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OT78: Oprah Thread

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit, the SSC Discord server, or the Cafe Chesscourt forum.

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1,290 Responses to OT78: Oprah Thread

  1. robirahman says:

    We’re having an SSC meetup in Washington, DC next weekend! Saturday, June 24 at 7pm. There will be snacks and blog posts, which are fun to talk about! Details and contact info are available through the meetup directory. (ctrl+f “Washington”)

  2. bean says:

    (Jutland: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
    Jutland: The end of the main fleet action
    After losing sight of Scheer, Jellicoe took his fleet south, intending to keep the Germans to the west of him, and intercept them when they tried to get home.
    (A brief sidenote on geography. The Germans were based out of Wilhelmshaven, near the corner of the Jutland peninsula. Because of minefields laid by both sides, there were two main routes in, either hugging the coast of Denmark past Horns Reef or going through a gap to the northwest of Wilhelmshaven and straight into the Jade Estuary. However, at this point, Jellicoe was directly north of that gap, and in a position to block either route home.)
    At around 1840, minutes after the German fleet disappeared, the rear battleships of Jellicoe’s line began to dodge torpedoes. At 1854, Marlborough was hit by one, launched by the Wiesbaden, which was amazingly still afloat despite the pounding she had taken. Despite the flooding through the 20-foot gash in her side, and lost the use of several of her forward boilers, Marlborough remained in the battle line, although she was limited to 16 knots instead of her normal 21. The two men killed aboard were the only casualties among the battleships of the Grand Fleet (excluding the 5th BS).
    Jellicoe was not well-served by his subordinates during this phase of the battle, who allowed the Germans to escape without informing Jellicoe or attempting to pursue, except Commodore William Goodenough, commander of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron. Goodenough, who we have met previously (his flagship Southampton was the first to give a proper report on the presence of the High Seas Fleet), chased the Germans, managed to maintain contact with their trailing units.
    Beatty also declined to pursue the Germans. He instead turned in a full circle ahead of the Grand Fleet, wasting a valuable 7 minutes. In fairness, Lion apparently suffered a gyrocompass failure, but his attempts to cover it up (including producing a doctored track chart in the 1920s) do not reflect well on him.
    At 1855, Scheer, for reasons that are not clear, decided to turn east again. He justified this either as an attempt to surprise Jellicoe or to help Wiesbaden, but neither explanation makes much sense, particularly as he put the battlecruisers, lightly armed and heavily damaged, in the van. (Lutzow was badly damaged enough to be sent home independently at this point.) Goodenough spotted the turn and reported it to Jellicoe at 1900. Jellicoe intercepted, placing his line across Scheer’s course again, the battle being rejoined at around 1910. By 1915, the British were shooting even more effectively than they had earlier, and the German van began to buckle even before Scheer ordered another turn away at 1918. (He actually raised the flag to prepare for this turn at 1912, but delayed the execution for 6 minutes.) This was covered by the German battlecruisers and destroyers, in an action known as the ‘death ride’. This charge, into probably the heaviest concentration of naval gunfire the world has ever seen, has been described as ‘the most splendid and least intelligent moment in the short history of the Imperial Navy’. It did achieve the objective of drawing off the British fire from the turning battleships, and the battlecruisers closed to within 4 miles of the British before turning away, covered by the torpedoes of their escorting destroyers. Before firing ceased around 1930, the British had managed to land 25 hits on the German battlecruisers and 12 on their battleships, while of the British ships, only Colossus was hit, taking two shells from Seydlitz.
    At this point, we come to the most controversial moment of the battle. The first destroyer attack, by 13 boats, was launched at 1915, six minutes before Scheer gave the order. This first wave launched a total of 31 torpedoes between 1922 and 1930, with the loss of one boat and four others badly damaged. (The second wave didn’t even manage to find the British in the mist on the North Sea.) Not one torpedo hit, as Jellicoe ordered his ships to turn away at 1921, presenting a smaller target to the torpedoes, extending the range they had to run, and giving his ships a better chance to dodge. Some later claimed that he should have turned towards the torpedoes, a tactic that became common during WW2. However, one of the greatest fears the British had was that German destroyers would lay floating mines, which they would then lure the British over (a tactic the Japanese had used in their war with Russia a decade earlier). A turn-towards, in addition to putting the fleet more at risk than the turn away, would have made this a real possibility. Despite the volume of criticism leveled against Jellicoe (some said that he was motivated by a fear of drowning, caused by his near-miss when Victoria sank), he had in fact written a letter to the Admiralty when he assumed command of the Grand Fleet in October of 1914, stating that he would turn away in this situation, to preserve the fleet. Even Churchill, despite his contemporary criticism (he initially suggested that Jellicoe should have used a completely new maneuver to deploy on the center during his first deployment), later recognized that Jellicoe “was the only man on either side who could have lost the war in an afternoon.”
    At this point, Jellicoe was blind again. His light cruisers were either holding station on him or beating off destroyer attacks. Even the previously-reliable Goodenough failed him, sending an erroneous message stating that the Germans were heading northwest. At 1950, Beatty suggested that the battleships follow his battlecruisers, who were in front of Jellicoe’s line. It is unclear why he did this, as he probably couldn’t see the Germans, either. Jellicoe agreed to give Beatty his leading division at 2001, although his leading division couldn’t even see Beatty at this point. He then sent his scouts directly west, in an attempt to bring the Germans to action before it was fully dark. At this point, Scheer had decided to head for Horns Reef, and was steering directly south, planning to try to get through the British fleet after nightfall.
    At 2020 (a few minutes after the official time of sunset), Beatty found the German battlecruisers again. Hipper (who had left Lutzow when she was disabled) was in the process of transferring to Derfflinger when the British opened fire, obviously interrupting his attempt. Again, visibility hindered the Germans, and the British landed six hits on Hipper’s ships, putting Derfflinger’s last turret out of action, and taking only one 5.9” hit in return. The German line had been reversed, and was being lead by the pre-dreadnoughts of the 2nd Battle Squadron. These came within range of the British, taking two hits and having no more success than the battlecruisers, although the Posen of the following 1st Battle Squadron did land one hit on Princess Royal. Finally, the mist descended around 2040, and the clash between the dreadnoughts had drawn to an end.
    As a side note, one of the turret officers aboard HMS Collingwood was Prince Albert, later known as George VI. He was proud of being in action there, but sad that Collingwood did not take any hits ‘as she had nothing to show that she had been in the fight’. This was a common sentiment among the officers and men of the Grand Fleet, and Beatty used the lack of damage to claim that they had not actually been in action.
    That turned out longer than I thought. It looks like we’ll have two more parts before the series wraps up, covering the night action and the aftermath/analysis.

    • bean says:

      I’m a volunteer tour guide at the USS Iowa in Los Angeles, and I enjoy explaining battleships so much that I’ve been doing it here for quite a while. This is my index of the current posts, updated so that I don’t have to ask Scott to put up a link when the previous index gets locked down. Please don’t post a reply to this index comment so I can keep it updated as new ones get published and the new posts are easy to find.

      History:
      General History of Battleships, Part 1 and Part 2
      The Early Ironclads
      Pre-Dreadnoughts
      The loss of HMS Victoria
      The Battle of Jutland: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
      US Battleships in WW2
      Rest-of-world Battleships in WW2
      Battlecruisers
      Battleships after WW2
      The Destroyer that accidentally attacked a President
      The South American Dreadnought Race
      Dreadnoughts of the minor powers

      Technical:
      Fire Control
      History of Fire Control
      Armor, Part 1 and Part 2
      Propulsion
      Armament Part 1 and Part 2
      Turret vs barbette
      Underwater protection
      Secondary Armament, Part 1 and Part 2
      Survivability and Damage Control Part 1

      Misc:
      Bibliography
      Thoughts on tour guiding
      Questions I get as a tour guide

    • robirahman says:

      What’s your favorite battle that did not involve battleships?
      (And what’s your favorite non-battle ship?)

      • bean says:

        Hmm. The Battle of Bubiyan Channel during the First Gulf War, but mostly for the image of a helicopter using a dunking sonar as a wrecking ball. Or Midway, if I’m allowed to use battles where the battleships didn’t do anything.
        And probably the first USS Yorktown (CV-5). I’ve liked her since I was really young. Not sure why.
        (An honorable mention goes to the USS America (LHA-6), which I got to ride aboard last summer from San Diego up to LA.)

        • Nornagest says:

          mostly for the image of a helicopter using a dunking sonar as a wrecking ball.

          Can you expand on this, or point me to a page? Google isn’t giving me anything on it.

          • bean says:

            My knowledge of this is informal only, but basically after the escorts got destroyed, every helicopter that could showed up and started attacking small boats. One British Sea King didn’t have anything more than small arms, and quickly ran out of ammo for those. So the pilot lowered the dunking sonar, and began to attack with it. Apparently, it worked pretty well, but got destroyed in the process.

    • hlynkacg says:

      I don’t want to derail Bean’s discussion but this is the Naval gazing thread and I just wanted to say that US Navy 7th Fleet has confirmed what I think many of us suspected. The 7 sailors listed as “missing” after the USS Fitzgerald’s collision with Motor Vessel ACX Crystal on Saturday were trapped in containment. Their remains have been recovered from the flooded compartments and their names are:

      – Seaman Gunner’s Mate Dakota Rigsby, 19, Palmyra VA
      – Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Douglass, 25, San Diego CA
      – Sonar Tech 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, Oakville CN
      – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, Weslaco TX
      – Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Sibayan, 23, Chula Vista CA
      – Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Martin, 24, Halethorpe MD
      – Fire Controlman 1st Class Leo Rehm Jr., 37, Elyria OH

      Fair winds and following seas mates. Your watch has ended. another begins.

      • bean says:

        Indeed. Tragic, but this is the cost we’re going to pay for having a navy which operates.

        On a lighter note, the USN just scored its first air-to-air kill since 1991.

    • dodrian says:

      I’m in LA this Saturday for a friend’s wedding and am suggesting to my wife that we visit to the Iowa. We visited the Texas this time last year and really enjoyed it, but could only stay briefly before the heat and humidity got to us – I imagine LA would be easier to handle? Are there other nearby attractions you’d recommend seeing?

      • bean says:

        LA has much better weather than Texas. It’s been relatively hot lately, but that means you’re looking at mid-80s at most (probably lower on the coast), and fairly low humidity. NWS says high of 76 for Saturday. Anecdotally, I grew up in the Midwest, and of the days I’ve spent on the ship, some have been hot, but none have been the sort of miserable you get there.
        If you’re actually looking at being on the ship Saturday, I’ll be there for at least part of the day. Are you on the discord?
        In terms of nearby attractions, I’m not sure what you’re interested in. The LA Maritime Museum is next door, but it’s not brilliant. Worth the $5, maybe not worth the time. Lane Victory is also cheap, and not a bad place to go. I’m not sure about other attractions in San Pedro. Further afield, Queen Mary is OK (although she’s deep in the mud and missing engines, and parking is horrible), Aquarium of the Pacific is pretty good.

        • dodrian says:

          Thanks… we’d love to visit but after looking at our time and transport options I think we’ve decided to see the Griffith observatory instead. Will have to plan it for our next trip!

          • bean says:

            Fair enough. The Griffith is pretty good, although the day I went, it was a lot busier than I’ve ever seen Iowa (except for Fleet Week). I personally didn’t get that much out of the visit, but I’ve been interested in space for a long time.
            Also, their parking is terrible, and we had a long walk in.

    • John Schilling says:

      This was covered by the German battlecruisers and destroyers, in an action known as the ‘death ride’. This charge, into probably the heaviest concentration of naval gunfire the world has ever seen, has been described as ‘the most splendid and least intelligent moment in the short history of the Imperial Navy’. It did achieve the objective of drawing off the British fire from the turning battleships, [and the German BCs took 25 hits]

      But did anybody actually die, to justify the term ‘death ride’?

      OK, granted, with 25 large-caliber hits, probably somebody died. But AFIK no German battlecruisers were sunk in that part of the action. So here’s the thing:

      If I recall correctly, and correct me if I’ve missed something, we’ve got five German battlecruisers and almost two dozen battleships, against a superior British force including six battlecruisers and four super-battlecruiserish “fast battleships”. The five German battlecruisers are tasked with finding the British fleet and luring them into battle. Mission accomplished, and if the British fleet wasn’t lured entirely into an ambush it is because their own battlecruisers were able to extricate themselves when they first encountered the German main fleet. During the main fleet engagement, the German battlecruisers matched off against their larger and more numerous British counterparts. When the engagement turned against the Germans, Scheer pulled his battleships out and ordered the battlecruisers and lesser elements, alone, to cover the battleship’s escape.

      Mission fucking accomplished.

      In addition to completing their scouting and screening roles, every British capital ship sunk at Jutland was sunk by one of the five German battlecruisers, none by the battleships. In spite of sailing into “heaviest concentration of naval gunfire the world has ever seen”, outnumbered four or five to one by proper dreadnaughts and superdreadnaughts, none of the German battlecruisers were directly sunk during the battle and only one was damaged beyond repair to be scuttled later.

      And yet I repeatedly hear that one of the key lessons of naval combat from World War I (meaning Jutland), is that battlecruisers were a very silly idea because they aren’t survivable against battleships.

      So my question: Is this an example of the winner writing a set of extremely misleading history books, to cover for their insanely reckless powder-handling practices that might have just as well doomed actual battleships under fire? Shouldn’t the lesson actually be that battlecruisers, when run by people with not-insanely-reckless ideas of powder handling and damage control, were perhaps the most awesome ships of the early dreadnought era?

      Would help if we had more than one major surface action to study. But from that one action, I’m not seeing the case against the battlecruiser.

      • cassander says:

        So my question: Is this an example of the winner writing a set of extremely misleading history books, to cover for their insanely reckless powder-handling practices that might have just as well doomed actual battleships under fire? Shouldn’t the lesson actually be that battlecruisers, when run by people with not-insanely-reckless ideas of powder handling and damage control, were perhaps the most awesome ships of the early dreadnought era?

        That three battlecruisers blew up in a couple minutes was well known almost immediately after the battle. the other details you mention were only known later, if at all. I don’t think it’s a case of winners setting the history to cover their assess as conventional wisdom setting the history before all the facts were in, a simple theory that fits with the facts beating out more complicated, if more accurate, theories.

      • bean says:

        Starting with the nitpick:

        none of the German battlecruisers were directly sunk during the battle and only one was damaged beyond repair to be scuttled later.

        Lutzow was actually detached before the Death Ride. So none of the battlecruisers that went on it died. I’m not sure about destroyers, and would have to check sources.

        Overall, I’m in agreement with you, with one massive caveat. Simplifying somewhat, British battlecruisers traded armor for speed. German battlecruisers traded guns for speed. They generally were on par with the British battleships in terms of percentage of armor by weight.

        That said, the experience of Lion, Tiger, and Princess Royal showed that even British battlecruisers which did not have catastrophic magazine explosions were surprisingly survivable. (This was a pre-war British prediction which Friedman highlighted as being correct if we ignore the cordite issue.) I think you’re right, and that Jackie Fisher, on his good days, was very good indeed.
        On the other hand, the Grand Fleet took a total of 2 shells (ignoring the 5th BS, which were intended to be sort of hybrid ships), so we don’t have a particularly good control for heavily-armored ships on the British side. I may have to look over the records for the QEs and the three of Beatty’s battlecruisers not protected by the Maori.
        There was something of a cover-up, but cassander also makes a good point. I’m not sure how and when German records of the battle came out, and what was known about the ships which survived.

        • Eric Rall says:

          Wikipedia lists five German destroyers lost at Jutland, four of which have individual pages. Of those four, two (S35 and V27) are described as being lost near the end of the Run to the South (16:26 GMT), and a third (V4) is described as being lost during the night action (02:15 GMT). V48 doesn’t have where or when listed on its page, and V29 doesn’t have a wikipedia page, but google books turns up references to both in “Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield”, by Innes McCartney (V48, V29). From that, it looks like V29 was sunk as part of the same torpedo run as S35 and V27; and V48’s loss is poorly documented, but its wreck was found about 2 miles south of of S35, which seems to indicate it was also lost in the Run to the South.

          TLDR: looks like 4 destroyers lost in the Run to the South, 1 in the night action, and none in the Death Ride.

      • Eric Rall says:

        But did anybody actually die, to justify the term ‘death ride’?

        I think the term “Death Ride” refers to the situation (five BCs engaging 24 BBs), not the outcome.

        And yet I repeatedly hear that one of the key lessons of naval combat from World War I (meaning Jutland), is that battlecruisers were a very silly idea because they aren’t survivable against battleships.

        I’ve heard claims along those lines, but I’ve understood them as a shorthand form of the more nuanced and more defensible claim that Jutland demonstrated the superiority of the German BC design philosophy over the prewar British BC design philosophy.

        To oversimplify, there are two major purposes for building BCs:

        1. To dominate Armored Cruisers in the commerce raiding and sealane defense roles, the way Dreadnought BBs dominate pre-Dreads in the line of battle.

        2. To serve as a fast scouting, flanking, and raiding element of the main battle fleet.

        Both roles require a fast ship, and you need to sacrifice something else to get more speed out of a ship of a given size. That something needs to be some combination of guns and armor. If you’re designing exclusively for one role or the other, you’d choose different combinations: a sealane defense BC can sacrifice more armor because it can rely on Fisher’s concept of “Speed is Armor” and disengage if threatened by a superior force, while a battle fleet BC needs to be able to stand up to BBs and take a pounding.

        German ships were designed mostly for the second role, while British ships were designed for a mix of both roles (the extent of the latter being exaggerated in many casual accounts: Bean talked about this in detail in one of the earlier Battleship threads, about how the British BCs were intended for both roles from the beginning). For example, SMS Lützow, a German BC, and HMS Lion, a British BC, were both about the same size (26,319 long tons and 26,690 long tons, respectively, if I’m reading the tables on Wikipedia correct). Lion had a significantly heavier main battery (8x 13.5″ guns vs 8x 12″ guns) and was slightly faster (28 knots vs 26.4 knots), but Lützow had much heavier armor (a 12″ main belt, vs a variable thickness main belt on Lion that was 9″ amidships and 4″ towards the ends of the ship). The effects of the armor difference do get exaggerated by people who forget or ignore the British ammunition-handling problems and their contribution to the British BC losses, but there was definitely a difference in armor thickness.

      • John Schilling says:

        I think armor may be vastly overrated as a contributor to warship survivability, particularly at the level of supposed “immunity zones” and impervious citadels off which the enemy’s heaviest shells will bounce harmlessly. Armor against quick-firing HE shells, splinter protection where needed, and something like a protected cruiser’s armored deck seem like cheaper gains. But what gets your ships and crews home to fight another day are compartmentalization, reserve buoyancy, stability margins, redundancy, shock hardening, general robustness, and solid damage control procedures.

        Things which, conveniently, don’t require many kilotons of steel and so might fit on a battlecruiser without costing it speed. On the other hand, maybe their fine-lined speed-optimized hulls didn’t have the buoyancy or stability margins of comparable battleship hulls. Bean, do your sources say anything about the relative survivability, aside from armor thickness, of battlecruisers vs. battelships?

        • bean says:

          The only other survivability parameter I have ready to hand is metacentric height, which was usually identical between the relevant battleship/battlecruiser pairs. The only battlecruiser with proper TDS was Hood, and that set a lot of her size. I’d suspect that things like compartmentalization were also the same, as both types were designed to capital ship standards. The big difference is going to be in the hull form, although I don’t quite have the numbers to characterize it. I will say that beam for both navies usually seems to have had more to do with docking facilities than anything else. The Germans BCs had lower block coefficients, while the block coefficients for the British were fairly similar for both types.

        • bean says:

          I decided to test your theory on armor by looking at Warspite’s experience at Jutland. She was hit more than any other battleship there, and it should give us a good baseline. I’m using Campbell as my source throughout.
          Hits between 1654-1815:
          Warspite was hit twice in this period.
          1. An 11″ shell that pierced the 6″ after side armor (upper belt, I think), and detonated before it went through the 2.5″ middle deck.
          No benefit.
          2. A hit on the forefunnel.
          No benefit.

          There were 13 hits between 1815 and 1900, when she was out of control and being shot at by the entire German fleet. Numbering per Campbell
          1. Came in through the side above the belt, bounced off 1.25″ main deck. Unfortunately, I don’t have good data on German gun penetration at the time. Tiger’s main deck was 1-1.25″ thick, so I’m going to go with Probably no benefit.
          2. No details, looks to be above deck.
          Probably no benefit.
          3. Came through 6″ belt, and burst directly behind. Some holing.
          No benefit, assuming that the shells would get set off by the BC armor.
          4. Strange upward ricochet. Only hit light armor.
          No benefit.
          5. Deflected off armor gratings in the funnels. I don’t know how thick those were offhand. Will have to do more research on QEs and BCs.
          6. Bounced off 1″ armored deck.
          No benefit.
          7. Set off on the armored deck on impact. Holed deck, caused fire in 6″ battery.
          No benefit.
          8. Pierced upper part of tapered main belt. Campbell estimates 7.5″, and says this was an illustration of the error of not carrying the 13″ armor to the main deck.
          No benefit.
          9. Details are sketchy.
          No benefit.
          10. Shell hit 6″ belt obliquely, and broke up without exploding. Larger part deflected off 4″ barbette. Tiger had similar armor in that area.
          No benefit.
          11. Deck hit. Penetrated upper deck, burst above main deck.
          No benefit.
          12. Went through a bunch of superstructure, then burst on main deck, holing it.
          No benefit.
          13. Hit aft, in thin shell plating.
          No benefit.

          Total:
          Confirmed benefit: 0
          Probably no benefit: 2
          No benefit: 13

          Well, this was interesting. Not a single hit on the 13″ belt, so that wasn’t evaluated. And the QEs had weirdly thin horizontal protection, fairly similar to Tiger. I’ll have to look up exactly why (but not tonight, as I need to go to bed), but that might have hurt them quite badly. I know I picked the test, and it’s bad form to adjust the test after you do it, but I may try to figure out what would have happened if they’d had a thicker deck, and look at the other battleships.
          I’m actually starting to wonder if Warspite’s experience had as much to do with the post-Jutland campaign for heavier horizontal armor as the exploding battlecruisers. Several of these seemed like an extra inch would have been very helpful in keeping the shells out.
          Another test would be to look at what would have happened to Derfflinger or Seydlitz if they’d been armored like the British battlecruisers. In that case, I should have much better estimates for the penetration of the guns firing at them, which will help.

          • John Schilling says:

            Thanks for the analysis. #7 and #12 are particularly interesting, because if a shell bursting against your armored deck will hole it then that armor isn’t doing any good at all(*). Particularly if the burst starts a fire in a gunnery space, because now you’ve got nothing but your powder-handling procedures to keep the whole ship from going up.

            I seem to recall somewhere, probably Nathan Okum’s work, that penetration for glancing-impact shell bursts is roughly 0.2 shell diameters, which would suggest a battleship or battlecruiser needs a 2.5-3″ deck. The QEs didn’t have that, which is strange for such otherwise well-designed ships. And now I’m thinking in terms of a “protected battlecruiser”, where the #1 priority is making certain nothing gets through that deck to the machinery and magazine spaces below the waterline, and we otherwise just toughen things up above that so they degrade gracefully under the inevitable penetrating hits. Though you’d still want to armor against 6″ HE and the like.

            * beyond setting off the fuze before the shell penetrates any deeper

          • bean says:

            The QEs had a really weird horizontal armor system, with the armor spread across three or four decks. I’m not sure what the designers could have been thinking, or if they were thinking at all. A quick check of my various books shows that both Iron Duke and Revenge were much better protected in that vein.
            The only thing that got near the magazines was a big shell fragment (may have been the base, don’t have Campbell to hand) that got thrown basically straight down and ended up in the magazine cooler equipment. But that was at a very different angle from what is was possible for an intact shell to fall.
            There were actually a lot of these that put fragments through the main deck, but it was late and I was tired of typing.

  3. Collin says:

    I want to build a simple mobile app (user accounts and database querying) that will run on iOS *and* Android. Assume all I know is HTML/JavaScript.

    What combination of frameworks or other software could I use to build a scalable prototype with the smallest possible time investment?

    • Fossegrimen says:

      For a prototype, none. Grab a tutorial on how to wrap a web page in an app and do that.

      For an actual app I will vote for native every time. Take a look at raywenderlich.com and run through a couple tutorials, it’s easier than you think.

    • faber says:

      You will probably get the best result by investing in learning native app development, but for simpler applications I have found that Intel XDK works pretty well.

      It is mostly Cordova underneath, but it is packed into a nice IDE and with a cloud compilation feature that means that you can develop for iOS without a Mac.

      Being Cordova, you use HTML/CSS/JavaScript.

    • Svejk says:

      The Ionic framework is multiplatform and based on Angular + Cordova, and might be useful for fast prototyping. They have a web tool that allows you to build a simple app from pre-packaged components and preview your app on Android and iOS. You can also build from the command line + your IDE/ editor of choice. You could use a service like Firebase as a starter database while prototyping.

    • Bond says:

      The Ionic framework is a good choice, especially if you have any experience with Angular. It’s built on top of Cordova, which is even simpler cross-platform HTML/js. React is nice, but with a slightly steeper learning curve, and its ecosystem and community are not quite as robust. On the backend, your options are numerous – firebase is a good starting point.

  4. qwints says:

    I’m interested in discussing whether small scale political violence ever advances the perpetrator’s cause. The last decade has seen a number of attacks by people with a clear poltical view, but isolated from a larger campaign of violence. It’s my impression that the consensus is these attacks benefit the side attacked politically. Is this the case? If so, why do such attacks continue?

    • John Schilling says:

      Depending on how you define “political violence”, the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents resulted in a substantial and enduring reduction in the militarization of the major Federal law enforcement agencies in the United States and in greater tolerance for small cultish groups going off to mind their own business. The Columbine shooting I think marked the beginning of serious anti-bullying efforts in the US educational system.

      Alas, only the major Federal law enforcement agencies in the former case, and I am skeptical of the actual effectiveness of the anti-bullying measures in the latter. But it may be that “leave me alone!” is a message that can sometimes be effectively conveyed by small-scale violence.

      • qwints says:

        The Waco and Ruby Ridge cases are complex – one can look at the actions of the Branch Davidians and the Weavers (perhaps as well as McVeigh) as successful acts of political violence – the Feds certainly became much less aggressive afterwards and there was a substantial reduction in the sorts of firearms laws the Feds were enforcing.

        Alternatively, one could view the Feds aggressive enforcement itself as poltical violence – with that violence causing such political/cultural backlash that the the Feds ceased using.

        Finally, it might be as simple as the Feds learning better tactics. The Feds avoided violence during the Bundy standoff and the wildlife refuge occupation, but still ended up succesfully arresting their targets. (Although the acquittal of some of the occupiers may complicate this perspective.)

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Alternatively, one could view the Feds aggressive enforcement itself as poltical violence – with that violence causing such political/cultural backlash that the the Feds ceased using.

          But you were specifically talking about “small scale political violence.” I don’t think you can call anything done by the United States government “small scale.”

          • John Schilling says:

            Violence done by one extended family and/or a modest religious cult against the Federal government, resulting in at least superficially favorable policy changes by the Feds and lasting decades, seems like it ought to qualify.

        • Eric Rall says:

          (Although the acquittal of some of the occupiers may complicate this perspective.)

          I looked into that at the time and concluded that the acquittals were due to the prosecutors trying too hard to get a federal felony conviction when the laws and fact pattern didn’t really support one. For some reason, it never occurred to Congress to make “Conspiracy to steal a federal building” a felony, so they tried to stitch together a felony from other laws.

          The key charge filed was “Possession of a firearm in a federal facility”. There are three versions of this charge:

          A. A misdemeanor charge, based on simple possession without one of the three exception categories applying.
          B. A felony charge, based on intending to use the firearm to commit a crime.
          C. A murder charge, based on killing someone while committing a violation of A or B.

          C obviously wasn’t the case. There was very strong evidence against the defendants for A, but that’s only a misdemeanor. The prosecutors charged B (and didn’t charge A, presumably to close off an option for the jury to show leniency without acquitting), and also charged a second felony, “Conspiring to Impede Officers of the United States”, in order to satisfy the “committing a crime” predicate of B.

          The Conspiring to Impede charge was a bit of a stretch, given the way the statute was written. The defense argued that this statute was aimed at efforts to impair specific agents from performing specific duties, while the defendants’ actions were aimed at taking over the building, not at any particular agent or duty. By my reading of the statute, it looks like the defense’s interpretation fits the central intent of the law, and while the text of the statute could plausibly be stretched to cover the case, there’s a long-standing legal document to interpret grey areas in statutory interpretation in favor of criminal defendants. The jury appears to have applied this doctrine to acquit on the Conspiracy charge, which automatically lead to acquittal on the Firearms charge as well, and the misdemeanor version of firearms charge wasn’t charged, so the jury didn’t have the option of convicting on that.

          There were other charges against some of the defendants: “Use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence”, which was dismissed by the judge prior to trial, and various charges of theft or degradation of government property. I haven’t looked into these in detail, but my best guess is that the former really didn’t fit the facts of the case (hence the dismissal), and the latter failed on reasonable doubt due to the difficulty of proving a particular person committed a particular act of theft or degradation.

          There were also a number of state crimes which don’t appear to have been charged: “criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm” (a misdemeanor) seems pretty clear-cut, and “unlawful paramilitary activity” (a felony) seems like less of a stretch than the charges the federal prosecutor charged. I’m not sure why not. There’s also a federal criminal trespass statute (a misdemeanor) which also wasn’t brought by the federal prosecutors, probably for the same reason they didn’t charge the misdemeanor version of the firearms charge.

          Sources:
          Federal prosecution memo for the case
          Conspiracy to impede statute
          Possession of a firearm statute

      • INH5 says:

        Depending on how you define “political violence”, the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents resulted in a substantial and enduring reduction in the militarization of the major Federal law enforcement agencies in the United States and in greater tolerance for small cultish groups going off to mind their own business.

        While it stretches the definition of “small-scale,” I think it’s relevant to ask what role the OKC bombing played in this. Seeing as how McVeigh claimed to have been directly inspired by Ruby Ridge and Waco.

      • Murphy says:

        I’d argue there’s never, ever been any serious anti-bullying efforts.

        I remember reading “voices from the hellmouth” almost 20 years ago now.

        https://news.slashdot.org/story/99/04/25/1438249/voices-from-the-hellmouth

        After columbine there was a pretty solid anti-bullied movement where the teachers joined in with the bullies adding official sanction to the torture of oddballs.

        The reaction to the columbine wasn’t to prevent bullying: it was to categorize kids getting the shit beaten out of them as potential shooters. Because a lot of people are scum. And a lot of those people are teachers and school administrators. They’re not evil but lazy and stupid in a way that’s almost indistinguishable.

        • JulieK says:

          What would effective anti-bullying efforts look like?

          • Wrong Species says:

            What about more school choice? These students obviously hate their school because they feel so different from everyone there. They probably wouldn’t shoot up the place if they had somewhere they felt they belonged.

          • Sivaas says:

            I see the result of this being: the student moves schools a few times, every time being the new outsider and having difficulty breaking into the already established social networks. Thus, they end up hating the school, prompting another move and another bout of outsider-ness. Repeat, all the while disrupting their actual learning because of minor differences in how each school teaches the material.

            It might work in limited situations, but I’d expect a lot of students to just never find somewhere they belong.

          • Matt M says:

            What about more school choice? These students obviously hate their school because they feel so different from everyone there.

            Totally agree. School bullying is the worst because the victim has no power to leave. The bullies have a captive audience. It’s basically the only situation in life where you’re forced to be around people who you may despise. Very unfortunate.

        • BBA says:

          It Gets Better was a solid effort, though being a specifically LGBT-oriented campaign made it more of a culture war stance and less of being generally anti-bullying.

    • 1soru1 says:

      ‘Violence never solved anything’ is obviously bullshit, or at least missing a lot of necessary caveats, including ‘what exactly you mean by solve’? But ‘small-scale violence never did’ is a rather stronger case, if only because predictably achieving large results with small actions is never easy, even for more controllable forms of action.

      Perhaps the canonical example of the success of small-scale violence were the actions of Lehi (aka Stern Gang) in post-WWII Palestine, which pretty directly led to British withdrawl without establishing a successor government, and so the rest of Israeli history.

      Circumstances were key; they were plenty of larger outbreaks of violence from both sides pre-WWII, but that was before Britain needed US permission to maintain an Empire. Given that, Britain would struggle to engage in any action that could be presented as looking like the American Revolutionary War, and certainly would have been unable to maintain an anti-insurgency campaign against Jewish nationalists.

      So ‘small-scale violence’ can solve things, providing both that you are unfussy about your definition of ‘solve’, and have a whole bunch of historical circumstances arranged in your favour. Circumstances that very likely would have enabled you to achieve an equal or better outcome using different tools.

      • bbartlog says:

        There’s also Operation Ogre, the Basque separatist assassination of Franco’s successor Luis Carrero Blanco. Arguably one of the best historical answers to the question.

    • Chalid says:

      Assuming you’re looking for relatively recent examples, George Tiller’s murder shut down late-term abortions in a large region permanently (and all abortions in his city for a few years) which I think his killer might view as a success.

    • B.Dizzy says:

      Not even Charlie Hebdo will print cartoons of Muhammad anymore, and at the very least The Independent cited security concerns when choosing not to reprint the famous cartoons following the attack on Hebdo’s offices.

      My suspicion is that small scale violence can be very effective when it is in support of a pre-existing custom or norm. Since Westerners are already extremely sensitive about racism and “Islamophobia” a few small acts of terrorism can keep a great many people in line. By focusing violence on people already considered transgressive they could probably altar people’s behaviour quite significantly, but the latest wave of attacks seem to be optimised for grabbing attention not imposing law.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Ironic, since Columbine had exactly nothing to do with bullying.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I thought Columbine was more the start of the “zero tolerance” craze rather than anti-bullying. i.e., “take a bite of a pop-tart and then hold it and say ‘bang bang’ and get suspended.” That kind of stuff doesn’t have anything to do with bullying, either.

        • Nornagest says:

          It was definitely that. Serious anti-bullying measures came in at about the same time, but I don’t know if there’s a causal relationship.

          • John Schilling says:

            Zero Tolerance was a serious anti-bullying measure. A stupid, counterproductive one, but the people involved were very serious in their folly.

          • Lasagna says:

            I think you’re right. I was always under the impression that the anti-bullying measures put into place in the US were meant to address a real and very serious problem: gay and lesbian middle and high school students were victims of endless bullying, and as a result, were killing themselves at a far greater rate than the general population.

            Then, a common theme in American behavior: we do something good and nice and necessary, and then out of a well-meaning put poorly thought out egalitarianism, keep doing it and expanding it until it reaches a hysterical pitch and starts to cause serious damage.

            So an anti-bullying measure designed specifically to help a specific group of people turns into a set of rules punishing kids for next to nothing, hyper-sensitive children and their parents complaining every time someone looks at them sideways, and schools and teachers spending more and more of their time on unnecessary (and counterproductive) behavior control rather than teaching. I come from a family of teachers, and the stories they tell about this are insane.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @John Schilling

            What does not being allowed to play cops and robbers on the playground with finger guns have to do with anti-bullying?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @Conrad: (I mostly agree that this is orthogonal to bullying but) bullying often involves abiguous threats, so schools might enforce not even looking like you might be threatening violence.

          • Civilis says:

            What does not being allowed to play cops and robbers on the playground with finger guns have to do with anti-bullying?

            In addition to what hog^5 said, it’s also an aspect of the school system trying to solve multiple problems at the same time using the same tool.

            Most bullying cases are complicated he-said she-said tales by not particularly reliable children. Some of the teachers might have an idea who the real bully was, but the principal likely doesn’t and the school system and school administration certainly don’t. Confronted with the risk to their kid’s permanent record, which has a chance (probably small) to affect their chances in life, some parents will do anything for their kids, and those parents are more likely to have their kids be bullies (and this isn’t limited to bullying but also other disruptive behaviors). Those parents will direct their efforts at the top end, to the school system itself, and in the area I was in, were willing to use lawyers. Zero tolerance policies take the risk away from the school system and make sure the guilty get punished; that the innocent also get punished is considered a small price to pay.

            We’re unfortunately stuck with a choice between a school system that doesn’t punish truly disruptive behaviors, a system that lets the kids who have parents willing to spend time and money to fight the system get away with disruption (which benefits the affluent, connected and privileged), or a system that relies on draconian zero tolerance rules. I’m not sure which is the best option; a lot’s going to depend on where your kids and the kids around them fall, especially the worst of them.

