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Open Thread 60.5

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever.

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764 Responses to Open Thread 60.5

  1. Linked List says:

    Does anybody work (or has worked) in embedded systems? How different is it from regular app development?

    • youzicha says:

      I once did a summer internship writing programs to run human-machine interface units. (This is a little box with a screen and a keyboard. It connects with a serial cable to the programmable logic controller. The PLC then runs a program which controls various industrial machinery.)

      In this case it was very similar to ordinary computer programming, you write a C program, and there you go. The HMI-units are not safety critical (the emergency stop is handled seperately), so there are no particular precautions. The main difference was that space was limited, so you had be concerned about how big the compiled image was and squeeze the code.

      • Linked List says:

        Well, the thing is IME ordinary programming is very much not “write a C program and there you go”. In say, webdev, there seems to be more of a focus on software architecture, UI tuning, and very little concern about performance (until a certain scale, at least).

        To be clear, I *prefer* the “write a C program and there you go” style of coding.

        • brad says:

          In my experience it’s not just another c program. You probably have some proprietary toolchain with a weird standard library. The kernal you are going to be running on is quite stripped down. You might not be able to dynamically allocate. You have pointers to hardware which are volatile. If you have real time requirements (soft or hard) that’s another layer of annoying constraints.

          C has come along way since K&R, someone that learned c recently may well have learned a variant that is a fairly high level, modern, pleasant language. Embedded programming isn’t about that, it’s a throwback to the old days.

          Not my cup of tea personally, but some people love it.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Programs small enough to be embedded are small enough to fit into your head (and small enough to reload back into your head a year later), and so design becomes less important. Plus, a lot of the nicer designs used to reduce programmer brain load have a cost in computer memory or execution speed that is unacceptable at the embedded level.

          You need to actually care about memory consumption at the embedded level. You may even fiddle with bits at some point. This almost never happens in, say, web development.

          To me, embedded dev is the easier one, largely because of aforementioned “it can fit in your head.” It is also more fun, because you come out the other side with some physical device that does things, which is more gratifying than yet another webpage where somebody is complaining about a pixel not lining up.

          • This reminds me of a comment someone made about machine language programming. You can tell if someone will be good at it by how he packs a car.

          • tumteetum says:

            Agree with the other stuff you wrote, but…

            “Programs small enough to be embedded are small enough to fit into your head (and small enough to reload back into your head a year later)”

            Not always, I once worked on a project where the device was going to sit 3000m down on the sea floor, it had to stay there for one year on batteries, it was running linux in about 8gig, and was maybe about 30kloc of c++.

            “and so design becomes less important.”

            No, design is always important.

          • tumteetum says:

            @David Friedman

            Indeed, assembler/machine code programmers are a breed apart.

            They do thiings like this in their spare time.

          • Jaskologist says:

            “Design” was probably the wrong word. I was really talking about “abstraction.”

    • The Nybbler says:

      Depends on how far down the rabbit hole you go. Programming on something powerful enough to run Linux isn’t much different except you’re more resource constrained and probably have a whole different UI. Programming a microcontroller with no OS at all, a few kilobytes of flash, a few hundred bytes of RAM is, and some I/O pins is nothing at all like regular app development. In the middle you can expect things like hard real-time constraints (some part of your code has to run, deterministically, in a certain amount of time or something bad happens), lack of dynamic memory (no heap allocation; stack space limited), direct control of hardware via registers and I/O pins, writing interrupt service routines (to handle the hardware). In addition to constraints like a much less powerful CPU, a paucity of libraries, little flash and less RAM, you may have to consider power consumption both in the short term (for thermal issues) and long term (battery usage).

    • tumteetum says:

      Nybbler is correct. Embedded programming is all about constraints. On the desktop and even more so on a server you essentially have all the memory/power/speed you want (obviously there are limits but most programmers dont consider them unless they’re doing some heavy maffs or something, or until they hit a problem) in embedded work any or all of these are limited. Also your tool chain will probably
      be a lot more primitive.

      Having said that I’ve spent the past couple of years doing ios, and thats has some similarities, you are constrained in memory/power/cpu but the toolchain (xcode) is awesome.

    • Maas says:

      I’ve done it. Do you mean app development in the cell phone sense? I would call it… mostly different.

      For me, toolchain is standard (GCC 4.9), target is an ARM core, no standard library, no Kernel. It’s a type of security critical SW that happens to be difficult and time consuming to test, so one thing to consider is, how much do you like programming? Because that is a tiny amount of what I spend my time on. Test, Audit, Write docs, read SSC, go to irritating meetings, wonder which change made the tests start passing, wonder why the tests stopped passing…

      I find c99 fairly pleasant, which helps. If you’re on some toolchain without c99 support, that kinda sucks. OTOH, Keil armcc still generates tighter thumb code than gcc.

      Embedded is broad. There are some differences between a SATA storage driver written for bare metal and a Linux SATA driver, but if you looked at the code for one, I think that would put you in the right neighborhood for what our code looks like. Much closer than a cell phone app.

      And a lot of embedded work has an OS of some kind. Depending on what the goals are, that can be about like a linux PC application, or about as low level as no OS work.

      • Linked List says:

        I meant “app” in the general sense of application (mobile/web/enterprise), but what you said still applies.

        You’re the first person I’ve ever heard say that it involves very little coding. Maybe that was specific the problem domain you were working on?

        • Lumifer says:

          I suspect it’s not problem domain, but employment domain. In certain spheres bugs are considered unacceptable, so people spend a LOT of time writing justification for ‘x = 1’, constructing all kinds of tests, and sitting in meetings starting at that line of code.

          • Maas says:

            That’s probably true, I’m in a specific field. I’m being vague, and I’m not sure why. I guess it is a small field, so this probably is no longer that useful, but I’ll continue describing my little section of bare metal development.

            I am pretty test focused lately, but even when I was pretty pure developer, I think skills at reading scope/analyzer, reading a schematic, and reading a spec were more important than “programming skill.”

            For us, speed is important, but rarely related to code optimization, and instead usually IO stuff, like can we get a part that supports such and such new version of the protocol. Code size has a fixed cap decided early in SW dev (AKA our code goes into ROM), and Architecture is important.

    • JayT says:

      My career started with writing device drivers and embedded systems, but it’s been about ten years since I’ve done it. It was very much like putting together a puzzle or doing math problems because there tended to be a right answer. With web dev there are always corner cases, and features can always be added on. However, if you’re writing a device driver, the device either works or it doesn’t. I always liked that about it.

    • Corey says:

      I do, though mostly in Linux so it’s not very different than any other (non-GUI) development.

      Others have mentioned performance and thermal constraints; on battery-powered stuff like phones, every wasted CPU cycle is wasted battery life.

      In general the embedded industry is _horrible_ on infosec (think telnet daemons with hard-coded root passwords and the like, and when devices go end-of-life, no more updates) but that’s getting better what with IoT. (My employer is getting into electrical substation stuff, where Uncle Sam cares very much about good cybersecurity practices (see “NERC CIP”)).

      • Lumifer says:

        that’s getting better what with IoT

        You mean “security of IoT devices being pushed out by the millions is so Cthulhu-level horrible that someone might actually do something about it”..?

      • Anonymous says:

        Uncle Sam may well care, but it’s the blind leading the blind. In fact, the very word “cybersecurity” is a bit of an anti-shibboleth. You aren’t going to Adam Langley, Trevor Perrin, or Daniel J. Bernstein call himself a cybersecurity expert.

        I’m sure the government has really top notch experts tucked away in a few places (like the NSA) but what you get out of the regulatory agency rules are things like “You’ll be secure if you follow this absurdly bureaucratic process for designing software. Yes, I’m sure I want you to use DES, it was approved by the government, your new fangled RSA (never mind ECDH) is too risky. And make sure you pay one of the big 4 tens of millions of dollars for an audit.”

    • Garrett says:

      I have. There are a number of things which make it different:
      * Usually the software is difficult to change. Either because it’s permanently burned in or because it’s expected to be validated and then untouched. Even if user-upgradable, it might take *years* for customers to install a new version, even if they already know about it.
      * Long uptime. A word processor might run for a few hours at a time. With constant saving there’s little problem if the application crashes or needs to restart. Things like your DVR need to run without crashing for months or years.
      * More stringent requirements. This may manifest itself as real-time requirements, or limited RAM/CPU budgets.

  2. TMB says:

    Some people have suggested that Trump’s recent comments about global-elites are anti-semitic.
    Well, leaving aside the fact that it came from Trump, if criticism of global elites is anti-semitic, then what does this mean?
    Are we saying that we can’t criticise power if it is Jewish? That isn’t how identity politics top trumps works – “Oh yeah, they have all the power, but they are a minority, so it’s ok.”
    Whoever has the least power wins. Or whoever can assume the role of the powerless and persecuted.

    I can’t see how identity politics is going to work out for Jewish people, not in its current form. Criticism of Goldman Sachs becoming anti-semitic seems like identity politics jumping the shark (in a fridge). Not sure that even the weird-beardies can hold such conflicting ideas in mind simultaneously.
    So… without some good argument for why Jewish people should have power (they work hard, are intelligent) I feel like this is just setting us up for some actual anti-semitism to come out of the woodwork.
    All it takes is for someone to notice that 50% of billionaires are Jewish…

    • Tekhno says:

      Yeah, seems like the instant outrage could backfire. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with disparate impact because I’m not a Nazi, so even if Jews were over-represented in certain industries, I wouldn’t care. If those industries were engaging in really dangerous practices then I’d want to see that stopped, but that doesn’t mean investigating everyone’s genome, it means investigating the bad practices.

      It’s a really bad idea for the media to turn concern about particular industries (wacky, misguided, or not) into proof of antisemitism, because then what that means is that the public makes the connection in their minds that opposing bankers doing bad things is antisemitic because bankers doing bad things is integral to Judaism and Jewish ancestry.

      “Those damn international bankers muddling in our government!

      “A-antisemite!”

      “Wait- What? I’m talking about bankers. When did I mention Jews anywhere?”

      “HITLER! DOG WHISTLE FASCISM!”

      “What exactly is it you’re hiding?”

      “CRYPTO-NAZI!”

      “So… banking is Jewish then?”

      “…”

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        I won’t deny how entertaining it is that the exact same people complaining about Trump today were railing against the evil banks and their evil evilness just a few years ago, in the Occupy Wall Street era. Fast forward to 2016 and now criticizing those same banks makes you a Nazi. How times change! While we’re at it, it would also be interesting to check out the people so piously denouncing anti-Semitism all of a sudden and see how many of them have been playing footsie with BDS supporters, making excuses for terror attacks on Jews, or studiously ignoring anti-Semitic hate crimes over the past several years.

        That said, it is possible to criticize international elites — and they do deserve criticism! — without using rhetoric (as Trump has) that precisely echoes conspiratorial right-wing anti-Semitism in its most basic form. If he’s not doing it deliberately he really needs to have a few words with his speechwriters, assuming such exist.

        That said he’s an idiot who just says whatever pops into his head, so precisely measuring his words is a fool’s game anyway.

    • BBA says:

      Rabbi Altmann and his secretary were sitting in a coffeehouse in Berlin in 1935. “Herr Altmann,” said his secretary, “I notice you’re reading Der Stürmer! I can’t understand why. A Nazi libel sheet! Are you some kind of masochist, or, God forbid, a self-hating Jew ?”

      “On the contrary, Frau Epstein. When I used to read the Jewish papers, all I learned about were pogroms, riots in Palestine, and assimilation in America. But now that I read Der Stürmer, I see so much more: that the Jews control all the banks, that we dominate in the arts, and that we’re on the verge of taking over the entire world. You know – it makes me feel a whole lot better!”

    • foo bar baz says:

      I don’t think it’s the criticism of banks that’s being called antisemitic per se, but the particular wording. Certain phrases are used as euphemisms to express opinions deemed offensive while giving the speaker plausible deniability. “International Bankers,” “New World Order,” “International Socialism,” etc. are often used to refer to Jews (or conspiracies with anti-semitic components) without explicitly mentioning Jews. I think Trump’s comments that are being criticized are from this speech (sorry for the Vox link, it’s the best transcription I could find). Trump says:

      For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind … It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities. … The Clinton machine is at the center of this power structure. … Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors.

      If you’ve ever read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or spent any time around websites or people pushing Jewish conspiracy theories, this rhetoric will seem pretty familiar. Of course it’s possible Trump didn’t mean anything by this, but I personally find the parallels concerning; there are ways of saying what (I think) he’s saying without using rhetoric similar to anti-semitic propaganda but Trump chose to speak this way. The media’s outrage machine may be stupid and melodramatic, but occasionally they do have a point.

      • It’s certainly possible to denounce the IMF without seeming like an anti-Semite.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Whether Trump is intentionally signalling tinfoil-hat goal line conspiracy theory belief, or doing so unintentionally is sort of immaterial at this point. He has walked up to the line, stepped over it, then back, then over it, then back, ….

        At some point you just have to accept that these aren’t honest mistakes.

        I don’t know that I buy that he is signalling anti-Semitic belief. But he is signalling a belief that some hideous “others” are screwing over the true Americans (“and only I can fix it.”)

        • Nathan says:

          I dunno. Trump doesn’t seem like he is capable of subtext. If he thought the Jews were controlling everything I expect he would just say it. I mean, it wouldn’t even be crazier than saying global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese.

          • dragnubbit says:

            Keep in mind that he does not write his own speeches (few pols do nowadays). So if he is working off a teleprompter the first time he introduces some new rhetoric, the phrasing is not necessarily something he came up with.

            Two of his key speech writers (Stephen Miller and Stephen Bannon) are quite versed in dog whistling to alt-right sympathizers and feeding paranoia about outsiders. Trump also seems to think he might still have some appeal to Sanders voters.

      • Outis says:

        Ok, but it seems to actually be the case that globalization has benefited the upper economic strata at the expense of the American working and middle class; that the elites form their own international social group and have less and less concern for their countries of origin; that finance rules the world, and can wreck it with impunity (the financial crisis).

        You have to admit that people might have good reasons to be unhappy with that, without Jews entering the equation in any way.

        Now, you can say that it sounds like one of those old conspiracy theories, and people will stop thinking about it for a while. But the problems — the actual problems in Americans’ lives — keep getting worse, not better. If you keep telling people it’s an antisemitic conspiracy theory, for a while they will think “this sounds like a conspiracy theory, so it cannot be true”; but if the evidence keeps mounting, at some point it’s going to switch into “this is true, so maybe the conspiracy theorists had a point”.

        You could also put it this way: when criticism of global elites is countered with the “dog-whistle antisemitism” argument, that expends some of the goodwill and “memetic protection” that Jews have built up, and uses it for the benefit of the elites. If you are Jewish, but not a member of the global elite, you are being stolen from.

        • Urstoff says:

          What do you mean “at the expense of the American working and middle class”? Have medians of the bottom three quintiles of the income distribution been getting lower?

          • bluto says:

            http://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/chartbook/mean-household-income-of-quintiles-medium.jpg

            This looks like quintiles 2, 3, and 4 have been declining from 2000 to 2012. I’d be interested in seeing the actual numbers (to make the trend in quintile 1 more apparent as well as likely seeing beyond 2012.

          • Urstoff says:

            That graph hardly paints an apocalyptic picture of the working and middle class.

          • bluto says:

            But the point wasn’t it’s apocalyptic, the point was:

            it seems to actually be the case that globalization has benefited the upper economic strata at the expense of the American working and middle class; that the elites form their own international social group and have less and less concern for their countries of origin; that finance rules the world, and can wreck it with impunity (the financial crisis).

            You have to admit that people might have good reasons to be unhappy with that, without Jews entering the equation in any way.

            The income data would seem to agree with that statement, especially when considering real costs of tuition (and which quintile has the marginal degreeholder).

          • Urstoff says:

            Can’t really draw such an enormous causal conclusion for income data, but my reason for asking was to see whether a large decline had happened. The decline looks mild at best. The rising cost of tuition is another factor altogether (and probably has very little to do with globalization).

          • The income data by quintiles is somewhat misleading, because it’s household income not individual income. Over the period of the graph, the average size of the household fell by about 20%.

            Most of that, however, was prior to 2000, which is when the curves appear to flatten out, so adjusting for household size wouldn’t change the pattern very much.

        • Aegeus says:

          There are ways to criticize the global elite without sounding like you’re reading a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For instance, your first paragraph doesn’t sound offensive to me at all.

          Saying that “People call any criticism of the global elite an anti-semitic dogwhistle” is over-generalizing. It’s a specific way of speaking (i.e., fear-mongering about how international bankers are looting the country and secretly plotting its downfall) that sets off my conspiracy theory alarms.

        • foo bar baz says:

          I think you’re not quite getting my point (which is probably my fault, I’m not a great writer). While it’s completely reasonable to criticize globalism, the particular way Trump speaks in that speech is (or at least seems to me to be) eerily similar to anti-semitic conspiracy theories.

          For example: “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty.” Control of international banks, secret meetings with world leaders, and plotting particularly to destroy national sovereignty (as opposed to plotting generally) are all things attributed to the Jews in The Protocols, seriously. I mean, to be honest, I don’t think Trump is an anti-semite. But based on this speech, I do think he or someone on his team reads and believes conspiracy stuff written by anti-semites, which I find distressing.

          I do partially agree with you, there is a point that’s completely not anti-semitic there, like you pointed out. But Trump could have made that point saying something like “Crooked Hillary meets with big international corporations and banks so that they can make trade deals that make them richer and you poorer.” I might agree or disagree, but I would never call that anti-semitic. Maybe some liberal writer would in order to stir up some controversy, I don’t know, I’m neither one of those things. I’m just unnerved by this particular speech.

          • Oh come on, Trump is repeating ridiculous conspiracy theories, but to say it is anti-semetic is complete innuendo. I wish people would stop accusing others of biases that are entirely circumstantial. It sounds to me like the only evidence is that many others with wacky conspiracy theories have been anti-semetic.

            It is this sort of thing that makes political discussions terrible — when one side claims the other means something other than what they say. That ends any discussion right there.

          • suntzuanime says:

            People have accused Jews of sexual harassment in the past, so I find the recent attacks on Trump to be distressingly anti-semitic.

          • TMB says:

            It doesn’t matter if he’s using language reminiscent of ancient antisemitic screeds – most of us aren’t familiar with that stuff – the question is whether financial institutions have a large degree of influence over policy making, whether they are multi-national in scope, whether Clinton has links to these organisations, and whether their influence is a negative for ordinary people.

            If those things are true, then saying “antisemitic” does the antisemite’s job for them.

            In my view – if Jewish people are on average more intelligent, then they’ll tend to be overrepresented at the top of any organisation – that’s why Jewish people were overrepresented in the leadership of the Communist party, overrepresented in the leadership of Capitalism, overrepresented in science, the arts… the only way they won’t be overrepresented is if you make a specific effort to discriminate against them.

            If we can’t criticise a social structure on the grounds that Jewish people are overrepresented in its upper echelons, we probably can’t criticise anything.

            But the danger isn’t that Trump uses some language that reminds scholars of some antisemitic propaganda – the danger is that the people who believe that overrepresentation is always indicative of malignant institutional discrimination notice that Jewish people are overrepresented in, everything.
            Keep that one quiet in the present climate, or antisemitism begins to make sense.

          • “If we can’t criticise a social structure on the grounds that Jewish people are overrepresented in its upper echelons, we probably can’t criticise anything.”

            What? You can always criticize social structures for bad behavior/bad outcomes. You don’t even have to mention ethnic makeup.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz – “What? You can always criticize social structures for bad behavior/bad outcomes. You don’t have to even mention ethnic makeup.”

            If [you are saying] we can’t criticise a social structure on the grounds that Jewish people are overrepresented in its upper echelons, [then you are saying] we probably can’t criticise anything.

            …at least, that’s what I think they’re saying.

          • TMB says:

            I’m a bit confused as to how else that could be read.
            Ah.. I get it… yep… if there is a possibility I’m a raging antisemite, that sentence is unclear.

            Right, no I don’t mean “If it isn’t permissible to criticise organisations for being dominated by Jewish people then what can we do?”

            I mean “If we can’t criticise organisations where there is an overrepresentation of Jewish people, for *anything they (the organisations) might do*, then we won’t be able to criticise any institutions.”
            ———————————————–

            Can we criticise institutions for their behaviour without reference to their ethnic makeup? I mean, I’d like to think we can, but I’m not sure that’s the case.
            I’m not sure that we’re allowed to do that anymore.
            I’ve personally had people accuse me of anti-semitism because of my Bernie Sanders-esque take on financial institutions… obviously the big man himself has a certain degree of immunity to such accusations… but… seems to be an up and coming argument from Clinton fans.

            I just don’t think it’s one that is likely to benefit Jewish people, in the long run.

          • TMB, if it’s any consolation, I wasn’t thinking of you as a raging anti-Semite because I’m not that great at distinguishing people online unless they have very distincitive writing styles.

            What I posted was a knee-jerk response to that single comment– I didn’t check for context.

          • Aegeus says:

            People have accused Jews of sexual harassment in the past, so I find the recent attacks on Trump to be distressingly anti-semitic.

            Is there a particular style of accusation of sexual assault which was historically targeted at Jews, and do the present-day accusations against Trump use the same language? If so, you may have a case.

            @Foo bar baz explicitly said that there are ways to make exactly the same argument without getting called anti-Semitic, with an example, so stop making these overblown claims that every attack on the global elite will get you burned at the stake for anti-Semitism.

            It doesn’t matter if he’s using language reminiscent of ancient antisemitic screeds – most of us aren’t familiar with that stuff –

            Shockingly enough, Jews tend to be familiar with that stuff, and it matters a lot to us that this old conspiracy theory is refusing to die. You can’t argue that something isn’t a problem just because it’s only aimed at one ethnic group.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Is there a particular style of accusation of sexual assault which was historically targeted at Jews, and do the present-day accusations against Trump use the same language? If so, you may have a case.

            This, and the accusation against Trump, is one big fallacy of the undistributed middle.

            X uses this language.
            Anti-semites used the same language
            Therefore X is an anti-semite.

            It doesn’t even work as a dog whistle if it’s only Jews who can hear it; it’s a pretty crappy dog whistle if the only people who can hear it are put off by it.

          • Outis says:

            For example: “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty.”

            The meetings with international banks are well-documented. The only criticism you can make is that they weren’t secret enough.

            And as for plotting the destruction of national sovereignty, again, that is something that lots of people actually want to do. At most you can say that they’re not so much “plotting” as “openly advocating”.

            These things are before everyone’s eyes. If they were in the Protocols, so what? Maybe the authors of the Protocols looked where some historical forces were going, knew people wouldn’t like it, and decided to pin it on the Jews.

            I mean, if twenty year ago you said that homosexuals wanted to establish gay marriage, you would be accused of homophobia, it would be called a ridiculous slander, and the slippery slope fallacy would be cited at you. Yet here we are.

            Or, if you told someone in 2016 that “they want to take our guns”, you’d be called a stupid redneck and a fearmonger. Yet by 2024 the 2nd amendment had been completely neutered.

            Now, I don’t mean that *the Jews* specifically wanted to dominate world politics with international banks, or to destroy national sovereignty. But are the banks exerting more and more power on the government? Is the government increasingly unable to restrain or punish their abuses? Is there a significant pressure for weakening national sovereignty? Yes, I can definitely believe that all of those things are happening.

          • a non mouse says:

            For example: “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty.” Control of international banks, secret meetings with world leaders, and plotting particularly to destroy national sovereignty (as opposed to plotting generally) are all things attributed to the Jews in The Protocols, seriously.

            Wikileaks published the content of Hillary’s speeches to Goldman Sachs.

            She specifically said:

            My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.

            …and also mentioned how you have to have a private and a public position.

            She did have a secret meeting with international bankers. She did lay out a secret policy plan to destroy national sovereignty.

            All this and the argument against mentioning it is that well all know that Goldman Sachs actually is dominated by Jews?

            The reason you’re supposed to be concerned about anti-semitism is because it’s scapegoating an innocent group for problems which both harms that group and doesn’t solve the problem. Taking a legitimate criticism of a behavioral group that isn’t innocent, pointing out that that group overlaps significantly with a particular ethnic group and concluding that the argument therefore implicates an ethnic group turns that logic on its head. The reason to worry about anti-semitism is because it scapegoats innocents – not because it implicates Jews. If there are a group of Jews who conspired to commit a crime, taking action against them isn’t an attack on Jews – it’s an attack on criminals who are Jewish.

          • Aapje says:

            It’s a pretty common fallacy. A group has frequently been unfairly accused -> any accusation of a person in that group must thus be false.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Outis

            But are the banks exerting more and more power on the government? Is the government increasingly unable to restrain or punish their abuses?

            No to both. In fact, the reverse process is happening: the government is effectively nationalizing the big banks (through yards of detailed regulations of what they can and cannot do) while technically leaving them private. If you’re Too Big To Fail, the government keeps you on a very short leash.

            Is there a significant pressure for weakening national sovereignty?

            Why don’t you ask the EU? Great Britain, maybe?

          • Chalid says:

            She did have a secret meeting with international bankers. She did lay out a secret policy plan to destroy national sovereignty.

            A speech at a company is not a “secret meeting,” a short statement about one’s ideals and dreams is sure as hell not a “secret policy plan,” open markets and borders are not the same thing as destroying sovereignty, and everyone who has ever negotiated everything knows that you need to have distinct public and private positions.

          • Sandy says:

            @Lumifer:

            Why don’t you ask the EU? Great Britain, maybe?

            This is Larry Summers on banks, globalism and sovereignty:

            If the Italian banking system is badly undercapitalized and the democratically elected government of Italy wants to use taxpayer money to recapitalize it, why should some international agreement prevent it from doing so? Why shouldn’t countries that think, likely wrongly, that genetically modified crops are dangerous get to shield their customers from such crops? Why should the international community seek to prevent countries that wish to limit capital inflows from doing so? The issue in all these cases is not the merits. It is the principle that intrusions into sovereignty exact a high cost.

            Likewise at the onset of the Greek financial disaster, a popular refrain among opponents of austerity measures was “What Germany could not do with tanks, they now do with banks”. And some prominent Democrats have taken issue with how the big EU powers allow their banks to throw smaller countries against the wall.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            An election campaign is not *negotiating* with the public, it is (ostensibly) seeking a mandate to govern by the platform laid out. Having a public position you sell to the electorate and a private position on what you’ll actually do in office is the same sort of poor, “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further,” behavior that people hate about politicians.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Sandy

            Discussions of sovereignty are, theoretically, discussions about the proper scale of a governable society and about how much diversity can this governable society contain. At one end are large multi-ethnic multi-religious empires, at the other end are small highly homogeneous countries.

            EU’s underlying claim was that bigger is better and that the countries of Europe are too small (and too hostile to each other), so an agglomerate of them would be superior. That claim looks suspect now.

            As to the Greeks, they always had the option to tell the troika to go screw itself and Varoufakis was a notable proponent of this course of action. There was, of course, a cost to reasserting one’s sovereignty — the flow of money stops and you go bankrupt. After a rather amazing display of aerial acrobatics, Syriza decided they liked money more than sovereignty.

          • Chalid says:

            @Gobbobobble

            When Clinton makes the “public and private position” comment, she is explicitly talking about the process of making deals with congress. Read the Wikileaks source.

            “if you saw the Spielberg movie, Lincoln, and how he was maneuvering and working to get the 13th Amendment passed, and he called one of my favorite predecessors, Secretary Seward, who had been the governor and senator from New York, ran against Lincoln for president, and he told Seward, I need your help to get this done. And Seward called some of his lobbyist friends who knew how to make a deal, and they just kept going at it. I mean, politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        The Vox transcription is the best I’ve seen for catching Trump’s style and rhythm, to compare it with Harold Hill’s in The Music Man.

        Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
        I say, trouble right here in River City.
        Why sure I’m a billiard player,
        Certainly mighty proud I say
        I’m always mighty proud to say it.

        http://www.metrolyrics.com/ya-got-trouble-lyrics-music-man.html

      • Sandy says:

        If you’ve ever read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or spent any time around websites or people pushing Jewish conspiracy theories, this rhetoric will seem pretty familiar.

        Sure. This rhetoric will also seem pretty familiar if you’ve spent any time around an Occupy Wall Street gathering.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Or around parts of the far Right like the John Birch Society. When I was growing up, one of my parents’ friends was involved with them, and that sounds exactly like what she was saying.

        • qwints says:

          I attended a local occupy and followed the New York one closely, and I recall basically zero discussion about secret meetings to destroy national sovereignity. Leftist anti-semitism tends to be much more associated with anti-Israel attitudes (always protected by the it’s not anti-semitism, it’s anti-zionism) than anti-Globalism.

          I do think there’s a very intersting parallel there since both the left and the right have valid arguments that occasionally mirror really old and vile anti-Semite propaganda.

          • Aapje says:

            Leftist anti-semitism tends to be much more associated with anti-Israel attitudes (always protected by the it’s not anti-semitism, it’s anti-zionism) than anti-Globalism.

            The assertion that criticism of Israel is really anti-semitism is rather absurd, as it exempts one specific country from criticism. No country is perfect and all deserve scrutiny. Secondly, by making such a link you are effectively arguing that Israel’s behavior is inherently Jewish, so you complicit in people making the leap from ‘I dislike Israeli politics’ to ‘I dislike Jews.’

          • Jiro says:

            Criticism of Israel isn’t necessarily anti-semitic, but it very often is.

            Secondly, by making such a link you are effectively arguing that Israel’s behavior is inherently Jewish

            Not really. I’m arguing that the people who say that think of Israel’s behavior as inherently Jewish. It doesn’t have to actually be inherently Jewish for that.

          • Anonymous says:

            The assertion that criticism of Israel is really anti-semitism is rather absurd, as it exempts one specific country from criticism.

            That’s not really the assertion that he made, though. Rather, people in the contemporary left (Labour in the UK have been going through a bit of internal warfare lately over this) will frequently rant about THA JUICE very generally and then when they get excoriated for it, fall back on claiming they just hate Israel with a burning, disproportionate passion and love Hamas for no reason, and if the axe falls on other Jews it’s only because of their damned support for the Satan State, Israel, and blah blah can’t a man even oppose Zionism anymore without being called an anti-semite.

          • Lumifer says:

            The motte and bailey approach is quite useful here.

          • qwints says:

            “The assertion that criticism of Israel is really anti-semitism is rather absurd, as it exempts one specific country from criticism”.

            Anonymous made my point quite well. It’s not that criticizing Israeli atrocities is anti-semitic, it’s that some people on the left who criticize Israeli atrocities do so in an anti-semitic manner or a manner that sounds very similar to anti-semitism.

          • I’ve also heard accounts of left-wingers on campuses harassing random Jews about Israel without finding out what those Jews think of Israel’s policies.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It works both ways. There’s plenty of purported criticism of Israel and “Zionism” that is thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. And there’s criticism of Israel that gets smeared as anti-Semitism.

          • Aapje says:

            Anonymous made my point quite well. It’s not that criticizing Israeli atrocities is anti-semitic, it’s that some people on the left who criticize Israeli atrocities do so in an anti-semitic manner or a manner that sounds very similar to anti-semitism.

            My issue is that people who claim this, frequently give examples where many other explanations are possible, rather than anti-semitism. Then the accusation of anti-semitism is more telling about the close-minded mindset of the person who makes the charge, IMO.

            A common example is the claim that a person is anti-semitic because (s)he places more scrutiny on Israel than other nations. Even if the latter is true (which is hard to prove from a brief interaction online), there are a host of reasons other than anti-semitism which can produce such a bias.

            For instance, the person can have special feelings for Palestinians. If a Western Christian cares about persecution of Christians in Sudan, more than persecution of Muslims somewhere else, that is also not evidence of Islamophobia, but rather of Christophilia.

            Another possibility is that they are prejudiced in favor of Jews/western culture/etc and hold them to higher standards in the same way that one holds an adult to a higher standard than a child. Disillusionment can result in a biased reaction (‘You are better than that’).

            At this point, when I see someone call another person an anti-Semite, it makes me more negatively predisposed against the accuser than the accused, as most accusations appear baseless (see the latest Trump accusation). This is similar to how I react when one person calls another a poopyhead.

      • roystgnr says:

        “International Socialism” is an anti-semitic dog whistle? When did that happen?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Socialist_Review_(1900)
        https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/isr/index.htm
        http://isj.org.uk/
        https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/isj/index.html
        https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/isr/index.htm

        It’s not exactly the phrase Marx would have picked, but it’s been the self-applied descriptor for a proud faction of socialism for more than a century. (practically the *only* proud faction of socialism ever since the “national socialism” and “socialism in one country” alternatives went psychotic…)

    • pku says:

      The narrative falls in with the antisemitic narrative – there’s a group of sneaky, treacherous people who run the world’s banks and are out to get us strong, martial people who have fallen on hard times due to our simple honesty.

      Compare calls to enforce diversity quotas in University hiring: In effect, this is probably antisemitic – non-Jewish whites are probably severely underrepresented in academia, so diversifying academia would mean, in effect, having a quota on the number of jews hired, which is what antisemitic 1920s schools had. This doesn’t get accused of antisemitism, though, since it doesn’t fit the antisemitic narrative (instead of “the jews are sneakily stealing our positions”, the narrative is “the sneaky jews strong whites are using their immense power to crush us”).

      • dndnrsn says:

        Diversity quotas for university hiring and admission will also necessitate discrimination against Asians (especially East Asians) unless those diversity quotas are rigged so as to not even try to produce demographics similar to national, state/province, city, etc in most places. There’s already de facto discrimination against Asians in university admissions in a lot of places, for similar reasons to the discrimination against Jews in the 1920s etc.

        This doesn’t seem to get much attention, either, and it’s hard to explain this as Asians somehow getting lumped in with whites.

        • Anonymous says:

          This doesn’t seem to get much attention, either

          My impression is that it’s a perpetual source of ire and the object of constant attention in the Asian-American community, but that the outrage never filters into Whitey’s cultural bubble because it’s so uncomfortably off-message.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The outrage never seems to actually get as far as “hey, let’s publicly oppose these discriminatory policies and the people who are putting them into place,” so it is of little practical import.

          • qwints says:

            Given that Asian-American groups have sued to stop discriminatory policies, I have to disagree with you ThirteenthLetter

          • dndnrsn says:

            Among people of Asian descent, yes. However, that doesn’t (as Anonymous notes, although I might disagree as to why) percolate out to the American mainstream (given that people of part or full Asian descent are five and a half percent of the US population).

            The popular presentation of those opposing affirmative action is people like that white woman who sued over University of Texas administration policies. The popular pro-AA view is that those grousing about it are mediocre white people who probably wouldn’t have gotten in anyway. The Asian applicants who absolutely would have gotten in if SATs and high school marks were the only things counted get ignored.

      • TMB says:

        I didn’t think that diversity quotas targeted Jewish people as a separate race? Aren’t they counted as “white” for those purposes?

        I’m pretty sure that if you decided to limit the number of Jews in academia (Jews specifically), it would be called antisemitic. (Anyway, should be trivial to get around – they can just call themselves “white”)

        But, anyway, this is the problem – you’re going to have a lot of disgruntled non-Jewish whites, pushed out of their career field because they didn’t meet the quota, because they are the ones with all the privilege etc. etc., and even if they don’t believe it, the temptation is to use the system to pick on someone who might be slightly above them on the privilege totem.
        Once the system is set up in that way, it’s just a matter of time before someone attempts to use it.

        • “I didn’t think that diversity quotas targeted Jewish people as a separate race?”

          As far as I know they don’t. But one way in which universities in the past, perhaps the present, held down the number of Jews they admitted was by pushing geographical diversity. Lots of applicants from New York, not many from Montana, so if one of your objectives is geographical diversity you favor applicants from Montana–which doesn’t have many Jews.

