare them to the Red Pill guys (whose ideology has leaked into parts of the MRAs) – the RP guys are very into biological reductionism, sex/gender roles based in biology, etc. A classic MRA might complain that it’s bad that men are expected to signal strength/dominance all the time, while RP guys think that signalling strength/dominance is awesome, and have built a whole system around that signalling, ways to simulate strength and dominance better, and so on.

          They seem to be far more focused on individual-level things: where a classic MRA might complain that the family courts are biased, and demand that law and policy be changed, an RP guy is probably going to advise either not marrying, or behaving in a way that’s supposed to mitigate supposed risk.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Red Pill guys don’t generally call themselves MRAs: it’s the other way around.

            TRP is an umbrella tarp over all sorts of folks who have different goals. PUAs and other self-improvement types generally see MRAs as whining about their problems without doing anything, and MGTOW as pathetic virgins. MRAs don’t like the politics that a lot of prominent PUAs have picked up from the AltRight, and afaik don’t care about MGTOW. And MGTOW or Incel types just need somewhere to vent.

            Or at least that’s how it was a few years ago. The Internet changes pretty quickly but I doubt MRAs have been able to absorb the Red Pill completely in that time.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Dr Dealgood:

            My understanding of it is that the TRP position – usually represented as something they realized when the scales fell from their eyes, thus the Matrix reference – is that men and women are inherently different, due primarily to biological reasons (they usually throw some evo-psych in). They generally make the further claims that men and women have different and often competing interests, and that society serves women’s interests better than men’s.

            The classic MRAs were disaffected former male feminists – and what they share in common with feminists is that they are largely social constructionists, and ostensibly egalitarians. Their complaint is what they see as mainstream feminism pushing for equality, but not when inequality is in women’s favour – eg didn’t Farrell started the whole thing over NOW supporting assumed maternal custody in divorce, or something like that? Complaining that society protects women more than it protects men is a big thing of theirs.

            MRAs predate TRP, and I think TRP is in the process of swallowing the MRAs. This is probably because TRP has a way better selling line: “hey bro, want to get laid more with more women? Just follow these six weird tips a local dude found out, feminists hate him!” will attract men, especially young men (who are less likely to have some divorce horror story), better than “society is stacked against us and we are vulnerable”. The PUA ethos – go lift weights, dress better, learn to pull some mind tricks, go get laid – sells better than vulnerability because it is a far more masculine appeal.

            The PUA – Alt Right link seems to be a progression of biological determinism. Once someone has adopted the notion that the sexes are different, and their behaviour/goals are different, based on biology, it isn’t a huge jump to adopt the same notion in regards to ethnicity or race.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @ dndnrsn
            That certainly matches my own observations.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Drdealgood:
          “I’m pretty sure that they were originally male ‘Allies’ of feminism who spun off their own ideology.”

          I’m sure there are plenty (in a chinese cardiologist kind of way) of MRAs that match this description, but I would be surprised if they were even a plurality of MRAs, or substantively responsible for the growth of the MRA movement. Do you have any sort of citation on this?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Nope, it’s just my impression. Hence the qualifiers.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Warren Farrell is one of the big names in the early “men’s movement” and that was basically his trajectory.

            They might not be a plurality today, but that in large part seems to be a big part of the movement originally.

            By way of analogy, temperance activists are pretty thin on the ground in modern feminism, but it was a major part of first wave feminism.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Of MRAs who call themselves MRAs, pretty much every single one I’ve talked to tried feminism first. I bounce back and forth over whether or not I want to adopt the label for myself, and I certainly “tried feminism first”, and found it outright hostile to men’s rights, so moved on after a relatively short time.

            Granted, I have a high standard, and ex-feminist MRAs, and feminist/MRA mixes, are probably selected-for in what I look for in reading material.

            The trajectory makes sense – most people have (had? I suspect this has changed over the last decade) some sense that feminists fight for equal rights, so feminism is the first stop, before discovering that feminism as practiced is more “equal rights for women” than “equal rights for everyone”, at which point they start looking for alternatives.

      • Maware says:

        That male attitude is self-policing, because it’s women who actually dislike that form of male weakness. Men have little reason to dislike male weakness specifically, but women who view us in terms of provider/procreator/protector need us not to show or possess weakness at all. Men are acculturated to internalize this. Consider it similar to how women slut-shame each other, I guess.