          • Permanent records don’t exist.

          • dndnrsn says:

            That comment is going on your permanent record.

          • Jiro says:

            Zero Tolerance was a serious anti-bullying measure.

            I thought that one motivation of zero tolerance policies was race. If you end disproportionately punishing members of one race and the rules allow you to use discretion, you can be accused of discriminating and you have no defense against this accusation. If following exact rules with no discretion leads you to disproportionately punish members of one race, you have a defense.

          • random832 says:

            Permanent records don’t exist.

            I’m not sure it matters if they exist, if multiple generations of people have grown up being told that they do and a majority have had nothing particularly strongly disconfirm the idea of such a thing at least following you as far as college.

            Kids are told it exists in order to intimidate them into good behavior, without any thought given to the possibility that they may – as kids or parents – use underhanded tactics to protect their / their children’s records. It’s self-sustaining at this point, even if teachers and administrators stop using it as a threat, parents and other kids will keep the meme alive.

          • Civilis says:

            Permanent records don’t exist.

            I used it as shorthand for the long term permanent effects on a kid’s educational path. If you want to maximize your chances of getting in a top university, you look at grades, the difficulty of classes taken, and extracurricular activities. All of the administrative punishments the school can dish out impact at least one of those, if not all three.

          • The Nybbler says:

            This story (google cached link, as original seems to be dead) suggests there _is_ such a thing as a permanent record and some colleges do request it.

    • J Mann says:

      1) Seed strategy:

      There’s a strategy where you use small scale political violence to intimidate local civil authorities and provoke reprisal, and hope that a combination of heavy handed reprisals from the government and more strategic reprisals from your own enforcers give you increasing leadership over the population and/or world sympathy.

      The failure mode is when you either lose the sympathy of the people or the government proves capable of stamping you out and/or outlasts you. I don’t know the details of world history, so I’d welcome corrections and additions even more than usual, but I’d propose:

      Arguable successes: IRA, Algeria, Communist China, Iranian Revolution, Cuban Revolution.

      Likely failures: Sendera Lumino, Sandanistas, Students for a Democratic Society, etc.

      2) Bad cop:

      Arguably, small scale political violence can be the bad cop in a good cop/bad cop strategy. I’m more skeptical of this one – I think violence tends to harden your opponent’s position rather than soften it.

      • Aapje says:

        3) False flag:

        This seems to work best for those who already have power and want to keep their enemies down.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I think we need to analyze it in more detail in each case, personally. For example in the case of the IRA, it’s important to distinguish what we mean by IRA. The stated and consistent goal of Irish Republicanism was the complete independence of the isle from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, complete withdrawal of the British government from the soil of said isle, and a united Irish Republic whose territory consisted of the whole of that isle. By those standards, the Irish Republicans’ attempts to use violence failed in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Easter Rising also failed, but arguably set the groundwork for Sinn Féin’s political victories in 1918, so if you count that as being of a piece with the Irish Republican Army’s actions from during the War Of Independence, I suppose you could claim that it was a partial success.

        That said, I would argue that this partial success owed quite a lot to timing. If the Brits had really wanted a repeat of 1916 and the mass execution of the Dáil Éireann for treason, they could’ve made that happen (absent a few escaping stragglers), but the aftermath of WW1 made that sort of big military action politically unfeasible even if the current British Government weren’t sick of war themselves (and I suspect they were).

        Compare and contrast that with the Anti-Treaty IRA and it’s PIRA/OIRA successors. They continued the fight with the explicit goal of kicking the UK out of those northern counties and re-uniting them with the by-then actually Independent (courtesy of WW2 and further Empire weariness) Irish Republic. That was the goal all the way from the Border Campaign up to the Good Friday Agreement. So, going into The Troubles with the Goal of a united Irish Republic with exactly 0 UK presence anywhere on the soil of Eire, the peace treaty ended with:

        -The UK retaining political control over Northern Ireland.

        -The Republic of Ireland amending its constitution to remove any claim of sovereignty over northern Ireland.

        In return for:

        -The right of citizens born in Northern Ireland to choose Irish or dual British-Irish citizenship instead of the default UK citizenship if they so choose.

        As far as the large-scale geopolitical goals of the IRA, that is ALL they accomplished! I suppose you could point to the promise the promise that IF, some far off sunny day, a majority of both the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland want unification, the UK will step aside as a victory, but I think that’s less of a concession than a statement of a reality that’s been in place since at least the late 60s. Does anyone seriously think that if there had been genuine majority support in both Ireland and Northern Ireland for unification in, say, 1970 that the UK would’ve said “No, and if you try it we’ll consider your attempt to annex our territory an Unfriendly Act”? Really?

        So, in the final analysis, I will grant that the IRA of 1918-21 was able to get partial success given: A) widespread popular support so strong that it constituted a majority of the elected government recognized by the citizens in its area of operations as legitimate, and B) an opponent who didn’t really want to fight that war at that time. Not exactly a resounding success.

        It’s also only a “seed strategy” in the sense you mean if the aforementioned Easter Rising was not intended to succeed in winning independence on its own. To what extent was that the case? I think that the way the failure of the Easter Rising and the British Response laid the groundwork for the success in 1918 was more happy accident or at least fallback position than actual goal.

        And AFAIK, every attempt to –deliberately- follow that sort of “incite heavy-handed response, ride popular swell of support to victory” strategy on the part of armed/militant groups has failed. I don’t believe that this was a deliberate strategy on the part of the Chinese or Cuban revolutionaries, for example.

        • J Mann says:

          Thanks – I appreciate the education.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          To clarify the limits of my knowledge:

          I don’t know for sure that the Easter Rising WASN’T planned in order to deliberately provoke a heavy-handed response and to allow Sinn Fein to ride the popular support that generated into control of Ireland’s parliamentary delegation.

          That just doesn’t jibe with what I’ve read of the period, though I will admit I haven’t read deeply.

          Deiseach or any other Irish contributors probably learned more in their primary schooling (I hope so, anyway).

      • onyomi says:

        Which success do you mean in the case of Communist China? Tiananmen?

        To me that feels like a pretty good case of “we provoked an overblown reaction from the authorities, won the sympathy of the world, yet everyone is still so afraid of the authorities that nothing really came of it”?

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I assumed he meant Mao, thus my quibble that I didn’t think that ‘seed’ strategy was applicable to the Chinese Civil War.

        If he meant Tienanmen Square that makes even LESS sense, since as I understand it it led to DE-liberalization policies enforced so strongly that in many respects China is still not back to where it was immediately before those protests, and in the meantime has successfully produced generations which no longer view liberalization as nearly so desirable.

        • J Mann says:

          Yes, I meant Mao. As I said, my understanding of history is very unsophisticated, and my understanding of the Communist Chinese Revolution is basically (a) Mao said something about the people being the sea in which revolutionaries swim; (b) the US thought for a while that Chiang had a chance; and (c) then it turned out he didn’t.

          How about the Palestinians? My perception is that violence against third parties (for example the hijacking wave of the 70s and 80s) was unsuccessful, but that violence against Israel and moderate Palestinians has left the more violent parties in control of the conflict. They haven’t won independence yet, but Hamas controls the West bank, nobody seems under pressure to hold free elections (possibly because the world community doesn’t want to see the results), and the parties most willing to use violence have control over a substantial portion of the aid flowing in.

          • cassander says:

            Mao only survived because George Marshall basically forced Chiang not to wipe him out immediately after ww2 when he was best able to do so.

      • yodelyak says:

        Edit: Tibor mentions radical Islamic terrorism below, so this is just more detail on the point that Osama bin Laden’s was a “seed strategy.”

        Osama bin Laden was upfront (at least at some points, in certain contexts, here’s one link but you can find lots of corroboration pretty easily) that his was a seed strategy. He didn’t really care how many Americans died, and he didn’t expect to overthrow any particular Western government; he cared that Islam was divided and polluted, and wanted to unify it under a caliphate. His goal was using terrorism to provoke Western reprisal to in turn create a unified nation of Islam that was free of–and unified against–Western influence. The story of how his strategy played out (e.g. differences between ISIS and Al Qaeda) offers a lot of additional examples of ways this strategy can play out in practice.

      • Bond says:

        I believe you mean Sendero Luminoso, but that’s a good example of a long-term strategy of political violence that was a near-total failure – Artemio himself declared their ‘war’ lost a few years back.

        The Sandinistas, on the other hand, not only toppled Somoza but continue to rule Nicaragua today. They’ve had to moderate themselves over the years to be a viable/electable political party rather than a guerrilla group, but it’s hard to view the FSLN as a failure.

    • Tibor says:

      At least in case if Islamic terrorism, I believe the goal is to provoke conflict. The Islamists want westerners to hate muslims which in turn makes muslims hate westerners and bring them to their ranks. The bigger the social barriers between muslim minorities and the majority in western societies, the fewer will assimilate into the larger society which is a positive thing from the perspective of the Islamists. Anything that makes those barriers higher helps.

      But it is not inherent to muslims. With IRA for example, I think it was the same principle. For the IRA, the worst thing possible are unionist Irish. For the Islamists the worst thing are westernized muslims.

      • SpeakLittle says:

        IS(IS/IL) has openly stated this to be their strategy. Their propaganda magazine, Dabiq, has repeatedly called for “an extinction of the grey zone”. In the pyschology/world-view/paradigm/what-have-you of IS(IS/IL), Muslim and non-Muslim cannot coexist.

    • Drew says:

      Small-scale lethal attacks seem to be a mixed bag.

      Consider the US’s history of lynching. Wiki suggests that there were, on average, fewer than 10 attacks / year across the US. But those attacks had huge psychological and political impacts. We still talk about the practice today.

      I think it’s small-scale non-lethal political violence that consistently backfires.

      People are willing to punch their opponents because punching is satisfying. It’s not nearly as morally-taboo as killing. The penalties are costly enough to make it a good signal. But not so huge as to end your life.

      This galvanizes the opposition. Before things turned punchy, the opposition just got the glow of feeling intellectually correct. After things turn punchy, the opposition gets to imagine themselves as correct and physically heroic.

      I suspect this triggers a feedback loop. Villains throw a punch. Heroes decide that they’re willing to risk a punch to stand up for the cause. So they march. At that point, you’ve got a big crowd of Heroes.

      As you add extra people, the risk to any individual drops. But each person in the crowd can still tell themselves that they’d be willing to take a punch, if it came to that.

      The psychological benefits stay constant, but the expected costs fall as more people join. This means that more people are willing to join. And the crowd grows. So the expected costs fall.

      • Tekhno says:

        I think it’s small-scale non-lethal political violence that consistently backfires.

        People are willing to punch their opponents because punching is satisfying. It’s not nearly as morally-taboo as killing. The penalties are costly enough to make it a good signal. But not so huge as to end your life.

        An example of this is that antifa kept justifying punching Richard Spencer on the basis that we should stop Nazis before they gain power and commit genocide. The problem is that punching Richard Spencer didn’t stop him at all, as he was very much alive and still commited to his views, perhaps a little more than before.

        In this spectrum, it’s the middle ground that’s shaky. They would be better off either doing nothing against him physically, or commiting to outright assassinating him. The justifications they were using for punching him, actually required them to kill him, which at least somewhat suggests they were doing it to feel good. Half-measures don’t work.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Agreed, which really just brings us back to the old saw of “Don’t fight unless you have to, but if you have to fight hold nothing back.”

        • abc says:

          The problem is that punching Richard Spencer didn’t stop him at all, as he was very much alive and still commited to his views, perhaps a little more than before.

          It did however make it much harder from him to find venues willing to host his meetings.

        • Tekhno says:

          @abc
          In real life meetings are really window dressing, or morale boosting at best. All the important stuff to do with spreading a message takes place on the internet.

          We’re all still operating in 20th Century mode, but nobody really needs a “street prescence” anymore to get people to agree with you.

          • abc says:

            Disagree, if you want to go beyond “get people to agree with you” to organize people to actually do something about it, you still need face to face.

            Are the various rationalist meetups simply window dressing and morale boosting?

          • Tekhno says:

            @abc
            Do you really need to go beyond getting people to agree with you? If you have an army of people who will vote like you, that’s all that matters for peacetime democratic politics.

          • abc says:

            Do you really need to go beyond getting people to agree with you? If you have an army of people who will vote like you, that’s all that matters for peacetime democratic politics.

            So why do rationalists organize meetups?

            Seriously, stop playing stupid. There’s a reason political pressure organizations exist. Even tech-savy causes like the EFF need a physical presence and face to face interaction.

          • onyomi says:

            @abc

            I had never heard of Richard Spencer until he got punched.

          • Tekhno says:

            @abc

            So why do rationalists organize meetups?

            I feel like that’s more about enjoying each other’s company and the human need to be near other humans. Probably some weird cuddle pile stuff too.

            This doesn’t really help information spread any more than it does online. Less so, because it’s the more primitive mode of propagandizing and has a lower transmission rate.

            Seriously, stop playing stupid. There’s a reason political pressure organizations exist. Even tech-savy causes like the EFF need a physical presence and face to face interaction.

            Can you explain why beyond people’s desire to get in close and personal? Now we have other methods that don’t expose you to being shut down or no platformed from a real life space. Why do you think the old methods are still useful politically? Saying that this and that organization believes that they are still necessary doesn’t explain anything, since I believe they are mistaken and operating on false premises.

          • John Schilling says:

            Can you explain why beyond people’s desire to get in close and personal? Now we have other methods that don’t expose you to being shut down or no platformed from a real life space. Why do you think the old methods are still useful politically?

            Because 90% of politics is winning the support of people who aren’t nerds, and only nerds offer their support based on their evaluation of arguments and supporting facts. For everyone else, you need to convey not just arguments and facts but also e.g. confidence and a sense of community. Which is where that “weird cuddle pile stuff” and other silliness about people’s desire to get in close and personal comes in to play.

            If the only platforms you are allowed or the only platforms safe enough for you to take are the ones suitable only for conveying mere facts and arguments, then you’ve been no-platformed, or close enough as makes no difference. If the other side still gets to hold their face-to-face meetings because that’s safe enough, nobody violently disrupts their meetings, then that is a gross inequity and something needs to be changed.

          • Tekhno says:

            @John Schilling

            It seems pretty easy to convey emotion without being there in person. Both Martin Luther King and Adolf Hitler’s performances are etched into my brain, despite never seeing them in person.

            All the most famous speeches that have fired people up have reached the most people through communication technology (radio, tv, the internet). Emotion vs facts is just about messaging, and most political memes you’ll see flying by on twitter are heavy on emotion and light on facts. That’s simply a matter of appealing to people’s natures.

            It seems to me like implying that a band can’t be famous today without having live concerts, which just isn’t true. How many people hear of bands by randomly stumbling into a concert, compared to those who hear it on the radio, tv, or internet? Political rallies like rock concerts are for the faithful. They are an experience, but that doesn’t make them the most effective medium for spreading the message itself and galvanizing people around it, fact wise or emotion wise. Once upon a time it did, but we have ways that are far far superior now.

            The majority of people who support one political side over another, at this current time of relatively free assembly, do not go to political rallies. Most people are convinced over to a political side by transmitted messages (media, the political entertainment genre etc), or informal peer correspondance. In real life gatherings for political purposes come dead last, and are extremely overrated as necessities in my view.

            People have gatherings because it’s fun and feels good, and perhaps because they still think they are as vital to success as they once were in an age before instant communication, and the ability to in effect, hold virtual rallies on the internet (think of the reach a lot of e-celebs have). As for nerds, they seem pretty much the same, because it was the nerds (rationalists in this case) having the quite literal cuddle piles in their gatherings.

            Of course, morale and camaraderie are just as easily transmissable over the internet too (Spencer’s alt-right, frogtwitter, /pol/ etc are practically bursting with morale and cameraderie). Most of the downsides are on the individual not the collective level. A modern internet based hippy movement would have a harder time facilitating spontaneous um… “free love”. The alt-right, of course, does not have this problem to begin with.

          • Tyrrell McAllister says:

            Can you explain why beyond people’s desire to get in close and personal? Now we have other methods that don’t expose you to being shut down or no platformed from a real life space. Why do you think the old methods are still useful politically?

            Because coordination requires trust, and trust is easier to build on face-to-face interaction.

            If you’re going to join a team, it’s not enough to know that they argue for the right policies. You need trust: Trust that they actually believe their arguments (they’re not just faking for attention), that they will put everything on the line to achieve the team’s goals (they won’t chicken out when the going gets tough), and that they are competent to implement your aims.

            The internet, as you point out, is higher bandwidth for arguments. But face-to-face is still higher bandwidth for all the subtle ques that most people use to build trust.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          In this spectrum, it’s the middle ground that’s shaky. They would be better off either doing nothing against him physically, or commiting to outright assassinating him. The justifications they were using for punching him, actually required them to kill him, which at least somewhat suggests they were doing it to feel good. Half-measures don’t work.

          pretty much

          personally I’d prefer it if feel-good progressivism could keep it nonviolent though. Unfortunately they can’t seem to handle that, so low-level meaningless political violence it is.

        • Matt M says:

          “In this spectrum, it’s the middle ground that’s shaky. They would be better off either doing nothing against him physically, or commiting to outright assassinating him. “

          This is my same justification for dismissing as a hysterical loon anyone who compares Trump to Hitler.

          If you REALLY think he’s Hitler, you should be well in the process of developing a plan to assassinate him, even with high odds of the plan failing and ending in your own death.

          • 1soru1 says:

            Shouldn’t having such a degree of confidence in that view require a bit more historical evidence that assassination is a viable means of stopping dictatorships?

            Where exactly on the map is the Glorious People’s Republic of SomeGuyKilledTheBadDudeAndEverythingIsNowOkistan?

          • Matt M says:

            Let’s say Hitler is responsible for 6 million deaths. If you think your plan has a 5% chance of successfully killing him, that’s 300K people saved via conditional probability. Now let’s say there’s only a 5% chance killing Hitler actually stops the holocaust, that’s still 15,000 lives. Approximately 5 9/11s.

            You wouldn’t risk your life to stop 5 9/11s? What kind of selfish monster are you?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The Holocaust was some 11 million deaths.

            The problem is that there’s very little information about the effects of assassination. Could killing Hitler have made matters worse, perhaps by having a successor who’s got better sense militarily?

            If Black Earth is correct that the Holocaust was slowed by bureaucracies in conquered territories which weren’t completely subjugated, could assassinating Hitler have accelerated the Holocaust?

          • cassander says:

            @nancy

            The problem is that there’s very little information about the effects of assassination. Could killing Hitler have made matters worse, perhaps by having a successor who’s got better sense militarily?

            Hitler only “got” to kill 11 million because he repeatedly insisted, against military advice, to a number of huge military gambles all of which (prior to the invasion of russia) succeeded beyond his expectations. Almost anyone else and you just don’t get ww2, and no ww2 means no holocaust.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Anecdotally, at least, the British shelved a mid-war assassination plan on the basis that killing Hitler might aid the German war effort.

          • bbartlog says:

            @1soru1: as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, Spain is a reasonable example of a place where assassinating one particular bad guy (Luis Carrero Blanco) seems to have actually put the country on a different path. But I would agree that such situations are rare and that it certainly doesn’t look easy to know that you’re in one of them ahead of time.

          • Salem says:

            But Spain is also a good example of where assassinating one particular bad guy (Jose Calvo Sotelo) caused far more damage than that bad guy could possibly have done alive.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        What about trying for lethality and failing? Last week a left wing radical tried to assassinate a dozen or so Republican congressmen and it seems to have been forgotten already.

        Do you think the conversation would be different today if he had succeeded? It’s very surreal. I don’t know what the climate would be like if we were watching a dozen state funerals this week.

        To be honest I can’t believe what an awful shot the guy was. From what I understand he had about 10 minutes, against unarmed people, reloaded several times and managed to kill no one.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          To be honest I can’t believe what an awful shot the guy was.

          I mean, the sorts that tend to be anti-Republican are statistically likely to also be anti-gun, so I for one am not surprised.

          I’m also not surprised it’s nearly forgotten already. What, are the talking heads that are anti-gun just supposed to up and lambast about how awful it is that someone went after Trump’s ilk and it should never have been possible in the first place?

        • Tekhno says:

          I’m also not surprised it’s nearly forgotten already. What, are the talking heads that are anti-gun just supposed to up and lambast about how awful it is that someone went after Trump’s ilk and it should never have been possible in the first place?

          Wouldn’t that be good outreach to Republicans on the issue? When left wing militias started forming, I noticed some rightists having second thoughts about that whole second amendment thing. This would require the hypothetical left wing article author to get over their own cognitive dissonance, however.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I noticed some rightists having second thoughts about that whole second amendment thing.

          Yes, a radical left winger trying to kill a bunch of conservatives really makes me, a conservative, want to give up my guns.

          Are you sure you weren’t just missing jokes about how “that’s it, we should have gun safety laws preventing the sale of firearms to Democrats?” Do you have links to any actual right wingers expressing this idea?

          As far as outreach goes, I think you’ll see that none of these Republican lawmakers change their minds about gun rights. This should make it clear to Democrats that no, we’re really serious about gun rights. It doesn’t matter if people are shooting at us, we’re still not giving up our guns.

          Can anyone link the “how many children have to die before you support gun control? All of them” meme?

          • Iain says:

            This should make it clear to Democrats that no, we’re really serious about gun rights. It doesn’t matter if people are shooting at us, we’re still not giving up our guns.

            I don’t think anybody questions the sincerity of the Republican attachment to guns. It’s the wisdom of said attachment that tends to get questioned. I don’t really expect the recent shooting to convince anybody pro-gun to change their stance, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a strong argument against gun control.

          • Randy M says:

            it certainly doesn’t seem like a strong argument against gun control.

            Qwints below, in partial refutation of the attacker being a bad shot, points out that he was under fire from three capital hill police, part of the victim’s security detail.
            Some of us don’t have security details.

          • I don’t really expect the recent shooting to convince anybody pro-gun to change their stance, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a strong argument against gun control.

            The argument against gun control would be that, absent legal restrictions, some of the spectators would have been armed and could have fired on the attacker.

          • Iain says:

            Some of us don’t have security details.

            Absent a security detail, who exactly is carrying a gun around at baseball practice? Are you planning on stealing home wearing a holster? Leaving your gun unattended on the bench while you’re at bat? Running back to the parking lot while under fire? There will always be times and places where it is not reasonable to have a gun to hand; if anybody really wants to shoot you, they can wait for one of those times. It seems obvious to me, an Ignorant Canadian who Hates Liberty, that the better answer is to minimize the chance that there’s a guy shooting at you in the first place.

            As I said, I do not expect this event to convince gun enthusiasts of anything. Let me assure you that it is not going to convince gun skeptics, either.

          • Randy M says:

            Are you planning on stealing home wearing a holster?

            No, because I think there is a sentencing increase if you attempt to steal home while armed.

            It seems obvious to me, an Ignorant Canadian who Hates Liberty, that the better answer is to minimize the chance that there’s a guy shooting at you in the first place.

            By which you mean eliminate all guns from the continent?
            If so, I don’t believe in the possibility for an efficacious attempt, and even if largely successful, deaths by stabbing are possible.
            If not, then what?

          • Simon Penner says:

            @iain

            That works in Canada, where people are generally civilized and peaceable.

            I thought that too, before I moved here. But in the US, at least in certain parts of it, that is fundamentally unrealistic. The appropriate tone isn’t “having a gun on you is the best way to keep the peace”. It’s “Having a gun on you is the only way we have left to keep the peace”.

            Seriously, however bad you think it is here, it’s at least ten times worse than that. At least, in some parts. Those people don’t have other options

          • Nornagest says:

            No, because I think there is a sentencing increase if you attempt to steal home while armed.

            If you’re armed, it’s robbing home.

          • Randy M says:

            Thanks, that’s the distinction I was looking for but not, apparently, on speaking terms with.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Absent a security detail, who exactly is carrying a gun around at baseball practice? Are you planning on stealing home wearing a holster? Leaving your gun unattended on the bench while you’re at bat? Running back to the parking lot while under fire? There will always be times and places where it is not reasonable to have a gun to hand; if anybody really wants to shoot you, they can wait for one of those times.

            In general, I agree that you’re not going to carry on your person all the time, and so do the vast majority of gun owners. We don’t pack heat in the shower. We don’t sit around on condition yellow while reading a book or watching Superbowl LIII. We don’t continually unstrap and strap our holsters between being at the plate and on the bench.

            However, a coach could quite reasonably carry on the field without creating an inconvenience. Players could store their firearm in their lockers.

            It seems obvious to me, an Ignorant Canadian who Hates Liberty, that the better answer is to minimize the chance that there’s a guy shooting at you in the first place.

            This is one of the arguments for permitting carry, in addition to the one David Friedman made. Since carriers could shoot back at a lone shooter, a person thinking about doing this, knowing this, would be notably less likely to try it in the first place.

            Gun rights advocates commonly note how many defensive gun uses do not involve firing the weapon; depending on how you count them, they may not even require drawing one. (In the limit, they don’t even require having one. Consider that some assailants only have to think you’re armed and they’ll retreat; they’re understandably much less likely to believe that if they’re aware that guns are banned at the premises.)

            Advocates also note how mass shootings only ever seem to happen at gun-free zones.

          • Absent a security detail, who exactly is carrying a gun around at baseball practice? Are you planning on stealing home wearing a holster?

            Any spectator who routinely carries a handgun, which some people do in states where doing so is legal. Possibly also other people present other than the actual players.

          • Achilles_de_Remilia says:

            The logic falls apart when politicians are being specifically targeted. If some untrained idiot starts walking shots in on Paul Ryan, he should get behind some bloody hard cover, not start shooting back.
            The best thing he can contribute to the fight is forcing the attacker to choose between repositioning for a clear shot (suicide under return fire) or hunkering down and admitting failure.

            Leave the covering fire to the people who aren’t being shot at. They tend to be better at it

            Alice Maz is right: congressmen don’t need automatic concealed carry. They need lictors!

          • Matt M says:

            If some untrained idiot starts walking shots in on Paul Ryan, he should get behind some bloody hard cover, not start shooting back.

            Your model does not include the political boost one would get to their career if they were fired upon by a terrorist, and then took out their own gun, fired back, and killed the attacker. You’d be a lock for the GOP nomination whenever you wanted it!

          • albatross11 says:

            Well, after the bullletholes healed up, anyway.

          • John Schilling says:

            It seems obvious to me, an Ignorant Canadian who Hates Liberty, that the better answer is to minimize the chance that there’s a guy shooting at you in the first place.

            Then you want to not be poor, not be black, and most importantly not be a violent criminal yourself. But I gather that what you’re really talking about is newsworthy mass shootings of middle-class people, not ordinary criminal-vs-criminal violence.

            As an American who actually pays attention, I note that almost all of the newsworthy mass shootings in this country occur in one of our many designated gun-free zones. Yes, we do have those(*). Schools, nighclubs, a few particularly Blue states, etc. And the evidence is, if you want to not be shot at in this sort of incident, you want to stay away from the gun-free zones.

            The baseball-game incident is an unusual case: Eugene Simpson Stadium Park is not a gun-free zone that I know of, but most everybody involved was taking time off from their job in the very gun-free District of Columbia. Just not so gun-free that VIPs aren’t allowed armed bodyguards, so it turns out no innocent people got killed this time. And the incident was only newsworthy because it involved VIPs. That’s not a solution that generalizes for non-VIPs.

            * For ordinary people, not so much e.g. cops, VIPs, or bodyguards, and of course not for criminals because criminal.

          • Tibor says:

            Let me just add that I’ve always found US gun laws rather contraintuitive. Specifically the fact that open carry is legal more often than concealed carry. The czech laws are exactly the opposite, concealed carry is granted automatically with the self-defence license (which is fairly easy to get and cheaper that the driver’s license) but open carry is reserved to the police (the army is not legally allowed to operate inland save for emergency states). This means that even the majority of the people who don’t carry guns (despite the most liberal gun laws in Europe the gun ownership is relatively low, people usually just have a pepper spray or at most a gas pistol for which you don’t need a license) are passively protected by those who do (a possible robber can’t tell who’s armed). Sure the police don’t know either but the laws shouldn’t be primarily made to make the job of policemen easier. Btw, our murder rates are the same as those of Germany which has maybe the most restrictive gun laws in Europe. I always find it annoying when gun control advocates arrogantly talk about how their position is the only sensible solution to the high level of violence in the US, citing “Europe” as an example while failing to see that not all European countries have draconian gun laws like Germany and the UK (which incidentally has more violent crime and a higher murder rate than the Czech Rep and Switzerland with it’s second highest per capita private gun ownership and gun laws almost as liberal as the Czech ones has an even lower level of any crime than Germany). The problem of the US is a lot more complex than liberal gun laws, there seem to be a lot of sociological and cultural factors involved.

          • John Schilling says:

            Let me just add that I’ve always found US gun laws rather contraintuitive. Specifically the fact that open carry is legal more often than concealed carry. The czech laws are exactly the opposite, concealed carry is granted automatically with the self-defence license (which is fairly easy to get and cheaper that the driver’s license) but open carry is reserved to the police (the army is not legally allowed to operate inland save for emergency states).

            The Czech version isn’t exactly unknown in the US; it varies from state to state.

            What we do have is a recent historic legacy of civilized towns scattered in a lawless frontier (relatively speaking), where on the trail from San Antonio to Abeline of course you’re carrying a gun, and you don’t want anyone to mistake you for an easy target – but when you get into town you are expected to put the gun away, and if the .45 is still on your hip because you haven’t made it to your room yet that’s maybe OK but only if you’re not being sneaky about it so e.g the bartender knows to ask you to check your gun before he serves your whiskey.

            In some places, culture changed faster than laws. And when the culture changed to self-defence = concealed carry, people who wanted to change the laws to stop even that, sometimes didn’t know about the old laws that allowed you to carry a gun openly because nobody did that any more. Carrying a gun openly under the old rules is mostly a protest move, akin to fetishwear at a pride parade.

            More generally: Carrying weapons openly is easier and more effective (deterrence + ease of access + did I mention deterrence) than carrying them concealed. I think anywhere carrying arms is a normal thing, or at least a common thing without stigma or shame, the default is to carry openly and anybody who conceals a weapon is perceived as being sneaky, probably looking to kill someone by ambush or some such thing, because why else would they hide it. But where carrying arms is a rare thing and is seen as part of a dangerous lifestyle, the default is to conceal the weapon to avoid alarming people and anyone carrying openly is probably trying to frighten or intimidate people.

            The United States still mixes both cultures. And both types of law, inconsistently.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            John summed it up pretty well.

            Let me give two anecdotal examples of how different presentations coded to me, a pro-gun rights type:

            Scenario 1: Sierra Vista, AZ
            A bunch of middle-aged white men in jeans, suspenders or cowboy belts and work shirts talking in and in front of an antique/pawn shop next to a gun shop. Work boots or cowboy boots and two have some form of stetson or cowboy hat on. Most of them are open-carrying revolvers in leather holsters.

            Reaction: This is a mix of the Western culture combined with the aforementioned political/fashion statement, and since I’m betting a few are the store owners probably a defense against robbery. Nothing to write home about.

            Scenario 2: Cape Girardeau, MO
            Scrawny (the bad nutrition growing up kind) late teens/early 20s white guy in a threadbare and ripped white tank top, dirty jeans, old sneakers in poor condition, open-carrying a big gold/bronze finished revolver in a cheap nylon holster, safety snap undone, in a Wal-Mart.

            THIS guy actually tweaked my antennae a bit because the “open carry as cultural symbol” thing is something I associate with The Mountain West (CO, WY, MT, ID), the Southwest (AZ, NM, UT, rural NV) and Texas, not here in the Midwest/South transitional zone. Add to that that I associate large and fancily decorated pistols with “range toy for guy with too much money” and “criminal status symbol” and from this guy’s scrawny appearance and sallow skin tone combined with attire and presence in wal-mart, I was leaning towards the latter. Add in the undone safety snap (which is at the very least stupid), and…

            I didn’t run or call the cops or notify store security or any such thing, but it focused my attention, though seeing that he had a young wife and kid with him later downgraded that some.

          • Tibor says:

            @John: when you put it that way it kind of makes sense. I know that I’d see anyone who carries a firearm* openly with a lot of suspicion but if someone told me he was regularly carrying a concealed weapon I wouldn’t find it strange. Despite the liberal (compared to the rest of Europe and some US states) gun laws most people have no first hand experience with guns. I shot my father’s pistol a few times as a child at a shooting range but then he sold it and I haven’t held a gun since (not counting BB guns 🙂 ). I think the laws were made liberal on purpose though. During communism private ownership of weapons was completely illegal (although hunters could still somehow get their hands on rifles, but I think it was heavily regulated abe they probably were not allowed to keep them a at home or keep ammunition) and I think some of the people who drafted the laws after the Velvet Revolution wanted to make sure the population can possibly defend itself against the state. On the other hand maybe it’s just a return to an older tradition, Austrian gun laws are also fairly liberal and even 100 years ago both countries had the same government.

            *or an uncovered blade which I’m not sure whether it is actually against the Czech law although I expect the police would want to talk to you if you walked around with an unsheeted sword… btw I was surprised that carrying swords in a scabbard is still illegal in many countries).

            Btw the German restrictive gun laws actually come from the Nazi time. Like any totalitarian regime they didn’t want the people to carry guns (neither did the DDR communists) and it seems to have stuck after the war because of all the resentment to anything martial after WW2 in Germany. Even today Germans seem to treat their army like something that doesn’t belong in the polite society.

          • MNH says:

            @John

            Carrying a gun openly under the old rules is mostly a protest move, akin to fetishwear at a pride parade.

            As someone who has done the latter, this does not match my motives. There aren’t many opportunities in my life for me to present myself the way that I actually like to, and having to hide the same particular aspects of myself over and over makes it especially tiresome. I just relish the chance to go out and be me in an environment where I won’t face social backlash, and I think my friends who do similarly would say the same.

        • qwints says:

          To be honest I can’t believe what an awful shot the guy was. From what I understand he had about 10 minutes, against unarmed people, reloaded several times and managed to kill no one.

          Scalise had a protective detail of three capitol police, Special Agents Crystal Griner, David Bailey and Henry Cabrera, that immediately returned fire.. Alexandria Police responded within three minutes of the first 911 call.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            That’s interesting. When I was hearing recounts by congressmen who had taken refuge in the dugout they said it wasn’t until long after the shooting started (about 6 minutes) that they heard return fire. Then again, all after action reports are going to be fuzzy because of the whole “getting at shot at” thing tends to mess with your perceptions and memory.

        • Drew says:

          Do you think the conversation would be different today if he had succeeded?

          The conversation would definitely be louder. The republicans would be more outraged. So, the reaction would be stronger.

          I think that attack would still have backfired.

          The key question if a normal person would feel like they’re taking on an unacceptable risk by expressing their political opinion.

          In this case, the shooter is being portrayed as a lone nut. He was attacking a small, identifiable group. And he got killed.

          Republican Congressmen might be less willing to make public appearances for a while. And I’d expect them to ask for increased security.

          Generic conservative voters would be outraged that someone attacked their leaders. They might carry guns to their next political rally just in case. But I don’t think they’d feel personally threatened.

        • MoebiusStreet says:

          I can’t believe what an awful shot the guy was. From what I understand he had about 10 minutes, against unarmed people, reloaded several times and managed to kill no one.

          Perhaps you’re the victim of how the popular media portrays shootings. Although I’ve never been any kind of shootout myself, I’ve taken training classes in self defense firearms.

          First, depending on the firearm being used, it’s far more difficult to score a hit than we’re made to believe. However, my understanding is that he was using a decent rifle, so this probably doesn’t apply. But for the record – if you’re using a handgun, then any distance greater than what you could conduct a conversation at – say, 10 yards max – is going to be difficult to hit.

          Second, people are much more robust than portrayed. When shot, it’s extremely unlikely that the victim will just fall down dead or unconscious – for that you’d need to destroy the CNS. Indeed, more likely is that in the heat of the moment, they won’t even be aware that they were shot. If the shot were sufficient to knock them down – say, by breaking a leg bone, they’ll still be quite capable of fighting back, at least until shock sets in. A hit in the heart, aorta, or femoral artery, such that the person is likely to die, still affords some time for them to fight back.

          Finally, barring the destroyed CNS or major blood vessel (where they bleed out immediately), my understanding of the state of medicine is that if you survive to get to a hospital in time, you’ll almost certainly make it through.