          Doesn’t work as well now as it did ninety years ago, the Jewish population having spread out some.

      • a non mouse says:

        That’s actually the opposite of how it works.

        Jewish people are counted under the white quota and (in elite institutions) are overrepresented relative to the numbers of high IQ applicants (something like 42% of students admitted under the white quota at Harvard are Jewish).

        Ron Unz:

        Even more remarkable are the historical trajectories. As noted earlier, America’s Asian population has been growing rapidly over the last couple of decades, so the substantial decline in reported Ivy League Asian enrollment has actually constituted a huge drop relative to their fraction of the population. Meanwhile, the population of American Jews has been approximately constant in numbers, and aging along with the rest of the white population, leading to a sharp decline in the national proportion of college-age Jews, falling from 2.6 percent in 1972 and 2.2 percent in 1992 to just 1.8 percent in 2012. Nevertheless, total Jewish enrollment at elite universities has held constant or actually increased, indicating a large rise in relative Jewish admissions. In fact, if we aggregate the reported enrollment figures, we discover that 4 percent of all college-age American Jews are currently enrolled in the Ivy League, compared to just 1 percent of Asians and about 0.1 percent of whites of Christian background.53

        … [skipping various other pieces of evidence – you can read the whole thing if you’re so inclined]

        Another interesting example is MIT, whose students probably rank fifth in academic strength, just below the three HYP schools and Caltech, and whose admissions standards are far closer to a meritocratic ideal than is found in most elite schools, though perhaps not quite as pristine as those of its Caltech rival. Karabel notes that MIT has always had a far more meritocratic admissions system than nearby Harvard, tending to draw those students who were academic stars even if socially undistinguished. As an example, in the 1930s Feynman had been rejected by his top choice of Columbia possibly due to its Jewish quota, and instead enrolled at MIT.59 But today, MIT’s enrollment is just 9 percent Jewish, a figure lower than that anywhere in the Ivy League, while Asians are nearly three times as numerous, despite the school being located in one of the most heavily Jewish parts of the country.

        from http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

        The whole thing makes an interesting read. (The author is Jewish if that changes how you feel about the writing).

    • Sandy says:

      This is the bit that Vox condemned as an antisemitic dog-whistle:

      It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities…

      We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors…

      Various progressive sources have condemned bankers as thieves robbing the American people because of their “pernicious cultural norms” (even dropping Jewish names like Lloyd Blankfein), or have cited the controlling influence of banking elites on both Clintons (again, dropping Jewish names like Robert Rubin), or claimed international bankers are undermining democracy worldwide. Somehow this sort of rhetoric was not denounced as antisemitic dog-whistles. Some have even criticized the use of the word “globalist” as antisemitic. Surely we will all write the New York Times to let them know how ugly a headline like “Besieged Jews Wonder What Went Wrong” is. I am reasonably sure significant elements of both the left and the right have criticized gatherings of the Davos Conference and Bilderberg group over the years as cozily insulated elites running the world via fiat.

      But now some want to discourage anti-elitist tendencies on both the left and the right because they’ve made the connection that a disproportionate number of these elites are, in fact, Jewish. And they’re aware that if they’ve made this connection, people with uglier opinions of Jews will make the connection as well, or have made it already. Personally I have quite a bit of sympathy for inegalitarianism and elitism, but I’ve always been given to understand that these are reactionary inclinations, not the sort of argument people with impeccable progressive credentials should be making.

      • The Nybbler says:

        There’s also the point that it isn’t Trump’s fault that Hillary arranged her life to look like a conspiracy theory.

        There’s long been a strain of conspiracy theory which claims the elites are trying to turn US sovereignty over to the UN. Most versions of it aren’t anti-semitic.

        • Gazeboist says:

          This article* (which I found very interesting; it fit my impression of Clinton quite well) posits that some time in the 90s she just gave up on not looking sketchy, where typical politicians would at least put some effort into avoiding the appearance of bad behavior regardless of whether their behavior was unusually good, unusually bad, or just typical.

          * Apologies for another Vox link, I suppose…

          • pku says:

            Thanks, that is interesting. One of the few times Vox talks about gender in a way that actually gets me to nod along.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I actually found the gender stuff really annoying. I have most of a blog post responding to the article (though I still need to watch the accompanying interview) which I’ll probably put up some time tomorrow. But the rest, especially the beginning, definitely confirmed some thoughts I had already had. It also made me sympathize with her a great deal, since I found that Klein’s description of her thought process came close to describing my own.

    • S_J says:

      Remind me again…

      What rhetoric did the Occupy Wall Street movement have about global elites, big business, and international banking?

      What that rhetoric anti-Semitic? If so, why?

      If not, why not?

  3. Agronomous says:

    This is a sincere question, and I’d appreciate it if people didn’t deploy snark on those who respond sincerely to it:

    I hear Trump described as “right-wing” and “far-right” and “ultra-conservative”. From my perspective, as an actual conservative, this seems completely wrong: his economic populism has little or nothing to do with the Buckley-forged American conservative coalition of the last 50 years or so; his foreign policy seems to consist of getting tough on every other country except the ones who actually pose a threat (plus we should kill all the terrorists while staying out of the Middle East); as far as social issues go, the guy hosted a NARAL fundraiser, for crying out loud. In short, I’m pissed off that Trump’s the Republican nominee because he’s not a conservative.

    Is “Trump is Ultra-Conservative” a sincere belief? Roughly that the core of right-wing thought is getting tough on illegal immigration?

    Is it more, “Well, he’s the enemy, and ‘Right-Wing’ is always how we describe the enemy, and he’s worse than the previous enemies, so he must be more Right-Wing”?

    A related question: do we have a clear picture of exactly who did get Trump nominated? My theory was “This is how the white working class riots”, but apparently he either got a lot of support from college-educated Republicans, or a lot of his support was college-educated.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      The issue is that “Buckley-forged” conservatism is not, in itself, particularly conservative. The reason his followers were able to hold onto the ‘conservative’ brand for so long was that, in a centralized media environment, they could marginalize paleocons like Pat Buchanan who represented a more traditionally conservative view.

      Trump isn’t any kind of conservative himself, that’s pretty obvious, but his campaign has successfully highlighted a lot of the areas where Conservatism Inc fails as a conservative movement. Foreign adventurism and empire building are not conservative. Globalism and mass immigration are not conservative. Financial speculation and corporate welfare are not conservative. The “Invade the World, Invite the World” paradigm is a fundamental rejection of conservative principles.

      So while Trump personally is not of the right, I’d say his campaign is more right than the Republican mainstream.

      • Part of the problem is that “conservative” is both a political label and a more general description. In the second sense, the conservative position in the U.S. at present is to maintain the institutions of the present and recent past, which would include the New Deal shift towards a much more powerful government than the U.S. used to have. In that sense, Bill Clinton was a reasonably conservative president.

        In the first sense, American conservatism was, roughly speaking, the Buckley conservative+libertarian coalition. The argument is not that it wasn’t conservative but that it isn’t currently supported by enough people to make a serious political movement and the version of conservatism that Trump is appealing to might be.

        In which case the label may shift.

    • Phil says:

      A related question: do we have a clear picture of exactly who did get Trump nominated? My theory was “This is how the white working class riots”, but apparently he either got a lot of support from college-educated Republicans, or a lot of his support was college-educated.

      I read something from one of the polling companies (can’t find a link right now unfortunately) that said that if you put Trump against each of the individual remaining candidates then he beat all of them in 2-horse races based on people’s reported preferences. (iow, if the Republican party had just run a straight Condorcet PR vote at the beginning of the process, Trump would have won outright.) Which means that one of the reasons Trump won was that the rest of the ticket was just awful from the point of view of the average Republican primary voter.

      • onyomi says:

        “Which means that one of the reasons Trump won was that the rest of the ticket was just awful from the point of view of the average Republican primary voter.”

        Other than the ghost of Reagan, what on earth is the average Republican primary voter looking for?

        • Anonymous says:

          Other than the ghost of Reagan, what on earth is the average Republican primary voter looking for?

          Two ghosts of Reagan, to run on a joint ticket.

          • Fahundo says:

            If there are only two ghosts, who is the Supreme Court appointee?

          • Anonymous says:

            Supreme Court appointments are for life, so you can’t put a ghost on the bench. I think they’re hoping for a reanimated Strom Thurmond. (He is dead by now, right?)

          • The Nybbler says:

            Oh come on, Anonymous, you’re not even trying. If you’re going for that, try a “reanimated Roger Taney”.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Now, now, Anonymous – following the literal text of the Constitution (we’re all literalists here, right?), Supreme Court appointments are “during good behavior.” And as good Conservatives, we don’t want to say that dying is bad behavior, do we?

        • Iain says:

          At this point I think it’s hard to deny that Trump is what the average Republican primary voter is looking for.

          Vox has written a lot of articles about how consistently “racial resentment” shows up as the most important predictor of Trump support. Trump’s base is white people who have issues with black people, Hispanic people, and/or Muslims.

          The second most important factor is how badly you say the economy is doing. Note: that’s not necessarily the same as being economically disadvantaged. Vox cites a lot of studies that have difficulty finding a correlation between objective economic measures and Trump support; meanwhile, there is a fairly robust body of evidence showing that economic perceptions are mediated by partisanship.

          In short: Agronomous’s line “this is how the white working class riots” seems more or less right, with the emphasis very much on the “white”.

          • cassander says:

            >Vox has written a lot of articles about how consistently “racial resentment” shows up as the most important predictor of Trump support

            And if vox had been around in 2012, they’d have said the same thing about Romney.

          • The Ghost of Andrew Jackson says:

            What sort of racial resentment might this be? The kind that attributes disparities in outcome in certain environments to ethnic conspiracies, and attributes vague feelings of malaise to ethnic conspiracies when the disparities in outcome go the other way?

          • Iain says:

            @cassander: Nope. If you’re going to be snarky about Vox, at least pay enough attention to attack the right argument.

            Your link is about the general election. (It also explicitly says that “Romney’s welfare ads are not racist”, but hey, why bother reading?) This discussion is about the Republican primary, where support for Romney and McCain had a slight negative correlation with racial resentment, and support for Trump had a strong positive correlation. Here’s the key graph (taken from this section of the Vox article; more here).

            @The Ghost of Andrew Jackson: Good question! If only somebody had posted a bunch of links that you could read to find out!

          • cassander says:

            @Iain

            You must have missed this:

            “Among those who saw it,” reports Tesler, “racial resentment affected whether people thought Romney will help the poor, the middle class and African Americans. Moreover, seeing the ad did not activate other attitudes, such as party or ideological self-identification. It only primed racial resentment.”

            And we haven’t eveng gotten to people who aren’t ezra klein yet.

          • Iain says:

            I seriously don’t know what you’re trying to argue. Did you look at my reply? Would you like to respond to the graphs that show a clear difference between Trump’s support and McCain/Romney’s support? Do you have a reason to believe that any of Tesler’s research is incorrect or misleadingly framed? Or do you just want to keep feeling victimized by media outlets printing factually correct statements about the supporters of political candidates?

            PS: I hate to defend Salon, the Breitbart of the Left, but for any innocent bystanders reading this conversation I feel the need to point out that the only one of Salon’s “Nine most racist moments of the 2012 campaign” that is about Romney is the same issue with welfare rhetoric from cassander’s first link. If cassander’s theory is that the media will paint every Republican candidate as the same sort of terrible racist regardless of the evidence, I’m not seeing a very strong case.

          • cassander says:

            @Iain

            >Would you like to respond to the graphs that show a clear difference between Trump’s support and McCain/Romney’s support?

            That trump is running a very different campaign than romney, in different cirumstances.

            >Do you have a reason to believe that any of Tesler’s research is incorrect or misleadingly framed?

            Tessler’s research was claiming that mitt romney was running a race baiting campaign. I don’t bother investigating such claims anymore, they come every 4 years regardless.

            >If cassander’s theory is that the media will paint every Republican candidate as the same sort of terrible racist regardless of the evidence, I’m not seeing a very strong case.

            Definitely not the same sort of racist. That’s not my theory at all. The theory is that every republican candidate get painted as an even worse racist than all the republicans that have come before, and to pair that with some pining for the guy that, 4-8 years earlier, they were saying was the worst person ever.

          • Iain says:

            1. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial that Trump has engaged in more race-baiting than previous Republican candidates. You yourself say that Trump is running a different campaign than Romney, so your vendetta against Vox for pointing that out is bizarre.
            2. For the same reason, you can’t draw a trend line from Romney to Trump and then accuse the Evil Liberal Media of ever-increasing false racism allegations (unless you would like to make the case that Romney was just as racist as Trump). If your claim were true, then you would also be able to show that Romney was accused of being more racist than McCain. Given that you’ve stooped to linking Salon and have still only come up with one accusation of racism against Romney, I don’t buy it.
            3. The elephant in the room here is your entirely evidence-free assertion that all of these accusations are made up. Outside your weird bubble, the simple explanation for a media organization publishing reports that some campaign tactics appeal disproportionately to people who score highly on certain measures of racial resentment is that those reports are true. You seem to think that the argument ends as soon as you show that somebody has accused a Republican of being racist. If you want to convince people, you might want to, you know, provide evidence that those allegations are false.

          • cassander says:

            >2. For the same reason, you can’t draw a trend line from Romney to Trump and then accuse the Evil Liberal Media of ever-increasing false racism allegations (unless you would like to make the case that Romney was just as racist as Trump). If your claim were true, then you would also be able to show that Romney was accused of being more racist than McCain.

            I can point to many such articles

            http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/10/opinion/ifill-black-voters-romney/

            http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/09/11/the-unreported-racism-of-the-2012-election-0-of-african-americans-support-romney/

            http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-campaign-whites-idUSBRE89A07C20121011

            >3. The elephant in the room here is your entirely evidence-free assertion that all of these accusations are made up. Outside your weird bubble, the simple explanation for a media organization publishing reports that some campaign tactics appeal disproportionately to people who score highly on certain measures of racial resentment is that those reports are true.

            You mean like how democrats explicitly promise to reward minority voters with affirmative action and other special treatment? There’s only one party in the US that makes explicit promises to racial groups for their support in elections, and it’s not the Republicans.

            >You seem to think that the argument ends as soon as you show that somebody has accused a Republican of being racist.

            No, the argument ends when a person accuses EVERY republican of being racist.

          • Chalid says:

            @cassander

            None of those articles remotely say that Romney was more racist than McCain. Merely noting that Romney got less black support than McCain is not the same thing as calling him more racist.

            (For bystanders – the first article explicitly blames *other* Republicans such as Joe Wilson heckling Obama’s SOTU. The second article is actually a right-winger calling black people racist for not supporting Romney. The third is just demographic analysis saying things like “Romney needs to turn out older white voters.”)

          • Iain says:

            There’s only one party in the US that makes explicit promises to racial groups for their support in elections, and it’s not the Republicans.

            An outsider looking at American politics would see one party that is racially diverse, and one party that is 90% white. Tell me again which party is making an appeal to specific racial groups? Are the Democrats winning Asian-American voters with promises of affirmative action? Did Hillary Clinton do a bunch of really subtle pandering to Vietnamese-American voters, a historically Republican constituency that is abandoning Trump? Are you physically capable of considering the hypothesis that minority voters are capable of detecting racist rhetoric when it is deployed against them?

            It’s revealing that you have produced so much evidence of people calling Republicans racist, without a shred of evidence that they’re incorrect to do so. Maybe there’s a reason for that.

      • dragnubbit says:

        I can believe that. He was clearly the strongest candidate and has the biggest base of support. The GOP primary base has been primed for the last 8 years for him, with anger, hatred and fear (much of it directed at government) animating the party instead of coalition-building (god, guns and gays). And he was promising the yugest tax cut.

      • cassander says:

        I would say that trump’s talent for publicity, combined with the fact that no one else was running against immigration, was far more important than any feeling of awfulness by republican primary voters.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      Is “Trump is Ultra-Conservative” a sincere belief? Roughly that the core of right-wing thought is getting tough on illegal immigration?

      A lot of people do seem to think that. Here in Britain, the BNP are (or were, when they were still worth talking about) usually described as “far-right”, despite the fact that in pretty much everything other than immigration their policies are to the left of Labour’s (or Labour as it stood before Corbyn became party leader).

      • It’s not surprising, Mist people don’t have a concept of populism or libertarianism separate from the left&rihht access.

        • Richard says:

          This is a fantastic typo. ‘Mist people’ will forever be my go-to term for the grey mass of people who don’t take an issue seriously enough to think about it for 10 minutes.

      • Anonymous says:

        But this is a very common problem, isn’t it? I guess I’m opening a can of worms here, but the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and its latter-day imitators are frequently called far-right despite initiatives like the People’s Car, Solidarity of the People (i.e. social welfare programs for whoever was adjudged racially pure), full-employment policy, and generally opposing capitalism as inherently Jewish and rapacious of the German worker and community. Elsewhere in the thread it’s been pointed out that a large subclass of critiques of globalized capital sound inherently antisemitic even if nobody says a word about Jews, and there’s a reason for that.

        But still, somehow the Nazis are supposed to have been right-wing, because apparently being racist is inherently right-wing and being right-wing makes you a racist, or something.

        (Well, it’s pretty easy to figure out why, of course. If the left had accepted that the crimes of Nazism were to be chalked up to left-wing ideology as well as those of the Soviets and China (and later the Khmer Rouge and so on, of course), it would no doubt have been devastating for the credibility of any left/progressive ideology in the post-war period; making Nazism a right-wing bogeyman instead levelled the playing field in some sense.)

        • TMB says:

          “..it would no doubt have been devastating for the credibility of any left/progressive ideology in the post-war period”

          I suppose, what we can say is that liberalism – an ideology which celebrates the atomised individual – doesn’t provoke atrocity, because collective action is inherently illiberal. The War in the Vendee wasn’t provoked by liberalism because *something* *something* true liberalism.

          As I see it, “right wing”, means that you accept theoretically that there should be inequality, and “left wing” means that you don’t.

          I mean, if you’re using social welfare programs as a measure of left and right wing, surely the Western democracies are left wing also? Right wing governments have a 0/0 record for atrocities… not sure how impressive that is.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          The left-right scale of ideology has both social and economic components. When people say far-right, they are emphasising the social component (people don’t call anarcho-capitalists far-right). Specifically, they are emphasising the nationalist part of the social component. So even though the Nazis weren’t economically very right-wing it is logical to call them far-right.

          But even if they aren’t economically “far-right”, that doesn’t mean it makes sense to group them with the Soviets as “left-wing ideology”. Their existence proves that centrist/moderately left-wing economic ideas don’t inevitably lead to a happy and successful society, it doesn’t prove that they do inevitably lead to Hitler.

          Sidenote: discussions of Nazi economic policy are complicated by the fact that for a large part of their existence the main aim of it was to produce military success. Likewise, the temporary existence of rationing in the UK in 1917 and 1918 wasn’t indicative of a sudden left-wing shift.

          • Anonymous says:

            Specifically, they are emphasising the nationalist part of the social component. So even though the Nazis weren’t economically very right-wing it is logical to call them far-right.

            But this is begging the question; Mr. X’s original comment was about what a very illogical result that very assumption produces when applied to the policies of the BNP. I pointed out that the same is true of literal National Socialism (whose very name seems rather to refute your claim), and I suppose we might add to that the Soviet’s “Socialism in One Nation”, which hopefully nobody wants to call right-wing.

            In other words, the argument here is that branding nationalism as inherently right-wing is nonsensical and produces absurd results. Responding to that with “but it’s inherently right-wing though” isn’t really satisfactory.

          • TMB says:

            the argument here is that branding nationalism as inherently right-wing is nonsensical and produces absurd results.

            It makes perfect sense if “right-wing” means “accepting (or celebrating) inequality”.

            It doesn’t make sense if right wing means “liberalism, except where liberalism is applied to sexual mores”

            But that definition is pretty meaningless, because there can’t be any extension. There are some things that are right wing, some things that are left wing – we all know what they are, but there is no clear rule for the assignation. A collection of random items.

          • Lumifer says:

            It makes perfect sense if “right-wing” means “accepting (or celebrating) inequality”.

            Yup, take a well-known right-wing farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” X -D

          • Maas says:

            (people don’t call anarcho-capitalists far-right)

            Is that true?

          • TMB says:

            “Right, take a well-known right-wing farm…”

            Exactly! A famous left-wing criticism of Soviet Russia.

          • Anonymous says:

            @TMB

            It makes perfect sense if “right-wing” means “accepting (or celebrating) inequality”.

            But that’s a desktop construction, it doesn’t pattern-match well to real movements, which have often called themselves socialist and implemented socialist policies while still accepting that inequality will exist to a fairly large extent (e.g. the entire “Nordic model” of socialism). It also totally disregards the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome (or maybe you just omitted to define which you meant?) – a lot of the European socialist movements of the 20th century only wanted the former, does that make them right-wing? What about the European classical-liberal or even conservative movements which strive for equality of opportunity on meritocratic grounds?

            What exactly counts as inequality? Who decides? If the National Socialist party wants equality for all those of the pure race but doesn’t give a fuck about Untermenschen since they’re physically incapable of being equal in the first place, like dogs or cockroaches are incapable of it, does that count?

            @Maas

            Is that true?

            No, I don’t think it is.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @sweeneyrod: I’ve always considered ancaps to be right-wing, and I always thought most people do.

            @Anonymous:

            I wonder why more people don’t consider stuff like Stalin’s habits of deporting entire ethnic groups to be racist. Of course, it’s entirely possible that this is a fairly obscure thing, compared to the (considerably greater) crimes of Nazi Germany.

          • TMB says:

            it doesn’t pattern-match well to real movements, which have often called themselves socialist and implemented socialist policies while still accepting that inequality will exist to a fairly large extent

            Well, there is a continuum of attitudes towards inequality – if I believe that every person should have enough to eat, that is more left wing than those who believe that some should starve, but less left wing than those who believe all consumption should be equal.

            It also totally disregards the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome

            Equality of opportunity is less left wing than equality of outcome, because equality of outcome includes equality of opportunity (where it is an opportunity to get something).

            a lot of the European socialist movements of the 20th century only wanted the former, does that make them right-wing?

            Again, more right-wing than people who are in favour of equality of outcome, less right wing than people who believe that there are certain classes of people who are not deserving of even opportunity.

            What about the European classical-liberal or even conservative movements which strive for equality of opportunity on meritocratic grounds?

            See above.

            What exactly counts as inequality? Who decides? If the National Socialist party wants equality for all those of the pure race but doesn’t give a fuck about Untermenschen since they’re physically incapable of being equal in the first place, like dogs or cockroaches are incapable of it, does that count?

            Well, I would say that’s pretty right wing, because you’re saying that these humans are not to be treated as people.
            In practice, perhaps the Stalinist Soviet Union was equally right-wing, in theory left-wing.

            It’s like, if I said, in the middle ages, the household of a knight shared in his wealth and had a lovely time, would that confuse us into thinking that feudalism was a left-wing institution?

            It only makes sense as a comparison, but we can say that the social institutions of feudalism were more right wing than those of modern democracies because it was based upon the belief that individuals should be treated differently, in very broad and significant swathes of life, more so than in ours.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Anonymous
            Firstly, I would dispute Mr. X’s claim that the BNP are generally left of Old New Labour. Their policies are here. Restoring capital punishment, “tougher treatment of criminals”, stopping foreign aid and putting scare quotes around global warming are not exactly left-wing. Economically, they do make noises about making globalist corporations pay their fair share, but so does Trump. Their only concrete comment on economic policy is a promise to raise the inheritance threshold, which isn’t left-wing. They do want to build more social housing, but that is generic populist “we’ll do good stuff”: they explicitly state that they’ll build “decent housing that encourages the stable family unit”, not “socialist concrete monstrosities”.

            My main point is that “right-wing”, “left-wing” and “far-right” are terms that describe political clusters in a context. The properties of the Nazis that people care about are labelled “right-wing” and “far-right” and so the Nazis are deemed “right-wing” overall. Likewise, the important properties of the Soviets are labelled “left-wing”, so they are deemed to be “left-wing” overall. But just as certain Nazi economic policies could be deemed “left-wing”, certain Soviet nationalist policies could be deemed “right-wing”. The reason nationalism is considered right-wing is that it correlates with being part of the right-wing cluster.

            On the specific matter of the Nazis’ economics, context is very important. The left-wing/right-wing spectrum isn’t some eternal, immutable thing. A policy of enforced profit sharing in heavy industries would be very left-wing in the modern USA, it was not in 1930s Germany where it is competing with “seize the means of production and kill the bourgeoisie”.

            Regarding the use of “far-right” to refer to libertarians: I’ve never seen it. It might happen occasionally, but it isn’t common (and hopefully won’t become so, otherwise “far-right” will have to join “socialist” and “fascist” in the graveyard of useless political terms).

            @dndnrsn

            Yes, ancaps definitely are right-wing (I was arguing that libertarians are right-wing in a previous thread). But they aren’t often called “far-right”.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ sweeneyrod

            My main point is that “right-wing”, “left-wing” and “far-right” are terms that describe political clusters in a context.

            That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it? If the terms are that fluid, they don’t mean much. For someone on the left, “left-wing” basically means “people and policies I like”, “right-wing” means “people and policies I dislike” and “far-right” means “people and policies I absolutely detest”. Reverse the sign for someone on the right.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Lumifer
            Not necessarily. It is certainly possible to be left-wing, recognise that the Soviet Union was left-wing, and still dislike it (i.e. you can dislike people who are in the same cluster, but more (or less) extreme than you). Likewise, libertarians can dislike Bible Belt conservatives (i.e. you can dislike people who are in the same cluster, but emphasise different variables). People can debate about edge cases (as is happening here, and happened about libertarians previously), and the left-right spectrum isn’t a useful model in all cases, but the terms are still well-defined; no-one is claiming Marx was right-wing, or that Buckley was a leftist.

          • @TMB:
            “Well, there is a continuum of attitudes towards inequality – if I believe that every person should have enough to eat, that is more left wing than those who believe that some should starve, but less left wing than those who believe all consumption should be equal.”

            What if you believe that free markets are more likely to result in everyone having enough to eat than government control–a belief supported by at least two mass famines in the past century created by left wing governments? Does that make libertarians left wing?

            The proposed definition ignores disagreements about what institutions have what consequences, assumes that the only reason to be for or against socialism is being for or against the consequences that socialists say socialism produces, and similarly for capitalism.

            That’s a very common and very serious mistake. People assume that of course their beliefs about consequences are true, so the only reason to disagree with their politics is that you are against the good results their preferred policies would produce. Hence they are morally superior, their opponents bad people.

            “Equality of opportunity is less left wing than equality of outcome, because equality of outcome includes equality of opportunity (where it is an opportunity to get something).”

            If people differ in their abilities, equality of opportunity is inconsistent with equality of outcome. Given the same opportunities, some people will do better than others, get better outcomes.

            One could conjecture that the reason people on the left don’t want to believe in innate inequality is to avoid that conflict.

            @Sweeneyrod:

            “It is certainly possible to be left-wing, recognise that the Soviet Union was left-wing, and still dislike it (i.e. you can dislike people who are in the same cluster, but more (or less) extreme than you).”

            Rejecting “pas d’ennemis à gauche” ?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @David Friedman
            Well, yes. That isn’t a fixed law of the universe, rather a pithy description of the way left-wing people tend not to criticize slightly more left-wing people on policy. Leftists who actively support the Soviet Union are very much in a minority. Additionally, that phrase raises the question of how well-defined the political directions left and right are. Is it no enemies who care more about gender equality? Or no enemies with a greater desire to seize the means of production?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @sweeneyrod:

            Ancaps are a weird case in that they are far to the right, arguably, but “far right” carries connotations of all sorts of things that ancaps tend to be hostile to.

          • TMB says:

            @David Friedman

            What if you believe that free markets are more likely to result in everyone having enough to eat than government control

            I suppose it depends on the first level of disagreement. If we disagree only on which policy will best achieve our shared aims, the one who is more right wing will be the one whose policy is less egalitarian. So, an anarcho-capitalist (motivated by the effectiveness of the free market + capitalism, rather than purely ethical (“property rights”) considerations) would be more right wing than a social democrat. They tie for wingedness on the meta-level, and so the object level policies decide it. (The left wing policies might be wrong – they are still left wing, though.)

            a belief supported by at least two mass famines in the past century created by left wing governments?

            What do you think about the ‘Late Victorian Holocaust’ theory?

            The proposed definition ignores disagreements about what institutions have what consequences, assumes that the only reason to be for or against socialism is being for or against the consequences that socialists say socialism produces, and similarly for capitalism.

            I don’t think so – I might say that I’m opposed to open borders because I believe it will be disastrous for everyone. I’d still be more right- wing than someone who thought open borders would be good for everyone, and either of us might be correct. Someone, who thought that open borders would be good for them and theirs, and the rest of the world be damned, would be more right wing still.
            I agree that often, disagreements about how to achieve an aim turn into accusations of right wing meta level ethics.
            And there is nothing more unfashionable than right wing meta-level ethics. (Necessarily limited in appeal)

            If people differ in their abilities, equality of opportunity is inconsistent with equality of outcome. Given the same opportunities, some people will do better than others, get better outcomes.

            “Opportunity” refers to a chance to get something. If everyone has the same chance to get the same things, isn’t that equality of opportunity? Unless the work itself is of value.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Anonymous

            If the National Socialist party wants equality for all those of the pure race but doesn’t give a fuck about Untermenschen since they’re physically incapable of being equal in the first place, like dogs or cockroaches are incapable of it, does that count?

            I don’t think the Nazis did consistently call for “equality” among the Aryans, just that Aryans were superior to other races and should help each other. In fact, the very concept of class collaboration in service of the racial struggle means that there would be Aryans with unequal wealth and position assisting their fellows to get rid of the unacceptably unequal inferior races.

            National Socialism is built on Social Darwinism and inequality from top to bottom. The claim is that there is a compatible inequality (a beneficent inequality as Mussolini called it) between classes of the same race and an incompatible inequality between races themselves. This did not mean that “equality” was sought as a general goal, since class collaboration presupposes the continuation of hierarchy and classes, and private initiative in service of the race, whereas the socialists thought they could abolish classes and create a leveling of peoples.

            “Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.” = a far far right wing view of life. To espouse eternal struggle is to run against left wing conceptions of progress and the final satiation of want, from the Whig History of the liberals to the Historical Materialism of the Marxists.

            The only reason the Nazis weren’t flat economic “Darwinists” is that they thought this made them less effective as a society, so internal struggle was resolved in order to magnify external struggle.

          • ” If everyone has the same chance to get the same things, isn’t that equality of opportunity? ”

            If it’s the same *chance* to get the same things, that implies a probabilistic outcome hence inequality of outcome.

            Beyond that, I don’t think most people define equality of opportunity in the way you describe. There’s an old sf story where smart people have to have something that interrupts their thoughts from time to time, strong people have to wear weights, all in order that people will have equal opportunity in your sense–all differences due to differences in people eliminated.

            Is that what you mean by equal opportunity? What you think other people mean by it?

          • That story is “Harrison Bergeron” by Vonnegut.

          • Acedia says:

            There’s an old sf story where smart people have to have something that interrupts their thoughts from time to time, strong people have to wear weights, all in order that people will have equal opportunity in your sense–all differences due to differences in people eliminated.

            Harrison Bergeron by Vonnegut. He was satirizing silly right wing caricatures of left wing thought with that story, not making a slippery slope argument about the dangers of egalitarianism.

          • Jiro says:

            The idea that Harrison Bergeron is a satire of right-wing ideas about the left, rather than a satire about the left, seems to be something made up by leftists a few years ago.

            Vonnegut himself says that the story shouldn’t be interpreted to be about equalizing wealth, but he’s fine with interpreting it to be about equalizing intelligence and talent. This does not make sense if it is a satire of what the right thinks about the left.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The line between “silly caricatures” and “reductio ad absurdum” isn’t a line so much as a vague gesture made by an imaginary rabbit.

            Considering the content of some of his other stories and comments I don’t think it’s clear at all who’s satirizing whom. After all, sufficiently advanced satire is indistinguishable from truth, and if anyone meets the standard of “sufficiently advanced satire” it’s Vonnegut.

            Edit: Ninja’d by Jiro

          • The levitation at the end seems to me like a satire of something, but I’m not sure what.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz

            I have my own theory, but at the same time I don’t feel entirely qualified to comment.

          • Acedia says:

            @Jiro

            The interpretation is definitely older than “a few years”. Here’s an argument for it written in 1998:

            https://coffmanenglish1.wikispaces.com/file/view/HB+Criticism.pdf

          • TMB says:

            @David Friedman

            I would say that equality of opportunity is where people with different traits have the same chance of getting a certain outcome. The less difference that traits make to success, the more equality of opportunity.

            So, in the case of equality of outcome, everyone has a 100% probability of reward x, so traits make no difference to success. Therefore absolute equality of opportunity.

            I think what some people are talking about when they think of equality of opportunity is liberalism. Or the right to take their advantages – where a man, working alone, produces with use only of his natural talents and consumes that output, equality of outcome suggests preventing him from using them.

            But, I would say that, really, when we talk about equality of outcome, we’re not normally talking about that case. We’re talking about production owing to the technology and cultures of society, where we stand in society, and the rewards we receive because of our position.

          • So Vonnegut was at least somewhat on Glamper’s side? That’s consistent with what I know of the rest of his writing.

            It might be reasonable to see HB as an “I hate everybody” story. Everyone in it is horrible.

          • Aapje says:

            @TMB

            I think that you need to distinguish between individual traits and non-individual traits. Individual traits are intelligence, work ethic, ‘talent,’ etc. Collective traits are race, gender, parental wealth, benefits of nationality, etc.

            Most people seem to be fine with individual traits getting rewarded, but far less so with collective traits to determine outcomes.

            The tragedy is that one person’s individual trait is another person’s collective trait. If you work hard to earn a lot of money and then choose to give your child better opportunities than a child born to a poorer parent, you just gave your child opportunities that are not related to his/her individual traits.

            So in practice, freedom is at odds with equal opportunity. If you give maximum freedom to people, they will use that to create huge inequality in positive liberty.

            In my view, libertarians don’t value equality of positive liberty very highly, while socialists do.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Aapje,

            The problem is that it’s a totally arbitrary distinction. Your so-called individual traits are no less heritable and no more ‘earned’ than your collective traits.

            Even if you disinherited an entire generation of people, the most likely result would be a Pinkerian return to the original status quo within one to two generations. “Positive liberty” as you describe can’t exist among human beings without extraordinary and continuous suppression. Which gets us right back to Harrison Bergeron.

          • Aapje says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            Let me try that again:

            You have traits that people consider to be part of the psychological character/nature of a person and those that they they consider to be separate from that. My assertion is that people generally are OK to see inequality that derives from the nature of a person, but not those that they consider separate.

            Although now that I think about it a bit more, I do agree that people can disagree about which things are part of the psychological character and which aren’t (a racist may consider race to be a part of the character, for example).

            Even if you disinherited an entire generation of people, the most likely result would be a Pinkerian return to the original status quo within one to two generations.

            Of course, that was my point. If you allow different outcomes for individual differences, then people will use those outcomes to manipulate the outcomes of others, breaking the link between outcome and individual ability.

            “Positive liberty” as you describe can’t exist among human beings without extraordinary and continuous suppression.

            100% positive liberty can’t exist without ‘extraordinary and continuous suppression.’ However, I also believe that 100% negative liberty cannot exist without the same, as such a system will inevitably cause those with very little positive liberty to rebel.

            Thus minimum oppression can only exist if there is a balance between the two. You need a certain level of welfare state to have enough positive liberty that the ‘losers’ will not rebel and a sufficient amount of individual freedom so the ‘winners’ will not rebel either.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Of course, that was my point. If you allow different outcomes for individual differences, then people will use those outcomes to manipulate the outcomes of others, breaking the link between outcome and individual ability

            If that was how it worked, individual success leads to rigging the outcomes for future generations, the snap-back wouldn’t be Pinkerian. You would expect to see a new set of successful families get entrenched rather than for the same old names to pop back up.