        • dndnrsn says:

          It’s definitely self-policing. What I find ironic is that it’s by the guys who, on an intellectual level, object to the whole “appear manly and don’t show vulnerable so women think you’re hot and other men think you’re not a liability” biological determinism idea.

          The “outspoken and aggressive male feminist” is probably not a fan of either Heartiste or Jack Donovan, but his behaviour is in some ways like what they prescribe more than it’s the behaviour of a sensitive modern man who’s evolved past gender norms.

          • Maware says:

            Those men actually become “feminist allies” for that reason, which is the same reason for female MRAs. It’s either unconsciously or purposefully staking out a position in terms of making themselves more sexually attractive/situationally alpha. The female MRAs do the same, because it’s easier to be top girl among a mostly male movement.

            So the people know the lingo, and may even believe it on a surface level, but the core is like you say, traditional masculinity. it’s just usually not so absurdist.

        • Sastan says:

          Exactly. I know a girl who used to argue with me about my attitude toward violence, she held the position that violence was never moral, and furthermore never effective. It was always better to submit than to escalate matters. Then she and her boyfriend were mugged. He handed his wallet over, she hers, no one got hurt and they went on their merry way. Except she never got over his failure to protect her, and dumped him days later. She still thinks he did the right thing, but can’t forgive him for doing it.

          • I’m not sure whether this is relevant, but was it a situation where he had a good chance of defending her successfully?

          • Creutzer says:

            I think it is relevant. Because if it wasn’t such a situation, then the point Sastan is making with this story is not: this woman found manliness as considered and appropriate application of violence attractive; but rather: this woman found dumb brutishness attractive.

          • Psmith says:

            Since the accident, the wacky hijinx of motorists send me into fits of blind, white rage. Previously, when a driver threw a handful of batteries at me, or slowed down to call me a faggot, or—most hilariously—would swerve over into the bike lane as if they were going to flatten me, I’d just wave them off. Assholes will be assholes, ain’t nothing to be done about it. But after getting hit, I began shouting back, pedaling hard to catch up to them so I could yell threats and slam my heavy U-lock into their taillights.

            I once smashed every piece of the rear bumper of a Nissan being driven by a teenage girl. She had thrown a half-full Pepsi and me and then slowed down, waited until I passed her, and told me to get a job so I could afford a car. Then there was a blackout, then sweat, then me standing in an intersection, helmet cast aside and bike at my feet, thrashing my steel lock against fiberglass, yelling at her to get out of the car, get out get out you fucking whore so I can beat you, instead of your innocent bumper. She screamed, made a noise I’ve never before heard in person, and then squealed out swerving around oncoming traffic, just to get away from me.

            By last summer I thought I had these dark impulses under control. Not that I regretted them—hardly. People loved hearing my stories of making drivers cry, of forcing a teenage girl to risk a collision so as to avoid getting beaten to death. My friends—my white collar, peaceful, violence-denouncing academic friends—licked their lips when I told them about my adventures. If I demurred they would become excited, like cats waiting for a can of tuna to be scooped onto a plate. They would press for details. What was she wearing? Did she cry? Was she named Brittany—oh, god, I hope she was named Brittany. And no matter what details I gave them, I could tell they were all picturing their own Brittanys or Ashleys or Ericas, their daughters and wives and shitty bullying besties, their own young woman who they would have loved to scare the shit out of if were they me, and that girl was her.

            But that was then, all over with. By last summer I had a new girl, a real vegetarian liberal type who didn’t even raise her voice to sing. She calmed me. We would go on long trips and I’d last up to a week without doing anything weird, violent, or scary. Wouldn’t even feel the urge, honest.

            Sure, people yelled. People yell at you when you bike around Lafayette. But I’d blow air through my teeth dismissively and shoot the girl a look like “golly, what’s that guy’s problem?” and she would shake her head and smile.

            But then—then… then I can’t come up with any trigger, other than that we were close to her home and the man who yelled at us called us faggots. The rest would honk or throw stuff, maybe yell something garbled and stretched. It was the clarity of it, maybe? The audacity of a man to slow down like that, as if he knew for sure we’d just laugh and pedal away.

            I threw down my helmet and began shouting at him to get out of his car so I could hit him. He drove away without making eye contact. It lasted 3 seconds.

            Initiating violence literally changes the colors of the things you’re looking at. They become paler. Your stomach floats a little, too, and you become less aware of the position of your head and limbs, which sometimes float feet away from where you assume them to be. The feeling is sort of like shoplifting, or leaning in for a first kiss.