          All in all, it’s much more difficult to kill someone with a firearm than portrayed on TV.

          • hlynkacg says:

            While what you say is absolutely true I also shared Honcho’s surprise that no one was killed. By all accounts Hodgkinson opened fire on a tightly clustered group of people at a range of less than 30 yards with a semi-automatic rifle*. He had the initiative and almost every mechanical advantage he could hope for. He should have killed at least one of them.

            *I’ve heard conflicting accounts regarding specific make and model (as is typical) but everyone seems to agree on 7.62mm being the caliber.

          • skef says:

            Doesn’t the “tightly clustered” aspect provide better support for hits than kills? There were quite a few of the former.

      • Tekhno says:

        What about trying for lethality and failing?

        It essentially puts you about where punching your target would put you. It comes at the cost of radicalizing the other team, while failing to take out the target. Worse, it demoralizes your own team, because both your moderates and your extremists hate it; the moderates for the attempted act itself, and the extremists for the embarassment of the failure to carry it out.

    • abc says:

      Would you count the current campaign of terror by Muslims in the west, particularly in Europe as small scale or large scale? It’s certainly been effective at getting aspects of sharia imposed on Europe.

      Well, it was made up of individual small scale acts of political violence.

      • Zodiac says:

        It’s certainly been effective at getting aspects of sharia imposed on Europe.

        Wait, really? What and where exactly?
        In Germany we recently passed a bill which banned civil servants from wearing Muslim headscarfs and there’s been a lot of discussion of extending that to all people in public.

        • abc says:

          Try publicly mocking Christianity, try publicly mocking Islam. Note the different reactions you get from law enforcement.

          • John Schilling says:

            Examples?

          • abc says:

            What happened to the guy who left bacon in front of a mosque for starters.

          • Zodiac says:

            Googling I find two UK cases and one case in the US (where the FBI of offering a reward, wth). And the cases I found weren’t about leaving bacon in front of the mosques but placing the bacon on doorknobs and throwing it inside the mosque and in one case shouting racial slurs.
            Are those what you are referring to?

          • Tekhno says:

            @abc
            Or the Brit who quoted Winston Churchill’s thoughts on Islam in a speech.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Vandalism in the medium of pork products is not really what I’d consider “public mockery”. Tekhno’s example is more pertinent, assuming this thing I found on the Google is the correct case.

          • rlms says:

            This atheist was convicting for insulting both Christianity and Islam. I don’t think the result would have been different if he’d only targeted Christians.

          • abc says:

            This atheist was convicting for insulting both Christianity and Islam. I don’t think the result would have been different if he’d only targeted Christians.

            So can you point to examples of people prosecuted who only targeted Christians?

          • Tandagore says:

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/mar/23/austria.arts

            This for example. I’ve read the book, it’s really tame.

          • rlms says:

            @abc
            Here’s one in Germany from 2016. Like the Greek example, it is incredibly mild. Do you have any examples of people being successfully prosecuted for equally unobjectionable offences against Islam?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            can’t speak to the punishment or so forth, but some twitter activity by what appears to be official police accounts is pretty chilling. if user abc wants to make something out of this discussion I would recommend going there – i’d certainly like to know more myself

      • qwints says:

        I was more thinking of attacks outside of a larger campaign. I would include violence such as anti-police violence (Dorner, Johnson, etc.) or anti-conservative violence (Hodgkinson, Corkins) where the attacker clearly shares mainstream beliefs but where the attack is condemned by essentially everyone in the mainstream.

        • abc says:

          Define “condemned”. I’ve seen a lot of “condemnations” of Hodgkinson that amount to “his problem was that he acted alone and not as part of a larger effort”.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            Let’s turn that around: If your social opponents were sincerely condemning Hodgkinson, would you be able to tell?

          • Tekhno says:

            @abc

            “his problem was that he acted alone and not as part of a larger effort”.

            He didn’t coordinate meanness? (sorry Scott)

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Is anybody listening to the mainstream, anymore? Trump didn’t get to where he is by mainstream media, and yes, of course the talking heads and established political left have to decry all violence (when not urging people to “fight in the streets” or holding up faux bloody severed heads of their political opponents), but where activists are actually having their conversations, on twitter, on reddit, on FaceBook, lots of people were…less condemnatory. What does it matter if Rachel Maddow says this is awful, but the kinds of people who might do this again are on reddit reading about how the Republicans have to expect this sort of response because they’re so evil?

          Does the mainstream matter?

    • Christopher Hazell says:

      Okay, well, it really, really depends on how you define “small scale political violence” and what you imagine the perpetrator’s cause to be.

      Here in Portland, there was an incident recently on the light rail where a man started yelling anti-muslim slurs at two women, and, when several passengers confronted him, he pulled out a knife and slashed their throats. Two of the men died.

      CNN quotes him as saying, after the police caught him, “”Think I stab (expletives) in the neck for fun? Oh yeah, you’re right I do. I’m a patriot.” and “That’s what liberalism gets you,” and in court he ranted about freedom of speech.

      All of the language is expressly political, right? But the guy sounds exactly like I expected him to after I heard that somebody had been stabbed on the train. Thankfully, I haven’t yet witnessed a murder, but I have seen various people throw these omni-directional tantrums, shouting slurs and expletives at anybody around them.

      Here’s my take, from being on the receiving end of a few of them: I don’t think the people throwing them are really differentiating between the people around them. In some cases people are literally screaming at walls, but even when they manage to alight on people, I don’t think they see us as individuals. It’s a holistic attitude: Everybody on the max, or in the public park, or the sidewalk, is just an arm or an extension of the world that has wronged them. We’re all collectively guilty, so we’re all valid targets.

      I guess I just needed to put that out there, but I think, in many cases of violence where the perpetrator claims a political justification, the idea of actually advancing any strategic or tactical goals, or, in fact, the idea of advancing any kind of material goals at all is the furthest thing from their minds.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think there is an important distinction between terrorism and milder forms of political violence. A bunch of idiots having a riot so Charles Murray couldn’t speak at Middlebury was an ordeal for Murray and Stanger (and an embarrassment for the school), but not much like a terrorist attack.

        • Matt M says:

          Howso? To the extent that we define terrorism as “the use of violence to achieve political ends” it would seem to me that Murray/Milo related riots are EXACTLY that!

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          @Matt M

          If that’s the definition of terrorism, all war is terrorism, so I think that’s an overbroad definition.

          There’s no universally agreed-upon standard, but here’s the general form I’ve always found most convincing:

          Terrorism is

          1) the use of violence
          2) against non-military targets (whether people or places/structures)
          3) with the aim of maximizing fear, shock, suffering, or other negative emotions in the target population
          4) in order to coerce that target population to take or to cease a specific political course of action.

          All war and military operations share 1 and 4. Some actions by militaries, to include the US military, have met all 4 points and should be considered acts of terrorism by a contemporary audience. Not all actions by insurgents or avowed terrorist groups meet all 4 points and should NOT be considered terrorism in the technical sense (though they may well constitute perfidy or other violations of the laws of war).

          • Matt M says:

            And I feel like the Murray/Milo protests meet all of those criteria, with the exception of the word “maximizing” in point 3.

            They certainly used violence against non-military targets to create fear and shock for the purposes of coercing a target population to cease a course of action they deemed to be political.

          • albatross11 says:

            Protests that devolve into riots, where maybe a couple people go to the hospital and some property is damaged, aren’t actually all that great at spreading terror. Even Murray, the target of the riots, has continued giving speeches. (Other, better-run colleges have managed to host these without incident.) Lumping them together with politically motivated assassinations and terrorist attacks seems like it loses a lot of important detail–like using “WMD” to mean everything from nukes on ballistic missiles to mustard gas.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, and following 9/11, millions of people continued to work in office buildings in Manhattan, and other, better-run airlines offered flights that didn’t crash into buildings. What’s your point?

          • John Schilling says:

            Protests that devolve into riots, where maybe a couple people go to the hospital and some property is damaged, aren’t actually all that great at spreading terror

            Good enough at spreading terror among e.g. university administrators, which may be a winning strategy.

          • albatross11 says:

            I agree that no-platforming and especially rioting to shut down speakers you dislike is a very bad thing, and we ought to discourage it. I’m just saying it feels like it fits in a very different category than blowing up a car bomb in a crowded market, or even shooting an abortion doctor with a sniper rifle.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @albatross11

            Protests that devolve into riots, where maybe a couple people go to the hospital and some property is damaged, aren’t actually all that great at spreading terror.

            There’s the chilling effect, though. I am a right winger and I’m far less likely to attend any sort of right wing political event or speech because it’s not worth of the possibility of getting attacked. I’ll watch on YouTube instead.

          • albatross11 says:

            There are a very small subset of political rallies I’d worry about. Though I would worry about going to a talk by Charles Murray, and I think he’d be interesting to listen to. (For what it’s worth, I’ve read several of his books and consider him one of the more important thinkers on social issues right now.).

    • Salem says:

      What counts as small scale? Pinochet is thought to have killed around 3000 people in a nation of over 10 million; that benefited his cause a great deal.

  5. Tracy W says:

    I have started on ADHD medication (thanks to those who advised), and want to give a speech about Better Living Through Chemistry, but a doctor advised me to keep it secret because of risks of medication theft. Any advice?

    • James Miller says:

      These medications are common enough so that their blackmarket prices are probably not high enough to justify such worries. I described my taking Adderall in a book I authored.

    • bean says:

      My use of ADD medication recently became eligible to vote, and I haven’t had any problems in all that time. When I was in college, I had a small safe I kept it in (the kind sold for keeping your wallet in while playing sports or such), enough to deter casual theft. Now, I live on my own, and I keep it in a drawer. When I was still living with my parents, the meds lived in a basket, which I think went into the cabinet when we had company. Never had a problem with that, either. I’d strongly urge you to speak (maybe somebody else will benefit), and just make sure they’re not really easy to steal.

    • Eric Rall says:

      I’ve been using ADHD meds on-and-off for something like 20 years (Modafinil for most of the past year, and Adderall or Ritalin previously), and I’ve never had a problem with theft. The only precautions I’ve taken have been to avoid leaving the prescription bottle or pharmacy bags unattended in plain public view.

      I suspect doctors are trained to pushed patients to take precautions against theft of abusable medications, partly because some meds (particularly the higher grades of opioids/opiates) are genuinely a theft risk, and partly because falsely claiming your meds were stolen is apparently a common enough drug-seeking tactic that many doctors are inclined guard against it by refusing to write a new prescription to replace stolen meds unless the patient has filed a police report.

    • Drew says:

      I don’t worry about it. My car, computers, guitar or TV would all net a burglar more money than a month of ADHD medication.

      I keep a weekly pill organizer in my bag. But that’s mostly so I don’t have to carry around multiple bottles of vitamins. If someone stole that, I suppose I’d be mildly inconvenienced?

      • baconbacon says:

        I don’t worry about it. My car, computers, guitar or TV would all net a burglar more money than a month of ADHD medication.

        I don’t think medication theft is a big deal, but your car/computers/TV are all much harder to steal with a much higher likelihood of getting caught.

  6. Wrong Species says:

    What would life be like if it was like The Sims? In the game, you control your little character in every way. If you leave him alone he’ll go on autopilot, but once you give him commands, he’ll almost always carry them out. The exceptions are something like him starving or needing to use the bathroom, in which case everything gets cancelled and they become a priority. Other than it’s pretty easy to play with your character. You don’t worry about him wasting his time watching tv or getting in to trouble because he does what you tell him.

    So imagine that life was like that. Instead of procrastinating, it would be easy to do the work you need to do. Instead of binge watching Netflix, you read a book. Of course, you don’t have to be doing something productive 100% of the time but if you wanted to, it would be trivially easy to override the part of your brain that doesn’t want to. What would that world look like? It sounds pretty good, is there any way it could be worse?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, the fact that the controller and the controlled are separate entities – and the controller may not have your best interests at mind – might lead to some less than perfect outcomes.

      • Wrong Species says:

        In this scenario, you’re still the same person. I’m not setting up a scenario where you can kill your “character” and go back to some other world. If your body dies, you die. It’s more like the mind is not as beholden to your base instincts.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ah, so sort of as if the venerable Ghost in the Machine psychological dogma were true?

        • Murphy says:

          So what you really want is to be able to switch off the desire to go fuck around when you feel you should be working?

          I kinda wish there was a way to switch off and have my body run through a half-hour to an hour of exercise while I sleep or something. Because it’s not the effort that bothers me so much as the boredom.

          • Randy M says:

            Podcasts are the best approximation to that I’ve found, although sensory data does still attempt to intrude.

    • Matt M says:

      I’m not sure you’re modeling the Sims correctly. More “trivial” needs like Entertainment and Social Interaction still exist, so to a certain extent, you do HAVE to include “Netflix time” for your character. And if I remember right, the character creation system is such that everyone has different needs, or needs they value more than others. So you can create an anti-social character who rarely needs human interaction and can get all they need from a couple hours of online gaming… or you can create someone who doesn’t give a lick about productive tasks and will only be happy interacting with their neighbors, in person, all day long.

      • Murphy says:

        After reading about someone who created a “painting goblin” I tried out a similar strategy using a family with 1 adult and 4 children. The children were walled into a basement with 4 compartments and no stairs. They each had the basic necessities and painting equipment. They also got personality traits that allowed them to remain sane in the basement.

        They paint constantly, quickly become very skilled and you make a fortune from the paintings and can upgrade everything to top tiers. They can also be kept happy by putting the best masterworks on their own walls.

        Interestingly they were way way more successful than any of my previous families in pretty much all ways, the kids were all happy almost all the time with massive numbers of life achievements.

        The adult used the free money to do whatever she wanted which included chemistry and the money supply funded her creating of youth potions to keep herself young.

        I then had her buy lots of things which yield easy money and saved up a lot until I could let the kids out of the basement.

        So now they all get to say young eternally in a lavish mansion filled with their own masterworks.

    • Acedia says:

      It sounds pretty good, is there any way it could be worse?

      People might use their newfound abilities to pursue evil goals. Productivity and hard work are only good if what’s being produced/worked for is good. Isaac Newton and Norman Borlaug were conscientious workers, but so were Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wonder how many potential evildoers were stymied by the simple fact that they couldn’t be arsed to actually go out and do the evil.

        • Murphy says:

          Don’t forget the ones who had the willpower but were too thick to pull it off. I’m thinking of people like the shoe bomber here.

        • MrApophenia says:

          Remember the character Clem from Buffy, the affable, low-key demon they hung out with for a while? I remember one of the writers mentioned online at one point that Clem actually was evil, in theory.

          It’s just that he liked hanging out and eating snack food (and not getting killed by Buffy) much more than he actually cared about inflicting evil, so he took the path of least resistance. The idea being that for a lot of demons, “Slaying the innocent and destroying the world” is around the same level on the priority list as “Feeding the poor and ending world suffering” is for most humans.

    • Lasagna says:

      The limited available commands – and the occasional cat burglar coming in to steal your refrigerator – might not work out as well as you might hope.

      Something Awful tried this experience with each of The Sims. Here are my two favorite articles on the results: http://www.somethingawful.com/feature-articles/week-life-ithe/1/ (Sims 1), and http://www.somethingawful.com/feature-articles/week-life-ithe-2/1/ (Sims 2). They’re hilarious.

    • RedVillian says:

      This is basically the mental construct I have to use to get anything done. So for me: no. I don’t see many ways it could be worse, but since that was the question (instead of: “Let’s enthuse about how awesome this would be”), I’ll give it a try:

      I can only imagine that the risk would be similar to pain insensitivity. On the face of it: awesome–no pain! On its actual implementation, it can lead the pain-insensitive person to do unwitting harm to themselves. Perhaps operating in such a mode, the focus-insensitive person would be able to so focus on a desired task as to unwittingly let other things slip. I know that this happens in “The Sims” from time to time. I’ll be so focused on a Sim’s particular goal that I let under-represented (in the UI) concerns slide. For instance, I will be 3 days into binge-writing a book only allowing the requisite breaks to refill the meters, that I will be surprised when a batch of friends alert me that we are no longer friends, because I’ve been inadvertently ignoring them.

      • Wrong Species says:

        That’s a good point. I can imagine a society where people try so hard to have accomplishments that they end up with no friends to impress.

  7. John Nerst says:

    I thought people might like to know what this comment section tends to talk about. I mean – we pretty much already know but I thought it’d be nice to have some numbers.

    I do a bit of text mining in my job so it was fairly quick to whip something up. I scraped all ssc comments (there are about 343,000 of them, turns out), compared the word counts to an English corpus and then calculated each word’s statistical overrepresentation using a method based on the one outlined here.

    I then ranked them by significance. Below are the top 100 words, another 500 are available on this pastebin.

    Key: word, then “burst value” (the exponent of something similar to a p-value), and the total frequency.

    (Sorry I couldn’t make it look prettier.)

    ————————————————

    trump -81478.36 17990
    argument -56316.02 19694
    mean -37413.50 23523
    wrong -36679.03 20620
    moral -36260.09 10500
    agree -30571.30 15754
    scott -23600.73 13409
    arguments -23247.78 8529
    right-wing -22862.00 2245
    theory -22293.95 10697
    guess -21380.51 9381
    left-wing -20603.80 2042
    ssc -19789.77 4194
    long-term -19685.51 1959
    whatever -19331.81 11089
    humans -18658.22 8650
    libertarian -18210.08 4346
    disagree -18102.60 5794
    obviously -17960.72 9379
    rationalist -17465.59 2287
    evil -17420.19 6561
    obvious -16986.63 9278
    weird -16045.57 5383
    myself -15402.36 7473
    utilitarianism -15229.51 1888
    jews -15106.06 4079
    god -15100.77 8987
    sex -14645.81 9727
    thread -14322.23 5393
    sjws -14292.01 1464
    guy -14257.41 7953
    morality -14030.34 3302
    correct -14002.32 8210
    stupid -13712.49 4911
    deiseach -13702.18 1409
    racist -13635.74 4147
    rational -13426.87 4816
    religion -13362.40 5259
    libertarians -12942.95 2882
    hillary -12489.88 3819
    rationalists -12401.60 1287
    gender -12266.68 5946
    exist -11961.66 7157
    outgroup -11766.15 1227
    racism -11755.04 3407
    assume -11565.37 6962
    onyomi -11512.79 1203
    feminists -11361.23 2983
    sounds -11357.37 6543
    liberal -11251.00 5977
    politics -11040.28 7279
    rationality -10501.54 2239
    religious -10420.92 5246
    literally -10294.66 5126
    gay -10285.37 5569
    assuming -10249.53 5220
    christianity -10007.34 2616
    communism -9956.58 2415
    slavery -9886.65 2703
    feminism -9843.30 2823
    beliefs -9793.47 5384
    argue -9764.08 6018
    feminist -9665.52 2677
    explanation -9661.80 4684
    terrible -9661.76 4275
    nobody -9584.58 5392
    heelbearcub -9535.09 1014
    morally -9505.71 2385
    reasoning -9493.99 3305
    fairly -9397.24 6141
    hypothesis -9317.60 3206
    bias -9165.31 4456
    shit -9143.98 2416
    moloch -9113.93 974
    ideology -9073.84 2813
    clinton -8879.26 4444
    alt-right -8794.02 943
    sjw -8789.40 1636
    bunch -8722.58 4519
    liberals -8619.46 3056
    hate -8454.84 4750
    explicitly -8430.47 3397
    edit -8396.76 4213
    personally -8124.45 4748
    arguing -8072.79 4305
    totally -7961.54 4901
    moldbug -7860.93 852
    guns -7683.95 3957
    probability -7671.15 4624
    math -7647.82 4234
    truth -7572.44 4999
    hell -7514.83 4227
    impression -7472.23 3809
    opposite -7354.36 4323
    welfare -7257.57 4148
    hitler -7239.74 2054
    iirc -7233.47 1226
    leftists -7154.07 1566
    random -7085.99 4277
    existence -7042.38 3925

    ————————————————

    It surprised me a little that “trump” is on top, but I suppose it’s because the corpus hasn’t been updated since the word became a lot more common in general. Otherwise the list looks pretty much as I expected. Thoughts?

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, Daisy is sure popular.

    • Luke Perrin says:

      “Terrible” seems to me to be something that Scott in particular says a lot. So it’s interesting that it’s also common in the comments even though he doesn’t comment so much.

    • Zodiac says:

      moldbug

      Wait, what? That’s the first time I read that word here (I think).
      Is that an ex-user or another obscure euphemism of the past?

    • Deiseach says:

      deiseach -13702.18 1409

      *looking for a hole to hide in*

      This is definitely the sign of someone who doesn’t know when to shut the hell up 🙂

      • Matt M says:

        jews
        god
        sex
        thread
        sjws
        guy
        morality
        correct
        stupid
        deiseach

        ah the company you keep

      • baconbacon says:

        stupid -13712.49 4911
        deiseach -13702.18 1409
        racist -13635.74 4147

        Good thing correlation doesn’t equal causation.

        • Deiseach says:

          Now I have to go looking for secret bible codes in the SSC wordcloud? People, come on!

          Isn’t this what automation is supposed to do for us? 😀

          This also gives us agree scott arguments, obviously rationalist evil, assumption onyomi feminists, nobody heelbearcub morally, and assuming aapje nornagest

    • bean says:

      “Battleships” is only 536. We must do better, my minions readers!

      On a technical note, I’m surprised that a lot of the usernames don’t rate higher. Do you know why this is?

      • Wrong Species says:

        Most people don’t refer to others usernames until the subthread goes deep enough. At that point “SJW” has been said three times.

        • bean says:

          Yes, but my understanding is that the frequencies are based on the difference between our use of the word and the frequency in general use. Some of the usernames shouldn’t appear in general use at all.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Plausible, but what constitutes “general use”? I see “SJW” in the comments sections on a few blogs I read, but never in books, magazines, or newspapers.

          • bean says:

            I’m not sure what it’s comparing to. In this day and age, ‘General Use’ might come from Google N-Grams or something of that nature, which is processing enough data to get a representative sample of everything.

          • John Nerst says:

            I’m not sure where the corpus comes from, tbh, it’s a standard one I use at work.

            Don’t read too much into the usernames, the method uses a workaround when the word isn’t found in the corpus – it would normally have an undefined significance level.

            Maybe a word cloud would be more interesting, give me a sec…

          • John Nerst says:

            Back again! Here is a wordcloud with the 1000 most overrepresented words, grouped into lumps based on occuring in the same contexts. I think it’s kinda neat, even if I wouldn’t overinterpret it – the semantic network I made it from was very messy. But the dense clusters are legit.

          • Nornagest says:

            I like how you’ve got a little cluster of swear words and then the word “pretend”.

          • Zodiac says:

            Heh, so now we have Deiseach clustered with idiots, jerks, self serving, stupidity and progressives. And all very close to Trump. I think you need to start worrying, Deiseach.

            That aside I kinda like how under the big long-term and short-term is a tiny yay begging for attention.

          • albatross11 says:

            My impression is that SJW is not a whole lot more clear a description than All Trite. SJW might mean masked antifas busting heads at a political rally, or a clickbait article about how white women wearing cornrows is problematic, or someone who marches for LGBT rights. The fuzziness of the definition is part of the fun, since you can lump all three groups together and demand that the clickbait-writer answer for the head-bashing antifas.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “no-one” is off by itself.

    • Randy M says:

      I think mean is confounded by the fact that it’s a mathematical term, moral descriptor, and has a meaning of… um, meaning as well.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Ah, then, what’s the median use of mean?

      • MoebiusStreet says:

        There are multiple examples of such things. I was noticing that this is case insensitive, so “liberal” and “Liberal” get counted the same. But in my mind, at least, they’re rather different, with the capitalized variety being closer to modern Democrat ideas, and lowercase being more like enlightenment ideas (and, as I’m given to understand, still the common definition in Europe).

    • pdbarnlsey says:

      Is “onyomi” a poster? Otherwise this feels like an unusual focus on the minutiae of written Japanese.

  8. MrBubu says:

    How do people around here manage your “knowledge”, i.e. stuff you read (papers, blogs, (e)books), statistics you might want to reference in the future, your thoughts about said stuff, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      stuff you read (papers, blogs, (e)books)

      Used to have a text file, a HTML file, etc. Now I just use GoodReads.

      statistics you might want to reference in the future

      I have a Dropbox folder called “hate facts repo”.

      your thoughts about said stuff

      IRC logs? I’m not a fan of consistency with myself.

    • ckrf says:

      I’ve tried to start using Anki more systematically for discrete facts I learn, but I have not been able to consistently sit down and write Anki notes for things I’ve come across in the last [time period]. One obstacle is that I am I am inefficient at writing notes and any time I spend an hour at it I am disgusted with my low output.

      To piggyback on MrBubu, I’m curious if others use spaced-repetition and have found ways to be more efficient or otherwise get over the hurdle?

    • Anon. says:

      I use a desktop wiki application called ConnectedText. But I’m probably going to migrate to a web-based wiki at some point…the benefits of the desktop app are not enough to outweigh the lack of cross-platform ability. Hosting your own private instance of mediawiki is really simple if you have some basic computer literacy.

    • Deiseach says:

      Combination of bookmarking “aha! definitely want to remember this site!” on the computer and “I’m nearly sure I vaguely remember reading something along the lines somewhere” then desperate Googling when I need to find the source to back up a point I’m trying to make.

    • MoebiusStreet says:

      I used to use Evernote for this, but since they changed their rules for free usage so that I couldn’t run it on all my devices without paying, I’ve moved it to OneNote (which I find doesn’t work as well).

    • Lasagna says:

      I just keep a text file on my email account, listing interesting articles in one note, specific quotes in another. I’m not sure it’s a great method, but it’s about as good as I can do with my limited technological literacy.

    • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

      Folder structure, for stuff with a sequence with numbered subfolders (iterated if necessary).
      A loooot of bookmark files lying around.
      And stuff of a single topic or theme or project that has many files and needs good searchability (e.g. huge texts or manuals broken into single pages or chapters) goes into a Devonthink Pro Office database (Mac only, but with any cheap old mac as server to run on it can be used from any web-capable OS).

    • US says:

      I have a blog (link at my name), and I use it almost exclusively for knowledge management purposes. It has evolved over time as content has been added, as any such blog probably should, and it is much more ‘mature’ now than it was when I started out. If you want an example of what you might end up with if you decide to use a blog as a knowledge management tool and then stick to it for half a decade or more, my blog is probably a good illustration/example of where you might end up (I’ve blogged for a decade but I did not emphasize knowledge management particularly during the first years, so those years are irrelevant in this context).

      Aside from the blog I also use a goodreads account to keep track of the books I read. In the past my quote collection was limited to my blog, but recently I also exported a substantial proportion of my somewhat large (1500+ quotes) quote collection to goodreads.

      Bookmarks are used for the short term; I bookmark stuff (e.g. lectures, quotes, studies…) I might decide to blog later on.

      I don’t find my own thoughts on various topics particularly interesting and I try, though occasionally unsuccessfully, to avoid sharing them on my blog except to the extent that they quite directly relate to the content (books, lectures) I cover.

      I would note that although my blog is public and people can read it if they know the url, if you’d prefer a system where other people can not read along that is also very easy (just as easy) to set up.

    • Reasoner says:

      Whenever I learn something, figure out when it would be useful, then add it to the appropriate page in my wiki.

  9. johan_larson says:

    Why don’t fighter pilots spend much of their time playing video games?

    Military pilots assigned to combat aircraft don’t get a lot of stick time, because operating modern combat aircraft is very expensive. In well-funded militaries, they typically get single-digit hours per month, which seems more like a hobby than a profession. Even good simulators are too expensive to use routinely.

    But do the simulations actually have to be really good to be useful? There is an entire segment of the video game industry devoted to flight simulators. You’d think the military could take the best of them, tune them for realism rather than fun, spend some money on semi-realistic flight controls, and for maybe $20K each have PC-based simulators that are close enough to be useful. And at that price, you could get one for every pilot and have them spend virtually all their time practicing on it.

    But for some reason this isn’t done. What am I missing?

    • phil says:

      What’s your basis for believing that’s not done?

      Googling ‘military training video games’ and ‘pilot training video games’ bring back lots of interesting hits

      My personal experience playing football suggests an underrated amount of ad hoc training happens through video games

      The ex military guys I know also seem to play a ton of video games

      • johan_larson says:

        What’s your basis for believing that’s not done?

        If it were done, I would expect the companies producing the games to advertise the fact prominently. Imagine being able to advertise your game as so realistic, it’s used by the USAF. It would be pure crack for armchair fighter jocks. But I haven’t heard of anything like that.

        • Zodiac says:

          Might be that they are afraid of a negative spin on it.
          In my home country every now and then the newspapers pick on video games and the whole “killing simulator for soldiers”-thing comes up sometimes.

        • Eric Rall says:

          I suspect there’s a fair amount of resistance on the military side.

          While I was in grad school, I bid on several small-business military contracts (SBIR and STTR) to try to develop my thesis (applying AI search and optimization techniques to missile guidance and spaceship navigation) into a software business. These types of contracts required the technology developed under the contract to be commercializable, and my commercialization strategy was video games (using a modified version of the guidance algorithms for game AI in a realistic spaceship dogfighting game).

          Each project had proposals judged by a group of 2-5 people within the military, each of whom rated the project independently. I saw a pretty consistent pattern where most of the reviewers liked my proposals, but at least one of the reviewers on each project saw the video game connection as an indication I wasn’t taking the subject seriously, and that was enough to drop my average score below the threshold for funding.

        • beleester says:

          Being super-realistic isn’t always a selling point, since games often compromise realism in the name of fun. Call of Duty sells a lot more units than Arma.

          While the USAF hasn’t done so, the US Army has released a couple games. They’ve done alright; I’ve played America’s Army and thought it was a pretty good military shooter, and VBS1/2 are built on the ArmA engine. But they’re definitely niche rather than mass-market things.

        • Lapsed Pacifist says:

          You would expect them to advertise the fact, supposing that the USAF, a branch of the US FedGov, wanted to cooperate in such an advertising scheme. I think that as much as it would benefit the game publisher, it might not be in the interest of a professional fighting force to be seen that way. The US military does use several very accurate (and very expensive, if not exclusive) simulators that run on a PC and are functionally video games, not elaborate and totally immersive training simulation machines.

          The US Army has a tank ‘game’ which I’ve seen footage of, but there are no game elements per se (it’s kind of a sandbox/tool box software, with the ability to have a ‘OpFor Commander’ inject pre-programmed scenarios and such in real time) and it’s so realistic as to be boring and unusable to a lay person, as well as classified IIRC (it accurately shows the interior and controls of different weapons systems).

    • Aapje says:

      @johan_larson

      Even good simulators are too expensive to use routinely.

      I think that the real issue is that air forces don’t actually want to optimize for maximally capable pilots. If you are an Air Force general, what value does it bring to you personally? Maximally capable pilots are not going to perform noticeably better for the kind of missions being flown today. So you will just be seen as the general who needs much more money to do the same thing slightly better (see the bottom of this comment).

      But do the simulations actually have to be really good to be useful?

      Probably, because they want the pilots to actually do the right thing in stress situations, not go looking for the F1-key, when the actual aircraft is not using a keyboard. You don’t want the simulator to have a feature that is not in the airplane or one that is in the plane, but not the simulator. As planes get upgrades, there are many variants of the same plane and the simulator has to match that.

      A combat plane gives important feedback physically, not just through instruments. So if you just use a static simulator, it will feel very different for the pilot.

      The F35 simulator will use the same software as the plane, which also means the same bugs & that you even get to debug the plane by using the simulator.

      You’d think the military could take the best of them, tune them for realism rather than fun, spend some money on semi-realistic flight controls, and for maybe $20K each have PC-based simulators that are close enough to be useful

      I’ve seen this fallacy before: What if we take something cheap and then add all the stuff that makes it actually expensive? It would still be pretty cheap, right? Hmmm…no.

      And at that price, you could get one for every pilot and have them spend virtually all their time practicing on it.

      No, because of Queep. Pilots spend a lot of time doing non-pilot tasks, because:
      – A lot of time is spent on planning and debriefing, probably for good reasons.
      – Once pilots are above a certain level of competence, the rest of their time can then be used to make supporting personnel obsolete, to make lattes for their boss, etc.

      • bean says:

        Probably, because they want the pilots to actually do the right thing in stress situations, not go looking for the F1-key, when the actual aircraft is not using a keyboard. You don’t want the simulator to have a feature that is not in the airplane or one that is in the plane, but not the simulator. As planes get upgrades, there are many variants of the same plane and the simulator has to match that.

        This is really important. What skills are you learning in a PC-based cheap simulator? The onboard systems don’t work the same way (the operations manual for a certain common narrowbody airliner runs 1800 pages, and it has no EW system and a very simple radar), you’re using a keyboard instead of the real control layout, and you can’t turn your head to look around. There might be some value in early training as a means of teaching tactics, but once you’re operational, the most important thing is to make sure that when you need to turn on the jammers, you turn them on in the right mode immediately, instead of trying to find the J key on your keyboard. Training on tactics can take place at the same time you’re training for systems proficiency, and the amount of time involved is close enough that you don’t need to take the risk of mistraining to get more tactics.

        • beleester says:

          I feel like teaching flight procedures would be possible. For instance, this is how you start up an A-10 Warthog in DCS World. I feel like even if the sim doesn’t build the muscle memory for the controls, it’ll at least teach you which switches to flip and when.

          (DCS World, admittedly, is not a “cheap” simulator. There’s a reason they sell each individual plane for the price of a full game.)

          • bean says:

            That is training you build with a checklist in a classroom. That’s even cheaper than DCS World.
            There may be some room for computer-aided systems operation training, but computer-aided systems operation training is very much not the same thing as a video game.

        • bintchaos says:

          Bean is correct.
          The flight simulator/trainers I have seen are are terrifically expensive. You have essentially a closed pressurized simulated cockpit mounted on hydraulics and gimbals and gyros, an exact physical rep of the instrumentation panels, and an (also exact) out-of-the-window-view and heads up display for whatever plane you are training on.
          Pilot need to develop muscle memory for stalls, spins, banks etc for whatever specific fighter they are training on.

          • bean says:

            Pressurization? I hadn’t heard of that one, and a search (I have good aerospace library access through work) turns up no mentions of pressurizing the actual simulator. There was some comments on pressurizing things like G-suits to simulate the problems those can cause, though.
            I did find some interesting stuff involving the use of G-suits and ‘motion chairs’ which attempt to simulate motion without actually moving the simulator.
            Also, I thought that most military simulator work was systems-oriented, not acrobatics. But I’m mostly a naval guy, at least on the military side.

          • bintchaos says:

            As VR takes hold in commercial markets V-suits will be able to able to provide a lot of the same functionality. Again, I can talk about my personal experience only, and it may be a couple of years out of date.
            A huge amount of military tech flows into the commercial markets and gets massively cheaper, really quickly.
            This is going to happen with VR.
            Its a very symbiotic relationship.

          • Aapje says:

            I’m pretty sure that only g-suits are commonly pressurized in simulators (pilots wear a suit with pneumatic bladders that prevents the blood from pooling on on side of the body during high g maneuvers).

    • Nornagest says:

      I can’t speak for every combat pilot or even most of them, but I have a relative who’s one, and several years ago when I lived closer to him he played a ton of Microsoft Flight Simulator. (He probably plays less now, because kids. But I’ve seen him maybe twice in the last year, so I don’t really know.)

      He said it was actually harder than flying a real plane, because he didn’t get the same kind of seat-of-the-pants feedback.

    • Montfort says:

      You’d think the military could take the best of them, tune them for realism rather than fun, spend some money on semi-realistic flight controls, and for maybe $20K each have PC-based simulators that are close enough to be useful.

      This product category exists, they’re called “flight training devices” or FTDs (because to be a “simulator” you need full motion, according to the FAA). There’s a few lesser categories, too, separated mostly by how accurate their controls and instruments are. These are used in commercial flight schools, usually to substitute as many actual flight hours as possible so as to reduce costs.

      Similarly, Lockheed bought the rights to adapt the commercial version of FSX (ESP, I think), and they produce their own software called “Prepar3D,” which I think mostly hits the same sort of market – some FTD manufacturers, flight schools, hobbyists, etc. (The license says it can’t be sold for “personal entertainment”, presumably as part of their own license from Microsoft, but I think that’s mostly ignored).

      I know that doesn’t really answer your question, but your suggestions aren’t totally off-base, it just seems they fit more in the cost-saving commercial market.

  10. Bo102010 says:

    I Twittered this at Scott and posted it on the Subreddit, but I’d be interested in feedback here too.