            The point is that individual ability and inheritance are inseperable in the long term. Because you inherit your “individual” ability in exactly the same way you inherit your eye color.

          • Aapje says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            Oh, that is what you meant.

            The issue is that parents don’t just provide advantages to their children by giving them money. It’s also about positioning them in high-opportunity social environments, having knowledge of how to steer the children to paths with better chances for good outcomes, etc, etc.

            Just taking away their money leaves these other mechanisms mostly intact.

            Similarly, if you give a poor person a lot of money, they don’t suddenly get the same opportunities as a person with that same amount of money, but who is positioned in a much more opportunity rich environment.

          • Anonymous says:

            @TMB:

            I would say that equality of opportunity is…

            Just so you know, your definition of equality of opportunity is extremely idiosyncratic and not at all what other people mean by it. You will generally find it hard to communicate with others if you continue to adhere to your own definition.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @Aapje

            Collective traits are race, gender, parental wealth, benefits of nationality, etc.

            Most people seem to be fine with individual traits getting rewarded, but far less so with collective traits to determine outcomes.

            I generally agree with the thrust of your comments, but I wanted to throw in that in fact people strongly support some forms of collective benefit as well when they intersect with in-group/out-group (nationalism) or the primacy of the family/clan unit (inheritance taxes, marital privileges).

            I also agree that Libertarians have a blind spot for initial conditions. They cannot be reset entirely (and attempts to do so would trigger social havoc and be counterproductive), but failing to provide a minimum starting point to members of your society will waste individual human talent that collectively would benefit everyone as well as trigger social havoc. Either extreme denies evolution and history.

          • Aapje says:

            @dragnubbit

            in-group/out-group

            I see that as more or less an orthogonal issue. You can find pretty large groups of people with any combination of positive/negative liberty & open/closed border.

            This is more evident in countries that have a less intellectually barren political system than in the US.

        • pku says:

          Hard to say about nazis, but nowadays everyone (well, of the people I know) who calls for genocide (or at least indiscriminate bombing or large civilian populations) identifies as far-right.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            #killallmen #killallwhitepeople

          • Lumifer says:

            …or far-environmentalist-left.

          • lvlln says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            I think pku was talking about people who honestly call for literal genocide. And as vile and revealing as those slogans/hashtags are, I don’t get the sense that they are meant to convey an honest call to literally kill any men or white people, much less all of them.

          • pku says:

            Yeah, I was talking about people I know who say “bomb Gaza to the ground” or “We need to kill all the arabs” and mean it.

            I think right/left isn’t quite the right distinction to make about genocidal tendencies: they come from an overly strong sense of community (or wanting to have it too much). This correlates with having a social safety net, but modern leftists often call for a social safetynet to protect people who are, if not in their outgroup, still not central members of their ingroup, which is significantly different. The best indicator for this kind of nationalism is calling people traitors, which nowadays is mostly identified with the right (and pre-WW2 may have been more lefty).

            That said, the kind of angry (female) feminist who shouts about “men oppressing us” is exactly a central example of this kind of nationalism (though probably not powerful enough to actually be a threat).

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @lvlln,

            I could pull up the SCUM manifesto or some black liberation document which reads like Mein Kampf but I’m not sure it’s worthwhile.

            I agree that most of the time an SJW writing #killallmen is writing in the same trolling tone as a /pol/ack posting “gas the kikes, race war now.” It’s mostly not serious.

            But there are people on both sides of the aisle who do in fact take it seriously. Giving those on the left an automatic free pass on hatred and eliminationist rhetoric is disingenuous.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            But there are people on both sides of the aisle who do in fact take it seriously. Giving those on the left an automatic free pass on hatred and eliminationist rhetoric is disingenuous.

            I would rather just hound them about not being leftist. It’s more likely to make them feel bad (sadly) than trying to convince them that exterminating X group is inherently wrong. Inducing doubt by cognitive dissonance is easier than inducing doubt by horror for some reason.

            I would argue that it is not “whites are superior to blacks” which is right wing, but “X race is superior to Y race” which is right wing.

            My major criticism of far left wing ideology to begin with is that its goals are so illusive and abstract that it either provides cover for or collapses back into an ideology that is simply far right wing thought with different groups in the favored and disfavored categories. When leftists shill for Islamism, they are shilling for the right wing traditionalists of another land, and when black nationalists cross the line from border region things like “We need whites to pay reparations to achieve true equality” to “Melanin is a magical substance that makes blacks inherently superior to those cave dwelling pale beasts created by Yakub” then what they have actually done is jumped the horseshoe into far-right modes of thinking.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Tekhno,

            The problem is that your definition then fails to carry any useful information. If all Leftism means is “has positive affect” and Rightism is defined as “has negative affect” then you might as well give up and just call the sides Good and Evil.

            If we’re trying to describe ideologies which real people follow, you can’t just rope off all of the less pleasant emotions and ascribe them to one side. Aside from a handful of saints we all have the full range and so that will be reflected in our beliefs.

            The fact that you literally can’t imagine a left-wing villain indicates that your classification scheme is not applicable to actually-existing humans.

          • Tekhno says:

            The problem is that your definition then fails to carry any useful information. If all Leftism means is “has positive affect” and Rightism is defined as “has negative affect” then you might as well give up and just call the sides Good and Evil.

            I think you are misreading my post. If anything, I’m expressing skepticism of the left wing project.

            Leftism means to try and achieve equality (which fully expressed requires universality), and the further left you go, the more abstract the forms of equality that you pursue are. You end up having to make some things unequal in order to pursue this abstract philosophical conception of equality (think of progressive stack for example).

            When you are confronted with disparate impact and you respond by handicapping people in order to achieve some future equality, what you risk ending up with is an ideology based on handicapping the designated oppressor group. Eventually “equality” becomes this distant excuse and the whole thing topples over into the same old tribalist rightism of the past 100,000 years of human history.

            So I think you are misreading my post. I’m not saying that left = good, and right = bad. I’m saying that it’s harder to be left wing than right wing, and that when you try to be really really really left wing you are liable to fall off the horse.

        • dragnubbit says:

          People trying to fit Nazism onto the left-right spectrum are generally far more interested in how that helps them make some point about modern political parties or people they do not like. Guilt by association.

          They were statist – they must be left!
          They were authoritarian nationalist war-mongers – they must be right!
          They called themselves a worker’s party – they must be left!
          They persecuted deviants – they must be right!

          Why can’t they just be Nazis? Statism and cults of personality taken to any extreme ends up transcending whatever regular folks consider left- and right-wing policy ideas.

          • Tekhno says:

            I don’t think they do transcend the ideas, however. I think the answer to this question centers on what the defining concept of an ideology is.

            For the Nazis, everything revolved around race and the nation-state. Other concepts did not have equal billing, and only existed to service the race based ideology. Therefore if racial nationalism is a right wing idea, then the Nazis should be considered right wing. Everything else they did, left or right, was utterly subordinate to their imagined battle against the Jews. The view of history as being defined by racial struggle was central to the Nazis.

            Why can’t they just be Nazis?

            The reason they must be connected to existing ideas is that we need to be on the watch for their return. They didn’t come from nowhere. They didn’t exist in an abstract cult vacuum, but emerged from an environment in which specific grievances were paramount.

          • dragnubbit says:

            I would agree race-based nationalism was their defining attribute. But I guess I see that (maybe wrongly) as human, not right or left, and more rooted in evolutionary impulses of xenophobia. You could construct right-wing or left-wing governments that were still race-based and xenophobic (contrast Imperial China with Communist China for two crude examples on the same landmass). I know Haidt likes to classify in-group as a right-wing morality, and it probably is in the polyglot US, but I believe in more homogenous populations it has such a strong general hold on everyone that it can be exploited by leftists (such as the communists expelling the foreign invaders).

            If there are lessons in Nazism, I think they are more about mass psychology of political movements (‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’) and the use of external fears to drive loyalty towards a powerful leader-figure (‘Only I can fix it.’).

          • Anonymous says:

            Therefore if racial nationalism is a right wing idea, then the Nazis should be considered right wing.

            That’s a pretty damn big “if”, and arguably the core of this argument.

            Because, if racial nationalism is just an idea on an axis orthogonal to left and right, then it seems clear that “racial nationalism + [albeit subservient] socialist policies” works out pretty clearly to be left-wing.

          • onyomi says:

            I think the problem is that the right-left axis obscures all the things these groups historically have in common by making it sound like “if the left is in favor of x, the right must be in favor of the opposite of x” on every issue.

            In particular, though size of government comes up a lot here and elsewhere libertarians congregate, right-left doesn’t fundamentally correspond to “small govmt/individualism” vs. “big govmt/collectivism,” as we think. To my mind, they are both different flavors of big government collectivism.

            Workers of the world unite is a form of collectivism. Nationalism is a form of collectivism. The New Deal is a big government program. The Iraq War is a big government program…

          • Sandy says:

            Emphasizing the “if” — race-based nationalism being a right-wing phenomenon would make leftist icons like Nasser right-wingers.

    • pku says:

      He’s an extremist, and he’s republican. I think that’s enough for a lot of people to label him “republican extremist” despite being vaguely aware that he’s not extremely republican in the sense that Cruz or Rubio are.

    • John Schilling says:

      A related question: do we have a clear picture of exactly who did get Trump nominated?

      That would be John Kasich.

      Well, him and Jeb Bush and Jeb Bush’s donors. There was never more than 30-40% of the GOP electorate that really preferred Trump over the rest of the Republican field, until the very end when the delegate count and the sense of Trumpian inevitability brought “don’t waste your vote on a loser” into play. But for as long as the primary was in real doubt, the rest of the GOP field was devoting most of their effort to attacking each other, making sure none of them could win against the guy who could sit back and collect 40% of the vote effectively uncontested.

      Another take.

      My theory was “This is how the white working class riots”, but apparently he either got a lot of support from college-educated Republicans, or a lot of his support was college-educated.

      “College-educated” and “working-class” have a fair bit of overlap, particularly if we include two-year colleges. There has always been a negative correlation between level of education and propensity to vote for Donald Trump, and I don’t think there has ever been a majority of white voters with four-year college degrees supporting Trump – not even if we limit it to the GOP electorate during primaries. But that doesn’t mean there’s a cliff defined by the Baccalaureate, with no support among people with a BA/BS.

    • tumteetum says:

      “I hear Trump described as “right-wing” and “far-right” and “ultra-conservative”.

      I think for a lot of people who aren’t on the right, the “right” are represented by whatever Fox news says. For those people Trump looks and sounds like Fox news cranked up to 11. So you get this “far-right” and “ultra-conservative” thing thrown around, because from their perspective he is “ultra-fox-news”.

      • JayT says:

        Is he though? Fox News wasn’t exactly pro-Trump at the start. They were pushing Cruz or Bush far more.

        • tumteetum says:

          It doesnt matter that fox wasnt for him at the start, what I said was that for those people not on the right he “sounds like Fox news cranked up to 11”. To put it another way, for those not on the right he sounds like everything bad they’ve ever heard come out of fox for the past decade multiplied by some large number.

          • cassander says:

            Sure, but that was just as true for Romney, McCain, Bush, etc.

          • tumteetum says:

            @ cassander

            Not like this, sure they would have said that Romney, McCain, Bush etc *thought* the things that fox says, they would even have said they use dog-whistling to imply those things, but Trump actually comes out and says them, not only that, he amplifies them.

            This is why, imo, he gets labeled as far-right, which is what the OP was asking about.

          • cassander says:

            @tumteentum

            >Not like this, sure they would have said that Romney, McCain, Bush etc *thought* the things that fox says, they would even have said they use dog-whistling to imply those things, but Trump actually comes out and says them, not only that, he amplifies them.

            Trump gets accused of dog whistling no matter what he says.

            >This is why, imo, he gets labeled as far-right, which is what the OP was asking about.

            Bush, Mccain, and romney were all so labeled.

    • Snodgrass says:

      “Roughly that the core of right-wing thought is getting tough on illegal immigration?”

      Why do you say ‘illegal’ there? The right wing in Britain has been complaining about legal immigration – indeed, about treaty-guaranteed visa-free legal immigration – for twenty years now. The core of right-wing thought seems to be in believing that a Briton should be privileged over a more competent Pole.

      • Lumifer says:

        The core of right-wing thought seems to be in believing that a Briton should be privileged over a more competent Pole

        Notably, by a British government. If that’s a right-wing position, does it mean the left-wing believes HM Government should not privilege the subjects it is supposed to represent?

        • Snodgrass says:

          It is only slightly left-wing to argue that HMG should not restrict benefits to people legally resident in Britain simply by virtue of the country name in their passport; it is an absolutely solid matter of treaty that HMG may not restrict benefits to EU citizens resident in Britain.

          What do you mean by ‘privileging the subjects it is supposed to represent?’ This is not the Emirates; if an innocent Pole contends in court with a guilty Briton, the Pole should and usually does win.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What do you mean by ‘privileging the subjects it is supposed to represent?’ This is not the Emirates; if an innocent Pole contends in court with a guilty Briton, the Pole should and usually does win.

            Presumably, he means that the government should set its policies (and, more specifically, immigration policy) with a view to benefiting British citizens, rather than foreign nationals.

          • Lumifer says:

            it is an absolutely solid matter of treaty

            That’s about to change, isn’t it?

            What do you mean by ‘privileging the subjects it is supposed to represent?’

            The usual thing (and no, I obviously do not mean “bend the law”). But let me ask you, from your point of view, in whose interests must HMG act? For whom does it work, what is the purpose of its existence?

          • bean says:

            But let me ask you, from your point of view, in whose interests must HMG act? For whom does it work, what is the purpose of its existence?

            The Civil Service, of course. Haven’t you seen Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister?

      • Anonymous says:

        The core of right-wing thought seems to be in believing that a Briton should be privileged over a more competent Pole.

        Try “a cheaper Pole”. I don’t think it’s been suggested anywhere, by anyone, that the Polish immigrant labor have a higher standard of work on average. They’re just cheaper because they take very cheap, basic accomodations in the UK and then go back to Poland, which has a lower cost of living, with their money.

        Lumifer’s point is obviously also apt, but it’s not even the case that you can defend the Poles on the basis of a sort of abstracted globalist meritocracy. They just undercut the prices of the local workers — the kind of thing the trade unions formed to combat, only more international. I don’t suppose trade unions count as right-wing now as well…

        • Snodgrass says:

          We have a fairly high minimum wage. If you hire a Pole for a minimum-wage job, it is because they are a better candidate than British applicants – often because they are substantially over-qualified, and if you’re in one of those rare industries that still have a career ladder they will be climbing it quickly.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you hire a Pole at the minimum wage, it could be because they were a better candidate… or it could be because your job would have had to pay more than minimum wage to get a qualified British candidate.

        • Psmith says:

          They just undercut the prices of the local workers

          That’s exactly how I would defend the Poles on the basis of a sort of abstracted globalist meritocracy, were I interested in doing such a thing.

      • “The core of right-wing thought seems to be in believing that a Briton should be privileged over a more competent Pole.”

        At least in the U.S., that attitude is shared across almost the entire political spectrum. Politicians left and right object to evil corporations stealing jobs from good Americans and employing workers in India or China instead. The disagreement only comes over whether the foreigners should be allowed to live in America as well as work for American employers.

        By that criterion, the only people on the left are libertarians who believe in both free trade and open borders.

  4. I take several nutritional supplements, things I have some reason, but not a strong reason, to think are good for me. Is there a reliable and reasonably unbiased source of information on such things, a way of separating bogus claims from plausible but not certain claims?

    • Examine seems pretty good. What do you take?

    • What do people think of the anti-aging supplement Basis by Elysium? I have been taking it for a few months. I haven’t noticed any differences, but then again if all it did was significantly reduce age-related decline I wouldn’t notice but I would consider the supplement well worth the price.

      • Basis by Elysium is one of the ones I take, based on the fact that it seemed to have endorsement by some respectable people.

        • Outis says:

          $50 per month is… not that much, if it slows down aging. But what does it actually do? I don’t want to watch the video.

          Also, how can a pill “optimize” the level of anything? On a purely mechanical level, all it can do is give you more of something. If there is any optimization going on, that’d have to be your body. And of course you’d have to explain how it is that having too little of whatever X the pill contains can cause your body to have either too much *or* too little Y, and adding more X will get Y to just the right amount. That kind of claim always makes me suspicious.

          • I’m not sure what it does, like Friedman I rely on the endorsements. We live in a very different environment from which we evolved so it’s possible that we got plenty of X as cavemen but get too little now. Also, calories were a scarce resource in our ancestral environment so it’s possible that evolution would select against your body creating X if X increased your need for food, and increased your lifespan if you got enough food.

          • I found a pretty good explanation of reasons to think that Basis might or might not slow aging.

            The underlying argument is that finding out whether something slows aging in humans takes too long to be practical for many of us, so it’s worth taking things that are at worst harmless and that there is some theoretical reason to think might slow aging.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ David Friedman

            Your link sounds just like a marketing puff piece — it’s not actually explaining anything. There is a telling quote in there: “…but early trials failed to pan out. This time, Guarente says, the idea is to market anti-aging molecules as a dietary supplement”.

            Are there papers on studies where NAD, etc. actually extends the lifespans of at least mice? Other animals? By how much? Any side effects?

      • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

        I think its a scam.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ David Friedman
      Is there a reliable and reasonably unbiased source of information on such things, a way of separating bogus claims from plausible but not certain claims?

      First, I’d stay away from anything sold in big stores. There it’s a sideline, nobody checks for quality … perhaps not even the manufacturer. I’d go to local funky hippie kind of stores, where the owner is behind the counter, and does the ordering, and the customers tell zim whether it worked.

      • bluto says:

        I’d trust Costco and Trader Joe’s, because tests in olive oil (where there was mass cheating among almost all competing brands but not from those two) and because their branding across product lines means the whole store’s reputation is tied to the quality of all their products.

    • dndnrsn says:

      What purpose do you take the supplements for? Basic health, fat loss, athletic performance, some combination?

    • Murphy says:

      If there’s a Cochrane review for the vitamin/substance you’re taking have a look at it. They tend to be pretty high quality.

      Most nutritional supplements have little or no evidence base behind them. Unless they’re to treat a specific deficiency, the best that can be said is that (unless you’re taking a very high dose) they’re probably not doing any harm but they’re probably not worth spending much money on.

    • Richard says:

      In principle, once you reach your ~50s, the main issue will be to supplement stuff that your body has slowed down production of.

      The main problem is that most of those things are on some doping list or other, but I suspect that if you are not an athlete, it is possible to get a prescription for some of it? I’m still competing enough to be sporadically tested, so I haven’t investigated, but once I stop, I’ll at least get some testosterone and probably growth hormone in reasonable doses.

      • Lumifer says:

        In principle, once you reach your ~50s, the main issue will be to supplement stuff that your body has slowed down production of

        It’s not obvious to me at all that this is the way to longevity.

        At a crude level, consider e.g. that one of the simplest ways to live longer is to slow down your metabolism. Trying to keep it high might give you higher levels of energy, but it will also make you burn out faster.

  5. Scott Alexander says:

    I’m totally on board with worrying about p-hacking and garden-of-forking-paths and publication bias and so on. But a lot of the papers that seem intuitively implausible to me have p < 0.001 or something. Am I right that publication bias/forking paths/etc basically can't explain that at all? Aside from the usual run of confounders and biases, is there anything I should know about that can make that happen?

    • Rick Sanchez says:

      I have no answer to your question but am very curious to see examples of these unintuitive findings

    • Douglas Knight says:

      It is not possible or useful to model all the ways things can go wrong. Fraud and calculation errors are two easy ones. Remember, physicists set α=5σ. Publication bias applies to errors: they are systematically biased towards helping the author.

      • Gazeboist says:

        Remember also that physicists require things like multiple spectral bands irrespective of p-values. It’s much easier to sort out things like confounders and false positives when you can filter effects the way physics does.

    • anon says:

      p < 0.001 is not that small and I think it is easily explained by publication bias and forking paths (not to mention basic arithmetic fails). At least that’s my opinion based on my experience in quantitative finance.

      • Chalid says:

        Agreed within quantitative finance. But I expect that it’s way easier to generate a ton of hypotheses to test in finance than it is elsewhere.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        To explain p = 0.001 with publication bias, wouldn’t you need 1000 file-drawered papers without that result for every paper published with that result?

        • Lumifer says:

          No, just a lot of attempts at observations or experiments. Especially easy if all you need a tweakable model to explain or propose something. Tweaking a model is quick.

        • anon says:

          Agree with Lumifer. I think forking paths is a bigger component than publication bias. The latter gets you to p < 0.05, though, so we're down to a factor of 50 for forking paths, which is totally reasonable even outside of quantitative finance.

        • Aapje says:

          @Scott,

          A common fallacy is to believe that the p-value is relative to the paper, rather than the number of experiments.

          Imagine a survey with 20 yes/no questions and a scientist looking for correlations. He can compare each pair of questions, for (20*19) / 2 = 190 possibilities. So effectively, he did 190 different experiments. You’d expect a random p = 0.001 result in 1 out of 5 of those papers, assuming a lack of confounders or other issues.

        • Murphy says:

          If every paper was done perfectly and nobody screwed up their stats and nobody quietly redid things innocently thinking they must have screwed up and nobody ever threw out data that looked too whacky and nobody ever simply didn’t really know how to use their stats package properly and nobody ever failed to notice that their sample was biased and nobody ever did subgroup analysis and nobody ever moved the goalposts after a trial had been done and nobody ever massaged the data and nobody ever took bad advice from more senior people and nobody ever screwed up their controls and nobody ever forgot to turn off excel’s autoformatting while working with their data etc etc etc…. then you might expect to need hundreds or even a thousand file-drawered papers.

          The file draw is one hazard but there’s a lot of other ways to screw things up.

    • Scott — I think that is a good idea for a future posting. See how many implausible results you can find with a very low p value, and link to each one. I bet a lot of folks here would do a lot of analysis to see if they can find the errors. Use your commenters for the force of Good! Of course sometimes the implausible turns out to be true, but I suspect that most of them really do have some mistake somewhere.

      But also that is a good reason to always require replication before believing it. And more replication than usual for results that seem to contradict one’s everyday experience.

  6. In a previous comment thread, there was discussion of the effects of longevity, and as I recall, there was a lot of focus on out-of-date high status people clogging up progress. While this is a legitimate concern, if the longevity is any good, there should also be old people who know a lot by polishing up their existing competence and/or by having the mental flexibility to add new ideas to what they know. Excuse me if this aspect has already been explored.

    I’m not sure what effect having some extremely competent people mostly sorted by age would be likely to have. Any thoughts?

    • Outis says:

      Perhaps a more hierarchical society? In the literal sense, even.

      • It occcurs to me that such a society would be hard to portray in science ficton– the extraordinary abilities of the more capable old people would have to be kept offstage.

        • LHN says:

          That’s pretty much Middle-Earth, isn’t it? It’s full of immortals who are wiser, know deeper arts, and are at least reputedly better at fighting than you are. (Glorfindel faced off against multiple balrogs, if it’s the same Glorfindel. Elrond made it through the War of the Last Alliance at Gil-Galad’s side. Galadriel was an acknowledged peer to the legendary figures of the Silmarillion, who did things like duel Morgoth and wrestle with Sauron.)

          But most of them are literally offstage in the far West, and the rest all have Reasons (which they don’t much elaborate on) for staying on the home front while offering advice and material support.

          (Sure, “[e]ven if you chose for us an elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in him.” But you’d think that he’d have been a real help in Moria, or at the Falls of Rauros, or against Shelob, wouldn’t he?)

          • Gazeboist says:

            Gandalf’s at that tier, and he was a huge help in Moria. The problem is that he’s gone by the Falls, much less Shelob, and the Fellowship didn’t have any alternates. Galadriel and Elrond (moreso the former, who would have joined after the loss of Gandalf) would have been good substitutes/alternates, but they both govern what are effectively city-states. By the council of Rivendell, Saruman has turned traitor and the other Wizards are all missing. Cirdan is probably the only other being who could plausibly have been helpful on that level, but he’s neither Noldor (like Galadriel) nor part maiar (like Elrond), nor does he carry one of the Three (since he gave his to Gandalf). In any case, he is also a national ruler, and any representative sent by him is unlikely to have been more helpful than Legolas.

            Who else is there?

          • pku says:

            It was a different Glorfindel (the original died in the Silmarillion).

            There are other elf-lords, but elves don’t grow in quite the same way men do – they don’t age, and in some ways become wiser, but they don’t grow in physical strength beyond where they start out (though they do have inner power, which avails them against wraiths and the like). So Glorfindel wouldn’t have been more help than Boromir against the orcs, and while he might’ve been able to stand up to the nine, they figured that if the nine were onto them they were pretty much done for anyway.

          • Gazeboist says:

            What pku said, too. There was worry that loading up the Fellowship with major powers would bring an army down on their heads.

          • Evan Þ says:

            It was actually the same Glorfindel; he died in the Silmarillion but was resurrected in-between. (Tolkien states this in a private letter and some other posthumously-published papers.)

            And reading between the lines of some stories the Silmarillion, I’d guess that the High Elves’ inner light would actually help them against orcs and giant spiders as well as wraiths – but, again, it’d also make them more visible to Sauron, when the Fellowship’s main hope was secrecy.

      • onyomi says:

        Relevant SMBC. (Don’t forget the red button)

    • Callum G says:

      Harking back to old people clogging up progress; the extreme competence of these old people would exacerbate that. Imagine a group that you disagree with, who are very good at rhetoric, hold dominant power positions and are likely wealthier than you. Makes me think of the slow politics in countries from the eastern bloc.

      Otherwise it could slow down cultural progress. If there are competent old people who know what they like in regards to arts and are very good at producing it, then cultural trends could extend out much longer. Young people would struggle to join the music/dance/arts scene. Even if they tried there may be little reason for people to look as the old legends are still there. (I wonder if there’s an equilibrium on the number of people that can simultaneously be above fame level X). I’m not sure how subjective tastes would relate to mental flexibility so this mightn’t be a thing.

      Elderly actors in movies would be interesting.

      • cassander says:

        extreme competence wouldn’t make up for the natural inertia of people, methinks. There’s a reason they say science advances one funeral at a time.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Is that cultural progress, or just cultural change?

        • Callum G says:

          Change is probably a better way to put it. Unless you see increasing variety and fresh perspectives as having some inherent value to culture.

        • Murphy says:

          Progress if all the old work and data about the old culture is archived and available, just change if it’s lost.

          in the case of the former you’re adding to a body of work, with the latte you’re just cycling through fashions.

      • onyomi says:

        I feel like this is less of a problem with art than with science/research. Established reputation counts for more in the latter, creativity and newness for newness’ sake (even when not always an improvement) in the former. And young people are always iconoclastic and inclined toward the styles and preferences of their peers, even if they aren’t improvements.

      • In the Honor Harrington books by David Weber (not a great series but a dirty secret love of mine), the major powers all have access to “prolong” (3-4x lifespan extension and slowed aging–the latest version makes you look 13 until about 22, then 30 at 90, etc…[1]) This leads to some interesting staffing discussions: the protagonists explicitly rotate their most senior people out of leadership positions regularly, despite giving up some expertise by doing so, to ensure that sudden deaths in war won’t cripple their leadership cadre. (If the same guy is your senior admiral for 100 years, that’s great until his ship blows up and no one can come up with good fleet tactics.) They seem to gain the flexibility of new ideas as a side effect of this policy, not a main goal. One group of antagonists explicitly doesn’t rotate–leadership is strictly by seniority–and is having real trouble accepting changes in warfighting technology.

        (Generalizing from fictional evidence, etc.)

        [1] One reason for this is interesting and non-obvious until you remember that literally everything in the books is meant to be napoleonic wars in spaaaaace: Weber wants the midshipmen who are 20ish (academy graduates) to look 13, because in 1805 they actually would have been 13.

    • Jiro says:

      I’d think that you need to account for the effect of the longevity on the person affected by the progress as well. If progress happens at half the previous rate because everyone lives twice as long, you live twice as long as well, so you still see the same amount of progress in your lifetime as you would have,

  7. I’ve been thinking about ISIS, and I can’t think of any other political/military movement which has been as destructive, especially if you look at the central examples rather than outliers like Pol Pot or North Korea. The Mongols were destructive to the people they conquered, but they were trying to make good living conditions for themselves.

    It doesn’t make sense to view ISIS or Boko Haram as typical of Islam because Islamic societies typically aren’t nearly that bad.

    I’m wondering about what happened. Is there something wrong with the modern world that something so awful can attract followers? Or was it always possible, and it’s just that ISIS hit on a memetic superweapon? Or maybe we’re so rich that such an extravagant parasite became possible?

    It would have been interesting if someone tried to make a Caliphate in the spirit of the Islamic Golden Age, but that’s not what happened.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      Is there something wrong with the modern world that something so awful can attract followers?

      One obvious thing would be the internet, which makes it far easier for groups like ISIS to get their message out.

    • Sfoil says:

      What specifically makes ISIS so uniquely “destructive”? I’m particularly puzzled by your excluding “outliers”, because that makes it sound an awful lot like “ISIS is the worst movement ever, if you exclude these other movements.” Both the Khmer Rouge and the DPRK did/do subscribe to revolutionary ideologies with an emphasis on purging certain outside influence, among other things. ISIS’ ideology is based on an existing religion, but I don’t think you need to go full Moldbug to notice that there might be some “religious” aspects to the DPRK’s ideology, for instance.

      • I’m excluding Communism because, while I think it was a tremendous disaster, most of their countries were more livable than ISIS, Pol Pot, or the DRPK.

        • Sfoil says:

          Was the Soviet Union more livable in 1920 than ISIS? I’m not sure it was. I’m pretty sure death by starvation was a lot bigger problem in the early USSR, for instance. Lots of people keep their heads down and live OK in ISIS-controlled territory today. Most of the bad things I can think of happening in ISIS right now were also happening in the early Soviet Union (conscription into a civil war, lethal ideological purges, torture, extermination of disfavored groups, etc). Also in Revolutionary France and of course the old favorite, Nazi Germany.

          • Yes I think much of the issue here is reporting. Is ISIL really that bad? I can’t disagree they do so really bad things, but I don’t see that they are off the charts in any way. You mention North Korea and Khmer Rouge, but exclude them for some reason. Congo has had some really bad regimes, with lots of murdering. Of course there were the terrible massacres in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. I suspect there have been other similar regimes that we just don’t hear much about. ISIL has gotten a lot of publicity because of public beheadings, but that is pretty small potatoes compared to these other regimes. The worse things ISIL have done to various minority groups, but that isn’t a lot different than the other bad regimes we’ve had. I wonder if ISIL has even been worse than the Syrian government as far as murderous activity. We are all at the mercy of journalism — it is hard to tell.

          • nimim. k.m. says:

            Based on Western reporting, I’d say the systematic enslaving of minority group females as sex slaves (instead of the “usual” rape and pillage given an opportunity) is a bit of outlier. Other than that, the other crimes and violence seem quite “business as usual” for extremist “revolutionary utopian” religiously / ideologically motivated movements.

          • “I’d say the systematic enslaving of minority group females as sex slaves (instead of the “usual” rape and pillage given an opportunity) is a bit of outlier. ”

            Slave concubines were a normal feature of traditional Islamic societies. I think many, although not all, were from subsaharan Africa. One result was that some very high status men were mulattoes, sons of a caliph by a black concubine.

            A famous example was Ibrahim ibn al Mahdi, famous mostly as a musician, poet and general artistic sort but also briefly an unsuccessful pretender to the Caliphate.

          • Anonymous says:

            And that doesn’t even count the incredible amounts of slave raiding the Muslims did in the Mediterranean for more than a millennium. The polygamy thing only encourages the behaviour.

      • dragnubbit says:

        ISIS is evil, but I think there is some recency bias here.

        I do think Salafism is going to be hardy for generations. Someone is going to try to top ISIS, and probably sooner than we would like.

    • Outis says:

      The root of that evil is Wahhabism, isn’t it? In Saudi Arabia they have less need for violence, because they are virtually unopposed, but they are just as destructive. The archeological heritage of Arabia has been decimated, with even Islamic holy sites torn down on the grounds of “preventing idolatry”. It is Saudi money that pushes their regressive version of Islam through the mosques they finance around the world. ISIS is just the newest fruit of that rotten tree.

    • cassander says:

      Even if you blame them for pretty much the entire syrian civil war, ISIS has done less damage than almost any communist communist regime. Granted, they’ve only had a couple years to go at it, bit let’s not forget how disastrous 20th century leftism got.

    • nimim. k.m. says:

      Religion certainly can get very (scarily) weird in economically and culturally tumultuous times. Münster Rebellion is not your best example of protestant societies, yet it happened.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is there something wrong with the modern world that something so awful can attract followers?

      Yes, basically. The modern world – or more specifically – modern values don’t appeal to everyone.

      After all, in all the billions of us, is it any surprise that there are millions, or hundreds of millions, of people who have strongly held dislikes for key aspects of modernity? There are reasonable cases for disliking such things as secularism, free movement of peoples, hedonism, antinatalism, pacifism, feminism, etc.

      Find someone who likes fighting and killing, who is very tribal/familial, who thinks “equality” is barbaric hogwash, who wants to beat his wife when she disobeys him, who considers that too much luxury is degenerate – and you have found someone who might find it an improvement to move to ISIS from Norway. It has stuff he likes in abundance and not a lot of stuff he dislikes. And that’s not even going into the matters of one’s tribe (Islam) fighting their hated enemies (unbelievers and their puppets) and the increased status one gets by ceasing to be an underemployed welfare recipient in a first world country and becoming a member of a semi-elite group that heaps rewards on committed members.

      • hyperboloid says:

        Find someone who likes fighting and killing, who is very tribal/familial, who thinks “equality” is barbaric hogwash, who wants to beat his wife when she disobeys him, who considers that too much luxury is degenerate…..

        You’re description might, at least in part, apply to some of the misfits from western countries who go to Syria looking for glory. But even then, loathing of modernity has very little to do with it. I suspect the sort of person who leaves a western country to join up with Jihadis in Raqqa, is the sort of person who might just as easily have joined up with the local gangsters in their home town.

        There are, and always have been, young men looking for a chance to be a respected member of something bigger then themselves, without being very concerned what that something is. But such people make up a small percentage of actual Jihadis.

        You say that members of DAESH consider equality to be “barbaric hogwash”, but if you read Qutb or any of the intellectual fathers of the Jihadi movement you would see that promises of equality and justice for all (male) believers are at the core of their ideology.

        I think you have not the slightest idea what motivates these people.

        The average member of of a Sunni Islamist group in Iraq or Syria joined because he feels that his community has been abused and humiliated by governments dominated by a religious minority he holds in contempt. Men from Mosul or Raqqa did not pick up the gun to fight western liberals and feminists, but to overthrow hated regimes in their own countries.

        • Sandy says:

          You say that members of DAESH consider equality to be “barbaric hogwash”, but if you read Qutb or any of the intellectual fathers of the Jihadi movement you would see that promises of equality and justice for all (male) believers are at the core of their ideology.

          I’m not sure how your point refutes Anonymous’s. The Founding Fathers of America spoke highly of equality and justice for all; surely you would concede that their model of equality and justice for all land-owning white males is inconsistent with the modern model of equality and justice that Islamists take issue with. In Milestones, Qutb decried the equality of the sexes and said women must bear and raise children rather than seek employment. Hassan al-Banna, another influential Egyptian Islamist and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, sought to criminalize all sorts of things that would be considered central to Western doctrines of human equality today. And it is precisely these modern doctrines of equality that ISIS has condemned in its propaganda; their online magazine includes photos of gay couples as “examples of the perversion that the West seeks to spread”.