            My girlfriend had left her bike. She pressed her had against my lower back, making me realize how unnaturally upright I was standing. She grabbed my neck and pulled hard to press my firm and angry face into hers so that she could jam her tongue into my mouth. Then we went to her house, and immediately inside she removed both of our pants and pulled me onto her as she bent over a kitchen chair, arching herself lower and lower so I could go harder, more unencumbered, more violent.

            It was very unlike her. Not only to initiate sex so aggressively, but to force herself into a position of submission.

            I had forgotten about the incident before we made it back to her house. But the next day, before she let me kiss her hello, she sat me down to have a very important talk about my temper. That man in the car could have been anybody. He could have had a gun. It wasn’t cool of me to put us both in that kind of danger, and I needed to promise to work on dealing with incidents like that more peaceably. I consented—and not insincerely. What I had done was wrong.

            Wrong, yes. But also incentivized. Nothing is more heavily and aggressively rewarded than successful violence. I knew that already, in the abstract: ugly men get laid when they wear their infantry outfits, cruel shiteating monsters get the best jobs and prettiest wives, etc. But what was this? Who was this? Th-this hippie dippy woman who biked everywhere and made vegan shortcake. She read thick feminist books and disdained aggression and yet she pulled me onto her and demanded I fuck her as aggressively as I’ve ever fucked anything. And it was great.

            http://whitehotharlots.tumblr.com/post/26046040799/rough-man-pt-1-the-emergence-of-rough-man

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Creutzer:

            Good observation.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Creutzer,

            Well part of his description of her is that she didn’t understand the difference to begin with. If violence is never moral or effective than everyone who wields it is a dumb brute.

            To be fair to her perspective, very few people really go in for the considered and appropriate thing. I’ve only ever heard veterans talk that way. Instrumental violence requires a different mindset than reactive violence which you either need to be born or trained into. It’s much more common to see people lash out than to think through what they want to achieve first.

          • Sastan says:

            Instinctive, rage violence is more “normal”. We all understand it in a way. It’s what things like “The Hulk” stories are based on, that vast source of rage stored away within most of us. Instrumental violence is rare, and scarier for it.

          • Sastan says:

            And Creutzer, my point is that what people think and what people feel can wildly differ. We can talk ourselves into all sorts of logical positions. Anything is logical given the right assumption. But feels, wants, needs? Those we don’t control.

          • Creutzer says:

            That’s… not a particularly exciting or novel point, I daresay.

          • Sastan says:

            People want to talk about the basics of masculinity and you want novel and exciting? Sorry to disappoint. This was resolved thousands of years ago, but we are so desperate for that to not be true that we have almost total societal obscurantism.

          • Nita says:

            @ Psmith

            Girl: Ooh, such passion, so much adrenaline! How about we channel that into hot sex, rather than yelling at strangers?
            Boy: Clearly, I should yell at strangers more often.

          • Leit says:

            …into the kind of hot sex that I’ve never wanted before

            The point is how uncharacteristic this was. Not that she wanted sex, because from context the inference is that their sex life was fine; but that she wanted domination, primal and greedy.

          • Nita says:

            Oh, Leit. It’s clear that you’ve never seriously thought about managing a man’s emotional well-being.

            You see, one does not just ask for wild, primal sex. What if he doesn’t enjoy it? What if he finds it too tiring? If you explicitly voice your desires, he’ll feel compelled to satisfy them, and anything but exemplary performance and perfect mutual enjoyment might hurt his manly self-esteem.

            The safest strategy is to learn to appreciate whatever flavour of lovemaking your darling seems to prefer, and carefully watch for signs that he might be capable and willing to do something more… intense. (Unfortunately, the lady in the story got so excited at finally seeing such signs that she forgot her sacred duty to incentivize pro-social behavior at all times.)

            The next safest strategy is to coyly drop hints — but even that runs the risk of engendering duty sex instead of a bout of wild passion.

          • Presumably, if she wanted passion without aggression, she would have said literally anything to that affect. She apparently did not. The facts in evidence pretty clearly show (to me at least) that the woman in the story had a revealed preference for aggression in her boyfriend, but did not actually approve of that preference herself.

            She did say something about the violence itself, though. Her behavior is entirely consistent with the model “I like this, but disapprove of myself for liking this and accept that the social model of my behavior is to disapprove of this.”

          • Alex says:

            Nita: Are you being sarcastic?

            Robert: “I like this, but disapprove of myself for liking this and accept that the social model of my behavior is to disapprove of this.”