    I wrote an article about an initiative in the U.S. to give hospitals a quality rating. This is a laudable goal, but the agency in charge (CMS) seems to have made some bad mistakes in executing it.

    For example, the model they use is quite opaque, and there are multiple programming issues in implementing it.

    As someone in the Subreddit pointed out, this may be a glimpse into a bad future where buggy computer programs issue inscrutable grades that no one understands, but people have to accept them.

    • tgb says:

      Good analysis. This all reminds me of some conversations I had with a kidney transplant surgeon. I had assumed that you would try to go to the best hospital possible, but she said no, “healthcare tourism” is discouraged. If you go get the fancy procedure done two states away at the Mayo Clinic and then there’s a complication months later, the people at your local hospital won’t know what to do about it since they don’t even know what the procedure you had really was. And then, of course, it’s hard to even know which hospitals really are going to give you better treatment. As a nerd, it’s always sobering to hear anything pointing out that even with pretty comprehensive data, it’s ill-advised to make a real cost-benefit analysis.

    • nadbor says:

      At least if the metric is inscrutable it makes it harder to overfit to it. Tim Harford in ‘Messy’ writes about UK hospitals gaming the system to get good grades while throwing patients under the bus. He advocates randomising the metric from year to year and keeping it secret. Everyone has a broad idea of what it means to be a good hospital and having a static set of measures is just inviting trouble – Goodheart style. He compares this to school exams where the general topic is known in advance but the specific questions are not.

      • Bo102010 says:

        Interesting – I haven’t read ‘Messy’ yet, but I really enjoyed ‘The Undercover Economist’ and especially ‘The Logic of Life.’

        I think it could be good to keep a grading scale close to the vest, but at least it should be directionally consistent! In the system I describe some hospitals would have their ratings improved by doing worse on some measures.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      How to design a grading scale? It would be cool to train some model to predict future success or failure of medical operations.

      (Incidentally, I was assigning grades in a class on a totally clear-cut quantitative subject last week, and I wish I had a better idea of what makes a good grading system…)

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      this may be a glimpse into a bad future where buggy computer programs issue inscrutable grades that no one understands, but people have to accept them.

      So Brazil, but automated, so the bureaucracy can be even more complicated and pile crap on you ten times as fast.

      Wonder if Terry Gilliam is up for making a sequel, in which Tuttle is uploaded a la Tron….

  11. daiquiri says:

    Of interest to me this week was a story about climate and the environment affecting politics. Every 48 or so years, the bamboo plant flowers en masse in parts of India, Myanmar and China. This results in loads (millions) of rats running amok and causing mass famine, known as the Mautam. In 1958, there was a Mautam in the Indian state of Mizoram, which led to death and disease. It also led to the creation of an indigenous group predicated on relief, which later morphed into a full fledged political party and led an armed rebellion against India for 30? 40? years. Incredible.

  12. Matt M says:

    I’d like to discuss our conceptual model of racism in America. This is somewhat inspired by conversation in the most recent Links thread, but also something that’s been on my mind for a bit.

    Typically, we seem to model racism as “extreme xenophobia,” such that we assume people hate others primarily for being different, and make up various reasons to validate their hatred. Under this model, hatred should directly correspond with how different someone looks, acts, behaves, etc.

    And while that may have been true in America for a long time, I’m not so certain it is anymore. Consider the common exchange that goes something like this.

    Blue: Racism in America is a huge problem! Look how much poorer blacks are than whites!
    Red: Oh really? If blacks are poor due to racism, then why are recent African immigrants from Nigeria on par with whites in income? If we were racist, you’d expect them to have the toughest time of anyone!

    I want to emphasize the italicized portion, because that’s what I’m disputing. My theory is that modern racism in America is based not primarily on “he looks different” but rather it is a very specific disdain for stereotypes commonly associated with American black culture, which is different from African culture. Therefore, an American racist encounters a recent immigrant from Africa… someone with an odd-sounding African name perhaps, and who speaks with a French or English accent, someone who is (likely) working or studying, this person stands apart. They are clearly not a member of American black culture, which is the thing that is hated more than “dark skin” is. Even if you’re a strong believer in *thing that shall not be mentioned*, you likely must concede (as the blue person would likely point out!) that immigration to America self-selects the “best of the best” among Nigerians, and that the ones who make it here are likely smarter, more hardworking, more law-abiding, than average.

    If my theory is true, light-skinned American blacks could be facing large amounts of oppression, even while dark-skinned recent immigrants do very well.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is just a theoretical consideration, right? Without assertion that any amount of oppression actually exists?

    • albatross11 says:

      What predictions does this model give us that don’t also fall out of selective migration or better culture for the immigrant blacks?

      Here’s one: Consider second generation African and Carribean immigrants. Your model suggests thst the ones who came here young enough to pick up an American accent (black or generic American) will do *worse* than the kids who came here late enough to retain their accent. The ones with the foreign accent will continue being mentally slotted into the immigrant black category and benefit from ot.

      • Matt M says:

        Basically yes. Although accent is just ONE example of things that may signal “I am an immigrant, not an ‘African-American'”

      • albatross11 says:

        Another prediction: the effect youre describing will work for high achieving immigrants (say a Nigerian coming to the US for his PhD) and for more normal immigrants (say, refugees or people admitted on a family visa). If you could figure out how to look at those groups’ outcomes separately, you might learn something. Though this will be confunded by the difference in abilities–we expect the guy smart enough to get a PhD to do better in life whether or not he’s on the receiving end of a lot of discrimination.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Another prediction might be that signals from African Americans of *not* being part of the dysfunctional culture get ignored.

      • JulieK says:

        What predictions does this model give us that don’t also fall out of selective migration or better culture for the immigrant blacks?

        Here’s one: Consider second generation African and Carribean immigrants. Your model suggests that the ones who came here young enough to pick up an American accent (black or generic American) will do *worse* than the kids who came here late enough to retain their accent.

        That wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the main factor is “better culture for the immigrant blacks,” with immigrants who arrive younger picking up the American culture.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds to me like how this type of hatred actually works is not based strictly on the amount of differences, but largely on proximity, relevance, bad blood and whatnot. Consider that during the Reformation Wars, local heretics were given greater priority for extermination than the Saracens, threatening though they were as well. I mean, France allied with the Ottomans at one point, against fellow Christians!

      Sometimes, the differences between the groups are astoundingly small, but do not diminish the hatred both feel towards each other. Under the circumstances you give, American blacks would be the familiar enemy, and recent immigrants from Africa would – while superficially similar – not elicit the kind of response. After all, they just came here, the oppressors have no quarrel with them.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Consider that during the Reformation Wars, local heretics were given greater priority for extermination than the Saracens, threatening though they were as well. I mean, France allied with the Ottomans at one point, against fellow Christians!

        Well, sure, traitors before enemies. In Dante’s Inferno the lowest circle of hell was reserved for betrayers.

        “Traitor” is a different model than “people with small differences who live near us.”

    • Brad says:

      Interesting. I wonder if this is another example of Scott’s in-group/out-group/far-group schema. African-Americans would be a out-group to the Red Tribe whereas African-Africans would be a far-group.

      However, sometimes there is sustained contact in decent sized numbers. It’s one thing for someone to come across one Haitian doctor, but what about in e.g. a small-ish city in Iowa that has a meat packing plant largely staffed by Somali immigrants? In those cases there’s certainly some generalized xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment. But is there also some black-skin specific friction that is different than it would be if they were Rohingya instead of Somali?

      • Matt M says:

        But is there also some black-skin specific friction that is different than it would be if they were Rohingya instead of Somali?

        In this case I would probably fall back on xenophobia, sure. I think if the meat packing plant was staffed largely by non-English-speaking, non-assimilating white-skinned Russians (for example), there would still be hostility towards them from the local populace (see: “The Irish were discriminated against too!” debates)

      • eyeballfrog says:

        I’m curious if your example was a direct reference to this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postville:_A_Clash_of_Cultures_in_Heartland_America (with the Hasidic Jews replaced with Somali immigrants).

        Also how do I make a text hyperlink?

        • Brad says:

          No, from an article or articles I recall but I’m not going to try to dig up, talking about Somali immigrants working in meat factories in the Midwest (probably from the last year or two). I wasn’t aware of that book or story. Looks interesting.

          LESS_THANa href=”https://YOUR_URL”>YOUR LINK TEXT LESS_THAN/a>

          Swap the two LESS_THANs for the appropriate character.

        • rlms says:

          As well as writing the HTML, you can also select the text you want to link and click the link button.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            Hmm, I don’t appear to have one of those. Just a basic reply box. I don’t see any sort of “advanced features” type button either. I wonder what’s going on.

      • The Nybbler says:

        African-Americans are a fargroup to much of Red Tribe. There’s a huge white expanse in the US, where there just aren’t significant numbers of black people. Obviously not in the old South, but elsewhere.

        • Matt M says:

          I think they’re a far group to a lot of blue tribe, too.

          I grew up in an extremely liberal part of Oregon where there were virtually zero black people. I used to joke that most of the population was desperately waiting for a black person to move in so that everyone could show them how tolerant a community we were.

          A more cynical interpretation was something like “It’s easy to love minorities when your community is 99% white”

          • baconbacon says:

            and that 1% intentionally sought out and is desperately trying to fit into that community.

          • Matt M says:

            And were basically all college professors, or college athletes <_<

          • Iain says:

            Let’s talk about Toronto.

            Toronto is arguably the most diverse city in the world. There’s a pretty good chance that, since the last census, the percentage of non-white Torontonians crossed the 50% mark. There’s a little bit of everybody: 12% south Asian, 11% Chinese, 8.5% black, 3% Arab, 3% Latin American, and so on. Despite this diversity, support for multiculturalism in Toronto remains consistently high, even relative to the already high levels across Canada. You might think that this is just minority groups pushing up the numbers against the opposition of the embattled white minority, but I can assure you that this is not the case. As a proxy for multiculturalism as generalized tolerance vs multiculturalism as self-interest, I point to my second link, showing particularly high support in Toronto for “Aboriginal Peoples as a very important national symbol”, despite the relatively low First Nations population in Toronto itself.

            The cynical interpretation might be: “It’s easy to see minorities as scary others when your community is 99% white”.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Iain,

            8.5% black, 3% Arab, 3% Latin American,

            In other words, NAMs only make up one eighth of the population of Toronto. In NYC where I live the black population alone is more than double that.

            Nobody is afraid of walking around Chinatown after sunset.

          • Brad says:

            A more cynical interpretation was something like “It’s easy to love minorities when your community is 99% white”

            The Pacific Northwest is a small part of the United States and a small part of the blue tribe. Most big cities in the US have substantial African American populations. (Deep NE — ME, VT, NH — is even more racially homogeneous than the PNW, but there aren’t any big cities there.)

          • Iain says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal:

            There are parts of Toronto you don’t want to walk around after sunset, too. If they do not conform to your racial stereotypes, I apologize profusely.

          • Chalid says:

            What does NAM stand for here?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, this is one of the thing that annoys me about accusations of southern racism. I’ve lived in the south my whole life. I went to school with black kids, my church is maybe half white, half of my coworkers are black. And then I get lectured by 97% white Vermonters like Bernie Sanders about how awful and racist I am. If I had any problem with black people I’d move to where you live Bernie.

          • albatross11 says:

            In general, the southern states have a substantial black population, often including high profile elected officials (mayors and congressmen; usually not governors or senators), and they are overwhelmingly Republican. The Southwest and Northwest have small black populations, but the NW is blue and the SW is red, more or less. I don’t think things are looking so good for this model.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Iain

            “Support for multiculturalism remains high” is a non-sequiteur to “Toronto is very ethnically diverse”. Multicultural is the not the opposite of “ethnically homogenous”. It is the opposite of “well-assimilated”.

            So, how multicultural is Toronto, actually? I do not mean “count the Shwarma places and Ethiopian/Cambodian restaurants”. Are those various fractions unassimilated? Or are they, as I suspect, mostly sharing the Canadian flavor “Universal Culture” and associated terminal values with minor variations? Do they organize politically discrete ethnic blocs, or are these various fractions scattered across the Canadian political in distributions that approach the national averages? Etc, etc.

            In short, I’d like to see more detail in your picture before I conclude that Toronto is an example of “Multiculturalism works” and not actually one of “Assimilation works”, which is something we already knew about the US and Canada.

          • Iain says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko:

            In a Canadian context, you can’t draw an easy line between “multicultural” and “assimilated”, because the culture that we ask everybody to assimilate to is basically just multiculturalism plus respect for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

            There are distinct ethno-cultural voting blocks among Canadian immigrants, in the same way that, say, white evangelicals are a voting block. For example, Korean Christians in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) were apparently an important swing demographic in the recent Conservative leadership race, giving the social conservative candidates a boost relative to the more libertarian candidate. The federal Conservative party won a majority in the 2011 election by carefully targeting religious immigrant communities in the Toronto suburbs. I don’t know whether this meets your definition of “politically discrete ethnic blocs”, although I personally tend to see it as a sign of Canadian success.

            The closest thing to an explicitly ethnic party in the country is the Bloc Québécois, which has nothing to do with immigrants.

            As I have argued many times before, the distinction between “multiculturalism” and “assimilation” is a false one. The most effective mechanism of assimilation is welcoming people into the country, telling them that we embrace their cultures within the broader Canadian tapestry, and then ruthlessly indoctrinating their children with hippy liberal ideas about equality and freedom. I believe in Canadian values. I believe that, given the option, people living in Canadian society will tend to choose those values of their own free will. Yelling at people about how they have to give up their culture and conform seems actively counter-productive; it’s like telling a bunch of frogs in a pot on the stove that they should try to boil faster.

            Assimilation works in Canada because of multiculturalism.

            Notwithstanding all of the above: the point of my original post was simply that Matt M’s line about loving minorities being easy when you don’t interact with them is a facile quip, and doesn’t represent a deeper truth about reality. Toronto indisputably has a massive minority population, and is clearly okay with that.

          • JulieK says:

            ruthlessly indoctrinating their children with hippy liberal ideas about equality and freedom

            I think this is one of the main things people think of when they promote “assimilation.”

          • Doctor Mist says:

            You say

            ruthlessly indoctrinating their children with hippy liberal ideas about equality and freedom.

            and

            I believe that, given the option, people living in Canadian society will tend to choose those values of their own free will.

            in the same paragraph. I’m intrigued.

            Somebody less multiculturalist might say something like, “We do not believe in brainwashing. Our society is based upon free human beings making free choices. Not all foreigners feel this way, so we must take care to invite to join us only those who do.”

          • Iain says:

            I had hoped it would be clear from “hippy liberal ideas” that “ruthlessly indoctrinating” has its tongue in close proximity to its cheek. I think the process of growing up in Canada and going to school here is generally going to be sufficient for most people, particularly if it is repetitively drilled into your head that you can be fully Canadian without feeling like you are abandoning your parents’ culture.

            Plenty of people are prepared to claim that public schools indoctrinate kids with liberal ideals when they disagree with those ideals. This is, I suppose, more or less the same idea — the only difference is that in my case I think it’s a good thing.

          • Obelix says:

            Iain:

            In a Canadian context, you can’t draw an easy line between “multicultural” and “assimilated”, because the culture that we ask everybody to assimilate to is basically just multiculturalism plus respect for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

            That’s fairly controversial and many Canadians would disagree with you there. In any case, you can certainly tell whether an immigrant has integrated (I sort of prefer this word to “assimilated”, but it largely means the same thing) to Canadian society or hasn’t.

            I think this so-called “Canadian multiculturalism” is overblown, and I’m not really a fan of multiculturalism to start with. If the culture of Canada is nothing but multiculturalism, does this make me un-Canadian?

            The closest thing to an explicitly ethnic party in the country is the Bloc Québécois, which has nothing to do with immigrants.

            Even this party’s had some measure of ethnic diversity.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            So, Assimilation then, got it.

            The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is fundamentally an outgrowth of a very -specific- set of cultural assumptions and values explicitly NOT overlapping with the traditional cultural assumptions and values of quite a few of the previous cultures mentioned.

            To the extent that new Canadian citizens are elevating respect for and belief in the legitimacy of those rights and freedoms, or to use an American example the extent to which American citzens are elevating respect for and belief in the principles set forth in our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence OVER the previous culture terminal values…that is the very definition of assimilation.

            Everything else, language, food, behavioral rituals whether religious or secular, is window dressing.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            I think being an American is a stronger identity than being a Canadian. Or maybe a better way to put it is that the Canadian identity is a lot less about being a Canadian than the American identity is about being an American. So I don’t know if you can make a straight comparison.

            We’ve got a far less heroic conception of ourselves, a far less singular conception of our place in the world, etc. Paradoxically, being serious about being a Canadian means not being too serious about being a Canadian.

            Joking not joking: the strongest exhibits of Canadian patriotism you will see are Tim Hortons commercials, or when we play the Americans/Russians in hockey.

          • Nornagest says:

            Amusingly, no one around where I live cares about hockey except when the local team shows signs of beating the Canadians.

          • Obelix says:

            dndnrsn:

            We’ve got a far less heroic conception of ourselves, a far less singular conception of our place in the world, etc. Paradoxically, being serious about being a Canadian means not being too serious about being a Canadian.

            Canadians are one of the few nationalities I know who not only seriously claim that their country is the best country in the world, but who don’t even think of such an assertion as being nationalistic.

            Canadians do have a heroic conception of themselves, but it’s less bombastic and more quietly smug than Americans’.

          • but it’s less bombastic and more quietly smug than Americans’.

            How does that fit with their past treatment of the First Nations, in particular their children? One would expect that to play a role in their self-image similar to the role of black slavery in the American self-image. Not something one can feel smug about.

          • Obelix says:

            Americans feel proud of their civilization (and with good reason) despite their history of slavery. In fact, in this very thread we’ve got a discussion of how American conservatives tend to blame black culture for the persistent worse outcomes of African Americans, while American liberals blame the legacy of racism. (But I’d wager these liberals don’t blame themselves for this legacy of racism.)

            Canadians are aware of the history of racism against natives which persists to this day, but I think most don’t think about it very much. It’s not something that keeps me up at night, despite now living in a city with a fairly large native population, many of which are homeless, drug-addicted, etc. Obviously I’m not especially proud of this, but it’s very easy to feel largely unconcerned.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ DavidFriedman
            I don’t see what you’re getting at.

            Claiming that the children were removed from thier families for their own good is pretty damn smug. The epitome of smugness even.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            DavidFriedman,

            I’m pretty sure people notice the moral issues they’re told to notice.

          • johan_larson says:

            Canadian identity tends to be a bit muted, and I think it’s mostly because we just don’t have all that much weight to throw around, so there’s no point in posturing. Like the Netherlands, say, we can be a good place, a decent place, but we can’t really be a powerful place.

            Also, big daddy is just south of us, and it’s the world’s one true superpower. And at ten times our population and more than ten times our wealth, it’s a simple fact that the best they have usually beats the best of ours. The effect is so large that it’s sometimes true even in things we are really good at. For example, Canada cares madly about hockey. We care about hockey the way the US cares about football, while in the US, hockey is something like the fifth-most popular sport. But when Team Canada faces the US national team, it might lose.

            This being the case, it feels a bit ridiculous to be all rah-rah about Canada.

          • Aapje says:

            @johan_larson

            That is merely an argument for not making claims like: we are the strongest/we have most X/anything else that scales with size.

            You can also make superiority arguments around claims where scale doesn’t matter, like having better morals, having a fairer wealth distribution, being more tolerant, etc.

          • Randy M says:

            You can be the most awesome place without being the most powerful place, but then, if you distrust the most powerful nation, probably better not to brag about lest you entice them to annex you.
            Probably not an actual concern at the moment for Canadians, sure.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Obelix

            Canadians are one of the few nationalities I know who not only seriously claim that their country is the best country in the world, but who don’t even think of such an assertion as being nationalistic.

            Really? I mean, we can say “we have one of the best standards of living in the world, and we are really good at xyz”, and it’s more or less a matter of fact. But we don’t say we’re the greatest country in the world like Americans often do.

            Canadians do have a heroic conception of themselves, but it’s less bombastic and more quietly smug than Americans’.

            This is true. Quiet smugness is a big Canadian thing. I don’t know if that’s heroic, per se.

            @DavidFriedman

            How does that fit with their past treatment of the First Nations, in particular their children? One would expect that to play a role in their self-image similar to the role of black slavery in the American self-image. Not something one can feel smug about.

            Depends if you’re on the left or the right. As noted elsewhere here, it kind of parallels the way Americans talk about the legacy of slavery. On the right, there’s the usual “jeez can people just stop blaming history already”, on the left there’s a great deal of performative rending of garments that never extends to making the sacrifices and hard choices on their part that would be necessary to start fixing the problem.

            EDIT: DavidFriedman raises point; discussed below.

          • Aapje says:

            @Randy M

            It doesn’t matter how much other countries brag, most Americans are quite delusional to how well their country is performing relative to other Western countries 😛

            @dndnrsn

            “Greatest” is a highly subjective term. I don’t see how it can’t be compatible with performing better per capita.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            Would you say that the Netherlands is a better country than France or Germany? Would you say it’s a greater country?

          • that never extends to making the sacrifices and hard choices on their part that would be necessary to start fixing the problem.

            That way of putting it assumes that it is clear what the problem is and how to fix it. The outrages I was referring to were a result of being willing to make the hard choices that people thought were necessary to fix the problem.

            The present condition of First Nation people in Canada is analogous to the present position of Blacks in the U.S. The program to solve that problem by taking children from their families, shipping them across the country and putting them in institutions where they were forbidden to speak their own language was analogous to U.S. black slavery, although more recent and less extreme.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidFriedman

            You are correct. The problem is not an easily soluble one, and “what is to be done” is probably not what we think it is. Adjusting what I said: there are those who think they know what must be done. They usually seem to think sacrifices must be made. However, they seem in no hurry to make their share of those sacrifices.

            The Canadian example would be the non-aboriginal person who will loudly say that Canada is built on stolen land (which, to be fair, it is), but does not behave as one would expect someone finding themselves in possession of stolen property to behave: presumably, to give it back, and apologize. There’s a lot of apologies, but very few people packing up, giving whatever land they own to the appropriate group (whoever was living there prior to colonization), and moving back to wherever their ancestry hails from.

            It’s more or less the Canadian equivalent of the non-black person who is deeply aghast at racism, while doing everything in their power to live away from black people, keep their kids out of schools with more than a certain % of black people, etc.

            I would disagree with you that the residential schools are analogous to slavery; the treatment of aboriginals in Canada as a whole is analogous to slavery insofar as it’s Canada’s historical crime that continues to cause serious problems today.

          • Obelix says:

            Aapje:

            You can also make superiority arguments around claims where scale doesn’t matter, like having better morals, having a fairer wealth distribution, being more tolerant, etc.

            Indeed, and those are the kind of superiority arguments Canadians tend to make. For example, back in the 1990s Canada was for a few years on top of the UN’s human development index, and back then Canadians liked to mention this factoid, often phrasing it as “best country in the world”.

            dndnrsn:

            Really? I mean, we can say “we have one of the best standards of living in the world, and we are really good at xyz”, and it’s more or less a matter of fact. But we don’t say we’re the greatest country in the world like Americans often do.

            This hasn’t been my experience, I’ve often seen Canadians claim to be part of literally the best country in the world, usually making an argument about values (diversity, multiculturalism, etc.) or quality of life (as above).

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Would you say that the Netherlands is a better country than France or Germany?

            Yes to both, although the delta to Germany is smaller than to France.

            Would you say it’s a greater country?

            I think that the word ‘greater’ is anti-elucidating, due to the exact subjectivity of the term that is making us have this discussion, so I would prefer to use much clearer terminology.

          • Matt M says:

            So a candidate running for office under the phrase “Make the Netherlands better again” wouldn’t be dismissed as a racist xenophobe pandering to the populace’s most base desires?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            So, by some standards, Canada is a better country than the US. By some standards, the US is a better country than Canada. But Americans have a sense of greatness about their country I do not think Canadians do. I think Americans would be far more likely to say “yes” to the question “does your country have a special destiny”, or “is your country the protagonist of the world’s story.”

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            The previous Dutch Prime Minister argued in 2006 in a debate for a can-do mentality, which he also described as the Dutch East India Company mentality. People generally laughed at him for it. The leader of the Socialist Party argued that this choice of words made us looks bad abroad, since the Dutch East India Company engaged in colonialism and raiding. However, the Prime Minister was not called colonialist for his choice of words, as people didn’t think that he meant that. It was also before anti-racists started rabble rousing, so it might be received differently today.

            Geert Wilders has also argued for a new Golden Age. This is not very controversial, since the initial Dutch Golden Age was built on liberating The Netherlands from the Spanish, being more tolerant than the rest of Europe (resulting in capable religious refugees coming to The Netherlands, like Iberian Jews). Less nice things, like slave trade also happened, but that’s not what people think of when they think of the Golden Age.

            These are the slogans of the last election:
            VVD: Act(ing) normal -> law and order party
            SP: Ready to fight -> labor strike party
            PVV: Netherlands ours again -> Wilders being Wilders
            GroenLinks: Vote for change -> So bland
            D66: Chances for everyone -> Let’s make policies that benefit the gifted
            CDA: For a country that we want to pass on -> Whatever
            Labor party: Advance together -> This is the party that used to fight for both middle and lower classes, pretending that they can still sell that
            Animal Party: Plan B, because there is no planet B -> Actually somewhat clever
            ChristenUnie: Give faith a voice/vote (Dutch word for vote and voice is the same) -> another clever one
            SGP: Vote for life -> against abortion/euthenasia, what else do you need to know?
            50Plus: 50 plus points -> There is clever and there is trying to be clever and failing
            DENK (= THINK): Thinking of Holland -> A pun, yet completely meaningless

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            I think Americans would be far more likely to say “yes” to the question “does your country have a special destiny”, or “is your country the protagonist of the world’s story.”

            Is that positive? Those beliefs sound very dangerous and quite delusional to me. America is the status quo side right now, while nations like China are working to change the world order. And what special destiny? Not seeing much of that either.

            BTW, you forgot the notorious ‘leader of the free world’ contradiction in terms (do other nations actually get to be free, or do they have to follow the leader?).

    • dndnrsn says:

      Presumably you could use Canada and the UK as controls, as neither country had plantation slavery, so the vast majority of black people in those countries are or are the descendants of willing immigrants from elsewhere – mostly the Caribbean (of course, most black people in the Caribbean are of slave descent) and sub-Saharan Africa.

      The only hard statistic I can think of off the top of my head is that in the UK, Caribbean immigrants and their descendants underperform the native white population academically, while African immigrants (and their descendants?) outperform the native white population academically – this might be heavily the province of Nigerians (and Ghanaians?) though.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Under this model, hatred should directly correspond with how different someone looks, acts, behaves, etc.

      I think you are modeling the evo-psych just-so story explanation incorrectly.

      I think the actual model is that it’s difference plus perceived genetic threat. Thus, a single, different individual from far away is actually prized as a sexual partner. Adding a little bit of genetic diversity is a good thing for fitness. Sure, individuals of the same sex who are in direct competition may be jealous 9 for obvious reasons) but what you don’t get is systemic, widespread hatred for a single person or a small group from far away.

      But, if that genetically different person is from an observably genetically different tribe or people near enough and numerous to impinge on your own ability to spread your genes, that should activate the desire to defend your genetic legacy.

      Not saying I buy it, but I think that is the predicted in-group/out-group/far-group mechanic.

    • You put this in terms of hate. I would think that racial prejudice more often takes the form of feelings of superiority. We all like to think well of ourselves, and one way to do it is to have a low opinion of others.

      That fits the fact that in societies with a strong black/white divide, such as the U.S. south before and after the Civil War, whites had no problem with blacks in lower status roles, such as servants. You wouldn’t want a servant you hated, but you would want one you patronized, saw as loyal but low status.

      • J Mann says:

        David, I’ve seen other people model racists as wanting to feel superior, but in my experience, I don’t think that’s a major factor. I’d chalk modern racism up to:

        1) Stereotyping: A security guard who follows minority kids around a store, or a taxi driver who prefers non-black passengers probably isn’t doing so in order to feed a personal ego trip – they’re doing it because of a perception of the relative odds of shoplifting or a ride to someplace where they can’t find another fare, or something on that order.

        2) Lack of concern/empathy regarding structural issues: The new racism is “white privilege” – the assumption that if a white kid or an immigrant can make it without starting with what feels like money or connections, so can everyone else.

        • abc says:

          A security guard who follows minority kids around a store, or a taxi driver who prefers non-black passengers probably isn’t doing so in order to feed a personal ego trip – they’re doing it because of a perception of the relative odds of shoplifting or a ride to someplace where they can’t find another fare, or something on that order.

          And the evidence is that they’re behaving rationally by doing so.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Occasionally I’ll see a non-black person say that shop-lifting was easy because security focused all its attention on black people.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy

            The relevance of that depends on the effect of more security scrutiny on behavior. A greater percentage of black people are poor and if the increased tendency to shop-lift due to poverty is greater than the depressive effect of more security scrutiny, they would still shop-lift more.

            There may also be a network effect at play, where if a large number of poor people live together, they may develop a criminal culture, with better technique (like faraday shielding in clothes/bags to prevent alarms from going off). If shop owners catch these people less, but correctly assess that they catch people with better technique less, they are correct to give higher weight to the more professional thieves they catch.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            On the other hand, a lot of business practice is a matter of custom rather than testing. Testing is expensive, both in intrinsic cost and risk that the usual method might be better. (See loss aversion.) Also, in this particular case, it might be difficult to get security to focus on all customers equally.

            Also, this isn’t just about poverty and/or perceived poverty. I’ve seen accounts from upper and middle class blacks about being treated as though they’re likely to shoplift.

            A custom might have been reasonable when it was established, but is now out of date.

            Side effects might be getting ignored. For example, non-criminal black people might be less likely to shop in stores where they are suspected of being shoplifters, or at least spend less time and money in those stores.

          • Aapje says:

            Also, this isn’t just about poverty and/or perceived poverty. I’ve seen accounts from upper and middle class blacks about being treated as though they’re likely to shoplift.

            Nobody walks around with their paycheck printed on their shirt. So security guards have to use indirect signs to detect poverty, if they want to discriminate on poverty (and poverty is itself an indirect sign that doesn’t perfectly correlate to willingness to steal).

            If skin color is seen as a better predictor of poverty than people’s clothing (for example), then my argument is correct. It’s plausible that poor shoplifters wear fairly nice clothes (as they might not have paid for them).

            A custom might have been reasonable when it was established, but is now out of date.

            Sure, but no conclusive evidence has been provided that racial profiling is ineffective. ‘Reasonable’ is also a very subjective standard. It’s not unreasonable that the shop owners focus their efforts on those most likely to steal. It’s not unreasonable that innocents don’t want to be regularly bothered. Reality is complicated in that the innocent and the guilty cannot be easily be distinguished.

            Who should pay the costs of this reality is a very subjective choice.

            Side effects might be getting ignored. For example, non-criminal black people might be less likely to shop in stores where they are suspected of being shoplifters, or at least spend less time and money in those stores.

            The reduction in theft may be worth it. One can wonder why the shops that do this don’t get out-competed, if it truly costs them (a lot of) money.

            Side effects can go both ways. Perhaps some very spendy white people prefer shops with fewer black people. Perhaps black people make for bad customers, on average. AFAIK, taxis and restaurants generally consider them bad tippers on average and thus bad customers, as a group. Extra customers are not ‘free.’ They tend to tie up salespeople, so bad customers have an opportunity cost.

            Note that I’m not necessarily claiming that any of this is true, but I object to the automatic assumption that it cannot be true and that the cost to shop owners of race neutral behavior is very small or zero.

          • Matt M says:

            Nobody walks around with their paycheck printed on their shirt.

            True, although I’d definitely suspect that “black main in suit” is far less likely to be followed around a store than “black man in tank-top and basketball shorts”

          • Aapje says:

            Sure, but I doubt that most of the people who complain were shopping in a suit.

        • albatross11 says:

          J Mann:

          There are two sides to the stereotyping issue:

          a. I may have incorrect assumptions about the statistics between races that lead me to overestimate your probability of robbing my store, or underestimate your probability of graduating high school.

          b. I may have correct assumptions about those statistics, but be treating you badly because of them.

          If we’re in situation (a), then hopefully I’ll get better information and stop assuming untrue things about group statistics.

          If we’re in situation (b), then we are facing a tradeoff–for me to treat you better as an individual, I must behave in a less rational way. That may be something I should do or even something the law should compel me to do, but it is a very different situation from (a).

        • albatross11 says:

          J Mann:

          Your second point smuggles in an assumption–that there is a meaningful sense in which white privilege explains the differences in outcomes between blacks and whites. That may be true, but I don’t think it’s so obviously true that anyone who disagrees with it can sensibly be labeled a racist.

          • abc says:

            Your second point smuggles in an assumption–that there is a meaningful sense in which white privilege explains the differences in outcomes between blacks and whites.

            In fact the evidence points in the opposite direction.

          • J Mann says:

            Sorry for not being more clear – I didn’t mean to state an opinion whether the types of racism I identified were or were not justified/problematic, etc., just to offer them as ways in which someone might be identified as “racist” without being substantially motivated by a desire to see her own group as superior. I thought about putting “racist” in quotes in the main post, but that would be read as expressing skepticism, and I wanted to express no opinion. 😉

            For what it’s worth,

            (a) I think stereotyping can be motivated by false information, true information, or by an overestimate of an otherwise true trend. I think it’s unfair enough on the individuals that when we can avoid it, we should.

            (b) Regarding “privilege” and “structural racism,” I think it would be great if we all had more empathy. I think it’s hard to see when the system is harmful to the oppressed, but we should try. (For example, it’s easy to say that the sentencing disparity for crack cocaine is unfair to minority communities, but you could just as easily argue that it’s motivated by a desire to reduce crime in those communities – I think you have to be thoughtful when you’re tuning rules to make sure you’re likely to be doing good.)

      • Drew says:

        You put this in terms of hate. I would think that racial prejudice more often takes the form of feelings of superiority

        As a potential refinement, outright racism has become low status.

        So, I’d expect prejudice to look like an argument about comparative advantage. Assert that different races / cultures have different skills. Then imply that your group is especially good at the things your group considers important.

        This has a status gain. Not only do you like your servant, you’re saying he’s exceptionally skilled at serving.

        It also has a toxoplasma gain. If the political opposition isn’t on the ball, they’ll argue, “racial and cultural effects don’t exist!” rather than the infinitely more correct stances of “you haven’t proven your specific effects exist” or “you haven’t proven that your effect sizes are large enough to matter.”

        Then you get a high-ability servant. And you get to feel intellectually correct.

        • abc says:

          If the political opposition isn’t on the ball, they’ll argue, “racial and cultural effects don’t exist!” rather than the infinitely more correct stances of “you haven’t proven your specific effects exist” or “you haven’t proven that your effect sizes are large enough to matter.”

          Except that the opposition is likely to be wrong in both cases. Unless you mean “haven’t proven” in the “evolution is just a theory” sense.

        • albatross11 says:

          My impression is that the socially acceptable forms of racism (at least in my social class) involve stating openly that racism is wicked and everyone is the same, but then moving to a suburb that has almost no blacks in it, chosen because the local school district is almost all white and Asian.

          I haven’t seen much of what you describe in American popular culture, and never in a social setting. You can find some H. Beady people arguing along those lines, but if you’re trying to find a socially acceptable way to hide your hatred or sense of superiority over blacks (or other races), these arguments will not have the desired effects.

          • Nell says:

            And this is the form of racism that I’ve never seen a compelling “solution” to from anyone on the left (as a left-leaning person).

            I’m reminded of the adorable racism minigame Parable of the Polygons. Like, yeah, racism is horrible, but I definitely don’t want my kids going to a shitty school. A selection pressure as “benign” as “I want my kids to be with other smart kids” will necessarily result in class (and thus racial) segregation, and literally no one is willing to budge on this, because everyone else will defect in this prisoner’s dilemma if you bite the bullet and send your kids to a worse school so as to fight this sort of racism in the abstract.

            The “solution” of the minigame is to work to change the cultural perception of what an “acceptable” environment is. I struggle to see a way to do this in which “my kids goes to a shitty school” ever becomes acceptable to the critical fraction of the population.

            I mean, you could make poor schools not shitty, but you don’t do that without solving a problem as hard as “people don’t want to send their kids to shitty schools” in the first place.