          Sunni Islamists predate ISIS and al-Qaeda by quite some time, and they have condemned Sunni Arab regimes in their own countries as heretical and un-Islamic. Qutb, remember, was hanged for conspiring to kill Nasser.

        • Anonymous says:

          The average member of of a Sunni Islamist group in Iraq or Syria joined because he feels that his community has been abused and humiliated by governments dominated by a religious minority he holds in contempt. Men from Mosul or Raqqa did not pick up the gun to fight western liberals and feminists, but to overthrow hated regimes in their own countries.

          And the origin of these regimes, built on western ideas and structures, is what, exactly? The middle-eastern dictatorships aren’t remotely like the home-grown sultanates and sheikhdoms. The Alawites were propped up by who in Syria? Modern Iraq was first set up as straddling Sunni/Shia divides by who? Who destroyed Saddam?

          It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots here. Even without motivated thinking, it’s easily apparent that the “Romans” are bloody well to blame in large part.

          • Sandy says:

            Iraq is one thing, but it is my understanding that Hafez al-Assad was propped up by the Soviet Union, hardly a bastion of Western liberalism or feminism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Wasn’t the USSR fairly gender-egalitarian, at least by official policy?

          • Jaskologist says:

            Yes. I’ve linked to this 1926 Atlantic article on “The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage” a few times before in here, precisely because it’s so fascinating from an “all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again” standpoint.

            When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family, like every other ‘bourgeois’ institution, with fierce hatred, and set out with a will to destroy it. ‘To clear the family out of the accumulated dust of the ages we had to give it a good shakeup, and we did,’ declared Madame Smidovich, a leading Communist and active participant in the recent discussion. So one of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term ‘illegitimate children.’ This was done simply by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it, and now the Soviet Government boasts that Russia is the only country where there are no illegitimate children. The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation, provided she has no other means of livelihood.

            At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage.

          • Anonymous says:

            Assad maybe, but it was the French who elevated the Alawites to rule over the Sunni in Syria.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          In addition to Sandy’s comment, not only is “equality for all people” radically incompatible with “equality among men, superiority over women, and equality among all (sufficiently devout) Muslims (of the correct denomination) and superiority over non-Muslims”, but to the extent that the latter is what the jihadi movement explicitly advocates, there is even less conflict between their espoused ideals and their actual policies than in the case of the Founding Fathers.

        • hyperboloid says:

          @Anonymous

          And the origin of these regimes, built on western ideas and structures, is what, exactly? The middle-eastern dictatorships aren’t remotely like the home-grown sultanates and sheikhdoms.

          Actually, it is my contention that they are almost identical. While it is true that these regimes were supported by the west (or as in the case of Syria, the Soviet Union) I don’t see any meaningful way in which they were “built on western ideas and structures”.

          Hafez Al-Assad, for instance, may have worn a suit, called himself a President, and called his regime a republic, but that pretense was paper thin; scratch just below the surface, and you will see that the reality of pre-war Syria was a patrimonial authoritarian regime. The political legitimacy of the Syrian Arab “republic” rested entirely on a complex network of patronage and power relations spreading out from the Assad family itself. The fact that the only people ever considered to succeed Hefaz were his sons, Bassel, and Bashar, ought to be a clue that the man was simply a sultan by another name.

          As for Iraq, you have drink the neocon kool-aid pretty hard to believe that the regime we set up there is any kind of Jeffersonian democracy. Just look at the people marching on Mosul, Al-Hashd Al-Watani are hardly forces of liberalism and tolerance.

          @ Sandy

          The Founding Fathers of America spoke highly of equality and justice for all; surely you would concede that their model of equality and justice for all land-owning white males is inconsistent with the modern model of equality and justice that Islamists take issue with?

          There is a lot to get into there. Including the fact that I don’t agree with your characterization of the attitudes of the founding fathers to universal (white) male suffrage, but that is a complicated issue that should be discussed at length some other time.

          Also, are you implying that a follower of Osama bin laden would have been any more amenable to living under the administration of James Madison than that of George W. Bush? Because that would be an odd suggestion.

          The point is not that radical Jihadis don’t reject modernity, they do, it’s that they reject antiquity as well. The notion that a group like Daesh is a conservative movement fighting for a return to the traditional values of the heyday of Islamic and Arab prestige is simply wrong.

          I think people who believe this are vastly underestimating the radicalism Qutb’s ideas. The central ideological concept laid out in his 1964 book Ma’alim fi al-Tariq ( “معالم في الطري”, literally “Guides Along the Path”, but usually translated as Milestones), is that of Jahiliyyah, a sate of pre-Islamic godless ignorance, to which Qutb believed the Muslim world had returned. To his thinking submission to any government based on Human made laws and institutions constituted shirk, the sin of paganism and idolatry, and the opposite of faithful adherence to Tawhid.

          In his magnum opus commentary on Islam’s holiest text, Fi Zilal al-Qur’an (في ظِلالِ القرآن‎‎, In The Shade of the Quran), he wrote the following:

          “Jahiliyya—as God describes it and His Qur’an defines it—is the rule of humans by humans because it involves making some humans servants of others, rebelling against service to God, rejecting God’s divinity and, in view of this rejection, ascribing divinity to some humans and serving them apart from God. Jahiliyya—in the light of this text—is not a period of time but a condition, a condition which existed yesterday, exists today, and will exist tomorrow.”

          You say that the Muslim brotherhood opposed things central to the western concept of equality, which is true. But there is more than one concept of equality. The question one must ask is; equality of what, and between who?

          I think we are emphasizing different elements of jihadi ideology. It is a doctrine that defies classification by western political standards; it is neither fully left or right wing, egalitarian or inegalitarian; it postulates a radical equity between believers and a radical gulf between them and the rest of mankind.

          • Anonymous says:

            Actually, it is my contention that they are almost identical. While it is true that these regimes were supported by the west (or in the case of Syria the Soviet Union) I don’t see any meaningful way in which they were “built on western ideas and structures”.

            Their borders come from the colonial era, their base structure is republican, there is a separation of powers (however thin), there is a separation of church and state (however thin). None of these are traditionally Islamic, or Arabic. The ruling elites are educated in the west, even!

            Hafez Al-Assad, for instance, may have worn a suit, called himself a President, and called his regime a republic, but that pretense was paper thin; scratch just below the surface, and you will see that the reality of pre-war Syria was a patrimonial authoritarian regime. The political legitimacy of the Syrian Arab “republic” rested entirely on a complex network of patronage and power relations spreading out from the Assad family itself. The fact that the only people ever considered to succeed Hefaz were his sons, Bassel, and Bashar, ought to be a clue that the man was simply a sultan by another name.

            You are basically describing how things work just about anywhere. That almost all presidents of the US come from the same royal family does not make the US less of a republic – every republic is in effect a noble republic.

            As for Iraq, you have drink the neocon kool-aid pretty hard to believe that the regime we set up there is any kind of Jeffersonian democracy. Just look at the people marching on Mosul, Al-Hashd Al-Watani are hardly forces of liberalism and tolerance.

            I did not say it was – but its constructors try very hard to make it so, despite the near impossibility of effectuating the outcome. There is a large gap between official policy and actual fact, but the official policy itself is not without meaning. There is a distinction between trying to do A and getting B, and trying to do B and getting B.

            The problem countries in the middle east are those that are trying to do A (structure government according to western principles, under pressure and influence from the west), but reliably get B (sort of hybrid regimes that satisfy nobody, and breed resentment and rebellion).

          • ” To his thinking submission to any government based on Human made laws and institutions constituted shirk, the sin of paganism and idolatry, and the opposite of faithful adherence to Tawhid.”

            Why do you regard that as inconsistent with traditional Islamic views? One of the central ideas of Islamic jurisprudence is the separation of law and state. Law is supposed to be deduced by scholars from religious sources, not created by the state.

            In practice, Islamic regimes frequently violated that rule, but it was the orthodox theory.

          • Anonymous says:

            @David Friedman

            That’s a fascinating point! Christians have church/state separation, while Muslims have law/state separation.

    • You might be interested in this podcast by Sam Harris “What Do Jihadists Really Want?”
      https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/what-do-jihadists-really-want

      If you think God is real and sends some people to heaven and others to hell, you do WHATEVER you think God wants and you hate, hate everything that might distract you and your loved ones from following the path to heaven.

    • Nicholas says:

      There’s a selection bias:
      Anytime a group like the Assyrians gets to looking like they’re just going to collapse the entire regional power structure, everyone with a vested interest in that structure stops by and utterly annihilates them as a people. After they’ve been destroyed for a while everyone forgets who they are. Daesh is in the first stage still.

  8. The original Mr. X says:

    Apparently the decision not to prosecute Hillary has resulted in some controversy at the FBI:

    The decision to let Hillary Clinton off the hook for mishandling classified information has roiled the FBI and Department of Justice, with one person closely involved in the year-long probe telling FoxNews.com that career agents and attorneys on the case unanimously believed the Democratic presidential nominee should have been charged.

    The source, who spoke to FoxNews.com on the condition of anonymity, said FBI Director James Comey’s dramatic July 5 announcement that he would not recommend to the Attorney General’s office that the former secretary of state be charged left members of the investigative team dismayed and disgusted. More than 100 FBI agents and analysts worked around the clock with six attorneys from the DOJ’s National Security Division, Counter Espionage Section, to investigate the case.

    “No trial level attorney agreed, no agent working the case agreed, with the decision not to prosecute — it was a top-down decision,” said the source, whose identity and role in the case has been verified by FoxNews.com.
    A high-ranking FBI official told Fox News that while it might not have been a unanimous decision, “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.”

    “It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted,” the senior FBI official told Fox News. “We were floored while listening to the FBI briefing because Comey laid it all out, and then said ‘but we are doing nothing,’ which made no sense to us.”

    • Skef says:

      This is only indirectly a response to the primary issues*, but:

      “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.”

      It seems to me that there’s a basic tension in the political appointee/civil service dichotomy that this attitude doesn’t grapple with. From the civil service perspective there are rules — laws even — that are basic to issues like access to classified material. The thought seems to be that even if you’re not going to go through with proving that there was a violation, enforcing the rules is still important. But that view gets things upside down when it comes to political appointees. The civil service doesn’t get to pick and choose who they work with (or really for). The route to revoking those credentials really needs to go through actual trials. I suppose you could make an argument that since Clinton is a “civilian” right now the political appointee approach shouldn’t apply, but she has also been a prominent candidate for president, so it’s also absurd to pretend the issue stands outside of politics.

      * Though I will note that the sourcing on this article is crappy.

      • Snodgrass says:

        The organisations that control security classification would like politicians to submit to their weird obsessions; the politicians understandably don’t want to. And, since you absolutely don’t want to give the intelligence agencies a veto on who is on the intelligence-agency-supervision committee, the politicians have to win in at least some circumstances; the question’s just where you put the line.

      • Dan T. says:

        Is the British TV series “Yes Minister” an accurate depiction of the politician / civil service tension?

    • dragnubbit says:

      Usually when a major claim like that is made by a single anonymous source, the reporting agency is able to get some other people on background to confirm at least the outlines of the account (e.g. so it is not just a single axe-grinder speaking for an entire organization). Does anyone know if the reporting on this extends beyond a single source? If it truly was unanimous, there ought to be at least a few others willing to say so on background.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure, it would be dishonest to publish this piece without more information than appears on the page. But sometimes reporters are dishonest.

        What is the meaning of your question? Do I have information about what the reporter did? No, of course not. Or is your question whether I read the article carefully to determine how many sources it had? Fox seems to mention two sources, “one person closely involved in the year-long probe” in the first three paragraphs and “a high-ranking FBI official” in the fourth paragraph, who backs off of the first strong claim. Then there are more quotes from “the source,” probably the first person. Public figures with attribution agree, but that seems to just be gossip. And, of course, there might be unmentioned sources.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Yeah, my impression from reading the article matched yours, which was:
          – 1 anonymous person inside the investigation who is seriously pissed and claiming to speak for everyone
          – 1 senior FBI person apparently not part of the investigation but may have talked to people on it depending how senior he is which partially corroborates but also partially refutes the broader statements of the source
          – no one else with real information, but plenty of broad opinions about Comey and his failure to do his duty which by now is a litmus test talking point in Republican circles

          Perhaps this is a case of left-wing media bias if no other organizations try to build on this story. There is certainly a start with this source – if he could bring a few more people from the inside to back him up about how everyone but Comey thought it should go to grand jury I think a WSJ or even a NYT would print it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    No Unsong today?

    It was usually out by London midnight…

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      It’s not precise. Sometimes it comes out Sunday, other times Monday. I just stuck it in my RSS reader and don’t worry about it anymore.

      This is speculation but the Monday ones read like they were a bit more hastily written. It’s possible we’re getting each chapter hot-off-the-press so to speak. At the very least I think they get a quick once-over just before they go up.

      Regardless it’s far more consistent than most internet content schedules.

      Edit: Ok, I guess it is going up today.

      • pku says:

        Scott’s deadline is generally Sunday midnight in whatever time zone he’s in. So in London that should be Monday 5-8am at the latest.

  10. Odoacer says:

    A researcher at Kent University is studying Isis and their propaganda. Here’s a link to a survey to take about it:

    https://decodingisis.org/

    I’d never seen any Isis propaganda videos before, and was surprised at their production values, as well as a little dismayed by the counter message. The font reminded me of a late 90’s community college commercial.

    • bluto says:

      I was surprised they put links to suicide counselors at the end of the survey. That probably says more about the West’s propaganda response to ISIS than anything shown in the study.

    • pku says:

      Hamas’s videos are also surprisingly good (in terms of production values, at least. The ones that try to scare Israelis off joining the military are… somewhat overestimating how scary the average israeli finds them).

    • Sfoil says:

      I’ve seen (fringe) allegations that the production value of ISIS videos indicates that it’s all a CIA/NSA/Mossad puppet/false flag/hoax. I truly can’t understand these allegations; these guys have been making videos for a while now, presumably even getting paid for it, and you can find material of comparable quality made for free by hobbyists all over the internet. Not to mention it isn’t 1995; digital HD video recorders are ubiquitous, even in some of the gnarlier reaches of the Earth. ISIS can afford to equip tens of thousands of fighting men and administrates a respectable swath of territory; of course they can fund a couple of dudes with commodity cameras and a laptop with editing software.

      • Callum G says:

        Perhaps because ISIS is trying to be a worldwide movement they’re attracting more western city kids with good knowledge of technology and online culture.

    • Unfortunately, the videos wouldn’t play for me.

    • I thought the counter video was okay, but could have been better. More spoken words instead of just written. I think it was aimed at a pretty literate person, and I don’t think that is the main target of ISIL. I think they need more nasty and explicit pictures. Like showing more dead. There was one such picture, but you couldn’t really see anything, so it didn’t have the emotional effect of the ISIL videos. And there was so little of those who left. That’s where the evidence is.

      Not that I understand why the ISIL videos are successful. Good production values, but it didn’t look very nice to me, other than the one handing out water guns to kids. And all in Arabic — I thought they were trying to get kids from the US and Europe. They would have been much more effective in English.

      • Sandy says:

        Their online magazine, Dabiq, is published in English, German and French, and it also has better production values than I would have expected. Rather glossy.

      • Ralf says:

        > Not that I understand why the ISIL videos are successful. Good production values, but it didn’t look very nice to me, other than the one handing out water guns to kids.

        From the target demographics Daesh isn’t looking for good Samaritans handing out toys to children. They are searching for warriors who find the idea of cutting the throat of their vanquished absolutely thrilling.

        To quote Orwell’s view on Hitler:
        “[Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flag and loyalty-parades … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet”

      • anon says:

        THey don’t target white bored colledge kids, they target second generation immigrants, that’s why it’s in Arabic.

    • Callum G says:

      Going from the ISIS propaganda straight to the counter message made me think that the counter message is really not hitting the right points. Evidently people who watch and believe the previous videos aren’t opposed to violence/radicalism/’wrongdoing’. They did sort of make the point that ISIS was corrupt and not following the values that they claim to represent, but I feel like that should have been more central. Maybe even adding in a slight message from a less radical Muslim group.

      The music in the ISIS videos was disturbingly good. I would actually listen to that again.

  11. tumteetum says:

    I have a craving to read some fantasy, something along the classic lines of “party of adventurers sets forth to retrieve/discard magical object”. I think I’ve read most of the obvious things like Tolkien, Eddings, Donaldson, Jordan, Feist, Guy Gavriel Kay etc but I stopped reading the stuff in the late 90’s, so maybe if you have suggestions from this century? Thanks.

    • cassander says:

      the first law trilogy by joe abercrombie. Don’t want to spoil things for you, but very excellent for a number of reasons.

      • tumteetum says:

        Thanks, never heard of it, just read a few reviews and it sounds like a twisted version of what I’m after which is both fine and good!

        • cassander says:

          it definitely deconstructs a lot of fantasy tropes while telling a good yarn. Stylistically very different from GRRM and Game of thrones, but clearly someone of the same sort of mindset, i.e. grew up on tolkien and his imitators and wants to screw with the formula.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I would describe the series as “Terry Pratchett, but grimdark”. A lot more narrativium than GRRM, and a lot funnier.

          • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

            Chiming in to say that I recently finished the series, and it’s truly excellent. The characters are vivid and unique, and it’s a ton of fun to read their POVs.

          • Anaxagoras says:

            I quite liked the series, and agree that it although it’s rather dark, it’s also a very funny set of books. The writing isn’t quite as high-quality as, say, Martin’s, but Abercrombie does some interesting things with characterization that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

            The mostly standalone book Best Served Cold, set in the same world, is a huge amount of fun, and surprisingly upbeat, given what happens in it.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Definitely worth reading, especially because the next 2 standalone books (there’s a trilogy then 3 semi-standalones) are excellent also – probably better than the trilogy. 6th not so great.

    • Gazeboist says:

      Tad Williams.

      For the “party of adventurers” fantasy form, try Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. It’s a deliberate homage to Tolkein’s works, but with a more modern fantasy philosophy and an American (rather than British or otherwise European) sensibility in the conflicts and characters. Most of the nations are clear standins for various fantasy groups – crypto-Irish, crypto-English, crypto-Norse, and crypto-Italian groups all make an appearance, as well as a few others. His elves have a bit of a Japanese sensibility, which is good and bad.

      Otherland also follows a party of adventurers (eventually…) with fantasy sensibilities, but the setting is a cyberpunk-inspired Earth. It’s not as broken as the standard cyberpunk setting, but there’s a sense that the break is coming. The story itself mostly takes place in a virtual reality world run by a supercomputer, though, so it winds up being pretty fantastical. And because Williams is a huge Tolkien fan there’s a major character who spends a fair bit of time early in the story drawing LotR parallels.

      Shadowmarch is a classic fantasy setting similar to that of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (though with fewer obvious counterparts of real cultures), but it doesn’t follow that classic “adventuring party on a quest” structure. It has a segment part way through with that structure, but the series as a whole is more focused on politics and war. Oh, and the female lead is rather unpleasant to read at times.

      The rest of Williams’ catalog doesn’t fit what you’re after, as far as I can tell, though I haven’t read War of the Flowers. His Dirty Streets of Heaven trilogy is fantastic noir (think Harry Dresden or Sanderson’s Alloy of Law, though it differs from both), and Williams is clearly not used to the style he chose to write it in. I abandoned Tailchaser’s Song after the first chapter; that book was his first novel and it shows.

      Fair warning when reading Williams: he is extremely long-winded. All three stories I recommended above are quartets, effectively. The first is nominally a trilogy, but the last book was 1500 pages and Tor refused to publish it in a single paperback volume. The last was intended to be a trilogy, but Williams found himself “unable to finish it in three books” or some such (he made a joke about it in the author’s note for the third book). He also has a tendency to spend more time than he needs to on prologue-like segments. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn spends something like 200 pages and two in-story years on the equivalent of the first fiveish chapters of Fellowship of the Ring. Otherland is even worse in this regard, although I think it’s the better story overall. It’s very much a single book broken into four volumes, and each book is the size of a typical Wheel of Time volume. The first one spends 200-300 pages introducing you to the (admittedly complicated) overall setting and the nature of virtual reality before the specific simulation that the story is mostly about actually comes to the fore, and the climax of the series arguably occurs at the end of the third volume, which makes the beginning of the fourth feel a bit empty of purpose.

      But! With those caveats, Williams is one of my favorite fantasy authors and I’m always irritated when he is overlooked.

      • tumteetum says:

        Thanks! I’ve heard the name but never read him. I was going to suggest that the hero should probably start off in a kitchen, just read a review of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and he does just that!

        Also, I dont mind long-winded, indeed I seem to enjoy it, I’ve read The Wheel Of Time.

        • Gazeboist says:

          It’s not so much the long-windedness I’d worry about (as you may have noticed, I’m somewhat prone to it as well), so much as the slow start. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you took three weeks to slog through the first third or so of The Dragonbone Chair and then blasted through the rest of it in one. I promise, all the goofing off in pantries is totally worth the epic quest for the Otherworldly Macguffin that comes after!

          • Vorkon says:

            Man, you are so right about that! I absolutely LOVED Otherland, Shadowmarch, and the Bobby Dollar books, they’re some of may favorites ever, but I’ve tried something like three times to read The Dragonbone Chair, and I still have yet to make it past the beginning.

      • Specter says:

        +1 on Otherland

      • Held in Escrow says:

        Warning: every single one of his series falls apart in the end. I love his work (War of the Flowers is one of my all time favorites), but we have a name for ass pull endings taken straight from Otherland.

        • Gazeboist says:

          I’ve generally found him better than, say, Stephenson for endings. While that’s not particularly high praise, I haven’t been too bothered by them. Otherland’s end was kind of a mess, though, you’re right about that.

    • Anonymous says:

      90s?

      Hey, I hear that George Martin has switched from SF to fantasy. Not as good as his music, though.

      There’s this new genre called “urban fantasy.” The Library at Mount Char is pretty close to your description. Lucky I don’t have to say that with a straight face.

      • tumteetum says:

        Yeah I tried Game of Thrones, I really did, read the first 3 and gave up, 4 paragraphs of magic in 4 or 5 thousand pages does not a fantasy book make.

        Thanks for the Library at Mount Char recommendation, never heard of it, just read some reviews, it sounds decidedly odd. Maybe even a little occultish(?), which is fine, I just spent a while reading up on that stuff.

        • Anonymous says:

          If quantity of magic matters to you, that’s important to know. Urban fantasy is often low magic, but Mount Char is very high magic. I don’t know much about the occult, but I don’t think it fits. But more important is the issue of tone. This book is dark and over the top, neither of which was suggested by your request.

      • pku says:

        If we’re bringing up Urban Fantasy, Jim Butcher is always my go-to recommendation. Neil Gaiman also has some good stuff if you haven’t read him – the closest to classic high fantasy would be Stardust and Neverwhere (who also have the advantage of being fairly short, so it’s easy to just try them out).

        • dndnrsn says:

          “Stardust” is considerably shorter than “Neverwhere”, in large part because it has larger print, or at least the edition I have. “American Gods” is, if you’re looking for “urban fantasy”, quite good, although a bit cliche. “Neverwhere” is stronger – it’s one of those books where I felt deeply angry that it had an end.

        • Vorkon says:

          The thing to remember when recommending Butcher is that the first couple books in the series are really pretty bad; The Dresden Files originally started as a deliberate attempt to write something terrible and formulaic, in order to prove his teacher wrong. He failed miserably in this attempt, fell in love with the setting, and it grew from there.

          After the third book or so, it gets amazingly better, but I’ve often found that when I try to recommend the series to people, they fail to get past the first couple books, and think, “eh, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.”

          • Artificirius says:

            Start new people at the Seventh book. It’s a good lead in.

          • Much the same can be said about Pratchett. I read part of the first Diskworld book, didn’t finish it. Eventually my younger son, who was a fan, persuaded me to read a later one, I think The Night Watch, and since then I’ve read lots and liked them.

          • pku says:

            I liked them a lot. They really were different (and probably have a narrower appeal), but they were fresher in some ways, since they were written before he fell into a pattern. (Same goes for Pratchett – his later books are more sophisticated and readable, but his early books are more original).

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ David Friedman
            Much the same can be said about Pratchett.

            And about Xanth. I read Xanth out of order, starting around Castle Roogna, then found A Spell for Chamelon dull. Around Question Quest, Anthony seemed to have run out of ideas, so I dropped the series.

            Did you read all of Prachett’s books? I dropped him soon after he began preaching. Someone said that after all the good books he’d written, he deserved to preach if he wanted to, but I didn’t want to read it.

          • I don’t think I’ve read all of Pratchett’s books–for one thing I never finished the first one I started. But I have read and enjoyed some of the later, possibly latest, ones.

          • Skeltering Lead says:

            Something bugs me about Pratchett. I loved all the paragraph-length quotes from him people post, so I tried the first Discworld book and put it down immediately. I got a little farther into Hogfather but dropped that too. The tone, humor and general philosophical position that works so well in pithy quotes grates on me in larger doses, I guess.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The first three Discworld books are significantly different in tone and style from the rest, but if you didn’t like Hogfather either, it may just not be for you.

          • smocc says:

            On the other hand, Hogfather doesn’t star Vimes, which is why it can never be my favorite Discworld book.

          • Skeltering Lead says:

            I’m airing my frustration because the book is made up of pieces I really enjoyed, but I somehow totally lost interest in continuing with it.

      • dndnrsn says:

        “Library at Mount Char” was very good. Some weird stylistic choices – there’s too much “telling instead of showing” – but IIRC it’s the author’s first novel.

    • TMB says:

      Robin Hobb – Farseer trilogy – quest related things certainly happen, but more of a focus on the life of the young assassins apprentice. I read this a long time ago, but it still stands out in my memory as being particularly good.

      On a side note, has anyone here ever read “The Black Company” by Glen Cook? I’ve seen it on several “best fantasy books” lists – I couldn’t finish more than 50 pages. Seemed to be really badly written, so when I came across one of the most revolting passages I think I’ve ever read, I binned it.
      What’s the appeal?

      • Protagoras says:

        I’m fond of the series, though I think it is uneven. I like some of the characters, and some of the world-building. I think I may be in general less picky than some about good writing when there are other things going on that appeal to me.

        • Protagoras says:

          Hmmm. I see now, too late to edit, that I wasn’t clear that I was talking about “The Black Company.”

      • pku says:

        +1 to this, farseer trilogy is one of the more underrated fantasy series out there.

        The semi-sequelous liveship trilogy has more magic (several major characters are talking ships or sea serpents), but takes longer to hit its stride (the first book is pretty good but not too exciting – it gets much better over the second and third books).

      • dndnrsn says:

        For a second, I thought this was referring to the trilogy by Robert Sawyer that kicks off with the novel “Far-Seer”. It’s about talking dinosaurs. Does have a quest narrative! Really liked it when I was a kid, although the talking dinosaur sex was and remains kind of weird. I don’t wanna hear about dewlaps, man.

      • tumteetum says:

        Robin Hobb – Thanks for that, a friend recommended that years ago and I’d forgotten about it.

      • Garrett says:

        Robin Hobb – Farseer trilogy

        One of the only pieces of writing to ever make me cry. Repeatedly.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you want the classic formula of “adventurers going on long magical-object-motivated journeys, encountering strange and fantastic creatures along the way,” my favorite little-known example would be the Winter of the World trilogy starting with Anvil of Ice. One twist on the classic formula is that the protagonist is a magesmith, and the magical items that motivate the long journeys are his own creations.

      • tumteetum says:

        Thanks anon, read that when it came out, forgot to put him in my list above. I recall enjoying it a lot, should go back and read it again.

    • J Mann says:

      Richard K Morgan’s “Cold Commands” Trilogy is a very gritty reinterpretation of those tropes, with super unhappy protagonists and lots of sex. It’s well written, though, and I enjoyed it a lot.

      Oooh – have you read the Order of the Stick web comic? Google it, go back to the first strip, and give it a try.

      • tumteetum says:

        Heaven’t heard of Morgan, will look into it thanks.
        And yes read order of the stick a while ago, awesome comic, well it is if you’re a d’n’d nerd.

    • Jake says:

      Read anything by Brandon Sanderson? His Mistborn series was great, and The Stormlight Archive series is shaping up to be great as well, though it may be a while before it’s complete (only two books out now). He has a couple one-offs that are also good. He tends to come up with interesting magic systems, then write books around how that magic system would shape the world.

      • tumteetum says:

        Nope never heard of him, but then I havent been reading fantasy in quite a while. Will add his name to the list. Thanks!

        • My younger son thinks highly of him. I read part of one of his books, I think the first Mistborn. The magic system was interesting but I didn’t like either of the apparent protagonists, so stopped.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’ve never heard of him, but elsewhere in this thread you mention reading several books by him…

          • tumteetum says:

            Nice work anon! Yes I have read the wheel of time, but I had just blanked out that he finished off the series, so sorry if I offended you…

        • Vorkon says:

          Oh man, if you haven’t read anything by him, I can’t recommend anyone more highly. Since Sir Terry’s untimely passing, Sanderson is without a doubt my favorite living fantasy author. I didn’t even think to recommend him, though, because I just figured he was so ubiquitous these days.

          When people say he writes complicated magic systems they’re not kidding, but where he really nails them is in HOW he portrays them. It’s not just complication for complication’s sake. He does an excellent job of slowly teaching you the rules that his magic systems work under throughout the story, so that later, when he uses those systems to do something cool, it feels completely earned.

          That’s probably the best way to describe his writing, actually: He does a great job of ensuring everything feels earned. It’s not just his magic systems. I don’t think there’s anybody in the business who can pull off a plot twist quite so well foreshadowed, which makes you say, “holy shit, how did I NOT see that coming?” despite the fact that you didn’t actually see it coming.

          His writing has a very light, conversational tone, so if the main reason you like fantasy is for all the poetic and evocative language he might not be your cup of tea (though, he’s not exactly BAD at that, or anything, just not great) and occasionally his jokes feel kind of forced, but as far as careful plotting and interesting ideas go, there’s nobody better.

          Also, if you didn’t know, he’s the guy who Robert Jordan’s wife picked to finish off the Wheel of Time books, after Jordan died. So maybe you HAVE read him, and just didn’t know it! The last three books are, without a doubt, the best the series has been since about book 4.

    • Incurian says:

      Maybe The Wheel of Time? I don’t normally recommend that series because it’s extremely long and drawn out for no good reason, but I think it fits the genre you’re looking for. About half of them were published post-2000.

      • Lumifer says:

        With WoT I think a good approach is to start reading without expecting to finish the whole series and stop when it’s no fun any more. I find the first book great, the second good, the third merely OK, and beyond that it just becomes a boring slog.

        • Specter says:

          Read the first three and then the last three. You won’t have missed anything in between except a lot of braid pulling and skirt smoothing.

          • TMB says:

            I dunno –
            gur natevrfg V’ir rire orra sebz ernqvat n obbx jnf nsgre gur fgvyyvat bs Fvhna Fnapur. V qba’g xabj vs gung’f n tbbq ernfba gb xrrc ernqvat, ohg vg’f pregnvayl fbzrguvat. (V raqrq hc tvivat hc ng obbx 8).

          • Incurian says:

            Fubhyq unir xrcg ernqvat!

          • Vorkon says:

            Eh, I’d say read the first four. IMHO, book 4 was Jordan at his best. Opinions vary on exactly when the series started going downhill after THAT, (though everybody agrees it did at some point) but I think most people would agree that book 4 was outstanding.

          • pku says:

            Yeah, 3 was bad, then 4-5 pick up again, then it starts going downhill (with the occasional upturn).

      • pku says:

        I actually like that it’s really long-winded – sometimes you like when a story is and just want to spend an afternoon reading two hundred pages of it without anything changing too much, and WOT (or the Dresden files, I guess) is the only place that really does that (in ASOIAF, which is similarly long, there’s always the risk of a surprise death). And there are plenty of faster-paced stories for when you want that.

      • tumteetum says:

        Yup read it, I forgot that I’d finished that this century! I liked it a lot, tho I think books 8-11ish got pretty dull but then it picks up again.

      • pku says:

        Speaking of WOT reminds me of Scott’s response to Robert Jordan’s death

        RIP Robert Jordan, 1948-2007. He was one of my favorite authors and an all around great human being. At least he died as he lived – in a drawn out, seemingly endless manner.

        I hear the funeral will be held from September 20th to November 18th.

    • Lysenko says:

      I’m afraid that at the moment I can’t think of many that explicitly follow the Party/Quest structure as closely as Tolkien, Eddings, or Donaldson. That said, let me second Joe Abercrombie and (if you like Urban Fantasy) Jim Butcher. As for my own recommendations:

      The Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan, starting with Promise Of Blood: A world where there is intense rivalry between the more traditional wizards and “powder mages” who are able to channel the explosive power of magical(?) black powder in a variety of interesting ways, more 18th-early19th century in tone than high medieval. A revolution to unseat a massively popular king and replace him with a republican form of government turns into something bigger when it turns out that A) the whole “crown selected by the gods” thing might not be BS after all and B) the Gods are actually coming back.

      If you like it, consider Django Wexler’s “The Thousand Names”, a series going for a similar vibe.

      The Curse Of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold – A veteran who survived years of slavery when political forces led to his ransom never arriving ends up as a tutor in the royal court. And discovers that it’s going to be up to him to not only dive back into the dangers of court politics but to figure out how to break a magical curse that has plagued the royal line for over a generation.

      Both this one and the sequel do some very interesting things with the fantasy/religious concepts of “chosen of the gods”, saints, miracles, and so on, as well as having Bujold’s usual outstanding characterization.

      The Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – A series following someone who might be the world’s greatest con artist and thief, until the highest echelons of the City of Camorr (very inspired by high medieval/early renaissance venice) and its underworld alike are rocked by a mysterious figure with magical backing who might be even better at this sort of thing than Locke, and whose plans might well rip apart everything in his world.

      Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia – A less european setting than usual, and a nice balance between action and character development as we follow the most feared legal enforcer of a rather totalitarian caste-based empire. He’s a humorless, joyless brick wall of a man who cares only for The Law and that The Law Be Enforced Properly In Every Smallest Detail At All Times. In many ways, he went straight past fanaticism to “robot”. And then he discovers that his entire existence is based on an incredibly serious lie and a violation of The Law, and that he’s starting to have a sense for something else. A sense that there might be such a thing as “Justice” that exists as a concept prior to or separate from the law…

      I want to recommend Patrick Rothfuss’ books badly…but I have a really hard time turning someone onto a series where the indications are that the third book’s development is troubled. That said, if you’re the sort of person who’s ok with getting through two books in a trilogy and not knowing if/when book three is coming, Patrick Rothfuss’ sets up a bunch of very interesting questions about the life and times of the infamous magician Kvothe in “The Name of The Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear”, questions that I really hope he’ll be able to resolve someday!

      • Manya says:

        +1 for Curse of Chalion.

      • tumteetum says:

        Wow thanks for all that! I’ll add them to my list, looks like I’m going to be reading fantasy for a while!

      • Vorkon says:

        I’m kinda’ surprised you’re the first person I’ve seen recommend Rothfuss here.

        I’ll second that recommendation, even if it remains to be seen whether or not he ever finishes the third book. Remember how I praised Brandon Sanderson’s use of magic systems and plotting, but complained about his lack of poetic, evocative writing? Yeah, I can think of few fantasy authors working today who are more poetic and evocative than Rothfuss, AND he does a good job of plotting and using his magic systems to pull off things that feel earned, to boot. It’s a pity he seems to get lost up his own beard sometimes, and it remains to be seen if he can hit the landing, but I’d highly recommend his work, anyway.

        And yeah, I’d heartily recommend Correia’s latest offering, even to people who aren’t fans of his usual pulpy work. Gotta’ love Fantasy Judge Dredd!