            I fear this is how many women (people?) feel about sex in general. To the cause of much sorrow.

          • Nita says:

            @ Robert Liguori

            Did she say “let’s not have rough sex again, I disapprove of my desire for it”? No. She said “let’s fuck like animals, but let’s not get into potentially fatal altercations with random assholes”.

            (If she had said “I want passion without aggression”, she would get hours of gentle “lovemaking” with slow music and candlelight. She wanted aggression without the risk of being beaten up or shot.)

            @ Alex

            Well, the “sacred duty” part was a bit sarcastic. It’s just annoying to see a woman bend over backwards to prevent anyone from getting hurt in the slightest way, and then get blamed for a man’s anger management issues.

            (Another great cause of sorrow is people assuming that someone’s biking or baking habits are clues to their sexual preferences.)

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            I’d say it’s an almost equally valid explanation, given the information we have at hand and adjusting for the name of the source.

            EDIT: OK, so I read a bit about what the source actually says on other things, and I’m honestly confused now.

          • Nita, per the story, she didn’t say anything about the sex. It just happened, as an immediate response to the violence. Plus, it doesn’t sound like the gentleman in question was unusually milquetoast; it seems odd that he’d never have displayed passion previously in a manner that would have raised interest and discussion.

            Given what else was said to have been discussed, it seems likely to me that for this not to have been, the woman in question would need to be reluctant to do so. And that suggests a desire at odds with her chosen lifestyle and ethos.

            Of course, we are hearing one side of a story and doing a while lot of inference, and there are multiple plausible models for people’s behavior and desires.

            But we all seem to agree that for many women (including the one from the story), being the kind of man who will raise a hand in defense of her honor and safety is deeply attractive, even if the man doing is is also the kind of man to get into potentially-dangerous altercations with random assholes.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Nita,

            You’re probably correct about the rough sex thing. He obviously hadn’t initiated anything like that before and it’s also clear that she hadn’t seen his ‘dark side’ either to make her think he wanted something other than vanilla. I would be surprised if she hadn’t already wanted to do those things but didn’t think he was the sort of guy who would go for it up to that point.

            That said, that sort of proves the guy’s point. She saw his out-of-control rampage and thought “this is a man who I am comfortable having power over me sexually.” That speaks to a thought process which values mindless aggression over more more pro-social traits.

            (Not saying it’s a universal trait either. More women than either of us would like to admit think that way, but IME plenty are scared witless seeing their S.O. show genuine anger at a third party. Though that might also be a “hot” versus “cold” aggression thing as well.)

            @Robert,

            Plus, it doesn’t sound like the gentleman in question was unusually milquetoast; it seems odd that he’d never have displayed passion previously in a manner that would have raised interest and discussion.

            It doesn’t seem particularly odd to me.

            The narrator here sounds like your typical “bottled up” kind of angry guy. Polite and sensitive to the point of obsequiousness right up until someone steps over an invisible line in the sand. All the stuff about blacking out in rage and the unpredictability of exactly what will set him off (e.g. he can brush off thrown bottles but not a guy slowing down to call him a fag) supports that.

          • Alex says:

            >>>”You’re probably correct about the rough sex thing. He obviously hadn’t initiated anything like that before and it’s also clear that she hadn’t seen his ‘dark side’ either to make her think he wanted something other than vanilla. I would be surprised if she hadn’t already wanted to do those things but didn’t think he was the sort of guy who would go for it up to that point.”

            With you so far. At this point I’d usually say something like “See, the protocol to negotiate about sex is the most broken social protocol (western?) humanity came up with and we desperately need to fix it like right now”. And then every sane person will yell at me like “This is NOT How Things Work(tm) you disgusting freak” [“a fucking game of sim city”]

            And meanwhile pickup artistry, by whatever name or acronym it goes nowadays is nothing but an attack against a very broken protocol. So ist false rape accusations if you believe such thing exists. [i. e. this sword cuts both ways].

            >> “That said, that sort of proves the guy’s point. She saw his out-of-control rampage and thought “this is a man who I am comfortable having power over me sexually.” That speaks to a thought process which values mindless aggression over more more pro-social traits.”

            My conclusion from your first paragraph is different. I presume she was comfortable with her partner having sexual power over her in general but did not know if her partner was comfortable with having power over people (I notice the asymmetry). So the random encounter revealed a hidden property of his which allowed her to reveal one of hers while neither of them could have omfortably revealed this without the external encounter because protocol just sucks. IMO this fits with the genuine surprise I read from his narrative.