          • eccdogg says:

            My city has at least tried to address this issue. I am not sure they have been successful. The County runs the schools and they have a goal of having no school with more than X% free and reduced lunch students.

            They accomplish this in two ways.

            1) The old method of busing kids out of poor neighborhoods to better ones.

            2) Placing all the programs for advanced students in schools in high poverty neighborhoods and allowing folks to transfer in. The result is folks sending their kids to elite schools in the hood.

            This does a pretty decent job of making sure that there are no concentration of poor and minority kids in any school. However, I don’t think there is very much proof that this does much for the minority children themselves as their test score lag other districts in the same state who did not adopt such a policy. And usually what you get is in school sorting as opposed to school to school sorting.

          • Matt M says:

            That seems like a great plan to encourage rich parents to avoid your school district entirely.

            Little Johnny has to go WHERE if he wants to take AP Chemistry? Nuts to that, we’ll move to the next suburb over.

          • abc says:

            Like, yeah, racism is horrible, but I definitely don’t want my kids going to a shitty school. A selection pressure as “benign” as “I want my kids to be with other smart kids” will necessarily result in class (and thus racial) segregation, and literally no one is willing to budge on this, because everyone else will defect in this prisoner’s dilemma if you bite the bullet and send your kids to a worse school so as to fight this sort of racism in the abstract.

            So you admit that the race of kids correlates with how smart kids are. Good, because this is indeed true, however, the problem is that in left wing circles it’s taboo to say so. Thus, you end up with hypocrisy as people act on facts they now on some level but aren’t willing to openly admit.

          • BBA says:

            @Matt M: Well, you can have a higher-level authority force some level of busing across district lines (or, you know, get rid of school districts altogether – few other countries have them), but parents can and will move even farther away to defeat that. Ultimately the only way to end school segregation is to end residential segregation. And people self-segregate, so to do that you need something like Singapore’s ethnic quotas (which I doubt would fly anywhere outside Singapore).

            It’s a hard problem.

          • albatross11 says:

            Where I live, this is how most of the magnet schools[1] work. Put the (mostly white and Asian) magnet kids in the same school with the (mostly black and Hispanic) kids from the failing school. This raises the average test scores in the failing school, and makes the racial numbers look better, but otherwise probably doesn’t do much for the failing school.

            [1] Selective public schools with an entrance exam plus grade requirements to get in.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Suppose we somehow managed to desegregate the schools completely. Somehow got everyone to move to the same district, and ended within-school segregation by ending tracking by ability, adopting a no-student-or-parent-choice curriculum, and assigning students to different sections of the same classes by lot.

            Would you expect test scores and other relevant metrics for the black and Hispanic students to go up or down significantly? Would metrics for the white and Asian students go up or down significantly? If they became similar, would they be near the old high level or the old low level?

          • eccdogg says:

            “That seems like a great plan to encourage rich parents to avoid your school district entirely.

            Little Johnny has to go WHERE if he wants to take AP Chemistry? Nuts to that, we’ll move to the next suburb over.”

            The school system here is county based not city based. So to do that you would have to go to another county and the surrounding counties are considered to have worse schools because for the most part they are poorer and more rural.

            @The Nybbler

            My guess is that that set up is worse for all parties. I think teachers teach to the ability level of the median kid in their class. In a class of very mixed abilities you end up teaching way to fast for some and way too slow for others. And I don’t think there is a ton of halo effect of merely being in the same room with smarter kids. Maybe there is some effect on discipline.

            I also think you can get capture by the affluent parents of the school leading to decisions that are good /neutral for affluent kids but not necessarily good for poor kids. I observe that at my kids’ elementary school. The school has amazing elective offerings that are great for kids who already are on track. But I wonder if they are a distraction for kids who should be focusing on the 3 R’s.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @eccdog

            The school system here is county based not city based. So to do that you would have to go to another county and the surrounding counties are considered to have worse schools because for the most part they are poorer and more rural.

            I expect the architects of such a plan to be unpleasantly surprised to find that the parents have a vote in how their schools are run.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/opinion/sunday/integration-worked-why-have-we-rejected-it.html

            Claims that integration works because more money is spent (in ways that actually benefit students) in schools that have white students.

            I’m not sure how to check the research, but it seems at least plausible.

          • baconbacon says:

            Claims that integration works because more money is spent (in ways that actually benefit students) in schools that have white students.

            From the article

            In 1974, the Supreme Court rejected a metropolitan integration plan, leaving the increasingly black cities to fend for themselves.

            A generation later, public schools that had been ordered to integrate in the 1960s and 1970s became segregated once again, this time with the blessing of a new generation of justices.

            Between 1970 and 1990, the black-white gap in educational attainment shrank

            These statments are fairly vague, but one reading of them is that the black white gap was narrowing while schools were re-segregating. There are some other clues at the bait and switch or moat and bailey here.

            A 2011 study by the Berkeley public policy professor Rucker C. Johnson concludes that black youths who spent five years in desegregated schools have earned 25 percent more than those who never had that opportunity. Now in their 30s and 40s, they’re also healthier — the equivalent of being seven years younger.

            Someone who was 40 in 2011 spent most of their years in school from 1970 on, the years where re-segregation was occurring. The most relevant cohort would be kids who experienced integration from 1954-> 1974 (using court decisions as a cut off seems like a fairly neutral starting point). Where is the data from that group?

            The framing here is also total bullshit

            Despite the Horatio Alger myth that anyone can make it in America, moving up the socioeconomic ladder is hard going: children from low-income families have only a 1 percent chance of reaching the top 5 percent of the income distribution, versus children of the rich, who have about a 22 percent chance. But many of the poor black children who attended desegregated schools in the 1970s escaped from poverty, and their offspring have maintained that advantage.

            The jump from 1% of poor students make it to the top 5% to kids who went to integrated schools make it out of ‘poverty’ is about as dishonest as you can get without actually making up your own statistics.

            “On some measures the racial achievement gaps reached their low point around the same time as the peak of black-white desegregation in the late 1980s.”

            Oh, what measures are those? Details? Not at all suspicious that you throw a one sentence quote in there to support your position with no examination of the context. It sounds perfect… except for that ‘some’.

            Given the way the article is written I would say there is a 80-90% chance that the evidence for integration is weak, and that the majority of the effect came from the removal of legal segregation, which cannot be duplicated.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            In New Jersey, the low-achieving districts (which, yes, tend to be black and Hispanic districts) spend considerably more than the high-achieving ones.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The Nybbler, the interesting question is what the money is actually being spent on.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            This being New Jersey, I imagine most of the money is fed directly into a furnace. However, the implicit proposition that “When schools are integrated, schools spend money on useful things whereas when schools are segregated, white and integrated schools spend money on useful things whereas black schools waste it” strikes me as tailored avoid the issue of the black schools getting more money. What the author claims is

            By itself, racial mixing didn’t do the trick, but it did mean that the fate of black and white students became intertwined. School systems that had spent a pittance on all-black schools were now obliged to invest considerably more on African-American students’ education after the schools became integrated. Their classes were smaller and better equipped. They included children from better-off families, a factor that the landmark 1966 Equality of Educational Opportunity study had shown to make a significant difference in academic success. What’s more, their teachers and parents held them to higher expectations. That’s what shifted the arc of their lives.

            He’s making the usual claim that the black schools are getting a pittance, which probably was true before but is not now. Class sizes in the poorer districts used to be capped at a low level, though this is no longer the case and I don’t have current numbers.

          • Brad says:

            @Jaskologist

            I expect the architects of such a plan to be unpleasantly surprised to find that the parents have a vote in how their schools are run.

            That’s a two way street. I occasionally run into parents that are unpleasantly surprised that non-parents (and parents without kids in public school) have a vote in how schools are run.

          • Randy M says:

            That’s understandable, but they need to consider that every taxpayer contributes to funding of the schools, not to mention the effect of schools on behavior of future citizens.

            I think the current compromise that communities get a say in how schools are run (through elected officials) and parents can then opt to place the students in private or home schools if these don’t meet their standards is reasonable, from a standpoint of the correlation of the influence of various stakeholders, even if optimal educational results are not at hand.

          • albatross11 says:

            The Nybbler:

            I’m sure there’s good data on this, but here’s my thinking:

            1. Increasing the range of abilities and understanding in a traditional classroom makes it not work as well. The teacher has the same number of hours per year to teach Algebra 2, but she has a wider range of knowledge and abilities, so she can’t tailor it to what the kids are ready for.

            2. Making a classroom work less well will hurt all the kids, but the smarter kids will take less damage, because they can often figure it out on their own, and they often have smart parents who will explain it to them.

            3. If it is possible to close the IQ gap between races via an educational program, it requires some massive programs that are way more intensive than bussing students around. So this wouldn’t narrow the gap in abilities between racial groups.

            Because of all those, my prediction is that there would be little or no effect on the performance gap across races (in terms of things like achievement tests or subject matter tests) even in the short term, and none at all in the long term. Any short term impact would be due to the smart kids (mostly white and Asian) getting slowed down thanks to the classroom not funcitoning as well, not the less smart kids doing better.

          • albatross11 says:

            The Nybbler:

            I think there’s a sensible argument in there somewhere. Attempting to steelman it:

            1. Most of the influential people in our society are white.

            2. If their kids are affected by the operation of local schools, they’ll care enough to get involved and push for things to work better.

            3. IF their kids aren’t affected by the operation of local schools, they’ll care less. They may still want good education in an abstract sense, but they won’t be as interested or informed or involved, and so there will be less effective pressure on the schools to improve.

            That seems like one fundamental argument for putting everyone’s kids in the same school system–it will make sure that everyone cares what happens in the school system. The downside, of course, is that if the school system is an unfixable mess for whatever reason, then everyones’ kids get screwed over. Also, implementing this would involve a massive loss of freedom and well-being for lots of people, and wouldn’t really be workable.

          • eccdogg says:

            Well here is a bit of a natural experiment.

            Wake county (Raleigh NC) schools are my home district they take many measures that I have outlined above to make sure that there are not concentrations of poverty or races at any one school.

            Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools did not have such a policy but instead focused effort and resources on poor schools.

            The results

            http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/your-schools-blog/article38113338.html

            So it might surprise you to hear that last year black and low-income students in CMS were more likely than their counterparts in Wake County to pass state exams and graduate. Or that the same is true when you compare white students from both districts.

            District averages tell a different story. Because Wake is richer (38 percent student poverty in Wake vs. 58 percent in CMS) and whiter (48 percent in Wake, 30 percent in CMS), its overall numbers tend to be higher. Race and family income don’t determine an individual’s chance of success, but on a large scale they’re a strong predictor.

            Now that was just one year and the author says the numbers bounce around year to year, but I have seen other sources stating that poor/minority students did better in Mecklenburg vs Wake Co from previous years. Maybe large scale mixing allows you to hide poor students in overall decent schools and not address their problems.

            ETA: I found the most recent raw data
            http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/accountability/reporting/accdrilldwn16.xlsx

            Charlotte outperforms Wake with every demographic White, Black, Hispanic. But yet Charlotte is worse overall and has more bad schools. Simpsons Paradox FTW.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @albatross11

            Unfortunately you’ve steelmanned it right into what I call the hostage-taking argument — “We’re not going to let you solve your own problems unless you solve everyone else’s problems too.” Aside from its questionable moral state, people’s response to it tends to be to figure out how to get rid of or escape the hostage-takers rather than solve all the problems.

            Furthermore, based on your previous reply, you seem to think that the integration ideal they’re looking for would produce bad outcomes for everyone. And I agree. If that’s racism… well, isn’t everything nowadays?

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Certainly it feels like this is how (the non-tautological parts of) class-ism works.

    • Nornagest says:

      I think this is very likely. An ex-girlfriend of several years went to school in neighborhood with a lot of recent African immigrants, so I got to know some of their kids fairly well; they had darker skin than most black Americans, but they spoke with the region’s standard dialect (their parents sounded African, which is a distinctive family of accents that’s quite unlike AAVE), most of their friends were white or Asian, and when they grew up they married a broad range of ethnicities. A lot like the standard immigrant experience, in other words.

      Prejudice based on skin color wouldn’t predict that; even the “growing up black in America” narrative wouldn’t. But prejudice based on culture would.

      • Prejudice based on skin color wouldn’t predict that; even the “growing up black in America” narrative wouldn’t. But prejudice based on culture would.

        So would the theory that it’s culture via the culture’s effect on the people who hold it rather than on other people’s attitude to them. Which I think was Sowell’s conjecture–that slavery left American blacks with a culture less functional than either African or Caribbean.

        • Nornagest says:

          Also true.

          • albatross11 says:

            The other model that would easily fit this observation is that the immigrants were drawn from the top of their home country’s distribution in terms of intelligence, work ethic, etc., and that their kids got some of that.

            For most ways discrimination plays out day to day, it intuitively seems like it would be hard for the would-be discriminator to distinguish between two black guys based on their culture–how does the cop pulling you over or the potential employer considering whether to hire you even know about that stuff?

          • Nornagest says:

            how does the cop pulling you over or the potential employer considering whether to hire you even know about that stuff?

            Accent, and to a lesser extent dress and mannerisms, for both. Location, for the cop. Name, for the employer: something like “Uche Mgbeke” connotes “immigrant family” strongly compared to, say, “Jamal Thomas”.

            Of these, I think accent’s the big one. It’s a strong and I think underappreciated marker of culture: you could have two identical white guys in suits, and I’d immediately think totally different things about them as soon as they opened their mouths, if one came out with a Tidewater accent and the other sounded like a dumb hillbilly stereotype.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Likewise “Jamal Thomas” carries a different connotation from say “Nat Brown” or “Jim Strong”

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          There is more than one African-American subculture.

          I strongly recommend the introduction to The New Jim Crow as evidence. The introduction is free if you look inside the book.

          The author is a black civil rights lawyer. She didn’t know about the mass incarceration problem, and the effects on ex-prisoners. The NAACP and the Black Congressional Caucus didn’t have it on their agendas. It was hard for her to believe how bad it was until she’d been told a number of times.

          • John Schilling says:

            That is a powerful piece of writing, at least insofar as Ms. Alexander’s personal experience goes. But I was concerned by this bit: “In less than 30 years, the US penal population exploded from around 300,000 to more than 2 million, with drug convictions accounting for the majority of the increase”. That’s very much at odds with the recent and IMO much better researched discussion we had on the matter here. Alexander cites one Marc Mauer, “Race to Incarcerate”, and I can’t get a good read on whether that’s a reliable source without buying and reading it.

            I’m concerned that, moved as she clearly is, Alexander might be grasping at easy answers like “just end the war on drugs already!”, when the more difficult problem might be a million or so black men incarcerated and subsequently marginalized on account of all the murdering and raping.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            However, my main point stands: if your first thought is dysfunctional black culture, you’re leaving out a lot of black people whose lives are so remote from that culture that they didn’t even know mass incarceration and subsequent stigma were a problem.

            I’ve only scanned the big chart, but it looks as though rape and murder are a small proportion of the reasons people are imprisoned. There are a lot of assaults short of murder and property crimes, not to mention people awaiting trial.

    • 1soru1 says:

      Relevant anecdote: what happened when a anglo-Nigerian comic got stopped by a southern cop :

      http://welovemediacrit.blogspot.de/2009/10/oh-im-sorry-maam-i-thought-you-were.html

    • Simon Penner says:

      I am a foreigner to the US, and this was pretty much immediately obvious to me upon moving here. My only confusion was why nobody else seemed to realize this.

      Nobody really thinks about it, but for the most part, black people who “act white” are accepted in most parts of this country without a second thought. Hell, this is so common that accusations of “acting white” are explicitly made in the African American community, and it carries a connotation that the person acting white has betrayed his friends and family.

      This is actually somewhat confusing to me, because I was led to believe that the reason racism is bad is because it is unfair to hold people accountable for things they have no control over. Nobody has any control over what colour skin they were born with. However, ideas are fair game for criticism and disapproval, under the idea that people choose to support ideas, and so they’re not really suffering if we criticize and disapprove of a given idea, because people can always just stop supporting it. If someone opposes something that is cultural, assuming they have a valid justification for it, is it fair to call that racist?

      I mean, there was a pretty strong backlash against southern confederate culture a year or so ago, and this was justified by nearly everyone as a reasonable critical reaction to a set of bad ideas. If anyone had stopped to say that this was racist against southerners, they would have been laughed out of the room. It wasn’t racism. It was the legitimate criticism and rejection of ideas that were demonstrably bad for society. There are certain elements of the analogous culture under discussion that large swaths of the country believe are demonstrably bad for society, and they have what they believe to be reasonable rational justifications for it. Why the disparity?

      • albatross11 says:

        Race is more or less immutable (modulo some edge cases where someone can pass for a member of another race). Accent is hard to change. Other cultural markers can be changed, at some cost. Plenty of people learn the right fork to use as an adult, or learn how to speak like an educated person in college, or learn how to dress for a professional job on their first professional job or maybe their summer internship.

      • baconbacon says:

        There are certain elements of the analogous culture under discussion that large swaths of the country believe are demonstrably bad for society, and they have what they believe to be reasonable rational justifications for it. Why the disparity?

        There are a lot of different potential responses to this answer, but the one that I would favor is that Black culture in the US has been basically squashed except as a rejection of white culture. Between the drug laws, the draft, the highway commission using interstates as physical barriers to contain black neighborhoods, the FHA refusing to back loans to blacks, welfare programs that provided incentives to non traditional homes, the murder and incarceration of black leaders and the public education system it has been difficult to build any kind of identity that doesn’t surround being anti white.

      • Matt M says:

        I think this is at the core of the disagreement between red and blue when it comes to racism.

        Red says “I’m not racist! I only hate their culture! You know, that thing which glorifies murder, drugs, and misogyny in song. Where people who attempt to improve themselves are dismissed as weak nerds. Where out of wedlock childbirth is common. Why SHOULDN’T I hate that? Why don’t you?”

        Blue says “Bullshit. You ignore flaws in other cultures. You would find ANY reason to dislike people who look different than you. Besides, most of the problems with their culture are a direct result of white racism anyway.”

        (I’m a red so perhaps I am getting blue’s argument wrong. A blue is free to correct me on this)

        • qwints says:

          No, you’ve got the Blue mode right (the appeal to Johnny Cash in defense of rap is a classic). Blues would probably also point to critiques of misogyny from within the Black community. Some might also critique the idea of the Black community being a monolith, though race essentialism has gained a lot of power on the Left in the last decade.

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems to me that a huge part of the red/blue split on race, at least in terms of rhetoric, comes down to this: By almost any measure you can think of, blacks are doing pretty badly in the US vs pretty much everyone else. Worse outcomes in school, less income, less savings, more jail time, more out-of-wedlock births, even shorter life expectancy. That difference in outcomes is so obvious that it’s visible to the naked eye, but all kinds of statistics are around to quantify them.

            One view (more concentrated on the blue tribe) tends to ascribe this to external stuff–the legacy of slavery, fallout from Jim Crow and redlining and such, ongoing discrimination, etc.

            The other view (more concentrated on the red tribe) ascribes these worse outcomes to internal stuff–generally black culture, stigmas against acting white, etc.

            These views aren’t mutually exclusive, and probably most members of each tribe have some mix of these views.

            But I think the driver here is the huge and visible difference in outcomes. If blacks were doing about as well as whites, we wouldn’t spend any time looking for explanations for that, we’d just say “ok” and move on.

            As an illustration of why I think this is so, consider Asians. In the US, Asians do better than whites on (I think) all or almost all those same measures. There was some pretty nasty anti-Asian discrimination (though not as bad as what blacks faced), but nobody feels the need to refer to that to explain why Asians are doing well in the US. It doesn’t seem to need an explanation.

          • Brad says:

            @qwints
            Leave Johnny Cash aside, there is a real question in how you square this theory with the cultural geography of racism in the US. It peaks in Appalachia. That’s a culture that looks an awful lot like the one Matt M above has the Red Tribe attribute to African-Americans.

            It’s one thing to steelman in order to subject your own beliefs to the best counterarguments possible, but it is quite another to fool yourself into thinking that the steelman is actually a widely held belief because you don’t want to face up to the reality of who you are lying down with.

          • But I think the driver here is the huge and visible difference in outcomes. If blacks were doing about as well as whites, we wouldn’t spend any time looking for explanations for that, we’d just say “ok” and move on.

            Or the driver is the tendency of both sides to see the problem in terms of race.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Brad

            Source for the claim that racism peaks in Appalachia?

            I would also note that working-class/rural poor Appalachian white culture and cultural cues are right down there at the bottom of the US cultural pecking order, producing a lot of delightfully shuddery “Among The Savage Hicks With iPhone and Hand Sanitizer” ethnography pieces and equal sneering disdain for accents, dress, mannerism, and so on.

            So, if you are correct and racism peaks in Appalachia, I don’t think that conflicts with the cultural model. It fits on at least two levels:

            1) When you’re near the bottom of the ladder, most people become acutely conscious of losing any more self-image/social status and look for ways to prop themselves up. “Sure, I’m low status, but at least I’m not [insert disfavored group here].”.

            2) Outgroup vs. Fargroup distinctions.

          • gbdub says:

            What role does the geographic distribution of the people who write about this sort of thing play? While the urban poor are often mostly minorities, the rural poor are mostly white (except maybe in the Deep South?).

            Media being largely clustered in urban centers on the coasts, it’s not surprising that their view of poverty and privilege splits largely on racial lines, because that’s what they see every day. There are of course many more poor white folks who can’t be described as “privileged” by any stretch of the imagination (yeah, they may be white, but not only are they poor, they carry their own markers that would instantly get them recognized and discriminated against in high-end culture). But they are out of sight, out of mind for the people setting the narrative.

          • Brad says:

            @Trofin_Lysenko
            Here’s a paper for you:
            https://static1.squarespace.com/static/51d894bee4b01caf88ccb4f3/t/51d89ab3e4b05a25fc1f39d4/1373149875469/RacialAnimusAndVotingSethStephensDavidowitz.pdf

            Regarding your arguments for compatibility:
            What you are saying seems plausible, but it is completely different from what Matt M said. In his model the root of red tribe racism is that the fine, upstanding, hard working, god fearing members of the red tribe hate black culture because it stands for everything they oppose.

            If that were what was going on you’d expect it to peak among some group like the Mormons, not Appalachians. Or taking into account your near/far group point at the very least the most economically and culturally successful parts of the red tribe–the southern Episcopalian doctors and lawyers descended from good families going back to before the civil war. That’s not what’s going on.

            It may be that your framework is compatible with the larger category of all cultural theories, but it isn’t compatible with the one Matt M laid out.

          • gbdub says:

            Brad, what if it’s both? You’ve got two flavors of racism:
            1) the overt racial animus, I’m better because I’m white, we don’t take kindly to your type ’round here. That’s probably what your data is capturing as peaking in Appalachia.
            2) the attitude Matt describes, basically “African Americans are good people but the poor ones are stuck in a self-destructive culture”

            I think 2 really is a fairly common attitude among the red tribe (who don’t consider it racist), more common than 1. It probably doesn’t show up on your poll, but it would get you labeled racist among the blue tribe if you expressed it openly. And frankly, Blue talks a lot more about 2 these days – microaggressions and structural oppression and legacy of slavery and all that. The Red/Blue split really is then mostly about who/what is to blame for the ongoing problems among large segments of the African American population.

            Type 1 racism is largely limited to Red sub tribes, apparently in Appalachia, where they have their own self-perpetuating cultural problems.

            But interestingly (to me at least) it’s not like black people don’t have their own internal rifts over culture. Before he was outed as a creepy probably serial rapist, that was a big thing of Cosby’s. And there’s the classic Chris Rock bit about black folk vs. n*****s.

          • Brad says:

            @gbdub
            As far as it goes, I don’t much disagree. But what binds the different parts of the red tribe together? Why is the attitude among the “high” part of red tribe culture towards poor whites and poor blacks so different? Poor whites are family that get compassion and understanding no matter how much they screw up while blacks are neighbors that are judged by the state of their lawn, their clothing, and so on.

            That’s hard to explain using a pure cultural explanation. The unconditional us vs. conditional and revocable us dynamic looks like the classic type of racism.

          • albatross11 says:

            I don’t think white upper class red or blue tribe members are big fans of the white underclass. (When and where I grew up, they were referred to as white trash, and held in very low regard.)

          • But I think the driver here is the huge and visible difference in outcomes.

            On the other hand, there is also a good deal of concern about gender discrimination, where the difference in outcomes is not only not huge and visible, it’s ambiguous in sign. Consumption is done largely by couples, so it’s hard to say whether women are really poorer than men. The most obvious outcome linked directly to individuals is life expectancy, on which women do better than men. Auto insurance costs are higher for young adult men than for young adult women, due to statistical discrimination.

            The usual difference cited the other way is in wages, but that’s not huge and visible unless you ignore the fact that women differ from men in ways relevant to how much they earn, such as what fields they go into and how likely they are to drop out, at least for some years, to produce and rear children.

            Nonetheless, discrimination against women is widely viewed as an issue that must be dealt with.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad

            If that were what was going on you’d expect it to peak among some group like the Mormons, not Appalachians.

            Blacks are a fargroup to Mormons. Not many black people in Utah.

            Why is the attitude among the “high” part of red tribe culture towards poor whites and poor blacks so different? Poor whites are family that get compassion and understanding no matter how much they screw up while blacks are neighbors that are judged by the state of their lawn, their clothing, and so on.

            Defensiveness. Poor whites don’t generally blame rich whites for their poverty. If they did, the rich whites would probably tell the poor whites the same things they tell poor blacks. But poor blacks are much more likely to blame whites for their poverty. Which was definitely true at one point, but as white people have internally tabooed racism, passed civil rights laws, engaged in Affirmative Action, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Red Tribe to accept blame for black underachievement.

          • Drew says:

            @DavidFriedman

            On the other hand, there is also a good deal of concern about gender discrimination, where the difference in outcomes is not only not huge and visible, it’s ambiguous in sign. Consumption is done largely by couples, so it’s hard to say whether women are really poorer than men. The most obvious outcome linked directly to individuals is life expectancy, on which women do better than men. Auto insurance costs are higher for young adult men than for young adult women, due to statistical discrimination.

            “Ambigious” seems like the wrong word. The public figures who drive the debate use predicable, post-hoc utility functions.

            Treat group outcomes as a bundle of N goods. Neither is dominant. Women live longer. Men pay more for auto insurance.

            This looks ambiguous because we can imagine a utility function that would prefer either bundle. Just put all of your utility-weight onto whatever dimension that group has best.

            But, people — particularly public figures who advocate for group interests — don’t have to declare their outcomes in advance. They can look at the outcomes and pick whatever weighting is convenient.

            Organizations that argue for public policy concessions will focus on areas where their group does badly. The PR person of a women’s advocacy group will give a lot of weight to unadjusted earnings, the risk of sexual violence, and emotional labor.

            Big, visible differences make it easy to find people who’ll (often earnestly) argue that a group needs additional resources.

            People have an availability-bias, so they’ll put more attention on those areas and change their personal weights accordingly.

          • albatross11 says:

            David Friedman:

            Yeah, that’s a good point. A model that would predict the focus on womens’ issues better is that current concern about discrimination or oppression is based on historical patterns of mistreatment. But then, there’s not much concern about anti-Asian discrimination, and even anti-Semitism (which gets some public attention) isn’t a major burning issue in US politics.

            Probably the most simple model is that groups that are effective at organizing politically get more attention to their complaints. Blacks are pretty good at that, thanks to a fairly cohesive identity and a lot of shared culture and shared problems[1]. Women are half the voters, so they’ve got a voice. Hispanics and Asians aren’t so cohesive, since they tend to come from lots of different source countries and assimilate into general Americans pretty quickly. Jews are a visible political force in the US, but it doesn’t seem like anti-Semitism is a big political issue in the US, the way anti-black racism or accusations of racism are.

            [1] Though a lot of the stuff done to help blacks out, like affirmative action in educaiton and set-asides in government contracting, don’t really do anything much for poor or even middle-class blacks; their main benefits land on the blacks at the top, whose kids go to Harvard rather than Duke.

          • gbdub says:

            Why is the attitude among the “high” part of red tribe culture towards poor whites and poor blacks so different? Poor whites are family that get compassion and understanding no matter how much they screw up while blacks are neighbors that are judged by the state of their lawn, their clothing, and so on.

            I don’t necessarily buy this. There are plenty of “white trash” stereotypes, teen girls and unmarried women who get pregnant are heavily stigmatized even when white, etc.

            Now, red tribers are more likely to live among the white rural poor, and therefore see the nuances, while they only see the sensationalized worst aspects of poor urban black culture. But that’s more neargroup/fargroup than “type 1” racism. And coastal blues have their own version of this, generally thinking all southern and/or rural whites are trashy hicks because they don’t live among them.

          • Achilles_de_Remilia says:

            Why is the attitude among the “high” part of red tribe culture towards poor whites and poor blacks so different? Poor whites are family that get compassion and understanding

            You mean like National Review’s “They deserve to die, and their whitetrash communities need to die” speech?

          • eccdogg says:

            ” Why is the attitude among the “high” part of red tribe culture towards poor whites and poor blacks so different? ”

            From my experiences the attitudes are not different. I grew up in a mid-sized southern city that consistently votes Republican. It was split ~1/3 middle/upper-middle class whites, ~1/3 African Americans (mostly poor but with small middle class), ~1/3 low class whites. The latter two groups were viewed pretty equally by the first. The poor whites were called white trash, rednecks, trailer trash, etc.

          • Aapje says:

            Thought experiment:

            What would have happened if the Appalachians would have been fed a ‘smurf’ pill on Ellis Island, turning them blue?

            Currently they are not recognized as a separate race and thus their very bad average group outcomes are often ignored as they are lumped in with the other groups of whites, who are generally far more successful.

            But as smurfs, they would have been visible much more in the statistics and the kind of automatic assumption that often happens about black Americans (bad outcomes is due to discrimination) could then be applied to them.

          • Nornagest says:

            There’s an Avatar joke here, but I can’t quite make it work.

          • Brad says:

            Forget the insults, who cares. I know plenty of people that call family members all kinds of nasty names, but are still there to bail them out time and time again.

            Look at the policy positions. Compare the calls for ever increasing prison sentences for crack, and resistance to lowering them even to this day, to all the compassion in the world for opioid addicts. Compare the ignorant ranting and raving about obamaphones or TANF to how the red tribe treats the incredible growth of SSDI. Not only isn’t it condemned in welfare-queen type language, but all of sudden everyone is an expert on disincentives to work and wants to loosen the rules.

            Issue after issue is like this. If the high red tribe were really so offended and disgusted by ‘bad’ culture than they wouldn’t share a tribe with the low red tribe.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Setting aside the question of “to what degree are the tribes are shared?” isn’t just this a fully general counter argument?

            ETA:
            IE if Democrats were truly opposed to political violence they wouldn’t share a culture with people like Hodgkinson or the Anti-fa.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think part of what’s screwed over appalachia is that smart and ambitious people tend to leave for places with better jobs, so you might have this pool of smurf-colored dysfunction (genes? culture?), but also a moderately visible smurf diaspora that was more successful.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Thanks for the link, Brad. I am a bit too inebriated to parse academese at the moment but I’ll read it tomorrow on my day off.

            That said, have you spent much time in a culturally “red” environment surrounded by culturally “red” people? I grew up in Monterey and Salinas, CA which I think is safe to call a pretty blue space, ditto Boulder, CO where I spent Jr. High and High school. But setting aside time in the Army, I’ve been living for the past 7 years in deep Red territory. Hell, this is Rush Limbaugh’s home town.

            In that time, I actually HAVE observed rather more racism on the part of both whites and blacks than I have at any other point in my life in the US, and a cultural (or a hybrid model cultural aspects dominant among higher status/wealth individuals, IMO) model is far more consistent with my observations and discussions with black colleagues than the other one.

            As for TANF vs. SSDI, I have not observed any particular disparity there. Generally Red Tribers who are against one are against the other, with most of the ones who are complacement about SSDI being so for entirely selfish reasons (either they or a close family member they like are on it), or because they see it (as many low-information voters do) as simple payback of their personal investment of 10-20 years of social security withholding on their paychecks.

            There’s certainly no difference in the way they view “white” drugs vs. “black” ones, though if by that you mean actual street drugs like (around here) meth. And if you mean prescription painkiller abuse we’re right back to the point about low-income, low-status whites and blacks being more alike than different and being different than higher-income and -status whites and blacks.

            If Thomas Sowell came out with a -codone addiction I think he’d get exactly as much (and as little) slack from Red Tribe culture as Limbaugh did.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m going to begin by saying that the blue/red tribe terminology began useless (as a shorthand for “gun-lovin’ NASCAR-watchin’ good ol’ boys who love guns and NASCAR” vs “latte-sipping champagne socialist elites bickering over whether that production of Turandot was too on-the-nose”) and has become worse than useless (now it’s just shorthand for “right wing” and “left wing” or “Republican” and “Democrat”).

            The elite of the Republican party are not even entirely “red tribe” by the original definition. Probably not even mostly. GWB was borne in Connecticut, went to Yale and Harvard, with roots in the Plymouth colony. Even the ones who are “cultural conservatives” from Texas or wherever are educated elites.

            @brad

            Compare the calls for ever increasing prison sentences for crack, and resistance to lowering them even to this day, to all the compassion in the world for opioid addicts.

            Is this really the case? The compassion I see for opioid addicts comes from left-wingers, because it fits into their disease-theory-slash-utilitarian view of addiction. Every article in the New York Times or New Yorker or whatever I’ve read about the heroin epidemic in small-town America takes a sympathetic view, and usually finds some drama in sympathetic locals vs unsympathetic locals – the latter being, it is implied, Republicans. Even if they’re setting up a good-cop-bad-cop play (“see the sympathy we, the good people, have for these unfortunate addicts, even though they maybe voted for you-know-who; far more sympathy than some of those closer to them, who definitely did”) I would guess that the Republican view of “what do we do about all these poor white people OD’ing on heroin” is much less friendly than the Democrat view, on average.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ dndnrsn
            I disagree that the tribe model is useless.

            I hold that there is a significant cultural split in the US that maps somewhat roughly to Scott’s theory of Thrive vs. Survive and that we need some way to describe it. Where people go wrong is conflating culture and politics. Yes one informs the other but they are still separate. There is nothing incongruous in being a “blue” conservative or “red” liberal.

            In fact I would posit that “polarization” in the US is what happens when “Red” Democrats or “Blue” Republicans (note that I used the actual party names this time) stop being a meaningful power bloc in their respective parties.

          • Matt M says:

            Look at the policy positions. Compare the calls for ever increasing prison sentences for crack, and resistance to lowering them even to this day, to all the compassion in the world for opioid addicts. Compare the ignorant ranting and raving about obamaphones or TANF to how the red tribe treats the incredible growth of SSDI.

            And yet, opiods remain just as illegal as crack is. White people get arrested for drugs all the time. Meth is thought of as a lower-class destructive thing the same way crack is.

            And isn’t it a blue tribe meme to point out that most welfare goes to white people? And somehow, that doesn’t result in the red tribe suddenly saying “whoops, guess I’m in favor of more welfare now!”

          • Matt M says:

            I think part of what’s screwed over appalachia is that smart and ambitious people tend to leave for places with better jobs, so you might have this pool of smurf-colored dysfunction (genes? culture?), but also a moderately visible smurf diaspora that was more successful.

            Is this not true for African Americans as well?

            I’ve certainly met a few whose story is basically “Out of my five siblings, I was smart and worked hard and made something of myself such that I am now meeting you in upper-middle class suburbia. The rest of my family is still dirt poor, living off welfare, and each have five kids back in rural South Carolina.”

            Or does even entertaining this notion make me racist?

          • Brad says:

            @hlynkcag

            ETA:
            IE if Democrats were truly opposed to political violence they wouldn’t share a culture with people like Hodgkinson or the Anti-fa.

            I don’t think the situations are comparable. A better comparison would be something like lawyers or bankers, and I do think that Democrats/Blue Tribe is fundamentally okay with them regardless of occasional rhetoric to the contrary.

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            That said, have you spent much time in a culturally “red” environment surrounded by culturally “red” people?

            No. It’s been hours total in nearly four decades.

            As for TANF vs. SSDI, I have not observed any particular disparity there. Generally Red Tribers who are against one are against the other, with most of the ones who are complacement about SSDI being so for entirely selfish reasons (either they or a close family member they like are on it), or because they see it (as many low-information voters do) as simple payback of their personal investment of 10-20 years of social security withholding on their paychecks.