        • yodelyak says:

          Chiming in… Robin Hobb’s Farseer books are special to me since I was a teen, so more than a decade now, and Rothfuss is great, though of course still one more to go. (so far, I just read the first one a few weeks ago)

          If you will risk something with a little more adolescent appeal, I highly recommend the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud.

          Ursula Le Guin is a name worth dropping.

    • Anatoly says:

      From an explicitly highbrow position (which may not be what you’re looking for), I’d recommend Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It’s the only fantasy novel of the last 15-odd years I remember reading that took my breath away with its world-building and character development. It doesn’t have a party-of-adventurers plot.

      I also likes George Martin’s ongoing saga for its epicness and because, for all its faults, the characters aren’t cardboard.

      Of those mentioned elsewhere in the thread, Abercrombie, Hobb, Sanderson and Bujold have been a disappointment to me in terms of literary quality, flat characters, trite emotions etc. (surprisingly so in the case of Bujold, because I remember her SF stuff being much better). If you try one of those and have the same reaction, maybe Clarke will work better for you.

      • Gazeboist says:

        Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

        Another of my favorites, but it doesn’t have anything like the quest structure the OP was looking for. It also has a slow start problem similar to Tad Williams’ books, though to a lesser extent.

        • pku says:

          If there’s one thing JS&MN reminds me of it’s UNSONG (but a version based off 19th-century England instead of modern-day Silicon Valley): Lots of worldbuilding, a ridiculous amount of background stories, incredibly nerdy main characters with a vaguely related war in the background and questions about the fundamentals of magic in the front, a ridiculous number of weird ideas…

        • Anonymous says:

          Close enough to a quest.

        • Salem says:

          Strange & Norrell has a fast start, I’d say, but gets very lost in the middle. The beginning and end are super, though.

      • I thought Curse of Chalion was very good, the sequel pretty good, the third book a little weaker.

        • LHN says:

          Bujold also has two short stories set in the same world, “Penric’s Demon” and “Penric and the Shaman”, which I think are good (though not quite up to Curse of Chalion). IIRC, the plan is to do at least a third Penric story and publish them together as a fixup book.

          • Anaxagoras says:

            I liked Curse of Chalion a lot, and its sequel, Paladin of Souls, was also really good.

            Curse of Chalion is at its core about a (fantasy) religion, but it plays its cards very close to its chest, and indeed appears to be an entirely different book until 2/5 of the way through. It’s slow to build, but it’s worth it for the directions it goes in.

            Paladin of Souls isn’t quite as good, but it’s still very fun. Bujold respects her readers enough to not keep stringing out the story’s mystery much beyond where astute readers catch on, and then goes off into some clever exploits of the situation that would make a power-gamer proud.

        • Anatoly says:

          The Curse of Chalion had an interesting, original, well-thought-out ontology. But the characters were unbearably flat. The young princess, who is chaste and pure. The grizzled hero, whose most morally ambiguous act is to wish death upon the most vile monster at hand. Everyone is either good or bad, and characters are motivated externally by the author’s desire to advance the plot.

          This is in contrast to Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books, where there are conflicts in which both sides are “right”, people end up doing evil things through pursuit of what they thought were good and honorable goals, the amount of explicit hand-wringing is reasonably small, etc. etc.

          I didn’t try to read the sequels.

          Oh, I remembered another fantasy novel I read in the recent years and liked: Michael Swanwick’s “The Iron Dragon’s Daughter”. This one’s very unusual, grim but not grimdark, and written for adults.

      • Vorkon says:

        Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is another one that I would heartily recommend. I dunno if I’d call Sussana Clarke one of my favorite living authors, because as far as I know she still hasn’t written anything ELSE, (if I’m wrong about that, please let me know: I would LOVE to read it) but Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a serious contender for best single fantasy novel in the past decade or so.

    • Randy M says:

      People here might like the Engineer Trilogy , even if it doesn’t quite meet your description; it’s about a mechanically advanced (but not steam-punk or industrial) civilization and the machinations of an exile from that land to get back them. It’s a bit of a surprise which preposition should be the penultimate word in that previous sentence, at or to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Since everyone here loves Cosma Shalizi, we must all endorse his suggestions. (only recent, but less suggestive)

  12. Odoacer says:

    Candidates respond to 20 science questions:

    http://sciencedebate.org/20answers

    I haven’t read it in detail, but it looks like pretty standard answers from them.

    • This was pretty interesting. Trump had some pretty good answers. In the question about the Internet, he said flatly that he would not spy on American citizens. That sounds very un-Trump-like, and so I am suspicious of reality here, but I liked his comments.

      Hillary seems to be allergic to short comments. I barely looked at hers because it was all boilerplate.

      Trump won this one hands down, in my opinion.

  13. anon says:

    Seems like it will be an interesting day at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    • The Nybbler says:

      This definitely raises my estimate of the probability that he’s got the dirt on Clinton that he claims to.

      • pku says:

        Didn’t he already publish that last week?

      • dragnubbit says:

        Why? Do you believe this is something that could prevent its release?

        • Anonymous says:

          It would be enough to delay it a few weeks, wouldn’t it?

          • JayT says:

            I would imagine it would be easy enough for one of his helpers to get him an Aircard or for him to give someone a thumbdrive with the information. Unless he’s completely cut off from the outside world, but even in that case I would guess that the information is spread out and not just with him.

        • The Nybbler says:

          No, but I believe that someone who wished to prevent its release might think it was worth a shot.

          • Callum G says:

            With the dead-mans switch wouldn’t you think that someone who wanted to accelerate it’s release give it a shot?

      • dragnubbit says:

        And it turns out that Ecuador cut him off.

        So did Clinton lean on Ecuador?

        • anon says:

          State Department is avidly denying that Kerry leaned on them. The only reason I believe that is that the action itself was so obviously ineffectual. I confess I thought it was likely this action was a prelude to extraditing him on Monday, but apparently not. Hard to say what’s really going on. There is also the thing about the trumped up child porn charges (see Wikileaks twitter), so perhaps this is related to preventing him from doing media spots rebutting that nonsense. Or maybe Ecuador just got tired of Assange showboating; I like the guy but he’s definitely a self-promotion addict.

  14. hlynkacg says:

    So vaguely weird and left field but it’s late I don’t really have anyone to talk to about this…

    One of my first “real” jobs was rendering first aid and burying bodies.in the aftermath the Boxing Day Tsunami. I just ran into one of my fellow body-snatchers in a bar 7400 miles away from where either of us made our bones. On one hand it was genuine pleasure to catch up with an old acquaintance and trade war stories. On the other I’m honestly having a bit of a freak-out right now. The pork in my fridge smells like death, the cheese like gangrene, and I really need a smoke despite having quit years ago.

    I’ve always taken a dim view of “trigger warnings” but I’m actually feeling a bit sympathetic right now, it’s just weird to me that this would be the “trigger”. I mean I’ve encountered much more fucked up shit much closer to home so seriously Uriel WTF?

    • anon says:

      I don’t have any basis upon which to commiserate, but I’m curious about your biography. Apologies in advance if you consider these questions too forward; I won’t mind if you ignore them. Can I conclude from this post that you participated in Operation Unified Assistance, or am I even wrong about your nationality? It seems clear to me from your posts that you have served in some military, probably for the USA. I think you were probably in the Navy, and perhaps still are. Going off that assumption, I wonder… did you ever subsequently deploy in a combat zone? … did the military view tsunami relief missions as the sort of thing that should trigger mandatory post-trauma counseling interventions?

      • hlynkacg says:

        Can I conclude from this post that you participated in Operation Unified Assistance?

        Yes.

        I was in the US Navy for 8 years and was a fresh faced nugget two weeks into my first “fleet” assignment when our team got mobilized to set up a field hospital in Acheh. We were literally the first US boots to hit the ground. This did not trigger any mandatory counseling at the time, and if you’d asked me, I would have told you not to bother. I wasn’t traumatized, I was enjoying myself. This is what I had trained for, and it turns out that I was damn good at it.

        I did do two subsequent combat deployments and these did lead to mandatory counseling, but my time in Indonesia never really came up in those sessions. That said, attitudes in the military towards PTSD have changed a lot over the last 10 years so I suspect this would not be the case today. Even so, while I did go through some of the stereotypical “adjustment period’ issues like sleeping with my boots on, and jumping at sudden noises. I wouldn’t have said that I was “traumatized”. Heck, I spent another two years after I got out working the front desk in a major metropolitan ER and acting as a private contractor/consultant for the Red Cross, before finally deciding to hang up my scrubs and go back to school.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congrats, you’ve found one of the few genuine cases of triggering occurring. One swallow does not make spring, however.

      • Pan Narrans says:

        That response was a tad cold, all things considered.

        • hlynkacg says:

          meh.

          Like I said above, I generally took a dim view of the whole “trigger warning” thing prior to last night, and even now my feeling is less “OMG the Horror!” and more “ok, that was rather unsettling”.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      I’ve always taken a dim view of “trigger warnings” but I’m actually feeling a bit sympathetic right now, it’s just weird to me that this would be the “trigger”. I mean I’ve encountered much more fucked up shit much closer to home so seriously Uriel WTF?

      One of the common arguments against trigger warnings is that actual triggers do often tend to be surprisingly random things (like, in your case, meeting a guy you used to work with), rather than stuff you’d expect to be triggering.

      • Gazeboist says:

        That doesn’t seem like a dispositive argument. Plenty of triggers (usually those from bullying/abuse of some kind) are just “the thing that happened, realistically depicted”. I know Thamiel’s social manipulation in Unsong hit this guy pretty hard just by correctly depicting a situation they had actually been in.

        (This is not to say “don’t realistically depict bad things”, but it’s perfectly appropriate to say “hey, brace yourself for [X]” where X is a general description of the thing that you’re worried will trigger someone)

    • Callum G says:

      Shit. That sounds like a really nasty experience hlynkacg. I can’t imagine what that would be like but it doesn’t sound easy. It must of been a weird set of emotions seeing a good person who’s mixed up with all that horror.. I’m just a stranger on the internet with no specifically helpful traits, but if you want to talk to someone then feel free to email me at D-k8utmcckmqel692l6@maildrop.cc

      Triggering occurs. The word ‘triggered’ has connotations with things that are far different from what you experienced, but the concept is sound. From the way our memory works it makes a lot of sense. We have a negative event and unfortunately a whole bunch of otherwise benign images/words/people surrounding the event get caught up in association. If someone said a particular phrase during an assault, then hearing that phrase harks back to the assault. The word assault understandably links to the assault. It’s a sort of classical conditioning.

      From my observation, the problem people have with triggering is two-fold. The first is people erroneously throw the whole concept in with the stereotype of a ‘special snowflake’; a ‘tumblrina’ type who selfishly wants to upend everything for everyone. People don’t see their negative association as entirely genuine (I’m making no comment on whether it is or not). Rather they see someone forcing the emotion as an unquestionable defense for their own political ends. It’s difficult to argue with how someone feels. Secondly, it’s treated with a somewhat ‘life’s tough then you die’ sort of mentality. If you’re assaulted in a room with blue walls, then does that mean we should stop painting walls blue? How about the sky? There must at some point be a line between the responsibility of the general public and the personal will to caution or endure. In this sense, trigger warnings are seen as a slippery slope pandering to a sense of victimization.

      I somewhat agree with those objections. Something that is good, i.e. not wanting other people to feel terrible, has been picked up and wrapped in a movement that can be hyper-emotional and controlling. However, your experience shows that triggering is a very real facet of the human memory. As to how we separate the two, I think that when things are easy and obvious then trigger warnings should be used. No one could have prepared you for this meeting with this acquaintance, but if there was an essay discussing the event (and the discussion of death wasn’t implied) then a trigger warning for death is easy to do. A second for others to read something that could spare another of a lot of anguish.

      • Aapje says:

        Something that is good, i.e. not wanting other people to feel terrible, has been picked up and wrapped in a movement that can be hyper-emotional and controlling.

        And this movement has severe ‘echo chamber’ issues, where the elimination of criticism is even explicitly demanded (see ‘safe spaces’).

        In theory, most of the things that the social justice movement advocates has some, if usually rather limited, validity. However, those things usually get weaponized and used inappropriately to shout down dissent. The irony is that they are making people feel terrible that way, yet they never provide trigger warnings when they abuse their ideological opponents.

        In general, I see an immense amount of hypocrisy, where it’s demanded that people treat them a certain way, but they refuse to treat others as they ask to be treated. This kind of behavior automatically leads people to resist even the semi-reasonable things that social justice people propose, out of fear that it will turn out to be a Trojan horse.

        There is also the issue that it is effectively censoring people when onerous demands are placed on speech.

        The social justice movement is a subculture with a shared language and theory about what is triggering. The demand for triggers puts a burden on the people who want to debate to first study ‘triggers.’ It’s similar to how PC language puts a burden on people to keep up with a continuously evolving vocabulary in which to express themselves (black -> african-american -> PoC). At a certain point people just give up and keep their thoughts to themselves, rather than navigate this minefield.

        I don’t think that getting people to shut up is very helpful.

        As to how we separate the two, I think that when things are easy and obvious then trigger warnings should be used.

        Before the social justice movement came up with this, people would already warn for the truly obvious stuff (like bloody footage from wars) and I’ve seen no one take issue with this.

        It’s the non-obvious things that people feel is silly.

        PS. The biggest irony is that ‘trigger’ itself refers to weapons and thus may be triggering for some people.

        • Callum G says:

          Personally, the word trigger reminds me of SQL databases and that’s triggering.

          All jokes aside, there does seem to be a degree of reasonableness about trigger warnings, so maybe we should have an open dialogue about when they should be applied. Having a standard about what should and shouldn’t have warnings would reduce the feeling of censorship as news websites etc would say ‘I apply the Internet Standard approach to trigger warnings’ and that’s that. You could even have a program that applies this standard by picking out keywords and placing a header on an article.

          This way there wouldn’t be a constantly evolving language that people would be expected to keep up with (if it did evolve it would be slower, centralized and easy to find). Hypocrisy would be easy to point out because you just compare what someone wrote against a standard.

          • Aapje says:

            My frustration is that the advocates tend to greatly overstate the case for trigger warnings, using very poor evidence. And they don’t even seem to want to study it further. For example, I had a rather frustrating discussion with a professor who had publicly advocated for it. I couldn’t even get him to agree that more research would be useful, which was rather amazing to me (a professor who doesn’t see the need for scientific research into his teaching methods seems like a doctor who doesn’t care if his treatments actually help his patients).

            He also didn’t understand how layman psychological interventions can harm people and that, if you want to implement them on a large scale, you might first want to check that it doesn’t hurt people, rather than depend on anecdotes.

            Having a standard might work if the only motive for using trigger warnings is to defend people. I think that there are hidden motives (that the advocates probably aren’t conscious about having):

            – They work as a marker for articles that are consistent with SJW ideology. I think that a lot of advocates of trigger warnings would get quite upset if conservatives would start to use them, as the trigger warning would prime them to expect an article that they agreed with, so they would feel duped.

            – In the social justice movement, people gain status by being more ideologically pure. As such, I believe that there is motive to outdo the standard to signal that the writer is better than others.

          • Callum G says:

            @Aapje

            Yeah, you’re right that. More research is nearly always good, the only exception that springs to mind is people using ‘we need to study more’ as a delay tactic. I don’t think that’s the case here. You’re also right that at the moment trigger warnings are an ideology signal. Which could mean that whatever common sense approach the public adopted, people within the social justice movement would push for more. If SJW took issues with conservatives using trigger warnings then tough luck really. You made your bed now lie in it. I think it’s less likely for them to take issue with it, rather they will intensify their approach to separate them from the mass.

            I don’t think that is reason to throw out the idea entirely. If the research showed that having trigger warnings did reduce the suffering of individuals/will to self-harm etc etc then we should look at some formal standard. I think we’re on the same page here.

          • Aapje says:

            If the research showed that having trigger warnings did reduce the suffering of individuals/will to self-harm etc etc then we should look at some formal standard.

            Yeah, I’m fine with that.

            My expectation is that proper research will show that psychological interventions that improve the coping abilities of people with PTSS works much better than trigger warnings, though.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Callum G

            If the research showed that having trigger warnings did reduce the suffering of individuals/will to self-harm etc etc then we should look at some formal standard.

            Nope, that’s the wrong criterion. If the cost-benefit analysis showed that trigger warnings are worth it, then we should consider them.

      • hlynkacg says:

        @ Callum G,

        I wouldn’t describe it as “nasty” so much as disconcerting, “weird set of emotions” indeed.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      That’s how actual triggers work. Trigger warnings are a bad idea because (among other things) it’s impossible to warn for every possible trigger, and most triggers are far more random and innocuous.

      • BeefSnakStikR says:

        On my fantasy Internet, where the impossible is possible, the popularity of trigger warnings would lead to a renaissance of web annotation services (like the long-defunct Google Sidewiki…I think Stumbleupon did this too).

        When you visit a web page, a trigger warning would pop up if you’ve installed the extension.

        People who genuinely need trigger warnings would subscribe to lists of warnings, written by people who actually want to write them, and who are best suited to write on specific topics.

        Everyone else gets a web annotation service that isn’t dead in the water.

        • Anonymous says:

          When you visit a web page, a trigger warning would pop up if you’ve installed the extension.

          And what if you don’t want people to lard their gratuitous and subjective trigger warnings all over your webpage?

          • Gazeboist says:

            Wasn’t that the problem with the Stumbleupon thing?

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t know anything about Stumbleupon. But if it allowed people to graffito others’ websites, I can easily imagine that was the problem with it.

          • Aapje says:

            It seems like a prime opportunity for advertisers.

          • BeefSnakStikR says:

            I was thinking that you’d subscribe to user-administrated annotation lists, like with AdBlock or Greasmonkey. So you could choose whether you wanted to see trigger warnings, scientific fact-checking, literary criticism, or whatever.

            Removing spam and bad annotations would be no different from doing so in any other forum. You could have the admins do it, have up/down voting, or bots. Removing spam is no harder or easier here.

            The problem I see is that you’d need a defacto standard, like Twitter, that everyone uses all the time, and it just hasn’t happened.

            Probably because most sites already have comment sections.

        • Callum G says:

          This is a good idea. You could have an AI generate trigger warnings for pages that haven’t yet been annotated. This would solve the problem that those most sensitive to trigger warnings (and likely to install the extension) would be less willing to expose themselves to random pages to annotate.

          In fact, maybe just the AI with supervised learning. This would stop trolls labeling a page as bad when it isn’t etc etc.

        • Lumifer says:

          When you visit a web page, a trigger warning would pop up if you’ve installed the extension

          That requires making your full browsing history available to third parties and in our day and age that doesn’t sound like a great idea.

          • BeefSnakStikR says:

            Why? It doesn’t require history tracking.

            With, say, Stylish or Greasemonkey, you can both (1) write a script that “overlays” on a certain web page, and (2) download a script that “overlays” on that web page.

            The first doesn’t compromise your history, though people can tell which websites you’ve written an overlay for by looking at your user profile.

            The second doesn’t compromise your history at all.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ BeefSnakStikR

            Web pages change. This means that your trigger warnings / annotations / graffiti / etc. has to be updated on a very regular basis. This means that when you visit a page you want to pull down the latest tw/a/g/etc. from the third-party service which provides (and probably hosts) them. This means that this third-party knows the pages you’re visiting.

  15. J Mann says:

    Are there any communities (presumably colleges, but maybe a commune somewhere or something) that have a few years experience with affirmative consent, and has anyone see a story or a study about how it’s working out in practice.

    I’m pretty curious to see whether it changes behavior, and if so, in what ways.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Seconding this request. I just took a mandatory affirmative consent quiz and so the idea is fresh in my mind. If these sort of rules were actually enforced what would they look like?

      As for changes in behavior, one thing I started doing a while back was texting girls after they got back to their apartments. Even if I don’t plan on seeing them again later, my reasoning is that getting a text message back saying “i had a grate time ;)” would be worth something. I’m not a lawyer so that might not be a useful defensive strategy but it gives peace of mind.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Seconding this request. I just took a mandatory affirmative consent quiz and so the idea is fresh in my mind. If these sort of rules were actually enforced what would they look like?

        I suspect that everybody would ignore them, and there would be nothing any authorities could do to stop this, because of course nobody actually wants their relationships to work like that and nobody would complain… Unless of course the girl in question* feels regretful or guilty, in which case she now has an excuse to sic the college authorities on the guy she had sex with. So basically, rape/sexual assault would in practice be defined ex post facto, based on the woman’s reaction to it.

        (* Theoretically also the man, but somehow I doubt they’d be taken as seriously.)

        • TheWorst says:

          For whatever it’s worth, and while my sample might not be representative, my experience indicates that the people pushing the “explicit verbal consent only” standard don’t actually practice it, ever.

          And that all of them are horrified at the idea that a woman might be held to that standard. It’s a lot like rich white people pushing stop and frisk – it seems to be wholly contingent on the belief that they aren’t the ones who’ll get stopped and frisked.

      • Lumifer says:

        What I find curious is that people unquestioningly accept that a place where they merely study or work has full rights to regulate their private sexual activities.

        Sure, in loco parentis and all that, but I still find the ongoing infantilisation… disturbing.

        • Psmith says:

          Better thought of as a return to a status quo ante Dixon v. Alabama (and a reminder of why universities acted in loco parentis in the first place) than as a disturbing new development, IMO.

          • Lumifer says:

            I am not wondering about the general principle (compare e.g. to employment at will), I’m wondering about the willingness of people to accept this sort of intrusion into their private life. Imagine an employment contract which specifies that you should not sleep with the boy/girl you like until you’ve gone on at least three dates, and moreover you are to abstain from what the contract calls “unnatural perversions” under all circumstances. Would you sign one?

          • Aapje says:

            The willingness is because people think that the ‘right’ norms are being forced on others.

            A lot of it is that many people have been completely deceived about the truth by crappy reporting and because one special interest group has a disproportionate huge voice and the other interest group is marginalized. Couple that with the issue that this special interest group is highly active, while most people have strong apathy and they get to do what they want, mostly.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          I don’t think it’s “unquestioning” so much as “grudging” acceptance.

          Right now, the same organization is my employer, landlord and the sole arbiter of whether or not I get the magic three letters of science. If they want to regulate my sexual activities I don’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

          • Lumifer says:

            It’s an Overton window thing. They demand because you accept.

            Notably, outside of academia employers seem to be less concerned with the sexual habits of their employees (TLAs being the exception for obvious reasons).

          • John Schilling says:

            They demand because you accept.

            They demand because Title IX. If you refuse to accept, they will still demand, and you will simply have to get used to your glorious future as a barista or Uber driver.

            For non-Americans here, “Title IX” refers to a section of the US legal code which among other things prevents virtually all colleges and universities from discriminating against female students. There is by now an extensive body of case law that says allowing any condition which makes female students feel unsafe at your institution, constitutes actionable discrimination. So as long as there are any female students willing to say, “Your unwillingness to closely supervise those Creepy Male Students makes me afraid they might rape me”, any college or university that doesn’t do the in-loco-parentis thing is liable to be sued.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ John Schilling

            Title IX goes back to 1972 and for many years no one in college administration cared greatly about who fucked who, how, where, and when. This wave of redistributing power is relatively recent and while you may argue that it’s driven by DoJ’s letters and “guidance”, there is a reason why it exists now and didn’t exist 30 years ago.

          • pku says:

            TLAs being the exception for obvious reasons

            The Texas Library Association?

            @Lumifer: I think the cases setting the precedent that it applies to doing anything that makes female students feel unsafe are more recent, probably due to both DOJ guidance and cultural shift.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ pku

            TLAs = Three Letter Agencies (usually the CIA, FBI, NSA trio).

          • bluto says:

            @Lumifer
            This additional guidance letter would seem to have been a key point in the shift in attitude. Specifically:

            Under Title IX, federally funded schools must ensure that students of all ages are not denied or limited in their ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s educational programs or activities on the basis of sex. A school violates a student’s rights under Title IX regarding student-on-student sexual violence when the following conditions are met: (1) the alleged conduct is sufficiently serious to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s educational program, i.e. creates a hostile environment; and (2) the school, upon notice, fails to take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.

            Indeed, a single or isolated incident of sexual violence may create a hostile environment.

            Those two mean a single violation can result in a school can losing all of its federal financial aid.

        • bean says:

          I suspect that it has a lot to do with the way college dominates life. It’s where your friends, your work, and often your housing come from. Traditional employers get your 8 hours, and the rest of the time is yours, and the closest parallel is the military. Which tends to have very similar regulations on sex to colleges, even though it’s a pretty right-wing organization in most other respects.

          • Lumifer says:

            Traditional employers get your 8 hours, and the rest of the time is yours

            It’s precisely the idea that in college the rest of the time is NOT yours that I’m having trouble with.

            The military is (or at least used to be) very, um, task-oriented and has real issues like unit cohesion to be concerned with.

          • bean says:

            It’s precisely the idea that in college the rest of the time is NOT yours that I’m having trouble with.

            Homework seems the obvious counterexample. But even leaving that aside, I’ve found that college was a lot more life-dominating than my job is. All of my friends were students, I lived on campus, and virtually everything I did was mediated through that lens. This gives the college immense psychological power, even if they wouldn’t have it in an ideal world.
            I’m not saying this is a good thing, just what I see happening.

          • Gazeboist says:

            It’s not that the rest of your time isn’t yours per se; it’s just very unlikely that you have much of a life outside the college’s sphere of influence if you’re a full-time student. (Part time students with real jobs are quite different, of course)

          • Corey says:

            According to colddeadplace.com, there are some similar issues living/working at McMurdo. The key difficulty is living in a workplace; in the workplace you’d like to be free of sexual harassment and just do your job, but where you live, you’d probably like to bone occasionally.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Gazeboist

            outside the college’s sphere of influence

            First, most of my life is within the government’s “sphere of influence” and there are a lot of people slapping back at what they consider government overreach (with more or less success, of course). And when a government wins at controlling its sphere of influence we usually call it “totalitarianism” and consider that to be a Bad Thing.

            Second, your claim is not true for grad students and for what’s usually called “non-traditional” students, that is, those who didn’t just fall out of high school directly into an undergrad program.

          • Gazeboist says:

            @Lumifer

            I tried to acknowledge “non-traditional” students in my post, though I guess I did a bad job of it. I’ll definitely cop to missing grad students.

            As to your other paragraph, I don’t think college interference in sexuality is good, I just think the advocates’ positions are more defensible than similar positions about employers. They’re wrong, but less wrong than they could be, and less wrong than other people they could easily be confused with.

          • Aapje says:

            @Corey

            The key difficulty is living in a workplace

            But the lessons aren’t actually given in the dorm rooms, so I think this is a poor argument. It seems perfectly possible for me to treat the dorms as apartments that just happen to be owned by the college, while different rules apply to the actual shared learning environment.

            The most sensible way to implement that may be to have a soft separation in the administration of the college, where one part is ‘landlord’ and the other is ‘workplace.’

    • Anonymous says:

      As I’m sure you know, there is equivocation in the meaning of “affirmative consent.” In particular, there is equivocation on whether it is supposed to be verbal consent. I think that there is a lot of strategic equivocation, with supporters expecting it to start one place and hoping to push it to the other. But I don’t think that the supporters are consistent: some want to equivocate in one direction and some in the other. So I expect a lot of diversity in actual implementation and would be very nervous about generalizing from examples.

      Anyhow, Antioch College introduced consent rules in 1991 that are much more explicitly verbal than any formulation promoted today. You should check them out.

      • J Mann says:

        Thanks – that was a good lead, but I couldn’t find any non-paywalled analysis of how Antioch actually worked prior to shutting down its undergraduate campus.

        I wonder whether they had fewer sexual assaults, whether the students complied with the policy, and how it impacted investigations.

        This paper looked interesting, but I can’t read it without shelling out $41. 🙁

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27044475

        • LHN says:

          It doesn’t look as if the authors actually studied the results at Antioch directly. The closest I see is a reference to a 2003 paper by one of the co-authors, where the researchers surveyed students at a different university as to what they thought of the Antioch policy.

          (“Only 45% of the 514 students indicated that they would support the Antioch policy on their campus. Most thought that the policy would be unrealistic (74%) and unenforceable (80%) and that verbally asking for consent would be awkward (65%). Only about half (51%) reported that they would fully comply with such a policy. Interestingly, however, more than two-thirds thought that the policy would be a good way to promote sexual communication between partners and that it should be used as an educational awareness tool but should not be a university regulation.”)

          But those students were presumably responding speculatively rather than having lived under it. The authors conclude with “Researchers could also provide information about how various consent policies are working. They could gather information from students at institutions that have either long-standing or newly enacted affirmative consent policies (e.g., Antioch College and schools in California or New York, respectively). Students could be asked how consent actually works under these policies, what they like and dislike about these policies, and what changes they would recommend. It could be useful to compare students’ experiences at these institutions with students’ experiences at other institutions, or to explore the experiences of students who transfer to or from institutions with and without affirmative consent policies.” Which, assuming that they did an adequate literature search[1], at least suggests that such studies don’t yet exist as of their 2016 publication date.

          [1] I don’t know the field well enough to know what the baseline expectation is there.

        • Anonymous says:

          You can get the paper here.

          Determining whether they actually had fewer sexual assaults sounds pretty hopeless to me. Determining what the students actually did should be possible, but I wouldn’t look to academics for that.

          • J Mann says:

            I’d be interested in any data – Atlantic articles, working papers, personal anecdotes.

            It seems like there must be some information to be gleaned from the communities that have tried to implement the standard.

            It seems to come from a good place – nobody wants to see people traumatized by a mistaken understanding of consent.

            My intuition is that it’s more likely that people just won’t comply and that it won’t make much difference, but I’d love to get some direct info.

          • Aapje says:

            There is plenty of evidence that many people evaluate sexual opportunities in a way that is inconsistent with affirmative consent. An example is that surveys show large numbers of people reporting that they put up ‘token resistance,’ where they protest and yet want sex. Given the usual expectation on men to initiate, if the woman puts up token resistance, there is an expectation for the man to ‘push through’ their resistance.

            As policies like affirmative consent completely ignore these social dynamics, the likely possible outcomes are:
            – People have less sex (unlikely given that most people value it highly)
            – People ignore the guideline until someone feels victimized. Given that we already live in a society where sexual crimes are considered to be almost exclusively perpetrated by men (and thus both victims, perpetrators and society fail to recognize most instances that fail to match the expected), stricter rules can be expected to cause many more frivolous persecutions of men and an increased inequality between men and women.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I think there’s another likely outcome, namely, that socially-awkward or -inept people will follow the rules, whilst popular, socially-skilled people will ignore them. Basically, it will just increase the gap in chances of having sex between awkward people and popular people.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Many women want pushing through token resistance to be punishable if and only if they say so, however. This improves token resistance as a filter (for confidence if nothing else), and allows them a way to permanently get rid of men whose (passive) interest they find undesirable. They can feign interest for the first few steps of the dance and then call the cops.

            Actual outcome is likely to be as Mr. X says, except some of the socially awkward people will be expelled or imprisoned.

          • Anonymous says:

            “Token resistance” is an ambiguous term. “‘No’ means ‘later'” is a form of token resistance that is compatible with verbal consent requirements. The paper Aapje cites does not try to make this distinction, even though it seems to admit that it exists (it gives several reasons for token resistance, two of which sound like they expect the “no” to be ignored and one of which sounds like they expect the “no” to be temporarily acceded).

          • Anonymous says:

            @The Nybbler

            I think it’s more than a little unfair to forget that women are stuck in a pretty ugly bind too – I think, uglier. A woman who doesn’t put up enough resistance may be seen as a slut – which is more acceptable in some scenarios than others. A woman who actually initiates will be seen not just as a slut, but as a weird slut. And more women get beaten up, raped, or killed than men get falsely accused of those acts (I believe Scott wrote a post on the subject some time ago).

            It seems like the current sexual culture is by and large an ugly situation all around – one that is bad for women who are open and honest, bad for men who don’t push boundaries, bad for people who end up on the seriously wrong end of interactions, and provides a great deal of plausible deniability for predators.

            (Of course, I am leaving out entirely other genders and same-gender sexual interactions – I highly doubt that there is any situation where there are not these ugly problems – but I imagine that the forms they take are different).

            EDIT: What, why am I Anonymous, this is dndnrsn. I just posted another thing and it registered fine. Huh.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @dndnrsn,

            It seems like the current sexual culture is by and large an ugly situation all around – one that is bad for women who are open and honest, bad for men who don’t push boundaries, bad for people who end up on the seriously wrong end of interactions, and provides a great deal of plausible deniability for predators.

            I’m not a big fan of modern sexual culture either, but it seems important to note that most of the present day flaws you point out are the direct result of past efforts to reform it. Prior to the sexual revolution courtship traditions were deliberately designed to eliminate ambiguity and weed out potential predators.

            Judging by past performance, the proposed medicine seems likely to be worse than the disease.

          • Lumifer says:

            A woman who doesn’t put up enough resistance may be seen as a slut

            That, um, depends. In rural Idaho, maybe. On the campus of your state university, not so much.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Dr Dealgood:

            I don’t know about that … men arguably used to get away with more predatory behaviour than they do now. Courtship rules might have been honoured in the breach, sort of thing. I will agree that attempts at reform have created new problems and maybe exacerbated some of the old ones. The relevant xkcd comic applies.

            @Lumifer: I did say “may”, but in my experience at university, women with especially promiscuous reputations did frequently get looked down on – except that it was in a more condescending/pitying fashion than perhaps used to be the case. “Wow, she hooked up with WHAT guy, does she even know what he’s been saying about her, what poor judgment, etc”

          • Lumifer says:

            @ dndnrsn

            women with especially promiscuous reputations did frequently get looked down on

            Sure, but the criterion wasn’t that you offered some resistance. The criterion was with how many different guys did you sleep over the last month or so.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn & Dr Dealgood

            In the olden days/modern conservative cultures, there was a script and deviating from this script was severely punished. The burden was disproportionately put on women as they could get pregnant, which would upset the social order* more than a promiscuous man.

            *based on male provider, female head of house; because both jobs were about equal in required labor, although the job of provider was often strength-based and thus more suited to (biologically stronger) men. For people outside the 1%, children could only effectively be raised in such a household, not by a single parent.

            In the modern West, better & more available contraception and abortion have made it unnecessary to regulate female sexuality more than male sexuality. The changed nature of jobs (generally intellectual, rather than hard labor) & housework (much less work) also have upended the provider/head of house model.

            Feminism has more or less addressed the burdens that were put on women, but due to them being an advocacy group for women, combined with a lack of a strong progressive advocacy group for men to balance this out, there has never been a proper new model based on a fair analysis of the burden that each gender can reasonably be expected to carry and the benefits that they ought to enjoy.

            So we are left with a mishmash that is partly based on the old system and partly on a new, with very little logic. Feminist attempts to change this by such things as affirmative consent are hampered by their refusal to seriously address how women behave in ways that prevent these models from working & their refusal to seriously respond to men who are asking for a workable new script (and instead merely get told what not to do, which is pretty much everything that actually works, rather than what they ought to do).

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Whenever someone says “contraception and medicine made sexual mores unnecessary,” I wonder if they live in the same universe as I do.

            Immediately following the sexual revolution, the response to oral contraception and widespread antibiotics, what did we see? An unprecedented skyrocketing rate of out-of-wedlock births and the nastiest epidemic STI in human history.

            I mean look around you. Does this look like we live in a world where it’s unnecessary for women to be careful who they have sex with?

          • Anonymous says:

            In the modern West, better & more available contraception and abortion have made it unnecessary to regulate female sexuality more than male sexuality. The changed nature of jobs (generally intellectual, rather than hard labor) & housework (much less work) also have upended the provider/head of house model.

            Really? Last I heard, children of single mothers still had significantly worse life outcomes, and the proportion of single mothers is huge compared to what it was before contraception.

            I think you’re overrating us monkeys here.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Lumifer: whether a woman gets a reputation of that sort seems to have a lot to do with factors other than sheer numbers.

            @Aapje: I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that men need to stand around with their hands in their pockets waiting for The Feminists to tell them how best to approach the ladies. Yes, lonely awkward guys who become convinced that their Male Gaze is some kind of death laser, etc, are in a bad place, but it’s not as though life being crummy for them (at least romance-wise) began in the 1970s.

            I also don’t think it’s fair to say that affirmative consent just plain doesn’t work. I, personally, am uncomfortable with the whole “just do it, move in without asking, etc” approach because I am aware that “into it” and “going along with it out of fear of getting murdered” can be hard to distinguish from the outside. It’s not impossible to mix being flirtatious, attractive, etc with tossing a “hey, wanna fuck?” in there. It can be made casual – you don’t need to fill out the forms and then submit them to three different government offices. Did not condemn me to a live of grinding loneliness and posting on incel forums.

            I would also agree with Dr Dealgood that feminism hasn’t really solved women’s problems in this arena either. It’s made some of them better, but there are also some huge screwups. The old male “you are a man based on how many women you bed” trope has been hooked up with its new female counterpart, where promiscuity is seen by some as a way of proving how liberated one is. Which leads to the sad spectacle of women giving themselves and each other pep talks on how much they enjoy casual sex with drunken randoms – generally, if something is actually great, one doesn’t have to constantly explain how excellent it is. Not that there aren’t some women who really do enjoy it – but I’m convinced by compelling anecdata that they’re outnumbered by women who feel that they should be enjoying it, same as there are plenty of guys who would prefer not to drench themselves in Axe and try to have sex with as many women as possible.

            EDIT: and of course there’s the stats that young people are actually having less sex than their equivalents in the past.

          • Aapje says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            Whenever someone says “contraception and medicine made sexual mores unnecessary,” I wonder if they live in the same universe as I do. […] Does this look like we live in a world where it’s unnecessary for women to be careful who they have sex with?

            Good thing I didn’t say that. My argument is not that mores are no longer necessary, but that different sexual mores can work now (and the old ones can no longer work). A hundred years ago, condoms were hugely expensive & hard to get. There was no contraceptive pill. Abortions were very dangerous and not as reliable. This meant that there was no reliable way to prevent pregnancies for most people.

            In the modern context, the pill and/or a condom with a ‘morning after pill’/abortion fallback is 99.99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used well. In a proper first world nation, this is accessible for all. In a ‘1.5 world’ nation, like the US, it’s less accessible for the poor, but still available for most people.

            Immediately following the sexual revolution, the response to oral contraception and widespread antibiotics, what did we see? An unprecedented skyrocketing rate of out-of-wedlock births and the nastiest epidemic STI in human history.

            Because people abandoned the old mores without (sufficiently) adopting proper new mores.

            Does this look like we live in a world where it’s unnecessary for women to be careful who they have sex with?

            Again, my argument is not that people can now be careless. My argument is that in a modern context, women can generally be sexually promiscuous with very small risk of pregnancy if they are careful.

            In a modern context, men are actually more at risk, since they can be at the mercy of a woman who gets accidentally pregnant (or tricks him). A woman can get an abortion without the man agreeing.

            Note that I’m not arguing that we have achieved proper new mores already (especially for dating). My point was that we are in the twilight zone. I’m also arguing that there are strong forces pushing us to wrong new mores, that don’t work.

            @Anonymous

            Really? Last I heard, children of single mothers still had significantly worse life outcomes, and the proportion of single mothers is huge compared to what it was before contraception.

            I never defended or argued for single motherhood, so your rebuttal fails to rebut. In the modern West, a huge number of children are not raised in a traditional provider/head of house household, but still have two parents.

            Furthermore, most of the single mothers aren’t forced into motherhood, but made a choice not to use the available options to prevent or end a pregnancy.

            I think you’re overrating us monkeys here.

            If you believe that the traditional mores, which put pressure on people to behave a certain way, mostly worked in their context; then I don’t see how you can believe that it’s suddenly impossible to make other mores work, by putting pressure on people.

            Most people are highly emotionally dependent on group approval, which was and is the basis for most culturally-defined behavior.

          • dndnrsn

            See also Sturgeon’s “The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff”, which argues that people aren’t as driven by sex as they present themselves as being (this is specifically about men). Part of the argument is that real drives don’t need advertising.

            Sometimes I think the fundamental human drive is hassling other people about their sex lives.

            The story isn’t available online as far as I can tell, but I recommend tracking down a paper copy.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that men need to stand around with their hands in their pockets waiting for The Feminists to tell them how best to approach the ladies.

            I’d actually rather see non-feminists flip the script and:
            – Propose a dating model that is fair to both genders
            – Start asking men and women to change their behaviors to make that script work

            My argument is not that feminists should do this, but rather that they are unwilling and in fact incapable of doing it (due to their dogma), so we shouldn’t defer to them. Unfortunately, they are the only ones who are in the debate (aside from conservatives).

            I also don’t think it’s fair to say that affirmative consent just plain doesn’t work.

            I’m not saying it doesn’t work for specific people. I’m saying that it doesn’t work for huge parts of the population and/or reduces their success rate from bad to horrible, so making it into law will criminalize large parts of the population (similar to drug laws).

            It’s not impossible to mix being flirtatious, attractive, etc with tossing a “hey, wanna fuck?” in there.

            That requires very good timing, which you may have naturally, but many men don’t. Furthermore, you may already have a much better starting position to begin with (looks, wealth, etc), increasing your attractiveness baseline and thereby greatly increasing the willingness of women to give you the benefit of the doubt. And you may be attracted to the type of women for whom that works. For men who aren’t naturals and/or have to dig themselves out of a hole from the beginning and/or are attracted to women who are way less receptive to directness, getting that timing through trial and error is a nightmare and a really bad strategy to getting ‘over the hump.’

            Anyway, one of my frustrations is that there is a dearth of research into dating strategies and especially how different strategies work better or worse for certain groups (this is visible in the ‘token resistance’ paper for example, where the people who preferred that strategy seemed to come from certain subcultures). I have come to believe that these differences are substantial and discussions about dating are greatly marred by people assuming that their own strategy/experiences are universally applicable.

            I would also agree with Dr Dealgood that feminism hasn’t really solved women’s problems in this arena either.

            Many of the remaining women’s problems are in no small part inflicted by women upon themselves or other women; but feminism tends to want to put the entire blame on men (directly or by proxy), which obviously then leaves the problem unsolved.

            I’m convinced by compelling anecdata that they’re outnumbered by women who feel that they should be enjoying it

            So they drink alcohol to make it easier.

            And then they wake up with regret and shit hits the fan…

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Aapje
            In the modern West, better & more available contraception and abortion have made it unnecessary to regulate female sexuality more than male sexuality. The changed nature of jobs (generally intellectual, rather than hard labor) & housework (much less work) also have upended the provider/head of house role.

            Wrong tenses, I hope.

          • Anonymous says:

            If you believe that the traditional mores, which put pressure on people to behave a certain way, mostly worked in their context; then I don’t see how you can believe that it’s suddenly impossible to make other mores work, by putting pressure on people.

            No, in that case I just misunderstood you. I read you as arguing that the present mores/lack of same were working fine. That’s my bad, sorry.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            There are feminists telling women they should initiate more, be direct, etc but they don’t seem to get listened to.

            I’m also flattered but baffled at being characterized as a “natural”. Believe me, I’m not. I will cop to having good timing – I’ve done some amount of comedy stuff in the past, and think I have a decent sense for that – and am not terrible looking or destitute. It probably does help that I tend to get along with the sort of women who respond well to actual verbal consent-checking.

            I think your last paragraph is unfair, in that there are a fair number of men who make a habit of going after women who are drunk enough to have impaired judgment (but not drunk enough to be unable to consent by a legal standard – the number of men who do that are fewer, but they still certainly exist).

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Aapje,

            So I’m seeing two basic errors, which are not unique to you by any stretch, that are making a hash of your reasoning here.

            1. People will not behave in the way most convenient to the system you design. If contraceptives are used properly, they can be very effective. How many people do you know who use contraceptives properly?

            Systems need to be designed around people’s observed behavior, you can’t just say “well if you used it properly it would work…” and expect that to fly.

            It’s ironic that modernists accuse traditional systems of being rigid and oppressive when the opposite is so often true. Much of the modern program revolves around making grand theoretical structures and then trying to beat people into shape to fit them. Traditional customs work because they were molded to the people using them over centuries or millennia of continuous operation.

            2. Making new mores is the hard part. Scott covered this very well in his Hillary shilling piece: tearing down a structure is dirt simple but making a new one is extraordinarily difficult. It’s a process of experimentation over decades or centuries.

            Sex is not a new problem. It’s arguably the oldest problem in human society, the first one any hominid tribe had to deal with since before we had language or tools. Why should we go through all this effort reinventing the wheel when we could take advantage of that built-up reservoir of traditions?

            @dndnrsn,

            There are feminists telling women they shou[l]d initiate more, be direct, etc but they don’t seem to get listened to.

            This is a good example of error 1.

            People generally don’t change their behavior to make things easier on social engineers. They, quite reasonably in my view, expect that societal customs will Just WorkTM as long as they don’t do anything egregiously stupid.

            Women don’t initiate more because, generally speaking, they don’t want to and they don’t have to. If you’re trying to make a courtship ritual for human beings this is very important information to have!

          • Anonymous says:

            the nastiest epidemic STI in human history

            No, that was syphilis.

          • Anonymous says:

            going along with it out of fear of getting murdered

            That is not the problem addressed by affirmative consent.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            There are feminists telling women they should initiate more, be direct, etc but they don’t seem to get listened to.

            That’s why I try to use the term ‘mainstream feminism.’ I agree that there are heterodox feminists, but as you said, they are currently not taken very seriously by the mainstream.

            IMO, there are two ways this can go: either the divisive and anti-intellectual forces in both tribes keep control and keep pulling their movements apart, increasing their dogma and lack of empathy, causing great destruction, until the inevitable backlash happens; or enough people are made to see reason to start reducing the gap without a cataclysmic event that invalidates entire ideologies (like happened to communism, for example). It’s not looking good so far…

            I’m also flattered but baffled at being characterized as a “natural”. Believe me, I’m not. I will cop to having good timing – I’ve done some amount of comedy stuff in the past, and think I have a decent sense for that

            You are basically admitting to being either a natural or trained for one of the main skills that allow this dating tactic to work. I suspect that you are also good at reading interest.

            The request for affirmative consent forces the decision at that specific moment, which in sales is a very dangerous tactic that is often avoided, as it gives bad returns with many audiences. The moment of choice is a moment of commitment where the other person has to accept many risks, which, even if the person accepts due to valuing the benefits over the downsides, often causes negative feelings (fear, sense of loss of control, etc).

            A huge number of sales tactics involve delaying the actual buying decision unless the target has been worked over with many persuasive techniques (or making it seem as a choice that is already made by making the target think past the sale). If the sale can be divided into sub-sales, a good tactic can be to get the target to make many decisions that are individually low risk and low cost, but collectively add up to a full sale (cheap printers + expensive ink is an example).

            I’ve heard women claim that sex ‘just happened,’ which happens when the man manages to use this latter strategy very well (usually by making small calculated moves with the opportunity for the woman to easily stop). The huge advantage is that the success of each sub-sale increases the willingness for the next sub-sale, assuming that the man uses non-threatening and sensitive escalations.

            Because the process is split up, failure can be more easily attributed to an issue with one specific sub-sale, which the man can then improve for his next attempt with someone else. As there is no ‘dating school’ and the process is thus trial and error for many men, this is highly valuable and can prevent a man from getting into a situation where he sees no progress and gives up. A negative response to a request for affirmative consent means that the flaw is somewhere in the entire preceding ‘pitch,’ which makes it hard to find and thus hard to fix.

            I think your last paragraph is unfair, in that there are a fair number of men who make a habit of going after women who are drunk enough to have impaired judgment (but not drunk enough to be unable to consent by a legal standard – the number of men who do that are fewer, but they still certainly exist).

            I don’t see how I was denying this. It was simply not a scenario that I focused on.

            In general, I see the mixing of alcohol and sex as a major issue (given that roughly half the self-reported victim of sexual assault have drunk alcohol, often with nasty effects on judgement, ability to communicate, memory, etc). Quite often, those who suggest that people take responsibility for their own safety by using alcohol responsibly are called victim blamers.

          • Aapje says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            How many people do you know who use contraceptives properly?

            A very high percentage, as the people I know are mainly well-educated and not conservatively religious.

            In western countries, contraceptive mis- & non-use is far, far more common in communities with certain subcultures. This suggests that by changing these subcultures, we can make these people act more like the groups that do use it fairly well.

            Systems need to be designed around people’s observed behavior, you can’t just say “well if you used it properly it would work…” and expect that to fly.

            Yes, that’s why I’m not confident to give my own system for things like dating, as there is a lack of scientific research to guide me. Nevertheless, it is clear that people can no longer be forced into the old model. So we have to move forward somehow.

            It’s ironic that modernists accuse traditional systems of being rigid and oppressive when the opposite is so often true. Much of the modern program revolves around making grand theoretical structures and then trying to beat people into shape to fit them. Traditional customs work because they were molded to the people using them over centuries or millennia of continuous operation.

            The classic ‘only sex in marriage’ model could only (more or less) work due to extreme social pressure and policing. Even then it frequently failed, resulted in nasty policing like shotgun marriages. Enforcing it was one of the major concerns of people back in the day, exactly because it isn’t a natural match to people’s behavior.

            Making new mores is the hard part. Scott covered this very well in his Hillary shilling piece: tearing down a structure is dirt simple but making a new one is extraordinarily difficult. It’s a process of experimentation over decades or centuries.

            Yes, and we have done some of the work already. People did change their habits the AIDS epidemic.

            Sex is not a new problem. It’s arguably the oldest problem in human society, the first one any hominid tribe had to deal with since before we had language or tools. Why should we go through all this effort reinventing the wheel when we could take advantage of that built-up reservoir of traditions?

            Because the old traditions were based on suppressing human nature because that was inconsistent with other changes that allowed us to build a larger developed society (rather than small tribes).

            Technology has allowed us to come up with better solutions and it would be luddite to smash the (metaphorical) weaving machines.

            People didn’t abandon the old mores because social engineers had a theory, they grasped new technology with both hands because they were yearning to be liberated.

          • “because I am aware that “into it” and “going along with it out of fear of getting murdered” can be hard to distinguish from the outside.”

            That struck me as a bizarre claim. How could normal courtship behavior, including interpreting “no” as “maybe or not yet” signal “I will murder you if you don’t let me?”

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            You are basically admitting to being either a natural or trained for one of the main skills that allow this dating tactic to work. I suspect that you are also good at reading interest.

            I’m just really amused by this – I’m actually pretty dreadful at reading interest – just not in the way most guys who are dreadful at reading interest are. Stereotypically, guys who are bad at picking up on stuff assume that every woman who is cordial with them is interested in them – I know a guy like this, and it was not pretty (he was completely fearless though – he would approach women who were dramatically out of his league). I’m the opposite – for all I know, there’s scores and scores of women who were sending out what to them were lighthouse-level signals, and I’m just thinking “gee this is an interesting conversation!” Maybe I’m a natural by the standards of guys who post on the internet and own many different kinds of dice.

            The request for affirmative consent forces the decision at that specific moment, which in sales is a very dangerous tactic that is often avoided, as it gives bad returns with many audiences. The moment of choice is a moment of commitment where the other person has to accept many risks, which, even if the person accepts due to valuing the benefits over the downsides, often causes negative feelings (fear, sense of loss of control, etc).
            A huge number of sales tactics involve delaying the actual buying decision unless the target has been worked over with many persuasive techniques (or making it seem as a choice that is already made by making the target think past the sale). If the sale can be divided into sub-sales, a good tactic can be to get the target to make many decisions that are individually low risk and low cost, but collectively add up to a full sale (cheap printers + expensive ink is an example).

            OK, if I’ve been doing this accidentally, I mean, that’s plausible …back when I was dating (not in school, online dating is really no fun, I’m not into hanging out in bars, and dating people from work/the gym leads to disasters that are hilarious for everyone else) my “method” such as it was was essentially the same thing I would do if trying to befriend someone (don’t talk too much, don’t talk too little, be witty, let the conversation flow, don’t be too needy) but in a compressed time frame. Then I ask them to make out.

            I’ve heard women claim that sex ‘just happened,’ which happens when the man manages to use this latter strategy very well (usually by making small calculated moves with the opportunity for the woman to easily stop). The huge advantage is that the success of each sub-sale increases the willingness for the next sub-sale, assuming that the man uses non-threatening and sensitive escalations.

            I’m always baffled when people say something like that. I mean, I get not being able to control one’s urges – but I would never say that getting drunk or eating a whole bag of chips “just happened”. You have to walk to the store, buy the booze/chips, drink it, etc. Similarly, there’s a whole lot of steps involved in having sex – it’s not like two people stumble into each other when the bus hits a pothole and BOOM penetration.

            I don’t see how I was denying this. It was simply not a scenario that I focused on.

            Perhaps I’m misreading you. I don’t know if you can separate the two scenarios.

            In general, I see the mixing of alcohol and sex as a major issue (given that roughly half the self-reported victim of sexual assault have drunk alcohol, often with nasty effects on judgement, ability to communicate, memory, etc). Quite often, those who suggest that people take responsibility for their own safety by using alcohol responsibly are called victim blamers.

            I think that the rate for perpetrators to be intoxicated is around 50% too, which is unsurprising for various reasons. I think that the drinking culture, especially among young people (especially in university) is really messed up, and not just for reasons relating to bad things happening sexually. Drinking caused a lot of problems for me and people I know, and yet we reacted to every attempt by school administrators to clamp down even a bit like it was an 80s college movie and we were rebelling against the mean ol’ Dean.
            I also think a lot of people who embrace the position you set yourself against here are coming from a place where they believe that all or most human differences are socialized – if there’s a small % of people who harm other people, it must be because they were taught to, or never taught not to. Whereas I think it’s far more likely that there’s a small % of people who can be fully aware they’re harming other people and do it anyway (or, they just like harming other people). There’s still value in teaching everybody else about other people’s boundaries, about consent, etc, but I think it needs to be accepted that there are going to be some people who cannot be taught not to hurt others. And so we need to plan accordingly.
            Tangentially related: I think there’s a problem with the notion “everything consensual is good”, which is that the obvious corollary is “anything bad must not have been consensual”. It’s possible to have bad sex, regrettable sex, sex that one or more of the people involved happened, without it having been something illegal. Likewise, there’s a lot of space for people to be assholes between “completely fine” and “illegal” – but a lot of people (on more than one side of the debate) want to erase that.
            @David Friedman:

            That struck me as a bizarre claim. How could normal courtship behavior, including interpreting “no” as “maybe or not yet” signal “I will murder you if you don’t let me?”

            I think you’re misunderstanding me. Scenario: person A and person B are getting hot and heavy. Person A wants sex, person B wants to stop short of sex. Person A is larger than person B, or more dangerous in some other way. Person A is not aware person B doesn’t want sex (either interpreting silence as consent, or interpreting “no” as “try harder”), or maybe just doesn’t care if person B is consenting or not. Person B starts to think “oh no if I don’t give in I might end up strangled in a dumpster” and just lets whatever happen. Maybe their belief that person A might do this if they refuse is mistaken. You could have a truly tragic situation where both misread the other to the point that one violates the other thinking that they are consenting. Or you could have a predator who uses the existence of such scenarios as a smokescreen. With regard to male-female scenarios, the average man is physically capable of overpowering the average woman quite easily. A lot of men aren’t as aware of this as most/all women are.

          • Aapje says:

            @David Friedman

            That struck me as a bizarre claim. How could normal courtship behavior, including interpreting “no” as “maybe or not yet” signal “I will murder you if you don’t let me?”

            That’s a rather logical consequence when some women come to really believe this combination of simplistic memes:
            1. There is a black/white separation in men that are respectful of women and horrible men that will rape and if you don’t let them, kill you
            2. Resistance will cause escalation

            An example is a case where a guy thought that a woman was into him and he began fondling her while she was sitting on his lap with her back to him (they were watching a video), at which point she panicked and froze up out of fear (due to the idea that resisting could cause escalation). She then assumed that her lack of reciprocation signaled her dislike clearly. He interpreted her lack of resistance as contentment and continued. This increased her fear, etc.

            It was a horrible spiral of mismatching communication causing the situation to go further out of control, rather than be resolved ASAP. My observation is that the ‘affirmative consent’ idea helps spread the idea among women that passivity is a 100% clear signal of sexual disinterest. However, many women are quite sexually passive even if they are interested. So from a male perspective, there is a big overlap between what some women consider a normal level of activity during sex and the ‘passive no.’ A woman whose ‘consent level’ of activity is 100, may consider 50 to be passive; while other women have a consent level of 25. How can a man tell which is which? So when women use this strategy it begs for misunderstandings where a man is perhaps worried that his sex technique is poor and starts working harder, as she isn’t responding well, while she considers herself being sexually assaulted and signalling ‘no’ clearly.

            @dndnrsn

            I also think a lot of people who embrace the position you set yourself against here are coming from a place where they believe that all or most human differences are socialized

            That is far from the worst issue. What is really nasty is that our culture places inconsistent expectations on people that inevitably result in transgressive behavior. And then we add insult to injury by arbitrarily placing the entire blame of this on one gender.

            For example, the expectation is that people drink in the same social situations where sexual ‘moves’ are allowed, as alcohol lowers inhibitions, which ‘we’ like. However, we don’t like it when people’s inhibitions are lowered too much. So we expect people to walk this tightrope that inevitably causes people to fall off. Proper dosing of alcohol is further discouraged by drinking games, social pressure to drink, etc; because people really want to lower those inhibitions in each other (not just men pushing drinks on women, most of this social pressure to drink happens by the same gender) and thus often prefer (for others) to err on the ‘drank too much’ side.

            So then we have men and women whose inhibitions are lowered, whose ability to communicate is severely compromised, who observe reality much worse than when sober; and then when the inevitable happens, we call it the worst crime that can happen to a person….if the person whom this happens to is the woman. If it’s the man, then he ought to feel lucky, as apparently, the male and female psyche are 100% different (and people who object to this are blamed for being against gender equality, while researchers like Mary Koss who explicitly denied that a man who experiences unwanted sexual contact can be hurt as much as women, are champions of the ‘anti-rape’ movement).

            Whereas I think it’s far more likely that there’s a small % of people who can be fully aware they’re harming other people and do it anyway (or, they just like harming other people).

            While those people do of course exist, I am personally more focused on the many cases where the people involved are not intentionally harming others.

            In some ways, it is a lot more tragic when bad things happen that none of the involved truly wanted. Addressing it also seems easier, because those people want to do well and thus are more likely to cooperate with improvements, while the truly bad people will work against measures.

            Tangentially related: I think there’s a problem with the notion “everything consensual is good”, which is that the obvious corollary is “anything bad must not have been consensual”. It’s possible to have bad sex, regrettable sex, sex that one or more of the people involved happened, without it having been something illegal.

            And there is a grey zone where it’s just very hard to judge whether it was consensual.

            In general I wish that there would be much less hysteria. For example, right now, women are pressured into feeling psychologically damaged after certain experiences, regardless of whether they actually feel that way (while the opposite happens to men, which is just as unfair). People are damaged by this, as they are pushed into PTSS, rather than towards a healthy way to deal with adversity.

    • arbitrary_greay says:

      Won’t most kink communities have a heavy bias towards explicit affirmative consent? The stakes are higher in such interactions, so the checks are more mandatory.
      The effect seems to be similar to how some queer and/or poly communities have a better handle on some common relationship failure modes, simply in that there’s more communication and processing going on in general.

      • Skivverus says:

        On the one hand, yes; on the other hand, that’s what safewords are for. So, it varies.

        • Gazeboist says:

          Well, yeah, but if you’re establishing a safeword, you almost certainly have affirmative consent under any reasonable* definition.

          * There are popular unreasonable definitions of affirmative consent, because We Can’t Have Nice Things.

          • arbitrary_greay says:

            The safeword, in some interpretations, makes the affirmative consent even more explicit than in a vanilla situation, because it means that other “ambiguous” utterances that might be under hormonal influence don’t count. You can have a sub playing at resistance in a rape fantasy scene, or have a physiological response to inflicted pain, but all of that can be part of the pleasure for them, and are not construed to be the revoking of consent.

            Hence why most scenes start with confirmation of what the safeword is. Answering that question is giving affirmative consent for the scene to continue, in a way that cannot be misconstrued by language’s normal ambiguity.
            And there are plenty of people who keep checking in with each other during scenes, a spectrum of safewords (like “green, yellow, red”), as an example of just how much affirmative consent is reiterated in some kink settings. Yellow might mean they don’t want to stop the scene, but just need a breather or some validation, a nuance of affirmation you don’t get from binary yes/no consent systems.

            And I wish that kind of thing was more acceptable to be open about in just regular dating interactions! There’s like a pressure to not give any negative feedback to the other person, just pure rejection at the end of things, instead of the option of complex feedback like “Eh, this part was good, wouldn’t mind continuing without that other part.”

          • Anon For Obivous Reasons says:

            The trouble you’re seeing in the kink world right now is that safewords aren’t enforceable. I’m seeing more and more situations crop up where she says “I said stop and he didn’t!” and he says “That’s true, We had a safeword and she didn’t use it.”.

            At the end of the day imagine telling the judge judge “We agreed on a safeword, there was no way to know that ‘No, stop!’ actually meant ‘No, stop!’ this time”

            Even explicit verbal consent and an established safeword isn’t safe.

          • J Mann says:

            @Anon for Obvious Reasons:

            It seems like you could document that – create a written document or an audio or video recording where the participants identify the scope of consent and the terms for revocation, kind of like a living will.

          • arbitrary_greay says:

            @Anon For Obivous Reasons:
            In that situation, um, I’m siding with the person saying “they didn’t use the safeword?” The whole point of safewords is so kinksters can use language ambiguously (like swearing to relieve pain, token resistance as pointed out above) but their partners can still be secure that things are still in affirmative consent land. Someone with a safeword should know damn well that “no, stop!” doesn’t carry the same weight within a scene, THAT’S WHY THEY ESTABLISHED SAFEWORDS instead of “no, stop! is your safeword.”

            That’s not a problem with the system, that’s people not doing the system right. (Now, there’s still risk that one or the other partner doesn’t know their own mind well enough to deploy the safe word, and thus gets hurt, but that’s an issue that can’t be fixed whether or not any consent system is in place. Besides consent systems are more about the potentially accused being able to cover their ass, than it is to protect the potentially abused. It’s about decreasing the amount of uncertainty in any given situation, and I hate social interaction systems that heavily rely on nebulous cues, sexual or not.)

            @J Mann: 50 Shades misrepresentation aside, lifestyle or 24/7 kink have involved contracts like that.

          • gbdub says:

            I don’t know, the most common versions of “affirmative consent” would seem to completely exclude “everything until a safeword is fine”. Isn’t the whole point of affirmative consent supposed to be “only yes means yes – lack of no doesn’t mean yes”?

            Not that I agree with that – being allowed to say “You don’t need to stop unless I tell you to” seems perfectly compatible with the version of consent most people are comfortable with, sexually and otherwise.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @arbitrary_greay – “Now, there’s still risk that one or the other partner doesn’t know their own mind well enough to deploy the safe word, and thus gets hurt, but that’s an issue that can’t be fixed whether or not any consent system is in place.”

            The modern world is not willing to accept that some things can’t be fixed, that some harms are irreducible.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I don’t know, the most common versions of “affirmative consent” would seem to completely exclude “everything until a safeword is fine”. Isn’t the whole point of affirmative consent supposed to be “only yes means yes – lack of no doesn’t mean yes”?

            Hence my footnote. I would require a reasonable definition of affirmative consent to totally allow someone to (explicitly) consent to “everything until is fine” (and such systems exist, or are at least feasible). But many versions where a person can’t consent to future acts, even conditionally and with means of revocation, are extremely popular. And thus, the absence of Nice Things.

  16. brad says:

    When I was coming to political consciousness in the 90s there was a big resistance on the right to a national ID card. Is that still around?

    I think left leaning types would be far less likely to push back against voter ID laws if there was an ID that virtually everyone had. Also I’d think those concerned about illegal immigration would be happy if the I-9 for employment required an ID that had at least as much security as typical library card. Not that any of us are in a position to be making grand bargains, but I’m just wondering if it’s a non-starter politically.

    The passport card is pretty useless unless you live near the Canadian or Mexican border, but with a few tweaks could easily serve that purpose. Unlike some states, the US State Department has alternative methods of proving identity and citizenship for those without the requisite documents (e.g. a birth certificate). In terms of convenience there are a ton of passport acceptance facilities all over the country, including almost every post office. The two things that you’d probably want to do if it were to become a national ID is: put in some kind of fee waiver program for the very poor (current cost: $55) and have some sort of process available for homebound people, perhaps involving their postal worker.

    • Lumifer says:

      Think so, especially in the context of worries about total surveillance and assembling databases on everyone. The resistance is mostly symbolic, though, effectively anyone who matters can and does produce ID on demand and people who don’t have an ID-equivalent handy don’t matter.

      I am also not sure what an ID card will help with — I doubt it will make the Democrats fine with voter-ID laws or make the Republicans unconcerned about the illegals.

    • Gazeboist says:

      I’d certainly be happy with a single federal ID, though I’d be happier still if we combined that system with trademark law to allow people to claim and accumulate verifiable pseudonyms.

      • Lumifer says:

        to claim and accumulate verifiable pseudonyms

        On a first-come-first-served basis this is how a lot of things work right now — it’s just that “pseudonym” is defined as an “email address”.

        • Gazeboist says:

          Yeah, but I can’t say, “Hey, government, this is my pseudonym, can I have some kind of photo ID saying it’s mine?” Or at least, I can’t do that without giving up my regular name. I’d like the name I give someone to be verifiably mine (as verifiable as “let me see your drivers’ license”) without the requirement that it be my only name.

          Mostly I want this because I’m a hobbyist game designer and fiction writer who also aspires to be a professional scientist. I’m worried (perhaps needlessly) that my game design and/or writing would get me branded as “unserious”, but I might want to make some money off it at some point. If I ever publish, I’d like to be able to protect my copyright claims and maybe do some promotion without automatically giving up my pseudonymity to anyone (like a potential employer) who bothers to look me up.

          I’m actually curious about David Friedman’s experience in this regard, but I don’t know when he got big in his hobby world vs when he established himself as an academic.

          • Lumifer says:

            But what is the problem that you want to solve? Having a nom de plume is a venerable tradition and you own the copyright regardless of the name under which you published. If you’ll need business things like a bank account and such, why, just create a company and it will shield your True Name.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Basically, if I attend a convention or some such, I’d like to be able to switch to living entirely under the nom for the duration: I want to be able to provide real identification (mostly in the sense of “this is the guy”, but probably also in the “this person is of age X and has legit licenses Y” sense), sign my “fake” name, and so on and so forth, without exposing my professional name to anyone who doesn’t already know it.

            I want my identity as a writer to be fully separate from my identity as a scientist while maintaining ownership of both.

            Compare Scott’s old issues with that doxxer, or various people fired for things done online and/or away from their private lives.

          • brad says:

            I understand why you want it, but I don’t think it is such a great idea from society’s perspective, especially with really low friction.

            Think about something like a credit report — would each fresh pseudonym get its own credit?

          • Gazeboist says:

            The goal would be to create a greater presumption of privacy, not necessarily an absolute wall. I’d require disclosure of all identities that possess functionally the same finances before extending credit, or at least make alternate identities discoverable during bankruptcy proceedings (and probably other court proceedings* too, though bankruptcy is the relevant one here). I do agree that there would be some issues, and some norms might need to change, but on balance I think it would be a good thing.

            * Note that discovery is typically private by default, unless it becomes evidence in the case.

          • “I’m actually curious about David Friedman’s experience in this regard, but I don’t know when he got big in his hobby world vs when he established himself as an academic.”

            If my hobby world means SCA, I was a big fish in a small pond before I became an assistant professor at VPI or published my first journal article in economics. If my hobby world means libertarianism, I also published The Machinery of Freedom before … . On the other hand, both of my novels, which could raise similar issues, were published long after I was established as an academic.

            When I set up my web page, one of the things I thought about was your issue–whether a potential academic employer looking at it and discovering that I had put a lot of time and energy into researching medieval cooking might conclude that I was not a serious academic. I decided that trying to separate my worlds was both difficult and probably not worth doing, that an employer who had that attitude was probably not the best one to work for.

            My present colleagues know I have written novels–I think at least the first is on display somewhere in the building–and about my medieval hobby. It doesn’t seem to bother them. And they certainly know I am a libertarian.

            Back when I was a post-doc at the Fels institute at Penn transitioning from physics to economics, it occurred to me that perhaps I was putting too much of my time and effort into the SCA. But I discovered that at least some, perhaps most, of my colleagues also had some other activity which was important to them, although what it was varied.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ Brad

      Disclaimer – My information here is a few years old; surely there have been at least some small improvements since then.

      When I looked into this, the point of Dems objecting to a photo id was that a significant portion of Dem voters did not have one, and would have difficulty in getting one. Most states required the photo be taken at a DMV office. Getting there, waiting in a crowd, dealing with clerks who don’t speak your language; also physical disability or small children — this plus having to prove to the DMV that you are a citizen, using serious id materials such as a birth certificate (certified, which takes paying a fee, waiting while they mail it; etc etc). If you’re doing okay with your existing ids for everything else you need, then going through that hassle isn’t rational — better to just stay home and not vote.

      These people need help with the problems I’ve mentioned. Help for them is an important issue for liberal candidates. Thus preventing a portion of a candidate’s supporters from voting can sway an election unfairly.

      • JayT says:

        IS it really true that a significant portion of voters don’t have ID? According to the Federal Highway Administration 87% of Americans 16 and over have a drivers licence. Add it all the people with just an ID card or passport and the 16-18 year olds without drivers licences and I would imagine the number of people without some form of ID is extremely small. On top of that, a lot of the sates that have fewer drivers are Republican strongholds, so it would seem to me that a good number of the people hurt by possible voter ID laws would be Republican.

        https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/hf/pl11028/chapter4.cfm

        • pku says:

          But most of the people who don’t are minorities, who tend to vote democrat.

          • JayT says:

            I haven’t done any research beyond that link above, but is that actually true? Minnesota and Utah are numbers 48 and 49 in terms of fewest drivers licences per 1,000 people. Those two states aren’t exactly known for their diversity.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @JayT, might that rate be confounded by proportion of residents who’re under age 16? The FHWA in your link does mention this in its first sentence, but all the rest of its stats are in terms of just “residents.”

          • JayT says:

            I could see that making a difference for Utah, but Minnesota isn’t a particularly young state. It’s pretty much middle of the pack. Also, when I compare the number of children in a state to the drivers licences per 1,000 residents tables I’m not seeing a whole lot of correlation. In general, older states seem to have more drivers, but then there’s Indiana, which has the most drivers licences of any state and is a fairly young state at the same time.

            I’d have to do a lot more research to make any hard claims though, but from the 15 minutes I’ve done, I’m not seeing a big reason to think there is a significant number of people out there that want to vote, but don’t have ID.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ JayT
            I’d have to do a lot more research to make any hard claims though, but from the 15 minutes I’ve done, I’m not seeing a big reason to think there is a significant number of people out there that want to vote, but don’t have ID.

            Currently,* you can vote in most states using your driver’s license, miliary id, or others that most people already have. We’re talking about proposed new voting laws that would not accept those common id’s, but would require an additional new card, which will be harder to get than our current cards. People would have to go to the DMV with a birth certificate, original and certified, and other documents.