            Are you just explicating the mechanism whereby the phenomena I mentioned takes place on the ground? What I’m saying is that there’s a kind of fundamental attribution error going on. In and of itself, that’s entirely normal. But if the groups are defined on the basis of skin color, that’s a problem. Maybe not if there were also a geographic component and the poor blacks were all far-group while some poor whites were near, but there are substantial black populations all across the old south.

            On your larger point, I can accept that there’s a substantial cultural element in a larger sense of this group is Other in part because they speak, dress, and act differently. What I find to be a ridiculous idea is that Matt M’s notion what’s really going on in red tribe is that all the virtuous red tribe folks are super offended by misogyny in rap music and the out of wedlock birthrate. As if there were some sort of ranking of cultures by moral values and how they decided to interact with each one was based on those rankings. As I said above, it’s reifying a steelman which is not a reasonable thing to do.

            @dndnrsn

            Is this really the case? The compassion I see for opioid addicts comes from left-wingers, because it fits into their disease-theory-slash-utilitarian view of addiction. Every article in the New York Times or New Yorker or whatever I’ve read about the heroin epidemic in small-town America takes a sympathetic view, and usually finds some drama in sympathetic locals vs unsympathetic locals – the latter being, it is implied, Republicans.

            I read and heard several stories about how red states or red areas in red states are treating the rise in opiod addiction as a health crisis and are trying a variety of new approaches, instead of just harsher and harsher criminal law crackdowns.

            FWIW as a general matter I think that’s great. I don’t begrudge people that used to disagree with me coming around. I just don’t know if there new nuance would survive if the next addiction wave were centered in black communities rather than white ones.

          • Matt M says:

            To take a few steps back, I am sorry to say that although I am a fan of both rap AND Johnny Cash, I’ve never actually heard that argument before. Is it more related to his personal life (drug addiction, failed marriage), or his songs?

            If the latter, I would imagine things like “shot a man in reno, just to watch him die” are considered the main culprits… of course the very next line ends with “I hang my head and cry” and the main point of the song is that crime is stupid, mamma was right that you shouldn’t play with guns, prison is terrible, and criminals mostly deserve to be there. This doesn’t seem to be QUITE the same as how Jay-Z and 50 Cent approach the issue of crime and punishment. Most of his songs about crime generally end with the perpetrator going to jail or being executed, admitting they were wrong and deserved their punishment, and encouraging others NOT to follow in their footsteps.

            And of course, songs about crime are only a small set of his overall library. Aside from tons of gospel songs, there’s also stuff like “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” a salute to a hero of a different race, and perhaps most poignant to this discussion, “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town,” which is about as explicit of a rejection of violent machismo as you’re ever likely to hear.

          • Brad says:

            I’m both a moderate fan of Johnny Cash and don’t think he is a very good example. So can’t help you there. But how about Hank Williams Jr’s “A Country Boy Can Survive” — it has illegal alcohol manufacturing, glorifying vigilante justice, and insinuations of violent resistance to eviction (at least I think that’s what he means).

          • eccdogg says:

            I too am both a fan of 90’s gangster rap and Johnny Cash style outlaw country and I agree the comparison does not quite work. Most of Cash’s song are cautionary tales.

            This is the end to Cocaine Blues

            The judge he smiled as he picked up his pen
            Ninety nine years in the Folsom pen
            Ninety nine years underneath that ground
            I can’t forget the day I shot that bad bitch down
            Come on you gotta listen unto me
            Lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be

            Hank Williams Jr is probably a better comparison. You can’t find many cautionary tales in his songs and you can find more embrace of bad behavior.

            “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound’ celebrates drunkenness and infidelity
            “All my Rowdy Friends” is wistful for days of drunkenness and drug use.
            “Family Tradition” also excuses drunkenness, drug use, and womanizing.

          • Matt M says:

            Right, I won’t pretend there are NO glorification of violence in “white music”, it just seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

            Hell, “Copperhead Road” leaves you on a cliffhanger where the assumed ending is that the protagonist is about to shoot down a DEA helicopter with a rocket launcher or something!

          • AnonYEmous says:

            If you want a comparison to some popular rap then how about:

            https://genius.com/Bobby-shmurda-hot-nigga-lyrics

            I been sellin’ crack since like the fifth grade

            GS9, I go so hard
            But GS for my gun squad
            And, bitch, if it’s a problem we gon’ gun brawl
            Shots poppin’ out the AR

            ———–

            I mean, the song bangs. Love it. In fact, I decided to start listening to it because I wrote this post and it’s playing Youtube as I speak. But in case reading the lyrics didn’t clear things up for you: the artist and the people in his friend group who he signs about are all murderers and drug dealers and very happy about this. And in case you think this is all hyperbole on his part:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Shmurda

            Police said Shmurda was “the driving force” in a gang also known as GS9, the name of his label…James Essig, head of the NYPD unit that made the arrests, said Shmurda’s songs and videos were “almost like a real-life document of what they were doing on the street.”[27]

            Oh, and most importantly: the moral of this song is “kill people and sell drugs and your life will be great like mine, women will give you head and you will have lots of money to spend”. I don’t know if I care about this or not, mind, but there it is.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @hlynkacg

            I disagree that the tribe model is useless.

            I hold that there is a significant cultural split in the US that maps somewhat roughly to Scott’s theory of Thrive vs. Survive and that we need some way to describe it. Where people go wrong is conflating culture and politics. Yes one informs the other but they are still separate. There is nothing incongruous in being a “blue” conservative or “red” liberal.

            The problem is that it started with a stereotype that does not describe the reality of being a right-winger or a left-winger in the US. I don’t know what % of Republican voters are good ol’ boys, but educated professional-class types are a minority of Democrat voters.

            The thrive-survive theory predicts voting right (in the US, Republican) or left (in the US, Democrat, although they’re not that left) based on whether one is surviving or thriving, right? But black people vote 90% D, and can they really be said to fit the model? Are they closer to thrive, or survive?

            A theory of whether people go D or R that ignores the most reliable D voting bloc (to the point that the strategy becomes about mobilizing votes vs suppressing them among black Americans, not winning them over, for D and R respectively – the Ds know they have 90% of those who vote and likely figure the 10% have insurmountable reasons not to; the Rs likely figure the inverse) seems rather feeble. Both the “tribes” model and the “thrive vs survive” model are built around white Americans, who are 3/4 of the American population…

            And, it’s just become political shorthand. We might as well call them the People of the Donkey and the People of the Elephant.

            In fact I would posit that “polarization” in the US is what happens when “Red” Democrats or “Blue” Republicans (note that I used the actual party names this time) stop being a meaningful power bloc in their respective parties.

            So, white Democrats in the South are not really much of a thing any more, and working-class white Democrats in the north are a weak spot for the party. However, the leadership of the Republican party is a well-educated elite, and I suspect many of them sip lattes when they’re sure there’s no cameras.

            The economic-leftist model (which was the left-liberal model of 10-20 years ago; since largely supplanted by a more idpol-friendly model) of the Republican party is that it’s economic elites using various appeals they don’t intend to go through with (to religion, to racism, to anxiety about immigration, etc) to bamboozle non-affluent whites into voting for them.

          • And, it’s just become political shorthand. We might as well call them the People of the Donkey and the People of the Elephant.

            I don’t think so. Red/blue as used here correlates with party, but it isn’t the same thing.

            One of the striking things about the most recent presidential election was a lot of blue collar workers shifting from D to R. I don’t think anyone is arguing that they were shifting from blue tribe to red tribe.

            A binary division isn’t going to do a very good job of categorizing everyone–libertarians, for example, make a poor fit with either blue/red or R/D. But it can still point out a significant pattern.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad

            What I find to be a ridiculous idea is that Matt M’s notion what’s really going on in red tribe is that all the virtuous red tribe folks are super offended by misogyny in rap music and the out of wedlock birthrate.

            It’s not that Reds are “offended” by such things but that they believe they are very bad behaviors that contribute significantly to the poor outcomes blacks experience. Reds think blacks should reject violence, crime, drugs and out of wedlock births not because they’re “offensive” but because they cause poverty and screw up neighborhoods and the next generation. And they think the same thing of white trash, too.

            I read and heard several stories about how red states or red areas in red states are treating the rise in opiod addiction as a health crisis and are trying a variety of new approaches, instead of just harsher and harsher criminal law crackdowns.

            When it comes to heroin, the Red answer is “build the wall.” An awful lot of that cheap heroin is coming from Mexico.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ dndnrsn

            it started with a stereotype that does not describe the reality of being a right-winger or a left-winger in the US.

            My whole point is that it was never supposed to do so in the first place. Did you miss the part where I said; There is nothing incongruous in being a “blue” conservative or “red” liberal”? Whether someone is a right-winger or a left-winger is tangential to the phenomena we’re actually trying to describe.

            On the balance we’ve got two dominant subcultures in the US. One of these subcultures is largely insular and explicitly nationalistic. They pride themselves on being “ants” in a world of “grasshoppers”. The other is largely universalist and thus rejects nationalism. They pride themselves on being “the only ones who seriously consider the big picture”.

            The members of the former, being more insular, nationalistic gain and display status through public affirmations of loyalty. Things like public service, going to church on Sundays, rooting for the local sports team, and standing for the national anthem etc… Meanwhile members of the latter display status through the breadth and diversity of their knowledge, experience, and friends. Scott’s Thrive vs Survive comes close to describing this split but there is also an element of HeelBearCub’s Urbane vs Domestic there as well.

            As for your last two paragraphs, this is precisely what the “tribal model” predicts, so the exact opposite of “useless”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @hlynkacg:

            OK, so, the ideal way it might be used, and the way it gets used, are two different things. My point is that it’s gotten so muddled up it causes more confusion than it solves. I think “domestic” vs “urbane” would be a better way to put it, because it doesn’t key to the colours used by the US political parties. Or, “localist” vs “cosmopolitan.” Or whatever.

            And, does the tribal model predict it? It’s been happening for a while, and has been described before the “tribes” terminology popped up. It’s easy to predict the past – predicting the future’s tricky though.

            Now, the terminology of “tribalism” is useful. It describes very well how people take things like political parties and side with them in a way that is extremely unprincipled, but makes perfect sense as far as human social dynamics go.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Compare the calls for ever increasing prison sentences for crack, and resistance to lowering them even to this day, to all the compassion in the world for opioid addicts.

            You’re comparing sentences for crack dealers to compassion for opioid addicts. (I could also mention that those sentences were supported strongly by the community leaders in crack-ridden areas, that they’re not going up now, and that meth is somewhat more comparable to crack and we’re cracking down pretty hard on it.)

            You’re also leveraging stereotypes of conservatives (or just Southern whites?) that may only exist in your head. Frankly, you just sound like you’re ranting about how “those people are bad.”

            Some kind of factual grounding would help your argument.

        • If you want to communicate that it’s about the culture, consider including examples of whites who have those behaviours and blacks who don’t.

          (I keep seeing example of people who are willing to complain long and hard that their culture is misunderstood, but who are not willing to take basic steps to fix the problem).

          • Matt M says:

            Would that help, if the examples were basically “I also hate white people who act black?” I mean, I’m not under the impression that rural, prejudiced, whites would be thrilled if their son or daughter started wearing their pants sagged low, listening to gangster rap music, etc.

            Does that prove that you aren’t racist? Or that you are?

          • hlynkacg says:

            In regards to culture, you can point many “Church and Chitlin’s” blacks who’ve found acceptance among the GOP. It is from these ranks that people like Tim Scott, Mia Love, Herman Cain and Thomas Sowell are drawn.

            Now I’ve heard progressives argue that the this is simply tokenism and that the conservative desire to separate “the good ones” only proves how racist they really are but isn’t identifying “the good ones” and welcoming them into the fold precisely what MLK wished for when he dreamed that his children be “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”?

            Edit:

            Furthermore, as Trofim notes above, white people who “act black” specifically the urban NWA flavor of black are almost invariably viewed as low status themselves. It seems to me that “racism” at least when it comes to blacks in the US has a lot more to do with “normies don’t like surly bastards who let thier underwear hang out in public” than progressives would like to admit.

            Edit 2: somewhat ninja’d by Matt

          • Hating on white people who act black could also be interpreted as anti-black racism at one remove, so it would be better to followup on my original suggestion and mention black people you approve of.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:

            but isn’t identifying “the good ones” and welcoming them into the fold precisely what MLK wished for when he dreamed that his children be “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”?

            Think about that statement for a little bit.

            (Me trying an experiment): Why do you think I am specifically pointing this statement out?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            no one likes wiggers

            source: am one

            oh, and hbc: would you do me and everyone else a solid and explain what you mean instead of doing your best Socrates impression? Thanks in advance~

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ AncientGeek

            it would be better to followup on my original suggestion and mention black people you approve of.

            I just did, and you can add several of the guys I deployed with, a few co-workers, and two of the regular families in my church to that list if you like.

            @HeelBearCub
            I suspect that you’re taking issue with the fact that I feel the need to identify “the good ones” rather than treat everyone equally but I’d rather you just said so.

            That said, if that is in fact your objection, my response is that in an argument between Rousseau and Hobbes I’m backing Hobbes. I hold that nastiness and brutality are the default, and that virtue is a choice.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:

            That said, if that is in fact your objection, my response is that in an argument between Rousseau and Hobbes I’m backing Hobbes. I hold that nastiness and brutality are the default, and that virtue is a choice.

            So the majority of white people are the “bad ones” as well?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @HeelBearCub

            So the majority of white people are the “bad ones” as well?

            If only the line between good and evil were differentiated merely by skin color then civilization would be easy, but alas it cuts right through the human heart.

            My very generic, broad brush model of the Blue Tribe is that they only assign moral agency to white people. An evil white person is evil by choice. An “evil” non-white would have been good if only he hadn’t been driven to evil by whites. For instance, finding the phrase “the good ones” problematic indicates you think they’re all good ones. Is there any race that’s all good ones? Would be nice to have a cheat sheet for good and evil by race.

          • JulieK says:

            If you want to communicate that it’s about the culture, consider including examples of whites who have those behaviours and blacks who don’t.

            Charles Murray wrote a whole book (Coming Apart) comparing the cultures of upper-class and lower-class whites and detailing the dysfunctional behaviors common in the latter group.

          • Matt M says:

            so it would be better to followup on my original suggestion and mention black people you approve of.

            Glenn Beck spent a good year practically tongue-kissing photos of MLK on his show. Did that stop people from calling him racist? Trump trots out Herman Cain and black sheriff dude on a regular basis. Does that get him off the hook? For a non-political example, when the NBA stripped Donald Sterling of his ownership rights for the crime of saying racist things to his girlfriend (who was trying to extort him for cash) in private, people pointed out that Sterling chose to employ and pay millions of dollars to a black head coach. Did that matter?

            Hell, using the phrase “but I have black friends” is now, in popular usage, taken as a positive sign of racism.

          • albatross11 says:

            A lot of this comes down to the fact that there is no way to prove what’s inside your heart. So suppose you are a US elected official who goes to church every Sunday with your family, and I accuse you of secretly being a witch. You might say “wait, that doesn’t make sense, I go to church every Sunday,” but I’ll simply respond that of course you do–that’s how you hide the fact that you’re a witch. Similarly, a lack of any previous involvement in witchcraft doesn’t prove anything–any sensible witch would avoid such things. Even impassioned speeches in opposition to witchcraft and a full-throated demand that the laws against witch burning be repealed may merely be ways you seek to shield yourself from suspicion.

            For people inclined to believe that you’re a witch, almost any evidence that you offer that no, you’re a Methoidist won’t be convincing. We have a worked example of this with Obama, who had substantial numbers of non-crazy, non-stupid people speculating that he was secretly a Muslim, despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary (years of consistent membership in a Christian church, raising his kids as Christians, drinking, etc.). It kinda sounded plausible to people who wanted to believe ill of him and considered “secret Muslim” to be something disqualifying for a preseident, and they had little reason to think critically about it.

            I think the racism accusation has a lot of the same dynamics. (It reminds me a bit of an accusation or rumor that someone was gay, in my youth.) We’re talking about stuff hidden inside your heart, that you’d be ashamed to admit. So all kinds of evidence you offer to the contrary might just be a smoke screen you set up to insulate yourself from the charge of racism. I mean, yes, you associate with a lot of blacks, and hire some for important jobs in your organization. But clearly, that’s just to insulate yourself from the charges of racism we all know are true.

            This is amplified in media outrage fests, where there’s absolutely no incentive for anyone in on the feeding frenzy to back up and try to honestly evaluate the accusation, or think through anything. That’s not a good way to get clicks!

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ HeelBearCub
            People, you, me, everyone, are a bunch of strategically shaved murder-monkeys. The issue is finding monkeys you’d like to share a pen with.

            ETA: …and who’d like to share a pen with you.

        • . Besides, most of the problems with their culture are a direct result of white racism anyway.”

          Are all forms of that argument bad? How about “homosexuals bad, because more likely to commit suicide” versus “homosexuals more likely to suicide, therefore persecuted”.

          • gbdub says:

            Men are much more likely to successfully commit suicide than women. Are men persecuted? Obviously not, their suicides are driven by toxic masculinity and patriarchal culture! (/Sarcasm)

            The problem isn’t that all forms of “discrimination can drive bad behaviors” are bad arguments, it’s that they tend to get applied very selectively. There’s the old saw about how if all the markers where men have it worse than women (more in prison, lower scholastic achievement, more suicides, shorter life expectancy, more deaths at work/in warfare…) were applied to a racial minority, there’d be outrage at the obvious discrimination. It’s got a grain of truth to it.

          • it’s that they tend to get applied very selectively.

            I think you mean that they get applied self-servingly. Selecting for correct causal arrows, moral relevance, etc is just getting things right.

          • gbdub says:

            But the causal arrows are fuzzy and possibly unknowable, and “moral relevance” is subjective. The answer to “are you bad because of persecution, or are you persecuted because you are bad” is usually going to be “some of both”. Assigning all the blame to the one of the other is I think “selective” in the sense I was using it. But sure, self-servingly works too.

          • So what is your point? Stop using any argument of this type? One tribe is entitled to , but the other isn’t? Struggle on with trying to get it right?

          • gbdub says:

            You’re asking me to assert an absolute when my whole intent was to show this is a bad form of argument to assert absolutes about.

            “Discrimination can both cause, and be caused by, bad traits” is not a bad form of argument.

            But “Group A is full of bad people, as evidenced their bad traits, it’s okay to discriminate against them. Group B has similar bad traits too, but that’s understandable because they’ve been discriminated against, so don’t discriminate against them” is a bad form of argument.

            In other words, it’s the inconsistency itself that is the bad form.

          • Why doesn’t that amount to “Struggle on with trying to get it right”?

        • The Nybbler says:

          Blue says “Bullshit. You ignore flaws in other cultures.

          Red: “Oh yeah? Let me tell you about Muslims and Mexicans…”

          I mean, that claim is a no-win for Red.

        • abc says:

          And the rationalist response is or at least should be to demand that people define what they mean by “racism”, and then explain why “racism” as it has just been defined is bad. A better approach is to taboo the word “racism” thus forcing people to make specific examples of behavior they find objectionable.

      • Randy M says:

        If someone opposes something that is cultural, assuming they have a valid justification for it, is it fair to call that racist?

        Fair ain’t got nothing to do with it.

  13. Lasagna says:

    I normally would never print a “this article sucks” post – it’s rude and typically dull – but I was blown away last week. So I nominate this as the worst article I’ve read in, say, ten years. Ten is a nice round number: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/06/against-domesticity.

    I challenge anyone to explain how she managed to work “neoliberal” into this piece and still get published. Hell, I challenge anyone to defend this thing. I would say this was a parody of how the hoi polloi view the Manhattan writer set, but if it is, CA hasn’t revealed the joke yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      My eyes glaze over when I try to read that. TL;DR?

      • Lasagna says:

        That’s a hard request – the article is all over the place. Maybe: “social media technology props up the patriarchy by erasing the difficult aspects of cooking, thus culturally insulting wealthy Manhattanites by suggesting it’s easy to make Thai soup”?

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks.

          I don’t particularly understand what’s so damn hard about cooking, in the age when you can find recipes for just about anything you want to make. Sure, there are recipes which are labour-intensive (like Ruthenian pierogis), time-intensive (like European doughnuts), or requiring a modicum of dexterity/precision (like pancakes) or rare ingredients (like Breton beans) – but I’ve never had problems unless I strayed from following the instructions as given. Thai soup doesn’t seem excessively hard (ingredients may be hard to find in provincial places), certainly not more than Breton beans.

          • Deiseach says:

            I don’t particularly understand what’s so damn hard about cooking, in the age when you can find recipes for just about anything you want to make.

            Listen, I have two cooking methods:

            (a) I boil it
            (b) If I can’t boil it, it goes in the oven

            That’s it. I can’t bake (even Yorkshire pudding goes tragically wrong) and my sister got the hand for pastry from my mother, not me. I can follow recipes just fine, it’s that it never turns out the way it’s supposed to (thank God for Delia Smith and her recipe for baking a ham for Christmas, that has saved my life and sanity so that instead of method (a) – boil on top of the cooker in a huge saucepan for five hours plus, I can safely and reliably use method (b) – stick it in the oven).

            Cooking is an art as much as anything else, and some people are artists while others of us are “yeah just whitewash the fence and don’t get fancy about it” 🙂

            I think Ms Frost is at about my level of culinary talent, but instead of accepting that and adapting to “okay so I can’t make my own Thai soup to my exacting standards”, she’s defensively huffy about it. It’s okay, sister, not everybody is good at everything! But I rather imagine she had a smug image of “housewives? well, aren’t they all dull conservative women who couldn’t cut it in the real world of work?” and she assumed that being a young clever urban professional she could automatically master anything she turned her hand to.

            Except now she finds that no, she can’t cook but one of those dull domestic women she liked to vaguely pity can, and that rankles just a little (when talking about her Kentucky grandmother, she seems not to take into account that if you have nine kids and a house and farm to look after, something you can stick on the stove to simmer for six hours and then leave it alone without needing you to stand over it checking it, so you can get on with the rest of your work, is going to be the necessary way of cooking).

          • Zodiac says:

            I have a friend that needed many attempts to actually make fried eggs His mistake was taking a giant frying pan for a tiny flame and then wondering why the heat wasn’t evenly spread out, his eggs partially burned. He was 20 at the time and had 4 years of cooking lessons in school.
            I don’t get it either but some people seem to have anti-talent for cooking.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            I once met a woman who insisted she couldn’t bake. Not even cakes or muffins. This woman is a chemistry major from MIT who was working in a lab. To this day I still can’t figure that one out.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Listen, I have two cooking methods:

            (a) I boil it
            (b) If I can’t boil it, it goes in the oven

            You do realize this makes you an English stereotype, right?

          • baconbacon says:

            I don’t particularly understand what’s so damn hard about cooking, in the age when you can find recipes for just about anything you want to make.

            Attention, interest, order of operations, substitutes, and expectations.

          • bean says:

            I don’t particularly understand what’s so damn hard about cooking, in the age when you can find recipes for just about anything you want to make.

            But can you execute the recipes? I’m an adequate cook, but it takes me ~50% longer than my mom to do basic recipes. She sort of waves her knife at things, and they fall apart. I can’t do that, and I’m not great at stirring two things on the stove while mixing a third. Someone who wasn’t taught anything is going to have to work even harder to get results.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            I believe some people are so traumatized by their early failures that they just decide they’re bad cooks and don’t try again. My sister started a fire trying to make instant mac and cheese and hasn’t stepped foot in a kitchen since.

            If you can read, you can cook.

          • onyomi says:

            I like cooking and am reasonably good at it; however, I could understand complaints from those who do not and are not (and those two, of course, go together; I do have a hard time, however, understanding the “can’t boil water or make toast” level of cooking incompetence which exists, and it is a little hard for me to square being interested in food, but not interested in cooking, though obviously the two don’t have to go together).

            Cooking is time consuming: first you have to buy the ingredients, then you have to cook, then after you eat, you have to do the dishes. This is why, even liking cooking as I do, I almost never cook anything elaborate if only cooking for myself; doesn’t feel worth the effort and no one to help do the dishes.

            Cooking can be cheap, but only if you know what you’re doing and aren’t attempting to use Mario Batali’s recipe which calls for squid ink, stinging nettles, and saffron. Though one can find cookbooks which include tasty, cheap, healthful, easy-to-make recipes, they are in the minority of cookbooks. Knowing which cookbooks those are itself takes experience.

            A little bit of training from someone who knows what they’re doing in e.g. knife skills goes a long way, but a lot of other cooking skills are pretty specific. Can you wrap a dolma? It doesn’t seem very hard to me, but I couldn’t teach my father to do it to save his life.

            As for that thing people have where they can either cook without a recipe or cook without slavishly following the recipe, that also just comes from experience. For example, when I first started cooking Indian food, I would very carefully measure out 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, etc. because I had no idea what function these mystery ingredients were actually playing in the recipe. Once I had enough experience with these to know which flavors which spices were actually imparting, I could much more successfully improvise and/or play fast and loose with the recipe.

          • baconbacon says:

            I can cook, I have worked in a few kitchens and bakeries, and have been cooking for my family for the past 8 years. I can wander into my kitchen and rummage through what we happen to have around and produce a good meal without a recipe and frequently without any real measuring tools and just eyeballing (and using whatever pre packaged sizes I started with lke a can of tomatoes).

            Cooking isn’t just following a recipe. Either I or my wife make oatmeal for our kids 5 days a week, we do almost the same thing every morning, with the same brand of oats, the same amount of milk, with frozen berries, salt and cinnamon. If you put me in front of a different stove (especially gas vs my electric) or ask me to double the recipe there is a decent chance it burns at least a little to the bottom of the pan (in either of these scenarios I am probably short on sleep due to traveling or visitors so there is that as well). This happens despite having literally cooked oatmeal (super easy) a thousand times.

            When you open a recipe there are lots of standardized parts, for example 1 cup of whole milk should translate across virtually every kitchen. However lots and lots of recipes call for non standardized measures, or non intuitive measures, and other semi vague directions. For example

            2 small/medium/large eggs
            a sprig of rosemary
            cook on low/medium/high heat
            stirring occasionally/often/frequently/constantly
            beat until its the consistency of (pick unclear adjective here)
            mix until it coats the back of the spoon

            If someone says “if you can read you can cook” they are forgetting that there aren’t universal definitions for all these things, and don’t appreciate that they are fortunate that their personal understanding happens to mesh fairly closely to the average uses for cooks.

            Lets take stirring as an example find a bad cook and as them to help you out by stirring something on the stove top, this is a non exhaustive list of things they can do poorly that will negatively effect the outcome.

            1. Stirring to briskly (ie basically beating instead of stirring).
            2. Stirring the center, or edges only, or stirring the center and the edges separately and not mixing between them.
            3. Fiddling with the heat because it looks like it is cooking to fast/slow
            4. Not fiddling with the heat when it is cooking to fast/slow
            5. Pushing stuff around the pan without anything flipping over.
            6. Not taking it off heat (if called for) to stir, or taking it off heat (when not called for) to stir

            There are a lot of things in the kitchen that you can do a little wrong without realizing it. Using a medium instead of a large egg probably won’t ruin your recipe, but using the wrong size eggs, not beating until sufficiently “frothy”, not stirring fast enough or long enough as you pour it into hot milk, not removing the pan from heat while you do so, or not babying the mixture when you return it from heat can leave you will a subpar custard, making 2 or 3 of these mistakes will probably leave you with a total crap fest.

          • random832 says:

            > this is a non exhaustive list of things they can do poorly that will negatively effect the outcome.

            Two additions to the list, which I have both personally done:

            – Not scraping the bottom and sides, and so allowing material that adheres to the bottom and sides to burn.
            – Scraping the bottom and sides when they have already burned but the rest of the pot was salvageable.

          • baconbacon says:

            – Not scraping the bottom and sides, and so allowing material that adheres to the bottom and sides to burn.
            – Scraping the bottom and sides when they have already burned but the rest of the pot was salvageable.

            Gold Jerry, pure gold. There probably deserves to be a separate category for mistakes which are fixable with X at time T, and mistakes that must be fixed with Y at time T+1 and cannot be fixed at time T+2.

          • Artificirius says:

            I think a certain conflation between cooking and baking doesn’t help. Cooking is fairly forgiving of minor transgressions, and exact measure not so critical. Baking, on the other hand, isn’t.

            But leaving that aside, being a good cook requires experience, which requires failure. Persevering in the face of failure is difficult, and in the case of cooking/baking, a far easier alternative is available, IE, restaurants, pre assembled meals, etc.

            Given interest, I am certain I could teach anyone to cook. It’s the interest that is the problem.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            onyomi, one more thing for possible difficulties with cooking: planning.

            This is a part that some people hate, it’s one of the reasons that Blue Apron and the like have customers.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            Not taking it off heat (if called for) to stir, or taking it off heat (when not called for) to stir

            Not doing something that’s called for meets my definition of not being able to read, or at the very least not being willing to. Hopefully it’s obvious I didn’t mean that being able to read is sufficient to cook in the sense of being an Iron Chef contestant. But yes, anyone with literacy should be able to handle every recipe in a beginner’s cookbook on their first try. The only extra advice I’d have is to not serve anything to someone until you’ve tried it out on yourself a few times first.

          • johan_larson says:

            I don’t cook, for several reasons.
            – I was never taught to do so.
            – Attempts to do so on my own were a lot of trouble, created a surprising mess, and yielded disappointing results.
            – I don’t need to cook, since I can easily enough eat out once per day and choose non-cook options for the other two meals.

          • Nornagest says:

            beat until its the consistency of (pick unclear adjective here)

            My grandpa passed down a pancake recipe which describes the proper consistency of the batter in terms of an obsolete motor oil grade. Also contains the delightful phrase “cook until done”.

            I did manage to figure it out (though my sourdough starter still isn’t as good as his was), but it took some experimentation.

          • baconbacon says:

            Not doing something that’s called for meets my definition of not being able to read, or at the very least not being willing to

            Ways to remove something from heat that sound plausible to some % of the population but are wrong

            1. Turn off electric burner, leave pan on burner
            2. Slide pan partially off burner
            3. Move pan to burner that was on recently
            4. Lift pan off burner 5-10 seconds later than it should have been.
            5. Move pan to other surface, especially one that sucks the heat out.

            For an experienced cook “remove from heat” means something specific (but also conditional on the next line). Remove from heat and stir for 5 mins means put the pan down somewhere else, or turn off the gas burner, and continue stirring. For scrambled eggs it means “lift a few inches off the burner, stir/scrape, replace on burner”.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            Whether someone turns the burner off or simply lifts the pan is going to leave them with perfectly serviceable scrambled eggs. Again, I’m not talking about turning people into actual chefs.

          • Lasagna says:

            All of these posts on the joys of cooking are making me really upset about my recent move.

            My family just left NYC for the suburbs – well, it’s been almost a year already, Jesus – for all the usual reasons. On the whole, I’m super glad we did. Love owning a house more than an apartment, much better for the kids, etc. etc.

            But my commute went from 10 minutes (if I took a cab) to an hour and a half in each direction. And I already work kind of long hours. A terrible outcome for several more important reasons, but for the purposes of this thread: I never get to cook anymore.

            I love cooking, but getting home at 8-8:30 and starting to dice whatever ain’t happening. It really bums me out.

            This might be another domino falling. After we left the city, my wife and I started to see the possibilities of life outside of it, and they’re pretty fucking great. And now we’re starting to question if we really need to keep working crazy hours just to live in the New York suburbs. Maybe New Hampshire or Maine or Montana or Virginia (you can tell I’ve never been to a lot of America) might be even better.

          • baconbacon says:

            Whether someone turns the burner off or simply lifts the pan is going to leave them with perfectly serviceable scrambled eggs. Again, I’m not talking about turning people into actual chefs.

            You just conceded the point, a bunch of directions can reasonably be interpreted several ways, the fact that one mistake in and off itself won’t ruin scrambled eggs* isn’t evidence for your position, it is a demonstration that the simplest of all recipes has some room for interpretation. Most simple dinner recipes are 3-4x as complex as scrambled eggs in terms of steps or ingredients.

            * my 4 year old disagrees, he loves scrambled eggs and when I botched a batch in this way as a time saving effort while handling my 2 year old he refused to eat them. Everyone is a critic!

          • Deiseach says:

            You do realize this makes you an English stereotype, right?

            Why do you think there is no world-renowned British Isles cuisine? 🙂

            As for the comments lower down about electric cookers and leaving pans on the heat, oh yeah. I was raised in a house with a gas cooker and we only switched to an electric cooker a few years back. Turn the gas ring off, the heat goes off immediately. Leave the pan sitting there, no problem about over-cooking or burning. Do the same with an electric cooker (particularly a ceramic hob) and big mistake 🙂

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            You just conceded the point…

            If by conceded the point you mean I admitted there are trivial disagreements over how to interpret something like “remove from heat” which in simple dishes will not effect the final quality of the meal anyway (my apologies to your 4 year old here), sure. I’d just argue that’s a pedantic point, and that it doesn’t change the fact that anyone who can follow simple directions can prepare a very good meal. The only real disagreement I can see here is over what counts as “cooking”. I think being able to make a handful of dishes fits the bill. Then again, I think memorizing a handful of chord progressions means you can play the guitar. It won’t impress anyone who is serious about the instrument, but it’s more than enough to entertain yourself and others.

          • baconbacon says:

            If by conceded the point you mean I admitted there are trivial disagreements over how to interpret something like “remove from heat”

            Nope. I mean you have conceded the point that literacy alone isn’t enough to follow every, or even most, instructions for an inexperienced cook.

            For homework define the terms cream, whip, beat, fold, mix, and stir in an easy to understand (for a complete novice) way. Then specify how you should alter your cooking time and technique for a gas vs electric range for 3 recipes that benefit from the explanation, and then a brief discussion on how to determine how hot your burners are on low, medium and high compared to what the average recipe writer experiences. We will leave adjustments for ambient temperature, humidity and elevation for next week.

            which in simple dishes will not effect the final quality of the meal anyway (my apologies to your 4 year old here)

            Yes they will. My 4 year old notwithstanding crappy scrambled eggs (and still we are talking the absolute bottom of simple meals, half a step above making toast from pre sliced bread) quickly become cold and crappy scrambled eggs after you push them around with your fork for a few mins.

            Expectations also matter, people with no experience cooking usually eat consistently (if consistently bad) cooking at take out joints, large chains or from their grocer’s freezer. Putting in any amount of time and effort and having the result come out worse than that makes eating very unappealing.

          • cthor says:

            One reason cooking might be a harder skill for an autodidact to learn than might be expected is that failing *really* sucks. Not only did you fail—which feels bad enough by itself—your ingredients are spoiled, you’re still hungry, *and* you have to clean everything up. It’s a triple whammy of suck.

            Beginner mistakes are usually less punishing.

        • Nornagest says:

          Thai soup’s easy. Vietnamese soup, on the the other hand, is very hard, or at least very time-intensive.

      • J Mann says:

        I think it’s meant to be a amusing riff on “housework is annoying.” No doubt the author has a lot to say about Mondays as well, and cribs about half her essays from old “Cathy” cartoons.

        The individual points don’t sync well, but I don’t think they’re intended to. It’s sort of an SJ Dave Barry writing purportedly funny observations, including:

        – Hipsters who claim that domestic work is easy or fulfilling are annoying. (Cf. any comedy routine in the 90s that mentions Martha Stuart).

        – Hipsters who claim that domestic work is easy or fulfilling are degrading the women of the past, who were martyred under the yoke of soul-crushing domestic chores. (I think meant mostly humorously).

        – Domestic tasks are annoying.

    • qwints says:

      I liked it. And the throwaway line bashing neoliberalism is mandatory for Current Affairs.

    • Brad says:

      I found it amusing in a ‘smart, well read, somewhat tipsy person at a party going off on a weirdly passionate rant’ sort of way. Maybe the author would find that reaction even more offensive than yours. Donno.

    • Aapje says:

      So I nominate this as the worst article I’ve read in, say, ten years.

      It’s not even the worst I read today.

      It’s even semi-correct if you strip away the nonsense: having to do labor is unpleasant to the lazy. Not sure how this is different for household labor vs paid labor or what makes this feminism.

      I challenge anyone to explain how she managed to work “neoliberal” into this piece and still get published.

      The argument is presumably that neoliberalism has increased the pressure on laborers to work more efficiently, thus making paid labor less pleasant; which has resulted in people finding their happiness in the home.

      The author is a commie, who is upset that the proletariat is not resisting effectively. A female Freddie deBoer, as it were.

      Hell, I challenge anyone to defend this thing.