            * Well, as of a few years ago.

          • JayT says:

            @houseboatonstyxb, I don’t know about other states, but in California you don’t need to show ID to vote. You go to a polling place, tell them your name, and they give you a ballot. I remember in 2000 I went to vote, told them my name, and they scratched off my brother’s name on their list. My brother than had already voted in another city, since he had moved. I considered going back later in the day to vote under my own name to live up to my Chicago upbringing, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

            I just checked, and, as of 2014, there are only 10 states that require ID to vote.
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/10/27/does-my-state-require-identification-to-vote/

          • Anonymous says:

            We’re talking about proposed new voting laws that would not accept those common id’s, but would require an additional new card, which will be harder to get than our current cards.

            I don’t think I have seen such a law proposed, or at least not introduced into any state legislature – can you link to any examples?

            The Voter ID laws I have seen proposed seriously, are all of the form that a voter would have to actually bring their driver’s license or equivalent to the polling place, which as JayT has pointed out is not required in most states.

            This is argued to be an intolerable burden for some otherwise-qualified voters. Could be so, but I’m not sure I trust any of the people alleging it any more than I trust the people alleging that voter fraud is a big problem.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ JayT
            I just checked, and, as of 2014, there are only 10 states that require ID to vote.

            I’m glad to hear that, thank you. There does seem to be an attempt to promote it though; perhaps I saw quotes from that literature.

            I have no quarrel with some kinds of id being required if the standard is very liberal: any kind of id (photo or not), or even mail addressed to you. Or being vouched for by a poll volunteer who knows you personally, or by other known voters present.

          • Or being vouched for by a poll volunteer who knows you personally, or by other known voters present.

            Minnesota has this rule that allows people to be vouched for. Minnesota also has some strongly “pro-voting” organizations that brings volunteers to the polls to vouch for anyone who wants to vote. Vouching invites fraud in my opinion.

          • hey nonny nonny says:

            I have no quarrel with some kinds of id being required if the standard is very liberal: any kind of id (photo or not), or even mail addressed to you.

            Why are you insisting that easily counterfeited means of id, such as means that are not permitted for use in any other sort of official government function, be permitted?

            I am seriously wondering here, and not trying to start a fight. I don’t understand why use of easily faked documents are acceptable – please help me understand why you think using them is essential to any voter identification program.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Anonymous
            The Voter ID laws I have seen proposed seriously, are all of the form that a voter would have to actually bring their driver’s license or equivalent to the polling place [….] This is argued to be an intolerable burden for some otherwise-qualified voters.

            If a driver’s licence or equivalent satisfies the requirement, then the problem of people who don’t have even that is diminishing as time goes on. But there are, or were, otherwise qualified voters for whom going to the DMV to get that, and supplying an original certified birth certificate etc, was enough burden to keep them from voting.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Mark V Anderson

            Perhaps in Norman Rockwell’s America, here’s how vouching works. The poll volunteers are all little old ladies who do it every year, have lived in the precinct forever, and know almost everyone else who lives there. If someone comes in they don’t know, and without id, they say “Does anyone here know this person?” If the voucher is also a little old lady they know from Thursday bridge club, they take her word for the new guy and let him vote. If not, they still let him vote but put his ballot in the Provisional Box.

            So here a clique can produce false negatives Provisionals, but not false positives. Unless one of the poll volunteers herself is a Voter Fraudster, in which case she should just steal a whole ballot box or something.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ hey nonny nonny
            I don’t understand why use of easily faked documents are acceptable

            Utility bills or letters received at one’s address are something that most people have, even those who don’t have DMV-class id, and imo the most important thing is to avoid hindering legitimate voters. Of the people coming in with only letters or bills, the great majority — probably all those people — will be legitimate.

          • suntzuanime says:

            i… is there any, uh, safeguard against a Voter Fraudster just stealing a whole ballot box or something? I had assumed there was and people couldn’t just do that, which is why they might turn to different methods of fraud, but if the ballot boxes are just left lying around with a post it note saying “American Election DO NOT STEAL”, yes I can imagine we have worse concerns than voter ID.

          • John Schilling says:

            Utility bills or letters received at one’s address are something that most people have,

            And utility bills that weren’t actually received at one’s address or even under one’s name, are something that anyone with a decent laser printer can have. Something that any overzealous party hack running a local get-out-the-vote campaign can print by the thousand.

            I do not believe that organized voting fraud occurs on a scale that can plausibly swing elections today. But the issue still needs to be addressed, and if we’re addressing it in this fashion we do need to ask for something less trivially forgeable than a utility bill.

      • brad says:

        The proposed benefit from the Democratic or liberal side of the ledger is the universality of the new ID.

        Not having a photo ID isn’t just a problem when it comes to voting. It can be an inconvenience in other areas of life such as opening a bank account or traveling on a plane. It can even cause one to get arrested in a situation where if you had an ID you’d just be issued a summons.

        A mechanism in place that makes it as easy as possible for everyone to get an ID — such as many more facilities where they can be applied for, bypass mechanisms for people without sometimes difficult to obtain documents, a fee waiver, a method whereby the home-bound can obtain one, and so on — will be of benefit to everyone that currently can’t obtain one.

        It seems a fair trade-off to putting in place a relatively pain free way of getting everyone a government issued photo ID to then acquiesce to Republican demands that the ID be produced before voting. A bargain requires something that both sides want.

        • Gazeboist says:

          Not having a photo ID isn’t just a problem when it comes to voting. It can be an inconvenience in other areas of life such as opening a bank account or traveling on a plane. It can even cause one to get arrested in a situation where if you had an ID you’d just be issued a summons.

          Or buying a fricken beer.

          • Nope says:

            A surprising number of people go through long stretches of their lives without buying alcohol (or cigarettes, or plane tickets, or whatever you can’t imagine going without). The “I use my ID every day, WTF?” argument is bushwa.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I do too, but sometimes I feel like having a drink.* It’s just annoying to be declined, especially because it’s pretty much random (in terms of the establishment) whether they’ll card you, how hard they’ll look at what you produce, and what they’ll decline for. I’ve been declined for an expired ID (legit, but it only happened once) and because my ID, which clearly identified my DoB, was vertical, rather than horizontal (wtf?). I’ve seen a guy have to argue with a waitress because his legit ID wasn’t a driver’s license. A friend with a fake Ohio license got carded after discussing life (and craft beer) in upstate New York with the cashier and came under no additional scrutiny.

            * In fact, if I drank more it’d be less of an issue, because I’d have more of a motivation to go through the renewal process.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Gazeboist,

            Wow you’re making me feel old now.

            Didn’t they only introduce the vertical learner’s permits recently? I didn’t realize that you guys could drink already.

          • Gazeboist says:

            My apologies. If it’s any consolation, I often feel old as well in other contexts.

            (Although: I got my license relatively late in a state with one of the higher minimum ages. Someone who was 16 when I got my license is still a fair distance from the legal drinking age)

          • bean says:

            Didn’t they only introduce the vertical learner’s permits recently? I didn’t realize that you guys could drink already.

            I got a vertical license 6 years ago. It lasted 5 years, so anyone older than 16 would be eligible to drink for a while while holding one. (This was the case for me, but I don’t drink.)

          • BBA says:

            I had a vertical permit about 12 years ago. Due to repeatedly failing my driving test I managed to straddle the switch from profile pictures to vertical format for under-21s.

            (My mother also repeatedly failed her driving test, and like her I only passed after moving to a new state with an easier test.)

          • pku says:

            @Gazeboist: One way to use the randomness in your favour is to find a way to get checked by someone else (even a different bartender in the same bar often won’t card you). I’ve had that problem with places that don’t take foreign driver’s licenses, the next bartender/bouncer/clerk down the line almost always will.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Unfortunately the trend is for Republican legislatures to tailor their legislation to specifically suppress young and minority voters (such as allowing concealed carry permits which do not even have a photo, but disallowing student IDs or recently expired driver’s licenses which might be more commonly held by Democrats).

          Good faith bi-partisan efforts at combating electoral fraud come up from time to time (see the Commission on Federal Electoral Reform, sometimes called the Carter-Baker commission). The recent wave of red-state Voter ID laws have largely not been in good faith, and the courts have had to intervene.

          In-person voter fraud is considered to be extremely rare anyway. It is believed that ‘residence fraud’ (voting in a state in which you are not actually a resident) is far more common. The reason for false registration is usually to assist in income tax evasion, not to influence elections however. Also absentee ballot fraud is suspected to be more common as well, as it scales better and carries less risk of detection (and in many cases may even be socially acceptable, such as one marriage partner voting for both). And most localities only make a cursory effort to screen out recently deceased voters.

          • The Nybbler says:

            In-person voter fraud is considered to be extremely rare anyway.

            This is a Democratic item of faith. The Republican item of faith is that there are buses picking up homeless people and driving them from polling place to polling place with lists of names to present and people to vote for.

          • dragnubbit says:

            To me it is not an item of faith. It is subject to study as much as any other voting behavior, and so far the evidence only supports one of those conclusions (not denying that occasional fraud occurs, but that if it were truly common there would be more signs of it, and an occasional prosecution would uncover a big ring if it were organized).

          • Lumifer says:

            So a Pew Trusts report says that in 2012:

            Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters. Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @lumifer

            And that is where I think an honest approach to combat fraud would begin – with the data. There is, at least by reports, very poor integration of voter lists between states (many states only recently achieved state-wide integration), so that when you move and register in another state there is often no easy way to unregister from your old one and of course no incentive to do so. Someone living in a river town might move across the border yet retain the ability to vote in both states. I suspect simple stories like this, which might occur by happenstance just in the course of ordinary living, could be very common.

            I read a breathless report the other day about an exhaustive study of a state’s voter records revealing 1000 undocumented voters who had been expunged from the rolls. The highly agitated report made a lot of scary pronouncements until you looked a little closer and realized only about 30 of those ‘illegals’ (only 3%) had ever even tried to vote (and this was over a ten-year period in a pool of several million votes). The real story there is something besides voter fraud. Maybe they registered to get a document they could use to pose as legal, maybe they were signed up by a well-meaning volunteer and did not want to tell said volunteer they were not citizens, maybe they signed up by mistake by checking a motor-voter box and later realized they shouldn’t vote. But 97% of them never attempted to vote, and those that did were a tiny drop in the ocean of valid voters.

            Nearly the last thing most illegals (and other would-be in-person impersonators) might want to do is show up at a polling place and risk getting charged with a felony over a single extra vote. The incentive is just not there as long as even modest efforts are made to detect and prevent it.

            My takeaway is there are a lot of ways to improve the voter registration process to make it easier and to make the voter rolls more accurate. But all such reforms should be done in a way that does not make it appreciably harder to vote – just couple them with other changes to make voting much easier.

          • Anonymous says:

            And most localities only make a cursory effort to screen out recently deceased voters.

            Doesn’t this undercut your point? Why did you start this sentence with “And” rather than “But”?

            This means that impersonation should be easy. Indeed, in 1983, 10% of Chicago votes were deceased or duplicate. Maybe you meant to imply that these frauds were absentee ballots? Actually, I’d guess that they were fabricated after the polls close. Either way, not very relevant to ID.

          • dragnubbit says:

            And most localities only make a cursory effort to screen out recently deceased voters.

            I was thinking it was more likely to be a vector of absentee fraud than in-person fraud. Impersonating someone you do not know is hard. But relatives impersonate or fail to report dead people occasionally to continue receiving their benefit checks. If you are already doing that, why not send in that absentee ballot? It was his dying wish to defeat (candidate X) after all. And I wonder if there were an audit how many absentee voters turn out to have dementia or had their ballot filled in by someone on their behalf without asking them. Not a lot I hope but plausibly non-zero (if you google it you will find numerous cases of people asking on the internet if it would be ok). Voting is one of the few things a power of attorney is not allowed to do, but I can see many people viewing it as honoring the wishes of the one no longer able to vote.

            On a smaller and less sinister scale, by my back-of-the-envelope estimate about 4000 people who are early voters (absentee or early polling) will die within a week of the election (e.g. potentially after they have mailed their absentee ballots or voted in person). Under the laws of most states those votes should not be counted, but most will be as a practical matter.

            And nearly a million people will change their state of residence within 30 days of the election (about a half-million of whom are likely voters), and thus may fail to establish residency in their new state in time to register and vote legally (or consider that to be real important in the middle of a move). While many of them are still allowed to vote in their old state, in some departing states that is not allowed (such as New York). In some cases you are legally allowed to vote in either state but not both (scout’s honor!).

            That is all to say that in-person vote fraud is risky and very time-consuming, and lots of other types of vote fraud are decidedly less risky and may even seem to be socially acceptable (voting in your old state even after you moved, pretending to live in state X to avoid income taxes and so voting in that state, voting on behalf of someone who has dementia or recently died, having the leader of the family fill out the ballots for all the adults in the household, etc.).

            Voter ID does little to address those types of fraud, which I believe all can and do occur regularly because they are the sorts of things regular people might do and not even consider themselves as having committed voter fraud.

          • cassander says:

            @dragnubbit

            >That is all to say that in-person vote fraud is risky and very time-consuming

            You need to think from the perspective of the people organizing the fraud, not participating in it. People don’t commit voting fraud for sheer love of democracy.

          • dragnubbit says:

            It is just a cost-benefit equation. The risks of in-person impersonation are now much higher, the controls are better (most precincts are now manned by both political parties) and the payoffs far less. The only remaining motivations for most in-person fraud are individual ones or stupid flunkies. You would need to generate tens of thousands of false votes to have any real prospect of influencing a close swing state. Try and get caught failing and the blowback nowadays would be historic, even in a cesspool like Chicago.

            Gerrymandering, direct mail, disinformation campaigns, oppo research, media manipulation, push polls, misleading advertising, micro-targeting, fake PACs, real PACs, fake or misleading election information (voting cancelled flyers), undermanned polling stations. When the elections get stolen nowadays, they do it in plain sight by convincing 10’s of millions of voters their opponent is a Muslim terrorist or making the wrong neighborhoods wait in line 3 hours to vote or changing state law so that the Republican candidate is listed first on every ballot for every office (hat-tip to NC). Far more effective and efficient than plunking a few extra votes in the tally. Heck, even the overblown fears about voter fraud are just a meta version of this. And most Republicans either are falling for it or playing along.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @Anonymous

            Indeed, in 1983, 10% of Chicago votes were deceased or duplicate.

            And do you think that is still the norm in Chicago? I was under the impression that scandal led to numerous reforms intended to stamp out such practices. The article below describes 2004 corruption as unusually high absentee voters in a single Ward and fake registrations (from people taking shortcuts to get out of work). The modern corruption sounds like the old spreading dollar bills around the slums trick. Imaginable for a city election but hard to scale in a statewide or national race. Not all cities (or really any city) is like Chicago in this respect.

            http://www.salon.com/2016/02/14/election_fraud_chicago_style_illinois_decades_old_notoriety_for_election_corruption_is_legendary/

          • At a slight tangent, one advantage of the electoral vote system over simple majority is that it reduces the problem of vote fraud.

            Vote fraud is easiest in a state dominated by one party. But in the electoral vote system there is no point to vote fraud in such a state, since the candidate of the locally dominant party gets the same number of electoral votes whether he carries the state 60/40 or 70/30.

          • Anonymous says:

            Has Chicago changed since 1982? Well, how many dead or duplicate votes were there in subsequent elections? If the Tribune could determine the number in that election, why not in later elections? And yet, I have not seen the number for later elections. Maybe it isn’t circulated because it is boring, but maybe it isn’t circulated because it isn’t measured. And if not, why would they change?

            Added: I was confused. It was not the Tribute that analyzed public records. It was a federal prosecutor and I don’t know how public the records were. Moreover, he didn’t find that 10% of votes were duplicate or dead. According to this 3% were duplicate and 0.3% dead. Those are the easy ones that ought to be possible to be found from public records, but no one makes similar studies. The other 7% votes were alleged to be tainted in other means, such as in counting.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @David Friedman

            There are states which are less lopsided which contain cities which are one-party dominant. It is in such places (Chicago, Philadelphia) where voter fraud is usually alleged, and it could be enough to push the state one way or another. The typical claims seem to be that the Democrats are adding ineligible Democratic votes whereas the Republicans are preventing eligible Democrats from voting.

          • TheWorst says:

            Has there ever been any evidence that in-person voter impersonation–i.e., the only kind a voter-ID requirement would do anything about–is an actual thing?

            I haven’t paid much attention to the question in the years since the GWB administration spent a few hundred million on it and despite their best efforts came back with a conclusive “no.” Has anything changed on that front?

            When the problem is imaginary, and the proposed solution would have no effect on the much-talked-about imaginary problem even if it was real but would achieve the speaker’s more unpopular objectives, I think it’s reasonable to start questioning the motives of the people proposing the “solution.” If I tell you that the sky is falling and the only way to stop it is to give me all of your money, you should probably be a little skeptical. Especially after the first few decades.

          • Corey says:

            @Nybbler: It’s supported by data, I’ve posted on this in detail in past OTs.

            The list of who (people said they were when they) voted is public record. Any impersonation leaves a paper trail, in the form of an entry on that list of a person who did not actually vote in that election. (Or who doesn’t exist, is dead, etc.)

            Anyone can go scrutinize this list, contact people on it, and go find such entries, to put an upper bound on how much impersonation is happening. Motivated people have done so (including losing candidates, and Republicans desperate to show rampant impersonation) and have come up approximately empty-handed.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @Nybbler, Corey

            One well publicized anecdote that comes to mind is the hyperventilation that occurred when it was reported some inner city precincts had not recorded a single vote for Romney.

            Subsequent efforts to find a Republican voter in those precincts who could single-handedly put a disenfranchised face to this emerging story and give it legs were failures, and some statisticians even weighed in to show it was plausible. But claims about 0 votes in some precincts as self-evident fraud continue to circulate.

            Of course that is not about Voter ID, but it is about the level of motivated discourse regarding voter fraud claims.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ dragnubbit
            Voter ID does little to address those types of fraud, which I believe all can and do occur regularly because they are the sorts of things regular people might do and not even consider themselves as having committed voter fraud.

            Wouldn’t the things you list be as common on one side as on the other — thus not affecting the outcome of even a very small local election?

          • dragnubbit says:

            I would guess most of those types of ‘fraud’ benefit Republicans as most of them would be more common in older and wealthier voters. But that should not be the point if your object is to combat voter fraud. Organized fraud on a large scale is obviously a more important problem if it were actually happening.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ dragnubbit
            But that should not be the point if your object is to combat voter fraud.

            I agree with what I think you mean. I’d put it that organized, effective actions are the central meaning of ‘voter fraud’, and the odd little family favors to Grandpa are non-central, likely to balance out between both candidates, and don’t really deserve the word ‘fraud’.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Corey
            Any impersonation leaves a paper trail, in the form of an entry on that list of a person who did not actually vote in that election. (Or who doesn’t exist, is dead, etc.)

            Good. Adding a security camera to record a picture of every person voting, would show up an imposter who didn’t match the demographic of the registered voter, and help in tracking him down and prosecuting him. As would a thumb-print scan.

            Security measures like these would provide data, could interrupt an imposter in the act (or at least send his vote straight into the Provisional box), help conviction, and deter others from trying. — Without adding paperwork hoops for innocent voters, or preventing them from voting.

    • pku says:

      left leaning types generally object to voter ID laws because of consequentialist reasoning – while voter fraud is certainly possible it doesn’t seem to actually happen, and the people who don’t vote for lack of IDs are mostly in democrat-leaning demographics (mainly black people), which seems self-serving but fair. I don’t see the second issue being solved by having a national ID – if someone isn’t getting a passport to vote they probably aren’t getting an alternate id.

      • Iain says:

        Debates about voting restrictions tend to be self-serving on both sides, but significantly more unscrupulous on the Republican side. As pku says, there isn’t much (if any) evidence for real-world voter fraud. On the flip side, you have cases like North Carolina, where within weeks of Shelby County vs Holder, the Republican-controlled legislature “requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices”, then placed heavy restrictions on the ones that black people used (like same-day registration during early voting).

        In other words: I would cynically expect a significant inverse correlation between how easy it is to get photo ID and how much Republicans push for it being required to vote.

        • Nope says:

          Well, yes, I agree – but my inner devil’s advocate would say that there’s a perfectly innocent nonpartisan explanation why Republicans being in charge correlates inversely with ease of getting stuff from the government.

          • Iain says:

            I’m struggling to find a reasonable definition of “getting stuff from the government” that encompasses same-day registration during early voting.

          • Nicholas says:

            He’s saying the government will not, in a general sense, provide a large amount of service, on account of the government doing less being the Republicans whole bit.

          • Corey says:

            @Iain: In Best Carolina (I run a polling place there so I’m very familiar with election procedures) early voting is, legally and procedurally, absentee voting. Absentee ballots (including early voting ballots, I personally see this as I vote early for busy elections, I don’t have time to vote on Election Day in Presidential years) are marked with an identification number, so they are trackable and can be “un-counted” in the event of problems.

            So same-day registration for early voting is just fine, security-wise. If the registration is invalid, the ballot is un-counted.

          • Iain says:

            @Corey: Sorry, I wrote that on the way out the door and might have been unclear. I agree with you (and disagree with the Republicans of North Carolina): same-day registration for early voting is a good thing. My intended point was in response to Nope: making it possible for people to vote is a fundamental requirement of democracy, and describing that as “getting stuff from the government” is dumb.

          • Corey says:

            @Iain: sorry, I didn’t read very thoroughly. I’ve had people in the past object to same-day registration as a security hole, which is the imaginary post I was responding to.

        • Tyler says:

          Regarding government self-investigations into voter fraud, I think it’s prudent to be have a healthy suspicion of evidence saying there is none (or almost none). What incentive does the government have to find fraud? Our government functions (at least on some idealistic level) on a level of faith from the electorate, and there’s no incentive to erode that. So, a certain discount on the faith of the veracity of these investigations is in order.

          • Nope says:

            Sure, but there is at least one substantiated reason to discount the so-far-pretty-much-unsubstantiated fears of voter impersonation, no?

          • Corey says:

            Anyone can do this investigation, I have a post upthread that explains how. Go download a county’s voting data, find out how many people are on the list who didn’t actually vote (in the election of your choice), and report back.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Iain
          In other words: I would cynically expect a significant inverse correlation between how easy it is to get photo ID and how much Republicans push for it being required to vote.

          Cynically, yep. As technology makes it easier to be photographed for a driver’s license or such, the standard for voting will be raised. Not enough holograms!

        • cassander says:

          >As pku says, there isn’t much (if any) evidence for real-world voter fraud.

          Why would you expect there to be? The people who are in charge are, by definition, benefiting from any fraud that exists. They aren’t going to put effort into investigating themselves.

          • Noth'el says:

            I always found the claim there is no voter fraud to be weird. It’s not like we have evidence of systematic voter fraud from the last 240 years or anything. I mean it is certainly not the case that entire eras are named after the people doing that fraud in basically every jurisdiction. And it certainly isn’t the case that breaking those fraud rings periodically involved shoot affairs.

            These elections, this time, are totally legit. I pinky swear.

          • cassander says:

            >I always found the claim there is no voter fraud to be weird.

            It’s a good talking point. It’s less than a sentence, not demonstrably false, and takes at least a paragraph to explain how and why it’s misleading. It’s ideally suited to firing up the part of the brain that does confirmation bias.

          • Corey says:

            Anyone can investigate, see above. Motivated people not in government employ have, and have come up empty-handed.

      • Gazeboist says:

        Part of the reason people don’t like passports is that a drivers’ license is usually more convenient. A federal ID more convenient than a drivers’ license (like, say, one that fit in your wallet, didn’t require that you learn to drive, and was issued to minors) might see wider adoption. The only problem is getting non-government or perhaps non-federal people checking the ID to believe the thing is real. Compare people getting accused of counterfeiting when they try to pay for something with a $50 bill or one of those new-ish $100 bills.

        • Nope says:

          one of those new-ish $100 bills.

          My experience is that old bills (no strips? no watermarks?) get much more scrutiny than new ones, but that may be regional.
          Which leads me to put forth one of my pet theories that might actually get SSC-commentariat purchase: we need some updates to our cash in the US. But if you all want to argue about that, make a new thread, I’d say.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I’ve got very little direct experience there. I just know of one famous story about someone getting in trouble at a Taco Bell or somesuch over a $50. When I first saw one of the $100s, my first thought was, “this looks like play-money” (mostly because of the plastic ribbon in the middle, but also the nonstandard font and coloring of the denomination number), but it’s entirely possible that the 2013 $100 bills have only ever been refused in my imagination.

          • Nope says:

            Gazeboist: put yourself in a cashier’s shoes. They may not see that many $100s, but over time they see a lot more new $100s than old ‘uns. And the old ones lack the security features they’ve gotten used to looking for.

            Old cash is fishier than new, all things considered, I’d say. Not to say that the 2013 change wasn’t significant enough to trigger some false negatives.

      • Jaskologist says:

        On the topic of vote fraud, this has been blowing up the right side of the internet for a few days now.

        Epistemic status: I have not yet dug into it myself, but it has already led to the resignations/firings of some of those involved, including the husband of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D).

        • Anonymous says:

          James O’Keefe has a history of very deceptive editing. I’d take anything he puts out with a huge grain of salt.

          Seperately and stepping back to the larger view, one flaw it the right wing internet* is the propensity to take legitimate but small or medium stories and blow them up into huge years long obsessions with all kinds of breathless exaggerated claims.

          *There are many flaws in the left wing internet too. No intention to suggest otherwise.

    • Nope says:

      I think left leaning types would be far less likely to push back against voter ID laws if there was an ID that virtually everyone had. Also I’d think those concerned about illegal immigration would be happy if the I-9 for employment required an ID that had at least as much security as typical library card. Not that any of us are in a position to be making grand bargains, but I’m just wondering if it’s a non-starter politically.

      Without diving into the specifics – and this issue is full of hairy specifics – this particular grand bargain is one where (grossly overgeneralizing) the left accedes to stricter ID requirements for voting and employment and the right accedes to giving up a philosophical objection to national ID in general. It’s not much of a bargain, because the left doesn’t give two figs for the principled objection to national ID. (Again, generalizing.)
      Link it to gun control if you want to get Democrats on board. Still unlikely, but you’re in the parking lot of the ballpark.

    • BBA says:

      In Mexico there’s a photo ID card issued by the national election authority free of charge. It is both the standard ID card used for most day-to-day activities and the only form of identification accepted for voting. There is no absentee voting allowed – you have to show up in person on election day and have your voter ID card with you. (At least, that’s how this American understands the system – can a Mexican confirm or deny?) In my view, if you combine this with moving the election to a weekend and/or allowing in-person early voting, I’d call it an improvement over what we have now in America.

      To get to the heart of the issue, if you have to pay a fee to get an ID card, then voter ID requirements are effectively a poll tax. And although in the abstract there are legitimate reasons to impose poll taxes (and literacy tests for that matter) in practice there are very good reasons why those requirements have been banned in the US today.

      • pku says:

        Israel’s the same (though I think you can also use a passport for voting). It’s why I’ve never actually voted anywhere (I was in America during every election since I turned 18).

      • Nicholas says:

        Putting it on a weekend doesn’t help, because the M-F workweek is not standard in industries with a tendency to lean hard one way or the other. You need to make it a law that anyone working on Election day may not be fired for failure to arrive at work on time, and must be back clocked in to the time when they were signed in at their polling place.

        • hey nonny nonny says:

          You need to make it a law that anyone working on Election day may not be fired for failure to arrive at work on time, and must be back clocked in to the time when they were signed in at their polling place.

          Interesting. Shall this also apply to the bus & train drivers who are transporting people on public transport? To the utility workers who man the power stations feeding the poll station? To the police & fire fighters? To the poll workers?

          I myself have seen or heard of credible accounts of people committing voting fraud, and of people being disenfranchised at the polls. I myself have never heard of anyone facing repercussions for missing work due to voting. It is my experience that both small business owners and the supervisors at Big Corp are quite keen on people getting to the polls, so I am quite dubious that this is an actual Thing.

          • Nicholas says:

            The primary repercussions of taking off work to vote is that someone is living paycheck to paycheck and will not make rent if their check is 3-5 hours short one week.
            If you are thinking I am saying that BBA’s idea would require doing something ridiculous, you have uncovered my criticism of BBA’s suggestion to do away with absentee ballots.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ hey nonny nonny
            >> You need to make it a law that anyone working on Election day may not be fired for failure to arrive at work on time, and must be back clocked in to the time when they were signed in at their polling place.

            Think of the paperwork by all concerned that would be necessary for this!

            > Shall this also apply to the bus & train drivers who are transporting people on public transport? To the utility workers who man the power stations feeding the poll station? To the police & fire fighters? To the poll workers?

            Good point. At any rate, scheduling conflict is a problem that voters should not have, and is easily solvable by Early Voting or Vote by Mail (yay, WA state!).

          • BBA says:

            It’s much easier to cast a fraudulent ballot by mail than it is to cast a fraudulent ballot in person. If you already know the names on the voter roll that won’t be voting, why bother with a bus full of homeless people to vote for them when you can just have the ballots delivered to your door? The former scenario is the reason given for requiring voter ID, but the latter is a much more practical method of doing the same thing and voter ID won’t fix it. So if you’re going down that road, you might as well go all the way.

            I brought it up because it used to be the rule in Mexico, but apparently Mexico has introduced an absentee ballot, though it’s inconvenient enough that few have been able to use it. And Mexican elections appear to be relatively fair and free insofar as the PRI doesn’t always win anymore.

          • JayT says:

            Is it easier to cast fraudulent mail in ballots? With the mail in ballots, you’d need to:
            1) Figure out who isn’t going to vote, which would probably be easy enough since pollsters can figure out likely voters.
            2) register them and have their mail in ballots sent somewhere, or stalk their houses and steal the ballots.

            The problem with this approach is that you would need a whole lot of addresses for the ballots to be sent to avoid detection, or you would need a whole lot of manpower to go around stealing ballots (or, I suppose, someone at the USPS).

            With in person voter fraud, you’d just have to figure out unlikely voters and then send a group of people to a bunch of different polling places. This seems to me to be the easier approach.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ JayT
            Anything that requires hiring other people, either as walk-in impersonators, or to steal ballots out of people’s home mailboxes, will be expensive and/or dangerous to you (too many potential squealers).

            For best ROI and less risk, you’d need a minimum of accomplices (like one or two) within the election office, each facing a serious penalty if the whole thing was exposed. This applies to either scenario: mailing them in is safer, but getting the blank ballots in the first place requires accomplices, or would be easy to trace if anyone starts looking.

            Safest is to keep certain ballots from being counted: either a box goes missing during the confusion of ballot night, or the counting/recording of certain ballots is slowed by legal maneuvers till the time runs out (see 2000).

            @ BBA (nin’ja’d)
            If you already know the names on the voter roll that won’t be voting [….] you can just have the ballots delivered to your door

            Which door is that? If each dead voter had a different address on file, the ballots will be sent to those different addresses, which will not help you.

          • BBA says:

            The ballot doesn’t have to be sent to the voter’s address on record. When I was in college I had my Maryland ballot sent to me in Rhode Island.

            I don’t know whether or how often the election authorities audit which addresses mail ballots are being sent to. I imagine it’s a low priority, and besides if you disperse the voters among multiple precincts, multiple fake addresses, etc., it can be hard to detect.

            Also, it’s possible the election authority is in on the fraud – that’s the Chicago way. In-person voting is heavily monitored by the opposition to prevent shenanigans like stuffing the ballot box, but you can’t send pollwatchers to the homes of everyone with an absentee ballot, can you?

            I don’t actually know that it’s possible to ensure every vote was cast by a legitimate voter without doing away with the secret ballot.

          • A problem with absentee ballots that I don’t think has been discussed is that they make vote buying easy. All you need is a black market for buying people’s ballots. You fill them in and mail them.

          • anon says:

            What’s so bad about vote buying?

          • JayT says:

            I would guess (hope?) that if the same address gets more than a few ballots that it would raise some kind of flag. Maybe I’m naive.

            @houseboatonstyxb, I wasn’t really thinking about people hiring voters, more along the lines of a small group deciding to stuff some ballot boxes. In my town there are 46 polling places all within seven miles, so if you got ten people together you could do a lot of damage on local elections with a list of unlikely voters and a free day. Obviously, something state-wide or nation-wide won’t be affected by this, but that isn’t really the point.

            I agree that the best way to rig an election would be to have someone inside the election office, or the USPS, but if we are just talking about a random group of people wanting to commit voter fraud, I think in person would be easier than trying to get mail in ballots.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ David Friedman
            A problem with absentee ballots that I don’t think has been discussed is that they make vote buying easy. All you need is a black market for buying people’s ballots. You fill them in and mail them.

            At best that could get pretty expensive. It also creates a lot of potential squealers.

            @ JayT
            I would guess (hope?) that if the same address gets more than a few ballots that it would raise some kind of flag.

            A good mailing list program will watch for that as an error.

            I wasn’t really thinking about people hiring voters, more along the lines of a small group deciding to stuff some ballot boxes. In my town there are 46 polling places all within seven miles, so if you got ten people together you could do a lot of damage on local elections with a list of unlikely voters and a free day.

            The election office is used to providing lists of likely voters, or all voters. But getting them to make and give out a list of unlikely voters might draw some attention.

            Ten is fewer potential squealers, but if one does get caught he has more information to give. A real life prisoner’s dilemma?

            if we are just talking about a random group of people wanting to commit voter fraud, I think in person would be easier than trying to get mail in ballots.

            If all you’re doing is supplying a list of unlikely voters, then that’s pretty good. But getting a list of unlikely voters without danger to yourself is … unlikely.

          • Houseboat quotes me:

            @ David Friedman
            A problem with absentee ballots that I don’t think has been discussed is that they make vote buying easy. All you need is a black market for buying people’s ballots. You fill them in and mail them.

            Houseboat responds:

            “At best that could get pretty expensive. It also creates a lot of potential squealers.”

            The squealer knows that he sold his ballot to someone he doesn’t know who presumably resold it to someone who wants to influence the election. I don’t see the problem for the principals.

            So far as cost is concerned, I expect a lot of people who don’t bother to vote would be happy to sell their ballot for ten dollars or so. In a close election, say House, Senate, Mayor or the like, a mere hundred thousand dollars might change the outcome.

            What do professionals estimate the cost per vote is of legal methods such as advertising?

          • John Schilling says:

            The election office is used to providing lists of likely voters, or all voters. But getting them to make and give out a list of unlikely voters might draw some attention.

            If Alice asks for a list of registered voters and Bob asks for a list of likely voters, don’t Alice and Bob together have a list of unlikely voters?

            I agree that it is unlikely that one could carry out a large-scale vote-by-mail fraud scheme without attracting attention. What concerns me is on the one hand the difficulty of turning “some attention” into an actual end to the fraud, and on the other hand the ease of generating “some attention” for a fraud scheme that doesn’t actually exist. If one or both major parties start running campaigns based on threatening the legitimacy of the electoral process, I’m not sure there is an adequate response available.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ David Friedman
            I expect a lot of people who don’t bother to vote would be happy to sell their ballot for ten dollars or so. In a close election, say House, Senate, Mayor or the like, a mere hundred thousand dollars might change the outcome.

            Thank you for a working figure. At $10 per vote, that’s 10,000 Ballot Sellers needed. With a Walk-In Imposter plan, you might get more than one vote per Imposter; let’s call it 5,000 Imposters minimum needed to have an outcome-changing effect.

            So, on what might be called a Consequentialist view (aka “No harm no foul”), there’s no point in worrying about any Imposter operation with less than 5,000 Imposters. If you supply each Imposter with a faked id (or two or more), then difflculty of faking would be a factor. If hard-to-fake id’s did not require the voter to jump through hoops, there might be some practical solution.