      It seems well suited for hate reading.

      • Lasagna says:

        What made me initially hesitant to post this is that I LIKED that article you just linked to. I thought it was reasonably interesting and challenging; definitely well written. It’s not like I had something against her work going in.

        But articles like the one I linked to just makes me go “ah, another one.” Another person who thinks they’re defending the proletariat from Park Slope by righteously complaining about problems no one else on earth would view as such (“Fathers get too much credit for child care and cooking!” What?). That topic’s been done to death, though, particularly at SSC and by better writers than me, so no need to revisit.

        What struck me about this article, though, is it so confused. Just weird unfocused anger in search of a victim. I mean, CA just published “In Defense of Liking Things (https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/05/in-defense-of-liking-things),” which seems to run directly counter to it.

        • Aapje says:

          I do understand the point though. Just like the article that I linked to, she is upset that people are prioritizing irrelevant things over effective activism. I suspect she thinks she is being clever/effective by packaging it this way for the current affairs audience (I’m not sure who that audience is, so she may be right, if it’s young women from Brooklyn).

          Honestly, she seems like a bright youngster, with critical thinking ability, so with some more life experience and such, she might turn out well.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Very dull but hardly the worst in 10 years. It’s basically a rant on quaaludes, which misses the whole point of a rant. I suspect “neoliberal” got through because the editor’s eyes had glazed over by then; the only real question was whether it filled the ad-hole, and obviously it did.

      I was going to object to this:

      seize the hot bar at Whole Foods and you’ve got yourself a ready-made Soviet-style cafeteria

      on the grounds that Whole Foods is a bit high end for the Soviets, but actually my local WF hot bar seems to always be down to nothing but asses and ends, so just add a long line for it and you’re there.

      I was going to go off on the part about women and immigrants doing unappreciated highly skilled labor to feed people, pointing out that while cooking CAN be highly skilled labor, it often isn’t, especially when feeding large numbers of people cheaply. But the rest of the article pretty much sapped my will, so, meh.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      Yeah, you’re missing some important nuances here. To begin with, all of Amber A’Lee Frost’s writing that I’ve seen is humorous and usually self-mocking in tone. Not to say the main argument isn’t sincere, but it’s supposed to sound a little crazy. I also think many of its points are quite sound: I find those time-lapse cooking videos seductive for making it look so easy, but *of course* it’s not always that easy in practice.

      I don’t understand the indignation of commenters here at the statement that housework is real work, and that such work has usually been done by women. Which statement of fact do you dispute? (Chesterton, as I recall, said much the same thing, though he drew a different moral.)

      • Catlick says:

        I’m a satisfied Current Affairs subscriber, and have liked some of Frost’s work in the past, but I was not a big fan of this one. My major complaint was what felt like the shoe-horning of patriarchy/misogyny into it. I know she’s trying to be funny, but as you say, the main argument seems sincere.

        Sure, the time-lapse cooking videos make it look easier than it is. But so do the image series posted online of DIY carpentry projects. Is that the misandristic suppression of the drudgery of traditionally masculine work? Or is it just that it’s boring to show 20 pictures of someone cutting up pieces of wood with a table saw, just like it’s boring to show a video where someone stands there chopping up greens for a minute straight.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      If enjoying things is evil, people are just going to start thinking Sauron’s not quite that bad a guy.

    • kenziegirl says:

      I’m gonna join in the chorus of people saying this wasn’t that bad. The core of the article makes some good points and addresses a genuine issue in housekeeping. She’s exactly right about those Tasty videos – I’ll go ahead and lump those in with the Instagrams of twee “Bento-box” school lunches and precious bathroom decor. It all paints a euphoric, idealized picture of homemaking and it can be fun to look at, but absolutely dangerous for a schlub like me to start making comparisons, as I get up off my sagging couch and dump some chicken nuggets on my kid’s plate while I warm up a frozen pizza. It’s all fodder for the “Mommy Wars”, you know? And it does drive me crazy that all those cute blogs make it sound like it’s easy to have a home-cooked meal and a clean house in just 30 minutes a day! It’s not realistic, and people learning how to do this stuff for the first time had better be prepared to put in the work. Sure, find ways to make it fun if that works for you, but housework takes time, it takes effort, it takes planning and prep. There’s no getting around it. If I could afford a cleaning service I would jump all over it.

      • AnthonyC says:

        Agreed. I have no kids (hence a lot more free time than those who do). I love to cook (my wife does too) but generally avoid complex recipes except for special occasions. I have no talent for presentation (food, decor, or otherwise).

        I get lots of compliments on my food, but even I get annoyed by the people that insist on bragging with “You don’t make your own pickles/pizza dough/bacon? But it’s so easy!” And I know how to do all those things, I just don’t want to bother. I try not to inflict that or worse on those without talent/experience/interest.

        • baconbacon says:

          But pickles are so easy, my 4 year old makes his own pickles! All you need is water, salt, cucumbers and grape leaves.

          Hmm? Oh, no I don’t know where they sell grape leaves, we have grapes in our garden, so I just go pick a few when we make pickles. I guess just plant some grapes in your yard and wait 2-3 years, then pickles!

          Cooking is just another example of how there is no average.

          • Nornagest says:

            You don’t buy grape leaves, you steal them from your neighbors.

            And if you can’t get grape leaves, oak leaves (or any other leaves high in tannin) work just as well. You could probably even use wood chips, though don’t quote me on that.

            Getting suitable cucumbers is harder. If you use the kind you typically get at the store and try to ferment them into pickles, you will get a mushy mess; you need pickling cucumbers, which are smaller, much firmer, and far harder to find.

          • pontifex says:

            Be careful with wood chips. A lot of the stuff that is used in landscaping is treated with nasty chemicals that you don’t want in your food. If you didn’t make the chips yourself out of a log, I’d stay away.

            Homebrew stores sell food-safe oak cubes. Not sure if that would work, but it certainly has tannin.

          • Eric Rall says:

            There are also food-safe hardwood chips sold for use in smoking and barbecuing. I’ve got some of those that bought off Amazon I use for oak-aging homemade vinegar.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            What role are the grape leaves playing? Natural yeasts? I use a live yoghurt starter with good results, but have grape vines on the front balcony, so am open to the possibility.

          • baconbacon says:

            The grape leaves add tannin which inhibits an enzymatic reaction that would break down some of the cellular structure, in short they help the pickle stay crunchy and not go mushy.

          • Eric Rall says:

            What role are the grape leaves playing?

            They’re a source of tannins, which inhibit the pectinase enzyme which would otherwise break down one of the carbohydrates in the cucumber’s cell walls over the course of a long ferment. If you let the pectinase run rampant, you’ll wind up with soft pickles instead of crunchy.

            I’ve seen recipes variously calling for grape leaves, oak leaves, horseradish leaves, a pinch of black tea leaves, or a splash of red wine as a source of tannin. I’ve also seen recipes that call for cutting off the blossom end of the cucumber, which is where most of the pectinase in the cucumbers is stored.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            I see. Thanks to you both. I think I’m achieving something comparable by accelerating the ferment using the lactobacilus starter – certainly I get acceptable levels of crunch up to a couple of months later, after the ferment has completed. But perhaps I’m missing out on heretofore unknown levels of crunchiness. I’ll give it a try next time.

      • J Mann says:

        I don’t make my own pickles, but if I have to take sides between the people who make their own pickles and the people who are annoyed by it, then I’ll have to take the side of the makers.

        Really, the issue is that (a) it is actually not that hard to make your own pickles and (b) the world is full of fulfilling things to do, so (c) it’s not easy to learn to make your own pickles AND become a proficient ballroom dancer AND learn to speak Russian AND have a successful career AND raise a family AND grow your own produce AND train a show dog AND make insightful webcomments, which is why I concentrate on that last thing to the exclusion of the others, as well as hygiene.

        The people who say “hey, you should try making your own pickles, it’s easy!” are actually right, and they’re sharing something they enjoy, which puts them in the same good but mildly annoying place as the people who tell you that you need to travel more or take up bike riding or give up Diet Coke. They’re just sharing what works for them, and if you’re happy with your life, put it on the pile of “maybe I’ll try it someday,” along side ice fissure spelunking and sex trapezes.

        • Randy M says:

          I’ve tried making pickles, but they smelled off a bit and I was worried about contamination, so I haven’t tried it again.

          • Nornagest says:

            Kimchi and sauerkraut are both easier than pickles and use the same basic process, so they might be worth trying first.

          • Randy M says:

            How can one be easier than the other? They are both just “put vegetables into salt water”–right?

          • Nornagest says:

            Pickles are more sensitive to fermentation time, mostly. Whether you ferment sauerkraut for a week or a month, you’ll end up with perfectly good sauerkraut; whether you end up with good pickles depends on your tolerance for sourness in pickles and on the cucumbers you picked and on the amount of tannin in your solution.

            Fermentation proceeds faster in higher ambient temperatures, so that matters too.

          • Brad says:

            How would you know if the kimchi was spoiled?

            (Actually I love it, but that was a gimme.)

          • J Mann says:

            We subscribed to Blue Apron this month, and they love “quick pickles” – basically 30 minutes or so soaked in vinegar and spices.

            During the summer, my dad used to always have a big jar of pickled watermelon rinds in the fridge. Man, I loved those things – I’ll need to figure out how to do it.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      let’s see:

      Amber A’Lee Frost

      Complains of misogyny

      yeah, that’ll do it every time. I’ll never forget my first introduction to her – Freddie posted an article by her to prove sexism was real, and then the article contained no proof of sexism but rather proof of stupid behavior on her part. That’s also when I started to wonder if Freddie was honestly that thick on these issues, as opposed to pretending for progressive cred to enable his pushing of socialism.

      • Aapje says:

        Freddie seems honestly thick on racism/sexism/etc. AFAIK, he believes quite strongly in the SJ model of privilege.

        • episcience says:

          You are both using a particularly non-standard version of “thick” which appears to mean “disagrees with me personally”.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Pretty sure that *is* the standard version.

          • Aapje says:

            @episcience

            I mean: using obviously cherry picked evidence and based on circular logic.

            I disagree on some matters with David Friedman, but he is not thick on the matters where we disagree, as the disagreement is at a high level of complexity. His wrongness nor my wrongness is obvious.

          • episcience says:

            I think both Freddie and Amber would disagree with your characterisation of their views on racism and sexism. I thought part of the rationalist ethos was “steelmanning” opposing viewpoints, not dismissing views contrary to your own as idiotic or obviously wrong.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I think both Freddie and Amber would disagree with your characterisation of their views on racism and sexism.

            An accusation of circular logic or cherrypicked evidence cannot be agreed or disagreed with; it either is, or isn’t.

            I’m willing to accept views contrary to my own. But Freddie’s and Amber’s are pretty idiotic. And this brings up the question: how, precisely, does one make a determination of idiocy while dodging your accusation? Beyond empirical falsehoods, what could warrant this accusation? Nothing? If so then I reject your paradigm and will continue to call “thick” anyone whom I deem worthy of the title.

          • Aapje says:

            @episcience

            I thought part of the rationalist ethos was “steelmanning” opposing viewpoints, not dismissing views contrary to your own as idiotic or obviously wrong.

            This argument makes no sense, as “steelmanning” is a truth-finding exercise. The idea is that many people are very poor advocates for their position and therefor, that you cannot conclude that their conclusions are wrong just because their arguments are wrong/inconsistent/etc. Instead, you try to fix their position by eliminating the wrong arguments, addressing the inconsistencies, try to find better evidence, etc; while trying to keep the original conclusions. If you can do so, then you can conclude that a solid defense of the position is possible. If not, you weaken the conclusions to something that can be rationally argued for, resulting in a more reasonable claim.

            Steelmanning is not a defense of the reasoning ability of an advocate of an opposing viewpoint, but the opposite. You dismiss him/her as being incapable of making a good defense of a particular viewpoint, so you do that job better yourself.

            To summarize, steelmanning is based on the assumption that people can honestly have very poor arguments for opposing viewpoints and thus is fully consistent with AnonYEmous’ claim that specific people honestly have have very poor arguments for their viewpoints.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Steelmanning is not a defense of the reasoning ability of an advocate of an opposing viewpoint, but the opposite. You dismiss him/her as being incapable of making a good defense of a particular viewpoint, so you do that job better yourself.

            I think you have this entirely inverted. Steelmanning is an attempt to get around your own cognitive biases and failures of reason. We’re strongly tempted to focus on the holes and weaknesses in arguments we don’t like, so we compensate by making a concerted and conscious effort to focus instead on their strongest argument.

          • Aapje says:

            @Jaskologist

            I think that my description is very similar to yours, although mine is better (but I would say that).

            The point of my description is also that you don’t reject an argument completely because it has issues. However, I disagree that you should merely focus on the strongest argument, because doing that puts you at the mercy of whatever cherry picking the other person did.

            If your goal is actually truth-seeking, letting yourself fall victim to one of the main ways in which people are deceived is not productive.

    • pdbarnlsey says:

      It’s pretty rough. In particular this:

      coconut milk burns easily

      is untrue for almost all values of “burns”.

      I think it’s basically “here’s a thing I (for the purposes of squeezing out an article to a deadline) don’t like, therefore I will analogise some of its aesthetic features to other things my audience and I don’t like.” without nay unifying central thesis.

      So you get, “cooking is used to keep women in the house, which is terrible, and is also increasingly being done by men, which steals credit rightfully accruing to women, and is being made easier and more approachable, which undermines the significance of important female labour”.

      I’m a bit surprised we didn’t get cultural appropriation into the mix. That feels like the easy way to go, but maybe it would have made it uncomfortable for her to enjoy and assess a Thai soup under any circumstances.

      Also, sorry Julia Child, but champagne is a pretty terrible match with dessert. Have it with fried chicken!

    • PB says:

      This seemed pretty bad to me because it seems pretty demonstrably false. I’ve gotten a lot into cooking over the last couple of years, and all of the most applauded chefs/cookbooks/recipes in that time have been pretty complex. Kenji Alt-Lopez is one of the most popular chefs out there (his book The Food Lab is great) and he has a meatloaf recipe that is so complicated it inspired a 30 minute podcast.

      • 3rd says:

        It’s not the same (the article I linked feels more constructive), but the general frustration with how demeaning “It’s easy” can feel translates across

  14. Tarhalindur says:

    This article’s posted a link in the subreddit, but I think this may be the more congenial venue.

    I’m bringing up this article because, well, Klein is missing one crucial point and I think that point might be extremely instructive to the history of the last forty years or so.

    See, unless I am seriously misremembering, the Oath Keepers are a bit misrepresentative when it comes to the militia movement. Most of the militia movement (Posse Comitatus, Sovereign Citizens et al) derive back to the John Birch Society and a few other groups that took the label Americanists back in the 1970s. Oath Keepers, however, is something of an outlier – they are fundamentally* a Christian Right organization. And that’s important to the general thrust of Klein’s argument, because by Klein’s schema the Christian Right’s original conception of liberty isn’t natural liberty – it’s hegemonic liberty (with Christ as the ultimate hegemon, of course), especially in the more elite and more Prosperity Gospel parts of the movement. Or to put it in the Albion’s Seed schema, the Christian Right is the largest Cavalier movement in modern America, and the only one with a mass following. (I doubt it’s a complete coincidence that the Christian Right really took off as a political force at about the point when the traditional Cavalier rationales stopped being acceptable in polite society, though other late 60s/early 70s social changes were also involved.)

    (* – pun fully intended)

    Now, there’s a reason I said original conception of liberty, and it’s the same reason I consider this distinction instructive: I think there’s been something of a fusion between the hegemonic and natural concepts of liberty, and while there’s elements of this dating back at least a century or three I think it’s gone into overdrive in the last 50 years or so driven on overlap between the far edges of the hegemonic liberty Christian Right and the natural liberty Americanists (the classic example of said overlap being, of course, the aforementioned Oath Keepers). That, in turn, might be one of the drivers of modern American polarization; I think there’s an argument to be made that this synthesis brought a bunch of relatively apolitical people with Borderer-ish ideals from the center into Red Tribe, at the cost of hollowing out the center. (I’m not even sure how much confidence I’d put in that argument being right – somewhere between 25% and 50%? – but spitballing here.)

    (Aside: I wonder if a better phrasing of natural liberty would be “freedom to be left alone”.)

    • psmith says:

      Oath Keepers, however, is something of an outlier – they are fundamentally* a Christian Right organization.

      You have some kind of source for this? Everything I’ve seen suggests that they’re as secular as anybody. Here’s the article where Stewart Rhodes first published the idea for the organization. Here’s a mission statement of sorts on their official site. You’ll note that the only mention of religion is to explicitly rule out “acts of aggression against any person based on…religion…”, Christ is never invoked at all, and God is only invoked in direct quotation or reproduction of the official US government serviceman’s oath. (edit: God is also invoked in quotes/paraphrases of George Washington. Mea culpa. Still, pretty anodyne American civic deism stuff.). I’d link the wikipedia page for more of the same, but too many links tends to trip the spam filter. Hell, even the SPLC doesn’t characterize them as religious or religiously motivated–far-right extremists, but not Christian far-right extremists.

      • Tarhalindur says:

        Herp derp, I am in fact apparently seriously misremembering; that’s what I get for posting before double-checking. Oath Keepers only date back to 2009 and I did most of my studying the Christian Right a year before that, that makes it extremely unlikely that they are the group I’m thinking of.

        Double-checking, I was almost certainly thinking of the Promise Keepers and remembered the wrong name. Either that, or my screws crossed with Posse Comitatus, which is the militia movement with Christian Identity ties (I was remembering that Posse Comitatus was secular, which on review is definitely incorrect), but my understanding is that Christian Identity is distinct from the Christian Right and has its origins in the John Birch/Liberty Lobby circles.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      The bite I found too big to swallow was something else. Klein seems to be saying that once you grant that secession is morally justifiable, there’s no limit to secession and subsecession and subsubsecession except finally a war of all against all. Perhaps that’s true in theory, but one would imagine that in practice there would be many factors that limit it. A subgroup could finally be homogeneous enough that they substantially agree on most things, or on enough things to make the pain of even peaceful secession too great. A subgroup could finally be small enough that fear of neighboring subgroups would be enough of an incentive to voluntarily give up further division. And way at the other end of the process, a government could rule gently and even-handedly enough that most everybody buys in, whether they agree with everything or not.

      It’s sort of the old security distinction between intentions and capabilities. I might firmly believe that I or my county or my state have the right to secede, without in any way being inclined to do so. (Did I say “might”? I nearly think I could strike that.)

      That’s not to say everything’s rosy. The Oath-Keepers would not have codified their list of Orders They Will Not Obey unless it seemed to them they might be given such orders, and the list would not be controversial if there weren’t highly-placed people who are inclined to give such orders.

      • Jordan D. says:

        Maybe. Obviously there will be a lot of people who disagree with their commitment not to ‘disarm the American People’ or the one about secession, but I don’t think, for example, there are very many officials who are raring to blockade cities and ‘turn them into giant concentration camps.’ I think it’s pretty much expected that any government would be set against an internal group which supports secessionists, regardless of the morality of secession.*

        I read Klein a little differently- I think he’s arguing that whether or not you grant the morality of any one secession, once you actually accepted that it would end up devolving down to individual levels, at which point the government would not function. You’re right that things never really devolve to the individual level, and that we’d have towns or states or clans, but there would be a trade-off. If the United States dissolved the federal government, there would be a serious sea change in power structures across the world.

        *Frankly, it seems to me that the only OTWNOs that get issued regularly in America are the ones about warrant-less searches and confiscation of property without trial, which really seem to go unremarked upon by such groups.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          I read Klein a little differently

          I may be dim, but your summary sounds right to me, and it’s what I thought I was saying.

          If the United States dissolved the federal government, there would be a serious sea change in power structures across the world.

          Absolutely. But that observation is one of the things that would make me reluctant to participate in a secession.

          Klein seems to be saying that you have to choose between deeming any secession to be illegitimate or else resigning yourself to whatever devolution many levels of freely-chosen secession leads to. The third way, just, I don’t know, governing well so that nobody cares to secede, doesn’t seem to occur to him.

          Maybe I’m just fighting the hypothetical here. If he’s asking me to choose between “California may not legitimately secede from the USA” and “Joe Schmo may legitimately secede from the Free Republic of Larkin Road of Mendocino”, I’m good with that. (I’d pick the latter.) But it seems as sterile as trolleycar problems.

      • Tekhno says:

        Does Klein oppose the separation of the thirteen colonies from the British Empire as well?

        Unless you support world government, there simply has to be some cut off point. You can’t say that all secession below the level you are comfortable with leads all the way to anarchy, but that the level you are comfortable with is stable, without supplying some fairly substantial reasoning as to why this is so. To say that secession is bad because it leads to further secession that leads to disfunction is simply not a quantifiable argument, because you have to address why already existing historical divisions haven’t inexorably broken all the way down to collapse. You have to decide where the scale economies lie. The question is totally about what size government needs to be to be functional, not about secession. That’s much more difficult than simply writing off secession as a solely destabilizing force.

        At every scale of reality, phenomena that are comprised of competing forces have a size range they can operate in. Soap bubbles are found in a certain size range where they are stable for the longest periods, because their existence is a constant battle between gas pressure and surface tension. Stars only exist in a certain size range because without nuclear fusion it is not a star, and once you pile on enough mass to ignite, radiation pressure is in a constant fight against gravity. Once you go outside of these parameters a phase transition into something else occurs. (As an aside, does anyone know if any Marxists, particularly Lenin, ever adressed the “what size range can human society within government exist” question? This seems lurking implicitly in dialectical materialism – which is all about competing forces and how they produce “the transformation of quantity into quality” – but it all seems to be time based rather size based).

        • kleind305 says:

          I’m not opposed to world government on principle, so there’s no inherent contradiction there.

          But from a pure thought perspective, it’s not clear why if secession is acceptable, individual secession isn’t allowed. Certainly, in the counterfactual world where the mere existence of guns ensures that anyone has the ability to freely determine their own destiny (defending themselves against tyranny from any external sources), there’s no reason why an individual couldn’t “secede” and hole themselves up in a remote cabin, pay no taxes, and threaten to shoot anyone who comes near. Or do something more disruptive.

          Obviously, in a practical sense there are real limits, but the majority seem to be the ordinary ones that all warlords struggle with.

          As for the bit about the thirteen colonies, I can confidently say that had I been present, I would have much preferred any of the peace compromises proposed by Lord North or John Dickinson. With a long view of history, it doesn’t seem like Canada or Australia are markedly worse off for not rebelling (though of course things would have been very different were it not for the “shot heard round the world” pushing places like France towards democracy).

          Part III will go up Monday June 26th.

        • Tekhno says:

          @klein

          I’m not opposed to world government on principle, so there’s no inherent contradiction there.

          But if you’re predicting that calls for secession lead to further secession movements down the chain, why doesn’t this work in the other direction? Forming the EU, for example, didn’t lead to an outbreak of serious movements for world governance. There are people who believe in world government, or world societies such as communists, but they are a marginalized minority much like the people who want everything to devolve down to the county sherrif level.

          But from a pure thought perspective, it’s not clear why if secession is acceptable, individual secession isn’t allowed.

          I don’t think this sort of a deontological rights model is the best one for predicting the downstream outcome of secession movements on further calls for secession. Usually a secession movement is only going to succeed when there are a large group of people with a particular grievance secession adresses. Further secession after that might no longer adress that grievance. Purely philosophical objections to being a part of any government at all don’t hold much sway at any time outside of a very very small group of people.

          I think it does have an effect under certain constrained conditions, and say, Britain seceding from the European Union might empower the Scottish independence movement, but that’s not because of some abstract deontological desire to secede from larger governments, but due to pre-existing faultlines based on specific issues of grievance. For example, it’s very unlikely that Brexit would lead to an outbreak of county level nationalism, and in time lead to anarcho-capitalist revolts everywhere.

          In the American context, the movement for state’s rights is similarly based on grievances that appear more abstract but probably have a more specific historical core to them. The simple fact is that state’s rights inside the context of the union has some weight among conservatives, whereas outright splitting the United States up into separate states does not, and going down to the county level being batshit insane to most people on the right. Maybe it should in the world of deontological consistency, but I don’t think this is what we’d actually see if the state’s rights movement was actually successful. The oathkeepers will probably be never more than a minority. They might even decline if further powers were transferred to the states.

          With a long view of history, it doesn’t seem like Canada or Australia are markedly worse off for not rebelling (though of course things would have been very different were it not for the “shot heard round the world” pushing places like France towards democracy).

          Canada and Australia didn’t rebel, but they still left British rule in the end. Unless you are arguing that violent secession is what justifies a secession singularity, whereas peaceful democratic secession doesn’t.

          • kleind305 says:

            I thought the deontological question was a relevant place to begin the discussion, as the question of “whether any secession is legitimate in theory” seems like a necessary prerequisite before we can examine the legitimacy of any particular movement.

            Politics is just war by other methods, that no violence occurred does not change the question (any more than it would have if the USA decided to peacefully accept the existence of the CSA).

            Obviously it’s not especially “useful” (yet), but I’m planning to get to that stuff in a big way later in the series.

          • Tekhno says:

            Well, I’m keeping it bookmarked.

  15. Levantine says:

    Topic: Security personnel behaviour.
    Thesis: Their rudeness is largely counterproductive for their security systems’ goals (at least the nominal ones).

    To be rude, in the sense of being insulting and contemptuous, is to cause stress without giving an acceptable reason. Stress wonderfully concentrates the mind. It focuses it on eliminating the cause of the stress. Since in the case of rudeness there is no conceivable cause in one’s own behaviour, the person stressed by the security officer
    a) becomes keenly focused on understanding things like:
    the police work, the policeman’s mindset, the exact way particular a operation of theirs is being run
    b) develops a sizeable grudge against the police and some wider group of people to which they belong and which they serve. *

    Generating (a) + (b) is something no security system should wish for (excepting some special cases). Generating (a) + (b) is also an indication of a conceptual systemic flaw, a strategic disaster.

    * The above was just an abstraction of my own reactions to a couple of incidents, both slight & run-off-the-mill, with the police personnel of Central & Eastern Europe.

    If this argument were an ocean liner, I’ve no idea what icebergs it could come across, I’ve no idea how far it could go, what space it could cover.
    But I’m pretty sure it’s better than thoughtless placidity about security staff rudeness.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Eh, I thought the purpose was twofold:

      1) To indulge in their power over you; they can be rude and you can do nothing about it

      2) To provoke you into escalating the situation to the point where they can use violence, which again you can do nothing about.

      • Civilis says:

        Thinking while typing here, so this isn’t particularly coherent.

        Law enforcement as a career appeals to a number of different types of people; some are the ‘protect and serve’ mindset, while others are of the ‘respect my authority’ mindset. Some law enforcement jobs are going to be better than others, with more pay or prestige but requiring more skills and effort to obtain, so there’s going to be some sorting with the best law enforcement officers (skill and effort, not necessarily mindset) being predominantly found at the jobs that require their skills.

        At the top, the federal agents. If I recall right, at one point you required a degree in law or accounting to be a FBI agent. Below that, it’s a little murky; I can’t say if a NYPD detective is generally more prestigious than a Secret Service Uniformed Division officer. In most cases, I’d say that those trained (however loosely) to make arrests and carry a service weapon out-status glorified night watchmen who sit and monitor a metal detector day in and day out.

        I think, at some level, that it’s good that society can find a productive use for people with the ‘respect my authority’ mindset, especially one where that mindset can be controlled. There are always people that want to ‘indulge in their power over others’, and they will always be drawn to jobs that let them carry that out.

        I think the number of people that want to use violence against others is rather rare these days, especially in the ‘respect my authority’ mindset, and it’s a good thing we’ve bred that out. However, I think that the stresses inherent in that mindset, coupled with the fact that the TSA is staffed with people from the lower skills and effort end of the potential law enforcement distribution means that mistakes, rudeness and even violence is unavoidable.

        • Jordan D. says:

          It’s very true that the TSA has much lower recruiting standards than law enforcement or investigation agencies, but I think it’s hard to say how much of the negative press is due to that versus the fact that the TSA process umpteen bajillion people per day while most metal detector posts rarely have a queue.

          • Civilis says:

            In some sense, it’s a perfect storm.

            Flying is stressful even without the security theater. The TSA has a lot higher chance to make a mistake than the security guy at your local courthouse due to the high stress, and the higher traffic means more opportunities to make a mistake. Further, a lot of people have flown, and have had to deal with the TSA’s indignities, meaning stories about TSA screw-ups are things people can identify with. For many people, the TSA is the only real security they have to deal with; I’ve worked at two jobs which required me to go through a metal detector every day, and I’m used to it. Someone that isn’t used to it, especially someone having to hustle kids with them, is a prime grounds for something going wrong.

            At some level, it’s a companion to all those ‘jobs going away thanks to automation’ stories. We have a case where too many jobs seem to be defined by requirements unobtainable by a significant fraction of the workforce, especially unwritten requirements. It would be great to weed out the ‘respect my authority’ mindset people from taking jobs with law enforcement, but there’s no way to do that and if we did we wouldn’t have enough people interested in taking the jobs.

          • Matt M says:

            I also have SOME sympathy for the TSA, based on how most people just completely ignore them. Pay close attention to what people around you are doing. No matter how many times the TSA lady rudely yells “EVERYONE HAS TO TAKE THEIR SHOES OFF” my estimation is that up to 1/3 of people will still try and go through with their shoes on. No wonder they’re grouchy…

          • I have some sympathy for individual TSA workers, many of who are probably reasonably nice and responsible people. I have no sympathy for the organization.

            They have set things up so that their employees get to go through my luggage when I am not present. That’s an obvious opportunity for both theft and vandalism. The simplest solution would be for the note they put in your suitcase saying they have searched it to include an ID number for the employee who did so. That way, if there were a lot of complaints about one employee, they could investigate.

            The private organization that they subcontract security to at SFO does that. TSA, as of the last time I got such a note, doesn’t. The obvious explanation is that they don’t care if their employees rob or vandalize the luggage–perhaps even that they prefer not to know about it.

            As some further support for that view, when it actually happened to me and I tried to report it to the local TSA office I called many times, never got anyone to answer, never got a call back.

          • Jordan D. says:

            That seems like a perfectly reasonable stance.

            The TSA is sort of the ultimate nuisance; it’s annoying to deal with at the airport and you can’t really pretend that it’s in service of any real purpose, given how consistently it fails tests to measure how good it is at catching weapons. Heck, waiting in line at the DMV, I can at least tell myself that the whole system of licensing and registration serves some positive end.* The TSA just feels like the system forcing me to take my shoes off for the sake of annoying me.

            The only other time I had problems at a checkpoint was when I took a trip to visit relatives in Canada. The border guards started by asking some pretty reasonable questions about weapons and contraband, then got weirdly fixated on the fact that we were planning to give the relatives a home-made quilt and kept asking for more details about it, staring at it suspiciously. Maybe they thought the quilt was worth enough to assess a gift tax or something.

            *Honestly I have no idea if it does or not.

          • Civilis says:

            There’s a real problem in trying to evaluate the performance of someone you don’t want to deal with. What does a positive interaction with a police officer look like? Perhaps “I was speeding, but he let me off with a warning,” but in most cases, if you’re interacting with a police officer, it’s not a good thing and you’re not going to be in a mood to rate the officer’s behavior well even if he does nothing wrong.

            The other side of the evaluation process is that any system that penalizes employees for poor performance based on evaluations by ‘customers’ (loosely used) incentivizes bad behavior by ‘customers’. An obvious example is tips; if you know your tip depends on tolerating a poor customer, you accept behavior you wouldn’t otherwise tolerate. The one time you can count on a poor evaluation is a dispute between the customer and the employee, even if the customer is at fault.

            The TSA by its nature is victim of both problems. If they’re doing their job, you don’t notice them. Nobody wants to interact with the TSA, therefore almost any interaction is going to be regarded poorly. Any legitimate complaint is going to be lost in a sea of frustrated travelers that blame the TSA for something beyond it’s control, and the TSA’s reputation is in the sewer anyway, so there’s no reason to worry about customer service reputation.

    • sourcreamus says:

      Someone who was much better acquainted than I about getting into fistfights with strangers told me that the worst thing you can say to someone who is acting threatening is “I don’t want any trouble”. That always guarantees a fight.
      This is because the type of person who would get into fights with strangers is always looking for weakness. If they find it, they are encouraged to lash out. Police always make sure to never project weakness for this reason. Some people would mistake politeness for weakness so most police are ruder than they need to be.
      Some security personnel are trying to act like police in a situation that does not call for it.

      • hlynkacg says:

        There is certainly an aspect of that.

        Between working in EMS and in the service industry I’ve had occasion to deal with quite a few belligerent drunks and the most reliable way to deescalate that sort of thing was to project calm.

      • iloveSSC says:

        Interesting! So if “I don’t want any trouble” is the worst thing to say, what’s the best?

        • hlynkacg says:

          Getting aggressive may work but also carries a significant risk of further escalation if you misjudge so I’d recommend against it unless you’re absolutely sure of your position.

          As I said above IME the most reliable method of deescalation is to project calm confidence (even if you don’t feel it). More often than not they’re either trying to intimidate or get a rise out of you and if you don’t seem intimidated or risible they’ll either back off or switch tactics.

          • Mediocrates says:

            Just posting to say that I really like that use of “risible”.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            What sort of things would one say while projecting calm?

          • Vermillion says:

            Depends on the context, I’d say the main thing is you don’t want to be perceived as, weak or afraid, belligerent, contemptuous or indifferent. So acknowledge them, their apparent grievance, then offer a response that provides an out to deescalate.

            An example from personal history: I’m leaving a bar when a large gentleman follows me outside and accuses me of stealing his girlfriend’s bag. Looking back it was kind of like a CRPG with the following options up on screen:

            a) *panic and run*
            b) “FUCK YOU I DIDN’T STEAL SHIT”
            c) “Really? You think I look like someone who’d grab a knock-off Prada? As if.”
            d) Looked at the bag I was holding, saw he was correct, apologized profusely, went in with him, gave it back to his girl, grabbed my bag which I’d left in the adjacent booth,wished them both a good night and went on with my life.

            My guess is a-c would have ended badly, and I’m pretty sure the dude was expecting b, he was kinda confused by how I handled it as I recall. If d hadn’t been an option, maybe I would of offered to help him find it or think of who else might have grabbed it or some-such.

  16. Alyosha says:

    I would like to solicit the community for some career advice, if I may. A friend very recently brought to my attention the need for people to enter the field of cyber security, and the great number of high-paying jobs available in that field.

    I’m in my early 30’s with an undergraduate degree in Finance, and I’ve worked in that field for years but I’m ready for a change. I’m reasonably intelligent, and I would say a little above average when it comes to meddling with computers and technology, but I have no coding/programming knowledge up to this point.

    I like the idea of working in cyber security, but I also wonder if this is a field for the type of person who has been writing computer programs since their teen years, and I would be hopelessly over my head trying to get started now.

    Does anyone here with related experience/knowledge have any advice?

    • MoebiusStreet says:

      I grew up as a programmer, and now I manage a team of developers. I need to consider security concerns all the time, and work closely with our Information Security department. So from that perspective…

      The field of “computer stuff” has grown immense. When I was just starting out, in the mid-80s, it was small enough that one could imagine a person (maybe Wozniak) being so gifted as to know pretty much everything. That’s not the case anymore. The field has grown so much that to be of any value, one must concentrate on a relatively narrow aspect of it. One can’t really even be said to be “a programmer” anymore, because there are so many different disciplines involved. As a result, nobody’s got anything anywhere near the whole picture, at least in any detail, and they don’t have deep skills across many areas.

      None of the security people I work with are programmers at all, nor are any of the programmers I work with security experts.

      Being successful as a computer security expert is going to require (in my estimation) a surface understanding of programming and development methodologies. You’d also need some understanding of communication theory. Most significantly, how the layers of the modern networking stack work, in terms of how they’re accomplished in the various devices and software involved.

      So no, there’s not particular requirement that you have significant programming experience. But there still is a goodly amount of very technical stuff that you’d need to learn to be effective.

      • The Nybbler says:

        When I was just starting out, in the mid-80s, it was small enough that one could imagine a person (maybe Wozniak) being so gifted as to know pretty much everything.

        Even then it was an illusion. Wozniak was a whiz at everything low level, but I don’t think he ever showed any talent at, say, databases; he didn’t write the upper levels of Apple DOS, for instance.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          He did write Integer Basic, though.

          Then he wrote the game Brickout, in Integer Basic.