            With either plan, that’s a lot of potential squealers … and with the Imposter plan, they all know who you want them to vote for.

        • JayT says:

          I’ve never understood why elections have to be done in one day. Why not make polling places available for like a week?

          Of course, I’ve also never understood why people complain about needing time off for voting when the vast majority of people can just absentee vote.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’ve never understood why elections have to be done in one day. Why not make polling places available for like a week?

            It would be impractical to embargo exit-polling data that long, and voters are demotivated by indications that their preferred candidate is going down to defeat. So for any close election, this would mean the results are practically determined by the people who show up on the first day, and their preferred candidate will wind up winning by a larger margin than they deserve.

          • youzicha says:

            Apparently the embargo is already broken though:

            Slate has challenged these assumptions in the past. We broke the embargo against publishing exit polls in 2000 and 2004. [and will do so again this time]

            It seems the cat is out of the bag… To me, it seems this kind of an embargo is more of a nice-to-have than a hard requirement. People already know quite a lot about what the vote is likely to be from polls before the election, adding some additional polls after the election begins doesn’t seem like a qualitative difference.

    • hey nonny nonny says:

      There is a horrific amount of bad faith on both (all?) sides in this issue. A great deal can be linked to the differences in values between liberals and conservatives identified by Haidt, et al. While I have my own convictions about which side is “best”, I think there has been enough ugly name calling for both sides to demand, in the interests of making progress, the setting aside claims of racist oppressive aims on the one hand, and for setting aside allegations of enabling voter fraud on the other.

      A couple things might be key to breaking the dead lock – one, that a method for the most fundamentalist sects to avoid being assigned a number be enacted. (As illogical as concerns about “the number of the beast” may be, a requirement is unlikely to pass judicial review.) And secondly, a more universal role of the id be accepted. If liberals would hold that – for instance – an id card would be valid for a no-questions issue of a concealed carry permit (Or for purchase of beer, or cigarettes, or obtaining an abortion, or for boarding a plane, or entering a federal courthouse, or being hired for a job, or some other combination that both sides wore themselves down to accepting) for the same length of time that it was valid as a voter identification, I think that a much larger portion of the right would find a way to allow a less rigorous process than is being currently proposed. And the left might be able to bring themselves to see such a thing as being desirable.

      There are non-trivial issues of verification and reliability which I think could be found to be worked though if good faith was extended. A solution perfectly acceptable to both sides is likely impossible to imagine, much less enact.

    • brad says:

      It doesn’t even have to be a national ID. When a state like Texas or North Carolina puts in place a voter ID law, why not also put in place mechanisms that ensure that everyone that wants an ID can get one without too much difficulty? I’m struggling to be charitable here but that seems like a no-brainer if voter fraud is really the concern.

      • hey nonny nonny says:

        Because we don’t, actually, want id’s to be as easy as possible for everyone to get.

        We would prefer that people who live in Greenville to not be able to vote for the mayor of Brownstone. We’d rather citizens of Mexico not receive benefits designated for US citizens. We really don’t want friends of Bin Lauden on any of our aircraft.

        There is an inherent tension between the sensitivity and specificity of refusing id’s to those who can not readily demonstrate their identity and residence. Failing to admit this is at the root of a lot of bad faith argument on both sides.

        • brad says:

          That doesn’t explain there not being an office where someone can apply to get an ID within 100 miles of some residents of Texas. That’s not about type I vs type II errors, that’s just being cheap.

          If voter fraud is such a big issue, then pony up the money.

          • hey nonny nonny says:

            There is a great deal of Texas that is more than 100 from anything. Thing is, there are not a great number of people there, either. Those same people will have to travel long distances to find a doctor, a lawyer, or a post office.

            It’s not like New England. Or LA, or Seattle. (There are 42 counties in Texas that are larger than the state of Rhode Island.)

            Besides, this is just playing along the same lines of lack of charity and assumption of bad faith – of course you’re just after oppressing people! Otherwise you would spend a great deal more money to cater to their needs!

            How about we take as a starter that there will be *some* voter fraud, *some* illegals voting, *some* people who can’t find their polling stations or read their ballot, *some* people who are actual honest to god citizens who can’t vote? That we want to keep all of these low, and that we can work together to fix these problems?

  17. Dr Dealgood says:

    So in a part OT we had a couple people self-identify as communists, which is very exciting to me.

    Can anyone who identifies as a capital-L Leftist, ideally a revolutionary Marxist, help me understand a few basic points? I’m also OK with links to FAQs or other intro-level stuff (I don’t have the time to sit down and read Das Kapital but a few thousand words on a blog is fine).

    1. I’m curious about how class and wealth intersect. A white collar salaried worker can have a net worth far in excess of a blue collar small business owner*. For example, a trader at a hedge fund is a much more prototypical capitalist than a self-employed plumber despite the fact that only the latter actually owns any capital. How does Marxist class analysis deal with this?

    *I think the terms for these situations are labor aristocracy and petite bourgeois respectively, but that might be a mistake on my part.

    2. The end goal of communism, as I understand it, sounds like it lacks specialization of labor:

    In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

    Taken literally, this is very difficult to comprehend. Is there a straightforward explanation of how this is supposed to work?

    3. Historically, Marxism and human evolution haven’t gotten along well. But one can imagine syntheses where, e.g., genetic drift and positive selection for class-based niches cause distinct patterns of behavioral and physiological traits in subpopulations over centuries of living in societies with specialization of labor. Has anyone attempted to reconcile Darwinian evolution and Marxist theory this way?

    Note: If this isn’t addressed to you, please don’t jump in to refute claims or to offer your own explanations. I’m specifically looking for descriptions of people’s beliefs.

    • Alliteration says:

      Maybe read the Communist Manifesto? It may not reflect the views of modern communists though.

      • birdboy2000 says:

        It doesn’t reflect the views of Marx later in life either. It’s okay as a starting point but not a great guide overall.

    • cassander says:

      >. For example, a trader at a hedge fund is a much more prototypical capitalist than a self-employed plumber despite the fact that only the latter actually owns any capital. How does Marxist class analysis deal with this?

      Not a lefty, but the plumber is textbook petite bourgeoisie. The hedge fund trader, marx really doesn’t have an answer for. Despite writing a 1000 page book called Capital, Marx never really engages with economic risk.

      • Anonymous says:

        Despite writing a 1000 page book called Capital, Marx never really engages with economic risk.

        Did anything like hedge fund trading actually exist at the time Marx wrote? I genuinely have no idea, but I have a vague impression that the operations of capital were significantly more primitive in that era, e.g. no concept of the limitation of liability.

        • cassander says:

          Well there’s not really such a thing has hedge fund trading. A hedge fund is just a particular type of fund that makes broad bets that will pay off a lot if certain conditions happen (e.g. if oil prices go up) while attempting to minimize all other risks (hence the hedge).

          But yes, sophisticated financial markets existed in Marx’s day. They had been around for a [couple centuries](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam_Stock_Exchange) at that point. Certain types of finance, like insurance, go back even further. Whenever you read a 19th century novel about an English fortune work “X pounds a year”, they’re probably talking about government bonds. Engels, at the very least should have known about them, but Marx seems to have been completely oblivious.

          • different anon says:

            I thought those steady incomes were from land.

          • cassander says:

            There were some large estates, but has never produced steady, reliable incomes. And a lot of those big estates were money sinks. For reliable income in 19th century UK, you bought government debt, which there was a great deal of after the Napoleonic wars.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, it always struck me as odd that the incomes were so stable, but it’s fiction. But Google does tell me that Austen actually uses the word “percent” several times.

        • Ricardo was earlier than Marx and made his fortune as a speculator in London. Probably not that similar to modern hedge fund trading, but certainly dealing with risk.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      The plumber in #1 is petit (or petty) bourgeois, which Marx sees as being simultaneously being squeezed by the haute (high) bourgeoisie’s greater wealth and pushed towards proletarianization, while aspiring to join the haute bourgeoisie. They might end up on either side when the revolution comes.

      The hedge fund trader’s own role is tied up with that of the industry he’s involved in and Marxist (highly negative) views of such, but the question of well-paid white collar workers in general is a massive one which Marxists disagree on – views range from seeing them as proletarians every bit as exploited by the bourgeoisie to seeing them as adjuncts of capital.

      My personal view is seeing white-collar workers as also being screwed over by capitalism and having some revolutionary potential, but being wary that the kind of wealth they hold makes them in many cases aspiring to join the bourgeoisie, and perhaps doing better off now than they would be in a more equal society – a position kind of similar to the petit bourgeoisie. Not an inherently counterrevolutionary class, but also not an inherently revolutionary one.

      To say that #2 is a complex question which Marxists disagree on is a massive, massive understatement, and I wish I had a firmer grasp of theory and could give you a good answer. Go start a thread on 8chan’s /leftypol/ on the subject (or the other ones for that matter) if you want good answers. I think there will be a degree of specialization after the revolution, but at the same time that it might not be as extreme as today.

      The point of that passage, as I see it, is to give people more freedom to contribute to economic production as they choose and not be locked into doing one thing all the time or facing desperate poverty, not towards despecialization for despecialization’s own sake. But some people do enjoy doing one thing far more than others and I don’t want to deny anyone that.

      Marxists will tend to deny the premise of #3, because Marx was talking about social and not biological factors.

  18. gbdub says:

    Heads up for space geeks: the return-to-flight of the Orbital ATK Antares rocket, carrying a resupply mission to the ISS, is scheduled for tonight at 7:40 Eastern time.

    If you live anywhere near the east coast of the US, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see the launch.

    Godspeed Antares!

    • James says:

      Thanks for saying that! I was driving around tonight and saw the strangest thing in the sky. Ha, that was it.

      • Gbdub says:

        Glad you got to spot it! If it’s not too nosy, may I ask about where you were when you saw it?

        Another fun thing for sky watchers, with berthing planned for this Sunday, on a dark night you may be able to spot Cygnus following the ISS by a few minutes in the next few days. Google ISS tacking for coverage maps and where to look.

        • James says:

          Around 8:30pm in Charlotte. I’m concerned about my apathy to the UFO. I was working at the time and I must have been distracted. Now I wish I had stared at it longer.

          I’ll be in the mountains Sunday! Thanks for the continual heads up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks! I saw it in suburban philadelphia shortly after launch. I drove 3 minutes to the nearest hill, but I thought that the odds were pretty bad. It was visible just barely above the trees. I’m not sure if I saw the first or second burn. I was surprised how slowly it moved (I guess because it wasn’t very transverse). It was the orange color that made it clear that it wasn’t an airplane.

      • gbdub says:

        Glad you saw it! From Philly it would have been theoretically visible from about mid-stage 1 on (about a minute and a half after liftoff), but that’s “above the horizon”, so not sure how much the trees affected you. And yeah, at that point it’s moving up pretty fast – but away from you much faster.

        The stage 2 motor is solid propellant, and likely left a visible airborne plume for a long time (if James saw it as late as 8:30, it was probably mostly leftover plume that he saw). Stage 1 is LOX/Kerosene, which burns clean but is a little more orangey than the solid flame, which is bright white. There was a relatively long coast between the two stages, so if you were able to see staging it would have looked like you lost it for 30 seconds or so followed by another bright light igniting and moving on.

        • James says:

          Are there any videos of it going up? I think it was between 8-830pm. It had a large fiery orange tail and it looked very slow moving.

  19. Sandy says:

    Nick Land has a piece on fascism up on The Daily Caller. Which surprised me because I think of the Caller as a fairly low-quality joint (front page includes “18 of Emily Ratajkowski’s sexist moments”, which I think The Federalist would have omitted).

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Really good article.

    • cassander says:

      I know a bunch of people who work for the Caller. They’re nice guys, but after having had explained to me their detailed criteria they use to decide for which “teacher sleeps with student” scandals gets publicized (they apparently have a guy whose beat that it. he does other stuff too), I can’t say you’re wrong.

      That said, Land gets the important point right, that there’s no non-pejorative definition of fascism that doesn’t encompass most of the modern world.

      • What are the criteria?

        • cassander says:

          It has to be a male student with a female teacher. The student had to be a minimum age (maybe 15?). The teacher had to be at least a 6 out of 10 attractiveness wise. I vaguely recall there was another one but can remember.

          So yeah, they sell click bait, but they’re self aware about it. They have none of the vox delusions of grandeur.

          • Anonymous says:

            Since the point of the coverage is that it does not approve of the law and/or enforcement action, the sex and age are relevant criteria. Attractiveness less so.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Attractiveness less so.

            In what universe?

            It seems like the whole reason people support female teacher / male student relationships in the first place is because of the fantasy aspect. The case of an adolescent boy “scoring” with a MILFy teacher is probably the only one where a proven child molester can nonetheless be viewed as the heroine.

            Picking an ugly teacher shatters the illusion and thus any support from the general public.

            (Speaking of, are there any good overviews on ‘forced to penetrate’ / female-on-male rape? I’ve never been able to get a good mental image of how exactly that works or where the trauma comes from. It’s just a bit hard to grasp.)

          • Anonymous says:

            Attractiveness is relevant to the propaganda aspect of the articles. But I don’t think anyone proposes a legal change to which it would be relevant. I said less relevant, not irrelevant.

            sweeneyrod: huh?

          • cassander says:

            I think you all are misunderstanding the intent behind the rules. It’s not ideological, it’s purely about getting clicks.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            (Speaking of, are there any good overviews on ‘forced to penetrate’ / female-on-male rape? I’ve never been able to get a good mental image of how exactly that works or where the trauma comes from. It’s just a bit hard to grasp.)

            Well, even if a guy’s not thinking about sex, physical stimulation is often enough to get an erection. Admittedly I’ve not thought about the mechanics much, but if you tie a man down and stimulate his penis, maybe that would work?

          • JayT says:

            Viagra would do the trick as well.

          • Anonymous says:

            Maybe it’s not lobbying for a change in the law, but it is selecting the cases to outrage the reader, not just for fantasy. Mr X calls these women “proven child molesters,” but the readers have sympathy because they disagree.

          • A woman told me about getting her husband drunk during the superbowl so he’d have unprotected sex with her. She wanted a child. He didn’t.

            She told me this as a funny story because her son was a sports fan.

            I asked her how her husband took it. She looked sad and said it might have had something to do with their divorce. My impression was that this was the first time she’d thought about it from that angle.

            siderea (someone I link to occasionally here) has suggested to me that one of the reasons men have trouble understanding consent is that they’re assumed to not have the right to turn down sex with conventionally attractive women. What do you think about the theory?

          • Anonymous says:

            Nancy, did you mean to post that comment here, or in the consent thread? I suppose that it might relevant to why people think better of statutory rape of males than of females.

            Your anecdote is directly opposed to Sidera’s theory. It is entirely about the fact that men have the right to turn down sex, at least unprotected sex. Maybe it demonstrates that women have the right to trick men, but that is a separate issue.

            Is Sidera’s theory relevant to statutory rape? I think not. The whole point of statutory rape is society punishes the adult to avoid having to deal with whether the minor consents. That the boy will consent to sex, or just go along with it because he doesn’t have the right to say no, is exactly the situation in which it would be necessary to punish the adult woman. It would be more relevant if instead of men not having the right to turn down sex, it were instead that men didn’t have the right to not want sex, either prospectively or retrospectively.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz

            they’re assumed to not have the right to turn down sex with conventionally attractive women

            I think men know they have the right, but they assume (generally speaking, correctly) that turning down sex is a major insult to the woman.

          • I meant to post it here, since there was a question about whether raping men by enveloping them without consent is feasible.

            Siderea’s point is relevant, I think, because if I read the woman’s attitude correctly, she hadn’t grasped the idea for about a decade that her husband had a right to set limits for what sex he was going to have.

          • “I think men know they have the right, but they assume (generally speaking, correctly) that turning down sex is a major insult to the woman.”

            Isn’t there also a risk of being accused of being gay/insufficiently masculine?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz

            Isn’t there also a risk of being accused of being gay/insufficiently masculine?

            I would expect that for men who refuse a woman the accusation is usually not credible (that is, it’s alphas who refuse women, not betas).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Dr Dealgood:

            The most common cases where it isn’t statutory rape of a male student by a female teacher are probably where a guy is drunk enough not to be able to consent (which is pretty drunk) but can still get it up, or situations where theyve been making out or whatever and the guy doesn’t want to escalate things further – but what is he going to do? Fight her off? If he uses physical force to resist he is more likely to get in trouble than she is.

    • dragnubbit says:

      So if you stretch the word fascism to describe the current global order of western democracies, it appears to have no meaning, which you then ascribe to the world takeover by ‘fascism’. This makes his current promotion of whatever-he-is-calling-it-nowadays … what? Jealousy? Seems like semantic mumbo-jumbo to me.

      The world is moving chaotically but steadily towards order since WWII and subsequent events have essentially frozen in place national boundaries. Exceptions exist, but their scale is peanuts compared to pre-WWII. By no coincidence the world is steadily lifting itself out of poverty and steadily becoming literate at the same time. Those who do not like it can become stateless cosmopolitans in Singapore and befuddle people for a living. Isn’t that the best possible sign of a great world?

      • Nicholas says:

        Neoliberalism can be loosely defined as “We’ll take all that National Socialism, except the part about executing all the members of undesirable ethnic sects and trying to win land wars in Eastern Europe.”

    • Tekhno says:

      I like Nick Land a lot, but there’s no need to continue the lazy degradation of the language just so we can make progressives feel uncomfortable. Then again, “horrorism” is his thing, so whatever.

      In my mind, Fascism, the actual phenomena and not just the general purpose pejorative, can be defined as Totalitarian Corporatist Ultranationalist Dictatorship.

      1: Fascism is totalitarian because its attitude towards the state is that rights only exist in relation to it, and the state is treat as an organism in of itself. A totalitarian state embeds the aesthetic of the state everywhere. The flags and mark of the party hang everywhere and private organizations are emblazoned with the ideological slogans of the singular party. There is a single party and the activities of all private organizations are coordinated to fit an ideological mold. The Nazis called this process Gleichschaltung.

      2: Fascism espouses corporatism in which free party democracy is replaced with industrial democracy, where private organizations like business and labor negotiate nationally in a single chamber, with the dictator having final say and providing national direction to disputes. The Chamber of Corporations was implemented in Italy. This is a minor feature. Instead of officialized corporatism, National Socialist Germany had corporations form industrial cartels to regulate prices. Nationalization was proposed but only enacted in a few places and was never the main feature of Fascism as Land claims it was; the corporatism of Italian Fascism in particular depended on organizations that were owned privately, and coordinated centrally, with the government as referee.

      3: Fascism is ultranationalist in that the glory of the nation-state in its struggles is paramount above other concerns. Whereas the Italian model was more civic-based, the National Socialists took this in an ethnic direction, basing their conception of struggle on racial dynamics. Fascism develops a view of its people as inherently superior to others.

      4: Fascism is a dictatorship with either a single head of government or a small council at the top having final say over everything. There is no balance of powers. The Nazis in particular had Fuhrerprinzip in which everything stemmed from the top to the bottom, proceeding according to appointment by superiors.

      Now, do Western nations fit any of these descriptors?

      No Western nations are totalitarian, and no Western nations coordinate everything according to the aesthetics of a single party. Liberal democracies simply don’t allow for this.

      No Western nations follow either corporatism (outside of the kooky Ron Paul definition) or block cartelization. Corporatist ideas have had influence on the tripartite labor bargaining systems in the Scandinavian countries, but corporatism neither originates with Fascism (more with Catholicism), nor is alone sufficient to be described as Fascist. Neither is the essential feature of Fascism “the war economy” as Land thinks it is, because otherwise pre-Fascist states that engaged in “war socialism” would have been Fascist before Fascism even existed.

      No Western nations are ultranationalist. Many of them are barely nationalist. They engage in extensive military activity and intervention, but it’s all treat in a very cynical way. Nothing about bringing glory to the inherently superior people over their enemies. There is no “total” enemy in the role that the Jews (and financial elites) served to the Nazis. The conservative half of America perhaps wants to treat Islam this way, but they haven’t had much success at that. Even Bush reiterated that he was not at war with Islam as he launched his War on Terror.

      There’s a great degree of anger about this and there’s a burgeoning ultranationalist undercurrent in right wing voting blocks as we see with Trump in America, and Marine Le Pen in France, but these movements have to yet to have success, and even if they did have success, ultranationalism is merely one component of Fascism, and not sufficient on its own.

      No Western nations are dictatorships. Plain and simple. Democratic Fascism is an oxymoron. Fascism might be populist and emerge from democracy, but it makes sure to pull the ladder up afterwards.

      Conclusion: We live in a very unfascist world. You can’t just say Fascism = bundling, so therefore economic centralization is Fascism, as you’d be left having to brush over why other powers opposed Fascism, and how exactly centralized models that predate Fascism can be defined by a movement that came long afterwards. Fascism is a phenomena highly particular to the inter-war period. It won’t be resurrected without similar conditions.

      • youzicha says:

        I mean, but Land’s point is that the definition of Fascism that you use is a “western” one—if so, we should not be surprised that no western country fits it, because it was designed that way. Similarly, post-war historians under Stalin talked a lot about Fascism too, but did not stress the totalitarian aspect. Modern Russia talks about Fascism in Ukraine a lot, but they don’t stress the nationalism.

        I guess Land’s thesis is that all this discourse fails to carve reality at its joins, and omits the thing that most distinguished fascism from pre-war society.

  20. Kevin C. says:

    Any thoughts here on the “science decolonizers”/#ScienceMustFall at University of Cape Town?

    Essentially, these students believe that modern scientific understanding is too Eurocentric. One explained:

    “I have a question for all the science people. There is a place in KZN called Umhlab’uyalingana. They believe that through the magic’ you call it black magic’ they call it witchcraft’ you are able to send lightening to strike someone. Can you explain that scientifically because it’s something that happens?”

    Many people laughed at this remark because, well, witchcraft is not something that happens. But according to the student, witchcraft is like Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity—it’s just one way of explaining the world, among many.

    “Decolonising the science would mean doing away with it entirely and starting all over again to deal with how we respond to the environment and how we understand it,” the student continued.

    Cultural relativism gone too far? To much “decolonialization” rhetoric? Or just college students being college students.

    • Lumifer says:

      Stupid people are stupid.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      It’s just more postmodernist garbage. This happened before, in the nineties “science wars,” and seems like it will keep happening for quite some time.

      Critical theory is too politically useful to the elites for it to go anywhere, while by the same token science is too practically useful to risk hamstringing it. So for the moment the two are going to end up sharing a lot of the same space.

    • Two McMillion says:

      I think we should see about getting lightning to strike our enemies before we make any judgments here.

    • Aapje says:

      It’s just a more extreme variant of the ‘noble savage’ rhetoric that is popular among the regressive left, where all ills in the world are blamed (exclusively) on white men.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I keep saying SJ is anti-enlightenment and anti-rational, and they keep providing evidence for it. Fortunately for them, their epistemology does not admit to coming to conclusions by weighing evidence.

    • roystgnr says:

      I strongly believe that the “our witchcraft can strike people with lightning; can you answer that with science” students should not be shot with Tasers, but I fear that if it were to happen I would be unable to keep from laughing anyway.

      More seriously: I miss when being Leftist meant that you were opposed to stupid anti-scientific religious claims.

      • Gbdub says:

        Let’s go Old Testament and set up a Moses vs Pharaoh’s priests duel. Witch vs Scientist at 10 paces. Witch calls upon the goddess of lightning! It’s not very effective. Scientist prays to Tesla and fires his Taser. It’s super effective!

      • Anonymous says:

        I miss when being Leftist meant that you were opposed to stupid anti-scientific religious claims.

        When was this? During the heyday of forced sterilization for social progress? Lysenkoism? The Great Leap Forward? Second-wave feminism? Third-wave feminism?

        • lvlln says:

          Probably referring to things like evolution vs. creationism or climate science vs. climate science denial, where leftists have been on the side of science and opposed to stupid anti-scientific religious claims for a while now.

          I grew up in a time when those were major talking points, and I ended up internalizing the idea that the left was the pro-science side of the political spectrum.

          Sadly, incidents like this and the recent rise of SJWs has taught me that I was completely and utterly mistaken. Perhaps we’re just better at using academia to obscure our science denialism. One hopes that as the science denial becomes more blatant like that video, more people get disillusioned.

          • I think the usual pattern, left and right, is to support science when it produces the conclusions you like, oppose it when it doesn’t.

            The left has been generally hostile to the evidence that intelligence is to a significant degree heritable for quite a long time. More generally, fundamentalists on the right say they don’t believe in evolution. People on the left say they do believe in evolution but then make arguments that imply they don’t.

            My standard example is the argument from women having a different distribution of outcomes from men to the conclusion that they are being discriminated against. That assumes that there are no significant innate differences. But evolution implies that we are as if designed for reproductive success, males and females differ precisely in their role in reproduction, so it would be surprising if the same distribution of characteristics was optimal for both.

          • Aapje says:

            But evolution implies that we are as if designed for reproductive success, males and females differ precisely in their role in reproduction, so it would be surprising if the same distribution of characteristics was optimal for both.

            It’s not even necessary to make a theoretical assertion here, the proof of biological differences between the sexes is undeniable:
            – Penis & flat chest vs vagina & breasts
            – Men are clearly much stronger on average

            So the only reasonable argument that can be had is the extent to which the sexes differ, not that they do.

            Although what I find amusing, is that a major disagreement that I have with the mainstream left, is that I clearly believe that men & women differ less than they do. Unlike me, they generally seem to believe that all gender differences are taught. However, they are generally so convinced that people cannot resist this programming, that it seems to me that their position is indistinguishable from believing in huge natural differences. When they are willing to discriminate against men just for being men, without actual evidence that those men are ‘nurtured’ into toxic masculinity, it just ends up being discrimination that is indistinguishable from discrimination based on a belief in natural differences.

          • lvlln says:

            @Aapje

            That phenomenon to me seems to be part of a misunderstanding of science. A misunderstanding that I think is willful. They don’t understand or seem to want to understand that there’s no reason to believe that any given individual in a category has any characteristics generally attributed to that category. That in humans, virtually no non-trivial or non-definitional characteristic has an incidence rate of 100%. How often do you see statements of the sort “Men tend to have greater upper body strength than women” responded with “But what about that woman Olympian who can lift 450lbs? Checkmate, misogynist!”

            So when they see a man, they don’t see an individual who may or may not have various characteristics that are common in men, they see all those characteristics grouped together manifested in human form. Same goes for women, whites, Asians, etc. This seems to me to be the major failing of privilege theory that dominate far left social discourse right now. It’s very clearly the creationism/AGW denial of the left.

          • lvlln says:

            @David Friedman

            I think you may be generally right, though I think the statement “People on the left say they do believe in evolution but then make arguments that imply they don’t” isn’t quite right. It’s more like, they make arguments that imply that they don’t understand evolution. It’s like how someone can believe that AGW is happening while also mistakenly believing that protecting the ozone layer will significantly help to stop or slow down AGW. Evolution is just some idea in biology that they know is True, they don’t bother with learning the actual details and exact implications.

            With respect to denial of m/f biological differences – and HBD-denial in general – I think it comes from basically an overactive immune response to recent atrocities that were partially justified by arguments about biological differences. To protect against that, they’ve taken as dogma the unproven assertion that there are no biological differences between humans of different categories, at least when it comes to categories that they consider valuable (as an aside, the idea that HBD doesn’t at all imply that any given individual has any less moral worth than any other individual doesn’t seem to occur to them – that THAT’S where bigotry needs to be argued against and stopped and snuffed out, not in the facts which should be empirically determined).

            Considering the level of those atrocities, such a strong immune response isn’t entirely unjustified. But when it manifests in outright science denial, it’s harmful and (hopefully) unsustainable. I think we’re beginning to see it breaking down. I hope, anyway.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @lvlln:

            I don’t think you can ascribe that to left-wing politics. It’s a super-common fallacy that starts very early, right along with “you don’t like this music? Well I mean it’s not like YOU are on the radio!” It’s a basic human problem – we assign more value to individual examples than to statistics.

          • lvlln says:

            @dndnrsn

            I’m not ascribing it to leftist politics, at least not in the sense that it’s unique or particular to leftist politics. Yes, it’s super common, and IMHO rightist politics suffer from it even more, and in more areas. That doesn’t make leftists committing and encouraging this fallacy any less harmful.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I think it’s not something that needs politics to exist, even. It is unfortunate that it gets promoted though.

          • Aapje says:

            @lvlln

            I think that a defining aspect is that it is collectivist. There is a denial that people have free will to make their own decisions and are instead merely pawns controlled by greater forces. As such, people are collectively guilty or collectively victimized; depending on the grouping that is believed to define them. A popular statement among the regressive left is ‘[oppressed group] cannot be [-ist] against [oppressor group], which illustrates the black/white dichotomy. Of course, the logical corollary is that ‘[oppressor group] is always [-ist] against [oppressed group]’. This is often expressed by claiming that the ‘oppressor group’ cannot avoid having privilege, which is a vague term that motte-and-baileys between benefits that others give a ‘privileged’ person and bad behavior by that person him/herself.

            If you dig into social justice thinkers, there are very strong links to communism, which makes similar collective judgments, but on class, rather than gender/race/etc.

            IMO, collectivist thinking is very dangerous, as it is an enabler of horrible treatment of people ‘for the greater good.’

    • Nicholas says:

      It’s the impulse behind “teaching the controversy” about young earth creationism, but channeled through a pagan instead of a Baptist.

      • Anon. says:

        Of course, pagans are famous for their religious creeds focusing on decolonization and anti-eurocentrism.

        • BBA says:

          Right now Christianity is closely associated with the Right and all other religious views are associated with the Left. The arguments follow accordingly. (I’ve seen some shifts towards Islam = Left, non-Islam = Right but we aren’t there yet.)

    • BBA says:

      I wonder how many of these students came to these beliefs sincerely, versus how many are just looking for something new to rebel against. It’s one thing if you’ve been taught witchcraft at home and physics in school, and you don’t trust schools – they were teaching lies in other subjects under apartheid not too long ago. It’s another thing if you only discovered witchcraft from your classmates at the university, and figure that because it’s not European it must be right.

    • Skef says:

      I have what I expect are the same views as most people here about what is likely true and false and how to go about evaluating claims. But really, why wouldn’t most South Africans be in a fucked up epistemic state right now? Why wouldn’t they feel the need to go back to something like first principles, with all the messiness that implies?

      Give them some time to work things out for themselves.

      • Lumifer says:

        But really, why wouldn’t most South Africans be in a fucked up epistemic state right now?

        Um, and what’s special about South Africa “right now”?

        • Skef says:

          The recentness with respect to cultural change of Apartheid?

          Should we rehash here all the screwed-up attitudes about the civil war that remain 150 years on?

          • Lumifer says:

            Sure. Tell me how the recentness of apartheid (and the people in the video sure don’t look like they are old enough to have experienced it) makes you deny science. Bonus points if the same explanation applies to slavery 150 years ago.

            Double bonus points if the explanation naturally doesn’t apply to Jews who were segregated and discriminated against until the end of WW2, more or less.

          • Skef says:

            You have a different understanding of the Weimar Republic than I do.

            Anyway, your question is the wrong place to start. Why don’t you offer a brief explanation of why an American with a typical high-school education accepts “science” given the equations they’ve learned and the few dozen experiments they’ve performed or witnessed.

            A hint: it’s not because of those classes.

          • JayT says:

            I would guess the main reason the average American high schooler accepts science is because they are told it is just so, but I would guess almost an equal reason is that they see what science gives them (eg, iPhones, the internet, space shuttles, etc).

          • Skef says:

            JayT: Seems about right to me.

            My basic point is that when the people (broadly speaking) telling you that science is correct are the same ones who thought Apartheid was an appropriate framework for your family to live under as recently as the 90s that puts you in a shitty epistemic situation. That kind of cultural trust in institutions has to be rebuilt internally through investigation. There need to be people you feel you can look to for such answers and those people need to be giving the answers in question.

            The woman in the video is calling for a kind of pluralism of explanation about an issue that *we* have good evidence from past investigations does not call for pluralism. I see no reason that evidence won’t eventually be convincing for most folks in this movement. But I refuse to look at actual black South Africans in 2016 who have this kind of attitude in the same way as someone in the U.S. who wants to “decolonize” their chemistry department. I would expect the latter person to have some explanation for their lack of cultural charity and for them to apply it non-selectively.

            [The point about technology is relevant, but of course people have experience of technology working in their everyday lives. One could even maintain an “I’m suspicious of this but it’s still too useful to set aside for now” attitude about things like smartphones. And anyway a tentative expectation of plural explanations wouldn’t necessarily call for alternate explanations of specific bits of technology.]

          • Anon. says:

            My basic point is that when the people (broadly speaking) telling you that science is correct are the same ones who thought Apartheid was an appropriate framework for your family to live under as recently as the 90s that puts you in a shitty epistemic situation.

            …where do you think they get leftism from? Do you think “decolonization” and “anti-eurocentrism” are indigenous ideologies? These things are pushed by the (broadly speaking) same people who colonized them in the first place.

          • Sandy says:

            I don’t think “decolonization” is something the West pushes; colonized people have resisted colonization for centuries, be it physical or cultural. The whole idea that there are “Western” models of science rather than universal methods and truths might be something pushed by Western academia, however.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Skef

            We… have a radically different idea of science. You think that science and trust in science is based on “cultural trust in institutions” which may or may not be lacking. I think that science and trust in science is based on things working, empirically, in real life.

            I don’t expect people to trust science because a high priest of science tells them so — high priests spout a great deal of gibberish. I expect people to trust science because it produce results: it gives them a metal contraption which kills people at a distance, it gives them a box which stays cold inside, it gives them a pill which cures their sickness.

            And that’s without going into all the other problems with your theory, starting with asking which scientific institution exactly told these young people (and not their parents or grandparents) that apartheid is how science says one should organize the society; and ending with pointing out that most of their ideology comes from dead white men, anyway.

          • Alex says:

            Lumifer:

            You have science and engineering confused?!

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Alex

            No, I don’t.

          • nimim. k.m. says:

            @Lumifer

            >I don’t expect people to trust science because a high priest of science tells them so — high priests spout a great deal of gibberish. I expect people to trust science because it produce results: it gives them a metal contraption which kills people at a distance, it gives them a box which stays cold inside, it gives them a pill which cures their sickness.

            Check your expectations. Most people don’t operate on this level: they take the boxes and pills; and yet continue to believe whatever they find convenient to keep on believing. I have no idea what they primarily trust, but it’s probably more the “doctors who wear white doctor outfits” than independent thought about benefits of medical science.

            Anecdote. One of the top students in my class during secondary school (consistently very good marks in all science subjects, biology, chemistry, physics, etc — which should give some background knowledge about how science operates, in ideal world) was also very non-critical about chakras and reiki and homeopathy. “It just works!”

            Another anecdote. I have a relative who is an engineer and creates and applies lots of scientific knowledge about mechanics, electricity, and so on, and remains totally oblivious to anything in so far as it does not agree with his preconceived notions (ranging from evolution-denial to “gay is evil sickness” and “all members of certain races are stupider than me”).

            Most the people I know or have known in past don’t think about science very much, let alone trust it.They just do whatever is the normal thing to do in their social group, like buy an iPhone and treat it (like everything electronic) a bit like a magical apparatus, go to a doctor when they are sick, buy whatever “health stuff” their friends eat, be worried about “radiation”, and are “totally a Pisces because that’s just like me”. They say whether they believe in evolution depending on stuff like what their friends believe, if they go to church and what political party they vote for, and certainly don’t understand how it actually works in either case.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            nimim’s observations about chakras, evolution, and astrology seem actually consistent to me with Lumifer’s about empiricism.

            The top student believes in giving the right answer on school tests. A mechanical engineer believes in mechanical principles. Scientists believe in their research. These yield empirical results – the high grades come, the gears turn, and the research results in grants.

            Belief in evolution, b