          (That kind of blew my mind when I learned it several years back: I knew he designed the hardware down to the chip level, and the video graphics system, and wrote the monitor, but I didn’t realize how high he went in the software.)

    • Lasagna says:

      I don’t have related experience and knowledge, so I’m sorry to be the first person posting here.

      But I CAN give you information gleaned just from being older than you and having gone through a major career change myself. I’ve got two points to keep in mind:

      1. If this is something you want to do, or you think you want to do, jump right in. There is absolutely nothing on the face of your plan that looks concerning. It’s a good, reasonable plan; the only thing holding you back would be the fear of starting something new. https://xkcd.com/1768/. I suspect you’ll be glad you did.

      2. The, I don’t know, general tenor of these times occasionally seems to suggest that “computer programming” is easy. At least that’s the impression I get every time I read something suggesting that we can help people whose careers have been offshored by “teaching them to code”. Judging by my friends in the industry, that’s not true. It’s like anything else – you’re going to go learn how to do it, and then you’re going to start with the simpler jobs and work your way up, learning more as you go. Nobody ever suggests that we handle unemployment by offering courses on building suspension bridges. The career you’re talking about is complicated, hard work. That’s why it pays well. I only mention this on the off chance that you think you’re going to jump in and start leading a team that designs security systems or something. Otherwise, don’t worry – you won’t be over your head, you’re plenty young enough to make this move, so get started and have fun!

      • MoebiusStreet says:

        This is a tangent and I hope not to hijack Alyosha’s query. But to stick in my two cents –

        The task of coding to program computers really is easy, or at least it is for certain people. Nevertheless, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of really bad software out there.

        The thing is that the coding is just the tip of the iceberg of software development. There are other facets to the process of developing software that are much more difficult. Two things in particular stand out in my mind.

        First, before you even start to contemplate how you’re going to write the code, you must first determine exactly what the program is going to need to do. There’s a really significant engineering process involved here, optimally involving the determination and writing of requirements; investigating user interaction models to ensure usability; documentation; and testing. Unfortunately, most programmers get there either by studying computer science (which teaches the programming side involving symbolic logic, etc., but completely ignores the engineering side – although this picture is now improving somewhat); or through a certification program which, deals mainly with the pragmatics of writing workable code and less so on the engineering aspects.

        Second, most development efforts are a team activity, extending over time through many successive releases. This demands an understanding of software lifecycle and development methodologies, that try to help us work together without stepping on each others’ feet; progress toward a goal as expeditiously as possible; and maintain quality as the system evolves. This is largely separate from the actual coding, and the best practices for all of it seem to evolve even more rapidly than artifacts like programming languages.

    • Brad says:

      Computer security* is a huge area with a ton of niches. However, I’d say there are three general clusters based on the background and mindset of the people that dominate each. One of those clusters is formed around programmers including, but not limited to hackers. One around network and system administrators. The third is around those with accounting, legal, human resources, and physical security backgrounds.

      In terms of trying to break in without a programming (and presumably with out admin) experience the third is probably the best bet. That’s the world of certs, and online masters degrees, and giant multinational consultant operations as employers (some in-house too). There’s certainly plenty of money in it, I know IT security auditors that do very well, but it seems kind of dull to me.

      *Cyber to my ear connotes government or giant government contractor. Plus companies like Walmart.

    • bean says:

      I have a book recommendation. Ross Anderson’s Security Engineering, webbed for free. I really enjoyed reading it, even though security is only a peripheral interest and nothing to do with my job.

    • Iain says:

      For a fun view into the programming-oriented part of computer security, you could do worse than trying out a CTF (capture-the-flag). The idea is that a vulnerable system of some sort is set up, and you are invited to try to find a way in. The flag-capturing comes in when experienced security folk race to see who can figure it out first, but CTFs are frequently left online to be completed later at your leisure. There are a number of CTFs that are designed as educational exercises. My first recommendation, picoCTF 2014, has unfortunately been taken offline due to funding constraints; I’m not sure whether picoCTF 2017 is still available, but you could try signing up to see. I scrolled back a bit in their twitter feed, and found a link to angstromCTF, which does still seem to be up.

      My favourite CTF, and the only one I’ve had the patience to work through in its entirety, is microcorruption, which simulates a low-level device and asks you to hack it using carefully chosen passwords. The user interface is top notch, although it might be a bit much if you’ve never programmed before.

    • RedVillian says:

      Your friend is correct, and no, in my experience you do not need a lifetime’s experience in programming to be a solid security analyst. Experience: 3 years at a security consultancy.

      If you genuinely think you would enjoy it, I would point you toward application security (as opposed to information security). AppSec is basically all about composing your application the way that it should be. As an analyst, you could have a toolkit of 10 things and cover, probably 80% of AppSec problems. Actually, there’s a link for that. If you familiarized yourself with the OWASP top ten and could speak cogently to what to do about them, you’d acquit yourself well in any AppSec interview.

      AppSec is a better path (I would say) because it’s more recent than infosec–which has been around as long as people have been trying to get into computers they weren’t supposed to be. InfoSec has become so robust and well managed (er… usually) that intruders have turned their attention from directly attacking the hardware and data (infosec) to instead try to dupe an application into accidentally divulging information or changing data.

      My major caveat: talk to an appsec person. In my experience it includes a LOT of staring at obtuse application scans and trying to figure out what the scanner actually saw.

    • Reasoner says:

      You probably don’t need to know programming for computer security work, but you might want to learn anyway–it’s a fun hobby. It may also give you an unfair advantage against other security people.

  17. angularangel says:

    Gonna go ahead and advertise Agora again. It’s seeing a little bit of use now, so you can see what it looks like in practice. Any thoughts?

    https://agora-2866.nodechef.com/

  18. Simon Penner says:

    I hope this isn’t too controversial for the comments, and apologize in advance if it is.

    —-

    So let’s talk Islamic terrorism.

    I’ve been thinking on this for a long time. The story doesn’t make sense.

    The following statements are facts that I believe to be true and reliable:

    * Islam is the motivating factor for the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks worldwide.
    * Islamic terrorism poses a grave and urgent threat to the safety of the western world.
    * The vast majority of Muslims (or possibly ‘Muslims in the western world’) are totally normal, happy, friendly, peaceful people, who want nothing to do with violence or terrorism.
    * The powers that be are acting creepily Orwellian in their attempt to downplay the fact that this is Islamic terrorism, to the point that direct lies are routinely published in major media sources.
    * Factions who are incredibly opposed to specifics of Islam, for weird inexplicable reasons, defend it. (eg. people who hate the patriarchy but support a philosophy that explicitly subordinates women).

    And I think I can square these seemingly contradictory facts with the following:

    “There are internal divisions in Islam, such that the violence is perpetrated by one faction, not the whole of it. The people who appear to be defending the violent faction are actually attempting to draw this distinction, and exonerate the other factions, but are very bad at it. The violent factions, on the other hand, are actively muddying these waters to smokescreen their actions”

    To attempt to draw an analogy, it’s as if, say, (1) Calvinists started a global campaign of terrorism; (2) the Muslim world characterized this as “Christian terrorism” and started bringing consequences indiscriminately against all Christians; (3) factions friendly with Catholics tried to defend themselves but the best they could do is “this is not Christian terrorism” when it clearly is Calvinist terrorism (which is a branch of Christianity); and (4) the Calvinists actively muddied this distinction to confuse critics.

    So now I would like to learn more about the specific internal distinctions within the Islamic faith and polities, so I can follow up on this hypothesis and better understand the scenario. I’ve tried to do some reading but it’s all sufficiently foreign to me. One thing that has started to come up a lot are Wahhabism and Salafism. These appear to be radical minority factions, similar to, say, hard line evangelical conservatives in the US. They appear to be NOT representative of the Islamic mainstream, but also appear to be fairly dangerous and actively responsible for much of the terrorism. These are some kind of highly politicized, hyper-conservative, hyper-authoritarian branches of Islam that are stoking the fires of nationalism powering things like ISIS.

    Given that I was able to research this in about four hours on wikipedia, it’s really weird to me that nobody ever seems to make this distinction in the public conversation. Like, lots of people shout “Not All Muslims” but this never really comes across as reasonable or convincing when people hear terrorists talking about their Islamic faith. It would be really easy to say “Not All Muslims, just Salafists” or whatever on the end. It would help to make this distinction concrete in the minds of Westerners, and it might re-assure Muslim communities that they aren’t going to do their part to keep the peace, only to be turned on by overzealous white folks concerned with safety and security.

    If I am correct and this small faction does pose a credible threat to the west, this might also help convince people of the necessity of defending ourselves appropriately. I imagine the thought process of most people on the left is something along the lines of “I know plenty of muslims and they are all great folks, they would never do this”. If you could show them that, no, actually people _*are*_ doing this, but we know it’s not your friends, and we are not going to retaliate against them for something they didn’t do, it might allow people to be more realistic about these things.

    Anyways, these are my scattered thoughts on this subject, and any feedback (especially from people who are familiar with the details of this subject) would be muchly appreciated

    • qwints says:

      Given that I was able to research this in about four hours on wikipedia, it’s really weird to me that nobody ever seems to make this distinction in the public conversation.

      I think that distinction is made fairly frequently and explicitly.

      Here’s a Judiarcy Committee report from 2003 entitled: “TERRORISM: GROWING WAHHABI INFLUENCE IN THE UNITED STATES.”

      From that report, Chuck Schumer (Democratic Senator from NY):

      Now, most of the Muslim world follows the tenets of mainstream Muslim of a peaceful, admirable faith, but unfortunately the increasingly influential and radical Wahhabi ideology distorts this message by preaching hate, violence and intolerance, not only toward the Judeo-Christian world, but towards moderate Muslim as well, to the rest of the Muslim faith.

      Al Qaeda, and the 9/11 terrorists were the products of Wahhabism’s hateful and intolerant system of belief,

      Googling Wahhabism + Terrorism, the first link is a Huffington Post article entitled “How Saudi Wahhabism is the fountainhead of Islamist Terrorism.”

      Also on that page are pieces from PBS Frontline, New Statesman and a facebook group with 20,000 followers called Muslims against Wahhabism/Terrorism. There’s also an NYT article stating that the West has (wrongly) deemed Wahhabism as responsible for Muslim radicalization.

    • Drew says:

      I could be mistaken, but I was under the impression that the terrorist attacks against the west were generally committed by people who were radicalized later in life and sought out militant sects.

      When I read about these, the ‘standard’ story is: Muslim immigrants come to the UK to escape some regional conflict, or just go get higher wages. Their kids grow up culturally Muslim and feel separate from the UK mainstream culture. Europe has high youth unemployment in general, and especially for children-of-immigrants.

      As a result, the kids and their peer group hold a certain amount of resentment for the UK. Eventually, they start returning to Islam out of a desire to reclaim a sense of identity. At that point, they kids are looking for people who appear to both ‘authentic’ (read: conservative) and critical of the west.

      If this is true, then there’s a sense in which we could blame the ISIS-specific sects. But it’s not really people who are born into those small fractions who are the threat.

      Instead, there’d be a large number of people who aren’t personally members of the zealous sects but see those sects as people who are devoting a large and sincere amount of energy into Islam as a religion.

      It would be similar to how the median Calvanist would be moderate in his personal life. But, deep down, they’d recognize that their moderate pastor is making practical compromises. They might not want to follow a strong fire-and-brimstone preacher. But they’d respect what the person is doing.

      This would make it very hard to single out one group as ‘the bad ones’.

      • abc says:

        This is more or less correct.

        Except there is another aspect involving the middle east. A number of Gulf states, most notably, but not only, Saudi Arabia, have a lot of Muslims who got rich through basically no effort on their part besides living at the right time in the right place that happens to contain oil. Contrast this with the economic situation in the rest of the Islamic world. As such I suspect they feel vaguely guilty about this, and just as the stereotypical “limousine liberal” supports radical socialists “over there” to assuage his guilt, these rich Muslims support radical clerics in the west to assuage their guilt. Thus the imam in the mosque the ordinary Muslims go to is likely to be radical as is the imam at every other mosque in the neighborhood.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Drew:

        The median homegrown (born in Europe or wherever) terrorist seems to be a guy who feels both disconnected to whatever European culture it is and to the culture of his ancestry. So he responds by adopting a really extreme form of Islam.

    • Brad says:

      * Islamic terrorism poses a grave and urgent threat to the safety of the western world.

      I’m not sure what you mean by this exactly. Does it mean a grave an urgent threat to the safety of each and every individual in the western world? Most of them? A grave and urgent threat to the continued existence of the nations of the western world in their current forms? Something else?

      • Wency says:

        Regarding Islamic terror as an existential threat was all the rage 15 years ago.

        When it came to nuclear attacks and dirty bombs, we were told “Not ‘if’, but ‘when’.”

        “When” never came, and the losses were deemed acceptable, so we moved on to other things.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Nobody’s nuked a city (yet), so that’s good. On the other hand, we now have de facto and sometimes de jure prohibitions against blaspheming Islam in nearly all Western countries. There are different kinds of existential threats.

          • rlms says:

            Was the actual explicit de jure prohibition against blaspheming Christianity (and only Christianity) an existential threat in the UK before 2008? What about the current similar law in Greece? Does application of Germany’s blasphemy law to Christians constitute an existential threat, or is it only a problem when used in service of Islam?

      • Tekhno says:

        Always factor the opposition to a thing in as part of the threat of the thing. Part of the threat of Islamic terrorism is the inevitable and slowly growing recourse to something fascist-like as a solution, since nobody seems to want to do anything about it.

        The fact that terrorism kills comparitively few people compared to other things is a fact that has by now, time and time again, empirically been shown weak as a way to deconvert anti-Islamic radicals. They yet persist, and grow more radical over time. Aesthetics are what attracts people towards movements like Islam, and it’s also what attracts people to movements like National Socialism. There is a radicalizing nationalism along with a radicalizing Islam. A unilateral solution where only the nationalists disarm won’t work, so there has to be some multilateral solution that adresses the problems of both parties without invoking oppression of either side as a solution. Difficult.

        Terrorism is an existential threat because if you get enough terror attacks for a long enough period of time, you gradually break down people’s faith in the prevailing system. It feels like a betrayal. Then at some point you need a trigger, a moment where you get so many terror attacks in a row, or some image, something so heinous that you can ratchet the right up to the next level of radicalization. We’ve already been through several periods of “stepping up”, and at some point if not literally fascism, then at least a fauxcism near enough awaits. First you start getting white nationalist lone wolf attacks, as we’ve seen, and then in turn this creates more Islamic terrorism, and then you’ve got something like a low level civil war going.

        Whether you think that’s rational or reasonable is irrelevent, the only things that matter are what the masses of the right think, and where we are in terms of mass radicalization, and tit for tat attacks. The moment you start getting nationalist attacks tit for tat with Islamic attacks, we’re already on a road to a dark place.

        The alt-right simply didn’t exist back in 2010 in a way that would allow it to be name dropped by a Presidential candidate as a rising threat. Even on SSC, we have a fair few commenters floating mass deportation and executing the imams of radical mosques and so on. The fact that an ostensibly rationalist place like SSC that would have leaned progressive in the ’00s now has commenters espousing positions that would have got you censure on conservative websites back then, must be some evidence in the “holy shit, the right is radicalizing” pile. Throw Trump on there too.

        This is the real threat of a radicalized minority group launching psychologically jarring attacks on the majority group. About half of every society seems to be right wing, and that side of the majority group is getting all the more ready to launch some attacks of its own, whether terroristically or politically.

        The number of deaths isn’t the critical factor. On one end of the scale you have de-politicized deaths from car crashes and so on, and on the other you have Franz Ferdinand. How many deaths of what form can the system survive?

        The very fact that the left is desperately trying to cool the right down about Islam is part of Islamic terrorism being a problem. The lack of realisation of this stems from the delusion that the right can be cooled down by the use of statistics on death rates. No, you have to offer a different solution, or you’ve got nothing, and this will simply continue. It’s a failed tactic. It’s a dud. It’s not going to convince anyone save a tiny tiny rational minority of people.

        @Wency

        and the losses were deemed acceptable, so we moved on to other things.

        Deemed acceptable by whom? Who’s “we” here?

        • bintchaos says:

          That is really an excellent analysis.
          Two things that generally accepted to be true about terrorism are:
          1. The [game end goal] object of terror is to break the compact of protection between the government and the governed. Islamic Terrorists are saying, “see your government cant protect you” to their target population. Ta-Nehisi Coates has written something on this, and he is working it out through the medium of the Black Panther comic over the last year. I can see if I can find the reference if anyone is interested…I think it was the Atlantic.
          2. Terrorism works. The sans-culottes were terrorists, the American revolutionaries were terrorists. I think you made that point in a comment upthread. We need to make a distinction between islamic terrorism and the sort of general principles of terrorism. The end goal of Islamic Terrorists is a world ending storm that pits all the believers against the non-believers.
          The very fact that the left is desperately trying to cool the right down about Islam is part of Islamic terrorism being a problem
          That isnt really why the Left is doing that. Its more that the Left knows that RW attacks on muslims play right into islamic terrorists goals. Of course islamic terrorism is part of Islam. In complexity science, we use the analog of the human body to model complex social systems. Jihad is in the DNA of the Quran. What type of jihad gets expressed depends on what the environmental triggers are. A complexity science solution would be to change the environment.
          That is why the left pushes the idea of stop bombing muslims on the other side of the world to force them to accept your preferred form of representative government. They are trying to change the environment that causes expression of the violent type of jihad.
          By saying islamic terror isnt part of Islam, well they are doing that for the same reason Bush did…because if you are going to fight all the muslims in the world, and try to get them to stop reading Quran, you will fail. So the idea that somehow there are these moderate muslims that are going to follow a version of Quran that US wants to push…wont work in the current environment.

        • Wency says:

          “Deemed acceptable by whom? Who’s ‘we’ here?”

          Collectively, by Western societies. Or if you want to name people, take the mayor of London, and the culture that led him to tell people to “get used to it”.

          If you think the West’s response has been proportionate to a threat it imagines to be existential, then the West either doesn’t much care if it ceases to exist (plausible), or it’s had an utter failure of imagination. The UK took sterner measures to defeat the IRA. If we wanted to be draconian, we could perhaps have held Islamic immigration steady after 9/11 instead of allowing it to increase, for example.

          While it’s true that Islam is contributing to a reaction among certain members of the Western right, I’d argue that events like the Rotherham rapes and cover-up are more influential than Islamic terrorism per se, at least among the intellectual right. Terrorist attacks may influence the mainstream more, since they receive far more media attention than other sorts of transgressions, and because it’s more politically acceptable to complain about terrorism (as the Rotherham cover-up demonstrates).

    • WashedOut says:

      I thought your summary was excellent, and your list of “foundational claims” serves the discussion well.

      The move from “Islam is the problem” to “Salafism/Wahabism is the problem” is a necessary but insufficient step in the right direction, in my view. What we are interested in w.r.t minimising harm from terrorism is identifying specific beliefs which motivate specific behaviours, which in this case are 1) Martyrdom and 2) Jihad. These beliefs are nested within Islam, as outlined in the Qu’ran and it’s supporting texts, and are central to the ‘practice’ of Salafism.

      There are ISIS-inspired terrorists who know nothing about Islam, have emigrated to the middle east from rich western countries, who have no cultural upbringing in the Muslim world – they are simply attracted to the doctrines of martrydom and jihad. So they effectively come into the system at the lowest level of nesting, completely ignorant of Salafism/Wahabism above them and Islam above that.

      So when Majid Nawaz gets on twitter to criticise western liberal schmucks denouncing “terrorism” in the wake of [insert recent muslim terrorism episode], this is what he is getting at. Denouncing terrorism is trivial. Identifying and debasing the specific beliefs responsible for motivating violent action is what’s necessary.

      • bintchaos says:

        Okfine.
        If “salafi-wahhabism” is the problem, why isnt Trump doing anything about it?
        Conservatives should actually pay close attention to this constructed adaptive invasive strategy as a model for “Taking Back America”.
        Obama’s game theoretic strategy was “Let’s you and him fight” (KSA v Iran).
        Our current President just put his thumb on the scales for KSA in the Qatar crisis.

        • WashedOut says:

          Read the posts you reply to. I said the specific beliefs of martyrdom and jihad are the problem, since they motivate violence.

          As Nancy points out below – it’s possible to be a Salafist and not be part of the immediate problem of terroristic violence.

          Denounce the specific motivating beliefs, not the classifications.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        If I can believe what I hear on the BBC, it’s not even all Salafists. There are quietist Salafists who believe they should stay out of all politics. I think they don’t even vote.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I thought the quiet Salafists just didn’t think now was the right time for the Caliphate. So they’re all for what ISIS is doing, just not yet guys.

    • Civilis says:

      Two points:

      One, the Wahhabi sect, while small, is exceedingly influential due to their ties to the house of Saud, which controls both the money inflow from the Saudi oil sales and access to Mecca. Wikipedia contains numbers that suggest that some 90% of funding for Islamic religious causes is Wahhabi.

      Two, it’s not just the Wahhabi sect. The US has had a beef with Iran for a while. Hezbollah has carried out a number of attacks against the West, some of which have been outside the Middle East.

    • Anonymous says:

      Central problems:
      a) being able to tell apart non-terrorist inclined Muslims from terrorist-inclined Muslims before they do anything,
      b) free press fanning sectarian violence by its very existence.

      If you mix those with Muslim immigration, you are reliably going to have a civil war on your hands at some point, or decades-to-centuries long unrest issues in the best case.

  19. Iain says:

    As one data point against the hypothesis that the Democrats were hacked more during the election, not because there was any preference in targeting, but because the Republicans are better at keeping their data safe: the RNC kept their voter database, containing information on 198 million potential voters, in a publicly accessible AWS bucket. Oops.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      What does that have to do with the security of email accounts?

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Come off it, dude. There’s more to infosec than emails. PII is not a joke. From TFA:

        The data, which was stored in a publicly accessible cloud server owned by Republican data firm Deep Root Analytics, included 1.1 terabytes of entirely unsecured personal information compiled by DRA and at least two other Republican contractors, TargetPoint Consulting, Inc. and Data Trust. In total, the personal information of potentially near all of America’s 200 million registered voters was exposed, including names, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, and voter registration details, as well as data described as “modeled” voter ethnicities and religions.

        That such an enormous national database could be created and hosted online, missing even the simplest of protections against the data being publicly accessible, is troubling. The ability to collect such information and store it insecurely further calls into question the responsibilities owed by private corporations and political campaigns to those citizens targeted by increasingly high-powered data analytics operations.

        There are certainly arguments that could be had here, but your out-of-hand dismissal is decidedly non-constructive.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          The non-security of the database is troubling. However, Iain’s connecting of that to the hacking of the DNC was just political snark. One can have secure email hosting (the things that were being targeted by the hackers) while having a wide open voter database that nobody knew about or bothered to attack.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            However, Iain’s connecting of that to the hacking of the DNC was just political snark.

            Eh, I disagree. I think it was presented fairly rationally. Additional evidence relevant to previous discussion. As I perceived it, the closest that came to snark is “Oops” and even that’s low-key (and appropriate) enough that I assumed I was just being oversensitive due to Iain’s status as a Prominent SSC L*.

            One can have secure email hosting (the things that were being targeted by the hackers)

            Highly doubtful they were the only things. Both a successful breach and turning up material worth leaking is required to make the news. So we haven’t heard much about failed attempts or successful breaches that only revealed e.g. catering plans.

            while having a wide open voter database that nobody knew about or bothered to attack.

            Security Through Obscurity is no excuse. If somebody had found it during the campaign and wanted to use it, they could have. You can argue it’s not as big a deal as the email server (and I’d probably agree) or that really we should not be surprised at shit infosec from all big orgs (and I’d still agree), but neither of those absolves this of being a Major Fuckup.

          • Iain says:

            I do not think it is unreasonable to suspect that an organization’s attention to security in one area is correlated with its attention to security in other areas.

            Podesta’s emails were hacked not because of an insecure email system, but because he was the target of a phishing attack — that is to say, social engineering. If you manage to build an organization that is not susceptible to phishing, you do so by having an extremely robust security culture, with dedicated security people poking around looking for problems. If you are leaving your databases full of PII unsecured, then maybe you need more security people poking around.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            In particular, the Podesta phishing attach succeeded due to an incompetent IT security person, who mixed up “legitmate” and “not legitimate” in his response. That’s likely to show up elsewhere in an IT security scheme.

            Also, as I’ve pointed out before, at least some RNC emails were hacked, just not leaked for some reason. Apparently, none of them enjoyed Pizza.

            link text

          • John Schilling says:

            What was in this database that the GOP needs to protect from leaking?

            If it’s just raw voter analytics of the sort that you get when you throw a bit of money at a Big Data firm and say “give me voter analytics”, then they’ve still got their copy to work from, the Democrats presumably already have an equivalent, and it’s not like either of them care if a copy falls into Libertarian hands. Unless there’s some legal liability, for the PII release, it’s just going to come down to outsiders lobbing “Ha ha your infosec sucks!” snark, and I doubt that’s going to hurt them significantly.

            If, on the other hand, the data has already been processed in a way that infers details of the GOP’s strategic planning, that could hurt. But I haven’t seen any indication of that – and if the data was found by someone who doesn’t like the GOP, I kind of would expect something like “…and here we see the GOP is courting the White Racist Vote!” to have leaked by now. Perhaps the data was found only by people who don’t like the GOP but were too ethical to peek and so settled for the less damaging attack.

            Whether or not your infosec sucks, depends not so much on how impenetrable your email system is, but how good you are at segregating the stuff that absolutely must be protected from that which merely should be.

          • Iain says:

            @John Schilling:

            Okay, but pdbarnsley also just posted evidence that older RNC emails were also hacked. Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, there is still no evidence for “the RNC had better infosec” beyond the mere fact that the Russians didn’t leak anything.

            This kind of micro-targeting data is precisely the sort of thing that the Republicans want to keep secure. In terms of political decision-making: the Democrats absolutely have their own version of this database, but that doesn’t mean this one wouldn’t have been tremendously valuable to them. Parties put a lot of effort into making sure that their voter databases are more accurate than those of their opponents. In a broader sense, this kind of data is a potential treasure-trove for criminals looking to engage in some good old identity theft. You shouldn’t be able to do anything with only the information contained in this database, but the sad reality is that lots of important institutions have terrible security.

            No rational security team is going to draw a line and intentionally put this stuff on the insecure side of it.

            It feels like people are clutching at straws here in an attempt to sustain belief in a proposition that was never particularly well-supported in the first place. By far the most parsimonious explanation is that, like most large organizations, the RNC has slipshod security practices, and can be penetrated by a sufficiently dedicated attacker. The burden of proof is on people who would like to claim otherwise.

          • John Schilling says:

            Okay, but pdbarnsley also just posted evidence that older RNC emails were also hacked.

            To a first order, assume everybody’s email is hacked. If the Republican email contains things like “Here’s a pointer to the data dump with our raw analytics; if you need the processed version with the strategy stuff stop by my office” and the Democratic email contains things like “Here’s our master plan to make sure Those Idiot Berniebros don’t ruin things for us”, then the RNC has better infosec.

            This kind of micro-targeting data is precisely the sort of thing that the Republicans want to keep secure.

            But my question is whether “micro-targeting data” is a proper description of what was left unprotected. A map, or a map with cross-hairs printed on it?

            If it’s just the map, the Democrats aren’t going to learn anything from it, they aren’t going to trust it enough to use it themselves, and while I don’t doubt that there are cybercriminals out there who would find it of value I also don’t think either political party really cares as long as they aren’t liable for it.

          • Iain says:

            To a first order, assume everybody’s email is hacked. If the Republican email contains things like “Here’s a pointer to the data dump with our raw analytics; if you need the processed version with the strategy stuff stop by my office” and the Democratic email contains things like “Here’s our master plan to make sure Those Idiot Berniebros don’t ruin things for us”, then the RNC has better infosec.

            Okay, but what is your evidence that this is the case? Do you honestly believe that nobody working for the RNC ever wrote an email critical of Trump? I see no reason to believe that Republican staffers are categorically more security-minded than Democratic staffers, or that they never ever say anything that could potentially be spun as damaging.

            Bear in mind that the vast majority of the DNC’s emails were precisely the sort of bland pablum that you put in the mouths of the RNC. The bar here is not just being in the habit of keeping your emails inoffensive. The bar is ensuring that every single email that ever crosses RNC servers cannot be twisted by a hostile opposition and a drama-hungry media to look bad. That is an extraordinary claim, and demands extraordinary evidence, not just “well, it seems plausible”.

          • John Schilling says:

            Okay, but what is your evidence that this is the case? Do you honestly believe that nobody working for the RNC ever wrote an email critical of Trump?

            The bar is somewhat higher than “somebody working for the RNC wrote an email critical of Trump”; on the DNC side you had top-level executives calling Sanders a liar and suggesting a political attack on his religious beliefs.

            Maybe there was equivalent behavior on the RNC side, but I think that’s something you would need to provide evidence for. Right now, your argument seems to be. “We know the DNC did something election-losingly stupid; obviously the RNC must have done things just as stupid but everybody who found out about it is covering it up because they are pro-Republican conspirators, so stop calling the DNC stupid”.

          • Iain says:

            top-level executives calling Sanders a liar

            Source? The best I can come up with is this email, which is about Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager, in relation to claims about the Nevada convention that Politifact rated as false.

            As for the atheism thing: here is the entirety of that email chain. Please excuse me while I fetch my smelling salts. One guy said a dumb thing to three other people, one of whom had the audacity to reply with “amen”? What an unprecedented outrage!

            If you want to characterize those emails as “election-losingly stupid”, or confidently assert that nobody at the RNC would ever say anything remotely similar about Trump, I really don’t know what I can say. As far as I’m concerned, the odds that everybody at the RNC took Trump completely seriously from day 1, and never said a single nasty thing about him, are essentially nil.

            My argument is as follows. We know the DNC’s private communications contained statements that opened them up to political attack. We knew this even before the leak. This is because the DNC is an organization made up of people who say things, and given a sufficiently large sample of things being said, it is inevitable that some of them are going to open you up to attack.

            The RNC, incidentally, is also an organization made up of people who say things.

            If we accept, as you say, that to a first order everybody’s emails have been hacked, there are two possibilities:
            a) Nobody who managed to get their hands on the RNC’s emails decided to release them.
            b) The RNC has somehow found a magical, 100% foolproof way to prevent any of its staffers from ever saying a dumb thing in an email.

            Option A seems very plausible to me. It is, after all, the status quo in most elections.

            Option B strains the bounds of credibility. In the absence of any sort of affirmative evidence — say, RNC employee handbooks laying out detailed expectations for email content — I don’t understand what would cause anybody to prefer Option B. (Well, “motivated reasoning” is one possibility, but I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here.)

            (I just spent a couple minutes on Google looking for any evidence that the RNC had particularly good infosec. I didn’t find any, but I did find this account of one email security technique that was not enabled by the DNC, RNC, or Trump campaign, but was used by the Clinton campaign. This is, again, not dispositive — but it certainly doesn’t strengthen the case for above-average infosec practices at the RNC.)

        • tayfie says:

          The RNC is a different entity than Deep Root Analytics, which was the firm hired by the RNC that was responsible for the insecure data.

          The DNC allowed themselves to be hacked. I say “allowed” because FBI called them multiple times to warn them they were under attack, but they thought it was a prank call and did not act on it. Later, they also refused to let the FBI investigate the servers to determine the culprit and relied on a private company named CrowdStrike instead.

          I don’t see what the RNC could have done to prevent this besides hiring a different firm. The breaches are not comparable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Ask in the request for contract that bidders disclose the result of their SOC 2 compliance audit.

  20. pontifex says:

    So on 6/17 Scott posted a link about a correlation between higher education and brain tumors. That reminded me of this research showing that thinking appears to cause DNA strand breaks in mouse neurons. (Summaries here and here.)

    It sure seems like brain cells somehow use DNA to store state, possibly using one of the epigenetic mechanisms we discovered recently. And then perhaps a primary function of sleep is to repair the DNA damage? Maybe.

    • Vermillion says:

      It sure seems like brain cells somehow use DNA to store state, possibly using one of the epigenetic mechanisms we discovered recently.

      That’s a surprisingly contentious assertion among electrophysiologists of my acquaintance.

    • Andrew Klaassen says:

      A later study, Activity-Induced DNA Breaks Govern the Expression of Neuronal Early-Response Genes, found that the DNA strand breaks pretty much all happened in the promoters of a small set of early-response genes and helped them be expressed faster. The DNA breaks are repaired within a maximum of 2 hours.

      So the connection you noticed between learning, DNA strand breaks, and tumors probably has something to it – surely there’s always some increased cancer risk when you start breaking DNA strands? – but it looks like the strand breaks aren’t being used to store state. They’re being used to help speed up learning. (And then quickly being returned to normal.) If I’m reading this part correctly:

      We believe these observations provide insights into a distinct topological constraint to early-response gene expression. CTCF-mediated chromatin loops create topological barriers that govern the interactions between distinct regulatory regions, such as promoters and enhancers (Ong and Corces, 2014). Enhancer-promoter interactions are known to be essential for the expression of early-response genes. Enhancers of early-response genes are also pre-bound by SRF and CREB and recruit RNAPII and CBP following neuronal activity, and several studies indicate that RNAPII recruited to enhancer loci might be transferred to promoters following activity stimulation (Kim et al., 2010 ; Koch et al., 2008). Within this context, the formation of Topo IIβ-mediated DSBs at CTCF binding sites in an activity-dependent manner constitutes an attractive model that would rapidly dissolve topological constraints to enhancer-promoter interactions and instantly stimulate the expression of early-response genes.

      …they’re hypothesizing that the DNA is being cut in order to free it from the chromatin loops that keep it nicely organized but slow down access to it. Neurons are cutting through the usual procedures for DNA access in order to speed up the job.

      Good find, BTW. I enjoyed digging into that!

      • pontifex says:

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply. For computer-science oriented people, there’s always a temptation to think about DNA as a sequence, rather than as a physical object which has a structure. The idea that the DNA strand breaks might result from changing the DNA structure to express genes faster or differently did not even occur to me.

        I’ve read a few other papers and summaries that seem to suggest that DNA methylation is important to how the brain functions. For example this article goes so far as to say that “DNA epigenetic marks are crucial for cognitive functions.”

        Is it widely accepted that neurons store state via methylation or other epigenetic changes? The Bender and Weber article seems to imply that it is, but I haven’t seen a lot of discussion of it.

    • bzium says:

      Interesting, but I’m not sure if it could explain the tumor thing. Don’t brain tumors usually grow from glial cells? Can neurons become cancerous in the adult brain?

  21. Deiseach says:

    Distinguished readers, commenters, lurkers and others of Slate Star Codex!

    Further to an entanglement I have gotten into regarding bintchaos and their perception that I was threatening them personally, either directly or by implication, to doxx, harass and generally out them via an attempt to locate universities offering a course in socio-physics, I wish to appeal to a jury of my peers!

    I promise, upon my solemn word of honour (and if that is not sufficient I am willing to take an oath compatible with my religion) that if a simple majority (e.g. if ten people respond, four say “no I did not think you meant that” and six say “yes I did think that”, then the six are deemed to win) respond to the question: Did you think, perceive, or take it to be meant that Deiseach intended to doxx or otherwise harass bintchaos by talking about what universities they might be attending for a course on socio-physics, then I will voluntarily absent myself and abstain from commenting on this site for a period of four weeks, commencing with the end of the vote.

    Anyone who wants to say “yes you were” or “no you weren’t”, please reply to this. I’ll give it a couple of days.

    I think bintchaos is being over-sensitive (and frankly, I think they’re not entirely honest in their allegations of being genuinely terrified by the hatred I’m spewing at them) but I recognise and admit that I may be under-sensitive to how I come across and may be more aggressive in tone than I intend to be. Intention doesn’t count so although I wasn’t trying to doxx bintchaos (and don’t even know how to do that even if I wanted to), what matters is if I sounded as though that were what I was doing.

    I’m serious. This is a matter of honour with me: I have been accused of a scandalous behaviour that I personally consider cowardly and dishonorable, and so I must answer this charge as best I can, and trial by jury will have to suffice.

    Yes or no, and four weeks’ guaranteed silence from me if “yes” wins. Start voting now!

    • Gobbobobble says:

      No, but making a big to-do of it makes me wonder if a few weeks’ cooloff would not be such a bad idea.

    • bean says:

      No. It may have been a bit further than you should have gone, but there was a fairly obvious inference that could have been drawn from the information you posted, and you didn’t even attempt to hint at it.